Weight lifting: Finding your “why”and Personal Interview with Angela Gordon: Owner of Benefit Studio

“You just need to start and you need to find your reason why”

For a very long time my workouts were mostly cardio with the occasional ab exercises and lunges thrown in there. If I wasn’t working up a sweat, then I wasn’t burning calories (or so I thought). Over the years, I’ve become an avid runner and I love everything about running. The freedom of going at your own pace, running with others, and just letting your mind run. As much as I love running, the more I run comes with the increased risk for injury. I’ve had my fair share of injuries and I started to notice a pattern…all of my injuries were related to overuse and muscles working extra hard to stabilize a weaker part of my body. I’ve been slowly increasing strength training exercises, but I would be doing the same exercises on repeat because I didn’t know what I SHOULD be doing.  I would talk with people and they would tell me I needed to be using more of the weight lifting machines, cable cords, bars etc. I was terrified! I don’t know about you, but my gym is pretty male dominant in the weight lifting area so I just never dared to step foot in there! Problem? Yes, because I wasn’t getting stronger and I didn’t want to ask someone to help me! Who can relate??

benefit stuido

Let’s fast forward to summer of 2018 where I found my answer—BENEFIT Studio. I initially bought a Groupon and I took a variety of classes and really feel in love with the Wednesday class at 5 am led by the owner: Angela Gordon. This class focuses on lifting heavier, but fewer and more controlled reps. Hands down I’ve never taken a class like this before and I was shocked when I found myself looking forward to waking up before the world does to go. Since I’ve been incorporating heavier lifting 1-2 times per week I feel stronger—my legs feel stronger when I hit the pavement, my arms are starting to have some definition and I can lift more than I thought I could! Talk about a cool feeling. What’s kept me going back to the studio is the edgy, but personable instructor, the people, and the safe environment to be yourself, pick something up, and get stronger.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Angela Gordon, owner of Benefit Studio to learn about her weight lifting journey, owning a business, and her weight lifting philosophy. Talk about an inspiring journey and I’m excited to share with you all! I was shocked when Ang told me that she loathed working out and you wouldn’t find her hanging out at the gym often (maybe ever?!). Well the guy she started seeing was pro gym and weight lifting so that’s where it all began. What I love about this story is that Ang had no idea what she was doing in the gym. How she learned? By watching the guy she was dating and his friends do squats, bench presses, deadlifts etc. After about 5-6 months of going to the gym consistently her clothes were too big (no change in eating or drinking habits I might add). The next step was to join the gym and when she did she figured out her form and continued to get stronger. Ang was able to lift more than the guys and she found her “why” for lifting. Lifting gave Ang confidence and she liked feeling and being strong. Looking back, it took Ang about 3 years before she started noticing changes—like how she went from a size 14 to a size 4-6 with only shedding 10 pounds! From 2008-2012 she continued to lift and bartend and the end goal was to be able to make the gym her full time job. Why? Because Ang learned first-hand how much better she felt and she wanted to be able to help others feel the same joy.

Ang

In 2011 Ang took her personal training certification and she was officially a personal trainer. Ang’s first job was in 2011 at Victory Lady Fitness Gym (an all-female gym) and her manager taught Ang how to relate to people and build a relationship. This was a perfect fit because Ang described herself to me as “a people person and I love to help people”. In 2013 she quit her bartending job and only worked at the gym, which led her to her second love: Group Fitness Instructor. It only took Ang 3 classes to realize she loved teaching group fitness classes. What I thought was so cool is her thought process behind her class flow. In the beginning Ang would go to different gyms and watch other instructors to see what they were doing, what fit well with her style and also to get class inspiration. In the beginning, all workouts would be written on a piece of paper (well now it’s all in her head!) and she would format her exercises based on who was attending class. Her workouts try to focus on arms, legs, and core. The goal of Ang’s classes are “to keep people engaged, not insanely hard, but not also a cake walk”.

