Copyright © 2017 Alex Liska. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


By: Alex Liska
So, the time has finally arrived to take a break from the intense dieting and twice a day cardio sessions!!! After a long, strenuous year of dieting (since December 2009) I am slowly switching into my off-season mode. I will, however continue to eat clean but of course incorporate different foods and experiment with nutrient ratios!
Although I feel this year has gone really well and I am pleased with the progress I have made, it took me some time to accept that I will not be shredded all year round. After having spent so much time focusing on getting super lean it is sort of shocking to "relax" and let my body heal... Psychologically, it has been hard for me to accept the changes in my physique, the few extra pounds gained since my last show and looking "softer" is something that I'll have to adjust to. However, everyone that competes or trains really hard knows that the off-season is the time where we make the most gains and build up all that muscle that is much needed! Our bodies need a chance to recover from the insane workouts (especially the killer 2-a-day cardio sessions and "no rest between sets" weights workouts). After all, muscles grow by feeding them proper foods/vitamins/minerals and allowing them to rest and recover! I hope that now I will have a chance to focus on my personal training/nutrition clients and also write more fitness articles and try out new recipes that I can share with you all:) I'm so excited to get back into "healthy-chef-mode" and start baking my cocoa protein bars/brownies/cakes/cookies and try out new high-protein dishes! I love baking and cooking so I am looking forward to the extra time I will have in the kitchen (and not having to pack so much Tupperware...LOL)
I know that I will still experience mood fluctuations from time to time when I look back at my stage/dieting phase photos and see that I look a bit different now but I know it's a good investment to take this time off to focus on the next season to come, and build up a great foundation so that I can reveal a whole new and improved physique on stage in 2011!!! GO FIGURE!!! :):):)

That was a little video clip of my "Off-Season" posing practice! I'll continue to practice my posing and hopefully improve on that too! :)


-Alex L. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

OPA Ontario Naturals September 11th Update!

Hey guys!!!Thanks for staying tuned to my site for all my updates! This has been an incredible journey for me. I started training for the Ontario Naturals in June, but took a few breaks along the way due to travel, family stuff, and just life in general! However, I trained consistently and hard, stuck to my diet as best as I could and maintained a positive attitude, most importantly I had FUN! I have competed a few times in the past and allowed my nervousness and insecurities to get in my way of success and in turn did not enjoy my journey... This time, I had a great support team by my side, my coaches Mindi & Dennis (Team O'Brien), my makeup artist/stage prep coach/good friend CherryBomB (Cherry Villanos) and friends and some family that kept me going the whole way through!!!
I was honored to place first in the medium class and come home with first in Overall Figure as well! This was one of the happiest moments for me ever since I started training when I was 13, back in middle school... haha! This experience has given me the courage to pursue my dreams in the fitness industry, believe in myself and obtain the confidence I was lacking in the past! All the ladies I competed with looked beautiful and had some stunning physiques, I had the pleasure of meeting lots of nice people backstage, that I hope to stay in touch with!!
A BIG thank you to: GOD first and foremost!!!!!!! Mindi & Dennis (Team O'Brien Training & Nutrition), CherryBomB (Makeup/Hair/Posing & Stage prep), Pamela Bortmes (Spray Tanning), Lisa from SXE-FX for my lovely suits & my mom and brother, and all my friends for keeping me motivated!!! XOXO

Here are some pics from Saturday, I hope everyone of you had a lovely weekend, and stay tuned to my site for more exciting articles and updates!!
Pumping up before going on stage
Receiving Overall Figure trophy :)
On stage during Pre-Judging
Pumping up my shoulders!
Side-Pose during Pre-Judging

-Alex L. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

16 Days Away From The Ontario Naturals!!!

Hey guys!!
Just posting a quick update on my journey to my next show, which is in 16 days (September 11th) ... I am in the gym twice a day these days... One weight training session (sometimes I break it up into 2) and two cardio sessions!!! I'm not having any issues with my diet, although it has gotten stricter I am still sticking to it :)
I was away last week for the entire week spending time with family by the lake and had NO gym access but luckily my trainers (Mindi & Dennis) sent me some EXTREME crossfit workouts to do while i was there and that kept me from losing any of my hard work!! The hardest thing at this point is getting through that LAST cardio session, I spend more time with the Stepmill than I do with anything or anybody else... LOL

I'm posting some updated pics that I took this morning, these are not the suits that i will be wearing on the day of the show, I'll be getting something different!!

