Kelly Rennie via Bodybuilding.com
Busy moms can often feel as though we are drowning in a sea of responsibilities. But we don’t have to sacrifice our nutrition in the struggle to stay afloat.
Kids to drop off, tasks to complete, jobs to hold down—sometimes motherhood can feel like an uncontrollable current sweeping us downstream. Without a plan of action, it is easy to end up feeling out of control—reacting to, rather than creating, our environment.
The first step to pulling ourselves out of the current is to make ourselves aware of the habitual patterns holding us back. Once we know where we go wrong, we can create mindful action plans to achieve the results we want.
I’ve compiled a list of the three biggest nutritional mistakes almost all busy moms make at some point during the first few years of raising their children. If some—or all—of these mistakes strike home, now is your chance to steer yourself back on course.
Mistake 1: Survival Eating
As busy moms, we can be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to nutrition—grabbing whatever food is available, regardless of whether it aligns with our long-term fitness goals. This “survival” eating pattern can quickly derail our fitness, piling on extra weight without us even realizing what is happening until it’s too late.
To stop survival eating in its tracks, make sure you plan everything food-related in advance. Do one big weekly shopping trip and pick up everything you need so that you have no reason to grab unhealthy, on-the-go snacks on other days. Prepare easy-to-cook meals and snacks in advance.
The more you take control of and prepare your own meals, the easier it will be to fit them into your busy life. Habits form over months, not weeks—so stick with it. Learn to create a healthy nutritional environment in which you and your family can thrive.
Mistake 2: Negative Thinking
It is a widespread belief that healthy eating is a chore, and junk food is a guilty pleasure. We’ve associated “fun” and “simple” with fast foods and big desserts, overshadowing the “boring” and “difficult” nutritious foods that are actually good for us.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
It takes time, but with the proper mindset, you will learn to ignore preconceived notions of fun versus boring. In the process, you will discover just how awesome healthy eating can be.
If you struggle to see the fun in eating healthy, find some quick and healthy recipes and involve the kids. Even the pickiest of eaters can become broccoli-munching health-food fans. Preparing healthy meals as a family inspires healthy habits your children can maintain as they grow into adulthood.
Mistake 3: Reliance On Processed Foods
Without question, moms are busy! There’s a lot to juggle every day, and the siren call of convenient processed foods can steer even the most health-conscious moms off course. Easy to prepare and easy to eat, cookies, chocolates, sugary cereals, and snacks give us a quick hit of energy and help us deal with the situation at hand—at least temporarily.
The problem is these packaged, processed, modern-food marvels are chock-full of refined carbohydrates and sugars that only provide a short-term fix. Our energy crashes and, over time, the weight piles on as we consume more and more of these empty calories to deal with the shortfall. Many well-intentioned and productive people have fallen prey to the ease of processed foods. Thanks to their (often unconscious) habit of grabbing whatever food is convenient, they pack on a lot of fat and see their health suffer in other ways.
The solution? End your reliance on processed foods and to learn to enjoy healthier alternatives. This sounds harsh, but there are delicious, healthy recipes out there that are 100-percent good for you and provide you with energy to keep up with everything life throws at you. As your palate recovers from its processed-food obsession, you’ll find yourself enjoying healthy foods as much as junk food.
Make healthy habits a part of your busy, hectic, wonderful life as a mom. Once you focus on the quality of nutrients you put into your body, your energy and mindset pick up instantly. This will improve your sense of well-being, the shape of your body, and the shape of your life!
- 100g blended oats
- 2 egg whites
- 200ml almond milk
- 1 scoop Protein in Vanilla Milkshake flavor (or a flavor of your choice)
- Plain yogurt
- Sliced fresh fruit
1. Add blended oats and egg whites to 200ml of almond milk then whisk until smooth.
2. Stir in protein until smooth.
3. Fry your pancakes in a shallow pan until golden.
4. Place your cooked pancakes onto a plate and spread a layer of plain yogurt on top then fill with fresh fruit.
5. Roll up your pancake and drizzle honey over the top.
Top with more fruit and enjoy!
