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Top 10 Benefits of MCT’s

MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides, which is a type of saturated fat. The shorter the chain, the faster the liver can convert the fat into ketones – which is what the body makes when fat is being burned for energy instead of being converted to glucose. You MUST have fat in your diet in order to provide your body with energy!

All fatty acids are strings of carbon and hydrogen molecules. Short-chain have less than 6 carbon molecules, medium-chain have 6-12 carbon molecules, and long-chain have 13-21 carbon molecules.

MCTs are in:

  • MCT oil
  • Coconut oil
  • butter
  • Cheeses
  • palm oil
  • whole milk
  • full-fat yogurt

TOP 10 BENEFITS:

  1. Make you feel full
  2. Raise metabolic function (reducing stored fat)
  3. Provide energy
  4. Clear thinking
  5. Enhance digestion
  6. Balance hormones
  7. Contain antioxidant properties
  8. Transport nutrients
  9. Protect vital organs
  10. Withstand high heat cooking

This is why you may have seen so many people adding MCT oil, or fatty foods like butter to their coffees, which is called bulletproof coffee. Coffee is already stimulant filled with caffeine, and adding in MCT enhances this effect even more. The two of these combined will provide an immediate energy boost, and won’t give you the “post-coffee energy crash” you may feel later on in the day.

Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer contains 9g of coconut milk powder, which is a source of MCTs! This is my favorite way to drink coffee, and I alternate daily between the vanilla & gingerbread flavors!

 

Financial compensation was not received for this post. I am a Vital Proteins Ambassador, and receive product for promotional purposes. This post contains affiliate links meaning I receive compensation if an order is placed after using a link I provided. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.

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5 Ways to Reduce PMS Naturally

Menstrual cycles – the bane of every female’s month. Cramps, bloating, cravings, fatigue, moodiness, breakouts, headaches, you name it, we get it. PMS – premenstrual syndrome – is caused by an imbalance of estrogen & progesterone in the body, and this hormonal change causes a lot of symptoms in varying degrees!

Instead giving in to your cravings of chocolate and salt and trying every anti-inflammatory and pain reliever out there to get a little bit of a break, instead try adding these five things into your daily routine instead*.

  1. Vitamin B6, 200-300mg once or twice a day + a complete B vitamin
  2. Magnesium, 800-1200mg
  3. Calcium, 800-1000mg
  4. Vitamin E, 400-800 IU
  5. Exercise

Why This Works:

Vitamin B6 should be taken with a complete B vitamin as well to avoid any B deficiencies as B6 levels rise. This combination of B vitamins will also reduce mood swings, irritability, sugar cravings, fatigue, and headaches, as well as help flush out any water retention.

Magnesium is at its lowest levels in the body naturally during the menstruation cycle, and supplementing with magnesium will help relieve a lot of PMS symptoms. Magnesium has anti-stress properties, acting as a muscle “tranquilizer” and helps to decrease cramps, irritability, depression, bloating, and fatigue. Ensure that you are supplementing magnesium at 1-1.5 times the amount or you are with calcium! Calcium works together with magnesium in the muscles and nerves, and helps with cramps, irritability and moodiness. It’s imperative to make sure you take both calcium and magnesium together to avoid toxicity and achieve the best results. Magnesium toxicity is almost unheard of, but generally only occurs when calcium levels in the body are too low. Taking both magnesium and calcium at night will also help you sleep!

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, and works throughout the central nervous system. Pain and emotions are transmitted via the nervous system, so supplementing with vitamin E helps protect the neurons, and allow the nervous system to continue to work properly, uninterrupted. This reduces headaches, cramping, moodiness and depression!

Exercise! Exercise is known to release endorphins, which not only enhance your mood, but helps to decrease pain, stress, and bloating. Don’t overdo it, but light, consistent exercise during that time of the month will make a big difference!

These 5 things will all work together to help beat PMS!

*consult with your doctor before starting any supplement regimen

Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Roast & Root Vegetables

This DELICIOUS roast is quick and easy to make, and it cooks itself all day while you are at work! Full of flavor and nutrition, this roast is something I will make again, and again! I couldn’t even remove the roast from the crockpot without it falling apart, it was THAT tender! I ended up shredding it and scooping the meat & veggies out together all out at once.

I didn’t end up having any Whole 30 compliant bone broth in my house, and wasn’t about to go BACK outside in the freezing cold to find some, so I mixed my  Vital Proteins Beef Bone Broth Collagen (which IS Whole 30 approved) with some water instead, and am I ever happy I did! Packed with collagen and protein, it was the perfect way to add the liquid aspect to cook the veggies and roast with some extra health benefits! I will definitely be subbing these crystals a lot more often when I cook.

