Thursday, July 10, 2014

My "Secret" (Transformation Pics Included)

Hey Fit Fam ...

During my fitness journey, I would say I get at least one message a day asking "What is your this .. What is your that. What is your secret. Tell me what to do to get abs. How can I get your booty". After The Flex Lewis Classic I started getting quite a few a day. I try to answer all of you .. but please know I don't see all my social media messages, so I thought it would be easier to spend (a lot) of time and write up a big long (and probably too wordy) blog.

I want to first say that I'm very sorry to inform you...THERE IS NO SECRET!!!  You just have to put in the effort, the time, make the sacrifices and stick to the basics, but I know you all are wanting "more" than I'll do my best to answer.

First off ... I want to make it clear that I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist or anything of the sort. I don't have a degree in any of this, and I"m not "qualified" to answer any of your questions in the first place. I just have always led a healthy overall life, had trainers, have a husband that was a body builder, have an amazing coach/mentor, fit friends, am a research freak and know what works for ME.

I will start by saying if you are totally new at this .. please don't fall into the trap of any of this 3 days that, 7 days this, 21 day, mass marketed diet plan - crap. It's crap. Go into this with the mindset that it may be NEXT summer before you have the body you want .. but you will have it in a healthy way and KEEP IT!!! Crash diets of any kind DO NOT WORK if you want a BODY FOR LIFE!!! My suggestion would be to find someone qualified that can help you - at least for a month - but do your research. Many of these folks are only out to make money, get you to buy something, or sign some contract and don't really care about your long term goals or health. Find someone legit to simply help you get started. Make it clear from the beginning that you are looking to develop a good base nutrition plan, want to learn what foods are good and bad, what methods may work for you and your schedule and have someone that can teach you how to work out and use equipment properly --- then YOU can really go from there on your own! It just takes dedication, will power and the ability to self motivate. NEVER pencil in your workouts. You MUST make them as important and "inked in" as anything else you do.

If it isn't in your budget, you can do all of this without a professional - - just do research ( is great), watch videos and experiment with some trial and error. I would also suggest downloading one of the great smart phone apps out there that at least track your food. Some people have NO IDEA just how much they are eating. That said .. a calorie isn't a calorie. I know that is the philosophy of programs that many people swear by...but I don't believe that. Sorry .. I just don't believe you are gonna be healthy when you give yourself a set amount of "macros" and eat whatever you want as long as it "fits" into your numbers allowed.  I know people have success doing this .. I know competitors that get ripped doing this even but it doesn't work for everyone and it almost always backfires!!  I think eating good foods daily and having everything else as a nice splurge once a week is key!!  I also think that for everyday healthy eaters .. it's totally okay to give into your cravings in moderation. If you want chocolate .. think of something healthy to ease your cravings. You have flexibility to do that when you aren't on a competition prep like me .. so do it!! Just remember .. PORTION AND MODERATION. Also learn the difference between REALLY craving something and it being all mental. Give yourself time to walk away and see if the craving is still there. If it is .. then figure out a way to make something healthier .. or have a very small portion of it to ease your craving if it gets to be "too much". But again .. it is almost always MIND OVER MATTER!!

Okay ... here are some of the questions I"m getting and my answers.

QUESTION ONE:  "Send me your diet plan" or "What do you eat for each meal".  Well my answer to that is ... I don't "diet".  I simply eat healthy. I eat carbs, I eat fruit, I eat fat .. I eat a lot of food!! I don't deprive myself and I cheat (not binge) once a week. I don't just do this for contest prep ... this is year round for me. Eating healthy/basic IS normal for me now. That said .. I do have a more structured nutrition plan that I follow during contest prep and that plan changes every week to every two weeks, so my variety isn't what it would normally be. So no ...  I can't "send you my plan". Not only would that be unfair to my coach/mentor - it would do you NO GOOD because my plan is based on my goals, my weight, my workouts, my lifestyle, my cravings, etc.  In fact, if you ate what I did you could even GAIN weight potentially!! Each persons food and macro needs are different. I don't know your activity level, how hard you go at the gym, your body fat percentage, your weight, how much muscle you have vs fat, how much will power you have, etc. So I can't tell you how many calories/fat/carbs you should eat, exactly how much of something you should have, etc, I don't even count my own calories ...  but I can tell you the structure of HOW you should eat that is basic for anyone wanting to be fit.  You ready .. for the big secret ..... YOU HAVE TO EAT!!!!!!! It really is that simple, lol!! I had a girl tell me she juices once a day and has a sushi roll every day...that is it!! I've had another say they have salads for most their meals and a fruit smoothie for breakfast. Both claimed they are afraid to eat anything more. Ummm .. can you imagine how LOW their metabolism is from only eating a couple times a day??? You HAVE TO EAT COMPLETE BALANCED MEALS ... and I find my body reacted better when I ate balanced meals in smaller portions all day long!!!! The biggest change I noticed was when I stopped doing protein bars, balanced snacks and replaced those "meals" - with TRUE MEALS!  I know this isn't right for everyone. Eating 6-7 times a day is hard. But the goal is to eat every 3 hours ... even if HAS to be 3 meals and 3 balanced snacks. But again .. 6 measured out small meals has been much better for me!! Think small portions of lean protein (ckn, fish, egg whites, lean turkey, lean beef, etc), complex carbs (oats, brown rice, quinoa, sweet. or red potato, fruit), salad w/ real balsamic vinegar or another healthy dressing and/or another good green veggie, a couple small servings of fruit a day with meals of your choice ... again ... eating every 3 hours!! You need to mix up all this. You obviously shouldn't eat red meat six times a day - even if it's only a few ounces. Feel free to add variety to each meal so you can make fun recipes. Not everyone is prepping for a competition .. so that is allowed :) Those not on contest prep have MUCH MORE flexibility in what they eat each day. For example .. I eat pretty basic right now with very little creativity (like you see in many of my recipes or old posts in the past). But you can totally take your favorite foods and substitute and make a healthy version of it and still get fit!!! Like my broccoli slaw pasta .. yummmmm. Just PORTION IT OUT so you aren't eating it as one huge meal .. make it a SMALL portion just like all the rest of your meals of the day! Don't think in the mindset of Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner. Think evenly portioned small meals every 3 hours.  You have to get it out of your head that eating so much is a bad thing. Try it out ... just remember MEASURE YOUR FOOD!! I bet you are eating more than you buy a good food scale! And don't forget ... those little "extras" add up! I'm not saying don't have it (I have certain things all the way through contest prep) .. but ketchup, sauces, cheese, etc., those all have calories/sugar/carbs/fat -- and EVERYTHING adds up!!! So be mindful in what you are using! My favorites are low sugar ketchup, all kinds of mustard (spicy, jalapeno, sweet and spicy, brown, etc), hot sauce, flavor god seasonings, Mrs Dash no salt seasonings and sometimes some Walden Farms products. I have heard some of them aren't very tasty but the bbq sauce, pasta sauce, caramel sauce and pancake syrup are all I have tried. There is also this big "debate" on how good they are for you. I'll say this .. I compared the label of a popular brand "sugar free" pancake syrup and Walden's pancake syrup and I can pronounce everything in Walden's and I couldn't the other?!! So?!?! Sure .. it's all at least partially processed. So if you are looking to have nothing processed as part of your personal plan .. stick to real agave, honey, maple (just remember the sugar). But looking at their mission statement/claim .. I'm really not sure why they get such a bad wrap for being full of chemicals, etc.  -- Walden Farms irresistibly sweet calorie free specialties are prepared with real fruit extracts, concentrated natural flavors, rich cocoa and other natural ingredients, all sweetened with Splenda. Our savory specialties are made with hundreds of freshly ground herbs and spices, concentrated natural flavors and the finest aged imported and domestic vinegars.  
I guess I just pick and choose my "clean". Oh ... I have an entire blog entry coming on that subject. That word is so subjective... isn't it???

QUESTION TWO:  What is your workout routine. What exercises do you do. How should I train. Again ... that is impossible. I can tell you that before contest prep I would lift 3-4 days a week. Now I lift weights 5 days a week. I am given my workouts each week and they constantly change based on my needs, my next show, etc. But even before I had a coach emailing me what to do ... I changed up my workouts ALL THE TIME!!! There are literally ENDLESS workouts and you will be hard pressed to find a "bad one" if you PUSH YOURSELF and find workouts on reputable sites. Learn how do do exercises PROPERLY. If you cant' hire a trainer to show you ... YouTube is also a GREAT resource and so is social media..tons of great pros post routines and favorite exercises! Here is my instagram and youtube channel. I've not done any/many demos, as I'm just so busy in the gym right now. But I hope to soon! I see SO MANY people doing their workouts wrong and not only is it DANGEROUS .. you are wasting your time in the gym because you aren't getting the most out of each rep!!! I suggest breaking things up into body parts so you can isolate and really focus on growing each muscle group.  For example .. one day and do back/bi .. another and do shoulders/chest/tri ... legs/abs ... one or two days of some fasted cardio (either 15-30 min of HIIT or a fun cardio class) .. or add 15 min of HIIT at the END of a workout when your body is a fat burning machine.  I also like a good "push/pull" exercise regime. Google it!!! It's a great option for people who can only get in the gym to do weightlifting a couple times a week! There are endless workout options. The bottom line is .. you gotta lift weights if you want to change the shape of your body. NO amount of cardio is going to give you muscle and tone. Also doing too much cardio can be very counter productive. Basically ... when you do too much cardio at once, you run the risk of increasing the amount of muscle you burn. So that hour of treadmill ... don't do it. As for weights ... ladies .. they will NOT make you bulky!! Especially if you stick with it for the long haul - you will slowly start getting rid of that layer of fat over your  muscle! I lift I look like a man?!??! HaHa :) Next .... I'm sure you are wondering ... how much weight ... many reps .. how many sets? Well all of that is individualized. Mine changes week to week. But if you want a basic answer ... I guess it's safe to say to stick with 4 sets of 15 reps. If you can't do that many .. do a minimum of 3 sets!! Those last several reps should be really hard to do. If not .. go up in weight. BUT remember YOU MUST DO THE EXERCISES PROPERLY!!! If you use TOO much weight .. you will likely use incorrect form .. and as i said earlier .. waste a workout.  Play around with what works for you. Every BODY is different .. but I will tell you .. endless research and science has proven that you will see MUCH better results from shorter bursts of HIIT cardio and WEIGHT LIFTING .. than those endless hour long treadmill sessions!

QUESTION THREE: "I need your abs. Tell me what to do. How do I get a six pack". Well ... it's true. Abs are made IN THE KITCHEN. So go back to question number one, haha! My ab workouts really didn't change a ton from when I was working out on my own verses when I had workouts sent to me. In fact ... I do LESS abs now than I did before! Especially oblique stuff. I gain them very easy so I pretty much had to cut them out. It again .. was when I started eating basic small meals every 3 hours .. that my abs came out to play :)  SLOW AND STEADY ya'll!! It will not happen overnight. In fact ... I'm gonna show you something. Here are my abs before I started contest prep, about a week or two after I started and then the pink suit is about 4-5 weeks after the first picture was taken.
Keep in mind ... when looking at picture one ... I did eat well and regularly went to gym. So that 1st picture is when I ate power bars, experimented with meals, etc. Picture two is a couple weeks after being more strict and picture three is toward the end of prep for my 1st show. I didn't want to post a competition photo as a comparison - because that isn't a fair to ya'll - because I'm tanned and also cut a little water on stage (not much. again i don't do anything drastic during all this). Abs are actually my weak point. It's harder for me to get abs than most other parts of my body. Mainly because my torso is SOOOOOOOO SHORT and compact! Some people are blessed and that is the first place their muscles pop, etc. I'm jealous - haha!

QUESTION FOUR: The most asked question I am now getting after totally revealing myself on stage (haha) --  "What do you do for glutes. I want your butt". Well as the song says .. gotta thank my mama (or someone) for a butt like that! Haha. Part of my glute glory is genetics. I've always "had a butt".  But it has NOT always looked the way it does now.  There are tons of glute workouts online and I'm sure that all of you are doing the same things I am .. just gotta keep working and realize they are a muscle group in and of themselves. So treat them that way :) Also .. don't think because you "don't have a butt" that you can't get one! You gotta go back to question one .. EAT RIGHT .. LIFT HEAVY!

QUESTION FIVE: What supplements do you use?  I am very proud to say that I am an ALL NATURAL competitor. I do not and will not take any "drugs" to make me lose weight or get leaner. It's dangerous and also counter productive. What these girls don't realize is their bodies will become dependent on it (just like your body will become dependent on massive amounts of cardio) and when you stop ... you will gain weight .. actually not only gain weight .. you will ruin your metabolism .. finding yourself unable to have the body you want without all those drastic unnecessary measure!!!
I also DO NOT use any fat burners!!!! People don't believe me ... but it's the truth. They are NOT necessary. Just like above .. they can really take a toll on your metabolism and your body can become dependent on them. I did try ONE sample of something called "Cardio Burn" by Muscle Sport International. It IS a thermogenic however the guy said it uses things like green tea extract. I haven't looked into it or purchased it and probably won't. Because again .. it isn't just a pre-workout .. it is a thermogenic. But I did like the energy it gave me for my once a week HotBox class!! That said ... the only supplements I use are a variety of vitamins (designed for me and my needs .. stuff like probiotics, b vitamis, daily vitamin, calcium, etc)., glutamine, joint repair, aminos, a good quality whey isoloate and another blend protein,  and on occasion a low stim or stim free pre-workout. As for what protein .. it really is a personal preference. Just don't buy that cheap stuff at wal-mart or your grocery store. I prefer Muscle Sport International, 1st Phorm, Metabolic Nutrition or Intek. The type of protein depends on what time of day/why you are taking it. I suggest talking with someone at your local nutrition store about what is best for your needs.


Okay ... so that is it I guess! Hope that wasn't too long and confusing for you.  But it's my answer to these gazillion messages I am getting.  It's not a professional one. It may not be the right one. But it's what works for me. Please see some of my previous blogs for other things I do. For example .. I can't preach enough how important the POWER HOUR is if you are doing any kind of lifting.

Good luck! Remember it is YOUR journey .. not mine or anyone else's.  Keep your eye on the BIG picture and please go SLOW and STEADY.  Be patient knowing that it takes time to build muscle and burn fat. Don't fall into all the traps. It really is "basics" that will get you there. Always remember .. you should be in this for the LONG haul!!! #BodyForLIFE people :)

Eat Clean. Train Dirty.

1 comment: