Why You Should Food Journal

Ever had the feeling that you’re eating healthy but you just can’t seem to get any results?

A client of mine was recently feeling the same way.

He started a photo food journal to track what he ate. He takes pictures of everything he eats each day and shares it with me.

Within a week my client noticed that he was eating better.

A week!

Here’s why:

I’ve long been a fan of a journal when starting to change eating habits. At minimum because I need to see what my clients are eating to be able to help them. But also, because it’s often very eye opening for the client.

I’ve seen it so often, the new client says “but I eat healthy, how come I’m not seeing results “.

I ask them to journal and very often I get the same experience as the client mentioned above. The journal actually opens their eyes to EVERYTHING that they eat in the day.

Sure, the main meals, especially when you at at home are pretty healthy. However, many people don’t realize the frequent snacks, amount of sugary beverages they consume, gaps in their eating, or late night habits.

It’s not just what they eat that they end up seeing, it’s how they eat.

They see their habits.

Food journaling is a great idea if you’re unsure of why you aren’t seeing results or want to know how you can modify your diet.

I encourage you to try a photo journal like my client. You might be surprised by what you find!

~ Chad

Alleviate the Winter Blues or SAD

Winter Blues

It’s early in the year and you don’t feel like yourself. January is for new beginnings and resolutions, right? One look at your newsfeed and it’s peppered with #NewYearNewMe hashtags that make you question whether your own energy levels are up to snuff. To someone suffering from the Winter Blues the New Year is a reminder of a long road ahead.

For those suffering from the Winter Blues, the cold months, and than lack of light discourage many people from making and keeping plans. When your couch seems more inviting than the gym, fatty, and sugary foods are more comforting than mom’s homemade soup. When even Netflix and Chill seems too ambitious, you need to ask yourself if you’re just feeling the post-holiday hangover or the Winter Blues. Continue reading “Alleviate the Winter Blues or SAD”

Quick Fix Weight Loss Doesn’t Exist

quick fix abs

Nowadays we are obsessed with instant gratification.

We have the world wide web at our fingertips, we have drones delivering our products within hours of ordering and we freak out if texts aren’t returned within a matter minutes. There’s even a product that cools down pizza so that we don’t burn the roof of our mouths when we take an immediate bite (replacing the annoying task of waiting five minutes for the pizza to cool down).

So, it makes sense that we expect an instantaneous result from our weight loss attempts. Right?

Wrong!

Unfortunately, the human body has not and never will catch up to the technologies of 2016. It’s still stuck in olden days, when long-term health and wellness beat out “a better body in weeks.”

Our bodies are not set for today’s pace.

They move slowly but they get the job done—ya know, the job of keeping us alive. And they do not react when well told to do otherwise.

The fitness and diet industry knows that but they’re not interested in following the laws of our bodies—they’re interested in making money. So, playing on our obsession with quick fixes, they push quick fixes and timed solutions, aimed at giving us our best body in a matter of months, weeks, sometimes minutes! Recognize the following marketing schemes?

“5 minute abs!”
“30 days to bikini body!”
“Meal replacement shakes — lose weight in a week!”
“Take this pill and watch the pounds shed off!”

And so on, and so on.

It takes nine months to cook us, seven years for us to get our adult teeth and 12+ years for us to reach puberty. Why do we think that we can completely change our bodies in a week?

quick fix abs

Now, I’m not saying that it takes 12 months to lose 5 pounds. But, I do know that it is physically impossible to develop visible core musculature with a five minute workout. And deep down, you do too.

Not only are these products misguiding and incorrect, they can also be very harmful to your body. Many of these products are loaded with harmful chemicals that affect your metabolism and, frankly, are cheaply made. Most meal replacement and conventional meal plan programs advocate low daily calorie counts – and a VLCD (very low calorie diet) is perhaps the worst way to lose weight.

Not only are they unrealistic (do you really think that you can survive on 1000 calories a day for the rest of your life? Really?) but they are severely damaging to your metabolism. The lower your daily calories dip, the slower your metabolism becomes. And, since your metabolism regulates your body all chemical reactions within your body, a slow metabolism is not only damaging to your weight loss efforts, it is damaging to your body in general. Take it from someone who actually was on a VLCD, it is not a road you want to go down!

Now you’re asking “why would the fitness and diet industry to this to us?”

The answer is actually in your question—it is an industry. As in, the goal of these businesses is not to look out for your health and well being but to make money. The fitness and diet industry makes $20 billion dollars a year. $108 million Americans are on diets every year and they are typically on their fourth or fifth attempt. These businesses make money when you buy their products for the first time—they make more money when you continue to buy their products after your second, fifth, eighth failed attempt at weight loss. They are actually counting on your failure because that is where their cash flow comes from.

So, how do you actually lose weight?

Well, first of all, know that it takes time – There is no such thing as a quick fix.

Unless you want to live on meal replacement bars for the rest of your life, you need to make a lifestyle change, develop habits that will stick with you for the rest of your life.

Habits like:

  • going to gym 3 days a week,
  • taking the stairs instead of the elevator,
  • aiming for 4-6 servings of veggies and fruit a day,
  • mindfully eating your meals

If you want to feel more in control, you can be more vigilant about your weight loss by tracking your calorie count (though it should never dip below 1300) and lifting weights. All of these habits will lead to a permanent, positive change in your body.

Now, it will take time—but wouldn’t you rather have a long, successful weight loss journey than five failed attempts at a quick fix?

So, my fellow dieters, let’s leave the quick fixes at the door. Throw out your meal replacement bars and shakes and laugh in the face of magazines that promise you a beach-bod in 30 days.

Instead, try to enjoy the slow but successful road to weight loss. Because, as the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait!

Allie

Volume Foods – Using Fruits and Vegetables to Feel Full

How To Fill Up On Fruits And Vegetables

I like to eat.

If I could eat plates of pasta or bowls of ice cream all day long I would be one happy lady.

Unfortunately, if I were to do this ALL the time even with an active lifestyle I would likely gain weight, feel fatigued and have digestive complaints.

So what does one do when they want to satisfy their frequent pasta, ice cream or pizza cravings without jeopardizing their health goals?

You start modifying your meals by making them more voluminous;
often times by adding fruits and vegetables to the dish. Finding ways to substitute volume foods into your diet is a good option to get more vitamins and minerals into your daily routine but is also great if weight loss is one of your goals.

For example; many people already swap out their spaghetti noodles with zucchini noodles or you will see recipes using grated cauliflower in place of rice. These are a few examples of volume foods!

Volume foods are usually low in calories but high in fiber meaning you can eat more of the item (compared to the original food) without ingesting a ton of calories, plus it can leave you feeling fuller. Most voluminous foods are vegetables and fruit as they are high in water and fiber. These foods make you feel more satiated as they take longer to digest. By adding these items into your meals you are eating more food at a lower caloric cost.

Volume Foods

I started to eat more voluminous foods when I was macro tracking my meals and had a low daily caloric allowance as I was training for a body building competition. Meaning, I had to stretchhhhh my food intake very thin in order to satisfy my macronutrient intake for the day in a filling and sustainable way – If I ate foods high in calories I would end up eating less because those items add up quickly when you are eating well below you maintenance levels (high in calories and fat in this case). I am no longer calorie counting but I do still try to fill up on nutritious foods in place of some items as I try to keep my goals in check.

Whether or not you calorie or macro-nutrient track or just like to stay healthy this is a great way to improve general health as many people could boost their vegetable intake, meaning more micro nutrients and fiber!

Here are a few of my favorite ways to add fruit or veggies to your dishes:

Spiralized Noodles: You can buy a spiralizer or use a cheese grater to make noodle-like zucchini ribbons to eat in place of your pasta or rice noodles. You can then sauté them a bit in oil and/or sauce or eat them raw. Alternatively, I like to spiralize carrots as well. Combining the two and making a peanut butter satay sauce is my favorite way to eat raw spiralized veggies. I often add these raw carrot spirals on top of salads. If you have a fancier spiralizer you could even make sweet potato noodles, spiralize and apple or cabbage if you have a flat blade.

Volume Foods - a great way to add vegetables

Black Bean or Edamame Noodles: Great substitutions for pasta if you want a high fiber and protein meal. Beans are full of fiber and have good amounts of protein.

