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Month: November 2014

FlapJacked Protein Pancakes

FlapJacked Protein Pancakes

Happy Monday Everyone!

On Friday I got a special delivery: FLAPJACKED Protein Pancakes! I love nothing more than a good pancake for breakfast (or lunch…or dinner) and up until now I have always made my own concoctions which sometimes turned out awesome, yet sometimes were a complete failure ending with batter all over the kitchen and an angry fit girl! I stumbled upon FlapJacked via Instagram and was not only inspired by all of the delicious-looking creations made by their customers, but I was SO excited that someone created a healthy way to enjoy my favorite breakfast food.

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   Packed with 15-17g of Protein a serving (depending on what flavor you get) of these fluffy pieces of heaven is only 200 calories and the best part? No added sugar! In the past I have tried a couple different protein pancake brands that have just not met the needs of my tastebuds so it was safe to say I was skeptical when mixing up the batter to the Cinnamon Apple flavor that I decided to try first. I was definitely impressed with how EASY it was to make these- just add water?! Seriously?? Within 10 minutes my first batch of pancakes was done and the whole house smelled of a delicious cinnamon-apple combo: good sign! I decided to mix a little bit of French Vanilla Casein Protein with water (just enough to make it like a frosting) to add to the top of my pro-pancakes and of course….SPRINKLES! Before I knew it I had a delicious looking stack waiting for me to dive into.

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Now for the important part: How did they taste?

Let’s just say it was love at first bite. These were healthy? I had to re-read the ingredients again just to make sure. The pancakes tasted JUST as amazing as they smelled and satisfied every craving I had. Even Josh approved and he is NOT easy to please when it comes to food. At only 200 calories these make for a great addition to breakfast or even a perfect late-night snack. Tonight I plan on whipping up the Banana Hazelnut flavor so I will let you guys know how that goes!

Check out some more information and order your own bag for only $9.99 at www.flapjacked.com. Let me know what you think of your new favorite breakfast go-to!

 

~Alessandra

Healthy is an outfit that looks different on everybody.

Healthy is an outfit that looks different on everybody.

  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants used to be one of my favorite movies growing up. A magical pair of jeans that fit 4 different best friends giving them each confidence & self love. If only something so magical existed today!

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While this movie (like most) is unrealistic, I think the message we can take from it is valuable: “Love the skin you’re in”. Unfortunately instead of all of us loving our own shape and size, we focus as a nation on becoming a size 2, trimming our bodies down to nothing using “waist training”, or defining what “perfect” is. Taking extreme measures to become what our society has defined as “perfect” is what a LOT of women & girls are doing to fit in, but why do we feel the need to fit into something that is not only unattainable for most, but unhealthy?

 

“Healthy is an outfit that looks different on everybody.”

I heard this quote recently and it really spoke to me. As a personal trainer, I work with men and women of all different shapes and sizes. I certainly would not classify only my “skinny” or fit clients as healthy because I have clients who are slightly overweight who take better care of themselves than some of my clients who are average weight. Who are we to define what healthy is? I think the most important factor of incorporating a healthy lifestyle is finding what works for you. What makes you feel the best? What makes you the happiest? What fuels your body in a powerful way? I think a lot of individuals come to me looking to lose weight, or better themselves in some way and that is GREAT however I think they expect me to give them this magic potion that is going to be the secret to their success. There is not one diet that is going to work for everyone, there is not one training routine that is going to work for everyone. I can give you guidelines and support to help you along the process but what it comes down to is what YOU can do to help yourself. If eating clean works for you, AWESOME. If working out first thing in the morning before you do anything works for you, AWESOME. If following IIFYM (if it fits your macros) works best for you, AWESOME. The best advice I can give as a trainer and lifestyle coach is to find what moves you. If you find yourself miserable from a strict diet. Ditch it! What’s the point of stressing yourself out over something that you control? Admit to yourself that this is not the solution for you and move along to find your niche. I have tried just about every diet. I have cut carbs, cut fat, and Paleo-ed my way around town but none of those lasted- because they weren’t for me. One of my most recent discoveries is figuring out that obsessively counting calories was also not for me. I had come to the point where I would NEED to input my meals into the app on my phone before I even got to enjoy them. I would feel immediate guilt if I went over my set number for that day. What for? Did I gain weight because of it? Nope. It was just causing unhappiness and added stress to my life. I decided it was time to ditch the app. Since deleting it from my phone and just going through my day eating simply when my body told me it was hungry is SO much better.

