How about a food cleanse ?

Detoxing, cleansing, measuring and meal timing, Paleo, Keto, plant based ahhhhhhhh, so many choices, so many theories, so many bio individual needs that one size DOES NOT fit all.

So what about just a simple Food Cleanse and what does that mean exactly. To me and my clients, a food Cleanse is just a simple way to get back into clean eating habits without the stress of having to measure out every bite you eat or following some strict caloric and macros tracking plans which become really unrealistic in the long term. It's a way to remove all of the processed and harmful foods in your life, without over planning or over thinking. What else does this cleanse involve? Happy you asked. It also involves removing any other toxic habits and making time for self care. Habits such as lack of sleep, lack of or too much exercise (yes the is a such thing as too much exercise), high stress levels, too much screentime, harboring unhealthy relationships, over working etc. It is a full analysis of your day to day habits and how they are effecting your mood, your focus, your energy and possible weight gain. Below are my 7 steps to a successful food cleanse and how you can get started:

  1. Remove Processed sugar : this means your morning muffin or the extra teaspoon of sugar in your morning coffee. Sugar can “weigh you down” in more ways than one. It can cause brain fog and make you sluggish after the initial “sugar high” passes. Wondering why you might be falling asleep at your mid morning meeting ? Your sugar crash may be the culprit.

  2. Sleep more: Sleep is crucial in keeping your mind functioning at its optimal capacity . It also helps to balance your hormone levels so that your body knows when to eat and knows when it is full. Less than 5 hours of sleep per night disrupts the natural balance of the hormones ghrelin (hunger hormone) and Leptin (the hormone that suppresses appetite), which can cause you to crave sugary and carb filled foods in abundance, causing weight gain (specifically around the abdomen)

  3. Remove Alcohol : by removing alcohol from your diet you are automatically reducing the amount of sugar and empty calories that you are in taking.

  4. Make time for Self Care: whether it be an extra long relaxing bath, 5 minutes of daily meditation, or taking that nice long walk during your lunch break, making time for self care is essential to your mental health and wellbeing. It's no mistake that you automatically feel relaxed and more focused after returning from vacation. So why is it that so many of us choose to skip this important step on a daily basis. Here's a quick tip: set aside 10 minutes a day for just you. Disconnect from social media, put your phone face down on your desk, and just take this time for you. I promise, after these 10 minutes of “you time”, your stress level will begin to drop and you will feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

  5. Stress Less: I know life is stressful, I know we all have multiple responsibilities, our careers, our family, our finances etc… but stressing about these things will not make them go away and it certainly will not help resolve them. Find ways to reduce stress and in turn I promise that the weight will drop, and you will be more productive since you will have a clearer more focused mind. My tip : I do 15 minutes of yoga by myself daily. I can't always get to a class so I watch a video on Gaia.com. this has helped my stress level go down tremendously.

  6. Eat from Nature: the easiest way to ensure that you are eating foods that are good for you, all you have to do is eat from nature. Fresh vegetable, fresh seasonable fruit, lean protein sources, healthy grains. Remove anything packaged or processed or anything your ancestors from the 1800’s would not recognize as food.

  7. Move more : whether it be a gym workout, a pilates class or just a long walk mid day, just commiting to moving your body around more will make you feel more energized, help your brain function better, and you guessed it, promote heart health. And weight loss. Take care of your body and I promise that your body will take care of you.

Ready to tackle your first Food Cleanse ? These simple steps are just the tip of the iceberg. I promise that you will see changes if you commit to yourself and your well being. Want a little guidance and a more in depth customized approach, reach out to me and let's set up your complimentary 60 minute HealthHistory Consultation so that we can discuss your specific needs and goals. Click on the link below to schedule your time with me!!

https://calendly.com/crystalrf8

In Health and Wellness,

Crystal

Why the long break???

Hello everyone. I know I took a really long break from writing in my blog, but truthfully, I always want to make sure that my content is worth reading instead of rushing something out just for the sake of posting. So, here I am, and I am so thankful that you all have continued to follow me and engage with me on Social Media despite my little break. 

So where have I been??? So much has gone on in such a short period of time. One of those things was a change in my workplace. After 3 years at New York Sports club, I received an offer to join a brand new gym as a Personal trainer. By brand new gym, I mean we literally opened our doors on June 6th. This was the first time I have ever been part of something so new from day 1 and I have to say, it has been amazing. Scary to leave my well built business behind, but so exciting to become part of this new team of extremely talented and dedicated individuals, who have a true passion for this industry. So I am now at Chelsea Piers in BK , which is quite a luxurious facility and I couldn't be happier. Most of my summer, has been consumed by working hard at the new place, so a little social media silence was necessary for me. If I have learned one thing about myself this past year, its that I need to stop trying to multitask, and I need to focus on one thing at a time in order to provide the best version of myself where it is needed. So now that I am fully settled in, and my schedule has become busier than I expected, I can refocus on you all again, and bring you some new, quality, refocused content. 

I have some really cool things that I am working on, which I am anxious to share. I also have some updates on the current state of my fitness journey and how I have refocused my workouts to promote balance and function instead of going hard and intense all of the time. New Logo to be revealed soon, and working with someone on updating the website for you all. Good things to come!!!

