How Eating More Can Help You Lose Weight

When you decide you want to shed a few pounds, what is typically the first thing you do? Lower your calories. Eat less. Maybe you move more, too. But, what if I told you the secret might be the complete opposite of what you think you need to do? 

A recent study showed that despite popular belief, our metabolisms do not slow as we age. In some cases, perhaps a person’s metabolism may slow down but not to the extent we once thought. What does cause a person’s metabolism to slow? Well, drastically reducing the number of calories consumed will do it, as can lack of sleep, stress, and lack of movement to name a few. Slow metabolisms almost always lead to weight gain. But, what if you could reverse the trend by actually eating more?

The human body needs a certain number of calories just to exist. Just to sit on your couch all day you need calories. How many calories varies from person to person, based on height, weight, and typical energy expenditure each day. If you don’t consume that basic amount of calories, you are in danger of slowing your metabolism. Your body compensates for the fact that you are not eating enough to sustain it. 

The other mistake people often make is thinking that intermittent fasting is the answer to weight loss. It may work for some people some of the time but by and large it’s not sustainable and can lead to metabolic issues in the long run. 

When it comes to weight loss many people turn to cardio first to lose the stubborn pounds, but cardio is also problematic as your body will adapt. So, if 30 minutes a day worked at first, over time you would need to do 45 minutes, then one hour and so on. Who has time for that?

What if I told you that there is a way to eat more AND lose weight? Here is my blueprint for eating more to lean out.

  • Know your macros. Macronutrients are the building blocks of our diet. Everyone needs protein, carbohydrates, and fats, in addition to micronutrients to keep us healthy. It’s important for you to know just how much to eat each day. First, if you are trying to lose weight and you know you have a high BMI, figure out your body fat percentage. This will help you zero in on your lean body mass, which is a key number to use in order to determine the daily protein intake. If you don’t have access to a body fat analysis, you can purchase a scale that will measure this for you. It’s not totally accurate but it gives you a sense and really all you need is a ball park. You can then track your trend up or down from there. I use Renpho. Then, use a macronutrient calculator to determine total calories per day. A nutrition coach can also help figure this out for you.

    To build muscle and create a satiating effect, it’s best to aim for .8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass, NOT per pound. This is a mistake many people make. If they weigh 225 pounds, they think they need 225g of protein a day, which is insane! Likely their lean body mass or “muscle weight” is lower. The other way to go, if you don’t have a way to determine your body fat percentage, is to base it on the weight you would like to be. So, if you’re aiming to be 150 pounds, consume 140 to 150g of protein a day. Protein is the first macro to set, then set carbohydrates at 40 to 50 percent of total calories and the rest should be healthy fats.

  • Eliminate or reduce gluten, refined sugar, dairy and alcohol. Gluten and dairy often cause gut issues, which can make it difficult for your body to absorb the healthy macros you are giving it. Start by avoiding or reducing them to see if you feel better. Instead, eat more vegetables! Fruit is OK, too. It’s not evil! As for alcohol, you will find that if you eliminate or reduce the number of drinks you have, that alone will help you lose weight because you will not consuming too many calories from the drinks or the snacks you’ll inevitably have with those drinks! Sugar is an issue for many people. It causes so many problems and we all consume too much of it. Reduce it and you will find that your skin looks better, you sleep better, and you will start to look better, too.
  • Drink more water. A good rule of thumb is half your body weight per day, more if you are active. Try to space out your meals so you are done eating approximately four hours before you go to bed. Our bodies work very hard to digest our food and if we eat right before bed, they spend more time digesting than sleeping well. If you quit eating with plenty of time before bed, you will find that you sleep much more soundly.

  • Speaking of sleep, make sure you get enough! Seven to nine hours is ideal, especially if you are looking to build muscle. Studies show that obesity can be caused by a lack of sleep. And, let’s face it. How many times have you make a poor food choice simply because you were exhausted?
  • To build muscle, you must lift weights. Resistance training two or three days a week is enough to build. Find a quality personal trainer who can tailor a routine to meet your personal goals. Cardio is OK but you don’t want to do too much of it. Our bodies are smart. For them to be good at cardio they need to lean out and be as thin as possible. Think about distance runners! This is the opposite of building muscle. We want to prioritize muscle over cardio. Do just enough cardio to keep your heart healthy or better yet make sure you move.
  • Move. Walk at least 7,000 steps per day and you will be moving enough. That’s about two 15-20 minute walks per day. It’s doable! Get up and move!

If you do all these things, I promise you will lose weight. The more muscle you build, the faster your metabolism will be, allowing you to consume more calories in the future! The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you can burn simply by existing! I am 96 pounds and I eat 2,200 calories a day. This is because my lean body mass is extremely high from lifting weights for so long. Muscle is so helpful to your body – you can look good, lose weight and feel great!

Have questions about this post or want my assistance with a workout routine or nutrition coaching? Contact me today for more information!

How to Eat Healthy When You’re Busy

Think about the times of the year when you are the most healthy. When do you tend to eat a healthy and balanced diet versus one comprised of fast food on the run or too many calories? For me the answer is easy. Summertime! With the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables and the extra time without all the crazy extracurricular kids’ activities, I have way more time to think about what I’m eating and when. Work is less busy, too, since college students are not on campus in the summertime. But, what about the rest of the year?

The kids have been back to school now for several weeks and likely you’ve moved into a fall routine, if you’re anything like my family. For us, that means trying to find time to eat dinner let alone make it. And, at work, I often have meetings scheduled right through lunchtime! I’m so tired at night from the long work day and running the kids to practices that I am not as good about preparing my lunch. Breakfast becomes an afterthought as I rush to get to work to start it all over again. What does a busy working mom do?

You must pause and you must plan. If you find that you can carve out time on Sundays to meal prep, even if it’s just lunches and breakfasts, do it! Make yourself. You will be so happy you did when you pull the breakfast off the refrigerator shelf and the meal prep container for your lunch. I always feel better when I eat healthy. I know this. It makes me so angry when I don’t have the healthy food at my fingertips. At the same time I try not to dwell on it. We have the gift of a new day, a new week, a new month, and a new year. Every day is a day to start over. This week, I will begin anew to better plan my meals. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Make a grocery list, taking into account food you have at home so you can maximize your budget.
  2. Plan dinner for the week, including nights you will eat leftovers. Think about the weather (so you know if you can grill or not), as well as the schedule. For the busiest evenings, plan a crock pot or leftover meal. If you will have more time, add an Instant Pot meal or anything you know you will be able to handle. Add to your grocery list after you’ve decided on the meals.
  3. I grocery shop on Saturday so if I forget anything I still have Sunday. Plus that leaves Sunday for meal prep. I prep my breakfasts and lunches on Sunday plus I usually make cookies for the kids’ lunches. All told it takes me 90 minutes to a couple hours depending on what I’m making. Some of my “go tos” include hard boiled eggs, chia pudding, overnight oats, and stir fry meals. You can basically have a meat, grain (rice or pasta), and vegetables and put any sauce or condiment with it to make a perfect meal. If you can work in healthy fats, like avocado, even better. Scroll through Pinterest for the best meal prep recipes. There are also meal prep cookbooks you can buy, as well. Once you see how the recipes work, you can create your own. The crock pot and Instant Pot are your friends…use them!
  4. Each night prep anything you can for the next night’s dinner. And if you only meal prepped for a few days, pick the least busy evening during the week to prep a few more.
  5. Pick a “cheat day” for breakfast and lunch at work and it doesn’t have to be the same day for both meals. I like to grab breakfast out on Fridays as a reward for myself and something to look forward to. And I pick a day for lunch out that works with my schedule. Sometimes my meetings dictate that, if food will be served.
  6. Enlist the help your spouse and/or children to help prepare dinner each night and lunches for the next day.
  7. Consider bringing leftover dinner for your lunch the next day. Easy peasy.
  8. That brings me to the kids’ lunches. I keep it super simple: sandwich, chips, fruit, cookie, snack and healthy drink. I just buy for the week and the formula works. They like deli meet, clementines and Capri Sun the best. Snacks are everything from cheese and crackers to nuts to raisins. I don’t go crazy making sure lunches are completely and totally healthy. They are growing kids and I want them to eat during the day. I have more control over breakfast and dinner and that’s enough for me. Don’t be so laser focused that you paralyze yourself.
  9. Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand for evening/nighttime. You don’t want to ruin an entire day of healthy eating by eating M&Ms with your wine!
  10. If you have macro goals, make sure your meals line up with those goals. I shoot for at least four solid days a week where I nail my macros. If I get more, even better, but I try to be realistic and not too hard on myself.

The saying is true, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” I know it even if I can’t always follow it. I hope these tips have been helpful for you. If you have other ideas on how to eat healthy when you’re crazy busy, please leave a comment below!

Can You Workout Every Day? Yes!

