Author Archives: Sarah

May. 10.

Fighting Mental Illness with Fitness

Fighting Mental Illness with Fitness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month! If you are fighting a mental illness it is nothing to be ashamed of. After training many people over the years I have come to realize most of us fight similar mental battles and the more you can open up about it the more you can overcome.

Most of my life I battled depression/anxiety. Doctors actually told me at one point my brain simply does not produce serotonin like other brains. Serotonin is a chemical that stabilizes your mood and acts as a neurotransmitter.

What does a depressed person look like?

         That is hard to say, 1 and 5 Americas have a mental illness and 1 out of 10 are depressed! Depression is debilitating and in the United States has become the leading cause of disability from a wide age range of 15 to 44 years old.  When thinking of a depressed person you would most likely visualize a sad person who cries a lot. This is how depression FEELS! Yet on the outside depression can look successful and depression can look fit!


I was an overweight kid, an anorexic teen and a depressed obsessed fitness competitor. On the outside I looked mentally and physically healthy but I was not. Exercise was my “out” and food was what I controlled to help live with my depression and social anxiety. Today I have given up control over food and have come to a point where exercise is not always the answer. I have accepted my mental illness and after 28 years finally learned how to take action to combat it.

Am I depressed today? No, but I could be! The way your brain produces chemicals is not your choice. It is a choice to fight though.  

Steps I take to fight depression and anxiety in a healthy way are:

1.       Using exercise in combination with mental health help. Therapy, talking with friends or a life coach in combination with exercise can dramatically help improve your chances of overcoming mental illness.

2.       Incorporating running back into my exercise plan for endorphins. With an unstable mood the endorphins have always helped bring me back to reality and help me feel accomplished.

3.       Nutrition! Eating a balanced diet will help your hormones stay in balance and give your brain and body enough fuel to properly work. Also viewing no food as “good” or “bad” will help create a positive lasting relationship with food as being fuel for the body and not something that can control your feelings.

4.       Be consistent! A study by Duke University compared the antidepressant effects of exercise on three different groups. One group received Sertraline a popular antidepressant, one group exercised and one group received a placebo. The exercise groups all exercised at different levels and frequencies. The group with the largest antidepressant effects was that of the group who consistently exercised for 3-4 days a week for 40 minutes or more.

5.       Be grateful! On repeat! Depression will tell you your life sucks or that no one cares! You have to fight it and tell yourself otherwise over and over!

6.       Set a 6 month goal to fight. It takes about a month to conquer a new habit and about 6 months for your brain to form the habit to where it will no longer be “new” to your brain.  

7.       If you are depressed and food is your drug of choice, use exercise like an anti-venom to the drug (food.) Find a routine and accountability to help you keep a healthier balance during your fight to overcome.


If depression and anxiety are holding you back from your full potential please contact us! We would love to hear from you and help you find an exercise routine most suitable for your specific goals!


It is also postpartum depression awareness month! It is very real, if you know someone that has recently had a baby please reach out to them so they know to be conscious of PPD signs and to know they are not alone!



Mental health is JUST as important as physical health!

Apr. 20.

The Tech-Body Syndrome

The Tech-Body Syndrome

Part 1


Does your career require you sit for most of the day?

Today’s   technology is growing at a pace most of us cannot keep up with! The growth has caused an influx of jobs where people are required to sit/drive for most of the day, even personal training can be done completely online.

How many of us sit all day?

86% of Americans drive/sit most of the day!

Majority of Americans spend 13 hours a day sitting (not including the average 8 hours of sleep.)

What does sitting at a desk or in a vehicle do to the body?

Make it tight! In all the wrong places. Posterior muscles relax and anterior muscles tighten causing what we call upper cross syndrome. Unfortunately sitting over time can also cause lower cross syndrome.


Starting from the bottom; what’s tight? And what can you do to correct it from hours of sitting?


Due to the shortness of the hamstring complex, calves tend to become shortened at rest. Light foam rolling with moderate static stretching can help reduce this muscle imbalance.

Preventative measure: 1-2 sets of standing calf raises can help bring functional strength to the area.


Anterior tibialis

Shortened and tight from sitting.

Preventative measure: planter flex feet throughout the day.  



