Shapely Calves

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Happy Weekend! This week has been an odd one for weather, starting out in the teens and finishing up the week at 75 degrees!
Make up your mind!? Geesh!! 🙂 Despite the bizarre weather, a few awesome things happened this week. This week is the official “12 weeks out” from my show (Battle on the Beach—March 29th), so I have been working both mentally and physically to prepare for this adventure. Another great thing that happened…..a month ago, I was asked to write an article on calf exercises for an awesome, local health and fitness magazine, Oblique Magazine annnnnnnd that magazine hit the stands this week! So that was quite exciting. 🙂

I’ve decided the first thing I am going to focus on for my New Years resolution (fitness/nutrition education/blogging) is workouts for each muscle group. The most common question I am asked is “what do you do when you workout?”. So I think starting with workouts will be a good start and we will hit the myths and nutrition portion next…..(even though the nutrition aspect is arguably more important) 🙂 This week, I will share with you a great calf workout and post the actual article I wrote for Oblique Magazine. If you want more information on the magazine or want to check out their other awesome articles…find them on Facebook. Oblique Magazine of Charleston.

Here is the article! I will write the descriptions below the article, in case it is difficult to read!

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For each exercise do 3 sets, 20-25 reps. Don’t forget to stretch at the end! 🙂
1. Standing Calf Raise
Adjust the shoulder pads to the correct height. Facing the machine, position toes and balls of feet on calf block with heels and arches extending off. Exhale as you raise your heels by pointing toes and extending ankles as high as possible. Inhale as you lower your heels until the calves are flexed.

2. Calf Raises on Leg Press
Using the leg press machine, sit down and place your legs on the platform directly in front of you, shoulder width apart. Position the toes and balls of feet on the platform with the arches and heels extending off. Inhale as you point toes and press on the platform, raising your heels by extending your ankles as high as possible. Inhale as you lower your heels to the starting position.

3. Donkey Calf Raise
You can use any sort of platform for this exercise. Position toes and balls of feet on the platform with the arches and heels extending off. Bend over and grasp a knee high bar or place forearms on a thigh high surface. Exhale and raise heels by extending ankles as high as possible. Inhale and lower heels by bending ankles until calves are stretched.

4. Downward Dog Calf Stretch
Begin in a plank pose with hands under shoulders. Lift pelvis up, making a “V” with your body. Lightly press down one foot flat to the ground while using the other foot to stabilize it. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds then switch legs.

Xo
JS

It’s That Time of Year….

I am all for fresh starts and new beginnings, so I am that person who LOVES to make New Year’s Resolutions (NYR). 🙂

As most people do, I make resolutions to better myself.  (I will get enough sleep every night, I will prepare my food and gym bag the night before, I will have a more optimistic attitude, etc.) This year I decided I want to do something different and it primarily revolves around this blog.  (Which means I need to start blogging again!) The majority of people’s NYR have to do with fitness and health.  People want to eat “properly”…but what qualifies as a “healthy” diet? People want to get to the gym more….but what to do when arriving at the gym? People want to lose weight….but what is the most effective/healthiest way to do this? For my 2014 NYR, I have determined I want to help educate as many people as possible on fitness and health, with a primary focus on nutrition for living a long healthy life. I am going to do some sort of series (maybe weekly?) on health and nutrition topics.  Starting in January I want to do a “Myth Busters” series to debunk the most common health myths.  I am so excited to start doing this because I LOVE talking about health and nutrition and because I will be learning more and more about these topics as the year progresses. 🙂 Happy New Year Everyone!!

XO

Julia

Reading the Label

Eating the right foods is obviously one of the major components of living a healthy lifestyle.  But…what is consider “healthy” and what is considered “unhealthy”?

It is best to buy food that is unpackaged. WHY? You want to buy food without a label because that means, (or is SUPPOSED to mean), that food has not been altered from it’s original state.  Of course, if you buy produce from the grocery store that produce has more than likely been sprayed with fertilizers/chemicals/hormones/steroids/etc. However, nothing has been added to it.  (i.e. extra sodium, sugar, fat, etc.) You know, that when you put that food into your mouth, you are only taking in the nutrients provided by that specific food.  That is why buying fresh food is ideal.  However, it is not always practical! Fresh food spoils faster (because it does not contain preservatives); sometimes, it is more expensive; perhaps it is difficult to find what you are looking for. Whatever the reason is, I know it isn’t realistic to think we can strictly buy fresh.  At least, FOR ME, it isn’t practical especially with the amount of food I eat.

