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5 Tips for Choosing the Right Nutrition Plan


Nutrtion Blog

When it comes to nutrition it is safe to say there are hundreds of different fad diets that are claiming big results in less time. Some of the latest fads include Paleo, Ketogenic Diet, The Whole 30, Atkins (is still holding strong), No Fat, No Carb, Low Carb, Cabbage Soup, I can go on… With all of these options how do we know which one is right and safe for us?

Over the years as a nutritionist I have learned the best nutrition program is a healthy, well-balanced, and sustainable one. As one expert  Michelle May, MD  and author of AM I Hungry?  explains,”It doesn’t matter how scientifically sound the program is (and many are not), how fast they work (you will regain as fast as you lost), or even how many people have tried it before. What matters is whether you can do what they say forever– not whether you should, but whether you can.” It’s one thing to pick a diet/nutrition plan and another to actually follow through with it. We have been eating a certain way most of our lives and have developed habits over the years that are hard to change. When starting a new plan we have to make some major changes to accommodate the healthier ones. With that being said what factors do we consider before choosing a nutrition plan?

Understand What is Healthy I can’t tell you how many times clients have sat in front of me and sworn they have been eating healthy and haven’t seen any changes in their weight. Let’s define healthy. According to merriam-webster healthy definition is free from disease or pain. So what does this have to do with the foods we eat? Honestly, everything. At this point we have a good understanding that fast food meals do not rate very high on the healthy scale while whole foods that you buy from the grocery store rate higher. We can also agree processed foods like baked goods and common junk foods and candy are considered unhealthy. Now that we can distinguish which foods fall into each category let’s take it a step further. In order to pick the right nutrition plan you should be looking for balance, one that includes all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These are important for our overall health and play vital roles. Let’s take carbohydrates, the poor group has a bad rap and is always being removed. First with Atkins then the South Beach diet and it continues with the Ketogenic diet and other low-carb plans. We have to understand carbohydrates are our energy source. The reason removing carbs was successful is because for every gram of carb there are 4 grams of water so we initially would lose water. Then after the weight fell off and people decided to go back to eating carbs they would re gain the weight. If we eat good quality carbs in the right amounts we can thrive and live a healthy lifestyle. Eliminating food groups or a macronutrient are not sustainable and potentially dangerous because they can cause nutrient imbalances. Another unhealthy way to diet is by restricting your calories too low. This can set you up for disaster by keeping you hungry and deprived. This can also lead to binge eating and set you back even further from your goals. Starvation diets never work and can also wreak havoc on your metabolism. Signs that a plan is unhealthy and not right for you include feeling hungry all day, moody, irritable, and not enjoying the foods you are eating. As I mentioned earlier a healthy balance is the key to longterm success.

Life-style Everyone is different. We come in different shapes, sizes, and live different lifestyles. So why wouldn’t we choose a plan that fits our lifestyle? A lot of my clients  are too busy to meal prep so I have to find creative ways to get them to eat healthy. For example, I have a teacher that is in class all day and drives for Uber most days of the week. He doesn’t have time to grocery shop let alone meal prep. The best he could do is eat on the go. This meant ordering what he thought was healthiest and even that was not the best.  After months of this way of eating and little to no results he finally committed to a meal prep and delivery service that prepared portioned and calorie fixed meals to his job. He continued to log his food during the first month and stuck with the meals. In the first month he lost 10 lbs. This happened because a. he used a company that took all of the guesswork out and b. he was consistent. Let’s not forget the food was healthy and sustainable. Another important factor was he said the meals were satisfying and didn’t taste bad. Let’s look at someone who has time to grocery shop and meal prep. One of the first things they need to decide is what kind of plan they should start. Is it healthy and can they do this long-term? How do they know what to eat? How many calories should they eat and will it help them reach their goals? Once they figure all this out they can create their weekly meals and grocery shop. Scheduling the time to do this helps keep them on track and even though it may seem like a lot of work once you get into a routine it becomes second nature. This brings me to my next tip…

Time and Budget Moms with time to spare are able to meal prep and be more successful with results than busy moms who work full-time jobs and have to run the kids around. Usually its the busy moms that gravitate to the Weightwatchers and Nutrisystem programs because there is less prep work involved. When looking for a plan we want to find one we have time for and fits our budget. If you have a family you cook for then batch cooking is a great way to get everyone to eat healthy and stay within budget. You wouldn’t order prepped meals for 5 people in your household considering that would get very expensive. Turn meal prepping into a family event, you not only get help from the kids you also get to spend more time together.

Is it Sustainable This tip tends to get looked over when trying to choose the right nutrition plan. Is it sustainable? In other words, will you be doing this plan for the long haul? First, let’s return to the reason why you needed a plan…  to help you reach your weight loss goals, right? Right! Okay, let’s fast forward to the part you’ve achieved your goals now what? Do you go back to your old eating habits? Do you completely stop using your plan? Of course not. This is where most people drop the ball. They think they can relax and slowly slide back into their old habits because the plan they have been using is not sustainable. If they completely cut out carbs or fats they will eventually return to eating them. That is why it is important to choose a healthy balanced plan.  But if we don’t know what that is or how to figure out how much of what foods to eat how are we suppose to find a plan that is right for us? One way is to go online and do some research. There are great resources and books that can guide and teach you how to eat and figure out how much to eat. If you don’t have time for that or just want someone to figure it all out for you then let’s move on to my final tip…

Talk to a Professional If you are unsure where to start or what options are out there the best step is to talk with a professional like myself. We can assess your body weight and advise you of any potential health risks that might result from not managing your weight properly. We can also help you set weight loss goals, diet guidelines, talk about fad diets, create a meal plan that is healthy and sustainable, and give advice on exercise. My job is to find the right nutrition plan for you. It’s my goal to educate and help you develop healthier eating habits that you can use long-term. I take all the guesswork out for you and help you find foods you enjoy and fit them into a sound program. Looking at your lifestyle also helps me understand what may or may not work for you. In a fast paced world we expect everything now and want results yesterday. Fad diets are temporary as are their results. Over the years I’ve learned not everyone is the same and require different approaches to their nutrition.

