My Weekly Nutrition and Training Plan

July 22, 2014

The below nutrition plan is what I eat Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday during the day I still eat clean but will eat whatever is left over or what I have around my apartment. Two nights a week I have "treat" meals - whatever I choose. They are usually Saturday and Sunday night, but it does vary. I switch up my eating every week. I plan the week before what I want to have for meals, make the grocery list, and prep the food on Sunday's. A lot of times people will ask me if I get bored eating the same thing everyday. The answer is no. It is only 5 days a week that I eat the same thing. I eat to live - not live to eat. It took me a long time to come to that.  I also do this to save money. I live alone so I can't really cook tons of different things during the week because it's too expensive and will go bad. There are also ways you can switch up your eating day to day. Like my Quest Bars for instance; I eat a different flavor everyday, same with my yogurt. You can read here for meal prep ideas!

This week, my plan will be off a little. I am working longer hours, attending meetings, client dinners, and things like that. I will be eating restaurant food more than normal and missing the gym some. I will try to keep my schedule as healthy as possible though!

Total down (since 11/25/13):  62 pounds!

Meal 1 (7:15 AM)
Green Power Smoothie and Almonds/Walnuts
1 cup of orange juice with extra pulp (yum!) with fresh spinach and kale, frozen pineapple and mango, 1 tablespoon of flex and chia seeds, and one fresh green apple cut into pieces.

Meal 2 (9 AM)

Meal 3 (12 PM) -- will vary this week
I am attending a lot of "lunch" meetings so my menu will vary; I will try to order a salad if the option is there.

Meal 4 (3 PM) 

Gym 4:30-6PM

Meal 5 (6:30 PM) [Post workout]
1/4 cup of plain grits with 2 tablespoons of turkey bacon pieces

Meal 6 (9 PM) -- will vary this week
I will be attending client dinners some, so I will eat out if so. If not...

Bed time 11PM
Sunday: (Weight Circuit + squats) - done!
-30 minutes of cardio: StairMill (90 SPM regular work and 70 SPM with skipping every other step, 60 SPM for resting work - alternating all 3 levels every 3-4 minutes. Rest work is only 1 minute)
-Weight Circuit:
   -Shoulders: 3 x 15
   -Back: 3 x 15
   -Biceps: 3 x 15
   -Chest: 3 x 15
   -Triceps: 3 x 15
-Back Squats (4 x 15. Two sets of 55 pounds and Two sets of 75 pounds)
-15 minutes cardio: Elliptical (Incline 9 and 12, Resistance 10)

Monday: (None) - Working late and client dinner

Tuesday: (Weight Circuit)
-30 minutes of cardio: StairMill (90 SPM regular work and 70 SPM with skipping every other step, 60 SPM for resting work - alternating all 3 levels every 3-4 minutes. Rest work is only 1 minute)
-Weight Circuit:
   -Shoulders: 3 x 15
   -Back: 3 x 15
   -Biceps: 3 x 15
   -Chest: 3 x 15
   -Triceps: 3 x 15
-15 minutes cardio: Elliptical (Incline 9 and 12, Resistance 10)

Wednesday: (None) - Working late and client dinner

Thursday: (Weight Circuit + squats)
-20 minutes of high intensity interval training: Tredmill (Work: 3 minutes at 3.2 speed and 12 incline and rest 2 minutes at 3.4 speed and 0 incline. No holding onto the tredmill at all)
-10 minutes of cardio: Elliptical (Incline 9/10, Resistance 10)
- 3 sets of 45 second planks
- 3 sets of "Russian Twists" with a 10 pound weight plate
- 3 sets of 20 crunches
- 3 sets of 20 heel touches
- 3 sets of  10 elevated leg crunches
-10 minutes cardio: StairMill (5 minutes at 80 SPM and 5 minutes at 60 SPM. No holding onto machine)
Friday: (Hiking)
10 miles of hiking at Crowder's Mountain

Saturday: (Weight Circuit)
-15 minutes cardio: Elliptical (Incline 9 and 12, Resistance 10)
-Weight Circuit:
   -Shoulders: 3 x 15
   -Back: 3 x 15
   -Biceps: 3 x 15
   -Chest: 3 x 15
   -Triceps: 3 x 15
    Sample workout
-15 minutes cardio: Elliptical (Incline 9 and 12, Resistance 10)

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A Gloomy but Lovely Weekend Recap

July 20, 2014

When I first started my blog last summer, my biggest reason was because I wanted a "scrapbook" of my life -- written memories and pictures. I really enjoy looking back; seeing how I and my life has changed. I know a lot of people do not like recapping their weekends because they may not be eventful - I understand that. However, I want to record it all; even the most mundane of days... and I have to say, this weekend was definitely one of those, but I really, really enjoyed it. Ha!

Friday consisted of work as normal, then the gym. I weigh on Friday mornings and I lost 2 pounds for the week! My total loss since November 25th is now at 62 pounds. Yay! I was pumped about my loss this week, but I was feeling really sore from my long run on Thursday, so cardio at the gym was tough. I pushed through 45 minutes on the Elliptical, backsquats, and an upper body weight circuit. 

After the gym, I went to local restaurant and met one of my old friends for a drink. He is moving to Charlotte in a few weeks and had some questions about the area. I feel like a Charlotte veteran now that I have been here 4 1/2 years. I only had one drink because I was sweaty and tired. I went grocery shopping after then I arrived home, I was down for the count.

Saturday morning, I had hiking on my agenda. It is becoming frustrating to plan hikes right now because the weather is so crazy; rain in the forecast constantly. It rained on and off most of the day and it was super gloomy. However, I was not mad about it because I was still really sore. I felt fatigued all day. 

I decide to go see "Sex Tape". I love Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel so I was excited to see this. In my opinion, it did not disappoint at all! Cameron and Jason had amazing chemistry. I literally laughed the entire time. I am not huge on comedy's, but this movie was just as good as "We're The Millers". 

Once I finished at the movies, I came home to shower and get ready. Then I was off to church. I was elated to go because it was the start of our 5 part series #DeathToSelfie. Yes, I know -- I am in big trouble! Ha! It is not what you think though; it's the story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis. The service was incredible. My favorite words from the sermon: God cannot bless your mask. God cannot bless who you pretend to be. 

I usually attend church on Sunday evenings, but because I had a hike planned for today, I decided to go last night. When I got there, I could not believe how crowded it was. I was worried that I would not be able to get a seat in the auditorium and would have to go to an overflow room. I did not want to do that because I truly wanted to feel this message. I said a quick prayer when I was in line, and then when I walked into the auditorium and a staff member came up to seat me, he placed me in the THIRD row. How awesome is that! On top of that, the girl he sat me beside knew me from Facebook and my blog! That is the fourth time this year that has happened and it makes my heart smile. Her name is Brooke. She is also a Beachbody coach. I had an amazing time sitting with her and I think we are going to have a great friendship. (Hi Brooke!)

Once church was over, my girlfriend Alexis and her husband Daniel, and I went to "The Melting Pot" for Queen Feast-- which is Charlotte's Restaurant Week. We enjoyed a lovely 4-course meal. I thought someone was going to have to wheel me out of there when we finished, I was stuffed. I ordered a "Zen Master" cocktail, made with cucumber vodka of course, and it was superb. For our dessert, we ordered creme brulee as our fondue and there are just no words... food porn at it's finest.

I checked the weather forecast before I went to sleep last night, and the weather was going to be worse than it was Saturday, so I decided to once again ax my hiking plan, and sleep in. This morning I slept in until almost 10, which was heavenly. When I woke up, I ate a quick breakfast, then cleaned the apartment and did laundry. Once I finished, I decided to take a break and watch "My Best Friend's Wedding". Can you believe I have never seen that movie? I know, I know. What is wrong with me?! I am not really a fan of romantic comedy's and I was only 8 when the movie came out, so that is probably why I never saw it before today. I really liked it, but I wanted it to end differently. My take? Thank goodness for gay best friends, ha.

After the movie, I ran by Old Navy for a new pair of workout pants since I had to give a few pairs of mine away -- they were getting too big. Yay! I scored a cute new pair, then I went to the gym. I felt rejuvenated and strong so I had a great workout. I finished soaked in sweat, just how I like it.
Now I am off to conjure something for dinner, watch True Blood, then get to bed. I have a long 4 days coming up at work. I will be attending a lot of meetings, dinners, and working long hours.

Write about your weekend and link up with great blogs here!  

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Let's Chat: All About The Week

July 18, 2014

Happy Friday! I am pleased to say that this week has been wonderful. There is no particular reason why or anything grand that happened, I just feel good. My spirit, my mood, my mind... I feel like my normal self again. Ah, I'm relishing in it! In true Friday fashion, today's post will be random things about my week that I want to share. 

Tuesday, I had my very first washer and dryer installed at my apartment. I finally purchased a set from Lowes Home Improvement. I got a great deal plus a great warranty. Previously I was paying $30 a month to rent a washer and dryer from a company and I was sick of wasting the money every month. I will always need to wash clothes, so I finally invested. I may have gotten a little too excited about owning a set. I am definitely getting old.

Since I have been working summer hours at my job (4 work days, 10 hours long), I have been lazy in the morning when it comes to styling my hair. Something that will only take 3-5 minutes is my go-to. And I think my system works! I am using Big Sexy Hair's powder for good volume, dry shampoo to keep my roots from looking so oily, and a beach wave spray from Ipsy, which adds just enough curl and wave. I really like it.

I have never been a big Starbucks fan. I do not drink coffee nor do I care for overpriced tea filled with sugar. However, a couple of weeks ago when my sister was in town, we went because she loves it. I was thirsty so I picked out their new Blackberry Mojito tea. Now I'm freaking addicted, ha! This has been my favorite go-to drink this summer. It has an authentic fruit taste (I am obsessed with anything blackberry flavored) and it is not loaded with sugar. If you are like me and crave all things ice-cream and smoothie during the hot months, this tea is a great option. You can purchase it unsweetened which is even better and as a lemonade. 

When I was a teenager and could blow money because I had no cares or bills, purses were my favorite thing to splurge on. My how that has changed since I have to be an adult now (ugh). I only purchase maybe 1-2 purses a year and carry it until it falls apart. In March I found the cutest bag at Target, but now the straps are hanging on to the purse for dear life, so I threw in the towel. I went to Burlington Coat Factory and found the cutest Nine West bag for only $27! Burlington is my absolute go-to for bags. They have a gorgeous selection and unbeatable prices. I am super excited!

When I was driving home from work yesterday and checked my mail, I noticed my Ipsy bag finally came! I was a little nervous this month because my mom told me she was a little disappointed in hers, and a lot of girls on Instagram seemed to concur. Not me! I loved this months bag. I can luckily use everything that came in it. It also looks as if Ipsy accidentally included an extra skin soother, which I always have use for. I give this month two thumbs up.  

If you don't know what Ipsy is - it is a monthly makeup bag you receive via mail. It is only $10 a month and with that you get a makeup bag and 3-4 beauty products. You are billed on the first of every month and products arrive between the 10-15th! When you sign up, you get to customize your settings so you get products closely matched to your beauty preferences. If you want to join, please click here and use my link. I will appreciate it so much!

Yesterday we also had the best weather in Charlotte. It was nice and warm; not humid and sticky. There was a light breeze and it felt like spring or fall. I decided I had to take full advantage of it, so I ditched the gym and hit the greenway. My hips are paying for it a bit, but it was well worth it.

