Happy spring, everyone! I know you are probably as sick of all the rain as I am, but let’s just look at it as a little extra time to prep our bods for bathing suits. I love that commercial on TV where the lady is putting away laundry and opens the drawer to see her bikini top and immediately looks like the deer in the headlights. Too funny. Hit home for anyone?

Well, this month I thought I’d reveal some of my nutrition advice in hopes of helping you get a little closer to bathing suit shape. Cool? It has definitely helped me shed most of my winter weight.

I recently discovered a great website called EXTREME FITNESS NOW. I posted that link in my Coolinks section at Be sure and check it out!

Anyway, the webmaster of that site, Lauren Bateman, did a ten-question interview with me, and I decided to use one of those questions as the main topic of this month’s newsletter. So, here it goes, it went a little something like this:

Question 3: What does your nutrition program consist of?

First of all I have figured out what my caloric intake needs are in order to maintain my weight. I do that through equations using my height, weight, gender, age, and activity level. My favorite online calculator for this is at

I then took those figures and monitored my weight on a daily basis. I personally found that the figures seemed a bit high for me. I want to lose about 5 pounds of body fat and I was maintaining on the fat loss figures instead of losing. So I cut that by a couple hundred calories and began to make progress.

I eat 5-6 small meals a day, dividing my caloric intake accordingly. I am doing this very subtly because I don’t want to lose my hard-earned muscle. So it is happening very slowly, but I am in no rush. My nutrition program varies from day to day according to how I am training and how I feel.

Plus, I live in the real world. As I stated earlier, I love to eat. I also am very against totally restricting any food from the diet; in other words, I am a big believer in planned cheats. Life is too short, peeps!

I also like to take in a bit more protein on the days I strength train. I take my total calories and divide the macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) into the desired percentages.

For instance on strength training day I may go with a percentage split of 40/30/30, respectively, and on non-strength training day go more with 50/30/20 or 60/20/20 or whatever. I switch it up. I pick a day or two a week and go very low carb.

I tracked it very meticulously for several months, writing everything down and checking macros, so that I know now without writing it down. I do suggest everyone diary their food, especially at first. You’d be surprised how many calories you are taking in that you forget or don’t count for whatever reasons. I was shocked at how much recording my intake revealed that I was taking in more calories than I thought I was.

I use the nutrition software that comes with my online training program at Straightforward Fitness HQ pardon the shameless plug. Check it out! It’s only 20 dollars a month and I design workouts specifically for your fitness goals and assign them to your very own calendar page that you can log into. The nutrition software that comes with it is very cool and it helped me immensely.

In summary, my nutrition plan is based on daily caloric intake and macronutrient percentages. Calories in and calories out. I’ve calculated my personal needs and through experimentation found what works best for me. I mix it up and throw in a dash of planned cheats and a lot of variety and healthy choices. I love food. It’s all good!

I grew up thinking that fat was bad and learned in the past few years that we need good fat and I had been throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. Now, I enjoy healthy fat and my health and my weight is much more stable to boot.

I try to eat organically when I can. I avoid processed food as much as possible, which is truly challenging these days. Anything that comes in a can, box, or bag is processed and you can bet that there is something in there that isn’t exactly healthy.

So what does this leave? As much locally grown fresh produce, veggies, and fruits as possible. Support your local farmers! Grow your own if possible.

I am not a vegetarian but I do avoid red meat for the most part. I eat ground turkey instead of beef. I eat chicken, salmon, tuna, fish, seafood, low-fat dairy, fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc.

I avoid white food and replace it with brown whenever possible, i.e., whole grain bread instead of white, baked sweet potato instead of regular, brown rice instead of white, etc.

To see this interview in its entirety, go to

I actually had to try to shorten the interview (imagine that) because I tend to go on a bit about this fitness stuff. So, what you will find at Lauren’s site is the shortened version. I will also be adding the longer version of the interview at in the coming days.


Also, Lauren and I realized that we share more than our passion for fitness. We are both singer/songwriters and you can click here to see her MySpace page and hear her music; so get on over there and check her out! She’s awesome!

That’s right, many of you may not know that I, too, am somewhat of a musician. Though I haven’t written or done anything recently with my stuff, you can give a listen to a few of my tunes by clicking here and the music should automatically begin to play after a few seconds. If not, scroll down to the music player on the left.


This is the part of the newsletter where I picture an exercise and give explicit instructions on its proper execution. What looks good in a bathing suit? A six pack, right? So, in honor of the ever sought after abs of steel, I thought I'd feature my advanced ab superset for the exercise of the month.

Primary Muscle Group Worked:
ABS. Upper, lower, sides, and everything from the ribs to the pelvis, baybee!

For a video demonstration of this exercise go to

Preparation: Set up both stations before beginning. Attach hanging straps to a high bar, and place Swiss ball in front of cable pulley with a rope attachment between knee and hip height.

Execution: Begin with hanging leg raises. Exhale as you slowly raise knees towards abs as high as you can. Raise your legs by flexing your hips while pulling your knees up until your hips are fully flexed. Treat this just like you would a crunch, exhaling as you raise your knees. Do NOT swing and use momentum. Go slow and focus on using your abs to pull your legs up. Return to the starting position. Repeat for desired amount of reps.

Next: Move right into the oblique hanging leg raises (not shown in pic), alternating twisting as you raise your legs from side to side as shown in video.

Next: Move quickly to the cable station and perform the resisted crunches. Exhale while slowly crunching your upper body forward and roll your shoulders towards your hips. Squeeze at the top! Then lower back to the starting position and repeat for desired amount of reps.

Finally: Finish off with the oblique cable crunches (not shown in pic), alternating twisting as you crunch. Repeat circuit 3 times.

1) Do these exercises with as little rest between sets as possible.
2) Exhale on exertion.
3) Practice makes perfect so keep trying!
4) The straighter you keep your legs, the harder the hanging leg raises.
5) Treat the hanging leg raises like a crunch, curling shoulders towards knees and exhaling, going slowly.

Try to control the swing when doing the hanging leg raises. Keep practicing! Follow my tips and directions till the burn makes you wanna cry uncle! You'll thank me when your abs are popping in your string bikinis and your speedos! Good luck!

Okay, peeps! This is the inspirational part of the newsletter known as the "Ponder Pond" where you're welcome to take a swim in the sweet waters of inspiration that can only come from things that make you go, "GET OUT!"

This has to be one of the coolest things I've ever seen. So sweeeeeeeeeet!!

That's it. No tears this month. But I did get a big ole honkin' lump in my throat. It sure makes you want to go hug a lion, doesn't it? Here kitty, kitty, kitty.

Well, that's about it for this time! I hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter and until the next issue, may the wind be at your back and improved health and vitality your new reality!

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please feel free to pay it forward to anyone you think would like it too. That is the best compliment you could ever pay me, and I appreciate it very, very much.

And don't forget to tell everybody about where they can get all the free fitness info their heart desires and sign up for this newsletter while they are there.

From my heart to your health,

Linda Burke, CPT

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