3 Quick and Healthy Valentine’s Day Desserts

One of the most romantic and delicious holidays is upon us, but don’t let it be an excuse to eat junk! There are a few treats and special gifts you can choose that won’t add to your calorie quota. Stop being dirty, I’m talking about strawberries, light cool whip, and semi-sweet chocolate! Well, ok, you might get a little dirty making these treats, but you’ll love every minute of it.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate_strawberryToday I was out at the mall. I was blown away at the prices that the gourmet shops wanted for their chocolate and chocolate covered strawberries. The worst part is there is no way to know whether the fruit is really organic, properly cleaned, what kind of chocolate they used, what is the fat percentage of the chocolate etc. Basically, you might be buying something that you think is a healthier option for your loved one (or for yourself) and end up with low quality junk. I say, don’t fall into the trap of gourmet chocolate industry! Make the treats yourself. You will save a ton of money and the rewards will be so much sweeter. Here’s how:

 

Ingredients:

12 large Strawberries (leaves still attached, cleaned and dried well)
12 oz. Semi- Sweet Chocolate

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In order to melt your chocolate you’ll need a heat proof bowl and a pot filled with water. Make sure that the bowl that you chose is just large enough to rest on the sides of the pot with the bottom slightly touching the water in the pot. Bring the water in the pot to a simmer, put the chocolate in the bowl that is resting on top of the pot and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. This usually takes a few minutes after the water heats up. Once the chocolate is melted, cut the heat and begin dipping your strawberries in the melted chocolate.

Set the strawberries on the parchment lined cookie sheet and set it into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate coating is mat and solid.

Spicy Orange Chocolate Apples

Chocolate_ApplesCraving something spicy, sweet, and unexpected? Do you absolutely love food on a stick? No problem! Here’s what you will need:

Ingredients:

1 Granny Smith Apple (cut into 8 slices, skewered)
1/4 tsp of Cayenne Pepper
1tsp Orange zest
8 oz. Melted Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Using the double boiler method described in the recipe above, melt your chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted, add cayenne pepper and orange zest. Mix until well incorporated. Dip your skewered apple slices into the chocolate and set on a parchment lined cookie sheet. At this point you can dip the apple slices into crushed nuts, crushed mint candies, or crushed hard caramels for an extra punch of flavor. Just remember, any sugary additions that you choose will bump up the calorie count.

Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the chocolate coating is mat and solid.

Strawberries and Cream

This has to be on of my favorite recipes of all time! It is so satisfying and in a pinch will take your mind off of ice cream. Here’s what you do:

Ingredients:

4 oz. Lite Cool Whip
4 strawberries (diced)

Directions:

Combine the lite cool whip and the diced strawberries in a small bowl. Freeze. Enjoy!  You can also use this recipe to make ice cream sandwiches. Just take two caramel rice cakes, put the filling in between, make a sandwich and freeze. In no time you will have a delicious, healthier alternative to regular ice cream sandwiches.

Now, I don’t recommend eating these treats all day every day, but when it comes to special occasions, holidays, and post workout treats, why not opt for something delicious, clen and satisfying especially if it is fairly easy to make?

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Happy Valentine’s Day, guys and gals! May your holiday be as sweet as the feeling of accomplishment and achievement you get when you conquer your next set of goals.

Eat Like You Are In Sochi

The Olympics are here! I am sure most of you are glued to your TV every night watching the events or simply setting your DVRs to record. Regardless of your methods of watching the most lavish Olympics in history, you are probably wondering how it would feel if you had an opportunity to be in Sochi for this event. Although I can’t necessarily tell you how it would feel to be in Sochi right now, a lot has changed since I last vacationed there, I can tell you about the food that you would more than likely eat if you were there.

But first, a little bit of background:

DCF 1.0The climate, terrain, and social instability had a tremendous impact on Russian cuisine. Traditionally, Russian food is fairly simple, high in calories and extremely fatty. Russian cuisine is a cuisine of necessity constantly adapting to the newest political regime and the shortages that come with it.

