Showing posts tagged with: mindset

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

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

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

Insanity Workouts OR Netflix Binge Watching

Chicken & Broccoli OR Pizza & Beer

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

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

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

Emma's "Moderation" Moto:

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

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

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?

Why I LOVE MY Imperfect Eating & How You Can Too!

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Recap Uncategorized

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! Image-1-2I 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: IMG_29801. 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. IMG_16263. 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! IMG_16875. 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 ;) IMG_0687Another 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. IMG_2913 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! emma@healthybalancewithemma.com Healthy_Balance02

How to cope (& struggle) through injury.

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Injury Mindset Uncategorized

There is nothing like the feeling when you return to the gym after 6 weeks away! Almost 4 months ago I injured my back in the gym. What I hoped would be a few rest days turned into a several month long battle with my body. I tried to push through or work around the injury until reality hit. I wasn't getting any better, I hurt all day long & wasn't getting in effective workouts by pushing through pain. I had to get real with myself & commit to 6 weeks or longer out of the gym until I was 100% good to go. Sucks right!!!
Injuries are frustrating to deal with but I've learned to respect when my body needs a break. Even though I needed to take time away from lifting, I didn't just throw up my hands up & quit on my healthy habits. Instead I set new goals & learned a lot along the way.
image1
 Goals:
~ Keep a fitness routine that would help & not hurt my injury: I knew incorporating yoga would be beneficial to my back issue so I aimed for 3-4x a week. I went above & beyond most weeks, averaging 5-6 sessions! I saw my physical & mental practice improve greatly & absolutely plan to maintain a 2-3x a week practice moving forward. I also ran a bit more & built back up to 8 miles. I enjoyed a race with friends which I hadn't done in over 3 years which kept me challenged without the gym. I did see notice a bit of muscle loss probably due to the endurance training but I accepted that would be the result. Nothing that can't be rebuilt! image2
~ Keep my nutrition in check: when our activity levels change our nutrition may need to adjust as well. However I did NOT go into diet mode out of fear of gaining weight. Yes that was my natural instinct at first but I remembered that's not the best plan for my goals. I wanted to retain as much muscle as possible so I just sought to maintain my weight & support the recovery process. I simply cut out that pre or post workout snack & payed more attention to my hunger levels. They naturally went down because I wasn't exercising as strenuously so it was just a matter of honoring my instincts.
image1
~ Keep my happiness high: my number one reason for working out is because I enjoy it. It keeps my mood boosted, energy high & attitude positive. The first week off I noticed I was moody, grumpy & having a bit of a pity party. That wasn't going to magically heal my back or make the time fly by faster. So I started a gratitude journal, which I wrote in every morning & evening. I also made sure to talk to my husband when I was feeling down. Instead of bottling it up, it helped to talk through my feelings to better understand how to work on my mindset. My last mindset key was to keep it all in perspective. I was allowed to be upset but fitness is just one part of me. I am MORE than my workout routine, number on the scale, lbs I can lift, miles I can run & any other way we measure ourselves.
Ever had to deal with an injury & struggled through the process?

Getting Back on Track with Ease – Post Special Occasion

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

cakeimage1

Red velvet wedding cake - amazingly delicious one year later!

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful long weekend away with the husband to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. In all honesty the weekend included zero formal exercise, all meals eaten out & many glasses of delicious wine. Plus a side of wedding cake with champagne to end the weekend right.I went into the weekend making a decision to skip my normal hotel gym workouts & to not over analyze how to make every meal perfectly balanced. I wanted to relax, let my body rest & enjoy the special occasion with my husband. As much as I like to strive for that perfect balance, it just doesn’t always happen. I am 100% ok with that! In fact I still ate lots of nutrient dense foods, walked all about Atlanta & most importantly enjoyed the moments without stress or guilt around every little decision.
usimage2

