Did you know that the more you talk about a problem the more likely you are to stay fixated on the problem?
And the more you talk about change, the more likely you are to actually change.
Ever since high school I noticed that I wasn't built like many of my friends. I had a short torso a wide waist and narrow hips. I've gone back through old journals where I lament to my boyfriend at the time about my strange shape (and he agreed with me!) Sometimes I wish I could go back and hug 16 year old me and tell her not to worry. It didn't stop when I got out of high school and it carried on for years. My rolls, my stomach, I obsessed over them. If only I had wider hips, if only I had different genetics and this went on and on.
I see it with my clients often. They look in the mirror at the gym and take stock in their flaws.
"These saddlebags off of my hips are gross".
"Ugh, I hate this roll in my stomach."
"I missed my workout yesterday, I'm so lazy".
First of all it saddens me to know that we're picking ourselves apart like this. It causes so much stress and it doesn't help anything. By continuing to focus on what's "wrong" we can never move forward. It's like "Inception" when Leonardo DiCaprio's character ends up back in the same place with every dream meanwhile frustrating the hell out of everyone around him. Your supposed flaws, that's Mal, telling you to stay in the nightmare of self-consciousness and self loathing. You're "incepting" yourself.
So how the heck do you move on, start actually taking action and making a change?
First of all, it helps to look at the meaning behind the words. You're saying you hate your love handles or saddlebags but what does that really mean?
Well, Jen, it means that I'm fat and gross, right? Yes, and it probably means you're a terrible person too. I'M KIDDING! I don't really know what it means but I can take a few guesses and you can dig a little deeper to find out what it means for you.
Sometimes it helps to skip ahead to the person without said supposed flaws. What's she like? She's probably, happy, confident and healthy. She doesn't waste her time worrying about her body because she's too busy living her life.
On the surface, you're focused on changing your appearance, but really it's out of a desperate desire to FEEL differently. Once you've visited your future self, focus on the changes that you could make to become that woman. If you pass the mirror in the process, resist the urge to be mean to present you. You can cheer present you on, or you can turn your ass around and go find something more productive to do.
Remember, the longer you sit there staring at what you don't like about yourself the longer it'll take to change.
Focusing on the problem = stagnation
Focusing on actions and change = progress
Easier said than done, right? It's true, these changes are simple but not easy. Start by being aware of when you're fixating on a problem. Whenever you notice it happening, pivot and think about what changes you'd like to make.
Too tired to go to the gym? Focus on getting more sleep by making sure you put your phone away 1 hour before bed.
Don't like the way your clothes fit? Maybe it's time to address foods that might be leaving you feeling bloated or maybe it's time to buy clothes that suit your body type well or both.
That's all I have for you today. Go forth and kick some butt!
I have to admit, sometimes I'm embarrassed to work in the fitness world. Many of the messages put out there by other fitness professionals although well intended are quite frankly fucking with people. It's a slippery slope because we're here to help people and in order to let them know we can help, we point out their flaws and play to their fears. Often we make the mistake of assuming that clients want/need to lose weight. As I've trained more and more people and reflected on my own struggles I've come to realize most people want to FEEL better and that may or may not mean dropping body fat. Recently I saw an Instagram post from a local gym that got me all fired up.
It was an infographic titled "WHY DROP 10-15 POUNDS". Reasons included:
1. You'll move better
2. You'll feel more confident about yourself
3. You'll have more energy to do the things you like
4. It's better for your joints and bones
5. You'll have better skin
6. You'll sleep better
7. Lower the risk of getting sick
8. It reduces stress and anxiety
9. It improves creativity and productivity
10. You might live longer
Perhaps at first glance this all makes great sense and maybe you agree with all of these statements.
I see it and I want to go all Xena Warrior Princess on whoever thought this was a productive message to put out into the world.
So many of the women I know and clients I train are in a CONSTANT struggle to lose 10-15 lbs. They get on the scale every week if not every day in the hopes of getting to a magical number that they have deemed low enough. They cry, they stress, they grab the rolls of their stomachs and dismay at the back fat folding over the top of their bras. They kill themselves in the gym, fight hunger all day, and spend hours if not days feeling guilty if they miss a gym session or overeat.
