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perfectionism is driving + shame is riding shotgun.

"When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun, and fear is that annoying back seat driver." - Brene Brown  Wednesday of last week, I cried. no surprise there, but...

I cried at the gym. in front of other people.

...because I missed a lift.

you're probably waiting for more of the story, or thinking, "what the heck is wrong with this girl!?", but that's pretty much the whole tale.

I couldn't lift what I was supposed to, got frustrated, tried again, got even more frustrated and when my coach (and also boyfriend) asked why I allowed something so small to get me so frustrated, I knew I wasn't going to be able to honestly answer the question without losing my cool. "I feel like it's just one more thing that's being taken away from me...", as salty water rolled out of my eyes. I wish I could say they were sweat beads and I was glistening, but no, they were undoubtedly tears and I was crying...in the middle of the weight room. thank goodness it was a Wednesday at 2pm and the gym was populated with mostly Silver Sneakers who couldn't see my shame past their cataracts.

I took this - and other particularly stressful (and seemingly uncharacteristic) events from the past few weeks to my therapist*, who helped me shed some light on the situation.

* she's great, by the way. I mean, she makes me cry so I hate her, but she is seriously, the best.

I have, as far back as my memory can take me, always identified as being a perfectionist. because, why not? to think there's a way I can do things where I can never be held in judgment by other people and totally escape criticism!?

hell yes!!

and so, I committed my life to being perfect. to some extent, I felt as though I had to compensate for my less-academically interested, trouble maker of a brother. because, it kept the peace. it allowed for balance. I loved the kid with every fiber of my being, but let's be real, he never learned the easy way. so one of us had to...right? it may not have been my job, but I took it upon myself anyway and abused it, even started slowly killing myself with it.

flash back to 2011: overtrained, underfed, disordered eating and a fractured hip.

my life needed to change. my over identification with being "smart and perfect" wasn't enough. after graduation I needed to be "smart, thin, athletic and perfect". this over identification cost me my love for running and nearly a whole lot more. lesson learned...or so I thought.

back to last Wednesday. lifting. gym. tears.

I've done it again. I've over identified with being strong. but strong is good! how can strong be bad? when falling short of a benchmark (lifting pun not intended) leads to unworthiness, feelings of being unloveable; less than, and not enough. that's when.

that's how I felt, how I feel. if I can't do X, or look like Y, I fail. I am a failure.

I have learned to define myself as a list of skills, executed brilliantly to the satisfaction of others around me, instead of accepting and defining myself as a whole person, a flawed person. my therapist calls this shame. I never thought I resonated with shame. I never understood it...because I always met the expectation, even when it led to my own detriment.

but today, today I am falling so short - of my own unrealistic (I see that now) expectations. and I feel shame.

"Many of us will spend our entire lives trying to slog through the shame swampland to get to a place where we can give ourselves permission to both be imperfect and to believe we are enough." - Brene Brown 

so here's my promise. to myself, mostly. and to those I love and who love me in return (bless them, as I never make it easy):

I am flawed. and I'm learning to accept it.

I am flawed, but I am also cherished and I am learning (and struggling) to accept it.

I am getting rid of shame - my soul no longer has room for it - and along with it, perfectionism.

I am imperfect. and I'm learning to accept it.

I will not always make decisions you like or approve of. but that's okay. you don't have to.

I will no longer be afraid of falling short, failing or being flawed.

I will no longer define myself according to your judgements, criticisms and approval. I can't afford to.

because, I am, right now, as this whole and broken person, worthy of love and belongingness.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

 

faking Christmas.

in some small ways I'm trying. lighting our teeny tree and wrapping things with bows.

listening to Christmas music, as I come and as I go.

attending family get-togethers and the occasional social soiree.

mostly because my therapist says staying in and eating my weight in chocolate chips is not okay.

but in many ways, I'm not trying at all.

no Christmas cards, no cookies, no stockings hung by the tree.

no Christmas cheer, or holiday magic. not this year, not for me.

no one quite understands, and I pray they never do.

the chore that is living life when all that's left is you.

Christmas is really just fluff this year. like fake white snow you see in window displays.

because any gift - given or received - falls short in so many ways.

he's never coming back. not now, not ever.

and yet, I'm still supposed to smile, sing and get together...

…with friends, family and neighbours all aglow with this Wonderful Time Of Year

while my heart's too-sizes-too-small and filled with "bah-humbug" over here.

yet, as I sit here wishing that the world would just leave me out.

I'm prompted to remember what Christmas is all about.

not me, not you, not the pain we hide away.

but the truth of Jesus and his promise to return some day.

so remember, wherever your spirit falls this year, no matter how dark or how grey the days become,

know that you're not alone and that the victory has already been won.

 

Merry Christmas, I guess, to all - happy and sad - because even faking Christmas can't be all bad.

grief is an irrational #*%$!

 

today, I am thankful for:

being able to drive with the windows down. 

washing my hair, finally. 

setting a bench press PR. 

peach baked oatmeal for dinner. because, I felt like it. 

there it is. a glimpse into my gratitude journal. and while some of those things may seem menial to you, believe it or not, I haven't washed my hair since Saturday. and I'm writing this on Tuesday.

because, life is a bitch. despite the fact that I know my life is beautiful, I now have to make an intentional effort to remind myself of the bright spots; the tiny wins. like a child, I'm reduced to outlining daily positives. because these days, it all gets drowned out by the darkness far too easily. 17 weeks ago my brother lost his battle with addiction. died. alone. in a cold hotel room. without a "goodbye" or an "I love you", and ever since, my world has been an unpredictable hurricane of emotions.

some days, it's easier to drown out the noise. distraction, obligation, entertainment, they all help me to pretend my life is normal; unchanged from that day. but then there are those days. days that feel endlessly dark. days spent swarmed by a cocktail of unwanted emotions. fear. anxiety. anger. sadness. angst. and others that I've never felt before and would've been happy never having known.

I like to think I'm getting over it, those initial feelings, and that I'm healing. but, every bad day reminds me of just how devastated my heart really is.  sometimes there's an obvious trigger, a special date, a memory, or a few minutes spent looking at old photographs. but then other times the trauma strikes without warning. one minute I have myself (seemingly) together and the next minute...I'm a sloppy wet mess, curled into a ball in a dark room because the world just seems to be too much. the grief is like a disease that has spread to every part of my body, infecting every corner of my life.

some days I'm able to recognise and appreciate that he's no longer suffering. that addiction no longer has chains wrapped around his soul, cutting off his very will to give sobriety another try. I will forever be thankful that his dark days are over. But what about my selfish soul? How do I get over the fact that my mom has lost a child and will mourn forever? or the fact that my dad has lost his only son and along with that, the Cascio name? or that my future children will never know the "fun uncle" we always joked he would be, living in our basement and feeding them junk food. or that the world will never know him as the genuinely sensitive person he was, but merely another statistic of a devastating epidemic.

the answers to those questions escape me. but, I'm doing it. getting by day by day, highlight the good bits like a middle school librarian. surviving some days requires a three hour nap and a stern talking to, but I'm doing it. because, I refuse to let the drug that took his life, also take mine. He would've hated seeing the darkness seep into my life. He would have stood in opposition at the very thought.

trust this my fellow grief-stricken friends, the waves will lessen in size and intensity as days pass and the memories remain. and so, until then, hold tight to the blessings. find the light in the darkness. and be forever grateful that you had something so undeniably special that saying goodbye feels like the worst possible thing ever.

 

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Protein amazzzeballs

(almost) every Sunday, the following events occur: after prying my eyes open, rolling out of bed and making breakfast, I strap on my body armour and head to Costco…you know, just in case I get sidelined by a soccer mom on a mission. I have my list in-hand so I don't waste any time stuck behind the people who just go to eat the samples for lunch. I stock my cart and zip to the check-out line. BAM. in and out in less than 40 minutes every time. 

next, I hit up Giant for the extras. those little things you can't get at Costco without buying five hundred. in and out in less than 15 minutes. I'm on my way home, a thousand dollars of groceries in the back seat, and a smile on my face. why? because I know what comes next. every Sunday, after grocery shopping, my wonderful boyfriend and I stop at Tropical Smoothie to get a protein shake…smoothie. the fridge is empty, and we know we'll be prepping for the new few hours, so we fuel up. my personal favourite is the Island Green Detox Smoothie (no added sugar) with an added scoop of pea protein powder. yum!

after arriving home and making at least seven trips from the car to the kitchen, the work begins!

because I'm a bit of a control freak, and because nutrition is my job, I design weekly menus for us to follow. so we know exactly what we're eating on what day and for what meal. tedious? yes. but a super helpful time saver and excuse eliminator? hell yes. the recipes change from week to week. lunches and dinners vary based on what we're in the mood for, however, a few things always remain the same. a. protein. we eat a lot of it. b. vegetables. we might as well be rabbits. and c. peanut butter protein balls. we ALWAYS find a way to fit these babies into our weekly menu. it's like a cookie, without the extra sugar. one serving has the same amount of calories (130) and protein (7g) as an ounce of almonds, but tastes so much better! they taste so good you almost feel guilty eating them (but don't, because that would defeat the purpose).

I play with the recipe a little bit every time, but here's the latest batch:

Ingredients:

- 1 1/2 cups oats

- 3 scoops of protein powder (I use Pure Vegan pea protein, vanilla)

- 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder

- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- 2 TBSP milled flaxseed (if you forget this, they'll become runny)

- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

- 1/3 cup natural peanut/almond butter

- 1/3 cup coconut butter (you can skip this and double the peanut butter, if you prefer)

- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

- 2 TBSP dairy-free dark chocolate chips

Directions: combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until fully incorporated. ff you're having a hard time manipulating the dough, feel free to add more milk, although, not too much. the mixture should be sticky. using wet hands, roll dough into 1" balls and layer in a Tupperware container, separating layers with parchment paper. recipes makes 18 balls.

I've experimented with adding shredded coconut, chopped pecans and agave nectar in place of various ingredients, so feel free to try something new! but be warned, make sure you exert portion control. these things are moorish (a word I picked up in England meaning you just want to eat more and more and more!)

the moral of the story: nutrition should be fun. and tasty. but intentional.

make a plan. stick to it. and make sure to include something sweet.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Banana Protein Muffins

here are a few background facts: 1. I choose to eat healthy. I like the way it makes me feel, how it helps my lifts + knowing that I'm doing my body good by feeding it well.

2. I write specifically designed menus for clients in order to help them reach their goals (be it fat loss, muscle gain, or general health).

3. I also write menus for myself, and for my boyfriend so he can be big and strong.

4. Occasionally, we like to veer off-menu and enjoy something spontaneous.

5. Spontaneous, scrumptious, but still nutritious.

Enter the Peanut Butter Banana Protein Muffins (serves 6)

Ingredients:

- 2 TBSP Peanut Butter

- 1 medium Banana, Mashed

- ¼ cup Uncooked Oatmeal

- 1 Whole Egg

- ½ cup Liquid Egg Whites

- 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder

- 1 tsp Baking Powder

- 2 heaping TBSP dark chocolate chips

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, hand- mix all ingredients together. (I mashed my banana with a spoon and then added all the other ingredients)
  • Line muffin tin with parchment liners or coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Fill each muffin tin until you are out of batter.
  • Place tray in the center rack of the oven and allow to cook for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • The tops of your muffins should be a golden brown, and the chocolate chips should be beautiful and melty.

Calories (per muffin): 133 Fat: 6g Carbs: 12g Protein: 9g 

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

what NOT to say to a single girl.

  well balanced nutrition and exercise aside for a second, let's talk about emotional health…specifically the emotional health of all the single ladies out there. [insert Beyonce soundtrack here]

Things NOT To Say To A Single Girl:

1. "Have you thought about online dating?" Of course we've thought about it, if for no other reason than the fact that you're the 3rd person to mention it…this week. Have you ever been to the Goodwill Bargain Bin? After hours of rummaging through used, dirty and rejected items you usually walk away empty handed. Sure, there's the occasional 'steal' where you find something worth way more than the 25 cents you paid for it (because you went on a Wednesday), but the experience takes bravery, game and an unnatural level of optimism, because, let's face it, online, the creepers to cuties are a million to 1.

2. "You'll find the one. He's out there." No kidding, he's out there. The world is populated by more than 6 billion people. After you account for gender, language, age and maybe even a few other desirable preferences, there's probably still over 100,000 men I could happily spend forever with. But is it really so crazy to believe that I can be content and fulfilled as a single twenty-something!? I mean, contrary to popular belief, I don't spend my weeknights sifting through eligible bachelors on my newsfeed. I like not having to filter my mood or temperament through someone else's. I also like not having to serve someone else's schedule before my own. I'm comforted by the fact that he's out there, so thanks for that, but when you assure me that I'll find him it makes me think you're worried that I haven't already…and expect me to be worried. and that worries me!

