Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

The Grind

Posted: October 20, 2014 in Fitness
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Hard work, dirty work, the day-in and day-out “it ain’t pretty” work.  That’s where I’m at right now…”The Grind”.  I’m doing my best to put the work in, eat well, and rest when I can.  I’m in that phase where the hard work doesn’t quite show yet.  I’m not trying to lose fat but I am trying to improve my physique for next year without putting piles of slop and jiggle on my body.

I made the decision at the end of the summer to hold off on competing for this year.  It was just too rough of a year for me to even think about adding an additional stressor.  For those that follow me, you may already know that on Christmas of last year, I lost my mom.  That was a huge, devastating blow.  The year followed with ups and downs with my father’s health, a new business for me, and some nagging injuries…my head was just not in the game.  And for those of you that compete, you know that if you’re not into it, it’s a struggle and can be completely miserable.

So, stay tuned folks…I’m going to do my best to keep updating this blog with recipes, workouts, tips, fun, and anything else fitness related.  If there is anything in particular you would like me to write about, please drop me a note in the comments!

There really is no need to spend hours at the gym.  Sometimes I don’t even get to the gym…I’ve created quite the home gym over the last few years and to me, spending money on key pieces of equipment makes me much happier than spending money on shoes and handbags (don’t get me wrong, I love those too)…

Monday was a super-busy day for me (as usual) between work, family, dinner, softball games, etc.  I had just over one hour during a break in the action to squeeze a workout in at home.  I saved a few minutes afterwards for a shower…you’re welcome.. 😉

I used an adjustable dumbbell set and a few kettlebells (but you can used dumbbells for the entire workout if you want):

I performed all the exercises in the order listed, took a 1 minute break after the end of the circuit, and completed 4 total circuits.  I did a quick light aerobic warm-up for about 5 minutes:

  • Dumbbell Curl to Overhead Press x 15 reps
  • Heavy Kettlebell Swings x 20 reps
  • Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks x 15 reps
  • Renegade Row x 10 reps each side
  • Unilateral Bent-Over Row with Kettlebell x 15 reps each
  • Burpees x 10 reps
  • Reverse Lunges x 10 reps each
  • Russian Twist x 20 reps
  • Unilateral Floor Bridge x 15 reps each
  • Plank with Alternate Leg Lifts x 10 reps each
  • Kettlebell Deadlift x 15 reps
  • Unilateral Kettlebell Thruster x 10 reps each
  • 3-way Delt Raises x 10 reps each (Front, Lateral, and Bent-Over)

That completes 1 cycle.  Rest for about a minute to grab some water and catch your breath and then go again!  This type of workout gives you the best of both worlds (as long as you use a weight that is challenging).  Not only are you stimulating each major muscle group, but your heart-rate remains elevated for the entire hour for that fat-blasting effect.  I try to do a workout like this about once per week in between my other “standard” weightlifting routines.  If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes!


The end of 2013 was one hell of a roller-coaster for me and my family.  The rush of the holidays on top of  everyday life can certainly wear one down.  But that is small beans compared to what was to come.  On Christmas night, in one sudden moment, I lost my mom.  She had been ill for awhile but this was completely unexpected.  Several days after the funeral, my dad landed in the hospital for almost a week.  The last couple of weeks have been one blurred nightmare.

This has certainly been a serious wake-up call.  In an instant, it can all be changed forever.

Health – something we certainly don’t think too much about until we don’t have it.  I don’t care who you are or how much money you make, if you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing.  If you follow my blogs or my facebook page regularly, you’re most likely into some facet of fitness.  So, good for you!  We all need to take good care of ourselves to the best of our abilities.  There are many things that are under our control and some that aren’t.  Exercise, food choices, sleep, smoking, alcohol use, etc. – we can all make conscious choices regarding these.  We can’t change our genes or family history of certain diseases but we can choose to live our lives to minimize the effects.

I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions.  I know it’s the start of a new year, but why do we have to wait until January 1st to make a positive change in our lives?  That aside, I am going to work to make goals for 2014 regarding health not just physique goals or competition goals.  Being a mom, I am often putting my own needs on the back burner to take care of my kids.  But, what good would I be if I wasn’t healthy?  I plan to catch up on any medical stuff I may have set aside to make sure I’m as good on the inside as I am on the outside!

