My 2016 Fitness Goals

In 2016 I want to challenge myself to continue being fit and active while also working towards new fitness goals. I’ve been an gym goer for three years now and I’m so happy I decided to give it a try! Going to the gym makes me so happy and feel great about myself – I’m honestly a huge gym and fitness activist. I love that I have the strength to do tasks at home or at work without asking for help from others. As I’ve continued to do weight training, I’ve surpassed weights that I never thought I would be able to lift. I’m a five foot, small framed young woman, and generally my body type is not seen as being strong. But I’ve definitely surprised some guys at the gym who are pretty impressed at the weight I can squat!

Just because I’ve already reached a lot of goals doesn’t mean I should stop improving. In 2016, during spring and summer in particular I want to try new exercises during my cuts that will not only help me reach my fitness goals, but also my physical appearance goal. Reaching that goal is about endurance training and personal perseverance. Even though it’s only the new year and Minnesota has at least three more months of winter, I’m ready for spring so I can get back to running outside and start cutting!

Running a 5K | Above all other fitness goals I have set for myself, running a 5K would be the number one goal I want to achieve. I was never good at running while growing up and my mile runs in middle and high school were embarrassingly slow. I’m so proud of myself to now be able to run a mile in eight minutes, and running continuously for three miles. Now I want to do an actually 5K so I can be times, get one of those stickers for the back of my car, and proudly wear my T-shirt around the gym showing I was able to do it.

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Photo courtesy of PicJumbo.com

My dad recently went through a huge lifestyle change and he also wants to go for a 5K this year! It would be great if we could run it together and say we both achieved our goals of running a 5K! It was only this past fall that I started running outside, either before work or on the weekends, and it’s 10 times better than running a treadmill. Winter cardio is going to be rough

Incorporating a jump rope | My dad gave me and Jake a few Amazon gift cards for Christmas so we decided to finally purchase a jump rope. I’ve seen people using jump ropes at the gym in between sets for the past three years, and it’s been something that I’ve wanted to add into my fitness routine for a while. For the past two springs, I’ve done resistance training with low weights, high reps on all of the same routines that I usually stick to. While these have worked for my routine, this spring I’d like to try some new exercises that involve more high interval training, and adding in a jump rope for more cardio and calorie burning. Ideally I’d like to bring the jump rope to the gym on squat and dead lift days to do a few intervals in between sets, but my gym sometimes does not offer enough space for that to happen. I’m definitely going to use the jump rope during backyard kettle bell workouts to add in some cardio.

Do my ab exercises.
As much as I love going to the gym and being active, I absolutely hate ab exercises. I don’t want to do them. Ever. But if I want meet my fitness goals, I’m going to have to stick to them. First, I should ALWAYS be doing leg lifts when I’m at the gym. On leg day, back day, cardio day, chest day, anytime. I also should be doing exercises with my five pound kettle bell in my living room when I’m watching TV. Five sets will do it, just as if I were at the gym, but I’m going to have to stick with it. I think I hate ab exercises so much because the old saying, “abs are made in the kitchen,” is totally true for me. I have to be EXTREMELY diligent about the foods I eat in order for my abs to make an appearance in summer. And it’s not just about eating healthy, it’s about eliminating foods that have a higher carb and sugar count.

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Photo courtesy of PicJumbo.com


Lift 200 | 
My strength went up a lot this year and I’m so proud of my current personal records! I’ve added my current personal records on my basic lifts below. The goal for 2016 is to break 200 on one of those lifts!

Squat: 185
Dead Lift: 185
Chest Press: 80
Shoulder Press: 65

Obviously it’s not going to happen on chest or shoulder press; those muscles are so weak on me. I have a feeling I’ll hit 200 on squats before dead lifts, even though it should be the other way around. My legs were made to squat!

Squat Jake | So I’m already able to squat Jake’s weight, but I’m so scarred to try squatting Jake himself! Squatting a person is so much different than a bar. People tend to move and be a little more lumpy than a barbell.

A Year Ahead | 2016 Goals

I’m a firm believer of living in the moment and try very hard not to dwell on what could happen in the future (or what has already happened), but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. Last year, my main goal was to become for organized and I think I achieved that. I now use a daily planner that I keep in my purse and have a weekly whiteboard that hangs in the kitchen with the schedule on it. For 2016, I decided to have a few goals to reach for instead of just one big one.

