Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm BACK!!!

Yes, it's been over a year since I've posted. Ugh. However, it' not a function of being a slacker, I can say that for sure!!!

This year, I became the figure coach with Cathy Savage Fitness!! This job has me training/dieting girls from all over the country, even some international girls! This job has kept me very busy with a lot less focus on myself and more focus on my team! I had the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas with my team for the Fitness America Pageant! After training and dieting these ladies for several months, tt was awesome to see these ladies on stage!

Back in April, I competed in my first Pro Fitness show, the NY PRO FITNESS in NYC. I had a great time, traveling with my husband and fellow IFBB pro Julie Costa! It was a great experience, Pro shows are so very different than the amateurs! You really feel like someone special there, just the way you are treated :) I did not place, but the level of competitors here are just amazing. I'm blessed to have shared the stage with the top names in the industry like Tanji Johnson! She's just an amazing, beautiful, and friendly person!

Through the year, I continued to work as a PT. I expanded my expertise to include treating women's health. It's so rewarding to be able to help this population! I've also continued to develop my personal training business. Personal training just exploded after my pro show! My service includes driving to my clients' homes, training them and helping with their diets. So much fun , I love my clients so much. They motivate me more than anything!

That is my year is a small nutshell :) Being December, I'm setting goals for 2011.
Here are a few that I'm thinking of:

1. Compete in the spring or early summer in fitness or figure, or both!
2. Sell my condo and move! (yes, we tried that this year but couldn't sell)
3. Continue to develop my training business!
4. Get my website up,
5. Regularly write on my blog to help me focus on myself.

This year, I'm putting the "me first" philosophy back into place. I know this sounds selfish, but I'm now a true believer that you cannot help others until you help yourself. Whether it's physical or mental, you need to "have it together" before you can help others. I want to be the best I can be helping others with their fitness aspirations, so that means I need to be 100% on target with mine!

So, I'm off to the gym!

Lauren :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Survival!!!

Happy Holidays!

Well, here we go! It's Thanksgiving morning and the official start of the Holiday season! The next four weeks to Christmas will feel like a race for all of us...planning, shopping, cooking, eating, celebrating! It's a great time of year, but we can certainly lose touch with our bodies with all the hustle going on this time of year. But, I'm vowing to keep my sanity and avoid the 7lb average weight gain that most Americans gain during the Holiday season! So, I want to share with you some tips for the next four weeks.

KEEP EXERCISING: Plan you exercise for the week. Put it into your schedule like you would put a doctor's appointment or spa appointment in your calender. It's an appointment to yourself, don't let ANYTHING get in the way of this appointment! For me, I'm going to workout on my lunch breaks at work 2x/week, before work 2x/wk, then 2x on the weekend!

BROWN BAG YOUR LUNCH AND SNACKS: Or, should I say, put your stuff in a cooler and keep it at your desk! I don't know what happens at your office, but at mine people are constantly bringing in treats and putting in our staff office. I know that if I'm busy and hungry, I will tend to reach for the treats rather than walk back to our break room fridge where I keep my food. Having a cooler RIGHT THERE will help me avoid this temptation!

KEEP EATING: When there is an event or party, we tend to say, "well, I just won't eat all day because I'm going to eat a lot this evening". WRONG! Eat normally during the day so that you don't binge at night because you are starving!!

DRINK WATER: Stay hydrated! Alcohol, high sodium foods, stress, etc. can really take a toll on us. Staying hydrated is very important and will also keep us feeling full. When at a holiday party, for every alcoholic drink you have, have a glass of water with it!

WEAR TIGHT CLOTHES: I love this one!!! Just a few days ago, I said to myself, "I'm going to wear my leggings because they are stretchy and I won't have to worry about being uncomfortable after eating because my jean will be too tight!" That's until I saw this tip myself, what a great idea! If you wear tight or really fitted clothes, it may defer you from overeating because if you do, you will not be very comfortable!

DON'T PLAN A NEW YEARS DIET!!!: This is a great one. Most Americans say to themselves, "starting January 1st, I'm going on a diet!" C'mon now...I bet the success rate for these "dieter's" is in the single digits! If you have this mentality, then you WILL splurge over the holidays. Watch what you eat starting NOW and include daily exercise NOW.

Avoiding the holiday weight gain through good eating and exercise IS POSSIBLE this holiday season. Anyone who says it's not possible or says that there is no time to exercise just plain hasn't tried.

Please share any tips you may have for the holidays!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Changing your Physique

I want to talk briefly on exercise for physique improvement. There are several reasons why people exercise: to be healthy, to increase energy, to combat disease, to change one's appearance, etc. While all these reasons are good, I know that for most of us, being human, we want to look good!! We may not say it outright, but it's true. Appearance is important in our culture...just look at the money we spend on clothes, cosmetics, supplements, and cosmetic procedures! Supplement companies make BILLIONS of dollars a year! Fat burners, protein drinks, muscle building supplements, etc. are all things that we could do without, but we buy them and use them for the purpose of achieving our perfect physique.

What I want to discuss here is how you can change your body in the gym....WEIGHT TRAINING!! I don't mean lifting 5lbs for bicep could do that forever and not see a singe change. I mean really pushing yourself to lift heavy, more that you are used to. This is the ONLY WAY that your body will respond and change. And no, you won't get bulky unless your eating way too many calories, then you'll be building muscle and will also have a layer of fat over that muscle.

Women are afraid, I hear it all the time. Believe me will not bulk up if you lift heavy!!! The CRAZIEST thing I hear from women is..."my legs are very muscular, so I don't want to work my legs because they will just get bigger" I could scream when I hear this :( Most of the time, these women can't even squat more than the barbell, they just have a layer of fat on their thighs. Guess what? Want to get rid of that fat??? LIFT heavy with your legs!!! There you go. No secret. Just do it. Don't hurt yourself, start off slow. But please, don't be afraid to lift.

Same goes with cardio. Going out for a run, 30 minutes, steady pace, everyday, will do very little for those desiring physique change. Instead, do intervals! For instance, I went out yesterday for a run with all intentions of just going at a steady pace and taking the easy way out. But, after 6 minutes, I decided to turn my session into a rockin' HIIT session! I sprinted for 45 seconds, and walked for 1 minute. I was exhausted after doing 12 intervals! I felt SO GOOD after though. Today, I feel sore in all the right places...Calves, hams, hip flexors, obliques. I know that by doing this, I'm making changes in my legs while burning a ton of calories and fat!!!

In closing, please challenge yourself and hit the weights hard. Don't be afraid, I promise that you'll see beautiful changes!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Love/Hate Relationship with Cardio

I don't know about you guys, but I can honestly say that I dread cardio. The thought of running on a treadmill, stepmill, elliptical, makes me want to cry. Despite my loathing of this, I've always done what I had to do and within 10 minutes of being on the machine, I would be in a groove and killing it with some sort of intervals or I would get confirmation of my hatred and just get off.

Now, skipping cardio on a day that I'm supposed to do it during contest prep is a sin, so that just doesn't happen. I'd mentally chain myself to the treadmill/stepmill/elliptical and go through the motions. I mean, at least it was something and I could check it off my workout "to do" list. If I skipped it, it would totally wreck my plan for the whole week! And when your schedule is so tight, you're low on carbs and high on stress, any missed workouts can really devastate you mentally!!

All I can say is thank God for the off season!!! This is the time where I cut that type of cardio out, unless I'm going for a run with friends or something like that! Instead, I'm doing sessions loaded with drills: plyos, body weight exercises, sprinting drills, etc. These session are lovingly called "Fitness Girl Workouts" by my Cathy Savage crew! So, I do a FGW 2x per week and it kicks butt! So fun and you can tell that your just burning a ton of calories! All I need is a 30' space and there I go! Minimal to no equipment is required. These type of workouts not only gave me great conditioning, but I believe they played a HUGE role in my physique transformation this last contest prep before I won my pro card.

I really started doing these workouts back in January, when I discovered Dynamics Strength and Conditioning gym in Nashua NH. I have to give props to Kevin and Michele (owners) who really know their stuff!!! I'm grateful to them for starting me on my conditioning program. I highly recommend people in the southern NH area to check them out.

