Posts Tagged ‘Health’

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!

5 days out

Posted: October 14, 2013 in Fitness, Nutrition
Tags: , ,

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!

Why is losing fat so darn hard?  The concept seems easy enough…to lose fat we must consume less calories than we are expending, right?  Well, yes and no.  Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy.  I know some people who would argue that it is, but we must consider many things when trying to attain our best physique.  Will we lose weight on a steady diet of donuts as long as our calories are low enough.  I guess we would but our bodies would be poorly nourished wouldn’t they?  And could we lose weight without exercise…sure, but what would we look like?  My point here is that there needs to be a balance between nutrition, exercise, and rest.  There’s not too much we can do about our genetics, but we can certainly control the other three factors.  I’m going to list a few important things to consider when embarking on a weight-loss journey:

  • If you have a great deal of weight to lose and are relatively untrained, it IS possible to gain lean mass and lose fat at the same time.  If you have a good amount of weight training under your belt, it’s not going to be the same.  Here is where I suggest picking a primary goal.  Too many people bounce back and forth between “bulking” and “cutting” to make any real changes in their physique.  If your goal is fat loss, structure your training and nutrition accordingly.  What I mean is, you are going to need to be in a caloric deficit to lose fat and your training should be geared towards maintaining the lean mass you already have.  And when thinking about lengths of cutting/bulking cycles, think months, not weeks.
  • Please, please, please…don’t overdo the cardio!  Cardio should be used as a supplement to a sound nutrition and resistance training plan.  I’m not saying ‘don’t do cardio’, I’m just saying don’t do 2 hours of cardio a day!  Enough said.
  • Another common mistake is dropping calories too low.  Less is NOT more especially if you are training intensely.  You need enough calories to support your metabolism and training.  Not only that, it can set you up for binge-eating.
  • Don’t quit if you’re not seeing the scale move.  Too many people put too much emphasis on the numbers of the scale.  If the numbers aren’t going down (or God forbid they go up!), they get frustrated or depressed and give up.  Throw out your scale if you must!  Many factors can change your weight over the course of a week or even the course of a day!  Water weight from an increase in carb or sodium intake, hormonal changes, and yes, even your bathroom habits can alter that number!  My advice? Look in the mirror, take progress pictures, and take measurements.  We can all usually tell when our clothes are fitting better.  These are MUCH more important than a silly number.
  • Be patient!  Healthy and long-lasting weight/fat loss is going to take time!  Don’t fall for any ridiculous plans that promise a 10 pound loss in 2 weeks (unless of course you’re truly obese).  It IS possible to drop weight too fast:  it can be unhealthy and you can lose your hard-earned lean mass. Rapid fat-loss plans are impossible to sustain and once you stop the plan, you can actually become fatter (if you did lose lean mass and then gain more weight back).  An average person should aim to lose no more than 1-2 pounds per week.  A person who is already fairly lean, 1/2 to 1 pound per week.
  • Modify your training/nutrition AS NEEDED.  Don’t make changes to your program if it’s still working!  Plateaus are inevitable…nutrition and/or training will need to be modified at some point.  Don’t change just for the sake of change and don’t make too many adjustments at once.
  • Use refeeds for your body and your mind if you are following a low-carb program!  Dieting is tough.  We may feel deprived, tired, cranky or all of the above.  Refeeds (or increasing your calories and carbohydrates but maintaining lower fat) can help replenish muscle glycogen (and performance), may help restore leptin levels (a hormone that helps control hunger), and can certainly have a positive effect on our mood!  Refeeds are more important as your bodyfat levels become lower (think:  losing those last 5-10 pounds).
  • Write it down:  studies show that keeping a food journal can greatly increase your chance of success.  It keeps you accountable and can be a real eye-opener if you’ve never tracked your food intake before.  This also goes for watching portion size!  Too much healthy food is still too much!

I could probably babble on, but I’ll sum it up really quickly!  Be patient, train hard, eat right, sleep well, and you’ll be sure to lose…um, win.  I mean… you’re gonna look great!

Our days are jam-packed with responsibilities. So, how are we supposed to fit in anything extra like preparing healthy meals or training?

For those of you that are curious, I’m going to take a page out of my life and show you how I personally fit it all in, including excerpts from my training and food journals.

