A glimpse into our NO SUGAR private forum

Here we are only 3 1/2 days left of the 14 Day NO SUGAR challenge and I’m a bit surprised at how well it’s gone. You’d think with cutting out all sugars; real and artificial, healthy options and natural options – that life would get a bit crazy and uncontrollable, right?

I thought so too..but these ladies that are part of the challenge this month are rockstars and hardcore committed to finishing stronger than they started. I’ve also done better than I’d imagined since I didn’t even think I needed to stay strong because I’ve done this before (excuses much???) but when I say I’ll do something, I stick to my word. What’s life without having integrity?

Today I will share actual comments and shares from these women who are keeping me motivated every day and helped me bypass a fancy ice cream waffle cone this past weekend, that was decorated in the shape of a rose. 🙂

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NO SUGAR CHALLENGE Challenger comments:

“It’s getting easier to turn down foods and drink with sugar in it. I started the challenge well, then got hit hard by cravings and hostility (who knew I’d be so bitter!). Now I’m nearing the end, and am fighting every day to finish well. I went to another dinner tonight where I could’ve easily taken one bite or sip and no one would have ever known. But I would know. I couldn’t undo all the hard work. I couldn’t let down the other women in my challenge group. I wanted to say ‘yes,’ many times, but actively chose to say ‘NO.’ Gonna finish strong.
As hard as I’m fighting for food health, I need to also fight for my body. I feel a cold coming on; I made an executive decision to sit this one out. My body needed the rest, so no workout today.”
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“Yesterday I had a non scale victory when a friend told me it looked like I lost weight! I have been trying to cut and lean out from body beast. I was excited to hear that even though the scale hasn’t moved a ton, which I am totally okay with.”

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“I am grateful that today was the second day I woke up early and did my t25 speed workout. Burpees involve a little hop to the back. I am glad I can do that since my shoulder was out of commission all year. I’m hoping to get stronger day by day.”

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“I am seeing RESULTS! 21-Day fix with Shakeology…I’m not getting hungry because I’m eating the right things before I feel that “ravenous” feeling I used to get when cutting calories. Now I never get there and I know what to reach for!”

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“I am so grateful for all the wonderful new friends I have made in these groups! All of you have been so great and supportive -“

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So, I’m not done clearing out the sugar yet, but I had a dream last night and I refused to eat sugary treats even while sleeping!#breakthrough “

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“My change I made this week is that I went grocery shopping, took my time and made sure to get what I had on list not just rushing through grabbing unhealthy choices that fill the belly! Felt great plus I have eaten breakfast everyday this week and can notice I feel so much better!!!!”

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Do you see how I’ve been able to stick to this for almost 14 days now? If it was just me, honestly, I would have easily caved during the weekend ice cream treat. Who wouldn’t, right? I know I may have seemed a bit psychotic in passing up the gorgeous treat but it was more of a victory to stick to the goals that I had made for myself. We all wrote out a contract to follow and are working towards earning a reward we’ve promised ourselves if we finish the challenge without giving in…and there is also a punishment for not following through and we have to “give up” something in exchange for slipping up.

Easy? Not really, but if the goal and the commitment is strong enough then the practice becomes easier to handle as our bodies, minds and willpower get strengthened. What is your biggest vice of the moment and would you be willing to forego the habit for 14 days?

Shakeology Vs. Protein Powders (and then some)

A question I am asked almost on a daily basis is, “Isn’t Shakeology just another protein drink?

Simply put, NO, it is not. If you want to use more protein, I highly suggest getting in more healthy food options. I don’t like the idea of supplementing our meals for a “shake” unless there is no time for an actual meal and our bodies need the nutrition and fuel. Protein powders are honestly, a dime a dozen (okay, maybe more than a dime but you know what I mean).

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I would be extremely cautious in terms of “protein powders” on the market these days and if you do require a fast fix for protein, read the ingredients. Most of the options available (for cheap, as I hear most people say) from GNC, Walmart, Target, etc have some pretty scary bonding agents that are known to cause diseases. If it’s “cheap” then there’s a reason why it’s “cheap”. Most likely, it’s filled with fillers that do nothing for your body in a positive and long term light. We get what we pay for and if you don’t believe me, do your own research. Knowledge is power and you would have to see what each of the unrecognizable ingredients actually are. I recently looked up many on google to prove my own point and to my surprise, found that many were in the “cleaner” touted protein shakes my kids were using from GNC. Not cool..and this momma said so!

I am going to answer the most common questions surrounding Shakeology so that you can learn more information to form your own decision. This is not, by any means, a push for you to buy buy buy! It’s more about education and answering questions to help you decide what is best for you. Isn’t that what coaching and supporting is all about anyway? So let’s start with the basic question from before:

Question: “Isn’t Shakeology just a more “pricier” protein shake? and can’t I just use my current brand instead?” 

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Answer: Shakeology is NOT a protein shake. Nor is it a weight loss shake. It is a 100% natural (macro and micro) nutrient dense meal replacement. It is not a one-dimensional protein shake.
Because Shakeology IS 100% natural (created by a vegan with a masters in nutrition and agricultural anthropology) the standard to remain natural does not allow for ANY artificial flavors, colors, stimulants, sweeteners or chemically modified micronutrients. Nearly every single product found in gyms, GNC, internet, you name it, have a LARGE amount of manmade chemicals dumped in it so that it tastes appealing to the general publics’ “idea” of what food SHOULD taste like.

When you add ONLY what nature provides, you get the CLEANEST and PUREST product possible. 

On to the superfoods. I don’t expect the average person that follows you to know what Astragalus Root, Ashwagandha Root, Chia Seed, Maca Root, Gogi Berries and Reishi Mushrooms are (just to name a few super foods, I’ll spare listing all 70).

Nor do I expect them to have general knowledge in all the health benefits and medicinal treatments that these foods have notoriously been used for centuries to treat examples as reducing free radicals from our body, improving our white blood cell counts which helps us fight disease, reducing inflammation (the number one marker of EVERY disease), improving the natural flora in our digestive system, etc.

If BB grew these products in a lab and modified them to keep them cheap, that would be one thing, but EACH of the 70 super foods are imported from the countries, climates and pure soil they originate from and then dried to a specific protocol to maintain a whole food- absorption integrity. Everyone should value this $4 meal. Check out this video –

Where do the ingredients in Shakeology come from anyway???

Question: “Why is Shakeology SO expensive??” 

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Answer:  If you have been following me for any length of time, it is no secret that I love my Shakeology and it’s been instrumental in me keeping off the weight from my up and down yo-yo diets and emotional eating binges that lasted for over 20 years!

But I wasn’t always convinced so let me share what I’ve learned. When Shakeology came on the market, I was having good results with my strict food plans and incorporating workouts like, P90X and Insanity to my current training programs.  I initially thought Shakeology was just too expensive for just another meal replacement shake.

And $120 for a bag? Are these people nuts??? Shakeology is too expensive! As a mom with a busy schedule and bills to pay and kids to feed, I figured I didn’t need to invest in this absurdity of hyped up health in a bag. 😛

I made it through two of the hardest Beachbody workout programs they had at the time. I had finally lost the 30+ lbs after my 3rd child and was doing well enough keeping it off, why do I need this overpriced protein powder?

That was before I did my research and educated myself on what makes Shakeology different than the $19 tub of whey protein powder that I can get at the nearest grocery store. Carl Daikeler (Beachbody’s CEO) did a brilliant blog post where he answers the following question:
“How Do I Really Know If This is Worth the Money When Everything Else Costs Less?”

There are many “protein shakes” and meal replacements that are less expensive than Shakeology. But comparisons – based on the simple “protein shake” or even “health shake” are usually off the mark because of intangibles like quality of sourcing, efficacy, and the delicate balance of incredible health benefits and delicious flavor that is unique to Shakeology. When we developed Shakeology, our goal was to fill a void in the marketplace where the benefits of the shake would live up to the promise of the line “The Healthiest Meal of the Day.”  Shakeology was designed for people who want more than protein, and for people who really expect the health benefits being represented by the ingredients on the label. With Shakeology not only do you get what you pay for, but because it tastes so good and the attention to every detail is so complete, you get more than you pay for.

Question: “What’s the difference then between Shakeology and all-natural whey protein powders?”

Answer: It’s easy to mistake Shakeology as a whey protein supplement since it comes in powder form. Most people that are unfamiliar with supplements see a bag, or barrel, of shake mix and immediately think “protein powder” and that’s totally understandable! I even thought that Shakeology was just some generic protein shake with some fancy packaging that was just being marketed differently by Beachbody, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s so much more.

You have to realize that whey protein shakes and Shakeology just aren’t in the same class. You have to separate the words “protein shake” from Shakeology. Yes, Shakeology does have a comparable amount of protein as many whey protein shakes, but it’s densely packed with so many more vital ingredients that your body needs for proper nutrition and protein shakes don’t even come close.

To really understand the difference between whey protein vs Shakeology, we have to break down what’s in them and what they do for you.

The primary ingredient in whey protein shakes is whey protein and the main reason people drink these shakes is to boost their daily protein intake so they can build bigger muscles in a shorter amount of time. If that’s your main goal, then a good old-fashioned protein shake is all you need. (Or as I mentioned above, just some chicken breast, egg whites or cottage cheese!)

Whey protein is what’s known as a complete protein that has all 9 essential amino acids and is fast and easy for your body to digest. Drinking protein shakes that use whey as the protein source, which almost all do these days, is the quickest way to fuel your body’s muscle growth with complete proteins without having to cook an entire meal.

  1. Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC): The cheapest of the three, WPC’s have the least amount of protein / 100g and is normally higher in fat and lactose than the other two.
  2. Whey Protein Isolate (WPI): The most popular of the three as 95% of its weight is made up of protein and doesn’t taste like concrete powder.
  3. Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH): Tastes like concrete powder. If you don’t care about taste or you just slam your shake down, WPH’s are 99% protein and digest very quickly in the body, but are the most expensive type of whey.

Regardless of which type of whey protein you go with, they all share the same purpose and function. Supplementing your protein and amino acid intake to get your muscles the protein they need to recover faster.

Now what’s Shakeology? 

Shakeology is a protein shake, but in the same way that a tiger is a cat and that because it’s a protein shake doesn’t mean that it’s just a protein shake. Shakeology is a high quality, complete meal replacement and nutritional supplement containing nearly 50 different superfoods!

Shakeology’s nutrient dense formula gives you a natural boost of healthy energy without forcing you to consume copious amounts of caffeine or processed sugar, promotes a healthy digestive tract, boosts your immune system with an antioxidant blend, and helps you fight cravings with a heaping helping of protein.

A single serving of Shakeology has 17 grams of protein from a whey protein isolate formula so a Shakeology shake has almost the same amount of protein per serving as a comparable whey shake which makes it perfect for athletes who are concerned with their performance as well as people just looking for a healthy meal replacement to aid them on their weight loss journey. On top of that, Shakeology is packed with fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes to promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract and digestion as well as aiding in the absorption of nutrients.

There isn’t a single shake on the market today that can boast anything that comes close to the health benefits of Shakeology. Nothing.

Some people will tell you, “Oh, just eat a healthy diet, take a multivitamin, drink your protein shakes, and you don’t need Shakeology,” but it’s really not that simple. As I continued to do my research, I discovered that if you separately bought all of the superfoods, vitamins, and minerals that Shakeology has and whey protein shakes don’t, you would easily spend over $300 extra every month! That’s more than twice the cost of Shakeology!

And that’s not even counting having to rebuy the perishable ingredients, i.e. blueberries, pomegranates, etc., because of their short shelf-life. You’ll never say “Shakeology is too expensive!” again when it’s actually cheaper that buying the foods individually!

