Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sculpting Shoulders

A lot of opinions about how to train...movements, muscles, function, fat loss...Bottom line, consider your goals. I, personally enjoy "training like a bodybuilder," sculpting a inspiring physique while still considering a lifestyle that encourages fat loss so as to chisel off the layer that insulates.
My current mission is focused on shoulders, spending 2-3 days a week with workouts including the delts as either the primary or secondary focus.

My current shoulder workouts include:
Upright rows
Alternating lateral raise
Dumbbell Overhead press (or Arnold press)
Bent over lateral raise (single arm, I find it easier to put more mind-to-muscle that way)
Front raise with plate
Also may throw in an incline and leaning lateral raise and some rotations

I mix up the program by using supersets: compound/compound, compound/isolation; cranking out drop sets with the last exercise of the superset for a finish!
I still need to increase weight but find this slow with regards to shoulder training....
Please share any other ideas for good shoulder sculpting plans...I would love to try them!
A work in progress....

How's your training going? Is it time to mix up the program? Change your focus area? Update your goals?

Monday, November 7, 2011

FitnessX Magazine article

One of my goals is to write articles for a fitness magazine...
Check it 32...

Thank you to FitnessX Magazine for the opportunity!

Busy working on the next article, next goal to be a regular contributor and providing my own photos! Stay tuned....

Setting goals is key for continued progress and achieving one of those goals is certainly a motivational boost!
What goals have you set for yourself?   What did you do today to make progress towards achieving them?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carrot Banana Bread Recipe

1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup finely grated carrots

Mix oil, agave and eggs first then mix in dry ingredients and banana half at a time. Finally mix in grated carrots.

Pour entire mixture into greased and floured loaf pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 55-65 minutes.

Even the kids will love it! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Muscle Building Muffins

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 scoop vanilla whey
1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
1/2 cup egg whites
Chopped spinach (experiment with other veggies!)
Makes 6 muffins.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Nutritional profile: (per muffin)
Calories: 65.6
Protein: 8.2
Carbs: 6.6
Fat: 0.6

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are you the trailblazer or are you happy trailing?

We all have our roles in life and they may vary from time to time. For the most part though we tend be leaders or followers. It is becoming more and more clear that I am the trailblazer in the small circle in which I currently travel. Flattering that others find my trail worthy of following, yes, but I have to admit that somedays even I would  enjoy someone taking over with reading the trail map so I can enjoy the scenery.
I blaze my own trail as I have so much passion for some of the things I have I in the works right now, I continue to train hard at the gym, reading tons and continually seeking new knowledge to enable me to strengthen my results in continuing to transform my physique. This physical transformation has definately transformed my life as well as this is what has lead me to becoming a trailblazer again. The journey of physical transformation is so much more than you tranform your body you realize how strong you really are, and it has nothingto do with how much weight you can push, pull or lift. Completely transforming yourrself is empowering, giving you a boost to start blazing new trails.
These new trails are sometimes scary and intimidating yet exhilarating at the same time. Some areas of the trail can provide a challenge I, momentarily, feel I am not ready for...but I continue on. When I need a boost I look next to me and behind me and find inspiration in those that follow in my path, working to better themselves and blaze their own trails in their own worlds.
So, are you a trailblazer or are you content following the lead of others? As a trailblazer be sure to stay close to those that are following your lead. Both the trailblazers and the "followers" only benefit. I encourage the "followers" to grab the compass sometime and blaze a trail of their own, draw your own map! I assure you it will be an adventure! So, are you going to blaze your own trail? What is your next adventure and who are you sharing it with?

Monday, September 5, 2011

98 Day Summer Transformation Challenge complete!

Wrapped up the Summer Challenge and the judges are hard at work! Some impressive and very inspiring entries! 98 days/the summer went by far too quickly! But I am proud to say I am stronger, leaner and more focused on my goals than I was 98 days ago! Again, learned a tremendous amount about life and myself during this challenge. I made steady progress towards the goals I set at the start of the Challenge but did not quite reach those goals. I allowed life to get in the way rather than compliment the compliance level I needed for reaching the goals in the 98 days. The good news, I have realized that slow and steady progress is maintainable..."challenge mode" is fleeting.  I love the motivation, inspiration, accountability and support during the Challenges but ultimately I am making lifestyle changes to support long term improvements in me. THIS is my goal, steady improvements, not the roller coaster!

My Results/The Numbers: Scale weight only dropped 2 pounds but we all know the scale doesn't tell the whole tale. After photos revealed a leaner physique, the BF% dropped almost 3%  and LBM was up more than 2 pounds. End of this challenge, yes, but I continue to challenge myself to sculpt a leaner physique.

Lessons Learned:
Quite a few! I entered with Challenge with a partner in crime, (along with all the online "Burners" ) while support is incredibly important, my experience during the Challenge reinforced my belief that true motivation and dedication must come from deep within yourself, you have to want it bad enough to hold yourself accountable, outside support is your source for reinforcement, it does not hold a candle to the power of your own desires.
Next lesson: As BF% decreases so does the room for error in nutrition if you expect to make steady improvements. The calorie deficit for continued fat loss gets steadily smaller...smaller deficit is much easier to close in on and limit progress. Everything is more "fine tuned", what used to be subtle changes in the nutrition plan suddenly result in noticeable changes in physique.
Life lesson regarding balance: Honestly, I could have been more strict with my nutrition plan during the Challenge, I had the spreadsheets, the macros and calories all planned out...and for the most part I stuck with the plan but sometimes you just need to sit on the front steps and eat an ice cream sandwich with the kids. And you can... but with body transformation challenges you know the one who will win probably didn't have that ice cream sandwich. But, in my opinion, I win, I have enjoyed and created memories with my kids this summer. I have realized that while the Challenges I enter are great for motivation, inspiration and surrounding myself with 'like-minded' people, what I really want is to continue to sculpt a health lifestyle that I can and desire to live long term. Balance! Difficult to live in Challenge mode!
The Plan: I continue to train hard and consistent. Looking to mixing up the program again to shock the system for more gains as well as stimulate the brain and renew inspiration. I am moving forward outside the gym as well. I have submitted an article for consideration for publication in a fitness magazine and just yesterday sent a submission to another magazine for a section highlighting fit moms!
The journey continues.....gotta keep challenging myself and pushing outside the comfort zone...
How are you challenging yourself to be a better you?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Climbing mountains....

