Fitness New Mexico Win and Pro-Card Status!

Three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to compete in the Fitness New Mexico Pageant in Albuquerque…and what an amazing weekend it was!  I ended up taking 1st place in Fitness and earned my ProCard!  The show is put on by the amazing Cristin Kiburz as part of the Fitness Universe Tour.

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This show was by far one of the most organized, laid back and fun shows that I have done! The whole weekend ran so smoothly, which helped keep the stress levels low. If you aren’t familiar with the competition circuit, check out my post from last month about the world of competing!  I wanted to give you guys a behind-the-scenes look at the trip and what it was like in the final hours before we stepped on stage!

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I arrived at the airport Friday afternoon, with my carry-on suitcase full of swim suits, costumes, clear heels, gaudy jewelry, make-up and tanner…and a cooler packed full of chicken, asparagus and yams!  (Chicken and asparagus every 2.5 hours leading up to the show…yams and chicken every 2.5 hours starting Friday night through Saturday to fill my depleted muscles!)  At this point in the game, my water intake had been cut to about 24 oz and was going to be cut in half again Saturday until after the show.  I had met up with my Pittsburgh friends Lori and Krystle at the airport in Dallas during a layover. We rode through the desert to the Route 66 Casino Hotel where the show was hosted…this ride really drove home how different New Mexico is from New York City!


New Mexico Desert

Once we arrived at the Hotel/Casino Friday afternoon, we headed over to registration, which is really the first time all the competitors are in the same area…and there were a lot of them across all of the different divisions!! (Fitness, Figure, Bikini, Muscle Mania and Model)  Aside from meeting (and sizing up) the competition, registration is also great because we usually get free samples and fitness gear from the show sponsors…this show actually included one of my own sponsors, Nutrishop!



After registration, the Fitness girls got to check out the stage and mark through our routines.  It’s definitely helpful when we get to observe the elements before a performance.  This floor was cement, so I’m glad I got to try a few passes before going live!

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Fitness Stage

Then it was off to shower and apply tanner! The tanning process is somewhat messy and can be long and involved….and usually requires some help!!  I think I pretty much have it down to a science now when it comes to avoiding looking too much like an Oompa Loompa! Two layers of Jantana and two layers of dream tan and I’m good to go! The tanner is so messy, the hotel actually requires competitors to bring their own sheets!  After the coats had dried, it was off to bed!

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Lori’s tanned feet!

Saturday morning came early with a competitor meeting at 7am! Lucky for us, Fitness didn’t have to compete in prelims, so we had the rest of the day to primp…hair, makeup, nails etc!

Once the show started at 5, it was a whirlwind!  We started the fitness division with the routine round, which involves a theme, music, and a costume.   I chose hunger games and channeled my inner Katniss!

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May the odds be ever in your favor!

One of the challenging things about fitness (aside from the tricks & skills,) is the quick change into a swimsuit and the transformation of our hair into a glamorous “down-do”.  After this was all done, it was onto the swimsuit round and the infamous bikini walk!

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The show was streaming live on webcast, so my whole family watched and cheered me on from PA and NY! I’m so lucky to have such a solid support system!


PA family on top, NY on the bottom

Once all competitors had finished, it was onto comparisons and awards.  The judges like to see the competition side by side one last time before handing out the awards.   I was so surprised when I ended up getting 1st place and my Fitness Pro-Card! There were so many great competitors and with only one month to prepare, I was hoping to just go out there and do the best that I could!  All of that hard work during the month of May really paid off!

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Getting my Pro-Card means that I can only compete in certain Fitness America Professional shows against the other top girls out there!  The next professional and amateur show is actually this weekend…if you are interested in seeing what it’s all about, you can stream live via webcast all weekend from the Fitness Universe site! I won’t be competing in this show, but I’m considering one in September in A.C. The “SuperBody” is a Professional show but also has the amateur division as well and is a Pro-qualifier.  Anyone else interested? More to come on this one later!


And finally, what would a competition be without a cheat meal!  I’m not usually one to promote un-clean food on a fitness/health blog, but so many people have been asking what my post-show meal was! So if your are against cheat meal pictures…look away!  I always seem to go for the chicken quesadilla and some chocolate post show!


