cardio

Changing Your Habits By Just Changing Your Thinking

I had a huge exam last Friday, so I was a little MIA preparing for it. But I was still on track and worked out 5 days last week. I didn’t get much sleep, but I have definitely been making up for it the last two nights. I start my new job at World Gym tomorrow, and I am pretty excited about it. I’ll even be teaching classes. And I hope to get training to officially teach yoga classes! I am looking forward to the future.

What I see a lot when it comes to the struggles of wanting to lose weight, get healthy, and get fit is one thing over and over and over again.

I feel hungry/I feel deprived/I miss junk food/I like snacking too much/it’s too hard/I don’t know what to eat/I have to eat more than celery.

What if I told you changing into a healthy lifestyle isn’t as hard nor as complicated as you think it is? A lot of people overthink it. Or they are following and reading about the hardcore fitness people who are either models or competitors who eat rice, chicken and spinach all day. Life isn’t like this if you are looking to be healthy or fit. I swear. Even if you get into this and want to compete, you still actually don’t need to live off of brown rice and chicken. (Don’t believe me? Look up #iifym on instagram and tell me there aren’t any competitors posting Poptarts and peanut butter all on their feed).

Think of changing this way:

REPLACE YOUR NORMAL FOODS/SNACKS/DRINKS WITH HEALTHY ONES.

No starving. No deprivation. Simply replace. If you think of it in this way, it’s a bit easier on the brain. Like a mind game. If you tell yourself ‘well I can’t have those Cheetos’ you’ll sit there and think about Cheetos until you go insane you are in a pool or your own drool from your mouth watering over that cheesiness. But if you tell yourself ‘I am sort of hungry and would like some Cheetos. But I am going to have some string cheese and broccoli.’ Literally that’s it. That’s the secret. Don’t just say ‘I can’t have that stuff’, say ‘I am going to choose better foods because I know they are better for me’. And of course, once in a while you do get to indulge in those cravings. If you are really strict on yourself, you won’t stick to this. You will binge and get nowhere.

Make your favorite dishes, but healthier!

There are so many people even on Instagram and Pinterest that have awesome recipes on there for healthified versions of your favorite foods. Like spiralizing squash or zucchini for ‘pasta’ dishes, switching to whole wheat/multigrain waffles from the regular white, drinking juice infused water rather than sugary juice, have sparkling water with fresh lime instead of a soda, eat a protein bar rather than a candy bar (there are some out there that taste like candy, no lie), make banana ‘ice cream’, and so on. If you want a snack, have one. But a healthier one.

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Once you change you mind and thinking, your body will follow. If happens. Every single time. Don’t overthink fitness and health. Don’t stress out over these changes. Accept them. And love them. It makes this transition easier and you’ll be happier.

A Day in the Life of this Ginger

I feel like a lot of people do pretty well with the working out part of trying to get healthy and fit, but they struggle with the diet part. Like I have stated before, you have to change your habits when you commit to becoming healthy. And you have to learn not to associate food with guilt anymore. Just know the bad foods from the good foods, eat more of the good foods. Too many people feel overwhelmed and try to go too far with things. Keep it simple.

To help you get a general idea of things, here is my day in a nutshell.

Workout Followed by Breakfast

I got up at 9 since I knew I wanted to work out prior to a thing I had at around noon. I got up and changed into the workout gear and did a good hamstring session followed by fasted HIIT cardio. Then I had to refuel!

My workout was:

  • Warm up (about 15-20 low weight reps) deadlifts
  • 12/12/10 Deadlifts (standard)
  • 12/10/10 Straight Leg Deadlifts
  • 10/10/10 Single Straight Leg Deadlifts (each leg)
  • 15/12/12 Laying Leg Curls
  • 12/12/10 Standing Leg Curls (single leg)
  • 12/10/10 Cleans
  • 10/8/8 Good Mornings
  • 12/10/10 Power Snatch
  • 12/10/10 Glute raises (laying flat on floor with feet on bench/ball/step with knees bent up, lift glutes and hips up off the floor, squeeze and flex booty at top, come back down)
  • 12/10/10 Squats
  • 20 rounds of 30 sec light walk/30 sec sprint

 

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I worked out for an hour and 15 minutes total. Not too shabby. I was ready for some post workout protein before I jumped in the shower.

 

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YUM! Protein bar and all natural vanilla greek yogurt!

I consumed about 2 Liters of water while working out, so halfway to my daily goal of about 4 Liters (a little under 4 L = 1 gallon).

I jumped in the shower and did a few tasks like go to the bank and met with someone really quick down the road. I sped home due to the fact the water was hitting me. Yes, you will pee a lot. But, you feel better. You are ridding your body of toxins and things all the time, so you feel over all so much better. Just time when you drink your water so you are not stuck on the road/in traffic/in a meeting/etc. No big deal.

So I got home and was HANGRY. Needed a good lunch. I usually consume more food on days I train legs in any form or fashion.

lunch

Lunch was a salad combined of mixed greens, baby spinach, fresh mushrooms, feta crumbles, baby carrots, Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes (I LOVE TOMATOES), and drizzled slightly with a Lite Italian dressing. I had a low fat string cheese on the side and a protein shake. The protein shake was made of a VI vanilla shake packet, half a scoop of strawberry milkshake protein powder, milk, and a few frozen strawberries blended nicely.

I did some self studying on fitness stuff and worked on some website stuff as well as did some chores around the house.

