Mental Health · Nutrition · Workouts

Why resting is as important as the workout

So in writing all of these blog posts, I’ve realized I failed to mention something somewhat important to me and my fitness journey: I’m dating a personal trainer.

To be clear, I’m not doing this blog because of him — I’m doing it for me. I’m incredibly lucky to have him supporting and motivating me, offering me tips and, yes, sometimes training me. I’ll admit that sometimes I get self-conscious when comparing my athleticism to his but I also know that I bring other things to the table (I’m a mad oboe player, y’all).

I bring this up because my boyfriend has really helped re-frame the idea of workout recoveries for me. Some myths I used to believe about post-workout recovery:

  • Being sore is the goal forever and always
  • When you workout, you can veg as much as you want the rest of the time
  • Eat what ever want post-workout
  • If you feel fine, you don’t need to recover

For fitness newbies like myself, it’s hard enough getting to the gym in the first place. But having to think about what happens after? Why does that matter if I already did the hard work?

Well as it happens and is the general consensus, the post-workout recovery time is when your muscles actually start to grow. So resting is just as important as the workout. Aha, my laziness finally comes in handy!

Well, sort of. I’ve learned from my boyfriend* that recovering doesn’t just mean an excuse to munch on some Ruffles in front of your favorite movie (not ashamed to admit my favorite movie is “The Sound of Music.”).

But resting and refueling is important, especially after an intense workout. And how you recover will all depend on the type of workout you do and how new you are to it. When I first started weightlifting, my muscles hurt so badly that sitting on the toilet was an exercise in torture. Now? I can sit on the toilet no problem! Take rest days for as long as your body is telling you to (but seriously, don’t use that as an excuse to rest indefinitely).

If you’re totally new to working out, take it easy and rest well. I’m good at that. But I’ve been working out long enough that my body feels fine engaging in active recovery like a nice hike, a ballet class, some body weight workouts, or chasing my cats around the yard.

And obviously crucial to the rest period is sleep. I’m an occasional sufferer of insomnia sometimes due to stress and anxiety, sometimes because I can’t tear myself away from my phone, and sometimes because Mercury was in retrograde and sleep just wasn’t in my cards. But sleep is so important to your mental and physical health, so please ignore all advice that you should squeeze that workout in and sacrifice an hour of sleep. And to get a good night’s sleep, don’t workout too close to bed time. 

Eating the right foods before and after working out is important too. There are a million zillion blogs out there with recipes of what to eat before and after and when, so I’m not gonna go there. But the general consensus, again, is to get some protein and complex carbs into your system to both fuel your energy and help you maximize recovery. It seems like silly, obvious advice — don’t forget to eat! — but something I often forget. Just the other day I skipped a meal before some tough cardio and man, I felt awful afterward. Don’t do that.

Lastly, take your recovery seriously! I know that I used to treat the time between workouts as my “reward” for being active and an excuse to be lazy. And on the flip side, gym addicts might see rest time as unproductive and being lazy. But seriously, take it seriously!

Looking for other advice on post-workout recovery (or anything about fitness)? Checkout my new Pinterest board:

I’ve also started a new YouTube channel with videos of my workouts and, *special bonus,* videos of my adorable, temperamental cats:

 

*Disclaimer: In case you’re wondering the validity of my boyfriend’s advice don’t worry, I triple fact-check everything he says. As a former reporter, he’s used to my incessant questioning like “Do you have data or research to backup that claim?”

 

 

Nutrition

7 things I’ve learned about nutrition and “eating right”

On my quest to becoming a healthier me, I’ve realized I don’t just need to move more to get healthier. I should probably that bag of chips for some vegetables. Ugh, but why?

Why is “eating right” so hard?

I partially blame it on the endless options and opinions out there on what constitutes “good nutrition.” And the food “trends” just make everything worse. Is gluten free everything really any better for you?

I grew up eating what is (or maybe used to be) the typical American diet: Meat, starch, and the minimal acceptable amount of produce. I loved soda. Growing up in an Asian household, rice was its own food group.

But as I get older, my body just can’t handle the junk it used to. I now have serious regrets when I eat an entire cheesecake (yes, I’ve done this multiple times…). So I’m relearning how to eat food that not only tastes good but makes me feel good, food that fuels me and doesn’t just squash that grumbling noise in my stomach.

It’s definitely a daily struggle but these seven tips have helped me stay on track:

  1. Don’t eat when you’re bored : I blame it on smartphones: I’m never simply content just doing one thing at a time. I need to be constantly entertained. If I’m Netflixing and slightly bored I’ll scroll through my phone, and when I’m bored with both of those I eat mindlessly. Instead of just policing myself, I’m trying to practice mindfulness and just enjoy doing one thing in the moment.
  2. Don’t buy that thing you want. You know what I’m talking about: For me it’s chips. If I’m hungry shopping, I cave and buy them. I gotta stop hungry shopping.
  3. Plan ahead: In order to avoid impulse buying In and Out, I’m trying to plan my meals somewhat in advance. I’m not great at this but I’m starting by having simple ingredients on hand for simple meals.
  4. Cooking is not that hard: While I’m a terrible planner, I do love cooking. So it’s really not a chore for me! I do hate dishes though…
  5. Buy on sale, in season: I’m on an extremely limited budget, so buying out-of-season, organic strawberries is never an option of me. But in-season strawberries are. And they are soooo much tastier.
  6. Stop limiting yourself then going HAM when it’s “cheat day”: I’ve never had a “cheat day” because, let’s be honest, most of my days are cheat days. But my friends who have tried this act like they’re suffering 6 out of  7 days a week then go crazy for junk food on day 7. I ask them “Why are you torturing yourself like that?”
  7. Learn to enjoy food: Speaking of, when did eating become such a chore? There are a million ways to eat vegetables, so why are you continuing to get that boring salad that you hate eat? I’m never going to stick to healthy habits if I hate them.
Body Image · Mental Health · Nerd Stuff · Nutrition · Workouts

Why am I doing this?

Everybody nowadays, it seems, is busy. Like scheduling every little task, outing, chore down to the minute busy.

All the “experts” say you should start creating healthy habits when you’re in your twenties. When I was in my senior year of college, I was way too busy to think about being “healthy.” I was trying finish a four-year degree in three years, writing for three campus publications, interning for two magazines and applying furiously to jobs all the while living off a limited food budget that could afford me spaghetti and rice and beans (though there was plenty money for beer, oddly enough).

Then at the ripe old age of 20, it was as if my future self came back to warn me If you don’t take care of your body now, you are so gonna feel later. That warning sign came in the form on debilitating back pain. It started as a sharp pain in my low back that traveled through my glutes down my leg.It lasted anywhere from a week to a month at a time.

Several years and dozens of trips to physical therapy later, I am finally not too busy to take care of my body. It took several years coping with the pain to realize that taking care of my body is just as important as my career, my social life, or binge-watching the last season of Game of Thrones before the new season starts.

But I’m not any less busy than I was in college. It has been a struggle to stay active when I, like many others, have so many competing priorities. That’s why I started this blog — to have a goal to work towards to keep me motivated and keep my health a priority in life.

The goal: attend my first powerlifting competition within a year. I’ll be working out 3-4 days a week doing mainly strength training and cardio (though I also do Pilates and ballet for fun). I’ll be filling in all you lovely readers with my progress (and inevitable challenges) each week and what I’ve learned along the way!

Want to know more about me and why you should follow my blog? Read this!