by Ashley Black
FOOD, FITNESS, FASCIA, FREEDOM
To learn a little bit more about me and the Ashley Black experience before you read this blog, you can read my backstory. My personal journey will help explain the passion I have for helping my clients and YOU to become the best physical version of yourself possible. I used to be limited to one-on-one sessions with professional athletes, celebrities, and patients in a clinical setting, so I am so excited to broaden my reach and share this knowledge with those of you in my social media network!
Everyone wants to know the secret to LOSING BODY FAT as if it is some hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. We try all kinds of fad diets, cleanses, crazy workouts, extreme fasting, and gimmicky pills. Yet the answer is much more simple than all that — just Get F’d: FOOD, FITNESS, FASCIA, and FREEDOM!
The age-old facts still ring true: you need proper diet (FOOD) and proper exercise (FITNESS). I mentioned the word proper twice because, in general, my clients have had IMPROPER information and in some cases, conflicting diet and exercise programs. I have also added the virtually unknown factor inhibiting people from having the body they’ve only dreamed of — FASCIA! The mental component of FREEDOM is equally important; knowing that you are doing the scientific things and feeling confident that, beyond any shadow of a doubt, this WILL work for you. Get ready to Get F’d: FOOD, FITNESS, FASCIA, and FREEDOM! I will take a lot of complex information, condense it, and make it understandable and practical! So, let’s get started!
I think where people go wrong is they first think of dieting as depleting food supply, when it’s really METABOLISM FUELING. I have also found people tend to see exercise as some kind of hardcore, intense training program when it is really SIMPLE CARDIO. I’ve found only a small percentage of people have ever heard of FASCIA, and to me, that’s like saying “I’ve never heard of blood, skin or nerves… what’s that?” Many times, even with the most seasoned FITNESS professionals, FASCIA problems end up binding the skin, muscle, blood, and nerves and causing pain, inflammation, and inhibiting function. All of these symptoms of unhealthy fascia will LIMIT the success of even the best diet and exercise programs.
Last but not least, we must free ourselves from doubt! This program works for EVERYONE and it is simply a matter of BELIEF AND CONSISTENCY. Wanna know the REAL SECRET? It’s EASY! We are going to do this together, and I am going to guide you every step of the way. All you need to know is exactly what to do when it is time to Get F’d!
Although I go into deep science when working with personal clients, I can give you some basic rules of thumb that will make your results crazy fast and EASY. Just know that I am consolidating and making some generalizations to give you the basics so you can get STARTED and get RESULTS FAST. So don’t comment and send me the “super science” of nutrition! I am not a nutritionist, nor do I claim to be. Much of what I have learned on the nutrition front is from my good friend, Mr. Keith Klein. You can check out some great info on his website.
The fitness, fascia, and freedom are ALL me, from over 20 years experience as a fitness enthusiast as well as a Hybrid Health practitioner. My blog comes from the perspective of a 40+-year-old mother of 3, bone-eating staph infection survivor, hip replacement recipient, and now the founder and pioneer of all things FASCIA. I’m just a woman who likes to push my own body to the limits and help others have the health they never thought possible! I’ve dedicated over 2 decades into the world of “Orthopedic Homeostasis” for my clients, but this blog is all about what I do for MYSELF!
People ask me every day… how do you look like that? How do you have so much energy? How can you dance all night on a hip replacement? Are you sure you’re 40? So without further ado… here is the magic of Getting F’d: FOOD, FITNESS, FASCIA, FREEDOM!
The Perfect Pairing
The key to optimal nutrition is to always pair a protein with a carb and a vegetable. This ensures that your body is getting everything it needs for optimal functioning and turn your metabolism into a fat-burning inferno. When you are missing one of the components, your blood chemistry is thrown out of whack and you can’t “fuel the fire” (meaning your metabolism) to burn more calories. Click here to see examples of proteins, carbs, fats, and veggies that you can use for your grocery list.
At 40, I started to wonder if the same bag of tricks was going to work, and I can tell you since I am fresh off a 20-pound weight loss and am as cut as I ever was in my 20’s… yes, it does! I ALWAYS plan my meals in advance and make sure that I keep lean protein and carbs in my car, at my work, and in my house! It keeps the blood sugar regulated so I can lose fat and still have Mighty Mouse energy.
