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Scale Obsession

The dreaded scale. Sometimes I just want to take that thing and throw it as far as possible. Some days it is my best friend. I know the scale obsession feeling well. 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 to use, and many people resort to it because the scale should tell you everything, right?  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. The scale obsession has to stop. Understanding and taking time to assess and celebrate your other progress indicators is key to your physical AND mental success.

Your Health

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. For example, the scale may have you thinking you’re overweight. But if it’s all muscle, and if you feel good because you’re eating healthy and wholesome foods, wouldn’t that mean the scale is wrong?

(Ready to stop putting your health on the backburner? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

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’s 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.

Food awareness is more about knowing what you’re putting into your body, vs. trying to stick to a calorie goal. A low-fat coffee cake isn’t healthy just because it’s low-fat. Bananas are calorie and carb dense, but they’re healthy for you. See where I’m going here? Food awareness is important, especially when you’re looking to take care of your body long-term.

Your Performance

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. No matter what it is, you have to perform every day in your 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.

Your 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.

Your Confidence

Confidence trumps composition any day in my opinion. Gaining the ability to love you for you, the body you walk with every day 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!”. But 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.

(Want to build your confidence and love what you see in the mirror? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

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 reflect 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!

Have you ditched the scale before? How did it make you feel?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Do You Know Your Food

I had a recent conversation with a friend who was so excited to tell me about her “fat-free” olive oil spray. I remember thinking —huh? It’s olive oil; made of only one macronutrient… fat. After some discussion, I helped her to realize that the serving size listed on the can was for a 2-second spray. The reason the manufacturer could claim that it was “fat-free” on the label was that there wasn’t enough fat in one serving to have to label the fat content. Then I realized — if she didn’t understand that, there are many more people just like her out there!  It made me want to ask, do you know your food?

Do you know your food?

How well do you know your food labels? Do you know what’s really in your food? Are you familiar with the terms that many brands and companies use to entice you to buy their products? Let’s put your knowledge to the test!

(Ready to get in the habit of knowing your food and nourishing your body? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Product Labeling

Fat-free, sugar-free, and low-fat are all labels you find commonly on foods. But do you really know what these common food labels mean to the food you are putting into your body? I dug a little deeper into the Food and Drug Administration’s website to find out exactly what a product must contain or not contain to acquire these labels. Here are my findings.

“Sugar-free”:  When a label says it is “sugar-free” it means the sugar has been replaced with another artificial sweetener made through a chemical process. The FDA requires that sugar-free products labeled sugar-free have less than 0.5 gram of sugar in a serving. Sugar-free sweeteners and sugar alcohols like aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, xylitol, sorbitol, or maltitol may be some of the ingredients you read on labels replacing sugar and lowering carb calories. Because of their lower carb offerings “sugar-free’’ foods are very popular. However, their nutritional risk may outweigh their rewards based on an article released by Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health (1).

“Non-Fat”: To be considered non-fat the product must contain less than .5 grams of fat per serving. In other words, a 2-second spray of olive oil can be considered non-fat… even though olive oil is a fat.

“Reduced Fat”: When something is “reduced fat” that just means that it must contain at least 25% less fat per serving than the food it is referencing, typically the full-fat sister version. The way the fat content is reduced varies greatly depending on the food type.

“Vitamin Fortified”: A fortified food simply has vitamins, minerals or other nutrients not normally present in the food added to it during processing.  This is typical because processing them takes out any minerals and vitamins that existed. Fortification began long ago when large-scale public health concerns led to the need for vitamins and mineral increases due to major deficiencies. As it stands right now, fortification still exists on a sliding scale dependent on culture and location (2).

Knowledge is Power

If you truly KNOW your food, you can make informed decisions about what you put into your body.  Labels can be deceiving and manufacturers sometimes take advantage of labeling loopholes to entice shoppers. As you progress through your nutrition and life journey, I believe it teaches you a lot about your own food boundaries. As adults, we make important health decisions, not just for ourselves, but for our entire family. For me, my choices aren’t just about me. They influence my children and my husband. My choices can also impact their health either negatively or positively. With those decisions comes both reward and consequence. So, I challenge you to read your labels and get to know your food.

Fooducate

At the early stages of really investigating food quality, I discovered a great resource called Fooducate. It quickly became one of my favorite tools. It gave me more insight into the foods I was eating or interested in eating during the learning process.

