Guilt Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Anything that can fill that place in my heart where my love for comfort food lives, is an A+ in my book! Every year as the holiday season creeps in, my sweet tooth takes over and fall for those delicious treats that are floating around everywhere you look!

While I do think everything is good in moderation, I try to make healthy swaps as much as possible so I can maintain my well balanced nutrition AND have my cake and eat it too. 

I made some tweaks to a banana bread recipe that I found to perfect it even more...and I'm in LOVE! Best part is, it's made of mostly whole foods and is WAY low on carbs. So...can ya even call it bread then? 

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup carob chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, natural nut butter

Recipe:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Prep 1-2 muffin tins by coating with non-stick spray.
  2. Toss the bananas, puree, eggs, nut butter 7 melted coconut oil into a blender and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add in all remaining ingredients BUT the carob chips! Blend.
  4. Fold in carob chips & save a bit to sprinkle on top of each muffin after you dish it into the tin.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling about 3/4 of the way. I only used one muffin tin and poured the rest of the mixture into a small ramekin (and cooked that for an additional 5 minutes since it was larger.)
  6. Pop in the oven for 13-17 minutes (15 was perfect for my oven.) Insert a toothpick to see if its done - the toothpick should come out clean and not wet.

Store these in the fridge and reheat for a few seconds in the microwave for extra chocolately gooey loveliness! 

Enjoy!
 

Spiced Butternut Squash with Tart Cherries & Pecans

Fall has officially arrived in Seattle and nothing makes it feel more real than pumpkin and squash everything! I had picked up a couple of bags of pre-cubed butternut squash the other day and was trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with it. I took a peek in my cupboard to see what I could throw in there and found some dried cherries, honey & pecans...couldn't have been more perfect!

This recipe is so easy to whip up, and you don't really need to measure anything...cook intuitively by taste!


Ingredients:

  • 1-2 packs of cubed butternut squash (or cut up your own if you can't find these at your local grocer!)
  • Honey (1-2 tablespoons worth)
  • Cinnamon 
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Pecans or other nut alternative
  • Dried tart cherries
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan salt

What I wish I would have also had.... goat cheese! :) 

Recipe:

  1. Dump your cubed squash into a pan on medium high heat and fill with water until it just covers the bottom of the pan.
  2. Pop on a lid and stir occasionally, cooking for about 5 minutes or until the water is gone. Make sure you don't burn your pan!! 
  3. Once the water is cooked off, add in a bit of olive oil and continue cooking until the squash is soft and can be pierced with a fork!
  4. Turn down to medium low heat and add in a few dashes of cinnamon, a couple of pumpkin spice, walnuts, salt & honey. Incorporate well! Take off the heat and toss in cherries and if you're lucky, some goat cheese too! :) 

    Enjoy!

Healthy Zucchini Fritters

I'm back after a long summer blogging hiatus and FRITTERS are what's on the menu this week! I made a batch with some leftover zucchini that desperately needed to be used and my husband and I finished it off before we could even blink. 

Now, if only we could figure out how to grow some in our garden [of death] we could have fritters all the time!

Here's what you'll need...

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups shredded zucchini (I found each large zucchini is about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (depending on how much spice you like - I used two and it had some heat to it)
  • 1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • EVOO
  • Cheese cloth bag
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)

Recipe:

  1. Shred the zucchini using a grater or a food processor if you have the shredding attachment.
  2. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix well & let it sit for about 15 minutes. This will help pull some of the water from the zucchini - skipping this step will make your fritters soggy and nobody likes a soggy fritter!!
  3. Place the zucchini in a cheese cloth bag and squeeeeeeeze out the water as much as you can! I promise this is the most annoying step!
  4. Toss back into a bowl and mix in with all of the other ingredients. **One thing to note, depending on how well you did with extracting the moisture from the zucchini, you might need to adjust the flour and bread crumbs. If the mixture is too wet, sprinkle in a bit more.
  5. Heat up your oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Use a 1/2 measuring cup to scoop the mixture, pack it down in the cup & dump it out on the pan (don't burn your fingers!) Flatten it out like a patty with the bottom of the cup and a spatula. 
  6. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes until crispy golden brown.

Serve with your favorite sauce (vegan alfredo is one of my faves!) and enjoy!

21 Day Fix Approved Pasta Salad

Once that summer heat hits, I always find myself craving fresh, bright & crisp foods! Here in Seattle, we get stuck in that drizzly, cold gloom for most of the year and when we get a chance to see that sunshine everything changes.

Pool parties, camping, BBQs, lake days... some of my favorite things about summer and with all the celebrations that are happening, I try my best to stay on track with my nutrition so I don't go into fall feeling like a marshmallow!

