How To Take More Action Towards What You Want to Accomplish

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This statement is a game-changer. Why? It requires you to take ownership of what you are or aren’t doing. Telling yourself you don’t have time to do something allows you to let yourself off the hook. It’s so easy to do and I used to do it all the time! “I don’t have time to hit my yoga class every week,” or “I don’t have time to plan a wedding.” But, every time I change the wording to “I don’t have time” to “I’m not making it a priority,” I feel completely different. It all falls back on me not taking action.

Are there going to be things that aren’t going to be a priority? Absolutely. But, when you change your vocabulary to the things that you want to change the most, I’ll guarantee you’ll be more motivated to change.

So, how can you take more action?

Start small. I’ve talked about this here (step 3), but completing one or two things a day towards what you want to change will help you reach your goal. Don’t try to tackle ten things at once. It’s overwhelming and many times your mental energy batteries will die before you want them to.

Make a list. I feel most accomplished when I check things off a list. Sometimes I will even add things to my list that I’ve already done for the day just so I can check it off! Organize your list based off of what NEEDS to get done for the day. Ask yourself, what’s the priority? This has been a key piece to helping me take action.

Note: If you want to exercise consistently, write it on your list. Sometimes you have to schedule it like an appointment to actually get it done.

Create time. Create time for what’s important to you. Usually this means taking something out of your day and replacing it with something that’s going to make you feel better. Maybe it’s creating time to cook, exercise, play a board game with your children, call your mom, mediate, stretch/foam roll, etc. Reading is one of my favorite things to do for relaxation and every time I commit to reading, I feel so much better. When I catch myself not reading every day, it’s because I’m doing other things in the morning or evening, like playing on my computer or watching television. So, I focused on turning the TV off at night and replaced it with reading. If my favorite show is on, I set my goal lower and focus on reading 5-10 pages in my book. It’s a win/win!

Five of My Favorite Core Exercises

 

When many people think of the core, they think of the abdominals. But, the core is made up of so much more including the obliques, glutes, hip flexors, erectors, lats and more! Your core also moves and resists many movements like lateral flexion, extension, rotation and flexion. While I feel people are getting more educated on strengthening their core, still some people I work with think of doing sit ups first to gain strength. Here are my favorite core exercises that work all movement patterns.

 

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1.) Master the plank first. 

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You can do a plank anywhere and it doesn’t require any equipment. Many people know of this exercise, but it’s a great exercise because it works many areas at once – your abdominals, quads, glutes, shoulders, and more! Here are a few tips.

  • Keep your elbows under your shoulders
  • Keep your eyes looking in between your fists 
  • Squeeze your glutes and engage your quads 
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Drive your heels slightly back towards the floor 
  • Breathe through your belly 
  • Hold as long as you can (goal is 60 seconds)

Once you can hold this exercise for 60 seconds, you’re ready to move on to different plank variations. To make it more challenging, lengthen your plank even more. In the picture you can see my shoulders are slightly back behind my elbows.

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The Plank Drag (progress)

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I love this exercise. The goal is to resist rotation through the torso. Here are a few tips.

  • Keep your hips and shoulders square to the ground. It’s easy for your right hip to lift and open up as you pull with your right hand. 
  • Squeeze your glutes 
  • Reach underneath your body to pull the weight (this can be a dumbbell also)
  • Keep your feet wider than your shoulders 
  • Complete 6-12 reps each side. 

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2.) The Roll Out

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I consider this an advanced exercise. If you have never done this before, try the roll out with the stability ball first.

  • Starting position is key: Begin with your hips pushed forward and the wheel underneath your shoulders. Return back to this exact position as you roll back.
  • Squeeze your glutes. Your glutes protect your low back. If you feel any pressure in your low back with your roll out, most likely you aren’t engaging your glutes.
  • Roll out enough until you feel your abdominals fire. Don’t worry about extending out as far as the picture. Find what you can do with good control.
  • Complete 8-15 reps.

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The Stability Ball Roll Out (Option 2)

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If the wheel roll out isn’t working, try it with a stability ball.

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3.) Side Plank

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A great exercise for working resisting lateral flexion through the spine.

  • Line your elbow up underneath the shoulder 
  • Squeeze your right side and right glute
  • Engage your upper back and the muscles around the shoulder blade. This should be your support system. If you feel any pressure in the front of the shoulder, adjust your position. 
  • If this position feels hard to get into, bend your top knee and place the foot in front of your hip. 
  • Hold for up to 60 seconds. 

