Why you should ditch the boxed food

What is processed food?

In this context, process foods are those that are not only mechanically processed but also chemically processed.  Most items at the store that are packaged in boxes, cans, bags, or bottles are processed.  They need to be processed to be edible and to lengthen shelf life.
Chips, crackers, cereals, breads, canned vegetables, frozen pre-made items like pizzas and microwave meals are just a few examples of processed foods.

Vegetable oils  such as corn, cottonseed, soybean, canola or safflower are commonly used in  processed foods and can include chemical extraction, bleaching, and deodorizing.


Why should you avoid them?

If you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle, you need to cut back, or better, eliminate processed foods. Many processed foods contain relatively large amounts of sugar. High sugar intake has been linked to cardiovascular disease mortality.

They also contain vegetable oils and unnatural transfats (hydrogenated oils) which are linked to heart disease. Trans fats and sugar consumption lead to an increase in inflammation affecting the body’s immune response leading to disease.

Trans fats are cheap and have a long shelf life which is why they are used in processed foods.  One U.S. study that analyzed store-bought soybean and canola oils found that 0.56% to 4.2% of the fats were trans fats, without any indication on the packaging. If a food contains up to 0.49 gram of trans fats per serving, it will read as zero grams of trans fats on the label.

anti-inflammatory image

Training and processed foods

With the body’s immunity burdened, it will hinder recovery after training. This is a response you cannot out exercise.  To prevent this type of inflammation, diet must be altered. You want to get the most out of your training and a good diet will help you maximize results from your gym time. In order to avoid trans fats and excess sugar, the best thing you can do is eliminate processed foods from your diet.

In following posts I will explore in more detail fats, inflammation, nutrition, and training.



Following along with information I have read about utilizing the female hormonal cycle to my advantage (I posted information here), I am now in a reset phase. The idea is my metabolism is higher, insulin sensitivity lower, and I’m in a fat burning mode. Therefore, carbs should be decreased, fat increased, and training moderate.

Today I dropped my calories from 1700 to 1200, decreased carbs and increased fat, which will continue for the next 10 to 14 days as I move into a fat burning/cut phase. There will be no growth this cycle but rather muscle maintenance and, hopefully, fat loss.

My diet will eliminate rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, bananas, and will include more eggs, avocados, butter, natural oils, nuts, nut butters, and just a little bit of cheese now and then. I will still consume my yogurt, smoothies, protein powders (modified to accommodate the macros), and lots of greens and veggies.

Weight training will be moderate and cardio steady state rather than HIIT.

I enjoyed a farm fresh egg (from my own farm) with a sprinkle of cheese for breakfast followed by a tablespoon of peanut butter (more of a “treat”).

Looking forward to seeing how this phase will affect me and sharing it with you.

Respect the Hormones



My husband, who is also an excellent fitness coach, and I felt we were not progressing as we should. By that I mean he was putting on fat and I wasn’t losing any. He has been guided by Ben Pakulski’s programs and recently purchased the Incredible Bulk.

This seemed a timely move. It contains information related to some issues we may face on this bodybuilding journey such as fat gain or a state of maintenance rather than growth. Based on what was learned, we decided to work in a cut phase. Before the cut phase, however, there was a two day transition phase which meant no carbs aside from all the green veggies we cared to eat. The cut phase is very low carb where we ingest our daily carb allowance during and immediately after our workout. For the two day transition we did not lift; cardio only. It was kind of rough. This put me out of the lifting routine for five days. That was rough too.

The point of the transition phase is to kick the body into ketosis and reset it to increase insulin sensitivity so the body can process carbs more efficiently. This is a method that should be done with caution. Some people will react very negatively to it and there are some factors to consider such as certain medical conditions.

Ketosis can be uncomfortable but it shouldn’t last long or be extreme. If you are experiencing extreme side effects then it would be prudent to add more carbs to your daily allowance but add complex carbs like brown rice, low or no fat yogurt, sweet potatoes, etc. I have found munching on some nuts to be very helpful. I am no expert on this. I’m only sharing my experience. I will add this should not be attempted without some research or guidance from a health coach.

