2019 Summer Shred

And just like that…it’s that time of year again! Summer Shred 2019 officially kicked off today and will run until May 22, which is right before my birthday…and Memorial Day weekend! This is my 5th year in a row doing this and I swear every year the diet gets easier to follow. Last year my whole world was upside down and, as a result, the shred didn’t pan out. My head wasn’t in the game…at all. I followed the diet but I didn’t workout, and without both the results just won’t happen. I ultimately ended the shred before the 30 days were up and I wasn’t even phased – I even went as far as to purchase a one-piece bathing suit. This year, I’m going to try my damndest to fight through every mental obstacle I have and get it done. I want to be healthier and I want to feel more confident on the beach…and in life. It’s going to be an uphill battle – but I need to do this. My stomach is still relatively flat and my weight has stayed pretty much the same so the physical goals for this shred are simple: to gain back some of the muscle that I lost & lose body fat. But really, this is so much bigger than a beach-body challenge for me this year. After being through hell & back, all I can hope for with this challenge is to not just get my body back…but to get my mind right again once & for all.

L – 2017, my “best” body / R – now

If you’d like to follow along on this 30-day summer shred, I’ve listed a shopping list below of the foods that I will be eating. Keep in mind, this is what works for ME. I will try to post here and on my Instagram so as to provide more guidance if you’re following. However, if you’d like a more customized plan or have any questions as to what foods will work in addition to what I’ve listed, feel free to email me at thefight2befit@gmail.com and I will be more than happy to help!

  • Oats
  • Egg muffins
  • Brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potato
  • Avocado
  • Lettuce
  • Banza (chickpea pasta)
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Chicken, ground turkey, lean pork, tuna
  • Turkey jerky
  • Veggies (kale, asparagus, mushrooms, string beans, zucchini, brussels, eggplant, peppers, etc)
  • Almonds, cashews
  • Cottage cheese
  • PB
  • Quest Bars
  • GoMacro Bar
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk

**Not listed here are my kitchen staples (balsamic vinegar, spray/oil, hot sauce, mustard, spices, etc.) as well as my protein powder /BCAAs. Also not listed, Apple Cider Vinegar. My day will always begin with an ACV cocktail – 1 tbsp of ACV mixed with 12oz of cold water.*

Time to be better than what I thought was my best!

xo

Gina

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I am 1 in 10

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. 1 in 10 women suffer from this debilitating condition. I am one and this is my story.

My symptoms started very early, probably around 15 years old. I was told it was normal cramps and that it was part of being a woman. However, the pain was so bad I would often be doubled over and end up visiting the school nurse’s office. Soon after high school, I found myself very sick. It was my freshman year at SUNY New Paltz and I vividly remember being in so much pain I couldn’t leave my bed. The pain was centralized near my appendix, so when I finally gathered the strength to get to the infirmary on campus, they sent me to the nearest hospital for what they believed was appendicitis. After 6 hours and several tests, I was told that was not the cause of my pain. Upon my refusal to have further invasive testing done there, I was told to go to a gynecologist. The doctor believed that my problems likely stemmed from that as opposed to anything else. It would take years but that doctor turned out to be spot on.

I visited a gynecologist, as instructed, and after more testing I was diagnosed soon after with PCOS and immediately put on birth control to try to alleviate some of my symptoms. The doctor told me that my pain was derived from cysts that were building up & bursting. The pill only masked my issues. While the period pain greatly diminished, I began years worth of suffering from undetectable stomach issues. My stomach would often blow up to the size of a woman about to give birth…for reasons I still don’t know. I also continued to get random pains near my appendix. I visited 5 different stomach doctors and had every test except a colonoscopy done – only to be told nothing was wrong with me & that I was suffering from IBS. Having been told by the gynecologist that my right ovary that was polycystic, I tried (and failed) for years to link my hormonal condition & stomach issues together. Every doctor refused to support my theory and no one would help me. This went on for YEARS.

Fast forward to the fall of 2017, roughly 16 years after my first severe pain attack & diagnosis of PCOS. I had just lost my baby and was no longer on birth control. I began to get very sick.  I started noticing that slowly all of the issues that I had in high school were coming back…but this time twice as bad. I went to two different doctors about my pain. After a couple of months & several tests, the second doctor ultimately found a small polyp in my uterus, which they removed and biopsied for cancer. The biopsy turned out to be negative but I was still very sick. The pain was unbearable & I didn’t know what to do anymore. The doctor also couldn’t help me – but he did send me to someone who would. She was a specialist for pelvic pain & endometriosis. I started to research this condition and finally it all made sense.

As I did the research, I noticed that everything I had been suffering with and seeking help for, was classic to endometriosis. For years, I had been convinced my stomach issues were related to my hormonal problems. Now I had the science to back me up. One of the most classic symptoms of endo is appendix pain…and IBS. Two things I had been suffering with for over 15 years! When I explained everything to this new specialist, she nodded her head and told me that I presented classic endo symptoms & she could help me. I started to cry.  For years, it felt like no doctors believed me – finally I found someone who not only believed me but knew how to treat me! She had me begin a new pill, which mimicked birth control but contained different hormones. After two months, I didn’t feel better so she presented other options, one of which was another drug called Lupron…which puts your body into menopause. I lost it when she even suggested such a thing so I opted for the other option, which was to have a laproscopic endometrial excision & appendectomy instead. My appendix wasn’t appearing to be sick, but since that was where all of pain was located (and since you don’t need an appendix anyway) out it came. The recovery was miserable but as time went on, I got increasingly better. For the first time in my whole life, I had regular periods with minimal pain and almost non-existent stomach issues! I made the decision to not go back on birth control. With my age and history – I don’t need anything else standing in my way when (and if) the opportunity to have a baby presents itself. I went to my regular gynecologist a few months later to check on everything and upon doing a sonogram and blood work. It came back great! I was told my body was in the best condition it had been in years…and was given the green light to try for a baby!

Everything really has been great, up until two weeks ago. For the first time since my surgery, my period was late….and all out of whack. I started getting that appendix pain really bad again – which is very strange because I don’t have one anymore. My stomach has been acting up, to the point where even water is bothering me, & I’ve had the most miserable fatigue. I’m hoping this is just a temporary, fluke situation and not the start of really bad flare-ups. I’m in the process of undergoing several stomach tests as well as another sonogram to determine the cause of this stomach issue. I know endo can come back, but I’m hoping this is something else – something I won’t need another surgery for.

If you or someone you know is suffering, don’t give up! We know our bodies best – and we know when something isn’t right. It took me MANY years to finally get answers…but I have them now and I couldn’t be more grateful! Be honest with your doctor about your symptoms and don’t settle for answers you aren’t comfortable with. Seek out second opinions, if necessary. Do your homework and really pay attention to your body. It may take some time but I promise, it will be worth it in the end.

xo

Gina

Breakfast of Champions

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe on here. One of the most common things I hear from clients & friends is that they have no time to make breakfast. This right here will solve all of your problems! I was never a breakfast person. Growing up, I hated it and as I got older I either didn’t have the time or I just wasn’t hungry. However, as I educated myself on nutrition and started to fix my metabolism, I realized just how important it is. Now…I can’t go without it! If any of that sounds like you, give this a shot. I promise you won’t regret it. Quick, easy, and delicious – you can thank me later 🙂

Egg Muffins

Makes 6 muffins (2 per serving)

Ingredients:

  • 5 egg whites + 1 whole egg
  • Shredded cheese (I use cheddar)
  • *Optional – spinach, mushrooms, kale, peppers, or any veggie you like*
  • Chili Lime Seasoning (Trader Joe’s)
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Butter spray

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Spray your muffin cups with butter spray – make sure to use enough to coat each.
  • Whisk together the egg & egg whites with seasoning & a splash of cold water.
  • Add veggies, if desired, to each muffin cup.
  • Pour egg mixture evenly into each muffin cup.
  • Add a sprinkle of cheese to each.
  • Place in the oven & bake for approx. 15 min, or until mostly settled. The eggs should be cooked but not firm.
  • Take out of the oven and add a little more cheese, if desired. Let cool and refrigerate.
  • When reheating, place in microwave for 15 seconds. Your eggs will be fluffy every time!

New Year, Fresh Start

Happy New Year & Happy Blogiversary to us! I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I began this blog. SO much has changed but I thank you all for sticking with me through every step of this journey we call life. I promise you…and myself…a more positive & productive year ahead.

