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Tough Love: A Lesson in Accountability

When people learn that I’m a personal trainer, they often start telling me about how they’re unhappy with their appearance or their level of fitness or their general overall health, and how they really need to start taking better care of themselves and working out. As a trainer, I get so excited to hear that they’re taking an interest in caring their for their bodies and I want to jump right in to “how can I help you achieve your goals?!” But I also know that before I (or anyone else) can help them, they need to be committed to helping themselves. They need to take responsibility for their current physical shape, and understand that, ultimately, only they have the power to change their lives and reach their goals.

Accountability

Photo by Google images

Be brutally honest with yourself: what choices are you making today that are keeping  you from reaching your fitness goals? You know what they are. They may be hard to admit to, but admit them to yourself. What are you doing wrong?

  • Are you skipping workouts?
  • Have you been doing the same workouts for years with no variety?
  • Are you eating fake (a.k.a processed) foods?
  • Are you drinking too many of your calories?
  • Are you not sleeping enough?
  • Are you not drinking enough water?
  • Are you snacking late at night?
  • Are you eating too much fat and/or sugar?

This can be a painful realization; to acknowledge how the choices we make on a regular basis are sabotaging our fitness goals. It’s so much easier to blame someone else, our circumstances, our lack of time, our lack of energy. We feel helpless to do anything about it and wait for someone to fix it for us, to make the circumstances ideal, to make the timing perfect.

The truth is only you can make it better for yourself. Only you can achieve your goals by consistently making choices that align with what you want. Your trainer can’t do that for you, your spouse, your boss, your kids – no one else can put in the work for you. No one else can eat the right foods for you, or exercise your body for you, or define your state of mind and self worth for you. This is a harsh reality: you are 100% responsible for 100% of the choices you make.

But at the core of that responsibility is empowerment. You are the only one making your choices. So make them good ones. You know what you need to do reach your goals. The trick is holding yourself accountable to do those things consistently, and being honest with yourself when you don’t do them.It’s ok to not be perfect; it’s ok to allow yourself to indulge once in a while or go easy on yourself when you need to. But be honest with yourself that it’s a choice you’re making, and if you want different results, you need to make different choices.

This is something that everyone struggles with, myself included. But instead of drowning under the weight of that responsibility, let it empower you. You know what you need to do, you know what choices you should be making, and you have the power to make good choices for yourself! Everything you want is within reach. Only you can put in the time and effort it takes to achieve your goals, and in your heart of hearts, you know if you really are doing everything you can to get there. Your trainer and your support system can help guide you and encourage you along the way, but ultimately, it’s all you. So what are you waiting for? Get after it!

3 Habits Guaranteed to Change Your Body

A few people have asked me recently if I could recommend one thing to my clients to lose weight, what would it be? While there’s no magical solution to transform your body overnight (sorry guys, but change does take time), there are a few key things you can do that will have a guaranteed impact on your physique.They asked for one thing, but I’m going to give you three. Ideally, you would do a combination of all of them, but even adopting one of these habits has the power to change your body.

1. Cardio

While I disagree that cardio is the end-all be-all to lowering your body fat percentage (you can spend hours upon hours on the elliptical and still technically be “skinny fat” a.k.a low body weight but high fat mass), cardio does play an important role in weight loss. Especially if you’re just starting out with an exercise routine, cardio is important to increase your cardiovascular endurance and burn fat. The recommendation is to shoot for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Better yet, try to mix it up and do a little bit of both moderate- and vigorous-intensity cardio to keep things interesting and your muscles guessing.

2. Weight lifting

There seems to be a common misconception that lifting weights will make you bulk up like a bodybuilder. There’s a reason why bodybuilders spend so much time in the gym lifting crazy heavy weights – it take a LOT of work to get jacked like that. Adding resistance training with free weights to your workout routine will only help your fat loss process. Not only does it help you tone and define your muscles, building lean mass while you’re reducing your overall fat mass, it also helps boost your metabolism so you’ll continue burning calories for hours after your finish your workout!

3. Counting calories

Speaking of calories…. This seems to be the one that people struggle with the most, but it’s really the most fundamental to weight loss. Losing weight essentially means burning more calories than you consume, and the only way to be sure you’re doing that is to calculate just how many calories you’re consuming each day. You can calculate how many calories you should aim to consume each day by using a simple online resting metabolic rate calculator. Keep of journal of what you eat for at least a week to get an idea of how many calories you typically consume on an average day, and then make the necessary tweaks to try to reach your daily allotment. MyFitnessPal.com is a really useful tool to help you track and manage your caloric intake on your phone, so you have no excuses! ;) It’s important to note that not all calories are created equal. You can hit your daily max eating only junk food, but that won’t get you the results you want. Try to get your fill on nutritious “real” food with the proper breakdown of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Even adopting just one of these habits will have an affect on your body composition, but hitting the trifecta will earn you the best results. If you’re hesitant about biting off more than you can chew, start small. Try counting your calories for a week and making the appropriate adjustments before introducing a cardio or weight lifting routine. Or next time you finish your treadmill sprint at the gym, hit the free weights for a bit. Making small, sustainable changes will bring about lasting results.

Breakfast Hacks for Anti-Morning People

Personal confession: I am not a morning person. Waking up is too hard and I 100% agree with Zooey Deschanel‘s thoughts on the subject:

Source: @ZooeyDeschanel on Twitter

Source: @ZooeyDeschanel on Twitter

But I have to admit, there is one good thing about mornings: breakfast! I mean, really, who doesn’t love breakfast food? No one, that’s who.

It’s a bit of a conundrum for us non-morning people though. On the one hand, breakfast is awesome: it’s the most important meal of the day, it gets your body off to a good start, and all breakfast food tastes amazing (bacon, anyone?). But on the other hand, making breakfast takes time. Time we’d rather spend savoring every last second of sweet, glorious sleep. So we have to choose: do we squeeze in a few more luxurious zzzz’s, or do we drag ourselves out of bed early to make a healthy breakfast? It’s a tough decision. And I don’t like making decisions in the morning!!!

Thankfully, I’ve discovered some breakfast hacks that offer the best of both worlds. With just a little prep on a Sunday evening or the night before an early start, I can make a healthy morning meal in seriously no time at all. Check out these two anti-morning-person-approved breakfast ideas: (more…)

Dreams Come True (When You Work For It)

On Instagram @aimeekinz

On Instagram @aimeekinz

When I first started this blog, I did it with the intention of  documenting my progress as I fulfilled one of my dreams to become a certified personal trainer. Three weeks ago, after nearly two years of juggling work and study, I finally did it!

If you follow me on social media, you may have seen my post on Instagram and Facebook:

For a long time I thought that I could never know enough, that this was a dream for someone else and it wasn’t worth pursuing. Then one day, with the support of so many wonderful people, I realized “why NOT me?”. After a lot of hard work, I am so proud and beyond excited that I achieved a dream today and can now officially call myself a Certified Personal Trainer! No matter how insignificant your dreams may seem, go after them! #motivation #nasm #lovemyfitlife

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Our Bodies = Freaking Awesome

On my quest to become a certified personal trainer, I’m constantly amazed by some of the things I learn about how the human body functions. So many reactions occur in order to produce even the simplest movement and sustain our health and vitality. Our bodies do these things without our awareness or effort, and it’s simply awe-inspiring to learn about these amazing vessels that we command without even a thought. It’s impossible not to come away with an immeasurable sense of gratitude and appreciation for what our bodies are capable of, and a renewed desire to take care of them as best as possible. (more…)

20-minute Cardio Set List

If you’re looking for a quick, effective, and FUN workout, try this 20-minute cardio interval. As the set list progresses, the intensity of the work changes, keeping you engaged throughout your workout and maximizing your burn. Hop on your favorite piece of cadio equipment (I created this with a treadmill, but you can use a bike, cross trainer, whatever you like), and work your way through the playlist. If any segment is too easy or too hard, adjust either the speed OR the incline to make it work for you.

Enjoy!

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The Post-Holiday Anti-Guilt Trip: Putting Health & Fitness Back into Your Routine

First day back to the grind after a two-week vacation for the holidays. Two amazing weeks full of holiday parties, festive dinners, fancy cocktails, sleeping in, and the obligatory Netflix binge (#FriendsOnNetflix, anyone?).

During the holiday break, I had one goal in mind: RELAX! Occasionally, amid the hazy blur of movies and naps and indulgent deliciousness, a voice in the back of my mind would creep up and tell me to “get up!” and “do something productive!” But I kept the goal in mind. Sometimes, a break from the constant routine and the standards of normal daily life is exactly what you need to recharge your batteries, satisfy your guilty pleasures, and refresh yourself to begin anew with a reaffirmed sense of motivation and purpose. So if you overdid it over the holidays, accomplished nothing, ate and drank way too much, and barely moved enough to register 1 progress dot on the brand new fitbit you got for Christmas, then good for you! I hope you thoroughly enjoyed it  and that it was everything you ever dreamed it would be. Don’t waste one minute feeling guilty for those two weeks. However you indulged was just what you needed. Think of it as two weeks of feeding your soul and rejuvenating your spirit. And now, your rejuvenated spirit is in tip-top shape, ready to look ahead and get back into it.

