Thank you, thank you, thank you! To everyone who has loyally followed me on this blog for many years. I wanted to let you know that my new blog is now on my website www.kristenadamson.com and it is called 'Exhale & Elevate'. Please do follow me along there as I will be updating that blog almost daily.

Thanks!
Kristen Adamson
 
I pledge to embrace the year 2012 and all its ups & downs.

This year I will remember that life is a journey, not a battle.
That happiness is within my control, not a result of spontaneous happenings.
That I can honestly do or be whatever I want to, I just have to make a choice.

This year I promise to love myself unconditionally, and be OK with what makes me, me.
To enjoy things at present, to welcome things in future and to never lose sight of things that have past.

This year I’ll never regret my actions or decisions.
I’ll never put myself down.
And I’ll never lose sight of my values and beliefs.

2012 will me my year.

Not the beginning of a new me, but rather the continuation of a ‘me’ in bloom.

If you want to take the pledge with me, share this posting on your personal Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kristen.adamson#!/photo.php?fbid=296411397072083&set=a.178360032210554.47497.177029939010230&&theater
 
Planning your diet is key when it comes to a successful weight loss, muscle building or healthy maintenance program. But it's also one of the most difficult and overwhelming parts!

But not anymore! I've been building a unique Excel based program which provides you with everything you need to design a personalized meal plan that will help you achieve results - whether your goal is cutting, building or maintaining!

Based on the nutritional guidelines that I follow myself , you will be able to build out a customized meal plan that suits your workout schedule with ease. Simply by entering four numbers, this tool will strategically develop a nutrition profile equip with calories and macro-nutrients divided into 7 meals. And what's even better, is that this tool is designed to complement when you train - Morning or Afternoon. By using this tool, you will ensure that your body gets the right types of food, in the right amounts, during the right times of day. Then, you have full control over what you choose to eat to meet those meal profiles!

The toolbox program will include:
        - A meal distribution calculator
        - A recommended food list equip with nutritional information
        - A meal planning tool, auto-populated with individual meal macro information    
          based on your targeted Calories & Macros
        - A list of tips and tricks from Kristen herself, and,
        - An FAQ document to answer all those burning questions!

Who will benefit from this tool?
Anyone looking to strategically design a meal plan to help them achieve their desired results - be that fat loss, muscle building or maintaining. This tool works best for someone who has a relatively 'inactive' job, attends school full time or is a stay at home parent. If you have a very active day job I do not recommend this tool box for you as it is designed to distribute meals so that you receive most of your energy in the morning and pre/post workout. Someone with a very active day job may find they lack the energy they require throughout the day to perform effectively if they use this tool. 

Stay tuned! It's coming soon!

(This program is being designed with Microsoft Excel 2003)
 
Since the fall is upon us, why not start your days with a protein packed, pumpkin inspired meal! These pancakes are delicious!

Batter Ingredients
- 150g Egg Whites
- 15g of Oatmeal
- 1/3 cup of pure mashed pumpkin
- 1 package of stevia
- 1 box of raisins (14g)
- Pumpkin Spice
- Cinnamon

Butter Ingredients
13g of Natural Peanut Butter
1.5tbsp of Pure mashed pumpkin
1 package of stevia

Directions
Combine all of the batter ingredients in a blender - the magic bullet works best - and cook half the batter on medium to high heat in a non-stick pan. Before turning the pancake over to cook the other side, strategically place half of the raisins in the batter so that they are evenly spaced out. Now flip the pancake and continue cooking it until golden brown on both sides. Do the same with the other half of the batter.

To make the butter, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl until the butter is smooth. If you'd like to make it less thick, add in a few drops of water until you reach the desired consistency.

Before indulging in this yummy meal, spread the butter on top of the pancakes and sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Delish!

Approximate Nutrition
293 calories
7.5g Fat
30g Carbs
24g Protein

 
As many of you know I have a disorder called, Premature Ovarian Failure (A.K.A Premature Ovarian Insufficiency) which means I have a 0-5% chance of conceiving naturally – and it decreases with age.

As much as I have grieved and been able to move past my diagnosis in many ways, it is something that is always in the back of my mind. I want nothing more than to be a mother, and it would be a dream come true if I could conceive my children naturally someday.

The Conflict
When I began my journey into health & fitness, I began it for a few reasons:
1.       To lose 50lbs+ of unwanted fat & feel better than ever.
2.       To challenge myself in ways I had never done before – competing in Figure.
3.       To help me regain control over my life after a stream of adversities.
4.       To strengthen my back, neck, shoulders, knee etc. after my accident in 2007. And,
5.       To put my body in the healthiest hormonal and fertile state possible so that I have a
           better chance of being one of the few women who to conceive naturally.

