DIY Cardio Fun!

Workouts are supposed to be enjoyable, right? I know...some days are absolutely horrific and you are counting the minutes until the cardio is OVER...well today, thankfully, was not one of those days for me and after finishing my Back/Chest Lift, I grabbed a jump rope and headed down to the basketball court to entertain myself with :30 minutes of HIIT. Here's what I did:

1:00 min jump rope
Full court suicide
(I hit the top of the 3-pt arc, back to the baseline, half-court, back to the baseline, the opposite end 3-pt arc, back to the baseline, full court, back to baseline)
1:00 min jump rope
5 full court sprints (sprint one length, jog back, and so on)
1:00 min jump rope
Half-court Chunky Monkey Jumps/Half-court Frog Jumps
1:00 min jump rope
Half-court Bear Crawl/Half-court Crab Walk
1:00 min jump rope

Then I repeated this whole sequence again.

As a reward, I grabbed one of the basketballs off the rack and used it as a soccer ball. Soccer is one of my life passions and anytime I have an opportunity to practice juggling (keeping the ball in the air using feet/thighs/head/etc. without letting it hit floor-no hands!) I take it. If there's a ball of some fashion, I will use it. I love practicing my foot skills and dancing around the court imagining I'm the next Pele. :)

The bottom line is that exercise and training has to be fun. Period. If it's not enjoyable, then why do it. Life is too short. Play hard!!


Memorial Day BBQ Feast!

There's nothing quite like a good ol fashioned Memorial Day BBQ and we just knocked one out of the park. My mom is a Food Network fanatic and is constantly reinventing recipes and finding ways to keep meals fresh and healthy. She is an incredible chef and she has been inspiring me with her cooking all my life. Now that I have my very own fabulous kitchen, I too, enjoy rolling up my sleeves and creating amazing feasts for my family and friends. We joined forces today and created an incredible Memorial Day BBQ that provided recipes worthy of many more summer BBQs to come!

Chicken/Veggie Kabobs

Chicken Breast - Marinate in your favorite flavors and cut chicken in to small chunks
Bell Peppers - cut into small chunks
Tomatoes - cut into small chunks or cherry tomatoes work as well
Vidalia and Red Onions - cut into small chunks
Zucchini - cut into small chunks
*You can add really anything you like to the skewers. If you prefer to add mushrooms or squash or anything else, go for it!
Once you have all the veggies and chicken cut in to the appropriate sized chunks begin skewering them on your skewers. Bring them out to a preheated grill and get cooking!

Scallop/Pineapple/Peach Kabobs

1 lb. Sea Scallops - Marinate in minced garlic, lemon juice and a touch of honey for about :30 min prior to grilling
2 Peaches - Cut in to small chunks
1 pineapple - cut into small chunks
*When cutting veggies & fruit in to chunks, make sure they are large enough to skewer and will not fall off or apart once they begin to cook (see pic).

Once fruit is cut into chunks and scallops have marinated, skewer them up and get grilling!

Serve these delicious creations over brown rice or spinach...Try this little side dish as an accent and cool flavor enhancer for the chicken kabobs.

Cucumber/Yogurt Salad

1 English Cucumber or 2 Regular Cucumbers
1 c. plain, fat free Greek yogurt
2 tsp. dill weed
2 tsp. stevia
2 tsp. sea salt seasoning of choice (I love Herbamare)

Chop up the cucumber in to tiny chunks (1/2" each) OR use a slicer and slice up into very thin slices)
Put cucumber slices into a bowl and Greek yogurt, add seasonings and stir together. You can continue to add seasonings to taste.
Refrigerate and when the kabobs are done, serve with your fabulous meal!

Banana Chip Protein Cookies

1/4 c. unsweetened apple sauce (or vegetable oil, if preferred)
1 c. stevia
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. whey protein powder (I used chocolate)
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 lg. ripe banana

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash banana in a large bowl and then add remaining ingredients and mix together. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and spoon batter into dollops at desired size onto sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes. Enjoy!


Fresh and Clean Spaghetti and Meatballs

We haven't been having as much fun with our dinners lately because I was in show prep mode and that really didn't allow for too much creativity, so I was excited to give this a whirl once things settled back in. We've had this poor spaghetti squash sitting on the counter for about 5 weeks and I thought it was time to let the little beauty have its moment!

I started by spraying a large glass pan with cooking spray and then cut up the squash into quarters. I sprayed each piece and laid them face down in the pan. I threw the pan in the over for 40 minutes at 375 degrees and started prepping my meat sauce.

The meat sauce is simple, ingredients include:
1 package of ground chicken or turkey or lean ground beef
2 large cans diced tomatoes
1 c. diced green peppers
1 c. diced onions
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tblsp. olive oil
Seasonings included: oregano, sea salt blend and pepper (I kept it simple; but, you can get very creative with this)

Start by browning the meat and then set it aside. In a large sauce pan pour in olive oil and let it warm slightly, then add your garlic. Saute the garlic for about a minute and then add in your peppers and onions. I sauteed this for about 2 minutes and then threw in the meat and cooked it all together for an additional minute. Next step is to drain your canned tomatoes and then add them to the pan and simmer until the spaghetti squash is done. Stir occasionally.

Once the spaghetti squash is cooked, (it will be hot, so be careful) scrape it with a fork into a large bowl. Serve with meat sauce and enjoy!

This recipe has an incredibly FRESH taste...you can really taste all the flavors and it's not heavy like whole wheat pasta can be. I highly recommend it even in the summer time!



Grilled Chicken Mexi-Veg Wrap

1 whole wheat lavash wrap
1 tblsp. hummus (I like red pepper)
1 baby cucumber
1/2 c. baby spinach
2 tblsp. salsa of choice (I chose a black bean one)
4 oz. sliced grilled chicken breast

Slice n' dice your chicken and cucumber. Spread the hummus on the wrap and place the spinach, chicken and cucumbers inside. Top it with salsa. Fold it and roll it up in some foil and there you go...lunch is served! I like to toss it in the microwave for 30 seconds at the office just to mesh all the flavors together...YUM!
I had some watermelon as an appropriate accoutrement...what a heavenly delight.


Recipes for the Fit n' Fabulous!

Here are a few recipe for my fit n' fabulous friends. We are all busy bees and it's helpful to have a handful of "go to" recipes that keep us on track nutritionally; but, taste incredible!

Thanksgiving All Year Long!

4 oz. 99% lean ground turkey
1/4 c. 100% pure organic pumpkin
(canned-hard to find at certain times of the year, I've come to learn)
2 tsp. Honey
A few shakes of cinnamon

Cook up the ground turkey in a skillet. I like to keep a big container of it to use for omelets and other quick recipes.
Mix up the ingredients in a bowl and toss it in the microwave for 1:00 min or so, give it a good stir it Voila! Thanksgiving year round!
Feel free to adjust quantities of ingredients according to taste and nutritional requirements.

One Bowl Wonder

I know what you're thinking...this looks nasty...but trust me, don't judge a book by its cover, my friends...give it a whirl. Here's how the magic happens:

1/4 c. oats
4 egg whites
1/2 c. spinach
1 tblsp. protein powder (optional)
Good fat: 1 tblsp. nut butter or coconut oil
1/4 c. blueberries or strawberries or 1/2 banana
A few shakes of cinnamon (optional)

Add water to oats and microwave for 1:00. Oatmeal is a subjective thing, so when you are pleased with the consistency and temperature of the oatmeal, add protein powder and good fat of choice & mix it up!

Meanwhile, blend up egg whites and spinach and microwave for about 90 seconds (please note, it will be green and will grow like a blob monster in the microwave, it's kinda cool actually!) You may want to lightly spray bowl with cooking spray b/f microwaving, sometimes it's hard to get egg residue off when washing afterward.

Mix your green egg blob INTO the oatmeal mixture and dice it up. Add fruit and mix thoroughly. You can re-microwave if you would like to...shake on some cinnamon and even some honey if you prefer.

GOOD EATS and an easy all-in-one healthy and hearty breakfast! Enjoy!

Java Chip Protein Frappuccino

Ok, Starbucks, MOVE OVA! This protein shake takes the cake! This is a bit of a treat; but, who doesn't deserve a little reward every now and then?

