How many meals are YOU eating…?

How many times do you hear the classic phrase ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day!’, or how about ‘if you have to skip a meal, make sure it’s NOT breakfast’?!?  Probably a lot.  And you know what- it’s true.  But it’s also important to fuel your body several times a day, not just first thing in the morning.

Now why is it actually important eat more FREQUENTLY throughout the day? Not necessarily 6 times, but not necessarily just 3 either.  More frequently…and here is why!

1. It helps stabilize your metabolism…not SPEED it up.  Think about this, if you’re eating at a constant and consistent level throughout the day AKA not overstuffing and never feeling starved, your metabolism will remain at a more steady rate as well as never having deficiency. More calories at one time are too much for your body to handle!! The best way to jump-start your metabolism is to exercise. Exercise will aid in reducing body fat as well as putting an increase to your lean muscle mass. By increasing lean muscle mass, your metabolic rate will increase and aid in the actual weight loss process. Muscle tissue uses more calories than fat tissue because it has a higher metabolic rate!! So get to lifting!!! 🙂

2. Smaller meals helps to keep your insulin levels at a steady state. Understanding how to control and balance your blood sugar is the most important aspect in controlling the cravings and actual fat loss!  The most effective way of doing this is through our smaller meals and more frequent eating! Eating the right types of carbohydrates, with lean proteins and small amounts of “good” fats, will stabilize your blood sugar and insulin levels preventing energy spikes and crashes.  No more roller coaster cravings!

3. Listen to your body! Don’t force yourself to eat food when you aren’t hungry. If you are trying to eat multiple small meals, try to avoid eating when you are completely full. Learn to listen to your body and make your meals even smaller if you find yourself feeling overly stuffed. Try a 200 calorie meal/snack opposed to a 300-350 calorie meal. As long as you are meeting your nutritional requirements, don’t increase your caloric intake! That leads to weight gain. But make sure you are getting the proper nutrients at each meal. Also, you NEED  to avoid eating empty calories and processed snack foods while you are sitting at your desk or driving to and from work.  Even though they are quick and easy- they lack nutritional value! Foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories, just cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop, creating the roller coaster cravings I talked about previously! And what this will do is make you hungrier a lot sooner! Instead, try to make each meal balanced with complex carbohydrates (whole grains!), and a lean protein!  It’s all about choices– PLANNING AND ROUTINE!!

Make some changes and figure out what woks for YOU! 

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Key Lime Protein Bar Recipe

I periodically find really good recipes, and sort of tweek them to make my own.  Lots of trial and error goes into these, but when you hit it right, they’re delicious!!

Key Lime Protein Bars 

Ingredients

1 whole egg

2 egg whites

8 oz fat-free cream cheese, very soft

2 Tbsp. Non-fat plain greek yogurt

1/2 c instant non-fat dry milk

1 tsp grated fresh lime zest

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 c 1% milk

3/4 c vanilla protein powder- I like Syntha6 Vanilla Milkshake or Jay Robb Vanilla

3/4 c Stevia

2 Tbsp reduced-fat unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Whisk egg and egg whites in small bowl.

3. Combine cream cheese and all remaining ingredients with a blender.

4. Once smooth, add eggs and blend until fully mixed.

5. Coat an 8×8 cooking pan with cooking spray.

6. Pour in batter.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center. Makes about 16 bars.

Nutrition Facts (Approximate)

7 g. protein

70 calories per bar

1 g. fat

3.5 g. carbs

Base of the Pyramid

Dieting can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when trying to make changes to your day to day routine as well as changing the way you look.  I call it the ‘base of the  pyramid’ for a reason; if you don’t change the way you fuel your body, you will NOT change the way you look.  It is the foundation and the base of molding your body towards your desired goal. Whether it is to lose weight or gain muscle, neither one of these can OR will be accomplished without changing what you put into your body.

Plan.  You have got to plan!  Plan your meals.  Pack your food.  Have it ready to go with you in the morning.  It’s that simple.  It is always much harder to grab healthy and nutritious meals ‘on the go’. So without having to even question what you are putting into your mouth, KNOW what you are putting into your body by preparing it YOURSELF! You can always prepare larger quantities of food and freeze remaining portions for later convenience.

Routine.  Everyone THRIVES on routine.  This includes routine of working out, when you go to sleep, how many hours of sleep you get, and what you are feeding your body!  Why do you think it’s always hard to come back from vacation?! Because you fall out of routine…!

Watch your sugar! Believe me, I love candy as much as the next guy, but PLEASE limit your intake of sugary foods! With Easter right around the corner, it’s hard to not walk into a grocery store without seeing Chocolate bunnies, cadbury cream eggs, and PEEPS!  And I hate to say it, but sugar include any refined-grain products such as white bread and white pasta. Sugar, our No.1 additive culprit, is added to almost everything! Just one daily 12-ounce can of soda (160 calories) can add up to 16 pounds over the course of a year.

Protein.  Getting enough protein helps preserve muscle mass which also helps to encourage fat burning while keeping you feeling full. So be sure to include healthy protein sources, like yogurt, cheese, nuts, or beans, at meals and snacks. Or try a protein shake! My favorite protein is by Jay Robb.  He has 5 flavors, all which are very tastey.  You can just mix them with water or milk or even almond milk.  Get creative, throw half a banana in it, or a scoop or peanut butter.  You can find his protein powder at Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe.

I sometimes feel like I am beating a dead horse when i talk about diet.  But, I just know from experience upon myself, my clients, and my studies, that dieting is just as, if not MORE important than your actual workouts.  That is why i put so much emphasis on it with the people I work with because it is such an intricate part of reaching your goal.  I can’t watch everything you put in your mouth, and I can’t go to the grocery store with you every Sunday afternoon, or fix all your meals for you and package them up, but I can give you the tools to make you one step closer to your goals and making you a success.

How do you measure up?

I was going to change the name of my blog to something else due to the fact I am not MMA competing anymore; but on the same hand, I left it open-ended because I am always in pursuit of another goal! Can’t ever fall content, right?!

I am really going to start diving into some topics that are going to focus a lot on workouts and periodization, proper nutrition, I’ll throw some recipes in there, and even show you some videos of the work outs that I am currently doing.

One of the first topics I am going to cover is ways to measure your progress.  Whether you are looking to lose weight, gain muscle, lose inches, run a mile, hit the baseball further, or just feel and look better, there are always ways to measure how you are improving. 

I would say that 90% of the people I train, male and female, are looking for ways to lose weight.  I know, I know, it’s that stubborn mid section or those pesky bingo arms for us ladies, and the famous ‘beer gut’ for guys. But how can you tell when you are making improvements? You’ve been coming to the gym now for 2 weeks and you haven’t seen a number change on the scale. As hard as it is to not focus on that number, you just can’t! If I told you all how much I weighed, some of your jaws might drop.  You have to look at how your body holds onto fat as well as muscle mass. It’s all about ratios.

The scale does sometimes lie!

The scale measures weight — not overall fitness– and it doesn’t differentiate between fat and muscle. Muscle is denser than fat and tends to weigh more. A scale can be great.  But it’s not the ‘be all end all’ for progress!!

What about body fat?

There are several ways to measure your body fat, which is, basically your muscle to fat ratio. The most accurate is hydrostatic weighing.  Of all the techniques this is the most accurate AND the most expensive. Basically all you do is let out all the air from your lungs and submerge yourself in a tank of water. Because fat is more buoyant than muscle tissue, the weight that is recorded during this process is of the denser body tissue. But who has a tank just sitting around with these tools connected to it?! Not many places.  Another option is the Bio-Electrical Impedance Analysis or a BIA.  By doing your body fat this way, a low-level electrical current is run through the body. Water is a conductor of electricity and the more water in the body, the quicker the current will travel through. Since muscle is composed mostly of water, this reading gives a fairly accurate measure of fat-to-muscle ratio. And it’s harmless and quick!! The third way is by calipers. This is also known as the skin-fold pinch test, and it involves using a caliper to measure body fat by pinching the skin at various areas on the body. People store fat in different places, so multiple pinches are needed to get an accurate reading.  Men and women get pinched in different areas as well because we tend to store fat in different areas more than others.

What exactly is a BMI?

The body mass index, or BMI, is another means for measuring body fat by calculating a ratio of height to weight. The basic formula is calculated by dividing your height in meters squared into your weight in kilograms.  I am NOT a fan of this form of measure.  It doesn’t do athletes ANY justice, or anyone with any sort of muscle mass to their body.  For example, a person who has a lot of muscle mass or water volume (such as an athlete) will APPEAR to be overweight, while a person who has a small frame and lean muscle may appear to be underweight. I am overweight according to this form of measurement! :(

Basic BMI guidelines are as follows:

  • You are underweight if your percentage of body fat is less than 18.5
  • Your weight is normal if your percentage of body fat is 18.5 – 24.9
  • You’re overweight if your percentage of body fat is 25 – 29.9
  • You’re obese if your percentage of body fat is 30 or greater

Here is a link to figure out your BMI! http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

Take pictures!!

 Who cares!! You don’t have to throw on a bikini or rip the shirt off.  Just have your trainer or your friend or your husband or your girlfriend snap pictures of you.  Nothing fancy,  A couple pics every 4-6 weeks.  That way you can actually have a visual of your change!!  I have taken pictures of my progress in the last 16 months and it was one of the best things I ever did! I can see where I have improved and where I still have to work on making changes.
Don’t forget that there are dozens of other ways to measure your progress; don’t get stuck on statistics and numbers.  Think about your clothes and how they fit.  Your stamina and endurance.  Changes to your diet that you have stayed regimented to.  Compliments that you have received! Being able to walk up stairs without being winded.  Changes to your lifestyle, like quitting smoking or having ice cream only once a week.  These are all PROGRESS and steps in the right direction!!  One of the hardest things to instill is becoming accustomed to a lifestyle change and developing a strong routine.  Once you get that down, everything else finds it’s way to fall into place much easier.

Total Body Blast/Time

I was training one of my clients this morning. She is young, only 20, but none the less, she is a very inspiring, motivated, and talented lady. As we were running, IN THE RAIN mind you!, we began talking about how complacent some people are in life and with themselves. Not necessarily lazy, or un-motivated (although I am sure that is part of it!), but just complacent with where they are at this given point in time. Here I have a 20 year old who is working 2 jobs, both jobs relating to where she wants to go with her career, while also going to school and STILL she manages to meet her fitness goals, where I have some people and clients that can’t commit to coming into the gym more than twice a week. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
But anyways- I want to get the point across that there is ALWAYS time for fitting your workout in. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out, make you sore for 3 day workout, but it does have to be WORTHWHILE. If you are one of those people who are always pressed for time, always in a hurry or have something better to do, make the most of the time you do have and make your workout efficient. Do a lot of combined or compound moves, such as a squat and press, so you can kill two birds with one stone. Add in cardio intervals of mountain climbers or high knees in between each strength exercise.

Here are two simple circuits that you can do next time you find yourself in a pinch. Do each circuit for 30 seconds, then move along to the next exercise.

Circuit 1
-Jumping Jacks
-Bent over rows
-Mountain Climbers
-Alternating Hammer Curls
-Jumping Jacks
-Plie’ Squats
-Rest for 60 to 90 seconds and move to circuit 2

Circuit 2
-Overhead tricep extensions (or skull crusher)
-Mountain Climbers
-Push ups
-Side to side quick jumps
-Overhead shoulder press
-Mountain Climbers
-COOL DOWN!!

If you are feeling feisty and have extra time- go through one or both of the circuits again!

With the strength exercises- use weight that becomes a struggle about 15 to 20 seconds in. If your not struggling- it’s not heavy or challenging enough 🙂

Remember, no excuses, just results! Enjoy!!

Powertec Spokesmodel

I know, I know, another voting thing… I am so sick of seeing these all over Facebook, myself included! I just couldn’t pass this opportunity up though! Powertec Inc., is the World’s Best Selling Plate Loaded Home Gym. It is a high-quality brand that already boasts a loaded cast of world-class fitness models and athletes as its partners, and now they are searching for ladies and gents who look and live the part to join their team.  The winner will have the opportunity to be on the cover of their product catalog and monthly newsletters.  Pretty cool!!

If I win, I would get a one week membership to work out at the World Famous Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, home to legendary bodybuilders and fitness models. Not to mention a full day’s worth of photo and video shoot with internationally-acclaimed fitness photographer Natalie Minh, this is all along with the  catalog, advertisements and infomercials and any other opportunities that arise.

So please take the time to ‘like’ Powertec and then ‘LIKE’ my photo on facebook!  It only takes one second, and I am forever grateful!!  Every vote counts! 🙂  I am picture number 8 on the Powertec facebook page- or just click the picture below.  Thanks again for all the support.


 

 

The deal on protein

So you always here about high protein diets,  protein drinks and shakes, and how protein ‘helps build muscle’.  But what exactly IS protein and why do I need it?!

Plain and simple, protein is one of the most basic building blocks of the human body. Protein is actually about 16 percent of our total body weight, sometimes it can be even more.  Proteins are made from amino acids; aminos usually are referred to as the ‘basic building blocks of protein’.  And protein can come from both PLANT and ANIMAL resources. Although our bodies are usually good at ‘recycling’ protein, we use protein constantly, so it is important to continually replace it. That is why it is SO important to replenish protein by having a shake or a hearty meal AFTER you work out to replace the depletion and re-build the broken down muscles from lifting weights.

So, why do I need protein? 

  • Build Muscle: Like I said before, muscles get broken down from workouts and lifts, therefore you need protein to build up muscle, eating enough protein will ensure your body has what it needs to build new one.
  • Maintain Muscle. Getting your body the protein it needs will help improve muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown when you exercise.
  • Fat Loss. Protein has an extremely thermic effect: your body burns more calories digesting proteins than it does burning carbs or fat. And another perk, you feel full longer after eating a protein-rich meal! 🙂 TOTAL bonus!

Protein is fairly easy to come by.  Meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts all have substantial amounts of protein.

Here are some of my favs!

Hamburger patty, 4 oz – about 26 grams protein

Steak, 6 oz – about 40 grams

Chicken breast, 4 oz. – about 30 grams protein (dice it up and eat it cold/in a ziploc)

Tuna, 6 oz can – about 40 grams of protein (super easy to carry!)

Egg, large – 6 grams protein (try hard boiled!)

Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons – about 8 grams protein (try to get LOW SUGAR, or NATURAL!)

Almonds, 1/4 cup- about 8 grams  (great to pack in your bag or purse!)

Now that you know a little more about what protein exactly is, and how to get it, how much do you need?

For general strength gains and muscle increase, you should aim for 1.0-1.6 grams per pound of body weight.  For those that are dieting, .4-1.0 grams per pound of body weight.  This again is a GENERAL rule, for those that are seriously dieting or competing, it is best to add in other factors such as weight, age, workout routines, etc.
My favorite protein shake, which I had mentioned in a previous post, is ‘Jay Robb’ brand whey protein.  It’s all natural, great tasting, and you can make your own recipes and get creative with it. It comes in 5 different flavors.  Chocolate and Vanilla are staples in my kitchen. My favorite one is the dreamsicle flavored protein mixed with almond milk and a dash or orange juice.  SO GOOD!! 🙂

Olympic Bar Workout

A great and challenging workout that can be done with minimal equipment is what I call the “Olympic Bar Workout”.  All you need is either a barbell (if you are a teenager, a female, or anyone new to weightlifting) or an Olympic bar.  An Olympic bar is the bar that you commonly see on a bench press or squat rack and it weighs 45 pounds.  If the Olympic bar is a little heavy for you, grab a 20 or 30 pound barbell (not dumbbell!) and use that until you can complete the workout with the true Olympic bar.  From the Olympic bar, you can add plates onto each side once you improve.

The workout is as follows:

*20 deadlifts

*20 squats

*20 Split Lunges

*20 upright rows

*20 shoulder presses

It doesn’t seem too challenging, but the goal is to complete these 100 repetitions as quickly as possible, but remembering to have a controlled motion with every rep.

Go through each of these 5 exercises, 3 times to start, working your way up to 5 full circuits. Keep track of your times and see if you can repeat each circuit within a fairly close time of one another.  As for rest time, aim for 60-90 seconds in between each full circuit.

The reason why this workout is so effective is because the smaller muscle groups often act as synergists or assisting muscles for the larger muscle groups during certain exercises. Therefore, if the smaller muscles get fatigued first, when you perform the exercises for the larger muscle groups later in the workout, those exercises are likely to be less effective.  So in this workout we concentrate on the bigger muscle groups of the body.  They also tend to burn more calories and are good for increasing your heart rate.

R.o.W.

Okay people! Here is my next recipe for ya!!  Healthy, full of protein, and again, easy to transport and can be eaten cold or hot!! This recipe will usually make about 15-20 medium sized meatballs.

No excuses for you not to eat healthily!! 🙂

Chesapeake Turkey Meatballs

½ pound of lean ground turkey (you can also use beef or chicken!)

1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon diced minced onion (fresh is the best!)
1-2 tablespoons of old bay seasoning (depending on your taste!)
1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (Gant and Safeway have them!, check by the spices)
2 tablespoons low fat or fat free milk
salt and pepper to taste
dash or two of hot sauce (if so desired!)
Mold together, bake on 425 for 15 minutes.  DONE!!  Super easy to make!  I eat them as a snack as well- not just for a  meal.

 

This is one of my favorite recipes to make.  Easy, full of protein, and tastes great.

Pair with a bowl of broccoli or a veggie of your choice and you have a dinner ready in less than 20 minutes.

Let me know what you think! 🙂  Enjoy!

Interview with Da Fam!

I had the opportunity to do an interview with my ol’ classmate from Annapolis High School (class of 2003!) For those out there who don’t know Joshua Johnson (aka Zoe), he’s a 24 year old guy from Eastport, which is located in Annapolis, Maryland.  After a very successful career at Annapolis High School, Joshua continued on to play basketball at Bowie State University.  After Bowie State, he then received a contract to play for KK Zagorje in the country of Slovenia.  After Slovenia, he then went to Ireland to play for the UCC Demons.
Zoe now works for ‘Da Fam Inc.’ where they’re focus is quality branding, representing the finest athletes and healthy lifestyles, as well as developing the best music talent around.  We catch up on Personal training, my mma training, fitness modeling, and life in general. It was great to do an interview and re-connect, as well as support, an ol’ classmate and friend.
Check out my interview with Zoe here!

This was a great interview for those of you who follow me to catch up on what is going on in my ‘world’ right now!