(…and when I say “rocked” I’m not saying that in a bragging way. I mean it as a “Holy cow–it hit it like a ton of bricks” way! I share this post for a few reasons (which I’ll detail, below) but none of which is to brag. I hope you all know me by now to know that I want to be real, honest, and encouraging in what I say! And also, I am a little nervous to put this out there. Why? Because I’m not there yet and I’m still working on getting towards my goal!! )
A few months ago I posted a picture that my pilates students took while I was teaching. I downloaded it to my computer and then found another picture similar to it, taken just 12 months prior. Here they are.
It’s the first time that I really looked at what a difference this past year made. You may not see that much of a difference, but I do. (You know how that goes! You have a more detailed eye with your own body than with others’!) So it got me thinking about my journey over this past year!
February/March, 2012, I decided that I needed to kick it up a few notches. Yes–I had been exercising (generally 4 days a week). Yes, I had been strength training (2-3 days a week). Yes, I had been doing cardio. (2-3 days/week) But I was at a bit of a plateau. (To clarify, some of these things are combined on the same days) My body wasn’t reacting to what I was doing and honestly, I was a little bored. I was ready to kick it up and get serious. And as you can see, one year made a bit of a difference.
Here’s where purpose and intensity proved itself this year:
– My strength.
Man, I can really tell how much I’ve improved here. I used to go between 5 and 8 pounds with an occasional 10 pounds pushing it. I’m now doing 10-25 pounds (free weights) and using the olympic bar with additional plates on it depending on the type of exercise.
– My speed.
This summer, I ran a 5k and ran it in the fastest time I’ve ever done. In fact, I placed first in my age group! I wasn’t even trying to race until the end of the race when I realized that I was at the head of the pack and probably should really kick it in. LOL I know you are probably wondering why on earth I need to increase my speed. And you are right. Who really cares, but for some reason, it helps me train harder. I’ve noticed that the natural pace I would start at on the treadmill/elliptical etc is now inched up and I’ve got much more endurance and speed when I sprint.
– My eating.
This should be number 1 because while a workout is only 1 hour of my day, eating encompasses 80% of it! I learned more about protein, timing of carbs, and a few other things over this past year. I’ve played around with different combinations of what works, and can’t say that I have it down pat, but have defnitely found a few things that work..which includes,
I introduced protein shakes and BCAA’s this year. I used to do protein shakes YEARS ago, but found that it just puffed me up (because I wasn’t doing it the right way alongside my other nutrition) but this time around, it’s really been advantagaeous. I also use something called BCAA’s about 30 min before I workout.
– My Sleep.
Last year–and even a majority of last year…I was terrible at sleeping…and it used to be an area I took a lot of pride in! I had overloaded my plate so much that the only time that I could get things done was when kids and hubby were down. And honestly, when they were in bed, I wasn’t always “working” but just chilling and watching tv. Because of this, I was up late and then up early because as you know–kids don’t care what time you go to sleep! (They are still small) So I was very inconsistent with my sleep. It hasn’t been until the past 4 months ago that I’ve put it as a priority again. I’ve had to say no and step away from a few things, but honestly, I feel so much better when I get a solid night’s sleep and start the day early and refreshed.
Now let me show you a progress pic from just 8 months ago. Here’s a before and after of me doing pull ups at our house in September, and then again last week ,5 months later. I added some more muscle in that 5 month span just doing what I had been doing in the months prior. It. just. took. time.
And while we’re at it….
My weight has pretty much stayed the same, or even creeped up a few pounds, over this past year. My legs have also filled out with some more muscle so my “skinny” jeans feel a little more snug! I have to be honest. This messes with my brain sometimes. BUT, when I look in the mirror and see my muscle, and am able to lift up and increase the amount of weight I have each week, I seem to be ok with it. 🙂 Again, I’m in this process with you all and have the same struggles you do!
This year wasn’t all roses though.
– I had a few rough patches where I wasn’t training or eating as I should because, well, I live in the real world.
– The comparison game hit me harder this year than it had in a long time.
– At times, I was consumed with all the info I had been reading that it became overwhelming and stressful
Am I perfect? No.
Do I struggle? Yes.
Do I have it all figured out? Heavens no.
It’s like this odd puzzle that I’m trying to figure out and fit and it honestly changes every week!
BUT–as you can see–you don’t have to be PERFECT to have change! Holla!
What’s the purpose of this post? I want you to know that:
a.) Longterm consistency is key
b.) A little bit of purpose to what you are doing will go a long way
c.) You don’t have to be perfect to have progress.
d.) Intensity matters. I’m working out the SAME amount of time that I had been years before. What’s the difference? HOW I’m doing it.
e.) You do not have to do what I do to have results. Don’t be disappointed that you can’t look like me or workout as much as me. Do what you can do when you can do it. And…refer to point c. 🙂
Finally, (because you know it’s coming) I feel that I’ve been at a great spot spiritually in my life this past year. The energy, zeal, and intensity that I carry in one area of life, usually follows to others and I feel that they’ve all aligned well this year. My spiritual focus is what keeps me grounded when I am struggling with my self-image, or start to get my priorities out of whack. God has been faithful to me in these areas. And YES–I constantly ask Him about my physical life! Why not? He created these masterpieces so He knows how to work it best!!