One of the biggest hurdles to a regular exercise program is consistency. It’s hard to stick to a program, especially since rest days sometimes throw a wrench into the routine. It is said that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. But, how can you develop a habit when you have days off routinely, as well? For me, that’s always been a challenge. It’s easier for me to have something I do each and every day like brushing my teeth! But, how can you exercise every day and make sure your body gets the rest it needs to recover and build?

Enter Mind Pump’s new seven-day workout routine. It’s insanely close to one I’ve run from time to time on my own but its structure makes sure you have everything you need to stay in shape and build muscle. I was so excited to hear the guys talk about it this morning on my way to work. In fact, I’ve already developed my own version of their workout, which I can’t wait to start. Good thing I’m finishing up my own summer six-week program this week and am ready to move to something new!

(By the way, it’s important to adjust through phases of workouts rather than do the same thing for weeks and weeks. I typically move through phases anywhere from four to eight weeks, depending on the time of year and my current schedule and goals. I never do the same thing for longer than eight weeks, though.)

The way this program is structured, you get the best of everything. Two days of heavy resistance training, two days of lighter resistance training, a functional movement routine, mobility day, and a steady state cardio day in the form of an outdoor walk or hike. I have adapted the original program to add a bit more lower body resistance training, as well as my weekly Peloton ride. This is the beauty of training–everyone has their own goals, interests, and needs. Every routine is adaptable to those needs. I’ll leave you with my seven-day program below. Happy late summer training everyone!

Monday – Heavy work out

* All for 3 sets, 6-12 reps

Barbell squats

Hip thrusts

Barbell bench press

Barbell rows

Barbell overhead press

Barbell or dumbbell curls

Skull crushers

Slow sit-ups

Calf raises

 

Tuesday – Pump work out

* All for 3 sets, 15-20 reps

Curtsy lunges

Cable kickback

Cable abductor

Dumbbell flys

Dumbbell pull overs

Lateral raises

Band curls

Band press downs

Planks

 

Wednesday– Functional strength workout

* All for 3 sets, 5-10 reps

Turkish get ups

Windmills

Cossack squat

Overhead carries (25-35 steps)

 

Thursday – Heavy work out

*All for 3 sets, 6-12 reps

Deadlifts

Incline press

Pull-ups

Arnold press

Hammer curls

Dips

Reverse crunch

Seated calf raises

 

Friday – Pump work out

*All for 3 sets, 15-20 reps

Band hip thrusts

Single-leg RDL

Cable flys

Band rows

Band shoulder press

Band curls

Band press downs

Band side chops

 

Saturday – Mobility workout

MAPS Prime Pro Webinar

 

Sunday – Peloton – 30 minutes; Walk – 30 minutes

 

Going Back to the Office

This time we have ample time to prepare. Unlike March 16, 2020, when everything suddenly shut down, this time is different. We’re going back to the office. I remember lockdown like it was yesterday. The kids came home from school excited that they were going to learn from home for a “few weeks.” I was just beginning to plan out our family’s relocation for the new job I had accepted just days before. Toilet paper was scarce but spirits were still high. We had no idea what was ahead and it seemed like an extended snow day. Wow, were we ever surprised.

Lockdown lasted months. Working, and workout out, at home transitioned from a novelty to a reality. Personally, I started to enjoy my home office. I was saving money and time. I was sleeping more and eating more healthfully. I didn’t need to spend money on new clothes, jewelry, makeup or shoes. I missed interacting with people and Zoom got old quickly, but those were small prices to pay for how stress-free being at home was for me. In a few short days, that honeymoon is over.

I work for New York State and all state employees are returning to their workplaces effective July 6. Today is my last at home day with my dog at my slippered feet and my full breakfast in my belly. Today is the last day I can have lunch with my family. And, it’s the last day my car doesn’t leave the driveway. I am feeling bittersweet.

I started my job nearly one year ago, July 9, during the pandemic. I have never gone to the office more than one day at a time and have never been together with my whole team. It’s been 15 months since I commuted every single day to the office. It’s been 15 months since I had to get up as early as 5 a.m. to get my workout in, as well as have time to shower, get dressed, do my hair and makeup, and get all my things together for work. It’s been 15 months since I crashed on my couch at 8:30, unable to do anything because I was exhausted. These things contribute to my stress and anxiety in ways I never really understood until they were absent. But, they were taken away suddenly. I didn’t have to wonder what it would be like or plan for lockdown. It just came. This time is different.