Calories 182kcal // Protein 12g // Carbs 25g // Fat 4g (per pancake)
SOURCE: WOMEN’S HEALTH & FITNESS MAGAZINE
Ingredients (Serves 18)
- 4 tbsp flour of choice (if using coconut flour, reduce quantity and increase milk to offset extra absorbency)
- 4 tbsp hazelnut meal
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp coconut milk (lite)
- 2 scoops (60 g) chocolate or mocha whey protein powder
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 70 g dark organic chocolate, melted
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 100 g dark chocolate, melted
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 scoop (30 g) whey hot chocolate
- 1 scoop (30g) vanilla whey
- 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 tbsp water
- 5 tbsp high-protein peanut butter powder (we used The Nutty Whey)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil,
- 2 tbsp water
Set oven to 180oC. Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another. Combine the two and mix well. The mixture should resemble a cake batter and run off the spoon. You may need to add another egg yolk. Spoon a tablespoon of mixture into mini cupcake silicon cases or donut baking trays. Bake for eight to 10 minutes until the center is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from cases and cooling fully on a wire rack. Continue with remaining mix. You may use a corer to remove the centers or carefully cut with a knife. Store in an airtight container until ready to glaze.
Combine each mix in a bowl. The mixes should be reasonably runny so that they coat the back of a spoon. If too runny they will thicken as they begin to set. Place in the fridge for five-minute intervals to speed this up. If too thick, add additional liquid. Dip each donut into your glaze of choice top side first. Allow to stop dripping before placing onto a wire rack to begin setting. Sprinkle with your choice of toppings.
SOURCE: WOMEN’S HEALTH & FITNESS MAGAZINE
Ingredients (Serves 4 // Prep: 15 min // Cook: 35 min)
• 2 cups baked sweet potato (skin removed)
• 3 eggs
• ¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
• ¼ cup agave
• ¼ tsp vanilla
• 3 tbsp coconut flour
• 4 tbsp cocoa powder
• 2 tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp fresh ground ginger
• ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• Pinch sea salt
• Chocolate chunks (as many as you’d like)
1. Preheat oven to 220°C
2. In a blender, add potato, egg, oil, agave, vanilla and blend until smooth
3. Add coconut flour, cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, spice, baking powder and salt and blend again.
4. Fold the chocolate in by hand. Bake in a 20×20 cm dish for 35 minutes.
5.Let sit for 30 minutes before serving.
SOURCE: WOMEN’S HEALTH & FITNESS MAGAZINE
Ever wondered what “eating clean” or “going on a cleanse” really means?
Spend enough time talking about or searching for nutrition info online these days, and you’ll quickly notice that it seems like everyone is an expert. Between blogs, social media, online message boards, and good old-fashioned conversations with friends, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by competing opinions about what you should eat, how to eat it, and what to avoid. And all these opinions seem to be backed by some popular diet or book with a catchy title!
To make matters even more confusing, flying around in the middle of this dialogue are plenty of buzzwords that people toss around willy-nilly without fully understanding what they mean—if, in fact, they mean anything.
Well, it’s time to shoot some flies and clear the air. Before you start a new diet or dive into your next big nutrition conversation, learn the truth behind common nutrition buzzwords, and determine for yourself if they apply to your goals!
Buzzword 1: “Clean Eating”
Perhaps one of the most popular terms in the fitness and nutrition industry is “clean eating,” but what exactly does “clean” mean? Ask five people at your gym to define clean eating, and you’ll inevitably get five different responses.
In most cases, clean eating refers to eating as much whole, unprocessed food as possible, while limiting the amount of processed foods in your diet. Rather than focusing efforts on the number of calories you consume in a day, the focus is shifted to consuming food items that meet certain requirements—only unprocessed foods that contain no artificial ingredients, or eating foods that have zero added sugar, for example.
