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!

Have Food Will Travel

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.

Breakfast

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.

Lunch

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!

Dinner

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!

 

 

See Jane Struggle

Case Study #1:  Jane Doe

Status: Married

Children: 1

Average Hours spent at Work: 12hours, 6 days a week

Average meal: On the go; rarely homemade; quick and convenient; poor quality

Average time spent working out: 0

Spare time spent: sleeping, hanging out with child and husband

Jane has come to me for help because she desires to get fit and healthy but literally has no idea how to make it work into her schedule.

It’s important to mention that SHE seeks the help and not the other way around. Why? Because whenever getting healthy is forced upon someone, either by a family member or their doctor, I find it rarely works. You need to find your “want to.” Let’s assume Jane has found her “want to” and see how I would go about helping her.

Jane has 1 day out of the week that she is off work. She has literally 2 hours free that day to make time for just herself.

We all know that baby steps are the way to go with any goal. We start super small with Jane.

Suggestions – In order of Priority:

1. FOOD.

Take the 2 hours to prepare meals for the week. Why? Because, technically, you don’t need exercise to be healthy. Nutrition is probably 80% of any physique goal (I’m guessing based on my own experience and my clients and discussions with RD’s and Nutritionists).  So that makes DIET or as I like to call it MEAL PLANNING Jane’s top priority. The meals will be as natural and whole as could be. This means limited processed foods like no Hamburger Helper, no Mac and Cheese, no Granola bars thrown into a brown bag and calling it lunch. Nope. This won’t be anything fancy, but they will not be sugar, fat loaded meals either. High in protein, a vegetable with each meal, and good carbs.

  • What kinds of carbs will Jane have?

Rice (could be instant), oats (could be old fashioned heated up in the microwave) and sweet potatoes (they make those microwaveable too, no excuses!). What about breads and pastas? Well, bread alone has like 20 ingredients. And it’s just bread! How about filling up on better foods instead of boring old bread? And if Jane was a sandwich lover, she could look for Ezekial Bread or Wraps to cut back on the carbs. What about bagels? I can’t remember the last time I had a bagel. All I know is when I would eat them (at my office job, of course) I felt like I was biting into a loaf of bread and I immediately felt like I should go run a marathon to burn it off. Gross. Sorry bagel lovers but these things are almost as bad as donuts. It’s just too much volume and not enough nutrients!  Pasta is fine but can you measure out half a cup cooked? Because that’s the portion you can have. And she will be TRYING to measure out her portions. Small changes go a long way when you’re just starting out like Jane.

  • What about protein?

The proteins have to be foods she will actually eat. Let’s assume Jane isn’t too picky. The crock pot will be her new best friend. Put a bunch of stuff in a pot, set it, and leave it. That’s easy. Take some chicken breasts, put a little marinade on them, broil them in bulk. That takes 20 minutes. How about ground turkey? Brown it in a skillet, add some spices, done in about 15 minutes. Beef isn’t bad for us so stop spreading that rumor. Eggs are good for us too. Paranoid? Get some egg whites. Jane isn’t vegan but she can mix it up by having protein shakes for a snack or beans in place of an animal once in a while.

  • How about veggies?

Steam them. Takes about 15 minutes. Don’t have a steamer? Put them in the microwave with a little bit of water. Takes…ummm 10 minutes? I don’t know, I have a steamer. Invest in a steamer Jane! And they make frozen veggies steam-able in the microwave nowadays. How about raw veggies? Eat them. Get some dip. Don’t worry about the calories in the dip. Just eat them. Got a blender? Blend them. Put some protein powder in there, voila! Instant breakfast in about 60 seconds.

  • Don’t forget the fats!

Jane is going to prepare snacks for herself so she avoids the vending machine or gets tempted to go out to lunch with her co-workers where they like to have liquid lunches and cheesecake for dessert. She’ll pack up trail mixes herself with items like almonds, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds, dried fruit. She’ll cook her veggies with coconut oil or olive oil. But she won’t freak out if all she has access to is PAM cooking spray. Again, small changes.

2. FITNESS.

Once she has established a routine where she takes those 2 hours on her one day off to prep her meals and make that her priority for at least a month (yes, a month if not longer), then I would suggest to Jane to start working out. Maybe not with me since she doesn’t seem to have the time to travel to the studio and back home/work. She would have to find ways to increase her activity on her own or with her son.

