Tag Archives: diet

Fitness: Putting to Rest the Controversies & Confusion

I’ve been talking and thinking about this topic a lot lately and getting different perspectives on fitness through other fan page accounts, twitter, instagram and it’s pretty easy to see how different people view fitness. There are many definitions of fitness. The one in the dictionary is the ability to reproduce…but I don’t really think that’s what most people have in mind when they’re throwing 65 lb dumbbells up and down the gym, gulping down protein powder and tweeting about their massive pump (#fitness #health #swole).

You know how health is one of the most controversial topics today? Well, that’s because people have different views on what works and what doesn’t. That could be for many reasons. It could because our bodies are made differently and a certain way of eating for me may not work for my neighbor and vice versa. Some people can look at a weight and grow biceps. Others can look at a cake and gain 5 pounds. We all have to adjust our routines to figure out how our own bodies respond the best.

I’ve believed in every single kind of diet at least once in my life. High carb/low fat, no this, no that, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, 6 meals a day, 2 meals a day, and yes, I’ve even tried NO meals a day. I’ve made all the mistakes in the book. I used to over-train and underfeed. I used to kill my body slowly with massive amounts of cardio. I’ve switched around my diet so many times trying to figure out “what works best” for me and my head spins just thinking about it. All the controversies out there have a huge part in my dietary habits, I was constantly listening to what one person says I should and should not eat but then I would hear another very convincing claim that states just the opposite.

You should see my massive pile of nutrition and diet books.

But today I’m going to let you in on a little secret. One many people may want to argue with…but truthfully…if you want to know my opinion….I’ve come to believe that..

EVERYTHING WORKS.

Circuit training works. Crossfit works. 5 by 5 workout routines work. Eating 6 meals a day works. Eating 2 meals a day works. IF works. No IF works. Skipping breakfast works. Working out on an empty stomach works. Working out on a full stomach works. Yolks work. Chicken works. BCAAs work and pre-workouts work. Paleo works. Vegetarian works….(eh…kinda). Everything works as long as it’s enriching and healthy for your body.

Not healthy as in “I’m going to eat zero calorie foods all day cause that’s me being healthy.” But healthy as in….”This banana came from Mother Nature. Therefore I will stuff it in my face, enjoy every bite and then use it to fuel my workout.” Now we’re talking.

So I want to put to rest some of these questions about health and fitness. There will always be controversies. But it’s your job to not let it get to you. Do not fall into the trap of thinking only ONE thing works and everything outside of it is a fail. That’s limiting yourself too much and eventually you will grow tired. And confused.

I’m not saying you should turn away from listening to what people have to say. Quite the opposite actually. Learn what you can from smart people. Read nutrition books. Study the art. Figure out what benefits are coming from the food you are consuming and read about different training strategies. Knowledge is power. The part where things get tricky (for me) is implementing that knowledge into my own life without letting it control me. I’ve been switching my attention over from listening to what others say will work, to how my body responds to the things I do each day. I still absolutely love to hear about what coconut oil will do on an empty stomach or why it’s best to eat simple sugars post workout and all that fun good stuff. It’s exciting and enriching to learn more. But once you have the gift of knowledge, don’t abuse it. Have fun with testing out new things but take it a day at a time. If you hear a theory that goes against the same one you heard yesterday, it’s probably true. Everything is true in some way. it just depends on how you look at it, your goals and your own beautiful body.

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The Negative Side to Achieving Female Abs

With all this talk about summer and needing to be sexy in a bathing suit, I felt the need to share a little bit about my own experience with working towards those gotta-have abs. If you’re looking for the secret to abs, please stop reading immediately and continue to search through the Oxygen Magazine sitting on the coffee table nearby for the answer- because I promise you, what I’m going to tell you will either disappoint you or bring you relief and peace. I’m hoping it’s the second option.

I’m going to share a little bit about my story on the quest for perfect abs. But before we go into that, I am going to be blunt and tell you that I am still on that quest. Everything I am about to tell you is for both your benefit and mine, because I too forget the truth behind what it takes to get a six pack for females. I often look at photographs of my favourite fitness models and competitors and drool over those tight tummies, and then get a little infatuated with reaching that level of chiseled..ness.