However, there are many who follow a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet but again, I wouldn’t enter into it lightly.

I think our age has presented some challenges that younger folks typically do not experience as well. One is our metabolism; it’s much slower than our younger selves and we have to learn to work with that. Another is hormones. They also change as we age. We have both been afflicted by this. Hormones play a crucial rule in our health and fitness especially when trying to build muscle mass.

Female Hormone Cycle

I recently came across an article for women in training that provided some great insight about working with their hormonal cycle. Women can take advantage of their cycle and bulk and cut during certain phases. And that’s the key: you can’t work against your hormones or your body. It’s important to be in tune with it and despite all the programs out there it’s ultimately up to you to decide what is best for you. I’m struggling with this. I want to maximize my time at the gym and my diet. I think we women need to learn more about this. I believe the typical training regimen, often designed by men, is not supporting us as fully as it should.

I log everything: my weight, measurements, gym performance, and photos on a weekly basis. After reading the article on the hormonal cycle I saw where my gains and losses happened and where I was in that cycle. It was eye opening and I realize that I cannot follow along with the same macros continuously. I am now going to follow dietary and workout guidelines based on information from this article. I look forward to seeing how this will impact my goals.

Additional reading:
Female Phase Training: Training with the menstrual cycle

Male Hormones

Of course I’m focusing on women here, but men need to learn the importance of hormones in their training as well.

6 Hormones to Control for Advanced Muscle Building Results

A hormonal panel for you women and men who train would be a great thing to get. You may be surprised at the results. Armed with this information, though, you will learn to maximize your gym time and diet for maximum gainz.

Get Swole Begins!


I started Sunday instead of Monday. My first workout was chest and back and it was a great workout! With higher reps and more sets I use a little lighter weight but enough so that I’m having to work to get those last couple of reps out (failure is ideal). I was able to focus on the muscle group being worked and maintain good form.

The week of detox and primer was not a fun week. The diet got old fast. Going to the gym and not working hard was also challenging. I think that is one of the reasons why Sunday’s workout felt so good. I had missed that pumped feeling, the burn. I feel like this program is going to be incredibly transformational for me.

Before I began, I took some pics: front, profile, and back. I added a “stat” box to my training sheets and the photos. Every week I will take measurements and new photos and add those. I believe documentation such as this is a tremendously beneficial aid to stay focused, inspired, and motivated.


I was browsing through some of my photos that I took in November, then early January, and then just a month ago. The change is amazing!

Here’s the thing, my weight has not changed too much. I have had about a seven pound loss, but if you were to see my “before” pics compared to me now you would think that I had lost a bunch of weight. I have lost a lot of fat and I have gained a lot of muscle therefore the scale doesn’t change much. The measurements have. I log tape measurements as well as caliper measurements. Those have changed drastically in the last few months and obviously my overall appearance has as well.

The first phase of this program has me training four days and resting three. My “resting” days, however, will contain cardio, core work, yoga, and one “free” lifting day. Those are not part of the program but elements that I am adding. Ideally, I am supposed to be really resting but that sounds like no fun. 😉 These rest days are great opportunities for me to work on others areas as it is difficult to fit it all in during regular training days.

I am really excited about reaching new goals with this program and sharing my progress with you.

7 Day Detox and Primer


I finished the Mi40 program Friday. I had a couple of “free” days Friday and Saturday and was feeling it Sunday. It doesn’t take much indiscretion for me to feel less than optimal the following day. This is a good lesson and one to remember. Sunday I started a seven day detox following along with the Mi40X. I am also following the Mi40X primer before I begin Cory Gregory’s 16 Week Get Swole program. My husband is going to continue with the Mi40X.

The detox is a great way to re-set the gut to improve digestion and prepare it for the next phase so that I am benefiting from max nutrient absorption. I am consuming fresh greens, green super foods, lemon water, brown rice and lean protein; no dairy, no bread, no nut butters, no processed foods. My main protein sources are True Nutrition Pea Protein, eggs, tempeh, and locally sourced chicken. I consume a mostly vegetarian diet however I baked some chicken that we bought from a local farm and it was quite tasty so I chopped some up and added it to my salad for dinner. My husband had to find an alternative to his whey protein for the week and has been using Paleo Protein Egg White Protein.

The primer is designed to begin to teach the body and brain to re-wire current patterns of movement and replace them with the optimal ones for symmetrical growth and maximal muscle stimulus. I have adjusted my goals by decreasing my calories to a maintenance level and adjusted macros accordingly.

A note from the Mi40: Two weeks ago, due to lack of growth, I increased my calories by 400 per day, increased protein, and adjusted carbs and fats accordingly. This weekend I showed muscle growth and fat loss! This would indicate that I was previously in a maintenance state, which is not where I want to be right now. Ladies, if you want muscle growth, you must eat! You will lose some fat along the way but building muscle and shaping the body is the main focus at this time.

I am looking forward to a week of very clean eating. As we move into Spring, this is a perfect time to do a detox. I have also scheduled a massage at the end of the week. What a great way to wind down detox and prepare for Get Swole!

Say Cheese! Progression Photos

Infographic of fitness and sport, healthy lifestyle, women exist 

I strongly encourage you to take photos of yourself before you begin your fitness program. Like me, you may not want to. You will feel self-conscious or maybe ashamed. You will be very critical of your appearance and you may not want anyone else to take the photo. That’s OK. Take a selfie in the mirror. You’re not sharing this with anyone. It’s for you records. In a few weeks, take another and continue to as often as you’d like. But you should consider that you may want to share them after you’ve progressed so keep that in mind.

I didn’t want to take photos and I took some that I thought I would never share with anyone. After I saw some big changes, I shared them with my husband. He was amazed, as I was, with the progress. The photos are important because the changes happen gradually and you may not be aware of just how much you have transformed. They can be very inspiring, encouraging, and motivating.

I do not intend to share my photos from earlier. However, for my next program I will have  some before and after shots and will likely share them here.

Suggestions for photos: take a frontal shot, a profile with arm up so you can get view of the backside too, and a back photo.

These tips target bodybuilding poses but they can be applied to whatever fitness goals you have.

Bodybuilding progress pictures

About Me

I just added the long story here. Short story is I dealt with some health issues over a year ago, became depressed and sedentary. As I began healing I vowed to never take my good health for granted again. Since I started bodyweight training three months ago, I have established a solid routine. I have missed only one workout and that was due to feeling ill. That is a pretty good record for me. I have a hard time switching gears. I’m slow to make changes. It’s when I’ve tried to make sudden, big changes that I have failed. Slow and steady works for me. I like to dip my toe into the water and slowly work the rest of me in. Some people dive in head first. That’s not me. I would jump out and say, “that was unpleasant and I’m not doing it again.”

I have an advantage though. My husband has been an inspiration. We both decided to make some health changes at the same time. He’s more of a dive-in kind of guy. He has embarked on a bodybuilding journey as well. He has studied and researched and shared so much helpful information with me. He has encouraged me, coached me, and pushed me (though gently because he knows I’ll resist if pushed too hard). We work together to help each other realize our visions. I buy and prepare the meals so I try to make what he needs to support his gains and goals. Fortunately, we are both on similar paths so it’s that much easier. On the weekends we are able to train together. It’s not easy for some couples to do this, as I have heard and witnessed. Egos get in the way and it’s not conducive to a supportive training atmosphere.

We are fortunate and perhaps our backgrounds contribute to that. He has trained in martial arts for about 30 years. He has coached many and he is excellent. I was a personal trainer for a short time and experienced the ego trips in the gym more than I care to recall. We understand the training mindset and the trainee mindset. We are not competing with each other, we are supporting each other. We want the other to succeed and will help as much as possible.

I have much to share with you and I would love to hear your stories and questions!




Hi. My name is Lisa and I’m a 40 something (pushing 50) year old woman who recently decided to bodybuild; not for competition, just for myself. Call it a bucket list item. I have many reasons for deciding to do this that will come out as we go along. If you’re a woman over 40 and are thinking you’re getting too old to start something like this, have no idea where to begin, know nothing about weight training, need some inspiration and encouragement, then I think you’ll enjoy this journey. Why not join me!

Focus on the Gains.