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Costco Shopping List

Costco List

Costco.

 

Enough said right?

 

When I mention Costco it ignites a fight or flight response, you vision money leaving your bank account and battling for a parking spot among a sea of retirees.

 

It’s true…it does the same for me.  However, I don’t think we can dispute the fact that they offer some really amazing bang for your buck foods and have come a long way in food quality.

One Trip Per Month

Personally, I limit myself to one Costco expedition a month to fit within my budget.  I plan for it and have become the master of Costco execution leaving with real food options that support both our micro and macro nutritional needs.

 

After my awesome feedback from my Trader Joe’s Shopping List I had many requests for more of my favorite things.  I decided to tackle Costco first.  Just like my TJs list you will find that my choices are always gluten free with a few “gluten-rific” options that my family is able to enjoy.

 

Beyond The Staples

Costco does a an amazing job of carrying high quality organic products nowadays along with many sources of organic lean proteins.  Although I will highlight some of my favorite Costco “gems” this list includes more than the staples of your weekly grocery shopping list to things that are “must-haves” of the stock.

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Must-Have Produce

 

 

 

 

Baby Creamers:I love prepping these in my Instant Pot and turning them into smashed potatoes or breakfast potatoes under a runny yolk

“Love” Beats: So yummy sliced atop a fresh salad

Fresh Start Smoothie Blend: with summer in full effect I keep this berry and kale combo in the freezer

Frozen Veggies: Costco keeps an amazing frozen selection of organic veggies to keep in the freezer for your last minute meal options

Cocktail Cucs:I am all about buying veggies my kids love.  For some reason cute little cocktail cucumbers are more popular with my kids so I snatch them up

Cauliflower Rice: (A two pack that allows you to eat one and freeze the other.  It freezes great!)

Butter Lettuce: My favorite lettuce and you can’t beat the price at Costco

Zucchini Noodles (bran new to Costco): Great for a last minute addition to dinner

 

Must Have Lean Protein

Kirkland Turkey Burgers

Don Lee Farms Chicken Patties: These are nice for an “I have nothing prepped” kind of night.

Organic Chicken Broth: I keep chicken stock on hand as a sub to saute and steam veggies and meats.  It adds flavor and keeps fat down if needed.

Rotisserie Chicken: They keep this as far away as possible to get you to walk to the back  of the store while filling your cart.  I use it to make chicken salad or as a quick protein source.

Shrimp: Great to have on hand as a very lean protein source.

 

Must Have Carbohydrates

Dried Mangoes: One of my favorite post-workout snacks

Figgy Pops: A great pre-workout snack or snack in general.  I recommend these as a great snack for my clients who are endurance athletes while on the road

Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice

Millet and Brown Rice Ramen: (literally only millet and brown rice…say what??)

Milton’s GF Crackers

Organic Raw Honey

Organic Maple Syrup: My fave coffee sweetener.  Something I have a wee bit of each day in my morning coffee.

And if you can find them…I also love

Sweet Potato Fries

Path of Life Quinoa and Kale

Must Have Fats

Nuts: I am a major nut butter junky and have found Costco’s selection of nuts to be superior when I make homemade nut butters

Nut Butters: almond, peanut, and occasionally cashew

Coconut Oil

Avocado Oil

Flax and Chia seeds: in bulk makes the cost so good (but sometimes hard to find)

Kerrygold: I use this in my coffee each morning..can’t beat the cost here

Must Have Snacks

Noosa: throw this (or any Greek Yogurt) in the freezer for 10 minutes and you have a lower fat version of cheesecake-ish dessert.

Organic Hummus: A must-have to get my kids eating more veggies

Organic PB Fit: I love this to have on hand to add to a shake, or atop a rice cake as a snack

Lundberg Rice Cakes: My favorite rice cake in a 3 PACK!!! Yeah–but hard to find.

Squeeze Pouches: All types including apple mixed fruits, veggies and Chia seed. Love this for a quick real-food pre/post workout snack or for the kids lunches.

Kind Bars: a nice option for a gluten free treat, far lower in sugar than most similar bar.  Great crumbled atop yogurt as a granola option.

Lara Bars:  a great two pack of my kids’ favorite flavors Apple Pie and Cashew Cookie.

Acai by Sambazon: A seriously delicious summer treat.  When my bananas are about to go bad a slice them up and put them in the freezer for the acai base.  Then use a few pouches to whip up a yummy acai ice cream and top with granola, berries, honey, and whatever else you want.

 

Down Fall

Costco has one major downfall and that is their inconsistency in stock.  I often fall in love with a product only to go back and discover they no longer carry it.  I can travel only a short 10 minute drive from one Costco location to another to find they don’t carry the same items.

