Last night I was training a new client of mine and at one point during our session we were doing some modified push-ups on a stability ball. After the first set of push-ups she says, “Uh if I wasn’t so fat I would probably be able to do this.” Now this really bothered me. Sure, if she was lighter or more in shape maybe she would be able to do more push-ups, but that is besides the point. Why? Well first of all, isn’t that why she came to me in the first place? To improve her fitness? Secondly, how is calling yourself fat going to help you do more push-ups? It’s not.
I’ve been personal training for a few years now, and if there is one thing I hate, (other than my clients not following their diets) is when they speak negatively about themselves. It bothers me so much! Every time I catch any of my clients saying anything negative about themselves like “I’m fat,” or “I suck.” Anything like that, I always nip it in the bud. I stop them, and tell them that I don’t like hearing it. At first, a lot of my clients don’t get it. They’re like, “but it’s true?” Or, “it’s not about you, it’s about me. So why does it bother you so much?” And the answer is this, whether or not it may be true, or whether or not it is directed towards me, it is neither positive or productive. Making fun of yourself, cutting yourself down will get you no where fast. It is not motivating, it is demotivating. Why would you be so quick to cut yourself down when you’re trying to build yourself up? Sure, you may not be able to do push-ups now, but that doesn’t mean that it always has to stay like that! If you made the steps to seek out help, or even to come to the gym to better yourself in some way, then that’s awesome! Don’t rain on your own parade and call yourself names, it just doesn’t make sense.
I’m not saying that you need to be in denial of your current state, clearly you’re not happy with where you’re at. But isn’t that why you came to make a change? If you want to be happy, well, first it starts with you. You need to stop punishing yourself, and start rewarding and encouraging yourself. If you have made the steps towards change, and you’re serious about it, then it is only up from here. You can only get better, if you stay consistent and committed. It is difficult, however, to stay committed if you’re constantly fretting about the way you are now. Yes, it will suck sometimes, and yes it’s going to be fricken hard, but hey! As Mary Poppins once said, “a spoon full of sugar, helps the medicine go down!” So stay positive, keep smiling, you don’t have to be fat or out of shape forever. You have the power to make that change, but you have to believe in yourself first! You need to be your biggest advocate for change, if you don’t believe in it, how is anyone else supposed to? You can do it, remember that 🙂
Now, you may have read the title of this post and thought to yourself, “how is this possible? Doesn’t weight training make you manly, or bulky?” These are some of the myths that intimidate women from the weight rack, and even though many women know better, they are still worried about getting too big. So they say things like, “I just want to be toned.” However, there is no such thing as “toning” your body in the gym. There are only two things you can accomplish in the gym when it comes to your physique. You can either lean out or build size aka muscle. You cannot “tone.” I wrote a blog post not too long ago called “Toned? Or Skinny? Toned, the new word for skinny…” https://alexrinaldo.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/toned-or-skinny-toned-the-new-word-for-skinny/ Basically, in this article I talk about how when most women say they want to be toned, what they really mean is that they want to be smaller. They want to lean out, however, when you lean out and you don’t have a solid muscle base, you actually just look skinny. If you want to look defined, well you need to get lean, and build muscle, it’s as simple as that.
So the real question here is, how did you enhance your feminine shape through weight training? Well first of all, I’ve always had a decent butt from skating, dancing, and cheerleading. However, bodybuilding, and serious weight training has only made my butt higher, bigger, and rounder. And let’s be real, who doesn’t love a great ass?! Bodybuilding has enhanced my feminine shape and curves in my lower body. Now, many of you may be thinking, well everyone knows that you can build a great ass in the gym… But what if I told you I’ve built myself more of an hour glass shape in the gym as well? Unfortunately it is not possible to grow your boobs in the gym, but you can make your waistline appear smaller in proportion to your back and shoulders. How do you do that? Well you grow your lats, and your delts, creating what bodybuilders call a V-taper. So if you have a V-taper, combined with a great butt and legs, you have now created an X shape or an hourglass shape. This can all be built in the gym, you can build your back, shoulders, legs, and butt in the gym, through some consistent, and heavy weight lifting, and the proper nutrition to sustain proper growth and muscle retention. Obviously genetics play a small role. It is much easier to create a more dramatic V-taper if God gave you a smaller waist naturally. Us women come in many shapes, however, this does not mean that you cannot make your waistline appear smaller in proportion to your shoulders, because you can! And you do that by lifting weights!
Still scared of weight training? You probably are, it is intimidating I agree. I was once intimidated from weight training when I first got into fitness. Coming from a dance background, I was not familiar with weight training at all. However, now that I have educated myself and really became serious about it, I will never look back! It saddens me really that so many women are scared of getting stronger. It’s as if they’re afraid of losing their femininity, and therefore no longer being attractive to the opposite sex. But I’m more muscular now than I’ve ever been, and trust me, boys still find me attractive 😉 No worries there! And like I said, if anything I’ve only enhanced my hour glass shape, only making me look curvier and more feminine. My muscles, and my strength empowers me like you wouldn’t believe! Fitness in general empowers me! Never have I felt more confident and capable in everything that I do. I love looking in the mirror LOL as narcissistic as that may sound but I do. I worked so hard for my body, and I am so proud of what I see. I built this body, it is my temple, and every day I work on making it stronger, and better. Ladies, don’t you want that? Don’t you want to feel a great sense of pride every time you look in the mirror? Don’t you want to love what you see? So many girls say they do, but they really don’t, and most of the time it is out of fear.
