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Incredible Transformations of 2018

Client 1

“I started with Arise in March, 2018. I was looking for a program to help me reach some goals that for the previous 6-8 months I felt like I was making zero progress towards despite exercising and eating what I thought was healthy. What I learned very quickly is that you must feed muscle to make muscle– quite the wake up call for me! Katherine began feeding me more and I felt amazing! In 3 weeks I doubled the weight I was working with in the gym. Since then I have gained muscle and have now been able to shed the extra fat. I can honestly say I feel healthier physically and mentally now than I ever have- I attribute this directly to eating exactly the right thing at the right time, and training hard. Katherine has been an amazing accountability partner and I am forever grateful for her!”

Client 2

“I joined the Arise family in March of 2018. 9 Months later, I am down over 50lbs and countless inches. Kat’s knowledge in Macro Nutrition, Weight Training and ability to listen is truly exceptional. I trust her and her plan 100%. I never thought eating more food would result in reshaping my body, but it did. I have a pretty busy lifestyle and she was able to customize my meals and workouts around it. Through the Arise App, Kat was always there to answer any question at any time and hold me accountable. Her “No Excuse” mentality kept pushing me to achieve my best. As long as you are willing to follow her advice and the plan she gives, there is no reason you cannot be successful in hitting your goals. The Arise Plan will definitely change your lifestyle for the better!!”

Client 3

“My relationship to food has changed. I’m fine saying no to certain foods because they don’t fit on my meal plan or waiting to have them during my cheat meal day. I know what foods work with my body and which ones don’t and I’m willing to make adjustments based on making my body feel good instead of feeding my emotions.”

“I take responsibility for my choices. If I decide to eat 100% on plan I am owning staying committed to my goals. When I eat off plan or eat then I’m owning the effects it has on my fitness goals. I don’t apologize for my eating habits. My food choices are what I have to do in order to accomplish my goals.”

“My workouts are priority. I have to confess that I hate starting a new workout plan every month because I hate change. I am fascinated by seeing myself get stronger in the gym. I remember when 10lbs seemed like so much weight and now I’m benching with 35lbs.”

“My confidence has really grown. I went to a conference in January and I was speaking in front of a room of about 300 people when I realized that I wasn’t self conscious about my body or the way my clothes looked. The dress I wore for my graduation was made to my measurements and I picked it up on Monday. By Thursday it was slightly too big and my seamstress and I are thinking of taking it in again for the 4th time. I would have never worn a strapless dress a year ago, but these shoulders is looking right so Ima have them out!”

Client 4

This photo says it all! Arise Fitness client, Carrie McKinney made a commitment to her health in November 2017 and hasn’t looked back! In November 2017 Carrie decided to reclaim her health. She stopped making excuses. She stopped putting herself last. She stopped worrying about what others in the gym thought. She committed to her health. She committed to loving herself. She committed to trusting the process. Now look where she is! In November 2017 she began working with a trainer for one-on-one training. She joined Arise in March of 2018. She dropped 14 pounds from Nov-March and has now dropped 25 more pounds for a total of 39 pounds GONE. She has worked hard. She has been disciplined even when she didn’t feel like it. She has learned what healthy living means to her and continues to make healthy choices daily. There are times when it has been a huge struggle for her and then there are times that make all the struggling worth it! She has proven to be more than a conqueror! If I could say one thing that has helped her along the way it would be her communication with her Arise. She has been honest with us and herself. She has asked for help when she needed it. She has laid it all out for us so we know exactly what is going on, thus we can make informed decisions each step of the way. Communication with your coach is critical to your success! Keep working hard Carrie! The best is yet to come!

Client 5 – Testimony Only, image to come at later date

“I have been on the Arise Fitness program for 3 months now. I had gained so much weight over the last couple of years and just felt really unhealthy.  With the help of Katherine and Catie, I have finally got myself on the right track. I have lost close to 40 pounds, and feel so much better and healthier! I love the meal plans, and I have made myself stick to them strictly, and the results definitely show up!! Catie checks in on me every week and I hold myself accountable!! I am extremely excited to see where I’ll be at the end of 12 months!! Thanks Katherine and Catie for holding me accountable and getting me back healthy!!”

Client 6

This client has lost over 70 inches total off her body and down almost 50 pounds! She is unstoppable!!!!

Client 7

The photo on the left was December 30, 2016. The photo on the left was taken yesterday, December 11, 2018. Rhonda came to Arise with a background in CrossFit, She enjoyed training and she enjoyed training hard. However, she was not gaining the muscle she desired with that type of training. We like to say she was “starving to death”, literally and figuratively. She felt she was always hungry and that feeling never would subside. She wanted to understand nutrition, how to fuel her body, and the impact nutrition had on her training abilities and her desire to achieve the physique she so desperately wanted! We got her started with a custom meal plan and a comprehensive training program that fit her needs. She told me she realized the very first month that her age was not the obstacle keeping her from reaching her goals. And she was correct! Since December 2016 Rhonda has increased her strength in countless ways, gained muscle, lost body fat, and she even competed in an NPC Bikini Competition in August 2017. She has created new habits through her consistency and, as you can tell, has completely transformed! Her entire backside, including her hard to grow glutes!

