The Life of a Fit College Student Series: Preparing for the Semester

Trying to juggle being a college student, having a job, and living a healthy lifestyle comes with so many challenges. I am going into my junior year at Duquesne University as a Finance major. I will admit I do have it a little easier because I do commute to campus daily, I don’t live there so I have the option of not having to eat at the dining hall. Here’s a few tips of how I juggle everything myself:

Start planning a few weeks in advance

I like to look at my schedule and create an excel document of my work and class schedule or at least write it out in my planner so I know when I’ll have time to eat meals or go to the gym or do homework.  My classes start on August 22nd and I have already been looking at my schedule and planning everything around it. I know it may change as you start getting into the first few weeks of classes but at least you will have an idea before you start and know that it is and will be possible to handle.

planner 2

Use a planner

I know a lot of time universities will hand out a student planner during the first week of classes, use it.  It makes life a lot simpler when you can write down all the due dates for assignment and dates for tests and quizzes. You can also use it to keep track of workouts and meals.  I know there are a lot of apps that are being used for it now also which is also very convenient. I personally like to write everything out rather than keep it in my phone because I just feel like it’s a lot more helpful for me to see it written and it’ll actually motivate me to get things accomplished.


Meal Planning/ Prep

Meal planning and meal prep makes life so much simpler when it’s one less thing you have to worry about during the day.  I like to make chicken or ground turkey on sundays and then steam some veggies and rice or sweet potatoes and have enough at least for lunch.  Sometimes I also just buy bread or wraps so I can make a sandwich for lunch to switch things up.  I always keep protein/ granola bars in my bookbag for a quick snack throughout the day because sometimes I am there later than expected and did not pack enough meals.

meal 1

I know eating healthy on a college student budget is often hard but the easiest thing to do is shop the sales and be smart about the choices that you make. Make sure what you buy is reasonable, don’t just look at one store, look at the different store that are most convenient to you, some may have better deals than others. I like to shop at Aldi’s, which is an off-brand grocery store, their products are just as good as name-brand items that you would find in a grocery store such as Giant Eagle or Shop N’ Save.

Also, if you have access to a wholesale membership like Costco or Sam’s Club, they often have good deals on meat or you can buy large bags of frozen vegetables that just need steamed.  Some colleges may even offer a discount on warehouse club memberships, don’t be afraid to ask around, normally if you have questions about discounts and different things like that I would start by going to the Office of Student Life or something similar, they could direct you where to go. If you do not live on campus like I do, six pack bags or fitmark bags make it easy to carry meals around, especially if you are going to be on campus all day. Most schools do have microwaves somewhere in a dining hall or even in different dining locations throughout campus, don’t be afraid to ask a dining hall worker where it is if you can’t find it.

meal 2

If you live on campus, I know you don’t have many options to bring your own food and cook your own food.  If you live in a basic dorm, you probably have space for a mini fridge and a microwave.  To make sure you get your fruits and veggies in you can always purchase veggies and then buy a microwavable steamer, these help a lot.  You can put raw or frozen veggies in there and just microwave it.  Cooking any type of protein is also not easy in a normal dorm, my advice for this is if you decide to go to the cafeteria get a togo container and take some simple grilled chicken.  I know at the cafeteria in my school they do have simple grilled chicken sandwiches that I normally get and I just don’t eat the bun (you can eat the bun if you need carbs) and I always take a side of veggies.  If you are on the go you can always pick up a piece of fruit from the dining hall and save it for a snack later.

If you do have access to a communal kitchen that includes a stove or an oven utilize it.  You can buy your own food and cook it there. You could buy your meat such as chicken or ground turkey and cook it all at once and then just split it up for different meals in storage containers so you can take along with you to the dining hall to eat with friends. Storage containers are very convenient, you can find them pretty cheap online or at the grocery store, don’t throw them away after one use, just clean them and reuse them.

Don’t get discouraged

If you have an assignment due or a group project, don’t get discouraged if you have to miss a workout, it’s one workout, it’s not going to kill you if you miss it.  I will be the first to admit, I am a person who gets very frustrated if I have to miss a workout or if I have a bad meal.  Getting passed that is sometimes difficult, I’ve seen myself at the gym late in the evening around 9 PM when I am tired and don’t want to be there.  If you’ve had a long tiring day it’s not worth trying to force yourself, it’ll become a chore and your workout will actually suffer.  If you know you have a test or an assignment due date coming up plan ahead, plan time that you are going to need to study, instead of studying the night before try to study for a few days and if you don’t feel comfortable that you are going to do well once you hit the night before then take extra time to study and that may mean an unplanned rest day.  If you end up taking an unplanned rest day, remember, tomorrow is a new day and one day is not going to kill you!

Free food: take it or leave it

During the first week there are many opportunities for free food and it’s not always the best – at least at my school they offer many ways to connect socially over food.  I’ve experienced events with pizza, chicken tenders, nachos, or even ice cream. Sometimes the offers are hard to pass up and you decide you are going to take it. That’s completely reasonable, just remember: don’t over do it. You can take one piece of pizza or 1 or 2 chicken tenders and it’s not going to kill you. You also don’t need to feel the pressure to take more than that just because those around you are taking seconds or even thirds. If you are tracking macros, some of these things are easy to track you may just have to fix your day around it. Just be mindful of your choices and just make sure you don’t overdo it. College is a time to live and have fun, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have healthy goals at the same time.

