Category Archives: Health

How I Meal Plan

I always talk about how important it is to plan ahead when you are on a weight loss journey.   There are too many temptations out in the world, and a girl has to be properly equipped if she plans on living a long, happy, healthy life.  I don’t only plan ahead to stick to a healthier lifestyle, I also plan ahead in order to budget my grocery money.  As a full time college student on a hostess wage, I don’t have much to work with.  I have to make the most out of what I have and what I buy.  One of the tricks I’ve learned comes from all the frugal mommies out there and that trick is, meal planning.

I don’t go crazy and do the whole couponing thing. Frankly,  I don’t have the time for it, but I do make sure I look at all the weekly circulars and compare prices on my staple items (chicken, frozen veggies, canned beans/tuna, apples, eggs).  I make sure to look in my cupboards to see what I have on hand and then I hit the beautiful world of Pinterest, all recipes.com and my ToneItUp binder to come up with recipe ideas with those items.  This helps save me money because each month I am only really buying my staple items with a few ingredients here and there to help complete my recipe ideas for that week/month.

I’ve been meal planning for a few months and I love what it has done for my budget and life, so of course I am going to share with you all a few tips you can use if you plan on starting to meal plan.

1. Decide what your grocery budget is and stick with it.  Like I said, the decision I made to begin meal planning wasn’t only about eating healthy, I also wanted to stretch my $100/month grocery budget.  If you ever plan on getting out of debt or moving away from living pay check to pay check you need to set a budget for every aspect of your life and food should be #1 on that list.  The damage at the grocery store can add up really fast.

2. Check your cupboards, freezer and fridge and make a list of what you already have and still need before you head out to the grocery store.  I don’t know how many times I have bought frozen veggies and rice because I thought I was out only to find that I have 5 bags just sitting at home.  When you don’t know what you have, you end up spending unnecessary money.

3. Visit Pinterest, recipe websites or look in any cookbooks you have for recipe ideas.  A lot of times we think we need to go grocery shopping because we don’t know what to make for dinner. The truth is you can make a really healthy, tasty meal with only 3 items.  You just have to get a little creative.  Listen, if you are not creative, there are a lot of other people in the world who are,  and chances are, they blog about it.

4. Get a hold of your weekly grocery circulars and shop around for the best deal.  Keep in mind that grocery stores are always in competition with each other.  One week Trader Joes might have a deal on apples and the next week Walmart might. Its important that you know who has the better deal when its time for you to go grocery shopping.  Yes, it might mean you will have to visit a few stores in one day but especially if you buy in bulk, you will save so much money and get more product for less.

5. Plan your meals. This is really where the losing weight aspect of meal planning comes into play.  At the beginning of every week, Sunday or Monday,  sit down with a calendar or planner.  Based on the recipes you found and the food you bought or have, start planning out your lunch and dinners for that week.  Not only will this save you so much time during the week but it also prevents you from being tempted to indulge in pizza 3 nights out of the week.  You don’t have to specifically decide what you will have each night, even just having a list of possible meals you can make at home will save you time, money and calories.

How many of you already meal plan? 

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Fitness On Campus: Dorm Room Workout-Time Challenge

Welcome to episode 3 of the Fitness On Campus Series.  Today’s video is a short workout I put together that you can complete in your dorm room, bedroom, living room or any place you can fit your body’s length.  You do not need any equipment for this workout it is all body weight exercises.

This workout routine is a time challenge so the goal is to complete all the 3 rounds as quickly as possible.  If you wanted to make the workout more challenging, you can definitely use weights or add more reps to each exercise.  The beauty of this routine is that you can adjust it to your own fitness level.  You can also keep working towards trying to beat your best time.

I hope you all enjoy it!

12 Weeks No Cheats: Month 1 Exercise Schedule

If you watch my daily vlogs you already know Elvis (my boyfriend) and I are starting another 12 weeks of no cheats.  We did this about 1 month ago, we focused 100% on our diet to help reach our fitness goals.

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That first round was very successful, we both dropped a lot of body fat and learned a lot about self-discipline.   Recently we started having treat meals once a week and sometimes it spreads into 2x/wk.  We noticed we don’t really like how we feel after those treat meals and to kick our butt back into gear we decided to do another round of 12 weeks.