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Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Roast & Root Vegetables

Recipe adapted from Whole 30 Fast & Easy

Serves 8

Nutrition per serving:

Calories: 293

Carbs: 19.9g

Fat: 13.4g

Protein: 24.2g

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lb. boneless chuck roast
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2-3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. small red potatoes, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 scoop Vital Proteins beef bone broth collagen
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Whole 30 compliant Italian seasoning

Directions:

  1. Wash, peel, and chop all veggies, and place inside slow cooker
  2. Place roast on top of the vegetables, moving some to the side if necessary to make room
  3. Sprinkle minced garlic, bone broth crystals and Italian seasoning over both the roast and vegetables
  4. mix together balsamic vinegar and water, and pour mixture over both the roast and vegetables (add more water if necessary, just under half full on your slow cooker)
  5. Set slow cooker to cook on LOW for 8-10 hours
  6. Remove roast, slice (or shred), serve with the vegetables

 

Financial compensation was not received for this post. I am an Ambassador for Vital Proteins, but purchased this product prior to our contract. This post contains affiliate links meaning I receive compensation if an order is placed after using a link I provided. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash

I decided to start Whole30 for the month of February (plus a couple days, obviously) to help get my diet back on track, and learn a little more about what removing inflammatory foods can do for my endometriosis, migraines, and allergies.

I will do a full post about Whole 30 once I finish the 30 days, but wanted to share some recipes as I go along!

Ensuring I get full nutrition with lots of veggies, I needed a side dish that was delicious, but veggie packed! Insert this 20 minute mash that is absolutely DELICIOUS. Even my veggie-hating BF didn’t mind the cauliflower, because you really just taste the sweet potatoes! This will be a go-to side for the rest of this month, and into the future!

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash

Serves 4

Nutrition per serving:

Calories: 102

Carbs: 7g

Fat: 8g

Protein: 2g

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 c. cauliflower florets
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. ghee
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  1. Peel and dice sweet potatoes into cubes
  2. Prepare cauliflower, breaking away florets from the stem, and cutting them into smaller pieces
  3. Put potatoes, garlic, & cauliflower into a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover
  4. Bring water to a boil
  5. Reduce heat, simmer until vegetables are tender (I use the fork test)
  6. Drain
  7. Mash the vegetables to desired consistency (I mash and then beat)
  8. Stir in ghee, salt, & pepper
  9. Serve

potato mash

 

Protein Energy Balls

It can be really hard to find a snack sometimes that has protein, is filling, and healthy for you! They are quick and easy to make, and you can use any flavor of protein powder you want in them!

Today I used a peanut butter chocolate protein powder, and it just made the flavor so much more peanut butter filled! You can never go wrong with too much peanut butter, at least not in my books.

These energy balls are the perfect grab and go snack!

Protein Energy Balls

Serves 20

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 96

Fat: 4g

Carbs: 12g

Protein: 3g

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 8 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/2 c. vanilla* protein powder
  • 1/2 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp. mini dark chocolate chips

*you can use any type/flavor of protein powder you’d like!

Directions:

  1. Add dates to a food processor and pulse until they form a thick paste. Add in rolled oats and pulse a few more times until just combined
  2. Place date and oat mixture into a bowl
  3. Stir in protein powder and peanut butter. Then add almond milk and stir well to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add an extra splash of almond milk.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips and form mixture into bite-size balls using your hands
  5. Store in a covered container in the fridge or freezer

My Best Body – Home

Immediately following my 13 week My Best Body (gym) experience, I dove immediately into the My Best Body – Home program, another 13 week program created by Abbie. I don’t have the dedication to work out at home, I NEED a gym or I procrastinate by sitting on the couch, so I still used my gym to complete this program, but this isn’t necessary!

My results and overall thoughts are at the end of this post, but here’s what you need to know first.

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What is My Best Body – Home?

My Best Body – Home was created by Abbie Sterling, and is a 13 week home workout program that incorporates three stages of training: stabilization & base training, strength training (hypertrophy) and power training. This program was designed to help its users learn how to lift weights safely at home, build muscle and burn fat effectively with minimal equipment, strengthen the core, improve cardiovascular conditioning, and enhance mobility & flexibility.

This is the ideal program for both beginner and advanced clients looking for a strength-training program requiring minimal equipment and space.

Who is Abbie?