But...let's be honest, sometimes nothing can top an ice cold beer on a hot day. #realtalk

I had a hankering for a cold pasta salad (my mama makes a MEAN pasta salad!) but I didn't want to overdue it and end up in a calorie laden carb-loaded coma after. One of my favorite tricks to beef up any cold salad or casserole recipe is to LOAD up on the veggies. You'll still feel really satisfied, full and beat that craving, all while sneaking in some extra greens.

Here's the recipe I whipped up that encompasses some of my favorite flavors!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package pasta - cooked & rinsed in cold water (I used Gluten Free veggie pasta in spirals) Don't over cook the pasta, you want it a bit firm so it doesn't fall apart 
  • 1 bunch asparagus - lightly steamed, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 of a red onion - thinly sliced (like this!)
  • 1 bell pepper - chopped in chunks (I prefer yellow or orange because they're sweeter)
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes jarred in olive oil -OR- jarred red pepper
  • 1 container mozzarella balls - halved
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes - halved
  • 1 large package frozen, deveined shrimp (thaw in a bowl of hot water, peel off skin + tail and sauté with a little coconut oil in a skillet until cooked - just a couple of minutes! They'll turn light pink when done.)

For the dressing (whisk together):

  • pinch of salt & pepper to taste (I use pink himalayan salt)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Guess what?? Recipes for pasta salads are really easy and they're pretty much fool proof! You can easily swap out these ingredients for something else depending on what you have on hand. Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl with the dressing, chill & enjoy!

Approximate 21 Day Fix container equivalents (1.5 cup serving):

  • 1/2 yellow
  • 1/2 green
  • 1 tsp
  • 1/2 red
  • 1 blue

 

 

Bikini Competition Prep: Peak Week & Show Day

What a whirlwind! The only thing I can really equate my bikini competition experience to is planning a wedding! You work so hard getting everything ready for a few moments on one, single day. It’s over in a flash…and then what? I’ve learned so much about the prep process and can’t wait to share some of those things with you in this recap blog! Plus, you’ll hear about whether or not I plan on doing this again down the road if you read to the end… ;) 

-PEAK WEEK-

Peak Week is the week leading up to the competition and can potentially be a make it or break it situation depending on who you ask. Why is peak week such a big deal to [some] people? So, SOME coaches and athletes will do all kinds of crazy carb, water & sodium manipulations the week leading up to their show. I’ve seen some CRAZY things out there on IG and other blogs – for example, people cutting out water for DAYS completely, not allowing themselves any sodium, only to cause their body to blow up later… and many other scary and, what I consider to be, harmful tactics. 

Going into this show I promised myself I was going to a follow a balanced diet and not take myself too seriously for this first round. This mindset helped me so much! Going into peak week, I didn’t manipulate a WHOLE lot aside from doing my high carb and low carb days a bit differently. Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday I did lower carb days and slowly increased leading into Thursday & Friday. 

I really didn’t know how my body would react so I decided to keep things pretty simple for the most part. I drank over a gallon of water this week and cut down my water intake Friday around noon, only taking small sips throughout the day when needed. My water retention went way down (I tend to hold onto a lot of water) and felt amazing come Saturday morning!

I took the day off on Friday and packed everything up to make the drive to Vancouver, B.C. where the show was held. I did prep some food - egg whites, rice cakes, unsalted natural pb, grilled chicken & asparagus to eat for the next day. Let’s just say I was SO over chicken and asparagus after this show was over!

Mentally, peak week was for sure the toughest for me because I was trying to push through my last few workouts and knew I had no wiggle room for error! I went to the gym a few times to do posing practice in the evenings and wish I had started that consistently WAY earlier like everyone had stressed…WHY DON’T I LISTEN?! I had my routine down, but my muscles were not used to posing so it only made me even sorer. BCAA’s to the rescue!! 

Early Friday evening we arrived to the host hotel…from this point on everything was CHAOS that day! We had hit traffic and were late for my polygraph test, which then made me late to everything else. Yep, I had to have a polygraph test! Because this is an all-natural show, they test the athletes to make sure nobody is cheating with steroids or prescription diuretics. I actually wasn’t nervous at all… I mean, I had nothing to hide obviously (nobody juicing over here!) and the process was smooth. 

After my test I had to drive all the way back into downtown Vancouver to get my spray tan. I opted to not use the show tan sponsors because they were $$$... like, $130 US for a tan!! Too much for me, this show was already starting to add up. 

So, I had shopped around some local airbrush technicians and found one at this cute little salon, called Luxe, for about $45 US. I was a bit nervous because you need to be as DARK as possible since the stage lights wash you out and they didn’t have experience with show tans. I stripped down totally naked (yep, no undies…didn’t want a line!!) and she did two coats of their very darkest solution. It was sticky and a bit wet for the rest of the night and was worried it was going to smudge off. She told me to a take a shower and rinse in the morning, although when I woke up I was no longer sticky and it looks SO great – very even and a nice color! 

I opted to skip the shower because I didn’t want to lose any color and {VERY IMPORTANT} I brought my own sheets to the hotel to sleep in AND my own towels to use so I didn’t get spray tan on the hotel’s stuff. They will charge you hundreds of dollars if you ruin their linens!! I used Pro Tan top coat the day of to make sure I was looking my best…keep reading for more on that!

Friday evening we had our athletes meeting at 5:30 where we got a rundown of the show day itinerary and we took a tour of the facility so we knew exactly where to go the next day. The judges were there, went over expectations and we had the opportunity to ask questions. This alleviated SO much stress because most of my nerves were coming from not knowing what to expect.

After the meeting Andrew and I went out to dinner – I had fish and veggies + a bit of water. How exciting, right?! Back the hotel we went to rest and decided to watch Miss Congeniality because it was the closest thing that would get me pumped up for being on stage...naturally!! haha And, well, I just love that movie. Sandra is my girl.

-SHOW DAY-

In a weird way it felt like my wedding morning except there was a tiny bikini swapped out for a pretty white dress… and my husband was already my husband and he woke up next to me. ;) The pre-judging was at Noon and we needed to be at the event center by 11am, so I got up a bit before 8 to make sure I had plenty of time to get ready and relax. What I love about this INBF show is they are smaller than many and the show started a lot later, allowing us athletes to actually sleep a bit and avoid a 4am wakeup call!

Here’s what my morning looked like: Coffee (whew!), rice cakes, egg whites for breakfast. I then headed to the bathroom and applied two top coats of Pro Tan bikini bronze with a little round mitt that was included. I bought this on amazon and it was so easy to apply! I just buffed it on (like waxing a car) a little bit at a time and loved how it dried evenly and wasn’t sticky. 

This stuff WASHES OFF so don’t wash your hands, splash your body or get anything wet after you put it on! It looked really great and I was digging my dark tan. The show tan sponsors even commented on it and said the color looked really amazing. I think I might have even convinced them to switch products! ;) 

After I applied my tan, I did my own makeup and curled my hair. I opted to do this myself instead of hiring someone because I love doing my own hair and makeup – it’s not really something that stresses me out and actually find it quite relaxing!

I packed my day bag (rolling suitcase) for the venue with a whole load of stuff – lots of “emergency” items like safety pins, tide pen and the like for every scenario that could come up. Better safe than sorry!

Pre-judging was a hurry up and wait situation. I basically waited around for a couple of hours until I got the 20 minute warning for my category – Bikini Open Tall. At that point, I went into the weight room, got a little upper body pump going and got lined up behind stage. I was set up as the first person to walk out…talk about nerve wracking!!

I was so nervous because I had no idea what to expect. I actually don’t usually get stage fright. I love public speaking and don’t mind being in front of a crowd…but this was different! I was about to walk out and be judged on my physique… SLIGHTLY different situation!

We walked out in a line and the second the stage lights hit me I busted out my big smile and suddenly felt a wave of confidence over me. First up were our T-walks so one by one, we did our individual posing routines for the judges and then got back in line until each one of us had come out. From there, the head judge asked us to come forward for the comparison round…the scary part! 

He kept having us do quarter turns and would ask us to switch spots so he could compare people next to one another. I was already on the end and was hoping he’d switch me closer to the middle, which is typically a good sign. Sure enough, I switched spots…and right when I thought I was in a good place, he switched me back to the end! I was so upset! By the time the head judge was done with us we were dripping sweat from the hot lights and flexing. Streaks of wet spray tan were dripping down my back…it was so gross!

I finished pre-judging really bummed out and thinking I had gotten last place. Typically, by the end of pre-judging they pretty much know what place everyone received but they don’t reveal the winners until the night show. The few hours in between pre-judging and the night show I was cranky AS HELL. Lol Can’t lie! I thought I had done poorly, was HANGRY and so freaking thirsty. I just wanted my beer but had to be good until the night show was over. 

We went to lunch – I had steak and veggies – bought some donuts to have the second the show was over and I took a little nap in the car. I think that was the best thing for me.  

We headed back to the venue at 4:30 since the night show started at 5 and I got to do it all over again. At this point I was so over it. But, I started to perk up a bit before we went back on stage. I realized that this was the FUN part and remembered Andrew was going to live stream my evening performance on my Facebook and my friends would be watching. I got really pumped all of the sudden!

Back on the stage we went and this time it was much shorter than the first. I felt a buzz of energy and got so excited I kind of biffed my t-walk routine because my mind started to wander. Oops! Oh well, at least I nailed it the first time. We went back into the comparison round and this time, the head judge didn’t move me anywhere. I was stuck on the end thinking I got 5th or 6th place (of 6 competitors.) 
My goal going into this was just getting BETTER than last place. That’s all!

He started calling out placements and named off 5th place. Only top 5 were recognized, which sucks because that means one person would have to walk off with nothing. 5th place…was not me. Did that mean I got 6th?? Damn! 

I think I stopped breathing for a second as he said, “4th place…”

That second lasted forEVER!

…”4th place goes to Vanessa Christopher!” 

WOOOOO!! I was so excited! Even better than I had hoped. I proudly stepped up the front line to claim my top 5 spot. We took our pictures together and did a little curtsy waive before I headed off stage. I was so happy!

First thing when I got off stage. Sweats, wine and donuts! 

I met up with Andrew outside and we headed out for a night on the town. The plan was to head back to the hotel room to shower off that spray tan and grab a tasty burger and beer at Steamworks Brewery. We didn’t get that far though because we drove by several breweries on the way to the hotel and I just HAD to stop. Ya, I totally wore my medal into the tasting room. Whatever, judge me if you want…. ;) 
I have to say, that burger I had later was the BEST ever! I even got cheese on it! :O It was worth the wait.

The top 5 in Bikini Open Tall

The top 5 in Bikini Open Tall

-FINAL THOUGHTS-

The top two questions I’ve been getting since my show ended…Was it worth it? Are you doing another show? 

"Was it worth it?"

Absolutely. I’m so proud of myself for being so diligent for over 3 months. I was told that shows are not designed for people who train at home. Here’s the thing, as a Beachbody coach I SWEAR by the programs they put out and have 100% confidence that they not only work, but work well. 
I was determined to stick with the new Hammer & Chisel program and use that as my workout & nutrition baseline for prep. I’m SO glad I did because after 3 rounds, I loved the results I saw! I think I proved the doubters wrong. ;) 

Was I in the best shape of my life? Yes. Could I have been better? Totally! But considering I went to Vegas, a Bahama cruise with friends, California & a wedding during my 12 week prep, I think my balance was on point and still got great results.

Prep is NOT easy. You have to be willing to mostly give up on certain indulgences – not drinking beer was so hard for me because [without sounding like an alcoholic] that’s what my hubby and I like to do for fun. Visiting breweries and trying new beers is a hobby for us!

That aside, I felt so confident about myself and healthy! So, cutting out those things can really make a difference and honestly, nutrition is what gives you those abs…working out isn’t everything!


“So…are you going to do it again?”

My Hammer & Chisel transformation! 3 rounds to be exact :) 

My Hammer & Chisel transformation! 3 rounds to be exact :) 

Oh, most definitely. ;) Competing was a great way to get me motivated, stay on track, feel my best and be competitive! I want to take the off season into the fall and spend some time building the proper muscle. I knew I didn’t build my glutes and hamstrings enough and sure enough, the feedback I got from the judges was just that. Build up my glutes, hammys and come in a bit leaner next time! Just what I had suspected  The head judge also said I have great potential and a beautiful smile. I’ll take it!

I’m shooting to hopefully come back and do the INBF West Coast Naturals again next spring, and I’ll be aiming to WIN the thing, as well as a larger show in the Seattle area. All I know is, next time I compete I won’t be messing around. I’ll be in it to beat myself from this year and plan on coming back better than ever!


Huge thanks to everyone for supporting me throughout this journey. It’s been a blast and very challenging – I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support! It makes me so happy when I hear from those who have been following my journey so please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

 

If you have particular questions about the home workout program I was following, have some questions or want to pick my brain about my experience don’t hesitate to submit an email to me in the form below. I’d love to hear from you!


Xo, 
V

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Bikini Competition Prep: 2 Weeks Out

(L) December 2015 & (R) post Vegas/SoCal Vaca 3 weeks out!

Time is flying by and I can’t even believe that my show is two weeks away! I’ve been set on this since last November (well, I dabbled for the first couple of months…now wishing I had taken that time a bit more seriously) and it’s crazy to be so close to everything I’ve been working towards.

I was always told that the final month of prep, notably the last couple of weeks, you really to see some crazy changes in your physique and am happy to report that is also the case in my experience! I’ve been quite the busy body throughout prep; I survived an all you can eat and drink cruise AND just recently got back from a trip to Southern California for a wedding…but wait, there’s more….we went to Vegas right after the wedding. First of all who goes to Vegas after a wedding weekend? Second, who does that on PREP? Ya, I’m nuts.

While I did drink *some* alcohol (eeek that’s a no-no on prep) I ate really healthy and kept up with my workouts on the road. Soooo I guess it evens out, right? ;) I have to keep reminding myself that I made a promise I’d have FUN with this process and not let it get in the way of enjoying my life. I’m not trying to win first place, although as I’ve been getting closer my inner competitive demons really want me to win so it’s been hard to NOT take this super seriously.

Mentally, competing can be very draining. I keep wishing I would have done more or I should be doing this or that. It’s difficult to not play the comparison game, especially on Instagram, so I’m working on being very mindful about positive self-talk and focusing on what I need to be doing for ME!

