One of my favorites!

I’m always looking for new ways to make veggies and this has become one of our staples when we are craving pasta or italian food.

Spaghetti Squash with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

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It’s really simple with only 3 ingredients and TONS of flavor! All you need is a spaghetti squash, a can of fire roasted tomatoes and garlic powder or fresh garlic.

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Here is the recipe…

Take spaghetti squash and pierce with holes (about 5-6 all over) to let steam escape while cooking. Cook in microwave for 8 min.

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Take squash out (be VERY careful…it will be extremely hot!) and let cool for about 10 min.

After it has cooled, cut squash, length wise, and scoop out all seeds from the middle.

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Next, place one of the squash halves on a plate, “meat side” down and add 2 tbsp of water to the plate. Wrap with plastic wrap and cook in the microwave for 6-8 min. This will all depend on how big your squash is. Do this for both halves. Again, be careful taking out.

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Once cooked, pour about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and heat up. Scrape out all of the spaghetti squash into the pan with a fork. The squash, when out of the shell, will look like cooked spaghetti.

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Next pour your fire roasted tomatoes on top (juice and all) and add garlic powder or fresh garlic. How much garlic is completely up to you. I love garlic, so I put a ton on.

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Stir and cook/warm up for about 5 min making sure all the ingredients are combined.

Lastly…ENJOY!!!

 

BioForce HRV

For the past couple of days I have posted these pics of a graph on my Instagram and Facebook.

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One day it showed a number of 66 and a Red box. The next day it showed a number of 70 and a Green box.

So what the hell does all that mean and why was I posting that or even caring?

I was showing my BioForce HRV (Heart Rate Variability) measurements for that particular day. And over the past month I have found out just how important measuring my HRV has been.

BioForce HRV basically, in so many words, measures the activity of the autonomic nervous system. Which elicits a sympathetic or parasympathetic response.

(For those who might need a human physiology refresher: Sympathetic is your “Fight or Flight”. Parasympathetic is your “rest and digest ”.)

Why is this important?

It’s important because in the simplest terms, I am measuring how my body responds to stress. Not just the stress placed on my body from training and working out but also the stress placed on my body from everyday factors and home life.

This allows me to adjust my intensity of my training on a day to day and a week-to-week basis, so I don’t push my body too far.

If you are a client of mine at our training facility (Full Throttle Athletics), you hear us preach about recovery day in and day out.

The nice thing about measuring your HRV, it’s not only taking into account training stressors but also life stressors. Many people don’t understand that a stressful day at work, or home, coupled with a high intensity training session, can actually do more harm than good. So getting your “ass kicked” at the gym, is not always a good thing.

If your body is chronically in a sympathetic state due to high stress situations, the HRV reading will show you this and you will know that your next training should be at a lower intensity to ramp up a parasympathetic response and help de-stress the body.

The moral of this story is you can’t train at 100% intensity at 100% of the time and expect to get results. If your body never shifts to a parasympathetic state, it’s not resting and recovering from ANY of the stress in your life and you will plateau.

In an upcoming post, I will be sharing more about this and what I am learning.

 

 

 

 

 

Update: 3 weeks of doing….Nothing

Today marks 3 weeks from my last post (my “confession” of having to decide not to do the bikini comp) and I have learned A LOT about how my body reacts to stress, food and rest more than ever.

Over the past 3 weeks I have been doing a lot of “nothing” really when it comes to training. Mainly, due to my surgery 2 weeks ago, I have been walking on the treadmill a lot. Fun! ;)

Also, with the all of the holiday goodies, I’m not going to lie, I have been eating my fair share of cookies, candy and ice cream.

With all of that said, I’m happy to say I’m actually down 6 pounds from 3 weeks ago.

How?

How am I eating “junk” (not all the time mind you) and barely doing any sort of exercise, yet losing weight?

Simple…over the past 3 weeks I have been taking a lot of stress off my body.

I can’t tell you how important resting your body from not only physical stress (training and dieting) but also from mental stress, can help you reach your fat loss goals.

Actually…I can. LOL That is what my next post will be all about. And how you can measure this stress.

Now obviously I cannot keep eating the way I have been and ONLY walking on the treadmill forever and believe I will get the results I am looking for. But, for the rest of this week, I will be.

One of the tools I have used to “de-stress” my body is Bioforce HRV. It’s been a huge help and I wish I would have started using it earlier. Check back on Friday and I’ll explain how I have used it to monitor my stress levels and loss body fat.

Thank You

I was extremely overwhelmed and humbled by all the wonderful support and kind words people sent me from my last post about not being able to compete and feeling like a failure.

I didn’t post all of that to get the “warm and fuzzies” but to show that yes, even if you do put in all the hard work, dieting, blood, sweat and tears…we are all human and things can happen.

Once of the most touching messages I received was from a client. This literally brought me to tears…

Thank you for your blog. It means the world. I’m having a real hard time right now; trying to get it together. So much stress with work that’s it’s been an extreme roller coaster and yes I’m an extreme emotional eater.
In the past when I fall i can get right back up again; this time I haven’t been able too. I had a surgery over thanksgiving and my body isn’t healing fast or easily like it has in the past. I feel stuck again!

Its been extremely hard for me this past 2 years to lose weight, eat healthy and change my way of thinking and feel I’ve accomplished something,that I felt very alone. I say alone because i don’t know if anyone could really understand. 

But I knew if I want to achieve my goals I have to be honest with everything to get my mind right and to get the right support. The mind can be so evil!!!!

I say all this because your blog helped me to see its ok, it’s natural. It’s important to take time and reflect but do NOT stop training and do not give up! From reading your blog it’s like a light went off and everything FTA has educated and trained me on is flashing back, per say. I am my own destroyer!!! 

So I know I probably rambled a lot. But I felt as if I could share with you because you would understand! Thank you!!!

THIS is why I post about my “failures”. When I read a blog/story about someone who has gone through, or is going through, the same thing I have, it also gives me hope.

I love social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. LOVE IT! I love looking at how other people are training, eating, posing (bikini comps), etc. But the one thing I have noticed is people only post the good. Most will not post the videos of them NOT getting the rep or NOT having a good set.

We all need to fail. It sucks, but in the end, if you admit to that failure, you will get better.

So in the end of this all, I want to say “THANK YOU” to all of you who read my blog, who have commented on it and for all the encouraging words you have said to me over the past week. It truly means the world to me.

Learning from a Mistake, the Hard Way

I seriously thought about not writing this post. I mean, who would know, right? I could have just skipped this one and gone on talking about my next goals or another nutrition/fitness tip. But, then not only would I be cheating you (those who read) but I would be greatly cheating myself. As much as I hate to admit things like this, this is where I will become stronger.

A couple months ago I wrote about deciding not to do the bikini competition in September. I was 2 weeks out and I was not ready. Or I should say my “bikini body” was not ready. It was a difficult decision but one I was OK with.

I knew I was going to work my tail off and do a bikini competition on December 6th.

And I did.

I worked and trained and dedicated all my “training energy” to my December 6th comp. Well 2 days before the comp I had to make a decision. Was I (or my body) ready to hit the stage in a bikini and be judged?

Sadly, that answer is “No” and I had to decide not to compete for this one either.

This was taken on Friday, Dec 5th. I am going to admit, I don’t look bad. I will even say I think I look pretty damn good, but not “bikini competition” good and there is a huge difference.

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To say I feel like a complete and utter failure is an understatement. During my pregnancy I had decided on a bunch of goals to reach and get me back into “pre-baby body” shape and I have hit them all. And, like had have said previously, I NEED goals to work towards to keep me going. I decided to set my goals at doing more shows. So why am I failing and deciding a second time in a row NOT to do a comp? Especially so close to the show?

Simple answer…I got fancy.

When I say “fancy” I don’t mean with my training?

No, my training was on par, but fancy with my nutrition.

During the 8 months leading up to my first comp, my coach and I kept it simple. Lean protein, veggies and post workout carbs with “Reward meals” here and there. Was it boring as hell?

YES!

Did it work?

HELL YES!

But, after my second comp, I talked with my coach about my future goals and we decided to switch things up a bit nutrition wise. Then when that seemed to not work, we decided to switch it up even more. It just wasn’t working. I also believe my body has been under so much stress from the training and all the dieting throughout the year that nothing at this time would have worked.

So, as I said above, I decided to not compete.

(For those of you who are unfamiliar with stress, or I should say overstressed, on the body, it can lead to increases of cortisol in the body which in turn leads to belly fat. This belly fat is extremely hard to get rid of while your body is under this stress.)

So what now?

Well, I will say I took this past weekend to sulk a little, I ate pizza, ice cream and some cookies.

Remember…I am an emotional eater. LOL!

I took the time to really decide WHAT I want to do. Do I want to try again and go for another show? Do I want to do all that training and dieting again? I’ll be honest…I don’t know.

Of course I’m going to train, I just don’t know what for right now. I have some ideas, but I’m going to give it some thought. Right now I have about a month that I will not be able to train heavily.

I will be having a surgery in about 1.5 weeks (nothing serious…just cosmetic) so I will be taking that time to think about what I want to do. I can tell you I WILL get back on that stage, just don’t know if I want that to be soon or this time next year or maybe even 2016.

So basically all of that is one long, drawn out way of saying “This is what I learned…”

1. Use the K.I.S.S method. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!!!  Everyone wants to do the “next big thing” whether it be diet or training. If you are getting results, why look someplace else?

2. It’s not fun to fail (and yes that is what I did) but you need to own up to those failures and figure out WHY you failed. I did and now I’m working on getting back to my success.

3.  Keep going. By the time Friday morning rolled around I was done. I wanted to nothing to do with training or eating healthy or living a “healthy lifestyle”(like I said…I sulked). But I know that if I quit now, I would never know if I could get back on that stage.

Over the next 4 weeks I am making a commitment to myself to blog weekly, if not more. I need to make this commitment to strive to be better even when I can’t be at my best.

Are your kids sabotaging your diet?

Parker, my 18 month old, has this cute new thing she is doing now, she loves to feed mommy and daddy her food. Anything she doesn’t want, she comes over and tries to stuff it in our mouths. At first it’s cute, she’s mimicking us and learning how to feed others. Then after about…oh…3-5 times of her trying to shove food down our throats, it gets annoying.

The other day she was trying to feed me and without realizing it, she shoved a cookie in my mouth. Now, normally it would not be a big deal, but right now I have 3.5 weeks left of my prepping to get ready for my competition on December 6th. I’m not allowed to have cookies. Some people would say “Oh it’s just one cookie, it’s not that big of a deal” and in the grand scheme of things, yes, they are correct, but what about all the other food she has given me? Or the food that she left on her plate/bowl that well, we can waste right? So what do I do? Eat it. A bite here….a nibble there. It adds up.

Right now my calories/macros HAVE to be on point. I know exactly what I need to eat everyday to get those, so adding in extra eggs because I don’t want them to go to waste or letting her stuff a cookie in my mouth is bad. But what about for those moms (or dads) who are not trying to be that strict, just trying to eat clean and live healthy and already getting the daily calories they need? Well, more than likely it’s hurting you in some way. If a parent consumes up to 500 extra calories a day just by nibbling on their children’s food or eating their left overs so it doesn’t go to waste and you do that everyday for just 1 week, that is an extra 3500 calories!!! That is enough to add 1 pound of weight a week!!! Now, that might be a little on the extreme side, but you see where I’m coming from. These calories can really add up.

After thinking just about the added calories, I have really become aware of nibbling off P’s plate or letting her stuff food in my mouth. I say it that way, because that is what she really tries to do. Stuff all the food in my mouth :) So, next time you don’t want something to go to waste, don’t put it in your mouth. Try to wrap the food up so someone can eat it later, or if needed, throw it away. Your jeans will thank you! ;)

Yes…you can go on vacation during a bikini prep!

