♥ New Year’s Resolutions/ Motivations!♥

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone’s December weeks have been filled with great memories to end 2016! I wanted to open up discussion to the idea of making New Year’s resolutions. I have to admit I do not do these every year. However, being graduated from college and finally having time to dive into my passions, I want to hold myself accountable to continue to push boundaries and have more amazing experiences.

I have categorized my resolutions into the following: fitness, health, career development, creativity, and adventures. These may seem like too many categories to successfully target, but they’re all really important for goal setting. I hope you find them relatable in your own goal setting for 2017.

➳ FITNESS (and a little about my fitness story)

Fitness has meant different things to me over the years. Being a college athlete meant planned workouts with specific programs that catered to better performance in one sport. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was a bit disoriented once I left the security blanket of college athletics, because I didn’t know what to train for anymore. I didn’t have matches to prepare for. When you don’t have something to work for, you lose motivation sometimes. But do you want to know what my motivation became? The simple answer is just self contentment.

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Above is a transformation picture I posted on my Instagram recently showing a major time jump between 2012 (left) to today (right). In 2012 I was going to modeling agencies, and spending too much time on the elliptical and not enough time hitting the weights. I wasn’t completely confident in my body. I was never empowered by it. Fast forward to today when I’m graduated and spending 4 days a week at least smashing out weight training (with a trainer once a week!). I’ve never seen more progress, and I’m beginning to love my body for real, for my own standards of beauty. Self-love is powerful, guys.

That being said, here are my fitness goals:

♥ Build my bum. I honestly really want to gain this curve, and I’m making progress! Whenever I do legs I make an effort to work my bum.

♥ Strengthen my lower back. It’s a common complaint to avoid “muffin tops,” and my lower back has never been really targeted in previous workout routines. Hi deadlifts!

♥ Be able to do 3 legitimate pull-ups. I say 3 because I’ve never done one in my life. I use the assisted pull-up machine for now, so I’m preparing for that magic.

♥ See a steady progression of my body fat percentage. When I started my personal training, there was nothing wrong with my body. I would wear crop tops or short shorts or even wear bikinis all summer long, I just didn’t have the muscle. A tip: keep lifting HEAVIER. Ladies, do not stay at the plateau of 5 or 10 lb dumbbells. Keep going up in weight and you’ll notice that you are actually shredding and losing fat, not “bulking.”

➳ HEALTH

Always aim to prioritize a healthy lifestyle. This includes mental and physical health. If you’ve noticed potential improvements you could make throughout this year, whether large or small, really focus on those! I’m a Public Health major and a gym goer, but I still have quite a long list in my head of changes I could make in this department.

My health goals:

♥ Drink the daily recommended water intake. I am so terrible at getting my daily water. I love Kombucha and fruity things, and I often grab other options besides just water. This is a major goal of mine to boost my hydration levels. I am stoked on a christmas gift  of a filtered bottle to infuse with fruits for my water. Now I just have to use it. 🙂

♥ Get better, more regulated sleep. I got a solid 5-6 hours a night through my college career, and that’s not great. My Fitbit has been reminding me that my average need of sleep is 7 1/2 hours. Basically I was reminded that I was sleep deprived for four years.

♥ Gratitude. This world is full of so many individuals, and many do not have the opportunities we can take for granted. I want to be grateful of what I have in life and frequently remind myself of this, in order to not get negative over things that will change for the better in time.

♥ Meditation. I want to incorporate meditation into my daily routine. Whether it is 5 minutes or 20, I think this is a great way to dip out of reality and center yourself.

♥ Get more fresh air. Because fresh air, in the middle of nowhere, on top of a mountain, in the middle of a rainstorm, means a fresh mind.

♥ Focus hard on my nutrition. I need to up my protein intake given I’m a pescatarian, and I need to eat multiple small meals a day to keep me well nourished. I plan to dedicate myself to food tracking via My Fitness Pal and my Fitbit.

➳ CAREER DEVELOPMENT

We all are working towards something. College brings on that idea, and how we are released into the world of possibility, elevator talks, interviews…

I always use the process of elimination for my potential career. Internships have been helpful for me in this way to give me an idea of what I don’t want. I have recently learned I cannot work in an office full-time. I will probably be let go due to spinning in circles in my chair with zero creativity. I don’t know about you, but office settings with fluorescent lighting kill my creative vibes.

