All about cardio things…

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All about cardio

I asked some lovely ladies that follow my page questions they had about their fitness goals. Cardio seemed to be a topic that was recurring so I wanted to feature an article on the following:

What is cardio?

What forms of cardio are there?

How often/when should cardio be done?

Let’s be honest, there are very few people in this world that love cardio. Those that do, I’m convinced are secretly an alien species from a galaxy far, far away. I absolutely abhor cardio, but it is a necessary evil to maintain optimal health and attain the physique you want. I’ve discovered that there are multiple ways to reach your goal when it comes to cardio. For those of you who hate running, there is hope!

What is Cardio?

Cardio is short for “cardiovascular.” The term is used to describe the circulatory system comprised of the heart and blood vessels in the body. When people “do cardio” they’re performing endurance exercises that strengthen and boost this network.

What forms of Cardio are there?

Cardio takes on many different forms. Most people conjure up images of running when they think of cardio, but that is only one modality. I prefer to take the approach of “train smart, not long,” but I’ll list a couple different options for you.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT is, and has been one of my favorite forms of cardio. I like to do the least amount of cardio as possible and HIIT is right up my alley. HIIT can be performed effectively on the following modalities in order of effectiveness: Stair Stepper, Treadmill, Elliptical, Bicycle. Your modality will depend on your fitness level and if you suffer from any injuries or hindrances, i.e. knee issues.

HIIT is performed by  alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. It can last anywhere from 10-40 minutes. Your work round needs to be difficult enough that you are pleading for your rest round, but not so difficult that you can’t complete at least 10-20 minutes. Beginners typically use a split of 1:2- 1.2.5 and intermediate to advanced typically perform HIIT at a 1:1.5- 1:1 split.

An example of beginner hit would be:

Sprint on treadmill at 7MPH for 30 seconds

Walk on Treadmill for 4MPH for 1-1 1/2 minutes. for 7 rounds

An intermediate to advanced level example would be:

Sprint at 12.5MPH for 30 seconds

Jog at 6MPH for 30-45s. for 12-15 rounds (This is the split I typically use).

You perform HIIT on the Elliptical/Bicycle/Stair master but increasing speed/resistance opposed to MPH.

PROs of HIIT:

  • Ideal for those with time restrictions
  • Excellent for increasing cardiovascular endurance
  • Efficient and effective for burning fat if used correctly
  • Can be performed multiple times per week without fatiguing
  • Your metabolism spikes for several hours after you finish performing HIIT and you continue burning calories. This is called the After Burn effect.

CONs of HIIT:

  • You need to hold yourself accountable
  • It is easy to perform incorrectly
LSD – Long Slow Distance Cardio
Long slow distance cardio is typically what you see people performing when you are at the gym. Or “cardio bunnies” as we like to call them. This is essentially doing cardio over the course of 40 minutes to an hour. It is common to try to keep your heart rate around 140-150 during this hour though these numbers differ from person to person. The best modalities in order for LSD cardio are: Stair Master/Stepper, Elliptical, Treadmill, Bike.
My recommendation is to start with 40 minutes on your chosen modality and increase over the course of two weeks. That will look like so:
Day 1: 40 minutes,
Day 2: 40 minutes
Day 3: 40 minutes (increase resistance/speed)
Day 4: 45 minutes
Day 5: 45 minutes
Day 6: 45 minutes (increase resistance/speed)
Day 7: 45 minutes
Day 8: 50 minutes
Day 9: 50  minutes
Day 10: 55 minutes
Day 11: 55 minutes (increase resistance/speed)
Day 12: 55 minutes
Day 13: 55 minutes
Day 14: 1 hour (increase resistance/speed)
I do not recommend running long distance unless it is something you enjoy or you are specifically training for 5ks 10ks etc. For most people when they lift/want an athletic physique I ask them to compare a marathon runner’s body to a sprinter’s body. The difference is significant.
PROs of LSD:
  • Excellent for improving cardiovascular
  • Burns significantly more immediate calories compared to HIIT if done for extended periods of time.
  • One of the oldest strategies to burn stubborn fat and break plateaus.

CONs of LSD

  • Extremely time consuming.
  • Takes extreme motivation to continue pushing yourself
  • Can increase DOMs (Delayed onset muscle soreness)

Circuit Training:

Circuit training is a form of resistance training that combines cardiovascular exercise with weight training. There are typically multiple exercises in a circuit performed in succession with one another with interval bursts of cardio in between. An example of circuit training would be:

Dumbbell Curl

Dumbbell Row

Tricep Kickback

Dumbbell Press

Battleropes 20s work/10s rest for 8 rounds

Push ups (Max)

Row Machine 500m

10 Burpees

Complete the circuit 3-5 times.

PROs of Circuit Training

  • Efficient for those who are short on time looking for weight loss. I employ circuit training with all of my clients in addition to their cardio.
  • Excellent weight loss strategy
  • Functional training that improves all areas of fitness
  • Increases strength, endurance, power, and physical fitness.
  • Ideal for maintenance goals.

CONs of Circuit Training

  • Not ideal for those in a hypertrophy/strength building phase in weight lifting unless they are already in excellent physical condition.
  • Can be difficult to build up endurance.
  • Limited rest periods
  • Additional cardio may still need to be done if weight loss is the goal.

Miscellaneous Cardio Modalities:

Some of my favorite cardio modalities that were briefly or not mentioned above:

Medicine Ball Slams/Throws/Tosses/Targets

Row Machine (Excellent for burning a high amount of calories)

Battle Ropes

Burpees

How often/when should cardio be done?

Opinions vary from Trainer to Trainer, but I prefer to do my cardio after I finish lifting weights. A popular theory is that you burn down your glycogen (stored carbohydrates) stores after you lift weights for 45 min- 1 hour and cardio is “more effective” for cutting fat  afterwards.

For Weight loss/Cutting: If your primary goal is weight loss, for best results 5-7 times per week is optimal. If you can do cardio each day, that is going to garner the best results. Combine Circuit Training with LSD or HIIT for best results. You can alternate between LSD and HIIT training. I tend to do HIIT on my leg days and LSD on the stair stepper on my upper body/core days.

For Maintenance: Circuit training and your choice of cardio 2-3x per week as long as you are eating appropriately.

For Controlling a Bulk: For those out there attempting to control  a bulk, it’s a bit of a delicate balance. I find that maintaining cardio 5+ times per week after increasing my calories allows me to bulk without losing too much of the cut look. Keeping maintained also allows me to cut down quickly while remaining in a surplus.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me

-Tai Rae

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10 Tips to cleaning up your diet!

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My cheat day meal. Healthy and delicious!

There are tons of fad diets out there that could leave you wondering, which one is the right one for me? Paleo, Atkins, Ketogenic, Weight Watchers- it can all be overwhelming. The issue with diets is they tend to have a yo-yo effect. An individual will go on a diet, lose a number of pounds, come off of the diet and gain it right back. Sustainability of weight loss isn’t found in a diet, it’s found in a change of lifestyle.

 

Below are ten simple rules that will take out the guess work, and get you on the path to a healthier lifestyle and help you clean up your diet!

Drink more water

Staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects of optimal health. Your body needs water to function and nearly 60% of your body weight consists of water. Water assists in digestion, energy levels, metabolism, flushes toxins from your system and carries nutrients to cells. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and loss of energy, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Drinking water can also assist in weight loss, aim for about two cups of water 10-20 minutes before a meal and it’ll leave you feeling satiated quicker. The 8 x 8 rule isn’t necessarily valid, it’s just easy to remember and couldn’t hurt you. A good gauge on proper hydration is the color of your urine. Light yellow to mostly clear is a good indication of proper hydration.

Watch your refined sugars

Refined sugars are difficult for the body to process, and they are a quick way to add an abundance of excess calories with no nutritional value. Try a natural sweetener like stevia or agave syrup, even then use sparingly.

Watch your salt

Too much salt or sodium in your diet can cause bloating, weight gain (water retention) and issues with indigestion. You don’t need to eliminate salt completely, sodium is necessary especially with intense exercise (think those sugar-sodium loaded sports drinks that aid in hydration), but when you’re cooking be conscientious. A good way to reduce up to 75% less salt in your cooking is to only use salt for your individual plate but not during the cooking process.

Fat free = Chemical shitstorm

Foods that boast a fat free content have gone through an extensive chemical process in order to remove the fat. These processes generally strip the foods of nutritional value where the manufacturers can add in sugars or sweeteners. The more processed it is, the worse it is for you. You’d be surprised at how little the FDA actually regulates the chemicals used in processes for human consumption. If you’re feeling adventurous, look up aspartame and the negative effects it has on the body- then look up how many products it’s in.

