I tried SPIN for the first time and here’s what I thought of it.

Walking towards the studio, I feel pangs of excitement and nervousness. I guess that’s normal when you’re trying something new. Especially if you’re not sure you’ll make it out alive.

I was invited to try spin for the first time with a friend. I know it’s healthy to get out there and try new things, so I agreed.

Now I know what you’re thinking : What’s so scary Jen? Don’t you lift weights? This class should be a breeze!

Spin is so different though. Spin is endurance. Coordination. And a whole lot of legs. All of which are not my strong suit.

But in the spirit of challenging myself, I found myself in the studio and ready to make an attempt. My friend walked me through the basics, and the instructor came over before the class started to give me a few tips.

Because we are all in control of our own bike and resistance settings, the class is simply as hard or as easy as you want it to be.

I was in the back of three rows, which calmed my nerves because I knew I wouldn’t be seen. Then they dimmed the lights and I really knew I wouldn’t be seen. I thought to myself this class is an anxious person’s dream! I’m practically invisible back here! 

Then the pumped up dance music came on – and I was like yeah! This is my jam!

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You know what it felt like?

It’s reminiscent of the moment you are walking into the club, when the music is pumping and the lighting is just right. Only instead of alcohol, everyone’s drinking aminos. And instead of dancing, everyone is working their butts off (my kind of Saturday night!).

Pedaling to the beat of the music, we went up and down and imaginary trail that albeit had some pretty steep hills. But I smiled the whole time. The instructor was invested and encouraging. The other spinners cheered when they felt challenged.

The environment was so different than from that of any gym I’ve been to. It was energetic, electric, and best of all…. contagious.

Not only did I survive, but I will also be back again.

I would recommend spin to anyone who:

  • enjoys being encouraged during a workout
  • is looking for a high energy fitness atmosphere
  • want to get high on endorphins and doesn’t mind a sore butt

Thanks for reading!

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Strong to the Finish Challenge – Week 3

I was wondering when this challenge would really start to feel like a challenge, and my question was answered this week.

The week started off as it usually would, me embracing the low-carb diet, high-intensity workout life. Then on Saturday, it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. I was tired, cranky, and hella irritable. Not only was I craving foods that are way out of my diet plan, but I also felt like I just wanted food I am straight up allergic to.

Most days I don’t think about it, but some days I resent the various food sensitivities I have developed over the last year. I can’t have cheesecake, or ice cream, or a big bowl of mashed potatoes. I guess it all just started weighing on me, mounting and manifesting itself into the most supreme frustration.

It was a bad day for that to happen, as that evening happened to be my Mom’s birthday party. While everyone else was eating hamburgers and cake, I had tofu dogs without the bun and salad. And that has nothing to do with my diet. It’s just the fact that I can’t eat buns, cakes, and some sauces generally because I will likely have a reaction. Suffice it to say it was just plain tough.

As a result of all this: On Sunday and Monday, I fell off the wagon, so to speak. I am still in many ways in the experimental stage figuring out which foods my body is good with, and which ones my body is not. Although I didn’t eat anything classified as “high calorie” I did eat foods that may have (some of which actually did) aggravate my food sensitivities. This can be anything as simple as a spice blend yet to be tested. Well, the result? Crazy bloating, and just a general feeling of yuck.
I can’t look back and say I regret it. I kinda just look at this past weekend and think that I guess it was just something I needed to go through, you know, so I could figure out what not to do.
It could have been the inflammation, it could have been the stress, it could have simply been that I didn’t meet enough of a deficit, but either way the scale didn’t move in week 3. However, I’m happy to say I am 110% back on track today.

Another change I’ve made for this week is that I’ve started counting calories. I have been really hesitant to do so because I am, in general, hesitant to make any changes to my diet that I don’t see as ‘doable’ long term. But the more I think about this challenge, the better I want to do in it. And the more motivated I become to absolutely smash it and attain my goal, the more I am willing to step outside of the box. This is just going to be one extra tool I have for the next 5 weeks to help me meet my goal. I will do whatever it takes to bring this body out and show my absolute best. I’m doing this. I’m giving it my all!

