Saturday, March 7, 2015

13 weeks out! Update- see what a vegan bodybuilder eats!

Appreciate THICK THIGHS- My current obsession= ADDUCTORS!
Well it's starting to get close! In my past experience the 12 week mark is when I start to notice differences in my body a lot more often. I am definitely ready for that! Getting excited to see what I have under this layer of fluff and present my last year and a half of work to you guys. Not to mention that after the last 11 weeks or so cutting I am so ready to feel like I have something to show for all that culinary discipline and cardio!
So how am I doing? Really well, for the most part. I am making efforts to reduce my life stress while my physical stress increases. I have been a bit of a hermit lately, staying in for the most part and even spending my breaks at work in the break room alone more often than not as opposed to out in the club- eating at the counter. I am feeling the need to conserve my energy and less able to handle a lot people at once. It just feels a little draining- so I save that energy for my clients and friends, but don't be offended if I send you a text expressing my love instead of wanting to go out or if I want to just go for a walk with you instead of going somewhere public. It is just what my body is asking for right now and it is keeping me feeling balanced and mellow. In addition I have my budget set tightly so money won't be a stressor and my work schedule a little more restricted. With my work schedule more tightened up I have been mostly able to reduce my waking hours by 1-2 so that I don't have as long to stretch my food out over. Just trying to take care of myself so I don't get sick this year and am able to keep up my intensity the whole duration of my prep.
This week my diet changed a little- I was able to hang on to higher calories for several weeks, but I saw my progress slow this last week so I knew that this week a cut was coming. However my coach must really love me because she gave me a great refeed day every few days and I am using it to satisfy all the cravings I have had over the last few weeks. I had nachos the other day (not a lot mind you, but enough that I was able to satisfy the need!) and I am making a single serving low sugar pie on tuesday. Berry pie has been on my mind a LOT lately!
I feel very fortunate that my schedule allows me a lot of access throughout the day to my home kitchen. In the past I have had to prepare all my food in advance, and take it with me for the day. Since most days I work splits and come home during the day I have the opportunity to prep food for each day as it comes. It is considerably more time consuming this way but luckily I love all things food related and being able to make each meal before I eat it gives me a lot of joy. It also allows me the freedom to chose what I want to eat on a daily basis, so I feel way less restricted than I have in the past. 
I have admittedly had very hungry and very drained moments, (you can ask my coworkers!) but so far it is not too bad. Making an effort to reduce my meals from 6 a day to 5 has helped a lot, so I feel more satisfied after I eat. Some days I am unable to stretch 5 meals over my day so I have been having a small protein pudding for breakfast to tide me over and it seems to be doing the trick. I cannot say how glad I am that my coach allows me the freedom to use flexible dieting during prep. I have not once yet this prep eaten sweet potato, asparagus, and baked tofu! Haha! Instead I am getting to eat foods I love and would chose to eat even if I wasn't cutting. Don't get tricked into thinking I have it too easy, none of these servings is large. The biggest meal I have had in weeks was around 400cal, and I average 300 cal a meal. So I make every meal delicious, and I don't suffer through day after day of the same boring "clean foods". I get lots of protein, more fruit than any previous cut, veggies, and still all the good stuff like pasta and bread. I know as calories become scarce I will choose to stop having as many of the fun foods in favor of food that is super filling, but for now I will enjoy the luxury of 24 baked tortilla chips!
Nachos with Sour Supreme and Salsa Dressing

Protein Waffle with no sugar added Coconut Ice Cream

Silver Dollar Protein Pancakes

Chocolate Protein Ice Cream with Cookie Crumbs

Protein Pudding with Cocoa Crispies and Strawberries

Low Fat Mac and Cheese

Mini Breakfast Protein Puddings


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Oatmeal from

Tofu Benedict

Coconut Milk Raspberry Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

High Protein Cheesecake Filling with Strawberries

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Progress and game plans

around 2 years of compositional changes

 1) I had great news saturday morning when I had my body composition tested. I am up to over 109lbs of lean body mass, which I am super happy about! At 4'11" that is great progress and I can't wait to break the 110lb mark. That is up 3lbs of muscle compared to last year at this time. Hard work and a adhering to my nutrition is paying off. I am so eager for what is to come and this makes me more determined than ever to push and see where I will be in a year, 2 years, 5 years and on.

2) With those results in hand I am seeing that to be where I want to be as far as body fat by april 18th I would need to lose over a pound a week of fat. So far this season I have not had success losing at that rate, to the benefit of my muscle mass, and keeping that mass is more important to me than being ready for the april show... so I am going to plan on making june 6th at the Naturally Fit Super Show in Austin my first show this year, followed by the Columbia Classic June 20th. I am not sure if I will do another show later this summer after that. I think I will just play it by ear and see how my body is feeling at that time. If I am doing ok holding my fat low I may push for a third show. If I am struggling I will begin a reverse diet and start my off season in July.

3) It is tough to be hungry, and to not allow myself to graze a little, especially at the end of the night when I am trying to go to sleep and can't stop thinking about food. This week I finally feel like I am rounding a bend physique wise and starting to see some of the indicators that I am getting lean. I am happy with what is happening in my quads and with my shoulders taking some shape as I lose a little of the fluff in my upper arms. These photos and indicators of my progress give me the determination to keep pushing forward.

4) I am feeling a little sappy and as always I have to thank the people in my life that help keep my morale up: Dani- without you I'm lost, seriously. Thank you for keeping me on path, keeping my head on straight, and driving the ship. Co-workers- thank you for taking the time to mention that you see my shape changing, you might not realize it but that helps me make it through each day and push harder in my workouts and cardio. Thank you for always asking how my workouts went and how I am feeling. I have never had such a strong support system so close to me daily. My clients- thanks for your check ins and being understanding when I am a little spacey or continuously mention that I am hungry during our sessions. You are the best! Karen- cheerleader and cardio motivator, I appreciate you to no end... thanks for understanding that going out to coffee is my new favorite activity. Dad- I live to make you proud, thank you for always being my biggest fan and getting me started on this path. Stacey, Jack, Erin, Iron Ethos crew, all of portland really- <3 thank you for the love and support. Teammates- Thanks for doing this with me... together we will change the world. Social media friends and fans- knowing you are out there and that some of you see me as an inspiration makes me work harder to give you the best I have. Every comment and positive remark makes a difference to me and has more than once helped me through a tough day.

Ok, enough of my dramatics ;) I know I am not doing anything impossible or anything tons of people haven't done before, but I am doing something that means a lot to me and is very challenging- and I couldn't do it without you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The slow crawl towards stage lean

4 weeks progress
I know people love to see progress photos, so here I am in my underwear for you.
This season has seemed like an especially long trek to me. I have been cutting for about 8 weeks now and my weight has not changed too significantly. I am down around 5lbs and about an inch in the waist, 2-3 inches in the hip area, and an inch and a half in the booty.
The cool thing is that in november, my measurements compared to now were larger through the waist, hips, and butt- but my weight is about 2lbs greater... so I know I have gained several pounds of muscle.
I am trying hard to not become frustrated with the slow progress, and to remind myself that even though I am frequently hungry I still eat more than a lot of women my height and weight do to maintain. Really I am doing great, I have lost fat while maintaining and possibly even increasing my muscle- which is a rare thing during a cut... but it's tough to work so hard and know I still have so far to go. I am estimating about 12-14lbs to really be where I want to be on stage this season... It may not happen, but I have many years to get good at cutting down to essential fat. I get dunked on saturday and I am very interested in seeing where my Lean Body Mass is in comparison to the last time I dunked over a year ago.
Cardio is hard for me, and being hungry sucks, but the toughest parts are the mental things- being patient and just trusting the process, having to fit every meal within a budget of calories/macros- with no free meals, and no meals out now that I am more limited in my calories. I really just want to go get nachos and a slice of pie... I am starting to remember all my tricks for making food volume increase while calories decrease, making the most of extracts and spices, and turning towards a few sugar free products to curb sweet cravings.
This is just me letting off a little steam, venting my frustrations... I have a harder time than some cutting body fat- my body really likes to keep its womanly bits. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, I may have a hard time losing fat but I gain muscle somewhat easily and each season, while on a deficit I have continued to gain muscle almost through my entire cut. I will make it to the stage by june, lean and in a better condition than my last season. I still don't know about april but I am not feeling very optimistic.
I am super resolved to reverse diet properly after my shows this summer and minimize the amount of fat I gain in my off season so that next year I hopefully only have to cut for 16 weeks instead of over 20. I can say with complete certainty that dieting is one of my most hated things are hardest challenges. I stay resolved knowing that what I am doing is going to make an impact and help change people's minds about veganism and maybe convert a few meat eaters.
my zen pump at golds gym capitol hill, seattle
photo by Karen Mishelof

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.