As you can see there are multiple factors to consider when choosing the right nutrition plan. When looking to lose weight we have gravitated to a quick fix fad diet that has left us feeling depleted and malnourished. With our health in mind we have to start looking for a more balanced and sustainable way to live through our eating and consider things like our lifestyle and budget before trying to take on a plan that may not fit our needs. In the end it can save you time and energy by going straight to the expert like a nutritionist that can help you choose the right plan.

If you are looking for online nutrition coaching Juliana is a certified personal trainer,  has a degree in  nutrition and has helped thousands of people with their fitness goals.

If you are looking for a jump start to your nutrition click the link below to get started on a Renew and Nourish plan that teaches you to eat healthier and make better choices. Each plan comes with a weekly meal plan, grocery list, and helps you remove foods that cause bloat and inflammation.

Click here to find a plan that fits your needs:

Contact Juliana for a consultation:

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Competition Rebound: It’s Real

Competition Rebound-2For many of us that have been competing for multiple years we have learned that post competition nutrition is an important thing to understand, especially if you do not want to torch everything you’ve worked so hard for the previous three to four months. I have seen hundreds of competitors just a couple of weeks post show and am baffled to see they gained anywhere from 5 to twenty pounds after watching them work so hard to get lean and ripped for a show. I understand after being on a restricted competition diet we want to eat everything in sight. For me, I am constantly looking at foods on Pinterest and saving recipes of foods I want to eat after my show.  We want what we can’t have and we definitely miss the foods that make us feel good.  Our mind loves to play tricks on us and it’s human nature to want what you can’t have and lord knows I want it all after a show. The problem is our body has been on a restricted plan for a long period of time and the moment you flood it with foods you haven’t eaten in months like dairy, high glycemic carbs, bad fats, and sugar from dessert and alcohol we put our body through an emotional roller coaster and flood it with chaos. We immediately go into carb overload and with every gram of carb comes 4 grams of water which causes us to bloat because we were depleted just days earlier. The ideal thing to do is take baby steps into regular eating. It took one time for me to learn that eating what I wanted post show was not the way to go. You would be surprised at how easy it is to lose that tight midsection and ripped body.  So before you start hoarding your favorite cookies and stocking up on every flavor of bluebell there are a few things to understand.

First, for the last few months you have been eating clean and your body has been working like a machine to get you to your goals.  Many of you have been eating a set number of carbs that your body has been using for energy and to fill out those hard earned gains.  When you eat more carbs than the body needs it is going to take the extra carbs and store them for later use.  But if you are use to eating 100-150 grams a day and eat a whole pizza, then your body is going to take the extra carbs and store as fat. Let’s not forget all the additional water that comes with the carbs, hence the post show eating bloat.  I recommend easing your way into eating more. After a show your body is depleted so a good cheat post show is fine. The disaster begins when we start an eating binge that continues into the week post show.

Second, I recommend getting back on your usual eating plan and slowly start adding calories by increasing portions or adding a few foods that you’ve kept away but are still good for you like a little fruit, yogurt, and healthy grains. Don’t completely stop eating your healthy meals. Balance is everything and understanding how many macros/calories you need to maintain your weight is important when planning your meals for the day. Remember, you still need to stay on track to keep your hard earned body fit. This is a good time to talk to your nutritionist about future goals.

Finally, take what you’ve learned from your competition prep and continue to grow. Now that you understand you have to be consistent with your nutrition to get the amazing results of a bodybuilder use that to continue reaching new goals. If your next goal is to add more muscle then start a plan you will follow consistently to reach that goal. Grocery shop, meal prep, take your supplements, track your progress, and most importantly build that physique you have pictured in your mind!

You are the only person that can get you to your goals and the only person that can keep you from them. It’s up to you.

To contact Juliana for competition prep or questions:

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Training on an Empty Stomach..Yay or Nay?


I am often asked if it is alright to train on an empty stomach. I think this is a common issue for anyone who needs to get to the gym early in the morning and eating a breakfast of solid foods such as eggs, veggies, and maybe some fruit before a 6am workout can be difficult, if not impossible, for many people. You’ll have to be up early to prepare breakfast, eat, allow adequate time for digestion and get to the gym for your training session. Even if you prepare food ahead of time, many people don’t have much of an appetite upon waking. Of course, this doesn’t just apply to people who train early in the morning. If you are coming to one of the evening workout sessions, it’s likely the last meal you had was lunch. 4 to 6 hours without food is enough to leave you in a partially fasted state which can negatively impact your ability to perform your best in the gym. Nonetheless, skipping meals isn’t a good idea and today I’ll discuss a few reasons why you should reconsider training on an empty tank.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who skipped breakfast before training had diminished insulin sensitivity as well as increased LDL cholesterol. Insulin sensitivity is important for proper nutrient uptake and long-term health as severely impaired insulin sensitivity can result in insulin resistance which is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. High LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis, hypertension, stroke, as well as other cardiovascular health issues.

In addition to improving your long-term health, your athletic performance and body composition can be greatly improved with proper pre- and post-workout nutrition. In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that subjects who consumed a protein shake before and after resistance exercise experienced greater gains in lean body mass and increased 1RM strength over those who did not.

Another recently published study found that consumption of whey or vegan protein before heavy resistance training actually resulted in an increase in resting energy expenditure the day after training. One group consumed protein only before their training sessions and the other group consumed an equivalent amount of only carbohydrates, the protein only group had significantly higher resting energy expenditures 24 hours after their training session.

Furthermore, the American College of Sports Medicine has presented research that suggests pre-workout protein intake can be even more effective for recovery than a post-workout protein shake alone. In other words, consuming a proper pre-workout meal can help increase your strength, improve recovery, as well as boost the amount of calories you burn at rest for up to a day after training which can help facilitate reduced body fat and improved body composition.

Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a placebo group had significantly higher levels of cortisol, myoglobin, and creatine phosphokinase (CPK) after exercise compared to those who consumed a protein and carbohydrate mixture. High blood levels of myoglobin and CPK are most commonly indicative of muscle damage. Once myoglobin is in the bloodstream, it needs to be filtered by the kidneys. In severe cases, this can result in a condition known as rhabdomyolysis which can lead to acute kidney failure. This suggests that consuming some protein and carbohydrate prior to your training session can reduce the amount of muscle damage caused by intense exercise. As a result, this will allow for more intense training sessions and less recovery time needed between training days.

If you find yourself heading to training sessions on an empty stomach, I recommend consuming either a solid pre-workout meal of protein and carbohydrates 30 to 60 minutes prior to your workout or a protein shake 15 to 30 minutes prior. If you prefer training in a fasted state, I still recommend consuming some quality protein as soon as possible after your workout in order to improve recovery. An easy way to get pre- and post-workout meals is to simply drink half a protein shake before you train and the remainder immediately after. Keep in mind, pre-workout supplementation can be highly variable between people so I recommend experimenting to see what works best for you. Combined with a good nutritional plan, you’ll recover faster, get stronger, and be leaner. 

If you need a high quality protein I recommend the following:

Vegan Protein Powder

  • Vegan All in One formula that’s dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free & non-GMO
  • Flavored & sweetened using only naturally derived ingredients
  • 20 servings per container


Collagen Peptides Protein Chocolate

  • Collagen Peptides from grass-fed cows
  • Supports healthy skin, joints, hair & digestive system
  • Flavored & sweetened using only naturally derived ingredients
  • Per serving: 80 Calories, 19g Protein, 1g Carbs (Vanilla) / 2g Carbs (Chocolate), 0g Fat
  • 30 servings per container


Whey Isolate Protein

  • Ultra-filtered, low-lactose, non-GMO Whey Isolate Protein
  • Supports muscle repair, lean body mass & antioxidant capacity
  • Flavored & sweetened using only naturally derived ingredients
  • Per serving: 110 Calories, 25g Protein, 1g Carbs (Vanilla) / 2g Carbs (Chocolate), =1g Fat
  • 30 servings per container



Juliana Halloran

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Supplements…Who to Trust

The supplement industry has grown in the last twenty years.  With new products being introduced in the market no one can keep count.  When someone asks me what I would recommend for a multivitamin I only talk about what I have personally taken and what has worked for me. Currently, I am taking a high-performance vitamin that has made a positive impact on my daily performance.

Dietary supplements are required to have a Supplements Facts panel and I generally trust what is on that panel.  Then looking towards the bottom of that label it clearly states, ‘These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration’.  Should I be worried?  To be honest with you, I would feel a lot better if the FDA approved it.  I know that if everything were to stop and a new law implemented the FDA to approve all vitamins, herbs, and supplements to be tested for validity, quality, and compliance, we would see a lot of companies go out of business and larger companies take over the industry.  This would be followed with the larger companies trying to gain control of people in Congress that make the laws behind these regulations and it will start mirroring the meat and poultry industry. 

Currently, the FDA does have regulations that monitor the supplement industry like the labels.  “FDA regulations require that certain information appears on dietary supplement labels” (FDA, 2009).  Claims about the product must be accurate and truthful, “This statement or “disclaimer” is required by law (DSHEA) when a manufacturer makes a structure/function claim on a dietary supplement label (FDA, 2009).  For the most part, the FDA does play a role in the supplement industry, but it isn’t until a product harms enough people that the FDA takes action to remove the ingredient or the product. 

Overall, I would like to see supplements that have stimulants be approved while vitamins and herbs that work alone or together to meet deficiencies for optimal health continue being produced and marketed as is. 

If a product is meant to treat you then the pharmacies already have a hold on it and they can go through protocol necessary for a drug.  Besides, we find vitamins like A and C in our foods and I definitely don’t want to get a prescription for that.

If you are looking to improve your nutrition please contact Juliana at


No author, FDA U.S Food and Drug Administration (Oct 14 2009)“Overview of Dietary Supplements”. Retrieved on April 1, 2011 from website:

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Tips for Successful Goal Setting and Mastery


Goal setting is an incredibly important task but is not widely used. Goal setting is incredibly effective and can provide clarity and focus not only for the future, but also for the present. The process provides structure and direction when working towards a stated purpose. Goal setting also provides motivation and can help you organize your time and resources so that you can make the most of your efforts. I recently read this statement on a blog and thought it reflected the true essence of goal setting: “Set goals that yield a positive effect on your life whenever you think about them, long before the final outcome is actually achieved. Treat goal-setting as a way to enhance your present reality, not as a way to control the future.” 

Here are six steps that have helped me not only identify and set my goals, but also accomplish my goals! There is nothing better than setting a goal, having perseverance to stay on track and finally accomplishing it. Okay, here are my six steps: 

1. Identify what your values are. This is important because you need to make sure your goal is in line with your values. Identify your core priorities and make sure your goal doesn’t detract from your overall values. Instead, your goal should support your values and work in harmony with them. 