Abbie Sterling is a NASM certified personal trainer in Orlando, Florida, who works as a Personal Trainer at Anytime Fitness Windermere. You can find her on Instagram: @corporate_sneakers to see tons of (FREE) helpful videos, workout tips, with some of her personal life mixed in. Her latest posts are straight-forward videos with full written explanations on simple movements, designed to help ANYBODY learn how to do them properly and really maximize their training. One of my favorite things about Abbie is how genuinely inspiring she is, while remaining REAL. She doesn’t sugar coat or hide her bad days or struggles, and still posts her accomplishments without photoshop, slow-motion videography, a face full of makeup, hair done professionally or using a professional photographer. She shot the photos for this guide in her garage! This girl is as normal as you and me, and one of the most caring people I know. She consciously makes an effort to help every single person who reaches out to her to help them attain their best body, safely & effectively, with correct form!. She still likes to go out and have some beers with her boyfriend, eat delicious carby food, but still works her butt off in the gym. She believes in balanced, sustainable training, and understands the importance of not overtraining, and fueling your body rather than starving it.

Why do You Trust Her to Design a Program?

Abbie not only is a certified NASM personal trainer, she works in a gym teaching group fitness classes, and provides one-on-one training to a growing client base. She ensured that this weight program would be both effective and safe by first testing it herself and then having 10 trial participants test it before it was officially released.

She tells you on the introduction of this guide that it is not a “get abs quick”, “lose 100lbs in 13 weeks” or “earn a front-page-worthy body” program, and it’s not – it is not only about becoming physically stronger, it’s about finding your best self inside of you as well.

She took the necessary time to make it perfect, rather than slapping something together just to get a product on the market, and I assure you, the wait was worth it! Over-training and injuries are something that she personally experienced (read her blog about over-training here), so she spent a lot of time creating a program that would avoid these types of problems, while also avoiding boredom by ensuring each workout is unique and challenging.

She also is incredibly active on her Instagram (especially when you consider how busy this girl is with her classes, clients, and running her own business), posting a ton of videos to help with form, stretches, tips to understand the movements in order to do them correctly, and is amazing at answering questions. Abbie will always answer comments or DM’s! It may not be an instant response, but I don’t know a lot of trainers who offer this kind of support at all unless you are one-on-one training with them. Her page is now focusing on “Less Selfie, More Substance” and she has been providing incredible, thorough, and easy to follow videos on simple – complex movements, along with amazing training tips!

Abbie focuses on form over speed, quality over quantity, and offers progressions and regressions for most exercises so that the program is customizable for your own level. It is not a cookie cutter program, and one which she poured a ton of research, science, and her NASM education into in order to allow each person who purchases this guide and follows it to develop their best body.

I also have experienced first-hand her training style by completing My Best Body (gym), and you can read all about my experience and see my results here.

What Are These 3 Phases in the Program?

Phase ONE: Stabilization & Base Training- 4 weeks
  • focusing on balance, coordination, and muscle endurance
  • low weight, high rep exercises
  • alternating reps and unilateral exercises
  • identification of muscle imbalances
  • heart rate tracking should remain in the lower zones
  • significantly fewer calories burnt than other high intensity workout programs
  • 45-60 minute workouts
  • cardio is already built into the program, no additional cardio days necessary
  • form over speed

For anybody who was hesitant to try Abbie’s MBB (gym) program due to the lack of cardio, MBB – Home has a lot more of it. Beginning in week 1, you test your 1 mile time, and cardio is built into every week.

If you previously worked out in a gym, and use a lot of machines and are unsure of how well a home program would work in comparison – give one of her core workouts a try. Beginning in phase 1, she will make every muscle in your body hurt for days. You don’t need machines or a gym membership to get fit, and this realization will happen week 1. It’s extremely important not to skip this first phase – learning and solidifying your base are key to successfully getting stronger and increasing weights later on in the program. I’ve found that after working on these stabilization exercises I am able to correctly activate the specific muscles in each movement. This phase is also key to correcting muscle imbalances! I never thought I would like that exercise ball, but it has made such a difference in my day-to-day fitness routine.

Rehabilitation days are definitely necessary as often as prescribed (if not more) – even though you aren’t using machines, the burn is very much still there!

mbbhome1
Phase 1, Week 1 Workout Split
Phase TWO: Strength Training – 5 weeks
  • focuses on building muscle
  • lower rep, higher weight exercises
  • heart rate tracking should remain in the lower zones
  • 45-60 minute workouts
  • concentric, isometric, and eccentric movements
  • new set types and interval training
  • form over speed

I love strength training – it is easily my favorite phase! This is also known as hypertrophy and is when you actually get to build those muscles! Each week added new, different exercises, which continue to challenge both my body and mind, but I never groaned about any of these workouts (like I do when it comes to anything involving the exercise ball).