Be more creative.
My main goal for 2016 is to be more creative. I’ve never been someone who is into photography or art – I simply do not think on a creative level. I much prefer tasks to be written down or in a schedule before I do them, rather than performing on the spot. How does one measure creativity though? Not too sure, but I’m going to figure it out. I’ve already invested in a nice camera (well nice for me) – a Canon PowerShot SX530 HS digital camera on Black Friday and I’ve playing around with taking photos of products for my blog and of everyday life. Please if you have any helpful tips with photography, leave them below! Currently, I’m trying to figure out how to add watermarks to my photos without having Photoshop, so we’ll see how that goes. For Christmas Jake got me a tripod so I’ll be able to easily take pictures for my blog and maybe take some short videos for Instagram! I also hope that a camera would be a great investment for traveling throughout the year. Finally, recommitting myself to blogging is another way for me to be more creative. It gets me thinking and brings me back to my love of writing!

I also wouldn’t mind taking on a few more projects around the house and giving DIYs a chance. There’s a lot of opportunities in our house for updating, even if it’s just painting or staining, and that’s something I know I’m fully capable of doing. It’s having the time and patience to get it done is where I need to focus in on. We’ve already made a DY headboard for our bed made from some wood, batting, and fabric, inspired by this post from Kindle Your Creativity I found on Pinterest. I’d also like to do some DIY crafts to add decorations around the house.

Keep traveling.
Over the past year I’ve started traveling and making lists of where I’d like to visit! In 2015 I visited Iceland, San Francisco, Duluth, and the North Shore in Minnesota – while Duluth and the North Shore are only short road trips I still consider them to be a traveling experience since neither are places are travel on a regular basis. Jake and I haven’t made any solid plans yet, but we are really hoping to continue traveling around every six months or so. I’m not sure we’ll be able to keep to that, given my new work schedule and Jake starting up school full time, but hopefully we’ll be able to fit in another international trip in 2016.

Some of my tops places I’d like to visit include Australia, New Zealand, Greece, and France. We may actually have a chance to visit Australia and New Zealand in the next two years because one of Jake’s friends is moving to Australia to go to medical school! I’m hoping we’ll be able to swing a visit when his friend is nearing the end of his education in Australia. I may be visiting a friend in Los Angeles during the spring that would include a trip to Disney Land! We had also hoped to visit Alaska over the summer, but those plans unfortunately fell through so we may looking into that ourselves. The other option for 2016 that will likely happen is visiting Mexico, Puerto Rico, or a country in Central America – probably someplace that is a little more touristy than we’re used to.

Get that tattoo.
I’ve been talking about getting a certain tattoo for over a year now and I just haven’t take the time to do it. Ironically, the tattoo has to do with living in the moment instead of looking the future. I need to take the time to find the font that I want this phrase tattooed in and bring it into an artist. Currently I have three tattoos, all of which are very simple or are words, so that tattoo I want isn’t that much different than those, but if that’s what I like then it make sense to do it! At some point I’d like to invest and get a larger, custom tattoo in memory of mom or on my shoulder/back area, but I have no idea where I want to start with that right now.

Continue to improve and grow.
I’ve changed and grown so much as a person since I graduated from high school and college, so much more than I ever thought I would. Just when I think I’m done growing and I’ve found who I am, I’m surprised at how I can continue to change. I’ve become very active and physically fit in the past three years, something that I would have never seen in myself as during high school or college. I’ve learned to cook meals and enjoy a wider variety of foods since the simple meals in the college years. Cooking is something I’ve grown to be very good at and love making our meals for the week.

I’m excited to continue on my fitness journey and hope to be in even better shape than I was last year. Some of my goals for my fitness journey in 2016 are to incorporate high interval training into my spring routine. I plan to purchase a jumping rope that I can use during kettle bell workouts in the backyard and also while doing squats and dead lifts at the gym. I’d also love to do 5K this year, hopefully with my dad, something I’ve never done before. During December, I hit a few personal records at the gym and I’m hoping to continue growing those numbers, especially on my chest press since that’s my weakest muscle group at the moment. I’ll go into specifics of my fitness goals in another post.

