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 as humans are a social species that care about what others think of us. And many times, we care 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.

Is it in our DNA?

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. We talked about the crazy, and not so crazy things, animals go through to impress their potential mates. The male peacock and his 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 Start of a 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 and I’ve come to realize it is a time of lots of reflection and continual learning about myself.

My husband and I 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 truck with the most devastating news of our lives up to that point. There was no longer a heartbeat. 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 Stopped Taking Care of Myself

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 was 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 about how I had let myself go. I had allowed food to control my emotions. I’d become embarrassed that I lacked the 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 a 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 you know what?

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

I Want You to Feel Confident

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 really good.

(Ready to feel more confidence in your own body? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Why Confidence Trumps Composition

As I left my son’s football practice last week 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 the 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. What do you think?

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

If you know me, you know I love any excuse to turn simple fruits and vegetables into some delicious concoctions. And one of my favorite ways to dress up veggies is to have veggies and dips!

Veggies-Shmeggies

I am not sure what happens at 5:00 pm but all kids must communicate to make that hour of the day the whiniest. I’d like to think that I have awesome kids, but the moments leading up to dinner seem to be their toughest.

Not only are they ravenous, like I haven’t fed them for hours, but they just seem to be hangry. And that’s not fun for anyone. 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 completed 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, so 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 every day, foods we eat sometimes, and foods we eat on 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 McDonald’s. My friends who had kids older than mine told me I was unrealistic but I told them “No way.”  I’ve loosened up over the years. My kids have had a Happy Meal. But at the heart of it all, 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 of 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 if adults were any different. And, personally, I don’t think we are. 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.

(Want to focus on your health and make it a priority? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Options that are rich in nutritional 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.

Veggies & Dip DIY

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, 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 them fresh. Once these seasonings are prepared, you can mix 2-3 tablespoons with 4-5 oz of greek yogurt for amazing veggies and dips combos, or you can even serve these dips with healthy and nutritious chips!  They are perfect for a mealtime side or for some tailgating munchies.

(Tired of feeling like healthy eating is impossible? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

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.

What are your favorite veggies and dips combos?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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How to Get Sweet Potatoes Into Your Life

I love Sweet Potatoes..on so many levels!  Watch this awesome video on 5 quick ways to work them into your routine and then check out my Sweet Potato Slider recipe I mention on the video.

Easy Dinner Veggie

I am Zoodle Obsessed

I am currently obsessed with zucchini.  After having an amazing raw zucchini noodle (affectionately referred to as Zoodles) salad at a summer BBQ, I can’t seem to get enough of them.  In fact it motivated me to come back to this bog post one year later and give it a face lift.

I used to lightly saute the zoodles before eating them up.  After I had them raw, there is no way I will ever look back.  They have an extremely fresh, crisp taste and feel much more similar to a real noodle option when raw.

 

I’ve been making Zoodles for years since becoming gluten free.  It began with a hand held spiralizer and then evolved into making them on my KitchenAid Spilaizer attachment because of the volume and frequency I make them in.  Both are amazing options, but the KiichenAid is a worth while investment if you plan to put their production in high gear.  The bonus is that the attachment is strong enough to Spiralize potatoes of all kinds, including my favorite sweet potatoes.

 

And If You Are Lazy

Finally a company jumped on the veggie noodle train and made a quality option that you an buy fresh in store.  Veggie Noodle Co offers those of you with less time and culinary desire to still have a healthy noodle option on hand.  They offer spiral versions of lots of veggies including zucchini, sweet potato, butternut squash and beets.  You can find them in Whole Foods, Spouts Farmers Market and at Target.

 

The honest truth though is that it is much more cost effective to spiralize your own veggies.  I like to do a whole bunch at once and us them throughout the week for various recipes.  It gives us no excuse not to add a veggie into our meals.

 

 

Check out my video of the KitchenAid Spiralizer in action. This was literally the first Facebook Live video I ever did.  I was entirely nervous but excited.

