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Eileen Jones

The Stages of a Dead Lift PR, As Told by Buddy the Elf

Preparing to try for a personal record for any lift is an emotional thing.  You’re nervous, frustrated, and exhilarated all at once.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I’ve expressed some of the things I go through during a training session, as told by my favorite Christmas movie character, Buddy the Elf.

The Night Before

Carb loading for the big day with anything you can get your hands on (preferably candy, candy corns, candy canes, and syrup)…

The Day Of

Walking into the gym ready to dominate like… 

And then you walk to the squat rack and stretch while you mentally prepare yourself… 

While you warm-up, you watch some powerlifters throw around 495 pounds like it’s no problem… 

And, finally, you’re mentally ready and you start setting up your barbell…

Only to drop a 45 pound plate on your foot because you were just so ~in the zone~… 

This psyches you out and you realize that this PR is going to be much more challenging than you thought…

Dropping the barbell mid lift, you get extremely frustrated because you know you’re strong enough to pull this weight…

So you give yourself a pep talk to get your head back in the game…

And just when you think you can’t do it, you hit that PR with such ferocity that you can’t help but do a happy dance… 

Your lifting buddy comes over and is just as proud as you are…

And you walk out of the gym with great pride, either entirely exhausted… 

…or so jazzed about your PR that you can’t help but cheerfully skip out…

Either way, you just did what you once couldn’t do, and you can’t wait to do it again! 

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Fall in Love With Being a “Work in Progress”

You’ve criticized your body for so long. Try loving it and see what happens.

It is unfortunate that an industry that has the potential to be so empowering capitalizes on peoples vulnerabilities and uses them to their advantage more often than not. Yes, I’m talking about the health and fitness industry. 

“Get flat abs fast!” “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!” “Shrink for the Summer!”

These words have all been scribbled across the covers of a few of the latest issues of some of my favorite health magazines. I’m not denying the fact that many of these magazines have some of the most inspiring articles and stories within them, and I read them religiously, but a select few publications grab your attention with unrealistic expectations and that is what drives me nuts.

 

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Being a nutrition and public health student, it is easier for me to notice the absurdity of these claims than the average person because I learn about these things every day. However, what happens when the already self-conscious young girl grocery shopping with her mom sees these magazines in the check-out lane and decides to give it a read? What happens then?

I know…because I’ve been that girl.

You start trying out these crash diets that are promoted as “healthy.” You start comparing yourself to the, often times, photoshopped models on the cover. The little self-esteem that you did have starts to dwindle. And, you feel defeated when the results that you were told you would see in two weeks did not appear.

That’s not what every person who reads a health magazine experiences, but that is what led to a lot of eating issues for me, and I’m sure has been a trigger for many other people, as well.

We’re all a work in progress.

I’ve been known as the “strong” girl my entire life. Strong ice skater. Strong cheerleader. Strong dancer. I gain muscle much easier than the average female, and because of that, my strong, muscular legs were my biggest insecurity. In high school, this led to me taking drastic measures to try and loose the muscle that I wasn’t trying to gain (at the time) in the first place.

I saw women on television that were thin and girls on magazine covers that seemingly had it all, and I placed an unnecessary pressure on myself to look like them in order to feel happy. Reality check: a certain body type is not going to make you any happier or any more confident. Yet, I fell victim to the “Bikini Body in a Week” traps because I didn’t know any better, and this played major tricks on my mind.

Looking back, I was beautiful then, and I’m beautiful now. We’re all a work in progress, and that’s okay.

 

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We have this idea in our mind that “we will be happy when…” and we need to get rid of that notion entirely. It’s unfortunate that we have been led to believe that seeing a lower number on the scale will immediately solve all of our problems. Society has made it so that it feels wrong to be happy and that we always should be striving for more.

Health is not a quick fix.  It is a lifestyle. And each day you have to work for it.

Fitness shouldn’t be about looks, but about loving what your body can do.

The human body is quite remarkable. Your body literally fights every day to keep you alive, yet, we spend so much time hating it. 

We can all reach a place of peace with our bodies, but that peace is not going to be a result of a smaller waist or thinner thighs. That peace is going to be a result of loving yourself throughout your entire journey. Throughout your entire life, really.

If your goal is to lose weight and start eating healthier, love yourself right now. If your goal is to get stronger and fitter, love yourself right now. If your goal is to compete in a bodybuilding competition, love yourself right now.

If you’ve been working towards your goal for months and have seen progress, love yourself right now. If today is the first day of your new lifestyle, love yourself right now.

My point being, if you genuinely try to find self-love at every stage of health and fitness (not just when you reach your goal), you are not going after your goals out of hatred towards your current self, but to better yourself as a whole. If you think about getting fitter or losing weight as a means to enhance the amazing person you already are, then your motivation will be higher and you’ll find the journey a lot more empowering than dreadful.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Don’t let magazine cover girls make you feel inadequate. Most of the time the girl on the cover doesn’t even look like the girl on the cover because of how photoshopped the photos are. If you are taking steps towards better health, your efforts are not any less valid just because a magazine cover is claiming that there is only one type of “bikini body.” 

You are you, and that is your power.

Find empowerment in fitness, not hate. Each workout is making you stronger and each meal is making you healthier. You are doing this for you, not for anyone else. So love yourself, during each phase, because each phase has a purpose, each phase teaches you something new, and each phase is beautiful.

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How to Make Fitness a Life Long Love Affair

“Sometimes, even I get bored with picking things up and putting them down.” -Eileen, weightlifting enthusiast
 
Every once in a while, I look at a treadmill and think, wouldn’t it be fun to try running one day?  But then I go to the weight room and crank out my squats and dead lifts per usual because that’s just what I do. -Also Eileen, weightlifting enthusiast
 
Are you getting into a funk with your fitness routine?  Is your pep sadly missing from your step every time you head into the gym?  Well, I’ve got the scoop on why we fall victim to routine, and how to make fitness your favorite thing all over again.
 

 

We are creatures of habit.  

I admit it. Once I find a leg day routine that makes my want to cry while I do it, I want to do that routine every time I train because it makes me feel those #bootygainz for days after and because it feels effective. But, fitness is not one-size fits all. What works for you, might not work for me. And, what challenges me, might not challenge you. In order to keep making gains and keep getting stronger, we have to keep shocking our bodies with different movements and training styles to keep the momentum going.
 
If 2017 is really going to be the year you become your strongest and fittest self, let’s follow through with a more well-rounded training regime so we can maintain our excitement for fitness!
 

Go Back to the Basics

Our body is designed to move in multiple planes as a connected unit. Push-ups, pull-ups, step-ups…being able to move your own body around is a pretty incredible thing and takes quite a bit of strength.  
 
 

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The best part about bodyweight training is that at any fitness level, it is challenging. You have your basic push-up, ball push-up, clap push-up, and one-arm push-up. Then, you have your fast push-up, slow push-up, and static hold push-up, etc. The list goes on and on. With limitless variations and with consistency, your progress is obvious and pushes you to keep trying new things. At the same time, you are still able to go back to the most basic ways your body was intended to move.  
 

Group Fitness Classes

My favorite part about weight training is that with any frustration or anger I have, I can just put in my headphones and take it out on the weights. But sometimes, I crave that energy and team atmosphere that only group fitness can provide. My best friend takes spin classes like she’s preparing to ride in the Tour de France. So, recently, I tagged along to see why every time she came home, they were all she wanted to talk about.  
 

High energy, loud music, and encouraging pep talks made the class seem like more of a dance party than a workout. I don’t know about you, but sometimes dance parties are the best forms of cardio. Apart from the fact that I hardly ever do cardio in general, the class challenged my mind and body to get through 60 minutes of a fitness activity that was entirely foreign to me. Talk about needing ultra focus. In addition to realizing how much I can improve my aerobic fitness, the positive energy that filled the room stuck with me for the rest of the day and made me giddy to go back to the gym.
 

Change Up Your Cardio

Ok, I just told you that I hardly ever do cardio. “Like ever,” as Taylor Swift may say. On the rare occasion that I decide to step on a treadmill, I run for few minutes…only to get off approximately 6 minutes later because I get bored and hate feeling like I am a hamster running in a little hamster wheel.  
 

I’ve taken enough kinesiology classes at school to know that heart disease is the leading cause of death. So, I feel like doing at least some aerobic activity a time or two each week is something that would really be beneficial in living this whole “healthy lifestyle.” We’ve already established the fact that, for me: 1) running is not an option, 2) I get bored easily, and 3) I hate feeling like a hamster. So, what is a girl to do?
 
To accommodate these strict rules I have for myself for cardio, I love trying new things every cardio session. Sometimes, I like to incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to keep me engaged and because it can be super quick. HIIT workouts can be as short as 10 minutes, which is definitely a win for people who thrive in the weight room instead of the on the track. Occasionally, I’ll take a salsa dancing class with my friends to change it up even more. Cardio, to me, is anything that keeps my heart rate elevated for a period of time, while also keeping my brain entertained.
 
One of my goals at the moment, is to try a new fitness activity each week. Whether it be hiking, TRX, swimming, whatever, I am always looking for new ways to get that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I enter a weight room. Fitness is supposed to challenge your body and push it to its limits, but it is also supposed to feed your soul. So here’s to trying new things and making fitness a life long love affair. Cheers!
 

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Don’t Forget to Warm-Up, Because You Will Get Injured, And Die!

Don’t forget to warm-up, or you will get injured and die.

Ok…not really. But, the reality is, 5-7 minutes of general cardio, dynamic stretching, and/or weighted warm-up lifts will improve your strength greatly.  
 