Be happy.
My ultimate goal in life is to be happy. As long as I’m doing what makes me happy, no matter what anyone else thinks, that’s what matters. This blog is one of those things I’m happy to being doing and spending time on. Going to the gym and being active makes me happy, so I work hard at the lifestyle. Be happy.

Whatever your goals are for 2016, I hope that you can achieve them all! A new year is a great time to make changes or setting new goals! However, don’t feel like that you can’t make changes or update your goals throughout the year. Do what makes you happy and works the best for you. Happy New Year! Ready for new adventures!

Gym Accessories I Love & Recommend

The New Year is nearing and many New Year’s Resolutions include being more healthy and getting active! I can already tell that people are starting in on these resolutions as the traffic at the gym has picked up a lot since November – but that’s good! I’ve been a gym goer now since about fall of 2012. It’s a hobby that I love, and I share with others to encourage them to give a new activity a try. I was not into running when I started, so instead I stuck with lifting weights. In 2013, my New Year’s Resolution was to start running and it took me until this past year to really feel like I was good at it. I actually enjoy getting in a good run, especially when I can get a run in outside during the fall – my favorite!

If you’re just starting out at the gym life, go for it! Do what you can and work towards your goals. If you’re like me and work better when you have certain accessories, like having a cute desk organizer at the office, then having some fun gym accessories will make going to gym that much more exciting. Now, I’m saying that all of these items are necessary. In fact a lot of these are things that you can forgo for a long time, but they’re are add-in to your gym bag that I love and totally recommend purchasing if your goal is to stick to the gym and become more fit.

Gym Bag 
So you’re going to need a gym bag to put all of these cool items in. You can use whatever you have around the house or what’s easiest for you to carry around day-to-day. I head to the gym right after work so I bring everything I need and leave it in my car. A backpack works great and can be easily carried so you can carry a briefcase or purse if you’re going to the gym directly from work or school. I got a basic gym bag on Amazon when I started going to the gym, but it only lasted a year before starting to tear. If you’re going to buy a new bag, I recommend getting a good quality one right away to carry the weight of clothes, shoes, water bottle, etc. I purchase a basic Adidas bag on Ebay, new with tags, for a deal around $15, similar to this one here. And it’s purple, my favorite color! It doesn’t have a lot of pockets, but it’s roomy and I can fit all of my gym clothes and shoes then all my work clothes when I’m heading home after my workout.

Fitbit
I’ve already raved on about how much I enjoy my Fitbit in a previous post, but I’m again going to tell you that I’ve had my Flex since August and it’s my favorite gym/fitness accessory. If you’re someone who likes to make to-do lists or likes planning tasks on paper, then you’ll probably benefit a lot from having a Fitbit as you go through your fitness journey. I love seeing how many calories I’ve burned throughout the day and doing the Workweek Hustle challenges with my friends. Since I switched to my new job about a month ago, I’m very happy to report that I’m getting A TON more steps in than I used to! Seriously, go get one!

Blender Bottle
Some may not think that a Blender Bottle is essential to keep in a gym bag, but in my opinion it’s the best option for a water bottle. I personally own two Blender Bottles so that I have a back-up if I leave one at work or it still needs to be washed from the day before. Mine also come with a loop on the top which is handy for a carabiner.  I shared my go to recipe for my breakfast protein shake a few posts ago and I always use my Blender Bottle to make mine. I also like to use it when I’m taking Emergen-C or those Crystal Light packets to shake everything up. It’s also the water bottle that I bring on vacation, hiking, or throw into a (large) purse because I know it doesn’t leak. A few years ago, I purchased a Camelbak because it’s claim is that it’s leak-proof and it has a lifetime guarantee. While I still prefer my Camelbak for the straw on days I’m running at the gym, I have had three caps that have all leaked when I’ve put the bottle in my gym bag after a workout.

Athletic Clothes and Shoes
While I don’t think going out and purchasing all new gym  clothes in totally necessary, I do think that a few good items makes getting dressed for the gym a lot more fun. For the ladies, investing in a comfortable sports bra that works for your body is key. My favorite are the ones with thinner racerback straps – they put a lot less pressure on the upper back and shoulders. I also really enjoy athletic running shorts that are made from the wicking material. Any old tees or tanks are perfect for working out, so no need to invest in those.

