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Be A Badass Bride: Get Fit for “I do” and Beyond

I don’t think of myself as your typical bride-to-be. We’ve been engaged for two weeks and endless amounts of people have been asking me where the wedding will be, what theme I’m going with, what color the bridesmaids dresses will be? UM..I have no idea. 

But I could tell you exactly what type of hardwood floor and kitchen countertop I’d like in my future home, how I’m going to decorate my office and that there will be a kick-ass gym in the garage. 

So the other day I was looking at a bridal checklist organized by months up until the wedding (that we still don’t have a confirmed date for) and one caught my eye:

“Find the perfect dress.”

Oh hell. Can’t I just wear some Converse and Lululemon leggings? I kid, of course. I’m sure dress shopping will be fun, it’s just not something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl. Then this thought popped into my head:

“I have to get into shape before I start trying on dresses.”

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WHAT? Did I really just think that? First of all, what does “getting into shape” even mean? If I really had to define goals for myself at the very moment, it’d probably be putting on some muscle; I’ve had low energy since my celiac diagnosis and my workouts have been lacking.

So basically I need to start lifting some heavy shit. But for a dress fitting….NO. To me, this frame of mind is just not ok. Perhaps the thought popped into my head because it’s so common to hear women say they need to lose weight, get toned or whatever it may be for their wedding day.

First off, how about we love ourselves as we currently are and if we do want to make a change, we do so for ourselves. So that beyond the hectic wedding planning days and the short five hours of the reception, we continue to go to the gym and eat well.

Living a continuous healthy lifestyle vs. getting fit for a special event.

It’s drilled into our heads. We set goals so that we look a certain way for something, rather than for ourselves. I know so many brides who come back from their honeymoon feeling like crap and having gained a minimum of a few pounds. Why?  Because we practically starve ourselves during the months leading up to the wedding and once that last photo is taken we’re eating and drinking everything in sight so we no longer feel deprived.

So how can we overcome this frame of mind?

1. Know that you are good enough, right now. Your fiancé did get down on one knee and ask you to spend the rest of your life him, and I doubt he said “Will you marry me, once you’re in better shape.” You are enough, just the way you are.

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2. If you want to change your body, do it for you. Not for the dress, photos or because you want to look better than your fiancé’s ex who is also getting married soon. Do this for you and let the new healthy habits become a part of who you are so they stick around long after your wedding day.

3. Put down the Skinny Latte and magazine, get off the elliptical and lift some heavy shit. Not sure where to begin when it comes to an exercise program? Start with these five workouts in my free workout booklet

4. Please, please don’t starve yourself. Instead of removing foods from your diet, add healthy ones in. Have two servings of veggies with lunch and dinner and make sure each meal has a protein in it. This way you can still eat some of the delicious foods you love while adding in extra nutrients, all without feeling deprived.

We all want to look good as we’re up at the altar saying our vows, I get it.  But the idea of getting in shape just for the “I do” doesn’t sit well with me. Yes, doing intense workouts and staying on top of my nutrition is something I’ve been thinking about a bit more than usual since I said yes, and that isn’t a bad thing. But forget doing it for the big day. 

I lift heavy and eat well because I want to be a bit more badass. There, doesn’t that sound better?

5 Ways to Dine Out and Not Feel Fat

I get it. Dining out while adhering to a nutrition plan is tough. The yummy warm bread on the table, delicious wine, tempting menu options..we’ve all been there.

IMG_4336Here are a few common struggles clients have come to me with:

 

“Cait, how am I going to be good when I go out to eat tonight?”

or..

“Cait, I have a trip planned and I just know I’m going to eat crap all weekend.”

or this..

“Cait, I have plans with friends who I love but every time we get together there is way too much alcohol involved, I know this isn’t going to end well.”

 
So let me tell you how I would have responded to these when I first began working as a Personal Trainer….
 
“Are you kidding me? I’m pretty sure no one is going to be force feeding you food or alcohol. Get a grip, find some willpower and eat only protein with veggies with a 1 drink limit.”
 
Now although this advice may still be true, it’s a little mean, not realistic and boring–I wouldn’t want to go to brunch or out to dinner with these guidelines. So here’s my take on this now that I’ve got much more experience and oh so much wisdom 😉 under my belt.
 
