Saturday, October 31, 2015

Non-measurable Victories

So I decided that this was an important thing to talk about because so often people get caught up in the numbers. As though success can only be quantified in numbers be that as how much money you make, material things you have, or pounds/inches lost.

I'm not saying I don't do this because I do. I catch myself focusing too much on numbers, and now that I'm starting my cut I don't want that to be my focus. I don't want to do this just to get to a certain number or to chase that perfect body or to prove anything to anyone. I'm not doing this so people will go "wow! did you lose weight?" or "what's your secret?" or "I wish I looked as good as you!".

I'm simply doing this for myself and because I have goals. Because chasing those goals is what I love, and it's a challenge. And quite honestly, I don't think I'm obligated to explain or justify why I'm doing this to anyone else. If someone wants to get leaner then that's their choice. If they want to build muscle then that's their choice. If they don't want muscle growth then that's their choice.

My point is don't measure your victories by the scale or measurements or what other people say. I listed 10 things that have nothing to do with anyone else or the numbers but are simply for yourself!

1. Found something you're passionate about 

2. It changes you for the better

3. More confidence in your abilities 

4. The knowledge that you're doing something good for yourself 

5. Feeling yourself get stronger

6. Being more comfortable in your skin

7. Seeing your progress

8. You learn discipline

9. You discover you're so much more capable than you gave yourself credit

10. You're empowered

These are all things that I'm going to keep in mind during the coming weeks, and the first day of my cut I woke up to this Bible verse in my email and I kid you not I almost laughed at God's timing. Not in a bad way but in a "okay, Jesus I hear you LOUD and CLEAR" kind of way haha!

No discipline is enjoyable while it's happening-- it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:11

So for me this cut is more spiritual and after reading Made to Crave I understand its purpose more than I ever have. That's all I'm going to say on the matter because it's between me and God but out of all these 10 non-measurable victories, bringing me closer to the Lord is the biggest victory for me.

So go out there and kick butt, whatever your goals and victories may be! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Easiest Cherry Cobbler

This is quite possibly the easiest dessert I've ever made and people went CRAZY for it. My grandma has been making dump cakes for awhile but this one was a bit different as I made it more cobbler-like. I see recipes like this all over Pinterest and honestly haven't been able to find the true source of who came up with this so this is not my own recipe. I only wish I could give proper credit to whoever came up with this genius idea! 

Here's what you'll need: 
1 box of yellow cake mix
1 can of pie filling (your choice of flavor) 
1 stick of butter

In a traditional dump cake you literally just dump in the pie filling then the cake mix on top then cut up the butter and lay it on top of the cake layer. It's that easy! And totally lives up to the dump cake name since you just dump it and go. 

This one I saw was more like a cobbler so I wanted to try it out. It's just as easy but only takes one quick extra step. You can also use two cans of pie filling or mix and match different flavors! My grandma likes to do cherry with a can of crushed pineapple. 


1. Place the pie filling on the bottom of the pan (grease a 9x13 pan)


2. Melt the stick of butter in the microwave

3. Mix the cake mix with the melted butter until it's all incorporated


4. Crumble up the butter and cake mixture on top of the pie filling


5. Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes until the top is all golden brown

I don't actually have a picture of the finished product since we were in the middle of my mom's 2-year anniversary dinner, and totally forgot! I baked this while we were eating dinner so that it came fresh out of the oven. I served it with cool whip and people were raving about this. They kept asking me for the recipe and when I explained how simple it was, they were amazed! I would highly recommend this dessert as an easy crowd-pleaser that takes a total of 5 minutes to prep. 

Also, I couldn't help but share this adorable picture from the dinner! Figures, I forget to take pictures of my food but if there's an adorable photo op of Layla then I remember haha! 


I wouldn't let her in the living room while everyone was eating (her hair would be everywhere) so the twins hung out with her on the sun porch. Then I look over and see these little cuties! Like I always say, three peas in a pod! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Start of My Cut & 2 Leg Workouts!

Good morning everyone! I'm officially on 3 day of my cut and loving it. It's actually be strangely refreshing to start a small cut, and I'm excited to see how the coming weeks go! For this post, I'm going to break it down over the past 3 days. 

Saturday

I kicked off Saturday morning with a plyo legs workout because it's one of my favorites. I did this circuit 4 times through and each round takes about 12 minutes. For the pulsing split squats and lunges you do 45 seconds for each leg so that's how you get 12 minutes. You don't have to use the slider pads but just do regular lunges with either weights or your bodyweight. I use lighter weights for the goblet squats, pulsing split squats, walking lunges, and the kettle bell swings. 


People have asked me what's the benefit of reversing before doing a cut and my answer is simple: more foooood haha! But really. On Saturday, I had 3 pieces of bread, potatoes, a waffle, and some mini cookies. And that's on my cutting macros! Yeah I probably won't be able to stay on those high of carbs the whole time but it's a pretty great place to start. 


After my workout I had a slice of toast with 1 tablespoon almond butter and cheesy scrambled eggs. Protein tip: to get the most out of your eggs mix egg whites with whole eggs (more protein, less fat). Pictured here is 1 whole egg with 1/4 cup egg whites and 2 tbsp mozzarella cheese. 


My new obsession: BLT! 3 slices of turkey bacon, couple slices of tomato, fresh spinach, and spicy mustard all on 2 pieces of wheat bread. I have one planned in my macros every day this week #noshame. 


Sunday

I made a helping of overnight oats in my almost empty jar of this Jif hazelnut spread. Rachael got me hooked on it and it's delicious. I also mixed in some almond butter and it was quite the tasty breakfast. 


Later on in the day we had a dinner for my mom to celebrate her being home 2 years! It's crazy how fast the time has gone, and I'm amazed at how much God has taken care of our family. You can read more about her story here and this one too!

For dessert, I made a cherry cobbler dump cake which I'll post soon :)

Monday

This morning was none other than leg day! By far my favorite day of the week, I can't get enough. If only every day could be leg day haha! 

I tried out front squats today and let me just say I am IN LOVE. It felt so much more natural to me than a traditional back squat and not to mention zero back pain! I've been looking more into front squats as an alternative to back squats for people who have lower back pain, and some people have recommended I try it out. I finally did, and was so glad I did because I'll be incorporating more of them. I don't know why I was so intimidated by them but I thought holding the bar in the front would be awkward or more difficult but it's surprisingly not at all. I was able to get so much more depth as well, and focus much more on my quads. Whenever I would do back squats I would struggle hitting my quads since my glutes would take over no matter how much I would change around my foot placement or form. 

I kept it on the lighter side, 25 pounds on each side, to really focus on form and get the feel for it. 



I also found this little gem and you should probably go out right now and buy some. If you are a fan of snickerdoodle then this is the coffee creamer for you! 


Later on today, my aunt and I are taking Lola and Layla to volunteer at the nursing home by our house. I'm excited to take Layla because getting her therapy certified is one of my dreams! I think this will be great practice for her, and I know she'll love making some new friends. 

Hope you all have a great Monday! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Last Increase & Leg Day PR!

I've decided that this past Sunday was my last increase before I do a cut starting this coming Sunday. I definitely have gotten to a level of food where my body is completely happy at, which is great news in terms of finding my maintenance. So once I'm done with my cut, I'll know a good place to reverse back to. It takes a lot of time and patience to figure this stuff out but I can't even stress how much it is worth it!  

I've decided I'll start my cut slow in order to preserve as much of my metabolism as possible. So I'm not gonna go crazy and cut 500-600 calories the first go because then it would be miserable trying to go lower than that when my weight plateaus. I've backed off on HIIT a lot the past several weeks too, which was purposeful because my main focus has been to just really try to build up some muscle. Meanwhile, my running is increasing which is great timing if I need to up my cardio. Let me just add real quick you can totally do HIIT and cardio during a reverse and still build muscle. What I meant by focusing on building muscle was simply a matter of time since my workouts are time-limited I allotted most of it to lifting. 

Basically everything is falling in to place and I'm super excited! I haven't done a cut in a longggg time, and I'm curious to see what's going to happen. I can feel my body being much more muscular compared to last fall at this time so I'd love to be able to see more of my hard work! Arm muscles are finally coming in plus I can see a slight separation starting to form between my hamstrings and glutes which is like all I've ever dreamed of haha! Well that and quads but my hamstrings are the weakest part of my leg so it's exciting to see that progress. I honestly can't wait to keep moving forward towards my goals!

Sunday morning before church, I celebrated increase day with my usual helping of oats! Not sure how that tradition started during this reverse but it's something I look forward to since I'm not able to have a nice sit-down breakfast any other day. I made hot oats with a banana sliced, tablespoon of honey roasted peanut butter, and sweetened with stevia. 


All those extra carbs on Sunday were put to good use for my Monday leg day! I still can't do squats because of my lower back, but honestly I don't miss them. This might be taboo in the #fitchick world but I'm not really about squats. People ask me how I managed to grow my quads so much and honestly squats were never the answer for me! I utilize three machines to really grow my quads: leg press (narrower foot stance to isolate quads), smith machine lunges (keep the weight on the front leg, really sink straight down without leaning forward to keep the quad contracted without bringing in the glutes too much), and leg extensions. 

For the leg extensions I do a whole variety of reps, sets, and mixing it up to make it different every week. This past week I did a set of single leg extensions for each leg then immediately cranked the weight up to do a set with both legs. Talk about a burn! So it was like a tri-set and my legs were jello after that. The same goes with the smith machine and leg press. I'm constantly pushing myself with heavier weights and/or higher reps to make sure I reach failure each time. I keep track so that I know each week how much I need to go up in weight. 

I've gotten some questions about how I know I've reached failure. This is the way I think about it: if you get to a point where another rep makes you want to cry well then you're there! Well, no, you don't actually have to cry haha! Here's a great example of reaching failure in my past workout. I was doing the leg extensions and I was shooting for 10 reps on my last set with both my legs. I actually failed at 9 like my legs dropped mid-rep, I couldn't finish out the rep. When I was at 8 and struggling I said to myself "ehh push through, shoot for 10" but that clearly didn't happen. 

I'm actually thinking about doing a separate post about lifting and muscle failure because there is debate about whether or not it's good for your body to train that way. Let me just say something really quickly but I only train to failure on certain exercises and muscle groups. Like when I used to do squats I didn't train to failure because I wouldn't want to fail mid-rep with 165 pounds chilling on my back. Even if I did have a spotter I still wasn't comfortable training that way, especially with my lower back. 


The same goes for leg press but that's because I still need to be careful with my back. So it all depends people! Listen to your body and figure out what works for you training-wise. 

BUT I was excited this week because I got a new PR! I've been extremely cautious with upping the weight too much on leg press so I've been just adding higher reps a lot rather than higher weight. Well since my back is doing excellent with cutting out squats, I can really focus on going heavy on the leg press. I told myself I would do 4 plates each side for a total of 360 pounds (some people count the weight of the sled but I don't) and I admit I was surprised at how much easier this weight felt. I really thought I would be riding the struggle bus to get out 1 rep but I got 3! And was able to do another set of 3! 

I'm going to give it another couple weeks before I try for 10 plates but in the mean time I'll be slowly adding in more weight on top of 8 to see what I'm capable of. It just goes to show our bodies can be so much stronger than we think! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sunday Funday with the Family

On Sunday during the day, all the cousins headed up to my aunt and uncle's camp about an hour and a half north of us. It's nice and secluded which is great for hiking and taking the quads out. We had a blast! The weather was great, and Layla loved running around in all the open fields. Sadly, Lola couldn't come as her front paw is bothering her and needed to rest it. Hopefully she'll be good for the next trip up! 

It was just what I needed to take a break and get away, and relax with my family. It always cheers me up. 



Of course, I had Layla pose for some shots :) my friend said she should be a dog model haha!


As I say all the time, she loves my twin cousins! They're 8 and full of energy so the three of them are like peas in a pod. Kids are her absolute favorite.  


All day long people were going in and out on either the quad or dirt bikes. There were 7 of us so we would take turns, and Layla never tried to follow anyone except once I got on the quad. She took off after me and Hannah and tried running alongside it! We stopped and I tried to get her to go back but she wouldn't budge from my side, not even with everyone back at the camp calling her. Eventually, someone had to come get her haha because she was determined not to let me out of her sight. Anddd that's why no one in the family is ever concerned about her running away. 


At one point, I had to grab something from my car so Layla walked up with me. On our way back, I decided to test her just to see what would happen. There was a bend in the road with some trees to the right so when Layla went around the bend first, I ducked off to the side behind the trees. I was curious to see what she would do if she turned around to check in with me and I wasn't there. Well, she panicked! A couple seconds later she comes running around the bend with her ears up, tail held high and looking around frantically. I couldn't help it but burst out laughing and as soon as she heard me she wheels around and comes running over to me with her tail wagging frantically and started licking me. Then I felt bad for pranking her haha! But at the same time I was pleased that her off-leash training has paid off, and her first instinct is to search for me rather than run off on her own thinking it's a free-for-all if I'm no longer around. 


We also went running through the corn field! 


Hannah and I went hiking with Elise at one point, and we couldn't resist snapping this cute picture! Elise got the crazy dog lady gene like me and Hannah, you can see it in her eyes haha! 

video

At the end of this video, Amanda's face cracks me up. "Oh, a video?? CHEESE!"

video

It was a great day to spend with family, and much needed break to get away from the pressure of all my school work! 

What's your favorite way to relax?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quick 25 Minute Full-Body Workout

Hi all! I wanted to get a quick post up about my workout that I did yesterday morning. I was in a time crunch so I put together some of my favorite moves to create a 25 minute full body power workout. Even though it was less than half an hour, I gave it my all and was pouring sweat by the end! 

I was also pretty excited because I'm making some progress on my pull-ups (I swear all my strength goes to my lower body). I work on them a few times a week, and it's starting to pay off. I got one of those over-the-door ones from I think Bed Bath and Beyond for my birthday last year. One of the best presents I've ever asked for! 

For the sliding lunges, I have slider discs that I use for those. If you don't have discs you can use a towel on a hard surface floor or just regular lunges with/without weights. I also used weights for the walking lunges, too and a resistance band for the ice skaters. 


Let me know if you try it out! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

The "I've-lost-track-of-the-week": Reverse Dieting Update

As promised here is my update! I have no idea what week I am on but over the past couple months there have been times where I haven't necessarily done an increase but just kinda hung out at those macros. I've been feeling great, and I actually have a cut planned starting in a little over a week. Simply just to see where my body is at and what muscles might be hiding ;)

I have been loving the changes I've seen with my body lately and particularly my quads that are showing up! The more I eat the more they lean out so you won't hear me complaining. The human body continues to amaze me.

Speaking of amazing, the other week was my rest week (praise the Lord) and I did an increase and actually dropped 2 pounds. Without working out! Seriously, though, I never even lose that much during a week where I'm cutting and working out, ha! No idea how it happened, but I'm not gonna question it.

So here are some of my recent progress pics!


The left picture is the last progress picture I could find because honestly I haven't taken a lot of pictures in well over a month and a half or more. I just recently started weighing myself again, which only lasted for two consecutive weeks and it's probably been a good two weeks since I last weighed myself. I've just been going by how I feel!


Anyone else have the problem of seeing muscles and then as soon as you take a picture they disappear?? That's how I feel about my quads haha! I swear there's more definition but the lighting in my room at 6am is not ideal.


And some shoulder growth too! 




Overall, I'm really happy how things have gone, and I'm excited to start my cut. Depending on how things go with that and the reverse following it, I might start aiming for staying at maintenance and working on intuitive eating. I'm in no rush, though, because there's no timeline and I'm just doing it for fun and to learn more about my body. 

Hope you all have a great Friday! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Quads, Hamstrings, & Delts

So sharing my workouts with you guys has been going over really well, and I figured I would keep posting them periodically! I don't mind sharing my workouts at all even though I know tons of people like to keep it hush hush so they can charge ya later. So here are some freebies :) 

Quads & Hamstrings (Monday)


Some of these are going to take some explanation because let's be honest when I develop these workouts they're for me, and I'm not thinking ahead to if I share them haha! The 7-7-7-7 leg extensions I've talked about before on my Instagram but I'll explain again here. What you do: 7 regular reps, then 7 reps with a pause at the contraction so at the top, then 7 half reps on the bottom, then 7 half reps at the top. All back-to-back to equal 1 whole set. Then repeat that 4 times. Warning: your legs might fall off. It's a pretty legit burn but I LOVE IT. I do about half the usual weight I do for leg extensions so about 85-90lbs. 

The stiff legged dead lifts I use two 5 pound plates to put my toes on. This really targets my hamstrings as I'm forced to drive more through my heels with my toes elevated on the plate. I use a barbell for this but you can use dumbbells, too. 

The jumping leg press I use the horizontal machine where you can select the weight rather than the regular angled leg press where you rack the plates yourself. I wouldn't recommend trying this out on the regular leg press if you don't have the horizontal machine I'm talking about. Anyway, here's a video to show what I mean: 


So there you go! Let me know if you try out the workout! 

Shoulders with some accessory chest work (this morning)


I tried out leaning lateral raises today and talk about a burn! All I did was grab on to the door frame to support me as I leaned over a bit. I did 3 sets of 12 on each arm. The front to lateral raises are exactly what they sound like: you do a front raise then once your arms are parallel to the ground in front of you then move them out to the sides like where you would've come up if you did a lateral raise. Then lower them from the top of the lateral raise position to the start position to finish 1 rep. 

Let me know what other workouts you'd like to see! I can start sharing more of my back and arm workouts, too. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

6-miler and still pain free!

I'm pretty pumped today because I had one of the best runs I've had in a long time! I talked last week about how I was aiming for 6 miles this week, and I admit I was a little nervous to see how it would go. But there was no need for that because I had zero pain! 

My endurance has also really increased as well from the speed workouts that I do as well as hill sprints and other HIIT workouts. It all pays off eventually! So I felt really good during the run too a.k.a. didn't feel like I was going to pass out or die haha! Real talk: all runners know what I'm talking about when you have to get back in the game. The best way getting in to running shape was described to me is this: running is like running in to a wall every single day until one day unexpectedly the wall breaks so keep going because you never know when that day is right around the corner. 

It's so true because honestly a lot of my runs lately have felt like they weren't going well or were for nothing but then BAM I crank out six wonderful miles! It's all worth it in the end. 


I kept my pace on the slower side as I usually run somewhere between 8-9 minute miles just depending on what the run is designed for. It was a comfortable pace, and I was pleased that I managed to keep it under a 10 minute mile average. 

I always think to myself that some day I'll get a fancy running watch that gives me the break down of each mile time but never get around to it! Probably because I'd rather spend my money on food or workouts clothes haha! 

Overall, I was so happy with how this run went, and can't wait to potentially try to seven soon. I might give it another week or two and just hang out around this mileage because I don't want to increase too much too soon. So we'll see! 

Also, before I forget I have gotten some questions about my reverse diet and I realized I haven't updated you guys in forever so I'll do that soon! Which means I actually have to remember to take progress pictures since I haven't done that in awhile either...figures. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday Morning: Quads & Breakfast

Good morning! In between homework breaks, I wanted to get a quick post up from my workout this morning. Mondays are my leg days and let me tell you my quads have been feeling it alllll day already. I'm slightly scared to see how I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning, but hey! It's all in the name of the gains, right?? 

Today I switched it up and instead of doing 3-4 sets of a lot of different exercises, I really wanted to make sure I was tiring out my quads by doing 6 sets of extremely heavy reps. I picked my three favorite exercises to target my quads which are leg extensions, smith machine lunges, and the leg press with a narrower leg stance (much more quad focused). Altering your leg stance can make all the difference with which area of your leg you want to hit. 

Then, I added in 3 accessory exercises at the end to really make sure my legs were toast! 


Lots of people ask what it means to "lift heavy" and honestly I don't think there's an actual range! It's all about what's heavy for YOU. Just for an idea here is some of the weight ranges that I use for my quads. Please note that this is going to look different to everyone depending on their experience level, I'm sure this will seem like warm-up sets to a lot of people! But I worked hard to get to this point so I'm proud :) 

Leg extensions: started out at 140lbs for 12, then 145 for 10, 150 for 8, and 160 for 6
Smith machine lunges: 70lbs for 12, 90 for 10, and 110 for 8
Narrow leg press: 200lbs for 15 (warm-up), 220 for 12, 240 for 10, 260 for 12, 320 for 6 

I went nice and slow (slower than usual) to really utilize each rep. If you truly want to risk not being able to walk, you can pause at the contraction, which is what I did and I'll probably regret it tomorrow. It'll be worth it, though, because my love for leg day is a little insane haha! 


After wobbling to the car and managing to drive home, I whipped up breakfast! Fresh chicken eggs and turkey bacon. Along with a waffle that I couldn't take a picture of because I was in desperate need for food, and couldn't wait for the bacon and eggs to cook. So that was gobbled up in approximately 0.2038 seconds. 

I have a couple of other posts that I'll work on getting up this week! I promise that I'm going to actually be a blogger, and write stuff on here haha! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Things I'm Lovin' Lately

Alright, now I've gotten several requests to bring back Friday Favorites but the truth of the matter is I just can't promise to post stuff like that on the reg haha! I can do really well for awhile but then it just slips away. 

SO, I made a compromise. This is just going to be a post every so often (a.k.a. when I remember) to just update y'all on some things that I am currently obsessed with. I really and truly tried to get this posted on Friday to give you a little taste of good ole Friday Favorites but that obviously didn't happen :)


Iced green tea lemonade! Although, it has cooled considerably this week so I've been making it warm instead of iced, and I like it just as much! 


I've been looking up a lot of hiking trails in the area because I really want to take Layla on more hikes this fall. I decided to invest in some quality boots because it's been a long time coming. Amanda, my dad, and I are planning on a trip up to our house in the mountains in about a month so these will come in handy then as well! I found this pair of Timberlands on Zappos, and I couldn't be happier with them. They don't need breaking in at all, and provide so much support. I've worn them a few times already, and definitely recommend them! 


These truffles are AMAZING! I sent some to Margot in a care package, and I got a text that read "OMG SAM THESE TRUFFLES" which is the most accurate way to describe them. Hands down some of the best truffles I've ever tasted! 


I am seriously in love with the book "Made to Crave", and was thrilled when I found out there was a devotional to go with it! I'm re-reading the book again because I make so many markings and write down quotes that I feel like I need to go through it again to let it sink in. It is such a relatable book, and Lysa isn't afraid to talk about topics that people skirt around, which I absolutely adore about her. She just delves right in, and I honestly wish I had known about this book three years ago. I would recommend this book to anyone, you won't regret it! 


Salted cream cheese and bagel thins, need I say more?! It legit tastes like salted caramel cream cheese icing which is more than okay in my book. 


I actually invested in some non-gym clothes for this fall, and I'm officially in love with one of my new sweaters from Target! I got this one on sale in the store, and it's amazingly soft and comfy. It was a big day this weekend because not only did I do my hair and make-up BUT I wore REAL PANTS (well, jeggings so close enough). A friend of ours took Amanda and I out to dinner to celebrate Amanda passing her chemistry praxis exam!


And it is pumpkin season after all! Did you really expect me not to have some kind of pumpkin-related thing on here?? These cookies are delicious and I like to enjoy them with a cup of my macro-friendly hot chocolate :) 

Hope you're all enjoying your Sunday!