How to indulge yet stay healthy while traveling

How to Indulge, Yet Stay Healthy While Traveling

Note: If you travel often for work and simply want strategies to eat healthy on the road, read here. If you are like me and want to enjoy some great food on vacation, but not feel like you’ve put your healthy habits on the back burner, continue reading. 

How to Stay Healthy Traveling, While Still Indulging I work to travel. Period. When I travel, I actually seek out the best restaurants and bakeries! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten whatever I want for an entire vacation and then wanted to continue to indulge once I’ve got back home into my routine. “Lets just go get pizza tonight because I don’t want to cook.” This is common. When you indulge often, food cravings skyrocket, even when you are back in your normal environment. If I could pinpoint an area where I struggle with nutrition, it is always related to traveling. I’m a foodie at heart. Sometimes the first memory of a trip is simply meals I have eaten!

So, why should you try to stick with your healthy habits throughout your vacation? To keep the momentum going for when you return home. This has been my biggest learning lesson over the years of traveling. I had to start finding workarounds so I could indulge in amazing food, but still keep some healthy habits during the trip. This has helped me return home feeling motivated and ready to get back into my routine instead of wanting to continue to indulge. Here are my strategies!

For Flight Days:

1.) Pack Your Go-To Food

I spent most of the day on the airplane for my recent flight from Seattle to Scotland. To be prepared to stick with my habits, I packed snacks and a full dinner onto the airplane. On my recent trip to NYC, when we landed at 5 PM EST, all I really needed was dinner once I arrived. So, I packed a breakfast and a lunch for the airport. I ate the breakfast scramble as I waited to board my flight and I had my salad on the flight during my normal lunch time. My energy was good, I didn’t feel too full, I consumed at least 5 servings of vegetables and I didn’t arrive to my destination starving wanting to eat whatever was in sight.

Action Steps: Pack Your Most Satisfying Healthy Meal

This is the best way for me to avoid caving on comfort snacks or food at the airport/airplane. You might have go-to healthy, satisfying items in the airport! If so, even better. Some other go-to items I like to pack: chopped celery, carrots or bell peppers, nuts or a RX bar. These work great for shorter flights and I can even save them throughout my trip if I find myself hungry.

My Other Strategies

1.) Make Time for Strength Training in the Morning 

I don’t strength train every day, but I do find a way to move daily. On vacation, on days I don’t strength train, I look to hit at least 15,000 steps. Some days I’m right at it, while others I hit 25,000-30,000. If I have access to a gym, I might do 15-20 minutes of interval training on a bike, elliptical or treadmill at an incline. Keep it short and sweet. My goal with strength training on vacation is to simply keep my momentum going with workouts for when I return home. It helps me maintain my strength while I’m on vacation versus feeling like I’ve taken two steps back. I don’t strive to create a perfect strength workout, but focus on simply doing something.

Action Steps: Look to see if your Hotel Has a Gym.

If not, do you have a gym close to the hotel? When I was in NYC, I found a gym about 10 blocks from my hotel with free access. I was actually able to continue my normal strength routine since I had access to everything I needed. I loved it! In England and Scotland, I didn’t have access to my normal equipment so I put together a basic workout.

Option Two: Pack a Few Go-To Items.

For me, I simply packed my Sling-Band and a few other mini bands. They work great to add more resistance to simple body weight exercises like squats, push ups, bridges, overhead presses or isolating glute exercises.

2.) Split Meals

Splitting meals allows you to do just what you want, taste the meal! In the past, every time I would order a pizza/pasta/{insert other comfort food here} for just myself, I always felt tired and too full after the meal. Not only does splitting meals save money, but it also allows you to eat less. This is one of my favorite strategies when traveling. I also do this when going to a bakery. NYC is a dessert paradise. We split some of our absolute favorites: a mini banana pudding, cupcake, croissant or the amazing babka bread throughout our stay in the city.

3.) Ask Yourself, Does it Look Amazing? 

This is my new go-to strategy for my bakery obsession. I love to peek my head into any bakery that catches my eye. Throughout my entire trip in England, I practiced asking myself this question, “does it look amazing?” I’m quite the dessert critic, so if a piece of cake looked dry, I easily passed. I found myself walking out a lot of bakeries empty handed! What if it looks good and it isn’t? When this happens, I ask if someone who I’m traveling wants it or simply throw it in the trash and eat the cost. This is my same strategy for ordering meals. Unfortunately, you can’t see the food first like a bakery, so splitting meals is always helpful.

Action Step: Be picky! If you’re not sure if it looks good, choose to split it with someone. 

4.) Seek Out Vegetables 

This can relate with number two, splitting meals. While in NYC, I found ways to split meals with my mom (like a lovely pasta dish) but ordered a salad to go with it. Since your dinner portion is much smaller, adding the salad acts as a great filler to keep me full after the meal was completed. Another option: find a local grocery store. Since our hotel room had a fridge, I also stocked up on some pre-washed greens from the grocery store. This worked well for adding a vegetable with breakfast.

Action Step: Every meal, scan the menu for a serving of vegetables. You’ll get the nutrients from the vegetables, which also help you stay full, while still leaving room for something you really want. 

5.) Start Your Morning With a Go-To Healthy Meal

I can’t emphasize this enough. Not only do you start your day with good energy, but it also keeps you full for hours! My normal go-to Europe breakfast has been something on-the-go like a delicious morning pastry. I found that it didn’t keep me full very long and it also affected my energy. Plus, I was eating something sweet to start my day, which lead me to want to continue to eat something sweet throughout the day. While traveling throughout England and Scotland, I found their “English breakfast” was a perfect meal to start my day. It consisted of eggs, ham/sausage/bacon, baked beans and a vegetable like mushrooms or asparagus. It was perfect! It’s large and I couldn’t eat it all, but I shared some with my husband. I often skipped the beans because nothing beats my Grandpa’s recipe 🙂 If your hotel has a free breakfast, load up on your protein options and pair it with a piece of fruit, vegetable or potato. In NYC, I had spinach, scrambled eggs and a piece of sausage every day to start my morning. It kept me full for at least 4 hours.

Diet or Exercise? What’s More Important When Seeking Results?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the course of my journey is that you can’t out train a bad diet. In my early twenties, I always tried to exercise more to compensate for my poor nutrition choices. It wasn’t until I focused on eating the right food where I started to see my body change. When I committed 30 days to my nutrition at the start of this year for my Whole30, I saw great results without adding more exercise or even changing my exercise routine.

As a health and fitness professional, both diet and exercise are important. But, if I were to put a percentage on both, nutrition is much more powerful. As many of us say, it’s 80% nutrition, 20% exercise. It’s true! Some people who just focus on their nutrition and put minimal effort into their exercise can see great results. If you find you’re putting a lot of effort into your workouts, but are not seeing your body change, it’s time to take a look at your daily nutrition.

Three Key Nutrition Habits To Focus on

2.) Eat at least 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day

– this isn’t breaking news. We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables to live a healthy lifestyle but it’s certainly important if you’re seeking results. Most Americans eat more fruit than vegetables. When seeking weight loss, focus on eating more vegetables than fruit. I like a 4:1 ratio (for every four servings of vegetables, eat one serving of fruit). This equals out to probably one serving of fruit a day. Everyone is unique, so you can start there and add more if you need it.

How to do it? If you’re a visual person, look at a meal plan visual here.

Make a Switch. First, take a minute to think about what you’re eating for meals or snacks. If you notice you eat crackers, chips, granola bars or cookies on a regular basis, start to replace those items with a fruit or vegetable. When I first started changing my diet, I was eating a lot of crackers, granola bars, pasta, pizza, frozen dinners and bread. I slowly started replacing my snack foods with vegetables or fruit and for my meals, I replaced grains with more vegetables.

Pair a Vegetable with Every Meal You Eat. It’s easy to eat fruit on-the-go, but vegetables are a little bit more work. To help yourself eat more vegetables, buy conveniently already chopped vegetables from the store or commit a few time each day to chop. Of course it’s more expensive to buy already chopped vegetables from the store, but if that’s going to help you eat more vegetables, go for it! I also buy a lot of pre-washed bagged salad. It’s not that much more in money but it’s a time saver! Every meal, ask yourself what your vegetable choice will be. For breakfast, maybe you throw in spinach into a breakfast smoothie or make a frittata loaded with vegetables.

