Fix Portion Distortion with 5 Simple Solutions

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Habits Nutrition Uncategorized

It's easy to find yourself sneaking a bite off your child's plate or adding an extra scoop onto the dinner plate most evenings. Seems innocent enough right? Yet over the course of a day, week & month those extra servings can add up & take away from the hard work you are doing in the gym. In our supersized food world it's easy to lose site of what a reasonable serving size is. Over the past several decades, the portion sizes served at restaurants have more than doubled, not to mention that whole clean your plate mantra has managed to stick around. Leaving most people walking away from each meal feeling overly stuffed & rather uncomfortable. portion-distortion 20 years ago This is one of the first mindful eating practices I address with new clients, as well as re-evaluate once a plateau has hit in their progress. I personally get in the rhythm of buying healthy food & cooking recipes I know are good for my goals. What I can struggle with is not overdoing the amount I put on my plate! Unfortunately healthy foods can also be over consumed & interfere with our goals too. Not to mention I don't enjoy stepping away from the dinner table with a full uncomfortable belly. Fortunately there are a few quick ways to check your mindful eating habits & adjust accordingly. Here are my top 5 recommended self check ins when you find your portion sizes may be sabotaging your health. Fix Portion Distortion with 5 Simple Solutions:

  • Swap out the dinner plate for a salad plate. We often fill up whatever plate we use to look visually appealing & satisfying. If we only fill that huge 12 inch plate 1/3 of the way we feel deprived & as though we are "dieting" with tiny meals. Simply swapping out the oversized dinner plate for a smaller but very reasonably size salad plated can make a huge difference in our intake. plate sizeThis easy swap made a HUGE difference in my nutrition & I find the same in most clients. Yes it's mostly a mind game tweak but I dare you to try it & not see a difference!
  • Balance your ratio of veggies, protein, carbs & fat. This approach has been super successful with clients who were reluctant to remove certain favorite foods, such as mom's mac & cheese from their meal plan. By simply re-balancing the way they plated up meals without altering food choices left them feeling full, satisfied & kept them from feeling deprived of their favorites. It's a great place to start if you are still trying to dial in the food selection part! How to?
  • Begin with 1/2 a plate of non-starchy veggies (salads, sauteed veggies, mashed cauliflower)
  • Then 1/4 plate of your protein (chicken, fish, eggs, pork & so on)
  • Finally 1/4 plate of starchy vegetables or carbohydrate (sweet potato, rice, risotto & such) Portion-Control-Plate-DistributionIt makes a big difference restructuring your meals from a 3/4 of a plate full of bread & mac & cheese to 1/2 plate of veggies, a 1/4 plate of roasted chicken & only 1/4 plate of mom's mac & cheese. Again start where you are!
  • Break out the measuring utensils instead of eyeballing, especially when it comes to healthy fats. The scoop of peanut butter grows, extra oil thrown in the pan, 1/4 an avocado becomes 3/4, the pat of butter becomes 2-3, a palmful of nuts becomes a handful...ok you get the idea. I love healthy fats & they are a must have in our diet. In fact many people under consume the healthy forms but that's an issue for another post.SimpleTruth_PortionSizes-1This is again about being mindful of our serving size & let's be honest, how easy is it to throw back in extra serving or two of salted cashews? Keep this in check by measuring out a serving size to have a better grasp on what that looks like. No you don't have to weigh & measure every ounce you eat, but having a visual idea is a great reminder.
  • Eating like your significant other or those around you. I'm going to throw this in from personal experience & one of my most common issues women especially encounter. Ladies, the unfair reality is our loving spouses need to eat more food then us. Yes they can even often get away with that extra serving, frosty beer or scoop of ice cream that seems to immediately go to your waistline when you do the same.
    The couple that runs together, drinks to much beer post-run together & can gain weight together. ;)

    The couple that runs together, drinks to much beer post-run together & can gain weight together. ;)

    When I first moved in with my husband, my portions began to match his for all of our shared meals. If he got seconds, I did too. He wants to go for fro-yo, sure let's do it. Unfortunately I am smaller & don't have the same nutritional needs & metabolic rate he does. Does it SUCK? Yes, but so did that extra 10lbs I put on that year. You have to adjust accordingly for your own individual needs. *Insert sad violin playing here*
  • Liquid calories count. Just because you can fit 1/2 a bottle of wine in one glass, doesn't mean you just had a single serving. Sorry...but true...yes I have tested just for accuracy. Depending on the who you are & what are your goal type guidelines, a little booze can fit into a balanced diet. However that nightly glass of wine is often far bigger than the 5oz pour or 1.5oz tossed in a mixed drink. alcohol-serving-sizesDon't fool yourself by ignoring the serving size of those adult beverages. Again stay mindful & make sure your choices reflect your goals.
Take the time to check in with yourself & take an honest look at your eating habits. We all go through periods where we may become less mindful of our hard earned habits! Without judgement take a peak & readjust where needed! How do you keep your portion distortion in line with your goals?

Protein Packed Pumpkin Oatmeal – Step By Step Tutorial

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Nutrition Recipes Uncategorized

Protein Packed Pumpkin Oatmeal in a Jar

As much as I hate to admit it, I to fall prey to the pumpkin madness once fall arrives. There's just something about the spices that accompany it that screams fall comfort. One of my favorite uses of pumpkin is to add volume, creaminess & a boost of nutrition to my oatmeal.

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

2015-02-28 09.34.38gluten free oatmeal

egg whites

canned 100% pumpkin

chia seeds


cashew milk (or milk/nondairy of choice)

almost empty nut butter jar (I used peanut butter)

cinnamon &/or pumpkin pie spice

2015-02-28 09.36.23Step 2: Add Oats & Bring to a Boil

1. add 1/3c gluten free old fashioned oats to small pot.

2. pour in 2/3c cashew milk or milk of choice.

3. toss in 1tsp of chia seeds.

4. stir & bring to a boil.

5. remove pan from burner & cover with lid for 20-30 minutes.

*most of the liquid will be absorbed during this time & chia seed expands to add volume. I will often start this in the morning & then go take a shower while they sit.

 Step 3: Return to a Boil & Add the Fun

2015-02-28 10.18.011. Remove the lid, add 1/3c of water or milk, 1/3 thinly sliced banana & turn the burner to medium. Stir vigorously until banana combines with other ingredients. Allow mixture to come to light boil.

2. Add 1/3c liquid egg whites & stir vigorously for 2 minutes until egg whites have cooked & combined with oatmeal. Make sure you continue to stir so you they blend with oats instead of scramble.

3. Reduce heat to medium low, add 1/4c pumpkin, cinnamon, pie spice & stevia (if desired) to taste. Allow to combine for 1-2 minutes until desired consistency is reached.

Step 4: Add to Almost Empty Jar & Enjoy!

2015-02-28 10.23.11

 1. Add deliciously creamy oats to your almost empty nut butter jar. I usually let them cool off just a touch in the pot before adding to a plastic jar. Glass jars are recommended.

2. Stir in any additional ingredients desired. I've used chopped apple, the rest of the banana I sliced, dried fruit, dates & even mini chocolate chips.

3. Enjoy!

2015-02-28 10.25.57-1

Life Lately in Food, Fitness & Seasonal Change.

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Nutrition Recap Recipes Uncategorized Workouts

fallThe fall season is finally creeping into the hot & humid weather. Well technically it is fall, but the 91 degree heat index today doesn't quite make it feel like a crisp fall day. Such a tease after a few days of cooler temperatures! Either way those cool days flipped a switch in my internal seasonal clock. My taste buds are leaning towards hearty warm foods over cold salads, my desired forms of exercise is beginning to shift & even my sleep clock feels a bit different. I love this change & fully embrace mixing up the normal routine depending on what feels natural given the time of year. We all need a bit of change from time to time! What does that mean for my food, fitness & general routine? Here is a snippet of life lately in food, fitness & seasonal change.foodfitness Food: While I am still enjoying salads, they are now being filled with warmer toppings & heartier ingredients. Roasted starchy vegetables such as roasted winter squash varieties, sweet potato & beets have been thrown in the mix. I've swapped out the crisper romaine & spring mix for heartier arugula, kale & spinach as my salad bases. This time of year also means swapping out berries for delicious apples or pears. These also make a delicious addition to the daily salad.

Beets, apple, walnuts, goat cheese, caramelized onion & roasted turkey.

Beets, apple, walnuts, goat cheese, caramelized onion & roasted turkey.

The crockpot has also been a mainstay on the counter top. As nothing beats a slow roasted piece of meat, a delicious chunky stew or flavorful thick soup to come home to on a fall evening. These main meals have also been accompanied by warmer sides such as risotto, quinoa, roasted fall vegetables & sweet potatoes.
Herb roasted pork loin, mushroom & sage risotto, roasted parsnips & carrots, salad with pear & goat cheese.

Herb roasted pork loin, mushroom & sage risotto, roasted parsnips & carrots, salad with pear & goat cheese.

Breakfast has also been mixed up a bit. During summer months I tend to embrace cold foods such as hard boiled eggs, cold leftovers (weird I know), yogurt bowls & smoothies. Lately I cannot get enough eggs in every form. Oatmeal has made a comeback in addition to savory bacon & breakfast scrambles.
Eggs over sauteed breakfast chicken sausage & kale. Plus a side of plantains cooked in coconut oil.

Eggs over sauteed breakfast chicken sausage & kale. Plus a side of plantains cooked in coconut oil.

As I look at how my intake has changed, I absolutely notice trends. The top being my carbohydrate consumption has increased in the form of oatmeal, apples over berries, winter squash over summer varieties, rice instead of green beans & more. But wait...does that mean I'm going to add the dreaded winter weight many gain during hibernation? As long as I am mindful of my consumption, absolutely not! In fact I've found my body responds well to switching it up from season to season. My body is often much smarter than me when I bother to listen. Without consciously thinking about it, the temperatures decrease & my desire to get outdoors to run increased. At the same time my body started gearing me towards a slightly higher carbohydrate intake to balance the new addition of cardio to my routine. Smart right? Instead of worrying about keeping tight control over my fall food changes, I will simply make sure I still get in balanced meals full of protein, healthy fats, lots of vegetables & whole food carbohydrates. Fitness: As mentioned I have suddenly had the running bug pop out of nowhere & grab hold tightly. Now that it's not 1,000 degrees outdoors I am enjoying increasing my mileage while being smart about doing so gradually. I have battled my fair share of running injuries from stress fractures to severe tendinitis. Many a tear has been shed after having to bow out of races I signed up for or waving goodbye to my husband as he ran with our running group. This time around I am taking it slow, focusing on having fun & have no lofty goals to run a big race anytime soon. No easy task for me & something I keep having to remind myself of. My instinct is to jump from my first 5K distance in 3 years to "hey maybe i'll run a 1/2 marathon in a month". Seriously Emma... Anywho I am putting some limitations on the distance for now & just enjoying the fresh air & fun with friends.
Beautiful morning group run by the river.

Beautiful morning group run by the river.

Another reason I have no desire to overdo the mileage is because I love lifting heavy things. That has not & will not change. What has changed is my frequency, program & intensity. In the past I have made the mistake of picking up a new activity such as running & simply adding it to my already full workout schedule. Previously I was lifting 5-6 days a week, 2x HIIT workouts & a day of power yoga. If I tried to maintain that routine & added 3 days a week of running in I can guarantee over training or injury would occur. This time around I am sticking with 3 days of total body lifting, 3 days of running & 1 day gentle yoga. My runs also vary from a medium distance steady state run, a sprint day & a long run over the weekend. If I ever have a week I feel as though I'm under recovering, one of these will be the first to go!
Front squats for fun!

Front squats for fun!

Yoga is also become a mandatory addition & no longer an "if I feel like it" once a month activity. I have to stretch frequently & move my body in more restorative ways. I finally got real & admitted it doesn't happen as much as needed alone. Sunday is yoga day & I still take time each night to improve flexibility & mobility during the week. If you are going to ask your body to work hard, it's a must to take time for self care. Another lesson learned through multiple mistakes.

Foam rolling those hard working legs.

