My Top 5 Tips for Creating Goals

It’s that time of year again. 2018 is soon upon us and everyone will be starting to make their New Year’s Resolutions, their goals for the new year of how they’ll change and what they’ll do. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for people making goals and achieving them, I myself am doing the same thing. However, I think that most people don’t know how to go about creating realistic goals that they can stick to as the year passes on. I mean you all have heard the jokes…and if you haven’t, see the memes below.

It’s funny, but true. But I don’t think it has to be this way. That’s why I want to share with you my top 5 tips for creating goals in hopes of encouraging you to write good goals that you’ll be able to actually plan, work for, and achieve!

1. See Goals Simplistically

If you view your resolutions for yourself as a daunting task or a huge deal, you’re likely going to quit out of fear. This also means that New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to only start January 1st. I am a firm believer that you don’t have to wait until the end of one year/beginning of the next to make a positive change in your life. However, if you make a big deal about your goals being New Year’s, you’re going to think you have to wait around until the next year to start them. Instead, think of your goals as just that…simply goals for you to achieve in the coming year, not only to start during a certain period. Also, seeing your goals simplistically voids the all-or-nothing principle, where if you mess up on just one tiny part of your goal you’re done for the year. WRONG! It’s not a big deal if you mess up because goals are just a work in progress for you to work on piece-by-piece all year-long. If you mess up, simply get back on track or start over–even if that means it’s August. Bottom line: Don’t make too big a deal out of your goals.

2. Make Them Realistic and Specific

This is probably my most important tip. All too often people make resolutions; however, they make them so unrealistic that they soon get discouraged and quit. Making realistic goals is so important to actually sticking to what you said you were going to do. What exactly is realistic is going to depend on the goal, the situation, your resources and past experiences, etc.  Also, creating specific goals will only help further your accurate achievement–the more specific the better. For example, let’s say someone put their goal as “lose weight”. Does this mean 5 pounds or 50 pounds? Without being specific, there is no end goal in mind. So now let’s say someone says they want to lose 20 pounds, (yay for specific), but doing so in 1 month is unrealistic. If someone set that as their goal, and one month later didn’t reach it, they may just give up on the whole thing, when in reality if they had said to lose the weight in 5 months, the situation may have been better. You don’t want to sell yourself short to make it easy to be lackadaisical (saying you’ll lose 20 pounds in the next 3 years) but, you do want to make sure that what you’re setting up for yourself is healthily attainable.

3. Make a Plan

Big goals can be scary and daunting to accomplish. Creating a plan where you break them down into smaller goals, can help you achieve more. Think of them as the stepping-stones to get to your final destination. Making a plan will also help you stay on track so that you can know exactly what to do to reach your goals. For example, I want to eventually be able to do 5 pull-ups in a row. Instead of daunting myself with getting 5 in a row, I’ll break it down. First, I want to be able to do 1 pull-up. Then, I want to be able to do 3 in a row. Then, I will focus on achieving 5 in a row. This of course applies to non-fitness related goals too. Say you want to change your mindset to being more positive/grateful by the end of the year–but this sets no timeline up for how you will achieve that because unfortunately, it won’t magically happen on its own. Instead you break it down: saying that you want to write 2 things you’re grateful for 4/7 days of the week. Then, once you achieve that for a few weeks, change it to 7/7 days of the week. Then, whenever something negative happens, you decide you’ll stop and think of a positive thing to switch your mindset. Breaking your goals down will help keep you going and give you small accomplishments to be able to celebrate on your way to achieving the end goal.

4. Set a Timetable

A timeframe for your goals will help you even further to have a plan-of-action. Without a set timeframe, many people will end up half-assing their progress and not really achieving anything that they want to. I suggest creating a timetable for both your end goal, and your smaller goals that you created as well. Going back up to my pull-up goal, I may set to get 1 pull-up by April 1st, 3 pull-ups by July 1st, and 5 pull-ups by October 1st. Or for the person wanting to lose 20 pounds, set a specific amount to lose each month or every few weeks to keep your progress on track.

