Quick Update: Physique, Diet, and Fitness

Why hello there!

Want to dissect my brain? Of course you don’t. That would be utterly disgusting and I would die. Let’s not do that.

Jokes aside, I’m currently caffeine-high from my daily dose of chocolate in the form of chocolate Teddy Grahams, which I’ll get into later in this post, but for now, let’s get into the nitty-gritties right away, shall we? It’s been more than six months since I’ve started bulking, which I’ll admit, shifted from clean to dirty time to time. So far, since my starting weight, I have gained a very reasonable amount of mass. My current weight tends to fluctuate in a seven-pound range–my minimum being the heaviest I ever was in junior year, and my maximum being the heaviest I was in my sophomore year.

With that being said, I think I can safely say that I’ve put on at least four pounds of muscle. Six months with only four pounds of muscle may seem like a completely utter waste to you, but firstly, I didn’t take my bulk as seriously as I should have until the end of my college quarter when I lost weight from stress, and secondly, it is pretty much impossible to gain more than one pound of muscle per week if at a rapid pace. My bulk is meant to move steadily. I’m proud, not satisfied. That’s all I can say about how I feel.

Before (L) and after (R): taken a month apart. (And I didn’t realize it until now…my left hand looks awfully pale!)

Body image is another aspect of my life that I’ve slowly nurtured. I still have a long ways to go. It’s easy for me to accept all shapes and sizes of other women (and men, of course) and applaud those who embrace their curves, body rolls, cellulite, stretch marks, and many more. I’ve seen myself thick, thin, chubby, slender, and even a little muscular. For now, it’s not about redefining the beauty standards for myself, but finding the beauty in every single size I wore in my lifetime. Yes, even when I was overweight.

Eating has consistently and slowly increased, while I’ve still been tracking to make sure I don’t undereat. My goal for next year is to use my food diary only once or twice a week rather than daily, but I’m still working on adjusting my intuitive eating patterns before I can do so. Most of the time, it’s been relatively easy to pile more food on the plate. What can I say? I love my carbs! With the increased intake, I’ve felt a lot more energetic in my workouts. I sweat in the earlier part of my session–not just because of the heat wave–instead of midway or later, and I feel as if I recover more quickly unless if I seriously go in it for the kill. My bowls and plates went up at least three sizes.

Even though my appetite naturally grows with more physical activity, I still make sure I listen to my body and eat plentifully for my needs. Heck, I’ve learned to enjoy oats, ice cream, and tacos on rest days, which are foods that I would practically limit all the time several years ago!

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Still obsessed with bean pasta! This is a red lentil pasta with Brussel sprouts, caramelized onions, butternut squash, Rosemary, and a vegan Vietnamese curry loaded with onions, carrots, and potatoes!

For some reason, I haven’t touched the peanut butter jar in a long time–it’s not something I crave on the daily, anymore! Now I eat TONS of fruit, popcorn, oats, beans (bean pasta is one of my favorite ways to sneak in more protein and fiber, veggie patties, greens, rice, vegetables, avocados, and nutritional yeast! I still eat plenty of tofu, but not nearly as much as I used to. Not-so-surprisingly, I haven’t touched mock meat since the trip. Vietnam put me on a soy overkill, if I say so myself. Oh yeah, and even though I exceed my daily fiber requirements all the time, my fiber consumption has nearly doubled. No indigestion here. Too much?

Psychological and mental relationship with food has healed immensely. I no longer find myself worrying too much about overeating, and not so much undereating, either! I lose weight on days I’d think I’d gain, and vice versa. The body is so complex that I’ve gotten past the paranoia of sticking to a range of calories. However, I do still analyze nutritional information and ingredients. Doing so has enabled me to heal my relationship with food and breaking past anxieties.

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Take Teddy Grahams, for instance. They were deemed as an unhealthy snack for the longest time–at least in my own mind. Once I found these amazingly delicious chocolate My Super Cookies that tasted and looked just like chocolate Teddy Grahams, I was instantly hooked! If you look online and analyze the nutrition information, they are nearly identical in terms of calorie content, fat, carbs, sugar, fiber, protein, everything! However, if you are allergic to gluten, nuts, and prefer organic ingredients, then My Super Cookies is a better bet. But as a consumer who can eat almost anything that isn’t dairy, I’ll gladly take my Teddy Grahams if it’s the only option!

As of now, I have learned that calories are merely units of energy that help increase body temperature (which is why you tend to sweat when you eat a large amount of food). Even though they are absorbed by the body in pretty different manners depending on the dominant macronutrients, sometimes, it’s really not that serious. If you want a serving of Oreos but fear that you should be consuming the same amount of calories in fruit or vegetables, then make sure you’re getting your whole foods before the treats. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with a mini-indulgence to bring sanity to the mind. So don’t hate on Oreo lovers.

Okay, now for exercise, which probably involves the most change. Basically, I no longer do steady-state cardio such as biking, jump-roping, running, swimming, and anything of that sort. Every session, I strength train at least two upper body parts–most of the time, I pair shoulders and deltoids with chest, biceps and triceps, and back with lats–and incorporate HIIT and/or strength and toning exercises.

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Training sessions are still an hour and a half, sometimes a little more to sneak in some form of warm-up and stretching, whether it be ab work or static stretching (while in Vietnam, they were sometimes forty-five minutes or an hour long). I’ve gotten much better with general recovery by stretching consistently and taking rest days seriously.

Here’s what a sample routine looks like:

  • 5 minute warm-up
  • 15 minutes of HIIT
    • 1 minute intervals of jump squats x 3
    • 1 minute intervals of mountain climbers x 3
    • 1 minute intervals of push-ups x 3
    • 1 minute intervals of burpees x 3
    • 1 minute intervals of jumping lunges x 3
  • 30 minutes of strength training with weights (dumbbells are 8-15 lbs)
    • 10-15 reps of front raises x 3
    • 10-15 reps of chest flies x 3
    • 10-15 reps of lateral raises x 3
    • 10-15 reps of shoulder presses x 3
    • 10-15 reps of upright rows x 3
  • 45 minutes of body-weight strength training
    • 20-25 reps of alternating lunges (som
    • 1 minute intervals of mountain climbers x 3
    • 1 minute intervals of push-ups x 3
    • 1 minute intervals of burpees x 3
    • 1 minute intervals of jumping lunges x 3
  • 5 minute cool-down

Of course, this all varies with my schedule and how sore or refreshed I feel when I wake up! And yes, my cool-down works yoga-style. Now that I’ve gotten more interested and informed about yoga exercises, I can perform them a bit more easily!

Whelp, I hope you enjoyed this quick little update on everything that’s been occurring in my health and fitness life! So far, I’m really happy with where I am right now and I look forward to the progress that is yet to come. Ultimately, my goals are geared towards gaining toned muscles, regaining my cycle, and balancing out my relationship with my health. I think that this routine will really benefit all of those, but I’m always open to suggestions (so as long as they’re executed nicely). Thanks for reading, everyone!

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