My 1,700 Calorie Dinner

Last night I ate 1,700 calories for dinner. Seriously. That is not a typo.
Here’s the scoop – I belong to the Cynthiana Underground Supper Club. Actually, I’m the founder (and no, there’s no tiara, special jacket or plaque that comes with that title.)

 
Every quarter, one of three couples hosts a meal at their house. And we’re not just talking hamburgers or lasagna. We’re talking three course meals with decadent food, awesome cocktails and drool-worthy desserts.

 
I’ve know about this Supper Club all week. And, you all know that I’m watching my calories and weight. So, what’s a girl to do? Well, instead of bringing my own grilled chicken in a Tupperware container, I just planned ahead.

 
Knowing I’d have a big (ok, huge) meal on Saturday, I used this week to make some smart decisions. I added in a little extra exercise this week. I also chose to tighten up my diet and food choices this week (step away from the Valentine’s chocolates.) 🙂

 
Because – for me, Supper Club is one of my favorite times. A time to enjoy awesome food, drinks and a great night with my friends. Counting calories, eating smart and working towards my fitness goals is great – but it’s certainly not the most important thing. Living life means actually living life.

 

So, I chose to plan ahead, do my best for the week, then go to dinner and enjoy it without regret.

 
So, I ate my flight of crab cakes, demolished the lemon orzo soup and straight crushed every bite of my bittersweet chocolate lava cake (and even some of my husband’s.) And I enjoyed every single bite.

 
But come this morning, I hit the egg whites. Because, having one splurge meal shouldn’t bleed over into a splurge week. I’ll hop right back on my fitness wagon. Or perhaps I’ll need to harness pull that wagon this week. 🙂 You don’t have to wait until Monday or the first of the month to get back on your healthy eating. Do it the next meal. Let a splurge meal be just a meal then get focused and hit it again.

 

Work towards your goals. I’ll be the first to say that. But don’t let your eating totally control your life. You’ll miss a lot of living and a whole lot of fun if you’re always eating your celery out of your Tupperware.

 
Plan ahead. Eat well when you can. Make smart decisions when you can. But, when the time comes – let your hair down, take a breather and eat the whole lava cake.

 
Bon appetite!

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Lifting Belts and Yoga Mats

This morning I took a yoga class. It was awesome.

 

But I haven’t always liked yoga. It took me quite some time to get to a point where I actually enjoyed it.

 

I clearly remember my first yoga class. It was at my gym. The teacher was the stereotypical yoga teacher. You know – Peace, Love and Patchouli. I’m fairly certain she drank chi tea while she made her own deodorant.

 

During our hour long class, she had us do moves like “The Dolphin” and “Happy Baby” – I’m pretty sure she made that move up. Then, towards the end of the class, she said it was time for shavasana (I had no idea what this was at the time.) She had us all grab a large, wool blanket. We then lay still under the blanket with our eyes closed while she played music with ocean waves and talked about “breathing through our eyes.” As I left the class, I promptly told my husband, “If that is yoga, then I do yoga eight hours in my bed every night.”

 

To me, a workout just wasn’t a workout unless I was drenched in sweat and out of breath. Boy was I wrong. I just didn’t open myself up to yoga and understand it.

 

So, fast forward about 10 years. I’ve been weight training for a few years now – moving some serious weight. On top of that, I’m running, jumping and adding in Strongman implement training. That combination is just brutal on the body. The continual beating on your muscles, joints and body is pretty intense. So, I decided to give yoga another look.

 

As I started to ease into yoga, read about the benefits and really open myself up to it, I began to like it. It’s challenging. You have to focus mentally and physically to perform the moves. And, I could see where each move was opening my joints (especially those tight hips you get from squats and deadlifts.) It was stretching my muscles and lengthening my spine, which usually takes a pounding. (Umm, can anyone say “yoke carry?”)

