Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Muscles and the Mind

I've been wanting to write this post for a long time, about how IMPORTANT it is to be completely present in MIND while exercising. When it comes to strength training certain muscle groups, it is difficult to always utilize the correct muscles, and to be aware if another muscle group starts compensating during the exercise. I will use the SQUAT as my example here, with my OWN personal "A-HA" moment:

Alright, back pedal 7 months, January 2012. I had been running like a mad woman, running 25-30 miles a week! I loved it, but unfortunately decided I HAD to make some changes because my ass had FLATTENED. I knew what I had to do. Squats, lunges, deadlifts===heavy, old school leg and glute building. However, each leg day, I would indeed cripple myself after sets and sets of squats, and saw glute development over the course of a few months, but not the type I was hoping for. Here's what I realized a couple of months ago: While I was indeed engaging my core, maintaining proper form, and squatting super low and wide to target the glute muscles, I wasn't mentally connecting with the glutes throughout the movement, and not intentionally squeezing the life out of the glutes from the very bottom of the squat to the top. Once I started really SQUEEZING the booty throughout each rep, with each exhalation--is when I started to notice some REAL change. This might sound REALLY dumb, but next time you are frustrated that you aren't seeing the muscle growth you want, evaluate your mind-muscle connection. 

How to evaluate:
If doing an exercise that you usually add a lot of weight to (like the barbell squat,) see what muscles you are using throughout the movement WITHOUT weight. Mimic this action once you add weight. After evaluating my own issue, I realized that I can squat over 135lbs if I recruit my quads for ample assistance, but I do not WANT any muscle growth in my quads. Therefore, when I try to exclusively recruit the GLUTE muscle fibers, I squat 95lbs. And I even do sets with 65 pounds, with high reps, to feel the burn of the intense contraction at the bottom of the motion that drives the weight up.

Other exercises worth paying more attention to:
--Leg raises. Whether lying on the ground or hanging from a bar, it is helpful to really connect with the lower abdominal muscles and entire core to avoid hip flexor discomfort. The legs are VERY heavy, and THAT is why this can be a great abdominal exercise IF you recruit the abdominal muscle fibers, and utilize the power of muscle contraction to raise the legs, rather than straining the hip flexors.

--Tricep dips. Depending on how you angle your body, you can also use these to target the pecs. Regardless, it is important to NOT shrug your shoulders up to your ears--putting dangerous strain on your rotator cuffs and overcompensating with the strength of your traps and shoulders. Maybe swallow your pride, and do dips off a bench, with your feet on another bench. I feel that this targets my tris better, because I am not struggling with the initial motion, whereas unassisted triceps dips are HARD for me to perform with complete range of motion.

--Deadlifts. The deadlift is the absolute king of exercises in my book. Shoulders, back, glutes, hams, abs, and grip are ALL involved here, and therefore it can be the best body-shaper in the world. (move over spanx.) However, depending on HOW you perform it, different muscles will be required to do more work. I use deadlift variations to target different muscles, but mainly use them to lift my glutes and build my hamstrings. Therefore, I keep the slightest bend in my knees, and prepare to squeeze my glutes and stiff hamstrings to drive the barbell off the floor. 

--Rows/pullups: If using these movements to build muscle in your BACK, make sure you engage the LATS, and don't pull the weight with your ARMS. 

I could go on and on. Of course with compound movements, "going through the motions" and moving the weight up and down WILL result in muscle growth, but maybe not as much as possible. It is important to focus on the mind-muscle connection to avoid injury as well (such as the rotator cuff risk in unassisted dips performed incorrectly.)

A great way to IMPROVE the connection between mind and muscle is to practice POSING. Posing and flexing requires you to intentionally flex a certain group of muscles. So if you didn't have enough reason to take pictures of yourself, START. The better you get at posing and flexing certain muscles, the stronger the connection will become between your mind and your body. I can flex one side of my abs and not the other. One butt cheek at a time. Just from practice, and it enables me to connect WAY better, and avoid injury during heavy weight workouts.

So next time you are about to workout, evaluate what you are FEELING with each rep. There should be SQUEEZING happening, true muscle contraction. and BREATHING! 

Now go pick up some heavy shit!!! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Overdoing it

Are you one of those people who just LOVES to push it in the gym? The type to suck it up and pound out a workout no matter HOW SORE you are? Well, the bright side of these traits is that you will likely stick to a fitness routine of some kind for life! BUT BUT BUT BUT.... you can NOT do that if you consistently OVERTRAIN your body and run yourself into a physical rut.

I am a VERY laid back person, but when it comes to releasing tension--i am the most INTENSE person at the gym. Therefore, I'm one of those people (even before I decided to prep for a competition) to bust through sprints even though my legs are aching. When I first got into fitness, I refused to take a day off. I worked out 7 days a week for 3 months STRAIGHT. You bet I worked myself into an injury and got sick. Sure, during the process I was getting faster on the treadmill, and doing more reps with heavier weights. But as soon as that overtraining point set in, all of my physical progress was halted, because i had to spend time rehabilitating muscle damage! 

Since that first instance, I am AWARE of overtraining, however---I didn't fully learn my lesson. I now take a day off from all exercise each week, but 6 days of intense training is still limit-pushing in my book. One thing I've learned to do is to do some "recovery cardio" instead of all out balls-to-the-wall intervals when i can barely feel my legs. In fact, (for me) it is BETTER to do some "recovery" cardio the day after heavy leg training, rather than just lay off cardio for the day. I think that actively MOVING my lower body (at a lower intensity) helps to improve circulation and relieve leg muscle soreness. "recovery cardio" is a good time to hop on the elliptical instead of the stair monster.

With this said, I am 7 weeks from my first show, and am starting to "overdo" it. The difference here is that I am aware that I am STARTING to push it to far, and understand that I need to fix my cardio schedule to accomodate my two days of leg training+plyometrics. For example, on Tuesday, I trained glutes and quads (think squats, lunges, step-ups, kettlebell swings, plyos). Needless to say, after squatting up to 135lbs and then continuing with a LONG leg workout, my legs were ACHING the day after. What did I do? Wednesday, I got my ass on the stair monster. I was in so much pain, I ended up doing 15 minute intervals, and doing an upper body circuit in between. That got me 45 minutes of stair monster work, and did 15 minutes of low-intensity ellipting at the end of my workout to relax my legs. (After doing 60 jump squats...don't ask) Then comes THURSDAY (today)  I wanted to CRY this morning when I rolled out of bed at 7 to get ready for work. My ENTIRE body is in pain. SORE and heavy. After working from 8-12, I spent 35 minutes trying to "recover" on the elliptical. I barely broke a sweat, despite the incline on the highest setting with challenging resistance. I usually sweat just THINKING about cardio, so I know something is off when I don't sweat. 

I look pretty good for 7 weeks out, and if I continue on my contest prep as planned, I have no doubts I will look my best on stage. I just have to keep reminding myself that I have made this many changes in 6 weeks, so the next 6-7 weeks should bring more change, and hopefully the RIGHT changes. My inner thighs, glutes, and hams SHOULD be in pain since I'm trying to change them and firm them the MOST. I can deal with the pain, but I need to keep it manageable so that I can HEALTHILY continue on my prep. If you are trying to change your physique, be it weight loss, muscle building--don't OVERDO it. If it feels like a metal rod is sticking through your spine, it won't kill you to pedal on the elliptical instead of doing your planned monstrous workout. And for the record, there's nothing wrong with taking 2-3 days off the gym, ESPECIALLY if you're trying to build muscle. Even for fat loss, you need REST, or else your body might make sure you NEVER lose that stupid fat!

And I cannot end this post without a nutrition plug:
Please feed your body accordingly. If you are putting in MAX EFFORT in the gym, EAT something, damn! Have some carbs---they don't make you FAT. If you're a carbophobe (like many naturally soft people,) try limiting starchy carbs to 1x a day (ex: morning oats), And eat lots of veggies, even of starchier variety (like zucchini, carrots.) I will be the one to promise you, it won't make you FAT. When you need to lose the LAST 5% bodyfat in order to be shredded, worry about carrots. Until then...Eat your veggies.

Fun fact: If you calculate my daily carbs, its OVER 1g carb/ pound of bodyweight. And I'm LOSING fat. 

Summary of this post:
Go to the gym. When you get there, bust your ass. Done ass busting, eat something. When your muscles get sore, rest them or do some easy exercise. Then eat some veggies. Repeat this for successful and safe transformation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

12 weeks to failure

So, being that I'm on a standard "12 weeks contest prep," I've been thinking a lot about how a lot of people expect to make INSANE transformations in 12 weeks. Is it possible? hell yeah, look at all of the bodybuilders and fitness competitors who get absolutely shredded in as little as 4 weeks. However, most competitors who take 8-12 weeks to get into contest shape do not STAY in contest shape all year.

Therefore, you should never put such a strict deadline on your own physique goals unless you are stepping on stage or doing a photo shoot, etc. If you are truly looking to change your lifestyle, set SMALLER goals. If you are currently walking around on the soft/chubby side, your body likes being there. It's your MIND that doesn't. If you're currently scrawny and want to add serious muscle, don't expect to get those shapely and muscular curves after 12 weeks of "clean bulking" and heavy lifting. The human body is incredibly complex, and no matter how strong-willed you might be, you might not be able to convince your muscles and fat cells and metabolism to cooperate with your desperate physique aspirations.

Rather than trying to drop from a size 14 to a size 6 in a matter of months, try to schedule 2 extra cardio sessions per week, and swap some starchy carbs for an extra serving of green veggies everyday. Give your body AT LEAST 2 weeks to adjust to this before adding more workouts or depleting more fats and sugars from your diet. Once your body adjusts, maybe experiment with a TRX workout, or boxing, or a session with a personal trainer, and swap out fruits for vegetables in your diet. Again, GRADUAL changes. For people trying to PUT ON weight--don't just eat and eat and eat until you're sick. Add calories GRADUALLY so you're skinny body can acclimate itself. Build your calories with your strength. As you increase your caloric intake and continue to practice in the gym, you will be able to lift heavier and see muscle growth and results.

The reason I am emphasizing the importance of making gradual changes to your lifestyle is because I know what it's like to benefit from them. I've been on this health and fitness journey for about 2 years now, and over the course of those years I've become a great runner, lifter, pole dancer, blogger, and personal chef ;) No matter how many times I tried to "get skinny quick" via shape magazine throughout highschool, it never worked. Why? Because after 2 weeks of depleting and going crazy, my body wanted to shut down! Once I finally grasped the idea of making gradual changes, my body reacted the way i had always WANTED it to. When I reflect on the past 2 years, I don't feel that I was trying to "lose 10 pounds in 10 days." I have been trying to slowly and steadily build the body I've always dreamed of. I've surpassed previous expectations, and created NEW physique goals. NOW I'm preparing to step on stage the TINIEST I've ever been, with far more symmetry and muscular development than I had as a teenager. So this 12 week contest prep is not my "lifestyle change," it is simply to go from sort of lean to shredded on stage. 

