Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitmas: Sleep and Stress Management During the Holidays

I don’t know about you, but I’m so excited for Christmas! It’s about 11 days away, and I’m ready to go! Gifts are bought and wrapped under the tree, all I have to do is get things ready for my Annual Ugly Sweater Christmas Party this coming Saturday πŸ˜€

For this blog post, I got inspired by watching one of my all time favorite Christmas movies, Home Alone Two, Lost in New York. The holidays can be a very stressful time. Probably not as stressful as losing your son for the second time LOL Especially in New York City haha but either way, the holidays can feel quite overwhelming. Even though you may have a million things to take care of in the last two weeks before Christmas, shopping, baking, wrapping, cooking, holiday parties, school exams, end of the year work projects, whatever it may be, please remember that Christmas happens every year, and some how you seem to make it through πŸ˜› So don’t stress!

LOL This is a scary photo right? hahahaha

I know this is easier said than done, and sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that may make this holiday season a little more stressful than usual. This is why I am writing this blog post. No matter how out of hand your life may be, you must take care of yourself first. So many of us get ourselves sick with the cold or flu at this time of year because we have not been sleeping properly, or managing our stress, and eventually our immune system breaks down, making us susceptible to the common cold.

In addition, if we don’t manage our stress properly, or get enough sleep,Β we tend to over eat. Emotional eating is a real thing! Many of you may think that you don’t change your eating habits when you’re stressed out but you do. I didn’t realize how much stress affected me and my eating habits until I was on prep for my first show. When I had a rough day at work, and then I came home, ate my last meal, I thought, “that’s it?!” I was so disappointed. I ate my fish and asparagus and thought, “that’s really not what I wanted.” 😦 I wanted chocolate in that moment so bad LOL and there was nothing I could do about it except for going to bed, because I was prepping for a show. That’s when I realized how comforting food can really be. When you’re really upset, tired, stressed out, or all the above, you tend to crave “comfort foods.” That’s why they’re called “comfort food,” they make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Now I can get all scientific on you and explain to you how these foods release certain chemicals in the brain that make you feel happy, and warm inside but I really don’t want to get into that. Basically the foods we eat can have a major effect on how we feel.

The Christmas holidays happen in the middle of winter for this reason actually. Usually the cold dark winters bring people down, and because we do not know the exact date of Jesus’ birth (if you celebrate this part of the holiday), Christmas is celebrated in December. Celebrations like Christmas bring people together, they lift our spirits, and help us cope with a lot of the doom and gloom that comes with the winter season. Along with all the celebrations, come all of the fantastic comfort foods. I think Thanksgiving is like the trailer for Christmas LOL Thanksgiving really feels as though it is just preparing you for the crazy feasts, and parties that are soon to come your way! However, high stress, lack of sleep and the holidays are a lethal combination! If you’re tired, and upset, you will be craving high calorie foods, and because of the holidays season, there will be plenty of these sorts of foods at your disposal.

Please don’t let this be you! LOL You WILL eventually regret it! Even if it’s not at first…

I already wrote a piece earlier about nutrient timing, and how long hours of not eating will cause your blood sugar levels to drop, as well as your energy levels, which causes you to crave high calorie foods. Well so does lack of sleep. Lack of sleep causes low energy, and because you feel sluggish, you reach for the coffee, energy drinks, and carbohydrates to give you a boost. In addition, if you’re having the Christmas blues, you will eat your feelings. It’s so easy to reach for a shortbread cookie at this time of year when things are getting rough. Plus if you’re stressed out, running around trying to get everything done, a lot of us forget to eat properly. Most people are not like me, they do not prep their meals ahead of time, weigh and measure them so that they hit all their macro-nutrients properly. Especially at this time of year, it seems as though nutrition flies out the window, and Β it’s a free for all, where people grab whatever they feel like eating, or what ever happens to be available. And 9 times out of 10 it is high calorie comfort food, from either a fast food restaurant, company Christmas party, staff potluck, or any holiday party you go to.

So please guys, no matter how busy you are at this time of year, make sure you don’t forget to eat, and you let yourself get enough proper rest!! You will eat less junk and you will feel so much better! There are better ways to deal with your stress, and lack of energy, and that is proper nutrition and regular exercise. It may not be the “easy” thing to do, but it is the option that is most worthwhile. Comfort foods are a quick fix, but at the end of the day they will have you feeling worse than when you started. Enjoy the holidays! But don’t let it become an excuse to derail your fitness completely! You will regret it trust me!

Day 4 of The Twelve Days of Fitmas: Never Skip Meals!

I’m sure we’ve all been told many times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I’m sure that we are all aware that we should never skip breakfast. However, I still encounter clients that never eat breakfast! This makes me really sad actually, because I LOVE breakfast! Breakfast food is the best food! Pretty sure this is why we have brunch… An excuse to eat breakfast foods later on in the day so we can have it when it’s more appropriate to drink alcohol LOL

Anyway, the point that I’m trying to make is, is that skipping meals, especially breakfast is very damaging to your overall health, your daily performance, and your metabolism. The other day I posted an article about the importance of nutrient timing, this post is very much related to that. Nutrient timing is an effective tool to help you perform better during your workouts, and to help you get the most out of the foods you eat. It is important to not only strategically eat your macro-nutrients through out the day, but it is important to keep your body properly fueled through out the day. I eat my meals about 2 1/2 to 3 hours apart. I eat 6 “meals” a day. Why? Well here are the main reasons as to why you want don’t want to let your body go on too long without food, and it’s more than just getting hangry, which can sometimes get the best of us πŸ˜›

Eating breakfast is super important, and I know you already know that. So then why aren’t you doing it?! BAAAAAH This drives me a bit crazy actually. I hope this article convinces you to at least eat something in the morning! Why do we need breakfast? Several reasons, first of all you need breakfast to help get the “engine started” so to speak. You need it to fuel your body for the day, but also to get your metabolism going. If you don’t eat breakfast, you will have less energy in the morning, and you will therefore not be able to perform at your fullest capacity. Secondly, you will most likely end up eating more through out the day or at lunch to make up for the lack of breakfast. Because you have been without food for such a long period of time, your blood sugar levels will be quite low. This will cause your body to crave carbohydrates.

Again, even if you do eat something in the morning but there are large gaps between your meals, this will cause your blood sugar levels to drop, and you will crave carbohydrates. So, at lunch, or whenever you get the chance, you will get yourself a high carb, maybe even high fat meal which will help spike your insulin (blood sugar levels) back up. However, whatever goes up, must come down, and you will crash. And the more simple sugars you end up eating for lunch, the higher your insulin will climb, and the harder you will eventually fall. Basically, when your insulin levels drop like this, your energy levels drop as well, and you will hit this wall around 3/4 pm, where all you want to do is sleep. So, instead you go and get a coffee and treat from your local coffee shop, or you hit up the office vending machine. Either way, you are causing a yo-yo effect with your insulin levels, as well as your energy levels.

Why do you think you’re so freaking tired after dinner? Why do you think you’re eating late night snacks while watching your fave television series on Netflix? It’s because you didn’t eat breakfast, or enough through out the day to keep your body properly fueled. Instead, your body experiences high calorie meals at random intervals through out the day, and long droughts of no food. This causes the temporary spikes in energy, and the 3 o’clock wall that we sometimes hit. This also causes your body to get used to long periods of time of no food. Because of this, when you do feed your body, your body will hold on to as much of that meal as possible and store it as fat. Why? Well, your body has now gone into starvation mode aka “survival mode,” and has no idea when and where the next meal will come, so it is storing fat to help keep you going. This also slows down your metabolism. You are not only storing more fat than normal because or your erratic eating habits, but because your body has gone into starvation, it is also using your precious muscle as a fuel source. Therefore, further weakening your body, and making you fattier. Maybe not bigger, but definitely softer…

Still think you don’t need to eat breakfast? πŸ˜› Also, when most people skip breakfast, or if there are major gaps between their meals during the day, they end up feeling super hungry late at night. This causes you to binge eat on high calorie foods, when you should be getting ready for bed. I know this is true, because when I was dieting for my shows, after dinner, and I was trying to relax, that is when the hunger pains of dieting bothered me the most! When you eat late night snacks on the couch with Bae, especially foods high in carbs, it will not only make it more difficult for your to sleep properly, it will stop you from eating breakfast in the morning like you’re supposed to! The foods that you eat late at night will just sit there in your stomach, because you’re not doing much to help burn them off as a fuel source. This will keep the vicious cycle of no breakfast, late night snacking, 3 pm crashing going, and it will only slow your body down. You will get weaker, your performance will suffer, and your metabolism will slow down. This will make you fatter, and it will age you.

So please, eat breakfast, space your meals out evenly through out the day. Help keep your body properly fueled so that you have constant energy, you have the energy for your workouts, and your body will be at it’s highest efficiency! When your body is performing at it’s fullest capacity, that is when you will feel and look your best! That is not possible if you’re not properly fueling your body.

A photo I took one morning of my lovely breakfast πŸ™‚ Egg whites, and chocolate oatmeal pancakes with crushed walnuts on top with a giant mug of coffee. Pretty sure I ate this and then crushed legs that day… it was a good day haha12122392_10156138322540285_257068958596529832_n


Day 3 of the Twelve Days of Fitmas: Is Meal or Nutrient Timing Important?

Merry Fitmas Boys and Girls! So the question of the day is, is meal timing important? And the answer is yes! Nutrient timing is very important, however, it doesn’t mean anything if you’re not hitting your macro-nutrients properly. You need to make sure that you’re eating the right amount of calories, and the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats first before you start worrying about when you should be eating what. BUT for the sake of this post I will give you some general guidelines for meal timing/nutrient timing that I follow πŸ™‚

Last week, I wrote a post on what you should be eating post workout, in this post, I will basically be covering general meal timing for the entire day. First of all, I generally spread my protein out evenly between all my meals. Right now, I’m eating about 140 grams of protein a day, so that’s about 24g of protein in each of my meals (I eat 6 “meals” a day, 3 snacks lol). As for my carbohydrates, I reserve 30-40% of my total carbs for the day for my pre-workout meal, and the same amount for my post workout meal. Then with whatever carbohydrates I have left, I spread them out through out the rest of my meals. As for my fats, I like to eat a good amount of my fat for breakfast or “meal 1.” A lot of breakfast foods tend to be high in fat, like eggs, nut butters, bacon, the list goes on. Plus it’s always good to eat fats after you haven’t eaten in a while (like in the morning), or when you know you won’t be eating in a while, so dinner is a good time to incorporate fats. I don’t eat a lot of fat pre-workout, or any fat at all really. Like I said, I eat fats for breakfast and in my meals post workout.

Now that we’re in the Holidays season, there are so many tempting treats around us all the time! Today in my spin class, someone asked me if I “indulge” at all… And to be honest that’s kind of a tricky question LOL I mean I just finished reverse dieting and now I can eat up to 220g of carbs! Which is pretty exciting stuff haha Especially when not too long ago I was eating no carbs at all before my show! So, the answer to that question is yes, and no. I fit treats into my diet if I want them, and I typically eat these treats around my workouts. So for example, Christmas Rice Krispie treats, I’ve made two batches of these so far, and sometimes I will fit a square or two into my macros pre-workout or post workout. These simple carbs go straight to my muscles. They give me a wicked pump if I eat them pre-workout, and I get super vascular which is always fun πŸ˜‰ Or I eat them post-workout, and they are absorbed quickly by my very depleted muscles. Treats are best consumed around your workout. Like I mentioned earlier, the majority of your carbohydrates should be eaten around your workout. So, if you want to eat some simple carbohydrates like cookies, or rice krispies, it’s best to fit them in then.

As for “cheat meals” I have not had one yet. I just got this boost in carbs last Friday, and so far I’ve been able to fit everything in pretty nicely. However, if I do eat something like a burger or pizza and I’m not counting the macros of that meal. I would eat it post workout, or as my very last meal. This is because I would want that high calorie meal to re-feed my muscles so that they can grow, instead of my waistline! Cheat meals are one meal, and maybe desert. CHEAT MEALS ARE NOT CHEATING DAYS!! It is not an excuse to go insane, and eat everything in site. Cheat meals are a reward and they do have a purpose. They can help you lose more weight by raising your leptin levels during a diet, and they can help with muscle growth in the off-season. Cheat meals are earned. You don’t just have one cause you feel like it. There’s a science behind using it to increase your leptin levels, and for helping with muscle growth. Either way, you need to earn the meal in the gym with some hard work first before crushing some pizza.

However, cheat meals are not really necessary during the off-season. Like I mentioned above, so far I’ve been able to fit in all the foods I want to eat on a daily basis within my macros. Flexible dieting has been awesome this off-season! I don’t feel deprived at all! This is because, I can eat whatever I want within my macros for the day. As for Christmas day and MAYBE Christmas eve, those will probably be my “cheat meal” days… Every day leading up to that, I will be counting all my macros and fitting all the holiday parties into myfitnesspal.


A bad picture of my first ever “cheat meal” for my first bodybuilding show LOL As you can see from my face, it was literally like Christmas haha Deep Dish Pizza, an amazing, and well deserved meal! Oh and my friends got me this awesome shirt for the occasion! It says “slice of heaven” on it and trust me it really was!!10647030_10154573418250285_7859368366089892288_n


Merry Fitmas! Day 2:Holiday Eating

Merry Fitmas Everyone! So today I’m addressing the question of what do I do during the holidays? How do I keep myself from completely derailing from my goals? Well, here are some of my tips for staying on track with your diet and goals during the holidays, but before I start, I am completely aware that dieting at all during this time of year is extremely difficult, and I know that the majority of people will not be able to avoid all the Christmas fare for the entire month of December. So, that being said, these tips are tips on how to keep the damage as low as possible. It is not IMPOSSIBLE to diet during Christmas but for most people it’s close enough LOL


Just because there are 50 dessert options doesn’t mean you need to try every single one! Same with appetizers!! If you know there’s going to be a large meal, then skip the apps, and just eat the main course. Choose your battles guys! You don’t need to eat, anything, and everything that is available at any of your Christmas functions. Pick your favorites, enjoy them, and that’s it. Pick one dessert, if you’re having apps, don’t go nuts! It’s so easy to get carried away with the appetizers, that by the time the meal happens, you’re full. Avoid the cheese platter, or any cheese apps. Why? Cheese is high in fat, and therefore, high in calories. You can rack up your calories pretty high with the cheese platter alone before you even start with Christmas dinner! So again, one dessert, be modest with the apps, and for dinner? Have the protein, have the veggies, and be careful with the starchy carbs and the gravy! Starchy carbs will put you to bed, and the gravy is high in fat, and high in calories!


Most people have very strong traditions that they keep during the Christmas holidays, and because of this, most people know generally what they’re eating and when. If this is the case, and you know what Christmas parties, dinners, and other social gatherings that you have planned, then you can plan your meals around them. Just because it’s the holiday season, does not mean that everything goes out the window, and you lose complete track of how much you’re eating. If you know you’re going to a party, or a Christmas dinner, and you want to enjoy some alcohol, or have dessert, then save calories for it. Plan your whole day of meals around this function so that you can enjoy yourself, with less worry about how the pie you want to eat will make you fat! The Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, yes, 100%! But if you want to stay on track with your goals, you need to plan ahead to be successful. MyFitnessPal is a great tool! Use it! Record all your meals in it including your holiday dinners, keep track of your macro-nutrients. This will help you stay on track with your goals, and it will help you plan your meals ahead of time so that you can fit your Christmas meal into your diet, or at the very least it will hold you accountable. It should keep you from veering too far off track.

Tip Number 3: WORKOUT!!!!

Most of us have some extra free time during the holidays. We take some time off, shorter hours at the office, whatever. Yes, take some time to relax and unwind, but there is no better stress relief, energy booster, calorie burner, mood booster… I can go on LOL than EXERCISE!!! So do it! Take advantage of the time you have and workout! I always plan my workouts around major holiday meals haha. I’m so used to getting up early, that, this past Thanksgiving holiday I did fasted cardio while everyone was asleep, and when I came home I enjoyed the traditional family breakfast. I mean, what else was I going to do? Wait for everyone to get up so I could eat? Then, once the turkey for Thanksgiving was in the oven, I went and did my back workout. By the time I got home, dinner was ready, and Thanksgiving dinner turned into post-workout gains! Everybody wins! The holidays can be a great opportunity for off-season muscle growth if done properly…What I mean is, don’t think that because you want to grow, it’s an excuse to eat everything in site LOL Plan your workouts around your holiday meals, so that the meals you do eat, feed your depleted muscles, which will help them repair, and grow. Also, if you’re worried about your waistline growing this holiday season, then keep up your workouts!! It will lower the possible collateral damage so to speak!

And that’s it folks! These are my top 3 tips for Holiday eating: don’r eat everything you see, plan your meals ahead or time, and save calories for big parties and dinners, and workout! This will help keep you from completely falling off course . Merry Fitmas guys! And stay tuned for more posts!!


Me, my sister Maryanne and all our Giunta cousins that came to Sabrina’s Confirmation Brunch this past Sunday December 6th 2015