As usual here’s a peek at some of my better choices this week:  
  

Thank you so much for reading this and letting me share this journey with all of you. I can’t wait to look back on all of this and say “I did it” !

Check-in/ October 21tst 2015

Hey everyone! I’m a little late posting my October progress but here is me 🙂

I aim for mid-month but life does get in the way sometimes!

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I’ve been dieting for the last 3 weeks or so, but I haven’t seen any leaning out. I was definitely frustrated initially. Ugh. You guys know how it is. I just have to hang in there! I’ve been having major stomach issues for the last few months and that has definitely affected me as well.

After thanksgiving dinner, I bloated up like I was 9 months pregnant! And I didn’t even eat until I felt super full! But I dealt with bloating for over a week. And just a general feeling of being unwell. I’m sticking with my workouts and I’m sticking with my eating. And any week now I’ll pull through!

It’s so easy to go to a place where we hate our bodies, especially when we work so hard for one thing and it doesn’t work. But I will continue to love myself towards my goals.

Improvements: My butt is looking better than ever! I’m lucky; my genetics do allow some of my fat to magically float there when I’m a few pounds extra!

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As my boyfriend says: “look at those dimensions!”

Current Focus: My current focus is on leaning out and building curves. Big legs and big shoulders. If you aren’t born with it, build it!

Eating: My eating has been pretty clean for the last few weeks! I’ve been restricting carbs throughout the day and focusing on having them more during breakfast when I need the energy!

Feeling like: I’m overcoming. I weigh the most I have ever been. I don’t look overweight, but it plays games with your head. I have struggled. But I have also realized that my muscle definition is not what makes me beautiful. My determination and work ethic do. And I never quit 🙂

What is so beautiful about the fitness journey is that I have the privilege of setting and resetting my goals. Overall, I look forward to getting better every day, in one way or another. I would love to be nice and lean over the holidays. I want to show people that it’s not impossible to be lean over the holidays. But that’s a post for another day 🙂 !

Thanks for reading!

Back to Basics Back Workout

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since I posted a workout so today I thought: hey why not?

Today my partner and I decided to switch things up for our back workout. We called this one a “back to basics” workout because we kept the movements simple & heavy.

I really felt this one. The way this workout starts off is brutal. Brutally awesome. If you’re dying for a good back workout, try this one!

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Workout –

  • Rack Pulls – 1-inch below the knee (squeeze traps on the lockout)
  • Bent over barbell rows 
  • Neutral Grip Lat Pulldowns
  • Dumbell Shrugs
  • Cable Pullovers 

 

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(Pulldowns  – positioned on the knees for full stretch)

The other good thing about this workout was that for back day, it was a quick one. We don’t always have the luxury of time. Keep all of the sets heavy. I’m definitely looking forward to building this back up over the next year – I need more lower back strength and I would love to gain some width in my lats.

Have a great week everyone!

Check-in – September 2015

Well, it looks like it’s that time again!

Mid-month check-in time that is.

 

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Abs on hiatus 

 

Improvements: I’m proud of the serious gains I’ve made in the last couple months. I think I owe a lot of that momentum to eating more and taking my nutrition more seriously. My shoulders are becoming more defined, and my legs are coming along just as I had hoped!

Current Focus: Current focus has switched from legs in general to building my quads. I would mostly like to go back to focusing on upper body for a while – wider lats and bigger shoulders!

Eating: It’s been such a great bulk over the last couple of months; like I said I think I owe the strides I’ve made mostly to that. My boyfriend and I are taking a trip to Vegas at the end of next month and I want to roll in looking lean, so I’m doing a mini-cut for the next 6 weeks to start leaning out. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my abs, I can’t wait to say hello to those again!

Feeling like: I’m proud of myself. I’ve been really consistent this last year despite everything. Despite school, work, and any personal issues I’ve encountered I always made it to the gym. Not only did I make it there, but when I showed up I gave it my all. I know incredible things are on the horizon for the next year.

