Fashion Spotlight: Express Sweaters + TWO Bikini Competitor Workouts

I am so happy on this gorgeous post election day! Now don’t read too much into that statement…I’ll never tell who I voted for because I don’t get into politics. Or religion. Confrontation and arguments simply aren’t my thing. I am happy today and it has nothing to do with the election. I’m happy because it’s finally cool outside and I get to wear my cool weather wardrobe! Yaaassss!! This kind of talk is way more my speed:) I’m also happy because this is the season for deer hunting, AKA “mommy’s favorite shopping time”. I’m definitely getting into the holiday spirit already…I’ve purchased several Christmas gifts, a roll of wrapping paper, and some new “naughty and nice” wine glasses. I just couldn’t pass those up. It’s the little things, right? Jett put up his little Christmas tree this week which he was SO excited for, and I plan to put our big tree up next week. I’m wanting to take some Christmas photos of the boys and I’ll need that tree in them! This Friday night I’ll be “Moonlight Madness” shopping with some of my girlfriends while our hubbies are in the deer woods…it’s always such a great opportunity to have some much needed girl time and buy some new holiday decor goodies.

So I have been doing some clothes shopping lately and I wanted to share a few of my favorite items from my favorite store, Express! They have been having a “buy 1, get 1 for $19.90” sale on the sweaters and I’ve taken major advantage of that. Each of these sweaters that I’m linking are sweaters that I actually purchased and have worn. I love them all! I have checked and the current sale is “buy 1, get 1 50% off”, plus they have a $25 off of a $100 purchase coupon. Happy shopping!

Striped Mock Neck Sweater $59.90

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Space Dye Shaker Knit Sweater $59.90

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Crocheted Cable Knit Mock Neck Sweater $59.90

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Front Zip Circle Hem Sweater  $69.90

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Ladder Shoulder Knit Boxy Sweater $59.90

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Space Dyed Boxy Cold Shoulder Sweater $49.90

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Slash Neck Sweatshirt  $49.90 (yes I know, it’s not a sweater, but it’s SO good that I had to include it! I’m wearing it in my glute exercise video today FYI.)

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Alright, so as you can see, I’ve gone a little sweater crazy this season. I really need an emoticon right now and it kills me that I can’t use them! Ugh, the struggles of trying to be a “proper” writer who doesn’t use little animated faces to convey her emotion…it’s so real. If you text me you will see my insane use of emoticons and it will probably annoy you:))

Now moving on to the fitness portion of today’s post…if you read my last post you learned all about how hard it is to compete in the world of fitness. I discussed the time and sacrifice required to be a successful competitor and I gave you a full bikini competitor leg day. Can I just say that I was SOOOOO sore after that workout?!! Major sore. Like sore for a week kind of sore. So if you love putting yourself in physical pain as much as I do, I highly recommend trying that one! Today I am giving you two more workouts that would be typical for an off season bikini competitor. The first one is for your upper body and the second one is primarily for the booty! I’m not going to go into great detail on these because I went into detail on the videos. To get the SlingShot band that I mentioned in the glute video please click HERE. I like the size large in that band.

Workout #1: Shoulders/Chest/Triceps

  • 5×15 dumbbell shoulder press
  • 5×15 side lat raise
  • 5×15 arnold press
  • 5×15 high rope pulls (face pulls)
  • 5×15 tricep rope pushdown
  • 4×15 bench dips
  • 3×15 flat fly
  • 3×10 each arm bench press

Workout #2: Glute Workout

  • 5×15 each leg glute machine
  • 5×15 cable squat/deadlift combo
  • 5×15 hypers

Then do the following 4 times, resting 30 seconds between rounds:

  • 15 wide stance squat jumps
  • 20 squat and kick back (10 each leg)
  • 20 banded squats neutral stance

Thank you so much for reading my posts and watching my videos! I truly appreciate the nice comments and support. If you have any questions please email me at fitbyashley@yahoo.com. I will see you next week for a back/bicep workout and another awesome leg day!

xoxoxo

Ashley

So you think you wanna be a bikini competitor (or at least look like one)?

Happy Tuesday!! It’s such a perfectly gorgeous day here in Southeast Missouri…warm, sunny, breezy….so atypical but I’m loving it. I wish it would stay like this year round. Well a couple of days of playing in the snow would be nice, but that’s about the only part of winter that I enjoy;) Halloween has now passed and my fam lived it up as far as decorating and dressing up in fun costumes.  I was a zombie last Tuesday night, the boys dressed up for a party last Thursday night, and of course we went all out for trick or treating last night! Welcome to Hallothanksmas everyone…before we know it Thanksgiving will be here and then Christmas!! Crazy. I bought my first two Christmas gifts online last night and that blows my mind. There is so much to look forward to, but a hectic schedule awaits as well, oh my!

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For the the time being my personal training schedule has died down a bit…competition season is over and my competition clients have just started their off season, aka “improvement season”. Everyone is lifting a little differently (more straight sets instead of supersets) with the goal of building more muscle so we can come in stronger when the season starts back up in April. We finished up strong with Patty taking 2nd in her open class, Mariah taking 2nd in the teen class, and Dana taking 3rd in open and 4th in masters figure in Nashville. I was SO proud of these girls!

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And that brings me to the subject of today’s post. It never fails, every time I post photos on my social media of the competition clients, I immediately get an influx of messages from girls who want to compete, and just as many from girls who don’t want to actually step onstage, they simply want to get that same look. And this is where it gets a little sticky. If you’ve followed my blog since the beginning you might have seen my video called “A Day in the Life of a Bikini Competitor”. If you missed it, click HERE. I basically detailed every single thing I was doing on a daily basis in order to get ready for my first competition last season. And let me tell you, it’s like a full time job. If you’ve never done it or lived with someone who has done it you have no clue how time consuming it is. I haven’t met a successful competitor yet who didn’t have to bust her butt hardcore to get ready for a competition. The main reason people stop competing is because either they don’t have time in their busy schedule for that extra full time job, or their body is just SO tired that they can’t continue. In my case it was both of those things. I have no desire to continue to compete because I’ve made the decision to prioritize my family and my health over having 9% body fat for months on end. It. Is. grueling.

