Know your CPR

While I think it is important for you all to know CPR  (and mandatory for all you trainers out there), I am speaking of another kind of CPR vital to your success when trying to achieve or maintain a fit lifestyle.  These qualities are present in all the people you see out there who have mastered a lean, muscular body. You have to be:




Consistency is probably the most important of all, as it may perhaps be a result of the other two parts. How often don’t we hear our friends, colleagues, family or gym buddies tell us of one diet followed by another that is the ‘next big thing’, while their bodies don’t seem to change at all.   “Oh, I’m on this new diet now, it’s supposed to turn all your fat to energy if you eat before 3” blablabla.. As modern human beings, we’d like to hear that it’s easy and quick, there is some sort of magic formula that will turn our bodies into abs, buns and legs of steel while still being able to eat, drink and do whatever we feel like.  Wouldn’t that be nice!   Meanwhile, if you glance across your gym you might see a number of fit people there among the not so fit ones.  Do you think they all have the same schedule, eat the same thing and do the same exercises? Of course not. But what the fit people have in common is consistency.  They go to the gym every day, they stick to healthy, low fat foods and they constantly set new goals to work towards, not just have one single date they obsess about.  They may not have the most advanced training program or the most high tech equipment, but they are consistently training, whether it’s weight lifting, biking or running or both, and even a  less than optimal training program will produce results after a while.  Which brings me to the next point.


PATIENCE is just as important as consistency. Many people I come across only want to know “how long is it going to take to look like that”, not what they have to change or do or how they need to act in order to achieve their goals.  This is when the mind has not connected with the body, and as we know, the mind is a powerful thing.   Whether it is fitness or weight gain, the mind is the most important part of your body you need to change.  You must learn to love your body whether it is 300 lbs or 120 lbs, and understand that working towards your dream body will take time, just as it took time for you to gain those extra pounds you no longer want to drag around.  Know that if you eat right or as healthy as you possibly can every day, get your workouts in and at the same time be kind and gentle with yourself, you WILL get there.   Gaining a great physique is a life long job, there will always be some parts you want to modify or improve upon; this is what is so motivating and inspiring about fitness.  We can always get better, whether it is esthetics or strength (you may want to keep pushing to lift heavier, and set new PRs, etc)  thus our task is never done. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proud and happy with your body- just that there will always be a new goal and a task you can work on if you are a person who need continuous goals to strive towards.  Don’t just hold your breath for when those 10 lbs are gone – who knows what you will look like? The scale doesn’t tell you anything. Just because you reach a certain weight, doesn’t mean all your problems disappear or you become a brand new person inside. Be patient with yourself in every aspect of your life while simultaneously respecting yourself enough to constantly (and patiently) working towards greater achievements. Because you are capable!!


RESILIENCE is what separates the winners from the losers, the ones who make it and the ones who just can’t seem to collect their minds to get there.  When reading about successful people, I can guarantee that everyone has had a story of failure – a time when they attempted something and did not achieve what they had hoped.  Failures at one point or another is guaranteed, so learn how to recover from them. While some might get so discouraged they stop trying, successful people shrug it off and try even harder the next time.  In fitness, you won’t always jump out of bed in the morning, excited about the day, full of energy, feeling happy and ready to hit the gym. Some days you will feel lethargic or have low energy, be depressed, experience an emergency, have sick kids, and your day will be all messed up.  This is when it is really easy to give yourself an excuse not to keep going.  These are the times that build “character”, and makes you stronger too, if you just decide to go about your day and continue eating right and working out anyway.   Keep thinking of the importance of consistency in our first point and I guarantee your body and mind will thank you.  Embrace your failures because without them, you wouldn’t know how to succeed. You learn more from the times that don’t work, than the times that do. So be grateful for tough times, because they shape you as a person and make you more interesting.

I read somewhere that it takes just as much energy to be miserable as it does to be happy – so why would you choose the former? You have a choice how you look at your life, your day, your opportunities, problems, strengths and weaknesses.  We all have them, just as we all have the same 24 hours in a day.  Choose to be resilient and the feeling of victory is near!!





