Tag: fitness blog

Cali Girl Gets Macros!

Welcome to the wonderful world of macros which is both exciting and terrifying, for those who don’t know how to get started! Starting in January 2017, I decided to try using macros to calculate my nutritional goals because I saw a lot of people achieving great results with it. Below, I outline how to get started, but if you are already a macro veteran, you can bypass the How I Got Started section and scroll down to Lessons Learned.


How I Got Started

I heard the acronym IIFYM everywhere, and learned that it stands for “if it fits your macros!” I discovered that the site has a free macro calculator here: https://www.iifym.com/iifym-calculator/, so I used their free calculator, input the required information like age, height, weight, activity level, and goals. A lot of this is based upon how much exercise you commit to every day.

After entering your information and goals, the site gives your macros based on what you input (mine are below)! The great thing about it is that you can PERSONALIZE this to fit what YOU want to do with your body and what you want to consume. I actually adjusted mine a little bit to increase the protein, increase the healthy fat (to accommodate nuts and avocado), and reduce the carbs. The values all have a relationship (so as you change protein, fat, carbs, etc. the others change to fit within the same total number of calories). You can change it too! This is what I came up with for my goals.

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The IIFYM.com website has a place where you can sign up for their specific meal and fitness plans, but I decided that I’m going to put together my own meal plan. I love seeing how things work, and the DIY method is FREE! I asked around to find out what friends use to calculate daily macros, and the first app that was suggested to me was My Fitness Pal.

I downloaded the app, and it seemed very intuitive. You search for a food that you ate or plan to prep, weigh it, and input it in the app. The app then tells you the amount of calories and all of the macros in that food or meal! Easy enough right?

I started with chicken. I got a value pack of chicken breasts, cut them up, and weighed them on my food scale (I use that little “tare” button to offset the weight of the plate so that it’s not included in the weight of the chicken). The food scale that I have is unfortunately not available anymore, but here are a good selection of ones you can try from Amazon if you don’t have one already!

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From there, I input the foods from my recipes into myfitness pal individually. So if my recipe contains 6 ounces of chicken as seen above, 1 tbsp of basil, a dash of paprika, 1 tbsp of parsley, 1/8 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper, I enter all of those ingredients into myfitnesspal. From there, if I add a salad to my mealprep, I enter all of those individual ingredients as well to get the totals for that particular meal.

After entering all of the information in, this meal below came out to the following (I did not add dressing to my salad in case you were wondering why it wasn’t listed):

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As I mealprepped more and more meals to the week, I added them all into my app, under the categories Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks.

I then can make sure that my calories and macros fit within the guidelines I got as a result from entering my information into the IIFYM.com website!

I have to say however, that I’m not extremely strict and rigid with the calories and macro counts; I just keep them in mind and make sure they don’t fall too far out of range.

And that’s it! You enter in all of the foods you prep, or if you’re not a mealprepper, you can just add foods per meal as you eat them and get a daily total!


Lessons Learned

And now… for the lessons learned. So much information all in one week!

1 // My Fitness Pal Contains Incorrect Information

I was going along and entering in my food, checking the calories/macros for all of last week, blissfully without questioning the information in the My Fitness Pal app. After all, MFP  was designed for this, and should be smarter than me, right? WRONG! Here are some reasons why your information might be incorrect

  • User Generated Errors – MFP contains foods that are generated by users, meaning that anyone can enter information and it might not be correct. If you search for and find these incorrect entries and add them to your meal plan, this incorrect information will throw off your totals. I made the mistake of looking for a complete meal and found this “Western Omlette.” I recreated it not knowing that the user who input this was incorrect!

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  • My Fitness Pal generated errors – MFP has “verified” foods, noted by a little green check mark as seen below. Most of the time they’ve been pretty accurate, but for some reason, several times I’ve calculated the calories based on the macros and sometimes they too have a slight margin of error. For this reason, I did some research and learned how to verify the calories using simple math.

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2 // Verify the Calories Based On the Macros

I learned that:

fat = x 9 (that’s a multiply sign)

carbs and protein = x 4

To show how this works, let’s look at a nutrition label for gluten free pasta.

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If use the basic formula here, Fat (1 x 9) + Carbs (42 x 4) + Protein (5 x 4) = 9 + 168 + 20 = 197. That’s pretty darn close to 200 (I think they round up). I now have learned to double check to make sure that the total calories look correct/are within close range to make sure my counts are accurate!

3 // Scan Your Food

My Fitness Pal has a scanner feature, where you can scan the barcodes of most foods and it will show the information without you having to enter it directly! This saves me lots of time!