Now let me add something here. I would encourage anyone who has the desire to do this to DO it. It’s an experience that you won’t regret. You’ll discover that you can achieve body goals you never thought possible. You’ll also discover how mentally strong you can be. Training clients for competitions is my passion, and I hope that I get as many competitors as possible next season! This post is simply to let people know what kind of hard work and discipline they’re in for when they start a bikini competition training plan. As I mention in today’s video, a bikini plan must be followed 100% in order to achieve the desired results. Following it 75% will not cut it. For example, if the plan says to do 5 sets of every exercise and you only do 3, you will not fatigue the muscles as intended. Same with cutting the cardio short. And trust me, I’ll know how closely you’re following that plan;))

My best advice is this: if you already have a 5 day a week workout routine and you’re already eating healthy foods or tracking macros, you’re probably ready. If you either a) don’t workout at all or b) work out but don’t have a routine and don’t have a clue of how to meal prep, follow a meal plan, or track macros, you should probably wait until you get all of that in order before diving into competition prep. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen gals who eat terribly and don’t work out at all go through a 12 week prep and actually compete successfully, but that is not the norm. Let’s focus on healthy and happy, ok?:) The following photo is a before and after comparison of my client Patty. She has been lifting for years and already had an established 5 day a week workout routine, and she knows how to eat to reach her goals. She was already in great “everyday fit” shape. During prep she was lifting 1-1.5 hours a day plus doing about 20-30 minutes of cardio 5x a week at the beginning of prep and she ended up doing about 50-60 minutes of cardio 5x a week right before her competition. This is the perfect example of what I’m talking about. Even the people who are already dedicated to the gym life have to work HARD to reach their stage goals. This girl killed it this year and I couldn’t be happier with how she looked onstage.

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Today I want to give you an idea of what an off season workout looks like. Now keep in mind that this is fairly easy when compared to the actual 12-16 weeks of contest prep that you’ll go through if you decide to compete. The lifting is longer, the cardio more intense, and the macros/meal plan quite a bit more strict as well. I won’t go into the off season meal plan just yet. Let’s save that for the next post:) My next few blog posts will be featuring videos of actual bikini competition off season workouts. I hope this helps those of you who have tossed this competition idea around in your head. If you watch my video that I linked above and this one that I’m featuring today and you still want to compete, please email me at fitbyashley@yahoo.com and I’ll help you reach those competition goals that you’ve dreamed of! Thanks so much for reading this and for watching my videos. You all rock!

Today’s workout:

  • 5×15 smith machine plié squats (toes pointed out) I’m so sorry for the super close butt shot on the video…lol…my husband is really going to give me crap over that one!
  • 5×15 each leg sideways leg press
  • 5×20 barbell step ups
  • 5×15 each leg cable kickbacks
  • 5×15 wide stance stiff leg deadlifts
  • 5×15 outer thigh machine leaning forward

Cardio: to be done after weight training. (Not in video)

Do the following 2 times on the treadmill:

  • 5 min walk incline 3 speed 3.8
  • 1 min db side lat raises off treadmill
  • 1 min sprint incline 3 speed 6.5
  • 1 min push-ups off treadmill
  • 2 min walking lunges incline 3 speed 2.0

Gosh, I just love the faces I’m making on the covers of these videos. LOL! I really hope you all enjoyed this post and maybe it answered some questions for some folks. Hopefully I will see you all again later this week! Thanks so much for watching…

xoxoxo

Ashley

 

Naturally Curly Hair Tutorial+ Weekly Recap

 

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Hi guys!! I’m so excited about today’s post because I haven’t done a beauty tutorial in seriously forever. Hair and makeup stuff is such a passion of mine…I’m always so excited to try the latest and greatest new products and the eyeshadow palette that I’m featuring today is the BEST one I’ve ever had!

Before we get into the tutorial I thought I’d give a little rundown of what’s been going on in our world this past week or so. Over the weekend the boys and I got festive and creative with some DIY Halloween projects that I found on Pinterest. Both of my boys love crafting, but it’s something that we don’t do often simply because we just don’t have a ton of free time these days. This time we actually planned our crafting night…I cooked chili and we got super fancy with our little Halloween decor! The first thing we did was make lots and lots of little bats to hang on our wall. Jett swears up and down that he is the world’s best “cutter outer” so he was nominated to cut out the majority of these bats. I did the tracing and the boys did the cutting. Jett is only six years old and he was double timing Landon who is eleven. And boy did he ever brag about it. Confidence is something that boy is most definitely not lacking. Ha! To make your own flying bats click HERE.

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Up next were these adorable little tissue paper covered mason jars with a flameless tea light. Now on these I had to be a little more hands on than I expected. We had to use Mod Podge to glue the tissue paper to the jar and it was pretty tedious and messy. The boys would’ve never gotten this done and I’m a total control freak perfectionist so I jumped in. The boys did cut the tissue paper strips. LOL. I absolutely love how these turned out! The boys think they’re the coolest. To see how we made these click HERE.

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Another fun thing we did this weekend was a family picnic at Big Spring in Van Buren. It’s a natural spring a little over an hour away from our home, and it’s beautiful there! I got some great photos of the boys. I really really need to get some of these on canvas for my walls! We ate, we hiked, we climbed, we stopped and looked at every little thing, and we had some great quality time with family…it was great.

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Ok now for the tutorial! Today I’m sharing a video on how I fix my naturally wavy, frizzy hair. It’s so funny because when I was little I had stick straight hair. Then when I turned 11 I hit puberty and all of a sudden I had curls. Hormones are so weird! So I have lived with this hair for twenty-five years now and honestly I love it. It’s so nice because I really don’t HAVE to fix my hair…I can wear it natural and it looks pretty decent. I was blessed with thick, soft hair. I have friends who have curly hair, but it’s not as manageable as mine. So I do thank my lucky stars for my hair! I don’t know where it came from because nobody else in my family got it…genetics are a strange thing. However, since I had seven inches cut off my hair I like it way better curly now! I used to straighten it all the time or curl all of it with a curling iron because the shape wasn’t that great in my long, layered hair. Now that it’s shorter and closer to all the same length I think it’s pretty cute curly! Yay for that! I use It’s a 10 Leave In Silk Express spray, Moroccanoil Molding Cream (if you live where I live you can buy this at Indigo Salon), and a 1″ Hot Tools curling iron. A diffuser similar to the one that I used in this video can be purchased HERE. The entire process from out of the shower to completely styled is about 10-15 minutes. It depends on how long I go between putting in the pomade and actually blow drying. Sometimes I’ll wait 10-15 minutes before blow drying so it isn’t as wet to begin with. However, do not let it completely air dry! You will have no volume. Diffusing, especially upside down, is what creates the volume. That’s super important. Plus if your hair is as thick as mine it will take forever to air dry. I hope you enjoy this tutorial!

