Monthly Archives: September 2012

Tone It Up Diet Plan: A Review

Overview: The Toneitup diet plan was developed by Katrina Hodgson and Karena Dawn, two certified nutrition coaches.  The plan came to be when both girls needed to reevaluate their own personal nutrition and fitness goals.  They designed the plan for each other and Katrina alone, toned up 23lbs by following the plan.  The methodology behind the nutrition plan is clean eating and proper pH balance.  It is about eating the right foods, in the right portions at the optimal times for your body to metabolize them.

Cost: The plan will run you $150.00 for a lifetime membership.

What the plan includes: The Toneitup diet plan is a lifetime membership, the plan is updated about 2 times a year and members will receive the newest version for FREE. When new members purchase the plan they will receive the newest version along with all past versions such as (Fall update, Beach Babe).

The plan is 136 pages and includes  recipes, a detailed meal plan, a 7 day slim down ( a strict plan to help you prepare for special events, like photo shoots or weddings), a guide to super foods, a grocery list, printable workout routines,  along with access to a member only online community where you can log your workouts, meals and interact with other members on the plan.

In addition to the above, members will also receive exclusive emails from Karena and Katrina that include motivational tips, workouts and coupons for their protein powder-Perfect Fit and online store.

The diet plan is available in Regular, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, Pescatarian, Gluten Free Vegetarian versions.

My Opinion: I have used the Toneitup diet plan and workout routines as a basis for all my nutritional/training goals for the past 2 years.  It is a complete lifestyle change and I would recommend it for individuals who are just starting to change their eating habits and incorporate exercise, as well as those with more experience.  The plan allows for so much variation and manipulation.  There are individuals out there who need a more simplified way to look at food and there are others who prefer a more personalized diet plan.  The beauty of this plan is that it can work for both.   Those looking for more detail, can still calculate the calorie amount, grams of carbohydrates, protein and fats needed for their body from each of the recipes.  You will never feel like your dieting because again, the plan is all about finding balance and making everyday food healthier.  The plan truly teaches you how to make eating healthy and getting daily exercise apart of your every day life.  I love all the recipes and the message behind Toneitup in general.

More places to learn about Toneitup:

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I bought the Toneitup Diet Plan with my own money.  All opinions are my own.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fitness Series: Cardio

We have reached the last blog post in the Fitness Series. For those who are just stumbling upon my blog,  in the past few blog posts I have covered the basics of developing a nutrition and workout plan to assist you in meeting your personal fitness goals.

This last blog post will discuss the importance of including cardio into your routine.  If you are anything like me, you probably despise cardio.  Unfortunately, cardio is one of life’s necessary evils.  Not only does it improve your heart health, it is an  important component of fat loss, next to your nutrition of course.

In order for cardio to be effective for fat loss your heart rate needs to reach and stay at 65%-85% of your Max Heart Rate. You can use the heart rate sensors that are usually built in to the cardio equipment at a gym or you can choose to buy your own heart rate monitor to gage this. I bought mine off of amazon for about $70.  The difference between the two is that a personal is  more accurate.

Anywho, to calculate your Max Heart Rate you can use the following formula:  

Max Heart Rate:

208 – (0.7 x age in years)

Once you have determined your max heart rate you want to take that number and multiply it by any number between .65 and .85,  this will give you your target heart rate for fat loss.

The most common time frame for cardio is anywhere from 30-45 minutes.  Scientifically the reason for this is that,  the first 20 minutes your body is using carbohydrates for fuel, after the 20 minute mark, it begins to use primarily fat.

It is recommended that at a minimum,  you perform cardio 3x a week.   Personally I aim for 5, but if you are a beginner please do begin by adding in a couple of sessions each week.

The method of cardio I described above is not the only way to achieve fat loss.  Studies have shown that using high intensisity interval training (HIIT) is also very effective at burning fat.  To perform HIIT during your cardio session is simple, just use your target heart rate as your interval levels.

For example, for 2 minutes you can perform what every type of cardio you choose (stepmill, arc trainer, elliptical, treadmill, jump roping) at 65% your max heart rate and for 2 minutes you can perform the cardio at 85%.  You would then repeat this 5x for a total of 20 minutes.   The plus side of HIIT is 20 minutes alone will suffice.

Another way is to use seconds.  As an example, when I use the treadmill, I will sprint for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds and repeat until I have reached a total of 30 minutes.  If you are on the elliptical you could change the resistance every few mintues.  The key really is to give it your all for an allotted period of time and then return to a more moderate pace.

Again, is an excellent resource for HIIT training routines.   I would also highly recommend it as a supplement to all the information I provided in this series.

I hope you learned a lot and that this served as a great starting point. I wish you all the best in your fitness journey.  Please feel free to leave me comments on what you took away from this series and how you plan on incorporating my tips.  I am also open to suggestions for future blog posts.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist. Please check with your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise plan.  The information provided above is what I have learned via personal research.


Fitness Series: Reps, Sets, Circuit Training

With your training plan in place, we will discuss how you can further enhance your workout session by playing with the number of sets, repetition and style of training you use in the gym.

The concenses is, if you want to burn fat, you need to build muscle.  Just to provide you with some physiological  background,  our muscles are made up of two different kinds of muscle fibers.  There are the fast twitch fibers and the slow twitch fibers. The fast twitch fibers are bigger and responsible for most of our muscle growth and fullness.  Slow twitch fibers are responsible for endurance activities.  If you want to build muscle you need to target the right kind of fibers.

We already determined that fast twitch fibers are responsible for muscle growth. So, how do we develop those fast twitch fibers to build muscle?  The answer is simple, lift heavy. By heavy, I mean 85% of what you are capable of lifting for 1 rep.

Now I bet you are wondering, well how many reps should I lift it for? And how do I know if it is the right weight? Studies have shown that the ideal rep range for building muscle is 8 to 12 repetitions. You should be struggling with last 2 reps.  If you can lift the weight for 12 reps comfortably and you feel like you could have done more reps, the weight is too light. If you are not able to lift for at least 5 reps, the weight is too heavy.

What if you are not looking to build muscle, but rather lose fat?  Again, the answer is the same, lift heavy.  To be honest with you, you wont build muscle if your nutrition plan is not design for you to build muscle.  However, your rep range for fat loss should increase slightly.  You are looking at a rep range between 12-15 reps. This rep range will target more of your slow twitch fibers, which again are designed for endurance.

Moving on to the amount of sets you should perform for each exercise, a good rule of thumb is to perform as many sets as you need to complete a total of 25 repetitions for any given exercise. You should be resting anywhere from 30 seconds- 2 minutes between sets.  The lower the rep range, (higher weight) the longer you should be resting.

Alright, now that the basics are covered, lets move on to a workout style that has become popular in today’s workout programs, circuits. Circuits are amazing, they allow you to get your cardio and strength training in at the same time, saving you time at the gym.  However, saving time is not the only thing they are good for. Over time circuit training will increase your stamina and lean body mass, ultimately making you stronger and leaner.

All a circuit is, is performing a series of exercises in succession with out resting in between each exercise until you have performed them all once.  You then repeat the exercises in a row 3-4 more times.  There is no limit to the amount of exercises you can do.

So to recap this entire entry, whether you want to gain muscle or lose weight, you should lift heavy.  Play around with the number of repetitions and sets, incorporate circuit training for some extra endurance training, and make sure to switch up your routine every4-6 weeks.

For my next and final blog of this series I will discuss, the necessary evil we call cardio.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist. Please check with your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise plan.  The information provided below is what I have learned via personal research. 

Fitness Series: Developing a Training Schedule

Now that you have all the tools needed to support your nutrition. It is time to discuss exercise.   In this post I will be covering the first part in creating your personal training plan to compliment your new found nutrition plan.

FYI: When I refer to training in this post, I mean training with weights. I am not referring to cardio. I will do a separate blog post on cardio.

Before I delve into this, I am going to be honest and tell you that what you eat is going to get you 80-90% of your results.  You can tell yourself anything you would like to make yourself feel better,  but you can never out train a bad diet.  If you take anything away from this series let it be that, focus on your nutrition,  the exercises will only enhance the changes you gain by eating clean.

Now, before you can decide on a training plan you need to take an honest look at your schedule and come up with a realistic amount of time and days you can dedicate to working out.  If you are a complete beginner I would suggest at a minimum, that you try to dedicate 3 days to training. If you are more advance, no more than 6 days of training because the body needs  time to rest as well.

Once you have worked out how much time you have available to working out, you can begin to look at the following ways to train.

1. Full Body Workouts– Exercise routine that will hit all of the muscle groups on the same day
2. Training splits– pairing muscle group or breaking muscle groups into individual training days

In the paragraphs to follow I am going to give an example of what each looks like.

No matter which way you chose to train, you will want to pick 1-3 exercises for each muscle group  (Legs-Shoulders-Arms (bicep/triceps)-Back-Abs).  I recommend using a website like as a resource for picking exercises for the muscle groups. is a great website for all levels of training ( I use it on a daily basis to switch up my routines and learn new recipes and methods of training).

If you decided you will train with full body routines,your session at the gym might look something like this:

1. Barbell Squats- Legs
2. Dumbbell Shoulder press-Shoulders
3. Dumbbell Bicep Curls- Biceps
4. Tricep Dumbbell Kick Backs-Triceps
5. Push ups-Chest
6. Assisted pull ups-Back
7. Bicycle crunches-abs

Full Body Training is best for: 


-Individuals who are short on time

If you decide to train with Muscle group splits there are so many ways you can break this up.  You can pair push/pull muscle groups, you can do 6 day split (one muscle group per day), a 2 day split (one day for lower body, the other for upper body).  I will provide an example of what a  push/pull routine might look like as well as a 6 day split:

6 day split example:             

Thursday: Triceps
Friday: Shoulders
Saturday: Back
Sunday: Rest Day


Monday- Legs
Thursday- Legs

Push/Pull muscle group example:

Monday: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
Wednesday: Back/Biceps
Friday: Legs

Training Splits are best for:

-Individuals looking to build muscle mass
-Intermediate-Advance trainers
-Individuals short on time (Precisely the Push/Pull method)

Let me know in the comments below which method of training you will be using.   The next part of this series will cover repetitions, sets  and circuits to maximize your training routine.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist. Please check with your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise plan.  The information provided above is what I have learned via personal research.


Tagged , , , , ,

Fitness Series: Sample Grocery List

What good is it to know how many calories you should eat and the correct macronutrient ratio if you don’t know what types of food you should consume to meet these needs?  Don’t fret, below I have provided you with a sample grocery list to help you reach your fitness goals. The grocery list is broken up into Proteins, Carbohydrates and Healthy Fats. For some extra fiber and non-starchy carbohydrates, I am also including a veggie section.  And since I know most of you will think, what about flavor? I also included a spices/condiment section.

Please keep in mind that this is just an example of the types of food you can consume.  You don’t have to get everything listed here or anything listed here. Pick and choose from what you like and can afford.  If it fits into your macronutrients, daily calorie amount and its clean, (i.e non-processed) get it.


-Lean ground beef (93/7, 95/5, 96/4)

-Turkey breast

-Ground turkey breast

-Ground chicken breast

-Chicken breast


-Whey Protein Powder/Egg Protein Powder

-Tilapia or any white fish


-Tuna (whole or canned)

-Greek yogurt

-Cottage Cheese


-Brown Rice

-Kidney beans


-Sweet Potatoes

-Shredded wheat cereal


-Whole wheat bread

-Whole wheat pasta




Healthy Fats:

-Olive Oil

-All Natural Peanut Butter


-Macadamia nuts

-Almond Butter

-Plain Cashews





-Romaine Lettuce


-Brussel sprouts

-Green peppers/Red peppers



-All Mrs. Dash

-Cayenne Pepper






-Reduced Sugar Ketchup



Foods to Avoid:

-all soda-

-all alcohol

-all juices


-white sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar

-maple syrup, agave syrup

-turkey/ham/pastrami deli meat (‘sandwich meat’)

-non fat frozen yogurt


Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist. Please check with your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise plan.  The information provided above is what I have learned via personal research.


Tagged , , ,

Fitness Series: Calculating macro-nutrients

Now that you know how many calories you need to consume depending on your fitness goals, you will need to learn how much of each macro-nutrient will make up this daily amount.

Macro-nutrients consist of your Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.  If you are trying to build muscle mass you want to keep your carbohydrates pretty high, if you are trying to lean out your carbohydrates should be moderate to low.  I personally like to base this off of percentages.  The most common percentage breakdown I have found for fat loss is Protein=40%, Carbohydrates= 30% Fats= 30%  However, you will need to experiment with this breakdown depending on your fitness goals. I use a 45%-35%-20% ratio.

Once you decided on the percentages you want to start with, you can use them to calculate the amount of calories you need to consume for each of your macros, using the following formula:

Daily calories from macro-nutrient =Total # of daily Calories X (percentage of macro in decimal form)

I will use the numbers we calculated in my previous blog post. If our said female wanted to calculate the number of calories from fats that she should consume in a day, her calculation would look like this:

Daily calories from macro-nutrient= Total # of daily Calories X (percentage of macro in decimal form)

Daily calories from fat = 1, 609 calories  X .20 = 322 calories from fat/ day

Personally, I find tracking macro-nutrients in grams easier than tracking it via calories. So what we will do now is covert calories of macro-nutrients to grams of macro-nutients.  The formula to use is as follows:

Macro-nutrient Calories/x grams = Macro-nutrient conversion

Macronutrient conversion:

1g protein= 4 calories
1 g carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 g fat= 9  calories

So, for our female example the calculation would look like this:

322 calories of fat/ x grams = 9 calories/ 1g

Using cross multiplication we get:

322 = 9x

Solving for x we get:

322/9 = 36 grams of fat/ day

Most of us won’t consume 36 grams of fat in one sitting.  In fact, it is best to spread your macro-nutrients throughout the day to keep your metabolism going and blood sugar levels even.  So we need to calculate how many grams of fat we need per meal.

Ideally you should be consuming 5-6 meals per day.  For this example I will use 6 meals/ day.

So, I will take 36 and divide it by 6, which equals 6g of fat/meal each day.

Repeat each of these equations for your carbohydrate and protein intake using the appropriate conversion factors, and you have created a solid nutrition plan for yourself.  You want to make sure you monitor your progress by either weighing yourself or taking body fat measurements every 1-2 weeks.  Depending on how you are progressing you can adjust these numbers.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist. Please check with your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise plan.  The information provided below is what I have learned via personal research.


Fitness Series: How to calculate calories

As promised, the first blog post in my fitness series will be calculating your daily caloric intake.  In order to  lose or gain weight you need to make sure you are eating the right amount of calories for your metabolic needs.  If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to be at a caloric deficit, if you want to gain weight you need to be at a caloric surplus.  Continue reading below for a detailed explanation on how to calculate your personal caloric needs.

The first thing you will need to do is calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)- this is the total number of calories your body uses in 24 hours.

To calculate your TDEE you will need to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)- this is the minimum calorific requirement needed to sustain life in a resting individual.

BMR can be calculated with two different equations. One provides a more accurate number than the  other,  but there is no great statistical difference.

The first formula is the Harris Benedict Formula-which uses your total body weight:

BMR MEN= 66 + (13.7 X wt in kg) + (5 X ht in cm) – (6.8 X age in yrs)

BMR Women= 655 + (9.6 X wt in kg) + (1.8 X ht in cm) – (4.7 X age in yrs)

2.54 cm= 1in

2.2lbs = 1 kg

To demonstrate an example I will use a 24 yr old female who weighs 136 lbs and whose height is 5ft 0in.

BMR Women= 655 + (9.6 X 61.82 kg) + (1.8 X 152.4 cm ) – (4.7 X 24 yrs)
BMR Women=655 + (593.47) + (274.32) – (112.8)
BMR Women=1,409.99 calories

The second formula is the Katch-McArdle formula-which uses your lean body mass:

BMR (Men and Women)= 370 + (21.6 X lean body mass in kg)

To demonstrate an example I will use a female whose lean body mass is  101 (45.9 in kg).

BMR = 370 + (21.6 X 45.9)

BMR = 1, 361

As you can see the difference between the two calculations is about 49 calories.  It is up to you which formula you prefer to use. I am going to use the number from the Katch-McArdle formula in this case.

Now that we have calculated our BMR, we can multiply it by an activity factor to obtain our TDEE.

Activity Factors:
Sedentary = BMR X 1.2 (little/no exercise, office job)
Lightly active = BMR X 1.375 (light exercise/ 1-3 days/wk)
Mod. active = BMR X 1.55 (moderate exercise/ 3-5 days/wk)
Very active = BMR X 1.725 (hard exercise/ 6-7 days/wk)
Extr. Active = BMR X 1.9 (hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2 X day training, marathons)

Our female is moderately active so her TDEE will be 1, 361 X 1.55  which = 2,109 calories/ day. 

So now we know, if our female wants to maintain her current weight she will need to consume 2,109 calories per day.

Lets say our female’s health goals are to lose weight, the recommended weight lose rate is 0.5lb – 2 lb per week In order to burn 1 lb of fat you need to burn 3, 500 calories.  For our female to meet this 1 lb/week goal, she would need to subtract 500 (20-30% reduction) calories from her TDEE.

Thus our female would need to consume 1, 609 calories per day if she wanted to lose 1 lb of fat per week.  It is recommended that you not exceed a deficit of 700 calories per day, which would amount to  2 lbs of fat loss per week.

On the other hand, if our female’s fitness goals were to gain weight (muscle mass),  she would need to add an extra 500 calories to her diet. Thus her daily caloric intake would be 2, 609 calories/ day.

Please keep in mind that you should recalculate your caloric intake after every 5 lbs lost.

Now it is not enough to just make sure you are eating the right amount of calories.  These calories need to come from the right types of foods (i.e. clean whole foods).  In the next part of my fitness series, I will demonstrate how to calculate proper macro nutrient amounts for gaining/losing weight.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist. Please check with your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise plan.  The information provided above is what I have learned via personal research.