Abs to be proud of after age 40

Think you can’t have abs after your 20’s or 30’s? Well I love a good challenge so I was up to it as I turned 40…and in turn, signed up to take on the stage for my very first fitness competition!

Yep.

As a mom of 3 and a 40 year old, I committed to donning a two piece and walking on stage amongst other fit women; who, quite honestly, were in their 20’s and 30’s.

Proud day after 6 months of hard work and eating to prove it!

You could say I was nuts…and probably still am because I don’t regret it. Yes, I got flack for being an “egotist” and embarrassing my family but they were all supportive – especially my dear hubby! He was darn right proud!

Why? Because let me tell you what you are seeing when you look at someone with toned abs and a tight physique. You may be thinking they are naturally leaner, fitter and just more lucky…but you’d be wrong.

It takes hard FREAKING work! Every day.

I haven’t done another fitness competition since and it’s now been 5 years. It’s not that I didn’t want to continue; heck, I placed 2nd in my division and 3rd overall (which included those 20 and 30 year olds, thank you very much!) and qualified for Nationals that same year.

The reason I didn’t compete again is because it’s a full time job.

You need to train like a “mother” (and I don’t mean someone who’s had children) and you have to eat like an athlete. The time and energy it takes to cook, workout, rest, recover and continue is time consuming and I’d rather spend that time with my family while they still need me. 🙂

But I did learn quite a many lessons from those intense 6-months of training and counting every macro and morsel that I ate. In case you think you can’t have abs – most likely because of what you’ve been taught over the years and what other people have said – I’m hear to debunk every one of those crazy negative issues and tell you that it’s most likely because you’re not informed well-enough.

Intrigued? Follow along…

My abs today. 45 is no excuse!

1. Squeeze in “sneaky” cardio. You’ve heard the saying that in order to lose weight, you’ve got to ‘move more and eat less’, right? Well the moving more part can help trim those abs, buns and everything else across your body but if you’re like me, it needs to not feel like cardio. I can easily fit in a 5 minute jump rope session in between a busy day’s schedule or add some sprints or burpees in between my weight lifting routine to up the calorie burn and get it done in increments. If you detest long cardio sessions like I do, then fitting in these sneaky cardio burns can make all the difference in showing off those abs come summer season!

2. Combine core work and cardio. As I said before, I love fitting in small increments of cardio in between my weight lifting sessions. In order to get into the shape I needed to for my competition, I committed to circuit training on most days. This meant that while I’d perform my typical chest, back, leg, etc, days; I’d follow up a set of weight work with 30-60 seconds of jump squats, mountain climbers or jump rope which allowed me to get the most out of my workout sessions. Bonus? While these aren’t technically “ab crunches”, they do indeed involve core activation and help to carve out those abs!

3. Start with planks & not crunches. It’s not that I don’t like doing crunches – because I do – I prefer engaging my core entirely and “feeling the burn” is a great indication that work has been done! Did you know that your booty is actually part of your core? True story. But doing crunches doesn’t activate the glutes like planks do and most people usually resort to momentum while doing crunches and feel it in their neck. Not really the goal, am I right? It’s important to strengthen the entire core – imagine you have a wide girdle that covers the areas below your chest and stops just under your booty (this is your core) – before you progress to moves like crunches so you can master the moves instead of just the stuff on top. 😉 Along with planks, I’d suggest also beginning by lying on your back and raising your feet up and knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your hands on your quads (front part of your thighs) and push them away from your body as you engage your core to keep the knees over your hips. (you’ll feel these if done right)

4. Work your abs every day — but not in the same way daily. Your core muscles recover quite quickly so you can actually work them more often than other parts of your body without over-training. The secret however, is to change it up. For example, if you do planks on Monday, try doing C-curves (a Pilates type exercise) on Tuesday. How? Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Prop your upper body onto your forearms. Then, without changing the angle your upper and lower body have to the floor, place one hand at a time behind each thigh. Hold as long as you can, just as you would in plank.

5. Eat for awesome abs. Here’s where most of us get lost. We think that by workout out with enough cardio and performing our ab routines daily, we can get away with eating our favorite foods and just “eating better”. What the heck does this mean, anyway? LOL I’m guilty of saying this before too so I’m not calling you out in any way. I found that just by honing in on a few key areas, I was able to lean out sooner and much easier than when I ate “clean” and counted calories. Want to know how? Start with getting in a protein drink no later than 30 minutes after your workout since the quickest way to recover the tears in your muscles after you workout is to get protein into your body quickly. I use either a clean whey protein (no sucralose or unhealthy ingredients added) or Shakeology for my fuller-packed nutritional punch. Follow that up by drinking at least 4 liters to a gallon of water each day and eating whole grain carbs and healthy fats. If you need some help with foods, check out my healthy food list to plan out your meals for the week or month.

