fitness

Bikini Competition Diet Tutorial

So you’ve signed up for your first bikini competition or you just want to look like a bikini competitor. The most important thing you will need to focus on during your training is your diet.

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Exercise alone will not transform your body to its full potential, in fact most of the exercise you do during contest prep will be focused on losing fat and maintaining muscle. The diet is where the real magic happens.

Its also important to realize that every body is different and responds differently to different diets. Although there are general guidelines that work for MOST people, it is important to keep track of your progress and change things as needed. This is one of the reasons I think working with a credible coach is great. They can help tailor your diet to your body.

The first thing you should do is calculate your calorie requirements for maintenance.

You can do this using any of several formulas here is a link to a calculator to make it easy for you ūüėČ

Next, you want to calculate how many calories you will need to reduce your diet to lose the number of pounds you think you will need to lose to achieve the look you are going for. Considering that a pound of fat=3500 calories you will multiply the number of pounds you want to lose by 3500. Then, you divide it by how many days you have until your competition. This will be the number of calories you will need to subtract from your daily maintenance caloric requirements you calculated earlier. Keep in mind that this is not an exact science, changes is metabolism will change you your body loses weight. As you lose weight your metabolism will decrease. Also, it is NOT recommended to go below 1200 calories a day.

For example, let’s say my caloric requirements for maintaining my weight are 2400. If I want to lose 10 pounds by my show date in 60 days:

10 lbs x 3500 calories/lb / 60 days = 583.33 calories/day

2400 calories/day – 583.33 calories/day= 1816.66 calories/day

Once you have your calories, you need to create a menu of food that approximately matches that amount. You also need to factor in the right ratio of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

The recommendations for macronutrients are as follows:

Fats:

Average or low bodyfat: 1-2g fat/ kg body weight [between 0.4-1g total weight/ pounds]
High bodyfat: 1-2g fat/ Kg LEAN weight [between 0.4-1g LEAN weight/ pounds]
Low calorie dieting: You can decrease further, but you should maintain AT LEAST 0.30g/ pound.
Proteins:

STRENGTH training -> 1.4 to 2g per KG bodyweight (about .6 / pound)

Research has shown that 2.2g-3g per KG body weight can help with muscle retention which may be good as you are dieting down for a show.

Carbohydrates:

There are no specific requirements for carbs, so the rest of your calories (once you have subtracted fat and protein) can be carbohydrates.

 

Ok, now sorry but I have to throw some more math at you.  Once you have the number of grams of fat and protein your body needs you will need to convert those into calories. You can do this by multiplying the number of grams by the number of calories per gram for each macronutrient. Carbohydrates and Proteins are 4 calories/gram; fat is 9 calories per gram. Once you have figures out how many calories you will be eating based on the protein and fat requirements, divide the remaining number of calories by 4 to find out how many grams of carbohydrates you should be eating.

Got that? Hope your head is not spinning! If that was really too much math for you here is a link to a calculator to help you out!

Now, I hope you like puzzles, because you are going to have to play around with the types and amount of food you are eating to meet your requirements. If you are off by a little that is totally ok! I like the my fitness pal app to help me keep track of what I am eating and to help plan out my meals to make sure they fit my requirements.

Now you could probably plug in junk food and reach your macro goals, but I recommend eating whole foods as much as possible. This will help with your hunger levels and also help your body get all the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) it needs to function.

Here is a list of some foods I eat when I am competing (and usually when I am not competing) to meet my macronutrient goals.

Protein
Chicken breast
Lean ground chicken
Turkey breast
Lean ground turkey
Lean steak
Tilapia
Salmon
Swordfish
Sea bass
Mahimahi
Grilled calamari
Shrimp
Scallops
Cottage cheese
Greek yogurt
Whey isolate Protein powder
Egg whites
Whole eggs

Carbohydrates
Leafy greens
Green beans
Asparagus
Brussels sprouts
Brown rice
Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Squash
Bell peppers
Onions
Mushrooms
Oatmeal
Quinoa
Water melon
Berries
Mango
Pineapple
Banana
Apple
Ezekiel bread

