Topic: Weight Loss


How to Get and Maintain Six-Pack Abs

I am a firm believer that when it comes to fitness, you get out of it what you put in. Building muscle is tough, but maintaining it over the years is even more difficult. That’s why I’ve worked hard to narrow down the most important steps anyone can take to develop a six-pack, as well as keep it as the months go by.

    1. Calculate Your Current Fat Percentage

The biggest reason you’re not seeing a shredded six pack, even if you eat right and work out regularly, is because your body is packing too much fat. The first step to shedding that extra fat is figuring out what your body fat percentage is right now. This will help you see how much you need to lose before you can develop visible abs.

    1. Figure Out How Much Fat You Should Have

Usually, men need to break the 10 percent fat barrier in order to show off a six-pack while women need to get below 17 percent. Once you know your own fat percentage, you can use a series of calculations to see how much fat you need to lose in order to get in the proper range.

    1. Create a Schedule

Losing fat takes time, and to effectively reach your goal, you’ll need to establish a timeline you can actively stick to. In my opinion, you should be working to lose one to two pounds each week. Do the math to see how long it will take you to reach your final goal, then mark it on your calendar so you stay on track.

    1. Count Your Calories and Track Your Meals Long-Term

In order to shed fat, you’ll have to eat fewer calories than you usually do and make each meal count. This means recording everything you eat, either via an app or by keeping track on your own.

    1. Combine Strength Training and Cardio

The best workout plan will hit all of your major muscle groups over the course of the week by including cardio and weight-lifting. You should also adopt a progressive training method to ensure that your body is constantly forced to adapt to new muscle growth.

    1. Stay Consistent

Once you’re on this fitness journey, you can’t let up. Stay motivated and keep working, and eventually, you’ll see the results you want to see.

To learn more about calculating your body’s fat, planning perfect meals for muscle building, and developing the best workouts for your body, check out my fitness guide, Rachel’s Guide for Year-Round Shredded Abs. I’ll walk you through every step of your fitness journey and give you plenty of tips that will change your diet and lifestyle for good. Get your copy today for just $47.99 and start building the body you’ve always dreamed of having.

Jaime M.

   

“For years I tried to obtain a lean physique, and after many failed attempts I was about to give up, then Rachel happened, and after just 6 weeks I saw my body change, not only did she guide me and coached me on my workout routines, she also worked with me to make easy and affordable meal plans, along with recommended supplementation, her guidance has help me obtain that year long physique I always wanted. I cannot thank her enough!! I recommend her to anyone 10/10!” – Jaime M.

 

Morgan F.

  

“A few months ago I hit a huge turning point in my life when I had to stop playing college soccer due to a knee injury. I had played soccer my whole life and was unsure of what I would do. Luckily for me, I met Rachel as I began searching for a new direction and focus in my life and discovered a whole new world in fitness and bikini competitions.  I have always loved fitness and working out but wasn’t sure how to go about getting into the kind of shape I would need to be in for an NPC bikini competition. I wasn’t sure what to eat, which exercises to do or when.  Rachel was with me every step of the way as I prepared for my first competition – with meal plans balancing all the different vitamins and minerals that I would need so that I never felt hungry and had lots of energy, naturally.  She gave me great workout plans to make sure that I worked out different muscle sets each day and had suggestions for posing coaches and where to get everything I was going to need for the competition. Thanks to Rachel, in only a few months, by following her workout and nutrition plans, I was able to win 1st place in both my open and novice bikini competitions. There’s no way that I could have done it without her and I am so thankful for all of the support that she has given me!  Because of Rachel, not only have I been able to transform my body into what I always wanted it to look like by eating healthy and the right combinations of food, but my family is also living a much healthier lifestyle because they’ve seen how successful her nutrition and training plans have been for me. I’m really looking forward to continuing to work with her and to see where I might get to with her help. ” – Morgan F

Lauren R.

“After having my first child, I wanted to get my body back ASAP and that’s where Rachel came in. She customized a plan that got me healthy results quick! What I loved most was she made my meal plan ideal as a new mom with yummy quick recipes, simple ingredients to buy, late night snack options, and the wonderful grocery list. I can’t thank her enough for the time and energy she put into customizing my plan and helping me be a healthier mom for my child.” – Lauren R

 

Instagram: Lauren.s.reed

How to Eat Healthy when on Vacation

I recently rang in the New Year with my family onboard a weeklong cruise to the Caribbean. But if any of you know how hard it can be to stay on a healthy eating plan when on vacation, a cruise would be the mothership for diet disaster (pun intended).

Cruise ships are notorious for being all-you-can-eat binges that leave passengers feeling ship-like themselves. According to the polls of several online cruise reviewers, the average weight-gain on a 7-day cruise ranges from about 5 to 10 pounds!

My ship had “complimentary” dining options (after you purchase your ticket onboard of course) that served you as much food as your little heart desired. These unlimited food options consisted of two main dining rooms which served brunch and dinner on most days, an all-you-can-eat buffet (wouldn’t be a cruise without one), a burger joint, Mexican cantina, pizzeria, deli, and last but certainly not least: an all you can eat soft-serve ice cream machine at multiple ends of the ship! And that was just the “free” options…

 

It truly seemed like people enjoyed shoveling endless amounts of food down their throats more than anything else on the cruise. I would guess about 75% of the passengers onboard to be overweight with a large percentage of that also being obese or morbidly obese. Now I’m in no way fat-phobic or have anything against people who are overweight, but obese five-year-old children walking around with their all-you-can-eat ice cream cones in their hands… come on people.

You could also pay a surcharge to eat at some of the higher end dining options such as The Seafood Shack, The Point Steakhouse and The Chefs Table. Out of all of the places to eat on the cruise ship, the options you had to pay for probably had the healthiest choices:
At the Seafood Shack some of their healthy options consisted of boiled or steamed lobster, crab, and shrimp, raw oysters, and a whole-fish catch of the day prepared anyway you wanted. There were also the less-healthy options such as fish n’ chips, a fried seafood platter, fried shrimp, and clam chowder. But, all in all, I gave this option four out of five stars for having good, clean protein sources without most being smothered in added unhealthy fats.

The Point Steakhouse was probably my favorite place to eat onboard. My boyfriend, Chase, and I ate there on the first and last night on the cruise. The menu consisted of an appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert for each person. Starter options consisted of escargot, grilled Portobello mushroom, beef tartare, shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare, or French onion soup. Both nights I had the tuna tartare just because I’m a big fan of the dish. The salads were pretty basic—salads. I just asked for my dressing on the side to avoid it being overly drenched in added fats. For my entrée I had the same thing both nights: I noticed they had an option for a Surf N’ Turf of 4 ounces filet minon and 4 ounces lobster tail. I love lobster tail but I also noticed they had an entrée of just sea bass on the menu, which is my absolute FAV! So I asked the waiter if I could get the Surf N’ Turf with the filet minon and sea bass instead of the lobster, which they kindly obliged to. I want to note, however, that when ordering my entrée I also asked the waiter to cook my protein without ANY added fats—so no butter or oil. Believe it or not, restaurants usually will cook your steak with butter and your fish in oil to make it taste oh-so-much better, but highly unnecessary for the waistline. My protein was also accompanied with some steamed and lightly seasoned broccoli (just the way I like it)! For dessert, Chase and I decided to take a pass because we were already having some delicious red wine with our meals, but truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have had the dessert anyway after such a large meal.

On night two of the cruise my boyfriend and I ate at The Chef’s Table without knowing beforehand it consisted of 4-mini taste appetizers, an 11-course meal, and dessert. A had a pretty rough time at this event… Although it was pretty interesting getting to see some of the behind-the-scenes of the kitchen and what goes into the production of all of those meals being served for the ship. Our four appetizers consisted of a mango sphere on rosemary biscuit, salmon tartar wrapped in a sesame cone, and beef carpaccio on a fried puff with chocolate bacon. I ate the mango sphere and had a bite of the rest of the appetizers but did not finish them like most of the people there. For the main courses they served in order: a beet blanket with spiced grape tea, crab stack with corn custard, duck with creamy parmesan quinoa, creamy tomato bisque with buttery cream cheese, sea bass with chorizo and corn pudding, and wagyu beef with bone marrow soufflé. Although these entrees were very small, they were all very rich and loaded with fats and carbs. I basically ended up doing the same thing as with the appetizers and just ate a bite of each course and a fair amount of the protein if it wasn’t fried or mauled by cream and butter. Dessert consisted of a sea salt praline chocolate, raspberry mojito, key lime cake, apricot vanilla gel, and citrus cream. WOWZA that was a lot to type, not to mention eat! I mean can you imagine?! I don’t even know how many calories would be in that entire DINNER but I’m sure well over a few thousand. For dessert I had one bite of the chocolate, and after a three-hour long dinner I was ready to get out of there.

For the remainder of the cruise I did what I do best. I made due with what was available and came up with the healthiest options I could for each meal. Although I did not have my food scale, after years of weighing out food I had a pretty good idea of how to eye-ball my serving sizes. I tried to stick to my normal eating times as much as possible, which wasn’t difficult since there was food available at all times of the day.

For breakfast I always ate at the buffet. During this time they had everything from sausages and bacon, cereal, sweetened yogurts, fruit, and endless amounts of pasties and breads. I found the best option to be at the omelet station where a cook prepared eggs anyway to liked. Waiting in line for my omelet I noticed right away the cook first spraying the pan with Pam and then proceeding to douse the pan in some sort of oil (I’m assuming it wasn’t coconut or olive oil either). When it was my turn to order I asked the cook to not use any oil and just a smidge of the spray oil to avoid my eggs from sticking to the pan. By doing just this I probably saved about 190 calories if the cook was pouring a good two tablespoons of oil on those pans. I then asked for egg whites instead of the regular eggs and asked him to double it (his scoops were very small and I’m used to 8 ounces’ of egg whites for breakfast.) After I added spinach, tomato, mushroom, and a little ham. On the side I had a scoop of oatmeal that I sweetened with my own Stevia that I carry around with me always.

During lunchtime we sometimes ate at the buffet or at one of the dining halls. During this time I looked for a simple (without a bunch of ingredients added) lean protein source and non-starchy veggie. If they had a starchy carb available that wasn’t all doctored up, such as a plain potato as apposed to hash browns or cheesy potatoes I would add a small amount of that in as well. But I basically ended up going pretty low carb for these meals because it seemed like the carbs they had were never just plain.

Snacks varied during the cruise. Some days I had a ProSupps My Bar that I had brought with me. Other snacks were things such as apples with PB2 (also brought with), cottage cheese with a little fruit, or another egg white omelette.

For dinner, besides the nights we ate at The Point Steakhouse or The Chef’s Table, we would eat at the regular dining room. Although the food here wasn’t buffet style, you could still order as many appetizers and entrees and desserts as your heart desired. But because a lot of the meals here had set sides, such as the chicken breast came with parmesan and garlic mashed potatoes, I did my best to get alternate sides for the entrée I wanted. I usually ordered either the salmon, chicken beast, or lobster tail because they were the simplest protein options. Broccoli was the only veggie on the menu the entire cruise that they would prepare steamed versus coated in whatever oil they were using to cook the rest of the veggies in. So I had a lot of broccoli with each of my meals. Again my dinner was lower carb than what I am used to at home but I probably was making up for the extra calories in the few glasses of red wine I enjoyed. And I did not have any dessert the entire trip, besides maybe a bite while I was at The Chef’s table
When I got home from the cruise I hopped on the scale to see if anything had changed from a week of not tracking and basically eating out for every single meal. And I was pleasantly surprised that the scale did not budge even an ounce! I was the exact weight as I had been before vacation. During the cruise I had just focused on making healthy choices and creating proper serving sizes. I also stuck with a workout routine, which definitely made a difference. I got up every morning but one while on the cruise to get in a lift. The boat didn’t have much of the equipment that I usually used during my workouts (no squat rack, barbells, or cables) but just endless amounts of cardio equipment and some standard machines and dumbbells. But I got in a workout nonetheless and made due with what I had available! Also, starting each day with a workout helped to start my day with a positive mindset and stay on track with my goals.

After this vacation I can officially attest that it is possible to stay on track and not gain ANY weight when vacationing, even on a week long all-you-can-eat floating feast of a cruise. So if you’re planning on going on a vacation, these are some tips that I would recommend following to help avoid gaining any weight:

  1. Try not to eat at a buffet if possible, especially if your eyes tend to be bigger than your stomach or you have a hard time eyeballing proper portion sizes.
  2. Pack your own snacks or foods. It was unrealistic for me to meal-prep for a week long cruise, but I did bring some things to make eating healthier easier such as my Stevia, PB2, and protein bars.
  3. Stay as close as you can to your normal eating times. If you normally eat 4 times a day at home, try to do the same. Skipping meals can cause you to overeat and make impulsive decisions when you do decide to eat.
  4. Stay hydrated. During my vacation I brought with me a refillable water bottle that I was constantly filling up throughout the day. If you get dehydrated you may even sometimes mistake being thirsty for hunger.
  5. Avoid to many alcoholic beverages. I still had my fair share of red wine while on the trip. But I did a pretty good job at limiting myself one or two glasses a night and I also didn’t drink every night on the cruise.
  6. Try to stay with your normal workout schedule. Even if it’s just a 30 minute workout, any workout it better than none. This is also make it easier to get back to your normal routine when you get home from vacation.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter/cook to alter your meal to make it healthier. When eating out I’m always asking for less sauce, no butter/oil, and better cooking methods to make my food the way I want it. This is probably one of the most important takeaways if any from these tips. Many people often feel uncomfortable asking to have their meal altered, but it’s your food and your paying for it! Chase at first had a hard time with me doing this because every time we went out to eat I always wanted the waiter to change something about my meal. But think of it this way: by asking for no butter/fat when cooking your meal you can save sometimes 200-400 calories from added unhealthy fats if they are using 2 TBSP to cook your protein in and more in your veggies and not to mention in all those creams and sauces. That’s an extra 200-400 calories that could be going towards better food options and added protein.
  8. You can still enjoy yourself and stay on track. You didn’t go on vacation just to eat. Enjoy the all the activities and new places you get to experience and spending time with your loved ones!

The Not-So-Healthy Salad

Many people believe by ordering a salad they are eating healthy, and often times they just may be. A large serving of greens and non-starchy vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with vitamin and minerals.

But as many ‘salads’ may start out healthy, they often wind up almost anything but. Just because something is called is salad doesn’t make it healthy.  Potato salad, Caesar salad, taco salad, macaroni salad, bacon-ranch salad… the list goes on and on.  Most of these salads have more calories, unhealthy fats, sodium, and sugar than may of their fast food counterparts.

When making or ordering a salad, avoid these different toppings which can easily turn a healthy bowl of greens into a calorie ridden disaster:

  • Avoid Creamy dressings
    • These are probably the worst dressings you can choose. For example, ranch dressing is a whole 140 calories per two tablespoons.  Not only are these dressings loaded in unhealthy fats, but they also have high levels of sodium and very little nutritional value.
    • TRY THIS: Stick to olive oil based vinagrettes or better yet just plain olive oil and vinegar. And If you just don’t want to give up your creamy dressings, try making your own with Greek yogurt and your choice of herbs and seasonings.
  • Avoid Glazed or candied nuts
    • Nuts are healthy fats and a good addition to a salad, that is if they aren’t kettle-cooked and glazed with sugar.
    • TRY THIS: Stick to dry-roasted or raw nuts to save on calories and sugar. Also don’t overdo the nuts. An ounce of nuts still has +/- 200 calories, so an ounce or less is all that is needed.
  • Avoid crunchy tortilla chips, shells, or croutons.
    • These are essentially just buttered and fried breads which are loaded in excess unhealthy fats and calories. The quesadilla Explosion salad at Chili’s which contains tortilla chips contains about 1,360 calories with 88 grams of fat. You’ll want to stay far far away from these kinds of ‘salads.’
    • TRY THIS: If looking for a little crunch, stick with an ounce of plain nuts as mentioned above!
  • Avoid fried meats
    • It’s important to ALWAYS add some sort of protein item to a salad. But steer away from anything that is fried or breaded to avoid adding empty calories, fats, and carbs.
    • TRY THIS: Choose grilled or steamed protein items only.  Good options could be chicken, shrimp, fish, eggs, or ground beef.
  • Avoid EXCESS cheese
    • First let me say, cheese isn’t all bad. Cheese can have healthy fats and protein but when some people add cheese to a salad, they really pile it on—and that’s why it’s on the list.  Also stick to a grass-fed, natural cheese. Not the fake Kraft cheese or Velveta.
    • TRY THIS: Measure out one ounce of cheese or less. Healthy options are cheeses such as feta, goat cheese,  cottage cheese,  parmesan,  and fresh mozzarella.
  • Avoid Dried fruit
    • Craisins, raisins, or any other dried fruit are loaded in sugar due to their high concentration. ¼ up of raisins is 130 calories, with 29 grams coming solely from sugar.
    • TRY THIS: If adding fruit, choose fresh fruit. Better options would be any variety of berries as they are lower is sugar than many other fruits.

Avoid the Holiday Bloat: 9 Tips to Avoid Overeating Around the Holidays

When it comes to the Holidays, food always seems to play a big role in almost every cultural celebration. One of the best ways to keep overeating in check during the holidays, is to first acknowledge and accept that there will be a lot of food temptations and there’s really no way around that. Once you’ve recognized that fact, the next thing is to arm yourself with an attitude by which you’ll approach enjoying holiday food, but without overdoing it. And starving yourself all day before a Holiday Meal almost always ends up with disastrous results too, so that’s not the answer either!

