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Sunday, April 12, 2015

How I Got Bikini Confidence in Three Weeks...

I began studying health and nutrition for over ten years ago-- mostly through trial and error, lots of research, and then of course my Certification Program through the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. You would think I knew all the answers to losing weight… but I found myself 10 pounds over weight even though I was eating a mostly vegan diet, and doing intense P90X3 exercises daily. For years I was cycling through my P90X workouts, which I adore, and long runs. But I needed a change because I was no longer seeing results. At this point I was eating close to nothing in my failed attempts to lose the weight.  

In 2012, at the age of 25 with acne and belly weight I could not shed, I was told that I was infertile because my ovaries were "fully loaded" with cysts. This is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  With PCOS, my blood sugar is often elevated, and I am constantly bloated… It was the reason my skin was mess and my weight was out of control. Anyone with hormonal imbalances knows how difficult it is to maintain a healthy weight, let alone lose weight.

That was until about a month ago when I started the 21 Day Fix Extreme along with my Shakeology.

V.Day Dinner was amazing, and worth every bite!

Here we are, all smiles after that sushi, wine, and chocolate :)
I began the program shortly after a gluttonous Valentine’s Day weekend- where my hubby and I munched on chocolate and sushi by the boatloads, and washed it all down with really good Chardonnay. On February 22nd I weighed in at my highest weight of 131.8, my waist was 32 inches, my hips were 42 inches, and each thigh was 24.5 and 23.8 inches. My clothes were tight, I was extremely bloated, and when I put on a bathing suit, I almost cried and refused to take before pictures in it (hence the workout clothes picture below). I know 131.8 pounds is not necesarily a lot of weight, but I am 5’2” and I have a small frame. So for me, this is a lot of unhealthy weight mostly in my stomach which was making me feel awful both emotionally and physically.

The first week of doing the 21-Day Fix Extreme, I felt I was eating SO much more food than before, and I was. But after just one week I lost 8 pounds, two inches in my waist, one in my hips, and a little less than one in each leg. I was amazed how quickly the weight came off! My clothes were so much looser, I felt more toned, and I wasn’t starving (like I was in the past). 

The best part about the diet was that I was able to eat pretty much anything that wasn’t processed:

Here is an example of a typical day minus my snack:
Shakeology with banana and Flaxseed, Kale Scrambled Eggs
with Avocado and Sprouted Grain Bread for lunch, Then Salmon over a
Kale salad with Asparagus and Sweet Potatoes. 
-Breakfast was easy, I would have my Vegan Chocolate Shakeology (1 red) with half a frozen banana (1 purple) and two tablespoons of ground flaxseed (1 orange). Since it tastes like a treat, I didn’t have too many cravings for sweets.

-For lunch I would put a protein over a salad with a ¼ of avocado. Most days I would use tempeh, others I would use eggs ( 1-2 green, 1 red, 1 blue) topped with balsamic vinegar, lemon, and seasonings.

-My typical snack was an apple with almond butter (1 purple, 2 teaspoons).

One of my favorite things to do was to make Tacos for dinner (minus 
the shells, instead I eat as a salad), and then bring leftovers for lunch. 

-Finally for dinner I made variations of chicken breast, ground turkey, fish, and vegetables. Some days I made turkey meatballs over zucchini spaghetti, others I made tacos, or grilled chicken in hot sauce or a homemade barbeque sauce. My favorite was baking Sole or Salmon in a lemon sauce.  

The options are endless. I fell in love with asparagus; it is a wonderful food for detoxifying the body. My favorite food was making sweet potato fries in place of my carbs. So dinner was typically 2 reds, 1-2 greens, 1-2 yellows.

I made everything I normally would cook, just tweaked it a bit to make it healthier. 

Grilled chicken is always an easy meal with my beloved asparagus and
sweet potato fries. I also switched up my protein a few days to tempeh,
which is a vegan protein. Pan seared in coconut oil
and over a salad, it is delicious! 

