Category Archives: getting better

3 Easy Steps to Get Fit in 2014

1381532_648223808555104_266900310_nIf you have been anywhere around a TV set, a radio, or a computer, you have noticed the great abundance of “get fit now”. It is that time of the year again. The time when supplement companies and larger than though trainers are pushing their miracle cure all product on the unsuspecting consumers with low self-esteem. Do these products work? Some of them. Do they work safely and for a prolonged period of time? No.

We live in a society that is largely driven by instant gratification and impulse. No one wants to work to be fit, but everyone wants to have a fit body of a fitness model. After all, it is much easier to pop a pill and eat a pizza while watching football, than working out and eating clean. Does anyone think about the consequences of taking these drugs? Does anyone stop to ask why they work so quickly and so effectively? No. Why? Because blissful ignorance with a skinny fat body is significantly safer than a challenging and at times difficult reality in which one has to find information, process it, and work to get the results that they want. In short, half-baked approaches breed half-baked results and a lot of disappointed, misinformed consumers. So, what can you do to get lasting weight loss results? Read on.

What I have to say right now may not be what you want to hear, but I am not in the business of cuddling and propagating fitness myths. I am here to give you the hard truth and save you the time you’ll spend doing research on your own. Here’s the deal. Most “magic” weight loss pills, shakes, and powders are unsafe. If you have to order your food premade, you’ll gain all of your weight back after you stop eating “out of the box”. There is no such thing as getting “toned and fit” without changing your daily lives.

The only way to get true and lasting results is by keeping a clean and sustainable diet, maintaining a healthy attitude, and exercising daily.

Keeping a Clean and Sustainable Diet:

1238363_644675618909923_1184660794_nLet’s face it, if you drastically cut calories, completely cut out certain food groups or expect perfect rigid compliance to a dietary plan, you will eventually slip. In fact, when you slip you will binge, feel guilty, get down on yourself, and try to maintain the same diet with even more restrictions than before to make up for your pitfall. Does that sound like a healthy relationship with food? No. To me, that sounds more like an eating disorder and we all know that eating disorders are very unhealthy.

A sustainable diet should revolve around a lifestyle. When you decide to get in shape, you have to realize that you are on a journey and just like any journey, this one will have peaks and valleys. The secret to sustainable, healthy weight loss is realizing that a valley isn’t going to undo everything you worked for. So, if you make it a priority to eat healthy 90% of the time, that one piece of cake on your birthday, a plate full of delicious food on Thanksgiving, and a bowl of macaroni and cheese every other month aren’t going to send you on an express train to fat town.

A clean sustainable diet should involve all of the major food groups (unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from eating certain things) in moderation. Eating for weight loss is an art form that will take time to master fully, there is no diet that perfectly fits all, and there are no shortcuts. A clean, healthy diet with proper caloric intake (you can’t starve yourself!!!) takes time to develop and perfect.

I encourage you to do your research, look at various food plans, study strategic eating, and custom design your own eating plan. It will take time, but in the end you will be rewarded with energy, better health, and a lean, strong body.

Healthy Attitude:

quoteWe briefly touched on this subject in the previous section when we discussed a healthy relationship with food. You can’t punish yourself for slip-ups and deviations of off the plan, but you also have to hold yourself accountable for what you do in daily basis. Having a support group helps, but at the end of the day it is between you and your refrigerator, or between you and your bed.

You have to make a plan and stick to it regardless of what the world around you wants. If you know that what you are doing is right for you, then no one else has the right to keep you away from your goals and your dreams. Not even you. You have to push yourself every day. I wish I could tell you that it gets to a point where going to the gym or out on a run is automatic. No. I still have days when I question why I am up at 5 am on a cold winter morning. There are days when the last thing that I want to do is drive to the gym and lift a bunch of weights when the laundry is piled up, dinner needs to be cooked, and I still have a mound of paperwork to get through. However, I don’t make excuses. I put on my big girl pants, lace up my shoes, and I tell myself that it is better that way. I can say with full confidence,  I am yet to regret a workout that I did.

However, healthy attitude goes far beyond building a healthy relationship with food and regular, hard workouts. A healthy attitude also encompasses how you view the world. It is easy to be mad and sad about your circumstances, but when you make a decision to take control and change, you become empowered. Feeling strong and in control is what gets people in the gym initially, but most quickly get discouraged because the results didn’t come fast enough. Here’s the hard part: you have to remain positive and have faith in the fact that the results will come if you actually follow a program that you set for yourself. You have to force yourself to become an optimist on those days when you just want to quit because the pudgy feeling isn’t going away fast enough.

