Have you ever loved a restaurant for only ONE thing? Like, everything else you can do without - but that one thing they do - they do EXCEPTIONALLY well?

That's how I feel about Cafe Rio.

Literally everything else they make is forgettable - EXCEPT the Sweet Pork Barbacoa. That savory, sweet, smoky, meaty meat is the stuff that dreams are made of. So naturally, I had to take a crack at making my own version.


I think I get pretty close to capturing that essence - with a more macro-friendly approach, of course. Paired with my easy cilantro lime rice and a veggie of choice, it's the perfect meal that's filling without blowing your calorie budget - or your wallet.

Of course, you could make this recipe using pork. I just didn't have any on hand, didn't feel like going to the store, and darn sure didn't feel like waiting for it to cook in a crock pot/slow cooker. Ground turkey carries the flavor just as well.

Low Carb Ground Turkey Sweet Barbacoa (Yields 12 servings)
+ 1360g cooked 93/7 ground turkey (I buy in bulk from Costco, and this is approximately what I get from 2 packages of Foster Farms)
+ 14oz Coke Zero or Diet Coke*
+ 4 tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend*
+ 4 tablespoons tomato paste
+ 1 can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
+ 1 can chopped Hatch Green Chiles
+ salt, pepper, granulated garlic, onion powder, and cumin to taste

*Note: You can substitute these for regular Coke and brown sugar; just be advised that the macros will change - especially for the Splenda. 2 tablespoons of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend replaces an entire 1/4 cup of brown sugar.


Tools & Utensils
+ large pot
+ measuring utensils
+ can opener
+ cooking spoon
+ large bowl or container

Instructions
Over medium heat, add ground turkey, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and onion powder to taste. As the meat begins to cook, add in 6oz of Coke Zero/Diet Coke and 2 tablespoons of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend.

Stir until fully cooked meat crumbles form. Transfer meat from pot into a container and set aside.

Using the same pot, empty the can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, the remaining 8oz of Coke Zero/Diet Coke, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, can of Hatch Green Chiles, cumin to taste, and 4 tablespoons of tomato paste. Stir over low heat until a deep red sauce forms (about 5-10 minutes).


For a little more smoke and spice, feel free to sprinkle in some chipotle powder.

Once fully incorporated, add the cooked ground turkey back in; reduce to low heat and cover. Cook for 15-20 more minutes.

Let stand and cool slightly before serving - this will allow the meat to soak up more of the sweet, smoky juice.

Serve over cilantro lime rice with veggies and a few sprinkles of cheese (optional). Here's how I prepped mine for the week (with 100g of cilantro lime rice and 110g kale +smoked turkey):


Macros for Low Carb Ground Turkey Sweet Barbacoa
(Recipe = 12 servings; macros below are for 1 serving)
+ 272 calories
+ 31.7g protein
+ 6.9g carbs
+ 13.7g fat
+ 1.2g fiber
+ 5.4g sugar

FYI - if you got the equivalent amount of Sweet Pork Barbacoa from Cafe Rio (approx 6oz), it would set you back 384 calories, 26g of carbs, 26g of sugar, and 22g of fat - for only 16g of protein.

And as always - if you decide to give this recipe a go, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @30daysofdope! I'll be sharing my cilantro lime rice recipe next! 

Have you ever loved a restaurant for only ONE thing? Like, everything else you can do without - but that one thing they do - they do EX...

Easy, Delicious Waffles Under 100 Calories!

Not gonna lie, I'm a weirdo when it comes to food. Like, I abhor pancakes. I. Will. Not. Eat. Them.

Ever. Period.

But I LOVE a good waffle.

(This is the part where you tell me they're the same, and I agree with you - except for one thing.)

That one thing? TEXTURE. It makes a huuuuuuuuuge difference.To me, waffles should be crisp on the outside, airy and slightly bready on the inside. Do not serve me a dense, soft waffle EVER. I won't eat it - because at that point, it's just a pancake.

And you know how I feel about those.

Anywho, while riding this "stick as closely to your macros as you can" train, I came to realize that I'm an absolute wreck when it comes to weekend. My tracking gets lax, I make poor decisions, and end up feeling like crap come Monday. I did adjust my macros to reflect my increased likelihood to eat out on Friday (date night) and Sunday (brunch with family), but that left a gaping hole on Saturdays.

