Monday, February 24, 2014

Making a Habit

Hi everyone! Hope you're having a great week!! I've been thinking a lot about habits lately. Maybe it's the fact that I'm about to partake in motherhood and it seems like routine and habits are going to be a crucial part of that for me. Needless to say, it's lit a fire under my butt to really start getting with the program in my personal and professional  life. defines a habit as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. Whoa, that last part really cuts deep for me. There's a lot of things that I would love to pretend are a habit... but honestly, there's probably few positive or healthy things that I would find hard to give up. Personally, I believe habits are the key to a healthy and happy life. Even the most spontaneous person has to admit to liking some sort of routine in their life. 

I've noticed how different habits have started forming in my life and am seriously learning to appreciate them. For example... nothing makes you realize how much of a slob you are until you marry the world's biggest neat freak. Seriously, my husband makes our bed EVERY SINGLE DAY. Clutter annoys the crap out of him... me, I can live with it. But, in order to keep the peace at my house I realized I better get in the habit of cleaning up after myself. So, I started a daily chore chart. Yep, that's right... I'm like a five year old. But guess what, my house looks great. You can come over unexpectedly and it will be clean. I quickly realized that taking 30 minutes every day to clean something saves hours of frustration and headache when we're having company annnnnnnnd my husband is a much happier person when our house is organized. I'm hoping since this has become a habit that after the baby arrives it will continue... I'll let you know how that goes haha.

Here's what I've learned: if you want to see results you better make it a habit. Anyone can workout and eat healthy for two weeks... but that's probably not going to give you the bikini bod you've always wanted. Point being, when I decided nutrition was going to be my career path I made a commitment to start working out and eating better on a regular basis. I'd say over the years those things have become a habit. I don't always like doing them, but I notice how out of whack I feel when I don't do them. I think that's what making something a habit truly is... you notice when you don't do it. Something doesn't feel quite right. 

So, how do you make a habit? How hard can it be?! Truth is, it takes some work in beginning. Here's some tricks that really worked for me:

  • Commit to 30 days: Consistency is key!
  • Remind Yourself: Write it down! Sticky notes, planners, or the calendar in your phone should be your best friend
  • Get Accountability: If you want to make the gym a habit, get a gym buddy. Want to make healthy eating a habit? Tell your roommate or significant other to help keep you accountable
  • Remove the Guilt: Don't expect yourself to be perfect. All good things take time, if you fall off the horse... just get right back on and keep moving forward. 
  • Set up Goals & Rewards: Writing down your goals is so underrated! Write them down, stick them on your fridge where you'll see them every day and reward yourself when you meet them! 

Ready for the challenge? Find one thing that you can make a habit in the next 30 days. That's it... just one tiny, little thing. When your thirty days are up let us know how it went! Heck, you can let us know before the 30 days what you're doing if you need the accountability. It doesn't have to be nutrition related, start wherever you want.... just start!

Good luck my fellow habit makers! 


Monday, February 17, 2014

Meal Planning

Hey everyone! Hope you're having a great week. I decided this week was worthy of talking about meal planning. Maybe it's not the most fun topic, but in my opinion it's probably one of the most important keys to a healthy diet. I know… you don't have time to meal plan, right? Well, honestly… you don't have time to NOT meal plan. Seriously, if you sit down for 10-15 minutes once a week and plan out your eating it saves you tons of time in the end, and probably tons of calories too. Your sanity and your waistline will thank you. 

I'm going to give you the bare bone basics here. If you really wanted to, you could take it and run with it. Meal planning can be as complex or as simple as you want. Whatever fits your lifestyle works just fine… just as long as you're planning something. 

Here's what my meal planning looks like: I go grocery shopping usually on Tuesdays (why that day? well… giving away my secret might backfire, but I find that it's the least crowded day). Before heading to the store I gather my shopping list. I've tried to get my husband and I into the habit of adding to the list when we use the last of something. It makes it a lot easier on me to not have to scan the fridge, pantry and bathroom to see what we are out of.  

With my list in hand I hit the cookbooks/pinterest/internet and decide on some recipes for dinners. We typically plan for 5-6 dinners at home a week and I try to pick recipes where I already have some of the ingredients at hand. Once I've picked out what we are having for dinner I add what I need to the list and turn my thoughts to lunch and snacks. Once all of that is figured out I head out. This really only takes about 10-15 minutes. I'm super nerdy and I carry a day planner at all times. I usually add the name of the recipe to each day on my calendar that I plan on making it so I don't forget. 

Once my grocery shopping is complete I do a little meal prepping with my groceries. I clean my produce, pre-cook some chicken breasts, and try to cook some quinoa or rice that I can stick in some tuperware in the fridge. Why do I do all this? For one, it makes packing lunch for my husband a breeze. Secondly, on those days where I'm just too tired to cook… I already have half of the work done for me. It leaves me with no excuse to go and pick up something quick and unhealthy. 

See? It's painless! It takes a little bit of getting into a routine, but once you get it down you'll be so glad you started. If you think planning 5-6 dinners is a little too overwhelming, start with 3-4. You could even make a little extra and plan on having some leftovers. Another incentive to add… it makes my grocery shopping trips way quicker. I can go straight to the aisles I need and ignore the ones I don't. I've become a pro at navigating my grocery store. One day I'm going to bring a bicycle horn so I can honk at the people who stop their carts in the middle of the aisles trying to slow me down. So, 10-15 minutes upfront to save you lots of time, energy and calories later?! Maybe I'm silly, but I totally think it's worth it. 

