Easy Gluten Free Coconut Vanilla Almond Granola Recipe

This recipe for Gluten Free Granola is perfect for parfaits, or to add some crunch to your smoothie bowls. Honestly, I love it on its own as well with some almond milk and banana.

Dry Ingredients:

  1. 2 1/2 cups of raw unsweetened organic coconut chips
  2. 2 cups of gluten free rolled oats
  3. 1 cup of raw sliced almonds
  4. 1/2 cup of hemp hearts
  5. 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

  1. 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  2. 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  3. 2 tablespoons of any nut butter
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

3. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil. Once it’s melted, take it off the heat and add the maple syrup, nut butter, and vanilla. Combine everything well and then pour it all over the dry ingredients.

4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until all the dry ingredients are covered.

5. Spread evenly on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

6. Take the granola out, stir it. Spread it out evenly again and place it back in the oven for 8-13 minutes. Granola should be golden but soft. The granola will harden as it cools.

"Vegan, Gluten Free,Vanilla Coconut Almond Granola" ,

The granola will keep for 3-4 weeks in an air tight container. Or for a couple of months if you freeze it in ziploc bags.


How diet is more than just “will power”

Lately, a lot of my clients have been asking me about what it takes to be successful. Especially when it comes to their diet. When it comes to improving your fitness, the diet is always the hardest part, and for some reason, a lot of my clients assume that it has something to do with their “lack of will power.” However, it is much more complicated than that. Believe it or not, there are a lot of social, psychological, and emotional attachments to food, and to eating in general. These all play a big role in how successful you are at dieting. Here are a few things that I have come to understand about dieting, and how to lose weight successfully through my own personal experiences:

First of all, you need to decide whether or not you really want to lose weight. How serious are you about this goal? Has this goal changed from a want to a need? For example, generally when someone really wants something like a job, a new car, or shoes, they start to convince themselves that they “need it.” When someone really wants something, they will talk to themselves, and to others about how much they “need” this particular thing. Example: “Oh my God, I need these new shoes!”  Whether or not they may actually need the new pair of shoes, is besides the point. The point is, they convinced themselves that they do, and therefore have justified the purchase to themselves. Now they’re happy, or at least for the moment, because they had achieved the goal of buying new shoes. They had gotten themselves something that they really wanted, and they now feel more accomplished, and happy. It is the same with weight loss. How unhappy are you in your current situation? How uncomfortable do you feel in your own skin? Enough to make a permanent and lasting change? If so, then we can actually start to set up a game plan to help you be successful. Permanent and lasting weight loss only works if you are committed to it. It is something that you have to work on everyday, it is all the choices that you make through out each and everyday that impact your weight loss success or failure.

At the very basic level, you need to put yourself, your health, and your body first. It must be a priority. If it is a priority, if being healthy and feeling good is so important to you, then you will choose better foods for your body, and you will find activities and exercise for your body and so on. If your health isn’t a priority, if you’re not unhappy with your weight, or at least not enough to really do anything about it, then why do you keep punishing yourself for the choices you make? Why do you keep calling yourself fat? And treating yourself like shit?  If you are not willing to make any changes with your current lifestyle, then you must find a way to be happy with the person you are right now, because putting yourself through this emotional and psychological trauma just isn’t worth it. No one deserves that sort of abuse. It is not positive, and it is certainly not productive. Being mean to yourself isn’t going to change your life, and it isn’t going to change who you are. If anything, you become a victim of your own life, and the circumstances that you put yourself in. This only perpetuates the problem, and keeps you fat, unhealthy, and unhappy.

Being healthy, or feeling good about yourself in general, is a constant battle. It doesn’t just magically happen, and once you have found your happy place, you need to work to keep yourself there.  The second you think you’re fine, and you don’t need to be as “strict” with your health goals, is the second you start to fall down your priority list. Before you know it, your back to square one, or worse. Your health and happiness is the most important thing in your life. In fact, YOU are the most IMPORTANT person in YOUR life. Without you, and your body, you would not be able to experience life. If you want to be successful at anything it is more than “will power,” or discipline. It starts with you putting yourself, your happiness, your needs, and your goals first! Everything else is secondary. Once you know what you need in your life to be happy, you will do anything to get it, but only if your happiness is of the utmost importance!

Your happiness only becomes important to you, if you think you deserve it. You have to accept who you are now, flaws and all, before you can truly be happy. Once you believe that you deserve better, that you can have better, and that you are better than the way you are treating yourself, that is when you can really be happy. Failure happens, mistakes happen. You will never be perfect, and you may fall off your diet, but tomorrow is a new day. The only way you can truly be successful at anything you do including your diet, is through consistent, committed, hard work. You need to be 100% committed to consistent hard work, no matter how hard it gets, or if you’ve made a mistake, you need to be willing to get right back up on that horse and keep going. As they say, slow and steady always wins the race, and that could not be more true when it comes to long lasting weight loss. Being healthy and feeling good is a life long battle. If it is important to you, then you must be committed to consistently making the best food choices for you and your body every single day! Sometimes we may not make the best choices, but that is no reason to let it snowball, let it go, and get right back on track tomorrow. If anything happiness, and healthiness are both a life-long battle. I’m not saying that consistently looking a certain way will guarantee happiness, however, I am saying that consistently feeding your body healthy foods, and keeping yourself active does foster happiness. So if you want to be healthy and happy, then you MUST make the choice everyday to be healthy and happy.


How to Diet on the Go? My top three tips for sticking to your diet when time is an issue!

I’ve recently decided to move downtown, actually the very first Wednesday of the month I decided to sell my car, and move myself and my business downtown. Ever since then, I’ve had to switch gears, and I’ve been working tirelessly to make this dream a reality. However, because I’ve been so busy putting my car up for sale, looking at apartments, looking for work, and commuting via transit all the time, it really got me thinking about how difficult it is to stay committed to a diet when you’re away from home a lot. So, I decided to write a piece with some helpful tips on how to stay on track with your diet when you have a very busy life, and you’re always on the go. These past two weeks have been extremely difficult for me, and I will not say that I was perfect with my nutrition. However, that does not mean that I am willing to give up on my goals just because it has suddenly become a little more difficult for me, and neither should you! So here are my top 3 tips for successful weight loss with an extremely busy schedule:

  1. Make sure that you have a good lunch box. One that is big enough to hold more than one meal, and that is easy to carry.

There are plenty of lunch boxes out there that are stylish, and convenient. For example Six Pack Fitness has several different styles of lunch boxes that look like backpacks, purses, and even duffel bags. They can fit up to five meals, and all your personal belongings. These bags keep your meals cool, and your belonging (including electronics) safe. So, if you’re spending the whole day away from home, there is no need to resort to fast food if you have a good lunch box to keep all your food for the day. If the Six Pack Fitness bags are out of your budget, there are other lunch bags or small coolers that you can buy that are less expensive but still do the same job.

2. Plan ahead!!

Now you have the lunch box, and you know that you have a busy day, and/or week ahead of you, where you will not have a lot of time to prepare your meals, what do you do? Well, if that’s the case, then you need to spend a day, like a Sunday before your work week, or the night before to prep and pack all your meals. You can use the left overs from dinner, for your lunch the next day, or you can prep a whole bunch of meals for the next two to three days. For example, since the weather is nice, you can BBQ a pack of chicken breast on a Sunday, steam a bunch of veggies, make some rice, and then divide these things into 4-5 meals depending on your macro nutrients for the next couple of days. Put your prepared food into the fridge, put labels on it, so people know it’s yours, and then throw your meals into your lunch bag in the morning on your way out. And if you’re super lazy, you can literally make several salads for yourself with pre-washed and pre-cut vegetables! All you have to do is throw them into containers, cook and measure your protein, and BAM you have lunch! There really is no excuse as to why you can’t pack your own lunch on a regular basis. Even if you don’t cook, there are several meal services out there that will cook and measure all your food for you based on your macro-nutrient goals and dietary restrictions.

