By, Mallory Haldeman November and December tend to be the toughest part of the year for our bodies. There are too many delicious holidays and celebrations crammed into such a small period of time. The temperatures are cooler and the days are shorter which makes comfort food more appealing and gym trips seem much less appealing. This time of year I am usually moving from a building phase into my prep phase. Once I started competing, I found out pretty quickly that the holidays are no time to forget about healthy eating. Since its only the beginning of stricter eating for me, I have a few tips that always help me guide myself healthfully through the holidays while still being able to enjoy myself. I know many people that force themselves to tug along Tupperware to their family gatherings but there is nothing enjoyable in that. Clean eating and the fitness life should never be a drag. It should never keep you from spending time with your family and friends and it should definitely never make you feel like you have to "pass" on everything that you haven't prepped for yourself in your 6x6 inch gladware :) Nothing bothers me more this time of year than listening to people tell me how they "passed" on everything. I am a REAL person. I like chocolate and anything with cheese in it, and I have NEVER had stuffing that I did not LOVE! During December, I keep my meals fairly simple but never as strict. I focus on hitting 3 main meals a day and will have 2-3 snacks. I typically keep low carb year round but the biggest change is in my fat intake. Carbs only increase slightly. (usually based around training) Here is an example of what my day might look like: Breakfast : 3 whole eggs + 2-3oz of chicken prepped with a handful of green veggies Lunch: Bison patty with 1/2 avocado and a small salad Post training :2 scoops whey + 2 rice cakes with almond butter Dinner: 4-5 oz lean turkey + small yam Bedtime: egg white omelet made with 4-5 egg whites and spinach Keeping my meals clean and simple, and continuing to keep up with my 5-6 cardio sessions a week helps me stay lean while never really having to "pass" on anything that I really want to enjoy. If i have to go to my Grandmother's house on Christmas eve and not get to enjoy a serving of her famous stuffing and one of her lemon bars, I will be thoroughly upset. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. I don't over eat, and I don't opt for a cookie every time I am faced with one, but if you never give your body a rest and you can't relax enough to enjoy a nice meal with your family, then what is really that enjoyable about your "fitness" lifestyle? Don't pass on that delicious stuffing this holiday, and enjoy the gatherings with your friends and family.
By, Charlotte Snow As some of you already know, I spent last week in Coronado Bay, San Diego. Oh my, was it incredible!! I had a couple of truly, amazing days! Between the beautiful weather, amazing hotel and a fun day at the San Diego Zoo, I was in heaven! What made it even better, though, was I was able to travel, taking certain food items with me for emergencies, but not having to pack all of meals for the trip, and yet I was able to stick to my healthy lifestyle and eat my 6 meals throughout the day. While I am technically “off season” right now, as I’ve said before, I am never really “off season”. So, it is important for me to be able to maintain my diet wherever I may be. Now don’t get me wrong, it was vacation, so you can be sure I saved my cheat day for my trip! And if I wanted a little treat here or there, I certainly allowed myself. But I try to live by a 90/10 rule. 90% of the time I was there I stuck to my plan and 10% of the time I let myself relax a bit. I pre-made my protein pancakes and brought them along with dry oats for my breakfast each morning. I made sure to bring my whey protein and shaker cup with me. Always travel with your protein! When in doubt, you can always replace a meal with a shake, so it’s a smart, convenient thing to have with you. For lunch I would go order a nice piece of fish or chicken with my veggies, and if the portion was huge (which they always are), I split that into two meals. Also, I made my way over to Whole Foods and picked up food to make meals to take with me to the zoo, so I wouldn’t be stuck having to eat in a place where I could almost bet would not offer too many healthy choices. Whole Foods is great, even if you’re prepping for a show. If you go to the meat or seafood counter, you can ask them to weigh your food and they will actually cook it for you, any way you’d like it. These little tricks make traveling much less stressful for me! Cooking and packing tons of food can be a daunting task, especially for a relaxing vacation. It can also save you quite a bit of money as well!
By, Brett Bauer Have you ever hit a plateau with cardio and training? I would always stick to what I knew and do the stair mill, treadmill, or elliptical. A good way to switch up the cardio and to help increase fat loss is High Intensity Interval Training. (HIIT). By doing this type of cardio ( or weight training ) your heart rate gets spiked on each interval. Instead of keeping it a steady rate with traditional cardio, you can throw this into your workouts a few times a week. For example, doing a sprint, then jump rope, followed by jump squats and rotate every minute is a type of interval. There are so many variations you can do, just as long as the intervals are short and intense. Here are some of the scientific benefits from HIIT: Increased resting metabolic rate for upwards of 24 hours after exercise • Improved insulin sensitivity in the muscles Higher levels of fat oxidation in the muscles Significant spikes in growth hormone levels (which aid in fat loss) and catecholamine levels (chemicals your body produces to directly induce fat mobilization) Post-exercise appetite suppression If you feel nauseas at the end of the HIIT, you did a good job! It can make yo0u feel a little scattered since your body may not be used to do the same type of consistent exercise. It also will create muscle confusion to help get your body to use other body parts and form you may not be familiar with. Try out interval training and throw some weight training in the mix. No matter what variation, you will be surprised with what the intervals can do for your physique and endurance.