I Can’t Eat That! – Balancing Healthy Eating and Normal Life

Original post can be found at: https://www.p28foods.com/i-cant-eat-balancing-healthy-eating-and-normal-life

Fast_Food hottie

There are countless challenges and roadblocks which can derail us from our efforts to follow a healthy meal plan, especially when we are faced with the indulgent foods that emerge during the holidays. Whether you are a seasoned competitor who is accustomed to following a strict meal plan, someone who wants to adopt healthier eating habits, or battling excess body weight, it can be very difficult to pass up regular restaurant meals, fast foods, and holiday treats. However, it IS possible to stay on track even in the face of such temptations.

The first and most important thing is to remember your GOAL, whether it is improved health, weight loss, or getting into contest shape for an upcoming event. Your goal should serve as a tangible mark which you are aiming for. I always tell my patients and weight management clients to post images of people who possess the type of physique they covet in a prominent place (such as a refrigerator) so that they can be reminded of their specific goal.

Here are other effective strategies to help you follow a healthy meal plan:

Keep forbidden foods out of the kitchen so that the temptation to eat something unhealthy is removed. This means that you need to avoid purchasing chips, crackers, cookies, ice cream, packaged pasta dinners and whatever other unhealthy foods you tend to gravitate towards. If unhealthy foods are not in your kitchen cupboards, you won’t be tempted to grab them and indulge.

Prep your meals at home beforehand. Meal prep can be tedious but it is well worth it when you consider the control you will have over what goes into your body. You can control ingredients, cooking method and portion sizes and maximize your chances of maintaining healthy eating habits. Once you have prepared your food, you can store single serving sizes in individual storage containers which are easy to pack when you need them.

Invest in a great food cooler bag. Trust me, you NEED one of these!

Make sure your meal plan is balanced. The best meal plans have lean protein, healthy fats and slow digesting carbohydrates. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that all fat is bad! You need certain healthy fats to maintain normal cellular function.

Avoid fast food restaurants. Fast food restaurants (and most restaurants for that matter) feature extremely unhealthy options which can completely destroy your efforts at reaching your health and fitness goals. You will also save a ton of money by avoiding the calorie and saturated fat laden options found at such establishments.

Don’t cave in to peer pressure. I don’t know what it is about friends and family, but it seems like they get some twisted thrill out of convincing others to eat forbidden foods. If you find yourself in such a situation, you need to ask yourself if it is worth unraveling your healthy eating habits in order to appease a relative or buddy. I have heard, “Awww, come on, a couple of bites won’t hurt ya!” from people who usually mean well but who are unaware of the psychological torture they might be putting me through. I honestly don’t want to be pressured into consuming something that will make me feel guilty or will not digest well . It isn’t worth it!

What Do You Bring To The Table? Know Your Worth

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Saturday, 06 December 2014

This is part two of an immensely popular article which I wrote for the site.

http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-business-fitness-modeling-and-showbiz/11909-what-do-you-bring-to-the-table-know-your-worth.html
Olympia 2014 foursome
Last month I wrote an article in which I discussed different levels of athlete sponsorship and the tendency of some sports supplement and fitness related companies to use athletes as unpaid salespeople under the guise of being sponsored. This month I am flipping to the other side and discussing athlete value, i.e., what the athlete SHOULD be bringing to the table in terms of marketability, knowledge, and salesmanship when approached for a sponsorship.Both the company and the athlete should have something to offer the other party so that the relationship is a healthy symbiosis which promotes both parties. Essentially, when an athlete and a company work together, they should be working as a TEAM so that everyone can benefit from the union, but this doesn’t always occur.

In some cases, athletes will work tirelessly to promote a brand for little or no compensation, while in others, supplement and fitness related companies put their energies into an athlete, believing that the athlete will enhance the brand, only to have an athlete take advantage and become extremely lazy and neglect his/her end of the deal. While there are athletes out there who have tremendous value and who have built laudable reputations through inspiring articles, e-books, and client transformations, there are countless more who have an exaggerated sense of self-entitlement and who believe that simply because they graced the stage once or twice, they deserve to have everything handed to them for free.

