After one month of working with Ray, I am pleased to announce huge progress. This did not come without dedication and commitment.  I was disciplined even while on vacation in Mexico in large part because I did not want a bad conversation with Ray when I got back.

As I’ve learned from training last time I competed, I knew preparation was key.  I let Ray know about the trip, the type of equipment they had at the gym which enabled him to adjust my workouts, and I knew to bring my protein powder.  While  in Mexico, I adjusted my meal plan based on what I could find to eat and did my best to eat lean protein.  Each morning I had a container of yogurt and 1/2 cup of oatmeal, for lunch I had a huge salad with a variety of protein which would change based on what was featured at the buffet.  Some days it was ceviche, other days it was chicken, and some days it was tuna with lime juice.  For dinner, I was able stay on track with protein and 8oz of potato as Ray crafted it for me.  Snacks were protein drinks just before dinner.

I also made sure that I got in the gym.  As Ray adjusted my workouts to accommodate the type of equipment they had in the gym at the hotel, the workouts were dumb bell focused.  At first, the workouts were hard because I had to train my mind, cognitive thinking, to process what I was asking it to do, but towards the end of the week I was lifting heavier which means my body was adapting.

I am at 10% body fat.  In looking at the pictures below you may say you don’t look like you’re 10% body fat.  I am!  Ray counseled me that people may question my body fat percentage, but he assured me that it is accurate.  He said that he is using the same caliper device, 9 site testing, and he is the one who has been performing all the tests.

I am starting to see a little more definition in my muscles which means that I am getting leaner.  I am also starting to see movement on the scale.  All of these thing are encouraging.


My journey to get stage ready and compete in a figure competition this spring has officially started.  I am targeting mid-April for the competition based on past schedules that I have seen for 2016 and in talking with my coach, Emily Neis.

During the past three weeks, the most challenging aspects were adjusting my body/system to this new way of eating- small meals every 3-4 hours.  I eat six small meals and drink at least one gallon of water daily plus take a Glutamine supplement with meal 2.  Just to topline what Glutamine is, it is a supplement that prevents catabolism which means losing mass, density, strength and definition. Therefore Glutamine promotes muscle growth.

The nutrition plan is precisely and scientifically crafted by Emily and will change every three weeks. Below is the total daily calories and macros (carbs, protein, fats) from the first three weeks.

Calories: 1439
Protein: 168g 46%
Carbs: 84g 23%
Fats: 51g 31%

My protein has come from eating a lot of egg whites, tuna, and a little chicken (2 oz), fats have come primarily from avocado and almonds, and carbs primarily from red potato and a little roasted red pepper. I only had one protein shake daily just before bed.

Another big adjustment is increased cardio and weights.  While I teach group fitness classes (in addition to my full time job in marketing) ranging from Spinning, weight/cardio/core, and Tabata interval formats, I am definitely raising the bar on my fitness.  The past three weeks, my cardio workouts varied from treadmill, bike and stair mill.  The cardio workouts, especially the stair mill have pushed me and my endurance is being tested. Currently, I struggle with the stair mill, but as my endurance improves I’ll be able to achieve the levels my coach is requesting.  During my weight workouts, I push myself to lift heavier each set and definitely week to week because I think (and know) that somewhere someone is lifting heavier than me.

As I journey to the stage, every 3 weeks I will take pictures tracking my progress.  Below are pictures 27 weeks out (or 3 weeks into the nutrition/workout plan).

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3 week progress
3 week progress


So, the past month I experimented with my nutrition and even my workouts.  I wondered what would happen if I tweaked my nutrition and workouts.  By increasing my protein (up 36g), consumed no alcohol, and increased my cardio from 20-25 minutes 3-4 days per week to 20-25 minutes 2 days per week and 30 minutes of cardio 1x/week and 45 minutes of cardio 1x/week what type of results and learnings would I have?

I found it extremely difficult if not next to impossible to consume 168g of protein per day and keep my calories at 1300.  When my protein was from food sources alone, my protein intake was below 100g (ranging between 85-97g) and when I did get over 100g by consuming 2 protein drinks daily, my calorie intake was over 1300.

My water intake also decreased.  On most days I was struggling to take in 9 – 8oz glasses.

From a fitness perspective, I think that increasing my cardio was the right decision because my body was plateauing.  My body was getting used to the interval training on the treadmill at 20 minutes and by increasing the amount of time I was spending on the treadmill, I was able to challenge myself and hopefully, break out of the plateau.

While my measurements were pretty consistent overall from the previous month (see below), I did notice some gains in weight, waist and hips.  All other measurements were consistent with the previous month.  Measurements aside the biggest things I noticed was how I felt. My clothes didn’t fit as well especially my jeans.  I also noticed an increase on the scale which can be attributed to the lack of water I consumed from what I was used to consuming, but I think it has more to do with not straying from the nutrition plan.

Weight: 118.5 (increase of 1.5lb)

Right Bicep: 10 1/4″ Unflexed (decrease of 3/8″); 10 3/4″ Flexed 10 3/4″ (decrease of 1/2″)

Left Bicep: 10 1/4″ Unflexed (decrease of 3/8); 11″ Flexed

Waist: 27 3/8″ (decrease of 7/8″)

Hips: 33 3/4″ (decrease of 2 3/8″)

Bust: 32″ (decrease of 5/8″)

Right Thigh: 19 1/2″ (decrease of 1 5/8″ )

Left Thigh: 19 1/2″ (decrease of 1 5/8″)

Neck: 12″ (decrease of 1/4″)

Left Calf: 14″ (decrease of 1/8″)

Right Calf: 14″ (decrease of 1/8″)

I didn’t have time this month to more pictures because I was getting my now 70 pound (each) puppies ready for vacation care.

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I don’t like feeling the way I did.  I am going to get back on track and be committed to the next level of fitness.  I am going to stay true to the things that are working.  I am not going to seek out other o

Today marks a milestone post as it is 6 months since I began Fit to the Next Level and my journey to raise the bar on my health and fitness.    I have learned so much since I started, and I owe a lot of my success to my support system, my family, my life long partner, John, my friends, and my trainer, Megan Vaccaro. Without a strong and supportive system, this journey would have been even more challenging.

One important thing that I’ve learned is that progress is slow.  Change doesn’t happen overnight.  You think to yourself, “I’m working so hard, and I’m not seeing the results fast enough.”  You debate if it’s worth it, is what I’m doing working, are the sacrifices I’m making paying off?  And, then one day it all seems to come together and the hard work is starting to show.

While I am really ecstatic with the results, the goals I have hit, and the  improved level of fitness and performance, I am not done.  Fit to the Next Level is a lifelong journey for me.  Raising the bar on what I eat, drink, and the purpose I have when I’m in the gym has become a lifestyle.  A lifestyle that I am committed to.

Below are my measurements (compared to my baseline when I started).   I believe that these measurements are more exact than previous measurement posts as I am using my new Fit & Healthy brand tape measure (see below for device image).

Weight: 117 (loss of 9 pounds)

Right Bicep: Unflexed: 10 1/4″ (decrease 3/8″)/ Flexed:  10 3/4″ (decrease 1/2″)

Left Bicep: Unflexed: 10 1/4″ (decrease 3/8″) / Flexed: 11″ (no change)

Waist: 27″ (loss of 1 1/4″)

Hips: 33 1/2″ (decrease of 2 5/8″)

Bust: 31 1/4″ (decrease of 1 3/8″)

Right Thigh: 19 1/2″  (decrease of  1 5/8″)

Left Thigh: 20″ (decrease of 1 1/8″)

Neck: 12″ (loss of 1/4″)

Left Calf: 14″ (loss of 1/8″)

Right Calf: 14″ (loss of 1/8″



While I am not one to make excuses, I really do have a valid reason as to why I have no measurements to post for month five.   It’s not because I’ve fallen off the wagon, seen a plateau or even gains. In fact, I kept saying to John, “We need to take my measurements.”  And, this month just flew by for two reasons, my new Bullmastiff puppies, Piper (a girl) and Bingo (a boy).

When John and I got litter mates, Piper and Bingo, we thought how hard can two puppies be.  We’re learning it’s far more consuming than we thought, but totally worth it. Our world changed for the better.   Piper and Bingo are  beautiful, sweet, time consuming, loving, trouble making puppies.

My workouts changed from going to the gym for cardio and weights to a different kind of cardio-constantly on the go watching Piper and Bingo  and weight lifting consisting of carrying them (Piper weighing in at 11lbs and Bingo weighing in at 10lbs) up and down the couple stairs from the deck to the yard for house breaking several times a day.


Although my workouts as I knew them changed dramatically, I made sure that I stayed on track with my nutrition-meal plans and drinking lots of water to compensate.


Month 5-Measurements -

It has been 4 months since I started working with Megan Vaccaro (Megafit) and while I have been tracking body weight weekly via the scale and measurements monthly with pictures and tape measure progress has been slow.  I am finally seeing the progress I have been waiting for. I have hit 116 pounds on the scale and I am really starting to see definition. Not only am I seeing definition, but other people are starting to comment which does feel good.

Below are my measurements for this month (compared to baseline (February):

Right Bicep: Unflexed 10 3/8 (decrease 1/4″)  Flexed 11″ (decrease 1/4″)

Left Bicep: Unflexed 10 1/4 (decrease 3/8″)  Flexed 11 1/4″ (increase 1/4″)

Waist: 26 1/8″ (decrease 2 1/8″)

Hips: 33 1/2″ (decrease 3″)

Bust 32″ (decrease 5/8″)

Right Thigh: 20 5/8″ (decrease 1/4″)

Left Thigh: 20 1/4″  (decrease 7/8″)

Right Calf: 14 1/4″ (decrease 1/8″)

Left Calf: 14 1/4″ (decrease 1/8″)

Neck: 12″  (decrease 1/4″)

Month 4- Measurements -

Before I share what my measurements are this month, I will reflect on how I’m feeling as I usually do in my measurement posts. This month like previous months, I continue to have increased energy, am feeling satisfied with the foods that I am eating, and I am definitely getting stronger.

In terms of my meal plan, I am understanding the importance of high protein foods and nutrient dense foods (i.e. broccoli, squash, cauliflower). When I eat high protein and nutrient dense foods, I feel fuller and satisfied longer. I am also understanding the increased importance of water. On average, I am drinking 15 (8 oz) glasses of water per day. When I fall below that, I feel dehydrated and I find that the next day I am making up for it.

As it relates to my feeling stronger, while I am lifting heavier weights than I have been (8-10lb for shoulders, 10lb for tricep extension, and 12-15 for back and biceps) I am also seeing noticeable difference in my everyday life. For example, when fixing the deck I was able to move the planted flower pots off the deck and back on and I carried an assembled chair to the car and from the car to up the stairs in the house. These are things that I would not have thought I could do in the past .

My final comment on reflection is that this is a lifestyle I have embraced.  As opposed to a diet, which I found not to be sustainable, by being on a meal plan in which I am conscious of the food choices that I’m making, eating key nutrients that I enjoy (proteins: steak, chicken, and fish; vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, cherry tomatoes are some of my favorites but really any veggies are good), drinking less alcohol, and drinking more water I am not depriving myself.  I am eating in a manner in which I am able to sustain.  Proper food choices combined with exercise equal enhanced performance and physique.

Week 4 Measurements:

As a reminder, these measurements are in comparison to my measurements when began this journey on February 7.

Right Bicep: Unflexed 10 3/8″ (decrease of 2″)  Flexed 11 ¼” (no change)

Left BiceP: Unflexed 10 ½” (decrease of 1″) Flexed 11 1/8 (increase of 1/8″)

Waist: 27 ¼” (decrease of 1″)

Hips: 33 ½” (decrease of  2 5/8″)

Bust: 32 ¼” (decrease of 3/8″)

Right Thigh: 21” (decrease of 1/8”)

Left Thigh: 21” (decrease of 1/8”)

Neck: 12” (increase of 1/4″)

Right Calf: 14 ¼” (decrease of 1/4″)

Left Calf: 14 ½” (decrease of 1/8″)

It’s progress. I’m starting to see more definition, my arms especially my right arm unflexed is starting to show definition and my abs are starting to come in (definition). It’s been slower progress than what I was expecting, but it’s healthy progress- done the right way with hard work, proper nutrition, a great trainer, and a wonderful support system (I wouldn’t still be doing it without you, John).

Month 3- Check-in -

I am finally starting to see results.  Progress is slow.  I am determined to stay on plan and my feeling better physically helps.

Weight 119

Right Bicep:  Unflexed 10 5/8 (unchanged) Flexed: 11 1/2 (increase 1 1/8″)

Left Bicep: Unflexed 10 1/2 (increase 1/8″)  Flexed: 11 1/4 (increase 1/4″)

Waist: 27 1/4 (decrease 1″)

Hips: 33 1/2 (decrease 2 5/8″)

Bust: 32 1/2 (decrease 1/8″)

Right Thigh: 21 1/4 (increase 1/8″)

Left Thigh: 21 5/8 (increase 1/2″)

Neck: 12 (decrease 1/4″)

Left Calf: 14 1/4 (increase 1/8″)

Right Calf: (increase 3/8″)

Today is the start of my second month on my “Fit to the Next Level” journey.  I have seen improvements in muscle strength, overall strength, and weight loss.

Monday is my weekly weigh-in day and  my weight is 122.8.  While I have not seen 122 pounds in a long time and it feels so good I also question the progress I have made in one month.  Personally, I didn’t think the scale was enough progress for me after one month of working hard and disciplined eating and hardly any wine.

I texted my fitness coach/trainer Megan and shared with her my feeling that I may not be making enough progress in terms of the number on the scale.  She suggested that we “raise the bar” further by doing 15 minutes of cardio before our workout and 15 minutes of cardio after our workout, turn up the dial on the workout by incorporating more HIIT (high intensity interval training), and no carbs after 3pm.

In sharing this with John, he cautioned that I shouldn’t turn things up too much or I may lose the fun I am currently having.

I thought about John’s statement a bit and I don’t want to be too restrictive in my diet or lose the fun that I’m having on this journey.  My other concern was that by “raising the bar” I would have to be in the gym more and based on my full time job and my wanting some down time I didn’t think I could commit to that.

So, what can I expect in month two?  I’m not really sure, but I also didn’t know what to expect when I entered this “fit to the next level” journey a little over a month ago.  I expect to continue to get stronger.  As for the weight loss, I’m not sure what to expect there. I have been eating the same meal plan for the past month although the lean protein has been changing as have the vegetables.  I am curious if my weight will plateau as a result of my eating the same meal plan.

Time will tell.


Having been on my “fit to the next level” journey for one month, today is the day that I will take my measurements and weigh-in.   When I started this journey, I was not sure how I was going to enjoy it.  After all, I am on a restrictive diet with only 1 cheat meal per week and up to two glasses of wine at my cheat meal.  Everything I eat gets measured.

One month in, I can say that not only do I not find the meal plan satisfying and the workouts challenging, but I’m really enjoying this new lifestyle. It truly is a lifestyle.   This “new” for me way of eating is providing my body with nutrients it wants and needs to function and by eating this way, I am not munching on chips, licorice and other treats.  In fact, I am not craving sweets or salty foods.  As for the workouts, I am doing more than surviving.  I am getting stronger and lifting heavier weights.

My measurements after one month demonstrate that my hips and waist are decreasing in size, my muscles are starting to get bigger, and my weight is coming down.


Weight: 123 pounds (lost 3 pounds overall)

Right Bicep: 10 5/8 unflexed (no change)  11 1/4 flexed (no change)

Left Bicep: 10 3/4 unflexed (change of .125″) 11 1/4 flexed (1/4″ gain)

Waist: 27″ (loss of 1 1/4″ )

Hips: 35 1/8″ (loss of 1″)

Bust: 32 5/8 (no change)

Right Thigh: 21 1/2 (loss of .375″)

Left Thigh: 21 5/8 (gain of .5″)

Neck: 12 (loss of 1/4″)

Left Calf: 14 1/2 (gain of .375″)

Right Calf: 14 1/2 (gain of .375″)