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

Category Archives: Commentary

Yesterday closed out the end of an era – the close of the 7th week of my reverse diet post-surgery. I’ve mentioned before that I started a reverse diet into maintenance as soon as the Cutler was finished, but my surgery was scheduled for 3.5 weeks into it. While I was on bed rest my macros were adjusted to 1. the amount of movement I would be doing and 2. the amount of food that I could handle. My appetite wasn’t truly lost, but a few medications prescribed made me feel nauseous. I also had more nap times than a kindergarten. At 13 days post-surgery I was cleared to go back to the gym and start incorporating upper body lifting. We started increasing my nutrition at this point.

Yesterday when I did my photos and documentation for my start of prep, I weighed in at 127.2 and had been consuming 50F/210C/125P. To start prep I have adjusted my macros to 50F/210C/135P. I increased protein because it keeps me full and I also like protein. Many use .8g to 1.0g of protein per pound they weigh, but you can go up to 1.5g of protein per pound you weigh depending on your goals.There is a lot of conflicting information about protein consumption and what you should consume. All the articles I have read, have said that protein is helpful for weightloss in general and that the lower your daily calories the higher the percentage should be dedicated to protein. The articles also talk about the importance of protein for muscle recovery and muscle loss prevention.The only definitive answer I have found about protein consumption is  from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans – 10 to 35% of calories should be dedicated to protein and factors to determine can include: age, gender and activity level. So yeah, I increased protein for the upcoming week because I think my body won’t mind and my activity level is changing.

So here’s a brief recap of last week. I think I had a pretty good time with my meals and I’m excited to see what I can do this week and the 12 succeeding it. Bring on the cut!

❤ Cristina


First outdoor run of the summer and since surgery

Bella got a new dress!

We went and saw Finding Dory

Post-Movie Fro-Yo was a success

Sock game strong

Vascularity coming through!


Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake

Drinks with dinner

Waffle Wednesday was glorious

I worked on some posing

And had to make sure my butt still looked okay

I finished another pint of Halo Top and Keebler helped make it awesome with Birthday Cake Cookies

Because carbs are life

The last cupcake

I thought it was vanilla, nope -angel food and strawberry

Sprints were on point: 7:30 average pace

Some new goodies and some old goodies


May have enjoyed this grilled cheese and bacon more than I should have

The weigh in before prep

It’s like the abs want to come out

Lenny and Larry stuffed with Forte Gelato ches make every thing better

That new FitJoy bar tastes like peanut butter fudge

Bell was questioning the statues around the garden

I tried a roasted asparagus and feta salad

Bella helped me eat this sugar cookie from the farmer’s market



Today finishes my sixth week into my reverse diet since surgery. For those of you who are new around here, a reverse diet is the intentional increase in nutrition to your daily consumption. After my show in April, we had slowly been increasing my daily nutrition weekly based off of how I had been maintaining and reacting to the macros we increased. I got 3.5 weeks into my reverse and was maintaining before I had my abdominoplasty or tummy tuck or excess skin removal  – whatever you’d like to call it.

Since surgery put me on bed rest, which for me went from going lifting 6 days a week with 50 minutes of cardio to nothing at all, I spoke to Alaina about a nutrition plan so we could adjust my macro nutrients accordingly. Another concern I had was loss of appetite. Hitting macros perfectly or close to is like a puzzle, but since I knew I would be sleeping a lot and some of the medications I was prescribed would effect my appetite, I wanted to make sure my eating goals were also reasonable and not a mind fuck.

I was cleared to go back to the gym at 13 days post surgery. Again, working with my coach and bringing information from surgeon to determine workouts appropriate. This meant a lot of upper body in the beginning, then adding lower body and walking at 5 weeks post surgery adding hard cardio like running and HIIT back into m schedule. As soon as I got cleared to go back to the gym, we started increasing my macros again to meet the level of activity.

Last week after checking in with Alaina both fat and carbohydrates were increased while protein remained at roughly 1g per pound I weigh. She initially wanted to eliminate my 10 minute HIIT session, but it’s only 10 minutes and I asked if keeping it in meant more fat, then let’s do it. So last week I hit the 200 club – eating 200g of carbohydrates daily. My fats were also the highest they’ve been in a while. Overall calories – which I don’t track, but obviously are associated with macro nutrients – are higher and are almost as high as they were when I was cutting back in October at 157 pounds, they’re just shifted – less protein, more fat and carbs. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. I love food, there’s no doubt about it and I make my treats work with my goals, but I can’t remember the last time I intentionally ate this much food and had it working with me, not against me.

So this week, I had a little more fun with my flexibility, but I also added volume where necessary. So let’s recap with pictures.


Pesto Bacon on Foccacia from Cake Shop Cafe

Orange Creamsicle Cupcake from Cake Shop Cafe

Waffle Wednesday with a chocolate stack

Big ass salad trying out new hot sauces

S’mores and a S’mores Porters


Egg white bowl with maple pecan granola



Egg white and yogurt omelette

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake from Kadoodles Kupcakes

Mocha Espresso cream cheese on whole wheat toast with an egg from Birchtree

Check in photos – Weight: 127.6, Waist: 25.25″

This upcoming week is the last week before prep starts AND we’ve increased my carbs again, so I’m at 210g daily for the week. I can’t wait to see how I handle the 10g or extra 50 calories, however you count. I’m also super excited to see how my body can change with a higher macro count during prep. Last season my calorie totals didn’t fall below 1400 and I lost 20 pounds over 17 weeks. The focus will be more on leanness rather than weightloss, but I’m confident that we can keep food intake higher in relation to how lean I am now and what I can handle post-surgery.

I have some fun things planned for this week like shrimp tacos and a cheese danish for an office welcoming we’re hosting for a new member of my team. Remember that coworker with the brownies? Yeah, she told me we were having a welcoming breakfast-y thing and asked me to pick out my pastry. FUCKING LOVE THIS WOMAN. She also knows it’s my last week before prep and we’re getting cupcakes together at a bakery near our office that I’ve never been to. She knows the way to my heart and understand the short term restriction.

Cheers to Saturday night and the upcoming week!

❤ Cristina


My next session with my therapist is on Tuesday. I’m not sure if I’m going every week, but he knew that he didn’t want to wait longer than two weeks between our first two sessions. Fine by me.

At our first session he gave me some homework. He wanted me to email him a list of things that made me anxious. I do have anxiety and I do get panic attacks, but it also takes a lot to trigger them. Anxiety is a side effect of my PTSD. He told me the list should be at least three ideas or events that trigger me, but no more than 10. I came up with 8.

I’m writing this post because I’m trying to get better at just deleting a negative comment and blocking the user. I think that’s a good step toward eliminating the haters as he called them. Just erase their message and move on. Well, not all the comments are directly negative and I’m not 100% positive that they all need to be deleted, but in some way I think something needs to be addressed with those comments. Number 6 on my list is: people projecting their own insecurities on me by pointing out weight issues  (too thin or too fat) or trying to compare their bodies to mine (why doesn’t mine look like yours if we’re the same height…). Number 8 on my list is: when people point out parts of my body that they believe to be imperfect (my scar from surgery) or provide backhanded compliments by telling me how thin I am, how they don’t believe the person in old photos is me or “I looked good before.”

It’s clear that my number 6 and number 8 go hand in hand. The others on the list are related to perception, ability and things that are out of my control, but impact me or the relationships I have. I’m bringing up 6 and 8 specifically because there have been some comments lately that I have fired back at because they are not compliments at all, but in reaction to my feisty-ness the commenter becomes defensive telling me I can’t take a compliment. Here’s an example of a comment that I didn’t respond to at all: “you looked beautiful the way you were…”

I have said it so many times, MY BEAUTY HAS NEVER BEEN AN ISSUE. SIZE DOES NOT EQUATE BEAUTY. There are days and events and clothes that I can remember in technicolor that made me feel like a GODDAMN PRINCESS. I felt beautiful. I felt perfect. There are moments in my history that at every size I have felt beautiful and I have felt ugly. You can be miserable at any size. I think the fact I am trying to emotionally connect to my physical body says that even the girl in the next squat rack doesn’t necessarily have her shit together.

The rest of that comment: “…But you did it for you not the world! Congrats and it’s nice to see you want to improve yourself.” WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF COMPLIMENT IS THAT?! I’m going to tell you that you didn’t need to change yourself, then I’m going to say that it’s great that you did it because you wanted to, but I’m going to close with I’m giving you my approval for wanting to be a better version of you.This journey has always been about me and not seeking approval of others until recently.

