Photos by Christina Emilie
Hi everyone, I’m back with the second update from the new fitness series I started here on Retro Flame. Just incase you missed the Intro post, I’ve basically embarked on a 6 week fitness challenge at The PE Club here in New York where my main goal is to improve my general wellbeing and have more energy. The first 3 weeks have absolutely flown by and I can genuinely say that I feel so much better now that I’m halfway through. I feel like it’s a little early to speak too much about results, etc. but I wanted to give you an overview of the types of exercising I’ve been doing, the foods I’ve been eating along with the main benefits & challenges I’ve faced.
Weekly Fitness Routine
Each week so far has consisted of, more or less, the same workout routine – 2 classes, 2 mornings of cardio & 1 personal training session. So 5 workouts in total. Some weeks, I did a 6th day (maybe just a walk/jog in Central park) but mostly, I stuck with 5. My poor muscles did not love me at the beginning!! The classes I’ve been doing are ‘Long & Lean’ (my favourite) which is quite similar to pilates and really focuses on lengthening & toning your muscles and I’ve also been doing a TRX Kettlebells class which consists of 3 rounds of circuits using TRX equipment & Ketllebells – this one definitely gets your heart racing! For my cardio homework, as I much prefer being outside – I’ve been doing sprints in Central Park. I begin by warming up (my 10 minute walk/jog to the park) and then do 7 30-second sprints (with a minute walk/jog break in between). This is DEFINITELY something that will wake you up. Not only do I want to be toned after all this, I also want to actually be fit and I really do feel that sprinting is a great way to achieve this. Not easy but definitely effective. And then finally, once a week, I meet with my trainer Amanda (6am sessions before work) and do a 1-hour workout which focuses on my core & arms. As soon as I get back to New York in January, I’m going to show you exactly what I do with Amanda on my snapchat (retroflame1) – so keep an eye out for that. I’m also determined to keep this going while I’m home during Christmas so I’ll keep you up to date over the next few weeks too.
Weekly Food Plan
I’m a big believer in the fact that you are what you eat. Having a great fitness routine is one thing, but if you don’t compliment this with a balanced & healthy diet, you just won’t get the results you want. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I am by no means an expert in this area and I am still learning every single day. But I’ve started to figure out what works for me, personally. When I moved to New York first, my diet was all over the place. It’s no lie to say that I ate out more than I cooked on a weekly basis and literally lived on spaghetti & sweet treats. It was NOT good! But I feel like I have finally got into a routine and below are some examples of my weekly meals:
- 2 Boiled/Poached Eggs + Half an Avocado + Black Pepper
- Oatmeal (made with water) + Any kind of Berries
- Acai Bowl + Berries + Coconut Flakes
- Soup -my favourites are Carrot & Ginger or Lentil (fills you up for ages)
- Salad (Usually Greens, Tomatoes, Egg, Cucumber, Chickpeas, Beans, Lentils)
- Quiona Bowl (Quiona mixed with veg)
- Veg/Chicken Stirfry with either quinoa or brown rice
- 1 breast of chicken, sweet potato + green veg (Broccoli/Asparagus/Green Beans)
- Salad plate with humus & wheat/gluten free crackers
- Brown Rice Cakes with Almond Butter
- Dark Chocolate (trying my best to start liking this!!)
- Green Juices (Yes, you can actually get nice ones!)
- Energy Bites (I get mine from Pulp NYC)
Honestly, when it comes to finding a good food routine, it takes a lot of trial and error. I can be a bit boring and stick to the same foods every week but I’m really going to try introducing some new dishes in the new year. Foods I couldn’t live without when trying to be healthy are quinoa, sweet potato, avocado, eggs, berries and almond butter. I’m definitely not vegetarian – I love chicken, steak & shrimp (on occasion) but I definitely wouldn’t have an issue with a meat-free meal. My Mom is a vegetarian, so I’ve always been used to this. Instead, I always try to include beans, lentils, quiona, etc. into my meals. The main foods/food groups I try to avoid are dairy (just doesn’t agree with me here in the US), & white bread. As I said, I am NOT an expert and this is just what works for me so far. I absolutely love following Niomi Smart’s youtube videos to get some meal inspiration and also my friend, Niamh, is always sharing delicious healthy snack/meal recipes on her blog. Of course, I still treat myself from time to time (I’d go insane otherwise + I’m a choc-aholic) but I really do think it’s all about moderation & balance.
Main Benefits So Far
The number one benefit of this whole thing, for me, is having more energy. The first week was definitely a struggle. Getting up earlier to workout takes a lot of getting used to, but once you get into the swing of it, it honestly gets so much easier. There has been some mornings that I’m now actually waking up even before my alarm which is exactly what I wanted. Also, I think there’s a big feeling of achievement if you get your workout in at the beginning of the day. It definitely makes the rest of my day more productive. As well as this, making an effort to workout more definitely encourages me to eat healthier. And finally, starting this fitness regime has meant that I’ve finally faced my fear of the gym. I mentioned in my last post that gyms really intimidate me, so getting over the first 3 weeks has really boosted my confidence. I now understand different exercises, form & machines and it has definitely proved that getting started is half the battle. A big thank you to The PE Club for making this such an enjoyable experience!
Main Challenges So Far
….and of course, there have also been challenges. I think the main challenge for me was to listen to and understand my body. After the first two weeks, I really felt as if I was getting bigger. Now I didn’t start all this to get smaller, but I certainly didn’t want to get bigger so I started to get a little worried. I was doing a lot of leg work and using muscles which hadn’t been used in a LONG time, so what happened was that my muscles started to swell. Something I didn’t know was actually normal!? I spoke with my trainer and we mixed things up a little, so I feel like I’m back to normal again. As well as that, another challenge has been the stiffness. My God – for the first two weeks, I could barely move after workouts. The PE Club suggested I get a foam roller (really cheap on Amazon) to use for 10 minutes before each workout and honestly, this has been working wonders!
Overall, it’s been a really interesting journey so far! As I said, getting started is definitely the hardest part but it only gets easier (& more enjoyable) from there. I head back home to Ireland tomorrow for Christmas and so, of course, there’ll be a few indulgences but I am going to try my best to be as healthy as possible – when I can. I definitely won’t be depriving myself, it’s Christmas after all, but I’m going to stick with my fitness routine. And then as soon as I get back to NY in January, I’ll be finishing out the challenge with Amanda & The PE Club.
Hopefully you found this interesting and let me know if you have any questions!