Counting Calories… (Part Two)

…And Why It Has NOTHING To Do With Clean Healthy Eating
 
 
In part one of this discussion, we talked, or you listened to me rant, about why the concept of counting calories is absolutely absurd and does no one on a weight loss journey any good at all. I know that I knocked you all off the fantasy land cloud you were so happily floating on but have no fear! Tonight I am here to scrape you up off the ground you splattered onto and make you whole again. So let’s dive into how you can better judge the foods (not food-like products) that you are putting into your beautiful wonderful bodies.
 
 
It is a trillion and one times more important to focus on WHAT you are putting into the miraculously independently functioning machine that is your body than HOW MUCH of it.
 
Okay, so what really is “clean eating“? On the most basic level, it is eating only things from their complete natural and primal state. Clean, healthy eating is a much easier concept than our society makes it out to be. All these diets and fads convince you that there is an overwhelming amount of thought, mathematics, and suffering that goes into eating the right way. In reality, it just takes a couple weeks or months of utilizing the one technique many of us despise… self-control. We all honestly know the things we REALLY should not be eating. I mean if we don’t have that kind of common sense then it is a subject that is talked about so often that we cannot hide from it anyways. Beginning a serious journey to being healthy starts are deciding to have the self-control to eat the things we should be eating and not the things we shouldn’t. Are you decided and committed? Okay, good. So now what….
 
Tip #1: STOP SHOPPING THE AISLES! Seriously, when you go to the grocery store walk in and take a look for a second. Notice the perimeter of the store. What do you see? The veggies, fruits, meats, poultry, fish, dairy… everything that is sold in it’s most natural state! The perimeter of the store has now become your best friend. This is where you will live. Buy the things that don’t get sold with labels and ingredients listed on them. Stop eating out of boxes! Like just stop it. Enough. As I sit here I am seriously racking my brain to think of one single thing that I eat that is sold in a box… Nothing. There is absolutely not one thing. So don’t you dare pick up those Chewy bars and rationalize to me why they are a healthy snack. I don’t listen to liars.
 
Tip #2: Take every single thing any ridiculous diet has every told you…. And erase it from your memory. I’m being very serious. Now, this is not me saying that everything you’ve heard is wrong. I would not and could not even begin to say that. Mostly because I have no idea what kind of advice you have heard. It may be good. It may all be complete and utter crap. What I am really saying in this step is that in order to change your mentality you honestly need a clean slate. It is much easier to start all over and actually learn what is good for you individually than it is to try and alter your perceptions or work alongside your idea that if you eat a single calorie over that 2,000 in a day you are going to blow up like a balloon. The biggest point here is you have more of a fighting chance of actually developing good habits if you can rid yourself of all the ridiculous ones first.
 
Tip #3: In the battle of calorie vs. food product, food product should win. Almost every single time. The above depiction is a perfect example of what I am talking about and the basis for why I ultimately dislike the idea of calorie focused diets. Just because something is lower in calories doesn’t mean it should necessarily be chosen over the higher caloric item. A perfect example is high protein foods. A single large egg is roughly 70 calories. So the typical two egg breakfast is at the minimum 140 calories, that does not include anything else you may eat with it or perhaps the oil used to cook said eggs. There are plenty of 90 or 100 calorie “healthy” frozen breakfasts or breakfast bars on the market. Which do you think is really the better option here? You better have answered the eggs or I will be forced to find you and shake some sense into you. High protein diets are particularly recommended for those looking to build muscle. It is the kind of diet I have followed ever since beginning CrossFit. High protein diets are naturally going to be higher in calories because high protein foods have more calories than other food options. Yet somehow I have managed to lose inches, thin down more than ever in my life, gain muscle definition, and transform my entire body. All while not thinking twice about my caloric intake. Absurd?! Or completely possible and realistic.  
 
Tip #4: Don’t fear meal supplements and replacements. This is a touchy subject with a lot of people. I will start out by saying that yes ideally you want to aim to acquire all of the necessary vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc. that your body needs through foods. However, as always, if we are being real with ourselves it is not necessarily realistic to think we will be able to accomplish this every single day. If you are working towards extreme weight loss you are probably cutting down on the amount of food you intake in collaboration with changing the actual food products. That is understandable but that means you may not intake everything your body wants. Also if you have an intense exercise regime, your body is going to crave more nutrients and more of specific amino acids and enzymes. There are a lot of not so good products out there that people use simply because they think it will help and do not know any better. I won’t get tough with you guys on this one. Most things you will see advertised as meal replacement options in the grocery stores are crap. Don’t buy them. Shop around for actual good options. I, myself, use a company called Nature’s Sunshine (whose products I will actually start selling right on my blog shortly so keep your eyes peeled!). An extensive amount of research has been done before opting for these products. It is all natural, superfood packed, and high protein. So with good choice meal replacements, you’re not starving your body. You are giving it more than you can get from basic foods daily and its like totally super easy, quick, & convenient at the same time! OH EM GEE! I won’t shove it down your throat but seriously, give meal supplements and replacements more than just a passing thought. You find like what you find out there.
 