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Side Plank (Advanced)

Need it to be more challenging? Elevate your feet. I will usually do this in a TRX.

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4.) Dead Bug

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Sometimes this exercise gets people mentally working too 🙂

  • Starting position: make sure your low back is in the most comfortable position. It should not be arched (thinking I can slide my hand underneath your back). For most people, it helps to eliminate that space and keep it still as you move your legs. 
  • Keep your knee over your hip. It’s easy for your knee to come closer to your belly button. 
  • Move your opposite arm and leg together (right leg, left arm then left leg, right arm)
  • Complete 8-12 each side. 

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 Stability Ball Dead Bug (Advanced)

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This is a fantastic exercise if you do it correctly. Key tip: can you bring you one leg up to 90 degrees? If you can’t, this exercise will not work for you and you will compensate somewhere in your body to attempt it. Notice in the first picture, both feet are at 90 degrees (ankles over hips)

  • The difference between this exercise isn’t much technically (follow the first three tips above), but you will also want to focus on not letting the stability ball move. It should stay still as you drop one arm and one leg. 
  • Focus on doing this by actively pushing your opposing hand and foot into the ball strong. This will fire your core even more! 
  • Also, focus on tucking our chin so you aren’t straining your neck. 
  • Complete 8-12 reps each side. 

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5.) Sprinting 

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Sprinting might be my favorite core exercise. I’ll do this at least once a week up a hill (like the picture) or on a flat surface like my driveway or a track. The goal is to go as fast as you can for a short period.

  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears as you sprint. Many people can hike their shoulders up. 
  • Pump your arms and hands and don’t cross them over your mid section. 
  • Stand up tall after you’ve gained your top speed. 
  • Workout: 5 sprints to the first mark, 3 sprints to the second mark, 2 sprints to the third mark.

You can find landmarks in your neighborhood or whatever area you’ve chosen to sprint. After sprinting at 100%, walk back to your starting mark and rest as long as you need to so you can sprint at full speed every interval. Your workout should last 15-20 minutes. Warm up with light walking, high knees, butt kickers, lateral shuffles, and stretching before sprinting.

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Core exercises are important to do every week. I usually incorporate them into my strength training after warming up. If you’re a beginner, complete at least 2 exercises for 2 sets, 2-3 days a week. If you are more advanced, complete 3 sets for 3 days a week (with a day of rest in between each workout).

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Austin, TX

Two Questions To Ask Yourself Before Every Meal

How To Simplify Meal Planning

Meal planning can be so simple if you know how to approach it. Going through the Precision Nutrition certification has helped me make nutrition easier to master for myself & clients. When I’m coaching clients, instead of sitting down telling them how many calories to eat, I coach them how to re-train their thoughts BEFORE they make the meal. This can really simplify the process.

So, what should be the two most important questions to ask yourself before every meal?

1.) What’s my vegetable?

2.) What’s my protein source? 

Cooking from home? Ask yourself what two choices sound the best. Dining out? No problem, you know what to look for on the menu. This takes practice, but the more you practice it, it will be hard for you NOT to think this way before every meal.

Vegetables are nutrient dense since they are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. They also fill you up on less calories. Protein helps you stay full in between meals and will help you maintain/gain lean muscle. It also stabilizes your blood sugar. These key components tend to help you move the dial the fastest to helping you get healthy. They can also be two key pieces that will help with weight loss. The common American diet is filled with processed foods, added sugar and fat. Vegetables tend to lack. Most of my teenage & early adult life, most of my food came from a box and I only consumed a few servings of vegetables a week.  When it came to transforming my diet, I focused on asking myself these two key questions and after much practice, it’s automatic thinking for me for every single meal.

Now, what about carbohydrates and healthy fats? Those need to be included too. Plates may vary depending if you are looking to lose weight or just get healthy.

