How to combat motivation slumps

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In my last blog post (written months ago) I discussed my struggle with staying motivated and how I simply felt burnt out.  Since then I have taken several steps to work myself out of that slump.  At this time of the year a lot of people decide to throw in the towel and “start fresh” in the new year.  New year new you right?  Maybe this is true for those who are truly, internally motivated to change but perhaps not for those who are externally pressured to “get fit”.  Or maybe you are someone like me who was in love with the grind but lost that spark somewhere along the way.  Wherever you may be in your journey, below is a list of things to consider as you work to revive that love for the grind:

 

1. Reevaluate your priorities

Working out has been a numero uno priority for me for years and this year it finally hit me that I needed to prioritize other things in my life aside from the gym.  I still kept working out as a top priority, just not number one.  Perhaps you have other things going on in your life that are more important to you right now and the gym may need to get stood up an extra night or two.  And that’s okay!  Being realistic with your priorities can at least help you justify why your gym visits have slowed down.  Maybe you’re not motivated to go to the gym because you just simply don’t want to be at the gym!  You’d rather be helping your best friend get ready for her wedding, or working an extra couple of hours for that raise.  Whatever it is, just be honest with your priorities and own it.  When getting fit is truly a top priority you’ll make the time and you’ll make the visits worth it.

2. Switch up your routine

Having the same lifting routine, using the same cardio machines, and even going to the same gym can get boring.  I had been doing the same lifting split for months and just simply got bored.  I decided to actually write down my new split and plan to change it every 4 weeks.  This kept some structure in my routine (which I need) but it was a new structure and knowing that I was going to switch it in 4 weeks gave me that sense of deadline like “hey next month you may not be doing kettlebell swings so you better swing the shit out of that kettlebell”.  Maybe (definitely) I am the only person who thinks that way.  Either way, even just writing down my plan gave me a sense of direction and goal which motivated me to follow through.

3. Ditch the cardio machines

Maybe you are one of those people that loves cardio machines and props to you if you are but I honestly get bored AF most of the time.  I’ll still do the stairmaster every once in a while but the thought of getting on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical… snooze city.  Here is a list of ways that I have been getting in my cardio that doesn’t involve a machine:

-Real stairs: Pick up 25lb plates and go up and down the stairs at your gym a few times.  If your gym doesn’t have stairs use a step and do a few rounds of step ups

-Sleds: Throw a couple of plates on a sled and give that baby a push in between your lifting sets.  This is by far  one of the quickest ways to get your heart rate up fast.

-Bodyweight HIIT circuit: You can literally make up your own circuit and just go hard for 30-60 seconds and rest for 30-60 seconds.  An example would be burpees for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds, box jump 30 second, rest 30 seconds. 20 mins of HIIT is a quick and effective way to burn dem cals.

-Battle ropes- Pick these up and slam them on the ground a few times, feel the burn and repeat.

…Jump rope, boxing, supersets, medicine ball slams, swimming, tire flips.  You get the gist.

 

4. Try a new gym or activity

In addition to switching up my lifting split I also switched back to my old gym.  You’d be surprised at how much just a change of scenery can make a difference.  And if it’s just the whole idea of a gym that makes you want to puke, try a yoga or tabata class with a friend, go for a hike, try something new that’s active!

 

5. Give your body a rest

Maybe you feel unmotivated because you are just as exhausted physically as you are mentally.  Sometimes you just need to take a step back.  You’re not going to *lose all of the gains* if you take a little gym vacation.  You may be surprised with how your body responds to rest.  Even if you get a little fluffy after some time off, that time off may be just what you need to reset and refuel that energy.

If you have struggled in the past with staying motivated, please share in the comments below what steps you took to gain your motivation back!

 

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Finding balance: Where I am at

Balance

After competing in two bodybuilding shows last year I set a goal for myself to hang up the heels for a while (most likely indefinitely) and focus on finding a healthy balance in my life.  For those who aren’t a regular follower, I have been a bit more active with blog posting and Instagram lately, particularly with the “fitstagram” posts.  I have been a bit more active for two reasons. The first reason is to motivate.  More people have been asking me for workout advice or healthy meal ideas and while I am no PT I love to share whatever I can!  The gram or my blog are both great ways for me to keep track of my recipes and have reference points to share with others or to even revisit myself!  The second reason is to hold myself accountable.  If I have a certain “fitness” goal in mind it is often helpful for me to share my journey with the public (aka like my mom and 3 friends).  So aside from this larger goal of *balance*, I recently set a mini goal for myself to cut down for an upcoming fitness workshop and photo-shoot + my trip to Vegas where Mr. Olympia is hosted, but I have found myself slowly losing motivation.

