On To The Next One! Looking forward to a great New Year after an incredible 2013

I can’t believe we are only days away from New Years Eve and the start of a brand new year! It’s been way too long since my last post, so I thought that I’d share a brief recap of what I’ve been up to this past year!  A new year filled with infinite possibilities always gets me thinking about what I hope to accomplish in the future, so I’ve also decided to share my goals for 2014!

My 2013 Year in Review

I started the year off with a bang and had 2 amazing trips with the NBA just before we started this blog.  I was lucky enough to travel to London in January to cheer for the Knicks vs. Pistons Game during the London Live series. Then in February, I traveled to Julia’s hood, Houston, Texas for the NBA All Star Games!

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In March, Julia and I decided to partner on a Health & Fitness venture to inspire & motivate and help people find their inner athlete…thus, average2athlete was born! We’ve had such an amazing time making videos & posts, trying & sharing new recipes, developing our page & our voice and mostly interacting with so many awesome people via instagram, facebook & the blog!  If you are reading this now, Thanks for following!!  Our first event after a2a was born was the CMC Intrepid event in April.  If you haven’t done so yet, check out our recap!

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In May, we started our first a2aChallenge….a modified 25 day Whole30 Challenge. (Side note: We are starting another Paleo Challenge January 2nd if you’d like to join!)  At the time, I had no idea that this challenge would double as the start of my competition diet!  In June, after about 4 weeks of prep, I competed in the Fitness America New Mexico pageant, where I ended up winning the Fitness division and earning my Pro Card!

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The month of June ended up even better than it started!  Not only did I run my first ever 5k race with the Clean Water for Haiti Organization, but my sister was married June 22, and I celebrated my one year wedding anniversary all in the same week!

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Moving onto July, every year my family friends and neighbors volunteer for an adaptive water ski clinic with Three Rivers Adaptive Sports.  This is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  There are so many incredible athletes that come out to ski….it’s so inspiring and a good reminder of the important things in life!

"If I can do this, I can do anything."

“If I can do this, I can do anything.”

The remainder of the summer held a Wedding in Vegas, being crowned the 2013 Equinox Burpee Champion, a Tough Mudder, an abbreviated neighborhood triathlon – named “Mini-Thon”  and another CMC event with some of my favorite fitness friends!!

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The Fall was almost as jam packed as the Summer!  It started it off with a Bachelorette Party in Nashville, complete with a Bull Ride and Line Dancing! I also went hiking for the first time in upstate New York at Mohonk and I can’t wait to go again!

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In October, I was given the opportunity to go on another amazing trip around the World with the NBA for the Global Games Pre-season circuit.  We got to travel and perform with the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers & Philadelphia 76ers in Spain, Philippines & Taiwan!

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As the fall wrapped up and winter officially started, I had one more Wedding, a great Thanksgiving with my family, the most unbelievable surprise 30th Birthday Party EVER and an amazing Christmas week!

That’s a tough year to beat, but I’ve been taking some time to think about how I can grow in the new year.  While I don’t love the idea of a “News Years resolution” that can quickly be abandoned, I do like the idea of a fresh start…a time to set some new goals.  I wanted to share my goals for the year so you can help keep me accountable!

2014 Goals

Fitness

1.) Be more active on the blog & write more frequently!  Stay tuned for more frequent posts in 2014!  And let us know what you want to hear about by sending us an email average2athlete@gmail.com

2.) Be more consistent with my nutrition.  I do so well when I have a short term goal ahead of me, but its not always easy in between to stay away from the sweets! I am hoping that the Paleo challenge that I mentioned above will help start the year off right!

3.) Try new things!  Specifically, in the next 12 months, I want to do Crossfit, Soul Cycle, Yoga, Olympic lifting & go Rock climbing.

4.) Program for myself and stick to it.

5.) Improve skills – Pull-ups, Pistols, HSPU, Muscle ups & Double-unders.

Career

1.) Group Fitness – Get certified & start teaching classes.

2.) Further my education with additional workshops & certifications – Crossfit, KB, Animal Flow, TRX, FMS.

3.) Build Private Training Business – Expand private client base in NYC as well as virtually.  (Send us an email for more info!)

Financial – SAVE MORE…..Duh! 🙂

Spiritual/Social – So these are a little more “Big Picture” & more of a guideline or a vision than actual goals, but I think they are a good reminder of how I want to live my life.  So I am going to print these out along with my goals to hang on my wall so I am reminded everyday!   (P.S. I’m a sucker for quotes, and a lot of these go along with my favorites!)

1.) Be present, Live in the moment.  Don’t stress about the future and forget about the past.

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done.  One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

2.) Don’t set limits.

“The only limitations we have are the one’s we set for ourselves.”

3.) Remember what’s important. Find the good in people and take each relationship for what it is.

“Be Kind; Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

4.) Don’t speak poorly of other people and don’t judge them.

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

5.) Enjoy a little downtime & appreciate each days accomplishments.

Let go of the need to do more and be more; for today, you’ve done the best you can, and that’s enough.”

6.) Stay positive. Volunteer. Make a difference.

That about wraps it up!  If you made it this far, thanks for reading!!  We would LOVE to hear about you goals, so send them our way!

Happy & Healthy New Years to you & yours!

Best,

Kayte

Excuses…we all got ’em.

Hi friends, Julia here.

Sorry it’s been so long. We really are going to try and get better at posting, I promise. It’s just that blogging takes a while and sometimes life just gets in the way. Between jobs, and second jobs, and training, and cooking, and trying to find time to be social so that you don’t become a crazy cat lady (not that I own a cat, but I could), it can be hard to find time to sit down and write a blog post. And before you know it, three months have gone by and you realize you haven’t posted and you feel like a slacker and you’re letting the world down because obviously everyone is holding their breath waiting to see what average2athete has to say next. Right?

I can’t help but think this series of excuses sounds familiar. How often do people tell me that they want to start working out but they don’t have time? Or that they’re going to start once work gets less crazy, or once they finish exams, or once they’re done moving? The list goes on. My point is, there will ALWAYS be something in the way, but if something is important to you, then you will make time for it. And if it’s not important, then you won’t. It’s an adjustment, sure. But if you really want to get healthy, you HAVE to make time. There’s just no other way around it.

I’ll give you a personal example. A few months ago, I started teaching fitness classes at a studio called the Fhitting Room here in NYC. I absolutely love it. Not only has it given me a chance to share my passion for fitness with others, but it’s given me the opportunity to meet and learn from some pretty awesome people.

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And some creepsters too 🙂

However, as much as I love teaching, taking on a second job did interrupt my perfectly regimented schedule of getting up and working out first thing in the morning. Since I primarily teach early morning classes, I started having to find time to work out at night after work, and then I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, and I’d be exhausted the next day after having to get up early to teach class. My workouts started to suffer, which was no bueno. I needed to figure something out.

I knew that my schedule wasn’t going to get any better, so I had to make some adjustments. I started getting up even earlier in the morning so that I could work out before teaching. Or, if I was teaching a really early class, I’d plan a shorter workout that I could squeeze it in after before heading off to work. Sometimes I still brave the gym at night. It’s not a perfect schedule, but I make it work the best I can.

That’s probably more insight into my schedule than you could possibly have wanted. My point is, we are busy people. Life happens. There are always excuses. I’m even going to provide you with an overused inspirational quote to emphasize my point.

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End of story.

And I’m going to try and take some of my own advice and make it a priority to blog more often. And if I don’t, feel free to call me out on it.

As always, I’ll leave you with a recipe so that you can take away something of value from this post. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m going to be lazy and give you a link to a delicious recipe for Sausage Spaghetti Squash Bake from PaleOMG that I made the other week. I modified and used chicken sausage, but you could use any meat really. Or scrap the meat and make it vegetarian. The best part was, it was super easy to make and still delicious after a few days. Meal prep win.

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Wonder Thighs and Bulging Bi’s (and banana muffins)

Howdy folks. Long time no chat. I’m sure y’all were sitting on the edge of your seats for the past 6 weeks, wondering, “OMGEEEEE WHEN IS AVERAGE2ATHLETE GOING TO WRITE ANOTHER BLOG POST?!?!?!” Well, not to worry because here it is!

It’s actually been a crazy month for me. A few weeks ago, I started as an Assistant Instructor at a place called The Fhitting Room, a boutique studio here in NYC that offers small group circuit training classes – think TRX, kettlebells, dumbbells, rowers, bodyweight exercises and burpees , lots of burpees.

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I’ll go into the studio itself and all of the awesome people there in more detail in a later post, but basically I’m teaching anywhere from 5-10 classes/week – on top of my current job – before work, after work, on the weekends, you name it. I actually wasn’t sure how I would feel about teaching classes, but it turns out that I ABSOLUTELY love it. It’s exhausting, yes. You have to be completely on ALL THE TIME. Especially in such a small studio (classes are 12 people max), clients pick up on every little thing you do.

