Strawberry Banana Protein Pancakes

Strawberry Banana Topped Protein Pancakes

When I was younger, my family and I lived in Alaska for 4 years. A couple blocks from our house, there were some strawberry bushes that grew alongside the road. My mom would take all of us kids with her and we would pick giant bowls of strawberries each time. We would go back home and my mom would mash the strawberries, add some sugar and we would pour the mixture over some warm waffles. Throw a dollop of cool whip on top and it was such a treat!

Fast forward 20 years and here I am recreating that same deliciousness with health in mind, so that I can enjoy these on a daily basis and not feel guilty about it. With less sugar, more protein and some added banana….I feel like a kid all over again!!!

If you are a breakfast, fruit, pancake/waffle lover like myself, I dare you to try these out. You won’t be disappointed!

Here’s what you’ll need:

• 1/2 cup Kodiak Cakes (macros are based on use of this pancake mix)

• 1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk

• 1 egg

• 3 large strawberries, sliced

• 1/2 large banana, thinly sliced

• Redi-Whip (not calculated in macros)

Instructions:

1. Mix Kodiak Cake mix, almond milk and egg in a small bowl.

2. Cook 3 small pancakes over medium heat.

3. When pancakes are done, top one pancake with 4 slices of banana and 4 slices of strawberries. Stack another pancake on top and layer more banana and strawberries on top. Stack the last pancake on top and place remaining strawberries and banana on top.

4. Top with Redi-Whip.

5. Devour!

Macros (approximate):

• Calories: 352

• Fat: 8g

• Carbohydrates: 49g

• Protein: 21g

Protein Mug Cake

Microwave Protein Mug Cake

Oh my goodness, how have I gone all these years without discovering such a delicious, EASY, quick, protein packed recipe!?

Now that I’ve found this lovely creation, you can bet I’ll be making this in all kinds of different flavors! This is so simple, it’s a great way to curb any cravings. And since it’s so quick, there’s no excuse not to make it!

Here’s what you’ll need:

INGREDIENTS:

-1 scoop protein powder-preferably casein, vegan or egg blend (I used Body Nutrition Company’s Trutein Red Velvet Cake Protein)

-1 TBSP coconut flour

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/4 cup egg whites or 1 large egg

-1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a small bowl, combine protein powder, coconut flour and baking powder.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg whites and milk

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.

4. Pour the mixture into a greased cereal bowl or deep mug.

5. Microwave for 1-1.5 minutes depending on microwave and desired consistency.

6. Add toppings if desired.

7. Enjoy!

MACROS: (these macros are based on my protein powder and the use of egg whites)

Fat: 6g

Carbs: 9g

Protein: 27g

Calories: 198

Lemon Blueberry Protein Smoothie

Lemon Blueberry Protein Smoothie
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Can I just take a moment to drool over how delicious this looks and tastes!!

Okay, I’m done for now.

If you are a lover of all things lemon, like I am, then I am sure you will love this treat! The best part? You get 25g of protein in one smoothie! Now that’s what I’d call delicious and nutritious! This smoothie is high in protein and low in carbs & sugar, which means you can say hello to guilt free snacking! Enjoy the entire thing without a second thought, at any point during the day! It’s lemony, tasty and macro friendly! I hope you all love it!

Ingredients:

  • 10oz original unsweetened almond milk (depending on desired consistency)
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries

Make It:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a Nutribullet or blender & blend. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add some water.
  2. Garnish with blueberries, lemon & lemon zest if desired.
  3. Devour the entire smoothie with no guilt!

Macros:

Calories: 167

Fat: 3g

Carbs: 10g

Protein: 25g

Measuring Success

So I wanted to write this post so I can share a bit of my recent journey and some self discovery I’ve made.

Today my husband and I are one week away from being in Mexico…EEEK! So excited!! Hubby and I always “prep” for vacation when we know that we’ll be spending it at the beach. We don’t compete in shows, we don’t do photoshoots and we don’t get a lot of sunshine or beach time here in dreary Washington, so we enjoy the opportunity and challenge of prepping to look our best for these big vacations!

Today I stepped on the scale, only because I’ve been monitoring progress of my cutting phase so that I can share the results and progress later on.

When I got on the scale it read 116.5 lbs.

Your thoughts??? “That’s great!”, “Wow, that’s amazing!”, “Is that a problem?”, etc.

After giving it some thought, yes it is great and amazing and no it’s not a problem at all and I’ll tell you why….