My career goals:

♥ Keep record of things I learn from each job. Likes and dislikes!

♥ Build my blog and pursue health and wellness. I love photography and writing, and sharing my health and fitness journey on Instagram and on this platform. I look forward to where this path takes me.

♥ Decide on graduate school

♥ Establish a personal brand for myself.

♥ Collaborate with a fitness brand with my blogging and online content

Essentially, I want to be a creative and make this my life and job. I see myself blogging from Iceland, or Spain, maybe even from Australia to visit my friends over there!

➳ CREATIVITY

♥ Get back into sketching. I have accumulated sketch pads and pencils that haven’t been used in under a year. I miss driving someplace to people watch and channel those sights into sketches.

♥ Start a YouTube channel. I’ve considered this for a while, but I am more used to still shots as opposed to video. We shall see!

♥ Continue with my poetry. I have been writing poetry since Freshman year of college and it’s a great mental release.

♥ Get crafty. I see things in the store like planetarium, and I tell myself I could just make one instead. And I never do. So getting more crafty is going on the list.

➳ ADVENTURES

My age group has been referred to as millennia. It is also a time in society where creatives are said to be flourishing. Companies and organizations are now seeking creative individuals to compliment their values, their missions. I want to stay creative, and stay adventurous.

♥ Go on two adventures per month at minimum. This could be a small road trip or a complete day of wandering, but this will be my bare minimum. I want to feel in the moment more, not looking towards future events. I don’t have to switch classrooms when the clock ticks anymore, so I have zero excuse not to fill my time more with adventurous activities.

♥ Set aside money for plane tickets. I want to see more places, of course. Next stop, Iceland!

*pause in the goal setting*

I want to be honest and say my three financial investments in life are currently skin care, fitness, and travel aspirations.

♥ Explore my camera more and as I add lenses and become less of an amateur, I want to collaborate more with other bloggers near me

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That was a long list, my apologies if it was a bit too much. I am a over-thinker after all.

Also, here’s tonight’s sunset.

sunset

I’d love to hear about your New Year’s Resolutions. Leave a comment with your ideas and I hope you all have a sparkly last day of the year! xx

Follow my fitness journey and health posts on my Instagram @kmzwicker

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

Weekend Outdoor Workout

Hi everyone,

In light of my long seasonal work hours this weekend, I’m posting my favorite outdoor workouts that keep me in shape when I don’t visit my gym. They’re simple, and they don’t require any extra equipment.

Cardio 

Running stairs: Your heart rate increases and the constant climbing and descending pushes your muscles to work harder. You get the cardiovascular activity as well as the muscle-building. Because of the step incline, the activity is engaging more of your leg muscles and is easier on your joints. Not to mention running stairs is great for toning your glutes.

Trail running: I personally want to encourage trail running over pavement due to the extra cushion on the joints. I’ve had experience with shin splints, and the thought of running on pavement makes me cringe. Trails are also more therapeutic, given you are surrounded by forest coverage and nature as opposed to traffic and cement.

Uphill sprinting: This is a great shorter, high intensity cardio workout

HIIT

If you have a park bench or something similar:

  1. Single leg step-ups
  2. Tricep dips
  3. Decline push-ups

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If you want to really make your arms burn:

Commandos: these are done just with your bodyweight, and they are great for toning

Push-ups: these are a standard arm workout with no equipment and done with bodyweight

For your abs:

Mountain climbers: These are so effective for the abdominals. I usually really start to feel them at 30-40 reps!

Straight leg raises: Be sure to support your back by placing your hands slightly underneath

Ab bikes: I prefer to do these slow to really target my abdominals correctly. I often see people rushing through these and I never find them as effective that way!

*For the ab exercises above, make sure to keep your core engaged the entire time to get the best possible tone*

Legs:

Squats: These are so common because they’re great for building your leg definition as well as your glute muscles. I like to get really low with my squats to better train all of my leg muscles, including my hamstrings.

Lunges: I do either reverse lunges or walking lunges, depending on space. If you have a lot of it, aim for doing 20 walking lunges each leg in one set.

