Just an FYI, all those little Halloween candies that are so easy to grab a few of here and there throughout the day, and seem fairly harmless, can add up quickly! If you choose to eat them, make sure to keep track of how many you have eaten! Sure one or two or even three can be fairly harmless for most people, but don’t let a few mini pieces of candy sabotage your goals!
Protein is a very powerful macronutrient! It helps build and repair almost every single tissue in our body, it helps synthesize hormones, it supports our immune system, it boosts our metabolism, and more!
It can seem hard to get in adequate amounts of this superstar in our carb heavy world...
So, here’s TEN great ON-THE-GO LEAN PROTEIN options...
Protein Powders & Collagen Peptides – Ideally, you’ll want a high-quality protein powder and collagen peptide that is certified for sport so that it’s ingredients are guaranteed. You likely won’t find these in the convenience store, but some protein is better than none. Or, you can buy a high-quality one in single-serve packets or portion single-servings out yourself and keep them in your bag or car.
High Quality Protein Bars – Again, go with what you can at the convenience store, aiming for 20-30g protein and minimal ingredients. If you can though, buy some high-quality ones, such as those offered by Rise Bars, and keep a couple in your bag or car for when times get busy.Hard Boiled Eggs – These are a fantastic source of whole, lean protein! Boil some up for the week, and pack 2-3 with you for your busy days. Some convenience stores even offer these packaged up in their refrigerator sections!
Low Fat Plain Greek Yogurt & Cottage Cheese – Single servings of these are at most convenience stores these days! If you desire some sweetness, mix in some fresh fruit, cinnamon, and/or some honey!
Jerky – Read over the ingredients of those available at the store and grab the pack with the most protein, and least sodium, sugar, and additives.
Tuna & Smoked Salmon Pouches – Grab those packed in water, rather than oils, and with minimal additives if possible.
High Quality Deli Meats – If you can grab these fresh from the deli that is ideal, but if it’s pre-packaged (which they will likely be at a convenience store), again aim for highest protein content with the least sugar, salt, and additives.
Have a craving for processed, crunchy, salty goodness?! Then satisfy it!
It would be awesome (maybe?) if we never got cravings for processed, packaged, crunchy, salty goodness ... but the likelihood of that happening is zilch!
Most of the time (80+%), when we need/want to consume carbohydrates, we should aim to consume SMART carbs - whole, minimally processed plant foods that are high in fiber, full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and are friendly to our blood sugar, hormones, and digestion (i.e. fresh and frozen fruit, starchy tubers and veggies, whole, minimally processed grains, and beans and legumes).
However, sometimes consuming SMART carbs when we've got the munchies for processed, crunchy, salty goodness just doesn't curb the craving, and thus we often end up eating more than we should.
So I suggest giving into that craving every now and then! Processed/packaged carby items are also on a spectrum of better/smarter options.
Here's Two Tips for Making Smarter Processed Carb Choices ...
1) Read the label - Aim for minimal (<5), whole (you know what they are) ingredients.
2) Mindfully satisfy your craving - Don't eat out of the bag/box; portion out the serving size.
And here are 4 great "smarter" processed carbs ...
Cereal - Post Original Grape-Nuts (whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt, dried yeast)
Chips - Beanfields Sea Salt Bean Chips (black beans, navy beans, brown rice, safflower or sunflower oil, sea salt)
Popcorn - Trader Joe's Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil (organic popcorn, organic extra virgin olive oil, sea salt)
Crackers - Nabisco Original Triscuits (whole grain wheat, canola oil, sea salt)
And on rare occasions, I recommend giving into the real deal (but try to snag a single serve bag)! I enjoy Goldfish and Cheez-Its from time to time!
People often get fixated on weight ... either their weight on the scale ... or the weight they are lifting in the gym. When these two values don't go in the right direction consistently or at all, they often get frustrated and begin to think they are failing.
Recently I received a text from a client that read, "I'm reaching a point where it feels really hard ... I'm legit trying and nothing is happening ... I want to be smaller."