The truth is, two of my biggest life goals right now – to compete in figure and to obtain optimal hormonal and fertility health – are quite conflicting. As I’ve learned more and more about bodybuilding in the traditional way, I’ve learned that it is in no way a healthy sport.

Typically bodybuilders experience drastic hormonal fluctuations, significant wear and tear on their bodies, declines in their immunity and often rely on chemical or artificial supplements to get them through the day. Not to mention, when it comes close to competition, some are severely dehydrated and outrageously lean (not in a good way).

To put it simply, bodybuilders basically tend to experience everything you DON’T want if you’re trying to obtain optimal hormonal health or conceive.

So a few months ago I came to a fork in my journey. I had an epiphany and suddenly felt I was faced with two decisions:
1.       Keep training for figure, OR
2.       Stop training for figure and start focusing on my fertility and hormone health.

This thought weighed heavily on me.

On one hand, I have worked so hard to get to where I am in order to compete – and I am trying to build myself a name in this industry around it. And on the other hand, I would give ANYTHING to conceive naturally – so why not make that my ultimate goal?

After much thought and deliberation, a few conversations with the people I love and a handful of sleepless nights, I’ve decided what I want to do. And so, since I am a planner by nature, I’ve mapped out my newest goals and my latest approach and I’d like to share it with everyone.

The Shift

What my family reminded me when I was having this discussion with them, is that it is often women who focus too much on their infertility issues that do not conceive naturally – and they are right.

Women who tend to stress or put an extreme amount of pressure on themselves (when it comes to getting pregnant) are often counterproductive in their attempts. This is because stress can literally ruin your body from the inside out and prevent it from functioning properly.

So rather than putting their bodies in a healthy state so that it can heal itself, they are creating an almost toxic environment within – both mentally and physically.

With that being said, I’ve decided to combine options 1 and 2 above and create a new option:
3.       Keep focusing on competing in Figure, but do it in the healthiest way possible.

It’s going to be harder, more expensive and probably timelier, but it will help me take steps closer towards both of my goals. Why should I have to choose one or the other?

What This Means

When is comes to training and dieting, this means that I will be changing my food choices, switching to natural supplements and being considerate of what I am putting in my mouth and how I am moving my body. So basically, whatever I do or consume must support both of my goals.

· I will be switching my bodybuilding supplements over to natural products and avoiding heavily processed, chemical brands:

          New Protein: BioX’s All Natural Power Whey (with added digestive enzymes)

          New Pre-Workout: Green Tea and/or Green Tea Extract

          Intra-Workout: Will remain XTEND for now (may research others)

· I will be strategically supplementing vitamins and minerals:

         Progressive’s Vege Greens – For antioxidants, phytonutrients, EFA’s and other
         health boosting ingredients.

          Maca – For fertility support.

          Calcium & Vit. D – To maintain strong bones as I am at high risk for Osteoporosis
          and consume a lot of protein regularly.

          ON’s Opti-Women Multivitamin – For overall support.

          Co-Q10 – For heart support, since I’ve faced past issues.

          Omega 3’s – For brain and cardiovascular support and to ensure I am getting my
          omega 3’s in my day as my diet may not supply them.

          B12 – For metabolic and central nervous system support (I’ve been deficient in the
          past).

          Glucosamine & Chondrotin – for bone, cartilage and joint support (needed due to
          my accident in 2007)

          Vitamin C – For antioxidant and immunity support

· I will be maintaining the monitoring of my macronutrients and calories. For now I will be aiming for 50%protein, 25% carbs and 25% fats to help reach my figure goals. This may change overtime to continue reducing my body fat% further, in order to compete.

· I will no longer be consuming artificial sweeteners. Stevia will be my replacement.

· I will limit myself to one coffee a day, and if I need another ‘kick’ I will turn to green tea.

· A larger portion of my carbohydrates will come from high antioxidant fruits and a broad array of veggies/super foods.

          Such as: Blueberries, cranberries, spinach, pumpkin, celery, radishes, Quinoa,
          apples, cabbage, carrots, peppers, cucumber etc. 

· I will add in a regular yoga and/or meditation session every week for flexibility, healing and emotional/mental support.

· I will continue to omit alcohol from my diet but will allow myself red wine only on special occasions.

I understand that some people will disagree with my approach, not identify with my thinking and/or find my goals to be counterproductive. But if there is one thing I’ve learned through my 2 year fitness endeavor thus far, it’s that you have to do it for you!

