FITNESS: Update on My Training + How I Stay Motivated

my tattoo is a cuff of sankofa symbols

Hello, everyone! It is high time for a fitness update, now that I am officially in love with hot yoga and have just recently discovered how to best balance my two loves. Yes, this is a departure from makeup, but many of you have been requesting basic lifting information, so I will provide you with a couple weightlifting split ideas after the jump!

I started at 106 pounds and was weightlifting three times a week in October '12, learning my way around the gym. I added cardio and another lift session per week in November. In December, I hit the weight stacks up to 6 times a week and was doing regular cardio (most Stairmaster and treadmill, elliptical when I got bored). Now that I am down to a solid 103 pounds, was 100 pounds at my cardio peak, I have slowed my cardio down to once a week (if that) and have been taking more breaks from my clean eating regimen. My cheat meals are usually sushi or Buffalo Wild Wings, the latter of which is on the account of my best friend and her boyfriend since he loves it so. I have even been eating cookies, Girl Scout season and all, without affecting my abs (which I work out once a week at most lol) or the rest of my work outs. That's what happens when you stay dedicated!

Recently, I purchased a Polar FT7 heart rate monitor at Sport Chalet to track my progress. Not even hot yoga can give me a caloric burn like the results shown above. In the 1 hour and 18 minutes I spent at the gym, I was training Tammy and walking her through stretches between my own sets, taking breaks as well. We were doing a light upper body session, and while I usually incorporate dead lifts or power cleans on upper body days, I did not want her to suffer too much tomorrow so I left them out. So do not fear weights, use them to tone up and add definition!! I only lift 3 times a week now, since I am focusing on improving my yoga practice. Eventually, I will lift 4x a week and practice yoga 4x a week. I do not want to double up too many days just yet, as it is too taxing, now that I am training Tammy.

I now squat 155 pounds without pre-workout supplements and no, that is not my max (175). I never use the Smith machine.. I only ever use the free barbell plus plates because I like that it engages my core and really helps with developing balance. I do not need the pump from pre workouts anymore, and yes, I can squat 155 after a hot yoga session in the morning. There are no secrets, there are no tricks. Put in the work, put in the time, and you will see results. It might take some longer than others, but EVERY time you start from square one again, it will only become more difficult to reach your goals. Turn fitness into a lifestyle.. Stop quitting and stick to it! This is why I have taken control of Tammy's fitness. I signed her up for the gym, paid for her membership. She eats what I make her, she never whines or complains about lack of motivation, and she works hard every time we are in the gym together. Hold yourself accountable, and help your loved ones achieve their goals! It will help you stay on track as well.

A lot of people ask me why I lift. I lift because I love the challenge. I do not work out for the sake of my vanity. In fact, my friends always ask me why I work out so hard if I never show it off with revealing clothes. But I'm just not that kind of person. I work out because I ENJOY working out, and I embrace the burn! Weightlifting/powerlifting and yoga are entirely different disciplines, yet both activities give me the time to focus on myself.. I do not think about work or anything else when I am working out. I let my muscles take over. Working out gives my brain a break, and it allows my body to refocus. Yes, the next day, my body might hurt but it is the best kind of pain. The soreness that reminds me of my determination and dedication, that I pushed through the mental blocks. Hot yoga is wonderful in the sense that it gives my muscles breathing room, and in just three weeks, my muscles have lengthened out so much. They are less stiff, more limber.. I am leaner and longer looking even at 103 pounds instead of 100!

Now, motivation. This is a tough one because everyone changes their lifestyle for different reasons. I was sick of being bloated all the time, and I wanted to have the figure I knew I was capable of. I was always strong, so it only made sense my physical appearance reflected it. I have only been working out and eating clean consistently for three months, and I still have a long way to go, but I am very proud of all I have accomplished in just 12 weeks. The love of challenges drive my motivation, but now my results motivate me! I do not want all that I worked so diligently to achieve to be flushed down the toilet with a week of inactivity and bad eating. And do not forget, motivation gets you started.. habit is what keeps you going.

For mothers that want someone to look up to, take a look at one of the fit moms I follow on Instagram, @efitmama. She is proof that you can have children, work full time, and hit the gym!
For awesome inversions that inspire me to take my yoga practice to new levels, check out @yoga_girl.
For weightlifting/bodybuilding, I use @mi_ko as an inspiration to continue lifting heavy because we are both 5'0 and 103 pounds.

And last but not least, some workout split tips. Avoid training the same muscle groups back to back. You may tear or tweak something! Safety first. Watch videos for learning proper form and USE GOOGLE if you do not know what certain exercises are. Do your research..