Cut back on your alcohol

Alcohol is 7 calories per gram, that can add up very quickly. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, causing a halt in muscle development and requires immediate rehydration. Alcohol metabolizes quickly and stores the calories as fat.

Protein…How much do you need?

Unless your goal is hypertrophy (muscle gain) the actual need for protein is overstated. What is more important is the quality of protein you are consuming. There are nine essential amino acids (meaning the body does not produce them naturally). Food combining to get these combinations is popular, or looking for foods that are a complete protein i.e. Quinoa, Soy, Meats and Poultry, eggs and dairy. 46-60 grams a day for non athletes is generally recommended with varying factors on age, gender and activity level. However, if you’re looking to maintain the muscle you’ve built a good ratio is 1gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Pretty easy right? 160lbs = 160g of protein a day. Seems like a lot, but it’s easy to get there ;]

Don’t avoid fats!

Healthy fats are essential for a balanced diet. There are a couple different kinds of fats. Polyunsaturated fats: These actually help lower your cholesterol levels and contain essential fatty acids (meaning the body does not make them, so you need to consume them), Omega3’s and Omega6’s. You can find them in nuts and seeds. Unsaturated fats: a good way to identify an unsaturated fat is remembering they tend to be liquid at room temperature while trans and unsaturated fats are solid. Try replacing your solid fats (butter) with coconut oil, or switch out your red meats for vegetarian or seafood options.

But don’t overindulge in fats

Everything in moderation, don’t go spreading 5 avocados a day on your sandwich…even though its delicious. Saturated fats- these are the ones we hiss and claw at…but taste so darned good that you know they’ve got to be bad for you. Found in butter,sweets and other dairy products.

Avoid the Three P’s: Packaged, Plastic, Processed.

A good rule of thumb for grocery shopping is to avoid the aisles if possible. The exterior shelving of the grocery store tends to have the most natural whole foods such as produce, grains, etc. If the ingredients have a bunch of stuff you can barely pronounce, it’s probably not good for you. If it comes pre-made in a can, box, plastic, or is packaged, it is more than likely not good for you. If the food naturally does not have a long expiration date (canned fruits for instance) and you buy canned fruit, it is generally loaded with additional sugar and syrup as well as preservatives (Think about it, a peach rots in about a week, but can be shelved for much longer) This doesn’t apply to traditional canning methods, as most are canned with natural preservatives, if any, without the chemical additions . There are obvious exceptions to this rule, but as a general guideline it is a good, conscientious way to shop for your food.

Balance.

The key to success is balance and moderation. So you ate a cookie? Congratulations, you’re human. Just remember not to let a cheat meal turn into a cheat day…or even worse a couple of cheat days where you fall off of the wagon and go on an eating rampage.

Follow these tips and you’re sure to clean up your diet and move on towards a healthier lifestyle.

New Year Resolutioners: Staying accountable during the Holidays

 

552177_303264943121802_2054235154_nGood Morning,

We’ve reached that time of year when we are surrounded by temptation. Pancakes, pastries, sweets and sugar. I’ve always been an advocate of living a realistic lifestyle, particularly when it comes to weight loss, but we’ve reached that time of year where people have a tendency to stray far off the proverbial wagon and adopt this attitude of “well, I’ll start January 1st.”

 

I’ll tell you a bit about January 1st. I see it each year. An influx of people rush to join gyms, determined to finally shed the weight, finally get the body they want by summer, work off the holiday horrors they’ve consumed and finally get their lives back. It’s no secret in the fitness industry that January is our busy season. January- March is where trainers, gyms, bootcamps and etc. make a huge portion of their money for the year. The sad reality is that this same rush of people that join on January 1st, typically disappear without a trace by February with nothing left to remember them by except an unused gym membership that is slowly decaying their bank account each month.

 

So I’ve wondered to myself over the years why this occurs. What has people so motivated at the beginning of the year, and what causes that motivation to fade into non-existence? I paid my dues as a resolutioner. There were plenty of times I had started, stopped, quit, started again, swore I was going to “really do it this time” spend twenty minutes on a treadmill and think that I got a great workout then reward myself with a pizza or a donut.

Motivation is definitely a key factor here. I call this the “Monday Mentality.” We all know those people and have probably been these people at some point in our lives. “I’ll start again on Monday.” New Year’s is just a Monday that only comes once a year. We place a lot of emphasis on New Years. New Year…New Me. I touched on this in an earlier blog, but you have to eliminate the Monday Mindset. It will always hold you back. New year’s is no different.

So you had some cupcakes or candy. Cool- move on and get right back on track. So you missed a workout? Figure out how to ensure that you won’t miss it again tomorrow and move on. Oh, Monday is chest day? Does the bench press get up and walk away on Tuesday? Days of the week are myths we tell ourselves to talk ourselves out of working hard and holding ourselves accountable.

The second thing I noticed with resolutioners and something I remembered from my own resolution days…lack of knowledge. Most people that join in January just don’t realize how much work it is to get the body they dream up. People seem to think running on a treadmill is the key to six pack abs and an hourglass figure. Or that by repeatedly curling dumbbells is the way to get massive biceps.

People go to the gym for three weeks; maybe, without any kind of plan. They don’t see any results or changes. They give up, they quit, they accept the inevitability that “working out just isn’t for them” and they try to get out of their year contract they signed at the gym.

 

The reality is, it probably took years to put on the weight and that it is going to take time and discipline to get the weight off. Weightloss is a science, building muscle is a science, getting stronger is a science- if you don’t know the formula, you’re not going to be successful. It’s like trying to cook without heat- you won’t get far. If this is something you want you have to be willing to put in the time, the effort, the study it takes to learn how your body works. What you need to eat, when you need to eat, how frequently you need to do your workouts, what your range is for your goals, the list goes on and on. It can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. There are entire communities and free resources at your disposal.

 

http://www.bodybuilding.com

http://www.simplyshredded.com

http://www.nowloss.com

http://www.liftheavyathletics.com

Are some sites that provide knowledge, gear, and tools to help you achieve your goals. And as always if you ever have any questions about your goals you can feel free to reach out to me. I’m here to help.

Don’t give up.

 

-Tai Rae

12 Days of Fitness

Good Morning readers!

I have decided in celebration for one of my favorite holidays I’ll be posting workouts for those looking to kick it into gear during one of the most dreaded seasons for gym goers. Combat the rich, and delicious meals with butt-kicking workouts!

 

IMG_20151125_084620This is one of my favorites that I’m torturing my clients with today. It’s called 12 Days of Fitness. To begin, you choose 12 exercises as shown below! From here you will do the workout as follows:

Round 1: 1

Round 2: 1 + 2

Round 3: 1+2+3

Round 4: 1+2+3+4 ~ All the way to twelve. The exercises stack and the workout gets progressively difficult with each round.

The number in front of the exercise corresponds to the number of repetitions (or time) that you will be doing for the exercises. For example: 1 is one stair lap; 8 is 8 lunges per leg.

I have a tendency to put ab work in rounds 9-12 but you can structure this however you’d like. Good luck and have a great workout. Feel free to use/modify this workout or come up with your own. If you come up with your own, let me know what you come up with!

 

  • Happy Thanksgiving,

~Tai

30 DAY FITNESS CHALLENGES, THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

30daychallengesI’ve seen ’em, you’ve seen ’em, everybody with an internet connection and a facebook account has seen one of these little guys floating around the internet.

They usually make their rounds through facebook, particularly in the new year and then once a month after that. The type of challenge varies but the format stays the same. 30 days to a new ass, flat tummy, or beach body.

I have mixed feelings about these challenges, which I’ll go over in this article- in particular I have one major bone to pick followed by an epiphany- but we’ll get to that. SO…Let us begin with

The Good

I’m going to honey-pot you, reader, with all of the things I love about these 30 day challenges.

  • They’re simple: Most of these challenges contain movements that most people are familiar with. The same grueling torture our physical ed teachers used to subject us to in high school. And there’s a reason for this- they work. Despite what televised fitness professionals will have you believe- that they’ve created the next, best new thing- most exercises are simply variations and combinations of the god father grand daddies of exercise. The Squat, The Lunge, The Push Up, The Crunch/Sit Up,  Jumping Jacks and The Plank. People see these exercises and they recognize them, they’re not intimidating, they’re doable.
  • They’re Convenient: With most (not all) of these little nifty 30 days challenges the only thing you need is your own body and gravity. Some of them will include some weights, or maybe one or two pieces of equipment, but reverting back to simplicity there is usually a regressed version of the exercise that does not need the equipment. Better yet, for those who are too intimidated to step into the gym just yet, these exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home.
  • They’re Quick: That’s the number one issue/complaint/feedback that I hear from people. “I don’t have enough time to exercise.” I think the longest amount of time I’ve seen on one of these 30 day challenge sheets totaled out to around 15 minutes- because it was Tabata style. For most people, once they do the challenge once, they realize that it’s not that big of a time commitment.
  • They plant the seed to develop a habit: For most, fitness is something that people have a tendency to start with relentless vigor and excitement…that quickly fizzles out after about a week. Due to the previous reasons, people are more likely to stick with the program, and get people excited about exercise.
  • Accountability & Peer Support: Most of the challenges are shared publicly on facebook, instagram, or whatever social media outlet chosen. Friends see it, they get excited about it, they decide to do it together. It becomes a “thing.” People remember, they ask the poster how they’re doing on the squat challenge. If other people are doing it (and doing it correctly, you’re supposed to share the challenge every day and post a hashtag) then your peer accountability factor rises.
  • Bragging Rights: On some of these badboys I see as many as 300 squats, or 100 push ups, or what not. Numbers like that are a big accomplishment for most. People want to be able to say “Yeah I can do 300 squats and I got there in 30 days.”

So, I went over some things that I liked about these challenges, now I’m going to go over what I dislike- but err on the line of being personal preference.

  • Overtraining just to force DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness): While most of these challenges have rest days, I see this mostly with the squat challenges. Because they’re a thirty day challenge, I think these creators make these challenges with the intention of making people hurt- for no other reason than to have people say “man that squat challenge is kicking my ass.” There was one I saw with 500 squats one day and 550 the next. I’m sorry, but there’s no world where 500 squats- even body weight, is even practical. I feel like when the challenge numbers are too high, even slipping into the realm of unrealistic it will cause someone to drop out of the challenge because they’re just too sore to do it the next day. Being sore is fine, being so sore you can barely move is not fine.
  • Not so clear instructions: Some things may seem like common sense to people who are familiar with the fitness world (like breaking up some of those high reps into sets if going to failure is too difficult. So 75 squats would be 3 sets of 25.) But the average person will try to the do those 75+ squats. The only time I’ve seen these challenges done well, is when it’s run by an actual fitness challenge site or page that provides instruction on how to do them and not just a simplified picture.
  • Creating imbalances: While it’s true, you’re not going to pack on a massive amount of muscle from doing a single exercise over and over again for 30 whole days, it still encourages muscle imbalances. You’re developing strength, endurance and if it is something such as the squat and it’s not being varied to activate different muscles, I feel like it could do more harm than good. Most of the time demonstrations are not given for the challenges- and a lot of people have a tendency to be quad focused when they squat (they don’t break parallel, they don’t activate their glutes coming up and they don’t have proper foot placement.) Or peopleThis is just encouraging bad habits unless people take the time to learn to do the movement properly.

Finally, there’s one last issue I want to go over in which I find is the biggest grievance I have with 30 day challenges.

The Ugly

  • Unrealistic Expectations: The challenges are meant to hook people, presumably to get shares and gain traffic to a site or page in ADDITION to hopefully inspiring people to get into better shape. It’s an unfortunate reality that our minds are drawn to a standard of beauty that we think we need to achieve. So these photos are usually depicting a perfectly round bum, a chiseled mid section or toned arms all placed on a half naked, tanned girl in a bitching bikini or pair of yoga pants.
  • Also, there’s the concept of 30 days.  Do you ever notice you tend to click on “Ten photos that will change how you think about dogs” or “5 steps to get him to propose” I don’t know why, but we’re hard wired to respond better to numbers. Again, while it may seem like common sense to people in the fitness world who know these challenges are for fun, rather than dramatic results- to the average person who does not have the background knowledge- people think they’ll do a ton of crunches for a month and have abs at the end of 30 days. Or they’ll do a ton of squats and their bums will have that perfectly round sculpted look. That’s just not reality. Most people also, don’t change their other habits while they take on these challenges. They stay eating the same, they generally do not supplement the challenges with any other forms of fitness and they reach the end of 30 days and realize that their butt and stomach doesn’t look like the picture. I feel like this leads to getting discouraged and thinking the challenges are bogus.

My final thoughts: I don’t love 30 day challenges, but I don’t hate them. I think they’re something neat, different and fun to do for the already fit. I also think they’re a good introduction to fitness for those who are new to it. As long as people don’t start them with the mindset that they’ll have these amazing results after 30 days, I think they’re beneficial. The challenge attached is one of the favorites that I’ve found, I think I may do it as something supplemental to my workouts. If you’re interested, feel free to send me a message, I’ll hold you accountable ;]

Have a great day,

Tai Rae.

