Viewing posts categorised under: Goals

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.

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!

image2

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...

image1-1

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!

image2-1

**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?

Being RIPPED vs. being HEALTHY: Are they one in the same?

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Habits Mindset Uncategorized

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?BodyfatYes 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...image1-2SO 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!picstitchYes 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.89de54dbb2c5e74d77e360cefcaf9f7fLong 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?

Demystifying Post-Workout Nutrition: Who, What & WHY?

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Nutrition Uncategorized

Post-Workout Nutrition Confusion? You are not alone! Flipping through every magazine, you can read a different "must do" from varies gurus about the perfect post-workout food! From the most popular "you must have a protein shake within 5 minutes" to newer "fasting is the way to go" for fat loss. There is ample reasons to be more than slightly confused.
So are you ready to dispel some myths & clarify what's best for YOU? Here goes:
design-3
 
I work with a wide array of clients who are all striving towards different goals:
- Fat Loss
- Muscle Building
- Increased Athletic Performance
- Increased Cardiovascular Function
- Maintaining Bone Density
& Just for Freakin Fun!!
 
All awesome reasons to hit the gym!! One of the most common questions every gym goer asks upon starting a new routine is "what should I eat post workout?". A protein shake? Carbs? No Carbs? How About Healthy Fat? 
These answers all depend on my cliche phrase of who are you & what are your goals! The intensity of your workout, when you ate last, your goals in the workout/recovery & most importantly overall daily intake factor in to the post workout equation. So I thought I would quickly breakdown a few different scenarios of IF, HOW & WHY you need to be concerned with your post sweat-fest intake.
 
WHO:
 ~ The General Fat Loss Client:
Post yoga session, no immediate refuel needed.

Post yoga session, no immediate refuel needed.

IF: you are a beginner fitness enthusiast looking to lose fat, working out at a low-moderate intensity level (which may feel strenuous to you but is mostly bodyweight/cardio/lower intensity lifting) & are eating an adequate total daily caloric intake.
THEN: The answer is no, you don't need to slam a shake or even eat within that often touted 30-45min  post workout window. You already have enough glycogen in your system & haven't solicited a demanding enough physical output to need to replenish immediately. Eat your next meal as normal & make sure it's balanced with protein to maintain muscle.
~ Advance Fat Loss Client:
 IF: you are an intermediate to advanced lifter, runner or whatever your workout of choice is & are looking to lose a bit of fat while maintaining your workout intensity.
THEN: It probably would be safe to fit in some type of post workout fuel just as a "can't hurt" measure. Will you lose all your gains if you don't? Definitely not. Simply on the more intense training days, you should aim to maintain all of your lean muscle mass. Therefore a safety net of protein post-training can't hurt. Now this doesn't mean you need to keep your shaker bottle glued to you at the gym. It just means have a small snack or plan to eat your normal next meal within an hour after training.
image2

Post Interval Cardio, I skip & enjoy my next meal.

WHAT: This is somewhat dependent on your sport/performance goals. In general always include a solid source of protein! Carbs & fats are variable based on the activity. If you find yourself losing strength, muscle, have another intense workout the same day or are not recovering well, include carbohydrates. If you have no energy issues or any of the above symptoms, just consuming protein for fat loss might be the ticket.
What about Fat? It's not necessary & does slow down the replenishment of nutrients from protein & carbohydrates to your muscles. Which is why I actually recommend healthy fat consumption for most meals because we want slow absorption of food to sustain our hunger for a longer period of time. So if your post-workout nutrition is a meal that is suppose to sustain you for multiple hours? Go ahead & include that healthy fat from cooking oils, avocado, nuts etc. That way you are not ravenous an hour later. If the food you consume post workout is just a snack to get you through for an hour or so? Skip the fat.
~ Athlete or Musclie Building:IF: Top priority is muscle building or athletic performance such as training for a race, then yes I always recommend eating within the notorious post-workout window to be safe.
post heavy lifting, I always refuel

post heavy lifting, I always refuel

WHAT: Choose a snack or meal based on a close to equal ratio of protein to carbohydrates to quickly replenish glycogen stores to muscle. The best post-workout carbs comes from quick metabolizing sources of glucose, such as starchy sources like oats, sweet potato, quinoa, yam, or rice. That plus your standard protein shake or a real food meal like chicken breast + starchy carbs is a great way to make sure you are building muscle & fully recovering to perform optimally next workout. This is a time to skip the fat if you are concerned with refueling as quickly as possible. As mentioned, healthy fats are much needed but do slow absorption rates. So have a quick post workout shake & then include healthy fat in your next meal.
Ok that that was a bit science heavy so heres a simple recap:
~ Newbie Fat Loss Client: No need for immediate post workout meal. Eat next meal per normal.
~ Advanced Fat Loss Client: Aim for protein only post workout UNLESS performance/energy suffers OR if it's a full meal meant to sustain you. If that's the case, a balanced healthy meal of protein, some carbs & a little healthy fat is best to keep you from being ravenous a few hours later.
~ Performance Athletic or Muscle Building: Consume protein & carbs within 45 min to an hour post workout. Skip the fat on this snack.
 IMG_0827
My Go-To Smoothie Formula:
  • 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
Optional Add Ins: for a meal I add healthy fats such as ground flax, avocado or 1tbsp nut butter.
QUESTIONS? Just ask!! Want more tips, tricks & exclusive FREE content? Don't miss out on a thing, click here to sign up for bi-weekly news. Never any junk!