Is her son watching TV? Great. Pop in a workout DVD and make him do it too (he’s 8 years old so he’s mobile). But let’s say he’s way younger and just runs around the house like I hear 2 and 3 year-olds do all the time. Let’s say she has more than one child! What then? If they’re in diapers that means they take naps. If they take naps that means Jane can do something for 10 minutes, even if it’s just walking up and down the stairs until they wake up screaming (I hear this is what little kids do). If they are terrors, well…Jane calls a babysitter so she can get something done. Prioritize. This is important to Jane so she’s going to do whatever she can to keep going.

No workout DVD nearby? Jane makes up her own workout with her kid: She has a push up contest with him. She teaches  him how to squat (he’ll probably be able to get lower than her because kids have super human flexibility), jumping jacks, dance around the room. She asks him to show her what he did in gym class. She plays tag with him for 5 minutes. It really doesn’t matter. Jane is on her feet and that’s better than sitting at a desk like she just did for 12 hours.

3. FOCUS.

After Jane has increased her activity level, she is noticing a decrease in her stress level. She’s sleeping a little bit better, and she has more energy because she’s eating good food that’s helping her burn more fat. She’s lost a few pounds but nothing drastic. She wants to kick it up a notch. She still doesn’t have more time, still just 2 hours. But she has made small changes. She tries to get up 20 minutes earlier than normal to make herself a good breakfast. (This took her a long time to make a habit.)

She also spends this time alone before the kid gets up so she can focus. She has written down her goals and reads them in the morning, making a plan for how she’s going to accomplish them. It’s one thing to think them, it’s another thing to write them down and implement the changes. She writes down 3 things she wants to accomplish that day, none of which have anything to do with her job. Some days the list looks like this:

1. Drink 8 glasses of water

2. Walk 5,000 steps today

3. Make grocery list

Other days it looks like this:

1. Go for a walk during lunch break  Take a lunch break!!!

2. Skip Starbucks today; it’s not worth it!

3. Get in 20 walking lunges around the house while dinner is cooking

And some days it looks like this:

1. Throw out rotting lettuce in fridge!

2. Go to bed by 10pm tonight

3. Post fitness and health goals on Facebook today so I’ll be held accountable

When Jane is ready, maybe she comes to me one day a week for an hour to learn how to lift some weights. Or maybe I recommend some online training for her since time is limited for her. Or maybe she gets some free weights for her birthday from her family or trains for a 5K by running around her block when she is able.

She’ll do well. It might take longer than someone else. Maybe she’s only prepping her meals when she can but she tries. Maybe she goes through the drive-thru once a week but she’s making an effort. Maybe she ordered pizza for her and her family last night but her lunch is already packed up for the rest of the week.

She’s trying.

She’ll get there.

There’s hope for Jane.

 

Just a Taste…

Ahh sorry, this post has nothing to do with food as the title so blatantly suggests.  I know, I know, I just continue to disappoint.

No, when I say “Just a Taste” I mean getting a taste of Personal Training. One of my very intelligent clients (hello Lisa!) suggested that just one complimentary consultation and workout is sometimes not enough to get someone to truly appreciate the benefits of having a personal trainer.

They need a little more..just a taste…right?

I tended to agree with Lisa. After all, training is a big investment for most people. Some might say it’s a luxury to have a Personal Trainer. Although I wouldn’t like to classify myself as being something only luxurious or lucky or well-to-do people have, I suppose it’s true that I’m not exactly cheap. I wouldn’t WANT to be seen as cheap!

When I think of cheap in terms of fat loss or nutrition, I think of Slim Fast or Raspberry Ketones or those body wraps. Ya know, garbage. And I am most definitely not garbage. At least I don’t think I am. I might smell like garbage sometimes when I don’t shower right after a workout. But I swear that’s only for a couple hours and it’s only when I know I’m not going anywhere in public afterwards.

I digress…

So in an effort to promote this taste of me (ew, please don’t taste me) I’m offering a Try Me Before You Buy Me type of promo.

Alas, it’s only for people who train with me in person so sorry to my online friends. However, as I have mentioned previously, I offer a variety of affordable packages for Online Training that you can read about here if you’d like to still train with me virtually.

So for my Cleveland friends, here’s a little deal for the month of January for newbies: Buy 2 Sessions get 1 FREE! 

A 3-bie if you will. Three-bie. Like Freebie, get it?

So if you’d like to purchase this awesome deal, click this link and then click the link in there where it says “Buy Now.”  (Sorry I’m not savvy enough to put the HTML code in here directly.  Deal with it.)

So 3 sessions PLUS you still get a complimentary consultation so technically, it’s like 4 sessions for the price of 2.  Like a Four-bie.  4-bie. Okay no, that wordplay doesn’t work so well, does it?

Anyways, if you’re still not convinced that training with me would be a totally life changing experience, just read some nifty reviews about me on Thumbtack or Trainerize. And of course, if you want more information, I’m always available via email at FromFitToFigure@gmail.com, I’m all over Twitter and Facebook. And YouTube.

I am everywhere.

You cannot escape me.

See you in 2015, slim!

 

5 Bad Diet Habits to Stop Today

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This blog post originally appeared on Muscle is the New Sexy.

If you’ve been working out and lifting weights consistently but haven’t seen the scale or measurements budge lately, then it’s time to take a look at your diet plan.  As the common saying goes, “You can’t out-exercise a poor diet.”  As tempting as it is to say, “I’ll burn it off tomorrow” after we indulge in some cheesecake or donuts, it’s just not realistic to think one workout will help.  Take a look at these 5 Bad Habits and ask yourself if you’re guilty of one or more of them.  It could be the key to assisting you with your weight loss goals.

Eating at your Desk

I list this first because it’s probably one of the more unappealing and just plain gross habits we’ve become used to as of late.  In typical American fashion, we’re always in a hurry and no one seems to have time to sit down during the day and eat their meals.  This is why the grocery store aisles are loaded with quick and convenient “meals.”  But even if you have the best intentions and pack your meals everyday, there is still the problem of WHERE to eat your meal.  If you’re in a rush, your desk becomes the table.  With as many germs that are typically on a keyboard and office desk, this is not ideal to enjoy your lunch.  At the very least, choose a place to eat that is communal and intended to be eaten in, such as a cafeteria or break room.  Everyone is busy, and your job is important, but your health is much more important.  And getting crumbs in between the space bar is not attractive.

Scarfing Down your Food too Quickly

No one seems to enjoy their food anymore.  Not every meal needs to be an earth shattering experience.  But if you go to the trouble of cooking, or at least purchasing your food, why eat it like it’s going to be your last meal?  If you eat with intention and with purpose, you might find yourself eating slowly, thus, feeling fuller for a longer period of time.  Take time to taste every bite.  Some people even bless their food before they eat, ensuring they savor every morsel.  You know you’re going to eat again in a few hours.  There’s no need to rush!  Take frequent sips of water in between bites as well.  If you’re hanging with others, chat with them while you eat.  You should be too busy talking to eat so fast.

Skipping your Meals

There is still the misconception among dieters that in order to lose weight, you must skip some meals.  This is counterproductive.  Why?  Because if you start reducing your caloric intake so drastically, you’re just going to become even hungrier and most likely start gaining weight because you might double the size of your next meal.  If you are dieting, cutting back on the portion size is a better strategy than to skip a meal entirely.  The food you eat should be whole and natural as much as possible, not invisible.  An empty plate does not equal a lower number on the scale.

Drinking your Calories

Soda, pop, beer, wine, mixed drinks, juices.  All of these beverages would be considered poor options to hydrate you.  The best choice, of course, is water.  Even if you have a “stellar” diet, and you celebrate a few days a week with just a few drinks, you could be doing yourself a disservice.  For example, one Cosmopolitan has 145 calories in it, a Whiskey sour has 160 and a regular Beer has approximately 150.  Those calories really add up over time.  Reduce and cut back on these, and you might see a shift in your energy levels, better endurance in your workouts, and a change in the scale.   You should see an even bigger change when you increase your water throughout the day.  A good goal? Aim for half your bodyweight in ounces per day.

Opting for TV Dinners instead of Cooking

Boy Scouts aren’t the only ones who should always be prepared.  Adults need to have a plan.  It all starts with cooking.  Planning and cooking your  food might seem like a time consuming chore, but it really is the best way to ensure success with your health.  Maybe you know those tv dinners aren’t very good for you but you don’t know what else to eat.  And if you think those processed meals are “decent” for you, read the ingredient list.  There are usually more than 30 ingredients listed which is always a bad sign.  Learning to cook is worth it!  Take some cooking classes or have someone you know share some tips with you.  And cookbooks are cheap. I found one called “How to Cook” for $5. It really isn’t that difficult to bake some lean proteins and vegetables, cook up some hard boiled eggs, and heat up some leftovers for lunch.  You can even pick one day during the week to get all your cooking done so you’re prepared and ready to get on track with zero excuses.

If you’re guilty of one or more of these bad habits, make the decision today to stop and create better, healthier habits.  Pick one good habit to start and stick with it!   It might take weeks or even months to create the better habit, but it will be completely worth it and your body will thank you.

