Before you seek out the latest fad diet, supplement, or 21-Day-Cleanse program (for the 5th time this year), consider that the answers that might be right in front of you. The solution to your problem may not be “try something new” – it might be “pay attention to your current self”.
“I’m trying to eat 1200 calories a day, and I still can’t lose weight!” Raise your hand if you have heard this, said this, or read this before. We all have. Somewhere, someone came up with 1200 as the magic number to lose weight – especially for women!
This is usually how these conversations start. Before you know it, your long lost “friend” is inviting you to a new 30-day challenge that also requires you to buy hundreds of dollars worth of supplements. Are MLM supplements healthy, necessary, and good quality? And do they really work? Let’s dive in…
Vacation. It’s supposed to be a time to relax, enjoy, and unwind. But to some people, the thought of being in a new environment, off their routine, and surrounded by epic foods and drinks can bring upon the stress of losing gains, and gaining pounds. Continue reading
It was a Friday afternoon. I had just finished up early at the hospital and I was headed back to Madison for a weekend. I ate some leftover cheese ravioli and slammed a big glass of milk as I rushed out the door to the weekend that awaited.
I exercise, and I eat well – yet I still DON’T SEE RESULTS!
First question – what results are you after?
Second: Do they align with what you are doing?
Third: Do they align with what you do 24/7/365?
As I touched on last week, I firmly believe in distancing morality from food. There are no good nor bad foods – there are just foods, and healthy and unhealthy portions, based on your current situation.
But as a dietitian, a so-called “expert” in the realm of nutrition, how can you NOT say that there are bad foods?!?
This infuriates people. The dieters. The gurus. The zealots.
I sat down in my office to get to work on some client check in’s for my online nutrition coaching. The first one I opened, BAM! There it was… “I need to call you, I am really struggling”.
This post was originally sent out via my insider’s email list…and I got a very big positive response to it, so I wanted to share it here. If you don’t already get the weekly insider emails (on Tuesdays) you are missing out! SUBSCRIBE HERE
Have you ever not gone to the gym because you didn’t have enough time to get your workout in?
Have you ever thrown out an entire day nutritionally because of one snack or one meal?
I am assuming that you have.
And I’m here to tell you that is not the best idea.
Are there plenty of legit reasons to skip the gym? Yes!
If you are sick, injured (some injuries can be worked around), have a special family event, etc. are all legit reasons to skip the gym…but…not having enough time is not one of them.
I find that guys are especially guilty of this.
“Back in my day I worked out for 2 hours per day, so what’s the point if I can’t do that anymore??”
A few things.
- You don’t need to workout 2 hours per day in the first place.
- There is so much you can do in 15-20 minutes.
- It’s likely your food that needs more work anyways.
When it comes to building a habit, the consistency and frequency of exposure are actually more important than the duration/intensity.
Going hard in the gym 2 days a week, but doing nothing the other 5 will not yield the results that most people want, nor help build a solid habit of being someone who exercises regularly.
But planning to do 5-10 minutes of planned physical activity, every day (assuming you are starting from ZERO) will help build the habit and the identity of someone who works out regularly.
It’s funny, people assume that trainers get to “work out all the time, and whenever they want”
It’s quite the opposite.
Personally, I lift 3-4 days per week for 30-45 minutes, do 1-2 cardio recovery/conditioning sessions that last 20-30 minutes, and that’s it.
I also work a job that routinely has me hitting 15,000 steps per day, and am aware of what I eat.
What do you think has a bigger impact on my health or my current physique? I would argue that lifting helps build the shape/look/strength of my body, but the daily movement and focus on diet is what controls the size/weight of the body.
So just because you are crunched for time, it doesn’t mean you need to skip the gym altogether. Even if you can’t get to the gym due to time – hit some bodyweight work. The possibilities are literally endless.
The same focus goes with nutrition.
Had a “bad” breakfast, so you just say the heck with it, and eat like crap the rest of the day?
Get a flat tire, and say the heck with it and slash the other 3?
It’s pretty much the same thing.
Those who are most successful with their relationship with food are those who practice true moderation, have at least some awareness of what they put in their bodies and are as consistent as possible.
True Moderation – enjoying a piece of birthday cake for your child’s birthday
Not Moderation – “only” eating 2 cookies every day, eating cake because it’s a stressful day at work, or having a nightcap to wind down from work (yes, daily drinking is not moderation, and will not help you with any physique goals.)
Awareness of Food – knowing what a high-calorie food is, and taking action to make an educated swap. Knowing that liquid calories are some of the easiest calories to cut – and doing it. Any many more basic examples.
No awareness of food – literally not knowing what is in what you eat. Or even worse is thinking you know and having no idea.
Consistent as Possible – have a holiday or birthday? Sweet, enjoy it and get right back to schedule the next day.
Not consistent as possible – “well, it’s my birthday week so I might as well start eating like crap now”….” well, it was my birthday and that was on a Thursday, so I might as well just enjoy the whole rest of the week”
“I’m going on this hardcore diet of kale baths and lemon shots to lose 10 pounds before Spring Break”
– the same person struggles with that same 10 pounds up and down their whole life…
I talk about it often, “play the long game” when it comes to nutrition/diet/exercise. Keep chipping away at it…
BUT you have to actually be chipping away at it too, or the long game is the really long game…
Build simple, sustainable habits, and build more on top of them. Do it consistently, do it knowingly, and good things will happen. It doesn’t have to be a 2-hour workout or kale and lemon enema cleanses…just do a little bit more or better than you are doing right now, and you will start to see changes.
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Stay healthy my friends,
This might be something you have never heard a dietitian mutter before, but salads aren’t necessarily that good for you.
What?!?!? Salads?!? The FIRST thing people gravitate towards when it is time to lose weight? Yes, salads.
As soon as someone decides to lose weight they start eating salads. Loaded with healthy veggies, and minimal calories, salads are a sure fire way to drop some lbs…maybe.
A client sent me this accurate depiction of a classic dieter’s week yesterday:
Pretty accurate I must say.
So why am I hating on salads?
1) They can be more calories than you think.
Just because it’s mostly veggies, doesn’t make it the healthiest choice. Depending on what else is on it, the salad option can be one of the heaviest options at a restaurant.
Toppings that aren’t necessarily “bad”, but can lead to the calories adding up are:
- The dressing
- Type of meat
- Candied nuts
- Dried fruit
Here are some examples of calorie levels of some hefty salads:
- Applebees Asian Chicken Salad – 1440
- Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Cesear – 720
- California Pizza Kitchen Waldorf Chicken – 1310 (below)
(Looks pretty healthy, doesn’t it?)
Again, not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but being aware of the fact that JUST because something is a salad, doesn’t automatically make it a healthy option.
Also, most salads on the menu’s at fast food joints come in around 350-600 calories, but these calorie listings DO NOT include the dressing, so make sure you are aware of that, and aware of how much dressing you put on it.
2) They can be too little calories and not enough nourishment.
As seen in the week;y diet picture above, eating salad everyday lead to a weekend binge.
This can also be the case with salads. They don’t pack enough nutrition to really be considered a meal.
Veggies are great, yes. But, if it is mostly iceberg or romaine lettuce, then you really are just eating a bunch of semi-fibrous water. Not much nutrient quality to be found in those “veggies”
Sure, maybe the salad fills you up physically because it takes up a ton of volume in your stomach, but you might find yourself hungry an hour or 2 later because eating only vegetables is not a real meal.
Google “low-calorie salads” and you will see articles spewing the most ridiculous garbage about 200-300 calorie salads that they claim are excellent meals to help you lose weight.
Sorry, but if you consider 200-300 calories a meal…yikes…
Now, one “meal” a day in that range might work for you, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you like to have more food at dinner… but having 3 meals at that range is not a healthy approach to weight loss! You won’t just lose water weight and some fat, but also muscle mass and your mind! Not good!
Undereating through willpower can only get you so far, and eventually, your body will fight you back. So please please please, do not go around eating the 200 calorie salad and calling it a meal.
How to make salads work for you
Now that I have shredded and diced apart salads, I’m going to come back and make peace with the salad.
They can be fantastic meals.
After a weekend of eating crap, our go-to Sunday dinner is this amazing salad: http://makinloveinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2012/07/famous-chopped-chicken-salad.html
However, to make sure that they actually align with your goals you need to first be aware of a few things:
- How many calories are in this salad?
- Is their protein?
- Does it align with my goals?
First, knowing the calories is key. Don’t just assume that it is low. If you make it at home, measure out the added ingredients like nuts, fruit, dressing, etc. These things can add up FAST and if you are just guesstimating them, your calculations can be WAY off. (for example, a Tbsp. of walnuts is about 2 walnut halves…you probably put more than 2 walnut halves on your salad)
Second, protein. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and you also need a certain amount of it to maintain muscle mass, and muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This is the bodies process of building and maintaining muscle, and the threshold has been found to be about 30g of protein per feeding time to reach max MPS. This isn’t just for meathead bros, but for anyone who wants to live a long, healthy and independent life…that should be all of us!
Look for salads with grilled, not breaded, chicken. These will usually be your best option – and ask for a double serving of protein.
Third, make sure it aligns with your goals. If you are trying to become a better athlete, a salad might not be the best option. Athletes need carbs, and they are usually pretty short when it comes to a salad. Also, if you train hard, and are just trying to maybe look more like an athlete, or a beach babe…you need carbs! I’m not saying Michael Phelps level carbs, but you need some to fuel your training, so you can get the most out of your time at the gym.
One of my online coaching clients went from 23 to 19% body fat as we INCREASED her carbs slowly (currently eating 270 grams per day)…and she’s still going!
Salads aren’t always the best thing you can eat, but they definitely can be better than many options out there. Like anything else when it comes to nutrition, awareness and some education are KEY for making foods work for you, without having to stress so much about eating things that you don’t like.
Do you need to eat salads to lose weight? Nope, but you can if you want – just make sure you are salad-ing responsibly.
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Stay healthy my friends,