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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

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

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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Costco Shopping List

Costco List

Costco.

 

Enough said right?

 

When I mention Costco it ignites a fight or flight response, you vision money leaving your bank account and battling for a parking spot among a sea of retirees.

 

It’s true…it does the same for me.  However, I don’t think we can dispute the fact that they offer some really amazing bang for your buck foods and have come a long way in food quality.

One Trip Per Month

Personally, I limit myself to one Costco expedition a month to fit within my budget.  I plan for it and have become the master of Costco execution leaving with real food options that support both our micro and macro nutritional needs.

 

After my awesome feedback from my Trader Joe’s Shopping List I had many requests for more of my favorite things.  I decided to tackle Costco first.  Just like my TJs list you will find that my choices are always gluten free with a few “gluten-rific” options that my family is able to enjoy.

 

Beyond The Staples

Costco does a an amazing job of carrying high quality organic products nowadays along with many sources of organic lean proteins.  Although I will highlight some of my favorite Costco “gems” this list includes more than the staples of your weekly grocery shopping list to things that are “must-haves” of the stock.

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Must-Have Produce

 

 

 

 

Baby Creamers:I love prepping these in my Instant Pot and turning them into smashed potatoes or breakfast potatoes under a runny yolk

“Love” Beats: So yummy sliced atop a fresh salad

Fresh Start Smoothie Blend: with summer in full effect I keep this berry and kale combo in the freezer

Frozen Veggies: Costco keeps an amazing frozen selection of organic veggies to keep in the freezer for your last minute meal options

Cocktail Cucs:I am all about buying veggies my kids love.  For some reason cute little cocktail cucumbers are more popular with my kids so I snatch them up

Cauliflower Rice: (A two pack that allows you to eat one and freeze the other.  It freezes great!)

Butter Lettuce: My favorite lettuce and you can’t beat the price at Costco

Zucchini Noodles (bran new to Costco): Great for a last minute addition to dinner

 

Must Have Lean Protein

Kirkland Turkey Burgers

Don Lee Farms Chicken Patties: These are nice for an “I have nothing prepped” kind of night.

Organic Chicken Broth: I keep chicken stock on hand as a sub to saute and steam veggies and meats.  It adds flavor and keeps fat down if needed.

Rotisserie Chicken: They keep this as far away as possible to get you to walk to the back  of the store while filling your cart.  I use it to make chicken salad or as a quick protein source.

Shrimp: Great to have on hand as a very lean protein source.

 

Must Have Carbohydrates

Dried Mangoes: One of my favorite post-workout snacks

Figgy Pops: A great pre-workout snack or snack in general.  I recommend these as a great snack for my clients who are endurance athletes while on the road

Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice

Millet and Brown Rice Ramen: (literally only millet and brown rice…say what??)

Milton’s GF Crackers

Organic Raw Honey

Organic Maple Syrup: My fave coffee sweetener.  Something I have a wee bit of each day in my morning coffee.

And if you can find them…I also love

Sweet Potato Fries

Path of Life Quinoa and Kale

Must Have Fats

Nuts: I am a major nut butter junky and have found Costco’s selection of nuts to be superior when I make homemade nut butters

Nut Butters: almond, peanut, and occasionally cashew

Coconut Oil

Avocado Oil

Flax and Chia seeds: in bulk makes the cost so good (but sometimes hard to find)

Kerrygold: I use this in my coffee each morning..can’t beat the cost here

Must Have Snacks

Noosa: throw this (or any Greek Yogurt) in the freezer for 10 minutes and you have a lower fat version of cheesecake-ish dessert.

Organic Hummus: A must-have to get my kids eating more veggies

Organic PB Fit: I love this to have on hand to add to a shake, or atop a rice cake as a snack

Lundberg Rice Cakes: My favorite rice cake in a 3 PACK!!! Yeah–but hard to find.

Squeeze Pouches: All types including apple mixed fruits, veggies and Chia seed. Love this for a quick real-food pre/post workout snack or for the kids lunches.

