As a Nutrition Coach and Head Chef for Venice Nutrition, I always recommend that my clients have 2 food staples on hand for the week: cooked chicken and cooked brown rice. Preparing these two high quality, nutrient –rich food items in bulk is a great way to create simple and delicious meals in minutes all week!
We all know that skinless, boneless chicken breasts are a fantastic source of natural protein. Brown rice is a high fiber whole grain that naturally keeps blood sugar stable when paired with a protein and fat in a meal. The challenge is, how do you make these two nutrition stars go from bland to wow? It’s simple with these tips.
Chicken- I recommend that you buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts and season with a little kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, minced garlic or garlic powder, dried or fresh thyme and red pepper flakes if you like a little kick. Bake or grill until moist and no longer pink. Another option is to purchase chicken breasts with the skin on, season, bake and remove the skin after the chicken is cooked. Keeping the skin on during the cooking process keeps the meat tender and moist (just make sure to remove it after). One convenient option to guarantee you have cooked chicken on hand is to purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken at your local market. Throw on a pair of plastic gloves and remove the skin and bones. Save the meat in a plastic container for later use.
Brown Rice- Though it’s best to use the brown rice that needs to be cooked for a while, I’m still a fan of instant brown rice because of its convenience. Make up a batch and store in the fridge for the week.
Now that you have these 2 staple items cooked and ready to go, it’s time to get creative!
Some delicious combinations that you can stir-fry in a small frying pan within 5 minutes (just make sure to use cooked chicken and cooked rice!):
-Cubed or sliced chicken, brown rice, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, minced garlic or garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Cook until heated throughout. Top with fresh parmesan cheese
-Cubed or sliced chicken breast and brown rice cooked with Pam Cooking Spray, salt and pepper until heated throughout. The last minute add your favorite salsa to the pan. Top with guacamole or fresh sliced avocado
-Cubed or sliced chicken breast and brown rice cooked with Pam Cooking Spray, salt, pepper, garlic and oregano until heated throughout. The last minute of cooking add your favorite marinara or tomato sauce and fresh herbs like basil. Top with a small amount of fresh mozzarella, ricotta or parmesan cheese
-Cubed or sliced chicken breast and brown rice cooked with sesame or peanut oil, salt, pepper, garlic, your favorite stir-fry vegetables and a dash of low sodium soy sauce.
In addition to protecting your skin from harmful elements like the sun and pollution, many people are surprised to learn that healthy, youthful skin can be achieved through a balanced diet, plenty of water, the right supplementation and even regular exercise! As our skin is exposed to elements and as it ages, free radicals (unstable molecules produced by sunlight and pollution) cause damage such as inflammation, wrinkling and an increased risk of developing skin cancer. While it’s impossible to have the perfect skin you did in your teens without surgery, it is possible to heal, protect and dramatically improve dry, itchy or wrinkled skin naturally from the inside out with this simple guide.
A Balanced Diet Is Key
For beautiful skin, take a good look at your nutrition. Does your daily intake include fruits and vegetables loaded with vitamins and antioxidants to combat damaging free radicals? Are you avoiding processed food that is high in saturated fat? Are you including healthy fats like Omega 3 Fatty Acids to hydrate, and plump your skin with moisture to give it a youthful glow? The following foods should be included in your diet on a regular basis for moist and healthy skin:
Selenium -- Brazil nuts, turkey, cod
Vitamin B-2 -- Milk, enriched grain products, eggs
Vitamin B-6 -- Chicken, fish, nuts
Vitamin B-12 -- Clams, liver, trout, fortified cereals
Vitamin C -- Citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli
Vitamin E -- Sunflower oil, whole grains, nuts
Omega-3s -- Salmon, flaxseed, safflower oil, walnuts
Supplement your Diet for Optimal Results
Ideally you would get all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you need for healthy skin (and a healthy body!) through diet alone. The reality is due to busy lifestyles, stress and neglect, many of our diet’s are lacking these important nutrients, and that’s where the right supplements can fill the voids.
Research shows that the following can dramatically improve your skin:
Vitamin C & E & Selenium- These powerful antioxidants actually increase your skin’s healing power and prevent further damage, thus protecting skin against sun damage and skin cancer. They also work to reverse wrinkles and discoloration from age and the environment.
B Vitamins- The B vitamins are critical for skin cells and a deficiency could cause dry, itchy skin.
Where can you find Vitamin C & E & B & Selenium?
A great multivitamin, such as Vita-Boost, contains all three antioxidants. In addition to improving your skin, Vita Boost also improves the health of your entire body. Healthy Greens, contains Vitamin C, E and Selenium, along with a variety of enzymes, vitamins and minerals. You may also want to add an individual Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplement to your daily diet. You can find Vita Boost and Healthy Greens by visiting our online store www.VeniceNutritionStore.com Always consult your physician before taking supplementation, as your individual needs may vary according to your health and any other medications or supplementation you take.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids- Essential, healthy fats can make a positive impact on your skin as well by increasing your skin’s natural moisture barrier. An excellent way to make sure your getting enough of these good fats in your diet is to use a supplement.
To improve the moisture in your skin, consider a supplement like Essential Lipids which contains a unique blend of seven types of fat (in addition to Omega 3’s). Essential Lipids also promotes weight loss, and increases your energy and immune system. Always consult your physician before taking supplementation, as your individual needs may vary according to your health and any other medications or supplementation you take.
Add More H20!
To avoid dry, itchy and flaky skin, increase your water intake. Plain old H2O hydrates your body from the inside out, giving your skin a fighting chance against the elements. We recommend that you aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day.
Try a cup of Green Tea!
Flavonoids, a powerful form of antioxidants, are abundant in green tea. According to research, regular tea drinkers who drink two or more cups a day have less risk of strokes, heart disease, better cholesterol and even improved skin. The flavonoids in green tea may even help protect your skin from cancer and inflammation, so drink up!
Get moving for better skin!
We all know that exercise is critical for weight loss, stronger bones and a healthier body, but did you know it also improves the look and feel of your skin? As you exercise, you increase circulation, helping to deliver important nutrients to your skin. Exercise also helps to produce collagen, which naturally gives your skin a youthful, plump appearance.
With a few healthy lifestyle changes, along with some key food items and supplements added to your diet, you can make a dramatic difference in the health and future of your skin.
*All information derived from webmd.com
The Venice Nutrition Team
You wake up every morning and eat your favorite breakfast of eggs and toast. Three hours later you have your protein shake with banana and peanut butter. Lunch is always a turkey sandwich on wheat with cheese. You packed your protein bar to ward off mid-afternoon munchies and you look forward to your grilled fish and veggie dinner every night. Your meals are balanced, your energy is high, your body is changing in a positive way, and then it hits you…… you are downright bored with your meals! And that piece of pizza is looking better and better by the minute.
If the above scenario sounds familiar, you are not alone. As a nutrition coach and chef, I see plain old boredom push even the most motivated health nut off his or her program all too often. So what can you do if your ho-hum meals are getting you down? It’s time to pull yourself out of the food rut and get a little creative!
Creativity is the spice of life and this is particularly true when it comes to food. As human beings we like to experience different tastes, textures, scents and even visually see different shapes and colors on our plate. Just because your eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have a variety of delicious, creative (not to mention easy to make) meals throughout your day.
The best way to get started is to set the goal for yourself that you will experiment with one new creative, healthy recipe each week. For easy and waist friendly ideas, I encourage you to check out your Recipes Tab within your personalized plan. The Venice Nutrition recipe collection contains simple, fast and fun recipes like “Restaurant Worthy Steaks” (when’s the last time you feasted on a perfectly cooked filet at home?) to “Salad with Fries” and “Banana Cinnamon Pancakes”. Every recipe in the collection contains easy to follow instructions and the nutritional breakdown, so you can be assured that your getting a balanced meal. Perhaps you pack the “Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad Wrap” for lunch in place of your plain old turkey sandwich. Maybe instead your usual mid-afternoon protein bar, you snack on a creamy, sweet “Greek Yogurt Parfait”. If your getting hungry, all of these recipes are found in your Recipes tab!
