Thursday, February 15, 2018

Leah's Success Story!

I am so lucky to have discovered my passion and talent so early in life. I truly love what I do and feel so lucky every single day when I get to go to "work." My clients are all incredible women and I am honored they value me and my services as much as they do! I have all the credentials (and some) I need to be a qualified and knowledgable personal trainer, but what really sets me apart from other health & wellness professionals is the compassion and dedication I bring into every session. My goal has always been to go independent and open my own gym, and I am getting so close! I would be nowhere near as prepared for having my own gym as I am without the support of my awesome clients!

I am always so in awe of how hard working one client in particular is. Miss Leah comes into each workout with such a positive go-getter attitude, and I am always eager to match her enthusiasm! She has lost several inches all around in the 8 months we have been working together and has gained an unbelievable amount of strength! We went from chest-pressing 10 pound dumbbells in our very first session to now 25 pound dumbbells this week!

I have written all of my clients meal plans that have required sacrifices, whether that be lessening the amount of wine they drink, adding in more protein, cutting back on snacking or whatever else the issue is standing in the way of achieving their goals. Only a handful of these clients have fully committed and seen the results as quickly as they were hoping for, and Leah is one of them! She now meal preps, works out 4-5 times a week (2 with me and 3 on her own that I have programmed in advance) and really lives the lifestyle that allows her to love life while still reaching her goals!

Friday, February 9, 2018

How to Look Good Without the Bulk

It's a common misconception that you will get big and bulky from lifting weights. I am here to tell you lifting heavy weights is not all that goes into a "bulk." It's actually much tougher to build a muscular and "jacked" physique than you may think--believe me, I try!

Strength training is imperative and beneficial no matter your goals. If you're an athlete, it's going to make you stronger, faster, more agile and less accident prone.

If your goal is weight loss, strength training will build lean muscle mass, which will increase your metabolism and burn calories faster.

If your goal is in fact to "get big," you can make that happen too! Step up the volume of your training and eat, eat, EAT!

How to Build Muscle: 

Now that we've discussed who should be strength training, let's talk about what a program should look like...

Spending your whole day in the gym isn’t necessary. Weight training for 30-45 minutes, 3-4 times a week is enough to see results. You should try to target all your major muscle groups at least twice throughout your weekly workouts.

While you may not see results right away, even a single strength training session can help promote muscle growth. Exercise stimulates what’s called protein synthesis in the 2 to 4 hours after you finish your workout. Your levels may stay elevated for up to a whole day.

How exactly can you tell if your muscles are growing? You may be able to see more muscle definition. If not, you’ll certainly be able to lift heavier weights with more ease over time.

Strength training activities include:

body weight exercises, like pushups, squats, and lunges

resistance band movements

workouts with free weights

workouts with stationary weight machines, like a leg curl machine


When you are starting out, you should try to do between 8 and 15 repetitions in a row. That’s one set. Wait 30 seconds to a minute in between sets to rest. Then complete another set of the same length. Take approximately 3 seconds to lift or push your weight into place. Then hold that position for a full second and take another slow 3 seconds to lower the weight. At the beginning, plan to do 3 sets of each exercise.


I have had so many clients who are all in from the get-go, which I appreciate, but always advise them to start out with 2 rest days per week. If you don't give those muscles time to recover, they become overworked and you will hit a plateau where you can't make any definition or strength gains.


Yes you should do it in conjunction with a well-designed weight lifting program. Shoot for 4-5 days per week of 30-45 minutes with your heart rate between 70-80% of your heart rate max. Cardio is going to help with cardiovascular function and endurance, plus it burns calories!