Fats
Fish oil
Flax oil
Walnuts
Almonds
Pistachios
Cashews
Almond milk
Vinaigrette
Olive oil
Coconut oil
Avocado
Almond butter
In general you will want to eat about 6 meals and have a serving of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats at each meal. Make sure you are paying close attention to your portion sizes. THE BEST WAY TO DO THIS IS WITH AN ELECTRONIC SCALE. They are pretty affordable and take the guess work out of measuring. Here is what a day of eating can look like for me:

Meal 1

Oatmeal with flax oil

Egg whites

Meal 2

Ezekiel Bread with P28 peanut butter

Meal 3

Chicken Breast

Spinach

Walnuts

Sweet Potato

Meal 4

Protein Shake

Meal 5

Salmon

Green Beans

Quinoa

Meal 6

Cottage Cheese

Berries

Prenatal Pilates Guidelines

Many of my friends are getting pregnant this year and I think Pilates is a great form of exercise to stay strong during pregnancy. Not only am I a Pilates instructor with advanced training in prenatal exercise, but I have also done pilates through my pregnancy! Here are my guidelines for doing Prenatal Pilates and what modifications you should make if you are pregnant.
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The first recommendation I would make is to talk to your doctor and ask him/her what you can and cannot do. Different doctors have different recommendations. your doctor will also know your specific situation and whether or not there are any contraindications you should be aware of.
The second thing I would do would be to read through the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) guidelines here: http://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq119.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20141230T1538388118
This is pretty much the gold standard, which most doctors follow. The general guidelines are as follows:“The changes in your body can make certain positions and activities risky for you and your baby. While exercising, try to avoid activities that call for jumping, jarring motions, or quick changes in direction that may strain your joints and cause injury.

There are some risks from becoming overheated during pregnancy. This may cause loss of fluids and lead to dehydration and problems during pregnancy.

When you exercise, follow these general guidelines for a safe and healthy exercise program:

  • After the first trimester of pregnancy, avoid doing any exercises on your back.
  • If it has been some time since you have exercised, start slowly. Begin with as little as 5 minutes of exercise a day and add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.
  • Avoid brisk exercise in hot, humid weather or when you have a fever.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that will help you to remain cool.
  • Wear a bra that fits well and gives lots of support to help protect your breasts.
  • Drink plenty of water to help keep you from overheating and dehydrating.
  • Make sure you consume the daily extra calories you need during pregnancy.”
Finally, in my personal experience, for back lying exercises after the 2nd trimester use towels or pillows to prop you up. This is to avoid having your uterus compress the vena cava, which provides blood to your baby. You can also buy a support pillow  like this one to help prop you up comfortably. Lying on yours stomach will also be uncomfortable, so you can kneel angling your chest down toward the floor instead.
For any ab work you will want to make sure you are pulling your abs in, you should not see a ridge on your belly. If you are not engaging your core properly, this can result in a separation of the ab muscles called rectus diastasis. A good resource to avoid this is the Lose Your Mummy Tummy book by Julie Tupler, creator of the Tupler Technique. This is also how you should be using your core in pilates. Check out my post on The Tupler Technique here. You may want to stop doing crunches or other exercises that work your rectus abdominus to help prevent this.
Aditionally, during pregnancy your body releases a hormone called “relaxin” which softens your connective tissue creating more flexibility and less stability in your joints. This means during classes, you will want to focus on controlling your movement and moving more slowly to stabilize and avoid injury.
Lastly, I think it is important to mention that pregnancy is an especially important time to listen to your body: Take it easier when you feel like you need to, change the position or ask for a modification if something feels uncomfortable.
Good Luck and CONGRATULATIONS!!

Gift Ideas for Fit Chicks

The Holidays are quickly approaching and if you haven’t finished shopping yet, here are some great gift ideas for fit girls (or guys) in your life.

