Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Meal Plan & Prep 101

   Getting healthy can be difficult, sometimes you have to turn your whole life upside down to do it. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Does it get easier? Yes. One way to make it a little easier is to meal plan, and prep! 
   Planning meals out in advance allows you to make sure you are getting variety but also not wasting food. You don't want to get to Friday and realize you have eaten chicken every single day and now you have to toss out that steak or fish. There's a hundred ways to meal plan and prep and you have to find what works for you. But, here's what works for me.
   First, some background. I work 2 jobs, many days I leave my house by 7am and get home around 9pm. My lunchbox is bulging (the zipper is broken. Now accepting lunchbox donations). I have also been a student with limited access to a fridge or microwave. You get creative. I also only cook for myself, not a whole family. I eat a lot of leftovers which is why I switch things up each week. 
   Sunday is my day off. This is meal prep day! 
   Step 1: PLAN! Go buy the food. Create a grocery list. Stick to the store perimeter. Read labels. Do not go hungry. I like to create variety from week to week. For example, one week I might have chicken and salmon for my protein, broccoli and eggplant for my veggies, peaches and plums for my fruit but the following week mix it up; tilapia and pork, asparagus and squash, apples and bananas, etc. 
   You don't want an overwhelming number of choices. You also don't want to spend ALL day in the kitchen. So, plan it out! These days I wake up at 4am so thinking of "what to eat" is the last thing I want to do. 

    Now step 2: PREP! Get your Tupperware and cooking gadgets ready! While yes, most food tastes better fresh, it's not always realistic to cook every meal fresh. Otherwise, I want your life. Here is a list of things I often prep in advance: 

-quinoa: complete protein and high in healthy carbs. Great mixed into salads, or with veggies and meat for a quick meal. 
-steel cut oats: I cook them with water, portion them into mason jars, and then use Slap Nutrition Protein (> LTIPFIT gets you 10% off) to change up flavors. Think cinnamon swirl slap with fresh berries, or chocolate slap and whipped peanut butter. 
-chicken: cook it up! Weigh it, bag it, throw it on salads or with veggies. 
-veggies: I steam up broccoli or bake up asparagus to make sure I have veggies through the week. 
-salad: I put my toppings in a mason jar so the lettuce doesn't get soggy, dressing goes in a small container also. Then just throw it in and shake it up at meal time!
-hard boiled eggs: easy snack! 

I also have staple foods I eat each week; bagels, turkey, eggs, things like that. Pb&j is a staple in my life when I'm starving or haven't grocery shopped. Not to mention protein bars are never too far away! Don't buy junk, and you won't eat it! Prepare in advance and you won't fail! 

The Slap Line! Now they also have slappy birthday whey, pumpkin pie preworkout, and flavorless BCAAs. And with the exception of the pumpkin pie preworkout, I own EVERYTHING they offer. It's clean, delicious, and bakes really well!! 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Understanding weight loss: BMR

   Weight loss is a scientific process. People attempt to simplify it with various fad diets and exercise schemes. Unfortunately what it comes down to is knowledge and putting in work. There is no magic pill. Fortunately, once you can understand the science, it's not all that hard. Ladies and gentleman... I present you, science: 
    Your body is constantly burning calories keeping you alive. It takes energy to keep your heart beating and your lungs breathing. Digesting food, driving to work, sleeping; you are burning calories. This is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). You may call them slacker calories if you would like. 
   This is the MINIMUM calories necessary for life. Going below these will not benefit you or your weight loss goals in the long run. Going below this will simply drop your metabolism into starvation mode. Starvation mode screws up hormone production, energy levels, mood, and general homeostasis. Your body is in crisis mode so it holds on to everything it can to keep you alive. Humans are wired to survive.
   With that being said, begin to think of food as fuel instead of the enemy. All of your energy comes from food! Feed your body well! I'm convinced you cannot have science without math... So, get out a calculator, pen and paper- here's the equations! 

   Hate math more than me? There's an app and online calculators that will do it for you. Ok, so we have your BMR. You now know how many minimum calories to eat each day to sustain life. But you want to lose weight, so we must do more math. See the equations "target daily calorie needs"? You will now multiply your BMR by one of those numbers, which are associated with your activity level. Be brutally honest, lying about it hurts no one but yourself! Here you get to create wiggle room! If some days are killer two-a-days and others are rest days, you can either create different calorie goals based on the day or you can take an average. 
   This new number is how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight. Ready for more numbers? There are 3,500 calories in 1 pound! Want to lose 1 pound a week? 3,500 cal/ 7 days= 500 cal/ day deficit. You may reach this deficit by nutrition or exercise, or a mix. I like to create a 500 calorie deficit in my meal plans and then 1-2 days a week really ramp up my exercise intensity to burn a few extra hundred calories for good measure. Find what works for you, is realistic, and sustainable. 
   These days there are various tools to help you. My fitness pal is a favorite food logging app of mine, and my polar heart rate monitor and fit but charge help too. Weight loss will always require a calorie deficit of some kind; whether it is from food or exercise. Now, you have probably heard of IIFYM/ macro meal plans. Eat whatever you want within your macros and still lose weight! Well these macro calculators take into account your BMR and your goals, so you are still going into a deficit. I have a blog on IIFYM if you are more interested in learning how to calculate specific carbohydrate, protein, and fat needs. 

