Welcome to Days 8 & 9 of 31 Days of Mindfulness and Meatless October Challenge late post due to some recent travel for teaching and training ….

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Welcome to the October Challenge: #31DaysofMindfulness and #MeatlessOctober! This challenge is a collaborative project to promote the implementation of mindful self-care practices and health conscious nutritional choices.

So what exactly is Mindfulness you ask? In its simplest definition it is “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”

During this challenge you will be challenged to become more aware or conscious of three things: 1) your daily mood and state of mind, 2) how you treat your body physically, and 3) what you feed your body nutritionally.

Mindful Minute

Beginning with the ‘Mindful Minute’. This “Mental WOD” is designed to be a self-reflective moment in the course of your day to promote positive self-talk, daily inspiration, and inner peace in the chaos of your day to day life. Each daily reflective thought is very personal in nature as they come straight from the heart of yours truly. So get your heart strings ready for a reflective journey into the source of your daily moods, attitudes, and thoughts towards yourself and the world around you. Challenge yourself to incorporate these reflective thoughts into your daily mindful mobility yoga practice to help you focus your intentions for the workout and the journey ahead.

Mindful Mobility WOD

The next component of the challenge day involves mindful movement with the mindful mobility WOD. In this part of the challenge, we will embark on a daily flexibility and mobility journey to promote daily physical self-care using a basic yoga sequence to help you cultivate a routine flexibility conditioning practice.

Why yoga? There are numerous health benefits to a regular yoga practice outside of general flexibility and improved mobility. The following link from Yoga Journal outlines a long list of about 38 Health Benefits of a regular yoga practice.

Prehab vs Rehab. Practicing prehabilitation helps to prevent the need for rehabilitation from injuries caused by not being mindful of your body’s imbalances. Prehab, as defined by National Institute of Health, is used by doctors to prepare a patient for the inactivity associated with post surgical procedures. However, prehabilitation (prehab) goes much further than that and into everyday life. Many physical therapists and athletic trainers use prehab as part of a daily program to help prevent nagging injuries in clients that are caused by physical imbalances as well as the larger ones that can be caused by athletic injuries and require surgery. 

Cultivating a consistent personal prehab self-care routine can help to prevent injuries by allowing you to discover and focus on correcting your body’s imbalances. In general a good prehab program consists of warming-up, stretching to full range of motion such as in a regular yoga practice, a cardiovascular component like walking or swimming, and a resistance training component mixed with functional movements that relate to everyday life. All in all regular yoga and flexibility/mobility practices are an important key component to any personal prehab program.

Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD)

Why Meatless you may also ask? Studies have shown that a plant-based diet has many benefits to an individual’s overall well-being and the only  two commonly associated risks with a plant-based diet are inadequate protein intake, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, both of which can be remedied with proper protein, vitamin, and mineral supplementation, such as through products from Garden of Life brand, which provide organic, raw, certified vegan and gluten free protein, vitamin, and mineral supplements. So don’t let the ‘risk’ of missing protein and nutrients scare you from this journey.

Each day will feature a Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD) idea to try at home if you like getting creative in the kitchen. I personally due to my hectic work-life schedule order my meatless meals from a meal delivery service called Trifecta Nutrition , just choose the Vegan or Vegetarian meal plan depending on how meatless you are ready to be.

Trifecta nutrition Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad

As you know there are differences between Vegan and Vegetarian, as well as differing forms of Vegetarianism. Veganism omits everything from animals, the meat of animals and their products (eggs, milk, cheese, etc.) True vegetarianism is similar to veganism, however, there are variations and exceptions that some use for individual reasons and preferences, such as ovo-vegetarianism which allows for the consumption of eggs, lacto-vegetarianism, which allows for the consumption of milk and dairy products, and pescatarianism which allows for the consumption of fish and seafood.

So whatever route you choose to take in this Meatless October journey, choose what works best for your personal health goals and overall well-being. The goal here is to make health conscious and physically nourishing decisions about the foods you choose to consume on a daily basis. 

So welcome to #31DaysofMindfulness and #MeatlessOctober I look forward to enjoying this nourishing journey with all of you!

See you all for Day 1….until then ~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~

Staying fit on the fly, or lean on the go, doesn’t have to be challenging, nor does enjoying social meals with friends. When I used to travel a lot with my former career, Panera Bread was always one of my go-to places to eat while on the road traveling from city to city every few months because of their generally “healthy” menu choices. However, as a fitness professional and competitive aesthetic athlete, over the years I have learned that you never have to settle for just what’s on the menu, especially when you have precise health and fitness goals to meet. Always customize if and when you can, something I like call lean couture.