Become tight and shortened in the seated position for extended periods of time.

Preventative measure: Seated on a raised surface using a trigger point ball, perform myofacial release to relieve the tightness. Followed by moderate static stretching.



Loose if sitting with legs relaxed, tight if sitting legs crossed.

Preventative measure- Proper functional leg training.

                                          Legs crossed- Stretch adductors 



Psoas is typically over tight in Tech-body with weak or under active glutes. Proper foam rolling and moderate stretching can be used to relive the tightness.

Preventative measure- Proper functional leg training and stretch hip flexors.


Form tip: Tuck hips in neutral to spine and push forward, do not lean.

Low Back

The QL (quadratus lumborum) and spinal erectors become tight due to the pull from the hamstrings once in the standing position.

Light foam rolling and moderate stretching to relive tightness .


Part 2: Upper Cross Syndrome Prevention Coming Soon!

Nothing hinders fitness goals like an injury, most often caused from tightness due to repetitive movements. Take preventative measures to insure your body is as functional as possible while training!

Jan. 23.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting



Intermittent fasting is not the “key” to fat loss and it may not produce accelerated results. If your metabolism is healthy and you are already dieting it can be mildly used as a tool for a short duration of time to aid in  fat loss.

There are countless studies examining intermittent fasting affects on cancer, weight loss and performance in athletes. The senior investigator for the National Institute of Aging said fasting has been shown to improve bio-markers of disease, reduce oxidative stress and improve memory. Fasting may help physiological factors because the body is under less stress when fasting.

In a fat loss study with overweight individuals with asthma, intermediate fasting every other day was shown to help them lose 8% body fat and decreased markers on asthma related symptoms.

What happens to the body during the fast?

After 10-16 hours of not eating the body will use stored fat and release ketones into the bloodstream. This will help the body use stored fat as energy unlike when it is being fed.

How long should a fast be? At least 10 hours.


What should I eat coming out of fast? A low carbohydrate meal should be eaten first or carbohydrates with added fiber. The body will be sensitive to insulin coming out of fast, eating lower carbohydrate or incorporating fiber will keep insulin spikes low.

Do I eat normal macros or less after fast? Normal, a slight decrease in calories is ok, but just because you fasted does not mean your body requires less food. This does not mean binge either. Instead plan to have 2-3 meals in the 10 hours left in the day (if fasting for 14 hours.)

Can I work out during a fast? YES!


Use these as tools to aid an already consistent and specific eating program to accelerate results!

Jan. 11.

What Goals are Realistic for You?

What Goals are Realistic for You?

To lose 20 pounds in one month, to have more energy, to fit into size 8 jeans by spring; these are most of our goals but are they realistic based on the body’s anatomy and your past history? To better give you some idea of how to set realistic goals I have answered some questions about weight loss, muscle gain and strength!

How fast can I build muscle?

First off, genetics DO play a role in all 3 topics (weight loss, muscle gain and strength.) There are three different body types: mesomorph, endomorph and ectomorph. Mesomorphs and endomorphs build muscle at a faster rate than ectomorphs who are hard gainers.

So on average how fast can the human body gain muscle? A 200 study analysis showed that the average rate of muscle increase was about 0.1-0.2% per day on untrained people. That means if you want to add an inch to your arm size it would take at least 2-4 months! Studies show the first week or two all muscles can do is repair and there are no extra resources to build. Therefore it will take at least 2-3 months of consistently training to see any major changes.

Overall muscle growth varies a lot per person. Some can gain 4-8lbs of lean mass in 3 months (this is the majority of people) but some bodies actually can gain at 2 times that rate!

How fast can I lose fat?


The most important factor in fat loss is your metabolic rate. If you are a serial dieter you metabolism may be damaged and somewhat non-responsive. Every time you lose and regain weight it will become harder each time you try to lose fat unless there is some time given for metabolic repair.

If your metabolism is responsive a good base of how fast you can lose is:

Body fat percentage ÷ 20 = % of your current weight you should aim to lose per week.

Another way to calculate is 1.5 pounds of FAT per week, this could equal more on the scale since we are talking just fat not including water weight. Studies have shown that if more than 1.5 pounds of FAT (not scale weight) is lost that there will also be muscle loss.

