Category Archives: Fitness & Nutrition Tips

How to Get Ripped: Go From Average to Lean in 12 Weeks

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My Get Ripped Diet
When I started, I was already a fairly healthy eater. I had eliminated grains from my diet because of a gluten sensitivity and decided to try to remove most dairy, too, because of a childhood milk allergy. So I was left with fruit, vegetables, lean meats, legumes, tubers, and healthy fats like nuts and avocado. I decided that since I was building muscle, I should focus on lots of protein and veggies, so I made that the central focus of each meal. Here was my daily plan:
Meal 1 – 2 eggs + lean meat + starchy carb + fruit
Meal 2 – protein shake with protein + fruit + leafy green vegetable + healthy fat
Meal 3 – lean meat + veggie or legume + veggie
Meal 4 – lean meat + veggie or legume + veggie
Meal 5 – protein + healthy fat
So here is what a typical day looked like:
Meal 1 (7am) – 2 egg omelet with seasoned ground turkey, bell peppers, 1/2 sweet potato, and apple slices
Meal 2 (12pm, post-workout) — protein shake with whey (I have since eliminated whey powder, read why here), 1/2 cup frozen fruit, 2T of flaxseed, 1 cup of baby spinach – here’s how to make a perfect healthy smoothie.
Meal 3 (2pm) – grilled chicken breast with alfalfa sprouts, bell pepper slices, avocado, tomato, and onion wrapped in 2 collard green leaves
Meal 4 (6pm) – salad w/ field greens, smoked salmon, red and green onion, red and green bell peppers, walnuts, cucumber, celery, balsamic vinegar/olive oil for dressing
Meal 5 (9pm) – steamed edamame or mixed nuts
Looking for your own healthy meal plan? Here’s a 4 week one I created for you.
Here were some guidelines I set up for myself:
alcohol was limited to social engagements only, and then red wine or clear liquor/soda was top choice
all fruit and carbohydrates consumed before 3pm (read more here about nutrient timing)
2.5-3L of water everyday (read more here about how much water you should be drinking)
organic and grass-fed foods whenever possible
“fun” or “cheat” meals once a week, or during social engagements, or when I felt like I needed one, not to exceed 1500 calories
avoid pasta, bread, grains, and cheese as much as possible (for reasons stated above)
no artificial sweeteners or sugar, besides a teaspoon of raw sugar or honey in my coffee
I followed these serving sizes
Addicted to diet sodas and artificial sweeteners? Here’s how to kick the habit.
For the most part if I followed this plan I didn’t have to count calories, just journaling for accountability.
My Workout to Get Ripped
Before this plan, I alternated traditional strength training and cardio at the gym 5 days a week. I found HIIT bodyweight workouts on YouTube one day when I couldn’t make it to the gym with a sick child, and after that day I never went back and have been working out at home ever since.
Read more here about HIIT training and why you should try it.
When you first start HIIT, 1 or 2 times per week is enough-it can be hard on your central nervous system and leave you with too much of a negative energy balance, which will stall your efforts and make you feel like crap. Sub another type of workout in the meantime until you can do it more often. Here is what my workout schedule looked like each week once I worked up to HIIT 3x a week:
Monday – 40 minutes of circuit training (full body strength training with 2 minute intervals of cardio, like jump rope, in between sets)
Tuesday – active rest day (walking, yoga, etc.)
Wednesday – HIIT workout – 12-20 minutes + 20 minutes of cardio (running or jump rope)
Thursday – cardio (run or jump rope) 30 minutes
Friday – HIIT workout – 12-20 minutes + 20 minutes of cardio (running, jump rope)
Saturday – active rest day (walking, yoga, etc)
Sunday – HIIT track and field workout, 30-40 min (combination of plyometrics, sprints, tire flips, broad jumps, stadium running, etc., completed at local high school track)
Everyday I also walked to pick up my children from school, about 1.5 miles.
I found my HIIT workouts through Zuzana Light, Nike Training Club and just using Google or YouTube to search. Here are more fitness apps that I like to use.
Are you working on these 7 fitness goals?
I’m Not Always “Ripped”
This is not a year-round plan for me. It’s a tool I use every so often to reach a goal, but it’s not my lifestyle. I use it before summer, I used it to get in shape for my wedding, or to get ready for a photoshoot. The rest of the year I’m much more flexible with what I eat and how often I eat, although the number one priority is always health. I am still in good shape, but with a little higher body fat percentage. I buckle down and follow these guidelines for 12 weeks to reach that goal for whatever reason, then I’m back to just eating whole foods and balance. (I do follow this exercise routine year-round but it’s because I really enjoy it.)

– From Coach Calorie

Take a look at the rest of my blog! For information about any of my classes – please contact Dana 403-504-8953 or
Dana owns and operates The Kickboxing Studio within Heartbreaker Dance & Fitness in Medicine Hat, Alberta and specializes in Fitness Kickboxing, Cross Training, and specialized classes such as Dangerous Curves, Fit & Fab Over 50, Teen Fitness, Men’s MXC, Pole Fitness, Pilates and group bookings for Stagettes, Birthday Parties and Girls Night Out!

Summer Fitness – Staying Motivated

Whether you want to get your body ready for swimsuit season or stay fit during the summer months, it’s important to find a fitness routine that you can maintain. These tips will help you get motivated and keep moving for a healthier body.

Shake things up – Having a variety of fitness activities works different parts of your body, keeps you engaged in the process, and ensures you have some way to exercise no matter what the weather is like. Lifting weights, swimming, cycling, walking, dancing — there are plenty of ways to have fun as you work out.

Buddy up with someone else – It’s harder to avoid exercising when you’ve made a commitment to someone else that you’ll be there. Partnering with a friend can make activities more fun, and you and your partner can help each other be accountable for working out.

•Set a regular time and place to meet. Set ground rules for when it’s acceptable to miss a session and how you’re to communicate.

•Make sure your partner is equally committed.

•Have common fitness goals.

•Be sure you have similar fitness levels and abilities.

Reward yourself – Changing behavior is hard, but little rewards along the way can help you stay motivated. You might enjoy a new pair of walking shoes when you reach 5,000 steps a day or a new DVD after sticking to your plan for 30 days.

•Set achievable goals. It won’t help you to set goals you can’t meet — you’ll either injure yourself or be constantly discouraged. It’s OK to start small and work your way up.

•Make sure the rewards are appropriate. Enjoying a calorie-laden meal or sugary treat after hitting a goal isn’t the way to go. Look for non-food related rewards that will help motivate you to keep going.

It’s easier — and more fun — than you might think to get in shape for the summer and find a fitness program you love. – Michael French

In the Kickboxing Studio – we have a variety of classes to keep you on track this summer that includes both indoor and outdoor workouts to keep things new, interesting and challenging and keep you fit all summer long!

Whether you like fitness kickboxing, crosstraining with a variety of equipment like box jumps, chin up bars, gymnastics rings, ropes, kettlebells, trx suspension training, weights, or cardio, we have it all! We are not a gym! We specialize in the best group fitness classes that are fun, challenging, and always different creating muscle confusion helping to give you the best results! Our studio is non intimidating! You can start anytime! The classes range from beginner to advanced levels. We also offer personal training as well as open studio workouts in the mid afternoon where you can use our equipment and get a workout of the day you can follow.

Dana Gackle is the owner of the Kickboxing Studio within Heartbreaker Fitness and specializes in group fitness for co-ed kickboxing, crosstraining, sweat free noons, teen fitness, classes for women over 50, classes for plus size women, and classes just for the guys! For more information or to register, call or text Dana 403-504-8953 or email Follow me on Twitter @heartbreakerfit


9:30 – Tuesdays & Thursdays Crosstraining
12:10 – Almost Sweat Free Noons – varied and combined classes for the summer you won’t get anywhere else!
5:15pm – 30 Day Fitness Challenge – Challenging classes for beginner to intermediate fitness levels! Learn how to fire up your metabolism to burn fat! Smoothie Tasting Days! A great way to challenge yourself!
6:15pm – Intermediate Co-ed Kickboxing
7:15pm – Advanced Kickboxing, Combat Crosstraining, Outdoor Fitness, Spartan Training
Saturdays 10am! – Outdoor Fitness is a great way to add to your fitness regime!

Unlimited summer class membership (7 weeks) only $145 plus GST
Register now and enjoy the benefits of group fitness!

Steps for Healthy Nutrition

We know about the importance fitness plays into our health and we also know that we need to eat healthy. For most it’s easier to workout than to eat healthy, but in order to be as healthy and fit as we can possibly be, it needs to be a combined effort.

If you find that you are working out consistently and giving it your all, but you are still not getting the results you are looking for, you need to look at your diet. When I refer to diet, I don’t mean a calorie restricted “diet”, but looking at what you are actually eating AND if you are eating enough.

Here are some steps you need to know in order to eat healthy.

1) Organize your meals and your kitchen – Set yourself up for success!

2) Make sure you eat enough protein – protein burns fat! But you need to know how much, since eating too much can be stored as fat!

3) Make sure you are choosing the right kinds of carbohydrates – do you understand the difference between simple and complex carbs?

4) Eat more Fruits and Vegetables!

5) Don’t eliminate fat from your diet. You need good fat in your diet. Do you know the difference between good fats and bad fats?

6) Eat more often. Do you know if you are eating enough? Do you know how many calories you should be consuming each day based on your age, your weight, your height, your gender, and your fitness level?

7) Water! Are you drinking enough? And do you understand the importance of sufficient water consumption and the important role it plays?

8) Be Active Every Day! For the health of your cardiovascular system and to prevent bone loss as we age, we need to keep our body healthy and strong by being active!

Here’s a healthy recipe to start your day off right!

Healthy Breakfast Multigrain Porridge

3 cups low fat milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup multigrain cereal such as Red River
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, bring milk and salt to a boil. Whisk in multigrain cereal, walnuts, maple syrup and vanilla. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking constantly for 6-7 minutes or until desired thickness.

Makes 4 servings

per serving (based on 2% milk) about 349 cal, 14 g protein, 14 g total fat, 45 g carbs, 5 grams fibre, 393 grams sodium

For more information about this or any blog posts, please contact Dana at 403-504-8953 or or follow me on Twitter @heartbreakerfit

A Day of Rest

We all need a day of rest at least one day per week to rest our mind, our bodies and our souls in order to feel refreshed, well rested and ready to go again. Without proper rest, we feel fatigued, burnt out, lacking energy, and just drained. The same is true for our muscles. It’s easy to get caught in thinking we have to work out every day of the week to gain results when in fact, we will gain greater strides in our fitness by giving our body sufficient rest. Giving our bodies 1-2 days off a week is a good thing to do. Once or even 2x / year, it’s even beneficial to give ourselves permission to take an entire week off and be okay with it. It will do your body good!

Here is some information on the subject of resting your muscles and why it’s so important to your training.

The Importance of Rest for Your Muscles – by Rita Chaney

What Happens to Muscles When You Exercise

When you exercise, you incur very small fissures or tears in the muscle. In essence, you damage (slightly) the muscles. When you take the next day or two off from working that particular muscle group, you allow your muscles to heal and thus increase in size and power. If you do not allow time for this healing to occur, your muscles may remain in a constant state of damage.

Rest Your Muscles

Your muscles need to have a day of rest just like you need to take time to rest after having a lot of activity. But why do your muscles need to rest? The fact is that your muscles utilize the resting time as an opportunity to build more mass. The resting time you provide for your muscles to recuperate is as necessary as your time spent working out.


There is a phenomenon called “over-training” which occurs when a person does not avail oneself of rest time and thus over-trains his/her muscles. The muscles simply stay in a state of damage as they are not given resting time as an opportunity to repair. Allowing recuperation is probably the most important step in building larger and stronger muscles. Otherwise, the muscles are over-trained and simply not allowed time to rebuild and strengthen.

It is not unusual for people who over-train to become lethargic, feel fatigued and even get sick more frequently. So, allowing your muscles time to rest between your workouts is an important step to gaining more and stronger muscle.

Structuring Your Workouts

Most fitness experts agree that the muscle groups you work should be alternated from day to day. If you work upper body muscles on Monday, don’t work them again before Wednesday. In fact, some fitness experts claim that you should wait 48 hours before you work them again, which means you would not do upper body work again until Thursday in this example. Of course, you could work your lower body on Tuesday or Wednesday. Plus, feel free to do cardio training on the days you are resting a muscle group.

Understanding what happens to your muscles when you work out and when you rest is important to how you conduct your workouts. Over-training is never a good idea and can cause more harm than progress in meeting fitness goals. Finally, structure your workouts to allow muscles time to recuperate and build. Taking time to rest your muscles might be the key to a healthier, more muscular you.

Dana Gackle, author of this blog site, is owner of The Kickboxing Studio within Heartbreaker Dance & Fitness and is a Level 1 & Level 2 Fitness Kickboxing Instructor who specializes in classes created with all fitness levels in mind, from teens, men, plus size to women over 50.

The classes the Kickboxing Studio includes kickboxing, cross training, Spartan Training and Outdoor Fitness! Our motto is to keep our classes fun, challenging, and to inspire and encourage one another!

I can be reached directly by text or phone 403-504-8953, or by email and be sure to follow me on Twitter @heartbreakerfit



10 Reasons to Encourage Fitness in the Workplace

As business owners or managers, it is important to remember that our most important assets are our employees! We want our employees to enjoy their work environment, and to bring the best of themselves to their jobs every day. Encouraging our employees to embrace fitness as a lifestyle choice pays off in numerous ways!

1. Fit employees are less likely to get sick. A person who is physically fit is generally more resistant to the “bug going around” than a person who is not fit. Reduced absenteeism and reduced health care expenditures are the result of a fit employee base.

2. Fit employees have more energy. One of the many benefits of regular exercise is increased and sustained energy throughout the day. This energy allows the employee to stay focused on the task at handing, bringing the best of themselves to each task.

3. Fit employees have more self-confidence. A fit and healthy individual tends to have a high level of self-confidence, because they have proven to themselves that they can accomplish what it takes to obtain a level of physical fitness. This self-confidence empowers the employee to challenge themselves, and strive for higher levels of achievement in the workplace.

4. Fit employees inspire confidence. An persona who maintains a high fitness level, tends to be a person in whom others have confidence.

5. Fit employees tend to take on more leadership roles. Because of the many positive benefits of a lifestyle, a fit individual tends to make a good leader

6. Fit employees set and achieve goals. Extraordinary fitness often demands that an individual set and reach goals related to their fitness. Learning to stay true to your goals and see them through to completion is a skill that is naturally brought into the workplace. An employee with the proven ability to set aggressive goals, and then REALIZE those goals, is a valuable asset to any organization.

7. Fit employees tend to have better attitudes. Fit employees generally “feel good”. They tend to have a physical and mental “balance” that results in a more positive attitude in the workplace.

8. Fit employees are less stressed. Regular exercise releases the physical AND emotional tensions that life brings our way, thus a fit employee tends to have lower overall stress levels than an employee who does not engage in regular exercise.

9. A fit employee base presents excellent team-building opportunities. Team activities like softball or tennis are wonderful ways for employees to take their professional relationships to new levels, and discover new ways of working together. Obviously, employees that maintain a level of fitness are more likely to participate in these activities.

10. Encouraging fitness demonstrates a concern for employee’s well-being, and pays off! Employees NOTICE when an employer shows concern for the health and well-being of their employee base through a variety of wellness programs. Further, it has been shown that employee turnover is significantly lower among employees that take advantage of a wellness program implemented by their employer.

Learn To Read Nutrition Facts – Food Labels

NutritionFacts1Learn To Read Nutrition Facts – Food Labels

20 Secrets of Very Fit People

Here are a few Turbofied tips. Read these tips, then print and post them so you have them as a daily reminder.
•Look at exercise as a pleasure and a privilege, not a burden or chore. Think positively about the changes regular exercise will produce. Rather than obsessing about your next meal, get excited about your next workout!
•Focus on short-term fitness goals with an emphasis on completing daily exercise.
•Work to take your exercise to new levels of intensity.
•Make it your goal to do some form of exercise 6 or 7 days a week. If some days you exercise once in the morning and once in the evening, even better! If you’re eating right, exercise will fuel your energy level!
•Create an exercise schedule the day before instead of leaving it to chance or waiting to “find” the time.
•Enjoy contributing to the health of others by having a partner or friends to exercise with, as well as recruiting others who want to feel better and have more energy. Have a neighbor who’s sitting on the porch every morning when you walk by? Ask him or her to join you on your walk!
•Avoid monotony by taking up new forms of exercising, or using things that keep you motivated and inspired, like new shoes or great music.
•Invest in the right tools—good shoes, a portable MP3 player or iPod®, fitness equipment, a new series of tapes, etc.
•Subscribe to fitness magazines to keep focused on health as an overall way of life.
•Eat well-balanced meals and remember that excess calories, even if they’re from food that’s fat free and high in protein, will turn to excess weight. No matter what the latest fad diet says, extra calories equal extra weight!
•Limit caffeine and exposure to even secondhand smoke.
•Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink from it often. Water should always be your drink of choice. To kick things up every once in a while, try adding lemon, lime, cucumber, or a few berries to liven up the flavor without adding significant calories.
•Stick with eating plans you can maintain indefinitely. Remember that no matter how hard you’re working out, if you’re consuming too many calories, you’ll never see the muscles that lie beneath layers of fatty tissue.
•Keep a daily log of what you’re actually eating. This includes every time you grab a handful of chips here or eat the crust of your kid’s sandwich there, and ALL of your snacking.
•Enjoy an occasional (once a week) “unhealthy” treat, but never an unhealthy week or unhealthy vacation.
•If your diet is unbalanced, take daily vitamin and mineral supplements for total health.
•Don’t compare your body to others’. Instead, work to be your personal best.
•Move beyond the boundaries of weight loss and into total fitness. Measure success by the way your clothes fit, not some number on a scale.
•Get adequate amounts of sleep, but remember that people who exercise regularly fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
•Limit alcohol intake to special occasions.

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