performance

By now you all know I’ve been paleo for a good 10 months. My body is loving me, and I’m like, so freaking full of energy all the time I could run up a wall. Wahooo! But seriously, never felt better, healthier or happier. Being an extremely active person who trains almost everyday, if not 2x a day, I need plenty of fuel and nutrition to keep my body running nicely. Our bodies are machines, and the food and supplements we put into it is the fuel for it to run off of.

My simple rules for keeping my performance up and my body and mind strong: keep it clean, lots of water, plenty of rest and move more. This is my lifestyle, and while I know it’s not for everyone, here are my essentials for those of you who want to 1) keep it paleo, and 2) increase performance. Aspiring ninja’s welcome.

 

1. Bulletproof coffee. MCT oil + butter in my coffee? You better believe it. I have never been a coffee drinker in my entire life (until 2 months ago), and always felt sluggish and sickly after drinking a cup o’ joe. Turns out bad coffee is to blame. Read about Bulletproof Coffee on their site because they explain it better than I can. And learn about grass-fed AKA good butter vs. bad butter and why grass-fed butter is awesome here. I start almost every morning with a cup of BPC with my breakfast then workout 90 minutes later. My performance and brain power has increased significantly and I love it. #ninjastatus

2. Yams + starchy vegetables . My one issue with the paleo diet is the tendency, or choice, to be super low-carb. Carbs are not the devil; rather the opposite, it’s just about choosing the right carbs to fuel your body, build muscle, replenish glycogen stores and feel fueled. A lot of people who go paleo will immediately drop significant weight due to the removal of all breads, pastas, cereals, starchy foods, etc. Then they hit a plateau and have difficulty losing remaining fat, or “leaning out”. Carbs are vital for athletes and highly active individuals, but should be consumed at the right time. I came from a place of low-carb eating slash severely damaged metabolism so adding a lot of high quality complex carbs was terrifying. Once I realized my depletion and lack of energy was related to my low-carb diet, I upped the carbs and now notice a nice hum in my metabolism. I eat plenty of yams, squash, zucchini, and even red potatoes if I need the extra carbs surrounding my workouts or at night before bed. An example of what this looks like is: slow-digesting carbs before a workout (yams), fast-digesting carbs post-workout (banana and/or berries blended in a recovery smoothie), and then 1 cup homemade paleo coconut milk ice cream or grass-fed greek  yogurt before bed. I usually go to bed pretty full, and wake up with abs. I still eat plenty of healthy fats and protein, and keep it all in balance. It’s about balance, people.

3. Glutamine + BCAA’s. Essential for recovery, muscle repair, soreness, fat loss, metabolism and everything nice. To read about BCAA’s you can go here, or for L-glutamine, here. I get mine on Amazon! Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules and Optimum Nutrition Glutamine Capsules are my favorite.

4. Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance. While you can’t actually eat this, you can consume it in other ways. The buzz surrounding Kelly Starrett’s book was deafening in the CrossFit community, and for good reason. I picked it up last week and have used it everyday since. For any ache or ailment, there is a mobility prescription to fix you. Flexibility and mobility is ESSENTIAL for healthy muscles and performance. Go buy the book! No need to thank me.

5. High quality protein. We are big on grass-fed and pastured meats and eggs. We love our protein, but understand that there is a significant difference in grain-fed meat vs. grass fed. The nutritional profiles of the opposing groups is crazy! We are omnivores, but make it a point to seek out high quality foods if we are going to eat meat. Being in the countryside of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the local farms are in abundance. We love that! We eat grass-fed beef a couple times a week, organic + pastured chicken and eggs regularly, pastured pork and bacon, and bison when we can find it! And as for whey protein supplements? We love Progenex and Formulx. Read more about the importance of grass-fed beef here. And buy your own here.

Cheers to being better humans! I’m back from a long summer vacation, and an actual vacation in Florida. Time to kick things up a notch.

 

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bikini season

1. Aviators \ 2. Despi Bikini \ 3. Isabel Weekender \ 4. Isapera Sandals \ 5. Wappo Bracelet \ 6. Seafolly Kaftan (ON SALE!)

Summer is my all. time. favorite. thing. ever.  Popsicles, neon toenails, ripped cutoffs, beachy waves, sunkissed skin, summer concerts, late night swimming, sandals, bikinis, bright colors, the smell of the ocean… I could go on forever, but you get it.