At the retail price, Shakeology breaks down to about $4 a day. I started looking at what I spent on food while I was running around and picking foods up on the go.  Most places I went into, I grabbed quick food choices on-the-go that would cost me around $8 a meal with little-to-no nutritional value. (That doesn’t include the 2-3 Starbucks stops I would make spending at least $3 a pop during each visit!)

I also took a look in my own cabinets and the money I was spending at health food stores on vitamins, powders, joint support, digestive enzymes etc. All that stuff adds up fast, and became completely unnecessary with Shakeology.

But let’s be honest, at the end of the day all you, or I really care about is two things:

1.    How does it taste?
2.    Does it work?

First, the taste was surprisingly awesome!  I tasted just about every shake on the market, and had grown accustomed to ‘tolerating’ that chalky fake chocolate flavor of most.  But Shakeology really did taste like I was cheating on my diet.  I was getting to drink a milk shake every day and not feel bad about it!

Second, what were the results?  Like I said before, I was already well on my weight loss journey when I started drinking Shakeology.  I felt I was pretty fit on the outside, but I had a lot of internal issues no one could see.  Within the first month of using Shakeology consistently each day, my digestion issues were better, my skin cleared up, and my recurring cravings and emotional eating habits began to subside until they no longer have power over me.

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Now that’s cooler than cool!

I also have had tons of clients who also use Shakeology and it has reduced their needs for diabetic medications, statins and ace inhibitors. It’s also relieved countless cases of IBS, colitis and arthritis. Paying $4 and getting off pricey side-effect laden medications and spending less than the average meal they would otherwise be spending is MUCH cheaper and a price that is well worth the $129 for a month’s supply.

 

How many calories should you be eating to lose weight?

A question I hear a lot from my clients when starting a new weight loss and health program like “21 Day Fix”, “Insanity”, “Piyo” or anything at all is:

“The meal plan says to eat XXX amount of calories but that sounds kind of high so can I just eat less for better results?”

Simply stated, NO!! Please NONONONONONONONO!!

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Did you get that? The answer is DO NOT EAT LESS THAN THE PLAN SPECIFIES!

Let’s start with the basics of why:

When you cut back on calories below the minimum of your daily needs, it also means cutting back on nutrition.

This is the main reason I always suggest my clients use Shakeology daily. No, it’s not a protein shake or diet meal replacement; it’s how our nutrition is met and this helps us succeed in our results long term. (think the opposite of a “DIET”) Not eating enough calories daily and not getting the nutrition met can then lead to potentially life-threatening health problems that make losing weight the least of your concerns. Not really worth that, in my honest opinion. Every bodily function requires a specific amount of calories to perform efficiently. You burn calories when you sleep, when you lay on the couch and watch your favorite Netflix show, and when you’re browsing the internet. You need to make sure that you get enough calories, and even when you’re trying to lose weight.

So how do you know what your daily calorie requirements are? That all depends on your gender, your age, your body weight and your current activity level. If you are following a Beachbody program, it’s easy to figure out your needs by just following the calculations in the specific fitness plans’ booklet. If you are following Insanity Max:30, don’t follow the guidelines for the 21 Day Fix. Use the calculations for the specified program and do what it says. (these are scientifically proven systems that work when followed as planned). If you are not following a plan at this time and are interested in calculating what your body needs to lose or gain weight with what you’re currently doing, here is a video I made on understanding how to find the calorie range for you:

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I should mention that a daily intake should always stay above 1,500 calories (never lower) if you are a man and at least 1,200 calories (never lower) if you are a woman. These numbers will change depending on your body size and activity level and goals.

 

So what happens if you still believe you can reach your goals sooner by eating fewer calories than you need? Let’s talk about what happens within your body in these circumstances:

When your calories are fewer than your body requires, it will initially lead to weight loss but over an extended period of time, it can actually stall weight loss. By choosing to eat fewer than the minimum 1,200- 1,500 calories, for example, your body will go into “starvation mode”.  Your body is basically working to stay alive…and since it does not want to die, it compensates by slowing down the metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories), slows down in defense of starving. How do we help our metabolism fuel better again? Simply by increasing our calories and getting the required amount needed, along with the proper nutrition. (you can’t eat fast foods all day and expect to feed your body right)

I always ask my clients if they are only interested in losing weight or if they are invested in total body health, wellness and overall body fat and weight loss. If your goals are just to lose weight, then that can be met by cutting back on calories, eating low nutritional foods and even using unhealthy practices. Fad diets are proof of this fact. These practices rarely end in long term results and can tax our bodies over time when we repeat the bad habits of overeating and gaining weight; to under eating and losing weight again and again. Consuming too few calories over a long period of time can be harmful to your health. Not only are you depriving your body of calories it needs to function, but you are also depriving it of essential nutrients. Physical effects of eating too few calories include dangerously low blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which can cause dizziness and fainting; thinning hair or hair loss; decreased bone density; irregular heartbeat; brittle nails; dry skin; fatigue; cessation of menstrual periods; and constipation.

When someone tells me they just want to lose weight fast, I usually tell them I can’t work with them because I will not support unsafe and unhealthy practices. I’ve learned from my own experiences over the years and I know and understand how vital it is to treat our bodies well for long term success.

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If you want to lose weight and create lasting changes (forget the yo-yo diets), it’s recommended to get the nutrition your body needs and eat the amount of calories to sustain these needs and add in an exercise program that can benefit your goals. If you would like a consultation with me or to get some basic suggestions or questions answered, please feel free to email me today at: www.Kathyprofitness@gmail.com 

Your health and long term results are worth the extra effort, don’t you agree?

 

You don’t really want change

I want to be a little blunt with you today about your goals for your life. Do you want better health results? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to achieve more success in life? Do you want to grow your business? Do you want to get out of debt? Do you want anything to improve in your life? I may hurt your feelings a little and I’m actually okay with that. If you are not okay with that, then you probably should go and find some mind numbing positive hype that doesn’t ask you to take a look at your commitment level to succeed.

Wow! Talk about a bit harsh today, right?

