How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: My Top 10 Tips

 

Face to Face Before and After
 2008 – Current

Did you know the average American gains 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas?!

With all of these wonderful occasions filled with fun, family and friends, there’s also the yummy food…in abundance! But you don’t have to panic thinking you will need to completely miss out on your favorite foods. This journey is not about restriction. It’s about finding balance, enjoying life along the way, and creating better lifestyle habits that work for you. I’ve learned so much since starting my journey in 2008 after losing and keeping off 60 pounds. We can’t have an all or nothing mentality. The best approach for me has been one where I know all of the options I have. Then I pick and choose which indulgent foods I want to enjoy! Another great approach is to perhaps not focus this last 5 weeks of the year on weight loss, but weight maintenance. That in itself, is still a win! So here are my TOP 10 TIPS for avoiding holiday weight gain!

TOP 10 TIPS for enjoying the holiday season while still keeping your wellness goals in mind!

Tip #1 – Take a healthy dish so you have options. If you can, ask the host in advance what will be on the menu. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking. It’s OK to be proactive about your health. This is also a great opportunity to be creative! You can either find a new recipe for a healthy dish or you can make some tweaks to a current favorite to make it a healthier option

Tip #2 – Eat before you go. Plan to have a small meal or snack before so you aren’t overly hungry when you arrive and get tempted to make unhealthy choices. Your small meal should consist of a protein, complex carbohydrates and a healthy fat to  hold you over until your main meal. If you want a light snack instead of a meal, a protein bar or a piece of fruit are great options

Tip #3 – Practice moderation. I like to remind myself that I can have what I want, just not all of it, all of the time. Before you eat, scan the food table and scope out your options. Consider what you really want and take small amounts of those items. I try to go for foods that I don’t normally get to eat. I try to fill half my plate with veggies, then the other half with the foods I want to try out

Tip #4 – Hydrate. We can sometimes think we’re hungry when really we’re thirsty. So throughout the day, and with your meals, make sure you drink plenty of water. You should still try to aim for at least 8 ounces of water. Drinking enough water will also help you feel less bloated if you eat too much salty food

Tip #5 – Wait before you go back for seconds. Before you go back for seconds, allow your food time to digest. It normally takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to send the signal to our brains that we’re full. So if you just scarfed down your food and think you need more, try to wait it out first

Tip #6 – Enjoy the festivities for more than just the food. I know we ALL love food, don’t make food the main focus. Try to also focus on building relationships and creating new ones. So ask your favorite aunt what she’s been up to or talk to the visitor in the room and make them feel welcome. You never know, you may even find a new workout buddy!

Tip #7 – Track your food and try to be as honest as possible. I like using MyFitnessPal app to track my meals. You may choose to use a different app or even a journal. I want to enjoy the holiday, but I don’t want to go overboard. So tracking helps me be mindful, yet still enjoy the occasion

Tip #8 – Get back on track the next day. A holiday is just that; a day. When you carry it over to more than a day, that can make it much more difficult to get back on track. You want to have fun, but still keep in mind that you have goals to meet. So create a plan for what the following day will look like as far as meals, working out and of course, water!

Tip #9 – Exercise. I still like to get some activity in for that day to create a calorie deficit so I have a little more flexibility with my food choices. But if your gym is closed, then no worries. You could opt for a home workout, a neighborhood walk or choose to skip it and work out the next day

Tip #10 – Be kind to yourself. If the day doesn’t go as planned, then don’t beat yourself up over it. All it means is that you’re human just like the rest of us. No one is perfect. So dust yourself off and keep pushing forward!

I hope these tips help you! You may choose to follow all, some or none of them at all. The choice is yours. It is up to you to define this journey for yourself on your own terms.

Happy Holidays, be safe, have fun and eat well!

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Health Halo: 7 Foods that can be Deceptively Healthy

Once again fancy marketing does the trick! We see the flashy commercials, celebrity endorsements, fancy packaging and bold product claims that makes us excited about a health food product and leads us to believe we’ll be making the right choice if we buy it. But in reality what we see is not the whole picture and we may end up purchasing something that can actually push us further away from our goals. Then we may be left wondering why we aren’t making progress. Insert the “Health Halo” effect

Halo 1

The Health Halo effect occurs when a food that has some healthy attributes to it is perceived as being an overall healthy food. For instance, many people (mistakenly) think that foods labeled as “low fat,” “reduced fat,” fat free,” “Vegan”, etc. are almost always a better option

Food manufactures know what will grab our attention. They know our pain points and frustrations when it comes to weight loss and wanting to find healthy food that still tastes good. Manufacturers can make almost any product claim they want to in an advertisement and on the front of the package; but the ingredients and nutrition label on the back of the package tell the full story. So we have to take the time to understand what we ae truly putting into our bodies

Since I know you have goals, I want to help you win, girl! So here are the 7 most common health halo foods that you should be aware of. I am not saying to never eat them, but just take what the manufacturer says with a grain of salt. Understand that their primary goal is to make a profit; not help you lose weight. So read the packaging and then make the best choice for you!

7 of the most common health halo foods:

  • Granola – can be high in processed sugar and it can also be challenging to stick to a serving, which is usually ¼ cup. Check the nutrition facts to determine the number of grams of sugar and the source of sugar. Sugar has many names and usually end in “ose” like fructose, sucrose, or dextrose. Also brown rice syrup is processed as well. For more information on the different names for sugar, check out this article. There are brands like Purely Elizabeth that are sweetened naturally with honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar

Almond-Butter-Granola-4

  • Yogurt – some yogurts have as much sugar as a candy bar! Opt for Greek Yogurt since it is low fat and high in protein that helps you stay fuller longer. Brands like Dannon have varieties that are sweetened with either stevia or monk fruit extract. Some other great brand are Siggi’s and Fage

coconut-milk-yogurt-recipe

  • Protein Cookies – some protein cookies on the market are huge and actually contain TWO servings per individual package. But who is really only going to eat half the cookie? If you can stop at half, then bravo, because I know I can’t. You’re pretty much eating a cookie that just happens to have more protein in it compared to a typical cookie. But there are some brands, such as Quest Nutrition cookies that are low sugar, single-serve options. Or make some of your own. I love the baking recipes from Mywholefoodlife.com. They are easy, healthy and typically no-bake!

Protein Cookie

  • Trail Mix – this one is similar to granola, because it also usually contains added sugar. A serving is again around ¼ of a cup. But most people tend to eat it by the handful without realizing how much they actually consumed. You can opt to make your own by using any combination of nuts and seeds you like. For the sweetness, try to avoid refined sugar and choose maple syrup, honey, raisins or dried fruit that doesn’t contain a lot of added sugar like this healthy trail mix recipe from Elizabeth Rider!

Trail mix

  • Salad Dressings – most store bought brands contain excess sodium, added sugars, preservatives, and saturated fat. Bolthouse Farm is a great option, because the base is Greek Yogurt. I also really like the Annie’s brand. You can always opt to make your own. I normally do a combination of white rice vinegar, liquid amino’ s (soy sauce alternative) and Dijon Mustard

Salad Dressing

  • Protein Bars/Snack Bars – just like protein cookies, some protein/snack bars have a ton of sugar in them. Some of my favorites that also don’t taste like a protein bar are Quest Nutrition, Think Thin, Kind Bars that have less than 10 grams of sugar, RX Bars, and D’s Naturals. There are tons of great alternatives at the Vitamin Shoppe, GNC and Target

Protein Bar

  • Baked Potato Chips – these can be high in saturated fat because they typically use poor quality oil. Quest Nutrition also has line of protein chips as well as the Protes and couple of other options I’ve seen at GNS. You can make your own. Here’s a recipe for Sweet Potato chips! If you just like that crunch, you could try some sea salt popcorn. Smart Foods or Boom Chicka Pop are my favorite brands that I get from Target or the local grocery store

Potato Chips

You may have noticed a trend here with these food options – added sugar. Many of the ladies I speak with about weight loss say they are frequent snackers. So do you see where your snacking could be the culprit behind your weight loss plateau? I’m all for snacking, but of course I only include then in between my main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). You shouldn’t need to snack more than 1-2 times per day if your meals contain the proper balance of nutrients and the majority of your food is from whole food sources

Aside from rapid blood sugar spikes, processed sugar makes you crave more sugar once you eat it. Since sugary foods don’t always provide the amount of fuel our bodies need, we may end up eating more calories throughout the day to get satisfied. When you consume more calories than your body needs, your body stores it as fat. Again, I am not giving you food rules or smacking your hand with a ruler. I will sometimes eat foods with added sugar, but I try to limit my consumption. I am just encouraging you to be more informed and make better choices. It’s important to be mindful of what you’re eating and practice moderation. Define healthy from your lens; just be an informed consumer!

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BeautyCounter Skin Care Review: Where Activism meets Glamour

When we think of health and wellness, we may initially only focus on what we put into our bodies with the foods we eat, which is of course very important. But what about what we put ON TO our bodies? Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs the products we put on it. For about the last year or so, I have been trying to live a more holistic lifestyle by changing out products I use daily with more eco-friendly versions. So, I was excited when I had the opportunity to try products from BeautyCounter’s skincare line! BeautyCounter values transparency with regards to the full spectrum of their product line that also includes make up and bath and body products. Not only do they want to create safer products, but they also have a strong social justice mission to advocate for change within the personal care industry, which is poorly regulated by the FDA. The FDA has not regulated the safety of ingredients since 1938! While the European Union has banned more 1,300 chemicals, Canada has banned around 600, the US has only banned around 30 ingredients. This moved company CEO, Gregg Renfrew, to action with the bold acclimation “we deserve better!” She is a proponent of environmental health and chemical safety that would ban harmful ingredients such as formaldehyde and coal tar, which are both known as carcinogens (meaning cancer causing) from being included in our products

Since 2013, BeautyCounter now consists of over 30,000 consultants. Their activist approach sets them apart from competitors in the beauty industry

Initial Consultation

During my consultation with Kara, I told her my skin type, which is oily skin with hyper-pigmentation. She used that information to send products geared towards those specific skincare needs

Products Received

Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser

Countercontrol Mattifying Toner (brown jar)

Countercontrol Mattifying Face Cream

Countercontrol Recovery Sleeping Cream

Overnight Peel

Counter Control Set
Counter Control Set
Counter Match Cream
Counter Match Cream
Overnight Peel
Exfoliating Face Peel

Skin Care Regimen

Morning:

I cleansed with the Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser, which had a lightweight consistency that went on smooth and silky with a slight citrus scent. The product does have some suds, which I like because it makes me feel like my skin will be cleaner!

I followed that with the Countercontrol Mattifying Toner which helped to remove any remaining dirt and oil

I finished with the Countercontrol Mattifying Face Cream. This product left my face soft and smooth. It didn’t feel cakey. I didn’t apply makeup the first day I tried it. But noticed throughout the day, my skin remained soft and didn’t produce as much oil

Night:

Cleansed with the Clear Pore Cleanser. Applied the overnight peel, which doesn’t need to be rinsed off. The consistency was similar to a lightweight lotion. The peel is used to diminish the appearance of discoloration/hyperpigmentation, acne scars, fine lines and breakouts. I waited 5 minutes and then applied the Countercontrol Recovery Sleeping Cream. The consistency was similar to most face creams. This product also went on smooth. My skin was vibrant and not dull

The following day, I applied the mattifying face cream and then my foundation. But, I didn’t use my normal mattifying powder so I could assess how well this product controlled shine on its own. I was impressed! By the time I took this picture, my face would have usually looked like I spread Crisco all over it! Lol

From the products I received, my favorite product was the Countercontrol Mattifying Face Cream. It really helped keep the shine at bay

I also liked how none of the products had a heavy scent, which may be something you like if you are sensitive to smells

I really enjoyed learning about how this company is paving the way for cosmetic reform, because any company can create a product and market it as “safe” due to poor regulation and lax laws. This was also an opportunity to try eco-friendly beauty products that are gentle; yet effective. So, “Thank you, Kara!” If you’re interested in checking out these products for yourself, click here to connect with Kara directly Beautycounter.com/karapetry

What are some ways you’ve incorporated health and wellness into your daily life?

Connect with me on Instagram @mypassion2purpose and let me know you found me through my blog! And I will follow back!

Plan, Shop & Prep Like a Pro: How to Meal Prep for Fat Loss

Office pastries….vending machines….fast food runs…going to bed without eating….saying “Screw it! I’ll just start over tomorrow.” If any of that sounds familiar, then you could definitely benefit from Meal Prepping. Meal prepping has saved me numerous times from making unhealthy food choices. Meal prepping means I have a plan in place to keep me focused so that I’m less likely to fall into temptation

This post is a follow-up to my previous post where I shared my top tips on how to make smart food choices when you’re grocery shopping and the benefits of meal prepping. So click here to check it out!

I’m hoping with my other post and with this post, that the information helps you create a foundation or base for you to start with that you can customize to your liking and build a consistent process that supports your goals! Because I want to see you WIN!! Now let’s get into it!

The Benefits of Meal Prepping

  • Saves Money – meal prepping means less eating out because you already have a healthy meal ready for you. When you’re grocery shopping, you have your list created so you buy only what you need to prep your meals
  • Saves Time –when I get home after a long day, all I have to do is heat up my food and enjoy! It takes the effort and guess work out of “What am I going to eat?”
  • Keeps you Accountable – meal prepping means I know what I’m eating ahead of time for all my meals and snacks. I prepared my food so I know what’s in it and how many calories I am consuming
  • Improves your Cooking Skills – with meal prepping my cooking skills have improved, because I am cooking something new and different every week. I actually enjoy trying new foods and discovering new seasonings to liven things up

My Process

It takes me about 30-40 minutes to plan out my meals for the following week and then create my grocery list. Actual meal prep time varies depending on what I’m making. But on average, it takes me 2.5 hours and that includes washing dishes, sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor

I use Thursdays as my plan day. I start by selecting my dinner option since that’s the meal that takes me the longest to decide on. I have a folder that has all my recipe print outs. Then I use a meal planner chart that has a space for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Next I check my pantry and fridge to see what I already have. My grocery list is based on what I need. I go grocery shopping either Friday evening or Saturday morning. On Sunday afternoon, I actually cook the food, which also includes chopping up fruits and veggies and portioning out snacks

So look at your schedule and determine when you will make the time weekly to plan, shop and prep. Then create a calendar reminder in your phone for each of those activities to remind you and so you view these tasks as priorities

I prep for Monday through Friday. I usually eat, on average, 1,500-1,500 calories per day to maintain my 60 pound weight loss. To calculate your specific, daily calorie needs, then you can use an app such as Calorie King or MyFitnessPal. I use My FitnessPal and my username is Newrae22. Let’s be friends so we can encourage one another!

The Structure of My Meals

I use a consistent format and then make modifications each week

Breakfast – Usually scrambled eggs with veggies and complex carbohydrate (oats, gluten free cinnamon raisin bread, corn tortillas for breakfast burrito’s/taco’s, baked sweet potato). If I eat meat, it’s usually turkey bacon, turkey sausage or diced ham. Pre-chop all veggies and place in freezer bags to easily prepare in the mornings

Lunch – I love green smoothies! So I have them weekly for lunch and just switch out the fruit combinations. 1 handful of green, leafy veggies (spinach, collards or Kale), 1 frozen banana for sweetness and creaminess, ½ serving of vegan vanilla protein shake, 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, then two servings of other fruits. Strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, even those cute little kiwis! But no fruit is off limits! Include any ones you like! The fruits makes the smoothie sweet enough without the need for added sugar or fruit juice. My smoothie makes approximately 18 ounces and it’s usually around 300 calories. Portion out fruits and veggies and place in freezer bags. Blend them up the night before work. I don’t recommend making your smoothies in advance for all five days. I tried preparing for just two days and found the smoothie for the second day tasted a little watered down

Snacks – I love that salty/sweet combination! Salty – popcorn (Skinny Pop, Smart Foods, or Boom Chika Pop), Veggie Straws, Pirates Booty Puffs, Rice Cakes with nut/seed butter, veggies and hummus, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Van’s Gluten Free Cheddar Cheese Crackers, String Cheese or hard boiled eggs. For the sweet snack, I pick a fresh, seasonal fruit. Selection is based on what’s in season for the best price and quality. I don’t care for canned fruit since they almost always contain added sugar/syrup

Dinner – As I mentioned earlier, I have recipes already printed out and in a folder. I get ideas from Pinterest and food bloggers who post recipes on Facebook or Instagram. My main dish is a lean protein, such as chicken (all cuts – boneless and skinless), salmon (canned or frozen), ground turkey, ground chicken, thin cut boneless pork loins, or shrimp. I always have a green veggie as one side dish option (salad, green beans, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, or asparagus). My second side is a complex carb (brown rice, quinoa, sweet or regular potatoes, squash, roasted carrots or parsnips).

July 2018 Meal Prep Food Pictures

Other easy to prepare alternatives include overnight oats for breakfast and mason jar salads for lunch. Crockpot, sheet pan, or Instapot meals are always fabulous, easy dinner options!

For the weekends, I don’t meal prep, but I do write out what I plan to eat. If I am going to an event, I include that on my weekly planner. I always have food on hand to create a healthy, easy weekend meal –fruits and veggies, brown rice or potatoes, corn tortillas, oats, frozen meat, eggs, whole grain bread (Franz, Ezekiel, Dave’s Killer Bread), condiments (low sugar options), brown rice flour, and gluten free pancake/waffle mix (Birch Benders brand), protein powder, cheese, and snack bars/protein bars with less than 10 grams of sugar

Quick pro tips! Listen to music or a podcast while meal prepping to make it more enjoyable! Also tape any recipes to your cabinets so you can easily see what you need to do while cooking!

Kitchen Essentials

Here’s a list of what I have to help me cook and store my food

Freezer bags, plastic food storage containers (Ikea, Groupon or Amazon), plastic portion packs for snacks, cutting boards (wooden and glass for raw meat), sharp knife (be careful!), Ninja blender for smoothies (purchased at Macy’s for $99), food processor, crock pot, loaf pans, muffin pans, non-stick cooking spray, coconut or olive oil, tongs, various size mixing bowls (I found a 4 piece set at Ross), plastic wrap, aluminum foil, sheet pans, oven mitts, measuring cups, measuring spoons, digital food scale, and a can opener

I really hope this post gives you some inspiration to begin meal prepping if you aren’t already. Don’t get overwhelmed by it. Even if you just start prepping for 2-3 days at a time that is a good start. Everyone meal preps differently, so the key is to do what works for you and be consistent. You will learn what works and doesn’t work for you along the way

Are you a meal prepper? If so, how has it helped you? If not, what makes it challenging for you?

Make sure you’re following me on Instagram @mypassion2purpose! I add my weekly meal prep to my stories and then add them to my highlights just in case you don’t catch my stories before they expire!

 

 

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Diagnosis to Victory Series, Part 4. “What’s With Wheat?” Documentary Review

I actually considered watching “What the Health?” but honestly, I was over hearing about it. It was all the buzz on social media for months. With so many people giving their opinions and having their “Aha” moments, I felt like I already watched it. So instead, I decided to watch “What’s With Wheat?” I had this documentary saved on my Netflix list for a while. I intended to watch it shortly after my IBS diagnosis in October 2016, because my GI doctor recommended that I avoid gluten, because it is difficult for the body to digest. I initially had a hard time eliminating wheat, because I grew up eating so much of it. I LIVED for a bologna or PB & J sandwich on Wonder Bread. So, why now at 30 something years old, do I experience digestive discomfort when consuming wheat? It made me wonder, what is in wheat NOW that wasn’t always present? This documentary proved to be eye opening as well as help me answer that very question. My hope is that by reading this post, you gain perspective on the wheat industry and become a more informed consumer whether or not you have a gluten intolerance or allergy. I am not a medical professional, nor and I telling you how to eat. You are free to make your own choices and create a lifestyle that works best for you.

The documentary provides perspective from farmers, scientists and nutritionists who discuss how gluten intolerance developed and how modern processes may be the cause. The documentary begs the question “So are we allergic to wheat? Or are we allergic to what’s been done to it?”

The documentary opens with a brief history of the agricultural industry. In the 1940’s, people weren’t consuming enough calories. So cereal was invented as a shelf-stable item to give people the calories they needed so they wouldn’t die from starvation.

Also during that time, wheat became fortified with vitamins and minerals in an effort to combat malnutrition. But during that fortification process, the wheat bran and germ were removed and chemicals were added. When those two elements are removed during production, there are few nutrients remaining. Much of the protein and fiber are stripped turning it into the common white flour we see today.

Also during the 1940’s, Ancel Keys conducted The Minnesota Starvation Experiment: “The Biology of Human Starvation” from 1944-1945. He sought to examine the effects of famine on the human body. As a result of his findings, he demonized fat and steered people away from what was a standard American breakfast of bacon and eggs. Some experts suggest he fabricated the correlation between fat and heart disease. So with fewer people consuming fat, they introduced more carbohydrates into their diets.

Another notable scientist during this era was Norman Borlaug. Borlaug worked for the corn and wheat board and sought to mechanize the agricultural production of wheat, known as the Green revolution, to increase output and help feed those in starving countries. He was awarded a Nobel Peace prize for his work. However, to increase output, more chemicals were added to the crops to help the plant thrive and be more resistant against disease and pests.

By the end of 1945, the same manufacturer who was creating the chemicals for warfare were also creating the chemicals for agriculture. Yeah, read that part again.  Instead of looking at the health of the plant, farmers were looking at the yield of the plant. Chemical fertilization leaves foods and crops deficient in vitamins and minerals.

Our wheat has become so commercialized and manipulated over the years that it doesn’t even resemble what it once was, resulting in wheat being one of the most problematic foods in the American diet. The chemicals in wheat are causing inflammation in our bodies. This is why we are noticing an increase in Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and even autism.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat. When we eat a normal protein (not the gluten protein from wheat), we eat it and is goes into our gut, our body pulls it apart into individual amino acids, and then we absorb them. Unfortunately, gluten is poorly digested causing damage to the gut and exposing the insides of the damaged cells to the immune system. Your body sees it as something it doesn’t like and it develops an immune reaction to it. This is known as an immune complex, which is very difficult for the body to get rid of once it develops. It can affect the brain, gut or cause an outward reaction, such as a rash on someone who suffers from eczema. Every part of the body can become inflamed, even the heart.

Another issue with wheat products is that they can be addictive. One documentary contributor noted the look of fear on people’s faces when he told them to eliminate wheat. “So I can’t have cereal? How am I supposed to eat a sandwich?” Aside from sugar, the most common foods people have an issue with are foods that contain gluten, such as bread or pasta. Gluten can be converted in the liver to a morphine like derivative called an endorphin. These morphine’s go to the brain and give that feeling of “Hi! I feel great!” So, it triggers the same brain response we get from a drug.

I will admit that I was also stubborn and didn’t want to give up wheat. But I learned to not focus on what I couldn’t have, but instead focus on all of the other nutrient-rich foods I can still have. Eliminating wheat as much as possible will not leave us nutrient deficient by any means. There are still an abundance of options that I enjoy, such as brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, squash, corn tortillas, and gluten free bread.

So, knowing all of this about wheat, how do we move forward? The purpose of the documentary is to encourage us to ask questions and be more aware, and to understand the way food is produced. As a society, we have forgotten what it feels like to be healthy. The food we eat is sending signals to our DNA, which is our code of life. We are either sending signals that code for health or signals that code for disease. Modern agriculture has suddenly given us genetic information that our bodies don’t know how to handle.

To heal our bodies from the inside out, we have to go back to diet and lifestyle. So eating more whole, unprocessed foods, moving our bodies, meditative practices, and being surrounded by a supportive social network and a loving family.

To read my other IBS series posts, then click the links below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

It Must be True, Right?! Diet Myths Debunked!

When we hear the same information over a long period of time from a variety of sources, we rarely questions its validity. But information regarding our health and wellness changes as more research is conducted and health care professional gain more knowledge. So I wanted to make this post to debunk some of the common myths that people still believe that are no longer true.

1)      “Eat a Low Fat Diet, because Fat is Bad” – When you see “Low fat” that should be your que to put it down! You can think of low fat as code for “chemical storm!” When companies make foods low fat, they often replace the fat with more sugar and/or sodium to enhance the flavor. You don’t need to ban all fat. The fats you want to avoid are saturated and trans fats. Both are often found in red meats and processed foods. But there are fats that do not raise cholesterol or increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Instead try to consume more Omega-3 heart healthy fats, which help to rebuild cells and will keep you fuller and more satisfied. Some examples are olive oil, salmon, or avocad

2)      “If You Exercise, You Can Eat Whatever You Want” – The weight loss equation is simple, calories in versus calories out. To lose one pound of fat per week, you must maintain a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day for 7 days, which is 3,500 calories. So it takes a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose one pound per week. It’s common to underestimate the amount of calories we consume and overestimate the amount of calories we burn. This is why it’s helpful to use an app such as MyFitnessPal to calculate calories and using a device, such as a FitBit or a Polar watch to track calories burned. You cannot outwork a poor diet

3)      “A Calorie is a Calorie” – While that is mathematically true, not all calories are created equal. You want to focus on the quality of your food. Consume more foods that are nutrient dense and contain micronutrients, such as fiber, which helps keep you full. You can have a candy bar or a turkey sandwich, but which option will give you the fuel you need?

4)      “Eat Less to Lose More Weight” – This is not the way to go! Calorie restriction is dangerous, because you actually risk slowing down your metabolism. Over time, your body may go into starvation mode, because it does not know when it will get more food. You will end up stalling your weight loss efforts. Instead, aim to eat 4-5 times per day. It’s not about eating less, but about eating better. As a general rule, if you are a woman trying to lose weight, your daily minimum calorie intake should not be less than 1,200 calories. Again, this is when MyFitnessPal will come in handy because you can enter in your information and the app will tell you how many calories to consume per day to reach your goal

5)      “Supplements Will do All the Work” – If you aren’t doing your part by changing your diet and exercising, then supplements will not be of any value to you. Supplements are used to enhance your results and should be used in addition to what you’re already doing

6)      “Stick to This Diet to Lose 5 Pounds a Week!”  – Diets are restrictive and will only lead to short-term results. They are a quick fix. Instead focus on a long-term lifestyle change. Consider what is sustainable for you, because what you do to lose the weight is what you will have to do to keep the weight off. So do you really want to be on the “cabbage soup” diet forever? I know when I tried to go “low carb/Atkins,” I felt deprived and frustrated, which only led me to gaining all the weight back plus more

7)      “Weight Yourself Daily” – You will drive yourself crazy if you do this! Change your relationship with the scale. Your success is not tied to the number on the scale. It’s important to also focus on non-scale victories as indicators of your success. For instance, focus on how you feel, how well your clothes fit, how you look, etc. When I was losing weight, I would weight myself once a week at my Weight Watchers meetings. There are several factors that could impact the scale such as fluid retention or if you’re doing strength training. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you may not notice the number on the scale decreasing. But, you may instead notice that your clothes are fitting better and you look more toned and defined. Snatched!

8)      “If the Label Says ‘All Natural,’ It’s Healthy” – The term “natural” is not clearly defined or regulated by any entity. So, technically any company can make that claim on almost any product to influence your buying decision. Instead, look for terms such as “Organic” or “Non-GMO.” Those terms are regulated and companies must prove their product meets certain standards before making that claim on their product labels

9)      “Carbs are the Enemy”! – All foods have carbs, so you really can’t eliminate all carbs. Carbs provide your body with the fuel you need to sustain you through workouts and your daily life. Focus on consuming complex carbs that do not cause an immediate blood sugar spike and will keep you full for a longer period of time. Some of my favorites include brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato (mashed, baked, fries), acorn squash, butternut squash, plantains, spaghetti squash, gluten-free oatmeal, and gluten-free whole-grain bread

10)   “You Can Spot Reduce and Just Lose Your Stomach” – You cannot spot reduce. I repeat! You cannot spot reduce! You must lose overall body fat. You have to burn the fat off your midsection first before you start seeing more definition. A clean diet will be key to helping you see more ab definition. There are many ab exercises you can incorporate into your workouts to give you more definition. Abs are also genetic, so you may not end up getting the same abs as your favorite fitness inspiration

11)   “You Need a Gym Membership” – When I first started, I used DVD’s, I ran outside and I also purchased a treadmill. Over time, I’ve added to my home gym. Click here to see the post on my home gym! Other inexpensive options include taking your workouts outside, following YouTube videos or getting a gym membership from Planet Fitness, which is only $10/month. They have a trainers who can assist with developing a regimen and show you how to use the equipment

12)   “Don’t Eat After 7pm!” – Ummm….last I checked, calories couldn’t tell time. If you consume more calories than your body needs, then that is when you will gain weight. So if you come home late and you’re hungry, then eat! Don’t deprive yourself. Listen to your body. If you don’t eat before bed, you may wake up feeling ravenous the next morning and eating more than you would have if you hadn’t skipped dinner

What are some diet myths you’ve heard that you later discovered were false?

 

 

Shop Smart: Meal Prepping & Grocery Shopping for Success!

“So many aisles! So many signs! Where do I begin?!! Ohhh…samples? Yes, please!” Hold on, girl!! Pause. Before you get too excited, let’s rewind! Read this post first, because I’m going to be giving you my TOP tips to help you meal prep for success and shop smart!

First things first, go with plan. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. It’s cliché, but very true. If you walk into the store aimlessly, you may waste your hard-earned coins buying food you don’t need. So make a list first by deciding what you plan to eat the following week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. When I am using a recipe, I make sure it serves between 4-6 people; that way I know I have dinner covered for the whole week. I typically eat the same foods for all my meals throughout the week. This may be boring for some, but this works for me. An alternative could be to prepare two different dinners so you have a couple of options during the week. Or you could prepare a few different veggies, lean proteins, and healthy complex carbs. From there you could “mix n match” your meals throughout the week. For instance, lunch on day 1 could be brown rice, baked salmon, and asparagus. Dinner on day 1 could be turkey meatloaf, mashed sweet potato, and broccoli. Day 2 lunch could be turkey meatloaf, brown rice, and asparagus. Followed by dinner that’s baked salmon, mashed sweet potato, and broccoli. Whichever method you choose, make sure it’s the right one for you. Consider which option will be sustainable for YOU over time.

Typically on Thursday evenings, I plan my meals for the coming week in a chart that has a space for me to write out what I plan to have for each of those meals. I then use that chart as my guide to help me create my grocery list. If I am following a recipe, I check my pantry and fridge first to see if I already have the ingredients. If not, I add them to my list. I usually go to the store Friday after work or on Saturday morning. I then set aside 2-3 hours Sunday afternoon to actually prepare my meals. That amount of time also includes me cleaning up the kitchen – washing dishes, taking out the garbage and sweeping the kitchen floor.

Before you even head to the store, ask yourself, “am I hungry”? If so, have a healthy snack BEFORE you go, such as a piece of fruit, protein bar, veggies dipped in hummus, a handful of almonds, or string cheese so you can stay focused on your list and you’re not tempted to buy un-healthy foods. Trust me! When you’re hungry, things you wouldn’t normally consider will start looking good. Like that cheap, greasy pizza. Fix it, Jesus!!

When I get to the store, I start with the perimeter and then work my way down the aisles. The perimeter is where I get a majority of my food, including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, almond milk, gluten free bread, gallon of water jug, cheese, and eggs. Down the aisles is where you will find many of the processed foods and refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta, cookies, and chips.