Well the next tutorial was supposed to be my rose gold smoky eye. I filmed the video, got it from my camera onto my computer, edited it, uploaded it to youtube and it was terrible! LOL! I watched it and it looked like I was wearing clown makeup. Not good. I chose the worst possible lighting (thinking it was the best lighting) and just NO. I even ran it by one of my co-workers and she agreed that I shouldn’t post it. So I’m not:) The makeup that I’m wearing in the curly hair tutorial was the makeup from the eyeshadow tutorial and it looked ok in that lighting. It photographed quite well. So I’ll just post photos and hope that will be good enough. Maybe I’ll make a new video for the palette soon in better lighting! Now for those of you who want to get THE PALETTE, all I’m going to say is good luck. It was not easy for me to get my hands on this! These are limited edition and sell out very quickly every time they are re-stocked. I don’t know if Huda is going to stock more of these or not. She’s making a killing on them so she would be crazy not to. Time will tell. I have been watching Huda’s youtube videos for a couple of years and I just love her! Her tutorials are great, so you should definitely check them out if you love makeup like I do. If you cannot get the palette and you like the look of the textured shadows, you might try THESE by Stila. I’m so sorry that this tutorial did not work out the way I wanted it to. I’m bummed:/

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Thank you so much for reading this post! I really enjoyed creating these hair and makeup looks and I hope some of you will try doing this look for yourself! Have a wonderful weekend…I know I’m going to!

xoxoxo

Ashley

Plate Workout for Home/Gym + Current Favorites

Hey guys!! I’ve been away for a few weeks again…making blog posts is always on my mind, but lately things have just been super busy with work and the kiddos, and the blogging has been on a back burner again:) I know all the working mommas out there will feel me on this one! Bikini competition season has still been in full swing and my girls (my competition clients that is) have been needing me. This past weekend was SUPER exciting! We traveled to St. Louis to watch my sweet and beautiful client, Patty, compete in her very first competition. Let me just say that being behind the scenes instead of onstage has been so incredibly fulfilling for me. I was an emotional roller coaster all weekend. In a great way! Patty ended up winning her competition and I was just SO incredibly proud of her!! These girls become like my children, and this competitive momma loves seeing her babies bring home the gold! We will be traveling to Nashville in a couple of weeks to do it all again, but this time I will have three babies competing instead of just one. The excitement is just oozing around my house these days!

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Along with my work, the boys have been keeping me running as well. Jett has been playing soccer, Landon made the fifth grade choir AND had a birthday, and my husband has been killing it in his bass tournaments. I’m so proud of my men!!

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With all of these things going on my fitness routine has been slacking a little, but I’m hoping to pick up the pace again soon. Hubby and I have started ordering meals from a meal prep company in St. Louis and having them shipped to our home. This has been such a dream come true because I’m not spending hours each week cooking. The cost is a little high, but with our busy schedules and all of our travel it has been well worth the money. The meals are costing us about $150-$170 a week and I’m posting photos below so you can see exactly how this works and what we’re getting. For more info on the prep company that we are using click here. Basically their menu changes each week, and I simply log in to my account on their website to choose what meals we want for that week. It’s great!

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Along with these Metabolic Meals, I have a few other current favorites that I’d like to share with you. You can click on any of these for the link!

1. Clinique Chubby Stick Foundation

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What do I love so much about this foundation? It’s EASY to apply and the coverage is great and very lightweight! I’ve received more compliments on my skin than ever since I’ve started using this. I simply apply it directly from the stick, then use a multi-purpose makeup brush to blend it in. I’m telling you, my 6 year old boy could do this. It’s just that simple.

2. Express EXP Core top

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This lightweight, not too snug but not too loose top is just so comfy and cute. I want to wear it every day. I wish they made it in 10 colors. It is currently available in the grey marl that I’m wearing, and basic black.

3. Express distressed mid rise leggings (jeans)

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I bought these last weekend and they are BOMB. Perfect color, perfect rise, perfect amount of stretch. Love, love, love! Express jeans are my favorite because they fit so great and they’re not outlandishly priced. Get some!

4. Booty Queen Apparel workout leggings

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I purchased my first pair of these gems at the bikini competition last weekend from the “booty queen” herself, Amanda Latona. If you know much about the competition world, you definitely know Amanda. She has graced the covers of every major fitness magazine, and I’m just gonna tell you that the girl knows how to make the perfect workout pants. The rise is very high, the material is great quality, and they’re just so darn flattering and cute! I’ll be buying more. These babies cost me $80 and they’re worth every penny. Now the cutouts ARE a little racy, so if you’re ultra conservative these will not be for you. That’s my disclaimer on that one!

5. Fitjoy Bars

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These are hands down my new favorite protein bar. The iced chocolate brownie flavor tastes just like a Little Debbie brownie. I’m serious. You can buy these at GNC. The macros are 8F/25C/20P and they have 12g fiber. Thank me later;)

Now that I’ve shared some of my current favorites, let’s move on into the fitness portion of today’s post shall we? I decided to make things easy this week and go for a workout that only requires one piece of equipment: a 10 lb plate.

The workout: Do the following routine 3 times, resting 1 minute between rounds.

50 high knees
15 front raise
15 squat and press
50 butt kicks
15 tricep extensions
20 skater lunges
20 criss cross jumps
30 bus drivers
30 russian twists
20 toe touches for abs

As always, please consult your doctor before beginning a new workout program! Your health and safety are the most important things. Be smart! I hope you love this workout…have a fabulous week!

xoxoxo

Ashley

Our Trip to New York City

“New York is not a city, it’s a world.” – Unknown

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A month or so ago, my husband and I decided to take a trip to New York. We had already taken 4 trips this year, so another one seemed a little overkill, but it was his birthday and we only have one life to live, so why not, right? Our philosophy is that we work so we can play…we believe in life experiences more than material things. I think it’s also important to add that we rarely take our children on our vacations. This is something that many people don’t understand, but to us it makes sense. These little mini vacations, along with the week long overseas excursions, strengthen our relationship. We have an absolute blast together…I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather see the world with than my husband. He keeps me constantly laughing…especially on trips like this one where we’re just a couple of rural rednecks trying to survive 3 days in a very urban setting.

My favorite quote of the week from my husband (who is wearing a Cardinals shirt, plaid shorts, tennis shoes with socks that are a little too tall, and in Soho nonetheless)…”Babe, do I look like a tourist or do I fit in?” My response: “Ummm…if you want to fit in we need to go buy you some skinny jeans and a scarf.” Now if you know my hubby, you will laugh at the mental image you just conjured up:))

When we originally planned this trip, we did not want to have any kind of agenda. We despise itineraries! The only thing that was a definite plan was Ground Zero. I came to NYC a few months ago for only one day and all I did was shop, so really this trip was the first real New York experience for both of us. Seeing the 9/11 Memorial and museum was definitely at the top of our list, and words really can’t express how powerful that experience was. I’m going to do my best to describe the way I felt while being at the site of the 9/11 attacks.

NYC #1 Experience: 9/11 Memorial

On September 11, 2001, as I was driving my cat to the vet, I heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I had never been to New York and really wasn’t even familiar with what the WTC looked like, so the enormity of this didn’t mean a whole lot to me at that point. My next errand was the dentist, and as I was getting my teeth cleaned I was watching the news. That was when the second plane flew into the other tower. Of course, like everyone else in the country, we were confused. What just happened?! This was not an accident. I remember watching the towers fall, seeing the piles of debris, watching in horror as the rescue efforts took place. I will never forget the hopeless feeling that I felt as the next few days unfolded.