Clean eating has evolved into a seemingly cryptic, pie-in-the-sky way of eating within the fitness community. It’s a diet of restriction that fails to honor personal food preferences, making it an unrealistic way of eating. While clean eating—as defined in this way—may work for a select few, educating yourself on healthier food options without placing restrictions on your diet is a much more realistic way of eating. Plus, leaving out certain processed foods such as milk and juices fortified with calcium and vitamin D or Canned fruit (packed in water) and precut veggies—both of which are technically considered “processed” could cause you to miss out on important nutrients that keep your body in optimal health.
Buzzword 2: “Detox”
Next time you’re in the check-out line at the grocery store, take a look at the covers of popular fitness magazines. Chances are you’ll see some advertisement or article about a short-term detox cleanse, usually promising to miraculously bolster your health and wellness in a matter of days by “ridding your body of toxins.”
Let’s think about this for a minute. What toxins are folks who begin a detox diet trying to flush out of their system? Are there specific chemicals they’re trying to “clean out” by restricting themselves to a diet of tea and lemon water? The truth is, most individuals who go on a detox plan can’t seem to name what specific toxins they’re hoping to eradicate from their body in the first place.
Many cleanses and detox diets entail increasing fluids and limiting food choices to mostly fruits and vegetables. Since a detox diet typically involves calorie restriction, acute weight loss is often experienced. Additionally, an increase in fiber intake via increased fruit and vegetable consumption, coupled with the increase in fluids, may result in an increase in the frequency of your trips to the bathroom.
With that being said, the temporary weight loss individuals may experience after following a “detox diet” is mistaken as a perceived health benefit. It’s usually just the result of short-term calorie restriction, not fewer “toxins.”
In lieu of putting your body through all of this, shift your focus to making sustainable nutritious choices such as including more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins into your diet so you can lose weight—and keep it off!—for the long haul.
Buzzword 3: “Low-Glycemic”
The glycemic index (GI) was originally developed for the treatment of diabetes. The GI ranks carbohydrate foods on a scale of 1-100 based on how quickly they affect blood sugar levels when consumed in isolation. Foods such as white potatoes and watermelon have a higher GI score, whereas slower-digesting carbohydrates like oatmeal and legumes have a lower GI score.
A common understanding in the fitness industry is that low-glycemic foods are “better” for you than high-glycemic foods because of the less dramatic insulin response. There are countless nutrition books and theories on controlling insulin response by only eating low-glycemic carbohydrate foods. Insulin has become one of the most feared hormones in the fitness industry.
What most individuals don’t realize is that the glycemic index measures the insulin response of carbohydrates foods on a completely empty stomach in an isolated state. For example, white rice has a GI score of around 70. How often would you eat white rice, by itself, on an empty stomach? Pair that rice with a 4-ounce chicken breast and 1/2 cup green beans sautéed in a tablespoon of olive oil, and you drastically alter the entire glycemic response within that meal. For these reasons, the real-life application of the glycemic index is extremely limited.
Using the glycemic index to select which carbohydrate foods you chose to eat has limited practicality and application, which makes this a buzz phrase to watch out for. However, the glycemic index may be useful for individuals with diabetes, due to impairments in insulin production and metabolism.
Buzzword 4: “IIFYM”
IIFYM stands for “if it fits your macros,” an eating style that has gained a tremendous amount of attention over the past couple of years (thanks in large part to social media). IIFYM, also known as flexible dieting, is a buzz phrase that actually includes a great deal of practicality and sensibility—but it has to be applied appropriately.
Put simply, IIFYM is a system of tracking calories based on daily calorie, fat, protein, and carbohydrate targets. It allows you to take ownership of your daily food choices and overall dietary pattern and enables you to eat a diverse diet without restricting any specific foods.
When applied appropriately, IIFYM is a scientifically sound system of tracking your nutrition. Many folks, however, have mistaken IIFYM for an excuse to eat junk food such as donuts, pizza, and ice cream without any regard for nutrient density or food quality. Scan your social media feed and you will likely see your IIFYM friends sharing pictures of pies and ice cream with a hashtag endorsing IIFYM or flexible dieting. What you fail to see are the posts of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean protein sources that probably make up the majority of those people’s diets.
