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Holiday Gift Ideas for a Nutrition Nut (or newbie)

Holiday Gift Ideas for a Nutrition Nut (or newbie)

Are you or do you know someone that is looking to make major health changes in their life? Or maybe you are a nutrition nut (like me!) and want some awesome gifts to make meal prep as simple and fun as you ring in a new year of great health!  Check out these holiday gift ideas that are a major win for any level of nutritional experience.

Christmas (and birthdays too) can be filled with a whole lot of mindless gift gifting.  We wait far too long to buy gifts and then succumb to convenience and buy a holiday gift that gets shoved in the back of the closet.  Or worse, said gift goes right to the Goodwill donation pile.  I am totally biased, but if you invest in giving someone a gift that is both useful and thoughtful then it is a win for everybody.

I have had the opportunity to try and tinker with many kitchen gadgets.  Some are useful but would see rare use in my own kitchen because of the size, what it prepares or cost.  I’ve created a list of a few “go-to” items that range in a price point that will add so much value to the person and kitchen you give it to this holiday season.

11 Holiday Gift Ideas for a Nutrition Nut or Newbie

1. Kitchenaid Spiralizer

The Kitchen Aide Spiralizer has been a major game changer in the kitchen for me.  After becoming gluten-free, I needed a healthy “noodle” supplement and found “Zoodles” to be just the right thing.  This Kitchenaid Spiralizer Mixer attachment was gifted to me last holiday season by my MIL who knows me well.  It can spiralize zucchini, apples, potatoes and pretty much anything your little heart desires. It also peels and cores and has several attachments to change the type of noodle made. And…my kids think it is the coolest!

2. Kitchenaid Mixer

The Kitchenaid Spiralizer can only be used if you have a Kitchenaid Mixer to use this attachment.  I have had my cute, little, canary yellow Kitchenaid mixer for years and it gets a tone of use.  It is great for baking but all of the attachments it offers tend to be the reason I use it most often.

3. Simple Spiralizer

If you don’t have a Kitchenaid Mixer, don’t worry you are still in luck. Try this hand-held spiralizer out instead.  It will accomplish the same task for you with a much lower hit to the wallet.  However, the Kitchenaid attachment is still hard to beat for the quality.

 4. Magic Bullet

I’ve used my Magic Bullet so much that it is covered in who knows what from over 11 years of marriage and two children.  It is “magic” and does the job of coffee frothing to smoothie making in one quick step, with easy clean-up and without a hefty price tag.  I also made every ounce of my kids’ baby food in it and it is still kicking!  I love all the attachments and screw on lids for to-go options.

5. Aerolatte Milk Frother

I am a coffee addict.  But I like my own version of a healthy latte that is rich, smooth and frothy.   This little gadget makes my morning coffee ritual simple and mess free! It helps you have that coffee shop coffee without all the junk and added calories! I’ve actually given this as a gift often and people LOVE it and end up using all the time!  Pair it with a sturdy mug and some delicious roasted beans and it could be an awesome gift for anybody or for your holiday gift exchange.

6. Glass Storage Containers

Every person needs these.  No matter what type of nutritional regimen you have, preparing your own food and having bonus food for leftovers makes meal prep easy and efficient.  Grab some of these glass containers so you can reheat your food right in them.  Bonus: Glass is better for you and the environment (tree hugger moment:)

7. 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. They too would make a great holiday gift stocking stuffer.

8. Instant Pot

I am seriously addicted to this one!  I prretty much use it multiple times a week now.  It is simple, combines pressure and slow cooking and a whole array of other awesome features. It literally turns frozen chicken breasts to shredded goodness in under 30 minutes… BOOMSHAKALAKA!  I also use it to make my weekly stock pile of hard boiled eggs.  You can click here to see the IP in action and to get my favorite healthy egg salad recipe.

9. Air Fryer

I am not gonna lie.  I was extremely reluctant to try the Air Fryer because I didn’t need one more thing.  This little handy gadget though 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.

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

10. Digital Food Scale

When making nutritional changes, a scale can be a major help when beginning to learn portion sizing.  This is the one I use every day and is simple and cheap!  Great for a little stocking stuffer too or to travel with. It is simple to use and has the option to change units of measure.  This is a must if you are starting your macro tracking journey.

11. Thrive Market

Last, but certianly not least, is the ultimate awesome gift for a nutrition nut or someone who is ready for transformation to healthy living. 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 for 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 who carries them.  Thrive comes in handy because I can order whatever I want and have it deleiverd 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 memerbship and it was the best ever.  Thrive would have been even better!  If you join today by clicking the banner below you can get 25% off your first order and a 30 day free trial membership.

 

And right now…take advantage of Amazon prime!!!  You can join their 30 day trial right now and use this service FREE for your holiday shopping.

Enjoy the holidays and give the gift of good health!

 

This post is filled with things I love and actually use weekly.  I would not suggest them if I didn’t beleive in them and see the value they could add in your kitchen and life.  If you click on the links above, I will receive a small commission from your purchase.  Thank you in advance and I appreciate your support to continue add valuable content.

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

13 Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

13 Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

I love the holidays…okay…well most of them.

Some I would be perfectly happy skipping over.  But Thanksgiving and Christmas, those are my jam!  I love the feel of the Fall and winter.  It brings about an emotional shift in me. Being an AZ native, winter is but a small part of our year so I embrace it fully.

As a mom, I’ve come to notice that the seasons begin to change at a perfect time.  Just when we are sick of living in swimsuits and sunscreen, the weather begins to cool.  Then, just as the Fall has us on the edge of our seats waiting for freezing temperatures and cozy nights wrapped in blankets with Christmas stories and hot cocoa, Winter emerges.