Fooducate offers a website filled with great info, but the app is where the real power is. Fooducate offers a “health tracker” to log your daily food intake. It is incredibly close to My Fitness Pal, which I also love. The feature that I love from Fooducate is their “Food Finder” option. It allows you to scan the food and will then give you a food quality rating of A-D. The rating is based on nutrient density, ingredient lists, amount of processing, and a few other variables. I encourage you to download the app. It really allows you to evaluate the quality of the foods you purchase regularly.

Fuel for My Passion

This very topic is what motivated me to take my passion to social media and the internet. I want people to think about what they are fueling their body with and find a sustainable balance with that knowledge. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is meant to give you goals to hit on a daily basis to guide you to the progress you are looking for.

In my opinion, a healthy lifestyle is not meant to be a system to consume foods that have no nutritional and beneficial content that allows you to manipulate more foods into your day because of their chemical composition. Moderation is key and having these foods occasionally can be a valuable enhancement to sustainability, but shouldn’t be a frequent addition to your day.

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

Sustainability in leading a healthy lifestyle doesn’t come from living at either end of the restriction or glutton spectrum. Sustainability comes from finding a lifestyle that works long-term, that helps you gain power through knowledge about what you are eating, and that gives you confidence in yourself. Knowledge truly is power, and I want you to have power in your choices.

Are you surprised to hear about food labeling? What do you look for when choosing food products?

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

Resources:

(1) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/artificial-sweeteners/

(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3319130/

Click HERE for more of the FDA’s labeling information

Why Age Is No Excuse

If you’ve checked out my Feel Amazing Naked program, you may know that I truly believe anyone can look and feel their best, no matter their age. And the same goes for you! Age is no excuse, and here’s why.

My Own CrossFit Beginnings

I found CrossFit at the ripe age of 30. At 6 weeks postpartum, I was desperate for a fitness change to get back into shape after 2 kids and the chaos that I had now called motherhood. I was 100% intimidated, 100% nervous, and 100% addicted the moment I started. I have passionately loved the sport for 5 years now, I’m both an athlete and coach.

My Mom, A CrossFitter?

My mom is the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. She has worked since she was 14 years old, has had a successful career and somehow managed to never miss any activity I was in. I remember how she put every ounce of her soul into raising me. She was a superwoman and I didn’t quite grasp that relevance until I had my own kids.

Like most women her age, she gave herself to being a mom, and as a result somewhat lost sight of her own goals, her own health, and her mojo. When my mom came to me over 2 years ago and said “I think I want to try CrossFit with you,” I said “Really?”.

I’ll be honest, I had a major internal struggle. She was almost 60 and had not been an athlete her whole life… at all (although she will tell you that 1 semester of college cheerleading qualifies)/ I was scared for her, especially because CrossFit isn’t easy. It is high-intensity, gut-checking, and both internally and externally competitive. I didn’t know if she had it in her.

To be 100% honest, I share all aspects of my life with her and this was the one place I got to escape, to push myself, to challenge myself and to feel on top of the world for a brief moment in time. I was nervous to let her into this CrossFit “cult” I belonged to. That moment of hesitation quickly faded when I realized she needed all of those things too. Needless to say, she’s never looked back.

The CrossFit Open

My mom’s love for CrossFit grew wildly. She was showing up almost every day to complete the same workout surrounded by 20-and-30 somethings with rock-solid abs and bulging biceps. I didn’t really think much about her success at her first workout or the ones the directly followed. Was I a horrible daughter for that?

Of course, I was proud and inspired by her courage but I never really paused to think about the greater significance of my mom, the “CrossFitter.” I really started to reflect on what being a “CrossFitter” truly meant to her months later, during that year’s CrossFit Open. That’s right. After CrossFitting for just over a year, and at 60 years old, she decided to give the Open a go. She had no expectations, little CrossFit experience, and really no clue. What she did have was an attitude that she COULD participate 110%. That turned out to be of more value than any experience needed.

16.5 Was More Than Burpees and Thrusters

I had the privilege of judging her for 16.5…the dreaded thruster and burpees over the bar combo (both her nemesis). I rolled out of bed early to come and cheer her on, sleepy-faced and completely unaware of the emotions that would soon take me over.

The timer counted down and she began. We had a strategy for her survival and I guided her through it. Small sets, slow and steady. She struggled, a WOD face in full effect until every single rep was done. My body shivered with the realization that this moment was so much more than any workout would ever be.  It was about her digging deep, going to a place she had little experience with, to prove that at almost 61 years old, she could.