The fact is, even if you follow IIFYM, you have to eat under a certain caloric target and meet your specific macro targets, so you don’t get a license to eat whatever you want all the time. You still have to follow a sort of 80/20 rule. In other words, 80 percent of your diet should be based on wholesome foods, while 20 percent of your diet could be used for favorite treats and indulgences.
Remember, the best diet to be on is one you can stay on, so IIFYM may be a great choice for you—but it’s not a free pass to eat whatever you want, despite what some people may have you believe on social media.
Looking for healthy lunch ideas? Try these yummy spicy quinoa lettuce cups by our January 2017 cover model, Tiffiny Hall.
Ingredients (Serves 2 // Prep: 10 min // Cook: 30 min)
- ¾ cup mixed quinoa
- 1 ¾ cup vegetable stock
- 125g tin four bean mix, drained and rinsed
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- ¼ avocado
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 4 tomatoes, cut into 1 cm dice
- ¼ bunch coriander, finely chopped
- 4 large cos lettuce leaves
1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Place quinoa into a saucepan with 1 ¾ cup vegetable stock, simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Drain quinoa and spread onto a baking tray.
3. To the baking tray, add bean mix, spices and garlic and mix through. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until quinoa is slightly crunchy.
4. Meanwhile, mash avocado and lemon juice together and set aside.
5. Remove quinoa from oven, toss tomato and coriander through quinoa and bean mix.
6. Spoon quinoa mix into lettuce leaves and dollop on avocado to serve.
SOURCE: WOMEN’S HEALTH & FITNESS MAGAZINE
The muscle you have now was earned one way. The muscle you don’t have yet might play by a different set of rules entirely. Here’s what they are!
You may have heard the term “muscle memory.” What this means is that once you’ve properly trained your muscles to grow, they’ll readily regrow after a cutting phase or even a lengthy break due to life circumstances. Muscle, in other words, is smart. If it’s been to a certain level once, it can find its way back.
However, when you’re trying to grow or increase muscle mass beyond where you’ve been before, it’s more challenging. To make these gains, it helps if you better understand how muscles “think.” Too often, performance and physique athletes emphasize random, challenging training protocols without focusing on how and why muscles grow.
Once you understand the eight rules for building muscle tissue and incorporate them into your training program, you’ll see results you’ll never forget. I guess you could say that’s another definition of “muscle memory.”
1. Change The Little Things Often
No matter how effective a training style is, your body learns fast and stops further growth. Even negative reps—which spur growth by causing lots of damage to muscle fibers—can quickly become ineffective after just a few consecutive workouts.
When you perform the same workout over and over, muscle mass adapts to your training, and it eventually plateaus, which is another way of saying that it stops growing. Many people think they are “successful” if they crank out one more rep with a given weight, or lift 5 more pounds than they did the time before. But if that’s the only approach you use, it’s not efficient.
How to do it: Change up the variables from one workout to the next: rep ranges, time under tension, the weight you use, rest periods, picking similar-but-different exercises, and even duration of rest between sets. Always let your muscles know the overall goal, but keep them guessing about the details.
2. Give Your Muscles Space To Adapt
This rule may seem to contradict the previous one, but it’s a necessary companion, a yin to the yang. You must stress muscle tissue to trigger growth, but then you must allow it to heal. After all, it’s the healing process that ultimately creates the growth.
Don’t leave this part up to chance or wait until you’re burned out. Whether you’re a performance, strength, or physique athlete, you must build recovery phases into your training. Otherwise, you’ll never maximize muscle growth.
How to do it: No single body part should be maximally stressed more than 2-3 times a week—and three is an exception. Nor should you hammer a particular muscle group for more than about six weeks. Your whole body needs to recover from body-part-specific training too. Include at least one full rest day at least once a week. Every 2-3 months, take off an entire week.
3. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel When It Comes To Nutrition
While time is the greatest healer, proper nutrition is one of the most important factors in adding muscle tissue. What you eat provides the raw materials for growth.