I am still learning SO much about my body and how it works and it truly amazes me. I found the motivation for this post and for ditching my calorie counting from a book written by someone who is a role model, inspiration and a simply amazing individual and friend, Kasey Arena. Her and Heather Waxman joined forces to write their book, BODY PEACE which is a 30 day guideline to banishing body shame & guilt while creating a happy relationship with food. While I am only a few days in my journey, I already highly recommend this book to ALL women because if nothing else, it is a way to get to know and love your body in a healthy way. You can purchase it here—> {Body Peace Book} via Amazon! I can’t wait to do a FULL review once my 30 day journey is complete!

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   We all are human, yet we are each built differently. Not one person in this world has the same make-up as you do. Big-boned, petite, tall, skinny, short, muscular, pear-shaped, big hips–whatever it may be that you have decided you HATE about yourself is exactly what makes you, YOU. I used to hate my curly hair growing up along with my name (Alessandra). I begged my Mom every day for a straightener & any hair product that would get rid of my curls and I remember seriously considering changing my name to Alex (because that’s what Mary-Kate Olsen got to be named in one of her movies) and because it was more common.  Now, those two traits are my two favorite things about myself, because they make me ME. They make me different. Stop finding things that you want to change about yourself and focus on the amazing features that make you YOU.

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Remember: LOVE the skin you’re in!

 

~Alessandra

 

 

 

How Important is your Music to your Workout? You May be Surprised by the Answer.

How Important is your Music to your Workout? You May be Surprised by the Answer.

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How many times have you pulled up to the gym, reached to your passenger seat, and realized that your headphones weren’t there. They are still sitting at home on your night stand. Do you turn around and get them? I won’t lie, I’ve gone back for them. It’s not that I hate working out and I need a distraction, but I knew that they helped me take my workouts to the next level. Even while I did this, I didn’t realize the science behind it that actually made my case even stronger.

There are many benefits to listening to music while you workout. For starters, and to cover the most obvious first, music is a distraction to the work you are doing. It produces a lower perceived effort for the workout you are putting yourself through. The music drowns out that little voice in the back of your head telling you to stop and telling you it’s too hard. As we get more tired, we turn the volume up because that voice gets louder. But it doesn’t stop there. University conducted research concluded that music boosts your endurance by 15%. 15%!!! It does this by improving your “feeling states” while working out. It helps us derive more pleasure from what we are doing. By doing this, it creates an atmosphere for us that allows us to workout to near exhaustion VOLUNTARILY!

The man conducting this research, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, had this to say: “The synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance while the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion.” Meaning- music has a “magical” effect on us as we exercise and lets us go much farther than we could if we did not use it.

However, all music is not created equal. The research further shows that the optimum music for working out is between 120 and 140 beats per minute. This is faster paced, but not too fast. It’s a pace-setter for us as we go. It’s what keeps us moving. We synchronize our bodies to the music to create the ultimate workout experience.

Not buying it? Put it to the test. Workout with and without your headphones. Which workout went better? How hard did you push yourself in each? Give us a shout and let us know!

 

10 Ways to Beat the Holiday Bulge: Part 1

10 Ways to Beat the Holiday Bulge: Part 1

Thanksgiving & Christmas have always been my favorite time of the year. This is the first time I will be away from my family for Thanksgiving but I could not be more excited to fly home to CT for 10 days for Christmas! Some of my best memories involve stuffing our Italian faces for Thanksgiving (3 or 4 courses usually!), baking Christmas cookies with my family, and of course enjoying my Grandmama’s world-famous Lasagna while eating Papa’s “Ta-ta’s” aka creamy mashed potatoes for dessert. I know I am the not only one who revolves the holidays around food so with the holidays vastly approaching (although it still feels like summer in San Diego!), I thought it would be a great idea to share simple ways you can stay healthy & happy this holiday season while still enjoying yourself.

The holidays are a time of happiness, sharing & caring. So why not care about something that allows you to be YOU every single day? Your BODY.

