My Fat-Loss Pyramid Plan

Nutrition & Good Eats, Workin' Out

Fat-loss is a highly searched topic, where you will find endless opinions and a variety of “foolproof” methods that your head might literally spin with confusion on where to start.

I can’t make any promises, because there are bright sides to every method, depending on each person, their health, and their bodies. However, I can share what I have seen work, and what I believe in.

Losing fat isn’t rocket science, you just have to be persistent, and honest about your goals and the amount of effort you are willing to put forth in meeting them. That’s without a doubt the most important factor, and quite frankly, a big part of why I decided to give up on personal training. The majority of people want results, but aren’t willing to do the work, put in the time, and trust the process.

I think, for me personally, besides the lack of patience people have in their weight-loss goals, my biggest pet peeve is when people assume going for a run is the best route to achieving their abs, or lean thighs, and better butt.

Wrong.

Though, it is true that running can assist in weight-loss, the type of running matters big time. In addition to the lack of promise steady-state running shows for fat-loss, it happens to have a negative effect on muscle mass.

If you’ve done your research you will know by now that muscle helps burn fat!

Also, you NEVER need to assume you have to supplement or take an additional pill or shake in order to achieve your goals. In my opinion, the majority of supplement companies are frauds, or are full of products I could never trust. It is a waste of money to invest hundreds, if not thousands for products that are in many cases, not needed.

So what is one to do?

Here’s my take.

 

FAT LOSS PYRAMID

Most importantly, and at the base of any healthy and fit body is nutrition. Creating a clean diet, full of foods that nurture, heal, and replenish your body after and during exercise. Our family chooses to eat organic, mostly gluten-free (I am 100% gluten-free and have been for over five years), non-gmo, real foods. Sugar isn’t an issue for myself, however my husband has a sweet tooth, so we still have it in the house. Coconut sugar and raw stevia are substitutions we also have available. We do enjoy eating out once in a while, but opt for places who offer grass-fed meats, local vegetables and even then, we tend to order on the safe side…no fatty, or deep-friend platters.

Second, we come to sleep. Rest and sleep are CRUCIAL for not only recovery from exercise, but in general, your health depends on making sure you get enough sleep. Women should be getting 7-9 hours a night, no less. Some men can handle 6-8 and not have any negative side-effects. Some people might say they are “fine” with their routine of very little sleep, and swear it has no impact on their weight gain, health problems, or other areas of their life. Don’t let them fool you.

I used to be a runner. Long-distance. I would rack up 50+ miles a week most weeks. I was also very tiny. I was thin, had no definition, had no butt, had no abs. I was just small. Once I started a more serious weight lifting routine I realized I could have curves, and feel sexy, more womanly. Not only that, I felt strong! Now, weights are my go-to. During pregnancy, weights were my go to. They never let me down. I have seen time and time again the benefit from weight-lifting and strength training, not only personally, but with clients as well as others, and I can honestly say, I’ll never go back to the long-distance running gig.

The best form of “cardio” when it comes to burning fat, without jeopardizing your muscle gains, is interval training. You can use just about any set-up, which benefits both beginners as well as athletes. If you’re just starting out, you can adjust the intervals so that your “rest” period is much longer than your “intense” period. And vice versa for those who may be more advanced. Tabatas are a good example of interval training that you are certainly able to get creative with. Hill sprints, or any other high intensity burst of action can bring you benefits as well.

And at the top of that pyramid, is that darn steady-state cardio. You know, that go out and run comfortably at the same pace for an hour cardio. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll say it again, I have nothing against running. I believe it has it’s place. Just as I believe running is therapeutic, and it can be fun for a challenge now and then. But unless you use it properly, you may be doing your body, and fat-loss goals more harm than good.

And there ya have it.

I’ve just had my third baby, and this is a plan I am sticking to for getting back into shape. It’s a plan I trust, and it’s a plan I feel comfortable with. That’s why I’m sharing it with you. 