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Work That Booty (and Those Legs!)

This is one of my favorite go-to “Legs & Butt” workouts. It targets different muscle groups in your lower body and incorporates some core action to get the most of out of this quick & effective workout. Better yet, it features 9 different moves to keep you on your toes (pun intended!) and makes this workout feel like it goes by super quick!

Do each move for 1 minute, resting 30 seconds in between. Complete the circuit 1-2x.

  • WARM-UP: Run for 5-10 minutes **Bonus points: side-shuffle for 1 minute on each side. If you’re on a treadmill, set the pace at 3.0-3.5, turn sideways and shuffle for 1 minute. Then turn the other way and shuffle for an additional minute. Be careful and hold on if needed. This awkward-looking move targets muscles in your inner thighs and gets your legs ready for the burn to come.
  • BOSU plank leg raises: Start in plank position, with arms stabilizing on a BOSU. Keeping your abs engaged, raise your right leg towards the ceiling, then lower back to the floor. Continue raising and lowering the right leg for 30 seconds, then switch to the left for 30 seconds. Remember to keep a neutral spine, pulling your belly button in and avoid dropping your hips.
  • Squats: with dumbbells if you have them!
  • Deadlifts: again, with dumbbells!
  • Lunges with medicine ball slams: alternate right and left forward lunges holding a 8-10lb medicine ball at your chest. When you’re down in the lunge, turn to the side of your forward leg and slam the medicine ball on the ground beside you and catch it. Step feet back together and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Hip bridge: lay on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor. Raise your hips up, then lower. Bonus: place your feet on the round side of a BOSU and stabilize yourself during this move.
  • Step-ups: Using a bench or a step about 18 inches off the ground, step up with your right foot, driving through your heel, and follow with your left foot. Step back down with your right and follow with your left back to starting position. Repeat on opposite side.
  • Sumo squats: Like a normal squat, but feet wider than your hips, slightly turned out. Drop down into a deep squat, then return to start.
  • Calf raises: Start with feet parallel, and raise up on your toes, then lower. Repeat for 20 seconds. Then turn your feet out slightly, raise and lower for 20 seconds. Then turn your feet in slightly (pigeon-toed!), and raise and lower for 20 seconds. This one BURNS!
  • Curtsey squats: Start with feet together, then bring right foot behind and to the left of your left foot, keeping your hips facing forward, and lower into squat (like a curtsey). Return to start, and repeat on the left side. Alternate for 1 minute.

I love this workout because it’s quick, doesn’t require a lot of equipment, and it’s tough! Because it’s based on time instead of reps, you can push yourself as hard as you need to make this workout challenging to you. Keep track of how many reps you complete for each move to track your progress in the future. You can always add/increase dumbbells to make it harder too, Completing this set once will definitely get your heart rate up! Do 2 to really push yourself. Remember to cool down and stretch out those muscles when you’re done (especially your calves – yow-za!)

5 Reasons to Love Plank

5 Reasons to Love Plank

Core strength is so important to general fitness. It’s not all about six-pack abs; a strong core is the foundation for nearly every physical activity. It gives you better posture, relieves back pain, improves balance, and can even help you breathe better. There are a lot of exercises that target your core stabilizer muscles to strengthen your core, and plank is an excellent option. If you’re looking for a rock-hard middle, check out these 5 reasons to love plank:

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10 No-Equipment Moves for a Full Body Workout

It’s a beautiful Saturday and I don’t want to spend it in the gym! If you’re also looking for a quick, effective workout that you can do outside (i.e sans equipment), try this 15-minute tabata-inspired session. Perform each exercise all-out for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before starting the next move. The whole circuit takes only 5 minutes – do the whole thing 3x for a fast and KILLER no-equipment full body burn.

  1. Jump squats
  2. Tricep dips (still technically no-equipment. Just use a bench or chair to dip off of)
  3. Push-ups
  4. Wall sit (or just hold a squat if you’re not near something you can lean against)
  5. Burpees
  6. Lunges
  7. Supermans (lay face down, arms stretched overhead. Raise arms, chest, and legs off the ground – you should feel it in your back. Hold for 2 seconds, then release back to the ground. Repeat!)
  8. Toe raises (stand with feet directly under hips. Stand up on your tippy toes, then lower. Repeat!)
  9. Mountain climbers
  10. Plank

The combination of moves targets different areas all over your body and has you moving up and down in different positions to get your heart pumping! Try it out and let me know what you think! Then check your daily workout off your list and enjoy the dwindling summer :)