Sunday, 19 May 2013

339 DAYS of my 365 days of transformation: Food is fuel. It is neither therapy, nor your enemy.

 The final 4 weeks

I am very excited about my last 4 weeks before competition.    I am meeting up with my competition coach tomorrow for my  4 week program.     These last 4 weeks will be the  hardest.   The pounds you lose during the final weeks can have a dramatic effect on  my overall appearance for competition day.     I can't believe it has been almost a full year that I have been on my fitness journey towards this competition.   

Workouts have been hard, tough but awesome.  Jared is really pushing me to the max.     
My diet is all meat and vegetables     Training has been tough, some way some how I find the energy to battle through the training.  Jared says I have HEART!    

I have been practicing my posing every chance I get.    In between sets at the gym, I pose, if I walk by a mirror, I pose, I go into the group EX room at the gym and practice posing!  PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

PUMPED!!!  to pick up my competition suit this  Friday.  I can't wait to see it all blinged up.  

What's next you say?  MORE of the same.  I will continue to workout with my trainer and I will continue to EAT CLEAN.   I have been pondering a few new goals.  Once I have reached this current goal, I'll decide which awesome new challenge I will go after.   


Just for the record....There is NO magic pill, there is no secret.   It is 80% proper nutrition and 20% exercise.  That is a FACT.  

You are what you eat.  If you keep good food in your fridge you will eat good food.   


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More and more these days, we’ve begun to hear the axiom that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise.  In fact, more trainers and experts have begun to talk about it online are starting to recommend this strategy for weight loss and weight maintenance. For those of us that have spent most of our adult lives as firm believers that exercise is the true key to weight loss or that more exercise can make up for an non-optimal diet, it can take some time before we come around to the idea that more exercise is NOT better, and in fact, nutrition is the key.
 It’s time for us to start paying attention to this 80% figure.  Most of us are really striving for lifelong weight maintenance, and for those of us women who’ve been back and forth on the weight loss yo-yo a few (or more than a few) times, it’s important to realize that going on a ‘diet’ is very different than nutrition.  Diets are temporary, so they don’t allow for that weight maintenance that we all want.  What we really need is a lifelong nutrition lifestyle change – one that doesn’t make you feel deprived so that you can stick with it for life.
So, if weight loss and weight maintenance are 80% diet, what’s the purpose of exercise?  I used to be one of those 2 hour cardio marathon girls…and despite repeated muscle and tendon injuries and even fractures, old habits die hard.  But, when I came to accept the “80 % diet” rule, I was actually relieved to discover that I could meet the ‘fitness’ side of my health goals with a whole lot less time at the gym.
It’s helped me a lot to think of exercise as having the purpose of giving my body the ‘shape’ I want, and the strength and stamina that help me feel healthier overall, rather than thinking of exercise as the vehicle to weight loss.  For example, my focus now is that exercise will get me the lean strong legs and flat belly I want.  It will also help me to feel better, since I’ll have more energy , feel stronger and BE stronger.  But weight loss?  That happens in the kitchen.
Here’s a few tips to help you maximize the 80% diet rule and shift your nutrition goals AND your fitness goals.
1) Eat Small Frequent  Meals
This is key, because these smaller meals spaced about every 3 hours throughout the day help you feel full throughout the day.  No more energy dips or sugar spikes that will have you bee-lining for the nearest unhealthy snack.   Eating small frequent meals also helps boost your metabolism.  If you go too long without eating your primitive metabolism actually goes into fat storage mode, because it’s not sure when the next meal is coming – so gotta conserve those calories rather than burn ‘em, right?  The worst case scenario is skipping breakfast, because you have already gone 8 hours not eating while you sleep, and then tack on 5 – 6 more hours not eating until lunch time.  Eating small, frequent meals also has an effect on hunger and weight loss hormones .  For more on that, see this post.
2) Fill Up On Vegetables
Once a person begins to eat more veggies, they find themselves actually craving them.  Vegetables are not only super nutritious, but their fiber and water help you feel full, too.  If you can, make fresh cooked veggies or salad half or more of your plate, meal or snack.  I like to challenge myself to include two vegetable sides (not including a small portion of starchy carbs) and some protein at every bigger meal.  A snack can be a single fruit or veggie plus a lean protein.
3) Get Your Protein In
Protein is the building block of your muscles – so if you’re working on that ‘shape’ with a fitness plan, protein will help you create it.  Here’s a post from last month on how much protein a woman should get, and how it can sometimes be difficult to meet those numbers.  Protein powder can help supplement your intake if needed. Protein’s help in satiety is also unmatched – every meal and snack should contain some protein to help keep you full.  A protein snack within 20 minutes of finishing your workout helps with fast muscle recovery.
4) Don’t Skip Meals or Restrict Calories
As mentioned above, skipping meals is the fastest way to slow your weight loss progress, because it sends the signal to your metabolism to ‘conserve’ calories rather than burn them.  Instead of skipping meals, eat smaller meals more often.  Be careful not to overly restrict calories too, which has a similar effect on the metabolism as skipping meals does.  Once your metabolism begins to realize you aren’t putting a whole lot of ‘energy’ (in the form of food) in, it’ll go into conservation mode.

5) Don’t Overtrain – It Won’t Help
While training overtime might burn more calories, it has some side effects that make it not worth your while.  First, overtraining, and the associated extra calorie burn will make you feel hungrier – lots hungrier – and more likely to overeat the wrong things.  It also leads to elevated cortisol hormone in your body which will cause muscle loss, inflammation and signals your body to ramp up fat storage.  Overtraining also leads to injuries – and often times those injuries keep you from working out AT ALL. 
All of these tenets are central pieces of the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition and fitness plan.  First, in our nutrition plan, we emphasize the importance of eating small, frequent, healthy meals full of healthy proteins, fruits and veggies, healthy fats and slow burning starchy carbs (things like brown rice, quinoa and potatoes).  We want Athlean-XX to be a plan you continue FOR LIFE, not just for 90 days, so we designed it to be flexible and realistic. There’s no calorie counting and no restriction here – because with healthy nutrition and frequent meals your body will send a signal to stop eating when you’re full, especially since it knows you’ll be eating again in just a few hours.  Our fitness plan contains 3 complete 30-minute workouts per muscle group (we work a different muscle group each day) to give you the ‘shape’ you want without overtraining.  Fear not, these circuit strength routines are super challenging and will get your heart pumping, so you’ll get cardio and strength at the same time!  Finally, both the nutrition plan and the fitness plan are FLEXIBLE.  On the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan, you can choose to follow the set 90 days of meals we provide you, or use our lists of healthy foods to create your own meals.  As for the fitness plan, our unique system containing both DVDs and workout cards allows you to work out at home or at the gym!  The FLEXIBILITY and EFFECTIVENESS ofAthlean-XX for Women make it a plan that you can follow for not just 90 days, but for life.  Join us on Team Athlean now!

Change It Up

I know you have heard about the usual tips to make you bigger, leaner, stronger and healthier. I thought it would be great to share some simple tips to change some things up from your regular routine.

1. Instead of always drinking water try drinking soda water like San Pellegrino. What is interesting about this fancy liquid is that it is alkaline and when you add freshly squeezed lemon it tastes fantastic! What we do know is that foods that are alkaline are awesome for your health and it is harder to find foods that are alkaline rather than acidic!

2. Try eating a food that you have not eaten before every couple of weeks! Even if it is a cheat meal try something new. If I did not incorporate this rule into my weekly rituals I would never have tried certain rice proteins, hemp seed milk, quinoa, and leeks.

3. Try having 5 colors on your plate. Next time you sit down and enjoy a wonderful meal with great company, take a look at your plate. Do you see color? Variety? For example chicken breast (white), Quinoa ( try red quinoa), a cup of spinach and some cut yellow peppers. Adding in different colors will add variety and will also add more nutrients to your day.

4. Find some Game! Are you looking for more nutrients in your day? Tired of eating chicken, beef and fish? Worried about all of the harmful additives in these foods? Try eating wild game meats like Elk, Buffalo, Venison, Ostrisch etc. If you can’t find these meats, we will have buffalo very soon! Wild game is high in nutrients and has no antibiotics, and no hormones, and is generally grass fed. Add it to your new foods that you must try!