I will keep at all this because now that I know what I CAN do, I want to do more. It’s fun for me. It gives me a good outlet for all this energy I have! 🙂 And it is really neat to see progress over the months. Remember, my friends, we are in a marathon, not a sprint. You may THINK you are at mile marker 24 when you are really at mile marker 3. Just keep going. Do what you know you need to do until the race is truly over, or you are lead down a different path. You can do it!
Hi Claire, thanks for this post. I am exactly where you were last year right now. I am bored with my workouts. I workout 6 days a week. Running, weight training, teaching bootcamp classes 2x a week and doing HIIT at home. My body has been at a plateau for quite sometime and I know I can be in better physical shape. I want more muscle tone and my abs to be flatter. My eating is so out of whack right now. I am HUNGRY ALL the time. I have tried increasing protein, fiber, carbs, etc and no matter what I do I end up giving in to some craving every day and “mess up”. For the past few months I have been eating over my daily recommended calories and have put on maybe 5 lbs after losing 80. I am terrified of gaining all of my weight back. I would love to know what a typical day of food intake looks like for you. Thanks for all you do!!!
I would say that you probably need to up the amount of calories you are consuming. I don’t know what you get in now, but with all that exercise and strength training/intensity, your body probably needs more. The key is eating more of the right thing.
It’s hard for me to do a typical day but maybe I’ll try to get it in a post soon.
It typically is 3 meals, 2 snacks, lots of water, eggs, nut butter (which I need to cut back on!) almonds, berries, protein shake etc. Just some weird twist. If you are on instagram, I am on there too , clarepeak313, and post a ton of my meals as I go through the day.
I would say that if you are craving and truly hungry (which you need to figure out if that is the case or not) then you are missing something. I know it’s a hard process and I don’t have it figured out yet, but just keep moving forward and do some more educating! I am doing it all the time! LOL
Thanks so much:). I feel like I am in a constant process of figuring it all out and what works for my body.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I was very overweight as a child and into college, lost a lot of weight, and after two kids find myself struggling. Only 20 pounds of struggle (better than the 80 in college, but still a lifelong struggle. Just trying to muster the motivation to get the weight off I work out, but I stress eat. Cant seem to find that goal, or that one thing that makes me say it is time. Have really enjoyed your site. God Bless
Brandy, I don’t normally comment on blogs, but I felt led to tell you about a book that changed my life. It’s called “Made to Crave” by Lysa Turkhurst, “Satisifying your deepest desire with God, not food.” It will help you with that motivation. The book is amazing! Good luck!! God Bless!
If you know it’s stress eating, do you know what is triggering the stress? If you do, can you be purposeful in preventing those binges if you know the stress circumstances come up? You also can find another option instead of eat at those times, such as go for a walk, turn on some music, call a friend, to get your mind off of it. There is a lot to real vs emotional cravings/binges.
Finally, ask God to help you! The Made to Crave book is an awesome start!
Good luck and thanks for reading!
Hi clare, you look great. I’m struggling so much right now with getting motivated so your post came at a great time for me. Can you please expand a little bit about your eating, particularly “I learned more about protein, timing of carbs, and a few other things over this past year. I’ve played around with different combinations of what works” Thanks in advance.
Great post! I’m really increasing my weights, and I’m hoping to see a difference too…Please explain more about your use of protein shakes and BCAA, would love to hear about that!
Lots of interesting info here! Can you tell us what BCAA supplement you use? Have you noticed it helping with cravings?
RE: cravings–Not sure! I feel like it gives me better energy during my workout and I do feel like my muscle tone is staying….but that could also be for a few reasons. Just trying it out to see if it will work. May not work for everyone!
Are you using it preworkout or post? Although it sounds to me as if you are using it pre as it is giving you more energy during your workout.
30 min prior…sometimes after if I don’t remember. They recommend before, during, or after so I don’t know that you can go wrong with any of the above!
Love this! Inspiring. I love your advice on consistency. I am prone to wander from consistency when it comes to working out because I want to see results quick. Lately I just have committed to doing what I can and being happy with getting my endurance up and in better shape. I get discouraged when I don’t do more or do some exercise at maximum intensity BUT I know that if I keep at it I will see results over time and will get to that point. I know this but get discouraged when I don’t see it as fast as I would like. On a side note,I’m not even sure I can do one pull up! how do you even manage to begin to build your strength to do them? My husband has one of those door bars and I am extremely intimidated by it. However I would love to make this one of my goals and see how long it takes me to master it! Any advice would be appreciated.
Awesome post Clare, Thanks for the encouragement.
