Nutrition During Quarantine

Being isolated is HELL.  I know some of you are enjoying the stay-at-home part of Covid; but I am not one of them.  I thrive on socializing and doing what is part of my daily routine.  That includes my nutrition.  I don’t want to be one of those people who eat because I’m bored – and believe me, I AM BORED!
So how have I been handling things during this lockdown of the world?  The same way I handle my nutrition on any other given day: carefully.
Vegg

This IS a snack!

I have been running first thing in the mornings, and usually follow that up with a boot camp session via Zoom.  Somewhere in between (or depending on how exhausted I am – I have been having very strange nightmares and not sleeping well), I will have a cup of coffee.  It may be before my run, but my bladder is not usually strong enough for me to pounce around after my cuppa joe.  So, usually, post-run/pre-workout I will sip my coffee.  During my workout I ensure to guzzle water.  I am finding I’m not drinking near as much water as I normally do when I’m working.  So I have been making a conscious effort to hydrate more.  After my workout is finished, I may make eggs (and maybe another cup of coffee).  I love eggs.  They are the easiest food and so versatile and packed full of protein and nutrients.  Yesterday, I added a little avocado with my eggs.  By the way, have you ever had warmed avocado?  So, so good!
I haven’t been eating much throughout the day.  Partly because I’m having my first meal (eggs) so late in the morning; it’s usually close to lunch time so I don’t feel the need to have lunch.  But if I’m hungry, I’ll find something – rice cakes and veggies, or fruit, tuna, or even a piece of cheese.  I don’t consume a lot of dairy in my diet because I’m allergic, but sometimes a girl just wants a piece of cheese.  Sometimes, I’ll guzzle more water because, as we know, our thirst can often be confused for hunger.
The one (good) thing about being home is that I get to have dinner at dinner time.  Normally, my gym sessions and boot camp classes go so late that I never have dinner at a normal time.  If I can eat before 8:30 in the evening, that’s pretty good.  So, being able to eat at a more “normal” time has been interesting and something I haven’t be able to do in years.
I’ve been sticking to a pretty standard nutritionally-packed meal – lots of vegetables and usually some protein (chicken, fish, eggs).  The other night I made a shrimp stir-fry and it was so good!  I never keep bread in the house (unless I specifically want bread), or snacks that aren’t so good.  One thing that I have been craving non-stop is chocolate.  Especially Reese’s chocolate and peanut anything.  When that craving hits, what I sometimes will do is mix a spoonful of Fatso Peanut Butter with some cocoa powder or chocolate protein.  Yum.
Just reminder that this is not forever.  So, make your choices wisely.  Allow yourself treats here and there – especially if you’re really craving them – but make sure you are actually treating yourself and not binging and not bored and not eating just for the hell of eating.
~FB