If something you want isn’t at your local Costco ask a manager.  They are often willing to investigate and see if they too can get it in. Please Keep in mind some of the items are seasonal and vary by location. Most pantry items are easy to find year round at all locations. Prices may also vary by location.

 

The Upside

Their return policy is pretty much no questions ask.  You can take back any product you are dissatisfied with including foods items you’ve sampled.  I’ve taken back produce that went bad too quickly in my perspective and I get a fresh replacement.

 

Want To Download This List To Take To Costco?

Click HERE to download it now

 

Did I leave off one of your favorite, real food Costco favorites?  Please comment below and let me know what I need to add to my list!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

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Client Success Story: “50-ish Is The New 30”

Client Success Story: “50-ish Is The New 30”

 

Age: 47

Time Frame: 1 Year

 

Father Time

No matter how hard we try, we can’t stop time.  We have the choice to allow the aging process to deter us from making life changes with the “it’s too late mindset” or use it to drive us to find a better, healthier quality of life.

I am so grateful that the client I am highlighting this month realized she no longer wanted to walk the path of inactivity and unhealthy habits.  Instead, she made the choice to become the best version of herself at almost 50 years old.  She is a case of the chronic misunderstanding that less food=greater results.  The most exciting progress she has made is shifting her mindset to food as fuel.

This month I am excited to highlight a client who clearly makes 50 look like the new 30.  She is an inspiration to all women and proof that age is no excuse to never stop working on yourself.

 

Here is Her Story:

“At the age of 47, I have had 17,155 days to make decisions. Decisions that led to habits. Habits that led to reflections and reflections that led to insights. Those insights helped me realize I didn’t want to just exist because I was aging. With 50 looming near like the Grim Reaper, I felt a new sense of urgency in deciding if I was going to watch my body wither away or fight Father Time with all I had.

 

We Are Responsible

That decision was easy to make but I knew if I wanted to see real changes, I first had to accept that I was ultimately responsible for every one of those thousands of decisions. What I had done in my past in relation to my health and fitness goals was never entirely met. I realized that I had sabotaged my own progress by rationalizing every excuse to miss a workout or follow a meal plan.

If I was going to do this 100%, I needed to change my mindset. No longer would it matter if the holidays are coming, a vacation or simply a bad day. The time was now and I needed to stop getting in my own way.

 

I decided to join a gym that was completely different from what I had done before. Somewhere that pushed progress and had the structure I needed to remain consistent. I stepped out of my comfort zone and a CrossFit gym became my new home the second I walked in.

The atmosphere itself was unique from anywhere I had been. Members that were actually sweaty and out of breath. Pushing themselves to perform without giving up.  There would be no mindless cardio for hours. If you were there, you were working hard.  The coaches and members encouraged each other to keep pushing themselves. The positivity and kindness from all was addicting and created an equation that proved results in their commitment and physiques.

 

Missing Piece

I found the missing piece to my fitness puzzle with Coach Amanda. Not only was she a strong leader as a coach but she also trained others in nutrition. As I watched my fellow members begin to shed pounds, build muscles and increase strength and endurance, I knew I had to take the next step.

Amanda accepting me as a client was like winning the lottery.

I had found someone who was knowledgeable, promoted accountability and continually encouraged you to strive forward. She helped me not just track my intake but to understand what nutrients I need to actually fuel my body for performance. I learned how to plan ahead to promote success instead of guilt. She builds you up so you become accountable to yourself.  This was a crucial part of the process for me as I had to become comfortable in social events to make choices that supported my goals.

 

 

Not only did I lose 15 pounds and 3 pants sizes (smaller than I was in High School), but I lowered my cholesterol by 47 points and have 0% visceral fat (that awful stuff that accumulates around your organs and causes illness).

I am stronger, faster and more confident than I have even been.

The hardest part of this journey is that I wish I could take more people along with me.  I want others to understand what it is like to feel incredibly healthy on the inside and actually look in the mirror and love who you see.   To never want to crop a photo because it is proof of your progress.

I’m not afraid of tomorrow. I welcome it as it brings even further results.

 

My advice to anyone considering making changes is this. Do it now. There will never be a better time to build a better you than today!”

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

Awalk

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Business Leader Spotlight on Money Radio

What an awesome opportunity it was to be featured on Money Radio’s Business For Breakfast Show in their Business Leader Spotlight.  The chance to share my business, my passion and have a little morning radio fun with Mark and Ken was awesome!

Click HERE to listen to the interview.

Thanks Mark and Ken for the amazing opportunity!

 

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Client Success Story: The Runner

Client Success Story: The Runner

Age: 44 (and proud!)

Time Frame: 16 Weeks

 

The Supportive Hubby

Often times women get so much spotlight for success in their nutritional endeavors.  I love when a male client jumps into macro tracking, often times to support their wife, with a little hesitation and lack of interest.  It doesn’t take very long for them to become a believer in the process and become the motivator of the family.  Even more awesome is when a male client comes to me with performance goals not just scale or composition goals.

