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.”
So it’s 13 weeks until my next figure competition and I am completely unmotivated to do anything about it.
Workout-wise, I’m doing well. No big problems there.
Diet-wise? That’s another story.
I’m not quite sure where the motivation and energy and fire went, but it is long gone and I can’t seem to get it back. I tried logging my food, thinking the accountability of my clients and random friends on My Fitness Pal checking in might help. It has helped a bit, but I’m still not all in.
I’ve tried going to my favorite fitness competitor’s websites and checking out their progress pics. That sorta worked but it didn’t seem to illicit any feelings of “YEAH!!! LET’S DO THIS!”
I’ve tried reading my old blog posts from when I first trained two years ago. Nostalgia, right? Eh…I just ended up critiquing my writing style in some of them. 😉
I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly why I cannot seem to take this goal seriously like I did the first time. I came to a few conclusions as to why this time around I am not as enthused about it:
This isn’t the first time. Now that I know what to expect, I’m not EXCITED as much as I’m DREADING it because I’m thinking of all the negative aspects of competing instead of the positive ones.
I’m.busier than before. I have several social events coming up in the next two months including a wedding across the country, a week long retreat in Pennsylvania, and a class reunion in less than a month. I want to look forward to attending and instead I’m sitting here thinking “How can I fit a cooler on to a plane?” and “I wonder if I can fit in a workout before the rehearsal dinner?”
I’m distracted. I’ve been reading a lot of books on religion and Catholic doctrine and Christianity and although I’ve ALWAYS known that there is more to life than 6pack abs, I can’t seem to find a balance between living the “fit life” and exercising my mind as well. Granted I’m reading other books too but I also want to travel and hang out with my family and friends and sometimes I think training prevents me from doing this.
My family won’t be able to attend the show. I will have a large audience of friends in support of me there at the show but as soon as I found out the majority of my immediate family couldn’t make it, I felt like maybe this wasn’t meant to be. It’s super important to me that they be there and if they aren’t, I won’t take it as seriously as I should.
I’ve talked to my trainer/friend/co-worker Chris about this the other day and we agreed that if I am not into this, let’s not push it. BUT, this doesn’t get me off the hook. He suggested I find something that DOES spark that fire in me that I could shoot for. In other words, as the title of this post suggests, FIND a NEW goal because this competition just ain’t cutting it.
So, with that said, I discussed the possibility of sticking to the plan of training and attempting to diet and just training to look great for summer! The wedding that I’m in takes place in mid-July. I went to try on the dress and order it today. I tried on a size 6 and although it fit, it was a tad snug. So, there’s my motivation!
I’m not about to SQUEEZE into a dress in the sweltering July heat for my friends wedding and look like I barely fit into this dress. Granted, no one looks at the bridesmaids at weddings, all eyes will be on her. 🙂 But, it’s motivating me to take things more seriously.
And, the best part is, if by some chance I happen to look pretty good and feel pretty good at the wedding, there will still be a month left to prep for the competition, if I choose to do it.
If not, I will take my own advice and book a photo shoot, the one that I wanted to do LAST summer but didn’t because I got lazy and didn’t want to diet. Hmm….I’m sensing a pattern with myself.
Either way, I have found new motivation: July 18th is the wedding for my friend. Progress pics will be taken next week.
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.
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??
A doughnut contains none of these nutrients.
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.
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 fatstorage 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.
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.
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.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about kids and their eating habits for a long time. I STILL have so much more to share but today’s post is a start.
First, let me throw some facts your way real quick:
Childhood Obesity – according to the CDC
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.1, 2
The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.1, 2
In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.
Marketing Food to Kids
Companies spend $1.79 billion annually to market food to children with only $280 million for healthy foods
70% of food ads on the most popular children’s television channel are for junk foods
Two-thirds of children’s websites display food ads; of these food ads, 84% are for junk foods
Research indicates that children don’t understand the persuasive nature of advertisements until age 8
And now that you’re depressed after reading those, take a look at this typical school lunch in America.
But this is what kids eat in other countries (see the caption under the pic for specific countries.)
Kinda makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?
For more information on the comparison between America and other countries, see the original post by The Daily Mail UK here.
A quick word about school lunches. It seemed once Obama was elected, Michelle Obama had good intentions – Start a program that would require nutritional guidelines for school lunch programs. Unfortunately, it seems it hasn’t done much except waste a lot of food. According to this article posted on The Blaze, looks like most kids just didn’t like the food being served, so they threw it all in the trash, completely uneaten and wasted. School administrators are also having a hard time implementing these guidelines.
The meals served have been so bad, according to numerous students, that pictures of the school lunch trays went viral with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama. Yikes!
