Fitness Routine & Self-Esteem

Growing up, I was that tall, gangly looking girl that stood a head above her friends and was about half as wide as them. However, I was quickly greeted by a lovely thing called puberty. I have been approximately 5’1 since the 5th grade (all hope of growing has been lost) and went from being the tallest girl in the class to the shortest within a year or two. What I lost in height I gained in weight, which was fantastic for the self-esteem of a twelve year old. My grandmother even affectionately said once, “What happened to your chicken legs?” She didn’t mean any harm, but I haven’t forgotten that moment.

I suppose that I have always been concerned with my weight. It might just be my nature, but I remember hitting 60 pounds and crying. I don’t remember how old I was, but it wasn’t healthy for a girl so young to be so concerned about her weight. Anyway, the years following were spent equally as concerned about my size. While no more tears have been shed, I struggled with my body for many years. Naturally, I am built more muscular and bigger than my friends. They are all light and thin and proportional, while I have always felt out of place among them. I was not in a healthy place and I did not behave healthily. There were days where I would pig out on junk food, and others where I would barely eat at all.

It took a very long time and it was a hard journey, but I am finally on the way to loving my body. I know you have probably heard this time and time again, but the number on the scale is really all it is – a number. That number doesn’t account for the muscle on your thighs or the layer of warmth on your belly. Trust me, every body is different and sometimes the weight that classifies “overweight” can be wrong. I have a friend that has been “overweight” for years because while she barely hits 5’0, she is a ball of muscle. This girl probably has 2% body fat, but because she is so tiny and has so much muscle, her weight classifies her as “overweight.”

What truly matters is how you feel about yourself. No matter what, you’re beautiful and however you feel the most confident in your skin is perfect. However, part of being confident and beautiful is taking care of yourself, which means reaching your goal in a healthy manner. I know that starving yourself or throwing up seems like a quick and easy way to lose weight, but I promise you won’t feel the same when you’re so tired you can barely move and your hair is falling out in clumps. Eating disorders are not beautiful, but you are, so treat yourself like it.

Eating healthy and establishing a workout schedule has helped tremendously with my confidence and self-esteem. I also attribute a lot of my confidence towards my style, but that’s not what we’re talking about today. Whether your goal is to gain, maintain, or lose, a healthy diet and a consistent workout plan is essential for your body.

A healthy diet to me isn’t a salad for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a protein shake as a snack. A healthy diet is doing my best to eat balanced meals three times a day and choosing healthy snacks instead of junk food. Luckily, very little junk food is kept at my house, but sometimes I do reach for a Lindt dark chocolate truffle instead of an orange. That’s okay though! Balance also means eating your favorite foods, just in moderation. Having a chocolate isn’t going to ruin your diet, but thinking you have to eat all healthy all the time will. It’s important to still enjoy life and the little things as much as possible, so if you want a chocolate, just eat it – but stick to one!

For my gym schedule, I do my best to go at least five times a week. I do believe in rest days, so the maximum I will go is six days a week. Personally, I like to workout on my own, but there are so many classes available at gyms that are really enjoyable for a lot of people! If you’re not really sure where to get started, a class is sometimes a great option to introduce you to moves and exercises. Whenever I’m at the gym, I always do at least 30 minutes of cardio followed by legs and abs with a little bit of arms. I will list my typical exercises for each below!

Cardio 

  • 20 minutes treadmill workout – 5 minutes speed 4.3 incline 12.0, 5 minutes speed 4.3 incline 13.0, 5 minutes speed 4.4 incline 14.0, 5 minutes speed 4.4 incline 15.0
  • 10 minutes stairclimber workout – 2 minutes regular level 9, 2 minutes sideways climb level 8, 2 minutes sideways climb in opposite direction level 8, 2 minutes kick backs on level 8, 2 minutes tip-toe on level 9
  • 10 minutes arc trainer – level 20 and resistance 20

I believe that cardio is the most important part of going to the gym. I do my cardio before starting any other exercises and it preps me for the rest of my workout. I get to stretch out and warm up my muscles before engaging them in any type of lifting. I almost never run on the treadmill due to the fact that two years ago I tore my ACL and running on the treadmill causes a lot of joint pain, so I settle for speed walking on incline to reduce the amount of pressure on my knee joints. However, walking on incline actually does have a lot of benefits, so it works out! I’m also a huge fan on the stair climber. It gets my heart rate going while toning my legs. If I don’t have as much time, I usually will cut out the arc trainer and go right to my other exercises, but I still do enjoy the arc trainer. I go up as high as possible to really work my glutes and quads!

Leg Circuit (Complete 2-3x) – I use weight for these exercises but can be done without weight.

  • 24 walking lunges with 30 pounds weight
  • 15 Goblet Squats with 20 pound kettle bell
  • 15 Romanian deadlifts with 30 pounds weight
  • 15 Good-Mornings with 30 pound long bar
  • 15 Squats with 30 pounds weight
  • 20 Hip Bridges with 30 pounds weight
  • 10 (each leg) Lunges with back leg on small box
  • 10 Box Jumps with Squat
  • 25 Calf Raises on small box
  • 10 (each leg) Pistol Squats on bosu ball
  • 15 Goblet Squats on bosu ball with 20 pound kettle bell
  • 10 Sumo Squats with 20 pound kettle bell
  • 10 Sumo Squat Pulses with 20 pound kettle bell
  • 10 (each leg) Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift with 12 pound dumbbells
  • 10 (each leg) Curtesy Squat with 12 pound dumbbells

More leg exercises to try (3x each):

  • 15 Adducter machine on 70 pounds
  • 15 Abducter machine on 70 pounds
  • 15 Leg Press machine on 100 pounds
  • 15 Squat with squat rack with 85 pounds

Obviously, I do a lot of leg exercises. I carry all of my weight in my legs and hips, it’s just the way I’m built. Naturally, I have lean arms and a muscular back, so I don’t really focus on them as much. I concentrate on toning my legs and building my booty.

Abs Circuit 

  • 10 (each side) Side Bends with 15 pound kettle bell
  • 30 Russian Twists with 15 pound kettle bell
  • 40 Fingers-To-Heels Oblique Touches
  • 20 In-and-Outs
  • 20 Scissor Kicks
  • 20 Bicycle Kicks
  • 15 Feet-to-Ceiling Butt Lifts
  • 15 Leg Lifts
  • 30 Crunches on exercise ball

More Ab Exercises to try (3x):

  • Ab Crunch Machine

In conclusion, I want to make it clear that I workout because I love working out. I do not work out in an effort to be “skinny.” I am not that girl anymore and I am happy in my skin. I speak from experience when I say that exercise and a healthy diet will make you feel more energetic and happy, while also allowing you to become more comfortable with yourself and your body. Fitness is not an easy journey no matter what your goal is, so it’s important to be patient and keep with it.

I made this blog post because I know how it feels to walk into a gym and have no idea what to do. If you’re more comfortable with yourself without working out, then please don’t follow my advice! At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is you and your happiness – so don’t let anything get in the way!

Xx, Emy Diaries