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SHOULD YOU CALL IT QUITS ON YOUR DIET?

SHOULD YOU CALL IT QUITS ON YOUR DIET?

Think back to the last time you had to deal with a period of high level stress. Now, I don’t want you to think about what exactly was causing the stress, but more so about how it affected you. Most likely, it impacted your daily life to a certain extent depending on the level of stress you were experiencing. Many individuals use food as a coping mechanism when experiencing high amounts of stress. Maybe you turned to food as comfort, maybe you went the opposite direction and simply did not have an appetite for days at a time. Neither of those options are beneficial to your health nor your goals of weight loss. On the other side of the spectrum dieting can actually induce stress in your life. Low-calorie diets have been shown to increase cortisol production which is our major stress hormone. That along with counting calories and macros can be incredibly stressful for (SOME) individuals. This is why we stress that:

  1. Dieting (or fat loss) should be a phase. Dieting is not a lifestyle, and you should not be in a caloric deficit for the entire year. Spending some time at maintenance, or even massing (gaining weight with the focus of muscle-building) is recommended to not only give your body time to recover from dieting, but also give you a mental break which will ultimately reduce stress levels. If you do however come to the realization that your diet is adding too much stress to your life, it may be time to reassess your goals in order to go through a more productive fat-loss phase at a later time. 
  2. Make sure you are choosing a diet that is a good fit for YOU. Counting macros certainly has a time and place, but it is not for everyone. Maybe you need a more general approach to start, maybe you need a more structured meal plan to follow. Chances are, if you are severely struggling with dietary adherence, it may be time to reassess your methods and try something new. (If you need help figuring out what may be best for you, email us HERE– we can help!)

With that being said, dieting is HARD. Harder for some than others, but it is also important to recognize that you are essentially putting your body into starvation mode (on purpose) when in a fat-loss phase. Your body is going to want to fight you, you will probably experience hunger, and that is normal in this phase. There are however a lot of great ways to combat these issues and in our next blog we will be discussing our favorite dieting tips so stay tuned there!

Obviously we can’t just flip to the next page of our lives and be stress-free (wouldn’t that be nice?), but there are ways to minimize your stress levels and how you handle your overall stressors. There are a few steps you can take to address this and move forward as a calmer, more efficient individual. 

step 1Identify what is stressing you out. Sometimes this is obvious, other times there may be underlying issues that you simply did not realize are messing with your head. Lack of sleep, a big life change such as moving, a restrictive diet, workplace drama or even your marital status can all cause some level of stress. Realizing what it is that is causing you higher levels of stress than normal is just as important as drawing a line between what it is that you can control versus what is beyond controllable. Be old-fashioned and grab a pen/paper (or use the Notes app in your phone is you’re more tech-savvy) and literally jot down everything causing anxiety to you at the very moment. Put a star next to what you have control over and work from there to see how you are going to start managing them. As far as those un-starred items? Simply make it aware to yourself that these are far beyond your control, and let be what will be.

step 3Structure your day. This is something that has really been life-changing for me personally as I have grown from being the most unorganized, late, “hot mess” individual to someone who utilizes a daily planner to schedule time slots for just about everything that needs to be accomplished. When you design a structured day, you are ultimately referring back to step 1 and controlling everything that can possibly be controlled. I find this method great for those who get overwhelmed with the “small stuff”. This can be as simple as using a planner, or just taking a blank sheet of paper and jotting down your daily schedule, what needs to get done and when it needs to be done by. I schedule everything from packing my lunch for the next day, to some downtime to read, to my training, and since I have started acting on living an organized life, I have GREATLY reduced the amount of stress I was perceiving. Every Sunday, I take some time to either mentally or physically take note of the week ahead and what it will consist of so that way when things DO pop up, I can be as prepared as possible to address them.

step 34Practice mindfulness. I can’t preach this one enough. Set aside even just 5 minutes out of your day- maybe after you shower at night, before your morning coffee or right before you hit the pillow- to sit in silence and just ponder your life. I start by pointing out all of the positives I can think of that I have going for me at the moment. Small things such as getting to spend some time with a certain loved one that day, hitting a new PR in the gym, or even a really delicious meal you had earlier. Let the good consume your mind for a few minutes and you won’t believe how much less stressed you immediately feel. When you focus on the positive, you will continue to act, think and be positive. 