Saturdays around my house usually go one of two ways:
Option 1: Wake up, hit the gym around 6:30am. Come home, clean up the house. Leave to go somewhere with Samuel (usually errands or shopping), eat out. Do more errands/shopping, order food to go and come home. Eat, chill, sleep.

Option 2: Wake up, walk Bailey, clean the house, tend to the garden/lawn. Go to the gym. Eat some sort of counterproductive post-gym snack (Starbucks, Jamba Juice) while running errands. Order something out to eat at home, or eat out.
The common thread on both days? Pretty much starving until willpower is so low, we make poor decisions. 

I'm growing tired of hitting my head against the same walls, so I started with the most obvious solution first - COOK BREAKFAST.

So I did.

Easy, Delicious Waffles Under 100 Calories!

And the result was a beautiful, incredibly macro-friendly, low-calorie, satisfying waffle. Two of these babies, a couple of Trader Joe's chicken breakfast sausages, and smooth cup of coffee had me all the way right - so I HAD to share this recipe with you guys.

Under 100 Calories Waffles (Yields 11)
+ 2 cups Kodiak Power Cakes Buttermilk Flapjack and Waffle Mix
+ 2 cups milk (I used Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Cashew Milk)
+ 50g low-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel cheese works the same... I used the Market Pantry brand)
+ 3 teaspoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
+ 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used Trader Joe's bourbon vanilla)
+ cinnamon to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons or a little more - I love cinnamon!)
+ nonstick cooking spray

Tools + Utensils
+ mixing bowl
+ spatula or whisk
+ measuring utensils
+ waffle iron (I have these nifty plates that turn my griddle maker into a waffle iron)
+ cooling rack or some sort of aerated pan (to help maintain the crispy exterior) - I have this one

Instructions
Set your waffle iron to the desired setting. Also, turn the oven on to about 200-210 degrees F (or if you're fancy, a warming setting).

In your mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly.

If your cream cheese isn't soft, pop it in the microwave (not in the foil wrapper please) for 15-20 seconds so it's soft enough to blend easily by hand.

Easy, Delicious Waffles Under 100 Calories!

Add the cream cheese and milk to your mixture, along with the vanilla. Whisk until fully incorporated batter forms. I find that the combination of brown sugar (substitute), along with cream cheese gives the waffles a richness and warmth that's more satisfying than a regular ol' waffle.

But if you're short on macros, by all means, cut the cream cheese out and swap the Brown Sugar Splenda for stevia or another zero calorie sweetener.

As a matter of preference, if you are a thicker batter kind of person, feel free to add more Kodiak mix and adjust for macros. For even thinner batter, add water or more milk.

Once your waffle iron is hot and ready, spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Scoop or pour batter into each section, or work waffle by waffle depending on the type of iron you have.

Cook until desired crispness and color appears. My doodad flashes a green light when done, but I leave my waffles on (hence the color) a little longer, because I like 'em extra crispy.

Easy, Delicious Waffles Under 100 Calories!

When the batch of four is complete, I transfer them to my pizza pan that has holes in it (lol), because I haven't purchased a new cooling rack yet. Then, I pop them in the warm oven. This helps maintain the crispness while the rest of the batch cooks.

If you just toss the waffles into a Pyrex dish or regular pan, the steam they let off will cause them to sweat, and soggy waffle syndrome ensues.

Repeat the spray, cook, stash process until the entire batch is complete. Then serve.

That's it! Just make sure you store any leftovers in the fridge, or individually wrap and freeze them if you want them to last longer.

Macros for Under 100 Calories Waffles
(Recipe = 11 waffles; macros below are for 1 waffle)
+ 94 calories
+ 5.6g protein
+ 12.5g carbs
+ 2.5g fat
+ 1.8g fiber
+ 2.5g sugar

If you decide to give this recipe a go, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @30daysofdope!

Not gonna lie, I'm a weirdo when it comes to food. Like, I abhor pancakes. I. Will. Not. Eat. Them. Ever. Period. But I LOVE a go...

Fat Loss Update - 30DaysofDope IFFYM, Lifting Heavy for Women

:::clears throat:::

Anybody there? Is anybody still listening?

If so, thanks for sticking with me through the deafening silence as #30DaysofDope went well, silent. It's been about 8 months since I last posted an update that wasn't a recipe here, and a lot has changed.

I fell off. Bounced back. Fell off again. Bounced back. Ended one job. Started a new one. Fell off again. A lot of ups, downs, and just coasting through landed me in a situation I thought I'd never see again - being back at square one.

