This Year I Gained 15 Pounds… Of Muscle.

I just turned 31, and in an attempt to continue on my quest of empowerment, am going to do the thing that terrifies me the most. I’m going to tell you how much I weigh.

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In exactly one year, I’ve gone from 153 to 168. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that Dairy Queen opened in NYC.

Gaining weight is something I’m REALLY good at. When I was 13, my family moved across the country to California, and my friends were replaced with McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Value Meals. I went from a size 6 to a size 12, gaining 30 pounds in a matter of months. 30 pounds I have been fighting to lose ever since.

Sometimes to lose weight, you have to put it on first, and that brings me to my latest set of “Skinny Girl Problems”. Last year was all about cardio. I was at spin class 24/7, turned the treadmill into my part-time residence, and when I did use weights, they were the lightest ones possible.

The weight seemed to just fall off. The more I sweat, the more I lost. I got to my lowest weight since high school, which you might remember reading about last year. But I wasn’t strong. I couldn’t do a push up. My lower back was a mess. And strength training was a concept as mysterious to me as wanting to go to a Dave Matthews concert.

My workout instructor, the great Angel Ortiz at Crunch, starts every month by saying, “change something”, and this year I took that advice to heart. I traded out my spin classes for strength training classes, and now there are muscles where my fat used to be.

I earned every single one of the 15 pounds I gained this year through long-ass sweat sessions, crazy tough workouts, a gazillion squats, and lifting all the weights. I gave my whole exercise regimen an overhaul, and in doing so, lowered my percentage of body fat, went down 1-2 sizes (depending on the store), and am now considered “acceptable” instead of obese.

Push-ups have become something I’m excited for, because I can actually do them. I love the definition in my quads, right above my knee. I love that I just had to switch to even heavier weights because the lighter ones were too easy. And finally, I love that my hip problem has chilled the eff out, because my back is getting stronger.

All of this kind of hit me in the last month. I was lucky enough to travel to Bermuda, and had an insane epiphany. As I stepped out in my new bikini, 100% conscious of my rolls, stretch marks, and cellulite, I looked out at the bluest water I’ve ever seen, saw the palm trees swaying in the wind, and felt the soft, warm sand on my feet. It took my breath away, and I realized that the world is just too freaking beautiful to worry about what little ole me looks like in a swimsuit. I’m the only one thinking about my flaws because there are too many other incredible things to look at instead.

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So now, a few days into my 31st year, it’s time as Angel says to, “change something”. And the thing I plan to change is the idea that my body is something to be ashamed of. Right now it’s the result of a crap ton of hard work, and I’m excited for what next year’s fitness milestone is going to be. Maybe by then I’ll be able to do a pull up, or have 1 or 2 abs.

A girl can dream.

The first thing I did on my bday was go on a long run... Who am I?

The first thing I did on my bday was go on a long run… Who am I?

 

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Maureen swears by SoulCycle, but don’t call her a “fitness enthusiast”

The holiday weekend brought sun, fun, and a steady diet of bagels, cheese, beer, and chips, so there’s no better time for some serious fitness inspiration. In this special edition of “Skinny Girl Problems, I’m getting to the bottom of SoulCycle, with fellow Conqueror Maureen Granados. She was nice enough to talk to me about the softer side of the exercise institution, and Maureen’s story of dedication, perseverance, and getting in shape will definitely have you excited for your next workout. I know her Facebook posts always get me stoked for mine.

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 A lot of people’s fitness/health journey starts with an “A HA!” moment. What inspired you to get in shape?

It’s funny – I’ve never considered myself a fitness enthusiast, and still don’t…but I guess the “A HA” moment came in February 2013, when I was knee-deep in an intense work project, eating poorly out of stress and not really exercising.  It wasn’t so much an “I want to get in shape” situation as much as it was “I’d like to not completely destroy my well-being over the next two months.”  I knew regular exercise would be the best medicine but I was bad at self-motivating…so I also knew I needed something that would force me to show up, led by someone who would kick my ass.

Enter my old friend Bethany Lyons, who is an instructor at SoulCycle (one of the originals, in fact), who’d been trying to get me to come to her class there since the place opened.  Finally, I was ready to take her up on it…and I fell in love right away!  (Seriously…her class is mind-blowingly amazing.  I can’t believe I’m saying that about ANY sort of exercise, but it’s true.)

What kinds of exercise are you doing?

Besides SoulCycle, I also take yoga at Bethany’s own studio (Lyons Den Power Yoga).  I find that the two exercises complement each other really well, and having grown up dancing, I’ve always done best in a group exercise setting.  However…recently I’ve also sloowwwwly started incorporating running back in to my fitness regime…and am kind of liking it.

Tell us about the results! What are some of the rewards of all your hard work?

Again, I’m not a fitness junkie so I don’t weigh myself or track calories burned or anything like that.  I guess the best results have been those I can’t quantitatively measure: a renewed sense of self, a completely energized outlook, boosted confidence…the list goes on.

What have you found to be the key in staying motivated and dedicated to your workouts?

I think the key was finding something (or things) that I liked.  It’s easy to keep coming back when it’s fun.  Also, both Soul and Lyons Den foster a strong sense of community amongst their students.  While it’s implied at both studios that mostly everyone is there to keep healthy and stay in shape, really what instructors at both studios emphasize – and what I find to be the attitude of many of my fellow riders/yogis – is that everyone should show up with the intention of doing their best and inspiring others to do the same.  The energy this creates in each space is incredible – I will say that I have been pushed in these classes by my fellow students as much as the instructors sometimes!  And, as a result, I’ve made some phenomenal new friends who not only motivate me in class, but whose support extends far beyond the bike and the mat as well.

I’ve heard Soul Cycle can be pretty intense! What about them keeps you going back?

It’s definitely not an easy workout!  I love so many things about it, but most of all I love that it’s a workout for your body, mind AND spirit all at once (as cheesy as that may sound).  Through Soul, I have built not only physical strength but also emotional strength through the supportive yet challenging environment created by my fellow riders and the instructors.  Speaking of which: the instructors are amazing!  You’ll never experience the same class twice, and there is someone for everyone.  The four with whom I regularly ride are, for me, role models on and off the bike, and all play a major role in my dedication to SoulCycle.  I’m very lucky to know them!

What has been your proudest fitness moment?

I surprised myself recently – I signed up for a little 5K on Long Island just to see if I could do it.  I didn’t really set any goals but was just a little hopeful I could finish in 30 minutes (I’m not a runner AT ALL, so this is a good time for me)…and I ended up running it in 28 minutes and change!  It was an amazing feeling to have run faster than I ever have in my life, with seemingly less effort than when I made slower times.  I guess the work is paying off!  🙂

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“This was taken following one of Bethany’s recent SoulCycle classes.  I’m second in from the left; Bethany is next to me to my left (wearing the bandana)… We had just had an amazing class and were, simply put, just so purely happy to know each other and be in each others’ presence that morning.  This photo makes me smile every time I look at it.  Oh…and hopefully no one involved minds my posting a sweaty picture of them to the internet!”

 

30 Going on 16: How I Got to my Lowest Weight Since High School

As promised in my last Skinny Girl Problems post, I turned 30 this weekend, and I did it at my lowest weight since I was 16. Leading up to my birthday, I was set on losing 2 pounds in the last 2 weeks of my twenties, but that didn’t happen… BECAUSE I LOST THREE! It wasn’t a fluke, or due to a visit from the magic weight loss fairy, which I wish was a real thing, but rather a few minor changes that took some hard work. Here are what I believe to be the keys to my success.

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MY FITNESS PAL

The first thing most nutritionists and personal trainers will tell you is to write down every thing you eat. They want you to account for every bite, every morsel, every drop of food you put in your body, so that they (and you) can see the reality of what’s going on. Back in the day, I was a HUGE advocate for the Livestrong App. It was the first thing I downloaded when I switched over to using an iPhone, but I eventually got frustrated with Livestrong’s limited capabilities (and not to mention lazy) and ultimately clicked “uninstall”.

At the suggestion of my spin teacher, who I’ll talk more about in a minute, I decided I should start logging my food again, and all signs pointed to My Fitness Pal. It had the most positive reviews, seemed to be the most user friendly, and was totally free.

After two weeks of inputting all my food, drinks, and exercise, my weight loss has been kickstarted. Turns out the little I thought I was eating turned out to be a whole lot more. Seeing the numbers in front of me has caused a decrease in my snacking, and an increase in my effort to maintain a more balanced diet. Which leads me to my next topic…

PROTEIN, PROTEIN, PROTEIN

For a whole bunch of reasons, I am a vegetarian. And because I am a vegetarian, protein is at a premium. I’ve been eating cheese all along… because, duh, it’s delicious, but few months ago, I decided to start eating eggs, greek yogurt, and milk again, especially after working out. The second I did that, my muscles started looking more like Britney at the VMA’s in 2001, and less like Britney at the VMA’s in 2007.

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Aside from feeling more cut, protein has helped me feel more full and satisfied after meals. That said, getting enough of the all-powerful protein is a constant struggle. Something about the synthetic stuff rubs me the wrong way, so I’m constantly trying to sneak it into every meal through greens, beans, and nuts. But if any of you have any suggestions of foods I could be eating, please please PLEASE leave them in the comments section!

CRUNCH GYM

My one year Crunch-iversary is only a few days away, and is what got this whole thing started. If you’re going to join a gym, join this one. It’s affordable, memberships are month to month, the classes are out of control good, every machine is top of the line, they have Bliss products in the locker room, and it’s SO CLEAN!

Crunch is full of helpful, friendly rock stars who make the whole experience of the gym a great one, but I have to give a shout out to the people that have been clutch in my time there. First off, Liz Barkan might just be the best spin teacher in New York City. She’s so good that I wake my butt up every Saturday morning for her 9:15am class. Second, Angel Ortiz is a miracle worker. His cardio tai box class, which incorporates high intensity interval training, makes you feel like a badass and has helped me go down a size. Finally, I start most of my workouts with a high five from Wesley, who works at the front desk at the 38th street location. He is possibly the most friendly and helpful person I’ve ever met, and saying hi to him has become one of the highlights of my workout.

BATHING SUIT SEASON

I’ll be spending most of July at the beach, and being able to rock these new purchases has been a huge source of inspiration.

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Victoria’s Secret // H&M // Old Navy

I still have ten more pounds I’d like to lose, and would love to hear about YOUR weight loss journey! Can’t wait to read your comments below!