I got hungry again in about 2-3 hours after lunch and listened to my stomach. Had to get a snack.

snack

Don’t let anyone tell you fruits will make you fat. I live off of fruit a good bit of my day. I usually have a good portion at breakfast. And after dinner. Those people are crazy psychos. Fruit is good for you.

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Protein Bar (my fave one, BTW) and 4 Kiwis (YES FOUR OF THEM), 4 strawberries, and some mandarin orange.

Then, my favorite meal came.

Dinner.

I love dinner. Don’t ask me why. But I don’t get excited about eating until later in the day it seems.

Healthy Burritos

gr tturk

Get some ground turkey. Thaw it out if it was frozen. Cook it until it is brown. Add a small bit of water and low sodium taco seasoning.

topping

Also needed:

-Whole wheat/low carb/high fiber/etc tortillas

-Black Beans

-Natural/reduced fat sour cream (or try plain Greek yogurt!)

-Salsa of choice

-Tomatoes (AGAIN BECAUSE I LOVE THEM. Judge away.)

-Cheese if your macros/taste buds want (low sodium, vegan, reduced fat, etc)

-Brown rice if you want

Heat up your tortillas (30 sec in the microwave is great)

Throw your goodies into a tortilla, wrap up that goodness and dig in!

burrito magic

BURRITO MAGIC

yeahhh

YUM.

By now, I have had about 3.5 Liters of water. Going strong!

After dinner, gotta have something sweet. I made some homemade healthy peanut butter cups, so I had 2 of them.

pb cup

Soooo good.

I am working on an eBook. The peanut butter cups will be in it for all you lovelies. So get excited.

I will be finishing the evening with my guy watching Finding Carter and will do some night time yoga before bed. Good Tuesday. Hope this helps give you a general idea of how I do things on a daily basis. My ending macros look like this:

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It was a good day.

Happy Tuesday!

-a

Move of the Day- Leg Raises

Being a gymnastics/cheerleading coach, I have to get creative with workouts and to target certain areas with little to no equipment. This means I create workouts that you can benefit at home. Get in shape without the gym membership!

This is the leg raise. You can do single, or with both legs together. I have strong legs, so I also add ankles weights (I attached to my calf) and do them.

To do single leg raise, sit on the floor in a straddle with legs straight out, toes pointed. Place your hands on the floor on either side of the leg you will be working first. With a straight leg and keeping the toe pointed, lift your leg as high and quickly as you can without bending your knee. Lift your leg straight from your hip. You should feel the burn in your thigh.

You can also do this move with both legs together. Sit in a pike on the floor (legs are pressed together, straight out in front of you) and with toes pointed again, put your hands on either side of your legs and raise your legs up from your hips. This is really important. Don’t just lift your legs by lifting your feet or knee in the air. Using the hip flexors causes you to use your upper leg muscles. This will burn quickly.

Do a quick set of 5, try to do it 5 times for each leg, and then try it together!

 

Happy Saturday, fitties!

 

a

 

Importance of Stretching-Even if you don’t workout

The latest craze in the world, especially in the female population, has been yoga. And there is a good reason why! Yoga gets your body moving, it helps you escape from your stressful daily life, it moves your body when you have been sitting at a desk all week, for 40 hours or more. It helps you get a break from studying for school. It helps you get the blood pumping, release energy, actually even build muscle slowly over time. Stretching has so many benefits, whether you are suffering from insomnia, stress, feeling bloated or tired, having the usual back pain from sitting too long, or to prevent/heal injuries. Stretching has so many amazing benefits, you would have to be a fool not to get into it!

Yoga, stretching, whatever you want to call it

You don’t even have to necessarily do ‘yoga’. You don’t have to know those crazy poses and moves. I can barely pronounce them myself, so you don’t need to know them either. I just want you to understand even bending down and touching your toes (forward fold) and breathing deeply for a couple of minutes to escape and gain some sanity back during a hectic work day. By doing this daily, you will eventually be able to completely fold over, touching your nose to your knees with your legs straight, reaching your hands behind your feet. And you will feel alive and awesome.

Start small-it’ll make a difference

If you are already working out, you can probably handle more advanced things, but still, be careful. Don’t go jumping into a full on split too quick and rip a hammy (pulling a hamstring hurts- I am still recovering from an injury 6 years ago in my show-off cheerleading days. This injury is what got me into yoga and stretching daily). Start with downward dog, deep lunging, warrior poses, table pose, and simple things. I started with simply typing in ‘Yoga for Beginners’ and following some yoga people on Instagram (yogagirl, beachyogagirl, and ellefit are some of my personal faves). Don’t EVER think to do good at yoga you have to be able to hold a handstand for 8 hours and do fancy stuff like that. Just trying it, even if the most advanced you get is wheel pose (a back bend or bridge to normal people), you are doing the best you can and that’s amazing.

‘But I already work out’

Yeah, so do I. And I get a good workout even at work. But guess what? Yoga and stretching should be done even more by people who work out a lot. The more flexible your muscles are, the more work you can do, the more movement you can do and the less likely you are to pull something or become injured. Stretching after working out also prevents some soreness, and injuries. Even if you are a strong Hulk, you can benefit tremendously from stretching.