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Big thanks to Cristin and the Fitness America crew for such a great weekend!  Good luck to all of the competitors this weekend down in Miami!

You’ve seen a few pics from the weekend, but for more pictures of the show, check out our Facebook page!



I Work Out Because __________ .

Why do you exercise?

Is it because you feel like you have to or because you actually enjoy it? Do you have goals? What are they? Aesthetic goals? Health goals? Performance goals?

The reason I ask, other than my general nosiness curiosity, is because the reasons that you choose to exercise can play a huge role in whether or not you stick with it in the long run, and ultimately, it can either prevent you from or enable you to reach your goals.

I’ll start by describing the two types of motivation that continue to drive people to the gym, track, box, studio, garage, or wherever their exercise venue of choice may be.

Motivation Hierarchy

The first is extrinsic motivation. This type of motivation is all about external goals and can include rewards, guilt, coercion and health and social benefits. It is doing things because we feel like we have to in order to achieve some sort of physical or social benefit.

Most people (including myself) begin to exercise because of extrinsic motivation – you want to lose weight for the summer, fit into your jeans, become more attractive, be thin, get abs. Your doctor may have told you that you needed to start exercising for the sake of your health. You may like the fact that exercising allows you to eat more of what you want and not feel guilty. Maybe there’s a cute guy or girl at the gym that you enjoy staring at and hope to have the courage to talk to one day. The list goes on.

You may be thinking, ok, at least I’m getting my butt to the gym. Why does the motivation part matter?

motivation t-rex

Unfortunately, extrinsic motivation does not always persist in the long-run. It may get you to the gym, for a bit, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing anything worthwhile during your time there and you may not see the results you want. Or maybe you did get results, but then the summer comes to an end, and somehow your schedule is suddenly too busy to make it to the gym anymore. The fact of the matter is that you’re much more likely to stay motivated and reach your goals if you truly love what you’re doing.

Enter: intrinsic motivation. This type of motivation is based on internal goals. It is the desire to do things because we want to, not because we feel we have to. We exercise because we truly love and enjoy it. Intrinsic motivation is usually tied to a performance goal, like mastering a skill or sport.

But how do you find it? Well, you need to find some form of exercise you actually want to do. A skill or sport that you want to master. You may not know what it is right now, but try a few things out. Work with a trainer. Try out a Crossfit box. Sign up for a Spartan Race or a half marathon or anything that requires you to train for it.

Trust me, I didn’t hop out of bed one day thinking, I want to lift heavy weights! And do double unders and handstand pushups and pull-ups and…no. I just wanted to look good and after doing a ton of cardio and not seeing any sort of change in my body, I was fortunate enough to start working with a trainer who changed my entire outlook on things by making fitness fun and literally introducing me to a whole new world. And that’s when I knew there was no turning back. I was hooked.

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For the first time, a new level of intensity was brought to my workouts, and soon I wasn’t able to settle for anything less. I became motivated to work harder on my own. I wanted to learn new skills and to get stronger because I finally had goals. And those goals were not tied to a number on the scale or a pant size. They were performance goals. And I reached those goals. And I set new ones. And the more I continue to learn about this whole world of fitness and all of the different things I have to learn, the more excited I get to step into the gym each day.


Why do you think people are so obsessed with Crossfit? Think about it, there are always new skills to learn. New PRs (personal records) to hit. And once you hit those, you set new goals for yourself, and you go after those. You focus on your performance. And guess what? Combined with a little healthy eating, your body changes and you forget about the scale. You’re focused on your goals and one day you look in the mirror and think, “holy crap, where did these muscles come from?!”


Ok, that was a little bit of an exaggeration. Apologies for the shameless selfie.

