Would you believe me if I told you three years ago when I lived in Charlotte I didn’t work out for a year straight? Yep (insert current me cringing). This is also coming from a girl who didn’t step foot in a gym until that freshman 15 (okay, 20) started creeping up sophomore year.
Three years ago, I had three main reasons why I wasn’t working out: 1) I worked a strict 8-5 job and didn’t have enough energy after 2) I didn’t want to pay for the expensive gym in Charlotte and 3) I had torn the ligaments bad in my ankle working out a year prior to the point where I was told only surgery was going to fix it.
Fast forward three years (2016) and after living in Charlotte, NC for two years, I had moved back to MA. After I was all settled into my apartment, I realized I had to get my booty into shape. Going out drinking plus late-night fast food binging was making me unhappy about how my body looked. I realized I had to make a change. I had also just started a new job at a marketing agency, which required sometimes working late to meet deadlines. After working an 8+ hour day and driving in traffic, I was barely making it to the gym. A crowded gym meant a machine I could never get on, and limited internet (shout-out to Planet Fitness, lol).
A couple months passed, and I began to think I needed a change. It seemed like the only option was going to bed earlier and waking up super early to fit in my gym session before work. Not only did this seem scary, but I didn’t think it was possible. I had always been a night-owl and NEVER a morning person. I’m talking a regular 9am wakeup.
Fast forward three years later, and I’m a heck of a lot more dedicated, knowledgeable about workouts and stick to healthy meals (unless it’s the weekend – because, yolo). I’ve become more toned than ever before (yes, even my college years), feeling more energized (even after eliminating coffee and caffeine from my diet) all while working a full-time job, and even shed some pounds in the process. The best part is, I’m feeling better about my body than ever before. If you’re like I was three years ago and overwhelmed with how to start working out, I’m sharing 5 tips on how you can take your workout to the next level.
1. Add protein in all your meals
This one’s huge. Protein makes you fuller throughout the day, so consuming it at every meal is key. For breakfast, I make a protein shake using this protein powder in chocolate and add in a banana and unsweetened almond milk. I like to mix it up, so some days I’ll use this protein powder in vanilla and add in some frozen strawberries, banana, and unsweetened almond milk. A couple hours before dinner, I’ll eat a protein bar for a snack. You have to be careful with protein bars, because a lot of them are actually super unhealthy and full of artificial sweeteners and fat. Two of my favorite protein bars I swear by are low in fat and carbs, but high in protein and actually yummy! For lunch and dinner, I’ll always try to add a protein in, such as steak, chicken, hamburger meat, or turkey meat. For my hamburger and turkey meat, I always eat one’s with the lowest possible fat (usually 96% fat free).
2. Stretch 10 minutes after each workout
After I tore the ligaments in my ankle, I was bummed. Not only was I in so much pain, but I didn’t have enough money to get surgery (which wasn’t even a guarantee). At first, I thought working out wasn’t going to be an option for me because of how much pain it was causing. When I started spending more time at the gym, I dedicated 10 minutes of my allotted two-hour workout session to stretching. After a couple months, stretching completely cured my ankle issue (knock on wood), and I was shocked! Stretching is a really powerful thing that can make- or- break your workout, which I think a lot of people don’t realize.
3. Pick a workout plan that works for you
When I first started working out, I started off by rotating every day with a new muscle to target (Monday – legs, Tuesday-back Wednesday-shoulders/arms, Thursday-abs, Friday- Miscellaneous) and doing the exercises my boyfriend showed me, while keeping track on my notepad and adding in more reps in the next time I was at the gym. The problem with this was it was getting confusing and I was getting bored with the same routine. Four months later, I discovered @oliviaostrom_ on Instagram, and it was life changing. (Yes, Instagram can be life changing). She has step by step videos on different parts of the body to workout (like legs, arms, abs, full body, etc.) and tells you how many reps to do and how many sets. This completely changed my workout and I actually got excited to work out because I was switching it up more!
4. Invest in equipment
Three years ago, I had never used a free weight. Today, I incorporate them every day into my workouts. Heck, I like them even better than the machines (this may partially might have to do with the fact that there’s a lot more than machines, hmm). Guys, this equipment doesn’t even have to be expensive. These amazon prime glute bands (under $20) are a perfect way to activate your muscles or try a fun new workout if your current one is boring you. I also swear by these wireless headphones. I never had a pair until I got these and quickly realized I can never go back! Lastly, this water bottle not only keeps your water ice cold for days, but also is super cute. See the rest of my favorite gym equipment here.
5. Treat yourself to some cute workout clothes
There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning and having nothing to wear to the gym. Or, having something to wear but it doesn’t fit properly and you’re tugging your pants or shirt up the entire time and want nothing more than to leave ASAP. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tempted to leave the gym because my pants were not squat proof, or were falling down when I was running on the treadmill. This is why you should buy some quality pieces. These don’t have to be expensive either… super nice quality pieces with good price points DO exist. They don’t have to be hundreds of dollars. In fact, I never spend over $25. You can check out some pieces I love from Amazon here.
Here’s more of my favorite fitness items below at great price points – I own all these items and love them!