by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Being Ripped vs. Being Healthy:I love the opportunity to start with a new training client. Learning more about their history, outlook on training & experience always gives me a new perspective I can use to better connect with others. Yesterday I began with a newbie to me who had come from over 3 years of training in a traditional bodybuilding style gym. While I actually consider myself a little on the "bro" bodybuilding side myself, true bodybuilding is an athletic endeavor focusing on maximizing aesthetics goals over all else.This client is a doctor so very well educated on the health side of life. This spurred an excellent conversation regarding how people from the outside perspective idealize the hot, toned or ripped physique. It is automatically correlated with health, vitality & strength. Where as you see the normal girl who claims to need to lose that last 5-10lbs, has a bit of cellulite & a touch of softness around her tummy as much less "healthy" than the muscle bound fitness model.Honestly look at these pictures & tell me without thinking who you see as the model of health?Yes I would probably have answered the same a few years ago. However as the good ole Dr. & Iwere chatting, we both acknowledged several observation from his years of bro style training. (PS yes I say bro style training for laughs, I have no issue with it what so ever..:)Anywho he discussed the women in there who lifted for 2 hours but had to sleep or use stimulants the rest of the day due to extreme fatigue from overtraining & under-eating. The number of beautiful buff bodies who were full of chemicals, stimulants, depressants & other enhancements to get any extra inch of muscle. To hell with the internal damage it caused! Speaking of the internal damage, I would say the majority of those super thin societally deemed gorgeous women lacked a menstrual cycle. As it's HEALHY for women to carry body fat in order have a functioning period, regulate body temperature, have shiny hair & nails, brains function & SOOOO many more important health markers.Now I am not just picking on body builders. As I know this is not the person most of us relate to. Instead how about I use myself as an example eh? Why not throw my own former habits under the bus...SO for YEARS I was consumed by "being healthy"...Now let's be real. By being healthy I REALLY meant being skinny. Nope not even "in shape" or "fit", I wanted to be skinny because that's what people praised. I lost a few pounds, people would notice & say "girl you look so skinny lately". In of course a super positive way! Obviously skinny gave me added value, acceptance & I assumed would mean being healthy. So I did so. I ran a ton, I ate a lot of lettuce, low fat granola bars, fat free yogurt, ate egg whites & hell even went vegetarian for a really long time. Did it work? On the outside yes. I did lose weight. In fact I got down to well under 100lbs! YAY I am now LESS weight in the world.On the inside however I was a hot mess. I had major digestive problems, became anemic, liver enzyme tests showed issues, hair fell out, low libido (sorry mom!), major mood issues, bad/discolored skin & lost my menstrual cycle that I have battled to regain going on 5 years!Yes everyone (myself included) praised my new found healthy lifestyle because I was now skinny. SCORE! I had such good "willpower", "discipline" & "self control" which obviously made me superior to all those chubby people n the world who lacked my ability to eat less, move more & feel like garbage most of the day. Granted this was NEVER my thought process. I never once looked in the mirror & thought "damn girl you look hot". It was always "why do I still have cellulite here", "why don't my arms look toned" all while pinching every much needed ounce of body fat left on my frame. Yes, weight obviously correlates to happiness..Said no one ever..Yes that's a bit of personal info from me, which is super hard for me to admit to. Yet I know many of you can relate to these feelings. To looking at the folks running triathlons, doing crossfit 6x a week or now throwing around "strong is the new skinny". Because that's exactly what we need in life! Another BS way to evaluate our worth by our physical endeavors.Ok I have digressed on this post I will admit. However the purpose is to say health is something built from the inside. You can be visually small & be healthy OR very unhealthy. You can be overweight & be healthy OR not healthy. The hard part is understanding that we have to fix the inside before the outside. Or at least that's the longterm SUSTAINABLE way to do so.This is also a hard reality when it comes to fat loss. I often have to break it to people that if you have spent years mistreating your body, feeding it crap, depriving it of nutrients & never moving of the sofa. The chances of you convincing it to suddenly cooperate & lose weight within a short period of time because now you've decided to give it some love. Well that's unlikely to be a quick fix. It's the biggest frustration I encounter when working with the yo-yo dieting club. You can't starve, abuse & manipulate your body into health. It takes care, consistency, patience & even moderation in our approach.Long story short. Don't idolize others bodies as being healthy because the scale shows them a lower number then yours. The same goes that you shouldn't assume because someone doesn't hold a 6 pack or have the perfect runner's body that they are unhealthy! We all have different bodies, shapes, sizes & desires to reach for. Focus on health 1st! As I promise being a skinny person who is tired, grumpy, angry & totally self deprecating is NOT healthy living. Strive to feel vibrant, eat nutritiously, feel like you are honoring your hunger, not letting food rule your world, working out to make your body stronger & letting all of these endeavors enhance your life! Soapbox weekly blog complete...:)What signs do you look for in YOURSELF to show you are healthy, happy & living the life you are reaching for?
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
- 1 scoop high quality protein powder (or 6oz plain greek yogurt/cottage cheese)
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/2c frozen berries
- 1c unsweetened almond milk
- 2 handfuls of spinach
If I were asked what 3 things would I bring with me to a deserted island, my answer would quickly be:
- My husband
- My dogs
- Who only pours 4-5oz into their glass? Hello 8-10oz "glass"...
- How often do you have more than one?
- Does that glass of wine loosen you up to a few after dinner treats?
- What are your goals?
- Know Thy Limits: in general i try not to drink more than 2 glasses at a time on any occasion. it's my line where I can get a little tipsy without feeling crappy the next day.
- Set Parameters: I say no Sunday-Thursday & that made the BIGGEST difference for me! Most week nights I had created the habit of throwing my stuff on the table, sighing out the long day as I pour a glass because I deserved it. I found other ways to de-stress such as taking the dog for a walk or making a hot cup of tea. It took practice & habit change but now it's no big deal.
- BE FLEXIBLE: if we have a weekday event I don't punish myself by saying "you can't drink on the weekdays". I stick to my no more than 2 glasses & usually go with only one. As I remind myself that work will come early tomorrow & I have a responsibility to my clients to be at my best.
- Don't Drink Crap: if I open a crappy bottle that doesn't please my palate, I don't drink it! Why waste the enjoyment on bad wine. Simple!
- Make it an Enjoyable Experience: I make sure I am in a situation where I sip the wine, not guzzle it. I also don't succumb to peer pressure to drink just because everyone else is doing it. Learned that in kindergarten right? Funny how we forget. I am a big girl & if I am not in the mood, I am not going to drink. Frankly anyone who cares I'm not drinking can buzz off.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Most people I know (myself included) have goals regarding weight, health or the physique we see staring back at us in the mirror. While I absolutely preach building goals around longterm health, strength, nutrient quality, feeling good or performance, I have NO problem with wanting to lose a little (or lot) of fat for physique purposes. Aesthetic goals are fine to have, no judgement! However my issue with this is understanding that in order to SEE changes, you have to MAKE changes....---------------------------Weekly conversation with clients:Client: I really want to lose these love handles, I'll do ANYTHING you say. Just tell me what will work?ME: Looking at your food journal you are eating out a lot throughout the week, eating a low protein diet & a high quantity of processed carbs. IF your goal is to see body composition changes, these are the areas we need to work on.Client: Great, so tell me exactly what to do & I'll do it.ME: Ok let's start with one change first & build on it. How about you we up the protein in your breakfast? Could we start adding in eggs or greek yogurt?Client: I don't like breakfast & don't want to get up earlier to put together anything.ME: Ok, maybe we start somewhere else first. How about instead of eating out 4x during the week, we aim for only 2x this week?Client: I don't like to cook.ME: Ok let's look at the choices you are making out to eat. Can we focus on increasing the protein & vegetables while decreasing the carbohydrates, added fats such as cheese & creamy sauces?Client: I don't like to eat much protein & enjoy my ranch dressing.--------------------Ok you get the idea. I SO commonly am asked for help to SEE the changes clients want in their bodies. Yet I am immediately given every reason why they aren't willing to make the changes needed to get the results desired. Looking for that magic pill? Yea let me know when you find it. 5 Common Changes You WON'T make that are limiting your results:
- Cooking at Home: I get it, we all live busy lives, work long hours & pass a million restaurants we can eat at on the way home to our own kitchens. Frankly many people I know (myself included in the past) lack confidence to get in the kitchen because we didn't learn basic skills. Yet we also can google anything. So sorry that answer doesn't fly.
- Reality: restaurants add more fat & additional calories to make us say YUM & to get us coming back for more. Not to mention how big the portions are. I'm not saying you can never dine out BUT the majority of your meals should be made in the kitchen. Yes that means not every dinner will be gourmet style. BUT if you want to lose fat, you can't eat out all day every day.
- I Don't Have Time: Another common barrier I hear is "I didn't have time to eating breakfast or lunch, then I ate EVERYTHING when I get home". I totally understand we all work busy jobs & are often on the go. Work places don't make it easy to take a leisurely lunch break or rushing kids out the door doesn't make breakfast enjoyable. BUT if this is your goal, make more effort.
- Reality: Find foods that fit into your timeline available to get in some sustenance. Yes this may mean making a smoothie before bed & having it in the fridge ready to go in the morning. OR telling your boss I need 5 dang minutes to eat my salad in the fridge. We prioritize ours kids eating breakfast yes? Heck you feed the dog too I would guess. Yet we fall to the wayside but wonder why we can't see changes. You have to prioritize you!
- I'm Not Hungry: This somewhat falls into the same category as not making time to eat but i'll post it separately. I have this conversation with clients every single day. What did you eat today? "I had a yogurt for breakfast, a pack of crackers for lunch & some fruit with crackers & cheese for dinner. I'm just not hungry". Yes you can totally train your body to eat less food & ignore hunger signals after many years. Yet you are working out several days a week, eating 800 calories a day & not seeing any fat loss. Weird!
- Reality: you must make changes to see changes. Your body has reached a point it is barely getting enough fuel to function off of. So no, you aren't going to lose that excess weight while your body is in a starvation state. Like I discussed in a previous blog post here, you are causing major hormonal disregulation & your body is responding accordingly. I know you say "i'm just not hungry". Well eat more anyway. I find with these clients after an initial challenge period, suddenly they start feeling more energy, hunger signals pick back up & they start seeing changes.
- I Don't Like Protein: This may be a surprise to newer readers BUT I was a vegetarian for almost 10 years. I became a vegetarian somewhat out of teenage rebellion but also a few food poisoning instances paired with being mentally grossed out by meat. So vegetarian I went. I did it poorly & became a carb-etarian for many years. I mean pizza & french fries are meat free?? I also gained 25lbs during this time period & lost any muscle mass on my body. Then I became educated on the important of protein & began tracking it to make sure I was getting an adequate amount at each meal. Suddenly I lost fat, gained muscle, blood markers improved & I could eat more because my metabolism sped up due to said lean muscle mass.
- Reality: I understand not everyone wants to eat a hunk of meat 3x a day. However research has shown over & over that a moderate to high protein diet is ideal for body composition changes. You want that "toned" look? Eat protein. That can be meat, fish, eggs or even supplementing with powders. But you can't ride the carbs & fats train only while expecting to see impactful body changes. Educate yourself on WHAT an adequate amount of protein is based on your age, weight & activity level. Then work to implement that. PS 1 egg is not enough protein per meal.
- BUT I Can't Say No To..: You eat lunch with co-workers, get invited to happy hours, it was Betty's birthday at work, they brought in donuts for the lunch meeting, Friday night is date night & Sunday dinner is with the family. All of which you have to eat whatever other people are pushing on you. Because saying no is rude or makes you stand out.
- Reality: It is YOUR body & YOUR health that YOU are responsible for & have to live with. Tired of feeling unhappy in your skin? Well I will always say first let's work on mindset. BUT stop letting others control your health & happiness. Yes it may mean having to stand your ground, say no occasionally & even explain to people WHY you are doing something different. This isn't easy I know! However the more you do it, the easier it gets. Because guess what? Most people are more self consumed with what they are doing then what you are doing. Plus what food you put in your body doesn't impact them a bit. Explain to grandma in all seriousness that you are concerned about your health & that is why you brought salad with salmon instead of lasagna with breadsticks. You don't have to make others feel guilty or get on a high horse. However if they can't respect that then maybe you need to work on who you surround yourself with or frankly develop thicker skin. Harsh I know, but you have to live in this body for life, not them. Be confident in your beliefs & know it's not your job to change others opinions.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Thanks for joining this weeks Ask Anything Q&A! I received an excellent questions last week from a reader who wanted to know if her breakfast serving of peanut butter was a good or sufficient amount of protein for that meal. Check out my response below!https://youtu.be/_JqNNFVLFOkHave a question for the next Ask Anything? Fire away!Comment or message me to help solve your nutrition, fitness or lifestyle struggles each & every week Email me at email@example.com!
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Fat loss is simple right? Move more + eat less = scale down. Follow this simple template & all will be right with the world...You look at this equation & say ok move more. How can I burn ALL the calories, sweat it out hard & make the fat drip away the quickest? I got it! The more days I workout, hours I can fit in cardio sessions & calories I can cut will definately get me in my skinny jeans asap. Because after all, 1 pound is equally to 3500 calories. Therefore if I can only eat 1000 calories a day & spend an hour on the elliptical (which says I burned a 500...lies btw), mathematically that means I will lose 3lbs a week. Perfect, I can handle that for a month or two no problem!Maybe that works for the first week. You drag yourself into the gym every single day & sweat it out on the treadmill. You eat your egg whites for breakfast, tiny salad for lunch & a bit of chicken with broccoli for dinner. You step onto that scale & SCORE! Down 4lbs!!Yet come week 2 you find yourself struggling to get in quality workouts because you are fatigued. Duh! You aren't feeding your body enough so why should it give you energy to burn away? Next you are not just a little hungry in between meals, you are STARVING. From the second you get up to when your head hits the pillow. H-A-N-G-R-Y! Heck you may even wake up in the middle of the night in need of sustenance. Sure you fight it off for a day or two but let's be real? Eventually you succumb. And you not only eat a normal amount of food, you eat twice that. All that exercise you are doing is making your body scream for nutrient replacements. Insert the binge on crappy fast food, sweet treats or at minimum oversized portions. But wait? I'm exercising a TON. Cardio all day long. That burns a lot of calories so eating a bit more is fine. Wrong! Because you have now down regulated your metabolism by trying to starve it into submission PLUS burned all your muscle via that lovely treadmill. Muscle = faster metabolism, which you worked ridiculously hard to kill.Ok I say all this in a harsh sounding tone. I know! But after YEARS of doing this myself I am super passionate about helping people understand HOW to get the results they are working so hard for. Which rarely involves listening to the stupid magazine covers telling you the perfect 1200 calorie diet paired with how to get your bikini body in 2 weeks. *insert eye rolling*Let me tell you my personal experience now that a rant is out of the way. Back when I was in the constant "must lose last 10lbs" cycle, I assumed that the more I exercised, the more weight I would lose. The best way to burn calories? Running of course! Or cardio of any kind would do. As I usually ran as much as I could until my knees hurt, then jumped on the elliptical on my "rest days".Heck I even decided the best way to lose that weight would be to run a marathon. All that running HAD to result in weight loss. So I did it. I ran 40 miles a week & watched my watch tell me how many calories I burned with every mile. On paper I should be losing at least 2lbs a week!To fast forward a bit let's just say instead of losing 10lbs marathon training, I GAINED 10lbs. And I can promise you it wasn't 10lbs of lean sexy muscle. In fact I had the most cellulite i've ever had, no muscle definition & felt quite "soft" all the way around. Skinny fat is what I would call it. So how did I gain 10lbs while marathon training? A few simple facts:
- I was only doing cardio & lost a significant amount of muscle mass. Muscle mass is GOLD when it comes to a speedy metabolism & being able to eat enough to fuel my recovery.
- I was hungry ALL the time! Yes I burned 400-1000 calories on many a run. Guess what? One burger balanced out that equation quickly. You can easily out eat any amount of exercise. But I couldn't help it. I was hungry ALL THE TIME. So I ate. Not unhealthy foods but too much, too frequently. I earned it right?
- I was training for performance, yet attempting to eat for aethestics. My goal was to run a marathon. That was the focus, the training & I really needed to do was eat to support that. Yet instead I tried to starve it! You need to create a deficit when trying to lose body fat but NOT when you are trying to perform at a sport. Those are two SEPARATE goals!! Can they be balanced? Yes, sometimes you can work to find that small caloric deficit that meets both needs, but it's tough. And often not sustainable.
- I was causing havoc on my hormones! That much physical stress in the form of exercise plus dietary stress majorly impacted my hormones. I actually had blood work done & my cortisol was threw the roof! I was waking up in the middle of the night, exhausted midday, cold all the time, lost my period & my body was in no place to function efficiently. AKA fat loss stalled. PLEASE NOTE: these are all BIG warnings signs of overtraining!!!
- PICK ONE GOAL: performance, fat loss, muscle building or maintenance. There is no right answer & it will change over time. BUT there are more efficient ways to achieve each. If you just need to de-stress & that's what working out is for then GREAT! Do what makes you happy & never feel bad about that. But understand your top priority so you have realistic expectations.
- KEEP HORMONES IN CHECK: if you are performing at a high level of intensity & not putting it back into your body. It will at some point rebel. You can't use & abuse it into submission.
- MUSCLE RULES: this is the best tool you have in the body composition game. The more you have or can at least maintain, the more calories your body burns at rest. Cardio builds endurance & heart health but NOT muscle. Aka lift something!
- THINK LONG GAME: if you are trying to lose fat, it didn't come on overnight & won't disappear that way. Bummer I know. But find the exercise balance & dietary intake you can maintain comfortably for the duration needed to hit your goal. Not to mention you can see yourself sticking somewhat close to after. AKA if you can't see yourself eating that way in a year, it's too restrictive. Find a better balance.
- MAINTANENCE IS OK: you don't always need to be in diet mode. Even if you still want to or need to lose body fat, it's ok to hang out in maintenance for a bit. In fact it's a must! If I sign up for a face & train for it, it's with the understanding I may lose a little muscle & not be as defined as I'd like. BUT my goal is to fuel performance. That is awesome!!! Fat loss is something I can come back to IF & when I want to. We shouldn't stay in a deficit all the time & it's important to exercise for fun! Not just to change our physical appearance.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
The times in my life I have found food to be the most stressful have been when I felt my hunger, cravings & energy RULED my life. I woke up & CRAVED coffee. I felt sorry for any fool who crossed my path (husband included) before I had my creamy caffeine fix to start my day. I could think of nothing else until that cup of joe was in my hands. While some of that was behavioral in that it was a habit I associated with waking up. It was also a physical dependency. I absolutely had a headache by 10am when I attempted to ward off the beverage for a day or two.Mid-day chocolate yearning? Yes, been there done that. Every day like clock work my mouth literally watered for a sweet treat. AKA I kept my drawer stocked full of hershey kisses to sooth my afternoon energy slump.Even worse for me was battled constant hunger? I would get up & eat a "healthy" breakfast with 400-600 calories, more than adequate to satisfy me for a few hours. Yet within 2 hours I felt my belly grumble & couldn't stop staring at the clock until I reached an acceptable snack time or lunch break.I couldn't find a way to stay full, feel satisfied, not have a drop in my blood sugar & get away from eating by the clock! It was stressful & I felt like a slave to my bodies every whim. Sucks!!!This is a typical cycle I work through with clients who are going through the same frustrations I have had. It's a very personalized process to be honest & there is no "5 full proof steps" to conquer cravings, lose 5lbs & achieve your perfect bikini body. Sorry to burst the bubble but ANY information that states that....IS BS!! Run quickly in the other direction.
- Are you hitting your protein needs? A quick review of most clients food journal automatically shows a lack of protein. The biggest building block to build/maintain muscle, balance blood sugar & create satiety between meals. This is the first hole to fill if it's missing in your diet.
- Are you a fat or carb eater? This is individualized & based on your activity level. Some people thrive off a higher fat diet while others feel fueled on more whole food carbohydrates. I even have clients that feel better off carbs in the form of starch rather than sugar. Such as sweet potatoes over fruit. It takes time & listening to your body to see where you fall on this spectrum. Yes patience.
- Are you eating ENOUGH of the RIGHT foods? 200 calories of lean protein & fiber filled vegetables is not the same as 200 calories of chips. Sorry! Yes calories in vs calories out matter. But QUALITY of calories matter as well. You can easily be over eating while being undernourished. Leading to hunger, cravings & troubles regulating your nutrition. Plus if you are super activity & under eating, the same results are likely.
- Sleep & Stress: These are JUST as important to the energy equation as food & fitness. If you are under slept your body will be searching for outside stimulus to get you through. Especially that extra sugar & caffeine boost that give us a bump in serotonin. AKA happiness. This is not just feeling tired, it's causing serious hormonal issues that will make any amount of willpower obsolete.\
- Are you out exercising your diet? I actually have a whole post about this coming next week BUT overexercising can cause hormonal dis-regulation. Especially if at the same time you are trying to "diet". Talk about an additional stressor the body can't handle. You don't need to go balls to the walls 6x a week to try & lose body or stay in shape. In fact you MAY be directly keeping you from achieving those goals.
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