The power of having a support system

No matter the task you’re taking on, there will be challenges of varying levels. This is a given, nothing is easy. When I started my weightloss journey, I didn’t have a support system or any one person who had verbalized that they believed in me. It was clear to me that to be successful, this had to be about me, for me, and I had to believe that I could accomplish the goals I was creating for myself.

Let me say, that this journey should be about you anyway. It shouldn’t be about getting someone to notice you. It should be about your health, how you feel about yourself and you should be slightly selfish in your goals. No one will make you successful, but they can help support you and give you tools that will lead to success when combined with hard work.

The simple definition of a support system from Merriam-Webster is:

 A group of people who someone help, encouragement, etc.

A more complex definition is:

A network of people that provide an individual with practical and emotional support.

As my journey has evolved and my goals have become more complex, I’ve learned that I can’t do this on my own. It took a lot for me to admit it, but while I had been flexible dieting and macro counting for over a year, I knew I need more guidance when it came to determining when and how to adjust my nutrition. I also had hit a wall in my lifting. I felt great about my lifts, but as far as configuring optimal workouts, I didn’t feel confident that I would have much success.

It’s okay to ask for help

I’ve talked about working with a trainer on my instagram page. We started working together in October and not only has my body changed, but mentally I feel like I’m in a really great place. Working with her has been a partnership. She listens when I say there’s something wrong, like the time I had a tendon rolling over in my wrist and it hurt to curl or the time I had lactic acid build up in my shoulder and it was preventing maximum mobility. She adjusted my workouts while I worked with my chiropractor to fix the physical issues.

When it comes to eating, as long as it fits it gets eaten. This creates balance because ice cream doesn’t always fit, but it also means I don’t need to overload on the veggies either – I learned this hard way. This means that she lets me experiment in the kitchen as long as I’m hitting my macro nutrient goals. Bring on yogurt bowls and vegan stuffed brownies!

*side note – according to the latest nutritional report from the CDC the average American only need 14g of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed – I was consuming way too much for the amount of food I was eating and it was causing some digestive issues.

She does more than just design my workouts and adjust my macros based on my progress. She’s there when I have questions or concerns about my progress. She’s reminded me to trust the process and to not freak out – or at least minimize the freaking out during prep. She is the professional that I hired to keep me on track, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to turn to my friends too.

You learn who supports you at your craziest

Throughout this journey I’ve learned who is here for me and who isn’t. Those who are here for me have been willing to listen and learn about why I’m competing or why I’ve lost as much weight as I have. Those who weren’t truly supportive, well, they’re no longer in the picture and it’s not my loss.

My friends have been extremely important in this process. Educating them can be fun and it can be a pain in the ass. The fun part is when they’re willing to experiment with food with you – thanks Jessica for enduring my burrito bowls, protein pancakes and scale portioned meals. The pain in the ass part is when they forget that you’re in dry prep – yeah JP, no bourbon. Or when they don’t realize that brunching in town may kill all your food for the day – looking at you again babe. But the fun part again, is when they tell you that they don’t get it, but they’re proud of you because they know it’s important to you – oh those college friends of mine.

It’s also ok if you don’t have friends physically close to you that don’t understand what you’re doing and why. This isn’t just about my journey, but all journey’s. Because of the stereotypes out there about weightlifting, some of your friends may try to tell you to not try hitting the weight room. Because of other myths about nutrition, some may tell you that you can only clean eat or only calorie count to lose weight. The truth is we are all different and we need to try different methods. For some it’s seeing or doing it that confirms if it’s the right step for them.

I tried macro counting with a clean eating focus during my last prep – by the end I wanted all the limited edition Oreos, that’s when I decided to just macro count and try to make good decisions. I’m down almost 36 pounds from macro counting: the first 24 from clean eating, then I gained 10 pounds back post-show when I wasn’t clean eating or tracking as carefully, then lost 22 with 100% flexibility. I had to learn that it’s ok to stare at the Oreo’s and eat them in moderation. But I wouldn’t have tried being 100% flexible if it hadn’t been for some of the lovely friends I had made on social media.

