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!

 
Having been bodybuilding for over a year now, it’s pretty safe to say that I’ve done my fair share of taste testing and research when it comes to finding new and unique protein sources. And since this industry has really taken off lately, there are some pretty cool options out there that I’d love to share with you.

Now, having said that, keep in mind that nothing beats real protein from real food, but having some alternatives lying around the house or the office can sometimes make achieving your macros easier on a really busy or hectic day.

Here are a few unique protein options I’ve stumbled across in my time. Check them out!

1)       Ostrich Meat

What is it?

If you like beef jerky, you may like these unique protein sticks from OStrim. These sticks are made of a combination of Ostrich and Beef meat, and make for a great ‘on-the-go’ snack. I’ve tried BBQ and Teriyaki in the past and so far I much prefer the Teriyaki.

Benefits?

A great source of 14g of protein with only 80 calories and 1.5g of fat – super lean! I always make sure I have some in the house in case I need a quick boost.

The downside?

They are a bit of an acquired taste and there is 430mg of sodium in one stick. Just make sure to keep your water intake up and you will be ok. In terms of the taste, I got used to it.  

What to eat it with?

Great accompanied with an apple or a cheese string!

2)      MuscleGel

What is it?

These funky little squeeze packs contain a super flavorful gel-like substance that packs an awesome nutritional profile! Key lime is my favorite so far!

Benefits?

Each pack contains only 96 calories and 2g of carbs but weighs in at a whooping 22g of protein! What’s even better? They are fast, convenient, tasty and low sodium!

The downside?

These little power packs won’t just help you lean out your physique; they will also lean out your wallet. Be prepared to pay a pretty penny for these babies, but honestly, it’s well worth it!.

What to eat it with?

Eat it alone or combine it with a piece of fruit and some nuts for a complete snack!

3)      Protein Gelatin

What is it?

Think of those yummy jello snacks you used to love eating as a kid. Now imagine it was filled with protein – you’ve got yourself a Pure Protein, protein snack! I’ve never tried these myself, but I plan to because I LOVE JELLO!

Benefits?

At 100 calories, 0g of sugar, 2g of carbs and 22g of protein, these quick and easy jelly bowls hold a great nutrition profile.

The downside?

Some people argue that the ingredient profile isn’t the best, but I will leave that up to you.

What to eat it with?

Try it topped with a bit of low fat cool whip or mix it with some mandarin oranges or berries for a delicious dessert!

4)      Bottled Protein Tea

What is it?

Do you like chilled tea? Well then this product is for you! Grab a bottle of this green or black tea and flood your body with 40g of Ion Exchange Whey Protein in one beverage! Again, I haven’t tried this myself but I’ve read great reviews on bodybuilding.com!

Benefits?

40g of protein, 8,880mg of BCAA;s, preservative free, lactose free and fat free. And filled with flavanoid antioxidants from the tea!

The downside?

From what I’ve read, it’s not very filling, so be prepared to want to eat it with something else.

What to eat it with?

Have it on it’s own or combine it with a piece of whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter to enjoy a complete meal.

5)      Elite Liquid Protein Shot

What is it?

If you have ever tried an energy shot, then you get the idea of this pocket protein companion. The Dymatize Elite Protein Shot is 2oz bottle filled with Biopeptides, Whey Protein Isolate, Casein Protein Isolate with added L-Glutamine.

Benefits?

For only 99 calories you get a tasty treat that includes no added Sugar or fillers, 0 carbs, 0 fat and 25 grams of protein per serving.

The downside?

Like some of the others, this isn’t a very filling protein source. So, if you are one to get hungry all the time, this won’t satisfy your hunger needs.

What to eat it with?

Fill up with something fiber packed, like some fiber cereal, raspberries or avocado on multigrain toast to satisfy your hunger.

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Looking to try something new with your protein shake? I've got a delicious recipe for you!

In a magic bullet or similar blender, mix together:

- 1 cup of water
- 1 scoop of vanilla Myofusion protein powder (Gaspari Nutrition)
- 2.5 tablespoons of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just pumpkin)
- A dash of clove spice
- A dash of allspice 
- 1 package of Stevia sweetener
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract 

Enjoy! So delicious! 
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Waking up in the morning can be tough - especially when you're training hard and eating in a deficit. So what's my trick to getting myself out of bed in the early morning? Having an amazing breakfast to look forward to! And that breakfast is my Protein Pancakes. 

There are a lot of different types of protein pancake recipes out there - and trust me, I've experimented - but this recipe that I threw together is by far the best tasting and easiest to do. So here is it folks, Kristen's Infamous Protein Pancakes recipe!

The Pancakes...

In a blender (magic bullet works best), mix together:
- 150g egg whites
- 15g oatmeal 
- 1 package of stevia sweetener
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract 

Blend for approximately 1 min. 

Once blended, heat a small omelette pan on the stove top (medium heat) with 1/2 tsp of olive oil in it. Then pour half the batter in. When you are able to lift the sides of the pancake, allow any of the liquidy batter to fall under the edges to ensure it is all cooked. When it's nice and brown underneath, flip it to cook the other side. 

Do the same with the rest of the batter and another 1/2 tsp of olive oil. 

Once complete, top with Molly McButter butter flavoring and Walden Farms Pancake Syrup and enjoy!!
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