{Guest post}: 4 simple changes to better health by Matthew Alegre

February 28, 2017

Hi friends! I hope are doing well. Today’s post is brought to you by my husband, Matthew. When we’re not chasing after the girls or trying to break up an argument over Shopkins, we have some pretty interesting conversations. As you can imagine, they typically involve something about health and fitness, a podcast we listened to, a recent study that was done, Carpe Diem Personal Training stuff, or good food we want to devour. The other day we started talking about the challenges of eating healthy, the role stress often plays, and the little things we can do to get back on track. So Matt’s going to take it away and I’m going to make sure he doesn’t use any offensive language before hitting “publish.”

Common challenges we face when it comes to eating healthy


It seems like we have less time in our day than ever before. It’s difficult to try to balance all of our daily commitments (like work, family, and household tasks) and the various forms of stress that we face with proper care for ourselves. As a parent, I understand what a lot of my clients face each and every day – we are all incredibly busy.


In my experience, one of the biggest challenges people face when it comes to eating healthy is not being prepared. Between taking kids to school, chauffeuring them to various activities, working full-time, to maintaining your home there’s just not enough time in the day. Less time and more stress leads to poor meal choices. We end up eating whatever’s convenient or easy.


I try to encourage anyone who wants to establish better eating habits to focus on being prepared. This means spend a day on the weekend prepping food for the week ahead. Have real food on hand so you aren’t tempted by garbage. Use your crockpot for mid-week meals. Don’t buy junk. Have items that are simple and easy to make and can be thrown together quickly. Make and bring your lunch to work. Small changes can set the foundation for better longterm habits. 


Another common issue may be that the person who wants to eat better is met with resistance by his or her family. It can be difficult to get your whole family on board with a better lifestyle. Listen, I totally get the issue of trying to feed picky toddlers. However, this is where you have to show a little tough love. If you are making the meals then your family will just have to eat what you prepare. If they don’t want it then they can get their own food. One of my favorite expressions is lead by example. Show your kids that you care about your health as well as theirs. They will catch on to your actions.


A Fit Mess

Small changes can yield big results down the road. Here are a few, simple steps you can make today for better health tomorrow: 


1. Eat your first and final meal within a 12-hour window.

This means if you eat breakfast at 7:00 am, then you shouldn’t be eating anything after 7:00 pm. This is beneficial for several reasons. First, it encourages more consistent and fulfilling meals. It also supports liver function as well as digestion. Finally, it hinders snacking throughout the day and bingeing at night.


2.  Cut out processed foods and anything that comes from a box.

Learn to cook real food.  Your meals don’t need to be elaborate. Prepare simple, healthy items. Meat, nuts, and vegetables are great choices. Contrary to public opinion, meat and fat are not bad. You don’t need to follow a Standard American Diet (SAD) simply because that’s the norm. Otherwise, you might end up like Joe Schmo Couch Potato.


3. Plan! Success comes from being prepared.

If you don’t plan, you plan to fail. Make your food in advance, carry healthy snacks, and stock your fridge with whole foods. Be sure to eat every 3-4 hours. When you go too long between meals your body can’t function properly. You get tired, moody, and hungry which makes you more likely to grab junk food.


4.  Understand your food triggers.

Stress is a huge contributor to poor eating choices. If your cortisol is high then you are going to crave foods that spike your insulin (sugar, carbs, etc.). Ask yourself: what are the sources of stress in my life and how can I find ways to reduce them? When you feel stressed at work, do you want to hit the vending machine? Understanding your triggers is a huge part of redirecting your habits. Once you are aware of what may set you off then you need to figure out how to combat them. One small trick I use to curb sugar cravings is to mix 2 teaspoons of L-glutamine with a glass of water (or a small amount of heavy cream). It’s an effective way to satisfy a sweet tooth.


Additional links:

Carpe Diem Personal Training, Inc.

Poliquin Group Supplements 

Last week’s workouts + tips from my trainer for training smart

October 6, 2016

Hey! Happy Thursday, my friends! I’m coming to you a bit late today. My morning slipped away from me. But I’m popping in to share last week’s workouts (wayyyyyyy behind on posting this). I’ve been asked to give a bit more detail on my workouts and to talk about why I structure things the way that I do. I’ll try to explain that below.


