As we come to the bittersweet end of summer, the sun drifts away form the earth and we suddenly become these frigid human beings that just want to sit in bed, drink tea and eat pie, even though it's still +15 outside.
Any excuse to wear Ugg boots though, let's be honest.
So I've got a little bit of an addiction to granola. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I go hard over that sweet, nutty gob of goodness that does everything from make me feel better when I'm being an overly emotional girl to giving me fuel after leg day, or enough fuel to allow me to run 10k and still manage to smile.
It's the cheese to my macaroni.
Leaving class today I had a hankering for granola and almond milk from Glow Juicery here in Kelowna, but decided it would be best for me to utilize my own ingredients at home even though they have the BEST almond milk in the universe.
Using the brain cells I have been so blessed to be given, I opened my cupboard and pulled out my favourite baking ingredients and came up with some combination that somehow turned into heaven.
What you see above are some of my favourite ingredients to use when I'm making my own homemade treats. Creating items that provide on-the-go individuals with fuel that lasts is something I always keep in mind when I choose my ingredients for times like this. This granola that I made is gluten-free and vegan and contains coconut sugar and nectar instead of yucky table sugar. Above we have raw cacao nibs, gluten-free oats, almonds, raw cashews, goji berries and shredded coconut. I like incorporating raw ingredients into my food because it is at its most vulnerable state and filled with nutrients. So with all of that said, let's get to it!
Toasted Coco-Nana Granola
What you will need:
What you need to do:
What are your favourite flavours of granola? Already thinking of my next batch!
Welcome to back to school season, everyone! Hope you are all as jazzed as I am about learning (I'm REAL excited). For you it's probably more beneficial, as I will be learning about nutrition which means more recipes which also means more smiles.
Being that this will be my 7th year of post-secondary education (WOW I am old), I know all about that convenient life.
Fast Food Fattie.
It's easy! You manage to find $5 kicking around and next thing you know you're in the lineup at starbucks getting a grande extra whip pumpkin spice latte with skim milk. If that's not a conflicting sentence, I don't know what is.
I really don't like PSL's anyway.
After learning a few things (already, I know) about the importance of a balance diet, it made me realize that the meal prep that I was rocking before really ain't all that bad. Being that I have also started a cleanse, I know that nailing my meal prep every time needs to be a thing.
For those of you who are just starting college, and you've got your hands on a girthy student loan that allows you to justify spending a few extra bucks on all of the toppings at Menchie's, maybe think twice about what you're putting into your system first.
And by that, I mean freshman fifteen. Oh, girl, it's for real.
I think when I graduated high school I must have put on a solid 15-20 lbs. I was only taking one course at the college when I first started, but I was working at a day spa that had a hefty cafe/bistro right across the way. So I would sit at my desk every day literally staring at this cafe just dreaming of that cheesy, toasty breakfast bagel loaded with eggs, bacon, mustard, mayo and tomatoes, with a side wonton soup and a fresh doughnut. I think I ate that at least three days a week. But the thing was that it was convenient, and certainly close.
So how do you make meals that are delicious AND convenient? All you gotta do it hit up the right areas of a grocery store, find a few hours once or twice a week, a decent playlist and have at 'er.
LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT I EAT. Ok?
I haven't always been this way. Before I started getting into the gym, I used to be the girl with a grande caramel macchiato with extra caramel drizzle, plus a breakfast sandwich, plus a lemon poppyseed loaf plus a yogurt parfait... For breakfast. So... fat and carbs and a teensy bit of protein from the eggs and yogurt. Embarrassing.
Our bodies need protein in order to repair the muscles we work, and yes although carbs are by far the most important macronutrient that exists in our diets, the carbs consumed from that buttery lemon poppyseed loaf and extra caramel drizzle is no where near the same as the carbs I could have gotten from some blueberries in a protein shake, or better yet, oatmeal.
Another mistake I was making back in the day is eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, and not being smart about it either. My typical diet was mostly carbs and fats with very little protein, resulting in quick weight gain from not being very active, and feeling so tired to the point where falling asleep in class was becoming regular thing.
Small changes like buying your own groceries and doing your own meal portioning is one of the best things one can do when it comes to eating right with a busy schedule. What I have done with my meal prep is that I have taken the foods that I like and worked them into a well balanced diet that fits the needs of my lifestyle, so what is pictured above gives you a general idea.
What is this, a healthy Mr. Big or somethin'?!
Ah yes. We have all been there.
The natural foods (treats) section in Superstore.
The candy aisle in Nature's Fare.
The fat-free frozen yogurt from Menchie's (with all the toppings?!)
Looking up 'healthy treats' on Pinterest, and justifying them as no big deal in your diet. And trying the batter.
The thing is, these are all pretty well the same as buying the same un-natural version form Walmart, they're really no better in all honesty.
Instead of buying that 'organic, gluten-free, no sugar added, milk chocolate covered caramel peanut butter malt bar' from the health foods store, I highly recommend trying to make one of my healthy Coconut Bliss Bites for that quick sweet fix.
Things to avoid sacking on, of course, is anything containing a high amount of refined sugars. You might find yourself reading a label of a chocolate bar and thinking oh but this one has less fat! Did you read the sugar content?! The amount of sugar in dark chocolate is about 1/3 of the amount that would be kicking around in milk chocolate. Yes, the fat content is higher in dark chocolate, but the refined sugar in milk chocolate can lead to a fatty liver, causing weight gain.
And as if you're going to stop at 4 squares of milk chocolate, that stuff is a downward spiral. When you have a piece of really good, high potency dark chocolate, chances are you'll have one to two squares and you're good.
Concluding notes, staying on track while in school is so freaking hard. I get it. These are just some simple tools you can utilize towards maintaining that healthy beach bod you worked so hard for all summer, and help you stay focused.
A+ meal prep = A+ lab report, right?
If you want to see how mentally strained you can get in a matter of weeks through intense training and a strict diet, throw yourself into show prep. You'll see what I mean.
There is no possible way that anyone can walk around and say that they have mastered their diet. No way. That would be like someone saying they have mastered their brain, their willpower, their struggles, their strength. These are all things that we cannot win at. We can't beat ourselves; we as individuals are only able to compete against the person who stares directly back at you in the mirror. It's the toughest competition that one can possibly face.
Everyone has their own struggles when it comes to prep, whether they struggle most with their diet (I would say most), their training the ups and downs being an emotional wreck, or perhaps all of the above. From what I have learned in the three preps that I have done, they've all been different.
My first show that I did back in November of last year, I was completely focused on the end goal - being on stage for the first time and feeling like I brought my best. I didn't struggle with my diet one bit with that prep, but I sure as heck did struggle with my training. It was hard for me to lift even the slightest things at the end, and the idea walking up the stairs to my bed at the end of the night was less than appealing. But I was mentally strong, having a blast, and loved every second of it.
When I went into my prep for BCs, the entire time I felt like I needed to be better. Better than I was at Sandra Wickham. Better than I was physically, mentally and emotionally. But truthfully, BCs completely broke me... I struggled more than I could ever imagine to try and knock the weight off by training harder than I've ever trained in my life, and to know how unhealthy it is to sit on the counter with a jar of peanut butter indulging in spoon after spoon of that little bear spread. I was a hot mess, let's just say that. I knocked the weight off in the end, but it took a restrictive diet and some keto brain to get there.
I remember at one point while I was driving down to BCs that I thought to myself, why am I doing this? I would spend countless hours searching #bcs2015 on instagram and check out my competition. I was terrified of who I was going to step on stage with simply because I knew I was natural, and many of the women I was up against were on a decent amount of gear. I felt the same way when I walked into the athlete's meeting; these girls were scary.
To be honest, I should have expected that the girls would be as loaded as they were. In my defence, I had only been going to the gym for a couple of years and prior to that I was a little cardio bunny with noodle arms and no ass. I had to remind myself of how far I have come since I started going to the gym, and why I was stepping on stage competing against the best in BC. I wasn't going there to win.
Taking a look back at how things were rolling in my life through my prep to the BC Championships, every day was a comparison. Every single time I looked at the mirror I thought, needs to be better. My waist isn't small enough; need to lose another 1/2" there. I can still see my cellulite. My arms look too big.
It's a real thing. I can't tell you how many people struggle with it either, and it's something that I'll admit to struggling with even today. It's certainly not as bad as what it was leading up to BCs. But I still have my moments.
The biggest difference between my prep to BCs and my current prep (did I just drop the ball...), is that I honestly do not care about comparing my body to what it was in my last two shows. The fact that I have been able to stay this lean and still manage to find flexibility in my diet here and there is remarkable. I never would have thought it would be possible coming out of the most strict diet of my existence and not blowing up like a balloon. Then again, I'm not stupid with my diet. I eat very clean for the most part, but sometimes I'll admit that I go pretty hard on Menchies :).
Am I doing anything different with my training? No
Is my diet any different? Not really, I still eat fairly clean for the most part. I know my limits
Am I happier? On so many levels yes, but I certainly have my days (give a girl a break)
So... What is it then?
I decided to join one of my best friends on her journey to the stage for the first time. That's why it's been easier. Every day we can rely on one another to get pumped about 45 minutes of fasted cardio, how excited we are to indulge in meal number 4, how sore our hamstrings are because leg day literally kicked our butts, how emotional we are because well we're girls, how much boys SUCK (we don't have time for that), how much fun we're going to have going hard on treats after the show, and sharing exciting new meal ideas. She has been the best companion throughout this process and I honestly can't thank her enough for all that she has done for me as a friend. At the end of the day, I am so freaking grateful.
On that note, why the heck didn't I 'release' to the world of social media that I had been on this hush-hush fitness journey?
The thing behind doing bikini competitions is that there is so much reliance on social media for competitors to receive some form of recognition for their hard work. The other day I scrolled through my Instagram page and was pretty shocked at how many 'transformation' pictures I had up prepping for BCs. My mindset for that show was definitely not the healthiest. I used my Instagram page as a form of reassurance, which is so so so beyond wrong! I lacked a lot of confidence, clearly.
That's why I kept this under wraps. I definitely told a few people I may have been training, usually only because they'd offer me a bite of cake and I accidentally slipped out the whole "sorry I can't, I might be training for a... shit". Whoops. Most of all, because this was such a split decision, I have loved the fact that I didn't stand on a mountain and shout it out to the world. This one is just for fun, it's for the benefit of having a good time during prep, for the benefit of one of my best friends, for support, and mostly to show that I am still in love with this sport.
In love is a big term.
Yeah, it might be. But how freaking cool is it to watch weight fall off of you and see your body change? And in off season, watch your booty go from 0-100 real quick?
Oh baby get it in ya, it's real life.
So while I lay in bed staring at the array of treats that await for Saturday night, I wish all of those competitors stepping on stage for the first, second, or 10th time tomorrow at the Knight of Champions the very best of luck.
See you on stage.
Providing you with the knowledge that I encounter on a daily basis through my fitness lifestyle.