So, I challenge you to do the same.  Keep on top of your health as much as you keep on top of your workouts or meal prep.  Try to quit a nagging bad habit if you have one, drop the weight that’s been plaguing you, get more sleep, get off the computer and go workout (but finish reading this first! ;-)), or whatever else will positively influence your health.  Let’s make 2014 one hell of a healthy year!

What a week!  So I  finally had my contest this past weekend and it was a blast!  I ended with a 2nd place finish in the Pro FitBody division.  Of course I would have loved to take 1st, but I am very happy with my placement and I’m now onto the next phases of recovery and building.


It’s pretty amazing the things you go through the final week of preparing for a contest.  There are the last minute workouts, keeping close tabs on water intake, small tweaks in the diet, hair appointments, tanning appointments, meetings, final suit adjustments, posing practice, and the list goes on.

What I was NOT prepared for this time around, was catching a nasty cold!  About a week and a half out, my youngest daughter came home from school sick.  Well, since mommy usually becomes the cuddle blanket and the “human tissue”  (and my immune system was clearly a bit compromised from the heavy training and diet)…voila!  I got really sick just about 1 week out.  I rested for a day or 2 and felt a bit better, but when my training resumed, things went downhill AND fast!  I had no energy, had trouble breathing and started coughing anytime I tried to do cardio, and felt like I had no strength whatsoever.  BUT, I did the best I could, rested when I could, and just powered through the last few days.

Things definitely didn’t go as planned that final week but thankfully, I was stage-ready early and just had to hang on to my conditioning.

Now what?


Well, I am definitely enjoying some (I think well-deserved :-)) treats this week and doing a few low-intensity recovery workouts.  I will also be taking my Top Secret Nutrition Cleanse & Detox supplement this week to help push the “reset” button before starting my building phase next week.  I have the judges’ feedback fresh in hand and my new plan for the remainder of the fall and winter.  So, I will continue to post some of my workouts here on the blog so look for some fun, new, and super-intense training plans coming your way!

5 days out

Posted: October 14, 2013 in Fitness, Nutrition
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Hey all!  Just wanted to write a quick post this week.  I am sitting here 5 days out from my next competition.  I have my plan all worked out for this week and if you read last week’s blog, I’m ready for after the show too!  I just wanted to share with you a few last minute thoughts.  As you know, fitness is a lifestyle…it’s not just preparing for a show and then forgetting everything.  It’s about making healthy choices, controlling what you can, and letting go of what you can’t.

Today, my girls were home from school so I had to figure out what to do to make my “plan” work.  I ended up splitting my workout into 3 separate routines to fit in everything that I wanted to accomplish.  Not ideal, but it worked.  But, you know what?  I took a step back and realized the impact that my everyday choices makes on them.  Each day, they see mom prepare food, make healthy choices (most of the time ;-)), and workout.  But you see, it’s so much more than that.  They see that I am healthy, happy, energetic, and able to play with them.  I explain to them that unfortunately not all mommies and daddies can do that.  Some can’t move as well or are sick, or simply lack the energy to run around the backyard with their kids.  Sometimes it’s as a result of the choices they make and unfortunately, sometimes that is the hand they were dealt.

I love that my girls like to come to the gym with me (thank goodness for childcare!) and can’t wait for the day when they are old enough to be my workout partners.  I also love the fact that my 8 year old discusses nutrition with me; she’ll ask me what the better choice is between two foods.  She eats steak, chicken, and pork tenderloin – and yes, I also let her enjoy some of the kid foods too!  My 5 year old eats tuna and wants me to make her “protein shakes”!

So, don’t forget…the choices you make not only affect you, but can affect the most precious things around you -your kids, family, and other loved ones.  Don’t stop now!  You never know who’s watching you!

