Posts Tagged ‘raw’

The Way of Kaizen


The Japanese culture is based on respect, honor, and innovation. They focus on being better and getting better all of the time. You may have seen the Japanese word “Kaizen” frequently used in the business world.

According to Wikipedia, Kaizen is:

“Japanese for ‘improvement’, or ‘change for the better’ refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management.”

Notice the word ‘improvement’ … it describes my journey to become Strong By Choice.

The Beginning

Growing up in Ohio, I certainly wasn’t the biggest or strongest kid. My body type is an ectomorph. Small wrists. Broad shoulders. Lanky legs. I remember how I used to look at those who played sports at our high school particularly one named “Larry” who was built like WWE Ryback at the young age of 16!

I knew that I wanted to look the same so I begged the football coach to train me to look like Larry. He chuckled and brushed me off. His dismissal hurt and only fueled my fire more. So I did what any skinny boy in America would do, I asked my parents for a weight set! After enough pleading with my parents, they finally decided to give in and shell out money for me to buy a Sears weight-lifting set complete with grey plastic sand weights and black steel bar. I would now show the coach and Larry what’s up!


After a few months, the weights became home to spider webs and boredom. Larry went on to muscle bound glory I’m sure while I stayed trapped in my thin frame.

Fast forward to my time in the military in the 1990’s through 2000’s. If one is not able to get in shape in the military, then there is no hope for them! Totally by God’s grace, I passed boot camp and military school to be assigned at a horrible place of blue waters, good weather, and clean air: Hawaii.

Since I would go on deployments, we have nothing better to do than to get in shape. So we would work out in scouring hot weather using the facility’s rusted equipment while downing the latest supplements in hopes of creating the Atlas physique. In fact, I think I could have been a shareholder for GNC’s supplement store because of all the money I was spending on potions, powders and promises (e.g. Bill Phillips & Body For Life, EAS supplements, Cybergenics).

During my time with the military, I was able to make some gains by ballooning to 170 lbs of muscle  and fat by eating Burger King and McDonald’s to put on size. My dress uniform pants for the military would scream every time I plunged my girth into them. Eventually I got out of the military and went into the Reserves. My access to the gym now meant I had to buy my membership and so I did. My wife and I joined the local gym in the neighborhood where some of the customers would walk barefooted while lifting heavy weights (no joke). That’s not all. The facility didn’t have a sanitation bottle to spray the benches. After a few weeks, we decided to cancel our membership and my training fizzled to nothing. We moved to Ohio and later moved to Kentucky. After years of inactivity, there was a spark that started an inferno of activity. The spark was a co-worker of mine named Jeremy Corder.

The Spark

In 2011, Jeremy had various health problems including Fibromyalgia. I recall one time when Jeremy showed me how many bottles of mediation he had to take for his ailments. I remember clearly that he pulled out so many bottles of meds that he shook his head in disbelief.

Over the months following, I was able to work from home for the company that we worked for. Since I was in Kentucky, I could instant message those at work to keep in touch. One day I was chatting with Jeremy and he shared with me how he had changed his life. He stated that he was off his meds, found natural solutions and was getting in shape! He shared with me that he was even starting to get buff. I could hardly believe what I was reading. To be frank, I was jealous because he took control of his life while I was stuck in my own mediocrity.

So one day, I was looking in the mirror and I knew that I had to change. Then a spark of inspiration touched me. I could see…wait a minute…I could see small definitions in my abs. I had eaten traditional foods and organic foods for a while and there must have been some fat burning on some level. I was determined to find the workout program that would work for me. The spark had been lit. I knew I had to change.

The Inferno

With new determination, I went to the local library. There had to be some program I could do that was time friendly since my #1 excuse was the #1 excuse of everyone else – Lack of time.

Enter Sean Foy – the author of the book “The 10-Minute Total Body Breakthrough.”

In the book, Sean proposes an exercise program that can be done in 10 minutes yet offer the same benefits of a traditional 1-2 hour program.

Skeptical yet? Good.


Because I don’t want you to believe what I say yet to encourage you to check out the book yourself.

I can say that with this program, I had successfully worked out consistently. Every time I try to weasel out of doing the workouts, I reminded myself, “It’s only 10 minutes. Anyone can do ten minutes.”

I do the workout and boom. . .done.

Through eating real food and working out for 10 minutes (M,W,F), I began to slowly see changes in my body. Yes, the spark had ignited into a flame.

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have -  @strongbychoice

Find what works for you and stick to it ~ @strongbychoice

The Future

From that point I had moved from body-weight exercises to being able to afford a gym membership and getting in the best shape of my life in 2011-2012. I started the Twitter handle @StrongByChoice because being strong is always a choice.

In early 2013, I dead-lifted 205 lbs and 210 lbs at 165 lbs which you can view here: it’s my personal best to date.

My twitter account remains active and my core supporters are a group of committed individuals called #TheStrongNation. For the time being I’ve cancelled my gym membership in order to save money and focus on new ventures. My training is at a stand still however I realize that fitness is a journey and the choice to be strong is indeed a daily choice. Eventually, I’ll get back on track. My training is all about Kaizen.

Besides, 10 minutes is a good place to start again, right?

Christian, husband, daddy and the assassin of average. Creator of ™  @StrongByChoice

15 health benefits of eating apples

Many of us forget that sometimes, the simplest answers are the best. Better health could be as easy as reaching for the fruit bowl for some apples next time you need a snack.


What makes apples so great?

In 2004, USDA scientists investigated over 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving size. Two apples—Red Delicious and Granny Smith—ranked 12th and 13th respectively. Antioxidants are disease-fighting compounds. Scientists believe these compounds help prevent and repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity. Apples are also full of a fibre called pectin—a medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fibre. Pectin is classed as a soluble, fermentable and viscous fibre, a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits.

1. Get whiter, healthier teeth

An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

2. Avoid Alzheimer’s

A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetyl choline and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

3. Protect against Parkinson’s

Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fiber foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained therein.

4. Curb all sorts of cancers

Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumors in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fiber intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

5. Decrease your risk of diabetes

Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fibre, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

6. Reduce cholesterol

The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

7. Get a healthier heart

An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

8. Prevent gallstones

Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fibre to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

9. Beat diarrhea and constipation

Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fibre found in apples can help. Fibre can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.

10. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods while including a high intake of fibre in your diet.

11. Avert hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a swollen vein in the anal canal and while not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. They are caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas. Part and parcel with controlling constipation, fibre can prevent you from straining too much when going to the bathroom and thereby help alleviate hemorrhoids.

12. Control your weight

Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. To manage your weight and improve your overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fibre. Foods high in fibre will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

13. Detoxify your liver

We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best—and easiest—things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits—like apples.

14. Boost your immune system

Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you’re stressed out.

15. Prevent cataracts

Though past studies have been divided on the issue, recent long-term studies suggest that people who have a diet rich in fruits that contain antioxidants—like apples—are 10 to 15 per cent less likely to develop cataracts.


Watermelon – Fresh Fruit Popsicles

You can replace the watermelon puree with honeydew melon or cantaloupe puree. Use any fresh organic fruit you have on hand. We used contrasting colors because it makes the popsicle look delicious!  Don’t forget to use seedless watermelon.

3 cups watermelon puree (about 1/4 to 1/2 a watermelon)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 peach or nectarine, diced small
handful fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

Cut the watermelon into chunks and then puree it in a blender until smooth. Set aside.

Set out about 1 dozen popsicle molds (amount needed will vary depending on size of molds). Fill each one with the chopped fresh fruit. Then pour in the watermelon puree until each mold is full to the top. Place a popsicle stick into each one. Place into your freezer and freeze for about 6 to 8 hours.

When ready to serve, run the popsicle molds under warm water for a few seconds and then pull each one out and enjoy. Summer here we come!!

Your friends at Socially Fit


The hardest obstacle for me has been “fitting it all in” on a daily basis. Juggling my goals; my children’s schedule; a busy husband AND a full time job can be tough. Knowing what and when to compromise is important. Since starting my journey I have lost almost 50lbs and I’ve gone from a size 12 to a size 4!

Baby Steps! That’s How You Get There!

I am a 37 year old mother, wife, gym rat foodie. I love the outdoors, good food; great wine and being able to out run my kids! Keeping up with a 7 and 5 year old is no easy task. With 3 students in my home one being my husband to say my free time is limited is an understatement. I work for an engineering firm in Marketing and social media. Currently I am interested in building a strong healthy family starting with me! I work for an amazing company that allows me to be fit, focused and creative. When not at work or in the gym you can find me in the kitchen creating tasty healthy creations for my family. 4 years ago I bought a Trek road-bike and when time and weather are on my side you will find me solo on the open road, there is nothing more liberating than being clipped in and passing Sunday drivers!

As a kid I was always involved in sports, I swam competitively (race and Syncro) and played softball on various competitive teams. My mother was a health food nut so I was always surrounded by healthy food and good choices, which I never appreciated until I had my own children. When I hit high-school I fell in with a crowd that was not so health conscious and my weight went up and my self-esteem went down. Puberty was a tough balancing act for me and was the first time in life I turned to food for comfort. My choices were poor for 10+ years and my health and body reflected it. Then came college and beer and bad choices became my way of life, as you can imagine my health reflected it, I was sick all the time, lacked energy and drive and was in a dangerous self-sacrificing spin.

My passion for health and fitness lay dormant for almost 15 years then I quit smoking and bought a gym membership, I hired a trainer and started to change my life. I ate clean, worked out 6 days a week and lost 50lbs and gained lean muscle. Then I met my husband and although we were active we got comfortable and the health and fitness passion went dormant again. 18 months ago I got fired from a terribly abusive job that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The boss I worked for was a bully and harassed me emotionally for years. I was at an all-time low with my self-esteem and an all-time high with my weight (175lbs at 5’5 and not pregnant). I was depressed, angry and needed to change. When I found the current company that I am with now, the focus on work life balance and the focus on health and wellness was just one of the many draws. We have a number of triathletes on staff and the company subsidizes gym memberships and has a full time wellness program complete with consultants that meet with us monthly. The constant chatter about training and nutrition re-ignited the fitness fire in me. It was exactly the kick in the butt I needed!

Fitness has given me awareness about how I impact others around me and has emotionally supercharged my self-confidence. I no longer run out of energy playing with my kids, I never turn to alcohol for stress relief anymore and I am more confident in my body and life. I feel that I am a positive role model for my children and others around me and hopefully I can inspire others to live a healthier more balanced lifestyle. Not to mention I feel great in or out of clothes, possibly for the first time in my life!

My 7 year old daughter is my biggest support system. She is full of questions and keeps me accountable. 60 days ago a took part in a 60 Days Strong Challenge put on by Sophie Smith of Sophie Fitness, a nutrition and fitness challenge that has created an awareness that has been more than profound. I am proud to say I won this Challenge and lost 12% of my body weight in the process and gained an insane amount of strength and knowledge.  A lot of my family think that I am extreme with my nutrition and work out regimens however they are currently doing nothing to better themselves or their lives. Most of my friends are great! We seek out advice and share strategies with each other, pushing each other to be better every day.

The hardest obstacle for me has been “fitting it all in” on a daily basis. Juggling my goals; my children’s schedule; a busy husband; and a full-time job can be tough. Knowing what and when to compromise is important. Since starting my journey I have lost almost 50lbs, have gone from a 12 to a 4 and for the first time ever I am smaller than my husband!   My biggest accomplishment though is planting the seeds with my children that fitness and nutrition is a normal part of daily life, not a once in a while thing.  I don’t do supplements other than protein powder; and before this 60 day challenge my protein intake was ½ what it should have been, now I average 150 grams a day plus. I try to limit  my caffeine intake but I admit it,  black coffee is my go to weakness.  I need it to survive my two kids. When I need something sweeter I add a ½ tsp. of cocoa and some peppermint extract and a bit of stevia… it is liquid candy!

I eat a LOT of green food, avocado, tomatoes and white protein… my diet is simple and spices are the trick… I experiment a lot with different dry spices… and try to eat the rainbow daily… My mom always said “if you eat the rainbow you will be healthy.” I am gluten and lactose intolerant so my carbs are usually veggies with oats being my go to before and after workouts, I eat 6 times a day with my first meal being at 5 am and my last at 9:30pm I eat at least 10 cups of veggies everyday!

My goals are still forming, this year I am competing in the Warrior Dash ( think Tough Mudder only scaled back) with my husband, this was my main driver to get me back in shape.  I intend to ride 100km this summer and in the next 5-7 years my daughter and I would like to ride across Canada, just to say we did it! Like most women who wear a bikini, I would like to see my abs, at least once 🙂  There’s no reason why you can’t start your journey today!  Just do IT! The first step is the hardest, as with anything, every day will get a little easier. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, mark it off on the calendar, set goals that are visible and realistic, write them down and put them on your fridge. Do NOT compare yourself to the people on the cover of a magazine or a TV show, this is not reality. Reality is we all started somewhere, we all have a story. If you are looking for a motivator, hire someone to help you set the foundation… it was one of the best steps I made. Know that you will have bad days, but it is one day, get right back up dust yourself off and do it all over again. Keep trying and trust in the process. If money is the issue, make a trade, I quit smoking 13 years ago and all the money I put into cigarettes I put into a gym membership and 3 months’ worth of personal training. The money was exactly the same just in a healthier spot? Do you eat takeout… that alone could be your gym membership or training sessions. If you dread the thought of the gym… get outside… nature is the best gym… Google outdoor HIIT workouts for beginners… you will be surprised how much work you can do at a park. Bottom line is trust in yourself… you are the reason to change, you deserve to be the healthiest person you can be, you owe it to you!

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you have even the smallest desire to better your health and well-being make a lot of small changes instead of trying to transform everything at one time. Think of the transformation as putting together a massive 3D puzzle, first you must build the foundation and make sure it is strong, then you add on all the extras that help define the masterpiece then finally you add the little details that make it amazing. Start with doing something, anything! Walk somewhere every day, park at the back of the parking lot instead of up front, take the stairs, switch from Cream to milk in your coffee, eat out less, shop the outside of the grocery store first and the inside last 80% fresh 20% other! Find your support network Twitter was it for me, that and the morning crew at my local Y, seeing those same people every morning keeps me accountable and they don’t let me forget it if I miss more than 2 days in a row! Eat breakfast every day! Not negotiable, if the thought of eating makes you want to vomit try a shake… your body needs FUEL. You wouldn’t try and drive your car without gas would you? Eat 5-6 times a day.  Balance is key. If you are having an apple as a snack add in some nuts or yogurt too, get your fats and proteins with your carbs and you will feel fuller longer.

Twitter: @ALtillMom
My Fitness Pal: ALtillMom
Linked in:
Email: Leanne dot Tillaart at Gmail dot com


Eating Clean made Easy!

I have been making a lot of salads lately. Here’s a delightful and refreshing one that I made recently.  The lime juice adds a nice zing and a hint of freshness to the couscous.

(for 2 large servings)
3 cups cooked couscous
1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 cup of cooked black beans (I used half a can of beans after draining and rinsing)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
2-3 scallions, chopped
4-5 chives, minced

For the dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 3 limes
1/2 tbsp agave
3/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
Salt, Pepper and spices to taste

Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet. Fluff it up with a fork after cooking and let it cool.

Throw the couscous along with the rest of the salad ingredients into a large bowl.
Add all the ingredients for the dressing into a small bowl and mix well. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with chives before serving. Eat clean!

Your friends at Socially Fit!

On the Road to Greatness

Chantelle Emch

Chantelle Emch

I am 23 years old  and I’m from Brevard, North Carolina. I have two boy’s and I married a USAF man. We are stationed in Cheyenne WY. We have been here almost four years. I’m a down to earth, fun, bouncy individual. I’m always very busy  trying to juggle everything I enjoy. I love fitness. I did my first NPC bikini show August 2012 and I plan to do a couple more show’s this year. My dream is to make pro one day. Right now I’m working on gaining muscle for my next competition and networking. I want to motivate and help people all over the world to get started on reaching their fitness goals and dreams.

Growing up southern I ate a lot of fried foods so my diet wasn’t very good at all. After my second son I looked into the mirror and didn’t like what I saw, so I decided to do something about it. I started  slow with cardio and worked up the nerve one day to try weights and after a couple of weeks I saw such a huge change. I was toned and tight and I loved it. I realize now that a lot of women including myself have it in their minds that when you have kids and get married that you can never be sexy or wear a bikini again; that women shouldn’t lift weights; that it’s for men only! I have had my share of people who judged me for starting my fitness journey but it drives me to push harder. I’m very competitive and that drives me to be the best at everything. I have since decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer. I’d like to show all the Moms out there that they can look great in a bikini again .

My husband and kids are my biggest supporters. I couldn’t do it without them. My husband love’s to tell people what I do and he helps keep me on track; he pushes me daily and my boys both want to be a bodybuilder like their Mom. They melt my heart. My Mom, Dad and sister are still very new to the idea but they are so proud of how far I have come. They are always supportive. A fit lifestyle is something a lot of people don’t understand.  My baby brother on the other hand keeps me going! He’s just as competitive as I am,  so we are always trying to up each other on weight and compare abs lol! Family support is such an important thing to me. I am so glad to have them all behind me on this.

Scheduling time to go to the gym is my biggest obstacle. My husband is in the military and sometimes he’s gone weeks at a time. I remember going to the gym at 1am (after he came home) in order to prep for my competition. I was focused and determined.  Nothing great comes without hard work.

My accomplishments to date: 
– I went from 169lbs 22% body fat to 130lbs and 12% body fat in 8 months

– I also placed 6th in open bikini at the Armburst Warrior Classic 2012 NPC show in Loveland, Colorado

I am currently bulking for a couple shows so I can add some muscle size. I’m doing heavy lifting 6 days a week . For muscle gain and growth I use pro protein from complete nutrition. I love it! They have some of the best quality products I have ever taken. I would highly recommend their products. I eat a clean high protein diet every 1 to 2 hrs so around 8 meals a day . I’m hoping to see more growth in my legs and shoulders before my next show. My goal is to win! I want to go on to a National qualifying show and keep working toward one day going PRO!


Set a goal for yourself and don’t stop till you reach it .

Feel free to follow me on Facebook at Bikini competitor-Chantelle Emch. I post tip’s as well as my workout and diet plan. I am always there to help with any questions that you may have.


The main premise of the Eat Clean Lifestyle involves taking care of your body. This eating plan allows you to lose weight while increasing your overall health. Clean eating starts with using foods the way nature intended. Natural whole, fresh foods are at its core. The Eat Clean Lifestyle change involves making healthy meal choices versus relying on the convenience of processed foods.

Avoid Processed, Refined Foods

Avoid all processed foods, refined grains, sugar and alcohol. Examples of these types of foods include canned foods, breads and pasta made from white flour, convenience foods, frozen meals, boxed mixes and processed meats. Play it safe by staying away from any manufactured foods.

No Bad Fats

The Harvard School of Public Health identifies bad fats as saturated and trans fats. These fats increase the risk for heart and other diseases. The Eat Clean Lifestyle expressly forbids trans fats and limits saturated fats in meals. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, or good fats, play an important role in the plan. Healthy fats reside in olive oil, avocados, raw nuts and salmon.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates, found in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lay the groundwork for the Eat Clean Lifestyle. The plan recommends including a complex carbohydrate with each meal. A soup containing fresh vegetables, legumes or brown rice provides a good source of healthy starch.

Lean Proteins

Each clean eating meal must contain at least one lean protein. Consider chicken breast, turkey and fish when planning menus. According to FitBuff, other lean proteins include nuts, eggs and low-fat dairy products.


It is suggested that you eat six small meals every day. Space the mini-meals two to three hours apart to maintain an even metabolism and blood sugar levels. The closely spaced meals of 300 to 400 calories will prevent hunger attacks and minimize the risk of cheating.

Stay on Schedule

The Eat Clean Lifestyle emphasizes the importance of beginning each day with a healthy breakfast and never skipping a meal. Missing a meal decreases metabolism and energy levels, making weight loss more difficult. warns that skipped meals sometimes cause low blood sugar, resulting in a weak and lightheaded feeling.

Plan Ahead

Plan, shop and prepare meals in advance. Doing so will make eating multiple meals away from home less complicated than preparing everything the night before. Make sure your meals consist of healthy foods that transport easily in a small cooler.

Drink Water

Drink two to three liters of water per day. An easy way to regulate your water intake is to drink one liter in the morning and one in the afternoon. Gradually taper your water consumption during the evening hours. This will help curb overnight trips to the bathroom.

Your friends at Socially Fit.