2. Identify what it is that you really want. Be very specific; don’t leave any room for questioning later down the road. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. Once you identify what it is that you really want (this can be a challenge within itself), then set your goal. 

3. Write your goal down and share it with a loved one. Make your goal visible so that you can have daily reminders to stay focused. This is very helpful because when you don’t write a goal down, it tends to become obtuse. The goal suddenly shifts depending on your circumstances at the time, gets pushed to the side if it is inconvenient and can change from its original purpose. If your goal is written down and shared with someone then you can be held accountable for your goal. Your goal now becomes real and not just an idea that never comes to fruition. 

4. Be precise when setting your goal. Give your goal a deadline and give your goal dates, amounts, times, etc. so that you can measure your progress. 

5. Identify how you are going to accomplish your goal. This is important. Anyone can set a goal but not everyone can accomplish a goal. You must identify how you are going to reach your goal. Are you not drinking alcohol for the next 30 days? Then 

write out how you will stay on track for those 30 days (don’t go to certain restaurants where it is tempting to drink, prepare a polite reply to decline alcohol when it is offered, etc.) Anticipate any roadblocks that may come along and find ways to overcome those roadblocks. 

6. Build a support group. It is crucial to have support when you are trying to achieve something that takes perseverance, dedication and determination. Your support group should be made up of people who have your best interest at heart. They can help motivate you and provide encouragement along your journey to success. They also provide needed accountability. Identify those who detract from your stated goal and try to eliminate their influence as much as possible. 

These six steps have helped me set attainable goals and will hopefully get you started on your own journey to goal setting. Here are a few resources that have been helpful when setting goals: 

  • • – LuluLemon has a great blog on goal setting and even has a goal setting sheet that you can download. Check out their site and related blog posts. 
  • • – This site has you set a goal, create an action plan and allows you to invite friends to monitor your progress. 

Happy goal setting! Juliana

For easy to follow programs check out my library:

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5 Ways to Measure Body Composition

What’s the Best Way to Measure Body Composition?

Are you overweight, skinny-fat or just curious about your lean body mass percentage? In physical fitness, body composition is used to describe the percentages of fat, bone, water, and muscle in human bodies. Because muscular tissue takes up less space in our body than fat tissue, our body composition, as well as our weight, determines leanness. Here are 5 common ways to measure – some old and some newer – where you are along with the pros and cons.

Old PARADIGM – Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. It can be mistaken for a marker of health…it’s widely recognized and easy to figure out. It’s not my first choice for measuring body fat and lean mass but still used by many physicians to measure health.

  • Enter your weight and height using standard or metric measures.
  • An indicator of Body Composition, not a precise measure of body fat.

How reliable is BMI?

BMI is determined by dividing a person’s weight in pounds (lbs) by their height in inches (in), squared and then multiplied by 703.

The formula:
BMI = weight / [height (in inches)]2 x 703

Some Problems with BMI

You’ll notice this formula doesn’t take age or gender into consideration. It also doesn’t account for the amount of muscle mass an individual may have; many athletes with a large percentage of muscle mass may measure a high BMI even though they do not have excessive amounts of body fat. Women tend to have more body fat than men (reality). Older people tend to carry more body fat than younger people. Athletes have higher BMI because of increased muscularity.

What does a high BMI mean?

A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy, a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. If you score a BMI of 25 or above means you are at a much higher risk of suffering from a whole host of diseases including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer (breast, colorectal, endometrial and kidney)

However, this testing method isn’t the best way to know if it’s time to lose weight and can actually be wrong if you’re someone who works out regularly or is older in age.

New Paradigm – Body Composition

Thankfully, there are a few better ways to help us understand a little more on how the weight of our body is broken down. Body composition, which is the measure of fat mass to lean tissue (including bone, muscle, ligaments, tendons, and organs), is an important metric that often gets overlooked.

There are dozens of methods to measure body composition, ranging from the quick and (relatively) painless to the incredibly detailed. These measurement techniques can help individuals set baseline values for body composition and goals for later on down the line.

However, with the variation in methods comes a fluctuation in accuracy. One method might nail down your percentage of body fat to within a few decimals, while others leave a wider range of error.

Here are the top five methods for measuring body composition along with the pros and cons of each.

Different Types of Body Composition Measurements

1. Skin Caliper

The most accessible method for measuring body composition, a skinfold assessment can be done using either three, four or seven sites (meaning parts of the body). The technician pinches the skin and then uses the skin caliper device to measure the thickness of the skin fold for each site. After plugging the numbers into a formula, practitioners can estimate body composition.

Pros of the Skin Caliper Test:

Calipers are relatively inexpensive (about $10 per pair). This test is the most easily accessible of all the methods listed here. A proper skinfold assessment can be completed in just a matter of minutes, anytime or place.

Cons of the Skin Caliper Test:

Body fat distribution can factor into the accuracy. Although the test takes a measurement from each main area of the body (including the upper body, midsection and lower body), a participant that holds greater amounts of fat outside of the measured areas might end up with a lower reading. Human error is a factor, depending on the experience and knowledge of the technician and consistency with calipers takes practice, so the key is to practice a lot — or find an expert technician. The most important thing is to use the exact same spots every time. Results can vary depending on the number of sites being measured. In my own experience using the 9 site assessment takes in the most information for a more accurate result.

2. Bioelectrical Impedance

Don’t let the name scare you; users won’t even feel a thing. Bioelectrical impedance scales range from the simple (a normal scale with electrodes under each foot – probably most common and accessible) to the complex (a scale that has handholds with additional electrodes).

Both devices work by sending tiny electrical impulses through the body and measuring how quickly those impulses return. Since lean tissue conducts electrical impulses quicker than fatty tissue, a faster response time is correlated with a leaner physique.

