A month ago, I asked my followers and readers to send me their health and fitness questions. The most common inquiry I got was what was my typical week like, how often I train and what I eat on a daily basis, and what helped me achieve my goals.
Now first thing – what works for me might not work for you. I figured out through many years of trial and tribulations what my body reacts to best. Personally, I see health and fitness (no dieting, I don’t believe in that) as a way of life. Working out is like brushing my teeth, I have to do it. I also try and make healthy eating choices every single day. It’s never perfect but it works for me.
I workout minimum 3 times per week.
Strength Training/High Intensity Intervals
I hired a personal trainer a few years ago as a way to kick things up a notch and take my fitness to the next level. Personal training isn’t cheap, but I believe investing in your body should be a priority and so I make adjustments so that I can afford it because it makes me feel good and translates to all other facets of my life.
I can’t reiterate this enough, when you feel good/strong/healthy/fit, it makes all aspects of your life better. It helps grow your confidence and you have more energy, which will translate in you kicking ass at your job and life.
Anyway, I digress.
3 times a week we strength train, we lift heavy, work the full body. Andrew, my trainer also known as @theeverythingbagel on Instagram, changes my workouts and also keeps track of my progress.
If you want to achieve your fitness goals, build that fucking muscle. The more muscle you have, the better your metabolism and, well, the better you look. Running for hours on a treadmill will not get you a six pack of abs or a tight butt. It all comes from lifting weights. And to the woman asking, “Will I look bulky?” No, you will not. It’s virtually impossible unless you’re taking an insane amount of supplements or, to the extreme, taking steroids. You’ll just look HOT AF.
When I’m not working out with Andrew, I try and do some cardio. I either take a spin class or go for a run in the summer. Sometimes I like to change it up and try any of the awesome classes you can check out all over Jersey City. I really don’t do as much cardio as I used to, and I am in better shape. I think focusing on lifting heavy (which also raises your heart rate) worked for me best. I do cardio because it’s great for stress relief, calorie burn, and I think it’s super fun.
I hate the word diet. Because it doesn’t work! It’s not sustainable. You’ll lose a bunch of weight at first, but can you really deny all the good food forever? No! I think what worked for me is really listening to my body. I eat when Im hungry, I stop when I’m full. If I am craving a burger, I will eat it till I am satisfied, enjoy every bite and move on with my life. But then the next meal, maybe I’ll eat something really light, or if I am not hungry at all, I won’t eat. I just listen to myself.
Every morning, I do make a point to eat a healthy light breakfast. Eating in the morning is important. It sets the tone for the day. What works for me is eating two hard boiled eggs. Sometimes, if I am extra hungry, I’ll add toast or fruit or half an avocado.
Then I get busy with work and don’t think about food till my belly is growling. It’s time to eat… and you know what? Sometimes I get so busy that I just grab a quick snack, and sometimes I am so hungry that I eat a big meal. It really just depends. It ebbs and flows, if that makes sense. I wasn’t always like this, I used to live by calorie counting, meal planning, diets, rules. So this new way of thinking changed my life. I feel calm around food. I know my favorite foods are always accessible and always going to be there, so why stress about it?
So yes. You can eat pizza and have abs.
Every once in a while, when I feel like I am overdoing it with food and drinks, I will sometimes do a 3-5 day reset/cleans with Busy Bee Organics. It’s not a diet per se, but you’re eating a meal plan for a few days that helps rid of the crap in your body. I haven’t done one in a while, but this cleanse definitely helped me in previous years to learn about portion control and how much food I actually needed. It also helped me realize how much I snack because I am bored/emotional. I recommend this to anyone who needs a jump start.
Trying to do this once a week, it’s been hard but I know whenever I do yoga or some sort of meditation, I feel revived. Yoga/meditation helps with stress and sleeping. So if you can incorporate this into your weekly life, I recommend it. I’m working on that, too!
Dieting & Food
How do you balance social drinking with a fitness routine & healthy eating?
Everything in moderation. I never skip on working out. Getting your metabolism to a point where you’re able to allow yourself a cocktail here and there. When I do go out and drink, I usually don’t have more than two drinks. When I’m really trying to watch my weight, I stick to clear liquor. Vodka sodas are pretty low calorie and get the job done.
I need healthy snacks! Any recommendations?
I’m not really the person to give advice on snacks because my whole way of eating is I eat when I’m hungry and what I’m craving. I feel like having snacks around you will make you eat them even when you’re not hungry. I like to keep fruits and vegetables and nuts around the apartment so when I need a quick treat, I’ll usually grab that. Chickpeas are an excellent snack. They’re high in protein and fiber, and they keep me pretty full.
Do you typically meal plan for the entire day, or is it day by day?
I never meal plan. I really go based on how I feel and what I’m craving. I’ll sometimes order some healthy food from Busy Bee Organics so I can have something healthy for my lunches. But I typically just listen to my body and what it wants. I feel like meal planning can be good to reach certain goals, but if you want true and sustainable weight loss, you have to program yourself to get in touch with your body and listen to it so your body will tell you when you’re full and it’ll eventually regulate itself.
Protein shakes for breakfast, what is the best brand for weight loss? Do you add milk or water?
I occasionally make a vegan protein smoothie. It’s really filling and delicious, and super healthy. I prefer using vegan proteins for my protein shake.
What is your nutritional plan for cutting fat?
Drink a lot of water. I start very morning with 2-3 glasses of water. Your body is very thirsty after sleeping for a whole night, and it’s very important to replenish those fluids. It kicks up your metabolism and helps with fat burning. Your body will sometimes think it’s hungry when it’s thirsty. You’re less likely to overeat throughout the day when you keep yourself hydrated. It’s no secret that sticking to a diet that consists of mostly vegetables, lean proteins, and fruits can help you achieve your goals quicker along with staying away from processed foods. But again, we do not believe in diets.
What type of diet or way of eating do you follow?
I eat what I want when I want. I eat when I’m hungry, I stop when I’m full. When I overeat, I’m not hard on myself. I don’t make it a big deal because then you fall into this endless cycle. I just acknowledge why I overeat and move on. I try to stay away from junk food as much as possible.
I’m trying Keto for the first time and want to know good ways to sweeten my morning coffee.
What about personal trainers in the Jersey City area? I’d rather give them my money than Lucille Roberts.
There are a ton of awesome local trainers in the JC area. I workout with Andrew (@theeverythingbagel) and he’s fantastic. If not him, you can check out Charlie and Prosper Private Training. You can also check out our guide we wrote for the new year that outlines classes and training.
How do I do a full body workout at home/outside instead of paying for a gym?
There’s tons of information online. You can do body exercises, squats, pushups, tricep dips, ab workouts, jumping jacks, too many to name. You can easily create a workout based on your needs. There’s also some great areas in Jersey City where you can work out, go for a run or walk. You have Liberty State Park for a run, or Berry Lane Park with a track and outdoor gym. I’ll definitely be taking advantage of that when it gets warmer!
What type of workouts do you do? And which do you feel made the most impact on your body?
I do strength training 3 times a week. I try to take a spin class once or twice a week. Every now and then, I’ll do yoga. When it’s summer, I try to go for a jog as well. What’s made the most impact on my fitness was definitely work ing with a personal trainer. I’ve been lifting weights for many years, but only in the last two years did I decide to invest in personal training. Having that person keep me accountable and push me has definitely helped. I think strength training is extremely important to achieve fitness, weight loss, and overall wellness because the stronger you become, the more muscles you have, the faster your metabolism is, and your body gets to a point where it becomes a fat-burning machine. Since I’ve been doing that for the past few years, that’s why I’ve been able to eat and drink what I like. My body has become very efficient.
If you had to choose one, weights or cardio?
Weights. With weights, you can really work hard and get your heart rate up. In a way, while you’re lifting, you can also increase your cardiovascular endurance.
Favorite core exercises?
The plank is a good exercise. Every time you do it, try to increase the time. It’s really hard, I start sweating within a minute. Russian Twists are great to hit the side of your abs. When working out, you should always keep your core engaged and it should be a part of all your workouts.
I’m over 300lbs right now – how do you recommend someone get started?
Start small. I think the biggest mistake people make when they embark on a journey is do too much and then very quickly burn out. The best thing you can do is find something you enjoy – walking, Zumba, bootcamp. Try different things and find something you think you can stick to a few days a week. Set mini goals. start with working out, moving your body, and focusing on how it feels and how it feels after, and then you can start cleaning up your diet and drinking more water. Instead of eliminating foods, add more fruits and veggies, and hopefully that’ll deter you from eating things that are not good for you. Start listening to your body and after you eat certain things, check in with yourself and see how you feel. I do recommend working with a personal trainer, especially if you’re new to exercising, so they can teach you how to do the movements properly and they can incorporate workouts based on your activity level and your capabilities. You have to start slow as you need to create new habits. If you go all out, you’re more likely to fall out of it.
What do you suggest for help with accountability? I’m between shows and need to get back in shape.
You’re only cheating yourself. If you don’t stay accountable, you won’t get the results you want. If you have certain goals in mind, you won’t achieve them. What’s the point? I always tell myself when I have a hard time waking up to go work out, “You never regret a workout.” After going to the gym, you feel accomplished. When I eat a pizza, I want to eat the whole thing but I know I won’t feel great. It’s all about training your mind to focus on how you feel before, during, and after working out and eating.
Where do you get your workout clothes? I always struggle finding ones?
I like Victoria’s Secret, they usually have some cute stuff. Forever 21 sometimes has good deals. I also subscribe to something called Sweat Style where they send me a curated box of fitness clothes every 3 months. You get to try it on and there’s free returns.
How do you maintain your fitness goals while still enjoying your life?
It’s all about balance. Again, I don’t skimp out on working out. Every day, you need to figure out how to balance it all. If I know I’m going to dinner with friends, I eat a light breakfast and lunch, I drink a lot of water, and when I’m out to dinner I focus on the company and not so much on eating. I also got my body into good enough shape that a few cheat meals here and there don’t affect me as much as they used to.
How do you wake up so early? What do you feel makes the most impact in losing weight?
I set an alarm. I jsut train myself to be a morning person and wake up early. I’m most efficient in the mornings. What also helps is putting your workout clothes by your bed. It helps keep you accountable. It’s having some sort of date with a friend or personal trainer or a signed up class so there’s no excuses. I know I’ll feel good and get it done. The biggest impact in losing weight is definitely strength training and working with a trainer. Even if you do it just a few times so they can create a program for you to follow, it’ll make a world of a difference. Even if you don’t have the budget for a personal trainer, there are many awesome local fitness classes that are small in nature but still will push you.
As a female, I struggle during my monthly cycle, I tend to eat a lot more than I normally would. Is there anything you’d suggest?
We all struggle during this time. I think we need to not be so hard on yourself when your body’s going through these hormonal changes. You also might be vitamin deficient, so I recommend taking a multivitamin for women. That’s why we tend to crave meat and chocolate. A good vitamin supplement may help you eat less during your cycle. Funny enough, working out can help with PMSing and helps with blood flow. It helps with your general mood, and decreases your need to eat.
How can I have my wine AND abs?
Again, everything in moderation. Wine can be good for you, just one glass per day. It’s said to be healthy.