If creating a new recipe seems overwhelming, start slowly by incorporating a new food item into your plan. Perhaps in place of the cheese in your sandwich, you have some sliced avocado instead. Maybe you switch out your banana and peanut butter smoothie for a strawberry almond variety.
The goal is that once you have established consistency and are completely comfortable with your meal plans, try slowly breaking out of your comfort zone slowly. Keep the meals that you love, switch out the ones that your bored with. I promise that with a little creativity on your end, you can prevent a food rut, and reach your goals that much faster.
Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
What’s the Fastest Way to Lose Weight?
It’s a simple question and one that our entire Venice Nutrition teams gets asked quite frequently, especially as the New Year rolls around! We live in a fast- paced world where our every whim and need has a quick solution. We are fortunate enough that if we want something, anything, we can have it fairly quickly.
As you know, that’s not always the case with losing weight, and it’s frustrating when we are so used to getting what we want right now. A better question to ask is, “How can I lose weight the right way and permanently?” because the fastest way to lose weight isn’t always the most effective!
Though there are plenty of ways to lose weight fast, such as diet pills, fad diets, skipping meals and over-exercising, the long term repercussions may have you thinking twice. There’s no arguing that quick fixes cause a quick drop in weight. The challenge is they are NOT permanent solutions and ultimately lead to unbearable cravings, fatigue and worst of all, a loss of lean muscle mass and slower metabolism. The end result? When you stop “dieting” your stuck with a body that has a higher fat percentage and a much slower metabolism, thus causing you to have a harder time losing weight down the road. As a Nutrition Coach, I’ve seen it time and time again. And I admit that prior to learning how my body worked and the best way to fuel it, I’m guilty of crash dieting when I was younger as well. My clients that have a long history of crash dieting and extreme weight loss always have a slower metabolism and a harder time keeping weight off in the long run. And my goal is always the same; re-train their minds, then their bodies to reach their goals permanently!
The great news is through a solid health plan and a little patience, anyone (even those with a diet-packed past) can lose weight, and get fit and healthy permanently. Here’s how!
The first step is simply education, and that is why your personalized Venice Nutrition program provides you with so much information about how your body really works. Once you understand how your body works, you can learn to make it work for you. I invite you to take some time to read through your software program, particularly your Education Tab, the Help/ Support Tab and the newsletters. It’s a lot easier to make the right decisions and come up with solutions when you have the education to do so!
Next is creating a game plan that works for your lifestyle and that includes optimizing your Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise, Supplementation and Water habits. Each of these components is critical in achieving your goals. Why? Sleep is the foundation. Remember, you are what you metabolize. Without restful and consistent sleep, you can’t metabolize nutrients properly, thus dramatically slowing fat loss. Through a solid nutrition plan based on blood sugar stabilization and the right type of cardiovascular routine, you are able to burn the body fat, build lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism, even while your at rest! Adequate water intake is critical for normal cell metabolism (not to mention dehydration causes bloat, fatique and cravings!). Lastly supplementation helps to deliver the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and every other nutrient you may not be taking in through diet alone, thus promoting a healthy body weight and healthy body.
Of course, the science behind Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise, Water and Supplementation is vast (and why I encourage you to read through your software!). My point is that each of these components all make up a piece of the pie and with a slice missing, optimal results are not always achieved. That’s not to say that you have to perfect each one; life doesn’t always allow for that! Just know that even mild improvements in each area will make a dramatic and positive difference in how fast you reach your goals. The best part of all is your personalized plan with Venice Nutrition looks at you as an individual and guides through all the components of your health.
So when someone asks me, “What’s the fastest way to lose weight?”, I give them my honest answer. I tell them, “The fastest way to lose weight is to follow a nutrition plan centered on blood sugar stabilization and a cardio routine that is based on science. Make it a goal to work on achieving consistent and restful sleep, drink atleast 8 oz. of water per meal and at the very least, take a multivitamin and fish oil supplement. And lastly learn how your body works so you can make it work for you!”
It may not be the answer they were expecting, but it’s the truth. Sure, I could recommend a quick fix, but in the long run, it will only cause them more time, frustration and more body fat. If you think about it, the quick fix doesn’t seem so easy after all!
Venice Nutrition Coach
It’s that time of year again. The holidays have officially come to an end. The endless food and party invites have dwindled. And it’s time for us to take a long look at ourselves and decide what goals we want to achieve as the New Year stands before us. Many of us will make a lofty New Year’s Resolution such as “I will lose 20 lbs or I’ll work out every day.” Though there’s nothing wrong with setting the bar high, I’ve found that all too often we set the bar too high, and in turn set ourselves up for failure! As a Nutrition Coach (and one who has been known to set unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions myself), I have found that there is a much more effective way to setting, sticking to, and actually achieving your New Year’s Resolution. Make a change this year and reach your goals with the strategy below!
It starts with creating small, attainable and specific goals. Some examples:
I will stop skipping meals.
I will add an extra 5 minutes of cardio on to each session.
I will eat only 1-2 low quality carbs per day.
I will drink an extra 12 oz. bottle of water each day.
I’ll take my supplements each morning with my breakfast.
I’ll prepare some easy, high quality food every Sunday to have on hand for the week like chicken breasts for example.
Notice that these goals don’t focus on the end result such as weight loss or having perfect abs. So what makes this strategy so effective? By setting small, attainable goals like the ones above, you create life- long habits you can practice daily. These small habits are easy to achieve and lead to a sense of satisfaction each day. “I drank my extra bottle of water today….. woohooo!” Best of all? These small habits over time will lead you to your desired end result such as weight loss or a firmer body! So Step 1 is breaking out a pen and paper and creating these realistic goals that you can work on every day. To do this right, ask yourself, “Where am I struggling? What part of my plan am I truly neglecting?”. Then create a small, attainable goal to remedy the situation.
The next step is simple. Take that list of goals you created for yourself and post it in plain view. Maybe you stick it to your fridge or desk at home. It doesn’t matter as long as it serves as a constant reminder.
Set yourself up for success! Some easy ways to start? Clear out any junk left in the house, or delegate it to one cabinet in the kitchen that’s out of sight. Make a grocery list of healthy and delicious items you know you’ll want to eat. Prepare healthy, high quality foods in bulk for the week like brown rice, chicken and vegetables and store in the fridge for quick grab and go meals. Try a new recipe in your recipe tab for a change of pace. Stock up on protein bars and store a few in the car, in your purse or briefcase and at work for back up. Layout your workout clothes the night before so your ready the next day. Plan a “back up” workout you can do at home in case you don’ t have time to get to the gym. It could be a pilates video, or may include having some resistance bands and a mat at home for a customized routine. The point is that being prepared is the difference between success and failure. You can have the best intentions and without preparation, your less likely to follow
Next, get back to journaling, if only for a week or two. Record what your eating, when and record your successes as you achieve the goals you set for yourself. Did you remember to take your supplements this morning? Excellent! Make note of it in your journal. This positive reinforcement is a proven motivator that leads to success. Journaling will also help reveal anything you are missing and may lead to a new goal to add to your list.
Who else do you know that is trying to live a healthier lifestyle? Maybe it’s a friend, spouse, neighbor or co-worker that you can “buddy up” with to keep each other in check. It doesn’t mean you need to work out together every day. The buddy system can be as simple as checking in with each other each week to make sure your on track and achieving your goals. Have lunch once a week , order healthy and discuss your progress and journal. Ask for advice and any strategies that work for your buddy that you can adopt into your own lifestyle. Remember, you have the power to motivate someone else to succeed, just as they can for you.
And lastly… like what you do. If you hate running but have decided it’s the only way you’ll get the results you want, your probably not going to stick to your new running routine. If you dislike brown rice even though you know it’s good for you, it’s just going to sit in the fridge. Find activities you enjoy and make the most of them. That’s not to say you’ll always be ecstatic when it’s time to work out, but having a fun activity makes all the difference. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing something you don’t find enjoyable. I have a client who hates the treadmill but changed her mind when she realized her local gym had small TV’s attached. Now she looks forward to her watching her favorite tv show while doing something good for herself.