Now you don’t need to tell me I’m over thinking this comment. I know I am, but that’s my point. Lately, these one off comments have made me question if I should’ve continued my journey. The answer is YES, OF COURSE I SHOULD’VE. I wasn’t at a healthy weight before. I was healthier than I had been and I was always looking to improve, but I’m 5’4″, my weight wasn’t healthy. I also wasn’t happy and more importantly, I wasn’t comfortable. These comments have made me question if I’m too thin. The answer is NO, I’m at a good weight for my height and I’m maintaining pretty damn well. An example: JP’s mom met me when I was about 150 pounds and we don’t see each other too often. So for her it seems like every time she does see me I’m more compact, thinner, insert whatever word you want to here. Her perception is that I’m thin because she never knew me to be thin before.

I know this her perception; however, prior to surgery she looked at me and said “do you really need surgery? The skin can’t be that bad.” I proceeded to lift my shirt up in the kitchen and move my belly button to the side. I may have also bluntly told her that having sex with her son was embarrassing for me because this moves when I’m on top. Well, it doesn’t anymore, but it did and I hated myself for it. My point with this little story is that perception is huge. They way we perceive the photos online dictates how and what we comment. What we don’t realize is how our comments will be perceived or reacted to. I’m sure the action of lifting my shirt was shocking to her, but I believed it to be necessary to get my point across.

When people tell me that “other women would kill to have my before body” the voice in my head says, I’m sure they would, but I didn’t, so I don’t. Whether it’s meant to be or not, this is a put down. If not to me, then to others who aren’t me. You are comparing me to women I’ve never met and I’m sure the commenter is sitting there comparing their own body to mine. It shouldn’t, but this makes me feel horrible. Like why am I so different to accomplish the goals I have set for myself. Partly, another side effect of my PTSD is obsession. My therapist said that this is most likely why I am capable of goal setting and being successful. I’m an all or nothing person, but I also benchmark myself and set both small and large goals. He also said this is why my career has been successful and I’ve progressed well there too.

Recently, I was asked what do I do when I can’t find the motivation to workout. I was honest and said that doesn’t really happen to me often if at all. My motivation to workout isn’t the issue. My stress and anxiety impact my desire to binge eat, it also makes me want to sleep sometimes. I also told her that when I can tell the urge to hard core nap or the desire to binge is coming on I’ll write down how I was feeling when the attack started, what was happening at the time as well and see if it was a trigger or something reminded me of a trigger. She also said she journals sometimes and she thought it helped too. I felt bad that I couldn’t help more than telling her to write everything down and talk to a therapist because that’s what I’m doing. I couldn’t help much more than that, but I saw a post from her today that proved to me that I may have helped more than I thought. My perception is that she needed more, but what she needed was an ear of someone who could be honest and say I don’t know how to help you, but I can listen and I hope that’s enough.

So we all need to work on how we perceive things, but also what we say.Like I said, I’m trying to get better about deleting and blocking the negativity out and reminding myself that I am the healthiest I have ever been and that these comments negative, directly or not shouldn’t impact how I like myself. I also need to remind myself that the comments that are backhanded are just the insecurities of others that don’t know how to keep their mouths shut. If they’re something to me as a stranger on the internet, they’re probably saying things to real people around them too.

❤ Cristina

This post has two parts. The first was written before my first session with my new counselor and the second was afterwards.


I feel like I’m kind of going through the motions. I know I’m not alone in this. I’m not having an identity crisis, though, I wonder sometimes who I am. When I think of the labels I use for myself and the ones I used specifically this morning when talking to my co-workers, I find myself asking why these labels, why these words. I know very philosophical.

So here are some of the labels from just this morning:

  • fat Cristina
  • fit Cristina
  • fit girl
  • lifter
  • bikini competitor
  • runner

I am so much more than these labels. I know it, and I think many of us out there know that we are more than the buckets we put ourselves into. We preach YOU ARE MORE THAN THE SCALE! Or… YOUR FAT DOESN’T DEFINE YOU! These are both true, but looking at the list above makes me wonder why I don’t use other words to describe or define myself more often. Why does everything revolve around fitness.

I was fat Cristina and I am fit Cristina now, but aside from a lifter, a runner and someone who enjoys competing; I’m a writer, foodie, girlfriend, crier, jokester, adventurer, fundraiser. I’m even more than that list too. There are other sides to me and I know that to be true.

