Loving Yourself is Hard

Self-love. What a loaded topic, my goodness. 

I’ll start with this- I am a firm believer that you do not need to love yourself 24/7 to be deserving of someone else’s love. I think the phrase ‘you have to love yourself before someone else can’ is complete bullshit. Consistent & unfaltering self-love/acceptance is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to achieve, & that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be loved & cared for by others. 

So… How the heck does this relate to fitness?

In my opinion, being active is a strong showing of self-love. Whether you’re exercising to change the way your body looks; exercising to improve how you feel on a daily basis; exercising to build mental & physical strength; or just want to change up your day. You are a fucking rockstar for taking care of yourself. & it’s not always easy!

Some days I hate myself. 

Some days I think I’m a divine goddess.

Some days I’m like ‘yo Leda you’re freakin lit’.

Some days I want to change everything about myself.

& ALL of these ideas about myself influence how (or if) I exercise.

The days where I’m feeling down or not particularly fond of myself- my motivation to exercise is either nowhere to be found, or its there for all the wrong reasons. This can look like feeling ‘not good enough so I need to go workout & burn calories’. It can look like ‘I literally don’t care if I ever lift again’ (which is not true at all….depression flares R liars). It can look like going to the gym & having a shit workout because I hate everything I’m doing.

Days where I feel happy & enjoy who I am- my motivation to workout is usually high, and it’s based more on the idea that exercising is good for me & makes me feel good. These days also help me choose things that come up in life over the gym…because it’s healthy to do that. For me, being a fit person doesn’t mean I can’t live & eat & do things outside of the gym. BALANCE AMIRITE 

I think having balance & putting what my body needs before anything else has made my fitness journey sustainable. It’s enjoyable to be in the gym because I want to be there. I’m there because I love it & it’s good for my physical and mental health. 

Figuring out what makes you feel like you’re dusted in lit sauce is SOOO important! Whether you’re beginning your fitness journey, are a seasoned lifter, or never plan to step foot in a gym ever. If you’re doing things you hate it’ll be even harder to uncover all the love inside of you. 

Try new shit. 

Move your body. 

Discover what makes you feel good.

Working out makes me feel good. So does eating a pint of ice cream. & because I love myself, I allow myself to have both 😉 

The Secret of Strength

Deadlifts.

That’s the secret..

Deadlifts are the greatest (or worst, depending how you see things) test of full-body strength. They’re not like squats, curls, or bench press where you can cheat a little & get the weight up. If some ounce of your body isn’t strong enough for the weight you’re trying to pull, you aren’t pulling shit.

How-to Video

Deadlifts are typically done with a barbell, but there are tons of variations you can take to accommodate your level of strength or the equipment available to you. Deadlifts can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, single-leg variations,trap bar deadlifts, & the list goes on and on. No matter what variation you choose, the same form tips apply.

Keep your spine neutral– think table-top from your pelvis to the top of your head.

Move from your hips & start at the ground.

Keep your arms straight rather than pulling the bar up with your arms. Use your arms, upper back, and shoulders to stabilize the bar.

Adjust so the weight works for you – this can mean a change of stance (wide-leg/sumo), adjusting the weight load, or changing the amount of reps performed.

Q: What muscles do deadlifts train?

A: All of them.

Seriously… Hamstrings, glutes, and lower back are the main muscles used. However, your entire spine is called to action to keep itself in a neutral position. Your upper back, core (abs), chest, arms, & shoulders lend themselves to stabilize the bar & your spine. Your ankles and calves help stabilize your stance & keep you in place. Your hands are busy getting fcked up by the bar due to the fact you’re using them to grip the dead weight you’re lifting..

Essentially, deadlifts can make you strong as hell.

Think about it- being able to perform the deadlift means you can lift dead weight. That’s pretty awesome.

Keep up the great work!

Muscle Gain, Fat Loss, Weight Loss, OhMy!

IM BACK!

Happy 2017 yall

To begin- you are enough. No diet, exercise, scale, or clothing size will change how great you already are.

This is going to be a quick resurrection of my blog; a snack-sized rant/clarification on weight loss confusions & frustrations that come with strength training. 

Across the fitness world & the ~real~ world (what even is the real world anyway?) there is a lot of focus on weight.

How much do you weigh?

How much weight do you want to lose? How do you plan to lose the weight? 

Oooo how much weight did you gain on that trip/during the holidays/last year?

How much weight do you lift? Are you purposely gaining muscle??? 

