The Myths About Low Carb Diets

Whenever I ask someone what they are following for weight loss, a common response is, “I’m doing a low carb diet.”

This idea has floated around since the Atkins diet phase and has seemed to settle into most people’s minds as ‘the way to lose weight’. Most people assume that carbs are “fattening”.  Let’s see if you’ve heard some of these comments before:

  • Carbs spike your blood sugar and insulin, which pours on the body fat.
  • Carbs, especially grains and sugar, cause inflammation.
  • Carbs are not essential to your diet, like proteins and healthy fats are.

These seem pretty logical and simple, right? Well, honestly, no. It seems as simple as “good” versus “bad” but let’s break it down a little more focused.

  • Do carbs increase insulin levels? Yes
  • Does increased insulin after meals cause weight gain? No, insulin is actually a hormone that helps keep you full so the idea that by itself it leads to fat gain doesn’t make much sense.
  • Are carbs inflammatory? That depends. If we are talking about processed corn syrup then probably so; but if we’re talking about whole grains then the answer would be different.
  • Can low carb eating help people lose weight? Of course it can! Because it’s less in carbs? Any type of meal plan that you are eliminating calories (here, it’s a whole nutrient), you will definitely drop weight.
  • Can eating an appropriate amount of carbs help you to look and feel good? Most definitely, YES!

Now, let’s talk a bit about how not eating carbs can work against us.

If you’re using the idea of eliminating or cutting out carbs as a weight loss strategy alone, it will work well for some people. Like I said above, when you are reducing your daily amount of calories due to cutting back in any way, you will definitely lose weight. It just goes back to “less calories in equals a calorie deficit which then leads to weight loss”.

But let’s talk about the downside of cutting out carbs; most of us need some level of carbohydrates to function at our best over the long run. That initial weight gain you may enjoy can later be met with some highly negative consequences later. This applies especially to those who workout. I know if I cut my carb intake too much, I’m met with the crazy feelings of what we’ve coined, ‘hangry’. This reduction also can lead to: decreased thyroid output, increased cortisol output (aka; stress hormone), decreased testosterone, impaired moods and cognitive function, muscle breakdown and problems with our immune functions.

I’m not sure that some temporary weight loss is worth all the long term effects, what do you think?

Let’s summarize this into more simple results:

  • You eat less carbs and your metabolism might slow down but your stress hormones go up. (this is not a good swap!)
  • You eat less carbs and your muscle building hormones go down. (again, not good for long term toned bodies!)
  • You eat less carbs and you feel grouchy, spaced out, sluggish, cranky and maybe even sick. (seriously???)
  • You eat less carbs and don’t even lose that much weight in the long run and may even be met with worse results over time.

Need I say more? If you would like to learn more helpful information to get you better results over time, join the Fit & Toned Academy that’s coming end of September and get a month FREE!

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*information gathered and found at Precision Nutrition 

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

New week’s goals

It’s a new week and I’m making a commitment for the coming 2 weeks to post daily about my progress in all areas. I like to write my blog posts more often and it seems like I get on track for a bit and then off again. My goal is to share a bit of my world with you in the next 2 weeks so you can glimpse what I struggle with and where I succeed at. My hope is that this inspires you to keep going every day; week and month…even when things are going as “perfectly” as you hope they do. 🙂

I didn’t sleep very well last night due to my daughter’s recent bout with strep throat and now an abscess on her tonsil. You’d think by that last sentence that my daughter was a young girl, right? Well, honestly, she’s 20 years old and when my little girl is sick this momma is going to overdo it on worry, care and soup making. lol

Chicken Enchilada soup

I had also planned to train my bootcamp group of ladies this morning at 5am before our appointment at 9. Since I was waking up every hour on the hour, to check on my daughter (yes, I slept in her room!); I heard a strange dripping sound around 3am and wondered if our sprinklers were stuck or mis-programmed.

No sprinkler issues whatsoever…it was actually raining. 

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In Southern California? That is absurd! LOL So I messaged the bootcamp ladies and we agreed to postpone this morning’s workout for tomorrow since we’d be outdoors in the wet and slippery morning. I tried to go back to sleep but to no avail…so here I am, writing this blog and drinking my coffee before I get my 5:30 workout done in my living room. I’m also kicking off this week with a NO SUGAR challenge for 2 weeks.

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This is my 3rd round of the NO SUGAR challenge this year and I have to say that I’m actually looking forward to this more than ever. I realize that even though I’m a healthy eater who choose “clean” foods about 90% of the time, when I cut out all of the sugars completely; I feel lighter, more energetic and immediately drop any extra “bloat” or weight that can creep up at any time of day or night. You know what I’m talking about, right?

I may or may not go through withdrawals because I’ve done this more than once this past year and each time it gets easier to do. I’ll share with you why you should take on a challenge such as this soon too (even now!) and why sugar is one of the main reasons for our obesity epidemic and all of the health issues rising up in our lives.

I’m drinking my coffee with 1 Tbls of half and half. Yes, there is cream in it but no sugar! 🙂 My tip for you today is to cut out the crappy coffee creamers that are filled with awful preservatives, sugars and things that aren’t even in my vocabulary. Use cream, half and half or milk instead. You’ll thank me later.

My workout is going to be from Beachbody’s Master Hammer and Chisel. I’ll be doing Hammer Power today and you’ll have to see how it went in tomorrow’s post.

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Today’s big plans:

workout at 5:30am

Dr. appt at 9am

No sugar all day

Dinner plans: Mediterranean Chicken with pasta (for the family- I’ll stick to the chicken and veggies)

Want the recipe? Check out tomorrow’s post!

Why sugar can make or break your health goals

I know that summer is winding down to a close. I know this because school is already in session. But the weather is still hot and the season is still enticing us with the foods we are choosing to eat and the drinks we drink.
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It’s important to understand the who, what, where and how of the foods we eat and how they affect our bodies. I understand the struggle of needing more willpower. But in all actuality, our long term results are not reflected by our short term habits. In order to create long term results, it’s important to understand exactly why we should do what we should do and how to create balance instead of deprivation and overindulging.

When someone suffers from insulin resistance, it means that they have cells that don’t the insulin effectively. The cells then have trouble absorbing the glucose and this causes a buildup of sugars in our blood. When the blood glucose levels are higher than normal (but not quite high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes), the result is a condition known as “pre-diabetes”.

We don’t know exactly why some people develop insulin resistance, while others don’t, but there are a few tell tale signs. One; being overweight or obese are leading factors. Two; being sedentary (lack of movement during the course of every day) can also cause the symptoms that lead to pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. When you add the two together; overweight and sedentary lifestyle, the risks rise.

So back to my first point about summer and how it ties in with insulin resistance. The summer season brings an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, which make it easier to eat healthily but it also brings some risks. Knowing these risks and learning how to deal with them will help our bodies run efficiently and our habits may begin to motivate those around us. #bonus

So what tastes better while lounging around on a lazy summer day than some fruity cocktail drinks and some ice cream treats? I know…pretty tempting, right? Unfortunately, these are dangerous foods for our blood sugar levels. We are simply trading in a few minutes of pleasure (drug like high) when we indulge in these cold and sugar-loaded treats, for a dangerous road that may lead to long term chronic illness.

The danger comes when we choose to continue to indulge in too much sugar, because our bodies respond by producing more and more insulin. When there is too much insulin in our bodies, it trains our cells to become resistant and thus forms the insulin resistance problems.
Now, I realize these facts alone aren’t enough to stop us from eating ice cream and indulging in sugary drinks and snacks…me neither! But moderation is the key to lasting results and long term better health. Still with me? We can have our cake and eat it too…but we also need to be smart about how much we are eating and how we eat it.
One more thing I’d like to mention today to bring this all together. I’m sure you’ve heard about the glycemic index, right? This is simply a way of categorizing foods according to their effects on the levels of glucose in our blood. Pretty cool, right? A food that has a high glycemic index will cause more glucose to build up than a food with low glycemic index.
I know, I know…knowledge is truly powerful!  If we want to help control our blood sugar levels, then we should focus on eating foods with a low glycemic index. It’s also important to note that when we eat foods with a high glycemic index (because I’m all about moderation and not deprivation), just make sure to eat it with a low glycemic food to help slow the effects on our blood sugar levels.
What are high glycemic foods? Think, white flours, white sugars, white rices, and white potatoes. (I know, they are “healthy” but that doesn’t mean they don’t fall into this category).
Low glycemic foods are ones that contain more fiber and protein. Think “clean eating” and you’ll be on the right path. This category includes choices like beans, whole grains, lean proteins and nuts.
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In conclusion to this information overload (or maybe you already knew all of this), it’s important to follow the 80/20 rule of thumb. Follow a diet full of clean, whole foods 80% of the time and indulge in your favorite treats 20% of the time so you can have the best of both worlds. Being healthy, looking our best and feeling awesome are really great trade offs to cutting out those indulgent periods. Just by becoming more aware of these facts and the glycemic index will help us eat better and reduce stresses on our bodies. When you choose to indulge in a high glycemic treat like ice cream, for example; make sure to enjoy it at the end of a meal that contains low glycemic (clean eating) foods. And a bonus would be to have it on a day when you have done some resistance training.
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As the summer season comes to a close (and really throughout the entire year), have your occasional treats, and make sure they are strictly occasional. Your body and taste buds will thank you in the long run!

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