I think all of these mental games I’m playing with myself have been causing the nightmares I’ve been getting SEVERAL times a week! But here’s the hilarious part, every one of them have been about my tan!! The other night I dreamt I showed up to the competition and forgot to get a tan! Haha I don’t even know…

I’ve been feeling pretty good energy wise up until last week where I had very low energy and was pretty drained. I felt like I couldn’t sleep enough! I carbed up a little extra and it seemed to help. Some of it comes from the extra HIIT training I’ve been doing to shed those last few pounds but I think most of it was my mind playing tricks on me because I KNOW that I have no room for error leading up to the show at this point. It just makes me crave that burger, fries and beer(s) all that much more! ß Yep, that’s my first meal. It better be a damn good burger too!

My workouts have been going really well, although I’m still a bit worried about the lack of muscle tone in the back of my legs because WOOHOO for cellulite! So dang stubborn! It’s definitely smoothing out and hear that peak week and a little water manipulation can help with that for show day. Fingers crossed that’s the case!

It’s so nuts to think that I’ve almost completed three rounds of Hammer & Chisel at this point because usually by day 60 of a program, I get a little border with it.  Not this time! Having two trainers on one program and a solid mix up of lifting techniques has kept my mind interested and muscles guessing. Not to mention, of all the programs I’ve gone through I’m loving the results I’m seeing with this one! Lean muscle is so sexy and I feel so incredibly strong!

I’m proud of myself for sticking with the program and doing all of this prep from my tiny little HOME gym! All I have is a resistance band, fitness ball (instead of a bench) and bowflex adjustable weights in my living room. That’s it. I was determined to prove you can do prep from home too and not just a gym!

Since I’m getting into crunch time I’m reviewing all of my check lists almost daily to make sure I don’t miss a step of the process! All my appointments are scheduled, peak week nutrition plan is figured out, day of schedule is good to go, fake boobies and top coat tan is purchased (hah!), make up trial run is complete and all I need to do is run to the store to grab a few more things for my day of emergency kit.

Posing, posing, posing is my main focus the next couple of weeks because it’s such an important piece of judging! Someone could come on stage with an amazing package and suck at posing and they wouldn’t place. It’s that important. So, even if my bikini bod is not at its FULL potential right now, I can control my stage presence!

I attended the Emerald Cup in Bellevue, Washington this last weekend, which is the biggest NPC show in the PNW. I’d never been to a show before and knew it was important to check one out before I stepped on stage. Man, I’m SO glad I did! It’s a very competitive show with 8 different classes of bikini competitors divided by height. The competition was fierce and everyone looked amazing! A bit intimidating but it was interesting to be able to compare physiques and see what the judges preferred.

Emerald Cup 2016 - Bikini Division

My biggest takeaway from Emerald Cup goes back to stage presence! The girls who had killer posing and were energetic on stage definitely caught the attention of the judges and mostly placed high. There were some girls up there who seemed to not even know what they were doing and we’re super awkward on stage. I have to say though, I hear often times competitors will practice a ton, yet, completely black out and forget everything they learned once up on stage. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe that’s what happened with them too. ;)

I’m looking forward to seeing what changes happen in the next two weeks and looking forward to that big juicy burger + bun + fries + beer EVEN MORE! As always, thanks again to everyone who has been a big supporter and cheerleader! It’s always scary to put yourself out there but you all are making it that much easier for me.

 

To check out the show I’m competing in follow the link here!

 

Want to learn more about the at home program I’m using, Hammer & Chisel? Feel free to fill out the email form below and I’ll reach out to you! I love hearing from you guys so don’t hesitate!

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Bikini Competition Prep: 5 Weeks Out

I seriously can’t even believe that I’m officially FIVE weeks out from my competition! I feel like it was just yesterday I was reassuring myself in that I had two full months to get ready…and now I’m down to five weeks! That’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

 

Here’s a little breakdown of some things that have happened in the last few weeks since my last post!

 

-Bikini Prep Camp-

 

Holy moly, I’m SO glad I made the trip up to Vancouver B.C. to attend the prep camp INBF was putting on. It was a 4 hour intensive workshop that went over EVERYTHING I needed to know for the weeks leading up to the show, differences in competition categories, what judges look for, dos and don’ts, what to expect day of and we had two hours to spend on posing practice.

 

The big perk about this camp is I felt like we got an insider look on what the judges expect from us, particularly the head judge. A huge eye opener about competing in bikini division is it’s so preferential and it really depends on how you stack up to whoever is up there standing beside you!

 

There aren’t really set standards for how you’re supposed to look unlike some of the other divisions – with bikini they go for a softer, fuller lean muscular build but here’s the kicker…. If you’re on the “softer side” but everyone else standing up there with you has a hard body, you’re going to get docked on points (and vise versa). You can actually be TOO muscular in this division as well.

 

It really just depends on what the judges like and they look at you from head to toe taking in consideration hair, makeup, tan, overall appearance etc. So there you have it. If you want to be JUDGED up the HEEZY, sign up for a bikini comp! haha

 

At prep camp I got a really helpful packet with tips and tricks starting at 16 weeks out. Things like moisturizing your skin, exfoliating, when to be planning & booking your appointments, when to start getting into certain routines were all broken down by week. We also got a very details peak week guide, which was EXACTLY what I needed help with!

 

Peak week is the week leading up to the show and it is a straight up science experiment on your body. There are very specific days where you should be eliminating carbs, certain days to carb load, certain amounts of water to be drinking each day (I’ll be peeing every five minutes…literally) and then the day of the show, it’s like BOOM – everything falls into place. Well, that’s in theory. Fingers crossed that’s the case for me too if I do it right!

 

One thing I love about the show I’m doing is they really value creating a tight knit family of competitors and eliminating that gritty competitive edge that I’m sure happens in some organizations. So far, it’s been amazing working with the show organizers and everyone at INBF/WNBF have been SO helpful and nice. It’s in Canada and everyone loves Canadians, which also helps. ;)

 

I’ve started purchasing all the little things I’ll need day of, which is super exciting and making it all real. I just placed my order for my custom bikini on Etsy…EEEK!! So pumped about that! Not telling which one I picked until after I get it though. SURPRISES! I bought some Bikini Bite to help glue my bikini on so nothing pops out!!! Very important… haha My husband had a hilarious reaction when that came in the mail to say the least. [insert blank stare]

 

I just received my 5 INCH high heels in the mail from amazon and WOW, I’m not even sure if I’m going to make it off that stage alive! I’ve been practicing my posing and have been wearing them around the house with no complaints from my husband…even though he’s now a few good inches shorter than me.

 

These shoes will take some getting used to for sure, but it’s so important I feel comfortable wearing them so I can look and feel confident on stage! Stage presence is a big piece in placing well. There’s just something about putting on really tall heels that makes me feel like Beyoncé. Or, a loose interpretation of how I assume she feels when she performs “Run the World.”

 

Aside from all of those fun things, I’ve been keeping up my workout routine with lifting and still trying to do some HIIT training several days a week on top of that. I’m now almost 2 ½ rounds through Hammer & Chisel and OHHHH MY GOSH, seeing my results come through and REAL, actual abs, glutes and guns happening is SO exciting. I knew this process was going to be long and the results weren’t going to happen over night, but it’s fun to finally see all of my hard work payoff.

 

Everyone has results at different points in their fitness journey so if you’re feeling discouraged a couple of months in, remember to TRUST the process and stick with it! Hammer & Chisel has been one of my most favorite programs and I’ve really enjoyed the meal plan. It’s made this prep really easy for me to follow.

 

I’m getting ready to head to California and Las Vegas for a few days next week and I’m actually excited to wear a bikini for once! No better feeling. Having said that, I need to be careful with what I put in my body on this trip! We’ll be in Temecula for a wedding aka OH HEYYYY WINE and Vegas…well, it’s Vegas. No healthy habits have ever come from my Vegas benders. Haha. This will be a true test for me! Standing near naked in front of an audience and a panel of judges 4 weeks later is pretty good motivation, though.

 

I get more and more excited as the weeks progress…can’t wait to report back to how things are going in a bit! As always, thank you all for your love and support in this journey!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about my process or the at home program I’ve been following, feel free to shoot me an email in the form below and I’ll reach out to you!

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Bikini Competition Prep: 10 Weeks Out

Well, am I overdue for this update or what?! I’m sad to say my blog posts have become few and far between with the way my schedule has been panning out recently…but only because I have some exciting things coming in the next few months!

 

I have been asked a lot about the status of my competition, when it is, how it’s going and I’m happy to say YES, I’m still competing! It was up in the air for a while as to which competition I would be competing in because I’ll be traveling lots in the next few months and, well, I don’t really want to have to get up on stage after a week of vacation… ;)

 

I’m about 10 ½ weeks out right now and have landed on a competition in “Ohhhhh Canadaaaa!” Yep, I’m going out of the country to compete! Unfortunately all of the local shows are scheduled on weekend where I’ll be out of town so the next best thing is Vancouver, B.C. on May 14th.

 

The thing is, this is probably an awesome choice anyway because I’m sure once the competition is over I’m going to wanna grub hard on some amazing food with a tasty microbrew…two things the Vancouver scene is known for! It’ll turn into a little weekend getaway but I think it will all be worth it!

 

The one thing I knew I wanted to seek out was a show that’s all natural. This basically means that they drug test you AND give you a polygraph test to ensure you aren’t using performance enhancing drugs to get swole. WOAH…Ya you read that right, I have to take a polygraph test! How intense is that?!

 

The show I landed on is the INBF West Coast Naturals and so far love everything I’ve learned about the organization and show! I really have no expectations going into this, I’m not even trying to win it, I just want to be able to stand up on stage and be proud of my work!

 

>> How’s the process been so far? <<

Because I originally thought I would be competing on April 2nd, I started pretty early with bulking where I worked on building up muscle and keeping my weight up.  Come 12 weeks out, I started the cutting process…which, is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be but it’s still tough! #ilovebeer #ilovecarbs #ilovepizza

 

I’ve been following the Hammer & Chisel at home workout and nutrition program, which has made this a very simple process for me. My biggest downfall has been trying to cut out alcohol, because lets be real…I love me some wine and fine beers!

 

I do stand by the fact that everything is good in moderation and haven’t cut it out completely until just now-ish…because I think that complete deprivation can almost do more hurt than good, but I have had to say no to drinks at social functions. Guess what? I survived!! Yep, you CAN go to a social gathering and NOT drink alcohol! From this point on in the cutting process, I will only be drinking at a wedding in April (it’s in wine country, duhhhh!) and a bit on my cruise next week.

 

When I decided to do a competition I knew that if I were going to put myself through this, I wanted to enjoy the process. There’s no point on putting yourself through hell and being a cranky bitch for 3 months for a FEW minutes on stage. #aintgottimeforthat Eating the right portions of a well balanced diet is a HUGE part of this and there’s no way I’m going to starve myself to look good. Eating right consistently and busting your workouts can get you there!

 

Lifting weights is by far my favorite form of exercise – maybe it’s because I’ve been trained to lift since I was 14 with my volleyball background or I just like being able to actively measure my growth with weight progression. Either way, it relieves my stress and I love how it molds my figure! I think muscles are sexy, who cares if my thighs no longer fit into my jeans! {not me!}

 

Now getting into the cutting season, I’ve been incorporating some HIIT training into my lifting schedule to try and burn that fat off a bit faster. At the end of the day, if you’re weight training WELL you should be getting a cardio hit from your lifting rotations alone. This week I started incorporating T25, 22 Minutes Hard Corps and Insanity Max 30 into my weekly schedule to kick it up a notch. Usually my body responds pretty well to HIIT training so I’m hoping that abs I build will start coming out to play! I could NOT do this without the help of all the amazing ladies in my health & fitness accountability groups! They seriously hold me to it!! 

 

Some additional cardio paired with carb cycling (2 low carb days per every regular carb day) will hopefully get my to where I’d like to be in just over 10 weeks. What’s tough about competing is results do not happen QUICK! It’s definitely a process and you have to not only trust the process, but be patient with it. You need to be consistent, strong willed and have a lot of self control when others are telling you, “Go on, just have ONE glass of wine…it won’t kill you!”

 

I have yet to get into posing practice (eeek, better get that started!) or shop for my neon sparkly itty bitty bikini but those will come in the following weeks. I can’t believe how strong I feel after going through a round and a half of Hammer & Chisel and am so excited to only be building on that from here on out!

 

Thank you to all who have been an awesome support system in this and have given me words of encouragement along the way! It’s a tough process but you are all making it that much easier!
 

>>> Want to learn more about the program I'm training with or my experience with prep? Curious about the A-MAZ-ING online accountability groups that have gotten me to this point? Send me an email through the form below or find me on Facebook and shoot me a message. I'd love to chat with you about YOUR fitness goals!

XO,

V

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Crockpot Shredded Mexican Chicken

I refuse to go through my bikini competition prep eating steamed broccoli and broiled chicken.... :) Just because I'm trying to be super healthy DOESN'T mean I have to eat food without flavor! I've made it a goal of mine to try some healthy but tasty recipes throughout this 12 week prep period so I don't get sick of the food I need to be eating. 

There is a lot of chicken and turkey involved in bikini prep...good thing I like chicken! Making shredded chicken in the crockpot is seriously one of the easiest and most versatile recipes. You can make one large recipe by doubling or tripling it depending on your family size and use it throughout the week for all kinds of different meals. 

I love curry and mexican cuisine because it's SO packed full of flavor. Using spices is an easy way to kick it up a notch to keep things interesting!

Here's a yummy bikini prep recipe for shredded mexican chicken that will blow your mind!

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 16oz Salsa (we used chipotle salsa from Trader Joes!)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 finely chopped bell pepper
  • 3/4 tablespoon chili powder (or less if you use spicy salsa)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water or stock
  • +any taco ingredients! Lettuce (for taco shells), greek yogurt (sub for sour cream), avocado, etc.

Dump all ingredients in the crockpot and turn on low for about 5-6 hours. With two forks, pull apart the chicken. Place in lettuce leaves and top with favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Bikini Competition Prep: Week 2 Recap

Never in a million years did I think I’d be writing this blog post. I’ve never been super familiar with fitness competitions until I saw someone I knew go through it and post her pictures on Facebook. It seemed like something that was completely unreachable for me and it was NEVER something I’d consider doing…or so I thought! Honestly, how much fun does it sound to cut out craft beers & good wine, cookies, brownies, candy, chocolate and eat steamed veggies and fish for 4 months? None. No fun to be had there.