Spiralized Noodle Recipe Ideas:

Here are a few spiral noodle recipes to get you started!

Zucchini Salad with Grilled Veggies (add chicken for a protein boost)

Shrimp Scampi: Zoodle Edition

Baked Sweet Potato Curly Fries

Skinny Pho

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

The Skinny on Fats: 13 Tips to Control Your Fat Intake Each Day

Fat! We love it, we hate it and we can’t live without it…literally.  Fat is a macronutrient that acts as a secondary source of energy for our body.  Fats assist in absorption of certain micronutrients in the body, aides in the boundary of cells, cushions cells and in turn the body.  Fat plays a crucial role in hormone regulation and brain function (1). You need it–there is no denying it.

Poor, Misunderstood Fat
We don’t gain weight from fat, we gain weight from excess fat that puts our metabolism out of balance.  Each person’s body chemistry is unique, requiring its own quantity of fat that pushes their metabolic capacity and allows them to hit their goals. Adjusting fat ratios is key to fat loss, athletic performance and day to day health.

Fat and Tracking Macronutrient Intake

The important thing to understand about fat is its caloric value.  When the body metabolizes 1 gram of fat, it acquires 9 calories of useable energy as a fuel source.  This is in comparison to protein and carbohydrates which yield only 4 calories of energy. It is also the reason that being accurate when tracking fat intake is key, as it has more caloric consequence if over consumed.

In the name of FAT

In the name of  fat, I put together a quick reference of ways to decrease fat daily but also quick ways to increase fat daily.  At some point in your nutritional tracking journey, you’ll need to do both to satisfy your nutrition goals.

Easy ways to reduce Fat:13-tips-to-control-fat-intake-pinterest

  1. Reduce the number of yolks you consume with eggs, opt for egg whites or a combo.
  2. Choose 93/7% Ground beef over 80/20%.
  3. Replace your mayo, sour cream, spread with plain 0% fat greek yogurt.  It really does taste the same.
  4. Try almond milk or ultra filtered milk in your coffee over half and half or creamer.
  5. Chose a grilled chicken breast over a drumstick or thigh.
  6. Chose almond cheese over cow’s milk cheese.  Say what? No seriously it is delicious!
  7. Fill up on Veggies—their caloric value is little to none! You can load up on them to help you feel full with little macronutrient value but a heck of a lot micronutrient value.

Easy Ways to Increase Fat:

  1. Take a fish oil supplement. Try using this in the evening when you need to fill small quantities to hit those counts.  A gel capsule can keep the fat content in a smaller amount or a liquid version to increase the fat content.
  2. Add a bit of oil based dressing, like olive or avocado, to a salad.
  3. Enjoy some nuts or nut butter (this is my go-to to increase fat) on your favorite piece of fruit or in your morning oats.
  4. Add an egg yolk.  Try another yolk in your morning eggs or prep some hard boiled eggs for a mid afternoon snack.
  5. Add some slices of avocado to your eggs, lean meat or dinner meal.  Mash it up as a condiment to make a healthy fat version of chicken salad.
  6. Throw a small bit of Kerrygold butter on your baked potato.

Keeping your dietary fat intake on track is the key to so many functions of the body–not to mention they can taste so.darn.good.  Use them in the right places in your daily routine to maximize their benefits.

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

 

Sources:

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6298507

 

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Kickin’ It Old School during Snack time

healthy nostalgic snacks

I’m sure you remember quite a bit of your childhood. When it comes to food, nostalgia is REAL. The thought of healthy nostalgic snacks take me right back to after school TV and riding bikes with teh neighborhood kids.

There are some snacks that have withstood the test of time and others that have gone to snack heaven. There are snacks I think about that make me nostalgic and others that make me want to puke.

I am a child of the 80’s and grew up on snacks like Planter’s Cheese Balls (remember those in the blue can), on Keebler’s Magic in the middle cookies, on “Squeeze It’s”, and of course, fruit by the foot. But, the healthy nostalgic snacks that I think of really bring back fond memories and have stuck with me to this day.