As Always, In health and wellness..

Crystal

Copy of Spring Allergies and How to Combat them

I don’t know about you guys, but I suffer from seasonal allergies. Mine are both indoor and outdoor, so as much as I love the beautiful spring weather, I hate the allergies that come with it. If you are like me, and allergies ruin your time outside in the spring, I want you to think about what lifestyle triggers may be making your allergies worse.
Inflammation can worsen your allergy symptoms, so it is super important that you pay attention to the type of food that you are eating during allergy season. You want to be sure to stay away from any food groups that will cause inflammation in your gut such as sugar, dairy, gluten and as always anything processed and chemically altered(which you should avoid on a regular basis anyway)
One thing I love to do with my clients during this time of year In order to uncover any hidden allergy triggers, is put my clients on a very simple elimination diet. My husband and both did this last spring and we both learned so much about what was causing our allergies to worsen. For me, sugar was a major trigger as was dairy. By eliminating these 2 very simple things from my diet, I was able to eliminate my daily allergy pill during allergy season. This was huge for me. 
Another helpful habit that I recommend is supporting your gut health even further by adding a clean probiotic daily supplement to your regimen . I will include my favorite products below for you to check out. Exercise is also a great tool as it will help to strengthen your immune system , helping to create a stronger barrier against allergens.
Try these tips, and I promise you will have a much more pleasant allergy season this year. If you need some help getting started on an elimination diet, submit the form through my website and I can help you get started. Good luck and Happy Spring !!!


Recommended Probiotics:

https://www.bewell.com/probiotics.html

https://www.isotonix.com/product/isotonix-digestive-enzymes-with-probiotics/?id=5664714&idType=product

 

Spring Allergies and How to Combat them

I don’t know about you guys, but I suffer from seasonal allergies. Mine are both indoor and outdoor, so as much as I love the beautiful spring weather, I hate the allergies that come with it. If you are like me, and allergies ruin your time outside in the spring, I want you to think about what lifestyle triggers may be making your allergies worse.
Inflammation can worsen your allergy symptoms, so it is super important that you pay attention to the type of food that you are eating during allergy season. You want to be sure to stay away from any food groups that will cause inflammation in your gut such as sugar, dairy, gluten and as always anything processed and chemically altered(which you should avoid on a regular basis anyway)
One thing I love to do with my clients during this time of year In order to uncover any hidden allergy triggers, is put my clients on a very simple elimination diet. My husband and both did this last spring and we both learned so much about what was causing our allergies to worsen. For me, sugar was a major trigger as was dairy. By eliminating these 2 very simple things from my diet, I was able to eliminate my daily allergy pill during allergy season. This was huge for me. 
Another helpful habit that I recommend is supporting your gut health even further by adding a clean probiotic daily supplement to your regimen . I will include my favorite products below for you to check out. Exercise is also a great tool as it will help to strengthen your immune system , helping to create a stronger barrier against allergens.
Try these tips, and I promise you will have a much more pleasant allergy season this year. If you need some help getting started on an elimination diet, submit the form through my website and I can help you get started. Good luck and Happy Spring !!!
 

Caffeine, Running and Croissants

Caffeine, Running and croissants. What do these 3 things have in common ? Absolutely nothing !! So why am I talking about them today ? I want to chat a little bit about the bad habits that some of us, especially busy women, mothers etc…have fallen prey to on a day to day basis without realizing how much of an impact these things are having on our bodies. Let me explain further.
Are you the type of person who wakes up in the morning and the first thing on your mind is making a cup of coffee because you cannot possibly imagine being able to function without it ? So you drink your coffee, get dressed , head to the gym for your workout (which was a little harder to get through today because you slept a whole 5 hours the night before after binge watching “This is Us” after you got home from work). After your gym session, you realize you didn’t pack a protein bar and you never had time for breakfast before leaving your house because the dog decided he wanted to enjoy the breeze in the yard this morning instead of using the bathroom  (this happens to me at least 3 days a week BTW so I didn’t just make that one up haha), so you head to get yet another cup of coffee and that delicious croissant at the coffee shop because you are now beyond starved and this seems like the easiest thing to grab before heading to work or before dropping the kids off at school. You get to work, still tired even after 2 cups of coffee and now for lunch you are craving all sorts of carby, sugary foods and it needs to be quick because you have a meeting to get to. Now the day is over 3 cups of coffee down the hatch, you ordered grilled chicken for lunch which was a good choice, but you also ate that cupcake at the office party because you needed a little pick me up midday. You head home, cook a nice healthy meal for the family, get the kids ready for bed and now it’s time to settle down but you can’t because now you have an energy spike, and you decided to watch some TV, or do a load of laundry. It’s 11pm and now you’re tired enough to go to bed but since you have your phone bedside, you can’t help but  check how many people liked your inspirational running post on IG in the last hour so you have to check that before bed. Lights off, your husband is in a deep sleep but now you are wide awake and your brain just doesn’t want to shut down. You finally fall asleep an hour after turning in and 5 hours later that dreaded noise of your alarm clock goes off, and its time to do it all again.
So now you evaluate your routine.  You workout 5 days a week, strength training, you run a few days a week, you even take yoga 1x a week to make sure you stay loose for your running. Why then are you having trouble losing weight? Why is most of the weight visceral abdominal fat, and why can’t you build any lean muscle ? Your diet is on point 90% of the time (except for that occasional croissant), you’re drinking your 3 liters of water daily, what going on? The answer is simple. Hormones, specifically Cortisol and our other stress hormones that are putting our bodies in a constant state of defense in response to our day to day lives and the many things that we are expected to handle without failure. It’s hard to balance everything without becoming stressed from the many demands that are expected of us on a day to day basis. Most people, barely make time for self care, and down time just becomes television time which is also putting our bodies under stress since the blue light from our electronic devices, is preventing us from getting proper rest . 
Hormones play a huge role in our weight loss journey. Even the most disciplined exerciser and meal planner, can suffer from weight gain and lack of lean mass if they are over stressed , over worked and lacking sleep.  Does any of this sound like you? If it does, I want you to take a moment to evaluate your day. Write down what your routine was today, take a look at amount of sleep you had last night, how much water and caffeine you drank , how busy your day was. Take a moment, and try to remember the last time you practiced self care, whether that be a massage, a yoga class, meditation or just reading a book. Do not underestimate the importance of stress reduction and self care in your journey to health and wellness. It’s just as important as food and exercise, actually maybe even more important. A stressed body is not a healthy body. So open up your calendar, and set aside 30 minutes this week for self care. If you do this weekly, it will become a habit and I promise you will see drastic differences in your mood and in how your body feels physically.
Need a little help or guidance in your self care routine ? Have you plateaued in your weight loss journey and want to talk about ways to bring your hormones back into balance ? Send me an email and I would love to set up a Health History call in order to help you get started on some steps towards being more successful in these areas.

