Golden stuffing fresh out of the oven. Garlicky mashed potatoes swimming in butter. Sweet potato pie smothered in whipped cream. If the thought of all this mouth-watering holiday fare sends you into a panic, you’re in the right place. As Head Chef and Lead Nutrition Coach of Venice Nutrition, I’ve worked with plenty of dubious clients who just don’t seem to share my enthusiasm for the upcoming seasonal feasts. Why? Because for many, the holidays represent “inevitable” weight gain, not to mention the anxiety, fatigue and depression that tag along with it. So, is there a way to truly let go and embrace all of the joy the holidays have to offer while still fitting into your skinny jeans? Yes! Follow my holiday checklist below and I promise come January 1st, your standard “I will lose weight” resolution won’t be necessary this year.
1. First, figure out what you really want to achieve. Take a moment to jot down precise and realistic goals specific to what you wish to accomplish from now until January 1st. Here’s an example of how.
Goal: “I want to prevent gaining weight this holiday season. In order to do this while still enjoying my family, friends and the festivities, I will:
(Plan of Action)
1. Add an extra 15 minutes of cardio onto my workouts 3 times per week for the next two months.
2. Aim for at least 75 ounces of water per day by bringing a bottle of water with me to work that I can refill frequently.
3. Cut back my restaurant meals to one time per week for the next two months to make up for all the holiday extras. This means I need to make and pack my lunch the night before the next work day two extra times per week.
Whether you want to lose weight, boost your energy or simply maintain your size, your goals need to be practical to your lifestyle and schedule like the examples above (who can’t bring a water bottle with them to work or while running errands with the kids?). Bottom line: Create do-able goals along with realistic means to make them happen and you will succeed.
2. Next, check out these must-read blogs. Over the years, I’ve authored quite a few How to Survive the Holidays blogs that my clients (and me) rely on year after year. Here’s the ones that you need to prepare yourself for the next few months:
Thanksgiving: How to Stay on Course with Your Nutrition- A step-by-step plan on making confident choices while still enjoying the holidays. Find it here
Holiday Secrets from a Nutrition Coach and Chef- A must read for my fellow “all or nothing” thinkers. Learn how to let go of the excuses and the guilt for real results. Find it here.
Thanksgiving: The “Day-After” Survival Guide- An effective go-to guide perfect for the “morning after” too much food and indulgence. Find it here.
3. And finally, open your mind to the possibilities. I’m always bummed when I overhear someone say, "There's no way I can be fit over the holidays. I’ll worry about it after the first of the year.” I’m sure you can guess what happens to these cynics. They’re the ones battling an extra ten pounds each year come spring time. Living healthy isn’t something you skip for a few months. There will be times (like the holidays) when your standards are slightly lowered and you may indulge a bit more. As long as you have a “base” or health structure to fall back on, you are never too far from your goals or your goal weight. And trust me, losing an extra two pounds is a heck of a lot easier and quicker than having to lose an extra ten.
Don't have a health structure that you can rely on? Consider becoming a member of Venice Nutrition; we’ll create your entire health structure including customized meal plans, personalized exercise program and even sleep and stress help specifically for you. In addition, you’ll benefit from the ongoing support system most of us need this time of year. Learn more here.
Already a member? Consider working one on one with a Certified Nutrition Coach either by phone or a consulting center to keep you motivated all season long and take your body to that next level. Learn more here.
No matter if you want join a nutrition program or go it alone, remember the keys to succcess. Create realistic goals along with a plan, arm yourself with the correct education (and please beware of all the misinformation out there; it can really slow you down) and keep a healthy mindset. Though the holidays are wonderful, they can be quite hectic. Don't complicate them further by trying to do too much. Have a happy and healthy holiday season!