The time after prep was a time for adventuring. JP wasn’t here and I had time to explore and try new food and see new things. We were reversing from competition prep and I had even more flexibility. While I didn’t necessarily have more hours in the day, I felt like I did. More trips into Boston were made than ever, even though I had lived here for just over 4 years at that point. Since I have made it my mission to get to the city once a month – try a new restaurant and explore something. Learn something new. That’s where this deep investment in lifting and fitness started. I want to learn something new. I want a new challenge.

I know I’m having issues with coming to terms with my body; how small it is. Yes, small because before I only used the word big. I’m not big anymore. Seeing clothes fit differently or well is mind blowing. Many of us reach for larger clothes at the store out of habit, but it’s been almost two months of maintaining a three pound fluctuation, I was hoping to be more used to it by now. This aside, the physically feeling and connect is clearly disconnected. My capris this morning felt like they fit fine, but when I got into the office I realized that they were loose and at least an inch off of my stomach. I physically couldn’t feel this and now I’m thinking I may need a belt and new pants.

While the weightloss was a lot and could impact anyone mentally, I know that post surgery I’m having a harder time because I’m finally seeing how my hard work reflected, but I’m struggling to accept that I made this. I built this. I mentioned in my video last week that I had gone to therapy for other issues – life transition such as moving and family. Normal people ask for help when they need it. I also mentioned in my video that I had been told I would never accomplish my goals over and over again – in almost all aspects of my life. I told JP that this issue was a bigger issue than the weightloss. There’s something else making me feel this way – why can’t I give myself the credit I deserve for working this hard? Why does it feel like there’s more to prove.


“He swears like a sailor. We’re going to get along just fine.” That’s what I told Alicia after my session. Turns out I can talk and so can he. We talked for an hour and 45 minutes. I don’t know if he had that planned or not, but that’s how long we talked for. I don’t know where the time went.

So what it comes down to is this. There’s a lot more shit from the past coming up that I hadn’t anticipated. This journey started with wanting to get healthy because walking up stairs left me breathless and not in the sexy “oh he’s beautiful” kind of way. Running came into my life because I wanted a new challenge, something quantifiable. Lifting happened because I had found all these amazing women who were pushing and pulling more than their body weight. They looked fantastic and healthy and some of them competed. Some were powerlifters and some were bikini competitors. I only knew the myths about lifting, but I figured I could learn. It was a learning and growth opportunity. The last two years of lifting and eating and competing have been 100% about me. Which today I learned is also 100% okay. It’s good to be selfish, it’s not good to be self centered.

Starting this journey was completely about me. So let’s get a little more personal. I talk about JP and Bella and Hippo. I talk about lifting and eating and running and loosely about work. I never talk about my family because the truth is, they’re not much of a family. They are just people that I may share a few DNA cells with and that’s it. So many of us, say there’s someone that we cut out throughout our journey because of the toxicity that the relationship added. Well, it’s sad to say, but that’s my family.

I haven’t talked to my older sister in three years because the last “adult” conversation we had was one-sided with her telling me how selfish I was and how I wasn’t actually an adult. According to her, my selfishness was how I was able to focus on getting a master’s degree and loose weight, I wasn’t actually an adult with responsibilities. Now I could go on and list all of the responsibilities I had at 23 (car, rent, career, degree program..) but it’s a long ass list and I know many of my responsibilities have been yours or are yours… I know there are some college-y age folks out there. I know you are more than college students. Anyway, this is how many conversations were with her. Because I was taking my education, career and health seriously I couldn’t be anything else, but selfish. My therapist called her a hater.

I haven’t talked to my dad or younger sister in just over two years, a few months before lifting started. And really, it’s been almost two and a half years. The conversations with them were similar, “that’s great you got an A in that class, but your program isn’t that hard.” or…”Thirty pounds is a good amount, but you could lose more…” Yeah, no shit I could lose more, that’s what I’m trying to do. I went on to lose another 80-something pounds after this conversation. My therapist also called them haters.

I told my therapist that while they weren’t the reason I started to get healthy and lifting has never been about them, I felt now that I kind of wanted to be able to rub it in their faces. In some way, I want to say, “hey look at what I did, that I did on my own, that you said I couldn’t do.” I also told him that I didn’t think about them or that until after surgery. I also said that I feared that something I love because it’s quantifiable and constantly challenging is going to become about them.