The Calories of the Perfect Pairing
As a general rule, the heavier you are the more calories you need. I usually tell my clients that if you are over 180 pounds, then you need 6 300-calorie meals for a total of 1,800 calories daily. And no matter how tiny you are (listen to me ladies), you do NOT need to drop below 200-calorie meals for a total of 1,200 calories daily. The ONLY exception is for photoshoots and bodybuilding shows where you may drop your calories drastically just before the show. But for the general population that doesn’t want to see their veins and wants to look healthy lean — stay at the recommended levels!
This calorie calculator will help you determine how many calories you need!
All you have to worry about in the 200-300 calorie meals is the calorie count of the protein, carbs, and fat because the veggies are FREE!
For 200-calorie meals, you want the protein to be 120 calories and the carb to be 80 calories.
For 300-calorie meals, you want the protein to be 200 calories and the carb to be 100.
At first, you really have to count calories and sometimes measure your food. Once you get a little more seasoned at this, you can do it by just eye-balling. I try to measure when I’m cooking and put everything in pre-measured containers. This way I do not inadvertently overeat while mindlessly chatting with a friend or getting in a hurry.
Do you know how to properly read a food label? Did you know that 97% lean turkey actually has as much fat as some ground beef? Food labels are done by weight, not caloric content. So “97% lean” means that by weight, that turkey is only 3% fat. If you look at the calories, though, it is 140 calories per serving, and 3 grams of fat, so that turkey is actually 21% fat.
Buyer beware, labels aren’t always telling you the whole truth. Here’s the easiest way to understand labels of your meats: Look at 2 things. The total CALORIES and the CALORIES FROM FAT! You want the calories from fat to be less than 25% or the total. So for example, some chicken has high fat rib meat. So if the label says 180 calories 75 from fat… then that’s too much fat. Below is a visual of what NOT to get and how easily you can be tricked. this label is for “90%” lean beef.
180 calories 35 from fat… you are good to go. Below is an example of what to get and a visual breakdown. This label is for Tyson chicken breast.
Ground turkey is a scam. I just picked up “97% lean” turkey. 210 calories 95 from fat… that’s way too much! Go for the “extra lean” 210 calories…25 from fat.
Salmon and “steaky” fish can be too high in fat. 200 calories, 90 from fat… too much fat. Opt for tilapia – 200 calories…40 from fat
This is a MUST for someone trying to lean out. The great news is that you CAN eat good cuts of meat. I love a lean filet and a nice piece of white fish. But if you don’t read the labels at the store or the nutrition panel at the restaurant then you SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW! Be an empowered consumer. That way if you are derailing, at least you will know why!
I can tell you that this was the biggest mistake that I made personally and the biggest mistake of the clients that I help: we make assumptions about what a “good protein” is. I felt like if I were eating fish, chicken or turkey that I would be good to go… WRONG. Those meats can have more fat than hamburger meat. If you “accidentally” eat a higher fat meat, you MISS the protein and GO OVER in fat… BIG BIG problem for staying lean. I learned how to read labels years ago, and it COMPLETELY changed the way I shopped and ordered in restaurants. Really KNOWING and not guessing in this area will dramatically change your results!
HOW OFTEN You Eat is as Important as WHAT You Eat
6 X A DAY, EVERY 2 HOURS
An easy way to think about eating every 2 hours is that it’s like a hamster wheel. Think of the wheel turning as a fat burning machine. If the hamster stops running then the fat burning machine turns off. Eating the mini meals keeps the hamster going, the wheels turning and the fat burning machine at full tilt! There is a lot of science to support this. I could run off into the cellular fat burning process, but the average person doesn’t need to go that deep. It’s super simple… balance your blood sugar levels and fuel your body so your diet will work WITH you.