If you can’t buy produce or meat fresh, the next best option is frozen, try to NEVER buy canned foods.  When buying frozen, the FIRST THING you want to look at is the sodium.  Salt is a natural preservative and is, more often than not, used when preparing frozen foods.  Try to find frozen foods that say things like, “No salt added”, “No extra preservatives” AND read the nutrition facts for the sodium content.  According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM), we are only suppose to consume 1,500 mg of sodium per day.  That is roughly 1/2 teaspoon of table salt!!! That is why it is imperative to check your sodium content.

Obviously, everything we buy is not meat and produce, so being able to properly read a nutrition label is crucial.  The big food companies are notorious for throwing around phrases like, “No Sugar” “Low Fat” “Cholesterol Free” and people take the phrases the wrong way.  The article, Reading Food Nutrition Labels by the American Heart Association explains what you are looking at when reading a nutrition label.

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Start here. Note the size of a single serving and how many servings are in the package.

Check total calories per serving. Look at the serving size and how many servings you’re really consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the Percent Daily Value (% DV).

Limit these nutrients. Remember, you need to limit your total fat to no more than 56–78 grams a day — including no more than 16 grams of saturated fat, less than two grams of trans fat, and less than 300 mg cholesterol (for a 2,000 calorie diet).

Get enough of these nutrients. Make sure you get 100 percent of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

Quick guide to % DV. The % DV section tells you the percent of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV — 5 percent or less is low. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV — 20 percent or more is high.

Here are more tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:

  • Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator.
  • In general, as you think about the amount of calories in a food per serving, remember that for a 2,000-calorie diet:
    • 40 calories per serving is considered low;
    • 100 calories per serving is considered moderate; and
    • 400 calories or more per serving is considered high.
  • There is no % DV shown for trans fat on the panel because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have enough scientific information to set this value. We recommend eating less than 20 calories or (less than two grams of trans fat) a day – that’s less than 1 percent of your total daily calories (for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).
  • When the Nutrition Facts panel says the food contains “0 g” of trans fat, it means the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
  • When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, you could quickly reach your daily limit of trans fat.

In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, a lot of foods today also come with nutrient content claims provided by the manufacturer. These claims are typically featured in ads for the foods or in the promotional copy on the food packages themselves. They are strictly defined by the FDA. The chart below provides some of the most commonly used nutrient content claims, along with a detailed description of what the claim means.

If a food claims to be… It means that one serving of the product contains…
Calorie free Less than 5 calories
Sugar free Less than 0.5 grams of sugar
Fat
Fat free Less than 0.5 grams of fat
Low fat 3 grams of fat or less
Reduced fat or less fat At least 25 percent less fat than the regular product
Low in saturated fat 1 gram of saturated fat or less, with not more than 15 percent of the calories coming from saturated fat
Lean Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Extra lean Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Light (lite) At least one-third fewer calories or no more than half the fat of the regular product, or no more than half the sodium of the regular product
Cholesterol
Cholesterol free Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat
Low cholesterol 20 or fewer milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Reduced cholesterol At least 25 percent less cholesterol than the regular product and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Sodium
Sodium free or no sodium Less than 5 milligrams of sodium and no sodium chloride in ingredients
Very low sodium 35 milligrams or less of sodium
Low sodium 140 milligrams or less of sodium
Reduced or less sodium At least 25 percent less sodium than the regular product
Fiber
High fiber 5 grams or more of fiber
Good source of fiber 2.5 to 4.9 grams of fiber

If you can’t remember the definitions of all of the terms, don’t worry. You can use these general guidelines instead:

  • “Free” means a food has the least possible amount of the specified nutrient.
  • “Very Low” and “Low” means the food has a little more than foods labeled “Free.”
  • “Reduced” or “Less” mean the food has 25 percent less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO PAY ATTENTION TO
  1. Read the serving size!!! When the package of Oreos (which I do not recommend buying, it is simply an example….although I DO LOVE OREOS) says there is 26g of sugar….that does not mean for the entire package. That number is relevant to the serving size, which is probably 3 cookies. If that package contains 27 cookies, then the sugar for the WHOLE PACKAGE is 234 grams of sugar!!!!!!!! (27 divided by 3 is 9….9 times 26 is 234).
  2. Check your sodium, calories, sugar, and protein.  These are the most important nutrients to pay attention to.
  3. Sugar Alcohol is different from Sugar…but it is still a sweetener and not great for you.  Sugar is defined as table sugar or sucrose.  Sugar Alcohols are typically artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, maltitol, lactitol, etc.  Livestrong compares the two in their article Sugar vs Sugar Alcohol
  4. ALWAYS read the ingredients list.  If you don’t know what something is that is listed….DON’T BUY IT!!! You should know everything that you are putting into your body.

Hopefully this will help the next time you are in the grocery store! I will be doing a post on Macronutrients and how much of each you need per meal and day very soon!! 🙂

XO

JS

NPC Southern States

I competed in my first NPC show this past weekend. It wasn’t that long ago that I blogged about going to Bombshell Camp! (12 weeks, to be exact.) These past 12 weeks have been incredible.  I have learned extensive amounts about lifting, cardio, and nutrition.  In addition to those, I have learned a great deal about myself, including what I am capable of, (which is ALWAYS, more than I think I am).  I was forced to become better at time management.  3 workouts a day IN ADDITION TO school, 2 jobs and just simply living life made a pretty busy schedule. Needless to say, it was not easy, BUT it was 100% worth it.

I learned a great deal from this past weekend and the weeks leading up to the show.  These are 10 things I would tell new competitors based on my experiences.  OF COURSE, there are many more than this, but I think these are the most important.

1.  Do not wait until the last minute to push yourself. 

  • If I had pushed myself as hard as I did my last two weeks of training, I would have been in much better shape and wouldn’t have had to kill myself last minute.

2.   Over packing is a good thing. 

I packed entirely too much, but I ended up having things I didn’t even think I would need!

3.  Despite over packing, making a checklist and checking it twice….you WILL forget something.

  •  Luckily, there were multiple drug stores and grocery stores around our hotel.  I forgot a few minor things, but was able to run out and pick them up.

4.    It doesn’t matter how careful you are, you will mess up your tan. 

  • Fortunately, the tanning company was doing touch ups prior to the show to fix all the mess ups.

5.  A good night’s sleep is imperative the night before a show. 

  • Show days are LONG days.  I did not realize how exhausting it would be! The length of time from the Athlete’s meeting through the end of pre-judging was 8 hours.  Finals lasted from 6 pm to at least 12 am.  (I left after my class went at 11 pm).

6.    Don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing back stage.

  • Competitors backstage were doing all sorts of crazy things.  Drinking wine, taking shots of Tequila, eating cookies and sweets, etc.  You just have to stick with your plan and block them out.

7.  Take as many pictures as possible. 

  • Pictures are captured memories and you will want to have those.  Also, pictures are a good way for YOU to see how you look on stage.  The way you think you look and the way you actually look tend to differ. By looking at pictures you are able to see what you did and critique your posing.

8.  SMILE

  • No matter what…smile! Even when you think no one can see you.  My back felt like it was about to break, my feet hurt like I had been dancing all night long in brand new cheap heels, my legs felt like they were going to give out, but I kept smiling.  The more I hurt, the more I smiled.  The harder I smiled, the more my cheeks hurt, which took my mind off the other pain! It was a fun little mental game I played with myself.

9.  Remember to have fun!

  • I thought that walking out on that stage would be terrifying. Before walking out there I thought, “You have worked your ass off for this moment, ENJOY IT and HAVE FUN”.  Being on stage was not scary at all! It was actually really fun and I can’t wait to do it again!!

10. No matter what the outcome is, be proud of yourself. 

  • You have to remember that you just put yourself in a completely vulnerable situation! On stage in front of hundreds of people you don’t know, in a bikini, being JUDGED on how you look.  That alone is a HUGE accomplishment.
  • Being upset after not placing is ok and that will happen. After finals, when I didn’t place, despite being first call out…I teared up as I was walking off stage.  Of course, I was upset and it took my coach talking to me to make everything better.  She reminded me that this was my first show and that even making first call out during pre-judging was a huge accomplishment.  Making second call out during open was an equally impressive accomplishment.  I had to remind myself of where I started and to be proud of myself for making it this far in such a short amount of time.  I also thought about I could only improve from this show and there would be more opportunities to compete and earn that pro card.

This week I will be deciding what show I will be competing in next! I’m thinking NPC Coastal USA in Atlanta on August 17…..but I will talk to my coach and figure it out!!

Here is a link to pictures from the show!!

NPC Southern States 2013 Pictures

XO

It’s Not About Perfection…

It has been OVER a month since my last post! Yikes! This past month has been extremely hectic with school, work, gym, and prepping for my show in 2 WEEKS! I never would have expected preparation for a show to be as hard as it is.  I knew it would be difficult physically; however, in no way, did I account for the mental hardship of show prep.

My coach now has me on 3 a days.  That’s 2 cardio sessions and lifting in between.  This is something that I really struggled with.  For the first week, I was simply trying to figure out to fit that into my daily routine along with work, school and my other responsibilities.  I had to sit down and plan out each day practically minute by minute.  After figuring out HOW to fit it all in, I had to prepare myself mentally for it.

People always talk about how your mind will quit long before your body will. On my first “3 a day”, I struggled with this problem during my PM cardio.  I kept thinking, “You can’t do this. You’re body cannot handle this.” Know what I did? I quit.  I threw in the towel halfway through my cardio and went home.  When I got home, I was so disappointed in myself! Even in the car ride home I wanted to turn around and go back to the gym and finish what I had started.  But, I didn’t.  That decision played through my mind all night.  I kept thinking about it and continued to beat myself up. Then something someone once told me popped into my head.

It’s not about perfection. It’s about progress.

That statement couldn’t be more true.  If you are focused on perfection more than you are on progress, you will never be content with what you have done.  Instead of beating myself up for only making it through half of my PM cardio, I should have been high-fiving myself for making it through half of it! I remember my first week with Bombshell, (which was only 10 weeks ago!), and struggling with just AM cardio! Conquering cardio, lifting and then doing more cardio was actually a huge step and that’s how I should look at it.  🙂

It is now two weeks later and honestly, I still struggle with 3 a days.  Every day is a mental struggle.  There are 3 things that help me through…

1.  Eric Thomas

I found this guy by searching for motivational videos on YouTube. (because I’m a sucker for those. I usually cry when I watch them) Something about his voice and what he is saying pushes me to work harder and do more.  The first video I watched is linked below.  I listen to this EVERY morning while warming up for cardio.  I have him quoted in my workout book saying,

Pain is temporary. At the end of pain is success.

This constantly reminds me of the goal I am working towards and keeps pushing me in that direction.

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2.  My teammate, Stephanie.

Watching how hard she works truly inspires me to work harder.  She’s puts everything she has into training and working towards her Pro Status goal.

3.  Knowing that I have to get on stage in front of hundreds of people in a tiny bikini.

🙂 That’s not necessarily all of that reason.  It’s more along the lines of, not wanting to have ANY regrets while on stage or after.  I don’t want to do horrible in the show and look back at all the things I could have done differently. I want to go into this show, knowing that I worked MY hardest and gave it MY all.

These next two weeks are certainly going to be a challenge. But I am excited for what they will bring. 🙂

 

XO

Eric Thomas Motivational Video 

Gym Tank DIY

Recently, people have been asking me about my workout tanks and where I bought them/if I made them.

Whelp, I made them and you can too! 🙂 I can’t take credit for coming up with the idea (although I modified it slightly). I found it on Pinterest. I have done this with several different shirt materials and I have discovered that I like the thin, soft fabric the best.

1. Choose a T-shirt you no longer wear. Whatever graphic is on the front will remain, however, the back one will be cut out. For this tutorial, I used an old shirt I received from my boyfriend. It’s a large. Typically I use an old shirt of MINE, but I wanted to see how this one turned out.

2. Lay the shirt flat on the ground, with the back down. Make sure the seams are aligned, otherwise your cuts will turn out lopsided.

 

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3. Cut off the collar. Follow the FRONT neck line, cutting the front and back at once.

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4. Cut off the sleeves. Begin at the top of the shirt about 1.5 inches from the neckline and cut down. Begin to angle the cut out to the edge of the shirt around chest level.

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5. Once removing one sleeve, use the sleeve you just removed as a guide for the other side. Make sure you line the sleeve up properly.

 

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6. Now for the back!!! Start by lining up the left side seam with the right side seam.

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7. Starting at the top of the shirt, you are going to cut a V. The widest part of the V will be at the top of the shirt. The easiest way to do this, is to cut a right triangle.

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(Not the best cut, but it works!)

8. Now, lay the shirt either on it’s front or back….it doesn’t matter which side.  You will now cut off the bottom of the shirt. You can cut off as much as you would like, depending on the length of the shirt.

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9. Cut the strip of fabric, so that it becomes one long strip.

10. With the shirt laying face down, run the strip of fabric through the arm holes. ( you will be tying this around the straps in the back to make it racerback)

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11.  Tie the strip of fabric into a knot or bow (I like the bow!) 🙂

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And you’re done!

Final Result…

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OBVIOUSLY….a smaller starting shirt will produce a smaller finished shirt. 🙂

“What Are You Doing This For?”

Since deciding that I did, in fact, want to compete in the NPC/IFBB and joined Team Bombshell, I have been asked multiple times to explain exactly what I am doing.