So that's a little update about life in my world. I also love using this time of year to reevaluate goals you might have set at the beginning of the year. Many make those new years resolution only to never look at them after a few weeks. Take a few minutes & consider how you have or haven't progressed towards those goals. Any you can check off? Still want to nail before the end of the year? Or may have taken a backseat or a total change in direction? That's ok no matter where you stand! It's a great opportunity to change with the season & decide an intention for these last few months of the year. Happy Fall! Any fall activities or recipes you are excited to transition into?

Getting Back on Track with Ease – Post Special Occasion

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized


Red velvet wedding cake - amazingly delicious one year later!

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful long weekend away with the husband to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. In all honesty the weekend included zero formal exercise, all meals eaten out & many glasses of delicious wine. Plus a side of wedding cake with champagne to end the weekend right. I went into the weekend making a decision to skip my normal hotel gym workouts & to not over analyze how to make every meal perfectly balanced. I wanted to relax, let my body rest & enjoy the special occasion with my husband. As much as I like to strive for that perfect balance, it just doesn’t always happen. I am 100% ok with that! In fact I still ate lots of nutrient dense foods, walked all about Atlanta & most importantly enjoyed the moments without stress or guilt around every little decision.

A much needed night out at a hilarious murder mystery dinner theater.

As with most overly indulgent trips, when I arrived back home the mind games of guilt still kicked in regardless of making a mindful decision to relax for a couple days. My pants felt a little tight, I felt a little less fit & my stomach was rather unhappy with some of my food decisions. The negative self talk crept back in & less than kind thoughts began swirling in my head about my body. In the past, after returning from a vacation such as this one I would have been angry at myself about the bites of desserts I partook in. I would have pinched the imaginary added fat that magically popped up overnight on those love handles & vowed to fit in punishing workouts while eating nothing but lettuce for the next week to make up for my unacceptable behaviors. Which usually lasted a few days until it backfired with an eating binge confounded with a week long bad mood. How unrealistic as well as unnecessarily cruel to my body right?NegativeSelfTalk All that sounds pretty dramatic & ultimately futile. It's taken YEARS of changing those behaviors & my mindset but progress has been made. As I'm a work in progress like everyone else & am certainly not immune to my emotions being in conflict with what my brain knows. This is how things have changed these days. Instead of the emotional freak out I took a deep breath & said “ok, back to normal today”. These are a few of my must do's to get back on track after a vacation: 1. ADDING healthy additions back into my daily routine. I focused on getting back to my normal water intake, centering meals around colorful veggies & including quality protein at every meal. I quickly felt that eating out bloat & newly added sugar cravings subside as I re-balanced my diet.

Give me all the veggies!

2. EASING back into my normal workout routine. A few years ago I would have immediately dragged myself to the gym as soon as I rolled back into town. This trip I knew I was tired & had a 14 hour work day ahead of me. Instead I skipped the workout, got organized for the week, prepped healthy food & made sure to sleep. I eased back into a normal workout week with my regular rest days included. I really tried to listen to my body & probably went a bit lighter in my first few sessions to not overdo it. By Friday I had a killer workout & felt back to my usual badass self.
A little more stretch & a little less intensity is ok sometimes!

A little more stretch & a little less intensity is ok sometimes!

3. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP was on the agenda during the week. I always need a vacation once I arrive home from my vacation & normally come home feeling a bit rundown. I got into bed a bit earlier & even snuck in a nap or two when I had the opportunity. Again focusing on being kind to my body instead of punishing is the key.
Nothing like a sleepy puppy after a weekend with the grandparents.

Nothing like a sleepy puppy after a weekend with the grandparents.

4. SAY NO TO SUGAR is also a must do for me upon returning. I don't eat a lot of added sugar items anyway but on a weekend away there was dessert on multiple occasions. This is a trigger food for me so once I get back home I bow out of those extra treats I often eat in moderation. Not forever, but I try to reach for fruit instead of the chocolate I might usually choose or a kombucha instead of a glass of wine.
2015-02-24 18.59.01-1

Dialing back the sweets that trigger those cravings.

5. STAY AWAY FROM THE SCALE is another must do for ME. Everyone is different & I actually don't weigh myself on a regular basis. It causes me unnecessary stress so why bother. Reality is I know when I'm living according to my health goals by what I put on my plate. Also how my clothes fit tells me when it's time to readjust. Yet occasionally I'll have that curious "how much damage did I do" temptation to hop on post-vacation. All it ever does is make me feel bad about myself & jump on the deprivation bandwagon. So for me personally, I give myself a week or two to get back to normal before I care to ask the scale how I should feel about myself that day. Here it is a week later & I feel happy, back to normal physically & in my everyday balanced nutritious routine. For me, it all started with a bit of kindness, trusting my ability to get back to healthy habits & a bit of fake it til you make it positive self talk. Plus a lot of repetition along the way! How do you take care of yourself post-special occasion celebration?  

Top 5 Training Mistakes & Tips for Effective Workouts

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness Workouts

TipsEvery single person that has stepped foot in a gym was a newbie at one time or another. Heck even Arnold Schwarzenegger experienced his first time lifting a weight & putting it back down without knowing what to do next. It can absolutely be intimidating & unfortunately I see a large portion of the population not getting the most bang for their gym time buck. There is nothing I hate more than seeing someone working hard or hearing about the hours spent without seeing any results. Hard work & commitment should pay off right?

Top 5 Training Tips for Effective Workouts

Common-Gym-Mistakes1. Focus on Compound Movements: unless you spend 7 days a week in the gym, it's not the best use of time to spend a significant portion of your workout doing bicep curls or tricep kickbacks. Ask my clients how many arm or ab days we've had? Answer is none! This is pretty universal whether you are looking to lose fat or gain muscle. Start with the full body movements such as squats, hip hinges, rows & presses. If you have extra time & want to throw in a few curls at the end, by all means feel free. But if you are like most people with a limited workout window, get in the big moves for the most results. bicep-curl_02. Total Body Workouts Over Split Routines: Body part split programs that are broken down into chest, leg & arm days are popular among the body building world. People like the feeling of going in & smashing their legs to "feel the burn". Yet muscle burn doesn't equate to calorie burn or muscle built. Another side effect of working one muscle to fatigue is creating a great deal of soreness. This intense discomfort may linger for days, causing you to skip the next few gym sessions or a planned run. If you are planning to spend 3-4 days a week lifting weights, I would recommend using a total body program for beginners or an upper/lower split for intermediate athletes. Hit the big moves with a day of rest in between. This will work each movement pattern multiple times a week for plenty of stimulus. You will also get better at each lift by performing them more frequently. All while achieving amazing results! 20130424153625-back-squat-35-of-your-body-weight3. Never Progressing in Weight or Repetitions: I often see the same gym goers doing the same workout, year in & year out. They never change aesthetically because they stop challenging their bodies. The body is amazing in it's ability to adapt to whatever we throw at it. It adjusts to doing the same repetitions at the same weight & has no reason to work harder to produce change unless we push it to. Progressive overload is the name of the game in order to see continued results! Challenge your body & don't just go through the motions mindlessly. If you are spending the time, you might as well make it count for something right? Fat-Guy-with-Pink-Dumbbell4. Going in Without a Plan: Glance around any gym & you will find many a person wandering from machine to dumbbell. A few reps here & a set there before sneaking out the door, hoping to not be noticed. Serious kudos for showing up & giving it a go! That is often the hardest part & most important first step. However not having some sort of plan usually ends up in a relatively random workout that won't really do the trick. Plus having a guide to follow will build your confidence & give you focus. Whether it's a basic online program or better yet custom built by a trainer. Having a to do list for the day is a great start to becoming an experienced lifter. il_fullxfull.381514743_63r75. Not Tracking Workouts: Playing guessing games with what exercises you did last week at what weight is no way to spend you gym day! Heck I sure can't remember exactly how much weight, sets or repetitions I did 2 hours ago! Much less 2 weeks ago. Keep a simple journal on paper or an app on your phone to track your workouts. This goes along with having a plan & progressing over time. Looking at your journal will guide you to increasing your efforts week to week. It's also very motivating to see how much stronger you've gotten over time. Not all victories have to be on the scale! I can tell you that I've absolutely been there, done that with most of these gym offenses when I started out. The mainstream magazines & online articles don't help to clear up the confusion either. Their job is to sell magazines & a catchy cover of "5 exercises for sexy abs" is more appealing to our instant gratification instincts than "a simple systematic 3 day a week workout". However I don't want anyone to give up on strength training or waste countless hours of the day following bad advice. a35224d27293b74a4bf73ef7915693d0What's been your personal gym faux pas you've learned from? Have questions or interested in a custom plan? Email me: Happy lifting!  

Healthy Dining – Football Edition

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

Dust off the jersey, break out the koozie & pull up a chair to your favorite sport's bar because it's officially college football season! Since my football team (Go Jackets!) already kicked off the season with a 69-6 win, I decided it was the perfect time to discuss how I still have fun, participate in the festivities & enjoy a balanced sports season. Without wrecking my health goals, ruining all the hard work put in Monday-Friday or feeling deprived of all the fun! Here are a few quick tips for ordering out with nutrition in mind on your teams game Standard American Bar/Restaurant:

  • Munchies:

- Hummus Plates: several of my favorite football watching locations have a hummus plate on the menu. I skip the load of pita bread & simply request extra veggies for dipping. The same can be done with chips & salsa, but yes I realize skipping the chips w/ salsa is tough!

- Wings: Request baked w/ sauce on the side or simply seasoned. I have on multiple occasions asked if they can make baked wings instead of deep fried. They are still awesomely delicious & include some protein!

- Side Options: Check out the vegetable side dishes if you are in need of something to munch on during kick off. I recently enjoyed a nice bowl of roasted brussels sprouts while watching a game. It was a side for entrees & a great choice over the standard loaded potato skins. Guess what? They were super delicious!


  • The Main Meal:

- Ditch the Bun/Balance the Sides: Who doesn't enjoy a deliciously messy burger. Truth be told I hit up my favorite local grassfed burger joint almost every weekend. What I found was I enjoyed the meat, the veggies & other delicious toppings. The bun was just a device to consume it. So I started ditching the bun & requesting a lettuce wrap, eating with a fork or asking for it as a salad topper. All of which are completely satisfying & I have never walked away hungry. If you are trying to keep it pretty clean, skip the fries as well or at least split them with someone. Again look for a great side salad or vegetable to pair with that juicy burger.

- Appetizer + Side: I like variety in my meals so if an appetizer pops out as sounding tasty I gravitate towards pairing it with my favorite side dish. Ex. charcuterie plate + garlic green beans I recently enjoyed at a local craft beer pub. ceviche + black bean soup at a tex mex soccer game viewing. Even ahi tuna + a side salad at wild wings. The portion size of appetizers are more reasonable & you often save a few bucks!

- Salads: Ok this may be the obvious choice but these deceptively sneaky "healthy" options can frequently be calorie bombs. Choosing a pile of leafy greens loaded with fried proteins, tortilla strips, tons of cheese, sour cream & thickly coated dressing may leave you better off choosing the burger option. Stick to a salad that has a few fun toppings such as berries, a flavorful funky cheese, nuts, avocado, roasted vegetables & other nutritious ingredients. Choose meats that are grilled, blackened, roasted, pan seared or baked. If it's not on the menu don't hesitate to ask! And as always, get the dressing on the side so you can control the portion.

  • Delicious Drinks:

- Beer: Choosing a light beer may be the best option, assuming you are still going to limit your quantity. Having 5 light beers as opposed to sipping on 1 or 2 craft brews you really love is not necessarily the best decision. Plus who wants to gulp down that many water flavored brewskies? Slow it down, drink water in between & savor the taste. Another tip? Start with water & wait to order your beverage until the food has arrived.

- Mixed Drinks: Even at a sport's bar I have no shame in ordering a fruity cocktail. However don't even attempt to serve me a bottled sugar filled mixer w/ a splash of vodka. Not worth the extra intake in the slightest. My go to beverages include a flavored vodka + club soda + a splash of juice or large squeeze of lime. If it's a fresh mojito kinda joint, that is my top pick with a few twists. Skip the sugar & double the lime with extra mint. It's amazingly delicious!

