Gym Essentials

You’ve signed up for the gym, now what? It’s important to ensure that you have everything you need when going to the gym as you never want to be unprepared. Below is a list of all the things I have with me in my gym bag daily:

Gloves-If you plan to do any lifting, you should definitely have a pair of gloves as they help to prevent calluses on your hands.

Headphones or Earbuds-I enjoy listening to music while I workout as it keeps me motivated and may do the same for you.

Waist trainer-When doing cardio workouts, I usually wear a waist trainer to ensure that I keep my abs engaged and it helps me sweat more.

Barbell Pad-When doing squats, lunges, or hip thrusts using the bar, be sure to use a pad so the bar doesn’t sit directly on your neck or your groin.

Ankle straps-Used for donkey kicks or abductors on the cable machine; most gyms have them but I enjoy using my own.

Weightlifting belt-Use this when you are lifting heavy with squats or deadlifts for back support.

Barbell clamps-Not essential as gyms have their own clips, but, I like mine because they are pink ūüėČ

Booty bands-Definitely a must if you are trying to build your glutes! Great to use as a glute activator before starting a leg/glute workout.

Resistance bands-Use prior to an upper body workout to warm up the muscles.

Training shoes-Use these shoes if you are doing squats or deadlifts

Running shoes-Use these shoes if you are running or doing cardio. These are my favorite running shoes! I get a new pair almost every year.

Pull up bands-If you are working towards being able to do a pull up (this is one of my goals), definitely get you a set of bands so you can gradually decrease the amount of support you are getting from the band.

I believe that’s all the equipment I take with me to the gym daily. In addition, you’ll want to have some supplements as well. Currently, I drink BCAAs during my workout from my shaker bottle and then have a protein shake post workout on my drive home.

What are your must haves for the gym?

Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More

Originally published January 21, 2016

Embed from Getty Images

Plan, plan, and plan some more.  Have I mentioned that you should plan?  When setting out to achieve your fitness goals, I have learned that it is key to plan, especially your meals.  Keeping up with a diet or meal plan can be tough, especially if you don’t plan ahead.  When you are crunched for time, it is so easy to stop by the nearest fast food restaurant to pick up a quick bite, ruining your diet for the day.  We’ve all stopped by the “Golden Arches” a time or two when cooking a meal just wasn’t in the plan.

So, how do you create a fitness meal prep, a weight loss meal prep, or a meal prep in general?  What should you cook?  How far in advance should you cook/prep your meals?  Many of these questions depend on you and your personal preferences.

One of the first things you will want to do is figure out your nutritional needs.  An app such as my fitness pal can give you a general idea of your daily nutritional needs.  If training for more specific goals, such as a competition, you should consult with a personal trainer to help you with your nutritional needs.

In a nutshell, meal prepping is preparing all/some of your meals ahead of time.  It’s like creating your very own fast food meal.  Once prepared, you just grab and go.  Of course, it does take a little time and effort, but it’s  definitely well worth it.  I personally only prepare lunch and dinner meals.  I tend to cook breakfast daily.

  • Pick a day of the week that you have extra time to prepare meals. ¬†For myself, it’s typically on a Sunday.
  • You should know ahead of time what you will prepare. ¬†Plan your grocery shopping accordingly.
  • Try to choose foods that can be cooked at the same temperature. ¬†This will save you a little time. ¬†For example, I may cook chicken breast, fish, roasted asparagus, and sweet potatoes in the oven at the same time. ¬†They all cook at various times¬†but utilize the same temperature setting.
    • I typically prepare two proteins, usually chicken and fish. ¬†I’ll eat one for lunch and one for dinner. ¬†I prep about 3 days worth of meals. ¬†After 3 days I get tired of eating the same thing and my schedule permits the cooking of additional meals.
  • If you don’t have time during the week to do additional cooking, you’ll want to prepare your entire week of meals in one day.
  • Make sure you have plenty of containers for your meals.

Some of you may be thinking, “I have a family.  What are they supposed to eat?”  Great question!  My response is simple.  Encourage your family to transition into eating better and living a healthy lifestyle as well.  Initially, it may be a difficult task.  Be creative!  Make eating healthy tasty and enjoyable!

Initially, it may be a difficult task. ¬†Be creative! ¬†Make eating healthy tasty and enjoyable! ¬†Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. ¬†Once your entire family is on board, you’ll find that having ready made meals is such a lifesaver!

If your days are anything like mine, you work, pick up the kid(s), ensure homework is completed, and then you’re hauling your children to their extracurricular activities. ¬†A ready made meal would sure come in handy! ¬†Give it a try and let me know what you think! Happy Prepping!

Miss Sherri

Happy New Year

Originally published January 1, 2016

As the year comes to a close, this is the time that many of you begin to reflect upon your year, thinking about all of your accomplishments as well as areas of improvement.

As I reflect upon my own year, I realize this year has brought upon many changes in all aspects in my life; some good, some not so much.  Learning how to deal with the changes that occur within your life aids in your personal growth and development.  Have you had changes in your life that have forced you to grow?  I certainly have!

Traditionally on New Year’s Eve, people make New Year Resolutions.  By definition, a resolution is a firm decision to do/not do something.  Unfortunately, many people go year after year and never keep those resolutions.  Rather than making resolutions, it may be more effective to set goals.  By definition, a goal is a desired result or something you are aiming towards.  Therefore, if it is your desire to lose weight, eat healthy, etc., set a goal, not a resolution.  Listed are a few of my goals for 2016:

  1. Be a better me
    1. This is always a goal of mine.  This is something that I work on daily.  Daily, I strive to be a better Christian, a better mom, a better daughter, sister, etc.  The saying, “New Year, New Me” is very clich√©, but, daily I’m striving to be a new and better me.  When you constantly remain the same, your situation remains the same as well.
  2. Better business woman
    1. This, and all of my goals could fit under my first goal because it’s all about personal development.  I have several business goals that I would like to achieve.  I am elated to report that I have already began putting them in place.
  3. Fitness, health, and wellness
    1. I’m sure this one doesn’t come as a surprise to you.  My goal with this is to remain consistent with both my workouts and my nutrition.  There are many times that I am not consistent with both of them at the same time.  I know that being consistent with my workouts and nutrition (at the same time) will yield the results that I would like to achieve.

What are your goals for 2016?  I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

Miss Sherri

Whatsa Macro?

Originally published February 19, 2015

If you’ve checked out fitness posts on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen the term “macro” mentioned within the post.  Everyone is talking about their macros and you may be wondering, whatsa macro?  Macro is short for macronutrients.  Let’s break it down.  Macro means large.  Nutrients are substances needed for growth and metabolism in the body.  Therefore, macronutrients are substances needed in large amounts for growth and metabolism in the body.  There are three macronutrients:  Protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Importance of Protein

Protein can help you lose fat, build muscle, and improve your overall general appearance.  It aids in growth, tissue repair, helps with your immune health, makes essential hormones and enzymes, provides energy when carbohydrates are not available, and preserves lean muscle mass.  The daily recommended protein intake is 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  Currently I’m taking in 1 gram per pound of body weight, putting me at 140 grams of protein per day.

Importance of Carbohydrates

Generally speaking, the majority of your caloric intake should come from carbohydrates (may vary depending on your specific goals).  Carbs are the body’s main source for fuel and energy.  They provide glucose to all of our tissues and cells in the body.  Carbohydrates are needed for the central nervous system and other main organs such as our brain, heart and kidneys to function properly.  Carbohydrates can be stored and later used for energy.  Carbohydrates also play a role in our intestinal health.  Your carbohydrate intake is your total daily calories less your protein and fat calories.  My total carb intake per day is 160 grams or 640 calories.  Again, the amount of carbohydrates you take in will depend on your current goals.

Importance of Fats

Contrary to popular belief, consuming fats do not make you fat.  Consuming an excess of calories, whether it comes from fat, protein, or carbs, makes you fat, not the intake of fat alone.  Now that we have that settled, let’s continue.  Fats help with normal growth and development, gives you energy, helps with the absorption of some vitamins, gives cushion to your organs, maintains your cells, and gives taste, stability, and consistency to foods.  There are three main types of fats:  trans, saturated, unsaturated.  Trans fat is the unhealthiest of all the fats.  It has been shown to lead to an increase in your bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.  They should be avoided.  Trans fat is typically found in fried foods, fast foods, chips, cookies, etc.  For the most part it is found in all the foods we know we shouldn’t be eating anyway.  Saturated fat is not as unhealthy as trans fat, but it’s still not good for you either, especially in large amounts.  Saturated fat has been known to cause high cholesterol.  Saturated fats can be found in beef, veal, lamb, pork, butter, lard, and cream just to name a few.  Intake of saturated fats should be limited.  Unsaturated fat has been shown to decrease the risks of heart disease as well as lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol.  Unsaturated fats are most commonly found in fish, nuts, nut butters, avocados, olive oil, and seeds.  The majority of our fat intake should come from unsaturated fats.  Fat should be 20-30% of your diet.  Personally, I choose 25%.  My daily fat intake is 44g.  Calculate your macros here.

For myself, this is the diet that I am currently following.  If I were competing, I would follow a stricter plan or incorporate some form of carb cycling to get my desired results.  At times, people take the IIFYM approach to the extremes.  Some will consume a lot of unhealthy foods and then give the excuse that it fits their macros.  Yes, at times I will have Oreos, skittles, or peanut M & M’s and yes, it does fit into my macros but there’s a downfall.  Per example, 1/4 cup of skittles is 37g of carbohydrates with no nutritional  value.  They’re 160 calories, contain 1.5g of fat and 30g of sugar.  1/4 cup of fresh pineapple is only about 5-6g carbs and provides vitamin C.  The pineapple is only about 20 calories and only has about 4g of sugar.  It’s obvious which snack would be more beneficial to you but if you just have to have the skittles or your favorite snack, have them; just know that you are giving up a lot of calories for non-nutritional foods and will need to adjust your macros accordingly.  Many people feel less restricted when following the IIFYM method.  Which method of eating works best for you?

Easy Carb Cycling Meal Plan

Originally posted January 29, 2015

Carb cycling is an eating plan with alternating high-carb and low-carb days.  You can even choose to add in a reward day!  How awesome is that?

High carbohydrate days promotes muscle growth by stimulating an insulin response, which sends nutrients to your muscle cells.  High carb days also replenishes your glycogen stores (fuel for muscles) and makes you feel energized.

Low carb days promote fat loss.  You may notice feeling a little tired on your low carb days.  The body is tricked into burning fat for fuel instead of the sugar the body would typically get from carbohydrates.  It’s just that simple.

There are multiple ways that you can choose to do a carb cycle.  You can choose to alternate your high and low carbs daily, once every two days, even three days depending on the results you are trying to achieve.  Alternately, depending on your training habits and goals, you may decide to have two high carb days to one low carb day.  You may also decide to manipulate your carbs by only consuming them in the morning.  You may have to play around with different carb cycling patterns to see which one works best for your body and your lifestyle.

Below is the easy carb cycling meal plan I followed along with the experiences I had.

Day 1

This morning 1/12/15, I began my carb cycling.  I have chosen to alternate my high and low carb days daily with a possible cheat day on Saturday or Sunday.  This morning I weighed in at 136.5.  I planned out my carbohydrates for the day.  My goal is to stay below 70g.  I normally take in approximately 250g.  Here is what I planned for my low carb day:

Oatmeal-27g

Planters honey roasted peanuts-7g

1/2 grapefruit-13g

blueberries-2g

walnuts-2g

Protein bar-9g

Protein-8g

Total 68g carbs

My first low carb day went well!  I took in more carbs than planned but stayed below 100g.  I took in an additional 10g of carbs.  The extra carbs came from miscellaneous foods such as lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sausage.  I use the myfitnesspal application to keep track of my foods.  I didn’t eat my 1/2 grapefruit.  I instead had 1% milk with my protein shake.  I have recently realized that I do not enjoy my protein mixed with water only.  It may be time to search for a new protein.  My energy level was great throughout the day.  I had a short, but effective workout today.  I trained legs.  My workout last 39:01 and I burned 772 calories.  I drank just under a gallon of water throughout the day.  My total calorie count for the day was 1564.

Day 2 (1/13/15)

I weighed in this morning at 133 lbs.  I didn’t plan my carbs for the day.  In general, I tend to stick to eating healthy carbs and don’t typically go over my goal intake.  My total carb count for the day was 154g.  My total calories were 1786.  The carbs that I took in included oatmeal, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, mozzarella cheese, walnuts, pineapples, 2 slices whole wheat bread, banana, peanut butter, and a protein bar.  I was able to get in a nice long workout today.  I worked out for about 1 1/2 hours and burned 1848 calories.  I trained back and shoulders.  I also did cardio and abs.

Day 3 (1/13/15)

As you can see, I’m looking a little “fluffier” this morning around my midsection due to the increased carb intake yesterday.  My weight remained consistent at 133 lbs.  I have an unexpected day off from work due to the weather.  Hopefully, I can still stick to the plan.  My plan is pretty much the same as it was Monday, my last low carb day.  Today, I did very well sticking to the eating plan.  I took in 72g of carbs.  However, I couldn’t push myself to get in a workout.  It was a lazy day of eating and sleeping.

Today, I did very well sticking to the eating plan.  I took in 72g of carbs.  However, I couldn’t push myself to get in a workout.  It was a lazy day of eating and sleeping.

Day 4 (1/14/15)

Looking fairly good after my low carb day.  My weight remains the same.  Today I took in 197g of carbs, all healthy carbs except one.  I decided to have a small bag of Cheetos.  Hey, what can I say?  It fit my macros, but that’s a topic of discussion for another day.  I did a callisthenic home workout along with some free weight sets for my arms.  I burned just over 1000 calories.

Day 5

Day 6

My thoughts:

Carb cycling is a great way to lose weight.  It helps you get rid of excess water weight as well as burn off more calories.

Looking at pictures, it seems as though my body peaked and looked its best at day 4.

If you are looking to make subtle changes over time, then the every other day cycle would be the route to take.

If you are looking for more drastic changes, then I would recommend 2-3 low carb days followed by 1 high carb day.

Bottom line, if you are looking to lose weight, carb cycling may be an option for you.

If my plan seems to loose or if you are looking for a more specific weight loss meal plan, you may want to check out this carb cycling book that includes recipe ideas.

If you happen to give it a try, let me know what you think.

day 1
jan 15

The Struggle is Real

Originally posted December 31, 2014

According to the Urban dictionary, the phrase “The struggle is real”, denotes a situation where the user wishes to express that they are encountering some sort of undesirable difficulty, but dealing with it.  Currently, my undesirable difficulty is food.  I struggle with it on a day-to-day basis.  During the off-season, my goal is to put on more weight.  I have therefore increased my daily caloric intake.  Unfortunately, I have been slack.  I’ve been indulging in my favorite fast food restaurants and eating my favorite candies as though it will not be present tomorrow.  I try to “make up” for it by doing a little extra in the gym.  As most of you know, you can’t out exercise a bad diet.  Maintaining a proper diet during both the on and off-season is important.  It is frustrating to me because I know what I need to do to get back on track.  I am however having difficulty putting it into action.  Each week begins with me setting the goal to get my diet in order.  I approach the week ecstatic about my goals because it’s a new start, a new beginning, a chance to make improvements.  By the end of the week I’m having BoJangles and eating peanut M&M’s.  Unfortunately, what you eat in private, you wear in public.  It’s such a true statement.  My midsection is a clear indicator of what I have been eating in private.

What are my plans for change?  Well, I began writing this post about 2 months ago.  My plans from 2 months ago has definitely changed.  My plans have changed because my goals have changed.  When I began writing this post, I was planning for the upcoming competition season.  Due to scheduling conflicts, I do not foresee any competitions in the new year (sad face).  That of course does not stop my grind.  I continue to train hard because I love it.  I see it as an opportunity to bring a better package when I do step on stage again.  Not participating in competitions does not give me an excuse to have poor eating habits and indulge in all of the junk that I love.  I still plan to keep up with my macros and only indulge in treats sparingly.  What are your fitness goals for the new year?  Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Signing off for 2014.

Happy New Year!

In the Beginning

Originally posted October 28, 2014

In the beginning of my fitness journey, I had no clue what I was doing or what I was really getting myself into.  Growing up and into my adult year I was always considered “skinny”.  I thought I could eat what ever I wanted and would not gain weight.  Boy was I wrong!  My reckless eating habits eventually caught up with me.  Initially, I was okay with the extra weight because no one was calling me “skinny”.  Apparently the weight gain was more out of control than I thought.  My mother purchased me a scale for my birthday, then weights with a workout video for Christmas.  Her subtle hints clued me in that I needed to make some major life changes.

Like most people, I thought losing weight meant do lots of cardio and that’s exactly what I did.  For about 2 years, my exercises consisted of the treadmill, running, and Wii fitness programs.  I performed them diligently and I did lose a few pounds, but nothing dramatic to write home about.  Last year I began to watch fitness videos on YouTube.  The young lady I was watching at the time incorporated weights into her routines.  I began to do the same I was following along but I still mostly did cardio workouts.

In January of this year, I made a conscious decision to make attempts to get fit and stay fit.  I immediately began surfing the net for workout programs that would yield the best results.  I came across the Butt Bible by Pauline Nordin.  I followed the program for 6 weeks.  For the first 3 weeks, I only did lower body.  I began to see results!  I continued with the program and also incorporated the upper body workouts into my weekly schedule.  The more I saw results, the hungrier I became, the more I wanted to workout and learn more.  Although I was seeing results, something was still missing.  I learned that I needed to change my diet as well to yield the maximum results.  If you ask me, maintaining the diet is the hardest part.

I eventually hired a trainer and competed in the GK Classic, a non-sanctioned competition held twice a year in March and August.  Thus far, I have only competed in one show, but have plans to compete in other shows along with the GK Classic next year.  I have learned many things along the way and still have lots more to learn.  The journey in the fitness world can be both exciting and exhausting.  The awesome thing is you are always working on a better you!