If you are new to competing or to the fitness world in general, you need to be aware that it takes time to build your own brand and to find your place in the industry. Perhaps the best thing you can do at this point is to assess your value and what you truly bring to the table. Companies which are looking for brand ambassadors want someone with a following and a unique presence or message which is congruent with their brand philosophy, so if you aren’t there yet, you had better start working on building your own value.

Let’s start with physical appearance. Those who are successful in the bodybuilding and fitness industry have great physiques which they continue to improve upon over time. Individuals who maintain a relatively consistent weight and conditioning level throughout the year tend to fare best as well since they are close to shoot/contest ready almost all the time. Some of the top signed sponsored athletes are also some of the best looking people on the planet! I’m not saying that you have to have movie star good looks to land sponsorships, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. This is when you need to be VERY realistic about yourself and what you bring into the mix. You should be blessed with good looks or a distinctive, appealing look, or at the very least be photogenic if you expect to land a sponsorship with one of the bigger supplement companies.

Perhaps you are just average looking, or have a face only a mother could love, but you ooze sex appeal and charisma. If you are blessed enough to have such an energetic pull on people, this could work in your favor during booth appearances and videos, and increase interest in the brand you are representing. You are also far more likely to get picked up by a company if you have an enthusiastic and positive attitude. In keeping with this, you should only work with companies which sell products you truly believe in and like, because your enthusiasm for the products will come through naturally as you promote them.

Another valuable trait which increases an athlete’s value is integrity. People who do well in the fitness and bodybuilding industry and who have longevity within it tend to be truthful, sincere, and have strong values. You must have a strong backbone to survive in this highly saturated and fickle industry, and that only comes with knowing who you are and honoring your personal beliefs. If you sell out and take shortcuts, you run the risk of having a very short-lived career.

One of the most powerful ways to connect with your core audience is to show your human side and share stories which allow your followers to relate to you. It doesn’t matter if you show your own body transformations or those of your clients, as long as followers can see a before photo which they can relate to and an after photo which inspires them to take action. Such inspiration becomes even more powerful when you offer to help followers to reach their fitness and wellness goals. People begin to believe in YOU, and that can give you the leverage you need to promote a product line for a brand you represent.

If you have experience and education in fitness, nutrition, business, advertising, medicine, physical therapy, massage, or any other field which may be relatable to your journey in fitness and to the people who follow you, it’s a good idea to fortify such knowledge by becoming an authority. You can do this by creating videos, blog posts and books which showcase your knowledge. This can make you especially valuable to supplement and fitness companies which are considering bringing you on board because you can offer your knowledge as part of the deal which you negotiate with them.

Many companies assess the popularity and reach of an athlete through social media numbers, a tactic which can edge many athletes out of the running for top sponsorship spots if numbers are all they care about. Some athletes have purchased followers or promoted their profiles by paying for them, which has worked in their favor when securing sponsorships, but I don’t recommend this route since many of those paid followers won’t buy products which the athlete promotes. Then there are athletes who desperately want to work in the industry and obtain sponsorships, but have built their following solely on sexy half-naked photos of themselves. These athletes (mostly women) have resorted to using their social media channels solely as a means to post scantily clad selfies which ostensibly generate a ton of likes from the opposite sex. Every athlete who lowers his/her standards to this point where the only value generated is from smutty photos is sure to find that there is no legacy to speak of as time goes on and looks fade.

Even if you build your value and show consistently that you have a strong work ethic, you must continue to meet your end of the bargain. Sometimes companies will give you product as a trial run to see what you will do with respect to adding value to the brand. Some athletes will ramp up slowly, while others will jump right in with social media posts and will do all they can to promote a product. I have also seen some athletes start out as strong cheerleaders for a product, only to fizzle out because they lack self-discipline and consistency. Of course this can also occur on the company’s end, so it behooves both the athlete and the company to check in with each other regularly to make sure that everyone is happy.

Eating For Two: Nutrition For Competitors During Pregnancy

Originally published on RxGirl on Thursday, 09 January 2014

http://www.rxmuscle.com/rx-girl-articles/9990-eating-for-two-nutrition-for-competitors-during-pregnancy.html
Kettlebell pregnancy
Female competitors may already find it challenging to keep up with proper nutrition during prep, but pregnancy confers even more nutritional demands. As a general rule, increasing caloric intake during pregnancy by 300 kilocalories per day meets the essential nutrient needs of the growing fetus for the majority of women, regardless of whether they compete or not. So if you are already struggling to get calories in, guess what? You will need to add an extra meal or two in your regimen to meet the caloric needs of pregnancy.

One of the physiological challenges which pregnancy creates in an effort to make enough glucose available to the growing fetus is insulin resistance in muscle tissues. This is similar to the insulin resistance which often occurs when the post-workout refeed one-hour window is missed. As a result, the practice of consuming smaller and more frequent meals among competitors works very well during pregnancy as well. Every meal should include lean protein sources, and protein intake should be increased by about 10% to support proper fetal development and increased blood volume in the mother.

Let’s also look at the carbohydrate needs of a female competitor during pregnancy. It has been shown that sharp decreases in blood glucose occur in the late stages of pregnancy following strenuous workouts. Such precipitous dips in blood glucose may compromise delivery of glucose to the fetus, so pregnant women need to consume adequate carbohydrates prior to exercise. An ideal quantity is 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates which would be consumed prior to the workout, with an additional 25 grams if the workout period is prolonged or especially strenuous. Pregnancy is NOT the time to fear carbohydrates! Stick to lower glycemic index carbohydrates for

pregnant belly
If you are already accustomed to drinking ¾ gallon to a gallon of water each day, and you plan to exercise regularly during pregnancy, you will also need to consume an additional 8 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of physical activity to maintain proper hydration and blood volume for you and the baby. Make sure to get clearance to exercise from your obstetrician, since certain pregnancy related medical conditions are contraindications to exercise. You should also take a good prenatal vitamin, as well as 800 micrograms of folic acid per day to guard against neural tube defects. Other recommended supplements which pregnant women can safely consume are magnesium, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and B-complex.

Though many competitors already refrain from consuming “white” foods (table sugar, table salt, enriched white flour), it is especially important to avoid such foods during pregnancy, not just for the reasons mentioned above, but also because white foods cause the breakdown of elastin in the skin. What that means is that your skin’s elasticity will diminish, increasing your likelihood of tearing during the process of labor. This is especially important in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. If you practice clean eating with the above guidelines in place, you will optimize your chances for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy, happy baby.

What Do You Bring To The Table? Know Your Worth

10696218_702764209815623_4560006572888614525_n (1)
Original post can be found at

http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-business-fitness-modeling-and-showbiz/11909-what-do-you-bring-to-the-table-know-your-worth.html

Last month I wrote an article in which I discussed different levels of athlete sponsorship and the tendency of some sports supplement and fitness related companies to use athletes as unpaid salespeople under the guise of being sponsored. This month I am flipping to the other side and discussing athlete value, i.e., what the athlete SHOULD be bringing to the table in terms of marketability, knowledge, and salesmanship when approached for a sponsorship. Both the company and the athlete should have something to offer the other party so that the relationship is a healthy symbiosis which promotes both parties. Essentially, when an athlete and a company work together, they should be working as a TEAM so that everyone can benefit from the union, but this doesn’t always occur.

In some cases, athletes will work tirelessly to promote a brand for little or no compensation, while in others, supplement and fitness related companies put their energies into an athlete, believing that the athlete will enhance the brand, only to have an athlete take advantage and become extremely lazy and neglect his/her end of the deal. While there are athletes out there who have tremendous value and who have built laudable reputations through inspiring articles, e-books, and client transformations, there are countless more who have an exaggerated sense of self-entitlement and who believe that simply because they graced the stage once or twice, they deserve to have everything handed to them for free.