So that’s one problem that is probably deserving a separate post. But isn’t it interesting that we still have a childhood obesity problem even though it looks like a total lack of food is being served in schools? And most of the kids are just throwing it away anyways? Just makes you think.
So, what about the rest of the kids? The ones who aren’t obese or overweight? What are they eating? Could they be malnourished but APPEAR to be healthy?
We eat what is put in front of us. And who puts that food in front of us? Who pays for it? Our parents of course. Our caretakers. So it starts with them.
I’m sometimes curious if the parents have bad habits, are picky eaters, etc, will they pass that down to their kids? Do the parents know how to eat a balanced meal?
I always tell my clients to look for balance in their meals but quite a few don’t know what that really means. I tell them:
1/2 your plate should be full of veggies or a salad, then add your protein which should take up a 1/4 of the plate and leave the rest of the plate open for carbs. Leave a little room for a fat of some sort (it’s usually the salad dressing or nuts added or even butter (gasp!) or perhaps the entrée was cooked in extra virgin olive oil.
The same could be said for kids too. In fact, back in 2011, Michelle Obama DID make some changes that, I think, are helpful for a lot of people. Together with the head of the USDA, the Food Pyramid went away and they unveiled MyPlate.
So visually, you can see what to eat. I think the site is quite helpful. Many people out there have no clue what to eat and how much. At least this gives those people an idea.
Who knows if parents are following this guideline (are they even following it for themselves because it applies to everyone!) but in the end, as long as everyone’s eating good food, it shouldn’t matter, right? But I think we can all learn a little bit from each other. After all, kids don’t come with a manual. I’m sure lots of first time parents are like, “Uhhhh..so what does this thing eat?” 🙂 Okay so maybe I’d be the only person to ask that since I’m kinda clueless on the kid front.
I posed this question to friends and followers:
What are they feeding their kids for breakfast lunch and dinner? What does a typical meal look like for them?
Strawberries, yogurt, a toasted bagel, banana rollup (mini tortilla with peanut butter and a banana) or cereal.
Rice cereal and sweet potatoes
Organic nugget and sweet potato fries with roasted corn salad. Green chilli chicken enchiladas and quinoa beef and broccoli
Whole wheat bread with organic almond butter and avocado pieces
Greek yogurt and these breakfast biscuits. Last night they had scrambled eggs with spinach, mushroom and tomatoes
Fruit loops for bf, pb&j and bananas for lunch. For dinner they are getting a clean/paleo-ish dinner of peanut chicken over brown rice.
Steamed veggies for the baby using this (parents of babies should check that out!)
Other quotes from the parents worth sharing:
I 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.
We really run the gamut of healthy food and foods that lean towards unhealthy. I want them to grow up learning about moderation and not “bad” v “good”. They also see mommy workout every day and when we pray over our food we always say, “May our food make us healthy and strong”.
My kid is a toddler so his tastes are fickle and unpredictable. I look for higher calorie foods for him, as long as he pees and poops, then I don’t worry. I don’t believe any one food group should be demonized.
Sometimes my kids refuse eggs and other times they suck them down. That’s why I always offer foods over and over. You can’t serve it once and then quit. Kids come around.
We like to eat different things and experience different cultural foods. Keeps it from getting stale
My wife is out of town so I gave my daughter chicken nuggets for breakfast yesterday. She wanted them. I obliged.
I will say that we buy organic when given the choice, ESPECIALLY for milk.
Our family dinners are all over the board but we do splurge on pizza from time to time.
It looks like the parents I heard back from are doing a fine job of feeding their kids a variety of healthy food.
1. Whole foods, sometimes organic
2. No short order cooking – you eat what is made or else you don’t eat at all
3. Picky eaters will be picky but try to get them to at least “take a bite” one time and try again in a couple weeks. Their taste buds (and attitude) can change.
4. Fast food is fine on occasion when the only other option is skipping a meal.
5. Experiment with a variety of dishes so they don’t get too bored with the same thing
Sidetone: I was relieved I didn’t hear any parents say that THIS was a problem with any of their kids. (How does that happen, really?)
I was really happy to get all this feedback so thank you all who responded!
If you’re looking for some good recipes for kids, I came across this article on Eating Well. I chose two that seemed like something I would eat when I was a kid (I was super picky).
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. 🙂
Is it possible to eat whole natural foods while stuck at an airport or in a hotel? It might not be convenient, but it’s possible. Here’s some examples of each meal and what would be considered a good, better, and best substitutions when you’re stuck without an oven or a fridge. These are just some examples, I’m sure many of you have your own go-to snacks/meals that you eat when traveling. Speak up in the comment section or let me know on Facebook or Twitter.