*With squats and lunges, be sure not to let your knees come over your toes in sake of your form*

Ready to get outside and sweat? Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

Strength Training Myths + My Workout Tips

What’s on my mind: the idea that girls will bulk if they lift anything over 10 lbs.

I wanted to try to help this clarification, mainly because girls and women often find it questionable when built men say females won’t bulk. How do you know for sure? It actually has to do with the fact that women have much lower levels of testosterone than men. However, if you’re looking for other reasons to ease you into heavier weight training, I’ve come up with the reasons I told myself after research as well as reliance on qualified professionals.

Women tone through heavier weight training as opposed to “bulking” like men, because they don’t gain the added mass on top of the muscle. The result is toned muscle. This is a great thing, for the fat that surrounded the developed muscle reduces, and you are left with a toned physique.

It should be noted that reps and sets make a big difference to the type of training you’re trying to do, as well as recovery time. Some are training with more weight and less reps for more muscle, and some are doing less weight and more reps for more endurance. It really depends on you. Simply lifting heavier weights will not make you bulky, in fact, it’s important to increase weight to continue gaining benefits from your exercises. Your body will adjust to a stagnant routine, and you will be left with zero progress. 

Bulking is calorie dependent. If you eat more calories than you are burning, then there is a chance you will experience weight gain. And sometimes when you start lifting heavier you have a higher appetite, so make sure to follow the next tip: diet.

It’s a false assumption that increased gym time or adding weight training to your routine means you can slack more on your diet. This is not true at all! I have personally experienced myself needing more protein with my new workouts, but I focus on eating clean. Eating clean and working out will get you so much farther than you think. So much of what you see in the mirror comes from what you’re eating in the kitchen! It is said by trainers that diet is 80-90% of your fat loss. 

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I also need to pay special attention to the seemingly universal rule that women should do sets of 10 reps. It has been ingrained in our heads that we shouldn’t do more than 10 reps, when in reality we could probably do 30 per set with those small dumbbells we always carry to our corners out of everyone’s way. Listen to your body and also listen to qualified trainers that could give you a free consultation at your local gym. You may be surprised with what your body can do. 

There’s no universal workout routine for everyone. People have different body types, fat distribution and problem areas, as well as metabolisms. It’s not realistic to compare your workout routine to someone else’s to achieve your desired results.

Also take note that women you see on magazine covers that specialize in weight training also take supplements to enhance their muscles. Not everyone takes supplements. I personally just use protein powder, a plant-based one from Vega, in order to increase the protein missing from my pescatarian diet.

Your personal genetic makeup plays a huge role in how your muscle develops, as well as fat reduction. Everyone loses fat in certain places in a certain order. In other words, if you are trying to focus on two specific areas as priorities, you might lose the fat in other areas first due to your genetic makeup. This process takes time.

If you’re looking for an even leaner look, integrate cardio into your routine, but don’t overdo it and deplete the muscle you’ve worked hard for. I like to do no more than 20 minutes of cardio at my gym sessions.

There is also the theory that men and women have to train differently. This isn’t entirely true. I go through workouts with my trainer or with guy friends in the gym and I’ll do the same exercises as them. Yes, I will be using less weight, but that’s because I’m not strong enough to do the heavier weight with correct form. So do not avoid workouts thinking they are gender specific, because this is also a myth.   

Bottom line: train the way you want to train. There are many different types of training to choose from, however, adding weight training can only benefit weight loss and toning of the muscles. My current mix of training is as follows:

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) : lots of jump squats, mountain climbers, etc to boost my heart rate up

Weight training: personal training with heavier weights and getting new material!

Cardio: believe it or not I actually get very bored doing cardio now. But when I do I like to do 10 minutes warm-up doing sprint intervals on the treadmill or the elliptical, and then often end weight training with 10 minutes on the stair master. This gives me a variety. Sometimes my shins bother me from the treadmill, so if you have the same issue, choose a lower impact cardio workout with the bike or elliptical.

Yoga and Pilates: I love yoga for flexibility and Pilates for toning and core. I would highly recommend integrating them into your weekly routine, and there are plenty of online videos to follow if your schedule doesn’t allow time to go to a class. 

I hope these tips and clarifications helped anyone deciding on a new workout routine! Feel free to ask questions on the above content in the comment section below.

