How I Know It’s Time for a Diet Reset & Ideas for What to Eat

I did a Whole30 in January of this year. I recap my experience here. Since then, I have felt pretty good! In Melissa Hartwig’s new book, Food Freedom Forever, she states that everyone will eventually fall off track. It happens to everyone whether you are dealing with stress, the holiday season, post vacation blues, etc. I didn’t really notice myself “falling off track” until recently returning home from my 16 days in Europe. I practiced what I preach while I was on vacation by splitting meals, getting in my veggies, packing workout gear and more. Read my tools and tricks here.

When I returned home, I got back to cooking my go-to food in the kitchen and doubling my water, but I still struggling with sugar cravings. I found myself needing a sweet treat daily. This didn’t surprise me because I was enjoying a sweet treat daily in Europe. Cravings will sky rocket when you are doing this (and I knew this) so I accepted the consequences and enjoyed every bite of what I was eating on my trip.

After finding myself caving into cravings for one week post Europe, I knew it was time for a hard reset to feel back to normal again.

Nothing does the trick better than completing a Whole30. While I intended to start on Tuesday, September 5th, I ended up starting on Wednesday, September 6th. A week has passed and I’m already starting to feel like my normal self! I’d thought I’d share what’s working for me and what I’m cookin’!

My Whole30 Keys to Success

1.) Always cook enough for leftovers. 

As you will see in my example meals from my first full week of my September Whole30, I always make enough for at least one leftover meal. I cook for two so each meal makes at least four servings. Leftovers don’t always have to be for lunch or dinner. I’ve used them for breakfast too! If you cook for one, think of meals that freeze really well so when the times come when you don’t want to cook, you have a single serving meal ready to thaw from the freezer. Leftovers also help decrease the amount of time you have to cook throughout the week.

2.) Find new fun projects or things to do. 

While my weekends are filled with different activities or commitments, I always enjoy going out to a favorite restaurant on Saturday. It’s something I look forward to. Therefore, I knew for my Whole30 this month I would need new things to look forward to. To replace going out for a meal or drinks, I’ve planned a hiking trip & I started working on putting together my vacation photo albums. So far it’s been a great replacement.

3.) Seek out new recipes.

The Whole30recipes page on Instagram is my favorite resource for new recipes. Each week they bring on a new food blogger to share their favorite ideas & tricks for doing a Whole30. Like I have mentioned before, sometimes your go-to recipes get old so it’s key to introduce new recipes when you are getting bored.

4.) Don’t forget it’s okay to stick with the basics. 

If I tried to cook a new, fancy meal every night, I would burn out quickly. So, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to eat a can of tuna fish or just grill up a chicken breast for a meal. Have some go-to staples ready in your pantry or refrigerator for those nights when you really don’t want to cook. You’ll see some meals that easily fall into the “basic meal” category below.

Example Meals & Recipe Links

I usually eat 4 meals a day. One meal is usually a snack that consists of whatever I have available. A lot of the time I use deli turkey, veggies, fruit, nuts or nut butter. Here is a week worth of meal ideas!

Wednesday, September 6th 

  1. Breakfast: Chicken Skillet (spinach, ground chicken, bell pepper, onions) + a side of raspberries
  2. Lunch: Roasted Chicken thighs with Brussels Sprouts & Roasted Sweet Potato
  3. Dinner: Turkey chili with a side salad

Thursday, September 7th 

  1. Breakfast: 1 Chicken thigh + 1 fried egg + 2 cups spinach and a side of raspberries
  2. Lunch: Leftover Turkey Chili with a side salad
  3. Dinner: Salmon Cakes (From the Whole30 cookbook) with a side salad

Friday, September 8th 

  1. Breakfast: 1.5 Salmon cakes + 2 cups romaine + a side of berries
  2. Leftover Chili with 1/2 salmon cake on the side + 2 deli turkey slices (eating up what’s left in the fridge!)
  3. Picadillo with a side salad. For this recipe, click here! I don’t make them as tacos, but just as a meat sauce.