New Years has always represented a chance at a fresh start. I gave up on resolutions long ago, as they never stick. This year I have one primary goal – and that is to put my life back together, one jagged broken piece at a time. As you know, I relaunched my blog a couple of months ago to reflect my current life. Everything has changed so drastically in my life, it just didn’t seem right to continue blogging as if it were the same. Writing has been a good form of therapy for me and I know it has helped others who have had similar experiences. I’m still a personal trainer/nutritionist but everything has been very different since losing my baby – and my business reflected that. My focus is to stop being so stuck in sadness and use all of the bad as a way to rebuild my life. For every negative, I’m going to try my damndest to spin it in a positive way.

I spent 2018 reeling from losing a baby, getting my heart completely broken, & suffering from health issues which required countless tests and two surgeries. My mental health also took a serious downward spiral. I had more bad days than good, in which I didn’t want to even get out of bed. I spent a lot of time crying in my car and in the shower. Even when good things happened, I couldn’t enjoy them. This year, I am vowing to take control back of my life and of my happiness. I may not have the life that I want or the life that I would’ve had if my baby were in my arms, but I can try to make the most of the life I do have. I can’t spend every day miserable and expect things to get better. So that’s my goal. I know it’s not going to magically get better over night. There will likely still be bad days, and more crying episodes, but over time I’m hopeful it will get better. Before all of this happened, I was in the best shape of my life…physically AND mentally. That led to a happiness I had never felt and can’t begin to even describe. While I may not have that same happiness, who’s to say I can’t find a different happy?

I’ve already begun taking steps to improve life a little. After months of debating, I’ve made the very difficult decision to leave what’s become a toxic environment. I’m also trying to focus more on taking care of myself, which includes a commitment to exercise for 30 minutes per day, everyday. Coincidentally, my old workout gurus of Tone It Up are running their Love Your Body challenge, beginning January 14. It’s quite literally the most perfect timing, as I want to get back on track AND love my body once again.

My body (and mind) has really taken a beating. After I lost the baby, I just lost all motivation – like if my body was in such good shape and that happened…what was the point? It’s taken me a long time but I’m finally ready to get back on track. I just want to get healthy again. As I’ve said in other blogs, I don’t care about how shredded I am anymore but I do want to fit better in my clothes and be healthy, for when (and if) an opportunity to try for another baby presents itself. I have no idea what I weigh – and I don’t really care. I want to build my core strength & shoulder strength back up, so I can stop feeling so much pain, as well as work on my endurance. I’m not trying to run any races but I’d like to be in better shape. I’d also like to do yoga every night, as a way to not only stretch & strengthen muscles but to relax. Those are my small goals for now. I think with the help of my Tone It Up girls for extra motivation, it will go well. At least….that’s my hope! I intend on building on the workouts more once I can overcome my consistency issues. So far, so good – I’ve done some form of exercise (at-home workouts, core rehab, outdoor walk, and yoga) every night this week!

I know this is going to be an uphill battle but it’s time to start climbing instead of staring at the mountain in front of me. I’ve struggled with things before but this has been by far the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through. I’ve said many times over the years that the key is to get your mind right & everything else will follow. When your mind isn’t right, you won’t be consistent and everything sort of falls apart. This year has been proof of just that – and it’s time to start taking my own advice. I’m just going to do my best & take it one day at a time – and hopefully, over time, things will fall into place again.

Thanks again for sticking with me – here’s to another year of staying strong & staying in the fight!

xox

Gina

Still in the Fight

Losing a baby & getting your heart broken will cripple you in unimaginable ways. I consider myself a pretty strong person but this past year broke me. Every day since has been a struggle. I wake up in tears more often than I’d like to admit. I look back at pictures of the girl I was before I got pregnant – hot body, healthy, and happy. I was so damn happy – it’s like you can feel it through the pictures. I had everything I always dreamed of – then it was all gone in the blink of an eye. Since then, I’ve become a shadow of that blissfully happy, carefree girl.

