How to Handle Your Conflicting Goals

As a Health Coach, I am always talking about goals with my clients. Clients have 1-2 specific goals we base our session discussions around, and often what comes up, is a struggle with goals that appear to conflict. They want to get 7 hours of sleep, but also want to get up early to make a morning strength training class. They want to cook meals at home, but want to spend more time with their kids, and meal planning and grocery shopping take up precious time. They want to cut out alcohol but don’t want to alienate your friends. These are routine choices that aren’t easy, and often leave you frustrating feeling like you can’t win.

It is frustrating! There isn’t suddenly going to be more time, and your goals won’t suddenly separate into neat little time blocks. So, what’s one to do? Here are two strategies to employ to avoid being paralyzed when your goals butt heads:

Find Clarity

While this is easier said than done, finding clarity in your goals can make these tug-of-war decisions much easier. Finding clarity happens when you discover your why. It’s your big picture goal. Your want that overrides other concerns. For example, your family is going on a hiking trip next spring, but walking more than an hour leaves you winded with achy knees. Your ideal picture is keeping up with everyone on this hike and actually enjoying it rather than huffing through in pain.

Reaching this goal could mean working on leg strengthening exercises, dropping some weight, and increasing your cardio endurance. When the choice to go out for happy hour after work or go to the gym to strength train, instead of debating pros and cons of each, your choice is already made; enjoying your upcoming hike matters above all else, and going to the gym will get you there, not a drink or two.

The hard part is when you aren’t exactly sure what you want, or why you want it. You likely have a lot of “should’s”; things that sound like good goals, things that others are working towards. But if you pick an arbitrary goal that doesn’t deeply mean something to you, it can be hard to navigate tough choices.

Let’s look at the example of getting adequate sleep versus a morning workout – both healthy and positive goals. If your big goal is to beat your best time in a 10K next month, exercise is probably going to override sleep, at least while you’re training. There will be many nights you can get both, but when life seems to work against you and you’re forced to choose, it’s the 6:30am speed workout that is going to help you run faster. On the other hand, if your big picture goal is days where you aren’t falling asleep at your desk come 3 o’clock, hitting that magic 7-9 hours each night is more important to you.

Combine and Conquer 

Often we fool ourselves into thinking it’s one or the other; that you have two extreme options when a conflict of goals arise. Many times this simply isn’t the case, and you can find middle ground. Look for ways to compromise or, better yet, combine your two options.

Back to our earlier examples; you want to spend more time with your kid, but also want to get a homemade dinner on the table and you can’t find time for both. Making a grocery trip and cooking the thing you do with your kid is a way to combine these things. I can hear you groaning, “my child hates being dragged to the store!” What about when you’re choosing a recipe together? You’re now both working on a project together, deciding what to make, what you’ll need to buy, and they get a hands-on cooking lesson as you work together in the kitchen. Letting a 5-year-old prepare quinoa isn’t exactly feasible, but selecting a simpler recipe or having them be in charge of mixing ingredients together, certainly is.


Search for that middle ground. If you want to cut out alcohol, but fear you won’t see your friends as much, you’re looking at this as either/or, when there are plenty of ways to do both. Instead of going to happy hour, suggest a movie or manicure. Back to the sleep vs. morning workout, see if there’s a class right after work or on your lunch break. Don’t write off a goal because your plan A conflicts with another goal; get creative and your options can open up.

If you’d like guidance finding clarity in your goals, or could use some accountability in reaching them, my Health Coaching program is for you! Email me at and let’s make a plan!

20-Minute Arm & Core Circuit

For interval workouts I use this very simple (and free!) Interval Timer app that allows you to set your work intervals, rest intervals, and the number of rounds. A buzzer (or whatever sounds effect you choose) signals each period, making it easy to track where you are in the workout. For this workout, you’ll set the work interval for :45 seconds, rest interval for :15 seconds, 5 rounds repeating 4 times.



8 Pumpkin Recipes

Canned pumpkin puree is a staple ingredient in my pantry, year round. But once fall hits, it’s open season on all things pumpkin! Baked goods and dessert recipes that have pumpkin are a dime a dozen, but there are some amazing savory and filling dinner recipes with pumpkin as the star of the show. Here are 8 fall-tastic pumpkin recipes to enjoy for dinner!