Saturday, September 9th 

  1. Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 2 cups spinach + a side of roasted red potatoes (spinach not pictured – I eat it out of the box sometimes!)
  2. Lunch: Leftover Picadillo + a side salad
  3. Dinner: Whole Foods Hot Bar. This is great for a Whole30 because they list all of the ingredients used for each hot bar entree. I picked the pork carnitas, butternut squash, two strawberries and a salad

Sunday, September 10th 

  1. Breakfast: 1 fried egg, ground chicken, leftover bacon & roasted red potatoes + a side of spinach
  2. Lunch: 2 sausages, asparagus, berry salad
  3. Dinner: Grilled chicken breast, roasted sweet potato & steamed broccoli

Monday, September 11th 

  1. Breakfast: ground chicken, spinach salad, side of raspberries + 1 TB almond butter
  2. Lunch: collard green wrap with tuna fish & homemade mayo + a side of roasted sweet potato (not shown)
  3. Dinner: Chicken & Vegetable soup

Tuesday, September 12th 

  1. Breakfast: leftover ground chicken + 1 fried egg, spinach salad, side of raspberries + 1 TB almond butter
  2. Lunch: collard green deli turkey wrap with homemade mayo + roasted butternut squash + 1/2 apple
  3. Dinner: Chicken & Sweet potato curry. For the recipe, click here! This was my one new recipe for the week, but my husband and I loved it! It will make the monthly go-to rotation in our kitchen. I followed the slow cooker instructions.
Popular personal development books

Six Books That Have Changed My Life – Better Health & Relationships

I have been drawn to personal development books for the last five years. As a matter of fact, until recently, it’s all I read! Out of all the books, I wanted to share six books that have ultimately changed my life for the better.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Stick to a budgetThis book has completely changed my life as far as my relationship with money. While I always valued saving money every month for a rainy day, I often would spend mindlessly. I wasn’t very aware of prices at the grocery store, constantly dined out and I spent money at Nordstrom every single month…just because. After reading this book, I realized I never really knew where my money. How much was I spending on groceries, dining out, the mall or putting into my savings account? I also realized I wanted to start traveling more, but how could I afford it? Read how I transformed my budget to start traveling more here.

I read this book in 2011 and ever since then, I have made time to create a monthly budget every single month. In my monthly planner, I write down how much money I want to save in my savings account and travel savings account, as well as calculating how much money goes towards groceries, paying bills, gas, restaurants/shopping & misc. spending like toilet paper, dog food or unexpected expenses. I know where every penny goes every month. I’m not perfect with my budget and I don’t follow all of Dave’s tips. He’s a firm believer in an envelope cash system. I use my credit card for everything since it’s a cash rewards card, but I make sure I pay it off every month. Since I have unlimited bank transfers, I track my expenses as they come in and simply transfer money to my credit card from my checking account as if my credit card was a debit card. If you are wanting to learn how to be on top of your finances every month, read this fantastic book.

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The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

This book has changed my relationship with my husband and loved ones. It’s so intriguing how the author breaks down the five ways individuals receive/”feel” love. My love language: acts of services. I love it when my husband cooks dinner, washes my car or helps around the house. This is where I feel love the most. My husband’s love language: quality time. He loves it when I give him my undivided attention. We used to get in small arguments because I have a bad habit of playing on my cell phone or computer. I actually used to get mad at him because he would get mad at me. I always thought, “what’s the big deal about being on my cell phone?” After reading this book, I understood the deep meaning behind his frustration…he just want to spend quality time together! Now I make a conscious effort to speak his love language every week.

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The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

how to break bad habitsThis book has helped me in many ways in life but mostly my relationship with food. You’l learn how a habit starts, turns to autopilot then how to break the bad habit. The author explains it’s all about identifying your habit loop (cue-routine-reward). Your cue & reward will never change, but it’s your routine that needs to change in order for you to change your behavior.

What causes my food cravings? I learned a few things that pinpointed why I get cravings for sugar or comfort food by identifying the cue, my routine and reward. What’s my cue? The two most common things: what’s my mood & who am I with? Most of my young adult life, I always searched in my parents’ pantry for junk food when I was bored. I also usually consumed junk food with my family. It’s something we have always bonded over…and still do. What’s my reward? My reward was usually the desire of doing something fun together (good food = good time) or if I was eating out of boredom, I was looking for a distraction. Find a new routine – I had to ask myself what other things could I do when I’m bored that doesn’t involve eating & what other things are fun that don’t involve food with my family? I learned we could save our favorite foods for special occasions.

