“Finding your Fit”
Did you know it takes TWO years to fully recover, both physically and emotionally, after having a baby? Talk about commitment. Initially, my journey to the #snapback consisted of pure exhaustion, and full disclosure, social media is to blame. We often see the #niptuck when we think we are seeing the #gains. And to be clear, I am am not knocking the niptuck route! But personally, I needed to own the sense of accomplishment I would feel once I abandoned the excuses and pursued my fitness goals with motivation and dedication. Not only did I feel like a stranger in my own body, but I was sick and tired of dodging the mirrors as I walked through my house, the store or quite frankly, any space where I could glimpse this new postpartum body. My journey of recommitting to a healthier lifestyle began when I stopped making excuses.
The culprit of my frustration was a combination of many factors. Being a new mom and adjusting to a nursing schedule was just one of many. Breastfeeding is a full time job in itself. Combine that with a sedentary life of caring for an infant alone (my husband worked nonstop the first few months of my son's life), the weather in Pittsburgh (where we lived at the time), my baby not sleeping regularly and you name it- I had an endless list of reasons as to why I could not focus on my physical health. All of these “reasons” had disguised themselves as excuses. There is a quote that I live by that says, “Excuses are tools of the weak and incompetent, used to build a monument of nothingness, those of us who excel in the use of excuses seldom become anything but nothing at all.” Powerful, isn't it? Except, I was not living to the tune of my own mantra and I knew I had to make a change.
Fast forward, my baby is now almost nine months old, and while I am not where I want to be physically, I have come a tremendously long way towards achieving my goals and growing stronger.
Meet Fitness Queen Arleen
One of my greatest motivating factors was right in front of my face! My friend, Arleen Chollette, soon to be Mrs. Jarvis Jenkins, is a dedicated fitness guru who transformed her life and her body with a strict regime and consistent healthy habits. I witnessed her results unfold with a combination of healthier eating habits and challenging her body with diverse and exciting workouts.
Arleen slays life. She is gorgeous, strong, highly knowledgeable and has become a pioneer in the fitness social media world with her #buildabooty workout routines. During a recent workout session with Arleen, I discovered a few of her secrets to building and maintaining a healthy toned physique.
DS: Let’s start with you and your background. Tell me about yourself, your hometown and any interesting facts about Arleen.
AC: Absolutely! I have my dad to thank for keeping me so active. My entire childhood revolved around sports! I played 3-4 sports all year round. Growing up, my dad was a basketball coach for two different varsity leagues and he also coached an adult co-ed softball team for over 6 years. My mom even played! He did all of this while operating his own business which kept him constantly busy. I never understood why he dedicated so much of his free time to coaching until I discovered I wanted to be a personal trainer. I believe that’s where my passion for moving and staying active comes from, my dad.
DS: What motivates you to workout with such intensity and consistency?
AC: There are many reasons that keep me motivated to workout (prevention of chronic diseases, having a bikini body, boosts of energy) with such intensity and consistency, but my number one reason is for mental health. I wasn’t aware of the impact working out had in my life until it brought me out of an abusive relationship. I was tired of feeling depressed and compensating my feelings with food so I stepped into an old gym and rediscovered my love for moving. It felt as if I was living in black and white and then suddenly, life became brighter and all these colors started to appear. I was happy again and my mind was no longer captive to my insecurities.
DS: I have heard you say that to achieve results, it takes more than just the gym. How do you stay disciplined with your diet?
AC: I maintain a health friendly kitchen. To overcome cravings, I stock my fridge and pantry with healthy food. The logic is simple, you are more likely to make healthier food choices if you have healthier options.
Arleen's Fitness Tips
Stay Hydrated. I try to stay hydrated as much as I can, always aiming for a gallon a day. Many times, we get hydration confused with being hungry and that can lead to overeating. Drinking water curves your appetite and prevents overeating. My favorite water bottle is the Hydrate Spark bottle. It’s a smart water bottle that tracks your intake and the bottle glows to remind you. Also, whatever you need to add to your water (fresh cucumbers, lemons, lime, mint strawberries) to make it more appealing, DO IT! 1 gallon a day and a glass of water 20 minutes before each meal to take the edge off your appetite is the objective.
Set Goals. I am not on top of my diet 100% every day, but what keeps me going is setting short-term and long-term fitness goals. A diet goes hand in hand with my fitness goals so if I fall off, I just remember my short-term goals to keep me motivated. For example, if I want to lose 10lbs then I would break it into a 60-day goal and aim for losing 1-2 lb. a week.
Sacrifice. In order for me to reach my goals I had to learn the power of saying no. No to happy hours, no to late dinners, even skipping out on dessert. Instead of feeling like I’m missing out on having fun, saying no empowers me and brings me closer to my goal(s).
Eat Small Meals throughout the day. I eat 3 meals and 2 snacks at 3-hour intervals each day to curb my appetite. It prevents me from overeating and pushes my metabolism into beast mode.
- Foam Roll Daily Especially after a workout to break the fascia and encourage muscle growth and rejuvenation.
- Adequate Sleep Recovery is essential! Give your body time to heal and rejuvenate. Sleep is essential to muscle growth.
- Supplement for success Glutamine to help muscles revoke, collagen for skin, high quality protein shakes, etc.
- Create a routine and game play before you begin your workout or step foot in the gym.
- Stretch your way to sexy, to prevent injury. Focus on flexibility so that your joints can move in their full capacity.
- Find a workout partner that can help keep you accountable and help motivate you.
DS: What advice would you give those new to the fitness journey?
AC: For women who are just starting out in their fitness journey, the number one advice I would give is to NEVER compare yourself to other women. We are all built different, shaped different, and our genes are different. Instead, compete with the “old” version of you to become the “better” version of you. When it’s all said and done, the satisfaction comes from seeing how far you've come and how much you have grown mentally and physically. So be your own motivation!
DS: What are your overall fitness goals?
I have so many goals that I want to achieve in the fitness industry. For starters, I am completing my NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certification to be a personal trainer in October through the Lifetime Academy. I also want to speak to girls and women about the importance of living a healthy and fit lifestyle, but mainly advocate how it can help ease depression and boost confidence.
Arleen's #Buildabooty Series
Do you need a kickass workout that can literally be done anywhere from your baby's nursery to the hotel bathroom? Well, Arleen comprised a great series with plenty of moves from her famous #buildabooty series. After doing this workout your legs will feel the burn! Trust me.
- Warmup 8-10 Mins (Stretch hamstrings, quads, calves, do light cardio like a stair master, jog on the treadmill for 8-10 min on a low speed and increase speed every 2 mins)
2. Body Weight Squat (Complete 10-12 reps with 4 sets)
- Start with your feet shoulder width apart and ankles and toes in neutral position.
- Begin to lower your body as if you’re about to sit on a chair without leaning body forward. Keep upper body as straight as possible without arching your back.
- Lower your thighs so they are parallel to the floor and make sure to push your knees out as you lower down. Make sure your knees do not overextend your toes.
- Press weight into the back of your heels and as you bring yourself back up, keep chest open and core tight back to starting position.
Compensations: Does your torso lean forward excessively? Are you arching your lower back? Are your feet flat? Are your knees rotating inward as you’re moving down? Need Modifications? Try a wall squat, TRX squat, or a squat with a chair.
3. Alternating Single Leg Lunge (12-15 Each Leg 4 times)
Begin with your upper body straight, shoulders and pulled back and relaxed, chin up looking forward and core pulled in tight. Place your feet next to one another in a standing position.
- Step forward with one foot and lower your hips by bending your hip and knee simultaneously at a 90-degree angle.
- Keep your front knee aligned with your toes to avoid overextension and make sure that your back knee does NOT touch the floor.
- Push your body back to the starting position by extending your hip and knee joint simultaneously.
- Repeat steps with the opposite foot
Compensations: Are you feeling strain in your knees? Are you having trouble lifting your body back up? Need Modifications? Try a TRX Lunge, Static Lunge with yoga block, Rocking Lunge, or a Pulse Lunge with a slight bounce.
4. Alternating High Knees (1-2 minutes)
- Basic high knees can be performed while running in place or moving over a distance. Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and quickly place it back on the ground.
- Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can. If you are incorporating this exercise into your warm-up, begin with slower, controlled movements to prevent a pulling a muscle. .
5. Planks & Push Ups (15-20)
- Press your palms into the mat or floor like you are pushing the floor away from you, lock out your core, keep your gluten engaged and tight, 30 seconds on 10 seconds. ▪ Lie on the floor in a prone position with your hands in line with your shoulders
- With either your knees (beginner) or toes (advanced) on the floor and keeping your core tight, push yourself away from the floor by simultaneously extending your elbows and shoulders.
LOVE YOUR BODY
There is nothing more beautiful then finding your fit and loving your body. Exercising can be uplifting and empowering. Yes, it requires discipline and yes, there are days when you want to give up and give in. But, a strong body yields a strong mind and a strong mind yields a strong and dynamic woman.