I gotta say, this will probably be the first summer of my life that I’m not feeling self conscious in a bikini. I’ve always been into fitness, but since starting CrossFit this past winter? I kinda feel like a whole new woman. I feel confident and strong! It’s taken me a lot to actually say that, but when Kyle and I went to the beach a few weekends ago, I was rockin’ my new Despi bikini (thank you Orchid Boutique!) and feeling awesome. I want to help you feel awesome, too! Let’s do this!!

 

Here are a few tips for feeling awesome in your bathing suit this season…

1. GO workout! Yeah, if you thought I wasn’t gonna say this you were wrong. Go to the gym, lift some weights, squat every week (air squatfront squat, back squat), get your heart rate up, stretch, recover, repeat. Or just find a really good CrossFit gym in your area with excellent coaches who teach good form and join! Best investment ever. There, I said it.

2. Quit gluten and grains. That crap makes you bloat. If you don’t think this applies to you, then you’ve probably been living bloated for a long time now (like I was) and you don’t even know the amazingness that is a flat tummy. Gassiness and bloating after dinner is not normal. Gluten and grains have lecithins that are hard for the body to digest and can cause a very acidic environment in the stomach. If you need more information about why gluten and grains are slowly killing you, go here, here and here. We are all very different, but I have yet to meet someone who is grain-free and says they aren’t healthier.

3. Eat LOTS of green vegetables. Green veggies (think: kale, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, swiss chard) have lots of water in them and are loaded with fiber! These foods help keep your — eh hem — insides clean, limit bloating and digestive problems, and are fantastic for fat loss! Any questions?

4. Drink ~1 gallon of water a day. You need to hydrate. It’s hot out there. Your skin will start to crinkle (ew) if you’re dehydrated. Drink up already!

5. Don’t starve yourself, woman! If I had a dollar for every time a woman told me she was watching her calories more closely now that it’s bikini season, I’d be freaking retired. Here’s something for ya: if you’re eating less than what your body needs, your body goes into fat storing mode because you aren’t feeding it enough. Good food is fuel to the body, and keeps the metabolism purring like a Jaguar. Eat enough clean calories so your body functions properly, you can fuel your workouts (assuming you’re already kicking ass), and so your body doesn’t store unwanted fat. Also, no one likes a hangry girl, just sayin’.

 

Do you have any tips for feeling good this summer? How are you feeling about “bikini season”?

 

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Spring is around the corner (only 17 days away!) and I’m positively antsy for warm weather! We just got back from a week in South Florida and I have a nice tan and am more than ready to run outside without gloves and earmuffs on. I can’t wait to work out at our box with the garage doors flung wide open. Let me tell you that coming back to PA wasn’t easy at all. I’m excited to come out of winter hibernation and kick my training up a notch or two! Getting serious about your fitness around spring time is usually easier than making it to the gym in the dead of winter. Are you ready to tighten up your bikini body and get sweaty in the gym? Here are my favorite training pieces I’m eyeing up for Spring.

1. Ultra Speed Cable Jump Ropes
2. Lululemon Do It Up Duffel Bag
3. Nike Pro Compression Short
4. Polar Insulated Water Bottle
5. Trigger Point Foam Roller
6. Nike Free Run 3 Running Shoe
7. Under Armour StrappyLux Tank
8. Under Armour Hat

Make an action plan to get ready for Spring! Cut out sweets and eat plenty of leafy greens. Try an organic juice cleanse (I really liked Blue Print) and sign up for a class at your local gym. Start making healthier choices NOW. Waiting only means you’ll be late in the game… and around here it’s all about being on the ball (literally and figuratively).

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Dude. Spring is coming! How it is already February 14th, I haven’t the slightest clue. But if it brings me one day closer to bare legs and green grass? I’ll take it! So if we’re all honest with ourselves, we all have some tinge of apprehension going on on the inside. The “OMG, my bikini bod needs work” thought races through all our minds. So what do we do? We search for inspiration! For direction! Motivation! We hang up last year’s red bikini in our rooms, plaster ripped out Victoria Secret catalogue pages all over our wall, we snag the latest SHAPE and Fitness Magazine from the nearest drugstore. We’re all “yeah!” and “abs by April!”… and then… merp… the “inspiration” dies within a week and we find ourselves hiding with a bag of chocolate chips on the couch watching Meet Me in St. Louis in sweats. This is where a lot of the self-loathing stuff happens. Oh? Just me? Well I’ll be…

Ok, so that used to be me! Then I stopped looking at all these unrealistic sources of “inspiration” and just did something really simple. Stupid simple. Really.