He changed the music too much, she looked out the window one time, he let the clock run for 50 seconds instead of 45. Woof.

I’m still trying to get the hang of my schedule – balancing 9+ hour days at work, teaching classes and finding time to fit in my own workouts. But when I’m in that room and class starts, that hour flies by and I somehow muster up every last drop of energy I have to scream and jump around. Plus I’m getting to work with some amazing instructors that I’m learning so much from already. It really is a blast. For anyone in the NYC area, I’ll be posting my class schedule here on a weekly basis in case you want to drop for some fun.

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It’s fun to torture train people other than myself.

Long story short, life has been busy. In a good way.

Ok, this is where this post is going to get a little random…this is what happens when I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about body image, and why we have it so engrained in our heads that we have to be so damn THIN. I know the whole mindset now is supposed to be, “strong is the new skinny,” but I still don’t think that the majority of thinking has shifted. And even if it has, when people say “strong” are they really thinking about the amount they can squat? Or are they really thinking “toned,” in which case, the issue is still about body image.

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Pretty sure there’s some airbrushing going on in this picture.

I get caught up in it myself. I preach about focusing on performance goals instead of weight or pant size, but at the same time, I have days where I hate my body, feel like my arms and legs are huge (even if they are muscle) and wish that I could fit into skinny jeans better. I look at pictures and feel like my arms look so much bigger than everyone else’s. I beg my legs to get more definition, my hips to get smaller, my abs to show more.

So what do I do when that happens? Do I hop on the treadmill or the elliptical for hours, trying to burn fat and consequentially burn off the muscle that I worked so hard to gain? Do I drastically cut calories in an effort to lose weight and inevitably screw up my metabolism?

The old me may have done that. But not now. No way. I take a step back, give myself a little slap in the face and tell myself to STOP ACTING LIKE A CRAZY PERSON! I remind myself why I train and why I love it. It’s not to see my legs get smaller or the number on the scale drop. It’s to squat heavier, to do more pull-ups, to jump higher, to run faster. Because those are the things that ultimately make me happy and have and will continue to make me a stronger, more confident person. What is not going to make me happy is trying to fit someone else’s unrealistic standards.

This post from Elisabeth Akinwale sums it up perfectly. She also references the book Bossy Pants, in which Tina Fey spouts out a list of attributes that every girl is supposed to have:

Caucasian blue eyes
Full Spanish lips
A classic button nose
Hairless Asian skin with a California tan
A Jamaican dance hall ass
Long Swedish legs
Small Japanese feet
The abs of a lesbian gym owner
The hips of a nine year old boy
The arms of Michelle Obama
And doll tits

We totally have all those things, right?!

Point is, no more trying to achieve and maintain a body type that is not meant for me. So my legs aren’t as long and lean as I’d like them to be, so what? They’ve gotten me through some tough ass workouts and races and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to show my “wonder thighs” some love! And as for my arms? Well I’ll take the ability to bang out pull-ups and push-ups with the big boys over skinny arms any day!

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We all have those days where we look in the mirror and just don’t like what we see. It happens to everyone. So take a deep breathe and don’t get too caught up in the whole being skinny thing. There are bigger and better things to focus on that will make you a heck of a lot happier.

On that note, I’m going to leave you with a recipe so that you at least walk away feeling like you’ve gotten some useful information out of this post. I made these muffins a couple of weeks ago, thinking they would be a great on-the-go snack for when I need a quick energy fix in between work and teaching class. Well, I forget that when I post baked goods on Instagram, people ask to try them and I have a hard time saying no and the 12 muffins that I made were gone in a day. Needless to say, I’ll be making these again soon…and I will not be posting pictures!

Grain-free Banana Protein Muffins

Makes 12

2 (very) ripe medium bananas
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I used Oxy-elite Vanilla Icecream)
1 tbsp chia seeds
4 eggs
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (2%)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Cinnamon/vanilla to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix wet ingredients in blender. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl and pour in wet mixture.

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Spray muffin tin with coconut oil and pour batter into tin.

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Lick bowl.

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Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. I would remove these from the muffin pan before they cool all the way because otherwise they’ll continue baking in the pan and can get dried out.

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Note: Amazing when slathered in almond butter.

Enjoy!


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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!

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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!

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Registration

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!

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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!

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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!

-Kayte

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?

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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.

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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?!”

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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?

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Wrong.

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!

Protizyme

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!

Julia

The Home Stretch – Tips for AFTER the a2a Challenge

If you have been doing the 25 Day a2a challenge with us, we are in the home stretch!  Only 2 more days left! This challenge means different things to everyone and no matter what your reasons were for starting the challenge, we are glad you joined us! So now, what’s next?  Well, we have some tips and suggestions for AFTER the challenge. Hopefully these will help you continue on the healthy path you have been on these past few weeks!

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1.) Evaluate how you feel and Recognize how far you have come.  Take notes about any changes that you’ve noticed with your weight, body comp, energy levels or allergies/irritation from food.  You may find that you love this way of eating!

2.) Don’t jump back into your old eating habits all at once – If you decide to add back dairy, grains, processed sugars etc, don’t add it back all at once.  Try adding one thing at a time and evaluate how you feel.  You may find that dairy or processed sugar really makes you feel crummy!  But if you add it all back at the same time, you won’t be able to identify what it is that makes you feel that way.

This goes for alcohol too!  With the Holiday weekend approaching, it’s important to remember that you haven’t been drinking for almost a month!  Definitely enjoy yourself, but take it easy…moderation is key!  Don’t let one Holiday weekend sabotage all of your hard work!

3.) Avoid the “because I can” mentality – To Piggy back off the last tip, try to avoid eating something just because you haven’t had it for 25 days.  If it’s something you have been craving the whole time, then go ahead and allow yourself a meal or 2 to indulge…but DON’T have it just for the sake of having it.  Before you splurge, evaluate and make sure its something you really want!

We have noticed that it’s become much easier to stay away from some of our old favorite cheats…the cravings have pretty much disappeared!  Before you allow yourself to return to an old unhealthy favorite, take a minute to think back about how much harder it was in the beginning of the challenge to eliminate these foods.  Now that your body has changed and craves healthier foods, do you really want to return to your pre-challenge habits?

4.) Make a plan – We have said it before and we will say it again, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!”  This applies to how and when you will reintroduce food, how you want to eat going forward and when/if you will have your cheat meals! If you have a plan for all of these things, you will be less likely to slide down that slippery slope.

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5.) Set Goals for the long-term and short term – Having something to work towards, even small goals, will help to keep you on track! Write them down and keep them somewhere you will see every day!

6.) Maintain the Support of family and friends – Make sure they know that this new way of eating is important to you.  Who knows, it might even rub off on them!

We hope that you have noticed some great changes over the past few weeks! We love how this challenge has made us feel and plan to continue with the idea of eating Paleo 80% of the time and non-paleo 20% of the time.  If you decide to adopt this idea, figure out how many meals/days a week that is for you and plan ahead! The occasional cheat meal can be an important part to staying on track and keeping your sanity, but there are a few things to keep in mind!

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Keep us posted on your progress this week!  If you took before and after pics, send them our way!  Let us know your weight loss, body fat % loss or just improvements in how you are feeling!  If you have a blog or want to share your story, send us the post or entry and we may feature it here!  Leave a comment, shoot us an email or just tag us on instagram @average2athlete.

If you haven’t seen on Facebook or Instagram, we are doing a giveaway this week for the best challenge recipe.  Share your favorite a2achallenge recipe on your social media page before Thursday at noon and tag us @average2athlete, the challenge #a2achallenge, and the giveaway #a2agiveaway for your chance to win! (More details on out Facebook & Instagram.)

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-Kayte & Julia

Let’s get personal. Then eat some meatloaf.

The other day someone asked me, How long did it take you to get into the shape you’re in now?

Well, I wasn’t really sure how to answer that. I guess I had never really thought about it that way. For me, getting “in shape” is a continuous journey with no clear end in sight. I can always be faster, get stronger, jump higher. But I know this hasn’t always been my way of thinking. I’ve gone through several different mindsets when it comes to fitness. And several ups and downs.

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So how did I get to where I am today? When did working out stop becoming a chore and start becoming something I look forward to each day? Well, to answer that,  I’m going to tell you a little story about a few key influencers that have shaped me (pun intended) into the person that I am today.

Apologies in advance for such a lengthy post…

Influencer #1: The Gymnast

I honestly don’t even remember how I got into gymnastics. I always just assumed that cartwheeling and flipping and jumping around was just something that every little kid did. And I was obsessed with Mary Lou Retton. I wrote every report on her in elementary school. Dressed up like her on “Famous Person’s Day.” I wanted to train with Béla Károlyi one day. You get the picture…

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Every day after school, I would put on my leotard and be carted off to the gym for practice, which consisted of about 3 hours of stretching, skill work and conditioning. Then on Saturday morning I was back in the gym for more practice. When I went on vacation, I was given conditioning lists so that I could stay in shape while I was gone, which I obviously hated. Ironically, those lists look very similar to the types of workouts I do today – push-ups, jumps, squats, lunges, handstand push-ups, sit-ups, planks.

Needless to say, by the time I got to middle school, I was pretty burnt out and decided it was time to throw in the towel. I obviously wasn’t going to make it to the Olympics, and I wanted whatever social life I was missing out on as a 12 year old. Had I known what was about to happen to my body, I may have reconsidered that decision. The year that I quit, I grew four inches and gained at least 25 pounds. For the first time in my life, I hated my body. I felt short, stalky and chubby, and I didn’t know what to do about it.

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8th Grade Cheerleading

I wish I had better pictures from these days but unfortunately they are all stuffed away in boxes in Houston. Next time I’m home, I will dig them up and post a few, I promise…

Influencer #2: The Rugby Player

Luckily, I was still playing sports – volleyball, soccer and cheerleading – so I eventually adjusted to my new body. However, after quitting organized sports for good my sophomore year of high school, I noticed myself gaining some weight and joined a gym for the first time. I went through the usual introductory session with a trainer, learned how to use the elliptical and the weight machines, and while I rarely touch the weight machines today, this period served as my introduction to weight lifting. I noticed myself developing some muscle tone and losing some weight. However, I started to get bored with my little weight circuit and noticed myself starting to plateau.

It wasn’t until I joined a new gym and met Kenneth, who showed me a different way of working out – using free weights, the Bosu, medicine balls and interval training – that I really began to notice a difference in my body. Moreover, this way of exercising was way more fun than sitting mindlessly on the weight machines repeating rep after rep. I began incorporating what he taught me into my own workouts, and I also started reading magazines and coming up with my own exercises and routines. This is when I realized how much I loved fitness (and some might say, when I started to become a “gym rat”). I will always have Kenneth to think for that 🙂

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Kenneth conquering the muscle up

Influencer #3: The Sergeant

The summer before going off to college, I did my first Bootcamp. A friend of mine had done it as part of his preparation before going off to the Naval Academy and knew it would be something I’d love. Just to clarify, we’re not talking Barry’s Bootcamp with air conditioning, music and a peppy dude with a headset leading the class. Think muddy field, 5:30am, dark, 95+ degree temperatures and 100% humidity (Houston in July). There was a lot of yelling, a lot of mud and a lot of pain. Bootcamp was led by a former Army Sargeant  named Jay, who screamed more than anyone I’ve ever met. There was no equipment necessary – just pushups, sit-ups, burpees, jumping jacks, sprints – you get the picture. At the end of Bootcamp, we completed the Army Physical Fitness Test to measure our progress: as many push-ups as possible in 90 seconds, as many sit-ups as possible in 90 seconds and a timed 2-mile run. I was very proud to score a 300, the highest possible score! I was shocked with my progress. There was no going back now.

Influencer #4: The Runn

Then I went to college. While I did continue my workout regime, I fell victim to the temptations of the unlimited Freshman meal plan as well as binge drinking and the late night and hungover junk food that comes along with it. I came home the summer after Freshman year very upset with myself about the weight I had gained and immediately put myself on a restricted diet. I lost weight, was back to my normal fit size by the time I returned sophomore year, only to repeat the process all over again. It wasn’t until my junior year of college, when I lived in my own apartment and was able to make my own food that I finally felt in control of my health.

However, I still felt that I needed some sort of fitness goal to work towards. Growing up, I watched my mom run every day, whether she was training for a marathon or just going for a jog to get away from the rest of us. I knew it must be great for you because my mom was in amazing shape, but I just thought it was torture. Maybe because it is used as a form of torture when you’re playing sports. Or maybe because Houston is just so damn hot that doing anything outside just seems insane.

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Mom after hitting a new PR during the 10k Turkey Trot in Houston

Well to my surprise, and thanks to the beautiful backdrop of North Carolina and the Duke campus, I started to enjoy running once I got to college. So at the end of junior year, a few friends and I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for our first half marathon senior year of college in Virginia Beach, VA. I trained all summer long and when the big day came I had a great run and was hooked. I finally knew what my mom had been raving about all these years. This was the first time since quitting sports at 15 that I had a goal to work towards and I loved it. I decided to sign up for the Houston half marathon the following January. And two more after that.

