Keepin' it Real - because it is a PROCESS

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Keepin' it Real - because it is a PROCESS

Well, its been 3 weeks since my last blog post: It’s Time to Get My Sh*t Together and 3 weeks of me actively working on getting my sh*t together and I am happy to report that its slowly but surely been working.

I had shared in that blog post and on social media that I had gained weight over Christmas break during my holiday travels to Europe. To be completely honest, I haven’t been actively posting much on social media because its hard to feel inspirational and motivating when you don’t feel as good as you know you could. That is just my nice way of saying “Yeah, I feel chunky".

Working with clients and talking with various people about weight gain and fat loss especially over the holidays got me thinking that instead of waiting 10-15 weeks from now to share my amazing ‘transformation’ and progress that I should share the process of me doing it.

Let me emphasize that again, it is and has been a PROCESS!

A couple weeks before leaving for Germany I unfortunately injured my shoulder and had been modifying a lot of my pressing movements and back squats because of the pain. I had decided that going into my trip that would give my shoulder some time off and take the couple weeks away from lifting and working out.
In hindsight I wish I had tried to do something like taken my resistance bands or done some bodyweight exercises but, c'est la vie - what can you do?

I knew that getting back in the gym and moving weight again needed to be a progressive thing. There was no way I was going to be able to jump back into the loads and volume I had been doing. The first thing I needed to do was increase my daily activity and start getting my 10,000 daily step goals in. The next step was adding in some resistance training. I started out doing mini super-setted bodyweight/ banded circuits with exercises like banded clams, push ups, inverted rows, squats, reverse lunges and “easy” dumbbell/ plated movements like goblet squats, plate bent over row, weighted lunges etc..

Dumbell Goblet Squats

Dumbell Goblet Squats

Working on those 10k step goals

Working on those 10k step goals

Jump forward a week of getting my daily step goals in and a couple easy gentle strength workouts in I was feeling ready to get back to more structured programming. Let’s just say that even though I eased into it, going from not lifting to lifting was humbling AF. The first day back on a program the barbell felt heavy, so I had to leave my ego at the door and scale each lift to an appropriate RPE.

Another BIG and I would say the hardest part of getting my sh*t together was the food and nutrition. Going from eating all the goodies to tracking my macros again has and is a process.
Some days I’m all about it and some days I’m like...

♪♫♬ hello chocolate, my old friend ♪♫♬

I’ve tracked macros on and off for the majority of the last 6 years and feel pretty confident with my food choices and maintaining my weight but for my current goals - losing some body fat - it is absolutely the most efficient way. Knowing my intake and ensures I am in a caloric deficit and is a HUGE piece of the puzzle because fat loss is the goal. I like tracking macros because it gives me that flexibility to choose what I want to eat daily and make strides towards my goals.

Yummy snack: 8F 19C 19P

Yummy snack: 8F 19C 19P

Brinner for dinner! YUM!

Brinner for dinner! YUM!

If there’s one thing I know about progress is that it requires CONSISTENCY and while I’m only 3 weeks in I’m very slowly starting to see some changes by following a few key things:

  • Tracking macronutrients and caloric intake

  • Keeping my activity up with 10,000 steps a day

  • Resistance training 4x a week

I’ve only had minimal scale changes and while my pictures don’t look too different, I am seeing changes.


Most importantly- I’M FEELING F*CKING GOOOOOOOOD from it all.

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Hope this is helpful for you reading this if you are in fat loss phase. Keep it sustainable and remember it takes time. If you have comment or questions on nutrition/ training please leave feedback or reach out to me directly and I will be happy to answer.


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It's Time to Get Your Sh*t Together

It's Time to Get Your Sh*t Together

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First off I really was just SO excited to wake up in MY bed this morning! It feels SO good to be home and I even though I woke up at 3:30am (jet lag from traveling) I knew that it was time TO GET MY SH*T TOGETHER.
After traveling the last 2+ weeks and being out of my "normal" routine and structure I will be the first to admit my fitness has taken the back seat. I feel uncomfortable, I feel out of it and I just don’t feel myself. I don't like it. BUT I do know that I have what it takes to implement changes to get where I want to be so that's the good news! I crave routine, I crave structure and I am ready!

The holidays are great for so many reasons and can be a welcomed break to spend time with family, enjoy indulgent foods and just be in chill mode. There is nothing wrong with all those things because they are just part of life and just needed at times. 

If you partook in holiday festivities, ate more than normal, hit snooze, weren't as active, went out to eat etc.. (you get it) the last couple weeks, you may have got the feeling somewhere along the way that went from "this feels good" to... "yeah, I don't feel good anymore".

We just know it when we feel it.

Am I right?
The upside of getting those feelings is that just as quickly as they came, they can change. Part of getting your shit together is figuring out what you should focus your energy on and what you should let go of.

I thought I would share a list of things that I find helpful in my process of feeling good and getting my sh*t together. If you are feeling like you are in a place that you also want to get your sh*t together then hopefully you can implement some of these tips and tricks.


Getting your shit together means:

DEEP BREATHS

Taking a deep breath and realizing what’s done is done and that it is time to move forward. The past is in the past and there’s not really anything you can do about it. Onwards and upwards.

My thoughts:

I had an epic trip enjoyed the holiday season in Europe! Although my intentions were good, I took resistance bands, my Fitbit had planned to workout, I just didn’t really create the opportunity for myself to. I was incredibly active sight seeing and I did indulge in food, sleep and good times. No regrets but I know it’s time to make changes. 

ASKING WHAT

Being honest with yourself about what you really want and making a game plan to go for it.

My thoughts:

I want to get sh*t going again, see more definition and lines in my physique, increase my strength and performance which ultimately will make me feel better.

TIME IS A TOOL

Scheduling time to fit the things you need/ want to get done in your week.

My thoughts:

Physically writing out a list of things I'd like to get done in the day in a planner. By scheduling specific lifting days with times that work best for my schedule that I can stick to. Hold myself accountable.

START SMALL

Starting small by setting attainable and realistic goals.

My thoughts:

Don’t over complicate the goal. Achieving monumental goals starts with achieving small goals repeatedly. Things I can do that are small are waking up in the mornings and walking for at least :30 min on the treadmill to get a jump start on my step goals, eating 2-3 servings of fruits and veggies daily, drinking 1+ gallon water, not eating packaged goods but instead focusing on real food.

