We’ve all been there: doing super well with our workout routine, eating super clean and healthy, and then the holidays roll around, and you feel like you ate so much mac n cheese, you could literally die. You had the best of intentions. You told yourself you were going to fill up on salad and green beans and turkey. (Okay, so maybe you were a bit unrealistic). That didn’t happen, because food is delicious. If you’re like a lot of people, you might be feeling a whole lot of emotions, and probably not a lot of them are positive. I don’t need to tell you that beating yourself up over not being perfect is counterproductive… but I’ll tell you anyway. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
When all is said and done (and eaten), you probably came to one of two different conclusions, right? One, you say f*ck it, you already messed up, might as well give up. Two, you own up to your sh*t, recover, and get back on track. If you picked one, then we need to switch your whole mindset. How are you ever going to reach your goals (in fitness and life in general) if, for every one mistake you make, you give up and make another four or five? One bad meal or one bad day doesn’t have to set you back for a week or more. So take a deep breath, stop beating yourself up, and take a look at my best tips to helping you get back on track.
Instead Of Beating Yourself Up… Forgive Yourself
I already touched on this a little, but first and foremost, realize that you’re human and no one on Earth has ever stuck to a diet or lifestyle change perfectly. Diets are not designed for perfect execution, but that’s a whole different topic of discussion that I could talk about forever. Bottom line, if you went harder at Thanksgiving than you had initially intended, forgive your mistake and dust yourself off. It’s just a speed bump, you didn’t crash and burn. You’ll be okay.
Instead Of Feeling Regret… Find Appreciation
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Instead of focusing on all the negative feelings, focus on the upside. Did you have a great time with your friends and family? Did you enjoy the food? Did you avoid getting into an argument with Uncle Paul by making sure your mouth was full with mashed potatoes at all times? Regret nothing. The more you focus on the negative, the more you’ll stress yourself out, which will raise your cortisol levels and cause you to further demonize food. If you follow my school of thought, then you know we don’t demonize food—doing so will just make you want more of the “bad” foods you have deemed off-limits, and in the long run, sabotage your own goals and happiness.
Instead Of Doing A Cleanse… Hydrate And Eat Fiber
Okay, so instead of just not eating the next day to counteract the damage, drink a lot of water and make it a point to eat something green and crunchy like a salad (crunchy because of the lettuce, not croutons, sorry) for either lunch or dinner. The water and fiber will help move things along, literally and figuratively. Salad, soups, feel free to add whatever lean protein you want. Avoid processed foods and try to limit your sodium intake, because it will just make you more bloated. But, for the love of God, eat! Don’t try to crash diet or deprive yourself of food or go on a juice cleanse—that’s setting yourself up for more struggle, disappointment, and bad feelings in the long run.
Instead Of Working Out As Punishment… Do It As Motivation
If you feel so motivated, try to get a workout in. To be clear, this is not a punishment for your mistakes. Don’t approach it like that, but approach it like, now that your gas tank is full, you have the resource to go the extra mile. You may find that you are able to lift heavier, run faster and go for more reps and sets. Use the extra fuel as a resource for achieving new fitness goals, but make sure not to over-exercise to the point of injury.
Remember: As long as you don’t give up, you’ll be okay. Keep the vibe and self-talk positive, because literally, EVERYONE on Earth goes through this. What matters is if you choose to bounce back from these setbacks. The difference between progression and regression not just in fitness, but in life, is realizing you’re bigger than your mistakes.
Not to sound like a Baby Boomer or anything, but we totally live in a time of instant gratification. Whether it’s a shirt you bought off Amazon, finding the love of your life, or seeing the results from a new diet and exercise routine, we all feel like we have to get the things we want immediately. But, just like you can’t rush USPS (no matter how many angry phone calls you make), you can’t rush your body. No matter what your fitness goals are, you’re probably not going to see changes immediately. I know how frustrating it can be to not see changes right away when you’ve been putting in the work, hitting the gym, and eating right. But don’t give up! Before you throw in the towel, let’s investigate what could be hindering your progress.
1. You’ve Only Been Consistent For 2 Weeks
Changes don’t happen overnight or even in two weeks, unfortunately. Give yourself a six to eight week timeline to realistically start seeing or feeling results. Like anything else in life, it takes time, and you need to work at it first to see change. Two weeks of consistency is still a milestone, though, and you should for sure reward yourself for that, but continue to stick to your routine. Give your body some time to adjust.
2. You’re Not Sore Anymore
Really ask yourself if you’re still going as hard in the gym as you did on day one, or if you’re kind of just going through the motions now. To see results, and keep them coming, you have to constantly challenge your body. To change and progress your workouts, the key is to keep your body working as hard as it did when you were starting out. Progressions can include adding more weight, more reps, or more sets. They can also include advancing the movements, such as doing a full push-up instead of doing modified ones on your knees. This is where you’re going to have to dig deep and find that motivation or try out a few sessions with a trainer.