These workouts take longer than phase 1, but form is so important, do not rush! Supersets, interval training, and circuit training are all utilized during this phase, and so are resistance bands! I didn’t realize until I worked through these movements how easy it is to adapt exercises with a resistance band and still feel a burn! These workouts are tough, but so rewarding. Hypertrophy will always remain my favorite.

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Phase 2, Week 5 Workout Split

Phase THREE: Power Training – 4 weeks

  • burning fat, fat loss, toning, but maintaining the muscles built the past 9 weeks
  • superset high rep, low weight exercises with plyometrics
  • introduction of high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • heart rate tracking should be in the upper zones
  • higher calories burnt than in previous stages
  • shorter workouts than phase 1&2, meaning work HARDER for a shorter period of time
  • mentally challenging

Power training is hard. Really hard. After 5 weeks of hypertrophy, low reps and high weights, moving to workouts with high reps and low weights, as well as incorporating some plyometric movements, fast paced AMRAP’s (As Many Rounds As Possible), EMOM’s (Every Minute On the Minute) with no rests, and HIIT, it was a whole new level of sweat.

This is the time when you really test your heart rate, because it is going to pump HARD through these workouts! The challenges (leg and arm/core) in this phase really allow you to track how much you improve over the course of 2 weeks with this type of training! You will finish every one of these workouts hot, sweaty, and out of breath, but this is really the time to push yourself and burn off some fat to let your muscles shine!

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Phase 3, Week 10 Workout Split

Did Your Test Results Actually Improve?

Yes! I’ll admit my quarter-mile times didn’t change much, and the first of the two during week 5 was actually slower, but I was also having an off morning! Stuff happens! Overall, I got faster, stronger, and am super pleased with my results. I pushed myself as hard as I could during each of these attempts, but you can clearly see that my stamina, endurance, and abilities improved in the two weeks between challenges just by looking at the improvements in time!

TESTS

Week 1 Week 5 Week 9 Week 13

Push-Up

21 knee

7 toe, 20 knee

15 toe, 19 knee

 15 toe, 23 knee
Butterfly Sit-Up 20 25

25

 27

DISTANCE

Week 2 Week 5 (1)

Week 5 (2)

.25-Mile

2:44 3:00

2:42

DISTANCE

Week 3 Week 7

.5-Mile

6:27

5:13

DISTANCE

Week 1 Week 4 Week 8 Week 13
1-Mile 14.72 13:19

11:07

 10:36

CHALLENGE

Week 10/11

Week 12/13

Arms + Core

22:42

20:38

Leg

31:57

 22:10

What’s the Cost & What Do I Get if I Buy This Program?

My Best Body – Home is available for purchase for a one-time fee of $99.99USD. This payment gives you a lifetime access to:

  • 13 weeks of unique, gym-based workouts
  • Instructional photos demonstrating each exercise
  • 4-5 workouts a week (45-60 min. each)
    • 74 workouts, 17 tests, and 4 challenges in total if you complete all optional workouts
  • Suggested warm-ups with every workout
  • Detailed guidance for each style of training
  • 13 weeks of pep talks from Abbie with post prompts to get you thinking about your journey and help set you up for long-term success
  • Alternatives/progressions/regressions for all exercises
  • My Best Body – Home Resource guide, a 146 page intensive exercise guide which it is filled with:
    • complete text exercise library, for every movement in My Best Body – Home
    • exercise term glossary
    • complete breakdown of proper, correct, and safe form for all movements
    • Core, hip hinge, hollow body, bracing, presses, push-up & squat progressions & regressions
    • full-body rehabilitation sequence to improve shoulder, hip and ankle range of motion and improve flexibility in muscles throughout your body
    • explanation of static & dynamic stretches and how to do them
    • an entire chapter explaining heart rates and monitoring them
    • printable record card to log the rep & cardio tests, and the timed challenges
quick hop
One of the many exercise explanations available in the Resource Guide
timed challenge
Sample of the record card to log challenge times, available in the Resource Guide

Do I Need a Gym Membership?

NOPE! This program was designed specifically to be done at home with minimal equipment!

What Equipment Do I Need?

  • dumbbells – Abbie suggests having a few sets in different weights
  • exercise mat
  • exercise ball
  • mini resistance bands
  • sturdy box, workout bench, or jump box
  • jump rope
  • interval timer
  • foam roller
  • lacrosse ball

You can get a lot of this equipment off Amazon, and even though I am doing this program at the gym and didn’t need to buy my own equipment, I helped a friend order hers. I suggested these resistance bands (I have the same ones), this exercise ball, and this bench.

