Meeting Kris Gethins

It was almost a month ago that I had the opportunity to meet Kris Gethins — my long time fitness inspiration and self-proclaimed celebrity bodybuilding trainer. Kris is rolling out his supplement brand to Vitamin Shoppes across the country. Needless to say I was a bit emotional.

Kris and the KM brand has been a huge inspiration in my life and has helped me learn so much about dedication, control, fitness, and health. It’s been a full 3 weeks and the inspiration has not yet left me.

There are times where it gets hard. Where life wants to keep you busy. When your environment wants to take over and prevent me from being my best self. I’m grateful to have role models like Kris and supportive friends who have pushed me along the way and helped me become better.

3 weeks later and I’m still on track and 4 pounds down. I’m getting a inBody body fat analysis tomorrow so I’m excited to report back on bf% loss!

Work Life Integration When Balancing Isn’t Realistic

Most of my readers know that I work in education — and my current job fully embodies the wackiness that comes along with a career in student affairs. From a constantly changing schedule to abnormal hours due to student programs, my work days constantly look different.

A year ago, the idea of this would have probably stressed me out. I got used to having a fixed schedule. I would go to the gym before work or after work and I’d come up with a set schedule to be repeated on a weekly basis.

Now, there are days where my first meeting of the day starts at 10 am and my last event cleans up at 11 pm. Tis Life. Of course when this happens 5 days a week (it technically doesn’t) life can get a little out of control. In realizing this, I’ve come to find that it’s not so much about balancing my days anymore. I would be bending my life backwards if I worked 12 hours and tried to find a way to “balance” myself. It doesn’t help that I’ve never been that good at balancing things; I learned how to ride a bike in college.

It turns out that this dynamic nature of my job hours have really forced me to think about what work life balance meant to me. And to rethink of it as integration. Working in an environment where my schedule is constantly shifting has taught me about fitting pieces of my life into my role. This has helped me really critically look at every hour I have free in my schedule.

It helps that my office is about a 1 minute walk from one of the weight rooms/locker rooms on campus, I’m just that lucky. I’ll usually start drinking my pre-workout half an hour before my gym hour, typically mid-meeting, and then I disappear for an hour mid day when I don’t have meetings to escape, run to the gym, work out for 30 minutes, shower, and go back to work. This does mean that I have to skimp a little on my cardio and be efficient when I’m lifting but it forces me to be focused.

On the weekends where I don’t work and mornings/evenings that I now have free (and am trying to figure out what to do with) I make an excuse to do some cardio wherever I can. It also helps that I live across the street from Mission Bay, and I can literally run (lets be real, speed walk) along the water.

Thinking about work-life integration has challenged me to look at free hours in between my day and figure out where I can squeeze in a little me-time. I’ve found myself more energized and focused after the gym, and am better able to serve my students. Talk about a plus!

When life hits… and takes over

It’s been 10 months. In the last 10 months, I’ve let things slip.

Between graduating from graduate school, my first full time job, and the start and end of my first relationship, life has hit me in so many different ways. I realized that in the past year or so, even though graduate school has ended, I’ve continued to let myself get stuck in a vicious cycle of self-involvement. The irony is that I was self-involved with things that were external to me. The things that I intentionally chose to make my priority have negatively affected my life. I haven’t maintained many of my friendships, and it wasn’t about fitting in fitness anymore.

San Diego looked very different to me today. I thought about how my best friend was longer in the city. How many of my major emotional supports over the years are hundreds if not thousands of miles away from me. How I don’t feel 100% settled in my new place (I’m still in boxes, I admit it). How I’m no longer able to walk across my building, and just find someone to go eat with. And yet… I’ve started the process of buying my first place. I looked at San Diego very differently today.

Nancy Scholssberg talks about Transition theory — and the different types of events that occur to create moments of transition. Today was a day where I thought a lot about unanticipated transitions, things like the loss of a dead one, or an earthquake. It was a moment where I thought deeply about how no matter how shitty it feels in the moment to deal with an unanticipated transition, this transition is just that: unanticipated. It is not by my own doing, it is life, ebbing and flowing in it’s own unique way.

I look at my support, however, and realize that I am not alone. But it is up to me to refocus on my personal life, and really rethink what matters the most to me. Trying to reach out to the people around me and redeveloping those friendships and relationships that have become more distanced while I was self-involved. To my friends, I’m sorry.