I have been thinking about the return for weeks now. It’s not that I have anxiety about the actual going back to work part. It’s more that I have anxiety about missing my more relaxed life at home. I am worried about the increased spending of time and money with my one hour round trip commute. I’m not looking forward to the increased effort to meal prep and plan both for my own breakfast and lunch, as well as for the family dinners. I’m wondering what it will be like to be so far away from my family every day, and how challenging it will be to keep up with the family activities come fall when school and everything starts once again.

These are first world problems for sure. I am fortunate to have a wonderful job and healthy family. I know this. But, I also know that my world is going to change. Again. And this time not only do I have time to prepare, I also have time to be anxious. Here’s hoping this three-day holiday weekend will serve as a positive transition and break between two separate lives for me, and that the days, weeks and months ahead will go as smoothly as they possibly can. It’s not like we haven’t all done this before, right?

Pushing Through Setbacks on Your Fitness Journey

This pandemic has rocked everyone’s world, particularly fitness enthusiasts who had to adapt to closing gyms, limited equipment, increased stress, new work schedules, and shortages of different foods. Now that we appear to be on the other side of it, bodybuilding competitions have resumed, gyms have reopened, and it’s time for all of us to get back to basics.

I stuck with my workouts this whole time, but it wasn’t without hiccups. Lots of things prevented me from sticking to my usual way of working out that works best for me to build muscle. As a result, I kept changing things up, trying new things, attempting to keep motivation and results high. And it didn’t work!

Let’s start at the very beginning. In January of 2020 I started a new leg/glute program with my personal trainer, Shawna Moran, who was piloting the program. I am always a willing test subject! It was going gangbusters and I was seeing glute development like I had never seen before. During this time, I was also considering a relocation for a new, higher level job at my college alma mater. The move would have been significant for me and my family, and I was stressed through the interview process and as I agonized over my decision. March 13, I accepted the new position 90 minutes away in Geneseo, New York. The following Monday, March 16, I had a meh leg workout and I somewhat joked with the gym folks on the way out that I hoped that wasn’t my last gym workout. There was already talk of a lockdown. Well, later that day, it happened. EVERYTHING shut down.

With the stress of the move, the lack of gym equipment, and general anxiety over the pandemic, I was stunned. Shawna gave me a home workout to continue the glute development and I quickly started to replace my usual exercises with home versions using the little equipment I had on hand, such as resistance and booty bands, dumbbells, an EZ curl bar, and an old barbell set. It wasn’t ideal but the normalcy of continuing to get up and workout was helping…a little. Still, the stress made it difficult to maintain and make any new gains.

When we got through the very stressful house sale and purchase process (during lockdown with limited housing market action), we ended up in a position where we could build a home gym in the basement. My husband, a trained opera singer, wasn’t singing due to lockdown so we took advantage of the stimulus money and finished the basement, complete with a home office/gym for me. This allowed me to significantly enhance the workout equipment edging me ever closer to near normal when it came to my workouts. But, then a strange thing happened. Nothing felt normal.

At first I thought it was my supplements or vitamins. Then, I thought it was my lack of sleep. Then, I blamed work-related stress. Maybe it was all of the above. But, for whatever reason, I wasn’t feeling my workouts or myself. So, I took breaks, changed the frequency, and even tried new types of workouts, all in an effort to regain my workout mojo. I bought an indoor bike (a whole other sordid story – let’s just say I started with a knockoff Peloton and paid the price!) thinking having the cardio option on long winter days would help. Nothing helped. I just felt lost. This feeling was new to me. I have been working out since college and in 25 years I’ve never felt this way. The past five years in particular have been all in with me falling in love with lifting and then becoming a personal trainer and nutrition coach in 2019. I systematically tried to isolate the issue by stopping all the vitamins and supplements, prioritizing sleep, and adding a monthly massage to my routine.

This past weekend, I happened to notice a bikini pro named Kerigan Pike, who won her first pro card at a competition. Something stirred inside me as I watched her success and looked through her past posts. I realized I had forgotten how exhilarating bodybuilding can be. To work systematically on each part of your body with the goal of building muscle and curves. Split routines in a hypertrophy style… that’s my jam. And maybe now it’s time to reintroduce the supplements that gave me so much success before. I immediately set to work writing myself a new program for the next at least six weeks. I just finished phase one of a performance-based program that had a strength focus with low reps and heavy weights so my body is primed to transition to a three to four set/10 rep format. I did my first routine in that workout plan this morning and I am feeling myself! It was awesome. I feel like I am back and so is my love for this type of training.

