The 5 Biggest Myths About Health & Fitness | STOP THE NONSENSE PEOPLE!

If you'd rather listen to this blog post on my podcast, check it out here!

There are a lot of things in the health and fitness industry that make my eyes roll back into my head.

As a kid, my mom always told me that if I rolled my eyes, they'd get stuck there. GOOD THING THAT AIN'T THE CASE because I've probably rolled my eyes about 59,239,321 times since becoming a fitness professional. 

From the myth that women shouldn't lift weights because it makes them 'bulky,' to the concept of eating less and moving more = results.... laaaaawd. If I had a dollar for every B.S. claim I heard, I'd be lying on beach on my private island in Bimini right now with a butler handing me kombucha on tap.

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Realistically though, as an average Jane, it's hard to decipher what's actually true and what's lie.

I've mentioned this a bunch before, but the fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is built off of marketing. That means that industry professionals will dig deep to find out what you're insecure about, use that against you by making you think you're not good enough, and try to sell you their products.

Just to shed light on an example: If you've ever been told, "BUY THIS CELLULITE CREAM AND GET RID OF IT IN 5 DAYS!!!" This literally translates to: you have cellulite. therefore, there is something wrong with you. therefore, you are unworthy or unlovable. therefore, buy my cellulite cream so that you can get rid of that 'problem' and become 'hotter' because hot=worth, cellulite=not hot=not worthy. Obviously it sounds ridiculous when you spell it out like that, but this is essentially what they're getting at with their marketing. IT MAKES ME WANT TO PUKE. 

And while I could rant and rave about the problems in the fitness and health industries, and the lies that we've ALL been sold on (that I fell victim to as well for YEARS before I knew better)... I'm not down to be part of the problem.

I'm here to be part of the solution, which is why I want to share these fitness and health myths with you today!

The 5 Biggest Myths About Health & Fitness You Should STOP Believing ASAP

1. Lifting weights will make you bulky.

Lawd Jesus someone get me a soapbox for this one. 

For the first 3 years that I started working out, I would ONLY do cardio. This meant that for an hour every day, I'd spend my time be-boppin around on the elliptical. 

At the time, my main goal was weight loss (I had just gained the freshman 15 - which I explain in my fitness journey podcast), so I figured more cardio = weigh less. And while yes, I did lose weight going on the elliptical, I pretty much looked the same. Just 10 pounds lighter. 

And while that's all fine and dandy, I still didn't 'look' how I intended to look when I set out to reach my fitness goals: lean and toned. Because I was ONLY doing cardio, I had no muscle definition. And frankly, I got really bored, really fast (you can only spend so many hours on the same elliptical machine, am I right?)

So I knew I needed to do something different. Enter: strength training.

Not only did lifting weights give me that 'toned' and defined look I was looking for, I actually felt myself getting STRONGER. I talk in this video about how strength training saved my life, and gave me confidence in ways I didn't even know existed. It helped me heal from sexual abuse, my parent's divorce, and so much more — things I didn't even know I was holding resentment towards.

It gave me a tangible goal to work towards that wasn't related to my weight. I was super excited to go to the gym every day to try to improve upon what I did the day before. It gave me confidence in the way I looked. But most importantly: it allowed me to carry that confidence and strength I found by lifting weights into every area of my life — my relationships, my career, my self worth. 

I felt confident standing up for myself and what I wanted. I no longer settled for 'average' when it came to dating guys. I asked for a raise at work because I finally understood my worth.

ALL of this because I started lifting weights. (and it also led me down this career path so #winwin)

So no, you will not get bulky if you lift weights. What you WILL gain is confidence, courage, strength and acceptance of your body for what it does for you rather than how it looks.

 Left: only doing cardio every day; right: doing a mix of lifting weights + high intensity cardio a few times per week

Left: only doing cardio every day; right: doing a mix of lifting weights + high intensity cardio a few times per week

And, scientifically speaking, the more muscle mass you have on your body, the more calories you burn at rest. This means your metabolism speeds up when you have more muscle (more food, woo!) AND, if you do a high intensity weightlifting session like the ones laid out in my EMPOWER Challenge starting June 4, you'll keep burning calories for 24-48 hours, versus just doing cardio, where you STOP burning calories the minute you step off the treadmill or elliptical.

2. You can outwork a bad diet, as long as you train hard enough.

This one breaks my heart a little bit, but it's true: you can't outwork a bad diet.

