5 Reasons to Strength Train

RELIEVE OVERALL ACHES AND PAINS.

Did you know that the majority of lower back pain and neck pain are caused from being sedentary? Strength training teaches you to use your core and helps keep your posture in check – with the majority of Americans spending their days hunched over a computer screen. Adequate strength training teaches you to not only use your core as well as proper body placement, but also strengthens all the muscles to help support your spine. If you regularly work your muscles, they will get stronger and be able to support the daily activities. I, personally, notice that my body aches and hurts if I DON’T strength train – for example if I am sick for a few days or even if I take the day off and don’t move as much as I should – my body actually hurts. I hate it! Or if I am struck traveling in the car – my body hurts. I hate that feeling so I rarely take days off and my planned rest days always incorporate lots and lots of walking and yoga. It FEELS GOOD to be strong. I have no scoliosis issues also with my constant strength training. My muscles are strong so they support my spine and I do not experience pain.

BOOST YOUR METABOLISM, CONFIDENCE, BODY APPEARANCE.

This is obvious. When you have more muscle you burn more calories at rest. It’s proven research. Muscle requires much more energy than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest and otherwise. The only way to get muscle is to STRENGTH TRAIN. Along with this metabolism boost you will also notice you are much more confident, and your body will be lookin’ GOOD! Trust me ladies, strength training will not make you bulky. It will cause you to gain muscle mass which is SMALLER AND MORE COMPACT than fat, therefore your clothes will fit better. You will have a tighter, smaller waist and sexy, feminine curves. You will not bulk up “like a man” as we simply do not have the testosterone to do so. You will ONLY get “manly” if you eat 3000 (of crappy food) calories a day (example/exaggeration) and take hormone supplements. So don’t be afraid to strength train and lift heavy because I sure do and I am still tiny. People come up to me all the time in the gym and ask how I lift so much weight being such a tiny girl. I laugh and say THANK YOU! #confidence

MAINTAIN MUSCLE MASS AS YOU AGE/DEFY AGING. 

As you age you lose bone mass and muscle mass. Each year women who do not regularly strength train lose 1/2 pound of muscle. So what does that mean? You have more fat and less muscle each year. In other words, the calories you do consume go straight to being stored as adipose (fat) tissue. If you strength train you keep your bones strong and healthy and you hang on to that loved and desired muscle mass. You will be able to get out and be more productive well into old age. You will be less likely to fall or break something as you age because you will have improved balance and stability and strength and coordination. Strength training lowers your blood pressure, boosts your libido, aids in getting rid of toxins in the body, and keeps your skin healthy through the natural process of sweating and detoxifying. You will also be happier, in general.

YOU WILL BE MORE PRODUCTIVE. 

I get it – people are busy in this country. Trust me because I STAY busy. However, being so busy and also still getting my 5-6 days of workouts in teaches me HOW TO MANAGE MY TIME. In other words, I am very productive. What may seem like not a lot of time to some people, is a lot of time to me because I have become excellent at time-management. I realize that if I only have 30-45 minutes for a workout one day, I can still get a lot done in that short amount of time. Working out doesn’t have to take 2 hours. Or even an hour and a half (although I love it so much I could be at the gym all day). If you learn how to be efficient you can get a killer cardio AND weight session in 30-40 minutes. Strength training teaches you to be efficient in the rest of your daily life and it also GIVES you the extra strength to do so. You will be better able to carry heavy items or groceries or pick up the kids etc.

BURN MORE FAT + BELLY FAT.

As previously stated, weight training increases your muscle mass which in turn reduces your overall body fat and makes you more efficient at burning calories at rest. It also helps burn belly fat. Cardio alone will not burn belly fat. You will simply burn calories all over and perhaps yes lose some weight, however, you will be losing BOTH fat and muscle. Per an article on active.com, Penn State researches did a study and found out of three groups of people : no exercise, cardio only, and cardio and strength training, those who included the weight training shed six more pounds of fat than those who did not. The lifters loss of weight was almost all PURE FAT and the others lost fat AND muscle. Who wants to burn away muscle mass? Not me. So I make strength training a priority out of everything I do. If you are strength training you are building muscle and using your muscles AND burning calories. It is so important to do both lifting and cardio. Or if you are like me, I make lifting sessions so intense they also count as cardio OR I finish my lifting sessions with 10-15 minutes of HIIT. That’s the way you torch your fat!

