Thursday, July 28, 2011

A little time off

I learned today that rest and recovery are truly critical when you are training hard. I had an unusually intense leg day yesterday (I increased weights on almost every exercise!) and did HIIT, so I killed it at the gym to say the least. :: Pat on the back:: Usually on leg day I will incorporate an extra serving of grain based carbs, but for some reason yesterday I forgot to do that. It's safe to say I will never forget again, because when I woke up this morning my body hated me! As odd as this may sound, I typically wake up full of energy and super excited to hit the gym. Today it was a serious struggle to get out of bed and even after I had eaten and drank my Xtend I was still feeling unusually sluggish. I went to the gym anyway, which was a horrible idea because I think I lasted all of 3 minutes. My stomach felt weird, my energy was a 0, so I turned around and went home. I wanted to share this for a couple reasons: first, to emphasize how important nutrition is to your body, and second to make sure that you know when to listen to the cues your body is giving. Being lazy and needing rest are very different, and it's important to be able to differentiate between the two. Even though it wasn't easy at all to leave the gym this morning, it wasn't the end of the world- all I have to do is re-do my plan for the rest of the week, and everything works out fine. A few things that typically help me stay energized, healthy, and ready to tackle the day are:

- 8 hours of sleep every single night.
-Eating according to my activity level (except yesterday when I failed miserably at this)
-Drinking TONS of water
-Using supplements that make me feel better and show results
-A massage from my lovely boyfriend every once in a while-- all you have to do is drop the "ugh, I worked out so hard yesterday, my back is so sore" line... :)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A day in the life of little b

A friend of mine asked what foods I eat daily to hit my macros, so I thought I would share!
Waking up at 4:45am calls for 1 scoop of Xtend!
I also take 1-2 scoops to the gym with me.
Breakfast! As close to 1 hr. before the gym as possible. Egg whites with bell pepper, tomato, and jalapeno with a splash of Tapatio. Also, a toasted slice of Ezekiel low sodium bread with cinnamon
Post workout- Dymatize Iso 100 Protein shake and 1/2 banana
Mid morning snack- cottage cheese, cinnamon, protein powder, blueberries
Lunch- grilled chicken seasoned with Ms Dash, broccoli, and black beans
Mid afternoon snack- Lean ground chicken with tomato, onion, and mustard, wrapped in lettuce and:

Two hard boiled eggs
Dinner was lean ground turkey with lettuce, tomato, onion, brown rice, and tapatio
I also filled this guy up about 6 times while at work, and had 2 glasses of green tea.
Also, before bed I have my Casein shake, but I didn't take a picture :)
This is what it looks like when broken down-- granted, it's not 100% accurate, it's pretty close. Looks like I need a few more carbs and I can cool it on the protein a bit :)
At the gym, I did back and HIIT cardio and HOLY sore back today. Today was legs (boo!) and tomorrow I'm doing my bicep workout with B... I haven't trained bi's with him before so I'm super excited to learn some new stuff :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tricked by a little marketing

I saw a Clif bar wrapper sitting at the top of the trash can in the office this morning, and was curious about the nutrition so I googled it. Prepare yourself; a Clif bar has 21g of sugar! This is nearly how much I have in an entire day. This got me thinking about other products that are marketed to be "healthy" but really aren't. Before eating clean, I would check nutrition labels for things like calories and carbs, when really I needed to be looking at the sugar and ingredients (if you can't say it or spell it, don't eat it). Although it is always best to avoid packaged, processed foods, sometimes you have to turn to them in a pinch. Here are a few things you want to stay away from:

As I mentioned, each one of these has 21g of sugar.
If you're trying to cut fat, you should keep sugar intake to 5-6 g per meal.

People see strawberries, fat free, and think great! Not really.
This small container of yogurt has a whopping 26g of sugar!
Try non-fat greek yogurt instead and add your own fresh blueberries.

Here are the ingredients on Quaker brown sugar instant oatmeal. Make sure you are aware of the order in which the ingredients are listed, because they list them according to quantity found in the product. Sugar is listed second here which means there is a lot of it. (about 13g)
 If I packaged my oats, the ingredients would be: Whole grain rolled oats. The end.

Taco Salad sounds innocent enough, right? Check out that sodium! 1420g! The FDA recommends 2400g per day, so this is more than half in a salad. Not to mention it's  770 calories and has 42g of fat. UNREAL! Try browning some 99/1 extra lean turkey and tossing that on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes, beans, and salsa instead.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A little nervous: Kale Chips!

So I have read in a few places how good kale is for you, and how lots of people were making kale chips but for some reason it never really appealed to me. To be honest, even after I made them last night I was still a little scared to try them... but wow am I glad I did! They are AMAZING! Super easy to make too. Really quick wanted to give you the nutritional info on kale, then I'll let you know how I made them!