However, if you were in Sochi for the Olympics, you’d never know that you have left the Western world and are deep in the Russian Federation. From what I see and hear, the city has been rebuilt, cleaned up, and dressed up. Although some typical, bone-headed construction mistakes have been made, some locals pissed off, and the city lost some of its “character”, it has been turned into something that the rest of the world will be talking about for decades to come.

If you were in Sochi during these Olympic Games, here is what you would most likely find on every traditional Russian restaurant menu:

Olivier Salad

OliverThis is one of the most popular Russian dishes that makes its appearances at almost every special occasion on every Russian table regardless of which country you are in. If it is a Russian celebration of any kind – expect Olivier.

Olivier is a salad named after its creator– Lucien Olivier, a head chef at the Hermitage restaurant during the early 1860’s. Originally the salad was made with grouse (gamebird), veal tongue, caviar (red), a lettuce variety, crayfish tails, boiled potatoes, cornichon, smoked duck, capers and dressed with an house special dressing that closely resembled modern day Russian mayonnaise (yes, Russians mayo is very different). According to the rumors, the dressing consisted of French wine vinegar, mustard (probably Dijon style), and olive oil from Provencal region of France. Although the exact proportions are unknown, many chefs attempted to recreate it skyrocketing the popularity of this dish.

As the time went by and the political climate of the country changed, so did the salad. Some of the ingredients became hard to find or only accessible to a wealthy few. The salad evolved. The capers were replaced by pickles, veal tongue was replaced by the cow tongue (when available) or bologna, red caviar was replaced by carrots (the only similarity is color), lettuce was replaced by peas, and the duck and grouse were almost entirely avoided or replaced by chicken. Of course the dressing that made this salad famous was lost forever after Chef Olivier passed away and was replaced with Russian mayonnaise.

Even with the inferior ingredients, this salad still remains one of the go-to Russian comfort foods for comrades all over the world. Having grown up in the former Soviet Union, I am a big fan of this delicious dish. However, since I don’t fight bears or live in subzero temperatures, consuming thousands of calories in one sitting isn’t something that I can afford without busting out of my pants.

When I started writing Fierce Gourmet: A Fit Foodie’s Cookbook, this salad received a much needed makeover to satisfy the cravings of every fit Russian food lover without adding thousands of calories to their day.

Golubzi or Cabbage Rolls

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Photo Credit: Maggio @ http://www.topricette.com

This dish is common to the entire Eurasian continent. In short a combination of pork, lamb, beef, and starch (usually rice or barley) is rolled inside a lightly steamed cabbage leaf. The rolls are then placed inside a pot, Dutch oven, or a pan and are baked, simmered or steamed. The dish is usually served with some variety of sauce that is largely dependent on the region where the dish is served.

If you are in Russia, one of the most common methods of preparing Golubzi is with a combination of pork, lamb, beef, rice or barley, and white onion which is tightly rolled inside a white cabbage leaf and simmered in tomato sauce for hours. The dish is usually served with a big dollop of rich sour cream, rye bread, and an ice cold shot of vodka. If you have the opportunity to savors this incredible creation, do it. You will not be disappointed.

Of course, if you are watching your calories and would still like to enjoy some traditional Russian food, I recommend substituting the red meat for a combination of ground chicken and turkey spiced with some chili powder, onion, and parsley. Instead of white rice, try brown rice or quinoa and instead of using white cabbage, try Napa cabbage. Napa cabbage leaves are easier to work with, deliver more phytonutrients than white cabbage, and look significantly better after hours of simmering in tomato sauce.

When this dish is cooked Fierce Gourmet style, it offers a wide range of necessary nutrients including vitamin C, D, A, and K, loads of lean protein, lycopene, and complex carbohydrates all wrapped up in a convenient half serving pockets of delicious joy. This is one of my favorite post run meals. In addition to being highly nutritious, this meal freezes well for those days when you just don’t have the time to cook.

