I wanted to take some time to outline my personal “fitness map”; that is, the road I’m traveling to reach my goals. I am not a professional by any means. What I’m laying out is what I’ve learned over the years, solidifying my personal path through trial and lots of errors. This is what works for me, and it may or may not work for you. I encourage you to do your research, and don’t be afraid to try new things! So, without further ado:
This is most important part of fitness, whether your goal is weight loss or weight gain. I’m a big fan of the idea that “this is a lifestyle change, not a diet”. Diets assume a temporary change; one that you’ll trash once you hit your goal weight, so I try to stay away from that term.
I’ve experimented with extremely low intakes (1200 and below), vegetarianism, keto/low carb-high fat, and eating at maintenance calories. Maintenance is my absolute favourite. I never feel starved, and the stress revolving eating is non-existent. However, since it’s Summer time, I’ve begun a cut!
According to this TDEE calculator (my favourite one), my TDEE is 2024. So, my daily calories are set to 1700, which is just above a 15% defecit. I personally don’t like feeling too restricted and I don’t mind progress not being crazy fast, so this works really well for me. I still eat a good sized breakfast and lunch, and a relatively hearty dinner. I am a very, very happy camper here.
I think a lot of people will disagree, but I eat anything I want. I can (and do) have McDonald’s once, twice, thrice a week if I feel like it. I’ll eat a normal sized slice of cheesecake. I’ll have a cookie, or an apple tart. I’ll have whatever I damn well feel like! And I’m still losing weight/re-sculpting my body! Like I said above, calorie intake is the most important part of this journey we’re all on. It took years for me to figure out what my proper calorie intake is. Seriously! Trial and error… so much trial and error. It’s so worth the effort though, because once you establish your boundaries, then you can play around.
That being said, when I do eat poorly, or things that are high in calories but low in satiation, I am so freaking hungry for the rest of the day, and I have less calorie allowance to work with. That’s the trade off though;”is this meal/snack worth being hungry for the rest of the day?”
The hard part is having the discipline to not allow the cravings which will follow the meal, nine times out of ten. I do have to fight off the urge to eat more bad stuff, but I’ve learned how to do that, so it’s not as daunting a thought for me at this point… but how did I do that you ask?
Now, I’ve always had a problem with eating. Emotional/stress eating which leads to binge eating; all that stuff. I attribute it to poor eating habits growing up, where my parents worked so hard to provide for us financially, that every other area in our lives suffered… but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Then comes intermittent fasting (IF)! Here’s a great resource for the basics of IF. Basically, you have a “feeding window”, and for the rest of the day, you abstain from eating. It sounds a little scary, but most people are asleep for about half of the fasting window, so it’s not nearly as daunting as it sounds. 16:8 is the standard, 16 hours being the fast, 8 hours being the feeding window. I believe most people choose to skip breakfast, or skip one meal and just eat two bigger meals close to the beginning and end of the fast. Personally, I love eating and decided not to skip any meals, or have a full day’s fast. My food schedule (sounds kinda weird but whatever!) goes something like this:
- 9AM-10AM: breakfast
- 11AM-12PM: lunch
- 4PM-5PM: dinner
And yes, I do eat lunch almost immediately after breakfast. It’s my favourite part of the day! What I love about this is once my body adjusted, number one, I’m rarely ever hungry past dinner time, and two, even if I am, I know I can’t eat so I don’t. “Nope, don’t do that, it’s after 5” became a full on mantra for me, haha!
Two words my friends: “heavy. lifting.” Oh, and: “screw. cardio.” I do five minutes before lifting just to warm up, no more than that. That’s just me though, I’ve never enjoyed cardio. Swimming is different because I don’t feel the sweat all over my body, and the water helps keep me cool since I overheat even in the winter time. Yuck.
Whether you’re a girl or a guy, heavy weights is where it’s at. My body is vastly different at 135lb doing weights 3x a week at 1700-2000 calories, vs 130lb doing yoga 3x a week at less than 1200 calories a day. Would you believe that I look slimmer now than I do at 130? I know it’s 5lbs on the scale, but on my body… it’s night and day. For the record, I stand at a whopping 5’2″ so 5lbs is a lot on me regardless!
I started off with Stronglifts 5×5, and now do basically the same but I’ve adjusted it a bit for my goals. As a beginner, I would highly recommend following the program to the T, since you may not yet have the knowledge to make any adjustments. The only changes I made to the program initially were starting out with dumbbells vs the bar because I was a little bit afraid to make a fool of myself, which I now see was silly. However, I can understand the anxiety behind it and will share what I did for the dumbbell variations if anyone is interested.
Aside from the physical changes (flattening belly, smaller thighs, woot!), mentally I feel like I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in my entire life. I love being able to hit new personal records on my lifts (I currently squat 145 which is 10lbs over my body weight. Whaaat?! 😀 I feel like a beast!), and I feel a constant drive to push myself to be better in all aspects of life. I look in the mirror now and I don’t see a failure of a person, I see someone who tries every day to improve, and works hard for what she wants.
I wholeheartedly attribute that confidence to the iron.
And ladies, you are NOT going to get “too bulky”, especially not overnight, and especially not without steroids or testosterone shots. I’ve been lifting regularly for eight months and I’m only now starting to see some real definition, and it’s juuust peeking out through my fat. Though admittedly, I wish sometimes that I could get bulky overnight because my baby muscles are sometimes too damn slow to grow!
This is about five months of progress. Five months of regular lifting and I don’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m up to about nine months now (but haven’t taken a new progress pic yet, stay tuned!) and I’m still not Arnold. Darn. But seriously, don’t be afraid of the iron, ladies. It takes months upon months upon months, and years upon years and so much insanely hard work to get to the point that most ladies are afraid of getting to overnight.
If you’ve been considering weight lifting and are afraid, just do it! You’ll thank yourself later!
This is getting way too long, but I just wanted to share a bit of what I do and how it’s working for me! Thanks for reading, and please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions! Have a great week everyone!