For a lot of people, this is the night and day difference. The “get real” perspective is that if you are hungry, your blood sugar will drop and your body will crave the bad stuff. I think most people feel like eating every 2 ½ hours is a huge job when’s it’s actually easy. These are MINI meals, people. I post pictures of my 200-calorie meals on Facebook and people always comment on how TINY the meals are. 200-calorie meals look like munchkin food. By and large, everyone is OVEREATING! A 200-calorie protein/carbohydrate/ veggie meal can be as simple and tiny as 4 egg whites filled with hummus with a few red peppers, or a 120-calorie protein shake with 2 rice cakes and some broccoli. You can literally eat a meal in less than 5 minutes! A great plan for busy schedules. I also had to get used to the feeling of NOT being full. When you eat every 2-½ hours it gives you the feeling of fuel but not full! We really should never feel full. Full is the alarm that tells our bodies that we ate more food than we can process. I try to make this process as easy as possible by
- Having my food ready for the day. (Click here to see video on pre-packing your food)
- Keeping snacks in my car
- Eating ½ a meal from a restaurant and then eating the other 1/2 later
- Keeping the meals simple
- Using a crockpot or grill for making lean protein in bulk for the week (click here to see video of Sunday prep)
- Having my “go to” spots like Starbucks for oatmeal
- Learning that a meal doesn’t have to be a sit down epic event!
I even say “time to feed!” LOL, because that’s what food is – fuel for our fat burning machines. I also tell my clients that if you want to “cheat” and have a treat like a piece of cake, do not skip a meal just to eat the cake… nooooo! You eat everything on the meal plan AND have your cake, too! Then just do extra cardio in the morning to fuel your metabolism to help BURN OFF the cake.
VEGGIE’s are FREE and FATS are FEW
(Besides protein, carb, and veggie meals… what else can I eat?)
Fats are a different story. There are very few fats that are “good fats.” By and large, we eat way too much fat! As a general rule, limit 2 portions of fat a day (at 50 calories a serving) for the ladies and 3-4 portions for the guys. As far as the Ashley Black Get F’d experience, there is no dairy, no drinks other than water, no fruit, no sugar, and no extra sauces. If you really want to lose fat quickly then you have to be willing to sacrifice these things during the “cutting phase”, and then can reintroduce them in the maintenance phase.
Did you know that green vegetables are FREE in the Ashley Black experience? No need to worry about including them in your calorie serving! Which is great because you can juice them or eat as many of them all day long as you want.
For veggies, I like to juice or blend because it’s quick, easy, and I can add things like Macca for energy and/or wheatgrass for internal cleansing. I also like to eat my protein and carbs on a big pile of spinach because I feel like I’m eating a huge meal. Getting grilled or blackened veggies at a restaurant is a good option as well (watch out for extra oil, dressings and sauces!).
As far as fats for my day, I like to taste my fats so I tend to lean towards portions of peanut or almond butter or avocados because they feel like a treat (mmmm). Almond butter in a vanilla protein shake and avocado on fish tacos or a salad … sign me up!
Drink a Gallon of Water a Day
Water helps hydrate the cells, allowing them to accept nutrients. It also helps flush away toxins and the fat. The bottom line is that when you challenge the body for fat loss you must give it the best chance for success. Water is a huge part of that!
This was a real tough one for me because I really just do not like drinking water. I find that if I fill up a half-gallon jug and drink it during my morning cardio, I can get it in. Then I refill the half-gallon for the rest of the day, drinking it with all my other meals. I also like to add electrolytes because they taste good and provide for better hydration. Some of my clients like to fill up an entire gallon and carry it around all day. I think having the larger bottle is a good reminder of how much water you need. And trying to count glasses of water seems like a good way to screw it up. Whatever works for you, but it is VITAL to get the water in, especially during the fat loss phase.
First Thing’s First — Morning Cardio on an Empty Stomach
Let’s start with FITNESS! I’m going to give you the headliner, in case you are the type that scans. DO NOT MISS THIS!
GET UP FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.
DO NOT EAT.
DRINK A BIG GLASS OF COLD WATER.
DO 1 HOUR OF SIMPLE, STEADY PACED CARDIO at 155 beats per minute.
Here’s my morning routine:
Here’s how NOT to jack up your fascia while doing cardio:
Now, here’s the secret sauce…
There is a lot of controversy over what is the best type of cardio. If your goal is to lose body fat, then steady state cardio is your best bet. The reason for doing it first thing in the morning without food is that while you’re sleeping your stored glycogen is depleted, forcing your body to burn fat for energy. If you are in a fasted state, like after a good night’s sleep, insulin levels are low and cortisol is high, so your body attacks its fat stores for energy. The bottom line is your body is READY to BURN FAT and you don’t have to burn off the day’s food, so it’s like getting DOUBLE the result from what you would get from doing cardio later in the day.
I literally keep my workout clothes next to the bed (or sleep in gym clothes), roll out in a “sleep coma” and jump on my bike before I have my eyes open. This is a pic of my real workout room where it “goes down!”
Keep it Simple
Again, if your goal is to lose fat, keep your cardio simple. Do not work on toning a muscle group or “getting a burn”. Use it simply as a means to get rid of excess body fat. You lift weights to get the definition you want, so use cardio to reveal all the work you’ve done! The best bet is the elliptical or recumbent bike for cardio, as it eliminates excess strain on the joints while giving you the best fat-burning conditions. Always workout symmetrically and in a pain-free range of motion. Click here to see proper alignment during cardio part 1 and here for part 2. You should also try the wall test to make sure you’re symmetrically sound. See some samples of my I.C.E.® Foundations Program to learn full body conditioning and proper mechanics.
I am always asked to analyze biomechanics or if I like this program or that program. Again, if your goal is to lose body fat, then the easiest, boring stuff is most crucial. My go-to options are elliptical and recumbent bike because they are grounded and neurologically gentle. If I have a hectic day, I will return emails or plan my day in tandem with my cardio to get it in without losing part of my workday. On a less hectic day, I like to walk or run the mountains in California or two-step at the country saloons in Texas! Any chance I get to have fun and sweat, I take it.
Can’t Be Black and White or Hot and Cold at the Same Time
Instead of focusing on doing everything at once, just take a step back and focus on one thing at a time. To gain muscle, you need more calories and less cardio. To lose fat, you need fewer calories and cardio workouts. So you can see, it’s really hard to do both simultaneously since they are two extremes of training. It’s not to say you won’t see both happen during a particular program, but your primary focus at any given time has to be one or the other to get the best results. What I am saying is don’t do stair master with glute lifts, don’t jack the resistance on a cardio machine up to 20, don’t walk with weights, don’t use bands while on a Bosu ball … JUST BURN FAT!
I always find it interesting that when I ask clients what they want to achieve they say “I want to tone up and lose weight” …WRONG! That’s just not how it works. Gaining muscle (toning up) and burning fat (losing weight) are two totally different metabolic functions. I personally lift weights and eat a higher calorie level until I am happy with my symmetry and mass, and then start this program. During my off-season, I will usually eat more and lift weights for about 4 months, then follow the 200-calorie per meal plan and only cardio for 2 months, keeping that rotation. Some of my clients prefer to start this program to get rid of excess body fat, then increase the calories and protein and spot train later. Either way is fine, depending on what you value at any given point in your life. But trying to do both at the same time is going to limit your success and frustrate the hell out of you! My system is a good balance for me and keeps me from getting bored. The body is like a piece of art for me, and I like to change it up!
Next is a break down of why.
The Perfect Speed
This goes in the grey area for me. Even the science is conflicting which tells me to go with what consistently works for most people and that is what I call “passive cardio.” KISS is the best rule of thumb here: Keep It Simple Stupid!
There are all kinds of charts about where the heart rate should be to burn fat. There are studies that favor interval training and machines that claim you can do 4 minutes a day. Maybe they’re right? BUT I can tell you, as an old school gal that can diet myself and any of my clients to as lean as we want to be, 155bpm (beats per minute) is the magic number. If you are younger, you may want to bump it 5-10bpm higher and if you are older, 5-10bpm lower. Ask anyone from the figure world or bodybuilding (and we are the leanest) and they will give you this same advice. Keep it consistent and SIMPLE!
Diet is 85% of having the body of your dreams! Here’s the headliner: 200 or 300 calorie meals, 6X a day, 2 ½ hours apart, proper pairing, proper content, 2-4 fats, unlimited veggies, and a gallon of water! Simple! I am here to help you cut through the diet BS and drop body fat like mad!
