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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There is no perfect path: Do it anyway

There is no such thing as a perfect plan

I was recently chatting with my brother and sister-in-law about a trip to Vegas we took years ago, “PK” (that’s pre-kids for you non-parents out there).  They were recalling hysterical memories and moments of disaster and I was struggling to recall any of it.  I began to try to really tap into the memories and I felt like I had to burn way too many calories to dig deep into the memory vault to recall the trip.

I got a horrible feeling in my gut and quickly realized why those memories had been buried and tucked away.

I was pregnant on that trip, the first time ever, roughly 12 weeks.  I didn’t have the same “Vegas” experience they did. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol, didn’t get enough rest and was buried beneath a horrible gut feeling that something was wrong with the pregnancy.

After returning and a doctor’s appointment a few weeks later, my gut feeling was confirmed.  There was no heartbeat anymore.

When the doctor confirmed it, the room began to slip away, my vision blurred, my heart sank and I literally couldn’t move.  I heard my husband and the doctor talking but couldn’t make out their words, instead, it felt like white noise. To say I was devastated was an understatement.

I know you’ve felt that devastation, perhaps far greater than mine, one that strips all of your dreams away in the blink of an eye?

 

I make plans

I had a freakin’ plan for my life! I was going to get pregnant timed perfectly to have a spring baby on a teacher’s schedule (as I was a high school teacher at that time).  I was going to have a perfectly healthy baby on my schedule and on my terms.

I blamed myself. I didn’t rest enough, I didn’t eat right and I hated myself for going on a vacation with the family that left me staying up too late.  We don’t talk about this enough.  33% of women share my experience and instead of grace for ourselves, our immediate reaction is that it is our fault as women, that our bodies failed us.

This experience sent me into a downward spiral for weeks, even months.  I could barely move from the couch or go to work.  My friends an family didn’t know what to say to console me and I was drowning in the fear of never having a child of my own.  Looking back, I realize that my body did exactly what it was designed to do.  BUT when you are immersed in excitement, love, and potential, that purpose isn’t clear.

I plan and control everything in my life. This event was not the path I had imagined, it was not in my control.  I had a vision of a white picket fence, starting a family when I wanted and everything falling into place…perfectly.  I had no idea that this would happen again and again during my trials of trying to become pregnant.  My plan had fallen to pieces.

 

Control what is within your control

I had zero control of whether or not it was my time to become a mother.  Maybe you are spiritual or maybe you are still trying to discover your own spirituality (I’ll admit this is my current place), but the plan was not my own.  That became glaring.

After crawling into a deep hole, I realized what was my own, was how I could react to what was in my control.  I could choose to lead the life with anger, a lack of understanding and a desire to gain even more control.

Instead, I dug deep and with support chose to embrace the hurdles within my plan. Over time I did deep work to shift my focus to the things that mattered in the journey towards parenting.  Eating well, resting well, get financially fit, being mature enough to handle parenting and above all, preparing our marriage for what parenting would look and feel like.

Those were the things I could control.  I began to appreciate the windy path that leads me to parent because it made me want it SO much more.  I focused on my wellness both physically and mentally and zoned in on all the good things going on in my life, with trust that when the time was right, I would someday be a mom.

And guess what?

I did.

I became a mom of two awesome children, but not on the path I ever predicted.  It wasn’t easy.  In all honesty, some days I could barely function.  There were times I couldn’t be around pregnant women or new babies.  It hurt me to the core.

 

Life will always happen

How do my losses as a mother correlate to my work as a nutrition coach?  I see this same parallel every day.  I hear from clients all the time that “life happened” during the week and it derailed their focus and didn’t help them get closer to their goals or maintain their “plan.”

From my perspective, that is the perfect time to learn and grow as that is real life.  Life will always happen and that will challenge the straight path you envision to get to your goals.

There is no perfect path on your journey towards success.  We so desperately want the path to be smooth with street signs pointing perfectly to our destination.  But guess what?  It never is, because it won’t really teach us anything if that were the case.