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

As with most overly indulgent trips, when I arrived back home the mind games of guilt still kicked in regardless of making a mindful decision to relax for a couple days. My pants felt a little tight, I felt a little less fit & my stomach was rather unhappy with some of my food decisions. The negative self talk crept back in & less than kind thoughts began swirling in my head about my body. In the past, after returning from a vacation such as this one I would have been angry at myself about the bites of desserts I partook in. I would have pinched the imaginary added fat that magically popped up overnight on those love handles & vowed to fit in punishing workouts while eating nothing but lettuce for the next week to make up for my unacceptable behaviors. Which usually lasted a few days until it backfired with an eating binge confounded with a week long bad mood. How unrealistic as well as unnecessarily cruel to my body right?NegativeSelfTalkAll that sounds pretty dramatic & ultimately futile. It's taken YEARS of changing those behaviors & my mindset but progress has been made. As I'm a work in progress like everyone else & am certainly not immune to my emotions being in conflict with what my brain knows. This is how things have changed these days. Instead of the emotional freak out I took a deep breath & said “ok, back to normal today”. These are a few of my must do's to get back on track after a vacation:1. ADDING healthy additions back into my daily routine. I focused on getting back to my normal water intake, centering meals around colorful veggies & including quality protein at every meal. I quickly felt that eating out bloat & newly added sugar cravings subside as I re-balanced my diet.
saladimage1

Give me all the veggies!

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

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

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

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

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

Dialing back the sweets that trigger those cravings.

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

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

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Fitness goals Habits Mindset Nutrition Uncategorized

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

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

5 Tips for 4th of July Healthy Eating + Flavorful Recipes

by Emma Hammond 0 comments

Habits Mindset Nutrition Recipes

Designs-by-Serendipity-Fourth-of-July-Poster-Image-2Fireworks, sunshine & finger food galore! Time flies & somehow the 4th of July weekend is only a few days away. I personally love this holiday, as it's a wonderful time in history to celebrate & a great reason to throw a backyard bash! This means firing up the grill or bringing over a dish to mingle with friends over a large buffet of food & drinks.These types of weekends use to bring me major anxiety! Anytime I was working hard to stick to a healthy eating goal I would stress about what to eat & how I could avoid going overboard. As much self control as I thought I had acquired, there is always the table with 10 different desserts. How do you pick just one? Plus after a fruity cocktail or two my "oh well" attitude would slide in & my choices usually went downhill from there.

(Backyard Bliss)

(Backyard Bliss)

Now that's not to say there is anything wrong with indulging a bit on a holiday weekend. To me it's all about who are you & what are your goals! How does that type of gathering effect your psychologically?- If you enjoy 2 slices of cake are you guilt ridden the next day or do you shrug it off & get back to your green smoothie for breakfast?- Are you at a healthy weight, active & just trying to maintain? Then maybe it's not something to even worry about. As you shouldn't go around feeling stressed about food choices if you already have healthy habits 85% of the time.- However if you are working towards a goal to lose weight for health reasons or really struggle with binge eating to the point of discomfort, then it's far more important to have some strategies going in.SMART-goalsAgain it's about what unique goals you have, not one size fits all. For me personally I don't mind an extra treat or two as long as I really enjoy them. I strive to eat mindfully & I not overdue it to the point of feeling sick. As we have all had that long lasting belly ache from ignoring our hunger cues & stuffing down an extra scoop of ice cream or two...oops!4th of July

1. Have a Plan: I don't mean you need to plan ahead every bite you are going to eat. Just having some goals going into the event will give you some parameters to work within. For myself, I may have the goal of sticking with 2 drinks while having a glass of water in between. I often share that goal with my husband to help hold me accountable. This at least helps to keep me mindful of my choices, slow down & enjoy what I am actually consuming. Other great goals may be to skip the one dish you know triggers less than healthy choices, only eat one carby side dish or choose one dessert. Even if your Make a Plangoal is to simply be mindful of when you are full, that may be a victory you will feel proud of!

2. Bring a Dish: I don't enjoy being stuck at a BBQ with all fried foods, mac & cheese or mayo filled potato salads. While some of those may be enjoyed, I do prefer having a fresh salad, veggies or fruit to snack on along the day. My solution? Bring what you enjoy eating! No one is going to complain about an extra dish on the table & often times the lighter fair becomes the hit of the party on a hot day. Choose a recipe you are excited to eat & not just another bland veggie tray. This will make you more likely to fill up on the good stuff & steer clear of foods that don't fit your goals.