Here’s a visual of two plates:

The Healthy Plate (each meal)

 Goals for Women

  • Aim for 20-30 grams of protein each meal
  • 20-30 grams of carbohydrates (a cupped handful or ½ cup measured)
  • 1 thumb of fat (8-12 grams)
  • 1-2 fists of vegetables

Goals for Men

  • Aim for 35-50 grams of protein per meal
  • 2 fists of vegetables
  • 2 thumbs of fat (15-25 grams)
  • 35-50 grams of carbohydrates (1.5-2 cupped handfuls)

Serving sizes may vary depending on your size & activity level. This is a starting recommendation if you eat three to four meals a day. If you eat more frequently, adjust your serving sizes. Some individuals may see weight loss from this plate. Others may need to focus on the weight loss/fat loss plate.

Carbohydrate: Potato (sweet potato is ideal), rice, oatmeal, beans and fruit. Bread, pasta and rice cakes are also options if those are foods you enjoy.

Protein: chicken, beef, pork, eggs/egg whites, turkey, wild game, fish, lobster/shrimp, crab, cottage cheese & Greek yogurt are all great choices.

Fat: Olive oil, coconut oil, macadamias, fish oil, flax oil, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, avocado, pistachios, almonds, olives, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans and cashews are great choices. Animal meats like dairy, cheese, butter and meat also fall into this category.

Weight/Fat Loss Plate (most meals)

This plate works really well for individuals seeking weight loss. You may notice healthy fat servings are slightly more than the healthy plate and starchy carbohydrates are less. Find what gives you the best results.

Fat Loss Meal PlanningGoals for Women

  • Aim for 70+ grams of protein a day
  • 3-5 thumbs of fat (40-60 grams) a day
  • 5+ servings of vegetables a day
  • Use this plate for most meals

Goals for Men

  • Aim for 100+ grams of protein a day
  • 6-8 thumbs of fat a day
  • 7+ servings of vegetables a day
  • Use this plate for most meals

Servings vary depending of your size and activity level

Post Exercise Plate for Weight/Fat Loss

Easy Meal Planning Post ExerciseWhen seeking weight loss, carbohydrates tend to be best consumed after a workout. Breakfast is another time slot when carbohydrates can be tolerated. If you find yourself in a plateau, eliminate this plate for breakfast if you exercise in the afternoon or evening.

Everyone has a different carbohydrate tolerance

I work with clients that can have a serving of carbohydrates every meal, while others see results by sticking with starchy carbohydrates after exercise. Find what gives you the best results. The trial and error process takes some time, but with patience, you’ll find your sweet spot where you are getting results & keeping your energy stable.

Be patient

If seeking weight loss, you can’t always use the scale to show if you’re getting results. Monitor your mood, energy levels, stress levels, sleep patterns, check to see how your clothes are fitting and notice if you feel any better. These are all wins! If you find you’re stuck in a plateau after monitoring these items, ask yourself what needs to change. Do you need to eat more protein? Eat more vegetables? Less starchy carbohydrates? A little more starchy carbohydrates if you’re experiencing low energy? More water? Everyone has a unique metabolism and it’s up to you to find what works best.

Three Components to a great exercise program

Three Key Components To A Great Exercise Program

Three Components to a great exercise programI get a lot of questions about what to do for exercise for fat loss or even weight loss. Plus, I get a few questions of what to do just to stay healthy! While changing your nutrition alone can help you see results, proper workouts are just as important. Here’s a breakdown of a great exercise program.

If you have 2 hours to dedicate to exercise a week, focus on strength training first. 

1.) Strength training (2-3x/week for 30 minutes – 60 minutes)

Most clients I work with want to tone their bodies, but in order to do so, you have to build muscle first. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn during your workouts, but also during your sleep and your normal activities throughout the day. If you’re looking for weight loss, you need to strength train to keep your metabolism up. It’s easy to just do aerobic exercise to see the number on the scale move. Unfortunately, this may mean you are losing precious muscle and the moment you quit your aerobic exercise and healthy eating, you can gain back more weight than when you started.

Another note: the older we get, the easier it is for our bodies to lose muscle. In return, this means our metabolism is burning less calories and it’s easier to gain weight.

Strength training allows you to see your body change. Some people may not notice the scale budge, but they will see their frame decrease in size. EX: A woman may notice her clothes fit better, but she hasn’t lost a pound on the scale. She shouldn’t be discouraged because her body is changing!

Action Steps: 

1.) Dedicate time every week to strength training at least one time a week. Two-three sessions are ideal with a day or two of rest in between.

2.) Use big movement patterns like squats, lunges, push ups, lat pulldowns, cable rows, step ups. They require the least amount of time and the most bang for your buck. I love doing total body workouts 3x a week.