In 2013 Ang began as a sub for Benefit Studio, but it took months before the owner at the time put her on the schedule. This caused some self-doubt and made Ang wonder if she made the right decision. Well after her first class the people loved her and she started teaching 1-2 classes per week on the regular. Ang also began to build her private training clients and in 2016 she became the co-owner of Benefit Studio with Emily Thomas. When asking Ang what made her buy a business was simple “she loved her job, what she was doing, and had met some really cool people along the way”. Ang doesn’t have a business background nor had any desire to own a business—but she knows about working hard. Ang is figuring the business side out as she goes, asks people for help and continues to feel lucky for waking up each morning doing what she loves.

I also had to ask Ang about the myth “lifting will make me huge!”  Her response “If someone gets huge it’s likely from steroids or eating > 10,000 calories per day. Most body builders are on illegal substances, not because they lift 3-4 times per week. If you’re worried about getting bigger then you can turn your lifting sessions into a maintenance program: completing 12-15 reps and not increasing your weights. If you are doing 6 or less reps with heavier weights you are creating new muscle growth and anything more than 10 reps is for endurance. Yes, your shoulders and arms might get a little bigger, your body dimensions might change, but it’s more about a distribution change than getting bigger”.

I was also very curious to hear about her lifting philosophy and what she enjoys most about being a fitness instructor and personal trainer. As I am still very new to the lifting scene I couldn’t wait to hear her answer. Ang’s philosophy “You just have to get past the feeling of being scared. Focus more on listening to your body and being aware. There is just something cool about feeling strong and being strong. You just have to start and find your reason why. The goal is to feel good in your own skin and that will be different for everyone.” Why do you teach? “I think one of the coolest things about being a trainer is you get to decide what to do. The possibilities are endless! I try to come up with 3 major moves “chest, back, legs”, and make 10-15 exercises with those major moves. I continue to teach because I want those who come to my class to feel great about being there and leave wanting to come back. I make it a point to know something personal about every sing person. I love a class size of 8-12 people because each person brings a different vibe and energy to the class.”

Ang has continued to teach and in December of 2018 became the sole owner of Benefit for “her people” who continue to come back to her classes for her unique teaching style, funky personality, and personable demeanor. For me, I’d say that my “why” was to prevent running injuries, but now my “why” is to feel stronger and confident in my own skin. If you are feeling nervous like I was about lifting, but want to try it—find a place like Benefit Studio.

Steph & Ang

Here’s a breakdown of the different classes you’ll find at Benefit Studio:

  • Monday: TRX mix-ups—lots of different and new moves using the TRX bands.
  • Tuesday: Shape and burn—Focuses more on stability and smaller movements while using resistant bands.
  • Wednesday: Empower—Slow and controlled; working on strength and strong mental connection.
  • Thursday: Muscle up—Dumbbell and body weight work—full body workout
  • Friday: Ohh FIT-organized chaos—Encourages variety by using different equipment throughout the workout.
  • Saturday: Workout with the Trainer-Team training with Angela, but still about your personal goals.
  • Sunday: Circuit training

Feeling curious and want to try BENEFIT out yourself?? Head to their website!

Want to get a taste of Angela’s workout style?? Click here for a FREE and NO EQUIPMENT workout that will get you sweating in no time!

Keep calm and pick up a weight 🙂

-Steph

 


Favorite Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes for Busy Weekdays

I think you’ve seen me type this, but what I eat for breakfast gets me up and out of bed! With that being said, I make sure that my breakfast choices are the furthest thing from boring. Unfortunately, I don’t have time most mornings (really any morning) before work to spend an hour in the kitchen making my breakfast. If you do—well I’m seriously jealous and wish I could be more efficient in the morning ;).

Working as a Pediatric Dietitian and having a full time job requires me to PLAN AHEAD for my meals. It took me about 2.5 years of eating the same boring meal for breakfast and lunch to discover the beauty of meal prepping! My belly was so much happier when the meal prepping started and my food boredom quickly left. I want to share with you today my approach to having breakfast staples at the ready during the week to free up your time! Free up your time to spend time outside of the kitchen doing activities such as running, hanging with friends, or catching up on my Netflix shows.

Before you keep reading, I want you to know that I am sharing my personal tips that have worked well for me based on my work schedule, activity schedule, and food preferences. My hope is to give you more insight on how to incorporate balanced breakfast choices into your weekly routine that doesn’t include the Starbuck’s drive thru, fast-food breakfast sandwiches, and saving you some money without sacrificing taste!

How I choose what recipes to meal prep:

  • -They can be portioned into individual containers
  • -Recipes that will keep 4-5 days
  • -Easy to freeze!
  • -Include real ingredients and packed with nutrition to fuel my morning!

Trail Mix for the Sole’s Breakfast Equation: Use wholesome ingredients, incorporate healthy fats, and plenty of protein!

15-20 grams of protein: Protein is key to helping me stay full and helps my muscles recover faster.

Go-To Protein sources–>Greek yogurt, plant-based protein powder, hemp seeds, nut butters, nuts/seeds, eggs, ricotta cheese.

40-50 grams carbohydrates: I focus more on complex carbohydrates (think oatmeal, steel cut oats, whole wheat bread, and quinoa) and fresh/frozen fruit. I’m more of a “sweet” breakfast person vs savory. On the weekends I may swap out my fruit for some veggies!

1-2 Tablespoon of healthy fats: Dietary fats are so important for giving our body’s energy and support for cell growth. They also protect our organs and keep our bodies warm! Fats also help us absorb certain nutrients. I encourage my clients to focus on incorporating more monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fats in their meals.

Examples: Flaxseed, chia seeds, nut butters, avocado, pumpkin/sunflower seeds

Mix-In’s: Granola, unsweetened coconut flakes, cacao nibs, trail mix, mulberries, dark chocolate and dried fruit.

My Top 4 Recipes

Cauli-proats–> This recipe is perfect for making the night before or even a couple days before! If you’re wanting oatmeal for breakfast, but not wanting all of the carbohydrates; give this recipe a try! I add protein powder to help keep me full throughout my morning. You can eat this cold or hot–I love both! Plus, what a great way to sneak in some veggies and extra fiber in the morning.

cauli oats

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup riced cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1 Tbsp nut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Toppings: fresh fruit, granola, or unsweetened coconut flakes

Berry Smoothie –> I love smoothies for breakfast pretty much any time of the year. When I have time on the weekends; I love pouring my smoothie into a bowl and adding all of my favorite toppings. During the week though, a mason jar is my best friend. I like to make my smoothies the night before, but what some of my clients will do is pre-portion your smoothie ingredients into Ziploc plastic bags so all you need to do is dump, add liquid and blend. It’s as easy as that! Smoothies are a great vehicle to start your day with some fruit AND vegetables, healthy fats and a super delicious combination.

smoothie on the go

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1/3 cup frozen cauliflower (or you can add spinach/kale)
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder

Blend and top with granola or more nut butter in the morning!

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl–> Sweet potatoes are something that you will almost always find in my pantry. I like how versatile they are and they taste great sweet or savory. Not to mention they pack a great amount of vitamin A and fiber (from the skin). I will roast 3-4 medium-sized sweet potatoes over the weekend and then I will simply reheat and top in the morning before heading out the door!

sweet potato bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato, roasted and then mashed (I roast my potatoes at 375 F for 40-45 minutes wrapped in foil with some olive oil or ghee)
  • 1/2 an apple or 1 banana, sliced
  • 4 ounces of Greek yogurt or ricotta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter

Place the warm sweet potato in a container and then add all of your toppings and enjoy! I love adding granola and coconut flakes to mine, too!

Steel-cut Overnight Oats –> Talk about the fastest meal prep recipe! Not to mention this will make enough for 6-8 servings! I’ve been reheating this or just eating it cold like overnight oats. Both are super delicious. I love the texture of steel-cut oats and this recipes gives such a creamy and chewy texture. Oats are high in fiber, good source of protein, are fortified with B vitamins, and provide you with complex carbohydrates to prevent that 10am blood sugar crash. I also like how you can add basically whatever you want to the oats so you never get sick of this bowl!

steel cut oats

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • Optional: protein powder, caramelized banana, nut butter

Directions: Add all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook for 2 minutes and then remove from heat, cover and let sit overnight. In the morning you just need to heat and eat!

 

If you find these breakfast tips and recipes helpful; I would love to work with you on taking your meals and recipes to the next level! Visit my “Work With Me Page” for more information!

 


How to feel full following a Vegetarian Diet + my “Staple” shopping list for eating plant-based!

The month of January is a time where many of us want to start fresh, set new goals, and jump into the new year on the right foot! Every January, I will try to write down 1 goal that is health focused, 1 goal that is financial focused, and 1 goal that is personal/mindset focused. Setting goals at the beginning of the year keeps me on track of my goals and helps me become the very best version of myself. Being a Dietitian, I receive a lot of diet and exercise questions around this time of year! One being “What diet should I be following to lose weight?” The U.S. News revealed the best diet rankings of 2019. Here are the top 3: Mediterranean Diet, DASH Diet, followed by the Flexitarian Diet. To be honest, I was surprised that the Ketogenic Diet did not make the top 3 with all the hype over the past year!

goals

If you couldn’t tell, I love sharing my personal recipes and tips for following a vegetarian diet. With being a vegetarian for over 10 years I’ve found my go-to plant-based proteins, how to make delicious meals that are appealing to my meat-lovers out there, and I’ve figured out what staples to always have on hand! That being said, I’ve also gotten practice on how to meal prep and grocery shop without spending an arm and a leg each trip! I want to share with you this month how you can incorporate more vegetarian recipes, how to meal prep, and also how to feel full without animal-based protein sources!

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me the same question of “how do you eat enough protein to keep you full without eating meat? Or “How do you eat enough calories to keep up with your exercise routines?” Needless to say, I’m excited to answer these questions today!

eat more plants

A vegetarian diet focuses on eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and incorporating more plant-based oils. The best part? Your plate is always bursting with color and you feel energized and not sluggish after eating a meal.  Protein is essential in our diet and it helps to build, repair, and maintain our body’s structures. Most plant-based proteins are incomplete, which means they are missing at least one of the essential amino acids (with the exception of quinoa and buckwheat).

Here is a quick list of some of my go-to protein sources:

  • Grains
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Soy
  • Hemp
  • Rice
  • Peas

Plant-based proteins are higher in antioxidants and fiber, but are low in vitamin B-12 and heme iron that come from certain animal proteins. Therefore, it’s always important to speak with someone knowledgeable before changing up your eating habits! My plate may have more volume than someone who does not follow a vegetarian diet. Why? Well plant-based proteins are usually lower in calories and protein, which means I just need more volume to meet my daily protein needs. My protein needs can change depending on if I am training for a marathon or some sort of race!

If you’re wanting more recipes or to see my vegetarian “staple” list click here!

Wishing you a healthy and happy 2019!

Steph kitchen

Steph, RD


Welcome to November!

I can’t believe we are already one week into the month of November!  Let the Holiday Season begin. I’m definitely excited for the next few months because I get to see my extended family, partake in our family Holiday traditions, and spend time in the kitchen cooking all of my favorite seasonal meals.

I tend to get more calls, texts or e-mails from my family and friends during this time wanting to know what healthy foods they should be eating, what foods to avoid, what workouts they need to be doing, and the most popular question “how to avoid that Holiday weight gain!”. So I thought to myself, I bet a lot of people have these thoughts and questions running through their minds—why not write a blog post about this?

fall

First and foremost, the Holiday is a time to enjoy spending time with those you care most about and sometimes this is the only time you will see a loved one the entire year! I know that for many, this time can be extremely stressful trying to manage all the different foods and interrupted routines. The Holiday is not meant to make you feel guilty, deprived, or being hard on yourself! I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of feeling angry at myself for having that extra cookie or second (or third) helping of stuffing, but we are all human! I always think that I would much rather remember the laughs and good company I had versus feeling angry at myself for straying away from my usual meals.

I’m excited to share tips and strategies throughout the season and today I’m sharing 5 personal tips! My goal is to give you tools to help you enjoy your family, friends, and food without the guilt or the weight gain! Research shows that on average, Americans gain approximately one to two pounds during the Holiday season and tends to stick over the years. I want to help you see that you can have your cake and eat it too!

If you have something in particular you want to know please send me an e-mail or message me on Instagram!

Click below for my tips!

Trail Mix for the Sole’s 5 Tips for the Holidays!

 

 


Harvest Pumpkin Loaf

I can’t believe it’s already the last week of September! What I really can’t believe is that this is the first week in Ohio when the weather actually feels like fall. Naturally, I was really itching to get into the kitchen and bake something that has all the fall flavors. Some sort of bread is what I was gearing towards so I thought let’s make some yummy pumpkin bread! I love this recipe because it’s not too rich, but has a natural sweetness to it from the maple syrup and spices!

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Harvest Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cashew nut milk pulp (or 1 cup of white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • pumpkin seeds (for topping)
  • granola (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, flaxseeds, and salt.
  3. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds. Then add to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir well.
  5. Pour batter into the loaf pan and top with pumpkin seeds, granola, and nuts.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for 35-45 minutes. Let the bread cool for 1 hour before slicing.

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Fresh Fig Blondies With Sweet Tahini Drizzle

I have seriously been on a fig kick lately and I’ve been incorporating this fruit in to so many different recipes! I typically buy dried figs, but I found fresh figs at Trader Joe’s and I’m hooked. They are sweet, but not too sweet! I’d say they remind me of dates in a way, which I also love. I’ve been wanting to bake something with figs so here they are–so sweet and delicious blondies! These bars are very addicting and if you aren’t figging crazy about the fruit, I think these bars might change your mind.

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Fresh Fig Blondies With Sweet Tahini Drizzle

Serves: 12 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of white cannellini beans
  • 1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh figs, pureed + more for topping
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper
  2. Drain and rinse the beans well and then add all ingredients excluding the figs to a high speed blender
  3. Blend on high until all ingredients are incorporated
  4. Pour mixture into pan and smooth evenly with a spatula
  5. Add 1/2 cup of fresh figs to the blender and blend until smooth
  6. Swirl with a knife the pureed fig mixture throughout the batter
  7. Top with sliced figs and granola
  8. Bake for 25-28 minutes
  9. Let bars cool and then refrigerate overnight
  10. Mix the tahini + powdered sugar. Add water to thin. Drizzle over top and then slice into 12 bars

Enjoy!

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Fall Trail Mix

The first week of September means time to make some fall inspired recipes. I’m definitely team snack and I have been wanting to make a new homemade trail mix recipe. Hello pumpkin trail mix! This recipe uses fresh pumpkin, fall spices, mixed nuts, raisins, coconut, and plantain chips. The perfect sweet and salty combination in every bite!

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Fall Trail Mix

Servings: Makes 3-4 cups (1/4 cup recommending serving size)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • 14 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp each of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, all spice, paprika, chili powder
  • ¾ cup dried raisins
  • ½ cup crushed plantain chips
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Combine the coconut oil, sugar, pumpkin and spices in a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour mixture over the nuts and toss to coat completely.
  4. Pour nut mixture in a single layer on a pan covered in parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool completely.
  6. Add in raisins, crushed plantain chips, and coconut.
  7. Store in an airtight container.

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