This has been a long struggle for me and I’m sharing it because others may relate to my experience. In addition to sharing the plan (my “emerging from the pandemic” gift to you), below are some tips that might help you, if you find yourself in the same spot I did.

  1. Don’t stress yourself out trying to figure out what’s wrong.
  2. Keep a consistent training schedule no matter what it looks like. Don’t lose the habit!
  3. When troubleshooting what’s wrong, isolate the variables. Don’t get rid of everything all at once or you won’t know which thing was the problem.
  4. It’s ok to take a complete break from training.
  5. Take the opportunity to try new styles of training or new routines.
  6. Don’t wait until the first day of the week or month to make a change. Change can happen anytime (mine hit on a Friday!).
  7. Seek out likeminded individuals to help talk you through your woes. We need to support each other on this journey!

I’m excited to be back on track again and looking forward to the summer months, which are typically more active months for me. Plus, who doesn’t love to wear tank tops and short shorts to show off all those gains? Happy summer!

Summer Six-Week Split Training Program

It’s summer and a time when I feel most energized to lift. My activity is up and my stress is down. There is no better time! Below is a program I wrote for myself that you might want to try or adapt for your own goals. My goals with this program are to build my lower body, specifically the glutes, as well as my shoulders. So you will see more emphasis on both. I also included some mobility training to keep my limber, some ab work, and two Peloton days, one of which will likely be a HIIT for me. If your goal is to build muscle you definitely want to limit the cardio. Warmups and finishers are also included. Keep in mind, you may want or need to adapt depending on the equipment you have available, as well as your level and goals. For example, there is a banded leg extension listed and if you have a leg extension machine, you may wish to substitute that, which is a better option, if you have it!

I am accompanying this program with daily creatine supplementation, as well as a half a gallon a day of water. My macros are set at roughly 50-55% carbs (to provide the energy I need for my more active summer days), 25% protein (for muscle building), and 25-30% fats (regulate hormones and help meet caloric goals). I’m trying to limit alcohol and eat as clean as possible, especially since fruits and vegetables are fresh this time of year!

You can find examples of many, if not all, of these exercises on my YouTube channel, if you need to see how to perform them. If you try the program, please let me know what you think in the comments below!

FitPRMomLife Six Week Summer Split Routine 

Monday – Lower (glute focused)

WARMUP: foam roll, 90/90, banded crab walks

Hip thrust 4×10
Sumo deadlift 4×10
Single leg RDL 3×15
Walking lunge 3×10
Glute kickback 3×15
SS with
Cable abductor 3×15

FINISHER: Tabata banded glute bridge 8 rounds of :20

Tuesday – Upper (back/bi)

WARMUP: foam roll, scorpions

Deadlift 4×10
Assisted pull ups 3×10
Close grip lat pulldown 4×10
Seated cable row 4×10
EZ bar curl 4×10
DB hammer curl 3×10

FINISHER: Tabata DB curls/DB rows 4 rounds of :20ea OR Tabata inverted row 8 rounds of :20

Wednesday – Peloton/mobility/abs*

Rotational lunge
Pigeon
Stick mobility
Band pull aparts
Abs
Lower Abs
Rotational Abs

Peloton ride – choose a HIIT format

*Choose whatever ab exercise you want. Here is a playlist of some to get you started.

Thursday – Lower (hamstring focused)

WARMUP: foam roll, walk stretch

Hip thrust full/half 4×10
RDL 4×10
Step up 3×10
Hamstring curl 4×10
Banded leg extension 3×10
Calf raise 3×10

FINISHER: Tabata stability ball curls 4x:30

Friday – Upper (chest/tri)

WARMUP: Band pull aparts, stick mobility

Bench press 4×10
Incline DB press 4×10
DB chest fly 4×10
Skull crushers 4×10
Cable pressdowns 3×10
Tricep dips 3×10

FINISHER: Tabata Pushups/KB tricep press 10 reps each AMRAP for 3 minutes

Saturday- Lower

WARMUP: banded side crab walks, 90/90

Squat  4×10
Glute bridge 4×10
Bulgarian split squat 3×10
Hyperextension 3×15
Banded adductor 3×15
Calf raise 3×10

FINISHER: Tabata banded crab walk 4x:60

Sunday – Upper (shoulders)/Peloton

WARMUP: stick mobility, shoulder rotations against wall

BB shoulder press 4×10
DB side laterals 3×10
DB front laterals 3×10
DB around the worlds 3×10
DB Arnold shoulder press 3×10
Banded upright rows 3×10

FINISHER: Cable side laterals to failure

 

12-Week Muscle Building Program

Looking for a new program that will help you build muscle and strength? I’m sharing my own personal program that I wrote specifically for my own goals. If you share my goals and you have access to a fair amount of gym equipment, this workout plan might be for you. This focuses on resistance training, beginning with reps in the hypertrophy range and ending with strength. There is also a small amount of cardio focused on building muscle in the lower body (cycling), as well as a mobility day that you construct yourself based on your own personal needs. This program is for an intermediate lifter who is self-aware of their own body and goals. It’s not for a beginner. If you have questions, hit me up in comments or email me at kerri@fitprmomlife.com. To receive the program, fill out the contact form below. Happy lifting!