I want to look dope AF at this workshop and in Vegas where I will be surrounded by some of the most well known athletes in the industry, but at what point will I just be happy with where my body is at?  I have come a very long way this year when it comes to self image/ self love/ balance/ whatever people want to call it these days but it’s weeks like these that I realize I am not quite there yet and that this isn’t just a situation where I am going to wake up one day and be like “Fuck yes I will never have a negative thought about my body ever again”.  Lately I’ve just felt tired.  Tired physically.  Tired mentally.  My 5am lifts have turned into 9am lifts, or no lifts.  My daily cardio has significantly dropped (side note I don’t need to be doing a ton of cardio I just used to really enjoy doing it).  And my “diet” is starting to feel like a diet and well, I am just tired of feeling like I am always on a diet.  For anyone who has ever tracked macros before, aka “flexible dieting”, you’ll realize that once you know the science it is always ingrained in your head even when you try not to track.  Can’t a girl just get a healthy acai bowl for breakfast which is filled with superfoods and micronutrients and not worry about the fact that half of her suggested carb intake for the day will be used up?  Maybe it is the heat, or maybe it is the fact that I haven’t started my new job yet and my usual routine is off, but right now my motivation is in hideout.  I know if I were to just throw in the towel, stop working out, and eat like shit I would feel 100x worse after about two days so that is not going to happen.  However, this lifestyle is tricky and the motivation isn’t always there for me.  Hoping once I get back to my regular routine this week I will feel refreshed but in the meantime I would love to hear if other people trying to live the healthy grind have went through this same type of funk, and how they decided to handle it 🙂

Tips and Tricks: Savory Edition

I recently wrote a “tips and tricks” post for people with a sweet tooth so I thought I would do a part two for those who are more into savory.  A lot of my “mindless eating” used to be from savory snacks such as chips, crackers, etc.  I would find myself at work snacking on pretzels in the middle of the day just because they were convenient.  Unfortunately that mindless snacking will add up.  Here are a few tricks and alternatives to help satisfy your savory craving:

 

1. Condiments/Seasonings

Finding the right condiments or seasonings are total game changers.  There are a lot of great low sodium seasonings (ex: Flavorgod, Mrs. Dash) that can transform your meals. Trying to choke down plain veggies and chicken all week just sounds miserable.  I’ll typically add hot sauce or reduced sugar ketchup if I go with a “basic bro meal”.  Other condiments or toppings that I like that are super low-calorie include mustard, salsa and laughing cow cheese wedges!

savoryseasoning

2. Rices Cakes and Almonds

Rice cakes come in a variety of flavors both sweet and salty.  These are great lower carb options if you are looking for something crunchy that isn’t loaded with fat.  I typically enjoy rice cakes with peanut butter for sweet or laughing cow cheese wedge for salty.  My favorite flavors are white cheddar and apple cinnamon!  Almonds on the other hand are a great source of healthy fats.  Like rice cakes, almonds also come in a variety of flavors both sweet and salty.  My favorites are Blue Diamond Wasabi Soy and Toasted Coconut!

SavoryRicecakecreamcheesesavoryalmonds

 

3. Low Carb breads

If you haven’t tried Joseph’s pita bread or whole wheat lavashes you are missing out!  Joseph’s makes 60 calorie pita and 120 calorie wraps.  These are not only great for wraps or sandwiches but also make a perfect low carb base for homemade pizzas!

Other low carb bread brands that I like include Sara Lee and Pepperidge Farm (45 cals/slice!).

savorybread

 

4. Get creative with your veggies

This kind of overlaps with condiments/seasonings but you don’t have to load your veggies with olive oil to make them taste good!  I have recently been snacking on veggies dipped in low-fat garden vegetable cream cheese.  As long as you don’t eat the entire cream cheese container this is a great alternative to chips and dip.  Veggie chips are also an easy way to get those micronutrients in with the same crunch as chips!  And give me all the salsa with that because there are basically no cals in salsa.  Lastly, apparently cauliflower can do anything you want it to from pizza crust to rice.  I have never tried cauliflower crust but I have tried riced cauliflower, mashed cauliflower, and buffalo cauliflower and I was very impressed with everything!

savorycucsandcheese

 

5.  Just eat the damn chips

Finishing my list the same way I finished my Tips and Tricks on Satisfying that Sweet Tooth post.  If your cravings are that bad just allow yourself to have the chips and guac.  It’s about moderation, balance, and portion control.  As I mentioned before, totally restricting yourself from certain foods can potentially lead to further problems down the road so try not to completely deprive yourself.  Be mindful and ask yourself do I really need another handful of chips or am I just eating them because they are there?  This is something I still struggle with!

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If you have additional tips and tricks I would love to hear them in the comments below 🙂 

Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

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I always buy too many bananas at once and didn’t want to freeze my extras like I usually do so I decided why not throw together banana bread for the first time ever!  I modified an already “healthified” recipe from Pinterest and was thrilled with how it came out!  Plenty of flavor and very moist (yeah I said it).  Had to share the recipe right away mainly because writing this post is a distraction from me eating the entire loaf of bread.  Here’s what you need:

2 large  bananas

1 whole egg

1 egg white

160g oat flour (I blended quick oats)

30g all purpose flour

1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 cup maple syrup (I used Walden Farms)

1 tbs almond butter

2 tbs dark chocolate chips

2 tbs ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tbs baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3-5 packets Stevia (to your desire)

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix dry ingredients and place aside

Mix wet ingredients with mashed banana

Mix all ingredients (leave chocolate chips out)

Pour batter into bread pan and mix in chocolate chips

Add extra cinnamon to the top

Bake for 35-40 mins

 

The loaf makes 12 servings 108 calories per slice! (3F/18C/4P)

 

I might even go wild and make a protein icing to top this with.  To be continued…

Tips and Tricks on Satisfying that Sweet Tooth

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My biggest struggle by far when it comes to keeping a healthy diet is the fact that I have a major sweet tooth.  I’ve had a lot of people recently comment on my “will power” and I just want to point out that I don’t always have will power when it comes to my diet and to be honest lately all I’ve wanted to do is crush Ben & Jerry’s before bed.  I get the sense that many people have this same sweet tooth struggle so I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks that have helped me over the years!  And to keep this a bit more entertaining I decided to throw some New Girl memes in the mix 🙂

1. Coffee and/or Tea 

I instantly want dessert after dinner. It’s clockwork.  Something that helps me is making an after dinner coffee or tea.  If you own a Keurig, Bed Bath and Beyond actually has a variety of dessert kcup flavors (chocolate doughnut is currently my favorite).

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2. Healthy dessert alternatives

There are a lot of ways to make your own delicious desserts without all of the excess carbs/fats.  Some of my favorite creations include the protein ice cream (some may call this protein sludge) protein brownies, mug cakes, waffles (my black bean prownie recipe is posted here).  There are also a few low calorie ice cream brands that you can find in your local grocery store such as Arctic Zero however, I have found that my own ice cream creations are actually more tasty than Arctic Zero which tastes a little too “icy” for me (just my opinion).  However, if you’re a Greek yogurt fan I HIGHLY recommend Yasso frozen treats or Light & Fit Greek yogurts.  Every single flavor I have tried has been amazing for both of these brands!

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3. Sugar Free Gum

There is pretty much every flavor sugar free gum out there at this point.  A recent find that I really like is the Project 7 Birthday Cake gourmet gum.  I’ve found this brand at Target and Walgreens.  Extra also has their “Dessert Delights” flavors which have a longer lasting flavor compared to most other SF gum brands that I’ve tried.  Couldn’t find a bubble gum related meme but this is close enough…

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4. Fruit

This could be filed under “healthy dessert alternatives”but fruit is a great snack that can help satisfy that sweet craving with natural sugars instead of added sugars or “fake” ingredients which provide much less nutritional value.

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5. Just eat the damn dessert

I am not saying go house an entire jar of cookies every night but treating yourself in moderation is perfectly healthy.  Completely restricting yourself is just not the way to live and could lead to stronger cravings and further problems down the road.  For me, balance has been key from a physical and mental perspective.  Unless you are prepping for a competition or something, treats here and there should certainly be welcome 🙂

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So there you have it!  I’d love to hear what has helped you all curb those sweet tooth cravings!

5 Skinny Cocktails To Try This Summer

So summer is officially here.  Beach season.  BBQ season.  Booze season.  You’re constantly stuck in the “kind of want to look good in a bikini kind of want to crush margaritas” dilemma.  I hear you.  I definitely exceeded my calorie intake last month due to one too many cocktails and my body was certainly not happy about it.  #Noragrets though cause I had fun.  Unfortunately, the reality is that if you are trying to lose fat, excessive alcohol intake doesn’t exactly help your case.  With that said, this doesn’t mean you should be spending your summer skipping out on social events and avoiding that margarita you’ve been craving.  It’s all about moderation.  I’ve done my fair share of skinny cocktail experimenting and I’d like to think I’ve found a few solid, easy recipes that will save you some calories with the same delicious taste!

