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Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Monthly Archives: April 2015

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I get asked a lot what I have done to lose weight. I love sharing my story, but it can be frustrating too. I know I’m not the only one who has been asked a million questions about what cardio I do? How do I decide how many reps or sets to do when lifting? How many macros do I eat? What got me started? Do I eat carbs? The list goes on and on…

Here are my thoughts. 

1. There is not one specific thing that I have done that I can attribute my loss to. Weightloss, fatloss, mental health that have resulted from this journey are from a combination of things. 

I have zumba’d, run, stair mastered, walked, sugar detoxed, “gone paleo”, calorie counted, lifted, decreased carbs, cut out foods with empty calories, IIFYM’d. More importantly than these concepts, I have researched nutrition and exercise and what that means for my specific body. 

Zumba was a great starting place because I needed to get up and moving and knew that as a dancer growing up I liked to shimmy and shake. I was broke after college and cutting out empty calories like soda and processed sugar was naturally easy – water comes from a faucet, I can stick with water. My journey has evolved as I have become more knowledgeable about nutrition as a whole, and torn down stereotypes – such as weightlifting will make women bulky. 

Fucking false. It will make you sexy as fuck.

2. I am not you. No one can tell you what the perfect combination of food, exercise, positive talk is. Everyone is different. What works for me won’t work for Suzie across the room. My motivation and determination to get up at 530 am for a 6 am gym session is different than the person who isn’t a morning person. Fasted cardio may work for me, but Bobby might need to carb up or he’ll get headaches. We are all different. I follow IIFYM because I believe in balance. I don’t believe in depriving myself of a cupcake, but if it doesn’t fit that day I guess I have to pass on it. I don’t trust myself to eat intuitively yet, but I’m working on it. Tracking macros for me means freedom and a better relationship with food than I did before.

3. Everyone has an opinion, but we don’t need to listen to each other. Like I said before, we’re all different and have different perspectives of health. I have been told I’m too skinny… Bitch please, I’m 151 and I acknowledge that muscle is more dense than fat, but there’s still fat I want to lose. Don’t tell me how my body looks because half the time your foot is in your mouth and it’s a backhanded compliment. 

4. Carbs are not bad for you, but we all process them differently. There’s also a difference between simple and complex carbs, meaning there’s a difference between a cookie made with white flour than a sweet potato. I’ll eat my carbs and yours if you don’t want them.

5. Don’t do this for the “oh shit you got hot”, do this to better your health. Do it so you can walk a flight of stairs without getting winded. Do it for your own self-esteem, to empower yourself, to prove to yourself that you can do great things when challenged and pushed. No matter what anyone else says this is a battle with yourself. You are your competition, not other women, not other men. Don’t compare your journey to mine or to others. Don’t tell yourself that a 10 pound loss is meaningless or less great than a 100 pound loss. Both outcomes take motivation, dedication and consistency. Don’t belittle your successes, celebrate them. But don’t convince you that your failures are horrible, learn from them. Use that experience to better yourself next time.

This is my journey and I will help whoever asks, BUT don’t try to be me, don’t try to be someone you’re not. Set goals that are realistic for you, achieve greatness of your own way. 

❤️ Cristina 


Seriously? Has anyone else had to ask themselves this question today? Living in New England, many of us were able to celebrate Patriot’s Day or Marathon Monday by not having to work. For me that meant getting to the gym early, heading home to get laundry and meal prep underway. I closed out the Monday by working the closing shift too. I had a work breakfast meeting on Tuesday, which made the morning zoom. It was followed by work lunches on Wednesday and Thursday… Friday I had a workshop in Connecticut and then boom, Hello Saturday! You can see the dilemma? No, neither can I, except I sadly feel like this means that the weekend is going to zoom by as well.

Motivation Monday comparison

 

Let’s back up a minute. I had three food work-related meetings this week. This is part of my day job, but sometimes it can leave me stressed out. With hopes to prevent a melt down at the table, I always look at the menu before hand and try make a game plan. I then figure out my macros for the rest of the day based on what I’m consuming at this meal. I’m really excited about the decisions I made this week and I was able to maintain about a 400 calorie deficient while hitting my macros accordingly.

My weigh-in on Wednesday shocked me with a 1.75 pound loss bringing me to 151.25 pounds – I’m only 1.25 pounds heavier than I was at my November show. Holy crap! I had to step on the scale 4 times to make sure it wasn’t lying! I have lost almost 4 pounds by “doing Kayla” as all the cool kids say. I attribute a lot of this to my food consumption and water intake as well the workouts, which were strong all week.

I had to take a picture because I barely believed it!

Comparison since starting BBG. The middle of my stomach is starting to shrink and lift.

 

This also includes a lifting session I had on Thursday to replace low intensive steady cardio… Sorry Kayla, I needed some deadlifts in my life. Happily enough, I can report that my deadlifts were solid and I hit a new PR of 110 pounds for 3 sets of 10. The first set was a little rough, but the second and third sets were solid were form and execution.

The one downfall this week happened on Thursday night I had a good time getting sick. It really hit me out of no where. I was bloated and I like to say it appeared as though I had a bowling ball in my stomach. Regardless of how it happened or how sick I was, I managed to get in bed by 915 and fast asleep. I was up at 530 – all the bloat was gone and it was like it never happened! Ugh.

Not a transformation: Left- my lift at 6 am on Thursday, Middle- post sick, Right- Friday morning

 

I was in Connecticut by 8 and I maintained my normal eating and even made it to the gym, but stomach was off for most of the day. I definitely thought I was going to get sick during my circuits, but thanks to a ton of water and some slowed breathing I was able to control the nausea and not lose it on the gym floor. I had a cup of peppermint tea with dinner and this morning everything was back to normal. No bloating, no nausea and I even felt super lean.

Saturday morning (this morning) lean city!

 

I don’t know why, but I’m still surprised by what your body can do to you when it’s not happy, but again what it does when it loves they way you’re treating it!

Moving on…

To finish out Week 3 of Bikini Body Guide, I went hiking today for the first time this season with my friend Jules – we met on Instagram and learned that we only live 20 minutes from each other! How freakin’ cool is that?! We went up to Mt. Wachusett and rocked an hour and 20 minute hike for a total 395 calories burned!

Getting ready!

 

Me and Jules at the summit on Mt. Wachusett!

Pine Hill Trail

 

Our view at the summit

 

This brought my workout caloric burn to 2,015 for the week. This combined with my eating deficit allowed for a little over 4,000 calories output. While I’ve written about how it’s a little more than calorie input/output to lose weight, this is definitely a start. I’m excited to be 1.75 pounds away from my first goal weight of 149.5. I’m also excited to be able to quantify my progress and see how hard I’m pushing myself by having timed circuits and using a new HRM.

I’ve written my circuits for Week 4 in my notebook already and I’m looking forward to my rest day tomorrow. Shocking i know, but I’m going to the VegFest, which is a free festival that celebrates vegetarians and vegans. While I’m neither of those, I do appreciate veggies and fruits and supporting local. I also hear there’s samples too!? Who could give up local grown samples? Not me!

Well, I’m heading to bed. I hope everyone else had a great Saturday and has an even better Sunday Funday. I know I will!

 

❤ Cristina


I went to the museum the other day to get myself out of the house and to take a peek at a new exhibit that had just opened. Since it was my day off and I had nothing else planned, I was able to take my time through the museum, starting at the top, 4th floor and working my way down. Taking the time to see each exhibit, each sculpture and all of the paintings. There’s a room with modern works of art that include a variety of mediums. I have never seen this room rotate in what it carries, so I have seen these piece many times. But Sunday was the first time that I actually had the chance to see them.

I came across one painting that really got to me, it made me think.

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The image in the painting is of Eve sitting in the bushes. She uses it to shield herself, but the description of the painting asks the question: Is her isolation self-imposed or symptomatic of social restrictions? In what space and time does she exist? can her voice be heard?

I had a slight break down today in regards to my weightloss. I honestly never thought I would lose the weight I did and while it was hard to find clothes at a larger size, it’s not much easier at a smaller size. My biggest fear is that I will gain the weight I have lost back. Realistically, I have more knowledge now than I did before. I understand my body better than I did before. I know what food and exercise can do for it and I know how I feel without proper nutrition and exercise, but that doesn’t change the fact that my fear is still weight gain and failure.

So do I feel this way because I’m putting the pressure on myself? Probably. Do I feel this way because society has unrealistic expectations of beauty? Definitely.

I’m excited to compete in the fall and I see it as a competition with myself. How far have I come since the first competition. Since I first started lifting weights. I don’t see it as competing against other women because we all train differently and our bodies respond differently to diet and exercise. November was an experience that put health into perspective for me. It put ambition, goals and dreams into perspective for me. I never thought that I could accomplish something like that, but yet I did.

I love the progress I have had with only 2 weeks and some change into the bikini body guide program. I like that it changes it up and I like that I can fit the routines into my day without feel stretched too thin.

While I have this excited and I can see progress in my photos, I wonder if I would want this as much as I do if there wasn’t any societal pressure. At my heaviest, health wasn’t the first concern or reason why I started to loose weight. I had gotten out of a relationship, a very long relationship and I needed a change. I needed a drastic change. I also believed that I would never find love at my size. There’s that pressure again, just in a different form.

I didn’t find love until 31 months into my fitness journey and it was only after I had finally figured out how to love myself. I owe that to weight lifting. I truly believe I didn’t attract anyone because I didn’t love myself before and accept things as they come. I have my moments, like earlier tonight when I was arguing with myself over a menu item in preparation for a lunch meeting tomorrow. For the most part, I’m truly ecstatic about my progress and I can tell that I hold my head higher than before.

So why do I let pressure get to me? Why do I set my own expectations so high? Why does society believe they have a right to an opinion on beauty and worth? How can we separate our own standards of ourselves from the misguided ideals of those we’ve never met?

Does anyone have any answers?

Until I figure them out, I’m going to keep scrolling through my progress photos and remind myself how a flight of stairs would leave me winded, how a pair of heels would leave my knees sore and how I can now run a 8:38 minute miles.

❤ Cristina


Yesterday I finished Week 2 of Bikini Body Guide and as of Wednesday I was down another half pound, for a total of 1 pound lost since starting the program two Monday’s ago. That’s pretty steady progress if you ask me and I honestly don’t mind it being slow like that. I’m back to 153 and I’m pretty happy. My goal at the moment is 149.5 pounds, this will be the first time since my sophomore year (2008/2009) that I will have been under 150 pounds.

That’s crazy to me. I never thought I would have come this far, but now that I have I know I don’t want to stop. I’ve been pretty motivated my whole journey. I’ve acknowledged when I needed to change it up or refocus, but these past two week feel different. I don’t know what it is, but I feel good right now, mentally and physically.

This week’s workouts were pretty solid, except I learned that my body just can’t handle pushups. I can do them in moderation, but Wednesday’s arms and abs day not only had a few different styles of pushups, but had a high quantity once you had completed the circuits. I ended up with a slipped rib and some terrible shoulder pain. Luckily, I went to the chiropractor Wednesday afternoon and was put together. I’m now finding alternatives when necessary so I don’t cause injuries that could prevent me from continuing my progress.

I’m still getting in my own lifting twice a week and when these 12 weeks are complete, I’m going to be getting back into full prep-mode for the fall. It’ll be another interesting summer, that’s for sure.

I also decided to start using my heart rate monitor again to track my output more accurately. While I follow flexible dieting, knowing your output against your input will truly help you with weight and fat loss. So I dug out my HRM that I purchased two years ago and the battery was dead. I wasn’t surprised at all, but I was surprised that it took five different stores to find the size batteries I needed to use it. Once I got it taken apart and reassembled, I was disappointed again when I realized the chest strap was broken and since Polar doesn’t sell just the transmitter strap, it meant a trip to Best Buy. I now am the proud owner of a pink HRM.

I’m not sure what my caloric burn goal will be, burning enough calories to lose a pound isn’t as easy as just burning 3,500 calories. A post from December explains how caloric burn can affect different kinds of bodies. When I first started losing weight, it fell off. As my weight was more manageable for someone my size I noticed I was hitting plateaus often and cutting fat was harder. It was discouraging, but after more research my frustrations started to dissolve and I learned that changing it up wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. I would always be on my toes.

This is one of the reasons why I thought giving BBG a try wouldn’t be so bad after all.

I was looking at photos from the fall right before my show and I can tell that even thought I’m 2 pounds heavier now, I’m leaner – definitely in the love handle region. My stomach is flattening too and the lose skin isn’t even that bad.

I can’t wait to pass my November show weight and really start leaning out for the fall. I’m glad I recognized last year when I first decided to compete that I would need longer than the average competitor to get where I want to be. I’m using the same philosophy this time around – 12 weeks of Bikini Body Guide, which will put me at the end of June when the program is complete. I’ll then start prep for competition in November.

Now don’t get me wrong. The progress right now is awesome. I’m glad I’m back on track after a crazy March. In fact, this morning when I was getting ready for the day, I was going through my closet to find a tank top. I found instead what used to be a tank top…

I love that I get to play the game “is it a shirt or is it a dress”. This tank top is from before I started my journey, so exactly 87 pounds ago. It’s a size large and it’s from PacSun – sometimes their sizing is funny, but HOLY CRAP. I wasn’t expecting this at all!

This really got me pumped and I’m so ready for Week 3. My workouts are written in my little notebook. My meals are planned out for the week and today was a solid day too. Cheers to another good fit week! I hope everyone has a great Monday.

❤ Cristina

 

 


Admittedly I stole this idea from my friend Sarah when I saw her IG post. I did add 1 ingredient – protein. 

The original recipe is 1 can of pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, but just pumpkin and 1 box of desired cake mix. This alone with a low fat, solid carb snack. They’re super moist and really guilt free, without frosting. 

My addition, was 2 scoops of Cellucor’s Cookies and Cream Whey protein. I figured the carbs were great, but you can never go wrong with a little protein. After mixing all the ingredients together, I used a quarter cup measuring cup for even cakes. I was able to get 15 even cupcakes. 

  

For the future, I might add a third scoop of protein and a little water to balance the consistency. I believe I could get 16 cakes with that. 

I used olive oil cooking spray for the baking pan so j wouldn’t have to amuse baking papers. I baked the cakes at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes. My oven runs hot so k really have to baby baked goods so they don’t dry out and over cook. 

These were fantastic! You can’t taste the pumpkin at all and I paired a similarly tasting protein to cake mix, so you couldn’t taste it either! 

    

The macros were solid with the added protein! Like fit girls dream. 

Calories: 129

Fat: 1.9g

Carbs: 23.8g

Protein: 5.1gEdit

I had one as an afternoon snack yesterday, and tonight I’m pair one with chocolate peanut butter arctic Zero and PB2. I mean a sundae that’s guilt-free? That’s my kind of Saturday night treat! 

Do you have any treats that you’ve changed up to make healthier? What were some successes? Any failures?

❤️ Cristina  


Today I completed the first week of Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Istines. It has been a great week in the gym and in the kitchen. When I first decided to purchase the 12-week program, I really had no idea what to expect. I honestly thought it was going to be a joke, but I couldn’t be any happier with my decision to try it. Since I had decided to not compete this spring because of the cost, I was feeling really lost. I’m very goal oriented and I like structure in my routine. My friend Sarah (fit_badger15 on IG) suggested I try BBG because it would give me the structure I wanted, but it would be also allow me to get some of the lifting in that I like. Lifting was my biggest concern. I love picking up heavy things and putting them down, I wasn’t really sure how weights would fit into this routine.

Here’s what I have learned about the program and what I like:

It kicks your butt if you put in the work.

When I work out, I want to be challenged and lately I hadn’t been feeling challenged in the gym. I was changing it up, I was increasing weight and mixing up the number of reps, but I wasn’t feeling the way I wanted to in my workouts. With BBG program every day is a designed as circuits, except for steady cardio days. The circuits are intense and have forced me to push myself harder than I had been. Monday was leg day and I can’t remember the last time I had really felt leg day the day after, day after.

They’re time efficient.

I work two jobs and can’t remember the last time I ate dinner on a plate, instead of in tupperware. I needed something that I could without feeling like I spending hours in the gym. This week I have gotten up every morning at 530 and dragged my booty to the gym with coffee in hand. Some mornings were harder than others, but I felt amazing when I was done. The best part, I was done in 30 minutes and then home in time for a shower and breakfast.

I’ll actually get results, it’s not some gimmick.

My mind is probably messing with me, but I can already feel a difference. Slightly see one too. I was down half a pound on Wednesday when I weighed myself and it was a pretty good feeling seeing the scale move. It was an even better feeling when I went to buy new jeans today because mine are too big. Sarah’s results from doing both sections of BBG (week’s 1 to 12, and week’s 13 to 24) have been awesome. Obviously, everyone’s results will be different, but it makes me hopeful that busting my butt over the next few weeks will bring some serious progress. I’m sitting at 153.5 pounds and the goal at the moment is 149.5. I think it’s reasonable and definitely possible.

I’m able to do my own exercises on top of BBG.

I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to continue heavy lifting during the program and I have learned a couple of things. 1. I don’t want to do my own leg lifting on leg day because circuits are enough. I mean crawling would be more than likely if I did extra. 2. I can do extra on arm day and 3. I can throw in an extra leg day on Thursdays when I do cardio.

I can follow IIFYM.

I don’t need to follow her nutrition guide. I can still flex diet, which has been solid all week and has contributed to my half pound loss this week as well. I’m able to make the decisions I need to without feeling like I’m not going to have results. I can look at cake and eat it too.

I’m excited for the next 11 weeks because this is something I can follow and something I look forward too. There are millions of women also following these workouts so I can easily ask questions or talk to others about their progress. It’s a huge sense of community.

Stay tuned for more updates. I’m going to do a weekly update on BBG and every few weeks post a new photo with my progress. I’m ready to get out of my funk and get moving along!

Have a great weekend :]

❤ Cristina