Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Happy new year…and happy one year anniversary to this little blog of mine! My weight loss journey began two years ago when I weighed 210 pounds, wore a size 12/14, and was completely miserable with mostly every aspect of my life. I worked hard to not only lose over 70 lbs but I completely gained my life back. A year ago today, I began this blog with a mission to share my journey in the hopes of inspiring and motivating others who may have similar struggles. This was my first time having a blog and it was definitely a learning experience. So, with that, comes a bit of a slow start. However, I have some big plans in the works for 2015! 🙂

NYE through the years

New Year’s Eve transformation

I always try to make resolutions and set big goals for the new year. In the past, my only resolution would be to lose weight. The plan would last all of a month and that would be that…and by summertime I would have some serious regrets. Last year, my resolution was not to break my resolution….or the promises to myself. So, I decided to start setting small, attainable goals that would help me throughout the year. The ultimate goals last year were to trim down to a size 2/build muscle and to run my first timed race. I accomplished both and I also accomplished something that I’ve been working towards for years: happiness. For the first time in my life, I feel truly content with everything and everyone in my life. I can’t even explain the freedom you feel when you get to this place…but it’s incredible.

This year I have new goals set for myself. A few months ago I ran a 5k and so this year, I would like to challenge myself to run a 10k. I also plan to continue my muscle building and work towards leaning out more. A personal goal that I have is to stop being so overcritical of myself. I really am my harshest critic….and that tends to make things harder than they need to be. My ultimate goal for this year though will be to get my career on a better path and work towards getting myself certified so that I can coach people professionally! It is my ultimate dream to one day have my own business where I help guide people on the path to healthier lifestyles. I’m pretty far from that so for now I will focus on getting myself into the fitness industry and really educating myself. I have learned so much this past year and I can’t wait to get my hands on more.

As far as this blog goes, there are some things coming down the pipeline. I will be posting any new tips and advice that I have based on my learnings as well as my normal posts (which I promise will be more consistent!) I will also be launching some fitness challenges to get everyone beach body ready within the next few months…so stay tuned!! 🙂

2014 was definitely an amazing year! I got into the best shape of my life and started a relationship with an amazing man…who has become my best friend. I am truly the happiest and healthiest I have ever been….and I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings! Thanks for sticking with me – I promise to make the second year of this blog even better!

Stay strong and stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

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Back to Basics

Happy Friday! Hope everyone is keeping warm in this ridiculously cold weather that we’ve been having!

I’m finally starting to get back on my feet after being sick for almost two weeks. I had vertigo for most of last week. If you’ve never had it, consider yourself lucky–it’s a very annoying illness. You don’t feel sick in the conventional way–you just get incredibly dizzy for no reason…which also makes you nauseous. Vertigo can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days to even a few weeks. Lucky for me, mine was gone by Sunday. However, to treat the vertigo, I was told to buy motion sickness pills.  I was so sick, I didn’t care what was in the pills or what else they could potentially cause—I just wanted to stop being dizzy. So while the dizziness dissipated, I had new issues come Sunday night. Turns out one of the side effects of these pills is that they mess your stomach up…bad. Having stomach issues already, this was a recipe for disaster…and unfortunately one that I’m still battling as I write this.

Whenever my stomach issues (IBS in particular) flare up, I notice a pattern with myself. The longer the stomach issues drag on, the worse I feel mentally. I worked really hard to lose weight and get myself in good shape but during these lovely times, I can’t really workout. Sure I could lift weights or do leg work—but I can’t do the cardio which will get my mind right. Without that, what’s the point? That go hard or go home mentality really bites me sometimes.

I started this blog in the hopes of helping others who may have similar struggles and show anyone that they can do it too. I know that not every day is going to be perfect on this journey and that things happen. We get sick, we get busy…life just happens. The important thing is how you bounce back. I still have moments where where I slip back into negative thinking. When my stomach is blown up and I feel crappy, I tend to think that I look like a cow. Deep down though, I know that once I am able to work out again that feeling will go away. Thankfully, I have surrounded myself with some great (and patient) people who remind me of this and talk me off a ledge when it’s needed.