2.) Protein

Protein helps you build and maintain your muscle mass, helps you stay full between meals and stabilizes your blood sugar. It plays a big role in seeking body change. So, how much protein should you eat a meal?

Focus on the size of your palm. This is a good start for the average person, but some people who are very active will need more. Start to read your labels to see how much protein is in the food you’re eating.

Protein Choices I buy every week at the grocery store 

  • Chicken breast (1-2 packages)
  • Boneless chicken thighs
  • Ground Turkey
  • Ground Beef
  • Ground Chicken
  • Tuna fish
  • Canned chicken
  • Mahi Mahi or some type of white fish
  • Eggs
  • Breakfast Sausage Links

* I eat most meals from home and cook for two. This always gets us through the week!

3.) Water – at least 8 cups or half your body weight in ounces.

When I first started dating my now husband, he always teased me that I never drank any water. It’s true! I was always drinking diet pepsi, diet peach Snapple or Propel. Wow, have things changed! Not only does water keep your body hydrated but it plays a role in healthy skin, improves energy and of course, helps with weight loss.

Two things that helped me drink more water:

  • Buy a nice water bottle and carry it everywhere you go. Every time you leave the house, be sure to grab your water bottle. I have two water bottles that I really enjoy, but when I first started trying to drink more water, I found having a water bottle with a straw really helped me.
  • Add flavor when you are tired of plain water. Sometimes I get tired of plain water so I always have lemons or limes on hand to add a bit of flavor when I need it. There are many options you can use besides lemon or lime: berries, cucumber, mint, etc. Sparkling water is also a nice treat, but I always open one once I’ve already had my filtered water goal for the day (75 ounces).

If you feel like you are working hard in the gym, but aren’t seeing the results you want, it might be time to assess your diet. How many times a week are you eating out? How many desserts? Alcohol? All those factor into seeing the results you want. Most importantly, remember why you want the results you’re looking for. My biggest goal this year is to watch my sugar intake. I want to enjoy it when I want, but not let it get out of control with cravings. Sugar can be a slippery slope for me, but still a month after my Whole30, I feel good about my relationship and it’s helped me see better results.

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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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)

 

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.

How to follow the 90% rule and eat moderately

How to Actually Follow the 90% Rule & Learn to Eat with Balance

How to follow the 90% rule and eat moderatelyMany people have heard of the 90% rule or maybe even the 80/20 rule. I love this approach because it allows you to focus on the right foods more often without feeling restrictive. I know for me, the moment I tell myself I can’t have something, I want it more! Don’t get me wrong, there are times throughout the year when I take a break from my favorite foods. But, my mindset is different. I wouldn’t be successful if I told myself “I can’t have this right now.” Instead, I’ll use the words “I’m choosing not to have this right now because (insert the why here). I’ll also focus on all the foods that I CAN have.

Back to the 90% rule.

The 90% rule focuses on eating the right foods 90% of the time, while keeping some of your favorite foods in your meal plan throughout the week. Everyone has their favorite foods. For me, it most likely is a dessert or going out to dinner for pizza or a burger. Consider this something that doesn’t provide a lot of nutritional value and is more calorie dense. Maybe even going out for breakfast. For others, it might be alcohol or high caloric coffees.

5 Steps for Following The 90% Rule

1.) Figure Out Your 10%

This is a simple breakdown of how many meals you eat a day. The average person eats 3 main meals. Others may do 3 meals and a snack. You’ll also hear some individuals doing 5-6 small meals a day. Any of these options work.

Once you’ve determined how many meals you eat on average, calculate how many meals you eat a week.

Example:

3 meals a day x 7 days a week = 21 meals (2 splurge meals determines your 10%)

4 meals a day x 7 days a week = 28 meals (2-3 splurges is your 10%)

5 smaller meals a day x 7 days a week = 35 meals (3-4 splurges a week)

Here’s what an example looked like for me last week.

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Now, should you feel obligated to follow this calculation? No. If you’re looking to maintain your weight, you may be able to have more wiggle room. If you are seeking weight loss, you may need to stick to the 90% rule or scale back more on your splurges more. Everyone has a unique metabolism.

2.) Plan Your Week In Advance

I keep a mental note at the beginning of every week. Do I have any birthday parties? Events? Family or friend gatherings? If so, I keep it in the 10% bank if I feel like I will want to enjoy something. Sometimes I don’t have anything going on for the week, but I still want to go out to dinner for fun or enjoy a cookie on a Saturday night. When you plan ahead on what you want to enjoy that may not be the most nutritious for you, most likely you are going to enjoy it. Years ago, when I didn’t want to cook, I would go to Five Guys, get takeout pizza or go out to Mexican food. I always felt guilty afterwards because I didn’t intend to make those choices at the beginning of the day, but I was too tired to care. I also found I didn’t enjoy my meal as much because I was tired from the long day (which brings me to #3!).

3.) Determine Your Emergency Meals When You Don’t Want to Cook 

I’ve written about this here. This is CRUCIAL to practice. The more you practice healthy emergency meals, the easier eating healthy gets. First, find meals that take minimal time to make. My favorites include a smoothie, tuna fish or an omelette. We all have days when we won’t want to cook (even the quick options). So, if you have go-to places to go that do not have free temptations, you will stay on track.

4.) Practice Saying No To Unexpected Temptations 

When I started practicing the 10% rule, I definitely had some slip ups. I would plan for enjoying my treat on a specific day(s), but then someone would bring in cookies to work. Ugh. At first, I would eat the cookies or whatever treats arrived in the break room. But, overtime, I practiced saying no. It stings the first time you decide to pass on a temptation, especially when you really want it. But, the more you do, the easier it gets.

When unexpected temptations come up, focus on your why. Maybe it’s because you want to enjoy your mom’s homemade cake on Saturday and it’s worth every bite. Remind yourself that this will be your treat this week, not the cookie today. Or maybe you really want to lose 10 lbs and you don’t want to slow down your progress. When you remember your why in these situations, you’ll have a good chance on passing on the temptation.

5.) Stay Mindful

When it’s time to enjoy your favorite meal, it’s crucial to stay mindful. Here are a few of my favorite tips.

1.) If I plan to indulge for a meal, I’ll scan the menu for what protein source and/or veggie can I pair with it.

  • Breakfast:  I love pancakes or french toast. If I can, I’ll ask if I can order one pancake or 1 piece of french toast on the side (instead of ordering a stack of pancakes because it’s too much food). If I can order a single, I’ll order a veggie omelette as my protein/veggie source or eggs & bacon with my pancake or french toast.
  • Lunch or dinner: I’ll order a side salad. This fills me up enough so I don’t overeat the main meal.
  • Split meals. Splitting meals allows you to get the taste of it without overeating. I’ve found over time I’m perfectly content with a 1/2 burger with a handful of fries & a side salad. When I’ve eaten the whole burger + some fries + a side salad, I’m too full.

2.) Be aware of your other meals. 

If I know I’m going to to dinner, I’ll be sure to get in as much protein and veggies as I can for my other meals for the day. My goal is to have at least 4 servings of veggies before or after my splurge.

3.) Ask yourself if it’s worth it. 

Does it taste amazing? Is it worth every bite? Sometimes it is, but other times it isn’t and you’re disappointed. When you find yourself disappointed, practice eating less of it. This takes time to conquer, but it’s do-able. I’ve been very proud of myself when I notice my splurge isn’t amazing and I stop after two or three bites.

4.) Be aware of portion sizes 

When I go out for pizza, I don’t eat the whole pie just because it’s my meal to indulge! In the past, I did eat up to 4 slices. However, I needed an immediate nap on the couch afterwards because I was so full. Now, by staying mindful and adding some veggies to the side, I’m perfectly content with up to 2 slices of pizza.

Enjoy your splurge by eating it slow, savoring every bite. Don’t scarf it down because most likely you’ll overeat, like I used to with 4 slices of pizza.

My biggest goal when dining out is to leave the restaurant feeling satisfied, not stuffed.

 

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!

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.