One word. Fitness. It literally is everywhere. Whenever I turn on the television I am overwhelmed with how many ads there are promoting different diets or different workout equipment you can purchase for yourself. It can be extremely overwhelming for a fact, especially if you literally do not even know where to start. Even on different social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, we are bombarded with different fitness transformation processes and results that people are getting just by having a healthier lifestyle. I remember being really interested in fitness a few years ago. I had a workout machine downstairs at my dad’s house and I would often be down there for the beginning of the day. I also did a lot of home workouts at my mom’s house and started eating healthy. I could honestly see huge results in the way my body looked but secretly I was not 100% healthy. In the process of doing home workouts and making healthier meals, eating disorders were underlying issues for me, for numerous years. Although I could see wonderful results, I know that I was not doing it the right away. I eventually had went off to University where I entered the partying life, and really did not have time to make all these healthy changes….. that or I was completely lazy and not motivated.
So those four years of university passed and I was still not doing anything fitness related really. I felt really bad about my body and really had no energy whatsoever, it was extremely frustrating. As an Instragram addict, I am constantly on social media sites viewing pictures on my newsfeed and I came across one person in particular that caught my eye, Courtney Hill. I had went to highschool with this girl and knew her a while back although we never really spoke that much before. I could see how devoted she was towards fitness and starting this “fitness journey“. Of course, me knowing hardly anything about fitness, viewing her posts were extremely fascinating and were very informative. I knew that I had to reach out to her and ask her about her fitness journey and how she got started and so forth. I know that a lot of people would benefit greatly from her advice, and I know it could actually help others to strive for that same dedication and motivation, myself included. I was so happy and ecstatic when I received a response back from her, stating that she would love to be a part of this fitness blog. I then began to think of a bunch of fitness related questions that I had always wanted to ask her, or that I thought would be extremely interesting to hear more about.
One question was extremely easy to come up with and I knew I had to ask it right away.
What motivated you to want to start working out and start this fitness journey? “Throughout university, I partied A LOT – you could find me in the bar 4, sometimes 5 times a week. I drank on the regular and with that came a not so healthy diet. I worked out here and there between my crazy nights out but never saw any results of course. After a while I also noticed I had a lack of energy and never felt 100%, I knew I had to make a change. It wasn’t that I ever struggled with weight issues or anything but I just did not feel the best that I knew I could feel.
It just so happened that my boyfriend and I of 6 years broke up shortly after I started to pay more attention to my diet and workouts. I was a mess – there’s no better way to put it. Working out kept my mind off my troubles and helped me to remain positive. I guess you could say it is what stemmed my fitness journey to continue. To this day, fitness is still a source of stress relief for me. I can always guarantee to feel amazing after I work out.”
I can completely relate to the partying aspect 100%. It is extremely hard to not go out with your friends and have a great time, especially in the best years of your life. I find it extremely interesting that Courtney uses fitness as a source of stress relief. I find that this reason is honestly not promoted enough in the world today. Often we think of fitness as strictly dealing with body image and striving for that “perfect body image“. In reality, however, fitness is so much more. As a person who suffers from anxiety, I often use fitness now as a form of lowering my stress levels. I find this helps tremendously.
So progressing with the interview, I basically wanted to know exactly when she had started this transformation and journey. I know for myself, it is extremely overwhelming deciding where abouts to start if you want to create a more healthier lifestyle for yourself. So I decided to go straight into it!
“No, I never set a goal weight for myself. I am a firm believer in it’s about how you feel…not so much the numbers”.
What age did you start working out at? “I started working out here and there when I was about 17 years old, I would go for runs around the block or to the stairs near my house. It wasn’t until I was in my final year of university (20 years old) that I started to take it seriously and follow an actual plan“. I honestly think that is where a lot of us get “stuck”, we do not actually follow through with a plan and stick to it. I began to ask Courtney if she had ever set a goal weight for herself. I know often people are not realistic when they actually want a specific goal weight. She then had stated, “No, I never set a goal weight for myself. I am a firm believer in it’s about how you feel…not so much the numbers”. I absolutely love this, and I feel that this should be said to a bunch of people who are in the fitness industry or who are starting this journey. Often we are so taken back and focused on the numbers that are on the scale. We are slowly missing out on life and we don’t even notice it. Fitness is about helping your body feel more energised and overall feeling, “happier“. It is an amazing feeling after a workout to sit back and think, “wow….that made me feel wonderful“, as opposed to hopping on that scale afterwards and being disappointed with yourself. Often this can result in body dissatisfaction and using such cruel and harsh words towards yourself. We need to focus on being kinder to ourselves and giving ourselves credit for that workout we just completed.
I then began to ask Courtney about going to the gym and what she basically did for her workouts. There are so many different kinds of workouts out there, especially if you look on Pinterest. I know for myself, I never really know how often to go to the gym during the week, but this can be different for every person. Not everybody has the same workout plan but it is nice to see different people’s workout schedules! Courtney stated, “between the gym and hot yoga, I work out 6 days a week – because it has become such a significant part of my life I struggle to take a rest day. I know how important it is to rest your body so I do try but it feels like such a part of my routine so it’s hard. I work out at Aftershok Performance Fitness which is a functional facility that offers various classes such as spinning, TRX training, strength training, boxing and open gym times. I also go to hot yoga which is amazing to balance out the intense workouts – it also helps with the mind!”.