Cauliflower Rice: If you grate or use a food processor on rinsed and dried cauliflower you will end up with bits of the florets that look like grains of rice! You can make a pizza with the riced cauliflower too! My current favourite way to use riced cauliflower is in my oatmeal. It is a great way to add veggies into a dish that can otherwise quickly add up in calories depending on your serving size. Try adding 1/3 cup of riced cauliflower to ½ cup of raw oats. Add milk or water, spices, maybe some chia or flax seeds and berries then heat up like normal. The riced cauliflower gets lost in the oatmeal texture, making it an easy and sneaky way to get more veggies in.

Nana Cream: Using almost frozen bananas with some milk, spices and other berries whizzed up in a blender or food processor makes this lovely icy, but smooth banana frozen treat.

cocoa nibs

Pumpkin/ Squash: All members of the squash family have a special place in my heart. Similar to the nana ice cream I used chunks of almost frozen cooked pumpkin (Kabocha is my favourite squash) mixed with some milk or water, salt, cocoa or spices and voila! A magical icy treat low in calories yet high in fiber and nutrients!

Again, if you’re looking to add more nutrients into your diet there are tons of ways to do so and I am just showing a few, but get creative and get in the kitchen and see what you can whip up yourself! If you’d like more examples from me, feel free to reach out!

Stefanie

You Know What To Do, You’re Just Not Doing It

“You know what to do, you’re just not doing it”

I’ve said this exact quote in many client consultations over the years and it’s a fundamental belief of my coaching model.

I have the assumption that everyone knows WHAT to do, it’s just that they AREN’T DOING IT.

I believe this and bring it up because it’s the most common question we get as coaches:

  • What do I do to work my: obliques, butt, inner thigh, love handles, jiggly bits
  • What do I eat to help me lose weight, gain weight, build muscle, not lose muscle, get toned
  • What’s the best exercise for…
  • What’s the best food for…
  • What’s he best protein, BCAA’s, creatine, Vitamin D, B, A, C, E, F, G, H, I, J, K (you get the point) to take
  • What, what, what…

On some level it may be true that you don’t actually know the answers to these questions. But unfortunately it’s not the lack knowledge itself that’s the problem.

The problem is that it’s that it’s at such a micro level of focus.

And honestly, most people don’t know the perfect, specific answer to these questions fully because it’s always going to take some level of trial and error. (I’ll expand in next week’s article)

However, the micro focus questions are not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the general sense, the higher level view, the bigger picture focus on knowing what to do.

In the big picture we all know what to do:

Exercise more an eat less junk!

Until you are DOING that foundation, the microscopic view of individual vitamins or exercises, as expressed in the example questions above, mean nothing.

First you need the habit and discipline to do what you need to be doing.

I was inspired to write this because I recently watched a Keynote speech from an internet mentor of mine: Gary Vaynerchuk

In that keynote he says:

“Information has never been less valuable than it is today”

If you want to see it yourself, watch about 45 seconds and then come back here. Please. (you can watch the rest later)

His point is that the internet has everything we ever need to know and is literally at our finger tips on our phones. In seconds Google or Siri can tell you anything you want to know.

I digress back to my point.

Not knowing what to do is not your problem, it’s that you’re not doing it.

Getting answers about what to do will take you less than 30 seconds with a google search on your phone.

Heck, I’ll make it even quicker for you with some links:

But the truth remains, whatever knowledge you gain, you’re still going to have to get out there and do it. You’re still going to have to take a step forward and move.

My suggestion: put down the phone and step away from the search. Just go do something.

Anything.

Literally.

Do any damn thing you want that moves you one step closer to your goal.

Once you do, Tweet or Snap me and let me know what you did.

However, the next part is the actually the hardest.

Now you need to keep doing it. Over and over again. You now have to continue the journey.

Key point:

You may not know everything, but you know something you can do to get started. Just start doing it!

And no you’re not going to be perfect at it. No one is.

How I Overcame 10 Years of Yo-Yo Dieting

Diary of a former yo-yo dieter

If you’re a fan of musical theater (like I am) you have inevitably heard these famous lyrics:

“525,600 minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?”