Client 8

This gal is consistent! She came to us in July with a desire to learn how to fuel her body, a goal of running a 1/2 marathon in a specific time, and to get leaner! She is well on her way to reaching those goals. Arise Fitness creates her meal plan and training program while checking-in with her and providing accountability through our Arise App. Through this program she has gained more energy and set two PR’s on her 5k and 10k run times, which is phenomenal in itself because we do not have running programmed on her training program. We actually backed way off her running and the results speak for themselves. She is strength training daily and eating the right foods at the right times. She is eating more than ever and losing body fat! It’s a beautiful thing to watch! She is down almost 15 inches total and 14 pounds of fat! Photo on the left was taken in July 2018. Photo in middle was taken in October 2018. Photo on far right taken in December 2018.

Client 9

Will joined Arise in March 2018 and is down over 70 pounds now!

Client 10

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5 Things I Do Daily That Make Me Healthier

  1. I Go to bed early  How many hours of sleep are you getting per night? I am willing to bet you suffer in the “getting enough sleep department”. Research revealed getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night has been linked with increased hunger and appetite along with reduced energy expenditure due to fatigue. If you have poor sleeping habits this can increase your body’s energy needs, meaning you will probably be hungrier. When you are sleep deprived your brain releases chemicals that signal hunger, most likely because the body is looking for a quick energy source. This typically leads to eating more overall than you would if you had a good night’s sleep, plus moving/exercising less. Overtime, the increased food and lack of exercise will cause weight gain. Getting enough sleep also contributes to improved immune system function. When you sleep your immune system releases compounds called cytokines. Some of these cytokine compounds have a protective effect on your immune system by helping you fight inflammation and infection. So, if you are not getting enough sleep you may not have enough of those protective compounds to fight off illness. And, who has time to be sick? Yea, didn’t think you did. Overall, chronic lack of sleep increases the risk for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Getting enough sleep is a habit just like eating healthy and exercising regularly and just as important as healthy eating and exercise. You should make it a habit to go to bed at an hour that ensures 7-8 hours of sleep per night. How do I wind down and ensure a good night’s sleep? I do these things:
    1. I make tomorrow’s to-do list before I do anything to help me wind down. Writing things down helps my brain relax knowing that I won’t forget anything important the next day because I have it written down!
    2. Take a warm shower or bath. During this time, I take a few deep breaths and let the warm water relax me.
    3. Turn my phone on do not disturb, plug it in, leave it alone, and crawl into bed. Think scrolling through your phone helps you relax? Not really. Studies show the light from your phone, computer, iPad, Tablet, TV, etc. keeps the brain alert. It isn’t really relaxing. So, turn it off and leave it alone.
    4. Read a book. Spend some time reading a good book. This will help get your mind off everything that happened during the day and/or everything you feel like you need to get done tomorrow. My eyes become heavy and BOOM. I AM OUT!
  2. I go for a 20-minute walk. Each morning I walk, and I don’t do it because I consider it cardio or exercise. I do it for my sanity…and my dog. It has been proven that a daily, brisk walk improves your mood. Sometimes I pray when I walk. Sometimes I don’t think about a dang thing. I don’t kill myself on this walk. I just walk at a pace I enjoy. Besides mood improvement I did notice I became leaner because of my daily walking routine. Over the span of a few months I noticed I dropped around 5 pounds of fat when I started walking daily. That wasn’t my goal, but hey, I am not complaining. Walking will help you maintain a healthy weight and has been shown to prevent and/or manage various conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and even Type 2 diabetes by helping regulate blood sugar levels according to the Mayo Clinic. I will also mention walking can improve your digestion. And, if you are or have been an Arise client you know how important good digestion is! Plus, we all need to get outside a little more and soak up some Vitamin D. So, wake up, and get moving! I promise you will benefit from that 20 minutes daily.
  3. I drink a glass of warm, lemon water as soon as I wake up. What is the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning? I drink a glass of warm, lemon water. I use freshly squeezed lemon and water that is slightly warmer than luke-warm. I started doing this several years ago for my digestion and it became a habit. This morning I actually looked up all the benefits and am thrilled to find out this concoction of lemon and warm water is a healthier habit than I thought. In fact, I could probably write an entire blog on the benefits of drinking warm lemon water alone. But, someone has already done that and I will reference it once I tell you a few more things about this fantastic morning drink you should make a habit. Drinking warm water first thing in the morning (and apparently throughout the day) help cleanses the body by flushing out toxins and improves digestion/helps with constipation. That was the reason I began drinking it each morning. Come to find out, warm water can alleviate pain from menstruation to headaches! The heat from the water is supposed to have a calming and soothing effect on your abdominal muscles. This can provide instant relief for crams and muscle spasms. I plan on trying this when I go into labor in a few weeks! Hot liquids are proven to increase blood flow to the skin, thus helping to relax cramped muscles. Now, here is something I had not thought about, and really can’t speak to directly, but, apparently, warm water increases body temperature. Duh. That sounds right. Now, when your body temperature is elevated, your metabolic rate increases. Adding a lemon to the water helps to break down adipose tissue (body fat). According to the article I read on Medical Daily it can also control food cravings due to the lemon’s pectin fiber. Just reading that, well, it’s certainly worth a try! So, each morning, squeeze half a lemon (or whole if you like it really tart) into a class of warm water and drink up! You can read all the health benefits of warm water here: https://www.medicaldaily.com/health-benefits-warm-water-6-ways-drinking-warm-water-can-heal-your-body-282218.
  4. I make a green smoothie. I know, I know. Everyone thinks this is soooooo nasty. It isn’t. I promise. I don’t even taste the spinach. Each morning I shove as much spinach as I can handle (usually around 3 cups or so) into the blender. I put 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder in, water, and a few ice cubes. Blend it up and down the hatch it goes. Seriously, I do not even taste it. I started doing this when I got pregnant because vegetables were the last thing I wanted to eat, but I knew my baby needed all the goodness greens have to offer. It is a habit now, and one I don’t plan on quitting. Spinach is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that can help improve the health of your eyes, prevent cancer, reduce blood pressure levels, reduce oxidative stress, and improve digestion. Spinach is packed with Vitamins B6, B9, C, E, K, K1, Folic Acid, Iron, and Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium. So, after hearing all that why wouldn’t you blend it up and drink it? If you want your green breakfast smoothie to be a satisfying one, pack the blender with at least 3 Cups of spinach, 1 medium banana, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, and 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter along with water and ice. Blend together. Drink up! I think you will be surprised at the flavor. Just do me a favor, try it at least once!
  5. I take time to just be still and reflect. Do you take a few minutes daily to just be still? Time to just sit in silence, be still, reflect, and maybe even journal your thoughts? You should. From my personal experience I notice huge changes in my day, specifically my mood and ability to handle stress and anxiety, when I take this time each morning to be still, meditate, and reflect. Chronic stress is a real thing these days and I refuse to be chronically stressed. The act of meditation is shown to reduce stress levels and control anxiety. There is a long list of benefits on the practice of meditation, and, again this could be an entire blog post. A few more are that meditation promotes emotional well-being, enhances self-awareness, and can even generate kindness. I make this a discipline, a non-negotiable, if you will each morning. It is so easy to jump out of bed, drink a cup of coffee, and rush around starting on my long to-do lists I have for myself each day. But, I remember the story about Mary and Martha in the Bible. In the book of Luke chapter 10 there is a story about two sisters. One named Mary and the other Martha. Jesus entered a village and was received by Martha, who welcomed Him into her home. Martha began to busy herself and became distracted by serving, while Mary, her sister, just sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to His teaching. Martha became resentful and asked Jesus to make Mary help her serve. Jesus’ response may be surprising to you. He said in Luke 10:41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things, Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.” So often, we get so caught up in the “doing” just to be doing we forget the things that are the most important. Very often, the most important things for our health, whether it be our spiritual, our mental, our emotional, and even our physical health, are shoved to the side while we busy ourselves with things that can wait just a few minutes while we take time to be still. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ one of the most important things, we can do daily is take time to sit at the feet of the One who has redeemed us and the one who loves us unconditionally. Allow Him to refill our vessels, refresh our spirit, and gently remind us how to love as He loves. I promise you that all His promises will renew and refresh you each and every day. If you need some scientific-based evidence on the benefits of meditation you can read this article: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation#section5