There is deep work required to overcome the notion that life will be perfect.  The reality is: it won’t ever be perfect.  You are going to be thrown curve balls.  You can step up to the plate to hit or never show up for the game at all.  But better to strike out than to never have swung at all.  Life will always happen.

 

We learn from the practice

If I told clients exactly how long to sleep, how much water to drink, how much to train, made their food for them, did their grocery shopping, etc. …would they really progress?  Sure, they will see results but will it ever really get them to that happy long-term place they hope to maintain?

For some, maybe.  But it would teach them ZERO about food awareness, how to deal with social temptation and how to truly fuel their body for the goals they have.

The path towards healthy living will have temptation, social events, a lack of willpower, peer pressure, exhaustion or whatever challenge you can imagine.  It is how we respond to these hurdles that set us apart from the doers and those that never try to overcome.

When we can execute effective nutritional practices in our own home, it’s kind of like the practice before the big game.  It provides us a bubble to learn from to guide our understanding of food awareness.

When opportunities arise to leave that bubble, it’s game time.  It’s a chance to put into play all the practice we’ve showed up for.  It’s an opportunity to control the things you can and overcome the things you can’t.  This is part of the plan we can’t always control.  This is the part of the plan that forces you to show up and grow from the experience.

 

We grow from being pushed to the outer limits of our experience

We learn far more from experiences that test us and challenge us.  If we live life tucked into our cozy place then we never push the threshold of experience to get better.  When we are provided an opportunity to react to a situation that challenges us it gives us the experience to grow and the mental fortitude to battle through the next fight.

A plan is intended to be the framework that provides intention for success.  When we embrace the notion that the plan will be challenged, it begins to open our eyes to the possibility of learning.  It shows us that we can achieve far more than we expected.  It gives us the confidence to know that we have the power to take on any detour that might fall into our path and still come out on top.

 

There is no perfect time to start

Waiting around to “start” is a waste of time.  It creates unneeded anticipation and a false sense of success.  There is no perfect time to start whatever endeavor you are thinking of beginning; health, food, money or relationships.  Even when you think the path is clear ahead, it won’t be.  Something will be thrown on the path that will slow your progress and take you to a place you didn’t expect.

It’s designed that way for a reason.  To test your commitment, your purpose, and your goal.  Above all, it makes you reflect on how badly you want it.

Stop letting the windy road take you away from your goals.  You can’t control the unforeseen but you can control your reaction to it.  You can control your food choices when you have a last minute client dinner.  You can control what you order through a drive through after the kids’ practice runs too late.  AND you can control your day-to-day consistency and commitment to your end goal.

Getting started requires you to invest in yourself and realize you are worthy of it. That can happen at any moment of the day.

I am here to tell you and show you in many ways, that the plan is never perfect.  I’ve learned it in my quest to become a mother, as a mom and wife, as a coach and now as a business owner.  Furthermore, it’s something I work on with clients every single week.

Their stories of perseverance when their plan was nothing like they intended show their ability to grow and learn how to navigate life when it comes to you in a way you didn’t expect.

Embracing the corkscrew of life to reach your goals is what provides you a chance to grow and evolve.  Those experiences leave us with more confidence and wisdom to remind us that we are ready for more.

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

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Is a Fitbit worth it?

We are obsessed with numbers as a culture and I’m willing to admit, I’m right in there with that addiction.  I love numbers, data, dealing with the black and white and visibly seeing progress.  As a nutrition coach, I am bombarded with questions about calorie intake and expenditure and often along with it, fitness tracking devices.

Spoiler alert:  Fitness trackers don’t cause weight loss or healthier lifestyles.  That my friend is 100% in your control.

However, a fitness tracker such as a Fitbit (or another brand) can be an amazing supplement to your health goals. The bigger question remains: Is a Fitbit worth the money?

What is a Fitbit?

A physical activity tracker is a watch-like gadget that allows you to track and monitor progress in every aspect of life.  It allows you to track your calorie expenditure (how many calories you burn in a day) through regular activity and exercise.

It can also track your sleep patterns. Some devices allow you to track your heart rate, include GPS and the ability to send and receive text and phone alerts. It can also sync with and allow you to track your daily caloric intake (the food you eat).  The latter is where much of my experience lay.

How does a Fitbit work?

Throughout the day, these simple watches can monitor how many steps you take, calories you burn, heart rate and hours of sleep.  They combine an OLED (an organic light emitting diode), altimeter (that senses height change), a heart rate monitor, and lots of personal metrics to send to you a melting pot of data about your fitness (or lack thereof) for the day.

What are the pros to a tracking gadget?

Increased Accountability

Fitness trackers hold people accountable, not only to themselves but also their friends.  Often times you can join competitions and networks to help support your fitness and challenge each other to increases activity. For some people, this makes trackers like the FitBit worth the money alone.

Motivation

Immediate feedback is powerful in health and fitness. The opportunity to set small achievable targets and get a tiny little celebration from the tracking device when you achieve them is motivating.  Being able to sync the device to a program on your phone that shows you progress and milestones perpetuates continued success for many people.

We work on this big time in my FREE 7 Day Feel Amazing Naked Challenge that you can join HERE.

Increases Body Movement

I know you have them, friends, who are 100% obsessed with hitting their 10,000 step daily goal. I have a little guy at home that only wanted a kid tracker from Santa. Santa listened and even he gets stoked when his Garmin Vivofit chimes when he crushes his 8000 step goal.  This is a really awesome gift to motivate a kid to get moving and all his friends ask him about it constantly. For under $40, Santa was a genius!

The reality is that although the device increases movement, there is no guarantee that 10,000 steps will help you achieve your current health goals. With that being said, I am 100% in support of anything that helps people get their body moving more.

We have shifted into such a sedentary lifestyle that any motivation to increase overall health is a good one in my book. So buy one for Grandma who sits too long or your friend who recently moved to a desk job if it lights a fire under them to move their body. What makes Fitbit worth the money is people using it to its fullest potential, and being more active really helps.

Even the value of something so simple as walking can have a profound impact on health.  To see the value, take a look at the chart provided HERE at WellKeptBody.com that highlights the impact of walking daily based on distance traveled and body weight.

What are the cons to a Fitbit?

Accuracy

It is difficult to really know if the calories and distance on the tracker are accurate. It is difficult to include biometrics and algorithms that guarantee accuracy in data for the masses.

Not for the Elite Athlete

Most of these devices are geared for the average person.  They allow you to track activity, food, weight, sleep and some allow heart rate.  If you are an elite or highly competitive runner, it is worthwhile to seek out a more specialized tracking tool.

True Results

Although tracking devices can be awesome to increase motivation and monitor progress, real results come from putting in the work. The use of a Fitbit or other tracking tool is merely a bonus to help monitor progress and make the journey a bit more enjoyable.

Why Is FitBit Different?

Have you heard the story about the creation of Fitbit the company?  It’s pretty cool. In a nutshell, two guys with big thoughts created a product with tiny sensors that revolutionized the health industry.

What is valuable about Fitbit as a whole is that they have created a line of products that meet the needs of various fitness levels. In addition, in a review of various fitness trackers, Fitbit came out on top for accuracy.

Fitbit Products

The Fitbit Flex and Alta are baseline tracking devices that allow you monitor steps and basic sleep timing and are at a relatively low price point under $100.

A step up in the Fitbit line are the Alta HR and Charge HR which include the same features as their lower models but also allow you to get text and call notifications as well as monitor heart rate and which can be a massive benefit to fitness and health awareness. They retail for just over $100.

At the top of the Fitbit product line is the Blaze which can account for multiple fitness types but also includes GPS connection options. It has a larger screen and has a real watch-like feel and face which many prefer.

Their newest product (recently replacing the Surge), the Ionic, has all of the features of the Blaze but is the only product that also has built-in GPS, is waterproof, accepts text and phone, and stores music.  All of these features help make it a strong rival of the Apple Watch.  The Ionic retails for roughly $270 which can potentially be a great investment in your health and lifestyle if used consistently.

Syncing with a food accountability tool

I require most of my clients to use a digital food journal to increase accountability.  If you want to learn more about my favorite one and some of my secret tips, you can visit them here. The ability to sync the device with MyFitnessPal and have an all-in-one place to assess food and activity is for sure a very exciting option for those wanting to really change their lifestyle.

From a coaching perspective

Clients come to me with many questions in regards to their daily calorie burn and its relation to food.  The challenge I have with the Fitbit and other similar tools is its inability to decipher the intensity of exercise and true type of movement to determine calorie expenditure.

Beyond that, when synced with a program like MyFitnessPal, it automatically increases the daily target macros or calories to accommodate for calories expended.  If weight loss is the goal, this isn’t an accurate assessment of calorie restriction and could be misleading.

When I work with clients, I create target macros which include their current level of activity.  Therefore, I require them to shut this feature off in their MyFitnessPal account settings. Proceed with caution if you see that step goal becoming a license to eat more food if weight loss is your ultimate destination. If you are not careful, you might begin to actually see the scale tip in the opposing direction.

Need help on your quest to create a healthier you? Join our  FREE 7 Day Feel Amazing Naked Challenge HERE.

What about the Apple Watch or the Garmin?

If you are an Apple enthusiast, there is something to be said for the Apple Watch as an option. It is sleek, compatible with your iPhone and all of your awesome Apple products. But it does come at stepper price point of $320-399.

I have many clients who share with me how powerful its’ features are. From the ability to sync to a scale, the ability to stream music, and it’s zillions of other awesome features including smart coaching, it is hard to compete with at the higher price point.

Also worth mentioning is the Garmin. The basic Garmin Forerunner was actually my first ever fitness tracker. I used it years ago when I began to run and increase distance for my marathon. Although a very basic model at the time, it was crucial for better understanding my pace and being aware of my distances. The Garmin Forerunner of today has come along way and is an awesome companion for a runner who is ready to put on some miles.

Is a Fitbit Worth The Money?

So, is Fitbit worth the money? Only you know. Your greatest return on investment to your health is moving your body and being mindful of what you put into your mouth.  There is no device that can be substituted for building healthy habits and gaining food awareness.

A fitness tracker can be a really fun way to support your health journey and add the bonus motivation and accountability you will need.  And if you are going to wear a watch anyway, why not make that thing darn handy and provide you lots of bonus data to help you reflect on your overall health?

To make the Fitbit worth the money for me, my pick is the Fitbit Charge 2. I love it for the components it includes the simple design and price point for this budget conscious girl. It retails for only $119.  If you want a major smartwatch then the Apple Watch, is superior to any others on the market like it.

I’d love to hear from you, do you have a fitness tracker?

What is your favorite feature?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

 

 

 

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

change your health in 2018

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

A Quick Breakdown

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

 

But why doesn’t everybody do them?

 

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

change your health 2018 pinterest

 

Where do you start?

Do I eat Carbs?

Should I exercise 2 or 7 seven times a week?

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

 

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

 

Prepare Your Own Food

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

Create Accountability

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

Throw Away Trigger Foods (for now)

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

Drink More Water

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

Eat Real Food

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

Add 1-2 serving of vegetables into your day

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

Plan Ahead

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

Move Your Body

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

 

Learn Portion Sizing

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

Eat More Protein

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

Log Your Food Intake to Become More Food Aware.

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

Get More Sleep

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

Reduce Stress

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

Pay Attention to Hunger Cues

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

Invest in Understanding Nutritional Labels

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

Always Have Healthy On the Go Snacks

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

Resistance Training

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

Create a Weekly Menu

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

Make it a Family Affair

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

Rethink Your Drink

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

Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

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

Set goals

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

 

Identify Your “Why”

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

 

Reward Yourself

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

Realize it Isn’t “All or Nothing”

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

 

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

 

Ready to kickstart your health right now?

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

 

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

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Client Success Story: The Weight Lifter

Client Success Story:  The Weight Lifter

Age: 33

Timeline: 1 Year

 

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

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

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

 

Here is her story:

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

What’s next?

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

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

nutrition-ecourse

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Menu Ideas To Inspire You #1: Fall Edition

Weekly Menu To Inspire You #1: Fall Edition

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

 

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

 

Nothing Fancy

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

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

 

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

 

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

Menu ideas to inspire you:

Monday: Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

 

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

 

 

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday with Turkey Tacos

Photo courtesy of www.drhyman.com

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

 

Wednesday: Skinnytaste Blissful Butternut Squash

Photo courtesy of www.skinnytaste.com

 

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

 

Thursday: Steak and Potatoes

Photo courtesy of www.skinnytaste.com

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

 

Friday: PaleOMG BBQ Chicken Casserole

Photo courtesy of www.paleomg.com

 

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

 

Saturday: White Turkey Chili

Photo courtesy of www.thekitchn.com

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

Sunday: Sunday Funday Fajita “Nachos”

Photo courtesy of www.fitfoodiefinds.com

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

 

Post in the comments below your favorite recipe from above.

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

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

nutrition-ecourse

 

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Progress Is In Imperfection

Progress In Imperfection

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

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

But…I am just not that girl.

I never will be.

And that is okay.

 

Seeking Feedback

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

 

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

 

The following question was asked in the survey:

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

 

One response hit me in the gut.

 

The response read:

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

WOAH!  

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

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

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

 

My girlfriend has the creative planner gift.

 

My gift is food.

My Food Game

Food…really? That’s my strength?

 

Well kind of…..

 

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

 

The Truth

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

 

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

 

There are days I have ZERO vegetables.  

 

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

 

There are times I drink too much wine.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Difference

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

 

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

 

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

 

The answer is consistency.

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

 

In fact, I thrive on it.

 

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

 

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

Power

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

Power.

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

When Nutrition Is Not Your Thing

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

 

Nurture Areas That Aren’t Your Thing

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

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

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

5 Advantages to Homemade Food

As a society, we are failing.

We are failing to make our health a priority.

We are failing to even assess our health.

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

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

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

Number One Investment

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

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

That investment is to make homemade food.

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

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

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

I call B.S.

Don’t confuse priority for time

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

If you don’t know how to begin to meal prep, you can read my blog post HERE that will walk you through it in four easy steps.

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

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

5 Reasons homemade food is better

My opinion aside, there are five clear advantages to making homemade food.

1. Higher in volume, lower in calories

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

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

Let’s look at some examples.

Example #1: Tortilla Chips

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

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

 

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

 

Example #2: Overnight Oats

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

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

 

Example #3: French Fries

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

 

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

2. More micronutrient density

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

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

3. Saves cash

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

4. You are in control

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

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

5. It’s a family affair

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

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

Put It In Action

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

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

If you need a little help in starting to prepare those meals, click HERE and I will walk you through it start to finish.

I’d love to hear from you:

How often do you cook at home?

 

Cheers to food balance,

Amanda

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

Daily Grub Diary #4

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

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

I chose the later!

 

Why I Ate In A Day

Wednesday, July 26th

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

 

Breakfast:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Lunch:

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

Want to download my Trader Joe’s Shopping List?

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

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

 

Pre-Workout Snack

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

Dinner

Dinner was exceptionally amazing if I do say so myself.

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Evening Snack

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

 

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

 

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

 

Want To Download My Costco Shopping List?

Click HERE to download it now!

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Client Success Story: The Warrior

Client: The Warrior

Age: 42

Timeline: 12 Weeks

 

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

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

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

 

Here is her story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk