My Fight to be Fit

Anyone who has ever been overweight knows just how hard of a process it actually is. Every single day is a struggle. Like many others, those struggles began for me as a child. I played sports and was fairly active during the summer but not all year round. As a result, my weight reached 180lbs by the time I entered high school. High school can be rough on any kid…but when you struggle with weight it’s that much worse. By senior year, I developed significant problems with my eating. I didn’t know that I had a “real” problem because I was never underweight and I was never formally diagnosed with any type of eating disorder. I’d go from eating one meal a day to, at my worst, one piece of candy or cracker per day. I made myself sick, which ultimately got me to eat again but not nearly enough. As the years have gone on, I’ve come to realize I suffered from what is known as Atypical Anorexia. That disorder continued to plague throughout college and ultimately ended with my spending upwards of 2 hours a day in the gym, barely eating, and drinking (heavily) every weekend. I got down to 130lbs and while I looked great…I didn’t feel it. Looking back on it, I had worked really hard in the gym but done nothing about my diet…or my mental state.

What many people in the fitness industry don’t truly understand is how much of this process is actually mental. You could do all of the right exercises and have the best diet…but if your head isn’t in the game…you won’t be either and that will almost ALWAYS catch up with you. It did for me.

Over the course of my entire life, I probably did almost every fad diet there was. At the time where I was living at the gym, I was also on the South Beach Diet. Like most other fads, once I stopped living in the gym and doing that diet, I gained a lot of the weight back. Over the course of the next 5 years, between health issues, medication and a lack of exercise, my weight climbed to an all-time high of 210lbs. I was miserable and completely clueless as to how I could change it. I needed help but I didn’t know where to turn. Enter the Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels. The show has gotten a lot of criticism over the last few years for people gaining the weight back. Anyone who drops a crazy amount of weight without changing their mindset and, subsequently, their lifestyle, will fail. That’s just a given. Those who used the show as a method to change their life have stuck with it and their results have lasted. Those who used the show as a game and a chance to win money and fame…have not succeeded. It’s not easy. You have to work at this every single day. But that show, that woman…completely changed my life. If it wasn’t for the one night I turned on that show…I may not be where I am today. I began going to the gym the very next day and I never looked back. To date, I’ve lost and kept off about 80lbs & gone from squeezing into a size 14 to comfortably wearing a size 2/4.

It hasn’t all been roses & sunshine. I didn’t know much when I started. It took me a long time to lose weight and figure out what worked for my body. I began, like many others, by doing a ton of cardio. Slowly, with the help of online videos and Jillian DVDs, I began to incorporate weights into my routine. Without the proper guidance though, I ended up overtraining and doing many exercises incorrectly. This gave way to a serious shoulder injury, which landed me in surgery last October. I became a trainer and nutritionist so I could help others see that they weren’t alone in this fight and give them the guidance that I never had.

Since starting at The Arena, I’ve gone from a personal trainer to a professional. I will still argue that while you may lose some muscle, fasted cardio is the key to my fat loss. After all, every person’s body is different. However, I’m learning more and more everyday just how bad some of the most common exercises are and how they’ve created pain & made my pre-existing injuries that much worse.

Despite negative feedback and research, the Biggest Loser is the reason I got off the couch and did something about my weight. Was it the best, most credible source? Maybe not but it sure was the driving force behind my motivation and what kept me going every single day. I watched season 14 and I connected with the cast and trainers. I used Jillian’s voice as my motivation…and I made a change because of it. I may not have known the proper form or done the safest exercises but I got off my butt and got to the gym. I toned down the partying and eating out. I made small changes and learned how to implement a healthier lifestyle. I did the best that I could with the limited resources available to me. I also did it the smart way – making sure to not restrict myself or start some crazy exercise regimen. I made it work for ME…and it’s stuck 4 ½ years later. Along the way I’ve learned how to exercise safer and what proper form actually is. I’ve learned that I don’t need a TON of cardio to shed fat…but that for my terrible metabolism, I definitely need some. Most importantly, I found balance. Something I strived for my entire life. Now I want to help others do the same.

If you’re in the NYC or Westchester Area & are looking for personal training, nutrition coaching, or a kick-ass class, contact me! I hold weekly bootcamp classes every Tuesday & Thursday and am available for small group & individual training. Email me at gina@thearena.fit for more information.