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For my fitness journey, refer to my Instagram. My username is @kmzwicker

Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

Low Coverage, Natural Makeup Routine

What’s on my mind:

The natural beauty of low coverage makeup. I have officially made the switch and I’m so happy with it. Below i’ll share my current makeup routine with a lower coverage as well as the benefits of going this route! Enjoy.

First off, I used to wear a foundation pretty regularly. My skin would fluctuate in clarity due to many reasons. Going back on the timeline, in high school I always wore a high coverage foundation, not necessarily out of need, but I just felt more comfortable with the extra layer. It was the Loreal Infallible foundation. Safe to say I haven’t purchased this foundation in over four years, and here’s why:

The possible drawbacks of long-wear, high coverage makeup

1. Foundation is one of the main culprits of skin problems due to makeup. It is meant to cover more, which is a temporary relief to anything you want to hide. If your skin does not need the high coverage, opt for something lighter than a foundation. Many of them cause irritation and breakouts, mainly because they don’t allow your skin to breathe. It’s understandable to wear foundation in a skin purging phase, but once your skin clears up it will thank you for the switch.

2.  Your pores will have a higher chance of getting clogged. Pore-clogging makeup is the worst, and even non-comedogenic makeup still has the ability to do so. It really depends on your skin and how often you wear high coverage. Ingredients are also an issue here- specific ones can cause congestion if your skin doesn’t react well.

3. When using high coverage makeup, you will most likely need makeup tools for cleaner and more precise application. Although you will get a better finish, these tools can cause bacteria buildup, especially if not cleaned regularly.

4. Thick makeup in the form of liquids and creams often contain more pore-clogging oils. They can even worsen acne. If you insist on using a foundation, look for terms such as “hypoallergenic”, “non-comedogenic” and “non-acnegenic” to better ensure you aren’t going to worsen any skin condition. I use the drug store brand Almay, which follows these terms and is known to be sensitive skin safe. I use the cc cream, so I can’t be much help to the foundation lines!

5. Heavy makeup, such as foundations, often make your face even more dry, and the result can be dull and flakey skin. As this happens, makeup will then sink into fine lines and worsen the appearance.

The above reasons are why I no longer wear foundations. In addition, I want to be able to still see my skin. If I’m wearing something that covers up my natural flush or my freckles, it’s a little too much. I’m on a progression with my skin to get to the point where I can forgo makeup whenever and feel just as confident. I will definitely post about this once I get there! For now i’ll use the cc cream. 🙂

My current makeup routine includes a hydrating primer, cc cream, and a concealer. This gives me light coverage and an even finish, without overdoing it. I also draw attention to certain facial features more in order to keep the face makeup minimal. I fill in my eyebrows, add a little blush, and dab on a lip color. A major plus is when I take off my makeup, there isn’t a dramatic difference like there was when I wore a foundation.

The last point i’ll make about makeup is that your skin is important long-term. It is more important to let it breathe. I totally relate to having periods when higher coverage is a way to get through a bad skin spell, but high coverage makeup doesn’t have to be a permanent solution. And one thing is for certain: natural beauty and healthy skin are not achieved with your favorite foundation. Get good sleep, hydrate, and keep your stress levels down. That will get you a lot further than what comes out of the pump.

Products:

Makeup Forever hydrating primer

Almay Smart Shade cc cream (light)

Covergirl Ready, Set Gorgeous concealer (light)

Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Hibiscus

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions on the above contents or how to switch up your makeup routine, leave a comment below. xx

-Kelly

 

Affordable Gym Gear and Where to Buy it

What’s on my mind: Ways of getting quality and fashionable gym gear, without the high cost. Interested? Read on, because these stores contain beautiful bargains. It’s all about the bargains.

First off, I want to love the gym gear I work out in and feel comfortable, because I’m doing a lot of movements that require both flexibility from me and the fabric. Getting super low for squats or doing shoulder presses, quality gym gear is key.

