Your Nutrition Blueprint

First of all, I would like to thank the mainstream media for making my job and the jobs of so many other health professionals hard. Between Carrie Underwood's Leg Workout, Kim Kardashian's Post-Baby Comeback Plan and the best detox EVER plastered across the front of every magazine in the check-out at the grocery store, most people end up more confused than anything. 

I spend a lot of my initial sessions with personal training clients invalidating most of the nutrition guidelines that they believe to be true. 

  1. You can eat after 8 PM.
  2. Carbs do not make you fat.
  3. Detoxes are irrelevant. You have kidneys & a liver -- God-given detox.
  4. Foods are not inherently "good" or "bad" and "clean" food is not magical. Foods are either whole or processed -- high/low calorie/carb/fat/protein.
  5. Diet Drinks are not worse for you than regular soda.

I could go on and on, but the underlying theme is that everyone wants to make things harder than they have to be. People want to suffer for the sake of suffering rather than doing something that will work for the long-term. P.S. - Being on a terrible diet does not make you a martyr and does not make me envious of your willpower - it makes me feel sorry for you.

Sohee Lee (www.soheefit.com) has a great blog post that discusses making your nutrition fit your lifestyle and this was a great, informational excerpt from her post:

First, let’s start with what all diets – and by diets I’m referring to the way people eat – have in common. We can all agree that, regardless of how you choose to eat, all healthy diets consist of the following:
includes a variety of fruits and vegetables
covers both macronutrient and micronutrient needs
provides sufficient protein from complete sources
allows you to maintain quality of life
Now let’s discuss what sets diets apart. The most perfect nutrition program out there isn’t going to work for you if you don’t enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy something, you’re not going to stick to it over the long haul. You’re eventually going to jump ship, and then all the hard work you put in will be for naught.
Don’t try to cram a square peg into a round hole. Rather, find the nutrition puzzle piece that fits nicely into your life, not your favorite fitness model’s.
The hard part is taking the time to figure out your unique nutrition strategy. That could be any one of the following:
Eat bigger, less frequent meals if you like to feel satiated. You might be better off eliminating snacking altogether if tiny portions do nothing but piss you off and add to your waistline. Eat smaller, more frequent meals if you like to graze throughout the day. You might like this approach if you dislike the sensation of fullness and enjoy having multiple opportunities to chow down.
Utilize intermittent fasting if you’re not hungry in the morning and don’t care for breakfast. From a lifestyle and practicality standpoint, this could work great for many of you.
Carb backload (consume the majority of your carbohydrates in the evening) if you crave carbs and calories at night.
Consume higher carbohydrates on a day-to-day basis if they give you good energy. Consume higher fats on a day-to-day basis if they fill you up. Consume higher carbohydrates on some days and higher fats on other days if you enjoy variety in your diet.
Eat less during the week when you’re busy with work and have a structured routine. Then on the weekend, you can bump up your energy intake by a few hundred calories and enjoy your social hour. Rig your numbers such that your weekly average still yields a caloric deficit if your goal is fat loss. (This is a strategy that I’ve recently been implementing with more and more clients with great success. They report that this works beautifully for them from a lifestyle standpoint.) Just make sure you’re not bouncing from starvation mode to all-out binges; be more conservative with your fluctuations in food intake.
Sprinkle in treats, like a few squares of chocolate, into everyday if that helps you stay sane. Alternatively, you can save your indulgences for more isolated occasions, such as Wednesday and Saturday evenings, when you’re out with your friends. Either way is perfectly fine so long as you stay in the moment, keep an eye on food quantity, and then move on with your life.
Count your macros and adhere to a prescribed set of numbers if you haven’t the slightest grasp of how much you’re consuming and need a little structure for the time being. This might also be appropriate for you if you’re trying to get contest-lean or if your hunger signals are out of whack. Or intuitive eat if you don’t care to spend the time playing with a nutrition app and don’t mind slower progress. Just be mindful of your portion sizes and keep an eye on how your body looks and feels over time.
There are so, so many ways to do this. I can’t tell you which path to take, and neither can anyone else. This is something that you’re going to have figure out on your own. After all, you know yourself best. You know which foods and meal sizes make you feel great and which make you feel crummy.
Pay attention. How are your energy levels after eating a given meal?
The more painless the process feels, the more likely you are to adhere to it over the long-haul. And that’s ultimately what this is all about, isn’t it?

Yes, that's a big excerpt and has some terms specific to the industry, but hopefully it gives you the gist -- Nutrition & Fitness are not one-size-fits-all. 

Just like everyone has a different body, everyone is going to prefer different things. 

When setting up meal plans or macronutrient/calorie recommendations for people, I always start with the following steps:

#1 - How many calories should you be eating to maintain your current body weight?

I calculate this by multiplying a person's bodyweight by 12-15. I say 12-15 because so many factors are involved when deciding what multiplier to use. Activity level, age, dieting history, etc. just to name a few. A good rule of thumb is to start somewhere in the middle (13 ish) and see how your weight responds.

#2 - How many calories should you be eating to lose weight?

Weight loss is as simple as calories in < calories out -- i.e. you should burn more calories than you consume each day. I do not mean go workout until you burn 1,500 calories. Your body will burn a specific number of calories each day just by breathing, sleeping and other natural processes that are vital to your ability to live. Your daily activity level also plays into this as stated above. To begin fat loss, we must create a caloric deficit, so I will typically start with 100-250 calories per day at first. So if you need 2,000 calories to maintain your body weight, I'll prescribe you 1,800 or something along those lines. 

*Note* Do NOT drop calories drastically (Oh if 2,000 is maintenance let's eat 1,000 for faster results). You will be hungry, you will most likely slip up and binge and we will be back to square one. Slow progress is sustainable progress.

#3 - Food preferences: Do you typically like higher carbohydrate foods or higher fat foods? Tracking is an easy way to determine this as you can see where most of your calories come from. For example, I prefer higher fats. I enjoy eating peanut butter, avocado, whole eggs and fattier meats versus potatoes, grains and other carbs. Most people are opposite but this is helpful to know when trying to achieve lasting results. Also, likes and dislikes. If you hate fish, don't eat it. It is not magical and is most likely raised in a foreign country off of human waste. 

#4 - Eating habits - Meal Frequency, schedule and lifestyle all come into play here. Do you like/have time to eat breakfast or would you rather have a bigger lunch? Are you someone that would rather eat smaller meals more frequently or have 3 big meals? One is not better than the other, but can make a difference when making a meal plan you can stick to.

#5 - Flexibility - Some clients cannot bear the thought of eating the same thing every day and then others could pass as robots. Again, tracking calories allows one to learn how to be flexible with their diet, but some people like the simplicity of routine. Decide where you are on the spectrum and make it work. For example, I hang out in the middle. Most of my meals can stay the same for several days or even weeks, but I want to cook dinner most nights for my husband. So I plan ahead and make it fit into my daily calories/macros. 

Are you overwhelmed yet? Probably even with just 5 steps. You can't go from crawling to walking overnight so be patient with yourself. Understand that you will not be perfect. You will not be great every day. But let a slip-up become a failure. Small victories when wars. Celebrate the little things but don't sweat the small stuff. 

How to Start Planning Meals

Some people hate the thought of counting calories. And that is completely okay (it will make continued progression a little tricky but it's doable). Structure 3 meals a day using the following:

  • 3-4 oz serving of lean protein (chicken, fish, turkey, lean beef or pork)
  • 1 serving of a carbohydrate (potatoes, rice, cereal, oats, etc. etc.)
  • 1 serving of green veggies (broccoli, salad greens, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower)
  • 1 fat serving (this is where things get tricky - check labels for meats and carb sources and make sure they are not higher fat first. Some beef can be higher fat and dark meat chicken or turkey will be. If you choose a higher fat meat, skip the fat source)

Next, figure out your snacks. Stick to higher-protein options - greek yogurt, tuna, protein bars/shakes or milk. Aim for 2-3 snacks per day.

If you need a treat, calculate it in. I love something sweet before bed so I always make room for low-fat ice cream, a PowerCrunch bar or a piece of candy. Find something lower calorie that will satisfy you, i.e. dark chocolate, fat free pudding, or Skinny Cow products. Don't deprive yourself. Figure out what can take the edge off and have that. 

Aim for 8+ glasses of water a day (Rule of Thumb: Your bodyweight in ounces. 150 lbs = 150 oz)

And you're done! It's that easy. Don't make it harder than it has to be and don't think you have to be miserable! Get creative with your food and make the things you enjoy healthier. Life is too short to eat food you hate (TRUST ME I KNOW! Tilapia can go extinct as far as I'm concerned)

If you're still overwhelmed or would like additional guidance, please contact me via email or Facebook to discuss nutrition counseling. I set up meal plans for a relatively low cost with adjustments. Or if it's a simple question - I'm happy to answer those!

 

New Year, New Me?

Welcome to Day 2 of the next trip around the sun. 2016 is behind us and tis the season of resolutions, gym memberships and a new you. 

Honestly, I can't say I have any resolutions this year. Maybe some goals, better time management, financial sense, etc. but no real habits to break/start. I am going to be shifting towards a new phase for my own training and nutrition and am honestly looking forward to it!

Since my two bodybuilding shows in April, I have been "Reverse Dieting" -- slowly adding in calories and decreasing cardio to rebuild my metabolism and maintain a lower body fat -- versus just going back to normal eating patterns immediately post show. When we diet down, our metabolism adapts to the new body fat levels and slows, so if we immediately add in an influx of calories, our bodies will store body fat rather quickly (i.e. why low carb diets typically fail). For about 8 weeks I was able to stay within 5 lbs of my stage weight, but life happens and vacations happen and I did gain a little more than I intended. I honestly cannot remember a time before this past year that I purposely ate more and was okay with gaining weight and I'm mentally stronger for it. It's amazing how content you can be when you don't focus so much on your outward appearance! However, I can definitely tell my body composition has changed for the better and I'm excited to uncover what all this heavy lifting has done for me. I now eat close to 2,500 calories a day, 300 grams of carbs and do zero cardio. That's right - zilch. The point of this is so that my body can get back to a level of homeostasis before we begin to cut body fat so hopefully it will respond better.

So with that, I will be shifting to a fat loss phase in the coming weeks and I plan to document that as much as I can via this blog including my starting stats with regular updates. After pretty much period of very inconsistent tracking and eating since Thanksgiving, my goal for this week is to track consistently every day and see where my weight is at the end of the week (I honestly haven't stepped on a scale since Thanksgiving either...yikes!). I'll check-in with my coach after that and we will make the initial calorie cuts and any added cardio if needed to get things moving. 

I don't really have any deadlines for my cut so the goal is to lose the weight slowly and maintain as much strength as possible. Once I get to a comfortable body fat percentage, we will begin reversing again. I will most likely compete in a powerlifting meet in the Spring, so I'll have to keep in mind making weight for that, but we will worry about that when the time comes. For now, I'm just focused on being healthy and being strong! 

What are your New Year's Resolutions? 

What is Online Coaching?

We live in a world where we can do almost everything electronically. We have access to people and information all across the world at the click of a button. While people have mixed feelings about the infiltration of the digital world, the amount of resources available to us is quite remarkable. 

As a result, many services once performed face-to-face can now be conducted online. Personal Training or "coaching" is one such service. In the past, when one wanted help in the gym or with body composition goals, they went to their local gym, found a personal trainer or sought out the most fit person in the building (Don't lie -- we've all done it!). With the help of social media, many trainers have taken their business online where they create training programs, nutrition counseling and other fitness related services that they can then send to their clients digitally and then the client proceeds to execute it. 

Essentially with online training, I will get basic information from you like weight, age, lifestyle, food preferences, etc. and will create a training plan and nutrition plan customized to you based off of this information. I will send it to you and you will execute it on your own, checking in with me once a week or so with measurements and pictures. If progress stalls, we will adjust a variable of your program to help get things moving again. I'll also be available via e-mail or text whenever you have a question, a concern or just need a little motivation or accountability. 

When I first became interested in fitness, Instagram was a relatively new thing and Facebook had not reached the level of popularity it has now, but both were thriving. As I began to consider competing in a bodybuilding show, I used social media to find a coach. I had a basic knowledge of fitness and nutrition, but I knew in order to succeed I would need the accountability and guidance of a coach. Someone else can hold you to a higher standard than you hold yourself to (i.e. - keep you from quitting!). I emailed several people that I had found online, some of which were in completely different states. However, I knew with this being my first go-round, I wanted someone fairly close by that could see me in-person if needed. I hired a coach about an hour away, she sent me my plans via e-mail but met me in person as needed. 

Since this initial experience, I've worked with two other coaches via online training. One in Idaho and one in Florida. I think the best part about online training is that if you're serious about whatever sport you're training for, you have access to the best coaches in the world. I currently work with Paul Revelia of Team Pro Physique in Tampa, Florida and he has helped me drop body fat several times successfully, prepped me through two bodybuilding shows and coached me to my first Powerlifting meet. I've since been able to meet him in-person, but I never felt that I lacked anything by using online coaching versus in-person. 

As a trainer myself, I value the one-on-one interactions I have with my clients on a daily basis. I love learning about them, hearing about their day and having some really great conversation. However, with training being my second job, I do not have the availability to meet everyone that wants to work with me in-person for an hour once or twice a week. As a solution, I am going to offer online services where I can still create a plan that will help you be successful, hold you accountable and answer questions/concerns as needed. 

In order for online training to be successful, there a few things that need to be considered:

1. Can you commit to going to the gym/working out at home on your own as many times as prescribed by your plan? 

2. Can you be honest with yourself and with me about your adherence, scale weight, etc.? (it's very easy to fudge a number when sending a check-in, but fudging makes it difficult to adjust your plan)

3. Are you willing to research and learn as needed to understand and complete your plan? (I think one of the big things that made me successful using online training was that I wanted to learn WHY I was doing things. I did research on my own, watched videos of exercises I was struggling with and asked for help when needed.)

Adherence and consistency will be the biggest contributors to success with any program whether in-person or online. In-person training is great for the training portion, but those clients are still responsible for sticking to their diet the other 23 hours/day they are not in the gym. Also, it's important to remember that sustainable results is slow results. You didn't gain the weight overnight and you won't lose it overnight, so it's important that you be realistic and be patient. The picture for this post is a span of 13 weeks. And sometimes it can take even longer than that. So keep going, don't let a small setback derail your entire program.

The check-in process is meant to serve as a tool for me, as well as keep you accountable. If we haven't seen much progress in two weeks, it lets me know it's time to switch something up. Also, if you know you have to check-in with me on Monday morning, it might make you more mindful of what you spend your weekend doing. My coaches have always asked for pictures with my check-ins (front and back in a bikini or shorts and a sports bra) so they have a visual tool to gauge progress. Sometimes the scale doesn't move but pictures show visible progress. Pictures will not be shared with anyone besides me without your consent and they're not mean to be glamour shots. I've rolled out of bed and taken many pictures with bed head and swollen eyes! If an online client is local, I will meet in-person as needed. 

It's also important to remember that I'm always an e-mail or a text away. There have been several times I've been in a slump and have had to touch base with my coach for help or a swift kick in the butt as needed. 

YOU will be the biggest obstacle or ally to your success. Don't stand in your own way and definitely don't let others stand in your way. You can do anything you set your mind to if you make a plan and stick to it!

Consistency is Key

I think the biggest misconception about fitness/weight loss/muscle gain is that you have to suffer. And you don't. Sure, exercise of any type is not fun for some people. And that's okay. But it doesn't have to be miserable. 

The number one thing that I've seen contribute to success is consistency. Making something an integral part of each day or most days, to where it doesn't seem sporadic. This is key when it comes to "dieting." I had been in the gym for years on a fairly regular basis but it wasn't until I was consistent with my diet that I really saw results.

This is why tracking calories seems to work so well for people. Our bodies thrive off on consistency. Do you ever notice how much better you feel when you have a routine? Like that cup of hot coffee every morning at 7 am that allows you to form complete sentences. Without it, you feel off. Not quite right. Because your body expects it. 

I'm not always consistent with my diet. Especially around the holidays. I usually get very lazy and unmotivated and just kind of do what I want. There's nothing wrong with that. However, I can attest that everything else is better when I am. My digestive system works better, I feel better, my face is clearer, etc. And even at my best, a lot of times I'm only consistent 80% of the time. I always tell people "If you can be on your game Monday-Friday, 2-3 off meals on the weekend won't kill you" and it's true. You might not get to your goal as quickly, but you can still get there.

People come to me for personal training or coaching and say "Well how long do you think it will take before I start seeing results?" and I want to immediately say "Well how long can you be consistent?" Something's gotta give. If you can get on a routine with exercise and really bust it in the gym, that's great, but you can't leave and go face plant in a doughnut every day. 

What helped me get consistent? First, think about how hard you work in the gym. Especially if you don't particularly enjoy it. Do you really want to go erase that hard work with a day of careless eating? I know I sure don't. Second, it's convienent. If I plan ahead and have food prepared each day, I don't have to waste time and energy figuring out what's for lunch. Third, it saves money. Which in turn can pay for your gym membership, those training sessions that you'd like to have, or that new gym outfit. 

Make your goals a priority, and consistency will come easily. You will have an easier time saying no to the office cookies and a harder time canceling your gym session. You don't have to be perfect by any means. But you need to be diligent. 

19 Days and Counting...

There are 19 days left in 2016. It feels like 2015 was only 19 days ago. Funny when you look back how fast time flies. But it's also funny how a 12 week fat loss phase feels like it lasts 12 years. But when you take a second and think about how fast this year has gone by, think about how much closer (or even past) your goals you could be if you had started January 1, 2016. 

January marks a new year and for most people, the quest to be a new you. Whether you want to be stronger, be skinnier, be smarter, be more successful, etc. etc., chances are you're thinking about what you'll start on January 1. The biggest problem I see with New Year's Resolutions is the lack of a plan. People say "Oh, I'll start in the New Year" and before you know it (here's that time thing again), it's New Year's and you have no idea how to even start. And before you know it, you've given up and are going to wait until next week, next month, or even next year. 

Don't let this be another year of failed resolutions. Regardless of what your goal is, start making a plan NOW. You don't have to start today, but if you have a plan in place when you do start, your chances of success will be much greater. It doesn't have to be a plan that I gave you, the internet gave you, or your friend gave you. Figure out what YOUR plan should be, what YOU can stick with and execute it to the best of your ability.

Be flexible. No plan ever goes off without a hitch. It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. One slip-up isn't going to derail your progress. Take each one as a learning experience, re-group, adjust your plan, and move forward. If you realize you don't like something, don't do it. Make it fun, enjoy the process and reward yourself for the small victories. 

And be patient. Just because you don't see results in a week, doesn't mean you won't see them the next week. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your goal. Have you ever gotten a PHD in a week? Didn't think so. Small successes add up to big victories and you will be amazed what you an accomplish in just a few weeks if you don't quit. 

I want success for every person that asks me for help. And unfortunately I can usually tell within a few conversations whether they will be successful or not. I will help someone as much as I possibly can within my scope of practice, but there's got to be some initiative. You've got to want it and have the desire to reach your goals. There's a difference in wanting it and wanting it enough. That difference will be what wakes you up early each morning. It will be what gets you through long days. It will be what helps you plan ahead. It's not going to be easy. But I can promise you it will be worth it. 

So start working on your plan. 19 days and counting to make your plan. Heck, start early if you want! But don't do it alone and don't do it unprepared. Find someone that can help you and trust them. Find someone that can hold you accountable and confide in them. And find someone that can push you and let them motivate you. 

Over the next 19 days I want to share strategies and tips that have helped me set goals and reach them. I'm not perfect and there are many goals I haven't reached yet. There are many goals I've worked for and failed. If there wasn't, I wouldn't be human. Share your goals for the New Year with me in the comments below or email me. I want to be excited for you and hold you accountable. Let's do this 2017 thing together!