Hunger Pains: Experiences in Fasting

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“That burning in your gut, that rolling fire in your belly, demanding that you feed it more food, signals game time for fasting as a means of grace. Only as we voluntarily embrace the pain of an empty stomach do we see how much we’ve allowed our belly to be our god. – John Piper, Hunger For God

“Aren’t you eating?”

I heard this question a few times this past weekend. And it brought a little smile to my face as I responded to each person who asked.

“No, not today. I’m actually I’m fasting today.”

The reactions were always interesting and overall positive.

“Oh you’re so holy, that’s wonderful!”

“What a great thing to do. I should probably be the one doing that.”

“A horrible decision! (said jokingly) You’re missing out on some delicious food.”

The next obvious question was, “Why?”

I’m trying to fast once a week. This weekend was probably the easiest time to fast because here I am, at church, with a bunch of other women giving awesome witness stories. The perfect scenario.

It should be noted that I attended a Women’s Renewal at my church this weekend. (amazing experience!)

The food did look very tasty and I know I missed out on some great desserts but, to be honest, I wanted to remember what it felt like to be hungry.

Not starving, just hungry.

And I wanted to remember the feeling I had as I told myself, “Not yet. Soon..but not yet.”

I had experienced this during the competition training…and I kinda missed it.

Since I’ve decided I wanted to lose just a few lbs before the new year, I had a hard time getting a grasp on dieting again. Being in a deficit with my caloric intake has been more difficult than it really should be. And I know it’s because of me.

So I finally became fed up with seeing the scale stay the same that I asked myself what steps can I take to get back into a deficit and not go nuts trying to satisfy my hunger (especially at night).

The answer I heard (call it a higher power, call it my subconscious, whatever, I believe it was the spirit in me) saying “Experience hunger.”

The only time I have felt that hunger, that stomach growling hunger, was back when I dieted for the competition.

I decided fasting was the best route to take.

I did it last Friday for half the day which was big for me. But it didn’t quite work.Just wasn’t long enough to make an impact, spiritually and physically.

I needed a longer time-frame. So I thought, “I’ll be at church for 12 hours.. That’s perfect!”

And it worked like a charm.

Getting back to those ladies who asked me why…

Here are some answers that I gave…and other answers I wish I had given. All are awesome reasons for anyone to abstain from one of their favorite things (could be food, alcohol. a destructive behavior, television, computer time, social media, etc). 

Given that this is a fitness blog, some of my fellow female gym-rats and dieters might get some use out of these:

I fasted because…there are plenty of people out there who have nothing to eat. I have more than most people. I always know I have another meal coming to me.

I fasted because…I offered it up as a sacrifice to all those people who would give anything to taste actual food right now. The ones on feeding tubes…the ones in nursing homes who can’t pick up a fork because they can’t remember how. The ones who have to be FED by someone they probably don’t even recognize.

I fasted because…I was at church. I was surrounded a group of amazing women who were amazed by my discipline. I did it for them. That maybe someday they’ll fast too. And continue the cycle of sacrifice.

I fasted because…I need to remember there is more to life than the temporary satisfaction of chocolate or peanut butter. Those things will be there tomorrow. Giving them up for one day will not hurt me.

I fasted because…A small voice inside me told me I needed to remember how to avoid the temptation of cheating. I had spent most, if not all, of my building/muscle-gaining phase cheating on my diet. I had to remember what it was like to stick to a plan.

I fasted because…I knew once it was over, I didn’t need to eat. But the next day, I enjoyed my food much more thoroughly than I have recently. I savored. Every. Bite.

I fasted because…I needed to remember patience. I had forgotten what patience was for so long. I needed to remember it. I need patience in between all of my meals. I need patience with my clients. I need patience with my family. I need it for every darn day.

Remember what it’s like to be hungry. Remember what it’s like to have no idea where you’re next meal is coming from. Remember what it’s like to be so lucky to have a fridge full of food. To have access to a grocery store where you can buy anything imaginable. Remember to be grateful for that hunger in your stomach.

Hear that growling in your stomach? 

Tell it to wait.

You will eat again.

 

 

 

 

Change Your Plate: How to Balance Your Meals Without Worry

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Are your meals balanced?  Today, with all the nutrition information out there, it’s very easy to over think how to eat healthy and balanced.  Everyone seems to have  their own definition of eating “clean” and their own opinion on how to everyone else should be eating too.

The best advice I give my clients is this:   The best “diet” or meal plan is the one that works for you and you can live with.  Once you figure out that balance, it’s easy.  But figuring out what that is for you can be a very long and tedious process.  But if you strive to have balanced meals, you’re off to a great start.  Here are some basic steps you can take to get started.