3.) If you haven’t done strength training in months or years, start small. Complete each exercise 10-15x for 1 set. If you’re more advanced, perform 2-4 sets per exercise. Reps can vary.

4.) Follow a program & write down your weight/set/reps. I write myself a new program every month and will increase my sets or weight throughout the program to progress each week. If you’re brand new to strength training, find a coach, follow an at-home DVD or begin a class. My biggest take home message: commit to something!

If you have 2.5 to 3.5 hours to commit to an exercise program, add interval training. 

2.) Interval training (1-3x a week for 15-30 minutes)

Interval training is great at burning calories and giving your metabolism a boost. It’s also great to do on days you don’t strength train. Dedicate 15-30 minutes to interval train 1-3x a week. I want you to think of interval training as two steps: working at an intensity until you can’t push any longer, then recover until you can push another interval. Custom interval training with a heart rate monitor is the best type of interval training because it’s built around your heart rate zone.

Action Steps:

1.) Choose your form of interval training. My favorites include: my boxing class,  incline walking, stair master, rowing machine or a lighter kettle bell or dumbbell workout.

2.) Start with a warm up for 2-3 minutes then increase the intensity to a challenging pace. Push for 20-60s then recover by decreasing your pace/intensity for 20-60s. Complete 5-12 rounds. Your workout time can be a total of 15-30 minutes.

Beginner Example: 20 seconds hard, 60 seconds rest (shorter work, longer rest)

Intermediate Example: 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds rest (equal ratio of work & rest)

Advanced Example: 40 or 45 seconds hard, 15-20 seconds rest (negative rest)

*You can get creative with your interval times.

My favorite is heart rate training using my Polar Beat App & HR monitor: Push as long as you need to until you reach the red zone then recover at a low intensity until you hit the green zone.

3.) Choose to complete your interval training on days you don’t strength train.

Interval training can help with fat loss & many notice the scale decrease, as well. Following a diet that’s 80% right is important for good results.

If you have 4 to 6 hours to commit to exercise a week, add leisure exercise. 

3.) Leisure Exercise 

If you can dedicate more time to your workouts each week, be sure to include some leisure exercise like walking, yoga, foam rolling, or stretching. Even doing a moderate cardio workout falls into this category. If you like to go for a run, go for it! Walking is a great low intensity exercise and can be done most days of the week without stressing your body. It’s great for recovery, as well as stretching/foam rolling/yoga. After receiving a fitbit, my goal is to reach 10,000 steps a day. Some days it’s easier, while other days require serious effort. So far, my streak has not been broken & I’ve hit my goal everyday since January 1st. Not wanting to break my streak has been extremely motivating for me and I do what it takes (even when I don’t want to) to hit my goal.

Action Steps:

1.) Find ways to move every day. On breaks at work, go for a leisure walk or practice getting up from your desk every hour. Go for a leisure walk on days you aren’t performing a challenging workout.

2.) If you need motivation, look to invest in a pedometer to know where you’re at each day. I don’t think you’ll regret the purchase!

3.) Feel free to do this daily or after strength workouts. Keep your intensity low.

Note: Many people may notice their clothes are fitting better & they see the number on the scale budge when they incorporate leisure exercise on top of interval training & strength training. Eating 80% right is crucial for this to happen for most individuals.

The biggest questions you need to ask yourself are…

1.) Am I enjoying what I’m doing? If so, you’ll do it forever.

2.) Are you seeing results? Remember, you cannot use the scale as your only method of tracking results. Take measurements with a tape measure, pay attention to your mood, how your clothes are fitting and noticing if you’re sleeping better are all positive wins!

Here’s what my current exercise program looks like: 

Monday: 30-60 minute leisure walk (really whatever it takes to hit my goal of 10,000 steps)

Tuesday: Total body strength training (45-60 minutes) + leisure walk

Wednesday: 30-60 minute leisure walk with or without 10 minutes of interval training

Thursday: Boxing Class + leisure walk

Friday: Total body strength training (45-60 minutes) + leisure walk

Satuday: Boxing Class or Incline TM/Stair Master Intervals for 20-25 minutes + leisure walking

Sunday: Total body strength training + leisure walking

Note: Do I need to leisure walk every day? No, but I enjoy it. I find it relaxing and I enjoy my time going for a walk with my dog & family. Plus, I like the personal accomplishment of hitting my goal of 10,000 steps a day. It’s motivating!