I got fed up, frustrated, and just annoyed with myself. Falling so far off was disheartening, but I knew I couldn't stay there - some things had to change.

The first thing I needed to do? Admit that I really, truly hadn't made a lifestyle change or commitment. I was riding a short-term wave, in 21-30 day bursts, then completely falling off the wagon.

In mid-January, I decided that enough was enough - and if I wasn't going to get into gear, I should just admit defeat and live with the reality of never actualizing my fitness goals. Coincidentally, I started a new job (dream job + dream location + dream team) in mid-January as well - so the first month was a slow crawl into creating the habits necessary to truly adopt a lifestyle.

I'ts now early June and I'm happy to report that although I'm far from my goals, I'm making positive progress in a way that feels sustainable for the long-term.

Here's a little snapshot of my progress thus far:

Fat Loss Update - 30DaysofDope IFFYM, Lifting Heavy for Women

Not a miraculous number of pounds or inches lost. No dramatic transformation. And I'm just fine with that - because the lifestyle I seek is a journey, not a destination. And I've drilled into my head that long-term consistency beats short-term intensity, every day of the damn week.

And here's the way I'm transforming the way I see this here journey:

How I'm Creating a Fitness-Based Lifestyle
Please note that I'm not an expert, and like many of you, I'm just trying to do what works best for me. If what's working for you works for you - then by all means keep doing it, boo!

#1 - Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutriton. NUTRITION!
Food will never not be a struggle for me. Not because I'm some kind of food addict (I mean, who doesn't enjoy a good tasting meal?) but I'm a straight up fool for some carbs. Not just the bready or pasta-y kind - but the sugary kind. Once I learned about macronutrients, my whole world got turned upside down. It seemed like everything I loved - from ketchup to cupcakes was filled with carbs.

Ugh.

Once I re-committed to this lifestyle, I re-activated my Avatar Nutrition profile and got back active in the Facebook group. I've learned SO much about what IFFYM/flexible dieting REALLY means, and how I don't have to eat "clean", and completely abandon or eliminate things I really enjoy. I'm learning the fine art of balance, moderation, and accountability thanks to my membership with Avatar.

Fat Loss Update - 30DaysofDope IFFYM, Lifting Heavy for Women
These are my regular daily macros, adjusted for higher intake on Friday and Sundays (when I'm most likely to go out).
I'm shying away from the "diet" mentality, and totally distancing myself from riding whatever fitness wave is popping. No clean eating or Whole 30. I'm cool on Paleo. And you couldn't get me to touch Keto with a 10 foot pole. No judgement, I know those diets (especially keto) are the hot shizz right now - but once I understood how macronutrients and caloric deficit work, I realized the ONLY "diet" that matters is the one I could maintain for the rest of my life without losing my sanity.

I personally love Avatar Nutrition because they take the guesswork out of macros and calories. You build a profile, set your goals, take your weight/measurements, and they'll calculate the macros/calories you need to make goal progress week by week. At every weekly check in, if your progress isn't on par, it'll adjust. They also allow you to customize your preferences as far as higher macro days, and whether you're more partial to carbs or fats.

Fat Loss Update - 30DaysofDope IFFYM, Lifting Heavy for Women
I share meal prep macros on Instagram! And recipes right here!
Once I got the hang of macros, measuring, and counting, I realized there's a LOT more flexibility in what I could have and still be on track. And mentally, that's a GREAT feeling. I've still got a lot of work to do with compliance (because life happens), but I'm not beating myself up. Forward is forward.

Click here for macro-friendly recipe ideas!

#2 - Get Moving
The best workout routine, much like the best "diet" is the one that you find enjoyable, palatable, and can stick to for the long haul.

For me, that's lifting heavy. I'm inspired by women like Massy Arias, Elisabeth Akinwale, Ashley Horner, Amanda Kohatsu, and Stefi Cohen - who are incredibly athletic, strong, and super motivational. They also know their ish when it comes to weightlifting and women's bodies.

Fat Loss Update - 30DaysofDope IFFYM, Lifting Heavy for Women

I love lifting weights, but I'm not a powerlifter. I enjoy being strong. Setting new PRs is always exciting. Being underestimated is fun. I've also learned in my journey that all these things get me pumped to hit the gym, but also align with my fitness goals. Yes I still do cardio. But I no longer see the gym as punishment for what I ate, or rely on the treadmill to "give me extra calories" for the day.