Well, I can actually measure the last 10 years—in diets.

Diary of a former yo-yo dieter

2004 to 2014 was my era of yo-yo dieting. Here’s how it looked: South Beach, Nutrisystem, Atkins, Rice Diet, Weight Watchers, Dukan Diet, Low-Carb diet, Fast Diet, Very-Low-Calorie-Diet. In processed food, in hunger, in no-calorie sweetness, in bathroom scales.

Can I measure those 10 years in exercise?

I sure can—it looks like a million hours on an elliptical machine. I didn’t see exercise as anything other than a weight loss tactic. Those hours on the elliptical were purely to burn calories, to get myself skinny and to work off the “mistakes” I’d made the day before.

Exercising was just another way to get to my goal weight and, more often than not, a punishment for my indulgences throughout the week.

What was the end result of those 10 years of quick fix diets, hours of listless cardio and calorie counting?

A severely damaged metabolism, little to no muscle and a horrible relationship with food. I was always either dieting or binge-ing, all while resenting the gym and hating my body.

I’d also spent way too much money on crash diet books, diet products, diet programs and exercise tapes that promised me “a new hot bod in 10 minutes.”

My body was in starvation mode, I was putting on weight like crazy and I continued to lower my calorie count.

I remember the day that everything clicked into place. I’d been exercising twice a day for the past month, all on 800 calories a day. I stepped on the scale and…I’d gained a pound!

I had trained my body to survive on way too little calories and it was beginning to store any and all extra calories as fat. And, with no other energy, my body had been eating away at my muscle for extra fuel. Essentially, I had completely wrecked my metabolism.

That’s when I decided to stop. Stop dieting, stop feeding into the industry diet craze and stop hating my body. I threw away my scale and all the “skinny” clothes that served as an extra marker of weight gain or loss.

I vowed to rebuild my body and to never diet again. I was no longer focusing on weight loss—I was focusing on strength.

I started to research weight lifting methods and exercises. I began to lift weights at my gym, starting out very small (like 2 pound dumbbells small…sometimes no weights at all! Air is resistance too!).

Muscles need fuel to grow and I began to eat more before and after my workouts.

Eventually, I realized my eating habits had completely shifted. I was no longer starving myself for weight loss—I was feeding my strength.

yo-yo diet gone wrong

Now, was I completely able to break my old eating habits? Not entirely. They definitely come back from time to time. I still have a voice in my telling me that I’m not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not worth the plate of food in front of me.

My body image still isn’t fantastic and I know that I need to work on that.

But am I strong? Hell yeah! I love walking into a gym and lifting heavy. I love the newly visible muscles on my legs and thighs – and I love the fact that now, after years of starvation and binging, I don’t see food as an obstacle to weight loss, but as a necessary supplement to my fit lifestyle.

Now, I’m not saying that weight lifting is for everyone. Weight lifting changed my behavior and moved me out of a decade of yo-yo dieting but everyone has their own journey.

A good friend of mine found salvation in Zumba. He never enjoyed exercise until he walked into a Zumba class.

Suddenly, he was having a blast and getting fit in the process. And, in order to better his Zumba technique, he began to slowly tweak his food habits. Now, he’s 80 pounds lighter and a Zumba instructor!

Basically, I’m saying that the cycle of being stuck in a yo-yo diet cycle may seem endless but it’s not.

It can be broken and you can develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise. If you move your goals away from weight loss and the industry trend of “quick-fix diets” and instead focus on health and personal fulfillment, you can develop lasting habits that will end the pattern of weight gain and diets.

Look to mend your relationship with food and exercise in a new, exciting way. Find a mode of exercise that humors you, take a cooking class and fall in love with whole, yummy, unprocessed food. Find a gym buddy, commit to a bootcamp or simply give yourself a break.

Everyone has the potential to change and grow.

Will it be easy? Hell no. Will your body and mind thank you? Absolutely. And that’s all that matters.

“No day but today!”

Sorry, I just wanted to end on a lyric from Rent. 🙂

Allie

Cooking With Fats – Reducing Oil Oxidation

Coconut oil oxidation

In the 1990s, proponents of the low-fat diet craze insisted that dietary fat – particularly saturated fats – led to; obesity, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrhythmia, and several other medical complications.

