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!

What I learned from 2017

I really can’t believe that it’s already 2018, it feels like 2017 was just yesterday (I had to). But seriously, I know people say this every year, but it really felt like it was just January 1, 2017. 2017 brought a lot of things I would have never expected going into the new year–both challenges and blessings–and I learned a lot reflecting back over the year. I originally wasn’t planning to make a post like this. But after realizing how much I actually enjoyed writing my post last year about what I learned from 2016, I decided to do one for 2017 as well. My goal with these reflections is to take what I learned from the previous year into the new year so that I can constantly grow and improve. So, Happy New Year, Happy 2018 and without further ado, here’s what I will be taking with me as 2018 continues.

1. You don’t have to follow the trend

This year, especially in the fitness industry, trends were flying left and right. Everyone’s gluten-free and going vegan; cutting out dairy, nope, now dairy is important. Follow IIFYM, now that’s wrong and you should eat intuitively, oh now here comes intermittent fasting. You get the idea. At first, I thought I needed to follow everyone else, but in reality, just because something worked for others does not mean it will work for you too. And that’s okay! Don’t eat (or not eat) a certain food, do (or not do) certain exercises, or live life in a certain way just because it’s “trendy”. The best thing you can do is find your balance and what works for you, and do just that. You can respect others’ way of life and encourage/support them while still doing your own thing.

2. Have a vision for your life

Life can be difficult, it doesn’t come with a road map or instructions –> so create your own! For a while, I was just living, going through the motions of life with no clear picture of my destination. But towards the end of the year, I realized the importance of having a vision for your life. A vision of what you want to do, where you want to go, and who you want to be. It doesn’t have to be very clear, just have an end goal that you’re constantly working towards. I know I have plenty of those for 2018.

3. Life won’t always go as planned….

Now with what I said about having a vision for your life, understand that just because you have a specific goal doesn’t mean it’s going to happen or turn out how you envisioned it. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t even try, but it’s important to understand that life won’t always go as planned. Sometimes it’ll take you on a detour, simply one exit down; and sometimes it will take you on a whole new highway to a whole new city you never planned for–let it happen. Learn to find the positives in everything and work in whatever circumstance is given; try to be flexible and go with the flow sometimes because honestly you never know where it (or life) will take you!

4. …And God’s plans won’t always make sense

At the time. When life doesn’t go as planned, it’s because God has bigger and better plans for you already–we just can’t see or understand them because we were made to walk with Him one step at a time, not 100 yards ahead. My senior year of volleyball was going great until two weeks in when I broke my rib. Think that was part of the plan? Yeah, no. I didn’t understand it at the time, and honestly, I still don’t know what God’s plan for that was. But I do know that God is in control, and if I keep trusting in him, He will be faithful.

5. Rest is important

Physical, mental, emotional. As much as we would like, we can’t continuously go-go-go 24/7, 365 days a year.We often try to push ourselves harder and farther than the time before, and it leads us to be worn out, burnt out, and just plain tired of life. I learned that rest is important to make progress in the gym, that I can’t push my body to its max day-after-day without rest. I learned that it’s okay to be emotional, that sometimes I need to rest from the “trying to be happy”facade I sometimes put on and let it out. My mind needs breaks from always studying, I need time to relax and enjoy myself. Rest is not selfish, it’s essential for living a healthy life.

6. Be confident

This time last year, I can safely say I wasn’t too confident in myself. I was annoyed at myself for clinging to “clean eating”, and I felt small and weak. I was not confident in my physical appearance/my body, in my inner being of who I was, in my character, in my identity in Christ. It’s a scary feeling to feel like this, but it was true. Now today I can’t say that I am always 100% confident in everything about myself, but honestly, that’s normal! Everyone has good days and bad days. But standing here today, I did learn that I can choose to be confident in myself and to do something about it. Believing in and loving yourself right where you’re at–imperfections and all–is such an amazingly strong feeling that will take you so far no matter where life takes you.

7. You’re in charge of your own happiness

Last, but certainly not least, this was probably the hardest thing for me to learn and accept. When you are unhappy, it’s not the world’s fault, or your significant other’s, or that boss who chose someone else to promote, or your professor who gave you a bad grade, or your parents who won’t let you do “x”. No, it is your own fault. Happiness is a choice, something that we get to decide to choose every day, every situation that comes our way. It’s not always easy to choose the positive way, but if you can learn to choose happiness despite your situation or your circumstances, despite your looks, your job, or your family issues, you’ll live a much more joyful life.If you’re not happy with where you are, decide today to make a change to get to where you want to be. Decide today to be in charge of your own happiness.

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!