All About Stretching

One part of exercise that is not my expertise is stretching. I do not do it enough. I’m big enough of a woman and personal trainer to admit this. I do urge my clients to do this, especially when they come in talking about lower back pain and other various aches. Stretching is important to keeping the body limber because whether you’re sitting, standing, or a mixture of both all day, odds are, your body is feeling some kind of pain. This appears only to worsen as you age.

When to Stretch?

At the end of your workout! The best way to warm-up the body to prepare for an exercise routine is to start moving. I’ll dive further into this in another post, but take 5-10 minutes at the beginning to jump on the treadmill, a bike, or loosen up with some jumping jacks or squats. Get that body moving through a dynamic- movement- stretching period.

Once you’ve made your way through your cardio and/or your strength training, take another 5-15 minutes and stretch. The body will be nice and warmed up and ready to relax after all it just endured.

Why Stretch?

Stretching helps alleviate all those aches and pains. The body, as does the mind, tackles a multitude of obstacles during the day that leads to soreness and strain, especially if you add a workout on top of it. The muscle is tight and needs to unclench. Another excellent way to do this is by foam rolling, which I can get into further at another time.

Stretching also helps the body get better. The way strength training works is the effort breaks down the muscle and rest helps it repair, allowing the muscles to strengthen. It helps the blood to flow better and prevents injuries.

My Favorite Stretches

As you can see, I was able to complete these stretches in the comfort of my own home, crazy cat and dog included!

Biceps and Triceps

Back and Chest

Shoulders

Quads

Hamstrings

Hips

Week 1 WW

I’m a week back into Weight Watchers and feeling strong! So far, I’m down 6 pounds!

I know that is a big number, but the first week or two will always jumpstart you. There were definitely some changes that needed to be made to my diet.

The biggest change I’ve undergone thus far is cutting back on the carbs. I still eat and enjoy whole wheat pasta, bread, and brown rice, but not as much and not for every meal. I grew accustomed to having two slices of toast at breakfast especially, but now I eat one piece or have a whole wheat pita or tortilla instead. I’m particularly careful to measure how much I’m eating to keep me honest. Carbs are comfort, but they are also necessary for the body to function, so I refuse to abandon them!

A specific carb I’ve cut down on using is butter. I love butter, particularly on top of carbs and inside dishes to make them taste so much better. Not using it as frequently has helped me become more creative with spices in dishes, but also helps me make better choices, for instance, peanut butter is a better alternative to butter on my toast in the morning because it has more nutrients and substance.

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The biggest benefit has been a lack of bloating. I would sometimes go to bed feeling gross or overly stuffed, not thinking that I’ve eaten too much more than I should until that point. I already eat a ton of veggies, but I’ve upped my in take, hello breakfast scrambles, and my tummy has improved overall.

My energy levels have also improved. I don’t feel as tired when the alarm rings at 4:30 in the morning and my workouts feel better fueled. I’m excited to see how much easier my running gets as I continue to shed pounds, including speed and endurance.

It’s also important for me to remember how far I’ve come from 7 years ago now when I was 100 pounds heavier to see how far I’ve come.

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Guest Perspective: Shonna

Every so often, I’m going to incorporate stories of friends and colleagues and whoever wants to be included to share on the blog. While I like to think my own 100-pound weight loss can be inspiring to many, it’s so important to hear from different voices, as everyone faces unique obstacles and challenges throughout their lives.

I met my friend Shonna working at my current gym where I do personal training. She is a group exercise instructor of several different classes- hello Zumba and strength training- a passionate exerciser, and has a great fitness backstory she agreed to share.

Thank you, Shonna, for visiting GMMCA!

