Fivex3 Training - A Starting Strength Gym | Fivex3 Training - A Starting Strength Gym Sun, 16 Aug 2015 22:37:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Client Profile of the Month: Meet Anna O. and A Tale of Two Weddings…and One Wedding Dress Mon, 13 Jul 2015 14:49:14 +0000 Read More]]> Anna has been a client of Fivex3 Training for the past two years. She came to us to get stronger and stay active. Over the two years that I have known her, we would talk sporadically about her eating but  when she was at the gym, we were always focused on her training. She competed in her first powerlifting meet last year, was training hard and looking strong. Then she started traveling a lot more for work, got engaged last year and started  traveling even more as her fiancee lived and worked in Rochester, NY.  She recently got married on Valentine’s Day of this year in Hawaii with her immediate family only and then again the end of May, in Boston with all of her friends and extended family. 😉 She bought her wedding dress in March of 2014 and had her first fitting the end of November of 2014. When she tried to put it on, it didn’t fit. The engagement, traveling and eating out had finally caught up to her and she had 8 weeks until the next fitting.

She contacted me from the fitting and….well, I don’t want to spoil her story. 😉

Here it is.


I have always struggled with my weight. Always. From when I was a kid who didn’t want to shovel food into her mouth out of rebellion to the chunky girl in the tutu, I’ve had it with food and my body. For most of my late twenties and through my thirties, it was always smaller for me, constantly calculating the number of carbs and slyly feeling delight on fitting into size 0s, 2s and 4s. But I also had a grave dread. When I was happiest, I ate. I always lived in fear of going up a size or two on my jeans and sometimes wore my skinny jeans when I was larger (and happier) to restrain my eating.

During this time, I was physically active. Mini triathlons, horseback riding. Rowing with a crew team. I was active, and I loved it. It was a big part of making me a whole and balanced person.

Two years ago, I relocated to Baltimore from Boston and joined Fivex3 Training. I was hooked immediately. Strength training replaced the running, the horseback riding and the rowing. I felt better. I looked better. I even competed in my first powerlifting meet last year. Squatting, pressing, deadlifting and benching gave me strength, confidence and boosted my self-image and self-esteem. I felt great. My eating was pretty structured. I lead a disciplined life: working out, eating healthy during the week and eating fairly simply on the weekends with I went back to Boston. 


June 2014 – I am wearing the Harley Davidson t-shirt. ;)

Before I continue, let me disclose ONE more thing about me. I eat out in restaurants A LOT for work, with friends, and when I travel. This, I discovered after meeting with Emily, was going to be my “limiting factor.”


Traveling with friends.

When I met my boyfriend, now husband, in my late thirties, eating commenced. I was happy. I broke out of my healthy, disciplined eating routine and fell into “happy” bouts of eating, drinking and more eating in restaurants, clubs and parties.

Eating, drinking, and more eating. Thankfully (for my waistline), we got engaged quickly and I started the wedding planning process, trying on wedding dresses, signing up for a account. You know, the usual. Life was good.

In March of 2014, I found a gorgeous dress that was stunning and had a price tag to match. Not having a firm wedding date, I ordered it and went about my engaged life. During this time, my fiancée and I were happy. Happy and hungry. Needless to say I gained weight. 15 pounds to be exact.


November 2014

In November of 2014, we set a wedding date for Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, in Hawaii. I knew I was getting bigger. Let’s be honest. When your clothes are tighter, you start to question if that’s really how you look in photos. My lifting belt was also starting to suffocate me. ;( And Emily had also dropped a couple hints that she would really like to work with me on eating and food.  (Emily: Maybe just a few hints. I could tell that Anna was not feeling her best and encouraged her to set up a time to meet with me so we could discuss her nutrition.)

My moment in the mirror happened a few days before Thanksgiving. I went to the bridal salon to try on my dress. I knew that I wasn’t going to be pleasant, and I knew deep down that my number was up. Gulp. It was time to face the music.

I put the dress on. Or rather, I tried to put the dress on. ;( No go. The wedding dress was so tight that I couldn’t even get on past my hips. I looked like a sausage. “Don’t worry,” said the bridal consultants, “50% of the time bride’s gain weight and we are equipped to work with this.” Out came the seamstress. There I was, a white fluff ball stuffed in a dress. But I did have a veil on, so maybe the reality could be hidden.

“Take off the veil. I need to see what I’m working with,” sneered the seamstress. With a sharp intake of breath, she slowly walked around me, poking my butt to feel the tightness of the cloth. She looked up at me directly in the eyes. “I’m going to be honest with you,” she snapped. “Lose the weight or buy a new dress.” BOOM. I asked her about letting out the material but there weren’t any seams. The dress was literally a glove. Knowing the truth in the situation, I asked her how many inches I needed to lose. Two on my bust, two on my waist and two on my hips. My next dress fitting was the end of January, 8 weeks away. Six inches in 8 weeks. As I left the salon, the seamstress handed me the measurements I needed to hit on a sticky. “Lose the inches,” she said as she sauntered away.

Quelling panic, I called Emily from the salon. I was immediately tempted to do something crazy like a crash diet or some kind of juice cleanse and lots of hours on the bike at the gym….but I knew that wasn’t the way. Emily was calm and collected. “Anna, you can do this,” she reassured me. We have 8 weeks. No problem.” I set up a time to meet with her when I returned and we would get started on cleaning up my eating habits. I was ready.

I met Emily at her house for our initial meeting on November 22, and the very first thing she did when I got there was show me her fridge.




Emily’s fully stocked fridge.











It was jam packed with food. Eggs, pre-cut vegetables, water, fruit, Greek yogurt, egg whites, cottage cheese……while mine looked like a waste land


My sad fridge. ;(

“Anna, You need to have a fully stocked fridge,” Emily said. “This way you are not tempted to simply call out for delivery when you get home after a long day.” She explained to me that I needed to fill my refrigerator with food so that I could have plenty of meals available. Emily told me that one of her tricks was to prepare foods before they’re needed, like chopping veggies and storing them in Tupperware or pre-grilling her burgers or chicken. This way, when you’re hungry, you can quickly throw together a lunch or dinner because all of your food has been prepared ahead of time. This, I thought, I could do!

Pre-cut vegetables.

Pre-cut vegetables.

She then showed me how my plate of food should look with portions of protein, veggies, starches and fats. It was a version of the MyPlate that the USDA had put out in 2011 that Precision Nutrition had adapted to fit their ideas of what a healthy plate should look like. It was a very simple diagram, and I took a photo of it with my phone to use as a guide whenever I ate out but also when I ate at home. It was so easy, and I used it A LOT in the first few days.

PN Plate

Precision Nutrition Plate



The PN plate.








“First habit Anna,” Emily stated. “Eat until you are 80% full.” Since eating was so social for me (remember my limiting factor?), I didn’t really pay that close attention to when I was full or not. I was always too busy talking and socializing. And eating. But knew that I could be attuned with my body as I had been athletic from childhood, and I certainly was motivated now.

And when I thought about it, my go to meal could still be something I enjoyed, like a chicken Caesar salad with the dressing on the side with double the chicken and no croutons. This greatly simplified my life as most places can make this. And I wouldn’t be giving up my social time as I could eat a chicken Caesar salad while others ate what they wished.

“And alcohol Anna.” Yes, I know, social drinking is also a significant caloric doosey. 😉 I did like to have wine and a cocktail every once in a while but for now I could resist the urge. “I don’t mean give it up completely,” Emily said to me when I kind of sighed. “I mean just watch how often you are drinking. Save it for a special night. You will find you start to miss it less and less.”

Before I left our meeting, Emily gave me a tracking chart. I was to mark whether or not I was successful with each meal based on a specific task – eating vegetables, drinking water or some other non-caloric drink. This chart held me accountable to myself. And I certainly did not want to let myself or Emily down.

After I left Emily’s house, I ran to the grocery store, stocked my empty fridge with vegetables and fruit, eggs and Greek yogurt. I made my dinner for that night, sent her a photo, received feedback on how to improve, followed her instructions to a “T” and began to see results.


Happy fridge after our meeting!!


Dinner. (Missing protein, I know. I soon learned that I needed more!)

Before I continue, I want to make it very clear that Emily did not hand me a food plan. She never told me what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat. She simply talked to me about habits. Eating until 80% full. Eating more vegetables. Drinking water or non-caloric beverages. Eating slowly. Being mindful of what I was eating, how I was eating and why I was eating. She suggested certain foods but never told me to eat brussel sprouts unless I liked them. “Don’t eat foods you hate,” she said. “Figure out what vegetables you do like and eat them. Try new things but don’t get stuck on eating foods you really don’t like. I don’t like lima beans,” she told me. “So I don’t eat them.” Knowing this helped tremendously. I did not feel pressure to eat certain foods. I made meals that suited me.

The first few days were hard. My body was adjusting to its new caloric intake, and I was hungry but not painfully so when I went to bed. Emily had reminded me that it was okay to be hungry. Many of us don’t want to be hungry but it is OKAY. Our metabolism won’t “shut down.” We won’t go into a catatonic state. The body will adjust. And adjust it did. My energy ranged during workouts, and I discovered that I just needed to really listen to my body as my source of fuel had changed. I had so much motivation to achieve my goal that I powered through these changes and came out on top.

Four weeks after our first meeting, I met with Emily again. My body was losing inches and my energy was variable. “I have been really light headed,” I told her. “Next habit,” Emily said, “is making sure you are having protein at every meal. How much protein are you getting?” Uh, I thought I was. Emily asked me how many grams of proteins I was having and I told her, I think it’s enough. At least, I thought I was having enough. However when I actually went back and counted my protein, I was only consuming half the amount of protein that I needed! According to the sources, women who strength training regularly should consume about 1 gram per pound or in other words, for a 150 pound woman, that is 150 grams of protein. No wonder I was light headed and hungry! “Protein is important, Anna, because it keeps you satiated longer as well as helps with building muscle. Eat more protein and you will not feel as hungry.” This was quickly solved by eating Greek yogurt in the mornings and replacing my tofu meals with animal protein when I could. After upping my protein, my energy stabilized. It was definitely something that I needed to be aware of when lifting heavy.