While it’s good to be consistent with your training, it’s also necessary to shake things up from time to time to continue to progress.  Some of the ways you can do this are by adding a few minor changes to the way you train.  To progress, you need to be challenged.  In order to challenge yourself, you can add some intensity techniques to your workout:

1.  Use Supersets, Compound Sets, Tri-sets or Giant sets:  Performing two or more exercises back to back with no rest.  You can either do opposing muscle groups (i.e. biceps/triceps) or the same muscle group (i.e. exercises for just the biceps).  Not only can this shorten your workout, but it can increase your calorie burn because your heart-rate remains elevated for a longer period of time.

2.  High Intensity Training:  This is where you will perform just one working set to failure.  Always complete 1-2 warm-up sets before employing this technique.  You can use this technique if you’re really short on time or you can pick one or 2 exercises toward the end of your workout and really get that “burn”.

3.  Drop Sets:  This one is a personal favorite of mine.  Complete an exercise using your normal weight (you can either do a specified number of reps or go until failure), lower the amount of weight you’re using and then continue with the set without rest.  You can do a single drop, double drop, triple drop, etc.  This is a great one to do on the last set of any exercise.

4.  Reverse Sets:  It’s common to perform, say, 4 sets of 8 reps; but instead, switch it up, go much heavier and perform 8 sets of 4 reps.  This works great when you’re trying to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting for a particular exercise.

5.  Don’t Count Your Reps, Time Them!  A typical set will last maybe 10-20 seconds with a common rep scheme.  Utilizing the principle of time under tension (TUT), time your set instead.  Pick a slightly lighter weight (one you think you can do for around 25-30 reps) but continue the exercise for 45-90 seconds.

6.  Tabata:  Best performed with larger compound movements like squats, deadlifts, etc.  You will be performing the set for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat for a total of 8 sets or 4 minutes.

7.  Negatives:  This is where you will be focusing on slowing down the lowering phase of the exercise.  Make sure the negative portion lasts for at least a count of 6.

8.  Forced Reps or Partial Reps:  This will require the help of a spotter; notice I said “help” – your spotter should only have to get you past the sticking point during the last few reps, not lifting the weight for you.  This will allow you to complete a few more reps than you would have been able to do on your own.  If you don’t have a spotter available, do partial reps:  complete as many full reps as you can and then when you are too fatigued to complete any more reps with good form, do a few reps in as much range of motion as you can at the end.

9.  FST-7:  Created by Hany Rambod, Fascia Stretch Training is done on the last exercise for the target bodypart.  7 sets will be completed for this last exercise with a rest time of 30-45 seconds.  This will really get the blood flowing!  If you don’t get a good “pump” from this, you did something wrong!

10.  21’s:  During this technique, you will be doing a total of 21 reps in the set:  7 reps in the lower half of the exercise, 7 reps in the upper half of the exercise, and then 7 reps performing the full range of motion of the exercise.  Again, here you will most likely need to lower the amount of weight you would typically use for a regular set.

Use these techniques to add some variety to your workouts or push you through a plateau.  Just don’t forget to make sure that you have the proper fuel and recovery (nutrition, sleep, and supplements).  I can’t wait to try adding the new pre-workout from Top Secret Nutrition (Pump Igniter)!  You can check it out here:

Remember that you can make your workout your own by adding one or more of these techniques or even adding them together (i.e. doing supersets with a drop set on the last set of each exercise).  Also remember that they should make your workout quite intense, so don’t abuse them either!

It’s amazing what we can accomplish just by putting some serious thought into something.  This applies to just about anything, but in this blog I am going to relate it to fitness.  Recently, I just got back from a family vacation and I am now full-swing into my contest prep for my fall show.  During my vacation, I trained a couple of times and stuck to my normal eating plan for the most part, but I did give myself a little bit of a break (both physical and mental).  Anyone who has been on a diet, prepared for a fitness/physique contest, or just trained for a race or other sport knows how much is required to fully prepare for these events.  There is a meal plan to stick to, a training schedule, food prep, and many other variables that must be considered.  One of the most overlooked components (in my opinion) is getting the mind prepared.  If that element is not in order, the rest is going to be a huge struggle.  How do I know this?  Well, I’ve prepared for several competitions now and some preps have been easy and some have been tough.  A lot of it had to do with my mindset.  There was one contest that I trained for “just to do it” and I struggled A LOT!  You see, since my mental focus was not 100%, it made everything else a lot more difficult;  I still trained hard but had trouble sticking to my diet on a few occasions.