Here are 10 steps to a healthier, happier holiday

 

  1. When doing your holiday baking, swap unhealthy oils, butter & more for healthier options! You won’t taste the difference, I promise. Here’s my conversion chart.                healthy baking subs
  2. Practice portion control. We tend to over-eat by consuming extra large portions of our meals. Fill your dish with a balanced combination of protein, carbs & fats then skip out on seconds. There will always be more leftovers later, no need to stuff your stomach to capacity now.
  3. Indulge in your favorite dessert…in moderation. Cookies, cookies & more cookies. My house is filled with hundreds for the entire month of December! Pick a couple of your favorite and call it a day. No need to pig-out on every single dessert in the room.
  4. If you’re hosting a get-together at your own home, guess what? YOU control what types of food you serve. Opt for healthier options of your favorite meals. A healthy sweet potato dish will be just as tasty as one full of unnecessary fats, sugars & sweets. Do your research and check out my Pinterest Board for some ideas (Healthy Recipes)
  5. Make sure you continue to stay hydrated! It is so easy to skip this healthy tip especially when the weather gets cold! This will help flush out toxins and decrease the bloat from the treats you do enjoy.
  6. Fill your plate with equal to or more veggies than whatever else is on it. Many (including myself) tend to jump right to the potatoes, bread, turkey, ham and lasagna leaving no room for our favorite green friends. Don’t skimp on the greens as this will help with digestion.
  7. Get a workout in before the big feast! Head outdoors for a run, hit the gym if it’s open or find an open area in your house to get some plyos in. A 30 minute sweat sesh will make you feel energized and your holiday dinner can be a great refuel!
  8. Take it easy on the alcohol! Since your body can’t metabolize alcohol, everything else you consume while enjoying a drink or two gets put “on hold” until the alcohol is out of your body. Hello easy way to gain fat! Limit yourself to 1-2 drinks and try to avoid those sugary cocktails!
  9. Take a walk post-meal! Ever since I can remember after each round of Thanksgiving dinner my family would go for a walk around my Grandmother’s neighborhood. Not only is this great for digestion (as opposed to getting sucked into the couch) but you will feel so much better!
  10. Finally, don’t get too caught up in the holiday hustle. This is a time you should enjoy with your loved ones so if you end up having a few extra cookies, or too much lasagna…don’t hate yourself for it! You are human AND you know a great personal training company…hint hint 😉 www.sd-evolution.com for training plans!

With these thoughts kept in mind throughout the next two months, you can avoid extra weight-gain, holiday blues & that sick to your stomach feeling after consuming too much.

Remember, life is all about a healthy balance. Find what works for you!

~Alessandra

Top 5 Mistakes Made in Workout Programs- Make Sure this isn’t You!

Top 5 Mistakes Made in Workout Programs- Make Sure this isn’t You!

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I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made a couple of these myself, so don’t take this personal. We’re here to keep you honest and help get the most out of your routine! Some of these hold more weight than others, but the bottom line is that fixing all of these issues will help you get the most out of each and every workout. So here we go!

MISTAKE #1: NO WARMUP

Not going through a warm-up prior to resistance training. Now I don’t mean a set of 20 pushups or 20 reps with 135lbs before chest day. Yes, that’s important too, but most of us are already on top of that part. I mean a cardio warmup. This should be no more than 5 minutes, and personally, I go in the 3-5 minute range. Keep it short and sweet. This is meant to begin raising your heart rate and increase blood flow. It shouldn’t be a sprint, a power walk will do just fine. The purpose isn’t to become tired, it is simply to get your body prepared for exercise. There are also plenty of direct benefits that will make you feel less like this is a waste of time. For example, during this warmup, your blood vessels begin to dilate. This allows increased blood flow which leads to that awesome pump we all crave each workout. A warmup also increases the secretion of hormones. The additional hormones are automatically secreted to provide your body with energy for the work it realizes it is about to perform. More hormones pumping=more productive workout!

MISTAKE #2: TOO MUCH CARDIO BEFORE WEIGHTS

Some of you may already be used to doing cardio before your workout, but perhaps a little too much. I’ve heard the logic time and time again.. “I do cardio before weights because I know I won’t do it after. I’ll end up just going home.” This is actually extremely common and I’ve had countless clients who I’ve had to correct this strategy for. As I said before, keep this cardio down to five minutes or less. Any more than that and you could be negatively affecting your workout. For starters, doing cardio first requires work. Work requires energy. By using this energy before you weight train, you are decreasing your strength and affecting the amount of force you can produce while resistance training. This leads to overall lower intensity and much slower results. Next, by doing cardio first, you are tiring your core. A tired core is a weak core. Our base starts with our core, and if it is weakened, it makes us more susceptible to injury.

