I will preface this post by saying that I am speaking to the majority of fitness goers, not the athletes that make a living or aim to make a living through aesthetics.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
It’s a word that most people who are a part of the fitness industry- whether provider or consumer- recognize. When you think of “fitspo,” what is the first thing that comes to your head?
- Maybe a girl with 6-pack abs wearing only spandex shorts, and a sports bra?
- Maybe a ripped and vascular guy in tighter than normal swim trunks?
- Maybe you think of a bikini competitor.
Whatever it is you think of, you know what fitspo is. It’s fitness inspiration! Something, usually a photo of someone who is in amazing shape, to keep you motivated and on track when you feel like you’re slipping. Now, let me ask this: when you see your “fitspo,” have you ever just thought, “ Wow, good for them. They look great?” Or does the conversation usually go more like, “Wow, they look awesome. I wish I looked like that.”
More often than not, inspiration is followed closely by us putting ourselves down. So often, we look at pictures of people who are in incredible shape and compare ourselves to them, swearing that we’ll stick to this program or eat a specific way so we can look like the people we admire. The reality of that, however, is that we often are setting ourselves up for failure.
I know. Super blunt and probably disagreeable, but hear me out.
I love Jamie Eason. She is one of my “fitspos.” She is incredibly kind and she looks phenomenal. I would love to look like Jamie Eason, but I have realized that I will never look like her. Why? There are a few reasons.
First, genetics. Some people may disagree, but some people are not built to look like Jamie Eason.. I am not blessed with genetics that tighten loose skin after weight gain. I store fat in my lower stomach- a trait that runs in my family. I do not have the same genetics as Jamie Eason and it would be silly of me to think that I can override that. This is not used as a cop-out or an excuse. You can still work hard and improve yourself, but be realistic and remember that some people are literally built to be shredded.
Second, intentions. She looks good for a living. It is Jamie Eason’s job as a fitness model and competitor to look a certain way. Bikini and bodybuilding competitors look the way they do because they have to look a certain way for their shows- often to win money or gain sponsorship (again, a way of providing for themselves). This is done through a specific diet and an intense exercise regimen that is literally her job. I have no intentions of making fitness modeling my job and I have no desire to compete in a stage competition. This means I don’t need to eat or exercise the way models and competitors do. Can I take tips from them? Absolutely! Lean meats, more veggies, more intense workouts. But should I belittle myself because I don’t look like someone who is expected to look good in order to have an income? Hell no. That makes no sense. Again, having different intentions shouldn’t be used to be lazy, but it’s important to remember when you’re feeling like a failure because you did a Body Building program and still don’t look like IFBB Pro Jessica James.
Lastly, for those of you who are fitspired (I don’t know if that’s a thing, I just made that up) by actors, it is abnormal to have constant access to things that make bulking and cutting “easy.”
Example: Christian Bale. Have you ever seen the Machinist? Well, he looked like this:
Then 5 months later, he filmed Batman Begins and looked like this:
He “dropped to a weight of 120lbs for The Machinist in 2004, before bulking up to 220lbs in five months for Batman Begins.” (source)
Ignore the fact that this probably wasn’t the safest thing for a minute and think about how much help Christian Bale had. He most likely had nutritionists preparing everything for him. Trainers hired specifically to help him gain weight and mass. Science was done for him and he just had to follow directions. When there’s no guesswork involved, it’s a little easier to manage (note: easier, NOT easy). Combine that with the fact that he was going to be paid $9 million+ (source) for the part, all of a sudden things aren’t looking so tough.
This doesn’t just happen for major role changes either. Victoria’s Secret Angels, fitness photoshoots- more often then not, those celebrities are prepared by a team of people. I won’t even mention Photoshop and retouching. Unless you have access to that kind of help and unless there’s $9 million on the line, why put yourself through that pressure if you don’t have to?
So why bring it up?
I have seen so many people that I know or follow on social media sites that crumble under the pressure of looking like fitspo. I know so many competitors that have a lot of trouble in off-season because they feel like they need to look stage-ready year round (something that is extremely difficult to do in a healthy, sustainable way). I know so many friends who have looked up to fitspiration and ended up backtracking because they are so focused on looking like so-and-so that they forget who they are and they forget what their goals are.
This cycle needs to stop!
Fitspo can be so good. But you have to make sure you’re using it to build yourself up, not bring yourself down.
How can you do that?
First: know what your main goal is, and try to keep it something that isn’t aesthetic.
No: “I’m going to eat clean so I have abs”
Yes: “I’m going to eat clean so I can improve my health.”
No: “I’m lifting weights to gain mass/become leaner”
Yes: “I’m lifting weights so I can be stronger.”
Aesthetics will follow dedication, but make health your goal.
Second: Make sure your goals are realistic. If you have 10 pounds to lose, don’t expect it to be gone in a month. It didn’t come on overnight so it won’t come off overnight either. Set goals that set you up for success in the future. A 1200 calorie a day diet will work wonders for weight loss, but what happens when you meet your goal? I can tell you from personal experience that the faster you lose it, the faster it comes back. Aim for .5 pounds lost per week. Maintenance will be easier. If you work full time, attend classes, and have a family, make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure by vowing to eat clean 100% of the time and exercising 6 days a week. Some people may be able to do that, but for the vast majority, that’s not reasonable or necessary.
Finally, make sure you find inspiration in yourself. You can be your own worst critic but you can also be your biggest inspiration. Did you run further than yesterday? Did you lift heavier than last time? Did you buy a smaller pant size? Use those times as inspiration. YOU did those things.
Fitspo can be a great thing. Just make sure to remember that those people are NOT you and comparing yourself to others will do nothing but cause you to devalue yourself. What is important is the progress you are making.
You don’t need Fitspo to tell you that.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment’s section. Please keep it respectable.
Yesterday I woke up at the butt-crack-of-dawn like I usually do on week days. My alarm goes off at 5:05 am, I hit snooze, then it goes off again at 5:14 am.
I grumble for a minute and I get out of bed at 5:15. After stumbling over all the crap I leave on my floor (I apologize to my husband daily…his side is clean, mine is a land mine), I find workout clothes that usually don’t match, get ready, and head out the door. I’m usually at the gym working out by 5:45 (the gym is less than a mile from my house).
I follow workout programs on days I don’t feel like making up my own routine. Generally, when I make up my own routine, I stick to the “push/pull” method. One exercise that pushes (ie. leg press) followed by one that pulls (ie. hamstring curl). When it’s too early for me to think about it, I hit up bodybuilding.com and find an exercise. I usually pull one from Jamie Eason’s Live Fit, or the Labrada 12 week Trainer. Recently, I’ve been doing workouts from the Labrada Lean Body Competition.
Yesterday I mainly worked shoulders and triceps but I added some bicep exercises in there too. It’s one of my FAVORITE workout days because:
a) It’s a big weak spot for me so I’m always seeing improvements
b) I always see awesome pump after my workouts (great for shameless gym selfies)
My favorite exercise of the day was a superset that targeted triceps and shoulders. I did 3 sets of the following:
Exercise 1: bench dips without weight- 12-15 reps
Exercise 2: Seated dumbbell shoulder press- 10 reps (I used 15 lb DBs)
I basically feel super buff now.
Just kidding. But it definitely got my heart rate up and worked my tris and delts!
What’s your favorite arm workout?
A good workout playlist can often be the difference between a great workout and a not so great workout. For me, a good playlist is upbeat, has epic chord progressions, and a steady rhythm. Most of the time, all of those qualities can be found in rock music. I take a lot of time making them perfect so I don’t have to skip songs and I like to put them in an order that I know will match what I need at the time I’m listening. Good music helps me avoid things like this:
Making playlists can be a lot harder than it seems, so I’ve created a 30 minute playlist that is sure to get you super pumped at the gym. I use Spotify to make my playlists. Spotify Premium is the best $10 a month you’ll spend, if you upgrade! With Premium, you can download playlists to your phone so you can listen offline. If you stick to the free version, you’ll have to be connected to WiFi to hear your songs. All of the songs below are available on Spotify!
Whether you’re lifting or running, these songs will keep you pumped up!
*Note: some of these might have explicit words- I’ve noted which ones you may want to find the edited version if you aren’t a fan of cursing.
