5 Reasons You Should Go to Todd Pilates and Barre

Since health and fitness have recently become large priorities in my life, I knew that I would need to find a fitness studio for my summer in Austin. After some extensive research, I found Todd Pilates and Barre, and bought their “Unlimited Monthly” plan without even taking a class.

This was a risky move on my part, but it paid off. The classes quickly became my favorite part of my week, and when I was at full-health, I strived to be in the studio 4-5 times a week.

Here’s my top 5 reasons for why you should try out Todd Pilates and Barre, too!

1. It’s a serious full-body workout

They claim to be a full-body workout, and they mean it. Both pilates and barre were working muscles I didn’t even know I had- after my first pilates class, I couldn’t walk normally for 48 hours because I was so sore. My body quickly adjusted to the new paces I was putting it through, and I came to love the feeling of pushing my body to the limit. I am undoubtedly much stronger at the end of these three months. Before, I could barely do 2 pushups- now I can do the full 16 in Todd’s class!

2. PIlates classes with todd

Pilates classes with THE Todd of Todd Pilates is reason enough to give it a try. He loves to keep the class high-energy, and always picks an entertaining playlist to accompany the pilates moves. We regularly use all the props (which you don’t have to buy- you can use the ones in the prop room for free!) and every time I leave, I feel like the workout I’m getting is super diverse. Also, it’s just fun to see what hair color Todd is going to have next- he switches it up often!

3. uncensored hip-hop barre with holly

Holly’s daytime barre classes are great, too, but “Uncensored Barre” at 8:15 on Mondays were my favorite nights of the week. She uses this time to play more explicit tracks, similar to what you would hear if you were out at the club. Holly really encourages having fun and dancing- it is a barre class after all! She’s also really receptive to playlist requests. It made my whole week when I heard “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame on the track list!

Bonus: Barre really does give you a dancer’s body. I don’t have long legs naturally, but they look much longer after I lengthened and leaned out the muscles!

4. it’s completely inclusive

I see the whole range of ages and fitness levels every time I come to class. In my Tuesday/Thursday morning classes, I was regularly the youngest participant, but there were more young people in classes like Uncensored Barre and on the weekend. The instructors regularly demonstrate alternative moves for people with movement restrictions. This is super helpful, because it allows everyone to keep up and get a good workout!

5. They foster self-love

I don’t know what it is about barre and pilates, but they really make you focus inward (mentally and physically) if you want to get the most out of your classes. I regularly snagged a spot by the mirror, so a lot of my time was actually spent starting at myself. I loved watching my body move and seeing new muscles appear as I stared at myself in the mirror during workouts! Being able to watch your body get stronger and leaner really fosters an intense feeling of self-love, helped along by the relentlessly supportive instructors and staff. Getting feedback or being told that I did great that day brightened my whole week!

I’m so sad to be done at Todd Pilates and Barre for the time being. If I ever end up in Austin in the future, I can guarantee I’ll be back. I’ll miss ya, TPB! Thanks for a killer summer.

-K

Simple Changes for Healthier Eating

If you’re a 20-something college student like me, healthy eating probably isn’t always your number one priority. Which is totally fair- at this stage in life there’s a lot of things that are easy to prioritize over something like your diet. But healthy eating is so important, especially in your 20s, because it sets the foundation for the eating habits and the relationship you’ll have with food for the rest of your life.

I’ve talked about counting calories and my personal fitness journey on the blog before. Today, I’m going to be sharing the tips and tricks I’ve discovered along my health and fitness journey that help me eat cleaner. I’m no health expert nor extreme fitness guru; I’m just someone who has learned some things along the way and want to share my advice with you. Let’s get started!

Simple changes you can make for healthier eating

1. When In Doubt, Leave It Out

This means that if you’re making a meal and could possibly get away with leaving out a less-than-nutritious ingredient, do. For me, this was cheese. I used to put cheese on everything, especially in my pasta and on my avocado toast. Recently, I’ve started eating some of my most frequented meals without my beloved parmesan and feta- and you know what? It still tasted great. (Disclaimer: I definitely still eat cheese. I just have made it a habit to leave it out whenever possible.)

2. You Don’t Have To Eat The Serving Size

This one really changed the game for me. I’ve always been the person to eat at or above the serving size- especially for things like pasta dishes or bags of chips. My favorite meal to make at home- one I will actually swear by- is the avocado toast I mentioned earlier. The serving size for the loaf of bread I use came out to about three slices per meal, so that’s what I ate. Never thought much of it, until one day I realized that the part of the meal that is so fulfilling (the avocado and whatever I put on it) could really all fit on just two pieces of toast. That sliced my calories- and my bread intake- by a third! It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can really add up.

3. Fruit. Lots of Fruit.

If fruititarians were a thing, I’d be one. I eat a lot of fruit, especially recently. My favorite thing to do with any meal is to cut up a big bowl of fruit, specifically 10 strawberries, 20 grapes, and a cup of watermelon. (Pictured above!) I try to eat this with every lunch and dinner I eat at home, A) because I love fruit, and B) it helps fill me up for only 150 calories extra. Add my regular entrée of avocado toast or pasta on top of that, and I’m looking at around a 400-450 calorie meal that keeps me full for hours. Thanks, fruit!