5. Just Get Started

Lastly, this one is short and sweet. As Nike says…Just Do It! So many people wait for the “right time” or when life is less hectic. Let me just tell you, life will always be crazy busy and hectic, there will always be excuses and roadblocks; there will never be the right time, there just won’t. Instead, you just need to get over the hardest hurdle: starting. Once you get started, assuming you set realistic goals with a plan and timeline, you’ll start seeing positive changes in your life and you’ll be able to run with it: All the way to achieving your goals/resolutions. Starting is the hardest part, but I promise you it is the best thing you’ll ever choose for yourself.

3 Top Tips for Bulking

Now that volleyball season has ended, it’s time for me to do a true reverse diet/bulk. One where I am accurately tracking what I eat, weighing myself (and keeping track of progress), pushing myself in the gym…and then adjusting the numbers from there. I understand that in a society that praises leanness and always “dieting down”, or even in the fitness-industry when you see lots of people shredded from cutting, it can be difficult to embrace the bulk. Maybe not so hard to embrace the extra eating or feeling stronger in the gym, but hard to embrace the weight gain, the inevitable fat gain, the feeling of being, well, not so lean all the time. Don’t get me wrong there is definitely a way to do a lean bulk, but no matter what bulking involved putting on mass/weight. And that’s okay! If you want progress, if you want strength, and results, then bulking is a necessary–you can’t always be in a deficit and expect results that only come from a surplus.

That being said, there are times when it gets difficult. Surprisingly enough, it’s not always fun to be eating 2700+ calories, or easy to not compare your body to those around you, or to be in a mentally tough spot to continue bulking. I mean, hey, if it was easy everybody would do it.  But during this time there is room for tremendous growth–and I’m not just talking physical. With all of this, I thought I would share with you my top 3 tips for bulking. I don’t have all the answers, I’m still learning as I go (and grow), but these are at least things that I have found that help me through this process/journey.

1. still eat healthy

Probably  not the first thing you wanted to see, huh? But I’m bulking, so I can eat junk and fast-food every meal and still be okay, right? And while yes the purpose of a surplus is just to be eating more than you are burning, regardless of how the calories are achieved…BUT (and this is a big but lol) your body will thank you so much more for eating healthy a majority of the time. Still getting your micros in, still have most of your meals be consisted of lean meats, complex carbs, and healthy sources of fat. Why? Well 1) this will help you “lean bulk”, 2) you will have more well-rounded food groups, especially if you count macros, and 3) Your body will feel much better energy and health wise as well as just an overall feeling and functioning better. However, do make sure that you still enjoy the healthy foods you choose, don’t force yourself to eat something you hate just because #health.

2. find balance

Now, while yes the majority should come from healthy foods, there is still room for fun, enjoyable foods. The key is to find your balance and find what works for you. Some people do better on almost entirely healthier, less-processed foods, while some can incorporate more fun foods–find what works for you, your body, your life, your goals, etc. But no matter what, make sure that you do not restrict yourself entirely to health foods, especially during a bulk. You have extra calories, extra macros (usually carbs and fats) so take advantage of this time and enjoy the food you are eating! Be spontaneous and say yes to going out to eat or getting some dessert–you have the room to do so.  Trust me, if you completely restrict yourself of foods you want and enjoy, you’re going to be miserable during your bulk. My top tip here is to find the foods you enjoy and stick to those while bulking–a well-balanced mix of foods.

3. Push yourself in the gym

Lastly, while it can be hard to eat a lot of food or see your body changing, use this time to create new thoughts/feelings of strength and power in the gym. Put all that food to use by pushing yourself in the gym, in weight, in reps, in exercises, etc. Food is fuel here and the whole point of eating in a surplus is to have food to fuel your workouts and help your muscles recover from being under intense stress during your workouts. The feeling of building muscle, of getting stronger–both physically and mentally–is so worth it, so use that fuel to push yourself in the gym. However, make sure you take days off and time to rest/recover! Don’t push yourself hard 7 days in the gym or your body will never be able to recover properly, leading to no gains being made. Fuel, push, recover. Repeat.

So those are my top tips for bulking, if you have any others I would love to hear them below!

CPT Blog #1: Choosing ACSM

I’m so excited to be writing this series over the course of the next few months! Not only because I am passionate about getting my personal trainer certification (CPT), but also because it is something y’all seemed interested in too. This first blog is going to be on the most important first step: how to choose. I decided to become a personal trainer because  I want to help people live a healthier lifestyle. Even though my degree is in marketing, I’ve always loved lifting and had a passion for health/fitness/nutrition that I want to apply and challenge myself with.

No matter what the reason for choosing to get your CPT–main job, to go with your degree, passion, side job, fun, etc.–once you’ve decided to get your certification (great choice!), you need to select one of the many different organizations that offers CPT certifications. NASM, ACSM, ACE, ISSA…the list goes on. Although there are many, most of them are going to be equally accepted at gyms and most of your clients won’t even know the difference. However, the starting point should be that if you have your heart set on working for a certain gym, check with them to see what certifications they accept (most will accept NASM, ACSM, and ACE). Next step, is to do your research because each organization will offer slightly different things in terms of study plans, study products/reviews, workshops, textbooks, testing and retesting, etc. Although it may seem daunting, going through each website and checking it out for yourself is your best bet.

With that said, I narrowed my final decision down to NASM and ACSM because they seemed to be the two best programs. Please note this is not to say that any other wouldn’t be okay or if you already have your cert from one of these other orgs you’re “less”, just from my research I found these two to be my best options on account of offerings, credibility, and the organization as a whole. I did more research, watched numerous videos, and looked at the packages and I finally decided upon ACSM for 3 reasons:

1) ACSM seems to be the “gold standard” of CPT, the extra-mile so to speak, which caught my attention because I always want to be and do the best. You Again, NASM is still an excellent program and you learn essentially the same material–NASM even uses textbooks that refer to studies and research by ACSM. Personally, I felt that through research ACSM seemed slightly higher.

2) ACSM’s 3-day workshop.  While NASM has a live workshop, it was 1 day and seemed to be more of working out and some superficial application. ACSM’s 3-day workshop was in-depth studying of the material, applications, and tricks/tools for remembering material. The workshop received great reviews as being really helpful. It also is offered many, many times a year at all different locations so you can find the one that works best for you.

3) ACSM is science-based–something I was interested in knowing the science behind it all. However, NASM gears their programs towards creating workout programs, which is probably slightly more useful for being a certified personal trainer. Personally, I wanted more of the science and knowledge in my studies though.

Last step in after choosing your program is to choose the package you’ll buy. NASM does slightly better in laying out their different packages for purchase and showing the differences in what you get. With ACSM, there aren’t really packages, more of multiple different components you can buy to help you. This is one of the downsides to ACSM, my dad had to call their service number to help get understanding and clarity. With that said, I ended up getting almost everything I could to help me. This included: 3 textbooks (a resource textbook, a guideline for testing and prescribing, & a certification test review), prepU (online study course), and a 3-day workshop. All in all, I believe the ACSM is slightly cheaper (about $200) when comparing the two, but NASM does have cheaper packages for self-study rather than other resources.

Overall, you won’t go wrong as long as you do the research and take the time to choose the program that best fits you, your lifestyle, needs, resources, etc.

To the girl who wishes she looked like me

I was originally going to make this just a journal entry for myself but then I realized that this is something that needs to be said, and that people need to hear. My goal is not to shame anyone or make them feel bad, but rather to spread awareness and provide insight. With that, just a forewarning, these are my thoughts (sometimes deep, somber, and not always the prettiest). They be random and sporadic, but that’s because I let everything I’m thinking and feeling flow out onto here. Yes, it’s real, raw, and vulnerable. Yes, it’s tough to read–I can bet you it was 10x harder to write. I’m not good at opening up or sharing my feelings, especially on this topic, but the only way I’m going to be able to help just one person is through doing so. So with that, I thank you for your support in reading my inner thoughts to the girl who wishes she looked like me.

I hear and see the comments–not only to myself, but to others too–of I wish I looked like youI wish I was as skinny as youI wish I had “x” like you, the list could go on and on, but you get the idea. While the rest of the world may think that I’m lucky to look like this or lucky to be getting these types of comments, I absolutely hate them. Almost as much as I hate the comment “you need to eat a burger” (body shaming fat people isn’t okay, so why is body shaming skinny people?). I hate them for a multitude of reasons. First, I no longer want to be skinny. For over a year, I hated my body; I just wanted to be “skinny” and worked at becoming so, which only led to me to the mess of my eating disorder. And the worst part is, I was never small enough, even when I had lost almost 25 pounds, I didn’t like how I looked. I finally changed my mindset to wanting to get strong and put on muscle, to wanting to go away from being “skinny”. Granted, I have a naturally thin frame so I’m always going to be a little bit lean and lanky, but my point is that I’m no longer working against my body to be even smaller, I’m working with it to be strong and powerful. So when people say they wish they were as skinny as me, it makes me afraid of what they’re going to say when I stop being the so-called “skinny”–which I know shouldn’t matter, but mentally it’s tough.

Second, you may wish you had skinny arms/legs like me, or wish you had a smaller butt or stomach, but you do not understand how I got down to this point: my eating disorder. You may think you want to look like me, but you do NOT want to be in the same boat as me with how I got here. Ask anyone recovering or recovered from an ED, we won’t wish it didn’t happen because it’s helped make us stronger and who we are, but it’s certainly something we wouldn’t wish upon our worst enemy. Period. Because I didn’t just lose weight (and practically all or most of my muscle), I lost my period for 19-20 months (besides a few months of birth control, which doesn’t actually mean it’s a normal period). You may think yay sounds great, but do you know how hard it is knowing you want children one day and all of a sudden your body cannot function enough to do so, after having a period for almost 4 years straight? I also gained a whole new mental battle, that messes with my mind multiple times a day–it’s not something I can just turn off. I lost my relationship with food, being able to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full because I don’t get hunger cues. I lost my relationship with food in that I can’t just eat something because I feel like it–like a brownie, slice of pizza, or some ice cream–without feeling guilty, freaking out that the whole rest of my day has to be uber-healthy foods,  and being nervous to do so. My mind is constantly thinking about food: what I am going to eat, is it healthy enough, maybe I should eat more veggies, what’s the macros/calories, etc. When I see food, most of the time, all I see are the macros or calories in my head–using those to justify whether or not to eat something. And while I am working on these areas, and it’s not as bad as it used to be, this mental battle has stuck with me for almost 2 years now.

Honestly, for me, my ED is more of a mental battle rather than physical. I’m at a healthy weight, and still gaining. I’m pushing myself to eat and grow, but the mental part of watching the scale go up, and battling to find a new relationship with food is difficult. That’s why I hate these comments, because from the outside I may look how you want, but you have no idea the inner demons I’m fighting daily. Yes, I may be able to eat a lot of calories  right now (2700+) and gain minimal weight slowly, but that’s because I killed my metabolism and slowed it way down when I under-ate and over-exercised. I’m not in a lucky situation because everyday is freaking tough,  mentally and physically, dealing with the fear of food, guilt, bloat, digestion issues, pushing food when I’m not hungry, etc. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being bony, of seeing my ribs and feeling my hip bones when I lay down. Tired of wanting to to grow, but being scared of the scale going up and still fearing my relationship with food. Tired of feeling this way, but I’m only using this feeling to fuel me to become stronger and get out of this situation into the one I want to be in.

Lastly, it’s tough when I see/hear these comments because I spent a long time (and tbh it’s still something I struggle with) wishing I looked like other people. Before it was “skinny” people with shredded abs–people who I now realize after being in the fitness industry were girls on prep for bikini competitions, which is not a sustainable look. Now, it’s muscular, body-confident girls. And this kills me because in recovery I want to truly love my body and how I look for what it is and what it can do for me–not hate it because it doesn’t look quite how I want. We were all created uniquely to look and be different. You may say you want a stomach like mine or my legs, but then you wouldn’t be you! You wouldn’t be the person God created you perfectly to be.

So to the girl who wishes she looked like me, I so deeply wish that you would instead love yourself for everything you are. It’s okay to want to change aspects of yourself, to set a goal and work towards it…but that doesn’t mean that you can’t love yourself exactly where you are right now. Transforming yourself into the best version of you should be your goal, not into someone else you wish you looked like. There is no one quite like you, and I wish you would realize that and embrace everything it means for you.