Get Rid of the “Screw It” Mindset

This is the time of year when it’s easy to get into what I call the “screw it” mindset. With all the holidays coming up, it’s easy to just say, “Screw it. I’m just going to eat whatever I want and start eating healthier after the holidays.” Or ,”I’ll start my diet and workout plan on January 1.”

No. Don’t be that person. You’ve probably done that every year before and it hasn’t worked for you, right? What’s going to be different this time?

Having that mindset is one of the reasons you probably don’t have the results you want at this moment…because you’re always saying  you’ll start on Monday, or next month, or after this event, or that event. You’re waiting for the perfect conditions to start eating better…and that just ain’t gonna happen!

See, there are will always be holidays and vacations and parties. That’s life. There are always going to be things that can throw you off track with your healthy eating…but that’s NOT a reason to just throw in the towel and not even try.

The thing is, you don’t have to be PERFECT with your eating, just consistent. So you have a splurge and eat too much dessert one day-so what? Move on. Have a few too many drinks one weekend? So what? Move on.

Just because you had one bad meal or one bad day of eating, doesn’t mean you ruined your whole diet. It only becomes a problem when you develop the, “I’ll just start over on Monday” mindset and let things spiral out of control all weekend. You have to learn that you can have a “bad” meal and then just MOVE ON. It’s part of life. It happens.

There’s nothing magical about Monday. There’s nothing magical about January. So why not start with your next meal? Why not start right now? You are always one meal away from making a healthy choice!

Think about it this way: you have SEVEN days a week to eat healthy. If  you eat 3 meals a day, that’s 21 meals a week. Even if you have 7 meals a week that aren’t so healthy…that still leaves 14 meals where you CAN eat healthy, which is still 75% of the time, and that’s pretty darn good! Maybe that’s not “perfect”, but it’s better than 21 not healthy meals, right?

So let’s define eating “healthy” real quick. That may mean something different for everyone, but I think overall we can agree that eating fruits, vegetables, natural and minimally processed carbohydrates, and lean proteins is healthy. So if you’re eating those foods 75% of the time, it’s okay to have some “treats” and not so healthy foods mixed in there.

Nutrition doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be black or white. Find the middle ground. Find the balance. That is how healthy eating becomes a lifestyle, and how you’ll be able to finally lose the weight and keep it off. The people who have mastered the whole balance and moderation thing are the ones who don’t stress about the holidays and who stay in shape year round. They’re the ones who can be flexible and enjoy foods they love without totally falling off the wagon…because they realize that there is no “wagon”!

Meanwhile, the “Monday” people will always be the ones on and off a different diet. They will always be the ones yo-yo dieting, gaining and losing the same weight over and over again. You don’t want to be that person, right? Well, then get rid of the “screw it” mindset!

Yes, I know, it’s harder to eat healthy during the holidays. Yes, there will be more temptations, and yes, you probably will have more “splurges” during this time of the year. But remember, even if you give in to those temptations, even if you have a few extra “bad” meals than normal, that doesn’t mean that every single one of those 21 meals you eat in a week have to be unhealthy. Show some restraint and self control. Show that you care about your health enough to not eat like an idiot.

For those of you who really struggle during the holidays, here are some tips that might help you stay(mostly)on track:

*If you know you are going to an event or holiday party, eat mostly protein and vegetables earlier that day, every 3 hours. The worst thing you can do is to try to NOT eat that day. That way you won’t be starving when you get to the party and then just end up completely bingeing.

*Fill up your plate with protein first(turkey, ham, etc.), and then sample a little of everything else on your plate. That way you will feel satisfied but won’t be over doing it. Portion control is key. Also, limit yourself to ONE plate.

*If you want to drink alcohol, skip the dessert. And if you want dessert, skip the drinks. Remember, it’s all about balance. It’s all about give and take. Splurge a little here, cut back a little there. Practice some self control sometimes. You don’t ALWAYS have to eat the dessert!

*If you’re really struggling with eating healthy, then make it a goal to have at least ONE healthy meal a day. Pick what meal that will be, and be consistent with it. For example, maybe you decide that lunch every day will be your healthy meal-so each day you will eat a lean protein and a vegetable and fruit with that meal. Plan ahead and prepare it in advance for the next day. Focusing on at least ONE healthy behavior is better than nothing at all!

*Be consistent with your workouts. Make it a goal to do something every single day, even if it’s just a walk around the block! Or make it a goal to do a 15 minute workout 3 times a week. If you think 15 minutes isn’t enough, you’re wrong! You can do a lot in 15 minutes. And you don’t even need a gym. All you need is your bodyweight-squats, lunges, pushups, glute bridges…the list of things you can do at home is endless. Just google some home workouts and get MOVING! 

*Be okay with gaining a few pounds… and don’t obsess over the scale this time of year. Life is not about your weight or your body fat percentage. It’s the holidays. It’s okay to relax and enjoy yourself a little! It’s okay to enjoy your Grandma’s home-made mac and cheese. But a few pounds is NOT twenty pounds. Relaxing a little doesn’t mean stuffing your face with everything in sight. If you use the 75/25% rule when it comes to your nutrition, you’ll be okay.

*Use those extra calories you may be consuming as fuel for your workouts! No, it’s not about exercising to burn OFF those calories or to punish yourself for eating “bad”-it’s about using the extra calories to push yourself and lift heavy! This is a great time of the year to focus on your workouts and setting goals in the gym, like trying to do a certain number of pushups, your first pullups, or being able to squat your bodyweight. Take the focus away from the scale for a little bit and focus on what your body can DO. Taking a break from dieting is good to do every now and then anyways, and this is the perfect time of the year to do it! That doesn’t mean not eating healthy, it just means eating a little more.

So while you may not be able to eat perfect during the holidays, don’t use that as an excuse to eat like crap 24/7. If you get a flat tire you don’t say, “Screw it, I might as well slash all the others”, right? So why would you do that with your nutrition? Don’t make it harder on yourself come the New Year. If you can stay somewhat on track for these next two months, then while everyone is crash dieting in January trying to lose those 20-30 pounds they gained in November and December, you will be over here just doing the same thing you’ve been doing! Which person do you want to be?

Easy Low Carb Beef Stew

Since it’s getting cold here in Kentucky, it’s the time of year when I love to make soups and chili in the crockpot.

I made a super yummy and super EASY low carb beef stew over the weekend. You could jazz this up a bit and use your own seasonings, but I’m lazy, so I took the easy way out and used a seasoning packet. Ingredients:

1.5 lbs lean beef stew meat

1/2 packet pot roast seasoning(or your own seasonings)

Garlic and onion powder

Beef broth(just enough to cover meat)-use more for a more “soupy” consistency

Vegetables of choice( I used cauliflower and frozen green beans)

Directions:

Add all ingredients to crockpot except vegetables.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

Add vegetables for the last 2 hours. (I even added some canned corn to mine, and it was delicious!)

 

 

12 Fat Loss Tips

For sustainable fat loss, it’s important to take baby steps. You do NOT have to completely overhaul your entire diet in one day. In fact, you’re  most likely setting yourself up for failure if you try to change your eating habits in one day.

Instead, focus on a few habits that you can incorporate into your lifestyle, and let the results come slowly over time. You will have a much easier time maintaining your results that way and in making it a lifestyle change, rather than just another quick fix diet.

Here are some of my top tips to focus on if fat loss is your goal:

*Don’t snack mindlessly

Eat your structured meals and snacks, but eating between meals when you’re not even really hungry is a quick way for extra calories to add up.

*Fill up on protein and vegetables

Protein and vegetables will help you to feel fuller longer, and when fat loss is the goal, you’re going to need filling foods that are low in calories. Protein and veggies do the trick.

*Track your calories

You can only “guesstimate” how much you’re eating for so long. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and that nothing is working, but you’ve never tracked calories or macros, it’s a good time to start.

*Measure your food

This goes along with the previous tip. Portion control is key when it to fat loss. Most people have no clue what a serving of carbs or fats is and end up eating WAY more than they realize. Measuring or weighing out your food can help keep calories under control. You can even start by just using your hand as a guide!

*Cut carbs on rest days

This is an easy way to cut back on calories without completely eliminating carbs, which is not necessary. With carb cycling, you simply eat more carbs on workout days when your body needs them most. On rest days, cut back on the carbs and focus on protein, vegetables, and healthy sources of fat.

*Eat carbs mostly around workouts

When you do eat carbs, eat them before and after workouts, when you body most needs them to fuel your workouts. This is not to say that eating carbs at night or not around workouts will make you fat, just that the carbs will give you energy for your workouts and help to replenish glycogen stores after lifting.

*Make sleep a priority

Many people say they have tried “everything” to lose fat…but one thing they forget about working on is sleep habits. If you’re doing well with your nutrition and workouts, this could be the one thing holding you back.

*Cook your food and prepare meals ahead of time

Most anyone who has been successful at losing and maintaining fat loss has mastered “food prep”. If you are prepared and have healthy foods on hands, you’re much less likely to grab dinner out or choose something not so healthy. Plus, it just makes life a lot easier when you have your food ready to just pop in microwave!

*Don’t drink your calories(alchol, soft drinks, juice, and milk)

Liquid calories add up FAST! You will be much better off cutting out all liquid calories and drinking water, coffee, unsweetened tea, and the occasional diet soft drink if fat loss is your goal. Nix the juices and health drinks, and eat real food instead.

*Take breaks from dieting

You shouldn’t be dieting 24/7, 365. It’s good to take a break from eating in a deficit every now and then. That doesn’t mean you just stop eating healthy and start eating like crap-no, all it means is that you take a few weeks or months and slightly increase your calories.

*Focus on building muscle

This is where many women go wrong. They focus on cardio, cardio, cardio for fat loss, when the key to truly transforming your physique is lifting WEIGHTS. Don’t be scared to gain muscle. Muscle is good for you! Cardio will only make you a smaller version of yourself, while weight training will cause you to be leaner and more “toned”.

*Don’t be super restrictive.

Restriction leads to deprivation, which leads to cravings and bingeing. One thing to remember is that there are no “good” or “bad” foods-there are only foods you should eat more of, and foods you should eat less of. Yes, you should be eating healthy foods most of the time, but having treats here and there and eating foods you enjoy is the KEY to being able to sustain this lifestyle and keep the weight off.

It’s not realistic for most people to swear off all carbs and sugar FOREVER. When it comes to losing fat and keeping it off for the long run, you HAVE to find a nutrition plan that is sustainable. You HAVE to be flexible and balanced, otherwise you will spend your live on the unending dieting hamster wheel. Diets that eliminate entire food groups only work for the short term, and more often than not, you end up gaining back what you lost and more when you quit them.

Remember: nutrition and exercise should make your life BETTER, not make you miserable. 6 pack abs aren’t worth missing out on life. Reaching a certain weight on the scale is not worth sacrificing your mental health and well being.

*Don’t snack mindlessly

Eat your structured meals and snacks, but eating between meals when you’re not even really hungry is a quick way for extra calories to add up.

*Fill up on protein and vegetables

Protein and vegetables will help you to feel fuller longer, and when fat loss is the goal, you’re going to need filling foods that are low in calories. Protein and veggies do the trick.

*Track your calories

You can only “guesstimate” how much you’re eating for so long. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and that nothing is working, but you’ve never tracked calories or macros, it’s a good time to start.

*Measure your food

This goes along with the previous tip. Portion control is key when it to fat loss. Most people have no clue what a serving of carbs or fats is and end up eating WAY more than they realize. Measuring or weighing out your food can help keep calories under control. You can even start by just using your hand as a guide!

*Cut carbs on rest days

This is an easy way to cut back on calories without completely eliminating carbs, which is not necessary. With carb cycling, you simply eat more carbs on workout days when your body needs them most. On rest days, cut back on the carbs and focus on protein, vegetables, and healthy sources of fat.

*Eat carbs mostly around workouts

When you do eat carbs, eat them before and after workouts, when you body most needs them to fuel your workouts. This is not to say that eating carbs at night or not around workouts will make you fat, just that the carbs will give you energy for your workouts and help to replenish glycogen stores after lifting.

*Make sleep a priority

Many people say they have tried “everything” to lose fat…but one thing they forget about working on is sleep habits. If you’re doing well with your nutrition and workouts, this could be the one thing holding you back.

*Cook your food and prepare meals ahead of time

Most anyone who has been successful at losing and maintaining fat loss has mastered “food prep”. If you are prepared and have healthy foods on hands, you’re much less likely to grab dinner out or choose something not so healthy. Plus, it just makes life a lot easier when you have your food ready to just pop in microwave!

*Don’t drink your calories(alchol, soft drinks, juice, and milk)

Liquid calories add up FAST! You will be much better off cutting out all liquid calories and drinking water, coffee, unsweetened tea, and the occasional diet soft drink if fat loss is your goal. Nix the juices and health drinks, and eat real food instead.

*Take breaks from dieting

You shouldn’t be dieting 24/7, 365. It’s good to take a break from eating in a deficit every now and then. That doesn’t mean you just stop eating healthy and start eating like crap-no, all it means is that you take a few weeks or months and slightly increase your calories.

*Focus on building muscle

This is where many women go wrong. They focus on cardio, cardio, cardio for fat loss, when the key to truly transforming your physique is lifting WEIGHTS. Don’t be scared to gain muscle. Muscle is good for you! Cardio will only make you a smaller version of yourself, while weight training will cause you to be leaner and more “toned”.

*Don’t be super restrictive.

Restriction leads to deprivation, which leads to cravings and bingeing. One thing to remember is that there are no “good” or “bad” foods-there are only foods you should eat more of, and foods you should eat less of. Yes, you should be eating healthy foods most of the time, but having treats here and there and eating foods you enjoy is the KEY to being able to sustain this lifestyle and keep the weight off.

It’s not realistic for most people to swear off all carbs and sugar FOREVER. When it comes to losing fat and keeping it off for the long run, you HAVE to find a nutrition plan that is sustainable. You HAVE to be flexible and balanced, otherwise you will spend your live on the unending dieting hamster wheel. Diets that eliminate entire food groups only work for the short term, and more often than not, you end up gaining back what you lost and more when you quit them.

Remember: nutrition and exercise should make your life BETTER, not make you miserable. 6 pack abs aren’t worth missing out on life. Reaching a certain weight on the scale is not worth sacrificing your mental health and well being.

Five Exercises to do Daily

If you want to be strong, move well and prevent injuries, you need to be mobile in certain areas and have strength and stability in others. Neglecting the smaller muscle groups and stabilizers and/or not doing mobility work will only lead to trouble in the long run.

Mobility is the one thing many people tend to slack on. When planning your workouts, you should take this into consideration by adding in some mobility exercises into your warm-up, or between exercises as fillers and also focus on strengthening the smaller muscle groups that tend to be weak and neglected. For most people, it’s hips and shoulders that need mobility and glutes, rear deltoids and rotator muscles that need to be strengthened.

Here are five exercises that can be done on a daily basis, either in your warm-ups before lifting, or as a circuit on a rest day. These are not the most fun or exciting movements, but doing these simple exercises daily can make a big difference in the long run.

Spiderman stretch w/reach

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgVLcgUO1h4

This is a great dynamic movement for hip mobility. It stretches the hip flexors, hamstrings, and addductors (inner thigh muscles). Make sure you bring your foot up to the OUTSIDE of your arm and hold for a second in the top position, while reaching for the ceiling with the inside arm. Do 3 sets of 5-8 on each side.

Glute bridge

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwNP1Ure28Q

Most people also have weak glutes and tight hip flexors from sitting too much, and even if you don’t, doing some glute activation exercises throughout the day definitely won’t hurt you. Plus, having strong glutes can prevent back pain, and you also get the benefit of stretching the hip flexors at the same time.

As you do these, make sure to keep you core tight, ribs down, don’t arch the lower back, and squeeze those glutes hard. Pause a second or two at the top position. Aim for 2-3 sets of 15 reps. You can also do single leg bridges or glute marches for more of a challenge.

Deep squat hold

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK-Xn1JFeAw

Sitting in a deep squat position is great for stretching the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors. You can also add in a reach to improve thoracic(upper spine) mobility. Make sure to keep the chest up and heels down on the ground. You also want to try to push the knees apart with your elbows. If you can’t get into a deep squat position yet, you can hold on to something to help you. Hold in this position for 30-60 seconds, or even longer if you can!

Pull-aparts/wall slides/prone Ts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lQdu_U4AAI

Most people spend too much time hunched over a computer screen or phone all day, which often leads to tight pecs and shoulders along with weak back and rear delt muscles. This can eventually lead to rounded shoulders, forward head posture, and the “hunchback” appearance.

Doing pull-aparts with a band will strengthen your traps, rhomboids, and rear delts for strong, bullet-proof shoulders, which is important to prevent injures and improve posture. Make sure not to speed through these. Keep your ribs down and try to keep the shoulder blades protracted. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps throughout the day.

If you don’t have a band, wall slides are great for strengthening the lower and mid traps and improving scapular mobility, all of which keep the shoulders healthy. Make sure to keep the hands and forearms against the wall and keep the ribs locked down. Do 2-3 sets of 8-10.

Prone Ts are another great exercise to do daily for the scapula stabilizers and rotator cuff muscles. Hold for 3 seconds at the top, and aim for 10-15 repetitions.

Thoracic Extension Rotations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2zv526I7M8

These are great for people who sit hunched over at a desk all day, or for anyone with rounded shoulders. Poor thoracic(upper spine) mobility can lead to neck, back, and shoulder pain. Do 2 sets of 8-10 each side. Make sure the movement is only coming from the upper back, not the lower back!

My Favorite Protein Powder Concoctions

I eat a lot of protein. I usually get 20-30 grams at every meal and snack, and I eat 5-6 times a day, so that’s around 150-180 grams of protein. I probably don’t even need that much…but what can I say? I like protein!

My protein sources consist of eggs, ground turkey or beef, chicken, and cottage cheese or Greek yogurt every day. You should be getting most of your protein from real food sources, and you do not NEED to use a protein powder.