& just to be clear- you’re supposed to feel terrible about yourself no matter what your response to any of the above is. The world/media/haters & losers (haha) will always have a clap back for the way you’re living your life & why you’re not good enough.

I REPEAT, YOU ARE DEFINITELY ENOUGH!! 

But to further correct the confusion of mixed messages- transitioning into a more active lifestyle is going to change a lot of things. The beginning will be difficult, your feelings toward the switch will fluctuate, your weight will fluctuate. 

When you strength train, you build muscle. Muscle burns more calories per hour- even when you’re not working out- and begins to force fat out of your bod. You’ll definitely drop lbs at first, but as you become stronger & gain muscle, you may gain weight too. This can be discouraging if you’re tracking your journey via a scale (or via those pants you’ve been saving ‘just in case’)..

Here is the key piece of information: Muscle weighs more than fat. 

As you gain muscle, lose fat, burn more calories, & eat more to fuel your muscle- you will probably gain weight. This does not mean you’re failing!!! 

Stay fab & keep getting stronger! 

*peace*

Acro Yoga Challenge Experience

So. I follow a lot of 20-something insta-yogis (on Instagram)…Who all seem to be friends with eachother despite the fact that most of them live across the globe from eachother (I can barely maintain friendships with people who live 2 hrs away ??). & who all seem to have perfected the art of looking graceful while doing impossibly difficult yoga poses/vinyasas 🙂 They can effortlessly press into a handstand. Simply float through space. Everything is always bendy & pretzel-like…even the poses & flows they dub as ‘gentle’ or ‘back-to-basics’.

This portrayal of yoga can be really frustrating. Of course there are a lot of yogis who keep it real af on Instagram, but it feels like the norm is this unachievable level of perfection in ones yoga practice. Yoga, in its essence, is imperfect (that’s my own, extremely personalised view). It’s the movement of the human body united with the human mind- how could that ever be perfect?? 

With that being said; my sister & I decided to try one of the yoga challenges hosted by an insta-yogi. It was a five day ~acro yoga~ Soul Sister challenge. How hard could it be??? I do yoga pretty consistently so I can guide us. My sister & I are both pretty strong, we should be able to do the poses right? 

Here’s our experience in the form of photos. (For more pics, search #soulsisteracroyogachallenge on Instagram or find it on my page: @leedle_g)

Day 1: Scorpion Pose on Down Dog

  

Off to a great start!! .. After 20 mins of intermittent hysterical laughing & attempts at the pose, we decided this was good enough 

Day 2: Handstand Backbend on Forward Fold

  
~trap yoga~ 

Day 3: L-Sit Ups 

Seconds after this, my sisters face flew toward the wall as she lost her balance. Obviously more laughter ensued once I made sure she didn’t break her face…

Day 4: Forward Fold + Reverse Forward Fold (???)

  

WE FINALLY GOT CLOSE TO THE ACTUAL POSE ….after about 10 attempts

Day 5: Bow on Wheel

Honestly we did not even attempt this one any further than me getting into wheel pose & my sister pressing on me with her hand. No way in hell was I going to hold her entire body up with my back bent LOL 

What did we learn from this challenge? Yoga is not mean to be perfect. & neither are we! The failures we had day after day trying to squeeze into poses together was a lot of fun, & that’s what counts. Laughing is the BEST ab workout. Trust me on this one… & finally, my favorite truth of all, SOCIAL MEDIA IS A LIAR!!!! Instagram & the likes allow you to put your best face/body/life forward. That doesn’t mean it reflects REAL life. 

So enjoy the things that trip you up, make the most out of silly moments, & stay tru 2 U!! 🙂 

Overnight Oats!

I am not a big ‘meal prep’ person.. Mainly because I have no clue what the hell I’m going to want to eat a week ahead of time/I am lazy. Sure, my body would thank me if I put time into planning healthy & filling meals for the whole week. And I bet my gains would skyrocket. But let’s be real here- I’m not ready to commit to such a pre-planned food life. I also am not that concerned with what I’m eating to dedicate to meal prepping every week.. I eat what makes me feel good & give myself ~creative license~ on food otherwise categorized as ‘not-so-good-for-you’.

So, with that being said, overnight oats are the closest I get to a consistent meal prep. They’re great for a grab-and-go breakfast or anytime snack. You can customize them with your preferred add-ins. They take about two minutes to whip up. They’re great!!