 

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Behind my fit Pregnancies

Mama Mama, Workin' Out

I have always been active. As a kid and teenager I played sports, was involved with horses, loved hiking and climbing trees, and just about anything that kept my body busy. Over the last ten years, I have dedicated my life to being healthy and active, and at the age of 20, I decided to make my love for fitness official when I went to school for personal training.

That was almost 9 years ago now, and as the time goes by I continue to adapt, adjust, and advocate my passion.

I’ve done one-on-one training, group bootcamp classes, trained and coached myself for a bikini competition, coached youth sports, and have learned to keep my body healthy as I go from a long-distance runner to a strong mama who isn’t afraid to lift more than her kids.

Long story short, fitness is a part of who I am. Fitness is a part of my past, as it is a huge part of the future I plan for myself and my children.

During the last five of those 10 years, I have been pregnant three times. Currently, I am 21+ weeks pregnant with my third, and have continued to not only maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, but that has kept me very consistent with my composition and athletic abilities between each pregnancy.

(When I say “athletic abilities” I also mean I am able to move my body as it’s MADE to be moved. Nothing heroic or olympian by any means.)

When I got pregnant with my first, I was mostly still a runner, but did plenty of light weight and body weight exercises to maintain balance. I was right around 110 pounds, and 14% body fat. I continued to walk/jog and do lighter workouts throughout the pregnancy. Parker was born 10 weeks early, and no one knows why to this day.

With my second pregnancy, I was actually pregnant while on stage at a bikini competition where I was 111 pounds, and 11% body fat. Obviously my body was nourished as it should be, or I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. I lifted heavy throughout this whole pregnancy as well as walked and hiked. I was the strongest and leanest I’ve ever been when I got pregnant with my second. I stopped lifting heavy (and continued to lift lighter weights) ONLY about a month before our daughter was born. She was 38+ weeks and a healthy baby. Labor was quick and as perfect as it gets.

I began this pregnancy at 111 pounds, and 13% body fat. This pregnancy has been the hardest on me physically, as I have had a million more stresses, adjustments in our personal lives, and with having the two kiddos at home full time…one in which I am home-schooling. My body aches more, and it begs me for more frequent workouts or at least more activity. Not only is my body feeling the changes, but my stress levels could use the workouts as well. I also know, if I were to get in even small, less intense workouts, I would have more energy to chase after my two kiddos, the two goats, the two dogs, and make sure the chicks, chickens and bunny all get the attention they deserve as well. Energy is very much needed. 

Regardless, I have still been able to get in 1, maybe 2 workouts a week, as well as a walk or so. With the weather changing, and me being the constantly cold woman I am, our Bob isn’t getting in as many outings as we would all like. Though I am very blessed and thankful for the ability to be even as active as I am now, there are days I have a hard time with either feeling like I need more so I don’t lash out and allow stress to win, or there are people who make it worse by telling me to “don’t over-do it”, “lifting weights isn’t safe during pregnancy” or “go eat a pizza, you are pregnant” and it makes me crazy.

The reality is, my body is used to exercise, and God made our bodies (yes…even as women) with the ability to move and be fit. And most importantly, I know my body.

Here’s the thing: Who wouldn’t want to reap the benefits of exercise during pregnancy anyways?!

  1. Squats help prevent back and pelvic pain, as well as increase and strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
  2. Walking, swimming, and/or light impact activities help keep yours and baby’s weight in check, while also helping to prevent gestational diabetes, regulating blood pressure, and kicking stress to the curb. Walking for me also helps loosen up any aches and discomforts pregnancy might be creating.
  3. According to Ina May Gaskins, you should squat 300 times a day for a quicker birth.
  4. More energy!
  5. Upper body weight/strength training helps improve posture that may be thrown off because of your already changing body and baby belly.
  6. And, once baby is born, you bounce back and heal so much faster! And then, the greatest benefit of all is allowing your littles to witness their mama in action living a fit lifestyle so that they too grow a passion for the same.

