Monthly Archives: February 2016

Sweet Potato Cakes


This recipe is one of my favorite recipes to give to clients who are not big fans of eggs but are still trying to get protein into their diets in that form. Or anyone who loves using eggs for that matter.

I love this recipe because you can make it sweet by adding cinnamon or a sweetener of your choice or savory by adding garlic or cayenne pepper. The options are endless really.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 eggs
  • sweet (cinnamon and sugar) or savory (garlic, salt and pepper) seasonings

Directions:

  1. Peel potato
  2. Grate.
  3. Mix together with eggs.
  4. Choose seasonings
  5. Cook like pancakes.
  6. Enjoy!

 

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health hacks (you need to know) that have nothing to do with eating and exercise



It took me a really long time to find a balance with food and exercise and I now know that I was focusing on the wrong things all along. What to eat. How long to workout.

I was completely ignoring the most important piece to the puzzle – mindset. Before you roll her eyes and stop reading think about people you know and how successful losing and maintaining weight they have been on a diet.

With all the talk about what to eat and how to workout I find myself asking, does body change and weight loss have even have anything to do with food and exercise?

Well, yes, yes it does. Eat too much of the wrong foods in the wrong amounts at the wrong times and you will gain weight. Moderate your food with healthy choices and you should be golden.  Move more and exercise a few times a week. You know this right?

The thing is, it is just not that easy because we are ignoring the missing puzzle piece.

Food and exercise are important but it in itself is not the solution. You find the solutions to your problems when you start to look at what gets in the way of these things.

It has to do with the ability to say no when you need to say no (don’t eat that extra cookie) and yes when you need to say yes (go workout instead of watching the Bachelor).

The problem is there are so many limiting factors competing against you making a simple concept extremely challenging and complex. 

You know what to do, you just don’t do it.

Or you think you have to restrict foods and workout all the time and inevitably end up right back where you started like discussed in part one.

It’s not really about eating the perfect combo of foods, detoxes, diets, cleanses or food lists, it is about everything behind that from self control, emotions, habits behavioral patterns you have developed.

You never think to work on that stuff because that is never what you have been taught.  I know I didn’t. For years I thought it all was about food and working out, food and working out. But it was a vicious cycle that kept me with tunnel vision unable to focus on anything else. In todays third and final post I decided to breakdown what matters besides eating and exercise.

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Sleep & Stress Management.

We need to make good decisions more often and high stress and low sleep inhibit that.

Have you ever felt really sick one day from not sleeping enough the night before only to get a full night sleep and feel amazing? Point proven.

Have you ever had 2, too many martinis only to end up at Jack in the Box with a burger and fries? Lack of sleep shows similar effects on the brain as mild intoxication?

Have you ever had a hard day at work and walked straight to the fridge and snacked non stop from until bedtime? Stress could be the culprit.

If you can learn to focus on these two components alone you will be amazed at how much easier it is to make good choices when your heart is not racing and you are well rested.

Super simple solution:

A quick tip to help with high stress or falling asleep is this. Take 3 deep breaths. Inhale for a 4 count and exhale for a 4 count. These counts are not scientific as I made them up all on my own because the recommend inhale for 7, hold for some marathon of a time and exhale for 8, was just too much too soon. The point is to help slow your breathing to get into reaction mode.

Rely less on willpower and more on your changing your habits.

When willpower fails (which it will) your habits will take over, good or bad.

We think that willpower is the answer to our success and the more we use willpower (all our decision making through the day) the weaker it gets. Whether you are resisting candy at work or debating whether you should workout at 5 p.m., these decisions drain willpower.

No wonder we start off our days at our strongest and it slowly dwindles by the end of the day so we are snacking on jars of peanut butter  at night. Oh wait, thats me. 😉

Basically using more and more self control lead to losing more self control.

Us humans love habits so it is no surprise that our eating and exercise habits are on auto drive and therefore determining the outcomes with our body. While these habits can be very difficult to break, they can be changed.

Super simple solution:

Find one thing that you can improve on. It does not even have to be a complete makeover of the habit. If you drink 2 sodas a day, cut back to one. Add veggies at one more meal a day. Do 10 push ups and 10 squats for every new episode you watch on Netflix. Don’t think I don’t know about those marathons?! 😉 The point is not a drastic overall but one simple improvement at a time. Work on it until it becomes so easy you don’t even think about it.

Consistency & Patience.

Boring alert!  I know it is not nearly as exciting as doing a juice cleanse and seeing those first few pounds drop off the first day because you are putting your body in a state of restriction but consistency and patience is crucial to your physical and emotional well-being. The thing is when you do it right most people get frustrated because they do not see results right away and give up.

To do the work and keep going even when the it feels the results are invisible in the beginning.  It feels unfair. It feels like all your hard work is not paying off. You have been doing everything right and are still not seeing results.

All your previous choices have gotten you to where you are today. You did not gain or lose weight, get stronger or more flexible by what you did last week, it is by the choices you have made and the habits you have developed over the past weeks, months and years.

If you can learn to exhibit patience as you consistently make good choices over time, not only will your body thank you but so will your brain.

Persistence, Persistence, Persistence.

I love consistency but I like persistency more, and you might learn to as well. Consistency is doing the work. Persistency is doing the work even when it is difficult. It is sticking with it even when things are not going your way. It is continuing to endure the hard stuff and build positive habits over a long period of time. It is learning to get comfy with the process of doing the work on good days and bad days.

Could you learn to embrace challenges and difficult and learn how to overwork not having enough time in the day and be presented with your greatest temptation and overcome them?  Expect the challenges. Expect that things will not go right. Expect that this path will be tough and embrace it and learn from it when it is.

There is no super simple tool for persistence. What you do today and tomorrow and the next day will determine where you will be months and years down the road. Just like anything else though, you have to actually do the work to create change. You can and you will.

4 exercise strategies to implement today

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Our exercise world today is filled with buzz words like toning, long and lean, not getting bulky, and fat burning.  All these catch on like fire because they sound so ideal to what women want to achieve.

In a way it makes perfect sense. Burn calories and you will lose weight. Do longer cardio sessions and you will be in fat burning mode. Pulse your leg 100 times and it will create long and lean muscles like a dancer.

The reality is it is much more complicated that simply burning calories. You are not really burning chunks of fat off your body on long runs you are utilizing its energy stores and there is no way that you can change the origin and insertion of your muscle to actually lengthen your muscle to create the long and lean look.

I get it though. That is what people what people want and it is what sounds ideal.

So let’s take real and ideal and blend them together in a way that actually works.

It is so much more about simply burning calories.

In one of my favorite books series The New Rules of Lifting for Life rule number 14 says this. “Exercise burns calories. Sometimes that is a problem.”

Research on many studies show that exercise doesn’t always have the same impact on weight loss from person to person especially when put on a low calorie diet. It also shows that exercise alone is not the solution to weight loss. However many of the studies that report these findings define exercise as steady state cardio.

This can explain why people who go on marathon training programs in hopes to lose weight end up gaining fat. Steady state cardio can make people feel hungrier and crave more which ends up in overeating and erasing any calories burned during exercise.

Steady state cardio can also raise cortisol level and strip the oh so wonderful metabolically active muscle tissue we so desperately need to preserve.

Your body is also great at adapting, which sounds ok at first glance.

The problem with endurance exercise or steady state cardio is that your body becomes more efficient at it (running, elliptical, cycling). So the more you do it the better you get, which seems like a good thing at first but think about it like this. You are just starting out running 3 miles and burn 300 hundred calories. After months of training you now burn 250 because your body is more efficient so you are getting less out of the time spent.

So what do you need to do to get results? You need to do more exercise. At some point you will run out of time to keep up with these adaptions.

In addition your metabolic rate slows its response to both the foods you eat and the exercise you do so you are more likely  to regain any weight you loss.

Eek! This is not a good situation because at some point you will not be able to eat less or add more hours to the day.

Weight training is your golden ticket.

Not only are you building lean muscle mass and setting a strong foundation for your body you are creating different kind of demand on your body that allows you to increase challenge and energy production, not by adding time but by adding challenge with weights or intensity.

Even if you are chasing aesthetic results you be will surprised at how much you will gain in terms of strength, mobility, flexibility, independence, functionality, feeling more powerful, having more energy, building more confidence, accomplishing what you thought you could not, improving your health, and body change is just an added bonus.

Most people are far more capable than they realize they just don’t push themselves in the gym to their maximum potential.

Choose intervals that suit you best.


Intervals don’t always have to be running. They can done on any piece of cardio equipment or with exercise like kettlebell swings, jump rope, a series of air squat and push-up, whatever gets your heart rate up. The idea is that you work hard for a short period of time to the point where you are questioning if you can keep going and then recover and go again.

Most people don’t know or think about the body having energy systems that use both carbs and fats. When you go really hard for a 10 second sprint you are using carbs but when your body slows into recovery mode, you are using fats.

This can be the same with lifting weight to the point that it makes you breathless and you are unable to do the next rep. Work hard enough during you intervals and your body will stay in fat burning mode after your workouts as well.

In the end if what you are doing is working for you and you love it, are consistent with it and it makes you feel good, keep doing it. But if you feel like you are in a constant struggle or off and on, gain or regain, taking one step forward and two steps back, start to rethink your approach.

Is liking yourself a rebellious act?

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In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” Caroline Caldwell

I’m a rebel. A rebel in training that is.

I hope that you will join me as one too.

You see, I am a rebel in self-love. Not against self-love itself but against the idea that change is the only avenue to liking yourself. Against the idea that women’s bodies should look a certain way. Against the idea the outcome of what we do matters more than how we got there.

We are blasted with information on a daily basis about what exercises keep the thigh gap, what routine gets flat abs and how to lose 5 lbs by the weekend.

We live in a world that plays on women’s insecurities, self doubts and fears and profits off of it in fact, by the millions, only to keep at it coming at us with no end in sight. But does me pointing this help really even help the matter?

A couple years back a colleague of mine posted a question on Facebook about what viewers thought of the way bodies were portrayed on covers of magazines, in movies and in the media. I commented that I didn’t like it and it was a false portrayal of what women’s bodies look like in really life. She then challenged me in a friendly way, “But does it matter if you are secure with yourself?” Bam! No it doesn’t.

Could it be that the answer lies in a little bit of rebellion of actually liking yourself?

 

Of being more focused on the daily process of improving then the end result of getting more lean or shredded?

Could it be building self care into your daily habits?

Could it be spending time with people you love, exercising because you love your body not because you hate it, or eating healthier to support the thing you want to do in life.

Could it be empowering each other to self love and acceptance instead of supporting the attention of a society that  “profits on our self doubt.”

Listen, I really wish I could say I love everything about myself 100% of the time no matter what is going around me but that’s just not the case or the point really. I don’t always love my body. I don’t always love my choices. I don’t always love the way I look.  But I strive to be ok with me. I put up the fight to be ok with being myself.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”  e.e. Cummings

 

This is not a cop out. It is ok to accept yourself without accepting your current condition. You can still practice self-love, acceptance and enjoy the people and world around you. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines of your own life and wait until that one day when you will finally have the ideal body or life and finally be happy.

Have the courage to show up wholeheartedly and unapologetically without letting others take away all the unique qualities about who you are and what you have to offer. When you can embrace who you are and let go of who you think you are suppose to be you can truly begin to lead an authentic life.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen

 

Most of us just want to live our true authentic life. We want to step outside each day as we are and be real. We don’t want to play the games of trying to fit a mold and scramble desperately like we have it all together all the time.

We don’t want to reveal our self perceived weaknesses, inadequacies and failures because we don’t feel like it earns the acceptance and approval we are striving for.

It’s taken many years but you could say I don’t let trying to be perfect run my life. I don’t let society try to run myself and dictate what mold I should fit or what is beautiful or sexy.  Trying to be perfect at all costs is not really about trying to be your best and do your best, it is about associating those things with worth and well-being. It is about trying to do everything right so we can avoid struggle and judgement.

Your health is insanely important but the way your body looks as a outcome is not so much. I get it though. We all want to feel good in our skin, feel confident, like getting dressed because we feel proud of the way we look but learn to get addicted to and excited about the process of it all, not the outcomes.

So what is the antidote to trying to obtain perfection all the time. Self compassion. Self-acceptance. Self-love.

Perfectionist talk comes out in phrases like I can never do anything right, I am so fat, look at these belly rolls and cellulite, I am embarrassed and ashamed of how I look, I am not worthy, I will be worthy when I am different.

The opposite comes out in phrases like I am striving to be healthier, I can do this for myself, my body is important but the way it looks does not define me, I can love and embrace myself even while I am working toward change.

When it comes down to it you are doing the best you can. It is not an excuse but damn life gets crazy sometimes and you are just trying to do your best to navigate your way through it all.

Take care of your body but you are more than a body. 

If you have been looking for permission for self-love consider this permission granted.

I have the privilege of working with some amazing women in the fitness industry who focus on, encourage, and support this insanely, crazy idea of actually liking yourself. We are rebelling big time and hope you will join in with the #selfloverebellion.

Starting this week we are posting on all social media outlets on ways we are showing self love for ourselves which just may be against what society wants us to do. They want us to be doubtful and fearful, and yes make a profit.

We know better and won’t give into their schemes. We will rebel by embracing ourselves (different for everyone) and show the world what we each uniquely have to offer. Show us your quotes, quirks, exercise and foods you love, and why you have no reason to be doubtful or fearful. #selfloverebellion

diet advice to drop (+ what to do instead)

Without even realizing it we have been fed an overload of information throughout the years that has created mental constructs with the way we think about food and eating.

We have been taught that carbs are bad. Fats are bad. Eating at night is bad. Food is something to fear. Calories are something to fear. To eat less, to restrict.

All these concepts blend together and create a whole spectrum of emotions around food that influence our choices and habits. Yet many are still struggling.

Today I am talking about reworking thoughts that we have been fed (pun intended) over the years and how we can use these concepts to enhance our relationship with food and eating, not takes away from it.

We have been taught to fear food.

We avoid egg yolks red meat in fear that fat and high calories are the enemy.

We skimp on carbohydrates because they are “bad” and wonder why results don’t last.

We take out of the fat from our yogurt, label it fat free and add tons of sugar.

We replace sugar with artificial sugar and butter with margarine.

We fear potatoes and bananas as having too many carbs.

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You can have it all, but not in the amounts you want.

I fell into this trap years ago thinking that if I could just do more exercise and just eat less food that I would find success. I avoided butter at all costs. I turned to artificial sweeteners to give me my sweet fix. I thought carbs were bad. By the end of the day after my dreaded miserable 3-4 mile run I would eat everything in sight and go to bed and wake up in a state of guilt and shame.

There was no better option in my head to start the same way as I did the day before. Restriction was my golden ticket.

It did not make sense to wake up after a night of overeating and eat a moderate breakfast that make me feel happy and satisfied. I thought I didn’t deserve it. It didn’t make sense not to workout extra hard to try to burn off extra calories in fear of gaining weight.

After years of staying in this cycle I want to help others simply by helping break down where health and fitness went wrong.

Entire books are written on these topics but today I am sharing some perspective on where we went wrong with food. 

We turn to artificial sweeteners, fat free, and non fat.

This is the downfall of the diet world at its finest. Artificial sweetness can mess with our bodies and brains in a number of ways. They can trick us into feeling full, they can make us crave certain foods later on, and pretty much offer nothing nutritional for our bodies. Usually fat free and non fat take out the fat and add sugar.  Now check this out.

The book The Willpower Instinct address a subtle way that artificial sweeteners  contribute to overeating and weight gain. “The sweet taste tricks the body into taking up glucose from the bloodstream in anticipation of a blood sugar spike. You’re left with less energy and less self-control, while your body and brain wonder what happened tot the sugar rush they were promised. This may be why recent studies how that diet soda consumption is associated with weight gain, not weight loss.”

Aka: your diet soda and fat free food habit is not helping you.

We choose the wrong carbs in the wrong amounts at the wrong times.

We get caught up in removing all carbs, good and bad, because they get lumped together as sugar. Yes essentially veggies are a sugar when broken down to its simplest form as a bagel is broken down into sugar but the difference is that vegetables contain many nutrients for our body and often are higher in fiber and water. This has less of an impact on blood sugar levels. That’s a good thing.

But all of a sudden carbs are the enemy. It is not the carb itself, it is that we are choosing the wrong carbs in the wrong amounts. We fear healthy foods like potatoes and bananas, restrict carbs of all kinds and eventually end up indulging more than we want because our bodies are crying out for a little bit of love and attention.  I had a client avoid bread all day only to eat a pizza at night. Regardless of your thoughts on bread, doesn’t it make sense to eat a sandwich with two whole pieces of bread for lunch if that will help prevent you from overeating at night?

When it comes down to it, this is what you need to know about carbs.

Choose the right carbs (less processed varieties), in smaller amounts (the size of your hand when you make a fist), at the right times. Really there is no wrong time to choose a moderate portion of carbs, unless you know from your own experience that you do better rationing carbs at certain times. 

We fear fats and proteins.

I still hear people say that they are afraid that fat will make them fat and protein will make them bulky. The truth is too much fat will make you fat and too much protein combined with an intense 6 day body building split designed to maximize muscle growth with a surplus of calories may create more muscle on your body that some refer to as bulk.

Protein plays a huge role in helping with satiety. Helping us feel full. When the body processes protein it takes more energy than protein or fats. Plus when you eat more protein you need less carbs and fats.

As for fats simply start to choose healthier ones like eggs, meats, nuts, avocado and less of the ones found in prepared foods. Because of the high calorie content, yes you do want to limit them but not eliminate them.

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Before you resort to extremes simply try to be better.

We restrict foods.

Restriction is our go to method. That is what we have been taught especially when we overindulge. When we restrict food, we restrict nutrients. And when we restrict nutrients we restrict good nutrition for our bodies.

We don’t need to just eat less. We need to eat smarter. We need more good food and less junk food. Is there a place for pizza, cookies, and wine? Sure. But if you make those choices more often than not, in too high quantities you will gain fat, you will feel like you have less energy, and you will be offering your body less nutrients.

Learn to balance your caloric intake without going into starvation mode. And that starts with allowing a little more flexibility in your diet. When you decide to eat better, do just that. Don’t cut out foods that you know you will add back in some day. Find ways to stay satisfied so you are able to stick with your diet and not give in because you feel bored and deprived. Keep it fun, keep it yummy, and trust the process by exhibiting patience and persistence.

The thing is, what you do this week or month, whether that is overeat or not workout, shows up down the road. This can work for us or against us. Eat well and exercise and in months you will see results. Eating poorly and skip workouts and in months you will see those results as well.

It is tough to make change when results are invisible.  But if you want to make change you have to change something you do daily, even if the results are invisible at first.  Replace what you want now for what you want long term.