With that being said, for me personally, I really look forward to my yummy protein powder concoctions. They satisfy my sweet cravings and help me get in protein without eating more meat…because sometimes that gets old. I’m not about to eat chicken 2 or 3 times a day because that be cray cray.

So that is why I love me some whey protein powder. Protein shakes are great-BUT-I rarely actually just drink my protein!

Here are some of my favorite ways to use whey protein:

Protein oats

I have this for breakfast every single day! It’s delicious.

Ingredients-

1 scoop chocolate whey protein

1/2 cup-1 cup Old fashioned oats

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Water

Cook the oats in water for 90 seconds. Stir in the peanut butter. Add the protein and stir until incorporated, adding more water a little at a time to reach desired consistency. Be careful with the water-you do NOT want to ruin it my making it too runny! You can also add in bananas or blueberries if your calories allow for it. So yummy!

Overnight Oats

These are basically the same indgredients as the above protein oats, but they are just made a little differently and eaten cold, not warm. These are great for when you literally want something that is grab and go in the morning that involves no preparing or cooking.

Ingredients-

1 scoop whey protein

1/2 cup-1 cup Old fashioned oats

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1-2 tsp sugar free/fat free pudding(optional)

Cinnamon(optional)

Water

Combine the oats, protein, pudding, and peanut butter in a bowl or tupperware container. Add water a little at a time and mix until all ingredients are incorporated and it becomes a pudding-like consistency(make sure it’s not TOO watery!). Cover the container and put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning it’s ready to eat!

Protein pudding/”Sludge”

I have this as my bedtime snack on rest days, usually three times a week. It’s the best. thing. ever. Just don’t use casein protein because it will NOT have the same consistency. I  use NitroTech Nighttime by MuscleTech, and it’s amazing.

Ingredients-

1-2 scoops whey protein

1-2 tablespoons peanut butter(could also use powdered, but I want the real thang!)

Water

Put the scoop of protein in a bowl, add the peanut butter, and slowly add a little water until it becomes a pudding like consistency. Put in the fridge or freezer to thicken up. I like to put mine in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. It is the best EVER. I have mine with a caramel rice cake and MORE peanut butter on the side. Because peanut butter is life.

Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are so refreshing after a workout, especially in the summertime!

Ingredients-

1/2 banana

1/4 cup-1/2 cup blueberries

1/4 cup -1/2 cup pineapple

1 scoop vanilla whey protein

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Couple of handfuls of spinach

A few ice cubes

(Feel free to play around with different fruit combinations-sometimes I just do banana and pineapple or sometimes just pineapple and blueberries or just banana and blueberries. I’ve found I’m not a big fan of strawberries in my smoothies, so I stick with those three fruit combinations.)

I usually add my milk and then the protein powder and blend, then add the fruits and spinach. To make it even thicker, use frozen banana! It’s even more fun to eat it out of a bowl like ice cream. 🙂

Protein Fudge Pops

Ingredients-

1 cup water or unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop chocolate whey protein

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

Blend all ingredients )I use a magic bullet) and pour into silicone muffin cups OR a popsicle mold. Freeze for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy your sweet treat!

My Journey To Food & Body Freedom

Fitness has been a part of my life since I was 13 years old when I picked up my first set of dumbbells. I fell in love with the weights, but nutrition wasn’t something that I started working on until I was about 18. I took some nutrition classes in college, and that was when I began to focus on eating healthier(no more McDonald’s and Skittles every day!).

I ate pretty healthy from then on for the most part, but I didn’t restrict or watch calories or care about how many carbs I was eating. I didn’t know what the heck a macro even was! I was in a really good place with my food and my body image. I freely ate what I wanted to as long as it was healthy with absolutely no restrictions. I definitely just ate intuitively at that point, but I was becoming more conscious of trying to eat more protein and vegetables. I enjoyed working out and building muscle, but I felt good about my body and didn’t obsess over my abs(or lack thereof). I didn’t diet or restrict any food group at all at that point.

But then one day I decided I wanted a 6 pack. Even though I had been working out for years and was never overweight, I was never lean enough in my midsection to have visible abs, so it was a goal that I thought would be really cool to achieve. And that was when the food obsession began.

I really had no clue how to get a 6 pack or how to go about losing fat, so of course I consulted the place that has all the answers-the internet. More specifically, sites like bodybuilding.com.I began searching for how to eat to lose fat and get a 6 pack, and of course back then I was so ignorant of nutrition that I believed everything I read.

That’s when the food restrictions began. I started eating only “clean” foods and cut back on carbs. There were certain rules I would follow, one being that I could only eat carbs early in the day but not at night. If foods had multiple ingredients, they were “bad” for me, and so I started fearing all these foods I used to eat but wasn’t “allowed” to anymore. I was constantly thinking about food and what I “could” or “couldn’t” have, or what was good or bad for me, and making sure that I didn’t eat too many carbs or whatnot for the day. All junk foods were eliminated except for a cheat meal on the weekend, where I would completely gorge myself with all the foods I restricted myself from during the week.

Then someone introduced me to macros. I had never tracked my calories at all before, but I decided that I would start. I actually wanted to do this to make sure that I was eating ENOUGH, as my goal was to build muscle. Tracking macros was definitely eye opening for me and taught me a lot. It was actually really good in the sense that it helped me to be free of the strict “clean” eating mindset. I began to understand how you could really eat anything as long as you stayed within your macros, so I stopped fearing certain foods and food groups.

At that point, I re-introduced many things that I had taken out of my diet previously and also increased my carbs, which I had been scared of for so long. I no longer felt guilt about eating anything. I started eating cereal for my post workout meal, and an oreo or two after dinner at night, and it was amazing! I realized that there are no foods that will make you fat as I had previously believed, which took away all the food guilt I had associated with certain things. It was so freeing.

Eventually, however, it came to the point where I just didn’t want to be a slave to a food scale or logging into myfitness pal all the time to see what I could eat for the day. I realized that even tracking macros, as freeing as it was, could also become obsessive, and I just wanted to be free of all the stressing about food in any and all ways. I felt that not tracking was the way to full freedom from food obsession.

It was a little scary to stop tracking at first, but since then I haven’t tracked at all, and it’s great. I have a good understanding of portions and calories and all that now, and I know how much I need to eat, so I really see no reason why I would ever need to track again. It was very helpful, but not a forever thing for me.

During this time, my mindset about fitness and health and body image was changing. Or, I should say, God was changing my mindset. I began to see that fitness and food had consumed my life to the point where it was of more importance to me than my relationship with God. It’s not something that I did purposely, as is usually the case when our relationship with God gets pushed to the backburner, but it just happened. It was all I thought about and read about. I spent more time thinking about food and workouts and planning workouts and working out than I spent with God, reading and studying His Word.

Since then, I’ve come to realize how the striving and chasing and obsessing over our bodies and food is really not what matters in life. When I’m consumed by these things, even things that are good like eating healthy and working out, I can’t fully commit myself to fulfilling God’s purposes for my life. When my mind is filled with these thoughts of food and workouts all the time, I’m not able to hear God’s voice.

I now have a more eternal mindset, and I want my identity and fulfillment to be in God alone. I want to focus on the things that matter to Him-not waste my life nitpicking and obsessing over food and my body, wasting it on something that God doesn’t even look at(outer appearance)! I don’t want to be a slave to my body, to food, to working out, to anything. Having this mindset has made all the difference. I’m in a good place now with my nutrition and workouts. I’m not obsessive about it like I once was, because I realize that there are more important things in life to focus on, like helping others and spreading the Gospel and just enjoying life!

One thing that really helped was no longer following most fitness competitors(as I’ve realized many of them have disordered eating and body image issues) or even health bloggers. I follow people now who promote balance, a healthy relationship with food, and a positive body image. I think it’s awesome that there are people out there promoting the message that you don’t have to HATE yourself or live in fear of food.

My relationship with food has improved SO much over the years. I don’t fear carbs or processed foods, or any food for that matter. I really enjoy all my meals and am eating foods I love, not choking down foods I hate. I don’t feel like there’s any food I “can’t” eat. I don’t freak out if I can’t eat “on plan”. I can relax and not stress about food on vacations or when eating out at a restaurant. I don’t have to track every ounce of food I eat or worry about going over my fat or carb grams for the day. I don’t restrict or try to “work off” something I ate if I feel like I’ve overindulged. I try to get in my veggies and nutrients, but it’s not a source of stress or anxiety for me anymore. I know that as long as I’m not eating junk food all the time and I’m exercising consistently, that I don’t have to be perfect or stress about being healthy. I do the best I can, but I’m not gonna let the pursuit of health limit my quality of life like it used to.

Just like with food, my body image has gotten better as well. I no longer take comparison pictures all the time or critique my body in the mirror. I can go a whole day without even thinking about how my body looks. Yeah, of course I still take mirror and flexing selfies, but now it’s out of a place of love and appreciation for my body, not to see what I need to “fix”. Those days are over! My hope is that if this is something you are struggling with, they can be over for you, too.

Leaner Is Not Always Better

Is leaner always better?

The fitness world would make you think so.