In Health and Wellness
Crystal
 

Why do a Sugar detox

Detoxing can be a scary concept. I know this word is floating around the fitness and health industry like crazy. When we think of the word detox, we often think of juicing and fasting, but a detox can be approached in a more sustainable way as well. 

Another word that is all over these days, is sugar. Yes, sugar. We drink it, we eat it, and just when we think we have cut sugar out of our diet, it creeps up on us in our protein powders, granola bars, etc....

So why do a sugar detox? For several reasons. One: Sugar is highly addictive. Research states that sugar is 8x as addictive as cocaine. Crazy right!!!! With the average american consuming about 152lbs of sugar per year, about 22 teaspoons per person, per day, I think it is safe to say we have a huge problem. Not only is sugar contributing to the rise in type 2 diabetes in adults and children as well as the rising obesity epidemic in both adults and children, it is also an underlying contributor of many other diseases and health conditions. 

I started a 7 day sugar detox along with a group of my friends and clients on FB today (with a 7 day reintroduction phase after the initial detox). I think the initial reaction I received when I sent out the protocol to my participants was, "wow that looks really strict". However, the goal, is to fuel my clients and friends with plenty of protein, fresh veggies and healthy fats in order to curb the need for sugar and carbohydrate(the bad carbs of course, not all carbs are created equal). So if you want in with us, if you are ready to reset your body and learn a little bit about the effects sugar has been having on your body, shoot me a message on my "About me" page, and I will add you to our exclusive Facebook group. 

Have a great week everyone! 

Goal setting and SMART goals

We all have goals. Whether it be fitness, health, weight loss, financial, career, or relationship goals, we all have something that we long to accomplish. Goals keep us driven, motivated and give us something to work towards. But how many times have you set a goal, started off strong and then slowly forgot about your goal or just stopped working towards it all together. The thing about goals, is that you cannot go in blindly. Just like with anything of importance in your life, it is crucial to go into it with a plan of action. 

So how do you ensure that the next time you set a goal you actually stick to it? One of the best ways to do this, is to set S.M.A.R.T goals. What does that mean ?? Let me break it down below

S - The S stands for specific. Don't be vague about your goals. If you are trying to grow your business, don't just set the goal "I want to grow my business". Instead, say something like, I would like to grow my business by 30% this year which means I need to gain 20 new clients in the next 6 months. See the difference? By being specific, you can now set a plan in action to figure out how to market yourself, in order to gain those 20 clients. Once you reach your specific #, you can move on from here.

M - Measurable - Another thing we often do when setting goals, is we are too vague with our timelines, When I was a bikini competitor, I was always on a specific timeline, I would pick a show so that I knew how many weeks I had to prepare. So for example, I would say, "ok I have 12 weeks to prepare for my show, and the final week of that is peak week which means all of the hard work needs to get done in the next 11 weeks.." This is a measurable goal. I had a timeline with which to stick to. I knew if I was going on stage in 12 weeks, I didn't have any time to mess around. Its the same thing with your goals. Say you went to the doctor and your cholesterol was a little high so the doctor mentioned that he would like you to lose 15lbs and eat more fruits and vegetables before he puts you on cholesterol medication. You have a follow  up in 6 months. So now you have a timeline 6 months. You can say "since I have 6 months to lose the weight, I will eat vegetables with every meal, 2 servings of fruit a day, and do cardio for 20 minutes 3x per week in order to try to lose 2.5lbs per month." This plan of action is clear and concise and now its easier to navigate your week, since you now know that you will plan to set aside 20 minutes 3x a week for your cardio, and now you will make sure to add vegetables to your grocery cart weekly. 

A - Attainable/ Achievable. Now this is a big one. Is the goal you set achievable in the time and context in which you set it? Or are you setting yourself up for disappointment because you are setting a very ambitious goal, but only giving yourself a short amount of time to accomplish it? Make sure that your goals are realistic and achievable in the time frame that you have set. Make sure you always set yourself up for success. Maybe you just need to split your goal into 2 parts. Do one portion in 6 months and once you have gotten that far, you move on to the next portion until the full goal is accomplished.

R - Relevant. How relevant is your goal to your long term future goals. If you are trying to pay off debt, but set a goal to save $10,000 that year towards a new car, wouldn't it make more sense, if you said " I plan to save $10,000 in the next 12 months in order to pay off my debt. After my debt is paid, I will save $1000 a month towards my new car since I won't have the burden of debt to worry about. Of course saving is important, but these 2 goals conflict each other, so its best to tackle them one at a time since one will not help the other if done simultaneously. 

T - Set a time limit. Write it on your calendar. I will save $2500 by March, 2, 2018 so that I can book that vacation to Aruba in May with my wife. Here you have set the exact date that you would like to have the money by, so that when the time comes, you can book the dream vacation without having to worry about missing a good flight deal, or without having to worry about dipping into your savings or cards in order to book the trip. 

Simple steps, but steps that we often forget about. I get it, setting goals is exciting and fun and sometimes we just jump right in. But just as easily, we often jump right out as fast as we started. So set yourself up for success. Go into your goals with a plan of action and with a positive mindset. With these tools, you will set yourself up for success.

As always, 

In Health and Wellness, 

Crystal :)

Found this photo on Pinterest so I am not taking any credit for the photo :)

Found this photo on Pinterest so I am not taking any credit for the photo :)

New Goals

The past few weeks have been a little insane, as I am doing my best to manage training clients full time, taking Health Coaching calls, teaching classes and of course, doing my best sharing the responsibility of training our pup(which has not been easy lol but we love him). So when I say that my workouts have been less than ideal, I mean it. I have been doing my best to squeeze in about 45 minutes, 3 days a week, and taking 1 class if i can. It has been mostly total body interval work(which I love anyway), and 1 running class a week at Mile High Run club. If any of you are runners, and want to check out a cool studio where you can run with others, its a great place, They have 3 different class structures, so there is something for everyone.

Why am I writing about this? Because I like to remind you guys that life happens, and sometimes, getting to the gym 6 days a week is just not an option. And that is 100% ok. So what have I been prioritizing? Eating well of course. So clean food, veggies and as much home cooked food as possible. I have been making fresh juices at home which is also a great way to stay on track. I will post the recipe of the week below( I can't take credit for this one, my husband came up with it!!). And my 2nd priority, has been to make sure that all of my workouts consist of a short interval run. Why you ask? Because after an extremely long break from racing (we are taking since 2014), I have decided, that I would like to get back into racing, yikes!!!! After the Brooklyn Half in 2014, I hurt my hamstring pretty badly, then I started competing in fitness competitions, and I stopped racing. But I miss it, and I miss how it made me feel to cross the finish line. So I am going to take you guys on this journey with me. I will be posting my weekly runs, post and pre-run nutrition, as well as what I am doing for my own personal strength training so you guys can get a glimpse of my week. And, as always, if you have any questions, just send me a message, or comment below.

So what about you guys? What are your goals right now? Any exciting events, competitions, races coming up? Or are you just enjoying your workouts and working hard towards doing your best daily? I love hearing about your journeys. Let's chat about it below!!

Until next time!! 

In Health and Wellness,

Crystal

Me at the Rock and Roll Half marathon in Washington DC, my first half marathon!!

Me at the Rock and Roll Half marathon in Washington DC, my first half marathon!!

An Exercise in being grateful

Have you ever woken up after a long stretch of stressful days and just realized how lucky you are to be where you are ? I know a lot of you are like ,”ok enough with all of this positivity”, but I’m serious here. For those of you that know me well, know that I am a worrier and I tend to overwhelm myself with work and personal tasks. My schedule is always full and I go through phases where I get so caught up in my day to day that I forget to make time for family and friends and I instead keep working or I go home and rest (which is important too), but as part of this balanced life I am trying to lead, I sometimes need to just sit and remind myself to slow down, and not forget to live. So I’m making it a priority to do the things I love, and slow down a bit. For any of you that follow me an Facebook or IG, you know that Frank and I have a new member in our family, Elmer, our beautiful 9 week old Alaskan Malamute. He has brought so much joy and so many laughs to our home already, and he is forcing me to slow down and prioritize my schedule in order to spend time with him in between my crazy client load. I couldn’t be happier that I have him here and that I can come home to this loving little guy.
Aside from that, I am grateful to have spent some time this weekend reconnecting with a good friend who I haven’t seen in a very long time, to celebrate her bridal shower. I’m lucky to have friends who understand me and my craziness , and who are here to reconnect, even if it isn’t as often as we would like. 
So the point if this short blog today , is to get you guys thinking about the things you are grateful for today. I know we can all sit here and vent our woes and complain on social media about the things that aren’t going right in our lives, but how often do we sit down and say “I am lucky to be here” or “I am grateful for..”. I challenge you all to take a second, and think about what makes you happy, who and what are you grateful for, and how can you make some more time for these things ? Take some time, write it down for yourself, and leave some comments below for me if you would like.  As always, I look forward to connecting with you all.