I hope you are all having a great week so far, I'll be posting some new workout video clips soon so stay tuned to my site and youtube channel!


Alex L. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cross-Fit Style Mini Workout & Slim-Down Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

By: Alex Liska
Here is another mini-workout that requires both cardiovascular and muscular endurance. This no-equipment workout combines compound, functional moves: Reverse Lunges, Mountain-Climbers, Pushups, Burpees which exercise all major muscle groups pretty much. You can perform 5-10 reps of each exercise in a series and complete a total of 3-5 sets and you have a total body workout with NO equipment, NO gym and you are also getting a great abdominal/core workout from this! :)

Slim-Down Breakfast Smoothie Recipe:

-1 scoop Whey Protein (low-carb)
-1 tbsp. Ground Flaxseeds
-1 teaspoon Walnut Oil
-1/2 cup Frozen Berries
-1 tbsp. Almond Butter
-1 scoop Greens Plus Extra Energy Cappuccino Flavor
-350-400mls water & 6-8 ice cubes

Blend all the ingredients listed above until you have obtained the desired consistency for your smoothie!
It is VERY important to eat breakfast as SOON as you wake up. Try having your smoothie and then give the above workout clip a try, OR simply go for a 20-30minute power-walk if you are just getting started with your physical activity regimen.

Have a great week!!

-Alex L. :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Slim Down This Summer With This At-Home Patio Mini-Workout

Sometimes, it can be hard to leave home and get to the gym, especially when the weather is so nice and ideal for relaxing on the deck or patio... well, here is a no-equipment mini workout that can be done either inside, on the deck or patio... along with some cardio and a clean eating regimen you can see some promising results!

This workout combines 3 simple moves: Pushups, followed by Burpees, and then finished off with some seated Trunk Twists with legs elevated (you can try it with your feet on the ground until you get the hang of it!). These 3 moves utilize core strength, stability as well as all other major muscle groups in the body. It is also a very good cardio workout when performed in sets of 12-15 reps!

I will be posting a healthy recipe to go along with this At-Home Mini-Workout, so stay tuned to my site for more updates on my training/dieting journey to my next figure show as well as healthy recipes and more!
Have a great week!

-Alex L. :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Update On My Journey to the Ontario Naturals 2010

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far!!! It's been awfully humid and hot, not the greatest weather for cardio and high rep workouts, ha ha... luckily I have managed to stay motivated so far, since I am seeing results and I have stuck to my program since i started *phew* !! I know I was supposed to post a journal starting 12-weeks out from the show but unfortunately travelling and having less access to the internet has gotten in my way of that :( 
Nevertheless here are some pics of what I currently look like, i believe there are roughly 7.5 weeks left till September 11th-Show Day! 
My Body-fat is at a record-time low for me of under 10% and my time of the month is almost non-existent... YAY!!! :)))) I think at this point i am pretty much on schedule with my physique, well according to my trainer I am doing alright so my main areas to work on now are: POSING, POSING.... and... POSING!!! I still have to practice walking in those big chunky heels and posing correctly, this has always been difficult for me... I also have to make sure to stick to my diet, which isn't so hard since i like all the food that's on my meal plan :)

Here's a quick peek at my current diet outline:
Meal #1
Shake w/ 1 scoop protein, berries, healthy fats (EFA's) and fiber
Meal #2
Omelet w/ eggwhites, greens and a small serving of lean red meat & a piece of grapefruit
Meal #3
Fish, 2 servings of greens & Healthy fats
Meal #4
1 serving of complex carb from a whole grain source, a microscopic amount of Peanut Butter (LOL) and some more healthy fats
Meal #5
Assorted greens Salad with some grilled chicken-breast and healthy fats & another piece of grapefruit
Meal #6
Egg-whites (only if I am still hungry)

My workouts are VERY intense, but also VERY effective... Mindi (my trainer) switches stuff around on each weight-training/cardio program so that i continually see results, this keeps me from plateauing and also keeps things fun at the gym... I am very excited to see my new meal plan, I believe i will be getting it on July 21st and it will be stricter than the last one... this will be my 3rd phase and I am looking forward to the results it will bring!! :)
I'm heading to the gym now, so look out for my next update, hopefully I will be more conditioned by then and I'll most likely be posting a short clip of my posing practice!

-Alex L. :) 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Goals, New Program, New Grocery List!! Here it Goes...

By: Alex Liska
Hello, I hope everyone is having a great week so far!! I have been travelling quite a bit lately and haven't had a chance to post on here as much as I'd like, but I will be starting my 12-weeks out journal very soon! :)
On Saturday, May 22nd, I competed at the OPA-Mississauga (Luchka/O'Brien Classic) in the Figure Medium Class... I placed 4th. I thought I was going to do better but there are definitely a lot of areas that i need to work on. I would have loved to come in looking a LOT tighter, leaner and with much better stage presence. I have a list of things to work on for my next show. I am looking at doing the Ontario Naturals on September 11th of this year, to compete in Figure again! :) This time, I have started my diet on time and I have lots of time to work on my posing and also figure out what I will do with my hair...LOL my hair looked like a mop or a dead animal when i did the Mississauga show :( I will definitely need to adjust this problem by September!! 
I am now training with TEAM O'BRIEN (Mindi & Dennis) and I feel sooo much more motivated knowing that I have proper guidance and support! They have designed a new weight training and Optimal Nutrition program for me that I started last Friday!! I have changed the way I eat, my diet includes lots of healthy veggies, proteins, fats as well as some fruit (which I had always been afraid to eat because of the sugar content). This is the cleanest I have eaten, yet I am not having a hard time sticking to my program because there is SO much variety from Meals 1-6... Here is a sneak peek at some of the items on my new grocery list:

  • -Eggwhites
  • -Lean red meat
  • -Avocados
  • -Lettuce
  • -Tomatoes
  • -Berries
  • -Fresh Fruit
  • -Lean Chicken/Turkey meat
  • -Assorted Unsalted Nuts
  • -Oatmeal
  • -Peppers
  • -Green veggies
  • -Herbal tea
  • -Cottage Cheese
  • -Yogurt
  • -Celery
  • -White Fish
  • -Salmon
  • -Fish oil supplements
  • -Multivitamin 

So, those are a few of the items I picked up during my recent trip to the grocery store... The way they are arranged on my meal plan is just great!! I get a little bit of everything, all at the right times of the day so that my body is always energized, burning fat and preserving as well as building lean muscle mass :)
Stay tuned to my site for more posts as I start my 12-weeks outs training/dieting journal as I train for the Ontario Naturals!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Lift, Tone And Sculpt Your Lower Body With These Simple Tips....

By: Alex Liska
Now that the warm weather is here, I decided to share a few tips as well as an at-home workout video clip to help tone the lower body, lift the butt and sculpt those thighs! There are many different variations of squats, lunges and plyometric (bodyweight) exercises that can be done to work on the lower body and tighten it. However, the most important thing is the diet. If you are eating clean, staying active and performing a few slimming/trimming moves 2-3 times a week you will likely see great results!
Here are a few tips that will help you achieve that 'bikini-body' in less time!!

  • Go for a brisk 15-20 minute walk every day.
  • Drink more water (helps flush toxins and waste out of your body)
  • Eat more green veggies
  • Increase your Omega 3-6-9 Fatty acids intake! (Salmon, Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans or a good omega oil supplement)
  • Increase your protein intake (preferably from natural sources- meats, fish, eggs, nuts/seeds etc...)
  • Add a few slices of lemon or lime to your water (helps your body detox and also adds flavor and electrolytes to your water. Lemon also has fat-burning properties!)
  • Perform resistance/body-weight exercises 2-3 times a week (can be done at home with little or no equipment)
  • Have a glass of dry red wine with dinner every now and then (contains 'Resveratrol' which helps regulate hormone levels and contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties)
  • Enjoy some organic dark chocolate (70% cocoa and up) for dessert instead of cakes/pies or other starchy/sugary foods!
  • Stretch whenever you get the chance to! (Helps lengthen the muscles for a longer, leaner look)
  • When doing resistance or body-weight exercises, FOCUS ON COMPOUND MOVES that utilize various joints and muscles (Squats, lunges, one-legged deadlifts). They help you burn more calories because there are more muscles (main movers and stabilizers as well as assisting muscles) involved and they require more core strength/stability!
  • Drink Green Tea (high in catechins, flavonoids, antioxidants and contains fat burning properties. It also helps your body flush out wastes and aids in overall detoxing of harmful toxins/wastes that can accumulate over time) 

Those are just a few tips that can help you raise your metabolism, burn more fat, increase your energy and will help tighten and tone all those problem areas so you can feel confident and look great in your swimsuit this summer ;)

The only piece of equipment needed for this exercise is a chair! How easy is that? No need to rush to the gym and search for fancy equipment! You can perform 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps of this exercise 2-3 times a week and if you are following a few of those tips mentioned above you will see great results!

Best of Luck!

-Alex L. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

At-Home Plank & Lower-Ab Knee Tuck Combo (Also works Glutes)

By: Alex Liska
Here is a great core/abdominal workout that can be done anywhere, even at home! The great part about this exercise is that it helps you develop great core stability AND works your glutes/lower body all while helping you trim your midsection! Along with a clean diet (low in carbs, rich in natural proteins, greens and moderate healthy dietary fats-Refer to previous articles/posts) and at least 2-3 20minute cardio sessions a week I can guarantee that this exercise will help you shave fat/inches off your abdominal area! A suggestion would be to aim for 2-4 sets of 12-20 reps. (Beginners can do 2 sets of 10-12 reps, Advanced Exercisers can do 4 sets 15-20 reps)
The key is to really focus on keeping your core tight and squeeze your abdominals, especially as you bring your knee in to complete your set of reps on each side. The Move that you see me doing at the beginning where I elevate my body from a basic plank position to supporting my body weight on my palms can be done a few times just before you begin to count the number of reps you are doing for your knee tucks!

Good luck everyone! I also wanted to share this very interesting FRIDAY-FACT I came across on a cool website called

Take Your Chocolate Medicine

Romans 5:9
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Chocolate has long been thought of as a junk food. However, new research on several fronts reveals that chocolate should probably be reclassified as a health food.

Research shows that the beans from which chocolate is made contain large amounts of antioxidants called flavonoids. Found in tea and other foods, these substances have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. These flavonoids are present in high enough quantity in the chocolate you buy at the store to produce measurable results in scientific studies. A single gram of chocolate milk has 10 milligrams of antioxidants. If you like dark chocolate, you will more than double your dosage of antioxidants.

While some 4,000 natural flavonoids have been identified, the types found in chocolate are among the most powerful known. They are even more effective than the antioxidants found in vitamin C! Other flavonoids in chocolate have been found to relax the inside of blood vessels that lowers high blood pressure. Chocolate flavonoids have also been found to work as a mild aspirin would to help thin blood. They also help keep the platelets from breaking, which happens when they get too sticky. If all these benefits aren't enough, chocolate has also been found to raise good cholesterol.

Chocolate may help you have a healthy cardiovascular system in this life. But when this life is done, only the blood of Jesus Christ will give you eternal life.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You shed Your blood for me. Amen.
References: Science News, 3/18/00, pp. 188-189, "Chocolate Hearts: Yummy and Good Medicine?"

Hope you enjoyed that small article! I was surprised to see that there are others out there that agree with me in believing that Chocolate (especially UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER) is very good for us :-)
Have a great weekend!!!

Alex L. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

STOP! Think.... and Drink (Water, Of Course!) - How Staying Hydrated May be the Key to Shedding a Few Extra Pounds...

By: Alex Liska

Sometimes when people start to feel a lack of energy, start feeling lethargic and a bit drained they immediately think they are either tired or hungry. "Think" is they key word here... These may all be symptoms of dehydration:
-Feeling lethargic (drowsy, tired, drunk feeling)
-Lack of Energy
-Cravings for food even after having eaten 
-Inability to focus or "stay focused"
-Feeling weak or without sense of direction for a very short period of time...

The symptoms listed above are often mistaken with hunger which can lead to eating extra calories when they are not needed. If you experience any of the above symptoms or other symptoms along those lines: "STOP! Think.... and Drink Some Water!" It may help alleviate some if not ALL of those symptoms and may hold the key to NOT over-eating. 
Your body has its own ways of trying to signal to you that it's time to drink fluids. Once you start feeling thirsty it is usually too late and you are already dehydrated. If you proceed to ignore this 'thirst' you may begin to feel dizzy, lethargic or start thinking you are hungry. Why not have a glass of fresh water? 
FACT: Water has ZERO calories, it helps restore and maintain electrolyte balance, helps flush your body of impurities (in turn you also get clearer skin), helps fight food cravings, helps you feel re-energized and helps stimulate your metabolism just to name a few things!

Give this a try and see how it works! You have nothing to lose except cravings & maybe a few unwanted pounds of fat.... :)

-Alex L. :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Easy At-Home Situps in the Living Room (Abs/Core) - Abs/Core Exercise of the Week

Who says you NEED to be a gym-rat to develop a lean midsection? All you really need is the proper nutrition (a diet low in starchy carbs and refined sugars, high in protein and moderate in dietary fats) and a couch, perhaps a set of stairs, and motivation!!! I hope that this easy living-room workout can help spark your creativity when it comes to working out at home. When it comes to cardio, now that summer is just around the corner, why not go for a nice power-walk or light jog outdoors? BINGO, there's your cardio! :)

Place your feet underneath the couch for support and sit upright. Inhale as you lean back (make sure you are not arching your back when going back because you will place unnecessary strain on your lower back) and squeeze those abs! Sit back up and exhale slowly. Make sure you are breathing in a consistent and controlled manner. Squeeze those abs and make sure you don't shrug your shoulders. Look UP, not Down!
I would suggest performing 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps 2-4 times a week in conjunction with a clean diet (browse my previous articles for nutrition articles/tips and simple healthy recipes) and a few cardio sessions of at least 20 minutes each 3-4 times a week! I promise you will see a GREAT improvement in your midsection!

Have a Great Weekend & Stay Motivated!!!

Alex L. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alex's Protein Bars (Low Carb/Low Fat Recipe)

-1 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
-4 Scoops Kaizen Whey Isolate (I used the chocolate flavour- they sell this protein powder at Costco and it's very cost effective and tastes great!)
-3/4 Cup ground Flaxseeds
-3 tbsp Quick Oats
-2 tsp Baking Powder (since there is no flour in this recipe i use more baking powder so the bars don't come out flat)
-1/4 tsp Sea Salt
-1 cup Splenda Sweetener & 5 Enveloppes of Stevia (I used PureVia)
-3/4 cup Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
-6 Egg-Whites
-1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
-1/2 cup Filtered Water
-1/2 cup Skim Milk
-1/2 cup Plain Fat-Free/Vanilla OR Coconut/Pineapple Flavored Source Yogurt (No Sugar Added)
-3/4 cup No-Sugar-Added Cranberries (the frozen kind usually don't have added sugar but the dried ones do!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a Large measuring cup or Medium sized bowl combine all the dry ingredients together (cocoa powder, baking powder, shredded coconut, oats, flaxseeds, splenda, sea salt & protein powder). Add egg-whites and begin to mix with a fork, add the coconut oil and continue to mix well, slowly add liquids (filtered water and skim milk). Make sure you have mixed all ingredients VERY WELL so that there are no lumps in the mixture. Add in yogurt and continue to mix & add in the Cranberries. Pour the mixture in 2 small-med. sized or 1 large pre-greased baking pan(s). I usually "grease" my pans with a very small amount of coconut oil OR olive oil so that my bars don't stick! Bake for 20-30 minutes or until you can easily place a toothpick through the bars and test that they are fully cooked!

Makes about 12 protein bars - Each contains roughly 16 grams of Protein, Under 5 grams of Fat/Carbs, High in Antioxidants, Flavonoids, Dietary Fiber, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Fatty Acids & Tastes Great:)
Makes for a quick and easy snack on your way to the gym, between meals or even as a light meal replacement!!!

Once the bars are ready you can slice them right through the middle and add 2 tbsp of LIGHT Frozen Whipping Cream in between them, top with Cinnamon and Stevia (PureVia tastes best because of its consistency) and make Mini Protein-Bar Ice-Cream Sandwiches :)
 ***NOTE*** 2 tbps of Light Frozen Whipping Cream have less than 25 calories, 1.5 grams of sugar and under 2.5 grams of fat so YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING!!! =)


-Alex L. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Q&A with Gemma-Leigh: Personal Fitness Trainer and Proud Mom

Full Name: Gemma Leigh

Birthday: May 21 1966

Body stats: 5'6' 127lb

Gym: Urban Active Fitness, my living room, the park, my back porch....wherever I happen to be!

How did you initially get into fitness and what inspired you to pursue this lifestyle?
When I was very young - from age 8 until 14- I was totally into gymnastics. I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast! I would practice for hours each day. But then when puberty hit, I became more interested in boys than cartwheels, haha. However throughout my 20's I would occasionally do some aerobics classes and I took Dance class in college as an elective. I had always enjoyed how being strong and active made me feel both physically and mentally.

It wasnt until after I had my son that I really started to look at exercise and diet as a lifestyle and not a quick fix or temporary measure to look better.

When did you start training with weights and how long did it take for you to start seeing the results that motivated you to continue along this path?
I began to really include weights in my training program in January 2008. Now at first I had the common belief that most women do about weight training ; and thinking it would make me 'big and bulky' and what I wanted was feminine, curvy and strong. But then I would see the fitness models in the magazines swear that they lifted heavy... and they had a similar look to what I wanted, so I went for it. And after about three months of being consistent I started to see a lot of changes that cardio only wasnt giving me. Believe it or not, i used to have a back view that was full of cellulite and sagginess...and the midsection I used to have was nowhere near flat. When I saw that weight training, proper nutrition and the cardio was fixing this, it finally made everything click. I knew that you had to incorporate all 3 to be lean, tight and curvy.

Your before and after pictures speak for themselves! You have come a long way and inspired many people to pursue a healthier lifestyle! What advice would you have for women out there who have just had a baby and are looking to shed the post-pregnancy weight?
I would have to say that getting into shape after having a baby is probably one of the most challenging things you will ever attempt. And also know that with patience and consistency you will succeed. The stars in Hollywood make it seem like its normal to just pop out a baby and then be a size 2 a month later. I say that motherhood is stressful enough and your journey to being a fit mommy should be a happy one, not a burden. You dont have to always workout in a gym. I used to put my baby boy in a stroller and walk around the high school track. I also started to bring along a resistance tube with handles and stop every so often to do upper body work - bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, overhead press, rows for the back by wrapping the tube around the railing of the bleachers. If it's cold outside, you can walk in malls early in the mornings before it gets crowded. You just have to be creative with workouts when you are a new mom. I used to hold my son close to my chest when he was small and do squats! And of course you have to watch your nutrition. Dont starve...just eat clean foods.

What did you find was the hardest part about this all?
The hardest part was being physically tired while trying to get in shape. The first few months are the hardest because the baby is going to wake you up every few hours. If you are a breastfeeding mom as I was then YOU have to be the one to get up because Dad sure cannot take care of feedings! And then lets not forget those postpartum hormones that make you cry for no reason...or laugh for no reason! Getting into a schedule was the hard part. I would suggest new moms make plans for fitness before the baby ever arrives. Find someone to help you watch the baby when you need 45-60 minutes to yourself to workout. And surround yourself with supportive people.

Did you ever hit any plateaus or major hurdles along the way that made you almost feel like “giving up” and how did you overcome this?
Oh yes it happened a lot. Many times I would feel so tired I would wonder if it was even worth it. And as we all know, life isnt always smooth sailing - problems and conflicts arise daily. So what kept me going? The belief that I was worth it..that I deserved to be healthy and feel good about myself. I would remind myself 'how do you feel when you dont workout and pig out on pizza'? And I would ask...'is this how you want to feel?' The answer was always NO. I wanted to feel healthy and energetic; and eating crap and not exercising was not the way to get there. Always keeping my goal in mind helped a lot. Posting pics of my idol Jennifer Nicole Lee (famous fitness mommy) on my fridge helped too!

On a scale of 1-10, how important would you say following a sound Nutrition program is, when trying to shed post-pregnancy weight or trying to reduce excess body-fat overall?
In the beginning I would say you need to be 90% on track as far as sticking to a healthy nutrition plan. This is so that you can break any sugar/carb addictions you have. I used to have Coke(not diet either) and reese cups every day before I started to watch my nutrition better. So I had to just stay away from any of that until my craving for it went away. Later, after proper nutrition is a habit, its okay to have a cheat meal every now and then. But I still try to stick with healthy foods at least 80% of the time. So I rate nutrition as an 8-9 on a scale of 10. Without it, you wont see results.

Do you find sometimes, that the company you keep may get in the way of your training and dieting routine? And if this is not the case for you, can you see how being around people that don’t care about their Health and Fitness levels may affect someone that is trying to shape-up and live a healthier life?
Oh yeah! The people you are around - friends, family and co-workers - they definitely try to influence you. I can't tell you how many times co-workers used to try to get me to go out to lunch for Mexican food instead of to the on site company gym. You just have to learn how to stand up for yourself and what you want. It never bothered me to say no; but then again I do my own thing and always have, so the peer pressure didnt bother me. Some people feel pressured to conform to make others happy. You have to do what makes YOU happy and stop feeling guilty about it. I have had family say that I exercise too much, and that I must be addicted...I always reply back with 'how many hours of television do you watch each night?" most times they watch 2-3 hours. Well my time in the gym is 1.5 hours max...usually this proves my point. ..just because I choose a different activity for my free time doesnt make it 'wrong' or an 'addiction'. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. You make the choice how to spend those hours - on the couch or in the gym.

Have you thought of competing in any fitness, figure, bikini, or bodybuilding shows? I mean, I can think of thousands of women that, if they had your physique would jump up at the opportunity to show-case it onstage and perhaps even get into fitness modeling.
I would love to do NPC bikini. It is just that where I live, there arent many local competitions around here. Also, it can get expensive to compete!

How old is your son now and do you plan on introducing him to weight-training and sound nutrition when he gets older?
My baby is now 7 years old:) He is a very active child and loves to be outdoors running, bicycling , playing basketball etc. He does not need any encouragement to be active. He flexes his 'muscles' for me! He sees his mom emulate their parents. As far as sound nutrition, last year in February 09, we had a big scare. I took him to the pediatrician because he was thirsty nonstop and not feeling well - looking dazed all the time. Turns out he has type 1 diabetes. They admitted him immediately to the childrens hospital due to his sugar count was over 600mg - at that level you risk organ failure and diabetic coma. His disease is genetic. It happened practically overnight - that gene flips 'ON' and within days you are full blown diabetic needing insulin injections. SO, that being said, he has to follow sound nutrition or else it is dangerous to his health. He understands this and wont touch a cookie!

Is nutrition something that you think is important for kids to learn about at a young age or do you believe in the “let kids be kids, let them eat all the junk they want, they won’t be able to do it when they’re older…” mentality?
I think children in modern society definitely need to learn from a young age what is healthy to eat and what is not. A bunch of daily foods from boxes, plastic pouches, and drive thru windows are not going to be healthy. Children will grow up being accustomed to what they are fed from a young age. If they are given convenience foods, then this is what they develop a taste for and they will continue these choices into adulthood. Bad nutrition over a lifetime will wreck havoc on the body and result in high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, weight problems and heart disease. If they are given healthy home cooked meals made with fresh ingredients, then this is what they will grow to love and choose for themselves. Parents need to not let commercialism and marketing take over their childs diet. This is why so many kids are obese now.

Describe a typical day in the life of Gemma-Leigh; what is your schedule like and where does training fit in?
Typical day for me...I usually wake up pretty early and have my coffee asap. In ten minutes I feel human again lol. A few times a week, right after my coffee I take my jump rope outside and get a quick 20 minute cardio session in. The sun is just coming up, its peaceful outside, and the brief exercise puts me in a good mood. I then wake up my son for school and take him. Then its off to the gym to train clients. Or I also train private clients in their home. Some have gyms and for others I take some of my equipment to them. I usually never train at the exact same time each day. I fit it in when I have time. I also participate a lot when training others! At night is homework, reading books to my son, laundry, preparing food for the next day...typical mommy things. And I try to sleep at least 8 hours a night.

Would you mind sharing a sample meal plan with us? What would you eat on a normal weekday?
Breakfast is either oatmeal and a few egg whites...or an omelette with two whites and 1 whole egg, spinach and mushrooms. Sometimes I have Ezekiel sprouted grain toast and natural PB. Next meal is something like greek yogurt with blackberries, or low fat string cheese and small apple. I usually keep hard boiled eggs around and eat the whites if Im hungry between meals.I like cottage cheese as a snack too. Lunch and dinner are usually lean protein and veggies. I have been making this salad lately of baby spinach, low fat feta cheese, yellow bell pepper, sliced cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, a few kalamata olives, fresh basil and then balsamic vinagrette dressing. I just love it! Lots of times I add some grilled chicken strips to the salad.

Do you have any cheat days and if so how often? What is your favorite cheat food?
My cheat foods are dark chocolate, peanut butter wine! Not saying I overdo any of these. But I have them a few times a week in moderation. I usually get those small single glass size bottles of red wine so that Im not opening a full bottle that will just sit there and go bad.

What do you enjoy doing most when you are not training clients or working out?
After a long day of work and training, I love nothing more than spending time with the two loves of my life - my son and my boyfriend. I also like to read and watch movies, shopping on ebay(shhh) or hang out with friends.

Lastly, what words of advice do you have to our readers when they are feeling like all odds are against them, “everything they are doing is just NOT working” and they are about to give up on working out and eating healthy?
Consult with others who have been in your place before. Or even just read online about others who have won the weight loss battle...theres tons of inspiring stories out there. Or find an inspirational person that you admire and find out how they transformed. For me, Alex is one of my 'idols'!! She is one of my daily doesnt have an ending point and we all need constant motivation to keep improving. Discipline can be learned. Support from others is just the best thing!
And realize the odds are not against you...its your way of thinking that is against you. We all have it within ourselves to be our best. Don't feel selfish about wanting to invest time into yourself. If you are happy with yourself, then you can spread that happiness to others. If you have setbacks...realize that it happens to everyone and its normal. Get back on track right away and do not dwell on the past mistakes. No matter what your starting point, a healthy body and positive outlook can be yours!! Go for it!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, I am sure they will inspire MANY people out there!!!
And I am honored to be interviewed by you. I think you are an amazing person, a positive influence, and a gift to all who know you.

Checkout Gemma Leigh's Bodyspace Profile and Stay Tuned to her Progress:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Liver the Super-Food Article (Plus Calf's Liver with Caramelized Onions & Mixed Veggies RECIPE)

By: Alex Liska
Liver is a very often overlooked food that is not being given enough credit these days. With the amount of stress our bodies go through daily, both mentally and physically; having a food that is so exceptionally nutrient-dense is key to re-instating good health. Liver contains a large quantity of bio available vitamins and nutrients that help replenish our bodies and keep us energized. The recipe I am posting today utilizes Calf Liver- a food that is an excellent source of vitamin B12, vitamin A, copper, folate, riboflavin, and selenium; also a very good source of zinc, vitamin C, niacin, phosphorous and PROTEIN ; it ALSO contains vitamin B6, B5 and IRON. This can be considered a SUPER-FOOD to those that suffer from anemia and also for women due to loss of blood during menstruation. Vitamin B12 is responsible for aiding production of red blood cells therefore having a weekly dosage of liver could REALLY help anemia-sufferers and women!
Keep in mind also that DIRECTLY consuming these bio available vitamins through liver is MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE than popping multi-vitamins and B-Complex 'Pills' ... Pills are man-made and haven't been around for long enough to prove how truly effective they really are... I don't take pills, I rather rely on my consumption of Whole Foods, this is also less strenuous on your own liver which has to break down the capsule form pills being taken. Because liver is slightly higher in saturated fats and cholesterol (the kind that is good for the brain), I wouldn't suggest eating it every single day but once a week is definitely recommended. Remember that liver is Very High in Protein so it fits into any good bodybuilding diet. I prefer this dish over steak when I am considering a higher-fat meal since I feel so much more energized after eating it :)

Calf's Liver with Caramelized Onions & Mixed Veggies
-6 Large Strips of Calf Liver (I used grass-fed organic calf liver)
-1/2 Medium Onion- sliced thin
-3 Cloves of Garlic- chopped
-3 tbsp Soya Sauce
-1 tbsp Olive Oil
-1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
-1/4 tsp Paprika
-1/4 tsp Black Pepper
-1/2 envelope Splenda or Pure-Via (Stevia)
-1 Bag 'Europe's Best' Frozen Mixed Veggies (I used the kind called "Nature's Balance" which has more Greens in it)
-1/4 tsp Sea Salt

In a large heated frying pan, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until slightly caramelized (use med-high heat setting for this), then place the strips of liver, try to keep them separate so they don't stick and can equally absorb all the onion flavor. Add the soya sauce, sprinkle the garlic powder, paprika and black pepper as well as the splenda/stevia to the liver and turn down the heat a bit. Let the liver strips cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, flip them once or twice. Cover the frying pan and let it finish cooking (can take a few minutes). Now, remove the liver strips and place 3 on each plate. 
You can now place the frozen veggies in the frying pan and cook them (they will have a nice flavor from the liver/onions you just cooked). Saute the veggies, you can add 2tsp of fresh butter or olive oil to them and sprinkle salt on top. Cover the veggies and let them cook. Serve them along-side the liver strips. This makes 2 servings. Enjoy!!!! :)