Tip #5: PERSONALIZE! Remember that like everything I have talked about, there is no be all, end all. Nothing is black and white when it comes to a health and fitness journey. You are not your cousin, your father, your spouse, your best friend, your boss. You are you. Period. Your body works differently than anyone else’s. What has given me the best results of my life may not do the same for you. I am more than willing to admit that. I am not the type of person that will tell you there is only one option. That is limiting and is not being fair to you so anyone who tells you that is not a friend to you. There are a million really really good alternative healthy and clean eating lifestyle options (not diets). Just as people live as vegetarians or vegans, people adopt these different lifestyles and are living super healthy lives by following the laws and ideas laid out within them. Again, these are commitments that people make and grow to maintain as a lifestyle. The biggest difference between a clean eating lifestyle change and a calorie counting diet is that the lifestyle change IS meant to be permanent and is actually super easy to maintain throughout your entire life. Your body becomes accustom to (and super happy about) running on the good foods you feed it and then it becomes what you crave. Read up on the paleo diet, on “eating for your blood type”, on living gluten and dairy free, start trying new foods… I tried kale this past week and I am in love with it! haha… take advice from people who you SHOULD be taking advice from, look into supplements and meal replacements, talk to as many people as possible, take in everything you can. You can never have enough information on nutrition. Start out slow by cutting things out of your diet. Then start adding in new foods and recipes you will soon find yourself just itching to try. Test out a particular philosophy, hate it, stop it, and try out the next one. When it clicks you will F E E L the difference. I promise you. After a few weeks of your new healthy eating habits that are adapted for you, your body will feel a million times better and you will function like never before. Find what works for you, embrace it, and run with it.
 
 
There is a world of misconception and misinformation surrounding nutrition (especially when it comes to fitness and weight loss). Learn to weed out the bullshit. Very simply… eat all natural, healthy, pure foods. And remember…
 
 
 
 

Counting Calories …

… And Why You Need To Stop
PART ONE
 
 
Disclaimer: If you are prepping for a body building, bikini, physique competition or something along those lines then you may be excused. I am not directing this at you.
 
 
For the rest of us… If your livelihood does not depend on tracking the exact number of grams of protein and carbohydrates you consume in a day and in a meal then sit down, breathe, and listen up. 
 
The world we live in today people get SO caught up in that little number next to “Total Calories” that is on the package or the menu that they lose sight of the real difference between eating clean and just eating less which goes hand-in-hand with the difference between a diet and a lifestyle.
 
Let’s talk a little about what that difference is. In order to do that I have to first unravel and unmask all the reasons why counting calories is not the right way to go about losing weight and beginning your journey into fitness and health. There will be follow up post to discuss what a clean eating lifestyle should actually look like. So off we go…
 
 
 
We all want to be healthy right? (Or at least you do because you are reading this blog and this post… Or I hope you do… Well anyways…) But does grabbing that “Coke Zero” over the regular Coca-Cola make you healthy? I mean it isssss zero calories so it like totally fits under both your new strict 1,200cal/day diet and under the rule that you aren’t allowed to drink any of those calories.
 
If you haven’t caught on to what I am getting at here then we have more work to do than I thought haha. Kidding. But seriously. Just because that Coke Zero lists its total calories as 0 does N O T mean that you will lose weight by consuming it. It does N O T mean that it is not harming your body. Your organs, your little fat pouch by your lower abs that you just can’t shed, your inner thighs … yeah they all still hate you for drinking that Coke Zero; calories or no calories.
 
This leads me very nicely into my first point about why I absolutely cannot stand the idea of people counting calories; especially as a weight loss technique. Giving someone a number of how many calories they should consume in a day does not teach them a damn thing about how to actually eat well. It teaches them that a handful of those tortilla chips is less total calories than the Oreo cookie. In reality should anybody be eating either one of those things? Absolutely not. Just because something is low cal does not mean that it is good for you in any way, shape, or form. Eating less of all foods does not mean that we are “eating clean”. In fact, it may mean that we are cutting out foods we perhaps should be eating but I will get to that in the next post. Your caloric intake should not be the sole factor on which you base your food choices or you are in for a rough journey.
 
On that note, it has been said that almost 95% of weight loss attempts fail in the long-term. Yikes! Now, that is just general weight loss attempts. Since we are discussing the idea of calorie counting I figured I would bring up the most infamous of all “counting calories” based weight loss programs… Weight Watchers. So if only 5% of general weight loss attempts work, how does Weight Watchers compare to that? According to research and numbers admitted by Weight Watchers reps themselves, only 0.24% of people who completed this program remained at or below their goal weight for 5 years or more. That means that only 2 in 1,000 people have maintained long-term weight loss by following the most well-known calorie counting procedure.
 
I know that I sure as all heck want to maintain the weight I am at for more than 5 years! I can only hope that you all do too. So this brings me to my next point… This is not for life. Be serious with yourself for just one second and look down the road one year, then 5 years, then 10 years, then when you’re caring for your grandkids. Are you still going to be counting calories? Are you still going to carry around that notepad or that app and make sure you document the calories in every single thing you eat? If we are being SUPER honest, do you even do that without fail or exception every single meal of every day right now? Stop it. No you don’t. You’ve forgotten at least one or twice. You’ve had an event to go to that prevented it. You’ve eaten something that you did not know to calories of. How do I know that? Because we all have. That’s life my friends. Counting calories is not a realistic way of living your life forever which is why it is a breeding ground for diets and fads not a long-term permanent lifestyle. The scary part? It isn’t meant to be something permanent. So why in the world any “weight loss expert”, fitness coach, or the like suggest it to people is just absurd to me.
 
