Strong Legs Workout


Something I am most noticed for are my strong quads, and people always ask me what I do for leg day. Well here’s a peak at one of my workouts! Try this on one of your leg days, and let me know how it goes!

I always warm-up with light cardio on the treadmill on incline or stairs, then myo-fascial release (foam rolling) to prepare the soft tissue for the workout. This takes about 10-15 minutes total. “x” = superset

 

  1. Front Squat
    12 reps | 4 sets
    I start with 2 warm-up sets without any weight on the bar. Then do 4 working sets, gradually adding weight after each set. My purpose is not to max, but do 50-75% of your max (a low to moderate weight)
  2. Narrow Leg Press
    8 reps | 4 sets
    I used an angled press with feet a little past hip-width, 80-85% max.
  3. Cable Pull-Throughs x Cable Squats
    8 x 10 reps | 4 sets
    I love supersets especially when trying to gain muscle mass. Pull-Throughs were heavy weight, Cable Squats were done at moderate weight.
  4. Abductors x Split Squats
    8 x 12 reps | 4 sets
    Go heavy on the abductors which helps your most neglected booty muscle: the gluteus medius. Feel free to add weight with your split squat. My legs were dead by this time so I just did bodyweight.
  5. Roman Deadlift
    12 reps | 4 sets
    Low to moderate weight. I started with a low weight then added weight after each set.
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Be Bamboo

IMG_6516Did you know that the Chinese Bamboo Tree requires consistent nurturing, water, fertile soil, sunshine and for an entire 4 YEARS there is no sign of growth above the soil?

Until the 5th year it grows 90 feet in only 5 weeks. But if during the 4 year process it doesn’t get CONSISTENT water, nurturing, sunlight, or care the tree will never break the soil. It will have never reached its full growth or potential.

Whatever dream you have been working towards, praying for, dreaming of, sacrificing for; it is so much closer than you think. Keep going even when there is NO EVIDENCE.

Your consistency will pay off and suddenly a miracle. Your vision, and life will have a strong foundation and will be able to withstand anything that comes its way.

Buddha Bowls

Shot with DXO ONE Camera

Of course, I’m off prep and I can finally eat whatever I want! I’ve been dying to put together a “Buddha bowl,” they are healthy, beautiful and have become so trendy – but there’s so much you can put into them; sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. But today, I put together my first bowl after drooling over all the recipes on Pinterest. I totally recommend trying to make one – there is no strict rules as far as what makes it. It does include a variety of protein, vegetables, grains, and dressing. Some make full vegan bowls, vegetarian, or savory bowls. It’s completely customizable and total preference. Totally easy to fill your macros as well, if you’re looking for guidance you can break it down like this: 40% vegetables, 20% lean protein, 20% whole grains, 10% sauce, 10% add nutrients like sprouts, seeds, and nuts.

I’m going to share very quickly the one I made today, and probably ones I make in the future because they’re delicious and are so colorful!

Ingredients:

  • Organic lettuce
  • Organic red cabbage
  • Organic arugula
  • Red onion
  • Sliced carrots
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Baked asparagus
  • Organic avocado

Buddha Bowl Sauce:
Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • 1/4 cup of chickpeas
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, pealed
  • 1 whole lemon squeezed
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric

Blend all together!

If you’ve been dying to make one of these, and finally try it out let me know and share! I would love to hear what you put together.

Dairy-Free Superfood Chocolate Shake

18622170_10155458670609575_5894520119201903118_nI am in absolute love with these shakes! Not only are they dairy-free for my sensitive tummy, my kids love them as well. They come in 3 difference flavors, but my favorite is, of course – Chocolate. You can make these shakes into different consistency by using more or less ice (more ice, thicker shake; less ice, smoother consistency).

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 1.40.50 PMOn another note, let’s talk about the nutrition. It helps bring the body into balance. They are protein-based, mineral-rich, nutrient-dense, superfood. Packed with branched-chain amino acids, contains 24 grams of plant-based protein, active enzymes to help regulate digestion, 8 grams of fiber, 23 essential minerals, and all natural ingredients. Soy-free, Gluten-free, and low-glycemic index. There are also non-dairy-free which is made of undenatured whey protein.

On this shake, I have coconut shreds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds.

 

Battling Fluctuating Scales

In a perfect world, our weight wouldn’t fluctuate. Our body’s would only progress the way we wanted, but besides that the scale number wouldn’t change. If I weighed 140 in the morning, in this perfect world, I would still weight 140 before I went to bed. But we all know that this hardly ever happens. We know that this isn’t realistic. But so often, I see so many people freaking out over what the scale says. “I weighed 130 lbs this morning, then weighed myself before bed and I gained 5 lbs?!” STOP RIGHT THERE. 

First off, I want to start out by saying: Daily Check-Ins are a terrible idea. Although tracking the numbers aren’t bad, checking them each day can make you mentally unhealthy. It causes us to become to “analytical”. You start to become over critical of yourself, and judge every single thing about yourself. What I do recommend if you track your scale – weighing yourself once a week or every two weeks, first thing in the morning.