And while I’ve allowed myself spent a fair amount of time being upset: sitting in my room and finishing the last season of How I Met Your Mother for what feels like the 83rd time, I realized that I need to focus attention back to myself, make it a priority, and hopefully keep it a priority.

For the time being, I’m proud of myself for refocusing some of my energy. I’m allowing myself to enjoy the little victories. Today’s little victory was writing again, working out again, and eating well but deliciously. (a poki-bowl, and steak in case you’re wondering).

Parts of me are 100% still processing: trying to make sense of things. I realize this will take time, but I feel more at peace with it. The next few days are going to be rough.

I realize fitting in fitness now looks different with a full time job that requires me to maintain a somewhat flexible work schedule. I’m no longer 8-4:30. Student Affairs peeps I’m sure you can all relate. But more on how I plan to tackle that beast another day.

Why I’m Spending Christmas Alone…

It’s been over 3 months since I’ve last posted on here. A lot has happened in my life, but only a little bit has happened in the gym.

In the past 3 months, I’ve started a new job. My first full-time job. I’m now advising the student government at UCSD. I’m also still in graduate school. Yes, that’s still a thing. I rekindled my college obsession with Kombucha, and I’m finally in the process of brewing my first batch. Things have been all over the place and I’m ashamed but finally realizing that I’ve let things go. Way more than any human should have.

The past week I’ve been back in the gym in full force – meaning a consistent training schedule and following a meal plan. The few weeks before that I’ve started working out more consistently. This all came nearly two and a half months after I stopped upon returning from DC.

While it’d be easy for me to blame this on work, or school, or life, I realize that I had no one to blame but myself. You see, I was having one of my deep thinking moments on the elliptical today. This is when all my good thoughts happen. And in this good thinking, I realized how for the past three months, I haven’t committed to myself.

In fact, for the past three months, I’ve been so consumed with putting up with everything else going on in my life, that I haven’t had any time for myself.  Whether it be a hectic work week, ridiculous class projects, or my sad excuse for a personal life, I’ve spent the past few months allowing myself to get so caught up with everything going on in my life that I never had time for me.

I’ve spent too much time worrying about my career, stressing out over other people’s  incompetence or being stuck in situations making decisions that I know I should never need to make because I am worth more than that.

In thinking about this, I realized that I need time alone. I need time for myself. I need time for me.

The first step in my plan for doing this has already been started: focusing on my fitness and making it a priority in my life. I’m allowing myself to be selfish and care for myself instead of spending all of my time being so obsessed in nonissues.

The next? When I thought about it, it came naturally. I grew up in an untraditional manner without a real set of parents or a traditional sense of family. Attempting to conform to Christmas traditions when I’m not even religious in the first place? Seems relatively pointless. It doesn’t help that I quite frankly have little to no interest in seeing people that I don’t really want to be around. And for the people that I do want to be around, well things are too inaccessible. It’s not that I hate the people in my life (not all of them at least), it’s just that I need time for myself. And apparently I just needed some time to get to that conclusion.3 months of time.

I’ve had to mentally prepare myself for the “so what did you do over the holidays” when I get asked by colleagues, cohort-mates, or even friends / “family”.  Of course, because this happened on the elliptical, I’ve already thought things through. I’m planning on a prime rib dinner for 1 with a deliciously baked sweet potato. I’m going to finish my dinner and watch a movie. All by myself. And before that? Well, Christmas is on a Friday, and that means it’s chest day for me. So really… does it get much better than that?

Determination comes from within, but motivation doesn’t have to

One of my first blog posts when I started Fitting in Fitness was on the topic of commitment after a small shoulder injury. In that blog post, I deconstructed what determination and commitment meant to me. To recap:

Perhaps what is so striking about this word is its emphasis on persistence and persevering. In many ways, I see commitment as being result to determination–determination being the result of one’s free will, and commitment being a result of said free will. They are, however not the same thing.

Determination comes from within. Determination is your own free will. Your dedication towards a vision.

Commitment is scary. Commitment is ambiguous. Commitment is vague. Commitment requires courage.

I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine last night and she told me she needed motivation to get fit again. This triggered something in me and made me think about motivation. I talked about determination, and commitment as a result of determination… but I never thought about my motivators.

