“Where do you workout?” * My First Bikini Competion

Recently I was out shopping with a girlfriend and we went to try on a few items.  The girl managing the dressing rooms, gestured for me to hand her the pieces I would be trying on. Then she asked for my name –  I guess that’s a thing everywhere now –

Sidenote: I don’t know how “Engrid” (pronounced ING-grid) sounds like “Andrea” just a pet peeve because that literally happens to me every time I have to introduce myself.

I come out of the changing room to show my friend the maxiskirt I had just tried on.

As I’m standing there waiting, the girl who was managing the dressing rooms asks me “where do you workout?”

As you might imagine, I was a little taken aback. I think she realized it was a bold question and went on to say “Well, cause I can just tell you workout”. I felt flattered but also admired her for being so forward to satisfy her curiosity. I was also unaware that I was such a blatant gym-rat.

This is something I  have started to experience with more frequency and honestly I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to it.  I find it’s difficult to see myself the way that others do.  My mind focuses on what I am most self-conscious about and it convinces me that, that is what everyone else also sees.  I am getting better at recognizing this discrepancy, however just like training in the gym to improve a movement pattern, it takes consistent practice to change this way of thinking and “re-wire” the thought pattern.

Three weeks ago I competed in my first ever NPC Bikini competition.  I have not discussed anything about this on my blog, but I have been posting about it on other social media platforms (mainly my Instagram and Facebook pages). I’ll admit it took a lot of courage for me to put myself out there on those platforms alone. I was worried about other people might think, or what they would say, or that it was weird to do bikini competition.

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It was about three years ago that I went to support a friend who was competing in a show. I remember seeing the girls walking around super tan, heavily made up, looking like fitness magazine cover model’s.  I remember feeling judgmental and thinking I was in the midst of a weird cult. Why would you want to voluntarily put yourself  on a stage to be judged based on your appearance alone? But there was so much more to it, that I did not yet understand.

I have since realized that I need to live my life for myself and no one else. If I wanted to challenge myself to do a bikini competition…  I needed to let go of what people thought and go for it!  I have lIves too much of my life trying to do what I think other people expect of me. Like an uninvited guest at a party – that negative thinking just shows up. But instead of acknowledging the unwanted guest I’ve decided to carry on and enjoy my party. It’s not easy but I’m getting better at listening to my inner voice. Living my life for other people just made me miserable; I was anxious, empty, and exhausted.

Competing in this bikini competition was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life.  The preparation was a journey that helped me overcome a lot of personal fears. I had to let go of  comforting familiar routines.  I find so often, people do what they are comfortable with, because it is what they know and it’s scary to go into the unknown.

Doing something different makes you feel vulnerable, and I am no exception. It was a tremendous learning process to place myself in the position of my clients. I was on the other side of the fence. I always say,  “trainers also new trainers”. So when my trainer  James “Bobo” Eason challenged my habits I experienced the reluctance, the doubt, the uneasiness that goes along with that. He eased me into changing many of my habits. One being my cardio habit. Like many of my female clients I was convinced I had to do long bouts of intense cardio. Of course everyone is different but that is not what my body needed to be doing. I slowly tapered off to shorter, less intense cardio (AKA walking – which blew my mind).

My inner voice felt threatened and asked me things like “What if doing less cardio makes me fat?”

Simultaneously I gradually increased my caloric intake, which also made my old familiar routine feel threatened and uncomfortable. Granted everyone’s prep process is different because we are all unique individuals – but this was what I needed to be doing. I experienced first hand – eating more than I ever had – that my waistline actually shrunk and I was building muscle.

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The photo on the left was when all I did was long duration cardio and light weights/ bodyweight exercises. I also ate what I like to refer to as the clique-what-girls-think-is-healthy-and-will-keep-them-skinny diet. I’m hesitant to even list the foods I was eating back then because I subscribe to the idea that there is no such thing as “BAD” food. Basically I just wasn’t eating enough and enough of the right balance of macro nutrients. I didn’t realize it at the time but by working out the way I was, I was actually inducing stress hormones. As a protective mechanism my body was storing all that it could because I was in such a deficit. In contrast the photo on the right is me eating nearly DOUBLE the amount calories per day, doing HALF the cardio I was before, and doing resistance training 5-6 days per week.