3. Your Diet Isn’t As Clean As You Think It Is
Okay, let’s think about it. Let’s say it’s oatmeal for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and grilled chicken and veggies for dinner. Sounds great, but you might be overlooking a few things. Is there a ton of sugar on your oatmeal? Did the salad have croutons, cheese, and ranch dressing on it? Were there free mini muffins in the office, so you grabbed a few, or snacked on a few handfuls of chips throughout the day? It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something to be mindful of. Little things really do count, and most times we forget about small stuff like condiments, drinks, and bites we have throughout the day. If you’re not seeing the results you want to see, look at things most of us consider negligible.
Most times people will stick to their diet and workouts for not even two weeks before they give up due to lack of results. Stick with it for a little longer! You don’t quit your job two weeks in because you’re not making six figures, right? I hope not. Keep pushing yourself in the gym and keep being mindful of what you’re eating. You got this.
Images: @dietstartstomorrow/Instagram; Luis Quintero / Unsplash
When you’re already going to the trouble of working out, it can feel like unfathomable betrayal to hear that you should, in fact, be doing a completely different workout. Or at least, that’s the logic I once used to justify doing nothing but yoga for six months, while slowly ceasing to fit into my pants. As someone who really wants to be fit but is decidedly not an athlete, I’ve spent a of time and energy on different gyms, classes, and even trainers and physical therapists over the years, trying to find the perfect workout that would turn me into a *fit person* once and for all. As all those professionals have explained to me repeatedly, not all workouts are created equal. What’s more, switching up your workout routine has consistently proven to show better results. So, while I reluctantly follow this advice myself, here are my past trainers’, physical therapists, and preferred internet authority’s tips for knowing when it’s time for a new workout routine.
1. You’re Not Getting Sore Anymore
Sorry! But also, not really because you should know this. If a workout stops making you sore, it’s not a sign that you have ascended to a new level of athleticism in which your muscles are no longer capable of strain. It does probably mean that you have strengthened the specific muscles involved in this particular workout (congrats!). But if you don’t up the difficulty of the workout, or switch out the muscles you’re working on, you won’t keep seeing results. At best, you’ll maintain the very specific strength you’ve gained. But even that isn’t a guarantee, since you’re continuing to do a workout that was appropriate (and difficult!) for you in a less fit state. Trainer Faheem Mujahid explains it as your body realizing “it doesn’t need to expend as much energy anymore:” meaning you burn fewer calories, get less tired, and are less likely to feel sore. Time to level up, b*tch!
2. You’re Getting *Too* Sore
The flip side of the whole soreness thing is that you have to be careful not to overdo it. There’s a difference between it hurting when you laugh the day after an ab routine and needing to strap on a knee brace every time you leave the gym. Fitness instructor Trish DaCosta puts it plainly: “A reoccurring injury or too many injuries is often a sign we’re doing too much of an exercise program.” Pulled muscles, joint pain, or persistent aches are clear signs that your body needs a break. Injuries aside, extreme soreness—or persistent soreness in only a few, select places—also mean you should switch out your routine, or at least add some variety. Trainer Jessica Thiefels stresses the importance of making sure your body feels “balanced in strength,” and adds that “working the same muscles, time and time again” is a bad idea. Muscles need rest periods in order to get stronger; so you’re really just robbing yourself of #gainz if every day is focused on the same body part.
Obvs, if you’re repeating the same workout over and over it’s because you like it, and I get that it’s tough to motivate yourself to make the switch. I once spent two weeks obsessed with barre and loving my life. Then I promptly re-pulled an old thigh injury, and my physical therapist at the time told me that barre was “the worst thing” I could do for my body. The fact that I had just purchased both a “barre so hard” tank and a month-long barre studio membership apparently meant nothing to her. As much as I was dying to be a fancy barre girl, I had to accept that my body just wasn’t built to benefit most from that particular workout.
Me to my useless barre studio membership:
3. You’re Not Getting The Results You Want
So, this goes back to my whole “only doing yoga” period in time—despite feeling like I was gaining weight, or at least sort of…spreading out. Before my yoga phase, I’d been getting most of my workouts in at the gym, where I lifted weights and ran intervals on the treadmill. Then, I moved to NYC and decided a gym was a luxury I could no longer afford. Even though I’d read countless times that yoga is not the most effective calorie-torching workout out there (particularly not when done for 15 minutes at a time in one’s living room), I hated the idea that completing any workout wasn’t enough for my stupid body. I felt more flexible and balanced for sure—but I felt like I was losing muscle, and my clothes weren’t fitting as well.
The point here? Don’t be like me! Yes, some exercise is better than no exercise at all. But that doesn’t mean you can go on a jog and expect your triceps to be more defined after. DaCosta notes the importance of seeing “continued progress” from your workouts, which could come in any of the following forms: “more muscle definition, decreased body fat, more energy, stronger lifts, faster recovery times, weight loss, faster pace, etc.” While yoga was pushing me on some of those fronts, it wasn’t satisfying others. For a fully varied workout routine that pushes you on all these fronts, Mujahid recommends trying for a mix of “cardiovascular, strength, agility and flexibility sessions,” making sure you’re “hitting every muscle group” in a week’s worth of workouts.
If that sounds totally unattainable to you (same girl), take some comfort in knowing a lot of these categories overlap. For example, a HIIT workout could be your lower body workout, and combines a cardiovascular and strength workout. Then you could work your upper body with yoga on alternate days, which would count as your agility and flexibility sessions. Throw in an ab day and you’re done for the week. (And if that sounds like a month’s worth of workouts to you, once again I say SAME GIRL. I’m just the messenger for what the pros are recommending.)
Me during my yoga phase:*
*To be clear, yoga absolutely can and does help people with all kinds of body goals. But my refusal to do any other workout meant I really hit a wall.
This article is not meant to shame anyone out of the workout routine that they’re doing. Everyone who has broken a sweat (on purpose) in the past week: I am proud of you. But I also know firsthand how frustrating it can be to feel like you’re making a huge effort and not getting anything for it. If anything, this article will hopefully inspire you to make a change and find the workout that leaves you sore, satisfied, and not feeling like you need a wheelchair. Everyone’s body is different, and once you find the (healthily varied & not at all overwhelming) routine that works for you, working out will feel 1000% more worth it. I promise.
Images: Giphy (3); Pexels / bruce mars
In the midst of a long-ass winter, a terrible Bachelor season, and basically the demise of the American political system, spring break is the light at the end of the tunnel. Whether you’ve been bikini shopping since November or you literally booked your Daytona beach flights yesterday, it’s safe to say we’re all stoked. If you’re panicking that your spring break body is gonna look like shit in your swimsuit after a winter of nachos and red wine, don’t overnight ship some sketchy tea cleanse just yet. It’s not too late to make sure you look your best when you’re getting trashed in some Airbnb in Punta Cana. Here are six legit last-minute things you can do to get your spring break body ready for break.
1. Put A Hold On Drinking
If you’re looking to cut some easy calories and reduce bloating in your body, you should prob cancel your pregame this weekend. Aside from the fact that drinking and drunk-eating can easily add, like, thousands of calories to your diet, alcohol itself is an inflammatory substance, which it means it can cause swelling in your body and make you bloated. Alcohol irritates your gastrointestinal system and can make you look puffier than you are. You’re gonna be drinking your weight in tequila at Señor Frog’s anyway, so give your body a break right now and let your tolerance lower a bit before you go away.
2. Stop Buying Diet Foods
When trying to diet, a lot of people gravitate towards labels that say shit like “diet,” “low-fat,” “gluten-free,” or “whole grains.” Here’s the thing about those labels, though. They’re ALL just marketing tactics. Foods that brand themselves as “healthy” or “diet” are usually not. Instead of grabbing the whole grain pita chips or the low-cal ice cream that’s filled with fake sugars and chemicals, stick with simple foods that don’t need labels to convince you they’re healthy. Think fruits, nuts, vegetables, quinoa, chicken, and fish. The less ingredients, the better.
3. Get Your Friends To Work Out With You
The only thing worse than making time to work out is knowing that you’re the only one doing it. Instead of going to the gym alone while your friends at happy hour,
bribe convince them to go with you. Like, there’s nothing worse than holding a one-minute wall sit with no one there to be dying with you while simultaneously convincing you to keep going. You guys can actually hold each other accountable for showing up, and then have a buddy to suffer with. It’s a win-win. The rest of your friend group might hate you for bailing on plans, but you’ll both look so much better than everyone else in Miami. Worth it.
4. Look Tan Already
There’s a reason the Kardashians get spray tans the night before every photoshoot. Having a tan just makes you look better. It’s a fact. I know one of the perks of spring break is going somewhere warm and getting that bronze color to show off when you’re back at school, but if you can make yourself look somewhat tan beforehand, your body will naturally look so much better *and* you won’t have to risk getting melanoma. Whether it’s getting a spray tan or just ordering all white and neon-colored bikinis, try to look as tan as you can before you leave. It’s a game-changer.
5. Eat All Three Macronutrients
If you’ve been eating kale salads and carrot sticks all month and you still haven’t seen any results, it could be because you’re not eating all three vital macronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients that provide energy and help your body function at its best, and they include carbs, fats, and protein. Think like, brown rice, salmon, and avocado. Carbs give you energy, fats keep you full, and protein helps your muscles and bones. When all three work together, you’re giving your body everything it needs to feel and look its best. It’s basically magic. Thanks, science.