First day of my mini vacation and I'm up before the sun...getting in a workout and then headed up to the Adirondacks for a long weekend! Looking forward to getting away and enjoying the fresh mountain air, spend some time slowing down a bit, as we all know, living a fit and healthy lifestyle requires a lot of go, go, go! Hope to enjoy sleeping a bit later....'til 6 am?  :) As much as I miss my gym workouts, the body could probably use a break and honestly spending a long weekend in the mountains is the only way I will miss a workout...I've looked for a gym nearby, no real gym for miles. Certainly don't plan on getting lazy, sure I can find some heavy rock and logs to lift, mountains to climb and lakes to swim! We'll call it active rest. Lots of time with my boys, raiding the beloved 'game closet' full of the classic board games from my childhood, fishing, hiking, water skiing and splashing in the lake!
Some challenge presents with sticking tight to the clean eating meal plan, making good progress this week and certainly don't want to undo the hard work, blowing it by eating too many s'mores (luckily not my favorite but have been guilty of sneaking a few chocolate squares from the supplies, only dark chocolate of course) Packing up a lot of my regular menu items, extras to share, hoping to show others how good some of "my food" can be. Just have to be strong in resisting the 'vacation' snacks. Vacation is a required component of a healthy lifestyle (mental health!) but the nutrition and activity plan need not be treated as a vacation.  Re-entry to the real world mid week and then it's time to submit final pictures and stats for the completion of the Summer Transformation Challenge!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Critical importance of Training the Weakest Link

Human nature leads us to travel the path of least resistance. This holds true in so many aspects of life. Consider how you tackle your day, your training, your job...always looking for the easy way, the short cut, avoiding those things less enjoyable. Face it, eventually things end up out of balance! Time to work on strengthening the weakest link.
Consider your training program... bragging rights as well as the intense desire to continue to break PRs encourages us to continue to add load to lifts. But we should not forget the importance of training the weakest link. Unless we pay attention to the detail in the mechanics of the movement the body will rely on the strongest muscles, and sometimes not the intended, if you continue to load the movement pattern. The result: further strengthening the stronger muscular structures and reinforcing compensated movement patterns only encouraging the weaker to become weaker and increasing risk for injury. Those mirrors on the gym wall? Not just for flexing and posing but for watching form and technique to assist you in assuring proper movement patterns!
Imbalances/weak links can occur/exist in any joint or movement pattern but several come to the front of my mind based on both personal experiences with training tendencies as well as experiences with treating patients...
Core stability plays a huge roll in all training programs or should.... while everyone attacks core training for the highly enviable six-pack (which, by the way, is revealed when you clean up the diet), they tend to go about training the core with weights before really grasping the concept of proper abdominal activation. Weakness in the core or simply lack of core activation can result in injury. All too many training to get big and strong forget about the the fact that the core is the central base that all the extremities work from, lose function and stability here all can suffer. Let's look as legs training... pushing heavier and heavier weights on machines such as the leg press certainly will strengthen your legs but be sure to balance this strength and protect your back but doing an equal amount to train the core and also consider/include training in a more functional position and do squats. Is it really greater functional strength you gain by pushing heavier weights on the leg press or just bragging rights? Consider if this is worth the potential for injury or consider changing/expanding your training program.
Scapular and back strengthening is also often forgotten or more often not performed correctly leading to imbalance in the upper back and shoulder girdle. So many benefits to training the weaker link here, scapular stability will protect you from shoulder injury as well as improved posture and improved aesthetics. Look around the gym ,those big guys flexing their pecs in the mirror most likely are lacking strength/size in the scapular musculature as they can't impress themselves by flexing those :)  Enter, poor posture, shoulder injury and general meatheadedness!
Training programs should not be about how much we can lift, push or pull but how well we do it.

There is also critical importance to strengthening the weak links in other areas of life as well. Consider how you tackle everyday life, your relationships, your nutrition, your to-do list. Take a look at your about overall use of time, be efficient and tackle those things you have been avoiding that ultimately just continue to wear away at you. Have those uncomfortable conversations and get the air cleared, strengthen relationships. Be honest about why your body composition/physique goals aren't being met...put down the cookie! Take an honest look at what your day requires to get things done and get started!
Are you living life to the fullest? How can you better yourself, create a better balance? Stop ignoring or avoiding your weak links, face them head on and strengthen them!
So...what did you figure out? What are your weak links? How are you going to strengthen them?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Half way there