In Health and Wellness, 
Crystal
 

 

Finding Balance on Vacation

For those of you who follow me on IG, you know that my husband and I recently traveled to Austin Texas for a mini vacation to celebrate both of our birthdays. Now, he and I have been following the Whole 30 for the past 2+ months with great success.  So of course, I was a little concerned with how we were both going to enjoy the delicious food that Texas has to offer while we were away, without completely destroying our whole 30. Just a quick side note, both of us have seen such amazing things from Whole 30 which I will talk about on a future blog post, but just to name a few things, Franks skin cleared up and he lost 9lbs. My allergies have been almost non existent  (huge for me and anyone who knows me knows that I took allergy pills everyday, all year round for both my indoor and outdoor allergies for my entire life), and the joint pain and cramping I have been felling in my hands for the past year is now gone. Anyway, I’ll talk more about this in next post. Back to our Vaca 
Austin had some amazing food (ex : delicious BBQ, an abundance of meat, tacos, and of course, my weakness- Voodoo Donuts which had the best donuts I have ever tried). Anyway, back in the day when I was a competitor, I  either would have not taken a vacation, or I would have packed all of my food for the 4 days, forcing my husband to dine alone at restaurants or via room service. My priority, was my diet, and I didn’t care who or what I neglected, I only knew one extreme way of living and I did not think that it was possible to find balance. I missed out on a lot of things during that time, and it makes me sad to realize that now. (To any competitors out there, please note that this was my experience and I know that many of you have found that balance while competing, but I wasn’t able to). Of course I am not a competitor anymore, but there is still that part of me that fears falling completely off track, just because this has always been a slippery slope for me. But at this point in my life, thanks to my education and Integrative Nutrition, I realized, that there is a way to stay on track, stay healthy, but to also live my life and enjoy experiences with loved ones without depriving myself, neglecting my loved ones, or stressing over food and macros. Finding that balance between indulging in things that I wanted to try since I was traveling, and making choices that kept me as close to whole 30 as I possibly could while away, was exactly what I needed.
So here is what I did, and what worked for me. I woke up every morning to a 25 minute intense HIIT session at the hotel gym. In the past I would have spend an hour and a half as my husband waited for me to get some breakfast. But I realized how out of balance that was. Vacation is about relaxation and breaking from your normal routine. I’ve always stayed on my routine on vacation which never made me truly feel like I was taking time off to reset and relax. So this shorter gym routine actually energized me , and got me ready for the day. After that,  we started our days walking all over Austin visiting galleries and the Capital building and of course listening to some great music at various bars and rooftops. At every restaurant, I made the choice to either indulge or make a smarter choice. Thus balance enabled me to enjoy the amazing southern food with my husband,  while finding balance with green juice and avocado smoothies later in the day to get in my greens and nutrients. The hardest part for me, was trying a donut(ok 2 donuts) at the famous Voodoo Donuts on 6th street , which was amazing and worth it. I was afraid that my sugar demon would return, but luckily, because of my balanced mindset, it did not. And the indulgence was just that, an indulgence. 

I can honestly say, that we thoroughly enjoyed our trip and the delicious food with my husband and I do not feel badly about any of it. Food shouldn’t be an obsession ( as it was for me in the past ), it should be something we enjoy for nourishment, but also something we enjoy with family and friends. I know for some of you, like me, it’s hard to not count calories, it’s hard to not feel guilt when we eat a treat, and its hard to not workout everyday for 2 hours, but we need to stop beating ourselves up over these things. We need to stop bringing negativity to our relationship with food, and exercise.  The freedom I have found with food and exercise since becoming a Health Coach, has been life changing, and I am truly grateful for that.
If any of your guys struggle with what I have in the past, please comment below and let’s chat it out. I am also offering complimentary Health and Nutrition Consultations, where I can help you find that food freedom and build a healthier and easier relationship with food. As always, I love to hear from you all so, please leave some comments below and let me know how you have found balance on your vacations. 
Thank you as always for reading
In Health and  Wellness
Crystal
 

Self Magazine Article!

In this week’s blog I wanted to talk about the amazing opportunity that I had 2 week ago, to contribute to an article on Self magazines online platform. For years, even before I started getting really serious about my fitness, even before I decided to compete, I would live reading articles in fitness magazines such as Self, Shape, Women’s Fitness , Runner’s World etc.. as I am sure many of you read as well. So when I received a phone call 2 weeks ago as I was walking out of a run class at Mile High Run Club, asking me if I would be interested in doing a video/photos shoot with Self.com for their Fitness section, my immediate answer was :Where, what time and yes!!! When I started competing 2 years ago, I remember saying to myself, that because I was in the best shape of my life, I would love to be given the opportunity to be featured in a magazine like so many other bikini competitors I knew had been. This  was a dream of mine since I was younger, but I never talked about it, since I wasn’t considered fit at the time. But now that I was competing, I had finally come to a place in my life where I was starting to look like I could come close to these fit, athletic bodies that I saw daily in the magazines. So I worked hard on my body, but I neglected everything else. I never felt ready or good enough to be considered for something like that. So I didn’t push and network, all I did was workout, measure my meals and hope that I could perfect my body so that I could eventually feel confident enough to get some photos taken of myself and eventually be confident enough to approach a magazine or any editorial platform to be featured. But that never happened. As fit as I was, as lean as I got, my confidence was lower than ever. So my goal and one of my dreams just seemed out of reach. I would never be ready.


