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

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

Healthy Eating On-the-Go

One of the most common questions that I’m asked is about eating on the go. What do you do when home cooked food isn’t an option? Let’s face it – life gets busy and there isn’t always time to meal prep. So, I thought I would shed some light on this topic by offering some of my favorite places to go…as well as some menu suggestions. We will start with lunch, since that tends to be the meal that gives people the most trouble. Let’s get started!

The first thing I want to get out of the way…Fast food can ACTUALLY be healthy. Yes…you read that right. I can’t believe I wrote that myself. The fact is that our budgets do not always allow for $10 salads or fancypants meals…but we still need to eat! Healthy options are available everywhere…you just have to look. With that out of the way, let’s go through some of my favorite places 🙂

Wendy’s – I have always loved their salads. Over the years, I stopped eating them but out of desperation I had one this week…and now I don’t know why I ever stopped. I had the Power Mediterranean and it was packed with protein and tons of healthy eats. Best part? It only cost $7!! That meal kept me full for hours and didn’t break the bank.

They also have other salads available, which do not contain as much protein but are equally good options.

Chick-Fil-A – I love me some Chick-Fil-A. Their meat is pure chicken and is always cooked fresh. I will be honest here and say that every time I go, I tend get the same meal – 8 piece chicken nuggets (not the grilled kind) with waffle fries and a sweet tea.

I know…not exactly a dieter’s delight. However, I don’t eat it often so I allow myself the treat when I do go. If this is what is convenient to you and you go more often, opt instead for one of their salads or grilled chicken options…and avoid the shakes & sweet tea altogether.

Moe’s/Chipotle/Salsa Fresca – This is by far one of the best options. The only rule – get a bowl…not burrito. Tell them to only put half the portion of rice (brown, if possible). Load up on veggies and meat. Stay away from the sour cream, add only a sprinkle of cheese and you are golden.

You can also get a salad and load it up with meat & veggies, which is equally good.

Boston Market – Another amazing option. Get the 1/4 white meal and add veggies as one of (or both) of your sides.

You can have any potatoes…just skip the gravy…and the cornbread. They put it on my plate above even though I refused it. However I didn’t eat it. I’ve had good cornbread…this isn’t it for me. However, if it is for you, then by all means enjoy it…just skip the potatoes.

Deli/Subway – When going to Subway you can get a 6-inch sub, have them scoop the middle of the bread out and get anything your heart desires. They don’t put a lot of meat or cheese anyway so anything you get will be ok. Delis can be a little more tricky. I would opt for a salad or a wrap with grilled chicken or sliced turkey. Watch your dressing and condiment selections but otherwise it should be good to go.

Diner – Diners are great for the simple fact they have HUGE menus. There are so many options to choose from and so many variations you can make.

Some suggestions: chicken souvaki (sauce on the side and NO fries), salads with grilled chicken (dressing on the side), or a turkey burger without a bun or fries. The list goes on and on. Another idea is to get breakfast for any meal. You can get an egg whites any way you like. The only thing you have to watch is your sides with this, since they definitely do not cook the eggs in a healthy way…meaning they load the griddle up with butter. Be cautious and use your judgment.

Chinese Takeout – Asian food can be really healthy if you do it the smart way. It may not look as appealing but it does taste good. Order your food steamed with brown rice (ie: chicken and string beans or broccoli) and get the sauce of your choice on the side. You will notice that if you spoon the sauce onto the food, you are using A  LOT less and therefore consuming at least half of the usual calories. Another good option – sushi. You have to watch the kind you get…and I would ask for brown rice instead of white, if possible…but it is definitely one of the better options on the menu.

Muscle Maker Grill – I LOVE THIS PLACE! There isn’t anything on the menu that I would advise against.

This place is designed for healthy eating and while it may not be budget friendly, is definitely worth the extra cash. If it’s local to you, definitely give it a shot!

I hope this helps just a little bit! When all else fails, find a salad or grilled chicken option wherever you are. You can never go wrong when choosing either of those. Just watch for your sides and condiments/dressing and you will be just fine!