If you want the real truth girls, here it is… Most of you do not train often and consistent enough for you to see any real muscle growth. So the chances of you ever getting “bulky” is slim to none. Secondly, the majority of you do not eat properly to sustain any real muscle growth either. Many of you, I believe are quite naive when it comes to weight training. A lot of you underestimate the amount of work it takes to get any real size on your body, because let me tell you, it takes a HELL OF A LOT! I literally workout everyday! I weight train 6 times a week! It is not magic that my body looks the way that it does. It has taken me over a year to have the body that I do today. So, what I’m telling you is that you will NEVER get manly or bulky from weight training. Especially if you’re not using any chemical drugs to enhance your muscle growth. Please, stop worrying, and start lifting anything heavier than your purse! Don’t even think about grabbing those two pound dumbbells! It feels good to be strong, trust me 😉 And it looks good too! But that’s just my opinion…
Hey Guys! So the holidays are over, and it is the beginning of a New Year! Most of us are looking forward to exciting plans and new beginnings for the year 2016. In addition, I’m sure that a lot of us are happy to get back into our regular eating and workout routines now that the celebrations are over. I know I am!! Which brings me to my first topic of the New Year. I’m sure a lot of us have fitness goals planned for ourselves this year, but I’m not sure if many of you know the affect alcohol can have on your fitness goals… other than the obvious. So, I made a list of the top three! Now don’t let the titles of each point fool you! There’s bits of information in there that I’m sure many of you didn’t know alcohol could do!
When you’re drunk or while you’re drinking you tend to eat more!
I’m sure we’re all quite aware of this, especially if you’re drinking on a regular basis. However, I’m sure that most of you are not aware that it is because alcohol has no nutritional value, it stimulates our appetites. So not only are you drinking empty calories, it stimulates your appetite for foods that are high in fat and sugar. In addition, because alcohol loosens our inhibitions, we stop thinking about the negative affects that alcohol has, and we also stop worrying about our diets. Basically alcohol torpedoes your diet to put it lightly. Drinking alcohol is a social event, this means that it is usually accompanied by food, and party food is mostly unhealthy food. So you’re drinking empty calories, you become hungry, you loose your inhibitions, and there just happens to be plenty of party food around, so basically set yourself up for failure. But that’s not all! And this is where the not so obvious affects of alcohol come in. Certain types of alcohol like wine, and beer have sugars in them aka carbs. Or if you’re mixing your alcohol with juice, pop (soda), or any other sugary drink, you’re increasing your blood sugar levels, as well as your blood alcohol levels. As you keep mixing, or drinking your wine, your blood sugar levels keep rising. Even if you didn’t eat any drunk food that night, (pizza, burgers, fries, the list goes on) your insulin levels will still stay pretty high because of all the sugars you drank from a night of binge drinking. That means the next day, because your insulin levels are still above normal, you will crave hangover foods the next day. Hangover foods are the same as drunk food, high carb and high fat meals. So even if you don’t eat party food the night you’re drinking, you are very likely to eat comfort foods the next day. This is one of the many reasons why drinking and dieting do not mix!
2. Alcohol Lowers Testosterone Levels
A lot of women reading this article might be thinking, what does this have to do with me? Ladies, even though we have lower testosterone than males, doesn’t mean we don’t need it! Testosterone has a strong fat burning effect, however, this is reduced once you consume alcohol. In addition, testosterone is much needed in growing lean body tissue. If alcohol reduces your testosterone, it will decrease your potential for lean gains, and if you have less muscle, that will mean it will slow down your metabolic rate aka your metabolism. Lower testosterone will slow down your metabolism, decrease your ability to burn fat, and it will decrease your ability to make gains in the gym… basically alcohol makes you fatter in more ways than one. Also boys? If you’re afraid of getting man boobs, then you may want to think of reducing how often and how much alcohol you drink! Over a period of time if you keep up your heavy drinking, you will quicken the aromatization of androgens into estrogen in the body, giving you many boobies. and nobody wants that!
Again, this may seem pretty obvious to you, but dehydration along with lower testosterone levels, decrease your body’s ability to synthesize proteins. Alcohol dehydrates your muscle tissue, making it more difficult for it to absorb protein and grow. Along with lower testosterone levels, this further weakens your body’s ability to increase lean muscle tissue, and therefore further decreases your body’s ability to burn fat. In addition, because your muscles are dehydrated it is much more difficult for them to contract. This makes your workouts that much more difficult the day after a night of drinking. Alcohol weakens your gym performance, your body’s ability to absorb protein, and grow muscle. This will only take you further away from reaching your fitness goals, not to mention all the calories in alcohol, as well as the drunk/hangover food too! Lastly, when your body is dehydrated it blocks essential nutrients that are key to muscle contraction, relaxation, and growth. These nutrients include minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. Dehydration makes you feel tired and weak. This is why hangovers suck so much!
So, it’s a new year, and if you have any fitness plans this year, I would consider putting down that glass of wine! Drinking is fun, but it is not necessary. I can say that, because the vast majority of the year I’m not drinking, and somehow I still have friends believe it or not! They enjoy drinking, and that’s fine, but for me, my fitness is far more important to me. I love being social, so I will still find ways to have fun with my friends without a drink in my hand. That is a personal choice of mine. Not many people can do that, and that is OK too! But if our fitness goals are important to you, then maybe you should consider going out less? It is your body and if you want to feel good living in it, then sometimes it’s not worth another Friday night at the bar.
Merry Fitmas boys and girls! The question of the day is, can I save or make up calories? There is a myth out there that has people believing that if they binged the day before, that they can somehow make up for all those extra calories the next day by eating less. People also believe this about sleep. There is the myth that if you partied, or stayed up super late one night, that you can catch up on your sleep later on. The truth of the matter is, you cannot make up your sleep, just like eating less the next day after binge eating is NOT the answer to making up for those excess calories!
No matter how much you may have drifted from your diet and your macro-nutrient count the one day, does not change the amount of calories that you need to function properly the next day. The amount of daily calories you need doesn’t change because you made the mistake of overeating, just like the amount of sleep your body requires a day doesn’t change because you under-slept. Overeating and under sleeping are setbacks, and the only thing you can do is leave it in the past, and move on. If you overate yesterday, then it is your mission today to stick to your daily calorie/macro-nutrient allowance, and leave the past in the past. Accept that you made a mistake and MOVE ON! Do not punish yourself the next day by eating less. This will only increase the chances of your binge eating again. I’ve written an article about this before, this cycle of under eating and binge eating will only keep your body looking the same, and feeling like sh!t. So don’t do it! You will still lose weight, if that is your goal, only if you leave your mistakes in the past, continue to eat consistently with your diet (sticking to your macro-nutrients to a tee), and workout.
The best thing that you can do if you overate the day before, is to workout, and like I said before, stick to your macro-nutrient goals for the day! Eat a lot of veggies, and make sure to have some fiber (or a fiber supplement) to help bind to the sugar left in your stomach so that you can rid of it more quickly. If you don’t know how much you should be eating a day, or what your macro-nutrients are, then ask me LOL Or any other professional who knows how to help you figure these things out. Happy Holidays guys! This post is NOT AN EXCUSE TO OVEREAT!! It’s just to bust the myth that you can somehow make up for it by under eating the next day 🙂
Most people assume that in order to lose weight, you need to eat less. However, perpetual under-eating is not the answer! Weight loss is not always that simple. Actually, keeping yourself on a caloric deficit for too long is not only unhealthy, you will eventually plateau and stop seeing results. In addition, starving yourself by under eating will also have you binge eating on the weekends or late at night. You’re probably already doing this! And binge drinking counts! Alcohol is a bunch of empty calories that spike your insulin levels just like binge eating on ice cream would!
This constant cycle of “trying” to eat well and diet, then binge eating, followed by food guilt and regret, then back to calorie restriction will keep you at the same weight if not fatter. You will never see the results you want, and you will constantly feel like garbage because you think you’re “dieting” and “trying your best,” but really you’re just keeping yourself in this vicious psychological drama of food punishment, then reward, followed by guilt/regret, and then more self-punishment. WHY?!?!?!? PLEASE STOP! RIGHT NOW! It is not positive, and it’s definitely not productive! This type of behavior is very detrimental not only to your physical health, but your mental health as well. You are cultivating a negative relationship with food, with this punishment/reward drama. Suddenly healthy food becomes a chore, something unpleasant that you don’t want to eat, and all the food that you reward yourself with like cake, or burgers, become the foods that you only want to eat. But, even though you want to eat these foods, you know you shouldn’t, or that you “can’t” because you’re fat…That is a whole pile of psychological warfare that you just unleashed on yourself, will only keep you fat, and miserable. Why do that to yourself?! When there’s literally so many people out there willing to do that for you? LOL You really need to be your biggest advocate, not your worst enemy! Especially when you’re trying to change your life in a positive way! You need to start believing that you deserve to be happy, and that you can have the body you want. Once you start believing that you can have better, you will start to change your behavior and the way you treat yourself. This will ultimately have a positive impact on your relationship with food.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you that you may be going about weight loss completely wrong, then let me drop some more knowledge on you! Severe calorie restriction, depletion diets, and Ketosis are very effective for quick, short-term weight loss. For example, these were some of the tactics that I used to prepare me for my last Bodybuilding show. I lost 40 lbs in 4 months. However, I would not recommend this to the average person. First of all, it is very difficult! It is both mentally and physically challenging, and most people do no have the will power, and the discipline to stick to the diet without cheating. Again, if you calorie restrict like I did for my show, but you cheat and binge eat, then this sort of diet will not work, and you will not see the results you’re looking for. Secondly, you will not be able to maintain this way of eating for a long time. This is why most bodybuilders who prep for shows only diet strictly for 3-4 months maximum to get stage ready. And when a bodybuilder has a cheat meal, or re-feed meal, it is planned, and controlled to a single meal. This meal will help the athlete continue to loose weight by shocking the body and raising leptin levels. Again, this is a planned meal to help further the athlete’s weight loss. In addition, these athletes are doing depletion workouts, and they are training the entire time they are prepping for a show. This is because a bodybuilder, while dieting, is trying to preserve as much muscle as possible.
This is also a short-term weight loss goal! I REPEAT SHORT TERM WEIGHT LOSS! And, if you do end up doing this sort of show prep or strict diet, then you need to reverse diet! It is so important to slowly incorporate all the carbs and fats that you severely restricted in the first place. There are several reasons why it is so important, first of all you don’t want to gain back all the weight you lost and then some! Second, your body will be so sensitive to carbs and fats that your digestion system will have a hard time processing all the excess carbs and fats that it wasn’t used to eating for a while. Basically, you can make yourself sick if you just revert back to your old habits so soon after dieting so hard. Plus yo-yo dieting like this will only weaken your metabolism, making it more difficult for you to lose weight in the future. I can go on and on about the damaging effects of yo-yo dieting, but basically every time you do a crazy diet, hit your goal, fall back into your old ways, then go back on a crazy diet, you are not only damaging your health, but making it more and more difficult for you to lose weight in the future.
One of the comparison photos my coach made showcasing my 40 lb weight loss for my show
Moreover, under-eating will only weaken your body slowly over time. Keeping yourself in a constant calorie deficit will force your body to rid itself of muscle and store more body fat. This is because your body is adapting to being starved on a regular basis, and because muscles burn more calories than fat, muscle tissue becomes a liability and therefore your body will literally eat itself, as gross as that sounds. LOL So, as you continue to starve yourself, your body loses muscle, becomes weaker, and therefore “fattier.” You may not grow in size right away, but your body’s metabolism, strength, and endurance, all get depleted. Now that you are weaker, slower, and fattier, when you eventually binge eat, or cheat on your diet, those excess calories stick to your body as fat more easily. Your body’s metabolism is slower, and weaker so it is not able to burn through all the cake and ice cream you decided to “reward” yourself with.
If you’re looking for long-term results, and long-term weight loss that will actually last, then your diet must be both moderate and consistent. Stop punishing yourself and your body with crash diets, and severe long-term calorie restriction and binge eating. Eat foods you actually like to eat! Don’t force yourself to eat foods that you hate just because you think they’re healthy! Making manageable, positive changes to your diet will be more effective in the long-term. Healthy eating, and eating within your macro-nutrients needs to become a part of your lifestyle. Meaning that the VAST majority of the time you are eating well, and within your caloric and macro-nutrient limits for the day.You need to understand that eating well should not be a chore, it should be something that you and your body deserve! Candy, cheesecake, whatever you like eating the most, only tastes good while you’re eating it… What I mean to say is, is that the feeling of happiness you get from eating these foods only lasts as long as you eat them! However, the endorphins you get from working out last way beyond the workout itself. The feeling of pride, and accomplishment from reaching your fitness goals, last forever! When you know you’re eating well, sticking to your macro-nutrients, working out, and basically taking care of yourself LOL You take pride in that. You’re not ashamed of what you’re eating, or embarrassed because you’re not doing the things you know you should do. If anything, when people are taking care of themselves, especially nowadays, they are literally broadcasting it everywhere! Taking photos of their healthy food, and gym selfies galore! LOL When you finally feel good in your own skin, no one can take that away from you! The happiness, confidence, and pride you feel never goes away (unless you find some way to take it away from yourself). Your peers will recognize and admire this pride, and self-respect. Positivity breeds positivity!
In conclusion, if you really want to make a change in your life for the better. If you want to lose weight, for whatever reason, stop punishing yourself! Stop talking negatively about yourself, stop starving yourself, and start to treat yourself and your body with respect. As I have quoted in this blog before “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in,” Jim Rohn. If you need help figuring out how much you should be eating a day, or even what foods to eat in general, then talk to a nutritionist, dietician, or accomplished fitness professional who can help you get on the right track. There are so many resources that exist that there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to do your own learning when it comes to nutrition and food. Take an interest in your health! It is the most valuable thing you can own! There are tools like MyFitnessPal that are extremely helpful, and Google LOL And well there is me haha you can always ask me. I always do my best to help spread the wealth! There’s plenty of knowledge out there, it is your job to seek it out!
I know that everybody wants to have abs. Everybody wants to have a tight waistline, but I feel like most people have given up on this hope for a better body, and accepted this idea that they just won’t ever have abs… But that’s not necessarily true! Most of us can really have the body that we want, the questions is however, how badly do you want it? Do you want it badly enough that you feel as though you need it? I’m not saying that you need abs to be beautiful or anything like that, but if you really want to improve your fitness, and your overall physique with a tighter waistline well here are some ways to go about it:
First of all, you’re not getting the waistline you want because of your diet. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat!” You need to be very mindful of not only how much you eat, but what you eat. When it comes to getting the flat stomach you’re looking for, abs are made in the kitchen. You need to track your food. When I’m not on show prep where my diet is very strict, repetitive, and simple, I use my fitness pal to make sure that I’m staying within the boundaries of my macro-nutrient count for the day without going over. My Fitness Pal is a great tool that is free to use! It keeps you focused, and in control of your diet. Plus, it’s so easy to use! My tip for My Fitness Pal is to use it only to track your food! DO NOT LOG IN YOUR WORKOUTS! It will count that and give you extra calories to eat… that is not a real thing! My Fitness Pal will also set your macro-nutrient and calorie goals based on the weight loss goals that you put in and so on. However, you can alter these goals to your specific needs. I would talk to a coach, nutritionist, or trainer who has a good understanding of how to calculate macros properly so that you can feel good and see the results that you want to see. It’s not just about staying within a certain amount of calories. You can’t eat 1,500 calories worth of just carbohydrates, and expect to have the body you want. You need to make sure that your diet is balanced, that you’re eating the right amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates to maintain the muscle and shape that you want. Be mindful of what you eat, how much you eat, and how balanced your macro-nutrients are in your diet.
Secondly, doing sit-ups and crunches everyday will not shrink your waistline. I see it all the time in the gym, and clients always want to do core work. However, sit ups and all the other fancy ab workouts you see people doing on the gym mats will not do a thing for your physique if you’re not willing to change your diet. Really, you’re just wasting your time burning out your abs, and then eating cake after LOL Why even bother feverishly pumping out a billion leg lifts if you’re not going to preserve the fruits of your labor? Additionally, a lot of people are trying to do ab workouts that are way too advanced for them. Because of this, they end up doing the exercises improperly, therefore straining their back, and engaging their hip flexors more so than their abdominal muscles. If you are going to do core work (which believe me is very good in helping to chisel and shape your abdominal muscles… once your belly fat is gone/low enough to see your hard work) then please, please, please, start at a very basic level of ab work! Especially if you don’t workout on a consistent basis all year round, this basically applies to most of the population… You are not going to impress anyone with fancy workouts that aren’t really targeting your abdominal muscles because you’re not able to engage them properly while doing the exercise. However, you will impress people with your six-pack of abs 😉 So, that being said, if you are looking to target your lower abdominal muscles with leg lifts, (where you’re lying flat on the floor) here are some regression to the exercise that I would start off with:
Lay flat on the floor with your hands flat on the floor by your sides. Lift your feet off the floor and bend your knees at 90 degrees. Keeping your knees bent, lower one leg at a time towards the floor where you simply tap your toe on the floor, and then switch.
If that is too easy, then you can keep your legs bent at 90 degrees over your hips and lower both legs (keeping them bent) towards the floor, tap your toes and bring them back up
Keeping your low back flat against the mat the entire time, you should only feel your abdominal muscles working, if you feel your back at any point during the exercise, re-adjust yourself, roll your hips in towards your rib cage, and squeeze your glutes while performing the exercise to keep your hips in place. If you still feel pain in your back then regress the exercise to the first option above
Again, if both these versions of the exercise are not challenging enough then you can straighten out your legs. First try lowering one straight leg at a time. If that is challenging enough, then stay there. If not, then perform straight leg, leg lifts with both legs at the same time. Always make sure that you’re back is protected by squeezing your glutes and not arching your lower back!
It is important with any exercise that you are performing it properly, and therefore reaping the benefits! There is no point of doing any abdominal exercise a million times, if you’re going to do it a million times wrong! Suck up your pride, and work within your limits, that way as you get stronger, you can start to push your boundaries more.
Lastly, contrary to popular belief, you are working your abs all the time in every exercise, that is if you’re performing the exercises properly, and with good posture. In order to keep your core active, set your shoulders down and back, and stand tall with your chest lifted. Never round your shoulders forward, or round your spine. Don’t tilt your hips back, or push your pelvis too far forward. If you need help adjusting your posture don’t be afraid to ask someone if you’re in the proper position! Fitness Instructors, and/or trainers are more than willing to help you out! Your “core” is the center of your body. It is your back, abdominal muscles, hip flexors, and glutes, all working together to stabilize you as you move through life. Your core basically holds you up, and keeps you upright, and is always firing on and off throughout the day as you move, and exercise. YOU DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO DO AB SPECIFIC WORKOUTS TO TARGET YOUR ABS!!! And if you’re really looking to reduce your lower back pain, and strengthen your core, doing ab workouts is not the only solution. As I mentioned above, your glutes are a major component of your core and if they are weak, or if you are not engaging them properly, then they are affecting your low back pain, and the weakness of your core. So, if you want to improve your core, you must train your glutes, which will ultimately improve your strength, reduce your pain, and work your abs/core.
You can have the body you want, and you can have tight abs boys and girls! The key is to eat according to the body you want, and to exercise regularly! This does not mean you need to just work on your abdominal muscles, NO! You must workout your whole body, and your abdominals will always be involved. You can train your abdominal muscles specifically, but start off with the basics first and then work your way up. This will help to ensure that you are getting an effective core workout, where you are not engaging your hip flexors, and lower back.
So, what is reverse dieting exactly? Basically, when you’re prepping for a show you’re on a very regimented, strict diet to get you as lean and dry as possible for the stage. Normally, on the weekend of the show you are eating high fat, high carb foods to help fill you out and pump you up for the stage. Then, right after the show, most athletes treat themselves, and shock their bodies with a major carb load. Now, reverse dieting is when after all the fun and games of post show celebrations are over, you go back to restricting your calories (mostly calories from carbs and fats). For example, my reverse diet started with 120 g of protein, 50-60 g of carbs, and 30-40 g of fat. Every week I slowly increase the number of carbs and fats. This will allow my metabolism to stay strong, and my body to stay lean. Since I’m so sensitive to carbs and fats right now, the pump I get off so little carbs is unreal! I can really see the benefits of sticking to a reverse diet, and that’s what motivates me to stick to it, but try fitting all the deliciousness that exists into those macros?!? LOL you unfortunately can’t 😦
Coming back from a show is hard… super hard. After my first time doing a show, I was warned about the rebound effect, I was warned about how getting “fluffy” affects your self-esteem, but I didn’t realize how much it would impact me until I was so far into a dirty bulk. Last year after my show I was given a reverse diet plan, but I did not follow it like I should have. When you follow such a strict diet and workout regime to prep for a show, then you get to eat whatever you want post show, it’s really difficult to stop eating. It is more mentally challenging to stay close to your reverse diet after a show then prepping for a show in the first place!
There are many reasons for this. first of all, when you’re prepping for a show, there is a lot less thought and emotion placed on the food you’re eating. This is because, everything you’re eating is for the show. Being ready for the stage is your ultimate goal, so you eat whatever you need to, to be ready for the show. Secondly, your coach tells you what you’re allowed to eat, and what you’re not allowed to eat. All your meals are pre-planned with exact measurements. Literally all you have to do is make sure that you have all the meals that are on your plan, and nothing else. But when you’re done a show, you suddenly have choice when it comes to food! This is both exciting and overwhelming LOL Now you have to pre-plan, and measure all your food to make sure that it fits the macro-nutrients that you’re allowed to have for the day. Now you’re completely responsible for your reverse diet. You need to make sure that you stick to your macros without going over so that you can make “lean gains” and avoid the rebound effect, which basically means you want to avoid getting fat…
This is a lot harder than you think! I did not put much thought into how hard reverse dieting was going to be, or how much coming back from was going to effect my self-concept, and my overall self-esteem. I would honestly say that reverse dieting and coming back from a show is more mentally taxing than anything I’ve ever done… I also think you need to go through it once to really understand how challenging it is! At least, I had to go through it once before, to know that I would do it completely different the second time around. After my first show, I went crazy that weekend and had the time of my life eating and drinking whatever I wanted. Then my coach sent me my reverse diet plan, with a list of macro-nutrients that I was allowed to have, and a list of foods with their basic macro-nutrient breakdown. It was very detailed, and very useful. I glanced at it and thought, “Ok, no problem. I got this! Shouldn’t be too hard to pack this tomorrow…” I was wrong LOL Wow! It was so stressful and overwhelming my first day! I was like… what do I eat? Is this right? Did I measure that right? It took me forever to pack my meals for the day because I kept double checking to make sure I was hitting my numbers properly. I really wanted to be successful with my reverse diet, but even though I made sure that I measured my food properly, and always had my meals prepped, I would still find myself hungry. I didn’t realize that this was supposed to happen, or I guess I didn’t realize at the time that the hunger would be worse post show and that was a good thing LOL
After my first show (November 2014), I would literally find myself binge watching Orange is the New Black with a bag of rice cakes and almond butter, and before I knew it I watched like 3 or more episodes in a row, and the entire bag of rice cakes would be gone… Crumbs and almond butter dribbled all over my shirt LOL it was disgusting! I was a mess! But I literally couldn’t stop myself!! I felt so hungry all the time and I couldn’t shut my brain off from telling me to eat more. Before I knew it, it was New Years Eve, and I was trying to find a dress to wear, and some of my clothes didn’t fit anymore, and others just didn’t feel as good as they used to. I no longer felt like myself, I didn’t feel good in my clothes anymore, and I no longer felt cute. I turned into the whiny chick that everybody hates, asking “Does this dress make me look fat? Do you think I’m fat?” I hated this version of myself! This was not me, I hated feeling so insecure about my body. I swear I haven’t felt that way since First year university when I put on the dreaded “freshman 15” LOL
Eventually, I got over myself and stopped crying about how fat I got. I started to focus more on the fact that I wanted to do Figure in October more than ever. Plus it was the dead of winter, sweaters, and sweatpants were my best friends, and I had a boyfriend at the time so I guess you can say I got quite comfortable with being comfortable LOL Looking back, now that I am coming back from my second show, I’ve realized that I don’t want to be “comfortable” I want to be happy. I want so much more for myself! Reverse dieting is hard, I’m super hungry, and sometimes I really wanted to not count my macros and just EAT! But then I remind myself that I’m better than that. Food isn’t everything, but my happiness, and self-concept is. I don’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself, and wondering how I got fat? And why do I feel so shitty? I want to wake up, look in the mirror and be proud of what I see. I worked so hard to get into Figure and to lose the 40 lbs I needed to do to be ready for the stage on October 10th 2015, and I refuse to let all my hard work go in vain. It is hard to stick to any diet but you need to remind yourself everyday the reasons why it is so important! I have several reasons for staying true to my reverse diet. Not only will it help me mentally and emotionally, but it is not good for your health to have your body weight fluctuate so drastically. This reverse diet is so important for my overall health, my confidence, and my business. I am a Fitness Professional, and I want to be a Pro Bodybuilder one day. I have so many aspirations for myself in this industry, and I know that by sticking to this reverse diet, and maintaining my physique as much as possible during the off-season, will only help to open more doors for me in the future. Plus, I will have much more quality gains in terms of muscle growth if I stay fairly lean this off-season. I have BIG plans for bodybuilding in 2016! Watch out guys! And stay tuned! Cause you’re in for one hell of a ride!
I’ll keep you guys posted during my off-season journey. The goal is to gain no more than 15 lbs!
Me at my first show November 2014, next weekend is my second show and let’s just say the booty has improved 😛
Lately there has been a huge obsession with booty! Boys and Girls, everyone is liking big butts and they cannot lie LOL Sorry! I had to! Anyway, the problem is, is that there are so many myths and misconceptions on how to make your butt look better. There are also so many products out there on the market that claim to “tone” and “shape” your glutes, or make them look higher, rounder, and so on. Now this is coming from a girl who is quite proud of the junk in her trunk! LOL I would say my booty is one of my selling features hahaha or at least it’s remarkable enough for people to remember me by 😉 So I am here to let you in on a few things that you may not have thought about when trying to achieve fuller, rounder, tighter, glutes.
First of all, if glutes and legs are your main focus you should consider training them at least twice a week. You don’t need to train them everyday, and if you trained them properly you shouldn’t be able to train them everyday when you’re trying to grow them. You should give at least a day in between leg sessions for your legs to rest. recover, and grow. If you’re training legs please stop doing the “30 Day Squat Challenge,” or Donkey Kicks with 3 lb weights doing like a million reps. You may feel the burn doing that, but how many reps in did it take for that to happen? Your butt is a very strong and powerful muscle. Actually, your legs (this includes your glutes) are your strongest and most powerful muscle group! They can take a beating! I mean they hold up your weight all day don’t they? Every time you sit and stand up, or climb stairs your legs are pushing your own body weight. So don’t be afraid to lift heavy with proper form (obviously), and a spotter if needed. Superset your leg workouts, give yourself a good pump. An example of a killer superset would be a reverse hack squat, and then 20 seconds of jump lunges. Basically what I’m trying to tell you is, is that putting a 20 lb barbell on your back and doing squats isn’t really doing much… Don’t waste your time doing extremely low weight exercises. Give your legs a challenge!
However, that being said, there are so many people who cannot squat for the life of them OMFG it kills me inside! You need to get depth in your squat to properly engage your glutes and the rest of your legs. Please, please, please, ask for help first before attempting to squat any weight LOL including body weight. If you know any good trainers, coaches, or athletes, like a bodybuilder, a powerlifter, or Olympic weight lifters, someone who knows what they’re doing, have them look at your squat. Let them show you how to do it properly, maybe film their squat? Then film yours so you can see the difference? Maybe work with them on several occasions until you’ve gotten the mobility and depth in your squat so that you can start achieving the results you want!
If you want better glutes, you should do more than just squats. If anything, you should really focus on your posterior chain. A lot of people are quad dominant, and their hamstrings and glutes are flat. There are a variety of exercises that are great for focusing on the hamstrings and glutes. Like single leg hamstring curls, lying hamstring curls, stiff leg deadlifts (lift your toes up on plates to really put an emphasis on your hamstrings), glute bridges, cable kickbacks, and more. Like I said before, if you want your glutes to grow then you should have at least two legs days. In the past I’ve done a more quad focused leg day, and on the second day a more posterior chain focused day. You really want to create balance in your legs. Not only because it looks better, but it will help you perform better inside and outside of the gym.
Now that we’ve discussed common training mistakes, there are other factors that need to be considered when trying to grow your glutes that you may never thought of. For example, many people suffer from what is commonly known as Lower Cross Syndrome. This is where the person has weak abdominals, tight hips flexors, tight lower back, and weak glutes. Lower cross syndrome affects a person’s ability to engage their glutes properly. Many times, the person thinks they’re squeezing their glutes and flexing, but really their cheeks are barely coming together, and if they are, it’s not for long. Lower cross syndrome affects the person’s mobility, this is because their tight hips, and back do not allow them to sit properly in a squat, or achieve the depth they need to properly engage their glutes. If you are not able to perform any exercises properly, then how are you able to achieve the results you want to see? In addition, most people who suffer with lower cross syndrome have really tight hamstrings as well. This will only make mobility that much more difficult, as well as glute activation more difficult. If you think you suffer from lower cross syndrome, there are corrective stretches and exercises that need to be performed before you try to build your legs and glutes!
Last but not least, if you want to have a better looking butt you need to consider your body composition as well. If you’re a naturally lanky and lean individual you need to look at your nutrition. If you want your muscles to grow you need to feed them, and if it is difficult for you to put on weight then you really need to increase your caloric intake and make sure that you’re lifting weights accordingly. Ladies, this means you need to disregard the scale a bit here. I’m not saying jump off the deep end and eat all the cake you want. LOL What I’m saying is increase your protein intake, and your carbs as well. Eat clean nutritious sources of carbs like oats, rice, sweet potatoes, and on a really tough leg day feel free to eat a treat. However, you need to earn your calories in the gym, lift heavy, and eat accordingly. Don’t be afraid of getting “fat” if you’re working hard in the gym, and lifting properly then you should feed your body accordingly. If you are over weight for example, you need to bring down your weight and body fat percentage first. This is because you need to be able to see more of the muscle under your fat to know what you’re working with. Dropping your body fat will automatically improve the shape of your glutes. The leaner you are the easier it is to increase your lean mass aka muscle mass. Your butt is a muscle in case you didn’t know, so if you want to improve their shape and size,you either need to increase your caloric intake or clean up your diet so that you can lean out for your butt to shine. Be honest with yourself, and tailor your diet accordingly.
So, the other day I posted a blog on weight loss and I got some feedback about wanting some advice on making gains. Since summer is officially over, I can’t think of a better time to talk about bulking. Bulking is basically a building phase, where you put your body under construction, wear all the sweaters, lift heavy, and eat all the calories required to build and maintain strength and size. However, there are some key do’s and don’ts to a successful building phase.
Yes, in a building phase you get to eat more calories, and have a little more fun with your food. However, this does not mean you can go to McDonald’s on a regular basis and say “no worries guys, I’m bulking.” If you’re going to have “dirty” food, make sure that food is earned!! Push yourself in the gym, put on extra weight, go for a few more reps, really get yourself a pump and then go and enjoy something delicious like a burger and donut. You can’t just eat like shit, say you’re bulking and not put the work in at the gym. For example, the day of my birthday during my off-season I decided to do a back day because I knew I would get a bunch of treats that day and I really wanted my back to grow. So I pushed myself super hard, I added on weight to my exercises, pushed for more reps, and got a crazy huge pump! When I got home my mom had delicious treats waiting for me from San Remo Bakery. I had a cannoli, a zeppole, and a tiramisu cup with my protein shake post workout 😛 However, there was no guilt felt there!! It was my birthday and hell I earned it! So much so that when I taught Zumba the next night my lats were still so pumped that they chaffed against my tank top! So what I’m trying to say, is that bulking is not just about eating, and eating whatever you want, it’s about putting in the hard work at the gym so you can justify eating the calories required to grow. Plus the cleaner your bulk food is the better you’ll feel in the long-term.
2. You need to have a goal in mind and you need to have a plan. A building phase is the perfect time to improve on your weaknesses. Find out what areas you want to see the most improvement and then develop a plan of execution on how you’re going to improve those areas. A training plan as well as a plan for how you’re going to eat. Make sure you’re getting enough protein, carbs, and fats to help sustain consistent muscle growth. Figure this out based on how much you weigh and how much you want to grow. Then figure out what numbers your should be hitting for your macro-nutrients in order to make that happen. There are a tone of calorie counters, and resources to figure out the protein amounts in foods like chicken and so on. You need to at least be eating 1 g of protein per pound of body weight. When I first started my bulk phase I was eating just under 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight everyday. Make sure you’re hitting your macros, and try not to go over too much either. At first it may be difficult to get all the food in. This is where protein powder and carb supplements can really come in handy! You may be feeling overwhelmed and don’t worry, I found it a bit overwhelming at first! So ask for help! From someone who has done a successful bulk before, a trainer, or coach. But it is very important that you have a plan for your eating, that you’re not just eating whatever. If you want consistent long-term gains, you need to eat consistently. Hit your numbers everyday and you will be successful in putting on muscle.
3. For me, in my bulk phase, my upper body needed a lot of work. I had a good amount of muscle and shape in the glutes and legs, but my arms, shoulders, and back were quite small. So my coach developed a plan where I would hit all of these areas twice a week. I had a back day, a shoulder day, an arm day, a back and bicep day, a shoulder and triceps day, and a leg day. That was my training split. Just because my legs were not a focus does not mean you should completely forget about them!! Boys I’m talking to you!!! TRAIN YOUR LEGS! No girl wants to date a Johnny Bravo first of all LOL and second, most guys need bigger legs anyway, so it should be a point of focus. Plus training your legs will help to improve your gains!! This is because your legs are your biggest muscle group and they help to stimulate an increase in the hormone testosterone. So have a plan, and don’t forget your legs!
4. REST!! Your body needs proper rest to recover and grow! Make sure you’re getting some good sleep and you’re allowing your body enough time between workouts to recover, So if you’re training back one day, train shoulders, then legs, then back and biceps, and so on. Give yourself at least one day in between training the same muscle group.