So, if you are hungry and in the city of Sochi, try this dish! If you are at home at would like to eat like a Russian Olympian, email me and I’ll send you the clean eating recipe! Otherwise, look for this recipe on this blog in a few weeks.

Vinegret or Russian Beet Salad

beet_saladVinegret (not to be confused with vinaigrette) is a traditional winter salad and one of the few salads in the Russian cuisine that isn’t dressed with mayonnaise. Just like so many other Russian dishes, Venegret is a salad of necessity. It first appeared during the beginning of the communist era when fresh vegetables were hard to come by. Many chefs of that time relied on frozen or canned vegetables to produce many of their creations. The salad features beets, beans, pickles, onion, peas, potatoes, and pickled cabbage (much like sauerkraut but sweeter with a different acidic profile that is more reminiscent of rice wine vinegar). This salad hasn’t changed much over the years and much like Olivier is one of the holiday favorites.

Although not as heavy as Olivier, this is by no means a light meal. Vinegeret is traditionally dressed with unrefined sunflower oil, a highly caloric, fragrant oil. This dish is usually served as an appetizer to chase the first few shots of vodka before the meal begins.

Of course, I have created a fit version of this salad that maintains the traditional Vinegret flavor profile. Give this salad a try whether you are in Sochi or in Dallas!

Depending on who you ask, these dishes will undoubtedly make the top ten favorites on every Russian’s list. You might also hear about such dishes as: Pelmeni (veal dumplings), Piroshki (baked, portable, meat pies), Seledka pod Shyboi or “hearing in fur coat” (an immensely popular holiday fish dish), Holodez (jellied minced meat) and Katleti (“burger patties” that are eaten without buns or garden).

Despite the common misconception, Russian cuisine is incredibly flavorful and features simple but hearty ingredients. Due to the turbulent past, Russians are very good at practicing nose-to-tail eating as well as adapting their cuisine to, often times, volatile political and cultural shifts. Although the country is almost completely westernized at this point, the evolution of Russian cuisine remains to serve as a reminder of the scary past and a beacons to the brighter future.

Fierce Workout: Tabata Body

Lately I have been under a bit of stress. I wanted to do something fun, easy to keep track of, and physically challenging so I can take my mind of off the things that have been happening in my life lately. A friend has suggested I try to do some tabata workouts to switch up my routine and get the optimal calorie burn.

So what is a tabata workout, you will ask? Well, to put it simply: tabata training is a high intensity interval training routine created by Dr. Izumi Tabata and his colleagues to study the effects of HIIT vs. moderate intensity training. The results of the study clearly showed that athletes who engaged in HIIT training showed significant aerobic and anaerobic system improvements over those that participated in the moderate intensity training.

Below is a tabata workout during which you will work at  100% exertion level for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. Enjoy and let me know how it went!

Tabata-Body

Things We Take For Granted

After stressful events this past weekend I was reminded of how much we take for granted. We get into our daily routines, sweat the small stuff (that we perceive as a huge, insurmountable problem), get mad because of stupid things (that of course are the most important things in the world while we are in the moment), but when we put all of our daily discomforts against a real, large issue, that’s when we get perspective.

I have to admit, I took for granted the safety of my own home up until it was almost compromised. I complained regularly that living with 8 people in the house was unbearable until it got to the point when I wished I had all 8 of us standing against what threatened us. I use to think that my military father and his “super hero cop” brother were paranoid when they insisted on teaching my me and my brother certain things, until I instinctively found myself searching for a weapon in the darkness of my house while a man at my door was trying to get inside.

I am not sure what would have happened if my other half wasn’t thinking on his feet and didn’t call the police when he did. I am not sure what would have happened had we not installed the security system that we did… Frankly, I don’t want to think about it especially in lieu of new evidence that these people have been watching us for a few days. These people knew we were home and they were coming for us.

I write here about being strong mentally and physically. I tell you that you can achieve and overcome everything if you put your mind to it. I write about having the steel resolve to rise above. Well, I have to say, some things bring even the strongest to their knees. I am mad today because I am still letting these people and their actions get in my head. I am mad because I flinch every time I hear leaves move in my yard and every time I see headlights around my house. I guess it will take time for me to get over it.