I could make the entire post about what your diet should look like for different types of training, but I will keep it short and just focus on protein. Protein is not what gets you "jacked"--even someone who lays in bed all day and doesn't move needs protein to stay alive. How much protein you need is dependent upon your activity level however. I use the formula 0.8 to 2.0 x bodyweight (kg) = protein (g). So, I am 120 pounds and will divide this by 2.2 to find my weight in kilograms. This is 54.5kg, and because I am super active and train 6 days per week, I will be at the top end of this scale, so 54.5 x 2.0 = 109.1g protein per day. Then I calculate the rest of my macros (carbs and fats) depending on what I want my body composition to be.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Bikini Show Prep--5 Weeks Out

I decided to do a comparison this week to document my journey over the past 5 weeks. I will admit, there have already been times I regret signing up for my shows. If I hadn't already signed up, paid, booked the hotel and hired a coach I really may have backed out. But knowing myself, I guess that's why I committed so early! I have supported and trained a few clients through their journey to getting on stage, but I have also talked a few out of it. If you're not 100% committed, the prep will be miserable and you won't come in with the physique you're hoping for.

Back in April, I tried to do a show but just couldn't muster the dedication or discipline I had been able to in the past, so I put this goal on hold. At that time, it wasn't that I didn't want to go to the gym or continue eating healthy, I just didn't have the time or energy to follow through with the volume training and cutting down to be stage-ready. I try not to be too dramatic since I did choose to do this, but man it's not easy!

To be able to empathize with my clients who start training with me and are asked to make a complete lifestyle change is my biggest motivator! I will be opening my gym in August and wanted to have this show prep documented as another way of boosting my credibility and proving to any new clients that I practice what I preach and do also understand the struggles they are facing.

I'm not completely miserable though! I mean, my butt is looking better than ever and I get to eat a ton of peanut butter on my low-carb days, so that's a highlight! I am definitely looking forward to my post-show splurge meal already! Ice cream, a burger, tacos, spaghetti... I WANT IT ALL!!! And then I will go back to my normal routine of meal prepping and working out 5-6 days per week! My diet is less strict if I am not getting ready for a competition, but I still keep it pretty clean.

This is 5 week's difference. That hard work really does pay off!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Eat More to Lose More!

As a society, we've been surrounded by the message that, in order to drop unwanted pounds, we have to drastically reduce our daily calorie intake. But what if I told you this notion couldn't be further from the truth? What if, in order to lose weight, you actually need to eat MORE food?

This may sound crazy, I know, but it's true—especially if you have a plan that's easy to implement and just as easy to stick with. To build your own plan, read these tips to learn how you can eat more, lose weight, and enjoy your diet!

Step up the Volume:

This may go without saying, but your stomach is not a calorie counter. High-calorie foods without a lot of volume—oils and ice cream, for example—won't do much to fill you up, even though they're extremely energy-dense. You'll get full with a high volume of food, so that's what's important here! Now, when I say "food volume," I don't necessarily mean massive amounts of indiscriminate calories. When it comes to weight loss, you have to think in terms of quality as well as quantity. Eating more to lose more is all about eating the right kinds of foods first, and then eating a lot of them.

This isn't as hard as some people make it out to be. Intuitively, you know whether a food is something you should be eating or not, but instead of labeling foods as "good" or "bad," think of them in terms of what they can do for your body and how they can help you achieve your goals.

Take a doughnut for example. Can you fit a doughnut into your diet and still lose weight? Of course you can, but it wouldn't be a very sensible choice, since it's devoid of nutrients, not particularly satisfying, and happens to be a calorie bomb. After you eat it you'll get a brief burst of energy from the sugar, but then you'll crash shortly after. Then you'll crave more sugar. That's not a fun cycle.

You'll feel better and much fuller if you find nutrient-dense foods you can eat a lot of. Oh, and those foods—like greens, lean proteins, and complex carbs—will actually contribute to your goals.

Don't go cut Crazy:

Cutting a ton of calories or eliminating food groups is also not a great strategy, yet many people still believe that's the best way to lose weight. Do you know why? Because at the end of the day, it works! You cut carbs, and guess what happens? You become more conscious of the foods you're consuming. Then you eat less food, thereby causing a huge daily calorie deficit and some solid initial weight loss. Great, right? Well not really. At this point, you're building an unhealthy relationship with food.

You're not learning balance and portion control, and once your body begins to figure out what's happening and stops responding, you won't be able to maintain that initial weight loss. Eventually, you'll binge, fall off the wagon, and be back at square one.

This is not to say that counting calories is bad— I actually count calories myself. Anything that can make you mindful of what you're putting into your body is not a bad thing. But calorie counting alone is not going to get you results. In order to achieve your weight- and fat-loss goals, you need to count your macros as well.

Master you Macros:

When people talk about macros, they're referring to macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fats. Simply counting the number of calories you eat won't tell you if you're getting enough of each food group; it won't tell you if you got enough protein to add muscle or enough carbs or fats to stay satisfied.

Macro counting, however, will enable you to break those calories down into the specific foods and food groups that are required to meet your goals. Calculating macros takes all of the guesswork out of dieting and provides you with a style of eating that will get you results for years to come.

Since everyone is so different, it's difficult to deal in absolutes when recommending macros. In order to figure out your macros, first use a total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) calculator to determine your current caloric needs, or multiply your body weight in pounds by 15 for an easy estimate.

From there, you can figure out how much of each macronutrient should make up your diet. I recommend 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 0.5-0.7 grams of fat per pound of body weight. The rest of your calories should come from carbohydrates.

If you learn to think in terms of macros, everything else will fall into place. Determine what your goals are and what balance of macros you need to achieve them. Then, parcel those macros into three meals and 2-3 snacks daily. It sounds like a lot of work, but truthfully it's no more work than counting calories.

For example, instead of just adding up the number of calories you're eating in a meal, add the grams of protein, carbs, and fats separately to ensure you're hitting your macro targets.

Let's add in some Cardio: 

I hear this a lot: "I can eat that big hunk of cheesecake because I am doing cardio later." Now, I'm all for doing cardio to be able to eat more food. In fact, most mornings I get up and walk for an hour, which burns about 500 calories. This means I can eat more food, but I still have to eat the right food in order to get amazing results!

You can't out-train—or, in my case, out-walk—a bad diet. Cheesecake is not a wise food choice if you're dedicated to getting lean and dropping weight. At the end of the day, if you have a calorie surplus, you're going to gain body fat. But if you keep your surplus to a minimum, and make sure it comes from good, healthy foods, staying active with cardio can help you stay lean all year round.

Make sure there is Balance: 

All that being said, at the end of the day, you have to have a life. No one can be strict 100 percent of the time, and who wants to? Especially during the holidays and special occasions. It's a time to celebrate with family and friends, and that often comes with a high-calorie price tag. Don't stress—it's completely fine to have a cheat meal every now and then.

Ultimately, adopting an 80/20 principle—where you eat healthy 80 percent of the time and indulge 20 percent of the time—will reap similar long-term results and be a lot more sustainable than trying to stay "clean" 100 percent of the time. You won't feel the urge to binge on foods, because you're not completely deprived, and you'll stay happier and more sane as a result.


Once you have everything else about your diet in place—food quality, total calories and macros, recipes, and more—then it's time to frost the proverbial cake with some select supplements.
Supplements are a great way to boost your fat-loss potential and bolster particular macro numbers that are critical to building and maintaining muscle, like protein. Here are my top three supplement recommendations to facilitate any fat-loss diet:

Protein: A quality protein powder will help you easily keep your protein intake sufficient (without adding extra calories) so you can maintain muscle mass even when dropping body fat.

Multivitamin: A healthy body is a happy body, and you will achieve greater results when you focus on getting your micronutrients as well as your macronutrients. Throw a high-quality multivitamin in your bag, and you'll be ready

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bikini Show Prep--6 Weeks Out

And now I suppose I should start adding in a countdown for the second show I am doing as well! The first show will be the OCB Albuquerque Pro Qualifier on March 11th and then the NPC Northern here in Denver on April 14th! If I am going through all the arduous work to get ready for a show I might as well put all my hard work to good use!

Since my last post, I have hired a coach and am excited to see the results of a more organized 12-week prep rather than the flexible 3 I have done in the past.

My diet is more organized and strict, but I am still eating a ton. I am not really cutting calories at this point, just cutting out sugar and eating my meals at consistent times each day. Most of my carbs are right around my workout which is always in the morning, and then I taper the carbs as the day wears on. I really don't have any starchy carbs (only green veggies) after lunch time. This organization keeps me fueled and replenished post-workout when I still have most of my day ahead. To eat a bulk of carbs at night will cause an insulin spike before bed and will inhibit fat facilitation (fat burning) while sleeping!

The exercising...have I mentioned how much I HATE cardio? Well, I do and that has not changed. Thank goodness I have A LOT of willpower and am super goal-oriented. Right now I am doing 45-60 minutes of strength training 5 days per week and then 6 days of cardio with 1 being steady-state and the others being HIIT. I feel so accomplished after, but man do I despise my choice to do a show while I am mid sprint!!

I wanted to do these shows to document my journey to getting on stage. I have several weight loss clients and never want to forget or be unable to empathize with them on what they're going through. The struggle of maintaining this lifestyle and still enjoying life can be overwhelming at times, but life is all about moderation and I always make sure to preach that to all of my incredible clients!

Friday, January 26, 2018

How Mindful Eating can Aid in Weight Loss

With how busy most of us are, it's all too common to multitask while eating a meal. I know I do it, but I am trying to get better about intuitively and mindfully eating. For most of us, it's incredibly easy to ignore portion sizes, feelings of fullness, and the flavor of the foods we are eating when distracted.

When this happens, the calories stack up. If calories aren’t tracked, we already tend to consume more energy than we estimate, according to Brian Wansink, author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.” He believes multitasking can make the situation worse. It may seem like a far more efficient way to spend your lunch time at work, but an actual break in the middle of the day to recuperate from the work grind will help you come back refreshed and more productive!

The mindless eating tendencies will lead to creeping weight gain and will inhibit your weight loss potential.


Developing awareness while eating sounds simple. But, it can feel challenging when you’re just starting. That’s why it’s a good idea to see the technique as a fun experiment rather than a daunting task.

When you take a bite, make sure to fully chew and swallow it before taking another bite. This will allow you to favor the flavor and deliciousness of whatever you're eating that you often tend to eat too much of. People who have tried this strategy have felt satiated after one cookie rather than needing an entire sleeve of them.

Once you've mastered the art of savoring and enjoying your food, you can do more mindful eating long term by putting the fork down between each bite, as a reminder to finish one mouthful before taking the next.


Many people find resolutions that take an “all or nothing” approach are impossible to follow through with and they tend to sputter out quickly. So, vowing that you will now eat mindfully for every single bite of food might become overwhelming, and it can set you up for disappointment or frustration if you’re successful only part of the time.

Instead, consider increasing your mindful eating gradually. Maybe today it’s mindfully eating one bite. Some experts even advise starting with a single blueberry, and really focusing on everything about that tiny fruit’s flavor, texture and aroma.

As you begin to incorporate more of these mindful moments into your meals and snacks, it will likely lead to greater awareness about what you’re eating, and most important, why you’re eating it.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Strength Training's Effect on Cortisol Levels

With strength training, you will gain strength, muscle definition, confidence and probably some stalkers because you're gonna look dang good! ;)

To really achieve results in the gym, you need to have an eclectic and diverse training regimen. Strength training is great, but being cardiovascularly fit is imperative for overall fitness as well. The first few weeks of engaging in a new workout routine will be rough, but don't give up! After a few weeks your body will begin to adapt and you should start seeing and feeling positive results. Even before you see the results, you should feel the effects of reduced cortisol levels, stress levels and sleep problems. You should feel these internal changes within a week of beginning a consistent workout routine of at least 3 days per week of at least 30-minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise.


Let's focus on cortisol. Cortisol is an amazing hormone that I have always had a love/hate relationship with. Brief bouts of increased cortisol levels are a good thing, but prolonged or too-frequent bouts can be very harmful.

It is important to distinguish between acute and chronic cortisol release. When muscle glycogen concentrations are low, cortisol is released and fuel-use shifts toward protein or fat so wise use is made of the little glucose that remains. However, in the long-term, excessive cortisol will encourage fat-synthesis and storage, along with increasing appetite.

On the other hand, aerobic endurance training, particularly running, is linked with protein-loss from muscle (partially induced by cortisol). Endurance trained individuals typically have a higher cortisol response, while resistance trained individuals have a higher testosterone response. Secretion of cortisol is elicited at exercise intensities between 80% and 90% of VO2 max, which means in this case, recreational exercise is not necessarily being described, but more so endurance training.

Nutrition and Cortisol: 

Cortisol causes atrophy in muscle (mainly fast-twitch type 2) and bone. The anabolic effects of testosterone and insulin (both boosted during strength training) oppose cortisol’s catabolic effects.
The acute increases in cortisol following exercise also stimulate acute inflammatory response mechanisms involved with tissue remodeling. This is a necessary response that helps with repairing damage produced by training. Only long-term cortisol elevations seem to be responsible for adverse catabolic effects.

Stress (both psychological and physical) can result in the “fight or flight” response. If stress is ongoing, this can cause enlarged adrenal glands and atrophied lymphatic organs. When adrenals enlarge, they can produce excessive cortisol; when lymphatic organs shrink, they create fewer white blood cells. The immunosuppressive effects of intense exercise have been attributed to high plasma cortisol concentrations that remain after prolonged intense exercise.

How to Avoid Adverse Effects of Overtraining:

-Take regular, planned breaks from intense training (de-load periods).
-Consume enough calories from non-processed foods to prevent depletion.
-Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night to decrease stress and cortisol release.
-Consume carbohydrates and protein after exercise sessions.
-Spend quality time with friends and family (that work/life balance ya know?)
-Regularly participate in a stress-relieving activity like mild yoga, meditation or massage.
-Avoid excessive amounts of intense aerobic endurance training (unless training for endurance event).

Bikini Show Prep--Week 4

I am currently 8 weeks out! I am feeling pretty good with how everything is going, but of course my show is still 2 months away and a lot can happen in between now and then. I am at about 17% body fat and hope to get down to 12% for my show, so I'm on the right track!


My split has stayed the same from last week, so this week I have/will get in 5 days of cardio and 5.5 days of weight training (I am just doing a quick core/cardio workout on Sunday). I have been lifting pretty heavy to combat as much muscle breakdown as possible while at a caloric deficit. I am still seeing some muscle loss, but certainly not as much as I have in past cuts.

For my cardio bouts, I typically do shorter HIIT workouts for the efficiency and effectiveness of this type of training. I want to retain as much strength as possible to be able to jump back into powerlifting after my show! Steady-state endurance exercise will reduce power and explosiveness due to your fast-twitch muscle fibers turning slow-twitch to adapt to a slow-paced type of training--we don't want that!


Carb-cycling keeps me sane, so that is my diet plan I will stick to throughout my prep. Of course, my calories and macros will change as I get leaner, but I will continue to vary my carbs and fats throughout the week. My protein will remain the same (between 140-145g).

The 1,500 calorie days are proving to be a challenge for me; even though these are my "off days," I still feel ravenous from how hard I have worked the rest of the week. This is to be expected considering how long it takes your body to recover from a strength training or HIIT workout. The average time where your metabolism is heightened is 42 hours...NOW who would rather hit the weights than the treadmill?! Exactly ;)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Blueberry Almond Overnight Oats

These are by far my favorite oats yet!! They're so hearty, but still low in calorie without you ever knowing it! You probably have all the ingredients for the recipe at home too--at least I did! Because these are so low in calorie, I paired them with my egg white/turkey bacon scramble for my breakfast #1! Macros: Calories--155, Fat--3g, Carbs--28g, Protein--4g


-1/3c old fashioned oats
-1/3 + 2tbs unsweetened almond/cashew milk
-1tsp brown sugar (not packed)
-1/4c frozen or fresh blueberries (I used frozen)
-2tbs baking stevia
-1tsp vanilla extract
-1/2tsp almond extract
-Dash cinnamon
-Dash salt


-Mix everything together and shake it up
-Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before eating

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Bikini Show Prep--Week 3


Now that the holidays are over and I am back into my normal routine, I can really focus my lifestyle on getting ready for my show in March! Right now, I lift 5-6 days per week depending on how I am feeling and how busy I am with work, and then do cardio 4-5 days per week. My lifting sessions are anywhere from 40-60 minutes and then my cardio bouts are 15-30 minutes depending on if I am doing lower intensity endurance intervals or HIIT bouts. I mix it up depending on how I am feeling once I get to the gym!

I just joined a new gym that is LEGIT. Vasa Fitness has all of the machines, equipment and space I could ever need, and I am pumped to be switching during the middle of my prep.

Vasa is great for posing practice too. I have really been hitting the posing hard this prep; I feel my stage presence has hurt me in my past shows. I have no problem or fear of getting up on stage (I danced competitively for 14 years growing up), but the posing and routine is so specific for this sport and I have always felt a little awkward in my past shows.


I am still carb cycling, which I find works best for me in retaining muscle while still losing fat. In the past, I have cut too hard and ended up losing several pounds of muscle I had worked for months to achieve! Not this time.

I want to bounce back to heavy lifting and eating normally once this show is over, so I have educated myself as much as possible to on how to prep for a show while still maintaining my fast metabolism and as much strength as possible. With cutting carbs and calories overall though, it is inevitable to also lose strength. So far I have done better in retaining strength and muscle mass than in any of my past shows, so that's progress to me!

Mondays and Wednesdays are my higher carb and calorie days, so I am right at 2,000 calories + exercise calories burned for those days.

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are my moderate carb and calorie days, so 1,800 calories + exercise calories burned.

Friday and Sunday are my rest days, so I shoot for 1,500 calories and will up the Friday calories if I do happen to make it into the gym for cardio.

Friday, January 5, 2018

5 Mistakes Sabotaging your Workouts

When you first begin hitting the gym you typically see results quickly, but after you have been consistently going for months you can expect to hit a plateau if there is no progressive overload. After you’ve been training for a few years and have a solid base of strength and conditioning, it gets harder to make consistent gains and improvements.
If you want to take your training to the next level, avoid these five result-sabotaging mistakes:


The fitness community has has become ruthless and over the past several years seems to have adopted the philosophy “go hard or go home.” But, as one of my favorite strength coaches says, “Train as hard as you should, not as hard as you can.”
Overtraining can be even more detrimental than not going to the gym at all. Avoid overtraining by doing high-intensity sessions followed by recovery days. For example, the day after a hard workout, do 20 minutes of light aerobic exercise, followed by stretches, mobility exercises, activation drills and foam rolling, and then actually rest! By giving your body the recovery time it needs, you’ll flush out the lactic acid build up, as well as releasing tightness and tension within the muscles.


To reach a higher level of fitness or physique goals, you’ll need more fine-tuning with your nutrition and hydration. For example, your specific needs might require more of a macronutrient (carbs, for example) than you previously thought. Or maybe you’ll require better pre-workout nutrition to power you through intense training and better post-workout nutrition to help you recover.
You’ll also need a bit more sacrifice. A beer or a few cookies throughout the week is totally fine. But too much alcohol (especially in one sitting) and junk food hinders your progress and makes it tougher for you to reach your goals.


You know you should get eight hours of sleep each night. But how about the actual quality of that sleep? How’s your mattress? How dark is your room? What time do you go to bed?
All of those factors make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep and how restorative it is. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet and dark.


Focusing on one specific adaptation (i.e. strength) requires a slight sacrifice on something like endurance, so it’s best to focus on one specific adaptation at a time.
For example, if you’re a soccer player, focus on developing your overall aerobic capacity first since it’s the foundation for your entire sport. Then, work to maintain your aerobic fitness as you emphasize lifting heavy weights to build strength. Then, maintain your aerobic and strength while building your anaerobic capacity (0–10 second sprints). That way, you constantly build one fitness adaptation to support the next one.


To make sure you aren’t leaving anything on the table, improve your technique and double-check that you’re using the correct muscles, you’re positioned correctly and everything is properly aligned.

Get someone to record you doing a lift from all angles. If you’re serious about making improvements, consider getting a trainer or attending coaching clinics to learn from elite coaches and lifters. A simple tweak by an expert with your grip, setup or arc can quickly help you lift more weight than ever before.