 

I took classes from lots of different teachers and studios. And began to learn that not all yoga classes are created equal. There are a million different types of yoga, each with different techniques and areas of focus. I learned that I usually prefer more of a power yoga class, but other times, I just want to focus on stretching and relaxing. Another cool thing about yoga – you go at your own pace. Push it as hard as you want, or take it easier. There’s room to make each move harder or modify it to make it easier.

 

Since I’ve started incorporating yoga into my fitness routine, I’ve tried aerial yoga, paddleboard yoga, candlelight yoga – I’ll pretty much try any class. (Just FYI – aerial yoga did not make for pretty photo ops.)

 

When I invite some of my Strongman friends to yoga, I’m always surprised that their number one response is, “I can’t go because I’m not flexible.” Ummm, that’s the dumbest response I’ve ever heard. That’s exactly why you GO to yoga in the first place. That’s the equivalent of saying, “I’m too dirty to take a shower.” Like anything else in life: you have to actually DO it to get better. Plus, let me tell you this – everyone there is so focused on themselves and trying not to fall, that they have no idea what anyone else in the class is doing. Seriously.

 

Yoga and Strongman training are not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to pick only one. The two actually compliment each other. Check this article out:  Yoga & Deadlifts. It outlines a study saying eight weeks of yoga can increase your deadlift by 13%. Um, yes, please.

 

Let me bottom line this for you — if you’re lifting heavy, you should be incorporating yoga into your training program. You’ll see an increase in weight lifted, stronger performance during competitions and better mental focus.

 

Sign up for a yoga class. Try it out. If you’re local in Cynthiana, we have some great options for yoga classes. There’s a class every Saturday at The Prizing House at 8:30. It’s $10/class or $8 for BBR Gym members. Also, Down To Earth on Pike Street offers yoga on Thursday nights at 7:00, $12/class.

 

So, toss out your preconceived ideas of yoga. Give it a shot. Your joints, body and your three lift total will thank you. And, if nothing else, you’ll get a good nap under a warm blanket.

 

Namaste.

 

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Want to Know My Body Fat Percentage?

Yesterday, I had my body fat checked. It’s never a fun event. As I stand on the machine watching the numbers go up and down, I can’t help but feel it’s a little like the slot machine at a casino (come on low numbers….)

 

But, I really like knowing where I stand. A little background – I have a degree in finance. So, I like graphing and trending. It helps me see where I’ve been, where I am now and where I am in comparison to my goals. You can understand why I like to track my body fat percentage.

 

Yesterday, my body fat was 16.9%. Not my lowest (13%) but certainly not my highest (19.5%.) Now, before you start cussing at the screen – I’m sure I’ve been WELL over 19.5% body fat, just not since I started tracking it.

 

The first question you’re probably asking (or currently Googling now) is – what is a normal Body Fat percentage? It depends on which site you check, but most people agree a normal BF% for women is somewhere between 25-31%. Check out this Built Lean link Built Lean Body Fat Charts

 

 

It shows a few different ideal body fat charts and breaks down the differences.

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I really like checking my body fat for one main reason – my weight may only fluctuate three/four pounds, but it can change my body fat percentage significantly. So, for all those women that are seeing their pants get looser, their bench press go up but the scales sit still – it might be a change in body fat. By losing body fat and gaining muscle, your weight can remain the same, but you’re still slimming down. Here’s an example: between my highest BF% (19.5%) and my lowest BF% (13%) there was a difference of only 5.8lbs.

 

My current body fat percentage puts me in the “Athletic” or “Lean” categories. But there are some important things to consider with BF%. Ones that, from experience, I highly advise you consider:

 

You need to know what works for your body: I can tell you, my body hated being at 13% body fat. I was tired, cranky and my body didn’t function at the level I wanted it to in the gym. My athletic performance suffered. So, listening to my body (I can’t stress that enough) I now know that body fat percent is just too low for me. My body functions best when I’m closer to the 16-19% range. It’s happier there. My energy is higher, my food choices more varied and it fits into my social life perfectly. Another biggie – it lets me lift and workout at the level I want. Moving a 200# Atlas Stone at 16% body fat is much easier for me.

You need to decide what you’re willing to do: This is one of my favorite articles I’ve ever read. Seriously. It talks about “The Cost of Getting Lean: Is it Really Worth the Trade Off?” Cost of Being Lean I made decisions in the past choosing to skip parties/dinners to forgo high calorie drinks and foods. I also chose to cut socialization to add in additional exercise. You have to make the decision – is that worth it to you? What are you willing to do to get lean? And how lean do you really want to be? Read the article. Really read it. Then bookmark it.

 

One other BIG thing I want to make sure you know: there are a lot of ways to check your body fat percentage. And their accuracy is all across the board. I had my body fat checked today using an InBody machine (which provides 98% accuracy.) But there are lots of ways to check your body fat: Body Fat Scales, Handheld BIA Devices, Calipers, etc. Here’s a link that outlines the most common ones and their accuracy. Ways to Check Body Fat The InBody is pretty darn accurate. However, if I step on my scale at home – which touts a body fat calculator – it shows I’m sitting at 23% body fat. So, when you’re getting your body fat measured, be sure it’s a way that is accurate.

 

If you’re local in Cynthiana, our awesome hospital gym has a great body fat analysis machine. They’ve agreed to allow non-gym members to swing by the gym and have your body fat tested. How awesome is that? Just swing by the gym at Harrison Memorial Hospital. Tell them you read about this on the Cynthiana Strong blog and they’ll let you check your body fat twice a month for $5. Really. Go do it. You may not like where you’re at now, but it gives you a place to start and a comparison point as you move forward with your fitness.

 

Before I sign off – I wanted to make sure I top this post off with one very important thing: I read a quote the other day that said, “My weight is the least interesting thing about me.” I couldn’t agree more. Don’t let the scale and your body fat define you. It’s just one of the many things that make you you. But, it is your life to control. If you want to change it – do it. If you don’t – don’t. Either way, keep yourself interesting, fun and even a little weird. It’s more fun that way.

 

Stay Strong, Lift Big and Eat Well!

 

Housekeeping Note: In a few days, I’ll start posting all blog posts on the Cynthiana Strong Facebook page. So, if you want to keep updated on the most recent posts, follow the blog (just click on “Follow”) or like the Cynthiana Strong Facebook page.

How I Got Abs

How I Got Abs (My Most Frequently Asked Question)

I kinda’ get mad when I see all the posts on my FB page about “do these four moves for toned abs” or “10 minutes to a six pack.” Spoiler alert: that’s not how you get the sculpted body you’re totally crushing on. Before I started lifting heavy, I thought it was that simple: tear out a five-move workout routine from the fitness magazine, tape it on the fridge and do those exercises three times a week. I was certain the abs would follow. Guess what – they didn’t.

 
The sad thing is, so many people think it is that easy. Just spend a little time doing some simple moves and you’ll be slim, trim and cut up. Wrong. Way wrong. Like “Louisville is the capital of Kentucky” wrong.

 
Now, before I go any farther, let me put a caviat out there – this is what works for my body. What works for you may be different. I have tried about every combination of exercise/diet/fad diet you could think of over the last 15 years. But as I eased into weight lifting and Strongman training, I found what works for me.
In order for me to lose body fat, gain muscle and get cut up, it’s a three prong approach. Drum roll please…..

 
#1) Watch What you Eat: I can’t stress this enough. I see girls everyday working out like crazy in the gym, then see them check in at the local Mexican restaurant that evening. If slimming down and really seeing muscle definition is your goal – eating junk won’t get you the results you want. The thought of “Ooh, I burned 500 calories during my workout. Now I have 500 calories to eat at McDonalds” is not how it works. If you’re trying to slim down, YOU CANNOT EAT BACK THE CALORIES YOU BURNED. Exercising isn’t a free pass to eat what you want, it’s a way to burn off some of the extra “fluff” you’ve got around your middle (or in my case, booty.) You’ve heard it before, “abs are made in the kitchen” – that is the absolute truth. Working out in the gym is hard, but you know what is harder? Resisting chips and cake. You must do both if you want to see the results. A friend of mine the other day said, “You know what exercise is good for toning my inner thighs? Quit eating so much crap.” #truth

 

#2) Weight Lifting: Wonder how those girls get that muscle definition? It’s lifting weights. Not the dainty, pink 5lbs weights, but the big momma weights. It builds muscle, burns fat and gets you those awesome muscles lines you’re drooling over. So many women are intimidated by the big plates, the large dumbbells and don’t even talk about the squat rack. But – you have to use them to get results. If you’re intimidated, start with a friend. Hire a coach (this is invaluable and worthy of its own blog post another day.) But get familiar with the gym, the moves and the heavy weight. Your booty will thank you.

 

#3) Cardio: Ahh, yes. The dreaded “c” word. So many people in the Strongman world see cardio as a way to “lose those gains.” Poppycock. I see cardio as a way to get my heart in shape, get my endurance up and lose a little pudge. Remember, my goal is to lift heavy at a certain body weight and be a well-rounded athlete. Maybe that’s not your goal. But if you want to trim down, you have to incorporate cardio. My cardio is on point. But that’s because I work at it. Seriously – you want to challenge me in a lightweight rep competition or a run around the block? I’m in. A lot of Strongmen just lift heavy – and when it comes to a timed event, after a few reps they fizzle out. Cardio is your friend. Hang out with it. Invite it to girl’s night. Get matching tattoos. You get the idea.

 
Ok, time for a Captain Obvious Rule: To be in good cardio shape – you have to actually DO cardio. Sounds easy but people just don’t do it. I schedule cardio time separate from my weight lifting every week. I run. I do workout videos. Right now, I’m digging spinning classes. In a 45 minute class, I burn around 500 calories. And, super important for me, it doesn’t hurt my hip or knees. I walk (or kind of hobble) out of class with a nice little workout. Do cardio = see results.

 

If you want to slim down and get cut up, it’s not a secret how to do it. But it isn’t easy. It takes time, dedication and a whole lot of veggies.

 

Side Note: I’ve started to get some requests from you guys on posts to write and things you want to hear about (like today’s topic.) If there’s something particular that you want to know – comment and let me know. I’ll add it in a post.

Be Strong, Lift Big and Eat Well!

Let the Countdown Begin

The countdown is officially on. It’s exactly one month until my next strongman competition (The Strongest Southern Belle.) I’m pretty pumped. My last competition was back in November at Kentucky’s Strongest Man & Woman. So, I’m kinda’ itching for a competition. I think if I go too long without a competition, I start getting a twitch and challenging everyone I know to useless competitions (who can stack the apples on the kitchen table the tallest?) No joke. And besides, I am certain my husband is tired of hearing about the Conan’s Wheel and Axle Presses.
My training is coming along pretty well and I’m feeling good about the events. Right now, there are five other competitors in my weight class (under 123#.) Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll concentrate on getting faster, stronger and feeling more comfortable with the events. But most of all, over the next few weeks – I’ll start telling everyone I know to mark their calendars for the Strongest Southern Belle. Because this competition is, hands down, my favorite competition I do each year.
If you’re a Strongwoman Competitor, I hope you’ve already sent in your entry form (Side Note – I’ve loved reading everyone’s bios on the SSB Facebook page.) If you’re not a competitor, go ahead and get out the red marker and circle February 27th on your calendar to come and watch.
Wondering why this competition is one of my favorite events (besides the cutest tshirt and the short commute?) Here you go:

Girl Power: Traditionally, Strongman has been, like the name suggests, just about the boys. But women are taking this sport by storm. Here’s the perfect example. Strongest Southern Belle was ground-breaking by being the first all-woman USS Strongwoman competition in the country last year. What started as a few Strongwomen speckled across the country has turned into a wave of strong women growing bigger by the day. So, at SSB, when you put over 50 strong, determined women in one room and add weights – you get one heck of an amazing atmosphere. Talk about girl power. It’s something that’s hard to explain, but it’s palpable. It’s nice to see the boys on the sidelines cheering and having the women in the spotlight. Love, love, love it. Girl power is having a moment right now – here’s a chance to see it in action.