BONUS!! I’m super excited to bring my all-new FITNESS MEMBERSHIP SITE to you!! It’s been something I’ve dreamed of launching for almost a year now and I’m set to open this coming June! If you’d like priority information, please shoot me an email and title it “MEMBERS ONLY” and I’ll get you all the info as it rolls out! LIVE workouts, meal plans, personal help and more! Community like no other with support, accountability and TONS of content! 

Working out and Still Not Losing Weight?

Are you watching what you eat, exercising often and still feeling like you’re not losing that stubborn weight? The truth is that watching what you eat and exercising often (or even a LOT) is not specific enough and may be a bit “safe” as we can’t really measure these areas.  If we are honest with ourselves, there’s a very good chance that we are totally capable of trying a little bit harder in both of these areas.

Total-body wellness is a lifestyle. Fat loss happens when you ditch the scale, find an activity you enjoy, and start to see food as fuel instead of something to feed your emotions or occupy your time.

No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, chances are that you are struggling because of one of these 7 reasons….

1. You’re eating the wrong foods

A calorie is just a calorie? While this statement seems logical enough, our bodies respond to the nutrients it needs to burn fat and achieve the goals we are working towards. If you aren’t losing weight, you should begin by looking at your foods. I know many people focus on burning off the calories in their workouts and they don’t take the time to plan out what they are putting into their bodies as fuel. Diet is responsible for 80% of our results. I’m not a fan of manuscripted “diets”, either but a good rule of thumb is to choose natural, clean foods most of the time.

Eat most of your starchy carbs (like potatoes, brown rices and grains) on the days when you do your strength training or more intense workouts. On your rest days or lighter cardio days, try sticking to more protein and veggies and limit your starchy foods. Cut out your excess breads, white sugars and anything that’s processed. Look for the foods that have the fewest ingredients on their labels (aka: less processed). If you can’t pronounce something on the label, it’s probably not something your body needs so put it back on the shelf.

2. You’re eating too much

If you’ve already cleaned up your diet big time and you’re still not losing weight, it may be that you’re simply eating too many calories. You know the saying, “Eat less and move more”?  In order to lose the weight, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit, meaning you need to burn more than you consume. That being said, you shouldn’t have to deprive yourself either. Life is about balance. Don’t become obsessed with counting calories or weighing yourself every day.

Eat when you’re hungry and eat slowly enough so you can stop just before you get full. Healthy snacking during the day will keep you from overeating during meals. I always carry a healthy snack in my purse, because you never know when you’ll need a quick snack and it eliminates any quick and unhealthy food purchases in my day. Also, don’t be afraid to give yourself healthy ‘cheats’ like a few chocolate covered strawberries for example. The moment you start depriving yourself from foods you love to crave is the moment you start to feel like you are missing out on something and want to binge.

3. You’re doing too much cardio

If I had a dollar for everyone who has told me they do tons of cardio and still don’t lose weight….(I’d have a LOT of dollars! lol) Yes, cardio is a necessary part of your workout routine. It keeps your heart healthy, boosts your metabolism, and gives you a good sweat (you should break one daily). The problem is, that only doing cardio (and doing too much of it thinking it’s ‘better’) can actually add to our problem. Longer cardio workout sessions, like staying on the treadmill or elliptical for 90 minutes, or going for regular 10-mile runs can eat away at your lean muscle mass, which is necessary in increasing the metabolism to burn more calories.

It causes the body to become more endurance-focused, storing energy as fat to ensure it has plenty of reserve fuel to keep you going for all those miles. Not to mention it dramatically increases your appetite, making you more susceptible to unnecessary snacking or overeating.

4. You’re not lifting weights

This one goes hand in hand with #3. I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t do cardio. If you love to run or bike for reasons other than losing weight, then by all means don’t stop. But if your primary goal is to lose fat,  there are other forms of exercise that give a much better result for your burn. The best way to lose weight and build a toned and tight body is by doing some form of strength training, in addition to your cardio. When your body has more muscle tone then you’ll be burning more fat.