Then today, while I was on the elliptical after one of my birthday dinners (yes plural, yes I’m obnoxious), I was having a moment where I felt discouraged and tired. I use my elliptical time as catch up time for my own thoughts and to catch up with friends and so I started texting one of my best friends who’s joined me on this fitness adventure, Jerry. I complained about how I felt like I couldn’t do it. His response: “YOU GOT THIS. Halfway done? You’ve done it once. You can do it again.”

This made me think – #4weeks2shred is brutal, but I’ve totally survived it before. There’s no reason why i can’t do it again.

Reflecting on this entire process, I realized that there were multiple motivators going on in this situation. On one level, there’s the obvious friend providing support to me. On another level, I was also receiving motivation intrinsically from the fact that I’ve done cardio before, and I’ve done this plan before. Then of course, there’s the end goal that’s also serving as another motivation because 1) I want to succeed for myself but also 2) because I’ve written my goals down and shared them, and I didn’t want to let anyone down.

In that same period of time, a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a while reached out to me and asked me for fitness advice. I took some time to explain what macros were, and shared my favorite protein power with him. Even though this was something small, it felt good to be able to give that advice. It was validating.

In my counseling course, we talked about ethics and the idea of beneficence and nonmaleficence, the idea of doing good and not causing harm. While they seem similar and slightly redundant, doing one doesn’t necessarily mean the other. I found this to relate to the motivators that I had because I found motivators that were both intrinsic and extrinsic. This was because of the support system I created for myself and this blog itself.

In thinking about all of these various motivators, I came to realize that while motivation can come from within, it can also come from the outside. And more importantly, I came to realize that all of these different motivators can come together to help support your determination to form commitment. In other words:

Commitment = Determination + Motivation

Motivators exist in a lot of different places. It’s about finding what motivators work for you. In thinking back, I don’t think there’s a single type of motivation that works best for me. I think that the inherently cyclical nature of combined motivation has impacted me the most. I never thought about what kind of motivation I needed, but I just made sure I surrounded myself with whatever I could get.

And to my friends who read this and are looking for your motivation — I don’t know that any amount of motivation would have been helpful if it didn’t start with determination. Motivation is around me and I’m sure it’s around you; but if you don’t let it motivate you in the first place, then what good is any motivation at all? Believe in yourself and don’t find excuses. Instead, find yourself and prioritize yourself. You can fit in fitness, I know you can!

A moment of vulnerability & what I did about it…

Today was one of those days where I questioned if I could do it all… I somehow managed to let ridiculous amounts of work pile on towards the end of the day. As I sat on my bed, eating my steak and broccoli, I stared at the readings that still needed to be started on, watched the amount of email pile into my inbox, gazed at the meetings that kept getting added to my calendar, and thought about the to-do list slowly but surely expanding in my mind (yes all within the span of consuming a 1.2 lb ribeye), and realized that I failed to meal prep for the week.

After I quickly washed and threw some sweet potatoes into my still-preheating oven (shhhhh), I prepared a mixture of Hydracharge and Kaged BCAAs for my cardio session. For the first couple of minutes on the elliptical, I felt distracted from all the things I couldn’t stop thinking about. The stress was distracting me from something that was mindless. What became worse was when I realized my heart rate, for whatever reason, was being especially difficult and not increasing above 70% of my max heart rate, as prescribed by Kris in the 4weeks2shred program.  In that moment, it seemed like everything was against me.

As I continued to step, one of my “motivation” songs came up: Untouchable by Tritonal and Cash Cash

We been wondering in the dark… A million miles apart… Going nowhere… Believe that even if were lost… You know it won’t be long ‘til we get there

Spinning around no control… Burning down… I’m letting go… We been wondering in the dark… When no matter where are… Just remember

We rise and we fall We’ll stay We’ll stay untouchable

For whatever reason, I had one of those “crystalizing revelations” where I suddenly realized that I wasn’t being who I was. Everything that I do in my entire life has been based on the fact that I am not one who half-asses anything. I don’t ever give my 70, 80, or even my 90 percent. It’s always my 100 or 110.

I thought about Kris, and how he taught me face fear. I thought about how he always says “knowledge without mileage is bullshit.” I thought about how he said that if the things that we do in the gym were easy, everyone would have the body that they wanted.

Then I thought about transferable skillsets. I thought about the amazing profession that I work in, and how I tell my students to think about how they can apply the work that they do in their organizations to their professional lives. And I realized this was no different for me.

I realized that I HAD to give my 100% and to be focused on the task at hand. I realized that the dedication I put in the gym had to be realized in my life outside. I realized that where I want to be in life isn’t easy and that if I wanted to be where I want to be, it would be difficult. I realized in that moment that that would be ok.

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I successfully pushed out a full cardio session. I gave it my all and allowed myself to focus on what I was doing. I gave myself permission to forget about the other nuances in my life, and just give myself those remaining 30 minutes to focus on myself. I told myself that once I left, I would face fear, and to continue pushing through the hard times. And as for my heart rate? Well…

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145 is 72.5% of my max heart rate — I did it!

In thinking about all of these things, I became grateful. I thought about the friend that I could text when the elliptical got boring. The friend who would leave my sticky notes at work, just because they could tell I was having a bad day through a text. The friend who introduced something new into my life, and let me be spontaneous. The friend who goes to target with me, sometimes just because of how much of a smile it puts on my face to walk through each aisle.

I became grateful for the amazing people I’ve had in my life: the mentors that have challenged me every step of the way and the friends who’ve always been there to support me.

I do what I do in the gym for no one but myself. But when the rest of my life gets difficult, it’s pretty damn nice to have those people there for me. And when I need to escape, I’ll always have that time on the elliptical to just be me.

My Next Level: Goals and expectations

4% bf down. I’m officially putting this on paper.

Two week ago I registered for bodybuilding.com’s newest My Next Level Challenge sponsored by the one and only Kris Gethin and Kaged Muscle Supplements.

For the longest time I knew my goal was dropping more body fat. Today I checked my body fat percentage on my scale and I dropped two more pounds, while maintaining the same body fat percentage – likely water weight dropped from starting an anti-inflammatory diet.

I’m not sure if this is even realistic at this point, mostly because I’m measuring everything on a foot scale body fat meter… but I’m going to try my hardest. So far, I’m 1 week in and going strong. I haven’t started the 4weeks2shred program yet because I’m still “bulking up” from the last cut. We’ll see how this goes…

Tomrrow, the 4weeks2shred will start up in full force. I can’t wait and I’m super excited!

There’s some doubt in myself that exists in this process.. I’m going to be starting school and work. Time to not procrastinate and schedule gym time….

Two Months With an Apple Watch

I’ve had my Apple Watch for about two months at this point as a primary fitness tracker and I don’t ever plan on ever looking back. The Watch has transformed the way that I access and assess my fitness level on a day to day basis — and it’s a little addicting. The at-a-glance approach allows me to see the progress on my move, exercise, and stand goals (lower middle circular graph, outside in respectively)

IMG_3181The watch calculates your “exercising” time based off of your heart rate and movement and also provides information on how often you’re standing in a day. This is also translated and coded into the corresponding exercise in MyFitnessPal. For example if I log an elliptical exercise, it’ll be properly translated onto my MFP.
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A few other things that are really helpful for people who need doses of positive reinforcement is the use of badges. Badges are awarded based on all three types of activity (move, activity, and stand goals) and sometimes a combination of the three. There are  badges that are awarded when goals are met, when goals are met across time, and when new records are set.
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There’s even a list of achievements that you can use as a way to see the types of progress you are making.

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Apple’s attention to detail is pretty impressive. When you click on each badge your name and date is engraved on the back. Even though it’s a small gesture, it makes the digital badge seem all the more real.
IMG_3186The month and week view are also both excellent ways of keeping track of progress. I’ve been making good progress since I’m walking everywhere in DC… but I can imagine that this would be helpful for understanding my activity level when I’m back in San Diego and relying in cars.
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People have their opinions about Apple’s latest product. Being an early adopter of basically any given Apple technology — I’m a huge fan. I use the Watch on a daily basis to interact with my texts, calendar, and other notifications. The huge plus is knowing that whether I’m actively using my watch or not, it’s tracking my activity and helping me stay motivated!

Fitting in Fitness as an Intern

Working 80 hour weeks, boring grunt work, living off coffee and donut crumbs, and having a life that’s dictated by their bosses phone… these are just a couple of things that jump to my mind when I think of the word “intern”. Not much good comes from it. And trying to fit in fitness in that chaos… well that can be tough.