- Wine: Another decent option when ordering out but the same goes for wine as anything else. Moderation, water in between & game plan how many you want to have while staying within your health goals for the evening. As always...drink responsibly. Don't drink & drive...seriously.mojito-full-900x600

  • Other Tips:

- Go with the pick 1 treat game plan for a healthier game time experience. That means choose the one item that's a treat for you & keep the rest of the ordering on par with your healthier eating plan. For me that means if it's sweet potato fries I am craving? I skip the glass of wine & dessert. If I'm craving a delicious glass of wine? I enjoy every last sip along side my salmon & vegetable entree.

- You don't have to go along with the crowd. I get that it's a challenge when everyone else is going full throttle nachos plus a pitcher of beer. But you are an individual & have the strength to make your own choices. Don't be peer pressured by your meal time companions. We all have different goals & theirs may differ greatly from yours. If they are good friends they should support your decisions & have your best interest at heart.

- If you know all the options are going to be pretty poor, eat before you go. Then have a small bite with the group & focus on the game. It's a great way to save a few bucks!

- Enjoy the people, atmosphere & football! Try to work on making it less food focused & more fun filled. Yes it's a practice & not necessarily an easy one. If you are truly on a journey to make necessary dietary changes for your long term health then it has to be an internally motivated, non-negotiable decision going in.NCAA-Georgia_Tech-logo-541pxAny favorite football foods?


5 Confessions of a Personal Trainer, Part 1

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

During a recent training session with a client, the topic came up of confessing to behaviors many would assume we wouldn't have. From slightly embarrassing funny quirks to things that go along with the old "do as I say, not as I do" motto. We all have them, it's just human! For fun I thought I'd start with 5 confessions from a personal trainer & health coach: confession1. I hate ab work & skip it frequently: While I don't believe doing 500 crunches a day is worth the effort, I do think it's very important to develop strong core muscles. It reduces injury, allows for proper postural alignment, makes your stronger for heavier lifting & can give you a more aesthetically pleasing physique. Yet 9/10 I skip out on the burning ab work because I simply don't enjoy it. I would rather spend my hour on my legs or back & avoid holding a plank for minutes on end. Warning, now I am paying for it with some issues related to that weak core. Guess it's time to suck it up buttercup! Boo core work!!!41f461afad4b531fa4df3bfba731fbe02. I have dessert every night: Studies have proven that the rumored don't eat before bed, no carbs after 6pm & other similar forbidden dietary rules are simply crap. Yep none of that really matters just an FYI. However that doesn't necessarily mean that every single night of the week I need to have dessert right before I head to bed. Yet I do! It started as a test to try & regulate my blood sugar to sleep through the night (story for another post). Now it's just a pleasurable habit that I could probably do without but haven't been able to ditch. I eat a delicious Quest protein bar while laying on the sofa with my husband while we watch a comedy before bed. I look forward to it all day & take it into account calorically by eating small portions at dinner. Totally worth it!image23. I skip cardio in favor of walks: I use to be a cardio addicts, true story! For years I put in hours on the elliptical, log lots of miles & even ran a marathon. Now I have to bribe myself to put in a sweaty 20 minute session on any type of workout equipment. I try to because I would like to keep some aerobic capacity & it can help me keep my maintenance weight in check. Especially during the holiday seasons. However I LOVE walking & lately have just preferred the more gentle cardio to a pounding run or interval session. Sometimes it's good to listen to your body & ease off the peddle for a bit. But sometimes you gotta put your big girl panties on & put in the work. It's an ebb & flow.image14. I LOVE wine: People often ask me if I ever "cheat" on my diet or eat junk food. First of all I'm not really a fan of the "cheat meal" concept but honestly I enjoy what most consider to be healthy foods. Yes a pizza or greasy burger may sound good at times but I also love a really good salad or bun-less burger. I don't feel deprived, know it makes me feel better & choose foods that I'm excited to eat. So no loss on the grease. The one thing I'm not very good at turning down? Wine! There is something so relaxing about a glass of wine paired with a tasty meal. Or sitting on the patio with friends & sharing a bottle. My favorite? An evening spent cooking in the kitchen with my husband while we share a bottle (or two) & talk for hours on end. I've gone through "no drinking" phases but have found it's not worth it to ME to skip out on those moments just to have more defined abs. At least not at this point in my life. Do I drink anytime I feel like it? No! I limit it to weekends & try keep it to a few glasses with water in between.crossfit5. I'm scared to try Crossfit: While I have my professional opinion about crossfit as a sole form of fitness that's not particularly positive, I do appreciate the strength focus & community vibe it provides. I have inquired multiple times to different boxes about dropping in to try a class. How many times have I gone? Zero! I will say part of the reason recently has been injury related & I didn't want to have to overly modify or risk making it worse. But the biggest reason is it intimidates me! I'm very interested in olympic lifting & love the short metcons. Yet I am also use to being relatively quick to pick things up & being good at athletic endeavors. No I'm not great at everything by any stretch but I typically catch on pretty quick. The idea of having to modify workouts, be the weakest in the class, finish last etc has kept me from giving it a try. All the things I tell people to not let hold them back. Again do as I say not as I do... I'll save some more fun confessions for part two to keep this on the shorter side. No worries though, I have plenty more to share! Maybe a short 6th one? I totally should wash my sports bras more often. I only have 3 I like, which if I washed daily between workouts & trainings would mean a lot of laundry. So if I didn't get TOO sweaty I will let dry & re-wear... Anyone else do the same or have fun confessions to share??  

All or Nothing vs Baby Steps..Which to Choose?