When I decided to do another comp that would take place at the beginning of December I was a little hesitant. Not because of the holidays (Halloween candy, Thanksgiving turkey) but because I was going on a vacation at the end of October. A cruise to be exact. And what do you do on a cruise?? Well, since I had never been on one before I had to go off of what I had heard and that was basically eat, eat, eat and drink, drink, drink! Not exactly what you would call a bikini prepping dream. LOL. But since it was already booked way ahead of time I decided lets take the time (2 weeks before the cruise to be exact) to do a mini-prep if you will. Try some new things out and see how my body responds.

For the 2 weeks leading up to my cruise I dieted down big time and increased the cardio. I would love to say that my body responded GREATLY and DAMN I looked HOTTTT! LOL…but well my body likes to play games with me and let things creep up when they are not suppose to. All in all, I did lose about 5 pounds and for a “vacation bikini body” I was happy.

But back to the actual eating/prepping on the cruise. I am very happy to say I didn’t gain 1 pound! I ate basically what I wanted, had a couple drinks everyday but I also made sure I trained. I believe we trained everyday except one. This is huge for me because being a former fat girl and a person who can have a love affair with a buffet, I kept it in check.

Here are pics from when I got back…

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Still have some work to do, but everything seems to be coming together for this comp. My iPhone sucks, but I promise..I have abs showing. ;)

Anyways, 5 weeks out and I am ready for this!

12 Weeks Out

As of today I am 12 weeks out to my next bikini comp. I have made huge improvements not only in my sleeping but my body composition in just one week. By upping my calories just by 200, I’ve noticed such a change. I am so excited to see how the next couple of weeks are going to go!

Here is a pic from last week. I was really bloated (oh the joys of being a woman), calories probably too low and my sleeping was pretty off. (I’m actually really embarrassed about this picture compared to where I was just a month before.)

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And here is this morning!!

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Here’s to the next 12 weeks!!! :)

*sigh*

That’s basically what I have been doing all this week.

For those who have been following my blog and goals, you know my next goal is a bikini comp on September 13th. Well I have decided to pull out of that one.

In short my body has not been cooperating the way it has for the past couple of comps and basically I am not ready for it. Upper body looks great. Lower body (thighs/calves) also look great. Abs/stomach…don’t know WTF is going on there. So why is my body not “cooperating” like it has? Well we did make some diet changes and my sleep has been pretty up and down for the last 6 weeks, which can and will mess with your body. And honestly these are the only things I can see that would make my body hold onto fat in the abdominal area.

But even this is not going to discourage me. I have decided to find out what went wrong and come back “stronger”. I am going to take the next 14 weeks to fix my diet and lean out for a competition on December 6th. My coach and I have a very strong game plan and I am very excited.

Here we go!

 

 

 

Spotlight: Amanda Wegner

I decided to write a post about Amanda because not only has she accomplished so much as such a young age, but I truly see her as an inspiration to all men and women.

I met Amanda when she started coming to BJ for personal training/KB training. Amanda was very overweight and at the age of 19, was looking at possibly being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes amongst other things. Amanda wanted a change, she wanted to be healthy, she wanted to live an active life. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy for her. But she stuck with it. She made the changes she needed to and has become an amazing athlete.

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(Picture on the Left is Amanda at age 18, around 300 lbs. Picture on the Right, Amanda now)

 

Here is our interview…..

What would you say your health was like before you started working out?

  • My health before beginning regular exercise was not good at all. My resting heart rate was probably in the 90s. I had difficulty going up a single flight of stairs, and keeping up with groups when walking. Mentally, I was also just not in a good place at all.

How much weight have you lost since you started?

  • It’s been up and down due to some health issues that kept me from training for 6 months, but the net loss is 80 pounds.

How has your food changed?

  • The biggest change was just cooking my own foods. Learning to cook simple, but tasty foods that were good for me. Learning that you don’t end a meal when you can’t eat any more. Sticking to the “basics” – meats, veggies, nuts, good grains – was really the only focus at the beginning.