What the holiday season also brings is every single one of your favorite holiday treats and temptations.  They are usually in every corner at work, dropped off by your super sweet retired neighbor (you know you have one) and on every grocery store end cap.  It takes some serious willpower to turn away and say no to those once a year temptations.  I know there are a million “How To Navigate The Holidays” guides out there.  Many are awesome.  But many are lacking one thing.

Reality Of Life

What many holiday guides are missing is a reality.  The reality that our real focus should be the other 360 ish days of the year where consistency truly matters. Don’t allow 5 true holidays turn into 3 months of spillover from Thanksgiving to New Year’s to Super Bowl Sunday. I know it is a special time of year to spend time with family and friends and enjoy those specialties that come but once a year.  But let’s be honest here—real results come with year-round consistency and not the willpower to say no to some of grandma’s “Christmas Crack” brittle (I know you know what I am talking about).  Those things make me thankful I am gluten-free and can’t eat them.

I know darn well that most of my clients, and for that matter, most of the world, will indulge during the holidays.  Whether you track your macros or are just hoping to not gain those few magical pounds of the season, I know you can follow my simple advice to get there.  With planning, education, knowledge, and flexibility I know those that want to maintain their nutritional goals can maintain that mindset all year long…even when Aunt Ruth drops off her infamous holiday pumpkin roll (holy crap that thing is good!).

 

13 Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays:

AWalk’s Holiday Do’s and Don’ts

There are many easy ways to navigate your holiday with nutritional success.  In fact, this list of do’s and don’ts is really a great lesson for all year round at those special events and social gatherings.

Here are my holiday tips to keep your eyes on the prize throughout the holiday season.

  1. Do turn that “big meal” into just another meal.  In fact, have that small meal twice if you want.  There is no reason to eat yourself to oblivion for one meal.  Eat a small serving of the dishes you enjoy, allow time to digest and truly appreciate flavor and taste.  Then, allow yourself to go back and have a second small serving if you still have the desire later on in the day.  You will feel better with smaller portions and are less likely to overeat.
  2. Do have food awareness of portion sizeIf you are a veteran macro tracker you may be familiar with portion size.  If not, familiarize yourself with relative portion sizes so you don’t feel the need to bust out the scale at Grandma’s house.
  3. Do serve things separate.  If a recipe calls for cheese or pecans try serving them next to the dish rather than atop.  This will allow you and your guests to have better control of intake.  Super bonus is that they can also create a dish they will enjoy more instead of picking off things they don’t love.  A win for everybody!
  4. Don’t overindulge in creamy casseroles.  Cheese, heavy creams, and butter can make that unhealthy fat intake soar. Buyer Beware!
  5. Do plan for hidden sources of fat.  You won’t be in control of every entree you eat.  So plan for those hidden sources of fat by pre-logging some bonus butter or oil.
  6. Don’t expect yourself to say no to every treat.  Wine and great conversation will be a-flowing and pretty soon all inhibitions are gone and so is the entire pumpkin cheesecake.  Be honest and realize you will want something sweet to top off that amazing meal. Plan ahead for it!
  7. Do plan ahead for the things you really want to enjoy. Don’t lie to yourself and say you won’t enjoy a treat. Plan ahead and commit to a small serving, nothing more.  This will give you something to look forward to.
  8. Do have a plan.  Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. If you have a mental plan for the things at the top of your list you want to enjoy you will navigate the meal with greater success.  You will have a plan on things that you should likely avoid and can serve yourself things that best support your goals.  If you track your macros, pre-log your food and plan for the things you know you will love. If you are not, know your food boundaries and decide ahead of time the foods you plan to pass over to support your goal.
  9. Do chose protein.  Most people don’t take in enough protein on a day-to-day basis.  This variable is even further magnified at a holiday meal when dishes are usually packed with carbohydrates and fat, and protein is scarce.  Make sure protein is present on your plate.
  10. Don’t drink your calories.  Alcohol not only has hidden calories but it lowers your inhibitions and with it your food awareness.  Enjoy a few drinks, nice and slow, along with your meal.
  11. Do have a hardy and lean breakfast so that you aren’t starving before the “Big Meal.”  Being conservative in consumption leading up to a big meal is good but being HANGRY will leave you eating everything!  Have a large omelet with egg whites, lots of veggies, lean Canadian Bacon and berries on the side to start your day off in the right direction.
  12. Do bring a dish or dishes you know YOU can enjoy.  If you are a guest at a house whose cooking may be on the heavy side, contribute by bringing along dishes that fit your needs like bacon Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes or other roasted root veggies or even a Fall salad.
  13. Don’t miss out on the celebration because you are lost in accuracy.  Here is the reality: there is a difference in going into a meal with an “I Don’t care” attitude versus being “food aware.”  Find balance in the holiday and your goals so you end the night with a “Heck ya–I had a great time and enjoyed every bite of my food” rather than major food guilt.

True Results

True results come from the effort you make day-to-day. It isn’t one holiday or one meal that will make or break you, but the consistency you have day-to-day and the food awareness you have in social situations that yields true results.  It is enjoying that special day but having the knowledge and willpower to make that one day remain just that…one day.

Enjoy your holiday, find balance and then set yourself right back up for success the day after. If you are ready to make changes to your nutrition this holiday season, check out my favorite gifts for a nutrition newbie or nut (like me) HERE.

 

What do you do to stay on track with your nutritional goals during the holidays?

Post your reply in the comments below.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Ready to kickstart your nutritional transformation?  Click below to start now!

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Gluten Free Expo Recap

Gluten Free Expo Recap

Last weekend was an all around great one! Here is why…

  1. The weather finally turned fall-ish around here.
  2. We had some awesome family commitments with great friends, great people and for great causes.
  3. I was an OFFICIAL Blogger for the AZ Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo.

Although I continue to work hard to share my small blog with the masses, I know it is still just a tiny little spec in the blogging world.  But this weekend really reminded me that I do have an audience that relies on me, who trusts me and who follow me because they know I believe in quality…and they do too.  The people who support me and engage with the pieces I write do so because they know that in their gut, “clean,” healthy, whole foods should be a top priority in any person’s diet.  Being able to share my findings at the Gluten Free Expo should be no different.

“Gluten free” is not necessarily synonymous with being a “clean” or healthy product.  I’ve heard so many times, “But it says “gluten free” it has to be healthy.”  This is often not the case.  This weekend drove this very point home as I walked the vendor aisles eavesdropping on conversations of people misguided by that very notion.  Learning to truly read and understand the ingredients listed on a product is powerful to your health.

3 Things To Look For On Ingredient Lists

With this in mind, here are 3 things to think about when reading a product’s ingredient list.

Ingredient list order

Ingredients are listed on a product in the descending order of how much exists in the product.  If the first ingredient on the label is sugar then it is no better than its gluten filled sister product.  A treat is still a treat, with or without gluten.  Trust me–I used to consume almost the entire batch of Paleo chocolate chip cookies all by myself and justified it because they were “Paleo.”  Um–no!  They were still a treat, although of great quality, and elicit the same insulin response as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  Many gluten free products tend to add even more sugar to compensate for a lack of “traditional” taste.  Don’t be a victim to tricky ingredient add-ins.

 

Simplicity

If you can’t say the ingredient name then it probably isn’t an option that adds value to your health.  It can’t happen all the time, but if you can make a regular effort to read your ingredient list NOT just the nutritional information and look for simple ingredients, you are doing right for yourself.

 

Know Secret Code Names

And if that doesn’t make it hard enough–sugar and sodium also have secret code names.  It is as if they are secret agents trying to sneak into your pantry or frig (which is really the reality).  Know these secret names and be able to identify them before they enter your body.

 

My Tops Picks at The Expo

I’ll be honest, it was liberating and totally enjoyable to walk around and taste anything I wanted without having to ask a million questions about ingredients.  Many of the vendors had gone above and beyond to offer those limited by food allergies to have some traditional food and snack options.  I was in search of those vendors that really spoke to my desire to live a gluten free life that is still rich in whole foods and gluten free because of that.  And guess what–I found a few that I really loved and am excited to share.

 

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Path of Life

The Path of Life Brand was awesome!  They were “created with the desire to make eating better, flavorful and easy for the entire family” and they do just that.  They offer lines of frozen foods that taste awesome and are so easy to add into your life.  This is a mom’s must have for their grocery list.  Four minutes in the microwave and BOOM–quality side dishes for everybody. My favorites was the organic Kale and Quinoa mix which is an easy way to add a high quality carbohydrate and veggie to your day.  You can find Path of Life Products at your local Sprouts.

 

My “Treat” Pics from the Expo

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Aleias foods has a great story of ground up creation.  I love companies that find a passion and a niche and then knock it out of the park.  I do love a treat in my day but try and look for things that still maintain quality.  Aleias’ macaroons were amazing!  They were dense, chewy and make with ingredients I could READ.  Not to mention, the macro nutrient counts were spectacular.  I also love that for those who really want it–they developed a gluten free holiday stuffing mix. You can find Aleias foods at your local AJs and Safeway.

 

ProYo

img_0302Lastly–a unique option that popped up at the expo was ProYo. The packaging definitely takes me back to my youth with it’s “push-pop” like style.  I’ll be honest, at first impression, the packaging put me in mind of a not-so-high quality supplement I’d find at GNC.  It drew me in to want to learn more.  AND–I am so glad I did. Offered in 4 flavors (chocolate is my favorite), Proyo is a probiotic packed frozen yogurtm creamy texture that put me more in the mind of ice cream than yogurt.  It is high in protein, roughly 20 grams per tube, coming from a whey source with a gentle sweetness from Stevia (no sugar alcohol).  I immediately thought of it as a great post workout option because of its macro nutrient combo.  You can find ProYo at your local Safeway.

 

 

I was a blast to spend the day watching brand ambassadors share their products and passion.  I love being able to come back and share all my findings with you.  Gluten free or not–I promise you will love these products!  Try them and then comment below and tell me what you think. And watch out for my giveaways of these awesome products.

 

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Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Scale Obsession

Scale Obsession

The scale…sometimes I want to take that thing and throw it as far as possible.  Some days it is my best friend.  I know that feeling.  I’ve been there and have allowed the scale to determine my perception of progress.  I am here to tell you—that little piece of metal and plastic is merely a device to collect data and I want you to get to the point that you can agree.  Did you hear that?  A tiny little device can determine your mindset for the day?  That is over…starting NOW!

When you embark on a nutritional journey or program you have to find a way to assess the outcome.  The scale is easy.  It doesn’t judge you subjectively, it gives you concrete, black and white data every single morning.  You can’t talk it into subtracting some digits, or adding them.  Instead, its’ consistency day to day can give you some extremely useful information.  However, the scale alone is not your greatest indicator of progress. Understanding and taking time to assess and celebrate your other progress indicators is key to your physical AND mental success.

Health

Uhh–I know shocking, right?  Your own health is a serious indicator of success.  How do you feel when you eat, after you eat?  Are you eating quality foods or falling victim to taste all the time?

What’s your overall health panel like?  Having a baseline of health history to judge against once you embark on a nutritional journey provides so much great insight into your health.  There is more to “health” than we can actually see with our eyes.

Food Awareness

I use the term “food awareness” with my clients all the time.  It is honestly one of the tools I find most valuable to people in their sustainable relationship with food.  It is taking time to understand a nutritional label, not just read it.  It is using that information and applying it to their own life and nutritional goals.  If you have gained that ability through a nutritional program then that is a HUGE indicator of nutritional success.

Performancewhy-progress-pinterest

Athlete or not, you perform in some way in your life.  Maybe it is having enough energy to keep up with your kiddos or being able to climb ladders to install light fixtures, you have to perform everyday in life.  And I know you want to do it well.  How you feel during this performance is a huge indicator of success.  Do you barely have enough energy to get by or are you ready to take on the world still late in the day?

Being in control of your intake in order to perform at the top of your game feels so good.  Sometimes you don’t even realize your performance is lackluster until you take time to document it, reflect on it and make changes towards improving it.

Composition

The real change that is important is what you see in the mirror not what the scale says.  I encourage before and after pictures to all my clients. And no–they don’t have to be shared in social media for the entire world to see.  Instead, they are your own private progress indicator that can truly show your body transformation.

Confidence

Confidence trumps composition any day in my opinion (if you haven’t read my post about it, it is worth your time.)  Gaining the ability to love you for you, the body you walk with everyday and the power to ignore those that think otherwise is a gift of maturity.  This confidence in my opinion is really the greatest indicator of your success.

Sometimes we slave over food prep, plan everything perfectly and think “Yes–this is the week for some awesome weight loss!”  Then you step on that scale and you are in total denial.  Up a freakin’ pound?  You’ve got to be kidding me!”  Trust me-I know that statement all too well because clients send me that frantic email all too often.

It is virtually impossible to control all the variables that play a part of weight loss.  The sheer error in tracking intake, changes in daily expenditure, efficiency in energy creation and absorption, training recovery, gastrointestinal fluctuations and the list goes on.  It takes some serious scientific equipment to even get a close gauge of your personal expenditure.

 

Way Back…Back into Time

Take yourself back to your freshmen year of high school and basic science.  You spent time learning about data correlation and trending way back then (trust me you did..I taught this course for 10 years and not much has truly changed).  You learned that data collection can be all over the place.  Plotting points on a  graph often reflects ups and downs over time.  It’s the overall trend, or you may remember the “line of best fit” that truly shows your scale trends.  That is why collecting that scale data is key.  It gives us a whole bunch of data points for which to assess long term changes.

best-fit-graph

 

When you step on that scale I want you to see it as merely data collection.  Don’t give it the power to control your destiny that day.  Celebrate and take note of all of those other successes you are having through your journey; the compliment someone gave you about how great you are looking, how freakin’ awesome you felt after or during a workout last week, your decrease in cholesterol and how you feel about yourself right now!

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

My Daily Grub Diary #1

My Daily Grub Diary #1

I am only one person in a sea of people on a quest to live a healthy lifestyle.  If you would have told me ten years ago that I would own my own nutritional coaching business I would have thought you were CRAZY!  But somehow all the planets aligned and have led me to this place.   It is an awesome place to be to have the opportunity to sincerely change lives.  Not by just helping people lose weight or to set a personal record in the gym.  To be able to shift a person’s food mindset into a healthy place is the greatest gratification.

A frequent question I get from clients is “What do you eat each day?” I am an open book when it comes to what I eat although I do have hesitations about sharing because I don’t want someone to judge their current place in their own nutritional journey against the one I’ve been leading for years.  The piece that I really do think is valuable is the logic, the timing and the meal combinations that go into a day’s worth of meals.  I am simple, nothing overly gourmet, just mostly plain, simple, real food.

So these requests inspired me to share “My Daily Grub Diary” to help people better understand that planning, preparing and being what I call “food aware” is completely doable.  Whether you officially track your macros or are just looking for ideas on how to eat more “clean” these blog posts are for you.

I also think it is important to know where I am in my nutritional journey.  I am currently really eating for strength.  I am slowly increasing my intake in a controlled fashion to build muscle, strength and scale weight.  My training consists of 4 strength sessions and 2 conditioning sessions per week (in a perfect #momlife world).  I am just a mom–trying to achieve my nutritional goals and keep my sanity:)

What I ate in a day on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

(P.S. I chose a Wednesday to show you that in my most crazy day of the week…I nailed my nutrition goals)

4.30 am Wake up

Yes-I get up at 4.30 or 5 am every.single.day (except Sunday..I sometimes sleep until 6.30 then). I work a part time job from home, run my own small business and love writing for my blog…I have a large to-do list.   Early morning is my quiet time to put in a few hours of work or reading before my kiddos rise and Mommy duty calls.  When I wake up, I try my best to down a full glass of water to start my day with a little hydration.

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Next–coffee time!  I really didn’t even start liking coffee until after I had kids.  It had to be survival mode inspired.  It is a treat in my day and I’d chose my coffee version any day over Starbucks.  I usually prepare my own “latte” with coffee, milk, butter and a bit of maple syrup.

 

Breakfast 7:30

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My breakfast often doubles as my pre-workout meal.  I typically try and eat breakfast with my kiddos and then head to the gym after I drop them off.  I cooked up 1 egg and 1 additional egg white, over medium, to go on top of hash browns.  There are few things better for breakfast in my opinion than a runny yolk over potatoes! I also had a few strawberries on the side.

While I made breakfast for us, I also threw 3 pounds of chicken breast with some simple chicken broth, salt, pepper and fresh garlic into the Crockpot to cook on low all day.  Wednesday is gymnastics and football practice so I make sure my meals are simple and easy for our quick turnaround between activities.

 

Pre Workout Snack 8:30

After looking at my total macros for the day–I knew I could squeeze in a pre-workout snack too with some good fat and carbs.  One of my favs is an apple cinnamon Larabar.  I was hungry already and knew I’d starve during training if I didn’t have some good fats on board.  Since I am in a strength gaining phase, I will take fat before a workout.  If I am in more of a weight loss or maintenance mode then I typically avoid fat around workouts all together.

 

Post Workout

This is a place I usually prefer to take something in a liquid form.  It gets back into the bloodstream a bit faster and in that “magic” window.  I usually have ½ serving of my whey protein, 14 grams, shake mixed with 6 oz or so of water.  I also try and have some type of fast acting carbohydrates.  Today I had planned for a banana and then totally left it sitting on my counter.  Luckily I dug through my gym bag and found a fruit leather that I keep on hand for my kids!  BOOM!  It was my lucky day.

 

Lunch

After I workout, I typically have my next meal an hour or so after my workout.  Today, I was craving a turkey burger.  Because I have been tracking my macros for so long–I plan most of my day out except lunch and allow some space for a few options.  I browned my turkey burger in a skillet with a light spray of olive oil and ate it on top of fresh greens.  On the side I made ¼ cup of white rice.

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afternoon-pick-me-upAfternoon Snack

Today is a crazy transition from school to gymnastics to football.  I planned for my Afternoon Pick Me Up Shake to have on the road.  It is the perfect combination of macros and a little afternoon “sweet” treat pick me up.

 

 

 

Dinner img_5684

Tonight my Crockpot chicken turned into buffalo chicken stuffed sweet potatoes. It had to be something fast before football practice.  I microwaved 2 large sweet potatoes for us to share.  Once soft and cooked throughout, I piled on my shredded chicken and topped with buffalo sauce and a bit of Greek Yogurt and a side of greens.

 

Bedtime Snack:

When my kiddos go to bed, my hubby and I settle in for a little Netflix and chill or I use the time to work again.  I look forward to a snack at this time of night. Tonight it was a brown rice cake, 1 tablespoon organic peanut butter and my current obsession…pumpkin butter!

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This gives you an idea of one day, in the scope of many, of how I balance my intake at mealtimes, around workouts, for snacks and amidst the crazy schedule we keep!  It takes effort in planning but comes with great reward.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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The Gluten Free Life

Gluten Free and feeling FINE

I was six weeks postpartum and was lying on the floor in pain worse than labor pain.  I was convinced I was having a postpartum complication and was completely freaked.  The pain was so horrendous I couldn’t move, couldn’t function and worst of all, felt like a horrible mother. I had a newborn and a 2 year old depending on me and I couldn’t do anything to help them.  My mom guilt was in full effect. My husband convinced me to allow the kids to stay with my mom while he took me to the emergency room.  After an evening stay, I was diagnosed with (drum roll please)…an ulcer. An ulcer. Really?  So I followed the suggested low acidity diet and ate things like bread, crackers and pasta that somehow made me feel like they would neutralize the acidity. Days later…I was back lying on the floor in pain worse than the first episode.  We found ourselves back in the ER with no answers and an offer of a narcotics band aide.

After multiple episodes in a few week’s time, I was desperate!  I reached out to a gastrointestinal doctor for help.  He was my Knight in Shining Armor. After several diagnostic tests he suggested that I had a recent autoimmune shift since my son was born that led to non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Huh?  This couldn’t be me.  I had zero food allergies my whole life. I had an iron gut. I was willing to try anything at that point.  So, I immediately kicked gluten out of my life and it was a game changer.  The pain stopped, the headaches stopped and all the other GI symptoms stopped too.  I was in total shock and 100% a believer. I’ve lived the GF life for 5 years now and have never looked back!

 

My Blog

All my recipes created for my blog and others I share are always gluten free.  It is honestly the only way my brain thinks nowadays.  It is also a reason clients seek me out–they know I can help them maintain a gluten free lifestyle and help them explore their own creative ways to make their favorite meals gluten free as well.

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The gluten free industry and market have grown exponentially since my diagnosis almost 5 years ago.  The range of products offered is amazing compared to when I began my gluten free journey.   That is why I am SO excited to have been invited to be a blogger for Arizona’s upcoming Gluten Free Expo, Saturday and Sunday, November 12th-13th, from 10-4 pm, in Glendale at the Renaissance Hotel and Spa.  The expo provides an opportunity for all people, including fitness and health consumers, to come together to share products and advancements in the gluten free industry.

 

Join ME

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Join me there to learn more and sample awesome stuff!  Click here to buy tickets for the event now and get 20% of your tickets through November 11th with code ADVANCE.  Check out my giveaway for 5 free tickets to attend the expo as well.

Why Confidence Trumps Composition

Why Confidence Trumps Composition

Our emphasis on fitness and nutrition results focuses primarily on aesthetics.  The flawless six pack, sculpted legs and well defined delts remain the biggest indicators of perceived health success.   Love it or hate, that is just how it is.  We are a social species that care about what others think of us, at many times, too much.  Humans rely on aesthetics for so much of what we love about our lives.  We use visual attraction to judge our potential mate, how we choose a meal and the type of products we buy. It’s human nature.  In fact, it is nature in general.

 

I taught biology and anatomy to hormone ridden teenagers for 10 years and so many of my lessons still remain fresh in my mind. A great interest always erupted in class when we began to discuss the behavior of animals and the crazy, and not so crazy things, they go through to impress their potential mates. The male peacock and its beautiful display of feathers to attract a mate, the funky mating dance of many species of birds to gain the attention of female birds and the size of a bull elk’s antlers that impress a female are just a few.

My point here is appearance matters because it is a part of our DNA, literally.   It’s my own opinion that every human being has some degree of concern about their appearance whether they admit it or not.

 

The Downward Spiral

I would be lying through my teeth if I didn’t agree that looking fit wasn’t a priority to me too.  I am in my mid thirties (I think that is the first time I’ve admitted that publicly) and I’ve come to realize it is a time of lots of reflection and continual learning about myself.

 

We were lucky enough to get pregnant quickly when we began trying in our twenties.  Literally the first month.  We were excited beyond measure but held our secret from our families until after our first ultrasound.  The sight of the first heartbeat was an experience that you can never really put into words.  It made me feel that I was put on earth to be a mom.

 

Things were amazing, I felt great, was gaining weight well and had mentally started planning for the future.  We went in for another ultrasound at thirteen weeks only to be hit by a MAC truck with the most devastating news of our lives up to that point.  There was no longer a heartbeat…and for me, there was no longer purpose.  My body had begun to change, my heart began to feel a love I hadn’t ever imagined and I had already embraced pregnancy fully.  Now, it felt like it was for nothing.

 

I let myself go, barely moving off the couch and I just couldn’t get past the thought that I may never be a mom.  Again we tried, and lost. And finally our third time, were given the gift of our daughter.   I don’t share this for pity because I know many women suffer more loss than I did.  I share this because I know that so many women have shared this same experience, or similar ones.  That so many women have given up their bodies in the name of becoming a mother.  Some forever and some for only a short time.  The sacrifices both physically and emotionally have been worth every  moment of grief I had experienced once I held them in my arms. And just like this experience, there are many more just like it, where people find themselves lost, hurting and in a place they never expected.  They let themselves go and with it, all their confidence goes too.

 

The Reality

All the mushy stuff aside, after being pregnant several times, having 2 children, nursing 2 children and gaining too much weight during those pregnancies, self confidence was not my friend.  I looked in the mirror and felt embarrassed.  Embarrassed of how I had let myself go, how I had allowed food to control my emotions and embarrassed that I lacked confidence to stand in front of the man I loved naked and vulnerable. I bought baggier clothes, I hid from myself in the mirror and most of all, I hid from confident intimacy with my husband. I no longer felt visually attractive and I was not confident.

 

Getting Your Mind Right 

It took me time, a few years of time to gain back my confidence.  I found CrossFit, found food balance and changed my mindset. Confidence is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.”  It is word I have seen personally break someone down so much that they could barely find air to breathe.  It is a word that I want to model to my own kids so strongly because for their entire lives they will face people who try and tear theirs down.  It is a feeling that only you know if you possess.

 

A Turning Point

When I changed my style of eating and my perception of food my body began to change in ways I had never imagined. I’d worked my tail off at the gym for years and nothing…not even 1 little ab poked through.  Now at 34, my body composition reveals that I work hard in the kitchen and at the gym.  I don’t want to look fit for anyone else.  I want to look fit for myself.  The change in my confidence as a woman has been empowering.   The feeling of putting on a bikini and owning it, the feeling of standing in front of my hubby butt-naked and feeling HAWT (sorry mom and dad) and the feeling of crushing a workout at the gym have all helped to build my confidence.

And know what?

It makes me so badly want that for other women and men too.

 

I want people to be completely confident in their own skin.  To not feel judged by what others think they should look like, but be guided by the confidence they have of their own self awareness.  Some may read this and completely disagree.  My answer–I am just being honest.  Getting to a place in life where you begin to not care about what others think is liberating.  I am talking about that place where your confidence in who you are surpasses the need to think twice about what others do.  That place is starting to feel real good.

 

Why Confidence Trumps Composition

As I left my son’s football practice last week a woman, a stranger, stopped me.  She said, “beautiful arms mama–you look strong.”  She honestly left me speechless, I didn’t know what to say.

My reaction was completely anti-climatic, a quiet “Thank You.”

When inside it was so much more.  It was gratitude in her confidence to tell me what she had, gratitude for reassuring my confidence in who I am and gratitude for sharing that special moment in front of my children.

By pursuing goals to change body composition I’ve learned it isn’t really about composition at all.  It is about gaining control of what you want, who you are and confidence in your ability to do so.  That confidence pours into all areas of your life when you have it and creates an unstoppable cycle of awesomeness…in fitness, in nutrition, in parenting, in love and in friendships.

In my opinion confidence trumps composition any day.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

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Macro Friendly Camping Tips

Camping, Tracking and Planning…Oh My!

I grew up camping.  I have vivid memories of waking up early in a chilly tent, my dad waiting for me to wake with his coffee in hand.  We spent our days discovering the woods, my parents sharing stories of their childhood.  Our evenings were spent around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and snuggling each other tight as we fell asleep under the stars.  I want those same experiences for my kids too.  We attempted our first camping trip about a year and half ago.  I woke up in the middle of our first night with….food poisoning from a very atypical fast food stop.  Literally the worst night of my life spent puking and um…pooping my brains out…in a tent…in a forest.  Needless to say, it took me awhile to rally back from the experience for round two.

 

Camping Revenge

I recently took revenge on that camping trip. This time around, I was determined to make sure my food was under my own control while still getting the traditional camping experience.  Like any travel, keeping your macros in check can easily be done with proper planning and 100% commitment.  Nothing is worse than working overtime to prepare your nutrition for a trip and then giving up 100% mentally.  When I travel, I do my absolute best to track because I feel better, rest better, and have zero post vacation regret.

 

Tips to Camping Tracking Success

 

1. Map out your weekend.

Just like a normal week at home, map at your weekend.  Decide what you will be eating for all meals and what snacks you plan to have available.  Pack those foods ahead of time and use Ziploc bags and containers to pre-pack meals and snacks

 

2. Pick meals that fully utilize the campfire.

Seriously–all food tastes better on a campfire. Period.  And you don’t have to let it soak in grease or other unwanted fat sources. Making meals on the fire gives it a taste spin you won’t get at home so use it fully.

 

3. Pack only what you want to eat.

Seems simple right?  If you pack an unhealthy option that doesn’t meet your goals, the whispering pines will whisper in your ear…EAT IT.  So don’t pack any last minute snacks that just won’t fit your macro budget.

 

4. Plan for 1 camping treat.

Yes–allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy.  It keeps the rest of your day on point and honestly, you enjoy that treat so much more.  The goal is balance not restriction.

 

5. Don’t overindulge in alcohol.

The more you drink, the less likely you are to stay on track with your plan you so diligently worked hard to prepare.  Plan for a few drinks, drink them slowly and with plenty of water in between.

 

6. Pack Your Snacks

Snacking and camping go hand-in-hand.  When you are relaxing in the great outdoors, reading a book or playing cards, snacks are usually nearby. So make them yummy and goal oriented.

Here is a list of some possible snacks that will keep you right on track:

Jerky

Dried Fruit

Fresh Fruit

Pop Chips

Deli Lunch Meat Rolls

Homemade Trail Mix (with your favorite options)

Simple Snack Idea Recipes:

Fresh cut veggies and homemade Greek yogurt dips: This is SO easy to do! Cut up lots of fresh veggies before you leave for the big trip.  Bring several small containers of plain Greek yogurt and pre-made seasonings.  You can mix in the seasoning of choice and enjoy some fresh veggies along with them to satisfy the snack sensation while filling up on micro nutrient rich volume food.

Popcorn (over the campfire is the best): Put kernels in a loose foil packet with a small bit of olive or avocado oil (try coconut for a sweeter taste). Hold foil packet over campfire with tongs or skewer and allow to cook until popping stops.  Once done you can salt, drizzle melted chocolate over or whatever sounds good to your camping mood.

Homemade corn tortilla chips: This is another one that is easy to prep ahead of time.  Cut corn tortillas into as many wedges as you like.  Place over camp fire on top of a griddle, on layers of foil or on a foil tray and allow them to cook until crisp to your liking.  You can lightly salt the wedges or add cinnamon and some coconut sugar for a sweet treat.

 

Three Easy Campfire Meal Ideas

Here are my favorite camping meal ideas that are simple, fun and macro friendly:

Kebabs: Pre-cut your favorite lean meat such chicken breast or flank stead, into 1-2 inch chunks and marinate in Ziploc bags.  Bring along metal or wooden skewers to roast meat over open camp fire.  You can also pre-cut potatoes, peppers and onions to add onto the skewers as well for a great balanced meal option.

 

Fajitas: Pre-cut beef or chicken into portions that work for you and lightly spray with olive or avocado oil and store in a Ziploc bag.  Do the same with bell peppers and onions.  When you are ready to cook, place on the griddle or into a disposable tin pan to cook over the fire.  Serve with tortillas warmed over the campfire and your favorite fixings.

 

Foil Packet Meals: The sky is the limit here!  You can make foil packets in so many variations.  Use a large piece of aluminum foil and lightly spray with oil.  Place a lean chicken sausage, with onions, peppers and cubed potatoes in side.  Again, lightly coat the contents and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings.  Fold to close packet and place on open campfire until contents are cooked throughout.  You can place any kind of meat and potato option in foil packets and the kids will have a blast!

 

Enjoy the great outdoors and a campfire along with some healthy food options that will keep you right on track!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Veggies and Dips You Can’t Live Without

Veggies-Shmeggies

I am not sure what happens at 5:00pm but all kids must communicate to make that hour of the day the most whiny.  I think I have awesome kids, but the moments leading up to dinner seem to be their toughest.  They are ravenous…like I haven’t fed them for hours.  I always try to include them in dinner preparation thinking it will pass the time more.  Some days it works, while other days I swear it makes their hunger unbearable. I know many of you can relate.

I recently read a Mom Blog “From Stork to Fork” that gave an amazing suggestion.  In an effort to increase vegetable consumption for her children, this mom started putting out a veggie platter right before dinner.  She filled it with fresh, raw veggies and didn’t mention a word to her kids.  The moment they saw food out and available, they welcomed it with open arms.  She provided a simple dip on the side and they ate those veggies in a hot second.  What parents don’t want their kids to eat more veggies even if it does spoil dinner? It was a WIN all around.

What’s more interesting is a recent study competed by Texas A&M University identified the one factor that determined whether or not kids ate their veggies.  That one factor was what those veggies were paired with.  The article’s conclusion was that “Kids, in short, are much more likely to eat their vegetable portion when it’s paired with a food that isn’t so delicious it gets all the attention.” So, offer those veggies alone or with a more nutrient dense but less kid-desired option and BOOM!  They become veggie connoisseurs.

 

Leading By Example

This study supports the prime reason we as parents are lifestyle role models to our children.  Kids let taste lead them.  They aren’t mature enough to choose something less tasty because it’s more nutrient dense.  We as parents must guide them and be sure to encourage better eating habits.  I work hard with my kids to model and discuss the importance of vegetable consumption at every meal.  I’ve tried to teach them that there are foods we eat everyday, foods we eat sometimes and foods we eat at special occasions.  It isn’t always perfect and some meals are better than others.  My heart is always happy when I hear them tell people no thank you to things because they know they’ve already had their “sweet treat” for the day.

 

My Early Parenting Days

I was a total earthy pregnant mom and newborn mom.  I was particular about everything that went into my body and on my body. I came up with a Zen birthing plan (which never remotely happened), I breastfed both my kids for 18 months and I made every.single.ounce of their baby food myself.  I am darn proud of that!  My kids are awesome eaters and I think my investment in their food early on has paid dividends.

I went off the deep end at first.  I once told a friend that our kids would never eat at McDonalds.  My friends who had kids older than mine told me I was unrealistic but I told them “No way.”  I’ve loosened up…my kids have had a Happy Meal…but at the heart of it all, is they know and understand that is a rare experience and should and never will be the norm.

 

Deprivation is Not Sustainable

I’ve come to believe that if I deprive my kids from anything mainstream food or otherwise that it only cultivates their desire for it more.  I know some of you are shaking your head at me right now.  But listen—it is like when your mom tells you not to hang out with the “bad boy” so naturally you are drawn to him.  In my almost 7 years of parenting I’ve learned that being the example for my children’s healthy lifestyle is less about what they shouldn’t have and more about what they should have.

 

Are Adults Any Different?

This research got me thinking–are adults any different?  I think now:)  I am pretty sure my hubby wouldn’t eat his veggies if I wasn’t regularly preparing them for him at home.  If what that veggie is paired with makes a difference, then adults need good options too.  Options that are rich in macro value and even richer in taste.  It should be easy and convenient.  I used to commonly buy a big tub-o-sour-cream and dump in a “seasoning packet” to serve alongside veggies.  But–now I have some great options to replace those packets and that tub.

 

Dip D.I.Y.

Seasoning packets are filled with all types of fillers, artificial flavors and preservatives.  If you look closely to identify the real food ingredient list, you will notice that you have those things sitting in your pantry.  So why not take them and make your own seasoning, without all the junk?  I mix together the options below and have them on hand for dips, for marinades or rubs and any other mealtime options.

 

Ranch Dip

¼ Cup Parsley Flakes

⅛  Cup Dried, Minced Onions

4 Teaspoons Salt

1 Tablespoon Dill Leaf

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

 

Onion Dip

1/3 Cup dried, minced onion

2 Teaspoons Parsley Flakes

1 Teaspoon Onion Powder

1 Teaspoon Turmeric

1 Teaspoon Celery Salt

1 Teaspoon Sea Salt

½ Teaspoon Black Pepper

 

Fiesta Seasoning

1/3 Cup Chili Powder

¼ Cup Onion Powder

⅛ Cup Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

1 Tablespoon Paprika

1 Tablespoon Sea Salt

 

I mixed all of my spices into small glass jars to keep fresh. Once these seasonings are prepared, you can mix 2-3 tablespoons with 4-5 oz of Greek Yogurt for an amazing dip to serve with veggies or your favorite macro friendly chip.  They are perfect for a meal time side or for some tailgating munchies.
Eat those veggies friends.  Find ways to incorporate them into your life to improve your health and be an example to the little people surround you.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

10 Tailgate Tips to Macro Tracking Success

Are you ready for some football?

I have been since, Um… the end of February!  We love football in our house!  Just the sound of it in the background makes me happy.  My husband played a little college football and having a game on takes me back to our college days together and the total thrill of the game.

 

The Tailgate

Now football season takes on a whole new meaning.  It is a major social event.  Whether you are watching the game on the big screen at home or have season tickets, now football is all about tailgating.  Throwing a football around, eating BBQ and drinking some adult beverages seems to be a prerequisite for the full football experience.

But–when the tailgate starts at 10:00am and kickoff isn’t until 3, there is a lot of room for that tailgate to take a turn towards a nutritional nightmare.  Have no fear! There is still a way to enjoy every moment of that tailgating experience and still stay on track with your nutritional goals.  

With 17 weeks of regular season play plus post-season playoffs…there is a whole lot of time for football and tailgating to come in between you and your nutritional goals.  Don’t make excuses.  Find a sustainable way to enjoy watching your favorite team and the social element that comes along with the big game. Don’t be a victim to your Sunday FUN-day, instead follow these 10 tips for tailgate tracking success.

 

10 Tips for Tailgate Tracking Success

1. Pre-Plan

It’s the name of the game–literally.  You have to plan ahead and pre-log your food to stay on track. Ask ahead and find out what’s going to be cooking on the grill and save a space to enjoy the meal you want.  If you know in advance what choices you will have you will come out with greater success.

2. Bring Your Own Food

The great thing about most tailgating is that it’s potluck style.  You can bring along a dish you love so that you know exactly what you are eating!

3. Eat Lean Leading Up To It

If you plan to really enjoy yourself and tailgating is your “Go Ham” moment then eat lean leading up to it.  The morning of, prepare yourself an egg white omelet with lots of veggies and lean Canadian bacon. Stock up on greens and other veggies to fill you up with a lean lunch meat option like deli turkey, ham, tuna or chicken breast.

4. Pick A Lean Meat

Meat on the BBQ screams Tailgate.  Choose one that you know will support your goals.  Choose chicken breast, a lean pork tenderloin, salmon, or a lean cut of beef over a higher fat option like ribs or ribeyes.  They taste amazing on a grill or in a smoker just like their full-fat sister options when done right.

5. Don’t Let Peer Pressure Bully You Into Giving In.  

OK–you are an adult and know how to say no!  You however must have the willpower to do so.  Don’t blame your friends for your poor choices.  Be willing to stand up for your goals and follow through.  They will respect you more for it.

6. Plan For Adult Beverages

Alcohol is part is of the Tailgate experience for most.  Don’t be so restrictive to say you won’t have a drink.  Chose a light beer, or higher proof alcohol and sparking water to keep carb values down.  Plan for it and then stick with it.

7. Bring A Dip and Chips-“ish”

Tailgating breeds snacking.  Chips and dips tend to be an easy talk-while-you-eat option:) Pretty soon 5 chips turns into a bag and NOOOOO! So, make and take your own.  Use a Greek yogurt based dip to spare the fat of sour cream or heavy cream and mix in your favorite seasonings like dry Ranch Mix or Onion Soup mix and serve with Pop Chips, Veggies or homemade corn tortilla chips.

8. Pack Fruit

Fruit It is a simple carb option that still gives you that snacking feeling and satisfies a sweet tooth.  Bonus…you know there is no hidden fat. You can even add a vanilla Greek yogurt dip for a treat on the side.

9. Keep Protein Up

Hit that protein.  Protein is usually scarce at social events. Be sure to hit that protein goal by planning ahead and maybe finishing off the night with a small quantity of a protein supplement to hit that goal.

10. Stick To The Plan

Seriously the simple of all tips and the hardest to do.  Maintain your will power and keep your eyes on the prize.  Be a “weekend warrior” so that Monday ends up being a day of progress not regret.  

 

Football season lasts 5 months.  That is an opportunity to make progress for 5 months or allow it to determine your nutritional fate.  Show up to your tailgate owning your goals and I promise…others will follow.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

Awalk