Throwing Around Heavy Objects.

             It can be ultra-daunting to get in the free weight room. Guys are huffing and puffing swinging weights around in ways that seem to be completely arbitrary. There’s a method to the madness though, and it’s simple enough for anyone to master. I recently had a friend ask me about what I liked better, free weights or machines. Truthfully, there is not a “better” way, don’t discriminate!  The more variation you can get in your workouts, the better your results will be. This is of course contingent upon performing the movements with perfect form. I think weighted movements are a little scary to us because just like anything new, they are something we have little knowledge about and are therefore, out of our comfort zone.
comfort zone
           There’s a simple solution for this lack of knowledge though, it’s called the internet. It seems silly, but I bet many of you don’t know that sometimes when starting a new weight training program by my coach, I’m not just changing the music on my iPhone in between sets. I’m actually watching a YouTube video or three to make sure I understand exactly what movement I’m supposed to do, and the absolute best way to do that movement on which equipment.
            Let’s backtrack for a moment. What if you don’t even know what to search? Well, it’s as easy as picking a body part. My favorite resource is bodybuilding.com. (No it’s not just for bodybuilders) They have complete workout plans and a lot of the time they have written explanations and/or videos. If you wanted to create your own, I’d say you really shouldn’t do more than 3 exercises per small muscle group depending on the number of days you plan on strength training. For example, you are doing upper body that day you could do:
Over head DB press 4×10,
Seated BB press 4×10,
DB side raises 4×10
(These are all shoulder exercises ↑)
DB hammer alternating bicep curls 4×10
Cable curls 4×10
Cable tricep push downs 4×10
DB lying tricep extensions 4×10
Throw in a couple sets of ab exercises to give your arms a break in between.
           I cannot stress enough the importance of strength training for women. It’s important for both sexes of course, but ladies, I know you try to avoid it at all costs. Lift heavy, push yourself and grow some muscle. It’s good for your bones, it creates active tissues which speeds up your metabolism, [HELLOOO YOU CAN EAT MORE!] Not to mention your butt looks way more appealing in a bikini if you squat heavy and deep. And not just squats! Google isolated glute exercises (and do lots of them), your butt will thank you.
          One more topic I wanted to hit along with this, because it’s ultimately the key to weight lifting being effective. Eat plenty of protein. Eat it at least three times a day. Women need around 4-6 ounces per serving and men around 6-8 ounces per serving. If you can’t consume lean animal protein, fish is the best thing you can put in your body. If you’re completely vegetarian then you need to make sure you’re getting equivalent protein from eggs, protein supplements or other tofu/meatless protein products. You simply cannot grow or maintain muscle without adequate nutrition.
          Conquer your fear of weights and push yourself outside your comfort zone. Physical strength is one of the most rewarding things, I know you’ll find that when you can increase your strength in one arena, it will leak into other areas of your life, I know it has for me. We as humans are capable of so much more than we credit ourselves with, and sometimes taking a little leap of faith is the key to tapping into that capability.
            P.S.—I didn’t mention hiring a personal trainer in this post on purpose. Unless you have a very reliable source or someone with a lot more credentials than your typical PT, then honestly online research of movements will be much more reliable. I’ve watched clients with personal trainers at a myriad of different gyms and most of them do not teach form correctly or as concisely as they should. [No offense personal trainers that are reading this, I love the ones that are doing a great job like my coach does, but that just isn't the case for a large majority.] Also, another reason is, a lot of people simply cannot afford to hire a PT.
           On my progress:
I’ve been freaking out a little honestly. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, I’ve been traveling for a month straight, my diet has gotten increasingly more strict and my exercise more intense. My fat loss has been very slow because I have metabolic issues genetically. BUT, I’ve had so much love and support from you all, my family, my man, and my co workers. It makes it all seem so much more simple when I stop thinking about how far I have to go and reflect back on how far I’ve come. I’ve conquered every past version of myself and today I am the best version of myself I’ve ever been. I’m proud of that and it motivates me to keep striving and take this experience one day at a time.
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Difference between February this year and now

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Difference between February this year and now

On the go?

Many of my friends and family know that I travel for a living. I work for a company that teaches real estate investing strategies all over the country. This requires me to fly 30+ weekends out of the year. One of my biggest objections that I created with myself when I was deciding if I wanted to go for my goal of becoming an NPC competitor was this issue… never having access to the right foods, always being stuck in airports and having zero consistency with my schedule. But honestly, it had more to do with my foodie fat-kid travel habits. The most exciting thing to me when traveling has been the culinary experience you get in every area of the country. I gained FIFTEEN pounds my first year with the company… I blame the bbq in Kansas City, crab au gratin and grits in new Orleans and the breweries in Denver.  I absolutely love food, and I wasn’t ready to make the decision to pass all those yummy potentials up for better choices. Over time, the travel life glamour started to pass and I came to the decision that I would achieve my goals over hell or high water. I came up with a plan to make my life consistent on paper even if to most people it seemed unorganized and hectic. The key word there is PLAN.

If nothing else, the planning part is what I hope to ingrain in you after reading this post.

Every week that I travel I spend around 2 hours planning, shopping for, and prepping my meals.  I have a specific number of meals I’m eating and portions of foods, which makes it easier to shop, but I still can have what I want of those portions. I would suggest to you to plan to eat the same thing for most of the days—ie, the same breakfasts, lunches and dinners. You don’t have to do this; I just find it MUCH easier to cook like this, instead of trying to create 20 different meals, you can cook in bulk.

Make a grocery list, and head to somewhere more affordable like Trader Joes. HERE’S A BIG TIP: [Keep in mind that if you’re staying in a hotel you’ll be microwaving your food, pick things you know are tolerable/yummy cooked this way] The money I’ve saved doing this has been tremendous, your wallet will thank you. I spend around 50-60 bucks on groceries for my 20 meals I eat over the weekend, yes I eat 5 times a day.

The next crucial items you’ll need are a cooler and some gel ice packs—if you’re traveling far distance via plane or car. You can buy a nice cooler anywhere like Target or Walmart, just buy one you can picture fitting some volume in, the soft ones are easier and lighter to carry. I got kind of crazy and dropped a little extra cash to get an Isobag- they are like the Cadillac of cooler bags next to 6-Pack Bags which are incredibly expensive. I figured I was saving all this money on food, I earned it right? Also consider bringing a reusable water bottle with you through security through airports. The water prices are extremely high and the pressure and low humidity in airplane cabins requires your water intake to be higher than usual.

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Me in the Phoenix airport during my layover last weekend getting some berries out to grub on. Notice the cooler bag and water bottle in the background!

Every hotel across America has refrigerators and microwaves. A lot of the time they have them both provided in your room, and other times you just have to ask! Either way, you’ll be able to eat your prepared meals, it just takes some effort.

Most good things in life take some effort, your health and body are worth it! I hope this post makes staying on track no matter what the circumstances, a little more feasible and attainable. Please let me know if there is something else I can do to help!

Summery Sorbet: Minty Watermelon

I wanted to share a fun summery recipe that I created to satisfy my craving for a cool treat.

Ingredients:

7 tbsp Truvia Sweetener -(loose in the jar version is easiest)

1 cup Water

6 tbsp Lemon Juice

3 cups Cubed Water Melon

20 Mint Leaves

A metal container- I used an old coffee can

First, get your watermelon cubed- smaller is better for those of you without access to a high grade blender. I have a vitamix so I did about 1 square inch cubes. Grease a cookie sheet with non stick spray and place all of the cubes on there and throw them in the fridge.

Next, make a simple syrup with the Truvia combine the 7 tbsp Truvia with 1 cup of water over medium heat, stir until all of the granules have dissipated.

Pour your simple syrup in a shallow dish or glass pan so it’s spread over a large surface to cool quickly. Toss your mint leaves in the dish with the simple syrup and let those marinate while the mixture cools in the fridge.

