How to Build your Butt!

The women in my family are blessed with great bum genetics. But last year, after going through some stressful and unfortunate circumstances, I was down to 102 lbs and struggling. Truthfully, I didn’t want anybody checking out my backside; I was ashamed because I felt like I was simply wasting away. I wanted to gain weight, but I wanted to do it the healthy way.

For the last year and a half, I have been determined to be the best I can be; mind, body, and soul. And butt. Here are my tips for building a bigger, better butt!

My butt progress, approximately one year between photos 

SQUATS are obviously monumentally important if this is your goal. The big thing here is proper form and squeeze at the top. Go below parallel. Be consistent with your squats, and try to increase weight every couple of weeks. The heavier the squat, the bigger your butt will grow to compensate and support you.

GLUTE BRIDGES are my all-time favorite booty exercise. Again, don’t forget to squeeze at the top! I do these with my back against some kind of support, usually a bench. Throw a barbell across your hips and thrust! Aim for 8-10 reps, 4 sets.

CLAMSHELL EXERCISE really helped me shape those side glutes. This link explains proper form. I’ve actually never used a band; I typically place a plate weight on my outer knee during the reps; increase the weight and you increase the difficulty of this exercise!

I truly dislike LUNGES, but I can’t give them up because man do they work. What’s great about lunges is you can do them anywhere. I grab a couple of 10lb Dumbbells for each hand during my lunges. On the days when I want to focus more on my quads, I do raptor lunges, which are lunges with a shorter stride.

Stuck with it! Progress will happen slowly but surely. I can’t wait to compare pictures another year from now!

Cheers!

The Number One Reason WHY Your Dreams are NOT Coming True

I’ve always been drawn to understanding people. What I’m really interested in is what drives people, what motivates them. What makes us different? What separates the people who are just going through the motions in life from those who are consciously being and growing? Why are some people successful, and some aren’t?

Believing in yourself is a big player here. Unless you truly believe that your goal is attainable, you won’t even try. Why would you? No one in their right mind would put effort into something they were sure wasn’t going to work. The thing is, we are always so “sure” without being sure. We are quick to dismiss ourselves as not good enough, or even quicker to dismiss it as a problem with our “situation”. We blame the external world, we feel held back, we say “I would do it but…”.

 

 

This is where the truth comes out. There is something at play here that is much bigger than just believing. Before we can believe, we have to let go of the fear that holds us back. Fear of failing, fear of falling, fear that it won’t work out. Fear is paralyzing.

Take a moment to think about something you wish you would have done but were too afraid.

Think about what would have happened if you had done it.

I can’t even begin to list the amazing things I would have done in life if I hadn’t let fear hold me back. I would have jumped at every opportunity that came along! Instead, I shied away. I was a “can’t” person.

Sometimes my “can’ts” were about me. I’m not skilled enough, I’m not capable, it will never work out. I blamed anything else. I don’t have enough support, it’s not the right time, this is a stupid idea. It’s all garbage. I was afraid. I was worried that it wouldn’t work out and I would look like a fool.

More than that, I was worried that it would.

 

Most people are so committed to being comfortable that the idea of actually being successful makes us uneasy. What if it does work out? What if I do make it? What if my relationship/new business/academic venture/travel plans actually work out?

We never expect for good things to happen to us, but we always expect the bad. When the bad comes, we say “that’s life”. When the good comes, we say “this isn’t meant for me” and we run.

Don’t be afraid. If by chance you fail, it means you’re trying, your playing the game. The only way to win the game is to play. Failure is not the opposite of success, but rather a part of the journey towards it.

Plus, I really think if you try, you just might surprise yourself.

I think you can do it; that thing that you are so afraid of.

And don’t say you aren’t scared, you are scared. It’s scary.

The majority of people make decisions based on fear every single day. It’s normal, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. Stop holding yourself back from that thing that is meant and waiting for you.

You deserve happiness and you deserve success. You are worthy. There is nothing to be afraid of but fear itself.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” – Marianne Williamson

How to Create Your Dream Core

Defined abdominals aren’t for everyone, you either want them or you don’t. If you DO want them, this post is for you!

Creating a strong core was something I was initially drawn to in fitness – and initially I worked them out during almost every workout. Not only us a stable core important for fitness in general, but I love the way a strong core makes me feel. It took about a year to get where I wanted to be, but my hard work did pay off!

 Current ab situation, a little less lean than usual nut they’re under there!

Abs: The world doesn’t begin and end with them but damn, they are fun.

Here are a few tips to achieving a more defined core:

1. Reduce body fat. Yup. This is why they say “abs are made in the kitchen”. Because you can have great abs, but typically the ultimate goal is usually to have all that hard work become visible. Reducing body fat isn’t easy – it takes a lot of hard work, determination, and usually a lot of meal planning.

2. Be consistent. Whatever your goal is, you’ve got to consciously work on it. If you really want those abs, be consistent in setting time aside to work them out exclusively – at least 2-4 times per week. Also, when it comes to training don’t be afraid to mix it up! If you continue to do the same boring old ab routine, you will be way less inclined to keep up with it. Lastly, don’t forget to engage your core during the rest of your workout routine.

3. Slow movements. What this really comes down to is engaging your core. You want to do slow, controlled movements to get the most out of your workout. Personally, keeping this in mind was a game changer for me. I highly recommend slowing down and really contracting your ab muscles when working them out.

Try adding this quick ab workout onto the end of your routine: 

  • 15 sit-ups
  • 15 leg raises
  • 15 heel touches
  • 15 boat pose

Good luck on getting those abs girl, and all those other goals too.

Tips for Staying Healthy on Vacation

Hey everyone!

I just had the pleasure of taking a trip to Mexico for my big sister’s wedding, which was absolutely phenomenal.

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Me, enjoying the last day on the beach!

Since hopping on the wellness train, I hadn’t yet taken a vacation like this. All-inclusive resorts are amazing, but they also create certain conditions in which it’s easy to let your healthy habits go right out the window! So in this post, I would like to share with you just a couple tips for keeping on track on your vacation. And I want you, the reader, to know that these tips will not get in the way of fun on your vacation! In fact, they are more likely to to actually enhance your resort vacation experience.

  1. I know you wanna look cute in your ‘kini, but I advise eating breakfast within half an hour of waking up on and off vacation. It is SO important to eat and keep your metabolism going! Don’t be relying on those sugary blended drinks to give you the energy you need to enjoy your vacay.
  2. Give yourself a sand scrub! Not only is it good for your skin, but it also allows you to take a moment to work on your self-care; that means doing something that is solely for you and your well-being. Truly, this is a practice that we should be integrating into our lives daily. But if it isn’t common practice for you yet, integrating this into your resort vacation experience is a great way to start!
  3. Give the resort gym a try. I know what you’re thinking! I thought I might struggle with this too, but was surprised when I didn’t. Around midday when I needed a break from the sun, I would wander into the gym for a super quick workout – I’m talking like 30-45 minutes only. I found the afternoon to be the best time because that’s when the facility was empty, so I could get through my workout quickly. Staying in this routine also helped me keep my morning drinks in check – because I was set on making it for my quick little workout I didn’t get carried away with the pina coladas too early in the day! Plus when I returned to the beach afterwards, I was happy, pumped, and feeling beautiful!
  4. Take a moment to breathe/spend some time alone. We were with a group of 25 people and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but taking a moment just to clear my mind really helped me center myself. This sounds so simple and silly, but being in the moment is definitely more difficult in practice!
  5. Go ahead and eat dessert. Bet you can’t believe I said it. You’re on vacation! You don’t have to demolish the whole dessert buffet, but if you do who cares. Treat yourself. Crazy restrictions will cause you to binge, and in the end will affect you worse than any treat you allow yourself here and there.

IMG_5618My typical breakfast on vacation; a veggie omelette under a mountain of guacamole and salsaIMG_5453

The best part about making my wellness a priority while on vacation was how good I felt waking up every morning. I also found I had a ton more energy than on previous resort vacations. This wellness journey is so much more about feeling good than looking good.

Happy vacationing my friends!

June 2015 Check-in

Hey Everyone!

It’s time for my very first mid-month check-in! Being that this is the first month, my check in is a little late. Future check-ins will be as close to the 15th as possible. Nevertheless, here it is!

IMG_4849 (2)Improvements: Obliques are looking solid, upper body is getting thicker.

Current Focus: On my legs, which have been very stubborn to grow! Focusing on quad growth and booty gains.

Eating: Following the 80/20 rule and taking the 20 part very seriously. Donuts are a part of my balanced lifestyle. Lack of proper prepping has lead me to drink one too many protein shakes, and actual food is always preferred. Will step up my snack game and include those in my next food prep!

Feeling like: I’m not at my leanest and meanest, but I feel good. I leave for a week vacation in Mexico tomorrow and although I love the idea of having ripped abs in my bathing suit, I also like the idea of maintaining the strength that I have. Food= growth, and growing is more important right now. I can say for sure that this is the happiest I have ever been with my body. But I also know what it’s capable of, and I can’t wait to take it further. I especially cannot wait to see leg comparison pics a couple of months down the road.

Personal Training: A Recount of my Experience

I chugged my redbull and squeezed the can with my hand, lazily tossing it into the garbage can outside the gym. I was arriving to meet with my trainer for the first time. When I got in, we said a quick hello and he lead me into a back office. I evaluated him from my chair across the desk from him. He asked me questions about my fitness goals and current routines. I kept thinking about how young he was. I wondered what someone with such limited experience could possibly teach me. I was also nervous as hell. Anxiety-ridden, exhausted from a long day of work, going through a horrific breakup, and that redbull I just crushed was not helping me.

He checked my heart rate. It was apparently not good. He said “I don’t know if we can start today”. “You don’t understand, this is why I am here today. I’m just going through a rough time… and I need to do this”, I said shaking. He took the bait. Our first workout together was nothing mind-blowingly phenomenal, but I felt that he would be able to teach me some things that would take me further than I could go on my own at this point. At the end, we sat on the mats stretching out. He asked if I wanted to move forward in training with him. My response was to ask him he if wanted to train me. “I’m emotional”, I warned “and some days I’m going to come in here going crazy and you are going to have to deal with that”. That’s honestly where I was at the time – feeling lost and truly, kind of unstable. With cool confidence he assured me he could handle it.

What I didn’t know is that he didn’t actually mean he could handle it. What he meant was that he wasn’t going to take it. There were countless sessions to come where I would show up all emotional, and my trainer would simply say that he didn’t want to hear it, and that I was there to work. For some of you, this might sound cruel. For me, it was a technique that actually worked. It changed the way I worked out in the gym. It forced me to live in a different place in my mind during my workouts. It made me realize that no matter what craziness I had going on in my life, that the gym could be a place of solace.

Over time I began to realize that although our personalities were opposite, they were also complimentary. I was a whiner, complainer, excuse maker. But my trainer never let me say “I can’t”. He taught me that I needed to give up a certain amount of control in my life and I had to accept that. I couldn’t change other people or have control over every situation, but I have control over myself. Because I realized that I have control over myself, I was able to do things I never thought I physically or mentally could before.

He surprised me because for a young guy, because he really had a great knowledge-base, enthusiasm, and passion for what he was doing. He didn’t just tell me what to do, he told me why I was doing it. He pushed me hard in the gym and the results showed. He held me accountable for what I said I would do, but always gave me the credit for the work I did. I’m not saying he was perfect and never pissed me off. I’m not saying that he didn’t work me out so hard that I cried (because he did – haha). I’m saying that he helped me get results. Those results gave me confidence; I realized that if I really set my mind to something and worked hard, I could make it real.

When my training ended it was so anticlimactic. I was expecting some big, monumental, life-changing workout followed by a screen shot of that one single tear dropping from my eye as I left the gym. But it was just like any other ordinary workout. This is, of course, because that was only just the beginning. Over the next couple months my own passion and enthusiasm would send me on a journey of pursuing new skills and knowledge that would allow me to take my fitness routine to the next level.

One of my big goals in training was to be able to do pull-ups. I was naive when I started; I didn’t realize how much was going to be involved in making this happen. So, this wasn’t something I was able to accomplish during my training. But just because that phase was over didn’t mean I was going to quit; I kept working on it. A couple of months later, my trainer saw me at the pull-up bar. I saw him at a distance, and with a smile on my face I jumped and made six pull-ups look easy. He came over and congratulated me on my success, and I said “you don’t know how hard I’ve worked for this” ; his response was “yes I do”.

Well, I guess he was right.

 

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My before and after training comparison.

 

I would recommend training to any gym newbie if it is a financial possibility. I learned a lot, not only about working out but also about myself. It was a huge confidence boost and now I don’t think twice about joining the big boys on the heavy end of the dumbells. I really lucked out because I had a trainer who I was able to level with; someone who I wasn’t afraid to fail and fall in front of. So if you are going to find a trainer, find one that is complimentary to you who will make it their purpose to pull you out of your comfort zone and make you WORK. It was an investment I won’t ever regret.