Day 169, Quote 15: “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”

No one is immune.

There are some things we just don’t grow out of, no matter how much we want to or how hard we try.

For some, it may be hard to look in the mirror and see the person standing in front of them instead of the person they used to be. For others, it may be how they think about their environment or how they respond to it. These may be things that we work on piece-by-piece by never fully let go.

I’m sure you’re noticing a pattern by now with how I talk with my clients and try to talk to myself. So I have no issues saying again, this is something I talk to my clients about often because this is also something I tell myself.

Behavior change is hard. I’ve talked about that before. You need to be ready for it. That being said, once you’ve felt good about making changes and you’ve practiced them, it can STILL be hard. Our behavior is a result of many things, it’s more than we “know”.

There’s two conversations going on in my head and I apologize if they get a bit jumbled, but they intertwine.

The first is reminding you that I was diagnosed with PTSD after college and just after I started losing weight. Around the time I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was also diagnosed with binge-eating disorder and anxiety. At the time I didn’t understand that multiple disorders could be diagnosed. Now, I know that it’s called concurrent disorders and it’s more common than we think.

I took medical leave almost two years ago because of my PTSD, and while I had been diagnosed four years before, I had never struggled with flashbacks, anxiety attacks and disassociation as intensely as I did when I started medical leave.

During college, food was a source of comfort for me like it is for many. It was part of socializing, it was part of coping, it was everything.

I know now that the behaviors I had that led to my weight gain were also related to my mental health. Honestly, as a college student, that wasn’t something I had considered before.

Seven months after college, I started to lose weight because I felt like I couldn’t control anything around me and this was something I knew was about my behavior. After I started losing weight, I had struggled with my eating in spurts around times of high stress, sometimes for a few days at a time, but never for longer than that. I never thought of this as more than stress-eating.

It was weird when my therapist at the time said I had binge-eating disorder. Our sessions revolved around growing up in an abusive household and how it impacted me in the present day. We talked about my relationships and the life I was creating for myself and making connections with previous experience and behavior to current experiences and behaviors. It was weird when a second therapist also agreed that I had an eating-disorder.

When I’m in good headspace, I don’t struggle with eating or decision-making or sticking to whatever “plan” I have at the time – that goes for sleep schedule, workouts, as well as eating – all aspects.

The second is telling you that I do feel good about where I’m at with everything. It’s been a weird year schedule wise, but I feel like I’ve gotten a good handle on adjusting priorities and creating a lifestyle that works for the current time.

Some of the feelings I’m going to talk about came to a surprise to me because I’m not 100% sure where they came from.

I’m also sure some things I will say may sound like they’re contradictory.

Let’s start at the beginning-ish.

In the beginning, when there were dinosaurs and I felt like change and progress were going to take forever – portion control meant eating smaller portions than what I had been, i.e. putting less on my plate and therefore in my mouth. This meaning was easy to follow because my daily diet was out-of-control and it wasn’t hard to just decrease my portions.

Eventually portion control meant making the decision to either follow the specific serving size on a package or to have a portion of that size, i.e. sometimes I have one serving, sometimes I have two, sometimes I have half a serving, etc. This was more structured and specific to my goals.

When I was competing, the above concept of portion control was a bit more meticulous. While I still chose to have one or two servings, I was more precise with my measurements.

So, I repeat – when I’m in good headspace – adherence isn’t hard for me. I’m deadline driven. I thrive in a goal-oriented environment. In isolation, the weight loss portion of my journey wasn’t hard because I had no issues sticking to smaller portions and moderating my food or working out – it was everything else in my environment that made it hard.

Today, even though I’m focusing on developing my strength and body re-composition, I’m allowing some flexibility with my eating, which means it might not be so perfect. Real life isn’t perfect. For me, I need to be flexible – I want to be flexible, otherwise, I think we find ourselves upset in every situation that we believe we have no say in or is out of our control.