My friends mostly live in my phone

While I agree, there are aspects of social media that are damaging the new and even some of the older generations, I also believe there’s a lot of good coming from it. For me, it has been about connecting to like-minded people with similar goals and dreams, but maybe different methods. I met Sarah, you probably know her as @fit_badger15, in September 2014, but we started texting and sending each other care packages in December 2014. It’s been over a year since that started. Every month we send the craziest things from protein bars and hot cocoa to t-shirts and mugs. We’ve exchanged Christmas gifts and she sent me goodies from her trip in Ecuador. I also send her postcards while I travel for work. It was Sarah who introduced me to the Bikini Body Guide, or BBG. It’s circuit style training and at the time I needed something new – it was pre-Alaina and post-1st bikini competition. I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted and with her assistance, I dove into BBG and got to my lightest weight at the time 149 in June 2015.

I met Tresa or @not_a_runner in the summer of 2015 and I met her as she was determined to be a powerlifter. Now she’s not so sure, but she knows she loves lifting and that her health is equally as important as her strength. Similar to Sarah, Tresa and I send each other care packages and text more often than I do with friends I’ve known longer. She’s helped me get comfortable with lifting, but also push myself to lift heavier and be confident that I can finish a set. Because of her my squat max increased 25 pounds throughout the fall before I started prep.

The other day on instagram I had posted about the army of people behind me, most of which I have never actually met in person. Maybe I log on too much, but sometimes I need a little reassurance – I believe we all need reassurance sometimes. We need someone there who will believe in us when we don’t. People, who will equally tell you to act like an adult, put on your big girl pants and get your shit together, while in the same breathe tell you it’s okay to feel like crap every now and then.

The support system, whether made up of people you see every day or people you can only “pen pal” with, is important for success. The journey needs to be about you, but it needs to somehow encompass people who can help push you when you want to stand still and help give you the confidence you need when all you want to do is sit on the floor and eat peanut butter. My hard work has gotten me this far, but it’s been paired with someone else’s guidance the past few months and support that I have found in the most unlikely of places.

❤ Cristina

 

Recipe: Overnight Oats

The only thing that I can say about overnight oats is that I wish I had made these sooner. I started making them last month. I believe it’s because I was nervous about having too much nut butter in the container and going out of my macros. Well, I won’t lie, to ensure that I got all of the cashew butter mixed into my oats that I made last night, I scrapped the last bit of the container and weighed it. The put it back in the container. Obviously, not the point of using the jar, but overnight oats can be measured or not. It’s your preference.

This is my basic recipe for overnight oats. You can add whatever you want, just remember that macros and calories change as the brands or ingredients change, but you’re smart enough to figure that out.

What You’ll Need:

  •  1/2 cup rolled or steal cut oats – I used rolled oats because nutritionally there’s not much difference 
  • 5 ounces of almond milk – I had vanilla Almond Breeze on hand
  • 1/2 scoop protein
  • cinnamon – optional 
  • vanilla extract – optional 
  • container

Directions:

Measure out a 1/2 cup of oats (or a serving according to your label) in your container.

Add 5 ounces or 2/3 cup of almond milk (you can use any milk, I have a dairy sensitivity to certain products). To measure I used a liquid measuring cup.

Add a little cinnamon to taste and vanilla extract. Stir until cinnamon appears to be well mixed. Add protein powder if desired. 

Place in fridge for overnight because you know, they’re overnight oats. I’m sure they could sit for a few hours if you wanted them for later in the day, but overnight allows them to really absorb the milk.

morning after

This is the basic recipe that I follow every time I make over night oats. Most oats I will add a nut butter. I keep a million different kinds and flavors in my pantry, and they all have very different nutritional value. So it depends on the day as to which one I use. Below are some photos of oats I have made in the past few weeks. I’ve listed the extra ingredient and the macros for them.

Side note: I add half a scoop of whey/casein blend to my oats for more protein. This makes them thicker, you may need to adjust liquid for protein powders. I have found 2/3 cup is enough for thickness.

Have fun with your flavors!