 

 

How to Build a Home Gym

It’s been a couple of months since I set out to build my own home gym. Most of the work belonged to my husband who spent countless hours finishing the space in our basement, drywalling, painting and installing the floor. I focused on the components of the gym, including the equipment I wanted and how I wanted to lay it out. Now, it’s a reality and I am sharing it with you in case you can take some tips from my own experience.

One of the first challenges I faced was the lack of availability of basic equipment due to COVID-19. It seemed no matter where I searched, weights and things were out of stock. In many cases this is still true but if you persist and continue looking, you will find it! Some of the places to check include Amazon, Target, WalMart and Facebook Marketplace. You also can search the big fitness spots, such as Rogue and Giant Lifting, if you have the funds. I also spent a lot of time googling the various components and found some obscure websites that had them in stock.

And this brings me to my next point. Be careful where you are ordering from! One site I used had a New York City address but it actually shipped from a distribution warehouse in Europe, a fact I only learned when the shipping took much longer than I expected. Some sites are faster than others. The original source for my bumper plates was Fitness Armory in California, with a 10 to 12 week wait time. As of this writing, it’s been 11 weeks and they are only up to the 11K order numbers; mine was in the 14s. I ended up canceling that order after rolling the dice and ordering from Giant Lifting. They sent me plates in about four weeks, although one is missing in action and I’m still waiting to hear that outcome! It’s not easy ordering all this stuff from all these places and you definitely have to pay attention!

In terms of what I chose to purchase, it was based on my personal workout regimen with some consideration given to my husband in case he wants to also workout at home. Some of the equipment was already on hand, as well, including yoga mats, kettlebells, EZ curl bar and various dumbbells and weights. Below is a list of what I bought with a link to where I purchased the item:

Olympic bar
Pad for bar
Bench
Flooring
Squat rack
Hex bar
Adjustable dumbbells
Weights (2.5 and 5lb for Olympic bar)
Bumper plates
Stability ball
BOSU
Hip thruster
Pull-up bar
Resistance bands with handles
Booty bands
Pull-up assist bands
Ankle weights (2.5 and 5lb)

The grand total spent was $2,270, which doesn’t include the room finishing. Below are photos of the gym, along with a bit of explanation as to why I chose that piece of equipment or what it does.

HexClockBumpers
My hex bar is a 55lb bar that I perform deadlifts with. It’s much easier on my back! In the background are bumper plates. I purchased a pair of 45lb, 25lb and two pairs of 10lb weights, all based on the weight I need in a typical workout.
BallThrust
My stability ball sits nicely inside my Hip Thruster Lite from Bret Contreras. I use bands across my waist for this one and can also situate my bar to do the thrusts. I also use the back pad for Bulgarian split squats.
FoamRoll
This corner has my foam roller and Pilates balls, as well as a cabinet for odds and ends. Things you’ll find inside the drawers include workout gloves, wrist bands, ankle straps, towels, headphones, extra pair of sneakers, components to inflate the exercise ball and BOSU and pull-up resistance bands not in use.
Weights
Here is an assortment of dumbbells, kettlebells and plates. I have 5, 8 and 10lb dumbbells and an adjustable set that goes from 5 to 27.5lbs. The plates are 5 and 10lbs and they fit the EZ curl bar.
CableSystem
This is my makeshift cable system. My husband purchased handles from Home Depot that hold up to 225lbs. I add the resistance bands at the appropriate level to create the cable exercises at home.
Bosu
The BOSU is used for a variety of exercises for core, pushups, balancing and more. I also have an accent wall that is a blackboard with magnetization, as well. I write my workouts up there to refer to easily!
MatsBands
This says it all! The rack below the mantra includes my yoga mats, resistance bands and booty bands.
Bench
The lightweight workout bench moves around so I can use it to bench press or move it so I can squat or deadlift. The bench inclines and declines, as well.