I would also like to know about the timing of proteins and carbs and what BCAA supplement you are using. Hate walking into GNC and having a guy working who doesn’t necessarily know about the products and what may be a good one to try; thanks so much for sharing your story!
This post is just what I needed. I always start out with great intentions and can keep it up for a little while, but then when I don’t see results right away my mind is quick to tell me that my efforts are futile. You are a true inspiration and gave me just the kick in the butt I needed to keep going. Thank you!
Clare! This post comes with (God’s) incredible timing! Needless to say, you have motivated me today… thank you!
I read this at the perfect time! Just the motivation I needed to keep me pressing on toward my goal! For the first time, I really feel like I am in this for the long haul, but it’s easy to get weary when progress is slow. Thank you for all your posts!
I started weightlifting about 6 weeks ago and I’m having a complex about consistently adding weight. I’m afraid I will look bulky. My husband also lifts and recommends adding weight when I can get through all the sets, even if I had to push myself or take a pause. For example, I did bench press at 45lbs, 12 reps, 3 sets, since I did it all, bump it up to 50 next time. Do I need to be so worried with this type of lifting? I love your encouraging blog!
Muscle doesn’t make you look bulky unless you have a layer of fat on top of it. So as you continue with your weight training, you may need to tighten up your nutrition more. Also, don’t forget that cardio still has it’s place in your routine. That will help you burn away some calories, even though strength training is the best way to go!
As far as worried with this type of lifting? What do you mean? Bench press is great and I increase my weight on all my exercises all the time. I want to add more—but that’s just me!
I just don’t personally know women who lift, so knowing that you wouldn’t be afraid of increasing is good. I think of you as strong, not the hulk:) That’s what I was afraid of.
Hi Jessie, please pardon me for butting in here. Clare is the expert and obviously is proof that strength training, and lifting, is beneficial to, and looks amazing on, a woman! 🙂 (I’m inspired now to overcome my own intimidation of my son’s bar and be able to do more than one pull up too!)
keep in mind that muscle is MUCH leaner than fat, (though if you think about it, 5 pounds of muscle weights the same as 5 pounds of fat!) so use that cardio to burn the excess fat away and you’ll be able to show off all those nice new toned muscles underneath! =)
Just wanted to add that we gals should keep in mind that the guys have all that extra testosterone that helps them develop that “Hulk” look. We don’t have enough in us to have the same effect, so no worries…lift away! I work at a gym and I see some of our teens and younger ladies avoid strength training and lifting because of that same concern.
Fortunately, we have a lady in her 30’s who trains for body building competitions. She is an impressive, inspiring picture of feminine strength and sculptured beauty. Like Clare, her triceps, deltoids, rhomboids and trapazoids are well defined and look fabulous! We gals all should focus on those areas (and our core to protect our backs) as we are constantly lifting heavy things (kids, unloading Costco boxes, moving furniture around etc) in our activities of daily living.
So, all that (sorry Clare!)to say…go for it, inspire others and enjoy your time together (safely, with good form) lifting with your hubby! Blessings 🙂
Love your thoughts, Angie! Thanks!!!
You look great! I have this “strange” dream/goal to be able to do pull ups and your post is inspiring for that dream. Any suggestions on how to work up to them?
Great questions! May make a post on this.
I have increased strength by increasing overall upper body strength, BUT have also focused on pull ups by:
– Doing negatives (jump up on bar and lower yourself down on a 5 count. repeat)
– Using a superband to do the pullups or having someone hold my feet while doing it
– Increasing ab strength as you use your abs a ton with them!
Thanks for the tips.
I have been lifting for about 4 months now. I’m not trying to “lose” weight, but to tone my very stubborn bottom- I’ve been doing Chalene Extreme and I am noticing some definition in my arms, but not really any results in my legs/glutes. It is a bit discouraging because I don’t seem to be losing any inches off of anything ! My weight has gone up a few pounds, though I am not too worried about it, my clothes are not any more lose – in fact at times my underwear seems to be tight.
I am interested in knowing how I can truly repair my muscles for growth, etc. I saw you post about BCAACs and protein shakes. I normally do shakeology but it has gotten too expensive, so now I am going to do Isalean. Can you give me more detail on supplements? I’d really appreciate the reply, thanks!
The lower body is an area most women will struggle with in regards to fat loss. I find a lot of “fit” women, still have nicely shaped lower bodies, which might mean they are actually “bigger” than one who doesn’t work out, but carries more fat! (Hope that makes sense!) But training our lower body is very important as it helps release the HGH for our whole body to grow more muscle. You may have to play arond with reps/amount of weight/diet to find out what works for you as far as how you want your legs to “look”.
As far as supplementing, I use a protein shake almost every day and as I mentioned, BCAA’s, however, I’ve not been as on top of that recently. I will choose “real food” over supplementation though, so if I workout and it’s almost dinner time, I will just eat dinner (provided it’s healthy!) Clean carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, black beans, rice) are great post workout to enhance muscle growth. I currently use About Time Protein for my protein. Hmmmm–does this help? Have anymore questions?