Category Archives: Nutrition

How to transition eating from diet to lifestyle

IMG_4143

Have you tried a diet before? I have. Quite a few actually.

Atkins for maybe 3 days. I was miserable and hungry and instantly knew it was ridiculous.

A detox. Made it only a day. Same result, same feelings.

The Slim Fast diet. Actually made it 2 weeks on this one, mostly because I did like the chocolate shakes.  I freaked out one night and wondered what I would eat ongoing if I didn’t buy the shakes. Again realized it was ridiculous.

The Clean Eating diet. This one seemed rather innocent actually, like most whole food meal plans. I was eating quality amounts of foods, often throughout the day. My hunger felt in control and my energy good enough. Then I realized I was scared to use ketchup, eat dessert other than my Sunday night treat meal, and was in pure agony trying to make food decisions at social gathering and at dinners away from home.

I know diets don’t work long term. Our country is screaming loud and clear that diets don’t work by  our health epidemic and food obsession and search for the one plan that will actually work. I have chats with friends and clients who know diets don’t work and then the next week I see their Whole30 post on Instagram. Sigh.

Diets don’t work long term but we try to do them anyways.

Here is the thing. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else says. If you feel a diet can help control your eating, benefit your health, or improve your life in some way, you are going to try it and experience it for yourself until you make up your mind. Which is fine. No judgements because everyone is entitled to their own experience.

Here is where I can help.

Today’s post is going to cover how to transition yourself off a diet so you can actually apply what you learned from it (because you probably did learn something even if it was that it didn’t work), continue to get results, and trust yourself around food without a meal plan, without a food list.

I am not a doctor. I am not a registered dietician. I have knowledge and certifications in nutrition and results but I am not here to diagnose anything or tell you what to eat, in what amounts, at what times.

I am here to share concepts and tools that can benefit you by relinquishing the need to be on a diet, on a meal plan, in control all the time.

The ideal end results? A lifestyle that is less obsessed around food, dieting, and quick fixes, a mindset that is in for the long haul, and a body that follows.

Here are 3 “food for thought” insights to help get you outta the diet mindset and into a lifelong way of eating, chocolate and wine included.

Food matters, habits matter more.

It matters that you eat quality foods in appropriate portions but this advice alone will not help you long term. It matters, but habits matter more.

Habits are not bad but they are tricky.They somehow emerge without your permission and develop without your knowledge.

Habits can be good because once they become automatic they require you to think less. The brain likes effortless. The key is to adopt habits that serve your life, your goals and desires.

Snacking at night is a habit. Even though you may not want to be doing it, it feels very easy for the brain and will take a lot of effort to break.

Playing with your dog or kids before bed instead of snacking is also a habit. It too can feel effortless and resisting that fridge will not feel quite so draining.

When you think of habits you want to change, think of ways you can improve them first. Be better before strict. You do not have to resort to changing everything.

If you constantly forget to eat breakfast could you just start by grabbing a yogurt on your way out the door instead of trying to make a full breakfast?

If night time snacking is your enemy could you allow yourself to have a banana and peanut butter or an egg and 1 piece of toast or something along those lines that feels satisfying?

It may seem like a lot but if you are going to snack your way until bedtime these 200 extra calories will be a huge improvement.

IMG_1018

Expose yourself to the food you fear.

Diets always have rules. There are always restrictions. There are always tools that keep us tracking something. Eat this, not that. Eat only 40% of calories from carbs. Count your calories and don’t go over. Count your calories to match your activity level.

I don’t think tracking is bad but I don’t think it is something that most can fit effortlessly into their lifestyle, or would want to fit into their lifestyle. In any sense this can become an obsession. There was a time when people didn’t think quite as much about what they ate and were much healthier and happier.

So instead of analyzing what you should and shouldn’t eat all the time, I challenge you to this.

Expose yourself to the food you fear. Are you scared that you will eat the entire pizza instead of just 2 slices? Are you unable to keep ice cream in the house because it will only last a day? Do you eat all the chips and salsa before your dinner arrives?

Chips and salsa use to be my kryptonite and I use to eat them all! I would get so upset with myself that I banned chips and salsa from my life not allowing myself to have even 1.

One day at a Mexican restaurant I wondered in my head if I was really going to never eat chips and salsa again and how depressing that felt based on my simple fear of no control. So I allowed myself a 3 chip rule, and whenever exposed would allow myself 3 chips but not a single one more. I did this for years. Now I can happily be presented with them and not only control  myself but not count either.