3. What do you do if you don’t have access to a microwave? Or it’s just not convenient to eat chicken and veggies?

Personally, I have literally eaten chicken and asparagus out of a Ziploc bag this past week because I didn’t have time to find a lid for a container, so I threw my meal in a plastic bag and ate it on the go. It was a little awkward eating chicken like that in the middle of Yorkville before a meeting, but hey! Better than eating something unhealthy, overpriced, and/or disappointing. So, I did what I had to do! But, if you don’t consider that an option, and sometimes it is really inconvenient to eat chicken and veggies, then you must be prepared with other forms of nutrients that you can store in your car, purse, or gym bag without running the risk of it going bad. Some things that I like to always have on hand in case of meal emergencies where you had absolutely no time to prepare lunch, or a short errand turned out to take way longer than expected, are as follows:

  • Protein powder. I sometimes have extra protein powder measured and put into little Ziploc bags or small containers, and I leave them in my gym bag or purse just in case I get stuck without food somewhere and I really need something to eat. (Bottled water can literally be found anywhere so there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to mix your powder…)
  • Raw, natural, unsalted nuts. Again a handful of nuts is a great snack to help you in between meals when you’re stuck. You can keep these in your car, or bag for meal emergencies.
  • Protein bars. Again a good meal alternative when you’re stuck in a bind! Make sure you have a quality protein bar that is low in carbohydrates! You want your protein bar to be high in protein with at least 20 grams of protein and very little sugar/carbohydrates. Ideally, your protein bar should be sweetened with stevia. If you’re vegetarian, again make sure that the total amount of protein in the bar is higher than the carbohydrates. Protein bars are not something I would consume all the time. There are better and more nutritious ways to eat, however, if you’re stuck and you’re hungry, it is better to eat a protein bar than to cheat horribly on your diet.

None of these food items will go bad right away, so they are safe to store in your car, or bag for any emergency food situation.

And there you have it guys! My top three tips for dieting on the run. The main thing is, is that you need to always be prepared. You need to have the right tools, and you need to plan ahead, if you want to be successful. It’s not really a question of time when it comes to dieting, it’s really a question of will. Are you willing to plan ahead, and prepare yourself so that you are successful with your diet? Or, are you going to throw caution to the wind, and hope that it will all somehow works out for you? At the end of the day, it is your choice.

Cookie Monster meme


My First week of Prep, on the road to Provincials!

I know that I’ve been a little MIA from my blog that last little bit.Things have been crazy for me lately, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit and pound out a new piece, so here it is! I have officially started prep this past Monday for my upcoming show on August 6th 2016. I will be doing the 2016 GNC Allmax Ontario Natural Championships, and I’m really excited about it!

I’ve done two shows in the past, my first show was a bikini show on November 8th 2014, where I placed 8th. Eleven months later, I did my second show this past October 2015, where I placed 2nd in figure. Now, I am getting ready to do my third show at the Provincial level! I’m really proud of the work that I’ve put in the past almost year and a half, and I cannot wait to show the package that I’ve built this coming summer! Right now, at the beginning of this prep, this is the best conditioning that I have ever started prepping for a show with. Now that I will be 15 weeks out on Saturday, I am sitting at the leanest that I have ever been this far away from a show. This is because I really stuck to my reverse diet, if I didn’t hold strong those 6 weeks post show, I would not be in the condition that I am today, and I probably wouldn’t have made as many lean gains. I did however, lose a bit of my discipline in the new year, but all in all, I stayed fairly lean, and I’m so happy about that!

For those of you who are just joining me on my blog, you can check out my bodybuilding journey so far by clicking the following links. These blog posts will give you a good idea about why I started bodybuilding, and my journey since  then. The first post is my why. It is a piece that explains why I bodybuild, and why I love the sport so much. Why Do you do Bodybuilding? The next piece talks about the very beginning of my bodybuilding journey leading up to the prep of my second show. My Bodybuilding Journey So Far Then, this next piece talks about my final peak week ( the final week before my last show). The Final Home Stretch! Peak Week!! Next, is a piece I wrote following my second show. It talks about how my show went, and my plans for provincials. My Bodybuilding Journey so far PART TWO! And lastly, this final piece talks about reverse dieting, and what I did to come back from my latest show without rebounding. Reverse Dieting, what does that mean? How do you come back from doing a Bodybuilding show? All of these blog posts will get you up to speed pretty much to where I am at now. Happy reading! I will keep all of you updated on how my prep for this show will be going. Even though I may be in a stronger position out of the gate, I have a bunch of social obligations this summer that I simply can’t back out of, and well frankly, I would never dream of doing so. I am my best friend’s Maid of Honor!! So I have her bachelorette, and bridal shower to plan, and obviously attend before I step on stage this August. But if you know me at all, I like to have my cake and eat it too (so to speak), and I never take no for an answer when it comes to my passions. So, here I am #15weeksout and ready to kill this show, and be the best Maid of Honor a friend can have! Let’s get it!

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The top photo is me at 15 weeks out from my first Bikini show, and the bottom photos are of me 6 weeks out from the same show. My first bikini show was back in November 2014. 

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This is from my last show prep back in June 2015 where I rebounded from my bikini show pretty badly in my opinion. The left is 16 weeks out and the right is 15 weeks out from my first Figure show, that I did this past October 2015.

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This is me from this morning, #15weeksout from provincials. There is no filter on this photo because non of them really helped! And I’m not turning my knees out properly in the first pose, but you get the picture. This is the most muscular, and the leanest that I’ve ever been at 15 weeks! Let’s get shredded and win some hardware this August!

I’m excited to share the rest of my bodybuilding journey with you all this summer. I will keep you all posted through both my blog and my Instagram account. Thank you to all who have been following me, and watching me grow. There is so much more to learn, to grow, and to come in the future! Stay tuned, because I have plenty to share 🙂


Spring is Here! Summer is around the corner! Are you beach body ready?

Spring has officially arrived! This means that fitness competition season is in full effect, and everyone has the summer on their brains! That being said, are you beach body ready? Every time spring comes around, and the weather starts getting warmer, everybody starts to come out of hibernation mode, and they start getting excited to wear shorts! But when we start thinking of summer clothes, we know this means we will be more exposed. This is why there is a sudden influx of people in the gym. Those New Years Resolutioners that have fallen off, get a painful reminder that summer is fast approaching, and therefore, march to the gym to try and get back on track with their fitness goals. Hey! I’m not complaining! It’s great for my business! And I get excited when I see people motivated to improve their health.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of women on my Facebook News Feed, posting videos about beauty and body image. These videos are very female focused but I think body image, and self-esteem effect men as well, more so now than ever before. Obviously not to the same degree as women, but nonetheless the pressure to “look good” is strong for both sexes. This has got me thinking, with summer coming along, and the pressure to look good, how many people are terrified to hit the beach this summer? I’m sure that many of us feel this way, or at least you’re devising a plan to get you to a place where you feel comfortable wearing next to nothing this summer. And this is where I come in. I plan on giving you some solid advice to help you get closer to your beach body goals! However, before I do, this is a disclaimer: don’t think that loosing weight is going to help you love yourself because it won’t. In addition, don’t think that by doing a bikini show it’s going to do the same, because it won’t. First of all you need to accept yourself as you are, you need to understand that your weight has nothing to do with who you are as a person. The number on the scale only describes your relationship with gravity, not your worth. Whether you are 100 lbs or 200 lbs, your values, personality, intelligence, etc. Are much more valuable to society than the size and shape of your ass. Beauty is fleeting, and your body is a vessel to take you through life. It must be nurtured, and respected. Not tortured, and mocked. Workout, and eat well because your body deserves the best. The healthier and stronger your body is, the better your quality of life. So, if you plan on improving your fitness, it should be because you plan on improving your quality of life, not to fit a “beauty standard.”