The reason why I am telling you all of this is: be grateful for every day that you have and every carefree minute that you get. The stress that you are under today can easily be doubled or tripled tomorrow. Appreciate your friends and your family, tell them daily that you love them, and forgive them their small transgressions and annoying habits. Be kind, be generous, be genuine, and be you, because you never know when that moment can get taken away from you.

 

Fierce Workout: 300

On December 17th of 2013 I decided that I am going to take the Spartan challenge and do the 17 workouts that the actors did to prepare for the movie 300. Below is the assessment workout that I did at the beginning and at the end of the 17 workout period (a little over a month).

I have to say, this is not for the weak or those that are just starting their training, but if you have been at it for a while, it is a good way to test your strength and endurance. At the end of the challenge I completed this workout 20 minutes (!!!!) fast then the initial. Can you believe it? I couldn’t!

Another worthy point to mention is that before I embarked on this journey of becoming a Spartan, I was deathly afraid of box jumping and bear crawls. I just never thought of myself as the kind of person that was coordinated enough to do these exercises and escape in one piece. Now, I deliberately seek out boxes to jump on and bare crawl whenever the opportunity presents itself.

But enough about me! Let’s get back to this workout! Complete the following exercises in as little time as possible. Don’t stop, keep pushing! Log your time and share it below!

300

Fierce Gourmet: A Fit Foodie’s Cookbook

Cover1I discovered my passion for cooking right around the same time as I discovered my love for fitness. Nothing makes you feel more alive and in the moment as a new PR and an amazing meal. Quickly realizing that my love for gourmet food and my love for fitness can’t coexist, I had to do something.

For years I studied, read, and practiced various preparation methods and techniques, took cooking classes, and searched for places to procure clean, organic meat and produce. As a result of my obsession with flavor and the need to maintain a lean and strong physique, I have developed hundreds of recipes that were beneficial for my health and for my abs, not to mention supported a number of local farmers.

Last year, when I started Fierce Miles, I had a bright idea: why not write an actual cookbook? The majority of the work was already done, all I had to do was test, photograph, write, edit, format, market, and sell the book! Not a big deal, right? Right. After a few months of writing, re-writing, editing, and writing some more, I am just a few short months away from the big day. I am excited and yet a bit nervous.

When I first decided to do this, I had no idea how much work I am going to have to put into this project for it to be what I really want it to become — the absolute go to for every fit food lover. So far, we are right on track. Our Kickstarter page goes live next week, our graphic designer is working on a fabulous book cover that’ll be ready around the same time, and I am almost done organizing the content and the recipes into chapters.

I know, this is an unusual Monday post for me, but I’ve had this on my mind for so long, that it was time to share it with you guys. Stay tuned for more information on Fierce Gourmet: A Fit Foodie’s Cookbook.

4 Easy Steps to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution

tumblr_lxvu5kSHWe1qgh9aoo1_500It’s the middle of January and many of you might be starting to think that the New Year’s resolution you made wasn’t an objective one. Maybe you motivation began to wane and you started to skip workouts, slip off your diet, and began making excuses to justify it while feeling guiltier than ever in the process. Does that sound like something that you are going through? Don’t worry, there is a way to fix it.

Step One: Guilt is Overrated

Stop feeling guilty and beating yourself up over your past failures. What’s in the past is in the past and there is nothing that you can do to change it. What you can do, however, is resolve to be dedicated to your goals and promise yourself to practice disciplined behavior day in and day out from this point on. Minor slip-ups will happen and we have to move past them. Train your will power just like you train your body. Saying “no” to a piece of cake gets easier after you said “no” 500 times before.