Six Ways to Be Satisfied Eating a Salad

Six Ways To Be Satisfied Eating A Salad

Six Ways to Be Satisfied Eating a SaladI remember my thoughts on salads at the very beginning of my journey. I instantly thought I was depriving myself of a good meal. Wow, has my mindset changed over the years. It took some time for me to develop taste for my favorite ingredients, but I’m glad I was patient.

Eating a salad most days of the week has significantly elevated how many servings of vegetables I eat a day. As a matter of fact, if I eat a salad, I’m guaranteed to hit my goal of at least five servings of vegetables for the day. You should get at least three servings in one meal just from choosing a salad!

In order to stay consistent every week, it’s key to make sure what you’re making is satisfying, otherwise eating a salad for several meals a week will get boring quick. When you find yourself getting bored of your healthy meals, you will always want to go back to your comfort food choices. Trust me, I’ve been there many times on my journey.

Here are six key steps I took to consistently eat salads most days of the week.

 Step 1: Choose Your Base

Every week at the grocery store, I buy the convenient pre-washed box salad. Most of the time, I buy the spring mix. When I am no longer craving salad, it’s because I’m sick of eating the same base. When spring mix is getting old, I’ll buy red romaine, butter lettuce, baby kale, spinach, or even the broccoli slaw to use as a base. Romaine lettuce should be the bare minimum base choice. Iceburg lettuce unfortunately doesn’t provide any nutrients because it’s mostly water. Skip it!

Key tip for being consistent: pay attention to when you are getting bored with your base and be sure to mix it up so you can keep this habit going forever.

Step 2: Add Crunch

This is my second favorite step because I love a good crunch! It mixes up the texture of the salad and adds beautiful color to your meal. My favorites: red cabbage, broccoli slaw, sliced celery, or slivered almonds (see more in step 4).

Step 3: Pick Your Protein

Protein is essential to staying full with a salad. If you just eat vegetables for your meal, you will be starving sooner rather than later. Two ways to pick your protein: grill a few items up on Sunday before your work week or buy something that’s been conveniently already cooked in your grocery store deli. My top three choices: chicken, taco meat or canned tuna. Other options like salmon, steak, or shrimp are great options too!

Option 3: Use your dinner leftovers for lunch the next day and just make a side salad to pair with it. I do this for at least three lunches a week such as leftover meatloaf, chicken thighs or a bun-less burger.

 Step 4: Enjoy a Serving of Fat

Fat brings every meal more flavor. Plus, it can also help you stay satisfied longer. Pick 1-2 choices for your salad (pick two small servings if you are skipping carb dense items like quinoa, dried fruit, other fruit. If you want a carb dense option, pick one small serving of fat.)

My favorites: a small scoop of pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds or sunflower seeds paired with ½ a small avocado. Delicious!! Cheese would also fall into this category.

 Step 5: Add Something Juicy

This is optional, but I’ve found this elevates the satisfaction level of my salad. My favorite: a small handful of shredded beets, tomatoes, 2 marinated artichoke hearts or roasted bell pepper. Plus, any of these options add more color!

Step Six: Change The Texture Of Your Base

Have you ever enjoyed a chopped salad? I invested in a salad chopper and it’s been a game-changer when I’m sick of regular salads. Something about chopping it up keeps me engaged in eating salads every week.

One last fun tip: buy yourself a few nice, large “salad” bowls.

I remember early on in my vegetable journey loving the big salad bowls at nice restaurants. For me, it just makes eating a salad more fun. In the picture posted, I own two of these bowls from Crate & Barrel. They were around $5-10, but it they are big enough to fit 3+ servings of vegetables without overflowing the bowl.

What About Dressing?

I remember when I first started eating salads, I loved your typical salad dressings like ranch, French, or thousand island. There are two ways to go about this. First, start weaning yourself off these choices. I started by stabbing my fork in a small container of dressing, then stabbing my salad. This will cut down on your calories significantly. Eventually, you’ll want to replace these items with something you’ve created on your own.

Tip: if your store bought dressing has soybean oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil, look to change this out.

