Monday marked 20 days until 2022, which also meant it was check-in day. I weighed in at 146 pounds, 1-pound shy of reaching a 10-pound loss. Next Wednesday will be my final check in before Christmas, a total of 6-weeks following a caloric deficit.
While I could continue with my cut over the holidays, enjoying time with my family without worrying about tracking meals takes priority. Instead, I plan to follow maintenance calories for about 10 days (until January 1st). Being in maintenance doesn’t mean a free-for-all, it simply means continuing to implement lots of nutrient dense foods (like fruits and vegetables), larger serving sizes, and allowing for an occasional dessert or extra side of potato chips, all the while still remaining at the current weight.
Not only does this approach allow me to enjoy the holidays without feeling as restricted, I also believe it to be extremely beneficial for the metabolism as well. When I head into maintenance (aka “a diet break”) it will be after following a caloric deficit for 6-weeks that has yielded on average a 2-pound decrease every 10 days. In order to keep these results consistent over another 6-weeks I would most likely end up having to create a greater deficit in my calories. Reason being, that regularly eating fewer calories than your body needs can cause the metabolism to slow down. So instead, I will increase my calories over the next week and half (putting me in maintenance), and then on January 1st when I go into the 2nd phase of my cut, I can begin by decreasing my calories to where they were for this last 6-weeks instead of taking them lower. I hope this makes sense and helps put things in perspective.
Another reason that I find maintenance periods/diet breaks to be beneficial, tracking calories and/or macros can be especially mentally taxing, and for the newer tracker, completely overwhelming and exhausting. Taking these periodic breaks allows an individual to commit to a longer program while learning to implement maintenance calories around routined life events, like the upcoming holidays, or birthdays, and vacations. Breaks allow a person to feel in control, because they are in control. It is a scheduled break, and it too is part of the program. It is important to remember that while trying to reach a desired size or reach certain goals, real life events continue to occur.
Finally, in my personal and professional opinion, the number one, most important reason for implementing maintenance periods/diet breaks, it helps get a person into a mindset of what maintaining their weight will feel like when they finally reach their goal weight. This transition can be tricky for anyone that has been dieting for long-extended periods of time. There is almost always the fear of not being able to adjust to eating “normally” again, but when a person takes time to incorporate these breaks periodically, one can see that their weight can hold steady while enjoying and living life, normally.
Is it just me, or has this year truly flown by?! I cannot believe that January 1, 2022 is only 30 days away!! This also means that it’s check-in day!
I have to admit that heading into this day, I didn’t expect much progress (luckily, consistency paid off). I took off and headed to Bama to spend time with my family for Thanksgiving, and we all know how the holidays can be. They tend to cause some disruption to our routines, which then often result in overeating and/or skipping workouts. Because I know these things, I tried to lean into the week being somewhat prepared. I planned my stops along the drive and worked in some egg white bites from Starbucks, along with a protein shake and pre-made green smoothie for lunch. I also packed a bag of food to take with me which included quick oats, 90-second rice packs, protein powder for shakes, Pop Corner chips, avocados, mixed nuts, and canned tuna. I also took a cold pack that included pre-made smoothies for the week.
While I did stick to my macros most of the time while away, I did allow myself anything my heart desired on Thanksgiving Day. I even had a piece of my mama’s butter-gooey cake that I simply cannot resist. My mama and step-dad don’t drink, so choosing a dessert over wine wasn’t a dilemma (just as I tell my clients, it’s best to choose one over the over).
Typically, when at home, I eat about 5-6 times each day. When away, I will usually have 3-4 larger meals which prevents so much time spent in the kitchen, and allows me a bit more flexibility. There is no right or wrong approach to how how many meals a person should consume each day, it all comes down to one’s schedule and preferences. For example, I typically opt for meals that consist of about 300-350 calories (give or take a bit) that are extremely nutrient dense, meaning meals that are lower in calories, but full of vitamins and minerals (for example, lots of vegetables, extra lean proteins, and healthy fats), where as when away from home and dining out more often, I will choose heartier meals made up of around 500-600 calories, that may be not so nutrient dense, like a beef burger and a potato. This approach allows me to go out to dinner with family and friends and choose a satisfying meal that will still accommodate my caloric and macro totals.
While on the subject of macros and meal flexibility, I want to offer some helpful information. The terms “flexible dieting” and “if it fits your macros” are things people often hear when looking to lose weight (or gain muscle, etc.). Unfortunately, there is a lot of information floating around on the web that can cause confusion and uncertainty.