As an added bonus of doing cardio after your workout as opposed to before, you will actually burn more fat. To cut down fat, we need to burn our fat stores. But to do this, we must first burn off our glycogen stores to get to the fat. Weight training typically uses glycogen stores for energy, which means that we will have much less glycogen to burn off during our cardio before we get to that golden spot in fat storage. So- there’s a little bit of the science behind program design strategy to burn more fat!

MISTAKE #3: TOO MANY MACHINES

Every gym has a giant section of shiny new machines. This section is pretty appealing to the new guys at the gym. They look cool, they are easy to use, and they make working out more comfortable. You even get to sit down while you go through the exercise! Well that’s the first issue.. You want to engage your core in as many exercises as possible during your workout. Doing any exercise in a seated or supported environment removes that element immediately. Not to mention, machines don’t place as much stress on your muscles as free weights do. Free weights allow for proper movement patterns during compound exercises. It is near impossible for me to call any machine exercise a compound exercise. Some arguments can be made but the bottom line is that they just aren’t as effective. I’m not saying machines don’t have any place in your routine. I love finishing some workouts on machines. They can be great for isolation movements, so I like to use them to get a killer finishing pump. The point- build your routine around free weights, not machines.

MISTAKE #4: DOING THE SAME WORKOUT

If I had a dollar for every person I’ve seen doing the same workout at the same time on the same days, I’d be a rich man. Half the time, I don’t even need to see their workout to know it hasn’t changed. Do you know why? Because they look the same. Don’t fall into the trap of making your routine, ROUTINE. A workout can be great the first time, second time, maybe even a third time if you’re lucky. But your body is smart. It gets used to doing the same thing. It adapts to the workout. Why do we get stuck in this common error? There are plenty of reasons- It may have worked for you in the past, so you turn to it again. You may have seen someone else doing it who is in incredible shape. And here is what may be the most common answer- you don’t know what else to do! You may have had a free training session with a trainer and then decided to just repeat that workout. I know plenty of instances where this was the case. There are plenty of places to turn if you need help designing your routine. Personal training may be one way to go. Online training is another, more cost-effective option. (We happen to offer both of these at www.sd-evolution.com) 😉 If not those, you can find broader, more general workouts that may not be designed specifically for your body, but are still different and could be worth a shot.

MISTAKE #5: YOU CAN’T OUT-WOROUT A BAD DIET

This mistake isn’t a part of your workout program, but is still a major part of your fitness journey. I’m going to include it because your workout program will be useless if you aren’t controlling what you eat. I’ve had many clients come to me with minimal results initially because they thought that just by increasing their workouts, they could continue eating the way they had been. But working out alone isn’t enough. I argue that your diet is more important than your workout. Don’t get me wrong, they are both vital to good health and seeing results, but your diet will control exactly how your body changes. Whether you are going for weight loss or muscle gain, your nutrition needs to be on point to achieve your goals.

The Ultimate Guide to Chia & Flax Seed

The Ultimate Guide to Chia & Flax Seed

Yesterday was a total recovery day for me. I spent the evening re-aligning my goals, planning my weekly meals, & of course grocery shopping! I decided to look back on my logs in MyFitnessPal (I have been faithfully keeping track of my workouts and nutrition for a year now!) to see how much my goals have changed. I definitely am fully adapted and happy with clean eating while enjoying my weekly treats. My body has never felt better however I noticed two items that since moving to San Diego I have somehow forgotten about: Chia & Flax Seed.

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My Mom is a personal trainer back in CT so at home I had all of these healthy items readily available without really thinking about it. I used to consume both of these superfoods daily and to be honest, I was only NOW realizing how much of a difference they made in my life. I’m sure you’ve heard of both of these power foods before, but do you really know what they are? Do you know how they can benefit you? Most importantly, do you know how to incorporate them into your daily routine?

Lucky for you I am bringing you the ultimate guide to Chia Seeds & Flax Seed!

Before I tell you what to do with them, it’s SO important to know what exactly each of these dietary staples are.

The Chia Seed is actually a flowering plant from the mint family. (Fun fact: remember the Chia Pet?? Yup that grows from a Chia seed!) Chia means “strength” and contains healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrate & protein. They are an unprocessed whole-grain that the body is able to absorb.