What did I just say? By expending a little bit of energy at the beginning of my workout to get my muscles warm and my joints lubricated I will increase my strength? That’s right!
 
However, Houston, we have a problem.
 
Most people don’t warm-up because they’re afraid they’ll waste their energy too soon and that they need to “save it” for their full strength lifts. Well, here’s a wake up call. If you’re not warming up, you’re not performing your full strength lift.
 

Think of it this way…if your God awful alarm clock woke you up at the crack of dawn and instructed you to do heavy squats, what would your max weight be? Eh, probably not your best. Your muscles would feel tight, your legs heavy, and your head most likely would not be in the game. AKA: it would not be Troy Bolton approved.
 
That’s how training plays out when you skip your warm-up:
 
When you take a few minutes to do some warm-up sets and mobility exercises…
 
You’ll have a greater range of motion and your nerve transmission will be off the charts, which means more of your muscle fiber has activated nerves. More nerves, more activation, more power, more #bootygainz.
 
Not to mention, getting your body into the groove of things will get your mind in the groove, too. Taking a few deep breaths in between each warm-up set prepares your mind to push through the discomfort that is about to come so you can push your body even further.
 

And…injury prevention is nice, too, right? It takes significantly more force and muscle lengthening to injure a muscle that has gone through a proper warm-up because muscles are more pliable and strong. We all want to have healthy muscles and joints so we can stay active for the long haul, and injury prevention is key to keeping you kicking.
 
“So, what is a proper warm-up?” You ask as you get up from your desk chair eager to stretch and touch those toes. Well, it varies depending on the activity you’re about to do.  
 
Regardless, always try to do a few minutes of steady state cardio to get the blood pumping…pump up the jam if you really need to. I like to jump rope because it activates muscles from each muscle group, however, if your coordination is subpar like mine, jumping rope may be a pipe dream and it may be easier to stick with the treadmill.
 

Afterwards, if you’re headed towards a cardio based workout: do a few slower intervals (i.e. run @ 5 mph for 30 sec., walk 30 sec.) and work your way up to your working pace.  
 
If you’re headed towards an anaerobic lifting workout: perform a few mobility exercises to open up the hips/shoulders/back, and do a few lighter sets (i.e. back squats with the bar, 75#, 95#, etc.) until you get to your working weight.
 
One way to tell if you’re good to go and move on to your intended workout is if you’ve broken a sweat.  This is a sure way to know that you’re warm enough and your body is ready for what’s next. A little bit of sweat goes a long way in keeping you healthy.
 
 
 

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A wise man once said, “we all want to get right into action, but your warm-up can mean the difference between playing the game and having game.”
 
Yes, warm-up exercises may be extremely boring and mobility work may be far from sexy, but warming up will help you unleash your full potential. It will help you perform your full strength lifts. It will help you run longer and faster. But most importantly, it will help you stay healthy so you can stay active.
 
So go ahead! Throw on some tunes and start by doing some jumping jacks, because, well, warm-ups are really mostly for the cool kids.
 

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The Weight Room, and Why I Keep Coming Back

The Weight Room, and Why I Keep Coming Back; Fitness

So you want my fitness story?  I don’t really think I have one.  

After putting so many miles in on the treadmill, one day I just walked into the weight room. I don’t know why, but I did know that  being surrounded by people stronger than me didn’t scare me. It gave me the “strength” — no pun intended — to work harder so I could keep up with the rest.  

 

A video posted by E i l e e n (@simplyeileen_fit) on

I liked the feeling of burning muscles, pouring sweat and feeling like I may cry out of exhaustion because I knew I could push through that weakness.  This would discourage most people from ever walking into the weight room again, but I knew I had found my sport, and I knew I wanted to get better.

Now, I live for callused hands and soaked through shirts. I live for that moment when I can push the last rep of a personal record, put the bar down, and do a little happy dance because what I thought I couldn’t do, I just did.

No one can deadlift for you. No one can push past that limit for you. No one can tell you where and when your comfort zone ends. You have to find it, you have to journey through it, and you have to go even further. It’s all you. And that’s what I love the most.

When my mind tells me to stop, that’s when I have to tell it, “No, Eileen. You can do this.” 

So you want my fitness story?  I don’t have a story, because its not over.  

Each day when I step foot into the gym, there’s a new goal. Form, focus, reps, whatever, it all leads to the main event. 

Each day I get up and I train, making the choice to work towards my goal of walking on the NPC stage.  Each day I make the choice to work towards the day where I’ll earn my IFBB Pro card and the day where I’ll qualify for the Olympia roster.  Each day I work towards the day where they announce my name as Ms. Bikini Olympia.

Each day I get up and I train.  And that’s why.

So you want my fitness story?  Just keep reading, keep watching, and see for yourself how it unfolds.

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