4. Find a Low-Calorie Dessert You Genuinely Love

Your sweet tooth doesn’t always have to be satisfied by a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream at the end of the night. For me, something that changed the game was finding low-calorie dessert options that curbed my sugar cravings put didn’t put me at a 600 calorie surplus by the end of the day. Fruit is sweet, but it just isn’t the same, so my go-to dessert items are Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses (usually 2, 40 calories total), or Trader Joe’s Vanilla Meringues (I cut myself down to 1 a day, 22 calories each).

5. Eat at Home.

Make going out to eat a social thing only. If you can eat at home, do. As I’ve been living in Austin, I find it almost impossible to go out to eat alone. I would much rather go home and spend my time cutting up the nice fruits and veggies I bought and make a healthy meal for myself in my own home. I love going out to eat, don’t get me wrong- there’s something about a good brunch that I can’t make myself- but I reserve it for when I’m going out to eat with family or friends.

OVerall

Do what feels right for you. Adjusting to a healthier diet was an important change for me, and I’ve found that it was 100% worth it. I don’t feel sluggish anymore, I no longer need a nap to make it through the afternoon, my skin has cleared up- the list goes on. But listen to your body and your needs! Everyone is different, and that means everyone’s dietary needs are different. If you have any technical or personal questions about your diet beyond what Google or I could answer, I urge you to contact your doctor or a dietician to find a nutrition plan that’s right for you.

-K

My Fitness Journey

This is a weird post for me to write, because it involves me putting myself and my body out there in a way that I really haven’t ever done before. But I personally feel it’s important for me to share my fitness journey with y’all, and to do that the most effectively I need to provide some progress photos to go along with my story.

First of all, my quest to personal fitness is something I’ve been pursuing on-and-off for just about my entire life past age 11. Once I became active in sports like swimming and volleyball at a young age, it was pretty easy for me to keep weight off and build muscle instead. Even through high school, I had marching band which helped me shed the excess fat that built up over the portion of the year that wasn’t competitive marching band season.

I would say the problem started with college, but in reality, it started right before. During my senior year of high school, I put myself on a diet to ensure that I would look my best for prom. It worked- through a combination of cutting out dairy and counting calories, I lost 10 pounds in 2 months. After keeping myself on such a strict diet leading up to prom, afterwards I “balled out,” as the kids would say. I didn’t watch what I ate anymore, and it started to show. Having a summer job at a pizza parlor didn’t help.

By the time I started my freshman year of college, I had gained back those 10 pounds, plus an extra 5.

And as most college freshmen can tell you, the freshman 15 is real. I gained the freshman 20 in my first semester alone. I mostly blame this on the endless supply of cheap, unhealthy food that college meal plans have to offer, but I’m also partially to blame as well. I didn’t step foot into our campus rec center until December of my freshman year, and took way too many naps instead.

I wish I could say I made a change sooner, but I didn’t. I lost a little bit of weight the summer after freshman year (I strategically chose a job in retail this time), but due to personal reasons I gained back all the lost weight over the fall semester sophomore year. Sophomore year was really hard overall. Beyond my personal issues making it hard to focus on things like nutrition and fitness, I was also grocery shopping for myself for the first time and quickly gravitated towards unhealthy snacks like Oreos and entire bags of Ruffles.

The summer of 2018, right after my sophomore year, was when I finally realized I needed to change. I’m not sure what finally got it into my head that I needed a serious lifestyle adjustment, but I’m so glad I had my come-to-Jesus moment then. I started counting calories again (read my post about how I make calorie counting work for me if you haven’t already) and working out regularly. Working out in the gym had always been a struggle for me in the past. Since I have asthma, a lot of traditional forms of cardio, like running on a treadmill, are hard for me. Summer 2018 was all about changing my diet and finding cardio that worked for my body. And by the end of the summer, I had lost 20 pounds.

I kept up my exercise and calorie counting all through the 2018 fall semester. Slowly but surely, the weight kept coming off and I came closer and closer to my goal weight. By the time 2019 came around, I had lost an additional 15 pounds. And from the start of the new year to now, I’ve lost 5 more. Once I hit my goal weight, I’m excited to start building some more muscle and toning up my body.

I’m so happy with how far I’ve come and the self discipline it took to get here. But something that I may be even more proud of is that no matter my size, I never found myself unattractive. I always was body positive and loved myself no matter what the number said on the scale. I prefer how I look now, no doubt about it- but I made sure I loved myself every step of the way, too.

Anyways, that’s my fitness journey from 2016 to now. It spans 40 pounds and a variety of dress sizes, but the constant was always self love and acceptance. I hope to continue that as my quest towards better health progresses and I get closer and closer to my goal weight.

-K

Counting Calories and Achieving Your Health/Fitness Goals

While restricting daily calories to extremely low numbers is definitely unhealthy, regularly monitoring your calorie intake isn’t. In fact, in my experience it’s one of the only ways I can consistently reach my health and fitness goals!