You might not be ready to give up your cardio just yet, so you can start by adding in some interval training. This means you’ll be doing short bursts of maxed out intensities into your regular sessions. This is a much more effective way of waking up the hormones that are needed to target the stubborn fat stores. Then, add in some resistance training to your routine. If you’re worried about lifting weights, you can always choose body weight exercises instead. Try a round of push-ups, squats and lunges and you’ll get great results without an actual weight just yet. 🙂

5. You’re not working hard enough

There’s no exact equation to working out and eating healthy—it’s a matter of trial and error, finding out what works specifically for your body. Just because you spend more time in the gym, doesn’t mean you’ll become a fitter person. Unless you are an athlete, body builder or marathoner in training, the average Joe shouldn’t be working out more than one hour  a day.

If you are spending more than an hour in your workouts, I bet you aren’t working hard enough. The workouts should be based on the intensity; versus the time. Remember this simple fact; the harder you work, the shorter your workout time may need to be. That’s why is super important to make the most of your time in the gym or fitness classes so you can achieve that “afterburn” effect which keeps your metabolism fired up for 24-48 hours after. Pretty cool, right?

6. You’re not taking time to recover

Let’s say you do achieve that afterburn feeling and you’re feeling your workout the next day, those are the days to focus on different muscles. If you prefer to work the whole body at once, then plan a workout routine that works your entire body on oneday and then take the next day to do light cardio, a yoga class or just rest and focus on nutrition.

Recovery and rest may actually be more important than the workouts themselves. It’s during those periods that your body does most of the actual fat burning. So give yourself that time to fully recover so you’re ready to work hard the following day. Most importantly, listen to your body. Push yourself, but also give it some love, too.

7. Your body is too stressed out

Exercise is actually a stress to our body. When you have a healthy balance of exercise “stress” and proper recovery time, your body will be healthy and able to lose the excess fat. But if you’re not giving your body the right amount of time to recover, it can be a negative thing since you’ll start to produce extra amounts of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Cortisol is normal and important when we are working out, since it’s involved in giving our muscles the energy it needs to move.

The problem, however, is when our body is exposed to cortisol for long periods of time and starts to cause negative effects. One of these effects are the stubborn fat stores in areas you don’t want it. Exercise is no the only thing that stressed our bodies out and creates extra cortisol.  The problem multiplies when we are stressed out about personal or professional areas of our life. Obviously, when you stop exercising then you stop producing cortisol; but it’s not so easy to just turn off mental stress that may be wreaking havoc in your life. Make sure you are taking the time and energy to keep your mental and emotional healthy in check too. You should be working towards a total-body wellness goal…not just a simple “weight loss” goal.

Need extra help this season?

Join my 6-Week Fat Blasting Program!

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A proven 6-week program that will help you shed fat, lose unwanted weight, tone up and gain energy on your turf!

Private Facebook community + online training with me + nutrition help = RESULTS!
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You’ve got your game plan. Now let’s join the game!

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Week 1 Wrap-Up

I made it through week 1 with limited struggles and hunger cravings!

I’m actually a little surprised because I usually struggle mentally in my first week of a new plan only because my calories are being cut back a little.

But that all stems from diets and feeling deprived of what I love to eat. In the past week, I’ve counted every food and macronutrient that I ingested. Even those “small tiny bites” that most of us usually discount as “too small to count”…unh uh. It’s all getting counted and I’m sharing it all with you, me dear reader. Aren’t you feeling fab? 😉

So let me start with each day’s workouts and calorie breakdowns (I am set at 1800 calories a day):

Monday, Day 1: 1684 – Total Body Synergistics 30 minute workout

Tuesday, Day 2: 1842 – Body Barre class (which I lead) and 30 minute upper body workout 

Wednesday, Day 3: 1699 – Yoga and Pilates 

Thursday, Day 4: 2176 – Body Pump and Pilates classes (which I lead) and 30 minute workout

Friday, Day 5: 1749 – 30 minute circuit training workout 

Saturday, Day 6: 2616 – Cycle and Body Pump classes (which I lead) and 30 minute body weight training 

You could see that my calories fluctuated up and down depending on the activity I did that specific day. It helped me to listen to my body’s hunger cues and eat as needed. I’m tracking my protein, carbs and fats so I know how to break them down each day to give the best results. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s basically called “macro counting”. My daily goal is to get in 40% of my calories from carbs and 30% from fats and proteins. This allows me to get the best quality nutrition and best results as I progress through the coming 3 months.