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

All-or-NothingThe day has come in which you've decided enough is enough, it's time to get healthy. Monday morning starts day one of the new you! You clean out the pantry, throw out the donuts, set your alarm for 5am spin class & you are ready to go! This new diet is going to be awesome & in a month you'll drop all the weight gained over the past few years. You even have your first cheat meal planned out & can't wait to dive into a juicy burger, fries & soda. You can deal with this temporary healthy eating for just a month right?..... funny-fat-pug-dog-chair-pizza-diet-starts-next-week-picsIn full disclosure I have absolutely said all those things, made the proclamations & thrown out all the junk food. I've promised to hit the gym every day until a given date, no excuses allowed! Guess what? It usually lasted until around noon on Monday when my belly started growling & I rationalized eating a greasy sandwich because "I worked out this morning". I can truly say this approach never once worked for me. Even if I did stick to a perfectly crafted plan, the second I was stuck in a social situation or unplanned circumstance, it became all or nothing. I usually went all in with the standard mindset of "well I already blew my diet, so might as well eat all the food". Either I ate the cheese dip appetizer, enchiladas & margarita or I would sip on water & politely pretend to not be hungry. Funny how there isn't an in between allowed. Well after years of feeling like a failure I decided to try something new. What could it hurt? Don't get me wrong, there are a few people that can flip the switch on bad habits & truly overhaul their lifestyle. Yet I'd say 9 out of 10 times that isn't the case & most people succeed by taking baby steps over an extended amount of time. If you have been struggling with healthy eating (whatever that definition may mean to you) or exercise for health these are a few tips to making small changes for long term results. 129056345541848020_WHXyHnTv_c1. Mindset: I really believe mindset is the biggest piece to the puzzle. You can buy all the clean food, hire a trainer & check off all the boxes on the way to skinny. However if your goals aren't internally motivated by something more than skinny jeans, it's unlikely you'll sustain the change. Instead take a hard look at:

  • Why it's so important to you to make a lifestyle change: low energy, can't play with kids, getting sick often, feeling uncomfortable in your own skin or preventative health? Find what matters in the big picture of life as opposed to short term aesthetics. Write that down to remind yourself when times get hard & motivation is low.
  • How long did it take you to put on weight or lose fitness capacity: taking a look at how you got here in order to set up realistic expectations for goals along the way. If you don't deep down believe you can achieve a goal that you set too high, you will make a half-hearted attempt before giving it up.
  • What are the barriers to success you've encountered in previous attempts: so you've tried this diet thing before & tripped over the same stumbling blocks. Learn from that!! It's the best thing we can get out of our failures is to learn so we don't repeat. Figure out what keeps getting in the way of your much deserved healthy & happiness in order to work on ways to overcome.
All-or-Nothing-0082. Nutrition: Our food choices are based around a wide array of factors. From how we were raised, what we have access to, who we surround ourselves with, work schedules, personal preferences etc etc. This is why I don't give one size fits all meal plans, everyone is completely different! Instead figure out small weekly changes you can make that are upgrades. Instead of what you need to take out of your diet, look at what you can add. It's a start & much better attitude then taking all your favorites away with nothing to replace them with. Where to start? Here are a few tips I have to making small dietary changes for long term success:
  • Don't label foods as good or bad, or completely off limits for life. As soon as we give food that kind of power it consumes us. Instead decide you are CHOOSING not to eat a few foods for now, as they are not going to help you achieve your goals. Again go back to the internal reasons such as "eating this isn't going to allow me to chase my kids around the park without huffing & puffing". Not "I'm not allowed to eat this because I'm on a diet". See the difference? None of your favorite foods are being ripped off the shelves forever, take away the desperation & know they are always there for a better time in your journey.
  • Do stick to foods you already eat, enjoy & know how to prepare. I'm not saying don't try new foods! Of course you should for a multitude of reasons. However start with simplicity. Don't plan to cook a fancy kale dish with 20 ingredients when you know you don't have time or the interest in lots of cooking. Instead make simple swaps to your current diet & incorporate new methods over time. Currently eating a burger with fries every night? Try simply dropping the bun to start with. Like broccoli & eat it frequently already? Sub the fries for a vegetable you enjoy. Small changes add up! Once you start to succeed you'll feel more than capable of additional upgrade.
  • Make quantifiable goals, not general statements. For example with a client last week I asked what his nutrition goal was for an upcoming business trip? He said to drink less beer. I simply replied that's a great goal, how much beer is "less"? He was slightly disgruntled with having to give an actual number but it's really important. We can always justify "less" or i'll do "better". But what does that actually mean? As I can certainly rationalize that I drank less wine then I did at that one dinner which I don't remember much of the evening... Yea that doesn't mean I succeeded in my goal.
Start-where-you-are-1024x7163. Fitness: Obviously as a personal trainer I'm going to point out the importance of fitness in everyone's life. And yes, I have a personal & professional passion for lifting weights. I've read, seen & experienced the benefits. However I am also a big advocate of starting where you are, doing what you enjoy & just moving more in order to take advantage of the mood boosting benefits! In fact I actually have found that the extreme fitness trends are not all that beneficial to the majority of people looking for general health & happiness. Finding easy ways to get moving, build habits & boost confidence is where to begin:
  • Walk more. Yep this one is direct. I have so many people tell me walking doesn't matter much & isn't strenuous enough to make a big difference. Well that is completely wrong my friends. Daily movement can make a huge difference! If you are out of shape then that 30 minutes a day of walking is the perfect place to start.
  • Try something new! Don't like running? Stop forcing it! You may not be enthusiastic about starting a fitness routine when you are out of shape or are feeling self conscience about your body. However there are so many different ways to get fit that I encourage everyone to try new activities. Hell dance in the living room for 20 minutes a day if that makes you happy & raises your heart rate. It's a start!!
  • Schedule fitness like it's any other appointment. Again don't just say I'll exercise "more". What does that mean. Start with realistic goals of a few days a week, write it on your calendar or Google whatever & check it off when accomplished. We set aside time for work, kids, laundry, tv & so much other daily tasks yet aren't prioritizing health that allows us to do those things. Stop letting exercise be an if I have time endeavor. Your too important for that!
One of my favorite quotes is still Albert Einstein's definition of insanity being "doing the same behaviors over & over again & expecting different results". Regarding health & fitness we spend so much time trying to repeat the same styles of diets, workout programs & habit based changes. We get so stuck in the one size fits all approach that we don't slow down enough to say this isn't working for ME, why & what can I do differently to better reach my goals. Life isn't black or white, all or nothing, good or bad or fail or succeed. Find a middle ground that works for you, a years worth of small changes can lead to a lifetime of healthy habits. Do you struggle with the all or nothing approach to healthy living?