Next, start making your own dressings! I purchased a dressing container to create my own from home, but lately, I’ve just been using a drizzle of balsamic vinegar from Williams Sonoma. This is expensive, but it takes months to use and you can taste the high quality. If you’re used to your standard dressings, it takes some time for your taste buds to adjust. But, it’s great when they learn to love it. If you dine out start ordering their house vinaigrette.

One Last Tip: Be Aware of Restaurant or Pre-packaged Salads

They can be packed with calories. Have you ever read the nutrition facts to find your salad of choice is over 700 calories? It’s always best to make your salad at home, but if you find yourself dining out, scan the menu for calories. Does it have cheese, nuts or bacon and is it tossed in dressing? These four choices can be the highest in calories.

Action Steps:

1.) First, ask for the dressing on the side to save on calories first. Most of the time I will skip the cheese if it has nuts because I find nuts more satisfying.

2.) Dried fruit can also add up in calories. Sometimes I will ask for those on the side to manage calories or I’ll keep the dried fruit & skip the second serving of fat (usually the cheese for me)

Like any food, if you stick to the same ingredients every week, you’ll get bored. Continue to find new ingredients to keep yourself engaged in eating a salad consistently!

How to Quit Dieting Forever

How to Quit Dieting Forever

Five Nutrition Habits to Help With Weight Loss Or Weight Maintenance

How to Quit Dieting ForeverWhat if I told you that you never had to diet again? Would you be relieved? Dieting can take a lot of mental energy, but I’ve learned three things in the course of my journey and five habits that have made my nutrition sustainable forever.

 

 

Three things I’ve learned: 

1.) I can’t out exercise a bad diet.

2.) I have to create a way of eating that works for me…forever.

  • (If you are currently following a diet that you can’t do forever, keep tweaking it until you can.)

3.) Follow the 5 habits 80-90% of the time and leave room for my favorite foods.

I’ve talked about how I grew up eating hamburger helper, Kraft macaroni & cheese, cheese sandwiches, Cocoa Puffs, and just about every snack you can buy in a box or a bag. I really didn’t start to change my way of eating until I graduated college and started gaining more knowledge in the nutrition field. I wouldn’t change how I grew up because it allows me to see how much I’ve grown in the last seven years!

In my younger years, I used to exercise constantly so I could continue to eat junk food. After hitting 25, this didn’t work anymore. I knew I needed to incorporate some better habits. The good part of the five habits is it has allowed me to keep my favorite foods. Striving for 80-90% compliance still gets great results! I’ve found if I can leave in a few pieces of chocolate, a cookie or going out to my favorite restaurant 1-2x a week, I find myself not feeling deprived.

Finding a way of eating that works for you takes some time and patience but it’s definitely do-able. Here is what has worked for me and individuals I work with.

Habit 1: Make vegetables a staple in your diet. Strive for at least 3 servings a day. 5+ servings is ideal. 

This isn’t breaking news. We all know we need to eat vegetables daily for weight loss, great energy and a way to get a great source of fiber, vitamins and nutrients in. Plus, vegetables fill you up without adding a ton of calories. Learn more here on how I increased my vegetable intake over time.

What’s a serving of vegetables?

1 cup of leafy greens (spinach, kale, romaine, butter lettuce, etc.)

1/2 cup of cooked or raw vegetables

Don’t want to measure? A fist is roughly the size of a serving. In order to hit the recommended servings, focus on getting at least one serving with every meal.

Habit #2: Eat a source of protein with every meal 

Protein helps you stay full for several hours, stabilizes blood sugar and helps maintain & increase lean muscle mass. Practice incorporating protein at every single meal. Strive for at least 60 grams of protein a day (20 grams per meal if you eat three meals a day). I personally do best when I eat closer to 80-100 grams a day.

Servings and examples:

Read your labels for serving sizes or use the size of your palm for a minimum amount of protein with each meal (about 20 grams).

Protein examples: eggs, egg whites, turkey, chicken, beef, pork, bison, fish, shell fish, game meats, dairy products like cottage cheese, cheese, Greek yogurt or a high quality protein powder.

Vegetarian or vegan? Plant based proteins include beans, quinoa, nuts, seeds.

Habit #3: Make water your beverage of choice 

I have come a long way in this department. For most of my teenage and early adult life, diet pepsi, propel, diet snapple, mountain dew and fruit juice made up my liquid consumption. There are so many benefits to drinking water. I notice healthier skin, improved energy, preventing muscle fatigue, and most of all, it keeps me hydrated. When I was drinking fruit juice and diet drinks, my taste buds were so elevated to sweet. I remember trying something unsweetened and hating it! After switching out diet drinks and juice and drinking more water, I automatically desensitized my taste to sweet. Now, the diet drinks taste too sweet!

