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Spinach for Popeye, Spinach for Me

On the way home from the gym late this evening, I noticed a beautiful full moon. And it occurred to me that strange things always seem to happen when a full moon is out: the JMU kiddos (go Dukes!) always tend to party a little harder, my dogs always seem to be a bit more restless, sirens tend to wail all night long (I hear them right now), and I always seem to feel a little bit more “puffy and bloated” than usual.

Ok, I’m totally making up that last one, but I promise the rest are true. While I’d like to convince myself that the pull of the Earth’s tides in correspondence with the full moon are also pulling my fat cells into overdrive, I’m pretty sure my feelings of “softness” are coming from a little too much indulgence over the Thanksgiving holiday. Not to mention that I did not end up working out as hard as normal/or as I had planned. No worries…a little time off is great for rest and muscle building, and bloat happens to the best of us. Good news is that it’s an easy fix. If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you know I eat really low carb six days of the week, and pick one day a week to have a little carb splurge. And by little, I mean I eat everything in sight. ;) It works well to replenish glycogen stores that are depleted during the week. Some people employ this same theory–called carb back-loading–except they splurge five to six days per week and eat low carb for one or two. The catch with back-loading is making sure that you lift very very heavy every day that you splurge. Also, the splurges are controlled to a small degree: you don’t eat carbs all day, just after training: You deplete glycogen during the day, lift ridiculously heavy in the evening, and then refuel at night. But I love back-loading for the one reason that it works around the holidays. I wanted to eat carbs for three days and I actually ate them for four. My five foot tall frame probably indulged a bit more than I should have and I didn’t do much lifting. Thus, I think I might have softened my look a bit. I won’t lie, I’m not perfect. I splurge on sweets–I love them–but I know I can also practice what I preach and fix the damage. So that’s what I’m going to do.

I thought I’d post my “fix-it plan” just in case anyone else might be looking for a few low-carb meal ideas that are easy to stick to and not too bad for taste. One of the ways to shed a little fat is to deplete glycogen stores by eating ultra low carb. The best way to do this is for an extended period of time. I typically refuel once per week to aid in muscle growth, but for a quick fix and a great way to re-start my plan, I’ll simply extend my six days to ten so that I’m prepping my body for fat loss. Would you dare to eat ultra low carb (30 grams or less) for ten full days? I’m planning on throwing a Thanksgiving/Christmas meal (I call it my Thanks-Mas dinner) on the 15th so I might even extend my low-carbness til then. Can I hold out for 17 days? And who dares to take this challenge with me?

What do I do? Steph’s Typical Low-Carb Day:

  • I skip breakfast but I drink probably 20 ounces or more of black coffee. Why skip breakfast? If you haven’t read the latest on skipping breakfast for fat loss, read it here: Skipping Breakfast. You can also find more information by clicking here: Dangerously Hardcore, as well as here: Carb-Backloading.
  • For lunch I think I’m going to switch back to an old standby: spinach, tuna, and almonds. I know, it’s incredibly boring but it works. Spinach is FULL of vitamins, fiber, minerals, etc. And just look at Popeye! Hello muscles! ;) And tuna is PACKED with protein. Usually over 26+ grams for a can. I get my good fats from almonds but my downfall is eating too many. I’ll be sure to count out a small handful to pack in my lunch. I think 14 almonds equals about 100 calories. Apple cider vinegar is what I use to pour over my spinach and tuna and plain mustard adds all the flavor I need. I know it’s nothing crazy, but I’m not about packing a crazy different lunch every day that takes hours of prep time. I mean, it’s 11:40 right now and I’d really like to get at least six hours of sleep tonight. Less, if I decide to do some intervals in the morning. (Is that still likely at this point?)
  • As a snack and pre-workout energy boost, I’ve created a shake that I ADORE. Call me crazy but again, it’s super simple: 1 cup plain (30 calorie and sugar free) almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla whey protein, and 1 scoop of Amazing Grass Supergreens (chocolate flavored). I love this concoction. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals, high in protein, low in sugar and carbs. This shake, coupled with a cup of coffee, is usually all the energy boost I need for a stellar workout.
  • For dinner, I used to struggle with this one. I’m at my HUNGRIEST at night. But lately I’ve found a meal that’s quick to prepare, tasty, and even filling too. I buy ground turkey, cook it up with low sodium taco seasoning, and have a heaping helping over top a steamer bag of veggies. I top the whole thing with medium (I like a kick!) organic salsa, and I try to cut back on the cheese when my will power holds strong. This is a great dish, and I had no idea how well taco meat mixes with brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and spinach. (I alternate between these veggies because they’re my favorite, super good for me, and when I like something I stick with it. I don’t change things very often.)
  • Some days (like today) I’m so busy I can get by with just this. Others, I need a little more. My go-to snacks for eating low carb are cottage cheese (I could eat cottage cheese three times a day if I let myself) and hard boiled eggs (dipped in a spicy sauce of some sort–usually mustard.) Again, neither are exciting but both are simple, quick, great for on the go, and high in protein, low in carbs.
While this will make up the bulk of my diet, there are a few REALLY important elements that I need to add–and too often forget about during a busy day. These are super important (did I just say that twice?!) and I–as well as all of us–need to remember these tips!
  • Get SLEEP! Ugh, I never get enough sleep. I’m running a website that’s brand new, working a full time job, and teaching gym classes on the side. Oh and WORKING OUT! Let’s not forget keeping a somewhat neat house, preparing for the holidays, taking care of three animals….sleep is the last thing on my to-do list, and the first thing to get neglected. (It’s now 11:51).
  • drink WATER. Most of my bodybuilding companions are pounding a gallon by the time they even get to the gym. Some days I do really well and some days I don’t. My goal is to get at least 96 oz. That’s about three water bottles for me. (A gallon is about 120 ounces.) Today I think I’ve had 64 plus 20 ounces coffee (I know, that doesn’t count), and some pumpkin spice hot tea. (I know, that doesn’t count either.) So I really need to step it up and make sure I hit my goal.
  • Take my VITAMINS. I’ve experimented with so many supplements and vitamins over the years that it’s a miracle I’ve narrowed down my list to my favorite go-to items: A multivitamin, fish oil, and glucosamine are probably my most important. I sometimes add D3 and a B complex if I can remember those, too. Now if I can just figure out a way to remember to take all of these each day, life would already be better.
  • Drink a POST WORKOUT SHAKE. Ok, this one isn’t that hard to remember, but I need to be better about it. Some days I just rush home from the gym and start dinner. I think I would actually eat less if I made myself a protein shake first. My shakes are also very simple: whey, ice, water, leucine (an amino acid) and some unsweetened cocoa powder. Simple. Effective. DO IT.
Workout Goals:
I workout every day, but it doesn’t mean I can’t set new goals for myself. Just yesterday I talked to one of my bodybuilder friends and he gave me about ten different exercise ideas to add to my routine. I spent about an hour or more today just reformatting my plan to squeeze in as much in as possible. I’m also DETERMINED to wake up at least 30 minutes earlier each day (it’s now midnight) so that I can do some fasted cardio. One of these days I want to do an article on the benefits of fasted cardio, but until then, just know it’s great for aiding in fat loss, and it’s in my plan. I also want to add more HIIT to my lifting plans…incorporate maybe 10-15 minutes of HIIT each day as my warm up to lifting. Making myself do HIIT more often will definitely help me see results.
If I can employ all these ideas and tips into my day, I know I’ll be well on my way to a leaner, fitter, tighter, ME. And isn’t that what we’re all here to find? I don’t just want to be STRONG, I want to be a FIGURE: a figure of success, a figure of power, and a figure of great, toned, well-developed muscles. Who’s in? Who’s accepting the STRONG FIGURE challenge?
Let us know! What’s your go-to meal? Give us some inspiration or some fun recipes in the comments section below.
Like this post?  Visit me over at Strong Figure. When it comes to health and fitness, this site is my baby.
PS: It’s now 12:20 and I’m officially off to bed. I’ll proofread in the morning. (After cardio?!)

Featured Image by SweetOnVeg

What Are You Doing Online?

Did you know…

that 30 percent of the world’s population is online? Over 79 percent of the United States is currently online and 35 billion minutes each month is spent connected to the worldwide web. In the US alone, the average internet user spends 32 hours per month online–that’s at least one hour per day! And do you know what people are doing online? Over 63 percent of the time spent online is being used for networking, reading content, and searching.

So what does this mean for your business?

It means that over two billion people could be searching, promoting, or reading content off your website–right now. Internet marketing is larger than ever right now. Google–the largest search engine–is searched over one billion times each day.

What exactly are people searching for?

Eighty-three percent of searches are related to health or hobbies. Do you have a hobby that you can showcase online? What about health or fitness? It’s January–if you don’t have a resolution, someone does and that person may need your advice! My hobby happens to be fitness–particularly lifting weights and eating low carb. Check out my site–designed by Walker Logic, over at Strong Figure!

Speaking of hobbies, how many people like to try new products? Seventy-eight percent of online users are searching for information about new products. Maybe you’re a technology buff and you know all the in’s and out’s of the newest, latest devices? Publish your thoughts online! You don’t have to be a stellar writer, you just need opinion, a little bit of fact, and trustworthy advice to give. Freelance writers are just waiting for you to “search for them” and hire them to write your content for you.

Aside from New Year’s resolutions and trying out new products, 76 percent of the online population is reading about the news. NEWS! You don’t have to be a hired journalist to report the news–all you need is to be “in the know” and have an opinion that others would want to read. Maybe you know a lot about politics and you have your own rant on the previous election that you’d like to announce. What better way to release those thoughts than to broadcast your opinion to over 2 billion people?! Maybe you could care less about government actions but you just can’t stop yourself from getting caught up in the latest Kardashian gossip? People who love to gossip always have an opinion. Maybe it’s time to put yours to the test.

Whatever it is you’re doing online, billions of others are doing the same. And who’s to say that what you have to offer isn’t better than anyone else? Whether blogging, promoting your company, appealing to shoppers, or just promoting your agenda, we’ve got a forum for you. It’s YOUR personal site–designed just as you see it.

Contact us to see just how we can help you further your networking and marketing goals in 2013. Don’t wait until someone else has stolen your idea–the worldwide web is waiting for your contribution!

We want to know–what do you spend most of your time online doing? Emails? Business? Social Networking? Shopping? Pinning? Let us know in the comments section below!

In the meantime, check out this awesome infographic on “How People Spend Their Time Online.”

Reference: http://www.go-gulf.com/blog/online-time/
Infographic by- GO-Gulf.com Dubai Web Design Company
Featured image by Kevin Zollman

The View from Above

I look to my left, and there’s a man–a kind of large one–with his head tilted in my direction, mouth slightly open, and snoring just loud enough for me to hear but not bothering anyone else around us.  I look to my right and I see another man–eyes closed, head resting aginst the seat back, arm on the fold-out table, and not snoring.  He looks quite peaceful, still.  I look out the window on my right beyond the non-snoring man and watch the red flashing light of the plane’s wing light up the darkness, and I wonder how many people can see us from the ground. The light–the red–the flash–seems so bright outside the window, against the distant stars, but I know all too well from my life on the ground that the blinknig looks like nothing more than a long-distant wink from the sky.

The man on my left coughs. I assume he’s awake. He stops snoring, but I don’t look at him. I do look back to the man on my right. Still sleeping. Still silent. Still perfect. His thumb twitches. I think to myself how I can’t live without him. He shifts, folds his arms, leans his head toward me and directs his face to the window. His eyes are still closed but I doubt he’s sleeping.

The big guy on my left is snoring again. I still don’t look at him, but I do look back out the window. The red flashes illuminate the wings of the plane but all I seem to focus on are the stars. And I can’t help but find myself wondering, “am I…could I be…just for a moment…a little bit closer, a little bit nearer, to the man I’ve been aching to see?” I wonder if, just for these few hours that I sit here in the sky, if he’s watching me–the same way I watch this man to my right–or listen to this man on my left. I wonder if he feels a little bit closer to me as well–as if I popped up for a brief visit. Maybe he’s laughing at me because he knows it’s foolish to think that a plane ride will bring me closer to him. Maybe he feels sorry for me for the exact same reason. I think he might be…proud. Proud.  I think he might be proud. Of me. Of the person I’ve become over the past 30 years. Of the person I’ve grown into since he left.

I think he approves of the life I’m building for myself and I think he even approves of the man–the quiet man, the perfect man–on my right. The perfect man–that I can’t live without–wakes up, adjusts the arm rest, puts his head on my shoulder. He smiles and kisses my arm and I know I’m right. And I suddenly feel like a pretty lucky girl. Because I have one perfect man to love me, protect me, and live my dreams out loud with me; and I have another man, doing the exact same thing, within me. And that man–the best I’ve ever known–is saying to me, “You looked beautiful this weekend–standing on the cliff, overlooking the ocean; I was with you then, and I’m with you now.” And he’s grinning, because, well, that’s what he does when he’s happy. And he’s happy because he knows I know his mind, his thoughts. And as my plane starts its descent, he’s taught me that the sky isn’t where I’m closest to his heart, his heart is within me and beats through mine and lives through me. And he says to me, “If you listen, I’m always talking. Sending you love, hugs, and approval. You told me not to worry about you, so let go of worrying about me. I’m right here, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m your dad,” he says. With a smile.the cliff