I could provide you with some new-fangled, overcomplicated approach “guaranteed” to add 10 pounds of flesh in a week, but I won’t. Just get enough of the right stuff, at the right time. It’s not rocket science.
How to do it: The theory of the “anabolic window” has suffered some cracks in recent years, but post-workout is still as good a time as any to consume a shake with fast-digesting protein like whey protein. Also, consume plenty of healthy nutrients through multiple meals throughout the day. My recommendation for growth is 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight per day—every day. Don’t miss a day.
4. Change The Big Things Every Once In A While
Muscle tissue is smart. It figures out what you’re trying to do pretty quickly. You can change the little things daily while keeping the big idea the same, but after about 6-8 weeks, the muscle will catch on. This is the point of diminishing returns, but too many people coast right by it and keep coasting through workouts they could do in their sleep.
This is why it’s crucial to make a significant shift in your training program every 6-8 weeks or so. It’s hard, because you’ll have to change and actually learn new things, but it’s definitely the best way.
How to do it: Go from a muscle-growth phase to a strength phase, to a ripping-up phase, to a cross-training phase, or to something else entirely. Just make sure to change the protocol every 6-8 weeks or so.
5. Perform Free-Weight Exercises First
One of the ways to encourage growth is by forcing your muscles to deal with the multiple demands imposed by free weights. Not only do you have to lift the weight, but you also have to stabilize it with muscles other than the prime movers of the lift. Stabilizers are the often-tiny muscles that help keep your joints strong and help prevent damage to tendons and ligaments. When you train with machines, you lose much of this stabilization component.
How to do it: After your warm-up, start your workout with free-weight movements. This is the most important work you’ll do. Machine work can come afterward to add some volume and meet specific goals.
Yes, barbells are harder to control than machines. This is no accident. And it’s exactly why you need more free weights in your program.
6. Focus On Form Above All
Your muscles have friends called tendons and ligaments. You may only think about these guys when they’re complaining, but their importance goes beyond avoiding injury. Your tendons must be healthy if you want to apply proper stress to muscle tissue. You can build muscle with sloppy form, but your connective tissues will eventually cry uncle, interrupting your relentless quest—and painfully so.
Your goal is to create stress to muscle tissue that can be repaired in a day or two—not to cause so much damage that you get injured. When you perform free-weight moves with proper form, you’re strengthening, these crucial support structures rather than damaging them. That helps lead to greater muscle growth.
How to do it: Don’t assume your form is perfect. It probably isn’t. Plenty of people think their squat is just fine when…yeesh. Have someone take a look, and prepare yourself for criticism.
7. Know That The More You Have, The Harder It Is To Add
Muscles grow more slowly—much more slowly—than you probably desire. More bad news: Once you’ve added a significant amount of muscle tissue, it becomes even more challenging.
On the other hand, that’s what makes working out so amazing. There are no shortcuts—or at least no legal ones. You need to pay your dues and put in your time, and then you can wear that added muscle like the badge of honor it is.
How to do it: Have patience, and stay disciplined. Keep going to the gym and performing challenging routines. Keep changing up the variables of your workouts like clockwork. When you start rushing, that’s when you’ll often suffer an injury that will set you way back. It’s virtually impossible to train your entire life without getting injured, but you can avoid most injuries by training smart.
8. Embrace Muscle-Building As Health-Building
Many people will tell you that spending time in the gym to build muscle mass is superficial. Sure, having defined arms and strong legs make you feel great in the mirror or while you strut in your favorite outfit, that doesn’t mean they’re not important.
In addition to the health benefits you gain from the training process itself, simply carrying more muscle is healthy. Muscle tissue revs up your metabolic rate, helping your body prevent fat storage, and it also acts as extra armor you can rely on in times of extreme stress such as injury, illness, and surgery. For seniors, more muscle mass is tied to a greater life expectancy—and greater ability to withstand what otherwise might be a life-changing event.
How to do it: Ignore the haters. Anyone who spends time trying to tear you down for your fitness success is the one with the psychological problem, not you. And it isn’t your job to fix them. Ignore what they say, and hope that they’ll one day see the light. When they do, you’ll be standing there, healthy and strong, as an example to learn from.