Again, I wish I could tell you that feeling discouraged goes away with time – it doesn’t. But if you keep at it long enough, you will learn that the voice inside your head that tells you “it’s not working”, “you don’t have the body for this”, “you are too old” etc. is a total liar. With time, you learn to ignore your own little critic and you learn that when the voice rears its ugly head, you are closer than you ever were before to achieving that one goal that you set for yourself.

Exercising Daily:

Khloe-Kardashian-Fitness-MotivationA good diet and a great attitude aren’t going to get you far without exercise. Consistent, challenging, daily exercise paired with a great diet is a sure recipe for a fabulous body. Now, let me clarify, I am not telling you to go out and do Zumba (although it is a fun way to initially lose some extra weight). The exercise that I am talking about involves 3-4 heavy weight training sessions and 3 cardio sessions a week. You can’t be a cardio queen and expect a toned body of a fitness model. You have to lift HEAVY weights. Let me say this right now: there is no way that you are going to end up looking like a she Hulk unless you are SPECIFICALLY working to attain that aesthetic. So, no, don’t tell me that lifting heavy turns women into men. It is a total myths that is propagated by men who are scared of strong women, women who are scared of hard work, and skinny fat models who would be out of a job if the rest of us woke up and realized that having the ability to pick up more than 5 lbs at a time makes you more attractive and gives you the lean, toned look you actually want. Yes, I’m talking to you ladies.

Gentlemen, I have to caution you against trying to show off. Heavy training means lifting the weight you can ACTUALLY lift with PROPER form. Allow me to elaborate: that means that you shouldn’t be squirming under a barbell during your bench press like a deranged worm because you loaded the bar too heavy. You are not a hero if you get hurt, so why set yourself up for failure? Take it easy, maintain proper tension throughout your exercises and watch your body bulge with awesome rippliness faster than the guy who has been trying to “out lift” you all alone and has been doing it wrong.

trustI don’t know about you, but for me, a fit strong body is a status symbol. You can’t buy it, you can pay someone to surgically make it. You have to invest the time, the sweat, the tears and the doubts to achieve it. There are challenges to achieving your perfect physique at any age and in any circumstance, so don’t discount the efforts of the younger crowd just because of their age or the older crowd just because of their experience. We all face different struggles, have different body types, and respond to different things better than others. Building a body you want takes time, it takes trial and error and you have to be willing to invest in your journey fully in order to rip the perfect results.

The Day I Said "No" To Fear

Today was my video interview at Revolution Fitness, the gym that I have been a member of for about 3 and a half years. I wish I wasn’t so camera shy and didn’t stutter as much as I did. I think I relayed all the information that I wanted to relay in a concise and laconic manner, but I do wish that I talked about my current trainer more. Since I don’t think that I gave her enough credit, I’d like to write a short bit about how she changed my life.

…and then those people become your friends 🙂

Since I met Nicki last July,  I have changed dramatically not only physically, but also spiritually. In part my change came from my inner desire to change and part of it was her contagiously positive attitude. Through my training with her I have learned the power of positive self talk, benefits of various exercises, and the necessity to truly believe in the goals that I set for myself. I have to say here, that I knew all of these things before, I heard these things before, I just needed to be ready to accept them.Whether it is through a specific method of delivery or just because I view her as a true inspiration, my eyes were opened and I saw myself for who I truly am– an ATHLETE.

I have to tell you a story about this woman’s dedication and passion for what she does. This is also a story of a defining moment in my training, the movement that I truly committed and became fearless.

At the beginning of September 2012 I was in a very dark and lonely place. I was lost in doubt, in self hatred, and a sea of overall negativity. That sunny, September day I had a rough workout, I was not feeling well, I had zero energy, and the only thing that I wanted to do was to stop feeling like I lost control of everything.

As I was walking up to the towel rack, feeling discouraged, clear as day I heard Anna’s voice in my head (Anna is my previous trainer and owner of Revolution Fitness who first introduced me to quality training) “Kseniya, I don’t understand what you are doing! Are you running a race or are you not running a race?” these words were said to months before in part out of concern and in part out frustration over my own frustration with the lack of my progress. Anna was right, I wasn’t committed, I was just talking about being committed. In that moment, it was clear to me, I have to stop talking and start doing. I had all the resources available to me: a wonderful trainer, a great gym, an awesome support system, there was nothing in my way!

When I got home that night, I signed up for my very first 5K race. I was very nervous hitting “submit” on the registration form, but I knew that if I didn’t hit that button, I’d be full of it again.  During my next training session, to cement my commitment, I told Nicki that I signed up for my very first 5K race. She looked at me and asked with a smile: “Really? Which one are you running, I’ll run with you!”I was in disbelief. Really? She is actually going to go and run a race with me? Me, a slow poke, who will probably throw up 5 minutes in? Wow! Why would anyone do that? (didn’t I tell you that I was really down on myself?)