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After the 2010 Houston Half Marathon

Influencer #5: The Fighter

Please excuse me for getting sentimental in these next two sections. Feel free to scroll to the recipe at the bottom if I get to mushy for you…

While I still loved running, I started to get bored, particularly after I moved to NYC and found that the places to run were limited and repetitive. I also started to suffer from some nagging injuries, most likely due to the same repetitive movement of running. I still lifted weights in the gym, but I felt like I was in a rut. I was plateauing. I was always tired. I was overtraining. I needed to set some new goals.

That’s when I met Dennys. I was apprehensive to start training with him at first, mostly because if you’ve ever seen the cost of a personal trainer in NYC, you know it’s insanely expensive. But, I knew I needed that extra motivation to pull me out of my rut, so I decided that there were probably a few things in my life I could sacrifice for the sake of fitness (little did I know this would become my motto in life). Plus, how could I not be motivated by this?!

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For the sake of not turning this blog post into a novel, I’ll try to keep the rest of this short. Since I began training with Dennys over 2 years ago, he’s taught me how to be a badass. In other words, he taught me to stop training like a little girl and start lifting like a boss. I learned all about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), how to use kettlebells, TRX training, Olympic lifting and so much more.

And the best part was, not only did he just tell me what to do each session, he told me why we were doing it. He wanted me to learn. For the first time, I felt accountable and I wanted to make the most out of my time with Dennys. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was working towards at the time, I just knew I wanted to get faster and stronger. Basically, I knew I wanted to be as awesome as him.

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48″ box jump

If it weren’t for Dennys, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. His outlook on life and drive to positively impact the lives of others, inspires me to strive to do the same each and every day. And I am forever grateful for that.

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Influencer #6: The Girls

Finally, there are my “swollmates.”

First, there’s Kayte, my blogger-in-crime. Without her, I would not have had the motivation to actually get my butt in gear and start this blog. She has also inspired me to get back into gymnastics.

Then there’s Nicole. Dennys introduced me to Nicole as another one of his clients. I immediately recognized how awesome she was and knew I needed to befriend her. She’s an allstar athlete (Penn State Women’s bball star!) and one of the strongest and most positive people I’ve ever met. And a great workout partner!

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Last but not least, there’s Emily. I also met Emily through Dennys (like I said, I don’t know where I would be without that guy!), and I am so thankful for that introduction. She is incredibly supportive and always willing to listen to my “problems”, regardless of how silly they may be. She also won’t hesitate to put me in my place if I’m being a twit, which happens often. Oh, and did I mention she’s a total beast?

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32″ box jump!

It is so important to surround yourself with people who support you in reaching your goals, and these girls have done just that. They motivate me to get my butt into gear each and every day!

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Back to the Present

So I guess that was a long-winded answer to a simple question, but I feel like it paints a pretty good picture of how I got to where I am today. Working out is no longer a chore, it’s something I enjoy. Not only because it relieves stress and gives me energy, but because each workout is an opportunity to become stronger, faster and hone my skills. In a way, I feel like I’m back where I was as a 6 year old gymnast because my training actually has a purpose. I can’t stress how much focusing my goals around performance has totally changed my outlook on fitness. As soon as I stopped focusing my fitness goals around my body image and more around athletic performance (combined with clean eating, of course), the physical appearance part took care of itself.

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If you’ve made it to the end of this post, I think you deserve a recipe. So I give you turkey meatloaf.

Turkey Meatloaf

Recipe adapted from paleOMG and Fed & Fit.

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Loaf:

1 lb ground turkey

1 small yellow onion, chopped

½ bell pepper, chopped

½ cup fresh tomato, chopped

¼ cup almond meal/coconut flour (optional)

1 egg

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt/pepper/any other seasonings of choice to taste

Sauce:

½ jar Rao’s Homeade Marinara Sauce or other organic tomato sauce

½ can tomato paste

3 tbsp grainy/spicy mustard

2 tbps balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all loaf ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix (use your hands!) until well combined. Add mixture into 2 mini loaf pans, 1 large loaf pan or form a loaf on a turkey roasting pan. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix all ingredients for the sauce together. After the loaf is done baking, remove from oven and turn the heat up to 450. “Ice” the loaf with the tomato sauce mixture, covering all sides (or just the top if you’re using a loaf pan). Once the oven has reached 450, place the loaf back in the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. When finished, the tomato sauce should form a thick “icing” on top of the loaf.

