My Fitness Routine + Struggles + Wins

workout-look In a way my brain has been rewired, and I have a lot more love for my body and what it can do.

Hello guys! Today is a highly requested post, and I’m going to share exactly what I do to stay in shape. Yoga used to be my only mode of exercise, but I’ve changed it up quite a bit after having Sophia last year. I’ll give you a glimpse of my current diet and exercise routine, and share some of my struggles and wins.

Note: I am not a medical professional so please ask your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise routine.

If you are a regular here, you know I had my second baby Sophia a year ago via C-Section.  For the first six months post partum I did not exercise at all. Mainly so that my body could recover, but also because I was just so sleep deprived I couldn’t get the energy to workout if I wanted to.

After six months I was getting into a routine and I really wanted to lose the baby weight and feel like myself again. I started to workout once or twice a week for about 45 minutes to an hour, usually for a hot yoga class or a HIIT class (High Intensity Interval Training).

By the time Sophia was 9 months old, I found myself constantly exhausted and dealing with aches and pains in my back, a result of repeatedly lifting her and the carseat with my weak upper body. For the first time in my life, I decided I really wanted to get stronger. My fitness goals used to be just to fit into a certain size clothing. Now I wanted to be able to power through my day and have a ton of energy to lift Sophia and do everything I need to do as a mom of two, without any pain.

Now my fitness goal is to build my upper body strength, increase my endurance, and tone my overall body. I still practice yoga regularly, but I decided to start incorporating weight lifting as well. The variety keeps me excited, and I love challenging my body in a new way. Since this past January, I’ve been working out consistently at least 3-4 days a week, and some weeks I’ll even do 5 or 6 days but anything over day four will be yoga.

A typical workout week would look like this:

Monday: 20 mins stepper + Biceps/Triceps/Back

Wednesday: 20 mins stepper + Legs/Shoulders

Friday: 20 mins stepper + Chest/Abs

Sunday: Hot Yoga

My routine starts with a little warm up for about 20 minutes, I like to do the stepper but sometimes I do the treadmill at an incline. The next 15 minutes I get on a mat and stretch my muscles (I stretch once again at the very end). Then I start my weight lifting. I usually decide on 6-7 weight lifting exercises before I get to the gym for the areas I want to focus on. So for example, if I know I’m doing Biceps  – I may choose to do two different bicep curls using free weights and a pulley machine bicep exercise.  I love to follow Zehra Allibhai, Melanie Aubert, and  Kelsey Wells  on social media for example workout ideas.  For each exercise, I usually do 3 sets of 12 repetitions. Unless its squats, then I do 3 sets of 24, because I’m trying to grow that booty! Overall my workout usually is no longer than one hour.

I’m pretty healthy overall in terms of diet, I usually indulge one or two days a week, but overall stay pretty committed to eating lean meats, veggies, and whole grains. I never deprive myself of anything, and also I can’t completely cut out processed foods because they are just so darn convenient, but I try to limit them if I can.

A typical day of eating for me would be:

(Note: I’m still nursing so I eat a little more quantity than I would normally, so I’m not including quantities of most things on the list below)

7:00 a.m. Coffee with almond milk creamer + Banana

10:00 a.m. Breakfast: boiled egg on english muffin

1:00 p.m.  Lunch: Turkey Sandwich on whole grain bread with cheese, avocado, mayo, brown mustard + Apple + Second cup of coffee

3:00 p.m. Snack: Popcorn, Granola bar, or a few bites of whatever afternoon snack I made for adam.

6:30 p.m. Dinner: Grilled chicken fajita tacos on whole wheat tortillas (red and green bell peppers, onions, avocado, cheese, lettuce, salsa)

8:00 p.m. almond biscotti cookie with a cup of decaf tea

Struggles

Since this is the most consistently and hardest I’ve ever worked out in my entire life, I was hoping for an amazing transformation. (Even as I type that I know that was a ridiculously unreasonable expectation). When I look side by side at pictures of myself from my start date and today, I think I look no different. I would even go as far to say I looked better in my before pictures. So my thoughts sometimes go to the negative – why am I wasting my time, putting in all this work, only to look the damn same? I complained to my husband who reminded me it has only been 4 months, and I didn’t start off with a lot of weight to lose, which is what makes for great before and after pictures.  I had to remind myself why I am working out, which goes much deeper than just what I look like on the outside. Focusing on the reasons why has helped me stay consistent despite not seeing immediate results.

Eating enough of the right foods has also been a struggle for me. I often find myself rushed and sometimes eating the kids leftovers or something processed that fills me up but has little to no real nutritional value. Chips and salsa is my crutch-  i turn to it whenever I am hungry and too lazy to cook something. I also have to force myself to drink water, I don’t get thirsty like normal people do, so I end up really dehydrated. I won’t remember to drink water, and I’ll end up feeling sluggish and my motivation to workout will wane. I’m starting to do meal prep over the weekends for lunches so I don’t end up resorting to unhealthy options, and I now carry my water bottle with me to remind me to drink water throughout the day. Its a work in progress.

Wins

Celebrating what I have accomplished helps keep me motivated. In just a few months I am now able to curl ten pounds when before I couldn’t do more than five. I’m feeling so much better mentally as this is a huge stress-reliever from every day life. Also a happy side effect – my skin looks better than it has in years.

My mindset change was the biggest positive for me. Instead of seeing the gym as a chore, I see it now as a fun challenge. I used to look at the people on the treadmill with pity like they were some miserable hamsters on a wheel in a cage. But now I get that high myself, and I know they are probably feeling great too. I blast some Cardi B and feel like a badass doing my leg extensions.

Taking time out for myself has been amazing, it is a peaceful distraction from kids, family, and work. After a great session I feel empowered, like – hey, I just crushed one goal – let’s bring on the next! Prioritizing myself also gives me self-confidence, and as a result my outlook on life is much more positive, and I’m less inclined to play the comparison game on social media, snap at my children, or feel sorry for myself – all things I personally struggle with.

In terms of pounds on the scale I have almost returned to my pre-baby weight, but my weight has shifted and I don’t fit into my clothes the same way. Over the past four months I’ve actually gained 5 pounds, and lost 2% total body fat (woo!). I am definitely more toned and I’ve noticed my cellulite which is on my booty and thighs, has reduced a LOT.

I noticed my body getting thicc, and at first I was surprised how great i felt about it. In the past, the thought of gaining five pounds would have made me a little anxious, and I would start dieting or thinking negative. But I now know that what I am doing is changing the composition of my body, and making me stronger. Also, the extra muscle lets me burn more calories, so I get to enjoy my meals and, best of all, eat more food! I now see my body as a result of my hard work and sweat, and I feel sexier and more confident than ever.

In a way my brain has been rewired, and I have a lot more love for my body and what it can do.

So that is the update on my fitness journey so far!

Let me know if you want more specific details on my diet or my workouts and I will put something together for you!

Also I want to know – what is your workout routine? Do you have any advice that you swear by? Please share!

xx Zahra
gym-outfit workout-sophia

Sports Bra/Leggings Zella – Nordstrom | Sweatshirt – Champion 

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  • Slightly terrified because I just hit publish on a new YouTube video where I am completely makeup free (and possibly too close up - nose hair close 😬) reviewing the new clean skincare line @oneoceanbeauty that I have been testing for the past 8 weeks. I thought about not posting the video because watching it brought out a lot of my insecurities - about aging and wrinkles, my asymmetrical face, my unfortunate eyebrows - but I decided to do it because I love seeing other women who are confident and comfortable in their own makeup free skin and I want to be that too! 🙌🏾 #cleanskincare #cleanbeauty #skincareroutine 
Link to watch:
https://youtu.be/YMlSG9VDlAk
  • When at least one of us is looking at the camera, it’s a win 🙌🏾 Also, I’m holding the rocks she collected for her - lol - We are staying cozy  inside today, carving pumpkins and watching movies ~ a Sunday well spent 💕 what are you all up to? #mommyandme #pumpkinpatch #fallthings
  • #flashbackfriday Scrolling through my iCloud and came across this family picture shot by @jorellegates. Two thoughts: 1) I can’t believe how teeny my babies are And 2) we need to take more family pictures! Do you guys get professional family pics done? If yes, how often? With Adam we did it every season but now we can’t seem to get our act together ~ even for someone who takes pictures constantly I can’t seem to do it 😔 #fambam #momswithcameras
  • Thinking about what my next YouTube video should be? I’m thinking of organizing my kitchen/pantry/junk drawer (for some good old organization porn) - or a Fall outfit look book featuring only stuff I already own (restyled) and the only new stuff would be thrifted? Which would you want to see first?? Let me know! #tgif #styleinspo
  • Sophie’s face whenever I try to take her picture - either that or she’s running away 😑 Today we took a spontaneous trip to the pumpkin farm ~ I got my fill of apple cider donuts - which is the real reason why I love to go tbh - but the real question is which are your fave, glazed or cinnamon/sugar??? #momswithcameras #pumpkinpatch
  • Last nights look for a little soirée with the @urbandecaycosmetics team! What could be better than a night of makeup and pizza??? I’ll wait... #udallnighter #chicagoblogger #makeupparty
  • Smiling because a new YouTube video is now live on my channel! Sharing how I meal prepped this week’s lunch - it is a really easy beef stew recipe - (it’s also a really good veggie stew if you don’t eat meat!) Hope you guys enjoy! Also hooray for wool hat weather! 🙌🏾 #newvideo #youtube #mealprep
  • #flashbackfriday to a preppy Zahra in college (when I worked at Hollister 🙃) and polo shirts were life - also my parents had that plaid couch for a decade and that treadmill was NEVER used. Lastly, thick eyebrows weren’t cool yet FYI. #TGIF #goodtimes
  • A peek inside my ‘creative mess’ aka my office where I finally finished editing a new YouTube video  it’s a quick (under 5 minute) makeup tutorial using a lot of new @ctilburymakeup I recently picked up (and btw absolutely LOVE)- for a really fresh ‘enhanced natural’ face. Hope you enjoy!

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