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
We all know that fruit and veggies are a vital part of a balanced diet. In fact, eating plenty of colorful produce while stabilizing your blood sugar can help you to prevent disease, improve your digestion, reverse the signs of aging and even reach your weight loss goals. Think of fruit and vegetables as edible powerhouses, jam- packed with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. So what’s preventing so many of us from getting enough? As Head Chef and Lead Nutrition Coach of Venice Nutrition, I believe that fruit and veggies have a bad "rep". After all, it’s tough to get inspired over boring carrot sticks or a plain old apple. Luckily, we’ve created countless delicious recipes full of vibrant produce in our Recipe Collection. No matter your age or health, now is the time to stock up on fruits and veggies in a creative way so you’ll actually enjoy eating them. Here is a menu of my favorite produce inspired recipes from our collection (for the full recipes and many more, check out your Recipe Tab in your online program today)
Fruit & Veggie Filled Breakfast and Snack Recipes:
Greek Yogurt Parfait- A sweet and creamy blend of high protein Greek yogurt, fresh antioxidant packed berries and nuts
Cottage Cheese Bowl- An unexpectedly delicious combo of fresh apples, peanut butter, cinnamon and vanilla sweetened cottage cheese
Western Omelet- A hearty omelet of chopped tomato, onion, bell pepper, lean ham and melted cheddar
Banana Pineapple Smoothie- A tropical smoothie blended with fresh pineapple, banana, milk and protein powder
Fruit and Veggie Filled Lunch, Dinners and Sides:
Boca Burgers with Roasted Veggies and Garlic Herb Sauce- A classic soy burger with roasted red peppers, sweet onions, tomato, arugula and melted cheese topped with a homemade garlic and herb sauce
Zesty Shrimp Salad- A delicious blend of diced mango, red onion, corn, greens and grilled shrimp with a citrus honey lime dressing
Turkey Veggie Meat Sauce – A hearty meat sauce made of lean ground turkey, portabella mushrooms, spinach and yellow bell peppers
Pork Tenderloin with Butternut Squash and Apples- Lean pork tenderloin smothered in fruit juice and pungent garlic then roasted with hearty butternut squash and sweet apples
Vegetable Salsa- A zesty salsa of corn, black beans, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, perfect for topping your favorite protein
Sweet Potato Soup- A thick and creamy soup of sweet potatoes, apples and carrots simmered to perfection
Fruit Filled Desserts:
Sweet Stuffed Apples – A delectable dessert of warm, juicy apples baked with a walnut, oat, sugar and butter stuffing
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt- A cold, creamy frozen yogurt full of strawberries and good-for-you protein
As you can see, incorporating more fruit and veggies into your daily diet can be easy, delicious and anything but boring. And remember, we are always updating our collection of recipes and we invite you to check your Recipe Tab often!
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
By now you know how much we love summer. There’s nothing quite like cooking out with family and friends, taking your workout outdoors and showing off those hard earned muscles under the summer sun. Unfortunately, it’s also our least favorite time of year to spend in a sweltering kitchen! Don’t want to slave over the oven? No problem, fall back on these quick and tasty meal ideas instead…..
Low fat cottage cheese- with real berries, pineapple or any fruit (without added sugar) is quick and light enough for a summer snack, breakfast or lunch.
Greek Yogurt Parfait - Still haven’t tried this one? Check it out under your recipe tab. We promise, you won’t be disappointed! Bonus: Double up the recipe to have plenty on hand for the week.
Lean turkey roll up on a low carbohydrate, whole wheat wrap- Go ahead and load it up with anything you’ve got in the fridge- tomatoes, lettuce, hummus, onions, olives, roasted red peppers, salad fixings, etc. Add some sliced avocado for delicious, heart healthy fat.
Salad topped with tuna, cottage cheese, turkey or pre-cooked chicken. The summer is the perfect time to get creative with your salads. Layer your favorite greens with veggies, chopped or dried fruit, toasted nuts, light dressing and some protein and you’ve got a colorful meal in minutes.
A Protein and Fruit Smoothie is an ideal way to cool down this summer and get a big dose of calcium, fiber, and powerful antioxidants. Even better, having a smoothie a day can help ward off cravings for other high calorie summer time treats like ice cream. Blend low fat milk or soymilk (try Lactaid if your lactose intolerant) with fruit (bananas and berries for example), some “good” fat like peanut butter, nuts, or ground flax seed, with your favorite protein powder (whey or soy) and ice until smooth. Our favorite combo: banana, strawberries, natural peanut butter, vanilla protein powder, 1% low fat milk and ice all swirled together in a blender….delicious!
Want more ideas? Check out your Recipe Tab! Each recipe in our collection is specifically designed to be balanced, delicious, FAST and EASY! And the majority of recipes can be made in bulk and even frozen for meals later on (which fits in nicely with your busy summer). How about Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad or BBQ Shrimp Kebobs? Sure, some of these recipes will require cooking but if you take the time to cook in bulk once or twice this week, you can make enough food to last you for days. Give it a shot and your summer might just get a whole lot easier!
Enjoy your summer. And feel free to drop us a line about your FAST and favorite summer time meals….we’d love to hear from you!