    I hope this has helped. As a certified personal trainer and a certified fitness nutrition specialist, I have a passion to help people. Please don't hesitate to email me at with any questions! 

My calculated BMR: from an app! 
I personally usually shoot for 1,560-1,620 calories per day, with 35% carbs, 35% protein, and 30% fat. Keep in mind, every person is different so what works for me may not work for you. It takes patience and practice! One thing I will tell you though is that I always try to make healthy food choices, I never feel guilty about my food choices, and even after days where I ate over my calorie allotment, I still wake up looking good. If you are physically hungry; eat! Starving yourself does no good. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Spot Reduction: The Myth

   Everyone wants to look good naked. End of story. So they decide what needs work, and they attack that area. Rawr; be gone saddlebags and love handles and bingo arms! Except, no. No, that isn't how it works. 
   You want a muscle to get stronger and hypertrophy (get bigger), by all means, target it. Fat doesn't work quite the same though. Imagine your body as an incinerator. You can't put something in it and decide what will burn first or fastest. With that being said, doing 100 crunches isn't only going to burn fat off your midsection. That simply isn't how metabolism works. 

    Still not understanding? Last time I checked you couldn't decide where the fat went to begin with. You must lose body fat overall through resistance training, cardio, and nutrition. 
  But, why? It's easy. The higher you get your heart rate, the harder your body is working and therefore, burning calories. Spot reduction exercises; crunches, leg lifts, triceps dips, etc simply don't get the heart pumping and therefore they don't burn many calories. You would benefit more from a 10 minute run than 10 minutes of crunches any day. Then there is also the whole not being able to choose where the fat burns from problem. 

   Bummed out? Just think, now you can stop doing 100 sit ups or leg lifts a day. Hooray! Find balance, lose weight, and then start building muscle to get the physique you want. Creating a plan that incorporates cardio, large and small muscle resistance training, and healthy eating habits are your best bet. So do your squats, don't skip a run, never neglect your supporting muscles, and don't eat crap. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Digestive Differences: Whey vs. Casein Protein

   People don't necessarily research before they start a training program; for those who do, congrats because the gains are in your favor. 
   Protein is made up of amino acids. Different amino acids have different functions in the body. Complete proteins (mostly animal protein, soy, and quinoa) have all the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are ones your body cannot synthesize. If you want to know more about individual amino acids, I have a separate blog on that! Protein is the building block to muscle building and repair. Enter, the infamous protein shake. 

   The protein shake has come a LONG way! They now come in various flavors, in vegan and vegetarian form, and they don't smell and taste like chalk anymore. 
With the industry growing though, companies are working to make their product bigger and better. I'm going to keep it basic. There are two main types: whey isolate and casein. The difference? Digestion. 

   Whey digests and absorbs quickly; within 30-90 minutes of eating or drinking it. Casein digests and absorbs more slowly; usually between 4-6 hours within ingesting. This is important to know, because having both forms of this protein can help you reach your goals.

   While getting your protein from healthy food sources is ideal, it's not always realistic. For example, if you are following a specific macro plan that requires 130 grams of protein a day, you may want a quick and lower calorie option than a full meal! I also have a blog about macros, if you're scratching your head. Back to the point; whey is great for quickly feeding your muscles protein and casein is great for sustaining them. Many people will have a whey isolate protein shake immediately after their workout and then a casein shake either as a meal replacement or before bed. Muscles repair while you sleep so having a steady stream of protein available while they repair is ideal. 

    Always read labels; you want clean protein that isn't high in sugar or calories. If you are baking with it, clean is super important! I personally use (and bake with) Slap Supplements Whey Isolate ( and use LTIPFIT for 10% off your order. Tastes delicious and bakes great!) and GNC Refeed casein (the chocolate is delish!). Find what works for you and what suits your tastes! I've found I rarely use a full scoop and I've also found some creative ways to integrate protein instead of just mixed with water or milk in a shaker bottle. 

You can find my protein recipes on my ltip fitness recipe blog: and on my Instagram; ENJOY :)

Affiliations: Slap Nutrition & Cellucor! My exclusive discount code for both is LTIPFIT so go to or for your protein and supplement needs!  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gym Anxiety

Having anxiety about going to or using a gym is a very real thing. And it's understandable! Most gyms these days are huge; boasting classes, tons of equipment, people with huge muscles, and loud noises everywhere. Not sure what to do? You just got even more overwhelmed. But this article is for you. 

Let me start by first telling you congratulations. You stepped foot into a gym because you made the decision to get healthier and change for the better. Second, let me assure you that there are people who can help you. Everyone who has gym anxiety, has it for a reason. Really pinpointing why you feel anxious about the gym is the key to getting past it. I'm going to address a few common gym anxieties. 

Are you self conscious of how you look? Well I promise you, not every person at the gym is Arnold Jr. They all started somewhere! Most gym rats are nice and don't bite and I've never met one who has rabies. I won't lie, the gym is not a judgement free area BUT most people will offer to help or have more of a positive attitude than a negative one. Gym clothes have also come a long way! When you look good, you feel good. Get some gym clothes YOU feel confident in and that flatter your figure. There's also starting points- you can walk outside or utilize a smaller gym space, even do at home workouts until you feel more comfortable. 

Are you afraid of the weights and machines? They can be overwhelming. No one wants to look like an idiot. But you have to learn! Group classes and personal trainers are a great resource every gym has, utilize it! Still hesitant? You can always walk on a treadmill and scope out what people are doing. Just keep in mind, they might not be doing it correctly. Personal trainers may seem intimidating but I promise you we are here to help and we love to help. We went into this business because we have a passion for health. Trainers come in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of background and specialties so I can't imagine there isn't one out there for you. I promise we aren't judging you- we want to, and enjoy, helping! 

You only have one life, you have to live it! If you have anxiety about joining or using a gym, address it and find a way to overcome it. Take a friend or go during off peak hours. Try a new class. New can be scary but it can also be great! 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Leave your excuses at the door

As a personal trainer for the last 4 years, I've heard almost every excuse in the book. Stop it. You, the person trying to lose weight, aren't doing yourself any favors, and I can promise you that your trainer isn't losing their sleep over it. So it's useless. Like most excuses. 

Let's get one thing straight real quick: THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL. You want to lose weight, look great, be healthy, you have to put in WORK. You can't eat shit and look great. You can't be a couch potato and not increase your risk for heart disease. 

Common excuses and why we don't care. Especially me. 
1. I don't have time. Ok, I get it, most people work more than 40 hour work weeks, they have families and soccer practice and God forbid they miss scandal or the bachelor. I work 2 jobs and am trying to get my own personal training business off the ground, while recovering from TWO knee surgeries. Guess what? I still find time. I get up at 4am, I plan my meals in advance, I pack my bag the night before. Yes I have a slight advantage because I'm single and don't have children, but I still have a lot going on. MAKE THE TIME. 

2. Being healthy is too expensive. Want to know what's more expensive? Chronic disease and injury. I work in the assisted living atmosphere and can tell you it's not cheap. Rent here is around $5,000/ month, and that only covers food (that nobody likes) and your room. Oh you have cardiovascular disease or diabetes? Google how much those medical costs are and you might think that trainer is worth the money. Not to mention if you add up all the Starbucks and lunches out how much you spend. 

3. I don't have the energy. Suck it up, buttercup. Studies have proven exercise increases energy and helps you sleep better. Give it a week. 

4. I'm not seeing results fast enough. Well, you get what you give and you aren't going to chsnge years of bad habits overnight. It takes blood, sweat, tears, and time. 

While some people may read this and think I'm a heartless bitch, I assure you I am not. Working with the geriatric population is an eye opener. The only thing you have at the end is your health. As the fitness specialist, I work with a 92 year old who still zips around and had her wits. Her "secret": she walked the 2 miles to work everyday by choice. She played coed sports. She took her kids outside. I have a man who's 74 and spends all day in bed and is miserable, and while it's awesome he worked 70 hour work weeks and saved lots of money so his daughter can afford this place AND fancy vacations, he can't wait to die. 

Make the choice to be healthy. Because at the end, it's all that's truly going to matter. Oh, and my little old zippy lady still wipes her own ass :) 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Protein Breakdown: Amino Acids

   Protein, you need more protein. You need ALL the protein. Dr. Atkins said so. Then he died of a heart attack. Ok, so maybe you need some other things along with all that protein. Protein is extremely important though. To clarify, all the macronutrients (Carbs, Fats, and Proteins) are important, and so are your micronutrients (vitamins, water, minerals) to keep the body in perfect working order. It can all be extremely overwhelming though and I feel like you hear about protein SO MUCH. So I wanted to break it down a bit for you. Mind you, I knew the basics and had a general understanding, but I spent a solid few days on researching this to bring all of you the most accurate information. I'll be leaving the really super-duper big words out and chemistry behind it all, because my job is to help it make sense, not make you want to crawl into a hole of despair.
    I'm sure you've heard about whey isolate protein, protein powder, BCAA's, glutamine, etc. If you haven't, you are living under a rock and we aren't friends because I'm over here putting Slap Nutrition Protein Powder in EVERYTHING. We will return to that topic though. For the longest time I was very anti- any supplement of any kind and said just eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet is still very important, the most important actually, but sometimes you just can't get all of your daily nutritional needs from food when you have very specific goals. Before I start anything though, I research. I ask questions. I learn. I understand. I try. I bring the information to you.