She didn’t allowing her age in life to stop her from doing things she never had. It was a turning point for me as a spectator but more importantly, as her daughter. Tears rolled down my face as she completed the last few reps because I was proud. She was the last to finish and honestly, we were engaged in our moment together so deeply that we had no idea. For a few minutes of time, we switched rolls, and I fully embraced being the proud “mom.”

Age Is No Excuse

As if just being a “CrossFitter” wasn’t enough, she saw an opportunity to compete for the first time and took it. She joined forces with another CrossFit grandma and in a gym filled with experienced female CrossFitters, the two of them stole the show. They hit personal records that weren’t just weight based, they hit life records.

It didn’t matter how much weight was on that bar, they were satisfying deep rooted goals that most of us don’t even understand yet. With every single lift, the crowd roared and their eyes filled with shock and a clear passion for more. It was as if they were the leaders in the CrossFit Games and the rest of us just couldn’t get enough. It was a moment too hard to truly capture into words that we will all remember forever.

Reflecting

I get game gut showing up to workouts — you know the kind of nervous belly that makes you feel you aren’t sure if you have to puke or…well, you know. The amount of courage it continually takes her to show up is only magnified. And you know what? She does it almost every day. Her day actually starts at 5:30 in the morning.

She is rarely the fastest or lifts the heaviest and it doesn’t bother her in the slightest. My mom is there for other reasons, ones that far exceed either of the aforementioned ones. She’s there to prove to herself she can. She is there to be able to wrestle, swim, and get on the floor with my kids. She is there to inspire the other 50+ men and women, and for that matter, all of us. She’s a testament to not allowing age to ever be an excuse. If you ask her, she will tell you that the time she makes for this will give her so much time for life.

Why You Are Missing Out

My mom’s story alone supports the amazing life changes being active can bring.  Numerous studies done about activity in adults only further the cause.  Aside from the mental benefits of being active, research continually supports the need for activity in adults, especially those over the age of 50.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine , the benefits of a regular strength training increase cardiovascular fitness, reduce depression, increase bone density, and lower insulin resistance. Second to smoking, a lack of fitness is linked to the main reason for the early cause of death. In addition, the benefits of progressive resistance training are so powerful that research suggests they extend beyond the basic improvement of strength and cardiovascular health, and actually shift the genetic makeup of muscle. Why would you ever want to miss out on all of these benefits?

It’s A Cycle

Not only did CrossFitting make my mom aware of her fitness, it caused her to think about her eating habits too. She wants to feel good every time she gets into the gym and wants to be able to recover fast.  My mom now thinks about what she is putting inside her body. She loves the feeling of an awesome workout and knows the bigger importance of fueling her body at her age for more.  She still works a full time job, is a mom, is a grandma, and has to deal with menopause. When all of those aspects of life are supported by good nutrition and fitness, they are more rich because of it.

CrossFit Grandmas

It’s a revolution, a movement, a challenge to our ingrained aging perspective that we are too old at some point to pursue a goal. I wrote this post because I know so many women, in their middle ages and beyond, think that they are too old to invest in themselves. I am here to tell you that I’ve never seen my mom walk around with more confidence than she has now. You get one chance to live your life the way you want it, every moment, until the end. It is never too late to pursue your health; in training, in nutrition, and in mindset. Let my Mom, and the many other “CrossFit Grandmas”, inspire you to believe in yourself, reestablish your worth and achieve goals you never even knew you had.

What’s a goal you’ve set for yourself this year? Have you achieved it?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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What 35 years of experience has taught me…

What 35 years of experience have taught me…

I turn 35 this week.

I normally don’t care much for my birthday.  In all honesty, celebrating and making a big commotion about it has never been my thing.  I am not a “birthday month” or even a “birthday week” kinda girl.  I like low key, being with my family and still having my mom make my birthday meal (and I know she loves it too).

I grew to appreciate my birthday, more for my parents, after having my own children.  The birth of my own children was the most significant day of my life and I can empathize with their feelings on my own birthday.

This year has felt different.  I still don’t need a birthday week or a month…but this year I do want to celebrate. The 35th year of my life has provided me so much growth that I feel like I am beginning anew in my 36th year of life.