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4 // Getting Your Totals

A really awesome person from Instagram shared with me that if you turn My Fitness Pal to landscape format, it gives you your total macros per meal and for the day! Being a person who keeps the rotating feature on my iPhone currently on lock (so that it doesn’t rotate), I had no idea and was adding things up manually! But look no further to modern technology…. woohoo!

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A Huge Variety of Apps

There are a lot of tracker apps for this, and MFP is not the only one you can choose from. I didn’t have a lot of time to try them all, but I did download Lifesum, and really liked its fun and sleek user interface as seen below. However I think based upon some of the research I did, most of these apps are about the same in accuracy, but MFP has a larger database of food. If you’re looking for more information and not sure which app you might want to use, this article (http://www.imore.com/) has a great detailed breakdown of some of the most popular ones! The article is a few years old, so if you know of some better apps feel free to leave a comment in the box below!

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To Sum It All Up

So remember those results I posted from the iifym.com website up there? It recommended my daily totals be: 1969 total calories, 153g protein, 105g fat, and 103g carbs.

This is my meal schedule for the week and my totals are 1982 calories, 149g protein, 105.5g fat, and 110g carbs. I came pretty close!

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Well that’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed my recap of my first week with macros, and hope it helps you get started if you haven’t already. I’ll be posting my weekly meal plans on my Instagram page @caligirlgetsfit, so feel free to follow along and tag me in your photos so I can follow your journey too! I love that so many people are doing this and we are helping each other learn and get better. #strongertogether

With love and yummy tummies from California,

Shannon @caligirlgetsfit

Sweat San Francisco Holiday Meetup

I love our San Francisco fitness community! It’s an amazing thing when a group of women come together not only to sweat, but to forge friendships and build community. When we first started, we had a small gathering of 25 women interested in fitness, and now, we have over 1,000 women in our Facebook group!

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This holiday season, we hosted a group fitness meetup sponsored by the Bay Club San Francisco in their indoor gymnasium. This beautiful gym is home to everything you need for a killer workout including a state-of-the-art weight room, basketball courts, squash and racquetball courts, yoga, pilates, and even an area where you can take a cycling class with your own bicycle. I recently joined this gym, and I am so proud to host our group here as well as call this my fitness home.

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I had such blast co-leading this workout with my fearless team members Mickey, Brooke, Maddie, and Jeanette, and Wendy! We made the most out of this beautiful space with a killer yet fun workout! We did superman planks, jump lunges, squats, drop push-ups, burpees, and more (full workout at the bottom of this post)!

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Everyone pushed themselves hard, and did an amazing job. We were so impressed that over 100 people in the Bay Area brought their A-game and killed their workout! And not only did we sweat, but we had fun, forged new friendships and got reacquainted with old ones.

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We have the most amazing community, and we are so grateful to be a part of such an amazing crew. Thank you to all of our friends who came out to sweat, and we hope to meet new faces at the next one!

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We also couldn’t have done it without our sponsors. We only support brands that we truly love working with, and couldn’t have asked for a better lineup! THANK YOU to everyone below for all of your support!

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If you missed the workout and want to do it at home, you can! Here’s our workout circuits (one minute per exercise X 2)!

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Hope you enjoy the rest of these pictures, and hope to sweat with you soon!

Love,

Shannon

@caligirlgetsfit

Carbs are not the enemy

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about low-carb diets, and I think for some people, it can help them lose weight and be healthier. In fact, I have a good friend who went full keto and was able to lose over 100 pounds through the keto diet + exercise! However, for me, I truly believe carbs are not the enemy. My 95 year old grandpa has been eating carbs all his life, especially white rice, and he is one of the healthiest people I know. His diet is balanced, combining the carbs with healthy protein from fish and chicken along with lots of vegetables. He still teaches a ballroom dance class, drives, climbs ladders to pick fruit off of his trees, and takes daily walks.

My point is that I think we all need to find what works for us, and any diet that is too restrictive and extreme is difficult to maintain for the average person. I believe the key to health is moderation and having a well-rounded diet. In addition, I walk an average of 5-7 miles per day (to and from work + errands), plus work out almost every day. Without carbs in my diet, I would feel sluggish from lack of energy!

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Here are some facts that I found on health.com supporting the campaign for carbs:

Eating carbs makes you thin for life

A recent multicenter study found that the slimmest people also ate the most carbs, and the chubbiest ate the least. The researchers concluded that your odds of getting and staying slim are best when carbs make up to 64% of your total daily caloric intake, or 361 grams.

