Hello friends, I’m happy to be back to (once again) talk up a storm about fitness.
I really like making in-depth updates about this topic on my blog because to me, my blog is a time capsule of my ups, downs, and anything in between. And the beautiful part about having a series like this is that I can always update you folks on the things I learn and experience along the way. If you’re following my fitness instagram, I’m sure some of these updates won’t be too much of a surprise. Regardless, I like to speak more in depth about my findings and progress on here than on a daily insta post. You get the gist.
So join me, if you’d like, on a wild ride where I pinball through the things that have been either eye-opening or just overall exciting for me in this fitness journey of mine. And if you’re on a journey with your health, feel free to give some exciting updates in the comments below this post so we can cheer each other on!
I know weight can be a finicky topic, so I do want to disclose that I’m in no way instructing anyone on how they should look or what they should do. I just want to share this portion to talk about how I’m currently feeling, both mentally and physically, compared to the start of this journey. Weight-loss and lifestyle changes are not a straight path. There are plateaus, daily challenges, etc. It’s really not a straight forward topic. I just think it’s important to feel connected with yourself and to feel as happy as you can, at any size. So let’s get into it.
When I created this series originally, I always mentioned that beyond the weight and vanity aspect of it all, that I’d want to feel energized and to feel more mentally connected to my body. I spent years trying to nail down a schedule and routine that worked for me. I also didn’t understand nutrition whatsoever. And as I continued to gain weight in that time, I felt so much more discomfort with my body (more specifically the weird gender dysphoria with my breasts, since they grew too much for my own liking). Like I said, I didn’t originally want to even focus on the vanity aspect of things because I feel like, whenever I’d struggle to make progress or struggle to find a workout that felt good or a diet (overall food, I’ve never been interested in a fad diet) that felt sustainable, I’d find myself feeling more discouraged than anything. But when the breasts came in, and started causing the dysphoria and the physical discomfort, I made a point to really research and explore different reasons why my body wouldn’t cooperate with me. Why I wasn’t menstruating, why I felt so tired, why I couldn’t lose weight. And in order to get a breast reduction, I needed to lose weight. I needed to lose a bit over forty pounds, to be frank. I just felt like I was at an absolute standstill and finally felt a need to seek help.
I’m appreciative and very fortunate to have access to resources, like a dietician and an OBGYN, who could help get my cycle regulated and who could help me optimize what I was eating in order to fuel my body for various different workouts. I’ve had my fair share of trials of different workouts throughout this journey, and I’ve found that I love swimming, I love running (although we’ve had a rocky road), and I love keeping track of my lifting.
Over the last year, I’ve been perfecting a schedule that works well for my lifestyle. I’ll talk more about the specifics of my workouts later in this post. And since last October, I’ve been slowly losing weight in a sustainable and healthy way, on the journey to getting a breast reduction, so I can feel comfortable in my body, both physically and mentally. Currently, I’m 9 pounds away from reaching that weight that the consultation recommended I be at for the reduction. I’ve lost a little over 30 pounds in the past seven months or so, and have drastically improved my relationship with my body through both healthy foods—to restore my energy—and exercise—where I’m my own best friend and gently coach myself through every step.
And on top of everything, I’ve been seeing a therapist since January. Healing through life's pains and ensuring I have a healthy headspace has really helped me stay strong through everything, especially since I’ve been off antidepressants. Focusing on bettering myself has really helped me heal a lot of traumas and helps me push through the current urgent situation that’s happening with my family. A lot has been happening, but taking care of myself is crucial. I’m the kindest to myself that I’ve ever been, and I feel like it allows me to put my best self forward to care for those around me.
My schedule is something that I curated for myself. It’s taken me a year to feel super good with it, and I change it a bit from time to time when life challenges come up. I always think about my schedule—it’s important to have a regular routine as an anxious person—and I ensure that if I can’t follow it a certain week, that I’ve got a backup plan or that I merge certain workouts to help me feel fulfilled. I’m working towards my own goals, and I try to push myself to improve every single week. My goals are going to look different than a lot of people’s, my schedule is going to look different than a lot of people’s. But it works for me and I’d love to document it since this is just the current state of the schedule, and since I’ve kind of been geeking about analytics and documenting lately.
