real-balanced-blogger

Hi! My name is Sara and I am the face behind Real Balanced. I'm so happy to have you here and to share my favorite low-carb, keto, paleo, and low-FODMAP recipes! Learn more about me here.

Erin Hill of erinfitmke

Erin Hill of erinfitmke

Photo: Instagram/@erinfitmke

Photo: Instagram/@erinfitmke

This is my lovely friend, Erin, who I had the sincere pleasure of meeting by way of my Instagram account (proof that social media isn't all bad!). Erin has inspired not only me but all of the people who have followed her journey over the years. She is hilarious, sweet, and a powerhouse in the gym. I feel so lucky to call her a friend! Below is a little Q&A between Erin and I that I think you'll really enjoy. Be sure to stick around until the end where she describes how she works through setbacks. I think you'll learn a lot about how to work through life's endless challenges. Enjoy!

Photo: Instagram/@erinfitmke

Photo: Instagram/@erinfitmke

Hi! Let's hear a little about yourself!

Hi, I'm Erin! I’m originally from Texas and moved to Milwaukee 9 years ago for college. I stuck around afterwards despite the winters. I currently work full-time as an Administrative Assistant, and part-time at the humane society. I have a pet bunny named Albus Dumblebunny (Alby, for short). My hobbies outside of fitness include art, knitting, and traveling as much as my bank account will let me.

Did you grow up with a passion for fitness and nutrition?

My family wasn’t especially food- or fitness-oriented. Growing up, I was naturally skinny and had a great metabolism, so my diet wasn’t something I really thought about and I ate a lot of processed crap. I taught swim lessons in high school and that kept me in shape. When I was in college, I put on probably 20-30 pounds. I didn’t exercise regularly and when I did, I just used the elliptical. At the end of my senior year, I went through a bad breakup, and I turned to fitness to be my stress reliever. I started swimming again and taking kickboxing and Zumba classes. I lost the college weight and kept up with working out off and on. I finally started making it a lifestyle and a habit in March of 2015 when I was offered a free personal training session. My personal trainer was amazing and really got me focused again on making fitness a priority and giving me the skills to push myself on my own. Since then, I’ve switched up my workouts and had my physical ups and downs, but I’ve remained consistent in working out at least 3 times a week.  

What fitness regimen do you currently follow? Have you tried other fitness programs in the past?

I’ve tried a bunch! I’ve done Les Mills Body Combat and Zumba classes, I’ve completed Kayla Itsines’ BBG 12-week program twice, and I’ve done Alexa Jean’s Healthy Body Guide. Currently, I am mixing it up with group exercise classes at SPIRE Fitness in Milwaukee (spin, TRX, and the occasional HIIT class), along with random BBG and weightlifting workouts thrown in the mix.

How often do you train?

Usually 5-6 times a week.

Why do you work out?

I started working out as a stress reliever, but now it’s become habit. It gives me more energy, puts me in a good mood, and is the perfect “me” time. Plus, I love seeing physical progress and challenging myself in new ways.

Photo: Instagram/@erinfitmke

Photo: Instagram/@erinfitmke

Do you prefer individual training, personal training, or group fitness?

I’ve done all three and I can see the benefits of all types of training. I would say group fitness and individual training would be my top two. I had one great personal trainer and I loved working with her as it was a great way for me to gain confidence and learn proper form, but she moved away and realistically, it wasn’t something I could afford to do long-term. After she moved away, I started BBG. Having the structure of a 12-week guide really helped me stick with something as I adjusted to individual training. Group exercise is one of my favorites because it’s more cost-affordable than a private trainer, and being in a group setting pushes me to give it my all. My current gym is great because the strength training classes are small, so you can get individualized attention and correction on your form, similar to having a personal trainer, but with the energy of group exercise.

How do you fit working out and eating healthy into your daily life?

I work 50 hour weeks so sometimes it’s challenging, but at the end of the day, if something is important to you, you will make time for it. For healthy eating, my boyfriend does most of the cooking, so I’m lucky that I don’t have to worry about that 75% of the time. For my workouts, I keep a bullet journal/calendar to plan my weeks out and adjust as needed. Signing up for classes that have a cancellation policy keeps me accountable, as well as planning out my workouts ahead of time. I hate getting to the gym and feeling like I’m not maximizing my time there, so going with a plan is key!

What does your diet look like?

Currently, I am focusing on leaning out and I am three months into the Keto Diet (low carb, high fat). I by no means think carbs are bad though! But, I got to the point where I was way too relaxed with my diet and eating all sorts of processed crap. Even though I was working out 5-6 times a week, I wasn’t see any progress because my diet didn’t fit my goals. I needed something a little more restrictive to help me get rid of my unhealthy carb habits and keto has been perfect for me. I have a “re-carb” day once every week or two, but for the most part, I’ve been eating about 25-40 grams of carbs per day. It gives me the right amount of flexibility, without leading me to go on a crazy binge. I feel a lot less bloated and more energized. I’m going to stick with it another month or so and then reevaluate. I’ll probably add more carbs back into my diet to help build my booty.

How do you handle staying on track over the holiday and weekends?