Skyr….and a little whey protein powder for a protein yogurt snack

The inches were quickly melting off. I was feeling awesome. My workouts still consisted of squats, benching, pressing, power cleans or dead lifts every session. I did have variability day to day on the amount that I could lift, but for the most part, I lifted exactly the same during the new eating regime as I did before. Emily was quite adamant about maintaining my same strength training regimen when we first met. “I am not changing anything in your lifting program. When you train, you will do a full body lifting day, not just come in and only bench. I will not be adding any conditioning into your program until January and even then, it will be only 5-10 minutes of interval work like kettle bell swings. No extra cardio. Your focus will be maintaining your strength. The nutrition part is the only thing we are changing in your program.” That meant no biking. No extra exercises. No six days a week in the gym. I trusted her.



Outside of the gym, I added rest days to my routine making sure that I put at least one day in between exercise. In addition, I made a point of getting eight hours of sleep which really helped my state of mind about the inch loss as well as the wedding preparations!

I met with Emily again in January, and we tweaked my eating a bit more. I was comfortably eating five meals a day and loved checking off my success adhering to the new routine each meal. In fact, now that I’m no longer checking off the grid, I still think of every meal and always follow the same core components of a meal e.g., protein, veggies, fats, etc.

It was getting down to the wire with only a couple of more weeks before the final dressing fitting: D2. I had posted the needed measurements to fit into my dress on the refrigerator and was close to hitting them. I was so close, and given the financial investment that I had in this dress, I needed to hit that goal.

But I was getting desperate. I still had inches to lose and it was getting closer to the fitting. “Maybe I should…” I started to stutter to Emily. But she remained calm. “You are not to change anything with your eating habits. Nor your strength program. However, I think we can add in some conditioning,” she said. “Let’s throw some swings into your work.” From kettlebell swings to rope slams, for five minutes to ten minutes after my strength session, I sweated to the oldies and the final inches soon melted away.

Finally, the day arrived. January 26, about 8 weeks from the first dress fitting. This was the final moment. And I was ready. I didn’t drink a lot of fluids that morning, and I waited to eat after the fitting. The dress came out. I held my breath. I stepped into it and started to pull it up. The dress SLID on. It didn’t just go on….it slid on. And it was BIG. I was now swimming in my dress, the same dress that at the end of November, I could barely breathe in. The same dress that did not even fit over my hips was now too big. Nearly TWO inches needed to be taken in on the corset! I had lost four inches, not just the two I needed to lose, on my hips for a total of nine, not six inches in two months! I had done it. Through the holidays, a bachelorette party, traveling for work and socializing with my friends!


It fit!!!!!

Two weeks later, I was in Hawaii, wearing my beautiful dress and marrying my husband. It was a dream come true. In May, my husband and I had a larger wedding for family and friends in Boston. And guess what? The dress was even looser than it was in February. 😉


Valentine’s Day.
















During this endeavor, it was all about losing inches and not weight. I did follow the scale somewhat but it was never about the weight. It was always about feeling better and being more comfortable in my body, and let’s face it, fitting into that damn gorgeous dress. 😉 But more importantly, it was about reclaiming a sense of control with my eating and who I am. My emotions were sometimes hard to manage. I felt like “Why did I let myself get into this situation?” and “Was all that food really worth it?” During times like this, I looked really hard at my goal and then remembered that I was addressing my situation, and that I was succeeding. Most people have felt like this at some point of their lives. And some persevere where others may fail. For me, I had a goal. I had to fit into that dress. I wanted to fit into that dress. I knew I could and would fit into that dress. Because the dress was symbolic of one important goal. To get back to the woman I always knew I was. And I did. 😉

My new eating habits are incredibly flexible. I can eat nearly anywhere, and if I slide a bit, it’s really easy to get back on the train because I have developed better habits with my eating, thanks to Emily’s guidance and my desire to treat myself better. Overall, my new eating routine has changed my complicated relationship with food, my body and my self-image. Because ultimately, in the end, it’s YOU that you wake up to every morning and love. 😉

Church with Father

At the church with my dad


Boston, May 2015

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Fivex3 Training Nutrition Seminar Re-Cap: How well does YOUR nutrition program stack up? Mon, 13 Jul 2015 14:49:01 +0000 Read More]]> images

I hosted a Fivex3 Training Nutrition seminar a month ago at my gym. We had about 13 people come out on a Sunday morning to learn a little more about how to eat, what to eat and why we tend to fall into the same traps when it comes to eating and weightloss and/or fat loss.

I started my talk that morning with one question: What is “Good Nutrition?” Answers consisted of “healthy eating,” “not a lot of sugar,” “eating more vegetables.” All good responses. All simple and basic. But instead of thinking about good nutrition as  just  “eating more vegetables,” try thinking about what you hope to accomplish by eating a different way than perhaps you do now.

I asked the group “So, what should your nutrition program help you accomplish?” Well, there are three things a good nutrition program should do simultaneously:

First, a good nutrition program should help improve your body composition. If your goal is to lose inches and fat, a good nutrition program will help you do this. Over an extended period of time. Sure, juice cleanses, drug supplements and surgeries can help you improve the way you look too….but there is a risk with all of them and you will end up doing your body more harm than good.

Second, a good nutrition program should improve your health. It should improve your health profile and help your body work and function the way it should, outside AND inside. Severely restricting your calories, eliminating an entire food group, adding supplemental vitamins and minerals could and most likely, will, do more harm than good.

Third, a good nutrition program should improve  your health and performance. It should improve how you function in and out of the gym. Once again, additional dangerous supplements, crash diets do nothing but detract from your performance and cause more harm than good.

Remember to keep this in mind as you read on and think about your current nutritional program. Is your program helping your body composition, improving your health AND improving your performance? If not, you may want to consider taking a better look at your current nutrition program and start experimenting with new and better ways of eating.

Once we reviewed the foundation of what makes a good nutrition program, we talked about the various diet recommendations over the past 20 some years, going back to 1992 with the USDA Food Pyramid.


This one goes WAY back with us all believing that fat was BAD and pasta, bread, grains should make up the majority of our diet. But as we have evolved, so has our eating. In 2005, the USDA came out with this new pyramid:

food pyramid

A little better…as now it has increased the amount of vegetables and decreased the amount of starches as well as emphasized the need for physical exercise. But it still could be improved upon……

In 2011, the USDA tried their hand again at its recommendations and introduced MyPlate.


Now we start to see an ACTUAL plate (which is what we typically eat food off of, not a pyramid…riiight??? Duh. ) MyPlate was designed to eliminate some of the complexity of the food pyramid, which it did. People can relate to a plate and it presents you with a good idea of what should be on YOUR plate. However, there is still a big emphasis on dairy for your “go to” beverage as opposed to water or other non-caloric drinks. Healthy fats are not listed at all and there is still more emphasis on grains and fruit at EVERY meal and not enough emphasis on more vegetables and protein.

So, what to do? As a PN coach and someone who really got on track with her own eating and eating habits as a result of Precision Nutrition’s recommendations, allow me to introduce the PN Meal Plate:

PN Plate

PN Plate


My plate. No starches with this meal.


My plate. Starch with this meal. And bacon.











Notice the portion size for vegetables. The largest portion on this plate is vegetables. In fact, it’s HALF of the plate. This is followed by protein, the second largest. Third is starches, mostly whole and then healthy fats like oils and nuts.  And a Plant Based meal will not look much different, with the exception of the protein portion which will include plant protein such as beans, lentils, legumes, tofu, etc. Fruit is part of this plate as a dessert or perhaps after exercise (breakfast is a good time to have some fruit too) and the beverage of choice is water or tea or some other non-caloric beverage. So.….Does  your plate look like this plate??? If yes,  then you are definitely already one step ahead of the crowd. 😉 If not, then read on.

Habits: You gotta have ’em.



When it comes down to losing weight, gaining weight or maintaining weight, those individuals who have made the best progress are the ones who focused on habits rather than a quick-fix-lose-it-fast-today diet plan. These individuals took the time to really think about why they eat the way they do, how they could eat differently and what their plates should look like. Habits. We all have them. Think of some of your own habits. Maybe every morning, you get up and take a shower. Every single morning. That is a habit. I typically take my showers the night before because I like to sleep in. 😉 We brush our teeth every night before going to bed. Habit. Morning coffee. Early morning runs. Training at the same time every other night. These are habits that we have built into our daily routine. We do them automatically without thinking about them. So, what if we did the same thing with our eating? Instead of trying to starve ourselves or jump on the next bandwagon of juice cleanses, celery diets and fast track weight loss programs, we started getting a little more real with ourselves and our own habits. Step back and really take a hard look at your eating habits. Do you skip breakfast some days and other days, grab whatever you can on the way to work? Do you walk by the SAME Dunkin Donuts on your way to the gym? Is there another path you could take instead? We have some habits that we could stand to break and other habits we could and should really try to instill in our daily lives. The following five habits are at the epicenter of the PN program, and I have definitely made them habits with my own eating.

Five Simple Precision Nutrition Habits 

1. Eat slowly and stop at 80% full.

2. Eat protein dense foods with each meal.

3. Eat vegetables with each meal.

4. Eat some carbohydrate-dense foods with most meals.

5. Eat healthy-fat-dense foods with most meals. 

All five habits are important but habit number 1 is by far, I think, the hardest habit to work on AND the most important one because most of us have a bad habit of eating too quickly and eating everything on our plate. We heard growing up “I want you to clean your entire plate. There are starving children in…..” We grow up thinking that we have to ALWAYS eat everything on our plate. But in reality, we don’t. We don’t need to stuff ourselves silly. We should not want to feel “full” after every meal. This is probably the hardest habit for me. I struggle with it daily. I really have to work on eating slowly and mindfully. I have to force myself to put my fork down, sit back, chew slowly. I typically eat my meals in about 15 minutes. Not bad. A good goal is to work towards 15-20 minutes. That is tough so don’t try to do it right away if you have been eating your meals in under 5 minutes. Just start to think about eating more slowly. Grab a book to read while you eat. I actually find watching television HELPS me slow down my eating. In order for me to understand what is going on, I have to stop eating so my chewing doesn’t interfere with listening. It takes me about 20 minutes at lunch and dinner this way, and I never feel full after these meals.

