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

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Snack Smart

With January being the start of so many diets and fitness journeys, I thought it best to touch on a topic close to my heart – SNACKING 😍

I am a total sugar addict and definitely LOVE my snacks. However, I’ve learned how to enjoy my favorites…without destroying all of my hard work. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t allow myself sweets from time to time. However, I practice moderation. After a lifetime of yo-yo diets and other struggles, I have learned the hard way that deprivation is a recipe for failure. While I love sour candy more than anything…it’s not healthy and too much of it will negate all of my hard work in the gym. So, I have found alternatives that are easy on the waistline and satisfy my cravings. Here’s a list of some of my favorite salty & sweet healthy snacks:

  • Monkey Salad – I discovered this masterpiece while on the Whole30 diet last year. Its’s a mixture of coconut chips, cashews, and half of a banana. It’s the perfect mix of salty & sweet.
  • Frozen blueberries with Crystal Light lemonade – I found this gem on Instagram a while back and it’s
    changed my life. The original recipe calls for grapes but I tried it with blueberries and it most definitely takes care of my sour candy cravings 🙂
  • Frozen grapes – if you have a craving for something icy and sweet, this will definitely help you out. I’ve been doing it for years and I’ve never been disappointed.
  • Hummus – this is a go-to snack for me. I usually get some baby carrots or some no- salt pretzels and dip away! My favorite pre-packaged flavor is roasted red pepper however I also make my own (which is not flavored) and I love it just as much. Be sure to portion this out or else you will be consuming a crazy amount of fat and calories.
  • Apples – these tend to be high in sugar content and carbs but they are better than eating candy. I slice the apple and either sprinkle cinnamon or dip the slices in peanut butter. If I’m craving something sour, I grab a granny smith and chomp away!
  • Kale chips – these are perfect for a salty craving and they work great as a side dish or snack. Easy to make and super delicious.

Check out this amazing chart, which provides some other solutions to keeping your cravings satisfied…the healthy way. You can also find tons of healthy snacks and tips on their site.

imageI can go on forever about the various snacks that I enjoy but at the end of the day it’s important to just eat smart. Track your macros, watch what you eat, and you will be able allow yourself a treat from time to time. Don’t be afraid to eat or to snack – food is fuel! Your body needs that fuel to run properly…and let’s face it, sometimes we need a snack to keep us sane 😎

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Winter Blues

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The funny thing about being on a journey is that it never really ends. There honestly is no finish line to this…every day you just get stronger and continue to grow from your experiences.

I’ve been put to the test lately, as I’ve been suffering with some PCOS issues as well as a very bad flareup for my IBS. As if that wasn’t enough, I’m also battling with a freezing cold northeast winter. Now, I don’t know about you but I’m very susceptible to getting sick. So, in an attempt to not get myself deathly ill, my workout routine has been completely thrown off. All of this has given me a terrible case of the winter blues and I’ve spent most of this week feeling good and sorry for myself.

I don’t remember the last time that I had a hard workout. Sure, I’ve been keeping up with my strength training…but cardio has become like a foreign word to me. With my non-existent metabolism if I don’t workout, I will get fat. It’s a proven fact that regardless of my diet, without cardio I will gain weight. Being super paranoid about getting sick has led me to scale back my workouts…which means little to no cardio and big issues for my mental state.

Now, I know that cold weather is (sadly) part of life. I can’t spend the rest of winter being so bitter and miserable. I’ve worked way too hard and come to far for that. Besides, why be so miserable about something I can’t even control? That being said, I’ve come up with a preliminary winterized routine to keep myself in-check and keep me from going batty.

Beginning tomorrow, I will be doing hardcore cardio on weekends. This is because I can get to the gym during the day when it is typically (slightly) warmer. Since I work all day during the week, those days will be reserved for strength training. I will utilize DVDs and workout videos on days where it (God forbid) snows. If it happens to be warmer on any given weekday, I will take advantage and do a harder workout.

I’ve also decided to get my diet in check. I said I wanted to begin the IIFYM stuff but I need to get things working right again. My IBS has been horrible lately so I really want to get that under control and the best way I know how is to eat super clean and strict again. Trainer Bob (Harper) from Biggest Loser has been posting about a 30-day diet that he’s currently following. I looked into it and it seems like what I did last spring, just a little more strict. It’s the Whole30 diet and I will be starting that in a couple of weeks (beginning of February.)

With a bad stomach and a ruined routine, I’ve really been tested. This has all really done a number on me mentally. It’s really hard to see the “new you” when you are all swollen and aren’t working out. Hopefully with the new diet and a new workout plan, I can start feeling more like myself again.

It can be really hard to see the light at the end of tunnel when there’s so much darkness in front of you. This journey never ends and things happen in life that can’t be controlled but if there’s anything I’ve learned over the last two years it’s this: the bigger the obstacle, the sweeter the reward once it’s overcome. Always remember: nothing worth having comes easy.

Stay strong and stay in the fight!

-Gina
thefight2befit@gmail.com

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

Everything You Go Through, Grows You

Good grief, where has the year gone?!? The holidays are finally over….and so is the year. I’ve spent the last month like most…busy with shopping, get-togethers, family, etc. In this time, my routine was completely knocked off track. Sure, I worked out when I could…but my diet was another story. If only clean eating could include cookies….

I must’ve been a good girl this year because Santa treated me really well. My broken magic bullet was replaced….and I got a new laptop! I even got a new arm band to accompany the new phone that I finally got myself. So now that my life has been upgraded and replenished…there are no more excuses for me to make.

Merry Christmas to me :)

Merry Christmas to me!

Anyway, that’s my little update. On to other business.

I got to thinking about all I’ve accomplished over the last two years of this journey…but most especially this year. I got myself down to a size 2…which I’ve decided doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve become super focused on building muscle and the more muscle I build in my legs and booty, the less comfortable jeans become. Who needs jeans when you can rock leggings anyway?They are not only more comfortable but they make your butt look good too 😉

Not only did I make many physical changes, I made a lot of changes to benefit me mentally and by doing so, I’ve become the happiest that I’ve ever been. I’ve spent so many years miserable..and the last decade was particularly hard on me. I’ve gone back and forth with whether or not to share personal stories on this blog–but this is my story and my journey. While it’s fitness driven., a weight loss journey is much more mental than it ever is physical. Until you overcome your inner demons, you won’t truly conquer your physical ones. That being said….here it goes.

The last decade of my life was spent in a pretty bad place. I graduated college with a dream to becoming a NY Yankees broadcaster (we see how well that turned out…) In addition to floundering in the “real world”, I was in an abusive relationship (mostly verbal but there were some physical episodes.) I was also surrounded by a lot of drama and a lot of negative people. I would go to the bar and get myself black-out drunk. I thought I was just having fun but looking back on it, I was probably trying to mask everything going on in my life. For reasons I still don’t understand, I chose to keep myself in that relationship on and off for nine years. We would break up and I would stay contact with him…only to end up back together. We even moved in together….and that’s what ultimately ended things. That was late 2012. A few months later we moved out…and one week after that (in the most unlikely place), I met the man of my dreams. Funny how life works, huh.

True to my own stupidity (and lack of confidence), I remained in contact with him after we broke up. As time went on though, I started realizing there was no need for it. Let’s be honest–we aren’t friends and we sure as hell are never gonna date again. So what was the point? Seeing him or even hearing of him gives me this uneasy, anxious feeling. My whole body tenses up and it’s just a terrible feeling. Besides, I’m with the most amazing guy right now…I have no reason (and no desire) to ever look back. With all of that in mind, the other night I  finally ended everything once and for all. No more random texts, no more contact. That chapter of my life is finally closed for good. I swear to you all….I have NEVER slept as good as I did that night. It was like this humongous weight lifted off of me…and I never felt so free.

I decided to share this story with you all because it was one of the the biggest hurdles that I’ve had to climb in recent years. There was a lot of verbal abuse and manipulation over those years, which really did a number on my brain. I made a decision two years ago, in the midst of that break up, to get my life back. And so my journey began…and I have never looked back. As the saying goes: everything you go through, grows you. I was one of the lucky ones to get out and I took many lessons away from that experience. You don’t truly know who you are until you go through something horrible. I became much stronger and learned a lot about who I really was during that time…and I’ve learned much more since.

As this year comes to a close, I am in the best shape of my life….physically and mentally…and I have the most amazing boyfriend by my side. I have gotten rid of the negative people and influences in my life and I’m a better person as a result. The only thing missing is to make my career dreams a reality. Stay tuned for more on that and on how to stick to your resolutions later this week!

My year of progress

We all have our own personal journey and I thank you all for letting me share mine with you this past year. I hope that by sharing my stories, some of you have been inspired and maybe even a little bit motivated. I want you all to see that no matter what obstacle you face, it IS possible! I’ve had to work EXTREMELY hard for everything that I have…and this coming year may be the hardest yet. I will tell myself what I tell all of you—Nothing worth having comes easy!

I wish you all a very safe and happy new year!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Expressing Gratitude

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! This year has definitely flown by but on this day I want to take the time to express my appreciation for some of the people that have made this one of the best years of my life.

I am thankful to have a core group of some really great friends. I’ve had most of them in my life since high school and they have stuck by me through it all. Many of these friends now have families of their own and I am extremely grateful to be a part of their children’s lives. I am also lucky enough to have a loving family, who has seen me through some very hard times in my life and who supports me through everything, good and bad.

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Most importantly, on this day I am thankful for finding happiness. For the first time in my life I am truly content and I have an amazing boyfriend to thank for that. He has been an incredibly positive influence and shown me this other part of myself that I didn’t know existed. I never imagined that being with someone could feel the way it does or that you could really be this happy…but it’s possible. It took us a while to get to this point…but I don’t think I would changed anything because now he’s not just my boyfriend…he’s become my best friend. He’s someone who I can tell everything to, who’s there for me in both good times and bad, and is the most supportive, genuine person that I’ve ever known. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is real life and that I really have found everything that I could ever want…and more.

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I’ve been through a lot in my life but I can honestly say that I am thankful for it all. 2014 was one of the best years of my life. I am truly the happiest I have ever been and have found an inner strength within myself that I didn’t know existed. I am grateful everyday for the incredible life that I am living. While I may wish some stuff was different or that things in the past didn’t happen, I realize that I am a stronger person because of it all. I have learned that everything happens for a reason and that everything you go through, grows you.

On this day, be sure to take the time to express your gratitude for all that you have in your life. Cherish the time with your friends and family and enjoy all of the delicious food that today will bring. Try not to waste time agonizing over calories–just eat what you want (within reason.) If you do overeat today, don’t beat yourself up…just make up for it by hitting the gym tomorrow (or the stores like I will for some serious shopping!)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

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