I don’t track what I eat on holidays or when I’m on vacation, and I don’t beat myself up when I eat something that some wouldn't consider to be “healthy.” I’d much rather enjoy making memories than worrying about a cookie or a dinner out. Weekends are my grocery shopping and meal prepping time, so that makes it easy to stay on track during the day. If I want to go out with friends and have a meal out, I do! I try to only eat out about once a week, for financial and health reasons, so I don’t worry about it derailing my progress.

Do you track your macros?

I do, using MyFitnessPal. Right now, I’m tracking for the Keto Diet, so I am mainly focused on keeping it low-carb, but before that, my old personal trainer set my macros up for me. My biggest advice for tracking macros: do not let MyFitnessPal calculate your ideal macros for you! You should be eating more than 1200 calories a day. There are plenty of other online calculators and resources that can help you figure out the right macros for you and your goals, it’s not a one-size-fits-all process.

Have you ever dealt with an injury?

I pulled my quad a few years ago and every now and then it still gives me trouble. I just modify certain moves if it is feeling irritated. I’d rather take it easy and modify when necessary than risk re-injury and having to take time off.

Do you ever struggle with staying motivated?

I struggled staying motivated for years haha. I was off again, on again with fitness up until two years ago. I think what finally help me stick with it and stay motivated was starting a fitness-related Instagram account. I started it after I finished working with a personal trainer and was starting the BBG program because I was nervous about no longer having a trainer to push me and hold me accountable. There are so many amazing women who are a part of that community and everyone I’ve interacted with is really focused on spreading body positivity and supporting one another. Sometimes I feel silly or self conscious about having a fitness Instagram, because I’m not physically super fit, I have struggled with physical progress, and my push-ups look really pathetic 95% of the time. But, honestly, without that Instagram account, I sincerely doubt I would still be working out 5-6 times a week. It’s been a huge motivator for me and it’s a great resource for workouts, meals, and meeting new people!

Have you learned any really important life lessons in the last few years?

How important it is to love yourself for who you are. Once you stop letting others dictate how you feel about yourself, it is really liberating.

What do you find is involved in a balanced lifestyle?

I think the number one thing is not stressing out about trying to always live a healthy lifestyle. I struggled for with this for a while and still occasionally do. I got to a point with BBG where I felt like I couldn’t keep up with all the workouts and it started stressing me out, and that’s when I realized I needed to switch up my routine. There are weeks that I can’t get my workouts in or where I’m feeling burned out. But that’s where the balance comes in: if I stress out over it, that isn’t healthy either. I set a plan each week and try to stick with it, but if it doesn’t work out, I just try to do better the next time.

What do you do when you experience a setback?

Oh, gosh, so many setbacks, where do I begin?! I think the biggest thing is to push through a keep going, and turn your setback into motivation. It’s okay to feel sad or wallow in it a little bit, but then use that to drive you. I’ve been rejected from countless jobs. I was on Tinder off and on for two years and was rejected and dumped more times than I can count. And both of those things can really mess with your self-esteem. It took me a while, but I realized I needed to focus on loving myself, including my flaws. Once you are confident and authentic in who you are, it makes setbacks a lot easier to brush off. Don’t get me wrong, they can still suck and feel awful, but it makes it easier to bounce back. Once I stopped giving other people the power to control how I felt about myself, things starting coming together for me. Focusing on fitness and treating my body well really helped me get to that point. But I’ve definitely had setbacks in the fitness department as well. After I started dating my boyfriend, I gained about 10 pounds. I was struggling to balance having a new relationship, working out, eating healthy, and working crazy hours. After a while, I was able to adjust and get back on track, but it took time to find that balance. It was frustrating losing the progress I had made. My weight and measurements have gone up and down and then up and down again, and up until recently, I’ve struggled to find a nutrition plan that works for me. When this happens, I think it’s important to remind yourself you aren’t stuck. I can still love and appreciate my body even if it isn’t where I’d like it to be, so I try to focus on that. It’s so true that healthy living is a lifestyle and that means sticking with it even when you have a setback, because those are going to happen. A lot. To me, living a healthy lifestyle includes being mentally healthy, and stressing yourself out trying to be healthy isn’t really healthy.

What is your favorite meal? Favorite snack? Favorite restaurant?

For low-carb, my favorite meal is grilled flank steak with asparagus or pork chops with carne asada rub. Again, I can’t cook, so my boyfriend makes these for me. For favorite low-carb snacks, I like zucchini chips, Quest Bars, or popcorn. When I’m not low-carbing, my favorite food would be my Mom’s Mac N Cheese. For a healthier snack, I love Larabars. As for my favorite restaurant, I probably go to Palomino in Bayview the most, but I also love Bel Air Cantina.

What is your favorite food product?

Larabars, Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn, Arctic Zero Ice Cream Bars, Halo Top…I could go on and on.

Photo: Instagram/@erinfitmke

Photo: Instagram/@erinfitmke

Who or what inspires you?

The instructors at SPIRE and all the strong women I’ve had the chance to get to know since I started focusing on healthy living!

Where can readers find you?

Instagram: @erinfitmke

Katie Olivera of GainzAndGlitter

Katie Olivera of GainzAndGlitter