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10 Tailgate Tips For Healthy Eating Success

Do you ever get excited about the football season? I always am at around, well, um… the end of February every year! We love football at our house!  Just the sound of it in the background makes me happy. My husband played football for a bit in college, and having a game on takes me back to our college days together and the total thrill of the game.

The Tailgate

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

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

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

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

10 Tailgate Tips For Healthy Eating Success

Pre-Plan

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

You can also plan ahead if YOU are the one catering for a group of people. Find ways to cut out the crap that you’d rather not eat. For example, use greek yogurt instead of mayo. Go without the bun if you plan on eating a few hot dogs or burgers. Add a side salad to the menu. Making healthier choices is easier when you pre-plan for them.

Bring Your Own Food

The great thing about most tailgating is that it’s potluck style. You can bring along a dish you love so that you know exactly what you are eating! For me, I love bringing some fresh and cut up fruit with a delicious dip. Or, I’ll bring some veggies in foil packs that can be thrown on the grill and enjoyed with burgers and hot dogs. This allows me more control over what I put in my body, and also allows me to enjoy the “not so great” foods in moderation. 

Eat Lean Leading Up To It

If you plan to really enjoy yourself and tailgating is your “go ham” moment then eat lean leading up to it. The morning of, prepare yourself an egg white omelet with lots of veggies and lean Canadian bacon. Stock up on greens and other veggies to fill you up with a lean lunch meat option like deli turkey, ham, tuna or chicken breast. Make a smoothie. Just fuel your body with healthy foods so you can indulge a bit at the tailgate. 

Pick A Lean Meat

Meat on the BBQ screams Tailgate. Choose one that you know will support your goals. Choose chicken breast, a lean pork tenderloin, salmon, or a lean cut of beef over a higher fat option like ribs or ribeyes. They taste amazing on a grill or in a smoker just like their full-fat sister options when done right. And on top of that, if you go a little overboard, it’s a lot easier to recover from the chicken breasts than it is a huge rack of ribs! 

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

OK — you are an adult and you should know how to say no!  You, however, must have the willpower to do so. Don’t blame your friends for your poor choices. They are not in charge of your health and well-being, you are. Be willing to stand up for your goals and follow through. They will respect you more for it.

Plan For Adult Beverages

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

Bring A Dip and Chips-“ish”

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

Pack Fruit

Fruit is a simple and healthy option that still gives you that snacking feeling and can even satisfy your sweet tooth. And bonus — you know there is nothing bad or guilty about eating fruit. You can even add a vanilla greek yogurt dip as a treat on the side.

Keep Your Protein Up

Make sure to eat your protein. Protein is usually scarce at social events. Be sure to hit that protein goal by planning ahead and maybe finishing off the night with a small quantity of a protein supplement to hit your goals! Plus, eating more protein will keep you satiated, and less likely to reach for those not so good for you snacks. 

Stick To The Plan

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

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

 

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

What are some of your favorite healthy tailgating recipes?

Work Hard Be Kind,

Awalk

Are You a Weekend Warrior?

Oh, the weekend. Two full days of no routine, little to no accountability, and a whole lot of opportunity for whatever the heck you want to do! My weekend calendar usually consists of a kid’s birthday party, family dinners, and errand running. Somewhere among all the business of the weekend comes FOOD. Food can easily consume your social life on a weekend or be a faint memory because of your jam-packed schedule. However, without a plan, your weekend can quickly halt your week-day nutritional progress.

You can stop the cycle

I’ve seen the cycle of losing motivation and jumping off the nutrition bandwagon often. The cycle basically goes like this — five days of awesome weekday eating and exercising, and then over the weekend, two days of haphazard. Then, Monday rolls around, which starts the cycle all over again. And the worst part? You weight the same as you did last Monday. This cycle continues over and over again…with little to no weekly progress. Be honest with yourself, are you being a weekend warrior? Or are you a weekend victim?

Don’t be a victim

Weekends are a challenge for even the most committed. It’s even harder when you’re just starting out on your wellness journey. We all have those social gatherings, birthday parties, and date nights. And sometimes, we just need a break from our weekday routines. But that leaves us tempted.

So, put those excuses aside. Don’t be a victim to the weekend and allow it to sabotage your results and goals. The hardest thing for me as a coach is to watch my clients fall victim to this cycle and literally come to a standstill. I know it’s even harder for my clients. That’s why it’s important to understand how the cycle works, and use the tips below to overcome it and become a weekend warrior.