I  already own a foam roller, skipping rope, and exercise mat, but they are easily found. You can also go to Walmart, Target, Canadian Tire, etc. and pick any of this required equipment in the fitness section. You don’t need to spend a ton of money, just get quality stuff that won’t fall apart!

*OPTIONAL equipment:

  • barbell
  • kettlebell

*these items are by no means necessary, but as you advance you may want to invest in some! I personally own a 20lb kettlebell at home, and 5lb and 8lb dumbbells, with the plan to continue to grow my home collection!

Still Not Sure?

Good news! Abbie provides a FREE, yes free, 3 week trial program of BOTH her MBB programs! This gives you a sample week of each phase, so that you can test out the program and understand how it’s set up, while still getting in some amazing workouts at no cost or commitment from you.

She has both the MBB Gym trial, and MBB Home trial available for download on her website.

My Results

Start
End of Phase 3 (13 weeks)
Day 1 vs. Day 91

I loved this program! I was a little unsure about taking on a home program, especially when I still wanted to continue using the gym, but it was perfect. My goals entering MBB Home were to continue to maintain muscle strength, but to focus more on leaning out, and this was the perfect program for just that!

Abbie created a challenging, but fun, program that ANYBODY can do. No gym membership, little equipment, a small space of floor, and somewhere outside to run are needed to do this one! The workouts varied every single day, and every single week, and kept my body guessing the entire time – which is key to keeping your from body adapting to the work you are doing. If you continue to make it guess, it will continue to change.

I will definitely be doing this full program again! I cannot get enough of Abbie’s programs, and truly value the amount of work, thought, and care she has put into them. The results? Well, they speak for themselves.

So…What’s Next?

I am feeling really confident at the gym and in my abilities now, but I still want to have structure. I’ve decided to combine the two MBB programs into one, and will be doing that for the next 13 weeks! I will be using the core & cardio workouts from My Best Body – Home, and the rest from My Best Body (gym). I also really miss swimming, so once a week I am going to do my cardio session in the pool!

I intend to do some actual running this year and register in some races, so an increase in cardio now while it’s snowy and I can’t get outside to improve my conditioning is idea. The MBB – Home core workouts are phenomenal and impact all aspects of my training so I can’t wait to continue doing them! I miss using machines and heavy weights, so I’m also excited to get back to that. I think this is the perfect next step for me, as my long-term goals are to continue to lean out, but improve my strength and endurance.

Christmas Baking, part 1

I’ve always liked baking, there’s something about a homemade cookie that is just so much better than anything you can buy! I don’t bake a lot during the year, but once the Christmas season comes around, I tend to go a little crazy with the baked goods, making more than enough to share with my friends and family.

These recipes are by no means healthy…they’re filled with sugar, but they ARE delicious, and frankly, that’s what matters! Moderation is key when it comes to sweet treats, but there’s no reason not to enjoy them!

chocolate-chip.jpg

 

Jello Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • this is my Mom’s recipe, and has been a fan favorite for years. The jello pudding keeps the cookies light and fluffy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 (3.5oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. chocolate chips/m&m’s/nuts, etc.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Cream together butter and sugars
  3. Add in pudding mix, vanilla, and eggs
  4. Mix together flour and baking soda, and slowly add to the creamed mixture
  5. Fold in chocolate chips
  6. Form into balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or lightly browned

oreo truffles

Oreo Truffles

  • this is a Kraft recipe I have made the past five years! It’s simple, fast, and only requires 3 ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • 36 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
  • 1 pkg. (8oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 pkg semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces

Directions:

  1. In a food processor/blender, blend the oreo cookies until they are a fine dust
  2. Reserve 1/4 c. of the cookies
  3. Mix together the cream cheese and remaining cookie crumbs
  4. Form cookie mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a lined baking sheet
  5. Freeze for 10 minutes
  6. Melt chocolate using a double broiler
  7. Dip cream cheese balls into the chocolate, and place back onto the lined baking sheet
  8. Sprinkle the tops with the reserved cookie crumbs
  9. Refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm

brittle.jpg

Popcorn Peanut Brittle

  • this is great because it’s sweet & salty, and only needs a microwave!