Because he has friends who bodybuild and he was able to distinctly remember one friend, he asked me is it ever going to be enough. Will I always challenge my physique because the sport is so subjective. I told him, what I have told you all many times. The first show was about pushing myself, learning and challenging myself. Ultimately doing something that many aren’t willing or have the desire to do. I wanted to push my comfort zone. I wasn’t the smallest, but I wasn’t the biggest. My second show was about being better than the first and that we set moderate and what I believed to be realistic goals based on the nutrition planning and training. I admitted I blew them out of the water and that actually made me nervous for the upcoming prep because I didn’t do anything special. I listened to my coach and got involved in the process by asking questions and trying to learn more. I told him this show will be about being better than the last and I’ll have the opportunity to move around without the loose skin. I also told him that if you don’t have an internal cause for competing you will be sorely upset when you don’t bring home a little bronze lady. Yes, many want to win. Yes, I would love to be in the Top 10, but it’s a subjective sport – you don’t know who will show up to compete, you don’t know who the judges will be and you don’t know what they will want. If you can’t just be happy with crushing your last physique and smashing PR’s in the gym you will be disappointed every time a judge says the other competitors are better than you. If it’s your personal best, that needs to have some weight. That being said, he has no issues with me competing this fall.

So saying that out loud, why do I have trouble giving myself credit with having the best physique I’ve ever had, even when I was thin before. Even when I danced competitively or was a cheerleader. Why can I say that out loud and mean it for competition, but I can’t mean it for the rest of my life.

There have bee many voices this whole time telling me I would fail. I remember one time – the first summer I started bodybuilding – that someone actually posted about me on an online chat board. They shared my blog URL and talked about how annoying I am and how I would fail. In retaliation, I wrote a blog post and since they had shared my URL, I had 900 hits when it launched. My therapist said that it seems that while I’m in a new chapter of my story, there are other characters from past chapters coming back. Like I keep looking and rereading without realizing it. I keep questioning my own ability to be great.

I’ve said this to JP before – “why can’t people believe they can do great things on their own. Why do they need to believe that a higher power provided opportunity, why can’t they say they worked hard and accomplished something because they were dedicated and they were ambitious.” So yeah, why can’t I believe that with all of the voices telling me I couldn’t, I actually did.

We talked about some other things related to family that I had talked about with my last counselor that I believe are important for background, but not important enough to broadcast to all of you. We talked about my PTSD and the possibility that obsessive tenancies may or may not be something I’m exemplifying as part of that. We talked about anxiety, which I know I am not alone in having. Weightloss or not, 1 out 6 adults experience anxiety or depression according to the CDC. If impacts 16 million Americans every year.

I told him that I felt there were a lot of things to work through and I wanted help to problem solve through them, but that I don’t believe I need to be therapy my whole life. He questioned who told me I couldn’t problem solve – so that may be in my head from being told  “I can’t” so many times. I’m just assuming I can’t.

My goals going into this were: I want to feel happy about what I’ve accomplished. I see it in the mirror, I know it’s there, but physically feeling it and emotionally/mentally feeling it aren’t connecting. Aside from being given some homework to email him, I’ve thought about my goals for going to talk to him.

  1. I want to be able to emotionally feel connected to my physical accomplishments i.e be happy with my progress/weightloss/body
  2. I want to believe that I am capable, to be able to fully disconnect from the voices of haters past, and maybe haters present

We talked about his philosophy on therapy and I believe we’re on the same page. How do we partner together to figure out how to help me with this problem so I can move on and help myself. We haven’t decided how many sessions until the problem at hand is solved or fixed or whatever you want to call it, but we did determine that we should probably have another session within the next week to week and a half.

I felt good today and I felt better after meeting with him. It could’ve been the fact that I cried because I do that anyway, but I feel good about going to see him today and scheduling a second visit.

Well, it’s Taco Tuesday and it’s almost dinner time. So I’m going to get my taco on and try to put a few things away around the apartment. You know, try to make it more like home.

❤ Cristina









I talk about this often enough, but I’ll say it again. This adventure started as a blog. My background is in journalism and public relations, and as a professional I missed writing because it’s not in my daily job. Blogging is my outlet and when I got into fitness it made sense to document my journey. I’ve had an Instagram for about three years and it’s ALWAYS been my personal account. I see every comments, follow and like. I try to respond to everyone – which is a job in its own. I started adding some videos when I thought topics were too much to write out – because be honest, who reads that.