But that doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to bland “diet” foods. We asked seven women who’ve lost 50 pounds or more to share their go-to healthy meals, and the results were surprisingly appetizing—even bacon and chocolate make a cameo! Here are the foods that helped these women find long-term success.
Jodi, 44, had struggled with her weight due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance. But after a nutritionist helped her devise a low-carb, high-protein eating plan, she lost 70 pounds and is now training for a half marathon. “It’s important to find a nutritionist who understands your health issues and supports your needs,” she says.
A typical day’s meals:
- Breakfast: a protein bar with 20 grams of protein or more, plus a banana on workout days
- Lunch: tuna salad with a side salad of mixed greens and tomatoes with aged balsamic vinegar
- Snack: cucumber slices with a tablespoon of hummus
- Dinner: salmon or crockpot chicken with a side of spinach or avocado
- Dessert: kid-sized cup of frozen yogurt
Motivated by a warning from her husband’s doctor, Jennifer, 41, and her hubby overhauled their eating habits together. “We went from a diet of processed foods, fast food, and dining out two or three times a week to a whole-food, plant-based diet,” she says. “We went all-in from day one, and the weight started melting off.” To date, she’s lost 80 pounds and now works as an online health and fitness coach.
- Breakfast: rolled oats with almond milk, peanut butter, and pure maple syrup
- Post-workout snack: green smoothie with spinach and frozen fruit
- Lunch: kale salad with hummus and rice vinegar, topped with fresh cucumbers, red peppers, and chickpeas or lentils
- Afternoon snack: apples with peanut butter
- Dinner: a Pad-Thai inspired dish using spaghetti squash instead of pasta
- After-dinner snack: a piece of fruit
Petrina, 43, started the Atkins diet because her sister was interested in the plan. “She asked me to do it with her for support,” she says. Petrina eventually modified her diet for more balance, and has lost a total of 100 pounds. She says the key has been “taking it one day at a time. Too many people devote too much focus to the end game.”
A typical day’s meals:
- Breakfast: a healthy “cheese Danish”—made by mixing egg with cream cheese, liquid Splenda, and a dash of cinnamon—along with bacon or sausage
- Lunch: salad with full-fat blue cheese dressing, bacon bits, and diced chicken
- Dinner: steak with steamed broccoli and butter
- Snack: homemade sugar-free peanut butter cup (made with baking chocolate, butter, liquid Splenda, and peanut butter)
The approach of a milestone birthday motivated Whitney, 29, to get serious about her eating habits. “I had been overweight my whole life, and I was determined not to go into my thirties fat!” she says. By following a low-carb, high-protein diet—with some extra carbs added in on workout days—she’s lost 65 pounds so far.
A typical day’s meals:
- Breakfast: fruit smoothie with some spinach or kale and a scoop of protein powder
- Snack: granola bar
- Lunch: jerk chicken with homemade cauliflower rice
- Dinner: baked chicken with broccoli and brown rice
- Snack: ¼ cup of peanuts or cashews
Erica, 32, found that a little patience goes a long way. She lost 60 pounds over the course of two years by cutting out fast food, sugar, and liquid calories like soda and alcohol.”The weight came off slowly, but it’s stayed off,” she says. “I went from being obese, binge drinking, and chain smoking to a three-time marathoner, yoga instructor, and online personal trainer.”
A typical day’s meals:
- Breakfast: zucchini oatmeal
- Snack: fresh fruit
- Lunch: homemade burrito bowl
- Snack: a scoop of peanut butter
- Dinner: protein smoothie made with a frozen banana, a cup of spinach, chocolate whey powder, almond milk, ice, and a touch of honey
Anne, 56, tried a few tactics before finding what worked best for her. She started by weighing foods and counting calories: “That was great for helping me readjust my ideas of portion size, but impractical for a daily lifestyle,” she says. Last year she went on an elimination diet to identify food intolerances. Now she follows a “mostly Paleo” plan of lean proteins, healthy fats, and fresh produce, and she’s lost a total of 80 pounds.