3. Indulge in the Homemade: This is always a factor in my decision making process when I hit an event. There is a major flavor difference between the store bought 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies & that made from scratch delicious dessert. Why waste it on the foods you can grab from the store any day of the week? I am much more likely to sample a dish I know is phenomenal which I don't get the opportunity to eat often, versus the slightly stale cookie cake that's always available. In short...be picky!!!

(Look for a local race!)

(Look for a local race!)

4. Start the Day with a Workout: The reason I recommend starting the day with a workout is not about trying to burn off the extra calories you are planning to consume. As I'm not a big fan of working out to negate overdoing the eating. Guess what..that doesn't work! However the reason I love working out on a day I have a social gathering is I typically make better decisions. After a good workout in the morning I am more likely to focus on refueling my body for recovery & getting myself ready for the next. Therefore I naturally lean towards a few less drinks & a bit more healthy protein throughout the day. Plus I typically feel a bit better in the outfit I plan to wear after a good sweat session;)

5. Relax: We often get so wrapped up being afraid we might fail, that we set ourselves up for disaster. All that pressure is giving WAY too much control to the food around us. Look at your motivation, goals, have a plan & enjoy the experience. These events are about the people, fun & memories made along the way. Let the food stress take a backseat where it belongs!

The good news? Fourth of July grilling can be both incredibly tasty & super nutritious! Why settle for one with you can have both. Check out a few of my favorite simple meal ideas plus recipes from around the web:hummus-stuffed-strawberries-Healthy-4th-of-July-Recipes-Your-Family-will-LoveCelebrate the 4th - Healthy Recipes:

Lettuce Wrap Burger: Enjoy all the goodness of a burger, just lighten it up by skipping the bun. Either grab a fork & go at it or stuff it in a crunchy lettuce wrap. Choose toppings like tomato, pickles, caramelized onions, mustard & a touch of ketchup to add tons of flavors without too much extra unhealthy fat.

Lettuce Burger w/ Grilled Asparagus

Lettuce Burger w/ Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Romaine Salad: Cut a whole romaine lettuce heart in half & toss on the grill flat side down. Get a quick char & top with fresh parmesan cheese plus a light drizzle of healthy caesar, balsamic or favorite salad dressing for a fun twist on a summer salad.

Chunky Greek Salad: I love this cool salad during the hot summer month. It has tons of flavor & textures that always makes it a huge party hit. I chop up chunky cucumber, grape tomatoes, sliced red onion, chunky feta, kalamata olives & an olives oil dressing with red wine vinegar. Salt & pepper to taste & you are ready to serve.

7ebd6ce55a448349f966f13016e790e7

Fresh Fruit & Yogurt

Fresh Cut Fruit + Yogurt Dip: Everyone wants a sweet treat so if you are trying to skip the heavy desserts, this is for you. Choose whatever fruit is in season (berries are my favorite) & serve with a side of vanilla greek yogurt. I love making my own dip by using plain greek yogurt & adding fun mix ins such as peanut flour, vanilla/almond extract & cocoa powder.

Lightened Up Mojito: I have a weakness for a fruity summer cocktail, especially the delicious mint mojito. The way I enjoy a lighter version is muddling mint, raspberries & stevia. Then adding club soda & vodka for a flavorful mixed drink that is a MUCH better choice than the high calorie super sugary margarita. PS mixed drinks can be anywhere from 300-800 calories PER DRINK. Don't waste all your hard work on one beverage.

From the Web:

Potato Recipes:

- Potato Salad with Herbs & Summer Squash

- Quick & Easy Mustard Potato Salad

- Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges

- Southwestern Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad

Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad

Entree Ideas:

- Simple Grilled Lemon Chicken

- Chili Lime Turkey Burgers

- Grilled Balsamic Pork Chops

- Foil Packet Grilled Fish

(Greek Broccoli Salad - From Cookie & Kate)

(Greek Broccoli Salad - From Cookie & Kate)

Healthy Salads, Sides & Such:

- Greek 7 Layer Dip

- Strawberry & Avocado Spinach Salad

- Coleslaw with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

- Greek Broccoli Salad

Skinny Margarita (from Robb Wolf)

Skinny Margarita (from Robb Wolf)

Desserts & Beverages:

- Patriotic Parfait

- Grilled Peaches

- Norcal Margarita

- Lightened Up Mojito

Your turn! What's your favorite summer gathering dish?