Counting macros (macronutrients) means that a person has a set amount of carbs, protein and fat to consume each day. Macros are determined by what your body needs to support essential bodily functions. The reason for this approach is because some people tend to eat a lot more of one macronutrient, and not enough of another. Macro counting ensures that you consume the recommended balance of all three macros to accommodate your goals and daily activity. The “if it fits your macros” rule is simply that the foods you eat must fit within your macros, no foods are off limits. In other words, it doesn’t matter where those grams of carbohydrates, fat, or protein are coming from, as long as they add up to your recommended total grams by the end of the day. This is why flexible dieting is so appealing, you are free to eat whatever foods you like as long as they fit into your daily macronutrient totals, no matter if those foods are broccoli or bacon.
Unfortunately, when using this flexible approach, many people don’t take into consideration the healthfulness of a food, or important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. So although it may result in weight loss for some, it can still be an unhealthy diet if followers choose highly processed foods over whole foods that offer more nutrition. For example, majority of your fat grams may be coming from animal sources such as cheese and meats (saturated fats) rather than foods rich in healthy fats such as avocados or nuts which provide nutrients like Omega-3s, fiber, and potassium. By solely counting macros, you may have inadequate consumption of several essential vitamins and minerals, which can ultimately lead to deficiencies, and/or other health problems. It’s important to remember that not all calories are created equal: 400 calories of bacon does not provide the same nutrients or volume of food as 400 calories of salmon mixed with vegetables, which means you may need much more food to feel satisfied. When it comes to health, food quality truly matters. A diet that provides a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fats is a better choice nutritionally than fried or junk foods…even if they fit your macros. While macro counting does provide benefits, solely focusing on macros may overshadow the most important aspect of nutrition – nourishment.
Secondly, while macro counting provides awareness to how much you’re eating, the constant measuring and tracking may create some excessively strict habits, and could even promote disordered eating for some. You may not feel comfortable eating out at restaurants with friends or family over the holidays if you’re constantly worried about how you’re going to measure your food or know the macronutrient breakdown of a meal. If you are mentally preoccupied with dietary choices, to the point it’s negatively impacting your mental health, social life, and relationships, this ‘healthy way of eating’ is no longer healthy. You may also feel guilty if you don’t hit your macro goals for the day, creating more restrictions the following day. This unnecessary guilt that comes from food choices will impact you more psychologically than it will physically. Believe me, I know!
Ultimately, counting macros absolutely works for some people, it provides structure in eating specific amounts and it’s a helpful method when trying to understand portion sizes and the makeup of meals. However, proper nutrition also needs to embrace nourishment, and extends far beyond just macronutrient distribution. You can be hitting your macro numbers every single day, but that doesn’t equate to health.
So, in closing, flexible dieting and macro-counting can absolutely be a wonderful approach, and one I typically go-to when helping clients understand portion sizes and what macro percentages best accommodate their lifestyle and activity level, but ultimately, first and foremost over anything else, the foods you eat and what their made of is far more important than how much you eat. For optimal health both mentally and physically, it is best to look at the whole picture beyond just macros; finding a balance that allows you to consume foods you enjoy while emphasizing healthy meal patterns. Before jumping into any approach, it is best to work with an educated nutritionist who can guide you along your nutrition journey to help you develop the best plan that will allow you to meet your goals while taking into consideration your nutritional needs. Find someone that will create for you a nutrient dense meal plan that will accommodate your needs specifically, making certain that you are getting adequate vitamin and mineral intake, all the while, still encouraging dinners out with family and friends.
Saturday marked 40 days until 2022, which also meant it was check-in day. I weighed in at 152 pounds, 3 pounds less than my starting weight of 155, with an overall loss of 2 inches.
The progress made this week was the result of consistency. Personally, I find that I have the best results when I create a structured routine that allows me to remain persistent day after day.
How does someone create a consistent routine that allows them to remain focused? You plan out your days in advance. I like to make time every Sunday to sit down with my planner and schedule out my week. Sure there are appointments or tasks that occasionally arise and throw things off a bit, but the general layout of the day allows me to get in the things that are considered most important to help me reach my goals.
For example, I know that my morning routine is extremely important in regards to how I begin each day. When I don’t make time in the morning to read and/or journal, perform my skincare routine, have a cup of coffee in silence with my thoughts, meditate and pray, then I feel as if my whole day is somewhat out of order. For someone else this may look completely different, but as long as you begin the day with something that allows you to get your head in the right place, the rest of the day seems to flow a bit smoother.
