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Why You Should Set Light Pole Goals

light pole goals

I’ve always been intrigued by human behavior.  

Why is it that some people are successful and others are not?  What do people who find and maintain success have in common? I knew there is a strong connection between their day to day habits and the success that follows. 

In fact, I know it is not just ONE thing, but a multitude of factors that separate those who get stuck along their journey and those that never do.

As a coach, I am constantly digging into this question to help each of my clients be more successful.

Goal creation

When we want something, we create a goal. The imagery of a finish line comes to mind when I think of a “goal.” In fact, that is just what it is. It is recognizing that we are at the start of a race or journey and on a mission to get to the end as fast as possible.

I grew up being told to focus on my goals. If you want to be successful, you must have a goal.  In business, the pressure is on even more constant. I can see and feel what I want, but I often feel so overwhelmed about how to get there that I just want to quit.  

The sinking feeling of being “stuck” thinking about where I am and what it will be like to finally get “there” (wherever “there” really is).

Why focusing on the finish line isn’t the best approach

Here is the irony — when we focus on only one main goal, we actually do ourselves a disservice. Research shows that when we keep creating imagery and intention towards the finish line only that our brain actually releases dopamine to certain parts of the brain.  

What is dopamine? Dopamine is the chemical messenger that makes us happy, it tells us we’ve accomplished something and makes us feel good.

But wait…Have we even accomplished that actual goal yet?

This is where the big teachable moment steps in.

What I am telling you is that when we think about only where we want to go, the finish line, the body actually makes us feel as though we ’ve already accomplished that goal and congratulates us before we even get there.  

Isn’t that a good thing? Well… kind of.

Sometimes, if we don’t have that continued “happy braindance” it becomes a false sense of accomplishment. We lose motivation, we start to forget our “why” and we get frustrated and lose hope.

So how can we correct this?

By spending less time focusing on the start and finish lines, and more time focusing on the journey — the middle!

In fact, in a study done by Vanderbilt University, they looked into the chemical messengers present in the brain between a group of “successful” individuals and a group of “slackers,” (this made me chuckle). What they found was phenomenal. The successful and motivated group had a much higher presence of dopamine in the area of the brain impacting motivation and the “go-getter” spirit.

Light pole goals

When I first began running, I sucked at it! Like, I could barely run a mile. Not being able to run a whole mile made me want to just quit. It felt miserable, and I felt like I looked like an elephant trying to be graceful.

When I would head out for a run, I would start thinking about what the end of the run would look and feel like for me. Often times though, I found myself less motivated the more I thought about the end.

It wasn’t until I was out for a run one day with my dad and he shifted my thinking. As I began to slow down and he could sense my desire to quit, he said; “Amanda, just look at the next light pole. Run to that one and then find the next.”

And I did (because parents are just always right).

In fact, I did that from there on out when I went running. I kept looking for each light pole that helped me feel accomplished. Because of that, I never even thought about the finish. The end even crept up on me and I would end up almost surprised at how easy it actually was. Each light pole seemed to re-energize my mind, my body, and it reaffirmed to me that I could do it!

What are light pole goals?

It’s actually easier to focus on the end than the middle. I think that’s why so many of us do it.  The middle is messy and doesn’t always have a clear path to the end. So we avoid it and decide to just “wing it.”

The reality is though, that we need to set more light pole goals to be successful on our journey.  We have to set small milestones to lead to big ones because each success is an affirmation of a much bigger picture.

Think of these light pole goals examples:

  • The boy scouts award a patch for each success before the big promotion to the next level.  
  • A baby learns a new word or two each week or month before they speak in sentences.
  • You declutter one room of your house each week, and before you know it, the whole house has been decluttered.
  • You lose one pound, and it gets you one step closer to your happy weight.

Each small passing of a light pole goal creates that little rush of dopamine that encourages us to continue on the path we are after. It’s a small bit of added sweet sauce that we can actually get what we want!  Hello…our bodies are actually wired for success.

The brain wants you to crush your goals and live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.

Overcome stagnation

We often have our own misunderstandings of plateaus. We get to places where we feel stagnant because we are confused on how to get to the finish line.

To overcome the feeling of stagnation, the most simple thing you can do is think about the next light pole.

If you are on a mission to lose 25 pounds and are feeling stuck, set one intention for that week that is going to help get you there. Perhaps it is something as simple as grocery shopping, creating a dinner plan, incorporating one more serving of veggies in dinner, or moving your body for three days a week. At the end of the week, you can pass that light pole with confidence and move to your next. Ten light poles later and you’ll notice that you are closer to the finish line.

Breaking down information into manageable chunks is crucial to survival and success.

Keep it quiet

The other reason some people kick A$$ and some don’t is because they share too much. A study was done in 2009 actually shows that when we keep our goals to ourselves, we are far more successful.

When you set both finish line and light pole goals, keep them in that pretty little head of yours.

Unless of course you thrive sharing on social media and it creates a greater sense of accountability.  Figure out what works for you best through trial and error.

In the end, what makes a person successful?

A person’s ability to keep surpassing light pole goals instead of putting all their energy into the finish line makes them successful.

Steve Jobs did not build the iMac of today without creating small tasks and light pole goals along the way.

Oprah did not build her empire overnight, but rather in small steps over years and years.

Our children do not shoot into adulthood without small spurts of learning along with their journey.

It is unreasonable to expect ourselves to get to a finish line without looking out for small light poles that will continually propel our energy forward.

No success comes without taking small steps and building small pieces to create a much bigger end product. Small steps create major miracles.

Our bodies were created to create constant positive energy and momentum in ourselves. However, many factors have influenced that natural design.

We are often derailed by fast-paced culture, comparison, and a lack of focus on health.

You must continue to create long-term goals for yourself but never overlook the importance of passing each lightpole along your way!

What are some light pole goals you can set for yourself?

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

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Hemp Seeds vs Chia Seeds

hemp seeds vs. chia seeds

I try hard to make my kids active in their nutrition. We have a constant dialogue about food choices so that I don’t feel like the dictator of what goes into their mouth.

One way I like to allow them to be active in their health is by creating opportunities for them to self-select healthy options. I have organized my pantry in such a way that they can build their own morning oatmeal, trail mixes, and grab healthy snacks that are focused at their eye level. As they open the pantry, mason jars are filled with healthy nuts and seeds to give them the freedom to make healthy choices.

Seeds have been enjoyed for a long time. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all very popular seeds that have likely been a part of your diet. But a few seeds are gaining popularity and are merging as the lead stars: chia seed and hemp seeds. I am sure you have heard of them, and you’ve probably seen both of them at your local grocery store.

These seeds actually have been consumed for hundreds of years, but now they are quickly growing in popularity and for good reason. Let’s take a look at these two super seeds. We will dive into what they are, why they are “super” and how you can add them to your daily diet.  

What are these super seeds?

First off…what are seeds? By definition, they are a plant’s unit of reproduction. They come in many different shapes and sizes. Seeds can be eaten in many different ways including raw or toasted. Seeds can also be pressed to extract the oil. It is important to note that many seeds are sensitive to heat and should be kept in the refrigerator to prevent going rancid and help extend their shelf life. When not kept cold it is best to keep them out of the sunlight. Keep them contained in covered glass containers or well-sealed bags.

Chia seeds

For many of you, the first thing you may think when you see the word chia are chia pets. Remember those cute clay pets you covered in seeds and they grew to be green plants? Yep, those are the same seeds. However, instead of just watching them grow on a clay animal, many people are now adding them to their diet. They are very tiny little seeds and should be black or white in color.  

Chia seeds were originally grown in Central America, and they’re actually a member of the mint family.  Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them energy and endurance. The warriors simply added chia seeds to water or ate them plain to help keep them full for long periods of time. Chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamin, and minerals. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 6 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of “good” for you fat. They also contain a whopping 10 grams of filling fiber which can help keep the hunger away. In addition, they contain calcium, potassium, iron, and much more.   

Benefits

Chia seeds have been known to have a long list of health benefits. Due to their high level of antioxidants, they can help reduce signs of aging and keep your skin looking great. They have two times the number of antioxidants as blueberries! The fiber helps keep your digestive tract in check and keeps your heart healthy. Packed with calcium, chia seeds will keep your bones strong, and the plant-based protein will help build muscles. Plant-based protein is protein sourced from non-animal products. The omega-3 fatty acids help raise “good” HDL cholesterol which protects against heart disease and stroke.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are another nutritional powerhouse. Now, hemp seeds aren’t quite as popular as chia seeds, but are quickly catching up. Let’s go ahead and clear up any curiosity out of the gate — hemp seeds do not have any psychotropic effects. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant, however, it contains such a slight level of THC that it will not get you high.  

These little seeds deliver a lot of nutritional benefits and are a great addition to your diet. Most hemp that we consume in the United States is grown in Canada. The great thing about the hemp plant is that it requires almost no pesticides or herbicides so it is considered a sustainable product which means it is good for the earth (and less junk for you).   

Benefits

Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are just what they say they are…the seeds of the hemp plant.  Hemp plants grow popcorn kernel sized hard seeds. Inside these seeds lie the white or green inner kernels know as hemp seeds. You cannot get any nutrition from the hard outer shells so what you are purchasing are those inner kernels filled with lots of nutritional goodness.

They have great nutrition stats with 2 tablespoons coming in at a little over 6 grams of protein, about 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams fats containing both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats have been linked to helping those with skin conditions such as eczema. Not to mention, both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water and gets absorbed by your body. However, insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved and passes through the body intact. This type of fiber helps gently clean out your digestive tract.

There are many other benefits to consuming hemp seeds including containing minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Due to their high levels of amino acids they may reduce the risk of heart disease. They have also been shown to lower symptoms of PMS and menopause.

Hemp seeds vs. chia seeds, which one do I eat?

Both hemp seeds and chia seeds are gluten free and vegan for those following specific diet guidelines and both seeds contain about 6 grams of plant-based protein per two tablespoons. As mentioned earlier, plant-based protein is a protein that comes from non-animal sources and is popular for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.  

The protein they contain is considered a complete protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein and nine of them cannot be produced by the body which are called essential amino acids.

To be considered a complete protein the food must contain all nine of these amino acids in relatively even amounts. Since both chia seeds and hemp seeds contain complete protein, they are an excellent plant-based source.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are very versatile and can be consumed in many different ways. The nice thing about chia seeds is they really don’t have much flavor. They won’t impact the taste of what you add them to.  You can grind them into a powder or consume them whole. Some even just add them to water and drink up. You can sprinkle them onto whatever you are eating for a nutritional boost.  

Another really interesting thing about chia seeds is they absorb liquid and can hold almost 10 times their weight in fluids. If you put them in liquid they will form a gel-like substance. Many vegan baked goods replace eggs with chia seeds soaked in water called a chia egg. That absorption acts like a binder similar to how eggs act.

You can also make chia seed pudding which is very popular. This is made by adding chia seeds to a liquid, usually cow or plant-based milk, and letting it sit overnight. The result in the morning is a pudding-like consistency packed with nutrition.

Being real honest…my husband loves the texture of chia puddings, but me, not so much.  That same absorption rate makes chia seeds a great thickener for oatmeal, smoothies or even salad dressings. Here are a few recipes ideas if you want to try out chia seeds.

Chia Seed Recipes

Chocolate Chip Chia Seed Granola Bars

Chia Pudding

Five Minute Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

Chia Seed Pizza Crust

Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

Hemp Seeds

Ok so now you have chia seeds down it is time to move on to how you enjoy hemp seeds. Hemp seeds have more flavor than chia seeds. They have been described as having a slightly nutty or grassy flavor and many say they taste like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut.

Hemp seeds can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, leaving behind a powdery byproduct that can be used as a hemp-based protein powder. The oil is very delicate and is best used as a finishing oil rather than for cooking. So it would be great to drizzle over pasta or used in salad dressings.

Hemp seeds can also be blended with water to make hemp milk which is a great plant-based non-dairy beverage option.

However, the more common way to consume hemp seeds is as the whole seed or hemp hearts as they are commonly referred to as. They can be eaten raw or dry-toasted to bring out even more of the nutty taste. Hemp seeds are a great addition to sprinkle on foods like yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, and even salads.  They easily blend into your favorite smoothie recipe.

For those with who want to avoid gluten-containing breadcrumbs, they can be used as a breadcrumb substitute to coat chicken or fish.

Here are a few recipes to get you started with adding hemp seeds to your diet.

Hemp Seed Recipes

Hemp Seed Pesto

Low Carb Cauliflower Breadsticks With Garlic Butter and Hemp Seeds

Chocolate Hemp Overnight Oatmeal Smoothie

DIY Hemp Milk

Hemp Seed Crusted Baked Cod

Are you looking for a super seed double whammy? Check out these recipes that combine both chia seeds and hemp seeds for maximum nutrition!

Chia Seed & Hemp Seed Recipes

Feel Good Superfood Grain Bowl

Grain Free Hemp Seed Breakfast Cookies

Clean Eating No-Bake Raw Hemp and Chia Seed Bars

Super Healthy Broccoli Salad

Chocolate Superfood Energy Balls

Ultimate Superfood Breakfast Bars

Hemp and chia seeds are becoming nutritional superstars for good reason. Take a step outside of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to experiment and add these into your diet.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy hemp or chia seeds?

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

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Do you suffer from squirrel syndrome?

squirrel syndrome

In my first few years as a business owner, I struggled with the constant urge to find the next best idea to grow my business.

Creative inspiration would hit (and by that, I mean I had many) and I’d immediately go ALL IN and begin to work on it. I’d speed through its creation, put it into the online space, and expect immediate results.

The moment I didn’t, I’d chase another big idea with the same outcome each time…disappointment and a lack of results.

I did this many, many times until finally, I realized I was suffering from the exact same thing many of my clients do their entire life: “Squirrel syndrome.”

Now, I was surrounded by my powerhouse entrepreneur friends. I followed uber successful online business bosses. I thought if I just kept trying something new that I would have to see results just like them, right?

Yep…I preach consistency above everything to create sustainable results in health, yet I was guilty of wanting a “get successful quick” approach time after time. #ohtheirony

It didn’t work.

You can learn more about 5 Food Fails that sabotage women and how to nip them in the butt in my FREE webinar here.

Do you suffer from the same?

One of the greatest struggles I have witnessed as a nutrition coach isn’t overconsumption of Mickey D’s or eating too many Reese’s. It’s actually something much greater than that.

I work with clients all the time who have suffered a life dominated by squirrel syndrome. In fact, you might be reading this and realizing this has been you and you didn’t even know it.

What Is Squirrel Syndrome?

It’s called “squirrel syndrome” for a reason.

It’s the constant quest to find the next “best” thing.

Like drinking Slim Fast shakes for 30 days, losing weight, gaining it back and then taking…

HCG shots for 30 days and losing weight, gaining it back and then doing…

Keto for 30 days and losing weight, gaining it back and then doing…

Whole 30 for 30 days and losing weight, gaining it back and then doing…

A 30-day cleanse and losing weight, gaining it back and…

I think you get the idea!

It’s the notion that you are constantly looking for the next magic outcome, the next best quick fix approach.

Each time you get excited for quick weight loss, only to find that the approach is not sustainable one single bit. In fact, all the weight you lost comes back and then some.

Why are you a squirrel?

If this sounds familiar, you my friend, maybe the squirrel.

There is so much noise in the health and nutrition space that there is a perception that there is a magic solution to weight loss and feeling healthy. The success of those around you makes it seem that they get there quickly and that you too can have the same overnight.

Every nutrition guru has their answer and Instagram is flooded with lots of know-it-alls.

You want immediate results and instant gratification and they seem to have the answer. Naturally, you fall in line and give it a go — again.

At first, it seems AMAZING. You see results on the scale and in the mirror. That will hold your attention for a short-term until you realize that a world outside the restrictive fad approach exists and you want to live in it.

Chocolate, pizza, burgers, and wine exist and are meant to be enjoyed (in balance).

You can learn more about Squirrel syndrome and 4 other mistakes women are always making in their relationships with food in my FREE webinar.

Overcome Black and White Thinking

Your health journey is not black or white. Food is not “good or bad.” Instead, you must learn to live in the grey.

Life happens and things get messy. This I know! To navigate your thinking,  you must shift into learning how to operate when times aren’t perfect. This is when quick fixes get exposed and reveal their lack of flexibility and sustainability.

Stop Chasing Nuts

Nothing will change if you continue to chase the next big thing.

Your good old friend Jane who swears she has the magic answer to weight loss every month and hasn’t really lost a pound…ignore her.

It’s time to invest in a long-term strategy and start focusing on the real magic: consistency.

The truth is, it ain’t easy!

It’s the mundane day to day work that brings about sustainable change.

The best analogy I share is a river. It’s literally the most perfect example of how powerful consistency can be.

If you’ve ever doubted what consistent effort over time looks like, just look at a river. It is the epitome of consistency.

The constant power of the water carves through layers and layers of rock, over thousands of years, slow and steady creating canyons.

It never waivers.

The river puts in the work, day after day, no matter what life throws its way. It may slow down or speed up, but it never trades short-term intensity (or a quick fix) for the long-term gain.

This is where change happens. In the mundane, day to day work, we do to create habits that drive the outcome we want.

If that river can create that amazing change, so can you, my friend.

Less Is Not More

The squirrel rears its head because you’ve learned over time, through media and culture, that less is more. It’s ingrained in your mind that dieting is the answer and that each new diet will be the one you’ve been chasing.

It’s a paradigm shift to think that possibly eating more could drive weight loss. Wait, huh?

Paint A Realistic Picture

This is not about painting an unrealistic picture of skinny supermodels. Nope, no way!

If you want to truly change your life you must be realistic about what the true focus should be and what you really want out of life.

It’s about living the FULLEST life possible — to operate as humans should, and live out your full potential. It’s about knowing that the hard work you are putting in is paying off. That doesn’t come from jumping from one new thing to the next. It comes by abandoning all the quick fixes and investing in SELF!

What I Learned As A Coach

After working with women for years a theme began to emerge.

They come to me wanting to work on “food.”  

But it’s never really about the food, is it?

Food is just the vessel for deeper work. I teach this to my clients all the time and this is the focus of my free webinar.

It made me realize even more that what my clients show up wanting is never really what they need.

The food gives us a springboard into all the other things that need to be done on the inside to truly feel amazing naked on the outside.

Yes…I said naked. No woman would deny that this is a feeling they long for. To be so confident that they feel amazing naked.

But chasing squirrels is not going to get you there. You must be willing to combine inside work to feel amazing on the outside. It’s a combination of food and mindset that allows you to escape the quick fix trap of chasing squirrels.

I Feel Amazing Naked

For the first time in my life, I feel amazing naked. Like I am totally okay with walking around my house naked.

You might be quickly passing judgment, “She’s so vain. Why is she sharing this publicly.”

Being super transparent, it was never really that way. Even when I was at my thinnest, I didn’t feel that way.

I was critical, filled with negative self-talk and sucked into the trap of comparison. I am not at my lowest weight right now, and I feel the best I ever have. I feel fit and healthy on the outside but the confidence came when I began to do deeper work on the inside. When my clients do the same, it shows in so many ways.

I want more women to have that feeling.

It won’t be easy, this I know, but I am 100% up for the challenge.

Overcoming Squirrel Syndrome

To truly say goodbye to squirrel syndrome, you must be willing to do the dirty work and combine food, mindset, science, and self-work to invest in yourself.

Why?

Because you deserve to finally find something that lasts!

This very reason is why I created my passion project and am on a mission to help more women overcome a life of fad diets, negative self-talk, and learn to treat their body and mind like it was designed to be treated.

When you start to do the inside work, it will show on the outside.

I want you to join me in my FREE webinar where I talk about the 5 Food Fails that sabotage women and how to nip them in the butt.

Are you guilty of squirrel syndrome?  I’d love to hear your experience below!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

In case you missed it, sign up for my free webinar HERE.

 

 

 

 

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Coconut Sugar versus Brown Sugar

Coconut Sugar verses Brown Sugar

Every Thanksgiving I make my own version of the infamous “Ruth Chris Sweet Potato Casserole”. If you’ve never had the real deal…holy heck, it’s amazing (and loaded with calories). I had it once and from then on out was determined from then to recreate in my own fashion.

So I do…one time a year.

Everyone at Thanksgiving dinner swoons over the dish and it is devoured.

What they don’t know is that each year I make the recipe with coconut sugar instead of the brown sugar the recipe calls for. Are you probably saying to yourself “sugar is sugar” and isn’t all sugar bad for you?

Is coconut sugar a better option? What’s the big deal on coconut sugar versus brown sugar?

In this post, I will share more about the differences between coconut sugar versus brown sugar including the nutritional benefits, uses, and recipe swaps.

Sugars By Name

As if the health factor of sugars isn’t hard enough to weed through, sugars have multiple names.

Brown sugar can go by many different names including light or dark brown sugar, demerara sugar, muscovado sugar, turbinado sugar and free-flowing brown sugar.

Coconut sugar can also be known as coco sugar, coconut palm sugar, coco sap sugar and coconut blossom sugar. Coconut sugar can come in a granular form or is also available in a liquid form similar to agave syrup, honey or maple syrup.

Where Do They Come From?

Perhaps one of the biggest differences in brown sugar versus coconut sugar is the origin. Your run of the mill conventional brown sugar you purchase at the grocery store is actually just refined white sugar with sugarcane molasses added in (shocking, right?!).

That is what gives it the brown color. White sugar is highly refined and is made from sugarcane and sugar beets. Refined means that it has gone through a chemical process that removed impurities and can possibly remove beneficial nutrients.

Brown sugar can contain up to 10% molasses. 4.5% molasses is considered light brown sugar and 6.5% plus is considered dark brown sugar. Processing sugar increases chemical additives and dyes to change the consistency and appearance.

Coconut Sugar Verses Brown Sugar

Coconut Sugar Creation

Coconut sugar is made by a two-step process and can come in crystal or granule form, block or liquid. It is made by cutting the flower of a coconut palm and collecting the liquid sap. The sap is placed in large woks over moderate heat until most of the water is evaporated. The brown color is mostly due to caramelization.

Coconut sugar can also be considered a more sustainable product, therefore, it is considered better for the earth. Due to the minimal processing, coconut sugar uses less water and fuel when it’s being made.

When purchasing coconut sugar, make sure to check the ingredient labels to ensure you are getting a pure product and that it doesn’t contain cane sugar to help reduce the overall cost of the product.

Learning to read ingredient labels to confirm what additives are in your favorite brands helps increase food awareness and forces you to steer towards an organic brand which may be of higher quality.

Coconut Sugar Versus Brown Sugar Nutritional Comparison

When you compare the nutritional facts of one tablespoon of coconut sugar versus brown sugar, they both have about 4 grams of carbohydrates in the form of sugars. That is about 16 calories per tablespoon.

But if you dive a little deeper into nutrition you will see that due to the added molasses, brown sugar contains calcium, iron, copper, potassium phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium.

Coconut sugar naturally contains vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. Coconut sugar also contains inulin which is a type of dietary fiber.  Inulin acts as a prebiotic which nourishes the good bacteria already in your gut.

What Are They Made Of?

Generally, brown sugar is made of 95% sucrose and 5% molasses.  Sucrose (white table sugar) is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Coconut sugar is 70% sucrose and the rest is made up of individual molecules of fructose and glucose. So basically they are made up of the same molecules. Both are sugar.

How Does That Affect My Body?

In a study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute aiming to assess the glycemic index of sugar, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than brown sugar. This means coconut sugar increases blood glucose levels at a slower rate. This can be especially important to monitor if you have diabetes.

However, these findings have been inconclusive. According to the American Diabetes Association, the glycemic index can be a helpful tool when managing blood sugar. Keep in mind the glycemic index can vary from person to person depending on different food combinations, how the food was produced and personally how your body responds.

Like most foods, it’s not the product that you consume that impacts health.  Rather it is the amount of the product that impacts your health. By overeating junk food you can gain fat just as you can by eating healthy foods.

Taste and Texture

If potential differences in health value of brown and coconut sugar do exist, how does that translate to cooking in your own kitchen with regard to taste, texture and swapping one for the other?

Let’s start with conventional brown sugar. It is slightly moister due to the addition of molasses.  Because it originates as white table sugar the granules are fine and uniform in size.

The sugar dissolves well in liquids and incorporates into solids used in baking such as butter. Brown sugar has an almost caramel-like flavor to it which blends well in baked goods. Depending on the amount of molasses added the caramel flavor and color can vary.

Coconut sugar, contradictory to what the name implies, does not taste like coconut! Like brown sugar, coconut sugar has a slight caramel flavor. Both sugars have a very similar taste. It’s the texture that sets them apart.

Coconut sugar has much larger granules because it is made by dehydrating sap. It is less processed than brown sugar and is in a more natural state. Due to less processing, coconut sugar can be a less informed in taste and granule size, mostly unnoticeable to you and I.

Coconut sugar does not blend as well with items such as butter and can leave baked goods spotted or grainy if they normally call for brown sugar. However, these days there are many baked goods recipes that call for coconut sugar and it works great. (See below for some amazing health inspired recipes to give it a go.) Coconut sugar does dissolve in liquids quite nicely and can be a nice addition to your morning coffee or tea.

You Decide

Brown sugar and coconut sugar contain very similar macronutrient profiles. Coconut sugar edges out brown sugar slightly as far as micronutrients are concerned. It also contains inulin which can be beneficial for gut health.

 

In both cases, quality trumps it all. Be sure to read ingredients labels thoroughly to look for added sugars, chemical additives and anything that looks and feels like it doesn’t belong in a PURE sugar product!

Where do I buy coconut sugar?

Coconut sugar can be found in any local grocer.

BUT, my favorite place to buy it is from the comfort of my own home, on the couch and in my pajamas.  Because this mama LOVES efficiency and does not like shopping.

Here are a few brands I love that can be found by clicking on the name and shopping on Amazon.

Big Tree Farms Organic Brown Coconut Sugar

Nutiva Organic Coconut Sugar

Wholesome  Organic Coconut Palm Sugar

Better Body Foods Organic Coconut Sugar

Thrive Market

If you haven’t heard about Thrive market you are missing out! Think of Thrive as Costco meets Whole Foods all via a virtual store. Essentially you pay an annual membership to get amazing prices on high-quality products including food, supplements, toiletries and home essentials.

The awesome part is shipping is FREE on orders over $49!

You can shop for specific products via their online catalog, with all prices typically 25-30% below retail value.  Some of my favorite foodie products are hard to find and I don’t live near a retailer that carries them.

Thrive comes in handy because I can order whatever I want and have it delivered to my doorstep. They also carry a few things that I have yet to find in my local grocer.

Thrive’s yearly membership cost is $60 (that breaks down to $5 a month) and is an awesome price point for a gift. When I got married we got a Costco membership and it was the best ever.

Thrive would have been even better! Click on the link below to start your 30-day FREE trial at Thrive and get FREE shipping.

Thrive Membership

Now What?

Understanding their potential differences may increase your willingness to try new recipes. There are many sweet treats that can be made with coconut sugar. It can also be used in savory dishes as well. Coconut sugar can add a little extra kick to your dinner plate for that combo sweet and savory finish.

Recipes To Try

Check out the links below to try a few healthy recipes that require coconut sugar in the ingredient list.

Paleo Vanilla Coffee Creamer

Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies

Paleo Sweetened Condensed Milk

Coconut Sugar Sriracha Shrimp

Slow Cooker Refined Sugar-Free Pulled Pork

Peanut Butter Blondies

Soft and Chewy Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cookies

Peanut Butter Blondies

Coconut Sugar Lemon Almonds

Roasted Apples and Pears With Coconut Sugar

At the end of the day, coconut sugar is still sugar and should not be over consumed. Just because it contains some additional nutrition does not mean it’s a free for all. Sugar is still a “treat.”

Using food awareness and nutrition label assessment is the key to choosing the highest quality option for you.

Do you use coconut sugar?

Do you have a favorite dish to use it for?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

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Healthy Pantry Checklist

If the brain has to think too long to make decisions, it shuts down.

No joke.  This became really obvious when I was reading Donald Miller’s, “Building a Story Brand.”  When the brain feels overloaded with too many decisions it starts to burn too many calories and stops dead in its tracks.  He makes such a powerful point that the “human brain is drawn toward clarity.”

This was an ah-ha moment for me as it relates to food.  It is part of the reason that so many people fail at meal prep and healthy food decisions.  They simply have to make too many decisions to be successful. Thus, their brain begins to burn too many calories and quits.

McDonald’s is just way easier (and they know it).

For you to be successful in creating a healthy lifestyle you have to eliminate as many barriers to success as possible.  One of those barriers is creating a physical environment that breeds easy nutritional access. Specifically,  a kitchen that makes decision making simple and straightforward. One that is clean, fresh, organized, inviting and let’s just say it…pretty.

If you walked into a restaurant that was dirty, disorganized and a total disaster would you want to eat there?

Yeah…me either.  

Your kitchen is no different.  You must create an environment where you want to cook, where you can find things easily, where things stay fresh and where you feel like Gordon Ramsay every damn day.

One of the first places to start is your pantry.

To me, a healthy pantry contains items that are essential to building the foundations of not just meals but snacks.  They are high in quality, contain ingredients that are easy to read and aren’t too sugary sweet.

Overall, the pantry is a place of balance.

Together we are going to begin to create a pantry that invites you in to take control of your health, is packed with healthy go-to’s, and maintains balance in 6 easy steps.

6 easy steps to creating a healthy pantry

Here are six simple steps to creating a healthy pantry.

Step 1: Ditch the junk.

Yep, let’s clean it out and start fresh.  This way you don’t have to question dates and can eliminate any of the stuff that has been sitting there for far too long.  And if you don’t want to start from scratch then just ditch the stuff you know won’t support your goals.

I am talking about those trigger foods; foods you can’t moderate and leave you with an ugly food binge of mental guilt.  Identify which ones are the highest triggers and remove them for now until you have time to learn how to moderate.

There are times when the pantry begins to fill with too many sugary laden items and I have to go in deep and trash the treats (thank you Christmas, Halloween, and Valentines).

Step 2. Invest in long-term storage

When I mean invest, I mean don’t be afraid to buy something that will last because it is worth it.  If you do it right, this pantry project can provide you years of health and sanity. Buy storage that fits the space well and is durable to last whatever age span your family or you are.

Clear Storage is a must. It allows you to see to the inside and identify what the contents are without pulling basket after basket out.  Being able to see to what is on the inside saves wear and tear on the pantry and also saves your ears from the “MOM–what is there to eat?

Because I am a budget conscious girl, the first place I began looking for clear kitchen storage was TJ Maxx.  They have hidden treasures in their kitchen and food department and I love peeking in there frequently to see what they have in stock.

Sure enough, they had the brand of clear kitchen organizers I was exactly looking for, InterDesign.  This brand is carried at the Container Store (in case you want to go there for reference) but is almost double the cost of what I found at TJ Maxx or even from Amazon.  I purchased the various sizes on-hand and used them as a guide in size to purchase more from Amazon.

You can also check out 9 Simple Organization Tools to Declutter Any Kitchen by Lyn Mettler, of The TODAY Show who features my  very own clear storage organization tip along with other products that will help you create a kitchen environment for success.

I bought stackable containers for small items like the ones shown below. You can click HERE for the link to view them on Amazon.  I also bought larger ones for bagged items like rice, quinoa, and lentils like these from AMAZON.  The tall and skinny ones are great for layering in the pantry. You can shop for various depths and configuration to fit your pantry the best.

Wire baskets like these from AMAZON are also a great option that allows you to see inside.  Trust me, I speak from experience, you save yourself so much time and energy by seeing what is inside the bins first.

Plastic or Glass?

This highly debated topic is relevant to the pantry too.  Will you buy plastic storage, a much cheaper option, or glass?

Here is why glass may be your best option.  It stays cleaner because it is less porous, can be washed at high temperatures, and is 100% recyclable.

I use Mason jars for every storage solution I need.  Why? Because they are cheap, easy to find and for me, are really inviting.  You can order all sizes right from Amazon shipped to your house in less than 48 hours.  The pricing even beat a Hobby Lobby trip where I could use a 50% off coupon.

I use small pint Masons for spices and seasonings.  The larger quart size Mason jars are filled with flours, ground seeds and some of the items we use in larger volume.  I even use some of the half gallon sizes for things I buy in massive bulk like nuts.

If you prefer plastic or are on a budget, just make sure they are 100% BPA free.  Because these containers will be used for storage and won’t be heated at high temperatures in the microwave, the use of plastic outweighs your amazing effort to make the pantry a more healthy place to eat.

#3. Group like items

To keep focused and efficient, group like items together.  Keep nuts and seeds in the same place in jars or on a turntable so you know where to look for that item.  Over time, that location will become a habit and will create efficiency for the eye.

Place boxed items together too.  For example rice, quinoa and lentils, all dinner side items, in the same bin.  That way when you are scrambling for quick dinner options you can view all choices of similar purpose (carbohydrate) together.

This also helps when you are preparing your grocery shopping lists because you can make a quick scan of the location to see if you need to buy more.

#4. Consider what you want the focus to be

A pantry is a place for storage of items that aren’t extremely perishable.  That often leads to a mixture of whole foods like nuts and seeds but also processed items like grains and crackers.

Consider what you want the focus to be in your pantry, not just for you but for your little ones too.

Do you want those crackers to be at eye level for little people?  Or do you have jars of nuts and trail mixes that you want the focal point to be when they open the pantry door?  Think about what message you want to send when you organize the pantry and keep those items you want to be consumed most often at eye level.

Use turntables so that you and your family can have full access to what is available.  I have had so many awesome pantry foods get hidden behind something and they have gone to waste too soon.  A 2-tiered turntable like this one allows you to store jars of nuts, seeds so that you can easily give it a spin and find all the options available.  It also allows you to maximize your pantry space by stacking items and filling space upward.

Consider a grab-and-go quick snack bin like this one.  This basket is filled with quick snacks that we might need for a car ride or on the way to an event.  It’s filled with things we don’t have daily but are healthy bars like Larabars, Rx Bars, Red Bars and occasional other bars that may be a treat.

#5. Buy in Bulk when you can

The great part of making an investment in your pantry and buying proper storage is that you can begin to save money by shopping in the bulk bins at the grocery store.  You are likely to pay half of what you pay buying the packaged version because you are saving on the cost of packaging and labor according to the thepennyhoarder.com. You can buy in bulk as needed and then store in the pretty little jars you invested in.

Using Mason jars as discussed above guarantee freshness over time.

#6. Label it up

I always tell myself I will remember what is inside each jar I have.

WRONG!

Let’s just say I have made a really spicy batch of my cashew-pecan butter when I accidentally put in cayenne instead of cinnamon (totally wasn’t paying attention).

Point is, put a labeling system in place from the start so that you know what is inside each jar from the get-go.  You can use pre-printed labels, chalk, or simple dry erase markers. Labeling helps the entire family, especially beginning readers like mine.

I keep it simple and often use a dry erase marker for the tops of my mason jars.

You can buy chalkboard labels or even dry erase tape to save a bit of cash.

Don’t forget to label your jars with dates to keep track of freshness in the pantry too.  Write the date you opened it or the expiration date as listed on the product’s packaging.

Having a pantry that is organized and inviting inspires healthy habits and cooking.  You can make your pantry over on a budget and can modify any of these containers by even shopping at your local dollar store or on Amazon Prime.

Pantry Staples: How to stock a healthy, nutrient-dense pantry

Kids are home from school, backpacks are flung on the kitchen table, and within 2 minutes I usually hear the rusty squeak of the pantry door hinge.

The kids are hungry and want snacks.  

The fridge is full of healthy whole foods, but the pantry is usually where the simple quick stuff is.  They aren’t dumb…they want a snack that will satisfy that afternoon craving.

If this story sounds familiar (or you have one similar) then this confirms the importance of filling your pantry with foods that support your family’s health and wellness.

P.S.A.: What is in the pantry WILL get eaten, no matter.  Even if it is healthy or not.

As parents and spouses, we are responsible for filling the pantry with options that help keep a nutrient dense diet but also allow balance in life. That is a huge responsibility.

Sweet treats

I talk a lot about eliminating trigger foods if you don’t feel like you have high willpower at the moment.  Keep that in mind when stocking that pantry.  However, creating a healthy relationship with foods you enjoy from a young age is a really important piece of the food awareness puzzle.

When it comes to children, don’t underestimate their knowledge and understanding of the importance of food in their bodies.  Teach them what foods provide them, encourage them to reflect on how certain foods make them feel and allow them the power of choice.

I keep a small bin of “sweet treats” in the pantry because I want my children to know how to moderate their consumption of them.  We use the following food mantra in our home as an open (and simple) reminder of how we fuel our bodies:

“There are everyday foods.” (things like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean proteins).

“There are sometimes foods.” (things like a piece of chocolate, pasta, cereal, bread)

“And there are special occasion foods.” (cupcakes, ice cream, etc.)

This helps to create a simple visual and verbal reminder of what foods should be primarily composing our day-to-day diet.

Build a Foundation

There are things you can and should have on hand every single day.  These are things that serve as the foundation of meals and will make healthy living simple if you have them organized in your pantry all the time.  Beyond what you physically have in your home is teaching your children (and adults too) the power of choice when it comes to filling their body with foods.

What you fill your pantry with is what you will eat.  So chose wisely. Building a healthy pantry is a great responsibility.

Where can I buy these things?

Thrive Market

If you haven’t heard about Thrive market you are missing out! Think of Thrive as Costco meets Whole Foods all via a virtual store.  Essentially you pay an annual membership to get amazing prices on high-quality products including food, supplements, toiletries and home essentials.  The awesome part is shipping is FREE too on orders over $49!

You can shop for specific products via their online catalog, with all prices typically 25-30% below retail value.  Some of my favorite foodie products are hard to find and I don’t live near a retailer that carries them. Thrive comes in handy because I can order whatever I want and have it delivered to my doorstep. They also carry a few things that I have yet to find in my local grocer.

Thrive’s yearly membership cost is $60 (that breaks down to $5 a month) and is an awesome price point for a gift. When I got married we got a Costco membership and it was the best ever.  Thrive would have been even better! Click on the link below to start your 30-day FREE trial at Thrive and get FREE shipping.

Amazon Subscribe and Save

Amazon now offers the subscribe and save option.  You can pick your favorite items to be sent to your door automatically at a reduced price of anywhere from 10-25%.  If you know you are going to use it, this option is brainless and uber convenient.

Sprouts and Costco are my favorite local grocers for many of my pantry items.  I buy from the bulk bins at Sprouts and in bulk at Costco for some of our favorite go-to’s.

Healthy Pantry Checklist

Here is a list of must-have staples to help you build a healthy pantry.  You can download the entire list HERE.

Nuts, Nut butter, and seeds

Almonds

Cashews (If you haven’t tried my cashew-pecan butter you need to right now)

Pecans

Macadamia

Walnut

Sesame seeds

Chia seeds

Flax (seed and meal)

Hemp

Want the whole list?  Then CLICK here for a simple checklist you can take with you on your next grocery shopping trip to stock your pantry with real foods.

Refrigerator organization

I am embarrassed to admit this but there have times in my house when life has happened, the house is a disaster and I simply have no idea what is currently in the frig.  It isn’t always perfect food organization and freshness over here.  I am human too.

In fact, there have been moments where I’ve reached into the frig to grab fresh veggies only to find a two-week-old rotten zucchini that I had clearly forgotten about.  SO freakin’ gross.

Just like a well-organized pantry, your fridge is no different. In fact, it is even more gorgeous because a well-organized fridge with big, beaming lights is like a choir singing.  Okay, well maybe not, but it is an inviting space that beckons healthy eating.

Many of the same pantry tips apply to the refrigerator as well.

Use clear storage to save space

Just like the pantry, clear storage bins create a colorful invitation into the fridge.  Research suggests that when fruits and vegetables are visible their colors can increase your senses, thus we are more likely to grab them to eat. So, fill your fridge with bright enticing colors to sneak in a variety of vitamins and minerals.

After hitting the grocery store, the first thing I like to do is wash and dry veggies.  Once dry (because you don’t want to give mold any leg up) I use various size Mason jars to store them in, ready to eat.  This my friends is the number one way to increase whole food, healthy eating…have it ready.  That doesn’t mean just in the fridge but washed, cut and ready to devour.  I preach to my clients that success is about eliminating the barriers to your success.  By making vegetables and fruits readily available, there is no excuse (and no barrier).

 

Just like #2-6 above, group like items together, make the focal point the items you want to be consumed and don’t forget to label everything with dates.

Healthy Refrigerator (and Freezer) Checklist

Here is a list of items to help you begin to build a healthy, real-food kitchen.

Eggs

Egg whites

Almond Milk

Applesauce

Want the whole list?  Then CLICK here for a simple checklist you can take with you on your next grocery shopping trip to stock your refrigerator with real foods.

 

Remove the barriers to your success and create a physical environment in your kitchen that makes healthy choices and cooking a no-brainer.  These practices build sustainable habits that encourage a lifelong skillset of success.

What is your favorite healthy pantry snack?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

Amazon disclaimer: Awalkmyway is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.awalkmyway.com

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How many carbs in almonds?

Me and nut butter…it’s like the yin to my yang.  It’s incredibly addicting. So much that I make homemade cashew pecan butter every single week in my house because my family devours it. And almond butter…holy moly, we love that too.  Quite honestly, my pantry is stocked with a wide selection of nut butter.

Almond butter though takes the cake when it comes to media hype. They have plenty of properties that make them a worthy recipient. Almonds are packed with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. A ½ cup of almonds provides ¼ the amount of recommended daily fiber intake for an adult female. So how many carbs are in almonds? Well, almonds are low in carbohydrates and boast an impressive amount of monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat!) which can lower cholesterol, aid in the protection of our organs, and promote overall heart health.

How Many Carbs Are In Almonds? An Origin   

The almighty almond originates from the Mediterranean and southwest Asia, but since the 20th century, almond trees have largely been cultivated in Sacramento California. The almond is the seed of the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree. Almonds are closely related to apricots and peaches.

Yes, that’s right, almonds are actually considered to be a fruit according to the United States Forest Service. They come from the prunus family and fall into the stone fruit category. Stone fruit trees and shrubs produce fruits such as cherries, plums, peaches, and nectarines.

Your friends will be impressed when you tell them almonds and cherries are cousins and happen to make a delicious trail mix (just don’t forget to add the dark chocolate nibs!).

How many carbs are in almonds? And what about fat and protein? One serving of almonds, or 1 oz, provides 14 grams of fat (9 grams of monounsaturated fat, 3.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.1 grams of saturated fat), 6 grams of protein, and 6 grams of carbs. And as far as vitamins and minerals, almonds are rich in vitamin E, Magnesium, manganese, copper, and calcium.                   

But why do almonds have carbohydrates?

When we think nuts, we think FAT.  But most nuts contain more macronutrients within them including carbohydrate.  According to MyFitnessPal, one serving of almonds has 6 grams of carbohydrates. 2.9 grams of net carbs, and 3.1 grams of fiber. Remember, Net Carbs equal the total grams of carbs – grams of fiber. Fiber is most present in the skin of the almonds.  To make sure you are getting in all the fiber buy almonds with the skin on them in order to reap the benefits.

Almonds contain insoluble fiber which is indigestible, and is considered “nature’s broom”. Insoluble fiber aids in the motility of the digestive tract by moving materials through and adds to the bulk of stool.

This type of fiber is helpful in the diets of people who struggle with constipation or irregular bowel movements. The net carbs come from complex carbohydrates which are slow digesting and have a time releasing effect for energy usage. Complex carbohydrates don’t have the crash and burn effect like simple carbohydrates (candy, white bread, chips, etc.) do on people.

Fats

One ounce of almonds contains 9 grams of monounsaturated fat, the good type of fat, that is greatly associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fat also improves insulin sensitivity and helps the body to properly utilize fat. Increasing the amount of monounsaturated fat in one’s diet will help aid in weight loss, and maintain a healthy metabolism (i.e maintain healthy body weight).

Polyunsaturated fats often referred to as omega-3 fatty acids, are also present in almonds. Polyunsaturated fats have been linked to raising HDL levels (good cholesterol) and Lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in persons at risk for heart disease. Lowering high blood pressure, and reducing the risk of type II diabetes is another added benefit from consuming foods containing polyunsaturated fat.

Protein

The media often touts almonds as a high protein source. Although this is true, the amount of protein (6 grams) in one serving of almonds is usually not sufficient enough to fulfill protein requirements for that one meal unless paired with another protein source.

Nuts are great, but can be easy to overeat, and can easily consume one’s allotted macronutrient values for the day in a hot second. Adding almonds to a grilled chicken salad, or making “chicken nuggets” with almond meal is a good way to “have your cake and eat it too”.

Magnesium

Magnesium is crucial in the functioning of over 300 chemical reactions required for proper body functioning. It is commonly used to alleviate constipation. The health benefits of Magnesium include calcium absorption, the formation of connective tissue (bye-bye wrinkles), proper metabolism of fats and carbohydrates as well as regulating blood sugar levels, and aiding in the proper functioning of thyroid levels.

Magnesium is also used by many health professionals to maintain healthy blood pressure in patients since it is a calcium- channel blocker. Brazil nuts and flaxseeds are also a good source of magnesium.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is antioxidant-rich which helps to stave off free radicals such as environmental pollutants, poor air quality, and sun damage. Many studies state that including Vitamin E also helps to suppress the oxidation or hardening of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the arteries. Other evidence suggests vitamin E helps to fight against the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. One 1oz. serving of dry roasted almonds provides 6.8 mg of Vitamin E.

Manganese, Calcium, and Copper

Nuts also contain minerals that play a key role in many of the body’s processes. Manganese is an important trace mineral that is found in small amounts in the body particularly in the kidneys, pancreas, liver, and bones. Manganese aids in the formation of bone, connective tissue, blood clotting factors, and plays a major role in the metabolization of fats and carbohydrates.

Calcium is a common mineral found in the body that is necessary for life. Calcium helps to form and maintain bone and bone density. Calcium plays an important role in muscle contraction, releasing hormones, transmitting messages through the nerves, blood clotting factors, and your heartbeat. A consistent level of calcium intake can be a preventative measure for people at risk for osteoporosis. Women need to be especially concerned about their calcium intake since they are more at risk for osteoporosis than men.

Copper is an essential trace mineral in the body that helps aid in the absorption of iron, the formation of collagen, and brain functioning. Iron and copper together form red blood cells. Copper can be found in the brain, liver heart, kidneys, and skeletal muscle.

Too little or too much copper in the body can lead to brain dysfunction. Copper plays a major role in the maintenance of collagen and elastin in our skin. Maintaining collagen and elastin will help in slowing down the effects of the aging process.

In my FREE 7 Day challenge we talk about the connection between food, mood and aging!  You can join totally FREE HERE!

Pecans

Pecans are the only nut native to North America and Mexico. Pecans are another superfood that helps to reduce inflammation, prevent oxidative stress, improve brain functioning, maintain bone health, and reduce symptoms of PMS. Yet even more reason to make your own cashew pecan butter too. They have a higher fat content than any other nut.

Pecans are high in omega- 9 or oleic acid which helps to protect the nervous system and helps to control inflammation levels within the body. Pecans contain nineteen vitamins and minerals. The most important being copper, zinc, and manganese. One 1 oz serving of pecans according to a MyFitnessPal query, contains roughly 20 grams of fat (11.6 grams monounsaturated fat, 6.1 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.8 grams of saturated fat), 4 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are native to Australia, but Hawaii is the largest exporter of this super delicious nut. Dip them in some dark chocolate and it is life changing. Macadamia nuts are high in flavonoids, which convert into antioxidants in the body. Macadamia nuts have a perfect one to one ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats which the standard American diet provides way too much omega- 6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s.

Too much intake of omega-6 can lead to heart disease, atherosclerosis, and inflammation of the body. They are also high in Omega -7 in the form of palmitoleic acid which helps your body use omega- 3s properly. Without omega-7s, omega- 3s do not do their job as well. One ounce of macadamia nuts contains 204 calories, 21 grams of fat (17 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0.4 grams polyunsaturated fat, and 3.4 grams of saturated fat.)

Not all almonds are created equally

It can be hard to know if the products you are purchasing are going to be the best bang for your buck nutrition wise, especially when almonds are talked about as a superfood. According to the USDA, as of 2007, all almonds must go through a pasteurization process before being sold in stores. This is to prevent salmonella. They fumigate the almonds with propylene oxide gas that is carcinogenic and potentially gene-mutating.

Stores such as Costco have admitted to selling this type of almond in their stores. As long as the almonds are not roasted, stores are allowed to label their almonds “raw” even if they have been through this type of pasteurization process. This makes the shopping selection even more confusing to the average consumer trying to make health-conscious choices. So before you ask how many carbs are in almonds, ask if your almonds have been through this process.

Almonds have a bad side

Almonds may be a nutritional powerhouse, but they have a dark side. Many nuts contain phytic acid which inhibits the vitamins and minerals contained in the nut. This means that your body will pull out the nutrients rather than use them. It’s best to soak your almonds overnight for a minimum of 8 hours completely submerged in water.

By soaking the nuts, this will neutralize the phytic acid and enhance the enzymatic activity. Enzymatic activity helps in the digestion process and the utilization of vitamins and minerals.  The reality is though even with the presence of phytic acid, snacking on almonds provides a much greater nutrient value than a junk food counterpart.

Almond butter for weight loss

The reality is that almonds contain roughly the same macronutrient profile as other nut butter.  Eating almond butter over peanut butter because it contains more micronutrient benefits may have validity.  However, eating it for weight loss will not bring you any other benefits compared to another nut butter counterpart in the same quantities.

If you are ready to change your LIFE and start feeling amazing naked then join my FREE 7 Day Feel HERE.

A tablespoon of almond butter contains 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates and almost 4 protein.  This compared to a tablespoon of peanut butter also at 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrate and 3 protein.

Almonds in recipes

Almonds are such a versatile nut and can be added to almost any meal or side dish. Eaten in moderation, almonds can provide long-lasting health benefits when paired with a healthy balanced diet.

Try throwing some almonds, bananas, and cinnamon into morning oats before a long day of work. The complex carbs from the oats and the fat from the nuts help maintain satiation well into the afternoon when you can finally sneak in your overdue lunch break.

Using sliced almonds or pecan bits atop a salad adds an awesome crunchy texture and sneaks in all the benefits of nuts as mentioned above.

When I make many spaghetti squash bakes, I sprinkle almond meal on top and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until it gets nice and crispy.

One of my favorite treat recipes of all time is an almond flour-based chocolate chip cookie. You can find it here.  Although these cookies are macronutrient dense, they have whole, real food ingredients and are so dang good.  You can bake them and even freeze to help portion out and get a nice treat.

 

What are your favorite almond based recipes? Feel free to share below.

If you are ready to change your LIFE and start feeling amazing naked then join my FREE 7 Day Feel HERE.

Work hard Be kind,

                  AWalk

 

 

 

 

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5 Tips To Create Food Awareness

It’s dinner time, you’re driving home from work, and you are starving.

Like, HANGRY.

It’s Monday, so naturally, you’ve told yourself today is the day that you’re getting your life together and going to start changing habits and living a healthier lifestyle.

You decide to grab a quick healthy meal from your favorite restaurant or fast food joint, and as you scan the menu, you realize that you aren’t really sure what’s healthy. You decide on the salad because “Duh, salad is healthy”. When it arrives, it’s loaded with hard boiled eggs, nuts, bacon, dressing, chicken, and so much more. All of a sudden, what was supposed to be a healthy meal has turned into a 1,000 calories meal in the blink of an eye.

What you are lacking is real, long-term food awareness.

What is Food Awareness?

Food awareness is at the heart of long-term nutritional success.  My definition of food awareness is having knowledge and understanding of what food is made up of and what purpose it serves for the body so you can make food decisions that support your goals.

Sound complicated?

Increasing food awareness gives you the ability to answer the following questions:

What’s in the food?

What does that food do for you?

Whatis the food made of?

The more knowledge you have about the foods you eat, the more powerful your choices can be.  In turn, you can make better decisions on the foods you select to fuel your body. It takes time to invest in the understanding of food awareness, but it’s so worth it! It’s really the “secret sauce” behind my one-on-one work with clients.

You can read more about their success stories to building a lasting relationship with food here.

 

You don’t know what you don’t know

I learned a simple quote from my husband that is so applicable to food. He is a police officer who is frequently thrown into unique situations that bring about new learning.

He shared a quote with me they use in his unit often:

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”  

It is so relevant food too. How can you really understand all the excess ingredients and calories stuffed into foods if you don’t have a baseline level of knowledge to go from? How do you know what you’re putting into your body if you don’t know how your current eating habits are or what a nutrition label is?

I want to help you improve your food awareness by helping you practice a few simple steps that will help you gain knowledge and thus, increase your ability to make good choices. I’m going to share with you 5 easy tips that you can start implementing to increase your food awareness.

5 Tips To Create Food Awareness

Here are 5 tips to improve your food awareness.

1. Evaluate Your Current Eating Habits

To become food ware, you must first learn what you’re eating RIGHT NOW. There are so many different ways that you can evaluate your current eating habits.

A food journal like this one is a simple place to start.  You can list the foods you eat each day and then ask yourself a few questions, like:

  • How do I feel after I eat these foods?
  • Did I eat mostly whole foods, or processed foods?
  • Did I crave certain foods, or crave foods more than I normally do?

We all need to know where we are starting from, so we can gauge where we are going. By starting small, like writing in a food journal, we can understand what we are doing now so we can look back and see how the foods we eat impact us.

If you want to take it up a level, use an app! My favorite food app is My Fitness Pal. In the beginning, don’t worry about the numbers, just use it as a diary and record your foods. You can even make notes and comments in the app

This is really valuable information to have. As you begin to get more advanced you can then begin to look more specifically at the macronutrient values of food, including fiber and lots of other valuable info about the foods you are taking in.

2. Invest In Understanding Nutrition Labels

If you want to increase your food awareness, take the time to read and understand nutrition labels. When you go to the store, pick up the foods, and actually read the labels!  First things first, read the ingredients. If you struggle to pronounce the ingredient list, it’s a great red flag to reevaluate. That’s just too much “stuff” that’s not a necessity.  A great rule of thumb when selecting pre-packaged foods is to stick with something that has roughly a maximum of 8-10 ingredients listed that you are able to pronounce out loud.  Likely the other unnecessary terms are disguised sweeteners and preservatives that don’t serve your overall health any good.

Ingredients are listed in order by weight.  The ingredient contained in the largest quantity will be listed first and the smallest last.  What does that mean to you?  If you find something like “sugar” (or another secret form of it) listed first, it is likely a product you should pass on.  Look for things like sugar and sodium to be listed last (or not at all).

Just because the ingredient list doesn’t spell out the word “SUGAR” there about 50-60 other forms of the word that could be included to sweeten the product.  Manufacturers are in the business of selling their product, so they use other forms of sweetener to mislead the average consumer.  Labels and advertising on foods is truly a very misleading market.

Next, asses serving size. Nutrition labels can be tricky, and most of the time you can’t eat the whole box as a serving size. You may read the label and realize that the box contains 8 servings of the food inside, increasing the macronutrient ten-fold.

Next, begin to familiarize yourself with macronutrients. How many carbs, protein, and fat does each serving size have? How much fiber? You can download my FREE Macro Basics guide HERE to understand more about what macronutrients are and why they are important to you.

At the end of the day, real food doesn’t have nutritional labels.  The awesome part is there are resources to better understand their values too.  MyFitnessPal has a huge database of food so you can learn what really is in an egg, cup of strawberries, or any of your favorite whole foods.  I also love Calorie King as a means of researching foods and also as a guide to what is in some of your favorites foods when dining out.

3. Get To Know Portion Sizes and Food Value

Portion control is a major step toward food awareness.  When dining out, we are served HUGE portion sizes, and it’s so much more on our plates than we really need.

A basic step in portion control is learning use to use your hands as a guide.  To create a balanced plate, add a:

  • A handful of lean protein
  • A handful of carbs
  • Two handfuls of vegetables ( and maybe a bit of fruit)
  • A thumb full of healthy fat

No complicated measuring or tracking initially, just food awareness when it comes to portion sizing. You carry your hands with you everywhere you go and using them as measurements give you a nudge in the direction of what you a true portion should look like. You’ll come to realize that maybe you weren’t eating enough, or maybe overeating at each meal.

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with texture and the purpose of foods. Foods that share similarities often fall into the same macronutrient category.  Think about fruit, like bananas and apples, and how they share the characteristic of sweet. Things that taste sweet tend to be high in carbohydrates.

Nuts and seeds leave an oily feeling in the mouth and leave you well satiated.  They all belong to the same macronutrient category of fat. If you aren’t sure which foods fall into which macronutrient category, check out this link to my free real food list that helps you see the categories of macronutrients that foods fall into to help you select portions for your meals.

Download my FREE list of real food macronutrient ideas HERE

Learn the Value of Food

Quick and convenient foods often provide a calorie dense, but a nutrient-poor option.  When we measure up fast-food options or pre-packaged options against real food, they often leave little to be desired.

Take a look at the picture below.  One meal is a fast-food restaurant’s chicken nugget meal (4 nuggets and small french fry) compared to my homemade version of chicken nuggets, curly sweet potato fries, and cauliflower “wings”.  Both contain the same calorie content.  However, there is clearly much more bang for your buck when you chose the real-food option.

Although these foods contain the same calorie content, their macronutrient profiles are different.  The fast-food meal has nearly 25 grams of fat and only 6 grams of protein.  My homemade meal has nearly 40 grams of protein and only 8 grams of fat.

Let’s look at another example.  Below is my favorite on-the-go bar option, the Rx bar.  It contains 12 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrate and 9 grams of fat.  You can see a side-by-side comparison of two other meal and snack options that contain a very similar macronutrient profile.

The point is that you must understand what your food is made of to truly understand the best option for you.  You can get a whole lot more food when we sacrifice convenience and work towards bringing in more real food options.  Ultimately, it is all about balance and understanding the reward and consequences of food selections.

You can watch and listen to my Facebook Live where I talk about food values and real food comparisons HERE.

4. Realize That The Whole = The Sum Of The Parts

The next time you go out to eat, take your burger, burrito, or whatever you get and deconstruct it. What’s inside the burrito? What’s underneath that hamburger bun? This will expose the oils the ingredients were cooked in, sauces, and things like fried onion rings hidden under the protective covering of a “bun.” Those items can really increase the caloric value of the meal.

If we deconstruct these meals, we can gain a better sense of what is truly in the food.  Ketchup, Chick fil a sauce, butter, all add up when we don’t pay attention to what is really hidden inside. Once you become aware, you can make more informed choices, like asking for steamed veggies (instead of sauteed in butter) or the sauce/dressing on the side so you can control how much is used.  In the end, knowledge is power.  When we make these choices consistently, they become a habit and that is where real change happens.

5. Evaluate Your Real Hunger

When was the last time you really listened to your body and the hunger cues it provided?

We are creatures of habit, so many of us are used to running from place to place and not paying attention to what our bodies are telling us they need. We eat fast, snack often and don’t ever truly slow down enough to listen to what our bodies need.

Take a moment to stop and really get in tune with the messages your body is sending you. These days, we aren’t listening to our hunger; eating has just become a habit for us. Before you eat, feel it out. Are you truly hungry? Maybe you’re just thirsty, or bored, or eating just because others around you are. Increasing our food awareness also means increasing trust with our bodies.

After you eat a serving of food, ask yourself “am I content?”. Are you going back for seconds because that’s what you’ve always done? Have you created a habit of feeling like you need more because you’ve eaten so fast you haven’t really let the rest of your body catch up? Take this time and listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. You may be surprised that you’re full after just one serving of food.

At the end of the day, food awareness is a lifelong skill that is priceless.  All it takes is you investing time and looking at your day to day life so you can make simple changes. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s really all about your mindset.  These small habits all compounded over time create a life rich in food awareness that will support your health and wellness goals.

What is one area of food awareness you struggle with?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

,

How do I meal prep?

#meal prep. It’s a continually trending hashtag, with over seven million uses on Instagram.

Creating a plan is really the single most important piece to executing your nutritional goals.  It ranks right up there with personal accountability.

But it is freakin’ hard.  It’s hard to carve out the time and to know what the heck you actually need to buy, how much to cook, and even how to cook it all. It’s completely overwhelming.

So what do most people do?

They skip it.

But not YOU. You won’t skip out on it. Because you are here.

I am breaking down meal prep into 4 simple steps that will take away your overwhelm and will save you time. It’s devoted to helping you take away the barriers to your success and help you find simple ways to execute prep and get more whole, real foods into your day.

You do not have to do it ALL right out of the gate.  As you read, you can find what works for you and ease into the process of meal prep.  Pick the parts that work into your life and slowly add in more aspects over time. This first part is to help you start to organize your meal prep.

If you are ready to take the next step, you can buy my Meal Prep Hero guide RIGHT NOW that will dive into these steps in more depth, walk you through a sample week of meal prep from start to finish AND give you 2 weeks worth of more ideas for planning.  BONUS: it will also provide you a grocery shopping and meal planning template.

I want all the other stuff in the Meal Prep Hero Guide!

Benefits of meal prepping

There are many great benefits to making meal prep a habit, including:

Saves a dollar, dollar bill Y’all

Yep, that’s right.  When you prep in volume you end up avoiding those last minute stops at the grocery store where you buy too many unused ingredients for one meal.  When you organize your meal prep, you can use multiple ingredients across multiple meals, thus saving you money. AND if you get great at DOUBLE PREP (which I discuss below) it saves you massive amounts of money from eating lunches out during the work week.

No excuses for not staying the course

Meal prepping takes away temptation and puts the resources you need to be successful right at your fingertips.  Ready meals and snacks help you stay the course and eliminates massive barriers between you and your success.

Less snacking

When well balanced meals are ready, you will be eating foods that are more satiating. Greater satiation means that you will have less desire to snack and will likely eliminate the temptations to reach for something that doesn’t support your goals.  Balanced meals help regulate blood sugar levels which helps maintain long-term health and hunger regulation.

Success in your goals

Anytime you have a goal, you must have a plan of action to get there.  Part of the action plan to lose weight or improve the quality of foods you are eating must include meal prep as part of that action plan.

4 Steps To Meal Prep Success

#1: Organize Meal Prep

The first step in meal prepping is the initial organization. I’ve also found that this is the part that feels so overwhelming that so many people just stop because they don’t know where to start.

In theory, I could just offer a whole list of foods and grocery shopping lists and map out an entire plan for you. BUT that does not teach you one darn thing. It would last, but only for a bit. So instead, I am going to take you through step-by-step directions so you can be a meal prepping boss. Just like my work with clients, I want you to develop a skill set that will last you a lifetime. So here’s how to organize your meal prep.

Sync your schedule

Look at your week and think about what is going on. If you are married or have children, include their schedules too. This is the time to decide how many meals you will be having at home.

I have a family of four and we usually plan for 5 meals for the week, 1 night of leftovers and 1 meal out as a family (we really look forward to this one). Five meals are totally manageable and a 6th night for leftovers makes sure you let nothing go to waste.

What will you prep?

This is the fun, creative part of the organization and planning process.  This is also the part where you get bored over time.

The most basic way to pick what you will prep is opting for the “PICK 3 COMBO” (covered below).  This oversimplifies the planning and also helps guide you in the direction of real, whole foods.

Keep it Simple

One of the biggest failures, when you start to organize your meal prep (aside from not making it a priority), is making it too complicated. You don’t have to make gourmet meals. You just need to batch cook a few choices of lean proteins, a selection of vegetables and starches. Each can be recycled using spices and seasonings to totally change the flavor and consistency.

Pick your portions

Next, you’ll need to pick your portions. This is where you think about how you plan to use each meal.  Will they be stand-alone dinners? Or will you become the master of meal prep and do what I call “DOUBLE PREP” so that you have lunches for the next day too.

DOUBLE PREP is the key to my sanity. Although I do some mass meal preps, my favorite form of meal prep is doubling up the portions for dinner to kill two birds with one stone and make lunch for my husband and me for the next day too.

The main goal is to have an idea of how much you will need so you have enough to organize your meal prep.

Make a grocery list

Now that you’ve got your recipes and portion sizes you can start to create a grocery shopping list.  If you organize that list by category, you also simplify the shopping process and become more efficient maneuvering through the store.

You can download a super easy to use meal planning calendar and grocery shopping list here too (because this post wouldn’t be complete without it).

Shop

Lastly, shop until you drop. BUT my number one suggestion for shopping is not to do it on an empty belly. If you are hungry at the grocery store you are likely to creep into the aisles and add things to the cart that aren’t going to support your goals.

You’ve spent all of this time planning, you want to go in with a mission and GET IT DONE.

And boom, just like that we’ve taken what could have been a super complicated process and broken it down into manageable steps. Now you can organize your meal prep with ease. Remember, start small and keep it simple. Above all, just start.

The work week comes fast and before you know it’s Friday and you haven’t spent any time preparing yourself for the week. We spent time organizing meal prep in order to get rid of the overwhelm of even starting it. Now it’s time to dig in and learn how to start executing meal prep. For me, this is the best part.

#2: Executing meal prep

Wash and Dry

Turn on your favorite Pandora station and go to work.  The first step is gathering your ingredients and washing, drying, and peeling whatever is needed. If time is really a HUGE factor, don’t be afraid to buy pre-cut vegetables to help eliminate some of the basic steps in meal prep to make the task less daunting.

Become the ultimate multi-tasker

To start executing meal prep well and become efficient, you have to become great at doing lots of things at the same time. When you begin a massive meal prep session, the first thing you need to do is begin to cook the items that will take the longest first.

If you plan to cook protein in the crockpot, put it in first so that it can cook while you cut, chop and saute. In general, proteins will take the longest followed by vegetables and carbohydrates depending on their method of preparation.

Get those proteins going and while they roast, grill, or sit in the crockpot, move onto the prep of the other items including chopping vegetables or getting your carbs ready for the oven or Instant Pot. I talk about this in much more depth in my guide that will teach you how to become a meal prep hero that you can buy HERE.

Pick 3 Combo

The most basic way to pick what you will prep is opting for the “Pick 3 combo”.  This oversimplifies the planning and also helps guide you in the direction of real, whole foods.

Click HERE to learn more about the Pick 3 combo in my meal prep guide.

Once you get the hang of it, you can add different flavors, spices and swap macronutrients to create diversity in your meals.  Chose a few proteins for the week that can be repurposed by adding new spices, seasonings or simple sauces to change up the flavor.

My favorite seasonings include Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning, Chili Lime, Lemon Pepper and Everything But The Bagel. I am also in Love with Primal Palate’s garlic and herb seasoning, and BBQ seasoning. You can order them HERE in awesome combo packs that are so worth it.

There are also sauce choices you can add that won’t add a ton of caloric value including regular mustard, dijon mustard, Frank’s Buffalo sauce, diced pickles, or some Greek yogurt-based dips to create a creamy condiment.

Efficiency is key

Think about using the kitchen space you have efficiently. Your goal is to maximize the use of all the surfaces so you can be efficient with your time. If the crockpot is filled with protein, bust out the Instant Pot to cook rice or potatoes (or vice versa).  If you don’t have either of these kitchen gadgets (I highly recommend first getting the Instant Pot because it can do both pressure and slow cooking) then use the stove and oven simultaneously.  Saute proteins while you roast a large batch of sweet potatoes in the oven on one tray and broccoli and cauliflower on the other tray.

Efficiency will come with practice. Just like any new adventure, it takes time to master it and get a really great rhythm. What might take 3-4 hours in the first few attempts will soon only take 2 hours. 2 hours of your time executing meal prep that will lead you to an entire week of success.  It is 100% worth it.

Portion and Package

Once everything is cooked and ready, it’s time for the grand finale… the packaging. If you track your macros, then this is the time to bust out the scale and measure out each meal to guarantee accuracy and success.

If your goal is simple balanced meals and accountability with a meal prep plan, then balanced portions of good quality whole foods are what you are after.

Use your hand as a guide and aim for one handful of protein, one handful of carbohydrate and two handfuls of vegetables.

There are lots of options when it comes to meal prep containers.  You can choose plastic or glass, and base your choices on whatever your budget and material requirements are.

These plastic containers are easy to use, can be bought in bulk for lots of weekly meals, are BPA free, and dishwasher safe.

If glass is your preferences, these rock. I have also seen awesome sets at our local Costco as well.

Once each meal has a lid on it, use a dry erase marker to list the contents inside and macronutrient quantities if you need to. Don’t skip this step, especially if you plan to freeze, because you will forget what the heck you made and on what date.

Snacks

While things feel under control and are cooking away, this is also a great time to prep snacks. I use this time to chops fresh carrots, celery and cucumber to pair with my favorite Greek yogurt dips (you can find the recipes for these HERE) or hummus as a snack and also for my kiddos’ lunches. I love to store things (after they dry) in mason jars so I can see what is in the frig fast and to tempt my kids (and hubby) with healthy options.

If you are a really advanced meal prepper, you might even measure out servings of nuts, trail mixes, crackers, or fruit to have as grab and go options in your pantry or fridge.

Freeze it too

And finally, don’t forget the freezer.  It is really helpful to make a few extra meals for the freezer each time you meal prep. There is sure to be a night where you are just not prepared nor feel like cooking. These freezer meals will save your day and will help you maintain laser focused on your mission to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The work week comes fast and before you know it’s Friday and you haven’t spent any time preparing yourself for the week. We spent time organizing meal prep in order to get rid of the overwhelm of even starting it. Now it’s time to dig in and learn how to start executing meal prep. For me, this is the best part.

Ready to dive into meal prep from start to finish?  Grab my guide to becoming the hero of your own meal prep HERE.

 

#3 Add variety

Now you just need ideas.

And who has time for being creative??

Diversity breeds sustainability. I teach my clients that all the time. If you eat the same stuff day in and day out then you are likely to get bored. You need to make time for ideas that don’t have to be complicated.

If you stick with my PICK 3 COMBO to simplify meal prep, then you can do a few simple things to increase variety in your meal prep. And super bonus…stick with it until the end of the post for 5 resources for even more ideas.  If you are ready to start now, you can grab my guide to becoming a meal prep hero which will give you exact meal ideas and walk you through how to execute your own meal prep from start to finish.

 Seasonings

Bust open that spice cabinet and use your favorite seasonings.  They change the flavor of your food completely and can turn your crockpot chicken into Asian wraps, chili lime taco salads, or BBQ chicken pizza.

When meal prepping in batches, make the initially cooked meals simple in flavors with some salt, pepper and garlic.  This will leave room for increasing diversity variety in your meal prep during the week.

Here are a few of my favorite seasonings to keep on hand:

  • Primal Palate Seasonings (these are pricey but the best I’ve used and I love the Meat and Potatoes blend and simple Garlic and Herb blend as well)
  • Trader Joe’s Chili Lime
  • Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel
  • Trader Joe’s’ Everyday Seasoning
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (so good in my skinny version of guacamole)

Add condiments

Another simple way to change the flavor of your food is to add condiments such as sauces and salsas.  The only tip I have here is to be aware of the contents and make sure you aren’t adding a massive amount of calories through condiments.

A few of my favorite condiments include:

  • Mustard
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Franks Red Hot (mix this with Dijon and holy yummy)
  • Greek Yogurt (you can add this with seasonings to make a dip like this one)
  • Salsa

Swap the starch

To increase variety in your meal prep, simply swap the starch you typically pair with your protein and vegetables.

Usually have rice with lemon pepper chicken?

Swap it for roasted sweet potatoes.

Usually have sweet potatoes with sloppy joes?  

Swap them out for some quinoa.

No over complication, just simple no hassle meal prep.

 

Have protein variety

Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.  Meal prep does not need to consist of chicken every week. Try new proteins along the way to add flavor and texture variety. In addition, the diversity of protein allows for lots of micronutrient benefits as well. For a complete list of lean proteins, click HERE.

Change the way it was cooked

Lastly, swap your prep strategy.  If the weather permits, forgo the oven and grill everything.  There is something about meals from the grill that make me feel like summer and a La Croix with a splash of lime.

Or bust out your sheet pans, use a light spray of olive or coconut oil and a few simple seasonings to roast a whole bunch of potatoes and veggies to batch prep.  Oven roasting is great because you can allow things to cook while you master multitasking doing other things to get ready for your week. Changing up the cooking method adds flavor and diversity throughout the week. I cover which cooking methods are actually best for meal prep and how long you can store food in my Guide to Becoming a Meal Prep Hero HERE-

Top 4 Resources for meal ideas

You stuck around to the end (or skipped here). Either way, I don’t care because I just want you to be a meal prep master. Here are my top resources for meal prep ideas that will give you simple recipes that you can turn into weekly go-to’s.  Some recipes may be too complicated because remember that part of the success of meal prepping comes from keeping it simple. However, they may inspire ideas, flavors and combinations you would have otherwise passed over.

  1. Skinnytaste
  2. Detoxinista
  3. Paleomg
  4. My Pinterest (shameless plug) because I add yummy ideas all the time

#4 Simplify with meal pre must-haves

No meal prep post would be complete without a guide to my favorite tools and supplies that make meal prepping easy. Your budget and lifestyle will dictate the need for each of these.  What I do know is that each of these meal prep must haves offers something unique to the meal prepping process that may become the magic of your meal prep success.

Instant Pot

I am a raging Instant Pot fan because once I tried it…I never looked back. I still use my crockpot but I love having this on hand so that if I don’t plan ahead, I can still get dinner on the table quick. It can pressure cook and slow cook and it makes that most amazing hard boiled eggs.

If you could buy just one kitchen gadget, this would be my suggestion because it has so many features and is an all-in-one kitchen appliance. This is the ultimate tool on my meal prep must-haves list, and I’d be lost without it.

Crockpot

This was my first kitchen appliance and first cooking love. I still use mine often. It is a great purchase for a newbie in the kitchen because the buttons are simple and its use is straightforward. Throw in a protein or other ingredients, add some liquid and let it cook for 6-8 hours. It’s foolproof most of the time.

Air Fryer

I am not gonna lie.  I was extremely reluctant to try the Air Fryer because I didn’t need one more thing. However, this little handy gadget can come through with that lightly fried finish that some foods just need without the mess of oil or the macronutrient fat bomb!  You can put in so many yummy food options for a solid golden finish. This should be on your meal prep must-haves list if you like crispy food without all the extra oil or greasiness.

You can buy the Air Fryer in multiple sizes to accommodate more food.  My opinion is to go big, especially if you are feeding a family so you don’t have to do multiple batches for one meal.

Some of my favorite things to put in the Air Fryer are kale chips, sweet potato fries and chicken.

Glass Storage Containers

An eco-friendly form of meal prep storage can happen in the glass containers.  They lock tight and the super bonus is you can reheat your food right in them. Plus, they’re easy to use.

Plastic Storage Containers

If glass containers are too bulky or unreasonable for your commute, you can opt for a more simple option.  These plastic containers are more cost-effective, stack nicely in the refrigerator and are super simple to pack for work or school.

Reusable Sandwich Bags

These are my jam! You can put dry and wet ingredients in them and reuse them for your snacks weekly. The initial investment saves you lots of money in the long run because you don’t have to buy throw away Ziplocs anymore. Like, ever. And they are easy to clean too.

Lunch bag

If you are on the go and work has you living out of your car, then this is a worthwhile investment.  It allows you to pack multiple meals, snacks and keep them cold all day.

Lunch Bots

I am a fan of Lunchbots products all around. I bought my first container 4 years ago when my daughter was in preschool for a safe and dishwasher friendly options. We still use it today.  I’ve purchased more along the way for my son and hubby. These are awesome for kids meal prep and if you stick them in the fridge overnight, it helps keep your food cool all day.

Dry erase markers

Who thought these would be on my meal prep must-haves list? The finishing touch of meal prep is labeling your food, quantities, and put the date you made the meal on them. No matter what type of container your food is stored in, using dry erase markers makes it easy to label and reuse.  These are a must for meal prep and are often overlooked.

Make meal prep simple and invest in things that make your life easier. Changing habits is a long-term investment so commit yourself to the process and create an environment for success…which includes meal prep must-haves.

Creating a relationship with food that lasts is about forming habits, putting in the work and investing in your health.  Long-term results do not come from fad diets that produce overnight results.  Meal planning and prepping is a skill and habit that is 100% worthwhile.

These steps are the basic framework for success but I’ve put together a whole lot more in my Meal Prep Hero Guide.  In it, I will provide you a grocery list and walk you through one week’s of meal prep from start to finish AND provide you two weeks more of meal ideas.  It also included details on safe methods of preparation and storage, a grocery shopping and meal planning template and some detailed tips not included in this post.

Ready to learn how to implement these steps?  BUY my guide to becoming the hero of your own meal prep HERE.

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWALK

 

 

What are macros?

There have been many food experiences in my life that have completely changed my perspective on food.

The first came when I had my second baby and suddenly acquired a food sensitivity to gluten postpartum.  It literally rocked my world and led me on my gluten free journey (which I’ve ended up being quite grateful for).

The second experience stemmed from when I immersed myself in the Paleo lifestyle because it seemed to be the easiest way to become gluten-free.  Instead of really understanding the values of food, it was easiest for me to pick between a Yes and No list of foods without any limitations in daily intake or quantity.  Although my body felt better and this food experience greatly improved my understanding of what real, whole foods were, it left me heavier on the scale, exhausted after WODs (workout of the day) and in desperate need of afternoon naps.

It wasn’t until I discovered macronutrient tracking that I truly brought all the pieces together in my own food awareness to dive deep into food values and understanding.  Each of these experiences shaped my knowledge of food, my understanding of what my body needs and how it best performs.

Tracking my macronutrient intake has been the biggest shift of all of these experiences as a person, as a coach and as a mom in desperate need of-of gaining her confidence back. I am frequently asked “What are macros?”  so this post seeks to bring it all together in one comprehensive guide.  If you want to download it now you can click HERE to skip ahead and have it nice and handy.

This guide is divided into the following parts so feel free to click below to jump ahead to the part you want.

What are macros?

Calculating your TDEE

Calculating your target macros

Tips to getting started

 

What Are Macros?

So what are macros? Macro Tracking, also known as flexible eating, is a scientific approach to using a target system to record your macronutrient intake to maximize your nutrition goals. Macronutrients or macros for short are the body’s building blocks including carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

By consuming specific ratios of macronutrients, your body can maximize metabolic capacity to hit your nutritional goals including fat loss, muscle gain, performance gains or day to day energy increases.  (Click HERE to get right to the steps that will help you calculate your macro ratios.)

Flexible eating is personal. Each person’s body runs on a unique set of macros that are determined by current intake, nutritional goals, age, and gender.

The beauty (and in all honesty, the sometimes demise) lies in the lack of a required food list.  You are in control of what foods you take in and are forced to learn how to live around food, understand portion control and navigate life around the foods you love.

In the macro tracking world, so much slang has come from the approach like:

“Macro tracker”

“What are the macros on that?”

“Dial in your macros”

“Adjust your macros”

 

They all lead back to one thing…learning how to increase food awareness.

What Are Macros: The Reality

The reality though is that tracking your intake is so much more than just food budgeting (and my client success stories will attest to that).  The knowledge acquired through the process empowers you to find freedom in food, say “buh-bye” to food guilt and often banish a life of yo-yo dieting.

What Are Macros: The Scientific Basics   

So what are macros when it comes to science? Food is made from macronutrients and micronutrients. You get your “macros” from the food you eat.  Everybody eats “macros.”

Macronutrients are molecules our bodies require in large amounts to create energy, grow and develop. They come in the form of protein, carbohydrates and fat, each of which provides its own unique function within the body.               Micronutrients are chemicals or substances our bodies require in trace amounts to also grow and develop. Examples include vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium and iron and vitamins A, D and E to name a few.

Both macronutrients and micronutrients come from the food we take into our bodies. We must supply our bodies with nutrient dense sources to make sure we are getting enough of both macro and micronutrients.

Energy In Macronutrients   

Each macronutrient has a value of energy it provides when consumed

Protein: 4 kcal/gram

Carbohydrates: 4 Kcal/gram

Fat: 9 Kcal/gram

 

That means if a food item has …

20 grams of protein= 80 Kcal

35 grams of carbohydrates= 140 Kcals

8 grams of fat= 72 Kcals

The total value of 292 Kcal of energy is provided for that serving between all three macronutrients.

Not only are their energy values different, so are their purpose within the body. Each macronutrient plays a unique role within the body and is thus required in differing amounts depending on an individual’s needs.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy currency. We take in carbohydrates and convert them into energy for growth, development and daily tasks in the form of glucose.  We also store glucose in the form of glycogen for the body as a storage energy reservoir.  I liken it to a big ol’ diesel truck that has dual gas tanks.  When the first runs out, glucose, the second tank kicks in as back up, glycogen.

The amount of carbohydrate necessary in the diet is dependent upon each individuals activity level, body type, metabolism, and DNA.  It is also a massively hot topic in the nutrition world because of the plethora of anti-carb and pro-carb research that exists.

Carbohydrates come in 2 forms, simple and complex.  Simple carbs are those that are rapidly digested and can be used by the body as energy quickly.  Examples are things like sugar, syrups, baked goods, cereals, and candy.  Its counterpart is the complex carb, which is broken down by the body at a slower rate for energy, typically because it has higher fiber content.  Examples include sweet potatoes, brown rice, legumes, dairy, whole grain pasta and bread, most fruits and vegetables.  If you would like a super handy real food list to hang on your fridge as a reminder of what foods fall into which macronutrient category you can download it HERE.

The Glycemic Index is a scale used to show us how quickly certain carbohydrates are converted to glucose and are released into the bloodstream.  The more glucose that reaches the bloodstream the higher the GI and the opposite being Low GI foods.  Check out this link for a list of foods and their GI:

Generally speaking, complex carbs are where the majority of your intake should be.

Why?

They are digested at a slower rate and thus help to maintain blood sugar levels. They are also more filling because their fiber content is higher and tend to carry more micronutrient density.

 

Fats

Fat provides cushion and protection to the body and at a cellular level. Fats are also crucial to hormone regulation and absorption of micronutrients.

Fats come in two forms: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat, often deemed the “bad” fat, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Examples of unsaturated fat includes fat from animal products, dairy, butter and coconut (coconut oil).  Unsaturated fat is often labeled as the “good”fat as it can reduce cholesterol levels when replacing saturated fat in the diet.  Samples of unsaturated fats include nuts, seeds and avocado.

 

Protein

Protein is used to build muscle…we all know that.  It is also crucial in the creation of enzymes, regulating immune building as well as support hair, skin and nail growth. When the body is made up of a greater amount of lean protein, metabolic rate is higher and thus improves fat loss.    Foods that are rich in protein include chicken, fish, turkey, dairy and beans.

But how much protein do you really need to consume to achieve your goal? That largely depends on your current weight, eating habits, activity level and goals.

The first place to begin is to establish your protein intake based on your current weight. From there, the amount of carbohydrates and fats you take in is loosely based on goals and food preferences.

Where Do I Start?

This is the juicy part.  The “how-to” create your targets is widely sought after in order to determine the magic numbers that will lead you to success.

Spoiler Alert: there are a whole lot of ways to determine macro targets that will bring you success.

Yes..it’s true. The bottom line in any nutritional goal is setting your intake so that it supports your goal.  Your macro ratios should be created based on the energy requirements of your goals. No matter what a fad diet/gimmick may advertise, the only way weight loss happens is when a caloric deficit is created.  I love this article by Precision Nutrition that breaks down the concept of energy expenditure so well.

Determine your TDEE

You must first understand what your overall calorie needs are by establishing your TDEE or total daily energy expenditure.  All that means is how many calories you burn each day in all of your activities including exercise and rest. TDEE is a very dynamic number as your metabolic rate shifts each day depending on how active you are.  The goal is to target in on it the best you can with the knowledge you have.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is how much energy our body uses while at rest.  In other words, these are the calories your body needs for basic survival tasks like breathing, the beating of your heart, digestion and brain function.

 

To calculate use the following equation (called the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation):

Males: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5= kcal/day

Females: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161= kcal/day

 

Determine your level of activity

Part of your TDEE is your level of activity or fitness.  You do not have to work out 6 times a week to lose weight.  However, being physically active has a host of health benefits including increased energy expenditure that may help you accomplish your goal a bit faster.

Select which multiplier fits your activity level:

Sedentary (1.2): Sits most of the day, walks around for household chores and work tasks

Light (1.35): Walks or moves the body 1-2 times per week

Moderate(1.5): Exercises 3-4 times per week at a moderate intensity and live an active lifestyle

Highly active (1.75): Trains 5-6 times per week at a high intensity with an active lifestyle

Elite athlete (1.9): Trains 5-6 days a week with multiple training sessions

Determine total TDEE

Once you determine your activity multiplier, you can establish your total daily energy expenditure:

TDEE= BMR x activity multiplier

 

Let’s look at an example:

Brooke is a 200 (90 kg) pound female, is 37 years old and 5’2” tall (158 cm).  She does Crossfit 3x a week and yoga once per week and has a job where she moves around a decent amount. She also has a weight loss goal.

 

Her BMR will look like this:

Females: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161= kcal/day

(10 x 200) + (6.25 x 158) – (5 x 37) – 161=

990 + 987.5 – 185 -161=1631.5

 

This means that she needs 1631.6 kcal/day for her basic metabolic functions not including activity.

We then take her BMR and multiply it by the activity multiple that fits her fitness frequency, 1.5.

1631.5 x 1.5=2445 kcal

 

That means that to maintain her current weight, 2445 calories will support that.  But wait — she doesn’t want to maintain, she wants to lose. To do that she must create a calorie deficit each day to achieve her goal.  By reducing her intake 500 calories to 1945, she would see roughly one pound of loss per week initially.  Of course, this is all on paper equations that don’t take in account the many variables of weight loss.

If a person had the strength or composition goals to put on muscle, then creating a calorie surplus would be the goal.  After calculating TDEE that person would need to consume over their TDEE to achieve weight gain.

                       

Establishing macronutrient targets

Once you have a rough estimate of your TDEE, you can bring to zone in on the ratios of macronutrients you need to accomplish your goal.

The first place to start: protein.

Research supports roughly .7-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  This is a hug range and is dependent on your current learn mass, goals and current protein intake.

If you have a large amount of body weight to lose, use your estimated target goal weight instead of your current weight.  I’ve found that people who fall into this category are defeated by how much protein they must try to get in if their current body weight is used and give up quickly.

A sedentary to the lightly active person may consume on the lower end of the range, while a highly active person with a large amount of lean muscle mass would consume on the higher range.

Using Brooke (from above) who has a fifty-pound loss goal and is moderately active:

150 lbs x .85= 130 lb protein target (I rounded up for simplicity)

 

Carbohydrate and Fat targets

Setting the remaining portion of your targets can be done in so many different ways.  My focus as a coach is looking at what the person’s lifestyle is, what their food preferences are and their current habits when I set the remaining portions.  As I said above, the most important part is to create a calorie deficit to produce results.

For Brooke, she is a moderately active person who needs carbohydrate.

If we use her total TDEE 2773 and subtract roughly 500 calories to create a deficit, her daily target initially would be 2200 calories.  I say initially because as she loses weight that will cause the equation to shift and she will need less.

Because protein has a value of 4 kcal/gram:

130g of protein x 4    kcal/gram= 520 kcal per day will be consumed in protein

 

After protein, carbohydrate and fat targets need to be set. A great place to start is with a moderate ratio of 30% protein, with a fat set in the 25-30% range for weight loss and 30-35% range for strength/performance gains with a remaining percentage going towards carbohydrates.

Coming back to Brooke who has a fat loss goal, let’s set her fat intake on the higher side for weight loss around 30%.

 

1945 x .30= 583

Because one gram of fat is 9 kcal/gram, Brooke would start by consuming

583kcal/9g/kcal= 65g of fat

 

Now that 520 kcal are targeted towards protein and 583kcal will be used for her fat target, that leaves 840 kcal left for carbohydrate.

840 kcal/4g/Kcal= 210g of carbohydrate as her target.

Leaving Brooke’s final targets:

Protein: 130 grams

Carbohydrate: 210 grams

Fat: 64 grams 

 

Disclaimer

Using the data collected from a person’s current eating habits gives so much insight into the potential success of the targeted numbers created from an equation. In our hypothetical setup for Brooke, so much would change if we discover Brooke was actually way under eating at around 1200 kcal per day.  She would then be a candidate for a metabolic rebuild and reverse diet.  In addition, if she was barely eating 30-40 grams of protein initially, 130 grams might seem impossible initially.  All of these variables make setting initial targets a bit more subjective than what is done with pen and paper.  These equations are merely starting points to begin your macro tracking journey.

Just like any nutritional lifestyle, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.  Some people feel better with higher fat, higher carb or lower fat or lower carb.  SO much of how the targets are set depends on your lifestyle and your current eating habits.

What’s Next?

Once you have established some baseline targets, start learning by using an app like MyFitnessPal (my favorite) to learn more about your food habits and values.

After creating an account, you will set your daily target goals. The act of trying to do this helps create food awareness and understanding what the ultimate goal is.

MyFitnessPal has a host of really cool tips and tricks that make the tracking process less tedious.  You can read about these tips HERE.

Put it in perspective

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-evaaa.

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 macronutrient 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 are 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 a 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, ice cream 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.

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 that 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.)

You Will Have Struggles

Like any nutritional endeavor, it won’t always be puppies and unicorns. There are going to be moments you question the process and feel like you’ve hit a roadblock.

I have found that there are a few common struggles that many people encounter along the way. Let me save you time RIGHT NOW….here they are and here is how you can overcome them.

Always Have a Goal in Mind

Before beginning any nutritional journey, you must have a vision of the road ahead. To guarantee success, determine what you want out of your nutritional journey, write it down and take action towards it. Your goal must be realistic, specific and measurable.

Establishing a “why” at the start of your journey keeps you motivated and allows you to gain momentum along your journey. When my own clients begin to forget their “why”, they begin to lose focus of that ever-changing finish line. When I ask them to reassess their why, their motivation and drive returns.

Measure to Become Food Aware

Learning to track your macros is a journey to becoming food aware. It is learning to weigh and measure now so that you can acquire a skill set to help you achieve your goals in life.

Investing in a food scale and accurate measuring devices will allow you to begin to learn to eyeball accurate portion sizes. Seeing actual measurements in front of you provides a major “ah-ha” moment to your previous version of portion sizing. Although this may seem like a tedious job, I guarantee the insight and skill gained from doing so are extremely worthwhile.

Use an App

Research has proven time and time again that the number one reason a nutritional strategy is effective is due to increased accountability. Whether that accountability comes from a diary, an app, a friend or a coach, it will greatly increase your success rate.

I require all my clients to use the MyFitnessPal app to log their food and increase their awareness; the MFP app allows you to individualize your macronutrient goals. The app also offers a huge database of food for meals out and for some of your grocery store favorites to simplify the logging process.

I have stuck with the free version of the app for years and it works wonders. If you want to be able to dial in your goals, to be extremely specific and have access to bonus features, a premium version is also available for a monthly fee. As you begin to log your intake, learn to assess food values and learn what is really inside your food.

BEWARE: MFP is a huge database of both verified nutritional values and those inputted by the general public; ensure the selections you make are realistic. It is always a great idea to double check the macro values. There are also some super simple tips that I have on my blog that will help you navigate MFP with much greater ease.

Backwards Plan

The single most important tip that I share with my clients is what I call “the backwards plan.” Just like a monthly budget, you must learn to “pay” the necessities first. Similarly, learning to take a few minutes each evening to plan for the next day, starting with dinner and working up to breakfast is a huge win in the success box. Start with protein and dinner. Once the necessities have been filled, you can plug in the “fun money” options like carbs and fats.

Flying by the seat of your pants will leave you being a reactive eater. By planning ahead, you shift to proactive eating and put yourself in control of the day’s outcome. If you are craving a treat, pre-log it and plan for it in your day. If you have a social event or a dinner out, plan ahead for what you’d like to enjoy and then work backwards to assure your macros will be satisfied for the day.

Understand the impact of alcohol                                

Is alcohol a macronutrient?  

Yes…and no. It isn’t a macro necessary for survival (but darn it don’t you wish it was) but it is one that has caloric value. There are many ways to track the macronutrient value of alcohol but it all boils down to consistency.

So…whydoes not track the carbs on the label?

Labels don’t account for pure ethanol contained within the beverage, so macros on the label don’t match the calorie per serving guide.

I have my clients track alcohol as a carbohydrate by taking the total caloric value and dividing it by 4 kcal/gram.

A beer containing 100 calories (100/4) would yield 25 grams of carbs

There are other ways to track by tracking it as 7 Kcal/gram

That same beer tracked this way (100/7) would yield roughly 15 grams of carbohydrate.

 

Regardless of how you track alcohol, the biggest piece is consistency. Chose the way that works well for you and stick with it.               

Be easy on yourself

Like any new life endeavor, it takes time to adjust, learn, and get in a groove. I inform clients that around the 30-day mark they will start to really find a rhythm in planning their day.

There will be days where you hit those targets dead on and others where you fall short or go over. Go easy on yourself and learn to celebrate all the small victories along the way. Steady progress is still that…PROGRESS.

Focus on macros, not calories

Not all calories are created equal. The old notion of setting a caloric intake and eating whatever combination of foods to arrive at a particular calorie count does not account for each person’s unique macronutrient needs.

A person may eat an extremely high fat intake to satisfy a “calorie” goal, but still be deficient in protein and lack energy without any carbs. Learning to identify the combination of nutrients that fits your body, activity, lifestyle and food preference takes time and is key to achieving your nutritional goals.

When you hit your macronutrient goals, your calories will fall in line. Learning to assess the value of the food you take in begins to provide purpose in its consumption and timing.

Increase diversity

Don’t get stuck in a rut of eating the same thing day in and day out. Food boredom will likely set in and then you are likely to take a trip to your pantry for an entire package of Double Stuffed Oreos.

Variety breeds sustainability. Learn to include more in your diet to keep you motivated. When you frequently change up your food stimulus, you maintain high motivation and compliance.

Add new spices and fresh herbs, try a new lean protein for dinner this week or add in a new recipe into your weekly lineup. Doing so will break the monotony of food regularity and keep you feeling like your meal choices are fresh and new!

Seek the 90/10

Above all, seek the 90/10. The reality is that the best nutritional strategy for you is the one you can stick with. Tracking macros are effective because it allows you to find balance in your relationship with food and eliminate food guilt.

The 90/10 rule means to seek to consume 90% whole real foods each day and 10% something you love. The 10% helps you maintain the 90% and helps preserve compliance. If you love dark chocolate (like me), then plan for a bit of dark chocolate in your day so you can satisfy that craving and maintain the other 90% of your day with nutrient dense food.

 

How do you know if macro tracking is a right fit for you right now?

Tracking is right for you if:

  1. You understand the basic values of food and are ready to dive deeper
  2. You are ready to go beyond the basics of nutrition
  3. You can’t thrive off of a “food list”
  4. You have a specific goal
  5. You have time in your life to make your nutrition a priority
  6. You are DONE with yo-yo dieting and fad diets and are ready for a sustainable approach to eating

 

Tracking your macros is not a static strategy for weight loss or gain. Tracking your macros is a dynamic strategy that shifts weekly depending on the body’s response. Having a coach to communicate with regularly provides the opportunity to make the needed adjustments to push for success. Being able to dive into a more scientific dialogue with a coach provides huge value to your understanding of the body.

When you find balance in your relationship with food, there is great longevity. It takes time to learn and invest in the skills necessary to maneuver through life with food balance. Invest in learning to make your health (link to food awareness post?) a priority in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable for you.

               Work Hard Be Kind,                

AWalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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