By now, most people are aware that fats are an important macronutrient. We know that omega 3 fatty acids can actually reduce the risk of heart disease, improve cholesterol, and benefit people who have hardening of the arteries or high blood pressure. Some of us may even know that there are three types of fat – saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat – and that we should aim for a balance of all three fats in our diet.

What many of us don’t know, however, is that not all fats are suitable for cooking at high temperatures and that we should vary our fats based on the foods we’re preparing.

Since the low-fat craze died down and people became more aware of the need for dietary fats, one oil became increasingly popular – olive oil. We see it in recipes for everything from broiled salmon to sauteed spinach. Although olive oil is a great addition to a person’s diet, there is one problem with some of these recipes – the oxidation of the oil at high heat.

The sciency bit: Continue reading “Cooking With Fats – Reducing Oil Oxidation”

Introducing Allie Parris

Allie Parris - Online Fitness and Nutrition Coach

Our team just keeps on growing!

We would like to welcome Allie Parris to our happy growing family:

Coach Allie is a NASM certified Personal Trainer, a Weight Loss Specialist and a Fitness Nutrition Specialist – meaning her approach to coaching centers around not only finding what works best for you, but also teaching you how to understand why it works.

From Allie:

“My approach to training is extremely personal and individualized. I don’t just want to help you lose weight or get in shape. I want to help you understand why the tools I’m giving you work. I think a client should not just receive a program, they should understand why that program is tailor made for them. I want my clients to understand their bodies AND understand how to achieve results rather than just blindly follow a plan!”

Allie Parris - Online Fitness and Nutrition Coach

As a self proclaimed “former crash dieter”, she has experience with just about every restrictive diet there is – giving her the experience to steer you past that frame of mind and into thinking about “how to feed your strength”.

“I came to Allie after working abroad for 6 months and my body type had changed completely. I felt self-conscious and unsure how to even begin this journey of getting my body back in shape. Allie made me feel comfortable discussing my body issues. She was the perfect balance of tough love yet tenderly motivating. Thanks Allie!!”
Rachel L

Allie’s personal journey to better health gives her a unique connection to her clients. Read her story here!

What To Expect When You First Try Kombucha

Homemade Kombucha

Kombucha, for me it was love at first sip!

I was warned that this drink was lip puckering, vinegary and murky but my first reaction to Kombucha was pure bliss. The tangy and fizziness of this effervescent drink was thirst quenching as it satisfied my cravings for a carbonated beverage on a hot day.

No kidding. It reminds me of a slightly sour beer with some added nutritional benefits! Win-win!

Once I found out I can make this fermented tea at home I quickly signed up for a workshop and have been brewing my own batches in my cool dark pantry shelves for over a year now!

Homemade Kombucha
Here is a photo of three batches of home-made kombucha covered with a breathable lid. The middle jar has chunks of fresh ginger on the bottom, adding a zesty flavor to the original recipe.

Kombucha pronounced (KOM-BOO-CHA) is a drink that is made by fermenting sweet tea with a culture or yeast. The origin of this drink is still undetermined but whomever and wherever this tea came from it has left a lasting impression as the people of Japan, China and Russia continually drink this tea regularly as it thought to help promote longevity and wellness.

If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Kombucha you were likely a bit intimidated at first.

You probably saw the dark network of strands floating in your bottle, which are remnants of the SCOBY; similar to how you find “mothers” in apple cider vinegar which are really just a combination of beneficial bacteria, proteins and micronutrients.

These natural byproducts of Kombucha come from the SCOBY which stands for symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast.

Basically, the sweet tea you start with is converted to Kombucha from this SCOBY as it feeds off the sugar content in the tea. The sugar is converted into carbon dioxide and ethanol which explains why you have to be careful if you have an alcohol sensitivity as some brands contain more than trace amounts of alcohol. The SCOBY itself is thought to protect the jar of fluids from the outer environment, resulting in a drink rich in probiotics, as most fermented foods are.

How To Make Kombucha
Here is a photo of the strange “mother” in a bottle of store bought organic apple cider vinegar.