Investing in a good pair of cross trainers or running shoes, depending on your fitness routine, is definitely worth it. I went about a year without investing in good shoes because I didn’t think they were needed. Once I challenged myself to start running, I bought basic Asics for around $40 – a great investment then upgraded when I started getting better. As for lifting shoes, you generally want something that more flat and stable. For my lifting days, I also have the Asics Gel Fit Tempo Cross-Training shoe which I love! I got these on sale in early 2015 and I don’t want have to ever replace them – great for lifting too!

Other Basics
In addition to all the fun gadgets mentioned above, it’s a great idea to always have an extra pair of socks, headphones, antibacterial wipes, a mini Febreze, and a small towel in your bag. If you’re someone who likes to shower right after a workout, then you’ll want to add your preferred toiletries and a towel to dry if your gym doesn’t provide them. In the three years I’ve been a gym goer, I’ve never showered at the gym so I don’t keep any of that in my bag. That sounds a little gross, I know, but I use to live a block from my gym and I usually never plan anything too close to when I have a gym date scheduled.  If you plan your gym dates after you leave work and you live in a colder climate, then I recommend bringing your gym bag into your job or office from your car to keep your clothes warmer. There’s nothing fun about putting clothes on that have been in a 20 degree car all day. I usually grab my bag at lunch and let it sit in my office.

Of course accessories aren’t going to be the reason you start a fitness routine or become more fit as the year goes on – that’s all about you. But you can do it. Once you have your reasons for your fitness routine, you’ll have your motivation! I know it sounds crazy to some that I love going to the gym, lifting weights, or running, but it’s the truth and make me more happy than any of my other hobbies.

Happy New Year Everyone! Hope all your resolutions are attained this upcoming year. Leave your fitness goals or New Year’s Resolutions below, I’d love to hear what they are.

My Fitbit (Yes, it’s totally worth it!)

Near the end of the summer, I invested in a Fitbit Flex after a friend of mine purchased one herself. I had toyed around with the idea of getting one for a bit (no pun intended), but wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth investing in. How could a such a watch-like item really help my fitness routine? I knew a few other people that had a Fitbit and my dad also got an activity tracker during the spring when he started losing weight, so I knew I wouldn’t be alone in counting my steps per day.

At the time I decided to buy a Fitbit it was back to school time and I happened to get a deal on my Flex for $80 at Sports Authority, which usually runs around $100, plus I had a gift card from Christmas I hadn’t used which gave me another discount. I ended up purchasing the service plan for the Flex since I was getting a discount, just in case. I got mine in black since I had seen some other that look dirty after they get some wear and tear over time, and I’m super happy that I did. After a few days, I had some issues with my Flex syncing the silent alarms. I called Fitbit’s support number, and after a few conversations they sent me a new Flex, no problem. I thought that was some of the best customer service I could ever get. Fast forward a few days, the new Flex had arrived at my door, but my syncing issue had also resolved. I ended up keeping the Flex, but gave it to my boyfriend since we workout together and he was also interested in tracking his sleeping patterns, as he works nights.

My main motivation behind finally getting a Fitbit was to see if my workouts were actually doing what I wanted. I wanted to know if I was hitting the steps I needed per day, if I was burning enough calories versus my calories in. I’m the type of person who likes clear directions, instructions in front of me, and solid answers to my curiosity. I paired up my Flex with the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, and started my first Workweek Hustle with a few friends. I went about with my gym routines that week, and was upset when I saw I wasn’t hitting the goals I thought I had been this whole time. For the past three years, I had become a total gym-body, weight training, cardio, and recipes included, but it wasn’t quite enough. I wasn’t burning enough calories compared to what I was outputting and I wasn’t as active with my steps as I thought. Working a 9-to-5 can already make it difficult to get out and be active, but seeing the numbers really put it into perspective.

The next Workweek Hustle came, and I decided to add an extra 10 to 15 minutes onto my runs. The days I planned to do weigh training, I would get up in the morning and do a quick 1.5 mile run, about 14 minutes of my day, to get an extra 2,000 steps in to my days. I parked further away from the store when running errands and I tried to do a few more activities around the house, lawn mowing is perfect! Guess what, I won that Workweek Hustle! I was so happy, especially since I was going up against friends who are more active runners than I. In fact, I really dislike running, but I’m so proud of myself for being able to now run the length of a 5K that I do it anyway.