Pros of Bioelectrical Impedance:

Bioelectrical impedance monitors tend to be affordable enough to keep one around the house. Since this technique requires little more than pressing a button, users need little to no previous practice, and measurements can be done in a matter of seconds.

Cons of Bioelectrical Impedance:

Bioelectrical impedance measurements are generally less accurate than other methods. Readings can be greatly affected by variables like hydration levels (since water also conducts electrical impulses), mealtimes (a recent meal can skew results), and workouts (taking a reading directly after exercise leads to a lower body fat reading). For the most consistent reading, take readings at similar times during the day in the same conditions.

3. Hydrostatic Weighing

If the thought of getting dunked underwater suits your fancy, this might be the method for you. Hydrostatic weighing, commonly referred to as underwater weighing, compares a subject’s normal body weight (outside the water) to their body weight while completely submerged. Using these two numbers and the density of the water can accurately nail down the subject’s density. This number is then used to estimate body composition.

Hydrostatic weighing was touted as the gold standard for many years, however, hydrostatic weighing is not able to account for bone density. As a result, hydrostatic tests tend to underestimate body fat in athletic individuals with high bone density and overestimate in older adults who have low bone density. These tests can provide a lot of useful data but many of our clients aren’t sure how to make use of the information.

Pros of Hydrostatic Weighing:

Hydrostatic weighing is an incredibly accurate technique for measuring body composition. The technique uses tried and true variables that feature a low percentage of error.

Cons of Hydrostatic Weighing:

You’re going to have to find a lab or a performance center that offers hydrostatic weighing, which can be a bit inconvenient and more expensive (ranging from $40 to $60) compared to other techniques. Subjects also have to forcefully exhale as much air out of their lungs as possible (to reduce the potential for error) and sit submerged completely underwater, which might be uncomfortable for some individuals.

4. DEXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry)

Body fat testing is a great way to have an accurate metric for your body composition. There are many ways of getting your body fat tested, but most experts will agree that the DEXA (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scan is the most accurate testing technology available.

Think X-rays were just for broken bones? A DEXA scan exposes patients to X-ray beams of differing intensities and can be used to measure bone mineral density alongside body composition. Participants lie still on a table while a mechanical arm passes over their entire body, which emits a high- and a low-energy X-ray beam. By measuring the absorption of each beam into parts of the body, technicians can get readings for bone mineral density, lean body mass, and fat mass. And since the machine scans body parts individually, the test can also break down body composition per limb so you can confirm your suspicions that your right leg is indeed just a bit stronger than your left.

Pros of DEXA:

DEXA scans are incredibly accurate at measuring body composition. A DEXA scan is quick, dry and painless, involving simply lying on a table for a few minutes. DEXA has surpassed hydrostatic weighing as the gold standard and is being utilized as the criterion measure in clinical research more so than underwater weighing (hydrostatic).

Cons of DEXA:

Getting a DEXA scan usually involves making an appointment with a medical professional. The high level of accuracy also comes at a relatively high price tag compared to other methods, which will vary based on location.

5. Air-Displacement Plethysmography (BOD Pod)

Air-displacement plethysmography is actually very similar to underwater weighing. First, participants sit in a small machine; then, by measuring how much air is displaced by the individual, technicians can determine body density. Like underwater weighing, the participant’s body density is then used to calculate body composition.

Pros of Air-Displacement Plethysmography:

Since the air-displacement plethysmography method doesn’t involve dunking your head underwater for an extended period of time, many subjects will find it more comfortable. The shape and size of the machine used in this technique, which typically resembles an egg, make it accommodating for persons of almost any age, shape and size.

Cons of Air-Displacement Plethysmography:

Like hydrostatic weighing and DEXA scans, air-displacement plethysmography won’t likely be found in your neighborhood gym. While commercial machines might pop up at select high-level training facilities, locating one near you might be difficult. Plus, the cost (between $45 and $60 per reading) might steer you in the other direction.

Regardless of which method you choose, you should wait at least six to eight weeks before re-measuring body fat percentage and use the same method. Find a method that works for you and stick with it. Though bioelectrical impedance and skin calipers tend to be slightly less accurate than more high-tech methods like underwater weighing, they can still be an incredibly useful tool if you just want to track your loss (fat) and gains (muscle).

And remember, body composition should be just one metric on the road to health and fitness (alongside others like sleep quality, energy levels, and happiness) — not the entire focus of your training.

How to Interpret Your Body Composition Results

Most people are rarely excited with their baseline body fat test. Keep in mind that your body fat percentage should be viewed as a metric in the same way that your total cholesterol or liver enzyme values are metrics of your health. It’s a data point we can track over time… not a measure of your self-worth.

This is where you start to take a look at things such as – lifestyle, diet, supplements, medications, aging, and other factors can begin to affect your health.

Most people have a body composition goal, it can also be useful to have this data point tested again to validate whatever training and nutrition strategy you may be using. However, when it comes to aesthetics, I’d argue how you look and feel is probably far more important than a number on a sheet of paper.

That being said, most people want to know more about where they stand and there are various sources for helping you interpret body fat percentages. One of the most commonly referenced charts is from the American Council on Exercise. You’ve probably seen this as a poster or laminated card on a personal trainer’s desk at your local gym.

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You’ll notice that women will have a higher body fat percentage at any level compared to men due to biological differences. While the ACE chart is an easy quick reference, it doesn’t account for age and the use of the word “obese” may be a bit extreme in some cases.

Another useful chart is sourced from the research of Dr. Andrew Jackson and M.L. Pollock. Many personal training professionals prefer this chart over the ACE chart as it accounts for both gender differences AND age differences. Simply find your age category in the left-hand column of your respective gender, and then look across to see where you fall in your age group.

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1.Body fat charts provided by
2. Data provided courtesy of AccuFitness, LLC

Body fat percentage is only one metric that people tend to fixate on when setting their fitness goals. It also provides another very important number: lean body mass (LBM). Your LBM is simply your body fat subtracted from your total body weight. LBM includes organs, bones, muscle, and everything else in your body besides body fat. Typically, changes in LBM are primarily from increases or decreases in muscle mass. Changes in bone density can affect your LBM as well, however, a DEXA scan will be able to differentiate between the two. Usually, this is listed as Bone Mineral Content (BMC) on a DEXA report. It’s important to note that when viewing a DEXA report, LBM is calculated by adding the “Lean Tissue” and “BMC” measurements together. A hydrostatic test will give you LBM and body fat only.

If your goal is to get leaner, you need to decrease your body fat percentage while maintaining (or increasing) your LBM. It’s important to keep an eye on both numbers as you work towards your goal. Your LBM is also very useful for helping us calculate your daily nutritional requirements.

Things to Consider when Looking at Body Composition Numbers

Body Fat vs Body Muscle

You may have heard the phrase, “Muscle weighs more than fat.” But how true is that? Well, common sense tells us a pound of muscle and a pound of fat have to weigh the same; however, they do differ when it comes to density. This means if you look at five pounds of muscle and five pounds of fat side by side on a table, the fat will take up more volume, or space, than the muscle.

The same holds true with your body; you may look noticeably leaner due to fat loss, but when you add in muscle gain, the weight on the scale could be up five or maybe even ten pounds more than it was before. Most scales can’t tell the difference between what’s fat and what’s muscle, so that added weight could be muscle that you’ve worked so hard to obtain!

If you look and feel leaner but your weight is up on the scale, then a body fat percentage testing method may be a better choice for those who like to set milestone numbers for body composition goals.

You Are Not Defined by a Number

You’ve probably seen this phrase posted on someone’s Facebook or Instagram at some point, as it has become a popular motivational phrase in the fitness community. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, however.

Ask yourselves – at the end of the day, which is more important: how you look, feel and perform, or what the cold-hearted scale tells you whenever you step on it? If you look and feel like a lean, mean beastmode machine, it shouldn’t really matter if you’ve gained a few pounds in the process.  If you’re healthy and you look good, don’t put too much stock in what the scale is telling you.

Obsession Can be a Slippery Slope

It’s no surprise that eating disorders and obsession about our weight have become commonplace in America; almost 30 million Americans (of all ages and genders) suffer from some type of eating disorder [2].

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who weighs themselves is obsessed or will become obsessed at some point; I can only speak from personal experience. There was a time when I wrote down and recorded every single thing that I ate and drank; I also would weigh myself 2-3 times a day. I did both of these things every single day for months at a time; and when I decided I needed a mental break from all of that dedication, I found it to be actually quite hard for me to stop, as weighing myself became a habit – an obsession – that was very hard to break.

For those of you who weigh themselves on a regular basis, I challenge you to hide your scale away and not weigh yourself for seven days. If it’s too difficult of a challenge and you find yourself unable to break the habit, it may be time to set some new goals and create some new habits that will help you towards your goals versus stressing you out about them.

SUGGESTION – weighing yourself only once a week, same time, same place – consistency. Stick to one source.

Bonus Reason just for Females: Hormones

Yes, this reason needs just one word to sum it up. Hormones play a big role in wreaking havoc on the scale for women, even causing their weight to fluctuate from day to day, depending on your time of the month. You may not feel bloated, but you could be retaining fluids. Studies have shown that women hit a peak day of fluid retention at the start of their menstrual cycle, with some women retaining fluids the days leading up the cycle. So if it’s close to your time of the month, don’t put too much stock on what you see on the scale

Remember What’s Important

We all want to be healthy, look great and perform our best in life, both inside and outside of the gym. Obsessing about the weight on a scale can actually get in the way of your body composition goals. If your current goal is weight loss and you constantly find yourself in the scenario described at the beginning of this blog, it may be time for some new goals that don’t revolve around the scale, such as dropping a pants/dress size or using a tape measure instead of the scale to keep track of your growing biceps.

And remember, at the end of the day, your weight is just a number showing the “amount of downward force gravity is exerting upon you” and nothing more.

If you are looking for an online fitness and nutrition coach you can e mail me at

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High Intensity Interval Training: It’s Not a Fad


If you’re anything like me you don’t like spending hours in the gym. You go in, work, then leave. But in this case the work isn’t time consuming. People think you have to lift for long hours to see results. If you’re trying to make serious gains and change your physique like a bodybuilder then of course that takes time and a detailed plan. If you are trying to get a sweat session in while trying to tighten up your body then this style of training is a great go to for fast and effective training.

High intensity interval training or HIIT  isn’t as new as some may think. It’s recent popularity comes from its potential of delivering an efficient and effective way to burn more fat throughout the day. HIIT can be approached in different ways but the formula remains the same. The goal is to alternate short intervals of high intensity exercise with short intervals of recovery. For example, you could do 60 seconds of running followed by 30 seconds of walking and repeat for an x amount of sets. This can also be done with body weight exercises like squats, doing the movement with best form for 30 seconds then resting for 15 seconds. The goal is to push yourself as hard as you can during the work phase. This allows you to elevate your heart rate in short intervals. Not only will this improve your cardiovascular training, you will also burn more fat due to higher levels of excess post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. This is also known as the afterburn and since you are constantly putting your body in the red zone it has to work harder to return to its resting state. It’s important you keep the bursts short while using intense workouts.

You have to commit to this style of training  because it is meant to be hard and requires a great deal of work to sustain the level of fitness required to succeed. I’ve been using HIIT in my workouts for years with my cardio and strength training. There are thousands of ways to create a HIIT workout. One of my favorites are EMOM’s, every minute on the minute. You take one exercise and do required reps then repeat at the start of each minute. For example: EMOM 12 burpees 10 minutes. Set a running timer, you have 60 seconds to do 12 burpees then whatever time remains you rest till next minute starts. Let’s say it takes you 40 seconds to do 12 burpees then you rest last 20 seconds. This continues for 10 minutes and after the 4th round your rest time starts to close in on you. This generates bursts of power followed by short rest. It’s effective and you don’t have to join a gym to do it. Bodyweight exercises and a couple pairs of dumb bells are perfect.

Deciding to change is the biggest step, once you have the right mindset everything else falls into place. HIIT gives you the edge you need to change and the workouts are never boring. I provided a sample workout to get you started. You can throw this into your regular workout routine or use it as your base. Either way it will challenge you and create change. For more great training info visit You can also follow me @feistyfitness_ifbbpro



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My Early Sessions

don't think, do.

The first thing I do when I wake up at 3:40 a.m. is put on my workout gear. I work 14 miles north of the city of Chicago and take public transportation to work. Lucky for me I work at a gym and since I start work at 6 a.m. I get there early to do my fasted cardio. This past year when I was preparing for the Chicago Pro I had this routine for several months and got into a rhythm of doing it and feeling good afterwards. I felt wide awake and had more energy for the day. I would do the stairclimber and get into a rhythm of side steps and changed it up to every other step with a glute extension. I do intervals and switch the level 16 for 1 minute and levels 7-8 for 3 minutes. This would go on for 40-45 minutes and by the end I’d be drenched with sweat and felt accomplished. I also noticed that I interacted more positively with my clients and members when I did my early cardio sessions and that is why I continue to get to the gym early to maintain this routine. It’s important to feel good and in a positive mindset when working, it allows for a more productive and beneficial day.

I realize we all can’t get to the gym early in the morning and many of you do not work in a gym like I do but when you find the time to do what is important to you it can be exhilarating. Do what you love and love what you do. After my cardio I shower and get ready for work and then eat the breakfast I pre made the night before. I also pre make my snacks and lunch for work. They are usually the same meals every day. I keep it consistent and that is what keeps me healthy and in shape. We have to plan ahead and prepare to reach our goals. Every move we make is either a step back or a step forward. I realized a long time ago that I never want to move backwards and have always looked at every decision as an opportunity to improve. It’s as easy as sitting down and writing down what you want. We all have goals and should never be afraid to dream big. Ten years ago I had a dream to change my body enough to compete with other Pro’s in the IFBB and over time I made it happen.

What do you want? Whatever it is, write it down and put it where you can see it everyday. Make a plan to accomplish it and start right away! I believe if you visualize yourself as having what you want, then you will soon have it.

If you are looking for fitness or nutritional consulting you can contact Juliana at

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It’s All Mental

Today I started thinking about a comment a member said to me last week. “You’ve got it so easy, you already look amazing.” Although she didn’t intend to make me feel I’d been slapped in the face I still felt the heat on my cheek lingering. Does she honestly believe ‘this’ is easy? Sorry sister, you don’t get to give me a compliment I didn’t even ask for, especially a back handed one. I work for THIS, I workout, for THIS, I eat for THIS, I supplement for THIS, I recover for THIS, I drink a lot of water for THIS, I do cardio for THIS, shall I continue??

Every morning I visualize how my day is going to go and what I want to accomplish.  As a body builder I plan every meal, workout, cardio session, supplement intake, and getting in my gallon of water. A routine I have been perfecting for 10 years and every year I find new ways to improve my strategy of prepping and training to conquer the body I want.  But you don’t have to compete to get the body you want. I compete because it holds me accountable and I look forward to the discipline, consistency, and development of my training along with helping others learn to live a healthier lifestyle.

The will power it takes to accomplish my goals is not easy.  Some days are tougher than others but I know I can do it.  When anyone sets a goal to lose weight, change their body, eat healthier, begin a workout routine, run a marathon, it all starts with the power to decide. You don’t start losing weight or adding muscle because it’s the in thing to do. You do it because something intrinsic has been stirring up inside of you and is ready to express its reality through your body. For some, they believe doing cardio and weight training is enough but do not give nutrition much effort. They aren’t ready for real change and continue doing the same bad habits with little effort to improve their daily eating. You have to be all in to feel and see change. In other words, going from 1-2 meals a day to 3 meals a day is nothing to get excited about if it’s still unhealthy/crappy food. If you are going to add a 3rd meal then make all 3 healthier and part of your plan to a healthier you. Our bodies are complex but when you find the formula that works it becomes easier.

It’s when we give up that we fall short of our accomplishments. You have to see it through til the end. Have patience and stay consistent.

Juliana Halloran

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Gluten Free: Fad, or for Real??


This week I am going to talk to you about gluten and living a gluten free lifestyle. I’m going to introduce the basics of a gluten-free diet and introduce you to foods that are nutritious and better for you than gluten filled foods.

First, let’s go over what gluten actually is. I’m sure you’ve heard the term gluten-free being thrown around, how some people think it’s nonsense, or like me,  live by. Let me be clear, I am not 100% gluten free. I still indulge here and there in the occasional baked good if it’s not of the gluten-free variety. Gluten is actually a mixture of proteins that are found in wheat, barley, and rye. What does that mean exactly??? It means it’s found in everyday foods like breads, most pastries, pasta, cookies, crackers, croutons, boxed foods, cereal, and pizza. They’re also found in not so obvious products like licorice and in natural flavorings. There is a part of the population that have to eat gluten-free if they have been diagnosed with celiac disease. For others, eating gluten free is a choice. There’s a huge mis-education on eating gluten-free and living the lifestyle. It’s not just about your diet, it’s about gaining control of your health.

Eating gluten comes with different symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, depression, headaches, irritability, and other issues going on with your gut. When you eat wheat filled products the symptoms tend to stay with you from day to day because gluten can be found an many of our foods. Gluten is known as an inflammatory food and when our body rejects a food it has a not so friendly way of telling you to stop eating it like having gas, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and bloating. You know, the basic I don’t want to leave my house symptoms due to the lack of control of my bowels. Well, then why do we eat food that has gluten???

Because no one really knew that foods containing this had such a negative effect. In fact, humans don’t fully digest wheat. Wheat has not been around very long and our digestive systems have not evolved to digest it well. In other words, we aren’t met to eat it therefore we reject it.

So what do we do??

We start removing the foods that contain gluten. This can be hard at first. When you stop and look at everything you eat you will notice it’s in a lot of your daily foods. As I mentioned earlier it’s found in our every day foods that have become staples.

So the next question is what do we do? This week I want you to make an effort to start removing wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is also found in preservatives like MSG and in natural flavorings but for now let’s start with the basics. If you tend to eat bread every day for breakfast then replace your usual bread with a gluten-free bread. If you tend to cook with pasta try replacing it with rice or quinoa or better yet get a gluten-free pasta you can use. When you start removing the wheat the symptoms will start to go away. Trying to remove gluten is not an easy task so take it day by day meal by meal and make sure you’re more conscious of what’s going into your body.

Grains (including bread, pasta, rice, crackers), specifically whole grains, are an important part of a healthy diet. Whole grains are a good source of healthy carbohydrates, providing energy to get you through the day. Most whole grains are high in fiber, which keeps you full and helps with digestion. Though many grains have gluten, a wide variety are naturally gluten-free.

Naturally Gluten-Free Grains & Starches:

• Rice
• Quinoa
• Millet
• Oats: But be aware that oats may be processed in a facility that also processes wheat. You’ll need to confirm your oats are labeled gluten-free or check with the manufacturer to rule out cross-contamination.
• Cassava/Yuca
• Sorghum
• Teff
• Corn
• Buckwheat
• Amaranth
• Potatoes and potato flour

What to Avoid When Shopping for Grains:

If you’re not sure if your bread, crackers, pasta and other grain-based products are gluten-free, a quick look through the ingredients can help you tell. Avoid products that contain any of the following, as these are NOT gluten-free.

• Wheat
• Other forms/varieties of wheat that should also be avoided: whole wheat, spelt, wheat berries, kamut, durum, farro, farina, bulgur, graham, semolina, bromated flour • Barley
• Rye
• Triticale (a cross between rye and wheat)
• Malt

Finally, if you’re not already keeping a journal then start. This helps you keep track of symptoms. Keep a journal and also when you start removing it more and find one day that you do eat it right down any symptoms that you get that day and notice how your body reacts when you eat gluten and when you don’t. Eating healthy is a lifestyle and something that should be practiced daily. When I decided to start eating gluten-free I noticed a big difference in my body composition and the way I felt. Now if I do decide to have bread or pizza or pastries made with regular wheat I definitely get the symptoms and they remind me of why I no longer put it in my body.

Eating clean and making healthier choices isn’t a fad, it’s a lifestyle.

If you are serious about reaching your fitness and nutrition potential schedule a consultation with me  via e-mail at

Juliana Halloran


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Resilience is bouncing back or adapting from difficult experiences. While Resilience can be learned and developed it takes action and self awareness to build it up. So, this is what I know… A lot of us set goals and many times we fail to follow through due to some unexpected event that steers us off our plan.

I know that we have all found ourselves in a situation where we were happily following a plan of getting fitter and healthier and then something happens like one of the kids get sick or maybe we got sick or there was a big emergency at work and it threw us off of our schedule. Or even worse, a separation occurred, a death in the family or maybe even a natural disaster like a hurricane rerouted your normal life. I know I’ve been there but instead of living in self defeat there are ways we can actually build our resilience so that we are stronger and adapt to whatever life throws our way. I’m not saying it’s easy, or it will happen over night but I do know from experience that you can start building your resilience by doing the following things I’m going to share.

The first one is to make connections. When you participate in civic groups, faith based organizations or other groups that provide social support it can help you reclaim hope and strengthen your resilience. Many of us turn to family or friends but sometimes you need a little more help getting through some of life’s tough situations.

Second is to avoid viewing problems as impossible. I understand that we respond to stress in a reactive way and think the worst but take a pause and be aware of the situation. In that moment remind yourself nothing is impossible and proceed with an open mind. Look for the little things that can help you feel better. Try not to fall into a negative zone and choose positive thoughts to help you have faith.

Third, take clear actions. It’s important that you act on difficult situations as much as you can. Taking positive actions rather than detaching completely from your problems and wishing they would just go away is a better approach.

Fourth, move towards your goals. Reassess and develop realistic goals and try to go back to your regular schedule. Every small success helps you regain confidence and move toward your final destination. Consistency is key and remember to celebrate the small wins.

Number five, maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic attitude enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Visualize what you want rather than worrying about what you fear. I know that’s easier said than done so it’s important that you keep a journal and write down what your hopeful for and visualize it in your mind.

Finally, the sixth thing to becoming more resilient is to take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. It’s important that you participate in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing like your meditation, enjoying time for you and doing the things that you love. Taking care of yourself helps keep your mind and body prepared to deal with stressful situations.

With all the chaos going on around us we have to prepare mentally for what’s to come. We can only come out stronger if we remember to practice what I’ve taught you here today. #getfeisty