Maybe the author of this infographic ASSUMED that the people that didn't need to lose 10-15lbs would realize this message wasn't meant for them. He/she must've assumed that whoever they were speaking to would pursue weight loss in a healthy fashion. The reality is, if done without overall healthy and wellness in mind, weight loss isn't always positive. This message says to EVERYONE "You should lose 10-15 lbs" and then it doesn't provide any productive advice for how that is to be done. If you starve yourself, over exercise, deprive yourself of rest you may lose weight but you will not reap the benefits promised.
I have one suggestion that can unfuck the infographic: change the title.
"Why Prioritize Your Health"
This way we can focus on the actions that will help people thrive. Let's put our attention to practices that have a positive effect on our lives such as moving our bodies, sleeping, eating nourishing foods and doing things that bring us joy. Let's stop pushing fat loss as a solution to our problems and instead help people care for themselves.
Agree? Disagree? Please contribute to the discussion and post in the comments.
Several years ago I was in love with running. Half marathons were my jam! I loved plotting out winding 10 mile long runs through the White Mountains of NH and spending my Sundays running for a few hours followed by an epic brunch. I enjoyed the time outside, the satisfaction of finishing a particularly challenging run and the thrill of chasing a PR. There was just one problem:
I felt like a runner but I didn't look like one.
Through several half marathons and hours of training, my body didn't seem to change much. I've always held on to weight in my midsection and no matter how much I ran, that didn't seem to change. I noticed other runners around me looking lean and fast meanwhile I felt as if I looked like a pregnant spider, spindly limbs with a bulging middle.
I didn't know it at the time, but I was falling victim to a common misconception: participating in a certain sport will help you achieve a body type similar to other athletes in that sport. Under this assumption many of us chase certain types of activities while avoiding others all based on the appearance of the more elite participants. What I didn't realize is that some bodies are more predisposed to perform certain activities and people with those bodies will be drawn to what they're good at because being good at stuff feels awesome. Many of those runners that I was envying didn't run their way into those lean bodies. They didn't find running, running found them.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that although I loved running, it was not loving me back. Despite efforts to lose weight my body was not changing and I was plagued with back and hip injuries. I was at the chiropractor or getting a massage weekly. I was spending time and money in the pursuit of something that was constantly hurting me while not helping me achieve my goals.
The last half marathon I raced in left me hobbled for weeks. It was a heartbreaking choice but I decided to take a break from running. I was terrified that I'd gain weight and worried that I wouldn't find another way to get that "runner's high".
I turned to strength training because I missed how running made me feel and I was worried when I stopped running I'd gain weight
Strength training ended up changing my life.
Just as I had enjoyed improving my 5k time, I loved working to increase my weights. When I did my first chin-up I was ecstatic. Anyone can hobble their way through a road race, it took me a year to be able to pull my chest to that bar.
I went from near constant back/hip pain to an occasional flare up once a year (or not at all).
My legs which had always been lean, gained muscle and shape and for the first time in my life I had a booty. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing all of my flaws, I had pride in what I was building.
When you think about it, it's odd that we somehow assume that performing a sport/activity at a novice level could get us the physique of an elite athlete in that sport. We hope that a few hours of Barre class a week will give us those "long, lean" muscles of dancers and we shy away from lifting weights because we don't want to look like a body builder. In both cases these athletes have devoted their lives to their sport. When you're considering how to exercise I encourage you to worry less about what people in the top 1% of that sport look like and instead ask yourself a few questions:
Do I enjoy this workout?
Does it cause me pain beyond some muscle soreness?
Is it moving me toward my goals?
Is it sustainable?
We get caught up in what we think we should be doing and what other people are doing, forgetting that each body responds differently to different exercises. Don't let the stereotypical body type of a sport/workout draw you in or deter you, give it a try for yourself.
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I recently had the honor of attending a party with a client and friend of mine. We were hanging out by the water chatting and she was smoking a cigarette when someone I knew came by. Introductions were made and my client proudly announced that I was her trainer and then proceeded to chat with someone else. My other friend leaned in and asked "You let your clients smoke?" I was a little taken aback at first because I honestly hadn't given a second thought to her smoking. We were out having a good time completely separate from the gym but even so, it isn't my job to stop my clients' actions and it certainly isn't my job to judge them. I told my friend as much and carried on with my evening.
I take issue with this guy's comments for two reasons. First of all, he assumes that I expect my clients to act perfectly. This is most certainly not the case. In fact I spend much of my time helping them face their own perfectionism. I've experienced it with myself and my clients, when our actions don't match our very high expectations we give up and fall prey to the infamous "Fuck Its". One "bad" meal can lead to days if not weeks of overeating before we finally pull up our big girl leggings and get back "on the wagon". Also, unless you're a professional athlete or bodybuilder and physique/performance are your main goals, no one really wants to be perfect all of the time, it sucks. I work with my clients to fit fitness and healthy nutrition in to their lives, ideally without making huge sacrifices or unsustainable changes.
My friend/client and I dressed as Wilma Flintsone and Betty Rubble: The Real Housewives of Bedrock
The second thing that bothered me was the idea that I would judge my clients. We are our own worst critics, we don't need to pay someone to judge us more. I don't judge my friend for smoking, and I know that she's made a ton of progress over the past few months, consistently exercising for the first time in a while. She's proud of her efforts and so am I. I remember when I first began training I would cringe when people sat on the recumbent bike peddling slowly as they read a magazine. I'm not going to lie, I judged. What's the point, they're barely even moving? One day a woman shared with me that she figured peddling and reading was better than sitting at home, reading and snacking. It opened my mind and forced me to assess my own notions of what exercise should be. You're moving, you're enjoying yourself, great! I've been coaching for almost a decade and I've learned that people approach things at their own pace. They may start with the gym and not be ready to look at nutrition right away. I'm there with my hands out to give them a boost when their ready to make that step, I don't push them into it.
People have preconceived notions of what a personal trainer does and how they coach.
If you're my client I am here to:
- Meet you where you are at
- Listen to your concerns and struggles without minimizing them
- Help you come up with solutions to your problems
- Know what your day looks like and what realistic expectations will look like
- Celebrate your victories with you because sometimes people in your life won't understand how exciting those achievements can be
I'm NOT here to:
- Make you feel judged
- Put you down
- Tell you what to do
- Write strict meal plans
- Lecture you
If that sounds like the kind of coaching you could get on board with, take a minute and fill out this BRIEF application for my 1:1 coaching program. I have 2 spots available for clients looking for simple, sane and supportive nutrition and fitness coaching. Feel free to contact me with any questions and I'm happy to jump on the phone and chat about any struggles your having.
Have you ever felt like you've spent most of your adult life trying to lose weight (maybe part of your adolescence too)? This article struck a chord with me and I'd like to share how it reminds me of my own story as well as offer some tips that have helped me stop obsessing about my body and start paying attention to some important/neglected areas of my life.
The first diet that I ever tried was Atkins back in 2001. I was lured in by the idea that I could eat all of the butter AND lose weight. Of course it worked......while I stayed on it but eventually potato chips and beer called to me. Since then there have been a series of diets, food rules, progress photos and food journals to mark my 15 years of dieting efforts. For most of that time I was also in a long term relationship. I was constantly working on my physical self but it never occurred to me that I was creating a mental and emotional deficit.
I've always been fairly even keeled, independent and strong so I figured I didn't need to work on other aspects of my wellness. Instead it was all about the weight and a near obsessive mission to eradicate my love handles. It wasn't until my marriage ended that I realized I had been neglecting myself and that my inner growth had been stunted for the sake of external goals. Looking back on it now I realize some of my more obsessive behavior started when my ex got sober about 6 years in to our relationship. It was a challenging time for both of us but I considered the alcoholism his problem and I was there to support him. It didn't occur to me that I needed support of my own and that I could use some self development. The dieting, boot camps and half marathons were a distraction from other issues that could've used my attention.
I see it often with my clients as they stress over their weight and appearance. They're overworked, overtired, and unfulfilled in their relationships yet they continue to focus on their bodies rather than pay attention to other aspects of their lives. It's as if they're putting off improving their situations or living their lives until they reach a subjective aesthetic goal.
B.D. (Before Divorce) I was a passenger in my life not really driving or making decisions, except deciding whether or not to have a "cheat" meal. The split pushed me to acknowledge my emotions, consider my career choices and think about what I really want from my life. Here are a few things that helped me both assess and enjoy my life beyond my fat loss goals.
