Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tips for succeeding with your fitness goals!

This month my work kicks off our nationwide 90 day challenge. During the 90 days clients can make a fitness goal- to lose fat, gain muscle, improve their health, run a marathon, etc. and we help them achieve it. I put together this list for my team and I thought others might find it helpful as well. These are things I have found to be helpful for sticking to your H&F goals.

Tips for staying on track with your health and fitness goals 
1) You have to WANT it. I mean bad… it has to be more important to you than going out for a drink after work or sleeping in an extra 30 minutes before work. Not only do you have to want it but you have to be clear with yourself about why you want it so that when it becomes a challenge you will have to motivation to push hard and keep going.

2) Set concrete goals and WRITE THEM DOWN. Put your goals somewhere you will see them, like on the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror. Make a second written document that states WHY this goal is so important to you that you are willing to change your life to accommodate it. This has to be good! You will need to look at this as a reminder of why you are doing things you might not feel like doing. Find a friend, coworker, partner, parent, the internet, and tell them your goal. Tell everyone your goal. Talking about it makes it real and like it or not you will have more pressure to succeed.

 3) When you fail to plan, you plan to fail… Think about what you need to complete your goal and get those things in place before you start. Do you need a trainer? Do you need a workout routine? Do you need a weekly grocery list? DO YOU NEED TO GO BUY GROCERIES??? Great, go do it.

4) Log things… Log your workouts, track your food, be clear with your intentions and the energy you put into this journey. Logging your food and workouts will make you more aware and focused on what you are doing and you will be able to see your progress!

5) Develop a support system… This can be a workout buddy, an internet group, an instagram account, coworkers who also have fitness goals- whatever. There is strength in numbers and having someone who is going to tell you to go workout when you feel lazy and congratulate you when you completed something hard helps a lot. Remember that ultimately you can’t count on a buddy to always be there when you need to go workout… you are going to have to go it alone sometimes. Don’t let another persons lack of commitment halt your progress.

6) Keep your eye on the prize. You will have set backs… you will get sick or have an injury, you will slip up and under eat, or have a few too many oreos on the weekend. It happens. Get over it and move along. We are prone to this mentality (I am especially) where when we make a mistake we either wallow in it and feel horrible about ourselves or we throw everything out the window and go on an unhealthy binge. Don’t do that. Just because I ate 8 oreos doesn’t mean I might as well finish off the pack.

7) Get help. Hire an expert, or find a good knowledgable source of information and learn from them. 

Good luck and I’ll see you at the gym!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What it takes: Achieving your fitness goals

It's that time of year again, New Year's resolution time… Everybody is excited to start fresh and get themselves in good shape for the summer. I could not applaud that more, even though I don't think you need to wait till January 1st to have those goals. 
As a trainer nothing makes me more happy than an influx of new gym members who are super excited and motivated to change their lives through fitness. Unfortunately most people don't make it... They put a few weeks in, or a few days in, and drop off the map. One of the most frustrating things is having a client who is super excited, motivated, and claims to be very dedicated to achieving their goals, and then can't seem to follow through with the steps they need to take to reach those goals. I can only help you so much, Internet memes can only take you so far, and looking at your fitness celebs for motivation isn't going to get you those abs you're telling me you want. Ultimately you have to find it in yourself to follow through; you have to eat right, tone down the partying, and make it to the gym. No one can do that for you.
Most people who start with these vivid and intense ideas about how they want to transform are not being honest with themselves about what it takes to get there. That may sound harsh, I am in no way saying this to be negative although it may come off that way, more so just to encourage people to make attainable and realistic goals that they can succeed at. Often when people realize that their goal was too demanding they quit altogether, instead of stepping back and finding a middle ground. I think you can have a more positive experience and long term motivation by planning an accessible goal. That being said, ANYONE CAN BECOME “FITNESS MODEL “FIT. This in not an elite thing, it just requires you to be completely dedicated and genuinely committed. 

I think that the main things people don’t consider when making a fitness resolution are:
- This is going to affect your life. You might not be able to go out as often, you might have to change the way you interact socially… Think through what that will be like and resolve to go through with it even though you may get lonely. Plan other types of ways that you can still do things with friends or make new friends that support your lifestyle.
- This will be your lifestyle. Prepare for the gym to be your new favorite hobby. When people ask you what you do for fun your answer will be “biceps”.
- You might not actually want the goal that bad… meaning you might want to look like an extra from 300, but you don’t want to track your food, be constantly hungry, do cardio several times a week on top of 5 regular gym sessions, and give up drinking and cookies. THAT IS OK! It isn’t for everyone and there is nothing wrong with you deciding you don’t want to sacrifice things you enjoy in your life for an extreme physical goal.

With all that said, here are my tips to achieve your health and fitness goals for the new year and hopefully the rest of your life!
Step 1- Make a goal with both long term and short term MEASURABLE parameters. 
- An example of this would be “This year I would like to gain 24lbs of muscle. I can do this by gaining .5lb a week.”
Step 2- Think through the logistics of your goal. 
- Is it even possible to gain 24lbs of muscle a year? How do you know? Is your information good? What are you going to need to do to get there? Do you have that knowledge or do you need to consult an expert?
Step 3- Re-evaluate your goal.
- You’ve realized that 24lbs a year might be a little lofty… maybe 12lbs this year is more realistic. You’ve learned that you will have to be in the gym at least 4 times a week for 1-2 hours at a time. You have learned that you are going to eat in a certain manner to achieve this goal, maybe that means more food than you are really comfortable with. It most likely means that you will have to turn down social engagements because you need to be at the gym. Or if your goal is weight loss you might have to give up drinking or opt out of fancy dinners sometimes. Can you do this? Are you that committed to your goal?
Step 4- Follow through.
- So you are deciding that it is realistic for you to eat 5000 calories a day and be in the gym 4 days a week for 1-2 hours a session. Great! Now to make that happen. How are you going to make sure you get your food in? Are you going to meal prep? How often? When are you going to go to the gym? What days? Are you prepared to go before work, or after even if you are tired so that you don’t miss a session? The gym has to be your job. Now just be consistent. Take the step necessary to get there!

Maybe just pick a facet of this and work on one thing at a time... here are 5 great starting points to reaching better health and fitness
- Go to the gym X times a week, unless deathly ill
- Track your food to make healthy changes
- Add 2 servings of green vegetables to your diet per day
- Cut out refined fats and sugar or reduce it to a level that will fit into your optimal macro balance
- Give up drinking or reduce your alcohol consumption to X drinks a week

Remember that attainable goals are measurable and realistic. Success in achieving your goals requires a plan that you are prepared to carry out. One misstep does not equal failure or a reason to quit, consistency is the most important aspect in improving your health and physique so just let it go and move forward. Fitness is a journey so it may take you a while to get where you want to go, but every step counts!
Hope to see you in the gym... EVERY DAY

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Iron Zen: Meditations on lifting

My last blog post was about gratitude, so in the same vein I want to talk about one of the things I feel so blessed to receive from my time in the gym: Iron Zen. I just made that up. 
I am a pretty high strung person, my brain is always buzzing, always analyzing and twisting things around, jumping from idea to idea or just hyper focused on one thing to the point where I can’t think of anything else. Lifting is my time to get inside of my body and outside of my mind. It is my act of meditation; my anti anxiety prescription. After a good workout everything seems more manageable and easier to solve… or at least in a more reasonable perspective.
So I had a client today say “I just want to be able to relax and enjoy my workout and feel good after. Most of the time I feel ok or feel like I'm hurting more from a tense body and not the actual weight lifting. Are you able to relax when you lift? Is there anything that helps keep you focused or are you able to just zone out at all?”
I mean in honesty I have some rough days. Getting through my leg days smoothly is an exercise in determination and sheer will. This week I won, a lot of times I don't. Much of the time those two days of the week are the ones where I am easily distracted, my mind wanders, my phone keeps chiming, and pretty soon I am starving and exhausted and only half way done with a workout that should have been completed. 
I rely really heavily on my tricks for staying present in my workout on those days 
- I wear a watch and time all my rest periods
- I log my workout and make notes during my rest periods between sets for the weight I used, tempo, and how it felt
- I turn on music or a podcast in my headphones (or put in earplugs) and I don’t take them out until I am done. Even if I want to chat. 
- I even will write notes to myself before I start at places in my workout that I know I am prone to losing momentum. 
I am sure that on those days my coworkers and the other gym patrons would probably say I looked like I was mad or super intense… but that is just what I have to do to push through and stay in my zone. 

Other days it is easier… like my chest and arm days. I am able to tune everything out and just BE inside my body. Feel every rep while I am doing it and adjust my posture and form so that I am hitting the muscle exactly where I want to. Those are the Iron Zen moments. 30 seconds of internal physical evaluation and adjustment followed by 90 seconds of reflection, and repeat. I have no space in my head to think about the bill I need to pay or how someone cat called me on the street. All I have room for is the contraction of my biceps and the rotation of my wrist. A lose grip so that my tendonitis doesn’t flair up. Slightly retracted shoulders, chest up, locked elbows, no swing. Keep going. Past the burn. Don’t feel the pain, just a few more reps, feel the muscle work, don’t think about it, keep counting. Being, doing, not thinking. 
Then I can stop between exercises and say hi to a buddy or talk to my gym crush and have no problem going right back into that space of focus and calm. It is different for me depending on the workout. After those golden workouts I walk out with a rested mind and a worn body. I feel grateful for my hour and a half of peace through physical strain. I strive for that feeling every time I start my session… I don’t always get there, but it is a practice just like any meditation and somedays it just doesn’t happen, and you have to go with the flow and just keep trying and keep bringing yourself back to the moment, to your body, and to the movement.

Friday, December 19, 2014


I am a very fortunate person. I have so much to be grateful for in life, and sometimes it is overwhelming how good life is. However since this is a fitness blog, and that is why most of you either follow me and/or read what I post I will try to keep my gratitude relevant. 
Today during my workout I was filled with this intense joy and wonder I sometimes get when I think about what the sport and activity of bodybuilding gives to me. It makes me almost giddy (could be the endorphins) and I will laugh out loud during my workout listening to something that probably isn’t even that entertaining on my headphones- and people will look at me like I am crazy… But I just feel buoyant. 
The number one thing that I lack that bodybuilding provides me with is balance. Those of you who know me in real life will probably agree that I am a kind of extreme person at times. I have an obsessive/addictive nature. I don’t just do anything a little. I have been that way as long as I can remember. I have always been competitive, driven to be the best, or the most. I am stubborn and persistent. These are good qualities to have as a bodybuilder, especially a vegan bodybuilder… but there is another side to the coin. 
In bodybuilding you learn that you can’t be THE best, you can only be YOUR best. You can train everyday, with maximum intensity, and make it your main focus in life, and you will only see small returns. You have to accept that there is no instant success (beyond your newbie gains). You have to accept that it WILL take years, sometimes decades to reach your physique goals. This sport will destroy you, will crush you, will make you feel insignificant, weak, and fragile. It will also make you feel like a god, it will feed you, it will grow you, it will drive you. It will push you when you want to quit, and be there when no one and nothing else is. You will have injuries, and you will work through them. You will plateau and learn to overcome, and you will see weight or movements that you never thought to attempt, conquered. 
It gives you community, but teaches you that you can be ok alone- just you and the iron day after day, good or bad. A constant in a sea of turbulence. It surely makes you stronger, but we all know how weak you can feel after a good leg day. As a trainer I have the joy of getting to see the change in a person (more often women) as they become more confident in the weight room and it translates into other areas of their life.
Bodybuilding teaches you the necessity of consistency for success in life, and the dedication needed if you want to exceed mediocrity. You learn about pride and humility, success and defeat. You learn that you will never be GOOD ENOUGH, but that YOU ARE GOOD and that is ENOUGH. There will always be more, and bigger, and better… but you will keep working, and growing, and that journey- the improvement, is really the purpose. 
I want to be unreal, I want to be beyond human, and I get closer every time I dig in and do my workouts… every time I make the choice to stay on track with my food. There are no short cuts as a natural bodybuilder, it is going to take a long time and dedication, but every millimeter of growth and pound I add to the bar is my constant reward. My workout is time I give to myself, a gift; meditation, reflection, and antidepressant all rolled into one. 
I have goals, dreams, faith, and a stronger character as a result of my time bodybuilding. I am so grateful. Thank you to my coaches, mentors, inspirations, and the gym. Ugh I love the pump.

Monday, August 19, 2013


ok, so this is a blog post I have been meaning to write for a long time. I am sure I have about 30 things on my to do list today that take precedence over writing a blog but here it is...
I started taking some crossfit workouts in addition to my regular lifting I do as my bodybuilding training. I want to be able to get away with eating more sooner, so I need to burn more calories. More importantly I have a major goal this year to improve my flexibility and increase my mobility hopefully undoing some of the damage I have done to my body over the last 31 years and make it better able to preform. I also have poor cardiovascular endurance and really even muscular endurance. I would like to be faster and learn to be more explosive in my movements when it would be beneficial.
I flippantly made a comment on my facebook about being slow and fat, not really thinking about the various ways people would interpret this.
I have to say I am sorry if that was offensive to anyone. Please understand it wasn't intended to be a put down to myself or anyone else.
photo from july 2013
"needs to be leaner"
I am involved in a sport, bodybuilding, where an unnaturally low level of body fat is required. Lower than the doctor recommended levels required to support organ function. You only need to be at this level for a short period of time, but that's the way it is. Last month I was as lean as I have ever been in my life, at around 9.5% bodyfat, based on my hydrostatic weighings... you know what my #1 critique was? "Needs to be leaner"
Due to my involvement in bodybuilding I have developed a really unemotional relationship with the word "fat" and the idea of having fat on your body. I don't look at it as part of who I am, more like a state of my present physical condition. Something I could adjust with some effort based on my personal goals or preference. Anyone who does not have a metabolic disorder or a physical disability has this ability, and even those that do have shown that with the right determination they can as well. I have had to make this mental transition because I cannot base my perception of myself on the percentage of body fat to lean body mass I have. It is a mutable thing completely under my control.
I am not a fat shamer. I do not think that people with higher levels of body fat look unattractive or "gross" or whatever we are supposed to think. If someone has an extremely high fat level I may feel concerned for their health or sympathize with the amount of joint pain they have or how daily activities are probably more challenging for them. I may feel bad that they can't do physical activity that I take joy in, like hiking, or empathize with the feelings they most likely have of being out of control of the situation. I don't judge them, because even though I was never at the point where my health was at risk, I have been out of shape and overweight, and I have felt like there was nothing I could do to change it. What's more, they may truly not care... maybe they really like reading and don't care for nature at all. They might be perfectly happy with their physical abilities, and that is none of my business.
photo from 2010
I have always wanted to be lean and shape so that I could be more physically able to do whatever I want in life without my body holding me back. EVERY SINGLE DAY when I wake up I think about how grateful I am that I can step out of bed and walk to the bathroom. I might not always take it further than that but I usually come back to it at some point in the day when I am active- I think about how lucky I am to have my health, how grateful I am to be able to run through the woods or have the strength to pick up a heavy weight.
At some point in my life I might not have that. I could lose my mobility or my strong immune system, or in some other way become unable to live like I currently do so I don't for one moment want to take my able body for granted.
The other thing I want to add is that everything is relative to the place you are personally at. Pretty much every human being is going to have a moment in their life where they feel out of shape. Or feel fat. Those are valid whether you are below or above some national average for fitness.
I am excited to have gotten an opportunity to feel that way. Feeling out of shape motivates me to do something about it. Having to drag a heavy body around motivates me to lose the parts of my physique that are not doing work. I want to be more strong and efficient.
Of course I have some pride in looking fit, and looking lean. I feel more attractive, but mostly because looking lean and muscular is MY PERSONAL idea of what a sexy woman looks like. Lot's of people might look at me and think "that's too much muscle for a girl" or "gross, too manly". I could care less. I have worked very hard to get my body closer to MY idea of the best it can be. That is an evolving concept. Now the best it can be also involves being able to be strong, AND fast, AND agile.
I love my muscles
I am not a natural athlete. I am not a person who has always been super active, or done sports my whole life. I am a bookworm who grew up camping and maybe riding my bike around the neighborhood a few hours a day. The only physical activity I was every really involved in was lifting weights and I did that casually. There is nothing special about me that makes me able to achieve a level of fitness that the average person out there could not. It just takes the right motivation, which to me is the desire to use athleticism to promote a vegan diet. Without that motivation I would still look like the person from 2010... I actually don't even view myself as being particularly lean or in shape. Just better off than I was a few years ago. There was nothing wrong with that, I was just a lot less physically able to preform the tasks that I can today and a lot less empowered and confident to try.
Dani's Champions!
I want everyone to know that they can have what they want in life if they really try. I also want people to know that this photo on the right -> is not what we look like everyday. None of us feel bad about our bodies when we are not at our peak form. Of course it's fun to look in the mirror and think "I look like a magazine!" but that is a temporary state. It is however very normal to hear us call ourselves "fat" or "slow" or "out of shape" because we know that even at the best we've ever been, we can always be better. We also know that fat is not who you are, your current level of endurance is not who you are, it is a place you are at. A place you can leave if you want, or stay if you are comfortable. I am not comfortable. I want to be better able to do more.
I respect everyone for where they are personally at and just want to see them reach a level of health they are satisfied with.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Naturally Fit Super Show Recap!