I went through a huge bulk last fall. I gained 10 lbs in 11 weeks, a combination of fat & muscle. But I was SO proud that I had such a successful bulking season, that I had regained size in my glutes (and all over) and that I was healthy and happy. I ended in October with a weight of 125.5 lbs and I was so excited. I felt like I was strong, healthy and muscular like all those “other fit chicks” because I felt like finally my weight and measurements could compare to what I’ve seen. What I didn’t realize is that bulking season caused me to put so much value and emphasis on the “number.” The weight I saw on the scale defined my progress for 11 weeks and I let that consume me.

Fast forward to January and I decided to start prepping for our trip to Mexico. I wanted to cut calories/carbs slowly because I was fearful of losing all of the “muscle gains” I made during that bulking period. I slowly altered my caloric intake every couple weeks in order to continue losing overall body fat. I kept weighing myself and seeing the scale decrease over and over and over. This would never normally be a problem but I backed myself into a corner, I got discouraged because I had just worked so hard to put the weight on. What I didn’t realize is that I began letting the scale define me…. and in turn I began comparing myself to other women on social media who “weigh more than me but look leaner” and I felt discouraged!

It took many weeks, but finally I snapped back to reality and remembered that I am my own person with my own journey, my own progress and my own goals!

Today, I weighed in at 116.5 lbs confidently because I remembered that:

  1. Success can only be measured on an individual level. The only thing I need to worry about is that I’m enjoying my journey, crushing my goals and that I’m better than I was yesterday. No one else’s story compares to mine because we are all different people with different bodies, different experiences, different goals and different results.
  2. I am happy with how far my fitness journey has taken me and all the experience and knowledge I’ve gained throughout this ride. Especially everything I’ve learned throughout my postpartum journey and the newfound admiration for all the mama’s out there crushing their goals!
  3. My journey is far from over. I have a lifetime of dreams and goals to achieve in relation to health and fitness. This is an activity that brings me joy and I won’t allow myself to be overcome or consumed by comparisons of the world.
  4. And more specifically, when I step back and look at the big picture, I can see that I did gain muscle over my bulking phase. Although I almost weigh now what I did when I started my bulk, I can see the bigger picture and I am more muscular and my glutes are fuller than before, which means I successfully accomplished my bulking goal….Operation Grow Those Glutes!! Achieving goals is what this entire lifestyle is about!
  5. And lastly and seemingly least important, I know that I am still in a caloric deficit and am not at a maintenance weight right now. That means that when I am at my normal maintenance level, the scale will reflect those bulking “gains” if I so chose to check periodically.

The overall message I’m trying to convey here….

Life is so much bigger than worrying about the things I see on social media or comparing my fitness accomplishments to anyone else’s.

It’s about being happy, loving, laughing, spending time with family and friends, traveling, eating, playing, dancing, singing, achieving goals, chasing dreams and making memories. There’s so much more reward that comes with making peace with the things that make you an individual, whatever size or shape you may be.

Biceps & Triceps Full Workout

If you are looking for a hardcore arm workout, you’ve come to the right place. I hope you’re fully prepared to take on the task and lift until your arms feel like they will fall off. Good luck, you’re gonna need it!

I’d suggest a warm up before you get started. I typically do a low weight/high rep dynamic warm up, such as 20lb barbell curls for 20 reps. This gets my muscles ready for the work they are about to perform. You could also do the same for tricep extensions.


Tips:

Gather everything you need for your circuits before you begin. Once you’re set up, you will be able to quickly move from one exercise to the other without rest. Complete all 5 bicep exercises consecutively before resting for 60-90 seconds. Then after completing 5 rounds of biceps, set up your next circuit & move on to 5 rounds of triceps.


 

560 Rep Arm Workout

5 Rounds Total

(complete each exercise and immediately move on to the next without resting, only rest once you’ve completed all 5 exercises)

10 Barbell Curls

10 High Cable Curls

10 Barbell Drag Curls

15 Single Arm Cable Curl

10 Dumbbell Hammer Curls

*Rest 60-90 seconds between each round*

5 Rounds Total

(complete each exercise and immediately move on to the next without resting, only rest once you’ve completed all 5 exercises)

15 Underhand Single Arm Tricep Pulldown

10 Bent Over Cable Kickbacks

12 Overhead Dumbbell Extensions

10 Bench Dips

10 Cable Straight Bar Pushdowns

*Rest 60-90 seconds between each round*


This entire workout took me about 55 minutes.

Move quickly and efficiently.

 

 

Chocolate Protein Pancakes

If you’re in the market for a treat that’s packed with protein and low on carbs, you’ve come to the right place! These are going to be a staple in my life whenever I am on a low carb, low calorie diet and I just need the illusion of a delicious stack of pancakes. Read the instructions thoroughly for the best results. Macronutrients for the entire batch, including toppings are listed below!