The Venice Nutrition Team
Becoming a Certified Nutritionist has many benefits in both the Health and Fitness world as well as the Corporate World.
With the Venice Nutrition Certification Course you can legally coach clients anywhere in the US. Many other countries may also use this Nutrition Certification; we recommend checking with the guidelines for your specific Country.
Our Certified Nutrition Coaches use their certificates in many ways. Here is a list of some of them:
1. One-on-One in person nutrition consulting with clients. Venice Nutrition offers all the tools necessary to build clients customized meal plans to meet their personal preferences and goals. This is all done through our online nutrition software program.
2. Long Distance phone coaching to reach a broader audience. Our customized software system can be used for this as well.
3. If you are a personal trainer and are not looking to add a nutrition consulting practice to your business, you can use the Nutrition Certificate simply to have the ability to Legally give nutrition advice to clients.
4. If you are a health professional such as a chiropractor, pilates instructor, personal trainer, etc... and have your own private office/studio, you can get team members certified and add nutrition consulting as an additional service to best serve your clientele. It's also a great way to increase revenue for your company.
5. Many of our Coaches work in the Corporate World doing everything from 1 hour presentations to full year long retainer programs. We offer all the tools and training necessary to get this started as well. This information is available inside of the Venice Nutrition Coaches Network which will be accessible to you once you purchase the nutrition certification course. To learn more about the types of presentations we offer small companies and large corporations alike please visit our Workplace Wellness website.
6. Many of our Coaches also like to do presentation within their communities, places such as high schools, churches, sport specific clubs, etc...
There are many things you can do and accomplish by earning your Nutrition Certificate. For more details please visit our Health Professionals Division website.
Chief Operations Officer
Venice Nutrition LLC
On occasion, I like nothing more than a sweetened glass of cold iced tea or hot mug of coffee. What I don’t like is “drinking” my calories. If there’s a way to impart sweetness without spiking my blood sugar, I’m all for it. I recently had the pleasure of trying Truvia, the newest “real” sweetener made from the stevia plant, to hit the market. I was pleasantly surprised; Truvia was naturally sweet, blended perfectly with my cup of Vanilla and Pomegranate tea and had no aftertaste (really). I decided to share my research on what makes Truvia stand out from the crowd of sugar-free sweeteners.
According to truvia.com, truvia trumps other natural sweeteners made from stevia, because it’s made from rebiana, “the best tasting part of the stevia leaf”. Truvia is calorie free with no effect on the glycemic index, making it a fantastic choice for diabetics and people like me who stabilize their blood sugar for optimal health. Truvia is tasty stirred in your favorite beverage, sprinkled on fruit and can even be used in baking. One packet equals 2 teaspoons of pure sugar (without the sugar spike and calories of course).
All in all, Truvia is a naturally tasty way to add some guilt free sweetness to your life. For more info, check out http://www.truvia.com
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
Everyone knows that a walk or jog outdoors on a beautiful summer day is so much more exciting than pounding it out on the treadmill. But if you’ve ever felt a little woozy or suffered from heat exhaustion afterwards, then you know how tough the blazing sun can be on your body. What you might not realize is how risky it can be too. In fact, prolonged or excessive exercise in the sun is one of the leading causes of heat stroke, a dangerous combo of exhaustion, muscle cramps and dehydration that can lead to shock, brain damage, organ failure and even death.
The good news is you don’t need to give up your favorite summer exercise; you just need to be smart about how you do it. Here are a few pointers to stay safe this summer.
- Stay hydrated. If you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated. It’s wise to drink plenty of water throughout the day leading up to your workout and bring water with you during your workout. If you’re an endurance athlete and exercising for long amounts of time outdoors, a low sugar sports drink with electrolytes can help to keep you hydrated and balanced.
- Don’t overdress! Wear loose fitting active wear, preferably made of moisture wick fabric.
- Check with your doctor if you’re on meds. Certain medications can make you more likely to suffer from heat related illnesses.
- Take breaks in the shade and workout in the shade if possible.
- Don’t forget sunscreen- aim for a waterproof version with an SPF of at least 30. Remember, an SPF of 30 will protect your skin in the sun for 30 minutes…plan accordingly.
- A hat and sunglasses are your best friends in the heat.
- Listen to your body. If you feel any exhaustion, muscle cramping, fatigue, excess thirst, headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea or start sweating more than usual, stop your workout immediately and get help.
Here’s to a beautiful, healthy summer!