Reached the halfway point of the 98 day Summer Transformation Challenge! They are running a 49 day photo contest this time around, $1,000 purse so photos have been taken, before and after collage was created and posted! I probably would not have taken photos at this point had they not encouraged it by offering up a challenge but was glad to have taken some progress pics. Definitely saw more definition in my abs and back despite watching all the weekly progress numbers move so slow. Certainly are some impressive photos in the contest thread so I don't plan on being $1,000 richer next week but did find value in taking the photos.
With less then 7 weeks left its a good time for some honest self assessment regarding progress and compliance thus far and plan for the remainder of the Challenge. Workout compliance not a problem, really never is/was as I enjoy the training, providing my escape and stress relief. Changed up the program this week to include more 'sculpting' as I enjoy 'training like a bodybuilder.' planning on alternating the new program with TNB workouts each week to continue with the heavier lifting. Will continue to monitor progress....
Adherence to nutrition plan is always a bigger challenge for me. Difference this time is that I have a plan, more proactive with meal planning rather than reactive with meal reporting.  I am finding this easier in that I know what my next meal is, I find myself looking forward to the meal rather than battling cravings and succumbing to snacking as I try to figure out what to eat when meal time arrives. By planning ahead I also know in advance that all my macronutrient ratios will be correct to allow me to reach my goals. Do I stray from the plan? I am honestly I have had a few leaks in the plan. Interestingly though, perspective changes significantly after cleaning up the nutrition cheats?  Granola, chopped dates, craisins.....
Reassessing my goals for the Challenge reaffirms I have to plug the leaks and turn up the burn as I still need to drop 3% BF in order to reach my goals. I could easily reach my scale weight goals in a matter of 2 weeks if I was not concerned about losing hard earned LBM. My priority is health and creating a lean and strong skinny fat for me! Most importantly I am sculpting a healthy lifestyle I can live with!

Take the time to take an honest look at your own progress. Are you getting closer to your goals? Remember to view the obstacles as challenges, not excuses! Make each day a little better than the last and your next photo will be of a better you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Green and clean snack chips

In an effort to find healthy substitutes for those not so healthy cravings, you know those horrible salty, crunchy cravings...Try kale chips, they have a surprising similarity in flavor and crunch to a light chip of the unhealthier variety yet with a "green" aftertaste..not as bad as it sounds. Give them a can choose your own blend of seasonings, I have enjoyed herb and garlic with a touch of sea salt but feel free to experiment with your own combinations . Kale is inexpensive and the chips are simple to make and hopefully will quiet the cravings and keep you on track with you healthy eating.
Kale provide a good source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins A, K and C and a cup of kale is only 34 calories.

Tear kale into small pieces, wash and spin in your salad spinner. Spread pieces in single layer on a baking sheet. Mist with a little olive oil and sprinkle on your favorite seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Hope you enjoy experimenting with some different seasonings and please share your favorites!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lifting heavy things

Started a new training program with the start of the 98 Day Challenge this summer. Hitting Tom Venuto's T.N.B. workout. Many of the exercises are similar to previous programs I have done but put together with a few variations and a variety of reps/set combos aiming at creating both strength and hypertrophy. Each workout's primary lifts are compound movements taking advantage of using large and multiple muscle groups to build muscle mass and stoke the metabolic furnace. Workouts are either focused on strength gains with lower reps and higher weights or slightly lighter weights with slightly higher rep ranges for hypertrophy, continuing to change up the program from workout to workout with these slight variations provides continued stimulus for muscle growth. The biggest difference for me is that I am lifting much heavier on strength days as I was stuck in a rut of higher rep schemes lately. I have been training with this program for about 5 weeks now and achieving steady strength gains.

Transformation Challenge update: 5 weeks in, 9 weeks to go...
Still training with the T.N.B. workout but considering mixing in some isolation work in a few weeks just to mix it up. Started calorie/carb cycling and posted some good stats for this week, gotta keep the momentum going. Scale weight only down a pound since the start of the challenge- perfect lesson on the importance of monitoring body composition not body weight. BF% down 1 1/4 %, gained a pound of LBM, those are the numbers I keep a closer eye on, they tell the true tale of success in body transformation...unless you're going for skinny fat  :). I'm working on fit, lean and sculpted!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The difference between then and now

Needed to talk myself into sharing the before pictures with the blogosphere but after finding them in a old computer file and seeing where I am now I found the comparison spoke loudly of so many things I have learned and hope by sharing these I can motivate someone and give them push in a positive direction.
These pictures were taken approximately 4 months apart. These photos speak mountains about several key points I have learned in my own transformation and I post them in hopes of inspiring you to commit to make positive changes each day and see where you can be in 4 months. Take photos or otherwise document where you are today and  look back and congratulate yourself for sticking with it, proud of what you accomplished and find yourself in a better and healthier place. Then set new goals an keep the momentum going!

I have learned a tremendous amount nutrition, training and more importantly myself  throughout this journey, thought I would share a few useful and hopefully inspiring tidbits.

The Comfort Zone
My best advice....reach outside of your comfort zone. Go to the big boys area of the gym. Push yourself physically and mentally. Try new foods, I found my desire for continued physique improvements overrode my stubbornness regarding eating/trying certain foods and now some of those same foods are staples in my diet.  As far as training goes, I am lifting heavier than I have ever lifted and continue to get stronger. I have set life goals that include paths I would never have imagined myself traveling and am invigorated as I work towards achieving theses goals! Consider this, you don't know how strong you are until you push beyond what you are already capable of, both in the gym and in how you tackle life!

Body composition
Amazingly the scale/body weight difference between these photos is only about 5 pounds! I look at the before photos and see what I once thought was fit and find that I appear 'chubby.' The hard work in the gym has added lean tissue to my frame as I burned off the fat. So much more pleased with my fit figure now but can see looking back in another year with a more critical eye as I continue to move forward with new goals for my transformation.  Amazing how prospective changes as you continue to make improvements, feeding off your own accomplishments for another boost of motivation.