1. I wrote down my goals. Think specific. Down to the detail. One of my goals that I wrote down in 2012 was to be able to perform an unassisted handstand push-up. Guess what? Done and done. You HAVE to write down attainable, detailed goals and plaster them somewhere you can see them. Daily reminders, people. (For example, some of my fitness goals for 2013 are to be able to perform a muscle up, and power clean 95 lbs)

2. Then I made a schedule. An appointment book with myself, if you will (these are the most important appointments, hello!). “Erika, you have a date with barbells every morning at this specific time. Be there or be flabby.”

4. I replaced all of the negative thoughts I had about myself and my body with positive ones. I decided that I needed to love myself before I could accept love from anyone else and find happiness in my own skin. Self-love is a real thing, and if you don’t have it, you’re sorely missing out. Once you start filling your mind with positive thoughts about yourself and your body, you become your own best friend. Start with finding something you like about yourself and verbally say why it’s pretty awesome. For example, I think it’s pretty awesome how strong my legs have gotten, and I remind myself of this daily.

5. Then I just did it. Some days I didn’t. But then I felt dumb and lazy, so the next day I worked out twice as hard. Over time, it got easier and easier. It started to suck less and then I formed a habit. Then my days started to feel odd when I didn’t work out. Years later, working out is one of the best parts of my day! I can’t wait to work out, sincerely. It takes time to get to that point, but if you’re willing to make some effort and stop making excuses, you can do it too.

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Some of you are going to think I’m absolutely crazy for making it sound so simple. But it’s really up to us, isn’t it? We can make it as hard or as easy as we want to. When we tell ourselves that it’s hard before we’ve even tried… well, let’s just say it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. Not pretty, huh? If you’re not going to be your own biggest cheerleader, you won’t get very far in the gym – or life, for that matter.

You have to take baby steps to form a lifelong habit of health. Everything is progress. 

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So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve partnered up with Violet Love Headbands to give away three gorgeous headbands! You can wear them at the gym, while you’re washing your face, out on a date (they’re that cute), or wherever you please. They don’t give you those annoying headband headaches or snag your hair. When I’ve worn them through a couple workouts, I can just throw them in the washer and they don’t fade or fringe. I’m obsessed with them.. and my friends at our gym are too!

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Wearing AE vest [similar], Target zip-up, Nike capri, Nike Free Advantage shoes, gifted Violet Love headband.

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 Here’s how you enter the giveaway*:

1. Follow @Violet_Love on Twitter because they tweet some pretty inspirational stuff! 
2. Like Violet Love on Facebook because there’s awesome stuff on there, too.
3. Commit to stop talking negatively about yourself + your body
4. Love YOU more. You are pretty awesome.
5. Comment bellow telling me what some of your fitness goals are + how you plan on making it happen

**3 winners will be chosen at random. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, February 19th.**

What are some of your fitness goals? What’s your plan of attack to make it happen?

 

*Winners Announced! Congrats Stephanie, Katie & Jesse! Please e-mail me to receive your Violet Love gift!*

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If you were to see my Instagram feed, you would get a pretty good visual example of what I eat. But, in reality, there is a little more to it than what you see. Be warned, this is a lengthy, detailed post. But I hope you will read it anyways!

“What do you eat?” One of the more frequent questions I get from friends and family. It makes me REALLY excited to talk about it, so I’ll try not to get carried away.

In a sentence, I strive to eat real whole foods to support performance and health, not body fat. I do NOT count calories. Calories are not created equal, so I don’t see any benefit in counting calories whatsoever. Instead I look at the macro- and micronutrients of my food.

The first thing I focus on eating are nutrient dense foods, which include protein, carbohydrates, and good fats. I choose the most nutrient dense foods that contain plenty of vitamins and minerals to support my lifestyle, fitness routine, and beyond. For instance, if I were looking to eat for lower calories, I would choose iceberg lettuce, at 8 calories per cup, instead of kale, at 34 calories per cup. But we all know how vitamin and mineral deficient iceberg lettuce is compared to it’s wiser, better-looking cousin, kale. Kale is really a superfood that is very nutrient dense, so I will always choose kale over iceberg. Some foods are worth the calories, like the avocado, which is one of the best sources of fat you can find on the planet, but it’s super high in calories. What then? Well I eat an avocado a day, but I don’t eat much fat in any other foods because I am always looking to eat the most nutrient dense foods I can find without overdoing it. The next step will explain why then I don’t eat 10 avocados a day…

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