What got you motivated to start working out and changing diet?

  • It wasn’t any one thing or event, but several years worth. Growing up I was always overweight, in 5th grade I was 200 lbs. From then until my freshman year of college I was always really upset about how I felt and looked. I didn’t feel that the person inside matched the person outside. I definitely dealt with a lot of name calling, jokes, laughter, etc. especially when I was at my highest weight. On a trip to Germany some kids were taking pictures and giggling. Couldn’t fit in the chairs at cafes, or in the seats in airplanes. I broke my bed frame sitting on the edge. Broke a (plastic) toilet lid sitting down to blow-dry my hair. Overall I was just not happy with the way I was.
  • I think I was in denial for a long time about how big I was getting, until I stepped on to a scale for the first time in years and years, and saw just under 300. So it all added up, but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. People always ask, “How do they not realize how fat they’re getting and just change?” It’s like anything – you don’t realize on a day to day basis that you’re getting older, or that your hair is growing, but one day it hits you. At least, that’s how it was for me. I had to come to terms with my poor health before I could tackle the task of improving it.

What got you interested in KBs?

  • I found kettlebell sport in an interesting time in my life. I played the trumpet from 6th grade through my first year of college. That was all I had really ever done, and I wouldn’t say I was an amazing player but I was good. So I just kinda went with it. After the first year of college I realized that I wasn’t passionate about it at all, I had just gotten swept along. That was really hard to come to terms with – I don’t want to play the trumpet… what do I DO with all my time?
    The first kettlebell workshop I attended, I think a few different things pulled me in. First, I was actually not bad, even just starting out. Somehow, despite never having done any kind of sport or exercise, I had pretty decent body control. Maybe I just had a blank slate…. they do say that it’s harder to change old habits than to create new ones. Being a perfectionist I loved the technical challenge it presented. I don’t event want to know how many hours I have spent watching myself lift…. watching others lift…. in real time… slow motion…. etc. It’s a lot. Second, it gave me an outlet for my competitiveness. The world of music is obviously a very competitive one, and without it, I didn’t have something to strive for.

What is your favorite part of training with KBs?

  • My favorite part of all of this is surpassing my own preconceived limits. There’s no way a year ago I would have said I could snatch a 24kg kettlebell almost 100 times…. as in, I would not even think it physically possible. But it happened somehow. Now I’m trying to find how to get out of my own way and keep pushing forward.

What advice would you give to a woman who is starting at ground zero with losing weight or just getting healthy?

  •  Don’t make excuses and don’t over think it. It’s so easy to get bogged down in glycemic index and this diet and that diet and don’t eat after this time and DO eat at this time…. If you’re just starting out, in my opinion, the 3 EASY things you can do are:
    1) Stop drinking your calories!! Self-explanatory. Put the soda down – diet or no.
    2) Learn proper serving sizes, and actually measure them. That 6oz serving of chicken is probably more like 12…..
    3) Shop the edges of the store and stop trying to look for “healthy” alternatives to crappy food. The cookies in the organic aisle are still cookies.

In a short 4 weeks Amanda is going to begin her new journey in life. She is moving to Russia to get her master’s in the Russian language and learn more about Kettlebells and Kettlebell sport.

  • August 24th, directly after the USA Nationals for kettlebell sport, I’ll be flying to Chelyabinsk, Russia where I’ll begin my master’s degree in Russian as a Foreign Language. I am really excited to begin this journey! I won’t just be studying, I’ll also be able to train with my coach who is the absolute best in the sport, as well as with several other great lifters. No one has ever done something on this scale before, I just had to take the chance while it was available. It is and will be hard, but I hope to make some very valuable contributions to the North Texas Kettlebell Club and US kettlebell sport with the knowledge and experience I’ll gain in Chelyabinsk!

To say we are proud of Amanda would be a great understatement. She has not only become an incredible Kettlebell sport coach, but an amazing athlete and woman.