IMG_7976What You Need:

1/2 cup of chocolate (or vanilla) protein powder (I use Optimum Nutrition)

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup of almond milk


Step 1: Mix protein powder, egg & egg white, baking powder and vanilla in a bowl.

Step 2: Mix in the almond milk slowly, while continuously whisking the mixture.

Step 3: Heat a pan on medium heat. You’ll want to use a small round pan if you want the pancake shape, as the mixture will be very runny.

Step 4: Pour about 1/2 cup of the mixture into the pan and flip once it starts bubbling (after 1-2 minutes).

Step 5: Top with peanut butter, strawberries and a dash of powdered sugar!

Step 6: Snap a picture & tag @a.fitness.project on Instagram

Step 7: Devour!


Macronutrients for the entire batch, including toppings!

Protein: 53g

Carbs: 16g

Fat: 23g

How To Be Successful…In The Gym

So often people start going to the gym expecting all kinds of results just for showing up. Unfortunately, that’s not how any of this works….

YOU HAVE TO HAVE A PLAN! And I’m going to tell you how to create one.

Before we begin, let’s discuss the one desire that so many of us have in common….TONING. Yikes…just hearing (or writing) that word feels like nails on a chalkboard to me. This word gets thrown around too often, often accompanied by “not wanting to get bulky” and “I want to lose fat in my stomach.” But I get it. I used to say I wanted to tone too because it was a commonly used phrase that is associated with a certain leanness right? So of course I wanted to get toned! However, it took awhile before I actually understood what that meant. When you say you want to “tone” you’re actually saying that you want to build muscle and reduce your overall body fat so that everyone can see said muscle. Sorry to tell you ladies, but this will not and cannot be achieved by lifting 2lb dumbbells at high reps, doing one set on every machine in the building while texting or talking on the phone, or spending your days wasting away on the cardio equipment. No, everything must be done tactfully. So put your earbuds in, put your phone away and get ready to WORKout!


Step 1: Create a Split

This means that you will be breaking up your muscle groups into a specific schedule so they can each be worked one time per week. You need to give your muscles time to rest and recover before you break them down again. Start by deciding how many days per week you will dedicate to working out, then assign certain muscle groups per day.

Common examples include:

3 Day Split: Monday-Chest/Triceps, Wednesday-Back/Biceps, Friday-Legs/Shoulders (abs can be worked in on “rest days” or with any of these 3 days)

5 Day Split: Monday-Chest, Tuesday-Back, Wednesday-Biceps & Triceps, Thursday-Legs, Friday-Shoulders

The goal is to do whatever works best for you. Just make it happen.


Step 2: Strength Training

You HAVE to do some form of strength training to build the muscles you want to see. This happens through lifting weights, using machines, doing body weight or band exercises. Better yet, incorporating a mixture of these in your program will allow your muscles to experience different types of resistance. Strength training promotes muscle growth due to mechanical tension, muscle damage and metabolic stress. So don’t be afraid to lift some weight!

*Additional Benefits-Not only are you building muscle, but the more muscle you have, the more FAT you will burn! That is because it takes more energy to move muscle than fat. It’s a win-win!

**Side Note-No, you will not get bulky! Women naturally don’t have the same testosterone levels as men so it would be extremely difficult to achieve a “bulky” look without using some sort of enhancer (steroids). And if you ever did get to a point where you felt like you were looking too muscular or bulky…GREAT NEWS! It’s called bodybuilding for a reason! You get to build your body to look however you want it to! (Also a win-win)


Step 3: Do MINDFUL Cardio

This is another thing that I learned only by reading, researching and taking my classes. Let me preface this by saying, everything is dependent upon your goals, but as a general conversation I am addressing those who are interested in fat loss.

Mindful cardio means manipulating your equipment to help you reach your individual goals. If your goal is to burn fat…why are you running for hours and hours and seeing no results? Because you should be working within your fat burning zone, duh! Your fat burning zone is 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.

How to calculate: 220-Age= Maximum HR. Maximum HR x 60-70%=target fat burning zone! This is a general calculation that can be found anywhere on the internet.

Now that you have your magic numbers, you want to participate in a form of cardio that keeps your heart rate within this range. I prefer the treadmill and hubby prefers the stair master. Or use a combination of different machines to keep things interesting. The biggest take away is that you should be keeping a steady heart rate while doing this exercise. Keep the time to 45 minutes or less of this type of cardio. Depending on my personal goals, I do anywhere from 20-40 minutes.

Another proven effective option for fat loss is HIIT (high intensity interval training). This is not my preference but studies show a great contribution to fat loss. This can be done in many different ways using a jump rope, kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, cardio machines or by simply doing sprints. HIIT uses high intensity intervals followed by short rest intervals in order to burn fat. Interval training is typically done in a shorter amount of time and, due to the affect on the central nervous system, requires more recovery between training sessions.


Step 4: Have a Nutrition Plan

The most important part of being successful in reaching your goals literally boils down to everything you put in your mouth. From which nutrients to eat to nutrient timing to supplementation to drinking water to your goals. It all matters. And you can not out-work a poor diet. So have a plan.

If your goal is to lose weight, you need to eat less calories than you burn. If your goal is to gain weight, you need to eat more calories than you burn. And if your goal is to maintain weight, you have to eat the same amount of calories that you’re burning. So how do you know how many calories you should be eating? You can use online calculators (in which results may vary), you can do research on different equations to understand your intake,  or you can hire a coach who can figure it out for you. In all events, you will have a period of trial and error to figure out your exact daily expenditure but once you find that “sweet spot”, you’re basically golden.

Other alternatives that may not be as effective but are a step in the right direction would involve popular and well known programs/trends/diets. Though these might not get you to your final goal, you may learn something along the way. If you take anything away from this, remember that you MUST have a nutrition plan in order to succeed.


There you have it, the four steps you need to have in order before you step into the gym next time. Utilize the resources you have available to you (me, internet, books, etc) to ensure you are getting the most out of your workouts. If you’re already putting in the time, then why not make it worth it! If you follow all of these four steps I can guarantee that you’re already headed in the right direction. How do I know? Because these are the exact same steps I learned over the course of my journey.

Enjoy!

What are macros? And why I don’t want my daughter to eat mine.

Macronutrients. Macros. Macro tracking. Ever heard these terms before and wondered “What the heck are these people talking about?”

Well, if so, keep reading…

When you think “macro”, think “large” or “big”. Macronutrients are nutrients that we need to consume in large quantities for energy, or calories. There are three main macronutrients: protein, fats and carbohydrates. Each macronutrient has a caloric value per one gram. Protein and carbs each have 4 calories per one gram. Fats have a higher caloric value at 9 calories per one gram.

Here’s a working example using the label on a jar of peanut butter:

Peanut Butter (2 TBSP serving)

Fats: 16g

Carbs: 5g

Protein: 8g

Now, multiply each macronutrient by its respective number of calories. Add the calories together for the total number of calories per 2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter.

Fats: 16g x 9 calories=144 calories

Carbs: 5g x 4 calories=20 calories

Protein: 8g x 4 calories= 32 calories

Total=196 calories per serving!

(That’s a lot of calories for 2 tablespoons of food! Thankfully, peanut butter is loaded with good fats, though they still must be eaten in moderation.)

If you ever finding yourself looking closely at these numbers and calculating them, you may notice that some labels might not have the correct number of calories disclosed. This is a whole other topic of conversation but it is good to note that sometimes the labels do not disclose all of the information and it is important for you, as a consumer, to know how many nutrients you’re really getting in your foods.

The reason why it is so important to understand macronutrients is because each one plays a huge role in body composition, energy levels, and overall health. Over the years, I have become an advocate for counting my macros to produce fitness related results such as: fat loss, weight gain, muscle gain and maintenance. I enjoy and prefer this method because 1. It works! and 2. I am just slightly OCD and the idea of tracking my numbers to perfection each day makes me happy. It’s because of this obsessive compulsive disorder that I hate sharing my food! The struggle becomes very real when my toddler sees I have something different on my plate and she suddenly has no interest in her own food anymore. She becomes very adamant about eating my macros and I’m inclined to share because, well, she’s just so darn cute. Lucky little girl 😉

Over time as a trainer and fitness nutrition specialist, I’ve worked with different clients that have different preferences. I understand that not everyone enjoys the constant and tedious tracking of everything they put in their mouths and that’s okay. Thankfully, I have the ability to accommodate to their individual needs as well. The most important thing to understand is the manipulation of your macronutrient intake will determine your overall results, whatever they may be. It is important to understand the ways in which each macro is utilized within the body and how to eat according to your goals, your body type and to achieve overall health.

A day in the life…

I’ve been asked this question many times in the past year….”What do you do during the day?” It’s not asked with a condescending tone, just mere curiosity. However, when my husband asks (because he really can’t imagine entertaining a child all day everyday) I willingly and jokingly start rattling off my laundry list of daily To Do’s that go hand-in-hand with the ever popular priority of “just keeping the kids alive.”

In a snapshot, the basics of our day go something like this:

-Wake Up: make bed & change diaper

-Breakfast: my breakfast & hers

-Clean Up: clean up baby, highchair, kitchen (do dishes, empty dishwasher, etc)

-Play time/reading/get dressed/change poopy diaper (because this usually happens right after breakfast)

-First Nap: brush teeth, put on a fresh diaper and read a book or two then she naps for 1-2 hours

-I work on business/client needs while she naps

-Snack when she wakes

-Gym: We got to the gym for about an hour

-Lunch & Cleaning

-Play time/reading/house chores

-Second Nap: read a book or two and she goes down for another nap

-Again, I work while she naps

-Snack when she wakes

-Errands/house chores (she plays in whatever room I need to get things done)

-Dinner: prep dinner for family, eat dinner, clean up

-Family Time

-Off to bed (brush teeth, pj’s, clean diaper, read a book)

I love to say this is just the basics because of course there’s so much more. For instance, the simpler things that normally you wouldn’t even consider a “task” are suddenly a goal to conquer: showering, doing your hair and makeup. Then there’s the other things that just have to get done and sadly will take priority over the aforementioned items: bathing the baby, grocery shopping, food prep, laundry, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, miscellaneous shopping, party planning, play dates, yard work, doctors appointments, any and all other appointments, phone calls to make, travel planning, holiday planning and anything and everything else that comes up. More often than not, I don’t stop moving until I lay down in bed at night….and even then my mind doesn’t stop racing (“did I order that thing I needed, did I text that person back, did I put that on my reminders, did I run the dishwasher?”). For those who are not as fortunate as my husband is to receive my elaborate daily schedule of events, I smile and say “we hang out and keep busy.” Let’s be honest, as curious as someone may sound, they don’t care to hear my agenda and my effort to relay it is just one more unnecessary thing you can add to this growing list.

It’s an innocent question asked, but the answers that float around in my head go on and on. It does remind me of how blessed I am to be able to stay home and take care of my daughter, do everything around the house to make life easier for my family and still work on a dream of my own. And no matter what, everyday it makes me feel like superwoman to know that I’ve accomplished so much for my little family.

Wife/Mom/Business Owner

After having our daughter, my husband and I thought it was the best option for me to stay home and take care of her. And now, a year later, I can’t imagine ever doing things differently. I’ve gotten to experience just about every single moment of her life with her and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I didn’t have to miss any of her “firsts” like smiling, rolling over, crawling, talking, walking….you name it, I’ve witnessed it all and it’s been amazing!

I never thought I would be the type that would want to be a stay at home mom because I am the type of person that has to be busy and on the go constantly. However, I have learned that staying home with a baby is not for the faint of heart. Yet amidst all of the diaper changes, feedings, lack of sleep, attempting to eat and shower, house chores, errands, laundry, working out and just general playing with and entertaining the baby I decided it was a great idea to open my own business. This is simply because I am a masochist and enjoy having too much on my plate (lol, just kidding….or am I?).

Honestly, here’s the breakdown….I quit my job to raise my child because I didn’t want someone else doing that for me and there’s no amount of money that would have made it worth leaving my baby everyday. With that being said, it’s clear that I like to work and keep busy and I loved the idea of having something that I can do that I am truly passionate about….fitness & fitness nutrition. I never wanted to feel like I lost my purpose in the mix of becoming a mom (even though being a mom is a wonderful purpose and I don’t discredit that at all), but opening my business gave me that little something extra for myself every single day. It gave me a personal goal, something to look forward to and a way to share my passion with others while still taking care of my family. I needed that.

This whole process of starting a business had been an option in the back of my mind for a long time (I always wanted to work for myself), but I didn’t quit my job with the plan to open a business right away. I thought maybe I could make it happen someday. Well someday came a lot sooner than expected. When Aria was 3 months old, I decided to take an online training course to become a Certified Fitness Trainer. This was mainly because I needed to complete continuing education to renew my Specialist in Fitness Nutrition Certification. About one month after becoming a trainer, I just went for it and started setting up my own business as an Online Personal Trainer.

The past 12 months has been the most rewarding time of my life. I’ve been humbled by everything I’ve experienced from becoming a mother to becoming a business owner. I’ve had wonderful support from my husband every step of the way and I feel beyond blessed that he works so hard so that I can stay home with our daughter because I know that not everyone has that option. His support has allowed me to create a balance of doing something I love while taking care of the people I love and I couldn’t be more thankful. Things don’t always work out the way we think they will, sometimes they work out better than we could have expected.