I’m super grateful to work at an association where none of those things actually apply to me.. except the coffee — and that’s by choice. Everyone knows not to talk to me until I’ve had my morning cup of joe. Jokes aside, fitting in fitness while starting my internship in a brand new city has proven to be a lot less difficult than I imagined. For one, I actually work decently regular hours now… and my life isn’t in total chaos. Because I’m simply focusing on the internship, I’m not thinking about course work, readings, or reflections outside of my work hours which has actually been a nice shift in pace.

That being said, a few things I picked up during my busy time of the year has proven to be helpful in figuring out how I work in my workouts and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Keep a calendar. The people who know me (and actually know me) know that my calendar runs my life… sometimes more than it should. If it’s not on my calendar it’s probably not happening. I make sure to keep a calendar of the important things in my life… and on my crazy weeks sometimes that means making sure I block off an hour for gym time.
  2. Meal Prep. Every Sunday I make time to make at least a majority (if not more) of my meals for the week. That way, when I run late in the morning or I’m just too tired to make something for the next day, I know that I can just pop a prepped lunch in my bag. This one helps save money too!
  3. Calendar your meal prep. Yes, I’m combining/repeating 1 & 2 because it’s that important. Cooking a huge amount of food on a Sunday night is the last thing anyone wants to do in their last few hours of rest before a week of work. I get it. I happen to love my job so this isn’t much of a problem… but if you work it in ahead of time then you’ll be ok.
  4. Make a commitment. When I pencil something in with my friends, I don’t bail. I don’t change my plans because I suddenly want to go to the museums. And if something does come up, I try to reschedule. Treat your gym time and meal prep time as a commitment to yourself — to your fitness. Commit and don’t bail.
  5. Be flexible. When I go to the gym, I am more than willing to shuffle around as it is. I know that as long as I get my workouts in… I’m happy. And since my weekends are cardio/active rest days, I’m never too concerned about having two consecutive workouts too close to each other. If I see two guys trying to work in on the bench, I’ll either find dumbells or switch a day at the gym. But never skip leg day.
  6. Remember it’s a lifestyle. Fitness isn’t another chore in your life. Many of you choose to brush your teeth, some of you make your bed, many of you take showers (I hope). Believe it or not, these things are all choices to decide to make. Choices that are a part of your lifestyle. Make it a part of who you are, not another thing on your checklist. See how the shift in mentality can change how you see fitness in your day to day life!

A lot of these things are just common sense for some people, but sometimes it takes hearing it from someone else to get it. Be committed to fitting in fitness and you’ll make it work. My friends and colleagues know that fitness is important to me, so I make it a point to remind them that I am my priority. If you have tips or other thoughts I’d love to hear them below!

Fitting in Fitness on an Intern Budget

Living in DC is by no means cheap. In fact, I think I’ve finally found one place that’s actually more expensive to live in over San Diego, not that it’s something I’m happy about. Throw on the fact that I’m in an internship that allows me to afford the basic necessities, well it’s easy to fitness slip behind. 

One thing that being on a budget definitely helps with — going out for drinks is definitely out of the question. While I try to avoid alcoholic beverages on the regular due to its effects on your fatty acid metabolism (and the fact that its basically pure calories with no macronutrient benefit), it becomes even more of an incentive to not go out when drinks are 10-15 dollars a pop. 

When it comes to my day to day meals, I’ve become grateful to be an owner of a Costco card. I’ve found that my Costco card allows me to purchase giant bags of frozen broccoli for only a few dollars. This is my primary source of vegetables, and complex carbs when I’m having a lower carb day.

In fact, the only thing that adds substantial cuts to my budget are my supplements and meat related foods. I’ve found that by purchasing lean meats in bulk at Costco, I’ve been able to save pretty tremendously. I also purchase rotisserie chickens en mass that are only 5 dollars each – a quick and easy way to get lean protein into my diet.

For my supplements, I’ve reduced to a bare minimum. My pre-workout was a buy-one, get-one deal. My post workout was on sale. My current protein powder is by MusclePharm which is being sold in 5 lb tubs at Costco. This has allowed me to reduce my spending on supplements.

I am using MyFitnessPal to make sure that my macronutrient needs are being met and that I’m watching my day to day food intake since it becomes so easy to over eat carbs when your food is largely prepared.

While i will fully own up to the fact that this probably isn’t the healthiest way, I also don’t have the money to afford fresh groceries, a rare commodity in a city like DC. I’m grateful I’m able to keep meeting my macros and eat delicious foods. I seem to be getting consistent results so I definitely can’t complain!