A few weeks ago I was inspired by some female wrestlers, specifically the two who recently had babies. That inspiration hasn’t really led to much of a consistent routine though. I’ve done several at-home workouts, a few outdoor walks, and a gym workout. I keep telling myself to get my shit together. I keep trying to force myself to workout, to not just become healthier but to provide myself with a much-needed distraction and stress-release. Except sometimes that stresses me out even more. I just don’t have the motivation anymore. That hot body I once worked so hard for…it failed me. As a result, I lost everything that I cared about. I’ve been trying to just go through the motions, piece together my broken heart one jagged edge at a time – but it’s almost like I’m stabbing myself more every step of the way. That sounds super dramatic but that’s how it feels. I feel stuck. I want to get my life back…but sometimes I don’t even know what that means anymore. My priorities have completely shifted & so have my interests…and my life.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from my gyno with the results of my hormonal blood panel. It seems that my weight loss put my PCOS at-bay. My other hormones all seem to be in check and I was told that by the look of both my sonogram and blood work, my egg count was still relatively high. I’ve had three doctors (this one included) all tell me that based on how I conceived a baby on birth control, with two conditions that cause infertility, I should have no trouble once I actually do try. There is (unfortunately) no way to determine if I will be able to hold the baby or not – as I do not have anything currently indicating otherwise. However, this is all bittersweet. That blood work is a snapshot in time…right now. So right now – my periods are regular, body is in check, PCOS seems to have disappeared…if I were able to try, I’d probably get pregnant. No guarantees, of course, but it seems more likely now than ever before. Except I’m not with the baby’s father anymore…nor am I with anyone else. There is no way to “try” for a baby right now and it concerns me that when the time does come…however long that may take…maybe I won’t be able to anymore.

The doctor asked if I was still exercising as much and I said no – not since I got pregnant. She told me to begin that again and do what I was doing before…if it happened once, it could happen again. She also suggested starting either a multi-vitamin or prenatal along with vitamin d. It was a conversation with a shred of hope (and some defeat) that’s put things into perspective.

Last summer >> Now

I don’t have the same motivation or goals that I used to…and that will likely not change. I don’t really give a damn about having some shredded, hot body. That hot body from last summer was working out and eating healthy almost everyday.  That hot body may have failed me when I lost the baby…but that hot body also got pregnant, which is something I always thought would be impossible for me. While I may not give a shit about having that hot body anymore…I can spin the negative and turn it into something productive. Maybe if I can get my shit together and consistently workout again…when the time comes, it can happen again – and maybe now, with the doctor’s help, it will stay put. My current at-home workouts could be much better than they are…but I’m trying. Sometimes it’s just 10 or 15 minutes, and I can barely hold a 20 second plank anymore (hell, my core is total shit since that surgery) – but it’s much better than doing nothing at all. It’s been an uphill battle – I workout for 2-3 days and usually that’s that…but I’m using every last ounce of fight left in me to push forward.

My goals right now are pretty simple. I just want to be able to fit comfortably in my clothes again. I’d like to build my core strength back up. That’s important for everyday living but it will be especially beneficial when (and if) I get pregnant/have a baby. Ultimately though, I just want to be healthy. My body has enough obstacles – it doesn’t need my being overweight and/or unhealthy as another. It’s been 2 days – and so far so good. I plan on continuing with early morning workouts, so as to give myself no extra excuses (IE: being exhausted after a long day of working two jobs). Here’s hoping it sticks this time.

xo

Gina

My Own Evolution

For as long as I can remember, celebrities have always served as some sort of “fitspiration” in my life. Having struggled with weight my entire life, I looked at certain celebrities as who/what I wanted to look/be like. As I grew in my fitness journey, I realized it was more unhealthy to have this than it was motivation. At the time, my confidence wasn’t great so when I would see these celebrities (ie: Jessica Simpson) I would think I needed to look like them to be considered pretty or hot. I got over that with time and when I lost all of my weight, I also gained confidence that I never really had…in looks & in myself. That’s faded over the last year.

Last year, when I lost my baby, I lost all motivation to workout. I’ve touched on this in a few posts but I’ll sum it up here too. I was in the best shape of my entire life yet my body failed me anyway. I haven’t worked out much at all since and my diet is hit or miss. Yesterday, I woke up feeling different.