Reflections and week end thoughts

I’ve had a pretty good week.  After having been in a bit of a “robotic state” at the gym and in life in general for some months, I’m beginning to find my own groove, what works for me and have developed more independence and confidence when it comes to what I want and what works for me. It may come as a surprise to some of you to hear that- after all, I’ve accomplished quite a bit and pretty much do what I say I will do, I finish a goal I set and I don’t get derailed very quickly. But life is also about tough times, feeling “weak” (which is a wrong terminology if you ask me, it’s called being human) and just experiencing ups and downs like everybody else. I have also been a “student” of many schools and successful people and pretty much soaked in as much information as I possibly could during the last few years.  So my reflections are…

What I discovered does NOT work for me, is look to others and what they are doing, and think the same will work for me.  It’s simply not true.  I used to get a bit taken away with what others were doing – oh my god, that girl is doing THREE hours of cardio a day! She must be serious!!  What a joke. Being in the competitive circles, I am surrounded by 20-year old girls who obsess about their bodies, and all they can seem to think or focus on, is the gym, tilapia and protein powder. I’m sorry, but I’ve lived a little longer and in a few more places than most of these individuals, been on my own in foreign countries since I was 18, and I have more interests than just what I need to consume directly after a workout to feed my muscles.  Misunderstand me correctly – I am not saying that fitness is not one of the most important things in my life – it IS. I love the feeling I get from being in shape, completing that last rep I didn’t think I could, and how my body feel when I’m eating healthy and wholesome. BUT… that doesn’t mean it needs to consume my life, and take over and occupy my brain so much that I can’t be open to other interests and viewpoints. I get so sick of that in the fitness business.  I like to have more than ONE interest, you know? So you have a hot smoking body  now- what about when you’re 60, and 70? Sure you can have a great body for your age, but you ultimately have to develop some depth to your character and personality.  The importance of (the oh so overused word) balance and humility has really hit home with me as of late. Sure, while you’re competing for a show, you must focus and be a bit obsessive, but does it define who you are? Will it contribute to hitting long term goals that will define your life?  You’re not even getting PAID for this, quite the opposite – it can cost THOUSANDS of dollars to compete. For 1 minute on stage. Sure, it’s a thrill while you’re up there, especially if you win a trophy, but let’s all put it in perspective here. And be in touch with reality.  I’m at the stage in my life where I need to prioritize making money, but most of all fulfilling my mind and feel like I’m using my most important muscle; THE BRAIN.  I suppose this is why I have selected to distance myself from certain individuals who seem too self-important. It’s only IRON, folks! 🙂

So I have selected to surround myself with people who love fitness, but have a healthy relationship to it and practice balance. They have their daily life with their kids, husbands, eating out, celebrating birthdays and eating the occasional cake here and there without needing to post a piece about how life will now end as they will gain 10 lbs overnight – hey, they even drink wine!!  And guess what: THEY STILL HAVE SMOKING BODIES!! My first trainer is a great example of that. But more importantly, they seem happier. More relaxed. So refreshing.  I like to think I possess the talent of being super serious in the gym (no talking, messing around with my hair, watching my reflection in the mirror every 2 seconds) getting the work done, and then immediately switching to getting business taken care of afterwards, whether it be preparing for a wine tasting, prepping a healthy menu for a client or meeting with business partners.

Today I worked out with a friend who is the epitome of all of the above. A competitive weight lifter, she is the strongest female I know.   She happens to have the world record in bench press for her weight class and is amazingly strong. So humble, easy going and supportive.  Fittingly, we worked out chest today, and as chest is my weakest body part, I found it incredibly inspiring to work out with her.  I even hit a PR !! With my injured shoulder from 2 years ago, it has been somewhat tricky to work out the chest and have been discouraged at times when going in to it this body part. Some days it really hurts, other days it feels stronger. Regardless, I highly recommend you guys work out with a partner (who is compatible or better than you) from time to time, to break up your routine and put some spice into it! You can learn from each other, pick up new routines or little twists here and there that is all a part of growing.