    Protein Basics: Proteins are the building blocks of the body. They build muscle, enzymes, help in hormone production, they do a lot. They are a Macro for a reason. Proteins are the building blocks of many bodily functions. Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein.

   Amino Acids: There are 20 total; essential and non- essential (sometimes called dispensable), and there are conditionally essential. Essential amino acids CANNOT be made by the body, therefore they have to be ingested. There are 9 of these. Ready for some big words? You don't need to remember these, but I will go over some of them in more detail.

   Essential Amino Acids: Phenylalanine, Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Methionine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Lysine, and Histidine. I know, I know. You have probably now lost interest. Keep reading. Many of these are precursors to building hormones and neurotransmitters. Some interesting facts: Methionine helps to fight stress and decrease the chance of your hair graying.
    Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine make up your BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids; how many of you have been popping those pills not even knowing??). Leucine is the ONLY amino acid that can stimulate muscle protein synthesis and regulate cell growth, which is why it's huge among body builders and the like. Want a BCAA, look for a 4:1:1 ratio of Leucine, isolucine, and valine. Keep in mind, to break down and be able to use leucine and isoleucine you need Biotin/ vitamin B7 or it's just floating around in the body, not building your biceps for flex Friday. Biotin can be found in intestinal bacteria and is produced plentifully, so put down that bottle the guy at GNC is telling you that you need. Unless your doctor has told you are Biotin deficient, you have enough. 
   Lysine is important in surgery and injury recovery (I ate a lot of protein while recovering from ACL surgery for this very reason!) and increases your Calcium absorption, elastin and collagen, and assists in hormone, enzyme, and antioxidant production. Histidine can also be converted to an antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals that can often cause signs of aging and sometimes breakdown DNA and lead to cancer and disease.

   Non-Essential: There are 11 proteins your body can manufacture all on it's own magical self. A few of these can be considered "conditionally essential", such as in premature babies or people undergoing severe catabolic stress (disease, cancer, etc.) and need to be ingested. The conditionally essential are: arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, and tyrosine. The ones your body will make no matter the circumstances are: serine, alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, and glutamic acid.
   Arginine is important because it is involved in cell division, wound healing, hormone release, immune function, and removing ammonia from the body. Glycine can help improve the quality of your sleep. Tyrosine is a precursor to the creator of your Thyroid hormone, which can influence your weight and other aspects of your health.
   Alanine helps create ATP (energy to pick things up and put things down!). Asparagine does a lot for brain development and function.

   All of the amino acids are important. But before you run to your nearest supplement store and buy a bottle of each, sit back down. Protein is plentiful in so many foods. Complete proteins are considered protein sources that have all the essential amino acids and are almost always found in animal protein but also in Quinoa and Soy. Incomplete proteins often need to be paired with others to create a complete protein. Feeling overwhelmed? I know. Moral of the story; eat a variety of foods. Beans, turkey, chicken, eggs, milk legumes, etc and you will be all set. Whey protein is an abundant mixture of BCAA's so you don't necessarily need to be taking BCAA supplements and washing it down with your protein shake. There is also such a thing as protein toxicity. Protein has a Nitrogen attached to it (I know, I promised no Chemistry!) and the body breaks this off and it goes through a chemical process and creates ketones and urea. The body rids itself of urea and ammonia but if you become dehydrated or are just consuming way too much protein, ketones can build up. Ketones can be extremely harmful to the body, they are a waste product for a reason. Always aim for a balanced diet full of variety to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs for optimal performance.

   I hope this helped! I know I enjoyed researching it. But I'm a nerd. Looking for a protein to supplement with? Try Slap Nutrition; They don't use artificial flavors, and only have 4 ingredients with really yummy flavors. They are also lactose, gluten, and soy free for those of you with allergies. And I represent them so you get a discount! LTIPFIT gets you 10% off your whole order. I have every single thing they offer and I love it all. Want more? Check out for a wider selection of nutritional supplements. I work with them too; LTIPOFF10 for 10% off your order with them. I'm all about the good stuff, and would never represent a company I don't trust or believe in and they all get heavily researched by yours truly :)
   If you have more questions, feel free to email me,!