On Sunday night, WWE Evolution took place. It was the first ever all-women’s PPV, which was a monumental moment. The show featured women from both the past & present. Opening the show was my idol in high school, Lita. I wanted to be like her so bad. She was gorgeous but not in a typical girl way – she was also this tough, bad ass chick that didn’t take anyone’s shit. I dyed my hair blood red like her, wore chokers & UFO pants like her, I even learned to moonsault (her signature move…which I would never attempt now) to be like her. She was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite wrestlers. I watched her come out and just stared in awe. She is 43 and looks amazing. She still has this no-bullshit attitude about her too.

Lita, then & now

I kept watching the show and saw two women, named Maryse & Maria, who both had babies around the time that I would have had mine earlier this year. Both women look amazing and got themselves back into shape to be in the ring so quickly. Maria was very open in documenting her struggle with postpartum depression and her loss of motivation on her social media. I instantly connected with that and as I saw her get in the ring, it really hit me. As I watched these women and all of the others, I realized how they all have overcome many things and still managed to keep themselves motivated enough to be on that big of a stage. So what’s my problem?

Not all heroes wear capes.

My priorities are much different since getting pregnant and losing my baby. I don’t really care how “shredded” I look. I don’t know that I ever will again, to be honest. But watching that show, I got to thinking – if I continue down this path of not working out or only eating well sporadically, I won’t be healthy. If I’m ever given the chance to try for a baby, I need to be healthy for that. I shouldn’t give my body any other obstacles – there’s enough as it is. Another point in my head – I worked really hard to lose weight and I don’t want to throw it all away or go back to the weight I used to be. When I first started, it was about being happy in my own skin…and being healthy. I think I’m going back to day one with that mindset. No pressure to lift super heavy. No pressure on working out EVERY day. Just doing what I can, when I can…and being consistent.

I work better with some sort of a plan so this is the loose plan that I’ve come up with: some sort of cardio 3-4x per week, banded & bodyweight exercises at-home 2-3x per week, weights 1-2x per week. The idea is to get myself moving at least 4-5 days. Obviously the days may vary and with my hectic work schedule, I may have to make exceptions. However, I will be happy if I can do some sort of workout 4x per week – whether that’s bands/body weight exercises at-home, cardio in or out of the gym, or actual weights. Just as long as I’m consistent, which has been my biggest issue since losing the baby. I think I’m going to use that as motivation, instead of letting it bring me down. If my baby was here, I’d teach her how to be strong – so there’s no reason she can’t look down on me and learn that same lesson. I want to her to see a strong mommy – not the person that I’ve been. Seeing these women in the ring made me realize that. It was called Evolution, as it was just that for women in wrestling, but I’m using that as my own evolution. That is, my evolution back to being healthy…and back to being me.

xo,

Gina

Keep the Faith

Image result for st catherine of sweden
I will start by saying – I don’t consider myself a religious person. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school from pre-k through college…but that’s about it. I haven’t been to church much as an adult – don’t feel that I need to be in a specific place if I want to pray. However, after losing my baby last October…let’s just say God hasn’t been on my good side.  That seems to be normal and a theme amongst other angel moms. Well one day, upon scouring Pinterest, I came across a prayer card for Saint Catherine of Sweden. She is the patron saint of those who have suffered a miscarriage. I know of many saints but I never knew of this one. Seemed rather fitting that as I question my own faith, this would appear – almost like a sign. I’ve decided to share this because regardless of which God you pray to or what your convictions & faith may be, this is a beautiful prayer to hold close:

Dear Saint Catherine, patron of those who have suffered a miscarriage, you know the dangers that await unborn infants. Please intercede for me that I may receive healing from the loss I have suffered. My soul has been deprived of peace and I have forgotten what true happiness is. As I mourn the loss of my child, I place myself in the hands of God and ask for strength to accept His will in all things, for consolation in my grief, and for peace in my sorrow. Glorious Saint Catherine, hear my prayers and ask that God, in good time, grant me a healthy baby who will become a true child of God. Amen.

Despite my waning faith, I pray for my little angel & all of the other angel babies in the clouds. I pray that they are all safe, perhaps in the arms of other loved ones who have passed on, as they wait to be reunited with us again one day.  Most of all, I pray for me…and I pray for you. I pray that we all find the peace & happiness we so desperately need one day soon.

xo

Gina