The other four habits will take time to develop and follow but they are far easier than number 1 and should be incorporated into your daily meals slowly, especially if you are not used to eating a lot of protein or vegetables. Notice that there is not a habit that says “Do not eat any junk food.” It’s not so much about eliminating foods you are eating now but rather eating more of the foods that will make you full, keep you satiated longer and of course, are healthier for your body, body composition and performance goals. (Remember way back at the top reading about what a good nutrition program should help you accomplish?) By replacing foods that better support your goals, you will slowly find that you have little room for the “other food.” Eventually, you discover that you do not have anymore room in your stomach for those “other foods.” When this occurs, you have now formed better eating habits. And don’t expect these habits to happen immediately. It usually takes you about two weeks to form a habit. You need to practice and practice and practice. Most people can only handle one habit at a time too so try not to pile on each one at once. 😉

Other good habits include:

1. Exercise for 30 minutes a day

2. Drink at least 8 cups o water

3. Sleep at least 8 hours (including naps)

4. Eat 4-5 meals a day.

Here is a link to a pdf that lists these habits. It is a great resource sheet that I have used for myself and my clients. 5-daily-habits-for-fat-loss.

Calorie Control: Say it ain’t so!!

After our discussion on habits, I moved on to talk about calorie control. This is always a headache of a subject. I cannot tell you how many calories your body needs. We all need different amounts of food based on who we are, our activity level, male or female. Counting calories is not as simple as it sounds. However, measuring and weighing can help you get a baseline idea of portions sizes. And while PN poo-poo’s weighing your meat and measuring out your rice, I do encourage people to use these tools as needed until they get a better idea of what a half of cup of rice looks like or what about 4-5 ounces of turkey burger is. Once they have a better handle on portion sizes, then they can start to eyeball their portions or use PN’s calorie counting guide. All in all, their guide is the eye ball version of measuring cups and scales. Take a look.


You can see from this simple guide that A. Men need to eat more than women  and B. It goes back to the old “your hand is the best measurement” trick. 😉 But what does this look like in real time? Below is our lunch. Diego’s lunch is on the left and my lunch is on the right. What do you notice about our lunches? Look at the picture above. It is pretty identical to the His/Her portions in the calorie counting guide. (The vegetables don’t show the whole picture so think back to the portion of vegetables from the PN plate.)


His and her meals.

Thinking about food and preparing food should not give you a headache. If thinking about cooking and grilling and shopping and preparing foods starts giving you a migraine, STOP. It should’t be that complicated. It is NOT that complicated. And before I get into the last part of the seminar, let me give you a few additional tips:

1. Drink more low calorie or non-calorie drinks. Instead of stopping by Starbucks everyday for one of their “Mocha frappuchino chocolate chocolate frappuchinos,” stop by every other day, then every two days, then once a week. They add up quickly.

2. Try to eat mostly whole foods. Protein bars are good when you are crunched for time, but you don’t want to make supplements the majority of your diet. Eat REAL food.

3. PLAN AHEAD!!!!! It really is true: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Don’t fall into this trap. (Discussing this in more detail in the next paragraph.)

4. Try to eat as varied foods as possible. Experiment. You may discover you really do LOVE lima beans. 😉 (Me, never!!!!)

5. 90% compliant, 10% eat what you want! It sounds boring. It sounds cliche. But it works. Eat 90% of the time that keeps you on track – vegetables at all meals, protein at all meals, non-caloric drinks. 10% – Enjoy that pizza. Have a beer or two. Eat those mozzarella sticks. 😉 It’s not a “cheat meal.” It’s understanding that you can still have your cake and eat it too if 90% of your meals look like your PN plate. It’s practical and it works. And if you are consciously thinking about what you are eating, when you are eating and how you are eating, 90%/10% really does work. But it takes time to make this a habit. So don’t rush it.

Fail to Plan = Plan to Fail


So when do you find the time to do all this???? Well, you gotta make the time. I know, I know….you are really busy. Work, family, birthdays, vacations….if you have four hours to binge watch Orange is the New Black or Bloodlines (Just got into this show!!), then you have ONE hour to cut some damn vegetables. Am I right?

Food preparation. If you don’t prep it, you won’t eat it. Believe me. And I truly believe that if more of us simply followed these food prep tips, we would be able to eat better at home and out.

Here are a few tips for food preparation:

1. Pre-cut your vegetables. Remember your PN plate? Half of the plate is vegetables. So get going and chop them up – Sunday afternoon, Saturday morning, Monday morning while you are prepping breakfast – find that hour and get chopping. I typically either chop my vegetables on Saturday afternoon after I get home from the gym or if I can get it in Saturday, Sunday morning. Either way, I get ‘er done! This way, I have no excuse for not making a salad for lunch or dinner or throwing in some peppers into my eggs in the morning. Baggies, containers…whatever works for you.


Chopping peppers.


Ready to eat!

And while you are chopping, you can listen to Dana Carvey sing this classic rock ballad – “Choppin’ Broccoli.”


2. Pre-cook your protein. Grill your chicken or  burgers ahead of time. Do it while you are chopping your vegetables. We grill our burgers for our lunches on Saturday or Sunday. For dinner, we grill beef burgers one night, chicken sausages from Whole Foods another night. We grill our fish (prepped with some kind of seasoning) as well as our pork chops. We grill 365 days. Snow, rain, heat. Oh yeah, we grill.

Grilling burgers.

Grilling burgers.

3. Buy meal sized containers for your food. This way you can pre-pack your lunch the night before. You can easily keep the PN plate together with the right size tupperware.

Tupperware makes the difference.

Tupperware makes the difference.

4. Use blenders and shaker bottles. Pressed for time some days??? Shakes are an awesome way to get a quick meal in without a lot of preparation or cooking. You can pre-blend shakes at home and then store them at work. Or buy a small blender at work and create a shake right then and there.

Strawberry protein shake

Strawberry protein shake

Remember, Rome was not built in a day. Give yourself time.



I wrapped up the seminar with a few words about maintenance eating. You have taken the steps to develop better eating habits. You are eating slowly, cutting your vegetables, cooking your protein, eating 90% healthy….but sometimes you just really want those damn fries. And youfeel bad about that. Don’t. Remember, it’s going to be a little bit of a roller coaster ride. You will have your up’s and down’s but if you are working on being 90% consistent with your eating and your exercise, you have already won.

When it comes to maintenance eating, there are a few things for you to keep in mind:

1. Have a positive attitude. Things will go off track at times. You may drink more wine than you should have one night. The restaurant that your friend chose has a menu that is not compliant with your habits. It’s okay. Take a deep breath and relax. Tomorrow is another day. 😉

2. Be satisfied with maintenance. But what about those last five pounds???? If you stress about it, you will not be able to eat normally. You have made great progress. Enjoy the progress you have made, not the “but what about the..?” Be proud of what you have accomplished.

3. Find foods that work for  you. Remember, eat what you enjoy. Don’t like to eat too many salads? Grill your vegetables. Steam your broccoli. Make vegetable soup. Create meals that work for you and your tastes and appetite.

4. Eat without guilt and for enjoyment. I can’t tell you how unhappy it makes me when I read articles or stories about people’s fear of food. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not feared. When you develop better habits and better awareness of eating and food, you will find that you will begin to enjoy eating again. It really is not as complicated as people want to make it out to be.

5. Get motivated by your health. How is your progress at the gym? Is your deadlift getting better? Do you have more energy now than you did before? Is your blood work better? Are you sleeping better? Your health should be your number one priority. Get motivated by how you are feeling physically and mentally.

6. And last, but not least, make YOURSELF a priority. Give yourself that hour at the gym or for that afternoon walk. Take a spin class. Eat for your health. Eat because it makes you feel better, not worse. You have only one body. Take care of it now. 😉


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The 2015 Charlotte Bohn Charm City Strongwoman Memorial Contest is HERE!!!! Wed, 03 Jun 2015 18:25:10 +0000 Read More]]>  


It’s Finally Here!!!





HELLO LADIES!!!!! Well, it’s finally here!!! The 4th Annual Charm City Strongwoman Contest is here!! Registration is now OPEN for the 2015 Charm City Strongwoman Contest!! This contest is a Memorial Contest for my sister Charlotte Bohn who died this past February after 3 1/2 years of living with colon cancer. She was as strong as she was beautiful and this contest is for her as it is for ALL strong women! I hope you are ready!! It’s going to be awesome. 😉

The contest will take place on Sunday, September 13, 2015 from 9am – 5pm.  This year, we have updated the divisions and divided them into two weight classes.  There will be five divisions: Novice Lightweight and Novice Middleweight/Heavyweight; Open Lightweight and Open Middleweight/Heavyweight; Pro-Amateur.

Novice Lightweight: 155 and under          Novice Middleweight/Heavyweight: 155.1 and over

Open Lightweight: 155 and under             Open Middleweight/Heavyweight: 155.1 and over

Pro-Amateur: NO weight classes

(n.b. The meet directors reserve the right to move you from class to class based on their discretion the day of the event.)

2014 Log Press

2014 Log Press

2015 EVENTS 

(Important Note: The weights below are guidelines and are subject to change.) 

1) Press Medley: Kettlebell x 3 reps, Keg x 2 reps, Sandbag x 1 rep **(Weights are subject to change.)**

Each contestant has 60 seconds to press each weight for the set number of reps.

LWN:20kg, 70lb, 70lb;  MW/HWN: 24kg, 90lb, 90lb; LWO: 24kg, 90lb, 90lb; MW/HWO: 28kg, 100lb, 90lb;

Pro-Am: 32kg, 115lb, 100lb

2) Truck Pull 

Each contestant pulls a truck hand over hand 75 feet in 60 seconds.

LWN: Heavy, MW/HWN: Heavy; LWO: Heavier, MW/HWO: Heavier; Pro-Am: Heaviest

3) Deadlift Medley: Barbell x 3 reps, Axle x 2 reps, Farmers handles x 1 rep

Each contestant has 60 seconds to deadlift each weight for the set number or reps.