Carbs fill you up

Many carb-filled foods act as powerful appetite suppressants. They’re even more filling than protein or fat. These special carbs fill you up because they are digested more slowly than other types of foods, triggering a sensation of fullness in both your brain and your belly. Research done at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found that consuming Resistant Starch in one meal caused study participants to consume 10% fewer calories (roughly 150 to 200 calories for the average woman) during the next day, because they felt less hungry.

Carbs control blood sugar and diabetes

The right mix of carbs is the best way to control blood sugar and keep diabetes at bay. In one study at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Center at the USDA, participants who consumed a diet rich in high Resistant Starch foods were able to lower their post-meal blood sugar and insulin response by up to 38%.

Eat the carbs you want, but you need to combine them so that they don’t cause a spike in your blood sugar. Instead of eating white rice, switch to brown and combine it with beans, corn, or other high Resistant Starch foods that keep your blood sugar more balanced than low-carb diets.

Carbs speed up metabolism

Carbs high in Resistant Starch speed up your metabolism and your body’s other natural fat burners. As Resistant Starch moves though your digestive system, it releases fatty acids that encourage fat burning, especially in your belly.

These fatty acids help preserve muscle mass—and that stokes your metabolism, helping you lose weight faster. Researchers set out to fatten up two groups of rats, feeding one group food that was low in Resistant Starch. A second group was fed Resistant Starch-packed food. The rats fed the low Resistant Starch chow gained fat while losing muscle mass. Rats that ate the high Resistant Starch meals preserved their muscle mass, keeping their metabolism moving.

SOURCE: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20359383,00.html

IMG_3906Gluten free pancakes from my kitchen!

So I’ve concluded for myself that carbs are an essential part of my diet!

The moral of this story is that it doesn’t make sense to overly restrict any foods. Or as my friend Brooke says, foods do not have moral components; they are not either good or bad. I personally feel my healthies when I eat a balanced diet including carbs, protein, healthy fat, and natural sugar.

 

Of course each person’s results will depend on their level of activity, genetics, and type of carbs you eat. But the moral of the story is that it’s A-OK to stick with healthy carbs, like quinoa, brown rice pasta, and beans for a well-rounded balanced diet!

 

Meal Prep On The Go!

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Life for me has been a bit crazy between my office job (I work at an architecture firm), workout schedule, and photoshoots (I work part time as a lifestyle model/commercial actress in SF). Most of the time, I’m running late for something, don’t have time for food, and end up eating unhealthy snacks or not eating at all, only to leave myself eating one big meal a day. This is HORRIBLE considering it’s bad for your metabolism to starve your body or to eat all at once. My solution? Meal prep the night before!

This was my first attempt at “meal prep” for a whole day of snacks for on the go. I had a business lunch planned for the day, so I didn’t need lunch, but at least my breakfast and snacks were planned so I could avoid stopping by a fast food place when I get hungry!

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For breakfast I packed some rolled oats, which was easy to make at the office by adding some water. Topped with a few strawberries, and it was good to go! I had a lot of driving to do, so the nicely boxed little snacks were convenient to eat in the car while on the go.

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I brought along my water infuser by dropbottle to infuse my water with lemon to keep me hydrated!

I was always hesitant to pack food to go in the past because I was worried about it not lasting in the car or getting spoiled or too hot from the California sun! I recently got a special insulated bag to carry my meals in that also holds ice packs to keep it all fresh! I highly recommend The Shield bag by Fitmark, but really any insulated cooler bag can work. The great thing about this bag however is that my snacks are accessible from the top AND the side, perfect since I have been driving a lot lately! They’re running a 4th of July sale right now – JULY4 for 20% off!

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I would love to know your experience with meal prep, how often you do it, and has it made a difference in your fitness results/health! I plan to continue this for a bit to track  my own results as well, so I’ll be posting what’s in my bag regularly on Instagram – @caligirlgetsfit!

Have a Happy 4th of July, beautiful fit people!

xx,

Shannon

Protein Powder

Protein powder is somewhat new territory for me. When I think of it, I would envision men with muscles drinking protein shakes to get more bulky! But after talking with both male AND female trainers, I learned that it can help me to gain lean muscle mass.

I did a little bit of research into the different types of protein shakes – everything from whey (the most popular) to soy, rice, pea, and even hemp protein. I decided to try the whey protein because in addition to helping to reduce fat and gain muscle mass, it has also been reported to improve the immune system (source: Men’s Health).