You wouldn’t think that would be a difficult question to answer.  But, it is! I guess the reason it is so hard to explain is because of the associations that people make with “bodybuilding”.  People automatically think of the body builders with gigantic muscles and bulging veins.  That’s what I used to think of! I try to avoid the word “bodybuilding” but when I use the word “bikini” people also think of the wrong thing! Recently, I had one guy say, “Oh, so you do bikini contests!” NOOOOOO! It is not the same as the girls who get up on a plywood stage in tiny bikinis and flash the crowd.  That is NOT what I am doing.  I came across this article that explains the different divisions in bodybuilding. I think I will print this out and give this to the future people who ask me questions about it.  🙂

 

The International Federation of Bodybuilding was established in 1946 by Joe and Ben Weider, for male bodybuilding competition. It may have started out as a sport for men, but women started competing in the IFBB at the professional level in 1980 with the Ms. Olympia competition. Since then there have been three other categories that women can compete in under the IFBB or the amateur organization, National Physique Committee. Now girls have a choice to be bodybuilders, fitness, figure or bikini competitors.

Traditional Bodybuilding

Female bodybuilders try to add lean muscle mass much like male bodybuilders, with very little body fat. In a bodybuilding competition women will have a comparison round where they are put up on-stage in groups and instructed to perform mandatory poses that show off their muscle definition and balance. There is also a round where they perform a posing routine set to music. In this round competitors can show off their physique and personality.

Fitness

Fitness is softer than bodybuilding, in that the competitors do not take their body fat as low, and are not looking to add a lot of muscle mass. Instead they are looking to be athletic in appearance. Women compete in a two-piece swimsuit comparison round with heels, but there is no posing like bodybuilding. Instead judges are looking at your shape from different angles. There is also a fitness routine round set to music. Competitors show off their strength, flexibility and any gymnastics training. They can show off their personality and their physical fitness.

Figure

Figure competitors are looking for the same type of physique as fitness competitors, but there is no fitness routine. Competitors compete in a two-piece swimsuit and heels, and are judged from all angles against other contestants. The goal is an athletic appearance with wide shoulders and slim hips and thighs.

Bikini

The Bikini division is the newest category included in the NPC and IFBB for women. In this category women are still very lean, but are not looking for the same muscle definition that bodybuilders, fitness and figure competitors aim for. It is a softer look, and competitors are judged in a two-piece swimsuit and high heels. Judges compare based on balance and poise, as well as overall physical appearance. You are also only judged from the front and back, no side views like the other three categories.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/471604-the-types-of-bodybuilding-for-girls/#ixzz2S3MyCLUW

As for the WHY…

I briefly discussed this in my very first post, And So It Begins…, but now I will go into a LITTLE more detail.

I will start with one a brief summary of my favorite analogy. I could literally go on for days on this topic, but I will spare you 🙂

Imagine you were only allowed ONE CAR in a lifetime.  How would you treat that car? Would you take the time to perform the monthly maintenance? Make sure to wash it frequently? Complete routine checkups to ensure there are no serious problems with it? How would you drive that car? Would you be overly cautious to ensure you were not involved in any accidents? I know that I would take care of that car, because if something happened to it then I would be out of luck because I wouldn’t be able to get another.

Why would you treat your body any differently? You are only given ONE BODY.  You wouldn’t pour hazardous waste into your gas tank of your car….so why put JUNK into your body? I’m not just talking about junk food…..JUNK includes cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, chemically engineered food, etc.  A majority of people don’t ever stop to think about the longterm effects that are caused by the harmful substances they consume. It’s certainly not due to a lack of knowledge either.  EVERYONE knows that cigarettes have the potential to cause cancer, the alcohol destroys your liver, drugs ruin your brain (and much more), and the chemical enhanced food we consume has a variety of harmful effects on our bodies.

The number one reason that I am doing all of this, is because my body deserves this treatment.  It deserves to consume healthy, CLEAN food; to be put to work and improve; to be challenged to grow mentally AND physically.  I want my body to last a long time!

The second reason I am doing this is because…it’s something I truly enjoy.  It’s a HUGE learning experience.  I have learned so much about nutrition and working out in the past 2 years.  (I’ve learned a substantial amount in the past month!!!) Team Bombshell has been AMAZING.

As mentioned in my original blog post, my career goal is to become a registered dietitian. Needless to say, diet and nutrition are something I am greatly interested in which makes the eating clean portion incredibly easy for me. The gym has become part of my daily routine, although the cardio portion was NOT easy at first. My body, in a way, craves the challenge, sweat, soreness, and the rewarding feeling after completing my workouts. Knowing that I am improving my self mentally and physically is  a reward all in itself.

Everyone’s motivation will be different, but these are the main reasons behind mine.

“It doesn’t matter why you do or how you do it, just DO IT”

 

xo