When it comes to body types mesomorphs and ectomorphs lose fat at the fastest rate with the least amount of output. Endomorphs can lose fat at the same rate but usually require more output.

How fast can I increase strength?


The first variable in strength increase is how long you have been working out. Have you ever heard that saying “muscle memory?” Well it’s actually more like central nervous system memory. Your brain will always remember movement patterns that are repeatedly done, like riding a bike or back squatting. Therefore be able to perform better and lift more with each squat session.

Second variable is simply what you inherit. There are two types of muscle fibers slow and fast twitch. Fast twitch muscle fibers are used for power and force, the amount of fast and slow twitch fibers you have are actually inherited.

Third variable, who gains strength quicker males or females? Males and females can have equal strength though men will gain strength at a faster rate because majority of the time they will have larger muscles and therefore able to move more weight.

My tip

Write down you overall goal (ex. Loose 20lbs.)

Then evaluate how much muscle or fat you have. Focusing only on scale weight can leave you frustrated and feeling like your body is just broken!

From here make a training plan where you can track MULTIPLE things (ex. How much weight your lifting, how fast you can do an action, circumference measurements,body fat and lastly scale weight.)

*If you are just beginning, a good time frame to have a goal is 6 months, then from there you can further break the goal down.

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Jan. 02.

The Goal Conquering Program

The Goal Conquering Program

Weight Loss, Build Muscle, Run Faster, Play Better, More Energy, Whatever Your Goal Learn to CONQUER!


We are not calling this a RESOLUTION but this is GOAL CONQUERING PROGRAM for 2017!


Whether your goal is to be a better golfer, to loose 50lbs, to fit into a size 6 OR  just get your mojo back this is the year!



Why is reaching fitness goals so important? Besides for internal health and increased energy, the motivation and confidence gained will bleed into all areas of your life and help you conquer other dreams and goals!


So don’t push off making 2017 your best year, take ACTION and everything else will fall into place!


We are offering  a ONE TIME Training and Nutrition SPECIAL!

Guaranteed results for less than $100 a month!! 

What the year of training/coaching includes:

-          Personal FLEXIBLE nutrition plan (no food or drink restrictions)

-          Personal workout programming

-          Weekly check ins

-          Exercise videos

-          Membership to our private group where you will also get motivation and answers to questions and educated on training and nutritional science.

-          Picture transformation timeline updates

-          If you are in the St. Petersurg /Tampa area you can add on 45-50 minute sessions for our LOWEST rate!




Jan. 01.

How Does Alcohol Fit My Macros??

How Does Alcohol Fit My Macros?

Will Alcohol Affect My Fitness Goals?


Having to give up alcohol is a common concern we get asked when someone is starting a fitness program. For years I restricted alcohol and certain foods to obtain a fitter physique but because of these restrictions I ended up actually having to restrict my social life. It was a sad way to live and affected me for years! Therefore today I am over joyed when I tell clients “No you don’t need to give up anything including alcohol and your social life!”


What makes up alcohol exactly?

Alcohol is actually a macronutrient. It is not listed on nutritional facts as ethanol because it is the one macronutrient that is not vital for survival. Alcohol’s has its own calorie make up; it contains 7 calories per gram, carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, protein contains 4 calories per gram and fat contains 9 calories per gram. Because of its high caloric density is probably the reason alcohol has gotten a bad reputation when it comes to fat loss.

So, how do you calculate alcohol? If you are calculating your calories only it is fairly simple (of course measuring first), if you drink 8oz of vodka this is equivalent to approximately 80 calories. Easy enough! If you are tracking macros it gets a little trickier. 80 calories of alcohol can be calculated two separate ways: either through using your fat or your carbohydrates. If you chose to use your carbohydrates you divide the 80 calories by 4 (because there is 4 calories per 1 gram), if you chose to use your fat you divide the 80 calories by 9 (because fat has 9 calories per 1 gram.) Or say you don’t have the 20 gram of carbohydrates left to cover the 80 calories you can actually split the calories between fat and carbohydrates.


If you can lose weight drinking alcohol, why is it negative for your health?

First, anything in excess is bad for the body and alcohol is one of those things that because you lose self-control is tends to be a macronutrient that is ingested in excess. The body is also more sensitive to this macronutrient, I mean you can eat 10 donuts and not puke your brains out for hours and feel like a train hit you the next the day! Second, it causes dehydration therefore affects recovery if drunken on a regular basis. This is why you will weigh more on the scale after drinking. How can you help this? Drink BCAAs throughout the day and even while or between alcoholic drinks. Or at least drink water between alcoholic beverages.  This will help hydration and recovery the next day.

Everything in Moderation!


Dec. 26.

Compound Movements to Maximize Results

Compound Movements to Maximize Results!

Stimulate the most muscles for the most results!

There are two types of training, compound and isolation. Compound in my opinion being the most important exercises to add to your training routine no matter if you are 70 years old or 20 years old; whether you are training for muscle size, strength or for fat loss.

Compound movements are classified by movements that require multiple joints to be used.

Examples: Squat, Deadlift, lunges, chest press, running


Compound movements require more muscle fibers to be recruited, systematically then more muscles will be used and maximum calories will be burned. The squat for example uses multiple joints, the shoulders are engaged (if bar is used), the hips, and knees and all muscles attached to these are engaged including hip muscles and core stabilizing muscles.  

More joints, more muscles equal moving more weight and using more energy/calories!


There is not just the benefit of more calorie burn with compound movements but the stress that compound movements put on the body increase the hormonal responses post exercise, increasing muscle growth. The hormones that I am talking about are growth hormone, testosterone and insulin-like growth factor which all come in to help repair muscle fibers and grow muscle.

Compound movements can be done by anyone even elderly. The benefit of an elderly individual practicing squatting and deadlifting comes into play when something needs to be picked up off the floor or are doing something like making a bed. Movements do not need to be hundreds of pounds to be affective.



Add at least ONE compound movement EVERY time you exercise!

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Dec. 12.

Sugar and it’s Bad Wrap


Sugar and its Bad Wrap.

Is sugar really the problem or is excess the problem?

What is sugar? Most are a compound of fructose and glucose. Glucose is used by all cells of the body for energy, fructose is metabolized by the liver.  There is also high-fructose (and added sugars) as well as naturally occurring sugars.

Fake vs natural, does your body know the difference? No, the body does not. Let’s say you drank a Gatorade one day and ate an apple the next. Both containing the same amount of carbohydrates and sugar. Your body would process these the same. Once the sugar is broken down into fructose and glucose the body does not know whether it was obtained through an apple or Gatorade. Why is the apple the better choice? Because it has fiber! Yes, fiber is the secret player in the game of weight loss! Can you drink half a Gatorade and eat oatmeal instead? Yes! That would be a balance of sugar to fiber like that of an apple. Fake sugar only becomes a problem when someone is not active or only chooses to eat mostly processed food with high-fructose corn syrup leading to liver, heart, kidney and obesity problems. 

When is the best time to eat sugar? Pre and post training.

How to balance insulin spikes? FIBER!

Is it addictive? Many studies have found that sugar is addictive and has been compared to cocaine.  What has also been found, is that you can make sugar more addictive is if it is used for rewards or if it is primarily what is being consumed. How often do you lose weight then “treat” yourself? And usually the treat is something high in carbohydrates or sugar. This action actually feeds that addiction.

In a perfect world we would only eat naturally occurring sugars when the fruit was in season. But we live in America in 2016-2017 so finding a balance that does not restrict yet does not lead to an addiction would be a good start to tackling this problem with sugar.  I think the motto should be this:

A cookie every other day keeps the binge away. An apple every other day keeps the doctor away!

Dec. 06.



How important is water? Does it affect weight loss?

Water as most of you know its super important, we are 75% water and the fact that we can’t go more than 3 days without it shows its importance! Ok, now for the meat and potatoes of water.

Fat on your body is mostly glycogen stores that will be used for energy. Carbohydrates bond with water molecules so they can be stored as fat. Glycogen cannot be stored without water! Therefore the higher the body fat percent the more water is needed so the body has enough water …for carbohydrate storage and to regulate other body functions. How much water? For every gram of stored glycogen ¾ of that is water! This is why initially you lose 5-15lbs starting a weight loss program. Just by exercising the body will use glycogen stores and the water attached to them. This unfortunately does not mean actually stored adipose (fat) was lost, just that glycogen was used.