For questions on this or any of my personal training/nutritional counseling specials, email me at TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Until next week, stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

 

 

Cinco de Mayo – The Healthy Way

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! Anyone who knows me knows just how much I LOVE Mexican food…and margaritas! Many people believe that when you are trying to lose weight or keep your diet in check you can’t enjoy that stuff…but you can!!

I always preach that it’s better to satisfy a craving and be done rather than deprive yourself…and ultimately binge later. The basics are to avoid the heavy sauces, sour cream, overloading on cheese, and fried menu items. Order guacamole, if possible, as it’s a very healthy addition to your meal. Here are some more tips for dining out tonight:

  • Order fajitas! They contain lots of meat and veggies – you can’t go wrong! Where things tend to go haywire is with the rice, beans, and everything else. Order steak, fish, or chicken and make sure to ask for corn tortillas. Most places have that option nowadays with so many suffering from gluten allergies. The corn tortillas are always smaller and therefore will be somewhat better. Now, the other things. DO not eat the refried beans. If you really want beans, ask for black instead. And as far as the rice…..eat a spoon of it and be done. Trust me when I tell you, on Cinco de Mayo the rice is almost always the worst part of the meal….anywhere you go. Add the pico in and leave out the sour cream…there are better ways to spend those calories.
  • Chips. This gets it’s own category. I know how delicious it is…and after waiting who knows how long for a table tonight you will be hungry. Have a few (and I mean a few) and be done. If you know you won’t be able to only eat a couple of chips, tell the waiter you don’t want them on the table. That way, the temptation isn’t even there!
  • Burritos – This is an easy one guys. Make it a bowl. If you can sub out the regular “mexican” rice for brown…do that. Be smart about the type of burrito you choose, and if possible, create your own. It will contain everything you want and be guilt-free.
  • Tacos – This is another great option. If you don’t want to leave smelling like a restaurant (as fajitas tend to do) go with this. Ask for the corn tortillas and you’re good to go. Remember – no refried beans on the side!
  • Taco salad – Don’t….just don’t. This always comes in an enormous FRIED shell. They load it with lettuce but they also put tons of cheese and other nonsense that you shouldn’t bother with.for all the calories in this, you may as well have something good.
  • MARGARITAS!!!! I get asked this question by clients and friends all the time – Can we still have a drink when we go out?? The answer is yes. After all, who goes out on Cinco de Mayo and doesn’t?! It’s about moderation. If you like how regular margaritas taste and prefer it not to be so strong, order it as is and only have one. Better yet? Order the skinny margarita. It has half the calories and will usually be stronger. I don’t like mine sweet so I tell them to leave out the agave and replace it with seltzer. That option is even better since seltzer has no calories at all…so the margarita will be even less.

If you prefer a more subdued evening, there are many delicious and easy to make options for you at home. I’ve done Cinco at home and it’s definitely the easiest & healthiest way to go. The atmosphere isn’t the same but you can make it to your own taste and make it macro friendly. You can make tacos or your own burrito bowls from the comfort of your own kitchen and by using your own ingredients, you can tailor it to your diet specifications. You can even make a margarita at home! If you don’t want to crack open a ready-made (and quite delicious) SkinnyGirl margarita, you can make it by adding tequila, triple sec, seltzer, and a splash of lime juice. Boom.

Whatever you choose to do tonight, make sure you enjoy it. There is nothing worse than having amazing food and a great time with friends and loved ones…only to have it squashed by the food noise & all the guilt that accompanies it. Allow yourself a night out & try to make smart choices. And you know what…if you slip up tonight and have one too many drinks or decide to get something more fattening to eat…SO WHAT?! It’s one meal and one night! Get back on your grind tomorrow morning and continue through the weekend. Life is so much more than rock hard abs every single day – learn to love this new healthier lifestyle and trust me….it will be easy to stick to.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Summertime Shred Recipes

The first week of my Summertime Shred is in the books!! While I may be loosely following a workout plan from Bodybuilding.com, I decided to create my own meal plan for this 6-week shred. After the last shred I did in 2014, I couldn’t deal with the crazy restrictions. No more poverty macros and minimal calories for this girl! I created a flexible diet plan which is high in protein and doesn’t leave me hungry every night. I’ve also come up with a few amazing recipes that are sure to jazz up even the strictest diet. Whether you are following along with my shred or just looking for some healthy recipes, these will satisfy even your toughest critic. Best of all? You can make them all in 30 minutes or less! Check them out and let me know what you think!

