12 Minute Athlete

One of my very favorite things in the whole world is getting to watch you guys grow and improve as people and athletes and realize you really can do anything you put your mind to.

Every single email you guys send me and comment you write saying how much you improved at your 100 burpees time, or that you did your very first double under, or your second pull up in a row despite previously thinking you’d never be able to do a pull up in your life puts a HUGE smile on my face (and some of you think I never smile!).

It’s just so amazing to see all your improvement and know that so many of you are gaining strength and confidence in not just your fitness abilities, but in so many other areas of your lives.

One of the people I’ve watched improve so much over the past couple of years is Christina, a 39-year-old visual artist, former flamenco dancer, mom, and future small farmer/homesteader living just outside of Chicago.

Since way before nearly anyone else commented on the workout posts, Christina has been updating us on her progress on an incredibly consistent basis.

Not too long ago, Christina left this comment on the recent 6 Minute Superhero Workout:

Hey Krista,
I think I have been doing your HIIT workouts for almost two years now. Yesterday I encountered a scale for the first time in about 2 years. People have been commenting on how much weight I have lost and I am at least two dress sizes smaller. Now, get this: I lost 3lbs!!!!! Lol- how amazing is that! It means, as I can attest, I have gained an enormous amount of muscle and lost a whole lot of fat. I am so thrilled! Not that I needed any extra convincing as to how awesome HIIT is. And it all started with one of your handstand posts. Thanks for all you do!
Christina

I’ve been so impressed at (and proud of!) Christina’s dedication and improvement over the past couple of years, but seeing this comment, I knew I had to finally reach out and learn more about her story. And I’m so glad I did—Christina is strong, humble, and an awesome inspiration for all of us.

Here’s what Christina has to say on HIIT, going after goals, staying motivated, and more:

From being “that” kid to doing handstands, pull ups, and more

Krista: What’s your fitness background? Have you always been super strong?

Christina: I used to be THAT kid-the one nobody wanted on their team. Eventually mediocre at ballet, at best, until I found my passion in flamenco and also realized that, for me, intense physical training (and eating delicious, healthy food) is my way of “meditating” and communing with my body.

Once I stopped dancing flamenco semi-professionally, I was the 1.5 hrs/3x a week weight lifting and gym going type.

Krista: What’s been your experience with HIIT compared to other styles of training?

Christina: HIIT seems like one of the most efficient ways of training I have done.

Doing this multiple times a week has gotten me into better shape than when I was in my mid twenties dancing 5 hours a day 5 days a week.

That is impressive! And for me, it is so much easier to push myself through the “blah” moments in life and workout when I don’t have travel to gym, equipment or time as an excuse. I also feel that my cardiovascular system is in great shape due to HIIT.

Krista: You’ve been doing 12 Minute Athlete workouts for a while now—how the heck did you hear about it so early on?

Christina: One of my dancer friends, who was doing a daily handstand for a year challenge, linked to a handstand post you had written. Then I browsed your site and loved it! At the same time I was about to miss a handful of boot camp sessions I had signed up for and also was super busy. Viola, no better time to try 12 min workouts and I was HOOKED!

On progress and going after goals

Krista: I’ve seen you make a TON of progress over the last year or so. What are you most proud of?

Christina: Due to having been “that” kid and having distinct memories of being stuck like a beached whale, trying to climb a rope/pole or doing a pull up, I am MOST proud of being able to do a pull up now.

And I am inching towards being able to do a full pistol squat.

Krista: So awesome Christina! Can you tell us more about what your current fitness routine is like and what else you’re working on?

Christina: I just changed up my routine, since moving to start this farm undertaking. Previously I was doing 12 min workouts about 4-5 days a week. Now I only do them about three times, since my life is so much more physically demanding. I really want to be able to do a full pistol squat, without holding a weight in front of me, and there are a few handstand variations I want to master. Like being able to “roll up” into a handstand with control, instead of kicking up into it. Also, more ease and more steps at walking sideways in a handstand.

Krista: Where’s your favorite place to work out?

Christina: I don’t really have a favorite place for working out. I have worked hard at eliminating most excuses for not working out-if I had a fave place, that could easily turn into an excuse for me.

On nutrition and staying motivated

Krista: What’s your nutrition like? What do you eat on a typical day?

Christina: I usually skip a big breakfast and only nibble on a piece of homemade rye sourdough bread, yogurt, cheese or the like. I pretty much snack all day. Mostly cheese, things like sardines/smoked mackerel/salmon, rye bread, fruit, NUTS, yogurt. Then at the end of the day I have a regular homemade dinner—dessert is almost always a piece of 70% dark chocolate.

Krista: What’s your favorite thing to listen to during a tough workout? Any mantras you like?

Christina: Listening to music while working hard, is more of a distraction for me, so I generally don’t. I just set my mind to getting through it. Most of the time I just tell myself to keep going.

Krista: You seem to be pretty consistent with your training, but do you struggle at all with motivation? Any tricks to keep motivated?

Christina: I struggle frequently and with glee 😉

First and foremost, I remind myself “it’s only 12 minutes.”

If that doesn’t work, and I really feel one of those super low energy days, I sometimes just ease into it by doing a few walking lunges, practice a non committal handstand push-up or five, and as soon as I get myself moving a bit, I usually, miraculously, have the energy to commit to a full workout.

If I were a more schedule oriented person, I would also say, working out in the morning, is easiest- then the demands of the day can’t interfere. Generally speaking I try to stick to a few basics: unless sick, expending energy and moving, actually gives me more energy.

I try to remember that I don’t HAVE to exercise, but feel better afterwards and doing even just one Tabata is better than not doing anything at all.

Krista: Anything else you want to add? Advice? Motivation? Hope for those just starting out?

Christina: In the past I have often found myself having a really negative internal dialogue, when I would fall short of my own standards. Skip a week of workouts and all of my work over the last few years gone—immediately! Those gummy bears? Instant need to pull out pants two sizes bigger than normal and all is lost.

I have been working on eliminating that. Our bodies are so changeable and also so influenced by our attitudes. So I try to be more kind to myself and not add negativity to my body load.

And while working hard and doing my best to stick to my workout goals, I also allow myself to relax and remember that the steady progress is so much longer lasting that some frenetic ideal I am chasing after.

Krista: So awesome, Christina! I’m super proud of you and know you’ll keep making progress and crushing your goals. Thanks so much for sharing your story and being such an inspiration.

– Krista

PS. If you’d like a chance to share your story, we’d love to hear it! Send your success or progress stories to readerstories@12minuteathelte.com for a chance to be featured on the site.