Commitment and hard work
What you see is nothing more than pure hard work and dedication to a goal. There were no crash diets or magic fancy, "guaranteed" results exercise DVD or ab belt but commitment to a weight training program and a carefully designed nutrition plan including whole foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, egg whites, oatmeal and chicken/turkey breast. The key is sticking to the plan and making it a new lifestyle, a healthier lifestyle. This applies in all areas of life, not just training and nutrition. Commitment is hard, change is hard but the rewards...

The power of setting goals, creating a plan and staying accountable
How often have you said you were going to do something and maybe even started doing it and then looked back in 6 months and found yourself no closer to completing your goal, having fallen off the wagon....You have to want it and your have to set specific goals and create a plan to get yourself headed in the right direction. THEN....frequent check-ins to be sure you continue to move forward, hold yourself accountable! Stop starting tomorrow, use tomorrow to reassess today and determine how to further improve yourself and  make continued progress.
 I continue to keep longer term life goals in the forefront of my mind, keeps me focused and I make better decisions every day that get me closer to those goals. Continually setting and achieving shorter term goals along the way will keep you inspired and insure continued forward progress.

Mental Muscle and gaining confidence
So much of the struggle, bottom line, is mental. We all can list a million excuses why we can't/don't do something. Change your attitude, your outlook and approach. My outlook has become to look at how I can do something, seeing obstacles as challenges, not allowing challenges to become excuses. Time, for example, is a huge factor in everyone's life. People are always amazed when they hear I am a Mom of 2, work full time and still manage to get to the gym 4-5 times a week. How do  I do it? Mental muscle, I make the time, change my priorities and attitude and make it happen. Are there sacrifices? In a way but I consider them a change in priority, all about perspective, I suppose.
In order to improve yourself you have to take a hard look at where you are and have the desire to make a change and move forward from where you are. You'll look back on the experience having gained greater confidence, not only a result of an improved physique but a sense of accomplishment and proving to yourself that you could do it.

I am thrilled with progress I have made so far yet find great pleasure in continuing to set higher and more challenging goals for myself. I continue to pursue challenges and set goals for myself that I never would have even considered a year ago. I see a whole different person in those photos, the latter more fit, more confident, more driven and stronger, physically and mentally.

Make yourself one promise, give it four months.....fully commit and give it all you've something positive each day so when you look back to today you will find you have become a stronger person, physically and mentally, for yourself and for others. You'll be amazed.
Follow, subscribe and 'like' on Facebook, I'll provide information, motivation and inspiration, Post your goals...there's some accountability....So, what are you waiting for? What goals are you going to set? What goals have you already achieved? Challenge yourself to be a even better you! Challenge others by sharing this and spreading the word. I'm sure you'll find inspiring others very inspiring!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2 weeks down, 12 weeks to go!

2 weeks into the Summer Transformation Challenge, "The Big Burn."
Progress stats so far...down 2 pounds, lost 1/2% BF. Frustrated with the slow start compared to the much more significant drop in the initial weeks of my first challenge. The difference this time is I never really stopped 'challenging,' but became more 'relaxed with nutrition and training since the end of the lst challenge, therefore really only stepping up the intensity vs being a complete newbie to the plan.  Slow progress forces honest and critical inspection of the current compliance to the plan as well as consideration of changing the plan. The verdict: tighten up a little, as compliance overall has been quite good (ok, so I had a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream (it was light)). Have to live a little but if I really want it......But I think the nutrition plan warrants another look. I have been lifting heavier at the gym and increasing weights each workout finding a good working weight with the new program. Possibly need to consider adding in some food cycling to 'feed the muscle' a little more since I have been focusing on tightening up the compliance to maintain a deficit in an attempt to 'burn the fat' I gained with the muscle gains over the last few months.  Hopefully a few changes to the plan will boost the progress along...
Time to reassess and adjust. Heading into week 3 with a new mission.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hold your goals close to get closer to them

My Gym Gem
The honest truth? Making changes is hard, sticking with them even more challenging. So much of making new habits and continued forward progress towards your goals is seeded in your mind,  you have to live your goals and make decisions all day that may affect the path to your achieving that goal. The trick? Honestly, achieving goals depends on just plain hard work and dedication. The key is to set your mind to see daily challenges differently and conquer the little obstacles every day to continue forward progress. Some days are tougher than others whether you are distracted, frustrated or just too busy, but don't let those days set you off track. Carry your passions with you giving you that little reminder of the goals you have set for yourself to keep you on track. It really can be anything and only you have to understand it.... A trinket in your pocket, a charm on your bracelet, notes in various places you will see often throughout your day. The key to achieving long term goals is to stay on path and take little steps towards them every day. Hold your goals close to you and each day you will step closer to achieving them.
I wear a 45# plate around my neck to remind me of my fitness goals :). How will you keep your goals close? Are you getting closer to them?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Summer 98 Day Summer Transformation Challenge: "The Big Burn"

Day 1
Here we go! Day 1 of the 98 Day Summer Transformation Challenge. Meal plans are completed, goals are set, before photos and stats submitted! Accountability at it's best! Looking forward to hanging out with like minded people, incredible source of motivation and accountability. I certainly have the inner drive but everybody needs a little outside motivation sometimes to kick it up a notch and certainly makes it a hell of a lot more interesting! Hubby has officially joined the Challenge with me, hoping for a little friendly competition to stoke the fire a little more! Here's to a summer of scupltin'!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Transformation Time Again!