What’s my point of all of this rambling? Nothing really, other than to say it feels good to gain confidence in what I’m doing, both work out and diet wise, to keep on doing research on my own and find a method that I feel comfortable with, something I can live with for the rest of my life. This is not a “stage” I’m going through, it’s an adjustment of how I used to live, and a better one at that. I also feel irritated by all the “wanna be coaches” who jump on the latest bandwagon and just repeat jargon and “broscience” as they call it, but nobody seem to really have any scientific proof or reasoning behind their borrowed theories. That is why I always recommend to my clients that they do their own research, and study up on the body, because in all honesty – in this business very little requirements are placed on trainers and “diet coaches”  when it comes to education and certification and consequently,  a lot of misinformation is being exchanged.

All seriousness aside – the point of fitness, and anything in life in my opinion – is to HAVE FUN!! If it stops being fun, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing! With that – I wish everyone a wonderful weekend doing something fun and rewarding for you and your body, and hope you’ll check back with me soon! xoxoxo


Most people who are involved with body building and prepping for a show agree that the most difficult part to handle is the diet. In order to “lean out” so that the muscles appear more visible, very little body fat can be left on the surface. In order to achieve this, not only must you worry about a low fat diet, but one where you control all the macronutrients (carbs, proteins, fats) and ‘juggle’ them the right way so to be in synch with how the body works. I’m not going to lie when I say that I am overwhelmed by all the new information I’m learning and must sit down each time and assess whether or not a particular method will work for me, but also if I can live with it. I don’t want to adopt a diet I cannot maintain for a longer period of time without being miserable – but at the same time I realize that the body of a bodybuilder does not come for free. Sacrifices must be made, and some days are definitely tougher than others.

I have just completed my first week of absolutely NO cheating on the Fighter Diet, by the amazing Pauline Nordin. I went on her diet a couple of months ago and did quite well, even though I snuck in a couple of handfuls of almonds here and there, a cracker or a piece of fruit, etc. Well, this week I followed it to a tee and I can feel a big difference! My body is tightening up already and I’ve dropped 2 lbs, even though I’m not half as active cardio wise as I used to be! Pretty amazing. As a tall girl, it normally assists me in looking leaner than shorter girls, but I also have a harder time looking “big” and muscular, because obviously I have a lot more surface to cover! 🙂  Measuring body fat next week at the gym, I’ll be curious to see if that has gone down too.  Tomorrow I am doing my “carb loading” day, where I will consume anything from oatmeal to cereral (I even get to have a banana with it!), a fruit yogurt (sugar),  some more fruit (apple), sushi, a chocolate (non fat) jello dessert and for dinner: a pork chop with a whole sweet potato and green peas. Loading up on carbs is to shock the body and preventing it from thinking it will have very little calories and carbs, and ‘confuse’ it’ so as to not create a plateau.  I can’t wait to try it, although I’ve found that this week has gone by pretty quickly and easily and I’m more motivated than ever to stay focused and good.  I normally eat grains with dinner for instance (quinoa, barley, etc.) even if it’s just a 1/2 cup, but now I’ve cut that out and surprisingly I don’t miss it! Eating clean is not just about healthy food for me anymore, it’s about following the principles of the Fighter Diet so I can stay super lean while building muscles at the same time. Not for the average person, I can tell you – but definitely the healthiest way to get to a ripped body, that I’ve seen out there. The Fighter Diet lets you eat a LOT of food – filling up on volume rich, but less calorie dense foods such as cruciferous vegetables/greens and supplementing with lots of fiber in the morning (wheat bran and flax seed) to fill you up and also help with digestion. For girls with big appetites – just like me!