For me personally, I will always recommend an active lifestyle. Even during pregnancy. Obviously each woman and each pregnancy is different, so finding ways to adjust to fit your needs is important. Because of my background, I am confident that I can use my body appropriately and safely while exercising. Having good form, knowledge of lifts, and knowing my body’s limits is all crucial…but not something I worry about. No, it’s not a fad, or an attempt for attention. It’s a lifestyle, one that began ten years ago, and only continues to adapt, adjust and one I’ll continue to advocate.

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A few weeks before my first was born, and 7 months post first pregnancy. 

8 months preg 8 months post

8 months pregnant with baby #2, and 8 months post baby #2

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5 weeks pregnant with baby #2

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Working out with lighter weights a couple weeks before Ava was born.

 

 

 

Park Workout with the Kiddos

Workin' Out

Welp, I got my workout in. It wasn’t as structered as I had hoped, but it got done.

It only took until nearly dark, and a family trip to the park after yet another busy day, but that’s alright.

Even though the actual workout was a bit scattered, my muscles now feel fatigued and I’m certain I’ll be slightly sore come morning. Mostly because I haven’t worked out in a week!

Each exercise I did between 12-20 reps. Somewheres around 3 rounds of everything. To be honest, I lost track and just kept jumping into different exercises as I went along while the kids and Javin were playing.

Playgrounds actually make really good gyms. Just have to get creative.

And, it’s another way for the kids to see Mama live an active lifestyle.

 

Stair and Band Workout at Home

Workin' Out

Sometimes a little fresh air makes all the difference when you’re pregnant, already have two littles running you 24-7 and just NEED a workout for your sanity.

First trimesters suck. During this time, I feel sleepy, emotional and at times light-headed. Everyone keeps saying with the 3rd baby I should show super early…and though I feel my body making changes, and we got to see little baby and it’s heartbeat this week, I don’t feel pregnant yet. Just feel blah.

The fresh air this morning helped wake me up and I was happy to be able to get in my workout before my afternoon exhaustion hit.

I’ve been wanting to use our stairs for a workout for a while now, but our contractors are usually busy in the area, so being as it’s Sunday, I had the stairs to myself!

With the resistance band, I did 5 sets each side of lateral step ups with lateral leg lifts. After that I did 5 sets forward step ups with glute kickbacks. I finished the lower body portion with wide banded squat jumps.

After that I did incline push-ups x 15, spidermans x 20, dips x max, and incline kb row x 10 each. 4 sets.

Ended up being a successful workout, and I felt great afterwards…but I was starving! 🙂

 

Deck of Cards Workout

Workin' Out

Today, again, started out as a busy day, and I know there’s no slowing down until bedtime. When Javin is home, it’s high on my priorities to get a workout in, even if it’s a quick one. So today, I grabbed a deck of cards, and got in a 24 minute quickie.

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There are a couple variations to the deck of cards workout, but today I stuck to the simple one. Not only is a workout like this super easy, but it’s versatile, and you can take it anywhere, depending on the exercises you chose to do. I have used this game in bootcamps, and it’s been a hit each time.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Shuffle your deck of cards. No jokers.
Step 2: Decide your exercises for each suit.
Step 3: Gather your equipment, if you need any.
Step 4: Flip a card, and do the planned exercise in the amount shown on the number of the card. ACES ARE 11 REPS, ALL FACE CARDS ARE 10 REPS
Step 5: Repeat until all the cards are done, or until you’ve maxed out on your allotted time limit.

The exercises I chose were:

Clubs: Alternating curtsy lunges off step
Diamonds: DB high pull into press
Hearts: Plank with DB rows
Spades: Pop squats

Example: The first card I flipped was the 7 of spades, so I did 7 reps of the pop squats.

