by Emma Hammond 0 comments
- 1 scoop high quality protein powder (or 6oz plain greek yogurt/cottage cheese)
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/2c frozen berries
- 1c unsweetened almond milk
- 2 handfuls of spinach
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Most people I know (myself included) have goals regarding weight, health or the physique we see staring back at us in the mirror. While I absolutely preach building goals around longterm health, strength, nutrient quality, feeling good or performance, I have NO problem with wanting to lose a little (or lot) of fat for physique purposes. Aesthetic goals are fine to have, no judgement! However my issue with this is understanding that in order to SEE changes, you have to MAKE changes....---------------------------Weekly conversation with clients:Client: I really want to lose these love handles, I'll do ANYTHING you say. Just tell me what will work?ME: Looking at your food journal you are eating out a lot throughout the week, eating a low protein diet & a high quantity of processed carbs. IF your goal is to see body composition changes, these are the areas we need to work on.Client: Great, so tell me exactly what to do & I'll do it.ME: Ok let's start with one change first & build on it. How about you we up the protein in your breakfast? Could we start adding in eggs or greek yogurt?Client: I don't like breakfast & don't want to get up earlier to put together anything.ME: Ok, maybe we start somewhere else first. How about instead of eating out 4x during the week, we aim for only 2x this week?Client: I don't like to cook.ME: Ok let's look at the choices you are making out to eat. Can we focus on increasing the protein & vegetables while decreasing the carbohydrates, added fats such as cheese & creamy sauces?Client: I don't like to eat much protein & enjoy my ranch dressing.--------------------Ok you get the idea. I SO commonly am asked for help to SEE the changes clients want in their bodies. Yet I am immediately given every reason why they aren't willing to make the changes needed to get the results desired. Looking for that magic pill? Yea let me know when you find it. 5 Common Changes You WON'T make that are limiting your results:
- Cooking at Home: I get it, we all live busy lives, work long hours & pass a million restaurants we can eat at on the way home to our own kitchens. Frankly many people I know (myself included in the past) lack confidence to get in the kitchen because we didn't learn basic skills. Yet we also can google anything. So sorry that answer doesn't fly.
- Reality: restaurants add more fat & additional calories to make us say YUM & to get us coming back for more. Not to mention how big the portions are. I'm not saying you can never dine out BUT the majority of your meals should be made in the kitchen. Yes that means not every dinner will be gourmet style. BUT if you want to lose fat, you can't eat out all day every day.
- I Don't Have Time: Another common barrier I hear is "I didn't have time to eating breakfast or lunch, then I ate EVERYTHING when I get home". I totally understand we all work busy jobs & are often on the go. Work places don't make it easy to take a leisurely lunch break or rushing kids out the door doesn't make breakfast enjoyable. BUT if this is your goal, make more effort.
- Reality: Find foods that fit into your timeline available to get in some sustenance. Yes this may mean making a smoothie before bed & having it in the fridge ready to go in the morning. OR telling your boss I need 5 dang minutes to eat my salad in the fridge. We prioritize ours kids eating breakfast yes? Heck you feed the dog too I would guess. Yet we fall to the wayside but wonder why we can't see changes. You have to prioritize you!
- I'm Not Hungry: This somewhat falls into the same category as not making time to eat but i'll post it separately. I have this conversation with clients every single day. What did you eat today? "I had a yogurt for breakfast, a pack of crackers for lunch & some fruit with crackers & cheese for dinner. I'm just not hungry". Yes you can totally train your body to eat less food & ignore hunger signals after many years. Yet you are working out several days a week, eating 800 calories a day & not seeing any fat loss. Weird!
- Reality: you must make changes to see changes. Your body has reached a point it is barely getting enough fuel to function off of. So no, you aren't going to lose that excess weight while your body is in a starvation state. Like I discussed in a previous blog post here, you are causing major hormonal disregulation & your body is responding accordingly. I know you say "i'm just not hungry". Well eat more anyway. I find with these clients after an initial challenge period, suddenly they start feeling more energy, hunger signals pick back up & they start seeing changes.
- I Don't Like Protein: This may be a surprise to newer readers BUT I was a vegetarian for almost 10 years. I became a vegetarian somewhat out of teenage rebellion but also a few food poisoning instances paired with being mentally grossed out by meat. So vegetarian I went. I did it poorly & became a carb-etarian for many years. I mean pizza & french fries are meat free?? I also gained 25lbs during this time period & lost any muscle mass on my body. Then I became educated on the important of protein & began tracking it to make sure I was getting an adequate amount at each meal. Suddenly I lost fat, gained muscle, blood markers improved & I could eat more because my metabolism sped up due to said lean muscle mass.