Do you every do any at home workouts? “I have tried home workouts videos and what not as well as many youtube videos but I can never seem to keep motivated for long. I use them when I am in a pinch and can’t make it elsewhere”. I can relate to Courtney here for sure. I have tried at home workouts as well, and sometimes they do work but other times, it can be extremely hard to stay focused when there are so many other things that you could be doing in your home at that very moment. Do you come up with the workouts on your own? If so how did you come up with them? (i.e Pinterest, friends and so forth). “I have made up workouts on my own in the past based on different things I have learned at Aftershok and researching over the years. I use Instagram a lot for fitness motivation and workout ideas”. That is why I absolutely love social media sites and what they have to offer. There is so much to look at especially when it comes to fitness. You can literally type in “ab workouts” and there are videos that can show you different exercises. One thing that I struggle with however when I am at the gym is trying to figure out what different muscles to work on that day. I wanted to see what Courtney’s view was on this. She stated, “I usually try and lift heavy 3-4 times a week which is split into chest/triceps, back/biceps and then legs. Other than that I will do a mix of HIIT and boxing as well as hot yoga like I mentioned before. This changes often though, I do what feels right for my body. I am not training for anything in particular so I do what makes me feel good”. There are a lot of different muscle groups that you could focus on while at the gym. It is nice to see other people’s workout plans however to maybe compare and add in a view of their exercises! Nothing wrong with that!
When discussing “balance” and trying to fit a good fitness chunk into your day it can be stressful for sure. I know when I have had a very stressful day at work, I usually want to come straight home, grab a coke, and lay on the couch while I watch a movie. It is hard to balance your career and your fitness journey for a lot of people, including myself. I wanted to see Courtney’s view on this as I had seen that she worked as a nurse, so working 12 hour long shifts can be extremely exhausting! How does she do it? Courtney explains, “I am very fortunate with the job I have right now I work straight days (Monday-Friday) so I have plenty of time to work out and keep my meals on track. I am a nurse but I currently work in research so I am not worried about the 12 hour shifts and what sort of thing. If I do however decide to get another job where my hours will be more inconsistent I will have to make that extra effort to stay on track”. It really does come down to motivation and dedication. If you really wanted to, you can make time for that chunk out of your day for your exercises. I know when I am working and had a stressful day, I sometimes bring my gym bag with me to go straight to the gym afterwards. I know that if I go home, I will be more tempted to just stay home and not go, which I will kick myself in the butt for later on. If you have that right mindset that you are going to stick with your guns and go that way, you can push yourself to go.
Going off of this thought, mentally preparing yourself for this fitness journey that you are currently in or wanting to start is extremely important and crucial. Having a strong support system behind you can influence your progress on this journey. Courtney shares, “My biggest influence is my best friend, Kristen. We have shared this journey together. From all the runs around the block back in high school to the meal prep dates, yoga sessions and crazy lifts these days, she has been my rock”. It really does help when you have people around you supporting your healthy lifestyle change. Recently my boyfriend and I have begun meal prepping together on Sunday nights, and we both push each other to head to the gym. Having that support system there and behind you 100%, you can push yourself to go further. I then began to ask Courtney a series of questions based on how she felt now after starting this new fitness journey.
Do you feel more energised every morning since beginning your workout journey? “Yes definitely, especially when I am able to get morning workouts in. It is the perfect start to the day for me and truly makes a difference. Overall though I would say that I am definitely more energised and I think that it is a combination of keeping active and also fueling my body with the nutrients it needs”. That honestly was one question where I was excited to see her response to. I will admit it, I f***ing hate mornings, and I am nowhere near a morning person whatsoever. However, with my job and like most jobs, you literally have to become a morning person whether you like it or not.Having that boost of energy in the morning and feeling happier in the morning because of fitness would be an amazing feeling. Having started the gym, I have felt better in the mornings when I wake up as opposed to when I never really involved fitness in my days. It is a super nice feeling to be able to wake up and think positive thoughts and vibes. Having that mindset that you are “ready to take on the day and see what it brings“, is so important when wanting to be happier and live a more positive lifestyle. I then asked Courtney what her own personal advice would be to someone who wanted to begin a fitness journey. She explained,”The best advice I have for somebody starting a fitness journey is to remember it takes time. It’s about making small changes little by little rather than trying to change everything all at once. From experience, this only leads to failure. For it to be a true lifestyle you need to take it one day at a time and make small adjustments as you go. There is NO quick fix – what works for you may not work for everyone – even Kristen and I have many differences in our workout and meal plans”. I think a lot of people do not realise that fitness is a “journey” not a one-day thing. Even for myself, I know some days when I know that I had a great week at the gym and I am seeing little results I get bummed out. In reality , however, your body is slowly changing and preparing itself for that change. This is where we begin to get so hard on ourselves and become discouraged. Look at Courtney, she has been working extremely hard each and every day for the body that she has now, it’s not some magic pill that we can take and say “voila“. As you can see in a majority of her photos on Instagram, she pushes herself. I can guarantee you that workout below is not as easy as tying your shoe…
“it has changed my life and allowed me to grow in so many positive ways. I couldn’t imagine my life without fitness now”
So I know what we are all dying to hear…. the important part of this fitness journey right? It is not strictly based on the exercises you complete but a lot of the results you are going to see are made from the kitchen. I was interested to hear about Courtney’s meal plan and was excited when she generously gave some examples of different meals she cooks in the kitchen.
Do you meal prep? If so, what kind of meals do you usually eat for breakfast, lunch , dinner and snacks? “YES – meal prepping is key for me. Every Sunday I prepare meals for my work week. I prepare all of my lunches, snacks and dinners for the week. I do this for convenience and for portion control which I have always struggled with. Nothing worse than coming home starving after the gym and eating everything in sight (healthy choices of course just WAY TOO MUCH). Being prepared helps with that. I have been meal prepping for 2 years now and it is a saviour for me. . I tend to eat the same stuff over and over again until I am bored of it” . Some examples that Courtney shared included:
Vanilla protein shake with fruit, almond/cashew milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, ½ avocado and PB
Eggs and avocado toast or oats
Chicken Salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber, cranberries, pecans and balsamic dressing
Quinoa-arugula bowl with pulled chicken and roasted veggies (cauliflower, zucchini, butternut squash, sweet potatoes)
Lean ground chicken, quinoa and sautéed veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, spinach)
Rye crackers, tuna and avocado
Rice cakes with peanut butter, almond butter or avocado and salsa. YUM
Piece of fruit and almonds
Protein ice cream (I freeze almond milk to make ice cubes to blend with my protein powder)
“There are many other recipes and things that I try but those are just some of my go to meals”
One thing that I can strongly emphasise right off the bat is how hard it is to resist those sweets and cravings. I am a huge chocolate lover and I absolutely love any baked goods, so cutting these out of my meals is super challenging for me! I wanted to see what advice Courtney had based off of this. She stated, “Best advice I have for cravings and sweets is everything in moderation. DO NOT deprive yourself or restrict yourself from any foods – it’s about finding a balance and making it a lifestyle rather than a diet. I have tried every diet under the sun and they have all failed terribly; making lifestyle changes little by little is the way to go. If you tell yourself “I cant eat any chocolate, I’m cutting it all out” 9 times out of 10 you’re going to eventually cave and binge which will be a lot worse than having that one piece when you were craving it. If you find yourself with constant cravings, drinking a lot of water helps – so does brushing your teeth. Sometimes after dinner, I will brush my teeth and that usually helps me.” Having heard this from someone who is so motivated and into fitness was extremely helpful. I know for a fact that I have said to myself numerous times, “I am going to cut out all sweets and also stop drinking pop altogether“. Has this worked for me? Absolutely not. Having these in moderation however, would benefit me way more! I would not be setting myself up for complete failure. I also really loved the advice on brushing your teeth! I have never actually tried this but it really does make perfect sense! I am for sure going to try this next time!
Do you have cheat days? “No I do not do “cheat days”. I have tried that method of eating “clean” for so many days and then going all out for one meal but to me, that’s no way to live. For me, I do what makes me feel good, if I want to go for froyo or sushi with my friends on the weekend I won’t beat myself up over it. I love food and trying new things and that will never change. I try my best to make the best choices but every so often I will have meals out of my usual routine of course- everything in moderation J I have gotten to know my body and how I feel after eating different things”. I think this is extremely important. Knowing how you feel and how your body feels after eating certain meals is useful in determining what you should and shouldn’t really be eating. When I would eat pizza I would literally have 4-5 pieces….no joke. Now if I were to eat pizza I would cut myself off at 2 pieces because I know I would feel like absolute shit after I am done. We need to get to know our bodies more and take into consideration what makes us feel good, thinking and keeping in mind to keep living your life.
Do you have to restrict a lot of food that you intake? Do you feel like you are deprived of certain foods? “Like I mentioned above I do not restrict myself from specific foods or anything like that. I will steer clear of foods that I know will make me feel like crap that’s about it”.
“…I have finally realised that being happy and healthy cannot be achieved based on outer appearance, happiness and health of the MIND and the HEART are just as important”-Courtney Hill
Overall, having a healthy mindset and heart really are extremely important. Often we are so focused on striving for that perfect figure that we really do forget about all the other little things that fitness is associated with. We need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Courtney provided us with so much important and helpful information on how she got started on her fitness journey. Having the proper information and knowing those steps that you need to take are so helpful. I am beyond grateful that Courtney took the time out of her day to share with us her helpful tips and tricks when it comes to fitness. Be sure to check out her Instagram page for more fitness related posts!
I hope you guys enjoyed this post as much as I did writing about it! I thought this would be extremely benefical for others to look at and view for themselves. Be sure to check out my other social media accounts for more updates on my latest blog posts!
Photograph taken by Alisha Marie
main instagram page- alyssahotrum_xo
blogging instagram page- thatothertwin_xo
Much love xo.