Voices of Reason

A super short post tonight to kick off 2016. Hope you all like it!

While having lunch with a friend of mine, she remarked, “Michelle, I hear your voice in my head every time I think about my diet. You said something that has stuck with me over the years: It’s not all about cardio and exercising all the time. Your diet matters more.”

I was telling her this while I was training for my bodybuilding competition. It’s something I have told clients repeatedly and most of them listen to me. But some still don’t believe me.

While exercise and working out is important for overall general health, it’s not the end all be all. What is most important is what we are feeding our bodies. What do we consider our fuel?

What do we shop for at the grocery store and put in our cart as the “best” we can do for ourselves and our families?

What do we consider a “once a year indulgence” and is it really worth it?

It’s interesting that my friend hears my voice in her head. Because I hear voices in my head (it’s healthy, I swear) from people in my past that have said similar things that have stuck with me.  A few that I think are worth sharing:

  • “Don’t focus on the number, (your weight, the weight on the bar, number of days, number of weeks you’ve been trying this) focus on the task at hand and conquer THAT.”
  • “If there’s a food or snack that you know isn’t all that healthy, why do you keep buying it?” (and if you say it’s for your kids, why isn’t their health as important as yours?)
  • “Not every occasion/get together/event is a reason to EAT something.”
  • “Start working out before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it.”
  • “If you’re tempted to eat that garbage food, think about how you felt the last time you ate it.” (Garbage in…garbage out)
  • “You’re not supposed to feel guilty if you screw up. Guilt is for criminals. You just made a poor choice. Choose wisely next time.”

And the most important voice…

“Sleep trumps all. So get plenty!”




An Apple Versus A Doughnut: How Science Helps Me Avoid Junk Food


Back when I started studying to become certified as a Personal Trainer, I came across an article that sparked something in me.

Ever have that feeling? Have you ever read something or saw something or heard something that struck a chord in you or resonated with you in such a way that you never looked at anything the same way again?

Yeah, for me, with regards to junk food, it was this article.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you I hate science. I’ve never had a knack for understanding science, math, chemistry, pretty much anything with numbers and letters. 😉 But food? I understand food.

So when I read this article, I remember thinking it was a tad too “science-y” and so I had to read it about 3 or 4 times to truly get it. For those of you who aren’t into this whole biology thing, I have summarized the main takeaways. My point with today’s post is that perhaps those of you who are addicted to things like donuts and all around crappy foods and can’t seem to stop, maybe if you READ or UNDERSTAND how these foods differ, you’ll be more likely to make the healthier choice.

  1. An apple contains good nutrients like Vitamin C but also has calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin A and a healthy dose of potassium. An apple skin contains a compound called quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that reduces cardiovascular risk.  The flavonoids and phytochemicals that it contains seem to help fight against cancer. AND the skin contains lots of fiber, which helps to improve bowel function and reduced cholesterol absorption. Woohoo! Lots of good stuff right??
  2. A doughnut contains none of these nutrients.
  3. The doughnut is loaded with saturated fats, trans fats and refined sugar and is largely devoid of any nutritional value, other than energy, which it has in abundance.
  4. The digestion process of the doughnut is quite lengthier than the apple. Healthier fats generally are absorbed via the liver, whereas saturated and trans fats pass through the villi and are converted into triglycerides, the main form of fat storage in the body. They are also coated in cholesterol (from the liver) and hence the fats in a doughnut will raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol and reduce the good (HDL) component.
  5. Trans fats do even more damage. They have been shown to wreak havoc with the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol and massively increase your risk of heart disease. They also get into the outer lining of our cells, causing them to harden.
  6. We shouldn’t be too harsh on the doughnut, some of their trans-fat containing friends are deep fried foods, such as French fries, cakes, cookies, biscuits, some breads (especially croissants and pastries), processed foods (especially pies, sausage rolls etc), snack foods (potato chips, some muesli bars) and margarine.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t had a doughnut since reading this post back in 2008. But I can honestly say I know I have had 3 in the past 7 years. Why? When I was presented with the option of having one, I ALWAYS remember this article. Like I said in the beginning, it was one that resonated with me. Maybe it will make an impact with you or someone you know that you think MIGHT take Doughnut Sunday at church just a little too far. 😉

As for the progress that’s been made since this article came out, the USA has taken steps to ban trans fats in most foods so it’s not as popular as before. But you can bet not ALL those popular doughnut chains are trans-fat free. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows companies to round down to 0 g in its nutrition facts label even if the food contains as much as 0.5 of a gram per serving. Some popular donut companies use the words “Trans Fat Free!” in their advertising legally even though they DO in fact, contain trans fats.

That’s just an FYI for you. I’m not the food police but trans fats are not something anyone should be eating on the regular. If you care about your body and your health, take the time to research what you’re eating.

In good health,


P.S. I recently did a consult with a woman who found me through my other blog that has little to do with fitness. In case you wanted to read what truly matters to me, you can read my ramblings there too.

The Great Bread Debate

Let’s discuss every dieters favorite topic: BREAD.  Yummy carb-filled delcious bread.

Okay yeah I can’t fake it. I’m not a big fan of bread. And this is coming from someone who grew up eating Peanut Butter and Jelly on white bread for like, 15 years.

I used to eat a ton of it when I trained for my half marathons and races years ago. But then I slowly just got sick of it. Pasta too. I know, I know, I’m Italian, I should LOVE pasta right? Maybe I just got sick and tired of all the carbs. Most of my carb sources these days are in the form of oats, rice cakes and low carb wraps.

So I got to wondering, “Are there others like me? Are there other non-bread lovers out there?” So I asked all my clients as well as anyone else who has kids (thinking maybe they eat bread because their kids probably do for sandwiches) if they eat bread. I also asked if they wanted to mention anything else about carbs and cutting back on the bread when dieting.

Here are the results of my informal survey:

  • Currently I buy Schwebel’s Sweet Harvest Wheat. It’s probably not any better than white, but I love soft wheat bread when I have my PB&J so that’s what I get. My daughters don’t care that it’s brown (like I did growing up).
    I buy it b/c it’s reasonably priced for how much bread we do eat.
  • I have 5 kinds of Ezekial Bread in the house, my kids love them!
  • My kids have sandwiches everyday and they eat regular white bread. I think people have to be smart when dieting. Most don’t know where to start or whatever. Oh…. I like bread too much. I like wine too much. I like food too much. Yeah, we know that, that’s why this country is obese. Nobody knows how much to eat. Once they learn the amount, then I would assume you start talkin about quality. Over time, I’ve learned to make different choices. Some do, some don’t.
  • My kids grew up eating Ezekiel bread or a similar style homemade bread their grandmother made. They thought regular grocery store bread was “weird” when they had it at their friends houses. I’m sure their friends thought our bread was weird. LOL I eat an Ezekiel English muffin almost every day.
  • I am a mom and I do eat breads, all kinds. When I first started eating better I kept my good “aka expensive foods” limited to just me. Then I realized why am I denying my son the right to have the good foods too. He eats pretty much whatever he’s told, however he would choose the good choices first in most cases anyhow.
  • I limit bread because it can be a trigger for me. For planned meals I’ll sub 2 corn tortillas on occasion to make tacos. I’ll sometimes have a toasted English Muffin for a Post Workout meal or when having a craving as I love the crunch/texture. My family eats wheat/sourdough bread on occasion but basic flour or whole wheat tortillas are the norm for making wraps.
  • I only buy Ezekiel bread. I myself rarely eat it but my daughter and husband eat it 5 out of 7 days/week.
  • I eat sunflower seed bread because I have worked it into my plan. I also have butter on it as one of my fats – again worked into my plan.
  • I buy Potato bread or a loaf of sourdough because they like it. I eat it too. Not everyday, but if I want a sandwich sure I’ll grab their bread. My kids wouldn’t go for wraps (especially lettuce wraps) unless they were at PF Changs, LOL!
  • I have three kids and we do have breads in moderation. Organic and whole grain usually.  I eat Ezekiel muffins, they do not like them much. I really try to have them make good choices… ex: a bagel is fine, but not a whole one…instead have a half with eggs and cheese … and fruit. For sandwiches at lunch I do lower carb whole grain for kiddos, or omit bread all together and do cut up cheese, fruit, veggies and meat… (and then maybe whole grains, like crackers…)
  • There are plenty of things I choose not to eat that my kids eat. Halloween candy for example. Obviously 80/20 on that.
    Bread is such a tricky one though. When you make healthier choices you look for volume- especially when dieting. Heck, even non-dieting I don’t really choose bread as a go to simply because there’s not much to it. I think the thought of no bread for newbies would sound restrictive and maybe even daunting. But I know plenty of folks who do cut things out especially when they are just starting.
  • I try not have anything that’s really off limits b/c I have so many food issues. I offer a large variety and they eat what they eat. I think because of that my girls love everything from Fruit Loops to broccoli. I will serve something over and over b/c they will eat something one time and then turn their nose up again at it 5 times before they scarf it down again. I also don’t short order cook. I serve dinner and they can choose to eat it or not, but I don’t make anything else, they don’t get dessert or snack after that.
  • I think people also don’t realize how much “bread” they do eat and that is when it gets dangerous. It’s not just sandwich bread, it’s bagels, pizza dough, cookies, cake, brownies. That’s ALL bread. Just b/c it doesn’t come in a loaf doesn’t mean it’s not bread and too much of it is not good.


I think the lesson here is if you haven’t tried Ezekial bread, give it a shot. 🙂  I myself have had the cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread and it tastes so good, and remember, I’m a very picky eater to this day. The last woman I surveyed I think had one of the best points: People don’t realize how carb-y foods can be and if you’re trying to at least “watch” what you’re eating, take note of all those doughs and cookies and cakes and bagels – Those carbs add up!


A separate blog post about what kinds of meals you can make for your kids is coming up later on this week too. 🙂

Happy Monday!

The Stigma of Being Healthy

It’s been 17 days since the competition.  I was fearful of gaining back more than 10lbs within a few days of being off the competition diet, but much to my surprise, I’m only up 3lbs.

I took two weeks off completely from dieting.  I ate when I was hungry, I stopped when I was full.  Once in a while I did indulge and kept eating long after I was definitely full and got that “stuffed” feeling.  Luckily, because I never had anything all that “bad” in the cupboards anyways but I did have an out of control mentality for a few days.  Without someone guiding me on what to do, I felt a little lost.

But it was a freeing experience to not be measuring or weighing anything.

Saturday I got a plan from a new coach, Erik, whom I have invested 12 weeks of coaching.  I’m familiar with LOSING fat but not gaining muscle, I admit.  This is definitely not my forte.  So I was quite relieved to get his email Saturday morning with a workout program and a very detailed food plan.

Back to being held accountable again!   I needed it.  I got a little too excited as I printed out my food plan and headed to Costco to stock up and spent most of the day Saturday prepping my food for the week.

A friend made a remark that they were amazed by all the bags of pre-weighed chicken and tilapia and sweet potatoes I had in the fridge.  I commented that I absolutely loved living this way.  Kind of like a Super Boy Scout, er, Girl Scout – Always Prepared.

There’s definitely comfort and less anxiety knowing my next meal is already ready to be eaten when it’s time; cooked, measured and sitting in the tupperware.  I could eat like this forever.

However, eating this way, ya know, healthy….doesn’t exactly agree with everyone.  I’m hearing alot of “It’s too hard to eat healthy, it’s too expensive to eat like that, it seems like a lot of WORK to eat that way.”

But this wasn’t an issue 15, or 20 years ago was it?  If you go back in time, back to your childhood, wasn’t it easier to eat healthy?  Wasn’t it easier to EAT period?  I find that most people want to eat well but an even more common complaint is a lack of time to eat anything at all!  On the go, on the run, busy busy, no time to do anything?  Well, if you were prepared from the beginning, you’d at least have time to eat in your car or at your desk.

Think again about your childhood – before adulthood.

For some, you had breakfast at the table cooked or prepared by yourself (or your parent if you were too young). Regardless of what it was (healthy or not), it was usually eaten in a group, slowly, already planned out for you.  Even if it was a piece of toast and a yogurt, your Mom or Dad didn’t let you leave for school without something in your stomach.  I’m sure there are exceptions to this depending on your age and your living situation but I think most of the people in my age group (30’s and 40’s) can relate.

Think about your lunch, at least during the school year.  Who made it?  Did you get it in the cafeteria or did you brown bag it?  You really only had those two options.  If you didn’t buy it through the cafeteria, you were usually a brown bagger like me.  I had Peanut butter and Jelly on white bread for about….10 years?  Seriously no joke.  I was the pickiest eater ever.  That’s all I would eat, along with a veggie and a snack like wheat thins or pudding or something like that.  My Mom rocked. 🙂  Maybe once in a while I had something different like bologna and cheese.  Wow, can you believe I ate bologna??  Nasty.

Now think about dinner.  This was the beginning of the end for most people.  I hear that alot of families don’t sit down to eat anymore, my family included right now.  Everyone on different schedules, cooking different things for different tastes, cooking differently for kids vs. adults, working parents, kids after school activities.  I get it, we are all busy.  But think about how it USED to be.  You ate at the dinner table as a family and you all had the same thing.  And it was prepared by someone else, unless you chipped in at dinner and helped out your parents with the meal.  I admit I was spoiled and bratty for most of my teenage years and am ashamed to admit I never asked if I could help my Mom with dinner.

My point of this trip down memory lane is to get you to understand that all the meals were made by someone most of your childhood.  Now, as an adult, how can you then translate that into YOUR diet?  This isn’t a trick question – the answer is:  Cook your own food.

This is not rocket science.  But if people can just realize that we don’t need to go thru the drive thru, we don’t need to try out that new lunch place that people at work are raving about, we don’t need to go out to client dinners every night, we’d save ourselves alot of extra calories and alot of MONEY and alot of time.

We can be the exception to the rule.  We don’t have to conform to what advertising and Big Food wants us to be.  We can treat ourselves once in awhile and enjoy ourselves and eat those sweet treats and then go back to eating our normal healthy food.

But it isn’t considered the norm yet is it?

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a stigma with people who MAKE their OWN food.


It’s ODD and WEIRD if you go to the movies and DON’T eat the popcorn or get a snack; you come to a party and bring a HEALTHY dish, you go to a BAR to watch a game and you DON’T have a drink, you don’t even order an appetizer.

“You bring your own lunch to work?  Why are you eating that salad?  Don’t you want Arby’s?  How about Subway?  Come on, just once won’t hurt, live a little!”

Take the opportunity to educate those people about the benefits of being prepared, being healthy, and being the exception to the rule.

Defend your right to eat your own food.

Eat this, not that or that and definitely not THAT!

Trying my first blog post via the mobile WordPress App..and with one hand! I would try to insert a picture of why I only have one hand but I have no clue how to upload pics via this app.
Short explanation: I have an IV stuck in the other hand. ( I’m okay, no need to panic)
Just a quick entry on Stress eating. I’m confessing I had a particularly bad day yesterday. Coupled with good old female issues made my good eating habits go right out the window.
I proceeded to eat anything in sight while at work. Luckily I work at a personal training studio so my options were limited to Clif Bars and peanut butter…and perhaps some string cheese that someone left in the fridge…..I couldn’t let that cheese go to waste could I??? A tablespoon (or two) of PB later I still felt hungry. And stressed. And did I mention cranky???
The two string cheeses were my next victims. I think I tore those puppies open like it was my last meal on earth. Pathetic.
Did I mention the expiration date on them was July?
The clif bar was smashed within minutes as well…
I know…this isn’t much of a pig out fest like most people think of when they think of someone falling off the “diet” wagon. But for me, this was a definite low point.
After having slept on it, I’m chalking it up to my first “challenge.”
I think I may have lost this one. Next month, I vow to be prepared.
Prepare for a fight string cheese! You’re going down!!

Random song playing on iTunes: Heaven by Bryan Adams
Random tweet: I haven’t tweeted yet today…so I’ll just say GO VOTE!