Prevents joint pain, arthritis, back pain, spinal problems, lowering heart attack risk,help reduce depression/anxiety/stress

With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you want to pick up the habit of stretching, even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes a day? Working out does wonders. If you stretch in the morning, you can get some energy to make it through the day ahead and feel lighter on your feet. If you stretch after eating a big meal, you can help prevent stomach aches and bloating. If you stretch before bed you can help your body go into relax mode and drift right off to sleep.

You don’t need a class, you don’t even technically need to go out and buy a yoga mat

Yeah, they’re cute and all. But do you actually need a yoga mat? No. If you have carpet or rugs, you are totally fine. The yoga mats are more useful for hard wood/tile floors or stretching outside. Save money and just use your carpet in the bedroom as your stretching area.

Build up to the advanced moves

I was a gymnast and cheerleader for a long time. Now I coach. I could handle jumping right into head/forearm/hand stands with no problem. I can also do back bends all day. You may never have done a sport in your life. And that is totally fine. Start with trying to do head stands against the wall if you feel comfortable, but please read up on proper form, possibly ask an instructor to guide you some one on one (try to find a cheap beginner class at the local rec center or YMCA and ask to get extra help after class) or at least make sure you have another person to help spot you and hold your legs if needed to ensure you put your weight on your hands (or elbows depending on your position you choose to execute the head stand) and not on your neck or any other bad area. The easiest way to get into a headstand is to lace your fingers together in front of you, place your hands on the floor and place the top of your skull into your palms. Straighten your legs with your toes pointed and still on the ground. Try and test putting your weight on your elbows that are bent and on the ground (your forearms are on the ground as well as you are still clasping your head). Now jump your legs into a tuck position (knees bent, feet off of the ground). Make sure you are sucking in your belly, keeping your spine and neck straight, supporting your balance in your forearm and elbows. Now straighten your legs with your toes to the sky. Squeeze your booty and stay tight. If you are using the wall a lot for support in the beginning, that’s okay. Stay in this position as long as you can to try and get the feel for it as well as trying to gain the muscles needed to be able to hold this without the wall one day. Eventually, you can start trying to get your legs off of the wall slowly to find your balance and hold the position without support for as long as you can. Then you will be able to try it away from the wall completely.

headstand

 

 

Here are some basic stretching moves you can try anywhere and at any level!

 

Happy Stretching 🙂

 

Jivamukti-Yoga-Beginners-Class-4 Ashtanga-Yoga-Class-1

 

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Move of the Day- Squat Lunges!

With or without dumbbells, this is a simple move that will raise your heart rate in no time and can target a lot of muscle groups if executed properly.

Start with feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed out slightly (don’t have them facing directly forwards) and think about raising your toes slightly to put your weight on you heals to engage your hamstrings and glutes properly when you squat.

Bend at your knee, while pushing your booty back, like you are looking for a chair behind you.

IMPORTANT: Try to keep your knees behind your toes. Don’t let them go past them in squats! If they do drastically, you need to push your booty back further. If you are struggling with this and keeping your chest up, work on squats right against the wall (facing the wall). Be about only 6 inches from the wall and squat down. If you touch the wall, correct your posture.

Also! Don’t drop your chest! Squats aren’t just touching the ground, I have seen a couple of people think squatting is folding over and never bending their legs…goodness no.

Stand up from your squat, and immediately step one leg back into a lunge (knee almost touches the ground, but not quite). Bring feet back together and squat again. When you come back up, immediately bring the opposite leg back to a back lunge as well.

Repeat for 4 sets of 10 for a good burn as well as a great leg/bum workout!

 

Here is the move with & without weights! If you add weights, it’ll give an extra workout for your legs as well as a bonus arm workout! I also have it from different angles to ensure you get to proper form.

Let me know if you try this!

Enjoy the burn 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Out-On a Budget

Think you need a gym membership to get fit? Think you need a personal trainer for $90/hour? Think you have to spend thousands to get a decent set up for a home gym?

Think again.

You can work out at home- with little to no equipment. Body weight exercises, yoga, all types of things! I will break down proper form on these in later posts, if you don’t know what any of these are (or you can ask me!).

  • Squats/squat jumps
  • Lunges (walking, forward, back, side, pulses)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Push ups (push up rows, incline, decline, on your knees, wide, narrow, regular)
  • Mountain climbers (slow or fast)
  • Burpees (beginner style or advanced)
  • Squat then raise one knee to elbow, squat, repeat with other side
  • Tuck jumps (stand still, jump and bring your knees forward and up towards your chest)
  • High knees in place
  • Booty kicks in place (lift feet back towards your booty)
  • Plank tucks (in plank position, jump knees to chest together, jump legs back into plan)
  • Plank holds
  • Plank arm switches (go from on hands down to elbow one arm first, then the other, then one at a time get back on your hands while engaging your abs and squeezing your booty)
  • Tuck Straddles (sitting on your booty with knees to chest, lean back some, lifting your feet off the ground with knees still bent, lift hands off the grounds and go from tuck position into a straddle-straight legs out-and return back to tuck position still not touching the ground nor your legs with your hands)
  • Superman lifts
  • Handstands and Handstand Push Ups against the wall (please work up to this, I will post working up to handstands and inversions soon)
  • V ups (laying flat on your back, with arms straight by your head, engaging your core lift both shoulders and legs off the ground, reaching hands towards your toes then come back flat down and repeat)
  • Penguins (laying on your back, feet on the ground, legs bent, knees in the air, you will go side to side touching the side of your hand to the side of your ankle on that side, repeat as quickly as you can, with shoulders lifted off of the ground)

 

 

 

 

Equipment on a Budget

There are so many ways to get some equipment when you want to be more hard core than just body weight moves.