A calorie is not just a calorie. Our body uses the nutrients we eat and if it’s empty calories (aka: sugar and processed adds) or too many of one nutrient; our bodies are forced to store the extra calories to fat storages if they can’t be used efficiently at that specific time. That’s why it’s so important to find out how many calories our body’s require (and it’s going to change along the way), how we should break down our meals (in terms of macronutrients and timing of meals) and what to do when we get hungry or start to crave the foods that our body’s are used to eating.

I’ll talk more about how I handle these areas along the way as they come into play. What I’d like to leave you with today is that when we follow what our body’s need to survive and thrive and change the habits that are pulling us into the land of unhealthy and illnesses; we have no options but to succeed. The scale is one small area to show changes but it’s definitely the least accurate along the way as it can only show a number and not what that number means in a specific time period.

If you want to learn more about the scale and how it can hinder us if we give it too much credit, please check out this post from last year: How to understand the scale 

 

Results in the first week on the scale.
Results in the first week on the scale.
Getting my 30 minute workouts done at home.
Getting my 30 minute workouts done at home.
Ready for my Super Burpee!
Ready for my Super Burpee!

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Made sure my nutrition was met with daily Shakeology!
  Made sure my nutrition was met with daily Shakeology!
My favorite breakfast choice!
  My favorite breakfast choice!                            

 

Day 3: Cravings can kiss my booty!

I’m seriously stubborn and competitive by nature. I don’t like being told what to do and I don’t like feeling like I’m letting myself down from being and doing my best. (and better than everybody else…just being honest!)

Crazy? Maybe…but I figure if we focus on our strengths and weaknesses and work on creating new strengths out of our weaknesses; the sky is the limit on what we can achieve.

What the heck is Kathy talking about? 😀 LOL

Let me explain how this relates to my cravings blog. I’m on day #3 of my 90 day program. I need to be this accountable to you so that I stay on track (remember the competitive nature? well I also don’t like looking like a failure or a liar..yes, I have issues!). My competitive nature makes it easy for me to stick to and push forward in my fitness plans. Although there are days that I don’t want to work out or workouts that I don’t want to do; I won’t be satisfied unless I just do it.

Take yesterday for instance; it was agility training day. That means lots of cardio stuff. I hate cardio. It is awful and evil and makes me want to cry.

But I do it anyway because I need to beat my inner negative voice. I need to persevere when my mind is telling me not to. I’m sharing this with you in case you wonder how I love fitness so much. I just love weights. Heavy lifting is my BFF and now that I’m better at stretching; so is yoga. Yoga used to be my nemesis though too because it made me cry and hurt and keep looking at the clock hoping the practice was done. But I kept at it and it’s not as hard and I found that I actually do better with everything else when I continue to do yoga.

So, moral of that last paragraph is to do yoga. Or stretch. Don’t neglect this or you will be sorry one day.

Anyway, my challenge for the next 3 months isn’t going to be sticking to my workouts…it’s going to be sticking to my meal plans and calorie range and macros. We are not BFFs but I know we will soon be.

You see, I relate following meal plans with diets 

BWAHHHHHAAAAHHHAAAA

And diets are bad words and bad, evil practices. They rob us of happy stuff and results and basically; success. So I fight the battle against diets because it ruined my younger years and made me a hostage of feeling bad about myself. Although I now understand that following a meal plan is healthy; heck, I get 1800 calories a day right now and that’s no joke….but it still reminds me of feeling deprived of more. 

More food, Kathy? Why thank you! I don’t mind if I do! I love eating!

I digress, back to my point…since food plans usually challenge me more than anything else in the whole entire world; I decided to share with you, my dear reader friend, the good the bad and the ridiculously ugly stuff to help keep me accountable.

So far, so good. But that’s not going to last forever once my body decides that it wants something off my healthy food plan. I know that one day soon (and it can happen in the blink of an eye), I’ll be sitting there all happy and feeling all badass about myself sticking to my plan…

and then BLAM!

“Let’s go have some chocolate stuff, Kathy” (says my mind) but I counter with my strong self and say, “but that’s not on plan let’s eat brussel sprouts instead”…

And off point again but I have been treating myself with brussel sprouts to get my mind off food with a filled tummy and low calories…

Back to point:

My mind will allow me to eat the veggies and act like it allowed me to “win” this time but then it will hit me up again at a low point or a stressful time or a busier period and say, “Pssst! Kathy! You’ve been doing so good so far…you totally deserve that carb, sugar and greasy loaded truckload of food you’ve been missing”…

And if I don’t share this with you, I will look like a lying ass liar.

I’m not a lying ass liar and I’m not weak and I’m going to kick butt…

Just wait and see!

(my competitive streak there…)

So here are my foods from today. I’m kind of stupidly proud so far cuz on day 1, I ate about 150 calories below my goal range (which isn’t good but makes me feel stronger than going that much over!) and then on day 2, I was just 42 calories over (which basically means nothing after day 1) and today here are my macros so far…before dinner and my evening snack. (I NEED a snack!) I’m kind of proud…what do you think?

Ridiculously proud of this pie chart that I'm sharing with you today!
Ridiculously proud of this pie chart that I’m sharing with you today!

 

And today was not agility training so I was happy…it was blissful yoga day. Here is how happy I feel after yoga day…and no cardio day! 🙂

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and yes, I drank my shake before making dinner so I didn’t take “B.L.T’s” or “bites licks and tastes as I cooked! 😀

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Day 1: We need to start somewhere

I begin at day #1…

We all get excited on “day 1” of something new, don’t we? Think about New Year’s day and the millions of promises that are made in the excitement of a new year and a new opportunity to reach goals that we’ve only hoped for in the past. The success, however, does not come from our giddy energy on day 1…but the true and unending desire to push for new heights in our quest for these said goals.

I’ve worked with hundreds of one-on-one clients and I’ve lead thousands of classes over the past 20+ years in the fitness field. I’ve believed that through my sheer excitement and leadership, I could inspire anyone to follow through in their promises and quest to reach health and fitness goals that had seemed nearly impossible.

But it doesn’t work that way.

Not to say that I haven’t helped many people transform their bodies, minds and lives in ways that they had only dreamed about; but what what happens when the trainer stops working with you? What happens if you move away from your favorite gym or bootcamp instructor and you are left to find something else that works for you? What if you are the one and only person who is responsible for your success – or lack of it?

Guess what, guys? Whether you know it now or not…you are the only person who is 100% responsible for your life. So what to do now? What workout should you do? How many calories should you eat each day? What types of foods are the best for you? Who is going to cheer you on when you are struggling? How will you know when you are making progress in your goals? How will you keep going when you just don’t believe you have what it takes…or you stumble along the way?

While these are all good questions (and ones I hear every day), let me start by saying we need to get clear on what our goals are. We need to have a plan B when we get thrown off our path. We need to know we aren’t the only person in the world to feel like we do.

That’s what this transformation is about. The next 90 days are meant to show you what it looks like to fight for what we want most. The next 3 months are going to be a bit uncomfortable for me (and most likely downright ugly at times!) but I’m willing to put myself out on a limb and share with you, me dear reader, like a reality tv show (but without the drama and screaming matches).

I start today. This is my day 1…

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Day 1 begins with stats. This is not any different than if we were working together as trainer-client. I’d measure you and have you take your “before pictures” so that we have a baseline to compare as we move forward. Above, are my day 1 pictures and while I don’t have much weight to lose (I just have some “softer” parts of me to tone up), I have goals to add more lean muscle and look like a shredded fitness model in 90 days. Think I can? So do I! 😉 No matter the goals, the struggles are pretty common and typical whenever starting something new (or restarting again).

Here’s how I measure my stats:

Body weight: 150.1

Chest: 36.5

Waist: 28.5 & 30.75

Hips: 38.5

Right thigh: 19.5 / Left Thigh: 19.5

Right arm: 10 / Left arm: 10.5

What about my meals? I calculate my daily needs on my new fitness program and will be eating 1,800 calories a day. I also like to focus on quality nutrition and breaking down my macronutrients to fit my body’s needs to feel my best and reach my set goals. I’ve set a 40/30/30 split and will be getting in 40% of my daily calories from carbohydrates; 40% from healthy fats and 30% from lean protein sources.

I will be sharing my foods too so don’t think this will be a secret 🙂

So far today:

Breakfast:

Coffee with 3 Tbls half and half (don’t take away my cream!)

