Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Product Review: SquareBar - Cocoa Crunch

SquareBars: in one word - DELICIOUS. 

They have some awesome flavors - Cocoa Crunch , Cocoa Coconut , Cocoa Almond .

The first bar I tried was the one pictured - cocoa crunch. Let me tell you, this bar is decadent and feels like a full on cheat. The whole bar is covered in a chocolate layer that you can actually taste and bite through! The middle tastes like a fudge/nougat consistency and the bit of crunch is awesome. 

I have yet to try the other flavors because I am still in competition prep so my calories (and fat grams) are a lot lower than usual. Once I am off prep, I will try the others!! I seriously canNOT wait. If they are anything like this bar, I am going to be one HAPPY girl!

But really... the things I will do with these bars once my calories are back up... toppings for waffles... casein .... mug cakes... yogurt .... ahhh the possibilities are ENDLESS!!!


 Pros:

  • USDA Organic, Soy & Gluten Free, and Non GMO Verified
  • Vegan (if that's your thing =) )
  • A relatively low cal snack or side to a meal
  • Easily portable as they are pretty small
  • Satisfying & filled me up!
  • A party in your mouth!

Cons:
  • I want to eat them all now, but they are a tad higher in fat
  • Lower in fiber (only 2g with 22g carbs)

Overall, you need these in your life. I will definitely be adding these to my list of go-to protein bars!

Find SquareBar: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Product Review: EvoMuse Eviscerate Smolder

In the last few weeks of competition prep, my coach has recommended that I use a skin tightening lotion called EvoMuse Eviscerate Smolder. I have always been rather hesitant about any "magic" products that tighten skin or speed up results. For me, hard work in the gym and in the kitchen have always been number one. So, when my coach told me to purchase this product, I was skeptical. Basically, what this lotion does is act as a topical fat burner to help with those pesky problem areas.

Here are my results in one week from using the product 1-2 times a day (after my shower always and sometimes again at night if I remembered lol):



PROS:
1. Obviously, it is working to some extent.
2. It is easy to use.
3. It was delivered fast.
4. No weird smells or staining.
5. Works for abs, thighs, arms etc.
6. I am more confident than ever!

CONS:
1. It is a little pricey if you're on a budget.
2. You have to wash your hands immediately after.
3. There is a slight warming sensation right after use, but nothing crazy. When I do cardio the next day or sit in the sauna, it sometimes burns a bit - but not really bad at all.

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend this product to anyone who is looking for a way to tighten up their skin if they are already exercising and eating healthy. I would definitely not call this a miracle lotion if you are still overweight, but it does help if you want to tighten up soon problem areas.

Check out this product on amazon!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Plateaus & Moving On

Did you ever face a plateau or stall in your weight loss? How long did it last? How did you move past it? These are three questions I get asked NUMEROUS times a day.


I would think that most people start off their journey thinking it is going to be hard. Little do they know (as I found out myself), it is WAY harder than even imagined. 

Body change (be it weight loss or muscle gain) is really a fun and exhilarating journey - when everything is going right. But, as soon as you hit one wrong turn or snag, it becomes a burden which leads to feelings of hopelessness and despair. Many people like to call these snags "plateaus" - or times in their journey where their weight loss stalls and they just can't seem to move past it. While these moments are great for trainers like myself (lol), it is important to remember that these times WILL NOT LAST. Either you will eventually keep losing or, you will return back to gaining. DON'T BE THAT PERSON! 

Did you ever face a plateau or stall in your weight loss? Yes, OF COURSE! It wouldn't be a journey without the twists and turns right?! 



So, in order of plateau I will answer: How long did it last? How did you move past it?

1. I remember when I hit 217 pounds (17 pounds lost at that point). I stalled there for months!! I actually thought that this was the smallest I was going to get. At this point, I hadn't fully committed yet. I bounced back to about 220 or so pounds before I took a good long look at my current lifestyle and decided I really needed to get serious. I cut out alcohol and upped my workouts to 4-5 times a week. I also decided to cut out the healthier foods that I couldn't eat responsibly - like peanut butter and cheese. Main goal: to get the losing part over as soon as possible so I could enjoy maintenance!!

2. At 205 pounds I hit another plateau. I admit, at this time, I was probably not eating enough. I was hitting my 1,200 calories (sometimes less, but never under 1,000) and working out an hour a day 5-6 times a week. Remember, food is fuel to power you through weight loss - it is NOT THE ENEMY! I increased my calories closer towards reaching my first goal (175 pounds) and attribute most of my stalls to not eating enough. 

3. At 175 pounds, I took a break from weight loss. I hit my first goal of 60 pounds and wanted to make sure I really did want to keep losing from there. I think it can become so easy to get obsessed with the emotions of losing weight. The attention you get from people asking if you are losing weight and telling you how great you look can become so addicting. I wanted to make sure I was going to keep losing for the right reasons - to get healthy and fit not to gain more attention. I stalled here on my own accord for about a month and a half before deciding to press on. 

4. 145 pounds was my last baby plateau. My body has this weight as its natural set point where it sits comfortably. I like to be more around 141 for vanity reasons... to lose the last bit of weight, I had to make sure I was eating more so that my body did not think it was anywhere near starvation mode. Switching from mostly cardio with body weight/resistance work to HIIT and heavy weights did wonders for changing my body composition too! I went from a flabbier 145 to a lean 143 with this discipline. 



Overall, there are some basic questions to ask yourself if you are currently stuck in a plateau:

1. Look into your current diet/exercise - are you really taking it seriously and staying committed?
2. Have you tracked your calorie intake? Are you eating enough?
3. Are you burning more calories during the day than taking in?
4. Every bite counts; do you snack on leftovers or graze throughout the day?
5. Can you go harder in the gym or during your home workouts? 
6. Have you been stuck to doing the same workouts lately? 

I think really what matters most is that you keep pushing forward and never give up. Plateaus make it easy for us to forget how far we have come and how much we have already changed. With each step forward (no matter how small the step may seem at the time) the end goal becomes that much closer! So keep pushing and really take a look into your current diet/exercise plan to see where you can adjust accordingly. Switching up you diet and workouts can be a great way to kickstart weight loss back up.

NEVER GIVE UP!










Monday, June 2, 2014

Why Happiness Doesn't Last...

I have a lot of time on my hands during my 30 minute step mill sessions... and I recently decided I would use the time to educate myself instead of just scoping out Instagram or Facebook. So, today I hopped on YouTube to watch one of Layne Norton's videos. I love this guy not only because he speaks what is on his mind even if people don't agree, but because he also uses actual SCIENCE to back up his opinions! (I know, crazy right?!)


Today's video was one that I have seen going around quite a bit recently and just got to watching.... Happiness as a State of Being .

I love this video for a number of reasons... the honesty, the simplicity of the concept, etc. It is true, if you determine your goals to only be superficial or decide that once you achieve something THEN (and only then) will you be content or happy - you are sadly mistaken. I hear way too often: "well, if I only could reach my goal weight or have arms like you - then I would be happy" or "If I could just rock this bikini I would be so much happier". I used to think this too - until I actually hit my goal weight. How long was I extremely happy for? Maybe a week.. maybe not even that. Sure, I am still proud of myself and rejoicing in my decision to change my life, but there is always a want for more. This is why I constantly set goals for myself. Losing weight was just the first step in my journey to keep progressing and smashing goals I never dreamed possible - like completing a half marathon, becoming a personal trainer and soon competing in a figure competition. This way, when the satisfaction and joy has diminished, I still have something new to strive for. This keeps me passionate and active in my future to be better. Past goals are just stepping stones to my future goals.

Another fabulous concept that Layne brought up was the idea of loving the process and GRINDING. I always tell people, you have to take a step back and really enjoy the ride, not just the destination. Sure, it is amazing reaching a goal, but the beauty is in the journey. I don't always love waking up and hitting the gym or pavement - but I will tell you this, I LOVE IT about 99% of the time. I love working out and leaving everything I have out on that floor whether I am lifting or running sprints. My passion for what I do fuels me. It makes me who I am and pushes me now to deliver that same kind of satisfaction to my clients.

The last concept that I will mention in this post is the idea of being able to change where I came from fitness wise. People will ask me "if I could change anything I did during my weight loss or if I would have rather started small and just built muscle from there, would I?" During my weight loss journey, there were definitely times where I wish I had just been skinny to start and then only had to build on that. But now, looking back, I wouldn't change a damn thing. My journey has made me who I am today - it has made me empathetic towards my clients and has shown me that if I want anything bad enough, I can have it with hard work.

I live by the motto that goes something like this - "you can't change your past, but you can learn from it and use it to guide your future". This is exactly what I try to do. I keep grinding and smashing goals while doing what I absolutely love! I don't focus on one thing determining my happiness and I continue to dream big and create new goals for myself. This is what keeps me happy, not a bikini on the beach (although that definitely does make me happy for that period of time lol!) - So keep grinding everyone and set goals based on improvement not perfection!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why I Will Never Support The Fat Acceptance Movement

It's no secret that I used to be overweight... in fact, let's not sugar coat it - I used to be FAT, OBESE, UNHEALTHY. Some people don't like that I call my past self fat and my present self fab. Those same people probably won't like this post either - and that's ok.


There are parts of this fat acceptance movement that I completely agree with - equal opportunities for everyone no matter what size they are, love at any size, etc. But a HUGE (no pun intended) part of the fat acceptance movement is about accepting that you are fat and promoting beauty in it. While I am a supporter of the idea that you should love yourself at any stage in life (fat, thin, healthy, fit, pregnant, WHATEVER)... I just simply cannot support this movement in so much as the idea of being overweight and unhealthy is acceptable. 

I was never once fat and happy or fat and proud. While I found (and still find) beauty in my appearance at every stage of my own personal journey, I would be lying to you if I said I accepted my overweight self full heartedly. 

One of the major problems I have with the fat acceptance movement is the notion that there is any sort of "health" at every size. This doesn't just go for being overweight, you can't be healthy and underweight either. I could go on and list a ton of articles and research supporting these claims but honestly, we ALL know that being significantly under or over weight is unhealthy. Common sense, right? Having excess fat on your body is NOT healthy and should not be accepted as ok.

Another problem I have with this movement is the way in which it encourages people of any age to stay overweight. Again, I am NOT saying that being overweight makes anyone less beautiful or have less worth - I am simply saying being overweight should not be accepted as healthy. This is particularly concerning in regards to our youth. It seems as if bigger portion sizes and pre packaged foods are the norm. I know they were for me. Allowing our youth to consume adult sized portions (which are bigger than even we should be eating!) is not ok. We should all be more pro-active in regulating what our children are eating when we go out to restaurants or even when we send them to school. 

There are more issues that I have with this movement than this simple blog post allows me to address in order to keep it short and sweet, but I will leave you with my last tidbit... This movement can tend to lead to the idea that fat is more beautiful than thin. I look forward (or maybe more dream of..) the day when everyone is considered beautiful and equal. Because in all reality, over/underweight individuals have the same worth as fit/healthy individuals and visa versa. 

I often wonder why we can't all just love each other instead of saying that one person is more beautiful than the other because of this or that. Instead of having movements that proclaim one person is "more than" another person - let's start with every person is beautiful no matter where they are at on their life journey. And then, let's promote HEALTH. Lets promote correct portion size, getting active, moving more... etc. 

I guess what I am saying here is... Health should be our number one concern. When the world is healthy, everyone is beautiful. 


Monday, April 28, 2014

Back In Action!!!

My first week back has come to an end! I gotta say, I am super happy to be back. While I loved being on vacation and eating/drinking whatever the hell I want (with no regrets) I do feel a lot better being back on track =)

While I don't regret anything I ate or drank, it did come with some "consequences". I left for my honeymoon weighing in at 142.4 with a 27.25 inch waist. When I came back and weighed in on Monday, I weighed in at 150.2 with a 28.75 inch waist. It would be so easy to start freaking out and regretting everything I did - wishing I had made better choices... but you know what? I dont regret a DAMN thing.

I left thinking.... I am going to watch what I eat and exercise consistently. It was a good game plan =P But really, I ended up enjoying myself and letting go. I made it to the gym 3 times and we did walk everywhere, but it's nothing like I was used to. In the end, my week and half off was good for my soul.

Day One (Monday) - feeling completely bloated. 

I woke up on Monday and I was totally bloated. My first workout was so tough. It was my first leg day back and trust me... vomiting did cross my mind on the leg press LOL. 

I completed my workout and also added in about 20 minutes on the step mill. It FELT AMAZING to sweat!!! 

I swear I was sweating out beer/whiskey & grease... EW. 

When I turned to the side I actually looked about 3 months pregnant... which is probably why some of my followers kept asking me if I was!!

I still don't feel guilty because I made my decisions and I was completely happy. Working this off is my main priority. 

Weight - 150.2     Waist - 28.75


Day Two - Still Bloated.

Feeling like it might have been a good idea to go into my honeymoon knowing I made it into the final round for the MPG messenger contest... It is hard to look good in clothes when your stomach is extended LOL. (which thank you everyone for your votes!!!)

Cardio is helping.... diet is back on track - feeling good.

Weight - 148.2     Waist - 28.5










Day Three - First check in back with my nutrition coach.  

Abs are starting to come back slowly but surely =) 

My waist didn't go down any today but I do feel leaner and have dropped about 3 pounds in total. Feeling good and positive. I have done cardio every day - either HIIT or 20-30 minutes on the step mill. 