For those a wee bit crazy about the scale, here are things I want you to consider that will affect your morning and night weight/weight throughout the day, and remember to stop taking the scale number so critically: You’re body is more than fat, skin, and bones. It’s also water, food, muscle, organs, cells, and more.

Water Retention: Something I actually recently learned a lot about while on prep due to water loading/dehydrating. When you consume too much foods high in sodium (salt)  your body naturally retains water, making you weigh more on that pretty scale. The less salty foods you consume, the less water stored.

Dehydration: If you aren’t drinking enough water your body goes into panic-mode and retains as much fluid to compensate for not properly hydrating. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water so replenishing it every day helps. When our bodies become dehydrated, it can also cause bloating. Yikes! There are different recommendations on how much water one should consume such as the 8×8 Rule or half your weight in gallons. I always just aim to drink 1 gallon of water each day because I am athletic and I’m expelling a lot of water when I workout.

Menstruation: Unfortunately, when it’s that time of the month it causes our weight to fluctuate and bloat, also has to do with water retention. Sorry, ladies!

Last but not least, stress: our greatest culprit. Stress causes our cortisol, or “stress hormones,” levels to peak, causing us to store fat especially in our midsection. Excess cortisol levels can slow your metabolism, and cause your body to store glucose from all the demands of our busy lives causing actual weight gain. We become more prone to store an extra later of fat (one we don’t see on the outside) called “visceral fat” which is extremely difficult to get rid of, and can release chemicals in our bodies that trigger inflammation, also can lead to heart disease, or diabetes. Stress is pretty serious, so try your best to manage it and think positively… and avoid the cycle of “oh no gained weight”, going to stress and gain more weight because that isn’t always the case!

I hope this helps anyone who battles with scale weight fluctuation, and to remember that the scale weight isn’t always true, nor your best friend. Weigh-in every other week to avoid mentally bringing yourself down. Your scale weight is a small part of progress tracking, but it does not determine your value, life or progress.

2-Year Battle

I’ve always been active, I played sports growing up but obviously that all changes when you have kids. I managed to maintain a fairly active lifestyle when I moved to South Carolina in 2013, after having Vela. I invested in my first gym membership, and even though I had a little experience in training I didn’t have any knowledge of weight training, and most importantly: no knowledge about nutrition (the base of all our goals), and how to properly fuel your body for such activities, and battling eating disorders. Sound like a hot mess? Well I was. I’m going to do my best to show a breakdown down of my progress throughout the years, because just like every single real person out there our bodies fluctuate; we learn new things and implement them.

Version 2Here is a photo of me 2 years ago, post-baby and hustling in the gym. I had struggled a lot with bulimia/binging and purging after I had my kids, something I may or may not go into later. I went from weighing 120 lbs. in high school then blew up to almost 170 lbs. when I had Warren. I lost 40 of those lbs., but then got pregnant again and maintained 135-140 lbs. during the second pregnancy. Gradually, I started to gain weight and I didn’t know why or how then (I do now, obviously). At this point, I was either eating very little (cottage cheese and a handful of Wheat Thins), or overeating/binge eating junk food. I had a love hate relationship with food that was sickening. At my lowest once again, I weighed 125 lbs again. YAY… but I was unhappy. I was tired all the time, I was literally sick. I developed IBS at age 20, had chronic migraines – I was always sick. I was allergic to almost everything (I wasn’t allergic to anything prior to my poor eating habits). I was in and out of the hospital for reasons unknown. On top of my poor nutrition habits, I was overworking my body. I worked out 3-4 hours a day, every single day but Sunday. When I got home from my the gym, I would still be on the go and working out when I got home. I was skinny-fat for who much I worked out. I knew nothing about body recovery, or cared for it. All I knew was: I want to be skinny, I want to fit, I don’t want to be fat. Was this me being a healthy role-model to my children? Hell no.

Fast forward 1 year, we had moved back to Kansas City. I gained a lot of my weight Version 2back being near my family (Laotion food is so hard to resist!) and always having gatherings that of course, aimed around food. I was still working out, but that this point time was the only thing stopping me from working our 3 hours a day. I worked our 3-5 times a week, lifted weights but didn’t have a plan as far as working out. Let’s just say I did a lot of squats (and I’m telling you now that more squats don’t equal bigger booty; pancake butt stage) I was pretty fluffy, still binging and purging but wasn’t in starvation mode. I was eating whatever I pleased, and kind of tracking my food – calories, but not macros. I weighed 160 lbs. again, but eh – it was just muscle gain *eye roll* it was more of an excuse for my weight gain. At this point, I definitely put on muscle but I wasn’t leaning out. I was 29% body fat. I was still eating poorly, and compensating my poor eating habits with hard workouts. Still unhappy, still not accomplishing goals.