And that leads me to the main point of this particular piece of this post: what we saw on TV made the devastation seem minimal compared to what it actually was. You can’t possibly look at the debris pile from 9/11 in photos or on TV and fully understand the enormity of it. If you haven’t been to New York and stood where the towers once stood, it’s difficult to picture how huge they were. When you walk on the streets of Manhattan and get to physically see exactly how widespread the debris and dust damage were, it’s practically unimaginable. And it’s eerie. VERY eerie. The feeling you get when standing at Ground Zero is overwhelming. It’s a feeling of sadness, fear, peace, pride, and the greatest sense of patriotism and American strength that you might possibly ever feel. I’m not kidding. I knew I would feel sadness, but I had no idea that standing in front of those memorial pools would evoke such raw emotion. Even as I type this I feel the need to cry. It’s really indescribable.

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After we looked at the memorial pools we went into the museum. I recommend getting there at 9am when they open because the line for entry gets long fast. The museum itself is beautiful. There is dark wood everywhere and the design is immaculate. It is HUGE. There are lots of pieces of the towers, such as steel beams, concrete walls, etc, inside this museum. I think the most powerful part of the museum for me was seeing how massive these individual pieces were. One steel beam is absolutely massive. And there were literally hundreds of them in the debris pile, which was 7 stories tall. Again, seeing it in photos or on TV is not an appropriate reflection of how epic this debris pile was. Seeing the twisted, bent, and melted steel, the crushed fire trucks, the huge wires that were severed, the intense heat damage that occurred, etc. is overwhelming. There are also pieces of the hijacked planes, including a window from one of them.

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Along with these massive pieces of debris that you will see in the museum are smaller and more intimate things, such as personal belongings of those who perished and those who survived, including shoes, purses, eyeglasses, handwritten goodbye letters, uniforms worn by rescue workers, and many other artifacts. One of the most gut wrenching aspects of this tour were the recordings that you could listen to. There are numerous “phones” that you can pick up and listen to phone calls that were made from people on the hijacked planes to their loved ones, calls from the flight attendants to air traffic control, a recording of the hijackers talking to the passengers, etc. I made the decision to not pick up any of these phones. It was too much. Too overwhelming. I read the text of the calls, but couldn’t bring myself to listen.

I was allowed to photograph some of the larger pieces, but most of the things were in an exhibit where photography wasn’t allowed, so I pulled a few of these photos from Google images.

Another amazing structure that we saw at Ground Zero was the newly finished Oculus, which is a transit hub, and was created to look like a flying dove to symbolize the rising up from the ashes of 9/11. It is breathtaking! This experience is vital for anyone who has the opportunity to visit NYC. The cost of tickets for this was $24 per person.

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NYC #2 Experience: “Wicked” on Broadway

When we decided to take this little mini vacay to NYC I was torn on whether or not to do the Broadway thing. I’m typically not into live theater or musicals at all. I love the music from lots of famous musicals, but I simply do not enjoy the live acting. I’ve seen several live theatrical productions and I was not impressed. My husband is even less enthused with this type of thing than I am, so seeing a Broadway show was not at the top of our list. However, we really wanted to fully immerse ourselves in the New York experience, and we felt that we couldn’t do that without seeing a real live Broadway show.

When trying to decide which show to see, we also thought about “School of Rock”, “Phantom of the Opera” (I love the music from that one), “Chicago”, and “Cats” (hearing “Memory” live would be simply amazing to me). Ultimately we went with Wicked and we were both very pleasantly surprised! We went into the experience knowing nothing about the story behind Wicked, other than it was a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. The costumes were soooo amazing, the acting was great, the music was perfect, and I LOVED the story! I’ve seen people on Facebook posting about how they cry when they hear the original actors sing certain songs, and I don’t quite understand that, however I did really enjoy it and I would see it again! And can we just talk for a moment about these dresses that I’m including photos of that were designed for the original Elphaba and Glinda on Broadway?? The Glinda dress was gorgeous! Our tickets to the show were about $300 total and we sat in the orchestra section, 5th row back from the stage.

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NYC #3 Experience: Big Bus Tour

The Big Bus tour is one of many double decker bus tours in the city. What’s so great about this is that it’s a guided tour through each of the 6 (I think) neighborhoods in NYC, and you can get off and on at any of the 17 stops. We got off at Noho/Soho/Little Italy/Chinatown, and again at Chelsea. I learned so much about the city by going on this tour. For instance, did you know that NYC has the highest populations of Chinese, Italian, and Russian people in the US? The city is also home to more Puerto Ricans than Puerto Rico. To say the city is diverse is a huge understatement. We also learned about which neighborhoods which celebs live in, the rent prices in the different neighborhoods (Tribeca is average $6K per month!!), and we saw the hotel that the Titanic survivors were taken to. The tour was very fun and informative and it cost us about $75 total. This is a heck of a lot cheaper than taking cabs or Uber from neighborhood to neighborhood!

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NYC #4 Experience: the food!!

Lincoln Square Steak: This is where we ate dinner on night 1, which was my husband’s birthday. We make it a priority to eat a good steak in each city we visit, and we have actually dubbed ourselves as “steak connoisseurs”. Lincoln Square Steak did not disappoint! I had the filet, Moe had the New York strip (not his usual choice but it just felt RIGHT to eat a NY strip in NY), and we shared potatoes au gratin and mac n’ cheese. It was all amazing. We also received a dessert sampler platter, compliments of the chef, which I thought was so nice! This was also the location of my very first dirty martini experience, and let’s just say that it was less than desirable and I will never ever ever be ordering one of those ever again. LOL. Notice that I’m smiling in the photo because it was taken PRE first drink. The smile turned into gaggy face pretty quickly. Over all the experience was wonderful and I would certainly recommend it. Average price per person is about $60-$80 including drinks.

-Natsumi: This is where we had dinner before the Broadway show, as it’s located right across from Gershwin Theater. Natsumi is a Japanese restaurant with a great sushi bar. FYI they do not have hibachi. The sushi was amazing and the entrees we ordered were delicious. VERY good Japanese food! The cost here was about $30-$50 per person including drinks.

-Artichoke Basille’s Pizza: When we hopped off the bus tour in Chelsea we decided we wanted some authentic NY pizza. I searched Trip Advisor and came up with Artichoke Basille’s. First of all, the slices are ginormous…we shared 3 slices and we could not finish them. We tried the artichoke pizza first, and let me just say that I would typically not order this. I only wanted to try it because that’s what this particular place is famous for, and like I said earlier, I wanted to experience New York 100%. Surprisingly, the artichoke pizza was really really good! We also tried a meatball slice and a pepperoni slice and they were also very tasty. I think we spent a total of about $40-$50 here!

-Toloache: This is in the Times Square/Theater district, and it’s where we ate on our last night in NYC…we really weren’t that starved after having pizza at Artichoke Basille’s, so we ordered their guacamole (amazing), and the appetizer tacos. Moe ordered the carne asada and I got the brisket. They were small but oh so good! The highlight of the meal was the dessert platter which featured various desserts, including flan with caramel corn on top. I don’t know who thought of this idea, but in my mind that person is a true genius!! This meal cost about $40 per person including drinks.

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-Magnolia Bakery: This adorable little bakery is located right by Rockefeller Center and each time we passed by I swear I was drooling over the yummy deliciousness staring at me from the windows. On the last day I finally made hubby walk the 5 blocks from our hotel on over there so I could get a cupcake, for the love of God! There is ALWAYS a line at this place, so that must say something about how famous it is and how good their desserts are. This is apparently the bakery where Carrie always got her cupcakes from on Sex and the City. I ordered a vanilla cupcake and an oatmeal raisin cookie and Moe got the red velvet cupcake. SO good! The icing was simply delectable:) I think our bill here was $8, so not too bad really, at least by NYC standards.

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-The street food!!! If you’ve ever been to New York City you know what I’m talking about. On every corner there are little vendors set up, and they are serving everything from hot dogs to pretzels to ice cream to stir fry. The smell is so intoxicating, and even if you’re stuffed beyond stuffed, you’ll still be tempted to order something because it’s just THAT good. When we left the LOL Comedy Club on Friday night it was cold and rainy, but that did not stop us from waiting on some of the yummy street food. I got a pretzel with spicy mustard and Moe got a platter with chicken and rice. So good, especially at 2 am in the rain…and because we love making memories. I have no clue how much this cost because, like I said, it was cold and raining and too late for me to actually care. Ha:)

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-TSQ: This is a French restaurant at Times Square and I loved it because it’s directly on Broadway and you can sit by the windows for a great people watching experience. We had lunch here on Thursday, and breakfast here on Saturday. I had a salad for lunch and the petite PB&J waffles for breakfast. While we loved the lunch, the breakfast was the shining star! Their breakfast sandwiches (either on croissants or panini bread) are huge and delicious. The waffles were incredible. I highly recommend this one! I think our cost per meal was about $20 each for food only. We were not drinking alcoholic beverages at breakfast or lunch…crazy, I know…gotta hydrate at some point!!

NYC Experience #5: Shopping

Ok I could literally write a novel about the shopping in NYC. There’s Fifth Avenue, Soho, Chelsea, and on and on and on. Think of any store that you absolutely love and you will find it here. Bloomingdale’s and Saks and Lord and Taylor, oh my! The shopping options are endless. We actually did not shop much because this was not a shopping vacation. BUT let’s just leave it at this…I could’ve spent an absolute fortune quite easily. Now I personally am not into couture clothing or the really high end designers because I simply cannot afford it, plus I’m a bargain girl at heart and I can’t live with myself if I buy one piece of clothing that costs $500 when I could go to TJ Maxx or Target and get an entire wardrobe for that. However, it’s still fun to browse around in these places. We did go to Zara, Superdry, Express, and the Frye store. Ahhhh the Frye store. Ok so I said I’m a bargain girl and that is very true, but when it comes to good boots you will definitely catch me spending a pretty penny because I do believe that you get what you pay for when it comes to good footwear. Well some of it anyway. I was on the hunt for a good pair of mid height low heel harness boots and the Frye store was my haven for that. I ended up with a great pair!

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So there you have it…our experience in “the big apple” was a success! There are a few other tips I’d like to share if you’re planning a trip to this amazing city anytime soon:

  1. If you want to see a filming of a TV show you need to book it well in advance! I really wanted to do this, but when I looked for tickets about a month ago everything was already sold out. If you don’t have tickets you can always wait in a standby line, and we actually looked into that, but this girl does not like big groups and long lines for a long period of time. We learned our lesson on this one. If you’re walking around the city in the morning, chances are that you will see the news shows being filmed, and that’s pretty neat, but if you’re looking to actually sit in a studio audience you need to book ahead.
  2. Wear comfy shoes! I cannot stress this enough. Forget the Jimmy Choo’s if you plan on hiking around the city all day. Even if you take a cab or Uber, chances are that you will still have to walk several blocks on many occasions. I wore heels a couple of nights and I honestly wanted to chunk them out the window when we got back to the hotel because my feet were dying. Not good.
  3. Book your trip in the fall if you want some fabulous weather. I think September was the ideal time to visit because the temperatures were perfect and the breeze was so nice. I hear that Christmas in New York is a wonderful experience, but you’ll never catch me there in December because it just gets too cold. I felt that we could fully enjoy everything because it was so pleasant outside.
  4. Take lots of money. Take double what you think you need to take because everything in NYC is expensive. This is not a cheap vacation. And I really didn’t even shop. Ouch!!

Well I think I’ve just about covered it. This was my first real trip to New York City, so I’m an expert by NO means, but if you have questions about anything that I experienced please feel free to ask me! I’m always happy to share:))

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xoxoxo

Ashley

Full Body Barbell Workout + Monthly Recap

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Happy Thursday!! Who else is ready for this long weekend that we’re about to have? I know I am. This will probably be our last river trip of the season and that kind of depresses me. The river is my happy place and I will miss it dearly. I love summer and I’m not ready to see it go…however, I also love the fall weather. Bring on the leggings and boots! Notice I did not say jeans and boots. I own tons of jeans but I rarely wear them because to me leggings ARE pants:) Another favorite part about fall for me is sitting out on my deck and drinking coffee and eating my breakfast before I wake up the kids…I love the peacefulness of country living.

This past weekend we took the boys to St. Louis for a fun filled weekend of concerts (Little Big Town and Luke Bryan), Cardinals game, good food, swimming, and the Science Center. We had so much fun! Jett Michael just turned 6, and Landon and my husband will both be having birthdays this month, so we just call this time of year “birthday season” and that was the reason for our fun trip. Our sweet weimaraner, Indie, just had a birthday yesterday as well…she is a year old now so technically I have two 6 year olds! Ha:) My hubby and I are taking a trip to New York City for his birthday in 3 weeks and I am pumped for that. I’ve been to NYC once and was only able to explore the city for a day. And who are we kidding…I pretty much just shopped. So this time we plan on doing all of the tourist stuff like visiting Times Square, Ground Zero, and possibly a Broadway show. If anyone has any recommendations for anything please comment and tell me all about it! We would love some restaurant suggestions. I have still been doing my usual macro tracking, but when we take our trip I plan on living it up with my food! Yay!!

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Indie turns 1!

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Meal prep for the kiddos

Speaking of food…this year I have made a commitment to send my little ones to school with healthy lunches made with love by yours truly. School has been in session for 3 weeks now and so far we have only eaten the school lunch ONE time! This is a huge victory for me. In the past if the kids wanted to take their lunch I just threw a Lunchable in their lunchbox and called it good. In school years past, we have always been in a hurry in the mornings and usually arrived at school at the very last second. This year I am turning over a new leaf by getting up earlier so I can be more organized in making a healthy breakfast for the kids, getting their healthy lunches put together, and making sure that we get to school early. I mean seriously, who am I??? This is crazy. It feels SO good to know that we are so on top of things thus far. Now I’m not saying that I don’t end up yelling at one kid or the other or both sometimes because that happens frequently. It seems like someone always has to pee at the last minute, or doesn’t have shoes on, or has shoes but no socks on, or has bed head and needs pomade, and the list goes on and on. But by golly we are making it to school with time to spare! I feel productive…like I really have my act together. LOL. As a result of this newfound priority to have healthy children who arrive to school early, well fed, and toting healthy food, I am not looking so cute when I arrive to work these days. Makeup is sort of a thing of the past. You win some, you lose some;)) BUT I always have on cute gym clothes and that, my friends, is a win!

For today’s workout I decided to keep things simple and only use one piece of equipment, a barbell. I chose a 25 lb barbell, but you can go heavier if you want! Trust me though, 25 lbs gets heavy by that 4th set.

The workout: today we will be doing supersets, which means that there will be no rest between each exercise. You will only rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute after you have completed all exercises in the superset. So for example, on the first one you will do 15 squats, 15 good mornings, 15 deadlifts, then rest for 30-60 seconds before starting all over again.

Superset #1 – 4 times

  • 15 squats touching butt to bench
  • 15 good mornings
  • 15 deadlifts

Superset #2 – 4 times

  • 15 each leg alternating reverse lunge
  • 12 clean and press
  • 12 bicep curl

Superset #3 – 4 times

  • 10 wide grip bench press for chest
  • 10 close grip bench press for triceps

Superset #4 – 3 times

  • 10 double leg lift
  • 5 double leg lift with toe touch

I hope everyone has a nice, relaxing holiday weekend! See you soon…

xoxoxo

Ashley

My Food Diary + Full Body Home Workout AND Upper Body Gym Workout

Well it’s that time of year again…back to school! Yesterday was the first day of kindergarten for my baby, Jett, and the first day of 5th grade for my big boy, Landon. This summer really has flown by. We have lived it up for the last few months…we’ve been to the river at least two weekends a month, I’ve been to New York twice, my husband and I went to Jamaica, and the boys and I have had tons of swimming days, snow cones, ice cream, and water balloon fights:) The thing I’m going to miss most about summer is being able to sleep in! It’s back to the grind for us as far as being on a schedule, and it’s back to the grind for me with my workouts and macro counting. Today I decided I would share two days of my actual food diary with you so you can see that being in shape and maintaining a good weight does not have to taste bland or be a strict meat and veggies diet!

This month has been fun for me because I have a new trainer which means an all new and different workout program, plus a whole new meal plan. I am carb cycling for the first time and I really really love it! Carb cycles can be done in multiple ways, and what works for me may not work for you. The most important thing when doing a carb cycle is to find someone knowledgeable to help you figure out what your macros should be and which days you need to have high carb and low carb days. For me the high carb days are always on leg days, and the low carb days are on upper body and rest days. My trainer has given me my exact macro numbers for each of those days, and all I have to do is make sure I hit those numbers by the end of the day. I do have a sample meal plan to go by so I know approximately how many macros to eat at each of my 5-6 small meals per day. For someone who is just starting out with counting macros I do recommend following a sample meal plan. For someone like me who is experienced in macro counting it’s ok to veer away from that sample meal plan and just do your own thing. Some of the foods you see in my food diary have been provided on my sample plan from my coach and some of them are my own foods that I like that I have chosen to swap in. The greatest part about this plan for me is that it requires minimal meal prep! The only foods I have prepped in advance are my chicken, sweet potatoes, and ground beef! Easy:) What was once 4 hours every Sunday for meal prep is now only about an hour. Hallelujah for that!! As I mentioned in a previous recent post, I had pretty much taken a break from food logging and macro tracking which resulted in weight gain for me. I had gained 12 lbs as of a few weeks ago and I’m happy to say that I have lost 6 lbs in the last week and a half which puts me back to my “happy and healthy” weight.

Here is my food diary for Tuesday, August 9th (low carb day): Total Macros 46F/114C/134P which equals out to be 1346 calories.

Meal 1: 14F/31C/20P

  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 slices Butterball Everyday turkey bacon
  • 2 Kashi blueberry waffles
  • 1/8 cup sugar free syrup

Meal 2: 5F/19C/18P

  • Espresso shot
  • 1 TB Nuts N’ More toffee crunch
  • Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt

Meal 3: 10F/10C/28P

  • 3 cups romaine lettuce
  • 4 oz grilled chicken
  • 100 calorie pack Wholly Guacamole
  • 1/4 cup pico de gallo

Meal 4: 7F/25C/20P

  • Combat Crunch chocolate chip cookie dough protein bar

Meal 5: 1F/22C/21P

  • 3 oz grilled chicken
  • 3 oz baked sweet potato

Meal 6: 8F/7C/26P

  • 1 scoop Quest salted caramel protein powder
  • 1 TB Jif natural creamy peanut butter

Here is my food diary for Wednesday, August 10th (high carb day): Total macros 48F/164C/130P which equals out to 1463 calories.

Meal 1: 15F/19C/22P

  • 1/2 cup chocolate caramel Muscle Egg flavored egg whites
  • 2 slices Butterball Everyday turkey bacon
  • 1 Kashi gluten free waffle
  • 1 TB Jif natural creamy peanut butter
  • Walden Farms pancake syrup

Meal 2 (post workout): 8F/48C/21P

  • Fitjoy chocolate iced brownie protein bar
  • small banana

Meal 3: 8F/24C/17P

  • Ole Extreme Wellness spinach & herb tortilla wrap
  • 3 oz Oscar Mayer deli turkey
  • 2 TB spicy wholly guacamole
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce

Meal 4: 4F/28C/33P

  • 1 scoop Quest cookies & cream protein powder
  • 1 chocolate crunch rice cake
  • 8 cherries
  • 1 oz Jack Link’s teriyaki beef jerky

Meal 5: 8F/33C/20P

  • 3 oz 90% lean ground beef (burger patty)
  • 4.5 oz baked sweet potato

Meal 6: 5F/8C/17P

  • 1/2 scoop Quest salted caramel protein powder
  • 1/2 TB Nuts N’ More toffee crunch

As you can see, I eat a lot of food! I do not believe in starvation diets or fad diets. Tracking macros is easy for me and I’m eating foods that I enjoy eating. This is a lifestyle for me. When I’m not logging, I’m not happy. It seems fun at first, but then when I start seeing the negative effects in my body (and in the way I feel) it’s not fun anymore! If you would like to start flexible dieting but don’t know where to begin please watch THIS VIDEO called “Macros for Beginners” that I made a few months ago. Happy tracking:)))

For today’s workouts I wanted to give you two options, a full body home workout, and an upper body gym workout. I actually had my gym clients do this home workout today and they left the gym very sweaty! They said it was a good one. I hope you all will feel the same:)

The workout:
Do the following 4 times:
8 walkout pushups
15 grasshoppers
10 squat and press
20 ski jumps (10 each side)
20 alternating overhead reverse lunge with front kick (alternate legs, 10 reps each side)

The gym workout that I’m featuring today will leave your arms burning! When lifting weights, don’t be scared to go as heavy as you can. You can always decrease your weight if needed. It’s even ok to lower your weight in the middle of a set!

The workout:
4×10 db side lat raises
4×12 arnold press (and I lied, I was using 10 lb db’s)
4×12 incline db bench press
3×10 spider pushups (5 on each leg)
4×12 tricep rope pushdown
3×20 dip jumps (10 each leg)
3×10 double leg lift with plate raise and 10 toe touches

I hope you liked the workouts today! If there is ever anything you want to see in my workout videos please email me at fitbyashley@yahoo.com. I will do my best to accommodate those requests:)

Have a great weekend and I will see you next week!

xoxoxo

Ashley

Current Favorites + At Home Leg/Ab Workout

Happy Thursday my friends! Another week is flying by…just about the time I think I’m getting an “easy” week with not a lot to do I am proven wrong. Sometimes I wonder how in the world I ever had a full time job! This week my kids had registration for school…my big kid is going into 5th grade and my baby is going into kindergarten. It’s just so hard to believe how quickly they grow up (big sigh). On Sunday night I gave the boys new haircuts for their school pictures and Jett decided to chop on his own hair before I could get to him…he’s such a little stinker! I will attach the photo of his masterpiece below:)

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A major development in my life this week (at least in my mind, lol) is that I got rid of my Instagram accounts. Now this was a tough one! I’ve had my fitness IG account for going on three years and there were SO many photos and memories on there that it was hard to let it go…I did make Chatbooks with the photos that I couldn’t part with before I deleted the account. Whoever invented Chatbooks is a genius! I had several reasons for deleting those accounts, but the most important one was that I, like so many others these days, was spending TOO much time on social media. I found myself telling my kids to hold on when they needed something because I was too wrapped up in my scrolling, and it finally came to a point where I said enough is enough. My kids are only young once and I refuse to let social media keep me sucked in like it previously has. Also, I felt like I was too consumed with posting ab selfies and lost my true reason for initially starting my fitness account. I wanted to start my IG to inspire others while I was on my fitness journey, and I just feel like it turned into something different. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in likes, followers, gaining sponsorships from supplement companies, etc., and losing sight of what the original focus was. As I told my husband the other night, I am attempting to turn over a new leaf! People don’t need to know how my abs look every day, and I’m sure they couldn’t care less about my #TBT to last Thursday when I fixed my hair and felt like it was selfie material. LOL! Sometimes in life we lose sight of the things that are most important. I’m not saying that I did that, because I absolutely did not, but I was feeling like I had become a little too wrapped up in worrying too much about what other people think. Ok, enough about that! Moving on to more important things…

This week I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you…things I’m currently obsessed with. I made a list of a few things that I simply cannot be happy without these days, and I hope you all will try some of them!

The first item that I’m loving right now is single serve guacamole! I put this stuff on just about everything. Each single serve packet is only 100 calories, and as we all know avocado is a fantastic source of fat. I am purchasing these at Walmart, but I’m sure they’re available at most grocery stores. I have the classic, the homestyle, and the spicy. The classic is more of a smooth texture, the homestyle is more chunky, and the spicy is pretty darn spicy!! I have been using my guacamole on salads, in wraps, and as a dip for veggies or chicken. My kids love to dip pretzels in it and they love the grilled chicken and deli turkey wraps that I’m adding it to as well:) I love it when I find items that are convenient, healthy, and super yummy!!

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The next thing that I feel as though I cannot go a day without is my Clear American pineapple coconut sparkling water! I only drink about 1/4 of one of these bottles a day because they are sweetened with aspartame and I don’t like to get too much of the artificial sweeteners. I think the carbonation makes me feel like I’m getting a soda and that’s why I like it so much! I used to be a big time Mr. Pibb drinker and there’s nothing better to me than the feeling of carbonation hitting my stomach. Ha! This is pretty much my soda fix. I buy these at Walmart as well, and I love several of the flavors, but I’m always a sucker for anything that has pineapple or coconut. This sparkling water contains no calories, carbs, fats, or sugar and it has only 5 mg sodium. Tasty!!

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Next up on my favorites list is my Carli Bybel palette from BH Cosmetics. This palette was created by my favorite youtube makeup tutorial gal, Carli Bybel. I have spent many hours watching her videos and learning all kinds of great makeup ideas, and I must say that her palette is PERFECTION! It has eyeshadows and highlighters and there isn’t a single color in this kit that I don’t use. Obviously I highly recommend buying this, and the most amazing part is that it’s only $14.50!! A similar version from MAC is $80. This is the deal of a lifetime. You need this. Get it right now.

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Well there you have it…a few of my favorites things!! Be sure to let me know if you try any of these and love them:)) Sooooo I made a great workout for you today…this one is very simple, yet VERY effective. These leg exercises will have your heart rate up in no time and the ab exercises will leave you burning! The entire workout is only about 20-25 minutes which makes it great for those who don’t have a lot of time to exercise. I hope you love it!

The workout:

Do the following 4 times, no rest between exercises and 1 minute rest between rounds.

  • 10 each side shuffle squats
  • 20 close stance squats
  • 30 switch lunges (decrease reps with each round if these get too tough)
  • 45 second plank with feet on ball
  • 10 knee tucks
  • 20 knee hugs

As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program! I hope you all have a fabulous and fun filled weekend…see you next week!

xoxoxo

Ashley

 

Struggles of the Fit Life + Back/bicep/ab workout

Hello my friends…I haven’t posted in awhile and it feels SO good to be writing this! As you all know by now, I love fitness. It’s my hobby, my passion, and my career. I feel very blessed to be able to have a job that I look forward to each day. I love motivating other women and helping them reach their goals, and there is nothing more gratifying for me than seeing my clients hit milestones on their journey to being fit and healthy!

As you all also know, I am an active NPC bikini competitor. It’s a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy. I spend my entire “off season” longing to be competing again. I don’t know why I love it so much…I just do. However, this competition season that I just completed was somewhat of a different experience for me…one that I did not enjoy. Actually I hated it…there’s no sense in lying about it, right? You see, there is a very dark side to fitness…one that most people will never experience and know nothing about. I experienced it recently and I feel compelled to share my story.

In January of this year I officially began my competition prep. I had gone through a very productive off season, tracking my macros throughout and maintaining within about 6 lbs of my stage weight. I only had to do an 8 week prep before my first show because I had been SO good. The first competition was a breeze. I was doing a normal amount of cardio and an hour of weight training 5 days a week. I was getting a minimum of about 100-125g carbs. Smooth sailing! I was thrilled! For my second competition in June I did have to do double cardio (about 60-90 minutes a day) and my carbs were decreased on weekends only. It was tough, but I was handling it.

Above is my progression from beginning of prep to my first show, then second show, then third show, and current photo.

Here is where it gets sticky. Immediately after my June competition I got a new plan from my coach that had me doing 2 hours of cardio a day and eating very few carbs. For a whole month. It was AWFUL. I got to a point where I absolutely hated working out. I was depressed. I didn’t want to see anyone. I got tired of people telling me how awful and skinny I looked. I hated going to the gym. The gym is usually my happy place and it ended up turning into a place that I loathed. I tried my best to put on a happy and motivating face for my clients and my family…after all, this is something that I CHOSE to do. I could’ve quit at anytime but I’m just not a quitter. So I hung in there. By the time I got to New York for my final competition I was running on pure adrenaline. I was very upset because my competition was over the 4th of July weekend and I was away from my husband and kids. It just felt SO wrong. I had several moments of saying to myself, “What the heck are you doing? Why do you make yourself miserable by doing this? Is all of this sacrifice worth a stinking trophy?” And the answer I ultimately came up with was NO. It is not worth it. I’m an adult. I’m a mother of two amazing children who need me. I’m missing so much of their childhoods by being at the gym or on the treadmill or answering fitness related emails from people I don’t even know who aren’t paying me a dime. I was unhappy, feeling spread way too thin, hating everything about fitness, and feeling mommy guilt big time. I had people calling me wanting to train with me and I turned everyone down because I was in such a terrible state of mind. About 2 weeks before my last show I asked my husband if we could take a vacation as soon as my show was over. Being the wonderful person that he is, he agreed that we both needed it. I didn’t care where we went, I simply needed to go to a beach, not think about work, not track any macros, and most definitely NOT exercise! We booked a last minute vacation to Jamaica and I swear that was the only thing that got me through that last competition. I told myself that my reward for following through with the show was that vacation. Last week we took our trip to Negril and it was probably the best vacation we’ve ever had:) FYI I did workout out 5 out of 7 days of the trip. I swear it’s in my blood. However, I worked out briefly and because I wanted to, not because I had to. Mindset is everything!!

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So I mentioned earlier that there is a “dark side” to fitness. I have been in the fitness world for five years and I never fully experienced the darkness until this year. Prep has always been tough but this year was different. Too much cardio + too few carbs + not seeing significant change in my body to show me that the sacrifice was worth it = disaster. Also, since my body was in a state of metabolic distress due to my insane training, I’m now gaining weight by just looking at a carb. I gained 5 lbs post show just by going back to a normal meal plan of about 150g carbs. On vacation when I didn’t track anything I gained an additional 7 lbs. So in three weeks I gained 12 lbs. This is not good. Had I properly reverse dieted out of my last show I would’ve gained the weight in a more controlled way. Honestly I was in such a horrible mental state that I didn’t care. I knew that whatever I gained I could get back off eventually. At this point I am happy and feeling great. I’m still at 9 lbs above stage weight and I’m not concerned in the least. I want to say that I have absolutely no negative feelings towards my coach. All I’m going to say is that I’ll never  compete in national shows again because I’m not willing to go back to that place, mentally or physically. I’m also not willing to miss out on holidays with my family. Experiencing those times with my husband and my kids are a priority for me and I won’t let a fitness competition get in the way of that in the future. Will I compete again? Yes! I love it too much to quit completely, and competing keeps me motivated. I will continue to do local shows…they are fun!

So back to my blog…I was absent in posting for more than a month because the thought of representing something that I was so disgusted with mentally kept me away. I felt like a fraud. Plus doing any extra exercise required to make a video seemed like a daunting task. Now that I’m back to my happy go lucky fitness freak self, I can’t wait to start posting more regularly again!! I’m not committing myself to any sort of a schedule, just writing when I feel drawn to write. Writing is my best form of communication and something that I have loved since I was a child. I love this blog and I’m excited to be back on track:)

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Now for the workout!

The workout:
10 minutes on the stairmaster doing the following:
1 min level 5
1 min level 10
1 min level 5
1 min level 10
1 min level 5
Turn backwards and repeat.

4x as many as you can do assisted pullups, either with a band or on a machine

4×10 each arm cable row

4×15 cable pull throughs

10 minutes on the stairmaster doing the same routine as we did at the beginning

4×10 incline dumbbell curls

4×25 light barbell bicep curls

4×10 cable rope bicep curls, holding last rep for 10 seconds

10 minutes on stairmaster doing same routine

4×20 cable curls
superset
4×30 scissors
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4×10 toe touches

Thank you all so much for reading my story! If it helps one person then I am happy and will feel like it was all worth it. I have learned so much about myself this year and for that I am grateful:)

xoxoxo

Ashley

Bikini Competition Makeup Tutorial

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If you know me well, you know that I am a total makeup junkie. I love going to Sephora and the MAC store! For me, my favorite part about competing in bikini competitions is getting all glammed up. The most important thing to remember about bikini competition makeup is that it needs to blend in with the spray tan. The spray tan is SUPER dark and orange colored…definitely not what you’re going to get from someone who is hand spraying at a local salon or a Versa Spa booth. This tan is actually completely ridiculous looking and I hate going out in public with it on. I typically insist on showering after a competition before we go out to eat because it is that scary looking! The tan has to be this dark to show off muscle definition under the stage lights. It’s just one of the many crazy parts of the sport of bodybuilding:) In my four seasons of competing in these shows, I have learned that the makeup does not need to be as dark as the tan! I see so many girls who use really dark foundation on their whole face and it ends up looking muddy. This is why we use a lighter foundation on the inner parts of the face plus use the concealer to highlight. This is extremely important! As long as you use the darker foundation on the outer parts of the face only you will be good to go:)

My friend Candice is a total makeup guru. She has taken classes all over the country and we should all consider ourselves very lucky that she is sharing the things she has learned with all of us! Between her artistic expertise and my hours of watching makeup tutorials (thank you 2 hours of cardio a day for that one, LOL) we make quite the competition makeup team! I hope you will thoroughly enjoy this tutorial. We had an absolute blast filming it, as you will see via my facial expressions and constant laughing in the video:) Enjoy!!!

Product Breakdown:

Items from Sephora:

Items from MAC:

Items from Amazon/miscellaneous:

Find me on Instagram @fit_by_ashley and Candice @candicehaley1!!