Confession time: I was the QUEEN of calorie counting back in the day. It was mental torture. I rationalized snacks in ridiculous ways or starved myself when I really should have eaten. It was beyond stupid but ya know what that is all too common. THAT is why I am writing this right now. Since starting my serious no-nonsense fitness and health journey in March I have not spent one single day counting calories and this is the first time in my life I am sitting nicely in lower end of the “Athlete” body fat percentage category. I know right?! *woot woot* In my next post I will go into more detail about what I do and why that works 354093759834758934598673589 times better! Cue excitement.
 
Calories are nasty little buggers. They don’t tell the whole story. They are not an accurate description of the nutrients in your food. People become so overwhelmed by this concept of only being able to eat a certain amount of calories that it just turns into another stressor in their lives and we all know stress is the enemy of health and weight loss. So stop zooming in on that silly little number and start learning what the quality foods are that you should eat and how to eat them for your own personalized goals, exercise regime, and lifestyle.

Don’t ya know, PUMP IT UP!

YOU GOT TO PUMP IT UP!

No but seriously…
 
Music has a HUGE affect on us! H U G E. People listen to music in the car, to study, at the gym, at parties, when they’re bored. People pick up singing and playing instruments as past times and hobbies even without any intention of using it as a career. Why would something play such a prominent role in our lives if it wasn’t important? … I mean I hope that’s rhetorical but just in case… IT WOULDN’T
 
 
First, I will talk about the two BIG ways that music affects our beings…
 
1. Emotional Effect
 
I don’t think it’s news to anyone that music has a strong hold on our heart strings. Funny how a melody sounds like a memory, right? We all have that song that reminds us of someone or some time in our life. We have the good ones that we hear and we instantly smile. Always. We also have the ones that make us tear up a little even when we try to hold it back. I can list probably a handful of songs for each of those categories without straining to think about it. This is SO POWERFUL! It means that although we may not have control over hearing those first couple beats of a song when it comes on the radio, we do have control over what songs we allow ourselves to listen to. Which means that we can alter our own mood at any time. When you’re having a bad day, you can put on that song that makes you laugh or makes you want to dance and its basically impossible to be upset, at least for the next 3-5 minutes. Once you accept that you have this power, cause we all know its there but sometimes we just choose not to acknowledge it, you can hone in on it and use it to your benefit not only in life but also in the gym!
 
 
2. Physical Stimulation
 
There are a multitude of studies one can find about all the different ways music affects the human body physiologically; from helping brain function to boosting your immune system. The ones that I want to touch upon can directly affect your productivity and results as related to working out. Of the most obvious of these, which many people may already be aware of, is that music STRONGLY affects our heartbeat, pulse rate, and blood pressure. A human’s heartbeat reacts to the frequency, tempo, and volume in songs. When we are working out our best results come when what happens? Comeeee oooon guys I know you know this… Yup! When our heartbeat and pulse increase! So with that said, since our heartbeat will rise and fall to match the rhythm of the music playing, it’s no question that we should be playing fast paced music during our workout time. Directly opposite to how slow music helps us relax, fast music is a natural energizer. So take advantage! Music can also help to regulate our body temperature. Loud music with strong beats will naturally get our blood pumping and thus will warm our body (another positive for working out!). Lastly, studies have shown that music can actually help reduce muscle tension and improve both our body movement and coordination when in a workout. My goodness the human body is pretty darn smart huh?!
 
( Also check out this awesome article on the topic from Psychology Today )
 
 
 
Now, the question at hand is, how exactly do we make music work in our favor when it comes to working out?
 
 
I mean if Dom Mazzeti didn’t hit the nail on the head there then I don’t really know how much I can help you understand it buuuut I’ll give it a shot…
 
The goal is to get more bang for your buck, in a manner of speaking. Music can either kill your gym sesh or give it more umph than all the pre-workout in the world. Finding the right workout playlist for you can be done by applying a simple formula:
 
Emotionally pleasing music that is physically stimulating and setting appropriate.
 
Setting appropriate, Kaitlyn? YES. God help me if I hear Everything Has Changed come through your headphones. For that matter, if I hear you play one single country song at the gym we cannot be friends… Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice summer day when I can drive with the windows down and blast Cruise or lay on the beach playing some Jimmy Buffet and when I’m in an emotional place Taylor is my go-to girl but when you’re doing box jumps and pull-ups trying to beat the clock or you want to PR your front squat that ish WILL NOT get your blood pumping. You’re all in denial. There is a time and a place for all music. The gym is the time when you play the music that maybe you wouldn’t even listen to during any other time but you know when that playlist kicks on you’re gonna GO HAM and not give it a second thought. Personally, I like to kick off a good run with Til’ I Collapse because I mean, come on? That sh*t is motivating as all heck.
 
So take what we have talked about and apply it accordingly. First, find music that is physically stimulating AND setting appropriate. Does it have a fast beat? Can you blast it so the whole city hears and not look like an idiot? (Hint: I am not referring to people judging you. Anything that is soft music is not meant to be played at that level.) As soon as it comes on does it make you wanna just go without holding back? Good we got the first step down.
 
Now, let’s talk about which ones you REALLY LIKE (emotionally pleasing) and which ones you just picked because you can feel your blood racing when they play. I’ve always said the car ride, or walk, or prep-time before you actually get to and start a workout is THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. I usually workout at 6 or 9am. If I drove to my CrossFit box listening to sappy soft music I would still be asleep when I got there. Instead I plug in my iPhone and play my top 10 pump up songs of the moment. Usually it’s songs that this corny little white girl rollin’ up in her silver Jeep would be embarrassed or terrified to play driving through the hood haha. Yeah, those are MY songs of choice. But whatever it is, make sure that you are in full flight by the time you are getting into your workout. These songs should make you feel ON TOP OF THE WORLD. You are invincible. You are a freakin superhero for goodness sake. The rest of the playlist, the meat and potatoes of it, just need to be songs that keep your heart rate up and make you not even want to but have to keep moving throughout the entire workout. They also shouldn’t be songs where you are gonna pause just to sing a verse to them. Enough of that.
 
Music can absolutely make or break a workout. It is something that is sooooo simple to master so do not over look such a little but crucial detail. You will be surprised at the difference a really good playlist will make whether you’re lifting, dancing, running, CrossFitting, or whatever it is. When your body is excited physiologically and your mind is just IN IT you will work a million times harder and thus, in turn, see even better results! I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty darn good to me.

TABATA That

TABATA whaaaa? who?
TABATA THIS

Okay but seriously… One of the questions I get CON. STANT. LY. is “what simple exercises can be done at home?” Of course there are a bunch I can rattle off. I’m sure you guys reading this are even thinking of a ton in your head right now. My issue with this question is that I can tell someone all these simple, equipment free exercises they can do at home but that usually means little to nothing…

Think about a time where you decided to do a “simple at home workout”. Let’s just use the basic things like push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, squats, planks, or whatever tickles your fancy. So you set out to do these pre-determined 5 sets of 30 crunches and 30 squats… You do the first 30 crunches and then it seems like a good idea to lay there for 5 seconds to catch your breathe. That 5 seconds turns into 30 and then you start your squats and that same thing happens after those are completed. You sit down on the floor to do your crunches and then maybe you feel like you just HAVE to change the song on your iPod and then… Well you get the picture. We are all guilty of this at some point.

So what is the problem with that not so pretty little picture I just painted for you? The fact that, yes even though the exercises are being completed, did that person’s heart rate spike even once? I can basically guarantee not. Progress isn’t made, muscle isn’t toned, and FAT IS DEFINITELY NOT BURNED without an increase in your heart rate… Unless you have some magic potion that you aren’t sharing with the rest of the world… And if that is the case you are a bad person and someone should have taught you that sharing is caring when you were a child hahaha…

Okay okay okay I realize you guys are probably sitting there like WHAT IN THE WORLD DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THAT RIDICULOUS WORD IN THE TITILE?!! Curb your frustration my little fitness hungry darlings. I am getting there… riiiiight…. now!
Ahhhh Tabata tabata. My darling tabata…
That my friends is one of my favorite words. Say it, savor it, learn it, love it.


Basically, TABATA is a way of exercising. It is not a specific movement. It is just a way in which movements, even the simplest of them, are done in order to motivate and spike heart rate.  Tabata basically just means you do 8 rounds of an exercise with 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off.  So, for example, if you choose squats you are going to do those squats at a rapid pace for 20 seconds setting the goal of seeing how many squats you can get in that time. Then you have 10 seconds rest. After which you IMMEDIATELY start the next 20 seconds of squats and repeat that sequence 6 more times. The trick being that you are aiming to maintain the same number of squats over all 8 rounds. This can be very deceiving my dears so don’t discount it as tough workout but that is why it is SOOOO AMAZING!

You can also do tabata style with multiple exercises. This is a good example….

The key to this all is really making sure that you are pushing yourself for the FULL 20 seconds. After all it is ONLY TWENTY SECONDS OF HARD WORK! SO STOP DOGGING IT BRO!
If you have an iPhone, there is an app that I have that is called Tabata Timer. Get it. Use it… I’m sure there is the equivalent to that on all other smart phones too so no you don’t have an excuse haha. If you don’t have a smart phone then I’m not quite sure what century you think you are living in? Kidding. There are plenty of other, traditional ways you can time yourself so stop pretending there aren’t.
Basically TABATA is the no nonsense, I-actually-want-results way of doing EXACTLY the same exercises that you already do. It forces you to race against the clock and push yourself further than you would if you were just doing these exercises at your own turtle like speed. When I say you can use tabata for any exercise I really do mean any exercise! Some will gas you a little faster than others so be smart about what you choose but I’ve used this at home for everything from plank and handstand holds to crunches and pushups to hang power cleans and push jerks. It is my absolute favorite way to get in my high intensity workouts when I cannot make it to my CrossFit box. Give it a try folks! I promise it will not disappoint. 🙂

MA! Where’s the PROTEIN?!

Ahhh, supplements. Glorious glorious supplements. These little devils are the subject of probably the biggest “should I, shouldn’t I” debate in fitness. I’m gonna go ahead and just straighten this out right way… If this is something you’ve spent time really considering, chances are it’s because you should. BUT that does not mean you should run right now and buy out all of GNC. Take a chill pill (not literally lol) and let’s have a little discussion about these things…

My general tips about supplements are:
(1) Actually do some research before you get so fired up, bro.
(2) If you are overweight and trying to lose 40 lbs for goodness sake stop taking the same things you read in some magazine that the current Mr. Olympia takes.
(3) YES, women can take supplements!
(4) Too much of anything is too much. [which should just be a rule of thumb for life]

Getting down to the nitty gritty…

There are so many different supplements on the market. Everyone is, at some point, going to take something that does not really suit them or that they don’t like. But have no fear! Much like trying on shoe, once you know what doesn’t fit it’s easier to find what does. Don’t be afraid to test things out and get some real advice on the stuff. Pretty please (with some protein powder on top) do NOT just read a fitness magazine and buy all the same stuff the jacked guys (or girls) talking about the fitness competition they were just in say that they take. You are not them. I don’t mean that in a discouraging sense but in the way that, like I have said and will continue to say a million times over until everyone really understands it, your body is different than everyone else’s. Your body is unique and may need its own unique mixture of things to get the results similar to the ones the person in that magazine gets. Think first about what you are trying to accomplish with your fitness and then think about how supplements can aid your body in achieving that. You shouldn’t take things because your gym buddy does. You should take what you need and you don’t need quite as much as you think but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, I just want to give a brief on some of the most popular supplements…

1. Yummy yummy PROTEIN ❤
Protein is beloved in the fitness world. Why? Because it is absolutely critical to consume an adequate amount of protein when you have a demanding fitness schedule or are doing serious training. Anything that means your body is being depleted of nutrients quickly means you should probably think about getting those back into your body if you want results.
Protein aids in the repair and recovery of your muscles. It also increases your metabolism. So whether you are strength training or trying to lose weight, protein is the way to go. It can be used as a pre or post workout. If using it post workout, it should be consumed within an hour at most but honestly as soon as your heart rate slows down a little drink that shake up.

Non-dairy (Beef/Egg) v. Dairy (Whey and/or Casein): There are so many different kinds of protein and really which one you should take is dependent on your goals, desired results, and preference.
Many people take one of the two dairy proteins or, more commonly, both. Whey is probably the most popular of all protein powders and supplements. It’s known as a “fast” protein because it is digested and broken down quickly, making it the more ideal of the dairy proteins to consume pre or post workout. Casein is the “slow” dairy protein. It has a prolonged release because it is more difficult for your body to breakdown. I would not advise taking this around workout time. It is ideal though for a meal replacement or to be taken before bed in order to further help your body in the recovery process that it does naturally during sleep.
Personally, I use a non-dairy (beef & egg based) protein powder. Specifically, Carnivor and Paleo Protein are two brands I myself use/have used and enjoy. The benefits of a beef protein, other than that it fits in with many of the new diets out there now, is that it is stock full of B vitamins and high in natural amino acids. It is also the preferred protein for anyone looking to lean out.
2. Vitamins and BCAA’s
Many people, inside and outside the fitness world, take multivitamins. That kinda thing is really dependent upon what your specific body needs, what you may be deficient in, what you can consume through your diet, etc. The biggest little bugger floating around communities of serious fitness athletes and lifters is B Vitamins. There are multiple B vitamins all of which have very different jobs in your body. A lot of fitness people will promote taking a Vitamin B complex. Again this is not absolutely necessary but depending on what you get in your diet or in your other supplements it can certainly be considered.
BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are important in a fitness supplement regime because they significantly decrease muscle soreness and damage. They can also aid in the breakdown of protein in the body. There are plenty of BCAA supplements on the market but these awesome guys will also make an appearance in many GOOD protein powders. These essential amino acids include isoleucine, leucine, and valine. So next time you buy a protein powder check to make sure you see those three things listed in it and then you know you’re all set.
3. Lions and Tigers and …. CREATINE! OH MY!
First and foremost, CREATINE IS NOT A STEROID. My goodness people. Creatine is nothing more than a natural combination of three essential amino acids (glycine, arginine, and methionine). Creatine is also found naturally in things like fish and red meat. It somehow has gotten confused with steroids because it does, depending on how much you take of course, produce visibly greater gains faster. Creatine increases muscle mass and strength. It should really primarily be used if you are taking part in a fitness routine that involves weightlifting. The benefits, other than longer term muscle mass results, are that it allows your body to have more creatine phosphate stores and thus have a longer release of energy throughout a workout as well as hydrates muscle cells.
4. Pre-Workouts   
There are sooooo many different kinds of pre-workouts on the market and they are all a composition are various things. Some contain more things than others. Some include caffeine in them (which could be good or bad). This is really where your own personal preference and needs come into play. A few things to look for when picking out pre-workouts are:
beta-alanine – subdues the burning feeling in muscles when they become fatigued allowing you to have longer workouts
glutamine – gets energy to the muscles quicker and for an extended period of time
nitric oxide/arginine – increases the delivery and flow of oxygen to your muscles 
creatine
I, myself, just started using a pre-workout recently (before this I was taking a whey protein before my workouts) and I have seen a tremendous difference in my performance during the workout as well as how I feel post-workout. I am using Cellucor C4 and I am thrilled with it (I’ll tell you guys a funny story about picking that out). However, it is important to make sure you are picking out an appropriate pre-workout for what you are doing in your workouts because, for example, the combination of things in C4, including the creatine, could cause a gain of water weight for someone not involved in a serious weightlifting routine. Also, two tips for pre-workouts are: STAY HYDRATED! and switch things up every so often because your body will start to build a tolerance to these things and that is never good.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER
is that too much of anything is too much! Always. No exceptions.
The human body is SO SMART, smarter than you give it credit for. So make sure that when you are taking things that the body naturally produces you do not over do it. Giving it things it doesn’t get or things it gets depleted of through exercise is always beneficial but don’t go fixing something that isn’t broken. When you take an overload of things that body is already making itself, your body assumes it doesn’t have to do that work anymore and it will literally stop doing it. The sources that produce certain hormones or enzymes will succumb to adaptation and then when you do stop taking all your supplements your body will no longer have the means to produce those things. So if you are taking dozens of supplements and your body doesn’t have the chance to do any of the work on it’s own just know TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING IS TOO MUCH…
And you should probably calm down a bit.
Now I am going to get on my soap for a second here….
Let’s go back and address my number 3 general tip, women and supplements.
Funny story… So I go to Vitamin Shoppe looking for a specific pre-workout that someone had recommended  to me. Just my luck, they are out of it. So the lovely woman points me in the direction of two of their more popular pre-workouts and admits that, although she has never taken any of this stuff, she has heard good things about these two specifically. I spend some time looking them over and decide with confidence that the Cellucor C4 was the direction I was going to go. As I pick the container of Strawberry Margarita flavored powder (I know right?! YUM) up off the shelf, the jacked douchebag looking guy comes over from behind the counter to “give me some help”; since I looked like Bambi apparently? So he walks over with his Christmas Story I-Can’t-Put-My-Arms-Down walk and proceeds to, oh so kindly, tell me that C4 wouldn’t be any good for me to “just do some cardio with”. (Now okay, I can look back and appreciate his accurate and legitimate advice, but in the moment OHHHH MAN I was rumbling inside.) He continues with “I mean, unless you are like actually going to lift.” As I replied to him with “Yeah. I actually CrossFit.” the expression on his face was picture worthy…   
The stereotype around women and fitness drives me OUT OF MY MIND. I can rant about this for days but I just want to say that we can lift weights and we can do it without looking like the Hulk.

And to all my wonderful ladies out there who are kicking ass and taking names, YES you can take supplements. You can have a protein shake. You can take a pre-workout. You can survive things with creatine in them and still look like a female. Still remember that our bodies do function differently than a man’s does. We will gain water weight quicker. (It sucks I know!) So be smart with what you take, always do what is most beneficial for you, but do not be afraid of supplements. Personally, I do want to see some lean muscle mass and visible muscle tone on my own body. I want to be strong. But I also DO NOT want biceps as big as someone’s thigh. I take what I need to get the figure and strength and results that I want to see  both in my workouts and after them. If you don’t want to take anything then don’t but do not let someone tell you that you shouldn’t JUST because you are a female… End Scene.

We’re Our Own Worst Enemy

So it’s Monday morning… Your alarm goes off. 5am?! Already? Reaaaally?! You automatically hit the snooze button. Then, what seems like 30 seconds later, you hear that horrible noise again. 5:30am. You sit up and rub your eyes as you look disappointingly at the clock. You glance over at your sneakers sitting across the room and then back at your pillow. A million things are rushing around your mind; thoughts of all the ways you could rationalize laying back down and curling up in a ball… Just ya know for another hour or so and then you will feel more well rested and you will definitely get up to go for a run. Maybe. I mean do you really need to do the front squat workout you know you’re in store for this morning? Should you really start your week off feeling tired? It is only Monday morning, right? You can totally make up for sleeping in today by going hard through your other workouts during the week….

True story. In fact that little anecdote paints the picture of exactly what my 5am looked like this very morning. Sometimes that inner voice, ya know that one that contradicts just about well EVERYTHING you do, tries with all its might to get the better of us. This morning, as I reluctantly got out of my warm cozy bed and strung up my bright yellow Reeboks, I played out every possible situation in my mind. Not just how today would look if I did or didn’t go to CrossFit this morning but how it would affect (negatively or positively) my entire week… and month… and next couple of months… and next year. I went from thinking about how nice it would be to just sleep a little longer today to thinking about how I will feel when I look in the mirror in a few months or fail trying a higher weight on my next strength day and then wish I had done a little more because I haven’t hit my goals.

Needless to say, I got my ass up out of that bed and killed that Death By Front Squats workout. And strangely enough I did not feel exhausted. Actually I felt amazing. I even came home to do some quick arm workouts (I mean I do have a bridesmaids dress to look stunning in by October 12th lol) and a plank or three. Even now at 10pm I feel like a million bucks PLUS my mind is at ease knowing I didn’t let my excuses get the best of me.

But enough about me… I bring it up because this is all too common a problem. It’s not because we are lazy or weak. It’s not because we don’t have motivation or believe in ourselves. It’s because WORKING OUT REGULARLY IS HARD. It’s because your mind is a funny place and it likes to play tricks on you. Just as the title of this says, you are very much your own worst enemy. Only you can control what thoughts you allow yourself to entertain, which you reject immediately, and which you let make your decisions.

Most often we are vulnerable to talking ourselves out of things. It is much easier to talk yourself out of doing something than it is to talk yourself into doing something. We have a tendency to rationalize our negative behaviors. STOP RATIONALIZING! How many times have you convinced yourself that it was okay to just go back to sleep or have that extra piece of cake or not rush yourself after work? Now, how many times have you convinced yourself to meet your friends a little later than they planned because you should probably take the time to go out of your way and go to the gym first? Exactly.

Now of course rest days are a very necessary part of any good and successful fitness regime and I will talk about those at some point. So don’t think I am telling you to never take a day off.. Your body will hate you and rebel against you, trust me haha. What I am saying is to realize when a legitimate extra rest day may be needed and when you are just giving in to temptation. Once we begin to let ourselves rationalize unneeded rest days is when we begin a slippery slope. Good habits are quick to cave and what might be one rationalized day of sleeping in can really quickly and suddenly turn into only going to the gym twice a week and eating chips in your bed at night. (Been there, done that at least a dozen times or more.) If you avoid walking that fine line and steer clear of the gray area all together, you prevent the doldrums before they are even a risk.

The easiest way to find continued success in a life of fitness is to learn how to control your thoughts. Decide right now, this very minute, that you will NOT let your mind get the best of you. I challenge each and every one of you that reads this to take back the wheel. My challenge to you is that next time you are contemplating whether you really need this workout or if you can just skip it today, talk yourself into dragging your butt to the gym! Tell yourself to just suck it up and go rather than giving in. Pump yourself up with all the reasons why you can and should kill the workout today. Be your own cheerleader… as well as your own (healthy) competition.

The hardest battles we will ever fight are against ourselves. But those are ALWAYS the sweetest victories. Never let your mind get the better of you. Make your thoughts work for you rather than against you and then you will truly begin to transform. For it’s only until you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe that you will be successful…

How bad do you want it?

Finding Your Niche in the Fitness World

Everyone is different right? We’ve all heard this day in and day out. Even though we hear it often, it tends to go in one ear and out the other. However, this is probably one of the most important things I could touch upon when talking about fitness, especially for people just starting out or trying to really get serious with their fitness. So I’ll say it one more time and let it be ingrained in your mind…

EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.

 
What this means for you is that your fitness plan, your journey, will be unique. It will different from your sibling’s, cousin’s, significant other’s, best friend’s. It will even be different from your gym partner’s. This concept is both liberating and terrifying at the same time. It means that no one can tell us that we MUST like a certain fitness program or regime. It also means that we need to own up and be accountable for our own fitness, or lack thereof. The most common blockade in front of people as they being their fitness journey is truly having noooo clue where to being. With the countless programs and infinite number of ways to put together an exercise regime the question of “what is right for me?” is so daunting that we give in before we find the answer. So, how in the world do you decide the right fitness plan for you?

 

 
Well this is an easy question to answer… TRY! Practice. Fail. Get up. Try again. Try something new. From the time we were little kids our parents and teachers have rattled off clichés at us to help prevent us from giving up on ourselves, and on the world entirely, at the ripe old age of 8. They lectured us with things like “If at first you don’t succeed…” and “Practice makes perfect.” The things that as a child we would roll our eyes at or would just frustrate us more. Well clichés are cliché for a reason aren’t they? Cause they’re right. The world of fitness is no exception to these wonderful clichés. I found this out the hard way myself.
 
Some people they say are “lucky” and things in their life just snap into place. They find all the right things and win the race first time out of the cage. Other people, like myself, need to try their hand at a million things before we get it right. (Personally, I’d call myself the lucky one cause these trials and experiences simply make the battle, and the victory for that matter, much more rewarding.) I have been around a fitness block or 2.. or 10… and I just recently found the thing that I know without a millisecond of doubt in my mind will stick with me for years to come and has already completely changed my life. I’m not going to preach CrossFit at you (for now heehee) but I am going to tell you that the essence of “finding your niche” is finding that something that makes you enjoy and appreciate every ounce of sweat and every second of hard work you put in. It is only then that you will find a long term fitness solution.
 
The biggest flaw when people are trying to get into shape is getting involved in the wrong stuff for them. This happens mainly because when people do not know what to do themselves they become followers of other people’s plan rather than their own. Do not be afraid to create your own path. If you do not love something or it is not making you feel good don’t do it! It is much less likely for us to stick with something long term if it doesn’t reaaaally fall into place.