I am not sharing these things with you to brag or act like some great person because I do them. I am sharing these things because I know, without a shadow of doubt, these things have made me a healthier individually spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I hope you begin to do these things in your life and can’t wait to hear how you are affected by them!

Is there anything you started doing that has made you healthier? Let us know!

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VLOG – 5 Reasons Why People Fail at Reaching Their Fitness Goals

Let’s talk about the ‘F’ word. Not the ‘F’ word you are thinking of. We are going to talk about FAILURE. Failing. Why do people fail when they attempt to reach a fitness goal, lose weight, lose fat, or build muscle? Why do people fail?

I believe there are 5 main reasons why people fail. Let’s talk about them.

  1. They immediately jump in, giving 200%, doing tons of cardio, working out every day (when they didn’t workout at all before) and starve themselves with only salads and/or meal replacement shakes.
  2. They lack accountability.
  3. They have an unrealistic time frame to reach their goals.
  4. They have no real plan.
  5. They lack community support.

Watch our VLOG here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNlsuhLSwQs

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 5 Things You Should Know When Starting Your Fitness Journey

  1. You must have patience. You didn’t get where you currently are overnight and you certainly won’t get where you want to be overnight, in one week, in two weeks, or even in one month. You must know and understand that reaching your goals will take time. In my experience, clients who are impatient usually hinder their own success. Why? Because they have unrealistic expectations from the beginning. They think the weight will just fall off immediately and they will be in the best shape of their life in no time. What happens when they aren’t? They get frustrated and stressed, and neither are helpful. Then, they decide it isn’t working and just quit altogether. And, there they find themselves again, at ground zero, searching for something that will work. Moral of the story? You must have patience. When you hire someone to help you must give the plan time to work and your coach time to figure out your body. Everyone’s body is different and each body responds at different rates so you can’t compare your results to someone else’s. If you have hired a coach you must trust them. Trusting your coach is just as important as sticking to the plan they have you on. Having confidence in your coach goes a long way and doing what they say goes even further. Feel like your results are slow? Feel like some days there are no physical manifestations of change? Keep going. Be patient. Be consistent.
  2. Consistency is KEY. Half-way sticking to your plan does not produce optimal results. Nibbling on snacks here and there will not help you and neither will 50% effort in the gym. Day in and day out you must be consistent. This means sticking to your meal plan each day, even when you don’t feel like it. This means giving 100% in the gym even when you are tired. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? Yes, it may be difficult. There will be days when the last thing you want to do is go to the gym or eat Meal 3, but you do it anyway. You do it because you keep your goal in the front of your mind. You do it because it’s just what you do. Become consistent.
  3. Always be prepared. What will help you be consistent? Being prepared. The first way to fail is to be unprepared. Ever heard the saying, “If you fail to plan then plan to fail”? This is 100% true. If your goal is to lose weight, be leaner, get stronger and/or become healthier overall you must start with a plan. How are you going to reach those goals if you don’t have a plan in place? How do you plan to stick to your meal plan if you don’t prepare your meals first? Ever skipped a meal and then been famished several hours later only to eat everything in sight when you get home that evening? That is what I am talking about. You must prepare your meals each week, you must have a plan when you walk into the gym so that your workouts are helping you achieve your goals. Going out of town one weekend? Are you prepared to continue reaching your goals while away from home or are you prepared to throw your hard work out the window? Always have a plan and be prepared for anything life throws at you each day. Prepare your meals, pack your snacks, have emergency snacks on hand, and plan your workouts. Having trouble doing this? Maybe you should have some accountability!
  4. Accountability is important. Who is holding you accountable each day? Do you have someone you to answer to when you don’t make it to the gym? Do you have someone making sure you are sticking to your meal plan? If not, you should! I don’t recommend your husband or your wife, unless you have an awesome dynamic and you can handle that, but with most couples that doesn’t work well. I suggest a close friend who can be completely honest with you, or hire a coach. Heck! I am a coach and I even hire a coach to hold me accountable when it’s time for me to get leaner.
  5. Money spent on your health is never wasted. Think about how much money you spent last month on eating out? How much money did you spend on alcoholic beverages? How much money did you spend on sugary coffee drinks from Starbucks? Seriously. Add it up. My guess is that it is well over $200. Could be over $400 or more! I know that is normal for the average American and I am not saying you should never go out to eat or enjoy a beverage every now and then, but, think about how much you are spending. People always say things like, “Eating healthy is expensive” or, “I can’t afford to have a personal trainer or coach.” What if you used some of the money you use to indulge on your health? Recently, two of my personal training clients said these words, “I mean, think about how much money we spent to look the way we do now.” WOW. Powerful words. It’s so true. What if you were more intentional with your money and spent it on reaching your goals? Whether this means hiring a personal trainer, hiring an online coach, purchasing higher quality food at the grocery store or getting a massage for your sanity! If you don’t spend money on your health now I can guarantee you will be spending it on doctor bills and prescription medicine later. Be intentional and invest in yourself!
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Building a Better Relationship with Food – 4 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Relationship with Food

Building a Better Relationship with Food – 4 Things You Should Start Doing Now

Look, it isn’t you. It’s me.

I just need some space.

Let’s take a break for a while.

This just isn’t working out.

Whatever the reason, it’s time to break up…with your food. Your special friend is taking you on a roller coaster ride through life. One minute you are up, high, full of energy, happy and the next minute you are at the bottom, with no energy, sad, depressed and maybe even lonely. This “friend” lifts your spirit for a moment, then pulls the rug out from under you at the doctor when you find out you have high cholesterol, are pre-diabetic, and have gained 20 pounds since last year. What kind of “friend” is that? This time, it’s serious. You. Must. Break. Up. But how? How do you break up with something that has been such a huge part of your life for days, weeks, months, and years? First of all, you must understand, not just with your head, but with your heart, that the relationship is not doing you any favors. You must understand it may be difficult right now, but in the long run you will be a healthier, happier person. Once your head and heart understand and you are ready to commit to breaking it off do these 4 things.