After my shows, I WILL gain back 4-5 pounds almost immediately due to water weight and simply eating. It is NOTHING to worry about, because it is part of how the human body WORKS! Without leaning out VERY slowly, the body will think it is depleted (such as the case for many competitors including myself.) 12 weeks is NOT a long time. Like I said, it has taken my body two years to be comfortable at a lean and muscular size 2-4, rather than a fluffy size 8-10. Give yourself TIME to evolve, and ENOY the process. Oh, while you're at it---eat some extra oat bran for me ;)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday workout BLAST

Alright, today's workout was sick. Had to post it. No frills, just a fucking hard workout

You will move between the treadmill and the free weights and cables
Treadmill: 10 mins
2 min warmup: 4.0-6.0
minute 3: incline 5/speed 5.0
minute 4: incline 6/speed 6
minute 5: incline 7/speed 7
minute 6: incline 4/speed 4
minute 7-10: incline 2/speed 6.5-7.5

(make sure to finish a mile + in the 10min time)

Cable circuit: 3 sets of 20 reps, increase weight each set.
Tricep rope push down
Rear delt face pulls w/rope
bent over stiff arm lat pulldown
**50 mountain climbers end each set**

Treadmill: 10 mins: this is a sprint/recover set. Incline set to 5%
minute 1: slow jog @5.0
minutes 2-10: alternate 45sec sprint @8.0+, recover at 4.0 45 sec
end with 45 sec recovery walk and 0% incline

Weight circuit: 3 sets of 12,15,20 reps. Start with heaviest dumbbells, decrease each set. Bicep 21's remain 21 reps though
Seated lateral raises
Barbell Bicep 21's
Standing shoulder press

Treadmill: 1.5 miles as fast as possible
my time: 11:48
1 minute cooldown

Studio: 3 sets 12 reps
Medicine ball burpee
Hold medicine ball and do squat jumps
plyo pushups
feet on towel, hands on floor--crunch knees in between arms

DONE. Contest mode is on, and I'm still killing it! continually ramping up the pace and pushing my limits, despite the cuts in my diet!

Next time you get on the old faithful treadmill, hike up the incline ... guarantee you your "jog" will get you better results.

Tomorrow I FINALLY have my coveted day off. And oh boy am I ready. Just need to do LOTS of foam rolling....as usual.

Much love.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My mind's telling me no....

But my BODDDYYYYYY is telling me yeeeeesssss

Ok. Now that I've used an R.Kelly reference (kudos to those of you who instantly knew), time for a blog of thoughts.
While I am definitely noticing changes in my physique, my mind does NOT want to allow them to happen. It's like my stupid female brain saying, "whoa there, why are you stripping more fat from your body, you need to have some kids. You are a girl, you need FAT on you."

Example: I was doing cable chest flies and presses the other day, and all of the bones in my sternum area are starting to show, and the cuts in my shoulders as well. Naturally, I know its not a big deal--actually, I like it, and know that means I'm losing body fat. But my mind is like whoa there skinny, not so fast.. 

So what happens? Even though I LOVE that I'm making progress, and gradually speeding up the fat loss process, I find myself UNCOMFORTABLY hungry sometimes, to the point where I feel as if I'm underfeeding myself (even though I track everything, so I know its not the case.) Due to the fact that I have 2 competitions to look forward to, I DO NOT give into this hunger. It's hard, somewhat painful, but it usually subsides if I distract myself. These are mindgames. If I weren't training for a competition, I would never force myself to starve until my next meal--but that is likely why I never lost that FAT I wanted to. 

My advice to non-competitors (who are trying to lose a few pounds) is this: if you find yourself hungry out of your mind AFTER waiting 20 minutes, you need to feed yourself. Evaluate the calories and macronutrients of your daily diet, and adjust. Maybe even adding 1 teaspoon of fat or some fish oil supplements to each meal will fix your hunger issues. And eat your damn green vegetables (other colors are cool too.)

And my advice to people who are simply trying to put on muscle: EAT. self-explanatory. 

I've been in a slight funk with my blog lately, because there is SO much I want to write, but I don't feel the mind power to sit down and tackle it. I lose focus when I try to write a post. My mind is so focused on my training and stressing about how far I have to go in the next 7.5 weeks to look good enough for ME on stage. I refuse to be one of the girls on stage that shouldn't be up there. The one that everyone in the audience thinks, "yikes." 

Don't kill me for this, but having a naturally lean midsection is a slight curse when it comes to contest prep and diet. Every morning, no matter what I ate the day before or sodium or carbs or no cardio etc, my abs look pretty good. If I cut carbs, sodium, and water over 48 hours, and tanned, my abs would look just fine on stage. With that said, I have to constantly remind myself of everything else with FAT to lose. This causes a bit drama because I refuse to talking myself into believing that I'm fat. That isn't healthy. I might not be fat, but I sure got some ish to lose--particularly in the muffin top department, inner thigh, and I majorly have to tighten my ham/glute area. This is where contest prep has to be approached as strictly business. I have to lose the fat and get everything super lean because this is a TASK, not because I hate my body and want to be different. Not everyone understands this, hence why competing isn't for the weak-minded. I wasn't ready for this business-only approach a few months ago. After lots of thinking and objectively studying the sport of bodybuilding and athletics in general..it's just a part of the equation. Scrutinizing every single thing you eat and time spent in the gym is to excel in the competition, not to send yourself into a self-deprecating tailspin.

With all of that said, I killed my hamstrings for an hour and a half today.  I spent 65 minutes on the stair monster yesterday. I'm going out on a limb and saying that training is going well.

News: I got an iPhone, follow my instagram: lizbrody


Monday, August 13, 2012

Go Shawty...its your birthday


What am I doing for my birthday? Well, to start--I did INTENSE cardio at 7am at the track (heart pumping out of chest. Total of 100 burpees done throughout, 20 sprints UP the stairs, 4 laps (sprint all-out the long way, walk the short turn), 30 jumps onto the lowest bleacher step, and a cool-down), and had my weekly double serving oat bran treat for breakfast (and a tablespoon of PB happened after). I plan to do an upper body circuit workout later as well. No cake, no cheats for me today. I wish I was craving something, but I'm NOT! So I'm sticking to my same exact schedule and eating plan...with an extra big can of lo-carb monster for later ;)

Anyway, I want to share a BIG secret with you today. Today, August 13th, marks 8 weeks out from my FIRST NPC BIKINI COMPETITION!! I know, I know--I've been sort of talking about this since I started prep 4 weeks ago, but haven't exactly declared it. Kind of like when a woman first finds out she is pregnant, and doesn't tell people until the second trimester--right? Okay, fine, that's my analogy!

With 8 weeks to go, I'm really settled into my routine, slowly thinking about adding intensity and volume in the cardio department so that I don't deplete my calories much more, since I'm keeping them way lower than I was before I started prep! I became more or less obsessed with bodybuilding as a sport over the course of the year, and finally decided that i HAD to be one of those girls on stage. 
I was having a hard time deciding between figure or bikini, and finally went with my heart and chose bikini. Here is the current miss bikini OLYMPIA, Nicole Nagrani--and I'm pretty sure she's MY AGE:
I thought my hourglass shape would adapt better to the bikini look, despite these HUGE muscles I've built over the past year and change...trying to tone them DOWN now. I am SO excited that I have finally come to a stable place in my life where I can diet down and manipulate my calories and workouts without having feelings of self-doubt or insecurity about my size. Throughout the winter and spring, I knew I wanted to be on stage in a bikini, but wasn't mentally ready. After losing a lot of weight and becoming a much stronger athlete and self-proclaimed gym rat, my body and mind both NEEDED a break. I trained harder than ever, but allowed myself fruits, accidental spoons of peanut butter, and didn't think twice about it because I was tearing up the gym 6 days a week.

While I still have a long way to go, I feel good about the subtle changes I've seen since I started dieting and eating the same exact thing every single day. My carbs are still moderate/high, and I am never really hungry since I eat SO much broccoli and green beans. I am committed to getting my ass on stage the HEALTHY and natural way, and ultimately want to look the best I've ever looked--not just impress some NPC judges. 

I am so fortunate to have a phenomenal support system from my amazing MOM, TINA, VAL, KELVIN, BRIT, and every single blogger/friend who reads my blog and encourages me. While a lot of people don't understand WHY anyone that is ALREADY fit would want to diet down for months to stand in front of a panel of judges in a piece of sparkly spandex, it is just something I can't wait to experience. Competing is only the tip of the iceberg in the sport of bodybuilding. There is something about the intense hours of training, pain, soreness, sweat, cold vegetables, tablespoons and food scales--overall DEDICATION, that is so rewarding. Not to mention, I plan on keeping my well-rounded schedule of pole, sprints, heavy weights, circuits, and regular cardio to get that stage body. I am not working with a coach or trainer. I'm doing this all on my own. I will give credit to Pauline Nordin (fighterdiet.com) for my contest diet, although I amended the plan due to allergies to dairy and nuts. 

I am SO happy I shared this news with my blog for my birthday. No longer a teenager, I am celebrating my 20s with no cake, just trying to build MY cake for the back pose on October 13th ;) Stay tuned for plenty of updates. Here are some photos I've taken recently. My waist is currently 25'' and hips are STILL right under 37''!! what the heck...I have 8 weeks to lose SOMETHING off them! Well, I'm not going to complain about that on my BIRTHDAY! 

I might not be celebrating my birthday like most people, but this is my passion, and I'm content with spending this day like any other, with the addition of some lovely family members joining for dinner later--where I will eat my green beans and chicken breast.

Happy birthday to me!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekend treat: Heavy iron

After a week of good workouts and LOTS of attention for the glutes and hams, and hours logged on the stair monster, Saturday plan was: AM Fasted cardio, 45 minutes moderate intensity.
I woke up, took BCAAs and glutamine, got ready, and drank coffee on the way to the gym. I ended up kicking my ass on the stair master for 50 minutes, which is more moderate-high intensity ... no elliptical-like boredom or ease on that machine. I don't know what it is, something about my work ethic always leads me to the hardest workout possible. Both Octane ellipticals were vacant, but there was a stair monster available...and it just called my name. I'm addicted to the hard work. The need to peel my tank top off after 3 minutes of warming up on it (Yes, I'm one of those people who works out in just a sports bra sometimes. I just get too damn sweaty! It's not to show off, especially because the stair monsters are in the back of the cardio equipment..I'm not parading around half naked...though there's nothing wrong with that if you look the part and are working your ass off.)
I digress...
I bumped 50cent for almost my entire workout, and then ended with Ying Yang Twins. I found myself damn near booty popping up the stairs...it keeps me going! Lol. 
Anyway, I went home and had my breakfast, and couldn't stop thinking about how my shoulders haven't felt SORE or torn apart in WEEKS. I just had this urge to train heavy, and all day it was bothering me. I also think, subconsciously, I wanted my pre-workout monster and post-workout shake and rice cakes..just maybe. So, At 5pm, I suited back up and headed back to the gym, determined to tear my delts apart, and also hit triceps a little bit. 
Picking up 25lb dumbbells and pressing them over my head felt amazing. No neck pain (injury is definitely gone) whatsoever. I've lost a bit of strength since I stopped training heavy about 3-4 weeks ago. The last heavy shoulder workout I had, I was pressing 35's FINALLY...for 5 reps. Today, I used 25s for 4 sets of 8 seated shoulder press. I used to FLING 25s...and I was challenged by them today.  I did standing shoulder presses, Upright rows (with the 40lb barbell instead of the 20 i've been using,) and more lateral raises than one could imagine.

Highlight of my workout: 
I set up for push-presses, I warmed up 2 sets of 10 with the 45lb bar, then put a 10lb plate on each side. I put it up for 8 reps NO problem, then a set of 6, then set of 4, then dropped back to the 45 for 8 extra reps.
If you aren't a fan of training shoulders, this post is probably incredibly boring for you. If you're anything like me, this post has you itching to train those delts and hit them from every angle possible. It felt so good to see the veins in my delts and arms pop out, and for the caps of my shoulders to actually FEEL hot from the burning muscle. I was on cloud 9--it's made of iron and rains sweat in case you've never been there.
I will definitely enjoy my day off tomorrow, and I'm thrilled that I treated myself to an extra workout today--unless you're sore and tired and severely overtrained, I don't think its EVER a bad idea to have an EXTRA workout, even if you didnt PLAN for it to happen. Just like if you planned to workout, and feel absolutely incapable and too sore to perform, you CAN skip the workout and just do it the following day. Listening to your body works both ways. The neck injury I had told me to back off the heavy weights for a couple of weeks, and I'm not going back to my former heavy lifting routine just yet, but my body was CRAVING the iron, just like you might CRAVE sugar..
I'm so happy I can't stand it. And for the record, my new egg protein powder tastes like Swiss Miss Hot chocolate...too bad theres 420mg sodium and therefore i will NOT be purchasing it again..it's the yummiest thing in the WORLD. 
Tomorrow I'm treating myself to time alone in the city to walk around, shop, get steamed broccoli from whole foods (not that excited about that part), and just spend time in my favorite neighborhoods...and do some shopping for my birthday :) 

Happy weekend!

Friday, August 10, 2012

MILA: Product review!

Alright, sooo I have a really cool product review for all of my readers. I am 100% honest with things I review, and even CARE to blog about in the first place. For everyone who reads my blog, you are familiar with CHIA seeds, as they are a staple in my diet. For the past few months, my fats have come more or less from chia seeds and 100% unsweetened baking chocolate. (chocolate post: here) With my current plan, I eat a 1.5oz individually packaged square as its own meal, or with 5 eggwhites or scoop of protein. 
Anyway, back to chia. Chia seeds have officially replaced my die-hard love for flax seeds and ground flax seeds due to the fact that they are simply MORE SUPER of a superfood.
*chia info*

After reading Miss Fit Britt's blog about MILA, i was very curious. MILA is a chia seed product, but is WAY different than plain ol' chia seeds. Immediately after I contacted the distributor (Hi Marney!) she responded, and was very eager to educate me about the product, and was so generous to send me a POUND of it in the mail! The first thing I did when it arrived was put it into my morning oat bran, instead of using my regular chia seeds. 
*Mila is like chia meal, as it is many varieties of chia seeds ground up*
*It comes with a cute scooper, to ensure each serving size is a no brainer*
*It looks different..duh. Flax meal looks different than flax seeds..*
*Macronutrient breakdown: A scoop of mila is about the same protein/carb/fat as a tablespoon of chia, with the same fiber advantage*
*Gelatinous property: If you put MILA into water, oats, tea, yogurt, etc--it forms a gel, just like chia

I really like using the Mila for a change, and since there are chia seeds of all types included in each scoop, there are different benefits to be absorbed by my body! Same calories, omega-3 and omega-6 benefits as my usual chia, loaded with vital nutrients for your body. Good stuff!

Here is a statement from the MILA website, to better articulate exactly WHAT the heck this stuff is, if you are not familiar with chia seeds:

 "Mila is meticulously cultivated, harvested, cleaned, transported and packaged under the strict quality control and watchful eye of Lifemax at every stage. Strict government inspection and independent laboratory analysis ensure that 100% of what is on the Mila package is also in the Mila package — nothing added, nothing taken away — just 100% of the most nutrient-dense, efficacious, quality-assured Salvia hispanica L. that nature can grow, and Lifemax can perfect."

Definitely check out the Lifemax website, where the product is available for purchase. I don't write about things I don't support, and this product is a definite winner in my book. But, my honest opinion is that whether you use chia seeds (Now available at TRADER JOE's!!!) or this MILA product, your body will reap the benefits. Chia seed is really something that should be a part of everyone's diet--simply because there is NO reason to NOT use it. Whether you opt for Chia seed or the amalgamation via MILA, its a win-win. Whatever you do, go out and buy some NOW if it's not already in your house or next tupperware meal :) 

Thank you again, Marney, for your generosity and for allowing me to get my hands on such a cool new product. Will definitely be a staple in my kitchen for good!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Booty Boost. These DAMN GLUTES

So I went to lululemon today to pick out some things for my birthday. Every thing i tried on fit well, and looked good from what I saw in the front, but then I took a spin or two and checked out the other mirrors (360 degree mirrors in the dressing room) and my butt and hamstrings looked AWFUL! I am SERIOUSLY hoping its the bad lighting or something in the store, but i am NOT one to settle for excuses. I seriously freaked out, I looked like a monster. Even in the black spandex leggings, impossible!!! I have neon PINK lulus that I thought looked pretty damn good....now I seriously hope I don't have a fat cellulite butt because I work out in those!

Needless to say, I'm super self-conscious about my butt and hamstrings, and I've been having dreams that I ended up SKINNY FAT after my attempt to lean out. See kids, dieting isn't for everyone--it messes with your head! So today, I went HAM on my leg workout. Pun semi-intended...

despite my nagging neck injury, i deadlifted, squatted, lunged, and squeezed the fuck out of my glutes until i almost vomited. my last exercises were hyperextensions, and i swear on my last set of 15 I had to stop mid-way to keep myself from losing it. I exerted myself SO HARD during my workout, making sure to utilize EVERY single contraction and kept my mind focused on my ASS and hamstrings. I did squats with as little quad assistance as possible, adding painful pulses and half-reps from the bottom of the movement.

I did 8 sets of stiff legged barbell deadlifts with increasing weight, cranking 12-15 reps out per set , with 65-125lbs. 135 bothered my neck after 5 reps :(  I also did one legged deadlifts, and more stiff legged deadlifts as part of a circuit later in the workout.

post-track workout. 
I hit the track at 7 this morning and did some semi-sprinting and stair running, and burpees. That was only a 35 minute cardio workout, and I had planned to do 20 minutes after my legs, but instead I worked my legs for the ENTIRE time. almost 90 minutes of brutal leg workout. I NEEDED to kick my own ass for my satisfaction. I am DETERMINED to have the best looking ass I possibly can while STILL managing to be as tiny as I've ever been. I'm making it happen! I refuse to have a saggy skinny butt....NO WAY!!! 

Hopefully I don't have any nightmares about being skinny fat again. I'm also retaining some water...maybe it's that girl time..who knows. Anyway, keep in mind that i am SUPER critical, and am seeking close to perfection when it comes to my physique. Call it obsessive and vain, its not your goal, its mine! I'm so frustrated!!! Tomorrow I have two cardio sessions planned: in the morning I will do 45 minutes of "recovery" cardio, like the elliptical. After a hard leg day, it helps to loosen up the muscles and break up the tension from lactic acid build up. At night, I will do 30 minutes of HIIT, despite what my legs feel like. It's go hard or go home, and I am determined to make my ass ROCK HARD and lifted. 

Sorry if you guys could care less about my vanity, or my backside. this is MY blog, remember?!
Anyway. Everyone has to rant sometimes! Thanks for listening.

What's your lagging bodypart?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Circuit

Alright, so I've been blogging about my switch in training style, but haven't posted any workouts yet. This is going to be kind of annoying to post, since I don't follow a simple written format, and if I can do more reps, I do more than planned. If a certain bodypart feels neglected, I hit it with more. I'll do my best.

Monday: 7am fasted cardio on treadmill

4pm: upper body circuit workout+20 minute stair monster 

**I always warm up my upper body by stretching out my shoulders and spine first, and using resistance bands for 2-3 minutes**
**12-20 rep range**
circuit 1: 4 rounds
Stiff arm bent over lat pulldown with rope
Triceps extension with rope
stiff arm lat pulldown with rope
pull up+hanging leg raise NO assist **didn't get many pullups, did lots of leg raises**

circuit 2: 3 rounds
Cable reverse fly
Cable chest fly
Plyo pushups *clap in between*/Decline pushups 

circuit 3: 3 rounds, then extra round doing reps til failure
one arm seated row
seated row
cable Y raise w/bar (stand in front of the cable, put the bar on the lowest spot, and bring the bar through your legs, up in front of your face, like a frontal raise with dbells)
cable bicep curl w/bar

circuit 4: 3 rounds 
incline chest press
barbell back bicep curl
spidermans+mountain climbers

circuit 5: 3 rounds
Unilateral bicep curls
Bicep curl w.arnold press 

HIT IT: last round of exercises, bonus
lat raises til failure *40 reps*
one arm lat raises
barbell 21's
leg raises w. hip extension on bench

Stair monster: warm up level 7-8 for 5 minutes, then have some fun:
TABATA on the monster: 20 secs on , 10 secs off. each interval, increase the speed. start with level 10 for 20 secs. rest 10 secs, then level 11 for 20 secs, rest 10 secs...you get it. repeat for 10 minutes. "cool down" level 10/9/8/7/6 for 1 min each. WOOOOO!!! 

Solid effort kids.
This is a toughie altogether. 

here are some pics for you--crappy cellphone quality, of course..

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cheat Meals

For those of you reading this post with hopes of me telling you whether or not you should have "cheat" meals...sorry. First of all, I don't like the word CHEAT .. rather, I refer to it as a TREAT or just off-plan. Especially when trying to lean out, I give myself the opportunity to eat something BEYOND my macros and calorie requirements once every 7-10 days. I'm writing this post because I haven't had anything "off-plan" since last sunday, have been working my ASS off, am finally enjoying my first day of REST, and am deciding whether or not i should eat that extra 300-500 calories I allow myself, and WHAT I should eat if I do. 
I know my body well enough to know that it does NOT react well to a super carb fest. For me, one carby treat spikes my need for more carbs, and I feel like crap afterwards. I could do some peanut butter, but then again...1-2tablespoons might spur my appetite for more, and leave my tummy upset. I will likely just double my serving of oats one morning, because that will make me VERY happy, and mentally sound with the small volume of "treat."
That is a small treat, but my birthday is in 8 days, and I already know what I'm having--So Delicious NO SUGAR ADDED coconut milk ice cream. I'm going to make myself a protein cake and eat as much of that as I want (the whole container is 400 cals.) If anything, I'll have a tummy ache from artificial sweetener, but I havent had that stuff since MAY, and i LOVE it.
Some of you might be thinking I'm out of my mind for thinking so far in advance. Guess what? That's what it takes when you're serious about making changes. 
I keep very close track of my food intake and exercise, and this past week, I completed 5 hours and 45 minutes of cardio, along with 2 upper body circuit workouts and 2 lower body circuit workouts--those last almost an hour, and involve plyometrics and non-stop training. Needless to say, I'm burning a TON of calories, and not consuming excess. Therefore, I think I can spare a few extra calories once a week.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, lean out, or muscle up and gain weight, I recommend eating HEALTHY treats. In my opinion, you're way better off eating homemade sweet potato fries and homemade burger as opposed to going for fast food. The extra benefit about eating HEALTHY treats is that your old appetite for SUPER BAD FOOD isn't triggered. I didn't grow up eating lots of candy or fast food, so don't have the craving for it. However, artificial peanut butter and processed cereal were a HUGE part of my childhood diet--hence why I avoid them now. I'd much rather eat entirely natural PB and oats as a treat since they are unprocessed, whole foods, that are a part of many people's healthy diet.

Whatever you decide to eat, make sure you DO eat what you love, and don't deny yourself of foods you crave all day and night, because that usually ends with an empty 24-serving container and a full stomach and bloat for 2 days. That's another reason to "treat yourself" with whole foods as opposed to lurching for the oreos ... the unprocessed foods can be broken down and USED by your body, and won't sit around in your GI tract for hours upon hours, causing you distress. If you eat CLEAN most of the time, your body doesn't remember (and doesn't want to) what to do with the CRAP in colorful packages with 19 ingredients and 17 artificial colors. By being mindful of every ingredient (not calorie) that enters your body, you are still on your way to success. As I always stress--not all calories are created equal. In the long run , a few extra tablespoons of nut butter will do much better than a McDouble. Always keep the quality of your food in mind, even when you're eating off plan.

Here are some sensible treat ideas:
*they are sensible because they are WHOLE foods*
--dark chocolate (anything less than 100% is a no-go in my diet book, but 70% + cocoa is a sensible and arguably beneficial treat due to the anti-oxidant properties)
--brown rice pasta or farro with marinara
--Homemade pancakes made with oat bran or whole wheat flour, use fresh fruit compote instead of syrup. REAL maple syrup to indulge, no aunt jemima crap
--Lean grass-fed beef burger and sweet potato fries
--starchy veggies like beets, carrots, snap peas, squash, corn .. in excess
--Trail mix
--a few pieces of fruit, cups of fresh berries
--dried fruits like dates, raisins, etc. more or less natural CANDY
--possibilities are ENDLESS.. and there are millions of healthy muffin/baked good recipes all over blogs and healthy living magazine websites that use all natural and whole ingredients...and are often low in sugar and super easy to make

some not "whole food" options are protein bars--a good "go-to
treat on the go
there are lots more, but i don't eat them, so i can't think of them at the moment.

some "health food store" finds that are YUMMY and unprocessed:
--Ezekiel products (Everything from granola to burger buns)
--SoDelicious coconut milk products: yogurts, ice creams, creamers, etc **arguable because of the Carageenan scandal** favorable for the most part, and a super win on calorie factor and taste, and the benefits of eating COCONUT products.
--GO RAW super cookies and bars -- made of whole flax seeds, dates, spirulina, etc. I highly recommend that carrot cake cookies and banana bread bar
--Arctic Zero protein ice cream . 150 calories a pint! If only I weren't so dairy intolerant..

MOST IMPORTANTLY: ENJOY THIS FOOD, and do NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT! It's your choice to eat clean, and it's also your choice to indulge. Do what makes you happy.

What do you LOVE to treat yourself to?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Diamonds and Deadlifts

What a cute title right?! Well, that's my friend Val's blog, where you can find my AWESOME post for today. I urge EVERYONE to read it (especially my GIRLS!!!)

Make sure to check out the archives of Val's blog too. She writes GOOD stuff, and posts some seriously valuable knowledge--with her two cents added of course ! ;)

And HERE is a progress photo for you guys:


Friday, August 3, 2012

TGIF: Dessert in disguise

Yesterday, I didn't feel like eating a plain cup of eggwhites with stevia like i usually do, so this is what i made, and ate as my pre-workout meal (keep in mind, i'm dieting. this is a very SMALL meal. Usually, I'd add some form of carbs or fat to it, but it was straight protein really)

Takes less than than 10 minutes start to finish to make! 

What you need:
 (1/2c eggwhites, or 3 eggwhites)
(1/2c protein powder. feel free to use a whole scoop and just up the liquid factor)
(2 packets)stevia/truvia/splenda 
(1TB) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Heat a small skillet to medium heat, spray with non-stick cooking spray (or oil if u want to add fat)
2. Combine the eggwhites, protein powder, and sweetener in a measuring cup. mix well with a fork
3. pour half of the batter into the pan and make sure it spreads evenly. like a crepe
(while it's cooking, mix the 1TB cocoa powder with a little bit of water and 1 packet sweetener until desired sauce/paste-like consistency. think very smooth liquid-like nut butter
4. flip the crepe/pancake after 1-2 minutes
5. repeat with the remaining half of the batter

you now have two crepes of the same size. spread the cocoa sauce on one, sandwich them together, and cut like a pizza. YUM!!!!  

1/2c eggwhites: 60cal. 12.5g protein
1/2scoop protein: *sunwarrior* 40 cals. 8g protein
1TB cocoa powder: 20 cals. 2g carbs

Optional add-ins to try:
-chia seeds in the cocoa sauce
-ground or whole flax in the crepes
-coconut flour in the crepes
-add oat bran/oat flour/oatmeal to the batter to make pancakes
-xanthan gum to thicken ingredients
-vanilla/coconut/almond extract
-microwaved fruit to spread in the middle
-PEANUT BUTTER.... (or your favorite nut butter)

Endless possibilities. Try it out!! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What's in my workout bag?

Preparation is HUGE if you want to make changes to your lifestyle. When it comes to taking supplements, and feeding yourself properly, particularly pre and post-workout, some preparation goes a LONG way. 

Here's my gym routine:
15-30 mins pre-workout : 2 mega BCAA capsules and MONSTER zero
immediately post-workout: 2 mega BCAA capsules + 2 Glutamine capsules, protein shake mixed with water, unsalted rice cakes
--the rice cakes ONLY are consumed after weight training, or weights+cardio... just a cardio session doesn't get such a carby treat :) 

I make sure that my BCAAs, Glutamine, shaker cup, protein powder, and rice cakes are in the same corner in the kitchen so I can grab and go! Everything gets thrown into my bag on my way to the gym.

See the iPod, that stays in my gym bag, unless I'm charging it. Always keep working headphones and semi-working ones just incase. 

1.5 liter water bottle. Another must during and after workouts and ALL DAY...hydration!

*unpictured* workout/food journal and pens!
What's in YOUR BAG!?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


One thing that is hard for me to adjust to is doing lots of cardio. I need to be mindful of my knees, which were aggravated by my aggressive stadium sessions and love for sprinting in early july, and also need to manage to do a LOT of cardio with pretty high intensity. When doing so many cardio sessions (10/week, 30-45min duration usually) you really have to be careful to not OVERDO anything, especially when performing post-training cardio. I have a tendency to GO HARD or GO HOME. I've started to use heart rate training as opposed to "levels" or "speed" on cardio equipment to decipher my cardio goals for the particular session. 

Here's the thing: my resting heart rate is 53bpm. thats REALLY low compared to average people. So for me to hit my target HR, I need to work my body pretty hard. This is no surprise--the more fit you are, the more you have to do to work your heart into a tizzy. For me to just complete cardio at 65% max  HR, I need to be running at a 9 minute pace, or climbing the stair monster with no hands. At the end of long workouts, with sore legs, cardio is quite the chore. I'm learning to deal with it, but am trying to be cautious of my knees and more recent neck injury (flares up a bit if I overexert myself or hold too much weight in my right hand) in the process.

Needless to say, yesterday I completed morning cardio at a lighter intensity, and then did a HARD leg circuit: I warmed up with 10 minutes on the stair master at 70%max HR, and finished with 20 minutes on the treadmill at 70% max HR to reach my cardio goal for the day. I spent an hour and 20 minutes working out, with my heart rate UP the whole time, since i included plyos and fast-paced movement in my leg workout. Then, I had initially planned to do 30mins AM cardio and 45mins PM today, but it's my sister's birthday, and I decided to lump it all together. The result? 75 minutes non stop 70%max HR cardio (Avg HR 151bpm, max 170)

It is HARD to get my legs to work like that after the previous day's workouts. But i DID it, and felt AMAZING afterward. I proved that i CAN do it. And since that was 4 hours after breakfast, it was kind of like fasted cardio...right? I popped BCAAs before and after, and took extra glutamine to recover. Post-cardio does not warrant post-workout meal right now, so all I got was a cup of eggwhites with spinach. Talk about hungry. I am making progress, mainly in the waist measurement, but am seeing visible improvement in my legs and upper body. I can't wait til my hip measurement changes. It won't BUDGE!!! STILL 37 inches flat.

Here are some pics:

2 days ago

yesterday.. legs definitely getting better. avoiding ALL quad-focused exercises

this morning. my abs are so asymmetrical. weird right?

i will continue to hawk this product until they sponsor me!

this is a FULL inch off! Goal is 24 or under

todays post-monster cardio spree. 30min stair monster, 30 min treadmill, 15 elliptical
I'm a MACHINE!!!