That being said, here are my top 5 Nutritional types to help you achieve your summer fitness goals:

  1. DRINK TONS OF WATER!! HOT WATER TOO! – Staying hydrated is extremely important as the temperatures rise, however, it is also very important to help you get through your workouts safely. In addition, many times when you’re “feeling hungry” you may actually just be thirsty. This is very true when you’re watching your favorite series on Netflix after a long day of work, when we get the urge to snack, you should grab for water instead. For me? When I was preparing for both of my bodybuilding shows, herbal teas were my savior! Hot water helps you feel full. Herbal teas are not caffeinated, so they hydrate you, and I found it very relaxing. This helped me not feel so hungry before bed, and it relaxed me so that I could have a good deep sleep.
  2. MAKE SURE YOU GET PLENTY OF REST!! – When you’re trying to loose weight, you are generally restricting calories, meaning you are consuming less energy than you would normally. So, in order to conserve energy you must get plenty of rest. This will also help to minimize your stress levels, and the stress you are putting on your body. With ample rest, your body is able to recover properly so that you can workout, and complete your daily tasks.
  3. MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE EXERCISING REGULARLY!! – It is very important that you exercise, especially WEIGHT TRAIN while trying to loose weight. Anytime, no matter how safe the diet, you will inevitably loose muscle mass along with fat and excess water. In order to minimize the amount of muscle you loose, you must weight train on a regular and consistent basis!
  4. EAT PLENTY OF PROTEIN!!! – This is very important when you’re trying to slim down! You will inevitably loose muscle mass, so you want to keep as much of it as possible, this is why you must eat a sufficient amount of protein. Also, because you will be weight training, you must eat enough protein to feed and protect your muscles. Lastly, protein is the most difficult energy source for your body to breakdown, this will help you feel fuller for longer. The amount of protein you should be eating, or the amount of calories you should be consuming to reach your fitness goals, should be determined by an experienced and trained professional.
  5. EAT PLENTY OF GREENS!!! – Sometimes, no matter how much water you drink, or herbal tea, you will still feel super hungry! Trust me, I know! I’ve been there! This is why I say to you that veggies, especially green veggies, are unlimited when dieting. They are high fiber, high water, and low carb. They will help keep you full, and they are full of essential nutrients to help keep you HEALTHY!!! That is the most important thing, you want to maintain your health over a certain “body image.” If you are using a calorie counter app, I would not include my vegetables, but I would include all of my fruits! Avocado is a fruit so please log it! So are tomatoes! Log those too! But veggies? Eat all the veggies, so to speak.

BEST OF LUCK ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS GOALS! ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP WHENEVER TRYING TO ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS! ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH ATHLETIC EXPERIENCE! THIS WILL HELP TO ENSURE THAT YOU REACH YOUR GOALS IN THE SAFEST AND MOST EFFECTIVE WAY POSSIBLE.


How Exercise can help to slow down the aging process

This past Friday was my 27th Birthday! And I had the best time this weekend celebrating it with friends and family. I love my Birthday to be honest, it’s second only to Christmas as my favorite time of year. A lot of people once they past 25 stop loving their birthdays and start to get scared of their birthdays. This is mostly because they’re scared of aging. I think we’ve all been told at some point that turning 30 is so scary! And as I creep closer and closer to the dirty thirty, I am less and less afraid of it. I’m not afraid of getting older, because to be honest I don’t feel very old at all! I feel amazing! I mean every year I get more and more athletic, and I’ve become stronger as well. I strive to improve every year, and because of this my confidence grows. I feel way better about who I am now than I did when I was 19. And fitness had a lot to do with it! So many of my clients, especially my female clients are afraid of getting older. Mostly because they are afraid of loosing their looks, their youth, and their vitality. They always ask me, “how do you look so good?” As if somehow my answer would change, and there is some sort of magical pill that will keep them young and beautiful forever. However, I always tell them that the fountain of youth lies within a balanced diet and regular exercise! This article is basically going to talk about how regular exercise can slow down the hands of time, and will help you age much more gracefully than if you didn’t exercise at all.

Me and some of my closest friends at my 27th birthday party ❤

First of all, your age is just a number. It really doesn’t mean that much, and you should never let your age define who you are. You are capable of being whoever you want, you don’t have to be a feeble, sick, weak, or fat person if you don’t want to be. And you sure as hell don’t have to feel old either! In my mind, you are only as old as you feel, and for the most part this works out pretty well for me, except for the fact that there are social expectations for you as you age… Other than that, I am convinced that I’m not a day over 21 😛 But let’s get down to brass tacks, how exactly can exercises slow down the aging process?

How aging effects your health vs. Exercise:

Heart and Circulation Effect of Aging Effect of Exercise
Resting heart rate Increase Decrease
Maximum heart rate Decrease Slows Decrease
Maximum pumping capacity Decrease Increase
Heart muscle stiffness Increase Decrease
Blood vessel stiffness Increase Decrease
Blood pressure Increase Decrease
Blood
Number of red blood cells Decrease No change
Blood viscosity (blood thickness) Increase Decrease
Lungs
Maximum oxygen uptake Decrease No change
Intestines
Speed of emptying Decrease Increase
Bones
Calcium content and strength Decrease Increase
Muscles
Muscle mass and strength Decrease Increase
Metabolism
Metabolic rate Decrease Increase
Body fat Increase Decrease
Blood sugar Increase Decrease
Insulin levels Increase Decrease
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol Increase Decrease
HDL (“good”) cholesterol Decrease Increase
Sex hormone levels Decrease Slight Decrease
Nervous System
Nerve conduction and reflexes Slower Decrease
Quality of sleep Decrease Increase
Risk of depression Increase Decrease
Memory lapses Increase Decrease

As you can see, exercise has a positive effect on your major organs and regulatory systems. Obviously the process of aging is inevitable, but exercise can either decrease or slow down a lot of the effects that aging has on our vital organs, and regulatory systems. Not only does exercise effect our physical health in a positive way, but our mental and emotional health as well. Aging can have a very negative effect on a person’s self-esteem. However, regular exercise can have a very positive effect on a person’s self-esteem. Exercise along with a balanced diet can improve your overall body composition, making you leaner, and stronger. The strength and empowerment you gain in the gym will also give you an increased sense of self-worth and confidence. Aging however, weakens your body. If you don’t exercise, as you age you will loose muscle mass and bone density. This will make you weaker, frail, and more prone to injury. You will loose your independence much more quickly as you age if you don’t exercise, than if you did. As the saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you loose it.” This is very true, as you can see in the chart above, if you don’t keep your body active, your body’s ability to perform will decrease much more quickly than it would with regular exercise.

Exercise is great for the body, mind, and spirit. Regular exercise and activity helps to keep all of these areas youthful. However, if you do decide to improve your physical fitness, and engage in an exercise program, please do so with caution! Especially if you are a beginner! There is no use in injuring yourself and setting yourself further back than when you started. Start off small, choose activities you enjoy, and ask for help! Always consult a professional when it comes to your health! Speak to a doctor, a nutritionist, and a well known coach/personal trainer to get you to a healthier, and longer lasting life! What is the point of living to 100 if you aren’t able to do anything when you get there? Eat well, workout, and you will have a more youthful and fulfilling life as you age.

My younger sister, me, and our friend Morgan celebrating my birthday this past weekend ❤


The Top Three Not So Obvious Affects That Alcohol Has On Our Bodies

Hey Guys! So the holidays are over, and it is the beginning of a New Year! Most of us are looking forward to exciting plans and new beginnings for the year 2016. In addition, I’m sure that a lot of us are happy to get back into our regular eating and workout routines now that the celebrations are over. I know I am!! Which brings me to my first topic of the New Year. I’m sure a lot of us have fitness goals planned for ourselves this year, but I’m not sure if many of you know the affect alcohol can have on your fitness goals… other than the obvious. So, I made a list of the top three! Now don’t let the titles of each point fool you! There’s bits of information in there that I’m sure many of you didn’t know alcohol could do!

  1. When you’re drunk or while you’re drinking you tend to eat more!

I’m sure we’re all quite aware of this, especially if you’re drinking on a regular basis. However, I’m sure that most of you are not aware that it is because alcohol has no nutritional value, it stimulates our appetites. So not only are you drinking empty calories, it stimulates your appetite for foods that are high in fat and sugar. In addition, because alcohol loosens our inhibitions, we stop thinking about the negative affects that alcohol has, and we also stop worrying about our diets. Basically alcohol torpedoes your diet to put it lightly. Drinking alcohol is a social event, this means that it is usually accompanied by food, and party food is mostly unhealthy food. So you’re drinking empty calories, you become hungry, you loose your inhibitions, and there just happens to be plenty of party food around, so basically set yourself up for failure. But that’s not all! And this is where the not so obvious affects of alcohol come in. Certain types of alcohol like wine, and beer have sugars in them aka carbs. Or if you’re mixing your alcohol with juice, pop (soda), or any other sugary drink, you’re increasing your blood sugar levels, as well as your blood alcohol levels. As you keep mixing, or drinking your wine, your blood sugar levels keep rising. Even if you didn’t eat any drunk food that night, (pizza, burgers, fries, the list goes on) your insulin levels will still stay pretty high because of all the sugars you drank from a night of binge drinking. That means the next day, because your insulin levels are still above normal, you will crave hangover foods the next day. Hangover foods are the same as drunk food, high carb and high fat meals. So even if you don’t eat party food the night you’re drinking, you are very likely to eat comfort foods the next day. This is one of the many reasons why drinking and dieting do not mix!

2. Alcohol Lowers Testosterone Levels

A lot of women reading this article might be thinking, what does this have to do with me? Ladies, even though we have lower testosterone than males, doesn’t mean we don’t need it! Testosterone has a strong fat burning effect, however, this is reduced once you consume alcohol. In addition, testosterone is much needed in growing lean body tissue. If alcohol reduces your testosterone, it will decrease your potential for lean gains, and if you have less muscle, that will mean it will slow down your metabolic rate aka your metabolism. Lower testosterone will slow down your metabolism, decrease your ability to burn fat, and it will decrease your ability to make gains in the gym… basically alcohol makes you fatter in more ways than one. Also boys? If you’re afraid of getting man boobs, then you may want to think of reducing how often and how much alcohol you drink! Over a period of time if you keep up your heavy drinking, you will quicken the aromatization of androgens into estrogen in the body, giving you many boobies. and nobody wants that!

3. Dehydration

Again, this may seem pretty obvious to you, but dehydration along with lower testosterone levels, decrease your body’s ability to synthesize proteins. Alcohol dehydrates your muscle tissue, making it more difficult for it to absorb protein and grow. Along with lower testosterone levels, this further weakens your body’s ability to increase lean muscle tissue, and therefore further decreases your body’s ability to burn fat. In addition, because your muscles are dehydrated it is much more difficult for them to contract. This makes your workouts that much more difficult the day after a night of drinking. Alcohol weakens your gym performance, your body’s ability to absorb protein, and grow muscle. This will only take you further away from reaching your fitness goals, not to mention all the calories in alcohol, as well as the drunk/hangover food too! Lastly, when your body is dehydrated it blocks essential nutrients that are key to muscle contraction, relaxation, and growth. These nutrients include minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. Dehydration makes you feel tired and weak. This is why hangovers suck so much!

So, it’s a new year, and if you have any fitness plans this year, I would consider putting down that glass of wine! Drinking is fun, but it is not necessary. I can say that, because the vast majority of the year I’m not drinking, and somehow I still have friends believe it or not! They enjoy drinking, and that’s fine, but for me, my fitness is far more important to me. I love being social, so I will still find ways to have fun with my friends without a drink in my hand. That is a personal choice of mine. Not many people can do that, and that is OK too! But if our fitness goals are important to you, then maybe you should consider going out less? It is your body and if you want to feel good living in it, then sometimes it’s not worth another Friday night at the bar.

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This is a photo of when my friends and I ended up at the bar after my annual ugly sweater Christmas party! Like I said, I rarely drink, but when I do, it’s with the best people ❤


Merry Fitmas Day 7: I worked out hard in the gym, I can eat whatever I want right?

No, just because you’re working out in the gym, does not mean you can now reward yourself by eating whatever you want. Even if you’re trying to grow and make gains, does not mean you can hit up McDonald’s post workout all the time.

There are so many myths and there is so much confusion about nutrition and eating! When it comes to fitness, I think nutrition is the biggest hurdle for most people. It is the most confusing part of trying to reach your fitness goals, and to be honest, I don’t blame you! We’re always being told different things when it comes to nutrition. My goal is to try and clear up as much of the bogus that is out there, in a way that is plain and simple.

So, when it comes to eating and working out, you should always eat within your macro-nutrients. As a general fitness enthusiast, meaning you’re not a high performance athlete, or competing in a show, you can generally eat whatever foods you like, as long as they fit within your daily macro-nutrient allowance. However, that being said, a lot of the “treats” that are out there will max out your macro-nutrients for the day fairly quickly. Generally speaking, the more processed foods you eat, the quicker your calories/macro-nutrients get eaten up, and the less amount of food you get to eat through out the day. Eating this way, and trying to stay on a diet is very ineffective. “Flexible dieting” is great in the sense that you can have a treat once in a while, but if you’re eating processed meals all the time, you will not perform as well as you could be if you’re eating whole foods.

So, even though you are working out, you MUST stay within your macro-nutrient/calorie limits each day. If you’re working out consistently, you must eat consistently as well in order to reach your fitness goals, whether it be to lose weight, or to gain size. The more “cheat meals” you have where you eat whatever you want and you don’t count it in your macros, the further away you get from achieving your goals. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t indulge and treat yourself, but it is no longer a treat when it becomes a weekly thing. If you’re treating yourself every week, it is a part of your regular diet. It is a habit that you have created. Even binge drinking every weekend, is an indulgence that you do every week, and it is considered part of your lifestyle. Cheat meals or indulgences are a once in a month thing MAYBE! That is the only way you can really call it a “cheat meal” LOL is if it is a treat that you don’t have often. Something that you will enjoy, because you only really have it once in a while. That is when a cheat meal can truly be enjoyed without any guilt, because you eat and workout consistently, and your cheat meal is something that you earned.

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My sister and I posing with Santa at my Ugly Sweater Christmas Party this past Saturday 🙂 So excited for Santa to pay us a visit this Friday!!!

 

 


Merry Fitmas! Day 6: Is it possible to save/or make up calories?

Merry Fitmas boys and girls! The question of the day is, can I save or make up calories? There is a myth out there that has people believing that if they binged the day before, that they can somehow make up for all those extra calories the next day by eating less. People also believe this about sleep. There is the myth that if you partied, or stayed up super late one night, that you can catch up on your sleep later on. The truth of the matter is, you cannot make up your sleep, just like eating less the next day after binge eating is NOT the answer to making up for those excess calories!

No matter how much you may have drifted from your diet and your macro-nutrient count the one day, does not change the amount of calories that you need to function properly the next day. The amount of daily calories you need doesn’t change because you made the mistake of overeating, just like the amount of sleep your body requires a day doesn’t change because you under-slept. Overeating and under sleeping are setbacks, and the only thing you can do is leave it in the past, and move on. If you overate yesterday, then it is your mission today to stick to your daily calorie/macro-nutrient allowance, and leave the past in the past. Accept that you made a mistake and MOVE ON! Do not punish yourself the next day by eating less. This will only increase the chances of your binge eating again. I’ve written an article about this before, this cycle of under eating and binge eating will only keep your body looking the same, and feeling like sh!t. So don’t do it! You will still lose weight, if that is your goal, only if you leave your mistakes in the past, continue to eat consistently with your diet (sticking to your macro-nutrients to a tee), and workout.

The best thing that you can do if you overate the day before, is to workout, and like I said before, stick to your macro-nutrient goals for the day! Eat a lot of veggies, and make sure to have some fiber (or a fiber supplement) to help bind to the sugar left in your stomach so that you can rid of it more quickly. If you don’t know how much you should be eating a day, or what your macro-nutrients are, then ask me LOL Or any other professional who knows how to help you figure these things out. Happy Holidays guys! This post is NOT AN EXCUSE TO OVEREAT!! It’s just to bust the myth that you can somehow make up for it by under eating the next day 🙂

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On the left, backstage for my first Figure Show on October 10th 2015, and on the left was Friday December 11th 2015. Two months apart! My posing isn’t the best on the right… BUT I’ve put on some size and stayed lean! WOO HOO! That’s from sticking to my macros and working out consistently 🙂 Stay focused guys no matter what hurdles may come your way!

 


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 🙂

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 😉 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.

MERRY FITMAS GUYS! HOPE THIS HELPS YOU WHEN TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHEN YOU SHOULD EAT MOM’S SHORTBREAD COOKIES LOL 😛 JK

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