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Week #2: Sugar Withdrawals, Coordinating Post-its, and Healthy Hair.

A little hodgepodge update on my Week #2 of Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Program! I have to say the hardest part is the clean-eating meal plan. The workouts are the fun part…I LOVE my afternoons in the gym.

But this girl has a sweet tooth. As per the clean-eating dietary guidelines, the only sugar my body consumes is from fruits and vegetables. I’ve been processed-food free for 11 days (do I get a pin or something?) and I can attest to the fact that my body is going through (refined) sugar withdrawals.

Last night I craved chocolate SO BADLY that I tried to concoct my own “clean” mug cake…..it turned out very poorly. :(

***My saving grace has been Quest Bars! They are primarily whey protein isolate, nuts, cocoa, stevia, and pre-biotic fiber.

Clean eating...My food is prettier than your food. (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Because we are the generation of convenience, our bodies have been nourished with processed and chemicalized foods for most of our lives. GMOs, preservatives, additives, refined sugars, corn syrups and the infamous red dye #3 have invaded our once-nutritious food products. Clean eating eliminates unnatural products from our diet, which rules out about 80% of the products in today’s grocery store (I made that percentage up but I’m assuming it’s pretty close…).

Our bodies are now hardwired to crave quick carbs (sugar), particularly when we are bored, tired, or stressed. It takes 21 days to make and break a habit….I’m over half way there. No cheating now!! I’m banking on the fact that in 10 more days my body won’t crave chocolate anymore. Wishful thinking, right? ;)

Let’s talk about workouts.

Workout Post its (stronglikemycoffee.com)

This was too cute not to get a picture of. Kerri and I both write down our strength exercises on post-its that are conveniently stuck to our water bottles. When we hit the gym together the other morning, we noticed that my blue water bottle/pink post-it combo perfectly complimented her pink bottle/blue note. Almost like we planned it right?

Today was only my second time venturing into the leg machines in my campus gym because I tend to avoid the weight room during crowded times. **My leg workouts usually consist of squats, lunges, running, stairs and arc trainer sessions.** Day 11 of the LiveFit program had the leg press, leg curl, leg extension, and calf machines on the menu. After 3 sets on the leg press, I decided to test myself for a set at my max weight. I did 12 reps of 190 pounds. Next week 200! These quads are on fire ;)

Oh I decided to make my hair healthier too! I chopped off a good 6 inches for a new fresh start. I haven’t had any recent picture opportunities so I settled for a selfie. I’m sorry.

Short Hair Don't Care (stronglikemycoffee.com) Lastly I wanted to mention my kickboxing class because it’s been another source of inspiration for my healthy lifestyle. Kerri and I signed up for the kickboxing PE class so that we would have a guaranteed workout together a couple times a week. Jimmy the istructor is pretty cool but this week we have substitutes. Today, a woman who has been a fitness instructor for 33 years and owns her own fitness studio took over. She was so HAPPY and always smiling at herself in the mirror while she taught. I couldn’t help but smile too! Who knows, maybe that will be me in thirty years :)

And as a firm believer that music is my single most powerful source of workout motivation, I will leave you with the latest and greatest on my iPod:

Love the line “take the curve, you may be stronger than you know.” Told myself that on the Leg Press machine today. Ha!

Supplements, say what?

What do you think of when you hear “supplements”? I always considered “supplementation” an extreme aspect of body building for the vein-popping, testosterone-driven, hulks of the gym. Supplements, in my brain, equated to freaky chemical-laden concoctions that artificially promoted muscle mass.

I was wrong.

I am now a member at GNC. Something I never thought I would say.

After being introduced to supplementation in Jamie Eason’s program, I learned that simple additives like a multi-vitamin, calcium, and whey protein are part of supplementation. I do this already! So I began more research on some of the more unfamiliar products like BCAA’s and Glutamine. And then I bought some myself.

GNC BCAA supplement and more intro to supplementation info (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Branch Chain Amino Acids: (According to WebMD & Bodybuilding.com) the essential amino acids our bodies require in order to build muscle (and function in general). They can prevent fatigue by reducing muscle breakdown during workouts. Most of these we can get through a healthy, natural and balanced diet. BCAAs are also prevalent in whey protein; however the best time to ingest the BCAAs is during a work, while protein is used afterwards. Separating the BCAA from the whey protein leads to faster-digestion and efficiency. *This is the most science I have learned/used in the past three years of college!*

Sometimes there are “gaps” in our nutrition plan. Jamie describes taking BCAA supplements as our “insurance policy” to make 100% sure that our gaps are filled in. Nothing crazy or magical about this supplement, it’s just like taking any other vitamin or mineral.

On Friday, I spontaneously pulled in the GNC parking lot on my way home from a class. My thoughts had been consumed by my new LiveFit program and I wanted to find a BCAA supplement to add to my training plan. (Obvi I got more Quest bars while I was there. The cashier now knows me by my Quest Bar consumption.) The guy working the store, who was familiar with the bodybuilding.com training programs and Jamie Eason, gave me tons of helpful information when picking out my product. He was really patient with me and explained the differences in all the BCAA products. Ultimately I chose GNC’s brand (I wanted one that contained Glutamine) in Watermelon flavor!