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • ½ c. corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 4 c. popped popcorn
  • 1 c. roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. mini m&m’s

Directions:

  1. Stir together sugar and corn syrup in a large bowl
  2. Microwave for 1 minute
  3. Stir in butter, popcorn, and peanuts
  4. Microwave for 3-5 minutes, or until sugar begins to caramelize
  5. Stir in baking soda, vanilla, and m&m’s
  6. Pour onto a greased baking sheet
  7. Let cool completely
  8. Break apart and serve

thumbprints

Chocolate Blossoms

  • rich, chocolate, and the kiss in the middle melts just enough to make it even more delicious

Ingredients:

  • ½ c. butter
  • ½ c. sugar
  • ½ c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp, baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 30 Hershey’s kisses (unwrapped)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and set aside
  3. Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy
  4. Mix in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and beat until smooth
  5. Add the dry ingredients slowly until combined
  6. Mix in the milk until smooth
  7. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, then roll in the 1/4 c. sugar
  8. Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet
  9. Bake for 10 minutes
  10. Immediately remove cookies from baking sheet onto a cooling rack, and let cool for 6 minutes
  11. Gently press cookies into the top and let cool completely

My Best Body

As soon as I had doctor’s clearance to resume exercise following my surgery this year, it was an easy decision on what program to use to get back in the gym and back in shape; My Best Body. I have actually attempted this program three times before, but due to my health problems, I wasn’t ever able to move past week 3. This time though, I was able to successfully complete ALL 13 weeks, without ever missing a workout. My results and overall thoughts are at the end of this post, but first the skinny about this amazing program and its creator!

MBB11

What is My Best Body?

My Best Body (gym) was created by Abbie Sterling, and is a 13 week holistic strength-training program that incorporates three stages of training: stabilization/muscle endurance, hypertrophy and power training.

Who is Abbie?

Abbie Sterling is a NASM certified personal trainer in Orlando, Florida, who works as a Personal Trainer at Anytime Fitness Windermere. You can find her on Instagram: @corporate_sneakers to see tons of (FREE) helpful videos, workout tips, adorable pictures of her wiener dog Loki, and just an overall inspiring account. One of my favorite things about Abbie is how genuinely inspiring she is, while remaining REAL. She doesn’t sugar coat or hide her bad days or struggles, and still posts her accomplishments without a ton of photoshop or a professional photographer. She shoots the photos for her home guide in her garage. This girl is as normal as you and me. She still likes to go out and have some beers with her boyfriend, eat delicious carby food, but still works her butt off in the gym. She believes in balanced, sustainable training, and understands the importance of not overtraining, and fueling your body rather than starving it.

Why do You Trust Her to Design a Program?

Abbie not only is a certified NASM personal trainer, she works in a gym teaching group fitness classes, and provides one-on-one training to a growing client base. She ensured that this weight program would be both effective and safe by first testing it herself and then having 10 trial participants test it before it was officially released.

She tells you on the introduction of this guide that it is not a “get abs quick”, “lose 100lbs in 13 weeks” or “earn a front-page-worthy body” program, and it’s not – it is not only about becoming physically stronger, it’s about finding your best self inside of you as well.

She took the necessary time to make it perfect, rather than slapping something together just to get a product on the market, and I assure you, the wait was worth it! Overtraining and injuries are something that she personally experienced (read her blog about overtraining here), so she spent a lot of time creating a program that would avoid these types of problems, while also avoiding boredom by ensuring each workout is unique and challenging.

She also is incredibly active on her Instagram (especially when you consider how busy this girl is with her classes, clients, and running her own business), posting a ton of videos to help with form, stretches, tips to understand the movements in order to do them correctly, and is amazing at answering questions. I’m fortunate that Abbie and I have become friends this year and I can just text her really quickly if I need to ask something (which isn’t often because she has made the guide so clear, I think I SOS’d her once and if I had read her resource guide properly I wouldn’t have needed to), but I know from previous experience that she will always answer comments or DM’s! It may not be an instant response, but I don’t know a lot of trainers who offer this kind of support at all unless you are one-on-one training with them.

Abbie focuses on form over speed, quality over quantity, and offers progressions and regressions for most exercises so that the program is customizable for your own level. It is not a cookie cutter program, and one which she poured a ton of research, science, and her NASM education into in order to allow each person who purchases this guide and follows it to develop their best body.

What Are These 3 Phases in the Program?

Phase ONE: Stabilization & Strength Endurance – 3 weeks
  • focusing on balance, coordination, increasing stabilization muscle strength, and muscle endurance
  • low weight, high rep exercises
  • heart rate tracking should remain in the lower zones
  • significantly fewer calories burnt than other high intensity workout programs
  • 45-60 minute workouts
  • NO CARDIO – this means all the food you eat goes towards building muscles and not being burnt away
    • a lot of people find the lack of cardio frightening and impossible, especially if they are transitioning from cardio based programs…TRUST the plan, because you run your BUTT off later in the program
  • form over speed

The exercise ball is utilized constantly these three weeks – I developed a major love/hate relationship with this thing, because it makes everything SO much harder, but it really helped with my balance later on in the program. There is a lot of emphasis on the core, and since my surgery involved a lot of work in my abdomen, I definitely found these challenging, but so necessary! The core is something that is needed for all movements, both in exercise and day-to-day movements, so this phase of the program really helped me not only ease back into exercise, it made a huge difference in obtaining back some of the core strength that I had lost.