I don’t have off-limit foods. I truly try to be flexible within macro-counting. I don’t eat foods I don’t like. I also try to change up my meals and be creative because you can’t live your life on a meal plan. When I’m not tracking everything, I have an 70/30 or 60/40 rule – track most things, but work on making good choices.

When JP and I go out to eat, I always get something I won’t cook for myself at home – like fish. I just can’t cook it the way they do at the restaurant. I’ll also get something slightly ridiculous like a burger with every topping on it because it’s not something I would do regularly anyway.

When we get dessert to bring home from local bakeries, my thought process is usually these will be here tomorrow and the next day and the next, so picking up the number we want is enough for now. We usually pick up two (depending on the size) and we split them. I pick one and JP will pick one. We don’t usually bring home more than we’re going to eat that day.

However, sometimes, when I’m trying to decide about something we don’t have often, I do struggle to finalize my choice. I may change my choice three or four times. I may say it out loud and talk to JP about it. Sometimes I go back to my first choice because there’s a reason I said it first, even if I don’t know it.

This is struggle I found myself in Sunday morning when we went to get bagels.

We always have bread in the house. Bread isn’t special. We make sandwiches a few times a week with whole grain bread and it’s satisfying enough – fiber, vitamins, all the things a grain should provide.

We always have English muffins in the house too. We probably eat them twice a week and since we don’t buy burger buns, sometimes we use plain English muffins in place of those. If you’re making a face at that, you don’t know the magic of a toasted English muffin and how it holds your burger patty and toppings in place!

We don’t keep bagels in the house. I’m not really sure why, but it’s probably because the size of the English muffin is enough to satisfy the craving and provide fullness without being too full. Sometimes a bagel can be too much.

There’s a bagel place by JP’s parent’s house called Gunther Tootie’s. The name always makes me giggle and their bagels fill me up for hours. I usually get a breakfast sandwich and that accounts for breakfast and a snack because it really is that filling for me.

I like to plan what I’m getting when I go out, but at 29, I also know what I like to eat. I know that I don’t like poppy seed bagels, but I do like lemon poppy seed muffins. I know that I like the idea of everything bagels, but I don’t like the mess they create so I never get them. Maybe I’m a pain in the ass, but I’ve talked to pickier eaters.

The conversation I usually have with myself and even with JP when he’s deciding is – sweet or savory? What am I trying to satisfy because let’s face it – this is about taste. From there I’ll ask what stands out that sounds good and what will keep you satisfied. I do ask myself about satisfaction in relation to fullness because I don’t like to be hungry after I’ve eaten a meal that I believe should’ve kept me full. I also ask about satisfaction in relation to taste because 1. I should like the taste 2. Food is also about experience. Everything has its place: fuel, experience, nutrients.

Yesterday morning I knew I wanted a bagel, obviously. I figured I would probably get a bagel sandwich, but I couldn’t decide between sweet and savory. My first choice was a bagel with salmon because we NEVER buy salmon. I then went down the rabbit hole of should I get this, or should I get a bacon, egg and cheese, maybe I should get a chocolate chip bagel and honey walnut cream cheese.


In my head, I probably went through five or six choices and then said to JP, “I think I’m going to get salmon on a rainbow bagel, and I’d like to bring home two bagels for us to have for breakfast this week.”

He looked at me and said “yeah, we could do that.”

So, I ordered a rainbow bagel with salmon, regular cream cheese, red onion and tomato to eat right then and a chocolate chip bagel and an onion bagel for later this week. They’re already planned for breakfast on Tuesday.


This was the compromise for the battle in my head.

I know it’s one that many others face too.

Here’s what I know about this battle.

  1. I know that the bagels aren’t going anywhere, at least from what I know about this business – they aren’t going anywhere. And if they were, there’s other places that bagels can be obtained. I also know that it doesn’t matter that I know that. This kind of thinking is associated with disordered eating behavior and eating disorders – and yes, these are different, but connected concepts.
  2. I know that it’s ok to not have a perfect plan or to change your mind and therefore alter the plan. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to be in the mood for, but this was more than not being able to decide what I thought would taste good. This was a moment I felt that I wasn’t in control of my relationship with food.

We have many relationships. We have relationships with people around us. We have relationships with ourselves. We also have relationships with food. Our relationships impact our decision-making process in both positive and negative ways. They create our environment.

These are two of the most important questions I ask clients – who or what is in your environment and what are these relationships like?

These are also questions I ask and reevaluate in my own journey.

Who or what is in my environment and what is the impact they are having on me.

Right now, so many exciting things are happening, and I never thought I would get here. It’s overwhelming. It’s a good overwhelming, but with the excitement comes fear and doubt of something new. I don’t always feel it, but sometimes it creeps in.  Sometimes it puts pressure on the other relationships I have.

For me acknowledging the feeling in general is a good step. Talking about how it’s impacting other aspects of my life is another.

My relationship with food isn’t perfect, but it’s better than it used to be, it’s a work-in-progress.

Trusting myself is going to be an ongoing project and that’s okay.

Great relationships take work and time. I’m not in a rush.


❤ Cristina

*If you think you may be struggling with an eating disorder or disordered behavior patterns, please seek proper professional assistance. The National Eating Disorders Association has a helpline that’s open 24-hours a day. If you don’t think your behavior warrants that call, consider reaching out to a therapist in your area who can assist your specific needs.




It’s all about numbers

Short and sweet. Tonight’s post is all about the important numbers on mind.

5 weeks until my show. I can’t believe it’s almost here. I’m practically in disbelief. I have been busting my butt like crazy all summer.

23 pounds down. I can’t believe that since June 12th I’ve lost 23 pounds. I’m now a lover of heavy lifting and I will never be a cardio bunny again.

2 weeks until my boyfriend comes home. He lives 900 miles away and we get to see each other every few weeks. He’s supportive, but doesn’t completely understand that this show isn’t about beauty with weightloss, but strength and the ability to accomplish something powerful that many can’t do.

151 pounds. The weight I currently am.

145 pounds. The weight that I am determined to be in time for my show.

95 pounds. The amount of weight I will have lost when I hit 145 pounds as my new weight.

40 grams of fat I eat each day in order to burn fat.

140 grams of carbs I eat because I need fuel.

157 grams of protein I eat because my muscles need to rebuild once I tear them apart.

Cheers to kicking my ass for another 5 weeks. I can’t wait to post photos over the next few weeks!


❤ Cristina

What do you eat anyway and how does exercise affect your calorie intake?

After a handful or more talks with some of my co-workers about body building and the lifestyle change made to accommodate it, here’s what you need to know about what I’m eating.

It’s understandable that when you tell someone that your eating between 5 -7 times a day they assume you’re consuming a ridiculous amount of calories, but that’s not always true. In my case I’m consuming around 1,600 calories every day, and I watch what I eat to make the most out of those calories. I used to see food as a comfort, and that’s how I gained weight; now I see it as fuel to help grow and build my body. Without fuel a machine can’t function properly and that’s what our bodies are.

I use My Fitness Pal to track my macros.

Macro-nutrients- grams of protein, carbohydrates and fats

For my weightloss, fatloss and muscle building purposes, my calories are divided into 50% protein, 30% carbohydrates and 20% fats. As long as I hit these 3 goals or stay around them the calories don’t really matter too much.

After inputting these percentages into My Fitness Pal calculates how many grams of each you should be consuming WITHOUT exercise. For me that means I should hit around 200 grams of protein, 120 grams of carbohydrates and 36 grams of fat. Sometimes I have less carbs or a little more fat (healthy fats found in food like avocado or nuts don’t bother me if I go over) or some combination like that, but for the most part I hit these every day. I also increased my water intake to 150 ounces; one gallon of water is 128, so I’m consuming a little more than that.

The increased water intake help flush out your system of toxins such as lactic acid from lifting as well as preventing cramping your muscles after a rigorous workout. Since I’ve increased my water intake my skin is a little more clear (but I never had too much of a problem with skin), I rarely get headaches, I’m not bloated and it helps me stay fuller longer.