Feel free to email me with questions about my process or where I find recipe ideas. Also, feel free to chime in with the ideas and tips that have worked for you! 

Until next time,


Monday, February 10, 2014

Protein Powder Basics

Recently in meeting with clients I've been asked a lot about protein powders and how to choose a good one. As a woman navigating the aisles of a health food store where some guy with huge muscles is trying to hit on you and up-sale you a billion things, I totally get the struggle. It's kind of like buying a car, better to do some research and know what you're looking at before you take the salesman's word for it. 

First of all, lets talk about why you might even want to consider including protein powders into your every day menu planning. Gym rats looooove their protein powders if you haven't noticed. Why is that? Well, protein is important when it comes to muscle recovery after a workout. Not only that, it helps maintain and promote healthy weight, build your immune system, and even plays a role in hormone production. Click here to read a previous post with all the basics on protein. 

Here's an important key to protein powders: They should be enhancing your protein experience, not taking away from it. What I mean by that is that the bulk of your daily protein intake should come from whole food sources (lean meats, dairy products, nuts, beans, etc). Protein powder should be a supplement to your intake. It's a good on-the-go way to add a little more protein without adding extra fat or carbs. 

If you go to the store, you'll find a million different powders and kinds of powders and then even more complex versions of each powder. It honestly gets really confusing. So what do you really need to know to make a good decision?  First rule of thumb, not all powders are created equal. There's a couple of different ways these powders are divided…. 

Animal Source vs. Vegetable Source: Hopefully the difference between these two is glaringly obvious. One comes from animals, the other from plants. Animal sources include milk proteins like whey and casein or egg white protein. Veggie sources include things like soy, rice, pea and even hemp.

Concentrate vs. Isolate: Concentrated means the non-protein parts have been removed. That means you'll get a powder that's 70-85% pure protein. Isolation removes even more of the non-protein parts, leaving you with a powder that is up to 95% pure. In both cases the rest of the protein is comprised of carbs and fat. What would make you choose one over the other? Well, for one… price. Isolates are a little more expensive because they require more processing. However, they do have more protein per serving. It just depends on what your goals are. My recommendation? For the average gym goer a concentrate will work just fine. 

Complete vs. Incomplete: If you read the post in the link earlier in this post you know the difference between complete and incomplete proteins. The really short version is that complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids and incomplete proteins do not. 

So now that we know the basic categories lets dive into some of the more popular types. Also, now is a good time to mention that you'll also see a couple different types of flavors or sweeteners used within each category. They range from no flavors or sweeteners, artificial flavors and sweeteners, natural flavors and sweeteners, or a combo of the last two. 

Whey Protein
Whey is the watery part of milk that remains in the cheese making process. You'll have no problem finding this type of protein at any store. It's quickly absorbed by the body which makes it great for post-workout recovery. It's fairly inexpensive and it's a complete protein. The downside is that you'll find lactose in it… which can mean lots of gas for some of you lactose intolerant readers. The other downside is that some of the really yummy flavors it comes in also means artificial sweeteners and chemicals. 

Casein Protein
Casein is the main protein present in milk. It's benefits are similar to whey protein... except that you digest it slower. That being said, it's not ideal for a post-workout supplement. A couple of downsides is that it's more expensive than whey powders and can have a lot of artificial ingredients to make it taste better. 

Egg Protein
Egg protein comes from wet noodles. Just kidding… making sure you're still paying attention. Egg protein comes from eggs, specifically the egg whites. It's a complete protein that's rich in vitamins and minerals. However, this protein is one of the most expensive ones on the market. Also, if you're allergic to eggs, this isn't the supplement for you. 

Soy Protein
Protein from soy beans may help with your immune system and even bone health. It's also one of the few plant based proteins that is considered complete. It's a great choice if you're on a more plant based diet. The downside is that a lot of soy is genetically modified… this may or may not bother you. I'll leave it up to you to decide. 

Rice Protein
Not only does rice protein powder have protein, but it also includes a good source of complex carbs, B vitamins and even fiber. Downside is that it's not a complete protein… but if you're looking for a good hypoallergenic option, this could be the powder for you. 

Pea Protein
Pea protein has become a rising star in the protein world. It's hypoallergenic, vegan friendly and has few additives or artificial ingredients. It's a great choice for those looking for a protein powder closest to the whole food source. The downside is that it's not a complete protein. 

Hemp Protein
This superfood has a great mix of essential fatty acids (aka aids in brain function) and a great fiber content. It's also a complete protein, hypoallergenic, and vegan friendly. Sounds great, right? There is a downside (womp, womp) it's often the most expensive protein powder you can buy. 

As you can see, the protein powder world is pretty vast. Hopefully now you feel a little better equipped to navigate those aisles… you may even teach those health store workers a thing or two. Another thing to keep in mind is you get what you pay for. Low cost proteins usually mean artificial ingredients and inexpensive blends. If you suffer from bloat or a tummy ache after drinking your protein powder, it may not be the type of protein… it could be that your tummy has more expensive taste and that cheap protein blend isn't cutting it.   

Have more questions about protein and powders? E-mail me, I'm happy to help you out!

Thanks for reading!