As you all probably know, I was 100% dedicated for my fitness competition last year. No fruit. No sugar. No almond milk. No gluten. No dairy. No cheese. Honestly, the only foods I had for 20 weeks were egg whites, chicken, brown rice, oats, protein powder, broccoli, green beans and asparagus. Oh and one tablespoon of peanut butter per day. Every once in awhile I switched out oats for a little sweet potato. But there was NOTHING ELSE. If you think I’m kidding…well, I’m not kidding so just believe me.

At first, this post may seem like I’m dissing myself or aggravated at my fitness prep but that’s definitely not the case. There is more to this, I promise. I have a point and a message I want to send but first I want to recap last year’s quest for the perfect shredded physique.

This was my grocery cart for 20 weeks.

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photo-9This cooler was with me every where I went, whether it was to a party, to a meeting, to a study group or what have you.

I mean, the water bottle still goes everywhere with me but that’s still a downgrade from what I usually carried.
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4774220004f811e290351231381b5983_7 I spent my Friday nights in the fitness room of my gym wearing my heels, walking up and down checking out my smile, turns and making sure my booty was “poking out” enough. This was indeed a little fun for me, but at the same time, I do remember turning down a few really fun parties to do this instead. Oh, and I had to retake this picture several times before I posted it on Instagram because I thought I looked fat in some of them.
photo-25I was eating calorie free chocolate dip, dressings and pancake syrup. Calorie/carb/everything free dips….do you know how many chemicals were in this thing to make it taste so good but be so guilt free? My body HATED me for this. I was not “healthy” I was skinny..and this was my secret. Deathly, disgusting fake products.

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This became the only thing I read because it was the only thing that I was really interested in any more.

Now PLEASE do not get me wrong. I LOVE FITNESS MAGAZINES with my life. It’s actually been a dream of mine since I was little to work for a fitness magazine. It’s a huge passion for me. But it definitely shouldn’t be my only passion, right? I was become information-overloaded and it was all I was starting to think about.

Until I started to look like this.

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Now, you may not know my face very well but I’ll just tell you, I have a very round face. I have always kind of had that child-like face and even my body tends to want to be a little on the softer side. This picture here scares me. You probably can’t tell, but this is not what I look like. My legs look like twigs here and I have absolutely NO muscle development. All gone! Thankfully, this was mid prep and I ended up filling out a little better right before my show and developed a little more muscle definition.

So dieting+no social life+ eating out of Tupperware religiously+ no freedom in food choices+cardio every day+fake food= MY abs. I’m not saying this is how you got your abs, but I’m saying, in 2012, this is how I achieved my abs because I did what I was told by my coach and followed the fitness competition norms.

There are different ways to achieve abs I’m sure. Some people have awesome genetics. Some people take fat burners. Some people diet and don’t need to do much cardio to get abs. We are all different. But this is my story, so I’m sharing how I got them. I would love to think that eventually I could learn how to have them again by doing it differently but for the mean time, I’m not stressing. I enjoy being lean just from choosing whole, clean foods and that’s good enough for me. I absolutely LOVE getting stronger and seeing muscle growth. As a matter of fact, my face is getting fuller. My arms are getting bigger and stronger. My abs actually FEEL stronger, even though they are less noticeable. I get to cook fun meals and post them on my blog! I could never do that before because I was too scared to eat outside of my normal diet.

If you are about to follow or thinking about following a similar approach to getting abs you need to simply ask yourself…is it worth it? Are abs worth giving up 90% of everything else? That’s the question I have to ask myself from time to time. I need to channel my energy elsewhere, like developing stronger relationships, getting lost in music, calling my family to tell them I love them, help others learn how to be more than just LEAN but how to LIVE.

My dream is to help females STOP fantasizing and drooling over fitness models and their perfect abs and thinking “Oh if only I looked like that.” or “I’ll never be that skinny.” Because I promise you, those ladies had to make some serious sacrifices to get there and that’s because to them, it’s worth it. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. They had to give up some things and work really freaking hard. I know this because I had to do the same. And after my competition, I remember telling my mom exactly this, “Mah, I had the perfect body for a few weeks. The one I’ve always wanted. In return, I lost social skills, missed out on relationships and had nowhere to go with this ‘perfect’ body because i was so terrified of messing it up. I will never again sacrifice my life for a lean set of abs.”  I do not have a 6 pack naturally and I never will. I was not born with those genetics. It’s easier for some than others and if you’re one of the “others” you need to decide what you really, truly want in the one life you have. Laughter and stress free dinners with family and friends? Or sweat-inducing nervous breakdowns because you’re scared of what that banana might do to your body fat levels. Maybe you can have a little bit of both. And if you can, that’s amazing. That’s called balance. It’s a point I have finally reached. I am conscious of my food choices but I allow myself to live in the moment.

These days when I find myself fantasizing, I just remember what it took for me to get to that “dream” level of leanness. It’s not what I want for my one and only life. I want to be happy. That’s where my heart truly lies these days.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (dairy and grain free)

Besides one minor 8 page paper, school is done and over with for the semester. So to celebrate, I made a batch of delicious paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my sweet 80 something year old poetry professor. I was in a bit of a hurry, so an instagram picture is the best I could do. I usually hesitate to post a recipe without at least halfway decent pictures, but I really wanted to share this one!
931423_589041617781561_538340145_nPumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (gluten, grain and dairy free)
Ingredients:
1 cup almond flour/meal
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1/4 cup almond butter or sunbutter (sunbutter for the win)
1/4 cup honey
1 T maple syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup chocolate chip (dairy free, gluten-free)
1/4 tsp salt

Directions
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Blend thoroughly, that baking powder can be clumpy! Prepare a muffin dish with muffin liners or spray with non-stick spray. Pour the batter in evenly…mine made about 9 muffins. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until they’re firm and golden brown.  (I honestly can’t tell you exactly how long I cooked mine for, because I kept wanting them to be a little more crispier but it’s probably ended up more towards 45 minutes than 40. Definitely try 40 first, everybody’s oven’s is a little different I think:))

These came out super moist, light and fluffy. Even though it’s May, I will never get tired of smelling pumpkin in my apartment. I just wanted to light the pumpkin candle I STILL have sitting by my couch and drink some warm archer farms pumpkin flavored coffee. Is it Fall yet?!

What I Ate Wednesday

Her guys! My last first and last final is in a few hours. Did I stay up all night studying for it, you ask? No. But I did stay up to download my pictures for this post. And Facebook chat. And look at cute pictures of kittens.

"She was like, 'Let's just be friends.'"

And now I’m watching the Today Show. I’m still not sure when the official studying hour shall commence, but I’m guessing it’ll be somewhere around 12:30, when I’m walking to my exam. It’s a good 7 minute walk, so that’s plenty of time right? Agh, graduation couldn’t come at a better time. No more motivation.

On to WHAT I ATE WEDNESDAY! (AKA stuff that’s much more important)

2013-04-29 19.11.16 Quinoa porridge! This is 3/4 cup of already cooked quinoa, with a splash of almond milk, strawberry whey and a few cherries.2013-04-29 22.23.35PWO was an extremely ripe banana and 1 scoop whey.2013-04-29 23.04.42One of my favourite meals was next!! Pizza stuffed sweet potatoes. I used my low carb marinara sauce, nitrate-free pepperoni, mushrooms and tomato basil mrs. dash seasoning.2013-04-30 02.45.33Taco salad. 3 oz longhorn, mini peppers, salsa, 1/2 avocado, tomatoes and lots of lettuce!2013-04-30 06.15.05Quinoa omelet. Eggs, onions, broccoli and quinoa with a dab of ketchup! Not too fancy but sure is delicious.168883_588232724529117_405757577_nThis was a cookies and cream sunbutter cup! Omg it was so delicious and so easy to make. Just scoop 1/2 cookies and cream casein into a ramekin dish, add a dollop of nut butter, and then top with the remaining casein. Stick in the freezer for an hour and then enjoy:)

I noticed that I have protein powder for 3 of my meals. That’s a little excessive. I love casein at night because it keeps cravings at bay, and of course whey is my go to after a workout. So what I think I’m going to do is focus on decreasing my use of powders from at least 3 to 2. And then I will work down to only post workout. Whole foods FOR THE WIN!

Baked Pizza Meatballs

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It’s a Saturday afternoon “rest” day. So of course, I’ve done a lot of cooking, cleaning and watching Friends. I’m also going to indulge in a mini I’m-so-over-college rant. I really can’t neglect school this next week as much as I did last week.  I missed more than half of my classes simply because I don’t care. This upcoming week is my last week of school.  All in all, I’ve had a good semester but it flew by crazy fast. A lot has happened that I’m grateful for and I’ve overcome a few struggles of my own. Regardless, it would be a great semester to finish off my college career.

But nope…..of course the educational gods (AKA the school dean and administrators) wanted to grant me with one more lingering school session, out of the kindness of their rotten hearts. Thanks. On a positive note, that will just give me more time to search for my first job. I have a good idea of where I’m going to go, but I’m not releasing any deets quite yet.

Enough whining. Let’s talk about how delicious my kitchen smells right now. It’s a mixture of grassfed longhorn (yes, grassfed is a smell), pepperoni, parsley and onion. Maybe, a little bit of bacon fat hidden somewhere too.
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Ingredients:
1 pound lean beef (bison, longhorn, grass-fed)
1 oz nitrate-free pepperoni, chopped
1 egg
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T chopped Italian Parsley
1 T Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic
3 T marinara sauce (I use this one)
1 T coconut oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Set the oven to 400 degrees. Saute the onion and garlic in the coconut oil, on a skillet set to medium-high heat, until onions are translucent. Once done, put them in a bowl with the beef, pepperoni, egg, parsley, Mrs. Dash and 2 T of the marinara sauce. Mix well with your hands and then form into little balls. Place them on a baking dish with either parchment paper or greased with grassfed butter/coconut oil and then top each meatball with a little bit of what’s left of the marinara sauce. Put the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes. Pair with spaghetti squash, spiraled zucchini, or a big side of veggies!
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Mmmm don’t you wanna touch all of dat.

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Pepperoni is my weakness.2013-04-27 01.32.05

Not a big pizza person. But meatballs….2013-04-27 01.39.29I just can’t get enough.

I’m pretty pleased with how this recipe came out, so please give it a go and let me know how you like em! Have a great weekend!

Mini PB Protein Biscuits & Egg Whites

I had difficulty naming this one. Technically these could be protein puffs, mini breakfast cakes,  biscuits or what have you! I decided to stick with biscuits because when I separated them into three different rounds, they looked really flaky and soft. I have a had a few people think that their protein mug cakes come out a little dry, which is why I typically top mine with something like almond butter, protein icing (a little whey and almond milk mixed together) or sweet eggs…I don’t really mind the “dry” mug cakes but I also have a really strange set of taste buds:) These I made on a complete whim but they were so delicious that I had to share.

Mini Protein Biscuits & Egg Whites
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Ingredients for Biscuits:
1 scoop Myofusion whey (I used peanut butter cookie dough)
1 T egg whites
1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 T flax seed

Toppings:
1/2 cup egg whites or 3  egg whites
Nut Butter (I chose Sunbutter)
Cinnamon
1 packet Stevia

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients for the biscuits in a mug and put in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Be careful to make sure it doesn’t spill over! Once done, turn over the mug on a plate and let the cake cool. Then scramble eggs in skillet. Cut the protein concoction into 3 pieces and top them with the eggs, Stevia, cinnamon and nut butter. This is almost identical to my strawberry mug cake, but just another way to spice up your whey:)

Yesterday I had a fun photo shoot at my gym sporting the RUNNUR since I wear this product around religiously. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so many funny looks at the gym. Wait no, I take that back. Carrying my competition heels to the fitness room made for a pretty long walk. Oh, good times….good times.

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Oh YEAAHHHHH. Sexayyy RUNNUR.

And even though I did legs today, my past two posts have had leg workouts so here is my shoulder/tricep workout from yesterday.

Kettlebell swings with 25 lb- 3 sets, 25 reps
(All reps below 8-10)
Military press- 50, 60, 60, 40 to failure
Close grip bench- 70, 80, 80, 45 to failure
Clean and press- 45, 50, 50, 45
Dips (normal, not assisted, ladies!)- 4 sets
DB shoulder press- 35, 35, 25, 25
Shrugs holding 50 lbs in each hand- 3 sets of 30
Overhead tricep extension- 35, 35, 35

Okay so I know this looks like a lot but since my reps are in the 8-10 range, I do an extra set usually. I was DEAD by the time I was done though. Definitely felt it the entire day. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

Weekend Fun & Some Recent Thoughts

My weekend nights are usually pretty relaxed and non-eventful. I really enjoy my down time to recover from the past week and to prepare for the week ahead. Some may call this lame, but I call it “listening to my body.” It seems as the semester comes to a close, every week just keeps getting busier and busier and my workouts are getting better and better. Therefore, on a typical Friday and Saturday night you can definitely find me in my apartment cooking a new recipe and having my me time. Except for last night. I went out, for once, since my beautiful sister and her best friend came into town. You could say I don’t feel so hot today. Not so hot at all. And I think I’ve had 2 gallons of liquids, so I’m retaining water like a balloon.
image.pngWorth it? Definitely. I love going out with these beautiful ladies, PLUS we went to my favourite restaurant Moonshine and even though the wait was an hour and a half, we feasted on some delicious bison meatloaf and tasty margaritas. I don’t splurge often or stray from my paleo ways, but it’s been a good few months since I’ve had a cheat and I felt the occasion called for some relaxed eating. Afterwards we hit up down town and enjoyed ourselves with good conversation and lotsa laughs.

Like I said, I don’t drink often. So the majority of today I’ve felt kinda crummy. This morning I made them some tasty eggs and we spent 3 hours watch Game of Thrones Season 1 because these silly girls have never seen it…..I KNOW. NEVER. It initially upset me but now they’re hooked so there goes all their free time for the week.

Around 2 I had a couple cups of coffee with 1 T coconut oil and some vanilla whey. It’s kinda like a latte pre-workout and it’s freaking fantastic. I then hit the gym for glutes and hamstrings and this is what my workout ended up looking like:

5 minute run
Box squats with barbell- 5 sets, moving up in weight each time
Alternating lying leg curls- 3 sets (10 on each leg and then both legs together)
Abductor machine- 3 sets
Sumo squats with kettlebell -4 sets
Deep squats pyramid set- 5 sets (alternating between wide and narrow stance)
Stiff-legged deadlifts- 4 sets
Seated calf raises with two 45 plates- 4 sets

The box, sumo and deep squats will be the death of me. On leg day, I seriously go a little crazy with the squats but it’s because they really make me happy. I feel like a goof saying it, but it’s my favourite exercise and I would do them all day long if my body allowed. My booty has grown tremendously in the past 4 months just from switching up my squat techniques and DITCHING the smith machine. It works for some people but every time I used it, I completely abandoned my core, put too much weight on it and never went deep enough. I wasted a lot of time on the smith but hey, that’s how we learn, right?

So here’s the part where “some recent thoughts” are exchanged. In case you don’t follow my Facebook page, here are two of my most recent statuses:
1. “Time for some truth y’all. I’ve struggled with body images since I was 13. I was a stick but I thought I was fat. I have been vegetarian, vegan, a bikini competitor (yes, that’s a diet lol) and now paleo. I ran an hour on the treadmill every day my freshman and sophomore year. I spend two hours on the elliptical in high school. I under-ate. I struggled. I was obsessed.

Now? I still have my doubts at times but I am ten million times better. I want to be the BEST version of myself…not the smallest. I want to be the STRONGEST, not the most “fragile.” I want the inside of my body to fuel my so I can perform my absolute best. I’ve only been eating paleo for about 4 months but in these past 4 months I’ve loved myself more than I ever have. I don’t check the scale. I don’t weigh every ounce of food. And I appreciate my life for the ups and downs. Love what you have while you have it.

I want to help you find this happiness. If you struggle with any kind of body images, know that you are BEAUTIFUL however you look. You are exactly where you are supposed to be in life. Want to get in shape? Well, do it for the right reasons. Do it for your happiness and energy. Do it to live longer. Do it so that you can teach others how to do it too. And remember you’re not the first person to struggle ♥”

2. “As a health coach, my main goal is not to help you lose weight. I’m sorry, but that is not my number one concern, unless it’s crucial for your life. By making healthy choices and learning how to control your portions and hunger, you will in fact lose weight but that’s because it’s NATURAL. I am not going to be giving my clients macros anymore, unless they specifically ask for it. I provide a sample meal plan, a HUGE list of food options, guidance, support and I make some pretty nifty documents for you to keep about how to bulk prep, recipe ideas, etc. I realize that macros (numbers of grams to hit every day) and weighing your food religiously can really turn into an addiction. You rely on those numbers and that scale and soon enough, you’re in some deep mental trouble and the stress keeps adding up. My concern is to bring you HEALTH. To bring you HAPPINESS through your diet. Forget numbers. Forget HAVING to eat every 3 hours. Your body knows what it wants and I want to help you learn how to listen to yourself. Now that’s a talent we should all be trying to learn. If you want to lose weight, it will happen naturally and stress-free as long as you make the right choices”

So in case you where wondering what’s up, I’ve decided that my coaching techniques really and truly are going to be integrative & holistic. I originally thought I wanted my niche to be sports nutrition, and macro-focused diets with strict “bodybuilding” meal timing for optimum results but I realize that’s NOT what I want to teach. I want to teach my clients how to eat intuitively. I myself have gone through the ups and downs of diets countless times and I’ve struggled with macros. I am just now learning how to NOT count every gram of protein I eat, or not write down every single thing I bite into. It took me so long to learn how to count macros but once I finally got it down, I completely forgot how to simply eat.

You know why I’m ditching the macros? Because I’m healthy. I’ve learned what things I want to eat and what things are good for me, and that’s enough.

I’m putting pure, whole foods in my body. I am not starving myself. I am not weighing myself. I know when I’m hungry because my body will tell me. I know which foods affect me in negative or positive ways. I have watched girls go into competing excited to make changes and then lose sight of SO many other aspects in life. They take their critique cards from the show, cry for hours that their booty wasn’t up to par with what the judges wanted, and then spend the next several months dieting even more in hopes to improve their physique for another group of completely different judges, who may not even have the same judging criteria as the last set of judges! It’s confusing! And god forbid you aren’t lean enough. Then the judges will mark you down because you have a tiny bit of extra water retention.

like….WHAT?! How much more discouraging can it get?

Now, I am not hating on competing AT ALL. I loved it, I had so much fun. And I hope to do it again some day! Just in a healthier way. It’s hard to ignore people when they basically tell you that you are NOT perfect, even though you spent a ton of time trying to perfect yourself.

In my coaching practice, I know I will coach people who want to compete down the road. But I don’t want to kill them with cardio, starve them, and then abandon them after the show to fight off the evil post-competition mental demons that are surely going to sneak up. I’ll do it right. And for everybody else, I don’t plan on giving numbers and macros for you to follow because that is just PLAIN STRESSFUL.

Can I get an AMEN?!

We all need to learn how to live in our own bodies. Truly live in them. Love your body. Feed your body. Hug every curve. Caress every inch of skin. Work what your momma gave you cause I’m pretty sure some girl out there would die to have what you have, no matter what size you are.

Oh and by the way. Ever since I’ve stopped counting, I’ve been seeing results in my lagging body parts. My quads are finally growing and my arms are getting bigger. I cannot believe all I needed to do was listen to my body and that would be enough.

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