There are several great benefits to drinking coconut water. I want to share with you why I personally choose this beverage, almost daily. Coconut water is full of potassium, an electrolyte that has numerous jobs. It helps conduct nerve impulses and muscle contractions and regulates the flow of fluids and nutrients in and out of the body’s cells. While these alone are great benefits, potassium isn’t typically the mineral that is depleted during a workout though, it’s sodium. So, while coconut water is loaded with potassium, and many more essential micronutrients, I choose it surrounding my workout, specifically, for its primary macronutrient, carbs. One cup of coconut water contains 15 grams of sugar. While I prefer to do HIIT training on an empty stomach, I like to consume both carbs and protein before and after my weight training workouts. Many refer to this time frame as the “window of opportunity.” It is during your workout and just after, that blood flow to the skeletal muscle increases. Because of the increased blood flow, the muscle is primed to accept nutrients. Once these nutrients are accepted they immediately stimulate muscle repair, strength, and growth. It is because of this “window of opportunity,” I like to have nutrients there, ready and available. But why coconut water, specifically? For one, I train early in the day, and I can’t force a solid meal down my throat that early. Second, I want the energy supply and nutrients there immediately, but I don’t want to feel it in my belly while lifting, so consuming a liquid form of nutrition that contains rapidly digesting carbohydrates and protein is best (for me). I could just as easily opt to mix my protein with water and consume a handful of sour patch kids for my fast-absorbing carb source (the macros are exactly the same as coconut water), however, if I chose the second option, I would be missing out on all of the amazing micronutrients and their amazing benefits. The importance of nerve impulses and muscle contractions when it comes to Weightlifting is crucial. Every explosive movement begins with firing up your Central Nervous System, which then allows you to transfer power from your core to your extremities. Without the body’s ability to execute these impulses correctly, you can’t possibly find your greatest maximum power output.
I wanted to share with you all my most recent “personal journey,” 100 days of Yoga. I did something similar in the past that I referred to as 100 days of happiness. When I began 100 days of happiness, I began a gratitude journal. Journaling every morning is something that has completely shifted my mindset and created great change in my life. Now, I cannot imagine beginning my day any other way. As of recent I have been thinking, “what else can I incorporate into my wellness journey that can cultivate rewarding benefits?” Well, I have decided to see if yoga may just be that answer. I have incorporated yoga off and on over the last year, but by no means has it been practiced consistently (even when I had the greatest of intentions). This time around incorporating a session every day will be a priority.
If you know me at all, you know that I love Science, so I read several scholarly journals supporting the benefits of yoga based on multiple studies. To begin, I immediately went for the articles regarding yoga and its benefits for greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness, but then my mind was blown away with all of the benefits in so many other aspects of life. I really didn’t know much about yoga. I knew that it was great for flexibility and I was aware of the strength it requires but other than that I have never expanded my mind and read about its many benefits. I won’t go into the details here but I encourage you all to read about its benefits (those far beyond the mat). Encouraged after all of my findings, I decided to add another 100-day journey to my list, and I am stoked to get started!
As far as where and when I will practice, it will be varied depending on scheduling. I have followed along with friends using apps and YouTube, which have been great previously at being descriptive and easy to follow, but having an instructor in a classroom ensures expert guidance. I have several friends here in Vegas that teach so a good mix of both is the plan- whenever I can get it in.
Today, being that it is the beginning of a new month, marked day number 1. I followed along with a beginners yoga video from Youtube this evening with basic (and familiar) movements that allowed for an easy and relaxing introduction to my journey. After, I worked on inversions. Headstands and handstands have been something that I have incorporated into my training since my CrossFit days first began. I love being inverted and overhead strength and mobility have always been my strong point, but I can’t handstand walk to save my life, a fear I really need to work out!
I find when I incorporate yoga, mobility sessions, lengthier warm-ups, and make more time for recovery, my body appreciates the dedication, and less pain is the reward. It seems so basic, right? And really, it is. It doesn’t require science to understand the why’s, but it does require taking action and putting in the effort.
Follow along as I journey 100 days in search of another amazing shift in my life.
If you are new here, hello and welcome! Thanks for stopping in! Please check out my “about me” heading to grab a quick introduction.
Now, let’s fast forward 100 days and see how it all went! You can head over to my Instagram and view all 100 days in my stories!