The first two weeks also only have 4 workout days scheduled, allowing the body 3 rest days in order to adjust back into a fitness routine, and I definitely needed it since I was working entirely new muscle groups in a much more efficient manner after a long break, so the muscle soreness was intense! Foam rollers and stretching are definitely necessary on these rest days.

phase one sample
Phase 1, Week 1 Workout Split
Phase TWO: Hypertrophy – 5 weeks
  • increasing lean body mass with muscle, allowing the body to better metabolize food and increasing the number of calories your body burns in a day
  • low rep, higher weight exercises
  • heart rate tracking should remain in the lower zones
  • significantly fewer calories burnt than other high intensity workout programs
  • ~60 minute workouts
  • NO CARDIO until week 7, then medium intensity cardio for 2 weeks
  • concentric, isometric, and eccentric movements
  • 1 Rep Max (1RM) tests in weeks 4 and 8
  • form over speed

Each week I found I was able to increase my weights a little more than the last, there was always at least one exercise I had never done before, and the workouts never repeat themselves! 4-5 workouts a day for 5 weeks, and never repeating them ensured I was never bored and always challenged. I REALLY enjoyed this phase, pushing my limits, and learning my body’s capabilities.

Abbie also incorporates plenty of pull-up and chin-up progressions throughout these weeks, and I love that I am able to work on one of my goals throughout her program.

I have a very low resting heart rate, meaning burning a lot of calories for me is extremely difficult, but knowing that it wasn’t the focus of this type of training really helped me to focus solely on form, timing, and gradually increasing the weights I was able to use.

phase 2 sample
Phase 2, Week 5 Workout Split
 Phase THREE: Power Training – 5 weeks
  • burning fat, fat loss, toning, but maintaining the muscles built the past 8 weeks
  • high rep, low weight exercises
  • heart rate tracking should be in the upper zones
  • higher calories burnt than in previous stages
  • shorter workouts than phase 1&2, meaning work HARDER for a shorter period of time
  • sprints, circuit training, plyometrics, HIIT, cardio-based
  • timed Athlete Challenge in weeks 11 and 13
  • mentally challenging

Power training is hard. Really hard. After 5 weeks of hypertrophy, low reps and high weights, moving to workouts with high reps and low weights, as well as incorporating some plyometric movements, fast paced AMRAP’s (As Many Rounds As Possible) with no rests, and a lot more cardio, it was a whole new level of sweat.

I continued to do my workouts after work, but I made sure to not eat a heavy snack beforehand – jumping around or running made my stomach really unhappy if ate too much/too close to my workout time. Others recommend you do this phase in the morning on an empty stomach, but the timing just doesn’t work for me to be able to do this. I did however make sure I did the Athlete Challenges and any longer cardio on the weekends so that it could be the first thing I did in the morning.

This phase is not only physically challenging, but mentally challenging too. These aren’t easy workouts. They are definitely shorter than the first two phases, but you work harder during this time because the breaks are few and far between, whereas in phase 2 you would break between each set. I do love the AMRAP style of workout though, and was able to learn how to properly pace myself throughout the weeks in order to maximize my workout efficiency.

As much as I prefer bulking and hypertrophy, this stage is pivotal for fat loss, and Abbie has ensured she set it up so that you do not lose all the muscle gains you achieved in the first two phases.

phase 3 sample
Phase 3, Week 10 Workout Split

Hang on a second, 1RM Tests? Athlete Challenges? Did You Really Get Stronger/Faster?

I definitely did! The results below should speak for themselves. Abbie recommends you use a spotter for 1RM tests, but I often didn’t have this option so I either used the smith machine (which I could quickly lock into if it was too heavy) and always slowly built up to my new 1RM by increasing the weights 5-10lbs at a time.

The jump rope challenge and athlete challenge are extremely difficult, but so rewarding to see how much you can improve using her training style. I pushed myself as hard as I could during each of these attemps, but you can clearly see that my stamina, endurance, and abilities improved in the two weeks between challenges just by looking at the improvements in time!

1RM Exercise

Week 4

Week 8

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

70 lbs

90 lbs

Wide Stance Barbell Squat

135 lbs

 175 lbs
Sumo Deadlift  60 lbs  115 lbs
Medium Grip Bench Press  60 lbs  95 lbs

Challenge

Week 10/11

Week 12/13

Jump Rope Challenge  30.43  25.55
Athlete Challenge  18.34  16.35

What’s the Cost & What Do I Get if I Buy This Program?