Back to the food!

To help speed up my metabolism and ensure that my macros are spread throughout the day, I started eating every 3 hours. I prep meals ahead of time, so it’s not an inconvenience. Meal prep also ensures that I stick to my meal plan and always have something with me at work! I wake up and eat at 7 am EVERY DAY, even on the weekends. From there I eat every 2.5 to 3 hours. Here’s an example of what I will eat and when in a day.


June 30, 2014 Meals:  Calories: 1,455, fat: 40g, carbohydrates: 112gprotein: 178g

Meal 1 (breakfast foods)- 7 am

1 medium banana with 2 tbsp of Trader Joe’s raw almond butter

2 egg whites

Meal 2- 10 am

12 ounces Price Chopper plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup raw blueberries

Meal 3- (lunch like foods) 1 pm

Post-workout shake: 1 scoop MHP Paleo Protein Powder Vanilla Almond and 1 cup of Silk Almond/Coconut Milk

Buffalo chicken

2 cups organic kale

5 cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup cucumber slices

Meal 4- 4 pm

1/2 cup lean ground turkey

1/2 medium green pepper

2 tsp Sriracha sauce

Meal 5- (dinner like foods) 7 pm

Quest Bar: Cookies and Cream (during gym workout meal)

Meal 6- (dinner like foods) 10 pm

4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/2 cup cauliflower


You’ll notice that my meals have protein in each one, from egg whites, to Greek yogurt, to  meat and protein bars. Sometimes I call my meals a snack, because it can be hard to think of yogurt and blueberries as a meal, but without amount of protein, it’s very filling and well rounded with macro- and micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals).

On this day I also did two workout sessions The first was in the gym and consisted of 54 minutes of shoulders, biceps and triceps lifting circuits: 456 calories burned. I also work a second job, where I stand and walk around a lot. In 238 minutes or almost 4 hours, I burned 673 calories. I track calories burned during this job because when sitting the average heart rate is about 70 bpm, when I’m walking around my job it ranges from 95 to 120 because of lifting furniture, boxes and just walking around.

The more you workout the more food or fuel you need. On this day, my protein jumped from 200g to 358 g; however, I don’t consume that much protein. My Fitness Pal calculates your needs for weightloss without the consideration of exercise, so once you input your exercise data your goals shift based on the new needs of your body for the day.

I like lifting, because I love eating. They balance each other out. I Like Lifting (Food)

What important to know about your body is how many calories you burn on a daily basis without exercise. This helps you figure out a base line for calorie consumption for weightloss without exercise. On average I burn about 2,300 calories a day without exercise, but I’m only consuming 1,600 calories; so I’m already running on a deficit, this is how you lose weight. It takes 3,500 calories burned to lose 1 pound. Adding in my calories burned from working out, I’m averaging 1.5 to 2.5 pounds weightloss a week.

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I’m lifting 3 days a week and doing cardio 3 days week. While many believe lifting weights bulks you up, which it can, it does so much more than that. Anaerobic exercise burns more calories because it takes longer time for your muscles to recover and your body takes that energy from fat stores. After a lifting session, you can continue to burn more calories an hour for 24 hours. While cardio burns many calories at the time, an aerobic workout stops it’s benefits once you stop the workout.  The more lean muscle you have the more calories you burn an hour as well.

Let’s recap:

  • So while I’m eating 5 to 7 times a day, I’m eating WHOLE foods, meaning things that are minimally processed and give me the most for the caloric value.
  • Running on a deficit of calories helps you lose weight, but you still need to consume a good amount of macro-nutrients to rebuild, recover and fuel your body.
  • Lifting weights helps burn more fat, while adding muscle because your body pulls from “storage” energy to help muscle recovery up to 24 hours post a lifting workout.
  • The more you workout the more you can and should eat, not necessarily calories, but definitely macro-nutritents.

If you want to poke around for yourself, here are some links that will help you research more about bodybuilding and eating this way.


❤ Cristina