by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Last night as I was wrapping up a training session, my client randomly asked "how do you eat so perfect all the time?". I started to laugh but stopped myself realizing she was serious. She followed up with "I mean don't you ever just want to eat chocolate?". My response, "why yes I do, in fact I eat chocolate everyday!". *gasp!!* Yes I have a confession...I often practice imperfect eating. Often intentionally! I personally eat anything but perfectly clean. What is perfect eating anyway?? I absolutely believe that nutrition, diet & food preferences are so individual. It's why I'm not a fan of cookie cutter meal plans. One size does not fit all! While there are lots of commonalities I believe every person should use as a nutritious base, the question is who are you & what are your goals! So I thought I'd get personal & show a few of my "less than perfect foods" I include in MY diet. And more importantly how they fit in the bigger picture of my total intake, mindset & goals. My top 5 foods I include almost weekly: 1. Wine: I LOVE wine. A juicy glass of cab is better to me than a slice of cake or any other food. No I don't mean I down bottles at a time but I do include a few glasses every weekend. But I skip Sunday-Thursday. Balance! 2. Quest Bars: yep these are prepackaged processed protein bars. They do have one of the shortest ingredients list for a high protein bar that i've seen but I don't lie to myself about them. They are a sweet treat that's not as nutrient dense as many other options. But they make me happy, satisfy my sweet tooth & keep me from overdoing other desserts. For where I am now, they can fit within my diet while not negatively affecting my progress. So they're an often daily staple. 3. Skippy's PB: this "natural" peanut butter is not the best choice available. I typically recommend ingredients that are simply peanuts + salt. This has evaporated cane syrup & a few other added sweeteners. Perfect? Nope! But it reminds me of my childhood & tastes SO much better then the organic version. I eat 1tbsp, 1-2x a week without guilt. 4. Dark Chocolate PB Cups: Obviously i'm a peanut butter lover. While candy has never been a big temptation, I do love Reese's. Then I found these trader joes dark chocolate version & fell in love. They live in my fridge & when I really have a hankering, I eat 1! They're not off limits & always available so I don't fear never having them again. Once a week or less I grab 1 & enjoy every bite! 5. Pumpkin O's: I've never had a great relationship with cereal in all honesty. It's a food I have struggled with totally overdoing & finding myself staring into the bottom of a box I just opened. It can be a cycle of overeating & guilt that I know is a trigger. So I don't eat cereal frequently. Plus I have a gluten sensitivity so I avoid for the sake of my for my digestion. But I found these gluten free pumpkin o's & fell in love. I don't want to fear cereal so it's there lurking in the back of my cabinet. Bc it's not off limits but also not the first thing I see. In fact I usually forget it's there until it's gone stale. Which I'm not eating. Yet when I want it on top of a cold yogurt banana bowl I pull that box out, sprinkle a handful on top & stash it in the back of the pantry. Once a week or so I might remember to eat it if the craving hits! Now a few things to point out. These foods make up maybe 10% of my TOTAL intake on a weekly basis. The rest of my meals are filled with tons of eggs, vegetables, fruit & meat! I make sure my daily must haves of water, a big ass salad & every meal based around a solid protein source are met first. Then I sprinkle these extras around where desired. Like the icing on the cake ;) Another important individual factor I consider when including more or less of my "imperfect foods" is my goals. I am NOT trying to lose fat or make major physique changes at the moment. I know SHOCKING right? A woman who's goal isn't to get skinnier! But that's not where i'm at currently, I'm in maintenance mode. IF I was trying to make body composition changes, I would reevaluate my intake of some of these foods. You can't have it all, all the time.That's a BIG reason why you shouldn't compare your plate to others. When people ask what I eat every day I preface it with this is how I eat for:~ my activity = workouts & active job ~ my goals = maintenance mode ~ what i can stick to = completely individual I also pay attention to my body. Often when I include too many foods lacking in nutrient density I find I'm not feeling my best. If my hunger &/or cravings for these foods start to drastically increase, it may be time to scale back or take a break. If my energy drops or digestion gets wonky, that's a sign I need to focus on foods that nourish me more. I'm losing strength in the gym or mental focus on work? Time to reassess. It's not punishment or deprivation & those foods will still be there. This is a big aspect of how I work through balanced eating with my nutrition coaching clients. It takes time, experimentation, education & uncovering what your REAL goals are beyond the scale. As often, I have personally realized I wasn't willing to or at a place where the sacrifice to change was worth the outcome. Which was actually a relief to recognize & stop beating myself up over failing to reach a goal I didn't really want! Nutrition & fitness SHOULD enhance your life. If that's something your still struggling with message me about my personalized nutrition coaching. You are not your diet, your weight or pants size & you CAN find a way to make it all contribute to being the best YOU! firstname.lastname@example.org
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
The weekday breakfast is what starts our busy day off on the right, or often totally wrong foot. Most people are rushing out the door & lucky to give their bodies any fuel to power through their mornings. The standard diet is a high carb, high sugar option such as cereal, bagels, pastries & granola. I totally understand the lack of wanting to dedicate much time to dirtying up extra pans. Our brains are on so many to do's that building the perfectly balanced breakfast isn't always feasible. While I do suggest some awesome make ahead meals such as a healthy frittata, sometimes you just have to grab what's on hand & go!My husband is absolutely one of those people & for years grabbed his individual flavored yogurt, topped it with some pre-packaged granola & quickly consumed on the way out the door. Insert Emma...*evil laugh*...Overtime I started to offer him a few simple swaps to upgrade the nutrition he was getting. I knew he would not be on board with adding any more difficulty to his morning routine so instead of aiming for perfection, we aimed for homemade higher quality.Old Breakfast:
- 1/2c Cherry Vanilla Granola (Back to Nature):
- 1/2c Homemade Granola (recipe below)
Classic Homemade Granola:
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats (we use gluten free)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4c honey or maple syrup (I use 2tbsp honey + 2tbsp maple)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanila
1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees & line baking sheet w/ foil.
2. Whisk together coconut oil, honey, salt & vanilla in a bowl.
3. Add oats & stir to coat throughly.
4. Add granola to baking sheet & cook for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once midway through.
5. Let cool & store in airtight container.
* I have reduced both the oil & honey for a less sweetened version which turned out great. I usually add chopped almonds to this basic mix for extra crunch!
You may not be completey ready to do a full pantry clean, ditch every food habit you're attached to or strive to be the next healthy iron chef. BUT that doesn't mean that the small upgrades over time won't add up! Change your mindset to view it as what nutrition can you ADD to your meals, instead of what has to be taken away!
Small changes over time creates consistency. Consistency trumps perfection every time!
What's one staple in your diet you KNOW is not ideal but need help to upgrade? Let me know so we can troubleshoot it together! Leave me a comment or email me at: email@example.com
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I decided to start this Nutrition Roadblock Series to address the most common barriers to achieving your sustainable healthy weight that I hear across clients, friends & have personally experienced along the journey. This first topic is near & dear to my heart because I think anyone that's been in a relationship or marriage has struggled with it.My first year dating my husband was amazing! Ok yes I'm going to go all cheese ball on you but bare with me for a moment. We met via a run group going on 5 years ago now, a healthy activity right? Absolutely! But during our courtship we ran a few miles, followed by wine & dining ourselves across most of the restaurants in Savannah. For me, I had been living by myself for several years, mostly ate at home, drank only on occasion & definitely did not indulge in dessert on a nightly basis. Yet I found myself digging into the appetizer he wanted to order. Always finishing my entree just because he did. And definitely enjoying that extra glass of wine we ordered over a shared dessert to end the evening. All super romantic right? Well yes but 10lbs or more later, I was not feeling like myself or good in my body. And what about him? Yea he hadn't changed a bit. Men...After a year of dating we moved in together. I was still very much struggling to both fit in to old jeans & say no to the extra servings at dinner or dining out on a daily basis. It wasn't fair! We both ran, I went to the gym far more frequently then he did & yet even switching to more salads still wasn't making the impact on my waistline I wanted. I wasn't at an unhealthy weight by any stretch & he still thought I looked amazing, but that wasn't the point. I didn't feel good in my skin, I wasn't listening to what my body needed, I didn't stop eating when I was full or not eat when I simply wasn't hungry. It was definitely a learning curve I had to work on.So what did I do? Baby steps:
1. Communication: Yes it was uncomfortable for me to admit & I didn't want to sound like that girl saying I was fat to get a compliment. But I got 100% honest with my husband about how I was feeling & what I needed from him. I told him that constantly going out to eat was a struggle for me, that when I first said no I don't want dessert it made it hard when he insisted & that most of all I needed his support to get back to feeling my best! Also important to note, I did not BLAME him! I am responsible for my own actions & while I wanted his support, ultimately I put the food in my own mouth.
2. Evaluate: I started writing down what I ate every day to become more mindful. I used a journal to not only note what I ate, but how I felt before & after. Was I hungry or stressed when I ate? Did I say "sure I could eat" just because he asked? Did I refill my plate automatically when he did, even if I was satisfied. I worked on making notes without judgement or even making changes. I just needed to become more aware of where the problems were so I could fix it.
3. Action: It was time to take steps to slowly make better choices for ME & my needs.
~ Clean Out: first I emptied the house of any junk food that tempted me. That made the nightly ice cream habit much easier to ditch. How did my husband react? He didn't really care if it made me happy. Happy wife, happy life yes?
~ Portions: I realized my portion sizes had become as big as my husbands. That is a problem because reality is ladies, we don't have the same energy needs as our bigger male counterparts. It may feel unfair but that's a fact that's not going to change. I began eating off salad size plates as opposed to his dinner plates. Smaller bowls for soups & such. That easy swap made a HUGE difference right off the bat!
~ Dining Out: I instituted Sunday meal prep. It's wasn't the meal prep that was so important as it was taking the time to sit with my husband & discuss the week ahead. We each voiced our goals & how we could support each other. We each had a say in what meals we would make that we enjoyed & didn't leave us running for take out because we had no food in the house.
~ Simple Swaps: There were plenty of nights my husband had a specific craving that didn't really fit within my perimeters for MY nutrition needs. I got efficient at make simple swaps to keep up both happy! Spaghetti? Sure! I just may use spaghetti squash or zoodles over regular noodles. He wanted rice? No problem, I had the option of making cauliflower rice or simply doubling up on the veggies. And if he needed to go all out pizza mode, I'm a grown woman & did my own damn thing.I never went into crazy diet mode, made him feel limited & didn't beat myself up over the occasional overindulgence. Over time I started to feel better, became more in touch with my bodies hunger signals & this became our new normal. Yes, I am lucky to have a supportive spouse who is pretty patient with my needs. Not everyone does & maybe that's a red flag that needs to be considered. But I have found in most cases, a lack of honest communication & support it the problem.Couples can be each others best friends in a health journey or worst enemies. So get real with each other! Focus on the WHY behind the need to clean up your dietary intake. Is it to look good in skinny jeans (which is fine!) or to set a healthy household example? Also consider if you are being the best spouse you can be or are you just as guilty of instigating unhealthy habits. I think we have all convinced our significant other to join in on our treat to make ourselves feel less guilty. Work on changing your own habit first to be the best spouse you can be. A strong healthy team can be unbreakable!Do you struggle with mirroring your significant others eating?
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
There is nothing that makes me happier than walking in the gym to see a floor full of motivated people of all ages working out. I absolutely believe that showing up & doing SOMETHING is better then sitting on the sofa. However I also tend to see the same hard working face, walking through the same workout routine 5 days a week year after year. And guess what? They look exactly the same year after usually. Often still talking about wanting lose that last 10lbs or look more "toned" or whatever their goal may be.Frustrating right? It breaks my heart every time I see people being consistent, working what they perceive to be hard & putting in the time to no results. Ready to change that? Me too! First up, my Top 6 Common Mistakes I see gym goers making that are stealing their results. Ask yourself, is this you?
1. Not Following a Program: You walk into the gym & blankly look around at the equipment like a lost puppy dog. With no rhyme or reason you do a few curls here, maybe try out that ab machine there, 10 reps no 20? After 20 minutes of a miscellaneous mash up "workout" you hit the door. Kudos for showing up but I can promise you there are more effective ways to use that 20 minutes. Decide what your #1 goal is & find a program that fits.
2. Never Changing Up Your Plan: Wait didn't you just say stick to a program? Well yes..but it is also important to mix it up in an smart & progressive way. I see the most consistent faces in the gym hitting the same 5 machines in a row or getting on the elliptical at the same pace for 45 minutes Monday through Friday. Your body adapts to that & is not going to push to make the changes you are seeking.
3. Not Challenging Yourself with Heavier Weights: Not to hate on the pretty pink dumbbells but if you are lifting a weight you could repeat all day, it's not heavy enough. Yet again, you have to challenge your body! You don't need to go to failure every time but as a general rule the last few reps should be VERY difficult. Please don't be afraid to get bulky, that is all diet & you will not wake up tomorrow looking like the Hulk. And if you do, try to get a better hairstyle..
4. Focusing on Small Muscle Groups Over Compound Movements: I understand that everyone enjoys the burn of some ab work, tricep dips & manly bicep curls. BUT those are small muscle groups that can be worked within then more beneficial compound movements. It's fine if you want to throw a few of those exercises in at the end but the bulk of your workout should be big muscle group movements like squats, pulling, pressing & hip hinging. Unless you are a professional body builder, please ditch the abs & arms day.
5. Too Much Cardio: I'm going to leave this response a little short because this isn't the post for a cardio rant BUT doing tons of cardio every week is not going to make you "toned", feel sexy naked, have a fast metabolism, bone health & so on. In fact, doing too much will make it impossible to achieve any of that. Yes even if your goal is fat loss! Doing some is fine but balance it with strength training & gear cardio towards interval workouts for you best body yet.
6. Constantly Searching for the "Perfect Plan": You try a plan for a week & say "I don't see any difference" so you jump ship & find a new one. Results takes time, embrace the process! There is NO perfect program & many different formats can work amazingly. Especially if you are a newbie gym goer. Find one that fits your goals, lifestyle, time availability & that you can stick to. Give it a try for MONTHS, not days or weeks! I promise it will pay off.
- Write down you TOP goal. Yes I know we all want to lose 10lbs, build muscle, run a race & so on but having too many goals leaves us spinning our wheels. Decide what is most important for the next 12 weeks to start an action program to get you there.
- Talk to a Professional: even if you can't workout with a trainer, run coach or yoga instructor 3 days a week, we are here to help! Set up a consult to discuss what you'd like to accomplish, your health history, current activity level, lifestyle & let them guide you to a realistic plan you can feel good about.
- Analyze Your Lifestyle: I don't know how many times new clients start with me & say I have to workout to lose these last 10lbs. When I ask about their diet, sleep & stress? It's a hot mess. As the phrase goes, you can't out exercise a bad diet but the same goes for stressful lifestyle factors. Total picture!