First off, let’s define what balanced means.  For me, and for most people, balance means all macronutrients are present and accounted for – Fats, Protein, and Carbohydrates.

Some people really aren’t aware of what is considered a protein, a fat, or a carb so here are some examples in case you’re a little behind in Nutrition 101.

Fats – olive oil, nuts, avocado, nut butters, coconut oil, butter

Protein – fish, chicken, turkey, pork, beef, eggs

Carbs – fruits, veggies, breads, cereals, grains, oats, rice, pasta

How much of each is going to depend on your goals. But here are some general guidelines I try to follow:

  • Protein should be the size of your palm – this is a very generic rule but it’s universally accepted as the norm.  Take a look at your protein on your plate and compare it to your palm.  Is it close?  Is it way off?  Make adjustments and dig in!
  • Carbs should be in the form of veggies/greens – This is usually a salad or a piece of fruit.  Are you getting the recommended daily intake of 7-9 servings of fruit and veggies?  Most people don’t.  Just remember, no  one ever overdosed on veggies.
  • Fats are usually used as the cooking oils or dressings so they shouldn’t take up too much of your plate – Fats don’t make us fat.  They help make us feel full and we need those good healthy fats that contain omega-3’s.  Don’t ever be afraid of fat!
  • Your greens/veggies should take up a large portion of your plate.  Think of them as filler, literally filling up on veggies before you even stick a fork and knife in your protein
  • Your protein should take up the rest of the plate living very little room for “extras.”  I go over what those Extras are below.
  • Ask yourself if all macronutrients are accounted for.  What are you missing?  How can you replace something that’s missing?
  • If you’re already eating balanced, it might be a good idea to weigh and measure you food.  Many people use the “eye-ball” approach a bit too much and could be consuming more (or in some cases LESS) than what they think they’re eating.  Invest in a food scale and start measuring out your portions.  It’s an excellent way to review what you’ve been taking in and a small way to hold yourself accountable to sticking with your plan.

Eliminate the Extras

Think of “extras” as those foods that have little to no nutritional value.  Almost like decorations on a plate.  If you don’t care about having much balance on your plate, then go ahead and eat these.  But if you really want to strive for 90% balance, it might help to cut back or completely eliminate these “special occasion” foods.

  • Rolls, biscuits, breadsticks, muffins, etc.  You usually find these on the dinner table at restaurants before you even order your entree.  Not necessary to fill up on these!
  • Alcohol, sugary sodas, diet pop, juices.  You really want to think of these as “once-in-a-while” treats and never your beverage of choice.
  • Sauces, syrups, creamy dressings.  Find healthy alternatives or make your own.
  • 100 Calorie Snack packs.  Why are these considered extras?  Because I’d be willing to bet you’ve had more than 1 of these snacks in a given day.  They don’t fill you up because they contain little nutritional value and usually no protein.  Protein will help you stay fuller longer, whereas pre-packaged snacks leave you wanting more.

And don’t forget….

  • Where’s your water? Hydration should be a staple in your daily routine
  • Don’t scarf down your food.  Eat slowly and enjoy the meals that you make.  If you must, set a timer for 20 minutes and force yourself to eat slower.  You’ll be glad you did!
  • Think of each meal as a food opportunity.  Will your next opportunity get you one step closer to your goals?  Or will it deter from your goals?  Think and choose wisely.
  • How big is your plate?  If you’re eating your meals on a huge plate, chances are you try to fill that plate with food leaving no spaces in between.  Consider eating off of a smaller plate.  It can be a visual game changer!

A couple examples of balanced meals would be:

  • Grilled chicken breast on a bed of greens and a side of brown rice.  The salad is dressed with an oil based dressing.  The chicken is the protein, your salad/greens as well as the brown rice are your carbs and your salad dressing is the fat.
  • Egg white and Whole Egg omelet with spinach and sauteed in coconut oil with a side of oatmeal.  Your eggs and egg whites are your protein, your fat is the coconut oil and your carb is the oatmeal and the spinach.
  •  Even snacks can easily be balanced – Yogurt with some nut butter mixed in and a piece of fruit.  Yogurt is your protein, nut butter is your fat and the fruit is your carb.

Take these simple steps and make your meals balanced every time.  Once you get some practice preparing and logging your meals, it will become second nature.  Remember, eating should be a stress-free part of your day.  If you get off-balance, no need to worry.  Make your next meal as balanced as you can, and get back on track.  Print this post out and put it on your fridge.  Keep it with you or save it to your phone and refer to it the next time you’re trying to stay balanced.

Need help finding out how much you should be eating for your goals? I offer online coaching to assist you with this. Check out my package offerings to see which might work best for you!