Why I Don’t Offer Meal Plans Online

IHT_MealPlan
I see it all the time; online “trainers”, celebrity or otherwise, offering their meal plans or nutrition advice, or  “…for just $99.99 you can have access to exactly what I eat in a day/week/month…”.
These tags drive me crazy and you’ll soon find out why.
There are so many of these online trainers who will guide (read: tell you) exactly what to eat per his/her typical day, or worse, push keto or some drastic fad or diet on readers.
Here is why I don’t offer online meal plans and why what these online gimmickers are doing is dangerous: NO TWO CLIENTS ARE THE SAME.
So how dare I (or anyone else) treat them the same?  What a 115 lb Instagram trainer eats in a day (or tells you what she eats in a day) will more than likely not be sufficient for most people who are watching her videos or subscribing to a website.  There is no personalization, no background, no medical or health history provided by the “client” – there is simply only a way to pay.  These are all important factors in prescribing a healthier diet in proper nutrition, or weight loss plan.  Individualization is a key component.
I must acknowledge that each and every client is unique.
In addition, I cannot have a preconceived notion of my clients.  I must recognize the individuality.  I need to be able to approach my clients with an open mind so that I can understand their specific and individualized needs.  I also need to understand what contributed to their present state or desire to change their eating habits.  Is there an underlying medical condition?  What is home life like?  Are there any financial contributions to unhealthy eating (can the client not “afford” better quality or healthier foods)?  These are questions that may need to be asked.  And going hand-in-hand with this approach is my understanding of how I can best assist them.
Because is client is different, what works for one person, may not offer the same success for another.  Client A may need better information/education about nutrition, whereas Client B may require full-on support and step-by-step guidance.  As a professional, I have to be humble enough to recognize when a client may need to be referred to a different professional altogether (doctor, psychologist, dietitian, etc.).  Although my clients are coming to me for my expertise, my expertise just may not be enough, and as such, clients who I believe may have disordered eating, health or medical issues, etc. must be referred to the proper practitioner.
Another step in my individualization is having my clients keep a food journal, as well as completing a basic health questionnaire.  How can I assess and provide knowledgeable information if I do now know my clients.  How can an online trainer purport to provide meal plans for clients/followers/readers/Googlers if they do not know each member of their audience.
As a Personal Trainer, I am not qualified to give my clients nutritional or diet advice.  As with any other trainer, it is considered out of my scope of practice.  As a Nutrition and Weight Loss Coach, however, I can provide nutrition advice and guidelines, parameters for healthy eating, support, coaching, etc.  And I certainly recognize the importance that each of my clients is unique and will therefore have unique, if not specific needs.
NWL
In addition, my clients will receive personal, one-on-one coaching from me.  I will work with each of them to discover what approach is best for them, and we will work together to create the best program suited to their individual needs.  You don’t get that with random, generic, online meal plans.  They will also get check-ins with me – whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or more or less.  My clients can ask me questions any time and a personal response will be guaranteed.  And since I am certified in both nutrition and fitness, I can also work with clients to design an exercise program that will work for them to ensure it fits their means and lifestyle.  Just as it is with nutrition, understanding that not all fitness levels are the same is just as important if my clients want to see results.
It is truly important to not lose that human touch and to recognize that each person’s needs are unique.  When it comes to health, it’s time to step away from the ease of the internet and to understand why our clients are coming to us, where they need help the most, and offer them the guidance, understanding, and support that a computer – or $99.99 – won’t provide them with.
~FB

Day 9 – Go Meatless

Day 9 – Go Meatless

go_meatless

Going meatless, even just once to a few times a week, can have a tremendous impact on your health. You don’t have to cut all animal products out of your life cold-turkey, but decreasing the amount of meat and increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole-grains that you eat can do wonders for your health and the health of the environment.

Don’t get me wrong (or hate me), I am a full-on meat eater.  But eliminating meat from meals every once in a while can be great.  It can be time-saving, money-saving, and health-beneficial.  You don’t have to sacrifice deliciousness because you’re eliminating meat.  Have you ever tried a whole roasted herbed cauliflower or a vegetable burger? Mmmmm.

Go ahead and expand your horizons by making full meals solely out of plants.  You’ll be surprised with the plethora of ideas and recipes you can find or come up with.

~FB

Day 8 – Pack A Lunch

Day 8 – Pack a Lunch

 

Save money and eat healthier by packing your own lunch. (This is your challenge today but you can plan it for tomorrow.  ) Knowing exactly what’s in your food and ensuring it’s nutritious can give you some peace of mind when it comes time for your lunch break. Save time by preparing your food the night before or the morning of (rather than spending time heading to pick up some grub and waiting in line) can also free up time to socialize or take a lunch-time walk.

I am not one of those people who spend all day Sunday prepping meals for the week (or month!).  I honestly just can’t put the effort in.  But, I know that many of you benefit from this.  It can help you achieve goals of healthy eating; and if it allows you more free time during the week, then I say kudos to you.  There are some evenings when I’ll prepare dinner and lunch for the new couple of days; this usually occurs when I’m participating in a Whole 30 (like right now).  If I am eliminating sugar and processed foods from my diet, then prepping my lunch meals (or meals for evenings away from the home) is a must – because I want to know exactly what’s in my ingredients and want to be certain I am maintaining compliance.