A typical day’s meals:
- Pre-workout breakfast: coffee and a banana or two dates covered in coconut
- Post-workout breakfast: coffee, a bowl of fruit, and two poached eggs
- Lunch: an apple with two tablespoons of almond butter and a few sticks of celery
- Snack: a stalk of bok choy and a carrot
- Dinner: Cobb salad with a few tweaks (turkey instead of ham and bacon; hold the cheese and croutons; oil and vinegar on the side)
- Snack: cucumber slices or pickles
Christian, 30, says she stopped using food as a reward and started thinking of it as fuel for her goals. “I live with the philosophy that weight loss sparks greatness in all areas of life,” she says. Though she was scared to look at a scale before starting her weight loss journey, she estimates she’s lost around 70 pounds by tracking calories and journaling her eating habits.
A typical day’s meals:
- Breakfast: salmon and potato hash
- Snack: pineapple dairy-free yogurt
- Lunch: burrito with ground turkey, black beans, and bell peppers
- Snack: tuna packet
- Dinner: steak with broccoli
SOURCE: WOMEN’S HEALTH MAGAZINE
Kick-start your day with this delicious breakfast recipe by January 2017 cover model Tiffiny Hall.
Ingredients (Serves 2 // Prep: 5 min // Cook: 2 min)
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp water
- 100g fresh ricotta
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 2 slices wholegrain (or gluten-free) bread
- 1 banana, thinly sliced
- ⅓ punnet strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup blueberries
1. In a small bowl, combine tahini, honey, and water together until smooth and set aside.
2. Combine the ricotta, cinnamon and chia seeds to form a creamy spread.
3. Toast wholegrain bread in toaster for 1–2 minutes or until golden.
4. Lay toast flat, spread with ricotta mix then top with fresh fruit. Drizzle tahini sauce over the top and serve.
SOURCE: WOMEN,S HEALTH & FITNESS MAGAZINE
With warm weather approaching, the call for an effective shred has never been stronger. Use these 6 tips to ensure you’re six-pack-ready for summer!
Winter’s winding down, and everyone’s favorite seasonal superpower—the ability to hide excess pounds under a warm sweater—is fading fast. In fact, the summer sun will be high in the sky sooner than you might think, which means shirtless weather is coming in hot. Don’t get caught unprepared! If you want to reveal a shredded six-pack come summer, now’s the time to plan and prioritize your weight-loss goals
Here are six of my tried-and-true get-lean strategies to help you prepare to bare all when the sun comes out to stay.
1. Combine Cardio Styles
Most people default exclusively to high-intensity interval training, or HIIT cardio when it comes to getting lean. After all, the intense metabolic demand HIIT places on your body is like nothing else, and when done correctly, can take several days to recover from. What that means for you is a heightened calorie-burn both during the workout and as you recover.
I like to do my HIIT in short, sharp bursts, performing 30-second sprints on the treadmill or rowing machine, followed by 30 seconds of rest, for 10-15 rounds. But I don’t stop there. I actually follow my HIIT with 15-20 minutes of low-intensity cardio to help remove metabolic byproducts that accumulate during high-intensity exercise, which allows my muscles to recover quicker and gets me ready to train all over again.
This approach combines HIIT’s fat-burning ability with the recuperative benefits of low-intensity cardio, basically giving you the best of both worlds. I even like to add a little extra steady-state (because it doesn’t demand much in terms of recovery) when I want to burn even more calories.
2. Balance Your Reps And Volume
A lot of people assume that in order to get shredded, you need to lift more reps per set and really “feel the burn,” but this isn’t necessarily true. Your nutrition and cardio should do the shredding for you, and your lifts should work to maintain your muscle mass and strength. To that end, I stay in the range of 6-8 reps for all my lifts when getting lean. This allows me to keep my muscles full and strong, potentially add a bit of new size, and hit an ideal short-term hormone release.
