Are ALL Calories Created Equal?

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Mindset Nutrition

image1One of my favorite aspects of training & coaching is starting with a brand new client. They are always eager to get going & full of questions I love answering. As I do with most clients interested in improving their nutrition, I requested she come in with a few days worth of a detailed food journal. Super helpful for both of us to look through!I saw what is fairly standard for many who have gone through the Weight Watchers, Atkins or similar dietary protocols:

  • Breakfast: Blueberry WW Muffin
  • Snack: Atkins Protein Bar
  • Lunch: Frozen Microwave Diet Meal
  • Snack: Protein Cookie
  • Dinner: Plain Salad w/ Bland Chicken & Low Fat Dressing
  • Dessert: Diet Ice Cream Bar Total Calories = 1200
She was super proud to have stayed under the "ideal" 1200 calorie diet yet was frustrated she wasn't loosing weight. Not to mention was having sugar cravings (hello all the sweet "diet" foods), had low energy, frequent migraines & a general sense of feeling YUCK!It's super frustrating to see this approach given so much mainstream media attention. Yet it makes total sense! It's easy to sell X brand "diet" food or protein muffin or whatever is marketable. It's hard to brand & sell, say broccoli? LOLIn frustration she bluntly asked me if all calories are created equal? Fair enough. Calories DO count & i'll never say as long as you just eat "real food" you will always lose weight. I've absolutely seen people overdo all the avocado or go NUTS on their portions to create a caloric surplus. BUT I 100% believe that not all calories are created equal. Why?YOU CAN EASILY BE IN A CALORIC SURPLUS YET BE NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENT. In fact i'd say that's MOST people these days. All those diet foods are calorically dense but nutritionally devoid. AKA they lack the needed macronutrients, vitamins, minerals & key components to allow our body to work optimally. Ex: Eating 300 calories of nutritionally dense wild caught salmon IS NOT the same as eating a 300 calorie giant cookie. One has healthy protein, fats, omega 3's & the other has processed flour & sugar. Salmon will keep you full longer & not trigger blood sugar spikes, sugar cravings & energy lows like said delicious but not so nutritious cookie. Make sense?While my client totally got what I was saying, she was concerned that meant she could never have her sweet treats! Instead we struck a bargain. Over the course of a month, we'd work on swapping out each processed meal for a more whole foods based option. All while including a treat each night if she was really craving it. Deal she said! So in came egg based breakfasts, veggie based lunches, & protein, veggie & whole food carbs at dinner. The funniest thing happened! She lost weight, had more energy, stopped being starving all the time & by week 3 she no longer craved that daily sugar hit. All while eating more food & still having a dessert here & there!Long ramble short, filling the majority of meals with mostly whole foods will give your body the nutrients it needs to work optimally. We shouldn't have a constant 3pm energy drops, all day cravings, 24/7 bloating & other "common" but NOT normal side effects from food. Fill the majority of your diet with real food & it means those little imperfect foods won't make or break your health.Have any questions you want addressed? Message or comment below for my weekly Q&A posts!

Flippin Delicious Whole Food Carbohydrates

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Nutrition Recipes Uncategorized

Every decade seems to have the source of all evil (or fat) macronutrient. For years we endured fat phobia! Fat free foods lined the shelves & as companies removed the evil fat, told you to ditch your butter & replaced it with yummy chemicals like hydrogenated XYZ. YUM Chemicals! Thankfully that trend of low fat living seems to have passed once everyone realized they were ADDING body fat by eating less dietary fat. So of course we are on to demonizing the next macronutrient.Good-Carbs-vs-Bad-Carb-300x217

INSERT low carb everything!! *Sigh*

Carbs aren't bad

Fat is not bad

Protein isn't bad

It's all in the quality, quantity & what's best for YOU! The biggest issue I see with carbs is the dependency on super processed options such as long ingredient breads, pastas, breakfast pastries, sugar filled cereals, "fruit" filled yogurts & so on. These foods aren't BAD because they are carbohydrates, they aren't IDEAL because they are super processed & not very nutrient dense. SO when people ask if they should go low carb I say YES you should go low Kashi for breakfast, a "whole wheat" sandwich for lunch & organic pasta for dinner. You SHOULD replace those with mostly amazingly delicious, super nutritious whole food (single ingredient) carbohydrate options.

What am I talking about:

  • Sweet Potatoes

  • Winter Squash: butternut, pumpkin, kabocha, delicata, spaghetti, acorn etc.

  • Plantains

  • Parsnips

  • Beets

  • White Potatoes **GASP**

These are the highest quality & most beneficial carbohydrates that our body can best utilize for energy without crappy additives. Am I say NEVER have pasta or bread? No but maybe not every day of the week. Especially if your goal is fat loss or optimizing your health.

Ok enough WHY you should eat the good starchy foods, let's chat HOW! I've become the queen of incorporating these carby root vegetables into every meal of my day. I've gathered a few easy starter recipes PLUS more fun recipes around the web. Ready to upgrade your boring bread, pasta & grain based diet to include MORE whole food based carbohydrates?? Woohoo!!

ParsnipParsnips:

A first cousin of the carrot with a sweeter taste & starchier make up. This root veggie is delicious in a variety of preparations including roasted, baked into fries & mashed or pureed. Give this mashed recipe a try, I find the taste SO much more flavorful then standard mashed potatoes. Plus it adds that texture contrast we crave!

 Garlic Mashed Parsnips:Ingredients:- 1 lb parsnips (my store sells them in a bag)- 1/3c unsweetened almond milk (or liquid such as coconut milk or broth)- 1 tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste (or add herbs of choice!)- 1 tbsp fat (coconut or olive oil, butter or ghee)6952340499717b93683c65d2b07ab63cDirections: 1) Peel and chop the parsnips like you would a carrot.2) Boil the parsnips until tender. Drain.3) Add in other ingredients and mash! I use my immersion blender, but a hand or stand mixer would work the same. Basically do the same as you would for mashed potatoes, which I know you all know how to make. Other Awesome Parsnips Recipes:Paprika Parsnip Fries w/ SrirachaCider Roasted Carrots, Parsnips & Brussel Sprouts (my add in!)Parsnip & Kale Soup 

0923_gunst-squash4-e1411417750609Winter Squash:

While most people have tried butternut squash, there are SO many varieties of deliciously creamy winter squashes!  These healthy whole foods carb source has a never ending amount of preparations to where you will never tire of the great squash.