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Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig

I’ve blogged about my Whole30 experience here. But, what happens after you complete a Whole30? How can you introduce your favorite comfort foods back into your life without them causing negative side effects or worse, feeling out of control with your eating? Melissa creates a guide for success. What I enjoyed most about this book is it teaches you how to identify when you are starting to slip back into old habits. This will happen to anyone. She provides the four most common ways people fall off track with their healthy eating, but offers great tools to get back on track. When I completed the Whole30 in January, I felt great for three solid months. I didn’t have any strong urges for sweets, but enjoyed something when I really wanted it. It wasn’t until after my trip to NYC (aka dessert paradise) where I noticed I had moments when I was eating food that really wasn’t worth it. Sure, the food choices tasted good, but they truly fell into the average category instead of the “wow” category. Plus, the more I continued to put these things in my body, the harder it was to control my cravings. Once I noticed my cravings were really starting to elevate, I knew it was time to do a Whole30 reset to get back into check.

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The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

how to improve your willpowerThis was one of the first personal development books I read and it still is one of my favorites. A Stanford professor, Kelly McGonigal, provides the science behind willpower, the mental traps most of us struggle with and other factors that relate to our self-control. Best of all, she gives practical steps on how to become more mindful of your actions & how to strengthen your willpower for lifelong changes. Each chapter has a recap of action steps. This book doesn’t just focus on weight loss or better health, but hits all aspects of life.

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The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

As it states on the back of the book, the author “reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us joy and create needless suffering.” He explains the four agreements: don’t take things personally, be impeccable with your word, don’t make assumptions and always do your best. It’s true, when you follow these agreements, you simply feel happier. I related to all four agreements. What happens if I don’t make assumptions about a relationship? What if I told myself I did my best? What happens when I don’t take things personally? This book was an eye opener and has really helped me transform my thoughts about myself, my relationships with friends & family, my work environment and even being around strangers.

The Secret to Success With Diet and Exercise

My Biggest Secret To Success with Diet & Exercise

The Secret to Success With Diet and ExerciseOver the course of my career, I’ve worked with hundreds of people looking to improve their diet or stick to an exercise plan. It’s hard for anyone to truly make a change, especially if they have years or decades of less than stellar habits. I’ve written about my own journey here.

So, what’s the secret for actually making a lifestyle last…well…forever?

Make your meals satisfying and enjoy what you’re doing for an exercise program. 

For diet: If you are cooking healthy meals that you don’t enjoy, your journey at cooking healthy will be short lived. The common American comfort foods are popular for a reason – they’re satisfying and they keep us wanting to come back for more! So, how can you make your home cooked meals or healthy meal dining out satisfying?

  • Add fat for flavor. Fats tend to get bad press. Remember in the early 90’s when everything needed to be low fat? All fats are not bad fats. My go-to fat choices are olive oil, ghee, coconut oil or even butter. I rarely eat vegetables raw or steamed because I simply don’t like them as much (except carrots, leafy greens & steamed green beans because they are enjoyable). I roast or sauté almost all of my vegetables with my choice of fat. This is what keeps me eating vegetables every single day. My current top four veggies choices: sautéed zucchini noodles (garlic powder, salt, pepper in ghee), sautéed mushrooms (with minced garlic, salt, pepper in ghee), roasted sweet potatoes (chili powder, salt, pepper in olive oil), roasted Brussels sprouts (garlic powder, salt, pepper, in olive oil).
  • Find healthy snacks you love. Every week, I buy a container of fresh almond butter from my local PCC grocery store. It’s expensive but it’s a 10 on a satisfaction level and it helps me from wanting to eat sugar. Sometimes I eat it on celery, while most times, I get out my tablespoon and a tiny spoon to eat it with. I eat two TBs slowly and savor. Other things I enjoy: roasted nuts, Pink lady apples, whole carrots, bell peppers, a plain rice cake with almond butter + fruit spread or my Trader Joe nitrite-free ham. All great healthy choices, but most of all, they tame my sugar cravings because I find all these snacks very satisfying.
  • Choose a variety of protein choices. Yes, there are many benefits to white fish, chicken breast or 99% ground turkey. I have many go-to meals where those choices are delicious, but I don’t eat them 24/7. Egg whites also fall into this category. I incorporate eggs, chicken thighs, pulled pork or steaks a few times in my weekly meals. Since they have more flavor because of the slightly higher fat level, they keep me on track instead of wanting to get takeout Thai, pizza or burgers. Plus, it’s a nice balance between the leaner choices I make throughout the week. Example: A few meals a week for breakfast I’ll make two fried eggs, I’ll choose the carnitas at the Whole Foods buffet for lunch and for the past month, I’ve been roasting chicken thighs for one meal a week. Since my satisfaction level is so high with these meals, I don’t find myself with sugar cravings afterwards or wishing I had gone out for pizza instead.