The Food: The Prizing House is catering the food and drinks again this year. They pretty much rocked it out last year. If you’ve been to other Strongman competitions, you know the food is usually pretty crappy – lots of bad chicken fingers and microwaved French fries. Not at SSB. Last year, the Prizing House actually had brats with mango salsa, strawberry basil margaritas and ridiculously awesome fresh-baked cookies. I’d sign up to compete just so I could eat there.

The Music and Emcees: The Occasional Tough Guys are emceeing and DJing the competition again. Disclaimer – my husband is part of the emceeing crew. (He’s the tall cute one with, as someone once described him, “hair the color of the sun.”) But the Occasional Tough Guys were awesome last year. They kept the music rolling. And not the death metal stuff pumped at some competitions, but fun, upbeat music – I think I even heard some Katy Perry last year. And, don’t laugh, I actually like to deadlift to some Katy. At most events, the spectators are left in the dark as to what’s going on and how the events work. One of the best things about the emcees, they keep the audience updated on each event, what the athletes are doing, the amount of weight they’re lifting. So, even if you’re new to Strongman competitions, you understand what’s going on.
The Spectators: This was one of the coolest things last year. The spectators are super close to the athletes. This sounds a little scary, but it makes for the most awesome atmosphere. The audience is so close that they get to be really involved in each event. That means for more claps and cheers to give you the extra oomph for the last rep.

So, I’ve got one month to concentrate on my events and you have one month to decide what you’re going to wear to the competition.

Strongest Southern Belle – February 27, Cynthiana, Kentucky 11:00. See you there!

Be strong, lift big and eat well!

Everything I Ate Yesterday (Seriously.)

If I had a dollar for every time people ask me what I eat each day, I could afford the fancy new lifting belt I’ve been eyeing.

So, today, I thought I’d tell you exactly what I ate yesterday. The good, the bad and the Nutella. If that sounds interesting to you – read on. If not, skip today’s blog and go check out http://www.isitchristmas.com.  (It always makes me laugh.)

7:45 – Oatmeal and brown sugar
This is one of my go-to breakfasts. Half a cup of oatmeal, half a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and two tsp of brown sugar heated in the microwave. Warm and yummy.

10:45 – Goldfish
Yep, grabbed a handful of goldfish crackers on the counter. Felt bad eating it, but it hit the spot.

1:00 – Southwest Omelet
Seriously, one of my favorite things to eat. One Tbsp black beans, 2 Tbsp banana peppers, ¼ cup corn, red chili powder, onion powder and Laughing Cow spicy cheese. All that goodness wrapped up in one egg and one egg white and topped with 3 Tbsp salsa. I think I’m drooling on the keyboard….

1:30 – Nutella
Okay, it’s not quite a secret that I’ve got a sweet tooth the size of my booty. I ate 1Tbsp Nutella. I measured it out and logged the calories. It was worth it.

4:30 – Light and Fit Greek Yogurt (I like the Cherry) with Chia Seeds

7:45 – Chicken Wrap
Two oz of chicken breast, lettuce, spicy cheese on a low cal wrap. A side of strawberries with a scoop of light Cool Whip.

That’s it. I seriously ate this. Nothing omitted, edited or added because it sounded good. And I pretty much eat like this everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I love donuts as much as the next girl (and don’t even get me started on cupcakes) but, it’s discipline and keeping my goal in mind that keep me reaching for fruit.

It’s definitely not the perfect day of eating, but certainly not my worst. If you’ve actually read this whole blog today, you’re either (like me) interested in what people eat on a normal day or incredibly bored.

