Writing your own story

It’s a Friday night, but I feel the need to reflect on my horoscope today: “In life, you may not have complete control, Sagittarius, but you are the author of your own story.”

It’s been an anxious and stressful semester with overwhelming exams, internship applications and rent money fizzling out of my bank account. It’s been hard to say the least. Life gets hard whether you can keep up with it or not.

Today I paused in the gym, realized I am graduating in May and thought of this blog. I was required to start it my sophomore year in a features writing class. With it, I made it my message to the world that I did it; I accomplished a goal that drastically changed my life.

I stepped back and realized I have kept off my 70 pound weight loss for three years now. Now, I don’t think of this every time I’m at the gym critiquing my cellulite or thick thighs or stomach flab that just won’t disappear. I don’t think of this when I gain two to three pounds while forgetting to exercise for a few days when I’m busy with school.

I called in to speak with a counselor this week about the anxiety I’ve been facing. It’s an interesting feeling to have your chest tighten up and hands go clammy to a point where stress isn’t just stress anymore.

During this call, I thought about bringing up body image for a split second when it crossed me: wait, do I really have body image issues?

It might not be normal to feel guilty every time you miss a workout session or drink too many calories during a night out, but it feels normal to me.

It might not be normal to skip social functions because you don’t feel like you deserve it due to the way your body looks, but it feels normal to me.

It might not be normal to not let someone touch you because of what you ate, but it feels normal to me.

I’m writing to remind you, and myself, that you are in charge of your life. Whether it be weight loss, seeking out help for mental health or reevaluating priorities, you are the decision maker.

I’m writing to remind you that even I, someone who advocates for healthy living, have issues with body image.

I’m writing to note that one drastic life change can lead to the need for another drastic life change, and that’s okay.

You have the power to take a moment and decide what parts of your life are detrimental to your mental health. You have the power to remove them and access help.

I want to encourage anyone with anxiety or depression to think of it as an illness that can be. Not an illness that is hindering, but one that deserves a place in your story.

Eat Clean, Save Green

The fall semester is back in full swing, and the “Freshmen 15” might be worrying you (Even if you’re not a freshmen…It’s OK.) With money spent on books, tests and school supplies, it can be difficult to budget funds for healthy food. Here are a few tips to eating clean while also saving money for the important things

1. Grocery shop smart. Go in with a list and a budget.You probably already know that heading straight to the chips and sweets aisle when you’re starving isn’t the best way to shop.  Start in the produce area and stock up on fruits and vegetables for the week. You’ll be obligated to eat them ASAP so they don’t go bad. Stock up on healthy snacks, like nuts, cereal bars and yogurt cups.

2. Make your meals as colorful as possible. If your plates are looking a dull cream or brown, think of new ways to add color with fruits and vegetables.

3. Smoothie, juice and bake. Utilize extra produce that may be over-ripening. Include protein powder in your smoothies if running low on meat, beans or nut proteins to balance our your diet. I love making smoothies in the morning because they are quick and I don’t have to spend much time thinking about how to incorporate all my vitamins for the day.

4. Prepare snacks for on-the-go and think ahead for dinner.

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Wednesday snack prep for classes Photo by Kayla Jimenez

If you’re going to work out during the day, prepare carbs for before and a protein snack for after. If you’re planning to study in the library all day, bring natural sugary snacks like apples or grapes. Plan accordingly to avoid spending extra dollars.

5. Eat what you love in smaller portions and modify. Treat yourself once in a while, but eat smaller amounts than what you normally would. Save leftovers for your study break or dinner the next day when you’re too tired to cook after class.

6. Stay away from alcohol, sugar and extra carbs. These three are definitely the worst easy temptations to come by in college. With all the Thursday night parties, student organization pizza parties and ice cream socials, you DO have to pick and choose which ones are most worth it.

Back to School shedding + New Smoothie Concoction

Oh, look what’s around the corner…school and the salty end of summer, but also your local college recreation center and healthy food choices throughout campus!

It’s my last year of undergrad, and in the meantime I’m going to make sure I keep sharing my tips to staying healthy and fit in college.

If you’ve been following me, you know I love to share new smoothie recipes so here’s one I experimented with recently. Try it out for a quick treat on the go to class or work:

1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup plain vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup water, 4 ice cubes, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 handful of spinach, frozen strawberries, 1/2 large banana, 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (any of your choosing!)

The plateau was real this summer with ice cream, BBQ, and cold sugary drinks at every social gathering and function. It’s time for a refocus and the swing of “back to school” is always my favorite time to get into shape.

Right now I am focusing on toning up while also losing fat, and in the process discovered PIIT (Pilates Intense Interval Training) 28 by Cassey Ho. I love HIIT, and this combination with pilates is effective and quick.

If you aren’t familiar with Blogilates and enjoy home workouts, I’d recommend her channel and the PIIT 28 Program:

The idea is to do each routine 4 times to total an effective ~30 minute workout. I usually incorporate either ~30 minutes of additional cardio or weight training when trying to shed weight, but this alone will keep you toned and feeling good.

I’ll be writing a few times per week to share what has and hasn’t been working for me. If you’re on the “back to school, back to the fit life” grind too, let me know what you want to see!

Healthy Snack and Pit Stop Ideas for Spring Break

Spring break travels are upon us and summer road trips will be here in just a few weeks (hang in there!). Staying on track while traveling is a challenge for many, and while it is OK to indulge on vacation; remember that fitness goals don’t recognize vacations.

“Well, I’m only in Cancun once and it’s spring break! A few margaritas won’t hurt.” “These donuts are supposed to be the BEST in the state…lets just sneak in a few and I’ll totally go run it off when I get back.” “Fast food is the ONLY option at rest stops on these road trips. Alright, a large fries and a double cheeseburger will do.”

Sound familiar? While on the go in between classes, home and school, and various trips; I’ve compiled my favorite snacks and “fast” food eats.

Here are a few of my healthy meal and snack recommendations for road trips, train rides, and airport adventures:

Road Trip Pit Stops

Pre-Trip Grocery Stop:

Snacks: Fruits (fresh or dried)–bananas, dried mangoes, and apples are ideal for travel, energy and protein bars, wheat or multigrain crackers, turkey or ham slices, almonds (I like to make my own trail mix with golden raisins and chocolate chips), carrots and celery, beef or turkey jerky, low-salted pretzels or popcorn.

Drinks: WATER! Bring your own refillable bottle to save the planet and your wallet. Refill once you get past security in the airport. Green iced teas for an energy kick, but watch out for ones with tons of sugar. Sports drinks to replace electrolytes and sugar if you need a boost.

Whether you’re in America or elsewhere; these food chains may pop up on your trip:

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My healthy go-to’s are:

  1. Spinach Egg White and Feta Wrap:

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Make your own with this PopSugar recipe!

2) Everything or Multi-grain bagels (with or without cream cheese)

3) Turkey Bacon and Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

In N Out (if traveling in California!):

  1. Protein Style Burger–save the carbs for tacos or pizza in a YOLO meal later.
  2. Fries (not animal style). Okay, this isn’t really the greatest for you BUT they do use fresh potatoes and I honestly can’t resist french fries.

McDonalds

  1. Egg White Delight McMuffin (skip the hash brown meal deal)
  2. Fruit n’ Yogurt Parfait
  3. Sausage Breakfast Burrito
  4. Honey Mustard Grilled Snack Wrap (avoid the ranch or crispy fried chicken)
  5. Peeled apples and side salads

Taco Bell:

  1. Fresca Soft or Crunchy Tacos-perfect for getting in protein, carbs, and veggies.
  2. Cantina bowls-like a salad with protein. Opt for chicken if you’re watching calorie intake.

Jamba Juice

  1. Green smoothies or juice. Face it; it’s going to be rough getting in your greens on vacation. Choose a quick spinach or kale smoothie at Jamba Juice or any other chain smoothie restaurant for an easy way to get in the fiber and vitamins you need.
  2. Energy bowls with fruit, greek yogurt, and granola.
  3. Oatmeal with fruit or breakfast wraps.

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Let me know what your to-go healthy pit stop foods are, and where you’re going or went for spring break! Also let me know if you’re into healthy food blogs because I can always put together more!

xo Kayla J

10 Things I’ve Learned From Working Out for 3 Years

It’s been almost 3 years since I turned on my first Blogilates video and started incorporating exercise into my schedule on a day-to-day basis.

I work out 5 days a week: 3 days Monday-Thursday, and 2 days on the weekend. This gives me wiggle room to plan around any days that will be most difficult to squeeze an hour long workout into. When I tell people my workout schedule; I often get reactions like: how do you find the time? how do you stay motivated? or don’t you have other things to do?

Exercise is a routine for me, and if I don’t do it I will feel sluggish and not like myself. It makes me feel good about myself and that’s why I KEEP doing it. Despite this, there are always ups and downs to my fitness journey along the way. Here are 10 things I’ve learned in the past (almost) 3 years since starting:

  1. Your body will never look like anyone else’s; its YOURS! There’s been many instances where I see someone at the gym with ripped arms or a curvy butt and said: I want that. It is okay to have a goal to work up to, but remember that all our bodies are different and even if you did 500 squats and leg lifts, your butt may never look like hers. Compete to be the best version of yourself.
  2. That 80/20 rule about your diet being 80 percent of the influence to the changes you see if your body is completely true. Your diet controls how you will feel, and how well your workouts go. Incorporate carbs, proteins, sugars, and good fats into a well-rounded meal plan to see results.
  3. You will plateau if you don’t switch up your routine. Your calves will get used to running the same speeds just like your abs will get used to doing a million bicycle crunches. I often switch between regular Pilates and HIIT routines to running to strength training in the gym every few weeks to keep my muscles shocked and never adjusted.
  4. It’s important to invest in good shoes specified for certain routines: running, training, etc. Replace them when needed. This goes for fitness wear, too! Avoid injuries, and stay comfortable.
  5. Switching up the location of your workout will leave you feeling refreshed. I work at my campus gym, and being there day in and day out can leave me feeling like that is the last place I want to be. Go on a hike or run outdoors if you like cardio; or do yoga or HIIT workouts outside when the weather calls for it.
  6. Resort to your favorite workout, or the one that leaves you feeling best if you’re in a workout slump. Pilates is always my go-to when I am no longer seeing results, or just lose interest in working out. It happens when you do it so often, so I always go back to what makes me feel the healthiest.  
  7. 7. There are people who will workout with you; you just have to seek them out. I’ve been denied numerous times when trying to plan an exercise date with a friend or a hike with family members. Not everyone is going to want to work out or eat healthy with you. Don’t force it on anyone and seek out the ones who will.
  8.  You will stop losing weight after a certain point. I’ve been within the same ten pound range for the last 2 years even with my diet changes and consistent workout routine. Your body does have a natural weight. You can always lose fat and gain lean muscle after than, but don’t get discouraged if you can’t gain or lose weight after a certain point.
  9. Don’t workout to see changes in numbers. It will drive you crazy. Workout to feel good about yourself. Take that feeling post workout as a reward in itself. And if you’re not feeling it one day; don’t do it. Take a break if you need it.
  10. Posting photos of yourself at the gym can be great motivation to others; but they’re not necessary for people to see your progress. You should always exercise for yourself.  People will see your progress and positivity in your vibe without you posting a gym selfie or tweet about your latest workout.

Join the conversation and tell me what you’ve learned from your fitness journey in the comments!