Step Two: Re-Evaluate, Set Goals and Benchmarks

Re-evaluate your New Year’s resolution. Why did you make it? Is it realistic? Is it sustainable? Answering these questions will help you set benchmark goals along the way which will help with the process of achieving your greater goal. For example: “I want to lose weight” is too generic of a goal but can be your greater goal. “I want to lose 5 lbs by the end of February because I am running a 5K on February 28th” is a specific goal with a modifier (running a 5K) which can be broken down into two (or even three) separate benchmark goals: 1) benchmark goal being losing 5 lbs by the end of February, 2) run a 5K on February 28th, 3) finish a 5K at a certain time.

Benchmark goals are smaller, more achievable goals that help you celebrate your wins and achievements. Setting these goals keeps you more motivated, more concentrated on the task at hand especially if there is a satisfaction of an achievement and a reward at the end.

Step Three: Food is a Reward for Your Pet

Don’t reward yourself with food. When you achieve your benchmark goals, reward yourself with something other than a trip to the bakery. Agree to treat yourself to a SPA day, a new tech toy, a new outfit, or a night out at the movies. Do something that you enjoy, but do not derail your progress by eating food that isn’t on your plan. After all, you are not a dog, you don’t need treats.

Step Four: Get Involved

It is easier to stick to a resolution when you are part of a community. If you like to run — join a local running group (any specialty running store will be able to give you information about running groups in your area), if you prefer fast paced exercise that tightens and tones – find a crossfit gym, if you don’t like people but still want to get in shape – pay a personal trainer. Even the most seasoned fitness enthusiasts have someone who holds them accountable. One might even say that having an accountability partner accounts to 60% of successfully met goals for most people.

If you are still having trouble sticking to your New Year’s resolution after reading the steps above, consider doing a bit more reevaluating and editing. Remember, your goals can evolve out of the initial resolution and the deeper you dig, the more you might be able to find. If you need help “distilling” benchmarks goals out of your greater goal, feel free to contact me via Facebook, Twitter, or just comment below.

 

Gym Faux Pas

Since many of you are just starting your fitness journey, I’d like to talk about a few things that might help you avoid an uncomfortable situation and save you the dirty looks. You may already know this, but there is a certain gym etiquette that most of us prefer you abide by. Below I have assembled a short list of gym faux pas that everyone should know:

shutupandsquat

Using Your Phone

No one, and I mean no one, wants to hear your conversation with your girlfriend about how awesome the party was last night, how horrible your boss is, or how hot that guy / girl is that you hooked up with last night. There is a time and a place to use your cellphone and it is definitely NOT while you are working out. Plus, if you can talk on the phone that means that you are not working hard enough, taking up valuable time on the equipment, and annoying everyone who is actually putting in the work. Think of it this way, your gym is like a movie theater but instead of watching a film, you are watching your health and body composition. Don’t be a jerk and disturb everyone around you. Hang up or take it outside!

you are doing it worng

Have a Question? Ask Somebody!

This seems self-explanatory, but you’ll be surprised how many people lack common sense. If you have a question about a piece of equipment, ask someone, google it, or simple look at the machine. More often than not there is a demonstration of what it does and how to use it. Don’t just jump in and assume that you can figure it out. Why risk a chance of injury?

clean

Leaving Sweat on the Equipment

We know you are working hard and sweating bullets. That’s what you are supposed to do! However, be nice and wipe your sweat off the equipment so the other person can come in and use it without having to worry about your funk.

keep-calm-and-re-rack-weights

Not Racking Your Weights

If you can do ten reps, you can do one more to rack your weights. Be considerate to others and to the gym employees who will have to pick up your mess.

spotting_wrong

Unsolicited Spotting and Hovering

It is NEVER ok to spot another person unless they asked for it. Don’t be that creepy person. Just mind your own business.

Waiting to use a machine? Don’t hover. You can always do something else while you wait. You can also politely ask to cut in while the other person is taking a rest. More often than not, they’ll let you.

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Locker Room is NOT Your Bathroom

That means be modest, don’t leave your stuff lying around everywhere, and don’t be gross.

NoFragrance

Smells are Bad

I really don’t know what could be worse than being hit by a wave of perfume or cologne while you are in the middle of a heavy set. It is disorienting, nauseating, and extremely annoying. Why would you want to wear a fragrance to the gym anyway? Who are you trying to impress? Remember, you are here to workout, not to strut your stuff!