DON’T BACKSLIDE, KEEP IT FUN

Not falling back into old habits by keeping your protocols fun, enjoyable and motivating.

My thoughts:

Recognizing the situations and circumstances of temptation. I know that getting social with friends could open the door for temptation at least right now while I am trying to get started so keeping social things at a minimum will be good for me. Not having crap in the house to snack on, being selective where/when eating out, going to bed earlier, following a structured program with training that’s consistent.

DO STUFFS

Staying engaged with improvement by doing other things you enjoy: reading, meditation, stretching, sleep, turning off your phone, saying no 

My thoughts:

Reading more books, monitoring my time on social media, cooking new/ different things at home, investing more time in other interests I have like drawing, making cards, videography etc…

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING

Keeping a positive attitude and understanding it’s going to take some patience and hard work.

My thoughts:

We are what we repeatedly do. You didn't get out of shape overnight, so you can't expect to see major changes overnight.

Getting your sh*t together is not about being perfect but instead enacting gradual positive changes in a direction that you know makes you feel good. Direct your actions towards your highest good and adjust and pivot as necessary. You won't always be able to control your environment so there will be bumps in the road, but as long as you're persistent, it will come. 

I think we all know that when we focus on ourslves the ripple affects of feeling good go a long way, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Elevating yourself, raising the bar for your potential helps create an energy that makes you want more. The better our bodies feel, the happier and more productive we are.

Remember it takes a very small amount of time for everything to start falling into place and building a routine. The things we do everyday matter more than the things we do every once in a while. A little plus a little plus a little equals a lot and suddenly, without warning, you’ve become someone who’s got their sh*t together.



HOW TO BE A SMART COOKIE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

HOW TO BE A SMART COOKIE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Enjoy the Holidays while looking and feeling great

Ah- the holidays! That special time at the end of the year where your calendar may be bursting with opportunities to eat and drink outside of your regular routine. It’s possible you’ll likely find yourself somewhere where you have no control over what is served — a party, an event or a friend’s house.

If it’s inevitable that you’ll be going to at least a few soirees this holiday season starting with Thanksgiving tomorrow then going into these occasions with a few pointers can make the morning after feel like more of a victory than thinking “what have I done?!”.

Here are a handful of tips to approach social gatherings and the holiday season in general to enjoy friends, family and food!

1. Eat Breakfast

Skipping breakfast and not eating in order to “save your appetite” may lead to over-eating later on. Starting out the day with a glass of water and a reasonability sized breakfast with something that has lean protein, a complex carbohydrate, and some fats will keep you fuller longer.

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2. Keep active

Even if your holiday season is hectic, keep your fitness routine a priority. A good workout isn’t limited to a gym or the track. It's easy to use your bodyweight in your living room to work up a sweat. Breaking a little sweat, going for a walk or getting your steps in early in the day can carry momentum and help you make smarter choices in the day ahead. You'll feel reassured and accomplished that you did something productive and good for your overall well-being.

3. Arrive satisfied

Arriving satisfied, rather than famished, will allow you to make rational, decisions when faced with tempting appetizers. You don’t wanna face plant into the 9 layer dip when you walk into the door.

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4. Take a lap

When you arrive to a party scope out the scene and take inventory of the goods. Take a moment to scan the spread of party food so you know exactly what you have to choose from. You don't want to start in on the mini quiches when you later find out there is baked brie in the other room! Take a lap and and ask yourself  "what do I have to have!?" 

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5. Choose the season

The holiday season only comes around once a year and so do seasonal goodies like grandmas homemade truffles. Instead of spending calories on foods that you can have at any time of the year, pick items that are truly special and unique to the season and savor the yumminess of each bite.

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6. Make conscious indulgences

If you know you’re hands down a dessert person and you know you won’t be able to pass up on the pie (MMMM pie) be more mindful earlier to skip on the bread and butter to enjoy a bigger slice of pie later on. You can also choose to have fat-free whipped cream because you really can’t notice the difference (at least in my opinion).

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7. See your plate and be picky

Instead of piling your plate a mile high with things that don’t really tantalize your taste buds you can start small and pick the foods that you really want to have. If you do end up not liking something on your plate - you don't have to eat it all, sometimes all it takes is a few bites. If you don't love it, don't eat it. Be conscious of what you put into your body, because ultimately it will affect how you are feeling.

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8. Drink a lot...

of water…. to keep you hydrated. So often, we think we are hungry, when we really are just thirsty. Since avoiding alcoholic beverages altogether may be hard during this time of merriment if you do decide you want to enjoy some holiday beverages keep in mind that it is very easy to dent your daily caloric intake without actually eating food. You can choose to alternate your dranks between spritzers, zero calorie drinks or sparking water.

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9. Don’t fork to mouth it too hard

Eat slowly and savor every bite, and before you go back for seconds wait to see if you really are still hungry.

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10. Chill out

This is not the time to totally ban your favorite holiday treats. There really is no need to demonize certain foods punish ourselves for indulgences we choose. Instead, positive messages like “I can control my eating” or “I’m proud that I ate responsibly today” will help you remain positive. One day or one meal won't wreck your diet but you have to go into it with the right mindset and not "the diet starts January 1st"...

11. Too much of a good thing

From a caloric standpoint – yes, you can gain weight even if you only eat “healthy”. Just because you stuck with veggie trays, green bean casserole, nuts and creamy asparagus soup doesn’t mean you aren’t eating a ton of calories. Make sure you're not eating something based solely on its health-food aura but instead being selective, practicing moderation and portion control.

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12. Walk it out

Whether it be a literal walk around the block or trying to impress your family with your dance moves from that one rap song “AYEEEE NOW WALK IT OUT”. Make sure you get in some form of physical activity post a huge meal. This is a great time to catch up with family members while getting some fresh air.

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If you are a fellow flexible dieter and macro-tracker the you know that this way of eating is wonderful in helping find us balance between "goals" and "memories over macros” (within moderation).  Although fitness and health should be priorities, your happiness is, too. In fact, they all go hand-in-hand. To be healthy, you need to physically maintain yourself, but also fulfill your soul.