5. Alcohol… sorry friends but it really hurts you in the gym. I used to love to party, but once I started bodybuilding I’ve really stopped my drinking. Obviously, I don’t drink at all during prep, but even in the off-season I have really cut my drinking down. Not only does it make you feel like shit the next day if you drink too much, it leaves you tired, and dehydrated. Everything becomes so much harder after a night of drinking! Plus, I would rather save calories and eat them, than just drink them away with alcohol. Alcohol is empty calories, and can really add up quickly on a good night! These empty calories will only pack on the fat, and increase your cravings for McDonald’s! Which will only make you more fat LOL and to top it all off, alcohol makes it more difficult for your body to break down fat and it slows down your metabolism. If this doesn’t convince you to slow your roll, then let me tell you how alcohol will also slow down your gains. This is because alcohol decreases testosterone levels and increase estrogen levels in the body, making it harder for your muscles to grow. Plus your body needs to be fully hydrated for your muscles to contract properly and grow. I can go on, but I won’t. Alcohol is fun, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy a night out once in a while, but if you drink on a very consistent basis then you won’t see the results you would like to see in the gym.
Anyway, I have two weeks left of my prep and then soon enough I’ll be back to the drawing board for another building phase! Woo Hoo! I’m so excited for my upcoming show! It’s my first time doing Figure and I’m so proud of the growth I made over the past year from my last show in bikini! Soon, I’ll be enjoying some wicked post show pumps once some carbs are re-introduced into my life! Haha I can’t wait 😀
Educate yourself!! If you’re serious about cutting some weight and keeping it off then you first need to educate yourself about diet and nutrition or seek out professional help! If you have no idea what foods to eat, how food effects your body, or anything about calories and macro-nutrients, then how are you going to get the body you want?! You are what you eat and that cannot be more true! There are so many myths about food and diet, and a ton of marketing out there to have you believe that the boxed items you’re buying on the shelf are actually healthy. NEWS FLASH! MOST PROCESSED FOODS THAT COME IN BOXES OR BAGS ARE NOT GOOD FOR YOU!! Please for the sake of your health and waistline be more mindful of what you ingest on a regular basis. Don’t treat your body like a garbage can and put whatever looks good in it LOL Honestly, if you’re overwhelmed, because it can be quite overwhelming ask for help! Talk to a professional and learn how to eat properly! However, I will shed a little bit of light in this post on some solid tips to at least get you on the right track!
Eat real food… Vegetables, meat, eggs, fruits. Anything you find on the outside of the supermarket. The less it’s been touched by a human before it made it into the store the better (meaning it was less processed, less un-natural shit added to it etc). This also means that it will most likely have more nutrients in it. And honestly, I know a lot of you are so fucking lazy but let’s be real here, you can pay a little extra and get pre-washed pre-cut veggies and fruit that you literally can just throw in a bowl and make a salad. Come on people! It’s not that fucking hard! Plus the more meals you prepare yourself, the more control you have over your body and your pocket-book just saying…
Along with educating yourself and eating real food, read the nutritional labels on the boxed items you buy! Ingredients are listed from the biggest amount to the smallest amount found in the product. Nutella for example, SUGAR is the first ingredient LOL there is no way that shit is healthy so use it sparingly! Vector is marketed as a healthy cereal but again look at how much sugar there is per serving, you probably don’t measure your food before you put it in the bowl either so you’re most likely eating more sugar than what it says. Try to buy foods that are low in sugar, high in fiber and protein. The Fiber and the protein should be higher than the sugar/carb in the product. Especially if it’s a yogurt LOL check the label you will be surprised how many yogurt are out there with more sugar than protein per serving… Plain Greek yogurt is the way to go if you must have dairy. If you can’t handle not having sugar in your yogurt just yet, then add fruit or a little bit of honey. That way you are in control of the sugar level, and you can always wean yourself off the honey to a point where you’re just having plain yogurt and berries.
Be consistent! Consistency is key to being successful in anything you do! When it comes to your diet and losing weight you need to not only consistently eat through out the day, but you must eat well (nutritious and healthy) everyday. You can’t be on top of your game from Monday to Friday, fall off on the weekend and make up for it Monday. You will never lose the weight, and get the body you want. You need to consistently eat well all day, everyday, and have a cheat meal, ONE MEAL, or re-feed meal depending on your diet/goals. This cheat meal happens once in a while. It is earned, and it is needed to help shake up your body for more weight loss and to help with your mental toughness. It’s not a once a week deal, you maybe get a cheat meal once every 4-6 weeks depending. Doing this and making your cheat meal an earned treat, helps you to really enjoy the food you eat during this cheat and it helps to combat any feeling of guilt. You shouldn’t feel guilty about food, it should be enjoyed! Just understand the consequences of your treats and keep them to a minimum to reduce their effects, and if anything use them in a positive way.
Have a plan! None of this matters if you don’t have a plan, if you don’t have a plan then you plan to fail. It’s as simple as that! You need to know how you’re going to eat, and what you’re going to eat everyday according to your specific goals so that you can therefore reach your goal. Don’t know where to start? That’s when you need to educate yourself, or seek professional help. There are even food services that will cook clean meals for you that are portion controlled! All you have to do is know what your macro-nutrient limits are for the day and order your foods accordingly. There are so many resources out there at your disposal, that if you were really serious about losing weight there is no reason why you cannot succeed! Educate yourself, learn how to eat, and GET HELP! There is no shame in asking for help! It can change your life, and leave you feeling great! Just be mindful about where you seek your help. Do your research, look up reviews, get more than one opinion, and ultimately follow your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, find someone else who coincides more with your values.
GOOD LUCK! YOU CAN DO IT! TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! NUTRITION IS A LIFE SKILL, IT WILL KEEP YOU HEALTHY AND FEELING GREAT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!