Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. -Benjamin Franklin
Maintaining balance and prioritizing relationships is a common struggle. Health and fitness goals are challenging! They can be hard on you as well as on your family in the event they aren’t joining in on the fun. But, it doesn’t HAVE to be hard. My marriage is my biggest priority. I am a wife first and foremost, and everything I do needs to reflect that. In all honesty, that is hard to swallow sometimes when my goals and motivation are at an all time high. It is not uncommon for motivated people to have the ability to create a tunnel vision that is out of this world. If you are feeling like you are playing a constant game of tug of war with your relationship and your goals, you are not alone. Regardless of how willing you might be to re adjust priorities to reach your goal, we can’t ignore our loved ones along the way.
Let’s begin by increasing awareness. Identifying how your choices and goals impact the people closest to you is one of the best things you can do to maintain perspective. Be prepared for things to change and motivated to keep them the same. Goals require perseverance. They also require compromise. The bigger the goal, the bigger your awareness needs to be on keeping the peace and holding on to as much balance as you can. When the game of tug of war starts to be too much, refer to the below ideas to come up for air whether it’s alone or with your family.
- Not all dates revolve around food: Some of our favorite stress releases are a going to the movies (bring your own snacks!), bowling, playing cards, making a list of things we want to accomplish at home, going to the gym together instead of alone, etc. Additionally, there is no reason you can’t have a special date night that involves food! Refer to my recent blog on “Navigating Social Events & Meals out” for more information on how to honor your goals without sacrificing time and memories with your family. Sometimes just an hour of “normal life,” or giving yourself permission to take a mental break from your goals serves as a great distraction and reset to bring your mind back to the people you love the most.
- Practice random acts of kindness: Your support system is your lifeline! Make sure to express gratitude and love for the people pushing you along. You are only as good as your support system and they are working hard, too. Sometimes going to the extra mile to make my husband a special dinner, take him on a surprise date to the movies or write him a card makes me feel just as good as it does him. It’s the LITTLE THINGS!
- Laugh: Don’t get so caught up in your routine of gym, sleep, eat and repeat that you forget to live your life. Go to the social gatherings, eat at the table with everyone else, make time for your friends. So many people get anxiety from the THOUGHT of temptation when tackling a goal. There is no need for that. Life is for living and you can still enjoy it while chasing your fitness dreams.
- Set boundaries: We set boundaries for work, personal time, children and friends. Do it for your goals as well! You can be 100% dedicated to your journey to health and still prioritize your loved ones by giving them time and your undivided attention whenever you can. Be intentional, be present and make sure they feel connected to you. Don’t be the person that only talks about the gym, food prep and how exciting your progress is! Be well rounded, have other hobbies and tend to all aspects of your life. You are more than your goals.
- Be aware: Your goals are a CHOICE. If we are so lucky to have loved ones that are willing to push us along, supporting us and honoring our goals is THEIR CHOICE. That is important perspective. Reaching your goals and thriving is a gift. It’s a powerful and overly satisfying experience that breeds MORE activity. However, reaching your goals will not be nearly as rewarding if you don’t have your special people beside you at the finish line. Your life is happening right now. You can work toward your goals without sacrificing the special moments that happen every day. Don’t miss them.
Tackling a fitness goal can be a big part of your life, but it does not define you. Your new body and lease on life will not suffice when the universe throws you a curveball and you really need your people. Be mindful and focused on what really matters regardless of how it challenges you. These people, your family and loved ones are what matter.
Learning how to stop dieting requires courage. Dieting provides safety and the illusion of control. Learning to listen to your body in order to lose weight requires letting go of that control and THAT requires grace, lots of grace.
It involves trusting yourself, your body and the cues it gives you to reconnect with what your BODY WANTS. The hardest part about that is that listening to your body and allowing it to guide you is the only way this will work. If you are thinking “that is the most impossible task, I have been counting and tracking for years on end” that was my initial reaction as well! I felt the same way.
It is possible to ditch dieting and fully immerse yourself with intuitive habits! It is not an instant process, it takes time and quite a bit of focus. Intuitive eating often feels ore challenging then counting calories in the beginning of the process. Clinical studies have shown that diets don’t work time and again. In fact, most people gain the weight back — plus some! It may sound counter intuitive, but by allowing yourself to stop dieting and change your mindset around food, you will find FOOD FREEDOM.
Below are 4 steps to stop dieting and start eating intuitively:
- Give yourself permission to break the rules: In order to remove the feeling of obsession and control around food, you have to escape the “rules.” Eliminating the restrictions and inviting freedom is a really powerful act for your mindset. You are giving yourself permission to have anything you want, which psychologically actually helps you NOT want it. No more calorie counting, macro tracking, weighing, food label memorizing or anything else you’ve learned to do in order to control your body and how it looks. All foods are equal and allowed at all times. NOTHING is off limits to you! This where the grace comes in. This part can feel really scary, don’t be afraid. You got this.
