Sep. 16. 2016
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Lately I’ve been breaking down each component of the Nutrition Stripped lifestyle so that you can incorporate each pillar into your own life. I’m hoping that it helps you stay balanced and feel amazing! I shared the first two posts about a supportive squad and managing stress, and today I’m sharing how working out can help you feel your best. Keep reading for my top tips on how to create a consistent workout routine that will help you avoid health problems, feel amazing, sleep better, and feel like a total badass from the progress you make!

Let’s get movin’


If you’re not lifting weights already…what are you waiting for? Let me start by answering a question I get all the time — no, lifting weights doesn’t make you bulky. Lifting weights stimulates your lean body mass (i.e. muscle) and strengthens, tightens, tones, and enhances your musculature. Having more lean body mass – versus more fat mass – provides us with the strength we need to carry out our daily tasks, supports our core and spine, supports hormonal and bone health, AND allows our bodies to burn more calories and burn fat even while sitting. Resistance training  helps decrease risks for osteoporosis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity, aches and pains, and lastly arthritis. It also helps us mentally since weight training and working out, in general, makes us feel good thanks to all those endorphins that are released when your workout. You also get the added benefit of helping our metabolism, getting stronger, building muscle, and decreasing body fat when paired with a well-balanced nutrition guideline.


A solid training program is one that will consist of some type of resistance training as well as cardio training. I preached the benefits of weight training above, so everyone should partake in some type of resistance activity if they can, no matter fitness level, age, or health conditions. Anything can be modified to YOU. Create a plan that combines cardio with weight training and you’re off to an incredible start.(Hint, hint – I’ve got a plan that you can follow coming to the blog soon!)

Once you’ve made a plan, stick to it! If you’re consistent at going to the gym 3x a week, then consider yourself at rockstar status! If you go to the gym 5 days a week for 1 week, and then you don’t go for another 3 weeks and on and off again, all of the work you did in that full week really was for nothing. Yes, our muscles like change, but they also need a routine to truly see strength gains and progress in your workouts. Ask yourself, “What will keep me consistently working out on a weekly basis? What does that look like for me?” Try to make your workout an “appointment” on your calendar that you can’t miss. Consistency breeds habit, and habits breed a lifestyle. Get motivated to keep going with the Sweat It Out workout playlists that I create for my own workouts!


I’m all about nerding out and tracking of all kinds when it comes to making changes, especially changes in body composition, strength, stamina, and overall fitness levels. I monitor my strength, speed, distance, etc. for whatever task I’m doing. For example, take bicep curls. I’ll track the starting weight in the set that I used, the ending weight where I fatigued, and how many reps I completed in great form. These are a couple points to get you started, but track what’s important to you!

In the Spring I got my first fitness tracker, the Polar A360, and have been tracking my workouts and daily movement with it religiously ever since. I get so many questions through Snapchat about what I use, and that’s it! It was the biggest motivator when I ran my first half-marathon in April since it was so cool to see how my body was handling 13.1 miles in real time. It tracked my heart rate through a wrist-based sensor, so it was great to know when I needed to slow it down and pace myself. Since then I’ve been using it to track my progress in all of my workouts, not just running. It’s also awesome because I get super sweaty when I work out…I know, it’s cute huh? But it’s waterproof so that helps and keeps me on track overall. It also has the capability to sync to your phone and send notifications straight to your A360, so I can leave my phone when I’m out for a run or at the gym without worrying I’m missing something! And if you read that last bit about creating a routine and felt seriously lost, no worries since the A360 comes with workout programs through Polar Flow that are personalizable to you. Side note – the A360 can also track your sleep which is another fun indicator to track once you start working out. Working out tires out your muscles which need recovery, so an added bonus of an exercise routine is better sleep!


Part of your workout routine has to include rest! When you workout, especially if you’re lifting weights, your muscle fibers are actually being torn apart. Your muscles need time to rebuild and become stronger so that you see full results. Not only that, but you’ll see improvements in  recovery time on other workout days, notice physical results faster, and feel more energetic. It’s imperative to incorporate rest into your workout routine to maximize. You must refuel not just with nutrition, but with sleep and rest to give your muscles the time they need to rebuild and strengthen for your next go!

You do you…

When starting on any fitness journey I do want to point out these things:

  1. If you have health issues check with your physician before partaking in any activity.
  2. Choose something you enjoy. This is about making this a lifestyle and incorporating it into your life. Exercise is not punishment or a way to beat your body to death. It really is an act of self-love by taking care of yourself. Choose something that you enjoy, because if you don’t enjoy it, then chances are you are not going to stick to it. If you can envision yourself doing this down the road then stick with it. I urge everyone to try a variety of training styles to see what best fits you and your life.
  3. Listen to your body. It is incredibly intelligent. Push yourself, but also know when to stop and rest.


Kathryn Budig’s Self-Love Yoga Routine

Top 10 Tips to Maximize Your Workout

15 Questions About My Health and Wellness Routine

The Post Workout Window and the “Need” for Protein

Inspired Interviews

I hope this has motivated you to incorporate exercise into your daily routine so that you can feel amazing and find balance. Working out helps me stay mentally focused, sleep better, and feel my best even on days where I’m at my computer for long hours. Do you have a workout plan you like to stick to? Do you track your workouts with a fitness tracker like the Polar A360? Let me know in the comments! I love hearing new workouts or ways to track!

xx McKel

Photos by Kelsey Cherry

This post was in partnership with Polar, but all opinions are my own. I am a huge fan of the A360 and use it every day. Partner posts help support the larger team behind NS, so thank you for supporting brands that support NS!