The Countdown is on! The "Big Burn" starts May 19, 2011!
The first transformation challenge I entered was a great experience providing an extra boost of motivation and I got great results. Continued to push and make great progress after completing the challenge but find the next challenge comes a the perfect time to provide a boost to a slightly staggering motivation. I have allowed stress to get to me the last few weeks and find myself giving into emotional and mindless eating habits!  Gotta get control and propel forward again!
This transformation challenge is 98 days, taking me through to the end of the summer and the big difference this time... I have a plan for AFTER the completion of the Challenge.  Following the last one, despite continuing on the same "routine" I slowly lost focus as I had not set enough specific longer term goals to keep me motivated and pushing with the drive I had during the Challenge. Do I need someone to offer me a trip to Maui as a motivation...not really, it's more about the personal life goals and having a plan and a direction. Though a free trip to the beach would certainly be welcomed.
I am entering this Challenge more as a starting point. Remember the grand prize in these body transformation challenges is about making a lifestyle change not winning a contest, the real prize is a stronger self, physically, mentally/emotionally. The most valuable part of this journey is that I have learned a tremendous amount about a tremendous amount of things in the last 6 months, most importantly I have learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I am looking forward to challenging my physical and mental self again!
Diving right in to the pre challenge preparations, gotta live it. Working on meal plans, training programs, getting into the Challenge mindset and regaining control over stress and mindless eating. My official start date will be May 22nd, posting before pictures, stats and goals. Completing my 98 day transformation on August 27th. August 28th.....advance to next phase and continue moving goals in place, goals to strive for AFTER the Challenge as Day 1 of 98 is only the beginning of a new path for me.... BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Food for thought, thought for food

Success in achieving my fitness goals lies in sticking with the nutrition plan, the regular workouts are ingrained in my schedule and I thoroughly enjoy them and give them my all! The nutrition however is a much bigger challenge for me. My tastes are limited and I am working hard to find ways to enjoy foods that I know will benefit me in my quest. An even bigger challenge, and I am certainly not alone in this one...emotional and mindless eating! How frustrating it can be to stick with the nutrition plan and then be plagued my a mindless eating binge....Conquering this challenge requires establishing a new relationship with food and finding a new means of dealing with stress, boredom or whatever else may be your trigger to reach into the cabinet about doing 20 push ups the next time you reach for an unplanned snack?
Next time you reach for something to eat, think about why you are eating....are you hungry, bored, stressed? Then think again....will eating it  help me reach my goals or make me more stressed because I am one more day away from living the healthier lifestyle I am striving to achieve?
How do you decide what it is you want to eat? Do you choose food because you body needs the fuel and the building blocks or you have you choosen foods that taste good or make you feel good least for the moment. If you choose a food because you enjoy its flavor do you eat it slowly enough and with enough awareness to actually enjoy its flavor or do you toss a handful in your mouth and simply add to your caloric surplus for the day? What about the foods that make you feel good? Does that feeling last longer than the time that flavor is in your mouth only to feel worse later? Ask 2 questions: is it worth it now and will I still think it was worth it later.
So much about changing your eating patterns is mental and emotional, true success in sticking with a healthy eating plan starts with a change in attitude and a better relationship with food. I'm not saying not to enjoy your food but at least take a moment and consider what you eat, and why, before you eat it....Take the time to enjoy the flavors in the foods that you choose and learn to enjoy some healthier choices (hey, if I can learn to enjoy oatmeal and egg whites...). And most importantly find a healthier outlet for stress, make life exciting to avoid eating out of boredom and always keep your eating mindful.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless mobile phone

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Signs of Spring

Spring has finally arrived and none too soon! Desperately in need of some sun and fresh air!
Mornings are still cool so I head to the gym for my regularly scheduled workout to find the latest influx of new members clogging up the gym. Panic mode seems to hav set in with bringing out the short sleeve shirts, knowing that tanktops will follow and then bikini season! Ok, folks whatever your motivation to get excercising, great to see you here and making a positive change in life but maybe this time we can make it stick and quit with the seasonal fitness plan. Do you realy enjoy the battle every year? With a little dedication, I'm sure you could stick with it even when the sweaters come back out.  
Well, I am proud to say no panic here as I have been working hard all winter, so I will be shopping for smaller clothes not feeling the sqeeze of a tight waistband of my shorts...
But speaking of shorts....oh..the pasty white of spring can be blinding, I'm right with you there.....And spring seems to come just at the right time for a wardrobe change for the kids..seem to be seeing a bit more of their ankles under the hem of their pants these days, hate to spend the money on long pants now only to become capris again by fall...boys can't seem to carry off this look...Time to hem the pants into shorts and welcome spring!
Get outside, take a walk, enjoy the blooming flowers, the smell of BBQ and and the birds chirping...
BTW, the start of the Summer Transformation Challenge just around the corner....let's see what I can do in 98 days....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Proof is in the pictures...

Proof is in the pictures! Hard work and dedication in the gym and a clean eating plan pays off. Please check out the pictures and vote! I hope these pictures motivate you to continue to make healthy choices and lead a fit lifestyle. Please support me so I can take advantage of this opportunity to spread the word and motivate and inspire others! Thanks!
Face of Fitness: "Vote for your favorite everyday for the Face of FITNESS! "

View full album here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Workout Fuel and Re-Fuel

In my continued quest to improve my physique I have really been focusing on learning more about nutrition, the most success in my transformation showed me first hand that nutrition is critical to uncovering the muscle definition that I have worked so hard for at the gym. I historically have not had the most adventurous or variable palate but am challenging myself to try new things as the drive to achieve a sculpted physique has overridden my stubbornness to try new foods ( to a degree anyway...).
I have been focusing on pre and post workout nutrition following the principles of Tom Venuto's Holy Grail.
I have created a few new recipes for the meal plan, my new favorite pre/post workout meals:

Protein scramble
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 scoop whey protein powder
Whisk/mix all ingredients together and scramble 'em up! Filled with complete and easily accessible protein with complex carbs...perfect combination!

