UGH Come On CANADA!!!

As a resident of capital city of Canada, I appreciate the importance of good government, not only to keep this city filled with jobs, but to ensure that it’s citizens are kept safe. One of the roles of government is to make sure that Canadians make “informed decisions,” and they do this by putting products through a “rigorous inspection process” to make sure that the things we buy are safe for use and consumption. This is excellent, except when the United States sells them, and they are widely used there, yet we cannot order them here.

This happens all the time, and it constantly prevents me from purchasing items I want, or getting good deals on bulk items. We have a 90-day day supply limit, which often prevents me from getting great deals on bodybuilding.com, when they offer two-for-one deals, and that goes over the 90-day limit. Thanks for making me pay double, Canada!

UGH Canada

My favorite experience is when I see things like the image above, NOTICE: Can’t ship to CA. This item, for instance, is the top rated Fat Burner on bodybuilding.com. If the item is this popular, and widely used, why is it deemed unsafe for Canadian consumption? I am all for protecting citizens from harmful drugs and products, but come on. The real reason I am super upset about this particular product is that bodybuilding.com sent me a product sample for it, and I loved it. Then, I went online to find it and realized that Canada prevents me from buying it. Come on, Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford can get crack but I can’t get supplements? For real.

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Starting Your Day Off Right

We hear time and time again about the importance of a morning routine and the effect it has on the rest of the day. Starting your day off with positive habits has the ability to improve your mood, while keeping you motivated. I notice a huge difference in my ability to be productive and successful if I have skipped over breakfast and exercise, opting to rush out the door or laze around and watch TV. Of course, it is easy to make a routine and not stick to it, especially when lack of sleep comes into the mix. The ability to have a strong start to the day really starts at night, and that has always been my issue. I often find myself stressed out about having to get up early and do cardio since it requires energy and motivation, both of which are often difficult to find in the morning, especially in the dead of winter when it is dark and miserable out.

Excuses will always exist, and persistence is the key to a successful morning routine. I suggest starting off with some easy to manage tasks, and repeating them every day until they become habitual. Getting up early and completing my morning cardio not only gives me pride, but also gives me a necessary energy boost. I have heard conflicting arguments when it comes to morning cardio, whether it is fasted or completed after breakfast. I have done it both ways, and I am no closer to the answer as to which one is better for you.

Right now, I am sticking to fasted cardio because I am taking fat burners, which need to be taken on an empty stomach (with water) 30 minutes before breakfast. This is a perfect opportunity to fit in my morning cardio without having to wake up half an hour earlier just to take the pill before breakfast, followed by cardio. The cardio I do in the morning is low intensity, another well debated topic. After completing Kris Gethin’s 12 week transformation plan, I came to agree with him that cardio that raises your heart rate, but is not intense enough to surpass the fat burning zone, is perfect for bodybuilding. Intense cardio burns off that hard earned muscle I have worked so hard to build, and that is not what I am going for at all.

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My Routine:

I start my morning off with a huge glass of water, and a fat burner (Ripped Freak). I fill my 1L bottle with 1 scoop of xtend and water, and get on the treadmill for 20 minutes. Right now, I am using an incline of 4 and a speed of 4.2 mph. This is perfect for raising heart rate, but keeping it steady and low enough to burn fat and keep muscle. Over time, I will raise the number of minutes I do cardio in the morning. My last 12 week program began with 20 minutes and increased to 30 minutes. I will be doing the same thing again, raising my time by 5 minutes every 4-5 weeks.

Once I complete my cardio, I make a breakfast that is high in protein. I require 30g of protein in each meal (6 meals a day). I like to switch up my breakfasts to keep it interesting, this way I don’t get bored and want to snack before my next meal. I choose a breakfast option, prepare it, and take it with my vitamins and supplements (OptiWomen, Vitamin D, Calcium Magnesium, Creatine). Simple, but effective.

Breakfast Ideas:

1 cup egg whites, 1 piece toast, no sugar added jam

Oatmeal and protein powder (mixed)

Breakfast Shake (recipe and image below)

Protein Pancakes- made with egg whites, oats and protein powder

P28 bread and no sugar added jam

Turkey Bacon Slices (4-5) and Toast

photo 2

On mornings where I am rushed for time, I love making protein shakes in my Magic Bullet. These are great because they can be taken to go, and require less prep and clean up than eggs!

Magic Bullet Morning Shake

1 cup water

1 cup berries (I used blueberries)

1/4 to 1/3 cup oats

1 scoop protein powder (I used Chocolate Coconut)

1 tbsp splenda (optional)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Ice Cubes

A breakfast that is high in protein and contains good, clean carbs will keep you alert and well fueled in the morning. I eat every three hours, and I require a good breakfast to keep my mind off snacking between meals. This is especially a problem working in a building with a cafeteria and vending machine close by, offering an assortment of unhealthy options. Having a routine definitely helps in the struggle to keep away from these tempting items. I also find that when I drink enough water and take morning vitamins and supplements that I do not have as many cravings.

Who doesn’t love a giant bottle of water with Xtend?

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Cheers to the morning!

The Fluctuation Story

Fluctuation Collage

My issue has never been that I have to force myself to go to the gym. I don’t hate every second I spend there, I don’t dread going. In fact, I actually enjoy it. It is thrilling to me to lift more this week than I did last week. I love seeing the changes that happen in my body. I even love supplementation, trying new products, and waiting for my Bodybuilding.com order to arrive. My issue is not the fact that to be fit, I need to be active. My issue is that I cannot stay consistent. I fluctuate, over and over. I don’t just go up by a few pounds, I don’t drop 5 pounds a week either. I go up and down by 10-15 pounds over the course of a few months. I do it so quickly, that it escapes me that it is even happening. For me, it is all diet. I love to eat, and that is great, but I can’t just have a cheat meal here and there, it has to be every day, all the time. My life is run on cravings, which is extremely unhealthy. 

When I was in high school, I was on the swim team. I was so active, that I could eat whatever I wanted and never notice it. I’d go to grocery stores in the middle of the night, buy a cheesecake, peel back the metal base, and just eat the whole thing like that. Not an inch was gained. McDonald’s was my best friend. No longer. Of course, that comes with age as well. When I went to University, the meal plan killed me like it does every Freshman, but instead of gaining 15 pounds, I gained 34. One day, I woke up and weighed 142 pounds. I didn’t even notice it. I just went to put on a pair of jeans I used to wear, and they wouldn’t go half way up my thighs. Well that was that, right? Changes had to be made? Nope. I have NEVER dropped all of that weight. I have gotten close, but no cigar. People tell me that I can’t possibly weigh the same as I did when I was 17, and that it is unrealistic, but to be a bikini fitness competitor, I best be in better shape than that 17 year old cheese-cake consuming girl. I would hope.

Either way, I went on a journey to drop those pounds, and I have dropped and gained over and over for the last 6 years. It was easy to keep it off in high school. The Catholic School uniform helped for sure. I knew I was getting fat as soon as it became difficult to close my pants. So I would just notice that they were getting snug, and I’d cut back on the crap foods. In the real world, filled with sun dresses and yoga pants, it is harder to track those small gains, leading to bigger gains.

I have never hit 140 again since 2008, just like I have never been below 110. I tend to go between 115-130. I do this over and over again. This is my fluctuation game. For fun, I made a collage of these gains. The first two images are the most serious, since that was my 34 pound jump. After that, I stuck to gaining and dropping 10-15 pounds. The only time this loss was done properly was when I did the Kris Gethin transformation program, which is displayed between the last three images. The first, was March 2013. I started the program in April, and finished at the end of June (the image in the park). Then, I went downhill and ended up back at the last image, today’s image, which has brought on this change.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not constantly obsessing over my weight, but I would really like to make a solid change and live a healthy lifestyle. It can’t be healthy to gain and lose weight over and over again. This pattern will stick with me for life if I don’t break it soon. My father is in the same position, having lost “thousands of pounds” over the course of his life, because we tend to like to over indulge, and then follow that up by obsessive fitness binges. Instead of ending up desperate for change, I want to find a lifestyle I can stick with. I want to stop the fluctuation, and really focus on growing as a person beyond my waistline.