To start, I began this journey with hopes that practicing yoga could help relieve the lingering back pain and elbow pain that I have had off and on for several years now. In the beginning, however, I found that my elbow would flare up when practicing, and my wrists would take a beating too- honestly, it was really frustrating. But, within 15 days or so, I found that my wrists were feeling stronger and my elbow pain was becoming less and less, not only on the mat but when lifting weights too. Soon after, I realized I was no longer thinking of the pain in my elbow, or how weight-bearing I felt on my wrists, but rather began focusing on two key points: mindfulness and the breath.
My understanding when reading into the practice was, in yoga, “the breath does the work for you.” That’s because getting fresh oxygen into your blood while moving through the poses allows you to cleanse the body, loosen tension, and experience its full benefits. Deep breathing requires mindfulness and concentration, which I found myself practicing beyond the mat. It’s easy to let our mind wander when completing less technical movements like walking or running, but yoga requires paying attention to your breath and constant refining of your movements. The same goes for our day to day tasks, we often get caught up in our routines and simply roll through the day without truly being present. In yoga when my mind began to wander I would bring my eyes back to a focal point and bring my attention back to my breath. On day sixty-three, I realized I had yet to have an entire session where I didn’t have to bring awareness back to my breath or use a focal point to still my mind. I never did make it an entire session without having to remind myself at least once to, focus, but by the end, I found that I could bring awareness back relatively quickly. Being aware and present was something I found I was applying to all parts of my day. My mindless strolls in the morning with Jack (my doodle), shifted from a “mind-full” stroll to a “mindful” stroll. I found myself paying attention to the colors of the leaves on the trees, and listening to the sounds of birds chirping, as opposed to the chaos in my head regarding the day ahead. It’s astonishing at how you recognize great moments in the day when you are truly present and aware. Not only do I recognize more moments of happiness throughout the day, but I find happiness in the smallest things.
At the end of my 100-day journey, the lingering elbow and back pain had subsided tremendously! I began seeing improvements in my lifts and less inflammation and aggravation following training sessions overall. If that weren’t enough, the rewards that have stemmed from simply being more present and aware have (once again), yielded life-changing practices.
While I cannot incorporate both yoga and Weightlifting every day, I plan to keep yoga as a staple in my training at least 3X each week.
I would like to close this entry with a big thank you to my friend, Amanda Sides.
Amanda is a fellow coach and yoga teacher, and because of her great range of content available on YouTube, I was able to follow along seamlessly as I progressed. Below I have shared links to three of her beginner yoga videos, and here you can find the other 10. This is the perfect 13-day series when beginning your very own yoga journey! I hope I have encouraged you all to give it a go!
Beginner Yoga 1: Get Going!
Beginner Yoga 2: Just Breathe
Beginner Yoga 3: Calm
As always, thank you for taking the time to read anything I have to say.
Well, it’s been 8-weeks since I checked in with you all, and the F45 8-Week Challenge has officially wrapped! In celebration, I met up with everyone for kickball in the park yesterday. It was such a beautiful day and we couldn’t have had more fun! I will brag about our team winning because let me tell you, it was a hell of a game and we earned bragging rights! What made the day even greater, my 8-week challenge team won as well!! My team brought it throughout this challenge! Every single person that participated felt they had made great improvements in their fitness, and gained a better understanding of nutrition, so win-win!
Personally, I feel I met some goals with this challenge as well. I challenged myself, in the beginning, to make it a point to work out more alongside my teammates, as opposed to getting my workout in solo before or after coaching. This approach not only helped me build better personal relationships with my teammates, but with all of the gym members. Another bonus, all of the extra intensity brought to each workout because of contagious energy from my mates, I dropped a few LB’s as well. Another successful F45 Challenge!
Hey guys! The F45 8-Week Challenge is back! Our gym decided to shake things up this time around and create challenge teams, so I volunteered to lead one of the teams, which should be a great deal of fun!
Since coming back from vacation (a good two months now), my workouts have been on point. Clarissa and I are still smashing CrossFit Metcons, following program, and hitting up several F45 sessions each week. My back pain and elbow pain still flare up a good bit, so weights at times are kept a bit lower, but the intensity is always there. While my nutrition has been fairly clean, the weekends have been quite the free for all, so leading this team is great motivation to maybe dial it in a bit more, and attend more classes alongside my team members.
Monday began day 1. While this 8-weeks isn’t all about weight loss for me, I want to share with you all where I am currently in terms of body fat and aesthetics.