I am totally feeling it and honestly, if there is something that you want badly enough in life, you better keep reading and take note. This is going to help you succeed in every single area of your LIFE! We are what we do consistently. Our habits will create our results…period. End of story.

I will share my past week and weekend with you in case you need an example. As you may have read in my previous few blog posts, I am currently in the midst of a NO SUGAR challenge that is 14 days long. Not 14 days of my choosing; but 14 days consecutively no matter freaking what! 

I have committed to following this with my current clients in my challenge group. I have never been one to tell my clients what to do, while I’m sitting there doing the opposite. That’s called hypocrisy and I follow the same guidelines in my parenting skills. Whatever I ask of my kids, I am doing the same. I don’t tell them to watch less t.v. and then go sit on my ass and watch t.v. while they aren’t home. I don’t tell them to eat right and get exercise when they don’t also see me doing the same thing, day after day. I don’t preach anything that I don’t currently practice.

As far as this no sugar challenge goes, I am actively engaging in a challenge with my clients who are fighting to change their bad habits and behaviors and replace these with new and healthier steps in order to create the life and results they have set as goals for their lives. Nothing worth having comes easy. I know you’ve heard this before, but have you really heard it before?

No sugar for 14 days means nothing in my foods that is sugar or sugar alternatives. I’m even cutting my fruit portions back to 2 per day; instead of my regular 3 or 4. Now, I’ve had many people ask me quite frankly, “Kathy, why are you doing this? You already follow a healthy lifestyle plan.”

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Well, sure I do. But who are you comparing that to? The average American who doesn’t care much about doing what it takes to reach their goals? Or the most elite athletes who are working hard, day in and day out in ways that we could hardly imagine? It all depends on who I’m being compared with that is key to this question.

For sake of this topic, I will tell you that I compare myself only to my best self. If I look at someone who is doing less than I am, then I will most likely give myself a “pass” and just feel good with where I am. What does this do for me? Maybe it makes me feel good about myself in the moment but it will only ultimately keep me in the same place that I am today. So if I’m okay with this fact, then there’s no harm done, right?

What if I compare myself, instead, to someone who is doing much more than I am today? I can either use this to hurt myself or help myself. If I use this to hurt myself, I’m most likely playing comparison games and saying things to myself like, “Why can’t I do that?” “Why are they so lucky?” “If only I had the time/patience/ money/confidence/etc that they do, then I’d be able to succeed in the same way.”

Right?

Now if I’m using this to help better my own skills and goals, then I’d say something like, “wow! what is it that they are doing that I’m NOT currently doing? and how can I change that?” or “How can I learn from their success and measure what I need to do to reach new heights in those areas too?”

See, these are both comparisons but most of us choose the first option to beat ourselves up and then disregard the person of success as lucky or having capabilities beyond our measures. These are both false and if you have ever done this (much like most of the human race…lol), then you can either change it up now or continue to feel defeated and stay exactly where you are until you change it up.

While I challenge myself to new levels of success, I am comparing myself to my past or current behaviors and measuring what someone more successful is doing and make the needed adjustments to these areas. Let me go back to my NO SUGAR challenge as a prime example.

This past weekend, marked 1 week down in the challenge. I asked my challengers to write up a contract stating that they would stick to this plan and create a reward that they will earn for themselves in sticking to this goal. They also needed to write up a punishment if they went off track. Now, not everyone in the group took this seriously. I already see the results of this first step in those that have stuck to their “word” and those that went “off a little bit here and a little bit there.” The latter group aren’t as serious about their goals. But it’s an easy “fix” indeed, by simply writing it down as a contract and having someone sign it as a witness.

Although I may not need to take this challenge as seriously as someone who hasn’t been on a health and fitness journey for many years like I have, it’s important to state that we are all human beings and struggle in similar areas. I may have more experience in some areas, and therefore, be better apt at handling the challenge but nonetheless, it’s still critical for me to assess my current state and measure it against my goals at this time to see where I need to improve.

Food and sweets have always been my struggles so this challenge is always a welcome wake up call. I had a wonderful week of sticking to my goals and hadn’t experienced much struggle because I’ve done this before and my body has become accustomed to healthier eating and a way of life. Where I struggled was in my weekend.

I found that I first noticed a slight craving for something sweet on Friday night. This is typically when I’d allow myself a TREAT with the family. Now there’s nothing wrong with allowing ourselves treats, in fact, I highly encourage everyone to do this along the journey…but the issue lies when our regular treats become habits that begin to compound over time. Although I allow myself 1-2 weekly treats, they only really count when I truly enjoy them and not when they become a mindless habit. My Friday night treats had become a mindless habit. Wake up call #1.

On Saturday, the same issue occurred again and I was more focused on staying to my goals. Since I was home most of the day; busy and eating from home, I didn’t struggle much more than the fleeting craving. The big WHAM-O challenge came on Sunday.

After hot yoga...feeling blissed out!
After hot yoga…feeling blissed out!

My daughter and I took a drive to visit with my aunt in Beverly Hills and we always have a blast being pampered by our aunt. She took me to hot yoga (my daughter despises yoga so opted to sit out and watch a movie instead) and it was such a wonderful NON sugar “treat” that I enjoyed more than I could imagine if not on this challenge. We then went to Whole Foods and bought fish and produce to create a fun “at home” lunch at her condo. All in all, the afternoon was so relaxing and we ate well and visited for hours. I passed up on the bread rolls, tartar sauce for the fish (it was amazing as it was), and stevia in my tea. No biggie, I thought.

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But I knew what awaited me later.

My aunt had been bragging about this new “ice cream and yogurt” shop that opened up in her area recently. Freshly made ice creams and yogurts that were designed like a rose bouquet atop a waffle cone with the flavors of your choosing. Ya, I know that sounded like the treat of a lifetime, right?

So what’s a girl to do? I could have easily just enjoyed a scoop, a taste, or the whole store if I wanted to and not breathe a word of it to my challenge group. But ultimately, what would that say about me? How would I feel after the fact and where would my integrity be? Nonexistent for sure.

