2018 Summer Shred!

It’s finally spring weather!! That means one thing – it’s Summer Shred time! I’ve done this shred for the past 4 years and every year I learn and improve for the next. Last year, I really got it right so I’m going to mimic what I did and tweak the workouts to be more functional, in accordance to what my body can actually do.

In 2014, I embarked on a 4-week shred and Mission: Hot Body challenge. I mimicked the very strict & regimented diet and workouts of bikini competitors. Super clean eating , 2-a-day workouts…you name it, I did it. It was crazy hard…but I got it done. After 4 weeks of extremely hard work, I had abs and was the leanest & most cut I’ve ever been. The problem was that as soon as the challenge ended, it was my birthday and with it came ice cream cake & plenty of drinks throughout the weekend. To top that off, just one month later I ended up seriously injuring my shoulder…which I have since had surgery to correct. Within two months, all of that hard work seemed to be for nothing. The next two years, I did slimdowns but couldn’t get it quite right. I still worked out and I continued to eat fairly well, but my body would only look how I wanted it to for a short time. Last year, that changed. Now, a certified nutritionist, I have combined my life experience and added a lot more knowledge to the bank. Last year, I did a 6-week shred that was strict…but didn’t totally eliminate things. I limited dairy and sugar. I upped my protein and kept my carbs early in the day. I lost about 10% body fat and about 10-15 lbs in that time span. My workouts were done with a fellow trainer (who is my magical ART guy as well), so while they were intense they were monitored. I killed it and looked great for my birthday…and throughout the summer.

However, the end of summer & end of year didn’t go well for me. Life events and health issues transpired causing a lot less workouts and a lot less motivation.

So here we go again. 4 weeks until my birthday…so a 4-week shred shall begin. I’m going to follow the same plan as last year for my diet (shopping list is below). My workouts will vary based on how I feel health-wise and injury-wise. There will likely be a lot more cardio along with some lower impact resistance training worked into the mix. I’ll post everyday for the first week, as I did last year, to give anyone following along a good gauge on what I’m doing.

In general, I eat pretty well…I’m just not super strict. For the next 4 weeks, I will be cutting out most sugar, alcohol, and limiting my caffeine & dairy intake. The food scale will also come back. Along with MFP, I found the food scale to be extremely helpful in keeping myself on track and accountable.

My ultimate goal with this shred, like every other, is to lose fat while gaining my lean muscle…and motivation…back. I’ve been pretty sick so I’m starting a little later than I planned but we begin TODAY (April 24) and go until May 23 (my birthday). You can continue the rest of that week if you choose, but since that’s my birthday…that’s when mine will end.

This is a list of the foods that I will be sticking to throughout the next 4 weeks, in case you want to reference it for food shopping:

  • Oats
  • Egg whites
  • Tuna
  • Brown Rice
  • Avocado
  • Lettuce
  • Chickpeas
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Chicken
  • Ground Turkey
  • Veggies (kale, asparagus, string beans, zucchini, brussels, cauliflower, peppers, butternut squash)
  • Shrimp
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Cottage cheese
  • PB
  • Rice cakes
  • Frozen blueberries
  • RX Bars/Quest Bars
  • Unsweetened cashew milk/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.**

I’m happy to help you with your own customized macros, meal plan & workout guide! Email me at TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com for more information. If you just want to follow along with me & be accountability buddies, that’s cool too! Shoot me a message so we can help each other out! Let’s get beach body ready & Fight to be Fit together!

-Gina

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END the Silence

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March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. It is during this month where we raise awareness to an illness which affects millions of women worldwide.

1 in 10 women in the US are living with endometriosis and sadly, they are often suffering in silence. It is a disorder that is commonly misdiagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or simply ‘period pains.’ It can take an average of 10 years between symptom onset & proper diagnosis.

Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside instead. Endometriosis growths bleed in the same way the lining inside of your uterus does every month. This can cause swelling and pain because the tissue grows and bleeds in an area where it cannot easily get out of your body. The growths may also continue to expand and cause problems, such as: cysts, inflammation, problems in the intestines and bladder, or formation of scar tissue & adhesions which may not only cause pain, it may also make it difficult to become pregnant.

The pain that women with endometriosis suffer, which can often be severe and feel sharp or stabbing, occurs in the pelvis or belly and usually won’t go away with medication. Some women with mild cases have intense pain, while others with advanced cases may have little pain or even no pain at all. Other symptoms include excessive bleeding during and/or between periods, backache, leg pain, painful sex, painful bowel movements, and infertility.

While there is no known cause, there are several factors which place you at greater risk for developing this illness. These include:

  • Never giving birth
  • Starting your period at an early age or beginning menopause early
  • Short menstrual cycles
  • Having high levels of estrogen
  • Family history of endometriosis
  • Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body
  • Uterine abnormalities

Unfortunately, there is no cure but there are several treatment options. The doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and take the one of the following steps to determine if, in fact, you do have endometriosis:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Imaging test, such as ultrasound or MRI
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbs like cinnamon twig or licorice root, or supplements, including thiamine (vitamin B1), magnesium, or omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Lowering your estrogen level by exercising regularly, taking birth control, or avoiding large amounts of alcohol and caffeine
  • Laparoscopy

If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of endometriosis, contact your doctor immediately. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can be on the path to feeling better.

References:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656
https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis
https://www.endostrong.com/#end

Wrapping Up

As week 3 comes to a close in my winter detox, I’ve decided to stop. The purpose of this for me was to get back on track and I have. I reset my diet…and my mindset.

I knew this wasn’t going to be like most of my shreds, mostly because I couldn’t workout. I’ve gotten my diet back where I wanted it and in the process, I’ve also gotten my mind right once again.

This journey is full of ups and downs. Lately I’ve had a setback with my health, which has thrown my eating time table off a bit. I haven’t had much of an appetite due to the health issues and as a result, I’m forcing myself to eat foods I don’t want when I’m not hungry to eat. Combine that with my neck & shoulder setback, and it’s just not the right time for this. I plan on doing my usual shred before summertime (and my birthday) so stay tuned for that! Hopefully by then, I’m cleared for more exercises and can workout more regularly.

I feel that I got what I wanted and needed in just about 3 weeks on this detox…and that’s all I could hope for. I wish the same for all of you!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

Day 2 of Detox

Wrapping up day 2 so much better than day 1! As predicted, this day started out smoother & as a result I was a lot less hungry. I have to work on my meal timing so I can get more protein in earlier but otherwise a good day. My carbs look a little high but, if I subtract the fiber from veggies I’m actually good! No exercise; just some yoga stretches and my weekly ART treatment. Here’s what my meals for the day looked like:

Breakfast – 1/4 cup of oats with 1 tsp peanut butter. Coffee with approx. 1 tbsp caramel macchiato creamer.

Lunch – 4 oz. ground turkey, 1 oz brown rice, 2 oz string beans, 1 mushroom quartered

Dinner – 2 whole eggs, 2 mushrooms quartered, sprinkle of shredded cheese, 2 oz sliced turkey, 1 oz Brussels

Snacks – quest bar, protein cookie, protein chips, rice cake. I also had a second coffee made with unsweetened almond milk and 1/2 packet of Splenda.

Water – 64 oz – much less than yesterday and I’m feeling it

Winter Detox

I don’t know about you but I’m in serious need of a detox. I practice flexible dieting – mostly clean eating with some treats thrown in the mix. However, lately I’ve been WAY too flexible. So, I’ve decided enough is enough. Let’s get 2018 started off right! Beginning this Monday, January 15, I will be doing a 30-day winter detox. That word “detox” often scares people. Hell…it scares me too. I don’t believe in juicing or following any type of extreme diet. History has taught me that you will do much more harm than good by following any type of prolonged elimination. This detox is just a way to get our bodies and minds back on track. For 30-days we will be following a strictly clean, protein-heavy diet. No cheat/treat days/meals. Now, I do realize Superbowl Sunday falls in the midst of this. I will likely be participating so I will personally be extending my own detox a few days. Anyone following along can bring their own food to the party or do as I will. I’ve compiled a list to take shopping this weekend. We will be eating 3 meals and two snacks per day (a total of 5 “meals”). I will post everything I eat on here and on MyFitnessPal for you guys to see. If there is something you enjoy and you don’t see it on this list, please feel free to reach out! Also important to note, you do not have to purchase everything you see. This is just a list of compliant foods for the 30-day detox program. You can find these foods at any local supermarket.

  • Oats (quick, old fashioned, or steel cut – none of that pre-made, packaged garbage)
  • Plain, greek yogurt
  • Eggs/egg whites
  • Tuna (solid white, preferred. Always packed in water, not oil!)
  • Brown Rice
  • Low carb wraps (Trader Joe’s)
  • Avocado
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers (English or regular)
  • Tomatoes
  • Chickpeas, black beans, or any beans you’d like (make sure they aren’t packed in oil or soaked in some sauce)
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Chicken or turkey breast
  • Ground Turkey or chicken
  • Steak or ground beef – whichever cut you like…just make sure it’s very lean!
  • Peppers
  • Butternut squash
  • Veggies (kale, asparagus, string beans, zucchini, brussels, broccoli, cauliflower, etc)
  • Tilapia, salmon, or whatever fish you prefer
  • Almonds, cashews
  • Shredded cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Seltzer (plain or flavored)
  • Brown rice cakes (Trader Joe’s sells a good one!)
  • Edamame
  • Protein pasta (Banza is a really good one and easy to find)
  • Unsweetened cashew, coconut, or almond milk (for shakes and soups)

**Not listed here are my kitchen staples (balsamic vinegar, cooking spray/oil, hot sauce, mustard, spices, etc.) as well as my protein powder /BCAAs.**

Water – make sure you are drinking 8-10 glasses (or 80-100oz) of water per day!

Protein Bars – You want to look for bars high in protein and low in sugar. You also want to be careful with carbs. Here’s a tip – look at the fiber then subtract from your carbs. That produces net carbs, which you should aim to always be under 10. Quest bars are excellent for this. RX bars have a higher carb count but have minimal and very clean ingredients. Depending on what you are eating throughout the day, this can be another good option. Other good options include No Cow & Paleo bars. If there is a brand that you prefer and you think will fit the criteria, send to me & I will let you know if it can be added

Fruit – this is tricky. A lot of fruits are extremely high in sugar and while it is always better than eating a cookie or candy, you still need to be mindful. They do contain a lot of vitamins and minerals so we will keep them on. For the next 30-days, stick with berries such as blueberries and raspberries. You can also use lemons or limes for your water. I would steer clear of grapes, apples, and melons for now. Bananas are loaded with sugar and carbs but are excellent before or after a workout. For that reason, I will allow bananas on the plan if you eat them sparingly…and only around an intense workout.

Coffee – If you know me, you know I rarely am seen without a cup of coffee in hand. I’ve done diets where it’s forbidden…and I have yet to figure out why. Of course, like most things, too much caffeine is not good. However, in moderation it’s fine. Now…what you put into your coffee may be another story. I always put almond milk in mine. Sometimes I get fancy and buy coffee creamer- which is eyeballed to the serving size. I don’t like super sweet coffee so that’s good enough for me. I recommend the same for all of you. NO SUGAR ADDED for the next 30 days. If you’re usual order is light & sweet you will have to adjust. Use skim milk and stevia (or Splenda if, like me, you hate stevia). Be careful to not use too much of those sweeteners! If you’re going to use creamers, measure it out. We often put way more than we think! You can also buy the creamers pre-portioned in small cups, also making them portable!

I will be posting some recipes and some of the foods I like on here tomorrow. Check out my Instagram for even more info – @thefight2befit

Let’s work!!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

New Year, New Healthier US!

Happy New Year and happy blogiversary to this little engine that could. 4 years ago, I started this blog in the hopes that by sharing my story & struggles I could help inspire some of you. I just want to show you that despite every obstacle & hardship, it IS possible.

A lot has changed over the last 4 years. When I started this blog, I was in the middle of my own weight loss journey. I was down 50lbs and starting to really figure it out. Since then, I’ve completed a Spartan race, WipeOut race, 4-week bodybuilding prep (did not actually compete), ran my first 5k – coming in first in my age group, and became a personal trainer. I went from a size 12/14 to a size 2/4 and dropped about 80lbs along the way. This journey saw some incredible highs…and lows. In that WipeOut race, I ended up with a SLAP tear which I didn’t get checked out (and operated on) until 2 years later. I also have had a variety of issues in my personal & professional life, which have caused me to slack on this blog from time to time.

2017 was a year filled with some of the very best…and worst…moments of my entire life. Despite my best intention, I haven’t posted a lot on here…especially recently. Truth is, I’ve had a rough couple of months in my personal life. However, after a lot of thinking, I’ve decided to share with you all. The purpose of this blog was, as I said, to help people, so while I tend to keep my private life private…maybe sharing this can help someone see that they aren’t alone. I will detail everything in an upcoming blog. This past year also saw me recover from major shoulder surgery…only to be set back further. I’ve recently been diagnosed with bulging discs in my neck. This has caused incredible pain to my traps & shoulder…and is likely the cause of the migraines that I get. I don’t need surgery but it’s going to be a long road to get back to normal. Suffice to say, I am happy to begin a new year and hopefully begin a new chapter in this book of life.

I start physical therapy again tomorrow. This injury is a HUGE setback to the intense workouts that I’m accustomed to. So, I’ve decided to begin working on some functional stuff. I’ve had terrible balance throughout my entire life – so I’ll be starting there. I;d like to make my ankles less wobbly & strengthen my core. I can’t lift heavy or run, but I’m determined to figure out a HIIT workout that I CAN do. I will be trying to design a different plan to keep myself motivated.

In addition, I will be hosting a winter “detox” beginning January 15. Unlike a lot of the typical new year cleanses and detoxes, this doesn’t involve any juice or extreme diet. Instead, we will be focused on super clean eating; Detox the body from the holiday goodies…and garbage…that we’ve filled it with and get the new year off to a healthy start with a nice clean slate. I will be posting a shopping list next week to get everyone started. Similar to my last shred, I will post everything that I eat daily. I’m not calling this a shred since I can’t do those type of workouts. However, I will be doing whatever I possibly can and posting that here as well. Anyone interested in joining me on my mission to healthier living, shoot me a message – thefight2befit@gmail.com – and I will try to help you out!

Thanks for following my journey! Let’s make 2018 our best & healthiest year yet!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

The Ugly Truth Behind PCOS

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I am 1 in 10. I have a condition known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. For many years, this was an unheard of & unspoken illness. While the internet can sometimes be the bane of my existence, it’s provided a lot of insight and comfort recently. It’s so helpful and awe-inspiring to see so many others in the same struggle. It’s had a terrible impact on the last 15 years of my life but before I get into my story, let’s shed some light on what PCOS actually is.

PCOS is a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels. 1 out of 10 women have this illness. Despite this ratio, experts believe that more than half of women with PCOS don’t even realize they have it. Women with PCOS have slightly higher levels of testosterone and androgen in the body than normal for the average woman. Despite the name, you may not necessarily have ovarian cysts. Symptoms can sometimes present themselves at the onset of a girl’s period; however, many won’t notice anything until they’ve gained a significant amount of weight or have trouble getting pregnant. In some cases, women don’t find out they have PCOS until after they have their first child. The most common symptoms are irregular periods, heavy bleeding, excess hair growth, acne, weight gain, male-pattern baldness, darkening of the skin, fatigue, and headaches. PCOS is also linked with chronic inflammation, which can leave you feeling achy, fatigued, and it contributes to weight gain.

Along with the myriad of symptoms, one of the biggest issues with PCOS is how it affects your ability to become and/or stay pregnant. In fact, it is the leading cause of female infertility. Between 70 and 80 percent of women with PCOS have fertility problems. This condition can also increase the risk of complication during pregnancy. Women with PCOS are twice as likely as women without the condition to deliver their baby prematurely. They’re also at greater risk for miscarriage, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. However, hope is not lost. Having PCOS does not mean you will be incapable of becoming pregnant naturally; it just may take longer than others. Losing weight and lowering blood sugar levels can improve your odds of having a healthy pregnancy. Women with PCOS can also get pregnant using fertility treatments that improve ovulation.

There is no cure for PCOS; however, there are several medications and treatments your doctor may suggest. Medications such as birth control & metformin are often prescribed to reduce symptoms and/or regulate your period. Fertility medicines may also be recommended for those trying to become pregnant. Your doctor may require regular tests and follow up visits to be sure that the treatment/medication is working properly and to adjust if necessary. Some doctors may also recommend supplements, including berberine, folate, B12, vitamin D, and inositol. Regular exercise, healthy eating, and weight control are also key treatments for PCOS. Unfortunately, it can be more challenging to lose weight and to maintain weight loss with PCOS. Some recommended foods to avoid are foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and muffins, sugary snacks and drinks, and inflammatory foods, such as processed and red meats. Many women with PCOS often have higher than normal insulin levels. Doctors advise that just a slight weight reduction and increase of exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek help from your OB/GYN as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will be on the path to feeling better!

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MY STORY:


I am 1 in 10. Everyone has a story…this is mine. After suffering every single month throughout high school and falling very sick during my first semester of college, I sought help from a gynecologist. She diagnosed me soon after with PCOS at the age of 18. From then on, I was put on various birth control pills (and even that godawful…and pointless…patch) to try and regulate things. It has been mostly under control, except for my weight fluctuating like crazy, my face randomly breaking out like a teenager, and my period doing whatever it damn well pleases.

I do not have kids yet and am otherwise convinced that I won’t be able to have them. I have suffered two miscarriages – one in my very early 20s and another one recently.

I’ve recently come off birth control and I’m hoping to not go back on it. I’ve been on it for 15 years, barring a few months here and there where I was giving my body a break or where I didn’t have insurance. While it is helpful for many of my symptoms, it tends to stop my period and cause a bunch of other issues…which I don’t need. I plan on taking it day by day to see how my body reacts and if all goes well, I won’t go back on the pills. The goal, as always, is to feel good & live a better, healthier life.

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If you or someone you know is struggling, please know you are NOT alone. Feel free to contact me anytime through social media or via email – I’m always available to lend an understand ear.

Stay strong & stay in the fight

xoxo

Gina