The SCOBY looks like an alien-pancake made of microbes that are translucent in colour until it is tinted brown from exposure to many teas over and over again. After some poking around it seems that the SCOBY itself has most of the probiotic benefits rather than the tea itself and this is why many people actually eat the SCOBY itself. When in the jar it floats on top of the liquid and is rubbery, a bit slimy and definitely alive. Watching a SCOBY slowly dance in your home-made Kombucha as it ferments is worth brewing a batch itself if not for its complex flavor profiles and probiotic benefits.

Last month I talked about sauerkraut (link to blog post) and all its glory praising it and other ferments for providing probiotics; living micro-organisms that help maintain a healthy intestinal tract by balancing out the harmful and helpful bacteria naturally found in your gut. Intestinal health is super important for overall health, impacting our energy levels, mood, digestion and weight.

Over many many years it has been used therapeutically as it is thought to help with liver and immune support, arthritis and digestive health to name a few. As much as I love all ferments some like Kombucha may not have as many superfoods capabilities as other do. There currently is no scientific backing on human data in favor of this drink in terms of having health benefits to the mentioned ailments. Due to this it is only responsible for me to advise people to take caution when experimenting with new items, like Kombucha. Also, children, pregnant women, those with yeast sensitivities and with a compromised immune system should refrain from drinking this tea and should consult a naturopath or doctor beforehand.

This drink is not for everybody but I personally think it benefits MY digestive health and most importantly it satisfies my cravings in a less caloric and more wholesome way. In comparison to pop and beer this drink has less sugar and calories adding up to 14g of carbohydrate per 8 oz serving compared to 22.5 g of carbohydrates for soda pop. I often drink my Kombucha in a beer sleeve or wine glass as I try to decrease my alcohol intake. I mix it with fresh juices or muddled fruit to give it a more exciting, non or low alcoholic party friendly drink.

Kombucha Scoby
Meet my SCOBY- his name is Bert and he is happily floating on the top of jar as the fermentation ensue’s beneath him.

I drink Kombucha because it works with my body, I love the taste, I enjoy the ancient traditions of its use and I simply love making my own ‘booch’. If you don’t fall into any of the categories mentioned above consider buying a bottle of Kombucha. Start with buying a bottle from a reputable brand and drink it slowly, maybe even an ounce or two one day to see if it jives with you. I have friends who say it makes them feel a little tipsy, or have a stomach ache so they are cautious with the amounts they drink.

If you end up loving the taste and light bubbles you will likely enjoy making your own brew. There are lots of comprehensive guides on how to make your own batch but the joy of mixing teas, adding flavors and watching my SCOBY come to life in my home makes me glad I bought my first spooky, dark and majestic bottle of Kombucha years ago.

Hit me up if you have any Kombucha questions!

Stefanie

Supplements, Detoxes, and Cleanses – stop wasting your money!

The supplement industry in the United States alone is worth roughly $37 billion. Within the industry, there are several segments – traditional exercise supplements, vitamins, minerals, meal replacements, detoxes, cleanses, and so on.

After doing a google search – I learned that roughly ½ of Americans ingest some sort of supplement regularly –  That is roughly 120 million adults. Therefor the average adult spends about $310/year on items that are more often than not, a complete waste of money. Continue reading “Supplements, Detoxes, and Cleanses – stop wasting your money!”

Nutrition Tip – How Much Water?

This is a question I get asked a lot, and an important one at that. Hydration is a vital component for proper body function, never mind energy levels, metabolism, and recovery. Most people are chronically dehydrated and don’t even know it!

Like many nutrition tips, there is a lot of conflicting information about how much water we should drink. Use this simple equation to find the minimum ideal amount of water for you.

(weight in pounds) / 2 = (water in ozs)

Ex. 160 lbs/2 = 80 oz of water

In this example 80 oz of water is the minimum ideal amount. This is ten 8 oz glasses of water! (1 cup = 8 oz)

If exercise is involved, you want to increase the amount from that. Find your ideal amount of water to drink per day – and plan to get at least that much. Bringing a reusable water bottle with you is a great place to start.

Start hydrating today!

how much water