Pumpkin Cheesecake and Push Ups

It’s been 8 days since Brendan left for Ranger School and I have been keeping up with my push-ups–We all have! Quickly, I just want to say a quick thank you to all my close family and friends who have been sending me their push up videos. It means so much to me, and I know when he sees all the support he has he’ll be blown away! And for those of you who are waiting until the push ups are at more strenuous numbers, I can’t wait to see the videos.

Aside from all that hard work, I’ve been happily slaving away in my kitchenette testing out a few different concoctions. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the screw ups, but I couldn’t help but get into the spirit of Fall by putting a bit of pumpkin into every recipe I made. From pancakes to pumpkin cheesecake, and then a pumpkin milkshake–I have definitely been enjoying myself!

Now I’ve been asked my some how I continue to stay on track when there is all this fabulous food around. To be honest, at one point I couldn’t. Well I did, but I was miserable. My first competition diet was strict and I only ate 1200 calories–you don’t have to tell me, I know, that is so little. (FYI, I didn’t count my veggies.) Nevertheless this time around I have made my diet a lifestyle. I have kept in gluten, dairy, and whenever I want something I make a healthier version calculating my macro nutrients carefully so that everything is accounted for. It isn’t easy, but I’ve had such a great time coming up with recipes that my whole family can enjoy. Making my diet enjoyable (and eating quite a bit more) has left mind at ease and keeps me constant…and most importantly (to me) I’m keeping that hard earned muscle on me! Although my diet is stricter than most, I do have some rules I live by in the off-season:

1) Every meal should contain protein: turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, steak (only twice a week), 2 protein powder scoops

2) Eat fibrous carbs whenever you like!: Carrots, squash, spinach, green, yellow and red peppers, kale, broccoli, green beans, and mushrooms

3) Eat healthy fats 3x a day: 1 tsp of flaxseed oil, .5 avocado, nuts, edamame

4) Eat Starchy carbs with every meal (if you’d like–you don’t have to) except after 6/7pm: Sweet potato, brown rice, oatmeal, Ezekiel Bread

5) Eat fruit only in the morning, before and/or after workout.

6) Avoid processed foods, sugar, and sweets…and make your own variations of whatever “junk” food you crave

7) Drain fat from meat when cooked

8) Drink a gallon of water each day!

There are many more basic rules that I try to live by, but these are a few to get started in the right direction. It’s amazing when you just make a few changes to your diet how much more your body can grow. I recently gave these rules to a friend of mine and in a matter for a few weeks he had dropped 6lbs! Very proud of him!

Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 lb of fat free cream cheese

2 Egg Whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 TBSP Cinnamon

1/4 Cup of Almond Milk

1/2 Cup of Truvia

1 Cup of Pumpkin

Optional: 2 Scoops of Vanilla Protein Powder


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. Spray pie pan with non-stick cooking spray

4. Pour ingredients and cook for 45 minutes

5. Let Cheesecake cool in fridge for 4 hours

6. Cut into 6 slices. Enjoy!

Damages for 1/6 of pie:

Without Protein:

93 Calories  8g Carbs  0g Fat  12g Protein

With Protein:

135 Calories  9g Carbs  1g Fat  20g Protein

Get going on those push ups!

Pumping Iron with a Dash of Cinnamon

Good Evening Fit Junkies (and people I love, oh so much!)

It has been a hectic few weeks and I was surprised to see that I was already 7.5 weeks out! (If someone could figure out how to make time stand still, please let me know!) It’s been a month of change and all sorts of excitement for the Guss Family, and with everyone dispersing at the end of the summer I am saddened that our time together is coming to an end. My mom, who decided to finally pursue her dream of getting a degree, went back for her third year at Windward Community College, Madison has declared a major in Graphic Design while she continues her jewelry and design business (if you need a gift for a friend or yourself, she has beautiful work—I’m her walking mannequin), Zachary has just moved to Japan for his fall semester in Tokyo, and my dad lucked out having me as his right wing (wo)man at his company. It’s like bring your child to work day…but EVERY day! It’s been great to spend one-on-one time together, and nothing beats morning car rides talking about life.