HIIT-ing the gym in January

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I’m going to be honest. As an avid gym-goer; I was not thrilled for the new year to roll around. Crowded cardio machines, lines for benches, and missing equipment is a recipe for frustration in any gym or recreation center–especially if you are new! It can all be a little overwhelming and slightly discouraging, especially when everyone else seems to be hitting the ground running on their fitness the first week of January.

Throughout the week I’ve been experimenting with new ways to get my workouts in with a crowded gym while at home for winter break that I want to share with you! I have a lot of people tell me that they walk in to the gym and just don’t know what to do…30 minutes on the treadmill AGAIN?

My typical routine consists of a 30-40 minute cardio session followed by a 20-30 minute strength training workout concluded by stretching.

“So I bought just bought a gym membership…now what?”

Cardio Tips:

  • If you are a beginner: try out each cardio machines to see which is most comfortable. You’re never glued to one option. Try different interval times and resistance levels for a challenge. Stick to it and get your groove going!
  • If the gym is your thing: try out a new machine and amp up the resistance to avoid a plateau. You may hop on the elliptical every time and mastered the top resistance so try out the StairMaster or rowing machine to challenge new muscles. I like to pick a new cardio equipment each time and increase my resistance from the last time i used it to mix it up.
  • If you’re looking for something new: You know all that loose equipment the gym offers? Use it! Create a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) routine using a BOSU ball, dumbbells, kettle bells, a yoga mat, and your own body weight. There are plenty of workout options all over the internet to choose from. Pick 5-6 routines incorporating all body parts and do them each for 1 minutes with a 15-30 second break in between. Repeat the whole set 3-4 times and you will be sweating even harder than being static on a cardio machine.

Strength Training Tips:

  • If you are a beginner: Don’t be afraid to hit the weight room. Start off with dumbbells. Whatever weight you are comfortable with: go for it! Pick a certain number of reps and go for 3-5 sets. Challenge yourself. Muscle burns more calories throughout the day than fat so strength training combined with cardio is the best way to lose weight and body fat.
  • If you’re a lifter: Try a new machine or a different set of muscles to focus on. Teach newbies in the gym who may need help with unfamiliar equipment. You’re the pro so give back to those who are less experienced. Hit the gym at hours where it is less likely to be crowded. Mid-day, very early morning, or late night are the best times to snag a bench and your favorite machine.
  • If you’re looking for something new: Take a circuit training class or other class offered at your gym that incorporates weights and barbells. There are often plenty to choose from and it can be refreshing to be told what to do in the gym instead of having to think out every next move.

If you’re still not buying it: go for a run outdoors and explore your town, try out a hot yoga, barre, or pilates class at a local studio, take a hike and explore nature, go snowboarding or kayaking, hit the ice or rolling skating rink and experiment with unconventional ways to get in your daily sweat!

I want to know what you want to see on Fitness4U in 2016! Let me know in the comments below:

 

Following your Arrow in 2016

What do you define as your arrow?

It may be your heart or your vulnerability or your gut. It may be your brain or your mind or your ambitions. Whatever it may be, vow to follow it in 2016. While the new year is not the only time for a fresh start, it does provide a collective chance to start and share resolutions.

Fitness goals are the go-to resolution for the new year. Gyms start to fill up, personal trainers start to book more clients, and diet regimes because the top clicks on the web. Maybe you even came across this blog while looking for healthy waffle recipes or inspiration to get motivated in the new year.

I wish you the best on your fitness endeavors in the new year, but note that fitness routines and healthy recipes can only go so far. Believing in yourself and finding the best version of you FOR YOU is your home base. It’s one thing to be the best you for everyone else: your parents, your significant other, your best friend, your crush; being the best you for you is another feat to reach. Ask yourself: do I love the me I am right now at this moment? Am I comfortable with who I am and what  I’m accomplishing? Do I feel full of life or am I just letting time pass?

This new years I am vowing to stop asking others for their opinions, and rather to follow my arrow, to me meaning my heart and gut, in making the decisions that are best for me.

It’s a blessing to have friends and family who are there to support you and give you advice, but no one knows you like you do. Only you can make the best decision for yourself. Don’t ask a soul what your arrow means to you.

Decide. Follow it. Follow it whole.

Whole Wheat Waffles for Chilly Holiday Mornings

If you’re not indulging on chocolate chip waffles with color popping fruit on the side on holiday morning, then what are you doing? Don’t get me wrong: I love a little sleeping in or a good morning run, but nothing gets me out of bed like the thought of crisp, warm waffles on a cold fall morning. Whoever says that a waffle maker is not one of those college kitchen necessities is putting a dull in your fire.

It’s Veteran’s Day and school is OFFICIALLY closed today-I mean it’s official when the library is shut down. (I found that one out by walking all the way there with my loaded backpack just to find a “closed” sign right on the door.) Remember to honor all the veterans in your life today!

So waffles, right? Yes. I made waffles this morning and wanted to share a few of my waffle tips and yum combinations!

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Groceries to pick up at Trader Joes, Safeway/Vons, or your favorite local market:

  1. Whole wheat waffle mix (This IS a fitness blog after all!)
  2. Almond or soy milk. Almond Breeze is always a go-get it in bulk at Costco to save your pennies.
  3. Vegetable Oil and Non-Stick Cooking Spray (if you or your roommates don’t have already have any stocked up)
  4. Eggs
  5. Protein Powder-any flavor! I use Vanilla Muscle Milk. Try out chocolate or banana. Or cookies and cream or pumpkin if you’re feeling a little adventurous and festive!
  6. Colorful fruits! Bananas, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and apples are my fruits of choice. Go seasonal for the cheapest and freshest options. Trip to the farmer’s market, anyone?
  7. Mini chocolate chips. If you’re a chocolate lover like me, you already know this will put a smile on your face in the morning. Go 72%+ dark for a healthier option.
  8. Cinnamon or Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice.
  9. Maple syrup to top it off. This is completely optional, but I love Aunt Jemima’s Light Syrup with reduced sugar.

Stock up on almond milk, protein power, spices, vegetable oil, cooking spray, and waffle mix at the beginning of the semester to last you through the semester. Fruits, chocolate, and eggs are easy pick ups throughout the year.

Your waffle mix box will typically have directions on just how much of each ingredient to mix. Use half of the mix and substitute the other half for the protein powder. Add in the spices with the batter. Add on chocolate chips after you pour the batter onto the waffle maker already covered with non-stick spray. Cook until your waffle maker says “READY” and repeat until your mix is complete. Cut up fruits on the side and decorate your plate! Store extra waffles in the freezer and toast them the next day.

We all want to make tasty food, but we also want it to be Instagram or Snapchat-worthy too, right? Pinterest, anyone?

Show me your holiday waffles! Get creative with pumpkins for fall and peppermint and cocoa for winter!

The LEA(V)ES are a-Changing

Change is inevitable. The right vibes and souls enter your life through constant changing motion. To thrive and grow, it is essential for humans to change. Especially the college-type humans. We’re a bunch of commitment-phobic, indecisive millennials anyhow, right? We hear it all the time.

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I woke up out of bed this morning with a spontaneous thought: I desperately need to get back into fitness blogging. Did I know what I was going to blog about after being gone for two months? I didn’t. Maybe about my grocery list? My new job at the gym? How hard I’ve been on myself for slacking on the blogosphere?

I went to my Total Body Fitness class at 1pm today, Thursday. The same class I go to with the same instructor and the same familiar faces every week. I walk into class and set up my step aerobics and dumbbells as usual when my fitness instructor, Olga, announced that she isn’t returning after class today. And my heart SANK. It wasn’t a dramatic excuse for leaving, but simply because the commute is too long. I relied on this woman (who kicked my butt harder than any group fitness instructor) to get me into shape and be there for me at 1pm every Thursday. And this happens every semester. New group fitness classes and new schedules means changes happen all the time. I’m used to it and yet it will never stop bumming me out.