3. "You still have time." When you say this, are you referencing my fertility? Are you worried about my ageing eggs? Because if so, that's weird and really pretty personal. This is my uterus we're talking about! Or, are we? …because if you weren't referencing my reproductive system, does it matter at what age I find the infamous Him? Isn't love the same at 20, 40 or 60? But back to the whole baby making thing - the only thing a woman - any woman - can do is hope that when she wants to have children - if she wants to have children - she is able to. Beyond that, it's out of our control.

4. "How are you still single!?" Because all women who aren't totally repulsive or heartless mean girls should be in relationships. Right? Are you asking if I have some sort of deformity; a physical, or psychological shortcoming that makes me repulsive to all men? Because that's what I'm hearing. And last I checked, no, I don't. But I'm also pretty sure that 'being awesome' isn't the only qualifier for being in a relationship.

5. "You're too picky." Oh, so my morals and standards bother you? Should I settle for spending the next few years of my young, vibrant life in a half-assed partnership where neither of us are propelling the other further toward our goals/purpose/ambitions and fight over what to do on Friday nights? Now that I mention it, that sounds a lot like the definition of marriage in 2014. No thank you. I'd rather keep my boyfriendless status and my soul, thank you very much. I want commitment. I want the real deal, and if that's too much to ask, then I'm better off without it.

6. "You're emotionally unavailable." Thanks for the diagnosis, Dr. Phil. I'm always slightly confused by this one. Is it the expectation that I'll wear my heart on my sleeve and fall for any gentlemen that looks my way? Because let me tell you, some of the men I've met haven't been worth feelings, tears and all that jazz. I think I'll hold onto my emotions until I meet someone worth rolling up my sleeves for. Don't expect me to put in the time if you're not willing to go the distance. Yeah, I'm a female but that doesn't mean I'm wasting 600 calories and a pint of Ben & Jerry's on you.

7. "It'll happen when you stop looking/least expect it." No, I'm pretty sure you're no longer single because you never stopped looking for it. My life doesn't look like an episode of Sex & The City. I'd take Carrie Bradshaws closet any day, but believe it or not, I don't sit around gabbing with my girlfriends about where to find/how to snatch a catch. Just because I don't have a man on my arm doesn't mean I'm hyperactively looking for one. Think about that…how does that make any sense!? AT ALL!?

 

Hear me out - I’m not saying those of us who are single aren’t allowed to long for someone to share our life adventures with. I’m saying that it sucks that our society equates singleness with unhappiness. When you realize you’re alone (note: this is not the same thing as being lonely) and content, it’s a truly liberating thing. So I'm going to keep doing my thing - you can suggest eHarmony or set me up on a blind date - but know that I'm choosing to first seek the Kingdom of Heaven, trusting that everything else is secondary (yes, even some Jesus loving hunk of a man).

Cause, you know, he’s totally out there...

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

The 9 Best Investments you Can Make:

You're investing in your retirement? Good. But are you investing in your health? I can't imagine that having all the money in the world would be much fun if you weren't agile and mobile enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Someone a long time ago once said, (don't ask who, I wasn't alive back then) "the rich invest in time; the poor invest in money." 

The Best 9 Investments You Can Make For Your Health: 

1. Take A Trip To The Mediterranean. This is already so much more fun than stocks and bonds! A study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people who followed the Mediterranean diet, rich in fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, nuts, and even red wine, reduced their risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart-disease-related death by about 30%. Scientists believe the various nutrients work synergistically to help reduce inflammation and oxidation in the body. If you can't budget a trip this year, pick up a Mediterranean cook book and practice at home during your stay-cation.

2. Follow Your Health Trends. The next time you get bloodwork done at the doctors office, jot down your figures in a Word document or tracking app. The organisation will make it easier to spot spikes and dips. "A trend line is always more meaningful than an absolute number," says James Scala, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist. For example, if your weight and blood sugar both start trending up, it might be a good indication that you need to ask your doctor about adult-onset diabetes or at least get a second opinion.

3. Hire A Nutritionist-Know-It-All. This is my favorite one. You have a doctor, a dentist, maybe even a cardiologist, but you may be overlooking one of the most useful advisors of all: a nutritionist. Poor eating habits and obesity are starting blocks of disease, so diet advice is key. Lets say your latest test results show you have high blood pressure…a doctor will prescribe a small pill, tell you to take it once a day and send you on your way. But 85-95% of hypertension (high BP) can be treated through nutrition alone. What you eat can be the best medication you ever take. Seek out someone who's invested in your health, not just your treatment.

4. Be A Quitter. If you're a tobacco user invest everything you can into kicking the sticks. No other health habit will have a greater effect on the quantity and quality of your years. A large study published in the Lancet suggests that smoking can cut more than 10 years off your life. But if you break the habit before age 40, you can cut the excess mortality associated with lighting up by about 90 percent. It's never too late. Any investment you make in smoking cessation will have huge payoffs.

5. Make Home In A Health Haven. These cities ranked highest in an analysis of 78 quality-of-life indicators that included health care, cultural opportunities, and transportation convenience. The Milken Institute has identified the following metropolitan areas in which you have the best chances of "ageing successfully".

LARGE METRO:

1.          Provo, UT 2.          Madison, WI 3.          Omaha, NE 4.          Boston, MA 5.          New York, NY 6-7.       Des Moines, IA (tie) 6-7.       Salt Lake City, UT (tie) 8.          Toledo, OH 9.          Washington, DC 10.        Pittsburgh, PA

SMALL METRO:

1.          Sioux Falls, SD 2.          Iowa City, IA 3.          BismarckSD 4.          Columbia, MO 5.          Rochester, MN 6.          Gainesville, FL 7.          Ann Arbor, MI 8.          Missoula, MT 9.          Durham, NC 10.        Rapid City, SD

6. Exercise Your Creative Muscle. Stress is one of the biggest premature agers as it leads to many unhealthy behaviors like smoking, drinking, and yo-yo dieting, all of which take a toll on your body. To ease anxiety and preserve your youthful skin, devote your time and money toward cultivating a hobby you enjoy. Exerting your creative juices can help ease the stress of daily life and help you keep your youthful glow. I mean…if the doctors prescribing a game of pickup soccer or getting lost in your music for a few hours a week, are you really going to argue with him!?