The top places I have found steals:

  1. TJ Maxx/ Marshall’s: These stores have the best deals. I find brands such as Nike, Under Armour, and Athleta in the fitness sections. Recently I got a pair of Nike cropped tights for $29, regularly around $85. You save a ton of money scouting these stores. Another thing to look for are zip ups and sweatshirts. I have also gotten my protein shaker, jump ropes, yoga mats, as well as free weights from one of these.
  2. Costco: I know Costco is a beautiful place due to free food samples, but the clothing section is actually pretty sweet. There are regular brands such as Calvin Klein or Adidas, and then less known brands that have recently collaborated with Costco. Ladies: the tights featured in the above photo are from Costco, a brand called Tufts Athletics. I bought two pairs, each for $16.99. They are super comfortable and flattering on, and the patterned one is fun to wear to weight sessions.
  3. Nordstrom Rack: This one is lower on the list because this store is such a hit or miss for me to find something, and usually the gym gear is shoes not clothing. Then again, I am very picky about running shoes in terms of arch support. However, if you want to snag a pair of Nikes for maybe $60 or less, go here.
  4. Target: So Target carries a lot of gear made by Champion, and I have on occasion gotten tights from there that lasted a long time. I find the brand to fade faster than higher end ones like Nike and Adidas, but the cost is super reasonable.
  5. Amazon: Shout out to those addicted to Amazon prime for fast deliveries and bargains. You find some really good gear and workout accessories on here. I purchased a spiked foam roller for my shin splints in college, made by a company is Utah. One of the best things ever, although rolling out shins is not a pleasant thing.

Another sidenote: I did work for Athleta for a year, and I absolutely love their clothes. The quality is amazing and the clothes are completely functional. However, it didn’t make the list because I wouldn’t consider the store “affordable” for many people. Athleta is a great store to splurge on. The reason why I own 5 pairs of yoga pants (as well as tights) from there and some tops is because I had a 50% discount as an employee. If you’re looking for a retail job and live in the gym, consider working there because you’ll be covered for a while.

These are the places I think of for the best deals on workout gear. Why buy full price when you don’t have to?

Where is your favorite place to get gym gear? I’d love any other recommendations for steals. Comment below! xx

-Kelly

 

Swapping Cardio for Weights

Hi everyone,

We all have an idea of what it means to be healthy. Eat right, workout, live an active lifestyle within an increasingly sedentary society. Seems simple, right? What if you are doing these things to live that healthy lifestyle, but begin to lose the results? Change is then going to become the solution to your problem. It was for me.

Being a college athlete for four years, I was always doing mass amounts of cardio training, mostly on the tennis court. Hours were spent in high intensity competition or repetitive drilling. Weight training and HIIT workouts were also included in team workouts, however, cardio was the dominant exercise. If you’re curious what happens when you graduate from this lifestyle and try to establish a new routine, I’ll share what I learned in this time period about fitness.

I have always been dedicated to the gym, mostly going 6 days a week without fail. When I graduated this summer I continued going on 45 minute runs and doing very similar weight training, and I saw myself hit a plateau. My routine was stagnant. I’ve been doing personal training for two weeks now, a program I never associated with because I didn’t think I needed to be coached to workout. Let me clear this up. You can utilize some training sessions even if you’re a gym junkie.

By no means am I saying personal training is essential to meeting your goals, it’s just a challenge that will only bring benefits. I am doing all new workouts that test me in new ways, and, most importantly, i’ve completely switched my workout routine ratio of weights to cardio.

My former tentative post-graduation fitness routine:

  • Cardio approximately 45 mins a day
  • Weights 2-3 times a week
  • Mat workouts (abs, glutes, etc)
  • *to note: I was using primarily free weights just up to 10 lbs

Current routine:

  • Cardio just 3 days a week for 20 minutes
    • Mixing it up between the stair stepper, treadmill, stair runs outside etc
  • Weights up to 4 days a week
    • Every day is working different muscles
      • legs, arms, back, shoulders, glutes
      • Beginning at heaviest weight for true form and decreasing weight each set of reps
  • I try to incorporate a pilates or yoga class once a week, because stretching is key to preventing injury. I also love the relaxation part of these, given the strenuous nature of weight lifting.

I’m going to be 100% honest, I’ve never been pushed this hard in the gym with weights. Tennis was so heavily based on endurance and how long I could last during match points, I didn’t spend a lot of time on the machines. Now I spend most of my time on them.

The best part: There are only benefits. I haven’t found any reasoning to second guess the investment of personal training or the swapped routine. I have more energy because weight training fatigues only my muscles, instead of making me feel sluggish. My muscle composition is already improved. I’m learning a lot more about what my body needs from workouts, to better compliment my other healthy habits.