When I graduated with my business degree, I was given $500 as gifts from family. I took that and went sale/yard sale/craigslist shopping on the hunt for some great deals on workout equipment. Even if you just get dumbbells in different weights, you can do a lot.

 

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I started with just the dumbbell set where you can add or take off the weights as you desire or need. But then I went and got the 10 lb, then 20 lb and then a 30 lb (yes, I can actually curl that 30 lb one because ARMS OF STEEL). You can find dumbbells at Walmart or Target as well as people who bought them and let them collect dust for months for pretty cheap.

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Having a stability ball is great for abs, arms, and all kinds of things. I love this stupid thing. Next I wish to get a bosu ball, which is just half of a ball and is really great for getting all areas of your abs with different moves.

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This bench set came with the weights, the barbell and the bench. I found it on sale for $150.00 at Walmart. No joke. It was the last one. I see them online, especially Craigslist often too. Check everywhere. Price check on Amazon as well, especially if you have a Prime membership. I recently bought another barbell and 100 lbs of extra weights to be able to add more weight to my squats.

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I got this for FREE. A family member had it and used it for like a month. He heard I am a fitness junkie and that I jokingly wanted a punching bag to tape my old manager’s face (from my desk job) to it and go at it. He took me up on that joke and I found this at my house in the bed of a truck the next week. Ask around. People buy or receive workout stuff over time and if they aren’t using it, you can!

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Craigslist. $125. No lie. Keep your eye out. Set an alert from the app available on the smart phones for certain items when they are posted. This is how I found this baby. It had been bought by a husband to his wife after she had baby number one. She hardly used it, and just had baby number two and just wanted to sell her fitness stuff for extra money for the family. It was a win/win situation. I got a great working treadmill for my HIIT sprints and she gained extra money for feeding her two children.

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I know as odd as it seems, ankle weights are a cheap must have. As a former gymnast and gymnastics coach, you can do so much with these babies. Walk with them on the ankles, put them on your wrists while you walk to gain some muscle work as your do cardio. Put them on the ankles as you do your jumping jacks. Do leg raises with them on. Put them on your calf and do straddle seated leg raises with toes pointed. Hurts sooooo good for the thighs.

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Another cheap but great item. Jump rope is great cardio. Change your cardio up to keep your body guessing and your metabolism through the roof. Do 30 sec of jump rope as fast as you can (feet together) and then a 30 sec rest 20 times. Good burn!

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Not only is the pull up bar ($20 at Walmart/Target/pharmacies) great, but you can even add the bands either for assistance with pull ups (if you are new, you probably need the bands to put your foot in to help until you are stronger) or as I show on the right, you can do pull downs for arms with the bands. See? No need for a gym membership here.

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Another way to use your bar and $5 pack of bands, leg day! Put your bar on the ground in the doorway for support, place a foot in the band loop, kick that leg straight back as far as you can while keeping your upper body remains straight with your chest up. Repeat on the other leg! You can also stand facing the other way and kick forward, or try to kick side to side.

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You will not miss doing the equivalent of this move in the gym, the hip abductor machine. (lol) This helps with saddle bags and the sides of your booty. Tie a band into a loop, put legs in, raise one leg as high as you can. Then the other leg. You will feel the burn. If not, tie the band tighter and/or add the ankle weights for extra work!

Another good idea is trying out YouTube videos! Look up fitness or home workouts and you can find videos similar to programs like Insanity or P90X.

See? Working out doesn’t have to break the bank. If you do things right, you can create a home gym on a budget, for less than it would usually cost for a gym membership for 6 months. You save gas. You save time. And you can workout in your underwear (or naked) with your own music blasting (unless it’s 3 am and your neighbors aren’t cool with that). It’s much more fun.

Happy exercising!

a

Working Out as a Female

As women, we are thought of as fragile, dainty, and very different from men. We always have. We have fought to be thought of as equals in the work place, with earning the bread as well in families, to be able to vote, and to be able to stand side by side our fellow males. So why is it that in the fitness world, women are supposed to be completely different? We are supposed to be cardio queens and not step foot in the weight room unless we are crazy or lesbian according to most of the fellow males of the gym. But why? And why is it that so many women think that cardio is all they should do and all that they need.

False.

Being a cardio queen won’t make you ‘tone’ (note: I hate the word ‘tone’. When most people want to say they just want to ‘tone’ up, it really means they want to lose fat and gain muscle definition) or make you magically able to still eat whatever you want as long as you run for 6 hours afterward.

Pick up some weights. Some heavy ones.

You read that right. You don’t even need to go to the gym in the weight room (where you will more than likely will be judged, looked at oddly, or harassed by the males) if you know what to have at home. Even body weight exercises are great for building some muscle to. I barely know grown men who can knock out 100 burpees in a row (burpee= jump up, squat down and get into plank position, push up, plank position, jump back up-that’s 1) or be able to do many handstand push ups NOT against a wall. It takes some muscles to do any of these.

Why lift? I just want to lose weight. Cardio is great for that right?

Cardio is great at first, when you go from doing nothing to running/biking/whatever it is you want to do. But your body will get used to it. You will get to a point where you running 2 miles everyday is expected and it no longer does anything for your metabolism or health really. By switching it up, you can prevent this from happening. Cardio queens always end up hitting a plateau and they think ‘oh no’. They don’t know what they are doing wrong. They probably also thought they could just start running/cycling/etc and not worry about their diet because they’d lose the weight no matter what. False, again.