Keep in mind, I’m all of 5’0” tall (with my shoes on) so my caloric needs may not match yours. Everyone is different. Eat what works for you and your goals.

Hit up the comments if you have questions.

Happy eating, y’all.

Today I’m Sore

Massage Therapist Love

Yesterday was Strongman Sunday. I trained all the implements for my upcoming competition. So, now that Monday has rolled around – my body is feeling every rep of the axle and each rotation of the Conan’s Wheel.

I now know that I’ll call my massage therapist (in my speed dial) and set up a massage this week. I sure wish someone had let me in on the secret of a good massage therapist earlier in my Strongwoman training. Unfortunately, had to learn the hard way.

When I first started strongman training, I would have days with crazy back pain, sore traps and hamstrings that were as tight as rubber bands. And I had no idea what to do about it. I just popped some ibuprofen, took hot baths and waited for it to pass. Since I didn’t know how to treat it, the pain would worsen and cause other areas to hurt, too. I didn’t know the “strongman secret” of what a good massage can do for you.

Now that you’re on your journey in the Strongman training world, I’m sure you’ve noticed a few things – Strongman training inevitably leaves you with tight muscles, a ton of bruises and unbelievably sore. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to find a good massage therapist. Seriously, finding a good massage therapist is life-changing and, for me, essential to my Strongman training. Here are a few tips to finding a Massage Therapist:

Find one that Works on Athletes: There are a ton of massage therapists. But most of them focus on relaxing massages with aromatherapy and hot stones. But, when my back is tight and my quads are screaming, that’s not exactly what I need. Let’s face it, our bodies are just different. We’re built differently, we have a lot more muscle than the Average Joe and we ask a lot from our bodies every day during training. So, obviously, our massages aren’t going to be the same as everyone else’s. You want a massage therapist that understands what you do during workouts, how hard you push yourself and what is needed to help get your body ready for your next training session.

Tell them Exactly what you Want/Don’t Want: This is a bit trickier for people. You need to communicate exactly what you need from your massage therapist. Don’t just lay on the table in your undies and tell her to “do the normal massage.” You need to really be open and honest and let them know what areas need attention. Heck, sometimes I go into a massage and say, “spend the whole hour on my back.” That way, the areas that actually need the attention get it. After all, you paid for the massage – get what you need out of it.

It May Get Personal: Ok, here’s where it can get touchy (pun intended.) Sometimes, the areas that need attention might be a little, how do I say this, “near delicate areas.” But, if you’re there to really get the kinks out, you’re going to have to let down your guard a bit. Case in point – I was having some awful pain in my butt/hamstring. I told my (kinda new at the time) massage therapist what was hurting, going into great detail on the pain and location. That day, we really took our relationship to a whole new level. Perhaps we should have first had dinner and drinks. 🙂 But she located the issue, focused on it and, no surprise, it was better when I left. Don’t be scared to tell them your glutes hurt or your pecs are sore. They’ll rub it, fix it – then maybe you should send them flowers. 🙂

It Probably Won’t Be Comfortable: Anymore, I very rarely get to go into a massage and relax and enjoy it. Often times, it’s even uncomfortable. But the massage therapist is working to help relax the muscles, get out knots and help me get ready for what I’m demanding of my body the next day. There have been a few times she’s run up my quad that I seriously broke out into a sweat and may/may not have uttered a few colorful words, but it’s so worth it when I walk (and sometimes skip) out of the door.

Go Often: Once you get a relationship with a massage therapist that works for you – go see them. A lot. Listen to your body. When it starts telling you it’s tight and tired (sometimes in a soft voice, other times screaming) make an appointment. When I’m hitting training hard with heavy weights, I sometimes go every 7-10 days. Seriously. You’ll be happier, your muscles will be happier and your performance in the gym will be better.

If you’re looking for a massage therapist that’s a good fit for you – start by asking the other Strongmen/Strongwomen in your gym. I guarantee you they’ll have recommendations on people they use.

Stay strong, lift big and eat well!

Rebecca