The opposite of this happens if you carb load. If you ate 500 grams of carbs your body would use 1500-2000 grams of water to store those carbs. This on the scale may be equal to 3-4 pounds gain but in reality the weight is not fat gain and it does not mean carbohydrates equal fat gain. Carbohydrates paired with water simply cause a scale fluctuation and muscle size differences.

How much water? At least a ½oz per body pound. You will need more if you drink anything with caffeine or alcohol.

Sodium and water also play a role in that number you see on the scale. I will do my best to explain this quickly and effectively. Your body has 2 ways it stores water inside the cell and outside the cell. Sodium regulates extracellular fluids or outside the cell fluids. If your sodium is high and water is low the fluid outside the cells will increase and you may feel bloated. If you sodium is too low and water is too high the same will occur especially if you are working out hard and not replacing this electrolyte.

Therefore drink your water. Don’t avoid sodium if you are working out and don’t get frustrated if you lose 5-15lbs and then it stops. Water and carbohydrates can fluctuate the scale a lot within 24 hours so be mindful of what went into your body the last few days before stepping on the scale.


Sep. 30.

Welcome to the Sweet Side

Welcome to the Sweet Side


What is sugar?

Sugars come in the form of carbohydrates. There are two basic categories: complex and simple.

Complex: Have 3 or more sugars linked together. Complex, usually contain fiber and more micronutrients, causing a slower rise in blood sugar levels.

Simple: Have 1 or 2 sugars linked together. They are quickly absorbed in the blood stream and first to be used for energy. They will cause a quicker rise in blood sugar levels.

A list of sugars:










How is sugar used in the body?

Sugar enters the body via the blood stream. Once blood sugar levels rise the pancreas starts to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that communicates to cells to absorb glucose and use it for energy. As cells take in sugar the blood sugar level will drop. This will then signal again to the pancreas to produce glucagon; glucagon communicates to the liver telling it to release stored sugars. This process insures the body is getting adequate energy along with the brain.

Sugar is needed because insulin is needed. Without insulin the body will not use glucose for energy.

The glycemic index indicates how fast various carbohydrates enter the blood stream. The higher the number the faster it enters the blood stream. Fifty-five or below is considered low on the GI index, on behalf of Tour de Pizza we would like to mention how low pizza is on the glycemic index!


Who should watch sugar intake?

Most Americans eat 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, equaling 350 extra calories, by the end of the week that’s 2,450 extra calories!  Sugar intake probably should be monitored by most Americans. Also those with type 2 diabetes, for their bodies either ignore the insulin or don’t produce enough of it. Type 1 diabetes the body does not produce insulin.

If you do not have health concerns where you are recommended to watch your sugar intake, moderation is key. A Few cookies a day or a small cup of ice cream will not hinder your fitness goals.

When is best to indulge?

It makes sense to most to eat sugar in the morning, allowing it to be used all day for energy not causing fat gain. This may actually have the opposite effect.  In the morning you are just waking from a fast, making the body more sensitive to insulin. Whether you eat a donut before bed or at breakfast, glucose and insulin are the same to the body, the only difference is the body may be slightly more sensitive to the insulin in the morning, after fasting through the night.

Pre and post workout are good times to use insulin to help with recovery and performance. Eating a larger amount of glucose pre workout will help fuel you muscles during the workout since blood glucose is readily used for muscle contraction. Sucrose is ideal for it is made of both glucose and fructose. This may be because mixtures of sugars absorb quickly and cause the greatest break down of carbohydrates for energy (oxidation), which will in turn increase performance. Post workout sugars will fill glycogen stores that were burned while training; promoting a faster recovery and avoiding an energy crash after exercise.

Artificial sweeteners and hunger

Without diving too deep into this topic, artificial sugars and natural sugars need to be balanced in ones diet. If the body is too low in sugar it will cause hunger and most times a fat craving causing excess calorie consumption. High carbohydrates diets are less likely to provide excess energy (calories) than those of high fat diets. High carbohydrate diets are also more sustainable over a long period of time.


Too much or too little of anything can be harmful and/or toxic.

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