I’ve written before about why I plan my workouts in advance. Typically, I’ll spend time on Sunday evening outlining my goals for the week ahead. I aim for two Orangetheory classes per week (I wish I could do more, but my schedule is tight) and I try to lift three days per week. Since we don’t know in advance what the strength portion of each OTF class will be it can get a bit tricky when planning my additional workouts at the gym. Fortunately, I never feel like the strength work is so great that it will hinder my time outside of class. We bounce around a bit in class so it never feels too taxing on my muscles. Of course, it would be great to know what muscle groups we will be focusing on ahead of time (just sayin’). These days yoga is a once a week thing and the other day or two is either REST or a walk with the girls.


All this being said, if my workouts don’t turn out exactly as I imagined them, I don’t worry about it. I just do what I can. And some days I will choose to do something completely different if that’s what my body is telling me. I’ve learned that pushing myself to do a workout simply because that’s what my program says could lead to an injury, exhaustion, or just resenting my workouts.


Last week’s workouts



Tuesday – early morning workout at home

Dumbbell + stability ball workout

A Fit Mess

I used 15 # dumbbells for most of the exercises since that’s the heaviest weight I have at home. Clearly, I need to add a few 20-25 pounders to my home gym. If you find that your weights aren’t challenging enough (your last few reps of each set should always be tough) then try slowing the movement down or increasing the number of reps.

Wednesday – German Body Comp workout (with modifications)

I should really dedicate an entire post to German Body Comp training. I was first introduced to GBC through the training principles of Charles Poliquin. It’s my ideal workout because it combines multi-joint movements with high-intensity training. You typically alternate upper and lower body exercises with very little rest in between. GBC training is often used by people who want to build muscle and lean out, making it a popular fat loss program. You can learn more about this style of training here.

My GBC workout: 

4 rounds:

  • 15 DB squats (I used 40#)
  • 15 one-arm DB row (20#)


4 rounds:

  • 15 back extensions on the bosu ball
  • 15 standing shoulder presses (20#)


4 rounds:

  • 15 leg presses (medium stance)
  • 15 flat bench presses (I got up to 50# total)


4 rounds:

  • 15 calf raises on leg press machine
  • 15 TRX knee tucks


Run 1 mile (to shake out the legs)







Sunday – back + abs supersets

A Fit Mess

3 rounds of each / 15 reps per exercise unless otherwise indicated (I didn’t write down any of my weights – sorry!)

  • lat pull downs
  • underhand cable pull down


  • 1 arm DB row
  • stability ball pull-ins


  • standing cable row
  • v-ups


  • bentover rows
  • mountain climbers (40 total)


  • bicep curls
  • dips off bench


  • overhead tricp extensions
  • mountain climbers (40 total)


  • DB pullover on bench
  • bicycle crunches (25 total)


Over-training or under-recovering?

Last week I felt great physically. It’s been really busy at work and there has been a lot going on for me from a personal standpoint, but exercise has always been something that has helped me deal with stress and anxiety. It shifts my perspective and can bring me out of any bad mood. But lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve started to feel a bit down after my workouts. This is something I hardly ever experience, but it’s been so noticeable that I wondered if it could be due to over-training (although the level/intensity of my workouts has not changed).


I asked my resident personal trainer what he thought of this. Here’s what he wrote (yes, we have a lot of conversations via email and text):


I think it’s common (especially for women) to over do it.  I wouldn’t say you are over-training as much as under-recovering.  Training hard but also smart … as per our most recent discussion on your training plan you’ve been following.  I would add in some carbs surrounding your workouts (before and after) while keeping your other meals of the day more protein and fat focused.  Maybe try giving your muscle groupings 3-5 days between workouts for awhile and see how you respond to that level of recovery as well.  PS: Good gut health / bacteria is key as well due to the fact that almost 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut lining.  Pro-biotics are very important for mood … you know all this. Matt


I know, I’m super lucky to live with such a knowledgeable guy. I’m going to follow Matt’s advice and try to pay more attention to my diet (timing my carbs) and spacing out my muscle group. Again, this can be tricky with Orangetheory, but I’ll try to work around it. I’m hoping this will all pass quickly.