Yes, working out helps me create more of a caloric deficit, but for me it's about celebrating what my body can do. How far I've come, and how lifting heavy literally helps me transform into a different person. AHHHHHH I can't wait to finish this blog post and hit the gym! Today is bench press day and I'm lowkey addicted to it.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I've cycled through a few different plans - from Ashley Horner's Charlie Mike, to a few Jim Stoppani jams. I'm currently doing Shortcut to Strength with Samuel, which is perfect if you love squats, deadlifts, bench pressing, and that kinda stuff.

#3 - Take it One Day at a Time
My only competition is myself.
My only competition is myself.
My only competition is myself.

Instead of intimidating myself and thinking a year out or even a month out, I focus on each day. How each decision I make adds up to the bigger picture. Having a protein shake or proats for breakfast instead of stopping at Starbucks. Eating my meal prep even though it's Wednesday and I'm over grilled chicken. Waking up at 3am to hit the gym before work, because I  have zero interest in competing with the after work/rush hour workout crowd at my gym.

Eating that cupcake I want, because I know it's not going to wash my entire journey down the drain.

Fat Loss Update - 30DaysofDope IFFYM, Lifting Heavy for Women

#4 - Build Habits for the Long Term
The one thing that irks me about the whole "fitness" culture on social media is the desire for results quick, fast, and in a hurry. Personally, I think that's why so many people ride the keto wave, but that's another post for another time. I had to break from the mentality that carb blockers, teas, fat burners, and sweat belts would compensate for my poor eating and lackluster gym performance.

I had to get it through my thick skull that breaking with old habits is hard, but necessary. And that to achieve the goals I set, I was going to have to suck it up and replace those bad habits with better ones.

That means investing in a food scale so I can properly measure ingredients and meal prep the right way. It means getting to bed at a decent hour so I can wake up and perform in the gym. It means logging my food in MyFitnessPal daily, and drinking water instead of everything else under the sun.

It means finding new ways to enjoy the things I like, and understanding moderation.

It's not always sexy, fun, or fast. But it's the hard truth about what I'm doing so my later is greater than my former.

#5 - Find Ways to Stay Accountable
There's tons of articles about accountability everywhere - and it's definitely a different strokes for different folks kind of thing. I'm lucky enough to be engaged to a man that loves the gym (TBH it's how I even got started), and I use my Instagram to keep me accountable. I'm also going back to monthly check-ins here on the blog as another layer of accountability.That said, "see" ya'll in a few weeks for this June check-in!

That about wraps it up for me folks! My allergies are kickin', so I'm going to take a quick nap (hopefully it helps) before hitting the gym.

Catch y'all on Instagram and Instagram Stories @30DaysofDope! I'll be doing monthly check-ins here on the blog as a part of my accountability process!

:::clears throat::: Anybody there? Is anybody still listening? If so, thanks for sticking with me through the deafening silence as #3...

High Protein Funfetti Donuts (Grain Free + Keto Friendly)

I'll probably be in the minority once I say this but...

I don't like donuts.

I'm not sure when my taste buds flipped, but they did a total 180 on me - because I definitely loved donuts as a kid. Not so much anymore. It doesn't matter where the donut comes from, who makes it, or how legendary they are. If they're fried, I can ALWAYS taste the grease. For me, it overpowers the flavors and the sugar.

At this point, I've spit out enough single bites to know that I'm better off just avoiding them - unless they're baked. 

I loooooooove baked donuts. And when they're packed with protein, even better. So if you're looking for a more macro-friendly version of a donut, you can get your hole foods fix with this recipe!

By the way - you can definitely eat these for breakfast and not feel guilty. #spokenfromexperience

This recipe is also considered low carb, keto friendly and grain-free. I'm not doing keto, or grain-free, just sharing because I know those are very popular dietary options right now :)

High Protein Funfetti Donut Ingredients (Yields 6)
+ 2 scoops vanilla casein protein (I use Kaged Kasein in Vanilla Shake)
+ 4 tablespoons Splenda (Granulated)
+ 1/2 cup blanched almond flour (I use Trader Joe's)
+ 2 large eggs
+ 1/2 cup milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
+ 2 tablespoons light butter (Balade is my choice)
+ 3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
+ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
+ 1 pinch salt
+ 1 teaspoon baking powder
+ nonstick cooking spray

High Protein Funfetti Donuts (Grain Free + Keto Friendly)

Tools + Utensils
+ bowl
+ spatula or wisk
+ measuring utensils
+ storage bag or if you're fancy, a piping bag for icing
+ donut baking pan (I have this one but TBH this two pack is a better deal)
+ oven (lol)

Instructions
Set oven to 325 degrees F.