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I took the high road and announced to my aunt what I was doing in this challenge and that I would enjoy the experience of visiting the shop and watching my daughter and aunt eating their cones, and I’d have a coffee instead. Now why on earth would someone in their right mind do this, you ask? Because I can and I choose to succeed over the temporary sugar fix that can be a temptation for most all of us these days. Peer pressure, or wanting to be a part of the group is a strong pull in veering us off course from what we say we want most. I may have slipped up if I didn’t know that there were other women staying strong through their weekend challenges and that this is only a temporary challenge. I don’t promote deprivation or diets as these are never successful long term and should always be avoided.

What I had instead
What I had instead

So there you have it. I stuck to my goals and I succeeded and you know what? It kind of sucked a little in the moment but even that was fleeting because my reasons for staying strong far outweighed that initial “sweet shock” to my body and the wanting of joining in with the crowd. I felt proud of my strength and determination and understand I am in control of my habits and decisions. I could plan to return again in a month and have a scoop of every flavor that I desire because that will also be my choice.

So I ask you today, what decisions are you making daily and are they in line with your current and long term goals? Stop being driven by other people and weakness in any given moment. If there’s something you want to achieve, you can have it but it’s going to take some time and sacrifice and feeling uncomfortable in certain moments.

Grow up and get it done…if you don’t then you don’t really want it. That’s the truth. Can you handle it?

 

NO Sugar Challenge; end of week 1

I get it that the NO SUGAR challenge sounds super scary, right? I felt the same way when I took this on a year and a half ago, for the very first time. I figured it would be difficult but I had no idea my body would react the way that it did. I was feeling like a drug addict who needed the next “fix”! 🙂  All joking aside, sugar is no joke. We are bombarded with more and more sugar added to almost every food item these days and we don’t even realize what this is doing to our bodies over time.

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I thought, ‘what’s a little extra sugar every day or so’, but added up over every week, month and year…it’s scary how much extra fat that is storing up in our bodies. Think about it, we only use up a certain amount of calories and nutrients (dense or not) at a time..the rest is stored and “stored” means “FAT”. Sugar is no different. I dare you to go open your refrigerator and read some of the labels on your favorite items. I bet you that almost 80% of them contain “sugar”. Ketchup? Yep. Sauces? Yep. Everything in a box or container? Pretty much.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now, I know that most people are not willing to do this challenge. It’s uncomfortable and slightly scary but if you get to the point that you know it’s becoming a problem, then you will only be helping the quality of your future health. How about the extra weight around your tummy? Have you noticed this is almost impossible to lose? I can almost bet that the biggest culprit to this issue is sugar. Not the fat in your foods…but the sugars that are stored as fat in your body. Of course, that double double with a side of animal fries and milkshake would account for it too…

Anything that is excessive is fat. Except for veggies, I cannot fault a veggie for being a problem in our diets. But who ever had a kale and spinach obsession? 🙂

Now I promised that I’d share my foods this past week but it became a bit monotonous as I’m a creature of habit. I find that I do best when I eat similar foods throughout my week. If I have to come up with new and glamorous ideas every day, then I’d never be able to stay on track. Simplicity is what helps me most so this is what I share with you. In case you like lots of fun food ideas mixed into your week, you might want to visit some other healthy blogs or websites to get those ideas. I’ll share mine anyway if you’re interested:

Breakfast: Every day this week, I had one of two choices; first was my oats cooked in water with 1 red container Greek yogurt mixed in and 1 Tbsp all-natural peanut butter. I also had coffee with 1 Tbls half and half. No sugar added to anything and that includes stevia and xylitol this challenge. My second choice for breakfast was 1/2 cup oats blended in my VitaMix with 2 whole eggs and cooked up as a pancake. I would then top it with 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt and either some peanut butter or cut-up strawberries (although I have been saving my limited fruits for after lunch or dinner snacks).

Mid-morning snack: This stayed the same as it’s immediately following my workout. I have my Shakeology and blended it in my VitaMix blender with 1 cup water and 1 cup ice. I’m kind of obsessed with our new Cafe Latte flavor so this has been my daily flavor of choice. Before this challenge, I would always add one fruit selection to the shake but I’ll get back to that after this is complete.

Lunch: My lunches vary depending on what dinner was the previous evening. It’s either a salad topped with ground turkey, chicken or salmon OR sauteed veggies scrambled with 2 eggs and half of a blue container of shredded natural cheese. This is the time I’ll have my sliced up apple, topped with peanut butter and drink my tea with no sugar or stevia added.

Afternoon snack: My favorite snack at this time is usually my oats soaked for about 15-20 minutes in sugar free natural almond milk and mixed with greek yogurt and maybe a teaspoon of peanut butter. (I know, as I wrote my foods down, I realize I may have to do a NO PEANUT BUTTER challenge next…but why bother bringing me to my knees for no real reason?)

Dinner: Varies every day but our common choices (family favorites) are; tacos (to which I make a taco salad with no tortillas), grilled chicken anything, salmon, turkey meatballs – to name a few. I also got a bit creative this week and made a quinoa salad and enjoyed that atop a bed of greens and some olive oil. It actually is kind of fun searching out new and healthy ideas as I get stuck in my sameness for a long time…until I get so sick of something that I cannot eat it for months.

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Pretty sane, right? I thought so 😉

So in wrapping up my week 1 of the challenge so far (just 1 week to go), I’ve realized that even though I struggled with cravings and mood swings the first time I did this (a year ago), I must have not gone back to as much sweetness and fruits as I thought I did because this week was cake (wait, did I say “CAKE”? I meant it was EASY!) I seriously had ZERO cravings or mood swings this past week and the only struggle I dealt with was the weekend habits of treating myself to a “little bit of this and a little bit of that”…right? Now that I’m observing and holding myself accountable to this challenge, I’m left with the feeling of “when did I create this weekend habit?” which is something we should all be more aware of throughout our health and fitness journeys. If we never assess what’s happening in the stretches of time that connect our results, we never actually realize what it is that is sabotaging our efforts along the journey.

Bottom line, start reading your own ingredient lists and start to buy only products that contain zero added sugar. No need to go crazy and dump everything in your home but being aware and creating a new “normal” will only add to better results as you continue to move forward.

What will happen in week #2?

No sugar challenge; Day 2

I started the 14-Day No Sugar challenge yesterday and I’m already amazed at how much flavor I’m noticing in my foods today! I know that I’ve only just begun and most likely still in the “honeymoon” stage.

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(I’m almost certain that I’ll soon be dealing with “detox” and/or withdrawals – so bring them on!!)

Don’t think I’m crazy or anything but it’s become quite apparent how bad this sugar epidemic is within our societies today. We are bombarded by commercials for sugar laden cereals, sodas, processed “snacks”, diet drinks and almost every product on the market. My kids know that I would never buy chocolate cereals because it is clearly NOT healthy….and most definitely, not a “meal”. Cereals (among all other packaged products) have been limited in our home and even then, I am choosy about which items I purchase in any given time. I know that during the summer months when we go camping, my family and I are on vacation and this is the time they can have whatever cereals and snacks they like because it’s our planned treat time. Binge fest, to say the least!

I have been on my own health and wellness journey for over 15 years now and it’s still shocking to me that I can fall into the traps that society and our culture “feeds” us too…just in a “healthier” manner. For example, although I don’t eat anything with white flour or white sugars, I know that even “whole wheat” can be misleading. It’s not just about reading labels any more (I took many nutrition courses in school and learned to read before I purchased – way before it was “cool”) but more about deciphering what the foods and ingredients even mean! The food industry has learned how to trick us into thinking we are choosing a “healthier” option by labeling “multi-grain” and “wheat” but these are typically made with refined grains, so you’re not getting the full nutritional benefit of the whole grain.

What about salads? Don’t assume that you are eating “healthy” by choosing to buy a packaged salad on the go. Prepared tuna salads, chicken salads, and shrimp salads are often loaded with hidden fats and calories due to their high mayonnaise and sugar content. While a lot depends on portion size and ingredients, an over-stuffed tuna sandwich can contain as many as 700 calories and 40 grams of fat. Not so “healthy” after all, is it?

When it comes to topping your salad, you’d think that the oil based dressings would be a safe option over the creamy blends, right? Check out the ingredient list on most bottled dressings, and you’ll often see three to eight lines of extras such as added sugars, coloring agents, flavor enhancers, thickeners, and additives. Your healthiest option is to whisk together your own healthy dressing with olive oils; vinegars; avocados; citrus and other options that you have more control over.

What about a quick snack when you’re on the go or after a sweat induced workout session at the gym? Think you’re safe to choose a “protein” or “energy” bar?  Not so fast! These are simply “candy bars” in disguise, made to look healthy to the uneducated observer who is working hard to get healthy and isn’t quite up to speed on marketing tactics. Many energy bars are filled with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, and artery-clogging saturated fat. Plus, some bars (particularly meal replacement varieties) contain more than 350 calories each―a bit more than “snack size” for most people. Rethink that bar and either bring your own nuts and fruits or you can also make your own healthier energy snack. Try this recipe: Healthier Energy Snacks (although the added honey and chocolate chips wouldn’t fit into my NO SUGAR theme this challenge; it’s def better than the alternatives)

Let’s also touch on the “gluten free” obsession at this moment. Not unlike the “no carb”; “low-fat”; “high protein/high carb” and other social and media hyped culture crazes, this can become misleading to the uneducated and create hype that has no hope for long term results.  Many Americans think “gluten-free” (casually abbreviated GF) means a food is healthy.Unless you have a medical issue that requires gluten avoidance, this usually isn’t true.  In fact, manufacturers often use less nutrient-dense flours and fat to replace the gluten in carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, crackers, and snacks. So, when you opt for these GF products, you’re spending more for no additional nutrients and sometimes a less healthy product.

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Have you seen that this is now used on products that have NEVER contained gluten in the first place? This is such a lie to promote products through advertising and the new health fads but come on, gluten free ketchup? Yes, you’d be surprised what products are happily touting “gluten free” as if that magically makes it “healthy”; much like the “low fat” or “no fat” days of the 90’s.  If you want to cut down on gluten, try replacing refined carb products with foods that are naturally gluten-free such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes instead.

Look at every product you have in your home and toss out the foods that are filled with additives, preservatives, chemicals and anything you can’t pronounce. When in doubt, stick to whole foods and foods that are closest to the earth (plants and animals for example). One of my favorite sayings is, “If it came from a plant then it’s good for you but if it’s made in a plant then not so much” (maybe I ad libbed it a bit but you get the gist of it!) 😉

Obviously, there are items that would be great choices that are processed to a point. Think all natural and healthy options that are only made with healthy ingredients. I love peanut butter but I know that it doesn’t grow from the ground in the jar! 🙂 I check the ingredients and only choose the products that simply say “peanuts”. If you choose the popular brand name peanut butters, you better re-read what they have added to create that sugary substance you have come to know and love as a “healthy” option. Not so much. Check out your ingredients for ketchup, pasta sauce, yogurts, granola bars, cereals, juices, sports drinks (please…these are sugar drinks), instant oatmeal (think it’s healthy cuz it’s oats?) and the list goes on. Never assume what you are choosing is healthy because you’ve heard it was healthy…read the label and the ingredients.

What about protein powders? I am amazed at the amount of crap that is added to these powders that we tout as “healthy” and “optimal” for post-workout fuel. Read your labels!! I was under the impression for years that the “Quest” bars and products were better for us.