Scroll through Instagram on Tuesdays for all the transformation Tuesday photos and you sure would think so.

According to Instagram before and after photos, you can’t be happy with a little extra body fat. You should have 6 pack abs. You should constantly pick yourself apart and hate your “flaws” and strive for the perfect body. You can’t be”fit” unless you don’t have an ounce of bodyfat, right? 6 pack abs are always the ultimate goal. Because leaner is ALWAYS better, right?

Well, I’m here to tell you, NO-sometimes leaner is NOT better.

What do I mean by that? Well, let me first say, there is nothing wrong with physical transformations, or losing weight, or fat loss. Getting leaner for many people is great when it comes as a result of changing your lifestyle from one that was unhealthy to a healthier way of living. I’m ALL for that. 

But what about when you’re already healthy, as in you lift weights and do some sort of exercise most days of the week, and you eat your veggies and lean proteins and drink your water and all that good stuff? Is getting leaner always the ultimate goal? Is it ALWAYS a good thing? I don’t think so.

Sometimes leaner is better. Until it’s not. 

Leaner is not better when it distorts your body image.

It is not better when it leads to restriction and hours and hours of cardio, or pushing your body to exhaustion every single day.

It is not better when your health suffers as a consequence(as in losing your period, for one thing).

It is not better when it leads to your energy and strength suffering as a result.

It is not better when working out and nutrition consumes your entire life.

It is not better when exercise becomes more of a a chore or a punishment than something enjoyable and fun.

It is not better when it interferes with your relationships or your ability to relax and enjoy life.

It is not better when it makes you fear foods and think you “can’t” eat certain things.

It is not better when your body becomes the only thing that defines you and what brings you your happiness.

Sometimes the best transformations are the ones that are mental, not physical. Sometimes, gaining some body fat is better than getting leaner. 

Don’t ever sacrifice your health, mental OR physical, constantly chasing after leanness. No matter what the Instagram fitness models say, you do NOT need 6 pack abs or less body fat or smaller thighs to be beautiful or attractive or fit. Remember, the fitness industry is NOT the health industry.

 

Health, not leanness, should be the ultimate goal. If you are healthy (meaning you eat mostly healthy foods and exercise consistently), then you don’t always have to be chasing leanness! If you have been, and you’re driving yourself crazy, take a break from it. Change your mindset. Relax a little. Change your priorities. Doing so doesn’t mean that you’re lazy or not dedicated. It doesn’t mean that you’re not fit or strong or healthy. It actually may lead to being stronger and fitter and healthier!


I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with being content and satisfied(even happy, maybe?!?!) with your body as it is RIGHT NOW. Because you know what? Our bodies are amazing. They can do so much for us, and they should be treated with love and respect, not broken down and starved and deprived of what they need to function and thrive. It’s okay to want to improve your body and to be the best that you can be, but not when it’s at the expense of your health or mental well being.

In a society where women are supposed to hate themselves and their bodies unless they fit the “perfect” ideal(whatever that is), be a rebel and be a woman who is confident, a woman who loves her body regardless of what body fat percentage or scale weight she is. We need more women like that.

Eat To Fuel Your Workouts

Your whole mindset about food changes when you view it as “fuel” for you workouts rather than the enemy.

Many people, women especially, are scared of food-scared to eat “too much”, or scared to eat certain food groups, such as carbs. Which is why often times I find that many women are not eating enough, or just not enough of the right foods.

OR they are restricting themselves and eating very little during the day or throughout the week, only to binge and eat like crap at night or the whole weekend. NOT a great way to get results or have a good relationship with food.

Food is NOT the enemy. If you are active, and especially if you are lifting weights, you need to view food as FUEL.

What many people fail to realize is that what you eat the night before and the morning of can have a huge affect on your workout. It can be the difference between having a great workout and feeling strong, or having a crappy workout.  If you didn’t eat enough calories or enough carbs the day before, then you’re probably not going to have the energy to push hard or to lift heavy. On the other hand, if you ate too much junk food, then you may feel tired and sluggish the next day.

Case in point: I had a client the other day who was really struggling to get through the metabolic circuit portion of her workout after her strength exercises. Come to find out, she hadn’t eaten anything that whole day. Noooo bueno. Needless to say, she learned her lesson.

Now, let me make this clear: I am a firm believer that the food you eat absolutely should taste good! By saying that food is fuel, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t also enjoy it, because you should. But… if you are lifting weights, trying to build muscle and/or transform your physique-the way you eat is about more than just satisfying your taste buds. It’s about eating to support your goals. 