1. Blueberry Mojito

Mojitos are a sneaky cocktail that can be loaded with sugar from all that simple syrup.  Try this:

Blueberry Mojito

 

1-1.5 oz Bacardi Wolfberry Rum

Club Soda

Mint

Blueberries

*Muddle mint and fruit for flavor blend

 

 

2. The Skinny Margarita

Margaritas are my all time favorite summer drink, maybe even all time favorite drink.  Unfortunately, they are loaded with calories!  Here is an easy and delicious way to create your own margarita with half the calories of your standard bar marg:

SkinnyMarg

1-1.5 oz Tequila

Club Soda

Lime Juice

Agave

 

 

 

 

3.  Real Strawberry Daiquiri

Pinterest inspired, and not sure how I didn’t think of this before but it is basically as it sounds:

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1-1.5oz light rum

1 cup strawberries

A handful of ice

1/2 or 1 packet of Stevia (depending on desire of sweetness)

Puree and enjoy!

 

4. For the Whiskey lovers

Whiskey+sour mix= a ton of calories and sugar….try this for a lighter option (via Cheetah is the New Black):

whiskeysour

1-1.5 oz whiskey

Pineapple flavored Coconut Water

Lime

 

 

 

 

 

5. Watermelon Vodka Slush

Inspired by ‘The Skinny Chick’s Cookbook‘, would be great to bring a larger batch to a summer bbq:

WatermelonVodkaSlush

2 cups sliced watermelon

1 cup ice

¼ cup watermelon flavored vodka

Blend/puree and enjoy!

 

 

If creating your own cocktail isn’t your thing, other go to “healthier” options are your standard vodka soda (NOT tonic), or essentially any vodka drink without excessive juice/mix that will add extra sugar and calories.  Typically if you ask the bartender for the “skinny” version or “light on the syrup” they should have no problem accommodating.  Last and final thing…  Be careful what you read and/or are told on nutritional labels.  Some of these “low carb” drinks (cough cough Spiked Seltzers) actually have just as many if not more carbs than your standard light beer.  #Buzzkill  …But in all seriousness as I mentioned before, it’s all about moderation.  Hopefully this post was more helpful vs. hurtful 🙂

The Burger Diet

Okay so it’s not exactly a diet but just a little experiment that I decided to do last week.  Hopefully that title grabbed some attention though 🙂  I recently shared on Instagram that I was starting to get sick of my diet and that goes against everything that I preach so I decided to switch it up a bit, particularly adding lean beef and turkey as protein.  I incorporated 1-2 healthy burger creations into my meals every day last week.  The results? Very satisfied.  My current fitness goal is to slowly lean out and I really didn’t change up my current calorie intake or macro split.  If anything I added a bit more carbs this week.  I was easily able to incorporate a lot of delicious burger-based meals into my diet without steering off plan.  If anything I actually felt leaner by the end of the week.  I didn’t weigh myself before and after because I like to focus more on how I look and feel to determine progress and the goal here wasn’t to show a decrease on the scale.  The goal was to show that your diet does not have to be boring to be healthy.  It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between being hungry v.s. not satisfied which is why I needed to mix things up a bit.  This was a fun way to mix up my diet and satisfy my burger cravings!  Below is a recap of my favorite creations from the week:

 

The Good Morning Burger

GoodMorningBurger

13F/30C/38P

Lean beef patty (4oz)

Ezekiel sesame bread

1 egg over easy

1 slice turkey bacon

1/2 light creamy swiss Laughing Cow cheese wedge

 

Burger Caesar Salad

BurgerCaeser

9F/20C/31P

1/2 cup kale

1/2 cup romaine lettuce

Lean beef patty (4oz)

1 medium tomato

Bolthouse Caesar Parmigiano dressing

Joseph’s flax whole wheat pita

 

Turkey Tacos

TurkeyTacos

9F/38C/38P

Lean ground turkey (4oz)

2 lettuce wedges

1/4 avocado

~15g fat free mozzarella

1/2 cup rice

1/4 cup black beans

1 tablespoon salsa

 

Portabella Mushroom Burger

PortabellaMushroom Burger

1F/42C/44P

2 Portabella Mushroom caps

Lean turkey patty (4oz)

1/4 cup zesty diced tomatoes

~28g fat free mozzarella

4oz sweet potato “fries” (baked)

1 tbsp Xyla chipotle bbq sauce

 

Cheeseburger Flatbread Pizza

Cheeseburger Flatbread

13F/37C/27P

Flatout spicy italian flatbread

62g no salt added tomato sauce

2oz lean beef

~28g reduced fat cheddar cheese

1/2 cup romaine lettuce

1/2 medium diced tomato

Bolthouse Classic Ranch dressing (2 tbsp)

*this might have taken the gold for the week

 

Let me know your favorite comfort foods; I’d love to share more healthy alternatives!  I am thinking pizza creations for my next experiment….