 

This month I am excited to highlight a client who is all these things: husband, dad, endurance athlete, CrossFitter, coach, ref and also has a full time day job.  He had zero excuses in his busy life and had an amazing transformation in mind, body and performance.

 

Here is his story:

 

“The year 2015 seemed to be the year that everyone was raving about tracking your macros. The results for those on “macros” were amazing. Still, I wasn’t enticed to track my food intake. I had every excuse in the book; I work too much, it is too difficult to track on all my business trips, I don’t need to lose weight and more importantly, I don’t want to be denied any of the foods that I like to eat.

 

For the first 8 months of 2016, my wife had a major health setback. When that was all behind us, she asked me to join her on her journey to get back in shape. In August of 2016, my wife and I decided to finally commit to the macro nutrition lifestyle. Secretly, I had no interest in tracking my food, but I was trying to be a supportive husband.  Amanda focuses on eating whole real foods and that fits my wife’s beliefs, so we chose to work with her as our macro coach.

 

Within weeks, I had gone from 210 lbs to 199 lbs. It was rare for me to see the scale under 200 pounds, so I was hooked instantly. Amanda and I reevaluated my goals after a few weeks since we had seen progress early on. This is when I told her I would like to go sub 190 lbs. It seemed like an unrealistic goal since I hadn’t been that weight since my college track days. To my surprise, I got there and more importantly, I felt great!!!

 

I felt like I had reversed the clock 20 years. My energy level had increased 10-fold. I was sleeping better and was far more productive at work. With all this new found energy, I decided to go after my running goals (mile, 2-mile, 5K and 10K) that I had set back in 2010 but was never able to obtain. (Actually, my 2-mile goal of sub 12 minutes was set in 2000). It took me 17 years to finally achieve that goal with a time of 11:40.

 

For the first time in my 40-plus years of life, I finally understood the nutritional value of real food. I couldn’t believe how easy it actually was. If only I had this knowledge before my college track days. Sadly, I would fill myself up on convenience store burritos before track practice and went big before track meets at….Taco Bell!

 

Not only was running fun again, but I was blazing through all my personal running goals.  I was hitting times in those races that I honestly thought were unattainable. It just wasn’t the weight loss that helped me achieve my personal best times; it was that my body was able to train more and with higher intensity than before. I recovered faster between training sessions and was filling my body with healthy carbs, fat, and protein that generated more energy. As an added bonus my body was finally free of chronic aches and pains.

 

This kind of eating just made sense to me. I handle my finances the same way. If I stay within my budgeted numbers, great things happen. Amanda was instrumental in devising the perfect plan for me and adjusting the plan as my body was progressing.  Amanda’s coaching was a lifestyle change that has made all the difference in how I now view food nutrition.”

 

Looking for tips and resources to get started on your own nutritional journey?

Check out my FREE Resources!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

Cycle Of Awesome

Cycle Of Awesome

Love of Basketball

I was a basketball fanatic growing up.  It was the love of my life.  I played year round on competitive teams and as a freshman, started for my high school’s varsity team.  Basketball was my purpose, my passion in life.  My teammates were my best friends and I was convinced it was how I was going to college.

 

Along the way though, I was faced with an injury that presented a major setback in my goals.  I was diagnosed with a form of Compartment Syndrome.  I had no clue what it was then either but was explained to me like this:

 

Like a hot dog is surrounded by a casing, so too are your muscles.  When you heat a hot dog in the microwave the “meat” inside puts pressure on the hot dog’s casing.  If that pressure builds too much, the hot dog is damaged and explodes. The same was true of the muscles in my legs. The fascia surrounding my muscles didn’t grow at the same rate as the muscle.  It was applying crazy amounts of pressure to the muscle inside it, causing no blood flow and horrific pain.

 

Devastation

I was devastated.  The thought of not playing basketball any more, not pursuing the possibility of a scholarship and not being with my teammates left me depressed.  The choice was clear to me.  I was willing to take on two surgeries, gnarly scars and a year of rehab to be ready for the next season.

 

Looking back, it was a major decision in my life that led to me jumping into the “Cycle Of Awesome” as I call it. If I could be active, I’d be surrounded by friends who loved to play sports too.  If I was involved in sports, I’d care about my health and fitness. If I cared about my health and fitness then I’d make choices to support a healthy life.  A healthy life during my teenage years would lead to a higher likelihood of having a healthy adult life.

 

What is the “Cycle Of Awesome” you ask?

The cycle of awesome starts early. We teach it to our children without knowing it.  When we are living in the cycle we are unstoppable.  When we take a detour from it, it feels as though that cycle is spinning fast and we can’t seem to figure out how to hop back in.

 

The Cycle of Awesome is when confidence, effort and results in one area of our life, leads to another.

Then another.

And Another.

And you get the idea.

It is the notion of gaining momentum in life because we have the control to do so.  When we feel in control of one area of life we gain confidence to invest in another.

 

Where Does It Start?

The Cycle of Awesome starts with yourself, your body specifically.  If you could make one investment in anything, your body is the first place to start.  If you have lots of money but aren’t healthy…what good is money?  It’s a lonely place to be if you can’t live life because your health won’t allow it.

 

I know I might have bias, but fueling your body and taking care of the inside is the first place to start.  Filling your body with nutrient dense foods feels good physically and mentally.  When you are intentional about what you put into it, you feel in control. And in fact, you are!

 

When you make positive nutritional habits you begin to notice changes in composition, you feel happier, and most of all you gain confidence.  That confidence begins to pour out into even more areas of your life.

 

When you begin to feel good you gain energy.  That energy is used to fuel other positive habits in your life such as exercise.  And guess what?  When you exercise, you get more energy and are happier all around.

 

When nutrition and fitness are used together your body is unstoppable.  When your physical being is well cared for you are ready to move on to being awesome in other aspects of life. I hear from clients all the time that so much good begins to happen in their life when they invest in themselves.  The domino effect of that investment gains major momentum as time passes.

 

How Do We Stay On It?

Being in this cycle doesn’t just happen.

 

Just like when you set out to lose weight you have to learn how to fuel your body, plan your meals and have willpower.  There is no magic pill.  That effort and hard work is just that…hard. But the outcome is so worth it.

 

The same is true in entering the Cycle of Awesome. It requires grit, effort, planning and hard work.

 

Once you’ve jumped into the Cycle of Awesome by investing in yourself, amazing things begin to happen.  Because you are more confident and happy you spread that same vibe to others, including your family.  The saying “Your vibe attracts your tribe” has quite a bit of validity to it.  Soon, you are intentional about who you surround yourself with because you don’t have space for negativity.  Your confidence breeds relationships that are genuine, authentic and reciprocal.

 

You begin to be purposeful in what you want from life.  You set more goals and set out to take on new challenges.  You become a better time manager.  You even begin to think about how you spend your money because you want more from it.

 

You begin to realize that the Cycle of Awesome is the only place you want to be because it means your life has momentum and inertia.

What If You Fall Off?

At some point it might happen.  Something will come along that applies pressure to the cycle and you might wonder..temporarily.  When you do, you will realize it feels so amazing to be in The Cycle of Awesome that you won’t allow it to be any other way.  You will have to dig deep, jump back on, and regain some speed.  And once you do, it will be that much sweeter.

 

Newton’s first law of motion, sometimes referred to as the law of inertia, tells us that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force.

 

I want you to jump on that Cycle of Awesome and continue in motion.  If an external force is applied, push back.

 

Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself

Stop making excuses.  The people in the Cycle of Awesome are there for a reason.

 

They too are busy.  They too have a crazy busy schedule.  They too have a million hats to wear.

 

But here is the difference, they don’t make excuses.

 

Instead, they channel the energy of excuse into the energy of “do.”  They take action and use grit to maintain their place in the Cycle of Awesome.  That power of do becomes habit because they make a conscious choice each day to stay on board.  Each turn of the cycle strengthens their place in it and life becomes more rich.

 

You are no different.

 

The biggest realization I hope you will come to is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  When one aspect of your own cycle slips away, don’t let it derail you.  Just like I tell my clients: If you have one bad meal, it doesn’t have to mean the entire day or week has to be lost. Make a choice to move on in a positive direction.

 

Fitness in Life

Being “fit” means so much more than muscles and mile times.  It means being healthy and strong in body, mind, money, attitude, relationships and energy.

If you are already in the Cycle Of Awesome, keep after it. (Now you just have a cool way to reference it.)

If you see that Cycle of Awesome spinning for everyone else, it is time to take action and start with investing in yourself NOW.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

Daily Grub Diary #3: What I Ate In A Day

Daily Grub Diary #3

We are all such creatures of habit.  We tend to eat the foods we were raised on, shop in the same grocery stores and order the same things when we go out to eat.

I hate food habit.  I joke with people and say I have food (and workout) A.D.D.  I don’t like eating the same exact thing every day and I feel the same about my workouts.  I get bored fast and need something new to keep me motivated and compliant.  I think that is one of the main reasons I fell in love with Crossfit.

But I too fall victim to redundancy and have a few staples I gravitate towards in my busy life.  I am always open to suggestions and love when current and past clients send me food they think I must try (so keep it coming)!

I began my Grub Diaries to share with people what I eat in order add a little diversity into their own diet and get out of a food rut.  You can visit diary 1 here and diary two here.

Tired of the same food routine in your life?  Download my Trader Joe’s “Must Have” shopping list to add some diversity to your weekly menu!

What I ate on April 13, 2017

 

Breakfast

My coffee is still more like a ritual.  I go to bed dreaming of it and wake up sprinting for it.  I guess I could be dreaming of worse, right?!?!

For breakfast I fried 1 whole and 2 egg whites up in a quick spray of olive oil.  I am often asked what I do with yolks.  My pets are the lucky recipients of those yolks most mornings and they are right at my feet waiting for them.

Alongside the eggs I toasted 2 slices of Little Northern Bakehouse Millet and Chia Seed bread. I spread 1 tablespoon of Costco Organic Peanut Butter between the 2 slices and 1 tablespoon of Crofters Superfruit Jam.  I recently found the Superfruit flavor and it has ZERO added cane sugar in it, just fruit.

 

While breakfast cooked I threw a Chuck Roast into the Crock Pot to cook all day with 1 jar of mild banana peppers to make my own version of Italian beef.

 

 

Lunch:

The night before I had made one of our favorite recipes, a Paleo spin on Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana.  I use  a modified version of the recipe from www.tastesoflizzyt.com. I usually leave out the bacon or butter to reduce fat.  In my opinion, you just don’t need it. I also use white sweet potatoes for a hint of sweet to the savory flavor of the soup.  I saute the meat and then let it cook with the broth, and potatoes and spices all day.  Then roughly a ½ hour before we eat I add in fresh shredded kale and 1 cup coconut milk as the recipe suggests.  And I promise, you can’t even taste a hint of the coconut flavor in it.  I think it tastes even yummier the day after too.

 

Snack:

I was still a bit hungry after the soup so I opted for some veggies to leave more space in my day for dinner (because I love what was to come).  So I sliced up some cucs and mini sweet peppers, poured 1-2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar over top with salt and pepper to taste.  So yummy!

 

Pre-Workout:

About two hours after lunch I knew I would be grabbing the kids from school and sneaking in a quick workout.  I hate working out hungry.  I feel like it zaps the energy right out of me.

My pre-workout snack was a rice cake topped with 1 tablespoon PB Fit and half a sliced banana (and I ate the other half alone).  This is a go-to snack for me. The crunch, with the sweet and salty makes me happy.

Dinner:

I wanted to share a super simple recipe in this post that you can prep ahead and can fit into a busy life. My house smelled fantastic all day with the chuck roast cooking in my Crock pot.

About thirty minutes before it was done I sauteed cauliflower rice in 1 teaspoon avocado oil (you can easily leave this out to save room on fat) and a small amount of vegetable broth to soften.  I love cauliflower rice to add volume to a rice dish and to sneak in that additional vegetable serving. In another pan I followed the directions on the Lundberg Basmati rice to prep it and boom…it was so dang good.

 

Bedtime Snack:

I love a snack somewhere after dinner but not too close to bed.  It is never anything heavy and frequently it is this: 1 tablespoon of my fresh homemade cashew pecan butter (recipe coming soon to the blog) that I save for all day and a few Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

So, cheers to food diversity and continually trying something new while still working in that something we love each day.

P.S. Do you want to shop for some of my favorite finds from above along with others from Trader Joe’s? Click HERE to get my Must-Have Trader Joe’s Macro Friendly and Gluten Free Finds!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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How FreshBooks Changed My Small Business

How FreshBooks Changed My Small Business

This post may contain affiliate links.

 

I was not a business major.  In fact the only “B” I got in college was in Economics and Finance (I know, total geek, right?).  It is just not the way my brain works.

Somehow I became a business owner.  Okay–not somehow, but with hard work, purpose and grit I’ve been a business owner for over 2 years.  The first 6 months were a blur.  Business was booming and I was so focused on the attention my clients needed that I neglected a whole bunch of other areas inside of my business.  I was sinking….falling deeper into a hole of disorganization and clerical chaos.

 

This was not me.

 

My husband will tell you I am “Type A” to a “T”.  I love organization, winning, being bossy occasionally (ok..well often) and to-do lists.  I needed intervention to bring organization to my business, greater efficiency and thus profit.

 

I’m A Business Owner?

My business is small and I plan to keep it that way.  I want personal contact with all my clients and that takes time.  I want to spend my time doing the important stuff.  I know there are a million people out there like me who never thought their passion would grow into a thriving business. In fact, it still feels weird to even say I am a “business owner” as I feel like it is an awesome hobby.

So why am I , a nutrition coach, writing about business stuff? 

When I took the time to look around me and see how many people are pursuing their own small business success I was shocked.  If someone would have only told me these things when I first began, I would have saved myself so much frustration and time.

There are moms making adorable wooden signs, men making knives and people offering all type of services who have felt that same sinking pressure in their chest to get their $#*% together in their small business endeavors.

 

Learned The Hard Way

Here is the honest truth, I think the best of people.  I assume if they commit to paying for a service they will.  But I got to a place where I realized that wasn’t happening.  I was holding up my end of coaching but I had clients that were not.  Worst part is I had to come to the realization that it was my fault.  I was holding them accountable in their nutrition but not in their financial obligation to me.  I just sometimes felt bad asking them to pay.  So, I continued to serve them and they took greater and greater advantage of me.

I needed a tool to give them a gentle reminder and I needed to do a better job of tracking it.

 

And so I did.

I started with FreshBooks.

 

I had researched many software programs that could help me track expenses, profit, create invoices that were super user friendly for both me and my clients. I wanted simple, nothing fancy, with a very streamlined inputting option. After much research I gave FreshBooks a go with a Free 30 Day Trial.

 

It changed everything in my business.  My stress of organization faded fast, clients paid every invoice and my time was freed up to focus on them and becoming a better coach.  (#winforeverybody) Not to mention it was easy to learn and implement into my business immediately.

 

I am a business owner but food is my passion!  Visit my library of Free Resources for nutritional tips, recipes and grocery shopping lists.

 

Highlights Of FreshBooks

 

All In One Place

I love to see the big picture of things.  I love that you log into FreshBooks and you have a dashboard view that shows where you are in real time.  What your expenses are to date, what your income is, what invoices are outstanding.  An easy to see line graph provides a quick snapshot of all the details.

The App

This is the biggest game changer for me.  Having an app to verify invoices and payments has been awesome but the major bonus has been the option to input expenses while on the go.  You simply open the app, select the expenses tab and add each expense right then and there.  Even more awesome is you can take a picture of the receipt and enter it along with the expense so you have it for tax purposes and confirmation.

 

 

Credit Card Acceptance

A big one that sent me in search of an alternative to PayPal was the ability to accept credit cards.  Many clients were miles from me, didn’t use PayPal and wanted a simple way to pay.  They made the request and I wanted to make their life easy.  The ability to accept credit cards increases the guarantee for punctual payment.

Automatic Invoices

I started my business using PayPal.  It was easy and simple.  But even a business account with PayPal lacked a major necessity for me and that was automatic invoices.  Initially I had to generate each invoice by hand to send to clients.  It was time consuming and pulled my attention away from more important aspects of my business.  With FreshBooks you can create automatically generated invoices that will be sent out on the date selected.  However, FreshBooks still integrates with PayPal and provides clients the continued option to pay from there as well. You can also look at each invoice to verify client receipt and whether or not it has been viewed.

 

Late Notices

You can also select the option with each clients to send late notices.  You have the ability to choose how many days after the invoice due date for the notice to be sent and can turn the feature on or off as needed. I never want to be an annoyance to a client.  However, I appreciate receiving reminders myself when an email gets lost or my mind spaces a payment.

 

Processing Fee

The processing fee per transaction is comparable to PayPal, anywhere from 2.9-3.5% of the total amount depending on the type of card used.  For Visa and Master card, the fee is 2.9% of the total amount + .30 per transaction.  For AMEX, the fee is 3.5% of the total + .30 per transaction.  The great part is those fees are automatically moved into your expenses so you don’t have do them by hand.

Cost

The cost for a basic FreshBooks account is $15 for up to 5 active clients, $25 for up to 50 active clients and $50 per month for up to 500 clients.  It is an extremely affordable and worthwhile business expense.

 

A Few Hiccups

When clients pay from another source such as PayPal, you must go in by hand to confirm payment for Profit & Loss reports.  Not a huge deal at all.

In addition, their bulk action options are a little challenging.  I’ve found to make changes to all invoices you must go into each invoice directly to guarantee successful changes. These few hiccups are an easy oversight for me.

 

If you are a small business owner, I strongly encourage you to invest in options that will allow you to put your time into the things that matter most in your business and grow it in the direction you want.  FreshBooks allows me to do just that.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

Are Ghost Servings Killing Your Progress?

Are Ghost Servings Killing Your Progress?

I love food.

Like A LOT.

If I could eat all day, I would be the happiest girl in the world. I have never been the girl to order a salad on a dinner date (just ask my hubby) or the girl to leave any food on my plate at the end of a meal. I embrace my love for food fully.

However, it could easily get out of control and has at some points in my life. Food has controlled my emotions, my relationship with the gym and my confidence until I found balance by tracking my macros. I love the food freedom flexible eating brings and it works!

Gaining Weight

I’ve been in a weight gain phase for months. Let’s call it a “massing” phase to sound much cooler. I have gained 10 pounds over the last 4 months and maintained it in an attempt to spend time focusing on my strength, adding size and my personal relationship with the scale versus what I see in the mirror. It has been more amazing than I imagined. But also more difficult to gain weight with intention than I expected.

Ghost Servings

The truth is, I was eating lots of food. Often times because I was trying to gain weight I would find myself taking a few extra bites here, a few extra handfuls there and a huge mental justification for it. I was “massing”…duh!

But gaining or not, that extra food disrupts the consistency I worked so hard to maintain. One bonus indulgence of peanut butter and I had added eight grams of fat to my day.

The truth is those “ghost servings” can seriously kill your progress.

I realized I needed to own up and face the music of my choices. Honesty was calling and I needed to answer.

Here Is Why

Imagine you are at a party with a plethora of tempting food options. You stay close to the grilled chicken skewers and fresh fruit and veggie tray for the most part. Then you decide you’ve got some room for chips and salsa. Soon, the 8 chips you accounted for turns into 24 and you’ve went from consuming 7 grams of fat to 21 grams of fat, a difference of 150 calories in a matter of 10 hot seconds.

The same is true at home. It is so easy to begin to make your kids that Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich they love for lunch with a side of fruit and chips. After you make the sandwich you lick the peanut butter smothered spoon and then take a few bites of each kid’s sandwich to make sure “it’s just right.” And boom…ghost serving sabotage.

Or how about when you scoop out that tablespoon of hummus or nut butter that really is more like a tablespoon and a half but you only account for just a single?

In your heart you know the choice you made, but chose only to record what fits. If what ends up in your stomach doesn’t match what ends up on paper then you are doing yourself a huge disservice.  A few little bites aren’t the the true problem.  Repeated, daily ghost servings could be adding hundreds of additional calories a week and thus killing your calorie deficit for loss.

Self Reflection

Tracking your macros only works if you are honest about what you take in. You can play food Tetris in MyFitnessPal all day long and make it look perfect. At the end of the day though progress doesn’t lie. If you aren’t seeing the changes you expect it is likely that you too need to make a personal call to the doctor of honesty.

I remind my clients often that short term sacrifices bring long-term gain. The purpose of flexible dieting is to give you food freedom but it takes hard work and consistency to see the journey through all the way to the end. Most of all, it requires honesty about the food choices you are really making.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Data doesn’t lie. As a coach, I’ve seen loads of data come in from clients that show me their ghost serving intake is high. They send these perfect diaries on paper but the scale weight and other qualitative feedback just doesn’t match up.

When we truly connect and have that deep moment of self reflection, I can see in one week that progress shift when clients get rid of those ghost servings and dial it in.

All Too Frequent

If you find yourself a victim to ghost servings all too frequently then it could be a great sign that you need to increase your intake. Sometimes if we give ourselves a bit more play on intake, the notion of feeling restricted dissipates and you actually see more progress because you can still work within your macro framework without those ghost servings. Don’t be afraid to eat more to drive results.

If you are reading this and are starting to feel that inner voice of reason start to speak to you, then maybe you need a little push to greater accountability. If you begin to record everything you eat including those ghosts servings you will see the difference in what that intake looks like. You will bring back that momentum of progress and push forward with a greater sense of appreciation for accuracy.

Work Hard Be Kind,
AWalk

 

Looking for some great travel tips to take on the road?

Download my 8 Tips To Help You Hit Your Macros On the Road Here

 

5 Ways To Avoid The Gym Trap: Work Harder In The Kitchen Than In The Gym

5 Ways to Avoid The “Gym Trap”

 

Standing in front of my daughter’s school for afternoon pickup, I was approached by another mom.

 

Other Mom: “Are you a personal trainer? I am looking for someone to come to my house to train me a few times a week. I just can’t lose weight like I used to after having my son a year ago.”

 

Me: “I am not a trainer. I am a nutrition coach.” She went on to ask more questions and I responded with answers about macro nutrition, effort and a general focus on kitchen effort.

 

Other Mom: “Oh no…that is way too hard for me,” she replied. “I don’t have the discipline and time to pay attention to my diet. I’d rather just go to the gym.”

 

I politely wished her great success in finding someone to work with and hoped she got the results she was looking for by “just going to the gym.”

 

Here is the deal people…that just won’t get you where you want to go.  The best results come from a combination of work in the kitchen and in the gym.  I was frustrated.  Frustrated for her because I wanted so badly to tell her that if she would actually invest in fueling her body that the gym pressure would be relieved.  That if she invested time and hard work in learning how to form good eating habits that she wouldn’t fall victim to the “gym trap.”  That her money would be better spent on good quality food and finding someone to show her a sustainable eating approach than on a personal trainer.

What is the “Gym Trap”?

The gym trap is something I am all too familiar with.  It is that black hole of treadmill running, back-to-back cardio classes and lifting to try to justify the late night pizza and beer sessions and all day chips and salsa benders.  Oh, I’ve been there many times and can 100% relate.  I used to pig out on Barro’s pizza and wings and Cold stone ice cream and then go run for hours to try and find balance.  It wasn’t healthy and it never worked.

Here is what I’ve realized:

2 hours of cardio in the gym is much easier than 12 hours of daily discipline in the kitchen for most people.  It used to be for me too.  But it never bred real results.

 

You Can’t Out-Train A Poor Diet

It is a saying I’ve heard in the past but never truly listened to.  I was oblivious for a long time thinking I was eating to fuel my body only to blow that hard work with repeated binging habits.  No wonder I was getting nowhere no matter how many miles I ran or how much weight I lifted.

 

If You Don’t Know Where You Are, Then You Don’t Know Where To Go

Here was my problem:  I really had no idea of what my caloric intake was.  I thought I was eating “clean” and that my binges were so minor they wouldn’t affect my progress.  “It’s only one day” I thought.  I will work out even harder this week. And that pattern repeated itself over and over again.

I had resolved myself to thinking that the girls in fitness magazines were content with starving themselves. I was never gonna be that girl I thought, I love food way too much for that.  I pretended to be content with where I was, act confident and eat on.

When I actually began to look deeper into what I was really eating it was eye opening.  In fact my 3 mile moderate paced run was burning roughly 300 calories and was completely negated by my 2-3 tablespoons of almond butter a day habit because I really had no food awareness.   I had no idea how much each scoop of nut butter, although a great fat, was adding up to. Or how much each pump of mocha syrup in my coffee really meant to my body. No wonder I saw ZERO progress?

 

If I didn’t know what I was actually eating how could I ever reach my goals? 

 

It is so basic.  I was a science teacher for goodness sake.  I taught my students every year that we had to have a baseline to measure against to understand if the variables we are changing are actually affecting the outcome.

Why would my diet be any different?

I had to go back to the beginning and find out my food baseline until I could ever know how to make progress.

I encourage you to do the same.  Begin to track your intake by writing it in a journal or even better recording it in an app like MyFitnessPal to truly see where you are.  My clients gain so much value in that very first step of becoming food aware by learning what they are really putting into their bodies.

 

Basic Principle of Scale Loss

The most basic principle of losing weight is a discussion of calories in versus calories out.

If you eat more than you use then you won’t see that scale shift.

That includes your daily fitness activity, your own metabolic rate but also your resting metabolism, called N.E.A.T.  All are critical components to scale progress and contribute to that calorie out component.

Find What Works For You For The Long Haul

Once you know where you are, you can begin to hunt for that diet lifestyle that works for you.  Not the one that lasts 30 days and then you gain all the weight back.

The one that actually teaches you how to become “food aware.”  The one that teaches you how to navigate life through vacations, social situations and date nights.  It gives you skills to make choices in those situations to support your goals.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to finding nutritional sustainability.  The value of knowing where you are and what you are putting into your body is a perfect springboard to finding the size that does fit you.

 

Food Awareness Is Priceless

I know that tracking food for the rest of your life using an app is not for everybody.  But here’s what is: learning food awareness so that you know how to eat balanced portions, create meal balance, plan ahead and become a proactive eater over a reactive one.

I have seen clients pay over $500 per month for weight loss centers and supplements.  Their success is extremely short term until they enter back into the real world eating real food.

Like learning any new skill, food awareness takes time and effort.  But I guarantee its value is lifelong and priceless.

 

Enhance Your Relationship

Ok not what you’re thinking…but close.

 

Working out should be a stress reliever.  A thing you enjoy doing not a thing you do to justify or offset food intake.  By being in control of your food you enhance your relationship with the gym.

 

I have been a chronic exerciser my whole life.  My freshmen year of college is when it began.  I was in a new place, with new food, new people and a major fear of gaining the “Freshman Fifteen.”  I didn’t realize it then but I was obsessed.  I was running through the snow to the gym to only run more on a treadmill.  It did relieve my stress but the heavy feeling in my chest if I missed a day was a burden.  I carried that feeling with me for a long time until I finally found a sustainable way of eating.

 

When you combine diet and exercise your results are enhanced.  But what I’ve found is that when my diet was finally in check I didn’t feel so obligated to exercise. I began to enjoy it even more.  Working out finally became something I chose to do and not always something I felt I had to do.  Now if I miss a day, I have zero anxiety about it and that feels so liberating.

 

By gaining control and putting the effort into how you fuel your body you too can avoid the “gym trap.”  Think about your relationship with fitness and food and where your energy is best spent.  Invest those hours of hard work in the kitchen too so it pays dividends the rest of your life.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

Looking for some great travel tips to take on the road?

Download my 8 Tips To Help You Hit Your Macros On the Road Here