Now on to get the work day over. I have a busy week ahead so I am ready to relax this weekend so I can take it head on...

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How to Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau

July 16, 2014

Every man and woman's fear when it comes to losing weight? The inevitable plateau. Most people will experience this, especially if one has a significant amount of weight they want to lose. When you find yourself staggering on dropping fat and pounds, it's time extensively reevaluate your habits and routines. Breaking through a weight loss plateau is not easy. It requires honesty and an escalated work effort. If you find yourself in this position, it means that it's time to change things up. Choices and actions need to become different. Often times people are resistant to change, but that is how we learn and grow-- change in weight loss is no different.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself entering a weight plateau. I lost 55 pounds in a 7 month period. To some, that may seem slow and not great, but to me, it was. I felt fantastic because 7 months ago I was in a bad state with my life: I was very obese, I ate my feelings, and I lost my passion for the gym. By one day deciding I had enough of feeling sluggish and tired, I changed my life. Through hard work, clean eating, and exercise, I dropped weight - all on my own. I wanted to average 1-2 pounds a week. By not losing weight so fast, I could eliminate sagging skin and really embed good eating and exercises habits into my life. The longer I stay on my weight loss journey, the more it would become a part of me and my daily routine. 

For the first 7 months, it went great. I was steadily dropping every single week. However, it is important to remember, the bigger and more body fat a person has, the faster weight will start to drop. Once a person becomes thinner and thinner, the body does not drop fat and weight as fast. I knew going into this that eventually the 3-5 pounds a week would slow down. It still hurt when it happened though. 

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been pushing through my plateau and hit the 60 pound loss mark this past Friday. When I started this past November, I estimated that my weight loss journey would take a year. My goal is a 80-85 pound loss, which I hope to hit sometime in October instead of November. If I want to do that, it's important that I keep busting through any plateaus I encounter and not get "too comfortable". 

Being honest with yourself is the absolute first step in breaking through a plateau. When I was personal training, a lot of times my clients would come up to me frustrated and mad because they weren't losing weight. They stated that they were following my nutrition and training regimen verbatim, but were not seeing results. However, when we sit down to extensively go over their schedule and actions from the prior week, we found that was not the case. I would hear "Oh yeah, I did have a few drinks with dinner that night", "Oh, I forgot we went out for ice-cream that night". "My daughter was sick so I missed the gym 2 days that week", etc. Those little things eventually add up. If you are encountering a plateau, grab a notebook or your laptop and write down ways you have been slipping and not following your plan. If you cannot be brutally honest with yourself, you are not going to grow and make any positive changes.

What I did in my case: I was cheating a little more than normal. I still have a good amount of weight I want to lose, so I am not at the more lax "maintaining" stage where my nutrition is more flexible. Like I started above, the little treats, even a cookie or two, everyday, were adding up. Because I have been trying so hard for well over half a year now to lose weight, I was growing a tired of being so strict. I would say "I have done so well, so eating this be OK". However, those words are what led me down a path of destruction last year, so I immediately shut off that way of thinking.  

It was important to me to understand why I am at this plateau. Why was I craving bad foods more? Why am I giving in and derailing off of my plan more and more? I needed to be brutally honest. I was becoming overwhelmed with stress. I pushed myself to my breaking point. Working long hours, training hard at the gym, blogging, writing a book, keeping up with my apartment, running errands and life necessities, car problems, and traveling back and fourth to my hometown a lot more than normal because of family issues made me crash and burn. I am very active and extremely high energy, but it was becoming too much. I let all of this continue on until it broke me. When it broke me, that is when my behavior and coping mechanism with food would start to creep in. That is also when negative feelings over my breakup from many months ago started to surface. It was like Pandora's box opened when I cracked from all of the work and stress. Then I had to determine if I was really sad over the situation or was I sad because I was mentally exhausted?

I was honest with myself, understood my feelings that led to these actions and circumstances, then got to work on overcoming them.

This is probably the biggest component to break through a weight loss plateau. Which in my opinion, sucks. Jump start and recharge your body by eating natures treats. It's simple. Get back to the basics. One can never have too many dark green vegetables-- add those whenever you can. Smoothies, side dishes, casseroles-- the possibilities are endless. Spinach, kale, broccoli, zucchini are some of my favorite items. Also, add raw fruit - no canned or extra sugary juices with them. Fruits are great sources of energy, vitamins, and craving crushers. Do not deprive yourself from them. Limit carbohydrate intake to complex and fiber. Complex carbs are used by your body, not stored as fat or turned into sugar. Fiber is absolutely essential to well-being and weight loss, and studies show that most adults do not get enough. Click here for complex carbohydrate food choices. Stay hydrated and consume enough water. Sometimes you may think you are hungry, when in actuality you have not drank enough water. Ensure you are eating enough lean protein. Protein is what keeps a person full, aids in growing and recovery muscle, and a great energy source. If I am hitting a plateau, my main source of foods are lean proteins, fruits, and lots of green vegetables. 

What I did in my case: I add more vegetables whenever I can. If I am making eggs, I would add spinach and kale. If I was making a protein smoothie, I would add spinach and kale. I would have broccoli as a side.  I used zucchini as a "noodle replacement" for spaghetti. I would add extra lean protein such a chicken or turkey to my meals. I drank a lot of water and Powerade Zero for taste and a craving crusher. I always eat 6 small meals a days; which keep me from getting too hungry and keep me "satisfied" when I eat. I do not get overly full and if I still feel slightly hungry after I eat, I would just tell myself that I am eating again in another 2-3 hours, so I would be fine. I cut all alcohol except maybe 1 cocktail a week. 

Other tips:
  • Do not use iceberg lettuce for salads, it basically has no nutritional value. Spinach is a much better "leaf" to use as a salad base. 
  • Always add a vegetable as a side with a meal.
  • Walnuts and almonds are fantastic sources of essential fats and energy! I love almonds for an afternoon "pick me up".
  • Use spices and herbs for taste NOT dressings or oils.
  • Cut sweet cravings with fresh fruit, sugar free flavored gums (there are a plethora of flavors available now), and sugar free flavored water options-- my personal favorite is Powerade Zero which has electrolytes. 
  • Mix vegetables in your dishes if you do not like consuming them as they are. I do this if I am making eggs, healthy pasta and dip recipes, protein smoothies, and even breads. You can really add vegetables to anything! 

This is another must! must! must! to break one's plateau. I even have to state, that the importance of this is trailing right up behind your diet. I love the concept of "muscle confusion" and wholeheartedly believe in it because I have seen and felt it work. Do you ever notice how sore you after you engage in an activity that you have either never done before or haven't in a long time? That is because you are working muscles in a way they aren't used too. Which in turn burns a lot of calories because the body is working so hard. 

Even if you do exercise on a regular basis, this still heavily applies to you. One can go to the gym day after day, become content in their regular routine, and not push themselves as hard. It's understandable. The gym may be a part of your everyday routine and you're comfortable. That is when you need to switch things up- make your body push harder, the workouts more challenging, and add more variety. 

What I did in my case: I love to exercise. It is my favorite hobby. I workout 6 days a week, almost all of that being at my gym. It becomes routine and almost robotic going to the gym everyday after work. 

Sometimes I would have those life changing workouts where I felt I could take on the world, then sometimes I would have those workouts where I walked away saying "at least I went". I was becoming content and comfortable. I knew my body needed to be pushed more. I decided to change my workouts and up the intensity and resistance. 
  • When lifting weights, I increased the weight. For example: I normally do dumbbell curls with 15 pounds. For the first two sets, I would still use that weight, but then the last set would be 17.5 pounds. Even adding weight to your last set for each different exercise can make a big impact on your muscles.
  • I upped the resistance on all of my cardio. I normally "worked" at 85 SPM on the StairMill, so I made it 90. I normally set the resistance at 10 on the Elliptical so I bumped it up to 11. I would push myself to work at a faster speed as well. 
  • I changed my workouts: I did Bikram yoga last week and I am going boxing tomorrow. I also went hiking Sunday as well. After hiking for the first time in 4 weeks on Sunday, I couldn't walk Monday. Now my legs feel fantastic.

It is irrefutable that being strong mentally is the key to lose weight, live healthy, and change your life. Your body will do whatever your mind tells it. Your mind is the source of motivation. Are you hitting a plateau because you're not happy? Are you too stressed? Are you exhausted? Are you suppressing feelings? Are you overworked? Make sure you understand how you're feeling internally because you could be burning yourself out. If a person becomes too stressed, the body will cling onto fat.

What I did in my case: This was huge for me because I know part of my plateau was stemming from being emotionally drained and mentally exhausted. I was keeping myself too busy. I could not sleep at night because my mind would not turn off. I was suppressing feelings that I wanted to ignore by keeping myself overly active, and if you pretend or ignore issues that need to be addressed or resolved, you are going to eventually break.

That is when I decided to take a step back. I took time off from blogging, I went to bed 1-2 hours earlier, I did things that brought me peace like meditating, reading, and playing the guitar. I slowed down with tasks, errands, and plans that I made for myself. I allowed myself to mentally and emotionally heal so I could feel happy and strong again. It was the hardest "funk" I have ever had to pull myself out of, but with a strong will, it can happen. I am still amazed that I am not waking up in tears. I was becoming numb and accustom to it. 
  • Get plenty of sleep each night. Rest is essential to repair your body and mind.
  • Relax before bed so you're able to sleep better; read a book, meditate, drink a decaffeinated hot sea, take a hot bubble bath, solve a crossword puzzle, etc.
  • Address any problems or stress in your life. Stress will add more fat and weight to your body than you realize. If you mentally in a bad place, nothing will do right. 

If you want something, you will make time for it. It is just that simple. Do not dismiss the power and good of writing in a journal and documenting your nutrition and workouts. The best I have ever done with losing weight was when I would journal. By doing this, your evidence is in front of you. If something is not adding up, you always have notes to look back on. Keep track of your cheats - you may see that you accidentally slipped 3 days in a row and that caused you to not lose any weight that week. You can see that one day you did 45 minutes of cardio but the next two, you only did 20. Keeping a journal will keep you on track. Plus it gives you the ability to look back and see just how far you have come. To me, it became a challenge. I noticed on Monday, I did a resistance of 10, so Tuesday I wanted to do a higher resistance. I became my own competition. 

What I did in my case: I planned my meals complete with their nutritional content, as well as writing my training regimen in detail. I knew I needed to keep my intensity up, and putting it on paper and admitting if I did or did not really helped. It kept me accountable. If I ate bad, I had to write it. This way I monitored my behavior and habits. This kept me within my daily caloric range and organized so I was always ready. 
  • Write your meal plan and grocery list in a notebook, phone, tablet, etc.
  • Record your daily caloric intake as well as your foods
  • Plan your workouts - write if you achieved them as you set out to.
  • Write your proud moment of the day. If you feel accomplished about something, write it down so you always have that feeling to look back on and remember.
  • Write your challenges -- what held you back that day? What brought you down? How are you going to overcome it? What can you do to be better? 
I am still a work in progress, but I can tell you, I have implemented these 5 tips immensely over the past 2 weeks and I lost 5 pounds. It was 5 pounds of pure fat too-- which is the best feeling in the world. It can hard to push through a plateau, but also quite fun. Because a plateau just means that you are getting stronger and you body wants to become more challenged. Challenges make us grow... challenges make us better.

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