The New Addition… Yoga.

Before my husband deployed to Afghanistan, which was recently, I told myself that I would start taking yoga at least once a week. I had wanted to give it a try to supplement my weight training. Everyone has their own reasons for taking yoga, that’s why there’s so many different forms of it. But for me, I really just wanted a forced opportunity to get some deep stretching in, some time to connect my mind with my body, get my blood flowing on the weekends, and some time to relax and somewhat meditate. I think I have found that in my vinyasa flow class.

I’ve pretty much always been opposed to yoga because I thought it was lame and boring. But then again, I had never taken an actual class. Maybe I took one or two in college, but I had primarily tried “getting into yoga” by following along with at-home videos. Yeah, that wasn’t enough to keep my attention. Recently, my dear friend and client took me to her hot yoga class. Mind you, this was the first time I had done ANY yoga for years, and the first time I had taken hot yoga…period. Like whoa. 90 minutes of yoga in a room set to 109 degrees… I survived. I think I even thrived! So that was the kicking off point, and ever since then I’ve been attending a yoga class every weekend.

I eased into it by taking a Gentle Yoga class and have moved on to the Vinyasa Flow class. I actually really like it! It’s challenging and nothing like what I do during the week (heavy weight training), so it’s a fun little addition to my training. Everyone in the class has different levels of comfort with different poses, so there isn’t an intimidating vibe at all. Also, the instructors tend to say “this is YOUR practice,” insinuating that there is no pressure here. You do what you can do at this moment in time.

If you’re interested in reading a little bit more about starting yoga, Jen Comas Keck wrote a great blog post back in April titled “You Can’t Be Good at Yoga, and Other Things You Should Know Before Starting Your Practice.” This post of hers was sort of the nail in the coffin for me. And look at me now! Every weekend! Pigs must be flying somewhere…

iStockphoto.com

iStockphoto.com

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by what you think yoga might be like…and what the students or teachers will be like. Pssst…not everyone in there will look like a Maxim model in yoga pants. I swear. Not everyone will have the flexibility of a contortionist in Cirque du Soleil. You just go in there…do what your body will happily allow you to do…ignore everyone but the instructor…and enjoy your practice.

Contortionist, posed in studio, ca. 1880.

Contortionist, posed in studio, ca. 1880.

I hope this post has inspired some of you to step out of your comfort zones and try something new. While trying new things can be scary at first, you may find that these things add more value and richness to your life. You never know until you try.

Lara Croft: Where Your Guns At? (Not the pistols…the other ones!)

This past Christmas I gathered a bunch of family members to go in with me on a brand new PS4 for my husband. Unfortunately, the poor man hasn’t been able to play it yet because he’s been so busy with work, and frankly, there just aren’t many good games out for this system yet. Well, he had a GameStop gift card that he wanted to use up, so we’ve been making periodic trips to the store to see what’s new. This past weekend we were perusing the shelves at GameStop and there wasn’t anything out yet that he was really interested in playing. He checked a website for some reviews and saw that the newest Tomb Raider was supposedly out and was getting great reviews! So he asked the lady behind the counter and BAM! They had just ONE copy left! We have always liked Tomb Raider, so he decided to snag it.

Tomb Raider PS4

So what’s the point of this post? Well, I’ve got a little bone to pick with the creators of this game… If Lara Croft is sooo tough and strong (for example; pulls herself up and over ledges and such…) how come she doesn’t have an inkling of MUSCLE TONE?! I’ve always been a fan of strong female characters, but I’m often disappointed in how they are portrayed. Realistically, these women would be a little more…what’s the word? Jacked? I’m gonna lay off Tomb Raider for a moment to drive my point a little deeper. Have you seen the actress who is going to play Wonder Woman in the new Batman-Superman movie? Her name is Gal Gadot and she is certainly a very beautiful woman. But again, where’s the muscle? Apparently she’s in a “very serious training regime,” but I’m not convinced that she’s going to have added a striking amount of mass within a year. Why wouldn’t they just pick a woman who already has something to work with? Why are these heroic women quite often portrayed as meek and weak girls?

With the growth of Crossfit and the ever-greater respect for weight lifting (especially for women), I think the general public is beginning to accept slightly more muscular women more now than ever before. It seems about time that these nerdy game developers and Marvel comic designers get their acts together and start portraying these women in a more realistic way and little less like waifs! Giving these heroines a little deltoid cap and a hint of a bicep won’t hurt anybody and might actually teach someone that hey, it’s okay to have a little bit of muscle tone. There’s just something odd about me, a real-life human, looking more like a superhero than the actual superheroes do. Rant over.

The Fine Line Between Being Lazy and Knowing When to Rest

Just Do It TomorrowThis morning I woke up feeling extra tired and uncomfortable. Abdominal cramping and lower back aches were getting to me and my mind felt scattered and unmotivated. Inevitably, my “friend” was making her monthly visit. The first day is always the worst and I know that it will usually be a weak day in the gym, so today I decided to forgo it.

Know thyself

I know that a day like today could actually be harmful for me (especially when heavy deadlifts are on the menu). Sometimes it’s just better to take an extra day off or even go really light rather than push through it. If you’re a professional athlete or preparing for something, then maybe you’d be better served by getting your training in. But if you’re in my shoes, chances are you’d tweak your neck or back and be out of the gym for a week. No thank you!

Ignore the fitspo that tells you you’re “weak” for not going to the gym when you feel like utter crap. Bitch. Come squeeze my bicep. THEN call me weak. Yes, there can be a fine line between laziness and just instinctively knowing when you need to rest, but if it’s the first day of your “friend” you most certainly have my permission to take it easy. Tomorrow is a new day and I know I will be feeling much better. My workout can wait until then.

On a side note: I am no longer working with my coach. My original plan was to work with them through December and that’s what I did. I am continuing to follow my prescribed program but I am just being a tiny bit more lenient with myself. So far, so good! Still dropping fat and getting compliments from people at the gym! That’s always fun, ain’t it? Overall, I’m soooooo so happy I worked with Lean Bodies Consulting. I really learned a lot about myself through my experience training with them. I loved my nutrition plan and my training programs have been so much fun, however, I feel like I’m in a good place to take the reigns now and manipulate my base program as needed going forward.

AND I have officially hit a pull-up personal record! Maybe it’s because I’ve lost a few pounds? Who knows. But for the last two weeks I’ve done a set of 10 neutral grip pull-ups. Even my husband is impressed! And that’s only set one! The second set is usually 8 pull-ups and then it gradually decreases from there. Hey, if I can’t pat myself on my back on my own blog, where else can I do it?

It’s the Holidays and You’re On a Diet. Now what?

So it’s the holidays and you’ve been dieting your little butt off (literally) up until now. How do you handle this time of year without reversing all of your hard work? Over the last few months while working with my coach, I have reeeally learned about balance and what that really means when you’re trying to live a fit and lean life. I’m going to share with you a few tips that you may not have heard and a little bit of what I have learned myself.

1. Enjoy your holidays! Don’t you daaaare bring your tupperware filled with chicken and brown rice to your one and only Christmas dinner with your family. Especially if you’re not preparing for some competition or photo shoot. Christmas only comes once a year and when you’re 97 and lying on your deathbed, do you want to look back at your life and think “I really should have had that slice of pecan pie on Christmas of 2013…” No. I didn’t think so.

2. But reign it in. If you overindulge at 2-3 holiday parties a week during the month of December and you’re stuffing your face with Christmas cookies at home, you’re going to have to expect a little bit of a reversal in your progress. I’m not saying that overindulging during the holidays is “bad” per se’, but it’s not going to help you move forward with your progress. My tip: choose one or two events to really indulge in and keep your diet tight for the rest of the month. Eat a big meal before you head to your party. Once there, if you’re still hungry, stick to the proteins and veggies, go light on the alcohol (especially that spiked Eggnog!), and avert your eyes from the desserts. Okay, maybe just one….a little one…. But most importantly, remember why you’re at the event. You’re there to share in the holidays with friends and family, not just to pig out on goodies.

3. Don’t be so restrictive! My current diet is actually pretty high in calories and outside of my normal amount of protein, I’m also eating a lot of carbs and fats. I truly think this is helping to keep any cravings at bay and I’m not quite as tempted to indulge in Christmas goodies. If you feel deprived on a regular basis then you might feel tempted to cheat on a regular basis. Design your normal diet around foods you enjoy. This way, when you see that yummy plate of stuffing you don’t get TOO excited about it and just allow yourself one normal serving.

Don't Be a Little Piggy.

Don’t Be a Little Piggy.

4. Weigh yourself. I’m not generally a strong proponent of weighing yourself frequently, but I think that during the holidays a scale can be a good tool to help keep you in check. If you’re weighing yourself regularly and you see that your weight is beginning to creep up and it’s staying up, then it might be time to get your diet a little more under control. Just sayin’…

5. Don’t let one holiday meal creep into the next day…and the day after that…and the day after that… This part can be the hardest. You think you’re doing good. You have fun on Thanksgiving or Christmas and then say to yourself “Well, that was that! And I’m satisfied!” But then…the next day…there are leftovers gazing back at you from the fridge. There’s half a pie sitting on your kitchen counter covered simply by a sheet of aluminum foil, which can easily be shifted away. So you say “meh, a little sliver of pie won’t hurt anyone!” And you cut yourself a little piece. Then for lunch you might think “oh, well, I’ll just substitute my baked sweet potatoes for stuffing! And then I’ll have a little cranberry sauce on the side…oh, and some mashed potatoes too..don’t want them to go bad and all!” This is an example of one fun meal slipping into the next day and possibly the day after that. The ideal plan is to enjoy yourself on Christmas, even if it’s an all day smorgasbord! But the next day, just hop back on your normal diet or plan. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s for the best. Trust me.

So I hope those tips help. I have to remind myself of these things too. I really love food. I love it a lot. But as a relatively small person, I only get to eat so much of it. Especially if it’s really dense in calories. That’s the luck of the draw, I guess. Good luck to those of you trying to get through these holidays without packing on the pounds! It’s a minefield out there this time of year!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Perhaps you have noticed a few changes to the blog…

If you haven’t noticed…well, there have been changes to the blog…

Let’s discuss.

1. It’s jessicastuch.com, bitches. Why? Because you never know who you’re going to be.

And frankly, I can’t be bothered to buy my name from someone else. How silly would that be?

2. The title is no longer “Curl Like a Girl.” Why? Because curls make up a minuscule amount of my workouts (and really, they should make up a minuscule amount of your workouts too). I have two bicep exercises a week and that’s it. The new title, as you can see, is She-Lifts. I had been considering a name change for a long time but just couldn’t think of what I wanted. Finally, this name mysteriously came to me as I was sleeping. You know it has to be the amazing answer you’ve been looking for if it came to you while you were sleeping! AND it kind of has a double-meaning, which I’m not going to go into because I can’t seem to put it into words without sounding like an absolute idiot, so I’ll let you figure it out. There’s also a new tagline, which is pretty self-explanatory. This blog is primarily about lifting, eating, and lifestyle. So, bam.

3. I have a new theme! This was actually not my choice… When I created my “new” blog my old theme disappeared and apparently it’s no longer available. So I was forced to choose a new one. I was bummed at first, but I’m kind of liking this new one! It’s simple, a little feminine, but not too feminine. Yah mean? Lemme know what you think!

I swear new posts are a’comin’! I’ve been distancing myself from a lot of fitness/nutrition reading and writing lately because I’m currently on a solid plan, and sometimes doing too much reading on these subjects can make you second guess your current path, even if it’s working! But now that I’m in a good groove and nothing is going to redirect me from my path, I feel I can get back at doing some more reading and writing. Yippee!

A Lesson on Maintenance

under-maintenanceYa’ll….I have been in “maintenance mode” for 6 weeks now and you know what? It’s working! I don’t remember the last time I ate this many calories on purpose for such a long period of time. It’s awesome. The feeling of being full after every meal feels so good! And I haven’t gained any weight! I haven’t lost any either…but that’s the freakin’ point! I honestly was just kind of stuck in a rut and didn’t know what my goals should be at the time and then I became an LBC client and that decision was lifted off my shoulders. It has been absolutely wonderful not having to worry about my own diet and training.

If you are feeling similarly to how I was (stuck in a rut, tired, not seeing progress), bring those calories on up! Your body needs a break. It’s not meant to be in a deficit for so long and it’s just generally not healthy. You’re not going to progress that way! From someone who was afraid to raise their calories to someone else who might be afraid to raise their calories, just do it. Do yourself a favor. Enjoy the influx of food. Enjoy different varieties of food. And enjoy the strength gains, awesome pumps, and renewed energy!

From my experience, here are some tips on going into maintenance mode. Hopefully these will help some of you guys out.

1. What should you set your calories at? If you have no idea what your maintenance calories are, a general rule of thumb (if you’re relatively active) is to take your current weight x 15 and that number will be your starting calorie level.  When I first started eating this way my belly was a little bloated from all the food, but that subsided. No, my abs aren’t chiseled at the moment but I’m killing my workouts and feeling really strong and healthy right now. It’s important to keep your calories at that level for a while to let your body reset. I can tell that my body is “resetting” itself now because I’m still hungry after my hyoooge meals. When I first started eating this way I was stuffed after each meal, but then my body adjusted and I started getting hungrier between meals. You know what happened then? My coach upped my calories a little more! Ha!

2. Should you raise them all at once or go slow? If you’re a little scared about increasing your calories you can raise them slowly, but I just dived in and raised them in one go and didn’t balloon up. Now, I think if you’ve been eating very very very few calories for a very very very long period of time coupled with a lot of training and cardio, you might want to increase your calories much slower because your metabolism will be so slow that it just won’t be able to burn up the extra calories you’re feeding it. You’ll gradually need to stoke it by slowly increasing your calories week by week. But that’s just my 2 cents. My calories weren’t THAT low to begin with, so I didn’t have to make such a big jump and my metabolism caught up quickly. (Hallelujah!)

3. You CAN’T go crazy and eat anything and everything in plain sight. One thing to note about a maintenance phase is that it CAN be almost as hard as a fat loss phase. I told my husband one day that I was about to start my fat loss diet and he asked me “I thought you were already dieting!?” Just like in a fat loss phase, I’ve been very diligent about measuring and weighing out my foods and following a pretty regimented diet. Yes, you can be a little more lenient about having a treat here and there than you can be during a fat loss diet, but if you go too overboard you might start gaining weight. Weighing yourself regularly (that is, if it doesn’t freak you out) can help you keep it all in check. I don’t care WHAT the number on the scale is, I just don’t necessarily want it to fluctuate too much if that’s not my goal.

Like I said, I’m about to start my fat loss phase and I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m hoping that because I’ve been here at maintenance for a while my metabolism just might be primed and ready for it. We’ll see!