1. Shaker – Bonus points if you throw in their favorite protein powder or pre-workout ($5-$10)

 

2. Yoga Mat – Even if she doesn’t do Yoga, an exercise mat can be used for stretching, abs and tons of other things. ($8-$40)

3. Workout Gloves – No girl wants alligator hands. Protect your fit princess’s paws with a new pair of workout gloves. Chances are, even if she already has a pair they are smelly and gross and need an upgrade.($15-$40)

4. Arm Band – If your fit girl NEEDS music to get through her workout, she definitely NEEDS a good way to transport it. An arm band is a great gift because even if she already has one, just like workout gloves, arm bands tend to get sweaty and gross quickly so a new one is always welcomed! ($10-$40)

5. Beats By Dre – These headphones are “life-changingly” good. I’ve been crushing on this pair with no cords to get tangled up while you work out. ($79-$379)

6. Fancy Foam Roller – What girl doesn’t need a good massage? Fancy foam rollers with pressure points for myofascial release act like a deep tissue massage. Check out this one, which you can¬†customize with a picture or writing. ($75)

7. Jacket From LuluLemon- I love Lululemon but I especially love their jackets. Not only are they super warm and practical, but they also seem to be universally flattering. I have a couple, but they change each season and I have been eyeing this one. ($198)

Fluff Off Jacket

8. Gift Certificate to Favorite Fitness Place- Does your girl have a passion for a particular pilates place or is she a committed cross fit community member? A gift certificate to her favorite fitness studio is sure to be a hit.

9. Resistance Bands- Resistance bands are my favorite “portable torture devices.” They are great for a quick workout at home or while travelling. ($7-$20)

10. Fitness Tracker- Fitness trackers are popping up like crazy lately. You can check out my review of the FitBit, which I loved or try one of the other devices out there. These are great for your fit check who is also into technology! ($40-$99)

Any other suggestions? What do you want for Christmas?

Top 8 Exercises for Building a Booty

For bikini competitors, having a butt is a requirement. If you weren’t genetically blessed with a booty at birth, these are the best exercises I have found to help bolster your backside. Click on the name of the exercise for instructions.

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1. Squats – Squats are the classic but builder. If you have been intimidated by the squat rack, its time to get over it and go squat!

2. Stiff Leg Deadlifts – Deadlifts Help strengthen hamstrings and the stiff leg version is particularly effective at hitting that spot where the glutes and hamstrings meet.

3. Hip Thrusts – Admittedly this exercise can feel silly, but trust me this is an awesome workout for your glutes.

4. Lunges – One bikini judge told me the best way to build a great butt is to do lunges, loading up the bar as heavy as you can and stepping out as far as you can. What can I say, he was right!

5. Single Leg Hack Squats – I found this exercise quite by accident but it is very effective. I always feel it the next day, and sometimes a few days after.

6. Kick Backs – This is a great exercise for really targeting glut muscles and lifting your back side.

7. Glute Bridge – Glute bridges are a great way to work the glutes in hip extension. Even using just body weight, single leg glute bridges are a killer.

8. Hip Abduction– This helps strengthen the outer thigh and glute area which helps create the desired roundness to glutes.

What are your favorite glute exercises?

Staying Creative in Your Workouts

I like to think of myself as a creative person. Back before I had my son I loved drawing and painting. Now, however, since there is little time for my creative juices to flow in traditional ways I have to find other outlets. My fitness classes and programs have become that outlet.

Even if you don’t consider yourself creative there is value in being creative with your workout. For one thing, there is evidence that your body will “learn” how to use as little energy as possible when doing a familiar routine. Thus, for maximal calorie burn and to force your body to further adapt and change you need to change what you are doing. In addition, I really believe that a well rounded exercise program is the best way to have life-long health and well being. For example, if you only lift weights in a certain way, some smaller muscle groups may be neglected causing you to be weaker in some areas, which may lead to injury. You will also sacrifice flexibility and cardio health. In my opinion the optimal fitness program is one that changes with your body and incorporates strength, flexibility and cardiovascular training.

In this way I sort of look at my workouts and the classes I teach as a puzzle. Each experience is new and exciting to me with something else to be learned or gained.

So how can you incorporate creativity into your workouts? Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Take other people’s fitness classes- Even if it is not your thing you may learn something new. It’s especially good to take classes focused on something you don’t usually do. If you usually lift weights try a zumba or a spinning class. If you are all about cardio, try body pump or yoga. I have learned a lot over the years from working with different instructors. Sometimes just hearing cues in a different way can be really enlightening.