- Reality: I understand not everyone wants to eat a hunk of meat 3x a day. However research has shown over & over that a moderate to high protein diet is ideal for body composition changes. You want that "toned" look? Eat protein. That can be meat, fish, eggs or even supplementing with powders. But you can't ride the carbs & fats train only while expecting to see impactful body changes. Educate yourself on WHAT an adequate amount of protein is based on your age, weight & activity level. Then work to implement that. PS 1 egg is not enough protein per meal.
- BUT I Can't Say No To..: You eat lunch with co-workers, get invited to happy hours, it was Betty's birthday at work, they brought in donuts for the lunch meeting, Friday night is date night & Sunday dinner is with the family. All of which you have to eat whatever other people are pushing on you. Because saying no is rude or makes you stand out.
- Reality: It is YOUR body & YOUR health that YOU are responsible for & have to live with. Tired of feeling unhappy in your skin? Well I will always say first let's work on mindset. BUT stop letting others control your health & happiness. Yes it may mean having to stand your ground, say no occasionally & even explain to people WHY you are doing something different. This isn't easy I know! However the more you do it, the easier it gets. Because guess what? Most people are more self consumed with what they are doing then what you are doing. Plus what food you put in your body doesn't impact them a bit. Explain to grandma in all seriousness that you are concerned about your health & that is why you brought salad with salmon instead of lasagna with breadsticks. You don't have to make others feel guilty or get on a high horse. However if they can't respect that then maybe you need to work on who you surround yourself with or frankly develop thicker skin. Harsh I know, but you have to live in this body for life, not them. Be confident in your beliefs & know it's not your job to change others opinions.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Fat loss is simple right? Move more + eat less = scale down. Follow this simple template & all will be right with the world...You look at this equation & say ok move more. How can I burn ALL the calories, sweat it out hard & make the fat drip away the quickest? I got it! The more days I workout, hours I can fit in cardio sessions & calories I can cut will definately get me in my skinny jeans asap. Because after all, 1 pound is equally to 3500 calories. Therefore if I can only eat 1000 calories a day & spend an hour on the elliptical (which says I burned a 500...lies btw), mathematically that means I will lose 3lbs a week. Perfect, I can handle that for a month or two no problem!Maybe that works for the first week. You drag yourself into the gym every single day & sweat it out on the treadmill. You eat your egg whites for breakfast, tiny salad for lunch & a bit of chicken with broccoli for dinner. You step onto that scale & SCORE! Down 4lbs!!Yet come week 2 you find yourself struggling to get in quality workouts because you are fatigued. Duh! You aren't feeding your body enough so why should it give you energy to burn away? Next you are not just a little hungry in between meals, you are STARVING. From the second you get up to when your head hits the pillow. H-A-N-G-R-Y! Heck you may even wake up in the middle of the night in need of sustenance. Sure you fight it off for a day or two but let's be real? Eventually you succumb. And you not only eat a normal amount of food, you eat twice that. All that exercise you are doing is making your body scream for nutrient replacements. Insert the binge on crappy fast food, sweet treats or at minimum oversized portions. But wait? I'm exercising a TON. Cardio all day long. That burns a lot of calories so eating a bit more is fine. Wrong! Because you have now down regulated your metabolism by trying to starve it into submission PLUS burned all your muscle via that lovely treadmill. Muscle = faster metabolism, which you worked ridiculously hard to kill.Ok I say all this in a harsh sounding tone. I know! But after YEARS of doing this myself I am super passionate about helping people understand HOW to get the results they are working so hard for. Which rarely involves listening to the stupid magazine covers telling you the perfect 1200 calorie diet paired with how to get your bikini body in 2 weeks. *insert eye rolling*Let me tell you my personal experience now that a rant is out of the way. Back when I was in the constant "must lose last 10lbs" cycle, I assumed that the more I exercised, the more weight I would lose. The best way to burn calories? Running of course! Or cardio of any kind would do. As I usually ran as much as I could until my knees hurt, then jumped on the elliptical on my "rest days".Heck I even decided the best way to lose that weight would be to run a marathon. All that running HAD to result in weight loss. So I did it. I ran 40 miles a week & watched my watch tell me how many calories I burned with every mile. On paper I should be losing at least 2lbs a week!To fast forward a bit let's just say instead of losing 10lbs marathon training, I GAINED 10lbs. And I can promise you it wasn't 10lbs of lean sexy muscle. In fact I had the most cellulite i've ever had, no muscle definition & felt quite "soft" all the way around. Skinny fat is what I would call it. So how did I gain 10lbs while marathon training? A few simple facts:
- I was only doing cardio & lost a significant amount of muscle mass. Muscle mass is GOLD when it comes to a speedy metabolism & being able to eat enough to fuel my recovery.