A peek at my current split [just some starting ideas]:
Monday - Hot Yoga & Gym [Upper Body - cleans, bicep curls, overhead tricep extenstions, lat pull downs, seated row, etc.]
Tuesday - Hot Yoga & Cardio [Treadmill - incline 15 power walk or Stairmaster for 40 minutes]
Wednesday - Hot Yoga Only
Thursday - Gym [Leg Day - barbell squats, cable kickbacks, hamstring curls, dumbbell split lunges, leg extensions, etc.]
Friday - Gym [Upper Body - barbell dead lifts, assisted dips and pull ups, dumbbell front raises & shoulder presses, etc.]
Saturday - Rest Day
Sunday - Hot Yoga Only
*I do not work out my chest.

Bottom Line: Eat clean, train mean, live lean!


  1. Your determination just re-motivate me! I am SO inspired! I started going to the last summer and went every week and even got a personal trainer to help me and guide me through work outs. I felt amazing and finally healthy and was full of energy! Until I was experience pains in my hip and lower abdomen, not because of the work outs, but because I had ovary cyst that was causing me pain and had to be surgically removed, and then I had an abnormal appendix that also removed and my immune system grew weak, and I got sick. I'm still in recovery from the surgeries and a few stitches being reopened (never do Wii-Fit while recovering lol), I felt weak and felt like I undid all the hard work I did in 4 months. Lately I have been extremely busy with school and working full time no time for anything and now all of that just seem like an excuse for me to not hit the gym( also doctors orders said no gym for another month), but once they have cleared me I'm sooooo hitting the gym from now on! You have no idea how much I appreciate this blog post and how motivated you have got me.

    Thank you so much! You're body and the work you put in is absolutely amazing!

    <3 Krista

  2. Ahh! Rae, I wish I had a friend like you - for me, the harder part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the diet aspect! Though I've always known theoretically that fitness is both exercise AND diet, it wasn't only until recently that I'm realizing how true that is. Before, I thought I could eat whatever I wanted (fried, carbs, sodas, sweets, always eating out, you name it!) because my frame has been on the naturally more petite side and I spent most of high school and college on a dance team. But now that I'm A) getting older and realizing that my metabolism can't take those kinds of hits anymore B) six months out of school and in a typical adult/career setting (where my "busy lifestyle" becomes an excuse and I end up just doing take-out/easy bad foods), I've been noticing that the years of bad dietary choices/habits just all-of-a-sudden seem to blow up on my body and in my overall energy level!

    You seem like such an encouraging and educated figure in your friend Tammy's life - she is really lucky to have you to motivate her and teach her how to embrace a balanced understanding of fitness! I really appreciate the time you put in these fitness updates and your fitness videos because they are so helpful! If possible, could you consider doing more instructional videos or blog posts on beginners "how-tos" on healthy eating ("eat clean" was a pretty relatively new concept to me, sadly) and healthy cooking? As an adult, I realized I don't know how to take charge of my meals in a healthy way. Where should a wannabe healthy-eater begin? With what foods and what recipes?

    In any case, you are an inspiration. Thanks for the post!

  3. Finally got around to following your blog D:

    Heh, I wish I had someone like you in my life, lol.. Pay for my gym membership! XD jk.. More like, I wish I had someone to go lifting with. I like the alone-time when I go lifting, but it'd be nice to have someone to talk to / laugh with while at the gym. I guess it's my fault since I go early in the morning before work. None of my friends are morning people =_=

    Anyway, I'm amazed at your DL max! I'm 5'3"/140lbs. and my 5RM is 185lbs. Good job! :D

  4. Hey Rae just wondering if you actually go to a Bikram studio for hot yoga or if it's a general hot yoga. As a yogi myself, I quit the Bikram scene after it got a little redundant. As of now I only practice Ashtanga and power yoga. Any specifics on your practice?

    1. Just hot yoga! My favorite instructor formerly worked at a Bikram studio, so his flow is a fusion. But I like to mix my classes up depending on how I have lifted that week with other instructors' styles :)

  5. Hey Rae! You totally inspired me to get lifting. I have been getting more and more interested in it, and after seeing you commit to it, I'm IN! However, since I'm just starting out...I'm still not sure what to do when I do lift. Are you able to be more specific about what you're doing on your gym days (i.e. upper body and leg days)? How many reps and sets? What exercises to do on those days? I guess I'm in the same boat as Tammy, and need your help and guidance, PLEASE! Thanks so much!

  6. Hey Rae,

    I am thinking to buy the Polar watch and I have a question, does it shows the calories burnt if you don't wear the heart rate monitor strap? I hope it does, as I find them so uncomfortable. I would just need this watch for the gym, for lifting, as I have a Garmin forrunner 110 gps watch for runs. Thank you so much!!! Mia


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