Calling All Ladies!

Hey fit beauties!

I’ve been MIA pretty much since the summer while working on my Personal Trainer certification. The course was more intense than I had imagined, so I felt like if I wasn’t studying then I was wasting precious time. But I passed (yay!) and now I’m working on my Health Coach certification, which is somewhat easier. Sooooo I’ve found myself with extra time again & here I am ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m dedicating this fitness post to my newest adventure in life, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve taken a step back from weight lifting somewhat, with just one day a week to maintain. For those of you who don’t know, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a form of self defense. While on the ground, it teaches you how to use technique paired with leverage to submit your opponent, no matter what size he or she may be. In my opinion, this is what makes this martial art so important for women to learn.

As a woman walking through New York City day in and day out, the amount of times I feel threatened is innumerable. I think I can speak for most women that, no matter where you live or work, we’re easy targets. We can be (not always) viewed as weak and vulnerable which is why it’s SO important for us to learn how to defend ourselves. If you’re thinking to yourself that you might want to hop on this bandwagon, I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy, but I will tell you that you should 100% try it as well as give you some truth and insight on my experiences so far to prepare you.

You know when you’re training for whatever sport or leisure physical activity that you do, and you feel like you want to die from discomfort? Imagine that burning sensation of your fatigued muscles. Imagine having to over come that pure exhaustian while trying to escape from vulnerable positions your partner is enforcing in order to choke you. This is the training that I do every day. ย 4-5 times a week, I’m put into the most uncomfortable positions by people twice my size. I get bruised, I get injured, I get frustrated. I’ve tried to force my strength on men twice as heavy as I am to quickly learn that it doesn’t work. I’ve gotten angry when a girl half my size submitted me. Day to day I feel like my chest is going to collapse from someone’s body weight bearing on it while at the same time I try to maintain air going in and out of my lungs. I’ve realized that as strong as I thought I was deadlifting 225 pounds in the weight room has really only built an ego that gets dropped as soon as I step foot on the mats.

By now, you’re probably wondering what the heck is wrong with me. You’re most likely thinking that life would be a lot easier and more comfortable if I stuck to lifting dumbbells. Well, why DO I decide to essentially torture myself every day? Because it’s a challenge. It’s something completely, 100% out of my comfort zone. It’s pushing me past what I thought were my physical limits. It’s teaching me patience. It’s teaching me how to take my defeats and turn them into lessons learned. It’s teaching me how to have respect for my training partner who just tried to pull my limbs apart. I’m discovering how to remain calm while in high stress situations. Most importantly, I’m learning how to defend myself.

Ladies, if I can do this, YOU can.

 

 

 

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Why You Should Avoid Gluten

With the rise of people following a gluten free lifestyle, you would think that all those following this new diet would get educated on why they are. But unfortunately, many times this isn’t the case. Going gluten free has become a fad, leaving people clueless on why they aren’t eating certain foods. For example, when I used to waitress, I would have tables opt for gluten free pasta, then they would go ahead and eat the bread I put out on the table. Because that makes sense….

So, let’s try and get a clear, basic understanding of what gluten is and why it’s terrible for your body.

Gluten sensitivity stems from the gut, with the most severe form being Celiac Disease. It’s commonly associated with wheat products, so let’s take a look at this specific breakdown.

What exactly is gluten?

  • A protein made up of Gliadin (a type of Prolamin) and Glutelin

What makes proteins that are part of the prolamin group bad?

  • Our digestive enzymes can’t break it down into individual amino acids
  • The lining of our gut, which has the job of keeping the bad guys out, is made permeable, allowing these bad proteins inside
  • The interaction between these proteins (that are now in a place where they shouldn’t be) and our immune cells, create inflammation

So you can eat all the bread, pasta and grains you want, as long as they’re gluten free, right? Wrong.

  • Grains, whether refined or whole, contain proteins other than gluten that have a similar makeup and could be just as problematic and cause inflammation
  • These days most of your favorite packaged foods are available without gluten, but read your nutrition labels and ingredients! Below is an example of how a product may be gluten free, but still not healthy for you. These brownies are loaded with sugar, fat and artificial ingredients

“Wouldn’t I feel if something in my body was inflamed?”

  • You do, you just have no idea it’s tied to inflammation. Allergies, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, fatigue…all can be traced back to inflammation somewhere in the body. Even your brain feels it. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder…tell tale signs of inflammation.

