A dear friend of mine recently asked me to do an interview for her clean eating challenge group. I am so blessed that I have inspired her to get involved with nutrition and fitness! The Q&A was a such a success, so I just couldn’t wait to share it with y’all! It’s all of my favorite topics all in one convenient post!
Here is my fit and healthy friend Shelby!
Here’s the Q&A!! Enjoy!
Shelby Schnoor: First thing is first, introduce yourself, who are you? What inspired you to do a health and fitness blog and bikini competitions?
Courtney Daniels: Hey y’all my name is Courtney Daniels. I am a 33 year old fitness competitor and new mama to 19 month old Baby Shugs. I am a registered Dietetic Technician and the writer and creator of FitBodyNourish.com. Fit Body Nourish exists to inspire you nutritionally and to help you create a healthier lifestyle for life! I want to provide you with free nutrition and fitness advice as well as great recipes. I post about my personal life, my current fitness and health situations and give motivating thoughts for you to go and reach your own goals. I am doing the dirty work of finding the new and current nutrition research so that I can inform you with this great knowledge from reputable sources. I wanted to give back to the community and help local programs. I entered my first bikini competition, honestly, because I had checked off other fitness related goals off my list and this was the next on the list. Who knew that I would grow a love for this sport and continue to compete!!!
Shelby: Welcome to our clean eating challenge group, Court, and thank you for taking your time to do this!
Shelby: Okay let’s get started with the age-old question, what is more important – working out or eating healthy?
Courtney: BOTH play vital roles. The most important focus areas are: eating cleaner (S: eating cleaner you say…. J ) more often or consistently, eating more often to help stabilize blood sugars, eating the right types of foods at each meal to help breakdown the macronutrients and use what you need for fuel and help store only what you need and not extra (known as fat storage), know when to have cheat meals/days, doing enough steady state cardio to help burn fat, incorporating HIIT workouts as needed, building muscle to help burn more fat efficiently.
Shelby: Got it, both are necessary for weight loss as well as healthy living, it makes sense, yet so many people focus on one or the other.
Shelby: So break it down for us, what does a good diet consist of?
Courtney: Variety of foods and a good breakdown of macronutrients and micronutrients. If you focus on the macro nutrients you will get those micronutrients. Some micros are hard to get and need to be supplemented such as B12 if you are a vegan. Omega-3 is obtained by eating it (fish 2 times per week) or by supplementing it. These are just 2 examples of micronutrients that are supplemented more often. I choose to take a MVI (multivitamin with minerals) and fish oil for that omega-3 I was talking about 😉 OK so the macronutrients are Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates. I have a great series on Carbs. Check out these links for those articles.
You need Carbs, protein and fat daily. Everyone is different but typically focus on Carbs as 40-50% of your total calories, Protein as 20-30% of your daily needs and fat can be anywhere around 35%. These percentages are vague, I know, but everyone has different needs. When building muscle, you need more carbs and protein to help the muscle grow and to help repair the muscle tissue. Higher fat intake goes hand and hand with training as well. When you start to “cut” your body fat (AKA dieting), a shorter timeframe of eating low carbs or carb cycling is effective, protein remains about the same and fat needs also vary depending on the person. A good and healthy plan of clean eating, working out and fat burning cardio need to be consistent. Weight loss will take time, but stay with it.
Shelby: SO good to know, I hear about all these crazy diets of cutting out certain food groups and I think that can’t be good, I’m sure there are nutrients from those foods you can’t get anywhere else. Besides, unless you diet forever what happens when you start eating that food again? They all seem like quick fixes and not easy to do instead of permanent solutions – So thank you for that information. Clean eating is the best way to go!
Shelby: The truth about carbs- Good? Bad? Ok to eat after 6pm?
Courtney: You need them, absolutely. They are the body’s main source of energy plain and simple. There is nothing simple about carbs. They are very complex to explain. There are two types: complex and simple. Complex carbs are good for you and simple carbs are not that great so keep them portion controlled. All carbs need to be portion controlled. Carbs are almost everywhere so be mindful. They are naturally in fruit, veggies, milk, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Carbs after 6pm is a tough question to answer. YES and NO. For someone losing weight and not exercising, it’s probably best to limit a ton of carbs before bed. If you go to bed around 11pm you could most certainly have carbs around 8ish pm. Just give your body time to process it and utilize it so it won’t get processed and then immediately stored if eaten right before bed. People with low blood sugars need to eat carbs and protein before bed to help keep those sugars stable during the night. If you are working out around 2 hours per day or more: you almost have to eat a serving of carbs before bed to help prevent those wakeups in the middle of the night due to your metabolism becoming sky high (again this is not for the average person – extreme athletes will do this). I know this may sound confusing and please send me any questions you have on this. Also, check out the links that I mentioned earlier for more about carbs.