With that said, I will tell you the top 4 things to add to your checklist when deciding if a workout regime is the right out for you:

1. Is it something that excites you?

First and foremost, it needs to be something that you will be motivated to do every day. Many times our gym routines get boring and repetitive. This is when people just kinda ya know slowly but surely stop going to the gym. I mean come on how exciting is it to walk on the same treadmill for the same distance at the same pace listening to the same music every day? There are tons of ways that you can make an ordinary gym routine bounds more exciting (and I will devote an entire post to just that at some point). You just have to be willing to do so. Find something that, even on the days where the last thing you wan to do is to get out of that cozy bed in the morning or stop at the gym before reaching your couch, keeps you excited enough for the workout for that day that you can’t imagine NOT hitting the gym.

2. Does it really challenge you? Does it push you out of your comfort zone?

I mean really really challenge you. Be honest with yourself. Are you doing yourself and your abilities justice with these workouts? I will tell you that before I started CrossFit I had NEVER touched a barbell in my life. I didn’t even know what half these lifts meant. I was shaking in my little Nikes the first time I set foot in my box (or gym for non CrossFit enthusiasts haha). So clearly I was challenging myself then but it is easy to get complacent in anything. There are people who have been CrossFitting much longer than myself who still scale down workouts I don’t or avoid heavier weights simply because they are scared to fail. Think of it like you should be able to leave each workout with pride in your eyes and know you did something that pre-fitness you would have never even imagined doing. It isn’t until you are pushing yourself past your “breaking points” that you will see yourself change.

3. Is it realistic for the long term? Is it something you can envision yourself doing not a month from now but a year from now?

There are a million fad diets and workouts that go so far to the other side of extreme that it becomes impossible for people to hold them up over a longer period of time. Very often we are impulsive and get so “gung ho” about things that we go 2,000% in and burn out much more quickly than we intended. Once we hit the burn out stage, it is easy to “give ourselves some time off” and end up never really getting back into a routine. Then eventually we are right back where we started before we decided to get fit. It is good to be enthusiastic but be weary of things that require too much too soon. Work yourself into a good routine at a pace that is right for you.

4. Is there potential for growth?

One of the most important things is the potential for growth. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting new results. This is so pertinent when talking about fitness. When I was in college, my usual day at the gym consisted of an hour on the elliptical or treadmill or stairmaster or any combination of them and then messing around with some variation of crunches. I still got my ass to the gym every day because I was mostly concerned with my appearance (like most adolescent females). Now, unless I had set some clear goals for time or distance on these cardio machines, what was I really getting out of this routine? Not a lot. That’s why it did not last past graduation. It’s been researched time and again that humans are more inclined to push themselves when there are goals to be reached. Aren’t you much more likely to get that work done at the office when there is a deadline versus if say your boss told you to do whatever you’d like? Yeah, I thought so. Think of your fitness in the same way. When we have something to work towards not only are we more likely to follow through with workouts but we are also much more likely to put in double the effort. We want those bragging rights.

So just remember, nothing is instant. Results will take time, sometimes more time than we want ideally. Do not be afraid to try everything under the sun until you find that one thing that really clicks. I tell people all the time that if you belong to a gym already go to every single class they offer. Try them all. You never know what is going to strike a cord and end up being that perfect thing that ignites a flame within you and encourages you to do everything in your power to never give up the feeling you get during a workout.

 

 
 
 


This Thing Called Fitness

How many times have you seen a professional athlete, body builder, CrossFit games competitor (in my case) achieve something and think “HOLY SH*T! I could never do that” ? How many times have you heard a trainer, coach, fitness expert, nutritionist talk about getting in shape and staying fit and think “yeah that’s easy for you to say” ?

Every single one of us are guilty of this at some point or another. Even those athletes, trainers, and experts that are giving the advice thought the same thing when they started their fitness journey. I still hear my CrossFit coach talk about competitors using adjectives like “inhuman“, “unbelievable“, “impossible“. So if this is really the case and these people we look up to have some sort of super human power that we could never hope to possess then why in the world would anyone aim to be them? Why are we even bothering? I’ll let you in on a little secret…

There is no super power. They are all human too. The people whose fitness we envy all started out just like you and me. The key is turning that envy into inspiration. That doesn’t just mean telling yourself you can do something it means really actually believing it; finding that inner strength to truly push yourself past every single breaking point or limit you thought existed and watching your body fail one day to see it be better the next. It means accepting that this may be the hardest thing you do in your life, facing that fear of change that is instilled in every one of us and grabbing the bull by it’s horns… But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Really, to begin with, that means going from a point of contemplation to a point of action.

In beginning my 6th month of CrossFit, I decided that it was time make the move from just Instagram-ing my fitness journey to putting it in writing, in black and white where people can see it, question it, judge it, and hopefully take something from it. The goal of this blog is to share with you how I went from the envious, self-loathing, hot&cold exerciser who tried to wish herself into better shape to the motivated CrossFit obsessed woman I am now. I will not pretend to be perfect or know everything but I WILL use the knowledge I’ve acquired so far, and am continuing to gain every day, along with my own progress and results in hopes to light a spark or help things click for at least one person.

This is the fitness journey of a real person written for real people…

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