LWN: 155lb, 185lb, 210lb;  MW/HWN: 185lb, 215lb, 250lb; LWO: 185lb, 215lb, 250lb;  MW/HWO: 215lb, 250lb, 300lb; Pro-Am: 250lb, 300lb, 350lb

4) Duck Walk/Keg Carry Relay

Each contestant has 60 seconds to duck walk the weight 50 feet and carry the keg back.

LWN: 150lb/100lb;  MW/HWN: 185lb/125lb;  LWO: 185lb/125lb;  MW/HWO: 200lb/150lb;  Pro-Am: 245lb/150lb

5) Stone over Bar

Karla and the stone.

Karla and the stone.

Each contestant has 60 seconds to put the stone over a 42″ bar as many times as possible.

LWN: 115lb;  MW/HWN: 135lb;  LWO: 135lb;  MW/HWO: 165lb;  Pro-Am: 185lb

Chalk is allowed for all events. Tacky is allowed ONLY for the stone event.

Registration Information

ENTRY FEE: $50 mail in; 53 online

The entry fee is $50 for all mail in registrations and $53 for all online registrations through PayPal. You can pay directly below.  All profit will benefit the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation for prevention and research. This registration fee is non-refundable. Please download the registration form by clicking here.

Please contact Emily Socolinsky at for details. Make all checks payable to Fivex3 Training LLC.


Weigh-in’s will be held on Saturday, September 12 from 3-5pm and on Sunday, September 13 from 8-8:30am.


Applications will be accepted up until September 5, 2015. In order to receive a t-shirt, all applications must be in by August 13, 2015.


Spaces will be limited to 12 women per division in LWN, MW/HWN, LWO, MW/HWO. Space is limited to 6 women for Pro-Amateur.


Contestants have the option to create a First Giving Page to help raise money for the organization.  All profit will help benefit the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation. Here is my fundraising page.

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?




Please mail check and application to:

Fivex3 Training LLC
609 South Kenwood Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224

Or register and pay right now using the PayPal form below:

Shirt Size

]]> 4
Fivex3 Training 2015 Mock Powerlifting Meet Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:29:23 +0000 Read More]]> 11079660_896341977095086_8671259702270213894_n


Meet: Fivex3 Training Mock Powerlifting Meet 2015

Date: Sunday, May 24, 2015

Time: Weigh-ins are from 7:30 AM-8:30 AM.

Rules Briefing 8:45 AM.

Lifting starts at 9:00 AM.

Meet Director – Emily Socolinsky


USAPL SanctionNA (Mock Meet)

Divisions: There is only one division for this meet, the Open division for Men and Women. All lifts will be unequipped (raw only meet).



Weight Classes:

Weight Classes Women:

47 kg (103.6 lbs)

52 kg (114.6 lbs)

57 kg (125.7 lbs)

63 kg (138.9 lbs)

72 kg (158.7 lbs)

84 kg (185.2 lbs)

84+ kg (185.2+ lbs)



Weight Classes Men:

59 kg (130.1 lbs)

66 kg (145.5 lbs)

74 kg (163.1 lbs)

83 kg (183 lbs)

93 kg (205 lbs)

105 kg (231.5 lbs)

120 kg (264.6 lbs)

120+ kg (264.6+ lbs)

Registration: Registration is by mail only. The registration fee is $25. Please make checks payable to Fivex3 Training. Mail all checks to Emily Socolinsky, 609 South Kenwood Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224. All participants receive a t-shirt. All profit to benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The registration fee is non-refundable. You can download the registration form and waiver HERE.

Lifter Limit: We are only accepting the first 30 lifters. There will be no waiting list. Once the contest is closed, we will post “Registration Is Closed.”

USAPL Membership: A USAPL Membership is NOT Required. Although we are not holding an official USAPL meet, we will be following USAPL guidelines.

Location: Fivex3 Training, 1400 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

Rules: Please visit for rules.

Waiver: You will also need a valid form of ID at check in on meet day. You will need to sign a Release from Liability waiver when you check in if you have not sent one in already with your registration form. 

Spectators: Tickets for spectators are $5.00 each, available at the door. All money collected will be donated to the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. If you wish to make a larger donation to the organization, we will have someone from Ulman accepting donations. 

All meet entries are final. No refunds or transfers for any reason. Lifters will get rack heights the day they check in. 

Preliminary Schedule:

7:00 AM – Check in all lifters, men and women.

7:30-8:30AM – Weigh in’s

8:45AM – Rules Briefing

9:00 AM – Lifting starts

Flights are:


A = All females + Men 145 & under

B = 163 & 183

C = 205

D = 231 & Over


A = All females

B = 183 and under

C = 205

D = 231 & Over


A = All females + Men 130 & under

B = 145 through 183

C = 205

D = 231 & Over

]]> 0
Client Profile of the Month: Meet Kristi Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:59:43 +0000 Read More]]> “Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” Thomas Carlyle

I met Kristi in October of 2014. She had been working with my mentee, Shannon Khoury, at the MAC, a big box gym up the street from my place for about two months before coming to me. Shannon was making some big changes in her life and had decided to leave the MAC. She referred Kristi to Fivex3 because she knew that the work we did here would go hand in hand with the strength foundation Kristi had developed during her time with her. When Shannon told me about Kristi and her EDS, I did not even bat an eye. Why would I? I know the kind of work we do here. I know the kind of trainer Shannon was. I knew that Kristi would be in good hands at Fivex3. Why? Because we help people learn how to move better. We help people get stronger.  Most importantly, we help give people confidence to understand their bodies better and help them use the bodies they have to their fullest potential. Kristi has learned more about her body in the past year than she has in her whole life. Here is her story.

For the first 36 years of my life, I was discouraged by my doctors from undertaking exercise of any kind due to a rare tissue disorder. That changed after a visit to Mayo Clinic and exercise (well supervised) has made a profound difference in how I live and how I think about myself. Today, I have Emily and Fivex3 Training to thank for more optimism and physical well-being than I’ve every enjoyed before.

Let me back up a bit. My relationship with my body is truly complex. When I was very young, my father suddenly passed away at age 31. His autopsy revealed a rare connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), the Vascular Type. I’ve included a definition of EDS below. At age 5, I was diagnosed with the same disorder. Because it was rarely diagnosed (especially back then), there was very little information available. The doctors, however, were adamant that I could not play sports, take gym class, ride a bike, roller skate, or do anything most kids do. I was told to never lift more than 5 pounds (a gallon of milk). I NEVER took a gym class.

Bad idea! I never learned much about my body and how it works. It weakened me physically, limited my coordination, and left me anything BUT safe. My list of injuries is long and severe. Stitches and staples for dozens of gaping wounds throughout childhood and adulthood. I fractured my nose three times. My joints often dislocate, especially my shoulders, and I have chronic neck and back pain. As a child, my fingers would dislocate on a regular basis leaving them dangling. I was able to teach a girlfriend how to pop them back in so we could keep playing. A tendon in my ankle regularly flips over a bone, and I have to pull it back in place. A toddler once gave me a head butt and now my jaw now clicks every time I chew.

Those were the simple challenges.  As I aged things got progressively worse.  At 19 deep varicosities started in my legs.  At 20, my quad spontaneously ruptured while I was sitting on a couch (that kind of thing happens with VEDS) resulting in severe loss of leg mobility. A cat bit me, and the scar tissue (resulting from 5 surgeries) caused the functional loss of my dominant hand for several years. I have had several deep blood clots (DVTs) and a pulmonary embolism (PE). In my early 30s I was diagnosed with Adenomyosis, which causes extreme monthly pelvic pain (equivalent to labor pains in child birth).

With this history, it’s no wonder why doctors, as well as physical trainers, often run the other way when they see me coming!

One set of doctors, though, took on the challenge. I visited the Mayo Clinic in 2010, and the doctors started addressing some of my chronic issues. They performed surgery on my leg and recaptured some of its mobility. Another surgery helped create more mobility in my hand. AND THEY TOLD ME TO START EXERCISING. They suggested water aerobics.

Living in Chicago, I joined a great health club with a pool and happily jumped into the pool and took excellent classes (populated mostly by people suffering from arthritis). I worked out for a year and gained a little bit of muscle. I also gained some insight into my body and realized that I could build muscle and that new muscle actually holds me together a bit more.

Then I hit another roadblock. At 39, my colon perforated, which is what took my father’s life. My surgery was successful, as was the ostomy reversal eight weeks later. In the midst of all this, I moved to Baltimore. As I recovered, new doctors at Johns Hopkins re-confirmed that I needed to begin exercising again as soon as I could. In fact, they told me it was imperative. Instead of just water aerobics, they said I should also do “conservative strength training.”


Medicine ball throws at Fivex3 Training.

It’s not easy to find trainers that will take on a subject like me. After signing up at the MAC in Harbor East, I received three complimentary sessions with a personal trainer. I had no clue how to approach “conservative strength training” so I scheduled my first free session in hope of just figuring out where the 3 lb weights were kept. I met Shannon Khoury, and we discussed my condition, concerns and goals (which were not lofty). She was so enthusiastic about working with me. We started with the very basic movement skills. We worked together for several weeks and Shannon gave me the skills to begin to create a foundation in strength. I did not get a chance to work with Shannon very long, but prior to Shannon’s departure from the MAC, she referred me to her friend and mentor, Emily Socolinsky at Fivex3 Training. I started with Emily’s personal group strength/movement class, Basic Training. The first few were tough. I lacked confidence and became easily frustrated, even teary eyed. Part of it was sheer contempt of my fragile body. The other was a lack of understanding that my body is so different than individuals without a connective tissue disorder. Emily would adapt every exercise to my ability and soon, I was challenging myself. Even lifting 15 lb weights and trying a kettlebell swing. She worked on my form continuously to make sure I wouldn’t injure myself, and when my mind wanted to keep trying, she recognized my body was tired and would encourage me to rest. Little things started changing right away. For the very first time in my life, I was able to open a bottle of water on my own, something I have never been able to do. I started helping my husband carry in the groceries from the car. I even carried a bag of kitty litter. No problem. Each achievement inspired me to try harder and try something new at the gym. My confidence boost was energizing. Even my fatigue was easing.