Bottom line: I prefer to make the healthy choices over my favorite comfort foods because I learned how to make them really satisfying. I still love going out for pizza, but I no longer want it as much as I used to.

For exercise: Ask yourself if you look forward to your next workout? If exercise feels like a chore, you might not have found what you like yet. I realize there are some people who simply don’t like exercising, but there has to be a reason to keep them doing it every week. Do they like the increased energy? Do they like how it relieves stress? Do they like how their clothes fit? Do they enjoy the personal satisfaction of completing a workout? Regardless, there needs to find a deep reason for exercising every week, otherwise it won’t truly stick as a lifestyle. Here are some my go-to workout choices and the reasoning behind it.

  1. Walking. I walk at least 30 minutes every day. For me, I have to move daily to release the small stressors in life that build up. Walking allows me to clear my head, resets my intentions and truly makes me feel better. I also like the personal satisfaction of hitting my step goal of 10,000+ steps. Lastly, it’s an opportunity to spend time with my dog. He loves his walks and when he is happy, I’m happy.
  2. Strength Training. I commit to three full body workouts a week. I try to stick to the same days every week for the habit (Tuesday, Friday, Sunday). These are usually my favorite days of the week for exercise. Lifting weights makes me feel strong physically and mentally, plus I like the challenge of trying new movements. I switch my strength program every four weeks to prevent boredom, but also to keep my body from adapting to my program.
  3. High Intensity Intervals. Again, I try to stick to specific days of the week for the habit. I take a boxing class every Thursday morning. Nothing feels better than hitting and kicking the crap out of a punching bag. I also enjoy incline walking. Recently, I’ve set the goal of trying to climb 2,000 feet in less than 30 minutes. It’s my latest challenge! I also love completing sprint intervals. All three of these workouts leave me feeling happier after ever session.

Bottom line: if you haven’t found something you like to do for exercise, be open minded and try new things. Maybe you’ll learn you love to exercise in a group setting or in the comfort of your own home.

If you are currently working on building lasting healthy habits, pay attention to what may cause you to fall off track. Are you not enjoying your workouts? Are your meals satisfying? After years of practice and learning, I’ve finally found what works for me. Don’t give up on your journey. The more your work it, the easier it gets! Remember, you don’t want to strive to be perfect. 80-90% compliance gets great results and truly helps a habit stick forever.

Six Things I Look for BEFORE Investing in a Gym Membership

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I have always loved being in a gym environment. Now, I realize not everyone loves the gym. Maybe it’s being around others, the driving time to even get to the gym, or not knowing what to do, people have countless reasons for not ever wanting to have a gym membership. The good thing is you can get results anywhere! However, I wanted to write a quick post for those individuals who do have a gym membership. I have been a member of several gyms over the last ten years, but I always do a walk through before actually signing up for a membership. Here are six “must have” equipment items a gym needs to have before I invest in a membership. These items help me stay engaged in working out consistently because they offer variety & an enjoyable workout.

 

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1.) Bumper Plates and Barbells

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Now, most gyms will have squat racks or benches with barbells, but not all gyms have bumper plates. Bumper plates are ideal because they are smooth all the way, which allows you to do exercises like deadlifts or hip thrusts much easier. The other plates at the gym have edges (like an octagon) so every rep you complete from the floor isn’t as smooth because it catches the edge and sometimes it shifts the barbell. Now, it’s not the end of the world if the gym doesn’t have bumper plates but it’s a big win if they do. 

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2.) TRX

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TRX training continues to get more popular. Even studios like Orange Theory or small group studios have them. They are great for your strength training program because it allows you to make an exercise easier or harder. Plus, it stabilizes your core with every exercise. 

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3.) Cable Machine

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This is another great machine to do a wide variety of upper body and core exercises. I don’t do much for lower body strength exercises, but there are a few isolating moves you can do.

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4.) Kettlebells and Medicine Balls

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These two pieces of equipment are great for more explosive exercises, as well as “aerobic” strength moves.  Plus, they make doing cardio fun! 

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5.) Plyometric Boxes

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Not only are they great for basic moves like step ups or elevated glute bridges, but you can also do explosive exercises like box jumps. Not all gyms have these soft boxes like mine, but it’s a huge plus if you enjoy doing box jumps since because they provide a soft landing. It also helps if you have a mental block or fear of not being able to land on the top of the box. 

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6.) Assisted Pull Up Machine

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For most women, it’s hard to do a pull up and in order to get stronger at them, you have to practice. The pull up machine is a great tool to use to improve your upper body strength. The more weight you use, the more the machine will help you. The goal: use less weight every month so you can eventually complete a pull up on your own. The assisted pull up machine is also great for completing higher reps. I’ll use it if I’m trying to complete 15 reps. 

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So, if you currently have a gym membership and are not using any of the following equipment items, walk around your gym to see if they are available. Stay tuned for next week as I have prepared to share my favorite go-to exercises using the equipment above!

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Practice Makes Progress

Since this is the beginning of a New Year, we all get excited about our goals. How can we not? Motivation is high and you’re ready to put in the effort to make it work. It’s easy to visualize what success looks like.

What We Think Success Looks Like

But many times that excitement fades because you will have days when you don’t want to put in 100% effort or you start to lose that motivation. It happens to all of us! The main reason people don’t follow through with resolutions is because of setbacks. It’s easy to think, “I failed and I’m giving up.” When your mental energy is burned out from making decisions all day, all you have left are your habits and they are either good or bad. But, how do we transform those bad habits to good habits?

There are so many success stories in our society. “I failed three times before I made it.” J.K. Rowling was denied by a dozen publishers. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team. Bill Gates’ first business failed.

What success actually looks like

Working towards your goal is hard work and the only way to conquer your goal is to work it, accept that a setback or obstacle will come, but from learn it and move forward. 

This approach can help you with everything in life. Whether you are trying to become debt-free, lose weight, eat healthier, exercise consistently, strengthen a relationship, or land a big job.

Two questions to ask yourself when a setback occurs:

1.) What could have caused this?

2.) What can I practice next time?

Practice makes progress.

When you analyze why a setback happened, you’ll have the opportunity to get back on track faster. You may try something new and find out it didn’t work at all. Go back to the drawing board until you find what does work.

You may notice over time that the more you learn, the longer you will stay on track too because you won’t be constantly working through obstacles. You’ll have new work-arounds to keep you moving forward without slowing you down.

With this mindset and effort, results will happen. You will chip away at your debt, you will lose weight, you will consistently make better nutrition choices or get more exercise, your relationship will feel stronger or you will learn what it will take to land that job you want.

It’s easy to reflect on my own journey. Exercise is effortless for me but it’s because I have decades of practice with playing sports and loving the feeling of being active. But with my nutrition habits, I have decades of practice of eating processed foods, desserts and take out consistently. With seven years of practice for me, I’ve realized I’ve completely transformed my nutrition, but it didn’t happen overnight. If I never practiced getting better after my first nutritional setback (essentially given up), I’d be sitting at Day 1, starting over again.

Over the course of the year, I want you to remind yourself of all the success stories that happened due to failing first. Remind yourself that having a setback gives you an opportunity to learn, push yourself and eventually change yourself for the better. With this mindset, you’ll be able to reflect at the end of the year and realize how far you’ve grown.

Yes, You Can Enjoy Your Holiday Treats & Stay Fit Too

Yes, You Can Have Your Holiday Treats & Stay Fit Too

The holidays are here and we all have our own holiday traditions to celebrate. We all know it can be challenging to maintain your weight and weight gain is common during this time of year. But, it doesn’t have to be this way and by focusing on a few solid strategies, you can enjoy your treats and stay fit too.

Schedule Your Workouts Like an Appointment 

How to Maintain Your Weight During the Holidays

Exercise is essential to maintaining your weight over the holiday season.  Don’t look at exercise as a punishment for enjoying your favorites holiday treats, but more as a way of feeling good physically and mentally. The holiday season is busy and stressful for many people and it’s very easy to make it appear that you don’t have time for your normal workout routine. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do for your exercise program. Take a look at your schedule week(s) in advance and plan your workouts like an appointment you can’t miss. No excuses allowed. Don’t pick days that *might* work because this makes it easier to possibly talk yourself out of skipping it if your day doesn’t go as planned. Remember, workouts don’t have to be an hour long to be effective. Simply find a way to consistently move at least three times per week.

Look Forward to Your Splurges 

Everyone has a certain “bliss” point. Some people may love their cocktails, while others like sweets or savory meals. Regardless what you love, have a plan for when you want to enjoy it. This goes back to looking at your calendar and writing in your fun activities. This helps you stay aware of days where you may indulge in something more calorie dense and it can help you say no to something tempting that may come up unexpectedly. I love looking ahead because it reminds me it’s important to make a good choice today because I know I will really enjoy (fill in the blank here) at my holiday party on Saturday.

Ask Yourself if It’s Worth It 

Temptations are everywhere this time of year. Whether it’s holiday parties, treats at work, or special “holiday” items that only come around once a year, it’s hard to say no. I’ve been there before where I found myself eating everything that crossed my path for years during the holiday season. In order to break this cycle, I had to start focusing on what foods I truly enjoyed and which foods I could easily pass on. Create a short list for yourself of foods or drinks that are too good to pass up. Also, think of items in the past that weren’t “blow your hair back” good and practice saying no this month.

My worth it foods: our family holiday cookies, homemade pie, Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner, or a meal at one of my favorite restaurants.

Not worth it items: most store bought items, fast food and most alcohol.

Practice Consistency

The holiday season can really challenge your healthy habit consistency. Weight gain or weight loss occurs when you are consistent. During the holidays, if you find yourself consistently indulging and skipping your workouts, most likely you will start the New Year heavier than before the holiday season. However, if you consistently stick to your good habits during the holidays, but savor your favorites, you will start the New Year without any setbacks. Here are a few things to keep in mind this month.

  • Make 80% of your meals filled with a good source of protein & vegetables.
  • Stick to your workout calendar.
  • Find work-arounds when something doesn’t go as planned.
  • Bring your water bottle with you everywhere you go.
  • Find ways to decrease your stress that don’t involve food or alcohol (hot bath, tea, a good book, phone a friend, listen to relaxing music, etc.)
  • Learn what to say to friends or family members who pressure you to indulge when you really don’t want to.

Find Go-To Emergency Meals

Since the holidays are so busy, plan in the back of your head what you could eat in case you find yourself doing last minute holiday shopping, working late or anything else where you are not wanting to cook. It’s okay if you don’t want to cook a healthy meal, but don’t let it be an excuse to cave into comfort food. The old me always ordered pizza or went out to a comfort food restaurant. This is where having a go-to emergency meal is essential and if you do decide to make something from home, make it as quick as possible.

At home ideas: reheated leftovers, canned tuna/chicken, an omelet or lastly, a good protein shake. Keep veggies in the freezer (or in the fridge) that you can easily whip up for a side.

Have a few go-to restaurants: Preferably, pick somewhere where you aren’t tempted by comfort foods. I can definitely make a good choice at a Mexican restaurant, but if I’m tired or stressed, I will eat the free chips that come out right away. However, Chipotle works great for me because I have to buy the chips and it’s a no brainer to pass.

My two go-to places: Whole Foods Salad Bar or Chipotle (salad, chicken, salsa, fajita veggies and a side of guacamole)

 

How To Quickly Shed Vacation Weight Gain

The last three weeks have been incredible for me! I had a wonderful wedding ceremony and reception on August 27th and then went on a two week honeymoon to Europe. I love exploring new cities throughout Europe and make it a priority to travel there every year. After traveling through Southern France, Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam, I came home with many pictures, memories….and 5 more pounds to my body!

That’s right, I gained five pounds in the last 2.5 weeks, while my husband lost four pounds (insert mad face here). Luckily, I have zero guilt about it because everything I ate in Europe was worth it and I savored every single bite! Now, some of the five pounds gained is water retention, while a pound or two may be fat. I wanted to share my five go-to strategies to shed my Europe vacation weight quickly.

1.) Drink Water Like It’s Your Job 

waterIn order to shed the water retention, you have to drink a lot of water. My focus is to drink 125 ounces of water, which equals to about five Starbucks cups. I like to use my water bottle to keep track of my ounces because it helps me stay on track.

2.) Let Veggies Be Your Carb Source Temporarily 

Even when I was in Europe, I made sure to eat vegetable every day, but it was no where near the amount that I eat at home. Since I consumed delicious almond croissants, chocolate, fruit tarts, bread and pizza throughout on vacation, I’m happy to take a break from any type of splurge food. For quick weight loss, eat 1-2 servings of non-starchy vegetables every meal. My goal is 5-8 servings a day. This helps me stay full, while also filling up on nutrients! I’m taking a temporary break from fruit, potatoes, rice, rice cakes (my normal go-to starchy carbs) for the next 3-5 days.

polar3.) Exercise Intensely

I walked a ton in Europe (185,000 steps in a week) but I did not have one intense workout. It was nice to get back to my routine!