Though the focus is on our diet, training is also very important. Thus, I mentioned in my vlog that I would share with you the exercise schedule I have designed for myself to coincide with my meal plan.  So here it is (See Below).

I have broken my training into a 6 day split with one rest day. If you don’t know what the exercises listed below are or what a superset is I recommend reading this post.

Monday (Legs)4 Sets of each small circuit

1. Superset:

-Sumo Squats: 25 Reps

-Jump Squats: 12 reps

2. Giant Set:

-Curtsey Lunges: 30 reps

– Weighted Hip Raises: 25 reps

-Glute Kick Backs: 20 reps

3. Superset:

-Dumbell Deadlifts: 20 reps

-Walking Lunges: 30 reps

Tuesdays (Chest + 20 min HIIT Cardio) 3 sets of each small circuit

1. Superset:

-Dumbell Chest Press: 15 reps

– Push ups: 15 reps

2. Giant set:

-Incline Dumbell Chest Press: 15 reps

-Moving Push ups: 10 reps

-Dumbell Chest Fly: 15 reps

Wednesday (Back)4 sets of each small circuit

1. Superset:

-Inverted Row: 15 reps

-Dumbbell Row: 15 reps

2. Superset:

-Dumbell Rear Lateral Raise: 12 reps

-Standing Single Arm Row: 12 reps

3. Superset:

-Lat Pull Down: 15 reps

-Back Extension: 15 reps

Thursday (Biceps/Triceps + 20 min HIIT Cardio)4 rounds of the circuit

1. Circuit:

-Dumbell Bicep Curl: 15 reps

-Seated Tricep Extension: 20 reps

-Hammer Curl to Press: 15 reps

-Overhead Tricep Extension: 15 reps

-Cable Curl: Failure

-Tricep Kickback: Failure

Friday (Shoulders) 4 rounds of the circuit

1. Circuit:

-Shoulder Raise: 10 reps

-Front Raise: 10 reps

-Lateral Raise: 10 reps

-Dumbell Overhead Shrug: 10 reps

Saturday (Full Body + 20 mins HIIT Cardio)4 rounds of the circuit

1. Circuit:

-Dumbell  Squats w Should Press: 20 reps

-Burpees: 20 reps

-Push ups: 20 reps

-Curtsey Lunge w bicep curl: 20 reps

-Straight leg dead lift w DB Row: 20 reps

-Weighted Glute Bridge w Skull Crushers: 20 reps

How many of you plan on joining me in this 12 week challenge?

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

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It has taken me 1 whole year to get to this point in my fitness journey.  I started in April 2012 with a online nutritionist and using Tone It Up meals to keep things interesting.  By August 2012 I had lost 10lbs.  I was losing about 0.5-1lbs per week, which is what is recommended for healthy weight loss.

Today a whole year later, I weigh 134lbs.  I maintained the weight I had lost and my body fat percentage has continued to decrease. (I started at 29% and I am now at 22%.  My goal is to reach 18% by the end of June.)

The funny thing about weight loss is, the number on the scale can play so many tricks on your mind.  When you don’t see the number decreasing its so easy to get discouraged.  There were so many times where I just wanted to say “F*** It”, this isn’t working so I might as well just have that brownie I’ve been craving for the last 5 weeks. But I didn’t, and I haven’t given up.

I hit a plateau in my scale weight a while ago.  Until last week I wasn’t losing weight but I was “getting smaller”.  I routinely take progress pictures like the one you see above and I see the changes my body is making even if the scale isn’t budging.

If I ever want to reach my goal, I can’t let a stupid number dictate my motivation. The only thing I can do at this point is make sure my diet is clean, that I get up and do cardio and bust my butt weight training 3x/wk.

I have to be consistent, but and most importantly I have to be patient.

Who am I racing against? This journey is for me, so  what if it takes me another year to get in the best shape of my life?  So what if it takes me another year to step on stage for my 1st bikini show? I am learning to take it all in, and making eating clean and exercise apart of my life.  I am keeping it slow and steady.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristole

Calorie Counting Made Easy

A few months ago I wrote a whole Fitness Series on calculating calories and macronutrients.  Although those blog posts were really helpful to some, I believe that for a beginner, it provided way too much information and could be a bit overwhelming.