Here are a few tips and ideas for eating around the holidays that will help keep your diet on track all the way through to New Years:

  1. Make half your plate non-starchy veggies
    • Non-starchy veggies are low in calories and are loaded with fiber meaning that if you fill up on the greens, you’ll feel full and be less likely to overeat.
  2. Fill up on protein
    • Your second biggest portion should go to protein. Protein will also help you to feel full and prevent you from overeating.
  3. Limit your sweets and refined grains
    • It’s okay to have a little- after all it is the holidays. Just don’t overdo the sweets and breads. Before even looking at the dessert table you should have a plate full of protein rich foods and healthy vegetables.
  4. Take it slow
    • Pace yourself when eating. It takes 20 minutes to feel satiated, so eating slower will help you to listen to your body and know when you’ve have enough.
  5. Don’t arrive to the party hungry
    • Have a healthy meal or snack before the party so you’ll be less likely to overeat or make impulsive food choices.
  6. Keep with your exercise routine
    • As tempting as it is to want to stay in on those cold days it’s important to keep up with an exercise routine to not only burn off those extra calories but to put that extra food towards building muscle, and not just fat storage.
  7. Buffet it
    • If you’re the host, don’t put the food on the table. Instead, set up a buffet.  For many, if they are forced to get up to get seconds or thirds, they are less likely to do so than if the food is in arms reach.
  8. Watch your liquid calories
    • From hot apple cider to alcoholic beverages, liquid calories are still calories that are often overlooked and can add up fast.
  9. Don’t beat yourself up
    • If you do overeat, don’t punish yourself by starving yourself the next day.  Overeating then restricting yourself constantly wreaks havoc on your glucose and insulin levels, which are necessary for an optimal metabolism. Instead, just get back to your normal healthy eating routine and be more mindful of what you are putting in your body and how much the next time.

 

Whitney R.

“I love the workouts! They are simple, quick and help get your tush in gear quick. I started with the beginner monthly schedule and have moved my way up to the advanced calendar, I am so proud of myself and have really seen some amazing results! Thanks to these workout I finally feel confident in a swimsuit.”  – Whitney R.

RACHEL’S HEALTHY EATING GROCERY LIST

HOW TO STOCK YOUR FRIDGE AND PANTRY FOR NUTRITION SUCCESS!

Nutrition is about more than just eating healthy foods. It’s a lifestyle. It’s about feeling great because of what you eat, coupled with regular exercise. The best foods for you are going to be the ones that aren’t processed–AKA real food! This is everything from fruits, vegetables, unsweetened dairy products, 100% whole-grains, seafood, animal meats, seeds, and nuts! Stay away from things like refined grains, refined sweeteners, fried foods, or “fast-foods.” A good rule of thumb is to avoid most things that come in a box, bag, can, or bottle that have more than five ingredients listed on it. When grocery shopping, try staying on the perimeter of the store where fresh foods are found. The isles are usually where most processed and convenience foods are found.

This grocery shopping list I’ve put together should be used as a blueprint to stock your fridge and pantry. Having nutritious food at your disposal is essential to making better choices throughout the day and keeping you from making unhealthy impulsive choices.

GROCERY LIST

VEGETABLES

  • Asparagus
  • Bell Peppers or other pepper varieties
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage, all varieties
  • Carrots or baby carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuces, all varieties
  • Spinach or baby spinach
  • Tomatoes, all varieties

STARCHES

  • Acorn squash
  • Beans such as black beans, black-eyes peas, garbanzo Beans, kidney Beans, or pinto beans
  • Corn
  • Potatoes, all varities including sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Rice
  • Rice Cakes

FRUITS

  • Apples
  • Berries, all varieties
  • Lemons and Limes
  • I try to avoid melons such as watermelons, honeydew, cantaloupe, or mango because they are higher in sugar

BREADS AND CEREALS

  • 100% whole grain bread, such as:
    • Ezekiel Bread
    • Nature’s Own
    • Pepperidge Farm Lite
  • Cereal, such as:
    • Cream of Rice
    • Cream of Wheat
    • Kashi
    • Oatmeal

PROTEIN

  • Cheese, grass-fed
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
    • Whole eggs
    • Cartons of egg whites or Egg Beaters
  • Greek yogurt, unsweetened
  • Meat
    • Chicken breast, boneless and skinless
    • Ground beef, 95% lean
    • Steak, top or bottom round
    • Pork chops, boneless
    • Turkey breast
  • Seafood
    • Cod
    • Halibut
    • Shrimp
    • Sockeye Salmon
    • Tilapia
    • Yellowfin tuna

FATS

  • Almonds and almond butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil

CONDIMENTS

  • Coconut oil cooking spray
  • Mustards
    • Dijon
    • Spicy Brown
    • Yellow
  • Salsa and Pico de Gallo
  • Seasonings and spices
    • Black pepper
    • Chili powder
    • Cinnamon
    • Cumin
    • Italian seasoning
    • Stevia
  • Soy sauce, low-sodium
  • Tomato sauces, fat-free
  • Tabasco
  • Vinegars
    • Balsamic
    • Red Wine