(Continued from My Fitness Journey, Part 1)
As I described in my Summer Hiatus post, I spent the summer of 2011 in Dallas for an internship. Having never visited Dallas before, I was really surprised to see how involved with health and fitness the entire city seemed to be. At least for the young adults, the fitness culture was very strong. Hoping to catapult myself into the fitness habit when I returned to DC at the end of the summer, I made it a challenge to workout consistently while in Dallas. In my first few weeks in the city, I went back to what I knew—Jillian Michaels DVDs. This attempt was very short lived; my housing for the summer was in an apartment complex and the downstairs neighbors were not happy with jumping around emanating from the floor. With home workouts ruled out of the equation yet again, I returned to the very place where my fitness saga began: the gym.
Though the gym in the apartment complex where I stayed was small, it had enough to start a basic routine. After learning about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on various blogs and YouTube videos, I began coupling bodyweight cardio routines (i.e. burpees, mountain climbers, etc.) with free weight exercises. Since the smallest free weights in the gym were a set of 15-pounders (I had previously been using 5-pounders with the workout DVDs), I was forced to get stronger, very quickly. I also took up tennis and began playing once a week (in a 100 degree weather no less) with some coworkers from my internship.
Within a month of working out with the 15-pound free weights and killing myself in cardio drills I began to really enjoy working out again. Though it was tough talking myself into the gym after a full day of work, I always had this intense sense of satisfaction when I was finished. I began to increase the intensity of my workouts by running sprints on the treadmill or up and down the apartment’s stairwells. Just as with my food revolution, I also began reading a lot fitness information, trying to figure out how to better maximize my workouts. In short, getting in shape became really addictive.
When I go back to DC, my workouts stalled for about a month as I focused my attention on finding a place to live (my residence from the previous school year had a rent increase that I couldn’t afford), but once I was settled, I got right back into working out regularly. I even bought subscriptions to Oxygen Magazine and Muscle and Fitness Hers as gifts to myself to stay motivated. Both magazines have been extremely helpful as they continuously help me learn new weight lifting techniques and healthy recipes.
As of today, it’s been about 8 months since I’ve started working out regularly. I now average my lowest weight since high school (138 pounds) and I workout five days a week. My schedule is as follows:
Day 1: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Abs
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Back, Biceps, Abs
Day 4: HIIT Weight Training Circuit*
Day 5: Cardio (low or high intensity), Abs
Day 6: Rest or Make-up day
Day 7: Rest or Make-up day
*I accomplish this via either the Nike Training Club app for iPhone or the circuits from my Jillian Michael Hot Bod in a Box set. By the way, the Nike Training Club app is amazing and it’s free! Please download it today…
Even though my journey back to a fit lifestyle has been a little crazy, I’m so happy I’m finally back in the swing of things. My desire to lose weight and look “toned” is what brought me to this point but now that I’m here, I can honestly say I don’t really focus on weight or “toning” anymore. As I focus on lifting heavier and heavier weights and performing more and more intense cardio drills, I find that my weight and “look” take care of themselves. Now that my ultimate goal is to get back into competitive sports soon and maybe even join a local team, if start to gain a bit of weight as a result of building muscle then that’s just fine with me. For the first time since high school, I feel like I am well on my way with fitness…
Since fitness is such a big part of my life now, I really wanted to take the time to write this post to encourage those of you interested in getting more involved health and fitness and provide a starting point for all the future fitness post here on the blog. Here’s a list of helpful resources that I used (or currently use) to get back in shape:
- New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women by Cassandra Forsythe and Alwyn Cosgrove
- You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren (his website is good, too.)
- Making the Cut by Jillian Michaels
- The Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno
- Squeaky Gourmet by Maureen Jeanson
- ExRx.net (I use this site all the time to find exercises that work specific muscle groups)
- Bodybuilding.com (HUGE collection of fitness information. The have great 12-week workout plans for women, too)
- Greatist.com (Their “Complete Guide to Interval Training” is phenomenal!)
- Crossfit.com (My “secret” dream is to compete in a Crossfit competition one day
- The best article ever on being “skinny” vs. being fit (or why lifting weights won’t make you “bulky”)
- Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss
- Thin Thighs & Sweet Potato Fries
- Myomytv.com (great kettlebell and bodyweight routines)
- Military.com’s Fitness Center (are you Army strong???)
- Oh She Glows (vegan recipe blog)
- Precision Nutrition (clean eating made simple, plus this great article about cardio misconceptions)
- Pure2Raw (raw, vegan blog with interesting workout posts)
- Determined to be Fit (A fellow black woman who is into Crossfit!)
- Sporty Afros (two sporty, natural ladies who are based in my future city)
- Andia Winslow’s YouTube Channel (check out this crazy ab routine video)
- Nike Women Youtube Channel (Great videos featuring athletes demonstrating workout moves. And seriously, how sweet is this video?!?)
- Pinterest!!! (Check out my fitness inspiration board)
There are others I’m sure, but these are the resources I can think of off-hand…
Do you workout? Is fitness a part of your life? How does it relate to other things you do? Comment below.