See more of my videos and articles here: Fight to Be Fit

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

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Summer Shred – COMPLETE!

…and thus concludes my 6-week summer shred!

April 2017 >> Now

It wasn’t perfect by any means. Despite a serious lack of cardio along with Cinco de Mayo & birthday shenanigans, I managed to see really good results.

Summer Shred, Day 1 (April 2017)

Current look!

My plan is to continue this “shred” throughout the summer, while incorporating some treats along the way. I wanted to make this realistic this go-around. Last time, I was doing 2-a-day workouts and eating 1,200 calories a day…which consisted mostly of tilapia, egg whites, and a lot of boring foods. I was miserable by the end and the binge that followed reflected that. This time, I restricted my sweets and lessened my carbs…but that was it. No crazy strict diet was necessary. I lost the weight that I gained post-surgery and regained a lot of my muscle back. I also got much leaner, losing over 10% body fat in just 6 weeks time! Keeping my diet in check really helped make up for my inconsistent workouts. While the workouts weren’t what I initially planned, I did as much as life would allow. Life doesn’t always go the way that we plan so it’s important to always have a back-up plan in motion.

I say it all the time but the key to losing weight…and keeping it off…is making it work for YOU. You can follow a strict diet & do crazy workouts but at the end of the day if it doesn’t work for your lifestyle or body, it will not stick! Trust me. I’ve done it all. I went from an overweight adolescent, to disordered eating in high school and college, to very heavy throughout most of my 20s…and now here we are. It’s still a struggle every single day. This never gets easier – and anyone who says it does is lying. However, your will power becomes stronger. The food noise – that guilt you feel after having a drink or fattening food/sweet – gets quieter. You start seeing results. You do what it takes to never get back to that unhappy place. You eventually decide you never want to look or feel like that again. No slip-ups, injuries, health issues, or life mishaps interfere. One day it all clicks and you gain freedom (&a confidence) in your own skin.

Before my Shred (2/2017) >>Now 

I will continue to post about my modified shred diet & workout regimen in the coming weeks. I’m also currently working together with my gym to create beginner workout videos that anyone can do anywhere! Look out for those gems coming to YouTube soon! Stick with me and I will help get you on the path to being confident in your own skin. It won’t be easy…but I promise it WILL be worth it.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

Summer Shred – Homestretch!

Hard to believe but week 5 is in the books! For those following along, I apologize for my crazy delay on updating you all. If you follow along on Instagram , you will see that I’ve been eating pretty much the same stuff and working out as much as possible. Life got pretty hectic over the last few weeks but I’ve managed to work in cardio wherever I can as well as my weight lifting days. While my diet has been mostly the same, I have stepped it up this week and gotten a little more strict. I cut WAY back on my carbs. Surprisingly, I haven’t been overly hungry or having weird sugar cravings. This has been my best “cut” yet. My workouts may not have been perfect and my schedule may have been chaotic…but I have seen some amazing results! I also had quite the non-scale victory…in Charlotte Russe of all places…while searching for a birthday outfit:

I didn’t buy that dress…but I did buy one even sexier and tighter.


I got to wear that dress confidently for my birthday celebration with friends last night. We had a very late dinner followed by drinks and dancing the night away. I decided that I’d keep it fairly healthy and safe for my stomach 


I didn’t eat the lettuce, as it had some sort of weird dressing on it. However I ate the rest, along with a taste of the table appetizer and was more than satisfied. For drinks, I stuck to one liquor (tequila) all night. I didn’t mix it with more than a splash of club soda and a few limes. 


I didn’t eat the dessert or bread that the restaurant provided either. I had a great time, didn’t get bloated or sick, and felt content. You don’t have to restrict your whole life to keep your diet in check. Allow yourself to enjoy the special moments in life and all of the food that comes with it. I may have had a pretty healthy night…but that’s what I wanted to have. I know ice cream cake along with Mexican and ballpark food await me this week…so for me it wasn’t worth it to pig out last night. Besides…there wasn’t room for much food in that dress 😉

As I enter the final week of this shred (and my birthday week), I have to say this really has been the most successful “cut” that I’ve ever done. I don’t feel like binging…and I got the results that I wanted. Could my abs show more? Yes. Could I weigh less? Probably. However, this was the healthiest, most realistic way to lean out that worked for ME. I will likely keep going beyond this week, so as to keep myself in check throughout the summer. I may not be AS strict but I will keep my diet as clean as possible and workout as hard as my body allows. 

If you’ve been following this shred along with me…stay strong! We are in the homestretch! Keep up with my workouts & meals on Instagram and MyFitnessPal. We got this!

-Gina

Living with IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is one of the most common health concerns facing Americans today yet it’s one of the least discussed. Many people who have this condition suffer in silence due to it being somewhat of a “taboo” subject or just for not knowing that there is an actual problem.

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The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal which will cause gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea. The opposite can also occur with weak intestinal contractions, slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools. Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system also may play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.

As many as 1 in 5 American adults experience signs and/or symptoms of IBS. There are two common forms of IBS – IBS-C, with constipation, and IBS-D, with diarrhea. It is unknown what causes IBS but there are many factors, including family history, which are considered to be a trigger for those suffering with this illness.

One of the biggest triggers for IBS is a person’s diet. Many people have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. Some doctors will recommend doing an elimination diet to pinpoint what the exact trigger food(s) could be. Some other recommendations include: eliminating high-gas foods such as carbonated beverages, vegetables (especially cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower) and raw fruits, eliminating gluten (wheat, barley, and rye) or avoiding refined (not whole) grains, eliminating FODMAPs, avoiding high protein diets, limiting or eliminating caffeine (such as coffee), and experimenting with fiber intake. A person suffering with IBS should eat smaller meals and drink plenty of liquids, especially water! It’s also important to note that a person with this illness should be careful with their dairy intake, regardless if they are lactose intolerant or not.

Another common trigger for IBS sufferers is stress. Many people find that their symptoms are worsened or brought on during periods of increased stress. While stress certainly will aggravate your symptoms, there has not been any research found to cause them.

Women, especially under the age of 45, are twice as likely to develop IBS. Researchers believe that this is due to hormonal changes. Many women find that their symptoms are more prevalent during or around their menstrual cycle. IBS worsens as hormone levels fall. As hormone levels fall to the lowest point during menstruation, symptoms such as stomach pain, discomfort, and constipation or diarrhea become more common and intense. What’s worse, those who suffer from painful periods, are twice as likely to have an increase in symptoms.

Even though the signs and symptoms are uncomfortable IBS, unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease), doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk for colorectal cancer. Some symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night, and/or weight loss.

While there is no cure for IBS, there are certain things that have been proven to alleviate some of the symptoms. One easy remedy is to exercise regularly. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine will not only help you to look & feel better about yourself, it will also help to stimulate normal contractions in your intestines. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. If you have other medical problems, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Another form of therapy, while non-traditional, is the use of herbs such as peppermint. Peppermint is a natural antispasmodic that relaxes smooth muscles in the intestines. It’s important to note that while it may ease your IBS symptoms, peppermint may increase heartburn. Before taking any herbs, check with your doctor to be sure they won’t interact or interfere with other medications. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that normally live in your intestines and are found in certain foods, such as yogurt and in dietary supplements. It’s been suggested that if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you may not have enough good bacteria so by adding probiotics to your diet, you may ease your symptoms.

IBS can be a long-lasting problem that can impact how you live your life. Many people with IBS miss work or school more often and they may feel less comfortable taking part in daily activities. If you feel that you may have IBS, contact your doctor for further testing.

**This article was originally published with The Arena – all references for the information given above can be found on that site.

 

2017 Fitness Expo & Summer Shred Week 3 Recap


Another year and another fun fitness expo at Giants Stadium! It wasn’t as successful as years past – Apparently they stacked all of the good stuff on Saturday this year…and since I went only on Sunday this year I missed out. It was still a good time and I made the most out of it. I got some clutch samples and did some TRX exercises on the field!


I also did my annual tour of the locker room




All in all, it was a very fun day…and I can’t wait until next year! 

Now for my Summer Shred update. Once again my workouts last week were not the best but I did what I could. I kept my diet mostly in check. Friday was Cinco de Mayo and while I did have two drinks (Don Julio on the rocks with a splash of club soda and a few limes), I kept my diet under control. I did have the chips and guacamole…but I followed that with salad. 


Since I had chips, I didn’t eat most of that shell. It was very filling and delicious. Last time I did this shred, I deprived myself a lot. I could do that again and be just as cut…but deprivation has always been and will always be the root of all evil in me. I binge so hard after…it’s not worth it. I’ve finally found peace and balance with food…and it’s the most amazing thing. After the expo on Sunday, my friends and I went to Houlihan’s. I punched in several menu options into my handy app…and found something that would be delicious and somewhat macro friendly. 


I decided that I would really be strict until my birthday. I have no reason not to be. I planned on doing cardio this morning…but lack of sleep and stress shot me down. I attempted to hit the gym near my house after work and realized quickly I should’ve done by cardio before I left instead. No treadmills were free. I’ll make up for it tomorrow instead. No excuses. No bullshit. My stomach may be flat and I may be seeing results…but I’m not as cut as I would like to be as I begin week 4. Despite my lack of workouts, I am losing weight and inches…so I just need to kick it all up a notch. Higher protein…Lower carbs…Intensified workouts. I’ll post a weekly recap this weekend so you all can see what I ate and how I did. If you need the daily meals/macros, follow along on MyFitnessPal (username – TheFightToBeFit) or on Instagram (@thefight2befit)

2 more weeks….we got this! 
Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

Summer Shred – Push Yourself!

Tuesday. Despite it being my hell day…I kicked some serious ass on this second day of week 3!

It’s been a solid 3 weeks and while it hasn’t been perfect…I’m already seeing crazy results! This is my transformation from this past fall…a month or so after my surgery…versus yesterday morning:


Truly amazing how much my body has changed in such a short time! It’s definitely given me more motivation for the second leg of this shred.

My workout today was a short but intense leg day. The numbers next to the exercise indicate the weight I used. I didn’t have time for a long cardio session but I made sure to at least do a cool down.


Despite being so busy that I forgot to eat a normal breakfast (who does that?!), I managed to hit my macros & calories spot on! Here’s how the day looked:

Breakfast:

  • Caramel latte protein coffee
  • Rice cake, plain
  • Iced quad with 2 pumps SF cinnamon dolce and splash of almond milk (starbucks)

Post-workout– Phormula1 chocolate shake

Lunch:

  • 4 oz ground turkey
  • 2 oz butternut squash
  • 2 oz string beans

Snacks:

  • Oh yeah! Chocolate chip cookie dough bar
  • Chocolate RX bar
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries with crystal light

Dinner:

  • Turkey burger with a sprinkle of cheese
  • 2 tsp chopped mushrooms
  • 2 oz string beans
  • 5 brussel sprouts


Looking forward to a bad ass PT session tomorrow 😎 Have a good night everyone!

-Gina

Summer Shred – Week 3!

Today was definitely a Monday 🙄 Despite getting off to a very rocky start and being super swamped all day, I managed to kick some serious ass today!

Thanks to insane traffic, I missed out on my morning workout BUT I made sure to go after work. I wasn’t letting another week slip me by. I got in a decent upper body workout…which was my first on my own post-op! Felt good to lift again and not feel crazy pain 🙂


All of the exercises were done in 3 sets of 10 with varying weights. I finished with 20 minutes of sweaty cardio as I watched Monday Night Raw 🤘🏻

My diet and macros were spot on! Here’s how the day shaped up:

Breakfast: my stomach was still iffy when I woke up so I didn’t push it.

  • 1 rice cake with a tsp of pb
  • Caramel latte protein coffee (with almond milk)

Lunch:

  • 4 oz ground turkey
  • 1 oz quinoa
  • 2 oz string beans
  • 1 mushroom, cut

Snacks:

  • Oh yeah! Chocolate chip cookie dough bar
  • Dark roast iced coffee with almond milk (Dunkin’)
  • RX chocolate bar (pre-workout)
  • Phormula1 chocolate shake (post-workout)

Dinner: it got super late so I made it as light…and delicious…as possible

  • Salad made with chopped romaine lettuce, tbsp of toasted chick peas, 1/4 small avocado, 1 chopped turkey burger, and a sprinkle of cheese. No dressing 🙂


Tomorrow is my hell day but I have plans for a solid (& heavy) leg day nonetheless. Not letting stress or long workdays get the best of me this week!

Have a good night everyone!

-Gina