This contest is a completely different story.  I chose not to compete in the Spring this year because I didn’t feel that I was ready.  I did a few short cutting and maintenance/gaining cycles to work on some lagging bodyparts but now, I’m feeling more than ready!  The huge thing that I noticed is that my mental focus is 110%.  I have become aware of some great things this week because of this.  I realized I had much greater control over my hunger and fatigue.  I made it a point to analyze what was going on when I felt “hungry” even though I had just eaten.  When you’re dieting, it is so easy for food to become the focus of your day; even to the point of becoming obsessive about it.  What am I going to eat today?  When can I have my next meal?  Etc. Etc.  After analyzing why I thought I was hungry (and often coming up with a variety of reasons other than hunger) I realized I wasn’t hungry at all.  Even if I was truly hungry, distracting my thoughts away from hunger and food always works great to pass the time (and it can make for quite the productive day!)  My adherence to my meal plan this week was 100% and I can say that there wasn’t any particular time where I felt deprived, starving, etc.

Another area where the power of the mind is huge is during training.  Training is hard if you do it right.  It hurts and it can make you tired.  Maybe you don’t feel like going to the gym because you had a long day at work, the kids exhausted you, or you didn’t get a good night’s sleep.  There are many legitimate reasons to skip the gym (i.e. you need a rest day, you’re injured, or you’re sick), but these other “excuses” just won’t do!  Getting psyched up for the gym starts in the mind.  Think about what you want to accomplish during your next workout; do you want to add more weight/reps to an exercise, do you want to be able to sprint faster/longer?  Use these goals as a starting point.  Most of you know, once you actually get to the gym and start working out, you realize you’re really not that tired or unmotivated.

Don’t underestimate the power of your mind:  everything starts with a thought, is planned and put through a process, and eventually becomes your new reality…so, train your brain people! 🙂


Crush Your Excuses!

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Fitness
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I’m too tired, I don’t have any time, it’s too expensive.  We hear the same excuses over and over again. There are so many reasons why we THINK we can’t, but I’m here to tell you that you CAN! It’s time to let go of all these excuses and to take control over your health and fitness. I’m going to lay out some reasons people give for not exercising or eating healthy and offer some solutions.


  • “I don’t have any time”  Yes, we are all busy but there is no way that you can’t find 20 or 30 minutes in your day.  Avoid the drive to the gym and workout at home if you have to.  Schedule yourself an “appointment” during the day and keep it like you would an important meeting.  If you really can’t do it during the day, get up a little earlier or do it after work.  If you want it bad enough, you WILL find the time.
  • “By the time I get everything else done, I just don’t have any energy left”  Well, I hate to tell you, but exercise will give you MORE energy.  If you get into a routine of working out, you will actually feel more sluggish if you miss your workout!  I know it sounds counterintuitive, but trust me, I know this from personal experience.  If you have a little trouble getting started, try a cup of coffee or a supplement that will give you a little boost.  Some of my favorite products are from Top Secret Nutrition.  Try their Cardio Igniter, BCAA Hyperblend Energy, or Energizing Whey.  The names say it all!  If I’m having a tough day, I’ll take one of these products and I’m good to go!
  • “It’s too expensive”  Yes, gym memberships, fancy home equipment, and some healthy foods can be expensive, but so can poor health.  Would you rather spend $$$ on your health or on medical bills?  You decide.  If you really can’t afford some of these things, a jump rope is under $10 and your stairs/bodyweight/sidewalk are FREE!  You don’t need anything to get into shape.  Take a walk outside, climb up and down your stairs, do bodyweight squats, push-ups, burpees, etc.  The options are endless.
  • “I hate to exercise.  I’ve never liked it and I never will”  Well, you obviously have been doing the wrong exercise for you!  The key to sticking with a healthy habit is finding something that you like.  You don’t have to trudge away for hours on a treadmill if you are going to cringe every time you think about it.  There are so many options to choose from.  A simple walk, dancing, a home workout DVD, playing in the backyard with your kids, a bike ride, a kickboxing or yoga class, or even a fitness game on a gaming console like the Wii or xbox.  Just find any physical activity that you enjoy and you are much more likely to be successful in the long run.
  • “I’m injured or I have too much pain”  While some issues may be legitimate, most can actually be improved by exercise or you can find a way to work around your injury.  It is always a good idea to get your doctor’s ok before starting an exercise program but once you do, there are plenty of ways of finding a safe activity.  As a physical therapist, I USE exercise to help with pain and injuries.  For example, if you can’t walk, swim (or find a pool to “walk” in – it will significantly reduce your bodyweight and pressure on joints).
  • “It’s too hard”  Well, you’re right on this one!  Anything worth having is worth working towards.