5. Switch some of your supplements up. Always using fish oil?, try cod liver oil. Always using a multi vitamin try using a superfoods 2-3 a day instead of using a multi. Switching your supplements around will give you nutrients from different sources. You could notice a difference in your energy, recovery, immunity and moods. You will still get the same nutrients but from different sources.
These are just some simple changes that you can make to your lifestyle that will add variety! We all get comfortable in our day to day routine and often we forget to spice it up a bit.

10 Food Additives You Should Avoid

What food additives are in your daily diet and should you be rethinking eating foods that contain them?
When it comes to food additives they are generally anything but natural in both their make up as well as why they are used. Food additives are usually added to help with processing, packaging and preserving foods. When you are at the grocery store, have you ever realize there are quite a few foods that can sit on the shelf for quite a while? Even things like processed meats seem to last for quite a while in the store and then your fridge, seems a little unnatural doesn’t it? What is tough to swallow is the average north american family spends about 80% of their food budget on processed foods! The worst part of this statistic is the health consequences.
Let’ have a look at some of the top food additives to avoid:

1. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG / E621)

We have all heard of this one before, MSG is an amino acid used to enhance flavors in salad dressings, chips, soups, noodle bowls, and many restaurant foods. MSG is known as an excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. A number of studies have revealed that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. Another important factor when it comes to MSG is that it effects the neurological pathways of the brain and disengages the “I’m full” function. This is why there can often be weight gain in those consuming MSG.
MSG can be found in: Chinese food (Chinese Restaurant Syndrome ) many snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most Campbell Soup products, frozen dinners, alot of noodle bowls, cold cuts (sandwich meat)

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup or Glucose/Fructose

In the US it is known as High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and in Canada Glucose/Fructose. In both countries it is a highly-refined artificial sweetener which has become the number one ingredient to help sweeten foods and beverages. It also is the number one source of calories in north american diets. You can find HFCS (G/F) in almost all processed foods. HFCS packs on the pounds faster than any other ingredient, increases your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects. Not only that, the chemical mixtures used in HFCS introduce mercury into the mix which has been proven to cause brain damage in those who consume it.
HFCS or G/f can be found in: most processed foods, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals

3. Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame, (E951) also known as Nutrasweet and Equal, is often found in foods labeled “diet” or “sugar free”. Aspartame is not only carcinogenic but is a serious neurotoxin. Aspartame produces Methanol when in the body which then converts into formaldehyde. While it is often believed that formic acid is the issue with Aspartame, it is actually formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a serious neurotoxin and carcinogen. According to the EPA, Methanol is considered a cumulative poison which means is accumulates in the body and very little is excreted each time it is consumed. and accounts for more reports of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined. Known to erode intelligence and affect short-term memory, the components of this toxic sweetener may lead to a wide variety of ailments including brain tumor, diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, emotional disorders like depression and anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines and seizures. Acesulfame-K, a relatively new artificial sweetener found in baking goods, gum and gelatin, has not been thoroughly tested and has been linked to kidney tumors. Read more about the dangers of Aspartame here.
Aspartame can be found in: diet or sugar free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, jello (and over gelatins), desserts, sugar free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, breathmints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste

4. Common Food Dyes

Common food dyes are not only found in foods but also other products we put on our bodies. Studies show that artificial colorings contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Alternate studies have also linked food colorings to cancer. Watch out for these ones:
Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)
Banned in Norway, Finland and France. May cause chromosomal damage
Found in: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods

Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)
Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission
Found in: fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!
Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)
Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.
Found in: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more!

