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 🙂

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.  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.

 

 

 

Advertisements

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 🙂

 

 

 

The Whole Truth on Whole Grain

Image result for enriched grains

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 the  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. 

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.  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 😀 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 🙂

  • 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 🙂
  • 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!

Before & After Product Details

Hi beauties!

Below is a before & after with a complete list of all the products I used to create this look & my review for them 🙂

image

  1. In the “before” picture, all I have on my face is Simple’s Replenishing Moisturizer. This leaves my skin hydrated without leaving it feeling too oily, which is perfect since I get very oily throughout the day anyway.
  2. Brows- Kimiko pencil in “Coffee.” It’s pretty similar to Anastasia’s, no major differences in my opinion.
  3. Eyes- One of my Anastasia palettes, and the colors are just as pigmented as they look. Love it. The liner is NYX in “Milk.” I prefer white liner since the pink-ish color to my waterline is more apparent after a full face of foundation, so the white just covers that and opens my eye up.
  4. Foundation- Face Stockholm Liquid Mineral in “Synsk. I love this foundation. It helps control my oily t-zone but doesn’t leave my skin super matte. It has build-able coverage, but a little definitely goes a long way. No cake face here 😀
  5. Highlighters
    1. Mac Prep+Prime  in “Radiant Rose.” It does exactly what the name says; gives my skin radiance exactly where I want. I use it after my foundation to highlight under my eye and t-zone, but it can be used before as well.
    2. Mac “Soft and Gentle.” My go to shimmer highlighter.
  6. Contour-Anastasia Contour Kit in “Light to Medium.” There’s really only one cooler toned shade (sort of) which is preferred for sculpting the face butttt, i make the other shades work just because they’re there. The powders are really easy to blend but I never use the highlighters. They don’t give my skin the glow that I prefer & I just feel that there are way better highlighters out there.
  7. Lips- Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Lipstick in “Feelin’ Myself.” I’ve been loving lippies that go on as a cream and finish matte. These are SUPER pigmented, and very long wearing. I wore this through eating lunch, drinking water & coffee, without having to touch it up for 5 hours. Whoa. The smell is a little bit of a turn off & it does get a little clumpy in the creases of the lips after a while.

 

Hope you guys found this helpful! Let me know you’re feelings on these products, or products similar 🙂 xo

 

Resting Beach Face

Hellooo beauties!

It’s July, so pretty much the only place I want to be is the beach. Who’s with me?! But that means no more trips to Sephora for us makeup junkies because it’s ridiculous to wear makeup to the beach right?

Wrong!

Now, I’m all about looking natural when going to the beach, but let’s be real, natural doesn’t exactly mean no makeup. So how do we look fresh, glowy, hydrated and awake without looking like we’re actually wearing any?

  • First and foremost, get some SPF on that pretty face. No one wants sun damage later on in life, so protect that skin! Spritz your face with sunscreen first or use a moisturizer with SPF. One of my favorite products for that is COOLA. They have moisturizers, setting sprays, and regular sunscreen sprays. After you finish your makeup, set it with a spray that has SPF as well for extra protection.image
  • Instead of putting foundation all over your face, try just using concealer only in the areas that you really need it. You’re going to be sweating anyway, so the less products, the better.
  • Personally, I like to keep the least amount of powder on my face at the beach. I want to look as fresh & dewy as possible, so a cream blush gives me that effect. Cream blushes have a way of making your skin look naturally, beautifully flushed, without the look of product sitting on the skin. Julie Hewett has GREAT cream blushes that you can use on your lips as well. image.jpeg
  • I always wear something on my lips, even at the beach. Tinted lip balm with SPF is my go to. Keep your lips hydrated & sun protected  with a pop of color. So many brands have tinted lippies with SPF. From Nivea to Neutrogena to Laura Mercier.
  • If there was only one piece of makeup that I could use the rest of my life, it would be mascara. It opens up the eye & in my opinion, it completely changes the face. For the beach, opt for a waterproof version so you avoid looking like a raccoon 🙂 My current favorite? Loreal Voluminous.

image.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are some of your favorite products for the beach?!

 

Chicago Fit Expo

image

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 😀

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. Unreal.

image.jpeg

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? 😀

 

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 🙂

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.

How to Get Over the Gym Slump

Hey guys :)!

I wanted to show you some ways on how to keep your workouts exciting if you ever feel like you’re stuck or lacking motivation. This happens to me from time to time (and is currently going on right now). I get bored with my workouts, get bored with the gym & sometimes even go as far as saying I get bored with lifting. GASP.

If any of you ever feel this way, know that you’re not alone! We get tired of doing anything over and over again, so the same thing applies to exercise. Simply changing up my workouts helps get me back on track.

Below is a video of a workout that my boyfriend and I did recently to help me switch things up a bit.

 

Exercises:

  1. The first exercise you see me doing is a pushup with a 25 pound plate on my back. This was my first time attempting this, so realizing that I was actually able to push myself back up with the added weight gave me instant excitement & gratification. Those two emotions alone already made my workout satisfying. There are a bunch of different ways to do a pushup. Experiment by adding weight, changing hand positions or even putting your hands on a medicine ball to push up on.
  2. The second exercise my boyfriend is doing is using the ropes in a jumping jack motion. Let me tell you, these ropes are a GREAT addition to your workouts. Not only is he getting some cardio in, but he’s working his arms and shoulders at the same time.
  3. The third exercise I’m performing is a pushup into a bent over row then lastly into a deadlift. Arms, shoulders, core, back, chest, glutes and quads are all being worked here. Who doesn’t love an exercise that gets so many parts working at once?!
  4. The fourth exercise shows how to use the ropes to really work your obliques. Again, still working arms and shoulders but to keep himself balanced when switching from side to side, he needs to activate his core.

 

Let me know if you guys have tried some of these exercises or if you’re going to do them for the first time! Xo