However, perfume and cologne are not the only offensive odors. If you know you have bad BO, take a shower and put on some deodorant, if you are a smoker, please try to refrain from smoking before you come to the gym.

Finally, if you think that what you are doing could be annoying or impolite, it probably is.

 

 

 

Spud Muffins

A lot of us made New Year’s resolutions and some of us are determined to keep them come hell or high water. If one of your resolutions was to eat better and make smarter food choices, I’d like to dedicate this post to you.

I know all too well how it feels to wake up before dawn and realize that you barely have enough time to take a shower before you have to be out of the door. Breakfast? What breakfast!  Then I got to thinking, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, it sets the tone for the day. I find that if I had a decent meal in the morning I feel energized, I feel unstoppable, I am on my game. Best of all, having breakfast prevents you from being, what I call, hangry. Hangry is a sad combination of hungry and angry that causes one to make bad decisions and have virtually zero patience.

So, what’s the answer to having a healthy, well balanced breakfast that hits all your macros on the go? Portable food! Below is the recipe for the most awesome muffin that is easy to eat, has a low glycemic index, loads of protein, very little fat, and you can make them in advance! What?! Yes, your week just got that much easier!

I usually make these on Sunday evening at the end of my food prep because they tend to take a bit longer than the usual blend and go variety. Why? Because I make my Spud Muffins with meringue to insure nice and fluffy consistency. I tested other recipes of healthy, protein muffins and I noticed that all of them are dense, chewy, and taste like cardboard. I refused to have this happen to my food, this is fit gourmet, after all!

Let’s dive in! First and foremost, make sure that your eggs are at room temp. Room temperature eggs make better meringue. Also, older eggs are better suited for meringue purposes, but who has old eggs lying around?! I set my eggs out just as I am getting ready to do the rest of my food prep, that way by the time I get around to the muffins, they are nice and ready to go.

Since I pre-make my sweet potatoes for the week, having a cup of mashed sweet potato isn’t a problem. If, however, you don’t pre make yours, here’s the deal:

Peel and cut up your sweet potatoes, put them in a pot of boiling water, boil until tender. Strain the water, mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a fork.

I don’t add seasoning to my sweet potato ahead of time, because I refuse to commit to one single flavor in my mash for the rest of the week. I like a good variety.

Back to the eggs and the trick of the meringue… You will need to separate egg whites from egg yolks. Make sure that you take great care not to get any of the yolk into your egg whites. I recommend breaking the eggs over a separate dish, separating the whites and then adding them to the mixer bowl one at a time. That way, if you do end up with the yolks in your whites, you won’t have to scrap the whole batch and waste eggs. No, I wouldn’t recommend using egg beaters. They do not meringue well.

Please, do not attempt to be a hero and whisk the meringue by hand. It’ll take you forever!

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Ok, I think I covered the important basics of the meringue. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through our Facebook Page, Twitter, or just leave me a comment here!

Supd_Muffin
Spud Muffins

Ingredients: 

4 large eggs at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup Splenda or Stevia
1 cup almond meal flour
2 scoops vanilla whey
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp coco powder
2 ½ cups of mashed sweet potato

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Place the egg whites into a large bowl and mix on medium-high speed until the eggs are frothy. When your eggs are frothy add cream of tartar. Continue mixing on medium-high speed until the eggs are white and nearly doubled in size. At this point add Splenda or Stevia one tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing the meringue until the mixture begins to form stiff peaks in the mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Gradually fold the sweet potatoes into the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Make sure that there are no clumps of flour or protein powder.

Gently fold the sweet potato mixture into the meringue. Fold from the sides towards the center until the mixture is well incorporated. Be careful not to over mix and deflate your meringue.

Divide the batter between muffin cups. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Nutrition Info (1 muffin): 

Calories 119
Fat 5g
Carbs 8g
Protein 10g

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.