Like I said it was a process but the more I followed what he told me, the better I felt and looked.  Because I respect him my trust in what grew. I knew he had my best interest at heart. So when that noise came in my head, that I realistically knew made absolutely no sense, (but I wanted to listen to it –  because it is familiar and habit)… I would ask myself “Does Bobo really want to make me fat?”. The answer is obviously “no” he doesn’t want that for me! Bobo wasn’t secretly trying to sabotage me.  But my mind  can come up with all kinds of crazy scenarios.  I had to keep grounding myself through Bobo, who kept reassuring me that I was right on track. Although I am a certified personal trainer while I logically and realistically knows the scientific facts, it does not mean I am exempt from having illogical emotional “noise” seep into my mind. I walked away with first place in the novice division of my first ever NPC Bikini Competition. I am incredibly grateful to have experienced this journey it has helped me become a better trainer and learn how to honor myself.

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Liveng Proof Bootcamp @ Lululemon Greenville Showroom | Highlights

Sometimes before I teach a class I feel like I am 12 years old again; I’m nervously standing behind the blocks before a race at a swim meet. I have thought about this moment all week. I have that nervous/excitedness churning feeling in my stomach. And I do a lot of the same things to prep for it. I mull over how I want the workout to flow, scratching out rough ideas on paper, drawing out what equipment goes where.

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And the week leading up to the event I know I’ll need to prep 3-winner giveaway bags AKA me running around town buying things in good-better-best-sets-of-three. At anthropologie the girl at the register noted “I’m guessing this a gift since there are three of everything?”. And at GNC I planted my generously-loaded basket onto the counter to checkout  and  in a do-you-come-here-often-tone the guy goes  “A basket huh? We don’t see many of those” ….Yeah you know, just my regular weeks supply of SUPS;-)

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Bust out a  handwritten-welcome poster. Babe did you print the sign-in & waiver sheets?
Then there’s the creation of a solid spotify playlist for the big day (which you can check out here).

 

I have a new-found respect for people that host events – there are seriously so many details that you need to keep track of for everything to run smoothly. And let’s just say I’m not the most laid-back type…

And I guueeeessssss you could say I’m a bit neurotic when it comes to the day-of. I have to get ready hours before I actually have to be anywhere. I have a whole stretching routine I do. And as you can imagine I’m cray about being “on-time” (which is actually 10-15 mins earlier than real time). Props to my husband for being so tolerant of me when I’m in this zone…thanks babe. But the morning could not have been more perfect. The forecast had said there was supposed to be showers early Saturday morning. But when I woke up – they couldn’t have been more wrote. It was sunny and in the 70s – literally couldn’t have been any better!

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Leading a class is invigorating – for that hour it’s GAME TIME! 100% of my focus is on my people. Watching their form, encouraging them, directing them, making sure they have a good handle on what to do, and above all else making sure they are having fun!

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Sometimes I hear myself saying the most ridiculous things – somehow they make it past my usual filter. For example I was having people plank in a class one time and I had them do glute squeezes while they were planking and I said “pinch your cheeks hard, as if you were trying not to poop” – they all burst out laughing! Their form improved after I gave this cue & they were laughing = win-win in my book!

Quite often after I teach a class I am hit by a wave of “was that good enough?” “was that a challenging enough? fun enough? different enough? class”. As an instructor I have to remind myself that although I am leading – the focus is not on ME – its on each individual listening to me! The class is for them. I am there to give them an amazing workout!

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I think that’s the only way I am able to “perform”. It’s not like I’m 9 years old again playing in a piano recital in front of an entire church full of people (are you seeing a trend? and OMG my palms are sweating just thinking about the anxiety I would get from those recitals! lawd!!!!)… This is of course noise in my own head, but I think we’ve all experienced the “am I enough?” noise before. Am I smart enough? experienced enough? pretty enough? rich enough? funny enough? thin enough? did I do enough? Am I enough?

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And the answer is YES. I am enough. YOU are enough.

I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorites<3

“Wholeheartedness. There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.”
―Brenè Brown

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Why do I keep hearing…

My clients often ask me about trending nutrition info that they’ve heard about either from friends, coworkers, or even their facebook newsfeed. And as a personal trainer I feel it is my responsibility to provide them with unbiased and informed answers!

Recently I had a client of mine ask “Why do I keep hearing that peas are bad?”