2. Go Beyond the Movement- In pilates we have 6 main principles: centering, concentration, coordination, breathing, precision and smooth and flowing movement. Sometimes, without even changing the exercises in a class I can create an entirely different experience just by focusing on different principles. You can do the same thing in whatever type of exercise you do or teach. Think of a goal or a purpose for your workout and try to achieve it.

3. Listen to Your Body- Some of the best workouts I have had are when I am listening to my body and just doing the things that feel right. For example, if it’s not a leg day and I feel like doing squats, I will throw some in. If I have a lot of energy one day I might do plyometrics between sets, if I feel like I need to take it back a notch, I might lift lighter weights really focusing on form.

4. Imagery- Did you know that the most effective cues are external. For example in squatting “drive your heels through the floor” is more effective than “flex your thighs.” I believe that this is imagery at work. By using imagery you can get clients (and yourself) to engage more muscle groups with fewer words. You can also create a new experience in the exercise by focusing on different images, thereby challenging your body in a new way. Imagery forces your mind to be engaged in the movement, which also helps you recruit more neuro-muscular connections.

5. Be a Life-long Learner- You tube makes this super easy! If you are curious about something all you have to do is plug it into youtube and BAM you have hundreds of video explanations at your finger tips. That said, don’t believe everything you see on the internet. Journal articles, books and workshops with experts are great too. One of my favorite fitness podcasts that discusses research articles ¬†can be found here. The point is to make sure that you are constantly learning and not stagnating. Push yourself out of your comfort zone occasionally.

Do you consider yourself to be creative? What are some ways you bring your creativity into your workouts?

Tips to Resist Halloween Candy

You know the scariest thing about Halloween? The average trick-or-treater consumes 3 cups of sugar and up to 7000 calories on Halloween night! It’s hard, as adults waiting around with big bowls of candy,¬†to resist nibbling on a Reese’s cup here and a KitKat there. And, even worse, if you don’t get many trick-or-treaters you may fall victim to the left over candy for weeks to come. Now that’s spooky!

But, don’t fear because I have a few tricks up my sleeve for helping you resist the candy temptation and keep your health and fitness goals on track.

1. Buy candy you don’t like- Don’t want to be tempted? Don’t buy candy you like. If you are a sucker for chocolate but hate hard candy, ¬†buy jolly ranchers. Hard candy also tends to have fewer calories and takes a longer to consume– which¬†leads to less consumption over all. If you can’t stand chocolate, load up on Hershey’s bars. That way¬†it won’t be hard to resist your treats.

2. Discard or Donate candy after the last trick-or-treater: I know, I know “you don’t want to waste the candy” but seriously, all those calories will be wasted in your body anyway. If you really can’t bring yourself to throw it away and/or if you are feeling philanthropic donate your candy to troops over seas. If you have kids of trick or treating age you can have them donate their candy as well.

3. Make a deal with yourself- I’m all about moderation and sometimes allowing yourself to have just one or two pieces of candy can help you resist mindlessly eating the left overs. After all, one fun size candy bar is not going to derail your goals and the fact that you are not completely denying yourself may make it easier for you to stay on track. However, limit yourself to one or two small pieces of your FAVORITE candy and then keep your hand out of the candy bowl for the rest of the night. If you know one candy is likely to lead to a binge of more, it may be better to skip this tip

4. Get some exercise in- Whether you go to the gym or spend time running or walking around your neighborhood, burning a few extra calories will help you set the tone of your day as a healthy one. Not to mention that vigorous exercise has been shown to suppress appetite.

5. Chew gum- Chewing gum is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth with few calories. Also chances are, if you have gum in your mouth you will be less likely to cram other Halloween goodies in it!

Hope you like these tips have a safe, happy and healthy Halloween!

Fit Bit: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

A line of new activity trackers have popped up– these trackers will tell you, how many miles and steps you walked, how many calories you burned, how many times you passed the “active” threshold and even how well you slept. Fit bit, Jawbone, and Body Media are a few brands that offer these devices.