April is finally here and we are really getting into the swing of Spring!  The first signs of warm weather are an undeniable reminder that Summer is right around the corner.  New Year’s resolutions that may have dropped off are renewed and the “let’s get in shape for summer” mantras begin again.

I try to be pretty consistent with my diet and training throughout the year but I am also human!  I definitely allow some wiggle-room for get-togethers, holidays, and other unexpected events.  A big dinner out for mom’s birthday, all those Valentine’s chocolates and candies lying around, another dinner for my brother’s birthday, and of course the latest visit from the Easter bunny have all been temptations to fall off the wagon.  Of course I allowed myself to enjoy these opportunities with my family, but I didn’t let them get in the way of my goals.  I have now gotten a little taste of sunshine, a few of the layers of clothing are slowly coming off, and it’s full speed ahead for reaching my summer goals.

I would like to share a few things that help keep me on track with my fitness goals.  I call them my 4 P’s for SuccessPlan, Prepare, be Patient, and don’t strive for Perfection.

  • PLAN:  Here is a great place to start.  Whenever I’m asked for advice on how I stay on track, I always say you have to Plan!  Plan your meals, plan your workouts, and plan for a change of plans!   Schedule yourself a workout “appointment” and stick to it.  Realize that occasionally life gets in the way – a child gets sick, you’re stuck late at work, or whatever the potential “excuse” is for the day.  I say create a back-up plan!  There are times I’ll do my workout at 5 in the morning or 9 at night and it might not be the one I had originally scheduled, but I get it done!
  • PREPARE:  Keep your gym bag packed and ready to go at all times (either by the door or in your car) and pre-cook several meals and have them portioned out in your refrigerator.  This way you’ll have easy grab-and-go meals or something quick/healthy to eat when hunger strikes.  Keep a few healthy snacks with you when you are out so you never have to miss a meal or resort to unhealthy choices.  Sort out your supplements for the week and keep them in one of those pill boxes.  I have 2 containers; one for the morning and another for the afternoon.  All I have to do is grab the right day/time, open it up, and all of my favorite Top Secret Nutrition supplements are ready to go!  Keep a journal of your workouts:  write down all your workouts for the upcoming week so that you know exactly what you’re going to do when you hit the gym and there’s no wasted time or guesswork.
  • Be PATIENT:  Here is the tough one!  It’s easy to be gung-ho about a new plan.  The motivation is there and you’re ready to make a change.  But as the weeks go by, you may be feeling a little discouraged because you haven’t seen many changes.  Be patient, stick with your plan.  A great physique is not built in a day, a week, or even a month.  Too many people give up too soon and constantly have to “start over”.  Put a stop to that vicious cycle and just be patient!

images patience

  • Don’t strive for PERFECTION:  There is no such thing!  There is no perfect diet, perfect training, or perfect physique.  We all have strengths and weakness and we all certainly have good and bad days.  Make the best of what you have when you have it!  It doesn’t matter if your workout got cut short or you just couldn’t resist that cupcake; put that behind you, let go of the guilt, and continue on with your PLAN!  Don’t let one or two little “slip-ups” ruin all of your hard work.  Remember, this is a lifestyle not a diet or temporary fix.

There are always bumps in the road; just keep sticking to your plan, stay prepared, be patient with yourself, accept that you are not perfect and you will be sure to see PROGRESS!