The Flaxseed on the other hand cannot be digested by the human body in its full form so it much be purchased “ground” or done at home before consuming. Also rich in Omega-3’s, both seeds are great sources of fiber.

How can you benefit from taking Chia & Flax daily?

  • Feel fuller longer. Due to the fiber content (both soluble and insoluble), consuming these with a meal will help keep you feeling full and decrease blood sugar spikes.
  • Healthy skin & hair- thanks to the Omega-3’s!
  • Antioxidants- both are full of antioxidants while Flaxseed has more than any other whole food including blueberries!

Although these seeds are tiny, there is no doubt they are a superfood and can be added into the diet in so many ways! Here are my favorite ways to incorporate them:

  • Sprinkle on your  oats, cereal, yogurt or vegetables.
  • Blend in a protein shake or dissolve in a glass of water.
  • Bake in absolutely ANY treat for added nutritional value.

The options are endless when looking for ways to add Chia & Flax into your diet. One serving of each per day is recommended to benefit from these two power foods. I challenge you to pick some up from your local grocery store this week as one easy step to living a healthy lifestyle!

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step in your life.”

 

Happy hump day everyone! Only two more days to a well-deserved weekend 🙂

 

~Alessandra

 

How to turn a setback into a comeback

How to turn a setback into a comeback

Hi everyone!

Wow, what a crazy couple of weeks it has been for Josh & I! Last week we had 4 of Josh’s friends visit us here in San Diego, which was such a blast. It was so much fun showing them our favorite spots around our new city. From an 8 mile trek to Potato Chip Rock, to my favorite (yet dangerous) cliff walk through the mountains leading us to Black’s Beach, to some mini-golf and ice cream adventures, safe to say we are WORN OUT.(See the pics below!) Although we kept up with our workouts, we both took breaks from our strict eating habits to enjoy the time with our friends. As much as I enjoyed all of the treats I was craving my chicken and veggies by the end of the week. Funny how that happens!

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One of the last nights I headed out with the girls while Josh and his friends did their thing at the casino. Prior to going out I told myself that I was going to have a good time, enjoy a glass of wine or two and just unwind- something I don’t make time for very often. Although I have given up my crazy party days, the past year I have enjoyed a glass of wine here and there with dinner so I figured tonight wouldn’t be any different. Well….after two glasses of wine I was feeling pretty toasty. Considering that day was a lower-carb day for me, and only eating salad for dinner, I didn’t factor in that two glasses of wine would hit me more than usual. Not only did I begin to hate how I was starting to feel (which also began to ruin a perfectly good girl’s night), but feelings of anxiety started to hit me. I kept thinking of my past and all of the problems and negativity alcohol had caused me. It was like a flashback to college days when I would say or do things that I would never have done if I were sober. This wasn’t me. I fell in love with my body and my mind when I started focusing on fitness and my health. I didn’t need alcohol to have a good time anymore, in fact I would always end up having a better time without it. Even though it was just a couple glasses of wine and I was drinking multiple glasses of water in between, I was not happy with the decision I made that night. Not to mention one of the reasons why I was attracted and ended up falling in love with Josh was because he didn’t drink. After a week out of my element, I let the outside environment get the best of me. I had a setback in my journey and you know what? Right now at this very moment I am GLAD it happened.

Here’s why….

It took this setback to make me realize that I don’t even want or need those few glasses of wine here and there. What was my need for that? I couldn’t think of one besides conforming to what we think as a society as a reward or relaxing. Alcohol has no nutritional value to my body so why ingest it? I dislike how it makes me feel, it consists of empty calories and only brings negativity to me physically and mentally. I have no desire to bring anything but positive vibes into this beautiful life I have created.

With THAT being said, I decided to turn this setback into a comeback. After a Sunday spent resting up my body, today I planned my goals for this week, planned my meals, and everything else I needed to be successful. I set aside my blog topics, responded to client emails and got myself excited to continue being my best self. I have learned so much about myself this past year and although I’m sure there will always be learning, I am starting to realize what’s worth it and what’s not. We are all human, we will make mistakes..that’s life! It’s up to you to realize those mistakes and act on them. Surrounding myself with positive people, being in an uplifting relationship, and taking care of my body while inspiring my mind are always at the top of my to-do list.

 

When life throws you a curveball, it may hit you, but what you do after it does is what matters most.

Happy Monday & continue being YOU

~Alessandra