I had a rough beginning of this week with some turmoil on the home-front but luckily the universe seemed to sense I needed a little extra love and I had a lot of amazing and heartwarming things come my way as well.
First thing to note is that I am so overwhelmed and inspired by all the kind comments and notes I have been receiving from friends and supporters letting me know that I am inspiring THEM and motivating them to lift heavier, or do better with their diets, or BECOME VEGAN! Wow, WOW! How awesome and rewarding it is to hear these things. It motivates me to work harder and do better over the next year so I can hope to really make a big impact in the fitness industry as an example of a vegan athlete in top condition.
Secondly I have been given a promotion by from friend and customer to family and employee! What an honor! I can't think of a small business I would rather get to work with and help to grow more than Vegan Proteins. So due to this you may see more frequent short posts on my personal blog directing you to posts on the Vegan Proteins blog that I wrote. I am hoping we will do some cooking demos as well!
You can read my full recap of the Austin Takeover Weekend here:
Blog Post
But I also wanted to add some things as a personal note on my own blog.
This year has been really life changing for me. I feel like I have discovered a passion in an area that has always been a hobby for me but that I never felt capable of making a career or lifestyle out of. Now I feel like it is a part of who I am and that I will be living the lifestyle of a competing natural bodybuilder for the next several years and that natural fitness and a more health focused diet will be in my future career for a long time to come.
Many of you know I teach cooking classes. I hope to integrate more performance based meals into my cooking classes in the future and maybe get my personal training certification over this next year as well so that I can start working with local plant based athletes (especially women!) who want to build mass and lift heavy!
I am working with Dani Taylor, my coach and Vegan Proteins Co-Owner to write a cookbook this year that is designed to work with the meal plans and diet programs she writes for her clients. I am ecstatic to apply my culinary creativity to this project and come up with lots of super healthy vegan meals.
I had a nice little binge for a few days but am back on a meal plan designed to increase my metabolism gradually over the next few months. By december I want it to be cranking so I can eat and eat and fuel some big muscles. The biggest challenge right now is not eating all of the chocolate that has somehow appeared in my life over the last several days. My building goals over the next year are to increase mass in my shoulders and abs, and work on changing the shape of my quads and hamstrings so that even though that area of my body holds the majority of my fat, they will still be a strong point for me next year when I compete again. I want to keep my body fat percentage under 15% over the winter while I build so that I won't have as far to drop when cutting season starts and I will be able to get leaner than I was this year.
I made some awesome trophy gains this year but the biggest win I have experienced is in all of the new friendships I have made and family I have gained in the process. I have a home at TPS alongside some super strong women (and men!) under the mentorship of the gracefully fierce Katy Wayman-White who has been competing in Natural Women's Bodybuilding for over 30 years and genuinely loves and promotes the sport. I am excited to learn so much from her and the other people I attend posing class with so that I can become a skilled and strong performer and showcase my body to the best of it's potential. I have a true family united by our passion to speak for the innocents in team Plant Built. I feel so bonded to this group and proud of what we have accomplished in just one season. I can't wait to be proud and inspired by what all of these amazing athletes achieve over the next year. I am especially hoping that I can get some more of the women to cross over into body building this year!
I have also made some really cool friends from the online community and some of them even live in my area so I am really hoping to be able to train a little with them this year and help those that are just coming into the world of physique competition to settle in and find their place.
I cannot say enough how grateful I am for the support both financially and emotionally I have been given this year from all of you and I hope I made you proud. I will continue to share photos and videos from the competition as I come across them so that you can get a look into the experience you helped to create.
I just want to give a quick mention of some of the companies that helped support the team and me personally this year, so that you know who to check out for businesses that give back to the community...
Vegan Proteins - Online Vegan Supplement Retailer
Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness - Online bb and fitness community and info hub
Plant Fusion - Premium Vegan Protein
Badass Power Cookie - Delicious baddass cookie
Engine 2 Diet - Plant based educational support community
Justin's Nut Butter - Mmmm nut butter
Brad's Raw Leafy Kale - Kale chip delight
Rhythm Superfoods - More delicious Kale
Just Pure Foods - Plant-Based snack foods
Eda-Zen - Edamame snacks
Beyond Fit Austin - Austin plant based gym
Bonebreaker Barbell - Plant powered hardcore gym in Kyle, Texas

I wanted to mention that also received a personal sponsorship from:
Mackay Manufacturing

Thank you so much to these businesses for supporting us!