- I was hungry ALL the time! Yes I burned 400-1000 calories on many a run. Guess what? One burger balanced out that equation quickly. You can easily out eat any amount of exercise. But I couldn't help it. I was hungry ALL THE TIME. So I ate. Not unhealthy foods but too much, too frequently. I earned it right?
- I was training for performance, yet attempting to eat for aethestics. My goal was to run a marathon. That was the focus, the training & I really needed to do was eat to support that. Yet instead I tried to starve it! You need to create a deficit when trying to lose body fat but NOT when you are trying to perform at a sport. Those are two SEPARATE goals!! Can they be balanced? Yes, sometimes you can work to find that small caloric deficit that meets both needs, but it's tough. And often not sustainable.
- I was causing havoc on my hormones! That much physical stress in the form of exercise plus dietary stress majorly impacted my hormones. I actually had blood work done & my cortisol was threw the roof! I was waking up in the middle of the night, exhausted midday, cold all the time, lost my period & my body was in no place to function efficiently. AKA fat loss stalled. PLEASE NOTE: these are all BIG warnings signs of overtraining!!!
- PICK ONE GOAL: performance, fat loss, muscle building or maintenance. There is no right answer & it will change over time. BUT there are more efficient ways to achieve each. If you just need to de-stress & that's what working out is for then GREAT! Do what makes you happy & never feel bad about that. But understand your top priority so you have realistic expectations.
- KEEP HORMONES IN CHECK: if you are performing at a high level of intensity & not putting it back into your body. It will at some point rebel. You can't use & abuse it into submission.
- MUSCLE RULES: this is the best tool you have in the body composition game. The more you have or can at least maintain, the more calories your body burns at rest. Cardio builds endurance & heart health but NOT muscle. Aka lift something!
- THINK LONG GAME: if you are trying to lose fat, it didn't come on overnight & won't disappear that way. Bummer I know. But find the exercise balance & dietary intake you can maintain comfortably for the duration needed to hit your goal. Not to mention you can see yourself sticking somewhat close to after. AKA if you can't see yourself eating that way in a year, it's too restrictive. Find a better balance.
- MAINTANENCE IS OK: you don't always need to be in diet mode. Even if you still want to or need to lose body fat, it's ok to hang out in maintenance for a bit. In fact it's a must! If I sign up for a face & train for it, it's with the understanding I may lose a little muscle & not be as defined as I'd like. BUT my goal is to fuel performance. That is awesome!!! Fat loss is something I can come back to IF & when I want to. We shouldn't stay in a deficit all the time & it's important to exercise for fun! Not just to change our physical appearance.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Last night as I was wrapping up a training session, my client randomly asked "how do you eat so perfect all the time?". I started to laugh but stopped myself realizing she was serious. She followed up with "I mean don't you ever just want to eat chocolate?". My response, "why yes I do, in fact I eat chocolate everyday!". *gasp!!* Yes I have a confession...I often practice imperfect eating. Often intentionally! I personally eat anything but perfectly clean. What is perfect eating anyway?? I absolutely believe that nutrition, diet & food preferences are so individual. It's why I'm not a fan of cookie cutter meal plans. One size does not fit all! While there are lots of commonalities I believe every person should use as a nutritious base, the question is who are you & what are your goals! So I thought I'd get personal & show a few of my "less than perfect foods" I include in MY diet. And more importantly how they fit in the bigger picture of my total intake, mindset & goals. My top 5 foods I include almost weekly: 1. Wine: I LOVE wine. A juicy glass of cab is better to me than a slice of cake or any other food. No I don't mean I down bottles at a time but I do include a few glasses every weekend. But I skip Sunday-Thursday. Balance! 2. Quest Bars: yep these are prepackaged processed protein bars. They do have one of the shortest ingredients list for a high protein bar that i've seen but I don't lie to myself about them. They are a sweet treat that's not as nutrient dense as many other options. But they make me happy, satisfy my sweet tooth & keep me from overdoing other desserts. For where I am now, they can fit within my diet while not negatively affecting my progress. So they're an often daily staple. 3. Skippy's PB: this "natural" peanut butter is not the best choice available. I typically recommend ingredients that are simply peanuts + salt. This has evaporated cane syrup & a few other added sweeteners. Perfect? Nope! But it reminds me of my childhood & tastes SO much better then the organic version. I eat 1tbsp, 1-2x a week without guilt. 