While stress will never go away completely, you can do everything in your power to learn how to handle it best for your body and mind that are healthy, productive and will ultimately make you happier while still allowing you to achieve your goals. 

World Health Organization Declares Processed Meats Cause Cancer

World Health Organization Declares Processed Meats Cause Cancer

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We all know that things like bacon and hot dogs aren’t good for us, but a direct correlation to these types of processed meats causing cancer has put these thoughts on a new level. The World Health Organization is the most prominent group to make one of the most aggressive statements against processed meats. They followed that up by stating that red meat probably does too. The findings were determined by 22 international experts who reviewed decades of research regarding the connection between red meats, processed meats, and cancer. Many organizations have gone as far as to say there is a link between these types of meats and cancer, but no major association has gone as far as to make the connection and say that it causes it. This came across as mind-blowing to me.

I have a few red flags raised with this finding. First and foremost, they even go out of their way to say in this article that there were no direct studies performed with this report. What that means is they reviewed records of people who ate red meat, processed meats, and thousands of other foods in their lifetimes, and used their health data to come to a result. That makes it extremely difficult to determine that the rest of those individuals’ diets had no effect on their long-term health.

Next, you have to take into consideration the types of meats they were eating in their diets. You can imagine how significant the percentage probably is of people eating red meat via fast foods. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, etc… Considering the epidemic that our country is just now starting to get in front of, many people’s diets are thoroughly saturated with fast foods and other extremely unhealthy habits. Are these people setting themselves up for long-term health disasters? Yeah, they are…

Another major concern I have with this is lumping all red meats together. Before I dive in here, let me backtrack for a second and say that I don’t necessarily disagree with this statement regarding processed meat. My argument here is more directed toward red meat being tossed into this mess as well. Anytime you manufacture and process anything, in my mind, it is no longer “natural”. A hunter who takes a deer from his back yard straight to his table is eating natural meat. I will even expand this to say that large, food-manufacturing companies who make sure their animals are not pumped full of hormones and have passed all check-points to deem it organic are also in this “natural” category. But from there on out, all bets are off. So my point regarding specifically lumping all red meats together is that I would like to differentiate red meats. Not by type, but by how organic it truly is. We have been saying for a long time that the way our foods are genetically modified will have massively significant effects on our health. This was not the way our bodies were meant to ingest these foods. Of course it was going to catch up to us and cause all kinds of nasty diseases. It’s just not natural, and this is the price our bodies pay for consuming these chemicals on a daily basis. It’s almost unavoidable unless you are an extremely conscious health advocate who is actively researching health foods and what to specifically avoid. This isn’t just with meat, but 90% of the foods at your local supermarket.

With this all said, I think it is an extremely important finding. There may be a significant portion that I disagree with, but I think it brings a lot of light to a very important topic. If we can get this to reach the right areas of attention, maybe it will help us make more of a conscious effort to change how we look at and shop for food. For most of you reading this, you are probably already health-conscious and don’t take in a lot of those fast foods. But how many of you actually only buy organic? Honestly, I rarely do. But now it should be pretty eye-opening. Is avoiding cancer worth an extra few bucks a week to make sure we aren’t eating food full of hormones? Can we find a way to avoid the fast food and just make it ourselves using healthy ingredients? Yes and yes. This isn’t just for the long-term benefits either. If you have yet to make any changes, you will be amazed at how much better you feel in the short-term. Our processed foods diminish the nutritional benefits of real food. Do you have a friend who grows their own veggies? Go buy a tomato at the store and then snag one out of your buddy’s garden. It’s like your eating two different things. The taste and nutritional benefits are night and day.

Your health will be too.

 

Until next time,

Josh

Fit Fast Food- For those who live life on the go

Fit Fast Food- For those who live life on the go

No fast food

For some of us, it’s just a busy day here and there, but for others, busy is their entire life. There are no breaks for these people. Whether it’s work or family or keeping up with the kids’ schedules on top of their own. But in both of these instances, how can we survive without caving in to fast food? And it’s not because they crave it, but because that is simply the only food that they have time to take in. Fast food is the go-to for food on the go. What other options do we have?