Partake in activities with friends

Don’t limit your time with your friends because you don’t want to miss a workout or you are afraid you are going to eat something bad. If you go out to dinner just make mindful choices. No matter how you’re counting or tracking your meals, you can always look online to see if the restaurant has their nutritional information online.  If not, Cristina has posted other ways to help estimate your macros for restaurant dishes.  If you decide to go out one night and decide to drink you can calculate macros for drinks or have just one.
You don’t want to limit yourself, but you also need set priorities. Class comes before the gym because you are a student first. Mental health is just as important as eating well and working out. You need to enjoy life outside of classes, school work, and your healthy lifestyle. Balance is hard and may not always seem possible, but it’s not something that is completely unattainable – it just takes some work, nothing is ever actually easy. Don’t be scared to give it a try, sometimes it’s a lot easier than you expect.




Coming Home Bikini Prep Series: Post  “Week 4 Recap: A Lot of Firsts”

Personally and professionally there were an awful lot of firsts this week. Let’s start at the beginning.

This past week kicked off the new block in prep: the volume block. Just like it sounds, the focus is on lifting more volume in reps. For me, this meant adding more super sets where necessary and focusing on form with lower weight. The art is picking a weight that will be comfortable in the beginning, but will gradually feel tougher as you continue through your sets. There are a few exercises that I kept heavy with a different variation to repetitions such as back squat. In my strength block, I had an ascending weight/descending rep pyramid with an option 2×3 if I felt good. This allowed me to lift heavier and I actually got back to my old max. It was pretty exciting.

This block, I have my squats in a triangle pyramid, so they ascend in weight/descend in reps and then descend in weight/ascend in reps, I kept the 2×3 optional if I feel good, but since my leg day volume is between 340 reps and 415 reps, I did the optional sets once this week. I’ve also added back squats to my second leg day as well. If you want to get better, you need to practice more often – so triangle pyramid back squats twice a week this block. I also kept deadlifts and bench press with lower reps and a little bit heavier weight because those are exercises that I really enjoy doing heavier – so both are in a 5×5 structure.

I added front squats to my first leg day and rack pulls to my second back day – both of these exercises are completely new to me. I’ve seen both of them done online and did some research on their benefits and form, and now they’ve been added to the line up. Definitely things to get used to, but I think that’s why I’m loving this prep – the ability to add new things and change up what isn’t working. Which leads me to my next change – my Friday back day.

It’s no surprise to anyone that by the end of the week you’re exhausted, it also shouldn’t be a shock that as you lower carbohydrates you also become fatigued. This past week, I traveled the longest car ride I’ve had since my surgery and I think that triggered the start of my exhaustion, however, lower macros and the end of the work week didn’t help. That being said, depending on how I feel Thursday nights, I’m going to move my lifting to Friday night and let myself sleep in Friday morning. This first high volume back day was terrible when I made my attempt in the morning. I felt tired all over, I could feel it in my face and I could feel it in my lifts. I decided to stop in the middle to stop my lift and come back that night because it wasn’t worth a shitty session to hurt myself. So I did and it was a million times better.

Now back to the car ride – professionally, there were some firsts this week too. I’m a fundraiser for a University and it takes between 8 months to a year to develop a relationship and solicit for a contribution. Wednesday, I had an amazing lunch, which lead to a conversation and will be resulting in a proposal asking for my largest ask in my career. Thursday, over lunch, my first endowment proposal was accepted and an agreement will be sent out. Wednesday’s visit is the one that is linked to the VERY LONG car ride. It took almost 4 hours to go from Fairfield, NJ to southern Connecticut – that should be an hour, maybe an hour and a half drive. I sat for 4 hours, which is tough for anyone, but it’s the longest time that I have ever sat in the car since my surgery. I can’t even begin to explain how wiped out I was when I did finally get home. But the trip was completely worth it and I left the office a little early on Thursday after lunch.

Lunches – travel and prep. It’s harder, that’s for sure, but it’s not impossible.I packed my meals and planned accordingly. If you saw Instagram, then you saw the Qdoba post. Maybe I’m ballsy or just #thatpreplife, but I brought the mixing bowl and scale into the food court and just measured out what I needed. It was a pretty damn taco salad if you ask me.

Sadly, on my way out the mall, I passed by this:

One day my love, we will reunite. Just kidding. Cinnabon is good, but I mean cupcakes and doughnuts have my heart.

I also had dessert waiting for me back at the hotel and somehow managed to cap off my macros with half a Lenny and Larry cookie with cashew butter. It was a glorious cap indeed.

I brought waffles with me, along with my toppings and had my own Waffle Wednesday in the hotel dining area.

Even on travel, I got my workout in at Gold’s. It was a nice gym and I do love seeing other facilities, but damn, I just wanted a standard leg press.

I successfully hit my macros on Tuesday and estimated to the best of my ability on Wednesday, which I will gladly take. This week was my first week trying out Avatar Nutrition. I had been talking with a friend about it because I have been struggling to get into a deficit, but after my last experience, I wasn’t 100% sure about how I felt trusting someone else.

Avatar Nutrition is essentially an algorithm that learns your body as you put information into your profile such age, height, weight, gender and activity levels. It adjusts your nutritional goals as you input progress. Last Saturday I weighed in at 128.0 – .8 pounds higher than the start of prep. Sunday I weighed 129.0 according to the scale at the body fat testing center – I believe we can attribute this to the salt in the Mexican I had for dinner the night before. I weighed 129.0 on Monday and that’s when I signed up with Avatar. Immediately, my carbohydrates were cut by 40 grams, which means I was put at 140 grams of carbs daily down from 210 grams when I was in maintenance. Trust me, I didn’t I would need to drop that much, but it made sense. My macros overall were: 52F/140C/136P, so fat was up a little and protein was down little, and carbs – well, goodbye carbs. So I figured I would give it a try and see how I felt and see if any changes happened. I like checking in on Saturday’s because it’s the end of the week for me – it’s a rest day. Well, I was 127.2. I stepped on the scale a few times to make sure it was right and it was. I was also down .5″ in my waist, which means I’ve lost 3/4″ in my waist in 4 weeks and I do believe we have hit a deficit.