It feels wonderful to have “conquered” my mind to not give in to my cravings, for once. I spent a lot of time this week reflecting on why I always seem to resort to food or drink (read: wine) when I am home.  Sometimes it’s definitely a version of boredom, although I never have problems finding ways to occupy myself.  The other part of the reason might be because of the way I grew up.  I lived in a small town with few opportunities (I was involved with sports and music though and managed to keep busy), and most people were, and still are, busy taking care of their families, and sitting in their pretty houses that they’ve spent a gazillion dollars building, day in and day out. What do you do at home to entertain yourself? Watch TV and… make a delicious meal, of course! Coupled with wine, you can really dream and pretend you are on some paradise island or in another exotic location – makes sense, right? 🙂  Nothing wrong with this of course, but when it becomes a daily routine, and there is no longer just a ‘special occasion’, obviously your waist line will begin to suffer, and one can become “lazy” in the creative department. After all, it’s much more tempting to make a nice risotto and pop open that bottle of Barolo (if you’re lucky), rather than put on your gym shoes and go out running or stop in at the gym! Especially on a cold, dark night, of which there are plenty in Norway.  I learned from my mother, who comforted everyone around her with her delicious home cooking. I started doing the same for my husband, who is a chef, and naturally, were quite preoccupied with food as well. Four years into our marriage I was 20 lbs overweight and not happy. So I keep thinking of that Sunny when people tell me “Oh but why don’t you allow yourself a piece of cheese cake? You look so great, it won’t hurt!”.  One of my other favorites is: “Oh if you get a craving, you must just give in to it, otherwise you end up eating around it.” Says who?? Another popular excuse to get lazy and just eat whatever your mind tells you to do. The mind can play tremendous tricks on us, it’s incredible in fact the power it can have  over our actions if we allow it. The solution here is to not allow that voice to win, but to practice strength and stay focused, because that is how you get closer to your goal! (and have you ever felt great by the way, after having given in to one of your silly cravings? not me!)

Comments and suggestions to try to persuade me to stray from my course no longer bother me, as  I realize it is other people’s insecurities if they must point out my eating habits and correct them to their liking. What matter the most to me, is that I am the master of my own mind! I, and only I, decide whether or not to have that snack, or what goes in to my body. It feels good to be in control and to be able to steer myself in the direction I want to go.  I have a choice, and I make a conscious choice every time I pop something in my mouth. For the most part, I no longer crave super unhealthy foods, although ice cream is my favorite still – but that’s ok! I save those for my re-feed days (tomorrow, yay!) and I am allowed one every 6-7 days and that is just the right amount to keep me happy. Balance is key, coupled with elements of extreme methods 🙂

I pray I will stay mentally strong in the next coming months and look forward to getting to know my body better and how it reacts to various nutrients. Nothing tastes better than having a hard, fit body – at least not to me! 🙂

Short-term and long term goals

I have been reading Tom Venuto’s amazing ebook, “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” this week and as a result, feel re-charged, motivated and inspired to continue my fitness journey and ramp it up even more.  This book is particularly for serious fitness buffs, figure competitors, body builders, etc. while he also has another book out in bookstores at the moment called “The Body Fat Solution” which is geared more towards the average person who want to get tips on how to lower body fat and bettering their diet and work out regimen.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get some of my friends who are not into fitness or lifting as much as I am, to understand the level of interest I have in this field. I am determined to not let comments get to me or get me discouraged, or make me feel “crazy” or insane, because I know that everything I do is healthy – and the fact that I’m challenging myself each and every day can seem a bit ‘obsessive’ to some. I’m not sure why that is, perhaps some feel bad about themselves because they haven’t found their passion, that they are not working out enough or watching their diet as well as they should, and so on. At any rate, it is not my job to figure out someone else’s motives and reasons why they behave the way they do – I’m way too busy thinking about myself, ha! That may sound selfish and a bit narcissistic, but the fact of the matter is everyone should be thinking and concentrating more about themselves, before putting any focus on others. If everyone followed that rule, I swear there would be fewer wars in the world!!