Workout things…

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Something fun I had a couple of my clients do today. Do your name twice or do this with a friend or pick your favorite celebrity. (Norman Reedus is particularly evil)

If you don’t have medicine balls or a row machine available swap out with 30 squat jumps and 20push up planks. Stairs, run in place for one minute. Enjoy!!

Words

bekindToday I really wanted to blog about some things that have been bothering me. Fitness and helping people reach their goals is my passion. I don’t care where someone is in their journey, I’m always the first to say “right on” and ready to be someone’s biggest cheerleader. A big part of that is because I know how it feels.

Something I notice that is prevalent, particularly in fitness oriented social media is judgment. Personal trainer Cassey Ho released a video recently that really resonated with me. View the video https://youtu.be/PsL7W-GHhJA

People are so harsh towards one another when it comes to fitness. My message today is geared towards women, but it is just as apparent in the male population as well. In Cassey’s video there is a comment I’m going to paraphrase that is one of my deepest fears, “You’re a personal trainer? Really? Where are your abs?”

My body is always a work in progress. It has taken me a long time to get to where I’m at currently and I will spend years tweaking, changing, sculpting, developing strength and aesthetics. However, one of my biggest fears is that someone looks at me with the same incredulous look in their eye that I’m a personal trainer and that I’m supposed to have a certain body type to reflect that. I stay fit, I lift six days a week, I eat clean. However, my body is not perfect. I am constantly trying to improve and have come a long way from where I was.

progressphotoHere is an image from September of 2013, when I had broke my plateau and dropped from 180-160. I didn’t have much muscle definition as I was still a beginner. When I had a body space on bodybuilding.com, I wandered into the misc section and was immediately called fake because I refused to post a picture of myself holding a spoon. The cries of fake, then turned into lashing out against me, even after I had proven my validity to moderators. The comments left on my page were horrendous. They ranged from “Lose some weight you fat bitch” to “Your body is garbage.” As much as I’d like to say it didn’t bother me. It did. I was so proud because I had finally reached a weight I hadn’t been since I was 15 years old, and although I knew I wasn’t someone’s standard of perfect, I knew where my starting line was, where I came from, how I started at 280 pounds and had gotten down to 160.

Anyone who takes the steps to better themselves deserves positivity and an uplifting. And for the most part, that’s exactly what they get. From others who understand, from others who been there, and others who are inspired. Then you have those people. Where nothing is ever good enough to fit their ideal standard of beauty.

michelle-lewin-4-hPost a picture of a girl with abs and muscle and she’s “manly” and “gross” Post a girl who is around 23% body fat and she’s “too fat, and not toned enough.” Post a girl who fits into some societal standard of overweight and obese and …I don’t even want to repeat some of the cruel and heartless things I’ve read. Post a girl who is skinny and watch the “you need to eat a burger” comments fly.

Michelle Lewin (pictured right) is one of the most stunning women I’ve ever seen (and admittedly an idol), and I constantly see people ripping her apart.

We’re left with a feeling of never being good enough. I have lost 120 pounds, and I still don’t feel good enough for society, but I feel happy with myself. That’s a hell of an accomplishment, and not just the 120. Every 5lbs I lost was a reason to celebrate. Every time my body fat fell another percent. Every time I measured and saw growth and shrinkage in areas I wanted. When I noticed my glutes starting to round out and said so long to the pancake. Every accomplishment was mine to own, and should be yours as well.

I was happy at 22% body fat for the longest time (about 8 months). I felt confident, and I still lifted and noticed subtle changes in my body that I loved. My biggest struggle was not to push myself because of what I thought other people wanted me to look like, but to push for that dedication to my body when it is something that I was ready for. Now I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to shoot for a lower body fat percentage. Your fitness should challenge you, it should change you, but it shouldn’t make you unhappy.

BAA

Unfortunately, people can be cruel with their words. Behind a computer screen, you can say something that can hurt someone and log off without a second thought, but it will stay with that person forever. If you’ve ever been the subject of this cruelty, on behalf of the human race, I’m sorry. I can say don’t listen to them, ignore them, don’t let it bother you- but I know that’s easier said than done. The ultimate point I’m trying to make is, no matter where you get to- whether you’re happy at 30%, 25%, 15%, 12%- whatever, there is ALWAYS going to be someone with something cruel and heartless to say. Make anyone who ever doubted, regret they ever did, and anyone that hates on you or your progress- let them, from the sidelines, where they belong.

Stay positive, and stay lovely.

-Tai