Eating clean but still no visible abs? READ THIS!

It has come to my attention that many of you may be feeling on top of your diet: you are eating clean, working out regularly, drinking lots of water, etc., but you still don’t have visible abs. So what gives?! Well, just because you are following an 80% (or better) Paleo lifestyle does not automatically = abs and a lean body. It’s much more than that. I am going to explain potential reasons why your abs aren’t showing and discuss the importance of macros if you are wanting to get leaner and have visible abs.  I will also address a few specific food items you should eliminate from your diet if you want to get lean! These are also foods I never eat, so, you won’t be alone in doing so 😉

Plain and simple: visible abs = low body fat. Abs truly are made in the kitchen. In order to get the abs showing, you gotta get rid of the layer of fat that is covering them. Sure, it’s great that you are eating really clean (probably not as clean as you think, however), drinking water all the time, and working out religiously, but if you are still consuming more calories than you are burning, you will not reduce the body fat enough to have visible abs. The first thing you must do is learn how to count your macros. (MACROS = protein, carbs, fat) Rather than explain to you all how to count your macros, I recommend you read this article here that does an awesome job of doing so. So, go ahead and read and calculate your macros (use the awesome calculate here) and then we will move forward. My macros are below:

  • Moderate activity days I need to eat 1,972 cals to maintain weight (add more or less if I want to gain/lose)
  • Very active days (Days that I workout are these days because my workouts are SUPER intense): 2,194 calories. So I round up to between 2,000 to 2200 calories most days as I am trying to gain muscle, but slowly over time, and my abs are already visible.
    • Protein: 96 grams
    • Fat: 61 grams
    • Carbs: 317 grams (Note: I don’t like to eat a lot of carbs…I probably don’t even eat 200g per day…I eat more protein and healthy fat)

So after you calculate your macros, if you are wanting to lose weight/drop fat but maintain muscle, per the article, you should cut your caloric intake by 20%. Learning how to track your macros can help you succeed in sculpting the body you want! Once you get the hang of it, you won’t have to count or track everything on a daily basis. I don’t count mine – I have a general idea of where I need to be/how much I need to eat and I just ensure that I am eating enough of the clean food I love throughout the day. I eat less on days I don’t workout (usually fewer carbs). If you are new to eating clean/paleo, I do recommend you track your food intake – if you are consuming too many calories (although clean calories) you will still gain weight!

Other things I want to mention cutting out if you are really wanting to get LEAN:

  • Dairy (all of it. No cheese no milk no yogurt. Cut it out)
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol (essentially a sugar/carb)
  • Starchy carbs (gluten/wheat, bread of any kind, limit sweet potatoes and rice too- cut rice out, actually, if you are really wanting to get lean and choose sweet potatoes instead since they’ve low glycemic index)
  • Eliminate vegetable oils (duh, you should already eliminate these- and eliminate them forever) – very rich in omega-6 fatty acids which we do not need more of

I never eat dairy. I don’t even like it because of how it makes me feel. Dairy is very inflammatory and we don’t process it well at all. Also read about that here. I HIGHLY recommend you cut it out. This includes almond milks and things of that nature too (most almond milk has fillers and thickeners such as carrageenan which will bloat you and make you puffy and cause other gastrointestinal horrors). Sugar should be obvious. You should cut it out as much as possible – including limiting “clean” (raw honey, pure maple syrup etc.) sugars. This is so important if you are wanting to reduce body fat. Alcohol is also obvious…if you have a lot of body fat to lose I would cut it out for a few months since it does nothing beneficial to your body. Or you can have 1 drink on the weekends…just keep it to a minimum and remember that once you get to the lean body size you desire, you can introduce alcohol again in moderation! ANY AND ALL BREAD/GLUTEN/WHEAT…cut it out 100%. No moderation here. There is a reason it’s not in the paleo diet – because it’s so inflammatory. I would cut back on all carbs for that matter, too! Limit your carb intake and don’t consume carbs after lunchtime OR consume your carbs solely around your workouts. Eat more vegetables and lean meats and be patient.

I maintain my lean physique because I never eat dairy, I never eat bread or vegetable oils, I never have added sugars and I limit my alcohol consumption. This is simply what has to be done if you want to be (and stay) lean and fit – focus your diet on water, vegetables, lean meat, raw nuts, fresh fruit. Simple foods and meals are best. Read ALL your labels. Additives like carrageenan wreak havoc on your system and can make you bloated and puffy. Start to write down and track your food: write down your fats, protein, carbs, and add it up throughout the day. Create “notes” on your iPhone like I used to do until I got the hang of everything. Keep track of it and you may find that you are simply eating too much of one thing, and not enough of the other. Follow the macro guidelines and figure out how much you need to eat. Also be honest with yourself – your workouts probably are not falling in the “very active” category unless you are burning 800 calories and really killing yourself in the gym for an hour or more. So be realistic with yourself or you will not see results. I also recommend you lift more weights, lift heavy, and do less cardio if you are currently doing ONLY cardio. Make weights your cardio (more muscle = burn more calories throughout the day)- lift heavy, intense, take short breaks between sets.

In sum, to get visible abs and reduce body fat:

  1. Figure out your macros and cut back on total calories consumed & write down everything you eat daily
  2. Increase physical activity: but focus on weightlifting and HIIT and not steady state cardio
  3. Ensure you have removed all dairy, gluten/wheat, sugar, and limit alcohol to 1 day per week
  4. Reduce carbohydrate intake: focus more on starchy vegetables and limit carbs after lunch; focus on carbs around workouts
  5. Ensure you are eating adequate lean protein (but not too much, 1 g per lb of body weight or a little less is fine)
  6. Continue to drink tons of water
  7. Continue to eat more vegetables
  8. Continue to swig Bragg’s ACV throughout the day, also starting your day with warm lemon cayenne water

Follow steps 1-5 for at least a month and see what kind of progress you make. Also, let me know how it goes! Remember, it takes discipline to see results so you must be realistic with yourself and what you are eating. Write everything down and don’t cheat as that is only hurting yourself in the long run!

Another interesting article discussing how to build muscle mass or lose fat, here! This is very interesting and he talks about when you should eat carbs, how much you should cut back if you want to lose fat, etc.

IMG_7698.PNG

 

 

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Why it’s superior

Steady state cardio is not only super boring and time-consuming, but also not nearly as beneficial (or efficient) as high intensity interval training. So what is high intensity interval training, or HIIT? Surely you’ve heard of it – or can guess by the name itself. This type of exercise ranges in length from as little as 10 minutes to as long as 30 minutes – and you are basically alternating between periods of very intense, breathless exercise, with recovery periods. Now, to each his own and if you are 100% happy with your body and love your steady state cardio then by all means, have at it. I, however, prefer the adrenaline rush I get from HIGH INTENSITY interval training (and lifting heavy weight) – so that is what I stick to in my regimen and that’s what works for me.

The types of HIIT you can do are endless! I love this type of workout because you get your heart rate elevated, get super sweaty, and then have a moment to breathe and recover, only to repeat the process! You will burn fat, improve your glucose metabolism and condition your heart better than any kind of steady state cardio. HIIT is also a lot more fun and exciting than steady state cardio. I never do steady state/conventional cardio. I keep my weight-lifting sessions fast-paced and heavy, so with limited rest these workouts double as cardio as well as resistance training. I also incorporate HIIT specific workouts ~3x per week – where I create a circuit for myself including rowing or running, plyometric exercises and weightlifting exercises (power cleans, clean and press, front squats, goblet squats, etc.).

If you are completely new to working out, I do recommend you start slow and work your way up to more HIIT sessions. Once prepared, HIIT is the best way to torch fat, speed up your metabolism, and allow you to eat more throughout the day since you’re burning more calories throughout the day. If you’ve been exercising now for a while, it’s time to ramp up the intensity and start to really push yourself – that is, if you want to improve your fitness levels and get a leaner body.

So why is HIIT better at burning fat than steady state? High intensity exercise increases your mitochondrial capacity – which increases your fat loss/fat burning capacity throughout the day as opposed to steady state – which only burns calories at that specific moment. Also, the body is very adaptive. And if you are only doing steady state cardio, over time you will have to continue to do more and more in order to continue to burn fat and/or lose weight. Essentially, when it comes to cardio, research shows that intensity matters more – not duration. Another benefit of HIIT is that it’s better at preserving lean muscle mass than steady state. We lose muscle mass as we age, so, I do everything that I can now to prevent this! Which includes HIIT and weightlifting. Excessive steady-state cardio actually reduces testosterone levels in men.

I am not here to tell you to stop all low intensity cardio and only do HIIT.  This is just what works for me and what I prefer. I am able to eat like a horse and still be tiny, thanks to high intensity exercise and heavy weightlifting. (Hello, who wouldn’t love that!?) So unless you are a distance runner or someone who loves to bike long, long miles, I suggest you incorporate HIIT as opposed to solely steady-state cardio.

For ideas on how to create HIIT workouts, check out my blog here and mix and match some of those exercises to create your own circuit for 15, 20, or even 30 mins. You can also include a circuit at the end of a weight training session, e.g., a 10 minute circuit! As usual, any questions at all please don’t hesitate to ask me!

 

References:

Burn and Shred those abs!

I don’t do crunches. I hate them. They’re boring and really don’t help you get amazing abs. I prefer to do a lot of HIIT (high intensity interval training) which helps you burn tons of fat and in turn, displays ab muscles. I DO try to work abs at least 2x a week; now I am actually focusing to get them in 3x a week! The following are some of my favs that burn so good:

 

  1. Weighted bicycle crunches – I hold 5-8 lbs behind my head and do 4-5 sets of 50 reps. KILLS.
  2. Hanging leg raises. These may be a challenge to some but I love to do them. Try not to let your body sway at all. Do 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps.
  3. Toes to bar. Even more challenging than hanging leg raise. Do 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps
  4. Weighted Russian twists – I like to use 25# plate and do 3-5 sets of 30-50 reps
  5. Side plank pulses – get into a side plank (I support myself on my hand as opposed to forearm/elbow), and do small little pulses up-about 25-30 per side; 3 sets per side
  6. Forearm to Plank  – 3 sets of 1 min each
  7. Flutter kicks 3 sets 30-45 seconds each
  8. Mountain climbers on medicine ball 3-5 sets 50 reps
  9. KB Swings – these really work your core and shoulders and burn tons of fat when incorporated into workouts- I do 3-6 sets of 15-25 with 35# or 40#
  10. Jackknife on ball – This link takes you to a bunch of Swiss ball exercises however the 1st one is the one to which I am referring! These are awesome and help with shoulder strength as well as core and lower back. I do 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

So there you go! You do not have to do all of these in one session – I recommend taking 3 at a time and mixing them in after a workout or as a superset to others!

image.jpeg

How to Boost your Metabolism

image.png

Ok. So I am not an expert on this subject by any means, but, I do know some stuff. And I know what works for me. So that’s what I’m gonna talk about. Metabolism is a tricky subject and if your body is already out of whack it may take some time to get it going. But I know what works, so you just have to be disciplined and stick to my methods (no cheating) and I’m certain you can get your metabolism going!

  1. LIFT WEIGHTS. And lift heavy. Ladies, step away from the 5-10 lb weights. Granted, if you’ve never lifted a weight before you will have to start small and build your way up, but, I guarantee it won’t take long with proper coaching and adequate dedication. I lift heavy. Please don’t be afraid of getting bulky because it just won’t happen. I shoulder press with 50+ pounds, squat 130#, bench 80#, curl 25 per arm etc. Lifting heavy builds muscle which BURNS CALORIES y’all! I eat around 2200 cals a day! Granted, I work out super hard (think breathless for an hour + of lifting and plyos). So I burn sh*t tons of calories first thing in the morning. But I guarantee if you start lifting and keep your workouts intense with an elevated heart rate (think 170+ the whole time), you will boost your metabolism.
  2. Workout at 530 AM. Fasted. This is when I train during the week. Most people are not morning people so I know this may not work for you. And that’s fine. I am a unique individual in that I love working out first thing in the morning as opposed to after work. It gets my day going and I feel more awake on those days! Working out fasted is even more special. You immediately start tapping into to fat stores since you’ve nothing in your stomach. Add the lemon water + cayenne + coffee (organic coffee only) and mct oil and well, you’ve just tripled your fat burning potential (these are all things I do daily). The caffeine of coffee helps your endurance while training and the mct oil that I take is a fat that turns STRAIGHT to energy. Mct oil (from organic coconuts!) is glorious. Getcha some now!
  3. Drink tons of water. This is a no brainer. Water cleans out your system and I’m a firm believer in tons of it. It helps your system work better and flushes out toxins and we all know that TOXINS slow down your metabolism which leads me to my next topic of
  4. EAT CLEAN. Yes y’all. Quit cheating. Looking good is easy if you do what I do. But you can’t cheat. It’s a lifestyle. Eat clean 24/7. Make clean treats. Drink tons of water. No artificial anything. It’s imperative. I promise that you will do your body tons of good if you start eating clean and make this sh*t a priority! I don’t cheat. You won’t ever find me eating fried food, bread, drinking soda or eating Oreos or ice cream. It’s just not gonna happen. That stuff is poison to your body and slows your metabolism. So yeah, no secrets. Eat clean. Period!
  5. Limit alcohol. I used to drink wine just about every night. I slept horribly and it was negatively affecting my workouts so I quit that mess. I may have a glass during the week but I’ll tell you now that it’s organic and it’s 1 glass. Not three. Not a bottle. I may have a beer here and there too like I mentioned before! But again, I have ONE and it’s not even every night. And I follow it with tons of water and a detox bath. Alcohol is terrible for you so I recommend you do yourself and your skin a favor and cut back. It’s OK to have a few drinks on a weekend, but you better make sure you’re eating clean and drinking tons of water with those drinks. And avoid the sugary crappy ones! Those lime green margaritas at cheap Mexican places? Sick! That’s corn syrup, sugar and tequila. No thanks. I know y’all don’t wanna hear this but you need to be taking a hard look at every single thing you are putting in that body of yours. I treat mine like a temple because I wanna look as good as possible for as long as possible! Yes you can look good at 70-just eat clean and lift heavy and I promise it’s possible.
  6. Sugar is poison. Limit it. Period. Wreaks havoc on you skin and your body. If you look at sugar like I do then it’ll be easier to resist. It’s not your friend so step away from the free donuts at work – you will thank yourself later. I feel sorry for people who eat that actually..grosses me out.
  7. Eat quality protein. And limit your carbs. If you’re trying to get your metabolism going this is very necessary. Your body has to burn more calories to break down protein and any kind of carb turns into sugar in the body. So eat more veggies (preferably organic or by following my list here ) and you will be on the right track!

Anyways so those are my tips on boosting your metabolism and telling you like it is! Eat clean as much as possible, drink tons of water, lift heavy and often! No secrets. Granted, you will be able to cheat on occasion when you get your metabolism in order. But nothing overboard! I’ll do a blog later on my “cheats” – but they aren’t often and I do my best to make up for them the next day at the gym. Do the work and you’ll look good.

Ask me anything you want and I’ll tell you! I’m here for tips and advice so feel free to email me! Go eat clean and lift heavy y’all!

 

 

To eat gluten or not?

This is always a controversial subject. My choice to go GLUTEN FREE (I’d say 90-95% of the time) is because I am very picky about which grains I will eat. Many grains are highly inflammatory: processed bread and wheat being the main culprit (also, gluten is in practically every single processed food so if you cut that out, you are eliminating processed food altogether which is of course EXCELLENT). No, I do not have celiac disease, but I have found through trial-and-error that my body feels and operates BEST without gluten/wheat. Inflammation in the gut can lead to intestinal permeability, aka “leaky gut” and the symptoms can be found here: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/leaky-gut-syndrome

As stated before, I am super picky about the grains I will eat! I even limit rice (*note!: it’s brown rice that wreaks havoc, more on that here) because too much is simply indigestible – same goes for beans. I operate best on clean meat, veggies, fruit, oats – hence my passion for the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. I recommend you guys try it out for thirty days and see how you feel – I can guarantee if you follow it (strictly  and no cheating) you will no longer feel bloated, puffy, gassy (gross, I know), or constipated. Your skin will probably look better too.

So, when do I consume gluten? I allow myself to indulge in high quality craft beer – IPA only. I hate beer for the most part. The reason I actually love IPA is due to the super hoppiness- it doesn’t even taste like regular beer, really (I am sure a lot of people hate IPA’s because of that reason). I love to enjoy an IPA (or 2) on occasion (key word, occasion). This does not happen everyday, however, and if I do have a beer during the week it’s at most 1 (come on, we have to be disciplined and you won’t get abs drinking beer all the time – or wine for that matter). That is basically the only time I ingest gluten (yep-please don’t make me a birthday cake because I won’t eat it unless it’s gluten free and clean).

You may want to ask if I eat pizza! Well, if Brian and I make homemade pizza (which happens a few times a year-not often), we always make gluten free. We love Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pizza crust mix (which you can get here OR whole foods: http://www.vitacost.com/bobs-red-mill-gluten-and-wheat-free-pizza-crust-mix-16-oz-17 . If you read the ingredients, it’s made with rice flour which does not cause an inflammatory response like gluten does (in my opinion). Still, however, I limit my grain intake. Grains always turn to sugar – so once again I go back to the whole Paleo/Primal approach which has a focus on veggies, fruit, meat, nuts, etc.

Clean bread options: Ezekiel bread is a sprouted grain bread that DOES have gluten and it is a good choice for those who just HAVE to have bread. I used to eat this almost daily, but, found that I became bloated and gross feeling so I cut it out as well. This is still a good option (IN MODERATION). Ezekiel bread can be found in the frozen bread section-it is truly delicious and on rare occasions I may purchase some! But once again, it contains gluten, which can upset sensitive stomachs so I wouldn’t eat this every day by any means – maybe once or twice a week every now and then. Here is what the bread looks like: http://www.foodforlife.com/about_us/ezekiel-49

So that is my take on gluten and why I choose to go gluten free. It’s a personal choice. I feel best avoiding grains, period. So I recommend if you have been considering going gluten free/testing this out, please do, and let me know your thoughts!

 

Why eat clean?

FullSizeRender

Do you struggle to lose weight? Struggle with maintaining a healthy weight? Sick of feeling tired, low energy, depressed and bad about yourself? Do you have issues “eliminating” daily (sorry if TMI)!! Do you want brighter skin and more energy? Do you want to anti-age daily and be fit for life?? Then you definitely need to join the “dirtclean” lifestyle.

Listen, I have SO been there before! Yo-yo dieting, stepping on the scale and being depressed, the strict calorie-deficit diets, eating “health” bars and “diet” shakes for a meal, never being full, etc. Y’all this isn’t the way to live or to do it! The BEAUTY of eating clean and following what I call a “dirtclean” lifestyle is that you can eat so much (clean) food and you are not deprived. Eating clean is about COMPLETELY ELIMINATING chemicals from your food choices: No fried food. No fast food. No soda. No candy. No processed food. No donuts (gross!) No dairy (occasional grassfed cheese, organic creamer, organic yogurt in moderation-ok). No vegetable oils (coconut oil, grassfed butter is it!) No artificial sweeteners (yep-cut out the Splenda, sweet n low, etc. That stuff is poison). No sugar (besides organic maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, raw organic/local honey, etc.). Get it? I promise this is easy once you get used to it and begin to reap the benefits.

“Oh gosh so what am I going to eat?!?!?”,you may be asking. SO MUCH! I enjoy eating organic oats/oatmeal, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies (dirty dozen = buy organic, always), sweet potatoes, organic rices, quinoa, almond butter, organic peanut butter (limited amounts of this…peanuts are a legume i.e. still somewhat inflammatory but I do love peanut butter and life is too short to give it up 100%), grassfed beef, lamb, chicken (clean meats from quality farmers) etc. etc. ! Once you start cooking your own food and learning HOW to shop in a grocery store and how to read labels, you will start to feel amazing and see results, and this all becomes second nature. The weight will start to fall off. You will become more “regular”. Your skin will be healthier. YOU will be healthier. You will feel better and look better and live longer.

Our bodies are not designed to digest and eat chemicals. Step away from the aisles of processed junk in the grocery store. Refuse the donuts and the cake (it’s pure sugar and bleached flour! YUCK). Stop eating fast food. Stop eating candy. You are basically eating chemicals and AGING yourself every step of the way. Not to mention that all those chemicals in processed food cause cancer and lead to other diseases as well.

So, are you ready? Are you ready to FIND and BECOME your best self? Are you ready to improve your life, both inside and out? Go clean out your pantry and your fridge. THROW IT ALL AWAY (my motto). Start fueling your body with the nutrition it needs! Gain self-confidence. Treat your body like the temple it is-stop abusing yourself with poisonous junk in the form of food. Be #dirtclean