Tom Venuto talks about goal setting as absolutely mandatory when wanting to improve your health, diet, physique, and for that matter- anything else you want to achieve in life.  Human beings are naturally goal strivers, but most are not aware of their sub-conscious mind, which for the most part talks to us in a negative manner (something like 98% of the population). Have you ever set a goal but then deep down there is a voice that is doubting you’ll ever get there? That’s your subconsciousness showing up.  When you set your goal, don’t focus on what you want to avoid, but what you want to achieve. Hence, don’t say “I don’t want to be fat anymore” but rather “I will be 10 lbs lighter in 8 weeks”. Talk to yourself in a positive manner, and write down your goals.  This latter part many seem to shrug at and say “I already know what I want, I don’t need to write them down”, but this can be a very big mistake. In fact, in addition to writing them down, make sure to look at them twice a day – once in the morning and one at night, and more often if you can. Only by repetition can we change that subconscious mind of ours and turn it into a positive voice, that tells us ‘we can do this! and – we will do it!”. Why do you think for instance big companies like Coca Cola and McDonalds, just to mention a couple, invest so much in billboards, ads both in magazines and TV? By constantly being exposed to their messages, it eventually becomes engrained in our mind.

I wrote down my short-term and long-term goals last night and I read them this morning when having breakfast. Some of my short term goals, which I define as a 12-week goal, are to lose 3% body fat (which will get me down to single digits), get that six pack exposed, as well as increasing my cardio by 45 minutes per day.  I would also like to be able to bench press 100 lbs on the incline. My long term goal (meaning 1 year from now) is to have registered for a figure competition and have entered it by next summer.  With that in mind, I need to focus on day to day activities so I can slowly get to where I want to be in 12 weeks from now, and eventually – a year from now. I’ve decided to include glutamine in my day as a supplement to my diet of wholesome, healthy foods. Glutamine occurs naturally in your body, and the most common amino acid in your body (over 60% of skeletal muscle is glutamine). Taking an additional dosage of it in form of tablets or powder (I choose the latter and mix it in with my water), can prevent your muscles to be catabolized in order to provide glutamine for other cells in your body.  It can also help speed up recovery between work outs and help produce growth hormones. It may also help boost your immune system, and for body builders this is important since heavy workouts tend to greatly deplete glutamine levels. This in turn decreases strength, stamina and recovery – none of which is good when building! Glutamine helps metabolize protein, and with increasing growth hormones, helps metabolize fat and support muscle growth.  Especially when “cutting” – meaning decreasing body fat while needing to maintain muscle, glutamin has proven to be a good assistant. With this information in hand as cutting is my goal right now, I decided to add it in, in addition to my BCAA’s (Branch-chain amino acids) I take before and after my work out. Here’s  a picture of my glutamine:

I’m not a fan of adding a ton of supplements, as I believe you can get most nutrients from “real food” but in addition to the BCAAs, I find that glutamine is well worth the experiment. I will be sure to report back on any developments!

Another thing I discovered and have been lucky to find is Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon that comes in these little pouches:

Much lighter in fat than the fresh salmon fillets, and of course being wild rather than farmed (which most salmons out there seem to be these days), they provide 120 calories per pouch, 1 g fat and 13 g of both protein and potassium – they are also an easy snack to bring along when you are out and about. I usually snack on one of these in the afternoon or mid morning after a very early breakfast. You can also add them to your salad, or mix with some mustard, vegetables and herbs for a delicious spread on your healthy sandwich!  They are notoriously hard to find in these easy to carry pouches, mostly I find them in cans, but I was so lucky that my (avant garde, if I may mention) little grocery store carries them regularly so I buy as many as I can get my hands on when I see them. Having some protein for your snack or in between meals, is so much more satisfying and healthy than chewing on carbs, which only raises your blood sugar levels and make you crash and burn or get even hungrier. So consider this little guy next time you are hungry and need a pick me up!

After you read this – sit down and write down YOUR short term and long term goals.  Don’t just think about it, do it now! If you read them to yourself often and consistently enough – only your own mind will be in your way of achieving these missions. Trust the process and be positive!

Today’s booster

“The purest intentions, the finest sense of devotion, the noblest spiritual
aspirations are fatuous when not realized in action.”
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

The moment of truth

You’ve persevered through the dark, difficult times. You’ve taken each
challenge in stride and overcome countless obstacles along the way.