5. Trans Fat

While it can be naturally occurring in animals, trans fat is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products and is among the most dangerous substances that you can consume. Trans fats can most often found in deep-fried fast foods and processed foods. Trans fats are created from the process of hydrogenation which is why foods like margarine or products that contain other hydrogenated oils are not a good choice for consumption. A number of studies have shown that trans fat increases LDL(“bad) cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. This increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease and strokes, and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes and other health problems. Oils and fat are now forbidden on the Danish market if they contain trans fatty acids exceeding 2 per cent, a move that effectively bans partially hydrogenated oils.
Trans fats can be found in: margarine, other hydrogenated oils, chips and crackers, baked goods, fast foods

6. BHA and BHT (E320)

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. They both effect the neurological system of the brain, contribute to altering behavior and increase the risk of cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants which form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.
Both can be found in: Potato chips, gum, cereal, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, jello

7. Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is used as a preservative, coloring and flavoring founds in favorites such as bacon and hot dogs. Pretty much any processed meat or sandwich meat you buy at the deli will contain Sodium Nitrate. While it sounds harmless, it is actually highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system. Once there, it forms a variety of nitrosamine compounds that find their way into the bloodstream and cause a number of issues with internal organs- the liver and pancreas being most affected. Interestingly enough, this product was motioned to be banned by the FDA but was vetoed by food manufacturers who complained they had no alternative for preserving packaged meat products. It is interesting to note that we destroy health simply to allow industry to flourish.Other than preservation this chemical just happens to turn meats bright red. It helps to make old, dead meats look fresh and pleasing to eat.
Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite can be found in: hotdogs, bacon, ham, luncheon meat, cured meats, corned beef, smoked fish or any other type of processed meat

8. Potassium Bromate

Another one on the list that we are probably all subject to given it is household staple- Potassium Bromate. It is an additive used to increase volume in some white flour, breads, and rolls, potassium bromate is known to cause cancer. Even small amounts in bread can create quite serious problems for humans. It is important to note that glutenous bread blocks nutrient receptors in the intestines which hinders the bodies ability to intake nutrients from other foods.
Potassium Bromate can be found in: breads

9. Sodium Sulfite (E221)

This additive is often why many people have trouble drinking store bought wine. It can also be found in other processed foods. According to the FDA, approximately 1 in 100 people is sensitive to sulfites in food and wine. Individuals who are sulfite sensitive may experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death by closing down the airway altogether, leading to cardiac arrest.
Sodium sulfite can be found in: Wine, processed foods and dried fruit

10. Sulfur Dioxide (E220)

Sulfur additives are toxic and in the United States of America, the Federal Drugs Administration have prohibited their use on raw fruit and vegetables. Adverse reactions include: bronchial problems particularly in those prone to asthma, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock. It also destroys vitamins B1 and E. Not recommended for consumption by children. The International Labour Organization says to avoid E220 if you suffer from conjunctivitis, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, or cardiovascular disease.
Found in: beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, cordials, wine, vinegar, and potato products.

Something to Think About

When we look at the majority of the health problems we experience today, is it not true that the majority, if not all, can be linked directly to the foods we eat? Is it worth debating whether these substances are good or bad when they aren’t natural or naturally occurring in the foods to begin with? Is it possible that maybe our food system has become more about convenience and not about health whatsoever? I think it is important to think about these things as what we eat does in fact affect what happens in our bodies in a HUGE way. Whether or not these substances will heavily affect you in the next 5 or 10 years, one thing is certain, they are not helping out your health in any way and considering most of this stuff is found in processed foods or HIGHLY acidic foods, we shouldn’t be consuming them anyway if good health is our goal.


Peanut Butter Fro-Yo

Had to share one of my favouite treats! I usually like to have this in the evening after supper to tame that sweet tooth of mine. This treat is healthy and feels like an indulgence! Plus it is so yummy! An easy recipe to whip up with just 4 clean ingredients of Greek Yogurt, Unsweetened Coco powder, Natural Peanut Butter and Stevia. **I have also made it with a 1/2 scoop of chocolate protein powder too to meet my protein requirements for the day. It still works out just fine!


  • 1 serving of Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Unsweetened Coco Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Natural Peanut Butter
  • Stevia to taste (I usually use two packets)


~ Combine ingredients in a freezer safe bowl. Mix everything together…I like to almost whip it up into a fluffy pudding texture.

~ Put a cover or a lid on the bowl and pop into the freezer for about 30 minutes or so….if you can wait that long!

~ When I take it out of the freezer I like to let it sit for a few minutes to thaw.