Ms. Natural Alabama State Figure Champion
Ms. Natural Alabama State Figure Champion

Below you will see how I reduced the fat and turned a normally greater than 262 calorie fattening menu item into an under 500 calorie nutritionally dense and deliciously filling meal that can be enjoyed solo or socially through restaurant menu customization.

The Panera Bread menu item: Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT. Half a sandwich ordered off the menu as is: a whopping 255 calories before side items or beverages.

SO what exactly did I do to not only reduce the calories of this hefty half of a sandwich, and be able to enjoy a fun side item?

Home screen of the myPanera app

I customized my order through the myPanera app that can be accessed through Google Play or iTunes App Store, or simply visiting the Panera Bread website.

I am allergic to tomatoes, hate pork so I hate bacon, but love turkey and the health benefits of avocados, mayo is a very unhealthy fat whereas mustard has metabolism boosting properties, and don’t need added salt, also I prefer the nutrients in spinach over lettuce, and the bloat and inflammation reducing benefits of cucumbers and onions, plus whole grain bread is simply a healthier complex carbohydrate bread of choice

If you are a myPanera member, or simply have a smartphone or access to a computer, simply go online and set up an online ordering account. From there, you can pre-order a customized entre’ for rapid pick-up at any Panera Bread location and quite possibly if you decide to dine-in, you can pre-select your customizations, and see the complete nutritional totals before leaving home, and read your list of custom changes for your order at the restaurant counter.

Get the Facts: Nutrition facts that fit my macros and my fitness goals. NOTE: be sure to calculate the macro exchange ratios. Panera math is not the most accurate: Totals: 366 calories (Fat 2.5 g x 9) + (Complex Carbs 63g x 4) + (Protein 23 g x 4)

So my customized Panera Bread menu item was ready for pick-up during the busy Saturday afternoon lunch hours after leaving the gym, made exactly how I wanted it, fit and filling, for a busy afternoon of writing, creating and blogging.

My Customized Panera Bread Roasted Turkey and Avocado NO BLT half sandwich on whole grain bread just 366 calories, plus a serving of baked chips and black coffee: Total meal: 496 calories

Until Next Time…Train Smart, Eat Smart




Professional Bodybuilding | It’s All Subjective 

Personal Reflections with Candice Maria


My personal reflections and views on competition and experiences in competing. One thing people must realize about my sport and the potential of being successful, or “going pro” in this  industry is that it’s all subjective to the opinions of a few people, the panel of judges one person stands in front of, who they are affiliated with, and what influence that affiliation carries.

3rd Place Open Figure - Class C - NPC Vulcan Classic
3rd Place Open Figure – Class C – NPC Vulcan Classic

Part 1: Becoming a Fitness Industry Certification Specialist

So you want to work in the fitness industry? You attend your first group exercise instructor certification workshop. You meet the person or persons leading the workshop, only to leave at the end of the day thinking to yourself “their job seems so awesome!”


Very few people realize the amount of time, patience, and financial investment it takes to become that “person” leading such an educational seminar of sorts.

The numerous hoops you jump through after you’ve become certified in your desired fitness specialty, then apply, audition,  and interview for the position to lead workshops for that particular certification.

The most cumbersome part,  is the apprenticeship. Before you can lead a workshop on your own, you have to prove that you can, through co-presentation with an established and experienced presenter.

Availability of workshops can be scarce or not fit your schedule, and often get cancelled last minute due to low registrations, so be prepared to hurry up and wait. This also continues once you gain your official examiner and/or presenter position as well.

The typical route to becoming a certification specialist is to first apply to become an examiner for the certification workshop you want to someday present. In this instance, if you also apply for the presenter position as well, you can utilize your check-off time wisely and finish your unpaid examiner check-off as well as practice presenting at the same workshop,  so on your next workshops visit you can get checked off on presenting and paid for examining the workshop candidates as well.


So before you begin to think it’s all glitz glam high life being a fitness educator, remember it can take as long as a year just to complete the application process, get scheduled at at your minimum two workshops for your presenter apprenticeship, or your one practice workshop for your examiner check-off, which is unpaid and not reimbursed, unless you are progressing onward through the presenter apprenticeship process, then at your second apprenticeship workshop you can serve as an examiner as well and receive compensation for it.

Part II: Working as a Fitness Industry Certification Specialist

As fitness education specialist, we also at times have to travel a long distance from home,  for a weekend, usually a day trip only or so, depending on the workshop length, location, and format, and put up with any and everything that could take place once we arrive. Issues can arise anywhere from rude staff and inadequate facilities,  to ill-prepared, unsafe participants that refuse to adopt company policies and philosophy,  as well as just being in an unfamiliar city for a day.

Luckily,  most of these extremes I’ve been blessed to not encounter,  but they happen according to fellow colleagues in the industry.

However,  at the end of it all, this role is very rewarding in that you have the opportunity to enrich the lives of pure strangers for a day and help them launch their dreams of becoming the best fitness professional they can be, with national credentials to boot. Something to be very proud of.

Until next time…I AM Candice Maria

Happy new year,  welcome Spring and everything else in between! So yes, my dear followers if you’re still out there hopefully, I have been on a writing hiatus since the new year began.  However,  never fear I am back!

A lot has changed in my life, improved, evolved,  etc.  hence even the website layout has and is still changing, not quite finished updating it yet,  but I am still the same crazy fitness fanatic and athletic health nut you’ve grown accustomed to hearing from every now and then!

So with that,  brace your timelines and newsfeeds over the coming weeks, this Chica has a lot to share! Yep about 3 months worth!

Until then. … I AM Candice Maria


The day I realized that it’s okay to skip the gym was a point of liberation.

Motto for my GymVacation

“If you ain’t been a part of it, at least you got to witness” ~ Drake


Since my competition season, this is a concept I have struggled with as I transitioned into my off season.

However, as of recently, my “no days off” mentality has really taken it’s toll on me. I became cranky, irritable, anxious, and down right angry all the time. Plus, I have began losing precious time from things that are equally if not more important in my life right now than my hours spent in the gym on my workouts.

Curretly, I am in the final stretch of my first semester of graduate school, studying Human Performance, Exercise Physiology,  and have a lot of stressful activities coming up and I want to finish strong. So I decided to take a “so what” attitude for a whole week as it relates to going to the gym. “So what if I don’t wake up at 5am, so what if I don’t drive 20 minutes across town everyday, so what if I don’t lift today, so what if I don’t get so wrapped up into my workouts that I spend three hours in the gym, so what if I don’t count my macros, or prep my meals the night before, etc.”

I have to tell myself these things because I have had to come to grips with being ok with taking a break so that I can focus on my studies 150% over the next couple of weeks until the semester break!

Is it an easy choice, yes and no. Yes, because my body is begging for the mental and physical break from the anxiety of keeping up with my training and dieting, and getting behind on my studies, that it has lead  to numerous stress induced binges. No, because the mere act of NOT working out scares me, so to counterbalance that stressor, despite not going to the gym to lift, I will still do regular bouts of lifting, cardio and yoga at home in the interim.


All in all it’s ok to skip the gym,when you need to reevaluate your priorities in life, especially when you’ve done you’re due diligence and worked so hard to reach your goals. You’ve earned that time to relax and regroup, so when you return, you’ll be stronger than ever!

Today marks one week exactly since I went on my Gym Vacation. I feel more rested, creative and productive, but know it’s time to go back soon. Can’t regress my progress.

So until next time. ..eat clean, train dirty, and rest often.



There’s just something about human movement,  movement to me is life, energy,  and growth.  A body in motion is a healthy body.  Stagnation symbolizes death, disease,  and the dying process. No other professional track have I found studies everything that gives life to my soul and ignites my passion than the following terms listed and defined below!

“Exercise is Medicine”




Exercise Physiology


Medical Research


Preventative Medicine


So I’ve embarked recently on a journey to earn my Masters Degree in  Health and Human Performance with a concentration in Exercise Physiology,  Thesis track.  After all the years I spent working as a Registered Nurse,  I realized shortly after becoming a fitness professional as a hobby, that what I was most passionate about nursing didn’t fulfill.


During undergrad all we learned was how to “treat”

“cover up” or “accept” diseases. Very little emphasis was put on prevention,  conducting research,  and the improvement of health naturally.  Basically finding solutions,  fixing problems, or administering skilled actions because “the doctor ordered it” like we were supposed to be brainless zombies that simply were supposed to do as they were told because someone said so, whether it was a doctor in the clinical setting,  or a textbook in the classroom setting.  However,  nothing truly was ever questioned from either source,  just that we were supposed to know that it was “evidence-based” information and decision making,  critical thinking as they called it. However,  what I wanted answers to never came out of those sources. I wanted to do more and be more! I wanted to push the envelope of tradition and so called “evidence-based” practice (EBP). I wanted a voice in the industry, a platform for change! I was tired of just accepting statistics! I wanted to change them!


I get awkward looks and comments a lot when I tell people I’ve left the nursing profession. Most only see the surface,  and say “what about the money you can make?!” Life is more than that to me! I want to be legendary,  if money comes with it great,  if not, I don’t care because I still left a mark on the modern medical industry, the health care community, and humanity as a whole and that my friend means more to me than being some mindless zombie with a meager paycheck.


So anyway,  off to a fresh new start and new beginning for the career I was intended to have.

“The only failure in starting over, is not starting at all!”