Most days start fairly early for me. I’m up and running at 6 a.m. (occasionally before if I need to do my training in the morning). First and foremost…COFFEE! I have two daughters so while I’m taking in my morning dose of caffeine, I’m packing lunch for my oldest.

Next up, get everyone dressed and ready for the day. I try to make sure that clothes for my girls are picked out the night before to avoid any morning wardrobe drama…”you wear what you picked out last night and that’s final!”

My oldest is in school full-time so she’s the first to be dropped off, followed by my pre-schooler.

A moment to breathe for me and one of my favorite parts of the day: training time! I sip my pre-workout while I drive to the gym. I’ll spend approximately 45-60 minutes weight-training and then tack on an additional 20-30 minutes of cardio at the end. My post-workout meal follows right after I’m done training.

Once I’m finished at the gym, I’m on the run again! Time to pick up my youngest from pre-school (she only spends a few hours there a couple times a week), head home, take a quick shower and prepare our lunches. I usually try to pre-cook several days worth of meals so that meal prep during the day is fast and easy. I’ll grab my food from the fridge, then heat and eat! Having meals ready makes me less likely to make poor choices when I’m hungry and in a hurry!

Time to head out once again and get my groceries for the week. I take my youngest with me (which always makes any shopping trip twice as long!) and load up on fresh fruits, veggies, complex carbs, and lean meats. I’m usually suckered into getting one or two treats for my daughter but I try to steer-clear of the chocolate aisle!

Done shopping, groceries are put away (well, at least the refrigerated stuff!) and then it’s time to pick up my oldest from school.

Snacks, homework, finish putting the groceries away, dinner prep, dishes, baths for the kids, and then their bedtime! If I’m prepping for a show or trying to lean out (as I am now for the summer), I’ll do another short bout of cardio (20-30 minutes) right after I put them to bed.  Yet another shower, snack for me and then…whew, my bedtime! And then I’ll do it all again tomorrow! Sound exhausting? Most definitely! Worth the effort? You bet!

Here’s a typical day’s diet, training, and supplement schedule:

Meals:

Meal 1: Coffee, Top Secret Nutrition Protein Shake made with Unsweetened Almond Milk; Oats topped with Raspberries and a dash of Sugar-Free Syrup.

Meal 2: (Post-workout treat!) 1 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt with 1/2 Frozen Banana & 1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries.  A nice cold treat after a hard workout!

Meal 3: 5 Ounces Grilled Chicken, 1-2 Cups Broccoli, and 1/2 Cup Brown Rice

Meal 4: 1 Cup 1% Cottage Cheese & a handful of Raw Almonds OR another TSN Shake if I’m on the run!

Meal 5: 5-6 Ounces Lean Meat (Chicken, Fish, Lean Beef) and a Large Spinach Salad topped with Cucumbers/Bell Peppers/Onions/Fat-Free Feta Cheese and Balsalmic Vinegar

Meal 6: (Just before bed): 1 1/2 Scoops 100% Casein Protein mixed into a pudding with 1 TBSP Natural Peanut Butter – frozen for 1 hour (kills the sweet tooth!)

Training:

Typical Back Day Workout (one of my favorites)!  Warm-up sets are fairly easy, working sets I try to lift as heavy as I can with good form almost failing on the last rep or two.

Bent-Over Barbell Rows: 2 warm-up sets of 10 reps; 4 working sets of 8-10 reps

Pull-ups: 4 sets to failure with varying grips

Seated Row: 1 warm-up set of 10-12 reps; 4 working sets of 8-12

Unilateral Cable Pull-Down: 4 sets of 12

Straight-Arm Pull-Down: 4 sets of 12-15

Cardio After: 20-30 minutes (preferrably HIIT)

Supplements (all of my supplements are from Top Secret Nutrition):

AM: 1 Grab & Go Packet of Diet Accelerator N-Pack (has everything I need!)

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Pre-Workout: 1 Scoop each of Cardio Igniter and Creavar

Intra-Workout: 1 Scoop each of BCAA Hyperblend Energy and Creavar

PM: Hair, Skin, & Nails, Green Coffee Bean Extract, and Fish Oil & CLA

Before Bed: TSN Sleep

Throughout the Day:  TSN 100% Whey Shakes as described above

Crush Your Excuses!

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Fitness
Tags: , ,

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.

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  • “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.

Exerciseishard