And not even necessarily a 'bad' diet, but if you're consuming more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight — even if those calories are coming from avocados and oatmeal. 

Now, this doesn't mean you need to be glued to your phone and tracking every morsel of food in order to reach your goals. In fact, I've done that before and my results were NO better than when I was intuitive eating with light structure (my #GPF formula).

Unless you're an olympic level athlete who trains for 8+ hours per day, you probably WILL need to be mindful of the types of food you eat and your portion sizes. Most of us sit at a desk for work all day, and don't need nearly as many calories as we think we do. We eat for ALL types of reasons other than hunger throughout the day: boredom, tiredness, anxiety, depression. And even if you're in the gym 1-2 hours per day, you won't be able to 'burn off' all the extra calories or poor food choices. 

It's true that in order to get down to certain levels of leanness or if you're an athlete, you may need to start tracking your intake to get results (I talk about this in this blog post), but for the average person, you can focus on the following:

Most of your calories should come from whole food sources. When you do indulge, watch your portion sizes and be discerning about what you choose to indulge in (i.e. opting for Grandma's pie that you only eat once per year vs. mindlessly picking at stale chocolate chip cookies in the break room that show up every other day). Eat when you're genuinely hungry, stop when you're about 80% full. Drink a lot of water.

Most people tend to overcomplicate things when it comes to nutrition, but if you truly follow those principles, you could easily reach your goals with little to no stress or drama surrounding food.

3. You NEED supplements to get results. 

As I mentioned in the intro, the fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. A lot of that money comes from supplements — meaning companies will try to make you believe that you need their products in order to get results. 

If you're eating as I explained in point #2, you will not need supplements to get results.

Supplements are just that — they SUPPLEMENT an already good diet and training routine. 

If you're eating cheetos and french fries at every meal and expect to take a fat burner to lose weight... ain't happenin sista. For the record: I don't recommend fat burners in any situation, actually.

So, what WILL get you results if it's not supplements? Proper nutrition. Hard work in the gym. Plenty of sleep. 

Now: I will say, there is nothing wrong with some supplements if you're truly deficient in something and it's recommended by a doctor. For example, I take a multi-vitamin in order to cover what my diet doesn't, I take probiotics for my gut health, and I take magnesium to aid in muscle repair and better sleep quality. I also use protein powder for my delish #GPF smoothie, but not because I NEED it, just because I like the way it tastes + it adds protein to my smoothies!

If you have any questions about specific supplements, feel free to ask me. 

4. You HAVE to do a certain type of workout to get the best results.

The best type of workout is the one you're going to stick with: period. end of story.

Sure, there are more efficient ways to work out based on your desired result. For example, you won't look like a Crossfitter if all you do is run. And you won't necessarily get more flexible if all you're doing is weightlifting and avoiding any type of stretching/yoga.

Everyone has their opinion on what the 'best workout' is... but truly: it's the one you're going to stick with, day in and day out, over a long period of time.

That doesn't mean you won't ebb and flow into different styles of training during different seasons of your life. But overall, the more consistent you are with one style of training, the better your results will be.

In order to figure out what the best type of workout for you is, I encourage you to try new things! Some people love Crossfit, some love yoga, some love Orange Theory, some love weightlifting. I personally love a combo of lifting weights, mobility/stretching/yoga, and cardio (running, HIIT, etc.) 

If you're interested in more of my fave workouts, check out our EMPOWER Challenge starting June 4!

5. Eat less, move more.

When I first started getting into fitness, I lived by the philosophy "eat less, move more."

I thought that the less I ate and the more I worked out, that would guarantee my results and I'd look fabulous.

But what REALLY ended up happening was I felt weak, I passed out at work once from low blood sugar, I lost my period for a year, and I was deficient in so many vitamins and nutrients that my hair started falling out. Fun, huh? 

Now I live by the philosophy: LESS IS MORE. Less time in the gym, with higher quality work, is key to getting the results you want without burning yourself out. 

THANK GOD, because this means you don't have to spend hours and hours in the gym to get results — you just have to use your time in the gym efficiently. (Read: How to Get a Better Workout in LESS Time at the Gym)

6. BONUS! You have to either be ON the wagon or off, there is no in between. 

I know I said I was going to talk about the 5 biggest myths about health and fitness, but I JUST KEEP THINKING OF MORE BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY! But really, this is the last one and it's super important. 

I learned long ago that the all-or-nothing approach to fitness and nutrition doesn't work. 

When I was first starting out, I was either eating chicken and broccoli all day, or eating pizza + donuts + ice cream all day for fear of going back on my 'diet' the following day. There was no in between.

There was also a time where I was glued to my phone, counting every calorie I put into my mouth. I even remember a time where an ex-boyfriend gave me an Oreo, I told him I'd take it 'to go' and threw it out the window of my car on the way home because I was too scared to go 'over my calories.' (Even though I knew I'd end up bingeing on 203585x more that night because I was legitimately starving myself... but that one Oreo mattered, right?)

Now I understand that I CAN have that one Oreo and get right back on track. I don't have to wait until tomorrow, or Monday. I don't have to have a free for all, eating all the things for fear that I won't ever be able to eat them again.

I now live in an abundance mindset around food: there's always more where that came from. I'll have the opportunity to eat ice cream again tomorrow if I want, so I don't need to eat it all right now. Most times, I can have a scoop, move on with my day, and eat healthy using my autocorrect tools at the very next meal.

So, please don't feel like you need to be ON or OFF. There is a middle ground, and it's a beautiful place to live. Moderation isn't sexy, but it sure as hell is effective. 

I hope you found this article helpful! These are a few things I WISH I would've known when I started working out and eating healthy. I would've saved myself years of trouble... but hey, that's why I'm here to help you avoid making the mistakes I did!

Let me know: what's the biggest myth YOU'VE busted in your health & fitness journey? Or what's something you've heard a billion times, but you're not sure if it's a myth or the real deal? Comment below!

And if you want to learn about ALL of these topics + more while transforming your body and mindset, join my 6-week EMPOWER Challenge. We start Monday, June 4! Prices go up every Sunday until the Challenge starts so if you love a good deal, get in there sista!!

xo

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OOPS! What to Do When You Overeat

So it's 9 pm. You just got home from work after a 12 hour day. You're exhausted. You didn't have time to go grocery shopping or make food.

So you pour yourself a bowl of cereal.

As you let the stresses of the day fade away, one bowl becomes two. Then it becomes three because there's milk left in the bowl and you can't just let it go to waste so naturally you have to add more cereal (anyone else do this?! #guilty)

And before you know it.... the box is empty.

We've all been there, right?

Full transparency: I was the one stress eating honey nut Cheerios bowl after bowl in my kitchen tonight :) hehe I am human, too.

Whether you're plugging away at work and mindlessly eating out of a bag of almonds, or stress eating ice cream and Cheerios while crying about your day at work... we've all overeaten at some point.

And sometimes, we overeat and feel damn good about it! (Ain't nothin wrong with a little chips + guac + margaritas with friends)

But most of the time... overeating - especially when we set fitness and health goals for ourselves - can feel like 10 steps in the wrong direction.

SO!

What do you do after you've eaten a bit more than you intended to? 

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Here are some tips to help you get back on track so you don't waste precious time feeling guilty or shameful:

1. Walk away. 

When we've eaten something we consider 'bad' or 'off limits,' many of us have the 'smash the phone' mentality. I like to use this analogy with my clients: Imagine your phone fell on the ground and the screen cracked. Would you keep repeatedly smashing it into the ground? Or would you say "ok, this is a bit damaged, but its repairable." 

It's the same thing with your diet: going a few hundred calories over your goals isn't a big deal. What IS a big deal is when you don't know when to put down the food, walk away, and spare yourself from doing more damage when you're well beyond the point of fullness.

So, walk away. Leave the kitchen (or wherever you are). Pour yourself a glass of water. Chew a piece of gum. Brush your teeth. Do something that removes yourself from the situation. 

2. Put it behind you. 

What's done is done, and here's the great news: you DON'T have to do anything different tomorrow! 

I made the mistake for so many years of having this warped mentality that I needed to "make up for" what I ate, so I'd spend hours on the treadmill the next day and severely restrict my calories... which only made me repeat the cycle that very night and keep me stuck in this binge/deprive cycle.

Sure, you can move and work out the next day (or later that day), but you do not need to do anything extra to 'make up for it.' Use that extra fuel to your advantage and have an awesome workout!

Here are a few of my favorite autocorrect tools that I use when I fall off the boat (but don't want to completely drown in the lake, nawm sayn?):

- Go for a walk
- Drink a glass of water
- Dance around my house
- Clean the house (while dancing)
- Do 10 air squats
- Go do a workout/workout class

3. Get right back on track.

Starting with the very next meal (yes, you can eat again if you start to feel hungry), make a #GPF style meal. This means filling your plate with the good stuff: greens, protein and healthy fats. 

You may not be as hungry, but your body still needs food. For more ideas on how to get back on track using the #GPF formula, read this blog post.

4. Don't stress it, honaaaay.

This is an obvious one but it's still worth saying: worrying and stressing about falling off track won't help the situation. You can't reverse it from worrying about it. What's done is done, so pour that extra energy into something you LOVE doing. 

If you haven't already, my podcast episode about primary foods is PERFECT advice for this situation: shifting the focus away from what we're eating, to what makes us happy and what fills us up in life. 

--

I hope you found these tips helpful!

We're ALL human and we ALL fall off track, so it's important not to beat yourself up. 

Use the autocorrect tools, remind yourself how awesome you are, and keep it movin'!

Life is too short to be consumed by how much, when, why, where, how, and all the silly stories we create around food.

You're meant for more than that.

LOVE YA TONS

xo

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If you think you're struggling with binge eating (vs. just the occasional overeating), I have a YouTube playlist with some helpful tips. Please reach out to a professional if you need help. I struggled for WAY too long with bingeing because I felt so guilty and ashamed, so I never told anyone. But telling someone was the first part of my healing :) xo

Spring Breakfast: My Favorite On-the-Go Smoothie

Hello my beauty!

It's no surprise that I loooove me some GPF eating

If you're new here, you can read this blog post or listen to this podcast to find more about GPF. In a nutshell, it's a way of eating that incorporates greens/veggies, protein, and healthy fats — which helps keep you fuller for longer, satisfies cravings, elongates your blood sugar curve, and helps you ditch the drama of always having to worry about how much/when to eat. 

One of the most common objections I hear from people all the time is:

"I don't have time to make healthy food!" 

... Which is why I created this smoothie and use it in my everyday life. It legit takes 5 minutes to prepare (even less if you pre-package the ingredients in Ziplock baggies and store in your fridge/freezer the night before)

And, as someone with a HUGE appetite, this smoothie actually helps me stay FULL until lunch time which is *shocking*. It's low sugar, paleo, healthy, yummy, yada yada.

Watch the video or read about the low-sugar smoothie formula I use every day, and let me know what you think if you try the smoothie!

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GET MY BRAND NEW, TOTALLY FREE E-BOOK! 

If you liked this video, you'll love my the BRAND NEW e-book I just created: Fitness Is An Inside Job (5 Mindset & Habit Shifts You Need to Make RIGHT NOW to Radically Change Your Life.) It teaches you how to go from KNOWING what to do, to ACTUALLY doing it.

It's totally free! Get it here


WHAT ARE MACROS?! Everything You Need to Know!

Hello love birds!

Click here if you'd rather listen to this blog post on my podcast!

As you may have noticed from my recent blog posts, I'm going back to the basics and teaching you the foundations of nutrition from a no BS, no extreme dieting, no deprivation point of view.

My ultimate goal is to educate you on how to eat well so that this becomes a LIFESTYLE, instead of just another fad diet that you try, fail at (no judgment, this is just inevitable with things like a juice cleanse/cabbage soup diet/insert other BS diet), and ultimately beat yourself up over.

Today, I want to break it down to the baaaaasics and teach you what macronutrients are and why each of them play an essential role in an overall healthy lifestyle. 

In the past few years, tracking macros has become a popular trend, but on a very basic level - it's important to understand what macronutrients actually are and how each of them affect your hormones and body composition. 

When you're educated about WHY you're making healthy choices, it's much easier to make them because you know you will look better AND feel better – from the inside, out. 

Let's break down MACRONUTRIENTS, shall we?!

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Macronutrients are the building blocks of any diet, and are comprised of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Each of us consume each of these macronutrients every single day, but you may not be familiar with what each of these ACTUALLY do on a cellular level in your body. 

Protein

  • 4 calories per gram
  • Protein takes longer than carbohydrates to break down in your system, making you feel satiated longer
  • Used as a source of energy when carbohydrates aren’t available
  • Aids in new tissues for muscle growth and repair, allowing for faster recovery after muscles have been broken down in a workout
  • Produces essential hormones and regulates digestion

Sources of protein: 

• Lean cuts of meat (ground turkey, ground beef, chicken, etc.)
• Fattier cuts of meat (steak, beef, lamb, veal, game meats, etc.)
• Protein powders *you can find my favorite protein powders here.
• Tuna
• Shrimp
• Salmon (rich in Omega 3 fats - one of my favorites!)
• Tilapia
• Oysters
• Trout
• Fish
• Eggs
• Egg whites
• Lean tofu (in moderation, because of soy)

Suggested amount of protein to consume per day: .75 - 1 gram of protein per body weight. So, if you're a 140-pound woman, you could aim to consume 140 grams (1 gram per pound of body weight) of protein per day. Contrary, if you're 200 lb., it could be very hard to hit that amount of protein in grams per day, so you could aim to consume (200 x .75 grams = 150 grams of protein per day)

Fat

  • 9 calories per gram
  • Helps your body lose fat when eaten in the right amounts
  • More calorie-dense than carbohydrates and proteins, but helps keep you fuller for longer
  • Regulates essential hormonal functions, especially in women
  • Omega-3 fatty acids support heart healthy and thyroid function (and your thyroid regulates everything in your body – including fat loss!)

Sources of healthy fat: 

• Nuts and seeds – almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
• Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower, etc.)
• Avocado
• Coconut oil
• Coconut milk
• Coconut fat
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Flaxseed

Suggested amount of fat to consume per day: Around .5 grams per pound of body weight is a good place to start. Some people do really well with a moderate protein, higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet – others do well with a moderate protein, moderate fat, higher carbohydrate diet (especially if you're an athlete). Find what works best for you or work with a nutrition coach to figure it out. It just takes a bit of trial and error to find what style of eating makes you thrive. 

Carbohydrates

  • 4 calories per gram
  • Easily metabolized/broken down as the body's main fuel source, which is why it’s beneficial to eat them primarily before and after a workout (paired with protein, of course)
  • Indigestible carbohydrates (fiber) are necessary for intestinal health and help you stay “regular.” Beware of “high fiber” marketing and stick to getting your fiber primarily from vegetables (both green and starchy), and some fruit.
  • Play a huge role in the proper function of muscles, brain and kidneys
  • Two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex
    • Simple carbohydrates – fruits, processed foods and anything that tastes “sweet” essentially fit into this. Limit your consumption as much as possible (unless it’s starchy vegetables like carrots, squash, etc.). Often causes a spike in blood sugar, resulting in an extreme dip in energy after consumption.
    • Complex carbohydrates – vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, etc. These are the carbohydrates (listed below in the grocery list) you’ll want to be consuming because they’ll keep you full for longer and not give you that “crash.”

Sources of healthier carbohydrates: 

• ALLLLL THE VEGGIES (spinach, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.) *this is where I like to get the majority of my carbohydrates from. The more colorful your plate, the better!
• Sweet potatoes
• Red or white potatoes
• Yams
• Squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti squash, etc.)
• Carrots
• Apples
• Berries
• Bananas
• Cherries
• Grapefruit
• Beets
• Tomatoes
• Watermelon
• Any and all fruit
• Brown or white rice
• Beans
• Quinoa
• Barley
• Lentils
• Air-popped popcorn
• Gluten-free oatmeal

Suggested amount of carbohydrates to consume every day: As a general rule of thumb, consuming 30% of your caloric intake worth of carbohydrates is a good place to start. Obviously this will vary if you're training like an Olympic athlete vs. the average person working at a desk all day. I like to make sure I'm getting enough of the RIGHT carbohydrates that won't spike my blood sugar, by consuming TOOOONS of veggies. Again the more colorful your plate, the better!


It's important to note that there are some foods that fit into more than one category – salmon, for example, has a decent amount of fat, but it’s primarily classified as a protein because it contains more grams of protein than fat. Peanut butter, for example, contains protein, but has more grams of fat, so it’s considered a “fat.”

In general, I like to structure every one of my meals around a TON of veggies (complex carbohydrates), protein and healthy fats, which myself & my clients refer to as #GPF (greens, protein and fat).

This ensures that I'm hitting all my macronutrient goals for the day and balancing my blood sugar so that I'm not hungry every hour (because YO GIRL IS ALWAYS HUNGRY!) 

I talk all about how to make every meal healthy and satisfying – including recommended portion sizes and meal timing – in this article

Should You Track Macros?

Now that you know how protein, fats and carbohydrates work together to help your body perform, you may be wondering, "Should I track my macros?"

And, if you haven't been living under a rock, you've probably seen your favorite fitness idols on Instagram and YouTube talk about tracking macros. 

I have my own opinions about tracking calories and macros based on my own past experience, but I will do my best to objectively let you decide for yourself whether or not you want to track macros. 

You may want to track macros if: 

  • You're a professional athlete looking to achieve a certain skill level for a sport
  • You're interested in competing in some sort of bikini, figure or physique competition
  • You've been training and eating well (honestly) for a while and have hit a plateau (i.e. you want to dial it in and lose the last 5-10 pounds to enhance your performance or aesthetics)
  • You have a strict deadline that you need to lose/gain weight by (vacation, wedding, something that's important to you)

You don't necessarily need to track macros if:

  • You haven't nailed down the nutrition basics yet – meaning you're completely NEW to a healthy lifestyle and need to master the foundation (such as choosing from the list of healthy protein, fats and carbs above). If you are not already doing this, DO NOT PASS GO. You don't need to track macros yet.
  • You've never dieted or tracked macros before and are genuinely curious about how many calories you're consuming every day (this can be helpful for a beginner to do for 3-5 days, because it can be VERY eye opening – most people are usually eating way more or less than they think they are.)
  • You've tracked macros or calories in the past, have a general sense of what portion sizes look like, and can eyeball your measurements when making meals. 
  • You have a history of an eating disorder and/or body dysmorphia, because being attached to numbers (i.e. how many protein, fats and carbs you're consuming, or calories in general) can 10x the problem. 

Keep in mind there may be different seasons of your life where it can be beneficial to track your caloric intake/macros. Maybe you're competing in a weightlifting or Crossfit meet and need to hit certain strength goals, so tracking macros would be helpful to make sure you're eating enough. Or maybe you have a wedding coming up, and want to really dial in your nutrition to lose the last stubborn 5-10 pounds.

GENERALLY SPEAKING: you do not need to religiously track macros and calories to be an overall healthy person.

For the majority of people who just want to look and feel good, who live a moderately sedentary lifestyle (work at a desk all day), then you will be just fine if you follow a healthy way of eating that provides light structure, like my #GPF (greens, protein and fat) style

However, if you're a professional athlete, training for a show, or have a deadline coming up such as a vacation or wedding, then tracking macros can aid you in reaching your goal faster.

Remember: everything in moderation.

Just as it's not healthy to drink sodas and eat chips all day long, it's also not healthy to take things to the OTHER extreme and be glued to your phone tracking macros all day.

(I talk all about these extremes in my most recent podcast episode, if you're interested).

Everything in moderation, and during the appropriate season of your life. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is to let go of things that are no longer serving you, so if you find yourself becoming too obsessive about tracking your macros, take a step back. Contrary, if you find yourself too lax about your nutrition, maybe it's an appropriate time to track for a few days to get back into a routine with good nutrition habits.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND YOU WILL BE GOLDEN BABAAAY. 

 

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, send me an email, or apply for my nutrition coaching services.

Sending you tons of HEALTH and HAPPINESS! xo,

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3 Simple Steps to Make Every Meal Healthy and Satisfying Using #GPF

*Click here if you'd rather listen to this blog post on my podcast!

There's a misconception that nutrition has to be complicated

And rightfully so! There's so much mixed information floating around out there on the Interwebs.

Should we be counting calories or macros, or intuitively eating? Are carbs the enemy? Will fat make you fat? How much protein should I be eating every day?

It's enough to make ANYONE confused and ultimately discouraged from making any healthy lifestyle changes at all.  

Through years of coaching people about nutrition (and in my own personal experience), I realized most people have an all-or-nothing mindset. They're either following a meal plan and eating only broccoli, brown rice and boiled chicken, or they're going balls-to-the-wall and eating a whole pizza, 10 Twinkies and a tub of ice cream.

I knew I needed to create a simple 'formula' for my clients to understand how to eat for hunger and health, which is how I came up with "GPF."

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Image courtesy of Downshiftology

WHAT IS GPF? 

GPF stands for greens, protein and fat -- and these are what lay the foundation for creating a healthy meal every time you sit down to eat (yes, even at a restaurant). 

The combination of the fiber in the greens, the protein, and healthy sources of fat help to turn off hunger hormones, signal to your body that it's full, increase satiety, and help you actually stay full between meals so that you're not needing to eat mini meals or snack every 2-3 hours! (Because let's be real, the busier we are, the less time we have to spend eating all. day. long.)

I notice that when I eat GPF-style, I'm able to eat three larger meals throughout the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner -- sometimes with a snack between lunch and dinner, depending on how late dinner is. 

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THE BENEFITS OF GPF

Our bodies are incredible.

When we sit down to eat a meal, there are many hormones and systems working together without us even having to think about it.

Your body has 8 hunger-related hormones, including insulin, leptin, ghrelin, peptide yy, neuropeptide y, cortisol, dopamine (the reward hormone), and cholecystokinin. #science

In an ideal climate, these hormones work together harmoniously and balance each other out, so that we never feel starving and eat more than is necessary for proper functioning. 

However, many of our bodies are not in an 'ideal climate': we're stressed at work or home, lacking sleep, produce too much insulin from overconsumption of carbohydrates, consume too much caffeine, or we're over-exercising.

ALL of these things can affect these hormones, making it harder for our body to work FOR us (especially if our goal is weight loss or maintenance) - even if we think we're doing everything 'right' and eating 'healthy.' 

When we understand these hunger hormones and how to shut them off, you don't have to fight your body NOT to eat. You can simply eat until you're satisfied, and go about your day without having to obsess about food.  

You don't have to spend all day wondering when you're going to eat again because you're starving from eating chicken and broccoli an hour ago. You don't have to waste time tracking every single morsel of food in an app (that has no idea about your unique body chemistry, btw. Also, if you're a busy person, this can be a huge waste of time and add tons of unnecessary stress and guilt when you don't 'hit your numbers'. not a fan.)

That, to me, is true food freedom. 

Eating #GPF makes it easier to eat for hunger and health, versus out of stress or emotion. 

You can eat intuitively, but with light structure that helps you look and feel your best. (Because let's be real - if I've been eating tons of bagels and donuts, yo girl will 'intuitively' just want more bagels and donuts). 

#GPF helps break the all-or-nothing mindset surrounding food by focusing on ADDING more of the good stuff, instead of subscribing to the 'do not eat' or 'can never have' lists that we're all so accustomed to if we've ever dieted before. 

And understanding the science behind WHY you're choosing to use the #GPF formula for your meal makes it a lot easier to make healthy choices. 

 Photo courtesy of the National Institute on Aging 

Photo courtesy of the National Institute on Aging 

HOW TO STRUCTURE A GPF MEAL
(+ Grocery List Must-Haves!)

Step 1: GREENS. Select a base of leafy greens and veggies.

More volume = more fiber, which means that the more veggies you load onto your plate, the fuller you will feel. As a rule of thumb, about 75% of my plate is usually comprised of veggies. (Pro tip: an easy way to bulk up any meal is to add a bunch of romaine lettuce and/or spinach to the bottom).

Add any of the following in a variety and abundance:

• Leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, collard greens)
• Celery
• Cucumber
• Broccoli
• Onions
• Cauliflower
• Bell peppers
• Hot peppers
• Zucchini
• Brussels sprouts
• Seaweed
• Artichoke

*P.S. As you’ve noticed, ‘greens’ is just an easy way to remember veggies. Leafy vegetables and those deep in colour are your best options.

Step 2: PROTEIN.

Add 4-5 oz. of one of the following proteins for women, and 6-8 oz. for men.

Selecting a protein from the following list will help you feel fuller longer, and help you build lean, solid muscle. Try to buy organic as much as possible, focusing on grass fed, wild caught and free range products.

• Lean cuts of meat (ground turkey, ground beef, chicken, etc.)
• Fattier cuts of meat (steak, beef, etc.)
• Chicken breast
• Tuna
• Shrimp
• Salmon (rich in Omega 3 fats - one of my favorites!)
• Tilapia
• Oysters
• Trout
• Fish
• Eggs
• Egg whites
• Lean tofu (in moderation, because of soy)

Step 3: FAT.

Add one serving of healthy fats to your meal. For example, use a portion size of 15-30 g of fat = 1-2 tbsp nut butter, ½-1 whole avocado, handful of nuts – roughly 1 oz.)  

• Nuts and seeds – almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
• Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower, etc.)
• Avocado
• Coconut oil
• Coconut milk
• Coconut fat
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Flaxseed

Step 4: (OPTIONAL, think of this as a 'plus one' on your existing plate of greens, protein and fats.)

If you’re creating a meal after your workout, this is the best time to add a serving of starchy carbohydrates.

Since these are higher on the glycemic index, they’re best used before and after a workout. Pre- and post-workout are when your body uses the sugar (insulin) created by carbs most efficiently. If you're not really active and work at a desk the majority of the day, it's best to stick to the lower-glycemic veggies (found in the 'greens' section above) because they won't spike your insulin as much, and your body doesn't need these carbohydrates listed below to 'refuel'.

Keep the portions to about a closed-fist size: 

• Sweet potatoes
• Red or white potatoes
• Yams
• Carrots
• Apples
• Berries
• Bananas
• Cherries
• Grapefruit
• Beets
• Tomatoes
• Watermelon
• Squash
• Any and all fruit
• Brown or white rice
• Black beans
• Quinoa
• Barley
• Air-popped popcorn
• Gluten-free oatmeal

Step 5: (OPTIONAL) Variety is the spice of life, right? Feel free to add any of these extras to flavor your meals or as substitute for your current faves!

• Spices (spices are your best friend! Add them liberally to every meal, but be sure to look for the natural spices, not the ones that have added MSG or a bunch of salt.)
• Cinnamon (great fat burning properties and reduces insulin spike)
• Turmeric (also amazing for hormones and inflammation)
• Pink Himalayan sea salt (great for thyroid production)
• Pepper
• Salsa
• Mustard
• Organic ketchup (low sugar, or find one made with dates if you're trying to get real fancy)
• Unsweetened cocoa powder
• Stevia or Truvia (use this as your sweetener versus sugar or Splenda. They have flavored Stevia now -- toffee, hazelnut, etc. BOMB.)
• Bragg’s liquid aminos (a healthier alternative to soy sauce)
• Srircha or hot sauce (look for low sodium, anything less than 200g)

Drinks

• Almond milk (unsweetened)
• Kombucha (great for digestion and gut health. Look for the ones with less than 5g sugar / serving.)
• Any kind of tea (especially green tea – drink a cup with lemon upon waking)

Herbs/Supplements

• Chia seeds (healthy fats + fiber)
• Hemp seeds (healthy fats + fiber)
• Greens supplement (powdered is great to add to smoothies)
• Cacao/cacao nibs
• Flaxseed
^ All these things are great to add to smoothies!

Recommended Vitamins

• Mutlivitamin
• Fish oil
• Probiotics
• Greens supplement (powdered – as stated above, I add this to my smoothies!)

What a Sample Day of GPF-Style Eating Could Look Like

This is just an example of a typical day in my life. It takes practice to find the foods you love and how much it will take to satisfy you, but it's worth the effort to find a way of eating that makes you feel so energetic, alive and happy -- plus it's fun to try new things!

  1. Wake up and drink a large cup of warm lemon water + coffee with a splash of unsweetened almond milk.
  2. 30 minutes of movement (minimum): a walk, a workout, anything that gets my blood flowing
  3. Breakfast: my low-sugar smoothie formula
  4. Lunch: huge bed of spinach and romaine + whatever chopped veggies I prepped over the weekend, 6 oz organic canned salmon, 1/2 avocado, balsamic vinegar + a dash of olive oil
  5. Snack (optional, depending on what time dinner is): 2 hardboiled eggs
  6. Dinner: 6 oz. rotisserie chicken, roasted butternut squash, roasted broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil

And sometimes if I'm craving something sweet after dinner, I'll make my healthy hot cocoa, which is just: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk boiled, 1 packet of stevia, a dash of cinnamon + unsweetened cocoa powder (1-2 tbsp., depending on how dark the cocoa is. The darker, the richer, the better ;).) Just warm up the almond milk on the stove and blend all the ingredients in the blender!

Some GPF Meal Ideas from Myself & My Clients


DISCLAIMER:

I've worked with many clients over the years who have thoroughly enjoyed the GPF style of eating, more than anything else they've tried. It's a low stress, low drama way of eating that allows them not to obsess about food constantly. You can use this style of eating whether you're paleo, vegan, vegetarian, or don't subscribe to any labels at all. 

This is based on my personal experience and that of my clients. Eating most of my meals GPF has truly changed the game for me in terms of my performance in the gym, my hunger, my hormones (helped me get my period back and has cleared up my skin x9482), and most importantly: has helped me become less obsessed with food over the years. Of course I will still enjoy pizza and ice cream on occasion, but I always try to remind myself that too much indulgence doesn't make me feel good, just like too much deprivation doesn't make me feel good, either.

It's all about finding balance: enjoying yourself, and having a GPF meal to autocorrect and get you back on track to living your happiest, healthiest life.

Sending you lots of love!

IN HEALTH AND HAPPINESS,

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