Category Archives: Diet / Nutrition

Meg’s Weight Loss Story

I have been an athlete my whole life, mostly by way of soccer growing up, and in my adult life as a runner and occasional triathlete.
Growing up, I never thought about weight, and I was always athletic and average when it came to weight.
Once college hit, I tore my ACL my first year playing collegiate soccer and never made it back to the competitive field. The weight began piling on and I didn’t even know it. That’s how unaware I was.
One day I got on the scale, 40 lbs heavier than I had ever remembered being…yikes!
2 years of calorie counting later, I had finally lost the weight.
I held steady until I was pregnant with my first child. After she was born, once everything leveled off, I had about 20 pounds left to lose. It took roughly 6 months.
I held steady for a few months before getting pregnant with child #2. Once everything leveled off, I had about 40 pounds left to lose. I have lost 30 of it.

Across those 3 times, and collectively several years of trying to lose weight, I have developed some strong opinions on what works and what doesn’t.
I will always hold strongly to the belief that DIET is the most important factor in weight loss. I have tried calorie counting, paleo, cutting out added sugar, and I’ll say this. I really appreciate the way I learned how to eat when following a paleo mindset or cutting out processed sugared foods, but calorie counting reigns supreme for me. If I follow a strict eating plan, I careen way off track and the loss of momentum takes me a few weeks to get over before re-committing. Calorie counting just gives me a bit more flexibility to live the life I want to live. I love chips and guacamole, I love cheez-its, I love baking cookies and salted chocolate chip is my specialty. Calorie counting gives me room for that.

Another opinion I’ve developed is regarding the role of exercise.

I encourage ALL of my weight loss clients to separate their fitness goals and what happens in the gym from their weight loss goals. I do this for two reasons…
1. The connection, even from a calorie burning perspective, between working out and weight loss is fuzzy and unreliable.
2. It reinforces the thought that there is an “end” to your time where you work on your fitness.

Addressing number one…When you work out more, you have more of an appetite, which sets you up for eating more or feeling starved and unmotivated to continue your diet. In addition, if you are just cranking the cardio, you are burning muscle mass in the process which can cripple your metabolic ability to keep the weight off, as well as your ability to lose in the future should you happen to regain any.
And, if you are doing resistance training or strength training, you are building muscle mass which can look like the opposite of what you’re going for on the scale. This discourages strength training which kills me…because it is the essence of what we are all really going for…looking better!

Addressing number two, just because you hit a number on the scale doesn’t mean you can stop going to the gym! Weight training, running or whatever you’re doing for fitness is a huge part of how you feel and look! If you stop your fitness, you stop looking and feeling like you do! I prefer fitness goals for the gym. Achieving those should open the door to pushing yourself to be a little bit better, faster, or stronger.
For a little practical application on how these tie together…
I am currently 10 pounds heavier then I was before I had children…yet I am the same size I was before I had them, AND i’m so much stronger. Would I like to see that number on the scale again…Absolutely…
Would I trade the strength I have which enables me to live my life and maintain bone density for that number? Absolutely not.

Surviving Thanksgiving

This week, many people all over America will shelf their weight-loss and fitness goals. The business of this time of year is a ready excuse that is contagious. As you purchase your turkeys and sides, looking up delicious new recipes or salivating over old favorites, take a few minutes to think hard about what you want to look and feel like this next 6 weeks and beyond. Do you really want to start 2013 with an extra 5 to 10 pounds to shed? You don’t have to, it isn’t inevitable and you alone are in control.

Develop an action plan…
Make a list of all the different dishes you will encounter on Thursday and put a star next to the ones that are healthy. These should fill up most of your plate!
Look at the list again and put a smiley face or heart or dash next to the dishes that you live for at the holidays. Think of an appropriate portion that allows you to experience your favorite flavors with out feeling like you’ve over indulged. Make a note of this and commit to having just that much at dinner.