And that’s not all. According to Women’s Health, women may benefit even more than men from protein supplements because we don’t always get enough in our every day diet. The average woman consumes 46 grams of protein per day, but the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes consume between 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram body weight per day. For a 140-pound woman, that would be between 76 and 108 grams of protein per day. (Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/protein-powder-guide)

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I decided to try the Designer Whey Protein because it was recommended by a friend as tasting good, and has no added sugars, hormones, or preservatives (this is not an ad or in any way sponsored by the protein powder company). I got both the vanilla (pictured above) and the chocolate (shown in the blender bottle below) and mixed it with  water, and it ended up tasting pretty good! I liked the chocolate slightly better. I’ve been drinking it for the past 3 weeks, and so far so good; I’ve seen some improvement in muscle tone!

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I also tried several different protein powder shaker bottles (I got one for free from GNC, and one from a friend), and ended up getting the Trimr shaker bottle. I found out that a whole bunch of people in my fitness circle love the bottle too because of its sleek yet efficient, spill-proof design and straw (rather than just a big hole at the top that can leak). I’ve chatted with some friends over there, and they’ve graciously offered a 15% discount to all of my readers with the code TRIMRGRAM if you want to try their bottles too! (This is not an ad; I don’t get commission or anything, just want to pass along the savings to you guys)!

What’s your experience with protein shakes? Please share in the comments; would love to hear recommendations from you guys!

 

Get Outside!

I grew up in a household without nature. Sure, we had grass in the back yard and trees on our neighborhood block like most kids in the suburbs. And I remember that some of my classmates would spend their summer vacations going camping. My mom’s famous line was “I hate nature” and glamping was not yet a thing! Thus, my summer vacations were spent going to Disneyland and or short trips to Carmel in nice hotels.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining at all about our annual trips to Disneyland (a kid’s dream, for sure!), but it took me into adulthood to discover nature, and I wish that I had sooner. There’s something so relaxing about being away from buildings everywhere and getting a chance to just be one with yourself. Not to mention that hiking is great exercise!

And science backs it up too: A study proved that people who lived within 1 kilometer of a park or a wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived farther away from green space. Here are some tips on getting outside for busy people!

  • Get a regular hiking buddy. For many people, it’s hard to motivate yourself, but having a regular partner to hike with can help you stay committed and look forward to spending time with them. You can push each other to try more challenging hikes.
  •  Plan in advance. If you schedule your hikes ahead of time and write it down on your calendar, you’re more likely to stay committed. If you plan in advance, it could also be something to look forward to during the day or on the weekends.
  •  Pack your gear ahead of time. If you have everything ready to go, it will seem like less of a burden to actually get out there. Have your backpack, gear, and water ready to go the day before.
  •  Get a hiking group together. You’ll be more likely to go if you make it a fun social activity! It’s great to find like-minded people with similar interests. They might introduce you to some new spots and vice-versa and it’s a great opportunity to explore together!

 

Hope this post inspires you to get outside! 🙂

Wearing: Dona Jo Fitwear https://www.donajofitwear.com/

Work Out With Me!

I was following the Kayla Itsines BBG Guide 1.0 and then finished all of the weeks! I am planning to start 2.0 next year, but in the meantime the great thing about her guide is that it gives you the tools to create your own workouts based on what area of the body you are looking to target!

Here is a workout that I put together and tried myself. It was great! Try it with me!

Time yourself and do each circuit twice for 7 minutes. You do Circuit 1 (7 minutes), then rest. Then do Circuit 2 (7 minutes) and rest again for a few minutes. Then repeat circuits 1 and 2 for a total of 28 minutes of workouts + a few minutes in between for rest!

Circuit 1

15 burpees

15 decline push-ups

40 x-hops

10 medicine ball smashes

 

Circuit 2

40 side taps

25 regular pushups

20 tricep dips

1 plank for 1 minute

What is LISS?

For those of you guys not on the Kayla training program, LISS is an acronym for “low intensity steady state” meaning doing cardio but not at your max capacity, such as a slow jog. If it’s done along with HIIT (high intensity interval training), it can produce the best results for weight loss and muscle definintion.

I use Classpass for my LISS days. It’s great because I can try a variety of different types of workouts. My favorites so far have been all types of dance, from hip hop to cardio dance, TRX, cardio barre, and cardio pilates. What are some of your favorite LISS workouts?

Benefits of Barley!

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Lately I have been incorporating barley into my salads. It has been cited as one of the world’s healthiest foods being a very good source of molybdenum, manganese, dietary fiber, and selenium, and a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin.

The dietary fiber in barley allows the body to clean out the intestines, therefore helping to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Barley also helps to lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body and also promotes beneficial bacteria in the body.*

Here is one of my favorite salads that is so simple yet good for you! Enjoy!

Ingredients: a cup of barley, 2 heaping handfulls of kale, 1/2 cup of chickpeas, chopped red bell peppers, a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and oil.

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*source: World’s Healthiest Foods http://www.whfoods.com/