What have your workouts looked like lately? 

A milestone + top 10 blog posts

May 13, 2016
A Fit Mess

Hey, hey! A very happy Friday to you! I hope you’ve had a great week. I’m ready for the weekend. Are you?


I ‘m excited to share that I’ve hit a mini milestone. This week I reached 100 blog posts (technically this one marks 104). Honestly, it’s crazy to think I’ve posted that many articles in just six months. I want to thank you all for your support and for following along with me. It means so much!


I thought it’d be fun to share the 10 most popular articles to date. It was helpful for me to see what posts got the most page views and comments. Clearly, you all share my interest in clothing.


I’ve list everything in order of popularity (with #1 being the most popular). Below you can find a brief description of each.


1. Stitch Fix #21 – April finds

April Stitch Fix

I’m excited to see that you’re interested in my Stitch Fix reviews. This company has really helped me define my style and try new things. I’ve been enjoying the monthly service a lot. I received a very high number of page views from my April fix, but I’m sure that’s because I was featured on the Stitch Fix website and tagged in their social media accounts. This was probably my best fix to date!

2. Stitch Fix #20 – March finds

SF March_dress outside3_3.21.16

Yep, another popular post! You can probably tell by my photos that I love stripes. This is one of my favorite dresses. I wear it all the time. The unique pattern and fitted top make this dress really stand out. Don’t forget you can pin it to your Style Board!

3. Interview with Matthew Alegre, CSCS

matt bus

This was my very first outside expert interview. And for those who may not know, Matthew is my husband. He’s the founder and owner of Carpe Diem Personal Training, Inc., a personal training studio in Chapel Hill, NC. He loves what he does, knows a lot about exercise and health, and puts up with me on a daily basis. (PS – that’s him pulling a school bus.)

4.  4 companies that make my life easier

FullSizeRender (007)

I bet you can guess one of the four companies that I love! It’s true…I’m at Target almost every day. The girls love going there, too. Thankfully, there are ways to save like signing up for red perks and getting the REDcard. #allmymoneygoestotarg

5. Some unsolicited advice to new moms

girls 2015

I loved writing this post so much. It was a way for me to reflect on my own experience as a new mom and offer some advice to others. Having children affects everything and becoming a parent tips your world upside down. But it’s an incredible experience that I feel absolutely grateful to have gone through. It makes me tear up when I see how quickly it all goes by.

5. My Whole30 Experience: Part 1

shrimp_local 22

Completing my first Whole30 reignited my interest in and attention to food. I fell out of the habit of reading labels and understanding what actually in my food. This experience gave me a new perspective on my eating habits and what I want to put in my body. Be sure to check out Part 2 of my W30 experience.

6. Fitting in exercise when you have children (aka no time)

AA jogging stroller

This was the very first post I imagined writing and probably the reason I started blogging. I have always been dedicated to fitness. I was worried that becoming a mom (to twins, no less) meant I would never be able to exercise or get back into shape. I found ways to make it work and I really wanted to share these ideas with other women. It’s totally possible to make time to exercise (even if it’s just 10 minutes).

7. The best smoothie recipe for picky toddlers

Maddie smoothie

I love smoothies and, thankfully, so do my kids. Some days it’s the only way I can sneak veggies into them! This green smoothie post got a lot of views and shares. Since then I have added a couple of other delicious drinks, like this…and omg THIS!

9. Why I gave up wearing heels

Why I gave up wearing heels

It was hard to give up high heels. And to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t develop a problem. Unfortunately, we often wait for pain before we change our habits. I’ve noticed a big difference in my body by avoiding high heels. Now if only there was another way to make myself taller.

10.  Interview with Kristan Shimpi, Executive Director at Friends TALK

Friends TALK

I was so happy to see my friend Kristan on the top 10 list (yay Kristan!). Kristan is a supermom. She founded and runs a nonprofit for girls, works out on the regular with Matthew, blogs, writes, gardens, and cooks. Basically, she is amazing!