Sled drags.

I briefly left the gym this past December to undergo another surgery to address my Adenomyosis (a partial hysterectomy). Now that I don’t experience a false child birth every month, after two months of recovery, I am back to the gym. (My childhood friends would be amazed to find out I’m now a “gym rat!.”)


Pushing the 175lb yoke.

Finding Emily and Fivex3 Training has impacted my life in a way I did not know was possible. After a year and half of working out under my belt, I am finally headed down the right path and getting fit in the process. But there is much more to it than that. There is a whole part of my identity that has been neglected and misunderstood. Body image. I have a love hate relationship with my physical self that I swept under the rug for years. Decades. My entire life. I was blissfully ignorant of the impact my body image has on my self-esteem and happiness, but my awareness is sharpening and my quality of life increasing.

Life with VEDs is painful, frustrating and even depressing. But I would not be me without it. It has made me strong. And I mean, STRONG. I have a wonderful sense of humor and empathy for the human condition that drives me to fight everyday. It also creates this love/hate dynamic with my body. I love my body because it’s the only one I have, even if it often lets me down. And after finding that exercise is the right thing for me to do, I’m doing everything I can to treat my body right. I’m determined to help it mend and get stronger every day. With that, I’m very thankful for people like the doctors at Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins who pointed me in the right direction, and compassionate, knowledgeable people like CK Perez in Chicago and Shannon Khoury and Emily Socolinsky of Fivex3 Training in Baltimore, who have guided me and encouraged me at every step.

Emily, get those kettlebells ready. I’m back!



Kettlebell swings!


Individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) have a genetic defect in their connective tissue, the tissue that provides support to many body parts such as the skin, muscles and ligaments. The fragile skin and unstable joints found in patients with EDS are the result of faulty or reduced amounts of collagen. Collagen is a protein, which acts as a “glue” in the body, adding strength and elasticity to connective tissue. The Vascular Type of EDS is characterized by possible arterial or organ rupture as a result of spontaneous rupture of vessels or organs due to the result of even minor trauma.  The Vascular Type of EDS is the most serious form of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

People with the disorder have thin, fragile skin that bruises easily. Veins are visible beneath the skin, particularly on the chest and abdomen, and hands and feet may have an aged appearance. Unlike people with other forms of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, people with the Vascular Type have skin that is soft but not overly stretchy. Facial features are often distinctive, including protruding eyes, a thin nose and lips, sunken cheeks, and a small chin.

Other signs of the disorder include an unusually large range of movement (hyper mobility) of hand and foot joints, tearing of tendons and muscles, painfully swollen veins in the legs, lung collapse, and slow wound healing following injury or surgery. Infants with the condition may be born with hip dislocations and a foot disorder called clubfoot, which causes the foot to turn inward and downward.

Unpredictable ruptures of arteries and organs are the most serious complications of the Vascular Type of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. A torn artery can cause internal bleeding, stroke, or shock, and is the most common cause of death in patients with this disorder. Rupture of the intestine is seen in 25 to 30 percent of affected individuals and tearing of the uterus (womb) during pregnancy affects 2 to 3 percent of women. Although serious problems are rare in childhood, more than 80 percent of patients experience severe complications by the age of 40. There is no cure and no treatment at this time.

For more information about EDS, please visit

Kristi is also a very accomplished painter. Below is just one of her pieces. To learn more about her work, please visit her website:


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Confidence. Do YOU have it? Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:03:54 +0000 Read More]]> You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life


Confidence! Do you have it???

Confidence! Do you have it???

From the moment Diego and I received the email from Starting Strength that they had decided that all 2010 coaches needed to get re-certified, I started to doubt myself as a coach. Our certification expired the end of March so if we wanted to stay certified, we needed to register TODAY. From that moment until the day I stepped into Crossfit Retribution for the seminar, I was a complete and utter fucking goddamn mess. Me, a coach? No, no, I’m sorry, you are mistaken. I am not a coach. I am a fake. I have fooled everyone into thinking I am one but really, I have no clue. That weekend, as I sat there listening to Rip talk about the evaluation procedure (the same procedure from 4 years ago), THIS was the bullshit that was running through my mind: “You’re a fake. You are not a coach. You suck. You have no idea what you are doing. Do you even coach???” I started to sweat. I panicked. I quickly wrote a note to Diego asking him whether or not we were “Opting In” to the be evaluated as coaches. No joke. To prove it, here is my actual note that I wrote to Diego.


The infamous note.





This is how nervous I was.







“Are we opting in?” After three years being a Starting Strength Coach and many, many, many, many, many….(you get the point) clients later, there I was, sitting in my chair scared shitless that I was going to make a complete fool of myself that weekend. The look on Diego’s face was priceless when he saw the note. He looked at me like I had lost my ever loving mind. I seriously thought that he was going to strangle me right then and there. He stared at me incredulously and then leaned over to me and whispered “Of COURSE you are opting in?!!! What the hell do you think we are doing here?” I was scared to death. Fear came over me like nothing I had felt before. I was not scared the first time we were certified back in 2010. Why? Because I had no damn clue what to expect. Now I did.  What happened if after three years I still did not know how to coach? What happened if I made a fool of myself on the platform? What would they think of me? Would they question why the hell they had certified my the first time? Would they laugh at me, talk about me behind my back? Would I be laughed off the platform?

Basically, I tortured myself for 6 months, from the time we registered for the seminar, through the exam process and until I got the call from Rip in May. When I did finally get the call that we had passed (again!), I immediately inquired about becoming a Starting Strength gym and wham, bam, thank you ma’am, we became number 12 in the country. But it wasn’t until I had gotten the word that I was re-certified, that I had the balls to ask about becoming a SS gym. Diego already knew he had passed. And the fact that he got a 100% (AGAIN!) on his exam did not surprise him either. So why was I so insane? Why did I not believe in myself the way he believed in himself? Why was he SO confident in his abilities and I was, well, NOT?

It's hard to be me sometimes. Really.

It’s hard to be me sometimes. Really.

At the end of April,  we received the May issue of The Atlantic Monthly. On the cover was Katty Kay of the BBC World News and Claire Shipman, a reporter for ABC news. The title of the feature story that month was “Closing the Confidence Gap” with a side bar that read “Even successful women lack self-assurance at work. Men have too much.” The article was actually a section from their booThe Confidence Codek, The Confidence Code: The Art of Self-Assurance-What Women Should Know. I just stared at the cover. It seemed to be fate. Here I was feverishly trying to figure out why I had been beating myself up for the past five months and the answer now lay right in front of me. I immediately tore the magazine open and began to read the article.

As I read the article, I finally began to realize that I was truly not alone in the fight to be perfect. As Kay and Shipman stated in their article, “Perfectionism is another confidence killer.  Study after study confirms that is is largely a female issue, one that extends through women’s entire lives. We don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer, we don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it ad nauseam and we don’t sign up fort that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than required. We watch our male colleagues take risks, while we hold back until we’re sure we are perfectly ready and perfectly qualified. We fixate on our performance at home, at school, at work, at yoga class, even on vacation. We obsess as mothers, as wives, as sisters, as friends, as cooks, as athletes.”

As I continued to read the article, I found myself smiling, sighing, nodding, as if the women could see and hear me. This is ME they were talking about, I thought.  Nothing was ever good enough.  I was never good enough, smart enough. I would spend hours, DAYS writing essays for English class only to watch my male counterparts write their essays five minutes before class started…..and subsequently, receive the EXACT same grade!! It wasn’t fair! I worked longer on it. I poured  my soul into it. I could never understand why I had to take so much time to work on assignments, why everything took longer with me.  This lasted through high school and into college. After reading the article, I eagerly  shared it with Diego.  “Read this article!” I shouted.  “Read this article and then you will understand my insanity and why it is so damn hard to be me. Now you will understand why I asked if we should “opt in?” I don’t believe in myself even though I know I should!!!”


Confidence. What is it really? How do you define it?

“Confidence,” they wrote, “is not, as we once believed, just feeling good about yourself. If women simply needed a few words of reassurance, they’d have commandeered the corner office long ago. Perhaps the clearest, and most useful, definition of confidence we came across was the one supplied by Richard Petty, a psychology professor at Ohio State University, who has spent the last decades focused on subject. “Confidence,” he told us, “is the stuff that turns thoughts into action….” “….confidence,” he told us, “is essential, because it applies in more situations… is the factor that turns thoughts into judgements about what we are capable of, and that then transforms those judgements into action.”

Kay and Simpson go on to write the following, “The simplicity is compelling, and the notion that confidence and action are interrelated suggests a virtuous circle. Confidence is a belief in one’s ability to succeed, a belief that stimulates action. In turn, action bolsters one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed. So confidence accumulates-through hard work, through success, and even through failure.”

When I get a new woman in my weight room, I can sense her hesitation and doubt from the beginning. She lacks confidence. Why? Because she does not believe in herself. Although she has taken the first step of getting in the door and getting on the platform, she is still hesitant and nervous. She has not ACTED yet.


Shelby squats 190lbs.

We go through the set up for the squat. “Hands together and push the knees out. Just like that. Good. Now let’s drive up with the hips. Great!” She is fine with squatting down without weight. No problem. But then the barbell goes on her back. Now the doubt sets in. “Where do my hands go? Should this feel like this? I don’t know if I can do this. This feels really uncomfortable.” She is about to give up but she’s not ready to….just yet. She squats down and comes up. It’s a little high so we do it again. She finds depth. The next rep she shifts forward and the bar moves which freaks her out. “Take your time,” I tell her. “Big air. Hips back. Knees out.” She takes her breath and squats down again. This time, she comes up with her hips and the bar stays in place. “One more time,” I tell her. “You’re doing great.” She finishes her set and racks the bar. She looks scared but the first set is done. The next set looks even better. We do a third set and now she is in the groove.