And just when you’re beginning to turn the corner, just when it looks like
it’s all starting to go your way, a huge setback comes along and knocks you
down. Just when things are starting to go well after a long and difficult
effort, the momentum is suddenly snatched away from you.

That is when it is most important to not give up, to keep on going. Pick
yourself up, no matter how discouraged you may be. Now is your opportunity
to cross the threshold into a realm where success is virtually assured.

You were so close and then the world beat you back yet again. Find a way to
keep on going. It is indeed a moment of truth. When you can pick yourself
back up, weary though you may be, and get back in the game, at that moment
you’ll know with absolute certainty that nothing can stop you, that nothing
can keep you down.

What would you attempt if you knew you could not be stopped? Keep going, no
matter what, and you’ll reach truly magnificent heights in whatever you
choose to undertake.

By Ralph S. Marston, GHF’s Motivational Writer

Meeting and Inspiration

Yesterday I was so lucky as to be able to meet one of the women I admire most in the fitness industry, Pauline Nordin. She is an IFBB Pro and a fitness model, a native from Sweden (so we are both Scandinavian, maybe that’s why I like her? 🙂 and currently resides in LA. She was visiting NYC this weekend and agreed to meet me for an in-person consultation. I am at a stage where I have completed my first fitness challenge, and need to get to the ‘next level’ when it comes to building muscle, continuing my diet to maintain the lower body fat percentage I’ve achieved, and also have to find ways to stay motivated. The best way I know how to do the latter bit, is to surround myself with like minded people that will support and inspire me. I’ve certainly had my share of people who have commented negatively on my bodily changes, or at the least been somewhat ‘skeptical’ and utter comments such as “well, don’t lose anymore, you are really thin now,” and “do you want to look like a man?” , etc. What I am trying to communicate to these people, is I don’t want to be an ‘average’ person who is just trying to shed a few pounds and be ‘thin’. Anybody can do that.  I want to challenge myself physically and see how far I can get strength wise, shaping my body by maximizing the effects my work outs can give me and finding better ways to eat to nurture my body in the healthiest way possible. Bodybuilding has become a passionate hobby of mine, much like knitting or playing chess can be a passionate hobby for others. Somehow when it comes to diet and exercise, people wrinkle their noses and think I shouldn’t “deprive” myself of fatty foods and excess alcohol. I’d rather not deprive myself of a fit, healthy body thank you very much – to each his own!

Back to Pauline… the hour and a half I spent with her was very informative and she is a glowing example of how a fit lifestyle looks. She talks the talk, and walks the walk, which is why I respect and admire her so much. In her short life of 28 years, she has achieved so much already having won many competitions and has her own business and consulting/personal training firm. She was also featured as one of the trainers on Scandinavia’s version of “The Biggest Loser” and has been nicknamed by many the “Swedish Jillian Michaels.” In my mind she is even tougher, and I love Jillian! 🙂

After the meeting I realized how far I have to go physically and was also corrected in many ways on how I train and do my exercises.  I also realize I may have taken on too much by registering for a half marathon and hoping to gain optimum muscle simultaneously – those are opposing goals, pretty much because too much cardio affects muscular growth (more about that in a later post). That didn’t make me feel overwhelmed or tempt me to give up, rather I have a new fire under my a** now and ready to rock! My goal is to go out to LA sometime this spring to train with Pauline and if I can combine it with work, perhaps go out once every other month so she can be my trainer on the west coast and I can take ‘homework’ back with me to NY and continue working from here. She has an ‘online coaching’ option on her website which I will take advantage of in the mean time. I have always been attracted to nutty, focused, obsessed and extreme personalities because I am one myself, and therefore I feel that I’ve found my match in Pauline. I’ve been lucky to have found a mentor in all my areas of life where I have needed one, and Pauline is definitely someone I look up to and am glad I met! Check out her website and you can join her fan group on Facebook under “Fighter Diet”.  Warning: it’s not for everyone, but for a small group of people who are really serious diets, work outs and about getting and staying in shape!  Photo of Pauline below: