Advice from a Fit Friend: Weights, Plant-Based Diets, and Birth Control

Tips, advice, and good reads about exercise, nutrition, and wellness news this week.

Woman lifting weight

Photo via Getty Images

This week came and went about as fast and furiously as the flurries we saw on Monday and Tuesday. Would you agree? If not, I hope you’re relishing in some down time.

In the last five days on Be Well, we discussed (more like, agreed to disagree about) the Peloton ad, broke the news about EverybodyFights opening a third Greater Boston location, and saw another development in the confusing vaping related illnesses. Plus, if you’re still searching for the perfect holiday gift for the most stressed-out people in your life, take a gander at this roundup. Or if you have a real hankering for avocado toast (because who doesn’t?), use this trusty guide to find the best in Boston.

As for myself, here’s what I’ve been experimenting with in terms of exercise and nutrition, as well as what I’ve been reading on my computer screen. Feel free to take my advice or leave it—I promise not to be as offended as Twitter was about “Grace from Boston.”

My go-to exercises this week

My preferred method of exercise is deadlifting a loaded barbell off the ground, but lately I’ve been experimenting with other things. I’ve been absolutely loving boxing classes and occasionally will drop into a yoga class or head out for a run. Boston makes it easy to find great options for all of the above.

It all goes without saying that nothing makes me feel more empowered, strong, or capable of doing hard things than heavy lifting does, and I try to squeeze in lifts as often as I can during the week. One of the activities that has completely transformed my day is ducking out during lunch to get a couple hard sets of something in—whether that’s squats, bench press, or kicking up into handstands a few times.

Here’s the workout I’ve been enjoying the past couple weeks:

Perform each exercise in the circuit in succession for prescribed sets and reps.

1a. Front squat (with barbell or dumbbell): 3 sets x 8 repetitions
1b. Side plank: 3 sets x 30 seconds on each side
1c. Dumbbell standing overhead press: 3 sets x 8 repetitions

2a. Deadlift (with barbell or kettlebell): 3 sets x 8 repetitions
2b. Hollow body hold: 3 sets x 30 seconds
2c. Dumbbell bent over row: 3 sets x 8 repetitions

3a. Box jumps: 3 sets x 5 repetitions
3b. Burpees (no push-up or jump): 3 sets x 5 repetitions
3c. Row machine: 3 sets x 30 seconds

To build your own full-body workout program, try using this template.

What’s on my plate

I derived a little inspo for my nutrition this week based on the biggest nutrition trend of 2020: plant-based diets. I also watched the Netflix documentary Game Changers and it had my brain churning. The show focuses on professional athletes like Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris, professional sprinter Morgan Mitchell, and others, and details how  switching to a plant-based diet improved their performance and overall health ten-fold.

While I don’t believe everything I read or see (especially not a heavily biased documentary), I do like to use my own body to try out the methods behind the madness. That’s what life is about, right? We have all this great health info out there, might as well experiment with it. Nutrition research is conflicting and convoluted, anyway. If you find something that works for YOU, just keep doing it.

So, inspired by plants, I whipped up more “plant-based” options than I usually would, like a rather mushy lentil concoction with celery and carrots, to replace my everyday meat option at lunch. I still consumed milk, eggs, and some Chinese takeout too. It’s all about what you’re adding to your nutrition, NOT subtracting and this got me thinking a little more about the produce on my plate. Plus, this is the first week in many that I’ve eaten more plants than snacks out of a bag—and that, my friends, is a great thing. Because as we know, diets don’t work.

If you are in need of nutrition counseling, seek the advice of a registered dietitian. For more resources, click here.   

Wellness news to read 

We’re inundated with health information. I get it—I’m in the trenches just like the rest of you. Here are some of the new (and old) things that caught my attention this week.

This article all about self defense, from the Washingtonian, details how traditional self-defense classes fall into one of two categories: learning how to fight and listing a bunch of rules women are told to follow to avoid being attacked. Why not try empowerment self-defense classes? They teach women skills to not only physically defend themselves, but also how to take care of themselves verbally and mentally, and become more assertive in their every day lives. More of this, please.

New research was released on Wednesday from researchers right here in Boston at MIT of a new development in women’s health: a potential once-a-month birth control pill. Great news for those who take birth control pills and chronically forget to take it at the same time every day, or miss a day all together. We have enough to remember these days, anyway! More options in the realm of family planning are always a good thing.

If end-of-year stress is leading you to some burnout, use this article as a friendly reminder to not forgo that after-work exercise class. I like to live by the motto: When in doubt, sweat it out.

Question for your fit friend? Email me at