Remember, this year make a resolution that is realistic. Daily, realistic goals turn into permanent habits. And healthy habits turn into success! Happy New Year!
Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
We know it’s cold outside now, but spring is just around the corner. Those bulky sweaters you love will be replaced by short sleeves and tanks before you know it! These days, everyone is looking to firm and tone more than just their abs and thighs. Having tight, sculpted arms is a popular request and can be achieved in 3 easy steps.
1. Nutrition is key. We know we’ve said it before, “Without the right nutrition, it’s impossible to build lean muscle and burn body fat all over, including your arms.” Take one of our top nutrition coaches, Valerie Cogswell for example. “Before I learned to stabilize my blood sugar, my workouts felt like a waste of time. I was so frustrated because I took my training seriously; I just never saw the major change I was looking for. When I started fueling my body correctly, it responded quicker than I ever imagined. My whole body got leaner, tighter and had more definition. I was especially impressed with my arms. By building up my shoulders, I was able to balance my pear shape for a leaner look. I was also able to eliminate the small pockets of fat on the back of my triceps.” We keep saying it because it’s true! Stabilize your blood sugar for a better body- including amazing arms.
2. Cardio will reveal those lean, toned arms. You can have impressive muscle in your arms, and if you have a thick layer of body fat over it, no one will ever see it! Cardio is critical for burning body fat, and if done correctly, can actually help you to protect your lean muscle mass and metabolism. What’s the best cardio routine? A mix of white fiber and red fiber training performed through exercises that recruit the most muscle fiber!! See your Venice Nutrition Handbook, Tips 12 & 13 for details on the most efficient cardiovascular exercise including proper technique, duration and more.
3. Mix up your resistance training and hit all the necessary muscle groups. Having amazing arms means training your Shoulders, Biceps and Triceps. Neglect any one of those and your arms will be missing the lean, toned look your after. Work with a personal trainer to design a routine that targets all three of these muscle groups and make sure to change your routine often to avoid plateaus. Some effective moves for building better arms? Push-ups require no equipment and recruit maximum muscle fiber. Moves like a shoulder press, tricep dips and bicep curls are also effective. If you are always glued to machines, try free weights or even resistance bands for a change of pace. If you mostly stick to free weights, give your whole body a workout with push-ups or try a new machine or cables at the gym. Just make sure that you work with a trainer or workout buddy who can help you to get maximum results and avoid injury.
If you're a sports fan, chances are you'll be frequenting your local bar this season to catch the next game. Many of our clients have asked us "What should I eat?" at their favorite sports bar. Though a bar menu isn't typically geared towards a healthy lifestyle, I scanned my neighborhood hangout menu for the healthiest options I could find.
Instead of fried buffalo wings or tenders, try grilled chicken tenders with a side of buffalo sauce (for light dipping) and carrots and celery sticks on the side
A garden salad with grilled chicken or lean steak tips and low fat dressing on the side
Instead of a high fat hamburger,a grilled chicken sandwich on a wheat bun (if they have wheat) with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles
A roast turkey and cheese sandwich- skip the mayo, add plenty of veggies and aim for wheat bread if they have it
If you see the menu offers fried seafood like scallops or fish, ask for a grilled version with a side salad
Grilled BBQ chicken plate with a side salad and veggies or a small side of coleslaw
If your a pizza fan, add grilled chicken and vegetables on top and ask your server for the chef to go "light on the cheese". If the pizza arrives greasy, it doesn't hurt to blot away some of the excess grease with a napkin
If you like to have a few brews with your game, aim for light beer and drink a glass of water in-between to stay hydrated and prevent bloating. Happy game day!
As a fitness buff and health nut since the age of 15, working out and eating right has always been a big part of my life. So big in fact, that I became a nutrition coach and head chef for Venice Nutrition, and even was a partner in two Venice Nutrition centers for years. I loved helping others feel and look their best and coached hundreds of clients throughout my career. I was at the top of my game and making gains in the industry. Then in January of 2008, I suffered from a major back and hip injury and my whole world turned upside down.