I almost ALWAYS chose burpees for one of the exercises during this workout, however, the one pregnancy symptom I’ve been experiencing is light-headedness. So because of that, the only jumpy exercise I added in was the pop squats. I usually keep every exercise multi-joint, OR, I split 2 for upper and 2 for lower so that the workout is still total-body. In this case, I had 2 exercises that were lower body focused, and 2 that were upper body focused.

I knew I wanted to get through the whole deck, so I timed myself. It took me just about 24 minutes to finish all 52 cards. The tough part was, my shuffle wasn’t very good apparently because I drew diamond after diamond and my shoulders began to fatigue early on.

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Pop Squats

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Curtsy Lunges

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High Pull into Press

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Plank Rows

If you have no equipment, this workout is still effective if you do, say, burpees, squats, sit-ups, and push-ups. Or, get creative. Again, all you need really, is a deck of cards. 

After going through the whole deck, you will have done a total of 65 reps each exercise.

You could spice it up a bit, and throw those jokers into the pile. Each joker could be something intense like 50 burpees, or 100 jumping jacks, or another exercise that you aren’t already incorporating.

Plank Workout

Workin' Out

Planks are wonderful.

They are for the most part low impact. They offer total body possibilities. They allow you to take exercise anywhere and everywhere without equipment. They help build strength, but also posture and balance.

I decided to play around with your average plank and came up with a fun planking workout that was somewhat new to me, and also challenging enough that I was sore the next day from the exercises. These planks however, used added equipment. I did use a step/box and a set of dumbbells.

1. Decline plank with alternate kick through— The goal with these were to keep a tight form, and push my “kick” as close to my opposite elbow I could get without twisting my hips to the point where my core was no longer strong and activated.

2. Plank with front raise— Holding the plank position while lifting a dumbbell forward until arm was straight and parallel to the floor. Then alternate sides.

3. Plank twists— The one exercise in this workout I’ve done many times. From the forearms, twist just enough as you dip your hips. You should feel these in your obliques.

4. Reverse plank with leg lifts— Reverse planks are challenging without adding any extra movements to them. The position of hands are my biggest struggle with these, as after a while, my wrists get tired and achy. From the full reverse plank, lift legs and alternate sides. I noticed that with each leg lift, I had to focus on keeping my glutes and core tight or my hips wanted to fall and break form.

5. Plank with open and push— similar to the front raise, but opening up your body just enough to push overhead rather than up and forward. Again, keep form tight and don’t allow wobbly twists.

All these exercises were done in controlled movements. Never try to go so fast that you sacrifice form in order to finish the reps faster. Each exercise ranged between 12-20 reps. Do 3-5 rounds.

Deadlifts and Upper Body

Workin' Out

So. Happy.

I’ve been anticipating getting a chance to use my weights now that we brought them back from storage. Deadlifts. That’s all I’ve wanted to do.

So yesterday, I set up a pyramid style workout for Javin and I to do together. My mother in law had the babes for the afternoon and it gave us a perfect opportunity to workout together. Taking turns on the bar meant we got rest between reps and it all worked out great! We added weight at the same rate, until he actually upped me by a little, all thanks to my grip giving out.

Guess I need to work on that.

For me, pyramid workouts are fun. It allows you to get in high volume, but still challenge yourself as far as strength goes.

Here’s what we did:

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45lbs x 35 reps

65lbs x 30 reps

95lbs x 20 reps

115lbs x 20 reps

135lbs x 15 reps

155lbs x 6 reps (this is where my grip game out.)

135lbs x 13 reps

115lbs x 20 reps

95lbs x 20 reps

That’s a total of 179 deadlifts.

Obviously, the weight isn’t what I was once doing, but for not having weights to use in monnnthssss, I am happy with that outcome. And I’m a little sore today, so the stack did it’s job. What bothers me the most is that my legs, buns, and back didn’t fatigue. I could have added more weight if it wasn’t for my grip.