I am currently sitting at 19.7% body fat. Tell the old me these numbers and I might just have a mini-meltdown; however, nowadays I am not so much caught up in the “totals.” While I do have a little layer of cushion going on, I still feel good. I look in the mirror and I am absolutely okay with what I see. We are only halfway through summer though, so if leaning out a bit more over the next 8-weeks is the reward of leading a team, I can handle shedding a couple of lbs.
The F45 Challenge offers an incredible meal plan with calorie suggestions; however, I will continue with what I know works best for me. Not a whole lot will change with my diet. I am using this challenge as more of a platform to build greater relationships, but it does help create more mindful eating patterns for yourself when those around you are being a bit more strict.
Below I have given a rundown of what a typical day for me regarding nutrition looks like. My breakfast is fairly consistent right now: shredded potatoes mixed with riced cauliflower and bell peppers, a side of egg beaters topped with avocado and hot sauce, and a green smoothie.
For my smoothie, I use almond milk, yogurt, spinach, and Super Greens (usually whatever I have on hand, or add in extra leafy greens) on non-training days, and opt for coconut water instead of almond milk on non-training days. The challenge calls for no caffeine the first 2-weeks, but for me, cutting back to 1 cup with breakfast is great progress!
Lunch is typically 1-2 vegetables mixed with a starchier carb, a lean protein source, and a healthy fat.
Dinner is usually determined by lunch. If I have fish for lunch then I will skip the salmon and opt for eggs or edamame. If I have potatoes for lunch I will have rice instead (or vise versa), and fats almost always come from oil for sautéing.
As for snacks, I have 1-2 green smoothies a day. I have one with breakfast and another scattered throughout the day that includes protein powder. If it’s a training day, I will include BCAA’s, coconut water, and tropical fruit.
Thanks so much for taking the time to stop in. I invite you to subscribe and follow along throughout my wellness journey.
Hey guys! I want to address some questions that I frequently get asked regarding my vegetarian journey.
Do you eat any meat at all? What type of vegetarian are you?
Technically speaking (giggles), I am considered to be a Lacto-Ovo-pescatarian. That’s a mouthful, and that is why I just deem myself “vegetarian” unless someone wants specifics. This means that I eat some dairy (yogurt, cheese, and the occasional chocolate milk following a workout), eggs, and fish.
How long have you been a vegetarian?
It’s been a fairly slow and steady process over the last few years. I cut out red meat and pork a couple of years ago, and I decided to cut out all other forms of meat 13 months ago.
Do you ever want to eat meat? Have you had any slip-ups or “surprise” meat dishes?
I have had chicken probably a total of 5 times over the last year. This was by choice, and not necessarily because I had a “meat craving,” but because my body felt extremely fatigued, and I was having excessive bruising. This led me to believe that I was lacking in iron, and unfortunately, spinach, seeds, and lentils (typically good sources of iron), weren’t doing the trick. I found, however, I didn’t enjoy the texture or the flavor of chicken once re-introduced. I did have a huge craving for red meat just about a month ago. I actually planned on eating a Five Guys burger for my birthday when on vacation but ended up passing.
Why did you decide to become a vegetarian?
I think people often assume it has to do with a love of animals. Don’t get me wrong, if I had a pasture of cows, or a yard full of chickens, I probably couldn’t feed them, see them every day, and then turn around and serve them up for dinner; however, cruelty to animals wasn’t my first concern. It simply comes down to, after years of studying nutrition, it makes sense to me why it is deemed the healthiest diet.
Do you think that a vegetarian diet would work well for everyone?
You have to ask yourself the most important question when it comes to determining if this lifestyle would work for you, “do you love vegetables?” I mean really. love. vegetables. If you would have asked me this question 7 or 8 years ago my answer would have been completely different than what it is now. Personally, yes, I love vegetables! I mean I really. love. vegetables: broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, carrots, sprouts, asparagus, peppers, and the list goes on. All of it. I love all of it. I think people often get the misconception that vegetarians fill up on carbs in the forms of bread, fruits, and pasta. While yes, I do occasionally include these within my meals, people often take for granted that vegetables are carbs too.
What are your forms of protein? Do you find it hard to get in enough protein?
I mostly rely on eggs and fish, and I supplement with protein powder. I eat eggs almost every day, and I allow for salmon about three times a week. I eat a lot of rice and beans, which make for a complete, well-rounded protein. Many vegetables contain a lot of protein as well. If I were under the age of 30 I wouldn’t worry so much with adding in additional protein, but now that I am at an age where protein intake is extremely important, I typically have 1-2 protein shakes per day.
Do you find that you get bored with a vegetarian diet?
In fact, for me, it’s the complete opposite. I feel that my choices are endless; however, this leads back to the fact that I love vegetables.
Do you eat Tofu, veggie burgers, and imitation meat products?
I will occasionally eat Tofu if I order out, but I haven’t mastered cooking it myself quite yet. I recently saved some recipes on Pinterest for the air fryer, so fingers crossed I can find some tasty methods. I love Veggie Burgers! When I first transitioned into this way of eating, I did find myself eating frozen veggie patties, imitation chicken, and soy burgers all of the time; however, over the last few months, I try to limit the processed plant-based foods to one meal a day.
Is it hard to find vegetarian options when eating out?
Luckily, I live in Las Vegas where healthier options are available, compared to other locations across the map (for instance when I headed down south to Alabama). Dine-in restaurants sometimes offer some sort of vegetarian option, but I can almost always create a vegetable plate out of a menu’s side options. Unfortunately, fast food is where it gets tricky. A non-vegetarian diet is a bit easier for fast food. You can almost always find a grilled chicken sandwich on the menu, but a veggie burger isn’t usually an option. A lot of fast food joints offer salads, but more often than not, they are made up of Iceberg lettuce, and (if you’re lucky) will have a couple of grape tomatoes and a cucumber slice. Not my idea of a complete, well-balanced meal.
Is it hard to go to social gatherings that include eating or pot-lucks?
It can be, sure. I will usually take something that I feel everyone will like as well, but also something that I know I can depend on if there aren’t more options. You can almost always count on someone bringing a veggie tray or a fruit tray. Bottom line, this is a way of life that I have adopted and it works well for me. I am not the type of person that will put a damper on someone else’s plans because the menu doesn’t cater to my lifestyle. I really enjoy the foods that I eat. I feel satisfied, I feel adequately fueled, and I feel better than I have ever felt. Will I follow this approach to eating forever? I don’t know. It works well for me now and that’s what I have to go by.
Thanks for stopping in! If you have some banging veggie recipes, feel free to shoot them my way!
Hey guys! Today marks one week since being back from vacation, which means my summer shredding series has officially wrapped! I wanted to share with you all what our cross country road trip looked like: the foods, the workouts, and the indulgences.
One can only eat so healthy while on the road without packing a lunchbox of prepped meals. Here are a few snips of some of the on-the-go snacks I had on our drive.
While I was never a big fan of Subway when I was a meat-eater, I’ve found that since turning to more of a plant-based diet, I do occasionally enjoy a good veggie sub; fortunately, there are more subway restaurants attached to gas stations than any other on-the-go eatery. Needless to say, Subway was my go-to. I took along a bag of corn tortillas as well and would eat half of the sub on bread, then toss the bread and opt for tortillas for the other half.
Finally, after driving 2000 miles, we found our way to the beach.
I always get asked what I drink when I have a night out. In this case, a day out. Seeing that we were at the beach, I did indulge in a skinny margarita that paired perfectly with my Mahi tacos (minus the tortillas and rice). Typically, I only drink vodka and soda or Prosecco, but when at the beach, one must indulge a bit.
The highlight of our trip to Florida was definitely seeing my “wingman.” She and I trained together religiously before Wes and I moved to Korea. She recently began coaching as well, and while I would have loved to have taken her class, Florida was all about chilling and celebrating my birthday!
Here we are the day after my birthday. I ate anything my heart desired! I began the day with biscuits and gravy from IHop, had a mega burrito from Tijuana Flats for lunch, and almost an entire pizza for dinner (not to mention the birthday drinks). Hey, it’s only your birthday once a year, indulge a little!
After Florida, we made our way north to Alabama to see my family. Although it rained literally the entire visit, it was nice to have some downtime. My favorite part of visiting home is sitting around the kitchen table with my mom. We will drink coffee and kiki for hours and hours. They finally got to meet Jack, and of course, they were obsessed with our little muppet.
Immediately upon waking our first day in Bama, I found a gym and got a pass for the week. Every morning began with a quick 30:00 workout, followed by 20:00 on the treadmill.
While we did eat out almost every evening, my cravings for anything salty and processed (after my birthday splurge), had almost completely subsided. I was eager to get back on track. Our first night out, we went to a local diner and I had a loaded veggie plate, sweet potatoes, broccoli, okra, and a side salad. The following morning we went to breakfast and I had eggs, grits, and potatoes. For dinner, we had Ruby Tuesdays salad bar. It’s all about balance when on vacation. You should be mindful of your choices for most meals, but allow yourself to enjoy some added extras (like the white chocolate Oreos my mom always has waiting for me in the freezer).
After a few days in Bama, we continued north to Indiana. We had a couple of nights out, and I stuck to vodka and soda for my drink, and although we ate out for every meal, we had plenty healthy options.
I didn’t go to the gym while in Indy, but I did manage to go for a run every morning and squeeze in some yoga.
Throughout our trip, I was somewhat stressed regarding the fact that we were driving back cross country, and I had to be back to coaching immediately upon arrival. My sweet husband bought me a plane ticket to fly home so I could have a couple of days to recover before returning to work, which left him driving back solo cross-country with Jack O’doodle.
While walking through the airport I was trying to decide what to eat when I stumbled upon the Farmers Fridge. Is this for real? Can I really get a salad loaded with chickpeas, grapes, apples, cashews, and avocados from a vending machine, and it is fresh and crisp?! Oh my God, yes, please! It was absolutely delish!
I had a straight flight back to Vegas and landed just after midnight. And just like that, vacation is over, that’s a wrap. While my physique was nowhere near what it is when competing (nor was that the goal), I was happy with the results from my mini-cut. I think to feel comfortable in a bikini and walk the beach with confidence is a great feeling for any woman.
Thank you all for following along throughout this series.
Good evening guys and happy Sunday!! I hope you all have had an incredible weekend! Mine was low key and mostly spent at home, and that is okay with me!
I am going to dive right into today’s blog topic, which refers to something that I get asked about a lot…a typical day of eating.
To begin, I am an early riser. I am up by 3am (4 at the latest), and begin my morning with about 16 ounces of water. Most of us are dehydrated upon waking, so immediately downing some water kickstarts hydration, digestion, and coats the belly for the oh-so acidic black coffee that usually comes next. I like to get in a sweat first thing, so I either hop on the elliptical at my house or if time permits and I want added intensity, I will head to the gym just down the road and sweat it out on the stair mill. Although I take in BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) while completing my cardio, by the time I am finished, I’m ravished. Breakfast for me at the moment is either oatmeal and egg whites topped with Texas Pete (the best hot sauce ever), or riced cauliflower mixed with shredded potatoes, bell peppers and egg whites with a side of fruit, or I opt for a protein shake made with coconut water if its close to my workout time.
Three days a week I coach the early classes at F45, which leaves me getting ready and heading out immediately after breakfast. When coaching in the am I typically cover three classes, and am done by 9:00. My calorie expenditure is always at least 200 cals per class, so by the end, I am more than ready for meal two. I try my best to have something prepped and waiting for me at home or I mix up my daily green smoothie while I fix up something. A typical lunch for me includes 1-2 veggies of some sort (the last two weeks has been broccoli and red potatoes), a protein source (a veggie patty or egg whites), and fat (almost always avocado or oil).
Once my lunch settles, the pup and I will take our am neighborhood stroll. Our walks are divided into two sessions now that it’s getting warm, so we’re back home within 15 minutes. I use the next couple of hours of the day to take care of my “to-do’s.” By noon I’m munching on my pre-workout snack if I haven’t lifted yet, which almost always includes some sort of fruit, whether it be on top of oats, yogurt, or mixed within a smoothie.
On a typical training day, I’ll spend about 60 to 90 minutes in the gym depending on my programming. I try to make certain that I eat within 1 hour of my weight training (for optimal recovery). My post-workout meal always consists of a faster absorbing carb and a protein. Protein pancakes with fruit has been a recent favorite!
If most of you are like me, I find that I have a good amount of energy for a couple of hours following my workout. After my post-workout meal Jack and I will either take another short stroll or take it to the backyard for a few minutes of playtime. My afternoons are spent completing client check-ins, studying, or taking care of things around the house. I go to bed fairly early, so I am usually prepping dinner around 4 or 5. I find (like most), I am much hungrier in the evening. In order to feel completely satisfied, I load up on fibrous veggies: broccoli, okra, eggplant, green beans, zucchini, and cauliflower are my usual go-to’s.