Interview with Not Just A Man’s World (Part 1 & 2)

Shortly after completing the Arnold Classic, I had the pleasure to do an interview with Ammi on Not Just A Man’s World. Ammi put together a very thoughtful collection of questions that range from motivational topics, diet, training and personal tidbits. As Ammi mentions, she and I (especially when put together) are not short in our delivery – therefore, she is releasing this interview in four parts that will be running on Thursdays during the month of May.

For those of you who have followed my blog throughout these Figure preps, there is still never-before shared information due to the nature of Ammi’s questions. You can check out last week’s interview (part 1 here ) and this week’s interview (part 2 here). Stay tuned for the third and fourth portion to be released over the next two Thursdays.

Ammi’s blog has been on my blogroll for sometime now. She provides a great collection of information in a very well-organized manner. Make sure to navigate your way through her site and follow along as she discusses topics on training, dietary strategies for fat loss and women-specific challenges.

We hope you enjoy!

The Million Dollar Question

 Over the past two years, I have received numerous emails and had countless face-to-face conversations all surrounding the same million dollar question — “What do you eat?”

These days, my dietary routines are rather consistent whether in or out of a show prep. Now that I’m finished competing, I have a little more flexibility allowed for a treat meal or two per week but Carter has taught me a well balanced system and I enjoy my nutritional routines. I follow a really balanced strategy that leaves me feeling satiated, provides a variety of food groups and flexibility and best yet, I don’t feel like I’m “dieting”. I’m also confident that I’m getting the best of the best foods and nutrients into my system.

If you’re training hard but eating crap, you’re really doing yourself a serious disservice. I promise if you’re eating poorly, despite your training efforts, you’re not going to get optimum performance in the gym, you’re probably not going to get proper recovery post training and your simply conflicting your efforts towards your physique goals.

On the Precision Nutrition website, there is an interview with Carter Schoffer from 2006. The last question they ask him is “How important is nutrition in the body transformation process?”
 
Carter’s response really puts it into simple perspective, he says: “Absolutely critical. Nutrition is 100% important just as exercise is 100% important. I mean, you often hear people say things like, “Nutrition is 90% while training is 10%,” or even, “Nutrition is 50% while training is an equal 50%.” I think they’re missing the point. It’s like asking, “What’s more important, the lungs or the heart?” Bottom line is that if you can’t breathe, you die, just like you die if you can’t pump blood. They’re both necessary, and there’s no room for fractions of importance, it’s an absolute. But which do I see people neglecting the most? Definitely nutrition.” — CS

Carter’s strategies (for me) are an extension of the Precision Nutrition system.

The following Top 10 Rules are from Precision Nutrition‘s Gourmet Nutrition book written by Dr. John Berardi and Dr. John Williams. My diet is tailored to my body and goals but it does follow these similar parameters:

1. Eat every 2-3 hours – no matter what.
This doesn’t need to be a full meal each time, I make sure I’m feeding the fire for a total of 5-6 feedings per day.

2. Ingest complete, lean protein each time you eat.
Some of my routine favorites include eggs/egg whites, chicken, turkey, bison, lean ground beef, salmon and shrimp.

3. Ingest vegetables every time you eat.
Aim for a variety of both green and colored, 1. to keep out of a food rut and 2. to optimize the benefits from the intake of various vitamins and minerals provided by the different vegetables.

Some of my personal favorites include: (Green) – Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Green Beans, Zucchini, Cucumbers (Colored) – Tomatoes, Carrots, Mushrooms, Onions, Peppadews, Sun dried tomatoes, Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Canned Pumpkin, Eggplant, Yellow Summer Squash

4. If want to eat a carbohydrate that’s not a fruit or a vegetable, you can – but you’ll need to save it until after you’ve trained.
I aim to keep these carbs gluten free, including but not limited to: oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa and beans.

5. A good percentage of your diet must come from fat. Just be sure it’s the right kind.
Best from three types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Your saturated fats should come from animal products, your monounsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olives and E.V. olive oil. Your polyunsaturated fats should come from flaxseed oil, fish oil and mixed nuts.

Some of my personal favorite daily fats include: avocado, extra virgin olive oil, natural nut butters, almonds and fish oil.

