Cheat Meals. Letting Go. Can I Do It and Still Make Progress?

As a trainer I am constantly asked if “letting go on the weekends” is ok.  Well, this depends on your definition of “letting go”.  One “cheat” meal or even two “cheat” meals in an entire weekend isn’t going to derail your fat loss/muscle gain.   Drinking with the purpose of getting drunk and eating shitty ass food whenever you want as if your stomach is a black a hole will.

What is your definition of a cheat meal?

Having a meal that is not tracked and enjoyed to satisfaction without guilt is not cheating. Eating a meal(s) to the point where you need to unbutton your jeans is just unnecessary.  I personally hate using the words “cheat meal” because it makes it seem like you are doing something wrong and shameful.  I refuse to allow something like a big chocolate chip cookie make me feel like I am guilty of something.  When did we allow food to make us feel bad about ourselves? Do you hear how stupid that sounds??  There is nothing shameful in enjoying food and not worrying about what it may or may not do to your body.   Food is not the devil so let’s not be dramatic over the word “cheat”.

Let’s go back to your goals.  

Are you serious about changing your physique and why? If answering that question fires up burning motivation then why do you want to spend an entire weekend eating like shit and being lazy? What purpose does that serve? Get your shit together and prioritize people!  Stop giving food so much power that you allow it to take over what is important to you.   Food is food and it will always be there.  You will always have access to sweets, take-out and alcohol so stop acting like this is an all-you-can-eat-because-the-world-is-coming-to-an-end buffet.

Please, please, please, I beg of you, please don’t be that person that tries to justify your binge weekend with all the working out you did. Good Lord, that is NOT how this works!

 

First of all, your workouts should just be part of your “being alive” routine not used as a way to negate you calories. But because I know you (yes, you!) pray that your binge weekend can be made up we’re going to put this into perspective.

Below is a list of yummy-shitty foods and how long you would have to do burpees for to burn it off.  Why burpees? Because they suck, they’re hard, they burn a lot of calories and everyone hates them.

  • Slice of pepperoni pizza (298 calories): 30 minutes of burpees
  • Cheeseburger (423 calories): 42 minutes and 20 seconds of burpees
  • Medium-sized McDonald’s french fries (380 calories): 38 minutes of burpees
  • Grilled cheese (580 calories): 58 minutes of burpees
  • Homemade chocolate chip cookie (89 calories): 9 minutes of burpees
  • Red velvet cupcake (496 calories): 50 minutes of burpees
  • Half a cup of vanilla ice cream (230 calories): 23 minutes of burpees
  • Half a bar of dark chocolate (300 calories): 30 minutes of burpees
  • 5-ounce glass of red wine (115 calories): 11 minutes and 30 seconds of burpees
  • 12-ounce bottle of beer (150 calories): 15 minutes of burpees
  • 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola (143 calories): 14 minutes and 20 seconds of burpees

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to do 23 minutes of burpees to make up for a half a cup of vanilla ice cream.  Let’s be honest, most people here aren’t trying to whip out a half of cup and fill it to the brim with ice cream if they are “letting go”.   I am not saying the food listed above is bad or should be avoided because life would suck that way.  But in terms of “cheat days” we’re not talking about having one grilled cheese; we’re talking about having the grilled cheese, with 10 homemade cookies, 7 bottles of bear and a late night run to McDonald’s.

So…you tell me? Is a cheat day good or bad for your progress?

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How I Stopped Being Self-Conscious In The Gym

The other day my sister sent me a text asking how I got over being self-conscious in the gym.  My immediate response was, “I don’t know.  I just made myself do it…”

But how??

Fitness was not always a part of my life.  Working out was a chore or a punishment depending on the day and my version of a work out was going for a run.  I didn’t know anything about weights and even had escape plans up my sleeve to save myself from embarrassment of “figuring” out equipment.   Now the gym is my first home and I wouldn’t know what I would do without it.

So how did I get this to this point?

 

I had a goal, a vision, and a purpose.  The day I stepped in the gym (I mean really stepped in a gym) was the day I decided to compete in my first bikini competition. I had little knowledge in the gym, but I wanted to get into the best shape of my life and show it off in a competition wearing the smallest bikini known to man.  Placing in the competition was always a bonus, but I was there to prove to myself that I could do this. I researched different “competition coaches” and hired someone online.  Even though they gave me a plan they didn’t show me how to actually do anything in the gym.  This plan was no better than googling a random workout.  They did hold me accountable, but I was still on my own to figure it out.  Despite how intimidating it was I determined enough to step in that gym and do the work even if I looked like a jackass.   As motivated as I was, I was still afraid of using certain machines or doing certain exercises, because I knew I was “weak” and thought I would look stupid.  I avoided these exercises for quite some time until I finally decided to make myself do it.

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I came up with a plan.  Every week I picked an exercise that I had been too intimidated to try and made a promise to myself that I would get it done by the end of the week/session.   Sometimes I failed on that promise and sometimes I succeeded, but I never stopped trying.  I was consistent in my efforts and building up the courage until I finally did it all.

 

I used visualization.  Some days were harder than others and it required more mental strength to get through it.  I’m inspired by the visuals I can create in my own my mind.   There would be days I sat in the parking lot seeing myself lift or at my goal physique on stage with the lights on me.  I could physically feel the emotions of accomplishing these goals and what my life will be like when I checked this goal off my list.  It was a high that I used to help step through those doors and try something new.  Visualization is still a strong tool for me, but I’ve been able to utilize self-talk to get me through hard workouts as well.  Try both to figure out what works well for you.

 

I dressed like a bad assin my own head.   I’m not a fashionista nor do I have any right telling anyone what looks good and what doesn’t.  I started off trying to find things to hide my body or sweat stains because avoiding all forms of embarrassment was key and wardrobe played a role in fading into the background. But as I grew more confident in the gym I began to expand my outfits outside of black and baggy.  It may sound silly, but when you feel like a bad ass in your gym gear then you will work out like a bad ass.

 

At the end of the day there is no magic trick to get over being self-conscious in the gym.  At some point you need to stand up to your fears and make yourself do it.  If you need to start off small then do that.  If you can rip it off  like a band-aid and go balls to the walls then more power to ya’ sista!   Regardless of the size steps you take you have to be ready and willing to make the commitment to change and step outside your comfort zone.

 

The best piece of advice someone has ever given me was ‘do it scared.’   And no matter if you’re scared, just go ahead and do it anyway because you might as well do it scared, so it will get done and you will feel so much better if you step out of your comfort zone. – Sherri Shepard

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Aerial Yoga Review

On your fitness journey you will be inspired to try new forms of exercise.  Some of these experiences will be awesome.  You will find new avenues to explore your fitness and develop your strength.  And then there will be times where you literally think “wtf am I doing?”  This was me with Aerial yoga.

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To be fair, I have nothing against Aerial yoga for other people.  There are many benefits to Aerialyoga similar to other forms of yoga such as flexibility and core strength. Aerial yoga also provides the added benefits of inversion, which helps with spinal decompression.  Hanging upside down will also stimulate your vestibular system (the part of your inner ear that helps with balance).  This can be a great way to alleviate back or neck pain, improve flexibility, get some deep stretching and recovery from more challenging workouts, and improve balance and inner ear function.

On the other hand, it might just make you nauseous for several hours afterward.  This was the case with me.  The hanging upside was extremely uncomfortable to me due to the intense head rush.  I am not a huge fan of traditional forms of yoga to begin with (that’s right I said it) so I didn’t really get a kick out of being sick to my stomach in addition to doing yoga.  This doesn’t mean that yoga or Aerial yoga is bad for you or you should be insulted if you are a fan of any of these forms of exercise.  If you think that you could benefit from any of the positive outcomes I mentioned earlier, then by all means, knock yourself out and get your upside down yogi on.  I will be keeping my feet on the floor from now on.


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Be Your Own #Fitspo

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There is always some kind of controversy behind body image in our society.  One minute we hate models because they are “too skinny” and portray an unhealthy image of beauty.  The next day, fitness models are being attacked for being “too muscular” giving people the impression  that achieving health is impossible because the of various ignorant fitness beliefs.

It is disturbing that people blame “fitspo” or fitness imagines on self-esteem related issues.   The word “fitspo” is disturbing in itself, but this blame as a whole is just another way to point the finger as to why people are unhealthy and unhappy.  Take some responsibility of your own crazy and work to heal yourself to fight against.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe these imagines are damaging or motivating because they will always be there and there is nothing you can do about it.

 

You will always have two choices – Spend your energy comparing yourself to other people and feeling bad about it or work on yourself to be a better version of you.

 

Of course the media can portray better examples of beauty and health, but the reality is that no matter what is out there (skinny model, fit model, plus size model…etc) someone somewhere will always have something bad to say about it.

Beauty and health does not come in one package.

Fitness is not one shape, body type or form of exercise.

Happiness and confidence can’t be handed to you externally.

 

Stop blaming other people for your problems and take some time to recognize where your problems actually come from.  Find a therapist, start a blog, research what it takes to get to your goal or ask for help in which ever way you think you need it.  Make the choice to live a better life because you deserve it!  The sooner you focus on you and only you, the happier you will become.

Be your own #fitspo, damn it!

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How To Stay Motivated

You created a goal and now you’re pumped about taking the steps to achieve it.  Then a week goes by and your motivation slowly simmers or life gets stressful and you’re suddenly too tired to work out and cook your planned meals.  Now three weeks have gone by and you haven’t made progress and you may start all over again.  Let me guess, you’re not motivated enough?  Don’t let the words “motivated” and “will power” make you believe you aren’t capable of accomplishing this goal.  You are very capable so let’s go over some ways to keep you on track.

What is your real Goal?

There are two types of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic.   Extrinsic motivation is influenced by outside factors; are you losing weight because the doctor told you to or because society says it’s not ok to have cellulite? Extrinsic motivation is influencing actions to avoid punishment or to receive external rewards.  This motivation will only last so long before it dies and you’re back to square one.  On the other hand, intrinsic motivation influences behavior because it is personally rewarding.   Does it feel good after your work out?  Have you notice your confidence grow as your go through the process of your fitness transformation? If you are motivated by something that feels good you’ll have more of a drive to want to keep doing it.

So what is your goal and what influences your behavior? If your initial goal is based on an outside influence like winning your first bikini competition that’s ok, but when times get hard that shiny new trophy won’t seem so appealing.   Dig deep beyond your surface goal and find your real goal; find your why.

Track your progress

Changing your body and life style is probably one of the hardest goals because no matter how hard you feel you are working you cannot see the changes in your own body as quickly as you’d like.  Every day I wake up and flash my stomach in my mirror searching for a new crease as to hint incoming abs.  No matter how hard I squint I look the same.   Personally, I believe the scale was made by the devil so I hate to weigh in. Do I still do it? Of course, and then I regret that decision immediately after as I am guilty of defining the beauty of my body based off a number. I could go on and on about how much I hate measuring tools but we can save for that for another day.   The point I am trying make is that even though I despise weighing in I discovered a more effective way to track my progress and that is through pictures.  And no, I don’t mean Instagram #selfies.  When I am on a mission to change my physique I go through weekly progress pictures.  They may not seem like much in the moment but when I look back and compare I can easily spot my changes without having to squint.   Moral of the story – find something to keep you on track whether it be through pictures, exercise logs or calendars and if you insist, some way to measure your body composition. Find out what works for you and use it!

Find support

Nothing is harder than trying to make a life style change around people who are content with sitting on the couch eating an entire box of donuts right in front of your face.  You have to keep convincing yourself that you don’t want that glazed donut as sweat drips down your eyebrow and your hands are gripping the seat cushions for dear life.  You don’t need to get rid of these friends, but you can look for other people who have similar interest.  Better yet, share your goals with your friends and family and I bet you would be surprise how many people will jump on board with you. Having support in a challenging change will help you through the tough times and keep you accountable.

Ask for help

I get that we all want to have independence in every aspect of our life and we want to do this ourselves, but if you keep trying and nothing changes maybe it is time for a come-to-Jesus moment and get real with yourself; you need help! Suck it up, get it together and hire a Personal Trainer. Is it expensive? Well, that depends on who you ask but what is more expensive? Investing on a few months of training to grow and change as a person or the medical bills you are going to have to pay for years from now because you refused to invest in your health and personal fitness goals?  Be proactive with your health not reactive.  Learn from your trainer, ask questions, nag them with little shit because that is what they are there for – they dedicate their life to this.   It’s their job for crying out loud!  Stop trying to be a professional in a field you know nothing about and let the Professionals help you.  What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results…? Yea, get yo shit togetha! Ask for help and use it as a learning opportunity to take with you for the r e s t  o f  y o u r  l i f e .

 

No matter what your goal is and how you chose to stay on track remember that you are human.  There is no fool-proof way to get to your finish line and what you are striving for consists of behavioral changes.  Your body won’t change over night and your love for broccoli over potato chips won’t just switch in a blink of an eye.  You are not perfect; give yourself a break when you mess up and give yourself kudos on the small changes.  Those small changes add up to the big picture.

Set your goal, know your why, find support and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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