Even after 2 full days on these macros I felt tighter and Wednesday morning at the hotel I could see some definition going on.

Someone questioned me about doing “this” on my own. I am still prepping myself on my own. I am still designing my workouts on my own. Avatar is assisting me in the nutrition portion and a lot of competitors who prep themselves have used it. It’s no different than me using any other online calculator, except it auto-updates your nutritional goals based on the progress that you input into your profile. Tomorrow is my check-in to see if there’s any changes to my nutritional goals. I’m hoping for no change, or a very minimal change since this week’s progress was amazing.

A few of you have asked me to review Avatar Nutrition, but guys, it’s only been a week. I figure I’ll debrief when the season is over, do you think you can wait another 9 weeks? I think if things go as well as they did this week, then I don’t think I’ll have an issue working on a review on how I felt about using the site and how they adjusted.

Overall, I’m happy with how this week went. I travel for my job and that’s nothing new, it’s not hard to plan around my trips and bring things to supplement what I can’t get from restaurants. I’m happy with my workouts, even though I had to do a round 2 of back day. I’m happy with my progress, even though it took a few weeks to get here. That’s part of this whole process – learning my body, what’s working and what’s not working. If I stepped on stage today, I would still feel successful because I know where I was before, I know what this sport means to me. I also know that I’m one of those people that will say “watch me next time, I’ll be better.” I like what I’m learning and this week was a lot of that. Here is some other photos from the week. I can’t wait to really dive into week 5 this week.

Sarah Lynn Fitness Cookie Challenge: Almond Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip 

Yep. She did it. Sarah threw three cookies into one. You know what, I ain’t mad.

This is the fourth cookie in my challenge and after a chocolate cookie, this was perfect. Filed under Classic Cookies, the almond butter oatmeal chocolate chip has a great flavor and texture where everything compliments each other instead of overpowering each other.

I’m always hesitant when I see large amount of nut butter used in a recipe because that’s a large fat source. Almond butter is definitely one of the fattier nuts and therefore a fattier nut butter. On prep, fat can be limited, but when careful and strategic you can make things work well. I built my day around breakfast and dessert. So I bit the bullet and said “YES! WE WILL USE THE ASKED FOR AMOUNT OF NUT BUTTER.” I did make two large cookies, so really I could’ve saved myself if I had divided them up further, but what fun would that be? I want to live on the edge!

I have three almond butters in the cabinet: D’s Naturals Brownie Batter, D’s Naturals S’mores and Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. I really wanted these cookies to be true to the recipe so I used Justin’s. It was an excellent choice afterall, and for a minute I thought I wasn’t going to use the full 2 tablespoons called for in the recipe – then I realized I promised myself to use it all, so I did.

Notes on this recipe:

  • You will need all of the nut butter and maybe a little extra milk – I added another half tablespoon of cashew milk (what I had on hand) so I could mix and bind into a dough otherwise it was a little beady.
  • I added the chocolate chips after I made the balls. One cookie had them pressed on top and the other had them kneaded in. I found this helpful so that chocolate chips were throughout the cookie – essentially they stay where you place them.
  • I used almond extract instead of vanilla because I thought it would be tasty since it’s an almond butter cookie. You could smell the almond extract when the batter was wrong and it was subtle in taste once the dough was baked.
  • I used maple flavored almond butter and it wasn’t very noticeable once everything was mixed up – I would definitely suggest the maple almond butter. I think another flavored one like the D’s Naturals would take away from the cookie as a whole because those flavors are so dominant.
  • This cookie is just as soft as the peanut butter cookie. You don’t really notice the oats in the texture, which is slightly heartbreaking because I like oatmeal cookies, but it’s a soft, fall apart cookie and all its part compliment each other.

With the very slight modifications and picking out Justin’s Almond Butter, the macros per HUGE cookie are: 11.3F/20.9C/5P.

topped with 1/4 cup (half serving) of salted caramel cluster cashew milk ice cream

The cookie rankings:

  1. Peanut Butter Cookie
  2. Almond Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie
  3. Fudge Brownie Cookie
  4. Chocolate Chip Cookie

❤ Cristina


Coming Home Bikini Prep Series: Post 11 “Knowledge is Power”

That sounds corny, I know and Ally knows it too – she said it to me this morning after I texted her my results.

JP and I had been talking about what we thought our results would be while we were driving to the club that owns the BodPod. I told him I thought I was probably around 18% because realistically I had surgery, I was on bed rest and my lifts weren’t where they were in the spring during the summer. I said there’s potential that even though I’m lighter by the scale that I’m up a few percentage points. That’s normal, but I want to know where I am so I can be more strategic going forward.

I wasn’t expecting 16.1% body fat.

For reference here’s my spring results. They were done in March when I was about 2 and a half, almost 3 months into prep. I weighed 135 pounds.

Today according to their scale I weighed 129.7 pounds. I’m down .1% point from the spring, with a full pound of fat lost. I also lost some lean muscle mass, but again, according to their scale, there’s a 5.3 pounds difference between these two readings.

As Ally explained to me this morning, the ratio of lean to fat is really good and it was probably maintained because even though I reversed slightly before surgery and started to reverse post surgery – nutritionally, I was in a deficit still and I could’ve potentially pushed further calorically.

So what does this mean for me?