My Best Body (gym) is available for purchase for a one-time fee of $79.99USD. This payment gives you a lifetime access to:

  • 13 weeks of unique, gym-based workouts
  • Instructional photos demonstrating each exercise
  • 4-5 workouts a week (45-60 min. each)
    • 59 workouts in total if you complete all optional workouts
  • Suggested warm-ups with every workout
  • Detailed guidance for each style of training
  • 13 weeks of pep talks from Abbie with post prompts to get you thinking about your journey and help set you up for long-term success
  • An extensive section on heart rate and heart rate monitors
  • Alternatives/progressions/regressions for many exercises
  • My Best Body Resource guide, a 68 page intensive exercise guide which has negated the need for me to ever YouTube an exercise again, as it is filled with:
    • complete text exercise library, for every movement in My Best Body
    • printable daily workout trackers to log all the weights and track progressions
resourceguide1
One of the many exercise explanations available in the Resource Guide

jot it down
Daily Workout Tracker Sample, available in the Resource Guide
As an accountant, you just KNOW I did the math on this. 59 workouts at $79.99 works out to $1.36USD/workout. As a Canadian, at our foreign exchange rate, the cost of her guide is approximately $98.00. This is still only $1.66CAD/workout. I can’t even buy a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee for that price, and I get a full and complete exercise guide, photo instruction, written instruction, a resource guide, and Abbie’s constant support/advice/guidance via social media and email, warm ups, heart rate monitor information, helpful videos and tips, and the ability to actually lift weights safely and effectively, progressing naturally into heavier movements.

I need to pay for a gym membership on top of this, but for my Anytime Fitness membership I pay $39.99/month. For $72/month I am all in on my fitness needs, and as I use the guide more and more, the cost per month for the guide itself decreases since it’s not a recurring fee (think about your return on investment for the nerdy types like me). For someone like me who requires structure, but not the commitment to a personal trainer (who can cost up to $50/half hour), this is definitely exceptional bang for your buck, plus My Best Body is safe, effective, and challenging.

Do I Really Need a Gym Membership?

Yes; this program very specifically requires a gym membership due to the amount of machines needed, cable exercises, and varied weight ranges as you progress through the program. This guide is priced to reflect this additional cost though, and is well worth the investment. If you really don’t want to join a gym, or even work out in a gym, Abbie is releasing My Best Body – Home on October 30, 2017, which can all be done at home with a few pieces of basic equipment.

Still Not Sure?

Good news! Abbie provides a FREE, yes free, 3 week trial program of MBB! This gives you a sample week of each phase, so that you can test out the program and understand how it’s set up, while still getting in some amazing workouts at no cost or commitment from you.

She has both the MBB Gym trial, and MBB Home trial available for download on her website.

My Results

Start
End of Phase 1 (3 weeks)
End of Phase 2 (8 weeks)
End of Phase 3 (13 weeks)
Day 1 vs. Day 91

 Overall Consensus

LOVE this program. Not only am I now confident in the gym, using all the machines, and don’t even think twice when I am the only girl in the gym surrounded by guys, I attained strength, muscles, and did this all without a single injury, unlike my previous workout program I followed where my knees and hips became a constant source of pain and required a lot of physiotherapy visits, which inevitably didn’t solve the problem since it was due to the training style I was following.

Unlike that plyometric, high-intensity, joint-injuring and muscle imbalance creating program which focused solely on speed and identical AMRAP style training and repeating the same workouts every other week which was boring and painful, MBB is stabilization, strength, and power training, cardio conditioning, weights, machines, and a variety of training methods from horizontal loading, to supersets, to trisets, to EMOM’s, HIITs, and AMRAPS. The workouts are never the same style or same movements, which keeps your body guessing, and your muscles growing. Not one single workout out of 59 is the same, and they are designed to create maximum body strength without injury or overtraining.

Cost-friendly, fun, challenging, and discovering strength I didn’t know I had? This is a program I will do again and again.

Interested in another opinion? Check out Jordanna’s MBB review here.

So…What’s Next?

Now it’s time to do My Best Body – Home! I will however be doing this in the gym instead of at home, since I am not one of those dedicated people who can actually work out at home. I need the structure of a gym, where I have no distractions like pets or television. Abbie created such an amazing program, that I can’t wait to dive right back into another beginning October 30, 2017! Time for another 13 weeks of heart pumping, muscle building, death by Abbie.

 

 

weak

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