6. Ditch the calorie containing drinks.
Yup, that includes alcohol!! Aim to stick with water and green tea. I also include coffee 🙂

7. Focus on whole foods.
Read as UNPROCESSED FOODS! ‘nuff said. 🙂

8. Have 10% Foods
If you’re not in a contest prep, which most of us are not – plan your socializing or reward meals into your week with the 90/10 rule. Don’t interpret this as permission to go overboard, but if you’re on point 90 percent of the time, allow yourself what you enjoy too. For example, with 5 meals a day, 7 days a week – that is 35 meals for the week – 10 percent of that is 3 treat meals per week.

9. Develop food preparation strategies.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The hardest part about eating well is simply being prepared. Create strategies and habits for yourself to develop CONSISTENCY. Do your routine grocery shopping for the right items. Prep food on certain days of the week (perhaps Sunday and Wednesday). Tupperware your food and take it with you. These are habits that need to be prioritized. I hear it all the time, “I don’t have time” or “I can’t do it like you” but it’s just a priority one has to make if the goals are important enough. Also find foods and tricks for quick on-the-go meals. (I will post more on tips in a future post). It’s a learning curve, give yourself time to learn the tricks and build routines – but start developing a strategy.

10. Balance daily food choices with healthy variety.
Again, Carter did not prescribe certain vegetables, fruits or proteins that I had to eat at certain times. Rather he gave me parameters – a food group and the measurement. He hammered home however that it was MY RESPONSIBILITY to take in the variety.

So there you have it. The 10 nutritional strategies to begin physique and performance success in the kitchen. In future blog posts, I will share with you some of my favorite meals and recipes, certain superfoods, plus more specifics about my personal diet.

For now keep it simple and see if you can adopt these 10 key take-aways.

For more information, you can also visit Precision Nutrition and Body Transformation.

I Must Eat My Words

I have a confession friends: for the first time in a while, I must eat my words! I am however, very excited to arrive at this current decision and I can’t wait to shout it from the roof tops and start hustling in a semi-new and refreshed direction 😉

Just last week, I gave a long-winded spiel about having goals, training for them, mastering new disciplines or methods, etc. I was forecasting over the next four months, I would live on as a Figure Competitor aiming for Team Universe (figure nationals) in July.

Well, I am a thinker and have continued to spin that wheel of thought in my head. I continued to do some “soul searching” and took a hard look at what my bigger goals really were. How I wanted to train myself? How I wanted to spend my time and energy? Where I wanted to grow my career? And ultimately – what I saw myself identifying with most?!

As of Monday, I actually arrived at the decision to take a break from competing for an indefinite amount of time (Gasp!) 😉

Over the past two and half years, I have had a really good time entertaining the challenges of the Figure Competitions and gaining a lot of knowledge about myself, nutrition and training. Not to mention, changing my physique and the wonderful people I have met along the way…all great experiences and gifts.

What became more clear in the last few days however, is my love for the strength and conditioning industry. That’s where I feel I belong right now. That’s how I want to spend my time. That’s how I want to train and what I want to study and that’s the direction I want my career to go in.

When I came home from the Arnold, I was in full speed momentum from the show. Naturally, I shifted my sights to the very next challenge and progression. As the dust settled (and just after I wrote last week’s blog post of course) – a few things became more clear….

1. In order to get an ultra competitive physique for the national level, I was going to have to change the way I was training in order to streamline my physique more – come in tinier. This meant trying a new method of very high reps (20-30) and naturally, less weight. After giving a few weeks to this style, I wasn’t feeling as satisfied with my training sessions and thought to myself- ‘I started in Figure because I love to train. Now that Figure is dictating how I have to train – do I want to do this right now??’
 
2. Figure competitions are also a whole-hearted commitment. I was getting mildly concerned I may lose touch with a bit of my involvement in the strength and conditioning industry if I continued this path to the top and I was missing it – so it became apparent where my heart was and where I need to spend my focus in terms of my career.
 
3. Finally, for the past two plus years, I have given a lot of energy and structure to the sport of competing. Now I’m excited to turn my attention into manifesting my life in other areas, especially my career in hopes to expand myself with the clients I train at FX Studios and bigger opportunities / responsibilities with Under Armour. Not to mention, I think I am going to enjoy taking a little bit of the pressure off and living a 28-year-old social life!
 
I embrace and respect the physique community so much – for their passions, how hard they work and for everything they dedicate to the sport. It has been a tremendous learning experience and has provided me the tools to really change my shape. I would never say I’m retiring, but I‘m excited to see where this new direction takes me.

What can you expect in the future???

Well, for starters, I am on my way to completing my C.S.C.S. I’ll also be working on the return of my athletic training in the gym (which will of course, have a plan!). I don’t want to stop being one of the stronger girls in the gym! I want to continue to look the part and move the part. Today, someone wrote me a line asking if I ran with the tires… he said “you’re such a small bundle to be that powerful“…that made me laugh because that‘s exactly how I want to be perceived!

So welcome back deadlifts, back squats, front squats, DB snatches, cleans, pull ups, push press, sled drags, prowler sprints, hill sprints, 300 sprints, etc! In the meantime, I’ll still be working hard on the dietary side to keep myself lean and performing optimally.

You can also expect I‘ll be posting more on my own training again, interesting finds on the topics of strength / conditioning and of course, motivational thought. I‘ll also be sharing my dietary efforts to stay in ship-shape and what meal plans, recipes and food pairings I come up with after having learned so much from Body Transformation expert, Carter Schoffer.

As with anything in life, things change. 🙂 It’s been a long time since I’ve broken out of the routine of a Figure Competitor. In fact, over the past year, I have taken only eight weeks off. I am excited to see my dreams more clearly and pursue them freely. My client and I were chatting this morning about how so many adults wish to be a kid again. We were saying how great it is to be an adult and have 100% freedom to make the decisions and changes we desire in order to create the life we want. 🙂

More strength and conditioning to come!! 😀

p.s. If you haven’t seen her yet, check out Jen Grasso’s website, Renegade Fitness. She is an extension of Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Strength and Conditioning. Jen combines ultra femininity with being a badass chic in the gym! Check out her stuff!

Goals, Strategies, Perception and Change.

What are you training for? Do you have a goal? Is it measurable? Does it have a time frame? Do you have a plan?

You know, if you don‘t know where you‘re going, how will you get there??

I debated whether or not to write this post, because it may turn some of you readers off.. Or give you the impression that I’m shying away from my love of pure strength training. What I’m about to write has been a thought process of mine over the last few weeks however and I think it’s worth sharing.

The Arnold wrapped up about three weeks ago. Since then, I took a week off from training and have been back at it for the past two weeks. My current regimen consists of four 30 minute sessions of fasted cardio each week and five afternoon sessions of strength training. My next show on the horizon is tentatively July 9th, Team Universe in NYC. With this upcoming show, my training methods are shifting. For the past 3 years, I would say I have focused on athletic based movements with a strong physique emphasis. Primarily working on strength and power in the gym, followed by physique and function. Conditioning too in the mix consisting of all out short bursts of intensity for 10-60 seconds maybe up to 3 minutes depending on the challenge, but you get the point.

For a while now, I have specifically been trying to hammer home the message to women of the benefits of STRENGTH training and heavy lifting. I am not afraid to lift with every ounce of effort. I have followed and performed all programs ranging from 9 sets of 3 reps, 10 sets of 10 reps, 5 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps, 3 sets of 15 reps and 2 sets of 24-30 reps…and so on…I am not turned off by any lift, set / rep scheme or challenge as long as there is a rhyme & reason. I am not afraid of getting “bulky” because I think I have proven as a figure competitor, you can train like the big boys and still look like a chiseled, petite, feminine woman. Ladies, hear me loud and clear.. genetically and hormonally, we will not beef up! Unless of course we have a poor diet and then we’ll beef up from fat, not muscle!

If you asked me to define an “athlete” in a few words, I would immediately think “strong, agile, powerful”…then I thought, what about the triathelete? They are built very different from the average power or field athlete and function quite differently, yet they are an athlete. From there spawned my thoughts: What defines “athlete” and what defines “being fit”?

My brother is a sick athlete, but he’s not a field athlete or a triathlete. In fact, he’s a rock climber and snowboarder. In a recent conversation with my brother Doug, we were talking about training disciplines. We often identify with a specific one and may even limit our attention and appreciation to one. Why not, if it’s what interests us and pleases us to pursue. We may also however fall into the trap of becoming opinionated and closed-minded towards other disciplines and training methods. Remember, it‘s the principles that we adopt that are most important – not necessarily the method(s) we use or the discipline we tackle. Now there may be more favorable methods to utilize when pursuing a particular goal, but there’s also a lot of ways to skin a cat or there wouldn’t be so much debate on the internet regarding the good, the bad and the ugly in training exercises and design.

This brings me to another point. What defines “being fit?” I think I’m fit…I have gotten my pull ups to 10 body weight reps for four sets, my DB bench to 60 lb Dbs and my legs can outlast most. I like to pull tires, hit the prowler, run sprints, or jog for an hour. Ask me however to swim for an hour and I think I’d sink. Ask me to train only in circuit or high rep ranges, I may vomit. Ask me to go rock climbing with my brother and my forearms would fry. Take me for a 50 mile road bike venture and well, I might gas out at that too 🙂 …but I’m fit right? And so is the triathelete and or my brother who doesn’t lift in schemes of 5 sets of 5 reps or push the prowler all day long.

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

So my brother and I were talking about training disciplines. Once you master one, its good to switch it up, both for the learning experience AND the mental and physical challenge. He referenced his personal experience of rock climbing because that is one of his thriving passions. My brother has been climbing for 14 years – about as long as I’ve been lifting (going on 13 years). When he was younger, he used to spend his time mastering bouldering – a style of rock climbing that is essentially all strength and power. You may get 5-8 moves in a bouldering challenge. At the time, Doug had disgusting relative body strength. Years later, he wanted to challenge himself differently. He decided to pursue the outdoor climbs more and challenge his endurance. Now he scales 3,000 foot walls such as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He even sleeps suspended from an edge because the climbs take a few days. Talk about a challenge and change!!! Doug’s shift in style stayed within his love for climbing but demanding completely different energy systems and tolerance of his body. Not to mention, a new learning curve and stepping outside of his comfort zone both physically and mentally.

I share this conversation with you, because I believe we should pursue what we love but also push ourselves to be open-minded, learn and master new things. Stepping outside of that mental and physical comfort zone. Learning something new and trying to enjoy sucking at it at first only to make new gains over time.

Now, going way back to my first point – training goals. Over the next four months, I am a FIGURE COMPETITOR. My training goal is to step on that Team Universe stage with the best physique I can bring. If I had a sports performance goal in mind, I’d train for that. If I needed to get stronger, I’d train for strength. If I needed to put on muscle, I’d train to put on muscle. My goals however are to streamline and fine tune the foundation I have built. To come in more petite than previous shows. Although I don’t want to lose strength or the athletic nature of my movements my training is shifting.

For a while, I have identified with heavy lifting. I am proud of my strength and conditioning abilities. I love feeling like the strongest girl in the gym but I am shifting my training methods because my goal over the next four months is not to be the strongest girl competing, if so, I’d enter a power lifting competition – it is to get on stage with my best physique yet. Please please, don’t get me wrong, I will never turn my back on STRENGTH nor will I stop studying it, appreciating it or prescribing it for most, if not all, of my clients. I however, will be shifting my personal training methods to a new scheme in order to see what response it brings. It took me a few weeks to wrap my mind around the change in training because I like and identify with the strength and conditioning crowd. My goal to compete however dictates my latest training style and I am excited to change things up, suffer at first because my body is not used to this style, learn to be open-minded and use myself as a guinea pig to see what works and how I can transform my lines and physique. Believe me, my principles will remain intact and you better believe I will keep the intensity high in my sessions, but it will be different 🙂 To me, this is a shift much like my brother took on. There will be crossovers in my latest training program, but at the same time a very different approach. (and yes, I will continue to post the new training days)

So I ask you again, do you have a goal? Do you train (and eat) to meet those goals? Are u in a trap of closed-minded training beliefs? To you, what defines an athlete or being fit?

Already, I have had to step outside of my comfort zone both mentally and physically. For now, I will be putting the training I have done for the past three years on hold. I also thought I was going to vomit on one of my recent leg days and I was sweating like it was 110 degrees and humid out. I look forward however to embracing this change, holding on to the things I love about training, learning from the experience and sharing the ride again! After all, if you do what you always did, you’re going to get what you always got. I encourage you to do what you love but don’t get caught up on one style or discipline forever…
 

My brother Doug, "sleeping" on his big wall climb (El Cap)

p.s. Doug plans to climb El Capitan again in late spring / early summer. He is one rad guy and the very best big brother. I love him to pieces and am so proud of his accomplishments and pursuit of his talents and passions!

Your Firm-Up Lean Out Secret!

I don’t like to toot my own horn much, but I do want to share some exciting information with you all. 🙂 In the latest issue of Oxygen Magazine, April 2011, you can find my article, “Your Firm-Up Lean Out Secret” on page 114.

Also, on page 30 is a preview for another article to be released in next months issue and we are all very excited about this one!!

If you haven’t picked up your issue or read the article already, be sure to do so! These are training strategies that I use both on myself and with clients! It’s a great full body blast incorporating multiple muscle groups, elevated heart rates, grip strength and fun! The concept is great because you can get creative with varying the exercises as well as complete it almost anywhere – including outdoors as we get into spring!

Also, in addition to finding Oxygen Magazine on the newsstands, you can find them online here . You can even follow Diane Hart and her behind-the-scenes coverage of various fitness events, working with the models and interactive messaging with the readers in her blog here.  

Check it all out and enjoy!!

DON’T MISS GIRL TALK!!

One of the best things you can introduce me to is new music. I’m always on the hunt for new tunes and enjoy the great finds as much as I do the latest and greatest exercise variations or program design “ah ha” moments.

Just the other day, I was introduced to Girl Talk. When I was handed a cd with “Girl Talk” written on it, I thought, ‘I don’t know if this is my style’ – but because of the WONDERFUL source who provided me with this album ;), I knew it was worth a listening and I would probably love it…and I did!

Gregg Michael Gillis, better known by his stage name Girl Talk, is an American musician specializing in mashups and digital sampling. Gillis has released five LPs on the record label Illegal Art.

I have recently acquired his third, fourth and fifth (most recent) albums and they are fueling my cardio workouts lately. Girl Talk mixes are essentially old school or rock beats that we recognize with current hip hop layered on top. These are seamless albums that blend one song from the next every 20 or 30 seconds. Guys, this is NOT just for the ladies listening pleasure 🙂 – you will dig it too!. Also great mixes for partying / entertaining!

Below are a few tracks from his latest album “All Day” – I couldn’t embed them into this blog post, but the links will take you to YouTube 🙂

Track 1: Oh No
Track 2: Let it Out
Track 3: That’s Right
Track 4: Jump On Stage

You can find the latest Girl Talk album here. Also, in doing some digging, I looked up the Illegal Art website and it’s a GREAT site where you can download Girl Talk as well as other DJ’s / artists on the label. Girl Talk’s third and fourth albums – Night Ripper and Feed the Animals – can be found on this site.

Illegal Art is a website where you can add the album(s) to your shopping cart and then simply pay a price of your choosing for checkout.. basically it’s a donation. I did this personally and was taken to paypal, made my payment of choice and was then sent a link via email that took me to my downloads. It was simple, trusted and awesome!

Just thought I would share the GOLD I found! I certainly enjoy some harder music from time to time when I lift.. but I LOVE a good beat, remix or mash up when I am doing my cardio and nothing beats new music when I am gearing up for another prep! (Thank you Mr. Sams!!!)

Enjoy!!! 😀

Fall in Love, Stay in Love.

I love a good quote / message – I think most of you readers know this by now 🙂 The other day, I was searching for a few cards and some of my favorite are the quotable cards. I picked up this particular card for a few special people and I just wanted to share the message with all of you because it rang so loud to me….

“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what gets you out of bed in the mornings, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.” – Pedro Arrupe

Now I’m not talking about a person, although I’m sure if you’re in love, that gets you out of bed in the mornings (or keeps you in bed ;)) and determines how you spend your time! I interpret this message however in terms of our passions, our dreams, our hobbies and hopefully, our careers! Mine, like many of you readers, is FITNESS, PERFORMANCE, HEALTH AND PHYSIQUE. These things seize my imagination and what I want to create for my today and my future tomorrows. It certainly plays a role in everything I do and the choices I make, what I read and what amazes me. I feel lucky to have capitalized on this.

I hope you can relate to the quote today as much as I can. I hope there is a “love” in your life and if that love determines a good bit of your mornings, evenings and weekends – embrace it! Don’t let other people, fear, temptation, challenge or self doubt steer you from your love. 

Fall in love, stay in love and hold on to your goals and dreams!! Don’t give up on what you want. Happy Friday 🙂