Let cool for a few minutes, then dig in! Great for leftovers too 🙂

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Have a great weekend, y’all!

Julia

The World of Fitness Competitions

If you follow us on Instagram, then you may already know that I decided last Monday to compete in a Fitness show on June 1st in New Mexico! I wasn’t planning to do any shows in the near future, but the opportunity came up and I couldn’t turn it down!  If you know anything about competing in the fitness world, then you know that 4 weeks is definitely a VERY short prep!  However, if you aren’t too familiar with this industry, you are in good company! I get a lot of questions from people about what a Fitness competition really is:

Is it body building?   What do you have to do?  What are the divisions?  What do you get if you win?  How do I get involved? 

So, I thought I would give a little run down to help clear some things up! If you are thinking about making the decision to compete, there are a lot of different factors to consider to help you decide what’s right for you.  I am not too familiar with the male divisions, so I apologize in advance if this is a little girly!

Kayte Natter

Female Divisions – Obviously not everyone has the same build or fitness goals, so they have created divisions for every one! If you are considering entering a show, take a look at some of the body types that are in each division and decide what suits you and your physique goals in order to help decide the best fit.  Each division is judged using different criteria….and yes, this does involve walking and/or posing in a bikini in front of a lot of people!  Here is an overview of the breakdown:

1.) Fitness – This is the division that I compete in.  While there is a swimsuit round in all the divisions, this one is unique in that it also involves a routine round.  The routine can involve anything, but should highlight your particular skills like dance, gymnastics, cheer and strength! The fitness look generally is athletic, fit & toned.

Kayte Natter

2.) Bikini – The appearance for this division should be fit, toned and feminine with the proper conditioning.  These ladies can strut and pose in a way that best highlights their strengths.

3.) Figure – These competitors generally carry more muscle than fitness or bikini competitors.  Often, unlike the bikini and fitness divisions, these competitors may have mandatory poses, whereas bikini & fitness choose their own.

4.) Body Building – This is just what it sounds like…ladies are judged on the mass, symmetry  & leanness of their body. This division, like figure, generally has set poses.

Competitive Organizations – There are many different organizations that host shows….and they all have slightly different rules, division requirements, pro status’ and prizes (if any.)  Some of the most well known are below:

So, if you’ve decided to compete and already picked a division and organization, what’s next?  Here are some tips on getting started:

Pick a show – Choose a local/smaller show for your first one.  It’s nice to work the kinks out in a small arena so you are comfortable when you hit the big stage!

Get a coach or mentor – Thank fully, I had some friends that had competed in the past.  They gave me some great advice and connected me with my fitness mentor Sheri McCall Vucick.  Sheri gave me the rundown with tanner, let me borrow her suit, gave me a meal plan, workout plan, music and helped with my routine!  She is kind of a rock star!

Sheri Vucick

Get a Meal Plan & Diet – Depending on the coach or program you choose, they may or may not provide this, but it is soooo important! You need to have a specific nutrition and training program that will be designed to make sure you peak on your competition day! This will also include drinking a TON of water!!

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Practice your walk, posing and routine (if applicable) – Those girls who step on stage may look like it comes to them naturally, but you better believe that they have walked miles in their heels to make sure it looks perfect!  It is so important to practice walking and posing!

If you have ever read Oxygen magazine, then you know Lindsay Messina.  She has put together a great group of women who work together to prep for competitions. If you are in the New York area, check out the New York Divas.  They meet most Saturday mornings for a workout and then practice posing and stage walk.  Check out one of Lindsay’s videos on the stage walk here.

Get your gearHere is a short list of what you will need once you make the decision to compete

  • Swimsuit/Bikini – Styles may change based on the division you select
  • Competition heels  – Generally clear and not too high that you can’t walk in them!
  • Tanner – Practice this before stage day!  I love Jantana & Dream Tan, but you have to find what works for you!
  • Glitzy jewelry – The more bling the better!
  • Costumes/Gown –Depending on the division/organization, you may need themeware or a gown.
  • Music/Theme/Costume  – If you decide to do fitness, you’ll need these for the routine.

Have Support – Last but certainly not least, you have to have support from your friends and family!  Competing can be like a roller-coaster, especially towards the end and after a competition.  It’s so important to surround yourself with positive people who will help move you towards your goal!

Girls of Steel

Girls of Steel

If you are in the New York City area and would like some additional information or help with competition prep, I also offer privates for posing and routine choreography.  Message me for more info: average2athlete@gmail.com.

Dining out and Getting back to Human

I love food. Especially eating out. And living in NYC, there are ENDLESS places that I want to try. Part of the reason that I eat clean most of the time is so that when I do choose to treat myself to a meal out, which usually happens about once or twice a week, I can order whatever I desire and not feel guilty about it. Let’s face it, I’ve never been the girl to go to a famous burger joint, and order a salad. That’s just boring.

That’s why I follow the 80/20 rule, for the most part. Eat 100% clean 80% of the time, and use the other 20% to treat myself. (Except during the a2a 25 day challenge, of course).

That being said, I also hate the feeling of leaving a restaurant feeling so full that you can’t even walk, or worse, having to put up with a stomach ache for the rest of the night. So lately, I’ve been trying to make some healthier choices. Or at least work on portion control…

One of the new places that I tried today was Hu’s Kitchen. Here’s what they’re all about:

We started with the question, “how should humans eat?” The more we studied and experimented, the more we came to understand that we are primitive bodies living in modern times, that getting back to a pre-industrial way of eating was the best thing we could do for our health. But we knew we wouldn’t be satisfied until we figured out how to make our food not just nutritionally superior but also genuinely delicious.

Seriously, why don’t more places like this exist? Everything is gluten free, grassfed, organic, and their prices were very reasonable! Still not convinced? Check out their pillars.

Today I went with two eggs over easy, sweet potato hash and grass fed bacon. Everything is cooked in coconut or olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. My meal even came with a biscuit made from veggies, flaxseed and olive oil – how cool is that?

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And I ate every last bite, obviously.

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I will definitely be going back once the a2a challenge has ended to check out their Jordy cakes, juices and sample some of their sweet treats! Check out ChekMark Eats review for more on Hu Kitchen.

Ok, back to the main event. Although for me eating out is a semi-rare occasion, I know that many people eat out much more often than I do, either because they don’t like to cook, they travel a lot, they have to take clients out for work, or they lead a way cooler life than I do. Regardless of the reason, we’ve had a few requests for tips on making healthier choices at restaurants, so I thought I’d give my two cents.

1. Play an active role in restaurant selection. If your friends are deciding where to go for brunch on Sunday, do some research yourself and suggest a few places where you know you can find something on the menu for you. If your suggestions get shot down, well hey, at least you tried.

2. Stalk the menu before you go. If you check out the menu ahead of time, you’ll be able to select something healthy and be less likely to make an impulsive, unhealthy decision at the restaurant.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications. You might feel awkward for the two seconds that you’re asking your waiter what type of oil they cook their vegetables in, but your stomach will be happier later.  If you’re trying to eat gluten free, order your sandwich or burger without the bun rather than having it sit on your plate staring you in the face while you try not to eat it. If the chicken in the dish that you want is fried, ask if they can substitute grilled. If your dish comes with fries, ask for a side salad instead. There are tons of tiny modifications that can make the unhealthiest of meals clean!

4. Split meals. Ask your friend if they want to share something with you. Not only will you feel less guilty later after not polishing off an entire plate of french toast by yourself, your wallet will thank you too.

5. Order a salad to start. This will help fill you up before your meal arrives and also keeps you from munching on the bread in the middle of the table.

6. Choose a main dish with protein and veggies. These tend to be less processed with less hidden ingredients.

7. Stop eating when you’re full. You don’t have to clean your plate! You can take the rest home with you. Or in most cases, there is someone else at the table that will be willing to clean your plate for you.

8. ENJOY! Yes, it’s important to eat healthy. And yes, we all feel better when we do. But sometimes you just have to indulge. There are just too many foods out there to eat protein and veggies 100% of the time. Life is too short, live a little!

Finally, moving away from restaurants and back to cooking your own food, I’m going to walk you through my meal prep from last week to show you my lunch that was a2a challenge approved.

Julia’s Power Lunch

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– Sauteed kale – grease skillet with olive or coconut oil, add kale, sautee until starts to turn brown and crispy

– Roasted sweet potatoes – cut sweet potato into cubes, toss in olive oil, place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes

– Roasted portobello mushrooms (from NomNom Paleo)

– Grape tomatoes (raw)

– Turkey meatballs – Combine 1/2 diced onion with 1 lb of lean ground turkey, roll into balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until thoroughly cooked

I portioned everything out into 4 tupperware containers and ate them for lunch Tuesday-Friday. As a “dressing” I used a very ripe avocado that I could mash up and stir into the mix.

Enjoy your week everyone!

– Julia