Orecchiette with Pancetta, Pumpkin and Broccoli Rabe

orecchiette-pumpkin-pastaFor full recipe go to

Vegetarian Pumpkin and Kale Pasta Bake

vegetarian-pumpkin-and-kale-pasta-bake-blogFor full recipe go to

Turkey and White Bean Pumpkin Chili

crockpot-turkey-white-bean-pumpkin-chili-550x360For full recipe go to
(I added a can of diced tomatoes to this recipe and subbed one can white beans for black beans)

Pumpkin , Spinach, and Walnut Spaghetti

pumpkin-spinach-walnut-spaghetti-top-down-800x533For full recipe go to

Chicken Bacon Pumpkin Pasta Bake

chicken-bacon-pumpkin-pastaFor full recipe go to

Creamy Pumpkin Alfredo Penne

a-creamy-pumpkin-alfredo-penne-pasta-made-with-melted-cheese-that-will-not-only-satisfy-your-need-for-comfort-food-but-remove-any-guilt-of-eating-pasta-healthy-wholewheat-pasta-pumpkinFor full recipe

Pumpkin Lasagna

pumpkin-and-spinach-lasagnaFor full recipe go to

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Coconut and Pumpkin Seeds

curried-pumpkin-soup-with-coconut-3For full recipe go to

Pumpkin is a fun flavor to work with, especially in the fall, and in a pureed form can make your sauces super creamy!

Do you regularly use pumpkin in recipes other than dessert?

What is your favorite way to cook with pumpkin?


Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Butternut squash is a regular ingredient on my menu; one of those items I buy even with no recipe in mind. This week I did have a recipe to make (Oreccietta with Pancetta, Pumpkin/Butternut squash, and Broccoli Rabe), but was left with half a squash to get creative with! After a quick scan of my pantry I had a plan: Stuffed shells. Aside from the squash, I decided to add spinach for more veggies, color, and bulk, and the creaminess would come from ricotta.



4 Things You Should NEVER Apologize For

Have you ever noticed – I mean really noticed – how often you apologize in a given day? As women, we’re brought up to be polite, accommodating, and agreeable. These aren’t bad qualities, but they are often so engrained that we apologize unnecessarily for things that need no apology. Once I started noticing all the times I nonchalantly uttered, “sorry, but…”, I realized it was practically using it as a conjunction. How ridiculous is that?!

The thing is, I know I’m not alone. I hear my friends and – and read from others’ social media – masking their emotions and actions with sorry’s at regular intervals, in similar circumstances that simply do not require it.

Here are 4 things you should never apologize for:

What You Eat

“Sorry, but I’m eating this whole burger”, “Sorry, but can I get the dressing on the side?”, “I’m getting my own fries, sorry!” First of all, no one cares what you’re eating. If that is your friend’s or date’s biggest concern, there are other things that need to be examined here! You never need to justify what you you eat, to others or yourself. Waiters are there to give you what you want, no need to apologize for your specifications.

Take a cue from Meg Ryan:meg-ryan-ordering

If everyone is ordering a salad and you want the pizza, get the pizza, apologies be damned! Maybe you did have a tough workout that morning, and finish every last crumb at lunch. These are simply two things that happened, one does not justify the other and in what world does finishing what you ordered need a reason?

When you dine with a group, notice how many friends offer up apologies in regards to their meals. Click To Tweet

The next time you’re out with a group, notice how many of your friends offer up apologies in regards to their meals. Notice your own word choice throughout the meal.

Saying No

Have you every said “yes” to something – a favor, a task, a meeting, etc. – and immediately thought, “Ugh, I really don’t want to. Whatever, I’ll deal with it later.”? Then there are those occasions you say, “no”, yet ramble on with reasons and excuses why you can’t? We feel we need to apologize after saying “no”. We offer up things other than “this doesn’t work for me now”, and give a million little reasons – real or not – why we can’t, always uttering “sorry” multiple times. There’s no need for this. Be concise and polite in your, “no”, and move on. A simple, “thanks for thinking of me, but I’m not able to do this at the moment.” will do.

It’s harder than it sounds! We want to help others, to make things easier for those we love, even when it causes undue stress and inconvenience in our lives. It’s not as if you’re saying no to everyone who asks you to do anything, I’m sure you say yes when you’re able to. For those times you aren’t able to accommodate someones last minute request, there’s no need to apologize. Your time is precious, and deciding what’s worth spending it on is your decision without justification.

Asking For Help

Help comes in many forms, and we often find ourselves asking for forgiveness from those we need assistance from. From small things like asking where something is located, “I’m sorry, could you show me where the bakery is?”, to larger things like help with a project, “I don’t want to bother you, but could you help me with this rewrite? Sorry!” Often, all that is needed here is a thank you. “Could you point me towards the deli? Thanks!”, gets you what you need without feeling guilty.

Just as much as we like to help others, others are typically happy to help us. Remember that they are in control of what they agree to, just like you are the one to accept a request from a friend. If they can’t help you right now, they’ll tell you. No need to gush how sorry you are for bothering them.

Sometimes we’re actually saying sorry to ourselves, because asking for help feels like we’ve given up or failed. Instead of viewing asking for help as giving in, try looking at it as a strategic move. Sure, you could try to piece the end of a project together and hope it gets done and is done correctly, or you could ask for a little help from a coworker and ensure it’s done on time and right the first time.

Getting Emotional

Just like we don’t want to burden others with our questions, it’s common to keep your emotions to yourself as to not make someone else uncomfortable. We are human, we all have emotions, and shutting them down or apologizing when they work their way into our conversations is not emotionally healthy.

Apologizing when emotions work their way into conversations is not emotionally healthy Click To Tweet

This happens a lot to me. I’ll be recapping an issue I’ve been struggling with to my husband, Brett, and my voice will start to crack the more worked up I get. “Sorry, it’s just really frustrating”. Stop. What am I sorry for? This is a person who I share my life with, and getting upset, sad, and frustrated is part of that. I’m not yelling at him (which can be a scenario where a “sorry” is called for!), I’m simply venting what I’m feeling.

I see why we do it; we don’t want to appear weak, to seem like we’re falling apart. But letting others into our heads and hearts can be the opposite. Have you ever had a friend open up to you and cry? Did you think, “wow, she needs to get it together!” No. You may have thought she was brave for confiding in you. Honest, for opening up and being vulnerable. The more comfortable we are with sharing how we feel with others close to us, the more in tune we are with what we’re feeling. By not shutting off, burying, and excusing ourselves when emotions bubble up, we’re forced to deal with what’s going on. We can work through it with others instead of in solitude.

Take notice of your apologies. There are times you do owe someone a “sorry”; there are times we are in the wrong. But more often than necessary, we offer them without reason, for things we should feel confident and comfortable doing. Eating what you want, protecting your time, asking for help, and showing your emotions are all things that need no apology.



A Fit Family Affair

You’ve undoubtedly heard how integral exercise is to your self-care regime, and while it provides an easy outlet for restorative me-time, it can be a conflict for moms who don’t always want to trade quality time with their families. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be an either/or choice! Here are 4 ways to incorporate your family and get everyone moving more:

Take a Class

There are a number of reasons group fitness classes are a great idea. There is a different energy when you’re in a room of people all working hard; whether it’s strength training, yoga, or kickboxing, you’ll challenge yourself just a bit more when you aren’t alone. You also have the luxury of letting someone else take charge. Instead of figuring out how many reps to do, what weight to use, or what exercise to do next, all you have to do is follow the lead of a certified pro!

Lastly, classes have a start and end time, making it easy to put on your calendar. Taking a class with your family is the perfect way to bond with them while not being the one telling them what to do. It gives you all a set weekly time to spend together, and each can challenge themselves at their own level. Signing up for lessons is another way to stay moving as a family. Brush up on an old sport you haven’t played in years and your kids haven’t played, or do something out of everyones comfort zone by taking a hip hop dance class!

Create a Challenge 

Let your creativity flow with this one! You could create an obstacle course in the back yard (or house if you have the space!) and compete for individual time or teams (especially fun on big family vacations or holidays). Circuit training is another option. Set up stations – you don’t need equipment, bodyweight exercises like pushups, burpees, squats, and lunges are perfect – and track total time or how many reps of each exercise everyone can get done in a set amount of time.

Make a weeklong challenge where you see who can do the most pushups, burpees, situps, etc. over the course of the week. Play an active game like tag, wheel barrow relay, or card draw (assign an exercise for each suit and draw; spades could be jumping jacks so a 10 of spades means everyone does 10 jumping jacks). Make an obstacle course out of playground equipment and even get your kids’ friends involved!

Have a Destination

Make exercise the side effect of a fun day. Take a bike ride to a local hot spot or end with a picnic, walk the long route to the park and include sections of long jumps, side shuffles and squat jumps as you go, or go on a hike! Picking a destination or fun activity to do when you arrive is a reward to everyone for exercising AND family time. In all honesty, bike rides with my husband often end with ice cream, but at least we’re doing something active before indulging in a double scoop of butter pecan!

Commercial Breaks

You likely have a show – or shows – the whole family looks forward to and watch religiously. This is often seen as family time, so instead of cutting off the tube, incorporate some movement around this time. Decide on a theme for that show and do corresponding exercises during each commercial break – or if you DVR or watch via Netflix, pick a trigger like voting discussions in challenge shows or fight scenes in an action series. For example, if the theme is legs, you can do squats during the first commercial, a wall sit during the next and alternating lunges during another. Here is a core themed workout to try out:


While you’ll still have workouts you prefer to do on your own, incorporating at least one family centered session a week makes a big difference in the eyes of not only your family, but how you view exercise. It keeps it fun, and puts your goals in perspective. Getting your family to workout with you is great for them physically, and helps them understand that exercise can be fun and is a part of a healthy life.

Do you incorporate your family in your workouts? Tell us how in the comments!


Blue Apron

I knew the concept of Blue Apron; a meal delivery service that delivers fresh ingredients along with killer recipes to your door, and all you do is cook. I’ve been through the website, read reviews and menus and heard nothing but great things from my cousin who uses it regularly. But for some reason the $50 off promo card sat on my desk for weeks. I guess I felt there could be a better time to use it, a week it would be hard to get to the grocery, or didn’t feel like planning dinner.

Last week the opportunity finally presented itself. Wednesday my husband and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary, and decided instead of going out dinner, we would cook something different together at home, using Blue Apron!

You may be picturing this

but in reality it was more like this

But I digress. After a deliciously successful anniversary dinner, I just had to share my experience. Here’s the rundown:


There are two main options when ordering; 2-Person Plan and Family Plan. With the 2-Person Plan you receive one delivery a week with 3 different meals portioned for 2 people, while the Family Plan serves 4 people and you can select 2 or 4 recipes a week. Brett doesn’t eat seafood so I edited my meal preference to exclude seafood and shellfish. You can see the menu for the week, and unless you are getting the family plan with 4 recipes a week (which would be all the recipes) you can select which recipes you want.


I only wanted meals for that week, so I selected to skip the delivery for the following 3 weeks. More on that tactic later!


Delivery was super easy. You select which day you want your meals delivered (you can change the day or if you want to skip that week within a certain timeframe), so I selected Wednesday. I went to walk the dog and my Blue Apron box was on my doorstep! One box contained everything I needed for our 3 meals. The only items they assume you have on hand are salt, pepper, and oil.


Ice packs were placed at the bottom within the insulated bag so everything would still be fresh if I hadn’t been home to receive it. All ingredients were labeled and the recipe cards showed which items went with which recipe.


I placed the insulated bag in the fridge and waited until it was time for the fun to begin!


As of now, I have made two of our three recipes and they were delicious! I honestly don’t know which I liked more; the Korean Pork Tacos or Brown Butter and Thyme Gnocchi…

But back to the recipes! Like I said, we opted out of the seafood/shellfish meals, but every recipe I viewed on the site looked delish. When you’re done with your meal, you’re left with an awesome recipe to use later, which can also be found on their website in case you don’t like saving physical recipes like I do. As a health coach, I appreciate that they include the nutritional information, and each recipe that I saw had a good balance of carbs/fat/protein.



We decided to make the Korean Pork Tacos, set out the recipe card, sorted out our ingredients, poured some wine and got to work.


Now, I enjoy cooking. I like filtering through recipes, trying new techniques and cooking styles, even grocery shopping isn’t a dread. (I will note that getting to the grocery isn’t my favorite, especially in the winter). So, while I am not particularly intimidated by cooking something new, I completely understand how out of your element it can be! These meals sound complicated, “Korean Pork Tacos with Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw”, but the recipes are not! Not only are there pictures, but you can also go to the website and see videos as well as read tips from other users.

blue-apron-recipe-card(recipe card front and back)

I chopped items for the slaw while Brett started cooking the pork. They only send exactly what you need for each recipe, which seems funny to see only 3 radishes and 2 green onions, but you don’t have to measure and you don’t waste produce.


We took our time and were done in about a half hour.

korean-pork-tacosKorean Pork Tacos with Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw

14500399_670244483140448_8044675457860522916_oBrown Butter and Thyme Gnocchi

Final Thoughts

To be completely honest, my plan was to use the free code to get my meals, test it out and cancel my account. As I mentioned before, I love to cook, I’m not intimidated by many recipes and I have the time and patience for the grocery. However, with all of those things on my side, I sincerely plan to use Blue Apron again!

For me, these were my big takeaways:

1. It was a nice break from deciding what I wanted to cook that week. Not to search for two recipes that used only a half pound of turkey so I could use the whole pound that the grocery sells. Even as someone concerned with the ingredients and nutritional value of my meals, I didn’t feel the need to scour through each recipe because they are all realistically healthy.

2. We tried things I’ve never cooked before, and now have those items (gnocchi for example) in my repertoire and recipes saved.

3. Even if I didn’t have a discount code, the meals broke down to – at most – $10 per person/per meal. At first I thought that was kind of steep, but then I thought about how I didn’t have to go to the grocery (time and stress saver), and how no ingredients went to waste. Sure, I may spend less on what I use when I go to the store, but I’m often throwing items away because they go bad. Also, the quality of the items they send are as good or better than what I buy.

Also, If you travel, this is a great way to still cook delicious meals without stressing over when you can get to the store, or leaving town with a fridge full of food that will go bad. Intimidated by cooking? These recipes are accessible and with the support of detailed recipe cards, videos and an online community, you can comfortably learn how to cook at home.

It’s easy to skip deliveries and you can cancel your account at any time so money and food aren’t wasted. I see why people are loving Blue Apron! Have you used this or another meal delivery service? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!


YOLO! Vs. Healthy Balance

You arrive to a cookout with the best of intentions. You’ve had a healthy snack at home so you aren’t starving, you plan to have a burger over a brat because that’s what you’re truly looking forward to, you’ll stop at 2 drinks and only have dessert if it’s homemade. You’ve got this!

Then you get there, the music’s playing and you think of how few cookouts there are left in the summer and…

What just happened? You used the YOLO mentality to excuse yourself for doing exactly what you want, future self be damned! I get it. I’ve been in the exact same situation. Because making healthy, balanced choices while simultaneously feeling you’re getting the most our of life is hard! The thing is, it’s not suddenly going to be easy. This battle of living like there’s no tomorrow, and living so you’ll have better tomorrow’s is with you for life.

Here are 3 ways to find middle ground:

Make YOLO! the Exception, Not the Rule

Tossing around, “You only live once!!” every opportunity you have is like saying “I love you” to everyone. It totally loses it’s meaning and power. I’m sure you’ll have a great time going to a movie after work instead of the gym class you planned on taking, or staying out until 3am making it impossible to meet your friend at 6:30am for a run. But if you put your goal actions and best intentions on the back burner regularly, you dull the experience and are no longer being spontaneous.

It doesn’t have to be a deep discussion with yourself, but for just a moment weigh how blowing off your original healthier choice compares with the fun in question. It’s rare that this will be the only time you can do whatever impulsive activity is at hand, so think if it’s worth it, and sometimes it will be. For example, I rarely go out for happy hour during the week. But my husband and I finally connected with friends we hadn’t seen in over a year, and the best day and time we could all see each other was over a happy hour drink on a Tuesday. This was worth it to me. I hadn’t seen them in a long time, we had a ton to catch up on, and with a new job on their horizon, we weren’t sure when the next opportunity would arise.

By making these times an exception to the norm, you really are making these moments special and unexpected.

Redefine Your Interpretation

YOLO doesn’t have to equate to unhealthy indulgences. The thought of only living once can ignite a fire in you to make your time count, to live the way you want your life to be. Personally, I use this towards my running. When I think I’d rather sleep in then get a run in under the rising sun, I think of how many people can’t. Can’t experience the endorphins, the quiet streets, the feel of footsteps falling loudly under heavy breaths and pumping heart. I may not be able to do this forever, so I’m going to get out of bed and do it today because I can. 

You only live once, don’t you want it to be as long and vibrant as you can make it? Sure, being the life of the party until the wee hours and ordering pizza because you don’t wan’t to cook sounds vibrant in the moment, but how do you feel when you wake up versus how you feel when you’re on top of your game?

