How To Makeover Your Body and Gain Muscle: My Quest For Health, Month One

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No, I’m not homeless. I’m just heading off to dance class!

Body Guide: As I’ve mentioned on Catching Breath recently (the place to find all Makeover Momma posts, vlogs and author updates), I am trying to makeover my body from the inside out. Even though I’m steadily doing a lot better since stem cell transplant- save for a few nasty infections, a round of IVS and an unforeseen surgery- tending to my “lizard lungs” has not been an easy process. In the same way that lizard’s can lose their tails and regrow anew, I am attempting to show my cells what they should be doing every single day: breathing.

Although I wish the stem experiment had been a perfect fix with no extra work needed (the world works that way sometimes, right? No? Nevermind), the onus is truly on me to continue to work out, breathe deeper, and retrain my body to be as healthy as it can possibly be. I know as well as anyone that nothing is a perfect fix, and that- if I’m lucky- this will help for a few years until more intervention is needed… but why not ride the wave for as long as I possibly can? (And no, not in a Point Break type of way, because that’s one sequel that didn’t actually need to be remade. Actually, that’s all sequels other than Endless Summer and SLC Punks.)

Moving forward, I am hoping to document my workout, nutrition and muscle gain progress right here on Makeover Momma, as well as through weekly vlogs showcasing our meal planning, fitness tips and all ridiculous mess-ups along the way. Now… where do we begin?

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Start Simple: I am a mother first and foremost, so complicated gym regimens are just not going to work for me right now. I have decided to try two different tactics to get started: 1) meet my best friend at our local gym while the girls are at school or whenever scheduling permits to hit the weight machines, and 2) do the rest of my working out at home, in the comforts of my own ugly-T-shirt and zero-sports-bra. I decided to try Daily Burn for 30 days for free to see if I’ll actually keep up with it (the verdict is still out), After signing up and finding the app on my Roku, I also realized I can access workouts any time and anywhere on my iPhone (DMV dumbbell lifts, anyone?) My girls have loved the workouts so much, in fact, that they frequently ask me to put on 15 minutes of Yoga or 20 minutes of gymnastics training, and then ask me to leave the room. Urm…. okay… sure. That’s cool.

Get In and Out of Your Zone: I have a very specific comfort zone. Growing up as a dancer, my entire life was about being lean. You don’t lift heavy…you don’t lift often…and cardio is your best friend. Skinny was almost always the goal, never strong (because “ew, you’ll get bulky”). Now, I’m intentionally trying to get completely out of my comfort zone, and get into the zen of something new. In doing so, I’m obviously constantly overcoming my own warped psychology to reach for something divergent… Which, in of itself, is super duper liberating. Since my lungs are still pretty shoddy and my heart can often go nuts, it’s also a relief to focus on weights because it’s something I can actually tangibly excel at, without feeling like I’m having a giant internal panic attack by the end. In fact, slowly increasing my weight or my reps has made me feel super powerful and successful in a way that pushing myself into an I-Can’t-Breathe fit never did.

No Pain, No Gain: Working out hurts… and it often hurts even more if you have chronic health issues. For me, I haven’t experienced many days without pain: so walking around super sore and miserable doesn’t impact me as much mentally as it may someone else (like my husband, cough, cough). Lamenting the mere existence of a toilet or stairs after leg day is far less awful when you’re used to feeling ouchy… But still, fatiguing the muscle until you’re shaking and it burns like Charley Sheen after a night in Vegas is the sign you’re failing (your muscle) in order to succeed (rebuild even stronger). Maybe there IS something to the old adage after all?

No One Knows Everything: Even though I used to be a Certified Personal Trainer and health advocate in my own right, and even despite being a dance teacher and choreographer now… I still feel like a novice when it comes to certain things. Weight machines… What’s that?!? Adding muscle… Who does that?!? In general, humbling yourself to ask questions, learn from others and continue improving technique is key to improving overall… even if you feel like you already know everything. There are so many different tricks and tactics in the world: keep trying new stuff and asking the advice of others who’s routines you admire… Never stop learning = never plateau.

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My best gal pal Hepburn… Ready, set, crunch!

The Specifics: Follow Along at Home:

So what the heck are we actually doing in this next month? Although you can follow along every Thursday by catching the Catching Breath health vlogs, you can also get the breakdown here. So, here is the plan….

1) Lift To Fatigue: Overall, my goal is to lift enough weight for enough reps that I completely fatigue my muscles on each set. So, for example, I am working in a range of 5 to 10 pound dumbbells, and anywhere from 15 to 45 on machines. Most days of the week I’m going to the gym with my best friend Hepburn, and focusing on either upper body or lower body on alternating days (with some sort of ab move everyday).

2) Don’t Fail at Home: On days when I can’t meet her out, I’m using Lift To Fail on Daily Burn (you can access on your phone, laptop or Roku), which is mostly weights with a few quick movements. I like it’s focus on strength, while being relatively laid back (i.e. no one is “screaming” at me). Since my chest is still very much recovering from surgery, I am really struggling with body weight movements – so a plank feels way more overwhelming and painful than an overhead press, for example- which means I have to modify a LOT.

3) Get Some Cardio: On the days I go to the gym with Hepburn, we end up working out for about an hour, but we focus on form instead of speed. On the days I workout at home, it’s only about 30 minutes. Still, I know that a little cardio is important (I only wish I could tolerate more), so I’m not turning down additional opportunities if they arise. This week I took a dance aerobic class with my sister when she suggested it, and of course I still teach part-time too. If my girls want to hit the track with their bikes or skateboards, maybe I’ll aim to trot around once or twice… Who knows! Wishful thinking? Not sure. The point is: if the moment presents itself, seize it with purpose.

Next Month:

Keep an eye on the Makeover Momma YouTube channel to see weekly vlogs about everything I’m trying and whatever results ensue, and to follow along with health challenges at home. Keep popping into my (private)‘Gram account for motherhood and mayhem… Although you may want to shoot me a private message first, since sometimes I don’t accept accounts that I don’t know due to safety issues. (I know. It’s a bummer.) And, of course, pop over to the Facebook page for frequent progress posts… And, pipe up please! Let me know what works for you, follow along or ask questions of your own… Let’s chat!

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Snarkily Yours,

Speak Up: How are you going to challenge your goals this month? Care to join us?

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One comment on “How To Makeover Your Body and Gain Muscle: My Quest For Health, Month One
  1. kat (ohsoawful) says:

    Hey bailey! I’m excited for you and I’m looking forward to following along on your fitness journey. I actually just joined a gym last month and have enjoyed it so much! I alternate between swimming, doing the elliptical and arc trainer, and trying out all the free group exercise classes they have. So far my favorites are body barre (I did used to be a ballerina, after all!) And Transform (a combination of Pilates and yoga). Along with exercising I have started to try eating more of a HCLF vegetarian (and sometimes vegan) diet. I am enjoying so many fruits and vegetables and I make a lot of green juices and smoothies as well. It has been helping me so much! It has improved my almost non-existent appetite, I have boundless energy, and I’m gaining lots of muscle mass. I used to be anorexic so gaining weight is quite hard to deal with, but at the same time I want to because I want to be strong and healthy! Good luck with everything, and text me sometime!

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