2 scoops protein powder of choice
1/4 c. coffee
1/4 c. almond milk
1/4 c. crushed ice
a handful of dark chocolate chips
1 tblsp. ff cool whip (optional)

Blend up the protein powder, ice, almond milk, coffee and chocolate chips. Top with cool whip, drop in a straw and enjoy!


PB Chip Protein Cookies!!

Everyone needs an indulgence every once in a while and judging from my aforementioned blog, healthy alternatives to these indulgences are vital. I've spent some time researching some recipes and this is an adaptation of one of my favorite cookie recipes of all-time.

PB Chip Protein Cookies

1 c. Whole wheat flour
1 c. Whey Protein powder (chocolate is my preference)
1 c. Oats
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt
3/4 c. Apple Sauce OR canola oil (depends on preference, apple sauce is lower in calories)
3/4 c. Natural Chunky PB
1 c. Stevia
2 tbslps. Honey
1/2 c. Almond milk
2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Toss together dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl. Mix dry with wet ingredients and add chocolate chips if desired.

Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and place in small dollops on sheet.

Bake for 8-10 min at 350 degrees F.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Post-Show WOAH

The self-tanner has faded, the manicure is beginning to chip and the elusive carved abs are all but a distant memory. And for all the warnings, jokes and tongue-in-cheek references my coaches and veteran friend competitors made to the "post-show blues," NOTHING could have prepared me for this.

Like most fitness and physique athletes, I consider myself to be beyond the definition of a Type A personality. I grew up a perfectionist, never feeling like my efforts were enough...I never felt pretty or smart or fit enough for all of the activities in my life or in comparison to my friends. To top it off, I'm a Virgo and a first-born, can we say, "tightly wound?"

My parents are two of the hardest working people I know and they taught my brother and I that hard work was what it's all about. That we could achieve anything if we were willing to work harder than everyone else. They also held us to a higher standard and taught us that this was the way to be successful in life. One family rule was that we were not allowed to play sports if we did not make the honor roll. Well, unbeknownst to my parents, I set a standard that I wouldn't be happy with myself if I didn't get on the HIGH honor roll on every report card. That was the kind of pressure I regularly put on myself in all areas of my life.

I was the kid that played elite soccer on 3 teams because I was going to get a scholarship to play soccer in college, I had made up my mind to this fact and failure was not an option. When my doctor diagnosed me with "exercise induced asthma" at age 13 I told him my breathing challenges were simply because I was not "fit" enough and had to work harder. I didn't need need any silly inhalers, I needed more sprints.

Growing up, I thought I was fat and had to train harder. I would go to the field by myself and practice long balls and sprint after the ball after every kick for hours. Needless to say, I was the best free kick specialist on most of my teams all my life; but, spent a great deal of time in a silent hell of dissatisfaction with nearly everything I accomplished...somehow, it was never enough.

I grew up constantly and silently berating myself, feeling guilt for not training hard enough or for eating something I shouldn't have. Those people close to me would get a glimpse of this at times and would ask my why I was so hard on myself. I never seemed to have an answer for them. I just had something inside of me, I just couldn't let myself relax or give myself a break. God no, that would mean I was being lazy or not working hard enough towards my goals, that was the reason I was fat after all...

Entering into the world of fitness seemed like the perfect "fix" for me a year ago. I could get my body in the best shape ever and follow a regimen that would be 100% fool-proof as long as I put in the work, something I knew I could do.

The part I didn't think about was what happens when the excitement of the show countdown is over? What happens when everything you eat post-show makes you feel sick? What happens when ALL you can think about is cake?

I didn't have answers to any those questions. And right now, I'm a week and a half out from my first competition feeling like a bloated mess. My body wants to train and actually has the energy and strength to do so now; but my mind is a disaster. I've sabotaged myself with mindless binges almost daily since my competition. I actually ate an entire bag of chocolate mini rice cakes last week...and then 3 cupcakes the next night and the other cheats have all become somewhat of a blur. I've eaten things til I felt so sick I could barely move. I am certainly not proud...I am definitely ashamed...and yet, this is so wildly uncharacteristic of me it's disturbing. I was so incredibly disciplined, I can honestly say that leading in to my show, I did not cheat once. I did not miss one workout and I was on split sessions most days. It was just non-negotiable.

Last night, like a crazy person, I was talking to myself as I lay in bed feeling sick to my stomach. My voice was that of my body, speaking to me saying, "I did everything you asked. I never gave up. I ate FISH for a week and got up at 4:30 am everyday to get to the gym. I fought so hard for that goal and now you're abusing me like this. How could you do this to me?" If anyone had heard me, they would have thought I had completely lost it, you may be thinking the same thing reading this, unless you've gone through this experience yourself.

They say it gets easier over time and yes, slowly, it is getting better. Three out of 5 meals make me nauseous now, instead of all 5. I'm integrating the proper number of fruits and starches back into my diet and I'm drinking more water again. I'm sleeping better and enjoying that my diet can include things like dairy again. I have to accept that I have gained some weight back and I have to be OK with that..somehow. I need to give myself a break, for the FIRST time in my life, and accept that I'm not perfect...whatever the heck "perfect" really means anyway. I need to know that it's OK to feel a little crazy during this time. That as long as I get to the gym and follow the "80/20 rule" everything will work itself out (though I'd rather it be 90/10).

All that said, NOTHING about this is easy.

This post-show stuff is no joke. If you're a newbie, stay close to your coaches and your fitness friends as you come off the competition "high." Don't go it alone and for God's sakes...stay busy. Know your personality to ward off danger zone behaviors (i.e wandering a grocery store alone) and have an accountability buddy that loves you that will help you through without judging.

Everything will be OK and you are just as fabulous today as you were on the day of your competition (Yes, I'm still convincing myself of this fact, which is one of those most important parts of my evolutionary process). Don't lose sight of that or the reason you chose to compete in the first place. It's all part of this beautiful and crazy journey called LIFE! Loving yourself unconditionally on the good and bad days is really what it's about, after all is said and done.

Stay strong ladies! xoxo


Time flies...

I haven't written in what seems like forever! To be completely honest, I literally didn't have the brain power or energy to write a blog post in the midst of my training leading up to my competition. It took all the strength I had to stick to my diet and workout regimen.

I competed in the Fitness New England pageant on April 30th in figure and bikini. It was revolutionary and a HUGE moment for me. I didn't place; but, that was not the reason in which I began this journey. While winning would have been grand, a plastic trophy couldn't replace the feelings of victory I garnered from this experience. Of course there were some pretty significant moments of self-doubt and angst; but, when I got on that stage, I was proud. I was 100% proud to be me in the body that I've worked so hard for. All told I dropped 20 lbs and 2 sizes and got my body in shape enough to compete in figure! This was my ultimate goal and I was so scared I would get up there and look like a "bikini girl" trying to do figure. Not to take ANYTHING away from the beautiful bikini competitors; but, there is a certain shape the figure girls have and I just wanted so badly to look like I belonged on that stage with them. And at the end of the day, I wasn't lean enough to be competitive; but, that really didn't matter...in 5 months time, I went from having a regular old back to one that I am really damn proud of. I put on that TINY bathing suit (complete with double-sided carpet tape to keep it in place) and strutted my stuff on stage in front of hundreds of people, including those watching it live streaming online and I felt confident. At that point, I didn't really even care what the judges thought, because I knew my coaches and my friends and my family that had been there every step of the way through my journey were beaming with pride. They knew what my battle had been all about and they knew that this was a huge milestone for me. The girl that wouldn't work out in a tank top, let along walk on stage in a bikini...was doing it and smiling and glowing. It was incredible.

There is SO much more to talk about...everything from the emotional roller coaster ride that was prepping for the competition, which entailed a myriad of new experiences...everything from waxing...to applying 10 coats of fake tanner...to eating dry tilapia and asparagus from plastic bags for 2 days straight(woof)! Good gracious was it a trip! It's hard to believe it's all over; but, it's even harder to believe that I did all of that...I really never thought I would be able to do it and I did...with flying colors...I did not cheat one time...and I didn't miss one workout...I wanted to achieve the goal so badly I was willing to do whatever it took so there would be no looking back. No regrets.

Here are some pics that show my progress:

BEFORE (December 2010):

AFTER (April 2011):

Check out this video of the Figure Tall Lineup, I'm the last one on the left:

I will post more tales of my first REAL competition soon...stay tuned my friends!