4. Dark Chocolate PB Cups: Obviously i'm a peanut butter lover. While candy has never been a big temptation, I do love Reese's. Then I found these trader joes dark chocolate version & fell in love. They live in my fridge & when I really have a hankering, I eat 1! They're not off limits & always available so I don't fear never having them again. Once a week or less I grab 1 & enjoy every bite! 5. Pumpkin O's: I've never had a great relationship with cereal in all honesty. It's a food I have struggled with totally overdoing & finding myself staring into the bottom of a box I just opened. It can be a cycle of overeating & guilt that I know is a trigger. So I don't eat cereal frequently. Plus I have a gluten sensitivity so I avoid for the sake of my for my digestion. But I found these gluten free pumpkin o's & fell in love. I don't want to fear cereal so it's there lurking in the back of my cabinet. Bc it's not off limits but also not the first thing I see. In fact I usually forget it's there until it's gone stale. Which I'm not eating. Yet when I want it on top of a cold yogurt banana bowl I pull that box out, sprinkle a handful on top & stash it in the back of the pantry. Once a week or so I might remember to eat it if the craving hits! Now a few things to point out. These foods make up maybe 10% of my TOTAL intake on a weekly basis. The rest of my meals are filled with tons of eggs, vegetables, fruit & meat! I make sure my daily must haves of water, a big ass salad & every meal based around a solid protein source are met first. Then I sprinkle these extras around where desired. Like the icing on the cake ;) Another important individual factor I consider when including more or less of my "imperfect foods" is my goals. I am NOT trying to lose fat or make major physique changes at the moment. I know SHOCKING right? A woman who's goal isn't to get skinnier! But that's not where i'm at currently, I'm in maintenance mode. IF I was trying to make body composition changes, I would reevaluate my intake of some of these foods. You can't have it all, all the time.That's a BIG reason why you shouldn't compare your plate to others. When people ask what I eat every day I preface it with this is how I eat for:~ my activity = workouts & active job ~ my goals = maintenance mode ~ what i can stick to = completely individual I also pay attention to my body. Often when I include too many foods lacking in nutrient density I find I'm not feeling my best. If my hunger &/or cravings for these foods start to drastically increase, it may be time to scale back or take a break. If my energy drops or digestion gets wonky, that's a sign I need to focus on foods that nourish me more. I'm losing strength in the gym or mental focus on work? Time to reassess. It's not punishment or deprivation & those foods will still be there. This is a big aspect of how I work through balanced eating with my nutrition coaching clients. It takes time, experimentation, education & uncovering what your REAL goals are beyond the scale. As often, I have personally realized I wasn't willing to or at a place where the sacrifice to change was worth the outcome. Which was actually a relief to recognize & stop beating myself up over failing to reach a goal I didn't really want! Nutrition & fitness SHOULD enhance your life. If that's something your still struggling with message me about my personalized nutrition coaching. You are not your diet, your weight or pants size & you CAN find a way to make it all contribute to being the best YOU! email@example.com
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
As much as I preach ditching the diet & balanced eating, the reality is if you are trying to lose weight it is necessary to create a caloric deficit. It is MUCH more complicated than eat less & move more! Quality of food matters, type of exercise is important & so many other factors that I will rant about another day. Regardless there may come an appropriate time to reduce your food intake in order to lose body fat. Plain & simple. You may even have to deal with a bit of hunger here & there while you try to find a balance between your energy out versus energy in. However you should be able to find a middle ground where you can maintain a deficit while not binging on the closet pint of ice cream if left alone for 5 minutes. This is where eating more while losing weight comes in to play..Contrary to most people's experiences, "dieting" can be done in a healthy, safe & not completely torturous way. Yes I know because YES I have at times reduced my calories intake in order to shed excess body fat. In fact at one point I shed over 30lbs. Trainers & health coaches struggle too! In recent years I play with leaning out for special occasions, vacations or simply to self experiment with different nutrition protocols as research. The great part of my good & bad experiments is I learned a lot about how to lose body fat, keep cravings in check, maintain strong workouts, skip the starvation/binge