2 whole eggs + 1 egg white

Post workout snack:

Cafe Latte Shakeology made with 1 cup almond milk and 1 cup ice

Pink lady apple sprinkled with cinnamon

Lunch:

1 cup oven roasted brussel sprouts (my son and I are obsessed!)

1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese mixed with 1/2 cup whole grain cereal

I’ve had 3 water bottles of water and my goal is to drink 6 each day (which totals a gallon of water)

I worked out to my total body core conditioning and some practiced some power yoga to get an extra stretch.

I’ll be planning to drink water, herbal tea and maybe some lowfat hot chocolate (to curb my hunger and cravings today). I’m making a turkey based dinner with salad and enjoy some Greek yogurt with berries for another snack today.

I feel good so far but please follow me on IG @KathyProFitness and Snapchat @spazzykay to get all the daily ups and downs along with the daily blog posts.

If you are interested in starting NOW and need a place to begin, I’m hosting a 28-Day workout + meal plan challenge and looking for 10 serious people to join our team! This program will challenge you with strength and conditioning training and I’m going to reward those who commit and reach new goals with a gift basket of fitness goodies plus a FREE month of one-on-one training with me before summer season.

Are you IN? Then fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch asap!

How to stop struggling and eat healthy already!

Eating healthy can feel overwhelming and complicated and challenging. I found an article on the Team Beachbody Blog that pinpoints the 7 most common struggles when it comes to eating healthier and I wanted to share with you today. Hope it helps!

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We are inundated with options on how to eat; low carb, organic, whole grains, Paleo, vegan, keto, body type…and so many more it can make you give up before you begin. Which is the best option and why are there so many? You’re only interested in what works and you want results sooner than later, right?

Let’s first understand that it isn’t going to be a “quick fix” or temporary change; it’s going to take some effort but once you get over some of the struggles and create your own balance…you’ll be surprised at how much easier it becomes!

Let’s start from the beginning and keep it simple, ok? First of all, we are going to visit the 7 most common issues when it comes to healthy eating and how you can make it simpler to start now.

Issue #1: How do I eat healthy anyway?? 

I know it can seem overwhelming to start the healthy eating lifestyle if it’s something you’ve never done before. Which foods are healthy? How do you cook these foods?

First of all, take a deep breath and relax. You are definitely not alone in this area. When you start eating healthy, it’s normal to feel a bit unsure about some of the food choices and how they will taste. Will you like them? Will it be difficult to do? Where do you get the best products and how do you eat healthy when you’re eating out? It’s about starting slowly and taking it one step at a time. This is always the best practice to long term habits; as you have time to learn as you go and lessen the feelings that can overwhelm us when we are in a rush to do it all at once.

Start with a basic list of foods you can stock up on. (For my FREE 7 day Slim-Down grocery list and meal plan, click HERE) Then, each week, just add one new item or try one or two new healthy recipes until you start to find your groove. You’ll notice that you gravitate towards certain choices and once you eliminate (or cut back) on processed foods and sugary foods, your taste buds will be more interested in the natural flavors that healthy foods provide. I like to watch the cooking channel to gain some new ideas and browse through Pinterest or google for new recipes. The secret is to never get bored with your food selections so you don’t start to crave the unhealthy foods that you used to turn to.

Issue #2: But healthy eating costs so much more!! 

I know you’ve probably heard it before, or even said it yourself, “Fresh fruits and veggies spoil so quickly. Buying organic foods costs so much more. It’s just so expensive!”

Right? If you can’t afford to buy all organic foods, that’s totally fine! Be picky about the ones you spend more on.  Check out the clean/dirty produce list to help guide you to the best options. If you can’t afford to buy organic at all, choose the produce from the clean list instead.

Buying produce in-season can always help save money; and it tastes so much better too! Frozen fruits and veggies can also be easier on your budget and are just as healthy fresh choices (they are flash frozen at their peak of ripeness). Instead of using crushed ice cubes in your Shakeology or smoothies, use the frozen fruits instead. If you are tired of dealing with wilting raw spinach or kale leaves; add them to soups or use frozen spinach or chopped frozen kale instead.

I have a client who lives in Alaska and struggles getting in enough fruits and veggies because they have to wait for shipments to come to their area and purchase the foods before they are all gone from other shoppers! Talk about real struggles! But she gets it done with the frozen options and on a really bad period of low or no veggies/fruits, as long as she gets her Shakeology in – she is certain she is feeding her body the right nutrients to stay balanced. When there is a will, there is always a way! 😉

Issue #3: I hate grocery shopping! 

I totally understand this issue but have since come to terms with it as I’m a crazy coupon lady now! 😉 But for those of you who really do hate shopping, you have many options now! There’s online help to the rescue. Grocery stores deliver more frequently now and it’s easy as choosing the items from the online website. Amazon now provides a service with Prime Now and you can order on your phone or computer and schedule your groceries to be delivered at a time that’s best for you. Need I say more?

Issue #4: Unhealthy food marketing is everywhere now!! 

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All you have to do it scroll through Instagram or Pinterest and you’ll see crazy food recipes and pictures of double stuffed cookie dough pie dipped in chocolate or slutty brownie bars oozing with marshmallows – and so much more. The temptations can almost hypnotize us into feeling as though we need these items. There is never a shortage of candy, doughnuts or cookies at the office either. So what to do?

Why not start a new trend in your circle? Be the change you want to see in others. I find it so ridiculous the choices we continue feeding ourselves and the ones we love and yet, complain about our lack of control or our growing waist lines. We can take back control and provide healthier solutions in the office, home or at events. You can find healthy baked items online to take with you to the next birthday celebration, that next early morning meeting or during special get togethers. It gives you the option to eat better and not feel like you’re depriving yourself; and it also helps someone else make a better choice along with you.

Issue #5: I don’t have the time to eat healthy! 

This one is one I hear so often that I’m surprised it isn’t listed as #1! I know the thought of driving through the fast food chain drive-thru seems so much simpler than coming home and figuring out what to eat and how to make it. But can I share how much easier my life is (for me and my family) now that I’m meal prepping for the week on Saturday or Sunday? I even save so much money because I have all of the items I need on hand for the week in my weekly grocery store visit; instead of rushing back and forth when I realize I need one of this or that. All it takes is an hour or two on the weekend to meal prep and it saves you hours of time during the week. No more rushing around trying to figure out what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner all week.

I create my weekly meals and write out the recipes, ingredients and head to the store. This all takes me about 2 hours max. I then spend time putting the foods away and posting my weekly menu on the refrigerator so I (and my family) know ahead of time what’s available and what’s being served. Need more help? Healthy meal planning is easier than you may think. In order to get started, Beachbody has some meal plans here to provide some great ideas.

Click here: Meal Plan Ideas

Or here: 90 minutes meal prep from start to finish

Issue #6: What if you make a recipe that doesn’t work for your family? 

This has happened more times than I’d like to admit but it’s true. I’ve made a recipe that I was sure was going to be a hit with the family; and even though I might love it, either the hubby or kids (or both) said otherwise. First of all, the ego is hurt but what about the food that’s left? It’s tempting to just go back to the choices they prefer and forget about cooking healthy forever! (melodramatic music, playing in the background)

But I have to tell you to stay strong and keep going. Try different foods or cook the foods in different methods. If you find you (or your family) won’t eat steamed broccoli, then try roasting it with some olive oil and salt sprinkled over. Just making some simple changes can do wonders for your taste buds.. and theirs!

Issue #7: You are fearful of missing out on the the decadent foods you love! 

When we feel deprived of foods (or anything, really), it makes us want those things more than ever. I recommend allowing your favorite foods every once in awhile; or at least a few times each month. If we focus on the feeling of being restricted, we cannot enjoy the healthy habits we are gaining. Eating healthy does not mean being absolutely perfect. That’s not possible. Choosing to eat healthy 80% of the time – allows us to enjoy some treats and “cheats” 20% of the time.

You can eat your pizza and brownies and cookies…just not every day!

What is your favorite treat that you don’t want to live without?

Back to reality- Day 2 of the #nosugar

I’m here and it’s day #2 of the NO SUGAR challenge and I promised you my recipe for the Mediterranean chicken I made for the family last night.

Do you struggle with family meals too? I recently began creating a whole week of meals on the weekends and posting it on my refrigerator so I don’t even have to think about dinners any more. I also write out all of the recipes and ingredients needed to create my meals and voila! Stress free family dinners that everyone loves!

Day 1 of the NO SUGAR went so good! It actually feels like I’m eating more than usual and still feeling lighter, less bloated and as though I’m MORE hungry (which is a good sign of a strong metabolism) throughout my day than when I am not watching every sugar add.

I don’t eat processed foods or artificial sweeteners any longer but I’ll occasionally have some cereal in my yogurts, or mindlessly snack on foods that the family has on had when I’m not being as vigilant to my intake. Little things definitely add up over time and this is why I find the 14 day NO SUGAR challenges a great return to where I feel my best and lose weight like no other without having to “try”.

Here are my meals for the day:

Breakfast: Protein Pancake –

I mixed 4 egg whites, 1/3 cup oats, 1/2 scoop Shakeology (the only thing I’ll allow on my no sugar but it does contain some stevia). I blended this up in my VitaMix and cooked it up like a huge pancake. I then topped it with 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt (FAGE with nothing added) and 1 Tbls all natural peanut butter. (read your ingredients because most nut butters contain sugars and additives)

I usually like some berries on top of this pancake and when I’m not following the NO SUGAR (I feel like I should hashtag the no sugar slogan), I’ll add 1 Tbls of my fave strawberry syrup (a childhood obsession). But not now. I then had a cup of coffee with my 1 Tbls of 1/2 and 1/2 (yes, I pretty much measure everything; it’s become a habit now).

At 9am, I took my daughter to the ENT specialist where she finally had her freaking tonsil abscess drained. It was a scary issue after she was diagnosed with strep throat a week ago and then later felt the pain “change” to one tonsil and swell like a mutha! We had a “FUN” visit to the ER on Friday night (due to her doctor visit follow up on Friday where they warned us “not to wait the weekend but go straight to the ER to have this thing drained”…felt like Monopoly and unable to pass GO or collect my $200). The ER was absolutely NO help whatsoever as we told them upon our arrival what had been happening and that she more than likely just needed the abscess drained. They still had to take a CAT scan (I’m not arguing with being positive about the diagnosis) and we waited around for about 5 hours (which she was in excruciating pain from her ear being pressured by the abscess and unable to swallow or breathe normally) and they finally announced that she “needed to have the abscess drained” (DUH!) – BUT – there wasn’t an ENT in the hospital so they’d have to transfer her and not sure where that would be yet.

What?

Seriously, this was ridiculous and yet we were feeling nervous as they kept telling us if the tonsil swole any larger, it would probably start to cut off her breathing airways. YIKES! So, we waited. They put her in a room and gave her some morphine for the pain and antibiotic drip; along with steroids to help the swelling. Her doctor had prescribed antibiotics and steroids through the previous week as she fought the strep throat so this seemed harmless enough.

After a few hours of waiting, (which honestly didn’t feel as “life threatening” as they were making it out to be any longer); we questioned going home overnight and calling ENT’s in the morning. They advised against us leaving and threatened her life again from the swelling but honestly, our parental intuition overrode the fear and we checked her out and took her home. I slept in her room over the weekend and we called a few specialists only to find one who clearly knew what he was talking about.

Finally!

He first warned us to get her off of the steroids immediately as it was more than likely causing more swelling with the antibiotics. He asked us to come in on Monday morning and he’d fit her into his schedule. (there are still awesome doctors out there!) So yesterday, she and I went to see him and as scared as she was; and as much pain as she was in…he was so kind and calming and ended up doing the procedure in his office that the ER doctors told us was “impossible” to do in her situation.

She is back at school today and feeling like a million bucks! A little sore in her throat still but totally pain free at last!

Whew!

So anyway, after the appointment, I had a shakeology shake with 1/3 cup of oats, water and ice blended in. I watched my daughter during the day because her body was fevering on and off due to the infection being drained but overall, we rested and I bought her a milkshake to celebrate!

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For lunch, I made myself a veggie scramble with eggs, zucchini, cilantro, onions and cheese. I topped it with some home grown cherry tomatoes and it was fabulous! I allowed myself an apple later with some peanut butter and this was my “treat” that made me feel special! LOL

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Here’s my dinner, as promised (complete with the recipe) and if you’d like, I can share my meal plan ideas and recipes along the way to help out your family (or even just your own) weekly meals.

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MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN RECIPE:

Chicken breasts

Garlic powder

Diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)

Artichoke hearts

Small Jar Kalmata olives

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

oregano

basil

salt and pepper

Method:

Season chicken breasts with seasonings and brown in olive oil heated up in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan. Add tomatoes, artichoke hearts and olives. Add seasonings and simmer over low heat. (I put it in a large sheet pan and put into over at 350 for 30-45 minutes)

Serve over veggies or pasta.

Now it’s time for Day 2 of the #nosugarchallenge