7. Remove Your Shoes. Visit a podiatrist to minimize your risk of hip, back, and knee problems. "If you don't have a good foundation--if you have flat feet or high arches, for example--then the joints in the rest of your body will be stressed as they try to compensate," says Andrew Shapiro, D.P.M., a podiatrist based in New York. Over time, this can result in tendinitis, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and joint pain, he says. So make sure you've got the right support for your soles.

8. Get Cozy With Your Community. According to the Longevity Project, a landmark study that tracked 1,500 individuals for 80 years, the most important predictor of a long life is a strong social network. "It's important to do things that tie you to ongoing social or community groups," says Howard Friedman, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of psychology and a researcher with the project. This could involve volunteering, supporting a local charity, or doing work with a religious or political group, he says. These activities bestow a sense of fulfillment and belonging that fights loneliness and depression, two markers of deteriorating health.

9. Find A Workout That Doesn't Feel Like Work. It comes as no surprise that consistent physical activity is linked to a longer lifespan. The surprise was that regimented "exercise" was not the key. Instead, find active pursuits you enjoy, and invest in the instruction and equipment necessary to do them well. Rather than forcing yourself to descend into your musty basement to run on a dreadmill -intentional typo-  take lessons in surfing, rock climbing, martial arts or some other form of fitness you enjoy.

 

What investments are you currently making? The way I see it, the choices we make now encourage long-term medical care or self-sustaining longevity. You're the one holding all the cards.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Will You Take The Challenge? #MayMakeover

{insert a bitter string of complaints about how my summer body got derailed by this ridiculous stress fracture}

that's life. things don't go as expected and sometimes we don't reach our goals for one reason or another. and you know what I have to say about that, "oh well!" yeah, I'm disappointed that I can't enjoy runs this season. I'm frustrated that my strength gains and body fat % are not what they were a month ago, and yeah, I'm super pissed that my actuality doesn't match my expectations. but, c'est la vie. that's life. what can we do about it? and, yes, I'm saying we because I'm willing to bet that some of you aren't exactly where you'd hoped to be by May of this year. how many of your New Years resolutions to "get fit" fell short? maybe you're still not ready to sport that bikini come summertime, or your attempt at healthy eating took a nose dive after lent ended. whatever the scenario may be, I say…let's fight back.

have you ever heard the saying, you don't need a new year, you only need a Monday? we all love the concept of a new beginning, a fresh start, a rebirth. April was a bit of a bust. I fell off the Paleo bandwagon, exercised a total of 0 times and even had tortilla chips for dinner on occasion. it wasn't pretty. but May, May will be different. May is our Monday. and because we all know there's strength in numbers, I want you to join me in re-committing to ourselves this month.

you matter. your health matters. regardless of what season it is or what season of life you may be in, you deserve to be healthy and cared for. if anyone tells you differently (yourself included), they're wrong. so here's how it's going to go down:

each week we will focus on a new healthy behavior. research shows that if you have too many coinciding goals, your chances of accomplishing them are pretty minuscule, however, if you choose one goal and attack it with fervor (fervor is my word, it wasn't used in the research study), your chances of meeting that goal increase ten fold! no brainer. the idea is that you devote all of your energy to mastering one goal at a time. when you feel as though you're confident in that healthy behavior, you can add a new goal. if you feel you need some more time, take it! this isn't a competition. this is real, every day life people!

The #MayMakeover Breakdown:

May 1st-7th: No food after 8pm. 

no, eating at night does not make you fat. but if you're anything like me…those not-so-good-for-you foods suddenly look so much more appealing after dark. it's WHAT we choose to eat at night that makes us fat, not WHEN we eat. and because our bodies don't need fuel before bedtime, we don't need to be eating after 8pm anyway. Close the kitchen.

May 8th-14th: Eat protein with every meal/snack. 

if it doesn't have protein, don't eat it. chips? no. cereal? no. sweets 'n treats? no. empty calories have no purpose inside our bodies. don't waste your calories on them. every meal and every snack will have some source of protein: lean meats, poultry, eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, protein powder, nuts, seeds, etc. …and continue to stop eating after 8pm. 

May 15th-21st: Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables a day. 

to clarify, a serving of vegetables is approximately 1/2 cup. so if you have a serving at each meal and snack, assuming you eat 5x a day, you'd hit your quota. or, you could double up at lunch and dinner and easily hit 5 servings in a days time! notice that I didn't say 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables which happens to be the daily guidelines for American adults. this is mostly because I am obsessed with fruit. I would be a fruititarian if it were healthy (and yes, that is a real thing). But just like too much sucrose (aka. sugar) is a bad thing, too much fructose (the sugar in fruit) can also be a bad thing. moderation sucks, doesn't it!? ….and continue to stop eating after 8pm AND have protein with every meal/snack. 

breakfasts: egg and veggie scramble/spinach, onion and bacon frittata/protein smoothie with spinach

lunches: spinach salad/lettuce wraps/soups

dinners: roasted, mashed or steamed vegetables/stir fry/casseroles

snacks: raw veggies with dip/kale chips/green juices

May 22nd-28th: drink half your BW in oz of water each day. 

hydration is a serious thing. have you ever sprinkled salt on a slug and watched it shrivel up? that's what you'd look like without water. staying hydrated helps with weight loss, muscle efficiency, skin elasticity, mood regulation, memory function, digestion, joint lubrication, and immune health. water is no joke. but just how much should you be drinking? take your body weight (in pounds) and divide that by 2 - that is how many ounces you should drink each day…and no, coffee doesn't count towards your daily quota (I knew you were thinking it).…and of course, continue to stop eating after 8pm, eat protein with each meal/snack AND consume at least 5 servings of vegetables a day. 

Can you just imagine for a second how healthy you will feel at the end of May if you commit to these aforementioned nutrition goals? Think about how you'll feel, physically and emotionally. Think about how you'll look, your insides as well as your outsides. That's actually a little gross when you think about it, but you know what I mean! I don't know about you, but I really want to be that person. She's feels fantastic, has energy for days and looks super hot…just saying.

So…who's with me!? If you're serious about joining the challenge, let me know and I will commit to sending you weekly email reminders. Because I want us to be accountable, me to you and you to me. Let's take May by storm. #MayMakeover

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Binge Eating. Symptoms + Solutions.

"Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop. Individuals who binge often eat even when they’re not hungry and continue eating long after they’re full. They may also gorge themselves as fast as they can while barely registering what they’re eating or tasting." - HelpGuide.org Binge eating affects more people than anorexia and bulimia combined and yet it doesn't get near as much coverage? Why? Because it's unattractive. No one wants to talk about the dirty details of feeding your feelings to the point of sickening discomfort. Well guess what? I'm gonna talk about it because I think something needs to be said. In the last month I've had more than a handful of individuals confess to me their struggle with bingeing. Adults, who have never addressed the issue because no one was willing to discuss it. So, let's open the floor.