Creativity with Cauliflower + Recipes

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Nutrition Recipes Uncategorized

For many years I overlooked, ignored & completely neglected the amazing vegetable known as cauliflower. At first glance this boringly white & oddly shaped cruciferous veggie seemed to simply be a garnish added to a cheap vegetable tray. Nothing like cold, raw cauliflower to turn most people off adding it to the grocery cart. However over the past year I have found it to be one of the most versatile veggies, boasting a tons of unknown health benefits.

A Closer Look at Cauliflower Nutrition:

  • Nutrition Stats: 1 cup cooked = 29 calories.
  • Vitamin & Mineral Content: a serving contains 77% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. It's also a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese.
  • Brain Benefits: a good source of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development.
  • Detox Properties: includes antioxidant nutrients to boost Phase 1 detoxification activities and sulfur-containing nutrients to boost Phase 2 activities.
  • Digestive Support: contains 9 grams of fiber for every 100 calories.
  • Additional Health Links: includes anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting & cardiovascular improving properties.
Recipes to Try:
  • Mashed Cauliflower: I love mashed cauliflower as a creamy side dish to any main meal. We use this basic method & mix it up by adding different herbs, cheeses & additional seasonings for any occasion.

Step 1: Cut head of cauliflower into florets.

Step 2: Add to boiling, salted water.

Step 2: Add to boiling, salted water.

Step 3: Cook until fork tender, 5-7 minutes. Drain & add to bowl.

Step 3: Cook until fork tender, 5-7 minutes.

Step 4: Blend in bowl w/ immersion blender. Add salt, pepper & additional ingredients to taste. (we love garlic, parmesan or goat cheese)

Step 4: Blend in bowl w/ immersion blender. Add salt, pepper & additional ingredients to taste. We love garlic or goat cheese!


Step 5: Enjoy! We ate this goat cheese mashed cauliflower w/ pork tenderloin & green beans.

  • Shepherd's Pie: We use this mashed cauliflower dish to top a basic shepherd's pie recipe, which is posted here. It's a great way to lighten up a heavy dish plus add additional vegetables to your day.
Shepherd's Pie - 1/2 with cheese, 1/2 without.

Shepherd's Pie - 1/2 with cheese, 1/2 without.

Sherperd's Pie served with sauteed kale. My fav!

Sherperd's Pie served with sauteed kale. My fav!

  • Cauliflower Rice/Cous Cous: This is another fun way to cook cauliflower that takes a short amount of time to throw together. I love this method as it can easily be seasoned to go with any flavor profile you are aiming for.

Here is our basic how to:

Step 1: Chop head of cauliflower into florets.

Step 1: Chop head of cauliflower into florets.

Step 2: Add florets to food processor.

Step 2: Add florets to food processor.

Step 3: Process into rice sized pieces. Tip: don't over process, as it's good to have the texture.

Step 3: Process into rice sized pieces. Tip: don't over process, as it's good to have the texture.

Step 4: Heat up a saute pan over medium heat & add riced cauliflower. Cook for 5-10 minutes until desired tenderness. We usually saute onion & garlic before adding cauliflower. Add salt & pepper to taste & serve!

Step 4: Heat up a saute pan over medium heat & add riced cauliflower. Cook for 5-10 minutes until desired tenderness. We usually saute onion & garlic before adding cauliflower. Add salt & pepper to taste & serve!

~ Additional cauliflower rice flavor combos to try out:

Lemon & Garlic: Lemon adds a fresh punch to any recipe. This paired amazingly with simple grilled chicken & sauteed asparagus.

Spanish Rice: Looking to lighten up a mexican meal at home? Give this a try! We served a side with steak fajitas & the must have homemade guacamole.

Fried Rice: Making an asian style stir fry but want to skip the rice or increase the vegetables on the plate? Sub in this fried rice style cauliflower to round out the meal.

  • Cauliflower Pizza Crust: We made the infamous low-carb pizza crust a couple of times & really enjoyed the final product. We followed the recipe here & added our own his & her topping combos of preference. Cooking tips: Get as much moisture out of the riced cauliflower as possible & go light on the toppings. Too much cheese & heavy toppings will weigh down the delicate crust.
His & her toppings of 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 sausage & peppers.

His & her toppings of 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 sausage & peppers.

  • More Fun Way to Enjoy Cauliflower:

Cracklin Cauliflower: a flavorful curried version, roasted with tons of taste.

Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Soup: a great way to warm you up in the winter months.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites: a fun way to entertain a crowd with a healthy twist.

Cauliflower Steak w/ Chimichurri: an eye catching dish that pleases a dinner party.

 Question: Any favorite ways you have enjoyed getting creative with cauliflower?

Weekly Recap – Food, Fitness & New Goals!

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Recap Uncategorized

The past week has certainly been a busy one with some definite highlights & challenges. I thought it would be fun to recap some of my favorite weekly recipes, workouts & just daily happenings. Here is a peak into my weekly routine: Meal Plan: We always put together a weekly meal plan prior to going grocery shopping. This has become a standard part of our Sunday routine, which I kind of adore. We have fun with it looking through recipes, magazines & cookbooks. At least when we have the time & feel like doing so. We usually stick to it fairly closely but life happens so we adjust where needed. 1509797_511151369038122_993562066922873960_nNotable Eats:

Sweet Potato Bowl: This is one of my favorite combinations I make on a regular basis. No matter how many times I've had it I always find myself saying "yum" with each bite. I chop & roast sweet potato in delicious coconut oil. Saute some kale, throw in a bowl w/ sweet potato & crumbled goat cheese. Then simply top it with a sunny side up egg & it's a bowl full of happiness.

sweetpotatobowlimage1Fish Tacos: We stuck to the menu on Sunday & threw together some easy but tasty tacos. We used frozen cod that we simply seasoned & tossed in the oven. I also made quick pickled red onions & jalapenos from a recipe in Cooking Light magazine. These turned out great & I used them for multiple meals throughout the week. Love that magazine! We topped the tacos w/ the pickled veg, avocado, tomato & a spicy yogurt sauce (frank's hot + plain greek). On the side we enjoyed a cabbage lime slaw which is oh so easy. Recipe to come!

fish tacosimage1Good Ole Turkey Sandwich: Yes I know, why is a turkey sandwich notable eats? For me, I eliminated gluten from my diet a few years ago due to digestive issues. I initially ate a good bit of gluten free replacements but soon realized they were often less healthy then the original & not very good. Therefore sandwiches don't happen much in my world. I truly don't miss them but every once in a while the craving hits. So in my post-workout window I grabbed some gf bread, applegate turkey, kerrygold cheese & lots of dijon for a much enjoyed sandwich. Plus a salad for extra veg.