Version 2Present. I have a better understanding for nutrition, and training with a certification in the works, helping and coaching others to a healthy lifestyle… after my long constant battle. I’ve overcome a lot of battles with my binging and purging, but I am careful because I do prep for shows. I have to keep myself aware of thoughts, and habits; not all my goals are aesthetic. I’m thankful my husband watches my eating habits, because he has seen me struggling and fluctuate for years. Food is fuel, not a way to reward yourself for emotions. I am now 140 lbs, post-competition. I’m pretty content for a base/normal weight. I have more expectations for myself with the future competitions I compete in, but for now I am happy with this progress. I’m sitting at 14% body fat as of today. I work out 5-6 days out of the week, cardio intervals 3 times a week for 45 minutes, weights 4-5 days a week, HIIT/Plyometrics once  a week. I eat consistently now, 2-2.5 hours, track my calories and macronutrients. I prep my meals so I’m not tempted to grab something “convenient” aka fast food. I am balanced, for the most part. I eat healthy foods, not entirely clean but healthy. I don’t restrict myself or do crash diets. I still have goals to achieve that I am working towards, but right now I am happy with where I am and how far I have progressed past unhealthy eating habits and overexerting my body. I will eventually reach them, but there is no point in tearing my body apart now to only receive short-term goals that may harm my body in the long run. I know the importance of working my body, but also allowing it time to recover. It took a couple of years for me to learn, but I am glad I know now how to properly train.

Prep Life: It Isn’t Sustainable

Midwayam-1057

For years I have always wanted to compete in a bikini competition – as of May 12th, 2017 I was able to finally cross that off my bucket list. As I take a month off of prep for the next shows I have lined up this year, I have received so many compliments and encouraging word from friends and family. I cannot be any less thankful for everyone who has supported me in this. But something I want to share with everyone who has reached out to me about about weight-loss and how I did it. “I want to know what you’re doing!” “Can you share with me what you did to lose 20 pounds?!” “You did it so quickly, can you share with me how?!”

Before I prepped for my show I was consuming 1000-1200 calories a day; I was tracking my food, but didn’t have any real goals as far as fitness. I just knew that I wanted Chipotle and if I wanted Chipotle I need to track my calories in/calories out so I don’t get “fat” but eating whatever I wanted to because it fit my macros. I was just cruising through life like many of us do: workout, eat, sleep. I was unhappy though, for a really long time about my progress. Because in the back of my head, I wanted to lose 20 pounds, I wanted to feel comfortable in my skin, I was tired of being comfortable and saying “I look this way because I had kids and that’s okay” but fuck that, I was unhappy, and tired of that excuse. I weighed almost 160 pounds, but I wasn’t a “big” girl. I stacked a lot of muscle under my fluff and was 22% body fat at 5’1″. I had a love hate relationship with food.

I took 15 weeks to prep, and with prep I had a greater appreciation for food. MidwayPm-1547Competing has taught me how to manipulate food as energy (because it is) for intense workouts, it’s taught me how much I can challenge my body. It’s helped me reach goals I never though I would be able to reach. For 10-12 weeks I ate the same thing every single day, kind of – chicken/fish, broccoli/asparagus, rice/sweet potatoes with a dash of popcorn seasoning every 2-2.5 hours to keep my metabolism fueled. At this point I was eating 1600 calories a day, more calories than before; and lost 10 pounds in my first two weeks, dropped 5% body fat. I began to plateau, a feeling I was so used to for so long, so I increased my cardio. I began doing 45 minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week; somedays cardio twice a day. I loved the feeling, I was energized. I didn’t drink alcohol, couldn’t eat donuts, no fruit (yes, no fruits), no Chipotle in sight for weeks. I was ready to lose more.
As I got closer to show day, my meals became more restricted – no salt, no sugar, less carbs, hardly any fats. I became incredibly emotional, my hormones were out of whack with restricted I was with my food. I was always hungry for the next meal, but was full as I ate my food. Everyone I spoke to kept saying that shitty feeling was normal. Many ladies who end their prep indulge like crazy, and I hear horror stories of how they go so overboard that they gain so much weight back and screw up their metabolism. Indulging a little bit after the show was needed, I did it. But the next day it was back to clean eating. I’ve slowly began to reintroduce foods I used to eat that had salt, sugar, etc. so my body doesn’t know blow and that is something people have to be careful with. I ended my prep weighing 139 lbs, 13% body fat at 5’1″. The most important part of prep is the end of prep, and how to refeed your body the proper way.

MidwayPm-1548Is the prep lifestyle sustainable? No, not one bit. I am glad I met so many people who told me to remember that the body I get in prep isn’t sustainable. It’s do-able for a short amount of time but that’s why we thank off-season, eating regular balanced meals. Being on prep was a lot of emotional, and mental work but now I know what to expect so I am ready for the next one. If you are considering doing a bikini competition, trust your instincts, and listen to your body, and make sure you have an excellent support system but know it is very intensive, and takes a lot of dedication and physical work too.

Now I’m on to the next…

Midway USA Champtions May 12th, 2017 | All photos taken by: Doug Jantz Photography