How to Get Over Those Gym Newbie Jitters

Anybody who has ever started out at the gym was once a newbie and knows what being new to the gym is all about. It can be nerve wracking at first – feeling like your every move is being watched and judged in a place where you know the chances of failing are great.

I started out just like that – I used to hang around in the cardio area until the free weights looked empty enough for me to sneak in unnoticed…

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Me at the gym this morning, doing my thing

Now, I walk in with a plan and an agenda, and I do what I do without ever even considering what another person might be thinking about me. Of course this took time. I persisted until I made it, and you will too.

Why? Because moving past this phase is important for your physical and mental strength; it’s just another obstacle to overcome. Here are my tips for getting over those gym newbie jitters.

  1. Know that we all started somewhere. The biggest men and women in the gym all started where you are now, which is as a beginner. We’ve all been there. It is highly doubtful that having been there these people will be judging you harshly. If they are, they are probably big jerks anyways and you shouldn’t care what they think.
  2. Accept that you are learning, and welcome constructive criticism. On many occasions I had people come up to me in the gym and tell me how I might be able to do things better. Their advice helped me, and therefore made me stronger. Don’t be afraid of accepting knowledge from people who know more than you!
  3. You might think that everyone is looking at you, but they’re not. I know it feels like the spotlight is on you, but most gym goers are paying attention to their own workouts. They are minding their own business, as they should be! That’s what they’ve shown up for. If someone is watching you too closely, well I guess they just think you’re cute?
  4. Believe in yourself. A big part of your fitness journey is about building confidence. And how do you build confidence? By getting out of your comfort zone! Do it, even though it’s scary. I promise that it gets a little better each time, and you will get a little better each time.

Thanks for reading! I hope it was some help to you wonderful newbies out there. You’re doing amazing, keep going!

Should you Start Doing Front Squats?

Hello Strong Babes!

I have been struggling hard for the last year to grow these legs, but they are crazy stubborn, and therefore still my weakest point. Well this week I added a new addition to my leg workouts, and I think it’s going to be a game-changer: Front Squats. 

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Check out these legs today!

Regular squats are a must-do for leg-day champs. The front squat variation has the weight placed on the shoulders – this forces the quads to do more of the work. This is totally one of those exercises that totally exhausted my central nervous system. I love the intensity and quad activation this variation brings!

Changing up your routine can be good for your body and your mind. Yes- it feels good to mix it up sometimes!

Thinking of trying something new? Try something that surprises your body – it might inspire you to go into overdrive and work that leg-day extra hard.

I followed the front squats with:

  • back or ‘regular’ squats
  • stiff-legged deadlifts
  • calf extension

Now that I’m incorporating these in on leg day, I can’t wait to see my progress a few weeks down the road!

Have you ever done front squats before? What did you think of this variation? Let me know!

Straightforward Shoulder Workout

I’ve been readjusting my focus for development towards different parts of my body every couple of months. It’s important to assess what needs tweaking, perfecting, or even just extra attention every once in a while.

Right now, I’m really into building round, strong shoulders! Maybe it’s just summer calling me, but these hot weather tanks deserve some beautifully capped shoulders. If you are a beginner, here’s a routine that you can give a shot! If you’re more advanced, I hope you’ll take some inspiration to change things up.

 

So check it out, here’s my shoulder workout for gorgeous well-rounded shoulders!

  • Front Delt Raises – 4 x 10
  • Standing Shoulder Press – 4 x 10
  • Bent Over Rear Lateral Raises – 4 x 10
  • Rear Pec Deck – 4 x 10
  • Side Lateral Raise – 4 x 10
  • Shoulder Shrugs – drop set to failure

Of course, you can play around with the sets and reps. I find for me personally, I get the best results in my shoulders doing higher reps and really exhausting my muscles.

And of course – don’t forget to EAT if you want to GROW!

Happy Lifting!