Action Steps:

1.) Strive for half your body weight in ounces of water (150 lb person should drink 75 ounces of water) If this seems like too much, make sure your pee is clear or a light yellow so you know you’re hydrated.

2.) Use a straw to help get the ounces in. This was a game-changer for me! For some reason, a straw has helped me hit my goal daily.

3.) Slowly switch out your normal drinks for water. If you love soda like I did, start weening yourself and replace it with water.

4.) Start your day with a large glass of water.

5.) Don’t like plain water? Add lemon, lime, cucumber or a few pieces of fruit for flavor.

6.) Try sparkling water for something new. I enjoy drinking a can of La Croix a few times a week to mix things up.

Habit #4: Include healthy fats in your meal plans 

Fat is great for your hormones, brain and cell membrane health, healthy skin, and feeling satiated between meals! Fat also gives your food (especially vegetables) flavor! Use it to roast or sauté vegetables.

Healthy fat examples: raw nuts, raw seeds, nut butter, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado, fish oil, flax oil, olives, and animial fats like eggs and meat.

Be sure to read your labels if you’re buying something from a bag or box. Fats to avoid most of the time include vegetable oils and canola oil.

Action Steps 

1.) Add 2-4 servings of healthy fat into your daily meal plan.

2.) Watch serving sizes. It’s easy to overeat healthy fats.

3.) If you’re looking for weight loss, cut down on the amount of carbohydrates and eat more healthy fat so you’re eating enough calories.

Example meal: Baked salmon with roasted broccoli (baked in olive or coconut oil).

Habit #5: Eat slowly and stop at 80% full 

I’m a recovering speed eater. I would eat so fast that after my meal, I would immediately look in the refrigerator or cupboards to find what else I could eat. Shortly after, I would feel stuffed! It has taken some time to slow down my eating, but now I’m much more in tune with feeling satisfied versus stuffed.

Action Steps: 

1.) Eat on small plates. If you put an appropriate portion size on a dinner plate, it looks small and your brain might automatically think you’re depriving yourself. By eating on small plates, your meal looks larger.

2.) Chew your food thoroughly. I’ve shared this with many people that I would always chomp, chomp, swallow. Now, I chew about 20-30x before swallowing. The texture should be a soft mash in your mouth. Some things (like raw vegetables) take longer to eat, while other great food choices may not take as much time.

3.) Set down your fork between bites. It’s easy to use your fork as a shovel. Try setting it down after each bite and chew thoroughly.

4.) Eliminate distractions. If you’re watching television, talking on the phone or working on a computer, it’s easy to overeat. Take some time to eliminate the distractions so you can enjoy your meal.

What about eating carbohydrates? Something to consider: If you’re trying to lose weight, eat starchy carbohydrates on days with challenging workouts . If you’re looking to maintain your weight, find how many carbohydrates you need to keep your weight stable. 

Carbohydrates aren’t evil. As a matter of fact, we need them for energy! Eliminating carbs completely doesn’t work for most people forever. Individuals who exercise a lot need plenty of carbs to perform and keep their energy up. So, you need to find you’re sweet spot with how many carbs you need.

If you’re looking to lose weight, save your starchy carbohydrates (bread, oats, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit) for days where you get in a challenging workout. They are best consumed after your workout. You can start with 1/2 cup to a cup at one or two meals. Trial and error until you find what keeps your energy up, hunger stable and cravings low.

On days that you don’t exercise or perhaps do a leisure walk, focus on using vegetables and low sugar fruit (berries, apples, grapefruit) to make up your carbohydrate intake. Be sure to eat enough healthy fat (3-5 servings).

If you’re looking to maintain your weight, pay attention to how many carbs help you maintain your weight. Some people can do well with some carbs at every meal (1/2 cup to 1 cup). Others may need to pay attention to their exercise intake.

Note: The most important thing to keep in mind is paying attention to your energy level. If you’re eating well and exercising, but have awful energy, you’ll need to increase your carb intake.