If you are in charge of making the meal, take the opportunity to create a new tradition…
Know that when it comes to food, variety competes with self-control! Our bodies and brains crave stimulation and lots of different flavors presents the perfect place to feed that craving. It overrides our bodies ability to tell us we are full or satisfied. Knowing that, scale back on a few recipes this year!
In addition, you can add a new recipe to your table and start the meal off multiple course style…with a salad! Serve it before you serve anything else so you give yourself and your family the chance to fill up on healthful food before the buttery marshmallowy sweet potato casserole hits the table.

Here is a great Salad…Its a knock off House Salad from The Works.

Bed of Field Greens Topped with the following:
Golden Raisins
Dried Cranberries
Diced Granny Smith Apple
Mandarin Orange Segments
Sunflower Seeds
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Balsamic Vinaigrette

It’s delicious!

Just know that you have the power to say no, the power to exercise self-control. If you start now, you will keep that self-control ball rolling through your holiday parties for the next 6 weeks. You will start off 2013 feeling empowered, feeling in control, and able to set some NEW goals because you don’t have to lose that same 5 to 10 pounds!

Realistic Goal Setting

We hear so much about goals and being goal-oriented. It’s a very praised trait. Those who have goals and pursue them are described as driven individuals. That sounds nice, eh?
S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are (yes it’s an acronym) Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. I think they need to have two R’s in that acronym and the FIRST would be for REALISTIC.

One of my goals right now is to run 3 days a week. Tuesday, Thursday, and one day of the weekend.

Another goal right now is to make dinner for my family 6 out of 7 nights a week. A girl needs one night a week off, right?!

Both of these goals seem pretty simplistic but they are very realistic for me. I recently ran a 5k at a 7:57 pace which is the best I’ve run since becoming a mom. I’m patting myself on the back. I would also LOVE to hammer on that pace and get it below a 7:30minute mile. I am not sure that speedwork is realistic for me every week right now for 2 reasons. One, I have to run with my children at least one or two days a week. Two, the weather.

Set goals, yes. Drive yourself towards them, yes. Set yourself up for failure, NO!

Give up on your high aspirations….No, not that either. I think the day will come when I can strive for that 7:30 pace: when I stop working so much, when my kids are in school, when the sunlight lasts past 5pm. But right now I cannot set myself up for failure. I also can’t set myself up for hating this phase of life that I am in.

As you think about what you want to accomplish, from a fitness persective or any other perspective, think about it in realistic terms. A great way to start is to look at your weekly schedule and see how much time you have free to devote to your goal. Measure that up against your aspirations and see if you need a little does of reality. Take in to consideration other “surprises” that may come against your ideal weekly schedule such as illness (either yours or family members), weather, car trouble…

Set solid realistic goals and begin working towards them today!!

Broccoli cheddar soup

This is a fantastic recipe with a lot of veggie power! Great to freeze and eat as a quick weekday lunch!

Recipe comes from cooksillustrated.com, makers of America’s Test Kitchen. Their recipes are tried and true and come out right every time!

To make a vegetarian version of this soup, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
INGREDIENTS
2tablespoons unsalted butter
2pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2teaspoons dry mustard powder
pinch cayenne pepper
Table salt
3–4cups water
1/4teaspoon baking soda
2cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)
2ounces baby spinach (2 loosely packed cups)
3ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1 1/2ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
Ground black pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and baking soda. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.
2. Add broth and 2 cups water and increase heat to medium-high. When mixture begins to simmer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer soup to medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to Dutch oven, place over medium heat and bring to simmer. Adjust consistency of soup with up to 1 cup water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

This can really tame my sweet tooth and is a long-lasting, filling snack to avoid ice-cream and chip eating in the evening!

  • Place 8oz unsweetened Original Almond Milk in a Blender.
  • Add 1 brown-spotted banana
  • Add 1 heaping Tablespoon unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Blend and Add as much ice as desired.  I love mine thick so I add a lot!

Need it as a meal replacement?  Add one scoop of unflavored protein powder (I use Any Whey)

Need a little bit more?  Add a Tablespoon of almond or peanut butter (Natural butters if you’re trying to stay away from sugar!)