Another awesome part about all of this: I’m never bored. There are days I skip cardio because I don’t need it. At a certain point, cardio begins to take away the muscle you work so hard for.

muscle > fat 

strong > everything?

I was careful with the second bold statement above, because there’s nothing “wrong” with anyone’s body. Everyone has different genetics. I just personally wasn’t satisfied anymore with just being “fit.” Because what is fit? I’m a person that functions off of constant improvement and balance (Libra issues). Now my gym routine is included in that as well.

It’s slightly uncomfortable at first to put my trust into another person to push me to get better results, but the truth remains that I didn’t know enough about what it takes to gain proper muscle composition. I wasn’t aware how helpful it was to keep a training journal to record progress and BMI updates. I didn’t know the potential of my own body. Someone had to tell me to stop running and get on the bench.

I’m not going to fully dive into the gender discussion about girls’ incessant need to complete cardio sessions, because I’m guilty for that blind reliance as well.

The women I admire most and follow through web content and Instagram lift weights on a constant basis. Weights are your best friend. Cardio is an accessory to weights. Looking at it this way has really helped me move forward.

Sometimes you need a little assistance separating myths from facts.

Effective this week, I’m going to be adding workout routines, gym gear posts, as well as on-the-go nutritious meals that I stick to on a weekly basis.

I’m really excited to be expanding my content and posting more regularly, and thank you so much to those who have already been following for more!

Comment below on your favorite workout, or your next fitness goal you desire most.

Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

Fitness: Without the Gym Membership

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Hi everyone,

For the past three weeks, I have been in the moving process. During this time I have not been going to the gym for workouts. I have to admit it has been a strange experience, given my consistency with this routine! I am now happy to be scouting for a new gym to join, although this decision has a few factors to consider. This transition has got me thinking about the individuals that may be in the same position.

For those on vacation or who live a lifestyle that requires traveling, finding alternative ways to getting a workout in is key to staying in shape and being healthier. There are so many substitutions if one does not wish to obtain a gym membership.

Reasoning individuals do not go to the gym could include:

  • Finances: Obtaining a gym membership does require a financial commitment, whether a small or large monthly expenditure. This definitely depends on the gym and what it offers.
  • Convenience/proximity: Depending on where you are located, you could have limited to no access to a gym that would be suitable for your schedule.
  • Work: Some individuals work long shifts that do not allow them to set aside the time.
  • A general disinterest:Everyone is different and obtains different goals, therefore some individuals do not have an interest in exercising.

If any of these factors sound familiar, perhaps you could get more creative with your options to boost your interest or make time for physical activity.

My methods for the past three weeks:

Main tip: Utilize the outdoors.Whether you have 20 minutes or an hour, the outdoors do not have a closing time.

My personal favorite outdoor workout is a long hike. My feature image is emphasizing the beauty of the outdoors and how a good view and good company could make for the best workout. Hiking gets your heart rate up on steep hills and you get the fresh air, as opposed to doing cardio indoors.

Running and walking are great for cardio. I go on walk/jog stints in intervals to get my heart rate up. I prefer doing interval training rather than just jogging because it brings more of a challenge for your body. Also try to choose a route with some hills as opposed to training solely on flat surfaces. This will work your calves and glutes more going uphill. 

HIIT (High intensity interval training)is one of my favorite types of training. If you are not familiar, HIIT is basically shorter periods of more intense exercise with less recovery time. If you are in a crunch for time, this would be a quicker workout on the days where you have a super busy schedule.

BodyFlow is a common gym session offered with gym memberships, however, BodyFlow includes a mixture of Tai Chi, pilates, and yoga, all exercises that can be completed at home with minimal equipment. It would be wise to invest in a yoga mat for the extra cushion and stability with these flexibility exercises, although a softer surface would suffice as well! These are body and mind workouts, and allow you to also relax your mind from outside influences. I would highly recommend incorporating them to improve mental health.

Weight training: In order to work with weights, equipment is required. Buying free weights is a one time purchase and would definitely help succeeding in working out at home. Balance balls, bosu balls, benches, and even small pieces such as strength bands could also be great investments. As opposed to getting these in sport stores, try shopping in the clearance section at stores such as TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. I have saved so much money simply by going to these stores.