I get that losing weight, being smaller, and fitting better in clothes is a common and respectable goal for most clients who reach out for coaching. It is definitely frustrating if you are defining your progress solely by the number on the scale and nothing is happening.
But I approach coaching very differently than many programs. I don't promise crazy magical results in 12 weeks. I could get them, but that's not the coaching I like to do because it's often not sustainable nor healthy -- I prefer to pass those clients on to someone else whose jam that is! Rather, the first twelve weeks of coaching with me are about laying movement and nutritional foundations. I don't expect much physical change during this period of time, but if it happens, great! Once the foundational movement and nourishment habits are learned and built, recovery strategies are addressed, and mental and emotional "whys" are dug into, then the real physical changes start to happen!
So, when beginning a health and fitness journey, I highly suggest you broaden and define what is progress to you beyond just the scale, tape measure, weight room, etc. Some examples include, sleep quality, energy levels, pain levels, movement quality, endurance, happiness, confidence, habit consistency, food digestibility, how clothes feel, and mindset shifts.
Also, note that no matter how you define progress, the journey won't be a straight shot to the goal. Rather, it will more than likely be one hell of a roller coaster!
For those who sit a lot, the muscles of the mid-back, those deep inside the neck, the abs, and the glutes tend to become weak and inhibited and need to be strengthened.
Here are four exercises that will help activate and strengthen these areas of the body so that you can restore your posture and Vitality! (Click the hyperlinks for videos and descriptions!)
Perform 10-20 repetitions of each (hold Plank 30-90 seconds), once to a handful of times a day!!
For those who sit a lot, the muscles on the side of the neck, in the chest, the lower back, and the hip flexors tend to become overly tight and need to be stretched out.
Here are four stretches that will help release these areas of the body to help restore your posture and Vitality! (Click the hyperlinks for videos and descriptions!)
Upper Trap Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch
Make sure to hold each stretch at least 30-90 seconds, once to a handful of times a day!!
Our modern lifestyles require us to sit for prolonged periods of time, which can lead to negative musculoskeletal adaptations, known as Upper/Lower Crossed Syndrome.
This causes some muscles in the neck and hip region to become overly tight, while their opposing muscles become weak and inhibited, due to the compensations that come from continuously being in a bent-hip, rounded-shoulder, head-forward posture while being seated.
The "Upper Cross" occurs when muscles on the side of the neck and in the chest become overly tight and need to be stretched out, while the muscles of the mid-back and those deep inside the neck become weak and inhibited, and thus need to be strengthened. The "Lower Cross" is similar in that the lower back and hip flexors become very tight and need to be stretched out, while the abs and glutes become weak and inhibited, and thus need to be strengthened.
Do you have a growth-oriented or fixed mentality?
Research has shown that those who have a growth oriented mentality, tend to be more successful in life because they believe their intelligence and talent can continually be developed. Thus, they consistently work hard and seek out opportunities to learn and develop their skills, even in the face of challenges and obstacles.
Whereas those with a fixed mindset believe they are stuck with the knowledge and abilities they currently have and find putting any effort into improving as a waste of time. They are often offended by criticism, feel threatened by others' success, and feel the need to make themselves look smart.
To learn more about this concept so that you can take action and employ a more growth-oriented mentality in your life, grab a copy of Carol Dweck's book, "Mindset" here!
Wondering how to build a perfect meal for YOU?!
Start by following these two guidelines: 1) Make lean protein and non-starchy veggies the stars of your meals. 2) Use your own hand to portion out your meal properly.
As a starting point, and to maintain general health, you'll want to include lean proteins, non-starchy veggies, smart carbohydrates, and healthy fats in your meals. For females you'll want to aim for 1 palm-sized serving of lean protein, 1 fist-sized serving of non-starchy veggies, 1 handful of smart carbs, and 1 thumb-sized serving of healthy fat in each meal. Males, you'll want to double that.
Lean proteins include things like lean meat, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs and egg whites, cottage cheese and strained plain Greek yogurt, cooked lentils and beans, tofu and tempeh, and protein powder.
Smart carbs include things like fresh and frozen fruit, starchy tubers, other starchy fruits and veggies, whole, minimally processed grains, and beans and legumes.