Get your lemon juice ready to go on the side.

Once your watermelon chucks have completely frozen, you’re ready to assemble. Put the lemon juice in the bottom of your blender. Then remove the leaves from the simple syrup and add it to the lemon juice. Finally, add the frozen chucks of melon and blend away. I’d recommend using a tamper to push it toward the blade, if you don’t have one, no worries.

When all ingredients have combined fully, pour the mixture in your metal container and proceed to freeze until firm.

I served mine with sprigs of mint for color, you could also slice some lemon with them.

Enjoy!

summerysorbet

I wanted to reiterate a conversation had with my sister, Tori, her boyfriend, Niko, and my boyfriend Shane.  There is a lot of pressure through social media to look a certain way. One of the most saddening things I’ve experienced is watching some of my friends hide behind others in pictures, or contort their bodies to look smaller than they actually are, like I used to do.

This needs to stop. There’s so much to say about this behavior. I remember doing it because I hated looking like the biggest girl out of all my friends or even the biggest sister compared to my drop dead gorgeous siblings. I absolutely hated myself. Then I would justify the way I looked, made excuses, emotionally binged on foods to feel happy again. But the truth was there all along… I hated myself and I was also unwilling to do anything about it, and sometimes I was in denial altogether. Shane had the same experience for a lot of years, he and I call those our denial years, our fat years. We were both between 30 and 50 pounds over-weight during that time.

The worst part is, one day you wake up and you see yourself in the mirror and you think… What happened? How did I get here? I always wished someone would have been super real with me about what I was doing to my body and mind. My mom was pretty upfront and honest that I was not looking good, which I appreciate now, but it never motivated me to stick with a lifestyle change long-term. I don’t think everyone should be stick thin or look amazing in a bikini or ever change their lifestyle habits for those reasons. However, being over-weight is literally killing your body as much as cigarette smoke does. Actually, it’s worse. Heart disease is the number one killer, even above cancer.

Maybe if someone was real with me about the health consequences of my behavior it would have been a better motivator than being the hottest girl on the beach.

Fear of loss is always going to be a better motivator than hope for gain. Those are the two reasons all humans move to action. In lamens terms, people do things either, because they are so scared of something bad happening or not happening or so hopeful for something new to come. So I encourage you, to do some self-exploration. Find your reason “why,” figure out what truly motivates you. A good friend of mine, Ryan, uses the example of a friend he used to personal train. Ryan’s client told him that he wanted to get in shape. Ryan said, okay so why do you want to get in shape? His client said he wanted to have more energy. Ryan asked him why, yet again. His client said when he comes home from work he is too tired to play with his kids. Ryan asked his client if he feels like being out of shape is keeping him from being a good father. His client said yes. So, Ryan found that the only time of the day his client had time to get to the gym was in the early morning before work. Ryan instructed him to make a big sign next to his alarm clock that says, “get up and work out or you’re being a bad father.”  Ryan found the true why for his client, and used that as a fire to propel him towards his goal. Do the same for yourself. Find a “why” that is big enough, set a goal that is defined and be consistent. Your body and soul will thank you.

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-Mark Twain

More than anything I want to instill in everyone the importance of LOVING yourself in the process. Celebrate each day you conquer, love your body during the change. You have a healthy functioning vessel, whereas some people don’t even have an able body or the means to nourish their body properly. It will be much easier to feed your body the proper fuel and nutrient dense foods long-term if you do it from a place of love rather than a place of hate, ask me how I know. Every time I crash dieted, it was because I hated what I looked like, not because I was ready to love my body from the inside out. Reassess your motivators.

 

 

 

What happened? How did I get here?

Treat Cheat Sheet

All the other times I tried to diet in a more healthful way I was tempted by uh… gateway drugs. I mean, gateway foods. In addition, I was always dishonest with myself about what I was really eating. Fad dieting words [“gluten free,” “sugar free,” “non-fat”] on packaged foods helped me justify my consumption of foods that  were not actually calorically or nutritionally sound. Some of the time I even decided that having just a little of this or that, maybe JUST ONE glass of wine wouldn’t really hurt my progress.