 

 

 

Heart Rate Training For Your Workouts

Three Ways to Mix Up Your Workout Routine

Even working in the fitness industry, I catch myself getting bored of my workouts. Here are three things that are keeping me engaged and loving every workout!

1.) Heart Rate Training 

Heart Rate Training For Your WorkoutsI have used a heart rate monitor before, but simply to have the awareness of how hard I was working during my workouts. It was motivating! I have to admit, I took a long break from my watch and band because I got bored. Now, I’ve learned a new way to track my heart rate during workouts by working into three zones.

I purchased a new Polar heart rate monitor (bluetooth) and downloaded the Polar Beat app. Three to four times a week, I’ll use my monitor and app to track the intensity of my cardio and strength workouts. My goal: to stay at least 20 minutes in the yellow and red zone throughout the entire workout. Working up to this intensity can help create a metabolic disturbance so you’re metabolism is elevated 20-40 hours afterwards.

Example workout:

Pick your choice of cardio: increase to a challenging resistance/speed until you reach the red zone. Once you’ve reached the red zone, lower the intensity until you reach the green zone. Continue to go back and forth for 15-20 minutes.

Elliptical:

Warm up 1-2 minutes at a light resistance.

Resistance Level 14 until you reach the red zone.

Resistance Level 6 until you reach the green zone.

Metabolic Training

Warm up of your choice

20 Goblet Squats

40 Mountain Climbers (20 each leg)

20 KB Swings

15 Push Ups

20 Lateral Lunges (10 each side)

10 Push ups

10 Renegade Rows

20 Lunge Jumps (10 each side)

  • Complete as many exercises back to back until you reach the red zone then pause and wait until you reach the green zone. Once you’ve reached the green zone, continue where you left off in the circuit.

2.) Fitbit 

Use a fitbit for consistent exercise Pedometers have been around forever and I was never really interested in owning one until last month. I received one for Christmas and it has been motivating me more than ever. First of all, I thought I moved more than I actually did. I enjoy exercising daily for the mental clarity, whether it’s a short, leisure walk, yoga, weight training, or even doing a quick run to break a sweat. After owning a fitbit for a few weeks, I realized I don’t really get that many steps in naturally. I averaged about 5,000. It’s definitely helped me move more! I go for a few leisure walks a day and find other ways increase my steps. So far, I’ve been able to hit 10,000 steps most days, but it takes some effort. Exercising intensely can cause overtraining and can even stall results because you’re stressing your body too much. Leisure walking is a great low intensity exercise that you can do everyday because it doesn’t elevate your stress hormones.

3.) Try Something Completely New

I’ve always wanted to try boxing and finally I signed up to take a class. I love it. It has challenged me mentally (learning new skills) and physically. Trying something new for exercise can also be great for working out of a plateau, plus help you work through a mental block of exercise.

 

A blueprint action guide to help you stick to your new year resolution goals in 2016.

How To Stick To Your New Year’s Resolution All Year Long

A blueprint action guide to help you stick to your new year resolution goals in 2016. Well it’s that time of year again; time to think and reflect about how you would like to grow and better yourself in 2016. This is an exciting time of the year because motivation to change is at it’s peak. I’m reading a lot online right now on why you shouldn’t set goals and some coaches are promoting anti-resolutions. Everyone has their own view on this topic, but I personally like resolutions. It gives you some time to think about what you really want to accomplish over the course of the next 12 months. Once you’ve reflected on what you want to change this year, be sure to set up your action steps. My advice: look at the big picture of what you want to accomplish, then put together baby steps to get there. This is key to not draining your mental energy or willpower throughout the journey over the next 12 months.  

I’ve written a detailed blue print to success to change guide here, but I decided I wanted a summarized version.

1.) Discover your why. Ask yourself why you want to make this change. Why is it important to you?

2.) Become aware of where you are currently. Learn more about yourself and see where you currently stand. How are you acting now compared to where you want to be?

3.) Take action. Start with one, simplified change. Find an easy step that will help you change and work towards your goal, but won’t drain your mental energy.

4.) Be accountable & practice consistency. Notice how I didn’t say practice perfection. Being perfect only leads to a negative outcome. Be sure to realize slip ups will occur along the way, but don’t let it discourage you from trying again. Tracking your progress allows you to learn from mistakes.

5.) Simplify your process and build a habit. How do you know it’s a habit? When you don’t have to think about your goal anymore because you do it naturally.