If you are new to competing or to the fitness world in general, you need to be aware that it takes time to build your own brand and to find your place in the industry. Perhaps the best thing you can do at this point is to assess your value and what you truly bring to the table. Companies which are looking for brand ambassadors want someone with a following and a unique presence or message which is congruent with their brand philosophy, so if you aren’t there yet, you had better start working on building your own value.

Let’s start with physical appearance. Those who are successful in the bodybuilding and fitness industry have great physiques which they continue to improve upon over time. Individuals who maintain a relatively consistent weight and conditioning level throughout the year tend to fare best as well since they are close to shoot/contest ready almost all the time. Some of the top signed sponsored athletes are also some of the best looking people on the planet! I’m not saying that you have to have movie star good looks to land sponsorships, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. This is when you need to be VERY realistic about yourself and what you bring into the mix. You should be blessed with good looks or a distinctive, appealing look, or at the very least be photogenic if you expect to land a sponsorship with one of the bigger supplement companies.

Perhaps you are just average looking, or have a face only a mother could love, but you ooze sex appeal and charisma. If you are blessed enough to have such an energetic pull on people, this could work in your favor during booth appearances and videos, and increase interest in the brand you are representing. You are also far more likely to get picked up by a company if you have an enthusiastic and positive attitude. In keeping with this, you should only work with companies which sell products you truly believe in and like, because your enthusiasm for the products will come through naturally as you promote them.

Another valuable trait which increases an athlete’s value is integrity. People who do well in the fitness and bodybuilding industry and who have longevity within it tend to be truthful, sincere, and have strong values. You must have a strong backbone to survive in this highly saturated and fickle industry, and that only comes with knowing who you are and honoring your personal beliefs. If you sell out and take shortcuts, you run the risk of having a very short-lived career.

One of the most powerful ways to connect with your core audience is to show your human side and share stories which allow your followers to relate to you. It doesn’t matter if you show your own body transformations or those of your clients, as long as followers can see a before photo which they can relate to and an after photo which inspires them to take action. Such inspiration becomes even more powerful when you offer to help followers to reach their fitness and wellness goals. People begin to believe in YOU, and that can give you the leverage you need to promote a product line for a brand you represent.

If you have experience and education in fitness, nutrition, business, advertising, medicine, physical therapy, massage, or any other field which may be relatable to your journey in fitness and to the people who follow you, it’s a good idea to fortify such knowledge by becoming an authority. You can do this by creating videos, blog posts and books which showcase your knowledge. This can make you especially valuable to supplement and fitness companies which are considering bringing you on board because you can offer your knowledge as part of the deal which you negotiate with them.

Many companies assess the popularity and reach of an athlete through social media numbers, a tactic which can edge many athletes out of the running for top sponsorship spots if numbers are all they care about. Some athletes have purchased followers or promoted their profiles by paying for them, which has worked in their favor when securing sponsorships, but I don’t recommend this route since many of those paid followers won’t buy products which the athlete promotes. Then there are athletes who desperately want to work in the industry and obtain sponsorships, but have built their following solely on sexy half-naked photos of themselves. These athletes (mostly women) have resorted to using their social media channels solely as a means to post scantily clad selfies which ostensibly generate a ton of likes from the opposite sex. Every athlete who lowers his/her standards to this point where the only value generated is from smutty photos is sure to find that there is no legacy to speak of as time goes on and looks fade.

Even if you build your value and show consistently that you have a strong work ethic, you must continue to meet your end of the bargain. Sometimes companies will give you product as a trial run to see what you will do with respect to adding value to the brand. Some athletes will ramp up slowly, while others will jump right in with social media posts and will do all they can to promote a product. I have also seen some athletes start out as strong cheerleaders for a product, only to fizzle out because they lack self-discipline and consistency. Of course this can also occur on the company’s end, so it behooves both the athlete and the company to check in with each other regularly to make sure that everyone is happy.

Packing Fit Foods For Travel

It can be extremely challenging to maintain healthy eating habits while traveling abroad, especially in countries which have not embraced the concept of clean eating. An additional challenge which I encounter when I travel abroad is that it can be extremely difficult to consume the quantity of protein which I am accustomed to on a daily basis (150 to 200 grams per day). If I didn’t have access to wonderful products like P28 Bread, B-Up Bars, Quest Bars, Training Table Sports Meals and Kris Gethin’s Nutrition By Design Meal Cups to pack, I wouldn’t meet my macronutrient needs solely by eating at restaurants. I will continue to pack these convenient meal options when I go to Germany and England next year.

Both the Training Table Sports Meals and the Kris Gethin Meal Cups are whole food sources and pack a ton of protein (27 to 34 grams). The only drawback is that Training Table meals should be heated up in a microwave, and the Gethin meals require boiling hot water to rehydrate the ingredients. For this reason, I always make sure to pack P28 Bread and bars, since they don’t require any preparation. I can easily pack a box or two of bars (and yes, I ONLY eat B-Up and Quest) in my checked bag and also add a bag of P28 Flatbread. I pack the Gethin meals inside a rigid box so that the containers don’t get crushed, but everything else travels well without additional padding.

The only issue I ever run into is when I return to the States and have to go through customs. If I have any food left, the customs officials treat me like I am a drug lord or criminal! The food items which raised the most suspicious eye were the Gethin meals, which surprised me since they are dry. However, I will not allow the U.S. Customs officials to rain on my parade. I will continue to pack Gethin meals because they are so convenient and lightweight. Another great thing about Gethin meals, Training Table and B-Up Bars is that they won’t spoil during my travels.

Here are images of the products I have mentioned here. The only company I have not worked with is Kris Gethin Nutrition By Design, but my opinions of these products are completely honest and unbiased. All of these products are fantastic!

flatbreadbanner_copy

B UP bar collage

Quest Bars

Training Table

Kris Gethin meal

Four Years Of Team Universe!

Here are stage shots from all 4 years that I competed at the NPC Team Universe (2010 through 2013), stacked in reverse chronological order. I almost didn’t compete at Team U in 2013 because I had never done exceptionally well at this contest. Needless to say, I am so thankful that I had the stubborn determination to get back on that stage, because my wish finally came true in 2013!

To those of you who might be getting discouraged, DON’T GIVE UP!!! I can honestly say I looked better in the shot from 2013 (far right) which was taken days before my 47th birthday, than in the shot from 2010 (far left), taken on my 44th birthday. It’s been an amazing journey!

2013. Pro Card year! Overall Winner Masters 40+ Bikini 1st Place Masters 40+ Bikini B 1st Place Masters 35+ Bikini B 4th Place Open Bikini D

2013. Pro Card year!
Overall Winner Masters 40+ Bikini
1st Place Masters 40+ Bikini B
1st Place Masters 35+ Bikini B
4th Place Open Bikini D

2012 Team U 12th Place Masters 35+ Bikini 8th Place Open Bikini D

2012 Team U
12th Place Masters 35+ Bikini
8th Place Open Bikini D

1st Place Masters 45+ Bikini 11th Place Masters 35+ Bikini  8th Place Open Bikini D

1st Place Masters 45+ Bikini
11th Place Masters 35+ Bikini
8th Place Open Bikini D

13th Place Open Bikini D

13th Place Open Bikini D

I CAN’T EAT THAT! – BALANCING HEALTHY EATING AND NORMAL LIFE

Original post can be found at: https://www.p28foods.com/i-cant-eat-balancing-healthy-eating-and-normal-life

There are countless challenges and roadblocks which can derail us from our efforts to follow a healthy meal plan, especially when we are faced with the indulgent foods that emerge during the holidays. Whether you are a seasoned competitor who is accustomed to following a strict meal plan, someone who wants to adopt healthier eating habits, or battling excess body weight, it can be very difficult to pass up regular restaurant meals, fast foods, and holiday treats. However, it IS possible to stay on track even in the face of such temptations.

