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How to work out at home – My strategies and tips

I was always positively amazed to see people motivated enough to work out at home, but, for me, external stimulation – like gym classes – was always necessary. Now, I’ve been exercising at home for two months. And as I’ve been feeling delighted and motivated, so I decided to share more of my routine and tips!

My story

I never had huge problems with my weight. Maybe that’s why I never saw the exercises as something to help me losing weight. I know that I have an “average” body (not that I agree with the existence of this standard). I was not used to weighing myself either – I always ate everything I wanted, and my reference was how I felt when I looked in the mirror and how my clothes fit me. At the end of 2012, I was about 10 or 12 pounds above what I consider ideal for myself. Then I decided I was going to lose weight. I started hiking, biking, and I also changed my diet. I cut soda (I didn’t drink much, but we know it’s not healthy!) and made simple changes that helped me. Some of the changes were eating whole-grain bread instead of white bread and preferring skim milk instead of whole milk. I also started looking for more recipes. Finally, my routine changed, and I lost about 10 – 12 pounds in a few months. I decided that I wanted to keep that weight and started to be healthy during the week and eat more only on weekends. At that time, I also enrolled in the gym.

After a while, I moved to New York and kept my weight for a long time. The change I made back in 2012 has always guided me – I really enjoy researching recipes, testing new ingredients, making adaptations. Oh, and here in NYC I also enrolled in the gym. During all this time living abroad, I always had phases with workouts. I still saw exercises as something beneficial for me, but I was never too worried about it. Sometimes, I would go to the gym three times a week; other times, I would go once. But I was never the gym obsessed. When I realized that I was going only once a week because there were no great classes for me, I looked for another gym. Before the pandemic, I went to the new gym 4 times a week because I loved the Zumba and Latin dance classes. I never went to the gym to use the machines and equipment. I needed the group classes. And I liked it so much that I used to go on Saturday and Sunday just so I wouldn’t miss the classes I loved. By finding modalities that I really enjoyed doing, I developed a motivation to do that. Then the pandemic happened, the gyms closed, and everything changed …

Working out at home

When the pandemic started and I found myself having to stay home, I knew it was essential to exercise. More than keeping my weight, I always knew that it was necessary for my mental health. In the beginning, it kinda worked. I followed some dance and HIIT classes on Youtube, but it was not easy to stay focused. When I realized I had not been exercising for over a month. However, I also couldn’t find the motivation to exercise with YouTube videos. My tendency was to always play the videos I already knew; that didn’t challenge me. I just wanted to end it quickly.

At the same time, I was about 5 lb above what I consider ideal for myself. This was enough to make some clothes don’t fit me well. But, I always underestimated this. I thought that I had control and that I could quickly lose these pounds. And that was a big lie that I’ve been telling myself for over a year. So, two months ago, I made a decision to change that. Below, I share with you what worked to make me able to follow an exercise workout routine at home:

  • Personal trainer – my friend Ana told me that she had started exercising with a personal trainer online. She loved the experience, and since I was feeling unmotivated to exercise at home, I decided to try. I had a call with the personal trainer, talked about my goals, and then started a routine with her, three times a week. I need to say that I never cared about personal trainers before. Today, I see how good it is having someone creating a workout routine for you, according to your goals. Cris is a sweet person, caring, and fun. Not to mention that she encourages me a lot, and I learn a lot from her about my body. PS: I know this is a service that not everyone can afford, but if it is on your budget, I highly recommend it. Having someone waiting for you decreases the chances of you giving up when you are exercising at home.
  • Wake up early – if you told me six months ago that I would be exercising Monday through Friday and would be waking up before 7 am, I would probably laugh. Think about a person who likes to sleep, who suffered to get out of bed at 8:15 am and sleeps until 10 am on the weekends. That was me. I always hated waking up early. But I knew it would be better for me to exercise early in the day and cross it off my list. I know myself, and I know how exhausted I am at the end of the day, and I probably wouldn’t compromise. So, when Cris gave me her schedule, I decided to challenge myself. Today, I’m super adapted and, sometimes I wake up before the alarm clock. I love to start my day like this! Something that helped me a lot was that natural daylight entering the room every day – makes my body wakes up naturally. I also try to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Nutritional consultation – as I said earlier, I would like to lose 4-5 pounds, and it was clear to me that I would not lose them by myself. I decided to look for a nutritionist for the first time in my life. I always had a well-balanced diet, but lately, I was eating potato chips at 11 am and drinking a lot of alcohol. I made an appointment with a nutritionist, and she set up an eating plan for me. I confess: I was anxious about the possibility of dieting. First, I thought it would be a sacrifice, but I explained everything to her, and she told me that I wouldn’t feel hungry. Also, she told me that if I didn’t adapt to something, she would adjust. And in fact, it was easier than I imagined and probably because I already had a balanced diet. Still, I needed to learn how to eat better.
  • BeachBody – after a month of eating well + exercising with the personal trainer, I decided to look for an option to do cardio exercises twice a week. I completed my routine with bike rides, but I couldn’t go out cycling all the time. As I was excited about the results, I decided to look for an option for cardio. I started looking for online exercise platforms here in the USA, and, among my research, I really liked BeachBody. Think about Beach Body as a Netflix of workouts. They offer complete fitness programs for any type of body and level: yoga, cardio, dance, strength, etc. You can download the videos and watch offline. I like most because there are several complete programs, 20, 30, 60 days, with different classes for each day. So far, I have taken classes from the Barre Blend and 21 Day Fix programs. For me, the platform earns points for several reasons: diversity of programs, instructors who motivate and make you engaged, and you will probably never watch the same class again. Not to mention that the price is very affordable: $99 for the annual subscription.
  • Motivation and results – according to my personal trainer and the nutritionist, I had excellent results for the first month. I was thrilled and, for me, both the exercises and the “diet” became routine. I am so happy to see the results! I no longer see this as a plan with an end, but as something that I have incorporated into my life. I know that reading this can sound cliché, but I think we have to do what makes sense to us, like finding exercises that we enjoy and not following crazy diets. I believe that by now, everyone has understood that those diets don’t work, right?

Equipment and outfits

  • lululemonI always underestimated some clothes, like the basics and gym clothes. I was the kind of person that used to buy the cheapest options. A friend of mine then gave me a lululemon legging, and I realized the difference in having an item designed for physical exercise. I’m passionate about the brand’s leggings because they give support, stay in place (I hate leggings that keep falling!), and allow the skin to breathe. I recently bought a bra from the brand too, and loved it. If you are going to exercise a lot, opt for investing in high-quality pieces!
  • Under Armour – I needed new bras, and I bought two from this brand as well. I was also impressed with the quality of the fabric. It fits perfectly. Not to mention that the brand is a reference in clothes like this.
  • TheraBand Resistance Band Set – the personal trainer suggested buying a TheraBand kit, which is nothing more than resistance tapes. I bought the kit with the blue and black tapes, and I used them in exercises for the arms and legs.
  • Nice C Adjustable Dumbbell Weight – I love these dumbbells! They come with removable weight bars that allow you to set your desired weight. The ends of the dumbbell can be opened and weight bars can be either added or removed upon your preference. This allows you to efficiently use one set of dumbbells for many exercises instead of buying multiple sets.

Eating well

As I already mentioned, even before following an eating plan with the nutritionist, I considered myself a person with healthy habits. When we talk about healthy choices, it may seem boring or impossible at first. I think it is worth looking for ways that best adapt to your lifestyle and preferences, but above all, allow yourself to try new things. Now, I share some tips and attitudes that help me maintain a healthy diet at home – and when I say “healthy” is not necessarily “light”.

  • Cooking your own food – I never had this problem because I love to cook. Obviously, sometimes I get tired, I run out of ideas or inspiration. Still, I try to make life easier in the kitchen. Planning meals and having pre-prepared meals in the freezer helps a lot! I know I have the advantage of working from home, but for a while, we also tested the meal prep system, cooking everything in batches once a week. I’m not a big fan of reheated food, but I eat leftovers from dinner at the next lunch, for example. I like to have things like quinoa, brown rice, lentils, beans already cooked in my freezer.
  • Sugar – I cut a lot of sugar in my diet. I drink unsweetened coffee and unsweetened tea. But it wasn’t easy. I started little by little: each day, I was putting less sweetener, and my taste was getting used to. Whenever I make a recipe, like a cake, I tend to use less sugar than recommended. We love chocolate and learn to appreciate the low sugar options – I love the 70%! I don’t buy cookies or yogurts full of sugar. Peanut butter is always sugar-free too. And so on. As I also mentioned, I haven’t had any soda in years. Today we have a sparkling water machine, something I love, and that even makes me drink more water!
  • Avoid processed food – when I talked about cooking your own food, I don’t just talk about lunch and dinner, but also about other things. Do you want an example? Bread. I don’t remember when was the last time we’ve purchased bread at the grocery store. Today, we make our bread – and I highly recommend a bread machine. In addition to bread, I’m always testing new recipes, like homemade tomato sauce and also homemade Nutella.
  • No deep frying food – I enjoy fried food – especially french fries, lol – however, at home, I don’t do deep fry. Usually, I only eat fried food when we eat out. We bought an AirFryer, and it is very convenient! We’ve tried so many recipes! This is my AirFryer.
  • Meat – during the last few years, we have significantly reduced the consumption of red meat. First, we stopped eating meat in all meals. At the same time, I’ve always been an enthusiast of vegetarian and vegan recipes. This year, we reduced consumption even more – at home, we usually only buy fish and seafood, and red meat is more for when we eat out. And we’ve been feeling good about that.
  • Ideas, ideas, ideas – I love to eat, and I think every day’s lunch and dinner don’t need to be boring. So, I’m always testing new things, researching, trying different ingredients. Today, my most significant source of research and inspiration for recipes is Pinterest!

Snacks and supplements

As my eating plan and working out routine aim to lose fat and gain muscles, I started to pay more attention to my protein consumption and tried some options for snacks.

  • Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Replacement Powder – Vanilla – as I do not eat animal protein every day, I got a plant-based protein shake. This one doesn’t have that horrible aftertaste. I like to blend with almond milk, bananas, and cocoa powder.
  • Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Bar – for afternoon snacks, I have several options, and sometimes I like to eat a protein bar. This one is plant-based too, and my favorite flavor is S’mores.
  • RXBAR Protein Bar – this is probably one of the most famous protein bars – it takes few ingredients and is delicious. The Chocolate Sea Salt is my choice!
  • Optimum Nutrition Protein Almonds Snack – almonds covered with chocolate. I was impressed with their taste. It is perfect for those moments you wanna eat something sweet.

Conclusions

This has been my routine. But, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a wine or a drink, or that I’ve stopped eating out. I believe we need to find a lifestyle that makes us happy and makes us feel good. I think we need balance and we have to look for it, you know?

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