The Case of Athleisure: Trading the Runway for Treadmills

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If you’re like me, you think the most fun part of working out is selecting your gym ensemble. Athletic and leisure clothing (often abbreviated as athleisure) is at the height of its popularity within the fashion world. It’s hard to ignore as a consumer. I can walk into any retail store and always find myself gravitating towards the brightly coloured lycra and the counters full of always-flattering yoga pants. Thanks to athletic giants like lululemon, athleisure has certainly chiseled its place within the wardrobes of many women – even if they don’t frequent barre classes or yoga studios.

Why are so many companies trying to make a name using fitness clothing? Because athleisure has grown to adapt to women’s lifestyles. Instead of old t-shirts and sweats reserved for grueling gym sessions, more and more designers strive to invent multidimensional pieces that can take you from your spin class to a dinner date without a wardrobe crisis. Athleisure is practical. It supports you by wicking away the sweat beading on your back during deadlifts but also keeps you cool and comfortable in line at the supermarket. With all of the multi-use possibilities, it’s no secret why women (myself included) dish out hundreds of dollars on the latest lululemon trends.

Athleisure is a staple in the closets of many teens, stay-at-home moms, and fitness junkies, but it is also making its way into couture collections. Versace revealed its Spring 2016 collection with bold straps and daring cutouts undoubtedly influenced by strategic ventilation panels found in athleisure.

Versace (Top) and Fabletics (Bottom) comparison. Note the use of decorative cutouts in both photos.

Although you won’t (hopefully) see a Versace ensemble in your local squat rack, it’s clear that even major influencers in couture are taking notice of the athleisure movement. After all, fashion is all about expression and your gym outfit should both perform and act as an extension of you.

What’s next for athleisure? It’s impossible to predict whether or not lululemon models will strut alongside their couture colleagues in New York Fashion Week, but there is no doubt that it is here to stay. As long as women lead busy lifestyles, there will always be a place for stylish sport wear that can take you from bikram to business meeting faster than you can say Namaste.

 

 

Orange you glad I didn’t say Denim?

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Okay okay okay… let’s talk about JEAN shopping. If I was Kanye, I would insist that jean shopping deserves the Worst-Shopping-Experience-Of-All-Time Award. Of all TIME. I think most of my fitness friends will agree: jeans are the devil in a mask of acid-washed denim. 

Let me also preface this by saying that even before my fitness journey I hated jean shopping. At the age of 9, I remember grumbling as my mother took me from store-to-store to stock up on jeans during the Back To School season. At the time, I just thought it was lame (but also way better than dress shopping). Looking back, though, I was 9 years old wearing size 9 women’s jeans. That’s completely insane. At this very moment of writing this blog post, I am a size 8.

I have to stress the “moment” part because jean sizes fluctuate. They fluctuate to align with styles, specific stores/brands, and even time (anyone remember when the size “double zero” didn’t exist?). They change almost as much as your body changes. I’m not as lean as I was 3 months ago. As a result, my muffin top is a lot more noticeable than it was in October. The reverse can also be true. You could be getting really lean, starting to get some quad separation (!!!) and your jeans, with an evil zipper-toothed grin, laugh and say, “Not today, quads. Not today.”

And with all of this sadistic pleasure your jeans partake in, every one of us still needs at least one pair. I mean, would Casual Friday even exist if it weren’t for jeans? Would I still be a great Canadian if I didn’t have a Canadian Tuxedo in my closet?

I’ll leave these philosophical questions to the experts and I’ll also leave the jean shopping to the very last possible second. If jeans are an absolute pleasure for you to shop for, call me insanely jealous – because once I enter the realm of low-rise vs. super low-rise and bootcut vs. these-make-me-look-anything-BUT skinny jeans I lose every ounce of joy shopping once brought me.