I was a bit nervous to check in with my coach today but he reassured me that I am still on track even though I had a FAB honeymoon!! =) He cut my carbs by 30g on each day. I had a slight heart attack but it hasn't been a huge adjustment. Seems bigger than it feels. 

Weight - 147.4     Waist - 28.5




Day Four - keepin' on. 

This was the first morning I woke up feeling less bloated - and more like myself. I finally feel like I am back (or at least a lot closer) to where I was. 

The decrease in carbs has me a tad hungry but I decreased some complex carbs and increased my veggie intake to up my overall amount of intake. (1/4 cup of rice is a lot smaller than 150g of broccoli!) 

Weight - 146.6     Waist - 28








Day Five - test of will.


Today I went to the Quake's game and it was a true test of will because they have some AMAZING garlic fries!!! And we went out to eat with our friends before the game as well.

Moonshine was calling my name as well as a sweet potato but I kept it to Jameson and a 6oz sirloin that I calculated into my macros. I totally wanted to be like EF it and get what I want but seriously... at some point you just have to MAKE yourself get back at it.

I packed my own snack (a caramel rice cake, quest bar, pecan and dark chocolate chip "homemade granola" - cut it all up and throw it in a bag ;) ) and only sipped on my husband's beer twice.

Overall - WINNING and super proud of myself =D

Weight - 146.2     Waist - 27.875


Day Six - Feeling bomb.com

I woke up feeling great and leaner. All my hard work with the weights and cardio is paying off and I weighed in only 2.5 pounds heavier than what I left for my honeymoon!! WOOHOO! =)

I am super excited for this week coming up to see what new changes I can make! I am still enjoying (per say lol) my lower carb allotment and feel like I have more energy!

Today was my second check in with my nutrition coach and we agreed to keep my carbs lower to begin my 16 week competition prep! Bring on the macro OCD =)

Weight - 144.6     Waist - 27.75

Monday to Monday - One full week!

Weight - 150.2 to 144.6     Waist - 28.75 to 27.7

I still regret NOTHING! LOL... just sayin'.


In this next week - LET'S GET IT! If you "screwed up" get back to it... it's never too late to start again or start for the first time!!! We all have hiccups =)






Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wedding/Honeymoon Plan of Attack

If you don’t know by now, Friday is my wedding day!!! While I am EXTREMELY excited to be getting married to a man who has been my supportive rock for nearly the past 5.5 years, I am also a little apprehensive about the next week and a half.

This will be the first time in 6 months that I have not counted macros for more than a day or had a relatively set workout schedule. I know a lot of you will probably be thinking “go head giiiirl – you work hard, you deserve this time off, enjoy it!” I know because I tell myself the exact same thing!! It should be easy for me to be like “this is your WEDDING and HONEYMOON. It is time to let your hair down and simply enjoy yourself.” And I wish it could be that simple…

But the truth is, I am worried about gaining weight, increasing body fat and/or becoming somewhat de-conditioned. It is a BIG deal to me that I won’t know exactly how my food is cooked or what macro ratios I will be eating. It is a BIG deal that I won’t be hitting my exercise regiment as strictly as I do now. And it is a BIG deal that I don’t know what I will be coming back to in regards to competition prep directly following my honeymoon. Put simply - It scares me.

So here is my plan…..

Food – try to eat as clean as possible (after all, we are going up the coast so seafood should be the freshest!). I will enjoy some adult beverages, unclean food, and really try to relax a bit. I know my fiancĂ© deserves it as I am crazy about 99.9% of the time LOL. He really does put up with my weird dinner combinations and crazy planning for nights out. For the most part though, I will try to keep my options mostly clean because I really don’t want to ruin all of my hard work from these past couple of months. Plus, I just FEEL BETTER eating a cleaner diet and it makes me happy.

Exercise – I am using this time as a sort of “de-load” week. I can feel my body is tired (probably from the build up of cortisol in my system as well..) and needs to rest from the heavy lifting. I had planned on lifting today (Tuesday) with my last day being on Wednesday but I have come down with severe allergies or a cold, BOO! So today I am resting and tomorrow I will be too. I definitely do not want to be sick on my wedding day!!

We leave for our honeymoon on Sunday and all of our hotel rooms have fitness facilities that I will go to for some cardio sessions and maybe light weights and/or bodyweight exercises. We also have activities planned like bike riding, hiking, and walking everywhere we go. I want to stay active this trip, not just bum around the whole time =) Staying active also makes me happy!

I guess overall, I am going to work really hard to not focus on my diet, exercise or social media and instead put all of that energy into having a blast with my new husband!! (OMG that sounds soooo weird LOL) - I hope you all have an amazing week and a half and I will see you when I come back as Mrs. Valdez <3