This workout consisted of 20 minutes of stair mill intervals (Level 13 for 40 seconds and Level 3 for 20-30 seconds).

I completed the following circuit 3x.

  • 100 jumps with a jump rope
  • 15 up and overs on a step box
  • 30 second heavy ropes
  • 30 speed skaters

4.) Eat Plenty of Protein 

Each meal I’ve been focusing on eating at least 20 grams of protein. I have also stuck to very low fat protein sources like chicken breast, ground turkey and tuna fish. I don’t eat much dairy, but when I do, it’s normally cheese. Dairy can cause an inflammatory response in the body for some individuals, which could slow down weight loss, so I will eliminate any cheese from meals temporarily.

5.) Watch Salt & Eat From Home

Even if I’m eating a grilled chicken salad at a restaurant, I’m still consuming a lot of salt. In order to shed water weight, you need to watch how much salt you’re consuming. My goal is to keep salt to a minimum by watching how I season my foods and avoiding salty options like deli meats. Again, I’ll focus on minimizing salt for 3-5 days before going back to my normal cooking. To season protein sources like ground turkey or chicken breast, I love using no-salt seasoning.

Example Day 

Sun Warrior Protein Shake with unsweetened almond milk, 1 Tablespoon of Raw Almond Butter, 1 cup spinach.

Lunch: Baked Chicken with Olive Oil and No-Salt seasoning paired with veggies.

Snack: Can of Tuna with Celery, Onion, Peppers, Lemon Juice and 1/2 small Avocado

Dinner: Grilled Bun-less Turkey Burger with steamed veggies

Exercise: Walk 30+ minutes a day paired with a strength workout OR complete a high intensity workout (30 minutes) paired with 30 minutes+ of leisure walking.

This type of eating and exercising cannot be done long-term and it’s meant to be done in short cycles. Mentally, it’s challenging because food choices are more strict and carbohydrates are limited. As for exercising, you don’t want to tax your body every single day. So, after 3-5 days of hard exercise, a rest day is important. Rest days usually consist of stretching, foam rolling and walking.

 

Healthy & Fresh Pico de Gallo Recipe

Pico de Gallo with Avocado

I’m always trying to find new ideas to add to my meals. Luckily, my sister made this during our beach trip a few weeks ago and it was a hit! I put it on taco meat, fajitas or just take a few spoonfuls! Enjoy!

Pico de Gallo with Avocado

Healthy & Fresh Pico de Gallo Recipe2 Roma Tomatoes

1/2 onion (I’ve used red and yellow)

1 avocado, diced in small chunks

1 lime, juiced

2-4 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro

2 small jalapeños, diced & remove seeds

Salt to Taste (I used a little less than 1/2 tsp)

Stir all together and enjoy!

How to Stay Motivated to Eat Healthy When You're Craving Unhealthy Foods

What Inspires Me to Stick with a Healthy Lifestyle

Over the last eight years, a lot has changed in the course of my nutrition journey. Exercise has always been enjoyable for me. Being involved in different sports throughout my entire childhood inspired me to get involved in the fitness industry for a career. My nutrition, on the other hand, has been a work in progress, but I’ve come a loooong way. I enjoy looking back now.

My childhood and early adult life consisted of breakfast cereal, macaroni and cheese, fast food, crackers, chips, ice cream, cookies and take out. Since I lived most of my life on those items, I still find them enjoyable and when I find myself getting bored of my healthy meals, I always gravitate towards the old favorites.

Those old favorites never get boring.

I’ve learned that I have to consistently work at staying healthy. Here are three tools that continue to help me make healthy choices every week.

 1.) Find a new recipe.

Sometimes this can be as simple as modifying one ingredient in your current recipe. Lately, I’ve added raw cashews into my vegetable + chicken stir-fry and BAM it elevates the meal. Even Taber raves about how much he enjoys it. Pinterest, food blogs, and healthy cookbooks are also crucial for me. I don’t find a new recipe every week, but I use this trick when my healthy meals don’t sound good. The more you can increase your healthy recipe library, the more likely you will make this a complete lifestyle change.

 2.) Invest in your kitchen.

How to Stay Motivated to Eat Healthy When You're Craving Unhealthy FoodsRight now, I’m receiving wedding gifts for my upcoming wedding and it has been so fun to receive my gifts! My two favorite items are my wood cutting board and food processor. The wood cutting board stays on my kitchen counter and it allows me to continue to eat 5+ servings of vegetables a day. Since it’s on the counter, it acts a reminder, but it also saves a little time. The food processor helps me change the texture of my vegetables. Recently, I used it to shred cabbage and beets so I can use them for salads all week. Again, it changes the ingredients for my go-to salads, which keeps me wanting to eat salads every week.

3.) Move daily.

There is something magical about exercise and how it can influence you to make better nutrition choices. It helps you become more mindful about what you’re having for your next meal, especially if you just had a tough workout! Daily movement for me helps me feel better mentally, but even a leisure walk can reset my nutrition intentions if I’m craving something unhealthy.

Like anything in life, the more you practice something, the better you get. Plus, it becomes a habit. It’s the same with living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve transformed my nutrition habits the last eight years, but I still have bumps in the road. With these key tools, I work them right away.

How to Say No to Food Temptations and Eat only your favorite foods

Is it Worth It?

Let’s face it, temptations are everywhere! When you’re focusing on living a healthy lifestyle or seeking weight loss, this can be very frustrating. Junk food may randomly show up in your work break room, a neighbor may stop by unexpectedly with cupcakes or you might even be tempted by a candy bar as you check out at the grocery store because you’re hungry. It’s hard to fight off these temptations. However, two things can help you fight the urge to indulge.

For years, I would indulge in mediocre food. For me, I would settle for burgers, pizza, desserts and much more that really wasn’t that good. Many times I would feel guilty afterwards because most likely I was tired when I wanted to make that choice for a meal.

Two solutions helped me work through unexpected temptations.

1.) I asked myself if it is worth it.

2.) I asked myself if I had something planned later in the week that would be worth it?

What do I mean by is it worth it? Consider this an item where every bite is absolutely delicious. You eat it slow and savor it. You may even make great facial expressions or noise. This item may be a homemade cake or dinner. It may be a meal out at your favorite restaurant. It may even be something that brings you back to a special memory like going to Dairy Queen with your grandpa. Whatever this item is, it’s worth every single calorie. So, when temptations arise, I ask myself if it’s worth it? Store bought cake? Not worth it. A burger at Wendy’s? Not worth it. Papa Murphy’s pizza? Not worth it. I know these things now because these were go-to places when I was too tired to cook or was craving. In order to break the habit of going to those places, I had to ask myself what was worth it.

Food for thought: If you’re going to make an unhealthy food choice, shouldn’t it be absolutely delicious? I learned, “Yes! It should.”

Here are a few items for me that I absolutely love:

Mom’s Homemade Chocolate Cake
Zeeks Pizza
A burger at Local 360
Tillamook Ice cream, Udderly Chocolate
Mom’s Homemade Waffles
Homemade Potato Salad
A Swirl Cone at Dairy Queen
Mom’s Homemade Clam Chowder
Homemade Sugar Cookies

Once I found out what was worth it, it made it much easier to pass on the convenient options.

Next, I asked myself if I had any fun plans or parties to attend in the week. If treats showed up at work randomly, but I had a family party to go to later in the week, it was easy to say no to the temptation at work because I knew the cake at the birthday party would be worth it.

When I work with clients, this is how I teach them how to reset their mindset about temptations. When they plan for something that they love later in the week, they always find it easier to pass on other items. Read more on how to plan out temptations here. 

What if you don’t know if it’s worth it?

How to Say No to Food Temptations and Eat only your favorite foodsIf there is something you really want to try and you don’t have anything planned for the week, try three small bites or split it with someone. When I go to new restaurants or bakeries in new cities, I’m always looking to split it with someone or a few people. This allows me to do exactly what I want to do….taste it.

Picture to the left: Sweet potato pancakes from the Pancake Pantry in Nashville, TN. I wasn’t sure how they would taste so I split them with my mom and sister and ordered a side of scrambled eggs. They ended up being delicious. Still, I ate less because I shared them with two other people, but enjoyed the meal very much.

These two solutions take work and effort, but it pays off in the long run.

I’m going to admit, the first time you say no to a temptation that isn’t worth it stings. It stings because you’re forced to change your old habits. But, the first time you say no to a temptation, the more momentum you will build for the next time an unexpected temptation arises. With practice, you’ll find yourself getting better and better saying no to food that just isn’t worth the calories.