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Bikini Competitor and Fitness Blogger Kasey Arena

Can you tell us more about yourself, your background in fitness, and how you started your site, Powercakes?

I am currently a Health & Physical Education major who is student teaching. I truly do have a passion for bringing fitness and nutrition into the student’s lives. This year, I’ve introduced them to yoga, zumba, and other forms of fitness. I also taught many health lessons on nutrition to stress the importance of wellness in their everyday lives. When it comes to my own background, my mother is a personal trainer. Therefore, I grew up with health knowledge all around me. I definitely didn’t understand the importance of it all until I started to realize that my nutrition affected my athletic abilities and that if I wanted to be a better athlete, I had to become stronger. It took me time, but I realized it was a total package that you had to create with a balance of each element.

When it comes to my blog, I have always had a passion for cooking/baking. I took pictures constantly of my food and had them saved on my computer for the longest time. I used to follow all different types of food & fitness blogs with goals to start my own. I have to admit I was worried what people would think if I started one, but it was the best decision I could have made. The experiences that I’ve had and the amazing people that I have met, I wouldn’t trade for anything!

What exactly is a powercake?

Well, ever since I can remember my family has had huge Sunday morning breakfasts.On Sunday’s my dad would always make pancakes before my soccer games. (I’ve played soccer since I was 6!) My mom would always ask, “did you sneak in protein powder to make them powercakes?”See, being the “healthy eater” that I was not as a child, my mom always wanted to make sure that I had some form of protein so that I had energy to play in my soccer game! So for years now we’ve called our pancakes, “powercakes“; Which really means a very healthy pancake that gives you “power” to get through your day! During my training for competitions and in everyday life, I always make “powercakes” and eat them as my meals. They are a great way to incorporate healthy carbs, fats, & protein for a perfect POWERMEAL. I also add in things like pumpkin, spinach, blueberries, flax, etc which also adds to the nutritional value!  

What is your workout regimen like?  Can you share a sample workout with our readers?

I break my workouts up into different body parts a day for weight training and then also incorporate TABATA intervals (which are 20 seconds of an exercise, 10 seconds rest = 1 round) They consists of burpees, jump rope, high knees, jumping jacks, push-ups, mountain climbers, etc. It’s a great way to keep your body guessing and get a very effective workout done in 10-20 minutes!

Monday: Chest with 20-40 rounds of TABATA Intervals

Tuesday:  Back with 20-40 rounds of TABATA intervals

Wednesday:  Hamstrings, Calves, & Core (or REST DAY, depending how I’m feeling)

Thursday: Shoulders with 20-40 rounds of TABATA intervals

Friday: Quads (plyos, lunges, squats, jump rope, sprints)

Saturday: Biceps & Triceps & Core with 20-40 rounds of TABATA

Sunday: REST

*Always add stretching & relaxation at the end of your workout!

*sometimes I’ll add in 20-30 minutes of moderate cardio such as elliptical or bike in place of TABATA intervals; depending on how I’m feeling and how much time I have!

*You can split your work-out into 2 parts throughout the day, maybe cardio in the morning and lift later on.

*My biggest advice: You don’t have to kill yourself on a treadmill or be in the gym for hours. I am only in the gym or working out for about 20minutes to an hour.

*Also, REST is so important! That is when your muscles will grow. You’ve got to give your body proper rest in order for it to function and work hard! I try to give myself active rest days. This means, I’m still active in my day, just don’t work out a certain body part or do any intense cardio.

What about your diet—how do you eat clean?

I’ve always been into cooking and baking healthy clean foods! By “clean foods” I mean whole foods that are not processed.  I grew up with stomach issues which I found out were allergies. Food that I was eating on a daily basis like “whole wheat” pasta & “whole grain” bread sounded healthy, but in reality I was suffering from an intolerance to gluten and other food allergies. I was actually eating too much of the same thing on a daily basis and my body built up an intolerance to these foods. I’ve learned to listen to my body and try and rotate my food choices on a daily basis to give my body more of a variety nutrients and not get used t o the same thing.

Due to these allergies, I became a scientist in the kitchen. I wanted to create my favorites meals in a way that I could still eat them! From that point on, I started taking pictures of all of my recipes & documenting the natural ingredients that I was using.

Eating clean is all about food preparation! I go grocery shopping on Saturdays and then cook all day Sunday for the week! I roast up vegetables, cook my lean meats, chop veggies, and usually make a few POWERCAKES to start my mornings off! It makes for so much more time in my day to be able to just grab my meals that are already prepared!

As a bikini competitor, you know better than anyone, what are some of the tricks to scoring a killer bikini body?  What are some of your top exercises to get bikini ready?

I have to admit that DIET plays a huge role in getting your own best bikini body! I think everyone’s bodies react differently to certain foods, so you need to figure that out to see what works for YOU! I do go against the “cookie cutter diet” for competing, to show that you can FUEL your body and do it the healthy way! I also don’t call it a “diet”; it’s a lifestyle.

When it comes to working out, I suggest TABATA intervals! They rev your metabolism and blast calories in a short amount of time. Also, I HIGHLY suggest weight training. IT WILL NOT MAKE YOU BULKY; total misconception! I used to not weight train because I didn’t want to look “manly”, but I am in the best shape of my life now thanks to weight training. I also want to say, I don’t just lift so that my body will change, I lift to be stronger in my every day activities and be in the best shape I can be in to live a healthy life! That’s so important to remember.