Well fortunately, there are options that allow you to drive past McDonalds without worrying about what you’re going to have for lunch. Yes, they are going to take a little planning and a little preparation, but they are going to keep you healthy and happy for the long run.

Now with this, I am also considering the fact that it isn’t just getting the food that is consuming, some people just don’t have time to take a break and EAT it. I get that. Busy meetings, busy driving, busy finishing projects. So it isn’t just meal prep Sundays that are going to save you. There is more planning to be done on WHAT you’re making and what you’re buying.

To give you examples, I’m going to tell you what I do. But what I do is pretty extreme (and unreasonable) so I will follow that up with some more palatable options. For starters, I stock up on liquid egg whites. I have ten first thing in the morning to go with one and a half cups of oats. Now I know what you’re thinking, “how is eating ten egg whites and a big ass bowl of oats quick and easy?” It’s not. I don’t eat that. I DRINK that. I don’t cook the egg whites, I just drink the carton. (they’re pasteurized) And I hate eating oats. It takes way too long and I’m uncomfortably full after eating that many. So I blend them up into a fine powder, mix it with water, and drink that too. Overall, that’s breakfast in under 5 minutes- prepared and eaten. (honestly it takes me about 2 minutes… I chug and get it over with) My next meal is usually my pre-workout. That’s just a protein shake and some simple carbs. It could be some fruit, another smaller serving of oats coupled with Gatorade. Sometimes it’s a couple of Poptarts. My post-workout is another protein shake and a lot more simple carbs- my favorites are gummy bears or Gatorade. They are composed highly of dextrose, a sugar that your body absorbs almost immediately, which helps replenish your muscle glycogen and get you recovered ASAP. I’ll follow that up a couple hours later with a solid protein this time. This isn’t much of a “quick meal” but I have a little more time to eat it and I had my quick meals earlier in the day. This time it’s usually chicken and rice or a sweet potato. The remainder of my meals will consist of one more carton of egg whites (yes I drink 20 egg whites per day) and another solid protein and then finish my day usually with a slower digesting protein like greek yogurt or cottage cheese. But you get the idea. The egg whites are my “go-to” for when I’m on the run. I can throw down a carton while I’m driving somewhere and then all I have to worry about is a few minutes to eat my carbs, rather than finding 15-20 minutes to eat an entire meal.

Now I get that most people can’t stomach going “Rocky style” and throwing back some liquid eggs. So here are a couple options for your quick “go-to” for those times during the day when you would otherwise be skipping or eating nasty fast foods.

-Greek Yogurt. This is a protein punch that won’t take you long to eat. One of these usually has around 15-20 grams of protein. So depending on your needs, pack one or two of these and you’re golden.

-Probiotic Smoothie. Now this one has an asterisk next to it. These are the yogurt smoothies you see in the store. Keefer is the brand I go with. They are another good, quick protein sources, but they usually also come with a lot of sugar. So if this is going to be one of your choices, it needs to be first thing in the morning or pre/post workout. During these times, your body can use that sugar to replenish your body rather than store that unused energy as fat.

-Cottage cheese. Sticking in the same consistency as yogurt. Another snack that is quick to go down and high in protein, low in fat.

-Protein shake. Depending on the time of day, you will need specific types of protein. Early in the morning, pre and post workout, you can go with your standard whey protein. This is the fastest digesting and those are the times when your body will need to absorb it quickly. In the middle of the day, you are going to want a slower digesting blend. A lot of mixes will include whey, egg, and casein protein to give you a fast, medium, and slower digesting protein to sustain your body for longer. Before bed, casein is your go-to protein. This is your slowest digesting protein and will help your body avoid eating that hard-earned muscle from when you close your eyes until you eat breakfast in the morning.

These may not be the flashiest choices, but they will help you avoid skipping meals during your busy day and allow you to drive past the fast food chains. And hey, if you’re feeling like a champ, chug a glass of egg whites and tag us in your video on Instagram! …and we fade out to the Rocky theme song…

Until next time,

~Josh

Everything you need to know to successfully start your Post-Holiday workout reboot!

Everything you need to know to successfully start your Post-Holiday workout reboot!