This is a powder that I add to my water bottle and drink during my workout. It also ensures that I am fully hydrated during the workout as well, always a bonus. You can’t really have too much water. Drinking water isn’t really something I struggle with anyways but it will be nice to have some fruitiness added to the mix :)

Introduction to supplementation and fitness (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Whey Protein: Whey Protein powder has gotten a bad rap. One diet-extremist tried to convince me that whey protein and dairy products in general were the devil, never meant to be ingested by humans. Just like anything, there are pros and cons and I always do my own research with *hopefully* reliable sources. So I’ve concluded that whey protein is an acceptable means to post-workout recovery mix and I stocked up with a chocolate flavor (duh) to mix with unsweetened almond milk for post-workout nourishment after intense strength workouts. For ideal recovery, we should aim to intake our protein source within half an hour of our workout. I’ve included more facts on whey protein and isolates in this delicious Chocolate-covered Strawberry Protein Smoothie post from last year:

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Smoothie from stronglikemycoffee.com

Calcium, Iron, Minerals, Oh My: Even the individual vitamin pills you can find at Target and Walgreens are considered supplements. They are an important part of professional body builders’ training regimen too, because strength training is extremely stressful on our bones and tissues, so they may need a little extra help.

All these new habits to form and products to try out has me PUMPED. The shopping and stocking up my kitchen was the fun part. Now I get to use it all and see how it enhances my training.

How about some more throwback smoothie posts to my brunette days…

This track workout is followed by another Berry Protein Smoothie:

Post Workout Recovery Fuel from stronglikemycoffee.com

And yet another post-raquetball “workout” smoothie with some greens:

Strawberry Banana Smoothie with Spinach (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Another favorite is to just mix chocolate protein powder with almond milk in a blender so it’s frothy, and freeze for half an hour. It’s honestly like ice cream :)

What are your thoughts on supplementation?

LiveFit: A New Goal

Settle in, this is going to be a long one. I’ve got a lot to say about my recent fitness-enlightenment.

This amazing thing happened two days ago while I was purusing some health and fitness blogs, like I tend to do when I’m procrastinating my finance homework. I found my new fitness goal. I have been aimlessly searching for a new source of motivation for the past month when my marathon training came to a (successful) end. Some days I would run laps around the field outside my apartment. Other times I would complete a few rounds of strength circuits. Weekends are full of hiking and biking. But there was no PURPOSE. I had no specific goal to reach for, and that really affected my overall mood and fitness.

hotel workout

One fateful link led me to Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Program from Bodybuilding.com. (The 15-minute introductory video had me instantly hooked. Which I subsequently sent to my mom, who was instantly hooked. Which I’ve now shared with you. Prepare to be hooked.) Jamie Eason is gorgeous, her body is incredible (I will sacrifice peanut butter for those abs), and her attitude was completely inspirational.

What had me sold: it’s not just workouts. The “3×3” philosophy includes Workouts, Nutrition Plan, and Supplementation Plan. My intial introduction sent me into hours and hours of research on supplementation, meal prepping, clean eating, clean recipes, weight training and muscle recovery. THIS IS THE STUFF I LOVE. Learning about metabolic functions/nutritional science/macros is pure fun for me. A lot of this information was not new to me, however I’ve never experimented with supplementation, meal prep or complete 100% clean eating.

As per the program’s requirements: cutting out processed foods, NOW. I am giving up my beloved Luna Bars, Clif Bars, and even the emergency Nature Valley Bars. (And replacing them with Quest Bars! Much more expensive but a much cleaner alternative.) I’ve decided to replace my powdered coffee creamer with unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Jamie made it very clear that her abs are made in the kitchen. You could have abs of steel, but if they are hidden underneath a layer of “cushion” then no amount of russian-twists are going to expose them. Plus, the chemical and preservative content of most processed foods leads to bloating and retained water (mainly due to high sodium content). So I solemnly swear that by committing to the program, I will follow a clean-eating lifestyle. All natural, whole, unprocessed foods. Fortunately there are SO many great natural foods.

Clean Eating collage (stronglikemycoffee.com)

I’m also exceptionally excited to try out clean-eating and protein-packed recipes from bodybuilding.com like the sweet potato protein pizza crust, which I found on Pinterest. *Naturally I’ve followed Jamie on Pinterest and Facebook. We’re basically friends now ;)

Nutrition Education (stronglikemycoffee.com)Another minor problemo…

Jamie does not support cardio in Phase 1 of the training. She believes we are solely focusing on building muscle and supporting our physique through weight training and diet. She also admits that she HATES cardio and can’t stand running. Guess what? I LOVE CARDIO. RUNNING IS MY FAVORITE THING TO DO. I do it for fun. I need to run. I am grumpy and unpleasant if I don’t. Running makes me feel confident and fit, and the endorphins are my drug.

Hotel room treadmill...you can still stay fit and feel good on vacation (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Needless to say I will continue my cardio exercise because I believe that it is an important part of my life and I can sustain enough energy to follow both the weight training program and cardio.

Now that I’m typing this out, I realized I am going to break it up into multiple posts. Next I will cover my thoughts and experience with supplementation, meal prepping, workout routines, clean recipes, and other goodies like carbs, alcohol, & cheat meals. (<—- including that list just made me accountable for keeping up the blog posts!) I’ll also share my progress and thoughts on the program :)

Fitness, for me, is a way of becoming confident and happy. I love the feeling of accomplishing something. Exercise gives me the opportunity to feel this every day.

Oh and I should note that I am in no way trying to become a “body builder.” My goal with this is to achieve a completely clean diet, commitment to build muscle, and see how my body transforms in 12 weeks. I will never be perfect, I know. I’m just trying to be the BEST I can be. I want something to give all of my energy to and see the pay off.

Keith Urban put it perfectly. And I have no shame (see what I did there? Listen to the song & you will..) that I played this song exactly eleven times during my run last night. You should turn the volume up way too high for this one:

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