What you end up with is almost mousse like…SO GOOD!
Yield: 1 serving
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes to freeze


I read blogs about fitness and nutrition all the time.  I have been experiencing some "not so nice" comments lately. (yes..really)   I read this blog and thought I would share it.

Jealousy. It’s an ugly word. I am sure we’ve all experienced it. Either we’ve been the ones who’s been jealous of something someone either has or has done, or we have been on the receiving end of someone who’s been jealous of us.
Sometimes we might not even realize that it’s jealous we are struggling with.
What I want to challenge us all to do is celebrate and appreciate the strengths in others. Be happy for them. Be excited for them. It’s so easy to get caught up in the, “Why not me?” mindset which only makes us feel that much more worse, and its an attitude that without reigning it  back in can spiral out of control.
Jealousy can damage friendships and relationships with family. It can get in the way. It can force us to put up self-imposed barriers. It can cause paranoia leading us to think things we otherwise wouldn’t. When jealous we tend to rationalize and make excuses of why we don’t have or can’t be whatever it is that that person can’t. And the end results oftentimes leads to a strained relationship.
Let’s put this in perspective. Yesterday I had the chance to spot a friend at the gym. She is younger, 26, and a former athlete in high school and possibly even college. Not sure. Yesterday she hit a new PR. And it seems like those PRs are coming a lot more frequently than mine. She is a beast in the gym. Yesterday while doing Shoulder Presses (sitting), she put up 50′s. Not 50′s as in total – 50′s as in each gripped hand and completed a full set of around 6 reps. I spotted her during the 45′s, but my hubby came over and spotted her with the 50′s.
Was I a little bit jealous? Sure? Hell ya! I wish it were me. I’d love to be putting up that much weight of course. But, is it going to affect my relationship towards my good friend? No way! I am happier than ever for her and feel so incredibly proud that she has come such a long way in the past year (she is a new first-time mom). Lifting as we are now is still relatively new to her, but she is putting in the work like no other gal I know, and it is definitely paying off. Her strength is through the roof, and I love it. I am happy for her.
But yeah, I still wish it was me. What do I do with this admiration? Let it destroy me? Let it get to me? No way.
I channel it in to drive and motivation. It just makes me all that much more determined to get my own butt in gear and hit some of my own PRs. There’s a good chance I won’t ever be putting up 50′s in a Shoulder Press, but who knows? Even if I just exceed my prior best in 5lb increments at a time, isn’t that something? Isn’t that still progress? And maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have been so driven if I hadn’t seen my good friend do it first? There’s a good chance. She’s moved up the deadline for my goals in my opinion. Seeing it first hand has lit the fire from a glimmer to a full-on flame.
Another example. So let’s just say you recently competed with one of your good friends. She placed top 5, and maybe you didn’t. Now how do you feel? Does it hurt? Did it get to you? Most likely. This is a much harder example to internalize and channel in a positive direction, but it’s all the more reason why it’s so important that you do. Friendship is so much more important than any trophy, than any stage, than any race, or any award. Friendship is what gets us through the hard times. Friends are there when the excitement of a trophy wears off. If you find that through competition, any kind, you’re competing with a friend, stop. Right now. Acknowledge it, and change your mindset. Work at changing your mindset. And if you have been the one on stage with a friend who placed (that day) better than you, recognize it for what it is – the outcome of what the judges were looking for that very day. Be supportive of your friend and give her all the praise you can as any good friend would. Make it meaningful and heartfelt. It will be hard, but WE CAN DO HARD THINGS. I actually have that saying hanging in my house. Doing what is right does not always mean doing what is easy.
Let the jealousy subside. Let the love take over.
I really do believe in Karma. If you do good for others, good will come back to you.
If you support others in times that are tough even when it’s something we truly truly want for ourselves, others will support and love us during our time to shine.

This photo with Mario Lopez was taken at last year's OPA competition (June 16, 2012).  I saw this photo and said ENOUGH!    That is the day I started my 365 days of transformation.    By the way....I am freaking proud of myself!  BAM!

                                                 May 2013                      June 2012

 photo below 2009                                                                                   Now

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