Posted in MAMA

An Active Pregnancy

Before I got pregnant – or when I very first got pregnant – I was beyond naive. I signed up for a 10K and 1-miler on the same weekend (instead of the Honolulu Marathon, of course) and assumed I’d slowly and happily jog through them with my barely-present bump and continue staying consistently, highly active through the whole 9 months.

By the time this weekend rolled around, I had been vomiting and barely eating for weeks. I was so nauseous in the first trimester I had trouble sleeping at night, didn’t want to socialize, and found most foods aside from bananas and crackers to be inedible. I still technically ‘completed’ these ill-fated digital races, but I half-jogged the one mile and walked the entire 10K. I also threw up several times during the 10K, and only continued because that was typical of any day at that time.

Now that I’m in my second trimester and counting down the days until the third, things have changed. I have a nice round belly that makes it tough to tie my shoes, but said belly is no longer growing and expanding like it was before. I can finally eat tomatoes again, have more energy, and can get through the day pretty normally with an afternoon nap. I can also walk/jog now that my new balance is under control, too.

Here’s a few things that have been incredibly helpful in staying active during my pregnancy.

Let It Go

This is the most important lesson of all. Whatever you thought pregnancy would be like, forget about it. You’re on your own unique journey and your body will be crystal clear on what it can and cannot tolerate. Sure, I’ve watched YouTube videos of women running half marathons or doing deadlifts or whatever else pregnant, but that’s their abilities and experience – not mine. I was an extremely active person before baby, and was almost completely sidelined by the first trimester alone. If that’s what’s right for me and my baby, I’m happy to stay on the bench as long as I need to.

Gym/Lifting Weights

The gym has been my go-to most days. I did some quick research to find safe exercises and even some that help build muscles for labor. My basic routine is a lighter/modified leg day with biceps & triceps and cool-down cardio.

At Home/Park/Wherever Workout

My husband is fairly active, and I’m usually playing soccer or skating right alongside him. Now that those things have been deemed off-limits, I started lugging my yoga mat, kettlebell and dumbbells with him to the park. This can also easily be done at home, at a kid’s soccer practice, or wherever.

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is, according to my doctor, one of the best exercises for moms-to-be. It helps stretch out tight hips and uncramp crampy legs, bring some peace and stillness, and help with nausea and balance. Here’s one of my favorite youtube videos with minimal equipment I can do right at home.

Walking/Hiking

Running has been out of the picture for most of my pregnancy. At first, I was sick and dizzy, and then became wobbly and off-balance and plain old tired. Walking has been my best friend. I walk all the time, from taking my dog around the neighborhood to going to the track to taking a (literal) hike. Walking is low impact, keeps the heart pumping, and is gentle enough that I can do it on my worst days – and on those days, it actually makes me feel a lot better.

Important – I’m Not a Doctor

Just a quick note – I am not a doctor, and am sharing what’s worked specifically for me during my pregnancy. I ask my doc all kinds of crazy questions, and those include checking that everything listed above isn’t only safe for pregnancy in general, but for me and my pregnancy, specifically. Be sure to do the same with yours!

Posted in Eating

Why Cheat Days Don’t Work (For Me)

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Ah, the cheat day. That lustrous, wonderful day at the end of the week where hard working, iron-pumping fitness die-hards can go batshit crazy. It seems a little too good to be true that you can eat clean all week and then bask in a sea of pizza, ice cream & cookies without derailing your fitness goals.

4304b14c6fc0b00076fe4251540adb9fThe idea is that eating a bunch of junk once a week ‘confuses’ your metabolism, making it work harder and burn faster once you’re back on track. But does it really work, or is it just a euphoric myth? Wouldn’t it be it be better to not cheat at all, or perhaps just a teeny bit?

Like most things, the answer depends on who you are and what works for you. Some people do epic cheat days, some indulge in cheat meals, and others skip them altogether. For me, personally, they just don’t work.

Cheat days, or even meals, mess me up psychologically, emotionally and physically. I feel incredibly guilty, as if I’m undoing the week’s hard work with each spoonful. My guilt probably stems from the fact that I’ve been fighting my genes since middle school; I have to work really hard and eat reasonably well  in order to stay healthy. I know what foods like chips, cookies & ice cream do to my health and self-esteem; most of the time, it’s not worth the short term pleasure to compromise a week of work and years of habit.

Furthermore, I don’t even really like the cheat day food (except for pizza!) and I don’t find myself enjoying it most of the time. I’m not just pushing to hit a number on the scale; I can’t shake the knowledge of all of the artificial dyes, sweeteners, coloring, chemicals, animal products and GMO’s likely lurking in whatever processed delicacy I’m going HAM on. 

29a30600dbcd5723768ad0791b31cc3eEven when I am seriously craving pizza, I can’t help but think – how can i make this healthier? Maybe I’ve spent way too much time on Pinterest, but I feel like the balance of hard work and enjoyment come from enjoying cheat foods that serve as a compromise. They’re as delicious as the real thing, but made from healthier, fresh, real ingredients. The perfect example would be making or buying a vegan, gluten free, veggie-topped pizza! Which I do treat myself to quite often 🙂

Lastly, I usually feel like complete shit the next day. Food hangovers are real. Post-cheat day (or even just cheat meal) I’m bloated, tired, gassy, emotional and just generally miserable. And feeling that bad isn’t exactly a great precursor to starting the next week off right.

I know that everybody needs to bend the rules, which is why I believe in cheating with boundaries; for example, one day, i might put in an extra-tough workout and allow myself to hit a certain number of calories. I do this all the time when I have potlucks at work, family parties, or friends’ birthdays or weddings – that way, I can indulge without the guilt and without hindering my progress.

How do you guys feel about cheat days?

Posted in Running

I’m a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador!

This week has been such a crazy one – super busy at work, decorating my place, and making over my kitchen. All good things, of course, but still a little stressful. I’m definitely looking forward to just relaxing this weekend!

Despite the chaos, I’m proud to say I got in my runs for the week. Which brings me to some exciting news – I’ve been accepted as a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador! I’ve been a sporty girl since the day I was old enough to walk, and I’m stoked to be part of their online community.

 

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I’m actually pretty flattered they accepeted me. This blog is still in its early days, and while I try to post as often as possible, life gets in the way now and then. Plus, I wasn’t sure if I was fit/active enough to be considered. I love being healthy, but I’m certainly not perfect.

I am, however, excited to connect with other bloggers that share my obsession. Those of us that love sports and being healthy just click on a deeper level. We get each other. We’re all crazy enough to work our asses off to be healthier, happier, stronger and sexier.

The best part (besides meeting more like-minded ladies, of course) is that this is extra motivation to keep up with my training and clean eating. I’m part of Team Stellar, and I gotta make my peeps look good! I especially want to share how easy it is to eat clean on a plant-based, whole foods diet.

Speaking of which – while I was in California, I totally forgot to share the heavenly, orgasm-in-your-mouth deliciousness that is Veggie Grill.

All of their food is completely vegan, but they’ve got all the fixn’s of any café-type place; mayo, ranch, cheese, bread, coleslaw, sauces, and even organic ketchup.  You can go anywhere from a whole foods salad to burgers, buffalo chicken sandwiches and wings!

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My mom got the Fiesta Salad with papaya, mango, spinach and quinoa (swoon.) Yeah, it totally blew her mind. It was soooo good and simple and just…ahhh. I ordered the spicy chicken sandwich as a wrap with spicy bbq ranch sauce and avocado and a side of coleslaw. It was so delicious that I made my picky eater, anit-vegan cousin taste it and he tried to eat the whole thing.

Anyways, I’m so happy to be taking my blogging and fitness to the next level. Like I said, we fitness fanatics are like-minded creatures – and I can’t wait to meet more of them.

Love,

Nikki

Posted in Eating, Veg/Vegan

Motivation Monday: Plant-Based Protien

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a good weekend J I didn’t get much done, but I took some time to sleep, relax and surf.

On Saturday, the swell we’ve been waiting for came in a day early! We got to gorge on big waves with steep faces & decent barrels with only a few other people. The surf report said only 1-2 feet (Hawaiian – meaning the back, not the face) and it ended up somewhere north of 3-4. The next day I got my arse handed to me – I couldn’t even make the full paddleout! And got smashed, held under, and have a big bruise and cut on my knee to show for my efforts.

Waves rolling in at Makapu
Waves rolling in at Makapu

On Sunday, I dragged my tired, sore self to the Kalama Beach Park in Kailua. Even though Kailua is so busy and touristy, it felt so good to just relax and enjoy the scenery. I met up with an old friend that had been off island for a couple of months, so we laid out to get our tan on & catch up.

Anyways, we ended up talking about plant-based proteins. My friend’s a die-hard lifter and has the six – wait, no eight – pack to prove it. Although she’s super active, her doctor told her she had to seriously cut back on all the animal protein because it was wreaking havoc on her system.

MRM Veggie Elite
MRM Veggie Elite

I recommended my vegan protein powder, MRM Veggie Elite, which I get from Bodybuilding.com. It’s protein, amino acid, and nutrient content rivals that of whey, and it tastes (in my opinion) even better than the real deal. Plus, it has no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Game on.

There’s quite a few veg-friendly options out there, because not everyone can handle 233235345g of casein day in, day out. I’ve tried others, but they were pretty awful and more expensive than the one I use! It also comes in Mocha Cappuccino (yum!) but I love the Vanilla Bean blended up with almond milk & a frozen banana.

Since I’m really active, protein is definitely central to my diet. And healthy fats! But those I easily get from flaxseed, nut butter & cooking with olive/coconut/sunflower seed oil.

Protien, my friends, is the golden ticket to feeling full and happy! And while most people associate protein with animal products & meat, the land of plants is chock full of killer protein sources. Plus, they don’t come bogged down with loads of saturated fat, cholesterol, calories, and not to mention all the icky hormones & antibiotics.