When I plan my fruits and veggies, I consider what’s in season. Purchasing seasonal fruit is more cost effective and it also means the fruit will be at its peak freshness. Depending on the store layout, the bulk food section may also be located along the perimeter. Since I am cooking for one person, buying in bulk is cheaper and allows me to get just the amount I need. In this section I get my quick oats, seasonings, gluten free flours, quinoa, brown rice, nuts and seeds.

My last stop around the perimeter is the frozen food section. I always grab some frozen fruit and vegetables for breakfast or my green smoothies. Frozen fruit is packaged at its peak freshness, so you can be sure the food will still have its flavor and nutritional benefits. You can also get a better deal buying frozen when you’re purchasing fruits that can still be pricy even in season such as raspberries, blueberries, cherries, mangos, and blackberries.

Down the aisles, I like to purchase condiments, such as balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, salsa, stevia, maple syrup, and reduced sugar ketchup. The aisles can also be a way to get low priced fruits and vegetables, such as canned pineapples, green beans or corn. If purchasing fresh produce is not in your budget, then canned is also a great option. When it comes to canned fruit, I typically stick with pineapple since that’s the one fruit I found where there is no syrup added. I would definitely try to avoid fruit that’s canned in syrup, even if the can says light syrup. Fruit is nature’s candy. It’s sweet enough on its own!

Even though most of the snacks down the aisles aren’t the healthiest options, there are still some good choices. Some of my favorites are rice cakes or popcorn. The Smart Food brand is my go-to, because it just contains corn, salt, and oil. Tortilla chips, portioned out, are a good option as well as protein/snack bars like Quest Nutrition Bars, Kind Bars, Think Thin, or Lara Bars, unsweetened applesauce, peanut butter with no added sugar or oil, and even crackers. The Mary’s Gone Crackers are the ones I really like!

When I can, I purchase the store brand since the quality is still there, but you’re not paying the extra markup for the fancy brand name. If there is no store brand option, I look at all the options and go with the cheapest one. I always make sure I keep freezer bags on hand. If I buy a package of meat and I don’t plan to use it all for the coming week, I will separate out what I need for my recipe, portion out the rest and stick that in the freezer. I also use freezer bags for my green smoothie ingredients. When I meal prep, I grab a handful of collards (or whatever green veggie I am using for the week, usually 1 cup), chop up a banana, and then whatever other fruit I am adding, and then freeze the bag. The evening before, I dump the smoothie ingredients in the blender along with my unsweetened vanilla almond milk, vanilla vegan protein powder, Greens, ground flax seeds and blend away!! Oh, and don’t worry. I plan to discuss green smoothies in more detail in a future post. So stay tuned!!

During the hectic work week is really when you will see the benefits of meal prepping! The small sacrifice you make to take a few hours one day a week is definitely well worth it. Having healthy meals prepared means I can avoid the vending machine and office treats. I don’t need to waste money buying lunch every day. Plus when I get home, all I have to do is pop dinner in the microwave, relax, and enjoy! Since my meals are prepared, I can’t justify picking up fast food on the way home just because I don’t have anything to eat at home and I don’t feel like cooking. When we’re tired, the last thing we want to do is think about what to eat and then stand over a hot stove to prepare it; especially during these warm summer months. If you decided not to cook and instead opted for your favorite fast food restaurant, you may tell yourself on the way there that you’ll get a salad. You start off with the right intentions. But…..once you get there, that one meal you told yourself you would stay away from, your trigger meal, is now staring you right in your face. Yep! That double bacon cheese burger, deluxe curly fries with some ranch on the side for dipping, and the soda to wash it all down! You devour it and then reality sets in that you’ve just pushed yourself further away from your goal for the week. You vow to get back on the wagon tomorrow. But the same thing happens the next day. You’re too exhausted to cook so you go for comfort. You go for what you know; what you’re familiar with and what will satisfy you in that moment. See where I’m going with this? Meal prepping leaves you with ZERO excuses to make food choices that are not in line with your goals. Meal prepping also means you’re consuming enough calories and nutrients throughout the day to sustain yourself. Some people still think eating 1-2 times a day will help them lose weight. The truth is that over time, your metabolism will slow down and your body will go into starvation mode and store fat because it doesn’t know when it will get more food. So it’s not about eating less; it’s about eating better quality food.

Weight loss and weight maintenance are 80% diet and 20% exercise. Your food choices play a huge role in either helping you reach your goals or pushing you further away from those goals. Don’t allow all of your hard work in the gym to be in vain due to consuming too many calories and by making poor food choices. Working out for an hour a day is the easy part. It’s what we do the other 23 hours of the day that can either really help us or hinder us. I hope these tips were helpful to you for the next time you make a trip to the store! I really hope you see the benefits of meal prepping and will give it a try!

Now, I want to hear from you! What are some of your top tips for shopping smart?