*Sigh* Yet, here I am…definitely not drinking beer…or wine… or indulging in the abundance of holiday treats that are floating around every square inch of my life. And guess what? I’m alive! Guess what…again? I LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT!

“Ummm Vanessa, what in the world are you on and why are you saying these things??! I don’t even know you anymore!”

I know, I know. It sounds like I’ve lost my mind. But let me back it up a bit before I answer your question. I get the joy of being an online heath and fitness coach and LOVE helping others achieve their goals. So much, I sometimes don’t focus on my own health and fitness goals enough.

I am an athlete through and through, am incredibly competitive and post-collegiate sports I’ve lost that competitive outlet a bit. Well, I had a brief stint as a runner but that’s a story for another day and try to block that era from my memory… Anyway, recently I’ve been wanting to push the envelope for myself and I’m not the best at self-motivation (also part of the reason why I’m a coach…my groups DEFINITELY hold ME accountable too!) So…

1.     Competitive

2.     Athletic

3.     Goal to push the envelope

It just seemed like a natural fit for a bikini competition! So here I am, two weeks in and I still pee my pants a little when I think about having to stand up on that stage, painted orange, with next to nothing adorning my [hopefully] ripped bod. That’s called a BHAG and is the most effective form of goal setting. It stands for Big Harry Ass Goal because it scares you so much, that you’re forced to step outside of your comfort zone and reach beyond what you think you’re capable of! Totally BHAGing the CRAP out of this thing!

This will be  a total of 16ish weeks of preparation…which sounds absolutely nuts but honestly, so far it’s been smooth sailing! I’m following the brand spankin’ new Beachbody program, called Master’s Hammer & Chisel, created by Autumn Calabrese (creator of 21 Day Fix) & Sagi Kalev (Body Beast). Together, they’ve created a kick ass 60 day fitness and nutrition program that hammers those guns and chisels that bod so you get an awesome physique! Totally obsessed with the routine so far and have already seen some insane results, which makes me THAT much more excited to see what 16 weeks of work looks like!

Working out isn’t the challenge for me, it’s definitely the nutrition plan. I’ve been following the 21 Day Fix meal plan (same thing for H&C) and this is the first time I’ve stuck with it to a T….and OMGGG it makes such a difference!! (SURPRISE!) With gluten and dairy intolerances, cutting out that among alcohol and additional sugars makes me feel like a million bucks.

My abs are starting to come out to play (hey little guys!!), my hips are shrinking to make room for my booty gainz in my pants, my cellulite is starting to diminish (especially with muscle growth), skin is clearing up and I have so much more energy.

This is absolutely no surprise to me because I truly believe that food can heal but I’ve just never been so determined to stick to the plan. I mean, standing on a stage in front of strangers while people judge you is one way to kick your butt into gear. ;) My diet hasn’t been anything crazy and I am NOT about starving myself. So much food being shoveled into my mouth….just all the RIGHT food! I love to cook so mixing up simple, healthy ingredients with difference recipes has been great.

The key is always meal prepping for the week no matter what. Not having a plan for meals is exactly why so many people struggle with nutrition. I see it allllll the time. If you have meals ready to go in the fridge, all you have to do is pack the containers and you’re set for the day. Not prepared? I be like, "Dayyummmm, that Wendy’s frosty and burger to go looks realllll good right about now!" << Am I right? Meal prep doesn’t have to be hard either. Crock pots save lives. So do pre-packaged veggies and rotisserie chickens. It doesn’t have to be complicated!

I poke around on YouTube every so often to check out people’s prep videos and it makes me so. freaking. sad. to see how people eat next to nothing and starve themselves to get results!! Like…WHY?????? Why would you do that when you can eat and eat and eat and eat to get results? But seriously, I really think that if competitors don’t know what they’re doing with their diet they NEED to hire a coach who has a proper background to help them. Simple as that. #rantover

Anyway, now that’s off of my chest… all I can say is I’m super pumped to continue this journey! It’s exciting to have something to shoot for and even though it’s not going to be easy (let’s see what my blog post looks like on week 12 lol) I know it will be worth the effort. Who knows, maybe this will be a continuing thing for me if I like it enough??

I want to give a special thank you to my hubby & awesome team who have been SUCH an amazing support system for this and are rallying behind me! If it weren’t for my amazing coaches and friends at Fit Foundation supporting me, it would definitely not be this smooth so far. If you’re interested in learning more about Hammer & Chisel, shoot me an email and we can chat about it! You definitely don’t need to sign up for a bikini competition to get ripped and in the best shape of your life. :D