I recently purchased the fit bit for myself. Since I am in off season, I am trying to bulk and I thought the fit bit would be a good way to track approximately how many calories I was burning so I could eat at a small surplus.

I had purchased a body media a few years before but it died after a few months and so did the replacement so I decided to try something new this time.

I was super excited to get my fit bit in the mail I even posted to my instagram @valeriewiest

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The first couple of days were really neat– there was a big difference in the number of steps I walked and calories burned on days when I taught classes vs. just working at the office or staying at home. It was great for setting a baseline to see how many calories I burned each day. I also found out that I burn lots more calories when I am on vacation even when I am not intentionally working out. In the past I have always felt that I have to cut way back on my eating when I am not officially “working out” so it was nice to realize that I could relax a little about that aspect. The sleep tracking feature is also really cool, you have to make sure you set it to sleep mode when you are going to bed, but it lets you know how many total hours you slept as well as how many minutes your were restless or awake. My favorite feature of all¬† is the silent alarm, which buzzes on your wrist waking you up gently each morning or discretely reminding you of tasks throughout the day.

Overall I think that most of the information you need to know can be gained from wearing the fit bit a week or two and noticing patterns in your activity level. Then using this information to adjust your eating and exercise habits to meet your goals. For example, since I am trying to build muscle, I need to eat at a surplus so it is important for me to know that on the days I teach classes I need to eat a little more because I am burning more calories. But once I know this, tracking everything daily didn’t matter that much since my schedule is pretty regular so I could expect the same patterns in activity to repeat.

After a few weeks with the fit bit, though, I was singing its praises. It has lasted longer that my body media, even though there are a few things I liked about my Body Media better (please leave a comment if you would like a comparison of the two devices). I felt like it was exactly what most people need to find out how many calories they are burning and avoid eating too much or too little. I think it also helps encourage people to be more active– take the stairs, walk vs. drive etc.

That is, until I started talking with one of my clients who is a therapist. She told me that a lot of people become addicted to the device in a bad way. They obsess over the numbers the fit bit displays and it can actually make them feel bad about themselves. Users may try to increase their steps or their calories burned each day forcing themselves to set higher and higher limits. Others, who can’t or won’t change their lifestyle start to feel bad about the numbers and feel that they are not good enough.

Once she said this I immediately realized how using a fit bit this way could be a problem for some. I wanted to throw it out there in case any of you have started noticing this with the use of this type of device. If you do, the therapist recommends leaving the device with a friend who you can trust for a week and seeing how it makes you feel.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried one of these devices? Did you like it?

Finiding Inspiration (For Fitness Instructors)

Hey guys! Hope you have been having a great week! I just got back from vacation (re-cap posts to follow). I wanted to write a little about finding inspiration and staying motivated.

As a group fitness instructor I am constantly looking for inspiration to keep my classes fresh and interesting. Same goes for my regular workouts. I am the type of person who easily falls into patterns so if I don’t consciously try to switch things up I get stuck doing the same routine over and over again.

Finding what inspires you is a process and what inspires one person may not necessarily inspire another person. Additionally, just finding the inspiration is not enough! It takes thought and effort to convert the inspiration into tangible action.

Here are some ways I find inspiration and how I put it into action:

1. Vacation- For some reason, taking a vacation always gets my creative juices flowing. Whether I am working out on different equipment or taking a class I wouldn’t normally take, I always come back from vacation refreshed and ready to share new ideas. This past vacation I took classes from a yoga instructor who was really into cuing breath. I can’t wait to focus on breathing this week with my clients!

2. Continuing Education- Never stop learning. I am always inspired by the knowledge and ideas I receive from passionate teachers. Anytime I feel like I am falling into a rut, I take a continuing education class. Even if the subject is (and sometimes especially because it is) completely unrelated to Pilates, I always find ways to relate what I learned back to my classes and even find ways to use the information to mix up my own workouts.

3. Go Back to Basics- During my training for my personal training certification I learned that there are three main ways to change an exercise- weight, tempo and range of motion. Whenever I feel like I am stuck in a rut I go back to the basics to find ways to change up my routine. Even something as simple as counting in a different way can make a huge difference.