FASCIA & FREEDOM
Now that you understand a bit about the exercise program, and can see that it is pretty simple and probably less work than you thought, it’s time to embrace Dieting 101. I use the word “diet” to refer to what you eat every day; your diet is part of an all-encompassing lifestyle. Even those of us who have a reasonably healthy diet and have for a long time go through ups and downs to varying degrees. Even the most seasoned experts and bodybuilders have an “in season” and “out of season” body. The point of all of this is that your body and your body fat should be a CHOICE and you should be in CONTROL.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’ve tried everything” or “I just can’t get the last 10 pounds off”, etc. The fact is most people are TRYING, but they are lacking the information! I will teach you all I know and share the experience of friends, kids, clients and myself! This blog and all my personal advice are to help you get and stay in control. The simple facts are that there are different calorie levels and different choices for FAT LOSS than maintaining. Maintaining is a different animal. This “diet” is for FAT LOSS. I will address maintenance and lifestyle in another blog. There will be much more to come on the Ashley Black Lifestyle Experience, but for now, I just want to give you the basics, so you can begin to impact your body in a positive way.
If you’ve NEVER even heard of fascia, or considered it as an inhibiting factor to having the body you’ve always wanted, you are NOT alone. Fascia is a REAL system of the body that exists and has PROFOUND IMPACT on the health and wellbeing of humans and other animals. In school, professors will touch on fascia and call it “connective tissue” and in the medical community, fascia is rarely considered as a factor having a few diagnosis codes that relate to fascia such as plantar fasciitis. In the world of sports training and bodywork, certifications are popping up for fascial stretching or fascial release, but even these cutting edge schools of thought are missing the boat on how to treat fascia. NO ONE is talking about how fascia can leave your body bound up and limit your ability to LOSE BODY FAT. I am here to tell you that fascia can be your friend or foe.
A quick little lesson in what fascia IS, and then I will teach you how to overcome a “fascia bound” body that causes clumpy tummies and cellulite-y legs! (And FYI, muscle guys… fascia can keep your muscles from getting bigger). My whole website and everything I do every day relates directly to the role of fascia and IT’S INTERPLAY with all the other systems of the body. This is by definition … FASCIOLOGY. I could give a solid month of lectures on this subject, but for the sake of this blog, I just want to give you a way to BEGIN to understand how this amazing system works. If someone were actually talented enough to dissect out the fascia system, we would be left with a human form that looks like a big body shaped mass of cotton candy!
Fascia literally runs EVERYWHERE in the human body like little cobwebs – from structural sheets that run like ace bandages throughout, to the jelly-like fascia of the visceral cavity, to the inter-structural fascia that looks like thread inside the muscles, to the straw-like structure that houses the spinal column! Read about the “4 Types of Fascia” here!
WOW… yes, I did say fascia is EVERYWHERE. More notably, the fascia system contains the blood and nervous systems so there are HUGE medical implications associated with the role of fascia, but this blog is about how fascia can keep us FAT!
Fascia can keep us fat in 2 ways:
- Fascia is sticky and it goes from surface to deep inside the body. Fascia reacts to imbalances in the body by “guarding” which means it will constrict. When fascia goes on lockdown, it will grab and “stick” to anything in its path. If there is inflammation, fat, muscle etc. (and like I said, it’s everywhere) fascia will stick and cause “clumping” of the surrounding tissue and fluid. Fascia is so adhesive that when it “grabs” the surrounding tissues, it looks like cellulite and chunky fat. When you palpate these areas of the body it feels like thick chewing gum. IF YOU ARE FASCIA BOUND in this way, make sure you hear me…. NO MATTER HOW LEAN YOU GET… YOU WILL STILL LOOK CHUNKY! I am going to teach you how to solve this problem in this blog.
- The other issue with fascia causing us to hold excess body fat and atrophy parts of our muscles is directly related to the nervous system. When training someone, I always tell them if your brain can’t find a muscle it can’t fire it, and if you can’t fire a muscle then you can’t TONE it! The inability to access a muscle or part of a muscle will cause atrophy and flabby-ness. Remember that fascia houses nerves, so when we are fascia bound our bodies will re-route the nerve signal around fascia bound area. Reach down and grab an area on your own body that is likely “fascia bound” (like the upper outer thigh area or “saddle bag”). If it hurts and feels like a burn, nerves are trapped inside and you have an area that you can CHANGE!
The picture to the left is a 30 MINUTE RESULT of the FasciaBlaster®! That’s right, 30 minutes of FasciaBlasting and her tummy shrank significantly and more definition can show through. With continued use and following this program, the results can be outstanding! The visceral fascia was trapping fat, muscle, and inflammation into an unsightly belly and the FasciaBlaster® came in and loosened up the fascia and allowed it to lay flat and smooth.