In addition to eating healthier when brown-bagging it, preparing my lunch also allows me time to do other things on my lunch break – whether that’s go for a walk or run errands or just spend time with friends or alone….it means I’m not running around looking for something to eat, waiting in lines or for a server.  My time, as I’m sure yours is as well, is valuable and I don’t want to waste a minute.

~FB

 

Goal Reaching

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a young woman for a small piece she was writing on inspiration and Goals.  I thought I’d share it with you.  

18 Again

1. During your life so far, what has been one of the biggest goals you’ve set that you were able to achieve?  I have always had issues with my weight…growing up as the chubby girl.  Overcoming a weight issue has been a goal since I was a child.

2. What did you have to do to accomplish that goal? I began working out regularly and eating better and making better choices in my life.

3. Where did you get your inspiration? I saw a photo of myself one day and did not recognize that it was me.  The girl in the photo was very overweight and I couldn’t believe it was me.  I inspired myself in that moment to fix my life.  I started an exercise program when I got home that evening and have not looked back.

4. Were there any obstacles that got in your way? If so, how did you handle that? What about people? Were there any people who discouraged you while reaching for your goal? I have a heart condition and was told when I was in my teens that I would have a pacemaker by the time I was 30.  I was worried at first about how vigorous exercise might harm me, but in all honesty, my heart is nice and healthy now that the extra weight is off.  I still struggle with it on occasion and it is genetic, but at least I don’t have to worry about jeopardizing my health myself.  As for people…there are always people who want to see you fail.  I still come across those people in my life.  But the worst was a “friend” who told me to stop losing weight because I “look sick”.  It’s funny how she never commented on my weight when I had an extra 60 pounds on me.

5. Did you ever think about giving up? If so, how did you overcome that feeling?  I never thought about giving up. I knew what I was doing was benefiting my life.

6. When you achieved your goal, how did it help you in life? Or what is life like now that you have accomplished your goal?  Once I reached my goal, I looked into how I could help others reach theirs.  I got certified as a personal trainer and as a nutrition and weight loss coach.  I now teach boot camps and other classes and coach people one-on-one.

~Cheers

PS (Thank you Lilly for this.  <3)

Healthy Snacking

I am not 100% healthy all the time.  I admit it.  I am human and occasionally, I like to indulge in snacks that are not the healthiest choices.  (Who doesn’t like popcorn at the movies?)

But most of the time, I try to be very conscious of what I’m eating and I like to know what I’m putting in my body.  So, when it comes to snacking and making those healthier choices (and opting not to stick to just fruit or vegetables), I often like to go the homemade route.

My recent obsession are homemade protein nut butter cups.  They’re made with just a few ingredients – dark chocolate or cocoa or chocolate protein powder, coconut oil, and nut butter of choice (I use almond hazelnut).  Melt and mix and freeze.  Easy peasy.

Protein-PB-Cup

I’m also a huge fan of making my own “Larabars“.  It’s definitely a lot cheaper than buying actual Larabars, and I can throw in whatever I want.  I also like healthy cookie dough dip (made with chickpeas but you’d never know it!) and black bean brownies.

And, in the summer when it’s super hot, I might make a little “nice cream” – a healthier version of ice cream made with frozen bananas.  This is a great compromise for people like me who are also allergic to dairy.

Knowing exactly what I’m eating is definitely important to me, not only because of the obvious benefits of eating healthier and cleaner and knowing my ingredients, but also because I can eliminate as much garbage from my diet as possible.  This is especially important when I’m following the Whole 30 Program and eliminating sugar and processed “foods” and other junk.

However, as I said, I am human and I do like to indulge on occasion.  But that doesn’t have to equal eating garbage.  There are plenty of healthier options on the market – even for your favorite “junk foods”.

For example, Amplify Snack Brands – the makers of Skinny Pop popcorn – have some wonderful snack products that are comparable in taste to your regular snacks, but without the garbage and the guilt.  Their Paqui Tortilla Chips use non-GMO corn, are trans-fat free, are nut, soy, and Gluten-free, have no MSG, and are certified Kosher.  Oh, and they come in a bunch of crazy flavors (Haunted Ghost Pepper, anyone?).

Amplify also in their roster, Oatmega Bars – grass-fed whey protein bars offered in a plethora of flavors – and Tyrrell’s Hand Cooked Potato Chips– which offers “no iffy ingredients”.  And of course, let’s not forget the  Skinny Pop brand of popcorn and other products, which are also “free of all those things, including GMOs, MSG, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and Gluten”.

As you can see, there are many options on the market for snacking better and it’s commendable to see companies with a conscience – ones that care about our health and the ingredients they choose to put into their products (and therefore, that we put into our bodies).

So, if you’re on the go or not able to making your own healthy snacks (or have no interest in it), check out Amplify Brands (or at the very least, ensure you check your labels for ingredients on your snack foods) to see what product might become your next favorite snack.

Be kind to your body and what you put into it.

~FB

10 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT VEGAN DIETS* (Guest Post)

Vegan

(By Michelle Hannan)

“Veganism is as old as humans themselves, but with time, we have somehow lost our track of how good this path full of veggies is. I am not against meaty diets or people who love meat, I just prefer those diets that have veggies and fruits more than any other thing.

People may opt veganism due to their religious belief, moral values, or merely to lose weight in that particular manner. Here it is essential to understand that veganism is not just restricted to your diet, but it is a code of conduct, the way you choose your life to be. click HERE to see the food list that is not only delicious, but healthy too 

A vegan diet has so many benefits, and for you, ten of them are listed below.

1. The medical fraternity accepts 150-200 mg/dL to be a standard range of cholesterol. According to a recent study, an average Americans cholesterol level is 210 mg/dL, and the level of a vegan is 146 mg/dL. Well, it is safe to say that it is better to be under than above.

2. People may think that vegans do not consume dairy, so they lack in protein and calcium, but to their surprise food like broccoli, bok choy, calcium-fortified orange juice, collards, kale, and Chinese cabbage are an excellent source to meet the deficit.

3. With the vegan diet, men and women are less likely to be a subject of cancer, and the rate goes down to approximately 36%. Cancer is one of the most common and deadly diseases, but with this diet, you may save yourself with this trouble.

4. Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Prize winner, came up with a study that claims that vegan diet changed more than 500 genes in just three months. Apparently, veganism turns off the genes that cause cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other diseases and turns on the genes that prevent infections.

5. Products that are listed as non-cholesterol are often vegan as bad fat is a product of meaty food.

6. Vegan diet not just brightens up your skin, it also makes you feel active and energetic for the longest time. So, if you feel frustrated and fatigued throughout the day than a properly cooked vegan meal can may you feel better.

7. While there are so many benefits of vegetables and fruits, if they are overcooked, all the benefits it carries go down the drain.

8. When one person decides to be a vegan that person helps saving the entire acre o a forest from demolishing. How? For meat production, forests are being cleared out to grow crops to feed the animals. I am not asking not to feed animals, but in order to fulfill the huge meat need, drastic measures have been taken.

9. To produce one pound of meat 2500 gallons of water is needed and to grow one pound of wheat, only 25 gallons of water is required. Considering the rumors that the third world war will be on the water, I think we should do more to save up this precious thing than wasting it.

10. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Sia, Pamela Anderson, and Peter Dinklage are the ones who believe that veganism is not just healthy, but it is also the right way to live.”

*The views expressed in this post are strictly that of the author, Michelle Hannan.

 

 

Staying Inspired

I have been having a very emotional and stressful week.  I normally am an upbeat person and always on the go, so when stress and lethargy run high in me, I’m not sure of the best outlet. Because I normally don’t deal with it.
Earlier this week my cat of 12 years started seizing and his health is in jeopardy and I’m a basket case. Dealing with my own heart condition is one thing, dealing with a heart condition in a very loved pet is another.  The thought of losing my long-time companion has me feeling like I’ve been punched in the heart.  Literally.  This pain is real and it’s taking my breath away.
And although I haven’t had much of an appetite lately, part of me has been thinking about comforting my pain by stuffing my head with chocolate and all that kind of goodness.
Oddly enough, a new-found friend has also been suffering through an emotional and stressful week – probably the hardest one he’s had in a very long time , but instead of easing his pain with the kind of garbage one would find in comfort food (like my craving for all that is chocolate), he turned down my offer of coffee and a pastry and instead kept to his healthy journey.  What a man!  What an inspiration.
Josh's lunch

This is his actual lunch – I was very jealous!!

So…thanks to him, I said no to drowning my sorrows in chocolate and red wine and instead picked up some carrot sticks and hummus.  I don’t yet have the appetite, or frankly the desire to eat anything, but when I’m ready, my healthy choices have already been made.
~FB

Staying on Track

If you recall from my previous post, I noted it’s much easier to have success with your fitness/weight loss/health goals if you make a plan and make a commitment.  I know, personally, that if I say I’m going to do something, I may not always follow through with it. But if I commit to something, I am committed 100%.  So, here are my commitments for 2018:

Whole 30

To kick off the new year, I’ve committed to another Whole 30 – which begins TOMORROW. As always, I’m super excited to start another Whole 30 Program.  I have over-indulged in my fair share of chocolate this Christmas season, and I really need to slay my sugar dragons.

Whole30 Reset

I began preparing for my 30 days late this past week.  I got my grocery shopping done and spent part of the weekend eating clean meals.  My fridge is organized and the chocolate is going into cold storage.  I have been waiting to get started and now I’m more than gung-ho. I know how great I feel during and after my 30 days and I know the chocolate will be there later on down the road if I really feel the need to have some.  But, for the next 30 days, I’m committed to clean eating and drinking.

Gym Routine and Workouts and Rest

Fortunately, I don’t really ever need to push myself to exercise.  In fact, I’m eager to do my workouts and, it seems, it’s often all I think about.

Rest Day2

I mean, if I’m being completely honest….

In addition to my boot camps, family fitness classes, and attending Zumba, I have regular gym sessions (I often exercise more than once a day – splitting my days with lifting in the morning and cardio/boot camp in the evenings).  Therefore, I sometimes get through a work day on 3-5 hours of sleep.  And, let’s be honest, that just isn’t enough.  Although I am fully functional on just a few hours of sleep, I am committing to resting more in 2018.  I am going to let go of my fear of missing a workout and spend time relaxing (and snoozing).

RestDay

Eye Health

A few years back I had eye surgery.  It was a gross surgery where my eyeball was cut into and a membrane was scraped out.  Although, my vision in that eye on it’s own has not improved (and may never), my vision with both eyes together is still better than 20/20. That being said, I’m constantly fearful that the sight in my good eye will go and I’ll be SOL.  If it happens, I won’t be able to read and my driver’s license will likely be taken away.

Eyes

Be proactive and take care of your vision.

I have been as proactive as I can be, but the issue with my “bad” eye was such a fluke that there really is no way to prepare for or prevent the same thing happening in the other eye. However, I am careful with my eyes and I do what I can to ensure my eye health is up to par.  I keep drops in my desk at work and at home, I always have my sunglasses on during the day, even in the winter, and especially with all this snow in Nova Scotia so as to prevent Photokeratitis – or snow blindness.  In fact, I have several pairs of sunglasses with different UV protection and different shades of protection so that I have a pair to go with every weather condition. And I already have my next appointments set with my eye surgeon/check-ups.

Although I don’t wear glasses or contact lenses, Warby Parker now offers a Prescription Check App that allows an eye doctor to assess your vision and provide an updated glasses prescription.  If you are someone who wears glasses, or just want to have your vision checked out, then it may be worthwhile checking out this app.

So that’s my short-list of my commitments for staying on track this year.  What’s on your list?

~Cheers

 

 

Surviving the Holidays

Buffet
 A few years ago, I provided some tips on avoiding holiday weight gain.  (If you search Christmas or Holidays at the top of the page/in the search bar, you’ll get all kinds of good stuff from me -workouts and recipes.)  With just a few weeks to go until Christmas, this year I thought I’d provide you with some of tips on how to get thru the holidays without ruining your fitness or nutrition plan.

Christmas is often seen as the season of indulgence.  There are an excessive amount of parties and dinners and get-togethers and functions – not to mention Christmas dinner – and with all of that, there comes large quantities of food and drinks.  Whether it’s chips and dips and beer or a buffet with an abundance of rich desserts and cheeses and wines, there is likely something that will can entice even the strongest-willed guest.

 christmasbrunchbuffet

So, in order to do your best at not over-indulging (or gorging yourself) this Christmas, here are some of my best tips:

Make a Plan.   Don’t start the season off without knowing exactly how you will approach it.  Look at your calendar and figure out when you can get your workouts in – even if you can only spare 20 minutes.  Utilize that time to make the workout count!  Making a plan also comes into play when you’re preparing to feast.  If you are attending a holiday party where you know there will be lots of decadent foods served, plan your meals and eating routine around that.  Have a lighter lunch or dinner* or have a healthy snack instead of your regular meal if you will be eating later at an event.  If you really have the will power (or discipline) you can always prepare your own snacks to take with you to a holiday party – that way, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating and won’t go over your portion.  *You can also prepare a nutritious meal at home prior to going to your event.  This will prevent you from overeating or eating excessive junk at the party.  And again, this way you will know exactly what you’re consuming.

  1. Commit.   If you commit yourself to staying healthy during the holidays, stick to it.  This does not mean committing 100% (although, how fantastic would that be?), but why not commit yourself 80-90%.  If you’re not able to get to the gym 4 times per week during the Christmas rush, why not commit to getting there twice a week?  Or saving your gas and working out at home 3-4 times per week.  There are ways to compromise while (sort of) sticking to your plan.
  2. Challenge Yourself.  If you are going to be working out less during the holidays, make sure your workouts count.  Adding in strength training (you should be doing this anyway), plyometrics, HIIT workouts, or something out of the ordinary can rev up your system and help you in burning more fat than your regular workout.  There are so many other ways to do this easily – increasing the intensity on your treadmill or elliptical, holding your yoga pose longer.  Whatever it is, make sure it’s challenging you and see the difference.
  3. Eat Breakfast.  I cannot stress enough how eating a well-rounded, healthy breakfast can change your life.  Protein and the right carbs can be a game-changer for your entire day.  People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat during the day.
  4. Don’t Drink (All) Your Calories.   Have a glass of wine or punch or a beer – just don’t overdo it on the booze or eggnog or cider.  Holiday party drinks are almost always loaded with sugar or fat.  So be on the lookout for that and sip wisely.  In addition to this, making your own java can help save you calories – and money.  Brewing at home as opposed to purchasing overpriced, over-sugared coffees/mochas/lattes/etc. will help you monitor what’s going in your body and what’s coming out of your wallet.

    Sugar Rush

    Enter a caption

  5. Don’t Punish Yourself.  If you’re at a party or a dinner and there is something you really want – eat/drink it.  Just limit yourself.  You don’t necessarily have to eat the entire plate of cookies, but you can have one.  Enjoy it.  Savor it.
  6. Don’t Forget that Christmas/the holidays are not all about food.  Christmas parties and family gatherings are also about being social and spending time with friends and loved ones.  So, step away from the buffet table or the chip bowl or the bar and indulge in the conversation, listen to the music, sit by the fire.  Mingle, tell stories, and Enjoy Yourself!

Partiers

Cheers!

July 2020
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