Scared to Pass Things Up because you might Miss Out?

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How often do you actually think before you eat?  I mean ask yourself, ‘how hungry am I’, ‘how will I feel after eating this food’, ‘why do I want this food so badly’…

If you answered, not very often to this question, you may want to work on this.  This is the beginning of Mindless eating, and mindless eating prevents us from paying attention to our hunger and fullness, keeps us from changing, and yields greater chances of poor choices and being overweight.

 

Food is EVERYWHERE we turn today.  It’s overwhelming and exciting all at once!  We can pick and choose what we want, or we can eat as much as we want.  Companies market and advertise the most appetizing foods, at great deals too, and you can be easily tempted to give into their ploys.   But this is NOT in your best interest.  Not if you want to take charge of your health and establish healthy habits that will help you stay lean and fit.

 

I’ve caught myself thinking and others telling me that they won’t turn down food for numerous reasons.  From, ‘it tastes so good’ to ‘it’s free’ to ‘I cant let this go to waste’ and even ‘I don’t know when I’ll have this again because I’m on a diet (or will not be back here soon, or whatever reason)’.  Think for a moment, are these statements completely rational?! Is this the LAST time you will eat?  Is it the last time you will get to eat a delicious meal or have a favorite enjoyable food?  NO!! It’s not!

 

In fact, I bet that if you say this to yourself often enough, and pair it with the deprivation and restriction of being on a ‘diet’ or ‘plan’ you are on, that you will end up having more of this food now, and more of it again sooner than if you just sat back, savored it, and was present with the food in the first place.

 

This is what I can call a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO, according to Jill Coleman).  It’s your thoughts and beliefs that you’re scared your will miss out on something, so your actions end up sabotaging you.  It’s a very real thing and it’s keeping many from successfully changing and seeing results.  This is all about your perception, your mindset.

 

The reality is that food, experiences, restaurants, activities, events,.. you name it will always be around the corner.  There is no need to go gung-ho and have everything all at once, mindlessly, or in large amounts because this is not balance, it’s the all-or-nothing mentality.

 

There are ways to move beyond this thought process though, and a more reasonable way to live, and I’m happy to share them with you!

 

First thing, you need to accept that food is not scarce.  It will not suddenly disappear.  In fact, if you get too much, it’s either going to go to your waste, in the waste, or go bad before you get to it.  I don’t really think you want this to happen.  I sure don’t!

 

Instead, start paying attention to your food more.  The first 3 bites of food taste the best.  After those first couple bites, the food begins to taste the same, bland, or boring.  Savor the first bites.

 

Share with someone.  Dining out is an experience, so is cooking at home.  Spend some time with someone to create a memory.

 

Slow down!  Look at your food!  Smell it, taste it, touch it, before you even put it into your mouth.  Chew one bite at a time before picking up another one.

 

Take the time to assess your hunger and fullness before, during, and towards the end of your meal.  Don’t be afraid to leave some behind, saving it for later, giving to another diner you’re eating with, or throwing it out.  It’s much better than eating it all and being too full, leaving a poor memory of feeling uncomfortable.

 

When you eat, only eat.  Stop texting, looking at your phone or screens, thinking of your to do list, or the like.

 

Practice ‘Preemptive Eating’, where you strategically plan in enjoyable foods to satisfy and prevent feelings of deprivation into your lifestyle.  Maybe daily, maybe every 3 days, or weekly.  For example, I may have some fruit and dark chocolate daily or every other day, and on the weekend I allow myself a treat when dining out of my choice and commit to eating it mindfully and slowly, savoring every bite.

 

 

 

When you begin to accept that you get to eat again in a few hours, that it’s not your last time having some fabulous food, you can begin to eat in a more peaceful mindset and setting.

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Can You Envision Yourself in the Act?

The power of visualization.

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Are you able to really see yourself doing something amongst the process. I mean really going through the motions, steps, thoughts and able to physically feel yourself doing them before you do so and

Through visualization you gain control over the situation. You also build self-confidence and self-esteem, and have a sense of direction.

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Someone who is struggling in an area of their life may be able to have an idea of what they will be like in the end, but probably has trouble visualizing certain actions and processes along the way.

In the sport of gymnastics, we were taught about visualization to use it to visualize ourselves going through our routines or skills prior to actually doing them. The more intune you could get with your body as you visualized and imagined feeling yourself doing the skill down to the details (such as muscles squeezed), the more focused and successful your chances would be.

Image-1In fact, I recall a teammate of mine closing her eyes to visualize her routine. She kept her eyes closed exceptionally longer than the rest of the entire group and longer that time would permit. When my coach asked her what took her so long she replied, “I kept falling off the beam, so I would repeat the skill, and I just couldn’t get myself to say on the beam.” Not surprisingly this same girl was struggling in real life on that skill. Needless to say, if we could get in our heads we could benefit and carry out our actions.

This is very applicable to body or physique change. From exercises to diet to creating a meal, and going through the steps you will take when going out picking your food, where your hands will be, etc.

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Even visualizing how your day will play out in your head.

Next, time you have a chance, have a new, stressful, or overwhelming situation you’re a bit nervous about or can potentially mess up in and later regret (i.e.: going out to a tempting restaurant), take some time prior to visualize exactly what you will do throughout the entire task.

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Sunday Pancakes

  
Wanting something quick for Sunday breakfast?

I believe that you don’t have to eat ‘diet’ food to be healthy and reach your goals. It’s more about how often you have certain foods, how much you have at once, and being sure you balance them out with plenty of produce and protein. 
This morning I got a request from my boyfriend for pancakes. It’s been awhile since I’ve made these and was almost going to go for the typical eggs, bacon, and fruit he gets Sunday’s. 
Then I remembered a flax pancake recipe we had to make in college nutrition food science class. Actually it was a simple white flour pancake recipe and one of the required variations added flax meal. It turned out very good, light and fluffy still, tasty…

So I rummaged through my recipes I’d kept, this one included, and whipped it up. 
Here’s the recipe, feel free to swap in a gluten free or lower carb flour but texture may change. If I was to recommend any other flours I would suggest Pamela’s GF pancake mix or Bob’s red mill Garbanzo-favs flour or GF Biscuit and Baking mix. 
1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup ground flax seed/flax meal

1 tbsp baking power

1 tbsp sugar

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 tbsp oil

Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients and add to dry. Mix until just combined, a few bubbles or dry sports are ok but don’t over mix. 

Drop by 2-3 tbsp onto hot greased skillet. Cook until bubbles, flip and cook until set through. 

Serve!

Makes about 12 pancakes. Or 4 servings. 

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Simple Ways to Eat Less while ENJOYING your Food the next time you Eat Out

Are you someone who, when they ddn010215lifedaytoneats3dine out, is less observant of your food choices? Do you ‘forget’ about your health or weight goals when you are eating away from home? Or do you simply feel it’s too hard to eat well when eating out?

 

Eating out is much more common today than it was even 10 years ago.  Every corner you turn there is either a fast food joint or a sit down chain restaurant or fine dining restaurant.  With the increase in dining out, and our expanding waistlines, can you see the correlation?

 

BUT WAIT! It doesn’t have to be that way!  You CAN dine out without throwing in the towel on your health and weight loss or maintenance endeavors!

 

I love to eat out,  I love trying new foods, having someone cook for me, ordering my favorite meals, but I don’t like ending my meal feeling uncomfortable, sluggish, guilty, or having eaten too much, knowing my personal goals are going to be a bit slower, even stalled, due to the meal.

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The Solution? To change my mindset around eating out, and practice a set of behaviors that will help me stay in track when I do eat out.  By doing this for the majority of my meals I eat out, I can enjoy myself, my food, and end on a happy note!  (Quick side note before moving on; I’m NOT saying to never indulge when out, but you must choose your battles, and unless it’s a super special, occasional splurge, you need to eat on track when out.)

 

Before I go ahead with how to stay on track, take a moment to accept and recognize that it is up to you to eat out and stay on track and that it IS doable.  Changing your mindset to one of acceptance of doing the best you can when out, instead of the ‘let loose’ mentality will aid in your actions themselves.

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Here are some simple ways to stay on track while eating out:

 

  • Avoid the bread bowl or chip basket. I know you may be hungry when you first sit down, but why waste your calories on empty carbs and fat!  If the restaurant serves some special, one of a kind, bread or chips, choose to either have a serving of those, a serving of carbs with your entrée, OR a dessert, (or wine if you’re going that route), but NOT all 3.  I’d rather order something on the menu as my carb source.
  • If you are hungry when you sit down, practice learning how to regroup your mind before grabbing what’s in front of you or ordering the first thing on the menu. Try my ‘Take 5’ method; calmly and quietly focus on your breathing in and out for 5 rounds.  No one needs to know you are doing this.  Afterwards, come back to what’s going on.
  • Start with water, seltzer, unsweet tea (hot or cold) and sweeten any of them with lemon or citrus of choice. Again it’s choosing your battles, sweetened calorie laden beverages or empty calories, so if you REALLY want to have something special, you will need to cut back on the carbs, and calories in the rest of the meal.  Instead, order a delicious entrée.
  • First up, a salad or broth or vegetable based cup of soup. These will fill you up (fiber and water), and vegetables are full of rich flavor = satisfaction.  If ordering a small side salad, skip the croutons, and ask for dressing on the side.
  • Ordering an appetizer? Go for one that is rich in protein or produce and share it amongst the table. Have one piece or 1-3 bites, savor the food, and enjoy the company/atmosphere.  You may always choose to skip the appetizer in favor of going straight for your main meal.
  • If those around you are determined to indulge on fatty, fried fare, drinks, or multiple appetizers and you are wanting salad/soup, or a lighter meal, you can still enjoy the time with them without giving in! This is entirely your mindset and thought process in charge!  Shifting your focus away from deprivation or obsessing about the foods they are ordering, instead put your energy on socializing with others, paying attention to the environment and atmosphere you are dining in, sipping your water, etc… Staying busy until your delicious food arrives! Or you may order your soup/salad in the meantime.  Whatever you do, be CONFIDENT, and set your own example; forget any naysayers, this is about you and your body!
  • The main event. Portions are blown up, and foods are cooked in unmeasured amount of fats, oils, and butters; unless you speak up and take initiative.  When ordering, you want to create what I call a ‘Balanced Carb Controlled Plate’.  This is a medium size diameter (8-9 inches) plate that is ½ full of produce/vegetables, ¼ full of lean protein, and the rest is optionally full of carbs, garnished with fat as necessary.  Most serving plates are 10+ inches and diameter, and there are much less vegetable and more protein or carbs served.  So when ordering your main meal, choose a protein, and order 2 side vegetables or 1 side salad and a side veggie. When the food comes to the table, take a look as the size of the plate and items and be realistic in how large they are.
  • Take home half your meal. Ask for a to go box when your meal arrives so you can divide up your food.  Now you get to enjoy your leftovers at a second meal!!!
  • Share your entrée.
  • Order 1 or 2 appetizers instead or a soup/salad and an appetizer. Choose appetizers that are protein or produce rich.  Even appetizers may come in portions enough for 3-4 people so be conscious of what is served.
  • Flavor sparingly. When placing your order ask for your food to be cooked ‘dry’.  Restaurant terms for not adding butter or oil.  Order any dressing or condiments on the side and add them yourself.  Flavor your food with clean condiments and flavorings.  Citrus, vinaigrettes, pickles, vinegar, hot sauce, salsa, marinara, or pepper/salt free spices.  Avoid the calorie dense, sugar and fat loaded dressing and sauces.
  • ENJOY YOUR FOOD! Pause and look at your meal before digging in.  Smell it.  Then when you being eating, savor the flavors, textures, aftertaste.  Pay attention to how your stomach feels.  STOP RUSHING, and eat slower.  This will aid in satisfaction, satiety, and digestion of your food.
  • Again a mindset shift.  Changing your mindset away from ‘needing’ dessert.  Make a conscious choice before going you will skip it.  If you are choosing to have dessert instead of a carb with your entrée or main meal, consider sharing or eating only a few bites.  The first 1-3 bites are the best tasting.  Order something that is lighter, contains fruit, preferentially, unless this is honestly a special occasion.
  • Be specific and speak up. When ordering, you can ask for sauces on the side, foods to be cooked ‘dry’, grilled, broiled, or steamed.  Talk to your server and make sure he communicates to the kitchen about your order.  Most restaurants today are happy to accommodate your needs and preferences within means.  Often, you can order food a la carte and create your own meal of 2 veggies and a protein if you just ask!
  • Move on! Once you have had a chance to enjoy your meal and you are satiated and not stuffed, get up and do something else.  If your dining companions are sticking around you can choose to socialize more as well, just keep your hands on the water, and enjoy the company.  If you are leaving, go for a walk, wander around town, if you have some work to do, do that.  The whole idea is that you are moving on from just grazing for extra food after you’ve finished eating until the next meal has come.