1. PLAN AHEAD: If you are going on vacation, pack some protein bars, nuts or other snacks with you. (Here are some of my favorites). This is an easy fix to what could be a sticky situation. Traveling can often mean the best food options are not available at all times, so take some of the edge off with your favorite bar instead of paying the food court at the airport a visit.
 
I do this one often: Don’t go to a restaurant ridiculously hungry. Have a little something beforehand! This can be anything from a protein shake or bar to a few slices of turkey breast or some fruit and veggies. You’re less likely to eat the entire bread basket and you’ll order from the menu with your eyes instead of your stomach. Speaking of the menu, look at it before you go. I enjoy doing this, it gets me excited about the cool new place we’re going to try. I usually choose 1-2 options from the appetizers and main course and then make my decision once there. This way I’m not persuaded by what others at the table are ordering, I’ve made up my mind.
 
2. STOP EATING WHEN YOU’RE ALMOST FULL: Wherever you are, don’t stuff yourself. It is ok to leave a bit of food left on your plate. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, I usually say at 80%. You know that feeling when you’ve eaten so much you feel like you need to unbutton your pants and lay down? Yeah, no one likes that. So don’t let it happen to you.
 
3. WHAT’S YOUR DRINK MAX? How many alcoholic beverages can you have before you’ll feel like crap (both mentally and physically) the following day? For some this may be 2, for others it could be a few more. Know how many drinks you’ll have before you get to where you’re headed. And don’t tell me you had planned on having 3 but somehow you ended up with 5, that’s just nonsense, you’re better than that. Take some control over what you’re putting into your body. A trick that works for some is this: if you’re going out with a significant other or friend tell them your drink max. So if you’re allowing yourself 2 glasses of wine and all of a sudden the waitress comes over to pour everyone a third, your friend will have your back and remind you “Hey, you’ve already had those 2 glasses.” Friends are the best.
 
4. WORKOUT BEFORE YOU GO: Put your body in a state where it’s going to use what you’re eating as fuel. How is this done? Exercise before you go. It should be an intense workout like intervals and doesn’t have to be long. 1 minute as fast as you can on your choice of equipment, 2 minutes at a lower intensity, repeat 7-10 times for a total of 21-30 minutes. The more intense your workout is the longer you will burn calories even after you’ve finished working out. This is called EPOC or excess post-oxygen consumption, it’s pretty cool and something we all should take advantage of.
 
5. YOU’RE GOING TO BE OK: So you went to an amazing dinner party and ended up not eating well and drinking too much. Now you feel awful not only physically but you’re pissed at yourself as well and totally guilty. Get over it. There’s nothing you can do about it now. Hopefully the food was delish and you enjoyed yourself, and it’s time to move on. Use this as a learning experience, get to the gym the following day and eat foods that will nourish and fuel you. Life will go on and your goals are all still attainable, I promise you that. 
 
Food is meant to be enjoyed, don’t drive yourself nuts over what you could and should be doing. Just do your best each day, you owe it to yourself.

3 Workouts You Can Do in 20 Minutes

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I get it. You’re busy, we all are. Getting to the gym for an hour can seem next to impossible at times so we skip it…. again and again.

But who says workouts have to be an hour long? If you have 20 minutes to spare (yes, you do) then you have plenty of time to get in an effective workout. Short workouts are my favorite because I work extra hard, knowing it’ll be over soon.

Rules for 20 minute workouts:

1. Use exercises that’ll get you the biggest bang for your buck. This means multi-joint movements that utilize lots of muscles at once (think squats, lunges, push-ups). Big movements get our heart rate up and increase the metabolic demand on our bodies.

2. Challenge yourself. This could mean using loads that are heavier than you’d normally choose, moving faster through the sets, resting less etc. You want the intensity to be high so you burn calories long after the workout is over, this is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

3. Don’t rest longer than you need to. This should go without saying since the workout is only 20 minutes long you don’t want to be resting for the majority of it.

4. Use proper form and technique. Always always always. Just because this is short and intense doesn’t mean the movements can look like crap. Choose quality over quantity.

Now let’s check out a few sample 20 minute workouts. Feel free to use these or make some of your own up using the rules above.

*Note: No matter the duration of a workout, please warm-up first. Even if you’ve just got 20 minutes, spend the first 5 doing something simple. This could be going through the exercises in your circuit with bodyweight only for a round or two, or you can try this:

-Foam roll, bridges, plank, downward dog, bodyweight squats (1-2 rounds 10-15 reps)

For each of the workouts below you can:

Perform these exercises one after the other and repeat as many rounds as possible within the amount of time you have. Take note of how many rounds you do so you can see your improvement each time you perform this workout.

OR

Set a timer and do each movement for 30 seconds-1 minute before moving onto the next, resting minimally between sets.

Sample Workout 1:

1a. Goblet squat x 10 reps
1b. Inverted row x 10 reps
1c. Push–ups x 10 reps

Sample Workout 2:

1a. Walking lunges x 8-10 reps each leg
1b. Bilateral bent-over row (both arms each time) x 8-10 reps
1c. Push press (dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell) x 8-10 reps

Sample Workout 3:

1a. Romanian deadlift or single leg RDL x 10 reps
1b. Chin-ups (or assisted chin-ups) x 10 reps
1c. Dumbbell bench press, alternating arms x 10 reps 

There may only be 3 exercises in each circuit but don’t let this fool you. Work hard and you’ll find out just how effective you can be in a short amount of time. The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing quick workouts like this, bodyweight or with an added load. Don’t let lack of time keep you from moving. Make the most of what you’ve got and get on with your day.

Want more quick workouts? Download my “5 fast, fat burning workouts” booklet here!

The Disease That Saved My Life

As I finished my last bite of grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers with balsamic dressing on a roll, my phone rang with news that was going to change my life forever. I have Celiac Disease. The last few words of the conversation with my doctor were what I can no longer eat and that I should start implementing this as soon as possible. My response, while smiling, “Well, I guess that’s the last roll I’m ever going to have.” I threw away the brown paper bag from the deli and haven’t looked back.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten damages the small intestine. We’ve got these little fingerlike projections that line the small intestine and promote nutrient absorption. So when someone with celiac eats gluten (a protein found in rye, wheat and barley) our immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and damaging the villi, making it really hard for our bodies to absorb nutrients properly. Thus leading to abdominal pain and bloating, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, irritability, arthritis, osteoporosis, migraines, depression, infertility and so on.

So why was I smiling when told I should say goodbye to pizza, bread, stuffing, cookies, granola, pancakes, bagels, croutons, pies, sauces and everything else we’re supposed to eat on a Friday night, for our birthday or on Thanksgiving?

Because from that moment on, I knew I could start to feel better.

No more leaving a restaurant mid-meal because I was sick, waking up at 2am extremely bloated or canceling dinner plans with friends due to nausea. I’m still in the process of having tests done to see exactly how depleted my body is of certain nutrients (I’ve most likely had this for a minimum of 2 years which can lead to lots of vitamins and minerals not being absorbed). I know that soon I will start to have enough energy for a kick-ass workout, I can get rid of the anemia and not have these bruises on my legs and work for more than a few hours without that brain fog.

I am lucky. How I feel going forward is up to me, my health lies in my very own hands (or shall I say, fork).

Sure, going out to eat is a pain in the ass. I have to check menus when choosing a restaurant and know every ingredient a meal consists of. But that will get easier. I’ve been cooking more and made a dish that somewhat resembled chicken parmesan which I’m confident will be better than the real thing once I have more practice. I may or may not have tried a few products that proudly display “gluten free” on the box. (I haven’t had macaroni and cheese in years but you know when you’re told you can’t do or have something and you suddenly want it even more?) Well, that happened. Annie’s gluten-free mac and cheese isn’t so bad!

What I’m loving most is I get to totally geek out. “The Gluten-Free Bible” by Jax Peters Lowell, “Gluten is my Bitch” by April Peveteaux and “Simply Gluten-Free Magazine” just to name a few books scattered across my coffee table right now. Food shopping has become quite educational, reading every ingredient on labels and realizing how much crap we are all actually eating. As a fitness and nutrition coach I’ve always suggested clients purchase foods that are minimally processed. I now believe that more than ever.

I was diagnosed two weeks ago. I remember my symptoms becoming quite bad almost two years ago. Yep, you did the math right. It took me about two years to get my butt to the doctor. What the eff? Aren’t I a health and wellness advocate? “Listen to your body and give it the love and respect it deserves” are favorite words of mine. So why not follow my own advice?

I was busy, life got in the way, I’ll give myself another month and maybe it’ll go away, it’s probably nothing. Also known as, I’m an idiot. Not feeling well day after day and making up excuses. What example was I setting for my clients? And for those of you who aren’t taking care of yourselves as best you should, what example are you setting for your loved ones?

Celiac or not, we’ve all got goals. Whether you just want to feel better, have more energy, lose fat, get stronger, run a half marathon, you’ve got to show yourself some love. Be kind to your body. Exercise it, nourish it, love it. And if something doesn’t feel right or if you’re working your ass off in the gym and still not seeing results, get it checked out. Who knows, it could be something as small as a bread crumb keeping you from being and feeling your very best.

 

My Fridge, Exposed.

I recently heard a radio show talking about that awkward moment when you’re at the register of a grocery store with all of your food laid out on the belt, and you can feel the person behind you staring at your almost purchase. I thought, “Ha, that is SO true”! It does feel a bit invasive. What we choose to eat is a big part of who we are, so if you’re in line with me at Whole Foods you’re kinda getting a sneak peek of well, me.

Then I flipped this around and realized I am pretty judgmental of what other people choose to buy. I will often be in line thinking “Oh no, you’re going to eat THAT?” or “They should really use butter instead of margarine.”

Who the heck am I to judge? Sure, if it’s a client I’m food shopping with of course I can make suggestions about what should go in that cart. But poor Susie who is trying to leave the store quickly before her kids flip the shopping cart over just wants to buy the sugary cereal and cookies and get the heck out of there. She doesn’t need me staring at her food choices with my jaw dropped to the floor .

I will work on being less judgmental while food shopping. But in the meantime I thought I could make it up to all of you by showing what’s in my fridge at this very second.

IMG_3775 2As I look through this I realize it isn’t perfect. I bought organic half & half but the milk could be better, and the chicken we grilled yesterday should be in a glass container rather than plastic.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

If non-organic milk and a plastic tupperware or two are my biggest fridge problems, I think I’ll be ok.

Here’s what we’ve got:

Fruits & Veggies:

-Organic pre-washed arugula

-Organic pre-washed spinach

-Organic kale/ swiss chard

-Organic asparagus

-Organic lemons

-Organic strawberries

-Organic blueberries

Dairy:

-Whole milk

-Organic half & half

-Grass-fed butter (Kerrygold brand)

-Organic sliced white American cheese

Proteins:

-Chicken breasts (we like Bell & Evans organic)

-Eggs (Usually Nellie’s Cage Free or Pete & Gerry’s)

-Grass-fed ground beef

-Wild-caught salmon

-Sliced ham

Dips & Dressings:

-Guacamole (if not pre-made at Whole Foods then a container of it that I’ve made)

-Organic salsa

Drinks:

-Water (we like the Zero water filter)

-Lime seltzer

There’s usually almond milk in there too but crap, I forgot to put it on my list

Here’s what you can’t see due to my lack of photography skills:

-Roasted red peppers

-Balsamic dressing

-Frank’s hot sauce

-Organic ketchup

-Probiotics

-Fish oil (for the dogs!)

-BBQ sauce

-Tahini paste

What’s in the freezer, you ask? The entire freezer is currently stuffed with raw meat, spinach and carrots ground up for the dogs (No, I don’t do that myself, we have it shipped every few weeks). But when a new shipment comes in it leaves room for nothing else. Not even our ice cream. Bummer. When it isn’t so stuffed in there we usually have organic frozen broccoli and wild-caught frozen cod.

Everything that’s in here now is pretty standard. Maybe the meat or fish will change if there’s something on sale or if I’m trying a new recipe. I buy organic, grass-fed or wild-caught as much as possible. Always trying to keep the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” in mind.

This food will last us a few days, we usually need to restock on the proteins and some veggies mid-week. Over the summer most of this will be thrown on the grill for easy burgers, chicken breasts, fish and veggies accompanied by a big salad.

So there you have it, my fridge exposed. Stay tuned for what’s in the pantry and a few of my favorite easy recipes.

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