IMG_7860My game plan is get back to the gym (or maybe even run outside if the weather warms up a little) this weekend. As far as my diet, I think I’m going back to basics. I’m going to start using MyFitnessPal again to keep me accountable. Since I want to lose some more weight and lean out, I want to do some research on reverse dieting and IIFYM. With the holidays quickly approaching, I need to get back on track with everything. I will share my findings with you all as soon as I can.

Stay tuned for a healthy Thanksgiving recipe, to be posted this weekend 🙂

Until then – stay strong, stay warm, and stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

5K Training: The Home Stretch

Good grief I’m tired! I may be in the home stretch but this training is really kicking my butt…big time…

Yesterday should have been a leg day but since they already feel heavy and like jello, I didn’t think using heavy weights this week would be wise. That being said, I’ve decide to hold off on my leg-days until next week. I did manage to run 2 miles at the gym and did 100 squats at home. After all,  just because my legs can’t get extra work doesn’t mean I slack off on keeping the booty in check 😉
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Today was a whole different story. It’s supposed to be arm-day and was also supposed to be the day I ran my 5K distance. Well, my body had other plans for me. Not only could I barely keep my eyes open all day but my stomach was not a happy camper. My goal was to run a 5k on the track by my house right after work (so as to run while it was still daylight.) However, my stomach had other ideas and so I had to come home first…which of course meant running outside was out of the question. I decided I would watch the Biggest Loser, participate in the commercial challenges, then hit the gym for a run. Well, that also didn’t go as planned. I did manage to do one of the workouts–but I kept dozing off while I sat there watching the show. Not cool.

Once the show ended, I was really exhausted and started getting upset with myself.  Here it is 3 days away from race day and I knew that I needed to run 3.1 miles before Sunday in order to feel confident in myself. I got up and put on my workout clothes. I then looked at myself in the mirror and told myself how angry I would be if I didn’t do this run tonight. Sometimes things need to be put into perspective. The thought of how I would feel tomorrow made me push–and off to the gym I went.

I’ve noticed this week that running on a treadmill is much harder than outside–not only do you have to maintain the same speed the whole time, but there is no air flow. The same air circulates in the gym and it’s usually too hot. That coupled with my breathing troubles have made this training very difficult for me. Still, that hasn’t stopped me.

Tonight was probably the biggest struggle I’ve had in a while. My stomach was a wreck, I was extremely tired, I was having trouble breathing as I ran, and my legs are SUPER sore–but I did it. AND I SET A NEW PR! 12 seconds faster than my best time to be exact-go figure…

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Lesson learned..big time. You want something bad enough, you push yourself to get it.  As I was running, I thought I would throw up and I felt a little light headed—but I did it. I had to jump to the sides several times, pausing the machine to drink water. I just kept telling myself no matter how slow this ends up, you have to finish it. Tomorrow is the last day of training so I knew that it was now or never. I did it–and I know I can on Sunday too. We may be expecting really cold weather Sunday morning but I will just take my time and do my best. Just being able to cross that finish line and knowing that I accomplished the goal that I set for myself this year will be an amazing feeling.

One more day left…Stay tuned!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

 

5K Training – Day 8

  • Cardio: Run – 2 miles, 17:50
  • 100 squats (non-weighted)
5K Training – Day 9:
  • Cardio: Run – 3.1 miles, 28:25
  • Biggest Loser commercial challenge – 15 push-ups

5K Training: Day 7

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I’m now 5 days out from my very first race! I’m super excited but I am starting to get a bit nervous. I made sure to get a good workout in tonight and plan to keep that going until race day. Hopefully, all of this hard work will pay off.

I was really tired today and (shocker) my stomach was not cooperating. Rather than use that as an excuse, I decided to use it as my motivation. I pushed myself harder and ended up running 2 miles on the track by my house. I would post a picture of the run but my app froze during my first lap so the timing is a bit off–so there’s no sense in it. I could estimate that I did the 2 miles in about 18 minutes–which is not great but it’s not bad. I then took myself to the gym for arm-day. I learned my lesson last week when I pushed my injured shoulder too far.  For this workout, I just did as much as I could–pushing myself but not to the point of getting hurt. As a result, I feel sore but I’m not in pain.

Overall, I’d say tonight was a big success. I was exhausted and dealing with some of my stomach issues but I still managed to get a hard workout in. I can honestly say that I’m really proud of myself for pushing through tonight’s workout. My plan is to run 3.1 tomorrow so I can prove to myself that it can be done come race day. Everyday is a learning experience and brings more challenges our way but I find that it’s often better to make improvements on the things rather than make excuses. And always remember: nothing worth having comes easy.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

 

5K Training – Day 7

Cardio: Run – 2 miles (outdoor track), 18 minutes**

Arm-day:

Seated row (30lbs) 10 x 5

Lat pull-down (40lbs) 25 x 4 (front & back)

Tricep push-down (75lbs) 10 x 5

Tricep extension (50lbs) 10 x 5

Bicep curls (2-10lbs dumbbells) 10 x 5, each arm

30 assisted pull-ups

20 push-ups (at-home)

Front raises (2-5lbs dumbbells) 10 x 2, 1 x 5 (at-home)

Side raises (2-5lbs dumbbells) 10 x 2, 1 x 5; each arm (at-home)

…And so it begins…

My goal this year was to run a 5K. What better way than with the show that started this journey of mine, The Biggest Loser. I will be competing in the Biggest Loser RunWalk on November 2 at Six Flags Great Adventure. After suffering a number of setbacks over the summer, my mental strength was tested and my workouts suffered. Starting this week, I am planning double workouts in order to get my body back into the shape it was in prior to the summer and get it back to comfortably running 5k-distances.

The original plan was to begin yesterday however with a serious IBS flare up (which has been going on for over a week) I was forced to stop home first. I let some time pass and by the time I got to the gym, it was late and there was no parking. So I opted to just go home and get to bed early so as to run this morning. I prefer running early in the morning anyway so this ended up working out in my favor.

I woke up today and decided I would begin training by running one mile. I did just that, finishing one mile in exactly nine minutes. I know this was not a great time but I’m happy that I was able to complete the mile with minimal struggle. My fastest time to-date for a full 5K was 28:37 back in June (I had a faster run-time for 3 miles at 25:25 back in May.) So the ultimate goal is not just to run the 3.1 miles but to set a PR for myself (or at least meet my prior PR from the summer.) I began today with the one mile and as my body builds its endurance back up, I will gradually increase the mileage and then (hopefully) work on my speed.

Running is no easy feat for me, due to breathing troubles. Usually with my inhaler I am able to run with minimal struggle (as was the case today.) However, after the run I noticed that I had a slight cough with phlegm. My back has also been bothering me as I breathe ever since I ran. I’m sure the more I train my lungs with running over these next two weeks, the better I will feel come race-day and beyond.

My second workout of the day was a lunchtime leg-day workout. I will be alternating my arm & leg days in conjunction with running. Normally, I don’t like to run on leg-days, as the weights I use are quite heavy and it negatively impacts my running. However with the race so close, I will push through so as to train my body.

I also will be getting back into the super strict diet that I followed back in May. My stomach hasn’t been right all summer and it  has been particularly bad over the last month. I can’t go on like this – it’s not just uncomfortable but it’s also bad mentally. I still don’t know the exact trigger. So until someone can figure out what causes these flare-ups I have no choice but to treat myself and do what makes me feel better…and that would be following that super strict diet again. While it may not be the most enjoyable diet to follow, feeling sick is even worse so I will just have to adapt.

I will be posting my training each day, to keep me accountable and to help anyone who may also be facing similar struggles. This journey is definitely not easy and just when you think you have it all figured out, life decides to throw you a curve ball. Always remember: nothing worth having comes easy!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

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5K Training – Day One:

Fasted Cardio (treadmill) – 1 mile (alternating speed of 6.5-7.0, no incline), 9 minutes flat, 115 calories burned

Leg-Day workout:

Seated leg press (100 lbs) 25 x 4

Seated leg extension (50 lbs) 25 x 2

Seated leg curl (50 lbs) 25 x 2

Seated calf raise (50 lbs) 25 x 2

Hip adduction (125 lbs) 25 x 4

Hip abduction (150 lbs) 25 x 4

Squats (at-home, non-weighted) 100

MaliBooty workout (at-home; see image below)

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Quick & Easy Clean Eating

My apologies on the delay of this—looks like I’m going to need to get a new computer sooner rather than later. Anyway, as promised, I’ve decided to share some recipes along with some daily staples of my own diet.