1T Salted Caramel Nuts and More +7 mini PB cups from Trader Joe’s 15F/48C/12P

Same as above

Oats in the actual cashew butter jar

2T Caramel French Toast Cashew Fit + FF Whip and Cinnamon 17.8F/42.5C/15.5P

❤ Cristina

I’m so ready for Week 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤ Cristina

 

 

Protein Chocolate Cupcakes

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

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

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

  

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

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

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

    

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

Calories: 129

Fat: 1.9g

Carbs: 23.8g

Protein: 5.1gEdit

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

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

❤️ Cristina  

When I conduct proper meal prep I feel like my life is together

Happy Sunday!

After a crazy week last week, I finally have some control over my days. Today I did some meal prep for the first half of the week. Lunches and dinners are prepared up until Wednesday. I may need to pick up some more produce, but I also have a sufficient amount of fruit to help supplement my food intake. Yesterday I made breakfast muffins, which might as well be coconut banana muffins. I tripled the batch because I had some ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and was able to make about 20 muffin. Bagged and in the fridge ready to be devoured!

Tomorrow I’m spending my morning doing some work in the gym :] And hopefully I won’t have to work tomorrow night so I can get my butt to Bikram in the evening too!

I’m going to really focus this week on getting back on track from the past two weeks of crazy and horrible eating. his is my plan for the next few days:

Monday

  • Morning Weights
  • Night Birkam class

Tuesday

  • Lunch run for endurance

Wednesday

  • Hour of Cardio
  • Food prep

This leads me to Day 13 of 100 Happy Days: Meal Prep.

 

20140518-215531.jpg

This makes me feel like I have some control of my life, similar to making my bed every day. By making my meals ahead of time I know what I’m eating, I can get some extra sleep and I don’t need to panic about a meal a few hours from now. It’s all planned. #backontrack #paleo #100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #eathealthy #earnyourbreakfast

Have a great week!

❤ Cristina

#100happydays: strength from afar

20140513-214841.jpg

Day 8: strength from afar. While some people say that social media locks us to our phones and computer screens, I believe it opens us to a whole world of people I wouldn’t be able to interact with otherwise. @jerri_m0 (on Instagram) is a NPC Figure Athlete and she is an amazing woman. I don’t think she understands the impact she has on me in New England. She’s beautiful and strong and not afraid to bust her ass to get what she wants.

There are so many bloggers that also have this effect on me. We inspire each other to push hard and work toward our goals. We use each other to set the bar higher. Friends and motivation don’t have to be in person.
#100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #bestrong #fitfam #lovearoundtheworld

A serious case of jello legs

Ok, so I set some hefty goals for this morning, and while I didn’t hit all the marks. I did pretty damn good :]

Goals:

Cardio

Timed run: 20 minutes

Weighted Squats

  • Goblet squats: 3 sets of 20
  • Plie squats: 3 sets of 20
  • Braced squats: 3 sets of 20

Dumb Bell Workouts: 8lbs dumb bell, 3 sets of 10 for each

Plank Row

Shoulder Press

Lateral Raise

Deltoid Raise

Rear Deltoid Raise

Biceps Curl

Hammer Curl

Actual

Cardio

20 minute endurance run- 1.74 miles

Weighted Squats

Goblet squats 2 sets of 20

Plie squats 2 sets of 20

Dumb bell workouts- 5lbs weight

Lateral Raises 2 sets of 10

Shoulder Press 3 sets of 20

Hammer Curl 2 sets of 20

Bicep Curl 2 sets of 20

Deltoid Fly 3 sets of 10

Standing Row 3 sets of 10


 

 

My legs were so jello-y that continuing to squats would’ve resulted in poor form and possible injury. So I’m pleased with the sets I did accomplish, I just need to work back up to where I was. The standing row replaced plank row because I knew I wouldn’t be able to have correct form with how my legs were feeling. While I pushed through the fire in my muscles I didn’t do the rear deltoid raises either.

After two days off from running and 6 days off from weights, I’m not going to beat myself up for my body having a WTF moment.

Here’s some pictures from today’s work out.

20140329-111641.jpg

A size 8 is in sight!

20140329-111650.jpg

No too shabby!

20140329-111658.jpg

Vanilla Paleo Protein with Coconut Milk, frozen blueberries and almond butter. I earned my shake today!

 

What have you done to kick start your weekend?

❤ Cristina