The information we hear is usually a diluted version that trickles down from academic journals, which gets distorted by the mainstream media. You have to remember the main objective of media is to elicit views. Unfortunately this is the world we live in and the news often spreads faulty information with no actual scientific basis!

Think back over the years of all the nutrition fads you’ve heard about. Remember when pomegranates were all the rage? We can go way back to the ’90’s when fat was the enemy. Or when quinoa made its debut. Flax seeds. Don’t even get me started on artificial sweeteners, you can read more about what’s in these little sweet packets here!

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More recently its all things kale related. Coconut Oil. Chia Seeds. Gluten free. Egg yolks are good for you again. I mean the list goes on and on…

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So before you are quick to jump on board with the next thing someone tells you – however convincing they may be – remember my rule of thumb is to have your own 3 credible sources (think any .edu’s or pubmed – I’ve listed some additional resources below). Don’t be that guy that jumps on the bandwagon just because everyone else does.

People are always looking for the next “fad food” that’s either bad or good for you, like it will solve all your problems if you accept whatever it is as fact!

Having the capacity to listen to an idea
but not except it immediately
requires a more educated mindset!

1. If you want quality nutrition info that’s a little easier on the ears check out Superfoods

2. Feeling like you want to take it up a notch and get the break down from scientific journals? You can geek out to the latest nutrition-related research with my guy Dr. Greger! He breaks down the information to you in short, easy to understand video segments.

Bottom Line:
Don’t believe everything you hear! Make your own informed and educated decision’s before getting in line for the next fad food

Turkey Meatballs & Zoodles

I make these mainly for my husband who likes to stash em in little ziplocs for easy grab-and-go lunches during the week! He eats em plain but with a little extra effort they can actually be made into a legit meal! I found my hand-held microplane spiral cutter  at Bed Bath & Beyond, but I checked Amazon and there are many different kinds – I usually like to opt for ones with triple digit customer reviews & high star ratings 😉 But this does the job and makes the zucchini into “noodles” or zoodles to be more precise (come on that must be a hashtag by now). Try this recipe out for a healthy spin on an old favorite – I like to throw freshly chopped onions in with the sauce too!

microplane spiral cutter

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Ingredients:

1.5 pounds extra lean ground turkey breast
2 egg whites
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds
1 TBS mrs. Dash all-purpose seasoning salt free
1 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder (salt free)
2 tsp black pepper

Method:

Step one:
Preheat oven to 400°F coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray (I use canola oil spray)

Step two:
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well with a spatula or your hands shape the mixture into your 16 to 20 golf-ball sized meatballs and place them in baking dish.

Step three:
Bake for 7 minutes. Turn the meatballs, then bake for 8 to 13 minutes longer or until no longer pink (I usually bake for 11 -12 mins longer
).

3 meatballs:  211 kcal / 37.5 g protein / 9 g carb / 4.5 g fat


If you’re short on time and want a great low-sodium option pasta sauce I recommend Mario Batali’s Tomato Basil Pasta sauce. It only has 7 ingredients (I’m a fan that I can pronounce all of them) and no preservatives!

San Marsano Imported Italian Plum Tomatoes
Fresh Red Onions
Fresh Carrots
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Basic
Fresh Garlic
Sea Salt

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Inspired by a recipe from Gregg Avedon’s ‘Muscle Chow’ 

Clean & Refreshing Alkaline Kale Salad

If you’re into living a healthy lifestyle chances are you’re also into kale. I’ve been on a kale salad kick recently… I seriously just can’t get enough of this particular dish. I  love experimenting and  discovering new ways to eat this superfood, which is actually how I invented this salad (ok – invented is a bit of a stretch but just go with me here). I was looking for a new salad dressing and came across one that sounded appetizing but I didn’t actually have all the ingredients listed on hand (I always use recipes as suggestions anyway) so I did what any of us would do, threw together my own version. Now, I’m no Julia Child, but I’d go as far to say that I think she’d even be pleased with this result.

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I also love kale in sautés, salads, wraps, soups, chips, smoothies, and juices! I’m a huge fan of how versatile this particular dark leafy green is; from savory marinades and homemade sauces, to sweeter tangier flavors like this salad…you just can’t go wrong!