cycle & actually achieve the results I desired.One of the top tips I still use daily to maintain my weight is VOLUME eating. Volume eating? So eat tons of foods & still lose weight?!? Well yes, kind of! I am a person who needs to chew my food & enjoy the experience of eating. I don't get satisfied off a smoothie, I am displeased with a tiny portion I can eat in 2 bites & even enjoy fairly frequent eating. Yay snacks! The issue with that is when I consume foods that are a higher caloric bang for the buck compared to their portion size.For example I am feeling a midday snack coming on. I generally aim for a snack to be in the 200 calorie range.Option A: I could eat a 2 tbsp of peanut butter that contains around 200 calories. Delicious yes? But also disappears in one quick bite which = not super satisfying for ME.Option B: A cup of nonfat plain greek yogurt w/ sliced strawberries, 1/2 a tbsp of peanut butter & a cup of coffee or tea with almond milk for just under 200 calories. Delicious, takes time to eat, has texture, protein & a bit of that peanut butter I was craving.For me this is a no brainer! The fact that I have to sit down & eat the yogurt in multiple bites as opposed to eating one big spoonful of peanut butter that let's be real, I'm likely to refill, is an easy decision. Same calories but more volume for the win!It's a part of the reason I include a big ass salad every day. I know it drives my husband crazy when he has to wait 45 minutes for me to finish a salad the size of my head, after he's done in a few bites of a sandwich. Which probably had twice the calories of my salad btw.. But the time it takes to slow down & eat plus the high fiber & volume of vegetables does the trick every time.I would much rather eat 100 calories of crunchy carrots & salsa than 5 potato chips. I get more enjoyment & satiety eating 1/2 a plate of roasted broccoli then 1 small scoop of mac & cheese. Having a big bowl of berries satisfies my sweet tooth more than struggling to eat just one bite of cheesecake for the same caloric amount. I also frankly don't have to overtax my willpower by trying to just eat half of the plate or just one bite of ice cream. Again that is what works for ME!What are great foods to help fill you up, provide you lots of texture, taste & time to actually eat? Here are a few of my favorites when I feel the urge to eat but want to stick within my intake goals:Vegetables: I choose those that are non-starchy, fiber filled & that I actually enjoy!~ Big ass salads for meals (watch the cheese, heavy dressings & crunchy tortilla type toppings).~ Snack on cucumber, carrots, peppers, cooked or uncooked broccoli & dip in salsa for more flavor.~ Fill 1/2 your dinner plate with vegetables over other sides. You still get a full plate & fill up quick!Fruit: I don't believe anyone ever became obese by eating too much fruit BUT I have seen clients over do the amount they eat in a day. Hello "5 apple a day client", you know who you are.... ;)~ Try sticking with mostly berries as a great sweet tooth satisfier. I promise your waistline will thank you for overeating berries as opposed to cookies. I love dipping strawberries in yogurt mixed w/ cocoa powder!Protein: If I am struggling with feeling full I lean towards filling up on protein over carbs & fats. That protein is more likely to fuel my muscle growth, recovery from workouts & less likely to be stored as body fat.~ Increase the portion of leaner meats such as chicken, turkey & fish.~ Plain greek yogurt is a great option, as I eat a full cup with 24g of protein for less than 200 calories.~ Cottage cheese is another protein filled option, if you like that lovable curd...:)~ Make a big ole smoothie if that floats your boat. Throw in some protein powder, spinach, unsweetened almond milk & berries for a lot of nutrition in~ Egg Whites are another option if trying to keep calories on the lower side. Yes I prefer to eat the whole egg BUT when I am trying to lose a few pounds I am ok with a big egg white omelet filled with tons of veggies. Especially if I know I will be going out to eat that day & consuming a higher fat meal. It's about balance!Did notice that all of these options are REAL FOOD. Not 100 calorie packs of cookies or weight watchers muffins. No I am not bashing weight watchers per se but YES I do think when you are in a calorie deficit it's even MORE important that you include foods that have nutritional value. Empty calories = empty energy, satiety & so on that WILL lead you to being hungry & undernourished. Of course you can't sustain that! Why should you?In the end take time to learn & listen to what works for you. Not your friend, the magazine cover or newest trendy diet guru. If a diet isn't sustainable I can promise you it won't KEEP you at your goal. Try out some of these swaps & enjoy what it feels like to eat more, while getting the nutrition your body needs to do all that you ask it to do.Struggle with this concept? Email today & let's troubleshoot volume eating for you! Emma@healthybalancewithemma.com :)
by Emma Hammond 0 comments