If you want to build muscle, you have to eat slightly more calories than you burn. You have to be eating the right things(namely, protein and carbs) before and after your workouts so that you can push hard in the gym and lift heavy and to rebuild the muscles that you’ve broken down during your workout. You can’t eat like a bird and expect to build muscle.

Similarly, if your goal is to just get really strong, then you have to eat enough, especially before your workouts, so that your muscles have the energy and endurance they need to lift heavy weights. Believe me, you’re gonna have a real hard time getting stronger or setting a personal record if you are not properly “fueled” on a heavy lifting day.

Even if your goal is fat loss, you still need to be strategic in how you eat around your workouts in order to prevent muscle loss as you diet, as well as to give you energy to get through your workouts, especially if you are lifting or doing high intensity interval training.

When you view food as fuel-that is, as something that provides you with nutrients and gives you energy, strength and endurance for your workouts-it totally changes the way you eat. Instead of viewing food as the enemy or restricting it just to lose weight or to get skinny, you start to see it as a good thing. You see it as your friend and NOT your enemy, because you know that if used the right way, it is something that can actually help you by enhancing your workouts and helping you to gain muscle and strength.

Having the mindset that food is only for pleasure or that it’s “evil” are both wrong ways to view food. While you shouldn’t give in to every craving for junk food any time it hits, you also shouldn’t be miserable eating foods you don’t enjoy, or denying yourself the calories that your body needs to thrive and function.

We could all learn a little something from athletes, powerlifters, and bodybuilders-they understand the power of food and how it can support their goals and either hinder or enhance their athletic performance and/or muscle building capabilities. And just because you aren’t an athlete, powerlifter, or bodybuilder doesn’t mean that food isn’t just as important in supporting your goals and fueling your workouts.

Let food work for you, not against you!

30 Things That Are Cooler Than 6 Pack Abs

Abs are pretty cool and all, yeah…but you know what’s even cooler? Well, I can think of lots of things. 30 things, in fact:

1)Having a healthy relationship with food
2)Deadlifting twice your bodyweight

3)Cheeseburgers🍔
4)Making memories with friends and family
5)Having energy
6)Donuts

7)Strong bones
8)A healthy metabolism
9)Doing things for others
10)Pizza 🍕

11)Healthy skin, hair, and nails
12)Not stressing about food 24/7
13)Booty gains
14)A big bowl of cereal 
15)No food guilt
16)Being able to go to social functions without anxiety about food
17)Bench pressing your bodyweight for reps
18)Ice cream on a hot Summer day

19)Being about to travel and eat out at restaurants without stressing 
20)Eating cake on your birthday🎂
21)Not being cold all the time
22)Banging out a set of pullups with added weight

23)Not eating cold fish out of Tupperware containers.
24)Eating peanut butter straight from the jar.
25)Not being defined by how you look.
26)Drinking a Pina Colada poolside.

27)Not having to do an “ab check” every morning to feel good about yourself.
28)Having a life and hobbies outside of the gym.
29)Not being a slave to the food scale.
30)Did I mention donuts? 🍩 🍩 🍩 

These Photos Show That Scale Weight Means Nothing

There are still far too many women out there who are obsessed with the number on the scale. What I wish they would understand is that number actually  means nothing! What does that number even tell you? If you look and feel good, then why does it really matter what you weigh?

Being tied up on a number on the scale is only going to leave you frustrated and discouraged and will actually hinder your results.

Weight loss is completely different than fat loss. When fat loss is the goal, it’s about maintaining and building as much muscle as possible while losing body fat, which is called body recomposition. Basically, the focus is not on necessarily losing scale weight, but on changing the way your body looks by decreasing the fat and building muscle. Once you get this concept, everything changes. You will finally realize that obsessing over a number on a scale is pointless.

That’s why it’s so important to have other ways to track progress besides the scale. Because if you build muscle and lose fat but the scale stays the same, you may think you’ve made no progress, when you actually HAVE! Taking pictures and measurements can be a much better way to track progress than just relying on the scale.

These photos speak for themselves:

As you can see, the number on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t tell you if you’ve lost fat and built muscle. It also doesn’t tell you if you’re stronger or fitter or leaner or healthier.

So instead of just obsessing over your body weight, focus on the things that the scale CAN’T tell you. There are many other ways to measure progress and things you can focus on that are much more important than a number on the scale.  Things like:

-How your clothes fit
-Gaining muscle
-Getting stronger
-Progress photos
-Setting performance goals in the gym(being able to do a certain number of pushups, for example)
-Increased energy and stamina
-Eating healthier foods
-Better health(lower cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.)

The scale CAN sometimes be a useful tool, but it’s not the end all, be all. Don’t let a number on a scale have power over you.