Until I read the ingredients. HOLY COW! I found sucralose and immediately stopped purchasing this “crack” substance that my kids had been craving. They know now that I will only purchase the products that I know and trust have nothing cheap added in to fill in. I’m going to blow your mind a bit more on this topic of protein powders and what most companies add in order to make it “cheaper” than another product (you get what you freaking pay for!) – in the coming few weeks but let’s start with aspartame and sucralose (common diet product sweeteners):

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Aspartame and Sucralose – Sucralose is sometimes sold under the name of Splenda, and both are sweeteners that contain no calories (that could be a potential reason for the inclusion – adding taste without changing the calorie composition for concerned macro trackers) and are sweeter than sugar. A recent study found a link between sucralose and leukemia in mice, and prompted the center to change its safety rating of sucralose from “Safe” to “Avoid.” Regarding Aspartame, a study published in 2007 found that long-term exposure to low doses of aspartame increased cancer in rats. If that doesn’t make you cringe, then I’m not sure we have common goals. 😉

 

NOW WHAT?

Think you are left with the option of eating NOTHING or just ignoring these facts? Not so fast! Education is power so get out and educate yourself on the foods you are eating and why you are drawn to these foods. When cravings emerge, that is not a true signal for hunger and should be treated much like a drug addiction. Start with the NO SUGAR Challenge and then work your way towards feeding your body (and your family) the best nature has to offer. I know we live in a processed based culture but you can find healthy options that won’t harm your long term health efforts and stop creating the diet craze that is only lining the diet industry’s pockets over time and stripping our health and wellness in the long run.

So here’s a list of all of my foods for day #1:

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Breakfast:

1/2 cup whole grain oats cooked in water, 1 red container Fage Greek 2% yogurt and 1 Tbls. all natural peanut butter.

Coffee with 1 Tbsp 1/2 & 1/2

Snack:

Shakeology made with 1 cup water and 1 cup ice

Lunch:

Green onions, bellpeppers and zucchini sauteed in 1 tsp olive oil and scrambled with 2 eggs. Topped with 1 tomato and all natural salsa.

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Pink-Lady apple, diced up and topped with 1 Tbls peanut butter (one addiction at a time! lol)

What I noticed: at 3pm, I started to crave sugary snacks…anything will do in this time for me such as, fruits and healthy sweeteners but it’s still a craving, nonetheless. I dealt with it with some water and focus on my goals for this challenge. It subsided within 20 minutes

Snack:

2 hard-boiled eggs, cheese and tomatoes (strange combo but it helped me feed my body and move on)

Dinner:

Quinoa salad: I made my own by cooking quinoa and adding cilantro, black beans (no added anything), green onions, sliced up “garden grown” tomatoes, olive oil, lime, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.

I ate this atop a bed of field greens and sprinkled a little olive oil over the top. (my dressings although “healthier” than most were filled with some ingredients that I didn’t understand so I opted not to use them)

Snack:

time of the day that I enjoy a “sweet” treat:

I chose to have one more apple (total of 2 fruits today which is a big improvement for me) with another Tbls of PB (I know, this will be my next challenge!) ; Greek yogurt mixed with oats (no added stevia today).

I noticed my yogurt snack was so much more flavorful tonight. I realized I usually just taste the “sweetness” of the stevia but today there was the creamy sourness of the natural yogurt with the texture of the oats. 

Onto day #2!!!

Want more info? Sign up here:  14 DAY NO SUGAR CHALLENGE

 

 

Join the 14-Day No Sugar Challenge

If you are taking on the 14-Day NO Sugar Challenge,  you’ve come to the right place! I’ve been getting so many messages from people asking me, “what does no sugar mean?”

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For 14 days, we are going to start noticing just how much our bodies have become accustomed to extra sugars and extra sweetness. After doing the Whole 30 Challenge a few years ago, I learned quite honestly how addicted to sugar I was. It wasn’t just “sugar” as you would think, since I already follow a whole foods diet and eat “clean” 80-90% of the time. I am not concerned with my weight or good eating habits but instead, just focusing on what it was my body and taste buds have become accustomed to and what that would do to my body if I continued to delude myself that I was doing a good enough thing. I was simply comparing my habits to the habits of the general population; who eat mostly processed and fast foods more often than naught. What I wasn’t considering was the fact that I still had a problem and needed to deal with it sooner, than later.

If you are concerned for your own sugar addictions or health issues that may come from overly stimulation to sweetness; let’s start by addressing some basic health concerns that are caused by too much sugar in the diet.

High blood sugar, which is caused by too much glucose in your blood, can lead to diabetes. Refined carbs, like white rice or white-flour baked goods, are common culprits that lead to high blood sugar. In addition to the high sugar content, they lack fiber which prevents glucose spikes, and this wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels. Simply put, when there is too much sugar in the blood stream at one time, it will lead to fat storage and insulin resistance. This is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. It’s no surprise then that this health risk is a rising concern in the medical industry as more and more people are being diagnosed with diabetes.

What I had noticed in my own sugar challenge and assessment, was that I frequently turned to more “natural” sugars to feed my palate and cravings. Although I’m not one to pick up a doughnut or sugar laced coffee drink; I found myself turning to fruits and healthier sugar options such as stevia and honey. When taken in moderate doses, it wouldn’t be a concern but the fact that I was using these options after my meals was a red-light trigger for me to assess. Fructose is found in fruits, and while I could justify my “better” choices over more popular options, too much fructose also plays a role in these issues and diseases. Our liver turns any excessive sugars into triglycerides that get stored in the fat cells throughout our bodies. The more sugars we eat (in any form), the more fat we store. Yuck! Another surprising result is that too much sugar, even from the fructose found in fruits, can lead to a buildup of belly fat that has been linked to type 2 diabetes.

Do I have your attention now?

In my research, I also noticed the amount of stevia and honey I was “needing” in my foods was more than I had realized until I began tracking.  I would sprinkle a packet of stevia or a teaspoon of honey into my teas, I’d pour some over my yogurt with berries, I’d put it on just about anything and still feel like I was “in control” of my habits as it was considered “clean”. But I started to count up how many times I’d add these extra sweeteners (even though natural and clean) into my foods and drinks and it become apparent that I was addicted to overly sweet flavors and tastes – just as most of the population is these days. I was just getting it in a way that I could validate as “healthier”; it may be healthier than white sugars and simple carbs but it still falls into the category of “too many sugars”.

Sugar comes in a few different forms: Glucose, fructose and sucrose. Glucose helps keep all of our systems chugging along smoothly.  Carbs break down into glucose and is our body’s main source of fuel.  The fructose that is found in fruits (and the only type of sugar found in fruits) is metabolized in the liver, and not in the bloods stream. Table sugars, or sucrose, is a combination of both glucose and fructose.

So for just 2 weeks, or 14 days, I challenge you to join me in this challenge. We are going to start noticing just where that added sugar comes from, and kick it out of our lives. We will start with the obvious culprits such as; sodas, candies, pastries and desserts (come on, isn’t your health and belly fat important enough to do this for just 14 days??) – and start to check the food labels to see where the rest of our sugars is coming from.

I will start by saying that the “challenge” part of this IS going to be a definite challenge because you will soon realize that there is sugar in almost EVERYTHING!!!

So, I want to ask you first, have you ever realized this before? If not, this has probably already taught you more than you imagined, right?

 

Knowledge is POWER!!!

Did you know that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of sugar per day for men, and no more than 24 grams per day for women? That is the equivalent of just 9 tsp of sugar and 6 tsp of sugar. If we just ate foods that contained sugar naturally (for example milk has lactose, which is a natural milk sugar, fruit has fructose, a natural fruit sugar) we would reach that cap naturally through the course of the day.

The problem isn’t those foods at all, it’s all the foods that aren’t in their natural form that have had sugar added to them “to make them taste good.” You can solve this by getting in the habit of reading the ingredients list, and checking the food label for grams of sugar.

This can be tricky if you’ve never tried it before – but here’s why you should: many common products you wouldn’t expect have sugar added in various forms. Foods like bread, condiments, pasta sauce, flavored non-dairy milk, creamer, most cereals and salad dressing often have added sugar. What can you do? Look for the ones that don’t, try something else, or make your own.

If you’re worried about what to put in your coffee..try plain, full-fat coconut milk. It’s a delicious alternative to creamer and sugar and has its own natural sugar. If you read the label on the can, the only ingredient listed will be “coconut.” You can also add spices like nutmeg and cinnamon to your coffee for a little natural flavoring without the sugar. And if you’re thinking maybe Equal or Sweet n Low would be a better choice in your coffee than than a couple spoonfuls of sugar, keep reading….

Alternative sugar products can make you think they’re the smart choice – but alternative sweeteners have the same potential to trigger an insulin response by tricking your brain and body into thinking its having the real thing. Not to mention, many alternative sugars have been linked to negative health conditions.

Be on the lookout for: dextrose, maltodextrin, sucrose, fructose, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, acesulfame potassium (sold as Sweet One – often combined with aspartame or sucralose to sweeten gum, diet soda and other sweet products), aspartame (Nutri-sweet and equal), saccharin (sold as Sweet n’ Low), stevia (combined with sugar alcohol and sold under brand names like Truvia and Pure Via), high fructose corn syrup (made by treating starch extracted from corn with enzymes to make fructose and glucose) – and if there’s anything on a food label that you think might be sugar, google it.

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Let me be clear. There is NOTHING wrong with sweets and treats in moderation, and many of the above sugars aren’t bad sugars. The purpose of this challenge is not to demonize our dessert, it’s to cut back our consumption of the foods that have sneaky sugar added to them. That sneaky sugar is a serious culprit in weight gain, chronic inflammation and worst of all, long term health issues.

Why should we avoid added sugar?

The problem with added sugar is that it creates situation overload in your system very rapidly. There is a delicate internal equilibrium regulated by your hormones that keeps you energized and tells your body what to do with the nutrients you take in. Food is measured by a scale called the “glycemic index,” which measures how rapidly that food causes your blood sugar to rise. The higher the glycemic index (GI), the faster your blood sugar spikes when you eat that food.

We don’t want our blood sugar spiking, because it causes the hormone insulin to come into play. Insulin, and important hormone that will stabilize your blood sugar also triggers fat storage. Once it does its job, you’ll feel lethargic, sleepy – and crave MORE sugar because you’ll suddenly be feeling low energy. Crazy, right?

It really helps explain why people get into that constant sugar craving cycle, and why it’s so easy to keep gaining weight once you start. Keep that 26 grams per day recommendation in mind and check the food labels on a typical breakfast  – between a bowl of breakfast cereal,  a cup of vanilla soymilk and a banana, you could already be over 26 grams, and your day hasn’t even started yet!

So what kind of sweetness can I have? 

RULES:

1. You may NOT eat anything with ADDED sugar in it, this includes, breads, milks, sauces, ANYTHING that has added sugar. (for those using Shakeology, you can continue with this once per day only.)

2. You may eat general food that have a small amount of natural sugar already in it.

3. Natural Sugar – You may eat ONE piece of fruit a day.

4. Sugar substitutes – No Sugar substitutes through the challenge.

5. No Alcohol during the challenge.

**If in doubt general rule, if it has ADDED sugar of any sort its a NO

Our goal is to obviously adopt this habit lifelong. Through our own habits, we will help the people in our lives start to realize how much sugar is in everything that they generally eat. We will learn that cutting it out and taking control of our choices can start to bring the results that we want and get rid of the extras that we don’t want or need! (think belly fat, bad habits, addictions to foods, cravings, and long term health issues)

 

The goal of this challenge

The goal of this challenge is to decrease our consumption of added sugarBecause sneaky, added sugar is the cause of so much weight gain, inflammation and health problems, it’s worth finding out which foods you’re eating regularly contain it. There are so many alternatives that taste better, and are infinitely better for your body that won’t cause the long-term negative effects.

Read your food labels, ask questions, and do your best. It can really help to have your food planned for the day, and bring it with you so you aren’t tempted by things around you because you’re hungry. If you are taking the challenge, here is a contract to keep you honest and on track.

https://form.jotform.com/jsform/61705826606155