I eat knowing that a few will satisfy me and leave me feeling good physically (no bloating and being stuffed) and good emotionally ( not regret, guilt, or self shaming).

Give it a try. A piece of chocolate a day. A glass of wine mid week when you think you should only save a bottle for the weekend. Your favorite snack that you always go overboard on.

Set an initial number to follow and then see how it plays out over time. You may overindulge the first few times but don’t give up. Keep practicing until that food no longer has control over you.

Delay gratification.

The term delay discounting is a term and concept I learned from one of my favorite books on self control, The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, which states that the longer you have to wait for a reward (in this case food) the less it means to you.

Future food rewards don’t seem to mean as much to us humans as having the food right this very moment. Neuroscientists have actually studied this concept and when we put a delay on food our brain treats it like a future reward not immediate gratification. To put it simply it means less to us.

You can implement this starting this very moment. Whether it is avoiding donuts in the office or you are headed to the fridge after dinner: try waiting 10 minutes before you eat what you want.

Create some distance and remove yourself from the kitchen, the office, or cover up that candy jar calling your name. Once your 10 minutes are up stop trying to resist and see if you still want what is calling your name.

Or could you perhaps delay that another 20 minutes? Or all day?

Sometimes you may choose to indulge and that is ok but sometimes you may realize that your desires were more about having something instantly than having anything at all.

 

Listen, I get the temptations with diets. They fill us with hope. It feels like this time will be different. This will be the time when all your food struggles dissipate and you can finally have the food freedom and body you are seeking. You can envision the person you want to be come and set yourself up with very high expectations.

Committing to a diet makes us feel good before anything is even done and is often the most rewarding part of the process. I truly believe they can teach us what works or doesn’t work for our bodies but only you can learn through your experience.

If you do use a diet just to get motivated, have some control and direction remember the following:

Habits matter more than food rules and lists. Focus on habit change as much as you focus on eating healthier otherwise your old pattern will show up down the road guaranteed.

Exposure yourself to the food you fear so you are not spending your life in a constant battle with it. It’s fine to resist bread for a week but are you really going to avoid it forever?

Delay your desired food to test yourself to see if you really want it. This is a great tip you can apply anywhere.

As always would love to hear your thoughts.

 

The death of labeling food good or bad

I am confident that the death of labeling food as good or bad is upon us and I simply want to help spread the word. It’s not really the classification of the food itself that bothers me it is the emotional impact associated with food labeling, especially with women.

Classifying foods like this never really helped us anyway. Good just doesn’t represent a healthier choice it represents a strong control and an inherent self worth of being good enough. 

Bad doesn’t just represent a lesser nutritional choice, it represents a lack of self control and a lack of worthiness. Sure there are foods that are more nutrient dense than others but bad doesn’t mean off limits and good doesn’t mean a free for all.

Personally I remember ten years ago when I picked up The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook and within weeks I had eliminated all “bad” foods. Things like bread, condiments, anything with an ounce of sodium, anything with added sugar, desserts, and focused on “good” foods like fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, and ground turkey meat.

I didn’t even like the term cheat meals. Why was I going to intentionally eat “bad” food? On good days I was good and happy, on bad days I was sad and shameful.

Even with these rigid guidelines I could never find a middle ground. It was always on or off. Good or bad. I had months where I was able to adhere but any results I saw never felt worth it because it was always so stressful and consuming.

After years of focusing on moderation, mindfulness, and the mindset that goes with food labeling I now have a better understanding of why food labeling can push us towards poor food choices and away from better ones. Its completely fascinating and it begins like this.

IMG_6124

Fries, bacon, and chilli. So bad? Or just food?

Being good gives ourselves permission to be a little bit bad.

Or so willpower researcher Kelly McGonigal says in her book The Willpower Instinct. As humans, we like to moralize our choices. We like to feel like we are doing the right thing and making the right choices so we do our best to convince ourselves of that.

When we do something that we view as “good” like eat a healthy breakfast or choose not to skip our workouts we are actually more apt to make poorer choices or skip workouts at a later time because we let our good behavior let ourselves of the hook for  a later time.

It is almost like our good behavior cancels out our bad behavior and sometimes it’s not always something we are aware of.

There is a term in psychology called the halo effect in which we justify our choices, looking for any reason to give into temptation. In the dieting world researchers have even coined a term in relation to food, the health halo.

When we eat something “good” it subtly justifies an indulgence of something else.

Eating a salad makes it ok to eat dessert.

Adding vegetables on the side make pizza ok.