On nights I made my husband Chicken Parm or meatballs,
I would nix the cheese and eat it over Spaghetti Squash. This helped
take care of those Italian genes craving I often get!

By the end of the 21 days I had gained two pounds since my first week weigh in, BUT the amazing thing was that I lost 3 more inches in my waist (total of 5 inches), a total of 4.5 inches in my hips, and 1 inch on each thigh. I could not believe that I had GAINED two pounds but lost so many inches! Of course I knew this was possible, but I never quite experienced it, so I did not really believe it, until now.

On April 2nd I completed my second round of the 21-Day Fix Extreme, right in time for my vacation down to the Virgin Islands with my Hubby and our friends.... I was so ready! I had not lost any more weight, but my waist was so much more toned, and I felt amazing.

The three things I learned in the first three weeks:
1.) The scale does not tell the whole story! 
2.) It is not so much about how much you eat, than what you eat. Eating more protein and less carbs, although more calories have proven to help me lose weight. 
3.) Squats + weights are amazing at slimming and toning the WHOLE body and there a lot of them in the program! Amen to that!

Next week I plan to tell you all about my vacation-- balancing health and fitness with reckless fun. Lets just say I ordered the 3-Day Refresh to clean out my system post vacation and have already begun a third round of the Fix Extreme! (Is there any such thing as too much fun?)

As always, please, please, please do not hesitate to ask me any questions! In addition, I would to LOVE to connect and help you reach your health and fitness goals so comment below, or contact me:

Find me on BeachBody:
Follow me on Twitter: @amandaliska
Personal Email:

Healthy & Happiness (& some reckless fun!),

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Shakeology-- What it is, Why I Drink it, and Why I Love it

If you are following me on Facebook, you are well aware that I am drinking Shakeology, doing the 21 Day Fix Extreme (more on that next week), losing weight that has been really difficult for me to shed (thank you PCOS), and loving it.

So many people have messaged me with questions about Shakeology, so I created this post for a Challenge Group I am running on Facebook (If you haven't participated in any yet, and are interested, just shoot me a message and I can give you all the information-- Challenge groups are FREE!), and I knew I had to share this in a blog post, because it is very important to know what you are putting into this temple of yours....

This is a long, in-depth post-- simply because there is so much greatness to talked about.

Why Shakeology?

I began drinking green vegan smoothie back in 2011 when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), lacked energy, was gaining weight at a rapid pace, and for the first time in my life, in my mid 20s, I had acne. I completely overhauled my diet, and spent so much time and money on these shakes. Here is a quick rundown on what I would purchase: The Vegan Protein Powder ($50), Wheatgrass ($30), Maca Powder ($20), Green Tea Extract ($10), Spirulina ($20), Acai ($25)...and then I would purchase a multivitamin ($45), probiotic ($15), digestive enzymes ($20), vitamin c, d, b12, b6, magnesium, calcium... Ya get the point?

After years of drinking this shake and spending so much time every morning making it, I realized I was not getting the results I wanted. I was constantly bloated, gassy, still exhausted, and it really didn't taste all that great...

So In October I ran out of all of my products. My CPA hubby sat down and calculated how much it would cost for me to purchase all the products again...

He agreed that the best option for me would be to try Shakeology. It not only had ALL of the ingredients I was buying separately for my shakes, but it had everything else that I wanted to put in my shakes but could not afford--Rose Hip, Chlorella, Moringa, Ginko, among so many others! It also provided sufficient vitamins, probiotics, and digestive enzymes so that I did not have to replenish every single vitamin I was taking.

I started the shakes and the most wonderful thing happened, I had SO much energy! Within a few weeks my skin cleared up, and I lost a few pounds. Overall I felt amazing for the first time in a long time!

Now I drink my Shakeology every single day after my morning workout, which is currently the 21-Day Fix Extreme. My favorite recipe is the Vegan Chocolate with filtered water (I don't even miss or need my nut milk!), half a frozen banana, and a tablespoon of ground flaxseed.
I love drinking my Shakeology after a hard workout. It hydrates and replenishes me-- giving me energy to take on the rest of the day.

What IS Shakeology?

To be honest, for years I would see the Shakeology ads after my P90X workouts, and just assume it was crap. It wasn't until last winter that my Beachbody coach sent me a few samples, when I really sat down and did my research. Here is what I found and what really made me bite the bullet and purchase it:

In a nutshell, Shakeology is a nutrient dense meal replacement. It is not a protein shake. It is not a diet shake. Yes, it has 16 wonderful grams of protein, and yes, you may very well lose weight. But the reason you lose weight is because your body is finally getting ALL of the essential phytonutrients and minerals it needs—you are consuming "the rainbow" in just one meal. In order for us to consume all of these minerals and vitamins through diet we would have to consume 27,000 (yes, I said thousand!) calories a day! Therefore, your cravings nearly disappear. That dieting rut that we all tend to hit around the second and third week doesn't happen. So you can continue with your diet, and as a result continue losing weight!

Now, let’s break down what exactly is in Shakeology and what it does for you:
I was able to convince my hubby to start drinking Shakeology daily. He is a NO-Veggie, NO-fruit, NO-vitamin type of guy, and he loves the energy and regularity Shakeology gives him while I love knowing he is FINALLY getting a nutrient dense meal in his diet!

Protein and Amino Acids are supplied through Whey (only in regular Shakeology—replaced with rice and oat in the vegan varieties), Pea, Chia, Quinoa, Amaranth, Flax, Ahaca Inchi.  
What do these proteins and amino acids do for your body? They help you build lean muscles, improve your skin and hair, support optimal brain function, improve your mood, and reduce your cravings (hence, weight loss).

Then we have our powerful antioxidants and super-fruits, which help reduce oxidative damage from free radicals, promote heart health, supports joint health, and brain health. These ingredients include Cacao, Coconut Flower Necter, Acerola Cherry, Pomegranate, Camu Camu, Bilberry, Goji Berry, Blueberry, Acai, Green Tea, Rose Hips, Cinnamon, Luo Han Guo (Wow those are difficult to pronounce!) 
According to Dr. Furman M.D. in his book, Super Immunity, Super foods should be consumed in “significant amounts and simultaneously”.  When you consume these powerful antioxidants simultaneously, and shift to a diet with a range of immune system strengthening and cancer-fighting foods, you have “Super Immunity”. As the words Super Immunity say in it’s self, this is immunity that can help you, “age in confidence, not fear, and in excellent health.” He then concludes, “We have to learn that illness and disease are not the inevitable consequences of aging, and that it is in our control not to get sick.”

My little cousin, who battled a brain tumor at 19, and then cancer at 21, has struggled with eating healthy and losing weight. Check out this post!
These phytonutrients and super-greens (think about those colorful plant foods) help alkalize the body and promote detoxification of the liver, kidneys, and blood to restore health and vitality. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a diet that promotes acidity in our bodies. As a consequence, acidity leads to illnesses and disease-- to cancer.

An acidic/alkaline diet has to do with the pH (potential of hydrogen) in our bodies which is measured on a scale from1-14. If a food is alkaline it has a pH of 7.0 and higher, if it is acidic it has a pH of lower than 7.0. Our bodies are made to function with a very narrow pH range of 7.365 (slightly more alkaline).  As Kris Carr notes in her book, Crazy Sexy Diet, even a minor fluctuation in the bloods pH measure creates “distress signals”. Symptoms can be anything from,  “a runny nose to skin eruptions, heartburn, eczema, inflammation, arthritis, poor circulation, chronic fatigue, IBS, a weakened immune system, cancer.” In addition an acidic diet is a breading ground for bad bacteria, yeast, and fungi. So you can imagine that a blood pH below 7.0 (more acidic) is extremely detrimental to your health.  By eating more alkalizing foods (phytonutrients and super-greens) we are actually decreasing our chances of being ill. However, it is not just diet that affects your pH—but lack of exercise, anger, drugs, cigarettes, and stress can all add to acidity. Shakeology contains an array of these phytonutrients and superfoods: Moringa, Spirulina, Chlorella, Spinach, barley Grass, Kamut Grass, Oat Grass, and Wheat Grass. Consuming these powerful detoxifiers on a regular basis is one huge step towards health and vitality.