Fast forward 2.5 years later. I no longer compete. I workout to make myself happy, to feel strong and to stay healthy. I eat whole food and preach holistic eating instead of deprivation. I put my energy into my clients and their programs, workouts and diets,  since that is what brings me happiness. Sharing my knowledge and my passion with others so that they too can fall in love with fitness and wellness in the same way that I have. My goals went from vanity to wellness. I now just want to spread my message of positivity behind the fitness industry and self love of our bodies which come in all shapes , sizes and fitness levels. So getting this call, to do this article was surreal. I do not look like that competitor anymore but, in my opinion, I am my healthiest, strongest self at this moment, and I feel more fit than I ever was in the past. I also now have so much more knowledge in regards to nutrition and workouts so I am so excited to be able to share that with you all in this article. 


The takeaway from my blog today (sorry if I seemed to ramble), is to never give up on yourself. Always work hard to be your best self and carry around confidence at every stage in your life. It will influence everything you do and it will attract the things that you strive to achieve. So here it is, my link to this week’s workout on self.com . It’s a great piece on 11 plank moves that can double as a cardio workout.  Please enjoy, try the workout and let me know what you think !!

http://www.self.com/gallery/plank-exercises-that-double-as-cardio-moves

In Health, Wellness and Positivity always,
Crystal
 

 

 

Here it is !!!! My Feature on Self.com

Here it is !!!! My Feature on Self.com

A little BTS from the shoot. Such an amazing day !! Thank you Self Magazine.

A little BTS from the shoot. Such an amazing day !! Thank you Self Magazine.

Diets VS Healthy Eating

Diet and healthy eating go hand in hand. But as we all know, diets aren't always healthy. There was the 90's low fat craze, which was a compete disaster. People lost weight, but as far as health was concerned, people were loading up on low fat snacks and products that were loaded with chemicals and sugar alcohols. So it was acceptable to eat your days worth of calories in low fat snack cakes, but don't you dare touch that hard boiled egg or avocado. Why did we not question this earlier ? 

Thankfully, things have evolved, and we have become much more educated on food, diets and nutrients. The millennial generation is practicing good healthy eating habits and spending most of their income on Matcha and Organic Fresh produce, which is amazing.  But some people still swear by the old school mentality of calories in versus calories out, and low fat being the way to go instead of embracing healthy fats (which our brain needs to function). Some still seek a reason to justify eating low fat junk food instead of a serving of veggies or a package of almonds. The problem is, these artificially created snack foods and low fat products are exactly that, artificial. The body has to work very hard to break down these food products, as our digestive system was not built to bread down chemicals. It was built to break down real food. Avocados, eggs, nuts, veggies, fruit and lean animal proteins are whole foods and what our digestive system was built to break down and use for fuel. When we neglect these foods, and start to over eat the artifical junk food what happens? The body has to work very hard to try to break down these artificial food items. As a result of the excess stress on the digestive system, we experience inflammation in the body. You probably hear this word on every food blog these days, but it is a real thing. For some people, (again we have to keep in mind the concept of bio individuality which I discussed in an earlier blog post) certain grains, sugar, alcohol, legumes and dairy have a very inflammatory effect on their bodies, especially when consumed in excess. This can lead to weight gain, a tired sluggish feeling from the body working so hard and for some, bloating and excess gas which let's be real, is never convenient. 

So what's the solution. Do we eliminate dairy and brown rice forever? No, not necessarily. This is where we practice moderation. All of these food categories that cause inflammation, are completely fine to eat in moderation. As individuals, we need to learn how much of a certain food group we are able to tolerate. It will be different for everyone. So what might work for you might not work for your best friend or sister. It's important to pay attention to how your body feels after each meal and really start to tune in more. 

The easiest way to avoid this inflammatory effect, is to introduce mostly whole foods to your diet and try your best to avoid anything artificial or any low fat packaged products that have ingredient lists full of chemical that you do not recognize. As far as grains and beans which are whole natural foods, please eat and enjoy, but pay attention to how your body responds to them. Listen to your body so that you can learn on an individual level, what is agreeing with your body and what isn't. 

In conclusion of this very long blog post, the main takeaway I am offering is to eat from nature as often as you can, and indulge on occassion. If a certain food group does not agree with your body, then avoid it as as often as possible so that you can feel your best. Veggies, leafy greens, lean protein, fruit, nuts and beans, whole grain and legumes (eat as frequently as your body can tolerate-for some that can be every day for some that  may only mean a few days a week). Avoid processed and artificial foods as they will reek havoc on your digestive system. And of course, indulge on occassion. Enjoy that glass of wine when you are on a date, and enjoy the piece of cake that your mom baked at a holiday gathering. Do not neglect family and friends because of your diet, instead, make healthy choices around them in these situations. Don't create restrictions that are so tight that you neglect your family and friends. I have done this and I promise you, it isn't worth it. Take care of your body, feed it whole real food and live your life with the people you love.