In closing, Thanksgiving is in two weeks!!! As a little facebook project, everyday I will be posting what I am thankful/grateful for as my status. I challenge you to do the same :)

Have a great weekend!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recipes I Live By

Those of you who know me well know that there are some things that I'm ALWAYS eating when dieting for a show. I'm not a cook and I'm not very creative when it comes to food, but I try! I mean, there is only so much you can do during contest prep to make food interesting. I want to talk about some meal ideas that are clean enough to be eaten during contest prep, and if you aren't being as strict, there are ways that you can jazz up these dishes to make them more appealing. These recipes are all one serving.
People always ask me "what do you eat??" Well, here it is....

Oatmeal and Egg White Pancakes

5 egg whites
1/2 cup oatmeal
dash cinnamon
1 packet Splenda
Butter Spray ("I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" is my favorite)
2T sugar free syrup

Heat a non stick skillet. Mix the egg whites, oatmeal, cinnamon and splenda in a small mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into the skillet making a small pancake. Cook 2 minutes then flip. Serve with butter spray and or syrup. Add strawberries or sliced bananas on top.
During contest prep, omit the syrup and use only a 1/2 packet of splenda or none at all. Spray lightly with butter. If you are short on time and running to work, wrap them in foil and eat while commuting!
Double the recipe and save some for the next morning or later in the day when you need a quick healthy meal!

Turkey Taco Salad

1 package extra lean ground turkey
chili seasoning
1/2 onion finely chopped
green bell pepper cut in strips
romaine lettuce
low fat Mexican blend cheese
1/2 avocado
1 tomato, diced
1 T flax or olive oil

Cook the ground turkey fully in large skillet. Add chili powder, salt, pepper (or you can use a taco seasoning packet that's low sodium). Prepare salad with romaine lettuce, tomato, green pepper, 1/2 avocado. Put 1 cup of the turkey on top of the salad. Sprinkle with cheese and drizzle olive oil on top. During strict dieting, I'll take out the cheese, avocado, tomato. I'll use flax oil instead of olive oil.

Baked Salmon with Asparagus

4oz Wild Salmon
Dill seasoning
8 asparagus spears
Pam cooking spray

Pre-heat oven to 400. Spray a baking pan lightly and put the fish on it. Season fish with the dill seasoning mix (I buy this at Hannafords, it's an all natural seasoning mix). Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil on them. Lightly salt and pepper. Cook both in the oven until the fish is done and the asparagus is slightly crunchy (I love it this way!) Garnish with lemon and sprinkle a bit of parmasean cheese on the veggies. If I'm dieting, I'll using cooking spray instead of olive oil on the asparagus, and I will not use cheese.

That's it for now! I'll be posting more recipes at a later time :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Accepting My Off Season

It's that time of year, the "off season". It's been over a month since my competition. Right after a show, many competitors induldge in the foods that they've deprived themselves of for so long. While I certainly indulged, I did so with moderation. My daily diet remained very healthy with lean protein, clean carbohydrates, and good fats. I enjoyed a lot of fruit and introduced low fat yogurts and other dairy products. I did not experience the bad bloating, skin breakouts, and mood swings that happened to me last year during my off season! I made sure that I wasn't going to go through that again! I kept in mind that I needed to come out of my diet by reversing it, going from very strict to how I ate one week, then two weeks, then three weeks out from my show. This worked great and I gained back a healthy 5 lbs. But, I know that this needs to change. When you diet, you obviously lose fat, but also muscle too. As much as you try to minimized muscle loss, it will happen. And that's why a competitors "off season" is so important. I will use my offseason to increase my muscle mass as much as I can in the areas that the judges said I needed to be thicker. I was told that I needed a thicker back and upper chest, so that is what I will focus on. So, here is my plan (which may change in a few weeks depending on how I'm responding).

I will do 5 days of lifting, 2 fitness workouts (to keep my conditioning up for my routine, and this is also good cardio), and 2 HIIT cardio workouts per week and 2 slow, steady cardio workouts per week. I will continue to work on my mandatory moves 2-3 times a week and stretch daily.

My split will be:
Sunday: Legs with a quad/glute focus followed immediatly by 20 minutes HIIT on stairmaster (legs should be shot after this!!)
Monday: Treadmill walking at 12% incline for 30 minutes in AM, heavy shoulder workout in PM, stretch
Tuesday: Fitness workout in the morning, practice mandatories, stretch
Wednesday: Heavy back workout focusing on pull ups in various hand positions, followed up with biceps using lighter weight, higher reps
Thursday: Legs focusing on hamstrings and calves, followed by 20 minutes of sprints
Friday: Treadmill walking at highest incline for 30 minutes in the morning, and then heavy chest workout followed by triceps in the PM
Saturday: Fitness workout, practice mandatories, stretch

I will see how this goes for the next week, and then adjust as needed. As far as nutrition, I'm going to follow of 40/40/20 split (40%carb/40%pro/20%fat), keeping my calories around 2300/day.

That's all for now!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Discussion on Calories

When I started my blog a week ago, my thought was to only talk about my experiences as a competitor. But, my life involves so much more than that! So, I need to discuss this topic because it's so important for my clients and myself to understand....calories!! For the purpose of this entry, I'm going to refer to the average American who has a desk job, and does exercise 3 days a week at a light to moderate intensity.

I get this question all the time. "How many calories do I need a day to lose weight??"

Okay, so your body burns a certain amount of calories per day, regardless of how active you are. You can be lying on your sofa and do nothing else but breath and blink your eyes, and you are burning calories. The calories you burn here is your "basal metabolic rate" (BMR). Everybody's BMR is different depending on several factors like your size, and the amount of lean body mass you have. For example, a person who is 200lbs with 7% body fat is going to have a higher BMR than a person who is of the same weight and has 20% body fat. Just by having more muscle, a person's BMR is higher.

There are a lot of ways to calculate your BMR. You could go to an exercise physiology lab and have it measured. There are also calculations that exist where you can determine your BMR based on your lean body mass, and others that calculate it based on weight, height, and age. Finding out your lean body mass is really important in determining your BMR...age, height, and weight alone will be inaccurate for most elite athletes or those holding a high level of muscle mass. A good calculation for the general public to determine BMR is:

BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

So, once you've determined your BMR, you have to factor in how active you are. This includes your job, sports, recreation, etc. This will add additional calories onto your BMR value.

The simple fact is that if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you consume less than you burn, you will lose weight. You will lose or gain muscle weight and fat. Lets talk about over consumption first...

If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. For the average American, usually this is not the goal. But for someone who is underweight, training for a bodybuilding competition, or in the off season for their sport, one may want to do this. However, one has to be careful that they are maximizing muscle gain and minimizing fat gain (both will happen, you can't have one without the other). Exercise that includes resistance training, overloading the muscle, will maximize muscle gain. Now remember, the more muscle you have, the higher your BMR. You will have to adjust your diet accordingly. Food that you'll need to eat are high protein, low fat foods such as chicken, egg whites, fish, complex carbs, etc. There will come a time when you've reached your goal with your weight or your lean body mass, and you'll need to maintain it or reverse it and cut down a bit like at the start of your season, or in prep for a bodybuilding/fitness/figure competition....

If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Now this is usually the goal of most Americans. But, again, one has to be careful. If a person drops their calories below their BMR, or drops too low for too long, their metabolism will slow down. This is because they will likely lose a good amount of muscle mass, their BMR will slow down, and they will have to keep lowering their calorie intake. Now, you have a very low BMR, and your sick of "dieting" so, you decide..."the hell with it, I want to go to the cheesecake factory" and you proceed to have a meal that is 2500 calories if not more. The problem is is that your BMR is so low, it has no need for all those calories, so will store most of it as fat. Now, if your BMR wasn't so would use more if it for energy and less fat would be stored. Make sense???

Moral of the story, DON'T drop your calories below your may lose weight initially, but research does show that keeping your intake above your BMR will result in more permanent fat loss.

Thanks for reading!!