We add weight. We add a little more weight. She is beginning to relax, the hesitation is leaving….only to come back when we start to learn the press. The cycle repeats itself. We end the session with the deadlift and afterwards, when she is leaving, there is a smile on her face and not a frown. She has done it. She has squatted, pressed and deadlifted and she did not FAIL. How could she? She has never done anything like this ever and yet, somehow, she was successful in learning the lifts. At her next session, she walks in with a smile. The hesitation is still there, but not as much as the first time. By her third session, she is getting under the bar like a champ. She is thinking about the bar on her back, about her hip drive. She is keeping the bar close to her on her press, driving it to her nose. She is aware of her breath with the deadlift and takes her time with her set up. She is now more confident with her positions. She now BELIEVES in her abilities. She has acted and as a result of her actions, she has proven to herself that she is capable of performing these exercises. With each and ever session, she now holds this belief that she will succeed. Remember the above statement about what “confidence” really means? “Confidence is a belief in one’s ability to succeed, a belief that stimulates action.” By learning how to squat, how to press, deadlift and bench, she has developed confidence in herself. She now believes in her ability to do this work and this belief is what makes her come back day after day, week after week, to add more weight to the bar, to try again. To get stronger. To move better. THIS is what confidence is and THIS is why I believe in strength training.

It is quite amazing to watch a woman who has never picked up a barbell before in her life and go from squatting the empty bar (45#) to squatting 165 lbs in just six weeks. Or watch a woman look at me with an “Are you kidding me?” look when I tell her she’s going to deadlift five more pounds than last week and then she proceeds to pull an easy triple at 200lbs. The look she gave me earlier is now replaced with a “Well, that was pretty easy” look.  This spreads like wildfire around the room. And everyone wants more.

Coaching the press at our strength workshop.

Coaching the press at our strength workshop.

But Emily, you may ask, YOU strength train and yet YOU still had a hard time acknowledging that you knew what you were capable of doing at the seminar. You are right. I did not believe in myself as a COACH. I believed in my abilities as a LIFTER, but not as a coach. These are two different things. It was not until I stood on the platform and took someone through the method that I realized I could do this and do it well. Once I started talking and coaching, once I was made to ACT, I realized that I was more than capable of coaching. My doubt was gone. My hesitation was gone. I now had the confidence to get on the platform again for the press and then the deadlift, the power clean (the one that I had the least coaching experience with up to this point turned out to be my BEST coaching lift of the weekend!) and the bench. I finished the seminar in high spirits. I WAS a good coach. I did know what I was doing. I wasn’t a fraud. But the months leading up to it were terrifying and I made myself crazy. Why? Because as women, we expect to be perfect. We are praised in school for listening, for raising our hands, for doing our homework while the boys run around and beat each other up and never listen. Because we are literally wired differently. As Kay and Simpson write in their article, “So let’s be clear: male and female brains are vastly more alike than they are different. You can’t look at scans as two random brains and clearly identify which is male and which is female…..yet male and female brains do display differences in structure and chemistry, differences that may encourage unique patterns of thinking and behavior, and that could thereby affect confidence.”

Believing you will succeed is confidence. Acting on your belief encourages your ability to succeed thus making you more confident. It becomes a circle of belief. When I stood on the platform and began to coach the squat, I ACTED. By coaching the squat and proving to myself that I was capable of coaching someone, I turned my thoughts into action, thus demonstrating to myself that I had the ability to succeed, thus giving me the confidence to get back on the platform for the press, deadlift, power clean and bench. I COULD coach. I was capable.

Coaching the bench.

Coaching the bench.

Nurture also plays a key role in the confidence gap and where else to look but school, the playground and sports. “School is where many girls are first rewarded for being good, instead of energetic, rambunctious or even pushy,” state Simpson and Kay. “But while being a “good girl” may pay off in the classroom, it doesn’t prepare us very well for the real world.” Girls are more easily socialized early on in their lives and often receive more praise. In turn they start to want that approval all the time, to be rewarded for their good behavior. As a former school teacher, I would often remark at how well my girls behaved, how nicely they listened, how good they were while the boys were talking and pushing each other and getting into fights. I fed right into it as a woman. As Kay and Simpson write, “There’s certainly no harm intended by overworked, over-stressed teachers (or parents). Who doesn’t want a kid who works hard and doesn’t cause a lot of trouble.”

But what happens to these young girls as they grow up and become young women? As Kay and Simpson state,”And yet the result is that many girls learn to avoid taking risks and making mistakes. This is to their detriment: many psychologists now believe that rist taking, failure and perserverance are essential to confidence building. Boys, meanwhile, tend to absorb more scolding and punishment and in the process, they learn to take failure in stride. ‘When we observed in grade school classrooms, we saw that boys got eight times more criticism than girls for their conduct,’ Dweck [A Stanford psychology professor and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”] writes in Mindset….’Boys mistakes are attributed to a lack of effort……girls come to see mistakes as a reflection of their deeper qualities.'”

Boys take risks. Girls do not. Enter the world of sports, where, according to the article, “fewer girls that boys participate in athletics, and many who do quit early. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, girls are six times as likely as boys to drop off sports teams, with the steepest decline in participation during adolescence. This is probably because girls suffer a larger decrease in self-esteem during that time than boys do. What a vicious circle: girls lose confidence, so they quit competing, thereby depriving themselves of one of the best ways to regain it.”


Jayme pressing.

As I read and re-read that line, I began to think about the women I train. Is this what is happening to all of those women who are NOW strength training? Have they finally found their sport??? They were not competing BEFORE they started strength training. Now, they are training, lifting more and more weight each day, talking with each other about their upcoming bench, wondering when the next Strongwoman contest is, thinking about doing powerlifting meets, excited to finally feel, wait for it, CONFIDENT. Because NOW they believe in themselves. Because NOW they understand what confidence feels like. Because NOW they have been made to act on their belief that they will succeed and they see themselves succeeding every time they walk in they gym. And they are finally OKAY with failure….because they understand that along with doing, FAILING is gonna happen….and when you fail, it means you have ACTED and THAT is confidence. So your squat sucked ass today. That’s OKAY because your benched kicked ass. 😉 So you could not pick that bar up off the ground today to save your life. That’s OKAY because you killed your squat today and left all your energy there. 😉 This is what it means to be confident ladies. Believing in yourself and your abilities and capabilities.

The article does end on a positive note, acknowledging that we as women can change who we are and begin to develop more confidence. All we have to do is ACT. I have said this over and over again to myself and to other women at my gym. “Stop thinking so much and just DO. We, as women, need to desperately stop THINKING so much and we need to start ACTING. As Kay and Simpson write,”….to become more confident, women need to stop thinking so much and just act…..Almost daily, new evidence emerges of just how much our brains can change over the course of our lives, in response to shifting thought patterns and behavior. If we keep at it, if we channel our talent for hard work, we can make our brains more confidence-prone. What the neuroscientists call plasticity, we call hope.”

Luckily, I am able to work with women on just this issue at my gym. Strength training is a physical, mental, emotional force and due to the nature of the work, it requires women to really take a good, hard look at themselves and ask themselves, “Am I capable of doing this??” Because it will be hard. Because I may fail at times. Because I may not be “perfect.” What these women discover about themselves through strength training they may never have discovered had they not decided to learn to squat, press, bench or deadlift. It is not easy for a woman to tell other women what she does (at least other women who do not do what she does.) She may be ridiculed by her friends who don’t lift or by her family. This has never happened to me but it has happened to many of my ladies. She may be looked at funny when she is shopping for clothes. She may be questioned by others about the bruises on her shins from deadlifting. She may be asked why her lunch bag is packed with so much food. NONE of these concerns should be any of those people’s concerns. Now do you wonder why women have such a hard time gaining confidence in themselves? Men are not questioned about these same issues but women, well, we are easy targets. But what do my women say to this? Nothing. They say nothing and they move on. Because they have built confidence, because they know themselves, because they have chosen to act, not just “try.”


Yoda knows best.

Rewind to March 2014. So there I was, sitting in my seat, scared shitless. After being reprimanded by my husband for writing my note,  I nervously got up and wrote  my name down on the piece of paper indicating I wished to be evaluated as a coach. After three hours of lecture, our first day was done. We went out to dinner around 9:30 and then headed to our hotel. I was exhausted, so exhausted that I did not even notice that my stomach was neither distressed from eating so late nor from eating out. The next day, we got up and  had breakfast at IHop. No stomach distress. We headed to the gym and after an hour or so of lecture, we were on the platform for the squat. The SECOND I hit the platform and listened to Matt Reynolds explain what we were going to do, I started to relax. “I can do this,” I remember telling myself. “I GOT this.” We were paired up and when it was my turn to coach, I got right to it. As I started wrapping up the end of teaching the squat from the bottom and moved on to getting Jessica under the bar, I heard Matt say something to the effect of “And that’s how you teach someone the squat.”  😉 And just like that, I realized I could do this. I chose to ACT at that moment, not just try.


Coaching the squat at our workshop.

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”
 Coco Chanel, Believing in Ourselves: The Wisdom of Women



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3rd Annual 2014 Charm City Strongwoman Contest Video Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:56:06 +0000 The video of the 2014 Charm City Strongwoman Contest. It was an extraordinary day with some amazingly strong and beautiful women. Thank you again to all of our amazing participants and sponsors and volunteers!!

And the best part??? We raised over $13,000 for  Susie’s Cause – The Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation. 😉 What a day!!

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3rd Annual Charm City StrongWoman Contest 2014 Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:32:15 +0000 Read More]]> IMG_0113

Janine and the log.

Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t. Rikki Rogers


The Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation


My beautiful and strong sister Charlotte.

On Sunday, September 14, 2014, Fivex3 Training hosted the 3rd Annual Charm City Strongwoman Contest in Baltimore to benefit the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation, Susie’s Cause, a non-profit organization founded by David Rodman Cohan and his daughter, Susan Cohan, before her tragic death in 2004. Susie’s Cause, named in honor of Susan, has raised $15 million since 2004 and has successfully worked to be an international leader in colon cancer prevention, screening and treatment. My sister Charlotte was diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer in September of 2011 at the age of 35 and thanks to the organization’s outreach programs and support, Charlotte has always stood strong, knowing that she is not alone in her battle. Unfortunately, her battle continues. She was re-diagnosed in July of 2013 with Stage IV Colon Cancer after a year of living cancer free. Last year, Charlotte was in treatment during the 2013 contest. Fast forward one year later and despite the fact that she is still living with her cancer, she is doing fantastic thanks to her incredible positive outlook on her life. She is running, strength training, biking with her husband and children… her LIFE. 😉 Strength is not just physical. It is mental, emotional, even spiritual. When you are strong, you are unstoppable. And you never know when your strength will be called upon.

Our first year, we were only able to donate $200 (out of pocket) to Susie’s Cause. Last year, between First Giving pages, donations from sponsors and registrations and donations taken in the day of the contest, we raised over $6,000 for the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation. Fivex3 Training wrote a check for $1543.77. I thought we did pretty well LAST year and hoped to raise at least $8000 this year.


Minerva, Sally and Mary proudly displaying our sponsors.

However, I truly had NO idea how successful THIS year would be. Last year, we had 10 sponsors. This year. we had 19 sponsors. Five Platinum Sponsors ($500): Stevenson University, East Coast Gold Weightlifting, PBI Restorations and Baltimore’s Child. Three Gold Sponsors ($300): Cafe Latte Da, Totten Training Systems and Clark-Morley Salon. Two Silver Sponsors ($200): Baltimore Tattoo Museum and Athleta. Three Bronze Sponsors ($100): Simas Salon and Spa, Charm City Massage, and Dance Happens Inc. We had gift card donations from Bertha’s, Teavolve, City Sports and Whole Foods, yoga mats for our winners from Lululemon, discounted wheelbarrows for our wheelbarrow medley from Canton Ace Hardware and lots of swag from 180’s and our other sponsors. Sponsorship money total: $3400.   On top of this, each and every day, I eagerly watched as our numbers continued to go up on our First Giving Pages. $3000. $4000. $5000. $6000. By the time we hit $6000, I knew we had already surpassed last year’s numbers. Then we hit $7000, then $8000 and just like that…..$9000. This still did NOT include Five3’s donation nor the donations we received the day of the event or even the day AFTER the event. The grand total once everything settled down and I had done the math was: $13,253.86


If you had told me last year that the following year we would over DOUBLE the amount raised, I would have laughed out loud. At the contest, I announced that next year, we would shoot for $15,000. Little did I realize at the time that we almost hit that number THIS year. 😉 This was truly a year to remember. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The 3rd Annual Charm City Strongwoman Contest


The lovely and strong ladies of Fivex3 Training.

With over 50 women registered for the event, we knew we were going to see some really awesome lifting. Our competitors included women from Crossfit RetributionCrossfit Arenal Fitness, Activate Body, Odin Crossfit,  Iron Sport, Crossfit Thunderstorm, Crossfit King of Prussia, Crossfit Chambersburg  and of course, the awesome ladies of Fivex3 Training.


Hangin’ with Erica Smith, Maya Winters and Jen Sinkler.

We also had the honor of watching Maya Winters compete in the Pro-Am Division. Maya is a 2012 NAS Strongman MW National Champion, 2013 Arnold Strongman Fitness Runner-up, a member of Team Juggernaut and sponsored by Heavy Athletics Nutrition. She came down from Philly that day with Erica Smith, our second place winner in our very first Charm City Strongwoman Contest! 😉 It was awesome to meet Maya and see Erica again! Another big treat was meeting Jen Sinkler of Thrive as the Fittest and her husband, Dave Dellanave of The Movement Minneapolis. These two also joined us this day to watch Maya compete and cheer on all of our competitors! Geoff Pritchard from Charm City Massage, one of our sponsors, came for the morning to give the competitors and spectators a taste of his magic hands. 😉 And Amanda Kulik from Ladies Lift Here came down from PA to sell some fantastic t-shirts and tanks and talk more about her awesome website, a resource guide for women who are interested in strength training.

Once again, we had three groups competing this year: The Fun Class (beginner group), the Advanced Class and a Pro-Amateur group. All the groups rocked the house and there was some pretty impressive lifting going on throughout the day.


Sally Van DeWater, our emcee extraordinaire.

After introductions were made by our awesome emcee, Sally Van DeWater  of McKenna’s Gym and the rules were reviewed by my  husband, Diego, we got right to our first events: Weight for Distance for the Fun Group, the Log Press for max weight  for the Pro-Am Group and the Yoke Zercher Carry for the Advanced Group. Because of the number of competitors this year, events ran simultaneously. This allowed for the contest to once again, run  smoothly and quickly and also gave the spectators a lot to watch! Let me tell you…there was never a dull moment!

The events broke down like this:


Weight for Distance

Weight for Distance –Each competitor stood behind the line and threw three medicine balls for distance within 60 seconds. Each ball was thrown with two hands. The maximum distance was recorded and competitors were ranked in order of descending maximum distance. Medicine balls were three 10lb balls for all groups.


Zercher Yoke Carry


Zercher Yoke Carry –Each competitor stood behind the line and Zercher carried the yoke 50 feet, put it down and then carried it back to the start within 60 seconds. Competitors were ranked in ascending order of time and descending order of distance for those who do not complete the course. 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Max Weight Log Press –Each competitor cleaned the log from the floor to her shoulders and pressed it to full lockout overhead. There were no mandatory attempts. Only the maximum successful attempts counted and competitors were ranked in descending order of their maximum successful attempt. Each competitor had three attempts. Each competitor had 60 seconds to complete each attempt.


Log Press

Power Stairs –Each competitor picked up the weight and loaded it onto a 14 inch platform for maximum repetitions. The weight had to be stable on the platform and hands had to be off the weight after each lift. Time limit was 60 seconds. Competitor was  ranked in descending order of repetitions.

Power Stairs

Power Stairs

Wheelbarrow Loading RaceEach competitor  carried and loaded all objects in order onto a wheelbarrow 50 feet away. They brought the loaded wheelbarrow back to the starting line within a maximum of 90 seconds. Plates were carried one per hand, gripped by the rim. Sandbags and kettlebells were carried any way. For the pro-am group, kettlebells had to be carried one per hand simultaneously. Chains had to be picked up and could not be dragged. Competitors were ranked in ascending order of completion time. Those not completing the medley in the allowed time were ranked in descending order by total distance traveled with wheelbarrow, followed by number of objects loaded and distance carried for each object.


Wheelbarrow Medley

The weights for each group were as follows:

Fun Group

Weight for Distance: Three 10lb balls



Zercher Yoke Carry: 175lbs

Max Weight Log Press: Starting weight was 70lbs.

Power Stairs: 150lbs

Wheelbarrow Medley: One 70lb sandbag, two 35lb plates, one 32kg (72lb) kettlebell and a 70lb chain

Advanced Group


Max weight attempts

Zercher Yoke Carry – 235 lbs

Weight for Distance – Three 10lb balls

Power Stairs – 185lbs

Max Weight Log Press – Starting weight was 85lbs

Wheelbarrow Loading Race – One 100lb sandbag, two 45lb plates, one 40kg (88lbs) kettlebell, one 70lb chain



Pro-Amateur Group

Max Weight Log Press – Starting weight was 105lbs

Power Stairs – 245lbs

Weight for Distance – Three 10lb balls

Zercher Yoke Carry – 275lbs

Wheelbarrow Loading Race – One 150lb sandbag, two 45lb plates, two 40kg kettlebells (176lbs), one 90lb chain


Our awesome Fivex3 volunteers!!

We were ahead of schedule the entire day which made everyone very, very happy, including the host. 😉 Everyone had a blast. Our incredibly agile and strong Fivex3 Training volunteers re-positioned the yoke and balls for the lifters, loaded weights for the log and power stairs and unloaded kettlebells, chains, plates and sandbags over and over again. They worked non-stop the entire morning and afternoon.

And I know they were just as tired as the competitors were at the end of the day!!!


Tracy wheeling the wheelbarrow back to the starting line. Again. ;)


Jan, Meghann, Yvonne and Ricky measure the distance of the balls.

After all the points were added up, it was time to announce the winners. It was a really close contest!!! We had trophies for all first place winners and yoga mats from Lululemon and gift cards from Berthas, Teavolve, City Sports and Whole foods for all first, second and third place winners!!

First place in the Fun Group went to Tracy Pafel of Arenal Fitness. Second place went to Kerry King-Rahn of Fivex3 Training and Jennifer Killius of Iron Sport came in third.


Our winners of our Fun Group!!

In the Advanced Group, first place went to Paula Butler. We had a minor mishap with the scoring in the Advanced Group due to a spreadsheet error. At the contest, Tia Rodwell was awarded second place and Keri Halderman was awarded third place. Once we reviewed the spreadsheets more carefully, we noticed an error in the formula.


Our winners of our Advanced Group!

The second place winner was actually Kate Feeley of Iron Sport and Diane Pino of Crossfit King of Prussia was our third place winner. All of the ladies were very understanding of the mix up and we will  make sure to triple check our spreadsheet numbers next year!!!! Congratulations to all of the ladies!!


2nd Place winner in Advanced!


3rd Place winner in Advanced!

In the Pro-Amateur class, first place went to Ada Herbert of Art and Strength with 2nd place going to Patsy Shaffer of Crossfit Retribution and 3rd place going to Christine Roche of Crossfit Arenal Fitness. Congratulations ladies! Well deserved!


The winners of our Pro-Amateur Group!


Stephanie, Christine, Ada, Patsy and Maya – Our Pro-Am Group

And just like last year, the women were amazing. Everyone cheered for each other. Everyone clapped and screamed “You can do it!” to every single lady, whether they knew her or not. There was a lot of hugging. There was an incredible amount of of high-fiving. And there was a lot of cheering, whistling, screaming, shouting…by ALL the spectators.


Congratulating Em on her log press!

It was not just a day to watch women lift weights. It was a day to celebrate strength. It was a day to celebrate women, of all ages and backgrounds. It was a day to celebrate life.


Stephanie gets a high-five from her coach. ;)

Together, we made a difference in the lives of so many people. Most importantly, we made a difference in my life and my sister’s life. We helped raise a lot of money (A LOT of money!!!) for a great, great cause. We sent a message to my sister and to all of those women and men afflicted with cancer that they are not alone in this fight. We are with them, and we will help them. We will fight for them. We will  honor them. We will stand STRONG beside them.


Thank you for all of your support and generosity and strength. Emily and Diego

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Charm City Strongwoman 2014 Results Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:07:30 +0000 Read More]]> IMG_0088We will be putting together a full review post and video for the contest, but for now we wanted to get the final score sheets out.  We had a small spreadsheet error with the Advanced group which resulted in awarding second and third places to the wrong  competitors.  The top three per group are as follows:

Fun Group

  1. Tracy Pafel
  2. Kerry King-Rahn
  3. Jennifer Killius

IMG_0129Advanced Group:

  1. Paula Butler
  2. Katie Feeley
  3. Diane Pino

Pro-Am Group:

  1. Ada Herbert
  2. Patsy Shaffer
  3. Christine Roche

IMG_0005 2You can download the complete score sheets right here:

Fun group score sheet

Advanced group score sheet

Pro-Am group score sheet

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Got Protein? Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:53:28 +0000 Read More]]> index

 “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook”~ Julia Child

“So if I can’t eat this and I can’t eat that, what the HELL am I supposed to eat???”

This USED to be my reaction to food and eating. I always felt like I was at a loss when it came to eating and eating “right.” I like food. I like to eat. I like to chew. I like salt, fat and sugar. And over the years, I have learned to have all of those things…without going overboard. HOW? I learned to create better habits with my eating. I learned to see food as my friend, not my enemy. I have learned to EAT. When I have a beer, I drink a good one. And I enjoy it. When I eat those barbeque chicken bacon nachos from Annabel Lee Tavern, I eat them ALL. And I enjoy them. I enjoy my beer and my nachos because I can. Because 95% of the time, I am eating vegetables, fruit, lean meats, eggs, making protein shakes, drinking water, tea and yes, diet soda. (I LOVE my diet Mountain Dew so please, do not go hatin’ on my diet Mountain Dew. I drink it. I like it. And I will continue to drink it.

In fact, a study just came out about diet soda and weight loss.Do I bathe in diet soda? No, I don’t. But I like it. So I drink it. If you don’t like it, don’t drink it. I don’t like wine. So I don’t drink it. Glad we got that out of the way.)

But I digress. This post is about food, more importantly, about protein. I know many people who are very strong, active individuals, strength train on a regular basis and have considerable discipline when it comes to their training. However, when it comes to their eating, they don’t have a clue about what to eat, how much or how often.  This happen less so with mwn than with the women, most of whom are also eating considerably less than they should for their activity level. When they do eat, they are eating too little protein and wondering why their having difficulty with their lifts and/or struggling with their weight. For women who are trying to build muscle and/or lose fat, protein is a must. Protein feeds muscle and for women who strength train regularly, this is a necessity. In order to build muscle and then protect that muscle, protein is needed…and a lot more than you think. Protein helps you recover from your workouts, helps you digest your food better and helps keep you satiated longer.

Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition put out a great video about protein and how much you should be getting. Watch it here:

What is great about this video is 1. It was short. Win. 2. It was to the point.  However, after watching the video, do people really know how much protein they should be eating each day? Berardi does not necessarily believe in measuring or counting calories. And true, calorie counting is a little bit like guessing. But measurements are measurements. And honestly, if you are not measuring your protein, you really do not know how much you are actually getting. Once you have measured enough, then you will have a better idea of how much you are getting each day. You can try “guessing” but I really don’t believe in this. I believe in measuring cups, scales, tablespoons. I believe in looking at the package and reading labels. If you are guessing, I guarantee that you are getting too little protein and then over eating other foods because you are still hungry.

So how much protein do you need? For a very in depth article about this subject, you can check out Eirik Garnas’s post How Much Protein Do You Really Need? over on Bret Contreras’s site. Another great article just came out on T-Nation about the 10 mistakes that many women make when eating and wouldn’t you know, number 7 is not getting enough protein. 😉 You can read the article here.

For very active individuals, like those of us who strength training regularly, should aim for at least 1 gram of protein for every 1 pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 135 pounds, you should aim for 135 grams of protein. Weigh 155 pounds? 155 grams of protein. One of my lifters who trains regularly is struggling with this right now. When asked about her protein intake, she said “Oh, I eat like a pound and half of meat every day!” We asked if she wanted to take a bet on that. She said no and a few days later came back and said “Okay, so I said this but it was nowhere near that much.” I asked how much she really was getting and she said, “I am lucky if I get 50 grams.” That is not nearly enough for someone who is squatting, benching and deadlifting heavy. She should be consuming more to help her with her weight and her workouts. She should be getting at least to 140-150 grams. “I get 40 grams just in my breakfast,” I told her. “We have some work to do.” And she’s not alone.

Okay, Emily, so if I am supposed to get X amount of protein a day, then tell me what does 150 grams of protein look like???

Great question. I have broken down my day here for you so you can see what a typical day of eating looks like for ME. Everyone is different but this works for me and my needs and I am a creature of habit so I pretty much eat the same thing EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It makes it easy to keep me on track with my food. Generally, my Monday – Friday eating pretty much looks like this:

Breakfast #1: Egg scramble (2 eggs) w/ham, cottage cheese, vegetables, fruit and two Wasa crackers.

2 eggs – 12 grams

2 ounces of ham – 9 grams

1/2 cup of cottage cheese – 13 grams

Vegetables: handful of spinach, sliced cherry tomatoes, handful of red/green peppers, red onion – (a little protein)

1 cup of strawberries – 1.1 gram

1/2 cup of melon – 0.7 grams

Grand total: 38.6 grams


Breakfast #2: Strawberry/Banana Omelet (1 egg, egg whites, cottage cheese, Siggis skyr (yogurt with tons of protein), strawberries, banana)

1 egg – 6 grams

3/4 cup egg whites – 18 grams

1/2 cup of 2% cottage cheese – 13 grams

Siggis Plain skry (1 serving) – 15 grams

1 cup strawberries – 1.1 gram

1/4 banana – 0.3 grams

Grand total: 53.4 grams

This is just breakfast.

Egg scramble – Wasa crackers not shown

Strawberry/Banana Omelet

Strawberry/Banana Omelet


Lunch: Turkey burger w/large salad and rice

5 ounces of turkey burger – 30 grams

Large salad – 3.3 grams

1/2 cup of rice – 2.3 grams

Grand total:  34.5 grams

Lunch. Mmmm….

Now I am up between 73 grams and 87.9 grams, depending on which breakfast I have eaten.

I still have a protein shake, dinner and another snack to go as needed.

I train in the afternoon, right before my classes. After my session, I need food because I am running classes up until 8:30 at night. I typically drink a protein shake or eat a protein bar, usually around 6-6:30 or so and this will get me through until dinner at about 9pm. I eat late, but we have always eaten late, every since we have been together (10 years). 😉

Snack: Protein shake or protein bar (Quest protein bar has 20 grams of protein)

1 scoop of Casein protein powder – 24 grams

1 tablespoon of peanut butter

1/2 cup of almond milk (with protein)

Grand Total: 32.5 grams

After training shake

105 – 120.4 grams of protein and dinner still to come.

Dinner: On Monday and Tuesday night,  it’s chicken sausages. Wednesday, we eat at the diner and I’ll get a large salad with grilled chicken. Thursday is salmon and large salad and Friday is typically chicken kebob night. 😉

Dinner: Wednesday: Large Greek salad w/grilled chicken

8 ounces of grilled chicken – 50.7 grams

Large salad – 3.3 grams

Pita bread (May or may not eat this…depends on if I need the extra starch. The salads are HUGE at our diner.)

Grilled chicken and salad

Grand total: 54 grams

Target hit. 159 – 174.4 grams of protein. Boom.

During the week, I average between 150 to 170 grams of protein. And as you can see, just breakfast and lunch alone provided me with more than half of my protein intake.

But remember, with everything in life, you have to experiment. You have to start off slowly. If you can’t stomach whey or casein protein powder, don’t use it. Try a soy or rice protein powder. Or skip the protein powders altogether and instead of a protein shake for a snack, have Greek yogurt w/fruit or nuts or two hardboiled eggs w/vegetable slices, hummus with carrot sticks or an apple with cheese. All of these snacks are protein packed snacks. Protein shakes are quick and easy for me and I love them. They work for ME. Find a good protein filled snack that works for you. The key is to start of SLOWLY. It’s taken me a long time to learn to eat more protein. The goal is to shoot for 20-30 grams per meal. If you are not getting that right now, don’t stress. Start with one meal a day and then slowly build up to two meals a day. Your best bets are lean meats, beans, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, eggs, fortified Almond milk, whey or other protein supplements (as needed). Cheese and nut butters are more fat than protein so go easy here. Nuts too.

Keep in mind, I did not always eat like this. You can read about my food history here. Seriously. I never even ate a real breakfast until the summer of 2008 when I had had enough and sought out help from a trainer at my gym. While her workouts were complete bullshit, her nutrition advice was somewhat sound. Yes, she did put me on a typical body builder diet – the whole chicken and broccoli and rice deal – BUT what she really did was wake me up the the fact that 1. I was not eating enough 2. I was not eating enough protein 3. I was eating low fat and eating too much of that junk. I stopped eating my little sugary yogurt for breakfast, my frozen burrito for lunch and my soy cheese for a snack and I started eating eggs and spinach and brie and oatmeal and lean meats and Greek yogurt and over the past 6 years, I adjusted this and adjusted that until I found the right combinations of food that fueled me, helped me build muscle, lose fat and feel great. And I am STILL adjusting my meals. It’s a work in progress. I keep things simple. I eat mindfully, watch how much I eat and I stop when I am full (although there are times when I eat more than I should and I pay for it later. Oh well!)  Finding what works for you takes time and it takes patience. The only “diet” philosophy I subscribe to is EATING REAL FOOD. Although sometimes Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal calls my name and well, hey, I buy it. 😉 And I enjoy it.

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