If you need help Kickstarting a healthy eating plan or if you are looking for a new way to balance healthy eating, please shoot me an email on my "Contact me" link. I have a great online health coaching program that is personalized to each individual. I would love to help you on your journey :)

In Health and Wellness
❤Crystal❤

I found this on Pinterest and absolutely love this message!!! 

I found this on Pinterest and absolutely love this message!!! 

Food Relationships

In my industry, the word diet is used on a daily basis more than several times a day. On a personal level, diet had always been a tricky subject for me to talk about. When I first started getting serious about my workouts, I thought that the only way to be successful in losing weight was by counting calories, calories in versus calories out. I was a believer in low fat food and diet food products. Sugar free products enabled me to still indulge in sweets and have something to pour over my pancakes without guilt(or so I thought). I didn't realize how many unnatural ingredients and sugar alcohols were in these products. I just thought, hey its a fiber one bar so it must be healthy. I didn't know any better and I honestly didn't understand the association between processed food and how the unnatural ingredients in them effect not just our weight, but our hormones, and our mood. I didn't understand why I could snack on these things that were healthy and diet friendly, but my body was not able to get lean. I worked out so much and I ate as healthy as I thought I could, but I just wasn't seeing the results I wanted in my body. On top of the fact, that my sugar cravings were at an all time high and I was always hungry. I thought the hunger was just from my workouts, but now I know they were from eating so many empty calories which weren't satiating me, and from boredom(which is something we will talk about in another blog post). In addition, I was depending on Protein powder and protein bars to get me through my workouts or to fuel me after a hard workout when I didn't have the time to sit down and eat a proper lunch. Some of my protein powders has ingredient lists that were so long they took up the whole back of the tub. Just FYI, every single one of those protein powders are no longer in my pantry and I only eat RX Bars or Larabars want something quick, since these bars have so few ingredients all of which are natural and unprocessed.

I didn't grow up eating healthy food. As a kid, my diet consisted of a lot of carbs, sugary drinks, cereals, sweets, soda, pizza, and on occassion fast food. My mom had a pretty busy schedule being a single mom with 3 daughters who were all in different schools in different parts of Long Island. We all had after school activities like band practice, twirling lessons and acting classes. Quick meals, snacks like chips and candy bars became the norm as we constantly needed to be somewhere on a schedule. On addition to that, my mom was a pretty picky eater, so there were certain things she just didn't cook, because she didn't enjoy them. And as we all know, kids learn their eating habits from their parents. We only eat what we are exposed to, so it is normal for us to develop palettes that are similar to our parents. 

I had a massive sweet tooth most of my life. Never really with candy but chocolate and ice cream, snack cakes and juice were my addictions. I didn't think there was anything wrong with these things because juice was healthy right? And sugary cereals are what all kids ate for breakfast. I mean, what kid didn't love a bowl of lucky charms with a glass of orange juice in the morning. I was super tiny and thin when I was young and I was that way up until high school, so again, I never thought much about my eating habits and how bad they were. In high school, as my body started to change, I became a little self conscious in my skin, and of course I decided to be more cautious with what I was eating. So when I bought snapple iced tea, I went for the diet version and I went for the Sun Chips instead of Doritos, because somehow they seemed to be the healthier choice. Guys, I'm not saying that my mom was at fault for my eating because honestly, nutrition is all about education. And if you don't know what is harmful, you won't know what to avoid. And I know many of my peers had similar eating habits growing up and maybe some have even continued those habits. But that is why I beleive I have made this leap of faith in my career. My mission, is to educate people about what they are putting into their body. So many of our bad eating habits stem from our childhood, and it's hard to break habits when this is all we know. Education is key when it comes to nutrition. The more you understand how food effects your body and your mood, the more prone you will be to make better food choices. 

As a 34 year old woman, who has spent most of her life having a very odd relationship with food, I think it is so important to really understand what we are putting into our bodies. Whole food, real food and food grown in nature is what we were meant to eat. If you can't recognize an ingredient in your food, you probably shouldn't be eating it. I know that this is still a very difficult thing for most of us to adjust to. Throwing out the food scale and not logging in our calories or points can seem really scary right? I mean, numbers comfort people or freak them out. And for all the people who count 

calories and macros, it can be a scary to give that up. Trust me, it took me a long time to get over that fear. It made me uncomfortable to eat blindly when it came to numbers. But once I started seeing my body change just eating real food, I felt so free. Finally, food didn't control my day. I controlled what I ate. And I was eating things that I loved to eat, without feeling guilty. I felt a comfort in my skin that I never felt in the past. And the way I eat now, is a lifestyle not a diet. I encourage my clients to view healthy eating as a lifestyle not just a quick diet. I find that this mindset shift, has left them feeling free and empowered with their food which leads to success in the long run. 

I will be posting more about this topic with some articles very soon. If you want to stay the most up to date on my posts and articles, sign up for my newsletter and you will receive the most update information on nutrition, whole foods and of course fitness. 
I would love to hear about you all and your food journeys. Feel free to leave your comments below. If any of you are seeking guidance with your nutrition and getting on the right path to wellness, please feel free to shoot me and email and I can guide you through the programs that I offer in this area.

Thanks for reading guys!!
In health and wellness,
❤Crystal❤ 

 

 

Fresh Veggies at Union Market. Such a Beautiful place to shop!!

Fresh Veggies at Union Market. Such a Beautiful place to shop!!

Why I Became a Health Coach and Personal Trainer

I wanted to talk a little bit today about what brought me to the world of Health coaching and Personal Training. I wasn't always in the Fitness and Wellness Industry. For 10 years I was a Fashion Designer. I studied at the Fashion Institute of technology and received my BA in fashion Design in 2005. I was so excited to be a designer and I started working immediately after graduation. I loved my industry, the shopping, the creativity, the fact that I was doing something I had wanted to do since I was a little girl making clothes for my Barbies using scraps of leftover fabric that my mom would have otherwise thrown away. It was everything I thought I wanted. But the industry quickly took a toll on me. The long hours, the tight deadlines, the many hours glued to a desk and a computer screen designing patterns and working on presentations. I found myself eating junk food, sugar, drinking way too many Starbucks lattes and of course indulging in happy hours several times a week in order to release stress and feel like I had a social life. In other words, I was leading a very unhealthy lifestyle for a woman in her early 20's. Living in NYC, it is so easy to fall into this lifestyle. You work late hours and then you don't want to rush home, you want to relax with a glass or 4 of wine and then of course eat junk food since you never made the time for dinner before leaving the office.

When I was 25, I decided to join a gym. It was a small local gym and it was affordable so I figured this would be a good place to start. I would go workout about 2x a week, which wasn't much, but I always felt good when I went. I also realized how out of shape I was when I could barely run 1 mile without feeling drained. I started to grow bored of working out alone, so I started taking classes like spin, Zumba and Total Body conditioning which I loved. I started to enjoy the gym but I felt like I needed more in order to really start seeing my body change, so I started working with a  personal trainer. That was the best thing I could have done for myself. It held me accountable by scheduling time for my sessions and for the first time I was doing workouts the were specifically made for me. I continued to take classes and then I started running which was a challege for me, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I signed up for 2 Spartan races and a year later 2 half marathons. The discipline that I gained training for races was so important to me. I loved having something to work towards and finishing these races felt amazing, I went from eating horribly and never working, out to signing up for races and commiting to my fitness. I felt amazjng. The only thing that frustrated me, was the fact that my body was still not as fit looking as it felt, I was fast, I was strong but I didn't look as fit as I wanted to. So, through the encouragement from a friend, I decided to train for a Fitness Competition. In  2014, I hired a coach, and started my journey to the stage.

It was during this journey to the stage that I started learning about food and macro counting. My body was changing fast, with a lot of hard work, both at the gym and in the kitchen. But it was also here, where I started focusing on depravition rather than health, and working out in excess rather than working out to feel good. I have a bit of a competitive side to me, so of course, I wanted to reach perfection and I wanted to win. 3 shows later, I was tired, and frustrated, and because I did not  place well at my shows, despite my hard work. I became depressed, and instead of working hard to continue to improve my body, I was angry and I took it out on myself. I started eating everything in site that I had deprived myself of for a year and a half. Sweets, which have always been my weakness, junk food, everything that I wasn't "allowed" to eat during my prep, And the more of those things I ate, the more I wanted them. I hated how I felt and looked, but I couldn't seem to get myself back into a routine. I wasn't working out, I was eating badly, and everytime I said I was going to go back on my "diet", I was only able to maintain that for a few days before I fell off the wagon. 

At this same time I was preparing to take my NASM exam to become a trainer, and I felt like I needed to get my act together if I was going to work with clients. I needed to be the person I was before I started competing. The person who loved her workouts, who loved healthy food and who enjoyed encouraging people to take care of their bodies. It was that person that wanted to change her career to become a Personal trainer in order to make a difference in other people's lives. It was that version of me, who remembered what a positive impact fitness had on my life, and I wanted to give that back to people. People who were new to fitness and people who needed someone that they could trust and relate to. So I did just that. I got back into my workouts, I started eating healthy without depriving myself, and I started researching nutrition programs that would best suit my goals. That is when I enrolled in a Health Coaching program that changed my life. I learned so much about myself and about food/ nutrition. I learned that it wasn't about the quantity of food but rather the quality of food  and I was excited to share this with my clients. I wanted to get them away from the old school mentality of dieting and get them to think in a more modern way about nutrition. Food quality is everything. Eating natural, whole foods is the way to go, and I will talk more about this in later blog posts. So this was my new mission. I not only wanted to provide my clients with workouts and exercise plans, but I wanted to be able to guide them nutritionally. I want my clients to enjoy food and to feel good about what they are eating. I do not want my clients to feel like they have to deprive themselves of food and I want them to understand that they don't need to count calories or depend on a food scale in order to lose weight. My programs teach them more sustainable habits.

This is probably the longest blog post that I will ever post, but I want you all to understand where I come from, I want you all to know that I was once that new person at the gym just trying to find my way. We have all been there and if that is where you are right now, I am excited for you. This journey can be life changing and I am excited to be a part of it with you.

I would love to hear about you guys and you stories. Please feel free to share in the comments below and thank you for reading my post!! 

In Health and Wellness