- “Remember the Name” -Fort Minor*
This song is awesome for getting in the mood to workout. Perfect for a short warm up.
- “Till I Collapse” – Eminem*
This is a great song to keep you motivated! He literally says “Until my legs give out from underneath me, I will not fall.” SO awesome.
- “Jungle” – X Ambassadors
I love this one to keep me in a rhythm. There is a consistent beat (like a boom-clap) that just really keeps me pumped up. It’s also great for running as a pace song.
- “Becoming the Bull” – Atreyu
This one is awesome to just make you work hard. It talks about struggling but taking those struggles “by the horns,” facing them, and conquering them by becoming the bull. Super upbeat.
- “Let’s Go” – Trick Daddy ft. Big D & Twista*
This one is just awesome. It starts super heavy and ends heavy. Just a great workout song all around. Plus, Twista kills it in his verse.
- “Painkiller”- Three Days Grace
I love the chord progression and constant building of this song. It really pushes me to work harder as the song builds.
- “Killin It”- Krewella
This is a great one for the end of your workout. When you’re feeling a little tired and this song comes on, it reminds you to pick it up and keep killing your workout until the end.
- “This Is The Time (Ballast)”- Nothing More
Last, but DEFINITELY not least, this is my favorite one of them all. Even when I hear this song on the radio in the car, I’m like “OMG I’M SO PUMPED RIGHT NOW.” The climax of this song is one of the most epic and it will TOTALLY get you to get that extra rep or sprint that last ¼ mile.
If these songs don’t pump you up, I really don’t know what will.
I’ll be sharing more playlists with yall, just in case you’re not the rock/alternative type (I’ve got a Throwback playlist that will keep you smiling the WHOLE time).
Until next time,
What is your go-to pump-me-up song?
Have you ever had one of those days where you think “You know what? Nope. Nope for today. Nope for my workout. Nope for my healthy food. Yes to Netflix on the couch and a whole pizza to myself.”
Yep. Me too. One Netflix day every so often is fine. But when your schedule looks more like “Work, eat, tv, sleep” every day…that’s where the issue lies.
It’s not easy to stay on track when life happens. And very rarely does life ever allow time for exercise and meal preps and staying active. You have to MAKE it happen. Is it easy? Oh, no. But it is worth it? Oh yes.
Here are some ways you can stay motivated even when you don’t want to:
1. Make a routine
It is always easier to stick to something when it becomes a part of your everyday routine. Find a time to workout that works best for you. Personally, I work an 8-5 job and when I get home I very rarely ever feel like going anywhere. Because of this, I know I need to get in my workout in the morning before work. I find that working out in the morning really sets me up to have a good day. I start my day more focused and energized when I start it off with a workout!
2. Get involved in a community
Whether it’s an online community through forums like Reddit’s r/loseit and MyFitnessPal or joining a running club and taking classes at the gym, joining a community will help you stay focused. You’ll meet people with similar goals and priorities and they will help keep you accountable.
Speaking of accountability…
3. Get an accountability buddy!
When you have an accountability buddy, staying on track is much easier and much more fun. If you can find someone with the same goals as you, it is so much easier to stay on track. They feel awesome on days you feel lazy and vice versa. A quick text/call/email and they can snap you out of that funk that you’re in.
4. Remember your goals
In the times that you feel like giving up or slacking off, remember why you started. Remember what you’re working towards. You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to make progress. Sure, everyone has bad days, but remembering your goal will help you make sure bad days aren’t habitual.
How do you stay focused when you feel like slacking?
Grocery shopping can be extremely daunting when trying to change how you eat.
At first you’re like, “yes, I got this. Healthy grocery shopping. What’s up?!”
But then you get there and you see all the things and you’re like:
Well, have no fear! Carrie’s quick easy grocery shopping guidelines are here!
My key to grocery shopping is planning ahead. I figure out all my meals for the week and shop based on that. If you don’t know where to even start, here is a list to get you started!
- Veggies (lettuce-in the bag, a head of lettuce- for sandwich wraps, kale, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers- my favorite!, onions, celery, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc.)
- Sweet potatoes
- English Muffins (I get the 100 calorie english muffins)
- Bread (we usually buy Sunbeam because it’s on sale. I’m on a budget, too!)
- Pasta (angel hair, bow-tie)
- Cous Cous
- Chicken breasts
- Fish (tilapia, shrimp, salmon)
- Turkey (sliced and ground)
- Flour (all purpose)
- Sugars (brown, powdered, white, and substitute)
- Baking powder and Baking Soda
- Panko Breadcrumbs
- Coconut (shredded)
- Chocolate Chips
- Extracts (vanilla, almond, peppermint)
- Various spices (cayenne, italian, dried herbs, pumpkin pie seasoning, cinnamon, garlic powder, garlic salt, onion salt, onion powder, cajun, cumin, mustard, paprika)
- Cheese (blocked cheddar, shredded mozzarella, shredded cheddar, feta, goat, brie, etc.)
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Cottage Cheese
- Light sour cream
- Peanut Butter
- Jelly or Jam
- Yellow Mustard
- Dijon Mustard
- Jalapenos/Banana Peppers/Pickles
- Black Olives
- Olive Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- White Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Lemon Juice
- Graham Crackers
Obviously you don’t have to buy all of this at once. These are things we use often for meals. You’ll be able to make a whole lot with these items, though, and you’ll be well on your way to being prepared to change your eating habits on a consistent basis and you’ll be walking out of the grocery store like:
Of all the workout days, leg day is my favorite. I don’t know why. Sure, I feel like I’m dying throughout the workout and I can’t sit on the toilet without being in pain for days afterwards…
…but I find an odd satisfaction in leg day DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Being sore is an accomplishment.
Some of my favorite leg exercises are actually really basic and simple, so here, in no particular order, is a list of my favorite leg exercises!
1. The Squat
The barbell squat, the plie squat, the back leg elevated split squat: Sure, it’s awkward at first (practice form with the barbell unloaded before adding weight), bruises your shoulders, and makes you feel like you’re almost going to fall over, but your booty is gonna be poppin and you can thank squats for that.
I hate lunges. Which is also the reason they’re awesome.
3. Quad Extensions
This is done on a machine and there are so many ways to utilize it! Toes facing up, toes facing inward, toes facing out…the possibilities are endless!
4. Glute Kickback
Also a machine, glute kickbacks are a GREAT way to isolate your glutes and build that J Lo booty.
This. Machine. Kills. Me. Every. Time. It is SO awesome. Cardio and a good leg sculptor? Yes please!
So, next time you go to leg day, remember these exercises and drop it like a squat! What are some of your favorite leg exercises?
Say what?! I am SUPER excited that Keeping Carrie Fit is branching further out into the interwebz! For the past year, I’ve posted on Facebook and, while I love the Facebook platform, I’ve felt limited in the things I can post and say because no one wants to read a 500 word long status.
The first thing I want to say is: FEAR NOT, Facebook friends! I am not going anywhere! I will still contribute there as much as I will here. That won’t change!
So, you may be asking, why the website? This gives me a place to really talk about some things that I may not get to talk about on my Facebook page. I can go a little deeper into some issues/thoughts I have. I can add AWESOME lists of things I like. I can list out actual workouts without it being ridiculous to read on a Facebook status. It’s basically just a way for me to write more than “Hey. I worked out today. Here’s a picture.” It also gives me a chance to respond, at length, to a lot of questions I get on a daily basis.
If this is your first time seeing Keeping Carrie Fit on the interwebz, then hello! I’m so glad you stopped by! You may be wondering, “What does Keeping Carrie Fit even mean?” and I’d LOVE to answer that for you:
I chose the name Keeping Carrie Fit because I want people to know that working out and eating right and living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t always have to have an end game. There isn’t always a show to prep for or a race to train for. You can just want to live a healthy lifestyle because that’s what is good for you- mind and body. I want people to know that the journey to fitness never really ends- and that’s ok! Getting fit is part of your journey. Staying fit is also a part. There are not a lot of places people can go read about normal people staying fit in normal lives. It’s ok to pull inspiration from fitness competitors, but it’s also ok to want to be able to read about someone who has a full time job and is just trying to stay healthy just because. This is that place.
I hope you all enjoy the website as it grows. I can’t wait to get to know you all!
If you have any questions or comments, sound off below or contact me using the information on my “Contact Me” page!