The Venice Nutrition Team
*info derived from myoptumhealth.com and healthline.com
If you’ve already mastered choosing high quality and balanced meals off of the menu while at a restaurant, you’re on the right track! Doing so will stabilize blood sugar levels and allow you to burn fat while feeling you’re best.
So why are you still bloated after a “healthy” meal? What you may not realize is that despite your best intentions of eating “clean”, restaurant meals typically contain much higher amounts of salt than what you are used to eating at home. A high sodium meal causes water retention which results in bloating, particularly in the abdominal area.
How can you beat the bloat while still enjoying your favorite restaurant meals? In addition to choosing balanced meals and watching your portion sizes, ask your server to request that your order is prepared “light on the salt” or with “no salt added at all”. Most chefs are used to personal dietary requests and are happy to comply.
The Venice Nutrition Team
As a Venice Nutrition Coach for many years, I’m all for trying anything that promotes a healthier, fitter body. Yet, whenever anyone attempted to persuade me to try yoga, I was skeptical. After all, I’ve always been that girl in the gym sweating it out, lifting ridiculously heavy weights and sprinting until my hips ached, silently telling myself, “no pain, no gain”. I looked good but felt fatigued, sore and unbalanced. Regardless, I kept living by my motto until I actually got hurt in the gym. I mean really hurt. This pain was certainly not worth any gains I’d ever achieved. My injuries were so bad, I had to stop all of my workouts and start extensive physical therapy. Without realizing it, a lot of the strengthening and stretching moves that my physical therapists recommended to heal my muscle imbalances, core weakness and misaligned back and hips, were actual yoga moves. It was time for me to change my ways and most importantly my way of thinking. It was time to create a healthy body, mind and soul.
Though I’m very much a “newbie” to yoga and I’ve only lightly scratched the surface of all that it has to offer, I’m tremendously grateful that yoga has become a part of my life. I’m also completely astounded at the seemingly infinite list of benefits that yoga has to offer. My research felt endless simply because the facts just kept piling up!
What intrigues me most about yoga is that it’s a great workout for the body and for the mind. And despite popular notion, it’s not all about twisting your body into a pretzel! Ask any seasoned yogi why they love yoga so much and chances are they’ll admit to being absolutely addicted to the mind/body connection and the mental clarity they feel after they practice. The way their body feels (and looks) because of regular yoga practice seems to be just an added bonus. Do I think that every well rounded workout includes resistance training and cardiovascular exercise? Yes. But throughout my own experiences and extensive research, I now firmly believe that a balanced workout routine should include yoga too. Here’s why (just a heads up...you are about to be very pleasantly surprised):
1. Increase your strength. Don’t believe it? Try holding a yoga pose in perfect alignment. I'm willing to bet you'll shocked at how challenging a workout it can be. On another note, there are so many forms and levels of yoga that it can easily be adapted for beginners (read: no contorting your body into a pretzel) all the way to advanced students.
2. Increase your flexibility. Stretching the body safely and moving gently from pose to pose is fantastic for mobility and releases lactic acid build up that causes pain, tension and fatigue.
3. Increase lubrication of your joints, ligaments and tendons.
4. Increase your muscle tone. Muscles that are weak (there are so many neglected muscles that are hardly worked throughout your regular day or exercise routine) are used extensively as you move through a series of yoga poses.
5. Increase your core strength. Yoga can help you to develop deep core strength because the majority of the poses rely on those core muscles.
6. Improve your posture. Increased strength, flexibility and body awareness can help you to improve your posture in both standing and sitting positions.
7. Improve your energy levels and awaken the mind.
8. Relieve chronic pain (such as neck, joint or back pain). A seasoned yoga instructor or therapist can help you adapt postures to avoid further injury and release tight muscles, strengthen weaknesses and re-align imbalances.
9. Help you to avoid injury by keeping the body mobile and strong.
10. Promote circulation.
11. Improve your lung capacity and respiratory health through deep breathing exercises. This can also be a very powerful benefit for athletes who wish to improve their endurance levels.
12. Improve your outlook on aging by making you look and feel younger.
13. Help you relax and handle challenging situations more effectively.
14. Can encourage self acceptance and positive thinking.
15. Drastically improve your stress levels and help you to feel a sense of calm. Yoga practice includes meditation which teaches you how to ignore the endless “mind chatter” that leads to stress. The result is also biochemical; practicing yoga decreases stress hormones.
16. Reduce your depression and increase your happiness.
17. Increase your focus
18. Lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate, and especially help those with hypertension, heart disease or stroke.
19. Boost your immune system function.
20. Decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels
21. Increase your body awareness, which helps you to correct your posture or alignment. This awareness allows you to gain the most benefits and prevent injury during other workouts and even throughout your everyday movements.
22. Help alleviate medical conditions such as asthma, insomnia and arthritis. Research in the US is still being done on this topic, but medical researchers are hopeful and suggesting therapeutic yoga as a form of treatment for sufferers.
23. Help with learning and memory. Some studies are suggesting improvement in these areas with regular yoga practice.
As you can see, the benefits of yoga are vast and quite powerful! Anyone, no matter their age, lifestyle, goals, or limitations has something wonderful to gain from practicing yoga. If you are interested in incorporating yoga into your lifestyle, I would recommend finding a beginners or foundation class to get started. Always make sure to let your instructor know of any health challenges or injuries you may have so he or she can modify the poses to best suit your needs.
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
*info derived from healthandyoga.com, spine-health.com and webmd.com
One of the most frequent requests we receive from our members are tips on how to stay focused on their goals during the weekend. Why is it so much simpler to stay on course Monday through Friday? More than likely your work week is typically more structured and follows some sort of routine. After all, the weekends are usually hectic, less scheduled and packed full of activities you just didn’t have time for during the busy work week. Add on the Saturday night dinner out with friends for cocktails, food and fun, and you see how easy it is to fall off track. Even though your weekends are jam packed, you can still easily stay true to your personal goals without investing a lot of time or effort. Here’s how.
1. Take the time to journal your meals, timing, water, supplements, and exercise for two weekends in a row. Then take a few moments to identify where your falling off track…you’ll notice that the challenges you are having are consistent weekend to weekend. Once you are aware of where you might be going wrong, it’s time to create a solution. For example, are you going too long without meals during the weekend days because of endless errands and plain forgetfulness? Pack a protein bar in your purse or car so you never skip a meal. Are you running out of healthy choices by Saturday and relying on whatever’s lying around? Make an adjustment in the amount of food you cook in bulk for the week, such as adding a few extra chicken breasts or more veggies to have on hand…. If it’s there, you are more likely to eat it!
2. Make the time to exercise at least one day over the weekend. Many people like to work hard and work out hard Monday through Friday and then take the entire weekend off. The better choice is to pick at least one day over the weekend for some kind of exercise, particularly one you enjoy if you have been incredibly active all week long. It could be as simple as playing a game of golf, taking a power walk or even a yoga class. If your body is sore and fatigued because of a strenuous week, aim for a calming activity like yoga or a walk. And always take the time to stretch, even on your off days. The extra day of activity will help to keep your metabolism pumping and your body limber and mobile. It’s also the perfect motivation to keep up other healthy habits all weekend long.
3. Plan your “off” meal. Notice we said off meal and not off day! It’s a misconception to think that taking an entire day or weekend to eat whatever you’d like is okay even if you’ve eaten well all week. Doing so only leads to erratic blood sugar levels, moodiness, and ultimately fat storage. You’ll also notice that an entire day or weekend of indulging in unhealthy food will cause you to want to eat unhealthy for days after due to unstable blood sugar levels. And this makes it so much more challenging to get back on track on Monday. So what’s the solution? Plan an entire “off” meal where you can indulge in anything you’d like. Just make sure that you’ve eaten balanced meals all day leading up to the “off” meal and you get right back on track at the following meal to re-stabilize blood sugar levels.
We know how important your weekends are to you. Taking the time to relax and enjoy is a critical component of a balanced lifestyle. Following the above strategies will keep you on track towards reaching your goals without taking up your entire weekend. Here’s to a fun and healthy weekend!
If you’re stabilizing you’re blood sugar, then you know how important it is to get complete protein every three to four hours. One of the ways to help make that more convenient is to use deli meat as your source of protein for one of your daily meals. Here is what to look for to make sure you and you’re family are eating the healthiest deli meat possible:
- Choose whole, oven-roasted then sliced deli meat in place of pre-packaged, processed, formed or section meats.
- Stick to lean turkey breast, chicken breast, and roast beef. Avoid beerwurst, bologna, pepper loaf, olive oil, capocolla, corned beef, liverwurst, pastrami, proscuitto, salami and pepperoni.
- Aim for low sodium products
- Avoid any products with fillers, gluten, artificial colors and trans fats
Info from boarshead.com