Metamorphosis of a Fat Kid

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Growing up, I was bullied a lot for being a big bonedheftyheavy set, a little husky or any other euphemism for “fat” you can think of. At the age of 9 I found myself hoping, wishing, praying I was just a swan gosling living in a duckling’s world and that puberty would solve everything. I would hatch from that cocoon a new woman with looks, personality, and confidence. 10 years later at 19 years old I still remained that awkward caterpillar.

Weight shouldn’t dictate who you are. I say “shouldn’t” because in my case, growing up overweight influenced my identity quite a bit. Even now I gravitate towards the larger sizes and styles – even though I know they’re too bulky for me. I cover my stomach while at the beach or conceal my body as much as possible in public changing areas – even though I’ve worked hard for my flatter tummy and diminished rolls. In the back of my mind elementary school bullies still linger and their voices still carry. Former fat kid syndrome is something I work through daily and although the confidence issues have improved, sometimes I gaze in that mirror and see my 10 year-old self’s plump, sad face staring back at me.

If you were a former fat kid, I encourage you to reflect on that experience. As much as it’s easier to ignore it, it’s much more important to not forget where you came from. Whether you’re a fitness veteran or just starting out, I bet that your fat kid self is thanking you for taking a step towards self-care and wellness.You might not feel like a butterfly yet, but then again, metamorphosis doesn’t happen overnight. Consistency, work, and a lil’ TLC will have you fluttering in no time.

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Left: January 2012. Right: February 2016

 

 

Resolution to be kind

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Whether you’re an gym veteran or a timid newbie, the iron jungle can be a terrifying place. It’s no secret that many folks resolve to get healthier in the New Year. January becomes a month of self work and improvement and many fitness companies take advantage of the new-found motivation within prospective members. If you watched the ball drop in Times Square last night, you couldn’t help but notice the huge marketing attempt by Planet Fitness littering television screens and New York streets with purple streamers, confetti, and celebratory hats.

With new members rolling in tidal waves, gym regulars find themselves in flux. There is a man curling in the squat rack. Why is this woman shadow boxing with dumbbells? Half-assed reps are everywhere. Finding an empty locker (or parking spot) becomes impossible and most faithful fitness followers finish their workout and begin a countdown to February where most newbies retire their commitment and return to their homely couches. 

  
While it can be frustrating and downright infuriating to watch, I encourage all veterans to take the New Year to reflect. Where did you start? How did you feel? Are you proud of where you are now? 

I remember starting my fitness journey pushing 200lbs in February of 2012. I fumbled to find my member card to scan and scurried into the change room hoping no one would witness me change. I was embarrassed of how I looked and wasn’t comfortable in a gym setting with all these perfect bodies surrounding me. But I perservered. From cardio bunny to Iron Lady I’m proud of my progress. It’s all because I embraced the process and day by day, it got better. 

I was once the girl using the leg press as an overly complicated chair. I was the girl who smacked her head with a barbell trying skull crushers for the first time. I was even the girl who loaded on the weights and half-repped squats. I still hussled. I still went to the gym everyday. I made the same choice for change as I do today. 

So when you see embarrassing things in the gym, remember. Remember where you started. These people are making the same choice you did once upon a time. Let’s support one another and be kind in 2016. It could mean the world to someone just starting out. 

A Fat Kid’s Lament: Struggling with Overeating

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I’d like to say I’m a FORMER fat kid, but I still get the urge to eat a whole bag of chips or row of cookies almost daily. Overeating was what made me fat as a child, and it is something that I think a lot of people can relate to – whether you grew up fat or were #blessed with high metabolism.

I cannot stress enough how important nutrition is, especially when paired with fitness. Fueling your body correctly helps you get the most out of a workout and gets you results reliably and more quickly than exercise alone. After all, the real work in body sculpting happens not in the gym, but in the kitchen and meal time.

I’m not sugar-coating this when I say: anyone can go an workout for an hour. It takes true dedication and commitment to keep working at a diet that feeds your body – without overindulging.

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The holidays create the perfect scene for this crime. With cookies, chocolates, and tantalizing dinners tempting you with every waft of cinnamon and gravy, it is easy to succumb to temptation. I’ve crumbled under the massive cravings. And chances are, you have too. Here are a few ways to stay on track:

Log EVERYTHING

Nowadays, food logging has become very simple. There are probably thousands of apps for that, but the most popular is MyFitnessPal. MFP is great because it makes you feel super shitty for eating those leftover Halloween chocolate bars: If everyday were like today, you’d weigh 232lbs in 5 weeks. Um… thanks?

You can also kick it old school and keep a food diary. You’ll at least avoid the snide comments.

Prepare

If you know you will be heading to a buffet-style Christmas party/dinner with lots of opportunities to abandon your diet, eat before. If you feel full, you are less likely to be that jerk that ate four plates of turkey and mashed potatoes.

Preparation is also your best line of defense against lazy binge eating. Stay two hours later at work for a crazy deadline? Wave goodbye to your fav drive-thru, because you have a lovely prepared dinner at home that you made on Sunday! Meal prepping saves you time and money, allowing you to cook healthy meals that are diet-friendly!

Protein, BRO

I’ve been there. You find yourself wondering where the last hour has gone, as you stare at your grease-tinged reflection in the foil at the bottom of your Cheetos bag. You never felt full. You aimlessly ate that whole bag!

Maybe you aren’t eating enough protein. When I first got strict with my diet, eating 170g of protein made eating a chore. I felt perpetually full. You can get protein from all different kinds of sources:

  • Protein powder
  • Peanut butter
  • Protein bars
  • Chicken, Fish, Beef
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt

I love to even mix my protein powder with my Greek yogurt for an super protein snack. Protein fuels your muscles and also tells your stomach to kindly shut the fuck up.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Try, try again.

If you do end up overindulging, big whoop. Will that extra helping of stuffing matter 5 years from now? Probably not. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Dust yourself off and start fresh tomorrow.

If, however, overeating becomes a continuous problem, then maybe it’s your diet. I tried to eat clean, quit sweets cold turkey. Nothing ever worked for me. Instead, I find a structured, flexible diet works best for me. I can still eat the foods I enjoy as long as it fits my daily macronutrient goals. There are many other diets out there. Consider doing some research to find the magical fit for you.

New to the Blogosphere

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Hello potential readership! 🙂

Allow me to introduce myself:

I’m Carly, and I created this blog to document some of my fitness escapades which might include some fun posts, reviews, favourite products, pet peeves, and everything in between.

The title of this blog is carlygrayfit and, you guessed it! I have a passion for fitness – although it always hasn’t been this way.

If you asked me 5 years ago if I would be running a 16k race, I would have said you were out of your mind. Running wasn’t in my vocabulary and I avoided the gym like the plague.

I learned the hard way that the Freshman 15 was very real and I caught myself at the local McDonald’s way too often than I cared to admit. I was a heavy girl. Throw in some bad break-ups and too-tight jeans and I had enough. Something had to change. I put on my old running shoes and got myself a gym membership and I haven’t looked back since.

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A lot has changed since I first signed up for a gym. I started out as a timid Zumba-goer, scared weights would make me heavier. I signed up for my first 5k and switched to running, but never saw the stubborn fat go away. Fast forward today and I am still an avid obstacle racer, but lifting and weights are the new passion.

What I love about fitness is not the aesthetic transformations. Yes, it is true that I have lost weight, but I’ve gained so much more in the form of confidence and finally finding a passion in life. I walked through life like a transient, just getting through the day. Fitness gave my days a purpose. An opportunity to become better than I was yesterday.

In writing this blog, I hope some of you can relate. We may have different goals, but if you’re here, and you’re reading this post, chances are we both have the same passion for fitness. Whether you’re a runner, Crossfit chick, bodybuilder, let’s support each other and motivate one another to be the best self we possibly could be. I look forward to interacting with all of you! Thanks for stopping by.