I'm going to paraphrase a friend who has given me permission to share her struggle:

"I'll do so well during the day, counting calories, choosing salads and fruit, but at night my BED (binge eating disorder) monster comes out. Once I'm home alone I'll gorge on whatever I can find. It starts out okay…maybe I'll make something reasonably healthy for dinner like a sandwich…but then I'll end up having three. My healthy turkey sandwich turns into two peanut butter and jellys, which just turns into eating half the jar of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Maybe I'll eat 4 or 5 more slices of bread too. But that's still not enough. I'll open the fridge and go through an entire jar of pickles. 3 candy bars, half a gallon of ice-cream, a bag of chips and probably a half a pound of cheese later I wake up from my daze and feel so sick that I feel the need to vomit. 4,000-5,000 calories later, I sit there holding my belly and am overcome by intense feelings of worthlessness. I binge to fill a void but after I'm done bingeing the void is still there. 

Some of you might be able to relate. And just because you don't fit the diagnostic criteria for a Binge Eating Disorder doesn't mean you don't struggle. Perhaps for you it looks like overeating in private after everyone else has gone to bed, or maybe your car is filled with fast food trash because you don't want anyone else to know. Maybe you don't ever allow yourself to feel full and continue to stuff your belly of unneeded food until you feel depressed and physically ill. Bingeing can come in many forms.

 

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating
  • Rapidly eating large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you're full
  • Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret
  • Eating normally around others, but gorging when you’re alone
  • Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating
  • Embarrassment over how much you’re eating
  • Feeling numb while bingeing—like you’re not really there or you’re on auto-pilot.
  • Never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat
  • Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed after overeating
  • Desperation to control weight and eating habits

 

I am not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, and for some, seeing a health professional is the next best step. But here's the advice I can give you in order to help fight the battle against binging and unplanned eating:

1. Eat a healthy breakfast. Don't restrict yourself excessively all day. That will inevitably lead to overeating at night. Give your body the nutrients it needs. Starting your day with 300-500 wholesome calories is a great launching pad. Choose a breakfast comprised of lean protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. Eggs, veggies and turkey bacon, or Greek yogurt with oats and berries are a few great options.

2. Check in with your body. The underlying issue of any eating disorder is usually psychological, so learning to become more aware of your physiological status is important. How do you feel? When was the last time you ate? What is your body telling you? Don't simply give in to emotional impulses. Think, then act.

3. Think ahead and create a plan. Mentally organise your day and the food-related activities that will ensue. Are you going out to lunch with colleagues? Check for the menu online so you're prepared to order and aren't taken by surprise. What will you make for dinner that will keep you satisfied until bedtime? Will you, at any point, be alone and tempted to overeat? What strategies can you use to fight against unplanned eating?

4. Add movement to your day. Take a walk around the block. Go to the gym with a friend. Do some relaxing yoga or stretching at home. Exercise has shown to work wonders on stress levels and help fight against depression. Activate your pleasure centres with something other than food and drink.

5. Stock up on the good, toss out the bad. Create a clean, stress-free environment for yourself. So that when you're tempted to overeat your choices are carrots and hummus, cottage cheese and air popped popcorn instead of unhealthy, high-calorie snacks likes chips, sweets and treats. The world is a battlefield, your home should feel safe.

6. Have a person. Your person. Who you can call, text or email at any time of day. A coach/mentor/friend who will talk you off a ledge if need be, or encourage you to keep fighting when you need it. Find that person and allow them to invest in you.

 

 

As I was preparing to write the curriculum for our next Nutrition Support Group at emPower Training Systems  I wanted to focus on the psychology of nutrition. So many of us know exactly what we need to do in order to lose weight or get healthy, but for some reason we can't seem to follow through. I would argue that it's because our sabotaging thoughts, negative mindsets and emotional justifications get in the way. Emotional eating is when we eat to satisfy a need other than hunger. When was the last time you ate because you were hungry? Do you even know what hunger feels like? We're all guilty of emotional eating at times, but at what point does it become unhealthy? When does it start affecting your life and the lives of those around you in a negative way? And what can you do about it?

I've learned a lot in prepping for this next series and I only hope that those involved will feel the same way. If you're interested in joining our next Nutrition Support Group, feel free to contact me at nnmarie@gmail.com. I love the community of people I get to work with, sharing stories; failures and successes with each other in order to build one another up. Remember, this doesn't have to be a secret struggle. You aren't alone in this.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

 

RECIPE: It's like a breakfast cupcake…or an egg muffin.

Breakfast cupcakes sounds so much more enticing, don't they? But regardless, these babies are delish.

I'm sure all of you wake up whenever you want to and leisurely go about your morning. Faced with endless time to take long, hot showers and peruse the fridge in order to see what culinary delight you want to start your day with…juuuuuust kidding. We're all crazy people in the morning, choosing whether to brush our teeth quickly or just pop a piece of gum. Get the kids dressed or pack lunches…you can always say you thought it was pyjama day. What I'm trying to say is, mornings are hard. So breakfast should be easy. This recipe is going to make your morning. Why? Because I just spent 15 minutes making breakfast for the entire week…and I don't even have kids to get on the bus so just imagine what I'm going to do with all that free time!!!!

Egg Muffin RECIPE: think of it like a cupcake. 

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

- 12 whole eggs

- 3/4 cup liquid egg whites

- 1 cup red pepper, diced

- 1 cup onion, diced

- 1 cup zucchini, shredded (or spinach, or asparagus, or mushrooms)

- 6 slices of bacon, cooked

- fresh ground pepper, to taste

- oregano, to taste

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350. 2. Coat your non-stick pan with olive oil spray (or PAM) to ensure a smooth removal. 3. Line the bottom of your pan with crumbled bacon (about 1/2 a slice per muffin). I've also used cooked ground turkey which is just as delicious. 4. Spread chopped veggies evenly throughout the muffin tins. I don't measure this out, but just sprinkle according to my eye scale. ;) 5. In a medium sized bowl, scramble eggs and egg whites. You can use all whole eggs or all egg whites, but I prefer a mixture of both. 6.  Pour mixture into muffin tins on top of veggies. Fill 'em to the top! 7. Add a dash of ground pepper and oregano to each muffin. 8. Pop them in the oven and cook for approximately 20 minutes…or until they don't jiggle in the middle.

The convenient thing about this recipe is that you can use any variety of protein and vegetables you choose. Bacon, ground turkey, ham, cheese, mushrooms, onions, peppers, broccoli, spinach, etc. Whatever you'd put in an omelette you can throw in these! It's like a mini omelette muffin! Make them ahead of time and store in the fridge or freezer.

Your busy morning just got a heckuva lot easier.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

The Biggest, Baddest Diet Mistakes:

Part of my job description includes analysing and evaluating food logs. As masochistic as it may be, this is one of my favourite parts of what I do. Food is relatable. Everyone needs to eat and we can all relate to food and the struggles eating too much and/or too little can present. If you want to really be vulnerable, allow someone to see what you eat for a week. It's eye opening. Sometimes you don't even realise how all those little "bites" and "treats" add up. You don't think about the fact that you add 100 calories to your meal every time you polish off a bite of your kids mac 'n cheese or swipe one of their fish sticks. You are oblivious to the fact that you take in over 500 calories a day of sugary beverages.

Food is fuel. We need to learn how to eat to live and not live to eat.

A few weekends ago I was on a blind date and the conversation went something like this:

him: "so you're a nutritionist?"

her: "I am. I advise people on what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. I love what I do."

him: "I don't really like food. I mean, I don't look forward to it. I eat because I have to."

her: blank stare. (check please!)

I sat there thinking to myself, this man doesn't find pleasure in food. There is something mechanically wrong with his genetic makeup. Where do we go from here!? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the way he thinks about food (or doesn't think much about it) is arguably the healthiest mindset one can have. Food is fuel. We should eat because our bodies need the energy, not because our pleasure centers are salivating over sugary, salty yumminess. Needless to say, despite the revelation, there will not be a second date. Since our conversation, I have decided to add a stipulation to my list of attractive qualities in a date, No. 1: Enjoys food. More to the point...

 

Let me share a few of the Biggest, Baddest Diet Mistakes I see time and time again on food logs:

1. Under Eating. At least 70% of my fat-loss clients are chronic under eaters. How does this make sense? If someone has fat to lose, doesn't that mean they are eating too much? No, not necessarily. When you eat fewer calories than what your body needs to execute all its basic functions (this is called your Basal Metabolic Rate), you force your body to compromise certain systems, namely your metabolism, in order to function on the limited energy you're taking in. When you eat too little, your body goes into what's known as "starvation mode", your metabolism slows down, you don't burn as many calories and BAM - you're stuck in an endless cycle of trying to lose weight by eating too little which causes you to remain overweight. Calculate your BMR and aim to eat within 500 calories of that number.

2. Skipping Breakfast. Remember all that talk about your metabolism? Well, the same principle applies. Breakfast acquired it's name because after sleeping throughout the night your morning meal is quite literally the breaking of your fast. Overnight, your metabolism slows down and in order to get it back up and running most efficiently you need to kickstart the day with a healthy, wholesome meal. People who tend to skip breakfast allow themselves to get ravenously hungry and bottom-load their calories later in the day. But this is the opposite of what should happen, because most of us are more active during the first half of our day. Energy fuels activity. Therefore, we should eat the majority of our energy during the highest periods of activity.

3. Failing To Schedule A Cheat Meal. Studies show that individuals who don't allow themselves a treat every so often end up binging on bad foods because they feel restricted to excess. When was the last time you achieved perfection? Yeah…that's what I thought. The same goes for your diet. You can't be on your A-game 100% of the time. So instead of cheating a little bit every day, keep your progress headed in the right direction by eating lean and green 90% of the time with the allocation of a cheat meal - 1 or 2 times a week where you allow yourself to eat what you want WITHOUT GUILT. Enjoy it and then get back on the healthy horse.

4. Using Meal Replacements. We've all known that friend or family member who tried Medifast or the HCG "diet drops" weight-loss strategy. They probably lost a lot of weight…and then gained every last pound (plus a few) back. No surprise there. I mean, really? You expect to survive on some overly-priced, appetite suppressant forever? No. You can't. Our bodies weren't designed that way. Eventually you have to go back to eating real food like the rest of the world. If there's one thing I've learned about diet and exercise it's the importance of sustainability. Whatever your plan is to lose weight or get healthy, needs to be something you can envision yourself doing for the rest of your life. That is the true picture of health.

I'll give you hint: there are only two sustainable ways to lose weight and get healthy. 1. Healthy nutrition, 2. Exercise. Sorry to disappoint folks, but it looks like you're actually going to have to get off your butt and do something if you want to see results. Otherwise, you can accept the all-too-probable reality of being morbidly obese and malnourished (yes, those two things can in fact coincide).

5. Choosing packaged and processed over fresh. I've had conversations with people who say, but Nicole, I'm doing everything right! I eat oatmeal for breakfast, protein and vegetables at lunch and dinner…I don't know why I'm not seeing results! I crack my knuckles, grab my highlighter and sit down to analyse their food log. They are telling the truth but after some inspection I see that they're eating flavored instant oatmeal at breakfast, packaged lunchmeat and seasoned steamable veggies for lunch and dinner with a protein bar as a snack. What's the commonality? Everything comes from a bag or a box. And because the food industry cares more about shelf-life than the condition of your insides they've loaded those seemingly healthy foods up with starch, sodium and sugar. I get it, you're busy. I'm busy. We're all busy. But to what extent? Too busy to take care of the body you demand so much of every day? Too busy to do what you can to encourage a healthy, cancer-free future for yourself? For your children? Too busy to value your quality of life and longevity over the day-to-day chores? Take a step back people. Because if you're that busy, something is terribly wrong.

Spend two hours on the weekend to grill up fresh proteins and steam fresh veggies. Make a double batch of ground turkey or stir fry to have as leftovers throughout the week. Buy whole-grain oats and cook them up yourself. Boil up a dozen eggs for quick on-the-go fuel. Pre-portion out your snacks of nuts, seeds and fruits. eat. real. food. and I promise, you will get out what you put in.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Supermarket Scams. Avoid Them.

Last night I had the privilege of leading a supermarket store tour for emPower Training Systems Biggest Loser team participants, as well as a few clients who wanted to tag along for the fun! It's a little more complex than me telling you that all salad dressings and condiments are in aisle 4, I'm sure you could figure that out all on your own. But did you know that eating from the middle aisles could be contributing to weight gain? How about the fact that you're paying double what you need to for spinach or bagged lettuce!?

When shopping at the supermarket, remember these rules in order to avoid the marketing scams:

1. Fewer ingredients = Healthier food

Additives and preservatives indicate added calories in order to increase shelf-life, not added nutrition. The general rule of thumb is, 5 ingredients or less for healthy-for-you foods. Whip out your glasses and read the small print.

2. "Good sources of" might mean "bad for you"

Cereals, crackers and even Pop-tarts use this catchphrase and it holds zero value whatsoever. The food industry makes these claims, referring to the vitamins processors are required to add to enriched flour. You're not getting anything extra, so don't be fooled. Also, check the order of ingredients. Ingredients are required to be listed in order of predominance, so just because it says "good source of whole grains" doesn't mean whole grains is the 1st ingredient. That box of [insert anything here] could contain more sugar than whole wheat.

3. Skate the perimeter

I'm sure you've heard this one before but all the best things for you can be found on the outside edges of the store. The healthiest items in the supermarket need to stay fresh and have expiration dates. The middle (the aisles) represent the nutritional dead zone, with a few exceptions (e.g. unsalted nuts, quinoa, etc.)

4. Raise your gaze 

Food vendors pay something called "slotting fees" in order to have their most profitable food items placed at eye level of their target audience. Unfortunately, "most profitable" usually means 'cheapest to make', not the healthiest. Ever wonder why the fruit snacks filled with artificial food coloring and hydrogenate oil are on the bottom? That's where your kids eyes roam. Moooooom, can we please get these!? Search high and low for the shelves occupied by smaller companies.

5. Start smart

Don't fall prey to the big, shiny signs that say you're getting a discount. You might not be. Let's break it down: you might get 5 bowls of cereal out of one box (90 cents per meal, without milk). A dozen eggs, however, makes 6 meals (31 cents per meal). Cereal is 3x as expensive and not nearly as healthy. Put it back on the shelf!

6. Buy frozen 

If something isn't in season, buy it frozen if you want your moneys worth. Frozen varieties are often fresher than fresh fruits and vegetables...wait, whaaat? Yep, think about it…those blueberries have been sitting on a truck for days en route to the grocery store and have probably been on the shelf for a few more days. The frozen berries were packaged right away and have been preserved at their freshest ever since. Cheaper, they don't spoil with just as much nutritional value. #win

7. "Reduced fat" might, in fact, be making you fat

Ever wonder why the obesity trend in America has exploded along with the "fat-free" trend? Fat is a necessary macronutrient in our diet. Don't eliminate it and expect your love handles to fall right off. Many times the full-fat versions are much better for you anyway. The fat didn't just disappear, but rather, it was replaced with some other terrible-for-you ingredient like sugar, starch or salt. Take a look at the reduced-fat peanut butter and compare it to the regular stuff next time you're at the store. There's less fat, sure, but I promise you there's more sugar. Eat. Whole. Foods.

8. "Natural" doesn't mean squat

Seriously. Outside of meat and seafood, the term natural has no regulations by the FDA whatsoever. That means something can claim to be natural  and still contain a million ingredients you've never heard of. For example, "Natural 7-up" Yeah, sorry, it might make you feel a little better about drinking it but you're still ingesting garbage. 

9. Don't buy into the hype 

The food industry spends over $30 BILLION (with a B) on advertising each year. Don't choose something based on it's packaging. Read the nutrition label and ingredients. Educate yourself. Sure, the colorful cartoons on the front of the box are cute and who doesn't love the crossword puzzles, but feed your body instead of feeding into those advertising games.

10. Do the math 

Just because it's "two for $3" doesn't mean you're getting a deal! Big, bright signs and strategically placed adverts are used to capture your attention and make you think you're saving money, but that's not always true. 10 for $10 and BAM, they've got you shovelling 9 extra cans into your cart because it's a steal! Right!? Not always. Use your brain.

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

cheap + easy + healthy: Braised Cabbage RECIPE

You hear the word cabbage and cringe, right? Well, you are missing out my friend, because cabbage can be delicious. Let me help you fall in love with the cruciferous veggie. 5 Reasons You Should Learn To Love Cabbage: 

1. Anti-carcinogenic properties. Do you want cancer? That's what I thought. Cabbage contains anthocyanins, which help your body fight off cancer. And considering there are many different kinds of cabbage - purple, green, white, I'm sure you can find a cabbage containing recipe that uses one of them and appeals to your palate.

2. Weight loss/maintenance. Cabbage is low in saturated fat and cholesterol while containing a significant amount of fiber. That's a great equation for a small waistline. Because cabbage contains high amounts of fiber, your belly will be fuller for longer - that's a weight loss WIN.

3. Folates. Folic acid is an essential component of DNA. Yours and mine. If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, friends are getting engaged faster than I can say "ring by spring". You know what that means…this time next year, the little pink and blue announcements will be airing. Guess what? Folic acid is especially important for pregnant moms as it plays a huge role in preventing birth defects. The Cabbage Patch Kids were totally onto something...

4. Strong Bones. High in vitamins C + K, cabbage consumption helps the body fight against infectious diseases and free radicals while keeping your bones strong and warding off osteoporosis.

5. Do you really need another reason to eat cabbage? Listen up. Cabbage contains essential vitamins such as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and thiamin as well as the following minerals: calcium, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, iron and magnesium. Eat. More. Cabbage.

 

That being said…I bought a head of green cabbage. It's been in my fridge for a few days and I had no idea what to do with it. My absolute all-time-favorite is this Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe:

UNSTUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1 small cabbage, chopped 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce (as needed) 1/2 cup water 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef/turkey and onion. Cook, stirring until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.

Add the chopped cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender. Serves 6 to 8.

I could eat that all day every day, but I'm warning you - DON'T! Remember talking about all that fiber? Yeah, well, too much cabbage makes for one obscene food baby, that bloated, full-belly, stuffed-gut feeling. You've heard the expression, 'Too much of a good thing'. It applies perfectly to cabbage. and brussel sprouts. or broccoli. You get the idea...

I digress. Tonight, I wanted to try something new with my lonely head of cabbage. I was looking for something simple seeing as I didn't have much in my empty fridge, so I settled on a Braised Cabbage recipe.

Ingredients: 

- 1 head of cabbage, chopped

- 1 large onion, diced

- 2 TBSP of coconut or olive oil 

- 4 slices of bacon, crumbled

- 1 tsp. dill (fresh or dried)

- ground pepper + sea salt

Directions: In a large skillet or wok, melt oil on medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add cabbage and cook until tender, stirring often. Be patient. In a separate pan, cook bacon until well done and crispy. Once cabbage is soft and carmalized, add dill, salt and pepper. Continue to stir until done. Crumble bacon strips on top and mix together. 

