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.

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.

January Fitness Update

January is a popular time of year for people to get back into their fitness goals as well as for people to make New Year’s Resolutions to get involved with fitness or lose weight.  January is also the time when I re-evaluate my fitness goals and start preparing for the spring cutting season.  I know spring seams far away, but by the time it arrives the hope is that I have built up enough muscle to be able to cut and still maintain my strength levels.

A few weeks before Christmas, Jake and I started a new lifting routine which includes a basic three-day split.  I decided to invest in a pair of lifting straps at the advice of a coworker to improve my grip strength and overall improve my dead lifts.  For the past two years, I’ve used gloves for lifting but it’s not my hands that need the help anymore as I’ve built up some pretty good calluses.  Ladies, do not be afraid of getting calluses from weight lifting.  Mine aren’t even noticeable to the eye and most days no one is holding my hands to feel them.  In addition to our three-day split, my goal is run or do some form of cardio twice a week.  I don’t put a lot of emphasis on cardio during fall or winter, but moving into spring I like to keep it consistent.  I’ve never been one for doing ab exercises (I hate them), but this year I’d like to make it one of my goals.  Jake and I will probably add ab exercises onto leg day because generally that is our fastest moving day.  This weekend I’d like to find a basic everyday ab exercise that I can do in the mornings or evenings on a yoga mat, nothing intense likes those ad challenges I see rolling around on Pinterest.  Remember abs are made in the kitchen, not at the gym.

During the fall and winter months, I spoil myself with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, pumpkin cookies, holiday parties, and all weight lifting at the gym.  Right now at the turn of the year, I have decided to start tracking what I eat and count my calorie intake.  I have used the app My Fitness Pal in the past and I really enjoy it.  Not only does it allow my to track my calories, but I can also see the breakdown of the nutrition in the food.  The app can keep track of your exercises and how many calories you burn which are then negated from your daily caloric intake.  The one downside to the app is that it doesn’t know how many calories are burned during strength exercises.  One of my best tips to eating healthy is to meal plan.  I like to prepare my lunch and dinners every week, cooking on Sunday’s and packing everything in containers for busy weekdays.  I just ordered a weekly whiteboard so that I can better organize meals for myself and for when Jake comes over.  I love lists and organizing my thoughts and I have been wanting a whiteboard for over a year now.

I’d like to do these fitness updates every three to four months, during the change of the seasons and fitness routines.  Moving into spring, my diet will become more strict with less carbs and high amounts of vegetables and protein.  The most important part of my fitness routine is making sure I’m keeping hydrated: drink all the water.  Start with a glass right after to step out of bed and add an additional glass or two if you exercise that day.