- Honor your hunger and fullness: These are the two pillars of intuitive eating that require your full attention. To reconnect with them try asking yourself, “Do I like this food? Is that what I want to eat? Am I really hungry or am I bored, stressed or feeling emotional? Am I satisfied, or did I eat more than I needed?” Feel your feelings when you are not hungry. Food won’t address those, but you should.
- Be ok with “the feels”: Emotional eating and responding to triggers is one of the biggest reasons why we over eat as well as start diets to begin with. By sitting with your feelings and allowing space to coexist with them you are no longer masking the “uncomfortable feeling” in your stomach that suffocating with food never ends up helping. You will feel better AND lose weight (double win)!
- Ditch perfectionism: You will take several steps forward and one step back throughout this entire process. It is a process with stages, just like anything else that is new! You will teeter on the verge of success and at other times feel derailed and completely drained. This is not a linear process and it is OK to struggle. In fact, it is necessary. If you have moments where you want to throw in the towel, go back to your old ways and start another diet- you are doing it right. Don’t give up!
I’ll be the first to admit that traveling and / or participating in weekend festivities make the balance of health and living life more challenging. They create obstacles around staying focused on a plan, can completely throw off your progress or the routine you created that otherwise works really well.
I used to view weekends or trips as a “free for all” with food and beverages. I also came home feeling like absolute crap, not to mention my head space was less than positive. My body struggles with fatigue and the stress of traveling. My motivation was to figure out how to have the best of both worlds!
Learning to travel and participate in social events without sacrificing my health or balance was a big turning point in my nutrition journey. I felt empowered by options, solutions and how amazing I felt. Small changes led to big results that were no longer fleeting. My progress improved and became consistent with a few small changes.
Here are my favorite tips that helped me enjoy travel and living life without losing my balanced lifestyle, neglecting my needs or impacting the memories I make!
- Eat small, frequent meals: Travel in general can throw off eating habits. Eating small meals every few hours (3-4) will avoid getting overly hungry as well as not force your body to work too hard on digesting large meals while in flight or being mostly sedentary for the day. That constant flow of energy will make a difference!
- Eat a serving of fruits in veggies in every meal: Balancing the good stuff with the fun stuff is the best approach during travel and will naturally create more balance in your diet. Set a goal to have a little of each in your meals and enjoy feeling great AND the food all at once! Prioritizing your plate with bright colors and balanced food groups makes all the difference in how you look and feel.
- Drink plenty of water: This is the number one thing people neglect when traveling and it’s the most important! You can use an app to track water or get a Hydro flask and use the airport water stations to refill it as needed. 128 oz of water per day is the goal (more if your flight is a long one). Bottoms up!
- Go vegetarian for the day: Challenge yourself by forgoing meat for the day and exploring other options. It encourages plant-based choices, great variety and new recipes/ dishes that you might not have tried otherwise.
- Share meals and deserts rather than entertaining a “food free for all.” It can be tempting to overindulge on vacation, the local cuisine can truly be a once in a lifetime experience! Rather than eating to the point of discomfort or not partaking at all (BOO), share it and have a small portion of whatever you want to try. Your body will thank you by feeling amazing the next day. You won’t skip a beat!
For more information, tips and tricks visit www.carsonlainefitness.com
Volume foods are the secret weapon to any recipe. They are the nutrition choices that allow you to have generous amounts of food without blowing your macros. There is nothing worse than eating within your macros, and still feeling hungry after your meal is over.
One’s appreciation for volume foods grows exponentially because of the PERKS! My struggles with food were never coming from a place of deprivation, but rather, lack of portion control. I would over eat, consume far more than my body needed, and used food as a source of comfort. Honoring my hunger and fullness, learning to intuitively eat and creating balanced meals helped me understand how to have the best of both worlds!
Some refer to high volume foods when in a caloric deficit to increase satiety and fullness. I, however, use them all the time! I love feeling satisfied and enjoying healthy portions of food on my plate. Most people assume a satisfying meal needs to be large, heavy and full of calories but that is not the case. Incorporating high volume foods encourages the consumption of whole, nutrient dense foods that also conquer hunger, provide satiety that lasts and give you the best of both worlds regardless of your goals!
Examples of high volume foods include:
- Salads with as many veggies as possible instead of cheese, croutons and creamy ranch
- Riced cauliflower in place of or added to any rice, bread, pasta dish
- Zoodles, lentil pasta or black bean noodles have half the calories with a bigger serving size
- Rice cake snacks instead of bread or chips
- High fiber wraps, tortillas, or thin crust pizza or
- Swapping the bun for your burger for portobello mushrooms or a lettuce wrap
- Sparkling, calorie free drinks like water, la Croix, etc.
- Stevia, cocao nibs, popsicles
- Mustard, salsa, lemon and lime juice, almond milk and herbs/ spices
Volume foods don’t have to taste like air. Consuming hig volume foods will result in feeling more satisfied, larger portions and enjoying meals without compromising the taste! Don’t be afraid to get creative with your ingredients! These foods are extremely nutrient dense and easy to use for even those most challenged chefs.
For FREE recipes, meal ideas and more visit http://www.carsonlainefitness.com
It is not uncommon that weekends are the hardest to “survive” when you have health and fitness goals. It was the same for me, and its something I hear ALL the time with my clients. It is easy to stay on track during the week while we stick to our routine. Work, gym, sleep, repeat. Then, the weekend comes and it seems as though our will power and decision making skills evaporate completely. The evaporation of skills is a mentality. It derives from fear and intimidation of feeling capable of making choices that align with your goals when social gatherings occur, or dinner is at your favorite restaurant. There is, believe it or not, a happy medium between YOLO and “I’m on a meal plan, I can’t have that.” That black and white mentality is typically to blame for set backs. Learning to account for meals out and how to fit foods in without blowing my macros or progress was one of the most empowering tools I developed during my fitness journey. Don’t be a prisoner to your meal plan, and don’t allow intimidation of trying as an excuse to fall off the wagon. Below are some tricks that help me navigate my weekends and social time without compromising my progress. My goal in sharing them is to help others break this frustrating cycle.
- You can’t out train a bad diet: The first step to finding a better weekend balance is understanding that you cannot out train a night of binge drinking and eating whatever your heart desires. You can be as diligent as you want to throughout the week. But, consistency is what your body craves the most and is also what will bring you the best results. Knowing that repeating those nights weekly are making all of your work and efforts during the week go to waste should be some motivation to start to tone it down.
- Check the menu ahead of time: Knowing your options and eliminating the pressure to make a quick decision can make a huge difference. Most menu’s are available online if you know where you are headed in advance. Going to a friends house? Ask them what is being served, and offer to bring something! That is a great way to add in healthy foods or things that you know will work for you that day. Lots of menu’s are available on My Fitness Pal and have the macro information on there. If you don’t see it, you have the option to request it on your tracking app. If you have a favorite spot and the menu isn’t available yet, request away! TheMacroExperiment.com is another outstanding resource for this. You can also call the establishment and ask them how things are prepared. If you had a serious food allergy, you wouldn’t hesitate to do this. Your goals and progress are not any different!
- Menu Manipulation: Half the battle to successful ordering is knowing what to look for and request. When reviewing a menu, request options that are baked or grilled. Most menu’s will also have things that are on the “lighter side” to select as well. If you want something low fat, request chicken or fish instead of beef. Low on carbs? Request double the veggies instead of the starch it comes with. Here is a little list of quick tips I use every single time I am out to eat.
- Eat before you go! That way you aren’t starving when you sit down
- Double the water, drinking as much as I can helps me with portion control
- Skip the bread basket- don’t hesitate to ask them to hold the chips or bread, you don’t need that crap on your table!
- Request a baked/ grilled option, and ask them to hold the butter and oil. That way, you can ensure your protein was cooked simply with herbs and spices only, and not injected with additional crap for which you cant account.
- Sauce on the side- when in doubt, ask them to either hold the sauce or put it on the side for you. You can always dip your fork in it, or pour it yourself so that you can better estimate serving sizes, etc.
- Double the veggies- Most entrees come with a starch and a vegetable side. If you are low on carbs or want to add volume, request double veggies! The brighter and more colorful your food, the better.
- Request a “half” size! This is a GREAT way to aid with portion control, especially if you are someone that struggles to not pick at your plate. Get half the burger, or half the salad, or half the entrée. You can take the other half home, or give it to your Husband, if he is a bottomless pit like mine!
- You don’t HAVE to finish your plate. Eat slowly, and eat until you are satisfied. If you know the portion was massive, section off the amount you’d like to eat and then make a mental note that you are finished after that point (I will sometimes even cover my plate with my napkin once I know I am really full. That prevents me from continuing to pick and eat when I know I should be finished).
- Portion sizes: In order to track accurately, you need to have an idea of typical portion sizes. For meat, a 4-5 oz serving is typically the size of a closed fist. When in doubt, track for a bigger portion. 1 cup of veggies is about the size of your palm as well. It is always better to over shoot in this instance. A typical pour of wine is 5 oz., etc. When in doubt, ask your server! It is their job to relay any information you need about what you are putting in your body. Knowledge is power.
- Tracking on the fly: There will be plenty of times at social gatherings, when traveling or attending dinners out where you have to just guess and go. Yo can always insert each menu item individually! Tracking SOMETHING is so much better than throwing in the towel and ignoring your choices for the night. Any accountability is better than no accountability. It doesn’t need to be perfect! Family dinner at your favorite burger joint? You can enter your burger like this: 1 hamburger bun, 1 oz cheddar cheese, 1 tomato slice, 6 oz chicken breast, 1 oz ketchup, 1 lettuce leaf, etc. You can do that with ANY meal that you order. The menu items have to list all ingredients, so take note and enter that stuff in!
- Be Needy: Restaurants expect special requests. They are used to serving people with severe food allergies or intolerances and are happy to cater to their needs. You are no different, and there is no shame in making special customizations to your order! Don’t be afraid to request different variations of what you need. The will be HAPPY to accommodate you, and you will feel so much better for it!
- Ignore the haters: People will ask you questions or comment when you take your health into your own hands. They will ask you “does that fit your plan?” or why you made special requests. Don’t let this deter you from putting your goals first. When this happens to me, I remind myself that they are usually curious and wanting to learn. People envy that kind of self control, and want to emulate it. Own your choices, and shout them from the rooftops. The people that matter will always support your choices and help you stay the course!
As this weekend approaches, try implementing these tricks. You will be shocked at how much you can enjoy your social life and weekend without the guilt that you completely bulldozed your fitness goals.
For more information on nutrition, healthy recipes and meal planning please visit www.CarsonLaineFitness.com
The winter months, but specifically November and December are infamous for encouraging avid health seekers to fall off the wagon, put a pause on important goals and make excuses for choices (including or the abundance of holiday treats being enjoyed). Simply put, the holidays make prioritizing nutrition more challenging! This also explains the phenomenon most of us anticipate each year. I refer to it as the annual health and fitness “reset” that happens every January. The parties are over, the gym gets busier, new fads are for sale, vacation in Hawaii is approaching and of course, a new year means a new YOU.
Nutrition and diet heavily influence our bodies in terms of how they look, feel, function, and behave. In order to optimize our health (and bodies), the approach taken with nutrition and food choices matters. The good news? Starting fresh with your health can be done in different ways. The approach yielding the most success is the approach that will work best for YOU. I have successfully used a more gradual approach allowing for incremental changes as well as “a clean slate” approach, designed to begin your fresh start immediately. Let’s compare!
A gradual approach allows more space and time for comfortable changes within reason. By phasing things out in increments it can be easier to find your flow along the way. If you are someone that is easily overwhelmed by change, the thought of cleaning out your panty, and are not suffering from physical symptoms related to nutrition, start here! Below are my best tips for navigating the gradual approach successfully:
- Start with breakfast: Start to replace processed, sugary foods with whole, nutrient dense options. For example, swap the pop tarts for a hearty bowl of oats!
- Think ahead and have the ingredients handy for the breakfast meals.
- Commit to this act for one week.
- Take note of any changes in feeling, energy, hunger, fullness, etc.
- The following week include changes to lunch, and repeat the steps above.
- Proceed to dinner on week three, as well as any other snacks being consumed throughout the day.
- Be methodical and plan ahead! Preparation is key.
In comparison, a “clean slate” approach is my personal favorite and is often referred to as the “cold turkey” method. This approach works well for those that are highly motivated, accountable to a structured plan and are eager for results. This is also the best approach for those battling painful or uncomfortable symptoms caused by a food allergy or sensitivity. Starting fresh this way requires some thought ahead of time! Below are my favorite tips for wiping your slate clean and starting fresh:
- Identify any trigger foods that create temptation or no longer work for you.
- Clean out the pantry and prepare a new grocery list.
- Plan ahead and account for any events or meals out that could cause an accident.
- Substitute wisely and often (refer to “Painless Pantry swaps” blog article for suggestions).
- Be ok with not feeling ok. Depending on the number of changes happening it is not uncommon to experience temporary fatigue, headaches, changes in appetite or energy while your body adjusts.
- If you fall off the wagon, DON’T WORRY! Identify what went wrong, think of a solution for next time that situation comes up, and get right back on the horse. Perfection isn’t welcome or necessary here.
- Revamp your recipes and meals! It’s important that time spent in the kitchen is enjoyable. Use this fresh start as a chance to make new foods, try new things, and master a recipe you never thought you’d try!
Breaking free of bad habits is a MUST in order to reclaim your health. The only thing preventing this healthy, fresh start is YOU. Give yourself the gift of health this holiday season and be the change you want to see in your life, mind and body. Everything you need to be successful is already inside of you. Take the leap!
For more information on living your best life in your best body please visit www.carsonlainefitness.com