Without combining both exercise and keeping up with your food, you won’t really get the results you want, or if you do, it probably won’t last because your habits didn’t actually change and you’ll gain it back.

weights

Don’t just do 80 curls with a 2 lb weight.

Yes. I am saying it. I have seen so many trainers give women a really light weight and tell them to do like a million reps. If you want results, like the kind you see in fitness magazines, if you don’t want to just look skinny, you’ll use a higher weight.

Lift heavy. Monitor what you are eating. Do cardio only a few times a week, for short time.

HIIT cardio is the best cardio if you are looking to maintain your muscle, speed up your metabolism and aren’t a fan of running much. A 10 minute HIIT session will even get your metabolism boosted for the next 48 hours more than a 60 minute steady session.

Building muscle boosts your metabolism.

Muscles burn more than fat. It’s simple. Once you put on some muscle, you will have your metabolism being your friend rather than your enemy.

If you are starving yourself and just doing steady cardio, you have probably pretty much killed your metabolism. It’s near non-existent. You will have to eat, yes, actually eat to reverse your metabolism.

STOP EATING 1000 CALORIES A DAY.

You are probably constantly tired, never have energy, feel miserable and anxious, and hate your life. Wanna know why? YOU HAVE TO FUEL YOUR BODY.

I get so sad seeing all these females eating a 1200 calorie diet a day and then jumping on an elliptical for an hour. You have to eat to see results. You will need to eat often and twice those calories (but with good fats, protein, and carbs) to reverse the damage that has been done.

Yes, I was one of these girls. I starved myself for about a year. I wanted days of only eating 600 calories a day, then I got on the elliptical for 60 minutes minimum. I had just gotten out of high school and cheer/gymnastics. I was clueless on how to live in the real adult world and try to not blow up without my high school sports to keep me active. I wanted to look like a model. But I was clueless on what to do, and how much damage I actually was doing to myself. I would fall asleep at times I really shouldn’t have, and I slept all the time. I was a bitter, angry, worried, and anxious person. When I look back, I honestly hate the person I was.

There needs to be info and help and guides for females to know what really works. I want to help make that happen. If you need help reversing your metabolism after eating 1000 calories a day, after spending endless hours on the treadmill, please contact me. I would love to help you get on the right track. I really want to change the myths of getting in shape and being healthy.

 

I genuinely want to help.

 

Email me: ashhealthgirl@gmail.com

 

a

Supplements-Are they actually worth it?

In the big bad world of fitness and health are thousands upon thousands up supplements. Some are to be the ‘miracle pill’ or tea, or whatever to make you lose weight and gain muscle overnight. This is false. I don’t care what the product is, not possible. But behind all of the giant companies with their false ads, are the little guys hiding that are actually worth a damn. I, myself, take only a small amount of supplements. I mean, I barely even make protein shakes with powdered whey after my workout as I workout from home and prefer to get my protein from real sources, or I would rather have a protein bar (with good macros of course) rather than stand at the blender and have to suck down this huge shake before I shower (I have skin problems and need to shower pretty quick after sweating so much). I could wait until after I shower, but depending on my womanly duties of shaving every inch of my body every so often, I might end up going past the time window you should consume your protein to recover and hold on to your muscle mass [30 minutes after working out you should consume your post-workout/protein]. So, I have started taking BCAAs as soon as I finish my workout with a glass of water as well as shove a small protein bar in my mouth (I am an attractive lady, can’t you tell?). But, as I always say, to each their own. If you are into whey protein (the giant tubs of protein in varieties of flavors in almost any store, pharmacy, or health store) and want to mix it with water in your blender bottle at the gym (**pic of blender bottle for the new people to this lifestyle, you can buy these pretty much anywhere, online, Target, CVS, and so on**) blender b   then go for it. I personally still feel the chalky, gritty powder and I would prefer to blend it actually in a blender, with milk and ice (to make it thick like a milkshake) to make it enjoyable to me. I think a lot of fitness people choose the blender bottle with milk or water for their protein intake after the gym because they feel like they have to. Like it’s their only choice. I think life is too short and I am going to enjoy how I have my protein, simple as that. Another thing very popular right now is Quest Bars. You can find them online or at health stores (think GNC, Vitamin Shop, Whole Foods, etc) and they have several different flavors.

quest bar

I have tried them, and I hate them. I tried baking them, broiling them, with yogurt, everything I could think of. So many people love them (like, use them for everything in baking and even bake small pieces to make a ‘cereal’) but I just can’t stand them.

There are many other brands out there that I enjoy and are still macro friendly.

My favorite at the moment, are the Balance Bar brand. Delicious, macro friendly, so many flavors, affordable, and a good size. Some protein bars out there are huge and ridiculous in my opinion. My favorite flavor currently is cookie dough.

Balance Bar Cookie Dough Close

Supplements are tricky. You can take a pill form for pretty much any and all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients we need to have in a day’s time, but is that what we should do? Instead of eating healthy foods take a pill? You should always try and get your nutrients from FOOD FIRST. The pill route is great if you really are struggling with a deficiency, but try and get what you are looking for in food forms.