Am I ordering you to give up grains? Of course not! But if you can get more nutrients from vegetables and fruits and not create havoc in your body, why wouldn’t you? I eat the occasional slice of pizza and give in to my sweet tooth, but my diet is nowhere near based off of those things. Do some self experimentation and see how you feel ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

The Whole Truth on Whole Grain

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Who’s been told that instead of eating white bread, whole grain bread is the way to go? I know i have. Commercials, magazines & even fitness experts push whole grains on us if we’re trying to make a healthier choice. Why though? And if whole grains are so healthy for you, why are so many other people giving them up? Let’s break it down.

First, what the heck is a grain?

  • The seed of a plant in the grass family
  • Store most of their energy to grow as carbohydrate
  • Made up of 3 major parts (Endosperm, Bran & Germ)

There are 2 categories of grains:

  1. Refined grains (white bread, white flour, white rice)
    • When grains are refined, the bran and the germ are removed. The bran and the germ are where vitamins and minerals, including fiber, are located. Water is taken out and replaced with salt, sugar and fat.
    • Easily absorbed, so sugar is released quickly into the bloodstream (carbs get broken down into sugar)
  2. Whole grains (wheat, brown rice, barley, oats, millet)
    • Contain all parts of the seed (endosperm, bran & germ)
    • Contain fiber (because the bran hasn’t been removed)
      • Because of this fiber, the grain is broken down in the body at a slower rate and releases sugar slowly into the bloodstream

So, according to the information above, it looks as though the media and fitness professionals are right… right? Whole grains contain more nutrients and don’t spike your blood sugar quickly! Well, this is where it gets tricky.

Why are whole grains still not that great for you?

  • Whole grains contain a compound located in the bran, called phytate. These phytates like to take all theย  minerals (calcium, iron,zinc, magnesium) that the whole grains contain. How rude!
  • When the phytates take these minerals, a complex is created that our body can’t absorb. So basically, we’re not really getting all of that fiber and all those wonderful nutrients we claim to be from eating whole grains.ย 

So, where can you get fiber, vitamins, minerals and carbs? Vegetables & fruits. Image result for vegetables and fruit

P.S. This post mentions nothing of gluten, aka the silent killer, which is present in both types of grain. Stay tuned!

How To Start Squatting

Starting my fitness journey a few years back, I remember that learning how to squat was the most important thing to me. It’s all over social media. Fit chicks with the perfect butts, squatting heavy weight, making it look like the easiest thing in the world to do. Well, it wasn’t.

I was introduced to weight lifting when I was playing soccer in college.ย  I remember very clearly the feeling of struggling with just trying to hold the bar on my back, let alone squatting it. I couldn’t understand how a soccer player with massive legs couldn’t even squat 45 pounds (the weight of the bar). I had no idea, that first, I was lacking the shoulder mobility to hold the bar properly, which was causing my major discomfort. I had no knowledge of form either. All I knew was that my teammates were putting weight on the bar and there I was wanting to cry just from holding it. Clearly, life was rough.

Until I started actually becoming interested in weight lifting and doing my own research, I had no idea there were ways to work up to doing a back squat.

Below is a video on different exercises you can try if you’re just beginning to experiment with squatting, then worked up to a back squat. The most important thing is to start off slow & practice your form. Get your body familiar with the movement.

Tips for squat beginners:

  1. Start with your feet about hip width apart, slightly pointed outwards.
  2. Go down into your squat as if your about to sit in a chair.
  3. Make sure your knees are not coming over your toes.
  4. Chest up, with your head in a neutral position. Keep your chin tucked.
  5. Keep your spine in a neutral position, meaning don’t round your back or arch your spine.
  6. Make sure your heels are planted into the floor, pushing through them the entire time.
  7. Keep your knees from caving in. A trainer once told me to pretend as if I’m shredding a piece of paper in half with my feet.
  8. Keep your core tight & really drive up with your legs when coming back to the starting position.

Killer Arm Workout

I don’t know about you, but I get bored of doing the same exercises over and over, week after week. Our bodies do too. Lucky for me, I have a boyfriend who is a personal trainer and is always down to do the most ridiculous exercises to get a good pump ๐Ÿ˜€ Now my job is to share those exercises with you!

Lately I’ve really been trying to sweat as much as I can during my workouts to avoid hopping on the treadmill or stairmaster, which means for me, I can’t just stand there and curl a barbell. I’ll barely break a sweat that way. Circuit training has been my go to recently so that I’m constantly moving, keeping me sweating and from getting bored.

The video below is my not so basic recent arm workout ๐Ÿ™‚

  • The first couple of exercises shown with the heavy bag were completely knew to me. And whoa. Heavy bags=instant pump. In the first exercise, I’m carrying the bag in a way to work my arms, my grip & my core. Walking while squatted down low is pretty much destroying my glutes. I love exercises that work multiple muscles at once!
  • The second exercise shows Todd pulling the bag up to his shoulders, squatting down with it then slamming it to the floor. Arms, shoulders, core, glutes, quads, back…they’re all worked here. Pretty much every reason to try this.
  • The next exercise puts a little spin on your standard dumbbell curl. Squatting the entire time activated my glutes as well as my core in order to keep me balanced and in good form.
  • The third exercise with the bag is just a basic carry, but with your arms flexed the entire time, the bag will feel double the weight, I promise. This is where that instant pump came from that I was talking about ๐Ÿ™‚
  • The triangle pushups you see me doing are meant to focus on the triceps the most. These can be challenging for a beginner because your hands are somewhat awkwardly placed, being super close to together and facing inward. But a little practice goes a long way! There was once a time when I wasn’t able to do these.
  • The last exercise is another tricep killer. Keep your hands close together, press up & feel the burn!

You can exhaust your muscles & drench yourself in sweat in under 30 minutes. Give this workout a try & let me know how it goes!

Tips For Beginning Your Healthy Lifestyle

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Okay, so you’ve finally made the big decision of changing your life and this time you’re going to stick with it! Congrats!

You’ve realized that fad diets are a load of garbage and only lead to spiraling back down the wrong path.

You see now that diet pills aren’t magic and that getting in shape actually may take some effort.

I applaud you, because I’ve been there with you and know what lies ahead. I will tell you that every day takes strength, determination and will power, but I will also tell you that it’s 100% worth it.

I put together some helpful hints to get you on that right path. Remember, everyone is different, every body is different, so the right healthy lifestyle that someone else leads may not be the best for you.

1. Start small

  • Assess your lifestyle
    • Do you take the elevator up to your office? Try taking the stairs.
    • Do you reach for a sugary drink at lunch time instead of water?
  • Make it a goal to get to the gym/track/work out place of choice at least 3 days a week.
  • Instead of drastically changing your diet right away, try cutting something out that you know is the culprit for your unhealthy habits. Soda, fast food, excess sugar. Yeah, you can say bye to those.

2. Do your research

  • There is endless amounts of FREE information out there in the fitness world. Take advantage of it! One of my favorite sites for nutrition tips, exercise ideas, or advice from professionals is Bodybuilding.com.
  • Use social media as a way to get inspired. Find someone that you can relate to and soak up all their knowledge.

3. Experiment

  • Sometimes the first thing you try won’t work for you.
    • This especially ties in with diet. Although a certain food may be considered healthy, it may react a certain way with your body that doesn’t suit you.

4. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for you

  • If you see someone on social media raving about a certain exercise, food or supplement, then when you try it, you find it isn’t what you are looking for, don’t be discouraged! There’s something out there for you, sometimes it just takes trial and error.
    • I tried yoga & hated it, but for others it’s their main form of exercise.
    • I’ve also tried fasted cardio & now avoid that as much as I can, but others do it religiously

5. It takes time

  • Patience is key. You won’t see changes over night, so take progress pictures & write down mental notes. 1 month in you’ll be able to look back and be really amazed at what you’ve accomplished.

6. Don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you that you can’t

  • Much of this process is mental, so you can’t let others whisper negativity into your ear.
  • If someone tries to tell you that you can’t, all that means is he or she most likely tried, failed & gave up. Don’t let that be you! Giving up never gets anyone anywhere.
  • Do it for you and YOUR health.

There will be days where you don’t want to workout or times when you want to throw in the towel and stop eating all those vegetables. But you’re stuck with this body for the rest of your life, don’t you want to treat it well?

 

Chicago Fit Expo

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Hey guys!

So I wanted to talk a little bit about my experience this past weekend at the Chicago Fit Expo. I wasn’t sure how I would end up liking it, but it turned into a day that makes me want to travel to these expos all over the world. That’s doable, right?

Basically, the expo was a fitness playland. A meathead’s heaven.

I mean, only a certain kind of person gets excited when he/she receives a free bodybuilding.com shaker at the door. Woo!

I think what made me love the expo the most was just being in an environment with everyone that has the same interest. What was so amazing was that there were those that are just starting their fitness journey all the way up to established bodybuilders/black belts/instructors, you name it, and everyone in between.

There were tons of events, including seminars that bodybuilders put together, Jiu Jitsu, powerlifting and crossfit competitions, and companies selling their products and giving away samples. Then obviously there were the meet and greets, aka waiting on line for an hour for a minute spent with that person. Totally worth it though ๐Ÿ˜€

Btw, all those competitions were open to the public. As long as you registered, you were able to compete. How awesome!

Most exciting part? I got to meet some of the biggest names in the industry, along with the fitness coach that I look up to the most, Massy Arias.ย Unreal.

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Second most exciting part? I think I’ve got my motivation back! I’m ready to get back in the gym later today and try out some of the exercises I learned this weekend. There’s nothing like a good ol’ slap in the face from being surrounded by some of the most in shape people in the world to make you amped for your next workout.

Next stop, the Olympia! Maybe, possibly? ๐Ÿ˜€

 

Tips To Get Motivated To Workout After A Long Day

I think everyone can agree that going to the gym after a long day at work, day in and day out, can sometimes seem like more of a chore than the most exciting part of your day. So how the heck do gym-goers stay so darn motivated?! How does one possibly get hyped to step in the gym and exhaust the body that was just busy for 8+ hours dealing with annoying people and situations? Read below & see how I do it ๐Ÿ™‚

How I get my butt to the gym when all I want to do is curl up in bed and stay there forever:

  1. Drink coffee
    • I LOVE COFFEE. Dark, black coffee. I get excited every morning for my first cup of the day. Instead of a pre-workout supplement, I drink another cup. I’m still not really sure if coffee actually gives me tons of energy…but I like to think it does. Also, the idea of being able to drink a cup of coffee gets me more excited to then go to the gym afterwards. If you hate coffee, try some form of energizer to get you going. Maybe for you, that’s tea, or an energy drink or a pre-workout supp.
      • TIP: it helps to love what you’re drinking so your mind connects the pleasure of that with going to the gym.
  2. Try not to think about it, just go
    • On my train commute home every day I’m tempted to think non-stop about how tired I am & how amazing it would be if I could just skip the gym. The more I think and come up with reasons, well, excuses, the more likely it is that I won’t go. If I get home from my shift at say, 9:30 at night, I won’t even sit down. I’ll get changed into my gym outfit and just go go go. As simple as it is, sitting down will tempt me to cuddle with my puppies, start talking to my family and before I know it an hour has passed and I haven’t gone to the gym.
  3. Remember, afterwards you’ll be happy you did
    • Literally. Our brain produces a natural, happy chemical when we exercise. Grumpy when you get home from work? I bet you won’t be when you get home from the gym. Also, I have never, not once, regretted going to the gym. Easy as that.
  4. Remember, there’s no such thing as a bad workout
    • Even if you’re so tired and can’t fathom the idea of doing an intense workout, walk on the treadmill. Sit on a bike. It’s better than sitting on the couch in front of the T.V. with that pint of ice cream you told yourself you wouldn’t eat.
  5. Workout with someone
    • There have been countless times I’ve told my boyfriend that if I knew I wasn’t working out with him at the end of my work day, I probably wouldn’t have made it to the gym. A partner helps you just get there, mostly because you’ll disappoint him/her if you bail. Right? So get a buddy & motivate each other.
  6. Find workout clothes you love
    • You know when you buy a new pair of shoes, or pants or a shirt or any clothing item for that matter, you can’t wait to have an excuse to wear it? Well, think about that exciting feeling with workout clothes! And guess what! You’d have an excuse EVERY DAY to wear that new outfit. Personally, I feel better working out in a cute shirt and fun leggings rather than a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants. Your self esteem is lifted when you feel good in what you’re wearing. The same thing applies to the gym. Wear something you feel damn good in and I promise you’ll get excited to step in the gym.