Chocolate Berry Protein Smoothie
3/4 cup skim milk
1 scoop Chocolate Mint Whey Protein
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
Blend! Try a different combination of berries but this is my favorite. Blend in some ice to thicken shake or if you need it to stay "smoothie" while you work out. Portable and provides protein and carbs for the perfect recovery shake.

Working on more recipes and menu plans. Give these a try and let me know what you think....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Body Weight Training for Moms

Everywhere you look these days, bodyweight training! I've got a new twist on the program!
As Moms (and Dads) we always have some extra body weight laying around...check near the fridge when the doors are open, on the couch Saturday mornings or follow the mud tracks from the front door in the spring....
The benefits of using these "dumbbells" are plenty...
  • you already are paying for them (LONG term installment plan)
  • they provide progressive resistance (as long as you keep feeding them)
  • they incorporate dynamic stabilization into every exercise
  • they provide live entertainment throughout the workout
Bench Press

Push ups

Crunches and Smiles

   Go chase down your dumbbells and enjoy a body weight workout!    

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eating Chicken Breast Again!

I know what everybody hears about a "bodybuilder's" diet, protein, protein, protein, whey protein and lots of chicken breast. Sound like the potential for a boring menu after awhile. With a little creativity you can vary the menu quite a bit.
Some of my faves:

Chicken tacos
Cut boneless, skinless chicken breast into thin strips, season with your favorite taco seasoning and saute with olive oil until lightly browned. Add tomato sauce, hot sauce and BBQ sauce. Stir to coat all chicken evenly. Simmer on low heat adding water to thin sauce if necessary.
While chicken simmers, prepare toppings: shred lettuce or better yet, spinach, dice tomatoes, peppers, onions etc. as you desire. All veggies: nutrient dense and low calorie. Shred cheeses of your choice but use sparingly as too much cheese quickly adds to calories and fat content of your taco.  Try topping it off with a little Greek yogurt.
Create you masterpiece and enjoy! Tacos area an easy and healthy way to get the family involved in their own healthy meals and accommodate varying taste preferences. Put out all the toppings, hand everybody a shell and let them build their own!
Taco traps: Be careful of sabotaging the healthy taco meal. Consider using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or if you must use sour cream keep it to a small 'dolup.' Cheese should also be used sparsely and go with a  low-fat option where you can.

Chicken and Quinoa
Cook quinoa per package instructions. (Add a little chicken base to the boiling water before adding quinoa for a little extra flavor.)
Scoop a serving of cooked quinoa into a bowl. Toss in baked skinless chicken breast cut into strips or small pieces that has been seasoned to your palate. Grab a fork and enjoy.
This is a great meal to prepare ahead. Make a little extra you've got lunch options for the week, put a scoop of cooked quinoa in a bowl with a lid and add chicken or vegetables.
Quinoa is considered a "superfood," providing all 9 essential amino acids....great for building muscles! Also a great source of phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber.

Hot Chicken Wing Pizza (my favorite!)
Bake skinless chicken breasts, slice into strips and coat strips in chicken wing sauce.
Choose a "crust." Try a whole wheat pita or wrap. Or make homemade whole wheat crust.
Prepare crust, top with tomato sauce and hot sauce mixed for some extra kick (remember the added metabolism boost from the capsacin!)
Next layer...shredded spinach, then shredded cheese (again consider low-fat and watch quantity as this can be a trap). Consider adding a small amount of feta or cottage cheese for a little texture.
Finally top generously with the baked chicken breast strips.
Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is melted and crust lightly browned. Let cool and enjoy!
Pizza traps: the biggest nutrition trap in pizza creating is the cheese. Consider low-fat/part-skim and keep pie coverage sparse as cheese quickly ups the calorie and fat content of the meal.

Headed off to bake me a pizza right now! Which meal are you going to try?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Protein and Resistance Training

Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard, Double Rich Chocolate, 5 PoundSo you are working hard at the gym by now, I presume....Now about the fuel and building materials you are providing your body after your workout?  Found a good article reviewing dietary protein intake in relation to resistance training.  I personally provide my body with a whey protein shake 'chaser' after a workout session. Tons of stuff out there about nutrient timing and muscle building...if your interested in more of the science stuff check out this article.....
Remember your nutrition plan and your resistance program are both critical to your success in sculpting your new self!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Reality Check (-In)

Time to be honest...we are well past the New Year's Resolution make it or break point. Probably approaching time for the need for "tank top arms" and the ever popular drive to "bikini season." I personally stick with a less seasonal approach to being fit and healthy! Where do you stand? Do remember the goals you set for yourself?  How are you progressing towards your goals? Are you any closer to meeting them or have you achieved them and it's time to set new goals?