Get A Hobby
Remember how I said I was a passenger in my life? Sometimes my husband was driving, other times circumstances were behind the wheel. I never took time to ask what I really wanted. In January I did my first year in review (this is the article I pulled it from). I realized that rather than finding a more traditional job I wanted to continue training because I love it and I vowed to take steps to increase my business. It's been simultaneously frightening, challenging and rewarding. Assessing what I really want has lit a fire under my ass and I'm so glad that I did it.
I will never forget a drunken fight I had with my best friend in college coming home from the bar one night. I must've been ruminating about my bad luck with men and she looked at me and said "Oh Jen, just get over yourself!" Any time I find myself feeling like a victim or in need of pity I think about those words. One way to get over yourself and stop stressing about your weight is to help others. This could mean helping a friend move, being a Big Brother/Big Sister or holding space for someone in your life who's having a tough time. Hopefully it will help you remember that your value as a human being on this planet is not tied to what the scale says.
The Secret Side Effect
Ironically, putting more attention in to your quality of life and less in to your body could actually help you achieve your aesthetic goals. Eating better and exercising are sooooo much easier when you're well rested and content with your life. If you've been obsessing over your weight/appearance for a long time (as I have) it may take time to refocus your attention. I still have moments when I think "I should do X diet, just for a few months to drop that extra 10 lbs" but I tend to have those thoughts less and less.
And anytime you're struggling you can turn to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson :) I never knew he played the ukulele but now I know that we are totally meant for each other!
By and far the largest impediment to sticking to an exercise/diet regimen is time. We're all pulled in many directions, tied to appointments, meetings, kids soccer games etc.. Finding the time to meet with a trainer in person (when the trainer is also available) can be challenging. If you attend group fitness classes, you have to revolve your schedule around when they're offered and if you're running late or the class fills up, you may miss your work out entirely. When you work with a coach online such as myself, you work out when it's convenient for you. You can work out at home with dumbbells and an exercise ball, in a gym or even the park if you want be outside.
Location, Location, Location
When you train online you aren't restricted to going to a certain gym and you can even work out at home or in the park. You may live in an area where there aren't many options or maybe the hours at your local gym don't work with your schedule. As your coach I can tailor the work outs to your preferred location as well as the equipment you have available.
Next to time, people often say that lack of accountability is preventing progress. Via the Trainerize App I'm able to see when you work out, and follow you progress. There are options to share food intake, photos, as well as measurements.
Are YOU a candidate for online training?
Is Online Training NOT a good option for you?
Here's what my clients are saying about training online with me using the Trainerize App:
Using Trainerize and having Jen as a our virtual coach made all the difference when we went on a month long road trip. We didn't backslide!! My favorites: the customized workouts that Jen gave us through the app, having her celebrate us when we were doing well, and being able to chat with her at any point. Highly recommend!
What I like best about using Trainerze is having a way to interact with Jen out side of our regular sessions. Sometimes the gym can be overwhelming and I like that the app makes it feel like Jen is right there in the gym with me. She can send me personalized workouts and see each time I complete one. Using the app helps me keep myself accountable and stay on top of my fitness goals.
Road trips have never been the place I expected I'd keep up with my fitness goals, yet Jen's coaching, which skillfully utilized the Trainerize app, was a perfect example of a coach-away-from-home. The strong clear focus on key exercises every morning, along with timed intervals for extra self-challenge, kept us healthy, happy, and resistant to the twin challenges of ubiquitous fast food and extended sitting time. It felt like we brought Jen with us, and she was a fantastic travel companion!
I'm looking for 3 motivated people who want to get stronger, lose some body fat and feel more confident - and do it through online training at a introductory reduced rate.
Are you tired of working out and not seeing results?
Are you confused/frustrated with the conflicting information about nutrition and exercise?
Do you struggle to work out consistently?
Do you want a program specifically tailored to your time, experience, likes/dislikes and available equipment?
Do you like the idea of having access to an experienced compassionate coach anytime?
If you found yourself answering YES! to many of these questions, take a minute and fill out this questionnaire and then we can see if we'd work well together. I'll be accepting 3 new clients at a reduced rate so don't miss out on this great opportunity.
Has this ever happened to you? You worked hard on your diet all week, it's Friday and you're ready to step on the scale and celebrate a weight loss victory. You look down hoping for a certain number but what you see is not what you expect. Sh*t! You've gained 2 lbs! How could this be? The thoughts begin to rattle through your head "This isn't fair", "What's the point of even trying", "Ugh, I'm so gross" and suddenly a perfectly nice Friday is ruined! I could spend the next 1000 words telling you why the scale doesn't matter that much or explaining how it would take an excess of 7000 calories for you to gain 2 lbs of body fat, but these arguments aren't going to save your Friday. Let's focus on what you can do to recover as quickly as possible from this set back because if you're in this fat loss/health game for the long run, you're going to need to build some patience and resilience.
Take Six Deep Breaths
This may seem stupid to you, what could a few deep breaths really accomplish? You're body doesn't know that you aren't actually in danger and it will unleash a cascade of hormonal responses to help you survive the immanent threat. The only problem is, this isn't really a dangerous situation and you don't need those hormones to outrun a predator. What you really need is to calm the f*ck down. Take those breaths deep into you stomach and try not to let the shoulders shrug. Exhale slowly and fully. Repeat 6-10 times.
Take a Judgement Free Inventory of Your Actions
Look back at the previous week to month and honestly review your habits. Did you eat well at least 80% of the time? Did you get in at least 30 mins of light activity each day? How was your sleep? How were your stress levels? As you do this, try to avoid judging your actions. If you weren't active say: "I had 3 days where I sat at my desk all day and didn't walk or exercise" rather than "I was a lazy POS and I didn't go to the gym after work". If you were indeed very consistent for the past week, how about the few weeks before that? How did they look? Chances are you haven't YET strung together several weeks/months of positive habits. This isn't about spiraling down into a rabbit hole of shame and self doubt. It's just an assessment of your performance.
Choose a Simple, Easy to Implement Action
Now that you've assessed your behaviors and taken responsibility for them you can take action. If the scale has really upset you, you're probably considering implementing several strict food rules. It's Friday, so maybe you'll just enjoy the weekend and start them on Monday. This can lead to a cycle of overeating, deprivation, and more overeating. I can confirm that this pattern does not lead to long lasting fat loss but it does lead to a lot of hunger, shame and misery. Instead, focus on one simple thing that you can do today to improve your nutrition. Return to those big rock habits that create the biggest bang for your dietary buck: protein with every meal, vegetables with most meals, drink plenty of water, eat fibrous carbohydrates etc.... Choose one and use it with your next meal. Continue to focus on that one thing for the next several days or even week until you've strung together several successful days.
I get it, you're like Veruca Salt and you want your oompa loompa now, as in you want results and you want them fast! The problem is, you can control your actions, you cannot control your results. After a set back, remember to BREATH, ASSESS, and ACT. Limit the amount of emotional energy you put in to your weight and your perceived appearance because I'm guessing that you have other sh*t going in your life that needs your attention. After all, this isn't really about the scale is it? It's about feeling better about yourself. The best way to feel better about yourself is to take care of that body and mind of yours. Chances are the scale will reflect your efforts.
Some people assume that because I'm a Personal Trainer, I work out 6-7 days a week for hours at a time, maybe even two-a-days. It may come as a surprise to those people that I actually work out 4-5 days a week for about an hour each session. I'm pointing this out because I'd like to establish that I don't exercise obsessively. It is a small part of my day that I enjoy (most of the time) but I won't lose my shit if I miss a day or two. Although I'm not afraid to miss a few days of exercise, I do work out on vacation as well as over the holidays. My reasons for doing so may not be what you think. As summer approaches and many of us hit the road for vacation (I'm actually headed to Scotland shortly), it may be time to consider your fitness and nutritional goals for while your travelling. Here are a few reasons why I workout while on the road:
As I mentioned earlier, I don't work out every day, but I do CONSISTENTLY work out 4-5 days a week, every week, month, year for the past several years. It's a part of my life and I make sure it fits into my schedule because I've gotten pretty darn strong by sticking to it and I can't complain when I check out my glutes in a pair of leggings. When I go away on a trip or take time off for the holidays it's easier to continue to exercise because when I return home/to work there's no struggle to get back "into it". I was never "out of it". Have you ever returned from trip and struggled to get back to the gym? Sometimes it takes 3 weeks or more to get back to your routine, and how badly does the first work out suck? As you finish your first set, sweating and weak do you ever say to yourself "I'm so glad that I didn't work out a single day on my vacation"? Probably not. I may not do my programmed work outs and I could miss a few but I'll make sure that I get a few sessions in so that when I return to the gym at home I don't feel like it's my first work out ever.
Vacation is all about getting out of your routine. You can stay up as late as you like, sleep in and have a morning cocktail, and of course my favorite: naps. I usually find myself looking forward to vacation and then toward the end I'm excited to get back to my routine. Exercising provides a small enough semblance of routine so that I can enjoy the lack thereof for the remainder of the day. Everything else I do may be different from a "normal" day but getting a work out in will ground me.
It Relaxes Me
Sitting and doing nothing does not come naturally to me. I know that I need it but I can have a hard time settling down on vacation and getting over the fact that I don't need to do anything. Working up a sweat can help me get there faster. I'm at my most relaxed right after a work out, all other worries have left my brain and I'm just soaking up the glory of being done. I can carry that feeling straight to the pool or the ocean, take a quick dunk and I'm ready to chill out the rest of the day.
Try Something New
I love living in Vermont but it is a SMALL ass state! Our fitness options can be limited especially when it comes to up and coming trends or world renowned coaches. Last year I was in LA and San Diego where fitness options where varied and abundant! I was able to try out unique classes and work with a coach who had studied with Shaulin Monks in China. Although I was in an unfamiliar place, it was easy to find common ground with the other folks in the class. What better way to bond than cheering on a partner as they go through brutal battling rope intervals!
It is NOT Punishment
I do NOT work out on vacation to punish myself for over indulging. Exercise is a gift for my body, my health and my wellness and I refuse to sully it by making it a punishment. I don't feel like I need to do it, it's what I want to do.
Give It A Try
If you've never included exercise in your vacations, maybe it's time to give it a try. The work outs don't have to be long, even 10-15 minutes can be helpful. You may find you relax more and your re-entry into non-vacation life goes more smoothly. Here's a quick body weight workout to take with you on your next trip.
Push-ups x 10
Front to Reverse Lunges x 8 each
Skaters x 10 each
Inchworm with Toe Touch x 5 each
Single Leg Deadlift with Y x 10 each
Prisoner Get-Ups x 5 each
Do you struggle to come up with workouts while traveling? Click here for your FREE Road Kit guide to working out while on the road.
Today I'd like to talk about breakfast and maybe even touch on the subject of snacks. I jokingly tell my clients that "Muffins are just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast" but there is some truth there. The first meal of your day could be sabotaging your good intentions. Before I get up on my soap box and offend all of the oatmeal/granola loving folks out there, if you enjoy your breakfast AND it's working for you, then feel free to continue with your morning sugar infusion. Food is a matter of taste and you should never force yourself to eat something that you don't like. That being said if it is broken, it's time to fix it.
Most of us know that "Eating the Rainbow" does not mean scarf down a bowl of sugary food colored cereal however many folks are still treating their first meal of the day like a high sugar buffet. Bacon and sausage aside, many breakfast favorites are carbohydrate rich: granola, oatmeal, fruit flavored yogurt, juice, toast, English muffins, and cereal. I'm not saying carbohydrates are bad and I'm not saying don't eat them, however a typical breakfast usually combines several servings of carbs, very little protein and very little fat. I'm going to provide you some ways to upgrade your breakfast as well as posit a completely different way to look at your first meal. Waking up can be a jarring experience and if you need the warm hug of carbohydrates to usher you in to the day then here are few tips to keep it sweet AND achieve your goals.
#1 Add Protein
Whatever it is that you enjoy for breakfast, add eggs. Notice the "s" at the end of egg, that means plural please. We're trying to get that meal up to at least 15g of protein and one egg isn't going to cut it. If you're worried about cholesterol, the US government has acknowledged that dietary cholesterol does not lead to higher levels of blood cholesterol. Live a little, have some yolks folks! Sometimes I crack a few eggs into my stove top oats for the last minute of cooking. I simply stir as the eggs cook in and it makes for a hearty breakfast. Greek yogurt is rich in protein, but go for the plain and add your own fruit and a little sweetener if you need it. Some cinnamon will also bring out a sweeter flavor. You can also add protein powder to your breakfast; it goes well in oats or make some high protein pancakes and of course you can always start your day with a smoothie.
#2 Budget Your Carbs
As I said before, carbohydrates are not the devil. They're a great source of energy, especially if you have a very active day ahead of you. If you're going to sit in your car then sit at a desk for 6-8 hours, chances are you don't need multiple servings of carbs to fuel a fairly sedentary day. Choose high fiber carbohydrates such as berries, apples, whole grain breads and oats. Rather than having granola, sweetened yogurt, berries and a glass of orange juice, ditch the juice, swap the flavored yogurt out for plain and buy or make a lightly sweetened granola.
In fact, I may eat something like that any time of the day. People often ask what I eat for snacks, once again under the impression that snacks need to be sweet or small. I don't generally snack, I sit down and eat a moderately sized meal 4-5 times a day and it works for me. I enjoy a full-ish stomach and 6 almonds isn't going to cut it. If I eat something like this at 3pm, I won't inhale everything in my kitchen when I get home at night. Do you struggle with evening snacking? Maybe it's time for a mid-afternoon meal, or "Second Lunch" as I like to call it.
People have success with many styles of eating. If you're trying to lower your body fat you can keep your traditional breakfast with a few upgrades or you can take a walk on the savory side and try out last night's left overs. Breakfast tacos anyone?
Several years ago I had a serious conversation with my mother. I told her that although I appreciated the sentiment, I no longer wanted to receive cookies from her for Christmas. I know, I'm a cookie hating asshole. Actually I just don't like to have super tempting foods at my house and I don' t need a reason to have a chocolate chip brownie for breakfast. I try to make it as easy as possible to make good food decisions at home, it's a "safe" zone from temptation, minus the wine of course. This did not initially go over well with Mary Weiss, obviously if I didn't want her cookies it meant I didn't love her, maybe even hated her. And if she couldn't express her love for me through delicious baked goods, how would I know that she loved me? Being the resourceful woman that she is, my mom has found other ways to show she cares. Now my stocking (yes I'm 39 and I still get a Christmas stocking) is full of dark chocolate, spice rubs and Justin's Almond Butter. My mom is still the Cookie Lady for other family members, friends and co-workers but she doesn't have to be the Cookie Lady for me. There are two lessons here: it's okay to have a tough conversation with your loved ones about food and your goals AND you don't have to share your love through butter and sugar. Here are a few ways to change your holiday giving identity from Cookie Lady or Cookie Guy to Healthy Gift Giving Genius
Bring Protein to the Holiday Potluck
Inevitably there will be many social obligations between now and New Year's. You may even be required to bring food to said festivities. Vegetables and protein will be hard to find at these gatherings and you may find yourself wondering how you're going to keep up with your healthy habits with so many temptations. Be part of the solution instead of part of the problem; bring a satiating protein dish. This week I'm going to the holiday party at the pub where I work part time. We have a sign-up sheet for the potluck and it's full of cheesy dips and sweets. I'm sure I'll hit up the buffalo chicken dip and have a cookie or two but I'm going to make damn sure there are some protein and veggies available. I've braised chicken thighs and made a batch of homemade coleslaw for tacos. I'll enjoy some tacos and fill myself up a little in order to keep from over-indulging on the rest of the buffet. PS - the buffalo chicken dip didn't disappoint.
Share Your Recipes
This idea actually comes from my Cookie Lady Mom. She put together a binder of family favorites for my brothers and I. It's a project you could slowly add to throughout the year. My mom put hers in a binder but you could even have a book made or go paperless and send it as a PDF.
You're In Charge
It may seem like you're going to let everyone down if you don't bake 6 million cookies for Christmas but the truth is, you can become the Healthy Gift Giving Genius, you don't HAVE to be the Cookie Lady. There are other ways to share your love of food with friends and family. Hopefully this post will inspire you to step out of your traditional role and try a new one where you're the healthy role model that everyone strives to be. Who knows, maybe you'll inspire others in your gift giving circles to do the same.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
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