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw. (

Basically it is full of great vitamins, fiber, and at only 36 calories for a cup, you can eat this stuff for days :)

Here's what I did:

- Kale (I used one "bunch")
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Garlic powder
-Onion powder

1. Wash Kale and cut the leafy part off from the spine. Throw away the spine and place leafy parts in a bowl.
2. Add EVOO and toss until all kale is lightly coated
3. Spread kale onto baking sheet then season with onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper (I didn't measure, but I didn't hold back on the seasoning)
4. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until crispy.

It was nice and crispy and almost had a salty taste to it, just like real chips! I will probably experiment with other spices/flavors. We didn't finish all that I made last night, and I noticed today that it wasn't crispy anymore, so you may only want to make as much as you will eat in one serving. Kale is definitely a testament to "don't knock it 'til you try it!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tilapia Fish Cakes

Tonight for dinner I made a variation of Rob Riches Tilapia fish cakes- you can find his recipe at

- 5 Tilapia fillets
-2/3 cup oat flour
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 yellow pepper, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- Juice of one lemon
- 3 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Place tilapia in food processor (I don't have one so I used my vegetable chopper, it worked great)
3. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix with hands
This is what the mixture looks like

4. Form patties out of mixture and place on a baking sheet, pre sprayed with Pam.
Before baking 

5. Cook for 35-40 minutes.

1 cake
Calories: 150
Protein: 21g
Carbs: 10g
Fat: 3g

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A little controversy: To cheat or not to cheat?

There is a pretty big debate in the fitness world regarding cheat meals, and I think it's really interesting!

Those who believe in cheat meals say that dieting or eating clean for an extended amount of time ultimately depletes your glycogen stores, making it harder for you to work out at 100% intensity. Your body also realizes that you may be consuming less calories, so it will use less energy throughout the day, which will slow down your metabolism and you will be burning less fat than when you first started dieting. So, you need a cheat meal to rev up your metabolism again and keep your body guessing. They say it is also good mentally to be able to allow yourself to indulge every so often (many people that believe in this method recommend cheat meals once a week). The other side of the story is that you should treat your body like a car. If your car typically runs on Premium gasoline, and one day you decide to put in the cheap stuff, what's going to happen? Your car will likely not perform to its highest potential and may even break down. It can also cause damage to your engine or other parts within the car. If you are putting bad food into your body, you are causing it to run differently than normal and potentially causing internal side effects you may not even realize.

When is the last time you had a cheeseburger?

So there are the two sides to the story... my thoughts? Personally, I'm very lucky in that I don't often crave unhealthy foods. I am very satisfied with my six meals a day so I'm not really longing for any cheat meals. My approach: if it happens, it happens, but I'm not a cheat meal planner. I think in the past 5-6 weeks I have had 2 cheat meals and they were both because we were out to dinner with friends. (Not saying you have to cheat every time you eat out) You have to find what works best for you, and I have found sticking to the plan a vast majority of the time is best for me.

Something that may be even more difficult for some of us to give up is alcohol, so I wanted to give a little background info on that as well. Although you can get into all the scientific details, alcohol's effect on the body when dieting/exercising is pretty simple. Whenever you consume alcohol, your body automatically stops using/burning whatever was already in your stomach as well as whatever is accompanying the alcohol (mixers) and burns the alcohol first. Your body starts exerting all its energy to break down the alcohol and it stops metabolizing fat, so it turn it just sits there and will ultimately be stored. In addition, it interferes with protein synthesis which means all the hard work you put in at the gym that day and for up to 48 hours after drinking can be put to waste. Alcohol often causes you to over eat and/or eat foods that are not on your clean diet. It causes dehydration and lowers testosterone levels. I know it's hard to hear, but if you are looking for real results, you have to cut the booze! I'm surprisingly doing very well with this, but let me tell you... when I'm having a rough day at work, I imagine myself sitting at a beach bar with a big, cold, blue moon in hand :) Can't wait until this is a reality-- only about 3 more weeks!

Remember: I'm not a doctor, scientist, nutritionist etc. but the above information is what I have gathered after tons of research. If you find any of it to be untrue, please do not hesitate to let me know :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

A little cardio

Today was my first day back to doing cardio in 5 weeks, and WOW I thought I was going to have a heart attack! I have been focusing on building muscle and lifting heavy, and now that my vacation is getting pretty close I decided it was time to throw cardio back into my routine. I will continue my same lifting splits, and will continue lifting heavy in the 6-8 reps range to continue building, but will add in HIIT 3x per week for the next couple weeks. Not familiar with HIIT? Here's some background info:

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training- so you're basically doing short bursts of cardio followed by recovery, then another burst and so on.  After lots of research, I have found this is one of the better ways to perform your cardio, and it usually yields the most fat burn. In addition to increasing your aerobic and anaerobic endurance, HIIT also speeds up your metabolism, which ultimately causes you to burn more calories throughout the day. Another benefit is by doing HIIT instead of a steady pace for a longer time, you are preserving your hard earned muscle! Make sure especially on days you do cardio, you are drinking your BCAA's... I like to do them before, during and after-- this will help preserve your muslce as well. There are tons of different ways to do HIIT- treadmill, bike, stairs, etc. After abs today, I jumped on one of the spin bikes and did 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for 12 minutes. Although I felt like my heart was about to jump out of my chest, it felt great to accomplish- not to mention 12 minutes and you're done! I have admitted before, I used to be stuck on the cardio machines for miles upon miles, and let me tell you that is BORING and does not yield the same results as HIIT. You have to do what works for you, but I really encourage you to try this out and see how you like it! Oh, and if you haven't already, make sure you like my facebook page.. just click here :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

A little Italian

Another one of my Mom's recipes modified to be clean!

-4 cans low sodium tomato sauce
-1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
-1 package 99/1 lean ground turkey
-1/2 onion, chopped
-1 tbsp minced garlic
-2 tomatos, chopped
-2 C mushrooms
-4 tbsp garlic powder
-2 tbsp onion powder
-1 tbsp thyme
-1 tbsp oregano
-2 tbsp basil
-1 spaghetti squash

1. In a large frying pan, saute onion, garlic,2 tbsp garlic powder, mushrooms, and tomato.

2. Add in ground turkey and cook until brown.

3. In a pot, add tomato sauce, chicken broth and spices and simmer.
4. Once turkey is brown, add to pot with sauce.

5. If you have time, add about 1/2 cup of water and let simmer for 30 min- 1 hr, stirring often. The longer you let the sauce simmer, the more flavor it has.
6. Add on top of spaghetti squash (1 cup is only 40 calories!! Awesome alternative to regular spaghetti)... yum! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A little fish

One of the many dishes my mom is known for is her spanish style rice- so I took her recipe and with a couple changes came up with clean spanish rice. I paired this with Tilapia and black beans, or you can do a taco!

- 1.5C brown rice
- 1 can no salt added tomato sauce (you can puree your own at home if you want)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Garlic and Onion Powder (I don't measure, just an even sprinkling of both) 

1. Place rice, onion, olive oil and seasoning in frying pan on medium heat. Stir until rice begins to brown and onion looks clear. 

2. Add 1 1/4 C of water and the can of tomato sauce (be careful, I get popped every once and a while!) 
3. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover. It should take about 20 minutes for all the water to cook off. 
Finished product!
I put my fish on a bed of romaine lettuce, with tomato, a little rice, and black beans. B turned his into a taco/burrito (pictured above).
For tilapia- Spray pan and add a tiny bit of coconut oil to top of fish.
Pepper to taste, then bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

If you're a sauce person (like me) add some Tapatio to a
little non-fat greek yogurt. It's awesome!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A little chocolate

I realized today I had coconut shavings from clean coconut chicken leftover, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate it into protein bars. I took Jamie Easons standard protein bar recipe and made a few tweaks to come up with Chocolate Coconut Protein Bars!

3/4 C Oat Flour
3 Scoops Chocolate Protein Powder
2 tsp. Cinnamon
4 Egg Whites
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/8 tsp. All Spice
2 ripe bananas, mashed
5 oz water
3 tbsp coconut shavings

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix dry ingredients
3. Whisk together wet ingredients, then add to dry
4. Place batter in a well greased (Pam) 8x8 Pyrex dish
5. Bake for 20 minutes (I find that when the top starts to crack, it is done!)
My brain is fried from a long day at work, so I haven't done the exact nutrients, but I subtracted the 3/4 C Splenda/Truvia/Ideal from the recipe (feel free to add it back in if you like sweets) along with 1/4 C Oat flour. I added an extra scoop of protein and the coconut, then the 2 bananas are basically the same as 2 jars of baby food-- So I'm thinking the nutrients are going to be pretty similar to other protein bars made with baby food. If anyone wants to take a stab at the nutritional info, go for it, and please let me know! If not, I will get around to it tomorrow :)

*Oh and remember-- there are no preservatives in these bars, so I always freeze them, then you can pop them in the microwave for 1 minute and they're good to go. If you don't freeze they will begin to mold within two days. *

Tomorrow is leg day (least favorite!) and I am making Tilapia Fish Tacos for dinner. Should be pretty straight forward, but I will try to post them either on here or on facebook. Hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A little of everything

There are a couple things I wanted to touch on today- first, I came across this website last night and was completely blown away. I cannot believe that this even exists and to think there are tons more like it is so sad. It is a website basically about how to be anorexic, tips and tricks to hiding it etc. I wish these people were educated on what they are doing to their bodies and what effect it will have on them long term. I wish even more that they wouldn't share and encourage their bad habits. Kind of a downer, but I just thought I would share- it is important that these issues are addressed.

Sometimes we all need this reminder
For those of you following my testing of Apple Cider Vinegar and Kombucha- I have an update. After using the Kombucha instead of ACV before each meal for one week, ACV is victorious! My stomach was unfortunately back to its old ways last week; bloated after every meal. I say unfortunate because the Kombucha is SO good, I'm sure I will continue to drink it every one and a while for its good taste and other health benefits, but looks like the ACV is here to stay! I'm so glad that I have found something that helps, I was getting very fed up with my stomach.

Lastly, this coming Saturday marks 4 weeks until my vacation! It cannot come soon enough, but at the same time I want as much time as possible to keep getting into shape. After 4 weeks of clean eating, very minimal cheats, and working out with a plan I am definitely seeing a difference. The changes are slow, but they're there. Over the next couple weeks I'm going to start incorporating cardio back into my workouts and hopefully get those abs to show by the time my vacation comes! Although that is my goal, I feel so much better both physically and mentally since I have started this new lifestyle, which makes it all worth it, regardless of the way I turn out physically. I am positive that even after my vacation I will continue eating/living this way, as it is now what makes me feel the best, and who doesn't want to feel their best all the time!

Oh ya- if you haven't already, please "like" my facebook page for additional recipe ideas, information, and motivation!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A little sleep!

I think one of the most forgotten aspects in exercising and living an overall healthy life is sleep. I for one, have always been a person that needs my 8 hours or you do not want to be around me! Additionally, when I don't sleep my immune system is almost always compromised and I end up sick. For the first six months after starting at my day job I kept working Friday and Saturday as a cocktail waitress. There were many times I was up at 6am on Friday, worked til 5pm, then went into my  night shift at 8pm and got off at 3am. I worked at a bar that was also open for early morning football games so I would then have to be back to work on Saturday morning by 9am. Needless to say, my body was getting no rest at all and I was sick and miserable all the time. Thankfully, I have my sleep schedule completely under control now (only one job helps a bunch) and I feel better than ever! Setting your internal clock is so important, especially when it comes to muscle growth. It is during sleep that your body releases the growth hormone- so if you aren't sleeping you are hindering your body's recovery and growth. I  know creating a schedule and sticking to it can be hard to do sometimes, so here are some things that have helped me.

1. Plan out what your "perfectly" scheduled day would look like, then figure out what you will need to tweak to get there. It may take some time, but you should eventually be able to shift things around so that you are getting the things you need to get done completed, and still giving yourself 8 hours in bed. One of the most important factors about getting a good full nights sleep is putting your body on a sleep schedule- like I've said before your body loves routine and will respond well to it.

2. Try to turn your brain off before bed. This is something that I struggle with and often find myself doing the exact opposite. My head hits the pillow and I start thinking about my day, what I'm doing tomorrow, and the list continues. I try my best to do something "mindless" before bed like watching TV so that I can wind down from the day. If I notice myself not sleeping well for a couple nights in a row, I usually reach for the Melatonin to help out-- sometimes your body needs help regulating its internal clock and the Melatonin can help. (Just make sure you have time for a full 8 hours or you can wake feeling groggy)

3. Don't nap! I used to be the queen of naps, and then I couldn't sleep and night which caused me to have to take a nap again the next day, and it created a horrible cycle. Although sleep is important, you should try to fight the urge to take naps as much as possible to ensure that you are getting at least 8 uninterrupted hours at night.

4. Don't go to bed hungry! I never ever get in bed hungry or thinking about food. First, this would probably keep me up all night and I would end up getting up to eat eventually. Second, you should always be eating/drinking slow digesting protein before bed to preserve those muscles! You don't want all your hard work to go to waste while your body is fasting over night, so invest in come Casein or have a serving of cottage cheese and some almonds before bed. Eating before bed has always been a "no-no", but if you are eating the right foods/ taking the right supplements you will actually benefit from it- plus if you get a good flavor of Casein (my favorite is chocolate peanut butter) it feels like dessert before bed... what's better than that!

This is the Casein I use, and I order from
* has tons of great articles if you are interested in knowing exactly what is going on in your body and with your muscles when you are sleeping! *

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I've been asked a lot lately what arm workouts to do, so I thought I would share what I did today! (Photos from

Dumbbell curls- super set with:

Barbell Curls, also super set with 

Cable hammer curls with rope attachment 

Reverse barbell curls- super set with 

Zottman Curl

Cable curl super set with 

Incline dumbbell curl 
I did 6-8 reps of each, as heavy as I could go keeping good form. Remember not to rest between exercises (even the ones with 3 in a row!) and rest 1 min 30 sec between each set. After I did this today, I literally struggled putting the barbell back on the rack!

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