After these we did upper body. Which sucked, because I had to shake out my hands after every exercise. My forearms are sore and tired today.

Neutral db press x 12-15

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1 arm bo row x 12-15

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Kb curl x 12-15 each

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Plate high pull x 12-15

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3 sets

All in all, I feel the upper body workout today more than the deadlifts. That’s alright, my booty and legs will be getting in a lot of hikes this next week when we take our little family road trip.

At the end of the day, I am thankful my husband and I can enjoy these workouts together.

 

 

My Secrets to abs After Babies

Mama Mama, Workin' Out

I am 28 years old. I have two littles, ages 3 1/2 and 1 1/2. I am a very busy stay-at-home mama, juggling enough projects I couldn’t count on all my fingers. And I have abs.

I don’t work overly hard at keeping my tummy tight, I don’t take any supplements, or use any miracle products. I don’t do hundreds of crunches and I don’t workout every single day.

Want to know my secrets??

It’s actually very easy.

1. Eat smart. Food is fuel. I listen to my body and have finally found a happy place where I no longer crave junk. I know what foods my body responds best to and I have become a creature of habit because of foods that my body has not responded well too. I spread my meals out throughout the day. Some days I have 3 full meals and 3 snacks in between, and others days I have 5 small, unstructured meals. Either way, I’m eating all day.

2. The majoriry of the time, I do compound exercises while working out. I also vary my exercises enough so that all areas of my core are activated. I make sure to use my range of motion to the best of my capabilities. No half reps or poor form.

3. If I feel I must do cardio, I make it short and sweaty. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times nothing has felt better than a long, torturous run…but that’s not how you get a tight and strong tum. Especially after having babies. I was a long distance runner in the past, and never had abs like I do now.

Lately my workouts have been far and few in between, so I rely mostly on my number one rule, eating smart. I don’t weight myself, or care what the scale has to say because I follow what my body is saying. When I let down my guard and I slip on that number one rule, I feel the changes. And I don’t like those changes, so I rarely slip.

Slip. Makes it sound like I’m following a strict diet or being overly harsh on myself, but in fact, I still eat a wide range of foods, including chocolate and cabernet! And I never feel deprived.

I suppose an honorary number 4 could be established since there is one more thing I am adamant about.

4. Sleep. I don’t care if the dishes don’t get done or if it’s still light outside, I put my sleep high on my priorities. Eight hours is ALWAYS a goal, and with children, we all know there’s never a perfect, uninterrupted stretch of sleep that long. But regardless, that alarm is never set unless I’ve got my 8 hours clocked. Some lucky nights, we get 9! (Again, usually interrupted from various babies and/or dogs and/or contractors beginning work at 6:30am)

If abs are a goal of yours, your first step is in the kitchen. It doesn’t take much to start seeing and feeling the differences once you begin a healthier routine.

Goes to show, mamas are strong too!

 

Quick, no Equipment Workout

Workin' Out

Lately I’ve been so short on time, that I’ve planned my workouts to be high rep and fast paced.

Yesterday’s was a total body, countdown routine that took me a total of 33 minutes.

This workout is great for any where, as it doesn’t require any equipment.

100 sumo squats
10 burpees
90 spidermans
10 burpees
80 bridges
10 burpees
70 in&out abs
10 burpees
60 curtsy lunges
10 burpees
50 supermans
10 burpees
40 dips
10 burpees
30 shoulder push ups
10 burpees
20 sit ups
10 burpees
10 plank punches
10 burpees

**during the bridges, squeeze your butt cheeks for a second or two before lowering and beginning next rep. This will increase the burn in the glutes.

**alternate legs during curtsy lunges

**sit ups not pictured

**during the plank punches, punch ten times with each arm, alternating sides.

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Sumo squats

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Spidermans

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Bridges

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In&out abs

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Curtsy lunges

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In&out abs

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Dips

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Supermans

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Shoulder push ups

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Plank push ups

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Shoulder push ups