Off the Couch Special: Kelsey Byers and Rita Catolino

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[highlight color="black"]Cover Girl Q&A: Kelsey Byers[/highlight]

Age: 30

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Height: 5'-10"

Looking at her now, you may never have guessed that our cover girl, Kelsey Byers, wasn’t always happy with her body or her lifestyle choices. “At my heaviest, I was a size 14 and always felt uncomfortable. I never felt I looked good in clothes, so I shopped a lot. I remember always shopping, hoping to find the perfect outfit to make myself feel better. But I never did,” says Kelsey. She knew intuitively that she had to make a change, but couldn’t find the motivation she needed to do it. What it took was an entirely new environment.

She moved to a new city where she met a man, now her husband, Kent, who introduced her to the power of lifting weights. “Once I started to see real change to my body, I didn’t look back,” she says, calling Kent her biggest source of support from day one.

Kelsey, a marketing director for a transportation company, is almost finished her master’s degree in business administration and looks forward to the day she can devote all her energy to fitness and her next Bikini competition. She attributes all of the changes she’s made to surrounding herself with positive people and setting small, attainable goals. “You need to start thinking of yourself as the person you want to be. As motivational guru Tony Robbins says, ‘Divorce your story.’ Ignore your past. If you want to make a change, do it!”

Kelsey’s discovered her formula for staying lean: a protein-packed diet paired with plenty of healthy carbs. Here’s how she balances her daily meals.

  • Meal 1: 5 scrambled egg whites with mushrooms and green salsa; a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon; a cup of coffee
  • Meal 2: 5 scrambled egg whites wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla; a cup of green tea
  • Meal 3: Baked chicken seasoned with Mrs. Dash + small sweet potato + steamed green beans
  • Meal 4: Extra lean ground turkey + salad + slice of avocado + black beans
  • Meal 5: Grilled chicken + grilled squash and zucchini + small sweet potato
  • Meal 6: 5 scrambled egg whites

Kelsey is a big fan of our “Easy Does It” expert Tiffani Bachus’s Peanut Butter Protein Balls. She puts her own special touch on these by mixing some Lean Body for Her Delicious Soft Vanilla Ice Cream protein powder with a little water to make icing. “This is a great way to add a sweet taste to the protein balls or any muffin. Delicious!”

Penciling It In

Like many people with a career to work around, Kelsey likes to tackle cardio first thing, then hit the gym again later in the evening for a good iron session.

Monday: 45 minutes of cardio (walking uphill on the treadmill), shoulders and abs

Tuesday: 45 minutes of cardio, glutes and legs

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: 45 min of cardio, chest and triceps

Friday: 45 min of cardio, back and biceps

Saturday: Glutes and legs (optional)

Sunday: Rest day

[highlight color="black"]Cover Girl Q&A: Rita Catolino[/highlight]

Age: 32

Hometown: London, Ontario

Height: 5'-7"

Our cover girl, Rita Catolino, has proved that it takes hard work and drive to go from feeling “blah” to feeling fab. After taking on a fitter lifestyle, she’s almost 30 pounds lighter and has enough energy to keep herself – and everyone else – going.

Rita never thought she’d get to know, much less train bestselling author and columnist Tosca Reno. But the day she picked up The Eat-Clean Diet® Cookbook was also the day she made up her mind to take a different path. “That book changed my life,” says the now slim and toned Rita, Tosca’s personal trainer, who takes the author through her paces as she trains to get back on stage in October. Motivated by Tosca’s book, Rita made clean eating a part of every day, filling her own cooler with fresh veggies and grilled chicken, and bringing it with her to the gym. She even became an eat-clean advocate, walking the talk with her clients, friends and family.

Tosca’s book gave her a much-needed plan she could map out. It also instilled in her the confidence she needed to get on stage. Venturing into competition Rita has competed in 11 contests to date. “Because I know where I’ve come from, I don’t ever want to be there again,” says Rita of her determination to never go back to her former lifestyle.

Today, Rita keeps busy training clients, traveling and entertaining. Despite the large part that training plays in her life, she still enjoys gathering in her home with family and friends, and bonding over a delicious meal. “I love to cook – you need to enjoy your food!” says Rita.

What you don’t need to do, she says, is continue to make excuses for not being the person you can be. “You must envision what you want and then set the goals that will get you there – and follow through!”

Rita stays energized from morning to night with her frequent nourishing meals.

  • Meal 1: “Oh So Yummy” Gluten-Free Pancakes with Fruit Syrup (recipe below)
  • Meal 2: Veggies drizzled with olive oil
  • Meal 3: Spinach salad with either chicken, steak slices, salmon or hard-boiled eggs with tons of veggies, balsamic and olive oil dressing and ½ sweet potato with skin on
  • Meal 4: Cut-up veggies and a hard-boiled egg
  • Meal 5: Fish like salmon, halibut, cod, tuna steaks or shrimp with mushrooms or asparagus and a big arugula salad with capers, lemon and dill
  • Meal 6: (“Only if I’m up late and hungry.”): A few nuts (no peanuts) with organic desiccated coconut and cacao nibs. “My own version of trail mix!”

My Favorite Recipe: “Oh So Yummy” Gluten-Free Pancakes with Fruit Syrup

  • 1 free-range egg
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour or almond meal
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 1 cup berries (Rita likes a blueberry/raspberry mix – “I go berry picking and freeze them for year-round goodness.”)

Blend first 4 ingredients. Make 4 to 5 small, thin crepe-like pancakes on a griddle over medium heat. Cook for about 30 seconds, then flip to cook the other side. Boil down berries in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Pour over pancakes and sprinkle with more cinnamon.

If you push, I push:

Training others all day, Rita still fits in her own workout and certainly doesn’t take the easy route. Here’s how her week of sweat time is divided.

Monday: Step class

Tuesday: Legs and hot yoga

Wednesday: Upper body

Thursday: Conditioning circuit

Friday: Glutes and hamstrings

Saturday: Upper body and step class

Sunday: Rest or hot yoga

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