Posts Tagged ‘Top Secret Nutrition’

As I sit here writing this, I am just under 5 weeks out from my next competition, so I thought I’d share with you how things are progressing with me.  From this point on, it becomes even more of a mental and physical game.  Workouts tend to be a bit longer, calories have dropped, and the diet is continuously changing depending on progress.  So far, I’ve managed pretty well through this prep:  I have certainly had points of hunger, but nothing I couldn’t handle; I’ve been able to push through my workouts and have remained pretty strong despite the lowered fuel; and my motivation has been relatively high throughout.

So, what does my diet, training, and supplementation look like right now?  I have always done all of my own prep work when it comes to diet and training and I tend to adjust things as needed.  I have discovered a few things about myself over the last few years of competing including that I “don’t do low carb very well” and there is such a thing as “too much cardio”.  So, in terms of my diet, I will have at MINIMUM, one carb meal per day (usually my beloved oatmeal in the morning will stay until the end).  Most days, though, I will have at least 2 carb meals with an additional small serving of carbs post-workout (here I leave a little wiggle-room for the occasional treat including pretzels, low-fat ice-cream, and even a little bit of candy if needed).  Not only does it help me in terms of recovery, but it is a big help in the sanity department when you’re restricting yourself.  I have also learned that restricting foods to “good” and “bad” can lead to a poor relationship with food.  So instead of good vs. bad foods, I look at it as “the most appropriate time to incorporate this food”.  I also tend to do more carb “re-feeds” at this point vs. cheat meals (these can get pretty dangerous towards the end if you know what I mean ;-))

My training has changed a bit at this point as well.  I am still trying to lift fairly heavy on most of my exercises, but I have incorporated more supersets to not only speed up my workouts, but increase the overall calorie burn.  I will also adjust my workouts on the fly (if I’m feeling energetic and strong, I will try to lift to my max; if not, I listen to my body, lower the weight and just do additional sets/reps – remember, it’s not always the amount of weight you lift, but how you lift it, time under tension, and avoiding injury!).  For cardio, I do HIIT 3 days per week (20 minutes) and fill in the other days with steady-state (usually 30 minutes but not more than 45).  Pose, pose, pose!  This is a huge part at this point as practice makes perfect (especially in those heels!) and it does wonders for you looking and feeling comfortable on stage.  If done correctly, posing can be counted toward your cardio!

Top Secret Nutrition ( continues to be an amazing sponsor and supporter!  I’m still using the 100% Whey post-workout and just incorporated the new Pump Igniter Pre-Workout.  This has been a great addition to my stack as it has gotten me through some grueling workouts!  Cardio Igniter is a must-have for my HIIT and longer-duration cardio workouts.  I have just added in the XAT-7 fat-burner for that extra edge and I continue to use the BCAA Hyperblend Energy (either during my workouts or I just sip it throughout the day if I need a pick-me-up before it’s time to eat again).  Everyday essentials include the ActiveXtreme Multi, Advanced Joint Support, Fish Oil & CLA, and Concentrated Red Palm Oil.  I tend to keep my supplementation fairly stable until close to the end so this list won’t change too much until about a week or so out.

That’s about it!  At least until it’s GO TIME!

Cardio…some people love it and some people dread it. While I’m not a huge proponent of hours and hours of cardio, some is usually necessary for fat loss, conditioning, or contest prep.

So, do you have to plod along on the treadmill or spin your wheels on a bicycle all the time? Absolutely not! I get bored easily, so doing the same type of cardio day in and day out gets old FAST!