5 Changes You WON’T Make That Are Limiting Your Results

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Habits Meal Prep Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

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....design-2---------------------------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. design-35 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 good-guy-netflix-meme-2-vgc5pqbreakfast 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 12747615_1695775697327451_1209536706_nwas 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.
The tone of this might come off as not sounding very compassionate or understanding. Which I can ASSURE is not the case. I absolutely understand that implementation & change is easier spouted out on the internet then put into practice in the real life. However in a world of convenience, sometimes you gotta make a little effort to step outside your comfort zone. No you can't "have your cake & eat it to" when it comes to fat loss.These are YOUR goals, not mine. In fact I am frequently tell people that there are changes I am NOT willing to make to have that perfect beach body or see that year round 6 pack staring back at me. Sacrificing my weekend wine & dinners out with friends isn't worth the results. But guess what? I'm not going to complain about not seeing changes that I am not working for. Yet I DO put in the effort to meal prep on Sunday, even when I am tired or don't feel like it. Why? Because I want to be in shape, have great workouts, practice what I preach & feel good in my skin. So I put on my big girl pants, turn off the damn TV for 2 hours & get shit done.Every individual needs to be honest with & ASK am I really interested in learning how to make changes to see results? Or am I looking for the easy way out or that magic pill to skip putting in the work. OR even more importantly, is my WHY behind this silly goal I am spending energy on not strong enough. Therefore time to drop that & move on with life? There is no right or wrong answer here. Just a little tough love to avoid wasting time & effort spinning your wheels. <3Healthy Balance LLC

Are you OUT EXERCISING your fat loss? Plus 5 ways to stop!

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Nutrition Uncategorized Workouts

3Fat 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*

Intro into running, because I desperately wanted to "tone up".

Intro into running, because I desperately wanted to "tone up".

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?
Marathon Finished! Super proud BUT a good 10lbs heavier & no muscle.

Marathon Finished! Super proud BUT a good 10lbs heavier & no muscle.

A few simple facts:
  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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!!!
Now I am not JUST bashing cardio. Overtraining happens in so many different ways including high intensity cross training, heavy duty weight lifting, crossfit, HIIT workouts & even intense yoga. Stress is stress & MORE is not always better. This is why I encourage clients to decide what their TOP goal is.~ Is it performance such as I want to train for a race & need to provide my body sufficient fuel to do so. ~ Is it fat loss? ~ Muscle gain? ~ Maintaining your current weight while enjoying your lifestyle?There are different optimal training programs to achieve different goals. Burning the candle at both ends all the time won't get you there.
Strength training a few days, very little cardio, balanced diet & feeling great.

Strength training a few days, very little cardio, balanced diet & feeling great.

So how did I recover from my marathon weight gain? This is the awesome part. I worked out MUCH LESS! I went from spending 10+ hours a week on the roads running to maybe 2-3 hrs at most in the gym. Most of my workouts did not include any huffing, puffing or sweating bullets. Instead I lifted weights a few days a week to build muscle & did a few shorter but intense cardio sessions that didn't overstimulate my appetite. Plus took a lot more walks & enjoyed time recovering.Due to that balance of building muscle & not creating havoc on my hormones, I was able to keep my hunger & cravings in check. Therefore able to live relatively comfortably in a small caloric deficit, aka I saw a steady
Muscle is that you?

Muscle is that you?

decrease on the scale while not feeling miserable. Which was much easier to maintain over the time needed to drop fat, actually see muscle definition & feel much more energized in & out of the gym.Magic? Nope not at all. Just counter to what seems to make sense, the tabloids have told us & fighting that all in mentality. Let's recap the take aways for how to AVOID overexercising yourself out of fat loss goals:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Ultimately my #1 goal of fitness is HEALTH.
Balanced & simply maintaining :)

Balanced & simply maintaining :)

To keep me moving into my old age, my heart ticking, my brain stimulated & my inner competitor challenge. Whatever your method of moving, it shouldn't be solely focused on fat loss. What's the fun in that?There is nothing wrong with having aethestic goals but thinking that you can abuse your body into looking the way you want, well it won't ever happen. Nutrition rules the physique world, fitness keeps you strong & empowered. Take care of your body, it's the only one you have. If you have a specific goal & aren't sure the optimal path to get there, invest in yourself by finding a coach. We are all too harsh on ourselves so having an unbiased guide is well worth the investment.What's your WHY behind your fitness program?Healthy_Balance02