Some healthy fat superstars include butter, olives, avocado, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and oils such as olive, coconut, flax, hemp, fish, and algae.
And I'm gonna trust that you know what veggies are! ;-)
Use these guidelines as a starting point from which you can then make tweaks dependent on your goals, activity levels, and energy levels.
Getting a new habit to stick can be quite tough! If you've been having trouble, try this simple hack - HABIT STACKING!
It's easier to build off of existing habitual pathways than to create completely new ones! Thus, with habit stacking you sandwich a habit between current habits or add a habit to the end of a current habit(s). By doing this you use your existing habits as triggers, or reminders, to help you build your new habit.
For example, my current morning routine (or habits), are going potty, brushing my teeth, getting dressed, walking the dog, and then cooking/eating breakfast. If I want to add stretching to my morning routine, I can sandwich it in there and make sure it always happens after I get dressed and before I walk my dog.
Not all fats are created equal folks! Fat has been demonized over the years, but the truth is, consuming healthy sources of dietary fats is essential to keeping our bodies humming optimally!!
Fats are essentials components of body tissues such as out brain, eyes, and cell membranes. Healthy fats help us absorb essential vitamins, keep our hormones running optimally, and help us recover faster, among other things!
Two main criteria make a fat healthy: 1) it's naturally occurring, and 2) it's relatively minimally processed.
Examples of HEALTHY FAT SUPERSTARS include, oils such as olive, coconut, flax, hemp, fish, and algae, butter, olives, avocado and yummy guacamole, nuts and nut butters, peanuts and peanut butter (Fun Fact: Peanuts aren't nuts. They're legumes!), and seeds. Other sources of healthy fats include egg yolks, high fat dairy, cacao, high quality animal fats, and fatty fish.
A serving of fat is about the length and diameter of your thumb. With most meals, try to consume 1 (females) to 2 (males) thumbs of fat for optimal health.
And lastly, make sure to STEER CLEAR of TRANS FATS (labels will say partially hydrogenated or vegetable shortening) and INDUSTRIAL VEGETABLE/SEED OILS!!! These are not natural!! They are made in labs and highly processed!
Go enjoy our healthy fats folks! They sure are yummy!
The winter holidays are here!
All of the yummy treats and hearty comfort foods that abound at holiday meals can often be stressful and sabotaging.
However, food is more than just fuel, and it is during times like this, where that sweet potato casserole that's been passed down for generations and your grandma's famous apple pie should absolutely be enjoyed, guilt free!
While most of the time I recommend eating whole, minimally processed foods, in the form of lean proteins, lots of veggies and fruits, healthy fats, and smart carbohydrates, on a holiday, I recommend you EAT ANYTHING YOU WANT! But there is a way to do this successfully!
Cue, THE ONE PLATE RULE! Here's how it works ...
At a holiday meal, grab a plate and fill it up with anything and everything you want! Seriously! The catch is, you only get one plate though (not including a drink and/or dessert), no going back for seconds! Get everything you think you'll want and put it on that one plate.
While eating, try to eat slowly. Take a breath and sip of water in between each bite. Savor every bite and eat as much as you want off of that plate. Even if you're full, but are really enjoying all of the tastes, finish off the plate. Yes, this goes against my "stop eating at 80% full" rule, but it's a holiday, and your body is fully equipped to feast, every now and then. Enjoy everything mindfully, and GUILT FREE! If you'd like a holiday or alcoholic beverage, enjoy ONE of those too, but just one!
When you're finished with your meal, try to move around as much as possible, rather than just sitting around. I suggest going for a family walk! :)
After your walk, definitely enjoy some dessert! Again, mindfully and guilt free! Choose ONE, and savor every bite!
And finally, make sure you make it a holiDAY, and not a holiWEEK or holiMONTH! Enjoy yourself, your family, and all of the delicious eats that day! And then get right back to your usual healthy habits the next day!
CONSISTENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY are the two key secrets to achieving your health and fitness goals!