Eating appetizers only for dinner make unlimited alcohol not so bad.

Saying no to the bun makes it ok to have all the fries.

Good choices make the bad ones not so bad. However more often than not many of us would have been better off just ordering the cheeseburger instead of eating a salad and then eating all the appetizers, drinks and desserts that come along with it.

We lose common sense when we label foods as good or bad and look for any reason to give into temptation.

Moralizing choices can come in many different forms.

It can be viewed as what you could have done but didn’t.

I could have had 3 martinis but I only had two.

It can be justified in the fat free ice cream.

Well it is fat free so I can have more.

If can rewarding yourself with your workout.

I had a hard workout so I deserve a big meal.

Awareness is the first step of change.

This is a mental practice that begins in awareness. When I work with clients on changing habits I encourage them NOT to go crazy trying to change it at first because typically the harder someone pushes to change, the harder it will push back.  I have them start by noticing what they are doing when they are doing it and practice an internal dialogue. 

“Hey, I just worked out and I am crushing this meal because I feel like I deserved it. Interesting.”

Then practice shifting it to what the reality of the situation is. “I am not eating this meal because I have been good and I deserve it, I am eating it because it looks good and I am choosing too.”

The idea is with time and practice you will slowly started to notice that your food choices are not about you being good or bad, it is not about the food being good or bad, it is simply about what you are choosing to do.

Viewing it from this perspective takes away some of the power that food has over our emotional state and our need to give ourselves permission to give in. Eat a cookie because you want to, not because you deserve it.

In the end it is short sighted to operate in a state of thinking that we just need to be more strict and stick to virtuous foods that imply that we worthy of having it. Food is food. Some of it is way more nutritious than others but when we can stop thinking about it as some sort of moral licensing we can start to view food as what might be best for our health, goals, and state of mind. We can take our halos off and not give in to mind games that contribute to the food and eating struggle.

Easy Crockpot Chicken Chili

Thanksgiving week is in full effect and I while gratitude is a practice of mine all year routine, there is no doubt that I am reminded of if more during the holiday season. In today’s recipe blog post I have an easy crockpot chicken chili for you and will leave you with this.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault

Crockpot

Crockpot Chicken Chili

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Large Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1 can kidney beans (reduced sodium if possible)
  • 1 can black beans (reduced sodium if possible)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce(reduced sodium if possible)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of diced green chili’s
  • 1/2 packet of chili seasoning
  • A light sprinkle of cayenne pepper, or more if you like spice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Drain all the beans and diced tomatoes.
  2. Place everything in the crockpot and mix well.
  3. Cook on low for 6-7 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.
  4. Shred chicken breast with fork, when done, and mix.
  5. Sprinkle with a little bit of cheese if you desire.
  6. Enjoy. 🙂

The breakfast I eat almost every single morning

I am pretty sure I have this for breakfast a solid 200 days a year and that is my protein packed oatmeal which is essentially egg whites cooked in oatmeal.  I call it Egg White Oatmeal.

I know it sounds a little odd but this is the quickest breakfast ever and keeps me full for hours. It actually makes the oatmeal a little thicker and fluffier and you can’t even tell the difference. Plus there are so many options for toppings you can get creative and pair it with your favorite things!

I must add that protein at most of my meals and snacks in one thing that helps manage my appetite and keeps me feeling satisfied. I rarely, if ever, eat oatmeal by itself.

IMG_0166

Egg White Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of egg whites (I use pasteurized egg whites from a carton)
  • 3/4 cup of water**
  • Topping options are endless: berries, peanut butter, banana slices, coconut flakes

Directions:

  1. Combine oatmeal, egg whites and water and cook in microwave for 2 minutes ( watch for overflow).
  2. Mix, let cool, add toppings and you are done.

** It you want it thicker use more water if not use less. If it comes out like an oatmeal bake and that is not your jam, add more water.

Topping Pairings Bonus

  • 1 tbsp of cocoa, a sprinkle of your favorite sweetener, and raspberries or strawberries..
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter and a half of a sliced banana.
  • Mango slices and 1 tbsp of coconut flakes.
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder, 1 tbsp of dark chocolate chips, 1 tbsp of walnuts, and sliced strawberries.
  • 1 heaping tbsp of pumpkin puree, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.
  • 1/2 a diced apple, sprinkle of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of almond butter.

 

IMG_9153

yet another reason (ok reasons) to pick up heavier weights

IMG_4955

You don’t have to put on the big weights, simply start by challenging yourself more than you normally would.


Excited to announce that I am launching my 10 – Week Gym program Super Simple Super Sets  through Friday May 13th.  This program is designed with simplicity in mind, using supersets to progressively challenge the body, to maximize results over the course of 10 weeks, and beyond. Learn how to exercise smarter, get results, and stay sane.

Details and access here! 


You hear it all the time. Lift weights to lose weight. Lifting heavy will not make you bulky. It is not just for guys. Women can lift weights too.  Lift something heavier than your purse weighs.

And I bet sometimes you wonder why.  Does it really make a difference? Do I really need to lift weights? Do I really need to pick up something heavier?

You never have to do anything. I get that not everyone enjoys weight lifting, feels comfortable in that area, or is simply not into lifting at their maximum heaviest potential. Yet the benefits of weight lifting go beyond a certain type of look, fat loss, and simply being a workout.

Today I want to share with you a few you benefits you don’t always think about and why you might want to bump up the intensity in the gym and pick up a few more pounds, or ten, or fifty.

Improve your insulin sensitivity.

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas and when we eat a meal, for example, it responds by increasing blood sugar levels. It shuttles glucose (carbohydrates/sugar) from our bloodstream into our cells and is likely to be stored as fat if our liver and muscle supplies are full. It often is referred to as the storage hormone.

At optimal levels insulin has important functions but when it stays constantly high we run into trouble. It simple terms too much insulin release can lead too much storage in body fat which is seen by eating way too much and moving way too little .

In other words you want high insulin sensitivity and this is accomplished by having more muscle mass and doing activities that promote more muscle mass, aka strength training. When you lift weight you increase you insulin sensitivity and that is why it is recommended to eat close to post workout because you food will be shuttled to replace glycogen in your muscles first and not be as likely to be stored.

What we were meant to do.

Weight training mimics what we were meant to do. Labor. As humans, physical labor is part of what we have always done. Until the industrial and technical revolution slowly came in to play and we began to move less and less over time and rely on other people and things to do our work. From cars, to garage door openers, to tv remotes, to washing machines and jobs that require us to sit most of the day.

We need to labor, we just don’t in our everyday lives anymore so we need to create bouts of intense physical labor regularly. Not just a moderate jog on the treadmill or picking up 5 lb dumbbells. Use weight that feels challenging and makes you want to put it down.

IMG_3577

If you finish an exercise and think you could have done 5 more reps, select one weight heavier next time.

Keep your metabolism humming. I’m not just saying that ….

When we go through steady state cardio it can potentially strip our muscles and raise our cortisol levels, aka stress hormone. That is the last thing we need right? Chronic stress on our body after chronic stress in everyday life. Bouts of raised cortisol are normal and have their place but the more you keep stress high and do things that wear on your muscle mass, the less place you will have for storage of carbohydrates and the more likely it will get stored as fat.

Again find activities that promote muscle mass and keep your metabolism high. In article by  Alwyn Cosgrove The Heiarchy of Fat Loss he discusses how to maximize leanness with time being a limited factor and said that the best activity was this.

“It’s fairly obvious that the build of calories burned are determined by our resting metabolic rate or RMR. The amount of calories burned outside or our resting metabolic metabolism (through exercise and the thermic effect of feeding) is a smaller contribute to overall calories burned per day.

We can also accept that RMR is largely a function of how much muscle you have on your body – and how hard it works. Therefore, adding activities that promote or maintain muscle mass will make that muscle mass work harder and elevate the metabolic rate.”

To be stronger everyday.

There is nothing I enjoy hearing more than a client of mine who is a grandma and was able to get up and down on the floor to play with her grandkids. Or a 75 year old client who felt she could climb every step on her European vacation. Or the new mom who felt stronger and more balanced when carrying around her baby. Or my own personal experience of carrying in 10 grocery bags at once or picking up my own heavy stuff and when a guy offers to help I just respond, “No thanks, I got this.”

Strength is life. Healthiness is life. And the more we can contribute to being independent and doing activities we enjoy or need to do, the happier we will be. If you want to see change you must challenge yourself physically and mentally.

You can do hard things.

Physical strength translates into emotional and mental strength. You can do hard things. You can overcome the unthinkable. You can push yourself to do more than you think you are capable of.

Physical strength translates to emotional strength and the cycle continues to feed itself. You get stronger, become your confident, get even stronger and have even more confidence. And now because you have more confidence you push yourself more in your workouts, and build confidence again. The cycle continues and has a ripple effect in other areas of your life. Grab a heavier weight. Challenge yourself. Work exceptionally hard.