I do a mixture of the above workouts when I go through transition periods without gym access. I currently have these pieces of equipment:

  • Jump rope (quick cardio and warm-ups)
  • Medicine ball (great for HIIT, squats, and lunges)
  • Yoga mat
  • Ankle weights (for glute exercises)
  • Free weights (I personally own 5 and 8 lb weights that are easy to transport)
  • Strengthening bands (prevention of injuries)
  • A roller (I swear by these! Proper stretching is so important for healthy exercise. I use my roller especially for hamstrings and shins)

Due to the internet offering so many programs, public figures that specialize in weight and fitness training have done workout programs online. Examples of these figures could be Kayla Itsines, Jillian Michaels, and even the P90X series. If you don’t have the time or finances to go to the gym, these programs are also a one time purchase.

Don’t underestimate YouTube. This platform hosts countless fitness videos and routines available at any time. I have on occasion used Cassey Ho’s Pop Pilates free workouts via YouTube during busy times such as finals or while on vacation without gym access.

As far as the factor of disinterest, workout out is much better when you actually enjoy it. I am not a person to recommend going to the gym to spend an hour on the elliptical or getting on the stair stepper with a book. There are a lot of options to choose from, and you may not be experimenting enough to find what you like best and what gets you the best results.

Being a person that is very consistent with working out, I think there is a type of workout everyone would enjoy. My advice is to aim to achieve a balance, and not to get stuck in the same workout routine that you dread finishing.

If you are on vacation: Take a long walk on the beach. I absolutely love doing this because it’s a natural exfoliation for your feet as well as being a killer workout for your calves and muscles to push through the sand. You also have a view!

I hope these tips helped for those debating on how and when to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

 

Body Image Positivity

Hi everyone,

It’s summer time in the states and everyone is seen with way less layers. The “bikini body ready” concept floats around social media as well as sped up routines in the gym. It is great to have goals to improve your body, however, obsessing and comparing is not going to get you to a place of self contentment.

While we are on the topic of social media, these are the various ways people are comparing themselves to others every day:

  • Magazine spreads and covers of celebrities and even professional athletes
  • Social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram
  •  Television
  • Online sources (articles, blog pages, etc)

What needs to be understood: It’s not a competition.

Additionally, we only see what those magazines and pictures want us to see. We don’t see the behind the scenes, or know for sure what routines people really do to obtain those bodies.

Of course, professional athletes work extremely  hard to obtain their physical endurance and muscle composition. But that’s just it: they spend practically all of their time training. Comparing yourself to an elite athlete is not fair due to the fact that your lifestyles are completely different. If you are inspired by them, that is great. Comparing yourself to their body structures isn’t.

As for celebrities: A very common way of thinking of fans is to fantasize about having the life and body of their favorite celebrity. Those celebrities are placed on magazine covers to represent how to prevent aging and how to have the “best body of your life.” The issue here is everyone’s body type is different. They don’t train the same way or build the same muscle in the same places, and have varying metabolisms.

Also, photoshop is a real thing. Back in 2011, for example, Jennifer Lawrence was majorly photoshopped on the cover of Flare Magazine, and this caused a flare in her temper. Jennifer was completely right to question the changes made to her body. These included an overall slimmed figure, more pronounced collarbones, and the sinking of her cheekbones to make her less full. Why? Because the fashion industry sets unrealistic standards.

Perhaps the easiest industry to penetrate for flaws is the modeling industry. It’s harsh and unrealistic, and so many men and women practice unhealthy behavior to obtain the standards to get work in this industry. Many models, especially females, are well below a healthy BMI (body mass index). Being underweight for extended periods of time is harmful in a lot of ways, and prohibits one from functioning properly. Just for a reference, below is a BMI table obtained from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal or Healthy Weight
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

The bright side of a better future:

French Legislature proposed a bill last year regarding BMI of models. French agencies that promote models under the BMI of 18 could receive major jail time and a fine (specifically up to 6 months and a fine of 75,000 euros). Models there are now required to have a medical certificate in order to sign with an agency. This effort in France should be considered an amazing opportunity to stop the idealization of dangerously thin body types and curb eating disorders such as anorexia.