With everyone getting down to business, I have been keeping up with my 4:30AM lifting regimen and lunchtime cardio. Last week, I had quite the scare as every time I stood up I would start to black out. This wasn’t while I was lifting, but once I started to get into my day I couldn’t stand up without holding on to a piece of furniture. Trying to figure out what I was missing in my diet, I came to trace it back to an iron deficiency. During my last competition prep I ate red meat at least once a week, and since moving home (where I cook whatever everyone else will eat) I completely cut out any sort of red meat from my diet. Since I do eat very clean and get all my vitamins and minerals in daily, I was surprised to have such a drastic change in my body. I put my iron hypothesis to the test and went out to have a steak…my mouth still waters at the thought. Ever since then I haven’t had any blackouts and my energy level is back up to normal. Thank goodness!

Over the weekend I finally started baking again (which is very hard to do while your house in under construction) and came up with my scrumptious Cinnamon Protein Bread. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome, and also since receiving my NEW dehydrator in the mail, I’ll be in our semi-functional kitchen making cinnamon jerky and cinnamon bread at all hours of the day.

I’d give up sleep to be hanging out with my dehydrator—that is how excited I am! Anywhoooo, the recipe for the Cinnamon Protein Bread:

Cinnamon Protein Bread Recipe


3/4C of Oat Flour (Can be made by grinding up oats)

4 scoops of Vanilla Protein Powder

1/2 Cup of Truvia

1 TSP of Baking Powder

1 TBSP of Cinnamon- I love cinnamon in everything I eat!

1/2 Cup of Non-fat Plain Greek Yogurt

3 Egg Whites

You’ll need Non-stick spray and 8×8 pan.


1. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. Mix dry ingredients (Oat Flour, Protein Powder, Truvia, Baking Powder, Cinnamon) in a large bowl. Stir!

3. Slowly add in Greek Yogurt then Egg Whites. Mix well.

4. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mixture into pan, then put into oven for 12 minutes.

5. When cooled, split the pan of Cinnamon Bread into 8 pieces. (Yes, you’re portion is going to be huge!)

The Damages:

Calories per Square: 125 Calories  Fat: 2g  Carbs: 10g  Protein: 18g  Sodium: 62mg

Aside from the cooking and cutting (diet), I am heading back to Georgia to say good-bye to Brendan one last time before he heads to Ranger School. He will be graduating from IBOLC (training) next Thursday, and has been working hard to physically and mentally prepare for the next 61 days of his life (xx crossing my fingers xx).

Brendan is on the right!

Since I know some of you don’t know what Ranger School entails, it is an intense 61-day combat leadership course, which has been called the “toughest combat course in the world.” There are three phases (of hell), which include food and sleep deprivation and an average of 20-30lbs lost. If you’ve ever met Brendan, you’d know that he doesn’t have even 5 lbs to lose! The graduation rate is about 50%, including the cadets which recycle and go through each or one of the phases again. To make matters worse (for me!), we won’t be talking except for the 8 hour break he gets between phases. AHHHHH, I couldn’t hate the situation more, but I’ve been staying positive and strong for the both of us. Due to all his hard work and perseverance through school, I have decided to commit myself to 61 days of push ups. For each day he is in the field I will match him with push ups. For example, on day 44 I’ll do 44 push ups (on top of all my training). I am not sure if I will take a break during my reps, but I will do my best to complete each daily set without stopping. By the end of the 61 days, we will both be stronger physically and mentally, and ready to take on our next adventure. If you’d like to join me for my 61-days of push ups or even commit to another exercise that challenges you, we start on September 10th!

Here was this morning’s LEG workout:

5 minute warm-up on Rowing Machine


Seated Leg Curl

Leg Extention



Walking Dumbbell lunges


Lying Leg Curl


Stiff Legged Dead Lift


Leg Press

Calve Raises


8 Weeks! Bring it On!