Practice Makes Progress

It has been three months since I started with my physical trainer. In those three months, I have seen so much progress however it took me about 8 years to get to this point of being happy with my body. Yes, there are things about it I do not like, things I wish I could change, but I am confident in myself and my growth due to the progress I’ve seen in my strength training. The point of me sharing this is because progress takes time. People go to the gym workout really hard for a couple of days, look in the mirror and wonder why they don’t have big muscles or are 10 lbs thinner. If I have learned one thing it is that making exercise a part of your everyday routine, as well as a priority combined with consistency, is the only way you are going to see progress.

It doesn’t happen overnight. That sounds cliche but I remember changing my diet and trying all these different workout routines wondering why nothing was working. Now it helps that I pay someone monthly to write and monitor my program…. But something new for me is sticking with the same exercises on certain days of the week and adding weight CONSISTENTLY. The only way to see gains is to add little by little.

I am going to post my monthly routines. You will see that the weights I have started out with are different than they are now. The same goes for reps. I had trouble increasing in weight and I was compromising in form and reps. So instead of doing that… we dropped the weight and lowered the reps. You will see the differences between the months. Many exercises change but some of the major ones stay the same and those are key to look at.

Starting template
Starting Template


Current Template
Current Template

Over the last three months, I have seen my body transform into this program. I am getting muscle definition, my clothes are fitting differently, and I am losing weight. To see this progress gets me hooked on the process. I want to do more and lift heavier. Being held accountable by someone other than myself made me commit to the process and learn to be patient. I didn’t expect to really see results like I have but now that I know it is possible I am proud of it and want to do more.

A part of all that progress in learning more about yourself. You learn about your strengths, weaknesses, and you set goals for yourself as well as limits. Throughout some of my workouts, I was experiencing pain. Finally, after a week or two of it, I decided to skip the gym for a couple of days. If you’re addicted to something it is hard to quit it even if it is just for 48 hours. It made me feel bad about myself – not going. But I knew that if I wanted to do better I was going to have to take the time and not rush myself.

As cliche as it sounds being patient, consistent, and making your fitness a priority is the strongest recipe for success inside the gym. It has taught me so much about myself and about what is possible. I encourage anyone who is struggling to get into a fitness routine to make the commitment to yourself that you would like to reach a goal. Then come up with the ways you can reach that goal and don’t stop. Even when you’ve met it, set another one and keep pushing yourself. You will thank yourself and be proud.

When the Going Gets Tough/Heavy


So a week ago was the end of my first four week workout template with my trainer. It was now up to him to review the spread sheet I record my lifting on and make some changes and suggestions. The scary part of this is I knew he was going to up the weights for some lifts that I struggle with. The not so scary part was that I was excited to get new exercises and to change things up a bit.

A big change he made was the amount of reps and the weight instead of going heavier with less reps he adjusted some of the smaller movements to be less weight and more reps. This is a lot easier on my joints which have been giving me trouble lately. The heavier the weight is not necessarily the best way to make you stronger. But it is proper form and reps that can really help you build muscle.

I will admit I do not have a significant amount of upper body strength. I have come a long way but still have a substantial amount of work to do before I can hammer out 20 pushups. So safe to say bench press is not my favorite exercise. However this week I started with about 7.5lbs on each side of the bar so that makes 60lbs total. And instead of not finishing my max reps… I asked someone at the gym to spot me while I did it so I could finish strong. Having a spotter is really important and allows you to really confidently push through your last few reps.

Another exercise I find to be difficult with added weight is squats. Proper form is key in squatting and luckily my trainer is a competitive power lifer so he knows what he’s doing. So many people end up squatting incorrectly and 1. it is bad for your body and 2. you aren’t working the right parts of it. So in order for me to really do it correctly I end up taking my shoes off. You may be wondering why…. And it is because it’s really important to drive up through the heels and when you’re wearing sneakers it is hard to get your footing. In addition to looking like a dork with mismatched socks I end up staring at the wall and focusing. If I don’t I end up looking in the mirror and getting distracted. Getting distracted underneath the squat rack with 85+ lbs on your back can be a little hazardous.

I have now moved on to my second four week template and I am working on adding the weight. At first it can be intimidating but knowing it’s no big deal to ask for a spotter and that I am making progress makes it that much more fun. I am excited for what the next four weeks brings. It is important to focus on lifting safely and correctly with proper form before increasing the weight. Remember heavier is not necessarily better.

Spending Money On Things That Are Good For You

Every MWF a part of my daily trek is to go to my class on the third floor in Willard. And every MWF I am out of breath by the second set of stairs. I used to be discouraged by this but not anymore.


I recently splurged and bought myself a Garmin vivosmart Hr watch. What is this you ask? Here is a picture. What does it do? Let me tell you. My handy dandy new toy displays steps, distance, calories, heart rate, floors climbed, sleep, and activity intensity. It also receives texts, calls, and shows me all social media alerts and notifications. And it is SOOOO SATISFYING.

Although I do more strength training than cardio it has been very encouraging to see my stats over the last few weeks. Walking around campus MWF I do around 7 miles per day and get around 12,000 steps in. It gives me my avg heart rate during my lifting sessions and can tracks walks and runs with a gps so I can see how long it takes me to get certain places.


The fun thing about this watch is that it tracks progress. It lets you see your stats and have visual satisfaction. It also makes you push yourself further. It’s a subtle reminder to park farther away, walk instead of drive, and take the stairs instead of the elevator.