Regular intake of kale has been shown to stimulate antibody production, boost anti-oxidative capacity, drastically lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, and increase good (HDL) cholesterol!1 Seriously what’s not to love about this food! It belongs to the family  Brassica oleracea, which includes brussels sprouts, collard greens, and cauliflower to name a few!

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Clean & Refreshing Alkaline Kale Salad Dressing:
2 TBS Pure Lemon Juice
1 TBS Liquid Amino’s
1/2 TBS (OR 1 -2 packet(s) of Organic Stevia *or Honey
1 TBS Nutritional Yeast

 

Kale Salad:
2 Handfuls of Kale (chopped)
blueberries
strawberries
slivered almonds  (or chopped pecans/cashews)
cucumber
radishes
celery
**optional if you don’t have access to fresh strawberries: red grapes (halved)


My actual salad varies with whatever I have on hand! But you need something sweet to balance out the savory and I find that either red grapes or ripe strawberries really do the trick!

I throw all the ingredients into a big zip lock and shake it to distribute the dressing evenly! Top with grilled chicken breast, or your choice of protein, or enjoy all on its own! I like to also add a dollop of pine nut hummus into the mix!

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Enjoy!
your-trainer-Engrid

 

 

 

1.  http://nutritionfacts.org/video/smoking-versus-kale-juice/

Suzy Home-Maker: Homemade Berry Jam with Chiaseeds

I went all suzy-home-maker in my kitchen the other day and decided to make my own jam! Best part NO canning required!  Another added perk, besides the jam of course, it only takes about 15 mins!

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You can use fresh or frozen berries of your choice. Heat the berries over the stove, mash them up, and add maple syrup or honey, and the chia seeds. The chia seeds thicken the jam in minutes! I also like to stir in a little pure vanilla extract for flavor. Voila! That is it! Once it’s thickened, pour the jam into a glass jar and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The jam is delicious on toast, pancakes, waffles, stirred into oatmeal, yogurt,or for the classic PB&J!

Ingredients:

✔️1 lb blackberries (I used a bag of frozen mixed berries)

✔️2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup OR honey (depending on how sweet you like your jam)

✔️3 tablespoons chia seeds

✔️1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

1. In a medium-sized pot, bring the blackberries to a low boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the berries soften, about 5 minutes. Lightly mash the blackberries with a potato masher or fork. Leave some berries in chunks for texture.

2. Stir in the maple syrup and chia seeds. Cook the jam on low until it thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure you stir the jam so it doesn’t sitck.

3. Remove the jam from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let jam cool to room temperature. Pour in a glass jar or air-tight container and store in the refrigerator. The jam will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Note-you can sweeten the jam with honey, agave, or another sweetener if you wish. You can find chia seeds at most grocery stores. We buy them in bulk from Amazon. You can freeze the jam in an air-tight container.

 

Inspired by Two Peas & Their Pod

 

I ♡ DIY: Pinterest-Inspired Mason Jar Storage

mason jar storage idea

What can I say I was inspired by Pinterest! I make things like my energy bites and protein date bars on the regular and I kept finding myself having to deal with a variety of powders, meals, grains, and granules. Ain’t nobody got time for that; in the time I’d spent opening and closing all the bags and boxes I could’ve finished making the recipe, driven to the gym, and started my workout! I just wanted to be able to conveniently grab the ingredients, make my recipe, and go – so after scoping Pinterest I found a solution and  wanted to share this DIY with you!

You could also use this idea for organizing and storing anything in your home that you use frequently – makeup brushes, hair elastics, bobby pins, craft supplies, pens, paintbrushes, etc.

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I just went to home depot and found a kitchen shelf insert that was the exact fit I needed to under-mount above my kitchen sink. I’d be lying if I told you I actually did this project solo, I had a lot of help – okay mostly my husband made this happen – but after seeing him do it I’m confident I could’ve done it myself (He’s just a little more patient than I am). We did a test piece just to make sure it would secure the way we wanted. And it’s perfectly alright if your gorilla glue squirts out past the edges, because unless it’s way up high no one is going to see it! Also be sure to measure and space them out enough so that you can easily unscrew them!

Tools I Used:
gorilla glue 
13 Large Mason Jars
Shelf Insert
Drill
13 1/4″ screws
Tape Measure

 

I love the way it looks and it’s cut down on prep time! Functional and cute – that’s a win in my book!

Have you ever done a Pinterest inspired DIY project? What was it? I’d love to hear : )

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