With that said, I am not big on supplements. I do not believe your body absorbs the pill form on nutrients the way it does wholesome foods. Your body is meant to use the food as it’s fuel (like the gas to your car), but the pill form is just another man made route to try and make life ‘easier’. We as a society are so lazy we would rather take vitamins in a pill than eat some damn vegetables. That’s sad.

These are the only things I am using at the moment, and I have my reasons for each one.

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BCAAs. For recovering after a hard lifting session and to hold on to the muscle you have worked hard for. BCAA stands for Branched-Chain Amino Acids. This is the number one supplement out there with the most research pointing towards success and only good things from it. If you are wanting to diet down but also gain muscle, it’s nearly an oxymoron. But BCAAs make it possible. BCAAs and glutamine are natural amino acids that are actually already in our bodies. They are building blocks for muscles.

Glutamine.

Like BCAAs, glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid that your body already produces. It’s a building block for building and maintaining those rock hard muscles.

Cellucor HD

Many people take preworkouts. There are powdered forms, and pill forms. I have tried a few. The Cellucor C4 (powdered preworkout) is great if you can deal with powdered mix drinks. I bought some in Strawberry Margarita, but just mixing it with water in my blender bottle wasn’t doing it for me. If I mixed it with hot water and put it in the fridge like Koolaid, I might be happier, oh well. I’ll try that later I guess. So I take the HD pill as my preworkout. It is a fat burner as well gets you pepped up with energy and able to focus on my gainzzz (read: working out hard to build muscle). I do not suggest taking more than one a day. I simply take one about 60-90 minutes before my workout. The bottle says take one in the morning and then one during the afternoon. Don’t get hooked on things like this. It also has high caffeine amounts, which may interrupt your sleeping at night. Many people have said they also had problems with their stomach when taking this. It is probably because the back of the bottle says twice a day and even suggests taking up to 3 a day. Please take caution when taking supplements. Take it for what you need/want it for and no more.

Cellucor CLK

Raspberry ketones is a chemical taken from red raspberries and there have been a few researches done that shows this chemical to increase the metabolism. I only started taking this as a sort of trial and error experiment. I had someone tell me they swore they were seeing abs because they took ketones with every meal. I am still skeptical, but this was a good price as an add on from an online health order so I thought I would try it. I have not noticed any ‘miracles’ like Dr. Oz himself tried to claim from this chemical in a pill form. I have noticed my #2 is red now and it scared me like no other at first (TMI, but I don’t want anyone else worried if they do try this product).

Combining the CLK and HD are supposed the Cellucor duo to seeing amazing results. I have been taking the two for about a week, so there is still time to see. I am the guinea pig to try and tell you if it really works or just save your money.

**For preworkouts, you can also simply eat. Eat carbs, eat something like an english muffin (whole grain) with a little natural peanut butter. Or eat a banana. Or drink some coffee. It is NOT necessary to consume a preworkout**

A lot of people are also taking fish oil daily. I personally consume a good amount of fish naturally. I am a sucker for fresh sushi rolls from Whole Foods, as well as stocking my freezer with shrimp, scallops, salmon, and other white fish from the same store (try and get your seafood from reliable sources). Fish oil can help with high blood pressure and high bad cholesterol levels, as well as for women with painful periods. Fish oil has many, many good reasons to take it, but like I said above, FOOD FIRST BEFORE PILLS. I have upped my fish intake because I have been battling depression the last few months due to a tragedy I dealt with. And I will say, eating right, drinking enough water, getting rest, working out and eating the fish has all worked in making me hopeful and happy. Not just one miracle thing works. You have to be willing to do everything it takes to be happy and healthy, in every aspect of the words.

What I am trying to say is:

  • To be fit, you do NOT require to spend loads of $$ of supplements. You can see results and have great health without a pill or supplement in sight.
  • If you choose to take supplements, do your research on what you should take and the results and/or side effects that may occur. You should also research the brand you are looking into.
  • For some supplements, you need to make sure you aren’t being scammed. Probiotics, for example, are live cultures. Like what is in most yogurts. They should be chilled. If you are buying an antibiotic and it’s not in the fridge section, you may want to research more about the brand.
  • Read reviews. Yes, things work differently for everyone. But if you look up something and it’s nothing but 300 people saying they hated it and it was a waste of money, you probably should look for something else.

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Fad dieting: the breakdowns of the latest fads out there

This change can be overwhelming mainly because of all the different diets, the different workouts, the different plans, and the different facts you are hearing from everywhere. One person is crossfitting and eating all the bacon they can handle (Paleo) and getting like Hulk, while another person is dropping weight by going vegan and running half marathons daily. What should you do? Where should you start? Here is a guide to help you towards your own personal goals.

 

The Diets

There are really so many out there with so many ‘success stories’ that I can see why pretty much any and all of them can seem tempting to you. But I will list the diet fad with it’s rules and regulations as well as my thoughts about it. You can always make your own judgement I just want you well equipped out there as many people want you to join their fad (**read cult**) for their own gains in some sort.

 

Atkins

Where do I even begin? Please do not think you can some how have a ‘no carb’ diet. This doesn’t exist if you even only eat plants. Atkins is the low carb diet, with the products in the store (sometimes the same aisle as the protein bars, which saddens me when I am doing my stocking up) that supposedly have zero to no carbs. This diet is practically a giant lie through and through. Carbs are in everything but water. Carbs are your friend, no matter what this diet tries to sell you.