I’m a pace changer, wild bird, adventure seeker and yet the slightest bit of change can break my spirits in a split second. A little contradictory, no? It made me reflect on how much change I’ve experienced in such a short time in this semester in college. How different of a human I am in what feels like a matter of split seconds.

I started this blog about a year ago as a way to inspire and share my tips and tricks from my experience losing weight in college with other looking to do the same. Losing 30 pounds? Easy. Losing 50 pounds? Easier. Losing 86? Not a problem. I did it; I get it. Weight loss is a formula. There are 1 million and one personal trainers and fitness professionals that will tell you the same path to get to the weight you want to be.

But no one is going to tell you what to do about the feeling you get when your group fitness instructor leaves. Or when you were looking forward to a liberating morning run until it started to rain. Or when your favorite machine is out of order. It might seem silly, but each of these things require CHANGE. A new fitness class, a new workout routine for the day, or a new machine is going to throw you off for the worse or the better.

A lot of uncomfortable change happens in college. The same people that once would drop everything for an ice cream date or late night rendezvous with you might not even exist on your contact list anymore. The same major that once pushed you off the edge of your seat might seem like a chore. The usual down-to-earth you may not be so thrilled with staying in and being a homebody on weekday nights. Or the party animal in you that once existed in high school wouldn’t mind drinking chai tea on the couch with a mystery novel. It’s O.K. It’s normal. We’re all a little crazy, but we’re all a little normal, too.

Adapt to change. Be adaptable, but remain the best version of you for yourself. Love the you that are you are NOW. Quit what doesn’t feel right. Branch out to meeting people that feed your soul in new ways. Try something, or someone, new. Find the human in you that can adapt to change. Accept yourself (changes and all) and the world around you will accept you, too

The leaves are changing. I am changing. Fitness4U is changing, too. I’m excited to show all of you. Stay on the moving ride with me.

XO Kayla J.

Group Fitness Classes to Try: PiYo and Barre Blast

Combining what you already love with a contemporary twist is the best way to spice up your summer workout and transition into a new one for fall.  I’m always looking for ways to mix it up to avoid plateauing, and mix up my cardio and strength training routines. Sometimes it’s just easier to head into the gym without having to think about the sets and reps you have to do. Just follow along with the group instructor and the rest of the class and your workout will go by in a breeze!

Challenge of the month: Be spontaneous and check out your college’s recreation center or gym and take a new, unfamiliar class!

As an avid Pilates enthusiast, I found two classes to mix up my traditional workout that I want YOU to try:

PiYo

PiYo is a fusion of Pilates and Yoga involving stretching, core work, and meditation practices. If you love Yoga and have never tried Pilates or vice versa, this is the perfect happy medium and introduction to the new practice. PiYo uses faster paced cardio and core based movements from Pilates and more traditional yoga poses such as the downward dog and warrior pose for a representative mixture.

TRY IT TO:  *Mix up your traditional yoga or Pilates workout, learn a new technique in a group fitness atmosphere, develop strength, agility, and breathing methods encompassing your own body weight

Barre Blast 

Whether you were born with two left feet and wish your parents threw you into dance at the age of 4 or have hips like Shakira, Barre is the perfect combination of ballet and strength training. Incorporating many core exercises from Pilates, Barre is a standing workout mimicking the graceful vibes of ballet. Looking for Plie squats, booty lifts, and lunges? Barre will tighten and strengthen while increasing endurance through cardio based strength training. I always come out of this class sweating like I just got out of the oven!

TRY IT TO: *Incorporate cardio into a traditional Pilates workout, develop balance and strength, tighten up your thighs and butt for your Halloween costume

Tell me about your experiences with group fitness classes: love the motivation and vibes or prefer to work out on your own?