No two bodies are exactly alike, and no two people have experienced the same emotional, spiritual and physically journeys in their lifetime. This plan is created with my body and goals in mind, and I highly encourage other people to customize their own plans.

I believe bodybuilding can be a healthy sport if you work hard enough at it, and are willing to put in the time and money – and I am.

So stay tuned!

 
One of the most common questions I get asked is "How did you pick yourself up after understanding your diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)?". So today I've decided to address it head on.For those of your who don't know what POF is, it is more recently described as Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) and essentially means the ovaries have stopped functioning the way they are intended to. Some would describe it as Premature Menopause; however, physiologically speaking that is incorrect. But let's just put it this way - the symptoms are pretty much identical. 

In my opinion though, understanding the disorder is microscopic in significance when compared to understanding the psychological aspect. Women who are diagnosed tend to experience a constant roller-coaster of emotions and unfortunately, some women never find a way to prevail.

My hope is that by sharing the thought process I used to triumph over my diagnosis, I may be able to help inspire a new way for other women to view theirs.

So here it is:

How did you pick yourself up after understanding your diagnosis?

Dealing with this diagnosis is extremely tough.

What many POF patients, and many onlookers, don’t seem to realize is that in order to move forward, the diagnosed woman needs to go through an entire grieving cycle. This should be approached just as a death is – you must let yourself grieve.

In case you are unfamiliar, the grieving cycle looks like this:
  • Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
  • Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
  • Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
  • Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
  • Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
  • Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
  • Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.
(http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/kubler_ross/kubler_ross.htm)

Some people go through the cycle fast, and some people don’t. I, personally, went quite quickly, but that isn’t always the case.

There are many places where we can get stuck in this cycle and there are many places where we can find ourselves right back at the beginning. It all depends on the person and their support systems. I can’t tell you what you need to do to get there, but I can tell you how I personally arrived at ‘acceptance’ myself.

What I realized one day is that I had to let it go. This was the body I was granted with and the situation I was placed in. I can’t control whether or not I actually conceive naturally one day, so instead I decided to seek for what I could control – I re-focused. What I eventually established is that I could control two things: My health/wellbeing and my mind.

In my mind, I still have hope to conceive naturally one day (I would NEVER suggest giving up, or losing hope), but instead of weighing myself down with thoughts such as “why me?” and “this isn’t fair” – which are nothing but added weight on my shoulders – I’ve decided to put energy into building the healthiest me possible.  

By becoming healthy and strong physically, I have the peace of mind in knowing that, should my path in life result in a spontaneous pregnancy, I am healthy enough to carry it to term. And this, in turn, has made me healthier mentally.

I made a conscious decision to not let this diagnosis define me. I am not Kristen Adamson with POF, I am Kristen Adamson and I can be whoever I want to be.

Just because I have this diagnosis does not mean I cannot be a mother someday.

Truthfully, it is often the dwelling that bears down on our bodies, creating unnecessary stress. And when our bodies are under stress, chemical reactions occur within that can hinder its ability to work effectively.

So, I have chosen to remove that stress and allow my body to work on functioning the way it was intended to, and to support that decision, I have decided to nourish it with nutritious, whole foods and happy thoughts daily.

I know it isn’t easy, and in all honesty, I still have really really tough days - and that's completely normal when faced with this type of circumstance - but what I remind myself regularly is that I cannot focus on the outcome being ‘getting pregnant’ and having a child that is biologically mine. My focus must be on accepting me for me. I have to love myself in my entirety. And should I be destined to be the biological mother of my children someday, that will be the cherry on top.

Deciding to accept it was a conscious choice I had to make. I had to decide it was time to move on and focus my energy on something positive instead.

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Whether we choose to notice it or not, I believe that every day at least one thing makes us happy.

Happiness is a funny thing. We are lead to believe that one day we will experience it or that at some point in the future we will achieve it; when really, happiness is everywhere.

It’s not some big ‘a-ha!’ moment in our lives, but rather, it’s a tiny little spark of emotion that we can either choose to foster, or ignore.

Let me explain.

I sat down tonight and randomly decided to make a list. I don’t know why, but I just felt like I had to follow this instinct.

The list was to be of things that make me happy. And it began like this…

·       Watching ‘Friends’ episode re-runs at every opportunity possible
·       A glass of red wine with my love or my friends
·       Soaking in the tub, listening to music
·       The smell of coconut oil
·       Watching cartoons or animation movies on Sunday’s
·       Etc. etc. etc.

What I began to notice was that these things were in my control. And, yes, they may not be significant experiences that encourage an overwhelming sense of joy, but they are small occurrences that make me feel good.

So I asked myself, why am I just realizing this now? Why haven’t I ever thought about what inspires that little spark of positive emotion before? I thought, if I could just compile a decent list of these things, I could pick one when I was in need of a blissful boost.

So I continued making my list:

·       A cup of herbal tea, lightly sweetened
·       Knowing I can sleep in the next day
·       Reading fitness magazines
·       Watching babies make new discoveries
·       Stars in the night sky
·       Listening to the sounds of the waves
·       Sun rises and sun sets
·       Having my morning coffee
·       Achieving a new personal record in the gym
·       Etc. etc. etc.

This list making became super easy. I just kept writing and within minutes I had two hand-written pages of simple, controllable things that make me feel a sense of happiness. I literally had to stop myself or I wouldn’t have anything to write the next time I choose to do this – and I will. 

What this task reminded me was that life is truly what you make of it. We can either focus on what’s stressing us out and what’s out of our reach, or we can step back and focus on controlling what we can – our emotions, our outlook and our actions.

It reminded me of the wise words written by one of my idols – Karen Sampson. As a child, this woman inspired me tremendously, and continues to every day of my life.

In a document stored on her laptop, found after passing from a long term battle with Cancer, Karen at age 37 had written:

“By some absolute miracle, I learned early on that in spite of what was happening inside my body, I could control my mind.” – Karen Sampson

Yes, we all have our bad days. And yes, we all face stressful situations. But if we can learn to be in command of that little spark of emotion, we can create our own joy during even some of our toughest encounters.

So I encourage you to self reflect. What makes you happy? What ignites that flicker of enjoyment in your life?

Literally make a list for yourself and make it a goal to do at least one of these things every day. I bet what you’ll quickly notice is that you already do –you probably just weren’t aware of it before.

Like I said previously, I believe that every day at least one thing makes us happy. We just need to learn to foster it and appreciate it more.

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As you know, water is essential. But often, individuals are confused by how much to consume in order to be adequately hydrated. Is the standard ‘8-10 glasses a day’ enough for athletes? And how much is enough for an inactive person?

Well, worry no more! Follow these guidelines to figure out what our body requires to perform optimally:

Average, In Active Individuals:
· 1ml of water is required per kilocalorie ingested, per day
· For instance, 2200 kcal diet = 2200ml/day (9 cups)

Active Individuals or Athletes:
· 2500 to 3000mls (10 –12cups) per day, PLUS,
· 600 to 1200ml (2.5 – 5cups) during exercise per hour, and
· 750 to 1500ml (3 – 6cups) post exercise per hour.
· For instance, if an athlete were to workout for 1 hour on a particular day, over the span of that day they would have consumed 15.5 – 23 cups of water. This equates to 3.67 – 5.44 Liters.

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It may not be relevant to health and wellness, but it is an event that impacted millions  of lives. So, I feel it is my obligation to share with you a poem I wrote just weeks after September 11th 2001.

We Won’t Forget

We won’t forget September 11th - the day that changed our lives,
The screams of horror and pain we heard will never clear our minds.

We won’t forget the twin towers that came on crashing down,
And all the heroes that risked their lives for strangers in their town.

We won’t forget the passengers that warned the world about,
The hijackers that had no heart who started all the shouts.

We won’t forget the cloud of dust that made the people run,
And all the painful memories on the date of nine one one.

We won’t forget the innocent, who died in this event,
The pain their families suffered is still so evident.

From all of this we’ve come to see what life’s trying to say,
STOP the hatred and harmfulness and lend a hand today.

This poem is dedicated to all the people who suffered in this tragic event.  May your God give you strength.

 By Kristen Adamson

(written days after the September 11th incident)

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You’re staring at a pile of laundry stacked up to the ceiling and, frankly, you couldn’t care less. Just then, you get a text message from your friend, “I’m coming to pick you up, we’re going out tonight!” it reads. You’re excited about the invite, but there’s one tiny problem – your favorite shirt is dirty! Oh well, no big deal, you think to yourself – and without hesitation, you pop your shirt directly into the wash while you go get ready for your outing. If you’re anything like me, you have to find the motivation to do something before you will actually do it – and fitness and nutrition are no exception!

So why is it that when we embark on a fitness journey, we put so much focus and energy into perfecting our diet and training plans, but we tend to overlook creating a plan to help us stay motivated?

CLICK HERE to read more of my newest article on muscleandstrength.com and to learn how to build a motivational plan.