  1. No wonder I can see abs most days. Seeing your abdominals means you have a lower body fat percentage, and they typically start becoming visible around 18% body fat for women.
  2. Something needs to change. At the bottom of the sheet you can see my RMR or resting metabolic rate. This is how many calories I burn at rest during the day. On the right hand side you see a list of calories and activity levels. While I’m lifting 6 days a week and for the past 3 weeks had cardio scheduled 3 times a week as well, I don’t know if I would truly believe that my body is being very active. I do have a desk job and sitting during the day has an impact on your body. I would believe that I probably have close to the active caloric daily expenditure of 2,284 calories.
  3. I have a really good starting place and time on my side. Easy as that.


What’s going to change?

  1. I started a volume block this morning. The past 3 weeks I had been working on lifting heavier, getting my strength back to where it was and having a little bit of fun with some different structure. Strength blocks are necessary because they can help shape your body differently than a volume block. My volume block focuses on the opposite – a little lighter weight with more reps. This block my daily reps for a total workout will be between 300-400. Today’s leg day was 340 reps from 28 sets. Legs are going to be toast in the morning.
  2. Cardio – I like running. I like the stair stepper. I don’t mind cardio, but I also don’t love it. It’s a necessary evil though for weightloss, fatloss and overall being healthy. The past 3 weeks I’ve had 3 cardio days: steady for 20 minutes, tabata or HIIT for 15 and intervals for 15. Last week I decided to move my cardio sessions to during my lunch hour, if time allowed, this also allowed me to increase the time of my sessions slightly. I added 5 minutes to steady and 10 minutes to HIIT or Tabata. Last week I cardio’d for a total of 65 minutes. To help increase my deficit without having to adjust nutrition too much, I’m adding a 4th day of cardio – 10 minutes of HIIT. So my cardio schedule will look like this: Monday  – 25 minutes of HIIT or Tabata, Tuesday – 15 minutes of intervals , Thursday – 25 minutes of steady and Friday – 10 minutes of HIIT. A total of 75 minutes.
  3. Nutritionally – I love food. Don’t get it twisted. I like volume food, I like dense food. Pass the 80/20 beef burger this way. If it fits my macros, I’m probably going to eat it, but I’m also serious about my goals and that means that this will be slightly effected this week as well. To help the cut nutritionally, I’m lowering my fat by 2g or 18 calories, I’m also lowering carbohydrates by 5g of 20 calories. This brings my macros down to: 48F/175C/140P or 1,692 calories. Again, still a ton of food. Pancake Monday and Waffle Wednesday can still fit, I can also supplement with a 1 carb waffle for volume. Many of the veggies that I love can also provide volume – broccoli and cauliflower were on sale this past week  – you should see my freezer! Having a slight caloric deficit and a deficit created by my activity level should help progress. I’ve said on Instagram that it is frustrating not seeing the scale move, but when I’ve done side by side comparisons there’s a difference. I’m tighter and leaner and after today’s test, I’m not really concerned like I was before about leaning out. There’s 10 weeks until show day, 9 weeks until peak week. There’s time for adjustments and trust me there will be adjustments – that’s how this sport goes.


I’m excited about what I learned because it’ll help me be more strategic to get me into a deficit more effectively without feeling like I’m in the gym for the whole day or that I’m missing out on foods. Sadly, JP leaves tonight and we’re not sure if he’ll be visiting until September. We do know we will be home for our 2 year anniversary on September 9th. Happily though, that means I can eat how I need to without taking his reverse into consideration or if he wants to have date day. I just need to focus on my meal prep and planning and my own work schedule. Which by the way is taking me to New Jersey on Tuesday night and I’ll be back on Wednesday afternoon. This won’t effect my workouts at all, but it does mean that when I’m prepping tonight I will need to research where I will be and make plans for what I can pack with me. I will probably have waffles in my 6 pack bag because Waffle Wednesday is life, unless interrupted by doughnuts.

Anyway, we’re going to head to the poolside in the backyard, then to the airport. Let’s get this week started!

❤ Cristina

His Day of Eating: Week 3 of the Reverse Diet 

Since I shared my day of eating and I’m in a cut for competition, I thought I would share JP’s day of eating while he’s reversing into maintenance. It’s a different perspective than from when I was reversing because 1. he’s a man and testosterone is a very helpful hormone for weightloss and muscle development 2. his BMR is a lot higher than mine for his nutrition will reach a lot higher than mine can ever imagine too 3. he’s currently only running about 3 to 4 times a weeks and that’s it. We’ve started discussing lifting and he will need to have higher nutrition when he starts implementing it, but right now as a runner we’re slowly pulling him out of a deep cut into maintenance.

Here’s yesterday’s day of eating in photos.

Breakfast: Birchtree Bread Company Ice Coffee with a splash of skim milk and Toast Special

Toast Special

  • Dark chocolate ganache cream cheese with vanilla bean custard and vanilla crumb cake on challah bread
  • 1 whole egg cooked medium

Rough Macros:



Snack: protein

Muscle Pharm Combat Crunch in Birthday Cake

Macros: 7F/25C/20P


Lunch: chicken and veggies

  • 4.5 ounces of chicken breast
  • 6 ounces of broccoli and cauliflower
  • 1T of apricot ginger teriyaki sauce

Snack: carbs

  • 1 serving of Irene’s Cranberry biscotti
  • a bag of mini Oreos

Macros: 5F/25C/2P

Dinner: open faced meatball sandwich

  • 4 ounce ground turkey homemade meatballs + 1T of breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup of marinara sauce
  • 28g of mexican cheese blend
  • 70g of rosemary ciabatta bread
  • 75g of yellow summer squash

Macros: 20F/40C/37P

Dessert: homemade cookie

  • 1 fudge brownie cookie from Sarah Lynn Fitness
  • 1/4T of peanut butter

Macros: 8F/23C/7P

Dessert 2: ice cream sundae

  • 1 serving of birthday cake Halo Top
  • 10g of fat free whip cream
  • sprinkles

Macros: 2F/16C/6P

Not pictured: 1 scoop of PE Science frosted chocolate cupcake protein

  • Macros: 1.5F/1C/24P
  • Total Macros:60F/212C/151P
  • Macros not consumed: 1F/0C/4P
  • Total calories consumed: 1,922

Yesterday I increased JP’s macros to 61F/212C/155P or 2,017 calories. This is up almost 300 calories from the cut he was in. After doing a simple BMR calculation it seems that it’s possible he wasn’t even hitting his basic nutritional needs before and that would explain why it was so easy for him to lose weight with macro tracking/flexible dieting and running a few times a week. He weighed 180.2 yesterday morning after a week of travel and tracking to the best of his ability. This was the third week in a row that he weighed this weight, which is why we increased his macros again. This morning he woke up and weighed 179.6. He stepped on the scale, looked at it and looked at me. I said how does it feel eating more food and maintaining like you are. He didn’t really know what to say other than now he feels a little fluffier than before, but he also feels pretty good.

Nutritionally, my goals for him are around 2,500 calories for a maintenance since he wants to run 3 to 4 times a week for a total of 9 to 15 miles a week. Once we start adding weightlifting into the plan, we’ll move into a bulk and increase his nutritional needs for muscle development and building. It’s interesting seeing how his body reacts to things, since I’ve been watching my own in both a maintenance and now as I transition into a cut. We talk about how he feels with the food and how he can create macro dense foods.One of his concerns is that he’s “small”, but like so many of us he didn’t realize that he didn’t need to keep losing weight, but maybe shifting focus to something like lifting to grow or maintenance would’ve been a way to be healthy. He kept thinking there must be fat still on my body, and yes, there is, he’s also experiencing some loose skin issues. It’s no where near as bad as me and it won’t be that way, but that’s another reason he decided to stop losing and just work on maintaining for now.

While yesterday he leaned toward liking simple carbs through Oreos, biscotti and ice cream; he does try to incorporate veggies and lean meats into his day. Similarly to me, he eats different things every days, however, unlike me – he doesn’t really plan much. Yesterday, he realized around 2 pm  that he still had about 1,000 calories left to eat, which is why he went for Oreos. It’s also why he finished off with a protein shake, nothing wrong with that at all, but loose planning can help ensure that all goals are met or are close to being met.

As I continue to cut for season and he continues to add nutrition to his daily consumption, I’m excited to see how we both can grow and develop in the process. Learning how our bodies work and how we can push them.

It’s going to be an exciting fall to say the least.

❤ Cristina

Sarah Lynn Fitness Cookie Challenge: Fudge Brownie Cookies

The last cookie kicked off the second week of prep and this cookie is helping close the third week of prep. It’s also perfect timing because again, JP is home to help me enjoy this one.

Today’s cookie is a fudge brownie cookie and while the macros are already amazing, some slight adjustments made them even more macros friendly.

To keep with the first two batches, I made two HUGE cookies, but different than the first two, these are much more cakey. I can get down with cakey. When I was checking on the batch I called JP over to see if he wanted them soft and cakey or a bit crispy, but cakey in the middle. We decided on soft and cakey all around. So many good decisions right there.

Notes on this recipe:

  • It calls for chocolate protein powder, I used Frosted Chocolate Cupcake – it’s a whey casein blend, this I believe made the batter a little thicker, which made me adjust the wet ingredients.
  • As stated above, I did add a tablespoon and a half of water to the batter so I could combine it well.
  • I followed the weight measurements of the ingredients and not the spoon measurements, this I believe probably made a difference. For example: 45g of the applesauce I had was only 2T not 3T like the recipe calls for, but since I picked a method I stuck with it. This may have also contributed to needing a tiny bit of water.
  • Instead of stevia, I used splenda –  I don’t think this impacted the recipe.
  • I also used all purpose flour instead of oat flour because of what I have on hand and I wasn’t going to attempt to grind down oats. Using regular flavor made this recipe not gluten free, but for me thats ok.
  • My oil of choice was coconut oil and surprisingly it didn’t provide an overly coconut-y taste to these cookies.
  • Probably because I needed to add a little bit of water, the dough was sticky, so maybe put a little flour on your hands if you notice the same about your dough/batter so that you can easily roll and transfer to a baking sheet.


HOLY CHOCOLATE-Y GOODNESS. Between the cocoa powder and the chocolate protein powder the smell in the bowl was overwhelming. The recipe also calls for chocolate chips, we did leave these out so spare the macros. If you have the wiggle room – keep the chips in because you can’t go wrong with chocolate, but I wonder how this would be with M&M’s of peanut butter chips because we all know I have a ridiculous stash of candy in the freezer to add to desserts.

With the slight changes the macros for each cookie were:3.8F/21C/4.7P


Hers: 1/2T of dark chocolate dreams

His: 1/2T of espresso nib peanut butter 

JP thought it was a little chewy, but he followed that up with we should’ve eaten them fresh from the oven. So really are they chewy or does he just like warm cookies? I liked the cakey, chewy-ness of them. Definitely a would make again cookie. Peanut butter is definitely my top out of the three so far, but the fudge brownie cookie is solid second. 

I can’t wait to tackle the next recipe and see what Sarah has in store!

Coming Home Bikini Prep Series: Post 10 “Week 3 Mid-week Full Day of Eating”

The other day I said that if some of you were interested I would do a full day of eating during this week. Typically those in competition prep are cutting fat by steadily lowering their nutrition. So please keep that in mind when looking at this post. I am also toward the end of Week 3 of prep and these won’t be my macros during the whole time.

Breakfast: 7:08 am

Egg white bowl

  • 9T of egg whites (1/2 cup +1T) cooked
  • 1T of fat free cream cheese (store brand)
  • 1/3 cup cacao cashew butter Bearnaked Granola
  • 1T brownie batter D’s Natural’s almond butter
  • dash of sprinkles

Total Macros: 14.1F/27.6C/26.5P

This is one of my favorite ways to have granola with breakfast. It also helped me finish a bag and make some space in the pantry. I say this a lot, but here it goes. Egg whites are sweet when there is no yolk, so they pair well with other sweet things like peanut butter, almond butter or jelly or jams. I don’t eat things I don’t like, so before you ask: yes-it’s good, yes-you should try it and I’m sorry you may think it’s gross, but you don’t need to eat it :]

Meal 2: 11:00 am


  • 1 packet of steel cut plain oats from Better Oats
  • 1T of sugar free salted caramel syrup

Macros: 3F/21C/5P

I keep this brand at the office because it’s very inexpensive for the box of 10 bags. The steel cut and rolled oats that I have at home measure out for a 40g serving or about 1/2 cup. That’s what I typically eat when it’s for an actual meal. This was more like snack time to make sure I had something to eat before heading to the gym around noon.

Lunch: 2:10

Big Ass Salad

Macros: 3.5F/31.5C/32.4P

  • 1 whole bag of Italian blend salad mix (romaine lettuce and red cabbage) – about 3 servings
  • 95g of sliced strawberries
  • 62g of blueberries
  • 75g of grape tomatoes
  • 4.15 ounces of chicken breast (not seasoned)
  • 1T of Salsa Ranch Bolthouse Farms dressing

By now you all know that I actually like salad, but I also believe that for a salad to be good for you it needs to be nutrient dense. I add berries to my salad because they have a lot of awesome micro-nutrients like fiber and vitamins while allowing for volume. When available I also add mushrooms, onions and peppers because again, they add volume and for me are filling.

Meal 4: 4:15pm

Fit Joy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bar

Macros: 7F/25C/20P

As many of you know, I have an hour commute to work and in the summer with the popularity of the Cape traffic can be hit or miss even if you leave a few minutes different than your normal schedule. I try to be flexible and I keep a few protein bars in my purse – each with different macros so I can accommodate the rest of my eating for the day and adjust as necessary. I knew I was going to eat this bar, but wasn’t exactly sure when. Lately, I have been eating a snack of sorts on my car ride home because I’m not eating dinner immediately. I’ve been going for a walk before dinner so I can hit my 10K steps during prep goal. The car ride snack helps get me to dinner.

This bar had a great flavor, but the texture was definitely a miss. It’s my second FitJoy bar and I loved the first one so I’m kind of disappointed, but they do have a number of flavors I need to try so I’m sure I can continue to find another one or two that I like.

Dinner: 6:46 pm

Turkey Tacos and roasted veggies

  • 4 ounces of 94/6 lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp habanero hot sauce
  • 2T diced green chilies
  • 1/4 cup jalapenos
  • 1/3 serving of Cilantro Avocado Bolthouse Farms Dressing (full serving is 2T)
  • 1 white corn tortilla
  • 3 ounces of broccoli and cauliflower mix*
  • 75g of yellow summer squash *

*veggies roasted using cooking spray not olive oil

Macros:8.9F/ 24.3C/30.8P

I do eat beef, I promise I do, but in moderation. Ground turkey is typically on sale along with chicken so these are the two lean meats I prefer to eat. I also eat a lot of tuna (on the go packets are life savers) and deli chicken or turkey breast – surprisingly there are a few brands that are lower in sodium, don’t have nitrates, super low in fat and make for an excellent sandwich or wrap. I had texted JP earlier in the day to tell him there was ground turkey in the fridge and that we could make burgers or tacos or make burrito bowls if his macros allowed for it. He opted for tacos, so we taco Thursday’d!

Dessert: 8:30 pm

Protein Ice Cream Sundae

  • half a serving of Elle’s protein ice cream (we used salted caramel Quest) – recipe here
  • 1 serving of mocha chip Halo Top
  • half a Peanut Butter Lenny and Larry’s Complete Cookie
  • sprinkles

Macros: 9.2F/42.4C/25.4P


Remember, I plan my meals ahead of time for the most part, so the L&L cookie was already planned. Before I knew JP would actually be home last night, I was planning on having the other half of the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, but I figure I would let him pick the cookie and we could split it. I had more carbs at the end of the day then I realized – I know such a terrible problem to have, so I figured a serving of Halo Top was the way to pad my dessert. I also realized that I still had a good amount of protein too. JPs macros weren’t as accommodating and I suggested that I make Elle’s protein ice cream for him to try. He really does eat anything so he was willing to give it a go. e then learned that we only had enough cashew milk left for one serving so he kindly said he would share and then have a scoop of another protein as a shake to hit his protein goals. God I love that man!

Second dessert: 9:08 pm

S’more Goldfish Grahams – 10g or a 1/3 of a serving

Macros: 1.5F/7.6C/.7P

Well, after first dessert I still had carbs and fat left over and there’s not a whole lot that I keep in the house that have those two macro-nutrients in them in lower amounts. I’m a lover of carbs and I probably have the most ridiculous carb collection ever in my pantry and the first thing that came to mind was goldfish – a full serving has only 1p so I knew I would really go over the nutrient since I was already at 0p left for the day. This flavor also has about 4.5F and 23C for the full serving. I knew a portion of a serving would help me hit carbs and being a few grams under on fat doesn’t really bother me. No the left over grams of nutrients don’t roll over like cell phone data or minutes, but I’m also not going to sit there an eat butter to hit a fat goal.

Final macros for the day according to My Fitness Pal:

  • Consumed: 47F/179C/141P
  • Macro difference: 3F/1C/-1P
  • Calories consumed: 1,638
  • Calorie goal: 1,730

Now if you do the math, you’ll see a difference in actual consumed calories. fat has 9 calorie per gram and both carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram. I ate 1,703 calories. While I double check the macro-nutrients in My Fitness Pal, some items change caloric value because the app may take fiber calories out or alcohol sugar calories out. I count macros and not calories for this reason.

We rudely interrupt your programming…

Ignore the haters they say. They’ll go away eventually. 

Then you have those who actively will email you while you’re pleasantly sleeping and dreaming about leg day 

It’s not an exaggeration that I get some pretty mean and nasty messages. So here’s one I saw during my morning pre-leg walk. 


❤ Cristina 


Coming Home Bikini Prep Series: Post 9 “You will always have something to learn and relearn”

I’ve done this before. I’ve been macro counting since June 2014. I’ve been lifting since June 2014 too. However, until two weeks ago, for the past nine months I wasn’t in control of my when my macros of workouts were adjusted. I did have the opportunity to suggest exercises to be included, but aside from that I couldn’t tell you anything about the method that determined my nutrition or my lifting and cardio schedule. The second however, and it’s an important one, my body is different now then when I first starting tracking and lifting and it’s different than it was last October, so realistically, whatever method that was used doesn’t really matter now any way.

While this past check – in wasn’t completely accurate because of the amazing swelling that I have going on – that is slowly going away as the weather gets itself in check, I do feel a change needs to be made nutritionally.

My BMR or basal metabolic rate is between 1,297 to 1,380 depending on the calculator I use – this means at rest I am burning between 1,297 and 1,380 calories just sitting on my butt. My TDEE is 2,006 calories – this what I burn in a 24 hour period. There’s a lot that goes into weightloss – yes, it’s calories in and calories out, but there are a other things that can impact it. But for this argument just looking at the math, I would lose a pound every 9.6 days with the macros I have listed below.

I started at 127.2 and after the first week I was 127.0. For week 1, I had mentioned that I was increasing my protein and I did. I increased it by 10g, but another however, I’ve read more about protein consumption and utilization and minimally, I can consume 2.4g per kilogram I weigh. There’s a difference between recommendation and what an individual body actually needs – we are all different.

1 pound equals .45 kilograms… 127 pounds is 57.6 kilograms… 57.6 kilograms times 2.4 = 138.24g

For my sanity, I’m rounding to 140. So my protein consumption went from 125g in maintenance to 135g, and finally hanging out at 140g.

My carbohydrates hit 210g during maintenance, but when I tried to figure out how nutrition was being added in relation to my workouts and daily activity there was no answer to be found. While 210g is great for daily consumption and it’s possible I could’ve gone higher, this is problematic because there’s potential that even though my cut for competition will be higher than last time, I may need to decrease these pretty drastically at first. For the past week my carbohydrates were at 200g daily and I did my best to hit them while my appetite was hit or miss with the weather, but unless my interest is increasing my cardio – which it really isn’t, these will be decreasing into my 3rd week because I was essentially in a maintenance. Since protein has increased to 140, I’m essentially transferring some carbohydrate grams to bulk that number as well as eliminating some from daily consumption. My new carbohydrates will be 180g. When carbs start to get lower, I will add in two higher carbohydrate days for leg day – Sunday and Wednesday. These higher days include an increase in your carbohydrates while decreasing fat. This is considered carb-cycling.

Fat during maintenance was 50g daily, and I had the same issue determining how we arrived at this number. At this time, I am not interested in decreasing my fat because you need fat for progress, so daily fat consumption will be 50g with an adjustment for high carbohydrate days when those become implemented. Again, for higher carbohydrate days fat is a reallocation of macros, not an elimination of calories, the cycle is actually for an increase in calories for the day.

Macro breakdown going into Week 3 – 50F/180C/140P or 1,730 calories

When you look at the macro breakdown, it looks like a big drop. I eliminated 30C, but increased 15P. Calorically, this is only a 60 calories difference. If I was maintaining at almost 1,800 calories, there’s a chance that to start losing competitively, while still fueling for lifts small cuts are necessary and they may become larger later. I’m a smaller body now and it takes less to maintain this body, but it certainly will take more effort to cut.

This is also means that to prevent adding too much cardio or overworking, my lifts are becoming more strategic and so is my gym time overall. How can I train smarter and hard without spending hours in the gym?  Cardio is a last resort to cut fat and shouldn’t be over utilized until necessary i.e. the last few weeks of prep. This week is the last week of my strength block and then I’ll start a three week volume block where I’ll focus on lower weight and more reps, but larger lifts like back squat and deadlifts will stay in a structure that allows them to stay heavy.

My lifts are the same this week for my strength block as they have been the past two weeks  with 6 days of lifting. Cardio is also the same: 20 minutes of high resistance steady, 15 minutes of Tabata and 15 minutes of intervals. Daily movement: 10K steps with an increase step goal 15K on my rest day through normal Saturday activity like running errands or going for a walk around the neighborhood.

Do I know how I will respond to these macros? Not at all. Do I still think it’s a ton of food – yes. I eat in volume and I can still have fun with these macros. But ultimately competing isn’t about being healthy and necessarily enjoying everything around you in the short period of time that you are getting ready for the stage. I hope that those who follow me know that. It is a body competition and there’s a mentality you need to create to be able to handle it. My last season was great and I did enjoy it, but at a higher body weight that meant my macros were a bit different than they will need to be this season.My metabolism is different now too.

Many competitors rebound after a show with binging or the inability to not be on a strict diet, but some don’t have an issue either.Some reverse – like I did after the Cutler and some don’t. The whole process is about learning your body. What works and doesn’t, what you like and don’t like. If these macros work well, then they stick around until they don’t work. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. If they don’t work, I will adjust my workouts first to prevent cutting nutrition to low.

It’s ok to need to have trial and error. It’s ok to need to learn something you know all over again and maybe dig a little deeper.

Week 3! Let’s go!

❤ Cristina

Coming Home Bikini Prep Series: Post 8 “Is it Fall Yet? Where’s My PSL?”

Fun facts:

First day of fall: Thursday, September 22nd – a little more than a month away

First day Starbucks releases the beloved pumpkin spice latte: TBD, but last year was within the first week of September

Massachusetts is in a drought. This week we were given heat advisories throughout the state. Temperatures were in the 90s with a heat index in the low 100s. The humidity ranged from low-70s to mid-90s, but mostly in the 90s.

This week has been all over the place. My workouts were strong and I’m really happy with where they are this block and where they will be going. My workouts aren’t the problem. My nutrition has been kind of eh because my appetite has been shot, the heat can do that to you. The humidity has been the number one factor for making this week miserable. I’m not alone and I know this. Thursday morning was the worst. I woke up at 2:30 unable to fall back asleep, so I got up and started meal prepping veggies because what would I do with the time. At 4:30 I started to get ready for the gym and I was there just before the open. I was 131 pounds when I woke up, 133 after the gym and 132 point something before I went to bed that night. Hydration hit 250 ounces and I monitored my electrolytes so I would get a headache from diluting them through sweating and water consumption. Thursday was the most miserable day.

Now that the bitching is out of the way, the positives this week:

  • I hit my back squat pyramid with the same weight for the second week in a row. 160 pounds felt pretty good.
  • I increased my deadlifts slightly in my lifting pyramid and hit 3×4 for 120 pounds.
  • Macros weren’t terrible all things considering –  I had no appetite and the swelling made me feel sick when I ate – I always hit or came close to my protein goal.
  • I hit at least 10K steps a day, which is 2,500 more than my goals out of competition prep, so for me it’s definitely a challenge.
  • I started Fitbit challenges to engage with, connect and encourage some of my followers and we’ve been having too much fun with the chat feature, there are three running this weekend.
  • I had the chance to meet one of my favorite YouTubers – Yami Mufdi – during a bootcamp she hosted and it was awesome.
  • I finished writing my volume block that I will start week 4.
  • I had the chance to explore a new city and pick up some tasty things that fit my macros.

This morning’s check in was pretty good. Here are some photos that I took from the video I made.

My weight is up 1.2 pounds from last week, but as you’ll see from the lower portion of my stomach, I still have swelling and bloating from the weather. It’s slowly going away and what matter’s is that I’m doing what I need to and trying to accept the things I can’t change – like the weather.

From this front pose, you can see that my abdominals are cooperating, but from my right side (left of this photo), there’s swelling below my belly button and it’s most visible by my hip bones.

This photo shows the swelling better because it is a profile. I’m confident that as the weather gets its shit together that I won’t be holding water as much and the swelling will subside.

My glutes and hamstrings are doing well and I’m continuing to train legs twice a week through this next week of my strength block and into my volume block. I will probably continue to train legs twice a week for all of prep.

I’m mostly ridiculous, but I’m liking what’s happening with my arms. In many cases, I just need to put my arm straight and I can start to see definition, which is exciting. I’m also starting to have slight muscle separation in my legs – another thing that is exciting for me.

Another muscle group that I believe I need to work on for competition in October is my back. I spoke with my friend Ally and she agreed, so I’ve been doing two back days as well and going into my volume block more back exercises focus on the lateral muscles and mid back. I do have loose skin in my lower back, which you will see more in the photo following this, but I think I can definitely make some improvements for this season.

It was a tough week because like I mentioned before the humidity and heat impact me a lot. They impact everyone, but since I’m still healing at only 11 weeks post surgery, it’s a big deal. I’m following my workouts and my nutrition plan, sprinkling some magic and taking a leap of faith. This is going to be a good season even with these challenges.

Someone told me the other day that by sharing my perspective, especially with water retention and swelling it’s been helping them get through the week too. I’m glad that this can put into perspective how crazy the body is. How it can be temperamental and frustrating, but how it can also do amazingly awesome things.

I have 10 weeks until peak week. Tomorrow starts week 3. Bring it on.

Some other photos from my week:

Italian Car Day

Snacks travel

Pancake Monday

I’ve been trying some new BCAAs

I saw the coolest sunset on a walk this week

Waffle Wednesday was excellent

Starbucks remains to be amazing

I may have appreciated my back a few times this week

Square Organics sent me some of their bars to try – Cherry was excellent! *discount information in About section

National S’more’s Day was celebrated in the best way

Thursday breakfast was simple because it was a rough morning


I tried a new treat

I picked up another sugar cookie – plans for Sunday!

This was my weight at the end of the day on Thursday – fluffy as can be

Stuffed peppers for the win

Friday back day was pretty damn good even though I was exhuasted and not feeling the workout

Timehop also reminded me that even with the bloating and swelling, this week is better than week last year. I am far ahead of where I was.



Mint French Meltaway

Flowers I saw at the Prescott Park in Portsmouth

Yami, Me and Lateaka

Saturday night macro cap of Week 2

I hope everyone had a great week. I can’t wait to get started tomorrow.

❤ Cristina