  1. Learn that food will always be available. You know that cake Sally brought to work yesterday you just had to have a piece of? You jumped up out of your seat and ran to the kitchen as fast as you could because, after all, it was the LAST CAKE ON EARTH. Not. I can assure you it was not the last cake on earth. I can also assure you it probably isn’t the last time Sally will make that cake either. Promise. So, how do you pass up a delicious piece of homemade pound cake? You learn that food will always be available.
  2. Get rid of the “I can’t eat that” mentality. Don’t think of it as “I am not allowed to eat that” kind of thing. Because, let’s face it, as humans we always want things we cannot have. Instead, your thought process should be, “I am choosing not to have pound cake today because I can eat it another time.” When you change your thought process you eliminate the idea of something being off limits and the urgency to grab a piece is eradicated.
  3. Stop categorizing food as good and bad. When I hear someone say, “I have been so bad today.” My mind immediately thinks you have put on a ski mask, ran into the bank on the corner, armed, and stole all their money. Seriously. That would be bad. Just because you ate a cookie doesn’t mean you were “bad”. And, honestly, viewing food as bad probably makes you want to eat it that much more. Food should be fuel for your body. As you know, there are several different grades of fuel – regular, mid-grade, and premium. Foods should be placed in one of those categories. Let’s take sources of carbohydrates for example. A regular, low grade carbohydrate food would be a type of carb that is loaded with sugar, say, a Pop-Tart. A mid-grade carbohydrate, in my opinion, would be whole wheat bread. A premium grade carbohydrate would be a sweet potato. All are sources of carbohydrates and all can be used to fuel your body. None of them are “off limits” to me, I just choose to eat the carb source that fuels my body for optimum performance. Now, do I ever eat a low-grade carb? Of course I do. Do I feel guilty about eating them? No, I certainly do not. When you begin to see food as a source of fuel for your body your relationship with food will slowly improve. Seeing food as good and bad typically causes us to deprive ourselves, thus making us overindulge in low-grade food sources when we do eat them.
  4. Stop using food as a reward. Food should not be used as a reward in any way. The “I’ve been good all day so I deserve this piece of pizza,” or the “I met my deadline at work so give me that chocolate cake,” mentality is no way to improve your relationship with food. When we reward ourselves with food because of good behavior or a job well done it causes us several serious issues. One issue: we tend to eat when we aren’t hungry and then we overeat that particular food because, after all, we did a good job! Another issue: we tie our feelings and emotions of a job well done to food. Thus, we start eating emotionally. What happens when we are sad, or failed at meeting a deadline, got reprimanded at work, etc? We eat, usually overeat, because that food is now associated with feelings of a job well done, happiness, joy, and celebration. We eat in hopes of making ourselves feel better. And, for a moment, it does. Then afterwards, we learn eating all that food didn’t help the situation at all and made us feel worse than we did before. How do we stop using food as a reward and eating emotionally? We must first recognize we are doing it. I tell my clients when the urge to overeat hits they must pay attention to how they feel at that moment. Make a mental note or write it down. Instead of just going for it, stop, and think about why you have the urge to eat, what is causing you to feel that way, and how you can resist the urge. Thinking about what you do before you do it can help deter you from making bad decisions. Think about what you put in your mouth and think about how that food makes you feel after you eat it. When we begin to look at the long term instead of the short term our relationship with food improves. Using your brain when you eat will help improve your relationship with food. Stop eating mindlessly and think about what you are putting in your mouth.

Emotional eating is difficult to overcome, but if you are 100% fed up with feeling the way you do and 100% ready to change, then, you will 100% succeed! You can do this!

 

Any other tips for overcoming emotional eating? Let us know in the comments!

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5 Ways to Order Healthy at a Restaurant

Think you can’t eat out and still make progress toward your fitness goals? Think again! Now, do I think it is better to eat what you cook over what a restaurant serves? Yes, of course I do. However, it is important to know you can continue working towards your goals even if you must eat at restaurants occasionally. What is the trick? Knowing what and how to order. Here are 5 ways to make sure your progress isn’t derailed when eating at a restaurant.

  1. Pick a lean meat. Lean meats include: chicken, turkey, or a white fish. The reason I choose lean meats over fattier cuts of meat at restaurants is to allow room for additional fats. Some restaurants will cook your meat without any additional butter or oils, but some restaurants simply won’t or they have their meat marinating in butter/oils. If you choose fattier cut of meat and there is additional butter/oil added to the marinade or cooking process the grams of fat can easily surpass 20 or more.
  2. Ask for your food to be prepared with no butter or oil. I do this all the time. It isn’t something to be embarrassed about and frankly if they cringe at your request just tell them you are allergic to it. Terrible, I know. But, I usually have my food prepared how I want it when I make that request. One of my favorite places to eat clean is Japanese! Seriously! I ask for no butter or oil on my chicken or veggies and it tastes awesome!
  3. Salads aren’t always the answer. Do you feel like you always need to order a salad to be “healthy”? Well, think again. Most of the time the salads at restaurants are loaded with other calorie dense foods like candied nuts, cheeses, bacon, etc. Not to mention the dressings. And, yes, they taste great, but it probably isn’t the healthiest option on the menu. Pick a lean meat and a side of steamed or sautéed vegetables instead of a salad. If you do want a salad be sure to choose one without a ton of junk on top and opt for a vinaigrette dressing. I choose to lightly dip my salad in the dressing instead of pouring it on the salad. I find I use less dressing when I do it that way.
  4. Avoid places that serve bread or chips. Unless you have some superhero powers that help you avoid digging in to a basket of bread or chips and salsa I would suggest staying away from those restaurants. The bread and chips alone could derail your progress even if you do order wisely. After all, the only reason I go eat Mexican is because I want chips and cheese dip! Let’s be honest here!
  5. Be nice to your server. If you aren’t friendly and fail to treat your server with respect don’t expect to have your food prepared the way you request. It can be annoying to a server/chef when a guest has so many specific requests for their order at a restaurant. Many times, places don’t love cooking without specific ingredients because they are afraid it won’t taste as good, thus risking their reputation. I get that and you should to. So, be nice to your server and respectfully make your request. You may be surprised at their generosity!

I will say this again – I do think it is better to eat what you cook most of the time. However, if you are in a bind or you want to be social and enjoy fellowship with other people you can certainly eat out and continue making progress towards your goals!

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5 Healthy Eating Habits to Start Now

1. Eat Breakfast

This probably isn’t the first time you have heard this and isn’t any new scientific revelation, but it is extremely important. Have you ever thought about what the term “breakfast” means? You guessed it. It means to “break” the “fast”. When you wake up in the morning you have literally been fasting for 8 hours, depending on how long you sleep at night. (You should be getting 7-8 hours, but we will save that for another blog post.) If you continue to fast, as in not eat breakfast, your body decides to conserve, meaning hold on to, any incoming calories later in the day. When you eat breakfast you are essentially telling your body there are plenty of calories/energy to be consumed that day so your body actually uses that food for energy rather than holding on to it for dear life! What happens when your body conserves energy rather than expending it? Well, most likely, you will have a higher body mass index. This means (most of the time unless you are a bodybuilder/carry a ton of muscle) you will carry more fat mass than muscle mass. If that alone doesn’t make you want to eat breakfast then I am not sure I can convince you! What else can eating breakfast do for you? Eating breakfast has proven to enhance concentration, improve performance during physical activity and even lower cholesterol. Bottom line: eat breakfast. You will be glad you did.

2. Snack Often

Ever have that feeling that if you don’t eat something right now you are going to die?! Think about that feeling for a moment. Think about what type of food you typically crave when your body gets to that point. I am willing to bet you crave something sugary sweet or something high in fat/carbs that is completely unhealthy. Want to know why? Your body is starving! When your body is starving because it hasn’t been fed it sends signals to your brain that it needs energy FAST. What type of food provides quick energy? Sugar! Simple carbs. I am also willing to bet that you give in to this 99% of the time. Am I right? So, how do you avoid these moments of weakness? Snack often. I don’t mean snack on candy and junk food. Pack yourself healthy, nutritious snacks that satisfy you. If you aren’t eating 6 small meals a day I recommend snacking between your meals. This will keep you from feeling ravenous and keep you from choosing the worst thing on the menu at meal times.

3. Eat More Protein

I am sure this isn’t the first time you have heard this one either. If you are working out and your goals are to get leaner, or stronger, or more muscular, you need protein. If you came to me and said you just want to be “toned” I would tell you that most likely means gaining some muscle and losing fat. This means you need protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of your muscles. Without amino acids it is impossible to build, repair or even maintain muscle tissue. Your body needs protein to build muscle, repair and recover after a strenuous workout, and to maintain the muscle mass you currently have. If I can get a little nerdy with you for a moment – protein consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. If your protein intake is optimal your body will be in a positive nitrogen balance. This means you’re in an anabolic state which allows you to build muscle. On the contrary, if your protein intake is too low you risk putting your body in a negative nitrogen balance. In a negative nitrogen balance your body will be catabolic. What does this mean? This means that your body will be breaking down your muscle for energy! I can guarantee burning muscle for energy is counterproductive to your goals. You can increase your protein consumption by eating more lean meats, eggs or egg whites, low-fat greek yogurt (or full-fat depending on your nutritional needs), and even a whey protein supplement.

4. Refuel Post-Workout

When you exercise, you deplete your muscles fuel resources and cause minor damage to the muscles. Depletion and damage usually carry a negative connotation; however, they aren’t detrimental to our bodies unless they stick around. Therefore, post-workout nutrition is critical. Depletion and damage followed by post-workout nutrition helps the muscle adapt to the exercise demands placed on it! During exercise our muscle carbohydrate storages and protein storages are broken down. Once broken down our immune system comes in to start cleaning up, then our body sends signals to the brain to begin repair. However, if our body doesn’t have any “equipment” to help repair the muscle we are left with muscles that never reach their full potential. Again, counterproductive to our goals. I suggest eating within 30 minutes of your workout for optimal growth and recovery. You can read more about post-workout nutrition on my blog post “Why Post-Workout Nutrition Is A Must”.

5. Stop Yo-Yo Dieting

Do you feel like you have tried everything under the sun to reach your goals? Are you chasing a number on the scale that you just can’t ever seem to hit? Do you feel like everything you tried made you lose weight and then gain it all back as soon as you try to return to normal life? Stop. Just stop with the yo-yo dieting. At this point you are harming your body more than doing it any good. What happens when you yo-yo diet? Your metabolism tanks. You spend months restricting calories and working out hours a day. Sure, you lose weight at first. You may even reach the magic number on the scale but as soon as you return to your normal life the weight comes back, maybe even more weight than you started with! So, you start again with another diet. And the cycle continues. Now, anything you try doesn’t seem to work. You are stuck. Your metabolism sucks and you don’t know what to do. Lord knows don’t do another fad diet! Please. I suggest hiring someone. At this point you need an expert to help you create a healthy metabolism again and get you results that are maintainable. What you need to know is that process will take time. Creating a healthy metabolism will not happen overnight and your body won’t change overnight and may not change for a month or two. But you must be patient. I always tell people the time will pass anyway. So, in 6 months from now do you want to be

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The Power of Proper Supplementation

Supplements. There are so many. They make so many claims. What do they actually do? Do they even work? Will I lose weight if I take this one? Will I gain muscle if I take that one?

I know, I know, so confusing, right?! For years, I didn’t believe in the effectiveness of supplements, not even a multi-vitamin. I remember someone saying, “Well, you could take a multi-vitamin or you could go bowling.” I am sure I heard that somewhere. It could have been a doctor or it could have been a dream, but either way I always thought of that when I considered supplementation. It wasn’t until my first women’s physique competition prep that I learned the power of proper supplementation and the role supplements played in reaching my goals.

First, let’s talk about what a supplement is. Webster’s defines supplement as something that completes or makes an addition. A supplement is just that – a supplement. Are you getting it yet? A supplement is only a small part of your training program and diet. It supplements, it is an addition, it completes your training program and diet. Here is an example: If you typically sit on your couch all day eating Cheetos and watching Netflix you are probably going to be overweight. You decide you don’t want to be overweight anymore so you go to your local health/vitamin store and purchase a fat burner. You take the fat burner as recommended but you continue to sit on the same old couch, eating the same old Cheetos watching the same old shows on Netflix. Do you honestly think your body is going to change? If you said no, you are right. Here is another example: You’re a dude. You look like a dude. You wear stringer tops in the gym like a dude. You carry your gallon jug in the gym like a dude while you half ass (excuse my French) your training sessions every day and eat a piss-poor diet. You decide you want to get bigger. So, you go to your local nutrition shop and purchase a SARMS (Select Androgen Receptor Modulators) Stack or something of that nature that is supposed to help you gain muscle. You begin taking it while you continue to train the same way, barely breaking a sweat, and eating the same type of foods you were before you started the supplement. Do you think your body is going to change? Heck no! Are you following me? A supplement is just that – a supplement. It is not a magic pill that will make all your dreams come true.

If you want a supplement to work you must put in the work. It can’t work unless you do. On another note, all those people who think others look good just because they take a specific supplement, you are wrong. They worked hard to get there so stop discounting their hard work and start working on your own goals.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the power of proper supplementation. There are supplements for just about everything. Supplements for increased energy, supplements for burning fat, supplements to balance blood sugar, supplements for improving post-workout recovery, etc. I am here to say when used properly…they work. I have many real-life examples but one really stands out. During my competition prep for my first women’s physique competition I was experiencing some blood sugar imbalances. We tweaked my diet multiple times to try to get it under control but couldn’t quite figure it out. My coach at the time told me to try Chromium Picolinate. Guess what? It did the trick! Chromium picolinate is used for improving blood sugar control in the body. When I start dieting and carbs and fat decrease Chromium helps to keep my blood sugar balanced. Experiencing this was life changing for me because, like I said before, I didn’t really believe in supplements. Another first-hand experience was the role Glutamine played in my recovery. Glutamine is the most common amino acid found in your muscles. During your training sessions, the level of glutamine in your muscles is depleted significantly causing decreased strength, stamina and recovery. When I began making sure Glutamine was incorporated pre-, intra- and/or post-workout I noticed a noteworthy increase in strength and endurance during my training sessions and experienced faster recovery. These examples are just a few of my first-hand experiences with the direct effects of proper supplementation. When supplements are taken correctly and combined with an appropriate diet for your training style and hard work here are 4 things supplements can do for you.

  1. Increase strength, stamina and improve your recovery time. Whether you are taking a whey protein powder, an amino acid or a muscle building supplement and you combine them with proper diet and exercise you will find they work in more ways than one. How can you be sure? Pay attention to your body. Write down the amount of weight you are using at each training session. Has the amount of weight your lifting increased? Can you do more reps with the same weight? Are you able to do more sets in your workouts? Are your as sore as you have been? All these questions are important to ask yourself when trying a new supplement.
  2. Increase lean muscle mass, therefore decreasing body fat. That’s right. The right supplements (again, combined with a consistent diet and hard work) will increase lean muscle mass, thus decreasing body fat. The phrase “muscle burns fat” is true. The greater amount of lean muscle you have on your body the more calories you burn throughout the day and the less fat you have on your body.
  3. Help with any imbalances in your body. You read how Chromium Picolinate helped regulate my blood sugar. This is what I am talking about. Even though you are eating healthy there may be some deficiency in your body. Supplementing with the right vitamin or mineral can help with any imbalance you might be experiencing. How do you know if you have an imbalance? You pay close attention to symptoms you are experiencing, learn your body and can tell when something is not quite right. If you feel you need to visit the doctor, then you should certainly do that!
  4. Help you perform at optimum levels. I do not like to be mediocre or average at anything. Therefore, I do not want my body to perform at an average level. I need my body to perform at its maximum potential. If you like being mediocre or average that is your prerogative, but it isn’t mine. Proper supplementation can help your body perform like a well-oiled machine. I see my body as a fancy sports car and I only want to put premium gasoline in the tank and performance enhancing oil in its engine.

There are many supplements out there that claim to do x, y and z. Supplements in the health and fitness industry are often not regulated by the FDA so I advise you to do your research. You want to go with a reputable brand/company when it comes to taking any kind of supplement from a whey protein powder to a multi-vitamin. Do your research, read reviews and ask people who have taken the product. And, well, I don’t go to the doctor often, but if you feel you need to talk to your doctor before taking any kind of supplement then you should!

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How to Enhance Your Progress Photos

Progress pictures, progress pictures, progress pictures. Probably one of my clients most dreaded things to do, but one of the best tools for showing them how far they have come!

At first, progress photos can be discouraging. I remember when I took my first “before” picture. I was mortified. I couldn’t believe how I looked. It was not the image I had of myself. That is the beauty, and the beast, of taking that very first picture. It was beastly because I was embarrassed, but I found the beauty in it when I realized it could only get better from that moment! As the weeks went by, with each progress picture I took I began viewing myself differently. As each image changed I grew more encouraged, more determined and more disciplined. The process was powerful.

The process can only be powerful if the progress pictures are taken correctly. I have noticed, with each new client that joins the Arise Fitness team, progress pictures are a struggle. After all, how are we supposed to take progress pictures if we don’t really understand the purpose and/or understand HOW they need to be taken. Here are 5 tips to ensure a great, powerful progress picture journey.

Choose a place with great lighting.

Lighting matters. Dark photos do not show results. They may hide what you don’t want your coach or anyone else to see, but they do you no justice in showcasing your hard work. To see results you need to take your picture in a place with great lighting. The best light for snapping these shots is natural light! So, pick a room in your home, or your gym, where there are windows. Turn all the lights on, open the curtains and make sure there are no shadows being cast on your physique before you take the picture.

 Once you have found that spot with great lighting, stay there for every single progress photo.

Your coach needs uniformity in lighting and background when reviewing your photos. It is important for photos to be taken in the same place with the same lighting every single time. Since progress pictures are used to analyze progress it needs to be easy for us to notice the differences. If the lighting varies from image to image it makes it very difficult for us to see changes.

Choose your clothing wisely.

The best progress photos happen when the client is not trying to hide anything. How can your coach help you if they don’t know what you look like/where you struggle the most? The point I am making here is don’t wear clothing that hides your most hated part of your body. We need to be able to see the entire picture here, not just what you want to show us. The best thing to wear for progress pictures is a sports bra and spandex shorts or a bathing suit for you gals, boxers/briefs or shorts for you guys. Keep in mind your coach may want to use your pictures to show others one day (with your permission of course). If you don’t want to be seen in your actual bra and panties (or underwear for those men out there) choose a different outfit.

Stand in the same positions for each picture.

Your coach will need a picture of the front, side and rear of your body. The pose you will be in will be determined by your goals. If you are planning to compete your coach will need you in the respective poses. If your goal is to improve your physique without competing you will need to stand in the same pose for every picture. This preferred pose may be different from coach to coach so be sure to ask what they prefer if they do not tell you. One thing to note here is the side image. If you are just taking one image of one side of your body be sure it is the same side of your body! If you take an image of the left side of your body one week be sure the next week you take the image of your left side again, not your right.

Your photographer needs to take the picture from the same place each time.

One week I will get photos of the entire body and the next week I will get a picture from the knees up. This is not good. Again, your coach needs uniformity with progress photos. Pictures taken from different places, zoomed in and zoomed out, are not helpful in tracking progress. Be sure the photographer is standing in the same place each time as they take the picture. If you are your own photographer the same thing goes for you. Place your phone in the same place each time and stand the same distance away from the camera.

If you make sure these 5 things are done each time you will make your coaches life a lot easier AND you will be able to see all your hard work! Now, go take some awesome pictures.

If you have any other tips for great progress pictures let us know! We would love to hear!

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The Role Positive Self-Talk Plays In Reaching Your Fitness Goals

How many times have you criticized your body today? How many times have you thought about the parts of your body you hate today? Really think about it. What have you told yourself that created a downward spiral of emotions? What words have you spoken over yourself that made you feel like a failure or made you feel unworthy? Write each of those things down.

Have them written down? Good. Now, cross out the negative words in red and write in a positive word. Instead of the word ‘hate’ write the word ‘love’. Instead of the phrase ‘I really wish I looked like…’ replace it with ‘I am thankful I look like…’ Continue doing this until you have recreated every negative thought into positive self-talk that inspires confidence, value and self-worth.

Okay, so, what’s the point? The point is when we constantly speak critically of ourselves we begin to believe every lie that is spoken and it becomes a part of our identity. When we think of ourselves in this negative light nothing ever changes and nothing ever seems to change. We are like hamsters on a wheel – working so hard but getting nowhere.

I did this to myself for years. Every time I looked in the mirror I managed to find something I wanted to change about myself. And guess what? It never changed. The more critical I was of myself the uglier I became. Sound familiar? I thought so.

For years, I defeated myself because of my own thoughts. I became comfortable in my thinking and believed that I was who I thought I was. Then, there came a day, when I was fed up. I threw up my hands and cried for help. It was at that moment I understood I had a choice. I could choose to wallow in my negativity, or I could be brave, and begin to love myself for the woman God created me to be! With each day that passed change began to occur. Here are 4 ways positive self-talk could help you in reaching your fitness goals.

  1. Strength and Endurance increase as the “I can’t” mentality decreases.
    • You will notice an increase in strength and endurance with every workout. With each training session, you become stronger, more powerful and more excited to train.
  2. Confidence supervenes.
    • Suddenly, as if out-of-nowhere, you will look in the mirror and say “go on girl!” Confidence rises when you tell Negative Nancy she is not welcome anymore.
  3. Change begins to occur.
    • And, then, something amazing happens. Your body starts to respond. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body.” How true is that scripture!
  4. Freedom
    • Through this process, you learn the mind is a powerful, powerful tool that can hinder you from reaching your goals or help you in reaching your goals. The moment you realize you have a choice to choose one thought over another you are no longer a slave to your thoughts. You, my friend, are FREE!

I encourage you to discipline your mind in 2017. Choose thoughts that are healing to your body – thoughts that make you feel loved, appreciated, beautiful, valuable and worthy. Because, after all, you ARE all those things!