Again, this isn’t to say you can’t have those late nights of take-out and bad movies with your best friend, we need these, too, but they’re best enjoyed sprinkled in instead of being the main course.

Live Towards Your Goals

Often the idealized fun-filled life that we see plastered through our feeds isn’t the one of your goals. Define what you want out of your one life and make that ideal drive your decisions. Your goal of launching your own business may mean a last minute ticket to an entrepreneur conference across the country is your way of living once.

Being clear with yourself of what you want out of your one life will make it easier to decide how and with whom you want to spend your time, money and energy on. Defining your word of the year can make this vision more real, so take the time to pick a word or mantra for your life and illustrate where your YOLO choices will take you!



Hunger Cues

“Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.” While this simple advice sums up nourishing yourself in a healthy and sustainable way, it is one of the most challenging things to do. After all, if it were easy, the diet and weight loss industry wouldn’t be over $60 billion in the US!

Have you ever suddenly felt your stomach growl and realize if you don’t stuff some type of food in your mouth NOW, you’re either going to die or murder someone? How many times have you finished your meal and felt so uncomfortably full your only option is to lay down?


Why is it so hard to feed ourselves an appropriate amount? There are a variety of contributors that throw off our true hunger cues; chronic dieting, stress and other emotions, oversized portions, the media, and social norms, to name the big ones. We eat to feel comforted and to be social, we avoid eating because we’re dieting or we’re so busy we don’t make time. As an adult, you’ve been eating – or not eating – based on nearly every reason other than your actual hunger for years, making you out of touch with them completely.

Recognizing and listening to your hunger cues is a critical part of weight management. Many of us abide by the clock when it comes to meals. You eat breakfast first thing when you wake up, or get to work, lunch is at noon, maybe a snack between 3-4 and dinner is when you get home. Have you noticed you eat at odd times and a little haphazardly on the weekends? You don’t have the built in schedule to tell you when to eat and it can seem like a free-for-all!

Recognizing and listening to your hunger cues is a critical part of weight management. Click To Tweet

Now, think of how a child eats, before all of these “rules” and social aspects force their way into our eating habits. They let you know when they are hungry, they eat what they like, and – notoriously – stop when they are full, not necessarily when their plate is cleared. Their bodies – just like yours – give them the information they need on how much to eat and when. The difference is, we learned to override this information.

To get back to your hunger cues, you need to be in tune with what your body needs. That sounds a little woo-woo, but stay with me! Your goal is to pay attention to what your body is telling you it needs, instead of of what your feelings and brain are telling you it wants.

To get back to your hunger cues, you need to be in tune with what your body needs. Click To Tweet

Here are ways to tune into your hunger cues:

Hunger scale

We know when we’re hangry and when we’re so overstuffed we feel sick. But it’s hard to identify all the stops in between. Being able to recognize shifts in your hunger by being able to rank it on a hunger scale can save you from getting to either end of the spectrum.


Check in with yourself the next time you reach for a meal or snack, and determine where your hunger falls. Ideally, you should be eating when you’re around a 3-4, and putting the utensils down when you’re around a 6. The closer you can keep to the 4-6 range, the more in control your eating habits will be.

Remember, it takes about 20 minutes to realize how full you are, so by slowing down or stopping at a 5, you won’t suddenly feel you’re at a 9. If you’re unsure, drink some water and reevaluate (we often confuse thirst with hunger). Ask yourself if an apple sounds good or if only what you’re craving will satisfy you. This isn’t real hunger; this is a craving. Take the clock and other cues out of this scale, (i.e. “it’s 1pm, I should be hungry now”), instead only focus on how your mind and stomach feel at that point.

Do this for a full week and not only will you be quicker at determining where your hunger falls, you’ll stop relying on outside cues to tell you when to eat.

Emotional hunger

Many of the reasons we eat when we’re not hungry, are emotional. Whether it’s a stressful day at work, a tough conversation with a loved one, or simply being overtired, we reach for food to solve our problems. Before you eat, run through this checklist to determine if emotional triggers are what’s causing your “hunger”:

-Am I stressed?
-Did I get enough sleep?
-Am I procrastinating/avoiding something?
-Am I eating this to celebrate or punish?

If any of these ring true, get out of the kitchen and do something that will actually help you feel better. If you’re putting off cleaning the bathrooms by snacking on whatever you find in the fridge, not only are the bathrooms not clean, you now feel stuffed and didn’t even enjoy what you ate.

Notice the clock – or set a timer – and do something for 10 minutes. In the bathroom example, promise to at least clean the sinks. If you got 5 hours of sleep last night, set an alarm for 20 minutes and lay down. If you want to celebrate your promotion by getting yourself a cupcake, call a friend and gush to them instead. If after 10 minutes you’re still thinking about food and are actually hungry, have a snack. But, most likely, you’ll have moved on to something else.

Social hunger

I often recommend my clients try ordering first when out with a big group. Why? Because of social hunger cues. You may have been ready to order the healthier menu item of grilled salmon and fresh greens, but when 3 of your friends order first and get a burger, enchilada, and chicken parm, your healthy choice may not sound as good. Plus, they are all ordering indulgent items, why shouldn’t you?

How about when you’re at a party and after having your fill of food, you start talking to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Then she reaches for the chip bowl and before you know it you’ve helped her polish it off. These social hunger cues can be hard to detect because they are so engrained in our routine behavior.

– Ask yourself if you’d order what you ordered, or snack when you snack, if you were by yourself.
– Order first when with a group
– Chew gum or get a coffee so you won’t be tempted to snack just becuase others are
– Stand away from the buffet or snacks at a party once you’re done eating, and have a drink/water in your hand to occupy yourself

Visual hunger

Our eyes really are larger than our stomachs. When you go into a bakery and see dozens of beautiful pastries, it’s easy to cave and get one. They look so good! When you keep chips and snacks on the counter, it’s much more likely you’ll have a handful, while if they were tucked away in a cabinet you wouldn’t suddenly feel you need some chips.

You can set yourself up for success with a few tactics:

– Keep junk food in closed cabinets, and fruit in plain sight.
– Ask yourself, if the food in questions would be appealing to you if it weren’t presented so nicely
– Avoid scouring food blogs and cooking shows excessively (notice if this makes a difference in your habits)
– Walk right past the samples at the grocery, and picture how many hands have been in there!

Hunger is tricky! Understanding how hungry you are and why you’re eating is a process that won’t be understood in one day or even a week. But, the more you ask yourself these questions and bring awareness to the situations around your eating habits, the easier it will be to stay in that 4-6 range on the hunger scale.

These tactics are exactly what I work with my clients on. We talk about what they struggle with, and determine small steps they can take to understand and manage these cues. If you would like guidance and accountability when it comes to healthier eating habits, consistent exercise and more, my health coaching program is for you!

Email me today to discover how health coaching can help you reach your goals!




Rules of Recovery

Rules of Recovery

So, you started strength training 3 days a week (go, you!), with a goal of building muscle and reducing body fat. After a couple months, you’re seeing some progress, so you decided to ramp it up to 5 days, and add in cardio on the other days, because more is better..right?

Or, you’re training for a marathon and decide each training run should push the pace, and the more distance you run the better.

Wrong. When you’re performing intense workouts (intense for you – anything that is a challenge to your body), you’re creating microscopic tears in your muscles. Don’t worry, this is the entire point of working out! Because, what happens next is as the muscles repair themselves through rest and proper nutrition, they grow in size and strength. The key to results is giving your muscles the time and resources they need to repair.

The key to results is giving your muscles the time and resources they need to repair. Click To Tweet

There are two major components of recovery I’m talking about today; Physical and Nutritional. Let’s look at why they are important, and different ways to incorporate these aspects into your training.

Physical Recovery

Like I mentioned briefly, your muscles need to repair themselves after a tough workout, through a cellular process (protein synthesis) that rebuilds broken down tissue, resulting in a bigger and stronger muscle. (This is a very basic explanation, and the exact process is still being studied). This happens when your body is resting, so giving ample time for them to recover is imperative. Here are a few areas to focus on to maximize muscle recovery through physical actions:

Recovery Time
Generally, you want to leave at minimum a full day between strenuous workouts. If you do full body strength training and workout on Monday, wait until Wednesday before your next strength training session. If you like to strength train more often or want to spend less time per session, split training may be for you. You can do upper-body one day, and lower-body the next, allowing your upper-body to recover.

For those doing intense cardio training (think sprint training, hill repeats, Tabata plyometrics, or long runs for endurance athletes), the same concept applies. As a run coach, I have my runners have a rest or yoga day following their long run, and a shorter steady state run the day after interval training.

When creating a training plan, plug in your hard-effort workouts first so they take priority and are spread out, then build recovery time around them.

Get Enough Sleep
I put sleep as a number one priority for better health for a reason. As you sleep you’re recharged not only mentally, but physically. As trainer Nick Ebner explains to Men’s Health,

As we sleep, energy consumption is lowered, allowing us to use the high-quality food we eat during the day to more efficiently build muscle. Growth hormone is naturally released, improving muscular recovery and regeneration. Also, as we sleep the brain recharges. This is important for building muscle because a rested brain is a motivated and focused brain. – Nick Ebner, Men’s Health

Aim for 7-9 hours a night, but consider getting extra Zzz’s on high training days or the week leading up to a big event. For those with kids, demanding jobs, and a bursting calendar, try to fit in power naps.

Stretching and Massage
To be able to perform correct movement patterns and ensure your muscles are ready for whatever workout you throw at them, a solid pre- and post-workout stretching routine is a must.

Before your workout, go with a dynamic stretching routine, taking your body through similar movement patterns for your workout. If you’re lifting heavy on leg day, start with some body weight squats, hip hinges and lunges. If you’re running, leg swings and gate openers are great. Here is a quick dynamic warm up to give you some ideas. After your workout is a great time for static stretching.

Massages aren’t just a luxury or treat after a tough workout. In a 2012 study, massage was found to have positive effects on muscle recovery.

Tarnopolsky and his team found that massage therapy reduced exercise-related inflammation by dampening activity of a protein called NF-kB.

Massage also seemed to help cells recover by boosting amounts of another protein called PGC-1alpha, which spurs production of new mitochondria — tiny organelles inside cells that are crucial for muscle energy generation and adaptation to endurance exercise. –Eryn Brown,

If you can’t budget regular massage sessions into your training cycle, try this foam rolling routine for an affordable at-home alternative.

Nutritional Recovery

Your body is a machine that needs enough of the right fuel to run at it’s best. Food can be medicine or poison, it’s up to you. Sounds drastic, but it’s true.

Quality Calories
Think of how your body feels – energy level, mood, comfort – after a burger, milkshake and fries, versus how you feel after a piece of grilled salmon, roasted cauliflower and quinoa. To work at their best and recover properly, your muscles need real, whole foods, not processed fillers.

There’s no one diet (by diet I mean way of eating) that is best for everyone, but focusing on a balance of complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats in each meal will set you up for success. Pay attention to how your body reacts to what you put in it, and how you feel during your workouts after eating certain foods.

What you put in your body before and immediately after a workout plays a big role in how your workouts go and how efficiently your body recovers. For tips and ideas on what to eat before and after you exercise, check out this post!

Quantity Calories
You’ll probably notice an increase in hunger when you ramp up your workouts. Getting the right kinds of calories is one thing, but getting enough of the right calories is just as important. Running 15 miles doesn’t mean you can eat the entire pizza, but it does mean you will need more calories to support the rebuilding of muscle tissue and replace what you burned.

Personally, I like to increase my calories throughout the day. Add an extra snack mid morning and/or mid afternoon, and bulk up what you already eat with healthy additions like avocado on your sandwich, peanut butter in your smoothie, or flaxseed oil in dressings and sauces.

Water is critical to good overall health, and when it comes to recovery it’s just as important as what you eat.

Water helps all of our functions. A few examples are more efficient nutrient uptake, lower levels of stress on the heart, improved skin tone, and better hair quality. – Jeff Kuhland,

Especially when you have a tough workout on the calendar, make sure you’re not just chugging water right before. As we tell our marathon training program participants, “drink early, and drink often”. Pay attention to the color of your urine. It will be a pale yellow when you are well hydrated, and darker if you need more water. Feeling thirst means you are already somewhat dehydrated, so do not rely on thirst to guide your drinking habits. Take water breaks throughout a long workout, and make a point to replenish after you finish, even if you do not feel quenched.

Rest days are just as important as training days. Click To Tweet

Rest days are just as important as training days. To get the results you are working so hard in the gym for, it’s imperative to allow time for your muscles to recover. Through rest, massage, getting enough of the right foods and water, you’ll be primed to reap all the benefits of your training!