Thanks to Rachael Ray and her 30-minutes of fabulous creations, I love to cook. That woman really taught me wonders. While I don’t follow her recipes, I do get inspired by them and I have adapted her techniques to cook everything in 30 minutes or less. Now I can transform all of my favorite dishes and make them healthy with minimal time and effort – It really is genius.

Here is my daily breakdown:

Breakfast:  I never ate breakfast growing up. I was never hungry and would give my mom a really hard time each morning before school. As an adult, I realize how important breakfast is and it’s become my favorite meal of the day. Weekday mornings there isn’t a lot of time to prepare amazing things so I eat oatmeal. I portion the oats out by scooping a ½ cup into a Tupperware container. I then sprinkle about a ½ tsp of cinnamon on top. For variety, I like to add a half banana (which I slice), some blueberries, flax seeds, or some almonds.  This is a healthy, fast breakfast on-the-go for work days.  On weekends, there’s no time constraint so I get creative. I almost always incorporate egg whites but what I do with them varies. Sometimes it’s just egg whites scrambled, sometimes it’s a frittata. If I feel like having oatmeal on a weekend, I will sometimes add in a scoop of protein powder to make a sweeter variety on my every day breakfast.

Coffee: This gets its own category. Anyone who knows me knows just how important coffee is and how seriously I take it. I drink iced coffee and I typically make a whole pot and have that ready for each morning. Now I’m not lactose-intolerant as I can consume dairy products such as cheese, ice cream, yogurt and others without a hitch but I cannot have straight milk in anything—especially not in coffee. That’s just a recipe for a really bad day in stomach land. So I opt to use coffee creamer. I know some people use almond milk or coconut milk but to me it just doesn’t taste as good in coffee and then I have to add sweeteners to the mix. I prefer the creamer, which may not be so great but I don’t have to add anything else to the coffee. Weekends I tend to get my coffee outside. I was treating myself to turbo iced coffees at Dunkin (which are loaded with tons of unnecessary sugar and calories thanks to the flavors I add) until I discovered the beauty and magic that is a “blendicano” from Starbucks. So my weekends now begin with a venti double blended Americano. I read that people add sugar free flavors to it. Most of the time those have a weird taste to me but the sugar free mocha is amazing and doesn’t have that chemical taste to it. I still have the turbo iced coffee from time to time but I prefer the blendicano.

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My lunch and dinner varies each day. As a rule for myself, I try to not eat any carbs after I leave work. Occasionally I may have a banana post-workout or something like that but my dinner almost always only consists of protein and vegetables. This helps in reducing bloating and keeps your stomach flat.

Here is one of my favorite dinner ideas. I got the initial idea from my mom, as she used to make this for me years ago. My own version is slightly modified, eliminating onions and cutting down the serving size to just feed one. I use frozen zucchini and frozen pepper strips and fresh mushrooms. This dish is super easy to make and typically takes no more than 30 minutes to prepare.

Italian Stir-fry

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  • 1 chicken breast
  • Olive Oil (approx. 1 tbsp)
  • Diced tomatoes (about ½ 14 oz. can)
  • Mushrooms
  • Pepper strips
  • Zucchini
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt and black pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  • Begin by lightly coating the bottom of your pan with olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper; Heat the oil on medium heat then place the chicken into the pan. Season the other side of your chicken and flip.
  • Remove cooked chicken from heat and let rest.
  • Using the same pan, lightly coat that with more olive oil. Place zucchini, peppers, and diced tomatoes in pan; Season with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and salt/black pepper.
  • Cover and simmer until vegetables soften.
  • Slice rested chicken; add chicken and mushrooms into vegetable mixture.
  • Cook together for another 5 minutes, serve (by itself or over brown rice) and enjoy!