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It happens to all of us. Ok, if you really want to argue, it happens to 99% of us. The holiday season begins and things get crazy. Our workouts get rescheduled (or maybe one or two are even missed) and our diets become a little more lax… We’re running around getting presents and getting ready for parties and seeing family, and fitness takes a back seat for longer than we planned. We get a little softer. We start watching our results disappear day by day. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel! If you can sneak through that process relatively unscathed, you’re already in good shape. So here we are. We have officially made it past Christmas and we are all staring in the mirror. Now what? Now we get started…

The first thing you need to do is put your workout plan back in focus. Plan out your entire week of workouts and meals. DO NOT WING IT. You will have a very frustrating time getting back into a rhythm if you walk into the gym and plan your workout on the fly. You will walk right back out feeling like you accomplished little to nothing and that is not a positive note to start your system reboot on. Go in with a force. Throw your headphones on and get the job done. You are not there to socialize. You are not there to talk about what you got for Christmas. You are there to get your body back.

You must start by choosing what type of program you are going with. Are you continuing a weight-loss/cutting phase? Are you looking to put some more muscle on? Or do you want to continue a strength training routine? Chances are, regardless of what you are getting back into, you are going to be set back a little bit from where you left off. That’s ok, just record it and use that as a starting point. This is Day 1! Next, you get into the nitty gritty. Sit down and plan each day of your workouts for the entire week and STICK TO IT. If you don’t feel qualified to do so, get some help. The trainer at your gym probably won’t write you a program without you signing up for a personal training package. But if that isn’t in the budget, you have plenty of online options. Here at SD Evolution, we run a New Year’s Special on a very affordable 8 week program, and always offer our regular 12-week Online Trainer and Meal Plan.

Next, get your meals back in check. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. I’m sure you have plenty of left overs from the holiday parties… Give them away! Get back to what you know works. Go shopping for the healthy goodies and spend a day preparing it so you can take it to go as you get back to work. If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. There is nothing that sets you back quite as bad as a bad day of eating. Nutrition is 60% to our workouts’ 40%. You can’t out-workout a bad diet, and a couple missed or poor-quality meals creates a bad diet.

Once you have all of this down, you need to remind yourself that this is a process. You will not be at your end-goal next week. So find a plan that you are comfortable with, and complete it. Don’t get through, one, two, three weeks and then quit. That will start a vicious cycle. That’s why it’s important to believe in the program you are about to start. If you trust it, stick with it. If you don’t trust it, don’t start it and find a new one that you do and that you will stick with.

Finally, track your progress. Complete measurements and weigh-ins along the way. You can even take weekly pictures. You may not be able to see the transformation on a day-by-day basis, but the numbers won’t lie.

The most important thing you can do.. Get started and stay dedicated! You are starting for a reason. You have a goal in mind. Get to that goal. It’ll take hard work, but you can achieve anything. I’ve seen incredible transformations throughout my career. Yours can be next!

 

Until next time,

Josh

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

 

Craving Pizza? Try this easy, mouth-watering replacement!

Craving Pizza? Try this easy, mouth-watering replacement!

I am officially on day 6 of my 10 day low-carb/Ketogenic refresh to prep by body for carb-cycling that will commence next week. I always try to be as creative as possible with my recipes (especially when I am dieting) so discovering this mouth-watering pizza replacement was almost as exciting as Christmas morning.

So what is it? ZUCCHINI Pizza Crust. Some of you may be skeptical at first but as my Dad would say, “Don’t knock it til you try it!”. I have experimented before with Cauliflower Pizza Crust which was also delicious but something about the flavor of Zucchini makes this recipe even better. My  Pinterest is full of amazing healthy (and Indulgent!) recipes yet this one really stuck out to me the other day. Why? Well because it was EASY.

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I got the original recipe from a blog called Kaylyn’s Kitchen however I decided to make it my own. SO in those moments where you are craving a delicious, cheesy pizza….fear no more! You can satisfy that craving while topping this delicious gluten-free, grain-free crust with whatever crazy toppings you can think of!

 

ZUCCHINI PIZZA CRUST

Step 1: Wash & prepare the Zucchini my slicing off the top part then slicing into 2-3 inch pieces.

Step 2: Blend Zucchini until fine and “grain-like”. I used my Ninja blender and it worked perfectly!

Step 3: Microwave blended Zucchini mix for 5 minutes.