Afternoon Snacking

The afternoon is a snack time for me and my kids. We tend to eat dinner later to accommodate my husband’s work schedule and I love a balanced snack to hold me over until then. These snacks are typically snacks that I love and that my kids love too. Thankfully, my kids will escape a pantry full of 80’s snacks because it’s my goal to provide an afternoon snack that is fun, healthy, delicious and that they will remember and love!

Why do people snack?

Statista.com reports that in 2014, North American’s spent over 124 billion dollars in snacks in grocery stores. According to research conducted by the Mintel Group, “62 percent of U.S. consumers snack mainly to satisfy a craving. One-quarter of Americans snack because they are bored, while 16 percent do so because they are stressed.

Say what!?!

This data is clear evidence that snacking is tied to emotion and your mood. Thus, further supporting the need to have healthy snack options at home to avoid that oh-so-tempting 80’s style snack binge.

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food and learn how to eat without all of the emotions? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

No need to be FANCY

Some of the best snacks and for that matter, meals, are the simple ones. Ones that don’t take the entire kitchen to prepare, that are pretty to look at, and that have great tasting ingredients. I’ve put together for you three simple, old-school style, healthy nostalgic snacks for your snack attack that you can make now…like right now!

Plus, you may already have many of these ingredients in your fridge and pantry, which is a double win.

Ants on a Log

For this quick and easy recipe, you’ll need:

1 tablespoon of Peanut/Almond/Sunbutter (sub with 1 serving PB2/Fit to reduce fat)
.5 ounce of Raisins
1 celery stalk

All you have to do is spread your nut butter of choice on that celery stalk, sprinkle those “ants” right on top, and enjoy the salty and sweet taste.

My kiddos love it…especially if I sing “The Ants Go Marching One-by-One!” (which I highly recommend doing, it’s so much fun).

Apple Cinnamon Yogurt

This is one of the simplest healthy nostalgic snacks. You only need a few ingredients.

4 ounces Plain Greek Yogurt 0% fat
2 ounces All Natural Applesauce
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
(You could also add 1 serving PB2 for a thicker, peanut butter taste)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Then, dip in your spoon and enjoy! Sweet with a little kick of cinnamon. This recipe is a winner!

Rice Pudding-ish

¼ cup cooked white rice
2-4 ounces Greek yogurt 0% fat
1 tablespoon honey
Sprinkle of Cinnamon

Another simple and easy snack. Just combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy! Just as a note, you can alter these quantities to suit your palate texture requirements as well.

A great idea is to prepare a “rice reserve” for the week. This reserve is easy to pull from for meals and snacks and can be spiced in lots of ways as you need it. Plus, extra rice on hand never hurt anyone, and it can last a while in the fridge!

The beauty of all of these recipes above is that you can tweak each to meet your needs and taste. Snacks are optional, but good health and good taste don’t have to be.

Although those 80’s snacks like Gushers and Bugles (you remember them…I know you do!) bring back love in your heart, don’t let them bring any love to your belly. Enjoy that afternoon snack with all health benefits included. So — get in that kitchen and get your snack on, and enjoy those healthy nostalgic snacks!

What were some of your favorite healthy nostalgic snacks?

Work Hard Be Kind,
AWalk

* All calories calculated using CalorieKing.com

“E” is for Effort

We’re all fighting a daily chaotic battle, like being a parent, spouse, employee, boss, athlete, a food prepper (is that even a thing?), a coach — you get the idea. Somewhere in there we are supposed to take time to take care of ourselves. It isn’t easy, but I notice that when I start to find time for myself, all the other roles I fill in life are richer for it. So can we just make changes to live healthier and give ourselves an e for effort?

E For Effort

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out!” – Robert Collier

Successful people in life exist because they give effort day in and day out. Their effort is consistent. Being healthy, tracking your macros or whatever tool you use is no different. Don’t let time, money or others be that something that holds you back from giving the effort you need to give. Take time to self-reflect and hold yourself accountable for your effort. The moment you begin to results will follow you around.

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food to look and feel your best? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Make Time

The number one excuse I hear from people who are not reaching their nutritional goals, or for that matter any goal, is because they don’t have the time to. The time to meal prep, the time to cook at home or the time to assure their intake each day is spot on. The gift of time isn’t always as giving as we’d like but I believe it’s important to make the time each and every single day to reach your goals. There are so many different ways you can make more time in your day and week, but there are three that have really helped me and my clients reach their goals.

Plan At Night

One of the biggest ways to get an e for effort is to spend 5 minutes at the end of every day and plan for the next day. The way I like to do it is to work backward and think about what I plan to make for dinner, but do what works best for you. Make sure you remember to take out and defrost your protein (if needed) and pack your lunch and stick it in the fridge. That way, if your morning is chaotic, you’ll still stay on track. It’s a simple game changer that is usually overlooked, but planning at night can save you so much time!

Reuse

Investing in glass reusable containers or even mason jars is a great choice to both help the environment and save time and money. You can portion out leftovers or meals into the containers, and then they are ready to go. Just reheat your leftovers and you have a yummy meal! Use a dry erase marker or a sticky note on the lids of those containers to write down the portions contained inside.

Portion Out Snacks

Along with meal prepping, spend some time portioning out your other food. On a non-work day, spend some time portioning out veggies, fruits, and other snacks. Put them in ready to go containers or bags and put them somewhere that is easily accessible. That way you can just grab them and go about your day.

Putting In Effort Works

My client roster ranges from those who have been tracking their food for over six months to those that have been for 6 days. No matter how long they’ve been doing this, they all share one similarity. And what’s that similarity you may ask? They get out what they put in! I’ve had clients this week surpass their goal weight and clients hit major PRs! The common thread is that they are committed and are putting in all they have. In turn, they are getting out all they possibly can. Talk about e for effort. It just proves that putting in a little work can equal amazing results.

I want you to celebrate that same success! There are 168 hours in a week. You deserve to devote at least one of those hours, that’s 8.6 minutes per day, to planning your nutrition. This week I hope you make time to regroup and find time for yourself…in nutrition, in health, and in whatever role you fill in life. “E” is for effort–make it the biggest “E” you possibly can in all aspects of life.

What is one thing you can change this week to boost your healthy living efforts?

Work Hard Be Kind,
AWalk

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Work Hard, Be Kind

This is it—my first big blog post. I have been  so nervous about this post.  For months I was in blog purgatory. Should I? What would people think? Would there even be interest? It was the encouragement of my client base, my friends and above all, my husband that led me this direction. Then, I had a moment, an epiphany if you will. You know the kind that feels life changing—like the planets aligned to send you a sign. I was listening to an Amy Porterfield podcast when she interviewed this amazingly spunky social media marketer. The person interviewed said…”isn’t it better to have 2 people who believe in you madly than to be followed by many, who barely believe?” It was in that moment I realized, who cares about anybody else. If I follow my passion, my heart and who I am, the rest will fall into place. So—here I am, vulnerable as ever, sharing my passion.

My Passion

I pondered how to begin my blog, what would be the most important to open up with? I realized that my audience needs to know where I came from and what led me to this point to truly understand the origin of my passion. Nutrition is personal. To some, like a religion. And just like religion, there are a million interpretations of what nutrition should look like. High fat, high carb, low fat , low carb…what is truly best? What I’ve come to realize…it’s all the best if it works for you. The act of bettering yourself is what truly matters at the end of the day. In a world of so much craziness and tearing each other down, the gift of kindness is one that we all have to give. The gift to support each other in our attempts to be better. Nutrition and living a healthier lifestyle is no different.

 

Work Hard Be Kind

”Work Hard, Be Kind…” It is our family’s motto. So much so that I whisper it to my kids as they head into school, so much so that it hangs on a banner in our kitchen and so much so that I had a shirt made to spread it to others. I feel like life can really be that simple.

So–it’s become my mission. To support people in their attempts to live a healthier lifestyle. To show people how to eat real food and find a healthy balance to enjoy something they love each day too. To spread nutritional love and support anybody and everybody who is trying each day to better themselves.

 

My Childhood

I grew up in a house where soda, Little Debbie’s and homemade noodles were a staple. It was no fault of my parents; honestly I think children of the 80s all had a similar experience. This health awareness revolution didn’t start until much later. Like most girls, I’ve always been self-conscience about my body but my parents never failed in making me feel beautiful. College became my true exposure to the importance of health. I was on my own, the controller of what I put in my body and the consequences it came with. I became obsessed, in an unhealthy way, with working out and eating. Part of it was being away from home and the other was the beginning of my desire to find a healthy, sustainable life.

After being Pre-Med and getting my degree in Life Science with a Physiology emphasis, I decided teaching was my path not doctoring (is that a word??). While completing my masters, I also became certified in group fitness. Along with teaching high school science and coaching basketball, I taught Spin, TBC, Step aerobics, etc. in order to help others find a fun way to be active. At that time, I had an unhealthy relationship with food. If I knew I was going to a social event I would jump on the treadmill for hours. If I indulged in Coldstone, I immediately had to go for a run. I joked and told people “I run to eat.” Little did they know—I really wasn’t joking. I punished myself for loving food—and I know many of you can relate.

 

When Nutrition Trumps Fitness

It wasn’t until after marriage and our second child that nutrition really began to trump fitness. I realized that my bad nutrition would never out due the calories I burned on that treadmill. I wasn’t cute and pregnant. I gained over 60 lbs with my daughter and dialed it back to 40lbs with our second. After two babies, my 20 something body was gone and I hated the new one I had acquired.

My body changed externally and internally. Through pregnancy I had acquired autoimmune changes that made me gluten intolerant. This diagnosis led me to the Paleo diet. I loved it, became obsessed with it and lost much of my baby weight with it. Then, I became the “Paleo Nazi.” I was the one at the party everybody thought they had to justify their eating habits to. I’ll be honest—I judged people for their food choices like I had an awakening they hadn’t yet experienced. I look back and hate myself for it. What I don’t apologize for is the knowledge that turning to a Paleo life gave me. It taught me food quality matters. That any “diet” should focus on whole foods made of mostly vegetables, fruits, lean meats and nuts and seeds. But what the Paleo diet is missing—is reality. I never let myself indulge and was truly miserable for it. I would watch friends enjoy chips and salsa and other treats at parties and be miserable. I was afraid to leave it for fear of weight gain and those dreaded “carbs.” I desperately needed freed. Freed from food guilt.

 

Much Needed Change

I was in need of a change. I had plateaued—I was unhappy with my health, my body, my athletic performance and my burden of not feeling honest about food. I began my own work with a nutrition coach, who later became my mentor, and it truly changed my life. Flexible dieting, or macro tracking, has been the most freeing food experience of my life. It is moderation to a tee. It has showed me, more than ever, that whole foods should be the bulk of your diet because they are truly the “biggest bang for your buck.” It has showed me that being on either extreme of the nutritional spectrum has no sustainability. Food is amazing. Food is meant to be enjoyed…in a way that meets your own personal goals that only you know. It has showed me that nutrient timing is critical to maximize your results. Most of all—it has showed me that I can enjoy the things I want because I am the driving force behind my own nutrition. Food is not WHO I am. Food is FUEL.

Here I am now: many clients coached, hundreds of pounds lost, personal records crushed and so many healthy relationships with food reestablished. I am only motivated more to continue to guide others in their journey. Watching my passion to support and encourage clients cultivate their success is gratification beyond words. What started as a small side hobby has turned into something that I truly feel inspired to do each day. Good nutrition and changing your food lifestyle is addictive. I can’t wait to continue to help others feel that same addiction.

So—here I am, “AWALK”…working hard, being kind and spreading nutritional love. Can’t wait for you to join me and take “AWALKmyway.”