Of course, it’s always best to be prepared so we’re assuming in these examples that the traveler had some notice prior to heading out, hence the BEST examples will be ones that could be packed on planes or in a vehicle.
Good: Protein bar with low amount of fat, 20grams of protein and will most likely have 25g of carbs. Don’t bother with the small snack size bars (ahem, ones that say SKINNY on them); save those for actual snacks. If this is your only meal for breakfast, then this is better than nothing but it can’t be so small that you’re hungry again in an hour.
Better: Hard-boiled Eggs (yes they have these at most airports after you pass thru security) with crackers and a piece of fruit. Another better option would be an egg white wrap from the airport/fast food places with some feta cheese and spinach. Again, looking for a protein with fat and a carb. But make sure it fills you up!
Best: Eat before you head out to the airport or start traveling with a homemade breakfast. If it HAS to be quick, I would recommend a smoothie that you make at home with either protein powder or greek yogurt as the protein source, and then add in a ton of greens and veggies like carrots and cucumbers, add some fruit for a little sweetness and some nut butter for a fat and you’re good to go. If you are able, you can pack up your protein powder, buy some low fat milk at the airport or gas station and use your shaker bottle to have a decent breakfast with a piece of fruit and some crackers. Sometimes the store-bought smoothies are loaded with so much sugar that it’s best you just make your own.
Good: Salad or wrap from a fast food joint. Don’t add a ton of extras like mayo or oils to it. The protein should be grilled, not fried. Opt out of the dessert or sweet treat that usually sit at the cash register tempting you to BUY ME! It’ll just cause you to crash later from all those ridiculous amounts of sugar. Beverage is going to be as close to non-caloric as you can get. Don’t be tempted to get an energy drink, especially when you’re going to be SITTING in a car, or on a plane, or in a cab…etc.
Better: Greek yogurt cup or beef jerky (desperate times call for desperate measures!), string cheese, a snack bar or mini protein shake that has 10-15g of protein and a piece of fruit or dried fruit like raisins or craisins. You will notice that all of these are snacks just put together to make one big meal. The point here is that you won’t be full from just ONE of these snacks so if it’s going to be 4-5 hours before your next meal, you can fill up on these. Or mix and match if you only desire or have access to a few.
Best: Salad or wrap from an actual restaurant is best here if you have no way of bringing your own. Same rules apply from the Good example. If you have access to a grocery store (I know, I know) you could go to their salad bar which has the freshest options, usually. As a snack you can have some trail mix. If it’s store bought, make sure it contains no chocolate covered anything, it has a little bit of dried fruit and a decent amount of unsalted nuts. The portions that are sold at convenience stores and rest stops are usually way too big for just one person. It’s best (and cheaper!) to make your own with small baggies that you can portion out yourself. And oh look, they travel easily too!
This is usually where I hear clients struggle the most. They say their boss or their co-workers/clients take them out for a “working dinner” and since they aren’t the ones paying, all bets are off on what they will eat. And maybe it’s been one long day at the office and you’re starving because you didn’t even have a chance to eat good meals for breakfast and lunch. This is when you have to really be careful if you want to stick with a plan. You HAVE to look for balance.
Good: One or two servings of the table appetizer which is usually garlic bread or chips/salsa, or some other option. Split appetizer between yourself and at least one other person, entree of your choice with veggies, and one alcoholic beverage. Dessert.
Better: Grilled appetizer prepared for one person, entree with double veggies and no bread or pasta, and one alcoholic beverage. Fruit based dessert or chocolate/sugar dessert split with one other person.
Best: No appetizer, grilled/poached/baked entree with double veggies, no alcoholic beverage and a dessert of your choice split between 2 other people. Plenty of water or maybe a diet pop/soda.
Now, this is assuming this dinner is at an actual restaurant where the portions are typically Americanized and doubled, especially when it comes to dessert. As for the beverages, depending on the occasion, what your job is, what kind of person you are, I’m sure the alcoholic beverage option will be different for everyone. But I know how hard it is to get looks or questions from people such as “Why are you ordering that?” or “Why aren’t you drinking with us?” or “You should splurge just this once!”
Give those people a polite, but firm “Mind your own damn business” “Thanks but no thanks” and forget it. I will never ever understand why eating “kinda healthy” is STILL a stigma in this country…but that’s another blog post for another day.
I hope some of these options give you at least a few ideas of what you could eat when you travel. Circumstances won’t always allow the freedom to eat the healthiest options but aim for the GOOD, attempt to get BETTER but try for your BEST!