My favorite sources are: beans, tofu, quinoa, green peas, broccoli, tempeh, pumpkin seeds, and oatmeal! Take note that all of these infographics are focusing on whole foods, which is great, but mock meats, vegan cheese, and nut butters are great sources of easy protein as well.

 


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Posted in Lifting

Motivation Monday: Lifting for the Ladies

Happy motivation Monday! This week I’d like to share something near & dear to me – and my recent obsession – lifting.

Going to the gym, it makes me a little sad to still see so many of my fellow females slaving away for hours on the treadmill. However, a change is taking place – lately I see more and more lovely ladies getting their lift on. Why? Because it works.

It’s a pretty common misconception that lifting weights make you bigger. It  makes sense, since the huge, muscley, hulk-ish patrons are often pumping huge iron.

But with women lifting heavy but not insanely heavy, it just sculpts. It burns loads of calories for up to seventy-two hours after you leave the gym. And we don’t naturally make enough testosterone to get big manly muscles.

 

So get to squattin’, ladies. I’ve been playing soccer and running and toiling away on the elliptical for as long as I can remember. And I’ve never, ever, ever gotten results like this. The results I’ve been looking for for so long and finally found.

These pictures of me are spaced about six months apart – the left is when I was all cardio, and the right is after I got into lifting weights for only a few months. I can’t wait to see what kind of results more time will bring!

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I’m on my second week of Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer (actually doing it, that is) on bodybuilding.com. It’s a three month supplement, training, and nutrition plan – detailed down to the last snack, protein powder, and even has how-to videos for every single exercise and coinciding machine. And it’s FREE.

The hardest part has been the nutrition, which focuses on whole, clean, protein-packed foods. It also requires you to eat every two to three hours, which has been a bit of a struggle also. But I can already feel the difference when I wake up each morning – even if I didn’t eat perfect the night before, I still feel stronger & more clean. 

As for the lifting itself – I love it. I feel strong, sexy, healthy, & happy. I love lifting weights because, instead of daydreaming on the cardio machines, I’m able to focus and get in the zone. I feel like a badass – and that I’m strong enough to handle anything life throws my way.

See?? Those are ABS!
See?? Those are ABS!

It’s a little cheesy, but hey – I know I’m not the only one! And it DOES work. My muscles are coming out of my arms, my abs are finally getting more definition, and my legs feel shapely and toned.  I’ll let y’all know how I’m doing after yet another week of lifting and clean eating.

Here’s some motivation for doing some strength training, ladies! I’m no fitness model, and I don’t aim to be, but I’m super happy with where I’m at and with where I’m heading 🙂

 

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Posted in Lifting, Uncategorized

Fitness is Worth the Fight

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Fitness is, without a doubt, worth the struggle. But for most of us, the battle of the bulge seems more like an all-out war – that we never seem to win. I’ve definitely reached lots of little goals, like running a 13k race, lifting heavier weights and conquering my former inability to perform a proper squat. But despite a slew of small-scale victories, I still feel like a sad, sore loser. Why? Becuase I can’t seem to win the damn war.

It’s not that I’m terribly unfit – I know that I am in decent shape – but I’m just not where I want to be. Maybe I’ve spent too much time on pinterest and following fitness junkies on instagram, my expectations are maybe a little high. Yes, I do want a fitspo-worthy bod from head to toe. But I am more than willing to put in the work.

At the beginning of the summer, I was stoked on my fitness level; I was alternating weights, surfing, and 5-mile runs on a daily basis with some double-days every week. I ate healthy and could see the beginnings of a sexy little four-pack coming to the surface. It took me about six long months to get there, with plenty of breakdowns and binges in between, but I did it. I was on my way to where I’d always wanted to be. Super duper fit.

But then summer actually happened, and all that progress went down the drain. I graduated college, which meant an onslaught of celebrations centered around food. And since I’d been depriving myself for months and had hit a major lifetime milestone, some indulging was bound to happen. I also spent my entire summer up until August traveling between Hawaii, California, Europe, and Indonesia – and a girl can only do so many sit-ups on the road. Fitness is the result of habits – consistent, daily efforts towards a single goal. It’s not exactly easy to keep up habits when everything that forms them (i.e., repetition, access to an oven & fridge, familiar surroundings) are fleeting.

I’m not mad at myself, becaues I don’t regret that pastries I ate in Paris or fried rice in Indonesia. I lived my post-college summer in the moment, happy, and with knowledge of the consequences. Since I’d been fit before, I just expected my body to bounce back faster – but we all know that the body will do as it pleases. I’m proud that my travels didn’t make me overweight or lose interest in fitness, but it is hard to start over from square one.

Now, instead of pushing myself, I have to hold myself back to prevent injuries and over-soreness. I’m chomping at the bit to conquer my former deadlifts and show off in the gym, but I have to take it slow. Like any aspiration or relationship, you have to build it up properly to get the results you want – and I’ll have to somehow find the patience to rebuild my progress.

Happy lifting,

Nikki