Shelby: So many other foods aren’t the obvious carbs like breads and pastas, it’s good to understand the body’s needs, how much and why- cutting out your body’s main source of energy seems like a really bad way to diet.
Shelby: Is there such a thing as too much protein? Are protein shakes ok?
Courtney: There is but no one here needs to worry about that. If you are about to be on dialysis, you have to restrict protein amounts and if you are training for heavy weight bodybuilding some people may intake too much. For the typical intake, you will not exceed your intake to dangerous amounts. Depending on your activity level, you would intake at least 1.0 – 1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight. This is the amount of protein needed for your body to function properly. You will need to increase that amount if training and those amounts can differ. A typical female training for a bikini competition will increase her total amount of protein to 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of her body weight. Also keep in mind that each specific sport has different protein needs as well. I find that when many individuals are dieting that they cut way back on their protein intake which is not good. Protein shakes especially in this situation are awesome. I have them daily!
Shelby: I have them daily too! I never have to worry about getting my daily dose of nutrients.
Shelby: When following a prolonged exercise and healthy eating plan is it ok to have rest/cheat days? How often? Any foods to definitely avoid?
Courtney: YESSSS!!!!! Your body need a break in order to repair and recover! If you have restricted any specific food for example: dairy or gluten, then you will actually benefit from adding it in as a cheat meal (s) or day(s). For the average person losing weight and increasing their fitness level, a cheat meal or 2 is probably all you need to reset or recharge your body. A cheat day is fine if you mentally need it and can get right back on track. Everyone is different. The extreme bodybuilder cutting a lot of fat and having very little fat on their body will be the ones having cheat days. Everyone should rest at least one day per week. To be honest, I have a difficult time with this one tip. I find myself at least doing cardio on my rest day. In the end, listen to your body. If you have been working hard at your fitness routine and eating super clean then your body will tell you when you need a day off or a cheat. Research has recently shown that a typical person could benefit from a cheat meal once every 10 days.
Food to avoid: carbs are crucial for pre and postworkouts so when taking a rest day: I recommend eating lower carbs for sure. Basically cut out the pre and post workouts carb amounts.
Shelby: Awesome I’ve been clean eating for almost 3 weeks straight- no cheats no treats. I’m going to need one of those days soon.
Shelby: How long should a work out last? How many times a week?
Courtney: Research supports that 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intense physical activity on 5 or more days of the week (~2.5h/week) lowers risk of all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes in adults and older adults. Most health benefits occur at this level of physical activity (e.g. brisk walking), with additional benefits occurring with more physical activity. Most of the fitness competitors I know that are female train for 1-3 hours per day daily to build and maintain muscle.
Shelby: Should arms be worked out every day? Abs? Cardio?
Courtney: Not necessarily. You should move each muscle group at least 3 times per week to at least maintain what you have built. Cardio depends on how much fat you need to lose. The typical person should start with about 3 hours of cardio a week. This is a good safe amount of time to help you achieve a healthy weekly weight loss. That time can be adjusted as needed.
Shelby: Why do some people not see results after months of training?
Courtney: Such a good question and a hard one to answer. Typically this is caused by a number of things. 1.) Not working out enough 2.)not executing the exercises correctly to yield the benefit of building the right muscle groups 3.) not eating enough to fuel the workouts, or recover or rebuild the muscles 4.) lack of sleep and a significant increase in stress can kill you results in no time 5.) not lifting enough weight.
Shelby: So, tell us the secret behind a flat, toned stomach.
Courtney: I know you have heard this a 1000 times but here you go for 1001… Abs are made in the kitchen. Genetics and low body fat result in ab definition. You can do a million ab exercises but if you aren’t eating clean and losing the body fat, you unfortunately won’t see them peak through. For me, I have to be under 10% body fat to see a 6 pack. Meaning that’s a rare occasion for me, and I’m OK with that. Seriously focus on eating healthy and train hard, and you will see great results that you will be thrilled with! For someone who doesn’t have a tight core: focus on isolated abdominal movements and engaging your core when doing other exercises (low body exercises depends on tight and engaged abs). Keep you core tight and pulled in when executing your exercises. This way you are actually doing abs when doing other exercises… Multitasking at it’s best!
Shelby: See clean eating is getting you closer to flat abs! But seriously, this is why nutrition and exercise is key in being healthy and having the body you have always wanted, if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done, which may mean pushing yourself both physically and pushing yourself to eat healthy.
Shelby: Any suggestions for ladies trying to lose weight post baby? When did you start working out again after giving birth? Any challenges? Body changes?
Courtney: Stay motivated. It will come off. It took over 9 months to gain it, and it will probably take at least 9 more to get rid of it. Just remember that you did something so amazing. You body just created a miracle. It did one of the hardest jobs it will ever have to do… so give it time to recover. Don’t jump back in the gym too fast, because you might injure yourself. Your doctor will give you the green light. I started back just doing slow cardio at 3 weeks after and lifted light weights at 6 weeks post delivery. Check out this link for the challenge I overcame. Here is my article on my post baby weight loss journey.
Here’s my more in depth Tell All about losing the weight and raising Baby Shugs.
I currently have to watch out for my right hip flexor that I pulled during delivery – I continue to experience setbacks with my workouts regarding my hip flexor. I felt normal again about 9 months post baby, but now I am the strongest and sexiest I have ever felt. Sorry I just said that but it is so true.
Shelby: Don’t say you’re sorry! You should love your body, girl! You look INCREDIBLE and super sexy. You know my motto: When you got it flaunt it….and you got it!
Shelby: Do you specially prepare food for your daughter, Madison aka Baby Shugs? Or what do you feed her? Suggestions about starting your baby off right?
Courtney: I do. I just fed her homemade pureed foods instead of food from jars and pouches. I believe that breast milk is the best for your child. If you cannot breast feed then supplement or switch to formula. Provide foods that are age appropriate and have fun with it. You child will desire to be like you so show them what’s healthy. I eat healthy in front of Madison everyday, and she wants healthy foods in return. She has had just a tiny few bites of fast food. I know that won last forever, but I am confident that she will desire to make better eating choices. My husband and I make eating healthy a norm in our house and plus we moderately indulge which shows her that eating unhealthy once in awhile is ok too.
Shelby: You have definitely inspired me to do the same with my children when I become a mother, I want them to start off eating healthy and wanting healthy foods.
Shelby: What’s your favorite aspect of being a health and fitness blogger?
Courtney: Helping others help themselves. I get tagged in photos of people living their healthy lifestyles and receive messages from followers about how they felt about a specific post, etc. I read every one of them and start balling my eyes out. I am just a woman who has a desire to help others, and I am doing that. I said to my husband when I pressed published on my first blog post, “If I help just one person than I did what I sought out to do.” I believe I have accomplished that and more. Now it’s time to figure out where I should go next?!?
Shelby: That’s so great, Court, I’m so proud of you, you inspire, motivate and help so many people. Including myself. You made me want to get involved with nutrition and fitness! Thank you!
Shelby: How often do you work out personally?
Courtney: When I was losing the baby weight: I worked out an average of 1 1/2 hours per day about 5-6 days a week for 9 months. When I trained for my last bikini competition: I logged in about 2-3 hrs per day for 6 days a week for 16 weeks. Since this spring: I have worked out about 1 1/2 – 2 hours per day/6 days a week.
Shelby: If you had 1 or 2 overall tips for good health and fitness what would they be?
Courtney: You have to eat clean consistently and moderately indulge… and don’t forget to live life too. Exercise for more than the physical look… it’s vital for your health. We are not cats with 9 lives so take care of the one body you do have. Overall, lose weight and get healthy the right way. Don’t get discourage and give up. And don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end. We are all on different journeys… Remember where you started from and why you started in the first place.
Shelby: I love that you keep mentioning clean eating!
Shelby: Bikini competitions – scary and nerve racking or fun and exciting?
Courtney: You have to have equal parts determination and enjoyment. If you don’t stick to the plan then you won’t be happy with where you place. On the other hand you have to enjoy the process, because it’s a tough and challenging training. Training and eating clean is the whole process, competition is just one day of your life to showcase what you worked hard for. You have to be mentally prepared that you cannot maintain that look forever. Train hard and have fun doing it!!
Shelby: You bikini women amaze me. Strong is definitely the new skinny!
Shelby: Lastly, but not least, tell us about your blog, what can we expect to find there?
Courtney: You will see that I post once a week on everything between nutrition and fitness. You will find a recipe index that organizes the recipes I post. Most of them are my own and some I tweaked from other authors. You will find info on reputable websites on nutrition and fitness and info on events and charities. I am revamping and organizing my posts… so the Nutrition and Fitness tabs are sort of vacant. Sorry about that, but go to the search bar and type in a topic word. You will find results that match that word or search for the archives and view posts there also.