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, so please don’t take this as if I’m giving you personalized diet advice, because I promise I’m in no way qualified to do that. This is just what’s worked for me personally in the past and the themes I’ve consistently seen through research on the subject. I recommend going to see a nutritionist or talking to your doctor before making any major change in your diet, and of course what works for me may not always be what works for you.

First of all, I’m going to start by saying that eating in a calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight, as long as you don’t have any medical conditions which either enhance or obstruct weight loss, which is why tracking your calories is so important. I have always used an app called MyFitnessPal. You can’t counteract a bad diet with exercise, so you need to have an idea of what you’re putting in your body to achieve a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is whenever you eat less calories than you naturally burn off in a day. You can find an estimation of your daily expenditure here. Once you know your average of what your body burns in a typical day, subtract 500 calories from that, and that’s around where you should be eating if you want to see weight loss at a healthy rate. (Just make sure you don’t eat less than 1200 a day, because that can harm your health in the long term.)

Personally, I stick to around 1300 a day if I’m trying to lose weight. Some days my average is more, and some days I my average is less, especially if I got a workout in that morning. But for me, 1300 is the number I stick to. It’s all about balance! It’s the long-term average that matters.

As you can see, both weeks had days where I was over my 1300 calorie goal. But the average daily calorie intake throughout the two weeks is 1314, which is right around where I want to be.

Before consistently counting calories, I was the victim of the yo-yo diet, which is when you lose weight super super quickly through extreme diet restriction, only to gain it back just as quickly because of a period of binge eating. It sounds counterintuitive, but consistently counting calories (but not restricting too much) helped me overcome that. 1300 calories is a level that is sustainable for me when my goal is to lose some weight. By filling my day with healthy, filling foods I never feel overly hungry or tired.

Despite seeing substantial weight loss through the past 8 months, (something I’ll touch on more in a later blog post) it was at a slow enough rate that it was sustainable for me. Yes, I lost 35 pounds, but it was over the course of about 32 weeks, which puts me at just over a pound a week. (For reference, a healthy rate to lose weight is 1-2 pounds a week.) I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there. And once I get to my goal weight, I’ll increase my calorie intake to a level that helps me sustain that, and takes me out of the calorie deficit range.

Calorie counting isn’t bad. It’s the only thing that helps me be consistent.

I have terrible self-awareness when it comes to what I eat, so tracking it is the only way for me to keep an accurate estimate in my mind of how much I’m actually consuming. I’m the type of person where if I’m not tracking what I’m eating, I’m probably gaining weight because I tend to overeat. So that’s why I choose to monitor my intake, even if what I eat isn’t always perfect.

Monitoring and budgeting my calories is what helps me live a life I enjoy while also being able to meet my weight-loss goals. I can still go out to eat- I regularly enjoy a Whataburger dinner with my littles or a Torchy’s date with my best friend. I can eat what I want, in moderation, and still advance myself towards the body and health that I want.

Calorie counting, when done right, is not unhealthy. And counting everything I consume doesn’t make it an obsession. It’s just a tool I use to help me shape my body into the way I want it to be. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking something is unhealthy just because it takes some self-discipline and time to get used to it.

If you have more questions on this topic, I am probably not the right person to answer them. However, I would love to help direct you to a source that can answer any questions you may have. Just let me know.

-K

P.S. If you don’t want to count calories, this isn’t me saying you absolutely should. I advocate for self love and body positivity for everyone. I just know for me personally, I feel more confident when I’m at a weight I like. And if you’re like that too, I wanted to share some tips on how the routine that works for me.

My Fitness Routine: February 2019

Fitness has become a huge part of my life recently. I aim to work out 4-5 times a week, simply because it makes me happy and feel great about myself for the rest of the day.

For the month of February, it’s been so cold that even the 60 second run down to my apartment gym sounds miserable. So instead, I’ve taken to doing all of my workouts in my bedroom!

A specific genre of workouts that I’ve fallen in love with recently are dance workouts. I find all my workouts on YouTube, and the channel I’ve found with the best dance workout videos is Dance Fitness with Jessica. She has tons of songs from all different genres, so it wasn’t hard for me to compile my own playlist full of songs I like. I’m not a great dancer, but in the comfort of my own bedroom it’s fun and gets me active.

If Dance Fitness with Jessica isn’t your style, then I recommend looking up Just Dance playlists on YouTube- seriously. I added a few of my favorite #throwbacks from Just Dance 2/3 to my workout playlist and cycle through them occasionally. They’re super easy to follow along and achievable for people of any skill level! I have very little coordination, but can still pull them off pretty well.

My favorite throwbacks from the Just Dance era that I enjoy incorporating into my workout routine are:

Dance fitness has become such a fun way to get my body moving without it feeling like typical cardio! And there’s way more resources out there than the ones I mentioned, so if dance fitness interests you, there’s more out there than just these options.

If you give this workout style a try, be sure to let me know what you think!

-K