If you've ever suffered from a traumatic injury or struggled with a disease, then you can probably relate to how scary it is when your body stops working the way it's supposed to. Throughout my years as a nutrition coach, I've worked with hundreds of clients that have struggled with illness and injury far worse than I ever have; from cancer to lengthy and debilitating surgeries. Until I lost my health, I never understood what my clients went through. I could sympathize, just never empathize until it happened to me. I look back now and it amazes me how strong some of my clients were to overcome all that they have.
A serious injury or illness changes you. It's scary, humbling and painful all at once. I went from a healthy, fit 26 year old to someone that had a hard time getting out of bed each morning. The pain was so bad it was nauseating and I stopped enjoying the little things I used to take for granted. Every day tasks like grocery shopping, clearing the dishwasher and feeding the cat became impossible. The other part of dealing with a disease or injury that's challenging? The endless visits to the doctors, the mri's, the x-rays and the fact that not even the best doctors could really tell me what was wrong. My body was atrophying and the stress was slowly killing my spirit. Add on the fact that month after month I still felt horrible, even though on paper there wasn't all that much wrong with me. I remember asking myself, "Will I ever be "me" again?"
This blog isn't all negative though. I just described the horrible part and the good news is, there's a happier ending. I'm sharing this part of my life in hopes of helping someone else get through a rough time. Whether you have a serious injury, a loss in life, a disease,hopefully somehow, someway you can learn something from my experience. Keep reading for the good part.....
Well, it's almost a year later and I can honestly say that I am getting better. I have less pain than I have for years which is nice to say the least. This experience has changed my attitude as well. I no longer take life for granted. I'm grateful everyday for the wonderful people in my life. I realize I no longer have to be the fittest person in the room in order to be happy. I'm more accepting of my flaws; there's worse things in the world than a little cellulite. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff. Even now, I'll hear a friend complain that they had a long day at work or got stuck in traffic and they're in an awful mood. Not me. If that's the hardest part of my day then I consider myself lucky. It was a year long road to get here but I am grateful for the experience. I took the long road to get here but in alot of ways it was worth it.
Like I mentioned I've learned alot along the way, some things that I believe can really help someone out there who is struggling. Here's some of the ways, the thoughts, the things I've done or learned that helped me get to my happier ending.
1. Find the right experts to deal with your condition. For me, a regular physical therapist provided no relief and only made me worse. After careful research and the recommendation of a great orthopedic, I found a physical therapist who specializes in myofascial release. The weekly therapy working on my fascia and the muscular and postural imbalances have made all the difference. I learned that even severe skeletal issues may be helped by myofascial release and surgery can often times be avoided. If your suffering, I recommend doing a google search on a myofascial release specialist in your area- they truly are miracle workers.
2. Take other's suggestions with a grain of salt. Alot of people would say careless things to me without meaning to like, "take some tylenol and get some rest. You'll be better in no time." Or my personal favorite; "just don't think about it". I know that these people mean well and care about me and until your in a situation like this it's impossible to know the right thing to say to someone who is struggling. So when someone I love says something so thoughtless, I no longer get angry. I smile and say, "that's a great suggestion, thanks" (even if it's the worst piece of advice I've ever heard!).
3. You have to believe you'll get through it. If you've ever struggled with a serious loss, injury or illness you think you'll never get out of the blackhole. And if you keep thinking this way, you won't. I realized six months into my injury that I had to believe I was going to get better. And after a while, day by day, I slowly did.
4. Record your successes. I have days even now when I am so frustrated because I can only walk for 35 minutes versus the hour long intense cardio workouts I used to do. I've learned that by recording the good stuff like, "I have less pain today than 3 months ago." or "I can walk 35 minutes now instead of 10 minutes like before" or "I am getting stronger", I have something to look at as a measure. So when I'm feeling sorry for myself, I'll break out my little notebook with my successes in it and remind myself of the progress I've made. These little successes keep me going!