Since I want to make sure this blog is helpful to everyone, in every stage of their weight loss journey, I created a Youtube video demonstrating a really easy way to calculate calories and macronutrients.  Check out the video below and let me know if you found it helpful.  This is how I came up with my current diet plan.

If you have an easier way to calculate daily caloric intake, please share it in the comments. We could all benefit from it.

 

Looking Good Should Not Be Your Only Motivation to Lose Weight

Weight-Loss-MotivationWith less than 4 weeks left in my 1st semester of nursing school I started to notice a trend.  The trend was the importance of nutrition and exercise in disease process. Two of the longest lectures this semester were on activity and nutrition and the importance to teach our patients to properly incorporate them both into their lives.

As a society we normally associate food and exercise with only one thing, being fat or being skinny.  What we really should be associating them to is healthy and unhealthy.  When it comes down to it is all about physiology.  Our bodies only need a certain amount of calories and nutrients to function.  Anything else will either get converted to fat or is excreted out of our bodies to maintain homeostasis (balance).  Obesity’s relation to disease is our focus today.

Certain macronutrients, I am speaking of carbohydrates and protein, when consumed in excess are converted to triglycerides (fat) in our bodies.  Studies have shown that excess fat in our bodies increases our risk for obesity related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers.

With obesity our bodies are no longer in balance. Our heart has to pump out a greater volume of blood when our body surface area increases which can lead to high blood pressure and eventually heart disease. Excess hormones secreted by our bodies due to an increase in fat can aid in cancer development.  Obesity can also affect our bodies ability to produce insulin. Ironically enough, it also prevents our ability to move in order to burn off excess calories because of the amount of strain excess weight places on our joints. The National Institute of Health has written several articles that correlate obesity with a decline in life expectancy.

If you ask me, living a longer, disease free life is a greater motivator to lose weight than fitting into skinny jeans is.

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Disclaimer: I am not a a doctor and all the information provided in this post is based on my personal research. Please consult with a qualified professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise program.

Getting Slim With Out a Gym

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I have been talking for months with my boyfriend about possibly canceling my gym membership. I wanted to cancel it because at this point in my life I can no longer afford it.  I was also sick of driving to the gym and working around their schedule.  If I am honest, the thought of doing this terrified me. I was worried that I wouldn’t achieve the results I wanted if I did not have access to heavier weights and cardio machines.

But Last week something hit me. I woke up  with this uncontrollable urge to cancel it. So I did.  I don’t know what about it made me feel so free.  I think it was the thought that I could work out at any time that was convenient for me. I felt in control of the changes to my body.

What this means for me is that I have to start getting creative with my workouts.  I already own resistance bands, a dip station, and 5-10lb weights.  I actually started my new at home workout routine this week.

My weights and resistance bands will serve as strength training equipment. My resistance bands actually can provide up to 75 lbs of resistance.  I will also use a lot of body weight exercises (pushups, squats, plyometrics).

As far as cardio goes, I will create 20 min HIIT workouts using my Gymboss timer, and since the weather is getting nice out, I will also use running and stairs for steady state cardio.

I am happy I finally went through with this decision because one of the main reasons I wanted to start this blog was to teach people that getting in shape and eating healthy, can be and is affordable.

Your body is your gym, and with no open/close schedule in your home, you can’t use the excuse that you don’t have the time.

I now want to hear from all of you. How many of you actually have a gym membership and how many of you chose to work out at home?

The only Supplements You Need

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I try to incorporate a variety of foods into my diet, but sometimes its just not feasible. So what I do to make sure I am giving my body all the necessary nutrients it needs to sustain my training schedule is, I take supplements.

I do not take very many supplements as I do prefer to eat most of my vitamins straight from its source, whole real food.  Plus, supplements can get really expensive and as a college student it is not feasible for me to spend $150.00 each month.

So, what I have done is narrowed it down to the only 3 supplements I believe you need.

1. Multi Vitamin: Because we cook are food and sometimes don’t eat as many fruits and vegetables as we should, we  lack essential vitamins found in these whole foods. This is why we need a multivitamin.  The brand does not really matter, just make sure it contains  B12’s, folic acid, Amino Acids, Vitamin C/D and calcium.

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: This is your essential fat which is normally found in nuts and fish. Omega 3’s come in the form of flax seed and fish oil pills. I used to take the fish oil pill, but I found a liquid version made by Barlean’s that comes in a variety of flavors from strawberry banana smoothie to my personal favorite, pina colada.  Barlean’s  also makes this with flax seeds.

3. Protein Powder:  Protein is the building blocks of all cells. If you are working out and tearing down your muscles you need protein to help rebuild the muscle. It is also very convenient to carry around making it easier to get in a quick protein packed meal.

I use protein shakes as a breakfast meal but most often as my post work out meal. Protein powders come in many different forms from whey, to casein, and even plant based. The only difference is the source and the rate at which they are absorbed.

When it comes to choosing a protein powder, try to make sure it has less than 3g of fat, 3-25g of carbohydrates and that it contains at least 15-25g of protein per scoop.

Nursing School, Fitness, Job: How am I Making it Work?

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I recently started nursing school, and my fitness goals went out the window the first 2 weeks of classes.  I went from eating completely clean to straight processed junk and I was not exercising at all.   I did this because it was convenient. I thought that by quickly grabbing something on the way home or missing my gym session, would save me time to get X,Y,Z finished.

I completely lost focus of my fitness goals and the reason I started this blog.   I quickly had to re-evaluate my previous plan and adjust it to my new lifestyle.  I needed to let go of the excuses I was making for myself and FIND the time to eat right and exercise.

I work 30+ hrs a week, and I am in class 4 days out of the week.  Two of those days consist of working in a hospital from 7-3, but I manage to eat clean 95% of the time and work out 4-5x per week.  But in order to this, I had to change my mindset and get back to basics. That meant prepping my meals and fitting in exercise in any pocket of time I could.

If you find you are in this same situation, this is was I suggest:

Focus on your nutrition.  I have said it before and I will say it again, losing weight, being lean and getting ripped is 90% diet and 10% exercise.  If you can’t find the time to exercise pay special attention to your diet. If you consistently eat clean, and in the right macronutrients, you will not gain weight.  If you’re not sure how to calculate your macros, click here.

Prep your meals.  Don’t give yourself the ammunition to shoot yourself in the foot. Always have clean, whole foods available. I take 1-2 hrs each week to prep 1-2weeks worth of food.  It won’t go bad if you freeze it.  I personally suck it up and eat nearly the same thing everyday. I know what my goals are, so to me its worth it.  Plus, I love the food I make at at the moment its what I can afford. Once you start eating clean all that process junk just doesn’t compare.  Don’t know how to meal prep, I made a video showing my method here.

Take 1hr to write down all of your commitments (work, school, study time) and somewhere in between all of that, find a solid 12-60 minute pocket of time you can dedicate 3-5x/week for working out.  I work at a restaurant and some nights I am trucking my behind to the gym at 10pm, on clinical days I am in the gym as early as 5am. MAKE NO EXCUSES.  Your workout doesn’t need to be long, just intense.  There are several YouTube Channels like, bodyrock.tv and Zuzkalight that have 12-20 minute HIIT full body workouts.  The plus side of these channels is that you can do the workouts at home at any time, with minimal to no equipment.  There are so many resources out there, take the time to look for them and use them to your advantage.  I am sure you have 12 minutes you can spare in your day.

Lastly, if you are really serious about taking control of your weight, stop making excuses, get out of your own way and just get SH*T DONE.  I promise you there is a way to get what you want, you just have to be willing to put in the work.  If it means getting up at 4am to hit the gym, do it.  If you have to prep your meals for a full month, do it. Wallowing and wishing you had more hours in the day isn’t going to get you the body you want, Period!

I want to hear from all of you. Have any of you had to make some sacrifices in order to meet any of your fitness goals?

Guest Post: Kasey from Powercakes.net

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Happy Monday Everyone! I hope you all prepped your meals last night and are ready to start a new week of workouts and clean eating. A new Work Out World opened up 3 min away from my house today.  This is going to make it that much easier to not make any excuses. 2013 goals, here we come!

To help keep you all motivated this week, I requested the help of Kasey from Powercakes.net.  She is known in the fitness world for her powerbowls/powercakes. I can not say enough good things about Kasey, I found her blog a few months back and she has given me the kick in the butt that I need to reach all my fitness goals this year.  Today, she is sharing 3 tips for  anyone thinking of starting their weight loss journey. I hope that she can be as much of an inspiration to all of you as she has been to me.

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Hi all! My name is Kasey Arena and I blog over at powercakes.net! I am a 23 year old certified personal trainer, entrepreneur, blogger, & owner of my own company, POWERCAKES LLC. I specialize in fitness, health, cooking, and baking clean food as well as being the creator and voice behind the Powercakes.net blog and website.

I graduated in May with with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education and am currently pursuing my dreams of launching my very own product. My company product will launch in early 2013!!

I have a passion for teaching the importance of proper nutrition combined with fitness. My goal is to travel around the US to Universities and Schools to present on this topic as well as sharing my POWERCAKES LLC product with others.

I am a proud  Fitfluential, Eat Clean Diet  & BN Shape Ambassador!

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I’ve been an athlete my whole life but really got into understanding the importance of a fitness lifestyle in college. My school held a bodybuilding & figure competition every year and I decided to train to compete in 2010. My background includes awards in a few Figure/Bikini Competitions: 2nd place in Tall Class Figure competition at my University, 1st Place in Tall Division at a local University Figure competition, & 5th place in a Pittsburgh Natural Tall Class Competition. In addition, I made a competitive appearance at Fitness America’s MISS Bikini NY 2011 and I recently took 1st place in Miss Bikini Competition Tall Division & Placed 2nd overall last spring at my University’s show.

I guess you could say that I’ve been able to accomplish some titles, but the most important thing to me was that I accomplished a GOAL. The first year that I competed, I listened to everyone around me telling me how to “diet” and lose weight. I did the first show very unhealthy. I hated the way that I felt, so I decided if I was going to compete again, it would be a healthy way. I realized this was more of a lifestyle change I wanted and not so much a “10 week – lose 10% body fat” diet that most people go on.

Along with fueling my fitness, my interest and knowledge in clean dietary and food habits come from my own experiences through dealing with food allergies. I enjoy my favorite foods by preparing them in a “clean” manner that can be merged with my fitness and everyday lifestyle. I practice creativity in the kitchen as a way of overcoming food allergies.

PowerBowl

To learn more about my story, you can go here!

With the new year rolling around, I know a lot of people are looking to kick start their training programs or just take steps in a healthier direction! Some tips I have are:

1)   BE TRUE TO YOU

It’s my motto every single day! So many people want to be like someone else. I think looking at someone for motivation is a great idea, while remembering to be true to themselves and strive to be a healthier version of YOU and not someone you aren’t.

2)   Prep is KEY-

Prepare food in advance and package in Tupperware for easy go to meals and snacks! This way, you’re not standing in front of the fridge wondering what to eat. My favorite way to do this is to roast veggies on a Sunday and have them for a few days!

i.     Chop veggies

ii.     Spray with oil of choice

iii.     Roast at 350 for about 30 minutes

3)   Start with small steps-

A lot of people dive into a new fitness routine and eating plan without preparing. Sometimes if they aren’t educated on what they are doing, they may have trouble or fail at their goal initially. If you take things in small steps – they will turn into HUGE gains! Once you start to create healthy habits, you won’t even have to think about it anymore!

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Remember, whether you are a busy college student, a working mother, or a full-time worker, being TRUE TO YOURSELF is so important. I’ve found that having healthy insides is so much more important than looking a certain way in the mirror. After 10 years of digestion issues I decided to start eating plant based and it truly changed my life. You can learn more about that process here.

Fitness & health is a beautiful thing and should be enjoyed! So find what you love to do and GO AFTER IT! The only personal holding you back sometimes is you! You can do anything you set your mind to. At 23 years old I never thought I’d be blogging, teaching, starting my own business, developing my own product, & being able to inspire and motive others every single day. The hardest part of going for your dreams is taking that initial leap. Once you leap, you realize how it wasn’t that scary to begin with. Here’s to 2013 and good luck with all of your goals for this year and years to come!

Where you can find out more about Kasey:

Blog: http://powercakes.net
Instagram: http://instagram.com/powercakes
Facebook: http://facebook.com/powercakes
Twitter: http://twitter.com/powercakes
You Tube Channel: http://youtube.com/user/KEA9578
Pinterest Page: http://pinterest.com/powercakes

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