In my 35 years of life, I have learned to…

 

Read more

I’ve learned to invest time in reading.  I never read much as a child or even as a student, only the things I really “had to.”  Reading continues my path towards lifelong learning, it sets me up as an example to my children and it helps me to cultivate my craft as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, a friend, a coach and as a human.

Fill my soul, not my calendar

I’ve learned to say NO.  Quite honestly, it was one of the greatest gifts of knowledge I’ve learned this year.   It feels liberating to say no to things that weren’t my absolute best yes.  To say no to things that wouldn’t leave me walking away from any richer in mind, in conversation or in spirit is freeing.

A quote from a book I read this year by Lysa TerKeurst entitled “Best Yes” still remains a constant reminder of this:

“The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live determines how you spend your soul.”

Be OK with being uninvited

I’ve learned to be thankful to be uninvited at times.  I spent so many years with heartbreak from not being included, from being left out and from feeling less than.  I am done with that and I am moving on with gratitude for a far less busy schedule.

Slow Down

I’ve learned to slow down.  To get on the floor and build legos, color, bake and not rush through the day trying to always accomplish my “to-do” list.  I’ve learned to actually sit and snuggle with my husband while we watch a movie instead of doing laundry or making a shopping list. Tomorrow is a new day and some things will just have to wait.

Invest in me

I’ve learned to invest in self-growth.  To read books and talk to people who challenge my perspective, who make me answer the hard questions…the ones you struggle to answer honestly to yourself.  I’ve taken time to not just do for the sake of “doing,” but really try my best to act intentionally.

Eat Quality Foods

This isn’t something that really just happened this year.  But in taking my business to social media, it has really made my passion for sharing it even bigger.  Spare no expense for quality foods in your life.

Set Goals

I’ve learned to set goals.  To physically write them down and cross them off my list.  If you don’t hold yourself accountable then nobody else will.  It doesn’t matter if you are 35, 13 or 61 you must have goals to keep you young at heart, to keep your brain active and to never allow your life to become stagnant.

Find Beauty in Simplicity

I’ve learned that I may never know how to contour my makeup or know the best beauty tricks, or how to coordinate the best outfits.  It just simply isn’t me.  I used to feel like this made me less of a woman but now I realize I just have different priorities. I love t-shirts and jeans and cut-offs. I am simple, not fancy, and I’ve finally found beauty in that.

Know My Why

The moment I feel like I am floundering I have begun to realize it’s the moment I’ve lost my “why.”  I’ve learned I have to have a “why” to drive my passion or life gets idle.  Find your drive, your reason, and when you do, things move in the direction of your heart.

Get Out of My Comfort Zone

This was my motto last year and will continue to drive me to the peak of the mid-30s.  Nothing extraordinary comes from being comfortable.  It feels good and safe but you never grow from it.  I’ve done things this year that literally made me almost vomit from nerves and then I felt so empowered after.  I’ve grown my small business and taken it to social media, I’ve put my face on live video for thousands of people to critique, I’ve written and shared things that I can barely say out loud and it feels so dang amazing.  The greatest growth really has happened outside my cozy place.

I’ve learned to do what makes me happy. Period.

 

Eat More Burgers

I used to hate them and I have no idea why.  Burgers have become my soul food. I’ve learned to enjoy them more.

Lift Heavy

I’ve learned that not doing cardio won’t kill me.  LOL.  I love running and met-cons more than anybody.  But, I’ve learned that getting strong, adding muscle, being bulkier and lifting heavier than I ever have is pretty darn gratifying too.

Accept the Mess

I’ve learned that it is okay to have a messy house.  If there are dust bunnies on the shelves, dishes in the sink and laundry in baskets that I have more important things to do.

Narrow My Circle

I’ve learned to narrow my circle.  I just can’t be everything to everybody and nor can they to me.  The definition of friend has evolved for me and is a title I use less willingly these days.  I need friends who support me, who are honest and who will call me out when I need it.  Those friends are hard to find and thus, my circle has shrunk.

Be a Beginner

I’ve learned that it is okay to be a beginner and to admit that I don’t know.  This is a hard pill to swallow for me.  Surrounding myself with people who have more experience in life than I have will only bring more value to who I am as a person.  Going back to the beginning is sometimes necessary.

Pack His Lunch

I’ve learned that packing my husband’s lunch brings me peace.  I know it’s random…but it is one of the only ways I feel like I can prepare him for battle.  When he leaves the house, sometimes I feel so empty and unsure, but if I know I helped him be ready in some way then he will come home safe to us.

I’ve learned that mortality is real.  For years I’ve ignored it.  I no longer can.

Accept Food as food

I’ve learned that food is not who I am.  I’ve found balance in my nutritional life and I will never be able to help all people find that place.  In the meantime, I hope to help as many people who will let me.

Put Family First

I’ll admit, there are times in my life both as a child and an adult that I put my family second.  That I may have chosen a social event with a friend over quality time with family.  That just won’t happen anymore.

Turn off the Radio

I’ve learned to turn the music off in the car and talk.  Our driving time is sometimes some of perfect moments to truly hear what is going on in the minds of my children.  As they get older, I know this time will become even more valuable and scarce.

Question Authenticity

I’ve learned that I can no longer subscribe to “fluffy.” Invest in confronting things that aren’t real.  I can’t preach it to my kids if I don’t do it myself.  Take time to stand up for what you believe in and for those that don’t have the courage or the confidence to do it for themselves.  I am finding peace in quality over quantity in so many ways.

Accept that I am Far from Perfect

I’ve learned that even though I’ve learned all of these things…that I am far from perfect.  I wasn’t always okay with not being perfect.  I like being perfect, being first, being the best and all those other totally OCD Type A personality traits (I know you know them too).  But the moment I accepted I will never be perfect was the moment life started to be REAL.

 

Cheers to 35 years of experience that I have gained, that I can share and that I can only hope my friends, my family, and my children will come to know as well.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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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 just by helping people lose weight or to set a personal record in the gym. But 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. I love to make and eat just plain, simple, real food.

So these requests inspired me to share “My Daily Grub Diary”, or a what I eat daily, to help people better understand that planning, preparing, and being what I call “food aware” is completely doable. Whether you have been on a health journey for years or are just looking for ideas on how to eat more clean, my what I eat daily blog posts are for you.

I also think it is important to know where I am in my nutritional journey. I’m currently 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.

(Ready to stop putting your health on the backburner? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

What I Eat Daily: 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 between 4:30 and 5 am every single day. The only day I don’t wake up this early is Sunday. I’ll sometimes sleep until 6:30 am then. I work a part-time job from home, run my own small business, and write for my blog. Needless to say, I have a large to-do list. Early mornings are my quiet time to put in a few hours of work or reading before my kiddos wake up 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 must have been 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.

7:30 am – Breakfast

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 for my family, so I make sure my meals are simple and easy for our quick turnaround between activities.

8:30 am – Pre Workout Snack

I love being able to squeeze in a pre-workout snack with some good fat and carbs. I try to choose the most wholesome and quick option as possible. One of my favorite options 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 were more into a weight loss or maintenance mode, I would personally avoid fat around workouts all together.

Post Workout

This is the time that I usually prefer to take something in a liquid form. It gets back into the bloodstream a bit faster and falls into that “magic” window.  I usually ha ave 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 afterward.  Today, I was craving a turkey burger. That’s the great thing about healthy eating. I can have whatever I want, and not feel guilty about it because I make a few changes to fit my lifestyle and goals. Anyway, 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 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 to help me get through the rest of the day, without the crankiness.

Dinner

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 the family to share. Once soft and cooked throughout, I piled on my shredded chicken and topped with buffalo sauce and a bit of Greek Yogurt. We also had side of greens.

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Bedtime Snack

When my kiddos go to bed, my hubby and I settle in for a little Netflix and chill, or I’ll 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.

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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

 

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!

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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

5 Main Benefits of Collagen To Your Health

This post may contain affiliate links.

Clients, friends, and family often ask me how they can increase protein in their diet.  I love to try and get my protein from a variety of sources. Each type of protein offers a varying list of amino acid profiles, each rich in their own unique benefit to the body. One of my favorite sources of protein is through collagen or collagen hydrolysate.

So what is collagen?

Collagen is a crucial and abundant protein in our body responsible for making up connective tissue, skin, hair, and nails.  In fact, collagen makes up about a third of the body’s protein content. It’s actually one of the building blocks of the human body. Not only can it help improve your health, both below and above the surface, but it’s also been known to increase your “glow”. It’s a pretty versatile protein. When boiled down, it turns into a gelatinous substance. That substance can then be dehydrated and used to create a powder or liquid form. So in essence, there are many benefits of collagen to your health.

Collagen as a supplement

As we age, collagen production in our bodies slows down (say what?!?!). Joints and muscles become weak, skin sags and well, you get the rest… we get old! A collagen supplement can offer an increase in the body’s own diminishing supply. I decided to try collagen as a daily supplement for my husband who has a history of abuse from years of football injuries. He wanted a “bonus” for his joints and I was up for the research and discovery too.

5 benefits of collagen

There are so many benefits of collagen. But here are the top 5 reasons why collagen may be a great supplement to your day.

Anti-Inflammatory

Collagen is high in the amino acid glycine, which has anti-inflammatory effects in the body. A recent study found (1), among many other benefits, that glycine acts against inflammatory cells of the body and stops their reproduction.

Due to this, it can also promote a healthy gut. And a healthy gut is a happy gut. If you suffer from chronic inflammation, or if you have digestive health issues, collagen may be able to help.

Helps Build Muscles

For athletes, collagen helps promote natural creatine production for post workout muscle growth as well as arginine for increased muscle mass. So if you’re bodybuilding, or just looking to build some baby muscles, add collagen to your routine!

Increases Your Skin’s Elasticity

Elasticity is when you can stretch your skin and it returns back to its normal state afterward. As we age, it’s common for the skin to lose elasticity, also known as elastosis. Unfortunately, Elastosis could be worse in people who spend a lot of time in the sun. So if you’ve spent time sunbathing, playing outside sports, or working a job that requires you to be outside often, you may have noticed Elastosis more than normal.

Collagen has been proven to actually increase skin’s elasticity. In another collagen study (2), subjects given an oral collagen supplement showed a measurable difference in skin elasticity in only 4 weeks of ingestion.

Increased Bone Density

Collagen supplementation has also been linked (3) to increase bone density and the proliferation of more bone creating cells.

Reduced Joint Pain

One of the biggest benefits of collagen that I’ve noticed, especially for my husband who has suffered from joint injury/pain, is the supplement’s potential to reduce joint pain. (4) It worked for my husband, and it has been beneficial as a part of his routine. So it may work for you!

Which collagen is the best?

I’ve tried many collagen supplements.  Many have done awesome and a few have fallen short. When it comes to collagen, quality matters and Vital Proteins fits my requirements: high quality, no fillers, and a reasonable price point.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is my supplement pick.  It is high quality and is cold soluble so it doesn’t get too gooey when cold. I love to put a scoop (10 grams) in my morning coffee or in my afternoon pick-me-up shake for a protein boost.  It is odorless and tasteless but carries some amazing properties you should be benefiting from too.

 

There are collagen creamers too!

Vital must have heard our love of collagen as a protein boost in coffee because they answered by creating new creamers.  Each creamer is slightly flavored and still packs the benefits (including protein) of their regular collagen.  The bonus is a bit of flavor added from natural ingredients and MCTs, a brain healthy fat source. And while the benefits of collagen would outweigh any negative flavor or texture (at least for me), it’s nice to know that there are some delicious options!

 

 

Collagen Beauty Greens

Another product that I love from Vital is their Collagen Beauty Greens. At a much higher price point, the Beauty Greens are a blend of of marine collagen peptides, non-GMO organic greens, hyaluronic acid (5) and probiotics.  The flavor is very earthy in taste but delivers some serious benefits of collagen and micro nutrient benefits.

Allergic or sensitive to whey or beef? 

Vital Proteins also offers a marine blend derived from wild-caught Snapper.

 

I recommend Vital Proteins because I believe their quality surpasses the rest.  It is the motto of my business, quality over quantity.  I only recommend products that I believe in and use myself. In an effort to be completely transparent with my readers, if you do purchase a Vital Proteins Product from a link above I receive a very small affiliate commission. This commission continues to allow me to write even more awesome content for my blog. Thank you in advance for your support! Now, go get those benefits of collagen! 

Have you tried collagen and love it? What amazing effects did it have on you?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

 

Resources:

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12589194

(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23949208

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19895915

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885

(5) http://www.jmnn.org/article.asp?issn=2278-1870;year=2015;volume=4;issue=1;spage=47;epage=53;aulast=Borumand

 

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Carb Up on Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is too easy to pass up!  Watch this quick tip video to see how easy it is to prepare with your dinner tonight!

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Chicken Salad

I love a chicken salad..it is easy to adjust to meet your macro needs and a great way to get lean protein in!  Check out this recipe for a quick and simple version of Chicken Salad.