You incorporate all kinds of interesting and healthy ingredients into your recipes that a lot of people don’t know a lot about like nutritional yeast, chia seeds, flax seed, etc.   Can you give our readers a quick rundown of your top five healthy ingredients and what they do?

1)  Nutritional Yeast- I might have an obsessed with this stuff. It is not a “brewers yeast” – so it is safe for gluten intolerances, etc.  It has a cheesy flavor and is loaded with fiber, minerals, nutrients, & protein!! GREAT for vegans!


2)  Chia Seeds –rich in omega fats and loaded with fiber and protein as well! I use these to top salads, make chia jam, chia puddings, add them to my bottled water – they are so versatile and sock up about 9 times their size in liquid.


3)  Flax Seeds – loaded with fiber, minerals, omegas, and healthy fats! I use these in my powercakes or sprinkle over yogurt/cottage cheese. I also blend it into my smoothies!


4)  Cocoa Powder – who says you can’t eat chocolate when living a clean lifestyle? Cocoa powder is my GO TO for my sweet fix! It has fiber, protein, & antioxidants! I make a “Healthy Chocolate Sauce” by mixing 2 TB cocoa powder, 10 drops liquid stevia, & ¼ almond/coconut milk (or water) – it’s the perfect sweet topping on cottage cheese at night with some nuts!


5)  Peanut Flour – I’m all for healthy fats, but peanut flour is basically the fat is sucked out of the peanut and you’re left with flour. I love using this because for ¼ of the powder (which doubles once you add liquid) will have 110 calories with 4 grams of healthy fats & 16 grams of PROTEIN! I make a Peanut Sauce or Dip (depending on how much liquid you add) by mixing ¼ cup peanut flour with 10 drops of liquid stevia, a little sea salt, & ¼-1/2 cup water. Awesome way to get in more protein! I put this on POWERCAKES, dip fruit/veggies into it, layer with cottage cheese, or drizzle onto anything!

Can you share what a typical day of eating looks like for you?

I call all of my meal POWERMEALS because they truly power me throughout my days! I eat 5-6 times a day to keep my metabolism going & give me energy!


POWERMEAL 1: A POWERCAKE of some sort made from the night before, topped with coconut oil or CHIA JAM with some grapefruit and green tea or coffee with almond/coconut milk & stevia.


POWERSNACK 2: between periods; fruit, nuts, & veggies.


POWERMEAL 3: Lean protein, lots of roasted veggies, & half of an avocado.


POST WORKOUT POWERSHAKE: Frozen spinach, ½ banana, 2 TB Flax meal, cinnamon, 1 scoop of Vanilla Vegan Brown Rice Protein Powder & almond/coconut milk.
(I blend this the night before and bring it with me for after my work out)


POWERMEAL 5: Lean protein, lots of veggies, maybe some spaghetti squash or a yam, with some hummus or another ½ of an avocado.


POWERMEAL 6: cottage cheese or greek yogurt, topped with some chia seeds, cinnamon, nuts or nut butter, & some of my “Healthy chocolate sauce” (2TB cocoa powder, ¼ cup almond milk, & some drops of liquid stevia) – always have to satisfy that sweet tooth the clean way!

I don’t do many grains due to an allergy to them, so my carbs come from veggies, fruits, & yams! I eat A LOT of healthy fats! I eat a serving with every meal! I used to “FEAR THE FAT” but now I EMBRACE them and my body responds so well!! Don’t fear the fat people!! ;] & I also eat a lean protein with every meal!

How do you stay motivated to workout every day, even with a busy schedule?

I have an amazing support system from my family, friends, Twitter, Facebook, my blog, Instagram, & FitFluential community! I am constantly getting new ideas and motivation from them! I am also very lucky to be a Physical Education Major (I’m currently student teaching) so I get to teach things like yoga, zumba, & pilates all day! Therefore I am very active throughout my day. I do have a prep period at the end of the day that I utilize for my weight training and workouts! At the school, we have a weight room that I get all to myself for 45 minutes & I love it! If I didn’t have that prep period though, I STILL would definitely go to the gym after school or get up at 6am and do an early workout! I honestly don’t give myself excuses because I know that I have at least 30 minutes a day to get a work out in! I always say “Doing something is better than nothing!”

When it comes to food, PREPARATION is KEY to SUCCESS for clean eating with a busy schedule! I prepare all of my meals on Sunday’s and Thursday’s usually once I’m getting low on a few things. I also prepare POWERCAKES the night before, so therefore my breakfast is already made for me! This has become a habit of mine and it takes time for form habits, but once you do, it makes your days go so much smoother! You don’t have to stand in front of the fridge wondering what to cook every meal, which for me, would be 5-6 times a day.

Lastly, what does “healthy” mean to you?

Healthy is balance. Being able to balance fitness, nutrition, relationships, and work all in a healthy way. It’s not possible to live a “perfect” life, but you can have a “perfect” life that works for you & your own healthiness! Everyone is different. Embracing that you are different from one another helps to understand that being healthy for you may be different from somebody else’s healthy. It’s so important to not only concentrate on your outside healthiness, but your internal healthiness! Where would we be without our beautiful machine inside of our body that helps us live our everyday lives? Your insides need the nourishment and fuel to help power you through your days! I think of my body like a machine and I’m constantly trying to help it work by providing it with proper nutrition, exercise, and relaxation. Having a balance is truly being healthy.

 

Keep up with Kasey and pick up all kinds of workout tips and motivation as well as loads of delicious recipes for her protein-packed powercakes over at Powercakes.net!

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