I know that there are a lot of women out there afraid to lift weights or don’t know how to go about transforming their body. When did you decide to start your fitness journey? What made you start? How long did it take you to get where you are today?
Well for me it really started by accident. I was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 14 and struggled with it for many years. I spent most of high school and college in-and-out of treatment programs for the eating disorder. I’d managed to recover for a while, but then relapsed again in 2005. It was a slow decent into the disorder and I had a hard time climbing back out. I’d wanted to recover, esp because I didn’t want my daughter growing up with a sick mommy. She was growing up quickly and I knew that if I didn’t change, she might start emulating some of my behavior. I had started to gain weight and it was primarily body fat. I hated it, even though I was still clinically anorexic. I knew I had to keep gaining, but I felt so fat that I wasn’t sure how I could keep moving forward. One day I had an idea. I pulled out a set of 5 lb dumbbells from my closet and dusted them off. I had no clue what to do with them so I pulled out an insert from one of my magazines and started doing some of the demos. My passion for lifting developed very slowly into what it is today. I gradually increased the weight that I lifted, buying more and more sets of dumbbells and eventually a barbel set with lots of plates and an Iron Gym pull-up bar. I’m now lifting heavier than I would have imagined possible. Over the course of the past 3 years I’ve gained 20 lbsand lot of lean mass! I’m feeling better now than I ever have at any other point in time. I’m still a small person at 5′1″ and 100 lbs. I still wear a size 00. But I eat and I lift and I’m very healthy, probably healthier than I’ve ever been.
How many calories do you eat a day? Do you follow a certain macro percentage?
2500 on average. I’m not sure about my macro percentage, but my primary goal is to get at least 1-1.5 grams of protein per lb of body weight, then just fill the rest in with healthy fats and complex carbs. But I don’t aim for a certain macro percentage so I’m sure it changes quite a bit. Some days I’m sure I’m consuming more carbs than others, some days more fats than others, but my protein intake pretty much stays the same.
What does your typical training schedule look like? (how many days do you strength train and do cardio?)
I had been doing a training split, but I’ve recently switched back to a full body routine. I’ll usually do the split in the fall and winter months while I’ll do full body in spring and summer. It’s just good for both the mind and body to switch things up. Right now I’m training full body 3 times per week. My training sessions last about 2 hours each, not including cardio. I generally do cardio 5 or 6 times per week, anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes. I do a lot of walking (6 miles at a time) and also cardio videos, esp. Cathe Friedrich’s Kick Punch and Crunch as well as Jillian Michael’s Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism. What does a sample day of meals look like for you?
Meal 1: oats, scoop of whey, tbsp peanut butter, and a splash of milk (mixed all together after cooking oats in water).
OR Greek yogurt with low fat Granola
Meal 2 (post workout): scoop of whey mixed with water; bowl of cereal (any kind that is low fat/low fiber so as to not interfere with digestion PWO) with milk
Meal 4: Balance Bar or Greek yogurt with lowfat Granola; piece of fruit
Meal 5: chicken cooked in olive oil; sweet potato; green veggie
Meal 6 (before bed): usually scoop of Xtreme Formulations Ultra Peptide 2.0 (casein/whey blend) mixed with milk.
In addition to the above, I’ll also snack on a square or 2 of dark chocolate, an extra piece of fruit, extra peanut butter, etc. But that is variable for me, depending on the day and how much I’ve worked out. I also include plenty of “cheats” in my plan. I’ll get pizza once a week, eat out once a week, then maybe get fast food once a week. I’ll also indulge in smaller things throughout the week like maybe baked cookies or an ice cream cone. Little splurges that make eating healthy doable in the long-term and decreases the “black and white” thinking that many people have with regards to food.
What is your favorite go-to meal?
I like the oatmeal with whey and peanut butter combo and also the Greek yogurt with lowfat Granola. I could pretty much eat either of those anytime. Easy to fix, filling, loaded with protein, and delicious.
What do you typically eat pre- and post- workout?
Pre-workout I generally eat breakfast, so the oats/whey/pb/milk combo and then post-workout I always have a scoop of whey mixed with water and a bowl of cereal. Any kind of cereal, just whatever I’m cravingI just make sure it is low fat/low fiber so that it’s digested quickly and doesn’t hurt my stomach. Sugar is fine post-workout especially, so even things like Lucky Charms are fine.
Squats! Second would be deadlifts (SLDL’s) and then good mornings. For cardio I love to walk and that is what I do the most. I put on my headphones and generally walk 90 minutes at a time (6 miles).
I know we all want to know.. what do you do for those abs?
Believe it or not, not much. I always do crunches on my stability ball at the end of my full body workouts, so 3 times per week. I utilize explosive movements and work them in a high rep range (50). By contrast, when I train all my other body parts I work them with slow and controlled movements in a lower rep range. I also do hanging leg raises, 3 sets of 12 reps. In total I probably spend 30 minutes per week working abs directly, broken up into 10 minute segments per workout. But they get worked a lot indirectly from heavy liftingI think that has been key for me. Plus genetics and keeping my body fat low.
How do you stay motivated?
Honestly I’m not sure. But I think the key is drive. Because motivation comes and goes, but if you’re driven then you’re going to workout even if you don’t necessarily have the motivation. I think that drive in part comes from loving the strength that lifting gives me, not only on the outside, but on the inside. I love the way I feel after an intense workout. I love that this has been my way out of the anorexia and that is what keeps me going. Without this, I don’t think I would have been able to recover and if I don’t keep doing this I don’t think I could stay recovered. So for the rest of my life I’m going to lift. It has become as much a part of my routine as brushing my teeth. Most importantly, I love that my daughter now has a healthy, happy mommy in her life and I want to ensure that I say that way.
Do you have any tips for anyone who is trying to gain muscle and “look more defined”?
Don’t be afraid to eat. Calories are necessary to fuel workouts and provide muscle growth. Go slowly so as to not put on too much body fat. Depending on where you’re starting, it is possible that you’ll have to go through a bulk cycle and then a cut cycle afterward, but if you don’t step outside your comfort zone you’ll never achieve your best potential. Lift heavy and intenselyvery important!
What advice do you have for women who are afraid of “bulking up”?
It’s really hard to do! We just don’t have the testosterone. I’ve been either at or above maintenance in calories for almost 3 years now and have been lifting heavy and intensely for 2 and I’m not even close to being bulkyand I have some mesomorphic traits!
Any last advice or tips for women out there?
Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Lift heavy, put away the little pink dumbbells. Lift like a guy and look like a goddess. Eat. Food is fuel, not your enemy.
Wow, what an amazing woman, right? She is healthy, fit, strong, and still looks feminine. Now, you all go pick up some dumbbells