Guess what? It’s still pouring outside!!! This weather will just not let up. To counteract the lack of sun I took two Vitamin D pills today instead of one. Bring on the internal sunshine!
Like I mentioned, yesterday was just as dreary.
My day brightened considerably when FedEx dropped a lovely package on my doorstep Some new SunWarrior protein powder! I finished my bag of SunWarrior Classic Vanilla Protein a couple of months ago and decided to hold off on buying more. First of all I wanted to see how my body would react without supplementing. Secondly, I am cheap.
So what happened?
In the last 8 weeks, I gained a lot of muscle. Since deciding to take my foot injury seriously, I stopped all high-impact activity and cardio and upped my strength training to 4 days a week. Two days upper-body lifting and two days lower-body lifting with some spin classes and bike rides thrown in for good measure. It was great switching up my training and shocking my body. It also allowed me to focus on improving on basic lifts such as squats, deadlifts, pullups, and pushups and really start lifting heavy.
Instead of feeling rushed to get in a total body workout with as many different moves as possible, I began to focus on quality over quantity.
This was my typical format on a weight lifting day:
1. 5-20 minutes- Easy cardio warmup. Typically on stationary bike.
2. 10 minutes- Mobility work and active stretching. For example: On leg days I do a series of lunges and glute bridges to activate the glutes and release tight hip flexors.
3. 15 minutes- Work on Big Lifts (squats, deadlifts, pullups, bench press) starting with bodyweight and ending with a heavy weight that can only last 8 reps. For example: On leg days I do one set of bodyweight squats then complete 3 sets of back squats at 80 lbs., 100 lbs., then 110 lbs.
4. 15 minutes- Supplemental Moves and Isolation Exercises. On leg days I add lateral lunges, stability ball hamstring curl, calf raises, etc. On upper body days I add bicep curls, row variations, reverse fly, lateral raise, etc.
5. 10-20 minutes- Cooldown and Stretch. I am one of those people who stretches after every single workout. Maintaining flexibility is important to me as a female and ex-gymnast. It also helps release tight muscles and prevents a lot of soreness and helps rehabilitate my muscles. I typically hold each stretch for 20 seconds.
In terms of my diet, I started eating more animal protein and less dairy. I have always shied away from meat and in the past would be satisfied with small bites. This past month I started eating entire chicken breasts. I also started to limit my dairy consumption after learning about the dairy controversy in my courses at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I am cutting out non-fat cow’s milk in favor of almond milk and am limiting greek yogurt consumption to 1 serving a day. I am also cutting back on cheese. This has been a challenge since most of my snacks tend to revolve around dairy. But now I am find that I am eating more of a variety of foods and increasing my veggie intake. Good news!
However, I have a strong emotional connection to cow’s milk and absolutely love the taste. Ice cream is my favorite food! So I know I can’t cut out the taste or texture from my diet for good. Instead I am transitioning to limited servings of whole milk for my coffee and full fat greek yogurt to help with satiety.
And I am bringing back protein shakes.
Protein shakes have a similar taste and texture to milkshakes. Basically I am substituting cow’s milk for protein shakes in order to fulfill my emotional desire! Sneaky. I will definitely write more about cutting out dairy from my diet in the future. It is such an interesting topic.
My go-to-shake for the last couple of days has been 1 frozen banana, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup berries, and Warrior Blend protein powder. It is a perfect afternoon and pre-workout snack! The Warrior Blend is a little more cakey than the original blend but it tastes pretty good.
With these changes in my training program and diet for the last 8 weeks, I have gained so much muscle and am SO MUCH STRONGER. It is amazing! I mean, check out my bicep!
My pants are not even fitting since my quads and glutes are huge! But the best part has been the strength gains. Pushups are easy! I feel so powerful and so able.
In order to keep my body guessing, I am switching up my workout regimen again! While lifting 4 days a week really accelerated my strength gains, it also put a lot of stress on my body. I was sore practically EVERY DAY which is a little ridiculous and my flexibility has decreased. Also while I gained a lot of muscle, I did not lose much fat. Overall I am bigger and would like to burn off some of that fat to reveal all my hard work!
So here is my new workout plan:
1. Full-body strength training 3 days/week. Still emphasizing major lifts with supplemental moves while decreasing volume. I want my workouts to be quick and dirty with an emphasis on doing supersets of a lower-body move and upper-body move.
2. Spin Class at least 1 day/week. This is my favorite form of cardio and has really improved my cardiorespiratory system. I heart intervals!
3. Yoga at least 3 days/week. I need more yoga in my life. It calms me and gives the perfect stretch. This past week I did 4 yoga sessions! I feel amazing.
4. Steady-state cardio 1 day/week. Not every cardio session needs to be crazy intervals. Sometimes my body loves to pedal on the bike for an hour while watching Real Housewives. I also enjoy walking in my neighborhood to Jillian Michael’s podcasts.
5. Foam roll every day. This sounds extreme but after reading a great post by Allie about the amazing benefits of her daily foam rolling routine, I am inspired to do the same. So far I have foam rolled 3 days in a row and my body is thanking me. No more insanely tight quads!
I am excited to start this new routine and change things up in the gym. It is always good to tweak your exercise program to prevent boredom and push your body in new ways! I always try to listen to what my body needs and change my program accordingly.
With that being said… time to hit the gym! Happy Friday 🙂