5. Accept where you are at this very minute. This advice was given to me by my physical therapist and I value and respect what she has to say. Not only has she seen the worst injuries, she's also struggled with a major injury herself. She's taught me that accepting where I am and how I feel at this very minute is healthier than asking myself, "Why aren't I 100% yet?" or "When will I be 100%?".
6. Find activities you enjoy that don't cause you pain. When I'm in pain and everyone else is out and about pain free, I have found that I need something to keep busy that I truly enjoy. For me that's reading a great book, playing with my new kitten, or watching a re-run of Sex and the City or Sopranos. Sometimes it's as simple as having a cup of tea. By having some go-to activities that I can do even in pain, it helps to take my mind off of my injury.
7. Don't let the fear rule your life. Prior to my injury, I drove too fast, I lifted weights too heavy and I thought nothing bad could happen to me. Clearly I was wrong! After I got hurt, I went in the other direction; I became fearful of getting hurt so much that I avoided living my life. This obviously was not the answer either. Balance has always been a struggle for me in day to day life; I'm usually all or nothing, but this experience has taught me to find the balance. No, I should not try to squat in the gym right now, but yes, adding an extra 5 minutes on to my cardio routine might be something I can handle (and a new success to record!).
So I've walked down a long, long road and I've come out a stronger, kinder, lighter person on the other end. I hope my experience can help someone out there to get through their pain a better person as well.
Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
You know how busy your mornings can be. You eat a fast breakfast, get in a sweat busting workout, shower, dress and just barely get to work on time. And if you have a family to get out the door, your mornings are probably twice as challenging. When you finally get to work you realize you don’t have any healthy meals packed for the day. “Oh well”, you think. I’ll get a salad at lunch and eat when I get home. But what happens when you skip your mid morning and mid-afternoon snack? What happens if you don’t get a balanced lunch? Skipping meals and snacks can only lead to one thing……a ride on the very unpleasant blood sugar roller coaster. Which means a energy crashes, sugar cravings and fat storage; not exactly what your looking for to get you through a busy work day. The good news is it’s easy to eat well at work with a little know-how and preparation. Whether your in meetings all day or are a travelling road warrior, anyone can do it! Here’s how.
Tip #1- Prepare the night before for the next day. Every night, my most successful clients take just 5 minutes to pack a lunch and two quick snacks (one for mid-morning, one for mid-afternoon) for the next day. Some of my clients make it their ritual to pack their lunch the minute they get home from work, others prep after dinner. Either way, packing the night before is one of the best habits you can make. This way in the morning, there’s no worries. You just grab and go!
Tip#2- Have the right food on hand. The next time your at the market, ask yourself what lunch and snack items would work for your busy day. Do you sit at a cubicle and have the liberty to enjoy a more filling snack mid-morning and afternoon, or do you need something that you can munch on discreetly and finish within minutes? Do you have access to a fridge at work or would purchasing a small cooler to store under your desk work for you? Is there a microwave you can use for lunch? Asking yourself these important questions can help you to prepare successfully for your day.
Some easy snack ideas:
-Protein bars (can be eaten very quickly and discreetly!)
-protein powder in a shake cup with some water, a side of fruit and nuts
-string cheese and fruit
-cottage cheese, fruit and nuts (pre-mixed the night before)
-Fage Greek Yogurt Parfait (see your Recipe tab, pre-mixed the night before)
-a quick turkey and avocado or turkey and cheese wrap
Quick tip: For creative lunch ideas, purchase containers with lids such as gladware so you can pack leftovers from dinner or even salads with chicken for example. This way, the options are endless. If you made turkey meatballs with sauce for the week, they would make a great lunch. Just pack in your gladware the night before and go! And of course a sandwich or wrap is always an excellent choice.
Tip #3- Fit proof your work environment, just in case! Even if you are always in the habit of packing the right stuff the night before, life can get in the way. If you ever forget to pack or run out of food at home, it’s a good idea to keep a few items on hand at work.
Protein bars are easy to store and don’t require refrigeration. Keep a few at your desk and in your purse or briefcase. If you do have a fridge at work, keep fruit and string cheese there for last minute snacks. Also, protein powder, fruit and nuts are easy and can be stored at your desk at work.
With the right preparation and mind set, it’s simple to get in your balanced meals and snacks even at work. Just use the 3 tips above and I guarantee your eating habits at work will improve!
One of our members recently wrote into us for help regarding her snacking and giving into cravings at night. Read on to learn how we helped Stacey to get back on track.
"I have been eating well and following my plan, but I find myself snacking on things I shouldn’t at night. I do so well during the day and then night time comes around and I start reaching for cookies, icecream, whatever is around! I included what a typical day of eating looks like for me for your review. Please help!" - Stacey
Wake up - 6:30 am
Meal 1 - 9:00 am - protein smoothie with fruit, pro-complete protein powder and peanut butter
Meal 2 - 1:30 - Lunch at work- typically a turkey sandwich on wheat with lettuce, tomato, onion and fat free mustard
Meal 3 - 4:30 - ½ protein bar before the gym
Workout – 5:30-6:30
Meal 4 - 7:30-8:00 - Dinner with the family- Chicken or fish cooked in a little olive oil with veggies and brown rice or sweet potato
9:30 pm and on - ...whatever I can get my hands on!
11:00 pm - Bed!
First off, congratulations on eating well and working your personal plan into your busy lifestyle. Between work, the gym and your family, we know it can be a challenge at times! After reviewing your typical day worth of meals , I have found a few reasons as to why you are extra hungry and craving sweets at night! The good news is, you already have a great game plan that works for you and the minor adjustments I would like for you to make will be very simple for you to do. Oh yeah… and I want you to eat more, not less!
Before we get into that- let’s talk a little bit about “cravings”. In my experience, there are two different types of cravings: Mental/Emotional and Physical. Let me give you an example. Mental/ Emotional cravings are like when you go out to eat and you’ve already had your dinner and you honestly don’t think you could eat another bite of food. But then the dessert cart rolls out and you see a beautiful piece of cheesecake, and think, “Why not?”. Physical cravings are different. This is when you are physically hungry, maybe tired or a little dizzy, and physically feel as though you need carbohydrates or sugar to get your energy back up. I think your struggling with physical cravings and here’s why.
First, I notice that you wake at 6:30 in the am, and don’t eat your first meal until 9:00 am. When you wake, your blood sugar is naturally low because you have been fasting all night, so it’s critical to fuel your metabolism with a balanced meal one hour within waking. So the first step for you is having your protein smoothie around 7:30 in the morning. Next step? Aim for a quick, balanced snack around 10-10:30 so your blood sugar doesn’t drop before lunch time and cause you to overeat. Something as simple as a string cheese and fruit or the other ½ of your protein bar would be perfect here. Next, your lunch sounds very healthy, and it sounds like your missing the fat in the meal. Remember, fat slows the rate of digestion and keeps you satisfied to your next meal. Without it, your blood sugar will drop and you will find yourself extra hungry at night. My recommendation is to add a few unsalted nuts with your lunch or even sliced avocado for heart healthy fat.
Next, though a ½ protein bar is balanced, you may find that you need something more substantial before the gym. A more filling snack like cottage cheese and fruit and nuts or even another ½ a sandwich will fuel you much better than the ½ protein bar. The key here is to experiment. If you find that you like the ½ bar here, go for it. You may find that just by making the adjustments you made earlier in the day, ½ bar works just fine.
Your dinner sounds fantastic- very balanced and high quality. The lesson here is what you do (or don’t do) early in the day, greatly affects how you feel (and what you eat!) later in the night. When your blood sugar is on a roller coaster, you will crave carbohydrates (sweet or savory depending on your taste buds) and feel like you “just can’t get enough”. By fixing your earlier meals, whether its by adding fat or adjusting the time schedule just a bit, you’ll find that you no longer physically crave the snacks late night. By the way, don’t forget to follow dinner with a balanced snack before bed- I like to do the greek yogurt parfait (see your Recipe tab) for a sweet treat to end the night. Good luck!
Head Chef and Nutrition Coach