I’ve had my Fitbit now for a little over two months, and I’m still loving it! I completely recommend it, or your favorite fitness tracker, to all of the fitness freaks out there! I don’t always track my calories in, just because it can be come repetitive and time consuming, but I have a rough idea of how many calories I eat everyday so I’m not worried. The one downfall for me since I do weigh training almost more than I do cardio is that I didn’t take that into consideration when I was purchasing a FitBit. I kind of jumped the gun before doing all of my research on what options were in the FitBit family. Realizing that, if I have to repurchase a Fitbit in the future I’ll probably get the Fitbit Charge HR so I can track my activity levels when doing squats, dead lifts, and all that fun stuff.

If you’re starting to get into fitness, perhaps to lose weight or get into shape, I feel a Fitbit would really help you to understand how many calories you’re burning versus eating in order to lose weight. It’s also fun to compete with your friends to get your steps in. Leave your experiences with your Fitbit or activity tracker in the comments – I’d love to know how others feel!

Gym Investments – Shoes

When I started going to the gym, I was sill in college and the shoes I purchased to use on the elliptical were some basic tennis shoes.  I had some Saucony tennis shoes that I bought on Amazon just to do some basic cardio and to wear to my retail job for my eight hour shifts.  After really committing myself to the gym I invested in some running shoes and eventually some more athletic shoes that I would use for lifting.

For my New Year’s Resolution of 2013, I decided I wanted to make running my resolution.  I ran once with my Saucony tennis shoes and decided I wasn’t about it.  I invested in $40 ASICS running shoes, which had a lot of gel in the heal, and it changed my life.  I’m terrible at running, still, and I honestly don’t really enjoy the activity.  That being said, now that I have been running for a good amount of time getting back on the elliptical is hard to do; I’d rather just run and get it over with.  A few months ago, my starter shoes ripped and I ran out the same day and picked up another pair of ASICS shoes, partially because I was committed to the brand and because of a good deal at Sports Authority.  I love Sports Authority by the way.  The store has great deals and clearance items for athletes and gym goers.  I like looking halfway cute while I’m at the gym (though that shouldn’t be the priority), but I never spend more than $15 on any single item of athletic clothes.  Even my athletic leggings purchased from Forever 21 were around $11 and they’re great.  Seriously, invest in quality items which enhance your fitness activities, but save on fabric that will just get sweaty.

Last year, while browsing my local DSW I found a pair of ASICS Gel-Craze Cross-training shoes for around $40 that I’ve been rocking the for the past year and half.  They were definitely a step-up from what I had been wearing and I could also wear them to work on my lazy days or running errands on the weekend.  I waterproof all my shoes with a spray you can pick-up at any shoe store, but I still keep from wearing them during inclement weather.

Before Christmas I added some shoes to my Amazon wish list hoping to get them for a gift so that I could wear them to Iceland.  I’m glad I didn’t end up getting them there was a lot more snow in Iceland than I was expecting so I wore my boots the whole time.  The other reason I’m glad I didn’t end up getting them for Christmas was because they went on sale right after our trip!  I was browsing Amazon for some white boards markers and found the shoes I wanted for over $20 off, directly from the ASICS Amazon storefront.  I purchased the ASICS Gel Fit Tempo Cross-Training Shoe for around $40 dollars and I’m glad I went for the deal.  These shoes weigh only a couple of ounces and have far less gel than my previous lifting shoes making squats a hell of a lot easier.  The lighter shoes is also easier to walk in than the others because of the weight and because this style is a little slimmer.

There’s a bit of a trend here, that ASICS athletic shoes are the only tennis shoes I own.  I had heard that ASICS was the preferred brand among runners which is why I started out with them, but it’s been by chance that I have ended up with two cross-trainer shoes from them.  I am in no way affiliated with ASICS or sponsored by them, but I’ve enjoyed my purchases from them and would highly suggest checking them out.  Investing in some goods shoes is worth it.  It made running so much easier, once I put my mind to doing it.  If you’re just starting out with your fitness goals, you can find some good deals on quality shoes that will make reaching your goals that much more attainable.