My beautiful blog friend, Rachel, writes a series on her blog called “Buff Beauties.” I was honored when she asked me to participate! Here’s my interview and be sure to check out her blog and like her Facebook page. She has great insight into the health and fitness world and we have similar views when it comes to balancing a healthy lifestyle and having fun while doing it :).
Roles: Student, Blogger at HealthNutJulie.wordpress.com, Health and Fitness enthusiast, Future PR professional, Daughter, Sister, Friend
1. How did you get involved in exercise?
I was a dancer all the way through high school. When I got to college, I continued eating the same amount that I was as a dancer, but barely working out. I didn’t gain a lot of weight but I started to notice a change in my body and I was NOT happy with it. I vividly remember starting to exercise again and going to my first bootcamp class at the gym and having to leave half way through because I was so out of shape from taking 5 months off from regular exercise. I worked my way back into the fitness world by reading a lot and doing a bunch of research regarding health and nutrition. Working out is a huge part of my life now and I feel lost without it!
2. What does a typical week look like for you at the gym?
Right now I’m focusing on strength training. I do a rolling split, meaning I’ll work back/biceps, chest/triceps, legs, and shoulders; then I’ll have a rest day or a cardio only day and repeat. I’ll also incorporate a spin class or BodyPump class and cardio 3-4x a week. This may sound like a lot but I don’t do cardio on the days I’m lifting super heavy (back days and leg days) and I usually keep it short with high intensity interval training. This has worked incredibly for me since I’ve stuck with the routine and I’ve noticed a leaner look overall versus when I was training for my half marathon and just running all the time.
3. Favorite body part to train? Least favorite?
I love to hate training legs. It’s definitely my hardest lifting day and I pretty much crawl out of the gym, but I see great results quickly. My legs tone very quickly and are pretty strong. I’m quite proud of them and I get super excited when I can increase my squat weight! I would have to say I hate training shoulders because they’re my weakest body part. I feel the burn in my shoulders so easily, which is good and bad since I tire quicker. I also hate training abs because it’s so boring to me. What’s funny is that I’ve achieved the most ab definition from compound lifts- squats, deadlifts, front squats. I barely do ab exercises and still notice a huge difference.
4. What are your go-to healthy meals or snacks?
It depends! I’m not much of a “snacker” because I prefer to have 5-6 small meals per day. However, I always carry around hardboiled eggs and almonds. I always try to pair a carbohydrate (apple, banana, sliced peppers) with protein/fat (almonds, egg whites, peanut butter) and this will often do the trick to hold me over til my next meal!
5. What’s your favorite splurge?
PIZZA! I looooove pizza. Thick crust, thin crust, deep dish, I don’t discriminate ;-). All pizza is my friend!
6. How do you stay motivated?
I’m motivated by results. I notice a change in my energy when I eat healthy and work out consistently and it has honestly become second nature to me at this point. I don’t even really have to consciously make decisions about whether to work out or eat healthy anymore, it kind of just happens no matter what. That being said, I love some frozen yogurt and treats here and there but I CRAVE work outs and healthy food. It’s not easy at first but don’t get discouraged if you’re a beginner. I promise it will become a habit to you as well! A huge motivation also comes from the long line of heart disease in my dad’s side of the family. I’m trying to take preventative measures now so I can be healthy enough to have a family in a few years.
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle?
It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. I’ve gone from different extremes in the past — eating everything I wanted, trying to count macronutrients, downloading an app on my phone to make sure I wasn’t eating over 1,200 calories a day (SO. STUPID.) My greatest advice would be to do your research and find out how much you should be eating. EAT ENOUGH! Your body will hold on to fat for dear life if you’re starving yourself. That was my biggest mistake and I didn’t even know I was doing it! Once you know how to eat healthy, really make it about balance and try to find a routine that is sustainable for life. Don’t deprive yourself from any type of food or macronutrient (ex: low carb diets) because you will end up bingeing and most likely gain the weight back. Find what works for you and stick to it. Healthy eating and your diet should be maintainable for the rest of your life. If you want to eat M&M’s, do it. Just have a few and move on. Remember this: Moderation and on occasion! You’ll be much happier in the long run and won’t drive yourself nuts trying out all these “fad diets.”
8. At the start of my fitness journey, I wish I knew…..
How to find balance. It’s not necessary to finish the box of Cheez-its. I’m an “all or nothing” type of person in every aspect of my life and I found myself having the same mentality when it came to food. I would often deprive myself of foods that I loved and would constantly be looking forward to my “cheat meal.” When that cheat meal came, it was ALL or nothing. I always wanted to finish everything and go all out because I knew I wouldn’t be able to have it again for a while. This drove me crazy and made me feel like crap, inside and out. I’ve found that if I just go through the week and have a craving, I’ll have a handful of Cheez-its and then they aren’t all that appealing to me and I don’t feel the need to go “balls to the wall” on a cheat meal. That’s not healthy! This is actually something I’ve realized within the past few weeks and I’ve been so much more relaxed. I’m finally finding MY “balance” and I am SO happy!
9. Mentally, what’s your greatest struggle in living a healthy lifestyle?
This is a tough question. I think the fact that we’re constantly bombarded as a society with the images and perceptions of what we’re “supposed to” look like. I’ve followed various fitness accounts on Instagram and blogs that show these women with great 6-pack abs and ripped muscles. In the back of my mind I wonder, “I’m training very similar and eating healthy. Why don’t I look like that?” I’ll tell you why:
1. Because everyone is different. Genetics play a large role in your body shape and definition.
2. Most of these girls are figure and bikini competitors with insanely strict diets, which is not a goal of mine at the moment.
Then, I’ll remind myself:
1. Healthy eating and working out should be a compliment to my life, it shouldn’t BE my life. Six-pack abs don’t define me, but my character and relationships do.
2. People only put things on social media that they WANT you to see. Don’t romanticize the situations or body types of others, you are perfectly made just how you are!
10. What advice would you give a beginner/someone new to fitness?
As far as fitness goes, LIFT WEIGHTS! Ladies, don’t be scared of getting “bulky!” I’ve leaned out so much since incorporating weight training back into my routine. When I was training for my first half marathon, I slimmed down but I looked very ‘soft.’ Lifting heavy weights (relatively speaking, amount of weight is different for everyone) really helped shape my body and give me curves in all the right places. I also suggest visiting a website such as bodybuilding.com and finding a training plan to follow so that you don’t feel lost in the gym. Record the amount of weight you’re using because seeing an increase in strength is such a great feeling. Oh, and don’t feel intimidated in the weight section. Everyone starts somewhere and I promise no one is judging you. Don’t be scared to ask for help if you need a spot or help with form. Form is THE most important thing that will get you results, so make sure you’re doing it all properly! Lastly, when it comes to nutrition, find out what works for YOU. If there was one secret way to lose weight, don’t you think everyone would do it? So much of the fitness industry overcomplicates things (many to make profit), but really it’s about sticking to the basics – heathy eating and a consistent exercise plan. Find a maintainable balance between life, eating healthy and working out and you will have long term results and live a long, healthy life 🙂