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Guidelines to Your Fitness Budget: Balancing Your Goals

Guidelines to Your Fitness Budget: Balancing Your Goals

You’ve seen a budget before. You have probably come up with one to make sure you can pay your bills every month. But budgets aren’t always financial. The term “budgeting” is extremely relevant when it comes to your fitness goals and in ultimately determining your level of success. We’re going to talk about the standard “you get out what you put in”, and exactly what that means! But first, let’s start with some TOUGH LOVE!

“You get out what you put in.”

TOUGH LOVE

As coaches, we hear it all the time.. “I had a bad weekend. A bad meal turned into a bad day. I went out drinking. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t feel like working out this week, so I didn’t.” And there is plenty more where that came from. And do you know what our answer is? “That’s ok.” Because it is! We preach balance. Our clients know that we harp on it, but it’s true.

If you are prepping for a contest, or are another type of competitive athlete and you are getting ready for your event, there is less room for error in these instances. But for the typical person who is just looking for a healthier lifestyle, this is nothing more than a minor speed bump. BUT, there can’t be any confusion as to why the scale hasn’t moved or clothes aren’t fitting better. A bad day here or there won’t kill your efforts, but it can be enough to stall them. Even if it’s only one bad day per week and you’re cutting, it could be enough to take you out of that deficit or drastically decrease it. So instead of a little over a pound of weight loss, you could be looking at the same number or maybe down a quarter of a pound.

On the other end of it, let’s say you’re bulking- you drank a little too much on Friday night and you used the weekend to sleep it off. Well it’s a little harder to get to your total daily caloric intake with half the number of meals that you usually eat. So that’s two days at significantly lower numbers, which is probably enough to inhibit an increase in weight.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but you’ll have to curb your expectations as far as progress is concerned. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you do something once in a while, you can expect results once in a while.” I love it. Most people don’t understand the amount of dedication it takes to achieve something that they aren’t used to doing. Furthermore, the more you progress and get closer to an elite level, the more dedication it is going to take to continue to progress.

You can’t bust your ass in the gym and then have a free for all in the kitchen and you can’t spend your life meal prepping then half-ass it in the gym and expect to get great results. It doesn’t work like that. Results are HARD to get. They may come easier to some people, but those people may just be programmed already on how to get this stuff done- making it less effort for them specifically.

Setting Your Budget

Again, we’re not talking about money here. This article isn’t about setting money aside for groceries and your gym membership. We’re talking about time and effort. How much time can you budget to your goals. How many things are you willing to give up in order to achieve them. The higher the number, the better the results. You don’t have to want to be elite. You just have to decide how much you want out of this. And that’s exactly what we’re going to breakdown here.

“Do I really need to bring a scale with me everywhere I go?”

Honestly? Yeah, you do. At least until you’ve memorized what an accurate serving size looks like for all the things you eat regularly. And even after that, if you are really hard-core about this stuff, you will have to continue to weigh your meals out because there’s no way you know what 130g of oats looks like vs 115g. Eyeball it after you learn what it looks like: Good Results. You weight it out at every meal: Great Results.

“I don’t have a set program in the gym, but I know what my body likes.”

Cool, do you remember what you did for every set of every exercise the last week? How about the last month? I can probably stop asking there but I’ll move forward anyway.. How about the last 3-6 months? Do you know exactly how much you’ve progressed in every single lift over this time frame? If you aren’t progressing, you aren’t growing and you’re likely not achieving the adaptations that you’re looking for. If you are, you’re probably not being as efficient as you could be for the amount of time that you’re in the gym.. Or you’ve just started working out and you get to enjoy the amazing responses that your body is going to give you for the first few months! But for most of us, we have to make sure we get everything we work for, so tracking your workouts is a huge tool.

If you go through the motions in the gym (busting your ass, but still untracked), you will get good results. If you track your workouts and plan them out, ensuring your volume has increased and you have progressed, you will get great results.

“I didn’t drink that much, but we got back at like 3 o’clock this morning. I’m pretty beat but I’ll still meet you at the gym at 7.”

I’ll be honest, this was my downfall for a while (college). But I probably wasn’t saying I didn’t drink that much… For whatever reason, I still felt good when I hopped out of bed after a few hours of sleep. Fitness was my religion and I wasn’t going to miss a meal or a workout. Especially not with spring break on the horizon.

But I overlooked how critical sleep was to everything else I was so dedicated to. You don’t grow while you’re lifting. You grow while you’re resting and recovering. Where does most of that take place? Sleep… And the deeper sleep the better. Can you progress off of a limited sleep schedule? Yup.. Results: Good. But get into that sweet spot of 7-9 hours of sleep.. Results: Great.

“I had a family barbecue this weekend.”

This one is easily the most common. Family/friend cookouts/get togethers. It happens all the time. You don’t have to be a party animal for this to be a common occurrence in your life. And this is really what we’re talking about with balancing your lifestyle with fun and fitness. If you aren’t competing and you just love being in shape, isn’t it ok to enjoy the quality time? That’s up for each individual person to debate. But we say yes. Absolutely enjoy it. Life is too short. BUT, if you have a show or competition coming up in two weeks and you’re already cutting it close.. Pack your own damn meals! Haha you can still enjoy the company of others while eating your prep food. Too many people shut themselves out from the world when it comes to crunch time. That’s not very enjoyable. You just need a little self-discipline and to remind yourself of why you started. You are doing something that’s very important to you. That should outweigh the big ass brownie you’re staring at.

Even if you aren’t competing, if you’ve just gotten into a rhythm in your weight loss after a long rut, stick to it! Make some tasty meals to bring with you to keep your progress rolling. We’ve done it.. Your family and friends might throw some playful jabs at you, but you’ll survive, and you’ll have abs to show them at the next one.

Mindful/intuitive eating: Good results. Meal prep: Great results.

Conclusion

So, do you have to be on top of your game all the time? That just depends on where you’re going with this. There are two extremes to every spectrum. The majority of people will find themselves somewhere in between. If you want to be elite, you do need to be at the high-end of the spectrum, on your game all the time. If you are perfectly happy being good, then make good choices most of the time. That’s your balance. That’s your budget. At the end of the day, if you are happy then you already won.

 

Josh Scutnik

SD Evolution

The Nation’s Elite Training Team

Live Happy. Live Healthy. Evolve.

Filtering Through the Miracle Diets: Which Works Best?

Filtering Through the Miracle Diets: Which Works Best?

The Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, Keto, Paleo… You can probably Google 25 more that will express how THIS diet will change your life. Which diet truly creates the best transformations? Let’s go through a few of the most popular and identify the winner.

The Keto Diet

The low-carb diet. The principle behind the Ketone Diet is getting your body into a state of Ketosis. This is where your body transfers from using carbohydrates as fuel to becoming extremely efficient in using fat for fuel. So how do you get there? The general rule of thumb is keeping your carbohydrates between 30-50 grams.

Basically, when planning your diet, you consume a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and the remainder of your calories are going to come from fat. You don’t plan out your carbohydrates (you’re trying to eat as few as possible) but you the little bit you take in is coming from your protein or fat source that may have a few grams of carbs in them.

The Paleo Diet

This is sometimes called the new, old diet. It’s a bit of a caveman reference. The idea is that you only consume foods that you could hunt or gather.. These foods include fruits, veggies, meat, seeds, and nuts. The bigger list is of things it doesn’t include. You can’t eat any refined sugars, or anything that has been processed. If we couldn’t eat it 500 years ago, you can’t eat it today. That’s the concept.

The Atkins Diet

This one took the country by storm. I feel like half the books in the nutrition section of Barnes and Noble are all about the Atkins Diet. Created by Dr. Robert Atkins, a cardiologist, it is extremely similar to the Keto Diet in that the number of carbohydrates you consume are drastically reduced. The biggest difference is that the Atkins Diet calculates “net carbs”, or total carbs minus fiber. His idea on that is the foods high in fiber have less of an impact on blood glucose and can be considered “good carbs”.

Do Any of These Offer A Real Advantage?

The short answer? No. Weight loss and weight gain is extremely simple.. Calories in vs Calories out. The math is extremely straight forward. If you consume fewer calories than you expend, then you will lose weight. If your diet is 5 bags of M&Ms and a Snickers Bar per day, but you’re a competitive distance runner, you’re likely to lose weight. You’re also likely to be extremely malnourished and unhealthy, but you’ll lose weight.

“But (insert diet here) worked for me. I lost 40 pounds on it.”

The only advantage a diet offers is if it is easier for you to follow. Can you live on 30g of carbs per day for the rest of your life? Can you avoid bagels or cereal forever? I can’t speak for you. Maybe you can. But I can’t. And I don’t think most of the rest of us can either. But if you can, then yes, one of these diets does carry and advantage… For YOU.

Understanding Your Lifestyle

The only way you can be successful in a transformation is understanding your own lifestyle. Consistency is key to success. If you can’t maintain something, that success will not last. And if it isn’t maintainable, why are you doing it? How fulfilling is it to hold a trophy for a month and then have it taken back? You need to choose a healthy lifestyle that you can sustain. For most people, that just means eating a healthy balance.

I love the 80/20 rule. It’s a pretty good starting point. If you make healthy choices 80% of the time, the 20% of fun foods isn’t going to crush your goals. It’s actually going to help you maintain them because your aren’t restricting yourself. And when you don’t restrict yourself, you tend to have fewer cravings. The bottom line is that if you are eating foods with all the nutrients you need to stay healthy, you can have that bowl of ice cream if it stays within your caloric allowance. If your goal is weight loss and you have 2000 calories for the day and you’ve eaten all your fruits and veggies already but still have 400 calories left over, a few Oreos won’t keep you from losing weight. You’re still in a deficit so you’re still losing weight.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is no miracle diet. The only miracle is finding something that you enjoy and are able to sustain. There is no magical food, no magical process, and no overnight transformation. Caloric balance is the determining factor in whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight. If you can plan out your goals and be consistent, you will have success. We can help with that 🙂

 

Josh Scutnik

SD Evolution

The Nation’s Elite Training Team

Live Happy. Live Healthy. Evolve.

How Seriously Should You Take Your Training?

How Seriously Should You Take Your Training?

Thinking Emoji

 

We’ve all been there.. We’re motivated, we’re ready to go, we’re really going to change this time. Time to get back that body you had in high school, or college, or whenever it was that you peaked. And when are we going to start? On Monday.. It’s always Monday. Your friends came over for a barbecue on Sunday, and Saturday you were recovering from Friday night so you couldn’t start then. So Monday it is.

 

Even if you’re already in a regimen we have moments, or ruts, in our training where we seem to just be going through the motions and not making any progress. A lot of times the reason isn’t that we aren’t putting in the work, but that we overreact to small speed bumps. You were counting macros at the barbeque on Sunday but then dessert came out, your eyes lit up, and that’s the last thing you remember. So after that, you just stopped counting. You decided to pick things back up on Monday.

 

What if I told you that you could have your Aunt’s famous dessert at your family cookout and not have to feel bad about it? I’m not talking about “if it fits your macros”. I’m not talking about macros at all. I’m talking about setting up the goals that are right for you.

 

So let’s get into it… First and foremost, what are your goals? Are you a weekend warrior who puts in 60 hours a week at a job and then crushes it on the weekends to stay healthy? Or are you an aspiring fitness athlete who is looking to compete? As you can imagine, these two scenarios are gong to play out with two very different goals. These are two people at opposite ends of the spectrum just to make my point, but there are stages in the middle where most people find themselves. We’ll go step by step and you can decide what category you fall into, and how you can decide how to follow a program from there.

 

Category 1: I just want to be healthy

 

A significant portion of the population will fall into this category. These are the people who have full time jobs on top of full time jobs. They might be married with kids, or travel for work 90% of the time. Or they just might not care a lick about the idea of “fitness” and just want their doctor to give them good news every year. It’s ok to be in this group! It’s not always about aesthetics! SD Evolution preaches healthy LIFESTYLES. Not all of our clients are training for a competition. A lot of them just want to be healthy. And we love that. We are building a fitness COMMUNITY and that covers all goals being HEALTHY and in any way that any of our individual clients views that.

 

SO, what does this mean? What do you have to do? What don’t you have to do? Well, this might come as a shock to hear me say this, but you DON’T have to count your macros. You don’t even need to follow a fitness regimen. The guideline here is just making healthy choices. Here is where I would recommend using the 80/20 rule. 80% healthy, 20% “hey shit happens”. You ate healthy all week, cooked healthy dinners for your family, and then the cookout came up on Sunday and you had an entire plate of dessert. I’m ok with it.. If you had McDonalds all week and ate nothing but Hot Tomales (my favorite candy by the way) while you watched Shark Week every night, then no, I would tell someone to slap that plate out of your hand you shouldn’t eat all that dessert! The world we live in sees most people getting the 80/20 backwards. That’s a whole other topic and I won’t get off on a tangent, but you get the idea. As far as training, a workout program would be helpful, but it isn’t necessary. Maybe you like finding new hikes. You just got a pool and you love swimming. You just joined a basketball league at work. Those are all forms of exercise; they just happen to be so fun that you forget you are working out. With enough frequency and balance, those are more than enough.

 

Why would I say all this when I run a fitness business? Well for starters, because I’m honest. But even still, we offer programs that consist of lifestyle coaching. So someone in this category would still benefit from an online coach, we just wouldn’t be giving them workouts and meal plans. They would be getting outlines of how to make their current lifestyle healthier, and we would teach them how to incorporate those things step by step, as well as keep them accountable.

 

Category 2: I don’t want to compete, but I do want to change my body

 

This category is where the majority fall into. Not everyone wants to go stand on stage and lift heavy weights, or put their sculpted physiques on display. Some people just want to feel more confident. I want to look good naked, I believe is what a lot of people talk about from this stand point. They might have accumulated a few pounds over the years, or they never really did have a great body but they decided they wanted to set their sights on having the mirror make them smile. Either way, they are at a point in their lives where they want to make a visible change to the way that they look.

 

These guys have to go a little farther than the 80/20 rule. To change your body, the numbers have to add up. We have this down to a science where “if you do this, then this will happen”. There are a lot of calculations that go into this, but the most basic form is a topic called caloric balance. If you are in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight. If you are in a caloric surplus, you will gain weight. There are a lot of other things that go into this, and some of those things actually make my previous statement false, but I won’t bore you with the details. For the vast majority, caloric balance holds true. From there, it is also very important WHERE your calories come from. We’re not just talking about the specific foods, but the macronutrient breakdown of those foods.

 

That is why this group needs to track what they are eating. The simplest way to do so… Counting your macros. More advanced people in this group may not need to do so because they already have their meals planned out and prepped the same way they have been doing it for a long time. But most of us will have to do this on a day to day basis because we will not want to eat the same exact things on a day to day basis. Counting our macros allows us the flexibility to eat with diversity, but also gives us the structure to not overdue it on any one part. You can do this manually, or most phones will let you download an app where you can just punch in the food and the amount you had and BOOM, macros tracked.. **cough cough** “MyMacros+” **cough**

 

Your workouts should also be programmed in this category. You will need to track volume to ensure progress. You don’t have to go overboard, but knowing what you did last week, and how to increase it this week is pretty important. And again, this stuff doesn’t have to be all in the gym. A lot of the peeps in here like to do other activities in place of the gym. But making sure you reach a certain intensity for a certain amount of time during you basketball game should be tracked in order to make sure you are getting to the level you need to, to achieve your goals.