To refresh some of you on my life, I’ve been running. A lot. I’ve finally gotten to a place with running that I’ve fallen in love and can fall into a flow state with it. I tried running a few times in my adulthood, but it didn’t stick in the past. Being gentle with myself and setting goals has finally made it stick, and I’m obsessed. Anyways, I think my first attempt at running a 5k was on January 28th, and I’ve been trying them weekly since then. I recently ran a 5 miler with minimal stopping. So my schedule for the past few months has had running at the heart of it all. It’s something that I’m taking super seriously—I’ve even bought snazzy new equipment to suit my needs. That’s just some context before I dive deep into it.
I typically make Monday my rest day. A lot of people don’t like Mondays; I’m indifferent to them. I just like to be outside as much as possible on the weekends, so I typically need to rest to start my week. There’s nothing else really to that one.
Tuesday mornings are something special. I stopped weighing myself for a few months, per my dietician’s recommendation, until I developed a better relationship with food and with my body, and I’m thankful for that huge gap. But since January first, since seeing the progress I made from October to January, I’ve felt a lot more comfortable seeing the scale more regularly and not feeling discouraged. Like I said, a weight loss target isn’t going to just be an easy, straight path. There’s weeks where I don’t move the needle, that’s fine! So after a rest day, where my muscles have time to rest, the first thing I’ve been doing on Tuesdays is weighing myself. It’s important for me to keep track of my progress at this point in time, so I do this at the same time every week. I will say, I do skip the week that I’m menstruating, since bodies fluctuate and that sort of “event” can skew readings. Bodies are complex, so I try to stay as controlled as possible when logging my stats. Anyways, after I weigh in, I head to the gym and typically just make Tuesdays a long strength training day, where I focus on shoulders, chest, and back.
Wednesdays are for morning runs. I have my Apple Watch exercise ring set to 40 minutes of exercise, so when I don’t have a distance goal necessarily, I go based off of time. So on Wednesdays, I run for 40 minutes without stopping to walk. It encourages me to find a comfortable pace and allows me to get into a meditative flow state. That’s the beauty of running, by the way. Check out my last blog post to hear me rave about it. Like I said, I’m my own little coach in my brain for all of this. I listen to my body, and I’m typically able to at minimum push out a 5k in this timeframe. If, however, I’m menstruating or am congested, I allow myself to change this into a 40 min walk for that week. Like I said, I’m flexible and absolutely happy to accommodate for any normal bodily fluctuations. I find that so important when finding a sustainable schedule, to be kind and actually enjoy what you’re doing each week.
Thursday is the official leg day. Now that I’m an avid runner, I take leg day extra seriously. I actually need to start doing more injury-prevention workouts. Leg days are basically just a combination of all the glorious leg machines, then finishing with a stair climber moment. If I feel wild, I’ll even take a 1-2 mile run after work in the park. And really, this run is typically spur-of-the-moment; I add little runs on any days where I just want a pick-me-up.
Fridays are my lighter workouts. Usually just an arm day, eventually I’ll add ab workouts to this day, but I haven’t been too focused on the ole abs yet. So yeah, I’ll typically do some bicep and tricep workouts and then hit up the stationary bike or take a light walk outside before getting ready for work.
Saturdays are my big run days. I’ve done fifteen 5k runs as I’m writing this, and that sort of became my normal distance. I recently ran my first five-miler, like I mentioned earlier, so I want to start teetering with my distance over time. So instead of the weekly 5Ks, I’ll be making my new “normal” the 4-milers, and then aim for a 10K (6.2 miles) run as next month’s goal. Shout out to my buddy Cooper, by the way. He’s my weekly workout buddy, you’ll see him a lot on my fitness insta. At the start of every month, he and I ask each other what our goals are. I didn’t initially know what mine was, but I landed on aiming for a 5 mile run. And something about telling a friend about your goals sort of forces you to jump out of your comfort zone and actually tackle it. Cooper also coined the term BOOSTIN, which means to push beyond the original goal. This can be applied to both fitness (going a further distance, pushing your speed faster at the end, etc.) and nutrition (packing in extra veggies, adding an extra fruit to your meal). I just wanted to share that in case anyone needs some BOOSTIN in their life.
Sundays are typically a more casual type of cardio, typically a walk. I do this the day after a tough run to walk out any kinks or soreness I might feel in my legs. However, Sundays are also flexible. If Cooper and I plan to do a big hike or swim on a Saturday, I’ll move my run to Sundays. That’s why resting on Mondays are a must. Such a sustainable and fulfilling schedule for me.