(Ready to start taking the steps you want to take to become an everyday warrior? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

5 tips to help you become a weekend warrior

I am destined to help you become a weekend warrior.  Here are my 5 tips to use when you start to find yourself falling victim to your weekend.

Plan for the social event

Think about any events that you’ll have over the weekend, and start planning for them in advance. Where are you going to eat? What will be available to eat? Can you make substitutions or order something off the menu so you can stay on track with your goals? By asking yourself these questions, you can then gauge your responses and make healthier decisions. For example, if you know the BBQ place won’t provide the healthiest options for you, you may want to eat something at home and then enjoy an appetizer while you’re there. Plan ahead so you can be prepared!

Leave a cushion

I like to leave some extra cushion in my day too just in case I eat a bit more than expected. For this, you can check out the restaurant menu in advance or even call if you have questions about their nutritional information. I would hate for you to overindulge when it could have easily been avoided.

Say no!

Sometimes, it’s just easier to say no thank you to the food being offered at an event. When you are in control of your food, you just simply get more of it. It is actually nice sometimes to step back and put conversation or friendship at the forefront of a social gathering rather than the food that surrounds you.

Fill up on a great meal at home before heading to the gathering so the desire for food doesn’t even exist. At the very least, fill up on the healthier and more nutritious options (like veggies and hummus) and say no to those options that you know won’t help you reach your goals.

Keep the Adult Beverages in Check

Alcohol is a huge temptation in social settings. Remember, you don’t really need alcohol to survive. Sure, it’s delicious, and man does it make you feel good! However, alcohol is just a filler, and it’s not going to keep you full or help you stay healthy. Plus, by drinking alcohol, you’re filling your stomach with calories that you could’ve just eaten!

I don’t know about you, but I like to eat! I’m not saying you can’t drink alcohol, but drink it in moderation — as the body responds by identifying it as a toxin and hormones react to get rid of it. If you are pushing hard for results, consider passing on it for now.

Stick to Your Plan

This is the hardest of all the tips I’ve mentioned because it involves willpower.  The power to be in control of what you put into your body is easily challenged by the power of temptation. Why is it that the food that tastes the best is often the food that is the worst for you?

To be able to say no to something that prevents you from pursuing your goals is empowering. Sticking to your plan creates that domino effect of success that allows each no to become easier. Besides, wouldn’t you rather be able to say that you stuck to your plan and are reaching your goals than say that you keep breaking your promises to yourself?

It’s time to BE a weekend warrior! 

I want you to do something for me. I want you to push hard for seven days, stick to your plan, and eat wholesome food. I also want you to exercise regularly and do some activities that you love doing. It can be anything from CrossFit, to walking around the block a few times, to attending a kickboxing class. Just take the time and stick to your plan, and you will quickly start seeing the benefits. Monday won’t hit you in the face so hard! And then, you will really begin to see that your seven days of hard work is 100% worthwhile. I promise you, it really does work.

Do you struggle to stick to your plan for the weekend? Let’s talk about it!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

What are macros?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are macros?

Calculating your TDEE

Calculating your target macros

Tips to getting started

 

What Are Macros?

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

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

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

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

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

“Macro tracker”

“What are the macros on that?”

“Dial in your macros”

“Adjust your macros”

 

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

What Are Macros: The Reality

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

What Are Macros: The Scientific Basics   

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

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

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

Energy In Macronutrients   

Each macronutrient has a value of energy it provides when consumed

Protein: 4 kcal/gram

Carbohydrates: 4 Kcal/gram

Fat: 9 Kcal/gram

 

That means if a food item has …

20 grams of protein= 80 Kcal

35 grams of carbohydrates= 140 Kcals

8 grams of fat= 72 Kcals

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

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

 

Carbohydrates

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

 

Fats

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

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

 

Protein

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

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

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

Where Do I Start?

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

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

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

Determine your TDEE

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Determine your level of activity

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

Select which multiplier fits your activity level:

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

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

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

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

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

Determine total TDEE

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

TDEE= BMR x activity multiplier

 

Let’s look at an example:

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

 

Her BMR will look like this:

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

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

990 + 987.5 – 185 -161=1631.5

 

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

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

1631.5 x 1.5=2445 kcal

 

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

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

                       

Establishing macronutrient targets

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

The first place to start: protein.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Carbohydrate and Fat targets

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

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

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

Because protein has a value of 4 kcal/gram:

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

 

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

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

 

1945 x .30= 583

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

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

 

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

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

Leaving Brooke’s final targets:

Protein: 130 grams

Carbohydrate: 210 grams

Fat: 64 grams 

 

Disclaimer

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

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

What’s Next?

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

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

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

Put it in perspective

There is a general misconception that tracking your macros means you will live with your head buried in your phone for the rest of your life.  That you will be “stuck” using the MyFitnessPal app for-evaaa.

WRONG! (insert buzzard noise here)

For some who thrive on accountability, you just might.  And if that works for you I say “heck yes”.

But for others that isn’t sustainable.  What is sustainable is investing time in learning to understand macronutrient value and portion size by weighing and measuring to acquire the skills necessary to begin to eyeball the portions your body needs to maintain your goals. Day-to-day practice becomes habit and may help you eat intuitively down the road.

Why It Works

When 2 out of every 3 adults are considered to be “obese” in the U.S. then clearly there is a misunderstanding in the energy balance needs of our bodies.

There is no “magic” behind tracking macros (although many of my clients would disagree…lol). The “magic” is a scientific approach to fueling your body with the right quantity of fuel for your goals. It is creating a caloric deficit or surplus, driven by goals, and having such great food awareness that you have the power to shift in whichever direction you want and need. Beyond that, it is day-to-day consistency that yields progress.

Macro tracking is effective because there are not an “off limits” food list.  In fact, the learning curve when you begin tracking macros is HUGE because most clients realize that junk food consumes a majority of their daily macro budget if they eat it.  The more whole, real foods you consume, the more food you have to enjoy in a day.

 

Over Restriction Breeds Non-Compliance

I’ve been there.  I followed a strict Paleo approach to eating for years after I discovered I had a gluten sensitivity. There was so much value in that experience, including the knowledge I gained in food quality and awareness.

The problem was that it restricted so many foods. When I had a desperate craving for something that wasn’t on the list of approved foods I would have a non-Paleo bender of tortilla chips, hummus, ice cream and gluten-free pizza.  My caloric intake quadrupled over a weekend and then I wondered why I was constantly starting over on Monday.

Once I discovered a balanced approach to eating I found myself consuming more real-foods, heavy on micro nutrients, than ever.

What’s even more amazing is I crave those foods less because they aren’t “off-limits” and I don’t feel the pressure to deny myself.  It’s kind of like when your parents tell you that you can’t date the “bad boy” when you are a teenager.  The more they say no the more desperate you become to find the “Danny Zuko” of your school and make it official. (shameless Grease plug…I was obsessed with that movie growing up.)

You Will Have Struggles

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

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

Always Have a Goal in Mind

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

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

Measure to Become Food Aware

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

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

Use an App

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

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

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

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

Backwards Plan

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

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

Understand the impact of alcohol                                

Is alcohol a macronutrient?  

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

So…whydoes not track the carbs on the label?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Be easy on yourself

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

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

Focus on macros, not calories

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

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

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

Increase diversity

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

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

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

Seek the 90/10

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

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

 

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

Tracking is right for you if:

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

 

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

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

               Work Hard Be Kind,                

AWalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Grub Diary #3: What I Ate In A Day

Daily Grub Diary #3

We are all such creatures of habit.  We tend to eat the foods we were raised on, shop in the same grocery stores and order the same things when we go out to eat.

I hate food habit.  I joke with people and say I have food (and workout) A.D.D.  I don’t like eating the same exact thing every day and I feel the same about my workouts.  I get bored fast and need something new to keep me motivated and compliant.  I think that is one of the main reasons I fell in love with Crossfit.

But I too fall victim to redundancy and have a few staples I gravitate towards in my busy life.  I am always open to suggestions and love when current and past clients send me food they think I must try (so keep it coming)!

I began my Grub Diaries to share with people what I eat in order add a little diversity into their own diet and get out of a food rut.  You can visit diary 1 here and diary two here.

Tired of the same food routine in your life?  Download my Trader Joe’s “Must Have” shopping list to add some diversity to your weekly menu!

What I ate on April 13, 2017

 

Breakfast

My coffee is still more like a ritual.  I go to bed dreaming of it and wake up sprinting for it.  I guess I could be dreaming of worse, right?!?!

For breakfast I fried 1 whole and 2 egg whites up in a quick spray of olive oil.  I am often asked what I do with yolks.  My pets are the lucky recipients of those yolks most mornings and they are right at my feet waiting for them.

Alongside the eggs I toasted 2 slices of Little Northern Bakehouse Millet and Chia Seed bread. I spread 1 tablespoon of Costco Organic Peanut Butter between the 2 slices and 1 tablespoon of Crofters Superfruit Jam.  I recently found the Superfruit flavor and it has ZERO added cane sugar in it, just fruit.

 

While breakfast cooked I threw a Chuck Roast into the Crock Pot to cook all day with 1 jar of mild banana peppers to make my own version of Italian beef.

 

 

Lunch:

The night before I had made one of our favorite recipes, a Paleo spin on Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana.  I use  a modified version of the recipe from www.tastesoflizzyt.com. I usually leave out the bacon or butter to reduce fat.  In my opinion, you just don’t need it. I also use white sweet potatoes for a hint of sweet to the savory flavor of the soup.  I saute the meat and then let it cook with the broth, and potatoes and spices all day.  Then roughly a ½ hour before we eat I add in fresh shredded kale and 1 cup coconut milk as the recipe suggests.  And I promise, you can’t even taste a hint of the coconut flavor in it.  I think it tastes even yummier the day after too.

 

Snack:

I was still a bit hungry after the soup so I opted for some veggies to leave more space in my day for dinner (because I love what was to come).  So I sliced up some cucs and mini sweet peppers, poured 1-2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar over top with salt and pepper to taste.  So yummy!

 

Pre-Workout:

About two hours after lunch I knew I would be grabbing the kids from school and sneaking in a quick workout.  I hate working out hungry.  I feel like it zaps the energy right out of me.

My pre-workout snack was a rice cake topped with 1 tablespoon PB Fit and half a sliced banana (and I ate the other half alone).  This is a go-to snack for me. The crunch, with the sweet and salty makes me happy.

Dinner:

I wanted to share a super simple recipe in this post that you can prep ahead and can fit into a busy life. My house smelled fantastic all day with the chuck roast cooking in my Crock pot.

About thirty minutes before it was done I sauteed cauliflower rice in 1 teaspoon avocado oil (you can easily leave this out to save room on fat) and a small amount of vegetable broth to soften.  I love cauliflower rice to add volume to a rice dish and to sneak in that additional vegetable serving. In another pan I followed the directions on the Lundberg Basmati rice to prep it and boom…it was so dang good.

 

Bedtime Snack:

I love a snack somewhere after dinner but not too close to bed.  It is never anything heavy and frequently it is this: 1 tablespoon of my fresh homemade cashew pecan butter (recipe coming soon to the blog) that I save for all day and a few Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

So, cheers to food diversity and continually trying something new while still working in that something we love each day.

P.S. Do you want to shop for some of my favorite finds from above along with others from Trader Joe’s? Click HERE to get my Must-Have Trader Joe’s Macro Friendly and Gluten Free Finds!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

Afternoon Pick Me Up Shake

Afternoon Pick Me Up Shake

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When my kids are asleep–it is go time for me!  This includes nap time.  The moment they are resting I am full speed ahead to knock out my “to-do” list.  Before I started tracking my macros, I really hit afternoon lows and was in desperate need of nap time over go-time.  This in fact is one reason I really fell in love with tracking because I noticed a huge difference in my afternoon “lag” and its disappearance.

 

One thing I love while I work is an afternoon beverage (no…not that kind).  I love some type of coffee option that doesn’t provide lots of caffeine, satisfies my afternoon craving and tastes fabulous!

 

So–enjoy this simple recipe to fill your macro day with an afternoon pick me up full of balance and taste.

 

Afternoon Pick Me Up Shake

1/2 Ripe Banana

(A frozen one is even better)

2 oz Cold Brew Coffee (or some of the morning’s leftovers even.  I am lucky enough to have a decaf coldbrew option from Big Red Coldbrew)

10g Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

4 oz Almond Milk (Or other milk of choice skim, 2%)

1 Tablespoon PB fit

1 Tablespoon Cocoa powder

 

 

 

 

Place all ingredients in a blender, I use the Magic Bullet, blend and then drink the heck out of it! I love to pour it over ice and drink from an icy cold mason jar.

 

Total Macros in the Shake:

Protein:12 grams

Carbohydrates: 20 grams

Fat: 3 grams

Enjoy your afternoon pick me up filled with balance, taste and some good macro value!

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

,

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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Cheap and Easy Scale

My Favorite Food Scale

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The purpose behind the use of a food scale for tracking macronutrients is two-fold.  First, it guarantees accuracy.  It allows you to control the quantities of food you take in to better estimate their nutritional value.  Second, it allows you to develop the skill set to begin to be able to “eyeball” those quantities when the scale is unavailable or when you have fully developed the super-hero power of perfect weighing.

A scale doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.  The scale I’ve had for years is cheap and gets the job done just perfectly!