 

Category 3: I want to be the best

 

You want to be the best? You better work harder and smarter than the best. This category is where very few people will take it. Not a lot of people want to compete. The biggest, most shredded dude in your gym might not want to step on stage. He’s just there to be big and shredded, and that’s ok. But some people strive to be the best in everything they do, and they want something measurable to tell them that. That measurement would be which flavor medal you bring home from a competition. Anyway, this category is the easiest to talk about, and the hardest to achieve.

 

Are you tracking your macros? Yes… Unless you’re on a meal plan eating the same thing every day. In which case you or your coach determined your macros on day one and that is set until it is adjusted moving forward.

 

Are your workouts programmed? You better believe it.. One of the easiest ways to determine if your weight gain is lean mass or fat is to look at your lifts. Are they the same weight that you started with when you were 200 and you are now 210? That was mostly, if not all, fat buddy.. Sorry. How do you program for improvements? Very simply put, make sure you do more than you did last time. It could be an extra set, or it could be an extra 5 or 10 pounds on your lift. Your volume must grow for you to grow.

 

What category do you fall in? Are you doing the things you need to in order to reach your goals? Do you now know what your goals are? If you need help, you know where to find us…

http://www.sd-evolution.com/contact.html

Until next time,

Josh

World Health Organization Declares Processed Meats Cause Cancer

World Health Organization Declares Processed Meats Cause Cancer

Bacon

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

Recognizing a binge & tips on dining out while Flexible Dieting

Recognizing a binge & tips on dining out while Flexible Dieting

blog

As an Exercise Physiologist and Personal Trainer, I deal with a lot of clients who struggle with bingeing on food. Whether they are dieting to lose weight or not, it is a common struggle of many of my clients to control this issue and usually results in them emailing me feeling incredibly guily, down on themselves and in a worse place than they were in before. Thankfully, Flexible Dieting has fixed a lot of those issues on it’s own, however it is important to also realize the WHY behind your bingeing- and it usually has nothing to do with actually being hungry.

In 2014 as many of you know I prepped myself to compete in a bikini competition. I stuck to an incredibly strict meal plan and I was eating the same foods daily for about 6 months or so. I restricted myself from SO many foods that I used to love simply because it was not on my plan. There were numerous occasions where I would have a weekend “cheat meal” and end up going crazy. I over-ate dramatically, ended up with a swollen belly for days after and felt incredibly guilty and ashamed of myself. In this blog I want to address ways that you can begin to control your bingeing and start to live a more balanced lifestyle.

I recently listened to an episode of Layne Norton’s Podcast (Physique Science Radio) that touched upon this issue with guests Sohee Lee and Kory Propst. Kory is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health and Professional Counselor and she also has an extensive education in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition. While listening to this episode (which you can tune into HERE) I not only could relate to the issues being discussed personally, but I thought about my clients. SO many have struggled with bingeing and my main focus always was to do my best to make them feel better about it and get back on track. In reality, the issue goes so much deeper. It all comes back down to educating yourself on WHY we make these decisions. WHY do we feel the need to binge? Are we really that hungry or is stress and anxiety taking over? If you feel a binge coming on, walk into another room and talk to yourself. Figure out why you’re feeling that way. If you are truly hungry, maybe it is time to adjust your macros, however most of the time it is other emotions that are trying to take over.

I have reviewed Flexible Dieting plenty of times prior to this so if you are still confused on what exactly it entails or want a refresher course, read our previous blog HERE. Flexible Dieting has changed my life. It has allowed me to find my balance of nutrition and really support my training with the food choices I make. Being a restrictive eater/binger myself, finding that freedom has made me not only more educated about my nutritional intake, but has allowed me to adapt a lifestyle that I truly love and enjoy. As a coach, I often get the question from newer clients, “What happens when I go out to eat? How do I track that?”. I even have had some clients simply refuse to go out to dinner while obtaining the flexible dieting lifestyle. Now if you think about it, does that really sound flexible? One of my goals here is to help you realize that it is OK to go out and enjoy yourself and there are a few steps you can take to make sure that it doesn’t interrupt your goals.

Step 1: Make a plan. If I know I’m going to dinner, I always try to look up the restaurant beforehand to check out the Menu. Most restaurants have their menus posted online. I then decide what I’m going to have and guesstimate the portion sizes when I get there if I decide I want to track it. If I want to simply go out and have a relaxed or “untracked” meal, I still decide something I’m going to have beforehand, and stick to my plan.

Step 2: Eat until you are full-nothing more. Be done once your stomach is full. It can be easy to overeat and want to finish everything on your plate, but with restaurants having HUGE servings sizes these days, chances are your stomach is going to be full way before your plate is licked clean.

Step 3: Have mindfulness. Recognize how you are feeling at that exact moment. If you arrive at the restaurant, and change your mind all of a sudden and want something that doesn’t fit your macros- no big deal IF you are mindful and realize the consequences. If you are ok with going over your macros, realizing that you may see the scale go up the next day, then go ahead and get whatever it is that you are thinking about. OR on another note, if you have an untracked meal on the horizon, and you really aren’t feeling like eating or indulging anymore, don’t force it! I can’t tell you how many times I have been wanting ice cream all day and plan to have it later at night, then I go workout or go do something else and by the time that moment comes, I am either not hungry for it or don’t REALLY want it. As much as I like to stick to plan, it is ok to listen to your mind in the moment.

Step 4: The last thing I tell clients is to enjoy themselves. Consistency is key in all areas of our lives and that includes flexible dieting. Go out, enjoy your time with your loved ones or friends, but know your limits. Balance out your dilemma in your head- when you are truly at peace with whatever decision you make, you know that you have fully adapted a lifestyle that you can sustain.

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

Get comfortable being uncomfortable: Discover your 2014 mantra

Get comfortable being uncomfortable: Discover your 2014 mantra

Happy Monday Everyone!

Isn’t it crazy that there are only 23 days left of 2014?! Time has literally been flying by for us out here in San Diego. I am so grateful for everything that has crossed my path this year and pushed me to grow in so many ways. I would definitely say my overall mantra of this year was getting out of my comfort zone. From starting the year off by transforming my body prepping for my first NPC Bikini Competition, to running a couple half-marathons, to having the trip of a lifetime auditioning for the Beachbody Talent Team in Los Angeles, to moving across the country to my new home of San Diego… becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable was my lesson to be learned in 2014.

Before setting your goals for 2015, I think it is ideal to reflect on what you accomplished in 2014. Did you stick to all of your goals? Did you fall short of some? Why do you think that happened? – These are some questions that you can ask yourself. Focus on the positives- what was your mantra?

 

As I was thinking about my accomplishments of 2014, I realized I have put running on the back burner and decided to rekindle my love of running once again. No matter how many times I stray away from it, I always seem to come back to it. While I will always lift heavy weights, running will forever have a special place in my heart- so I do both! What’s different about my running journey this time is that I have taken my runs to the trails! Since I love being outdoors–who doesn’t in San Diego 😉 — trail running has been not only a new adventure, but a new challenge for me! There’s no better motivation than that of an awesome view after climbing a mountain. Although I don’t do it everyday, the few times per week that I get to explore the trails provide me clarity, let me “escape” life for just a little while, and push my body in ways that the flat streets just wouldn’t be able to. It made me realize that fitness really is most successful when you are doing something that you really enjoy. runblog1    runblog2 runblog4       runblog6

   Also, before the end of the year I wanted to challenge myself to once again get out of my comfort zone ONE more time. I decided that I wanted to learn how to surf! I can’t believe it has taken me THIS long to even try after living out here for 6 months already. My roommates and I headed down to Everyday California in La Jolla to rent boards & wetsuits (because let’s face it- even in San Diego the ocean is chilly in December). As nervous as I was I was more excited to learn a new hobby alongside friends. After a few face-plants into the ocean (typical) , I finally got the hang of catching the waves & even got up a few times. Let me tell you- it was one of the most exhilarating feelings not only gliding across the water, but achieving something I never thought I would do! Check out some pictures of my first surfing adventure:

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A lot of my photos are taken with my AWESOME GoPro that my Grandmama bought for me before moving out to Cali. That thing captures all of my favorite memories & I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new camera!

Have I inspired you to get out there & try something new with the few weeks left we have of 2014?? It doesn’t even have to be anything TOO crazy but just enough for you to be uncomfortable. I promise the fulfillment you get when actually going through and doing something you aren’t used to is enough to last you through the new year. Now go get busy livin’!

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!

Alexis Bledel

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!

bodypeace

   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

 

 

 

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

The difference one year can make

The difference one year can make

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    A year does not seem like a long time, in fact with how fast these weeks have been flying by, a year is not very long at all. One year ago to this month I started a huge lifestyle change. Last October I was newly single, finishing my last year at CCSU, and battling 3 jobs. I was an avid marathon runner, INSANITY instructor and definitely not eating enough. Last Halloween I was the skinniest I have ever been. I was running anywhere from 6-10 miles per day and for a span of a few weeks I was eating only 1,000 calories at the max. Between the stress of school, work and my break-up I turned to running as my escape and did not properly fuel my body despite the high amounts of stress I was putting on it.

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    I would call last Halloween my breaking point. I went out with my girlfriends, drank way too much and all I can remember is waking up the next morning feeling the WORST I had felt in a long time. It was that day that I decided to make a change in my life. It was time to stop feeling sorry for myself, and get my act together to be the strong, confident woman I knew was somewhere inside.

Training for my first NPC Bikini Competition was one of the best decisions I made. Now, I did not jump right into it. I took November and December to jump on the clean eating train. I experimented with fun recipes and really focused on myself. I didn’t go out much, if at all but that was exactly what I needed to refresh my body and get my mind right. I still kept up with my running (as I had The NYC Half-Marathon planned for March) but I began to really fuel my body with the right foods and WOW what a difference that made! It truly is amazing what can happen once you learn to let go of the things that no longer serve you, allow you to grow, or make you happy.

The day after Christmas (come on did you really expect me to skip out on being able to eat my Mom’s delicious cookies?!) I started prep for my competition. I hadn’t picked out what show I wanted to do, nor did I know very much at all about the whole process, but I made this my goal and I was sticking to it. I spent countless hours researching and talking to people about doing shows and as I got more excited about it I realized this is exactly what I needed.

Beginning to strength train again was an amazing feeling. Making up my own workouts and seeing how much stronger I was becoming each week built my confidence and made me feel whole again. I absolutely LOVE running, however I absolutely LOVE lifting heavy weights too- and despite what everyone told me (that doing both was impossible) I continued to run and lift weights. For the first time in a long time, I was happy. I was happy with my body, I was happy with my life, I was surrounded by my amazing family and friends who supported me through 12 weeks of eating clean, mood swings and food prep and most importantly I was happy being on my own. Those 12 weeks from January to April, I spent more time getting to know myself and what worked for my body than ever before. Looking back I am so thankful for that break-up and thankful for that time period where I felt so awful because it made me the strong, confident person I am today.

bikini

 

Today, I am grateful for my relationship with fitness and health because it has led me to find myself and most importantly find myself in a supportive, amazing relationship with my best friend and now business partner. Without that downfall, SD Evolution would not exist and I cannot wait to see what happens in another year from now. With that, I leave you to think about what you want to accomplish in one year. Is it weightloss? Is it a bikini competition? Is it incorporating a healthier lifestyle? Let me help you get started. Don’t wait another day to become the happiest, healthiest YOU that you can be.

 

Email me at FitnessTeam@sd-evolution.com for questions, comments or to learn how I can help you!