Sunday - Power Yoga Basics Class: I have been making it a priority to incorporate yoga into my weekly routine. I'll be honest, this doesn't always happen. I am hit or miss on my love for yoga & usually choose a lifting session or run over sweating it out on the mat. However I never regret going & have to remind myself how good the stretch feels afterward. Yay for making it this week, my body & brain was appreciative.2015-06-07 11.32.51Monday: Leg Day - I try to start my week off with my more challenging workouts. The reason being I have more energy early in the week as opposed to on a Thursday afternoon. I find that quite common with clients as well so I front load my workouts to leave me room for flexibility based on energy as the week wanes on. Something you might consider! This workout included movements such as barbell squats, lying leg curls, hyper extensions, leg press, bulgarian split squats & a little core. Tough!

Tuesday: Run + Upper Body - I woke up super early with time to kill so squeezed in a 2 mile run before training clients. I want to work on increasing my running endurance again but I'm starting off slow. That afternoon I took a break from work to lift some heavy weights & set them back down. My fav! This compound day included pull ups, push ups, bench press, barbell rows, farmer's walk & a few other movements thrown in the mix. I'm having shoulder issues so having to be cautious which makes me less then enthusiastic on these days. I love training!runimage1

Wednesday: Cardio Intervals + Arms - I was able to hop right out of bed & hit the gym, my preferred method of training. I did 30 minutes of intervals on the step machine which I find quite boring but cardio accomplished. I then hit some bicep & tricep action via dumbbells before heading home for a long puppy walk. Nothing too strenuous, as every day doesn't need to be full throttle fitness.

Thursday: Leg Day 2 - I am working hard on my legs so today was round 2 for the week. I used some of those booty moves I posted in a previous blog along with paused squats, deadlifts, lunges & more core action. I felt a bit tired today as per usual on a Thursday so kept the weights lighter but higher rep. Love leg days even when I am tired!2015-06-11 16.21.20-6

Friday: HIIT - I did a 25 minute circuit that was quite challenging. It included sprints, dumbbells & a lot of body weight moves such as burpees & lunges. I was huffing & puffing throughout but tried to limit my rest time as much as possible. These workouts should not be done everyday & it's important to work yourself up to higher intensity levels. However they can be an awesome addition to any program & are a great way to get in a time efficient workout. Plus they keep me from getting bored which is always a plus.

Saturday: OUT OF TOWN - We went to Knoxville for a good friends wedding this weekend. I didn't worry about any formal workout but we did walk a LOT. My favorite way to stay active & see a new city while on vacation. I also knew we had rock climbing & a hike on the agenda for the next day so extra rest was just what my body needed.

Plus as always I enjoyed lots of walks with my partner in crime throughout the week. Obsessed..2015-06-17 08.41.08-2Travel + 4th of July: As mentioned we enjoyed a lovely weekend in Knoxville Tennessee to celebrate a friend's wedding. I haven't been to the Knoxville area since I was a kid but had heard great things about the food & outdoor scene. I love searching out new restaurants while traveling & seek a menu that is unique. We do our best to avoid any chain restaurants because what' the fun in that. Although yes I do fall victim to the road trip Chick-fil-a in a pinch. I like their new grilled nuggets as a dipping device for the array of tasty yet less than healthy sauces.

11054399_962367262056_5865018844922753982_nThe wedding itself was beautiful & we had a blast celebrating the occasion. I have to get better at taking a few worthy foodie photos while traveling, as we enjoyed a few notable meals. We also greatly enjoyed the dinner at the wedding which included a delicious fruit & cheese table during the cocktail hour. I loved the soft brie & could have easily enjoyed just a plate of cheese for dinner. However I did take full advantage of the delicious dinner buffet filled with colorful roasted veggies, potatoes, green salad, lime chicken & steak. Not bad options in terms of staying fairly healthy right?

2014-09-20 08.16.21The whole wedding weekend made me feel quite nostalgic & I couldn't help but reminisce about my wedding, which is coming up on a 1 year anniversary. It blows my mind how time flies as I feel like I just met this guy, much less have already been married a year. <3

Back Home + July-August Goals:

I have thoroughly enjoyed the past month of travels, celebrations & special occasions. That's what summer is for right? However I  have to admit to being ready to get back to my routine. A few too many meals out, extra glasses of wine & skipped workouts leaves me feeling a little less than on top of my game. Everything goes through seasons & I am ramping up for a back on track late summer session.

Training: I'm planning on starting a new training program focused primarily on building strength in my squat. While I exercise for a wide range of reasons I like setting a goal to train for. It drives my motivation to put in the hard work & seeing results feels worth every early workout session. This months goals are specific & I am excited to check them off my weekly list to stay accountable:

- 2x per week squat focused workouts. (heavy, light, back & front squats are all tools)

- 2x per week outdoor runs. (I have missed running & want to ease back into it for fun!)

- Stretch for 10 minutes a day, my hardest habit to maintain!

you-are-what-you-eatNutrition: I have no proclamations of doing a diet, detox or any other temporary quick fix plan. I simply want to focus on being mindful, adding food back in that make me feel good & getting creative in the kitchen. Nutrition goals this month include:

- Try one new recipe based on an in season ingredient every week.

- Save wine for the weekends, aiming for 2-3 glasses total each week.

- Make 1/2 my plate non-starchy vegetables at 2 meals per day. Love those greens!

I plan to check back in next month on how I did with these goals, how I tracked them & set new ones. Anyone else care to join the monthly goal challenge?

What are your goals nutrition & fitness goals this month?