 

Chili-Lime Chicken Burgers

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*This recipe can be used for tilapia as well. Just coat the fish with lime juice first then add seasonings before placing in a grill pan.*

  • 1 pound/package of ground chicken (I use Perdue)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (or more if you prefer things spicier)
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • parsley, optional
  1. Combine spices and ground chicken together. Divide meat into 4 parts  and create burger patties.
  2. Lightly coat the bottom of a grill pan with olive oil and heat to medium high. Place burgers in pan.
  3. Cook each side until brown (approx 5-8 min per side), then lower heat to medium and cover.
  4. Continue to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
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Chili-Lime Tilapia

Butternut Squash Soup

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*This recipe is for 1 serving…and is absolutely perfect for a quick meal! I roast the squash ahead of time using a little cinnamon and black pepper. I place in a container and portion it out for the week. However, if you used the entire batch, it would serve at least 4. You will have to add more liquid, accordingly.*

  • 1 cup of cut butternut squash (I use Trader Joe’s pre-cut variety)
  • 1 cup of unsweetened cashew or coconut milk
  1. In a blender (or magic bullet), combine squash and 1/2 cup of milk. Blend until creamy.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine blended squash with remaining milk. Heat on medium and stir. Continue to cook for about 5-8 minutes, or until heated through.
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Roasted Butternut Squash

 

Turkey Chili

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*I’ve posted this before, but it’s so good that it’s worth posting again 🙂 I serve mine over brown rice but you can enjoy a nice, hearty bowl of this chili without the rice and it will taste just as good!*

  • 1 pound/package of ground turkey
  • 1/2 can of diced tomatoes (approx. 7 oz)
  • 1/4 cup of frozen bell pepper strips
  • chili powder
  • parsley
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  1. In a large saucepan with a little olive oil (to coat the bottom of pan), combine turkey and spices. Cook on medium high heat and brown evenly.
  2. Add diced tomatoes & peppers as well as hot sauce, if you choose. Add a 1/4 cup of water and lower heat to simmer.
  3. Cover & continue to cook for approximately 20 minutes. Serve over brown rice (optional) and top with your favorite cheese.

 

Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

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*Serves 1 – to serve more, use additional potatoes.*

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled
  • cinnamon/black pepper, to taste
  1. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut sweet potato length-wise into strips. Place strips on cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on top.
  3. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

 

Have suggestions for what I should cook up next? Email me at TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com and let me know!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

6-Week Summertime Shred

HERE WE GO!!! Every year I create a challenge for myself…and this year is no exception. Join me as I get summertime fine with this 6-week shred!

The original plan for this 6-week shred was to happen a bit closer to summer. However, with an upcoming trip to Florida fast approaching I figure there is no time like the present. Besides, better to get into good habits now rather than wait until its beach time anyway. Everyday I will document my meals, using MyFitnessPal as well as all workouts.

The workout plan that I will be using for this round is taken from Bodybuilding.com and is based upon the 30-Days to a Fitness Model Body plan that Kelsey Byers created. I will be adapting the workouts to last an additional two weeks…and to not further injure this bum shoulder.

The workouts alternate between specific muscle groups each day, varying the weight and reps with each week. It also incorporates a lot of cardio. Now, as I posted on my Instagram account (@FinallyFit23) not so long ago, I will be aiming to run a race before the year ends. In order to keep with that mission as well as this training plan, I will be doing fasted cardio 5 days of the week, barring the two days when I have to be at work for 6 a.m. On those two days, I will incorporate a different type of cardio routine into my daily plan. No matter what, there will be two-a-days happening from here on out.

As far as diet goes, I will be making it a lot more strict but no where near what it was the last time I did this. No fish for breakfast for this girl! I have been practicing flexible dieting a lot and I believe that there is a way to be just as shredded without making yourself gag first thing in the morning. Personally, I like to have certain things at certain times of the day. Call me crazy but chicken or fish first thing in the morning just doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe it’s because I spent most of my life NOT eating breakfast…but even though our body has no idea what time of day it actually is…I know. And it’s something I can’t bring myself to do. To each is own. I will be having my normal meals, at their normal times, but I will be limiting my dairy considerably as well as my sugar – God help us all.

Jokes aside, I am very excited to be embarking on a new challenge. I invite you all to join me on the quest to become summertime fine! I am offering free meal plans and workouts to anyone who wants to participate. Shoot me an email at the address below for more details. Let’s make the summer of 2016 the sexiest summer yet!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

 

Game Day Essentials

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One of the hardest things about being on a weight loss journey is learning to make healthy choices with food. Whether it’s a simple dinner at a restaurant or a celebration it can be really hard to make smart choices with so many temptations in front of you. It can be especially hard while watching sporting events. I was reminded of just this with the Superbowl this weekend. I read somewhere that the average person consumes 5,000 calories during the big game. 5,000. That’s insane! We are all working way too hard on our fitness and/or health goals for that nonsense. I have come up with several healthy alternatives to typical Superbowl snacks. Try them out and let me know what you think!

Buffalo Chicken:  You can’t really have a Superbowl party or watch any sports without buffalo chicken. The normal version is deep fried chicken wings/tenders. Well…not mine. I have two different ways to give the same feel…with a fraction of the calories.

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For the wings, I marinate the wings in the sauce early in the day. Then about 1-2 hours before kickoff I get them going in an oven on 375. I take care to flip often so they are evenly cooked. Then about 30 minutes before I take them out I turn the oven up to 450 and let them crisp up. The wings pictured are BBQ and Buffalo flavored. I also make boneless version of this. I marinate the chicken in buffalo sauce then using a regular grill pan, I cook the chicken breast on the stove. Once it’s cooked, I pour a little more sauce on top before serving. The key is also to making your own buffalo sauce. Hot sauce contains a lot of sodium so the key is to marinate the chicken and let the excess drip off. I also don’t put a lot of butter in my sauce. This weekend, I used a butter alternative but if that is not available to you, use one pat of the real deal and that’s it. Butter is only used to make the sauce coat the chicken better anyway. Add pepper, parsley, and other seasonings to your taste thereafter.

Mac N Cheese: I LOVE mac n cheese but let’s be honest – it’s not the best for the waistline. Now, all pasta will contain the carbs but I have found a way to make the cheese sauce a lot less fattening.

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I use whole wheat pasta to start then in a separate pot I combine fat free american cheese and a 1/4 cup of unsweetened cashew milk. Yes, cashew milk. I have become a HUGE fan of that stuff…it is super creamy and I swear it makes everything taste better. I also mixed in a sprinkle of shredded cheese to thicken it up a bit, rather than using flour, and I added a little black pepper and parsley. The result was incredible!

Dips: This may be one of the biggest killers at a party. You just mindlessly dip the assortment of snacks as you watch the game…ignoring the crazy amount of calories consumed. You can make your own dip by subbing out the sour cream for Greek yogurt…or you can avoid it altogether, as I did. I made hummus and guacamole. Both contain the essential good fat and taste great.

Next time you host a party or attend a sporting event, do your best to make healthy choices. While it’s okay to indulge from time to time, it’s important to not go so far overboard that you ruin all of your hard work. There are always better alternatives available so it’s up to you to be strong and actually take them. Remember your goals and keep your eye on the prize – it will make the decision to be healthy that much easier.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com