Someone yesterday said I’m relatable. Well, I fucking hope so because I’m a typical 27-year-old with a full time job who likes cupcakes and doughnuts and lifting and bikini competing. Maybe it’s not so typical because I’m really into fitness and health, and I don’t know many in person who feel the same, but I am relatable because I’m a real person. I share my journey as honestly as I possibly can. I share things that impact me like my long distance relationship with my boyfriend. I also share parts of me that many would keep secret like my history with binge eating and body dysmorphia from large weightloss and surgery.

I am a runner because I like to run. I enjoy 5Ks and sprinting. I am not the fastest, but that doesn’t make me less of a runner.

I am a lifter and have been for two years as of June 20th. I am a self-taught lifter. I Googled everything I wanted to know. I have also asked questions when I could lot determine answers. If you want to see the resources I’ve used check out the Educate Yourself tab above.

I am a macro counter and flexible dieter. I have been for two years since June 20th. Again, I researched eating styles and came across IIFYM when I decided to start bodybuilding and bikini competing in June 2014.

I am a bikini competitor and honestly, I think that makes me different than many who are looking to lose weight and just be healthy. The way I train and the way I eat is different than most. I am okay with that and I know the difference between stage lean and “off season” living. But I don’t think many of you do.

I like engaging with people globally about health and fitness and flexible dieting. Like I mentioned, I try to answer questions, but I also get frustrated when I answer the same ones over and over again. I also get frustrated when I’m asked subjective questions that are 100% dependent on the individual.

So, here’s what I am NOT:

1. I am not a trainer.

I started with cardio to get moving because that worked for me. Zumba was cardio of choice. I slowly added classes then running and then lifting. I coached myself for my first bikini competition, which took place fall 2014. I started working with Alaina Sanders in October 2015 after doing it on my own for quite some time. Partnering with Alaina meant that I could have someone else focus on my training while I focused on my career. Like cooking, I follow the directions and sometimes ask questions and make suggestions based on taste. I knew I could do the eating, but creating my circuits was time consuming.  That’s where working with Alaina has been extremely helpful.

If you want to know more about lifting and training, check out the educate yourself tab above or contact a trainer that you feel confident can help you with your goals. Look for someone certified who will give you time and patience. Ask questions and don’t just follow along because they say to. You should be educated to ask “what is this doing for my body.”

2. I am not a nutritionist.

I educated myself about flexible dieting and nutrition. I don’t believe in food timing, but some do. I believe in not labeling food as good or bad because it’s further creates a negative relationship with food. I eat enough fat, carbs and protein for my body. That’s what macro counting is – counting macro NUTRIENTS, not calories. Every nutrient has calories anyway. Working with Alaina hasn’t been an education about what I can eat, it’s just an education of how and when to adjust my nutrition. I have learned from her the benefit of refeeds during competition prep. ONE BIG SCIENCE EXPERIMENT – let me tell you. If you want to know more about IIFYM and refeeds, check out the Educate Yourself tab.

3. I am not a doctor/surgeon/nurse/medical professional

I know that sharing my experience with my plastic surgery and a standard abdominoplasty has educated a lot of you. It’s helped ease the mind of some who have been questioning it. I has also prompted many SUBJECTIVE questions. Here’s a short list of questions I get, that I DON’T feel comfortable answering and will always respond with talk to a doctor.

  1. Why is your scar so high?
  2. How long was recovery?
  3. How long do I need to say out of the gym?
  4. What garments should I wear?
  5. I’ve been cleared from the gym, what exercises should I start with?
  6. Do I need to take the full dose of pain killers that my surgeon prescribed?
  7. I’m having pain at my incision, what should I do?
  8. Why don’t I have drains like you?
  9. Why is your scar symmetrical and mine isn’t?
  10. I’ve lost a lot of weight, should I have surgery like you?
  11. How much was your surgery? I don’t want to spend too much.
  12. Will my insurance cover the surgery?

That’s just a few of the questions I have received. As you can imagine, I’m flattered that people feel comfortable enough to ask me because I think many don’t want to talk about their bodies usually. The flip side, I bet some of your are reading that list and saying “shit, how does she deal with these questions?” I ask myself that too.

If you want surgery, but are unsure, here is what I suggest:

  1. Talk to your primary care doctor. If you’re losing weight, there are chances you’ve been going to a general doctor already. Start the conversation with them. Ask their opinion and ask who they trust and respect in the community to conduct this procedure.
  2. Research the surgery and surgeons in your area. Look at their portfolios and their backgrounds. How long have they been a doctor, what is their specialty, where did they learn their skills?
  3. Call your insurance carrier and find out what the guidelines are for this procedure for your specific insurance policy. I didn’t qualify for coverage, but there are guidelines to meet to get it covered, so i understood why I couldn’t have mine covered.

If you’ve had this surgery and have questions:


You’ve invested a lot in this surgery. You’ve invested a lot in your body. It is not an inconvenience to call them and ask about the changes happening to your body. I followed my surgeons protocol to a T and that’s why I’ve been successful even with a small complication between days 5-8 post surgery. Your surgeon can tell you every thing you need to know, no matter how long it’s been since your surgery or the time of day. If they aren’t available right away, they have a nurse or staff that are. Utilize them. Take control of your body. They’re waiting for your call.

4. I am not a therapist

It’s true. I’m not. I am 100% a proponent of counseling/therapy. Sometimes the world is a lot to take on alone. I have and am seeking counseling for various issues from my parents being split to life transition like starting a new job as well as my own eating disorder. I am not in a position nor do I want to be to give advice about what there’s should do about their own relationship with food – other than seek professional help. If you don’t like the first person, break up with them and find someone new who meets your needs. You can find someone who specializes or you can speak to a generalist.

Insurance should cover behavior health, but you can also call your insurance carrier and ask what your policy allows.

I am a normal person who was interested in her own health enough to seek information and educate herself about what changes could be made in order to move forward. I also acknowledge when I can’t do it all on my own. That’s a huge thing for me. To say, I can’t and I need help. I will try to figure it out on my own as much as possible, but sometimes it’s okay to say, I can’t, but who has experience and expertise that can. That is why I have a trainer and that is why I am seeking counseling for body dysmorphia.

Do I want to be a trainer or licensed health coach one day? Definitely, it’s something that I am passionate about, but right now is not the right time and since I have NO EXPERIENCE other than what has worked for me, I don’t think I’m qualified to assist a lot more than help you understand the resources your reading and using.

I think social media is an excellent tool to create community and be inspired. But I think so many of us forget that everyone, or mostly everyone out there is a person who doesn’t have all answers and also has bad days.

Try to utilize my blog as much as possible.I share resources that have helped me, but remember that there is so much information out there – good and bad, you might need to invest more in yourself to learn what works for you. What works for me isn’t necessarily right for someone else and I am a bikini competitor, so my structure and training aren’t supposed to be for everyone. My why, my motivation – won’t necessary be yours, but I hope it sparks a fire in your to figure yours out.

❤ Cristina


I’ve shared about my work travel before (see DC post). I’ve showed some of the snacks I pack when I’m on airplanes and trains. But I don’t think I’ve ever written a comprehensive post with my hacks.

On Sunday, I posted that I was packing JP some snacks for his business trip. He checked into his flight to learn that it was at 8:30, not 6:30 pm. He was traveling to Phoenix, AZ, and his landing time was estimated for 4 am EST. Arizona isn’t the only place he will see this week. Over the week, he’s going to see Minnesota, Wisconsin – a trip to Toronto, Canada might be happening on Friday. For his trip, it’s not reasonable for him to pack fresh foods, but a few protein bars and carb snacks can help him supplement when he needs it.

So my hacks for when I travel.

Like I shared in my post from February linked above, I always research where I’m going. We all have different priorities in our journey’s when we’re traveling so you need to determine how you can stick to those priorities. I was traveling during competition prep whenever I hit the road from January to April, which meant working out and sticking to my nutrition plan were equally important.

This post is just about nutrition, how do I stick to it?

Here’s a list of my favorite travel friendly snacks and brands broken out into their categories:

Protein: Quest Single Serve

Not only are these already portioned out, TSA has no reason to question them. These are carry-on and checked baggage approved. They are a whey and casein blend, so keep that in mind if one of these doesn’t make your stomach happy. If you are checking a bag, it’s not unreasonable to pack protein in ziplock bags, but make sure to label them.

Aminos: Cellucor’s Alpha Amino 5 serving bag

This is great for airplane travel because it’s a resealable bag. Many amino powders are bright white, with a serving bag like this there’s no arguing what it is. It’s also a great amount for short travel. In a week, I can consume the whole bag.

Pre-packaged non-perishable food:

  • Any protein bars
  • DRY oatmeal – you can get oats through TSA as long as water hasn’t been added. If it’s something you want to eat in the airport, you should be able to find a microwave at a bistro-esq stand or if you ask nicely, sometimes the people at Starbucks will heat it up for you.
  • Starkist Single Serve Tuna – these don’t need to be chilled and since they’re air vacuumed, they can handle the travel.
  • Fruit + Ziplock – When I travel by train to the New York I usually pack an apple or banana, a napkin, a ziplock along with travel pack of WetOnes. I can eat the fruit, wipe my hands and use the ziplock for trash and store in my bag until I find a place to dispose of it.
  • Rice Cakes – I usually will wrap these in a shirt or two to prevent breakage.
  • Pancakes – Yes, I have traveled with pancakes that I have already made and packaged in tupperware. Pancakes as a solid aren’t an issue and because they’re baked they last a few days without a fridge. I’ve traveled with these in both my checked and carry-on bag.
  • Walden Farms Single Serve Pancake Syrup – I don’t like many of the Walden Farms products, but I do like some of the fruit and pancake syrups. It also happens that on their web site you can purchase travel packs. I usually put one of these in the tupperware along with my pancakes so it doesn’t get smashed open in my bag.
  • Single Serve Peanut/Nut Butter: D’s Naturals, Justin’s, Barney Butter, Wild Friends and Buff Bake all have excellent nut butter that can be purchased in single serve/sample packets. This is a great resource for fats and protein. I have traveled with these to add to my oatmeal as well as to toast or English muffins that I have been able to get at my hotel. Also, rice cakes partner well with these.

Perishable Food:

When traveling on a train it’s easy to carry my 6Pack Bag, obviously not everyone has one, but something insulated works just as well even if it’s not as big. On a train there’s no concern about ice packs, but when flying it’s another story. The trick is that gel ice packs can get through security if they’re frozen, if you know you will be hopping from airport to airport this may not be the most reasonable to keep your food chilled. I carry MANY ziplock bags with me when I fly. Their purpose isn’t just for trash storage, but once your through TSA it doesn’t matter if you have liquids or frozen liquids on you.

I have gone to Starbucks, bought myself a latte and asked for a large cup of ice. Many places will give you a cup of ice for free. The purpose: to put in a bag to chill your food. I will have my chicken in one bag, and then rebag it with ice and then use a third bag to prevent leaking. I know that sounds kind of wasteful, but I reuse bags that haven’t touch food.

Here’s what I have packed this way:

  • chicken breast + veggies
  • sandwiches
  • yogurt
  • snacking cheese
  • ground turkey
  • dinner sausage

If you’re limited on space in your carry-on and checked baggage, it can be hard to make room for food, but you can make up for it once you’re settled. If you call ahead to your hotel you can find out if guests have access to a mini fridge directly in the room. Some will come with the fridges available  and some hotels will require you to ask for one. During the Cutler, I was able to get a fridge in my room for an additional $10. This let me keep my food overnight for the day of the show as well as food/drinks post show.

When I was in Florida for work in May, my hotel came with a fridge already and this allowed me to keep a case of water stocked – because Florida is very hot in May and dehydration in those temperatures is dangerous. I also was able to go to the store and purchase yogurt, fruit, veggies and deli meat. I had already packed some pitas in my checked bag, but I was able to assemble a wrap with what I purchased once I was settled and relaxing in my room.

Aside from knowing your hotel, you should know your surroundings ahead of time too. Sometimes I book my hotel for work travel based on what it’s near. This allows me to figure out if I can run to the store or if I need to improvise with restaurants near me. When I determine that the on site gym facility isn’t up to par, this also helps me plan a gym location in the city I will be in.

Since I travel for work and not necessarily fun, I have been know to write down restaurants with food options for each. Again, DC and Florida were both big trips during competition prep, so it was important that I pre-determined restaurants and meals. I know many of you aren’t as strict with your tracking as I am, even in my off season, but peaking at menus and making a few calls prior to your trip can help make the decision a little easier. Many chain restaurants are required by law to provide nutrition information, so even if it’s hard to find online, you can email them for it. I have been able to obtain more in-depth information from places like Starbucks by sending a quick email explaining why I am reaching out.

Again, you need to ask yourself when you’re traveling: what are your goals. When you can list them out, you will be able to determine the steps you need to take.

Don’t forget, when flying you can search TSA’s web site for things you can and cannot bring through security. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions and get clarification.

Happy travels!

❤ Cristina