 Super Simple Roasted Kabocha Squash:Ingredients:- Kabocha Squash- Coconut Oil- Salt & Peppertumblr_lsom5leAfs1qdei8mDirections:1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees & line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.2. Use a GOOD knife to cut squash in half & scoop out seeds from the center.3. Toss with coconut oil, salt & pepper, lay flat on baking sheet.4. Cook for around 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.Other Favorite Winter Squash Recipes:Rosemary Bacon Butternut Squash FriesTurkey & Mushroom Stuffed Delicata SquashPizza Spaghetti Squash Pie - my FAVplantains

Plantains:

Plantains are a member of the banana family but contain more starch & are lower in sugar.Green plantains are less ripe & usually cooked in a savory way. The yellow overripe variety is on the sweeter side & often used for dessert recipes.

 Simply Sautéed Plantains:Ingredients:- 1-2 Slightly Yellow Plantains (w/ black spots like an overripe banana)- Coconut Oil- Himalayan Sea Salt (bc it's so tasty)Directions:Plantains5-7251. Heat medium sauté pan to medium, peel the plantain & slice 1-1 1/2 inches thick. TIP: I slice the peel long ways down each side to make easier to peel.2. Add coconut oil to the pan, let heat up & add plantains. Cook 2-3 minutes on one side until golden brown & flip for another minute or so.3. Sprinkle w/ salt & enjoy! I love these for breakfast beside eggs & kale!Other Go-To Plantain Recipes:Chicken Mofongo - SO good!Homemade Plantain ChipsPlantain Tortillas

Ready, Set, GO FORTH & cook your way into deliciously nutritious carbohydrate heaven. I promise you won't miss mediocre bread or boxed pasta when you can have flavorful plantains or creamy mashed parsnips. Gauge your portion on about a palm sized portion for us ladies & two palm sized portions for you gentlemen. I stick with 2 servings a day with 1 meal being mostly lean greens, protein & that healthy fat for fuel! But you do you, test, notice how you feel & adjust as needed to FEEL your best. Happy trial & error! <3

Have a QUESTION or favorite RECIPE to share?? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at emma@healthybalancewithemma.com. Follow me on IG to see MORE ways I incorporate many of these recipes into my day.

Things I’m Loving Lately + Fun Holiday FIT Gift Guide

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness Nutrition Uncategorized

Things I'm Loving Lately 

~ December Holiday FITguide ~

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I don't know about you but I am ALWAYS in search of new fun gift ideas for friends that I haven't repeated a billion times already. I tend to be a little idea fatigued for new gifts to go under the tree come December so I LOVE reading what others are loving lately. As someone who LIVES in my workout gear I have found certain lifestyle related items that I can't do without! Not to mention tried out a lot more that I quickly ditched. Check out a few fun must haves for yourself or a FIT friend this season.

#1: Wireless Ear Buds - MPOW Bluetooth

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For years & years I hit the gym daily with the standard ear buds that drove me CRAZY! They'd get wrapped around a barbell or stuck on my clothes & I spent more time sticking the damn things back in my ears then wearing them. How am I suppose to keep people from talking to me without earbuds in??? Kidding (NOT!!)

 

Embarrassingly enough it took my dear husband's simple comment of "why don't you get wireless headphones?" for me to go DUH!! Oh the little things in life can bring me SO much happiness. I tested out multiple brands (many which broke) & ended up loving the mpow earbuds. They stay in while even when running, which was a must for me! They come with multiple size attachments which helped them fit me perfectly. Plus they are only $25 on amazon. Oh amazon how I love thee<3

#2: Beauty Counter - Nontoxic Skin Care (that doesn't suck!)

charcoal-bar

Truth be told I was never big on "products". Lotions, face wash, make up & such was never something I gave much attention to. Much less made me excited enough to talk about. Until I started struggling with severely dry skin & some break outs. Not fun as an adult! As I did more research into products on the market I was honestly shocked & appealed by the harmful chemicals that are in ALL of the mainstream products. Even those deemed "natural", don't even get me started on that sneaky marketing...

As someone who cares about what I put in my body via food, I felt rather silly realizing how much crap I was putting on my skin. The biggest organ in the body! I tried out a few hippy dippy products that frankly SUCKED. Natural deodorant was a no go, yet I couldn't un-know what I learned about traditional skin care products so I kept searching. Finally I was introduced to Beauty Counter products & it changed the game. Yes higher quality products were more expensive so I transitioned little by little. As I ran out of shampoo I replaced it. No more lotion? I tried out BC products. Honestly I have loved almost everything to the point I signed up as a consultant to share with others. Plus get my own discount right? :) My favs so far:

  • Charcoal Bar & Mask: LOVE for my skin & has cleared up a lot of my uneven skin tone issues.
  • Tinted Moisturizer: This is super light weight & doesn't wreck my skin after using.
  • Lotion/Body Scrub: I prioritize the products I use daily on the biggest areas of my body so this was a must!

For anyone who is into the their skin care routine, overall health, environmentally conscious or just enjoys fun beauty products, these make GREAT gifts. Check out more here or message me for questions about beauty counter!

#3: QALO Silicone Wedding Rings

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For anyone that workouts in ANY way on a regular basis or works with their hands, these rings are SO FUN! I heard about them on a podcast & decided to order a pair for my husband & I. He was thrilled with man jewelry as a gift PS... ;) These bands are so practical for protecting your wedding rings (or regular rings) not to mention your hands from being scratched, pinched or get in the way of your activity. Even in yoga I get annoyed when my ring flips over on the mat BUT honestly I hate taking them off.

 

Maybe because I'm still (sorta) a newlywed but I enjoy wearing my wedding band, even when working out. Heck especially at the gym around certain men... Not to mention I hate to taking off my wedding rings while out & about for fear of losing. NIGHTMARE!! I also LOVE that you can have these engraved, they come in so many cute colors & are super affordable. Hence when you lose one like me, it's not big deal to replace. A fun hubby & wife gifts or a stocker stuffer for others. PS use the code GGW at checkout & get 15% off your order.

Other FUN Fitness Ideas to Checkout:

  • Healthy Human Water Bottles:  so CUTE & practical. I totally use mine everyday & love how eco-friendly they are.51ibxnw12el

  • Vital Protein Collagen: ok maybe a weird one for most BUT this is my favorite health supplement type product that in addition to beauty counter, has done awesome things for my tendons, joints, hair, skin & nails! It mixes right into my morning coffee with no funky taste & I take it every single day.vital-proteins-collagen-peptides

  • Cute Workout Totes: who doesn't love a stylish bag to take to the gym on the daily. I got mine from Fabletics but also love these from LuluLemon, Athleta & Nike.lulu

  • Cozy Leg Warmers: I love being warm & cozy come winter, even in my workout gear. These cute leg warmers go right over those shorter capris & look super cute. Time for me to snag a new pair in fact!cn12341521

  • Activity Trackers: i've been using my Jawbone up 24 for years & totally love it. It's fun to check in on my steps, sleep, heart rate & even water intake!! Plus compete with clients & friends on who can stay the most active each week. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone. ;)20151111_jawboneup3

  • Stocking Stuffer Fun: As a self proclaimed Quest Bar addict, i'd be stoked to have these slightly pricey protein bars fall into my stocking. PS fav flavors include cookies & cream, chocolate chip, s'mores, white chocolate raspberry, oatmeal chocolate chip, rocky road, coconut cashew & blueberry! Other favorite bars include RX Bars & Lara Bars.

    Other fun ideas include subscription box gift cards like my fav Sunbasket or Hello Fresh. Heck a Whole Food's or Trader Joe's gift card for those health conscious foodie friends would be a hit as well.

    (haha I had to throw this in)

    That's a wrap folks! Haha get it? Wrap..like wrapping paper for Christmas. Ok I make myself laugh at least.. Hope this helps spark some fun ideas for friends, family & yes even YOU! Self care right?

** ANY FAVORITE FINDS YOU ARE LOVING LATELY???

SUNDAY MEAL PLAN: WEEK OF 12/4-12/9

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Habits Recipes Uncategorized

11709665_10152999976828589_2402333278699294805_n{SUNDAY MEAL PLAN}

It's been a minute since I shared our meal & prep plan for the week ahead. Never fear it's still been a Sunday staple but we've been keeping in on the boring side out of ease. This week we are making a few new recipes PLUS I'm indulging my hubby in a mid-week Mexican food penciled in.

Tonight we will be prepping the first few night's protein & sides so we can simply saute a few veggies to have food on the table quickly:

SUNDAY: Chicken Mofongo w/ Simply Kalep1090088

MONDAY: Ina Garden's Roasted Chicken w/ Fall Roasted Veggies

TUESDAY: Leftovers - Monfongo or Chicken, to each is own!

WEDNESDAY: Jalapeno's - hubby' request! I typically get fajitas w/ blacks beans & guacamole

THURSDAY: Salmon w/ Baked Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli - Straight from the freezer to oven!

FRIDAY: Out to Dinner w/ Friends - Heading to a new spot, the Atlantic Eatery! 

SUNDAY PREP PLANS:page-130-web-horizon

  • Cook the mofongo for tonight & to have as leftover for lunch or a dinner. We are using chicken thighs instead of breast because they were on sale! Easy swaps to save a buck.

  • Roasted the chicken! Again i'll use the leftovers on top of salad for lunch at least once. PS If you haven't made Ina's perfect roasted chicken, you must! It's awesome to have in your culinary arsenal.

  • Chop the veggies for tomorrow night & make vinaigrette for it plus to use on salads. Monday's I get off work in time to roast those bad boys in the oven. If it was a laer work night i'd go ahead & roast them tonight to reheat tomorrow.

  • Since the oven will be on I am going to roast some beets, chopped sweet potato & broccoli to have throughout the week. Having these pre-cooked veggies make it MUCH easier to increase my veggie intake every day!bananabread2

  • I'm craving banana bread so I'm going to try out this recipe but make them into muffin. I may toss in some leftover canned pumpkin just for a little fall flavor. Will let ya know if good!

That's about it around these parts. Keeping it simple & making it easy for us to get in home made meals on the busiest of weeks.

What's on your weekly meal plan? Any new recipes your are testing out?

My “Moderation Moto”: Why the “Unsexy” Approach is Sustainable

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

Let's chat moderation shall we? One of the most frequent conversations I have with clients who are struggling with consistency in their dietary choices deals w/ the dreaded ALL OR NOTHING eating mentality. We absolutely live in a go big or go home kind of world.

Insanity Workouts OR Netflix Binge Watching

Chicken & Broccoli OR Pizza & Beer

ON the Diet Bandwagon OR I'll Worry About It Come January

We swing from one extreme to the other on the emotional rollercoaster known as the health & fitness world. Sucks right?

Yet when I talk about practicing moderation, I often get the eye roll of "that's not sexy" or "it won't get 20lbs off the scale in 20 days". And people aren't wrong! Eating moderately probably won't lead to a picture perfect before & after 60 day transformation challenge. It also means you have to experiment a little, stop following all the guru's magic meal plans & actually make a little effort to figure out what moderation means for you.The benefits? It's a lifestyle. It means you can be imperfect & still make progress. It also means you take it one step at a time & can improve a little every single week. You can make your own rules of what works for you, makes you feel best & stop "cheating" the system. Why? It's your damn system to make, break or bulldoze through.Ok lots of vague rambles later, what do I mean by moderation? All I can tell you is what moderation means to ME & what it's given me.everything-in-moderation

Emma's "Moderation" Moto:

~ Eat the majority of my meals based around whole foods: vegetables, fruit, proteins, single ingredient labeled foods & food labels I can actually read all the ingredients. Truthfully I could leave it at this philosophy without a single over answer. WHY? Because WHEN I make the majority of my diet based around whole foods, the few things that sneak in like a piece of momma's poundcake or slice of pizza on a Saturday just don't matter that much. My body functions well, my cravings are in check & the imperfect foods I still enjoy are such a small proportion it's no big deal.~ Stick with food's & portions that make me FEEL good: I don't tolerate gluten well & dairy is only so so. I am NOT demonizing these foods as good or bad. BUT I'm not going to eat them because I feel like shit doing so. The same as eating too much raw broccoli hurts my belly but a handful or pumpkin candy corn is a-ok. It's not good vs bad, it's listening to what my body is telling me. It's loving a big ass salad but still stopping when I am full. Leaving a few bites on the plate at night because I am satisfied instead of stuffed. Having an extra snack when I am truly hungry, not just bored. Or skipping my mid-morning snack because I'm just not hungry today. Slow down & listen!~ Having wine on the weekends: I freakin love wine, this is NO secret. MODERATION for me is keeping it in my diet for my happiness & pleasure. The unfortunate part? I absolutely gain weight when I drink daily vino. I also feel hungover & unhappy when I drink more than a few glasses, man i've gotten old.. BUT that's the reality. Not to mention I don't think it's healthy to drink a glass or two every day to use as a coping device to deal with life. So I have found the balance that works for me is to be 100% ok with skipping the weekend wine & enjoying it on the weekend. I pick GOOD quality wines & enjoy the flavor, how they pair with food & the memories shared over bottles. I don't binge just because "i'm not allowed" to drink during the week & when I'm not in the mood, I don't. Although let's be real with how often that happens.. ;)~ Saying NO to foods I don't actually want to eat out of social pressure: This is a big one for me. I use to really struggle going out with friends, hitting a dinner party or holiday gathering & being able to say NO to foods. I didn't want to "stand out" or be the weird one that says no to the morning donuts everyone is fawning over. I also never wanted to sound rude when I told my mother in law "no thanks" to another piece of her amazing layer cake. BUT ultimately at the end of the day it's my body & I have to live in it. No one that actually cares about me is going to fight with me over what I consume. And if they do? Honestly that's not someone I want to spend my time around. Harsh? Maybe BUT if someone cares about you they should respect & WANT you to feel your best. Frankly I stopped caring about what others thought of me because I was a better person for them when I felt my best self.~ Cooking the majority of my meals at HOME: This one has really become so much more important to me over the years & it has nothing to do with saving money, calories in restaurant foods, making poor choices out or whatever else you typically hear. This is about building a better relationship with where my food comes from, prioritizing spending the time to prepare it, taking pride in eating something I prepared & valuing quality food over the instant gratification huge quantity of food we can get in a drive through. Really think about it? You prepare a home cooked meal of even the simplest breakfast like scrambled eggs, w/ some greens & fresh berries from a farm near you. It's a totally difference experience than hitting McDonald's & shoving it down on the go. For me, this is a self care technique I truly think is not prioritized in this modern age of on the go eating. *Insert "back in my day" answer*~ Enjoying special meals & memories guilt free: Food absolutely has so much family history, bonding & connects us all to each other in meaningful ways. I cherish times of baking cookies in the kitchen w/ my mom or seeing my husband light up like a kid when his mom mentions eating cupcakes straight out of the oven. I've gotten "healthy" & "not so healthy" recipes from family that has emotional meaning I can't describe. So does that mean every holiday I stay away & bring my tupperware of healthier meals? NO! I eat a pancake my mom makes on Christmas morning or have the peanut butter brownies that are my absolute fav! I don't have guilt or anxiety about these activities. Why? Go back to #1 on my list. My pancake is often accompanied by scrambled eggs & fruit. Or I eat a big stack but eat something more nutrient dense for lunch because it makes me FEEL better. I eat a brownie & enjoy every bite, knowing they are in abundance so I don't have to down them all right now. It's memories that I want to BE AROUND FOR, which means taking care of my health. Moderation..As you can see these aren't hard & fast rules or a diet to follow. It's guidelines I hang out in the middle of that fit MY lifestyle. They ebb & flow as everything does in life. What has moderation giving me? The POWER to FEEL good physically, FEEL good about my choices & LIVE the life I want to in a healthy active way. To change my mindset from that of deprivation & self loathing to abundance & self love.Ever thought about your "Moderation MOTO" that could change the game of how you think? Maybe take a few minutes to jot it down, journal it out & even share out loud. I'd love to hear & help!

More on HOW this actually looks for me & what it could look like for YOU in Part 2...

1/2 Marathon Training Updates + Nutrition Tweaks

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Nutrition Recap Uncategorized Workouts

OK I might have failed on those weekly training recaps I spoke about... OOPS! Never the less I am back with a little update of how the last month of training has gone, a few nutrition changes i've made & how I am feeling overall. Let's dig in!!14330080_697935553693035_9048511778216656836_nLast we spoke, my schedule looked like:

  • 2x a week run (one long run & one speed or tempo)
  • 3x a week total body lifting (sticking with a program my coach wrote)
  • 1-2x a week cross training on the bike or swimming (triathlon future?)
  • 1-2x a week yoga (restorative)
While nothing has drastically changed, a lot actually has...
  • Running: I have upped my mileage from less than 15 miles a week to 20-25. I have felt REALLY good on the road lately & have naturally leaned towards wanting to do so a bit more frequently. I am TRYING to stick with only running twice a week BUT a 3rd day has slipped in on occasion. Physically I am feeling ok minus a recent knee flare. I'm going to take it easy from now until race day, as I am not going to get any faster 2 weeks out. The best I can do is rest the knee & see how the day goes!
  • Strength Training: *Sigh* This has me a little frustrated but as previously mentioned, I knew it would take a hit with the extra running. I am still loving lifting BUT it's changed a lot. A month ago I was doing heavier barbell movements in low rep ranges. Example my workout would start with 4 sets of 3 rep back squats or 1 rep max of bench press. With the extra running my central nervous system isn't feeling recovered enough to work on max effort lifts. Instead I am doing a lot more dumbbell & kettle bell work which is a fun change. I am also only going heavier on my legs twice a week. This stinks a bit BUT I wasn't recovering enough from those heavy days 3x a week to have a quality run. I can't have it all, sad I know. However it's still just as important for me to maintain strength training during this time, even if it looks a little different. I am doing a lot more upper body, single leg training & hips/glute work. The key to staying injury free.
  • Nutrition: Damn running! It makes me chronically hungry, which is exactly why I DON'T recommend it as an optimal option for fat loss. I run a lot & I want to eat a lot, it's that simple. The problem? It's very easy to overeat, no matter how many calories you burn through exercise. I have absolutely increased my calorie intake to maintain my weight & fuel my runs. It's not the time to undereat or diet so I am trying to include quality foods to stay more satiated. I have also upped my carbs & more importantly protein! Why protein? I want to maintain as much lean muscle mass as I can & protein is my best way to do so.
  • Body: I don't weigh myself these days so I can't say in terms of lb change. I actually feel as though I have gained a slight bit of weight but who knows OR CARES. As mentioned, I tend to get HUNGRY running & the mix of that with my body never reacting well hormonally to the stress, well it can leave me feeling puffy. Do I like it? No BUT I'm trying to be honest with myself with what I am eating, drinking & keep that balance in check. It's easy to say "I deserve to eat those fries because I ran 10 miles" but I really don't like that mindset. Instead I NEED to eat quality food because my body is recovering. I also don't have to EARN a glass of wine or dessert through exercise so I don't feel the need to justify that either.
I thought I'd give a little sample week of my workouts & day in the life of eats just for fun! This was a day's worth of eats on an upper body lifting day:Breakfast: Roasted sweet potato & broccoli topped w/ goat cheese, eggs & hot sauce. Totally digging the savory breakfast & love getting veggies in to start the day!image1

Lunch: I grabbed a salad from this awesome local shop called Good Greens. My newest addiction! This big box included baby kale, spinach, quinoa, edamame, beets, carrots, pumpkin seeds, feta & chicken. SO GOOD!

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Afternoon Snack: Plain greek yogurt bowl w/ pumpkin & gf pumpkin O's (yay Trader Joe's!). I usually have an afternoon snack to hold me through PM training sessions & not leave me hangry by dinner time. Nothing good comes out of hangry...

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Dinner: Steak salad bowl, which we enjoyed using leftovers that we grilled on Sunday night to make a hearty dinner salad. Steak, sautéed asparagus, onions, tomato, gorgonzola & balsamic dressing. A great way to end the day & took about 10 minutes to whip up. My fav!

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**I think I ended the evening w/ a little Halo Top Ice Cream. That sounds like me.. ;) This day felt great on the food front, as it include all my nutrition non-negotiables! Protein at every meal, lots of veggies & plenty of H20. I also like to include grassfed beef &/or salmon 2-3x a week in addition to pasture raised eggs. Yay high quality fats!

Workouts Lately:

Monday: Upper Body Lifting Day 

1. Incline Bench Press: 4x8-10

2. Pull Ups: 3x5-8

3. Incline Hybrid Flyes: 3x10

4. BB Bent Over Rows: 4x8-10

5A. Strict OH BB Press: 4x8

5B. DB Lateral Raises: 4x10

6A. Straight Bar Tricep Pressdown: 4x12-15

6B. OH Tricep Extension: 4x10

6C. Cable Bicep Curl: 4x10

6D. Cable Bicep Rvs Curl: 4x10

Tuesday: Run + Lower Body Lifting Day

AM: 6 Mile Run

PM: Leg Workout -

1. BB Back Squats: 4x12

2. Leg Press: 4x30 - 20 Wide Stance, 20 Close (OUCH!)

3. BB Front Squats: 4x8-10

4. Walking Lunges: 1:30 minutes on/45 seconds restx3

5A. Lying Leg Curls: 4x12

5B. Glute Kickbacks: 4x12

Wednesday: REST DAY! WOOHOOThursday: 45 Minute Bike Ride + Upper Body Lifting Day (Similar format to Monday but w/ flat presses & arnold presses)Friday: Lower Body Lifting Day (Similar to Tuesday but w/ straight leg deadlifts sprinkled in)Saturday: 12 Mile RunSunday: And again we rest!In total 4 strength days + 3 cardio days + 2 total rest days = 1 happy Emma! I could have squeezed in a yoga day but I didn't. No biggie!So that's a wrap as to what's been going on with me lately! With the race 2 weeks away I'm excited to accomplish a goal & see what I will be aiming for next.Are YOU in tune w/ how to adjust your diet based on your activity & top goals? Let me know in the comments below!

To Snack or Not To Snack… Or Does it Even Matter?

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Habits Nutrition Uncategorized

c9bc43b2-c6a4-4849-ace2-4acbb175e807

3 Meals a Day + 2 Snacks

6 Small Meals a Day

3 Meals + 1 Snack

3 Square Meals a Day

Eating every 2 hours..

No food after dark..

Yes I have experimented with them all! Back in the day I would hear the newest guru promoting the magic number of meals you should eat each day for forever fast fat loss & jump on board. "You should eat every 2 hours to stoke your metabolism"! Of course that makes sense! "Breakfast is a must", well duh! "Don't eat 4 hours before bed?" or "Have snacks between every meal". They all can make sense in a well presented article if the author does a great job selling the idea. And that's not to say they are all wrong.But IS there a optimal amount of snacking you should do to lose weight? YES THERE IS! The magic meal plan is out there & perfect for you. What is it? Easy, whatever works for YOU & you can stick to! I have seen ALL of these formulas work for fat loss success. Ultimately the best plan is what fits within your lifestyle, keeps your hunger, energy & cravings in check & makes you feel good.So how do you know what will work best for you? Let's look at a few common snacking slip ups to see if you fall into any of these categories:

Common Snacking Snafus:

  • Eating Pre-Packaged Junk Food: if you are someone on the go, hates to plan ahead or pack nutrient dense options then snacking may not be for you. People's who's only options (whether options by what they WILL eat or has readily available) are bars, crackers, chips & other lower quality foods then it might be time to rethink their snack game.
  • Overeating on "snack foods": a few crackers with hummus or a handful of nuts? Eh that didn't really satisfy so let me grab another handful or two. These foods can be super easy to overdo the portions & end up calorically adding up to an extra meal or two per day. If you find that a small snack never actually happens, might be time to try a new method.
  • Forcing Smaller Meals to Includes Snacks: I find from a psychological perspective, the 5-6 small meals or snacks approach can be a real negative for certain people. These tiny meals never really fill you up or provide satiety. So instead you fixate on waiting another 2-3 hours for the allowed snack, leading to a constant state of hunger & food fixation. That's not a physically or mentally healthy amount of energy to expend on food.
  • Using For Non-Hunger Needs: We often start to use snacking as a way to soothe stress, boredom, sleepiness, frustration or lack of energy in the office. A bandaid to cover up the underlying issues never fixes the problem.

Tips to Avoid Unhealthy Snacking:

  • Eat Bigger Meals: if you are snacking on bad options out of hunger, why not try adding some extra staying power to breakfast or lunch. Experiment with meal size to cut out the physical need to fit in that mid-day munching.
  • Determine the Cause: keep a journal & start paying attention to when you snack, what you choice & the why behind it. If it's a none hunger related decision, brainstorm alternative options to begin implementing in place of food.
  • Exercise Induced: overdoing cardio or other excessive exercise can wreck havoc on hunger signals. I find the incessisent hunger a big warning signs that fitness may be interfering with your hormones. If this sounds like you, I would take time to re-evaluate your regimen to consider if it's the culprit of your unhealthy eating practices.
The truth is you don't need a snack mid-morning & mid-afternoon to achieve fat loss, maintain a healthy bodyweight, keep your metabolism moving or any of that. Those goals will be determined by the totality of the food you eat throughout the day, week, month & lifetime. I have absolutely struggled with finding my perfect formula over the years & what I have come to realize is it CHANGES. Depending on the day, my exercise intensity, my current goals & so on I adjust as I go. On days I am busy & know I won't have time for a healthy snack, I eat a bigger breakfast. On days I am short on time & grab a lighter lunch, I have go to snacks that satisfy. I know my trigger foods & don't set myself up to have them around during my mid-day slump when energy & willpower are at their lowest. It's taken trial, LOTS of error & permission to trust myself. It's a PRACTICE!

KEY TAKEAWAY: Stop looking for other gurus to tell YOU what works for your body  or lifestyle . That means you have to put in a little work & self experimentation to find the answers. Tough I know BUT it's also way more satisfying & sustainable.

Tell me your BIGGEST struggle with trying to optimize your meal timing? 

Weekly Recap: Fitness, Food & Realizations

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Nutrition Recap Uncategorized

I have had a few questions from folks regarding my post last week about training for another 1/2 marathon, my training plan, nutrition & body composition expectations along the way. In attempting to write up my thoughts I decided why not bring everyone along for the ride! Hence the birth of my weekly recap series where I will talk about my previous weeks training, recovery, nutrition & what I am learning along the way. This is all on the experimental side so some aspects will go great & I am sure to have falters throughout. That's how you learn right!312698_2552222655352_721545244_nSo first, without turning this into a short novel, let me chit chat about my running history & goals this time around. I started distance running about 5 years ago when I first moved to Savannah. I was NOT a runner & use to skip almost every running related soccer practice in high school. I couldn't run a mile without stopping for a walk break so it's never been something that has come easy to me. So WHY run? Honestly I was in need of finding a community to meet people my age in a new town. When a co-worker invited me to a run group I decided that was a great time to put myself out there & try something new.396757_679506038216_1320755491_nFast forward through the next few years, I did successfully train for a 1/2 marathon, ran a few more of those plus 5K & 10K races & ultimately decided to train for a full marathon. WHY? Yes great question... While I could say I wanted to challenge myself, I will be real. I met a man running & would have followed him anywhere. Well apparently for 26.2 miles to be exact. Guess it worked out since that guy happens to be my hubby BUT  I won't pretend I ran a marathon solely based on my own ambition. Regardless we survived! YAY! Minus my body being beaten to death & I spent the next 2 years out of distance running while dealing with stress fractures, tendonitis & an overall weak body from too much cardio. I took a big step back, got in the gym, lifted heavy shit & swore that my running days were long gone. The funny thing? All those body composition goals to get lean & be fit were achieved much more easily when I stepped AWAY from the chronic cardio. Crazy huh?strengthYet over time I missed the open road, getting out with friends & running side by side with my husband. It was quality time together & that mattered. It wasn't about proving anything or trying to lose weight. As I often do the opposite when training for a long race. This time was just for fun & with the focus on my fitness still being in the gym. With no training plan or goals in mind I hit the road for a few runs on the weekends with the CREW. I started with 3-4 miles & within a month or two I was back up to 8-10. I simply listened to my body each run & stopped when it said too much & pushed when I was feeling good.File_000(6)The cool part? Even after taking YEARS off from running I jumped back in with much more ease than I ever had in the past. WHY? I am strong, fit & a more balanced athlete. In fact I've been running faster with much less time spent in my running shoes. I completely contribute that to my strength training regiment without a doubt.Ok so that's the nitty gritty ghosts of my running past. I finally decided last week to bite the bullet & sign up to run the Rock 'N' Roll 1/2 Marathon in November. This is our local big race most people train for so why not jump on board. The group I run with has follows a 3 day a week plan that I have complied with each year. However this year I have a different plan in place. WHY? Not because they don't know what they are doing. BUT I am in my body & have found through repetition that I don't hold up well to tons of running. Not to mention I LOVE lifting & refuse to ditch the days that keep me strong in favor of more mileage. So with that in mind I plan to focus on a train smart, not harder approach to 1/2 marathon training.rundesignMy goal? Honestly I would love to just finish this race injury free. If that goes well I'd like to run a PR at the Charleston 1/2 Marathon in January. BUT one race at a time shall we. So my basic run less approach includes these primary workouts:

  • 2x a week run (one long run & one speed or tempo)
  • 3x a week total body lifting (sticking with a program my coach wrote)
  • 1-2x a week cross training on the bike or swimming (triathlon future?)
  • 1-2x a week yoga (restorative)
My REAL challenge? Not doing too much this go around. I am totally a full speed ahead person when it comes to training. The issue with that is you CAN'T DO IT ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!! I yell that to myself as a reminder. What does that mean?I cannot gain running endurance, speed & time spent WHILE gaining significant strength or muscle in the gymThat makes me a little sad but I could tell the truth behind that during today's workout. After a weekend spent running, swimming & biking, my lifts were weak today. I had to drop my weight significantly & that will continue while I am doing so much endurance & muscle wasting activity. Does that mean all is lost? Nope! I will continue to lift & switch up my plan a bit to include beneficial running specific movements. More on that in another post...Next..I cannot maintain my same exact body composition, eat the same & increase my performance output.I have worked HARD over the past few years to build the muscle that I have. It doesn't come easy for us ladies & certainly hasn't for me. The truth is when I run, I lose muscle mass. That "toned" look softens a bit as I lose muscle in lieu of long mileage. Am I happy about that? NO! However I AM realistic that I cannot have them both all the time, so I am making a choice to choose performance over body composition. Everything comes in seasons & once I get done with a race or two I will have a new focus to work on. That also means I have to increase my food intake to balance my training. More carbs often means a little bit more weight on the scale. Why? Muscles hold onto water more when you increase carb intake. Notice I said WATER, not BODY FAT. Regardless the scale will go up & that's ok. Not going to sweat it. I am also NOT going to eat in a calorie deficit. That will not maintain my muscle or help me run faster. EAT for performance NOT DIET.So with those two things in mind this is what last weeks training looked like:Monday: Strength Workout #1 + 45 Minute Bike Ride (not intense)Tuesday: 6 Mile Run + YogaWednesday: Strength Workout #2Thursday: YogaFriday: Strength Workout #3Saturday: 10 Mile RunSunday: 90 Minute Bike Ride + Swim (learning how to so not intense)Last week felt great BUT I can tell today my body is a bit more tired then i'd like. I will work towards recovering better through sleep, nutrition & foam rolling over the coming weeks. I will also take a rest day when I need to! I love being active in some way most days BUT I am totally ok skipping a workout when my body needs it. File_000(1)On the food side? Here was our meal plan for last week:Monday: Chicken Verde Enchiladas w/ Salad & Cauliflower RiceFile_000(9)Tuesday: Crockpot Shredded Chicken w/ Green Beans & Roasted Fingerling PotatoesWednesdayChile Verde Pork w/ Cauliflower Rice, Refried Beans & SaladThursday: Chicken Sausage w/ Purple Potatoes & Kale File_000(7)Friday: OUT - We eat at a BBQ joint most Friday's. Creature's of habit! I get a pork salad<3Saturday: Hubby cooked a Julia Child Beef Daube w/ Vegetable Risotto & VINO!Sunday: Ate at Jalepeno's Mexican Restaurant. I had chicken fajitas, black beans & guacamole.I made a few updates to my normal eating this week & honestly think my running has been better for it. I often eat meat + vegetables for dinner without a serving of carbohydrates. I just like the lighter dinner since we often eat on the later side. However this week I consciously added in beans, sweet potato, potatoes & rice to my dinners. I will continue to monitor my performance, energy & how my pants fit, then adjust accordingly.9a93beb59f07a02590ce9f4e11493ba9All in all I am excited to have a fun goal & people to enjoy it with. I am all about finding the fun in fitness these days while I push my body in challenging ways. One week down!Please let me know via comment or message if you have any questions about my training, nutrition, recovery or how it might apply to your goals! I want to hear from YOU!!! Have you ever trained for a race & struggled with not being able to HAVE IT ALL?

Forget the Fuss – My BAS Salad Cheats

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Meal Prep Nutrition Recipes

Scrolling through my own Instagram page I noticed the large trend in many of my meals being what I fondly call a BAS. Aka a big ass salad. They are a staple in my diet & one of my daily DEAL breakers I have written about previously. They are an easy way to get in a big dose of veggies (yay micronutrients!), have a lot of volume (which is needed for someone who enjoy a larger quantity of food to feel satisfied) & make me take the time to sloowwww down for lunch. BUT I will admit that I don't always have time mid-day to spend 30 minutes chopping, sautéing, mixing  or whatever appears to be needed for a satisfying salad. SO I wanted to share a few of my quick cheats to having everything needed ready & waiting for assembling so you too can enjoy a daily BAS.cheatsdesignCHEAT #1: Protein - Save Small Dinner Extras OR Prep a Little MoreWe often cook a meal & just have a little bit of extra meat leftover. For example when my husband grills a few chicken breast, I often eat 1/2 or 2/3 of a piece because the serving was quite large for me. I save that extra bit, throw it in tupperware & toss is on a salad for lunch. When I am thinking a little more ahead I simple toss on an extra chicken breast or two & use it throughout the week.This is an example (nope not glamour shot of how I eat but real) of how this weeks salad toppers are looking:

meats

Top Left (Steak), Top Right (Burger), Bottom (Chicken)

Sunday Dinner: We cooked grassfed burgers & I saved an extra to be used as a lettuce wrap this week.Monday Dinner: We grilled a flank steak that was around 1lb. We each had our share that night & there was a nice serving leftover which will be delicious for lunch on Wednesday. Heck I will probably just recreate the salad we ate that evening, as it turned out awesome!steak saladMonday Meal Prep: We did a little bit of meal prep on Monday, as it was a holiday weekend. Chicken was on sale so we cooked the 3 pack for him to use for 2 lunches plus enough left for me to use for 2 as well. Easy peasy!Forgot to cook? No problem. These are a few additional no cook protein options for salads that we keep on hand. Canned tuna, salmon, hard boiled eggs or quality deli meat can be easy options as well. Note: Beans such as black, chickpeas, lentils & so on are really more of a carbohydrate source. However if I am only have a small portion of meat leftover I enjoy adding some extra eggs, cheese & even beans to supplement the source of protein. Plus a little variety never hurts!image2CHEAT #2: Buy a Variety of Package Greens OR Pre-Wash Ahead:I love the idea of buying a beautiful head of lettuce from the farmer's market to use for my salad bases during the week. But I'll be 100% honest, I can be LAZY & hate washing greens. If I wash them too far in advance, they go bad quickly. If I wait until I am ready to eat, I get busy or don't feel like taking the time to clean. Therefore I go grab another food that is more convenient. So instead I bite the bullet, pay a little more & eat the pre-washed organic greens. I enjoy a variety to mix & match so it makes each meal a little different. Super simple but quite effective.
greens

I love this variety because I can even saute some of these greens, throw in a smoothie or sneak in a sauce to use up.

CHEAT #3: Easy Flavorful ToppingsThere are days I have plenty of time to chop veggies to eat raw or cooked in my salads. On a Tuesday at 1pm with 30 minutes to eat, that's not going to happen. Therefore I stash a variety of easy salad toppings that add different textures, flavors & nutrients for a well balanced salad I actually WANT to eat.image1-1I do work to add as many VEGGIES first, then a small amount of fruit (with preference of fresh over dried). My next toppings include a satiating mix of healthy fats:image2-1I am MINDFUL of the portions used when I toss in a mix of nuts, seeds, cheeses, olives & avocado but I always include a serving of dietary fat in my meal. Why? These add much needed nutrients for brain function, skin health & tons of other key functions in our bodies. Not to mention they create a sense of satiety to keep you fuller, longer between meals.CHEAT #4: Easy Salad Dressings Made Ahead of TimeI won't pretend to not have a bottle or two of pre-made salad dressing in my fridge. I am careful to check the ingredients to include the shortest list possible with no gross corn syrups or added sugars/sweeteners. All common in many "light" dressing many deem as healthier options. However I prefer to either make 1 salad dressing on a Sunday to store in the fridge or simple toss a little vinegar, oil, salt & pepper on top & call it a day. A few of my favorite clean go to's include:image1Nothing fancy here & all are easy pantry staples to match a variety of salads. My favorite dressing is a mix of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dijon, olive oil, salt & pepper. Sorry I totally don't measure but don't be scared to mix, taste & balance to your palate preference. However no guilt if you must use a pre-made dressing. Just take the time to read your ingredients & make a more educated choice for your goals.Takeaways:Don't overcomplicate the meal by thinking you have to create a new gourmet salad every day of the week. Follow this simple formula, pick a "theme" for the week & start with making the goal of included 2-3 BAS this week:
  • BASE OF GREENS: PRE-PACKAGED READY TO GO
  • PRE-COOKED PROTEIN: LEFTOVERS ARE GREAT, COOK ONCE & EAT ALL WEEK
  • CHOOSE YOUR TOPPINGS: MIX OF ALL THE VEGGIES YOU LIFE + A FEW SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (INCLUDING HEALTHY FATS, FRUIT & EVEN CARBS LIKE QUINOA OR SWEET POTATOES)
  • DRESSINGS: MAKE 1 HOMEMADE OPTIONS FOR THE WEEK OR KEEP A CLEAN OPTION ON HAND
I have a feeling they will catch on & become one of your weekly staples that leave your feeling great midday. Questions? Just ask!Any favorite BAS ingredients that really make your meal?

CH CHH CHH CHIA PEANUT BUTTER BANANA PUDDING RECIPE

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Uncategorized

The most common reason I get for people skipping, hitting fast food or grabbing a crappy bar on the way out the door in the morning is TIME. Nobody's got time to start their day off with a halfway decent meal that won't make them crash a few hours later.IS THIS A VALID EXCUSE??Not anymore! Although I could argue all the reasons you should go to bed earlier, take time to make a 10 minute breakfast, oh yea eggs or yogurt take all of 3 minutes.. But hey today I will be nice & accept the answer of "I don't have time" & instead provide a solution in the form of a recipe.CHIA PROTEIN PUDDING to the rescue!ChiaPuddingI am totally against labeling ANY food as having magical superpowers or be the one ingredient you are missing to stay thin. Sorry if I had that answer I would be rich & not typing up this blog post. Chia seeds are often thrown into that superfood category so I will not claim for them to be but instead post a few nutritional components they contain:A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA. (for what the RDA value is worth..aka not much..)
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
  • They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
The number one reason I like them?? They expand to make foods have more VOLUME. As a volume eater who enjoy a big portion to feel satisfied, they fit the bill in this case.There are a ton of chia pudding recipes around the web so I did not creatively develop this idea by myself. Instead I wanted to share my favorite combos that include a bigger portion of protein to keep me full throughout my morning. The best part? I can prep this ahead the night before for easy grab & go in the morning. I also love it's a cold breakfast on a hot day that's not yogurt. As sometimes my belly doesn't love a huge amount of dairy in it first thing in the morning. Eek!PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA PUDDING:Ingredients:Chia1
  • 1 Scoop PB flavored protein powder (I use quest nutrition, could try PB2?)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4c unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/3 sliced banana
Directions:
  1. Add protein powder, chia seeds & 1/4c almond milk to a small tupperware & stir to combine.
  2. Stir in the additional 1/2c almond milk, stir thoroughly & set in fridge for 20 minute or overnight in my case.
  3. In the morning I added a splash of milk to loosen the pudding up. Top w/ sliced banana & cinnamon. Easy & delicious.
Other Combos:
  • Berry Vanilla: use vanilla protein powder & top w/ favorite berries.
  • Pumpkin: add canned pumpkin + pumpkin pie spice & top w/ chopped walnuts.
  • Dark Chocolate Raspberry: use chocolate protein powder (or cocoa) & top w/ raspberries.
  • Lemon Pistachio: Add in lemon extract or zest & top with pistachios.
  • Cinnamon Apple: Add in cinnamon, vanilla & top w/ warm cinnamon apples & nuts.
The possibilities are endless!! I know you can absolutely make this without protein powder by just using chia & less almond milk. I bet you could play with greek yogurt as an additional add in. I just have a ton of protein powder & aim to include 20-30g for breakfast each day. It keeps me full & satisfied while supporting my lean muscle mass. Just what I look for!Give it a try & share your favorite version with me!!