 

SlimFast

I shutter at the thought of only eating the SlimFast line of products. With SlimFast, you are to choose from their range of products (shakes, meal bars, snack bars, so on) for two meals and two snacks and then having a balanced dinner. My problem with SlimFast is the chemical shit storm on that ingredient list. If you want a protein shake for a meal, make one in a blender with ingredients you know where they came from. (Protein powder of your choice+milk of choice+ add fruit or ice as desired, BLEND boom)

Paleo

Paleo is the cave man diet that is big in the Crossfit world. You don’t eat dairy, grains, processed foods, legumes, starches, and of course alcohol. But you can eat all the meat you want. Some say fruits are okay, lots of the followers say no because it’s sugar. It’s the diet the beginning humans used to have, because it’s all they had. Hunting and harvesting was all they knew of when it come to survival. My opinion on this is the fact that it sounds like a good idea, but then there are the people who eat mounds of bacon and think it’s great, it’s Paleo. And legumes? They are full of protein and fiber. They come from the earth. Along with wheat and grains. I do not know why you would simply rid your diet of whole food groups unless you are diagnosed with a medical problem, especially food groups that come from the earth. I am just not comfortable with a diet that restrictive.

Gluten Free

The latest craze of the ‘fad diet’ world. I see Gluten Free all over the shelves of the grocery stores now. But is it all that you think it is? Is it that miracle to all miracles? You know why things with gluten are actually poor for your health? The refined garbage and bleached flours are what’s hurting you. Gluten is the elasticity to hold the breads and doughs in baked goods together. It’s the little bubbles when you bake bread. It gives bread the consistency it needs to be that texture, and that fluffy feeling. Yes, gluten is the devil for people with certain diseases. But for everyone else? The gluten free crap on the shelf is full of other terrible things for you. You lose the gluten and replace it with probably 8 more ingredients that are worse. If you do feel better with the gluten free lifestyle, make your gluten free things at home, please. Otherwise, stick with whole wheat. Whole wheat, not white, is best for you. Whole grains are good for the body as well as your soul in my opinion. Having a freshly made tomato sauce with some whole wheat noodles along with a big helping of a fresh mixed greens salad topped with fresh lemon juice. My soul would be complete. As well as my body loving me.

Vegan

Vegan is when you have no, NO animal products. No dairy, no meat, nothing. There are lots of vegan junk food out there though, so if you choose this route, please know you can still be unhealthy. Raw Vegan is the best choice. You eat strictly plant based foods and just as it sounds-the uncooked versions. You can eat bananas and carrots all day. You can make smoothies by blending bananas and other fruits with ice. You can do the juicing of raw fruits and veggies. If you can stick with this diet without feeling deprived (that mental stability I am always talking about) is what you need to keep in mind when you choose a diet that is right for you to follow.

Raw Til 4

This diet is for the people who love the idea of Raw Vegan but don’t know if they can stick with it strictly and able to keep it together mentally. Raw Til 4 is when you keep it raw vegan (plants/fruits/veggies) uncooked until 4 pm. After, most people say to only have cooked vegetables and whole grains (have potatoes and brown rice for example) while others are more lenient (I support this one the most, it’s more likely you could stick to it for a lifetime, day in and day out) after 4 with grilled fish and other items. I fully support the Raw Til 4 diet and the people I have heard from about this diet are extremely happy-mentally and physically. You can stick with it for the longterm versus a lot of the other diets.

Fruitarian

This is the Raw Vegan life  but you only live off of fruits. This is a good idea, except having a vegetable is actually not bad for you. This is like the banana diet craze going around. I hate bananas (yes, I hate it, they are so good for you) but you can do so much with them and they are amazing for you. Saying that though, spinach is great for you too. To each their own on this one. I could eat pounds of kiwis don’t get me wrong. I just feel you would lose nutrients from other sources with this.

Counting Calories

The old fashioned diet. My mother believes, still, in religiously counting calories daily. Calories in needs to be lower than calories out. This is usually the way of life for people with a rocky relationship with food, especially in eating disorders (namely anorexia). Yes, the logic is there. Yes it works. 1) Do you really know how many calories you need in a day, to maintain/gain/lose? The only way to know this is to calculate your needs. You can find calculators for this formula online to make it easy (such as http://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/calories). A lot of factors make up how much you need. Using My Fitness Pal app on your phone will help find this number as well. 2) 2000 calories of donuts versus 2000 calories of vegetables is made up completely different. Other factors should be involved. If life was so easy that you could simply only worry about calories for the rest of forever and be healthy, it’d be great. But life is complicated and messy. And so is being healthy.

IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros aka Macro Counting)

Spinning off from calorie counting, you can count the major nutrients you need in your diet, how your calories are made up in a day. Your macros are protein, fats and carbs. How you do this diet is keeping track of what you eat in a day and figuring out what percentage of your calories in the entire day were from each source (carbs, protein, fats). My Fitness Pal does this breakdown easily for you. So if you should be eating 2300 calories a day, you plug in your intakes for the day (you can plan ahead and plug in or plug in as you go) and see the breakdown of your macros to know if you are on track or not.This is my style. This is the diet I mainly stick with. Yes, it’s time consuming to keep up with everything you put into your mouth, but once you get the hang of hitting your macros, you kind of know how to do it. You can stop plugging in the numbers, unle/s you are on contest prep or something.