If you have any questions about this recipe or suggestions for others you would like to see in future posts, feel free to email me.  A healthy lifestyle can be difficult to maintain but being able to transform some of your favorite dishes into a healthier version, it becomes a little less stressful. Always remember: nothing worth having comes easy.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Clean Up Your Diet Without Cleaning Out Your Wallet

I focus a lot on motivation and exercise in this blog but I thought I’d touch on diet this week. I haven’t really gone into it so much because my situation is so unique. However, the point of this blog is to share my journey and hopefully help someone in a similar situation.

People are always asking me what the secret is to my weight loss. Well, there is no secret. I work really hard and most importantly, I eat clean. Abs are built in the kitchen—if you eat crap, you will not have a flat stomach or lose weight. Life is all about the choices that are made and if you choose to not watch what you eat or exercise regularly, you can’t expect to look like you do.

I began eating clean earlier this year when I was on my bikini body mission. I’ve maintained that diet while working in some snacks along the way. I feel it’s very important to not deprive yourself foods so as to prevent binging later on. So, I’ve created a balance and I no longer have the food noise holding me back.

Truthfully clean eating has really changed my life. It has not only allowed me to lose weight and drop several sizes, it has drastically helped my stomach problems. My stomach has never felt as good as it did the month I ate totally clean. I do feel the effects when I allow myself those snacks or “bad” foods and as a result I do have some occasional flair-ups. Overall though, my stomach problems have gotten drastically better and I don’t suffer nearly as much as I used to.

When I tell people they should eat clean, I’m told how expensive it is and how hard it is to maintain. While it’s true that clean, healthy eating can be very pricey, I’ve found ways to work around it.  Living on a budget and having a restricted diet means you have to get creative and I have seemingly mastered that art. Here are some of my tips:

  • I hardly ever buy name-brand products. You pay for a label and in many cases, it’s double the price for the same product.
  • I read through the supermarket flyers. Yes, this takes a little time and patience but when you have a limited budget and you can only food shop once a month, you make it work. I may have to go to a few different stores, but I manage to get everything I need and only spend about $50 for a month’s supply of food.
  • I buy certain foods in bulk. Doing this saves me money since the larger quantity usually lasts longer. My chicken (Kirkland boneless chicken breasts) comes from Costco and runs me about $18. They come individually wrapped and require little to no cleaning/trimming. For oatmeal, I buy a big canister of oats from Shoprite. When it’s not on sale the oats will run you about $2.79 (if you happen to catch a sale, even better!) You can also get the oats at Target for a similar price. For coffee, I get the biggest size of Maxwell House at Costco for under $10 and while I drink more than my fair share of coffee, that container still lasts.
  • Frozen vegetables and fruit: Fruits and vegetables are often frozen at their peak ripeness, so as long as you buy the bags without any added sugars or ingredients, you’re good to go. You can often get bags of vegetables for $1 on sale. You have to shop around for your fruit but I have found some amazing frozen blueberries and strawberries at (brace yourself for this) the Dollar Tree. That sounds weird…I know… but it’s the same brand that can be found elsewhere. So if I can pay one dollar for the same fruit that I’d pay triple for anyplace else, why discriminate based on the store?
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables: Other than bananas (which I get at Trader Joe’s for .19) I only buy fresh if there’s a sale. Of course certain things like avocados, lettuce, and asparagus have to be fresh but I do my homework or I go without it that month. If lettuce is not on sale, I buy extra frozen kale that month and make warm salads with that instead.
  • Read labels. I continue to learn this lesson the hard way. Matter of fact, just a few weeks ago I suffered an allergic reaction due to a preservative lurking inside my favorite snack (Pop Corners.) These chips along with most granola bars and a lot of “healthy” foods contain tons of preservatives and additives. It’s also important to note: just because you buy a food from a health store or it’s labeled natural/organic doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Take the few extra seconds and turn the package over. As a general rule: if you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients, it’s definitely not clean eating…and it’s probably not very good for you.

I’m often asked how to prepare various things and what I eat to not only lose weight, but minimize my stomach issues. So, I will be adding recipes to this blog once a week that will feature everything from smoothies and snacks to full meals. I hope to take the hours of research that I’ve done over the years and make your lives a little easier.

No matter what struggles you face, it IS possible. Always remember that nothing worth having comes easy!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com