Next we have the Adaptogen Herbs, which protect our bodies from stress (in turn also protecting us from acidity), support the immune system, and balance the endocrine system. Dr. Bertrand Babinet, Ph. D., LAc. refers to Adaptogen Herbs as the “key to longevity and optimal health”. In aging, there are two mechanisms in our body, anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism is the positive—it is healing, healing, and balancing. Catabolism is the opposite: active, deteriorating, and stressful.  So obviously we need to increase anabolism in order to age gracefully. When we are stressed, the bodies natural balancing of homeostasis may cause anabolic and catabolic to function improperly. This is the reason why we feel tired, depressed, have insomnia, anxiety, weight imbalances, and a lack of libido while under stress. Adaptogen Herbs restore health and vitality naturally by hindering stress and aging, increasing stress resistance, balancing antioxidants, regulating the inflammatory response, and balancing both the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems. The Adaptogen ingredients found in Shakeology include Maca powder, Astragalus, Ashwagandha, Maitake Mushroom, Coryceps, Reishi Mushroom, Schisandra, Ginkgo, and Tulsi.

I am a busy teacher by day, and my Shakeology gives me energy, it is easy to  make, and accessible so I can drink it in the morning while I teach.
One of my favorite things about Shakeology is that it has both Prebiotics and Probiotics. Our systems rely heavily on our intestines. Sixty to seventy percept of our immune power is in our digestive tract. Unfortunately the friendly bacteria in our digestive tract can be damaged due to poor diet—too much sugar, too much animal protein, and too little fiber, along with alcohol use, drugs, and antibiotics (you read that right!). Pre and Probiotics promote regularity, they support a balanced micro flora environment in the intestinal tract (good bacteria), and as a result- improve digestion. In order to absorb and reap all the benefits of the healthy nutrients and vitamins we consume, we NEED these pre and probiotics to protect the good bacteria. An added bonus, with prebiotics and probiotics already in Shakeology- that is one less supplement you need to spend money on AND also a very important supplement to help you digest and reap the benefits of all the nutrients packed into this shake.

Lastly we have our digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes help the body break down foods and increase absorption of nutrients—so you can really benefit from all of those phytonutrients! Consuming digestive enzymes take some of the load off of your digestive system and in turn allows your body to divert that energy elsewhere. In addition, digestive enzymes help the body with elimination. Hence why you may go to the bathroom more often when you drink your Shakeology, and another reason why you may lose weight!

Chocolate Vegan Shakeology taste like brownie mix (in my opinion!), so I am not tempted to even take a nibble of these once loved chocolates that my students brought me for Valentine's Day.
Now imagine all of these phytonutrients as food, which you should consume on a day-to-day basis for optimal health.  In one regular (non-vegan) Shakeology you consume $41 worth of food: 3 cups of romaine lettuce, 4 cups of raw mushrooms, 1 shot of wheat grass, 1 bowl of exotic fruit, 3 raw onions, 7 raw carrots, 4 cups of nonfat yogurt, 4 cups of red radishes, 4 cups of raw broccoli, 1 cup of peas, 1 cups of raw cauliflower.

So there you have it- a TON of information on Shakeology (incase you didn't wanna ask ;) Please, please, please do not hesitate to ask me any questions! In addition, I would to LOVE to connect and help you reach your health and fitness goals so comment below, or contact me:

Find me on BeachBody:
Follow me on Twitter: @amandaliska
Personal Email:

Healthy & Happiness,

It addition to Shakeology, I have been doing 21 Day Fix Extreme-- Shakeology has helped keep my cravings down, my energy up, and my digestive system regulated. In one week I lost 6lbs, 2inches in my waist, 1 inch in my thighs and hips. After the 21 Days I am now down 6lb. and 5 inches bin my waist, 4.5 inches in my hips, 1 inch in each of my thighs.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ladies Only (Diva Cup- TMI but worth the read)

Last week I told you I stopped using deodorant... Well, I also stopped using tampons and pads.

(She's nuts!)

Tampons and pads are not only disgusting waste that rots in our landfills and clogs our toilets, but they are also loaded with chemicals, artificial scents, and can lead to infections, extreme dryness, cramps, and toxic shock.

Don't worry, I'm not just letting it all out... Gross... I'm using what I call my, "little silicone cup" which is really called the "Diva Cup".

When I first pulled the "cup" out of the packaging, I was scared. I studied the directions. What if it gets stuck up there!? I was having visions of me waking up my husband to help yank this thing out (comical, now that I think about it!).  However, once I got the hang of the Diva Cup I wondered how I didn't know about it sooner! The amount of money I would have saved, and mind you, this is coming from someone who went three years sans cycle... The grossness I could have avoided! Dryness... Stinkiness..

So what is the Diva Cup?

It is made from silicone, it is leak proof, odor proof, it's cheap ($25 on Amazon), you can wear it up to 12 hours without having to worry about toxic shock, it is reusable (not going to sit in a landfill) and it's easy. If you want more information about it, visit the website: here

But more from a real person who used it for the first time (last week):

At first, I was skeptical...

How in the world is this thing not going to overflow and leak? (I know, gross to think about!) Remember I have PCOS, and for all my PCOS ladies out there, you know how heavy our cycles can be.... But it really did not leak. Not once! I used to go though heavy duty tampons in an hour. This cup seriously held it all in for 10-12 hours (my heavier days I was a bit paranoid and emptied it out more frequently). As the package suggests, you have to turn the cup once inside of you a full turn to assure it is completely open.

So  onto that worry I mentioned earlier.. What if it gets stuck? There is this three centimeter (perhaps shorter) "thing" (for lack of better words) that hangs down-- but I quickly learned that you have to use your fingers to pinch out the cup. It is SO not as awful as it sounds. I swear! You don't even get dirty (period dirty). After a few times of perhaps being a little grossed out, I was surprisingly intrigued and able to really keep track of my flow.

The best part about the cup is that you can really go all day without changing it. It might take a bit getting used to taking it out and putting it in, but after a few shots you get the hang of it... No different then getting used to wearing tampons.

Not to mention, you don't deal with any of the dryness you get with tampons, or the stink you get with pads. (ekkk!)

I was so excited when I was wearing it I could hardly contain myself. If you know me personally, you know when I love something, it's impossible for me to shut up about it. I wanted to scream to the world: "throw away your tampons! I have discovered the most amazing "thing" ever..." But I will settle for a blog post about it.

I hope I have encouraged you to ditch your nasty, toxic, environment disaster tampons and pads for a Diva Cup... And trust me- don't be intimated, try it out, give it some time, it's worth it!

Please private message me, (or public if you are like me and have no shame), and let me know what you think of it or if you have any questions!

Love, light, and easy flow ;)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Dirty Little Secret ;)

Want to know my dirty little secret??

I haven't worn deodorant in over a month.

Yep, you read that right...

and guess what?

I don't smell!

You can ask my students, third graders are brutally honest.
Seriously, I do not smell.

Before I tell you my solution, I must explain why I am SO excited about this....
A few years ago, in the beginning of my wellness journey my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Within my research I discovered that aluminum in antiperspirant has been linked to cancer. Having a long history of cancer in my family (who doesn't?), particularly breast cancer, I decided that my Dove antiperspirant deodorant was not worth the risk. Dove protected me through many, many years from stinky hormones in puberty, high school, and college. It wasn't an easy breakup, but I knew it was worth it....

It is natural for us to sweat, it is our body's natural cooling system. Think about that- why are we using chemicals to keep ourselves from sweating? It is just not worth the risk.

(Side-note: I may or may not have lost friends on this journey to find the right deodorant! ;) )

I have tried almost every single natural deodorant on the shelves. There are some that I like better than others, but none of them kept me stinky free as long as these common household items do. I have spent tons of money on deodorant, just to store them in my pantry, and eventually throw them away. When all along the most natural solutions were sitting in my kitchen and being used multiple times a day....

Coconut oil and baking soda.

It's super easy and cheap. All you need is a bottle of coconut oil (yes you can use coconut oil for everything-- $10) and baking soda ($2.50).

Then, create a paste by using approximately 1/2 tbs. of coconut oil with 1/2 tbs. of baking soda. Rub it together in your hands until the coconut oil is liquid and simply apply to your armpits. Rinse your hands off and get ready to take on your day in a healthy, not stinky way!

You may need to adjust the amount of baking soda you use-- the more you use, the more protection you will have.

Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments below! :)

Love, light, and a healthy (non stinky ;) ) body <3

Friday, February 6, 2015

Have you jumped on the Lemon Water bandwagon yet? Here are my thoughts...

As I sit here to write my first blog post in a long time (cut me some slack- it's been a busy year!),
I take a sip of a hot mug of lemon water, with a few dashes of cayenne pepper, and sweetened with stevia, and I think to myself: What should I write about?

Then I get a text from a client who is having digestive issues. She isn't the first one this week to ask me for advice on how to get her pumps, well, pumping...

We have all been there, especially this time of year where it is dark and cold. We may not be eating as well or as frequently as we should be. So our bodies stop pumping, and instead hold onto waste. Causing your waist to budge with terrible discomfort.

Now, I have quite a few tricks up my sleeves being a IBS recoverer (who knew there was such a thing?)... but my favorite trick of all, which we can ALL incorporate into our daily lives (even if your pumps are always flowing) is a hot cup of lemon water, with an added bump of the spicy cayenne pepper, and a little sweet touch of stevia.

Who doesn't want to sip on something warm when it is single digit temperatures outside and the wind is whipping so hard that it makes you wonder, "why the hell did I buy a house in New Jersey?" At least that's my thought.... Added bonus-- it keeps you warm! So warm that you may even start to believe you are living in the Virgin Islands.. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration- but sounds nice, doesn't it?

I am sure you have seen in the magazines, on Dr. Oz, Jennifer Anniston swears by it (and who doesn't want to look like her?),  everyone  is swearing off their cup of coffee for lemon water.
However, I was doing it before it was a trend-- and yes it did help me kick my horrendous pot-a-day coffee addiction.

So here are a few more reasons why I love, love, love this drink, and why I have suggested all my constipated and non constipated clients and friends drink it:

1.) It detoxifies-- this goes along with the constipation problem (see above). But seriously, lemon water will help flush out toxins and waste. Drink it first thing in the a.m., before that P90X workout. I mean, it sucksssss to workout when clogged up.

2.) It wakes you up and energizes you (all hours of the day). Six a.m. workout- you got this! Three p.m. slump-- get that water brewing, and start squeezing!

3.) Immunity-- Bring it, Flu Season! This drink is LOADED with vitamins-- particularly vitamin C.
In addition, it has calcium, potassium, magnesium, and pectin fiber along with antibacterial properties which will keep you healthy all winter long.

4.) It will help you kick that exhausting caffeine addiction and save money from not having to buy coffee and tea. (see #2 ;) )

5.) Suppresses hunger AND helps you lose weight. Enough said, this should have been #1...

6.) You will look younger-- that's a result of hydration, and vitamin C. It nourishes from within-- leaving you with a gorgeous glow. Less wrinkles, less pimples, beau-ti-ful! (if only real food had commercials....)

7.) Helps ease aches by dissolving uric acid which helps with inflammation, all while replenishing body salts to help with those sore muscles from that kick ass workout you completed this morning.

8.) With that advernturous dash of cayenne pepper, you intensify all of the benefits from the lemon: Detoxifying, energizing, antibacterial, anti-fungal, immunizes, digestion and weigh-loss booster. The list goes on and you get so much more bang for your buck.

Try it, and then let me know what you think in the comments below!

Love & Health (....and happy excretion ;) )