I prefer weights over cardio any day of the week, so, why not combine them?!  And no, I don’t mean ‘lift weights faster’ to get your cardio in. Enter, barbell complexes…

In a nutshell, barbell complexes are a series of exercises performed in a sequence, with the same weighted barbell, without rest.  You will typically use 4-6 movements that transition easily from one exercise to the next.  Each movement will generally have 3-8 reps.  Now, for the greatest benefit, you will want to choose full-body or compound movements.  Once you’ve completed one full sequence, you then take a short rest before performing the next sequence.  Here are some examples:

Barbell Complex #1

  • Front Squat
  • Push-Press
  • Romanian or Stiff-legged deadlift
  • Upright Row or High Pull
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row

Barbell Complex #2

  • Power Clean or Hang Clean
  • Deadlift
  • Thrusters
  • Back squat

Choose a weight that will be light enough so that you can complete the sequence without resting but heavy enough to be tough.  If you’ve never done complexes before, its best to choose a really light weight (even just the barbell (45#)) and make sure that your form is good.  Never perform a movement if you’re not sure how to do it safely (i.e. Snatch, Power Clean, etc.).  You can mix and match any exercises that you want – just use your imagination, make sure the movements flow together, and that the weight is appropriate for all movements!

You can either add a short barbell complex workout to the end of your regular workout (should only be 15 minutes or so to complete) or you can perform these during a separate session.  I have added these as a cardio session once per week as a separate session from my workout:  I warm-up for 5 minutes, perform the complex, and cool down for another 5 minutes for a total of a 20-30 minute session.  Now, my only dilemma is which of Top Secret Nutrition’s Pre-Workout Formulas to use:  Cardio Igniter or Pump Igniter??

Hey all!  Just wanted to write a few quick thoughts about where I am in my contest prep.  I have been “officially” dieting for about 3 1/2 weeks now and have made some great progress.  I’ve seen some changes on the scale, in my body-fat measurements, how my clothes are fitting, but most of all…what I’m seeing in the mirror and in progress photos.  The last 2 are by far the most important measures for me.  I also do measurements with the tape measure but only a few times during my prep.  Thus far, my diet has included plenty of carbs, dairy, and even fruit (just about daily).  I have not been overly hungry or fatigued up to this point.  So, here’s a quick run-down of my current program regarding nutrition, training, and supplementation:

Nutrition:  My carbs/protein/fat ratio is a little bit variable, but on most days it looks like this: 35C/40P/25F.  I try to plan most of my carbs around workout time.  I’ll have a slower digesting carb an hour to two hours before my workout (unless I’m training super early in the morning) and a post-workout meal containing protein and carbs (I’ll usually have some fruit with this meal).  I will occasionally have my carbs in the evening…it just depends on how my macros are working out for that particular day.  This is what works for me…I have found that if I drop my carbs too low, I have no energy for my workouts and I’m much hungrier throughout the day.

Training:  Right now I weight-train 6 days a week.  Here is my current split:

  • Sunday:  Shoulders & Traps; 20-30 minutes light cardio with a few minutes of abs after cardio
  • Monday:  Quads & Calves; 20 minutes of HIIT cardio
  • Tuesday:  Back & Biceps; 20-30 minutes light cardio & abs
  • Wednesday:  Chest & Triceps; 20 minutes of HIIT cardio
  • Thursday:  Weak Point Training, weighted abs, and 20-30 minutes light cardio
  • Friday:  Glutes and Hamstrings; 20 minutes of HIIT cardio
  • Saturday:  Complete Rest or Yoga

So, with this schedule, I’m currently doing cardio 6 days a week but no more than 30 minutes (some days I do skip it).  For me, cardio is an adjunct to proper nutrition and resistance training.  As my prep continues, I will adjust it (up or even down) as necessary.  I will say this though…you will not find me doing hours on end.  I usually top out at 30, maybe 45 minutes.

Supplements:  I am a proud member of Team Top Secret Nutrition and I use a lot of their supplements everyday.  Here is my current stack:

  • Twice per day (usually morning and afternoon):  TSN Digestive Enzymes, Fish Oil & CLA, Advanced Joint Support, Concentrated Red Palm Oil, ActiveXtreme Mulit (a.m. only), and InterDerm (p.m. only)
  • Before each meal:  TSN Garcinia Cambogia Extract (to support weight loss, appetite control, and it affects caloric absorption)
  • Before Cardio:  If I’m doing morning cardio:  TSN Cardio Igniter;  If I’m doing my cardio in the evening:  I will take either TSN’s Extreme Jitter Free Fat Burner or the new L-Carnitine Plus Raspberry Ketones Liquid
  • Pre-Workout:  Right now I take a combination of TSN Cardio Igniter, Creavar, and Astravar 2.0 BUT I will be starting the brand-new Pump Igniter Pre-workout as soon as my shipment arrives!  Stay tuned for updates and reviews!


  • Intra-Workout:  TSN BCAA Hyperblend Energy
  • Post-Workout:  If I don’t have a whole-foods meal, I will drink a protein shake (TSN 100% Whey)

For more information on Top Secret Nutrition products, you can check out the following links:

When you hear the words healthy eating or “clean” eating, what do you think of?  You probably think of eating the same foods, over and over again…chicken, vegetables, oatmeal, blah, blah, and blah!  I used to think that eating the same foods would be the best way to get a stage-worthy physique and yes, it can absolutely work!  If you tend to be a creature of habit and enjoy eating the same foods, prepared the same way all the time, I say go for it (as long as you are getting the appropriate required macronutrients and micronutrients)!  But for me, I tend to get bored easily and start “craving” some variety.  Well, since variety is the spice of life, it can easily be incorporated into your diet.

I am not the world’s best cook, but I have been known to whip up a few edible things from time to time 😛 !  There are a number of ways that you can change up your diet and they range from simple to extravagant.  Since I’m usually in a rush, simple works best for me…for example, I was not in the mood for another round of chicken and salad, so I made these stuffed peppers last night in about 40 minutes using 2 bell peppers, 93% lean ground beef, no salt added diced tomatoes, brown rice, garlic/onion/pepper/Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic, and a sprinkling of low-fat mozzarella on top.  They are about 260 calories per pepper…


  • Spice it up!  This is by far THE easiest way to change things up.  I am a huge fan of the Mrs. Dash spice line (bordering on having a problem I think ;-))  If you usually grill or bake your chicken, change up the spice:  Italian, Southwest, Lemon Pepper, etc.

My Mrs. Dash Collection

  • Change the way you prepare:  If you generally grill your meats, try a stir fry with a wide variety of vegetables or throw your meat in the slow cooker with a low sodium broth.
  • Be creative!  If you have a favorite recipe but it is loaded with unhealthy ingredients, find substitutes!  You can check out the list on the Mayo Clinic site here: (just as an FYI, not all the substitutions on this list are great…always read labels!).  I’ve made Turkey meatloaf with veggies & oats (instead of breadcrumbs) and “healthy chocolate cupcakes” for my girls using dates!  Ok, I really made them for me…
  • Vary your staples!  Change up your regulars…there are so many fruits and vegetables to choose from, different protein sources (chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, tofu, etc.), carbs (brown rice, quinoa, sprouted grain breads, and soba noodles are some of my favorites), fats (nuts and natural nut butters, avocado, olive and coconut oil, seeds like chia, and don’t forget about whole eggs!)
  • Whip up some great smoothies!  How many times have you made the same protein shake?  I’ve been guilty of this in the past too.  My old standby is whey and unsweetened almond milk (I use Top Secret Nutrition’s 100% Whey).  This is great by itself by why not change it up?  Add some banana, raspberries, or peanut butter to the chocolate flavor.  Vanilla is amazing because it is super versatile.  You can add so many different ingredients:  avocado, spinach, fruits, or pretty much anything you desire.  Not a breakfast eater?  Make a coffee drink using protein powder.  Mix vanilla for a latte or chocolate for a mocha!  Hot or cold, this is definitely one of my favorites!  TSN also has a great protein that has already done this for you…check out the Energizing Whey (

So, if your daily mealplan looks something like this: Meal 1:  oatmeal and eggwhites, Meal 2:  chicken, broccoli, and rice, Meal 3:  chicken, broccoli, and rice….(you get the point!), try to incorporate at least one or two different meals a week that will help you keep things interesting as well as staying on track!

I was cleaning out my gym bag the other day (for fear of what might be growing inside) only to discover the “kitchen sink” of fitness items and other goodies that I keep in there.  As I pulled each item out, I was trying to think if it was something that I really needed.  I’m a bit of a gadget girl and when it comes to fitness gadgets, I’m a self-proclaimed junkie!  So, what did I find in my gym bag and what the heck is it’s “I can’t live without this item’s” use?


  • Towel:  Ok, so this is a no-brainer.  Everyone should have a towel to a) cover the piece of equipment they’re using and b) wipe the sweat off (cuz let’s be honest, if you’re not sweating, you’re not working!)  Here’s a tip to remember!  Use a towel with some sort of logo or even write on it if you have to…trust me, you don’t want to wipe your face with the side that was on the equipment.
  • Gloves:  Another must-have to help protect your hands from both germs and those lovely calluses.  Just remember to wash them once in awhile.
  • Versa Gripps:  These are not ordinary gloves or straps.  For me, they are a huge asset to every back workout or any deadlifting routine.  I was able to lift MUCH heavier with good form using these and they didn’t hurt my wrists like regular straps used to.  I do believe grip/forearm strength is important but I also know that my grip will fail WAY before my back or legs.
  • Good Quality Belt:  This item has helped me improve in so many lifts including deads, squats, bent-over barbell rows, etc.  It helps protect my back when I’m working at the upper limit of the weights I use.  I suggest trying to avoid wearing it during your entire workout though (unless of course you must for a back problem).  Over-reliance on a weight belt can cause you to avoid the use of your core muscles during various exercises.  (And yes, my belt is pink, don’t judge! :-))
  • Headbands/Ponytail Holders:  A definite necessity for me!  I keep a bunch in my bag wrapped neatly around a metal ring (for easy access and so they don’t get tangled).  I can’t understand how some people workout with their hair down – that would just drive me nuts!
  • Timer:  This is a great little device that you can use to use for interval training or to time your rest periods.  I have the Gymboss and it’s really easy to personalize for Hiit, Tabata, etc.
  • Orbitape/Tape Measure:  Always good to keep track of your progress without being a slave to the scale!
  • Phone/Music Player and at least 2 sets of Headphones/Earbuds:  My ipod battery has been known to die at the most unfortunate times; I always manage to lose the rubber tips off of my earbuds which renders them completely useless.  So now I have 2 backups (phone for music and extra headphones)
  • Heart Rate Monitor:  I like to use this during all of my workouts to make sure that I keep my intensity high, track the length of time, and calories of each workout.  I have always used Polar and rarely have a problem with them.
  • Training Journal:  I think everyone should keep track of their workouts.  A training journal is a great tool to write down your plan for the gym so you know exactly what you’re going to do.  You can also keep track of weights/sets and how you felt during and after the workout.  When I notice that a particular workout really hit the targeted muscle group, I make sure to note it so I can repeat the workout.  It can be as simple as a blank notebook.
  • Various Wraps & Braces:  I’ve been involved in sports and weight training for quite some time now.  An unfortunate side effect of pushing the limits can be overuse or injury.  So, I keep a few wraps & braces handy if I need them on a particular day.
  • Toiletries:  Cleansing cloths/make-up remover, hairbrush, deodorant, Febreze Sport (great for those sneaks!), etc.  You never know when you’re going to need to do a quick clean-up.
  • My Favorite Top Secret Nutrition Supplements:  Some of my favorites that are a staples in my gym bag are my Cardio Igniter, Astravar 2.0, Creavar, and BCAA Hyperblend Energy.
  • Padlock:  Gotta keep all my goodies safe and sound while I’m on the gym floor!

So there you have it!  I’m amazed at all the stuff I can fit into my bag.  But, just as a reminder, if your gym bag is stocked and ready to go at all times, you don’t have any excuses…just grab and go to work!

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!