Step 4: Using a cheesecloth ( I used a couple paper towels) try to extract as much of the water as possible to dry out the zucchini. Sidenote: allow it to cool off first!

Step 5: In a bowl, mix Zucchini, 1 egg, garlic powder, parmesean cheese, oregano and a dash of salt.

Step 6: “Dough” should make two large balls. Flatten and spread on a lined baking sheet to desired thickness/size.

Step 7: Bake at 450 for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

 

You can top your pizza with anything you desire however I melted some shredded mozzarella cheese and fresh cut tomatoes! Now you can officially use the words “pizza” and “healthy” in the same sentence! Enjoy 🙂

 

Alessandra

 

Going Against the Grain- Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Try New Things at the Gym, Even if “so-called” Experts Say it’s a No No

Going Against the Grain- Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Try New Things at the Gym, Even if “so-called” Experts Say it’s a No No

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In one breath we hear a set of rules, and in the next breath we hear that every body responds differently. “Complete high-rep circuits for weight loss. Lift heavy to get big.” Well what if I told you that you could complete high-rep workouts and get big, and lift heavy to lose weight. Would you believe me? Well, both of those are true. Yes, high-rep circuits can be useful for weight loss. And lifting heavy can help you gain mass. But they also work vice versa. How can that be? How can they work both ways?

For starters, program design has a lot to do with how you want to use a certain workout for a certain goal. If you walk up to a pretty new lifter in the gym who was looking to get big and told him that you were going to get him huge using sets of 15-20 reps, he would most likely shake his head and walk away. It is pounded in our heads from day one that rep ranges 3-5 are for strength, around 6-12 for hypertrophy, and anything higher than that is for endurance and weight loss only. This simply isn’t the case. The overriding factor here is volume. If you can create a workout of 15-20 reps per set that creates a higher volume workload, then you will be training for size. And if you do put yourself through this, you will experience one hell of a pump, especially if you’ve never incorporated anything like this before.

And what about lifting heavy for weight loss? Again, we are looking at program design here to differentiate between doing this for added strength and size, and weight loss. When looking for weight loss, we are looking to use heavy, total-body compound movements. The fact of the matter is that moving the heaviest weight possible requires a tremendous amount of work. What do we use to make our bodies do this work? Energy. Energy=calories. We burn the most calories while moving the most weight. A program alteration I would use to avoid lifting for size would be to keep everything in the “total body” category. Avoid overloading one specific muscle group with a lot of volume. However, just because you are lifting heavy doesn’t mean that you are going to gain size anyway; even if you do overload a muscle group. So don’t be too cautious worrying about that. You need to eat for size. If you are on a cutting diet while lifting heavy, you won’t be adding pounds. In fact, this will actually help you retain your muscle and strength while losing fat, which will further help you burn more calories and look amazing!

So what’s the other part of this? I mentioned earlier that every body responds differently. I don’t mean everybody. I mean every BODY. People can do the exact same routine, eat the exact same thing, and have exact OPPOSITE results. One of my biggest pet-peeves is seeing an article guaranteeing new-found success toward this one goal by using this new workout method. You can’t guarantee that. These “cookie-cutter” programs are bogus. The truth is, until someone knows exactly what you’ve done in the past and exactly how your body has changed from it, they can’t tell you how your body will change with this program. Some people put on muscle very easily. Some lose weight very fast. And some genetic freaks get the best of both worlds. But the majority of us don’t. You need to try new things to see how YOUR body adapts to them.

That is why I stress constantly trying new things. That is something I have been working on. The past 6 months, I have spent time in the gym and in research, coming up with new ways to push my body. Some methods have been effective, while others have yielded minimal results. But they were BOTH positives in my regimen. They both showed me what my body responds well to and what my body has no response to. So in designing future programs, I already know what works best for certain effects on my body. Some of these are things that I would have scoffed at two years ago, but some of them have worked.

If you are too ignorant, like I was, to try something new simply because it goes against what people say, then you are limiting your potential. You will never know what can truly take your body to the next level until you try a major variety of methods. Only then will you know what works best for you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t work, that’s great too. Honestly.. Don’t consider it a couple wasted weeks. You are now two weeks closer to your perfect program, and one step closer to YOUR perfect body.

 

Until next time,

Josh