There you have it! Again, I want to thank you all for your support, encouragement, comments, and likes. It is much appreciated!

Have a fantastic Friday!

Interview with Matthew Alegre, CSCS

February 3, 2016

You guys! I have a fun post for you today. One of the reasons I started this little blog was to offer healthy living tips. I plan to incorporate interviews with various experts in the health and fitness fields to share some diet and exercise advice.


I am excited to feature my very first interview with the BEST personal trainers and health coaches around. Matthew Alegre is the founder and owner of Carpe Diem Personal Training. Of course, he just so happens to be my husband so I am biased, but I do think he is the best. Enjoy!


Interview with Matthew Alegre, CSCS

Founder and Owner of Carpe Diem Personal Training, Inc.


  1. Name: Matthew Alegre, Daddy, Coach, Maestro (OK, the last doesn’t get used very often).
  1. In five words or less, describe what you do. Help people look better naked.
  1. What’s your training philosophy? Discover the most efficient way possible to reach YOUR goals (not someone else’s) and then go after it.
  1. What does a typical workout look like for someone you train?  I see clients for 30-60 minutes at a time. Everyone has their own personalized training plan, which always includes weight training. The devil’s in the details though as the specific methods of training are manipulated according to the client’s needs and capabilities. Success often depends on the little things: the sequence and execution of the movements and how they fit into the overall plan. We lift, push, pull, sprint and carry our way through fun and effective training sessions.
  1. If you had to choose between eating well and exercising, which is more important and why? Eating well because you can’t out train a bad diet.  Even if someone is thin and appears to be in-shape, if their diet is crap, then their blood work and body fat analysis will show it. You may not have the chance to exercise every day, but you eat and drink every day so the return on the investment is greater in that regard.
  1. In your experience, what is the number one mistake people make when trying to lose weight? They cut calories while doing steady cardio. Instead, they should replace starchy carbs and sugar with more veggies, protein and good fats while focusing on weight training and interval sprints. This will get you the results you seek 99% of the time. I also think it’s important to differentiate between weight loss and fat loss.  If you lose 5 lbs. of fat while gaining 5 lbs. of muscle your number on the scale may look the same. This can be discouraging for people who think the goal is to get a smaller number on the scale. A better way to track this would be to use your weight plus your body fat to lean muscle mass ratio. That way you’ll have a complete picture of your weight loss, but more importantly your fat loss and muscle gains.
  1. What are your top 3 tips to living a healthy life? Sleep better, eat better, love more. To elaborate – a good night’s sleep means you hit the pillow and wake up 7-10 hours later. Eat better by trying to stick to the following advice: if it didn’t at one time run, swim, fly or grow from the earth, don’t eat it. Lastly, love more by being grateful for what you have every day, following your passion, and always being true to yourself.
  1. Describe your typical meals.

Breakfast – Always a high fat, protein and fiber meal (i.e. meat and nuts), diesel coffee with MCT oil (or coconut oil) and cinnamon. Water with lemon. Supplements.

Lunch – This is usually post-workout so some lower fat protein source (i.e. chicken, turkey, or white fish) along with some fast acting carb like white rice or rice pasta. I also have a greens drink (I like Wellness Greens by Poliquin Group) along with supplements.

Dinner – Whatever my wife has cooking in the crockpot – usually meat, vegetables, and a starch like potatoes. Supplements.

Snacks – These are usually smaller meals (#2 and #3 throughout the day). If it’s pre-workout, then I will have a good protein and fat source (ie. grass-fed beef, bison, pork, etc.) along with vegetables. I bookend any starchier carb and veggies later in the day and post-workout.

Sweets – The only sweets I eat are typically various dark berries and the tasty Paleo treats Alyssa makes. She has shared some of these recipes on the blog already. So good!

Drinks – The only drinks I have are good clean water, unsweetened almond milk, quality coffee and The Macellan 12- single malt scotch.

  1. Other than your wife, who inspires you today? My clients because they are all extremely busy and driven people with demanding lives, yet they take time out to train and strive to be even better!

You can read more about Matthew by visiting his website.

matt bus