*I don’t use exact measurements.. so this may be a little vague, but it’s pretty hard to mess this up 😉

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 parts milk (dairy or non-dairy, I use almond milk)
  • 2 parts dry oats
  • 1 part chia seeds
  • 1 part greek yogurt
  • honey/agave (up to you how sweet you want it)
  • any other spices/add-ins

How To:

Add the yogurt, oats, & milk in a container. I usually use a 2-cup mason jar….Well, I use whatever is clean if I’m being honest.. Mix this trio together.

Pour in your chia seeds & honey. You’ll want to mixture to be liquidy at this point, so add more milk if needed! Throw in anything else you’d like. I added raspberries to my oat concoction today. 

After the mix has a few hrs to absorb the milk & chill (literally- refrigerate it when you’re done), it’s ready! It’ll be thicker after its chilled, that’s normal. 

Since I use random amounts of each ingredient, I don’t exactly have a ‘nutrition facts’for this recipe.. What I do know: Overnight oats are full of protein, fiber, & healthy fats! They’ll keep you going longer than most quick hunger fixes. If you make this for a snack/breakfast, you won’t regret it 🙂 

Enjoy!! 

Almond Chocolate Blondies

I’ve decided to step up my baking game. & my gains game.. To accomplish both, I’m on a mission to incorporate more high-protein baked goods into my life. So here’s my first round of ~protein baking~ that doesn’t involve pancakes!!

*if you are allergic to almonds, this is not the post for you… almonds galore here, people*

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein (or whatever flavor you see fit)
  • 2/3 cup crushed almonds
  • 2/3 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 whole eggs

Steps to Awesomeness:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350, line your baking pan/try of choice with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the coconut oil until it’s soft, or complete liquid.. I did the latter.
  3. Combine melted coconut oil with almond butter & mix away! Simultaneously (not rlly) whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.
  4. Add the eggs and agave to your butter bowl. 
  5. Add almonds to the mix & fold them in until the consistency becomes thicker. Now’s your time to add protein powder if you so choose!
  6. Chop up your chocolate & cashews, mix them into your batter. Now would be a good time to add any additional fillings if you wish to. If the mixture seems too dry, pour a splash of almond milk in.   
  7. Pour your deliciousness into your baking vehicle (???) & set the oven timer to 20 mins. You may need to check them after this time & make sure the middle isn’t still totally raw.
  8. ENJOI!!!! …..once they have cooled down

  
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Macros: 

  • 260 calories
  • 20g fat- 5g saturated, 2g polyunsaturated, 5g monounsaturated
  • 12g carbs- 4g fiber, 5g sugar
  • 10g protein
  • + iron, vitamin B, vitamin E, copper, ribo~flavin~, & LOADS of other vitamins & minerals


     

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

A few days ago I decided to attempt to squat 205lbs… 

How is this relevant to asking for help? 

Well, I had just squatted a personal best of 195 the day before, along with a lengthy set of deadlifts. My body (especially the lower end) was tired. I’d never broken 200lbs before. But I thought I was ready. 

I did one slow, slightly painful rep. I got back up from under 205 lbs! 😀 

Of course that wasn’t enough…

I stepped up to the bar ready for round two. Stared at myself in the mirror for a while, contemplated if the song I chose was the right song, stared some more… 

I was going to do this. 

‘Not so fast there, pal!’ my brain screeched…. Ok, maybe I’m not going to do this. 

I was offered a spot & hestitantly accepted the offer. Before I even started to squat this person noticed a form issue I had (I wasn’t squaring off my feet) & pointed it out… I fixed my form according to the advice I was given & got myself ready to start (again).

I got all the way parallel, started to come back up, & before I got 3/4 of the way- I panicked. I felt myself inching back down…the opposite of where I needed to go.. So. I called on the help that was there to support me. It was kind of awkward & I felt like I had failed. 

Those negative feelings quickly went away once I realized how hilarious it was that I panicked even though I knew someone was right there to catch me. I didn’t fail. I tried something new; I reached a new one-rep max & I let someone help me when I tried to take it further.

That’s the point of accepting other people’s help- none of us can do everything on our own. We need the support of others at certain moments in our life. Whether that support comes in the weight room, at work, in the grocery store, when a crisis hits; whether it comes from a close friend, or from a complete stranger…it’s never a bad thing to embrace!

There is always going to be someone to help you. You never have to panic about impending doom or failure.

Enjoy the journey my friends. & remember to let a little help in from time to time 🙂

P.S.- I wrote this post at night while trying to sleep & it relieved a significant amount of anxiety that had built up in my mind/body. Not sure why.. Maybe it has something to do with allowing all of you to help me release my thoughts?? 

Workout Wednesday: Bi’s & Tri’s Partner Workout

~Happy Workout Wednesday~*~

Yayy for working out with a friend! I find it fun to work out with someone else because you can switch up your routine & have some fun with your workout. Workouts should be fun even when you’re alone, but sometimes ya just need that extra spice.  That extra spice (in this case) is a workout partner.

The reason I decided to try out an arm-focused partner lift: my younger sister has been coming to the gym with me & actually lifting 😀 Sooooo I have to find ways to keep her interested & occupied at all times…or else she’ll be lost to the world of distraction.

On this particular day, it was time to train arms. Here’s what I came up with*:

Barbell Curl & Pass: Stand across from your partner. DO 1 rep of a barbell curl, pass the bar to them. Wait for them to curl 1 rep and do 2 reps when you get the bar back. Work your way up to 10 reps. If you’re feeling extra strong & ~vascular~, work your way back down to 1 rep!

Tricep Dips: 4×8    +    Jumping Jacks: until partner is ready to switch

I threw in some cardio because you should keep your heart muscles working too..So you can strengthen your friendship while you strengthen your arms!! HAHA

Skullcrushers: 4×12    +    Switch Lunges (switch leg after each rep): until partner is ready to switch

Tricep Rope Push-down: 4×12    +    Hammer Curls: 4×10

Finish with whatever cardio you like- keep the partner pattern going & have fun! Add some more lifts if you so desire. Adjust the rep/set ratio if needed.

Drink lots of water, friends! Feed your body the fuel it needs. Enjoy!

 

*You can most definitely do this workout solo!!! Just modify the switching activities to a certain amount of time in between your own set! 🙂

Workout Wednesday- Equipment Free Workout

Today, I have for you a full body, circuit-style, at-home workout. 

It’s not always ideal to need the gym in order to get your daily workout in (especially in January when it’s more crowded than the mall on Black Friday). Sometimes you just need to sweat it out at home! Sometimes an at-home workout ends up being more effective than what you would’ve done at the gym! 

Here’s a quick, equipment-free circuit I came up with:

  • 1 min burpees
  • 10 staggered push-ups* (each side)   
  • 1 min mountain climber
  • 15 lunges (each leg)

Repeat this circuit 4-5 times. Try to keep rest time in between moves & rounds under 1 minute. The alternating cardio + strength will keep your muscles confused. Your body will start to burn fat quicker with this circuit style. You’ll definitely feel the burn!! (& so will your muscles)

Drink lots of water. Feed your body the fuel it needs. Keep moving. You got this 🙂

*I have a quick video showing this move on my Instagram: @leedle_g

Start Your New Year’s Resolution NOW

The new year is a crazy time. The world of fitness & health gets more frustrating than usual- filled with people jumping into new fitness routines, people who vowed to make this year their year

We’re all guilty of this ‘new year, new me’ mindset. We start making promises to ourselves to change all of the things we didn’t like about the previous year. We tell ourselves this year will be different- we’ll get in shape, we’ll run that marathon, we’ll finally try those healthy recipes that have been bookmarked for months..

Why do we need the number at the end of today’s date to change to allow ourselves to be better? What is the purpose of waiting? Maybe it helps us put off our own health without feeling guilty, because ‘once January comes around things will be different’…’the new year is when I’ll get serious about working out’. 

Here’s my advice to you (& myself): START NOW!!!

Start researching. There’s a wealth of information for anyone new to the world of fitness & health & wellness. Here are some of my favorite user-friendly places to search:

  • BodyBuilding.com Sooooo many free workout plans, informative articles, exercise how-tos, & even supplements! This is literally how I built my lifting knowledge-base. 
  • Fitness Blender I just discovered these guys. Their YouTube channel has a plethora of at-home workouts that range from interval cardio to weight training.
  • Bad Yogi Official Erin Motz is a seasoned yogi who totally gets that most people who do yoga are not experts… She has lots of free classes that make you feel good about your imperfect practice 🙂

It’s going to take some time before you find a fitness regime you really enjoy. It’s going to take even more time before your hard work is gratified with visible results.

Experiment with different types of exercise. Figure out the different things you’d like to try now.

Make small changes each day so you don’t shock your system & give up when it gets too difficult too fast. 

Get a jump start on your 2016 goals!! Have fun, try new things, & never give up on yourself! 

I hope you all have a wonderfully funky final week of 2015. 

~peace & all good~