As far as some other extras, my family purchased the large clock for my birthday and it has seconds on it to help with timing for certain circuits. I also have a small Bluetooth speaker to play my tunes from. In the future I do want to add a mirror on the wall behind the squat rack to help monitor form, etc.

By the way, in the background in the same room as the gym is my home office where I work for the time being due to COVID-19. I spend about 12 hours a day in this space now but I’m not mad about it! It’s a great spot and things are exactly as I want them. It’s amazing how much time we now spend at home and it’s so important to have things set up nicely to feel like you have a space for each activity and not have to use the living room!

That being said, this is a pretty full gym. If you have less space in your home and still want to set up a gym for yourself, you can still get a lot of these items and create great workouts. Resistance bands can attach to doors, for example, and dumbbells don’t take up a lot of space. So, don’t despair if you can’t add all this stuff to your home gym.

Have questions or want advice for your future home gym? Hit me up in the comments!

Do You Need Supplements?

If you pay attention even a little bit to the fitness and nutrition world, you know that supplements are big business. Even grocery stores that used to not carry things like whey protein now have entire aisles of fitness and nutrition supplements not to mention vitamins and herbs. Through the years I’ve used a variety of all kinds but over time have landed on the right formula for me. That special recipe is different for everyone, of course, but one thing holds true–there are some supplements you simply do not need.

BCAAs

I took these religiously for three years during my workouts. I erroneously thought they would help hydrate me and prevent soreness after my workouts. In truth all they really did was flavor my water and add sugar to my diet. I was afraid to stop taking them because I was convinced I would be so sore after workouts but when I finally did stop recently, I was happily surprised to see nothing had changed! Nothing! I still get the same required protein and aminos as I did when I was taking BCAAs and now I save about $35 a month! Skip these!

Pre-Workout

Again, I was dependent on this one simply out of fear that if I stopped, I would not be able to power through my lifting at the early hour of 5 a.m. Others told me to just do an espresso shot but I maintained that C4, my drug of choice, was my elixir! Turns out I don’t need it. Once you get up and start moving, your body is fine. It can power through. Truthfully, what turned out to be more important was getting something into my system at that early hour. I started drinking a protein/creatine shake during my workouts and I find I’m doing just fine. Still have energy and still making it through my workouts, even at 5:30 in the morning.

Collagen Peptides

A few people told me they took collagen peptides for healthy hair and skin. While I was growing out my pixie I took it daily in my workout shake. But, when I no longer had a need for it, I stopped. And nothing has changed. My hair is still growing like crazy, my skin is the same and I have no issues growing healthy, strong nails either. I’m not convinced it added anything but cost.

Greens

Lots of companies out there are touting “red” and “green” drinks as a way to ensure you’re getting your vegetables. It’s better for your body when you eat the real thing, guys. I get it that it’s hard to strive for five and I’m not perfect in that area but we all need to commit to trying. We’ll be healthier and it’s probably less expensive, too. Even spirulina and greens shots add little value to your daily diet. I know there are some who would disagree but personally I have noticed no difference. This is the one place, though, where I will sometimes add this supplement back into my diet–when I’m doing a cleanse. It’s helpful to saturate myself with all the healthy things and it helps clear out the not so nice things left in my system.

Vitamins and Herbs

I have never taken an herb that I felt actually did what it was supposed to do except for Fenugreek back when I was nursing my children. Herbal supplements are not necessary. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you don’t need them. Now, if you have a special condition or health issue, you could very well benefit from herbal supplements but if you are healthy with no issues, skip them. As for vitamins, I do take a lot! But, they are mostly to help me with specific issues related to aging. I recommend everyone take a good quality multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D in the winter (if you live in a cloudy area) and a probiotic. Beyond that? You don’t need anything.

For those who are curious, I also take vitamin C, B complex, calcium and magnesium. C helps my immune system (I have three kids!), and the rest are helpful as I age through peri-menopause and have helped me with various symptoms.

Notice I have not mentioned two other popular supplements–whey protein and creatine. That’s because I take both of those and feel they are worth it for muscle building. I don’t need whey every day because I do consume enough protein-rich foods but it helps me in the morning when I just need to have something in my system for my workout. Creatine gives me the extra push I need to really progress with my weight training. I usually take it for about 8 weeks and then take a break from it just to switch it up and keep my muscles guessing. Both supplements are terrific for when you are trying to gain and both have healthy versions with little to know extra ingredients.

When it comes to supplements, I say try what you think might be helpful to you and see how it goes. But never feel like you need to be dependent on them and always be honest with yourself about whether you really do need them. Don’t be afraid to stop taking them and see what happens. You may be surprised to learn you don’t need them after all!