Kind Bars: a nice option for a gluten free treat, far lower in sugar than most similar bar.  Great crumbled atop yogurt as a granola option.

Lara Bars:  a great two pack of my kids’ favorite flavors Apple Pie and Cashew Cookie.

Acai by Sambazon: A seriously delicious summer treat.  When my bananas are about to go bad a slice them up and put them in the freezer for the acai base.  Then use a few pouches to whip up a yummy acai ice cream and top with granola, berries, honey, and whatever else you want.

 

Down Fall

Costco has one major downfall and that is their inconsistency in stock.  I often fall in love with a product only to go back and discover they no longer carry it.  I can travel only a short 10 minute drive from one Costco location to another to find they don’t carry the same items.

If something you want isn’t at your local Costco ask a manager.  They are often willing to investigate and see if they too can get it in. Please Keep in mind some of the items are seasonal and vary by location. Most pantry items are easy to find year round at all locations. Prices may also vary by location.

 

The Upside

Their return policy is pretty much no questions ask.  You can take back any product you are dissatisfied with including foods items you’ve sampled.  I’ve taken back produce that went bad too quickly in my perspective and I get a fresh replacement.

 

Want To Download This List To Take To Costco?

Click HERE to download it now

 

Did I leave off one of your favorite, real food Costco favorites?  Please comment below and let me know what I need to add to my list!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

5 Ways To Save Money On Real Food

5 Ways to Save Money on Real Food

Several years ago I watched the documentary “SuperSize Me” created by Morgan Spurlock.  If you haven’t seen it here is the premise: he decides to document what will happen to him if he lives on a diet of McDonald’s fast food exclusively.  The results and statistics shared will astound you.  It is worth your watch. One point brought up in the film has stuck with me over the years:

It is cheaper for a family of 4 to 5 to eat at McDonald’s than to buy healthy food.

Umm…nope… I don’t buy it.

Here is why:

6 cheeseburgers at $1.00: $6.00

4 orders of Small French Fries at $1.39: $5.56

4 drinks at $1.00: $4.00

(plus tax of course)

Meal Total: $15.56

 

If that family were to eat McDonald’ five times a week for the entire month (let’s call it 20 times) that is $311.20 for a month.  In my house that is what we budget to feed our family with for 10 DAYS of groceries for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And we eat well with that budget.

According to the USDA the average American household spends $150 to $300 on groceries per week.  Our family is on the high end of that average and yet we still spend less than it would cost for our family to eat at McDonalds that frequently.

Here is an example:

I made burgers, sweet potatoes and broccoli for my family of four last week one night for dinner (2 adults, and a 7 and 5 year old):

1.25 lbs of lean ground beef: $4.98

2.5 lbs of Sweet Potatoes: 3.19 (on sale)

2 crowns of Broccoli: 1.49

(plus tax of course)

Total Meal Cost: $9.66

 

You tell me…what would you rather feed your family?

 

I Needed To Contribute

When I left my teaching job to stay home with our kids, I was desperate to find ways to contribute financially.  I began couponing and finding simple ways to pinch pennies here and there with digital coupons and the Ibotta app.  What I discovered was that the majority of the food we ate was fresh produce and meats and rarely allowed for couponing. Most coupons available were for process foods and toiletry items.  I began to find other ways to save on those foods by being “real food” savvy.

I want to help you realize the same.  Sparing no expense for quality foods is something I am not willing to compromise on. You shouldn’t either.  There are ways to save–you just have to think out of the box, be willing to invest your time and PLAN.

5 Ways to Save Money on Real Food

From that experience, I found 5 ways to save money on food we ate.  Not stuff in boxes that lasted forever but on food that we needed to eat quickly because it was actually going to go bad.

 

1.Buy What Is In Season

Did you know eating the vegetables that are in season provides benefits to you?

It is something often overlooked because of the grocery store convenience. We have access to almost anything we want year round. Most of us can’t even tell you what produce is in season.  But my Grandma…she knows…because she had no choice when she grew up.  The benefits to eating produce when it is in season are plenty.

  • It just tastes better because the environment for its growth is ideal.
  • Less human interaction.  If it grows when it is supposed to that means humans probably had to do less to help it grow.  That means less chemical exposure and a lower price potential.
  • It tends to be cheaper because it is easier to come by.  It is the good old supply and demand principle.
  • It is more fresh. When things are fresh they tend to have more nutritional value and a richer taste.

This link is so cool!  You can select your region and time of year to see what produce is in season in your area.

http://www.sustainabletable.org/seasonalfoodguide/

Start approaching your grocery shopping a bit differently and think about buying foods that are in season to reap their cost (and nutritional) benefits.

 

2.Shop The Clearance Section

Clearance on whole, real foods?  Um, Yes!  Almost every grocery store puts fruits, veggies and meats that are almost about to expire on sale.  Perfect for you and I because we have a FREEZER.  Take those items and throw them in the freezer for later use.  Those brown bananas that are $39 cents per pound…slice them up, store them in a freezer bag in your freezer and then through them in a smoothie or into a blender for some nice banana ice cream.  You will also have a freezer full of options to pick from for meal prep without having to visit the grocery store as frequently.

 

3.Peek At The Grocery Store Ads and Apps

I know you are thinking does this really even happen anymore?  I promise it does…just not so much in the paper version.  Almost every store offers a digital version of their weekly ad.  Even cooler, many stores offer digital coupons that often include coupons for sales on produce, tubbed greens and meats.  They want you to use their app and retain your business so these coupons need fully taken advantage of.  It only takes 1 minute to scroll through their ad and coupons and that minute could be worth lots of $$$ for you.  I’ve used digital coupons on packages of mixed greens along with store’s weekly sale to get a large container for just about $1.  That is several nights worth of salads to pair with a meal for less than $.33 for your ENTIRE family. Sprouts, my favorite local retailer, has even joined in, and offers an app to highlight their digital coupons and sales of the week.  And Wednesday is double ad day which equals double savings when shopping.

Coupons are not abundant for real foods but…surprise!  There are some great sites that do provide such an opportunity.  All Natural Savings is one of those sites that offers coupons and rebates on organic and high quality options.

Another great one is Organic Deals Their grocery tab offers a drop down menu for Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to highlight the deals of the week and coupons at each of those major grocery store chains.  Boom–one stop savings right there!

 

4.Buy Store Brands

I am not talking about the bottom of the line store brands.  I am talking about nice quality frozen store brand fruits, veggies and meats.  Every store offers them now and that is to your benefit.  Grocery chains are now recognizing that its consumers are demanding higher quality for ourselves and families. A great example is my favorite mainstream store brand by Kroger called Simple Truth.  It is a mostly organic brand that rivals its non-store brand almost always in price.  Not to mention, stores want you to buy their brand so they put them on sale more often too.  Cha-ching! Although frozen, these foods still offer you a major healthy go-to on a busy work night.

 

5.Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan

The biggest tip to saving money on real food is PLANNING ahead.  I know it takes time, it takes energy, it takes using your noggin.  In my opinion your health and the health of your family is worth every minute it takes.  Use the ad to guide your menu planning. Decide what vegetables to use that week based on what is on sale. .  My advice is 5 dinners a week is a really reasonable goal, with the other 2 nights being used as a great time to eat leftovers (boom…a little hidden money saving tip right here too).  And hello–we all love a night off from cooking! Just buy planning for 5 dinners you are saving money on that temptation to hit the drive thru.  The bonus of trying to save money on real food is that you are investing in your health as a byproduct. Therefore, completing the cycle of awesomeness I’ve talk about befor…health, wealth and happiness.

 

Maybe the claim of healthy, nutritious food being expensive is less about cost and more about convenience. There is no way healthy living costs more than fast food.  But it does take more work. Get started by using these 5 tips to invest in your pocket book and in your health.

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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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.

Morning Oatmeal Recipes

Oats are a great kick start to your day!  I have a few go-to morning recipes that you can prep the night before and enjoy in the busy morning.

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How to Get Sweet Potatoes Into Your Life

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