The reality was, I wasn’t just having one glass of wine, or a little of this or that. I was having a glass of wine and having a little of this or that everyday.

i-meticulously-count-every-calorie-i-consume-before-my-first-drink-UAx

Let’s look at the human body for a moment. Apart from some standard deviations and the occasional medical condition, our body’s come down to a science.

Sandra put it this way, “Danika I’m going to treat this process as a science project for your body, we need to follow everything exactly to see if that works and we can adjust depending on what results we see.”  Basically it all comes down to testing and measuring. But how can one test and measure if one is inconsistent? That’s like the FDA testing pharmaceutical drugs, giving different daily doses and expecting the results to be consistent.

Being consistent on a nutritional level sounds like a pain huh? It’s really not, it’s quite simple. It’s kind of like taking the correct classes to be able to transfer to a top echelon school. If you want to get in to that tier of school, you simply follow the program, perfectly. You make the decision that’s what you want and you do what you need to make it happen.

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Nike says it best, JUST DO IT!

Disclaimer: some people don’t have goals that are defined as mine are. There is more room for deviation depending on your personal situation and goals. Everyone is on their own journey, this is just a blog about my experience.

Let me give you some examples of what to do if you are pursuing a goal in weight loss or fitness in some capacity which will help you with deviations.

The Treat Cheat Sheet:

  1. Pick a day, you can base this on a social gathering or you can make it consistent, like every Saturday evening.
  2. Pick a treat, whether it’s a meal or a dessert or a glass of wine or a beer. It’s important to know what that item is before you sit down and eat it. You don’t want your food to choose you, CHOOSE your food.
  3. Be reasonable. It takes a 3300 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound. That means if you’re creating a 500 calorie deficit daily, you’re due to lose a pound a week. If you treat yourself once a week you may need to be more conscious about picking something that won’t “undo” all your hard work that week.

Good Examples:

  • Filet Mignon and cheese potatoes (instead of chicken and sweet potatoes and some vegetables.) 300-500 calories over and above what you would normally consume for a healthful dinner.
  • One generous glass of wine (or two small ones if it feels like more to you) 125 calories in a 5 ounce serving
  • Non-fat frozen yogurt- maybe 8-10 oz. with some healthful toppings, or none works too. Depending on where you go — 250-500 calories.


Bad Examples:

  • In N Out Animal fries- these are about 900 calories
  • Cream based meals like a creamy soup or macaroni and cheese- these will typically run 1000 calories and upwards, and its hard to measure calorically because there are so many ingredients.
  • Pizza- it’s really not THAT bad in quality of food department, the real issue is its on average for a normal sized slice somewhere around 285 calories. However, who has ONE piece of pizza? I need at least three. Which brings me to my next point….

4. Measure your treat! When one is eating for a goal and to change their body, measurement is key! You should be measuring your healthy food options, so it’s even more essential to measure the treat meal so it doesn’t turn into a ruin-your-week meal.

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Here is a little progress update for you all:
As of May 14 I was 26% body fat and 145 pounds. On June 4th Sandra measured me again, now 22% body fat and 140 pounds. What does this mean? It means I lost 7 pounds of fat and gained two pounds of muscle, there’s that RECOMPOSITION BABY!

These results have me FREAKIN out.  I feel like the only other time I’ve seen results remotely similar to these is when I was starving myself. Yet, my coach, Sandra, gave me more calories to eat this week. She says that she wants me eating as much as I can and doing cardio the least number of times possible, how cool is that? Currently, I’m getting my sweat on 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes and lifting 4 times a week. I haven’t yet chosen to have a treat meal since I’m still allowed lots of fun foods at this stage in my prep. I have made some pretty delicious treats with healthful alternatives and would be happy to share some recipes on here if enough people are interested! I’d love to hear from you, please comment or email me at dlmorlet@gmail.com and let me know what you think or for any additional feedback!

MMM CARBS!

The best decision one can make when trying to achieve a goal is invest in a coach. Why? Because we as humans have a tendency to want to quit, make excuses, and we have difficulty pushing ourselves to the capacity that we are capable.

So, I got myself the best coach I could find with the most experience as a trainer and as a competitor. Her name is Sandra Blackie, a badass older lady who knows a lot of shit about transforming bodies and how all this stuff works.  She even competed for Ms. Olympia 3 times.

She took my body fat percentage and weighed me during our meeting to see how far I had to go to be at optimum body composition for a competition. This is when she informed me that I am 26% body fat…

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So, 26 percent body fat for those who do not know is between fair and poor for females. So even now, after I’ve lost about 10 pounds of drinking and travel food gut I am still considered to be in the “poor” category of fitness.

It’s hard not to base health off of aesthetics. You may look at me in a bikini and think, hey, she looks great! Why change a thing? But I think that’s one of the worst misconceptions American culture continues to perpetuate– an obsession with what you should look like, not on actual health.

More than anything I want to be in the best health I can be. It’s sad that I’m 23 and have never been in the good or excellent fitness categories for my body, age, and gender.

I’m about a week and a half into Sandra’s regimen she planned for me and I’m down four pounds 145 to now 140.5. She says it’s mostly water weight due to me drinking upwards of 80 oz. a day and cutting sodium from my diet. It takes about three weeks for our bodies to flush excess water when we switch to a low sodium diet. It’s exciting to see the number change regardless, but I think it’s more important to focus on how I’m changing in strength, and the way my pants fit. Although I’m cutting, I’d love to see more body recomposition (when you gain muscle and lose fat which reflects zero change in scale weight).

I’d like to tell you all how excited I am that change in the scale happened with the consumption of a shit-ton of CARBS! I have had fear of carbs and a really messed up mindset when it comes to certain food categories because of all the crazy diets I’ve tried over the years. However, I’m now eating potatoes (MY FAVORITE) and oats and all kinds of goodness and losing weight. The strength gains and power in the gym because of this extra fuel food is extremely noticeable. Within a week my assistance needed for pull ups decreased by 20 pounds and I’ve upped my weights in almost every exercise.

When I was in college I thought that the scale weight was really what mattered. So I ate around 1000 calories a day, ran about 5 miles five days a week and got down to 129 but my body composition was still about the same, because my body was malnourished, my muscle was used for energy and I looked worse than I do now ten pounds of muscle heavier.

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January 2012 129 lbs.          ||     April 2014 142 lbs.

Starving is not the answer and Sandra is proving that to me each day when I eat until I’m stuffed and feel great.

Eat and train.

DIET AND EXERCISE.

Classic yo-yo Chic

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I recently shared this progress photo with family and friends on my Instagram. There are some serious badass Beyoncé ladies rocking their fierce fitness lifestyles on Instagram. SO, I finally decided it was my turn to get it together and figure out how to stay there.

See, I’m the classic yo-yo chic. My body and level of commitment to being fit or looking good, or whatever tickles your fancy, has been a damn roller-coaster. I’ve tried EVERYTHING out there. Diets, they work. But when I stop abiding by them, I revert immediately. I’ve lost the same 10 or so pounds probably 100 times between the age of 11 and 23. I’d like to declare I’m personally insane.

Insanity:

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–The recurring theme?–

DANIKA LOVES FOOD, DANIKA LOVES TO DRINK WINE AND MARGARITA’S. 

OH AND FROYO. 

So, the circle of death (or so I call it) has continued to envelop my life and my poor body over the years. There are so many contributing factors that compounded my own sickness about food and my body.

However, one that has particularly hindered me more than anything else in the world has been the idea of SOCIAL NORMS.

I want to continually uncover and share with you why we feel this pressure to do things that are so-called normal. I’ll have plenty of weird to delve into over the next 19 weeks as I prep for my first NPC bikini show this October.

Stay tuned while I attempt to break my insanity.