Monday, February 17, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect - why the journey to 'perfectionism' through extreme dieting - doesn't work

She's a Long one - but well worth it!  Happy #MondayMotivation ya'all!

As a representative for health and fitness - First for Women magazine - its important to me to give women the real truth about how to take care of their bodies. Extremes – whether in cardio or diet – never pay off. They aren’t sustainable – maybe for a few years, but not for life. I know - because I lived it.

I spent most of my life over 200lbs - lost 70lbs on my own and then decided I wanted to compete in a figure competition. One year later at 125lbs at 5'7", I felt I was the fittest I had ever been in my life! I got used to wearing XXS and feeling 'tiny'- something I had never felt before in my life. I wore a size 0 dress at my wedding and felt awesome in a bikini on my honeymoon – sounds great right?
Here’s the darkside – the side people DIDN’T see - I began to FEAR 'normal foods'- heck I was afraid of ALL foods, I spent HOURS in the gym because I was afraid I might start ‘gaining’ again – I even went to the gym for 3 hours a day ON MY HONEYMOON!

I avoided any social outings where food/alcohol was involved and hated what I was becoming- all in the name of what? Being tiny? My only focus became the gym, my body, food – the gym, my body, food. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Deep down I was miserable, unhappy, exhausted, HUNGRY and I knew something was wrong with the way I was staying ‘healthy’. I lost my menstrual cycle - the one thing that signifies a healthy reproductive and hormonal system in a woman. I began having trouble sleeping, digestive issues, an emergency appendectomy – yet I STILL didn’t admit something was wrong.

I placed top 5 in my first 3 fitness competitions - but one year later and several pounds of muscle lost, I wasn't winning any more competitions- after all, they are MUSCLE competitions, not get skinny competitions.
But WHY couldn’t I just STOP the madness – the hours of cardio, the minimal caloric intake? I was emaciated and my friends and family began asking me ‘are you ok?’ ‘You need to eat’, etc. I was only following my coaches plan – how on earth could I be unhealthy when I was following what my plan said?

My lifesaver is Kelli Hinshaw - my good friend and former teammate who had ‘seen the light’ – she began watching posts by a man named Dr. Layne Norton and sharing them with me, encouraging me to listen, read, absorb. She started ‘reverse dieting’ to rebuild her metabolic capacity, cut back on cardio, started living on ‘macros’ – which is eating the foods she wanted as long as she hit her macronutrient (carbs/protein/fat) goals for the day. Here was my thoughts the first 6 months of her sharing this with me ‘YEAH RIGHT! I cannot stop cardio – I will get FAT. I cannot eat honey nut cheerios, chocolate, pizza – I can’t eat ANYTHING processed or I will get FAT. It won’t work for me. Ever.’ Then the tailspin began...

I was in my ‘off season’ – not competing again until the following season – my calories were increased but I kept the same high amounts of cadio, and insane hours in the gym. I started having more than one ‘cheat meal’ and would freak out, go do 2 hours of cardio to get rid of the calories and start over. Binge, Guilt, Cardio, Repeat. Binge, Guilt, Cardio, Repeat.
This became my life. I KNEW I was in trouble metabolically and I knew I had to take the step towards better health. But that fear of gaining all my weight back haunted me like a plague. I was DEALTHY afraid of it – I wouldn’t keep peanut butter in the house, cereal (my former vice), anything Mexican food related, and I wouldn’t dare take a day off training. So why wasn't my body responding the way it was in the past? Simple math (calories in vs calories out) would suggest that all the cardio I was doing would keep me thin! What in the world was WRONG with me? 

In the words of Kelli, "Rip. The. Bandaid. Off." Ok – she was right. I slowwwwlllllyy started cutting back cardio, adding more calories and carbs and rebuilding my metabolic capacity. I remember watching one of Laynes blogs saying "who will have an easier time cutting down – the person who is maintaining with minimal cardio, higher calories and carbs, or the person who is doing 2 hours of cardio on minimal calories and carbs?" Bingo – that was the lightbulb for me.
I started reading about Ashley Swoboda: Athlete and Brooke Erickson - beFIT 'sfitness journeys and sobbing – realizing that what I thought could never happen to me, had INDEED happened to me and that I could also PROVE there is another way. 

I decided to reach out to Brooke regarding coaching and am so blessed to now be working with her toward the BEST health inside and out that I possibly can. I couldn’t ask for a better coach and it’s only the beginning! She is a true inspiration to me through similar struggles in her life and coming out on top – not just in fitness but in life! I LOVE both Brook and Ashley's vulnerability and honesty in their posts - they have reached so many this way and I am inspired to do that same.

So fast forward 8 months later from my thinnest at 117lbs to - A 25lb + gain (Yup!) that I have slowly but surely gained by reverse dieting, flexible dieting through macros, hard work and determination in the gym (and yes a little indulging!) and I am hitting PRs (personal records – 35lb side lats YES!) left and right and gaining muscle I never thought I could - but more importantly - I am ENJOYING my life, my incredible husband who has been there through it ALL, social outings- yes even wine and (gasp!) nachos! With the hours I am not in the gym, I am taking my dogs to the park with my husband, trying out awesome healthy recipes, blogging more often, catching up with old friends and LIVING my life. I LOVE going to the gym again – its not a 3 hour dreadful chore – it’s a constant drive to PROGRESS!

Is it hard on me mentally to gain? Yes. It most definitely is – you don’t spend your life overweight then gain some again without any mental effects…. I’ve been through it all – wearing my husbands sweatshirts, avoiding my ‘usual gym’, negative body speak in the mirror….but the BEAUTY of it all is – is that NOTHING is permanent where your body is concerned. It’s only temporary. This holds true for those of you TRYING to gain weight for a PURPOSE or those of you TRYING to LOSE weight as well! It’s ONLY temporary – anything is possible and you can do anything you want to do with your health and fitness goals WITHOUT going to extremes. At the end of the day, I am so thankful I have begun this process towards healing and better health – there IS ANOTHER WAY! I just wasn’t ready to accept it at first.

I've had some incredible support throughout my journey and am so blessed with all of you (you know who you are)- and WHEN my body decides it's ready to get back on stage with serious gains this time around, I'll be ready- and healthy. And most of all- I will be HAPPY - INSIDE and out. #iloveiifym #fitforlife

I HIGHLY encourage any of you reading this who are thinking ‘this is ME’ or even if you want to compete without going to extremes and are wondering what all this #macros hype is about – check out Dr. Layne Norton - watch his informative blogs and be ready to be blown away! Sohee Lee also has a GREAT ebook on 'How to Count Macros' and another great resource here , and   

Follow Layne Norton, Ashley Swoboda, Brooke Erickson, SiouxCountry, Lean bodies Consulting and so many more you will discover on all their networks on FB and Twitter.

Knowledge is Power.  And Perfectionism?  Doesn't Exist....THANK GOD! :-)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Have your cake....AND EAT IT TOO!


You can eat it!  You can have pasta!  You can have cake!  You can have quesadillas!  You can have pot roast with gravy!!  


Yup - its all in how you PREPARE the food - not the food itself.  People think 'pot roast is bad for you' - because images float in their heads of Mom's pot roast and potatoes swimming in butter and gravy from the fatty drippings (gross!) BUT - there are ALWAYS healthy alternatives!!

Start thinking about your favorite foods - then find ways to make them healthier!  

Remember weight gain/loss is all about numbers.  Make the things you LOVE and make them fit into your day!!  Today I had chocolate chip muffins for breakfast (yup!), cereal and milk for a snack (oh yeah!), dark chocolate cake (mmmmhmmm!), a burrito bowl (DELISH)....should I go on?  And guess what?!  I wont go over my macronutrient limit for the day (i.e.: the number of calories/fats/carbs/protein I need to reach my goals)

But it's all about how I PREPARE my favorite foods to fit into my day!

My chocolate chip muffins?  Made with Lillys Dark Chocolate chips that have zero sugar (made with stevia) and 55 calories for 55 chips!  Protein powder, coconut flour, egg whites, baking soda, sugar free maple syrup and viola!  You have healthy delicious chocolate chip muffins!  

My cereal?  Barbaras Bakery whole grain 'Honest O's' - only 100 calories a cup and 20mg of sodium (want a shocker?  Turn your cereal box around and read the sodium content!) with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (30 cals a cup!) and 1/2 a scoop or protein - shaken and poured over cereal like milk!

My dark chocolate cake?  Along the same lines as the muffins but with unsweetened dark cocoa powder and heated in the micro in a round bowl sprayed with cooking spray.  Drizzle that bad boy with some almond butter and BAM - healthy cake!

Burrito bowl?  Oh yeah - brown rice, extra lean ground beef, shredded lettuce, salsa and avocado - mmmmm!  And its not FULL of fat and sodium like the restaurant versions but tastes JUST AS GOOD!

Here are some AWESOME healthy swap recipes that you will ENJOY but stay on track!!

Healthy Quesadilla:

1 Rudi's Gluten Free Fiesta Tortilla
2 TBS shredded lowfat cheese
1/2 cup baked, grilled or shredded chicken
2 TBS salsa
** spread salsa on one half of the tortilla and top with chicken - sprinkle cheese over and fold in half and place on a flat top griddle or pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Sear 2 min each side until cheese is melted - enjoy!!

Nutrition Facts:
Cals: 258
Fat: 7g
Carb: 19.4g
Protein: 27.9g

Healthy Pot Roast with Gravy!  (YES Gravy!)

1 Jones Creek Beef Grass Fed Chuck Roast (find at Wal Mart!  Most stores carry grass fed - because the cows aren't fed hormones and grains, the meat is EXTREMELY lean!)
4 red potatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 cup baby carrots, whole
a few springs fresh rosemary
1 Cup low sodium chicken broth (like Pacific Foods Low Sodium Broth)
Crock Pot
Unsweetened Almond Milk or coconut milk
2 TBS cornstarch

Pour broth in bottom of crockpot and place roast on top of the broth.  Cut small slits in the meat and stuff with garlic and stick rosemary sprigs inside the slits.  Place onion, carrots and potatoes around the roast.  Place lid on and cook on low for 4 hours.

For Gravy:
Once roast is cooked, take 1/4 cup of the drippings and place in small pan on medium heat.  In a small bowl, dissolve 2 TBS corn starch in 1/4 cup water.  Slowly whisk into pan.  Once combined, slowly whisk in milk.  Allow to thicken, take off stove and season with a little sea salt and black pepper

Nutriton Facts:
(4oz beef, 1 cup veggies with 1/4 cup gravy)

Cals: 213
Fat: 6.6g
Carb: 21.8g
Protein: 17.2g

Healthy Pasta!
1 package 'Pasta Zero' (made from shiitake mushrooms!  Near tofu in produce section - I found mine at Wal Mart!)
1 cup (about 4oz) extra lean ground turkey
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced bell pepper
2 TBS hummus (I LOVE the Engine 2 brand from Whole Foods!)
2 TBS pasta or pizza sauce
2 TBS feta cheese crumbles
fresh or dried oregano

Rinse pasta well.  Pat dry and place in bowl.  Mix with hummus/pizza sauce.  Place pasta mixture in a sprayed oven safe plate or small gratin dish and top with veggies.  Sprinkle feta cheese over.  Top with dried oregano.

Place in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Put on broil last 2 minutes to get cheese/veggies gold and bubbly

Nutriton Facts: (For the ENTIRE meal above!)

Cals: 225
Fat: 6.9g
Carb: 19.5g
Protein: 31.4g

Happy and Healthy Eating!
~ DNutritionista