Take assessment of your plan and your progress: (time to be honest with yourself)

  • Did you set S.M.A.R.T. goals?
  • Do you remember your goals/did you write them down to make yourself accountable?
  • Which of your goals have you achieved? Have you set new goals?
  • And most importantly~how badly do you want to reach these goals and have you put in your best effort to move towards achieving them?
  • Did you keep a food journal to keep yourself accountable? Are you making healthier food choices?
  • Have you reassessed portion sizes? Are you suffering from a bit of 'portion distortion?'
  • How are your energy levels?
  • Have you gained/maintained control over stress/emotional eating? Hard to do but face it using food to deal with stress only adds to the stress by contributing to you not meeting your health goals.
Workouts/exercise/activity level:
  • Do you have a gym membership/home gym or exercise area?
  • Do you actually go to the gym?  :)
  • Do you push yourself during your workout? They should be hard and make you feel like you did something. (you need to walk faster on the Treadmill than you walked getting over to it, and yes, the weight should feel heavy when you lift it!)
  • Is it time to set up a new program for the gym to shock those muscles and break through a plateau?

OK, full disclosure, I am writing this post because I felt I needed to take inventory....kinda felt like I was losing focus and allowing little leaks and falling into old habits. I am human, faced by the same challenges and temptations as everyone else. But I have worked too hard to make the improvements I have so far and will not let myself fall off track!

So, how did you do?
Are your headed in the right direction?
How bad do you really want it? Are you willing to buckle down, deal with the rough spots and give things a little more attention?
Did you figure out a few items you can work on to further your success in getting closer to your goals? Tackle the issues with a little renewed motivation! Consider a less seasonal approach to healthy and fit and make the lifestyle change.

Have you reached your goals? Congratulations! Celebrate a little with a happy dance, set some new goals and keep on going!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sometimes you just need a cookie....

OK, so we're all human and sometimes you just need a cookie. Don't want to fall off the wagon and get started on the sugar kick again, or just erase the calorie deficit for the day (or week since it is awfully hard to have only one cookie once you get started.).
So....I cleaned up the cookie! Calories still count so indulge in moderation but without guilt as this recipe also provides some health benefits (ok, so some rationalizing going on...).

Dark Chocolate/Oatmeal/Peanut Butter Cookie
1/3 cup Olivio light
1/2 cup Agave nectar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Roll dough into ~ 1 inch balls and flatten on baking sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
Makes about 30 cookies.

The breakdown (per cookie)
Calories: 77.5
Protein: 2 g
Carbs: 9.8 g
Fat: 3.5 g
Sugar: 4.6 g

And here's the health benefits of my cookies:  :)
Natural source of flavanol antioxidants from the 100% cocoa
Protein and healthy fats from the natural peanut butter
More healthy fats from the Olivio as it is made from olive oil
and everybody talks about the benefits of eating oats...

Give them a try as a healthier treat option but remember a cookie is still a cookie...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Healthy Favorite: Homemade Granola Bar

Looking for a new "bar" for a to-go snack? How about homemade granola bars? I treated my husband to a great cookbook, (though I think I have tried more recipes than he has...) Gourmet Nutrition by John Berardi from Precision Nutrition. Just baked a batch of the granola bars! They are great to cut up and put in snack bags to freeze for a good healthy snack to-go. I also enjoy the peanut butter crunch bars...also great to freeze for grab and go healthy, protein filled snack option.
Gourmet Nutrition: The Cookbook for the Fit Food LoverThe book can be used simply as a cookbook but also describes how to create a meal plan from its recipes including labeling each as anytime meals or post workout meals as well as giving good pairing options, referencing other recipes to create a more complete meal. Meal templates are also included to get you started.
Precision Nutrition's website has a great blog worth checking out for those really interested in the science of nutrition and health. Their website also offers free online/email courses that are full of great information, downloadable tools and the occasional free recipes from their cookbooks!

A clean and healthy nutrition plan is essential to living a fit and healthy lifestyle and achieving your transformation goals. Experiment with new recipes and food to find healthier substitutes you enjoy, you need to make preparing and eating healthy meals enjoyable!
Your long term success depends upon you recreating your attitude about eating to make a lifestyle change and stop "dieting!" Good luck and enjoy!

Gourmet Nutrition: The Cookbook for the Fit Food Lover

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cardio boost

We all can probably agree, when stuck inside doing cardio for the winter months it can get a little boring. Need to switch up the mode frequently for the interests of continued progress and not going insane and starting to avoid cardio just for the pure boredom factor.
I have found the solution to my getting a killer cardio workout without having to force it mentally the whole time. Using a variety of  Motiontraxx episodes, I have multiple options for upbeat music mixes guaranteed to kick your cardio up a notch without you even realizing what happened. Motiontraxx has been releasing some new mixes in recent weeks that I have found top all the other mixes I have tried. Some are available on iTunes and some are exclusive mixes with new sponsors. Motiontraxx can be found on iTunes, or at their own website, and try 'liking' it on Facebook for updates on new episodes.
Apple iPod nano 8 GB Graphite (6th Generation) NEWEST MODELGot another killer cardio workout this morning using one of their new mixes "Precision Beats" sponsored by Polar Heart Rate Monitors, an interval mix for some HIIT without having to watch a timer as the music beats change and cue you to switch up the pace at the intervals. Believe me, just let the beat of the music guide you and you'll get a killer workout.  My other fave is the Push It Traxx that was sponsored by Powerbar, steady state cardio but easy to get lost in the beat and power through a great cardio workout!
Be sure to check out Motiontraxx and break out of your cardio rut!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Campaign to save the skinny fat...

Quotes heard in an Upstate NY gym: "I forced myself to do an hour and a half of cardio yesterday." "I'm dragging on this 1200 calorie diet." Please let me help you! These methods will only frustrate you, make you cranky and result in you being skinny fat...if you can stick with it long enough....regardless, a recipe for disaster. True if you can keep moving on 1200 calories and do more cardio the scale may drop but at what cost? Most likely loss of lean body mass (muscle), this is exactly what you want to preserve when trying to lose weight. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, burning calories even while you are at rest. Why would you want to sacrifice this just to see a lower number on the scale? Also consider how much more aesthetically pleasing sculpted muscles are after losing the insulating layers of fat disguising them....can't firm up fat. By adding resistance training to you program you firm and sculpt more of the very tissue that will raise your metabolism to only further contribute to your weight (fat) loss success.
So, let's try another approach...lets try to focus on eating more nutrient dense foods and eat them more often to keep the metabolism humming and provide your body with the building blocks for muscle growth as you begin a resistance training program. Sounds like a win-win situation to me....a more interesting workout program including options from an endless list of possible strength training exercises, eating more all while building figure sculpting muscles and moving towards a healthier,  leaner and more efficient fat burning machine!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless mobile phone

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Breaking plateaus

Oh, the dreaded plateau....they can be mental or physical plateaus and if you ask me it's difficult to say which are more frustrating, but if you can break through one generally a breakthrough in the other follows.
The physical plateaus in some ways are easier to tackle as the mental ones come will a lot of baggage that can be difficult to shake loose. But I find in tackling the physical plateau I also benefit from improved stress relief, maybe its from lifting heavy things at the gym (grunt) or a good sweaty cardio session but I also find myself feeling better about things in general after spending some time reassessing and reorganizing a workout and nutrition plan.

Let me help out with a few ideas to help you mix up your training program to get you started:
  1. New exercise: Pick a new exercise for each body part, add a new one or swap out an old one
  2. Vary your equipment/resistance : options include dumbbells, barbells, bodyweight, resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, machines... no excuse to get bored here with so many options
  3. Change the order of the exercises : simple enough and self explanatory, hit a different focus area at the beginning of the workout each week so you aren't performing the same exercises when fatigued every workout
  4. Change your splits : try a new workout plan, upper/lower splits, push/pull splits or full body workouts.
  5. Mix up your reps/sets: Try a new scheme, pyramids (ascending weight/descending reps then reverse) or drop sets (descending weights), supersets, heavy weight/low reps, lighter (not too light :) ) weights/high reps....
  6. Change your tempo : Try slowing down your reps to increase the amount of time the muscle is under tension. New challenge!
  7. Change the scenery : home or gym (trial free pass at a new gym, tag along with a friend on a guest pass) ...(I personally am looking forward to spring to take the workouts outside!)
  8. Change the company : grab a a friend/training partner (new recruit :) to the fit lifestyle?) or go with your iPod!
The key is to change your parameters somehow to stimulate further muscle (and mental) growth. As you can see....really no excuse (except for laziness :) ) to allow a program to rest on a plateau. Spend a few minutes to mix up the plan, try any or all of the above suggestions and let me know how you do....I for one always feel more motivated after switching up the program.

Treat yourself to a new toy for a little motivation :)
GoFit 10-Pound Yellow Kettlebell with Vinyl Coating, Iron Core Training DVD and Exercise Booklet
GoFit GF-MB8 8lb Medicine Ball with DVD Training Session by Mark Verstegen
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells
FitDeck Bodyweight
TRX Suspension Training Pro Pack

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Ultimate Motivator

Let's face it we all need a boost in motivation to push ahead sometimes and stick with the plan. The ultimate in motivation is progress! Look back to yesterday, last week....did you make better food choices? Did you stick with your workout plan? Give yourself a pat on the back, set goals for today and attack your plan with a renewed motivation to achieve those goals.
Progress can be measured in so many you find you need to tighten your belt another notch? Better yet are you in need of a shopping trip for a smaller size? And don't forget progress regarding your attitude, have you have a more positive spin on the obstacles that have gotten in your way? Do you have a healthier relationship with food? Do you still see exercise and healthy eating as another chore on your to-do list or have these become part of your identity? Living a healthy lifestyle needs to be part of you, not something you do.
While the changes in attitude are harder to objectify, let's take a look at some objective means of seeing physical progress towards your goal of living  a healthy lifestyle. A valuable tool is using your eyes...looking in the mirror each day or even better take pictures. The day to day changes are hard to see but compared side by side with a photo from last month? What an incredible boost of motivation for continued compliance with the plan. I never really realized the benefit of taking photos (seemed silly as you are also probably thinking right now) but I am a firm believer of their benefit after surprising myself with the progress I made over the Challenge when comparing my before and after photos. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop These changes the result after only 49 days!
SLIM GUIDE SKIN FOLD CALIPER REDBe wary of watching the scale to judge your progress. You may find it very frustrating to base progress solely on scale weight loss, particularly if you have included a weight training component to your program  and you should as strength training  is important in achieving a healthy lifestyle. Scale weight may not change very quickly, particularly if you are new to resistance training as you are adding lean muscle mass to your frame, this can  increase scale weight! This can lead to frustration, seemingly not seeing progress because the scale is not going down. Enter body composition analysis, sounds expensive and complicated, it can be, but it doesnt' have to be. Inexpensive body fat calipers can be purchased online, allowing self testing at home. Their accuracy may not be astounding but certainly sufficient to monitor progress when used consistently. During the Challenge my scale weight decreases plateaued but body fat testing revealed consistent progress! And the proof is in the pictures!
So, where do you stand? Are you making progress? With a critical eye, take a honest look at yourself, how far you have come, are you moving closer to achieving your goals?  Make new goals and adjust your plan! Look back and find motivation in your progress!

Try these home assessment tools: