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