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.

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.

Summer Plans

Plans for summer are finally starting to come together. Jake and I have been talking about summer plans since March, and for a while we weren’t sure everything we were planning was going to happen, but finally we have made plans and taken time off work for our adventures.

The first part of summer was a move at work. My work’s office made a big move a few weeks ago and I’m loving it. My commute has gone down 50 percent since we moved and I have a ton more time in the mornings and in the evenings to get to the gym, get to the grocery store, and all that jazz. My office is now super close to Jake’s workplace and we can have breakfast dates on the mornings he’s done with work and before I go into work. Love breakfast dates! Not to mention, I don’t have to fill up my car nearly as much as I used to. Perfect timing since the gas prices are rising for summer.

Next month we’re taking a short road trip up to Duluth for Grandma’s Marathon along with our friends. Funny though, we’re not running in the marathon. Only two of five of us going are participating in the marathon. I’m not sure I could ever run a marathon anyway, it’s just not my thing. I definitely run when it’s convenient more me, but I don’t love it. Any who, I haven’t been to Duluth in ten years, or more, so I’m pumped to spend a weekend in the beautiful city with a bunch of people I love. I’d love to spend time around the lake to just enjoy the view and take some awesome pictures. Not to mention, hit up some bars!

So we weren’t sure if this trip was going to happen, but Jake got the time off from work and we are officially planning a trip to San Francisco.  AHHH! I can’t believe it. I’m super excited. My dad and brother just went this past February and my dad can’t stop talking about it. Jake has been planning the majority of this trip and he’s doing pretty good on the events. Alcatraz, salsa dancing, hiking, and the beach! We booked the flights as soon as we could, but we’re still working on lodging and car rental. Traveling to California is very expensive, but we’ll probably get a time share. The car rental is what will be killer on the wallet out of all of this. I’m still on the search for alternatives ways of getting around while we’re visiting.

Then there’s of course, the big move! I’m moving out of my not-so-glamorous-anymore apartment into Jake’s house within the next two months. I’ve lived in my own apartment for almost two years now, and I really enjoy living alone and I think everyone should at some point. My liking for my apartment, however, has just gone down. I don’t love it anymore; nothing wrong with that. So to be clear, whether or not I was moving in with Jake, I would be moving out of my apartment. I’ve started packing up the things I don’t need or use on the daily, like my books, CDs (what are those!), and my winter clothes. I also need to go through most of my belongings and just through crap away. I alone have four sets of dishes, and Jake probably has another two. My old jewelry is just looking tacky and collecting dust on my dresser, and a lot my clothes just do not get the attention they should. Lots of donations will be happening.

Summer is bittersweet for me. I don’t love the heat, I never purposely go out tanning, and I can’t stand humidity. There’s something special about summer though that I love to just think about. Summer love. Summer plans. Summer music. I know everyone has their own summer soundtrack. That album that defines what they’re feeling and what they achieved during their summer. I hope everyone enjoys their unofficial beginning of summer this Memorial Day and is well on their way to make amazing summer plans.

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.