Dump all dry ingredients (except sprinkles) into your bowl and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Next, place butter into a microwave safe dish and zap it for a few seconds (or leave out until completely softened). Set aside.

Add wet ingredients to the mix, including eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla.

Stir until a thick, doughy batter forms. It should be a little on the dry side. You don't want super wet dough. I repeat - you do NOT want super wet dough. Trust me. They'll neeeeeeeeever finish baking if the dough is too wet.

After the mix has been thoroughly incorporated, add in sprinkles. Mix 1-2 more times, but don't over-mix the dough at this point.

Spray your donut pan with nonstick cooking (or baking) spray, wiping away any excess.

High Protein Funfetti Donuts (Grain Free + Keto Friendly)
SO much easier than scooping dough in. I'm mad it took me this long to figure it out.
At this point, you've got two options to transfer your dough to the baking pan. Option 1: scoop it in. I did this a few times, and it's a pain in the ass. But by all means, feel free.

Option 2: scoop your dough into a plastic storage bag, and squeeze all the air out before zipping shut. Take scissors and cut diagonally across the bag about 1/4 of an inch up from the corner. This will turn your storage baggie into a piping bag that makes it reeeeeeeally easy to fill each donut tin in the pan.

High Protein Funfetti Donuts (Grain Free + Keto Friendly)

For smaller donuts that don't lowkey overflow in the pan, fill no more than halfway in each hole. But me being me, I emptied all the dough to make 6 donuts total. If your dough somehow yields more than 6, don't forget to do the macro math and adjust accordingly.

After your donut pan is filled, pop those babies in the oven for 25 minutes, or however long it takes for them to pass the toothpick test.

These babies are best enjoyed warm - I highly recommend eating fresh from the oven. But if you're prepping for the week, store the remaining donuts in the fridge and zap in the microwave for a few seconds to reheat.

Enjoy!

Macros for High Protein Funfetti Donuts
(Recipe = 6 donuts; macros below are for 1 donut)
+ 164 calories
+ 12g protein
+ 9g carbs
+ 10g fat
+ 1g fiber
+ 3g sugar

If you decide to give this recipe a go, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @30daysofdope!

I'll probably be in the minority once I say this but... I don't like donuts. I'm not sure when my taste buds flipped, but...

Best High Protein Chili Recipe

Even though its been toggling between 75 and 80 degrees here in LA, I made chili for #MealPrepMonday. Because it's October.

And October = chili. 

Chili is the perfect one-pot, no fuss, no fail meal that's full of flavor for lunch and dinner, and holds up great in the fridge throughout the week.

This one-pot wonder is packed with protein, smoky flavor, and a hint of spice - thanks to two special ingredients. The combination of chipotle peppers and beer (low carb of course) give this chili a flavor profile to remember. Ready to hook this thang on up? Here's the recipe:

High Protein Chili Ingredients
+ 1/4 cup onions, chopped
+ 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
+ 1 can (198g) Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
+ 1 can (794g) Unsalted Crushed Tomatoes
+ 1 can (439g) Cooked Red Kidney Beans
+ 1 can (439g) Cooked White Kidney Beans
+ 1 can (439g) Cooked Black Beans
+ 1412g Cooked Ground Turkey (93/7 is what I used)
+ 8 Chicken Sausage Links (I used Ardell's Chickem with Pineapple & Bacon)
+ 1 bottle (330ml) Light Beer (I used Trader Joe's)
+ Seasonings (to taste - details under Instructions)


Tools & Utensils
+ cutting board
+ knife
+ stock pot or slow cooker
+ can opener
+ bottle opener
+ large spoon (I personally like wooden)
+ blender or hand mixer (I have this blender and this hand mixer)

Instructions
Spray your stock pot with non-stick cooking spray or a smidgen of oil. Over medium-high heat, saute onions and bell peppers until tender. Add ground turkey and season it with whatever you prefer. Bring the heat down to medium. For my chili, I used:

Best High Protein Chili Recipe

+ Himalayan Pink Salt (just a smidge)
+ Hawaiian Black Salt (a few pinches)
+ Granulated Garlic
+ Onion Salt Blend (The Trader Joe's version is amazing and lower sodium)
+ Cumin
+ Chili Powder
+ Ancho Chile Powder
+ Paprika
+ Black Pepper
+ Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (salt free)

While the ground turkey is cooking, plug in that blender or hand mixer and pour in the whole can of crushed tomatoes and the whole can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Blend until both are well incorporated, while still leaving some tomato chunks behind (on my blender, I used the 2 setting for about 40 seconds). This is your chili base - full of flavor and a lil' smoky heat.

Best High Protein Chili Recipe

Set the chipotle and tomato chili base aside and remove the cooked ground turkey with onions and bell peppers from the pot. It's sausage time. Grab your sausages of choice and slice 'em. For a more even spread, I sliced the sausages down the middle, then chopped into pieces.

Best High Protein Chili Recipe

Drop the sausage in the pot, allowing them to cook for 2-3 minutes. This is a good time to weigh out your cooked ground turkey for macro purposes. Once the sausages are sizzling, put the turkey back in the pot and stir.

Best High Protein Chili Recipe

Now, it's time to bean up the chili. Working with already cooked, canned beans saves tons of time. Feel free to swap beans and add your favorites like pinto or great northern.

Open all 3 cans of beans and dump them right into the chili pot - juice and all. We're not adding any water to this recipe, so you'll need that extra juice to make sure the chili doesn't cook down too quickly.

Best High Protein Chili Recipe

Next, pour in the chipotle and tomato base. Mix until completely incorporated and turn the heat down to low. Pop open that light beer and pour it right on in the pot. Light beer has way less carbs, and brings tons of flavor. The entire bottle I used had 8.9g of carbs.

Best High Protein Chili Recipe

Cover with a lid and let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns and sticks to the bottom of the pot. If you're not satisfied with the consistency of the chili, a hack I like to use is smashing beans around the edge of the pot. It helps thicken without the need for added stuff.

Once you've reached the desired consistency, you're done! Serve them bad boys up in a bowl or a meal prep container!

Best High Protein Chili Recipe

Macros for High Protein Chili 
(1 Pot = 15 servings; macros are for 1 hearty serving)
+ 360 calories
+ 31.7g protein
+ 23.1g carbs
+ 14.8g fat
+ 6.5g fiber
+ 7.8g sugar

Note: Most of the carbs in this recipe are from the beans. Some of the carbs and fat also comes from the sausage I used. Feel free to swap with a leaner sausage source for even better macros.

If you try this recipe out, let me know on Instagram or in the comments below!

Even though its been toggling between 75 and 80 degrees here in LA, I made chili for #MealPrepMonday. Because it's October. And...

30 Days of Dope August 2017 Update

August was a bit of a firey month for me. Something deep inside just clicked. Better food choices. Small improvements in weekend discipline. HUGE boosts in gym work ethics. It's all starting to fall into place...

Just in time for fall. #becauseimcorny

Here's what went down in August:

Healthy Eating
There's nothing like paying $9.99/month for a service to motivate you to act right. Even though I definitely slipped up in August (hi Susiecakes Cap'n Crunch & Strawberry Rose cupcakes), I made an effort to more closely track my macros with Avatar Nutrition and be more mindful on weekends.

I've had to fight some REAL urges to derail myself in August. I did have a mid-month slump where everything was basically rubbish. But I picked it up and powered through - fighting hard to stay on track. Especially during the last week. I really felt like I was on the verge of breaking, and then God would set up little scenarios to block it.

For example, on Tuesday of this week, I had to pass Susiecakes on the way to the freeway from Bailey's vet (updated vaccinations). I was tempted to swing in for a sweet treat - but then the FedEx man delivered a HUGE box to our doorstep. Samuel called, asking if I was expecting something.

I wasn't.

30 Days of Dope August 2017 Update

He said he wasn't, either. I had to abandon my sugary pit stop plans to race home and figure out who this big @$$ box was from, and for. Turns out, it was a work-related package for me.

The very next day, I got so buried in work that I didn't eat breakfast or lunch. I looked up at nearly 2, making plans to skirt out to Burger King (hello chicken fries and onion rings), and screw up royally. For the record, I like, hardly ever go to Burger King or McDonald's (especially since Hi-C Orange was discontinued) - so this craving was nothing but satan's sorcery. As if almost on cue, Samuel calls me. I ask what time he wants to go to the gym - he says as soon as he gets home from work (he was leaving early).

I no longer had time for Burger King.

Basically, God blockt me from screwing up - and I hope He continues to do so until I can really dial in on the nutritional discipline.

Working Out
I'm not going to mince words or be coy about it - August has been LIT workout-wise. Charlie Mike is in the books, and I posted some pretty impressive strength gains. I took like 1 rest day off, and then dove head-first into my new BodyBuilding.com plan - Jim Stoppani's 12 Week Shortcut to Size.

30 Days of Dope August 2017 Update

I mentioned in my July update that I missed some of the more traditional gym moves, and Shortcut to Size is giving me exactly what I was missing. It's been kicking my butt, and I definitely wake up more days sore than not - but I'm LOVING it. I haven't skipped a single workout day (I skipped 1 rest day to move ahead, lol) and I can honestly say I'm giving this program everything I've got. My goal is to lose fat by building muscle and gaining strength. Even if the scale doesn't move (but I pray it does), I want to look visibly different at the end of this program.

12 weeks is a long time, and I'll be damned if I finish looking like I did when I started.

Habit Building
I've been sticking to my Productive app, and having some success with it. I had zero skipped days which is an improvement over July, but only 1 perfect day where I hit every single thing I wanted to do.

I think it may boil down to me trying to perfect too many habits at once. For September, I'm going to dial back and focus on the habits that I struggled to hit in August (like making my bed every day), while removing the ones that are indeed habits at this point (like tracking my meals).

Progress
This is the part that has me the most excited. My future sister-in-law reminded me to take all my photos in the same outfit, so I've got a new end-of-the-month uniform. It's definitely helping me to see more of the changes that are happening and not rely so heavily on the scale (even though it's a necessary evil).

30 Days of Dope August 2017 Update

Small changes over time eventually will add up. I'm learning to pace myself, take things one day at a time, and be patient with my progress.

30 Days of Dope August 2017 Update

Highlights
+ I checked in every week on Avatar - whether I wanted to or not!
+ I FINISHED Charlie Mike
+ I embarked on a new workout plan and have not skipped a day
+ I'm building better habits and working on my accountability to self
+ I feel strong AF. Like, the strongest I've ever been and that feeling is AMAZING because I know I can only go up from here!
+ I dropped 2.4% body fat (based on measurements tracked by Avatar)

Challenges
+ I missed my 7lb weight loss goal for the month of August. Not a total L, but still shy of what I had hoped.
+ I was only about 50/50 compliant with my macro targets - which is more than the 25% from July, but short of my 60% goal for August
+ I think I'm trying to create too many habits at once. I keep missing out on one or two things per day - whether it be making my bed or drinking ACV in the morning.

30 Days of Dope August 2017 Update

September Game Plan
+ Not miss a single Shortut to Size workout
+ Aim for 75% compliance with Avatar
+ Retool my habits in the Productive app to focus on the 3-4 most important habits I wish to build.
+ Keep feeling strong, and keep a positive mindset!

I'm excited, encouraged, and determined to make September excellent. Granted, I'm taking a short vacay in Vegas for a few days this month, but our strip hotel has a gym inside so... #noexcuses

On the food tip tho, pray for me. Vegas ain't nothing but buffets, fried food, and alcohol. 😂

August was a bit of a firey month for me. Something deep inside just clicked. Better food choices. Small improvements in weekend discipli...

#30DaysofDope - July 2017 Update
July felt like training wheels, honestly.

More specifically, that point where you're feeling like a confident, two-wheelin' pro, and literally BEG to have the training wheels taken off your bike because, you got this.

And then you fall.

But even though you fell, you fell forward. It stings, hurts your pride a lil' bit, but ultimately results in growth.

Yep, that's July in a nutshell.

Here's why.

Healthy Eating
At this point in the game, I'm a #mealprep pro, and pretty much addicted to grilling protein. Meal prepping is literally a part of my life at this point. Monday thru Thursday is never the problem. The problem - consistency, and without fail - is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admittedly, I meal prep to last the duration of the work week (Monday-Friday lunchtime), and pretty much spend the weekend in a freefall.

I'll be the first to admit that you can easily undo a week's worth of disciplined eating and hard work in a weekend at Cheesecake Factory, Hooters, BJ's, Lucille's, and everywhere else. For the larger part of July, that's been the struggle. My only saving grace has been Friday being a cheat/higher macro day, which offsets some of the damage from the rest of the weekend (or at least I'd like to think so).

The end result, to be honest, is me feeling like I'm "starting over" to regain the previous week's progress every Monday.

And this is where my re-investment in Avatar Nutrition comes in.

#30DaysofDope - July 2017 Update

Back in March, I took a leap of faith and signed myself up for Avatar Nutrition, seeking increased accountability, support, and more targeted approach to nutrition in support of my fitness goals. I'm in no way sponsored by Avatar Nutrition, and surely do pay my $9.99 per month like every other member. I used it diligently from March to April, and pretty much fell off until July (all while still paying for it😑).

At the top of July, I checked in, updated my profile, and got knee deep into the private Facebook group. This time around, I'm committed to getting every penny of my $9.99 from Avatar Nutrition. So far, I've been sticking to my weekly check-ins, and working to become more compliant with my macros. It's a struggle, but I'll get there.

Working Out
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I kicked off late June starting a workout routine from BodyBuilding.com called Charlie Mike, with Ashley Horner. I was looking for a targeted workout program that was going to stretch me, challenge me, and teach me.

#30DaysofDope - July 2017 Update

And let me tell you - I got just that. Because of travel and a few other commitments, I'm about 2 weeks behind completion on the program. I should've been done earlier, but I'm finishing week 6 of 6 this week. Charlie Mike is not a workout program for a beginner, or for the faint of heart - there are some pretty intense and pretty heavy lifts involved. There's even some workout moves that I struggled through or skipped altogether because they were above my capabilities (looking at you burpees, man makers, and wall walks).

And while I'm proud of myself for learning some new moves - barbell thrusters, push presses, clean & jerk, kettlebell windmills and more - I won't lie. I miss fundamental stuff like curls, and rows, and lat pulldowns and whatnot. As this is my final week of Charlie Mike, I'm on the prowl for a new program that will continue to challenge me with crossfit/powerlifting moves combined with more traditional exercises.

#30DaysofDope - July 2017 Update

Of the entire 6 week program, I only pressed "skip workout" twice - which ain't too shabby if you ask me. Overall, I'm proud of myself for getting uncomfortable, trying new things, and pushing past moves I didn't think I could do.

Habit Building
One of the MAJOR things I lacked during previous #30DaysofDope cycles was a true mechanism for habit building. I've long since proven to myself that just writing down goals was not effective enough for me. In fact, I revealed in this post that I couldn't even find my dang goal journal in July. Not only did I completely re-write my 2017 goals over mid-year, I came up with a more decisive plan of attack to support them.

That's where this newfangled (to me) app called Productive comes in. It's literally an app devoted to helping you create and track habits and goals. I went ahead and splurged $3.99 for the full version, and I'm so happy I did. Since the day I installed it, I've been on a mission - breaking down each goal into daily or weekly habits that I know will ultimately lead to my success.

I'll dive into this app more in a future post, but for now just know - I have reminders set for everything from make our bed, to track my macros and drink water.

Interested in seeing what the Productive app is all about? Click here to check it out!

Progress
Folks usually drop progress pics for likes and accolades, but I'm not interested in all of that. This is about two things - accountability, and tracking visible progress. I'm not ashamed to admit that a whole lot didn't change in July. Because, training wheels. Anywho, I'll be dropping month-to-month comparison shots, in an effort to more consistently track my journey.

#30DaysofDope - July 2017 Update

Highlights
There were some definite wins in July. I managed to:
+ Set NEW goals for 2017
+ Stick to my weekly check-ins with Avatar Nutrition
+ Make it to week 6 of Charlie Mike
+ Create a system of developing new habits for myself
+ Drop 3.4% body fat (based on measurements tracked by Avatar)

Challenges
+ I set a goal to lose 7lbs per month. My beginning and end of the month weight didn't really change, but my measurements did a little bit. It's not a total L, but August definitely leaves room for opportunities.
+ I was out of compliance with my set macros for the majority of July.
+ Even with my Productivity app, there are some days where I skip out on meeting my water intake goal, drinking my ACV, or even forget to track macros.

August Game Plan
As I said in the beginning of the blog post, July was all about training wheels - getting back in the groove of things. August, I'm turning things up a notch. My game plan is to:
+ Find a new workout plan to pick up where Charlie Mike left off - integrating traditional weight exercises with crossfit style lifts
+ Be compliant with my macros for at least 60% of August thru September 1 (Fridays are my check-in days for Avatar Nutrition)
+ Have a PERFECT month streak with my Productive app - meaning I hit every goal, every day.

Wish me luck guys! I can't wait to see where I land in September!

Want more day-to-day information on my journey? Follow me on Instagram!

July felt like training wheels, honestly. More specifically, that point where you're feeling like a confident, two-wheelin' pro,...