 

A Review of 5 Podcasts for Spiritual and Physical Health

I never thought I’d get into podcasts. I had tried in the past to listen to them but could never stay tuned long enough nor could I find the time when I was alone and could really listen to them. The gym was never a great place because I needed the beat. The car was never a great place because kids! Over time, things have evolved to where I am in the car for longer periods alone and have finally gotten hooked on a few podcasts! Now that I’m working from home I find that I even miss them! Here are 5 I’ve been listening to off and on with my honest personal review. 

Stronger by Science

This podcast is hosted by Eric Trexler but he typically has Greg Nuckols alongside him. They are “bros” in the sense that they talk more about male-related topics than female, if there is such a thing. I get the sense when I’m listening that they are really talking to my husband! But, all that aside, they do share a lot of cool scientific studies and data associated with training and nutrition, which I appreciate. Their website is a wealth of information; all of their episodes are indexed so you can do a keyword search on any topic and probably find something they’ve said about it. I have only scratched the surface on the amount of content these guys generate. Their podcast is a bit on the long side so plan to listen to it in tiny chunks if you don’t have more than an hour to spare. It’s great for long car rides, though! Oh, and if you aren’t a fan of sarcasm, you may want to skip this one!

Mind Pump

One that posts a new episode nearly every day, Mind Pump is great fun. Things I like? The host reviews a “table of contents” at the beginning so you know what’s in the episode. I often skip ahead to the listener Q and A but it’s always good to know what they’re chatting about so you know if it’s an episode you’re interested in. Mind Pump often includes content that really resonates with me so although it is a bunch of guys, they talk about training and nutrition tips for hard gainers, women and more. Things I don’t like? There is a fair amount of sponsor posts and them trying to sell their own programs. I finally did buy one and am in week two of it. The jury is still out on whether they really do know what they’re talking about! Seriously, they do know and as a personal trainer and nutrition coach I like that they talk about things that are not often accepted by clients or necessarily believed by clients. Mind Pump is a great service to the fitness community!

Your Best Life with Anna Victoria

This is a newer podcast by fitness trainer, Anna Victoria, who has quite the social media following, mostly on Instagram. She has her own fitness training app with a nutrition component and often is featured in top women’s magazines. She is wholesome and sweet and often features her husband in the podcast, too, which is cute. Her content skews a bit younger, though, and I am not always interested in her special guests. It’s very current, though, and if you are pregnant or expecting she covers a lot of ground there as she, too, is expecting. Her episodes are nearly an hour in length but she also sprinkles in shorter 10 to 15 ones she calls “Real Talk” that just touch on tips or quick thoughts. This podcast is new and I expect it will age nicely, especially among the 20 and 30 something women who tune in.

Ask Father Josh

Turning to spiritual health for this next podcast. If you’re Catholic you will definitely want to check this out but even non-Catholics would learn a ton from this zany priest from New Orleans. He’s hip, he’s fun and he’s not afraid to talk about ANYTHING. Taboo topics come up all the time and he handles them with truth and grace. The show is fun, on the shorter side closer to 30 minutes, and a great way for me to reconcile my faith with real life. Father Josh is goofy but incredibly smart and he explains difficult concepts eloquently in a way everyone can understand. The only drawback on this one is the production value isn’t great. The volume often goes up and down. Plus, he does have a random commercial for Ascension Press, the producer of the podcast. Overall, though, it’s one to listen to, if you have any interest at all in Catholicism.

All Things Catholic

This podcast is also on the shorter side, coming out weekly usually on Tuesday. It’s geared a bit more toward families and how they can live their faith. What I like about it is that the host himself is a husband and father and often brings his wife on the program. They have several kids and they struggle with the same things I struggle with in terms of how to keep faith front and center in a world that often goes against all of it. I have learned a lot of little tips on how to make daily prayer easier, include my children and encourage their faith formation and even a few marriage tips along the way. The host has his doctorate and adds his scholarship to the mix, too, which satisfies the nerd in me!

There is literally a podcast for everyone and every topic you can think of. These five have been in my car playlist for a while now but others pop in every so often, too. If I had more time, I’m sure I’d listen to even more. It’s great to be able to learn and be entertained at the same time. My physical and spiritual health is super important to me right now and with my limited time, podcasts are helping me keep my focus on them! What podcasts are you listening to? Any fitness, nutrition or spiritual life ones I should check out? Drop a comment below!