My Journey Coaching Myself through this Bulk: Part 1

After asking on my Instagram, there seemed to be high demand for me to share my journey and experience coaching myself through this bulk. This of course is going to be a multiple blog series because I have so much to say, but in today’s post I want to go through the basics and outline of my journey thus far. One thing that I want to remind you before starting all of this is that everybody and every body is different. This is my journey that I am working on and what seems to have worked for me so please do not try to exactly copy everything I did/do. Use these blogs as a starting point for you, but adjusting everything to your body, past history, goals, lifestyle, wants/needs, etc. I’m not sharing this to say look at me; I’m sharing it to help those out there who are in the same situation or may be curious about transitioning into a similar situation as me. I know  a lot of people don’t talk about self-coaching because so many people have coaches, which is why I want to put as much content on this subject out there as I can. As always, I am always here to answer questions, talk, or just listen so please do not hesitate to reach out to me: comment below, email me, or DM on Instagram (@beyoutifully.healthy).

Last year, I’d been reverse dieting for a while, but during volleyball season (Late August to early November) it got difficult–we go out to eat a lot, on tournament days I would eat upward of 3000 calories most days, and then of course, I got injured and wasn’t able to workout for a month. So I decided as an athlete I didn’t need to track, and once season I ended I gave myself a two-week hiatus from tracking and working out before starting into my bulk. This was the week after Thanksgiving so I’ve been bulking from end of November to now or a little over two months. I have learned so much about the process, about myself, and this lifestyle in general throughout this. It hasn’t been easy, and I certainly have not been perfect–there have been many days I said screw it I’m still hungry, I’m going to eat. And part of me was okay with that due to my background of an eating disorder, if my body really needed more food who was I to stop it at this stage? It was a tricky balance because I did want to stick to my macros to accurately gauge my progress, but sometimes you have to do what you feel is best. However, overall I have been pretty in-tune and stayed on track so far with my bulk.

Now, I’ll go into the details of how I measured progress, when I increased my macros and by how much, where I started and why, etc. in a separate blog, but here I’ll outline a few things. After working with a sports dietitian for a few months and doing my own reverse diet (attempt) during the Fall, I had a general idea of starting my macros at what equalled around 2600 calories. Every day I tracked my macros, my weight, and how I felt/other important notes. It’s important to understand that bulking isn’t just about what your weight is doing, you have to take other factors such as digestion, tired levels, sleep, hormones, etc. into consideration too. Every week I would look at the previous week, compare it to other weeks and decide what my macros would do going forward. Essentially I did mostly everything a coach would do, minus sending in progress pictures because it was just myself. In this aspect, having a coach can be beneficial because they are an objective eye for progress and then tweak your macros from there–you don’t have to worry about the amount you just follow what it is given. However,  I promise you that progress is possible by yourself too. Now, I am not competing any time soon if at all. If I ever did compete, I would get a coach so that I could be more precise, but as far as my goals for right now, coaching myself is perfectly okay for me.

Lastly, I want to touch some of the things I’ve learned. First, bulking is not just physical. Most people think it’s all about gaining the weight and building the muscle and it’s not. Don’t get me wrong it is a big part of it, I mean essentially your goal in a bulk is to build your physical appearance so that when you cut, you’ll have a better physique. And it’s tough to physically eat as much as people do on a bulk.  People think oh yeah, I’d love to eat 3000 calories or bulking means you eat out all the time and eat lots of junk. First, off you may wish you could eat that much, but it’s hard. And don’t just use “3000” because that could be easy for some people, but those people are bulking at 4000 maybe. The point is that it is hard to shove more food down when you aren’t all that hungry or not even hungry at all. It’s hard to cut and be hungry, but it’s also so hard to eat a lot of food and always feel full or bloated, especially because you don’t get shredded like you do on a cut, you are supposed to be adding weight–muscle and fat. And this is where the fact that bulking adds a huge mental aspect to it too–especially if you’ve come from a background of an ED or body dysmorphia. So what I have learned to do is this: focus on things other than what my body looks like. I focus on my strength in the gym, on the fact that I get to eat a lot of yummy food; I focus on my PRs or the muscle I’m building or the fact that I actually have a booty now. I don’t have a coach to keep me accountable or you know to encourage me when I start doubting, so when  coaching yourself you have to learn to be that for yourself and this is one way that helps. Also, I highly suggest you get support around you whether that be in your family, significant other, friends, social media friends, etc. because they can help encourage you and keep you going.

I know this was long and a little scrambled, but I wanted to get my thoughts out and give y’all the basics. I promise that the next two blogs will be more focused on actually how to coach yourself/increase your macros as well as specific tips on coaching yourself. Please let me know if there is any specific questions, or topics you want me to cover in regards to this. Thank you for everyone who is supporting me on this and I hope you can learn just one thing from my journey too.

Top 3 Ways You’re Working Out for the Wrong Reasons

Are you working out for the wrong reason?

In the New Year, many resolutioners start off great, but about a month in they slowly start to fade away and stop going to the gym or veer off their nutrition plans. And not even just resolutioners, but anyone working out can easily be side-tracked away from it–especially if they are working out for the wrong reasons. I’m going to briefly go over the top 3 wrong reasons, and why. I want to preface this by saying that I am a firm believer in people bettering themselves at the gym, and I am all far whatever can get people to start going–even if it is one of these reasons. However, as you’ll read, all 3 reasons are extrinsic motivations, which if not transferred to intrinsic motivation, over time can cause people to easily drop off what they were doing for a number of reasons (more discussed below). So if the reason you started or continue to work out is one of these below, do not feel bad or ashamed–be proud that you’re doing something! But instead try to work on refocusing your goals intrinsically/internally so that you will have a greater chance for long-term success and making it part of your lifestyle!


1. Solely focusing on looks

Up first is probably the most common: working out for the sole reason of focusing on looks. Whether that be being upset at how your own body looks, being jealous of someone else, or wanting to be as insanely ripped, toned, muscular, skinny, etc. as someone else looks. And while this can provide a good spurt of motivation at the beginning, it can quickly tire and fade out. For example, if after certain amount of time, you;re not seeing the results you had expected or hoped for, it can feel discouraging and be easier to quit if you’re only focusing on your outer looks. Or especially in today’s society with social media, it can be so dang easy to look at someone else and start comparing yourself to them, which again can make you feel discouraged with your workouts, your progress, your life, etc. and make it easier for you to just give up and quit. Even if you get great results at the beginning, over time it is harder to make progress and easier to plateau. And even if you get the body you think you want, it really doesn’t automatically change your happiness level or anything–trust me I’ve been there when trying to lose weight. So if you have started to work out focusing on your looks that’s okay, but instead work on finding the enjoyment and benefits of working out such as feeling better, more energy, more strength, being overall healthier, etc. to continue to motivate you rather than appearance.

2. out of hate

Next up, sort of goes hand-in-hand with the first one, but a little different. This reason is when you work out (just as it sounds) out of hate, whether that be for your body, yourself, your lifestyle, etc. Again while this may motivate you to get to the gym for a little while, if you’re going out of hate, ultimately you’re going to start dreading it. And we all know that it is so so so much harder to continuously commit to do something we dread/hate. Plus, the mind is a powerful thing. If you continue to fill it with negativity, hate, and bad thoughts, more than likely your physical actions and life will reflect that. Now I’m not saying you have to love everything about your body and never want to change–that’s unrealistic. But you should work on getting to a place of gratitude for what your body has done and keeps doing for you such as keep you alive, allowing you to move and enjoy your hobbies.  Learn to love your body, and then work on changing certain things, not out of hate, but out of love and a desire to become your healthiest, best self ever.

3. for someone else

Working out, creating the best you and the healthiest lifestyle should be for you and you only. This doesn’t mean that you can’t want to get healthier in order to play with your grandchildren better, or so that you can be your healthiest for your significant other. But it does mean that you’re validation for continuing to workout should not come from someone else nor should you workout in a way you dislike because someone else thinks you should. For example, you here all the time that girls are only doing this or that to impress a guy. Well, what happens when that guy isn’t interested or moved on? Well their reason/motivation disappeared so they stop working out. When you only work out for someone else, then if that person isn’t impressed or doesn’t have the same reaction you expected, it can again get discouraging and you fall off the fitness train. Instead, find those intrinsic motivations such as the benefits and experiences that come from working out, to keep you going. You can still want to do it for your grandson, but change your thinking to working out to become healthier so that you can play outside with your grandson–not solely for your grandson, daughter, etc.


To wrap up, I’m not saying that starting for any of these reasons is terrible, but in order to have the most success, and long-term sustenance, studies have shown that intrinsic motivation is key. Instead of getting down on yourself, work to change your mindset and goals away from the externality of other people, looks, etc. Find the fire inside yourself to motivate and keep yourself going!

CPT Blog #2: Studying before the Workshop

Time for blog #2 in my “journey to personal training certification” series. This one is about how I am studying before the 3-day workshop (one of the reasons I chose ACSM). Although the date of my test is not for 2 months, the 3-day workshop is at the end of this month. I’ve read that the workshop is a great review of the information for the test, so although I won’t have studied hardcore by the workshop, I want to have read through all the information to get an idea of the concepts. There is no “one right way” to study, it really all depends on your time, knowledge, how you like to study, etc. However, I want to give you a basic idea of how I am tackling all of it.

First, I want to say that this whole process can be taken at a pace that works for you. I wouldn’t suggest you drag it out too long, but whether you have 6 weeks or 6 months, you’ll be okay. One of the reasons I started studying over Christmas break was because I knew I would have more free time to focus on it–that free time included studying for 2 hours 5-6 days a week. During this time, I started reading the textbook and taking full-on notes of what I was reading (see below). I know what I’m doing may be over-excessive, but writing it all out is the best way I learn and it helps me absorb the information. I highlight and underline important parts in the textbook, and take notes on definitions, pictures, diagrams, important information, etc. I am treating this just as I found what works taking notes for school–for each section, subsection, and so on.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I write a lot for a chapter, other times I don’t because I’ve absorbed it by reading (but most of the time I do). I also created quizlets for some of the basic terminology and definitions. The biggest thing I didn’t take notes on is all the muscles and bones. One because I know a lot of the bones and some muscles, but two, it’s a big thing I’ll have to just straight up study and memorize.

I’ve also been reading the notebook of guidelines for exercise testing to review the information.

Once school starts, I won’t be able to spend 2 hours everyday, but I am still hoping to get at least 30 minutes a day in, up to 2 hours on my days of no class. When I started back to class, I finished Chapters 1-13 (out of 22). I have 3 weeks until the workshop, so my plan is to read/take notes on 3 chapters a week that will take me right up to the workshop. Going into the workshop, as I mentioned, I already wanted to have a working knowledge of all the topics before I learned tips and tricks to hammer it home. And this is exactly how I am doing it. My next blog in the series will be discussing and dissecting the 3-day workshop I will be attending!

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.