 

I hope these reasons may convince you to start strength training if you have not already. And if you are strength training, then yay! Keep it up!!!!! You will thank yourself when you are older. If you are feeling overwhelmed and not sure what workouts to do or if you workout at home and need advice or want help, please feel free to email me. I also want you guys to know you don’t have to do the workouts I do – I know I am really intense and kinda extreme but it’s because I am so passionate and just want to be as fit and strong as I can and I will strive for better every day. 30 minutes of working out a day will still help you and benefit you as you age and you can accomplish a ton in just 30 minutes. The main thing is to do something! I hope I inspire you all to be healthier every day!

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For more:

http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/12-reasons-you-should-lift-weights

Food Combining: Learn how coupling certain foods can wreak havoc on your digestive system!

I want to discuss food combining and inform you of some “rules” that could help you if you have digestive issues. Did you know that coupling certain foods together can actually cause major issues in your body? In other words, when you couple certain foods at one meal, such as yogurt and fruit (melons in particular), your stomach as a really hard time digesting them and can cause major acidity and inflammation in the body. I will go into more detail and list a few other food combining rules and link to some sites where you can get more information.

  1. Fruit on a full stomach. Fruit does not combine well with other foods at all because fruit is made up of simple sugars that require very little digestion (hence why you can eat a banana on an empty stomach and then go workout vigorously with no issue). Thus, if they are eaten with other foods they will sit in the stomach for a long time waiting on the other foods to digest. This will lead to fermentation of the fruit sugar which can cause digestion discomfort. I always eat fruit by itself or at most with spinach and water and protein powder. Something very fast digesting (NO milk!).
  2. Protein & protein. I don’t always follow this one to a T, but, everyone reacts differently. It is said that two or more different types of proteins are hard to digest and requires significant energy from the body. An example of this is pairing eggs with a meat – and definitely don’t add cheese to that as it further slows digestion.
  3. Beans and dairy. Both of these by themselves can cause bloating and gas. Beans are filled with fiber and are best eaten in very small quantities or by themselves. The combination with dairy is what wreaks havoc as humans do not digest dairy well at all. Try goat milk or goat-dairy products. But still, consume separate from beans.
  4. Milk and bananas (fruit in general). This is supposedly one of the most heavy and toxin-forming meals. Ayurveda (one of the world’s oldest holistic medicines) lists this as a highly incompatible meal combination. Food can be poison or medicine, as you know through my blog. And this is one not to be eaten together. This is why I make my protein shakes with water and water alone! No milk!
  5. Dairy and fruit. Milk is a laxative and fruit (MELONS in particular) are a diuretic. Milk and dairy take so long to digest and fruit does not, so, the fruit will sit in the stomach and curdle the milk, potentially creating lots of acidity in the body. 
  6. Protein and starch. Ok ok ok so I don’t follow this to a T because y’all KNOW I love sweet potatoes. BUT these are supposed to take so long to digest and cause issues. However, I don’t experience issues eating sweet potatoes with meat so in my body, I am good there. HOWEVER – this is the reason why I eliminated gluten/wheat/white bread/etc.etc. from my diet because of the major stomach issues it gave me and bloating, etc. This is also why I don’t eat brown rice as it’s much harder to digest than white rice. So many starches are detrimental to our bodies and cause inflammation. It’s why I stick to sweet potatoes, organic white potatoes in (extreme) moderation, and white rice. Oh and organic oats.
  7. Last but not least, cold drinks after a meal. Avoid consuming such during a meal also as this slows digestion and can cause allergies and colds. I prefer hot tea after my meals and I limit drinking water during a meal. If I do sip water, it is room temperature.

So, try some of these things out and let me know if they seem to help your digestion! I know I was shocked and excited to learn all of these things about food combining! I hope this helps you. This is one of the things I love about the mostly Paleo lifestyle as many foods are eliminated from the diet (most beans/legumes, brown rice, gluten, cheese/dairy). So, many of these food combinations would never happen in the Paleo diet lifestyle. Notice how problematic dairy is!!! This is why I just don’t consume it (or consume in very small quantities very rarely).

#primalforlife #paleoprinciples

XOXO,
Kelly

For more:

MEAL PREP FOR DUMMIES: My tips and tricks for success during the week

Meal prepping can often seem like a daunting task. What do I cook?!? How much do I buy?! How do I store all of this food? WELL let me just give you a few tips that will make this seem less intimidating and these are baby steps you can incorporate into your routine on Sunday if you find yourself having issues sticking to meal prepping!

  1. BOIL EGGS! I do this every Sunday. I put about 8-10 eggs in a pot of water and bring to a rapid boil and then immediately turn it off, cover it, and leave it on the eye for 9 mins. Perfect eggs! Put in ice bath right after and store in fridge. Eat throughout the week.
  2. COOK A TON OF BAKED CHICKEN. If you don’t know what the heck to cook, just bake a ton of chicken. Throw some chopped onions in there too. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. I love dijon mustard as a condiment. Just make sure they did not sneakily add sugar to it!
  3. STEAM TONS OF BROCCOLI. Again, this is great to have on hand! Add a little salt and pepper and eat with your chicken. Broccoli is so good for you and it will make you feel amazing. Force feed if neccessary. Your body and your abs (or future abs 😉 will thank you!)
  4. COOK MEAT IN THE CROCKPOT. If you don’t have a crockpot, get one! They are SO easy and wonderful! You can put some meat in there with some spices and forget about it! Get a large pork shoulder or beef of some kind OR chicken if you are cutting fat and put it in that morning and you will come home to a delicious meat for your meal! EASY. So get a crockpot and use it. I have so  many crockpot dishes….pineapple pulled pork and chicken – check my crockpot tab on my blog front page.
  5. ROAST SWEET POTATOES. Wash. Dry. Stick on roasting pan. Roast 1 hour at 400. Cut in half and you’ve got carbs for lunch and dinner. Add grassfed (make sure grassfed) butter and cinnamon and pink salt. Heavy on cinnamon light on salt 😉
  6. COOK RICE IN BULK. 1-2 cups. White jasmine is my preference. Great to eat post workout! Don’t forget it’s very important to get carbs after your workout – white rice is a great source as it’s fast digesting. Re-fuels your muscles.
  7. HAVE YOUR DINNERS PLANNED. The only way to successfully stay on the eating clean wagon is to prepare. Prepare your meals. Plan them. Take some time on Saturday or Sunday morning. Sit down and write it out! Write out your lunches and dinners – I make sure to know what I am having through Thursday, at least! Friday it’s easier to run by the store if necessary since the next day is a weekend. So at least be prepared to have meals through Thursday. Go buy EVERYTHING for them on Sunday (or Sat AM) so it’s ready in the fridge. I personally cook fresh veggies and or sweet potatoes every single night so I make sure to cook my meats on Sunday and that’s it (in regards to my dinners). Throw some pork in a crockpot or some chicken and shred it and then you just have to reheat. It’s easy to prep veggies each night, it’s harder to prep an entire meal! Plus, veggies are BEST FRESH when possible because microwaving does zap some of the nutrients – so I try to limit microwave use (although for lunch that’s not possible).
  8. PREP THE NIGHT BEFORE. Before you go to bed prep the coffee so you can just hit the button and take it with you to the gym (or to drink at home if you workout at home). Prep your mug for your lemon water. Get the cayenne out and sit it next to the mug. Put your meals in glass containers (I prefer glass – microwaving plastic, even BPA free, is still putting chemicals in your food. Target and Walmart have great, cheap glass containers. Lid does not have to be glass). INVEST IN A LUNCHBOX. Does not have to be fancy. Just get one. Carry it with pride. Your homecooked meals are much better for you than eating out at any restaurant. This is the lunchbox brand I use.
  9. BUY GLASS CONTAINERS/TUPPERWARE. As stated before, go to Walmart or Target ASAP and buy at least 5 of these for your lunches so they are prepped. I like glass for microwaving but I do use plastic for just storage in the fridge at home. Stock up on these because then you can meal prep like a pro.
  10. WHEN IN DOUBT, BUY MORE VEGGIES. AND ACTUALLY EAT THEM. Try to limit your fruit servings. I know fruit is good for you but it’s still a lot of sugar. I limit my servings to 2 per day and the rest is veggies. Make yourself eat them and you will eventually love them. Be sure to have 1-2 servings of veggies (preferably green) at lunch and have 1-2 at dinner. The more the merrier. Buy more than you think you need and follow my recipes to make them taste amazing. Roasting is the best way and you can basically cook everything the same…425 degrees or so for 15 mins…broccoli, brussels, cauliflower (cook cauliflower longer though), asparagus, onions, etc. etc etc. Balsamic vinegar is great but I also love just using garlic powder, red pepper flakes, sea salt, pepper! Red pepper flakes and garlic powder make any veggie taste outstanding. Just do it. Veggies are so good for you and prevent disease and keep you healthy. COUNT YOUR SERVINGS! Aim for 7-9 each day. Like I said, 2 servings of fruit and the rest veggies. Avocado counts as a serving, too!
  11. AND ON THAT NOTE, PUT SPINACH/KALE IN YOUR SHAKES/SMOOTHIESIt adds no taste. Just tons of vitamins. Do it!!!!! Don’t forget to get some of my favorite protein as well!!!

You have to believe in yourself, and not focus on the fact you are buying so much food or cooking so much. This is the healthiest thing you can do for your body. Get your family on board too – try to stick with it for a full month and by then it will be easy and you will feel so much better. I love knowing where each of my meals comes from and knowing that there are no hidden ingredients that can potentially damage my health. I am here if you have questions or concerns…just get started!!!!! Make it a fun family thing – and all of my delicious recipes are EASY, DELICIOUS, and NUTRITIOUS! Go trash all the junk in your kitchen this weekend. Get it out of the house. That is the only way you won’t be tempted. And go shop for your week and be prepared with nothing but clean food. Stick with it, I promise it gets easier!

 

xoxo!

Kelly

Health Improving Bone Broth

I have been wanting to make bone broth for months and months now. The issue was finding HIGH QUALITY bones at a decent price. With working full time as well as working out 5-6 days a week, finding good quality bones often isn’t on my top list of priorities (lol). I finally went to the farmers market over the weekend and found a local business that sells bones at a great price so I got some and made bone broth. It turned out so great and I am hooked!

Bone broth is so good for you because of the gelatin – it contains amino acids which contribute to its healing properties. Bone broth can heal gut issues and fix leaky gut! My favorite reason to love and consume bone broth is because it’s essentially liquid botox due to the collagen! It will help your hair, skin and nails as well as improve the strength of your bones (due to the phosphorus, magnesium and calcium). It’s very inexpensive to make and once you do it you will realize it’s actually quite simple. Bone broth has so many health benefits and with fall coming up you simply must learn to make it yourself and enjoy a soothing cup on a chilly day (or a warm day) to reap the health benefits. It’s also great if and when you are sick because of the immune-boosting properties! I found grassfed/pasture raised pork bones for $3 a pound and beef bones for $4 a pound! You only need a few pounds of bones and then celery, carrots, onion and garlic (which are all very cheap) so once it’s finished you are looking at a cost of less than $2 a serving.

HOW TO MAKE AND WHAT YOU NEED:

  • At least 2 pounds (2-4) of grassfed/pasture raised beef or pork bones (high quality bones are important because the healthier the animal, the healthier the bone broth)
  • 3 stalks roughly chopped organic celery
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Thyme, parsley, pink salt, optional

Get your crockpot and plug it in. Put your bones in the crockpot (mine were frozen) and add 8 cups of filtered (important) water. Then add all of your veggies and the vinegar and give it a good stir. The vinegar helps draw out all of the nutrients so you can let the bones sit in the cool water with the vinegar for 30 minutes if you want before cooking. Then turn on crockpot and cook on lowest heat setting for 20-24 hours. I turned mine on low for 10 and then when that finished I restarted it and cooked another 10 hours. Just before it’s done you can add your herbs (I actually forgot this part but it still tasted amazing). Just place as much thyme and parsley as you want in the pot and let it continue to cook a little longer.

When it’s finished, simply remove all of the veggies/bones from the pot and pour through a strainer (it’s great if you have 2 people for this part). I poured mine through a strainer over a large bowl placed in the sink. Then you can ladle it into smaller containers and store in the fridge. This keeps for 1 week so drink a cup a day! Enjoy!! I plan to warm a cup over the stove – not in the microwave – as microwaves destroy nutrients in food so I do try to avoid using them as much as I can. **note that after this cools in the fridge you will need to scrape the fat layer off and into the garbage!

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How it looked when it was finished – they say you will have a layer of nastiness at the top if the bones were not healthy – the healthier the bones, the less foam/junk floats to the top. As you can see I did not have any! Yay! Healthy bones.

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Yum! Enjoy!

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Benefits of PROBIOTICS + Clean sources

The benefits of probiotics are immense! What are probiotics?  Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that keep our guts healthy. They occur naturally in certain foods such as fermented veggies (sauerkraut) and yogurt. You can also take a pill version of probiotics, but, I find that these are often very pricey and it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to consume fermented veggies on a daily basis (occasionally some organic grass-fed yogurt too). So, just how are probiotics beneficial? I will list a few reasons:

  1. Probiotics keep our digestive system healthy and 80% of our entire immune system is located in our digestive tract (Dr. Axe).
  2. Over 40% of diseases have been linked to bacterial imbalance – probiotics (along with a clean diet) can keep our gut bacteria in shape!
  3. Probiotics can help heal IBS
  4. Reduce flu and colds
  5. Prevent cavities and gum disease
  6. Lose weight
  7. Battle cancer
  8. Improve acne

The list goes on and on. A few probiotic KILLERS include grains (gluten), antibiotics, sugar, tap water, GMO foods, and chemicals. In order to actually reap the benefits of probiotics, you should clean up your diet first and foremost and eliminate processed foods, fried foods, sugar, wheat, soda, etc. THEN start taking probiotics – I recommend fermented veggies, e.g., sauerkraut! It’s very important that you clean up your diet first and foremost if you are wanting to improve your health. Eating garbage food and then taking a probiotic in pill form will not do much to help you anti-age or prevent cancers, illness, disease, etc. You must first clean your diet 100%!

My favorite brand of sauerkraut is Bubbies as it’s very simple, clean, and it’s a good price (around $6.99 for a large jar). You should be able to find it in the cold/refrigerated section of a grocery store (I shop at Whole Foods but other higher end grocery stores or even occasionally Publix should carry this). I eat 1/4 cup serving per day and it even counts as a vegetable serving! Sauerkraut benefits digestive issues such as leaky gut and constipation, and it can even help you get over a cold faster!

Organic yogurt is also a source for probiotics, however, I do not promote dairy consumption on a daily basis as I am closely (notice I say closely and not 100%) aligned with Paleo principles. Occasionally I do buy organic, grass-fed yogurt with probiotics and I will eat a little bit on my oatmeal. As far as daily basis goes for probiotic consumption, I prefer sauerkraut as it’s a vegetable and veggies are always the most beneficial and nutritious option; my diet is centered on clean vegetables and clean meats first and foremost.

Another type of probiotic is kefir. Kefir is similar to yogurt as it is fermented dairy, however, it is suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. I would recommend a plain (not flavored or sweetened), organic kind, as they do have flavored kefirs and these are filled with artificial ingredients, preservatives, thickeners, sugar, etc., and none of that is good for us to consume. Read more about kefir here.

Below are images of the sauerkraut that I buy as well as my favorite yogurt (when I do buy yogurt, as stated before).

 

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Try adding these to your diet to reap the benefits!

 

References:

Is your “health bar” a fraud? Read your labels for these common harmful ingredients

I am often asked if something is healthful/nutritious or not, and very often it’s some type of health bar. I totally get it guys…you want a snack or some kind of QUICK FOOD with perhaps some protein and nuts or something. So you want a bar you can grab and take with you. The sad thing is, most of the “health bars” out there are NOT HEALTHY AT ALL! I am going to list some common ingredients in those health bars and explain why they’re detrimental. Also, sugar comes in MANY different forms so I am going to list a few of the common names to watch out for.

  1. CANOLA OIL. Highly processed oil. This oil is not only 90% GMO (genetically modified), but also it’s a hydrogenated oil. Think: cancer causing and inflammation provoking. Much better options are coconut oil, 100% pure olive oil, organic ghee or grass-fed butter.
  2. BROWN RICE SYRUP. Another word for SUGAR. Zero nutritional value and very high glycemic index (worse than table sugar, actually), avoid this like the plague.
  3. SUCRALOSE. (AKA Splenda) This is an artificial sweetener, which of course, we want to avoid like the plague as it can cause cancer and alter your taste-buds to where you actually crave MORE sweets. I avoid anything with sucralose at ALL costs.
  4. NATURAL FLAVORINGS. What the heck are these? These “natural flavors” can contain hundreds if not thousands of other ingredients that don’t have to be disclosed. More likely than not, these are genetically modified ingredients. Natural flavors are not natural – they are altered in a lab. This is why we want to avoid them – because we have no clue what they are. If you see them in a food item, do yourself a favor and put it back! While consuming these in moderation may be OK (no you won’t get cancer from occasional natural flavors), it’s obviously best to center our diet around real, whole foods and not questionable ingredients like these. I avoid them. Read more about why natural flavors are such a proble HERE – Food Babe is one of my favorite most inspiring people.  David Kessler, former head of the FDA, even disagrees with the use of natural flavors. They make you crave more food – don’t eat them!
  5. SOY LECITHIN. This is a food additive that is made from cottonseed, rapeseed, soybeans or sunflower. Many side effects of consumption include bloating, skin rashes, stomach pain, etc. Soy lecithin is made from SOY, and 90% of soy is genetically modified, therefore should be avoided. Also, women in particular should avoid consuming soy products as it can mimic estrogen in the body and this can lead to the potential of breast cancer cell development.
  6. FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL Palm oil, palm kernel oil, fractionated palm kernel oil. WHAT IS WITH ALL THESE PALM OILS! First of all, palm oil and palm kernel oil are different. Palm oil comes from the fruit itself and palm kernel comes from the pit. The main difference is that PALM FRUIT OIL is 50% saturated fat as opposed to palm kernel oil which is 80% saturated fat. Palm oil from the fruit itself IS more healthful due to the higher antioxidant content. Palm kernel oil has a similar chemical structure to that of coconut oil, however, this does not mean it’s equal to coconut oil in terms of nutrition. Palm kernel oil cannot be obtained organically, which is interesting, and must be extracted from the pit using a “gasoline-like hydrocarbon solvent”. Fractionated palm kernel oil should be avoided like the plague because EVEN MORE processed. It’s used by manufacturers who like its stability and melting characteristics. The healthful properties are lost at this point, when you get to fractionated palm kernel oil. Further making palm oil a problem is the production itself which is leading to deforestation and abuse of workers. More than 85% of the palm oil in packaged foods in the U.S. is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia where human rights abuse is very common.  – think child labor and forced labor. As I mentioned, it’s leading to rainforest destruction, as well as driving orangutans to extinction. It is because of these things that you should avoid purchasing anything with conventional palm oil/palm kernel oil. Sustainable palm oil is an approach that aims to produce palm oil without harming people, animals, or causing deforestation. However, there are still questions regarding whether or not this is 100% truthful and not just a scheme. Read more about palm oil here. At the very least, if you must purchase products with palm oil, choose sustainably sourced, palm oil from the fruit.In regards to consuming MCT oil of quality, PURCHASE THIS BRAND HERE – as it’s made from organic coconuts and definitely high quality oil.

FORMS OF SUGAR/OTHER INGREDIENTS TO AVOID: Besides what is already listed, avoid anything ending in “-ose”, maltodextrin, beet sugar, corn sugar, turbinado, malt syrup, carob syrup, brown sugar, cane juice solids/crystals, barley malt, agave syrup, rice syrup,  to name a few.

At the end of the day, avoid processed foods as much as you can, this includes pre-packaged “health” bars or protein bars. Most of them are filled with a combination of the above ingredients are are simply not good for your health. Try making your own homemade clean bars for a change! Where you can control each ingredient and ensure you are getting wholesome nutrition. I also recommend you google the ingredients in something to see what the heck it is for yourself. I do this a lot if I am unsure about an ingredient, and it’s how I’ve gained all the knowledge I have today.

References :

 

 

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.

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