It doesn't matter if you have the best designed workout plan, the perfect meals prepped, you can sleep like a baby, and have the meditation skills of a Buddhist monk. If you don't stick to your regimen consistently, you won't reach your goals!
You could adhere to your regimen perfectly today and tomorrow, even a week from now, but if you can't continue to do it consistently two weeks, two months, or two years from now, you'll end up back to square one.
Doing things with a 100%, seven out of 365 days a year won’t get you as far as doing things 1% better than before, most days of the year! Aim to make your habits simple. You should be able to stick to them even on your worst days! Once you can stick to ONE habit for at least two weeks, then think about making that habit a bit more challenging or adding in a new one.
Here's the thing though, all of us have bad days, and many of us are good at BS-ing ourselves when life gets busy. But, most of us do not like letting others down.
So, the biggest thing you can do for yourself right now to ensure that you will achieve your health and fitness goals, is to go find an accountability buddy!
Let your accountability buddy know what goals you are trying to achieve and what actions you will be taking daily to help get you there, so that they can help keep you on track!
Our "Health Care System" is really more of a Sick Care System. It's reactive/rehabilitative rather than preventative. Granted, there are some extremely important parts of our "Health Care System", such as the major advances in drugs/technology to help treat various cancers/infectious diseases and surgical/rehabilitative methods for burn and car crash victims, but most things "treated" by our health care system, such as Diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, obesity, etc. could have been prevented and still can be treated with REAL HEALTH CARE ⬇️⬇️
1) Move often! Our bodies are meant to move, and move often. It doesn't have to be formal exercise. It can be as simple as getting out for a brisk walk, doing house or yard work, or going dancing. Although, lifting heavy weights and moving fast works wonders too! Our bodies work optimally when they are highly active!
2) Eat lots of plants. Those who eat lots of fruit and veggies, legumes, and whole grains tend to have less health issues. Aim for 5+ fist sized servings of plants a day!
3) Sleep 7-9 hours every night. Sleep is one of the most underrated aspects related to health, fitness, performance, and body composition. It is just as important as exercise and nutrition, and is often the missing link that is keeping you from being your best self! Get yo' sleep folks!!
4) Laugh often and love lots. This comes down to reducing stress, having meaningful and valuable relationships, and having a positive outlook on life! Surround yourself with awesome, supportive, and fun people that will help you chillax, but also help you grow so you can leave your mark on the world.
5) Don't smoke. 'Nough said!
Food Does Not Have Morality! No food is good nor bad. It’s just food! Each food is a choice on a spectrum of potentially better options dependent upon the situation and your goals.
As long as you are choosing potentially better options at least 80% of the time, your body is fully capable of handling options that are lower on the “Better Spectrum.”
What I mean by this is that, 80% of the time choose to nourish your body with whole, minimally processed lean proteins, veggies, fruits, smart carbs, and healthy fats. Then when a situation presents itself in which you you have to pick and choose from a fast food meal or you decided to enjoy a dessert or indulgent comfort food, your body can handle it appropriately.
The key is to enjoy all foods in their time and place, slowly, mindfully, and until you are just satisfied (not full or stuffed) without attaching Good or bad, or zealousness or guilt!
I’m not saying, “breathe,” in the annoying sense of “just calm down,” when that’s the last thing you want to do when things are stressful, stakes are high, or your absolutely livid at someone. I’m literally telling you to breathe. In fact, do it rhythmically, smoothly, and with a positive focus!
If you want to perform well, no matter what you’re doing … a big presentation, an athletic endeavor, the mundane tasks of your daily life when $h!t has hit the fan and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the day … you need to gain control over your breathing. Rate, however, is not important because some people perform better when psyched (e.g. high HR) and some people perform better when relaxed (e.g. low HR). Rather, you want to gain control over your breathing rhythm, smoothness, and emotional state.
B | BREATHE. Literally!
R | RHYTHMICALLY. A consistent pace of inhaling and exhaling. It doesn’t matter what the pace is, as long as it’s consistent – 4 second inhale to 6 second exhale, 5 second inhale to 5 second exhale, 7 second inhale to 3 second exhale … doesn’t matter …
E | EVENLY. It needs to be even, or smooth, not staccato.
A | T | H | AT THE HEART. Focus your breathing near your heart because (1) it is the primary source of power in your body, (2) it allows you to get out of your head, and (3) it allows you to get into a positive emotional state.
E | EVERYDAY. This isn’t just for when something big is on the line or when life is stressful. This is for everyday! Take “focused breathing breaks” each day, even multiple times a day. By doing this, you will be able to gain control over your physiology, which will allow you to control your emotions, become aware of your feelings, control your thoughts, better control your behaviors, and thus help you perform better and be brilliant everyday!
Check out Dr. Alan Watkins intriguing TEDxPortsmouth two-part talk, “Being Brilliant Every Single Day” for more information!
Carbs are NOT evil! In fact, carbs are your friend, if you choose SMART ones and you are active!!
They help you feel full of energy, zest, and vitality; they make you feel calm and relaxed, and help you sleep well; they reduce your sugar cravings; they keep your hormones happy; and they make you feel awesome in the gym, on the field, and at life!
SMART CARBS are high in fiber; full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients; are friendly to your blood sugar, hormones, and digestion; whole, minimally processed foods; and are DELICIOUS!
SMART CARBS include ...
• fresh and frozen fruit
• starchy tubers
• other starchy fruits & veggies
• whole, minimally processed grains
• beans & legumes
A serving is the size of your cupped hand. Aim for 1 (females) or 2 (males) servings in your meals, preferably during your most active parts of your day!
I'm sure many of us have fallen woe to an "All or Nothing" mentality before ...
"Starting Monday, I'm going to workout 1.5 hours at 90% max 6 days a week."
"I'm going to food prep and eat only chicken breast, egg whites, broccoli, and sweet potatoes every single day."
"I'm going to sleep 9 hours every night and meditate for and hour every morning."
I'm sure we've all been gung-ho about some goal and been in some or all of the scenarios listed above ...
I sure have!
However, life never works out perfectly. Maybe you last a few days or even a few weeks ... But eventually life throws you a screwball, and things end up not perfect ...
This is usually where the "F**k It!" comes in! And rather then getting it all, we usually end up with a whole lotta nothing!
I like to think I'm a recovering perfectionist whose much better at practicing balance these days due to re-framing my mentality to "Always Something" over "All or Nothing."
Instead of saying, "Screw It," when life get's crazy and things don't go perfectly, think about what's one small action you can do right then instead of opting for nothing.
If you're short on time to dedicate towards your workout, and need to choose between cardio or strength training, CHOOSE STRENGTH TRAINING!
Because not only will you get the benefits of strength training ...
Improved Body Composition
Increased Metabolic Rate
Improved Functional Ability
But, if you lift fast and/or heavy enough, you'll also get a great cardio workout as well! ️
Life's stressful folks! So I highly recommend you find a doggy friend! It doesn't matter if it's your own, a friend's, or just a shelter pup you're giving some love - just find one! Doggy friends are awesome at helping us de-stress by helping us move more; by always greeting us with a welcoming smile; by giving awesome cuddles; by helping us play more often; and by always loving us NO MATTER WHAT! Go do some de-stressing with a doggy friend today!
Eat your protein peeps!! This macronutrient is imperative to keeping us functional, healthy, and resilient beings - it helps build and repair almost every single tissue in our body, it helps synthesize hormones, it supports our immune system, it boosts our metabolism, and much more! Make it the center point of every meal and aim for lean options, such as those listed in the infographic! Females should aim for at least one palm-sized serving with every meal and males should aim for at least two palm-sized servings with every meal! Enjoy!
Our bodies are meant to move and move often! Movement is at the essence of being human. Movement should NOT just be an infrequent variant of rest, RATHER rest should be the variant of movement. Here are 5 simple ways to easily start adding more movement into your day ... and you don't even have to step foot in a gym! 1) Opt for the stairs as often as possible! 2) Try active commuting by walking or biking to work, to the grocery store, and anywhere else you might have to go during your day that's within a feasible distance. 3) If you do have to drive somewhere, park at the back of the parking lot so you get some extra steps in on the way to the store or work. And if you use public transport (yay for you!), get off a stop earlier to get some extra steps in! 4) Have to hold a meeting in person or on the phone? Go for walk while talking! Bonus points if you get outside for that walk and get to soak up some beautiful sunshine and breathe in the fresh air! 5) Drink lots of water! One - it's really freakin good for you! Two - it'll make you have to pee a lot ... which means extra steps to the bathroom! So Get Up and Move More Folks! You're longevity depends on it!!
Our mind is powerful folks! Our brains interpret what we watch, think, and imagine the same as if we were actually experiencing those things. Thus, perception is reality! Check your thoughts; Check your observations; Check your imagination! Then ask yourself the tough questions posed in this image. You are in control! To become more resilient and to experience more success, think/imagine/observe success and ways to problem solve!
Sleep! Just Do It! Like Nike said! 😉 I know, easier said than done, most of the time! But in all seriousness, sleep is one of the most overlooked factors when trying to improve function, health, fitness, and performance! While the ideal quantity is 7-9 hours EVERY night, I know many of us just can't afford that in our crazy busy lives. Sleep is one of MY personal top priorities though - even over exercise and nutrition! I am religious about being in bed 8 hours a night and there are only a few nights a year that I don't get that. I know that may or may not last forever though. But for those who are as religious about their time in bed as me, but maybe don't get great sleep, OR for those whose simply can't dedicate that many hours to sleep, QUALITY is what you want to go after! To improve the quality of your sleep, create and use a Sleep Ritual by following the five steps listed in this graphic! Sleep well folks!
Eat your fruits and veggies peeps! They do tons of super awesome things for you! They provide you with lots of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients! They're an amazing source of fiber and water! They're alkaline producing (which is great for those bones I talked about yesterday)! And they take up a lot of volume and are low calorie! Plus they are delicious and nutritious! So eat up! Aim for 5+ servings a day to keep the doc away! One serving of fruit is about a handful and one serving of veggies is about the size of your fist.
People, especially older women, always ask why I place so much emphasis on incorporating loaded/impact movements in my coaching programs - and this is one of the main reasons why --> it helps preserve Bone Density! This is extremely important, as low bone density can increase the likelihood of a fracture or break, which can lead into a vicious cycle towards lack of independence, immobility, and potentially death (not trying to be dramatic), especially in older folks! So get out there and do some loaded movement training - any type of weight lifting, speed walking / jogging / running, and boxing / kickboxing are great places to start!
The frame through which you look at and interact with the world will determine the experience you have, regardless of your personal background or the environment you are in. Seek to make learning opportunities out of problems; figure out how to turn negative qualities into super powers; turn 'I have tos' into 'I get tos!' Mentality is the name of the game! Change your mentality, change the game!
Stress is your response to a demand or threat. Some stress can be good as it can push you to become better, while too much or the wrong kind of stress can be bad and break you down! Two recommendations: 1) Find your stress sweet spot - the point where you're challenged just enough to make you better! 2) Make sure you're chasing after regeneration time!
I don't know where you're currently at right now, but here in Austin, Texas it's past the point of heating up and reached the point of F💥💥king HOT!! This means that proper hydration is more important than ever!! You should aim to drink 0.5-1.0 oz of water per pound of body weight EVERYDAY!! And in addition to being in a hot climate, if it's really dry out or if you are at a high elevation, you may want to think about adding a pinch of salt to your water bottle or a low-sugar electrolyte tab so that your body holds onto the water you drink better! My favorite electrolyte tabs are Nuun tabs. And my favorite reusable water bottle are Hydroflask bottles! Drink up and enjoy!
Have neck pain? Text often? These may be correlated! It's a relatively new phenomenon called Text Neck! Due to our obsession these days with our phones, tablets, and other wireless devices, many people are starting to acquire pain in the neck (pun intended) from frequent and prolonged looking down at our tiny mobile screens! Avoid this Pain In The Neck by keeping your spine in a line and keeping your core muscles (Glutes, Abs, Pelvic Floor) engaged!