Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

I used to hate working out. Eating healthy was enough for me, and I didn’t realize the benefits of exercise until I actually tried it out. I loved gym class at school because of the team sports and the camaraderie, however, when it came the summer, I wouldn’t actually do much to maintain my fitness.

Every summer, I competed in golf tournaments about once a week and I practiced most days for about 2-6 hour. Really the only physical benefit of golf was that it strengthened my legs and kept my heart rate up because of the amount of walking (typically 5 miles) and swinging involved. However, I wasn’t doing much else to strengthen my body. So when my mom joined a gym membership, I decided to come with her to a yoga class. I instantly fell in love with yoga because it was so peaceful yet physically demanding, and the shavasana (lying down) at the end felt amazing. So I continued to attend the yoga classes once a week and carried this out during my school year. But obviously, one hour of yoga a week was not enough.

I started doing Blogilates (pilates) about once a week and doing push ups before going to bed. The next summer, I joined a field hockey camp that met twice a week, and I sprinted my way across the field. When high school started, I involved myself with field hockey. The team met every week day for two hours each. The amount of cardio we had to do was challenging for me. I remember thinking that the  3 mile run around school was a very big deal.

In the winter, I tried out dance, which met three times a week for one and a half hours each. Dance was completely different from field hockey; there wasn’t much cardio involved, but it was more like yoga because of the flexibility involved. During the season, I realized that I it really was not the sport for me. I wasn’t the most graceful or coordinated, so I told myself I would try a different sport the next winter season.

Spring was golf season for me, which was very exciting. I didn’t do much to supplement my exercise other than the mandatory half-hour weight-lifting once a week.

When summer rolled around, I started thinking back to the winter season and decided that I would either joint the swim team or run distance. Ultimately, I decided to run, mainly because of the support that Stephanie (yes, the other half of this blog), who ran cross country, gave me. I started running for 40 minutes, 5 days a week , and I got used to it. Although I dreaded the early morning wake-ups, I felt so accomplished after each run. I knew that I wasn’t the fastest, or even close to fast, but it gave me pride to be pushing myself into a sport that I was hesitant about because of the immense challenge that it presented for me.

So over the course of my journey so far, I’ve learned a couple things:

1.) Try it even if you think you’ll suck at it! Field hockey and running were two sports that I was completely intimidated by because I hated cardio. But when I gave it a try and gave it some time, I ended up enjoying it.

2.) Constantly push yourself. Fear of the greatness of your potential is probably what’s holding you back.

3.) You need a buddy/buddies. If exercise is hard for you, use other people to motivate you, whether that be teammates, friends, or opponents.

What are your experiences with exercise/athletics?

Love,

Serena

My “Athletic” Experience

My “Athletic” Experience

I am athletic … not.

After moving to a new high school I had the blessing and the curse to “remake” myself. The idea that no one knew who I was in the past was exciting yet daunting. The bad side of this “remaking” process is that my new friends think that I’m athletic because I love fitness and working out. However, this is far from the truth. I. AM. NOT. ATHLETIC. AT. ALL. PERIOD.  During elementary school, many us will remember the horrors of P.E. I still remember that every year, when I brought home my report card, for my P.E. class, I would only get “Outstanding” (the highest grade) for the category:  listening to directions. #embarrassingchildhoodmemories
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Out of many trials and errors (and multiple breakdowns after games lost), I discovered I am not a team sports kind of gal. Team sports meaning soccer, basketball, lacrosse, or any of those sort. I also don’t do well with aggressive sports either. And it happens to be that all team sports are aggressive, so I decided that team sports and I will never be a good mix. I remember being the tallest girl on my club basketball team and getting reprimanded by my coach before and after every game to be aggressive and get those rebounds. Yeah, that never happened. #sorrynotsorry

 

However, with all that being said, my mom encouraged me to be active and signed me up for an after-school running program called Girls on the Run, hoping I would enjoy running at the very least. Looking back now, I think I hated all 5 of the seasons. Nevertheless, Girls on the Run helped cultivate my love now for running (this is message to everyone including me: listen to your parents). Soon after, I joined the track team for both seventh and eighth grade and tried out and got in the indoor track team as a freshman. Serena knows this better than anyone, but I suffer from huge anxiety about track. It’s always been haunting me since seventh grade and it’s my lifelong goal to stop worrying so much about it (actually, this indoor track season I’ve gotten so much better at handling pre-race anxiety, if any of you are interested, comment down below so I can blog about it in the future!).

 

Anyways, the point of today’s blog post was to show that being athletic and healthy have nothing to do with each other. I was, am and never will be an athletic person. However, this should never stop someone from being active and pursuing a healthy lifestyle. With my past experience in struggling to find an activity I loved, I really urge everyone to find something that they love. I wasn’t initially fond of yoga because I knew that it was low calorie burner, I only wanted to participate in a sport that burned a lot calories. Nevertheless, I found myself loving and craving yoga –  I practiced yoga everyday because doing it wasn’t much of a chore but a hobby. If you really want to be technical, practicing yoga five times a week is going to burn a lot more calories than going on an intense and miserable run once a month.

 

So if you find yourself getting off track on your New Year’s Resolutions in terms of fitness, I seriously recommend reevaluating whether or not what you’re doing for fitness is enjoyable to you. If not, change it to something enjoyable, as simple as 30 minute walk outside. It’s that simple.

 

What’s your experience with sports?

xoxo, Stephanie

 

P.S. : Being that this is the start of February, I wanted to update everyone on how well I did on my January “balance” goal. I stated underneath January that my goals were to: Create balance in school. Create balance with food. Create balance with play and work. Create balance with your stress levels. Create balance with extracurriculars. I feel somewhat selfish saying this, but I achieved this goal. It’s weird, I feel strange that I accomplished my one of my 2016 resolutions. I mean the intention of New Year’s Resolutions are to get them accomplished, but we associate these resolutions as short-living that it’s rare to see one accomplish their resolutions.

 

After going back to school after winter break, I definitely gave myself more time to relax. It’s easy for me to get caught up in a whirlwind of work, however, this month I was strict on myself and tried to relax all these “rules” and “guidelines” I set for myself. For the first time since fourth grade, I let myself watch a TV show during the school year (I only allowed myself to watch TV shows during the summer or school breaks). For the first time since my weight loss and health journey, which started early 2015, I let myself eat whatever my body craved – no matter how “bad” that food was. I forgave myself when I ate too much on a certain day because I knew that I could better the next day.

 

However, the biggest achievement was when I created balance with my extracurriculars. Serena and I were and are struggling to find balance with our extracurriculars – how to be involved yet maintain sanity. This month, I let go of some of the school clubs I was in and found myself with at least one night a week free. While this free night was used to catch up on my homework, mentally, having no definite obligation every.single.night. was reassuring.

 

I can’t wait to maintain this “balance” mindset while starting my new goal for February which is centered around love (obviously). The mantra for February is: Love yourself. Love others by showing patience, understanding. Reach out to old childhood friends. Pray for friends. Obey your parents. Wish me luck!

Five Non-Food Related Things to Lift Your Mood

Five Non-Food Related Things to Lift Your Mood

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Let’s admit it. We all used food at least once in our lifetime to cope with negative things – our emotions, stress, or even with positive things – rewards and celebrations. In our society, the most common way to celebrate a birthday is to go out for dinner. The most common way to deal with a bad day is to eat a whole-tub of Ben and Jerry’s or eat all the chips in the Family Size chips bag.

 

But this also happens to healthy food too. I remember once, I ate so many nuts that the next day, my mom had to hide all the nuts in our house because seeing them made me feel like I would barf.

 

With that being said, it’s no surprise that even though we have our eating habits and exercise habits in check, if we don’t take care of our mental health, whatever health goal you have in mind for 2016 or your whole life isn’t going to come true.

 

Today, I’ve come up with five activities you can do that DO NOT involve food. Whether it’s to cope with stress or to celebrate.

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1.Get a manicure and/or pedicure | This is such a simple thing, yet this is my go-to stress reliever. It’s a great breather – not too short but not too long. It’s long enough that you have to hit the pause button while patiently waiting for your nails to dry, but not too long that it takes up a good chunk of your day.

 

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2. Buy a new workout gear | This is one of my favorites as a self-confessed shopaholic. This sounds cliche, but it’s true. You feel more motivated to workout when you have the right clothes and gear to exercise in. So go splurge yourself on a few items from your favorite athletic wear store (my personal recommendation: Lululemon or Nike), or if you’re a shoeholic (which I’m also am … not good for my wallet at all), I recommend trying Brooks running shoes – they’re super comfortable.

 

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3.Take a nap. | I definitely need to tell this myself more often, but naps does wonders to your mood. Who knows? You may just feel upset and down because you’re lacking on your hours of sleep. Go set a timer for 30 minutes and sleep it out.

 

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4.Get yourself a bouquet of flowers | Or whatever that makes you feel spoiled. Personally, both my mom and I love getting flowers from the store to display in our house. The bright colors instantly lifts our moods up. So find whatever item that aesthetically pleases you.

 

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5. Buy a new song/album. | Instead of playing that one song you’re obsessed with on YouTube and having to annoyingly wait for the ads to pass or having to re-click the replay button numerous times, allow yourself to buy that song. Especially, if that’s song is Taylor Swift, because her songs are nowhere to be found on Spotify or Apple Music.

 

How do you usually deal with stress or rewards? 

xoxo, Stephanie

 

My Winter Break Fitness Routine

My Winter Break Fitness Routine

December 17th marked the first day of winter break for me. Now, winter break in my books is always a mental break, but not so much a physical break. Not only do I take being in shape seriously, but I also have a full indoor track season ahead of me when I get back from break which gives me the incentive to be diligent about my workouts.

Today’s post will solely be focused on my fitness routine during my first week back for winter break and will most likely be my winter routine for the rest of the break.

Just on a side note, I count myself lucky to have parents (especially my mom) who are willing to drive me to the gym as well as workout together with me.

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FRIDAY, December 18th: 45 minute run + 10 minute erg + 10 minute core + rehab exercises | Friday was a moderate workout day. I went on a 45 minute run on the running machine at 7.3 mph (that’s an 8:13 pace per mile meaning it’s easier than my tempo pace which is a minute added to my 6:58 mile time). After the run, I did 10 minutes on the erg machine. I’m hoping to get in the crew team for spring this year so I’m trying to get practice on my form and speed because I know a lot of freshmen girls are trying out this year. After all my cardio, I did my 10 minute core routine where it’s 10 core exercises a minute each. I seriously can attest that doing these daily for several weeks have shown results both physically in my abs but also in my fitness levels as well. The 10 minute core routine goes like this: leg lifts, bicycles, Russian twists, crunches, regular plank, side plank (on both sides), penguins, in’s and out’s, and V-sits. I also have to do rehab exercises for my left knee which got injured right after Thanksgiving Break. My trainer and track coach both believe it’s from overuse and I’m building up my quads and hamstrings in hopes to not get injured again. The rehab exercises are 15×3 regular squats, 10×3 Bulgarian split squats on both legs, 10×3 step up and step down, 10×3 on the leg extension machine, and 10×3 suspended clams on each leg.

 

SATURDAY, December 19th :  35 minute run + 20 min bike + 10 minute core + rehab exercises | Today was a mix of cardio along with the regular core and rehab exercises. I did a 35 minute run at again the same pace at 7.3 mph and then hopped on the bike with resistance level 3 where my rpm was around the 110-115 range. I love going on the bike because I get more mileage (so I kind of fool my body thinking that I did more work) plus I get to watch YouTube videos while cycling! I know some people can get away with listening to music let alone watching videos on their devices while running, but for some reason my earbuds never stay put so I can never use my phone to entertain myself during my runs.

 

SUNDAY, December 20th: 30 minute walk + 3 Ballet Beautiful videos + 5 minute core | Today was pretty much a rest day for me. I went on a walk with my dad to Giant (local grocery store) to buy more Christmas lights for our tree and ice cream (our whole family’s weakpoint). My parents and I have been incorporating walks to the grocery store ever since last spring, and I think it’s wonderful. Although they go to the grocery store mainly to buy ice cream, walking nonetheless is exercise and I love getting some fresh air. After coming back from Giant, I went upstairs, pulled out my yoga mat and followed along to three Ballet Beautiful videos. I haven’t done Ballet Beautiful videos since last winter since I was so busy athletic wise with tennis and spring track. I love Ballet Beautiful because it’s not your regular squats or pushups, but it’s ballet like movements that seriously kill you. Mary Helen Bowers, the founder of Ballet Beautiful, is famous for training celebrities like Natalie Portman and Lily Aldridge. Let me tell you her videos are hard. After the Ballet Beautiful video, I did a condensed version of my core routine where it was 30 seconds for each exercise. I think it’s equally important to give your body enough rest as well as giving your body a challenge. If you don’t rest, you’ll either injury self later or not be as productive in your future workouts meaning your time won’t be well spent.

*The three Ballet Beautiful videos I watched: 

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MONDAY, December 21st: 65 minute run + 10 minute core + rehab exercise | My track coach called for a long run today, so I went on a 60 minute run at a 7.0 mph pace plus a five minute cool down. So that means I ran a bit over 7 miles today. Being the distance runner I am, long runs are super nice because I finally get to settle myself into a comfortable pace instead of sprinting and being confused at what pace I should be in like the mile. After the long run, I did my 10 minute core (I’m seriously religion about my core routine!!!) and my rehab exercises as well.

 

TUESDAY, December 22nd: 45 minute run + 15 minute erg + 10 minute core + rehab exercises | After a 45 minute run at a 7.3 pace, I hopped on the erg for 15 minutes holding around 2:15-2:30. After the two cardio sessions, I of course, went to do my 10 minute core and rehab exercises.

 

After the end of each workout, I make sure to stretch and roll out with a foam roller for a solid 10 minutes. I think it’s crucial that after a workout, I stretch out my muscles in order to give them a speedy and proper recovery. Also, I drink lots of water and a bottle of 100% coconut water when I get home back from the gym. Coconut water has 100% natural electrolytes and is great to drink for hydration!

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WEDNESDAY, December 23rd : 55 minute run + 20 minute erg + 10 minute core + strengthening exercises | Today I went on a 55 minute run at a 7.2 mph pace and then did 20 minutes on the erg machine. I did 50 strokes which were in the 2:10-2:20 range with the handle and then 25 strokes without the handle. I’m still a beginner with rowing machines so I did the 25 handle-free strokes for the sake of building my rowing form. I did these sets (50 w/ handle, 25 w/out handle) four times. After the erg machine, I went to the section of the gym that I don’t frequent often, which is where all the weights are. I did exercises that targeted my arms, abs, and legs. After 20 minutes of strengthening exercises, I did 10 minute core, stretched and foam rolled.

 

THURSDAY, December 24th: 60 minute walking and running combination + 10 minute cycle + 10 minute core | I sensed something was amiss when I felt my legs felt super sore and heavy when I woke up this morning. Consequently, when I started running, my legs felt like they were bounded down with 100 pound weights, that I decided today would be an impromptu recovery/rest day. I went on a very easy jog (around 6.0 mph) for 30 minutes and the rest I speed walked at 4.3 mph. After 60 minutes on the treadmill, I hopped on the bike and lowered the resistance super low and started cycling rapidly. I did this in hopes to get all the lactic acid stored in my quads from yesterday’s workout. I didn’t do any of my rehab exercises because they included squats and leg targeted moves or the erg machine (which I think the 20 minute session may have led to the soreness). After the cycle, I did a 10 minute core and a nice long stretch and foam-rolling to end today’s workout.

 

FRIDAY, December 25th : NONE | Today was definitely a planned rest day. My uncle’s family was coming up for the holidays so much of today was spent cleaning and prepping the house as well as spending time with my parents.

 

SATURDAY, December 26th: 65 minute run + rehab exercises + 5 minute core | After two easy days, my body was begging me to go workout – haha. Anyways, I did a nice and easy jog (7.0 mph) for a bit over an hour. After the jog, I did my rehab exercises. Although my legs still felt a little heavy and I was still scared from Thursday’s sudden soreness, I wanted to still strengthen my legs since I didn’t want my knee to get injured again. After the rehab exercises, I did half of my core routine because I was short on time, stretched, and foam rolled.

SUNDAY, December 27th: 45 minute run + rehab exercises + 5 minute erg + 10 minute core | Today I went on a 45 minute run at 7.1 mph, did 5 minutes on the erg not for the sake of a workout but to maintain my form. Before my cardio session, I did 8×3 on the hamstring curl machine, 8×3 on the leg extensions, and 8×3 on both sides for the Bulgarian split squats. I of course ended today’s workout with 10 minute core, stretching, and foam rolling.

For the rest of the week (Monday – Thursday) I won’t be able to fit any workouts because I’m going on a winter retreat with my church. I hope you enjoyed getting an inside look at my workouts!

How do you plan your workouts? Is it the same thing every time at the gym? Or do you have designated workout days like leg day or arm day?

xoxo, Stephanie