 

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How to Diet…eh Eat…for Fat Loss

My diet for fat loss. You’re probably thinking I have all my meals planned out and prepared in advance, or I carry my food with me, or maybe I swear off all sweets and treats.

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I might have said and done all of these at times when I first wanted to lose weight and gain control of my eating. But following these rigid ‘rules’ are anything but controlling. They hold me back from enjoying life, cause feelings of deprivation, and sabotage my best efforts.

What has helped me lose weight and keep it off then? A series of guidelines and habits that I’ve fine tuned for myself. They address my personal preferences, allow direction and flexibility thus limiting deprivation, and are doable anywhere!

 

Meal Prep?

I only prepare some of my food. I have a love-hate relationship with meal prepping. I look at some photos of meal prep and it looks so boring and bland! After a day or two of the same food I get numb to the tastes and just want more food until my appetite is satisfied. Some produce is just meh after a day in the fridge (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, have you ever smelled cabbage once its cooked!?). Yet, other foods gain flavor and richness over a couple of days (Italian gravy, stews, soups, slow cooked meats).

So what I’ve come to do is prepare SOME of my food in advance such as some meats, a couple vegetable dishes; if I’m incorporating a carb I’ll make some of this to grab; then I’ll keep them in my fridge separated into containers.

I only make 2-3 days worth of food at one time. This allows me to get creative and requires some action on my part at the time put my meals together. I love getting hands on with the food I’m going to eat.  It add in some appreciation to what I’m putting into my mouth.  We gain satisfaction before we even put the food into our mouths (have you ever salivated over a food as you looked at or thought about it but hadn’t yet taken a bite?).

Some days, if my work schedule truly does leave me in the gym training clients for hours, I will prep a couple meals to take with me. Otherwise I run with it and create impromptu meals. It’s these times that I get the most creative. It forces me to be conscious of my food, and not go multitasking.

Preparing food for only 2-3 days at a time also allows me to not waste food when I decide to grab Chipotle (one of my go to quick dining out joints), or dinner with my boyfriend randomly.

 

Vegetables are King

I eat salads often. Yes yes, I know, leafy greens are BORING you say. Well, I beg to differ!  If you use fresh, seasonal, organic if you can, produce, add some flavor punches and lean protein, you have a perfect, delicious tasting meal right there!

Whenever I go out to eat, I check out the salad options, often finding some wildly creative combinations I would have never thought of.  Some of my biggest inspirations for salads I’ve made at home have come from favorites that I’ve ordered at restaurants in my hometown.  From a citrus salad, thai crunch salad, summer roll salad, spinach waldorf salad, ginger dressing salad, greek salad…I’m craving one just typing this!

Salads don’t need to be composed of a bed of leafy greens!

By definition a salad is:

a dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients.

Taking this definition, you can create a meal ANYWHERE!  All you need are vegetables, and then add in some protein, flavor or dressing, and garnishes!  It’s a no excuses way to stay on track at home or dining out, and get in plenty of nutrients and flavor.

The only caveat, be wary of how many extras or garnishes your salad has.  What is supposed to be a base of vegetables is often drowned out by dressings, fatty meats, starches, or cheese/nuts when we dine out.   Plus, portions are ginormous.  Consider sharing, and asking for some of the add ons to be served on the side or left off entirely.

 

I work in flavor into my diet.

When we eat, our bodies look for two things to tell us we enjoy eating and that we have had enough.  They look for feelings of fullness and satiety, how we feel in our stomach or physically.  And we look for satisfaction, appetizing and tasty foods.  Our tastebuds all vary in the tastes and flavors that we prefer, but if we have a bland or bad tasting meal, we won’t be nearly as satisfied as if it was delicious tasting.

Flavor can come from the quality of and freshness of a food, fresher has better flavor; or it can come with ingredients and components of foods.  Fast-food joints and ads market to us to crave the flavors of sugar, salt, and fat, but these are probably the worst offenders to our bodies and our health and goals.  So how do you boost flavor without adding sugar, salt, or fat?