Not all models are unhealthy and not all agencies promote overly thin clients, however, it is a very present issue and readers receive a false image of beauty and healthy weight.

Victoria’s Secret, another example,  is a very well known and beloved company in the States for its display of beautiful women often in very little clothing. There seems to be a universal panic attack of young girls all over the country when the VS annual fashion show rolls around. Again: these women have a very strict diet that they are constantly managed to follow, and their magazine photos are partially photoshopped.

On average, it is said to take approximately 6 hours to photoshop one model. Every detail is observed and examined for flaws. Have you ever seen the accidental photoshop errors in this company? I happened to see them in a class throughout my public health studies, and I love to see professors incorporating these topics to better aid the false depiction of ‘perfection.’

Breaking it down:

  1. Changing the figure of a person on a major magazine cover gives a completely false visual of body image and weight to any reader.
  2. As these unrealistic standards rise, eating disorders, body image issues, and overall self esteem of the youth population especially will continue to worsen.
  3. What is real and what is fake will be harder to differentiate.
  4. Those who do not feel they meet these standards see less of themselves, just due to comparisons.

There is a theory that has accurately described this comparison behavior. It’s called the Social Comparison Theory, originally described by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954. Essentially, we as individuals tend to measure our self worth by how we measure up to others. This is directly associated to the issue of poor body image, because of the incessant need to self-evaluate.

How self-evaluation can be healthy:

  • We set higher goals to obtain
  • We work for higher standards
  • We analyze what we could be doing better and aim to improve

How self-evaluation can be unhealthy:

  • We degrade ourselves in our current state
  • We leave little to no room for error or mistakes
  • Instead of setting goals we become stagnant and negative

According to the Social Comparison Theory, we are actively comparing ourselves primarily through social interaction and media consumption. There has been an establishment of sociocultural standards of beauty, portraying idealistic bodies that immediately cause readers to then want to become more like those idealized individuals.

It is completely unattainable to have the same body as another person. This is due to genetics. A naturally curvy girl cannot become a girl without curves. A girl cannot lengthen her body to make her legs and torso longer like the girl she sees in photos. And these issues occur in men and boys as well. Men around the country feel the same burden of feeling scrutinized for not looking like their aspired male athletes and professionals in the tabloids.

We are all built differently. Some things we cannot alter, and as a human race that has so much diversity, one would think to find that fact beautiful. If we all looked the same, think of how incredibly boring we would be!

A way to catch yourself in the trap of social comparison is to ask yourself what you are gaining from doing it. Comparing yourself to others, whether tearing yourself down or putting yourself even higher than others in terms of body image, is not going to bring you real contentment.

I took a women and sexuality course my junior year in college that had a very interesting week dedicated to body image. The professor asked every student in the room to say what they would change about their body. As she went around the room we all begrudgingly answered, feeling exposed to what she might say. She said we were all wrong, because we’re all perfect the way we are. Not perfect in the sense of something unrealistic, but more perfectly imperfect.

**Side note: I have really long feet, something I loathed for years as I honestly could not find shoes that fit me in the clearance section (where I often go). I was definitely self-conscious as my feet continued to lengthen as I got taller. The truth of the matter is I’m 5’11, so if I had smaller feet I would probably fall over due to laws of gravity. It took me years to just get over it, and now I joke with people and say I have built in flippers when I go swimming (no joke I didn’t buy flippers while snorkeling in Hawaii). I make jokes of it because I can’t change the size of my feet.**

Exercise and eat healthy because you want to feel better for yourself. Don’t set goals based on another’s person’s unattainable genetic makeup. Work and focus on your body structure and improve what is in your control, and in a healthy way.

The truth is: As you obsess over what you would change in your body, another person may be looking at you and wishing they had your proportions. And it’s all harmful to everyone’s health and interferes with what really matters: pretty much everything else.

I personally workout and eat right to feel content, and actively tell myself that’s all that matters. I don’t care what my friends look like in comparison to me. I don’t lift myself up by tearing them down. I don’t question my desire to gain muscle while in a society that often favors the opposite.

Do what makes you feel good about your body, and everything is a process. The above information is all to create a more black and white scenario of what is real and what is fake. What’s real is you. Be your best self, and do it for you. Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly ❤