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26 Things You Can Do Right Now to Change Your Health in 2018

26 Things You Can Do Right Now to Change Your Health in 2018

 

I was attending a kid’s birthday party not too long ago when I began small talk with another parent. It’s that forced conversation that happens often at parties with super nice people you may never again see in your life.

 

The conversation typically leads into, “What do you do?

 

When I respond with the fact that I run my own nutritional coaching business most respond with something like. “Oh man, I shouldn’t eat in front of you” or “I’ll pass on the cake today since you are here.”  This conversation was no different.

 

Here is the deal. I don’t judge (at least I try really hard not to). We are each responsible for our actions.  We are each responsible for the consequence of our food choices, both immediate and in the future. So I created a list of the top 26 things you can do right now to change your health in 2018.

A Quick Breakdown

From this discussion, I am often launched into a Q&A session of nutritional philosophies and perspective.  The reality is that there are small and powerful things you can do that can change your life.

 

But why doesn’t everybody do them?

 

Because it is freakin’ overwhelming, that’s why!

change your health 2018 pinterest

 

Where do you start?

Do I eat Carbs?

Should I exercise 2 or 7 seven times a week?

All of these things are unimportant until you target in on some fundamental things you can do that are simple to implement to begin that road to success.

 

These are things you can do RIGHT NOW to change your health because they are tiny steps that can enact long-term change.  Don’t ever think that you can bypass the small changes to get to the big ones because they are a waste of time.  Everything you do in life starts small and becomes GREAT.

 

Prepare Your Own Food

This is one of the easiest things you can do right now to change your health in 2018. Bypass the regular trip to McDonald’s a few times a week and just begin to make your own food.  Don’t stress yet about what the food is.  Take the time to make it, be proud of it and you will see that you miss out on all the hidden fat and carbohydrate sources we are exposed when people who don’t have our health in mind prepare our food.

Create Accountability

Accountability looks different to everyone.  You can create accountability by having an accountability friend, through the use of an app like MyFitnessPal or through a coach.  Creating accountability is the #1 variable of nutritional success.

Throw Away Trigger Foods (for now)

Clean out the pantry, throw away the Oreos and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and get rid of temptation…for now.  If you can’t moderate yet, then don’t leave the temptation dangling in front of you every day.  Once you gain greater food awareness you can work those things back in sparingly and you will appreciate them that much more.  You will also find that you crave them less.

Drink More Water

Water is powerful, and you need it to survive. So drink more of it.  You will feel better, move better, and you will drive cellular balance.  Aim for roughly .5 ounces per pound of body weight as a starting point. But, you can always drink more if you would like.

Eat Real Food

Taking the time to eat real and whole foods that make you and your body feel good will not only be beneficial to you, but it can really change your health in 2018.

Add 1-2 serving of vegetables into your day

If you start with this simple effort, you will begin to notice that these 1-2 servings of veggies replaces a less micronutrient dense option and helps you reduce your macronutrient intake.

Plan Ahead

Take time to think ahead about the day in front of you.  Defrost a lean protein for dinner, pack leftovers for lunch and make sure your veggies and fruits are washed, peeled and chopped so they are at your disposal.  If you don’t plan ahead you are likely to opt for convenience every time. So instead, make healthy choices convenient for planning and prepping.

Move Your Body

Go outside and move your body for 30 minutes a day 3 times a week. Not only is it great to increase caloric expenditure, but the endorphin release will make you a happier person all around and will increase energy levels. You can even start off by simply walking around your neighborhood. There is bound to be an exercise or workout that you find yourself enjoying.

 

Learn Portion Sizing

Invest in a nutritional strategy that teaches you how to understand portions.  This is a skill set that is priceless and will bring you long-term success as you work towards trying to change your health.

Eat More Protein

Adequate protein intake is an extremely important variable to nutritional success.  Work to include protein-packed snacks into your day to increase your protein intake.

Log Your Food Intake to Become More Food Aware.

A great step to help you change your health is to be aware of what you need and how much you need. The use of an App like MyFitnessPal is powerful in learning food awareness.

Get More Sleep

Sleep is often overlooked as a powerful weight loss tool.  Sleep allows the body to rest and digest and promotes healthy weight loss. You can try to change your health by just eating whole foods and exercising, but learning to change your health as a whole (and focusing on other ways to be healthy) will be beneficial in the long run.

Reduce Stress

Stress can affect even the healthiest people. Reduce yours through exercise, deep breathing and doing more things that make you happy.

Pay Attention to Hunger Cues

Eat slowly, engage in conversation, dive into the flavor and listen to the cues your body is sending you. This will also help you begin mindful eating practices.

Invest in Understanding Nutritional Labels

If you really want to change your health in 2018, invest in understanding nutritional labels. That way, if you have to have convenience, or if you want to indulge without feeling guilty, you’ll know what you’re looking for.

Always Have Healthy On the Go Snacks

Be prepared with snacks when you leave the house.  Don’t let a lack of planning leave you opting for something that isn’t going to support your goals.

Resistance Training

Don’t be afraid to add resistance training to your fitness regiment. It won’t make you bulky (unless you work really hard to do that) and it’s a great way to switch up your workout routine and change your health.

Create a Weekly Menu

This goes back to planning ahead, but I can’t stress it enough! Creating a weekly menu also helps you reduce stress and is great for the budget so it’s all a win-win situation.

Make it a Family Affair

A healthy life is a journey your children deserve too.  Bring them into the kitchen and make them a part of the experience. Set them up for a lifetime of nutritional success. You’ll change your health, and they’ll be able to change theirs too.

Rethink Your Drink

Liquid calories can be an extreme source of sabotage.  Rethink your Coke or Venti Mocha and replace it with water, sparkling water, cold brew or tea.

Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

The saying goes that we are most like the people we spend our time with.  If the people around you aren’t supporting your goals then find people who will.  It makes your journey feel better when rising tides lift all ships.

Set goals

Write your goals down, don’t just think about it.  When you write your goals down success is more likely to happen.

 

Identify Your “Why”

You must have a driving force behind your choice to change your health. It doesn’t have to match anyone else’s why, but being meaningful for you can help you push through barriers or obstacles, even when you want to give up.

 

Reward Yourself

Nope, I am not talking about rewarding yourself with cookies :). But with positive self-talk, maybe a new outfit when you hit a target goal, or with some type of self-love currency in your life at that moment.  Hard work deserves celebration.

Realize it Isn’t “All or Nothing”

This is perhaps the hardest part for many of my clients.  If you have a bad meal, bad day or a bad week, it’s time to put it behind you.  Don’t allow one moment of struggle turn into weeks and months.  Progress is made through consistency.

 

If you want to change your health in 2018, it’s possible, and these tips are all easy to start implementing. But most of all, cultivate an attitude of loving yourself so much that you deserve be healthy, happy and fit. Period.  When you are ready for more, I’ll be here ready to push you forward!

 

Ready to kickstart your health right now?

Check out my Nutrition Is For Everybody e-course HERE.

 

Which tip from the above list are you going to start with?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Client Success Story: The Weight Lifter

Client Success Story:  The Weight Lifter

Age: 33

Timeline: 1 Year

 

There is a general misconception that when someone isn’t at their ideal weight that they over consume calories.  More often than not the exact opposite is true.  I’ve had hundreds of clients who come to me with frustrations from living in a heavy calorie restricted diet for years. Many times it is unintentional and sometimes, is not.

This signals the body to go into “emergency mode” and store what little food the body is supplied as fat.  The only answer to lose weight: take on more fuel to drive loss.

This week’s client came to me in this place.  She wasn’t eating enough, especially for her volume of training, and needed to shift her perspective from the notion of “less being more.”  She did that and did it amazingly well, dropping two weight classes as a competitive weight lifter (that’s over 20 lbs) and looks and feels better than she ever has. She recently competed in the American Open Series and qualified for the Finals this winter. Her passion, work ethic and follow through is inspiring and I am grateful to call her a client and friend.

 

Here is her story:

 

“What a trip!  Miami was hectic, humid and amazing all at the same time.  There wasn’t a second to slow down and really enjoy everything that Miami has to offer but we sure got to experience a TON of weight lifting.  Overall a super successful trip for the team and for me personally.   But success never comes easy!  This past year I’ve worked hard to gain strength while cutting weight.

 

I have officially been working with Amanda for one year this August.  When I started I weighed around 150 lbs and was competing in the 69kg weight class.  I wasn’t comfortable or confident at this weight, so we set some goals to get me to the next lowest weight class which is 63 kg.  Our goal was slow and steady which would allow me to continue training hard.  I competed a few times at the 63kg weight class this past year, but I felt like I could do more.

After discussion with my weightlifting coach Brian, as well as Amanda, we decided to drop to the next weight class which is 58kg.  Our long term goal was to compete in July at my lowest weight class.  With the amount of training I do every day (1.5-2 hours, sometimes more) it was incredibly important that I eat enough to prevent muscle breakdown and fatigue.

 

Along the way, I’ve fallen off the wagon, gotten back on and fallen off again.  I messed up, wouldn’t track, failed to send my numbers, gave up on weighing myself because I didn’t want to see the number on the scale.  The best part about having a macro coach is the accountability.  When Amanda doesn’t hear from me, I know she will definitely be following up by text, email or in person.

 

 

She helps encourage me, talks me off cliffs and gives me meal ideas when I can’t figure out what to eat to fit my day.  She is always there to remind me that I don’t have to throw away the whole day or week or month, just because I messed up one time.  I’m not perfect.  I love ice cream, pizza and cookies and struggle with self-control when it comes to food.

 

When July came around (WAYYYY faster than I felt like it should) I was slightly above my goal weight, but wasn’t worried at all because Amanda was in constant contact with me about my daily weights and food intake, especially when it was coming close to game time.  Cutting the last few pounds (kilos, whatever) of weight can be tricky, especially as a female with cross country travel and time zone acclamation as well as an evening weigh in.

 

When July 28th finally came, I was perfectly on weight, slightly under actually. I never felt overly hungry or tired.  At 6pm I weighed in at 57.66.  I was able to compete as a 58kg lifter for the first time and on a national stage.  I felt good, not weak or fatigued at all and was able to take 8th place in my weight class out of about 60.

 

So what have I learned through this whole process?  Be Consistent.

 

When I track consistently and weigh in regularly I see the most significant results.  I tend to really buckle down right around competition time when I really need to make weight and I never have a problem reaching the weight I planned.  I’ve also learned that with the proper guidance you can lose weight and get stronger with more food, not less.

 

I’ve lost 20 lbs this year and PR’d every single one of my lifts.

What’s next?

Maintenance and more food.  Which means I will need to be accurate in my tracking and make sure I eat all the food I’m allowed in order to help me gain some strength so I can compete at the American Open Finals in December!”

Want to read more client success stories like this one.  Click HERE to read more about my clients’ amazing transformations.

nutrition-ecourse

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Menu Ideas To Inspire You #1: Fall Edition

Weekly Menu To Inspire You #1: Fall Edition

The BIGGEST struggle my clients, and many of you, share that holds them back from nutritional success is meal prep, menu ideas and planning.  It takes times, energy and thought, all of which we just can’t seem to squeak out enough energy to make happen.

 

The reality is though–it is a game changer when it comes to nutritional success.  When your weekly menu is set, you are much more likely to feel compelled to stick to the plan and prepare your food at home.  In addition, meal prep keeps money in your wallet instead of overspending on halfway decent restaurant meals.  What I’ve found is that when we go out it really feels like a “special” meal out and we enjoy it much more.

 

Nothing Fancy

Meal planning doesn’t have to be fancy.  I think that is where many people fail.  They scan the interwebs for tasty looking meals that require everything under the kitchen sink and then feel completely overwhelmed.  Instead, start simple and think of what ingredients lend themselves to multiple meals in the week so that ingredients don’t get wasted in your frig.

Each family has their own unique way to menu plan from chalkboard menus to digital planning guides…find what works for you and stick with it (not just for a week).  Your lifestyle, number of mouths to feed and food preferences will greatly dictate that routine. My goal is to take the “thought” out of the planning and provide you with a list of meals that will remove one piece of the puzzle.

 

Getting in the mindset of planning ahead rather than facing the 6 o’clock scramble after a busy day of work and overtired children is not the ideal time to have to come up with a dinner plan from scratch.  Do yourself a favor and become proactive in your planning.

 

This week’s menu ideas are inspired by Fall.  It’s the season of squash, soup and cooler weather (unless you live in AZ like me).  Several of these recipes require chicken breast or ground turkey.  One of the simplest ways to simplify your mealtime prep is to do “prep ahead protein.”  I love to get the protein work out of the way and prepare chicken in the Instant Pot, slow cooker or grill and then use it for several meals in the week.

Menu ideas to inspire you:

Monday: Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

 

If you are like us, Monday sometimes leaves us like a deer in the headlights trying to recover from the weekend.  Make Monday easy so you start off with a huge win in the meal prep box and it drives some momentum into the rest of the week.

 

 

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday with Turkey Tacos

Photo courtesy of www.drhyman.com

Why not join the Taco Tuesday trend and make this a theme each week with a unique twist.  These tacos are fresh tasting and are delicious on my favorite, butter lettuce.  You can easily add in corn tortillas as well.

 

Wednesday: Skinnytaste Blissful Butternut Squash

Photo courtesy of www.skinnytaste.com

 

Soup Night is an easy night and cozy night for the fall and winter weather.  Soups can cook all day long in the crockpot or have some quick turnaround time in the Instant Pot.  This recipe is a great one to add your prep ahead protein in order to work for a more balanced plate that includes protein value.

 

Thursday: Steak and Potatoes

Photo courtesy of www.skinnytaste.com

Okay..well kind of.  These two paired look so amazing!  The great part is this may take a bit more prep time (not too much) but could be made in bulk for lunches for the next few days!

 

Friday: PaleOMG BBQ Chicken Casserole

Photo courtesy of www.paleomg.com

 

When you hear casserole…don’t you think to comfort food?  I know I do and this one doesn’t disappoint.  Even though it adds a big veggie component, your family won’t even notice because it is that yummy.  You can prep this ahead too and pop it in the oven an hour or so before you are ready to eat.

 

Saturday: White Turkey Chili

Photo courtesy of www.thekitchn.com

The weekend derails people from mealtime success because we deviate from routine and want to just relax.  So plan ahead for that and use the morning time when we typically have more energy to put some ingredients in the crockpot, leaving no excuse for dinner time.  This recipe is awesome because you can doctor up the seasonings and add even more veggies for micronutrient bonus.

Sunday: Sunday Funday Fajita “Nachos”

Photo courtesy of www.fitfoodiefinds.com

We are football fans and use Sunday to stay in our PJs, veg out and be together as a family.  We love to have football foods that are fun and that involve the whole family.  This recipe ups the health game and used sweet mini peppers as the vessel for delivery but can also be substituted for a more traditional homemade corn chip.

 

Post in the comments below your favorite recipe from above.

Did you make any tweaks or changes…I’d love to hear what you did!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

nutrition-ecourse

 

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Progress Is In Imperfection

Progress In Imperfection

I have a friend in my life who has the most amazingly creative brain.  From her sense of style to her home decor, her eclectic edge is stunning. That creativity carries over to her ability to plan an event with such a unique and funky flair that it blows my mind. In fact, she is paid professionally to do this and does it well. Everything in her life echoes that same creative, event planning style that I just simply admire.

For years, I’ve desperately wanted that “flair” too.

But…I am just not that girl.

I never will be.

And that is okay.

 

Seeking Feedback

I recently surveyed my clients and newsletter subscribers. I asked them a series of questions about my service to them, their current struggles and what content best supports their needs.

 

It’s nerve-racking to collect that data because it exposes all of your flaws and shortcomings through the eyes of those who trust you.  However, I know in order improve as a coach and business owner I must attack my weaknesses and confront them head-on.

 

The following question was asked in the survey:

“What additional content would you like to see provided on my blog and other social media platforms?”

 

One response hit me in the gut.

 

The response read:

“You seem flawless from my perspective, so when you share how real you are it’s extremely relatable.”

WOAH!  

I came to a screeching halt…it was a huge throat punch.  The fact that a subscriber shared that with me was eye-opening as I am guilty of seeing only my flaws.

The truth is, I drop my kids at school with sleep lines, no makeup, in workout clothes and disheveled.  On most days I feel like the ‘hot mess express” coming in HOT (not hawt).  I often look at other moms, dads, families with the same sentiment.  They look like they’ve got a life so put together when I feel like I am at the deep end of the pool treading water.

What I realized is that each of us has our strengths.  We each have that “thing” we thrive on.  That thing that makes us whole, that gives us purpose and that those that surround see as our gift.  Another person’s strength can be so glaring when we know it is not our own.

 

My girlfriend has the creative planner gift.

 

My gift is food.

My Food Game

Food…really? That’s my strength?

 

Well kind of…..

 

My gift is the ability to see food with a purpose.  To teach people how to find balance in their food intake and in their food mindset. I love food, I have a passion for nutrition and health.  Combined with my affinity for helping people, they all have come together to become my “thing.”

 

The Truth

I realized that from an outside perspective my progress, results, and day-to-day shares on social media may give the perception of “perfection.”  But all that glitters is certainly not gold.

 

But here is the reality…I am far from perfect.

 

There are days I have ZERO vegetables.  

 

There are days where I track my macros extremely “haphazardly” because…well… LIFE.

 

There are times I drink too much wine.

 

There are days, in a row, where I just can’t get to the gym because too much stuff has piled up on my plate and I am exhausted.

 

There are days I’d rather be in my PJs by 5.00 pm so I abandon my plan and get take out.

 

There are days I step on the scale and feel defeated.

 

There are days I fill my brain with negative self-talk.

 

There are times where I can’t keep my face out of the cashew pecan butter or ice cream.

 

There are a whole lot of days that I am not perfect.

 

The Difference

We all have our “thing.” But we spend far too much time focusing on other people’s strengths because we see them as our own weakness. As a result, our “thing” is buried down inside while our joy is stolen from us.

 

We all have days of imperfection. The fact of the matter is perfection isn’t even realistic.  If we hold ourselves to a constant standard of perfection, we will be disappointed over and over.

 

How do we move past imperfection in our weaknesses to make progress?

 

The answer is consistency.

It’s the ability to not allow a few hours of imperfection turn to days and then weeks.  It’s the ability to realize that life provides so much grey, we can’t always live in the black and white.  I have cultivated the strong ability to put the past behind me and rely on consistency, not perfection, to guide me toward my goal.

 

In fact, I thrive on it.

 

I have the ability to realize it isn’t about perfection it is about progress. That simple fact is what drives success.  I want people to know I am never perfect.  But I am working hard to be better and make progress towards whatever goals I have, fitness or business related.  Sometimes that goal is as simple as just “maintain” because life is spinning around me and I have to sacrifice something to make it all happen.

 

I leave my MyFitnessPal diary open to clients because I have zero to hide.  I want them to see what I eat, even hold me accountable and realize I too have moments where I am not perfect.  But those “moments” stay just moments.  I’ve put in the work to find balance in life and in the goals I have physically and mentally.

Power

If you have a bad day, a bad meal it’s meaningless in the big picture of life. Each day is given to us as a fresh start to put our experiences, good and bad, behind us and move forward.  Results don’t come in a year or even two. Instead, it’s a continual work in progress over time and is always ongoing. Do you know what consistent work over time is?

Power.

It’s the power of enabling yourself to operate in the “grey” of life.  For many, learning to evolve from an “all or nothing” approach is a huge mindset shift.  It’s a skill applicable to all aspects of life.

When Nutrition Is Not Your Thing

Nutrition doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” Having consistency to reel yourself back in after those rough life moments takes energy, grit and inside work. Healthy eating that supports your goals is a challenge for many people in life.  You must begin to realize that your progress will come by making small consistent changes over time.

 

Nurture Areas That Aren’t Your Thing

I spent a long time working to get here.  My goals changed, life happened but still…I got there.  Others got there faster and some are still working to get “there.”  I am imperfect…covered with stretch marks, scatterbrained, at times filled with negative self-talk and none the less, an average mom like so many others.

Consistency and effort over time have gotten me to this place and it will get you there too.  Embrace your “thing,” nurture the areas that aren’t your “thing” and welcome the imperfection in it all. Progress is in the experience, not perfection.  When we each are willing to share our “thing,” our passion…then we inspire others to be better as well.

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

5 Reasons Homemade Food Is Better

5 Reasons Why Homemade Food Is Better

 

As a society, we are failing.

 

We are failing to make our health a priority.

 

We are failing to even assess our health.

 

We are failing in medicine.  Medical practitioners are so limited by time and money that they fail to practice preventive medicine.

 

We are failing by not slowing down and continually giving into convenience.

 

We are failing because we argue about which nutritional strategy is “right” rather than helping find something that works long-term for each person.

Number One Investment

A trip through the drive-thru offers such convenience that we are willing to choose speed over quality.  We are willing to buy pre-packaged hard boiled eggs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because even those require too much time in the kitchen.

I’ve learned, through my own experience and also by coaching my clients, that there is one investment we can make in our life that will pay huge dividends to overall health.

 

That investment is to prepare your own food.

Yes..I am talking about giving up the time to do other things that are far less important like watching Netflix and spend some time in the kitchen to make good old-fashioned homemade food just like grandma did.

Don’t get me wrong…I am not talking about fancy.  My meals are never fancy but they are homemade almost 95% of the time.  Homemade means starting from scratch (or just about scratch) to create a meal that provides macro and micronutrient value.  It means passing on convenience because you love your body (and your family’s) that much.

I can hear it now: “But Amanda…you are crazy!  I don’t have time.”

I call B.S.

 

It isn’t that you don’t have time, it is that you don’t make it a priority to have time for it.  If you calculate the hours you spend trolling the internet, catching up on your Netflix shows and waiting in line at drive-thrus and restaurants, I am willing to bet those would stack up to a few hours of solid meal prep time during your week.

There is no greater preventative investment in your health than in your nutrition.  You may feel great now but you are setting yourself up for failure by not making changes for your future. Not just for you but for your kids too.

My heart aches when I see young children already on the brinks of obesity who simply had no choice but to follow on the heels of their parents.  We have an obligation to keep our kids safe, protect them from outside harm and provide them the tools to do this on their own as well.  Food is no different.

 

Want some homemade recipes delivered to your inbox?

5 Reasons Homemade is better:

1. Higher in volume, lower in calories

Simply put, making food at home offers more bang for your buck.  When eating out or buying pre-packed food, there is so many more hidden fats, preservatives, salt and sugar.

When comparing similar items made at home versus store/drive-thru bought, you are able to consume more food for the same nutritional value.

Let’s look at some examples.

 

Example #1: Tortilla Chips

For one serving of Mission tortilla chips (1 oz/12 chips), there are 7 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein.

I can make my own tortilla chips at home using 2 Mission tortillas which yield 16 chips for only 1g of fat, 18 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein.

 

There is much more hidden fat in the pre-packaged chip not to mention a plethora of ingredients that aren’t included in the plain tortillas.  You can eat far more when they are homemade for a lesser caloric value.

 

Example #2: Overnight Oats

Oatmeal is an easy morning breakfast.  Overnight oatmeal has taken breakfast time by storm because it is an easy prep ahead option.

Quaker has even now created their own version of Overnight Oats. Within one container of oats, there are 10 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of protein when prepared as suggested.  You can prepare your own oats at home with fresh fruit, almond milk, yogurt for again a lesser caloric value.

 

Example #3: French Fries

McDonald’s french fries have 19 ingredients.  Yes, 19.  Mine at home has 4: real potatoes, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Occasionally I get crazy and add a 5th…garlic. By the way…they still taste awesome.

 

In a medium McDonald’s french fry there are 16 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein.  This compared to making 4 ounces of fresh fries at home that are baked in the oven with fresh spices and a small bit of spray olive oil which will have roughly 1 gram of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fat.  You can eat almost double the quantity of homemade french fries for the value of one medium french fry at McDonald’s.

 

2. More micronutrient density

Micronutrients are those substances our body needs in trace amounts for growth and development.  When we buy processed foods or Fast food, the method used to prepare these food items often strips the food of these nutrients.

Buying fresh vegetables, fruits and meats allow you to prepare the food in such a way to preserve these nutrients.

 

3. Saves cash

I highlighted the comparison of eating at McDonald’s versus at home in a previous blog post on how to save money on real food.  It costs roughly $15-20 for one meal for a family four at McDonald’s, that would be an average of $45-60 per day and then an average of $1350-$1800 per month to eat out.  We are a family of four and our monthly budget for groceries is $900 and it is 95% real food.  Making your food from scratch DOES require more time.  In the long run, though, will cost you far less money.

 

4. You are in control

When you eat out portions are ridiculously more than we need. It is easy to be tempted by the food in front of you and eat way more than needed. Not only that, you can’t control exactly what you want and often end up having to be the “picky” customer to get you want.

Homemade meals allow you to get it the way you want in the quantity you want it.  You are more aware of what you serve yourself which may have a positive impact on weight loss if that is your goal.  Making a homemade meal gives you 100% control of the outcome.

 

5. It’s a family affair

You don’t have to go it alone.  It isn’t up to one person in the household to make changes.  It is a group effort that involves the little people in your life too.  The buy-in from the whole family to begin to cook and eat at home is far greater when it becomes a teamwork atmosphere.

 

Allow the family to create meal ideas together.  Shut off the TV, turn on your favorite Pandora station and meal prep together.  Most of all, sit down together at the table and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 

Put It In Action

The reasons for shifting to home cooked meals are glaring.  It takes behavior change and investment to actually put this shift into action.  The great news is that the value of home cooked meals is becoming more clear for younger generations, the twenty-somethings, as they are spending more time in the kitchen according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.

 

Be an advocate for your health and take control of what goes into your body.  Enjoy a quality meal out now and then for an alternative dining experience.  BUT…don’t get pulled into the temptation of convenience.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

 

I’d love to hear from you:

 

How often do you cook at home?

 

What is the hardest part of making homemade food?

 

Post your replies below!

 

 

 

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What I Eat In A Day: Daily Grub Diary #4

Daily Grub Diary #4

Summer has come and gone !  I spent the entire summer trying to find a groove in my work-life balance.  Early mornings were my necessity to maximize my days with my kids. Now that I have almost mastered that balance…we have another “new normal.”

I’ve realized new normals come often in life and we can chose to whine about it OR we can chose to kick it’s BUTT.

I chose the later!

 

Why I Ate In A Day

Wednesday, July 26th

Wake Up: 4.30 alarm clock leads me directly to COFFEE! Lately I have been replacing the butter in my coffee with coconut oil!  Throwing it back to my BP days for sure, but much lighter on the serving.

 

Breakfast:

Breakfast has slowly become my favorite meal of the day (my husband loves that). I actually used to hate breakfast because I didn’t get very creative in the kitchen with it.  Once I worked towards discovering new foods I love for breakfast…it was on!

 

I was in desperate need of grocery shopping  and ate zero veggies all day the day before. S0 I stocked up started getting them in early that day.

 

I used my KitchenAid  spiralizer and made a huge batch of zucchini noodles for the rest of the week.  While those spun, I also sliced 2 ounces of baby creamer potatoes that I had already meal prepped in my Instant Pot.  Then, I sauteed them in the pan with a slight spray of olive oil until golden brown.

 

I created zoodle nests (still raw) and topped each with potatoes and a runny yolk.

A big filling breakfast for 10F, 15P and 15C. And while I was at it, I prepped the same for the next day’s breakfast! While things cooked, I also laid out shrimp and lean ground beef to defrost for our dinner.

 

Lunch:

Today was a working lunch.  If I was deep in the middle of client emails, writing or projects so I reached for an easy protein packed lunch.  Today it was my favorite tuna from Trader Joe’s atop a bed of arugula (add in those greens) along with Milton’s gluten free rice crackers.

Want to download my Trader Joe’s Shopping List?

For a little sweet something after I ate, I also reached for my obsession right now… a Figgy Pop.

Today I worked out in the afternoon which isn’t my favorite time of day.  I just feel more fatigued and slow because it isn’t my regular routine.  The 8-9 am window is my jam.

 

Pre-Workout Snack

For a pre-workout snack I prepared one of my go-tos.  A rice cake with 2 tablespoons PB fit (mixed with water to create a creamy texture) and ½ sliced banana.  However, I’ve been really enjoying Lundberg’s newer rice cake stackers.  They are more thin and crispy and I like the overall crunchiness much more.  I feel like it’s a faux chip.

Dinner

Dinner was exceptionally amazing if I do say so myself.

The kids (and us too) love the homemade chips I make.  Tonight I decided to make tostada shells instead.

While the meat sauted in pans, I followed my homemade tortilla chip recipe (sans the cutting step) and allowed the shells to bake in the oven.

 

 

One of the main reasons I was inspired that evening to make tostadas was because a friend had also brought me fresh sweet corn from a farm in northern Arizona. I popped it in the microwave for about two minutes to soften it up and then cut it off the cob into a bowl.

 

Next, I added in fresh chopped cilantro, a dash of salt and lime juice to create a fresh, flavor packed salsa to go on top of the tostadas.

 

As a “glue” for the tostada fixings I also mashed avocado and mixed in plain Greek yogurt to spread it a bit further (roughly 1:1 ratios).  The flavor is still rich in avocado taste but higher in protein and lower in fat content for more volume.

 

Evening Snack

I still mentally enjoy a snack after dinner.  I get great questions about what time frame is too late to eat.  It is really a loaded question and depends on your normal schedule, meal size and type of food making up the snack or meal.  Late evening meals of indulgent proportions that are not nutrient dense are vastly different in effect than consuming a nutrient dense, small portioned meal prior to bed.  Research suggests that there may be positive effects for eating meals closer to bedtime as well.

 

I personally try to leave my digestive system to rest for 12 hours a day and typically try to finish my last snack before 7 to 8 pm and don’t eat breakfast until 7 to 8 the following morning.

 

I had just made fresh Cashew pecan butter the day before so I saved for some of it as a treat during the day.  I topped it with a few Enjoy Life Chips and boom…I was completely content!

 

Want To Download My Costco Shopping List?

Click HERE to download it now!

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Client Success Story: The Warrior

Client: The Warrior

Age: 42

Timeline: 12 Weeks

 

Confidence is one of the most powerful tools in our personal “self toolbox.”  It can push us to do extraordinary things and it can tear us down into a million pieces.  When we lose our sense of self through a major life event it’s extremely difficult to get it back.

Nutrition is more than scale weight and before and after pictures.

It’s about rediscovering the confidence you have inside so that it shines on the outside.  This week’s client success story faced a battle that so many women face today. She did it with strength and grace but not without struggle.  The amazing part is that she dug deep, invested in herself when it was behind her and now feels (and looks) the best she ever has.

 

Here is her story:

“One of the biggest things cancer does is strip you of feeling like yourself.  It wrestles you into becoming less of you and more of it.  It tries to diminish who you strive to be and it leaves you feeling beaten up, tired and worn.

About this time last year I was feeling pretty good and doing well.  I was probably the fittest I had ever been, having committed to clean eating and CrossFit.  We had just returned from watching some of the fittest people on the planet compete at the 2016 CrossFit Games.  Not even a week later I felt a big hard lump in my breast and well, the rest is sort of a blur.

Mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, xrays, MRI, and doctor appointment after doctor appointment.  Cancer quickly becomes a full time job.  Two surgeries followed by mandatory 8 weeks recovery after each one  left me with a very sedentary life especially compared to what it had been.

When I was finally able to work out again I found I had zero energy.  I can remember on multiple occasions having to sit out half way through the workout.  That had never happened to me before, not even when I was a CrossFit newbie.  Scale the workout-yes.  Sit out- no way.  I was heavier than I’ve ever been and had lost most of my muscle definition.

As much as I tried on my own, I could not get my body to let go of even a single pound.  My body had been through a trauma and it was not cooperating with me any longer. My fitness was a priority to me and I was not about to let cancer take that from me.

So at the end of my rope, I contacted Amanda.  And she began to work her magic!  She knew my metabolism needed reset, she knew I wanted to lose weight, and she knew it was important for me to have the energy and stamina to get through my workouts to rebuild my strength and cardio.  And she helped me achieve all those goals, in an amazingly short amount of time!

She always told me what to expect in the coming week so I never had to worry that things weren’t headed in the right direction.   She always encouraged me and made me feel like I was succeeding.  And above all, she always set the example with her own nutrition.  It truly felt like she would just send me a magic formula and if I followed it my goals were met.

Yes, I dropped over 15 pounds!  But honestly even more satisfying than that was the way my body composition changed.  Every week I saw significant change in how my body felt at the gym, how it looked in the mirror, and how my clothes fit- even on weeks when the scale didn’t move.  I felt like myself again and that has been huge for someone who at times wondered if I would always feel broken.

This hasn’t been a diet, it’s been a life change.  I no longer eat mindlessly or out of boredom.  I don’t make excuses that it’s okay if I overeat just because the foods I’m choosing to indulge in are “healthy and clean”.  I no longer expect my body to perform when I have not provided it with the proper fuel.  I see food and my nutrition as I should- a way to eat a balanced diet in order to live the life I want.  I still eat delicious food and a lot of it.

Honestly, I’m eating more calories than I ever have.  Ask my family how many times I say, “Look how much food I get to eat!”.  But I understand now the relationship between what I put in my body to get the results I want- whether that’s weight loss or more energy or achieving my goals in the gym.  I even succeeded in not gaining any weight on my vacation at the beach!  How often does that happen?  No vacation guilt or regret, and yes, I fit some treats in too.  It feels good to eat good!

It’s been about 12 weeks since I started tracking my macros with Amanda.  I reached my original weight loss goal in about 7 weeks and set a new goal after that!  In a few weeks I will be turning 43 and shortly after that I’ll be celebrating one year cancer free.

I can honestly say I am living my life as my best self.  I feel like I have my feet under me again, and I’m so excited to see where this leads me next.  I am healthier, leaner and stronger than I was even before my diagnosis, and for that I am incredibly grateful. “

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

5 Reasons Sprouted Bread Is Better (And Back To School Sandwich Ideas)

5 Reasons You Should Switch To Sprouted Bread

 

The great carb debate is never ending and poor bread gets a major bad rap.

But like all things–education and quality are key.

 

I remember growing up watching Iron Kids bread commercials and trying to desperately convince my mom that I needed it.  The power of advertising and targeting kids is strong.  What I have realized as a nutrition coach is that adults are really no different.

 

Although I keep a gluten-free diet, my family does not. I don’t keep our house 100% gluten free for several reasons.  The biggest reason is that I don’t want to force a sensitivity upon them by never exposing them to gluten.  I want them to be able to grow up and have a cupcake at a birthday party or a snack at school without being too afraid to eat it.  I do limit their exposure and select items that limit their need to digest that.  Sprouted bread being one of them.

 

Traditional Breads

Both white and wheat breads are made from the berry of a wheat plant.  Whole grain bread is derived from the entire plant (endosperm, bran and the germ) while other breads are made from only the endosperm (the starchy middle).  In both cases, the portion of the plant is ground into flour and combined with other ingredients to yield bread.

 

Because the grains used to create bread are highly processed into flour that makes them more readily broken down in the digestive track and then absorbed into the bloodstream.  When carbohydrates are quickly absorbed into the digestive tract this may cause a spike in insulin response thus making it a much higher on the glycemic index.

 

What is Sprouted Bread?

To create sprouted bread, the whole grain is soaked until germination which causes the release of enzymes that break down both carbohydrates and protein.

Why Is Sprouted Bread Better?

1. Easier Digestion

The interesting thing about sprouting grains is that it jump starts the digestion of proteins within the grain.  These proteins include things like gluten which makes sprouted breads much easier on the digestive track for those that have sensitivity to gluten.

2. Nutrients Are More Available

The problem with regular highly processed bread is that it contains phytic acid, sometimes referred to as the “anti-nutrient.” Phytic acid keeps the nutrients within the bread locked up and unavailable for absorption.  By soaking grains and allowing them to sprout before consumption the Phytic acid content is reduced and makes the nutrients more readily available for absorption.

In addition when grains becomes highly processed, nutrients are lost in translation.  The less processed the bread then the greater the nutrient availability.

3. Increased Accessibility To Fiber

Studies show that when grains are sprouted the fiber content of the plant tissue (like cellulose) is increased.  Bonus for us is that the outcome is a fiber rich product.  Sprouted breads then provide a higher fiber source option.

 4. Lower on the Gl

Sprouted bread also ranks lower on the glycemic index, a scale used to rank a carbohydrates impact on blood glucose levels.  Foods lower on the GI don’t impact blood sugar levels as much as those carbohydrates that have a high GI ranking.  Consuming foods with a lower GI help to maintain more steady blood glucose levels which offer a slew of health benefits including hormone and insulin balance.

5. Improved Macro Nutrient Profile

As mentioned above, because the grains are sprouted their protein access increases and carbohydrate content slightly decreases. Because of that, the macro nutrient profile becomes even better.

 

How Do You Know If The Bread Is Sprouted?

Buyer beware of sneaky marketing to make you think what you are buying is sprouted when it really isn’t.  Read the ingredient profile and look for them to be listed as “sprouted.”  Two of the most popular and accessible are Dave’s Killer Bread (this is one you can buy at Costco and is on my Costco shopping list.” And the very popular Ezekiel Bread.

Application To Other Grains

Sprouting grains isn’t just a benefit in bread, but can also be captured in other grains we eat as well. There is a list of intriguing research that shows the value of sprouting grains before consumption.

Sample Sandwiches For Back To School

With kids headed back to school, healthy lunch options are at the forefront of parents’ minds.  The sandwich is an easy kid approved option.  I challenge you to up the health game of that sandwich this school year and years forward.

My kids and I came together to create some awesome sandwich options that they have tested and love.  All of which are on sprouted bread.  To add a little kid fanciness we used a Pampered Chef Cut and Seal for an uncrusted look that makes this healthy option even more “kid cool.”

 

Sprouted Bread Kid Approved Sandwich Options

I let my kids be the chefs of their lunches often in the kitchen.  Involvement equals buy-in.  They are the creative minds behind all of the following filling ideas that are placed within two slices of sprouted bread.  We’ve also used our awesome LunchBots stainless steal containers for years for easy lunch packing.  The reusable  snack and sandwich pouches pictured above are handmade in the Phoenix Area by Chic Baby Creations.

 

Peanut butter, Apple and Honey

Simple Variations:

Sunbutter and Honey

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Almond Butter and Berries

Peanut Butter Banana

 

 

 

 

Hummus and “Cucs”

Simple Variations:

Hummus and Carrots

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ham and Salami

(or other high quality deli meat of choice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even more cool is you can prep several of this sandwiches ahead of time and store them in the fridge or freeze ahead.

 

 

There are a zillion nutrition books about the health of grains all of which share conflicting perspective and research.  My opinion is that moderation and quality are key.  Finding balance in your intake, and that of your children, is a priceless skill.

Looking for my more macro friendly recipes?

Click HERE to down load my Free Recipe book!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Macro Tracking: A Skill Set For Long Term Success

Macro Nutrition As A Skill Set

 

If you have been remotely dabbling in the nutritional world you know that macro nutrition is trending.  Has been and still is.  And there is a reason…it is effective.

 

Over the last few months I have had several clients that have joined my roster after dumping hundreds (even thousands) of dollars a month into weight loss clinics that offer a “get skinny quick” approach to nutrition.

 

These clinics offer a pill, a wrap or a shot paired with a hugely restricted calorie diet to provide clients with fast weight loss.

 

And many times…it works…for a hot second.  Then these clients head out into the real world, surrounded by food, family and friends and the weight comes right back on…in a hot second.

 

Why?

Because they never truly learned from the experience.  They didn’t invest in acquiring any skills to help them gain food awareness, learn balance or the use of a “food budget.”  They were never taught how to live around food and find balance in doing so.

 

Tracking your macros is not meant to be a “get skinny quick” approach to eating.  Instead it is the development of a skill set that helps you identify how to fuel your body and life among food.

 

Macro versus Micro-Nutrition

We all “do macros.”  No matter what nutritional lifestyle you live you eat food filled with carbohydrates, fats and proteins so thus, you eat macro nutrients.

 

The focus of identifying a macro nutrient ratio that works for you is the goal of tracking macros.  The body loves to maintain homeostasis.  When you provide it with the same consistent food stimulus and maintain a level caloric intake, it rewards you.  Consistency breeds progress.

 

In addition, micro nutrients are a large piece of the overall health component too.  It is often the forgotten piece of the health puzzle.  It’s one I’ve grown passionate about pushing because it is all too often overlooked.

Looking for some simple REAL FOOD recipes?

Click to download my FREE recipe e-book!

Just because you can “slay” your macro counts doesn’t mean that you are slaying your micros.  Micro nutrients are things like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that maintain so much of the body’s overall health.  We get our micros from our macros.  Which implies that macro nutrient quality does matter.  Without a diet rich in whole foods, there will be micro nutrient deficiency.

 

You Can’t “Diet” Forever

There is a general misconception that tracking your macros means you will live with your head buried in your phone for the rest of your life.  That you will be “stuck” using the MyFitnessPal app for for-evaaa (PS-you can download my secret tipe for MyFitnessPal HERE).

WRONG! (insert buzzard noise here)

For some who thrive on accountability you just might.  And if that works for you I say “heck yes”.

 

But for others that isn’t sustainable.  What is sustainable is investing time in learning to understand macro nutrient value and portion size by weighing and measuring to acquire the skills necessary to begin to eyeball the portions your body needs to maintain your goals. Day-to-day practice becomes habit and may help you eat intuitively down the road.

 

Why It Works

When 2 out of every 3 adults are considered to be “obese” in the U.S. then clearly there is a misunderstanding in the energy balance needs of our bodies.

 

There is no “magic” behind tracking macros (although many of my clients would disagree…lol).  The “magic” is a scientific approach to fueling your body with the right quantity of fuel for your goals.  It is creating a caloric deficit or surplus, driven by goals, and having such great food awareness that you have the power to shift in whichever direction you want and need.   Beyond that, it is day-to-day consistency that yields progress.

 

Macro tracking is effective because there is not an “off limits” food list.  In fact the learning curve when you begin tracking macros is HUGE because most clients realize that junk food consumes a majority of their daily macro budget if they eat it.  The more whole, real foods you consume the more food you have to enjoy in a day.

 

Over Restriction Breeds Non-compliance

I’ve been there.  I followed a strict Paleo approach to eating for years after I discovered I had gluten sensitivity.  There was so much value in that experience, including the knowledge I gained in food quality and awareness.

 

The problem was that it restricted so many foods.  When I had a desperate craving for something that wasn’t  on the list of approved foods I would have a non-Paleo bender of tortilla chips, hummus, and gluten-free pizza.  My caloric intake quadrupled over a weekend and then I wondered why I was constantly starting over on Monday.

 

Once I discovered a balanced approach to eating I found myself consuming more real-foods, heavy on micro nutrients, than ever.

Why?

Because I wasn’t tempted by restriction and found a balanced way to have a small bit of something I really looked forward to each day and my cravings faded.

 

What’s even more amazing is I crave those foods less because they aren’t “off-limits” and I don’t feel the pressure to deny myself.  It’s kind of like when your parents tell you can’t date the “bad boy” when you are a teenager.  The more they say no the more desperate you become to find the “Danny Zuko” of your school and make it official. (shameless Grease plug…I was obsessed with that movie growing up.)

Goals For My Clients

I strive to teach my clients balance with a focus of three main goals I hope for them to achieve:

 

Goal #1: Adopt the 90/10 Rule

90% whole, read foods with that leftover 10% being something you love.  That 10% allows you maintain the other 90%.

 

Goal #2: Focus on longevity.  

Although you might have a short term goal you are head strong in achieving the end result is for client to fly solo in their nutritional journey when they are ready.  If they restrict themselves to no chocolate, no bread, no “insert your favorite guilty pleasure here” then there is no longevity.

 

Finding balance in being successful in social gatherings and eating out is part of longevity.  Learning to approach those situations with purpose and a plan is a lifelong skill with great value.

 

Goal #3: Practice makes progress, not perfection.

I know it’s a total cliché but it’s true.

 

Just like a sport you have to practice to become successful.  If you want to be a better 3-Point shooter you must practice shooting 3-pointers often.

 

Similarly, if you want to learn how to eat in the “real world” to achieve your goals you must practice and expose yourself to situations where those skills are put to the test.  You must prove to yourself you have the skill set necessary to move through life and maintain your goals.

 

Invest in learning about the tools that will make you successful for life.  No thirty day crash diet filled with complete restriction and appetite suppressants will teach you how to learn to eat real food.  Slow, steady progress is still that…PROGRESS.

 

It’s Not For Everybody

I get it 100%. Tracking macro nutrient intake may not be for you.

 

What is for you is learning the skills necessary to maneuver through life with balance.  Learning to fill your plate with a handful of lean protein and carbs and lots of veggies isn’t intuitive for everyone.  Invest in learning to make your health a priority in a way that is sustainable for you.

 

I did.  And it has made all the difference.

 

Looking for my more macro friendly recipes?

Click HERE to down load my Free Recipe book!

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Guest On The Money Peach Podcast

Money Peach Podcast

I was extremely reluctant to take my business to social media.  Then I realized–if I don’t, I will never provide the value I am capable of.

 

I was also nervous to be on my friend Money Peach‘s podcast.  I finally decided that it was time and I am so glad I did.

 

Take a listen to his podcast (he is awesome at what he does) and hear more about my story to now.