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When did you start exercising? Why? What did you do?
I remember doing tapes and television workouts when I was a little kid (Mousercise and Sweating to the Oldies were my favorites). I played sports a little and took dance lessons, but it was all pretty casual. After high school, I would join a gym and maybe walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical and machines, but I didn’t really have a plan or know what I was doing. I got way more into fitness around 2005 when I worked in the corporate world with a team that was really physically fit. We had a gym in our building and after a lot of convincing, I went to my first Spin class with my coworkers. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t scary at all! From there, I started running, worked with a trainer, and went to more classes.  In 2007, I became a Spin instructor and after being laid off from that corporate job, learned to teach more classes.
How has your routine and philosophy changed over the years?
I’ve become more comfortable with taking risks and trying new things! I really feel like you need to step out of your comfort zone because you never know how much you can do. I’ve also learned that while I love teaching, I need to set aside time for my own personal workouts and goals.
What does healthy living mean to you?
It’s an investment in my future. I have been through some health scares that were out of my control.  I want to be in control of everything I can to keep myself mobile and healthy and living a full life for as long as possible!
Are their any words of advice you’d offer to your younger self starting out on your journey?
Don’t be afraid! The gym, classes, trainers, running groups… they are not as scary as you think. You just need to find what works for you. I feel like some classes or organizations really have a bad reputation, but we are honestly here to help you. I know I try to make my classes as welcoming as possible for all levels and most instructors I know do the same. We all started somewhere!
What inspired you to become a fitness instructor? What do you love/hate most about it?
I was taking Spin twice a week in the gym at my office. They were looking for another instructor and I figured I was going anyhow, might be some good extra money.
I love seeing people achieve things they didn’t think they could. That could be anything from getting in the door in the first place to lifting a heavier weight than they thought possible.
I don’t really hate anything about it in general- but I don’t love when people come in with a closed mind or a negative attitude. It doesn’t happen that often, though!
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out?
Find something you love to do and it won’t be a chore! If you are a social person, go to a class or join a group. If you like to keep to yourself, find a trainer to design a program just for you.
What’s your favorite exercise?
Right now, I love my CrossFit class because it’s different every day. I’m really lucky to have excellent coaches and a dedicated class full of really supportive people at many levels.
You only have half an hour to exercise, what do you do?
Ah! Some HIIT training! A good mix of cardio and strength.
What are you most proud of in regards to your health journey?
I’ve been up and down in weight over the years. Right now, I’m up more than I would like, but I still get out there and work hard. Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit for that.
What are some challenges you’ve faced over the years?
It’s always the “diet” for me. I got to my goal weight in 2012 and was a vegan. It worked so well for me until I suddenly started experiencing  some frustrating things like gaining back weight and feeling exhausted all of the time. The next year, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and later with thyroid cancer. After a complete thryoidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment (and a full recovery!!!) the vegan diet didn’t work for me anymore. I’m still struggling to figure out what works for me after all of this.
Any healthy eating tips you want to share?
It’s not a one size fits all situation! I feel like the one thing we can all agree on is eat whole foods as much as possible, but after that, it’s so individual!

rebranding

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Almost two years ago, I moved to LA to pursue a career in writing. I had a foot in the door, flirted with the prospect of maybe, kinda, sort of having a measure of success in getting into the industry at the lowest level.

I came home.

For the past few months, it’s been challenging. I’m happy to be closer to family and friends, thrilled to be a new aunt, and proud to be working as a personal trainer and helping people on their health journeys. I’m also happy to have tried LA, lived it, experienced and explored because I do miss it, more than I anticipated.

More than anything, I’m a little lost. As I edge nearer to 30, I feel like I should have my life figured out more than I do. I get so caught up in thinking how my life should be going rather than focusing on where I am right now. I’ve been a little ball of anxious, negative energy and I’m ready to come out of it.

This is evidenced more in what I claim to be most passionate about: writing. In all the articles and books, random words of advice I’ve poured over to make me a better writer, the message is clear, in order to make it as a writer, you need to write. I haven’t.

So here we are again. When I first created Give Me My Crown Already, I was on the brink of graduating college, I had just lost 100 pounds, and I felt as confident and prepared as I ever had in my life.

Since, I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t want to do professionally and more about sacrifices and failures that were unexpected. I’ve gained a few pounds and sometimes hate myself for it because I think I should have this down by now. It makes me skeptical and negative and exhausted.

When I first was losing weight, I knew nothing. I just tried. Exercise was my best friend. Going from nothing to something had fantastic results and working out helped me better to manage my anxiety. I enjoyed food more than I ever did when I was heavily overweight and was making better choices and having fun concocting fun, healthy, and delicious dishes. Over the course of these past six years, I have maintained most of the weight loss, but I long to get back to my lowest. I slipped into some old, bad habits, not necessarily with eating, which I’m okay with, or exercising, which I do six days a week, but with my negativity.

No more.

As I rebrand this blog, here’s what I promise. I’m writing, in many different fashions because I miss it and agonizing over stringing the perfect words together is far more satisfying in the long run than researching what I should be doing with nothing to show for it. I am going to be honest about my progress and how I feel. I am going to try to not let negativity devour me, which means forgiving myself my humanity.

With my two passions, writing and healthy living so intersected, I have the opportunity to share my story and learn a lot more about myself and life. Thanks for your patience.

Join me?

weekend things

Happy Monday, everyone! This weekend was another mix of busy and relaxing, sunny and rainy, and I was all for it.

My Friday started once I finished work and hopped in the pool for a swim. I got through 1.1 in about 45 minutes and was more than ready for lunch, which was a big salad. I had 8pm dinner plans that evening and had to take a nap to 1. Be able to make it ’til then and 2. Not snack on everything in the kitchen. Dinner was fun and we had ice cream for dessert, which always makes life worth living.

My Saturday started with this glorious breakfast. Poached eggs on toast with bacon.

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Once I was digested and hydrated, I headed out for a run. It was a perfect day! I do try to make the 3.1, but I ran out of flat real estate and would’ve had to go uphill to finish out, so I stuck to 3 miles. My legs were already feeling shot and it was a struggle to make it through.

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That afternoon, my sister and I went for lunch and a movie. First, we hit up a Greek restaurant for gyros.

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Then we headed to the theater to take in Lady Bird, which was excellent. Female writer and director Greta Gerwig FTW!

My evening pretty much consisted of this:

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I slept in way later than anticipated on Sunday, but I think my body was resting to avoid a cold. Plus, it was rainy, my favorite sleeping condition! I have a slight sniffle and tickle in the throat, but I’m persevering with mind over matter!

Breakfast was a stack of my favorite peanut butter pancakes. Still working on the art of the stack.

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My workout was still a solid one. I started with strength training, upper, lower, than a mix of both and ended with 20 minutes of cycling. I love my workouts for my mind and body, but I’m also excited today is my rest day. I was definitely tired by the end.

Post-workout snuggles are always worth it.

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I got some household stuff done, including laundry and meal prep for today, went grocery shopping, and then relaxed. Sunday’s always call for an early night when I have to work at 5am on Mondays!

Crush your week!

Arm Day

I kicked off a new workout routine and it’s been killer. While I love a good total body workout, there’s something to be said about the effectiveness of the split routine.

For this training schedule, I opted to break things up as follows:

Day One: Biceps, Triceps, Shoulders

Day Two: Quads and Glutes

Day Three: Chest and Back

Day Four: Hamstrings and Ab/Adductors

Day Five: Total Body

For each day, I always include core and some form of cardio. The breakdown is roughly 30x10x20—30 minutes strength training, 10 minutes core, 20 minutes cardio.

On arm day, I break each segment up by muscle group and perform three exercises each. One at the most heaviest with 4 sets of 8 reps, the second with medium weight at 4 sets of 10 reps, and the third at the lightest weight at 4 sets of 12 reps.

Take a look:

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After three core exercises- incline oblique lean downs, plank walkouts, bicycle crunches- I hope on the bike to spin it out for around 20+ minutes.

Give it a try! Check back next week for the next portion.

daily living

My typical Monday post is a recap of the weekend, but I don’t often post anything regarding the rest of the week except for food and exercise. Now that I’m back to personal training, my day is more chaotic, in a good way.

On Monday, I had one client, so I had a leisurely breakfast in the morning of my favorite pancakes before heading to the gym to train. After, I fit in my own workout. By the time I got back home, it was time for a lunch of leftovers. I’m still getting used to my sporadic routine and I have a hard time enjoying leisure time for myself when it’s in the middle of the day, but I did watch an episode of The West Wing and do some reading, while also spending ample time with Simba, who wanted my full attention.

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Then it was back to the gym to work a shift at the front desk. By the time I got home, I was ready for dinner and bed.

Tuesday was a different day than normal as I had to drive into the city for a training opportunity. We finished after lunch time, so I fit in a quick workout of all the exercises that required equipment before driving home to check in on the kitten, finish up some body weight training, then head out on a run. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and writing then had a client after dinner. Pretty much by the time I got home, I was ready for bed because Wednesdays are one of my 5am call times!

The hardest part of waking up early for me are the few moments after the alarm went off and now not wanting to leave a cuddly kitten behind, particularly when he’s meowing at me because he wants to be patted.

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Duty calls though, so I grabbed all my stuff I had organized the night before and got to work. After finishing up with my clients, I fit in my own workout of strength training and a session on the elliptical before heading home for lunch! Leftovers are my favorite lunch because it requires minimal preparation, especially when you’re already hungry! I typed up this post, among other little chores around the house, then headed back to work to train.

It can feel hectic sometimes, but I’m happy to be back and doing what I think I was meant to do! Am I sorry most of my pictures lately are of my kitten? No, I am not.

We’re more than halfway through the week!