The first and most important thing is to remember your GOAL, whether it is improved health, weight loss, or getting into contest shape for an upcoming event. Your goal should serve as a tangible mark which you are aiming for. I always tell my patients and weight management clients to post images of people who possess the type of physique they covet in a prominent place (such as a refrigerator) so that they can be reminded of their specific goal.

Here are other effective strategies to help you follow a healthy meal plan:

Keep forbidden foods out of the kitchen so that the temptation to eat something unhealthy is removed. This means that you need to avoid purchasing chips, crackers, cookies, ice cream, packaged pasta dinners and whatever other unhealthy foods you tend to gravitate towards. If unhealthy foods are not in your kitchen cupboards, you won’t be tempted to grab them and indulge.

Prep your meals at home beforehand. Meal prep can be tedious but it is well worth it when you consider the control you will have over what goes into your body. You can control ingredients, cooking method and portion sizes and maximize your chances of maintaining healthy eating habits. Once you have prepared your food, you can store single serving sizes in individual storage containers which are easy to pack when you need them.

Invest in a great food cooler bag. Trust me, you NEED one of these!

Make sure your meal plan is balanced. The best meal plans have lean protein, healthy fats and slow digesting carbohydrates. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that all fat is bad! You need certain healthy fats to maintain normal cellular function.

Avoid fast food restaurants. Fast food restaurants (and most restaurants for that matter) feature extremely unhealthy options which can completely destroy your efforts at reaching your health and fitness goals. You will also save a ton of money by avoiding the calorie and saturated fat laden options found at such establishments.

Don’t cave in to peer pressure. I don’t know what it is about friends and family, but it seems like they get some twisted thrill out of convincing others to eat forbidden foods. If you find yourself in such a situation, you need to ask yourself if it is worth unraveling your healthy eating habits in order to appease a relative or buddy. I have heard, “Awww, come on, a couple of bites won’t hurt ya!” from people who usually mean well but who are unaware of the psychological torture they might be putting me through. I honestly don’t want to be pressured into consuming something that will make me feel guilty or will not digest well . It isn’t worth it!

Protein Intake and The Fountain Of Youth

protein sourcesPeople are more intent these days than ever before on maintaining youthfulness and optimal health, especially if those benefits can be obtained naturally and safely. It turns out that one of the best ways to naturally boost the body’s ability to combat aging is to consume adequate protein. When protein is consumed, a steady stream of glucose is released via glucagon without spiking insulin levels in the body. Conversely, a diet low in protein but high in carbohydrates results in high levels of insulin, which over the course of time can result in widespread inflammation, diabetes, and obesity.

Whey protein in particular is a remarkable protein source for people of all ages, but is especially beneficial in older people. It is highly absorbable, contains all 18 amino acids, immunoglobulins and lactoferrin, and all the building blocks for a powerful antioxidant called glutathione. Glutathione deficiency is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, asthma and cancer, and because of this, it is considered a key substance in combating the process of aging. Natural glutathione production in the body declines with age, but with whey protein on board, the amino acids necessary for glutathione production are supplied to the body and optimal levels can be attained as a result.

Though athletes and competitors are aware of the health and muscle building benefits of whey protein, I am astonished by how it is not utilized nearly enough by the average person. All too often I see patients who regularly skip meals and eat fast foods and other processed foods, and who assume that whey protein is only for athletes. If you are an average person who wants to change poor eating habits and optimize cellular function, then you need to boost protein intake and add whey as one of your protein sources. You are doing yourself a disservice if you insist on eating junk carbs like simple sugars and processed foods, skipping meals, and consuming insufficient protein, especially if you are over the age of 35 and trying to fend off disease and aging.