6. Eat Gut-Friendly Foods
Everyone seems to be obsessed with gut health right now, and it’s not only because Kourtney Kardashian takes probiotics and apple cider vinegar everyday. The bacteria in your gut basically dictates how your body processes food, allowing you to gain or lose weight. If you feed your gut sources of good bacteria, found fermented foods, yogurt, kombucha, bone broth, or even probiotic capsules, you can help balance out your gut bacteria ratio, which will make your spring break body feel and look amazing.
Images: Bruce Christianson / Unsplash; Giphy (6)
Happy Bachelor Monday, fam. We’re back to talking about the one TV franchise that literally takes up more time than football season and March Madness combined. (Don’t fight me on that. You don’t stalk the players’ Instagrams in between games.) If you follow Krystal on social media, you’ve probably noticed she’s even more *Krystal* online than she was on the show. Like, IDK what bothers me more—the fact that she straight-up said the phrase “needle dick” or that she goes by @coachkrystal_ on social media. I’m so concerned. Anyway, whether you refer to Krystal as the most annoying voice in Bachelor history or the girl on a mission to find
brand endorsements true love, you can’t deny her body looks amazing. So, I decided to try her “beach workout” myself. I found it on her Instagram, obviously.
Unfortunately, my “beach workout” was done in the gym because I live in New York, but I feel like I still got the gist of it. Here’s how it went:
¼ Mile Run
Coach Krystal (cringing as I type that) claims this workout is her “FAVORITE way” to beat stress, but honestly running sucks, and in my opinion it’s pretty stressful. Like, I feel personally victimized by the incline setting on the treadmill. Plus, I could think of a couple other ways to chill out
like smoke weed, but running works I guess. I was totally dreading the run portion of the workout, but then I got on the treadmill and like, reached ¼ mile before I even made it through one song. I was confused. Is this a typo? Why would anyone only run ¼ mile? Could I actually get fit running for less time than it takes me to brush my teeth? Okay, moving on.
10 Step Ups (Each Leg)
I used a bench at the gym for this one, and I even held dumbbells in my hands to make it a bit harder. Like, stepping up on a bench 10 times is pretty basic, so I figured the added weight could make it more interesting. Am I already more qualified to be a “coach” than Krystal? Honestly, these aren’t terrible, so I’m going to tentatively say yes. I definitely felt the burn in my glutes and quads, and I’d definitely recommend adding the weights. But obviously no shade to Krystal’s version…
10 Tricep Dips
These ones are tough. Tricep dips are extra tricky because you’re not actually using any added weight, but you’re also low-key using your entire body weight at the same time. You’re basically holding onto a bench behind you while facing the other direction, and then straightening and bending your arms to bring your body up and down with your triceps. Krystal does these with her legs straight, but you can also keep them bent to make it a bit easier. It’s more important that you’re getting full range of motion with the dipping part of the movement.
10 Leg Raises
Leg raises are always a good lower ab exercise. I’m a fan. Doing only 10 sounds easy, but it’s important to do these slowly to really engage your core and feel the burn in the lower part of your abs. The idea is to lie flat with your legs out in front of you, and then raise them up and down while keeping your back flat and your core tight. Krystal does these with her hands behind her head, but if you feel any lower back pain, I suggest keeping your hands under your lower back area.
10 Toe Touches
Another good one—more focused on the upper abs. Staying in the same position as your leg raises, keep your legs in the air, as straight as possible, and then try to touch your feet or toes, bringing your shoulders off the ground with your core. Also, a lot of people do weird shit with their neck here, but try to keep it as neutral as possible and really just use your abs to lift. These should be done faster than the leg raises, so 10 of them should go by pretty fast. Thanks, Krystal.
20 Bicycle Crunches
This is a good burnout move, and it’s also for your abs. No wonder this girl has a six-pack. Put your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground, touching your elbow to the opposite knee in every rep. Bicycle crunches are usually done too fast, but it’s really not a race. It’s more important that you’re crunching with your abs instead of just hitting your elbow to your knee without using your core. Don’t cheat yourself. Think about the “shoulder to knee” cue instead of elbow. You should feel this in your obliques and your upper abs, and honestly it should be hard.
I didn’t mind this workout, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. Krystal suggests doing 3-5 rounds, and, honestly, I only did two rounds before I got bored. Plus, people were starting to think I didn’t know how to work a treadmill because I was only on it for, like, a minute at a time. On the plus side, I definitely broke a sweat, and felt like it was a pretty sufficient full body routine. I wasn’t sore the next day, but it was a solid workout and I’d recommend you trying it out for yourself. And if you actually do five rounds, you deserve a glass of wine.
Images: Krystal Nielson, Instagram; Giphy (4).