Up to the time that I saw her at the number pick up table, that early Saturday morning, I don’t think I fully believed that there is a person willing to help me battle, what seemed like, a perpetual uphill struggle. The horn went of and immediately Nicki began pacing me, talking to me, walking me through this new race thing. She ran by my side the whole way, helped me stay out of my own head by calming me down when I freaked out about a side stitch, helped me fight the hills, and got me to the finish line with a better time then I expected. When I crossed the finish, I wanted to throw up. I think I even teared up a little from pure exhaustion. Nicki stayed by my side, made sure that I was ok, and talked to me the entire time. She was trying to take my mind of off feeling the discomfort of a hard race.  After that, we got bananas and walked back to our cars. I drove home in stunned disbelief because I just finished my first 5k in under 40 minutes and Nicki went for a long run with her friends (yes, 5K was just her warmup).

 I heard from other runners that you will never forget your first race. My race was made that much more memorable by my resolution to never again allow myself to go backwards or give up on myself. There was a person out there that believed in me more, at that time, than I believed in myself, which means that there is never a reason for me to doubt what I can do. You are your biggest fan and cheerleader, after all!

I don’t think that there will ever be enough words to describe the multitude of ways in which fitness and running impacted my life. I honestly don’t think that I would be here if I never crossed the threshold of Revolution Fitness and consequently I would have never met a person that I consider  a great friend and an amazing trainer.

6 Ps of Success.

I am still pretty sick, but today was a planned rest day anyway. As usual, every Sunday is my planning, packing, and shopping day. On Sundays I make sure that I am prepped for the rest of the week. After all, Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. It also prevents emotional eating, slipping off your diet, skipping on workouts, and bending your schedule during the week.  I am not  advocating inflexibility, but you are less likely to make excuses if you have a clear plan of action.  So, get to planning and if you slip, make sure that you built in a fail safe. 

Forced Break. Darn it!

As I was afraid of yesterday, I had to cancel my date with Murph this morning. Unfortunately, I feel incredibly sick. I went to the doctor today and received a subsequent cocktail of meds  to make me feel better by tomorrow morning (fingers crossed). Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even think of running a race sick, but I am holding out hope that I will feel better tomorrow morning. Yes, I know, I can see the disapproving looks already, but after the week that I had, a nice, exhausting run is the only thing that will make me feel better.  I guess vodka could also make me feel better, but I hear that abs and vodka don’t go well together.
Since I clearly can’t workout right now, I want to talk about nutrition.  If you are like me and can’t even think of eating food when you get sick, I recommend trying to drink it. I usually have three or four antioxidant and vitamin packed smoothies a day when I am sick since the thought of chewing food makes me even sicker then I already am. Here are my favorites:


8 oz. Coconut Water or Orange Juice* or both
1 Cup Raspberries
1 Banana
1 tbsp. Flax Seed Meal
1 tbsp. Almond Butter
½ cup Baby Spinach
2 tbsp Lemon Juice

Blend until smooth. If you want your throat soothed, I recommend adding a few ice cubes and  some fresh mint leaves into the mix. Not only will it add an enticing aroma to your smoothie, it is also high in potassium and manganese.


4 12″ Stalks of Celery
1 Cup Kale
3 Large Carrots
2 Medium Green Pears 1 Lemon Pealed
1 Large Cucumber Pealed

Juice and enjoy. I add ice cubes and blend the juice in the blender to get more of a slushy consistency.  Be warned this will make roughly 4 glasses of juice. I generally use this juice to swallow my pills and in the morning to get an extra boost of vitamin C, beta keratin, and  antioxidants. Also, if added to the aforementioned Raspberry Smoothie instead of Coconut Water or Orange Juice it makes for a more vitamin enriched breakfast smoothie (also has more calories)


1/2 Green Apple
2 Oranges Pealed and separated into slices
1 Cup Mango
1 Cup Pineapple
1 tbsp Coconut Oil

I think this one is my favorite of them all. Sometimes I add 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder to make sure that I get enough protein during those “hard to eat moments”.


1/2 Cup Mango
1 Cup Blueberries
1/2 cup Kale or Spinach (your call)
1-2 Tbsp Lemon
1/2 Avocado
1 Cup Pineapple or Orange Juice*

Blend and enjoy.
Keep in mind that these shakes are calorie reach  on purpose. They are meant as substitutes for entire meals not accompaniments. Each of the shakes are roughly 400 calories depending on how heavy handed you are in cutting up your fruit and vegetables.

*When I refer to Orange Juice in this recipe I mean freshly squeezed juice from real oranges. I don’t recommend buying processed versions of fruit juices as they are packed with sugar and other preservatives that are more harmful then helpful.