And by the way, when I do big runs, I typically knock them out in the morning. I have all day to see family or friends or to do chores. My weekends still feel nice and open.
Yep, this is the miscellaneous bit. Since learning more about running, I’ve perfected some eating habits. If I’m planning a run for the afternoon, I’ll make myself a protein packed, big breakfast. But if I’m doing it early in the morning, I’ll quickly scarf down some fruit, a cheese stick, and a granola bar to feel satiated and fueled for the run. I even bought a running vest for anything beyond 4 miles so that I can store additional snacks and hydration, especially as it gets hotter outside. It’s all about the preparation.
Something I’ve learned in the past few months, especially as I’ve been running, is that carbs are in no way an enemy. My last primary care doc was giving me ill advice that didn’t suit my lifestyle, probably because he didn’t inquire what my lifestyle was like. I’m super active! So what I’ve been taught by my dietician is that, at the start of this year, I was feeling miserably hungry at lunch because I secretly wasn’t having enough carbs. Being aware of how food affects the body has been so eye opening, especially through these longer runs. So yeah, I do a major carb load on nights before a run, and I drink a ton of fluids. Preparation and understanding of nutrition has been a lifesaver.
Another tidbit about nutrition that still affects me heavily is the ideal breakfast pairing (that’s what I’m calling it, unofficially anyway). My signature breakfast is fruit alongside a sandwich that consists of spinach, tomato, avocado mayo, an egg, and a couple strips of Turkey bacon. That’s a balanced plate, and the protein + sugary carb combo keeps me full and nourished until lunch. I’ve snacked a lot less since my dietician taught me this, and I still strive to pair every meal in a super balanced way to match that same feeling that the ideal breakfast gives me.
Those stats I mentioned that I’m a nerd about, earlier? Yeah, let’s talk about those. I created a chart in my phone to display my mile splits from all my 5Ks, 4-milers, and 5-milers in my phone to see how my consistency is slowly improving. I think Cooper and I are going to be testing our mile times every couple of months as well, so I’m also keeping a log of that. Other things I’ve been curious about are step cadence and VO2 max levels. Step cadence varies per person, I think everyone has their own cadence that works for them. Mine tends to be super consistent, in the 160-169 steps per minute range. And I love that I’ve seen that consistency improve over the past few months. I’ve also watched my VO2 (my blood oxygen levels aka my cardio fitness) improve as well. I don’t know, it’s fun to see actual stats that show subtle improvements, even if you’re having trouble seeing physical changes. I love keeping track of running and weight training stats as another way to validate to myself that hey, you’ve made progress.
I also want to announce that I invested in new running shoes and a running vest (as I mentioned a bit earlier). I got both items from Lululemon—my first time buying from them, by the way. I love that their site had an option to sort by activity. It shows that all their gear is curated and tested for specific movements and needs. My favorite fitness influencer, Natacha Oceane, is an affiliate for Lululemon, and swears by the Blissfeel shoes. And I trust Natacha. She’s so bright and ensures she credits academic journals when she does any research for her videos. She makes learning about health and fitness super fun and not scary, and I think it’s so refreshing to see that. She used to be an affiliate for Gym Shark, but if I remember correctly, decided to part ways since they didn’t check all of the boxes that she found important in a fitness company. She wanted to represent a company that shared the same values—importance of science and research in the health and fitness industry, along with long lasting and heavily tested apparel and gear. So anyways, the shoes I got were created by scanning over a million women’s feet, so they’re designed to be more appropriate for female runners’ feet compared to other running shoes. I’ve already noticed a difference in my speed and in longevity of my runs since wearing them. I don’t feel as exhausted, I’m not crashing down on my legs as hard. An all around exceptional investment. And the vest—I’m already a fan as well. Love the amount of compartments, love the room for hydration, and honestly, it just makes me feel like I look like an official runner.
And lastly, something Natacha taught me that helps a ton, is understanding how to actively recover during a cardio session. She recently uploaded a video of what a week of her training for a 100 mile ultra marathon looks like, and shared that, to help her recover when she’s doing tough cardio, she allows herself to pant as hard as she needs to, but sneaking long, slow breaths in between. I’ve been trying these on my runs lately and it’s helped me control my heart rate so much better. I'm just so excited about this technique because holy smokes it really works.
Thank you guys for reading! Let me know—what sorts of goals are you working towards lately?