———————————————————————————–

Additional Readings:

Precision Nutrition: All About Insulin

The Heiarchy of Fat Loss  

3 huge mistakes almost everyone makes when trying to change their body


3mistakes

There is one major problem with the amount of health, diet, food, and fitness information out there. It is not working. Long term. Ironically conventional wisdom, common advice, and diets are keeping you struggling.  


If it were as simple as following a meal plan and exercising more, no one would be seeking advice. You can google 7 day meal plan right now, have the answers to what to eat and be well on your way to success. 

I get it. We all do it.

I personally bought my clean eating cookbook in 2006. Made my steamed brown rice, vegetables and chicken, and measured and ate the recommended portions down to the ounce. Packed my meals for out the day. Would go, go, go, and eat at the recommended times even though I wasn’t hungry or maybe craving something else. 

I would reluctantly walk through the door after a long day of work, lace up tennis shoes and miserably do a 3 mile run.

I be starving after my bland dinner and have just a few bites of leftovers. And then a spoonful of peanut butter. Then I wasn’t really hungry but would have a few grapes and maybe a cup of yogurt and that cookie too.

Then I would go to bed stuffed and sad and wake up and get back to my restriction the next day because that was THE day I would change be compliant.  Even worse I fed into my own belief that this was the only way to be successful. And I kept doing it.

I had become lazy and dependent, only knowing how to eat if it was what my plan said and only focused on burning calories in my workouts.

When everything changed.

About 5 years ago I had a huge transformation (mostly mentally and emotionally) when I learned how to stop making these mistakes I am about to share with you.

There is a big disconnect with health and well being and the way we think. For me personally, when I was fighting healthy choices, and trying to control them, it only seems to turn around and control me back. It not only prevented me from living in my right body, but it prevented me from living my right life.

Have you ever felt that way?

Today I am setting the record straight so you can stop making these mistakes and start focusing on the things that actually matter and will ACTUALLY produce results.

IMG_5581

Mistake #1 Relying too much on willpower and motivation.

There is actually research on willpower. Research that say we should stop using it as a tool for our self control

“If I just had more willpower and discipline I would do better,” I hear my clients say.

And I get it. We think willpower is an end all, be all choice, and if we are restrictive enough and just turn our back to things we want to resist, we will be successful. Did you know that willpower is not an endless source of energy and the more you rely on it, the harder it is to make the good decisions you intend to make?

Think of it like your cell phone battery. At the beginning of the day it starts strong and the more you use it, the more it drains. By the time you are home it is at 19%, barely holding on and now you have to make dinner and workout on energy that is barely holding on. No wonder it is healthy eating in the evening that people find most difficult.

The more strict and compliant you try to be, the more likely you will drain your willpower energy source and continue to struggle. Then we turn to motivation. The trouble with motivation is that is comes and goes. Those who are most successful do the work whether they are motivated or not. 

The key is to learn how to conserve your willpower, not rely on it. And to not rely on motivation, create it, even if that means showing up even when you don’t want to.

By creating positive habits and rituals in life you can learn how to make healthier decisions that are as automatic as brushing your teeth. The brain likes effortless whether those habits serve you or not.

Mistake # 2 Trying to burn more calories and eat less calories instead of building muscle and eat smarter.

 

Conventional wisdom says if we just eat less and less calories and exercise to burn more and more calories, the results will come. That is true to some extent except we have been conditioned to take it to extremes. Extremes that fail us over and over again. Though it has been conventional wisdom in the past we seriously need to reconsider this framework if sustainable  (and healthy) body transformation is the goal.

For me personally, I could care less if someones heart rate monitor says they burned 1,000 calories in a hike or 777 calories in a workout class.  Calories burned are not the concern. I care that you are creating a strong, functional body and not screwing up your metabolism.

I care that you go home and eat a dinner that is healthy, satisfying and does not erase all your hard work.

Here is the thing with doing too much cardio and drastically reducing your calories. Your body adapts. You drop your calories, your body adapts. You do more cardio, your body adapts. You stop seeing results, you eat less. At some point you can’t do more exercise or reduce your calories.

When you are doing excessive cardio you burn through your carb and fat stores, strip your muscles, raise your cortisol levels, and in turn slow your metabolism and stress your body. Your body responds by making it easier for you to store fat for your next long workout expenditure. With a low calorie intake at the same time you body freaks out because it starts to miss out on key nutrients and is not sure if it will have enough energy to survive. It leans toward more fat storing.

When you overindulge, which you will at some point because it is life and you can’t sustain restriction, your calories above that baseline metabolism that you now have created for yourself will be more likely to go to your fat stores.

What is the answer? Exercise smarter and move more. Eat enough to fuel your activity expenditure.

Keep your body strong and functional and your metabolism revving by lifting weights. Eat enough to fuel your body in return. We were meant to work in shorter more intense activities. We were meant to walk, to garden, to labor, to build, to climb, to play, to move. 

IMG_5580

Huge mistake #3 Justifying your commitment to health

 

It is human nature to excuse, blame and validate our own feelings and thoughts to make ourselves feel better. We like to give away our healthy choice power even when the cost is our health. It makes us feel better if responsibility is not on us because it helps minimize our own pain. I get it. We all do it.

It is my friends birthday so I had to have cake.

I worked out so I deserved to eat a huge meal.

I had to eat that pizza because I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Here is a concept for you to try. Starting taking responsibility. For everything. In your relationships, in your job, in your daily routine and with your health! Even if you think it is someone else fault or there is a reason getting in the way, taking responsibility helps you find  solutions and you solve problems.

When you start to do this, you realize how much power, choice and opportunity you do have! Face you truth right now!

Our bodies DO NOT define our self worth but they do house these amazing souls that contribute to the world each and every day and I believe that health, wellness and fitness is a catalyst to so much more.

Untitled design (1)

When you start feeling better mentally and physically, other areas of life start changing as well. You may feel better, eat better, stress less, spend less, relax more, contribute more, help more. A simple transformation in your health can trigger changes in other parts of you life too and have a ripple effect beyond what you think you are capable of. 

I teach all this and more to my email list. How to exercise smarter, make better decisions with food and create sustainable and sane change. For more insights on a weekly basis and to snag your free cardio guide on how to shorten your cardio sessions but still get results snag your spot here: http://bit.ly/sscardioguide

3 must have protein smoothies

Well according to me that is.

Sometimes protein smoothies and convenience bars and foods get looked down on because they are not the healthiest of choices. And i am not saying that they are healthier than vegetables but I am saying that if using these things can help you make healthier choices in the big picture, it is not so bad.

IMG_5844

And for me personally,  they help because of convenience, the taste and the satiety they give me. Notice I said nothing about excluding bananas because they are high in sugar, how whey protein is the enemy or because processed foods are the enemy. Are they the ultimate choice of the gold standard for the perfect health food? No. But can they be used in moderation as part of a healthier diet? Sure.

So with that, here are 3 yummy protein shakes that I am loving right now. (Note. I am a fan of green juices and smoothies in addition to meals or snacks, but when it comes down to it, it breaks down into straight sugar so that is why I am an advocate of adding protein and or fat to my drinks).

Almost Fall Pumpkin Smoothie

 

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
1 cup pumpkin, unsweetened (canned or fresh)
1 banana
1 cup mango
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Blend spinach and almond milk until smooth.

2. Add remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

IMG_6184

Chocolate Coconut Almond Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of unsweetend vanilla almond milk
  • 1 TBSP of almond butter
  • 1 Serving of chocolate protein powder of your choice
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • Ice
  • Coconut Flakes to top

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Top with coconut flakes.

Pineapple Avocado Protein Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 cup of frozen pineapple

Directions:

1. Blend and enjoy!

What should I eat pre and post workout?


As always, let’s keep it super basic because unless you are training for some endurance event or are training to step foot on stage as a figure model, this stuff does not need to be complicated.

More often than not I see people skipping their pre and post workout nutrition and this is a huge mistake in terms of recovery and how it could affect your goals long term.

If you skip either, you may find yourself dragging during the workout, find that it is harder to recover after your workout (more soreness and fatigue), have low energy and high hunger and cravings.

My general rule is

postworkout

Pre workout

Keep it small and eat at least an hour before you workout. (See below for working out first thing in the morning).

If you eat breakfast at 8 a.m. and your workout is at 10 a.m. you are probably fueled enough to not worry about having an extra snack. If you eat at 7 a.m. and want to workout at 11 a.m., I would suggest having something small around 10 a.m. Here are a few examples.

An egg and toast.

Greek yogurt and fruit.

A protein bar or shake with fruit.

Post workout

Post workout is what I see skipped most often because sometimes it seems so wrong to eat after your just worked so hard to make progress. But this is completely the wrong mindset. Post workout nutrition is so important because your muscles are ready to be replenished so it is the PERFECT time for protein AND carbohydrates! If you are fearing carbs do yourself a favor and have them at least post workout, even if you skimp on them during other times of the day. It is also a great time for protein to help build and repair your muscles. By skipping this you are potentially hurting your recovery which in turn can  prolong getting results.

Your post workout fuel could be the same as above but maybe just a little bit more volume. If you need numbers start to play around with 15 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs. One reason protein shakes work well here is because you don’t have to think a whole lot. One scoop of protein, some fruit and maybe a bit of honey and you have everything you need. Taking post workout nutrition in a liquid form also helps your body access fuel easier and is a good choice for those who don’t have an appetite right after exercise.

When it comes to timing throughout your day, if you are working out at 5 p.m. and plan to have dinner after your workout that is perfect. When my schedule allows, I like to workout before I eat a meal. That is not always the case though, so  I rely heavily on post workout snack and shakes in between.

I hope this helps and here is some more information, with my take, on these commonly asked questions.

What are supplements and should I take them?

Supplements are products that essentially supplement your nutrition and I don’t really ever recommend them to my general clients who are looking to lose weight or just stay healthy. Could they help? Potentially. But are they required? No. For example what would a pre workout supplement do? It may be designed to increase energy, hydrate your body and prevent muscle breakdown. But couldn’t you get those things in a cup of coffee, a bottle or water and some eggs or chicken.  I may recommend protein bars or shakes to my clients if it is convenient for them and they enjoy them. See below why I don’t think they are the end of world.

Does my meal the night before affect my workout the next day?

This is great to consider, if you have not before. For me personally, I can 100% tell the difference if I eat carbs the night before for dinner or if I simply stick to protein and veggies. So in my experience, I know if I want to hit the gym hard the next day, I need carbs in my dinner the night before. I know some people who this is not true for but it is worth experimenting if you notice a pattern of having low energy.

What if I workout first thing in the morning?

Following what I said in the previous answer, I can get away with not eating first thing early morning if I have a dinner high in carbs the night before. If I am waking up and walking out the door to workout I may have a banana or protein bar, I may not. I really pay attention to what my body needs. Some people can not stomach anything first thing in the morning and have great workouts. It is highly dependent on your preferences and your body. Start to notice your patterns and if you are unsure of what to eat, start with something small, like a few bites of a protein bar, a little bit of greek yogurt and fruit, and see how it affects your body.

But I thought protein bars and protein shakes are bad?

The whole food gurus may frown at my answer but  I am totally ok with protein shakes and bars here and there. Is it the absolute best choice, with the purest ingredients? No. BUT if it helps make your food choices easier then go for it. The goal is to not to have to put a lot of effort into your food choices and there are much bigger rocks to worry about. Sometimes for that very reason these types of supplements can actually help you make progress because of the convenience factor.

Notice your patterns, eat foods you like, and that fit easily into your schedule and start experimenting with what pre and post workout foods work for you.

What I eat everyday


You know how when you read a magazine and it details what a certain celebrity, model or athlete eats everyday? I can’t ever remember reading what that person ate when they were out partying or at their friends birthday party or grabbing appetizers during happy hour. It is usually what they typically eat on their “ideal” day. Probably emphasized a little bit to impress you too!

So while I am giving you what I eat on a typical day, remember this is what I eat on a daily basis, and I will adjust accordingly for holidays, birthday parties and social gatherings.

One key factor. I like the way I eat. The foods I choose taste good to me. I don’t dread them and if I am having a chicken and vegetable aversion (which I do from time to time) I simply choose something else. But I find I tend to eat very similar foods on a day to day basis and change it up on days when those foods just are not my jam.

But first coffee. I love my everyday ritual of a cup of coffee with cinnamon and almond milk.

IMG_8213

Don’t be afraid to stick with what works, if you enjoy it. My breakfast is almost always the same. If it is not some sort of eggs/veggie scramble and toast or potatoes, it is oatmeal, egg whites, peanut butter and some sort of fruit.

IMG_9153

I do a lot of meals in a bowl. For my lunch, to take to work, I often have sweet potatoes and or rice, roasted brussels sprouts or some sort of vegetable and some type of protein (chicken, ground turkey, lean ground beef). Just mix, season, and enjoy.

 

IMG_8428

For dinner I usually make a big chopped salad with cabbage, spinach, onions, peppers, mushrooms, whatever I have on hand. Then I will add chicken, rice and avocado on top. Depending on the flavor I might add a smidgen of BBQ sauce and tortillas strips or a bit of cheese or slivered almonds. Just depends on the combo.


IMG_8080

 

I used to always skip or delay my post workout meal but I now realize that it is one of my most important meals of the day, if I workout. It help replenish my needs and recover my body. It is now a must!  I usually use some type of protein powder, almond milk,  spinach, frozen cherries and/or a banana, and cocoa powder.


IMG_7497

One of the biggest keys for me is to keep it convenient, food prep to  a minimum and have my food be enjoyable. Along with these pictures are most likely a few extra bites of food, perhaps a swig of juice, a piece of dark chocolate, maybe an additional piece of fruit and a few bites of my mans food. 🙂

 

5 ways to control hunger

IMG_9206
“My diet is going great! I am just starving all… the… time.”

Words from my client, in which we had a giggle over, and then following by a mini perspective session. Because I have been there before, but also learned you can only go around starving all the time before you finally give in and just say screw it.

You may know from my blogs that in college, during spring training for volleyball I might add, I did the Slim Fast mean plan. Shake for breakfast, shake for lunch and a sensible dinner.

Had to take a brief typing pause to put my hands over my face and shake my head. It’s okay because it was a true learning experience and one of the main reasons I lean toward a mindset based  philosophy in creating healthy habits over writing meal plans for people.

I had the same feelings as my client had. It wasn’t too bad. I liked the chocolatey shakes, I was just starving all… the… time! I couldn’t wait until dinner because the food tasted sooooo good! My willpower held up for a solid month until I had a panic one day.

Am I suppose to buy these shakes forever? What will I do when I don’t have them? Just like all meal plans or strict diets and guidelines I had a false sense of comfort. It felt good to be in control but I was left without the tools necessary to continue. Lesson learned.

Keep in mind there is a middle ground. You do not have too either be starving or indulge completely. You can keep your hunger in check in a way that leaves you feeling like you can trust yourself to make good food choices on any given day.

Here a few tips to help control your hunger so it doesn’t feel like it is controlling you.

Do less steady state cardio.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is doing steady state cardio for 30, 45, 60 minutes plus. Some are able to control their hunger, others struggle big time.

If you notice a pattern in wanting to eat more after longer cardio sessions I strongly encourage you to try a new way. Choose shorter, more intense cardio sessions, and strength training as they create a different hormonal response which will effect your hunger and craving in a more preferable fashion. Less hunger. Less cravings.

 Eat more protein.

While I do not encourage over consumption of protein, I am a big believer that protein should be included at most meals or snacks during the day as it is incredibly satisfying. I see people make the biggest mistakes at breakfast choosing cereal, muffins, or yogurt high in sugar.

This will cause a quick spike in blood sugar levels and a quick drop leaving you hungry and craving more. Adding protein will help slow the digestion and slow the spike in blood sugar levels.

Back off the artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners can sometimes cause you to crave more of the sweet stuff.  This is often the case with diet soda drinkers or low calorie drinks. Though you may feel full temporarily they trick your body into feeling full until your true hunger kicks, your body realizes it is missing calories and causes you to eat even more.

Balance your fat and carbohydrate intake.

As in make sure you have enough of both. This is one that will take a little bit of experimentation on your part. I have seem some people do really well on higher fat, lower carb diets and I have seem some people do better on slightly higher carb and lower fat diets.

The main point I want to emphasize is do not be scared of either. I personally do better when my carb intake is slightly higher. I went through a phase where I tried to limit my carbs at night, only to overeat before bed time because my body was craving for more.

Once I added in a small portion of carbs I was able to control my hunger and cravings better AND sleep more soundly. You must be the detective and investigate to see what works for you.

Eat less processed foods and more veggies.

Vegetables contain more water and fiber and will keep you fuller longer. Plus they are full of tons of vitamins and minerals that play a crucial part in your health.

Processed foods are designed to taste good. They are loaded with a combination of fats and sugars that our tastes buds just love and keep us coming back for more and more and more. Plus they are often high in fat or sugar, or both, and low in fiber and protein, therefore are not feeling and leave us feeling never satisfied. Ever try to eat a plate full of broccoli? But a bag of chips? Box of cookies. It is so much easier to overindulge.

Keep in mind that hunger is not inherently “bad” but you do not need to feel starving all the time to make progress.

Feeling starving all the time does not indicate success and feeling satisfied does not indicate failure. Keep on practicing and you will find what works for you.

In the mean time grab the free  Ideal body Cheat Sheet which I created to help you learn how to make progress without being stuck to rules and restrictions.

Additional resources here, here, and here.