But just because I use relatively low reps does not mean I skimp on volume! I do 4-5 sets of each exercise rather than the standard 3-4, which increases the overall time under tension for each body part, burns more calories, and contributes to the overall fat loss. I also front-load my workouts with at least two compound movements, which require a lot of energy. Once I’m depleted, I finish up with a few isolation movements.
3. Advance Your Training
When it comes to shredding, I love implementing giant sets—basically, circuits for one body part or multiple exercises performed back to back—especially for my legs, which respond well to high-rep, high-volume work.
I usually hit two compound exercises in a row, such as squats and leg press, then hit my legs immediately afterward with isolation exercises like leg extensions and curls. This forces my muscles to work 3-4 times as hard and 3-4 times as long per set compared with a straight-set format.
The increased time under tension caused by giant sets leads to more muscular exhaustion, a greater energy demand, and more fat burned post-workout as those muscles try to recover.
I’m also a huge fan of forced reps—when your partner helps you lift beyond what you could lift alone—for leaning out. Forced reps push you further than you would normally go on your own, driving adaptation and producing an additional calorie burn that a straight set does not provide.
I recommend choosing a weight where you fail after about 6-8 reps. Once you feel like you can’t push out even one more rep, have a partner help you squeeze out 3-5 forced reps with the same weight. I guarantee you’ll push yourself to limits you never thought possible!
If you’re training solo, try using the double-rep method (DRM) for cutting. Set yourself up with a weight at which you fail at 8 reps. Do a set of 8 with that weight, rest for 5-8 seconds, and then do another 16 reps broken down into several “mini sets.”
Use the rest-pause technique—performing as many reps as you can, and then taking short, 15-second rests—to get through that second double set.
DRM training really pushes the envelope of both your pain threshold and your muscular endurance. Oh, and if you haven’t noticed the theme yet, it also helps you torch more calories!
4. Manipulate Your Macros
One of my favorite quotes is “what gets measured, gets managed.” Carefully planned nutrition is everything when trying to cut, and knowing how to manipulate your macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat—is essential when building your get-lean plan.
Most people choose to cut carbs in order to get lean, but this is where I differ. I like to keep my carb intake relatively steady year-round to keep my energy high, which allows me to work out harder. To trim some fat from my body, I simply trim some fat from my diet.
Usually, my fat intake is about a half a gram per pound of body weight, which comes out to about 90 grams of fat daily for me. As I get closer to my goal date, or the date on which I want to look my best, I taper this number until it reaches about 40 grams a day.
This simple change gives me just enough of a caloric deficit to burn fat while still leaving me with enough calories from dietary fat to power my essential bodily functions. To compensate for this deficit, I also typically bump my protein up from 1.3-1.5 grams per pound of body weight, which keeps my hunger and cravings at bay and prevents catabolism, or muscle breakdown.
5. Keep Records
If you don’t know where you’ve been, how do you know where you’re going? I’m a bit of a data geek, so I love to keep detailed records of my calories and macronutrients from every diet and show prep I’ve ever done. This gives me plenty of information to compare and allows me to assess the best plan of action to meet my next goal based on my current condition.
When mapping out your plan, give yourself plenty of time to make adaptations. For example, I am usually not more than three weeks out from photo-shoot conditioning, but if I want to step it up and really get stage-ready peeled, I give myself 10-14 weeks. Nothing good comes from rushing the process.
No matter what your timeline, write down everything as you go through that process: what you ate, how it affected your physique, even if it did anything to your body’s level of detail or your overall mood. This way, next time you want to lean out, you’ll have an accurate and exact accounting of what worked and what didn’t.
6. Supplement Smart
Getting lean is no easy task, and supplementing your nutrition can help with cravings as well as energy levels. I love to have a protein shake with my oats after every tough workout to kick-start recovery, spur muscle growth, satisfy my sweet tooth, and help me stay full.
I also take a multivitamin with Omega 3 and 6 daily to ensure I get all my essential fatty acids and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that could be missing from my whole-food diet. And, when it comes to traveling, I always carry a protein bar to make it easy to sneak in meals, even when things get busy.