The raw cabbage cooks down quite a bit when added to the heat. My head of cabbage made about 2 servings. It's a simple dish, but unexpectedly sweet and very filling! I think next time I might poach an egg and enjoy it on top of a bed of braised cabbage! Yum!

Fun Facts:

Green Cabbage $1.25 Yellow Onion $0.70 Bacon  $2.89

Total Cost (approx): $4.84 for 2 servings. Cheaper than the dollar menu and a whole lot better for you!

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

a quote by Greg McMillan:

“Bad workouts and races — we all have them and we always will. Accept that the body has an ebb and flow that we don’t quite understand. Some days you just feel ‘off.’ As hard as it is to accept a bad workout or race when there are valid reasons, it’s doubly challenging when there appears to be no reason at all. I used to worry about this, but now I just shrug it off as the quirkiness of the body and mind. Don’t invest in it or over think it. Move on.”
Greg McMillan, in Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes

Am I Overweight?

In the previous post we talked about setting goals. But what if you don't know where that goal line should be? Working as a nutritionist I often get asked the question, how much should I weigh? It's not quite that easy. The answer to that question depends on a few things. First, what are your fitness goals? Are you an elite runner training for a competition? Working on your deadlift at Crossfit? Or just trying to fit into your skinny jeans? All of these are great goals, but your healthy weight range will differ accordingly.  Body Mass Index (BMI) is a universal tool that allows individuals to asses if they are underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight or obese. It uses your height and weight to calculate a figure that falls within one of the four aforementioned categories. While the BMI chart isn't necessarily applicable for everyone (those with a high percentage of lean mass, for example), it is a great tool to use for the average individual. The National Institutes of Health provides a calculator you can find here, using the scale below to assess your weight status. You can also use the BMI chart below for an estimate. 

 

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • Overweight = 25–29.9
  • Obese = BMI of 30 or greater

I'd also recommend taking your measurements (chest, waist, hip, thigh and arm) so you can monitor the inches you're losing/gaining along your journey. I would argue (as would many others in the fitness industry) that the scale is NOT as important as a. how you feel, or b. how your clothes fit. The proportion of muscle vs. fat on your body is more important than how many pounds or kilograms you weigh. Be fit. Be healthy. The scale can be a great tool to use to monitor success, but it may not be applicable to everyone. 

 

This is the beginning. This is where you are starting. Take the challenge and make the changes.

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

How Healthy Am I!?

So, before we dive in to the meaty topics - what to make for dinner tonight, for example, let's find out just how healthy you are. Here are a few questions to ask yourself (and possibly follow-up with your doctor about) before starting any sort of health regimen.  

1. Have you or do you currently smoke or live with someone who smokes?

2. Have you lost or gained weight in the past 6 months for no apparent reason?

3. Do you miss bowel movements some days?

4. Has the smell of your breath changed recently?

5. Have you fainted or come close to fainting recently?

6. Do you have a persistent dull headache?

7. Have you lost motivation, have low energy or find yourself with a 'foggy' brain?

8. Do you exercise less than 90 minutes a week?

9. Do your gums bleed when you brush your teeth?

10. Do you order take out or eat out more than 4x a week?

11. Do you consume fewer than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day?

 

If you answered yes  to any of the aforementioned questions, you are not as healthy as you could be. Don't start freaking out! Most of us are not as healthy as we could be. For those of you overachievers, don't get cocky, just because you answered negatively to all of the questions doesn't mean you're as healthy as you could be either. But that's ok. That's why you're here. Your goal should be to answer as many of these questions as possible with a resounding NO.

Ask yourself what you struggle with most. Perhaps it's addressed on this list, but maybe it isn't. Make a note of your limitations and weaknesses. Now, write down affirmative statements that address these issues and encourage you to be healthier. Be specific. For example, if you find yourself struggling with vegetable consumption, your affirmative goal statement would be something like, "this month I will consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day". Other statements might include, "I will only eat out one time this week" or "by September 23rd I will be 5lbs. lighter", etc. Use an achievable timeline, take small steps and before you know it you'll be feeling fab and looking leaner. 

Psychology Today asserts that people who set goals are not only happier, but achieve more than those who don't. Goals provide focus and direction. For those of you science dorks like myself, there's actually a pretty cool process behind achieving a goal: "Achieving a goal you've set produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure. Reciprocally, dopamine activates neural circuitry that makes you eager to pursue new challenges." So grab a pen and paper or whip out your iPhone notepad and SET SOME GOALS! 

How healthy are you? How healthy do you want to be? 

Eat well. Live well. Be well. 

Happy Birthday BHLH!!

A fresh start; A new beginning; A big, shiny debut for Big Hips Little Hips. IT IS HERE!!

 a slice of birthday magic.

BHLHs is a healthy space where you can find delicious recipes, fun workout playlists and all sorts of bits and bobs pertaining to your health and wellness. I want to help you find happiness in health. So when you're tempted to order take out or skip the gym, you can come here and find inspiration, motivation and sometimes even step-by-step instructions for healthy "how to's".
 

You can be a twenty-something, middle aged or over the hill - age is not a limiting factor in achieving good health. Whether by prevention or treatment, I ardently believe that the way you treat your mind and body can greatly improve your quality of life. So here's to being healthy! hip hip, Hooray!!
 

I have a crazy passion for helping people achieve their goals in wellness. Losing weight, gaining lean muscle mass, increasing your energy levels, training for your first 5K, getting rid of your diabetes (or maybe just avoiding diabetes all together)...no matter what your goals may be, I want to help. Let me be your accountability partner. Together, we can work toward looking great in that beach body you've been dreaming of, and most importantly, feeling fantastic on the inside. As a nutritionist and personal trainer I live and breathe this stuff. I mean, seriously, ask anyone, I can talk diet and deadlifts until you're blue in the face. It is my personal mission to ensure that you have the tools and resources available to you so that together, we can take care of your body. It's the only one you'll get, so treat it well. Eat well. Live well. Be well.
 

With the help of a few fabulous friends (shout out to the freakishly talented Brooke and T.J. Mousetis of BCP and walk in love.) BHLH has a new home. Isn't it gorgeous!? Feel free to suggest blog topics by leaving comments or shooting me an email - nnmarie@gmail.com. Be an advocate of your health.
 

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well.