You add FLAVOR BOOSTERS! These include spices, herbs, vinegars, mustard, citrus juices and zest, condiments such as salsa, marinara, enchilada sauce…all of these boosters contain negligible calories but as a huge punch to your meal!  Some other flavor boosters that help create satisfaction, but used in smaller amounts based on your goal due to their nutrient profiles are oil based sauces like pesto and chimichurri, cheese, nuts, avocado, oils, and butter.

By being strategic in choosing fresh high quality foods, and accompanying them with appetizing flavors you leave the table more satisfied and with minimal cravings.

 

I avoid multitasking when I eat.

When you eat, JUST EAT!  I know, I know, you have so much work, you’re on your feet all day, you’re rushing to get the kids to school or get ready for work; the excuses go on and on.  But, if you’re really serious about making a change with your eating and reach your goals you have to carve out some time for your food and eating.  20 years ago, families would sit down to meals regularly, or would have longer meal breaks.  Today, that percentage is dwindling and it’s showing with increasing waistlines.

The easiest way to fight back against this is to begin with ONE meal or snack a day, and commit to sitting down without any distractions, mental physical nor emotional.  Turn off the phone, turn off the to do list going through your head, step away from the office desk, tv, or household chores, and just eat!

This is the first step in mindfulness, and mindfulness brings more appreciation into your eating.  How many times have you eaten something, went to grab a bite and realized it was all gone, yet you had little recollection of how it tasted or how much you really ate?

Our satiety and fullness regulators are working from before you eat, and are also regulated by visual stimulation.  If you can look at your food, you can choose what to eat, and you can pay attention to your fullness as you go.

Allow yourself at 20 minute window at minimum for your meals, 10 for snacks, and schedule it into your day, beginning with only ONE meal or snack daily.  Observe your thoughts and feelings as you go, pay attention to fullness, and honor your body!

 

I drink!  Water, tea, and seltzer that is!

Hydration is important. Being dehydrated can trick you into wanting to eat or feeling fatigued. When you’re fatigued during the day, you may mistakenly eat. The best beverages to drink are water, unsweetened hot or cold tea, and if you need a little ‘pop’ have some unsweetened seltzer water.

Bored with plain water? Infuse it with a slice of lemon or citrus, a piece of cut up fruit or vegetable (like cucumbers or watermelon), and sip away!

The key here is that your beverages are not your source of calories or sweet flavors.  Consuming sweetened sugar laden beverages add hundreds if not thousands of empty calories to your diet in the form of sugar.  Sugar that is stored in the body goes right to your fat stores.

What about sugar free substitutes?  The verdict is still out on many of them, and I personally find they stimulate my appetite because it’s not getting calories, only flavor, so I’m left still wanting something more.  I recommend avoiding sugar substittues in your beverages and foods.  Stevia is one of the most natural ones out there today, but I find it has a bitter, tinish aftertaste.  Sugar alcohols (erythrotol, malitol, sorbitol, xylitol, etc) can leave you bloated or with digestive distress especially in large amounts due to their inability to be broken down in the body.

 

I don’t deprive myself. But I also am conscious about how often and how much I have of those other foods.

Part of the fun I find in eating, is that I can choose what to eat, when I want to eat it.  I incorporate variety into my diet.  I avoid saying ‘I’ll never eat ____ food again, because it’s not realistic, and it only causes me to think more about it obsessively.

I strive to keep my plate balanced with vegetables and proteins primarily, but the garnishes, flavor boosters, or treats are added to round out my eating.

I’m conscious when I go out to not go for the bread basket if I’m going to want a few bites of dessert, or some starch with my entrée.  It’s about balance and conscious awareness.  Sometimes this is about having a mini treat like a few bites of chocolate covered fruit or a single scoop of light ice cream every day or other day, and other times, I am able to skip my treat and wait until the weekend to have something out (and by this time I don’t want a huge portion, but just enough to tame my taste buds).

The biggest way to think of this is in RATIOS.  I shift my ratios from mostly carb/sugar/treat and little produce/protein, to mostly produce and protein and a few bites worth of the decandent stuff.  Works everytime, as the produce fills my stomach, protein satiates me, and the extra creates satisfaction.

 

I choose carefully where and how I want to spend my calories beyond my protein and veggies.

This is nearly the same as the previous point I made above.  It’s all about balance.  If I’m going to have a nice dinner this evening, I’m going to eat lightly now.  If I want the popular dessert, I will skip the bread and carbs with my entrée.

You choose your foods, you choose where you want to spend your calories.  As long as you are making up the most of your calories and food with produce and protein, you are seeing results and progress, and they are within the means of your goals, you can incorporate a variety of foods, and ones you love!

 

I eat carbs at times others say are taboo.

‘Don’t eat carbs after dinner’, ‘avoid carbs before cardio’, ‘eat some carbs before you train to fuel your workout’, ‘skip them at breakfast and have only protein’.  I’ve heard it all, and I’ve been succumbed to them all through the years.  A little study states you will damage your blood sugar, or gain weight and you have to adjust when and what carbs you eat.

So a quick tutorial on carbs.  They are not only your grains, breads, and starches.  Carbs are also found in produce, vegetables and fruits, and dairy, just in different amounts and along with different nutrients, and more fiber and water.

So when do you eat your carbs then, and which ones when?  Well, this is something you need to determine for YOU, similarly to all the other points made here.  But I will give you some guidelines and direction, both out of experience, and studying this stuff.

Your produce is the shining stars.  Most of your diet for fat loss is composed of produce, non starchy veggies, and certain fruits.  Only a portion of your servings are from starchy carbs and grains.  Timing of carbs can be played around with until you determine how your body responds.  To start out, begin with having your starchy carbs at about 2 meals daily and structuring them around your workouts or midday.

 

 

So there you have it!  How I eat for Fat Loss!  I will be launching a more detailed and personalized coaching program where I work with you to develop these habits and others so that you can create the Fat Burn Lifestyle and reach your goals!