But really, I encourage you to find what you love. It might take some exploring, but you’ll never know until you try. I can’t tell you how many people think they could never be into fitness until they’re introduced to it in the right setting and with the right attitude, and then they couldn’t get enough. I’ve been fortunate enough to have someone in my life that has made it fun for me and been a key factor in finding my intrinsic motivation. And there are people, or activities, out there that could do the same for you. You just have to go out there and find them. That’s the first step. The hardest and scariest step. The rest is easy 😉

The Skinny on Post-WOD Eats and the Truth about Protein Powders

I’ve found that there is a lot of confusion around protein powder and its role in fitness and nutrition, especially among women. Many think of protein powder as something only used by body builders and those who want to bulk up. Others might not necessarily be opposed, but have no idea what kind to buy or when to use it. I started drinking whey protein shakes post-workout about 6 months ago, and let me tell you, it has certainly made a difference for me both in recovery time as well as fat loss.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I want to start with a brief discussion on the role of nutrition and its timing in exercise recovery. As we all know, it’s very important to fuel your body post-workout, whether you’re participating in endurance or weight training activities. After we exercise, our bodies go into a catabolic – or “breakdown” – state. The glycogen stores in our muscles are depleted and muscle fibers are broken down. The meal that we eat immediately after exercising can play a large role in restoring energy, repairing muscles, shortening recovery times and even changing body composition.

However, the quality and timing of your post-workout meal is very important.

The Metabolic Window

It has been shown that in order to achieve maximum benefits from exercise, a meal should be eaten no longer than 30-45 minutes after exercise. For those who exercise several times a week, this is especially important for recovery, as it can result in a 4-10 hour recovery period, as opposed to 24-36 hours.

The Optimal Combination

So now that you know when you should eat, you may be wondering what you should eat. While this depends on the type of exercise that you’re doing, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume a mixture of cardio and weight training.

It is important to consume carbohydrates post-exercise, as they play a key role in restoring glycogen in the muscles. However, combining protein with carbs post-exercise boosts glycogen synthesis more than consuming carbs alone and helps to further promote muscle repair. Studies have shown that 0.25-0.5g of protein per pound of lean body mass post-exercise is sufficient. But keep in mind that this varies by person based on their goals and specific nutrition needs.

As a general rule of thumb, the ideal carbohydrate to protein ratio of a post workout meal is 2:1. Here’s a nice little calculator that can help you get an idea of what that translates to (scroll to the bottom).

So any type of carb is ok, right?



Fast-acting carbs such as fruits are great immediately after a workout because they restore glycogen levels immediately, which aids in recovery. Slow-acting carbs such as sweet potatoes and steel cut oats restore glycogen levels at a slower, steadier rate. A combination of the two is optimal, but not always achievable when trying to stay within the metabolic window. I usually eat a banana immediately after I workout to get something into my body, and then about an hour or so later, I’ll have part of a sweet potato.

Ok, so where does protein powder enter the picture?

If you’re like me and you workout in the morning before heading straight to work (after a shower, I hope), it’s easy for an hour or even two to go by between finishing your workout and actually eating a meal. This is obviously way outside the metabolic window. Protein drinks and shakes are a great way to immediately get some protein into your body post-workout so that you don’t miss the window.  They tend to be low in fat and calories and are easy to make and transport. You just throw a scoop or two of protein powder into your handy dandy blender bottle and add water. I usually eat a banana at the same time, or throw everything together in a blender to make a banana protein shake, which satisfies my carb:protein requirements.

Not all protein is created equal.

So what kind of protein should you buy? With all of the different products on the market, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed when walking into your local Vitamin Shoppe. I found this guide from Muffin Topless on buying protein powders to be very useful. Generally, you’ll want to look at the ingredient list and find one that does not contain excess sugar or harmful chemicals. You’ll also want to watch out for cheap filler ingredients, which may detract from the amount of protein you’re actually getting with each serving.

The most common types of protein include whey, casein and soy. I prefer whey, as it contains a higher level of amino acids and is digested and absorbed more rapidly, producing a higher rate of muscle protein synthesis at rest and after exercise.

Personally, I looooooooooove Protizyme Peanut Butter Cookie. Even mixed with water, it still tastes incredible. Blended with a banana and almond milk, you have yourself a peanut butter shake!


Whey is derived from milk, so if you’re lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, soy protein is another option, although I’m not familiar enough on the topic to speak to it. There are also other sources such as pea and rice protein.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the stigma of protein powders, especially for you ladies out there! No need to be intimidated by protein shakes. Drink up!

Now I’m off to the gym for an ass-kicking followed by my own protein shake…

As always, comment if you have any questions!