4. Motivational/Informational articles, podcasts and videos- The internet provides a wealth of free information. Instead of browsing pictures of cats, check out some videos or podcasts with a positive message. You can also search for videos or articles on a particular subject that you are interested in. Some of my favorites are: Everyday is Saturday, Muscle Science and Application, Jillian Michaels’s Podcast

5. Taking Fitness Classes from Others- You can learn new things from every instructor, even the bad ones. Taking lots of classes and finding what you like or don’t like. Finding new exercises, new ways of doing an exercise or new ways of explaining and cuing exercises can be a great way to refresh and find inspiration. Feel free to “steal” other instructors information and make it your own!

6. Themes- No, I’m not talking Disco, Disney or Halloween, The themes I am talking about are more fitness related. I have done themes like focusing on flow, breathing or unilateral movement. For me, identifying a theme, gives my creativity a structure in which to flow. It helps me think of the exercises in a new way and helps me structure a¬† well designed plan.

As you can see from my examples, I get a lot of inspiration from gaining knowledge. For me expanding my mind helps me feel more inspired and creative. This may or may not work for you but feel free to explore these ideas as you try to find your own inspiration.

Although many of these Ideas are targeted to other fitness instructors you can apply them to other areas where you may need inspiration as well.

What inspires you?

XOXOX

FitVal

 

Post Competition Binge/Depression

Anyway, today I wanted to do a little post on post-competition blues/binging.

Preparing for a Photoshoot

One of my goals for this year was to do a fitness photo shoot to document the hard work that I have put into my body. Luckily my coached helped me schedule a group photo shoot (to reduce the costs) with my team mates and renowned photographer Brian Landis.

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Brian was a total pro and helped with posing and definitely made me feel comfortable but I wanted to share with you a few tips to help you prepare for a photo shoot in case you have not done one before. I had no clue what to expect when I arrived at the photo shoot and I was VERY nervous.

1. Choose a great photographer- This may seem self explanatory but it really is key to your photo shoot success. Remember, you get what you pay for and if you are doing a free photo shoot expect to work with someone who is not as experienced and just building their portfolio.

Try looking for images you like online or in magazines and find out who did the photographs. Ask around, if a a friend is posting gorgeous professional pics on social media ask her who she worked with and how her experience was.

A good photographer will know lighting, help guide you in your poses and make you feel comfortable without pressuring you.

Another point is that if you shoot with a published photographer and they like working with you they may decide to have your pictures published. This can be a great way to break into fitness modeling!

2. Learn how to pose- It is always a good idea to practice your posing and know what looks good on your body before you do a photo shoot. Also understanding what you want your photos to convey and how to show that. Here are a few links to some guides on how to pose:

 

3. What to bring- Clothes, clothes and more clothes! Bring more than you think you will need, but at least 6-8 looks. Try one your looks before your photo shoot and make sure everything looks good together. You will want to bring a few pairs of shoes to go with your looks too. Usually dramatic more extreme fashion statements are great for photo shoots. Some photographers work with a stylist and will bring clothes you can wear– so ask what they recommend. In addition here is a list of items you may want to bring:

  • Baby oil
  • Make-up for touch ups at least a lip gloss, powder and blush.
  • Scissors- you never know when they might come in handy
  • Snacks- make sure you have healthy fuel that will make you feel great
  • Music- Something fun to help get you in the mood

4. Hair and Make-up:  Unless you are really great at doing your own hair or make-up I recommend hiring someone to do it for you. This will ensure that you look your best in your pictures. Bring touch-up make-up or ask your stylist for a touch-up kit. Ask your photographer who they recommend for hair and make-up if you are not sure where to go. A good photographer will have a great network of professionals to recommend.

5. Body Prep: You want to go into your photo shoot looking great but you don’t have to be completely ripped. A softer look can be great for photo shoots. If you are a competitor, a few days after your competition is a great time to book your photo shoot because you will have that left over glow from your spray tan and you’ll still be in great shape if you don’t go too overboard on your after competition meals! Also make sure your skin looks great by staying hydrated and applying lotion.

I hope this post was helpful. Good luck on your photo shoot!