 

If you haven’t already, sign up for my email subscription so you can be one of the first to get in on this program!

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Thick Thighs No More!!

I have a confession to make.  The one area I don’t particularly like on my body are my thighs.  I’ve had this love-hate with them since I was a teenager.  Funniest thing is, it’s the one body part, besides my back, that I receive the most compliments on.  Everything from, ‘you look like a runner (or ____ athlete they see fit)’, ‘I want your legs’, to ‘your legs are so lean and muscular’….

female legsI can tell you when and why I’ve had this self-consciousness with my thighs since.  First, I was a gymnast for pretty much all of my childhood.  Competitively from 10 years old to 18 years old.  I was jumping, running, landing, and all in a leotard, and sometimes spandex shorts (the Nike shorts I see everyone wear now are so much cooler though!). Gymnasts are known to be pretty petite, short, slim.  The sport itself in the past has been one of which body weight was a large influence and body image could overwhelm the minds of the athletes.  I saw first hand athletes who developed eating disorders or were overweight and struggling.  What about myself?  I was somewhat in the middle; never the leanest, and not the strongest either.  As a younger gymnast I was really muscular.

What happened? Well I hit puberty, and have a couple of injuries with held me back from training as hard or intensely regularly as my teammates.  Yet, I was still eating the same and my body was maturing.  One year I grew 6-inches within months! In this sport, height changes meant you had to adjust your technique and you would struggle with losing and having to regain skills.

Most of my teammates within my level were younger by at least 2 years.  But they were some of the best teammates ever, and I’m still very close with a couple too.

Anyhow, back to how this relates to my insecurity over my thighs…. One day at practice I was warming up, running around the floor with my teammate, and I had a younger gymnast, on the compulsory team comment ‘haha, your legs are jiggly.’  Well, this phrase stuck with me then.  I asked my friend what she said and what she meant and she wasn’t sure.  But to me, this meant my legs were huge, not muscular, and therefore I was overweight.

For YEARS those words haunted me. I went from not wanting to show my legs, to whenever I saw a picture of me checking to see how they looked, to when I began working out again after my hiatus in college post competitive years focusing on certain movements.

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Being an athlete from a young age, you develop muscles that nonathletes often don’t have or take years longer to develop when they are older.  Similar to how your thoughts and beliefs are shaped as a child, so is your body. This meant that I did have more muscular legs, whether they had that much fat then I could not tell you now because we never measured those numbers years ago.

If you are someone in the physique industry, or a competitive athlete, you might be escatic and happy to have strong powerful legs, but hearing someone say they ‘jiggle’ my mind went straight to how I ‘looked’ over what my body did for me.  My thoughts became shifted to what I could do to ‘shrink’ my legs and make them jiggle less.  But lifting heavy for me, in conjunction with what I ate, and my sport, didn’t aid in that leaning out.  In fact, I tend to add muscle and strength to my legs easily when I train them!

My college years, once I gained the ‘freshman 15’ and decided to take it off, I also decided to try some new approaches.  I did a ton of research on exercise, working out, losing weight, etc.  I started running, watching my portions and food choices, doing higher reps of leg exercises.

I also learned that building up your upper body (shoulders, back) created the look of a leaner lower body.  Ding ding ding!!  I was onto something! I initiated my weight loss by wanting to lose weight all over, and also create leaner legs, hip, and waist.  My workouts consisted of running a couple days a week, I taught myself how to swim, I began lifing weights (going heavier on upper body, trying new exercises), and going somewhat lighter but still fatiguing my lower body using a variety of exercises from standing, to machines, to floor work. In conjunction with my eating, I was able to see some significant changes in my body, my legs, and my confidence. This was a good number of years ago.

In the past year or two, I’ve learned a bit more about myself, my view of myself, and training.  I used to be really scared to lift heavy with my lower body.  Scared I would add bulk and get thicker in that area.  But, what I have actually found is that is absolutely NOT true!  In fact, training your lower body, just as any other part of your body, add muscle mass, and that boosts your metabolism, and creates a nice physique!

So what DOES add mass to your body, particularly your legs?

Well, if you are an athlete you will probably have more muscle than someone who doesn’t workout regularly or partake in competitive sports, and yes more muscle versus less muscle (both with low amounts of fat stores) will yield larger size.

Muscle also stores glycogen and glycogen loves water.  So, if you are consuming a diet that has carbs, and those carbs are stored or used for muscular performance you will be storing glycogen and water in your muscles, giving you a bit thicker look.

This is why when people go on low carb diets, they lose weight very quickly initially, they are depleting their muscles of water and glycogen.  That’s not all though!

It’s not inevitable that you will have thick legs if you have muscular legs.  How do you get lean, muscular legs? By watching what you eat, and eating just enough food to fuel your body.  Extra calories, whether from carbs or another macronutrient will cause weight gain.  Carbs can add fuel to this gain.  Timing of your meals also plays a role, replenishing your glycogen stores after a hard leg workout will cause water retention.  You will also have some inflammation after you train, as you damaged your muscles and they need to repair.

Lastly, what else influences your fat stores, and particularly your stores lower body, thighs, and hips, are HORMONES.  Women carry more cells in their lower body that helps they STORE fat instead of burn it.  Hormones such as insulin, cortisol, and female hormones including estrogen and progesterone play influence your fat storing capabilities.  Higher insulin levels and estrogen cause women to hold onto more weight.  Progesterone is the women’s form of testosterone and helps balance out the estrogen.  Women also have less testosterone than men.

How do these hormones get out of balance or too high?

Insulin is secreted when you eat foods rich in carbs and sugars.  It helps shuttle the glucose in your blood stream to be used or stored.  When too many carbs are consumed, insulin spikes.  Excess glucose is then stored as fat.  So maintaining healthy levels of insulin is important for fat storage as well as blood sugar health.

Cortisol is the stress hormone, when it is high, we are more sensitive to insulin, glucose, and other hormone and metabolic conditions.  High cortisol causes increases in fat storage.  Our bodies go through natural cortisol rhythyms throughout the day; being highest in the morning and lowest in the evening, unless there is some stress or adrenal dysfunction (this is for another blog entirely).

Estrogen levels vary throughout the month based on a woman’s menstrual cycle.  Also, one woman may have a naturally higher level of estrogen than her friend.  And, then there is a high Estrogen to Progesterone ratio, also known as Estrogen dominant.  All these scenarios influence where you hold your fat, and how well your body stores it in those stubborn areas.  You don’t want zero estrogen, but having too much estrogen, will cause more lower body and fat storage. Estrogen-progesterone imbalance or estrogen dominance used to be seen mostly in menopausal women, but now younger women in their 20s and 30s get this too due to stress, phytoestrogens, lifestyle, birth control methods, poor diet, or genetic reasons, including some thyroid conditions.

 

What do you do about to prevent or change this!?!?

  • Since women carry more fat storing cells in their lower body, it necessitates more light weight movement like leisure walking, fidgeting, while also keeping cortisol low.
  • Balancing cortisol by consuming plenty of lean proteins and vegetables, some fats, and being extra conscious of eating whole carb/starch sources, keeping them small when you do have them, and eating them at strategic times of the day.
  • Doing stress relieving activities to mitigate cortisol increases and high levels
  • Keep insulin in a healthy, somewhat lower range by consuming more protein and veggies and less carbs (having fiber rich ones when you do eat them). Avoiding sugars and fast digesting carbs so that you keep yourself in ‘Fat Burn Mode’. If you do have any carbs, sugars, you want to time them around your workouts so your body can use them efficiently for fuel or muscle building.
  • If you think you have an Estrogen dominance or Estrogen-Progesterone imbalance, you first want to consult your physician as she will run blood tests to confirm this. Secondary, you want to shift your diet away from phytoestrogens, estrogen leaching foods and plastics, and carbs.  Consume plenty of organic, non gmo produce, lean organic and grass fed protein. If your doctor finds you do have an imbalance they can direct you to some protocols.  (This area is another blog post too on how to balance your estrogen without drugs, if you have any questions please contact me in the meantime).

 

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Flavor + Fun + Nutritious + Meets my Needs for my Goals = Eating Enjoyment

   
 
This is what food and eating means to me, and it encompassing all of these components is important because if one is lacking your satisfaction and satiating factor will be lacking. You will be left wanting more. 
This was today’s lunch. I’ve been wanting some sort of Mac and cheese lately but not something that is full of processed junk or loaded with empty calories. I found this box in my local store recently. It’s by @anchientharvest, my favorite line of gluten free and delicious pastas, so I had to try their newest Mac and cheese!

I portioned it out for my own serving and cooked as directed. I added some pesto (some flavor punch) to the finished pasta and sauce. 

Alongside was smoked salmon atop a beg of romaine with diced peppers and fresh ginger dressing (another flavor booster).
This only took me 20 minutes to prep! Today is a day I have time to sit down, at home, to lunch without rushing but i can still make this ahead and bring with me. 
When I can cook my meals on the stop I prefer as I can get creative with my choices and combinations and have something completely fresh. Honestly, this doesn’t happen as much as I’d like; the other times I have to bring something with me and snack on them before work. But when I have chances like today and foods as these I savor them and choose not to rush through them. 
How we feel while we eat influences how it is used within our bodies. Eat at peace and it goes to good use, eat while rushed or stressed of sorts and your digestive system slows or stops, absorption is altered and hormones slow down progress in our goals. 
Lastly, I chose to have pasta today as my lunch as my post workout. I hit the gym before coming home and my body can benefit from the carbs and protein here. I strive to eat my carbs (starches, grains, legumes, sweet fruits) at only limited times and numbers of meals per day. Specifically, about 2 meals include these types of carbs, and that’s usually either my breakfast or lunch, and post workout. I’ve found this works for me and provides me with enough energy while also helping me in my physique goals. 
The remaining meals contain mostly veggies, and lean protein, garnished with some fat or a boost of flavor of choice, sometimes with some berries. 
Some misconceptions are that you ‘need’ carbs at every meal, you shouldn’t have any carbs if you want to lose weight, or that cutting down on carbs will leave you low energy or craving more later. 
Let me clarify this! Each of these statements are absolutes, and our bodies are anything BUT absolutes. We are each a bit different in needs, and goals, and we need to figure our bodies out. Stop falling to one-size phrases and guidelines. 
Depending on your activity level, where you’re currently at in your process, your body’s metabolism…you may need more carbs. Carbs are also in more than only starches, grains, fruit, and legumes though! Vegetables also contain some carbs, as well as milk, yogurt, and dairy. 
The difference is in their amount of carbs and calories in relation to the fiber, water, and volume. Vegetables have much more fiber versus calories and carbs in a serving. Grains and starches etc are more calorie and carb dense with less fiber and water in a small serving. Therefore, you will get more full, quicker on non starchy vegetables while consuming less total calories than you would on a similar amount of the starchy/grain ones. 
It’s all about balancing and knowing which ones your body will benefit from at a given time than others and honoring those needs! 
Eating less carbs does NOT mean you need to be hungry, unsatisfied, or low energy. To boost satisfaction and enjoyment in my meals I use foods that have a punch of flavor, and cook with fresh ingredients. Flavor boosters may include hot sauce, vinegars, citrus juices, herbs, spices and salt free spice blends, mustards, sauerkraut, pickles, certain condiments like pesto and Chimichurri, tomato sauces, salsa, enchilada sauce… Depending on what your goals are you can incorporate these foods in your regular diet so that you’re enjoying you food and making progress!
Try it and let me know!
Interested in more specific guidance or plans? Contact me direct at contact@rachelsfusion.com!

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It’s not eating out that keeps you fat; it’s your CHOICES and BELIEFS that keep you fat! 

  
“I can’t eat out, I’ll ruin my diet and won’t reach my goals! It’s not part of my plan, so I just won’t go out, EVER.”
Is this statement really realistic? I will answer that in a simple NO. It’s NOT realistic at all!
Saying you cannot go out while you have health or fat loss goals is only going to set you up for failure. 
Why? If you have no plan or direction for going out, there will come a time where you will go out for some reason or another, and you will have no clue how to eat when you do, most likely leading to feeling overwhelmed and throwing in the towel for the whole meal. 
The whole problem with dining out isn’t the food itself. 
****It’s our choices we make when we are out! It’s failing to think of the obstacles, struggles, and challenges ahead of time. The problem is in how we perceive and think of these situations.****
Face it, dining out is fun and common, and I sure enjoy it! But I don’t go in thinking I’m going to let loose, nor do I go in without some guideline directing me. 
First things, you need to accept that dining out is here to stay, and making wise, appropriate, reasonable choices are in our own park. What needs to be done is on our part the majority of the time.  
This being said, you need to create a plan, a set of mindful guidelines, that will direct you when you’re out, and follow these guidelines! STOP TREATING EVERY MEAL OUT LIKE A TREAT! 
This is a huge mindset change. It means moving away from feeling deprived if you don’t have the same fat or calorie laden foods as those around you but do have something clean or simple. Changing your thoughts to thinking of scoping out the menus for what’s within means for YOU and your goals. 
There are some easy steps to shifting your mind and actions towards making dining out within your means to your priorities and goals….
It is easier when you choose the place you will eat, pick somewhere that is more conductive to your diet, and check out the menu ahead of time. So this is the first order. BUT, if you don’t have the choice of location, at least check out the menu ahead of time, deciding before hand what to have. 

Still, if menus are not available prior, you’re still in good shape! Read through the guidelines listed below:
1. When you arrive, order water, unsweet tea or seltzer, adding some lemons if desired. Drink water before any food is eaten and throughout the meal. 

2. Ask to SKIP THE BREAD OR CHIPS! C’mon, do you REALLY want to WASTE your calories on this part of the meal? You need to make a choice between either bread/chips bowl, a carb/starch with your main entree or app, or a few bites of a dessert. NOT all 3! Some carbs are fine, more is not necessary. 

3. Also, keep tabs on the portions of those carbs. If you have a lot of fat to shed or are less active 1-3 bites is ample, very active or lean individuals MAY be able to handle up to 15 bites. This s for the entire meal! This is something you need to figure out yourself as it is unique to your body. 

4. Begin by ordering a salad, or broth/vegetable based soup. Ask for dressing on side, avoid or limit the addons like croutons, lots of cheese, or fats unless this is going to be your main meal. 

5. If you’d like to have an appetizer scope out ones that are rich in lean protein or produce. Skip the fried and carb rich apps, unless that’s where you’re having your carbs. If that’s the case still watch portions as above!

6. Choose or create your entree based on a Balanced Carb Controlled Plate. This is my guiding savior for my meals. It’s a great way to manage my calories, macros, and meals without overdoing it. You can do this with appetizers, salad, or entree itself. A Balanced Carb Controlled Plate consists of 1/2 the plate being non starchy veggies (broccoli, asparagus, spinach, green beans, or side salad), 1/4 of the plate lean protein, garnished with some fat (vinaigrette, nuts, cheese, olive oil, etc) served on side and added yourself, and carbs making up the number of bites unique to you. 

7. A balanced plate doesn’t need to be an entree. You can create one by having a salad or broth/veg soup, and a protein rich appetizer. Or choose a protein rich app and a produce rich one and make those your meals. This can also cut costs and provide enough variety to satisfy. 

8. Take some to go, or share. Portions served at restaurants today are 2-5 times larger than a serving size! That means you can be eating hundreds of not thousands of extra calories in a single sitting! Plates that meals are served on have grown as well. When your food comes check in to see how large of a plate and how big the portions are. If the plate larger than 8-in diameter replate an appropriate amount or ask for a to-go box and bring half home for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. 

9. Watch out for condiments and addons. The worst ones are butter, mayo, creamy dressings, cream or butter sauces, ketchup (full of sugar), and sweet barbecue sauces (also full of sugars). The BEST flavor boosters are mustard, vinegar, lemon lime or citrus, light vinaigrettes, steak sauce, vegetable or vinegar based condiments like Chimichurri, salsa, pico, etc. You may use flavor enchanters to add oomph to your meal. 

10. Enjoy your food! I can’t tell you how often I see others scarf down a meal while multitasking, or because they are in a hurry or ravenous. THE FOOD ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE! Enjoy it by looking, smelling, tasting, and observing the texture. Also pay attention to your hunger, appetite, cravings, and fullness as you eat. 

11. Go for satisfied over full. Stop before you’re ‘done and full’. It takes up to 20 minutes to register satisfaction. If you keep eating until then or eat quickly you will end up stuffed. Stuffed leads to guilt, being uncomfortable, and less positive memory of your meal. Remember, the first 2-4 bites are always the most delicious ones for your tastebuds, beyond that it takes the same or the flavor fades. 

12. Do something else when you’re done. Even if you’re not sure if you’re satisfied, leave the food. You can always come back or eat more and, no, you will not starve. I like to socialize, go for a walk, read, sightsee if I’m away from home, or partake in one of my hobbies or passions. 

13. Repeat!
I can’t wait to hear how you do!! Need some extra coaching? Contact me today!

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It’s so much more than the physical. 

 
“Coach, please just tell me what to eat! Write a meal plan and I’ll follow it to a T.”
“I just need a workout routine written.”
“I’ll just train with you 2-3 days a week and eat clean. I’ll be able to lose weight that way.”

I’ve heard these phrases before. Being a trainer and coach many clients that come to be believe they just need to perform a workout or eat different and they will have success in their goals. 
But, lets damn face it, you may see a change, results, just working out, or following a diet, but the long term, LASTING success rate in these cases is not very high. 
Are you destined to fail, or revert back to your old self then? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!
It’s not the physical activity and diet that needs addressing as much as it is our MINDS that do. Habits, beliefs, bias’, emotions and feeling. These all influence our actions and outcomes, and therefore our success in the end. 
Think about it, many times you go to a gym, hire a trainer and they hand you a workout. You may choose to workout with them guiding you first hand, they will tell you what exercises to do, how to perform them. You’re with that trainer 1-3 days a week depending on how often you train, or you get a new workout to follow every couple weeks. 

You go to hire a nutritionist or dietician and they write out a meal plan for you based on your weight, height, activity, and goals. Tell you foods to eat, servings, times, etc and let you go on your way. 

These may work for a while. If you’ve never followed a workout before, or are in a calorie deficit you’ll probably lose some weight. 
BUT, there is a large component of success that MISSING in the above situations. No one addressed why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. There is no talk about your habits, if you eat emotionally, what you think about exercise or dieting, your beliefs, fears, obstacles, any solutions or game plans for when time is right or you get bored with your program. 
What missing is addressing the MIND! Mindset, Behavior Change, Emotions and Feelings, Thoughts and beliefs, habits, stress and external influences management…
In order to see lasting change you need to focus on these areas. You need to dig deeper than just the surface. It’s really easier to get started doing this than you may believe. 
Below are 5 ways to address the MIND component of success and reaching your best self!

1. Journal or log

2. Try the raisin experiment – take a single raisin, square of dark chocolate, or nut of choice. Sit down with no distractions and allow 5-10 minutes. Look and and observe the pieces of food, using all your senses (touch, smell, feel initially). Put in your mouth and feel, smell, taste, listen). Observe what the food is like using all those senses and what your thoughts are while doing this and after. Do you notice any new tastes or textures, do you see anything differently? This is a cornerstone to mindful eating and a great beginner exercise. You don’t need to practice to the extreme whenever you eat, but bringing more conscious awareness to your food and eating could yield slowing down and a change in your thoughts and habits around certain foods.  

  
3. Practice the ‘Take 5’ method – before you jump into eating, or whenever you feel rushed or tense, take 5 deep breathes in and out really focusing on your breathe and body and letting go of thoughts and feelings while you breathe. Then return to whatever you were doing whether it be eating or other tasks. 

4. Write down obstacles that are or are potentially getting in the way of where you want to be. Then write down a solution to each one that you begin to practice. 

5. Identify negative thoughts that influence your behaviors. Stop that thought in its tracks. Shift the thought to an alternative solution. Come up with 2-3 positive mantras or quotes to keep you on track that challenge or oppose the negative ones. I call this ID, STOP, SHIFT, REFRAME INTO POSITIVE OR “ISSR”. 
  

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The Struggles Are Real. 

I have a personal story I’d like to share with you. 
Why do I want to share it? Because it has directly influenced who I have come to be, what I’ve learned in life, and why I have such an interest in helping others in similar struggles. 
So, the story? I struggled with emotional eating and body image for a large chunk of my life. 
As a teenager it got the best of me, in both extremes (eating too much, not eating enough). In college, I decided to take a stand and work to change the poor behaviors, thoughts, and actions I was doing. I was sick and tired of feeling guilty, unhappy, frustrated, being out of shape and health. 
From my personal experiences, I learned a whole lot about myself, and about the thoughts and actions it takes to move beyond emotional eating and away from poor body image. 
My own personal drive, curiosity, and transformation directed me into changing my degree and shifting career fields from Physical Therapy to Movement Sciences (Exercise and Fitness) & Nutrition. I wanted to eat up all I could know because I wanted to take that plus my own learned successes and help others like me. 
Since I was a child, when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would go around saying, ‘I want to help others’. Yes, it’s very vague, and the ‘how’ I did not know then, but today it’s coming pretty clearly. 
Emotional and stress eating got the best of me for years. So did body image, and insecurities of what others thought about me and how I looked. I was a quiet child, I am still quiet; but I listen very well, and when I do have something to say, something that intrigues me or interests me, I will talk for hours. 
The second part of my story is my struggle with metabolic and hormone problems. So bad, that for a good couple years I felt like I lost who I was. Nothing I was doing before worked anymore. I had trouble regulating my feelings, mood, emotions, and my hunger, appetite, and weight. I discovered I had under active Thyroid (runs in my family), and hormone imbalances. My digestion and gut regularity was all over the place, and I had trouble determining what the problem was and how to solve it. 

This, too, drove me to learning more, taking more courses, practicing new habits, and lots of experimentation. 
The truth is, I still need to practice and use the tools that helped me overcome these challenges today. They are part of what keeps me on track. They keep me conscious and directed. They keep me healthy, happy, and well. From mindset and behaviors, to specific protocols in physical activity and eating, these tools are what I believe to be what have led me to succeeding and beating the things I struggled with for so long. 
It is these tools, protocols, behaviors, and thoughts that culminate into Rachel’s Fusion, and I will stand behind them all the way. I’m not mad about those struggles, but I’m proud they have directed me to helping others beat their struggles as well!

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