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MENTALLY PREPARING TO DIET

MENTALLY PREPARING TO DIET

All these were taken in the last 6 weeks. I am about 5'10" have been averaging between 165-168 lbs. I think my offseason was a great success!


Offseason to Dieting Season


Well folks--it is  about that time of the year where I start my transition from my “offseason” phase to a dieting phase. It is a little earlier than I had anticipated to start dieting but you know how it goes...

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Despite starting my diet a few weeks earlier, I am really happy with the fact that I get less fluffy every time I go into an offseason/ growing phase. This area will always be a work in progress and finding balance is hard, but I feel good about the process.

The basic fundamentals to my nutritional protocols is always and will always be a counting macros/ flexible dieting approach. The only difference from my offseason to dieting phase is the degree of my adherence and flexibility with my nutrition.

Having practiced flexible dieting and counting macros for several years – I really like to have a separation between the two phases. When I am dieting, my dietary adherence and compliance to hitting my macros is HIGH and when I am not – it’s more of a middle ground with freedom forget how truly sad a serving of peanut butter is.

I think it is important to not be in diet mode 365 days of the year. I personally know I NEED a mental break from not weighing everything I eat. I like to have that time of not being so OCD with my nutrition to enjoy and maintain a “normal” life. Being able to take a mental break from it every now and then and prioritize other aspects of my life is key to my long term success.

Now that all being said – I am currently mentally preparing myself to get into the zone of tracking and weighing everything because I have some specific goals I am wanting to accomplish in the months to come…

#shreddingforthewedding #lifegainz

Starting a diet can be overwhelming even if you already familiar with flexible dieting and tracking macros mostly because, it takes a lot of work to be consistent. Anything worth achieving is going to require some degree of sacrifice.

I think the anticipation of the dieting is more daunting than the actual task is going to be because flexible "diet"-ing feels a little less like a “diet” and more accommodating for LIFE but a caloric deficit is a caloric deficit. Sure the first couple weeks will be a little tedious with weighing and logging everything but overtime the adjustment of changes and "new" behavior will add up and the routine will kick in.

Starting out the gates of my dieting phase I want to put in 100% or as close to it as possible from the very beginning. I want to set a strong tone and build momentum as the weeks roll by. In order to be successful and get to where I want to be aesthetic and health wise, having a strategic plan with consistency is needed to hold myself accountable and crush some goals. 

If you are in the process of deciding to "diet" (meaning a fat-loss goal/eating in a caloric deficit), make sure you have a couple things set in place to get started:

1.   SET GOALS

Setting goals early is one of the most effective ways to maintain your long-term focus and hold yourself accountable for your diet. A realistic, long-term goal with smaller “milestone” goals in between will allow you to monitor your progress and consistently remember that you’re doing this for long-term results.

Once you have long terms goals in place - break things down one step further and set SMART goals.

SMART goals:

Specific - clear and significant to you and your success. 

  • What do you want to accomplish? What are your specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal?

Measurable - assessing progress helps you to stay focused, on track and motivated to reach your goals.

  • How can you track your progress? Weekly check ins? 

Achievable - realistic and attainable to your efforts and lifestyle.

  • Do you think you can stick to this for the long term? Are you going to be happy during this process?

Realistic - relevant, challenging, yet attainable within a timeframe

  • Why do you want to reach this goal? Is reaching your goal relevant to you?

Timely - time-based. Having an end date will hold you more accountable and committed to focus your efforts. Set the motion to begin working on the goal.

  • When do you want to accomplish your goal by? Do you have a deadline? 

2.   GET A GAME PLAN TOGETHER

What things do you need to follow in order to accomplish your SMART goals?

SMART goals brings structure and trackability into your goals. Once you have those set you can get a game plan together of things to do to help you accomplish those goals. 

If you have a fat-loss/ physical goal, do you have the tools necessary to accomplish it? Example - gym membership, nutrition protocols, programming, cardio regime etc. You could look into hiring a personal trainer or coach to help you work through the goals you have.

You want to make sure that whatever game plan you follow that it's one that will best fit your lifestyle and your dietary needs. The best "diet" and program you can ever be on is one that you can stick to. Personal preference will always take priority.

3.   TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

In order to know where you are now and where you want to be, gather some data. What is your starting point?

You can set a specific day each week or each month that you monitor your progress. Typically for a fat-loss goal you will want to frequently do weigh ins, pictures and measurements to track progress you are making. 

4.   ACCOUNTABILITY

One of the MOST important things. Being accountable to something means that you're willing to make commitments and be responsible for your own actions. Whether that be with a coach you hire, friends and or family - find someone in your life with whom you can share your aspirations, goals but also triumphs and failures. 

5. BE CONSISTENT BUT ALSO BE FLEXIBLE 

Consistency requires commitment by building small empowering habits every single day. If you have specific goals and a time-line, accuracy and consistency is going to be EXTREMELY important for you however you don't have to be perfect. Life happens and if you have something come up, a family emergency, a life situation - have no fear. The things we do everyday matter more than the things that happen every once in a while. 

At the end of the day, if you want to change you have to make some changes. A dieting phase can be incredibly motivating as you can see your body change week to week if you are doing everything consistently. Not to mention, I actually feel super empowered by the discipline of tracking and being in the pursuit of my goals.

I also like to think of dieting as - the more consistent and adherent I am to hitting everything 100% the sooner I will be to not dieting. Not tracking accurately and eating out can slowly draw out the dieting process and that's never fun (see earlier blog post - Nutritional Compliance).

 

THE STRUGGLE THAT SHAPED MY JOURNEY

THE STRUGGLE THAT SHAPED MY JOURNEY

Over the last 26 years of my life my body has been lots of different shapes and sizes. I am 5'10" and have weighed 130 lbs and have also weighed 170 lbs. Each year so far has been a huge learning experience especially when it comes to ME and what makes me happy. After many trials and errors, setbacks and leaps forward both mentally and physically I finally just feel like "YASSS, I know what I am doing and am EXCITED!"

       Looking back on the majority of my teen years up until I was about 22, I can distinctly remember never feeling 100% with how I looked. Now, that may be surprising to people who know me because I was a swimmer, I was athletic etc... but I would say a I spent a good chunk of my time feeling very frustrated with my body, how much I weighed, how "skinny" I should be and just overall how I looked. Even though I had always been super active with sports and swimming - I dealt with a few body image issues and I'd say a lot of them stemmed around just trying really hard to look a certain way but actually not knowing how to accomplish my goals in a "healthy" manner.

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As a swimmer I usually just ate whatever I had wanted without thinking about it, but as soon as my swimming career came to an end I soon learned that wasn't going to be the case moving forward. In order to maintain that "skinny" look without swimming, I tried some dumb stuff. I tried "diets" where I'd basically drink V8's, meal replacement shakes and eat salads for dinner, I tried not eating, I tried to just "eat clean" (whatever the f*ck that means) during the week only to give into temptation and binge on everything and anything on the weekends. I would be riddled with guilt and feel the need to restrict myself even more. The "yo-yo" cycle of starting the diet Monday and being super restrictive causing me to fall off on the weekends was simply exhausting and overwhelming to be honest. 

It's so crazy to think that it's been about 4 years since I decided that I was ready to make a change and STOP the madness.

This is where bodybuilding comes in. I had just got on Instagram and started seeing pictures of girls competing in bikini competitions. After scrolling through hundreds of pictures, watching YouTube videos of girls competing in the Arnold and Olympia I thought to myself, I want that, I want to do that. Actively taking the leap out of my comfort zone to do a bikini competition was one of the best decisions I've ever made because not only taught me so much about nutrition, health and lifting, but it taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of. 

My first year competing AND MEAL PLANS

The nutrition protocols of when I first started bodybuilding were meal plans. After doing some research on how to get ready for a bodybuilding competition I created something pretty generic to get myself started. I knew that in order to get to where I wanted... I had to change my eating habits and follow a meal plan, I had to workout, I had to be consistent. It worked. I started lifting 6-7x days a week (full body days everyday), eating "clean", doing hours of cardio and to loose the weight. I had got ready for a show in 12 weeks and I competed. It was great! I had done what I had set out to do! 

Well... it was great but it was also very HARD. 12 weeks of eating the same sh*t all the time was pretty freaking terrible and boring. Even though I saw results very quickly I was definitely feeling deprived and knew that I probably wouldn't be able to last much longer just eating tilapia, broccoli and rice cakes. The meal plan was great to get me started but it was not something that I felt I could sustain in the long term as I started to develop a poor relationship with food thinking anything that wasn't on my plan was "bad" or a "cheat". I really disliked the negative association I had with food and some of the behaviors I used to have of binging and restricting started to creep through again. Something had to change because even though I had done a competition... I still didn't know how to accomplish my goals in a "healthy" manner.

Cue IIFYM and FLEXIBLE DIETING! 

This is really where the game changed for me in the BEST way possible. I hired a coach (best decision ever), studied nutrition, learned more about flexible dieting principles and how to track macronutrients. Getting started on my macro journey wasn't all rainbows and donuts as there was a learning curve involved. It did take a lot of practice and guidance form my coach but after applying the principles to my nutrition protocols consistently over time I found that could I achieve a lean and shredded look while essentially eating what I wanted everyday. My food choices were mine to make and my personal preference always took priority when structuring my food intake. 

I prepped and competed in a second year of bodybuilding figure competitions all while practicing flexible dieting and achieved THE best look and conditioning I have ever had. It was awesome. 

MY SECOND YEAR COMPETING AND flexible dieting

Anyways the moral of the story here is that making the investment in a coach to expand my knowledge, learn and educate myself on how to eat, train and fuel my body for my goals has been life-altering. I no longer have to second guess if I am doing it right, I no longer worry about making the "right" decisions, I never feel anxious or insecure about my food, my weight or my body. I am in the BEST shape of my life and I FEEL so freaking good and empowered knowing the HOW and WHY to accomplishing my goals. I know when I'm sticking to my macros and when I'm not. I know when I'm making smart choices and when I'm not. The simple thing of being able to say "I UNDERSTAND and KNOW how to" is beyond rewarding.

PRACTICING FLEIXBLE DIEITNG AND DOING LIFE ...

I'LL COMPETE AGAIN ONE DAY

Just wanted to give a little share about my fitness journey and my story because I know I'm not the only one that has struggled with this. I love food and I love looking good and I love that flexible dieting allows me to have both. I love that I get to help people feel empowered and "in the know" of what they need to do to accomplish their goals. I want ALL my clients to be successful and feel the same way I do.

It's never too late to change and be and feel the way you want to. You deserve to feel good and eat the things that you love. You should feel happy and excited about your body!

 

NUTRITIONAL COMPLIANCE

NUTRITIONAL COMPLIANCE

NUTRITIONAL COMPLIANCE 

I started my diet for the year on Jan 9th, 2017 and after about an 8th month growing period and weighed in at 166.8lbs. After 15 weeks of sub par dieting (at least for the first couple weeks), I finally completed a dieting phase and weighed in at 160.63lbs.

WEEK 1 : 166.6 lbs

WEEK 1 : 166.6 lbs

WEEK 9 : 164.8 lbs

WEEK 9 : 164.8 lbs

WEEK 15 : 160.6 lbs

WEEK 15 : 160.6 lbs

Here is the data of my weekly weight (lbs) averages:

Week 1: 166.60     Week 9: 164.87

Week 2: 166.03     Week 10: 164.57

Week 3: 166.41      Week 11: 164.76

Week 4: 165.71      Week 12: 164.22

Week 5: 165.40     Week 13: 162.27

Week 6: 165.01      Week 14: 161.44

Week 7: 164.81      Week 15: 160.63 (end diet)

Week 8: 165.33      Week 16: 160.43

Looking at the data - IT TOOK ME 15 WEEKS TO LOSE 6lbs!!!! * based on my weekly averages

WEEK 1 : 166.6 lbs 

WEEK 1 : 166.6 lbs 

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WEEK 9 : 164.8 lbs

WEEK 9 : 164.8 lbs

WEEK 15 : 160.6 lbs

WEEK 15 : 160.6 lbs

Reflecting back on these last 15 weeks I am happy with what I accomplished but also kind of annoyed with myself because I know it took me about 7-8 weeks to be consistent and adherent with my dieting. I would say around the 8ish week mark I was doing better, like an 8/10 if I had to give myself a score on compliance. I was still eating out 1x a week, having a bite here and there and not tracking as accurately as I should have and well... you get what you put in.

Week 9 rolled around and I got a little more serious and had started tracking everything, being more consistent and then as it goes – I had a bump in nutritional compliance around week 10 when I went home for a weekend.

Suddenly it was the start week 11 and I still wasn’t seeing the progress I had wanted – for obvious reasons of not being compliant with my nutrition. It was then that I made the decision I was all in and wanted to commit to my macros and be as close to 10/10 as I could be with everything. No guesstimating, no eating out, tracking everything (but still being super flexible with choices) and low and freaking behold, it started happening. I started seeing progress.

The moral of the story and lesson learned is that it's really up to you how well you progress. You are the one that controls how quickly or how slow the process is - accepting that reality is what I feel - made me want to be on it, made me want to be consistent. Like my coach has said "it can be hard to check yourself and call yourself on your own bullshit but if you truly want to excel and that's step #1”. Whether you choose to be 100% compliant or deviate from your macros, your body will track them.

I do want to note that while the scale did only drop 6 lbs I am quite a bit leaner than when I first started my diet. The scale is a great tool to measure your progress but it is not the be all and end. My goal for the dieting phase was to get to a look that I could see lines and more shape and I think I did just that! 

After all is said and done, I am ecstatic to be headed back into an "offseason" to start building muscle again. The goal is to keep myself in check as calories go up and work on keeping consistency there especially with nutrition. We all know how easy it is to gain weight but to lose it, that takes hard work.

 

IN-SEASON & OFF-SEASON BOD

IN-SEASON & OFF-SEASON BOD

I would say one of the hardest things about bodybuilding, if you have ever done a competition is accepting yourself and liking your body when you're not shredded and lean.

I feel like it is a common practice for myself, my clients and competitors in general to look back on the endless number of selfies when we were in our best shape and think "oh I looked so much better back then" or “I wish I still looked like that”.

While the pictures are fun to look at it can be easy to forget how much sacrifice and mental fortitude it took to get that way. There are times of hardship, low energy, questioning your sanity that all come with being in a caloric deficit.

Things that I don't miss about being in season / prepping: 

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  • Waking up every morning and constantly checking my physique
  • Being OCD with my nutrition
  • Borderline obsessing with progress and weight/fat loss
  • Super low energy in the gym (especially towards the end)
  • Not being able to eat out or be as flexible with nutritional choices
  • Crying because I was hangry or ate my macros too early in the day
  • Poor sleep
  • Non existant libido 
  • Not as social and outgoing
  • More time spent in the gym, plus cardio
  • Being critical of myself
  • Being cold and tired 
  • Questioning if I am lean enough 

Dieting is hard work. It is important to realize that maintaining that level of conditioning and leanness is not healthy in the long term, physically and mentally.

Coming out of the prep/ competition mindset is challenging to say the least. Things aren't ever really the same once you've taken the journey to pushing your body to it's pinnacle and seeing those results physically. Transitioning your mindset from “in-season” to “off-season” is hard but also exciting!

When you finish your season you have the opportunity to basically rebuild your body completely from scratch. Figuring out a game plan is the first step, ask yourself what you want to do with your physique. My goals are to be much improved every time I get to step on stage so to do that I need to add size to my frame. I know that in order to do this that I can’t stay nearly contest lean all the time and expect to put muscle on my body. Adding lean muscle is a slow process and takes A LOT of time especially as a natural athlete.

I am currently taking a two-year offseason with solid game plan in place which has empowered me in more ways than one. Some of the things that I love about offseason:

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  • Lifting heavy and training hard
  • PR's in the gym with basically every lift
  • Putting on muscle and making dem gainzzz
  • Copious amount of energy
  • Not obsessing over the scale (if you want to put muscle on you better expect it to go up)
  • Flexibility with my nutrition and eating out occasionally
  • Filling out my bra 
  • 'Miring my gains
  • Being more social
  • In the gym 4x a week with very minimal cardio
  • Being "thick-fit"

My motivation comes from being able perform my workouts with high energy and intensity, to be able to see my body grow right in front of me and working on liking how I look. Having the mindset that each workout, and each rep being one that is only going to add to my physique has been really helpful.

There is so much more to our fitness journey than a number on the scale, a body fat percentage or if we have abs. There is more to life than being shredded all the time.

Be clear with your goals and adhere to the process. If you want to gain muscle, make your training the priority and have your nutrition support it. Embrace your physique at all stages and enjoy being able to make progress. Your offseason will determine your NEXT season. The more I am in this game, the more determined I am to keep improving. I still have a long way to go but I am making the most of it. Remember competing is like a marathon - not a sprint. This next prep I do in 2018 will be very long, require a lot of patience but also allow me to bring my best conditioning yet.

POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS

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POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS

As I progress through the days, weeks and even months of the year, I sometimes find myself getting lost within the inevitable stressors of life. Having just moved recently, there have been a number of life changes I have had to deal with and it hasn’t been easy to adjust.

When I start to feel doubt, stress, anxiety about what I am doing, it gets exhausting… These negative feelings build up to a point that make me forget why I even started doing what I do and can make me lose sight of where I am going…It’s in the moments of feeling this way that I need to change my mindset.

When it comes to my fitness journey in particular, I have decided to take some time away from competing to invest in growing and transforming my body. Because of my decision, it's really important that I work on reminding myself just how far I have come, how great I am and what it is that I want to do. By shifting my thinking from negative to positive, I am able to re-affirm my wants, my thoughts, and my passions.

One of the ways I work on doing this is through affirmations, a practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment. Affirmations are usually short, positive statements that target a specific area, behavior, or belief that you're struggling with. By deciding on what you want, believing it’s possible, manifesting in the good feelings that it brings about, generates excitement and momentum.

The key to a powerful affirmation is that it needs to be in the present tense, needs to be positive, needs to be personal and it needs to be specific.

Focus on what you want, instead of what you don’t want.

Focus on YOU, focus on SPECIFIC, focus on POSITIVE.

There is so much power in the way you think and when we verbally affirm our dreams and ambitions, we are instantly empowered with a deep sense of reassurance in ourselves that our wishful words will become reality.

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Use affirmations in any situation where you'd like to see a positive change take place. When you speak out positive things about yourself, they too can begin to manifest in your life. Think about the things you want and feel excited about them.

Some of my positive affirmations I have are:

"I am confident that I possess the qualities needed to be extremely successful."

“I am working hard to achieve my goals to become a natural IFBB Pro.” 

“I am grateful that I am hardworking, strong and capable.”

 “I can do this.”

By repeating these to myself, especially in moments when I can start to feel negative, I am able to shift my focus and generate excitement.

You ARE the masterpiece of your own life. Be you, have conviction and just do the dang thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unlimited Macros & Eating During the Holidays

Unlimited Macros & Eating During the Holidays

Tomorrow kicks off one of the first holiday season get togethers with family and friends – Thanksgiving! It’s a special time to be around people you care for to celebrate togetherness surrounded by delicious food, strong drinks and epic stories.

If you are one who tracks your macros and are currently working with a coach, there is no doubt that you have had the question pop up of how to track your macros on <insert specific day> during the holiday season.

Depending who you are and where you are at within your fitness journey – dieting, reversing, offseason or even starting a prep the answer is going to be different for everyone so having a game plan definitely helps.

There are 365 days in a year and typically throughout that time there are a handful of occasions that only happen once. Being born in December, my celebratory occasions tend to be consecutive but hey - the more the merrier I guess. Knowing this, I do typically like to have a general game plan of how to approach these occasions.

My favorite approach to special days and the holiday season is to practice mindful eating and have an untracked meal or even day. I personally practice intermittent fasting and on specials days like to save most of my calories for a specific meal. IF has been something that I have incorporated the last couple years of tracking my macros and really enjoy it on a day to day basis.

That all being said, I wanted to share some good strategies on how I approach Thanksgiving and my food choices:

1.    Drink lots of fluid and stay hydrated, focus on water and carbonated low calorie/ zero calorie beverages

(IMO Martinelli’s is a poor choice of calories spent).

2.    Scope the scene and scan what options are available. What are the choices for protein, carbs and fats and how much of each do you want.

3.    Start with protein and focus on lean meats like turkey, ham etc.… (Hitting protein should not be a problem because turkey is probably the most popular Thanksgiving food and it’s an excellent source of protein).

4.    Next focus on veggies (does stuffing count?)

5.    Finally look at your carb sources available– potatoes, bread rolls, cranberry sauce etc.… (Don’t forget about pecan and pumpkin pie)

6.    Once you have your plate all loaded up with goodness take your time eating, chew your food and be conscious during the meal (dessert will still be there in 5 mins).

To sum it up : stay hydrated, focus majority of your meal on protein, veggies and leave some room to indulge in some damn pie and whipped cream for dessert.  

Nutrition is so much more than just dieting. Tracking your macros and living a flexible lifestyle is wonderful in helping find us balance between "goals" and "treat yo'self”. Learning how to be flexible by incorporating untracked and mindful eating days during the holidays makes this a lifestyle. I am a firm believer in the saying memories over macros (within moderation) so enjoy the day with friends and family! Don’t stress about weighing and measuring your food. The holiday season is such a special time to celebrate being together and to be grateful for what we have.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracking Macros: What do I eat?

Tracking Macros: What do I eat?

Help me! What do I eat??!! 

Starting out counting macros and applying a flexible dieting method to your nutrition protocol can be a very overwhelming concept initially. The essentially restriction free way of "dieting" is certainly a new way to think about structuring your nutrition because you have always been accustomed to "eat this, eat that" to accomplish xyz...

Learning how to track your macros sometimes it feels like a straight shot and other times it feels like a hot mess. What should I eat? When should I eat? What has 12 grams of carbs but 8 grams of fat and 22 grams of protein ? These are all questions that you learn to answer yourself along the way. 

Learning and understanding your diet is a HUGE fundamental to being successful in the long term. It does take some effort but the beauty of tracking your macros is that as long as you are meeting your macronutrient goals you have the freedom to choose the foods you enjoy eating. 

Mmm close...

You may see posts on social media that use tags #flexibledieting #iifym where people show all the treats and goodies they are able to fit into their macros while losing weight. That's great and all - if that's what you enjoy then do you boo. However I personally enjoy eating foods that allow me to feel full and satisfied. Don't get me wrong, I love eating donuts and cookies just as much as any other person but there is no way I want to blow the majority of my calories for the day on something that is going to leave me hungry. I would much rather eat a huge plate of food with lots of volume because a full belly is a happy belly!

At the end of the day I love flexible dieting because MY personal preference always takes priority. Flexible dieting is much bigger than simply allowing more variety into a diet; flexible dieting, REAL flexible dieting is a MINDSET and an ATTITUDE towards food and dieting and I kinda love that!

I personally feel like I'm still learning everyday (which I love) because it's exciting to eat food, different food. 

Bouncing Back From Vacation

Bouncing Back From Vacation

Bouncing Back from Vacation

Last week, I spent six days at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Mita, Mexico. For those that have been to an all-inclusive resort, you know exactly what that means and for those who haven't been yet (you should go)--it is basically an all you can eat and all you can drink paradise.

I knew going into my vacation that I did not want to track. I was going to fully “take a break” from tracking and weighing my food and enjoy myself. Now the important thing to highlight is that even though I knew I would not be tracking, I was not going to use it as an excuse to binge.

My plan for vacation was to be mindful, eat until I was satisfied, and make an effort to at least hit the gym once. The goal for my nutrition was to focus on getting quality protein sources in at every meal, eat bites of whatever I wanted, and enjoy the bottomless frozen margaritas and mojitos. Which I did! 

I also ended up hitting the hotel gym for two upper body workouts; mostly to get a sweet pump for the pool and wake up after smashing the breakfast buffet.

As you can see breakfast was my favorite meal of the day on vacation.

My vacation was really a much needed “break” from my daily routine and structure. I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the drinks, I was active and spent a ton of time walking up and down the beach, ziplining, and ATVing--all the good things.

Coming home, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had only gained .2 of a pounds while away! That is a sweet victory!

After being home for a day or so, I realized the challenge was not my vacation, but the coming back from it. After a week of not tracking and enjoying adult beverages, the struggle of getting back into a routine and making smart choices this week has been surprisingly difficult. I have been fighting off cravings hard and kind of felt a little anxious to get back into the gym because I knew how sore I would be after lifting.  

I had to do a little pep talk with myself to come back to reality and realize that I have goals that I want to get back on track with and sometimes that means you have to force it to get those habits back.

Knowing myself and what it takes for me to be adherent and stick to my macros, I know that I need to focus on starting out my day with a high protein, lower fat and low carb breakfast. Making the smart choice to start my day out this way tends to roll over to making other smart choices throughout the day. The consistent momentum from tracking and weighing can be very powerful.

The moral here is that in order to bounce back from vacation or being off track you have to consciously make a decision to not give into temptation, to go to the gym, to track food. It takes effort, it’s not easy-- but with a little time, you can pick right back up where you left off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracking Macros & Nutrition Information Online

Tracking Macros & Nutrition Information Online

Chipotle. Subway. The Cheesecake Factory. Baja Fresh. We all live in a society where going out to eat is considered normal. Social activities generally revolve around food and with flexible dieting, it is absolutely possible to go out to eat and stay within our macronutrient goals.

The general guideline for going out to eat and tracking your macros is to look up the nutritional information online or on MyFitnessPal for your selected meal and entering the information. But the fact of the matter is, online information really is not accurate. Every meal may contain all of the ingredients that are listed, but it is not made the same each and every time.

Tracking macros and going out to eat is always going to be on the flexible side of tracking macros because it is going to be difficult to truly know each amount of what you are consuming. So while you can choose to go out to eat keep in mind that nutritional information provided is simply an estimate for you to go by.

You can do your best to eyeball the foods (if you are a more experienced tracker / flexible dieter ) trust your judgment and actually look at the food as if you prepared it yourself. Think about the size of what you are actually eating. 

If the food does look like it’s been cooked in oil or has butter on it a safe bet would be to do an overestimation. If you think it’s something over between two numbers – go with the higher end and over-estimate the macros for that just incase. Always keep in the back of your mind that the macros listed for a particular meal are real rough guesstimations. Just know that the person prepping and preparing the food may be a little heavy handed with the oil that day or scoop a rounder scoop of rice.

There’s no reason eating out every now and then will hinder your overall progress, but it does make flexible dieting a bit more complicated than it needs to be especially if it is a weekly occurrence. Weight loss/ fat loss occurs by being in caloric deficit and the small stuff matters! Not accounting for the small margin of error does add up quickly.

At the end of the day, it depends where your goals lie and how quickly you want to lose weight. Remember, if you want to make changes some sacrifices will have to be made. If you are serious about losing weight just cook at home.


 

 

TRACKING MACROS AND SOCIALIZING

TRACKING MACROS AND SOCIALIZING

Dieting isn't always going to be convenient. You will run into situations where you will find you can't partake and indulge in festivities because you are tracking your macros and the food doesn't fit your goals for the day.

When present in a social situation that is surrounded by food, temptation will always be high along with the social pressure to partake. It is in these situations where you have to weigh your current goals to decide what the best decision is for you.

When you’re practicing flexible dieting and can “fit” in foods and feel good about doing so, do it! If not, then you can choose not to. It’s absolutely okay to say no and it’s absolutely okay to bring your own food and drinks because YOU want to. You need to do what’s best for YOU to do to adhere to your goals.

There is a high possibility that others will make comments or question your actions, but at the end of the day, you need to remain focused on your goals. Screw what they think about what you are doing and don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilty because of what you decide to do because it is not affecting them.

Friends that want you to succeed and support your goals will understand.

At the end of the day when it comes to eating out and tracking your macros, you should do what stresses you out the least and makes you feel comfortable. Even if you don't eat or drink at the social event, it's the time you spend and the company that matters. You need to do what YOU need to do to be successful.

FOCUS ON GROWING

Life is forever changing and so is my perspective on competing and all that it embodies.  

I’ve been getting a few people asking me how my prep is going and when I am competing. The truth of the matter is that I don’t plan on stepping on stage anytime soon. I made that tough decision a few months ago when I hired Jose from Alpha Training Protocols. After re-evaluating where I am at currently and where I want to be with my physique, I am excited to say that I will be taking at least one to two years away from prepping for a bodybuilding competition.

I think that when I first started bodybuilding, I was under the impression that competing is something that you do every year. You diet hard, compete, then go into an offseason to build. What I have found through my experiences is that having a short five to six month off season does not drastically improve a physique. Going back to my previous blog post – slow progress is good progress – in reverse, gaining and maintaining that hard-earned muscle as a natural athlete takes time, a lot of time.

Earlier this year, I had my sights set on competing in my first NPC national show at USA’s in Vegas since I finally obtained my United States citizenship. But after taking a good long hard look at my physique, I came to terms that I probably wouldn’t do as well as I wanted.

Sure, I feel like I look great, and I probably could do well but let’s be real, if I am competing at an NPC national show the goal would be to get my pro-card. I’d hate going into the show having any doubts in my physique and if I was truly ready to be there.

By being realistic with my expectations and the time it is going to take to accomplish my goals, I have decided that I want to focus on a good, long offseason. I am not looking to compete just to compete. The benefits from investing and taking a 12+ month growing season I feel are going to be the best for my goals.

I definitely feel like my physique made significant improvements since I first started competing in 2014. I really want to focus on bringing up my overall development especially my back lower half, a little bit more leg mass, and some hamstrings and glutes will really get things popping for the next time I decide to compete.

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Aside from bringing up weak points in my physique, I also want to enjoy my 20’s and not feel like I am in prep mode all the time. I don’t want to look back and think about all the things I missed out on. Bodybuilding, competing, and accomplishing goals I’ve set for myself are all awesome, but it’s not the reason I do the things I do. I am multidimensional and want to share that.

In the meantime, my focus is going to shift to other areas of my life. I am going to focus on getting strong and kicking more ass in the gym and potentially work towards a powerlifting competition. I am going to focus on enjoying all the amazing food that life has to offer. I am going to focus on cherishing my relationships with my boyfriend, friends and family. I am going to focus even more on my amazing clients and working with them to accomplish goals they never thought possible for themselves. I want to experience new things and LIVE before I think about starting a prep again.

Competing has changed my life in so many ways, some good and some bad, but overall I do feel in a much better place. I fully intend to discuss the good and bad at some point, but today is not the day.

If you are on the fence about competing and aren’t sure, my advise would be to wait until you are absolutely sure. There is no rush to compete, the stage will always be there.


REMEMBER TO KEEP THE BIGGER PICTURE IN MIND.
 

Slow Progress is Good Progress

I've been waiting... 7 months now to make this post.

170.2 lbs to 152.0 lbs

( December 2015 to June 2016 ) 

I don’t usually like to put a time stamp on how long it takes someone to loose the weight because it is really dependent on what his or her goals are but I thought it was important to show that slow progress is good progress.

Over the last 7 months I have been working hard to loose the weight I put on in my offseason of 2015. I hate to admit that I actually put on a whopping 32lbs from June 2015 to December 2015…but I did.

The weight gain was gradual but the reality is that over the course of 6 -7 months I did go from being stage lean at 142.2lbs to a chunky monkey offseason weight at 170.2lbs. While it wasn’t the type of weight I had planned on gaining I have no one to blame but myself. I personally did a crappy job of overeating and really going hard with IIFYM (if it fits in your mouth..) But like everything in life, you live and learn.

Anyways back to the slow progress is good progress. Over the last 7 months I have been successful in losing just under 20lbs. By getting back on track with tracking my macros, doing cardio and lifting 4x a week CONSISTENTLY I was able to loose the weight.

Losing the weight was by no means easy but it also wasn’t impossible. There were sacrifices made, cardio done, I did hit plateaus and I did feel hungry often but with hard work, perseverance, being flexible with my nutrition and following through with my plan, I did it and I feel amazing!

I feel many people have an expectation of fat loss/ weight loss being this nice and easy weekly linear thing that occurs in a predictable fashion. But unfortunately this is not the case and fat loss/ weight loss is dependent on the energy balance equation of calories in vs. calories out. There needs to be some form of deficit for fat or weight loss to occur and that doesnt mean cutting your calories and doing hours of cardio. It has to be a gradual process over time.

You're not going to be where you are today and get shredded and muscular the next. It takes time, a lot of time. That does sound pretty unappealing and discouraging but a long period of consistent effort will get you to where you need to be.

  • Focus on the process and have a plan, set S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound)
  • Keep it simple
  • Track your intake, workouts and energy expenditure
  •  Keep track of your progress – pictures, scale weights, measurements, how your clothes fit and most importantly how you feel.
  •  Be consistent

Repeat these steps and be patient. Appreciate the progress you're making even if it feel slow. Focus on the process and learn to enjoy it because fitness is and should be a part of your every day not just for short period time. It’s all about sustainable and maintainable progress. 

Flexible Dieting = Flexible Lifestyle

Flexible Dieting = Flexible Lifestyle

   Let me just start out by saying in my experiences with dieting I had always viewed food as being “healthy” or “unhealthy”, “clean” or “dirty”, “good” or “bad”. If I wanted to lose weight I would need to only eat “good” and “healthy” foods and eliminate “unhealthy” and “bad” foods. That was until I discovered flexible dieting/ IIFYM. 

I say discovered as if it was something that I wasn’t already doing… I already ate food and ALL food is comprised of macronutrients. (Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions.)

   Flexible dieting otherwise known as If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is simply the tracking of macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) to achieve a body composition goal. It is a way to take your body’s basic energy and nutritional needs and start eating food according to your personal preference/ lifestyle.

   The concept of flexible dieting is really nothing new. Each day you have a set of macronutrients, which you track and account for. Doing this allows you to know exactly how much you are eating by being precise, accurate and in accordance to your body and your needs.

   Macronutrients or macros make up the majority of our diets. Every food has some sort of macronutrient combination. There are three main macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat. One gram of each macro has a specific calorie value.

  • 1 Gram of Carbohydrate = 4 Calories
  • 1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
  • 1 Gram of Fat = 9 Calories

   By structuring your macros in a way that is specific to YOUR body composition, individual needs and expenditure you can eat anything you want to according to your personal preference and still make progress towards your health and fitness goals.

   When it comes to food selection and food choice there’s no doubt that what you eat and how much you eat can have a massive impact on your health, performance, and overall body composition. However, there’s no evidence that you can’t achieve all of these things while still enjoying any food you like.

   The majority of your diet should be filled with whole, nutrient dense foods while leaving a little room each day for the foods you love and enjoy. Personal preference should always take a priority to have your diet support your goals both physically and mentally.

   By incorporating things I enjoy into my diet everyday food has become part of my life and is no longer the center of it. Flexible dieting has given me the freedom, flexibility and balance I need. It allows me to eat whatever I like while purposefully giving my body what it needs to achieve my goals. This sustainable practice of "dieting" allows me to have long-term adherence and dietary compliance.  

   Flexible dieting is much bigger than simply allowing more variety into your diet; flexible dieting, REAL flexible dieting is a MINDSET and an ATTITUDE towards food and dieting.

   Developing a healthy and balanced mindset with how you structure your nutrition will be key to achieving long-term success.

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"Clean" eating Vs Flexible Dieting (IIFYM)

Just wanted to share my experiences with both:

(Left) - following 100% 'clean' eating meal plan

(Right) - following 100% flexible dieting (IIFYM)

   "Clean" eating works and flexible dieting works. It's all about finding a method that you enjoy and makes you feel great- mentally and physically. It comes down to personal preference and what you can adhere to the best. I prefer to be able to choose the foods I like and I feel happier accomplishing my health and fitness goals.

   I followed 'clean eating' prep and it worked but I felt restricted, I binged, I felt guilty - rinse and repeat. I followed Flexible dieting (IIFYM) prep and doing so changed my life and my relationship with food. I just plan the foods I want to eat and I never feel the urge to binge.

    So when it comes down to it, no way is better than the other in terms of creating body composition. However I would argue that IIFYM - tracking and accounting for my macros allows me to eat food I love and live a lifestyle of balance, moderation even while I am prepping for a competition.

(And I think I look way better when I follow IIFYM 😝)