Clean Eating

This is the purest of the pure. You would have to eliminate it all, the process, preservatives, all the crap that comes from the modern food pretty much everyone consumes in today’s day and age. You only eat whole, natural foods. No refined sugars, flour, nothing. You would replace everything with the purely natural. Honey and pure stevia for sweetening (or pure organic fruit juice). You would make nearly everything from scratch. This is quite the commitment. The problem with this diet, is the sanity. This is the main diet I talk about then I say you have to have mental stability with the diet you choose. Clean eating can cause people to become beyond obsessive. What kind of life is it to worry about everything you eat, not being able to go out with friends to a restaurant, not ever being able to eat foods other people make most of the time. This is great for people who really can just eat organic, grass fed chicken boobs and brown rice day in and day out. It’s wonderful in perspective and on paper, but it’s hard in action. It is hard in real life. And it can cause disordered eating in a different aspect. A lot of people in the fitness world who were once very very strict with clean eating (especially on contest diets) have an eating disorder. They are obsessed with every food that touches their lips. They breathe eating clean and figuring out what is in every food out there. This is a disorder. It is the same as anorexia, just a different approach. If you are living every day worrying about what to eat, when to eat, what you are eating, it’s a problem. If you choose this way, please, please, please be careful. Please do not be so strict and hard on yourself. Life is short. If you become obsessive and disorded, please seek help. Please stop while you are ahead and evaluate everything. Your mental health should never be replaced with the ‘goal body’.

The 80/20 Rule

This is the way you can balance the clean eating with finding balance and harmony with all the the foods you love but you know aren’t good for you at all. This is the ideal diet. Moderation. You spend 80% of your time eating whole, natural foods that fuel your body the right way. The other 20% is what you love (pizza, cookies, a small french fry through the drive through). This is the break you need from the healthy world. If it’s recommended to rest from working out at least once a week, why wouldn’t the rule apply to your eating? You need a break from it all once in a while. It’s good for you. I personally follow this lifestyle along with the IIFYM. I have never been better. Never been happier. Never been in a size 4 pants before. But here I am (with my brand new size 4 jeans I bought yesterday). I just fill up on fruits and veggies first, think like the Raw Til 4 diet, except not so strict. I try to eat really well breakfast and lunch. I am a little more lenient for dinner (it’s also usually my refuel after working out right now-I work out after lunch most days since leaving the desk life). I am not saying I go get a Big Mac (gross, sorry, but I just can’t do McDs) for dinner, but I will have a burger my boyfriend grilled, I will get a steak and veggies at Outback (even get a sweet tea if I feel like). This is a good lifestyle you can stick with and still be happy and healthy all the way around.

Intermittent Fasting

This is big in the fitness world right now. You fast for a certain number of hours (let’s say you don’t eat from 8 pm until noon the next day). Yes there is science behind this, but I do not know many people who can starve themselves that long without going crazy. For most people, fasting and starving only equals binging later on, and usually on terrible foods (three double cheeseburgers and a milkshake, with a side of brownies). You have to have some serious discipline and dedication for this one. I really have only heard/seen major success from this from the males who try it. I have heard of men even helping their vitals at the doctor with this diet. Yet again, it is what works for you and your body, mind, and soul.

Carb Cycling

With this, it is like the fasting up above, but you have high carbs days (like on work out days, leg day, etc) and then low carb days (like rest day, or active rest, light activity). You need mad discipline. You will need to stay away from peanut butter, oatmeal, and so on. You will live off of chicken boobs, veggies and so on. No rice. Little fruit (read sugars=carbs). It would suck. But it works for some people.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope this has helped you feel a little bit more educated and equipped to be able to choose the right style of eating and diet you think is best for you. Your body is different from mine. It’s different from the last person you saw. It’s different from Jim Bob down the road. You have to figure out what is best for you. It needs to keep you healthy: mind. body. soul. If it doesn’t, try something else. You need to find what you can stick with for the long haul if you want results, if you want change. Not just for this week or month.

 

If you have questions, please let me know.

ashhealhthgirl@gmail.com

 

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My Own Progress

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The top picture is about a two months difference, the bottom two are more about 4-5 months. This is me and my journey thus far. What did I do? Got it together. I made a commitment to myself. I workout at least 3 days a week, I never go more than 3 days without working out, I am eating by the 80/20 rule. (I am making a post about my eating and work out rules next-including the 80/20 rule). I just want you to know you can trust me and I am practicing every single thing I preach. I will never get you to do something I am not willing to do myself (I have probably already done and am doing it). I am showing you it’s not impossible. I am having slow progress because guess what? If you want these results to last, you will do it slow and not hurry it up. These fad diets, miracle pills, all these things you see people use to get results in like a month’s time is 1 not healthy and 2 will NOT LAST. They either just lived off of carrots and water for the whole month and they will not be able to keep living like that the rest of their lives or they paid way too much money on some ‘miracle supplements’ and when they go back to their normal habits, they will just go back to the same weight due to not actually changing their lifestyle and habits. If you want results, if you want happiness and health for the longterm, you have to realize skinny is never the goal. It’s never a happy place. If you aren’t mentally there, if you aren’t happy with your insides or your life, your pants size and weight will not make a difference in this. But guess what? Exercising brings endorphins which cause happiness, eating right makes you feel like a new person as your body is receiving what it needs to live, and being balanced in life in general is a goal everyone should be striving towards. I hope to help you get to that journey, I hope to help guide you down this winding road and get to the rainbow on the other side.

 

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aka thatfitginger