It also buzzes when you reach your daily step and stair goals which I find really encouraging when you’re half way through the day and you’ve already met your goal. It also is handy because it shows all the notifications you would get on your phone. While you can’t reply to them you can see who snapped, tweeted, or messaged you without having to sneak out your phone in class. 🙂


Something I specifically wanted and which lead me to this purchase was the built in GPS. I have apps that can track my route but that means I need to have my phone on me along with a place to put it and a charged battery. Safe to say this is a lot easier. For all the hiking I do this is really fun to be able to see where I went and how long it took me.


This watch also links to different apps. I have mine connected to Map My Run and My Fitness Pal. Map My Run is another workout tracker that I have been using up until I got the watch and My Fitness Pal I mostly use to track my daily food intake and nutrition. It syncs with my Garmin and Map My Run Apps so it merges all my statistics together which I can view in the Garmin app.


There are many gadgets and toys out there that can track your fitness. Fitbit and Garmin are probably the two most reputable brands and they offer all different types of trackers. It makes it easy to track your workouts and it also is a subtle cheerleader on your wrist.


As a student who has a million plus things to do each day this watch takes out some of the hassle of tracking and recording workouts and food. If you are in the market for a fitness tracker and you’re hesitant. Just do it. Money is meant to be spent. Especially on things that improve your health…..

The Importance of Pre/Post Workout

The last few weeks have been physically challenging to say the least. Between multiple workouts a day, work, and school, exhaustion is setting in. But regardless of how much exercise a person does if you aren’t getting the right nutrients your body will struggle.

Deadlifting without shoes (no I don’t match my socks)

If you do a lot of strength training two very important times of eating are pre-and post-workout. Now I work out every morning at 5:30 am so eating before I go to the gym has been a challenge. My trainer however has stressed the importance of it no matter how much I don’t want to.

People are often told to stay away from carbs and sugar. While in general that is advisable a person needs carbohydrates to fuel the body especially when you’re putting in so much work and exercise. A general rule of thumb before a lifting session is to consume carbohydrates so that your body has energy to expend. Post workout should also consist of carbs but most importantly protein. Protein is crucial to the recovery process.

Now with such a busy schedule and a lack of creativity I have struggled with coming up with things I actually want to eat. Especially food I can pack at home and take with me for the day. I recently purchased a mix called Kodiak Cakes. They are protein enriched pancakes and taste just like the regular kind. I made a batch of these on Sunday so that I can quickly heat them up during the week mornings. They are SO good. I am not a fan of sweet stuff first thing in the morning and usually I get sick after I eat that much but this morning I had two of them and wasn’t hungry until mid-morning!

Protein Pancakes for my pre-workout meal

There are countless ideas for pre-and post-workout snacks and meals. It is just a matter of personal preference and the time you have to dedicate to it. In addition to my pre-workout snack I have started to drink Amino Energy. I am not a coffee drinker…. It makes me feel sick and gross the whole day. So, my trainer recommended this as a source of caffeine. It is lemon lime and tastes like Gatorade for the most part. It gives me a boost first thing in the morning and you can drink it any time of day!

My own personal cabinet of goodies

Other sources of protein and energy can come from different protein powders (Whey is the best) and I sometimes use Propel packets if I’m in need of electrolytes or just because it tastes good.

The key is to find whatever works for you. Understand what you’re putting into your body every time you eat. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out all the stuff you love (ice cream, chocolate, pizza, popcorn etc.) That is allowed every once in a while! I am simply encouraging awareness and being conscious of what your body needs and what you give it. Our bodies work hard for us and it’s our job to work hard for them too.


For the Love of Lifting

I was never athletically inclined. In fact, the majority of my childhood was spent being overweight and petrified of gym class. I was always going on diets and setting goals for myself, in the end letting myself down. However about two years ago, something clicked. Suddenly working out and eating healthy wasn’t a chore for me, it was my motivation. Now it has turned into my number one passion. It is what I revolve my life around and makes me want to work hard and get better.

Entering the gym and being surrounded by the psycho fit people who do marathons and squats 500lbs like It’s no big deal is kind of intimidating at first. It takes time to get comfortable enough to really push yourself especially using equipment you are unfamiliar with. My biggest friend throughout this process was Pinterest. I wanted to walk in the gym every morning and look like I knew what I was doing so the first step in that was to make a workout routine. I did my research and educated myself on the body and strength training. I have a board with hundreds of exercises that I could choose from. This was a start.


Many people say they don’t have time for the gym. The reality is that it may be hard but if you make it a priority there is always time. I start my day every morning at 4:45 am and hit the gym at 5:30am until 7:00am. There I shower and get dressed for my day. The night before I will have already packed two outfits and my meals for the day. I am out the door at 5:15 am and get home at around 7 or 8. This takes a lot of preparation and isn’t easy. But my point is that it IS possible, especially if you’re willing to work hard enough for it.

In my gym, I’ve found my happy place. I’ve found confidence and strength as well as pride. I’ve met so many people that I get to see and talk to every day. Within the last eight months I’ve lost 18 lbs. and I have made significant gains in my strength training as well as cardio. 6 months ago, the farthest I could run without stopping was down to my mailbox and back. About a week ago I did a 5k mud run.

I have made fitness the center of my life. Now that I have seen the progress I am capable of, I am addicted. I invest my time money and energy into being as active and healthy as possible. This has been the best thing to ever happen to me. I just started working with a personal trainer, joined Women’s Water Polo as well as a fitness club on campus called CHAARG. Two years ago I would’ve been scared to death and said there was no way.


But there is a way. Many ways. And I am writing this blog to show you them.