Also, I know from experience over the years that I workout best in the mornings when I have the most energy. I find that my mind is free of clutter so I can focus on the task at hand, whereas, if I workout in the afternoon I tend to fatigue quicker and my mind seems to wander a bit more through the scenarios of the day. Because I know this already, I make certain that I don’t schedule appointments until after my designated workout time, and this ensures that I get my workout in early in the day.
In regards to remaining consistent with my nutrition, again, it’s all about planning in advance. I make time 2 days each week to meal prep. I don’t necessarily create the entire meal at once (although that is a great approach too), but I do cook up proteins in advance, chop vegetables, make smoothies, and have a general idea of what I will be eating each day. This little bit of extra effort each week ensures that I stay on track by making things easier when it comes time to prep a meal.
In the end, not every day can be pre-planned and laid out exactly as you wish. For instance, Saturday some of our friends called and wanted to meet up for the day. We went to a little restaurant on the water and had a couple of cocktails and in the evening I had a slice of pizza. This wasn’t scheduled into my weekly planner, but I do allow myself some flexibility on the weekends so I can still enjoy the little things.
What about the holidays coming up, going out of town, being away from the gym, and sweet potato pie rearing is sugary head? You do the best you can, and just like anything else, you plan in advance. If I know I’m traveling and will be on the road for several hours, I pack a lunch and make certain that I have a few healthy snack options. I know from experience that the roads traveled from Florida to my mom’s in Alabama don’t offer the most nutritious stops along the way, and even the pit stops and convenient stores seem to cater to the obesity epidemic in America. I also write out workouts in advance that I can perform using only my bodyweight, or I pack a couple of bands and a set of dumbbells for some added resistance. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I will treat this day as if it were my flexible day. I will enjoy a serving of anything my heart desires, and then the next morning, I will fall right back into my normal routine.
Overall, the key is consistency. Often times, we will allow a small indulgence to turn into an all-weekend free for all, and this is particularly true this time of year. A reoccurring pattern that I have seen over time is people will get into a “screw it” mentality and overindulge all the way until the new year. The thought process is, “beginning January 1st I will hit it hard and get into a healthy routine.” This way of thinking almost always leads to weight gain, followed with over-restriction at the new year, and ultimately metabolic disturbances that prevent goals from ever being reached throughout the year.
If you can create consistency day after day, it will eventually become a habitual pattern that will overall lead to a more-balanced lifestyle. Ultimately, that’s what we should all be striving for (at least that has been my ultimate goal over the years), to create balance that allows me to enjoy some simple pleasures in life while still working on reaching my goals.
Hello friends and Happy New Year! While 2020 threw the entire world a curve ball with COVID-19, and most of us are eager for a fresh start in the new year, I have to say that 2020 was actually really good to me. Being in lockdown allowed me to slow down and focus on my ebook, a project that had been in the making for a while.
While in lockdown, I focused a great deal on creating habits and a daily routine. I am the type of person that relies on structure and without it, I am easily distracted. I knew that destructive behaviors such as endless social media scrolling, overeating, and binging on Netflix could possibly mean the return of some old bad habits, so I was determined to not let that happen.
Since I was no longer in the gym coaching, my 15,000 steps a day would be cut in half, so I knew this meant cutting my calories a bit, and adding in additional cardio throughout the day. I continued waking up before the sun, and made certain that a workout was the start to each day. After lunch I typically jumped on zoom and completed a HIIT session with some of my mates, and evening walks with Jack O’doodle after dinner ended each day.
Thankfully, grocery stores remained essential, so keeping stocked with fresh foods and keeping meals prepped was never a problem.
In the end, because of self-destructing behavior in my past, I knew that creating consistency and regular routines throughout quarantine was imperative. Establishing a plan and remaining persistent over lockdown enabled me to make some positive changes in my physique, and more importantly, allowed me to remain unwavering in my wellness journey.
Since pools and social festivities were put on hold this summer, I decided to begin my final bulk of the year a bit early. August 1st marked day 1, and I’ve been grinding hard over the last 25 weeks! I do believe this bulk has been my most successful to date, and I can’t wait to see what’s hiding under this current 150-LB frame!!
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 andjust 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 andprotein 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.
As always, this is something I have found over time that works well for me. On average, most individuals don’t work out long enough or hard enough to really even need an electrolyte replacement drink, so water is perfectly fine, but for those that train outdoors, or at a higher intensity for longer than 60:00, electrolyte replenishers are great additions. Do keep in mind though the mineral most depleted for athletes is sodium, so other sports recovery drinks may be a better fit for some. As you can see, I keep plenty of G2 on hand. I enjoy training in the heat, and I love to sweat, so I do occasionally supplement with a sports recovery drink, as well.
Hey guys! Here we are wrapping up week 4 of the F-45 Global Challenge!
I am currently sitting in the airport in Columbus, Ohio waiting to get back to Las Vegas. I have been in Ohio since Tuesday afternoon working with my fit fam, Gorilla Wear at the Arnold Sports Expo. While it was an absolute blast, I am more than ready to get back to my little doodle man (and of course my main man).
Tuesday began with meeting up with the team to get settled into our hotel. They originally had us an apartment rented for the week so we could all hang out together, but we were informed Monday morning that the apartment had an unexpected pipe burst, so we were relocated to the Hilton, downtown. The Hilton is one of the host hotels for the Expo so it actually worked out pretty well. The main thing that had us all a little aggravated was the fact we no longer had a kitchen to meal prep, which left us eating out every. single. meal. The breakfast buffet was actually re-vamped to cater to the Arnold and competitors so there was plenty of variety: eggs, egg whites, boiled eggs, steel-cut oats, greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts, potatoes, and grilled veggies. We began every morning with a group meet up at the buffet before heading to the venue. During the day we were all so busy that we didn’t have time to think about food. We kept a cooler on hand jam-packed with fruit, protein bars, sandwiches, and protein drinks for those quick few minutes throughout the day that we could squeeze something in, but for the most part, we saved our feast for the evening. We ended up eating at the same restaurant every evening (with the exception of one night). The restaurant was literally right next door to the venue, so it was perfect for our raging late-night appetites. The menu was pretty limited for a vegetarian diet, but they did have a veggie burger that was pretty scrumptious. This ended up being my go-to four out of five days. While yes, it was good, almost anything after a ten-hour day would have sufficed. I will say however, they had a Scottish Ale that surpassed just about any beer that I have ever had. By evening two, everyone at our table had tried it and made it part of their regular order. Is beer considered acceptable on the challenge menu?! Um, no. No, it is not. But after an eight to ten-hour fast each and every day and working my booty to the bone, I drank that beer along with my black bean burger without a single trace of guilt.
Expo days are insane, intense, exhausting and motivating all at the same time. It is so inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded individuals that share the same passions and desires. We had several Gorilla Wear athletes that made appearances: Erko Jun, Felice Herrig, and William Bonac .
While all three were super warm and welcoming to everyone that came to the meetups, Erko, has a presence that cannot be dismissed. He is an extremely funny guy, and after a couple of days, I have to say that I am a total Erko Jun fan!
I got to meet a handful of people that I had only interacted with through social media. Meeting Jordan Edwards was a huge highlight for me this weekend. I have followed her for the last couple of years and always flip to her Instagram when needing a good ab workout. I was walking from the restroom back to our booth and recognized her and her boyfriend, Steve walking towards my direction. I went up and introduced myself, and she just wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me big. She was (genuinely) so sweet. We spoke briefly about the industry, and of course, had to grab a quick pic to document my fan-girl moment.
I met the hilarious Jen Heward, aka @hunnybunsfit while roaming around and while we did get a selfie, her eyes were closed and I looked a mess after a 10 hour day, so we’ll just leave that one in the mysterious cloud. I caught glimpses of several influencers that I admire and just being in the same venue sharing the same passions is enough for me. I didn’t have time (nor the patience) to stand in line to meet anyone.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I am sitting in CHM airport. I have to share with you all that I am sitting in the general food court and Jessica Arevalo is sitting to the right of me, and Bradley Martyn to my left. So on that note, I am going to hit pause on this entry, perhaps go say hello, make my way to my gate, and I will pick back up with you guys once back in Vegas.
Hey Fam! Happy Saturday! I wrapped up week number three of the F45 8-Week Challenge this morning with an EPIC Series Obstacle Race!
Our gym was invited to set up a tent for the day so, of course, I jumped at the chance to get in on the action! This obstacle course was unlike any I have ever completed before in the sense there was minimal running, no water, and no mud! In total, it was just over two miles long making certain that each obstacle was back to back. It made for a short- yet super intense course and I loved it!
Most of the obstacles I was somewhat familiar with or had completed one similar in past races; however, when I came upon the keg carry, the kegs were filled with water instead of the usual sand, so to say it was demanding on the core is an understatement! It was a blast and a great (almost) midway point in the F45 challenge.