How to Eat for Energy!

On my client intake form I ask, “On a scale from 1-10, how satisfied are you in the following areas”. I list 9 topics of wellness, and “Energy” rarely gets a high score. I’m not surprised. The busy women I work with, don’t have much wiggle room in their schedules! You may get the recommended 7+ hours sleep, but with a 6am wake up call, it’s easy to feel drained in the late afternoon.

There are different ways to tackle your personal energy crisis, and what you eat is a big one. As I say with everything in health and fitness, there’s no one thing to eat or one thing to avoid that will be a magic bullet. And that’s OK! There are small changes and tips that will maximize your energy levels and don’t require drastic or unrealistic changes.

There’s no one thing to eat or avoid that will be a magic bullet. That’s OK! Click To Tweet

Here are my tips to maximize your energy level through nutrition, along with actionable strategies that fit your life!

Avoid Extremes (Hangry and Overstuffed)

I immediately shared a meme, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hangry”, because I related so hard! When you go too long without fueling your body, it’s not just your eyes that start to close. You lose patience, brain power, creativity, and productivity. I see this with many women who are so hyper focused on everything else, they see it’s 3pm and realize their stomach is growling because they never stopped for lunch. Or, they consciously skip meals to “save” calories. Either way, this sets you up for an energy drain.

When you haven’t eaten in a while, and your body is scraping by for energy, it tries to conserve energy where it can and slows your metabolism and other functions. Your brain functions off sugar, and when you haven’t given it adequate fuel, your blood sugar drops leaving you feeling sluggish.

On the flip side, stuffing yourself silly is a recipe for a nap (i.e. food coma) by sending your body into overdrive, leading to impaired insulin function.

How: Pay attention to hunger cues!

The caveat here is that how often you need to eat differs from person to person. We grow up with eating times determined for us – from breakfast before you’re rushed to school, lunch squeezed into a 20 minute window between certain classes, and dinner based on when your parents feed you – never stopping to feel how hungry or not hungry we are.

What I go over with my clients to help avoid the dreaded hanger crash, is the Hunger Scale. On the scale, 0 is starving/dizzy/weak and 10 is overstuffed to the point of sick. To keep your energy and blood sugar on an even keel, knowing your personal hunger cues and food needs is crucial.

For more on learning your hunger cues check out this post, and for a truth bomb about hunger (and why it’s not a bad thing!) listen to this episode of Rebooted Body podcast!

A few more tips:

Starting your morning with something in your tank is key. You aren’t a “breakfast person”? You aren’t alone! I challenge you to reframe how you view breakfast. You don’t have to sit down to a large meal, you don’t have to eat “breakfast food”, and you don’t have to eat immediately upon waking for it to count.

A whole grain English muffin and peanut butter on your commute counts as much as a sit down meal of eggs, center cut bacon, and whole grain toast. Find what works for your stomach and routine and commit to eating whole foods in the first few hours of waking for a full week and see how you feel! Check out this post for more healthy breakfast ideas.

Snacking will keep your hanger at bay, and energy up through the afternoon slump. They key here is making sure you have energy boosting snacks on hand. Go for portable and stock up for both home, the office, and items for your bag and car. My go-to’s are raw nuts, string cheese, lean jerky, and apples. Buy in bulk and divvy up into smaller baggies for easy transport. Click here for more smart snacking tips!

Fuel with the Right Foods

Constantly consuming low-nutritional processed junk won’t give you the energy boost you need. While everyone is different in the foods that agree with their system, generally you want to focus on nutrient dense, high antioxidant real foods, while avoiding highly processed and highly caffeinated products.

At the highest level, your body primarily breaks down carbs (glucose) and fats to create ATP, which our bodies use as energy, while protein is primarily used to build new proteins which help maintain and build muscle (when absolutely necessary protein can be used as a fuel source, but like I mentioned above, we want to avoid breaking down muscle for fuel!). With that said, you want to be selective over the fuel you give your body.

Simple carbs – sugary cereals, white bread and pastas, doughnuts, etc. – will be used to create energy, but it’s burned quickly and creates a blood sugar spike, leading to a crash. Whereas high fiber, complex carbs like those found in vegetables and whole grains, are digested and burned slowly giving you lasting energy and keeping your blood sugar in an optimal zone.

Fats are satiating as they are processed much slower than carbs and they have twice the caloric/energy value per gram. Like carbs, you want to look for the right ones. Those high in omega-3s like raw nuts, avocados, coconut and olive oil, grass-fed butter, are an excellent source for energy, whereas trans fats should be avoided.

How: Place priority on quality of contents not quantity of calories.

It’s easy to get caught up in the nitty gritty numbers – calorie counting, macro counting, etc. – but it’s then that we don’t see the forest because of all the damn trees! Put your energy into swapping more whole nutrient dense foods, for the filler packaged items that are regulars in your diet. If you used instant oatmeal packets, try quick cooking oats. If you’re eating a plain bagel with cream cheese, swap it for a whole grain English muffin and mashed avocado or nut butter.

The more veggies, lean protein and complex carbs you can incorporate the better you will feel. Click below for my most used swaps, and here for my Kitchen Staples shopping list!

Also, ditch the “energy” drinks and copious amounts of coffee! I routinely have one cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning, but that’s it. Constantly pumping yourself with caffeinated beverages will lead to a jittery crash and is highly acidic. The artificial energy spike will have the opposite effect, leaving you more exhausted and wired.

This post is packed with ideas on how to maximize your eating habits for more energy, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Read through the links as you have make time, and try one or a few changes like focusing on hunger cues, arming yourself with healthy snacks, or swapping your morning large mocha latte and pastry for a regular coffee and yogurt with nuts and berries. Most importantly, stick with whichever change you start for a week before evaluating the effects on your energy and overall health.

When do you most need an energy boost?

What do you eat now for energy?

Which of these actions will you try this week?

Sources
http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/02/07/10-energy-draining-foods.aspx
http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2011/mar/how-the-body-uses-carbohydrates-proteins-and-fats.html
https://www.ghc.org/healthAndWellness/?item=/common/healthAndWellness/conditions/diabetes/foodProcess.html
https://besynchro.com/blogs/blog/7790815-why-fats-and-not-carbs-are-the-bodys-preferred-fuel-source
http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/eat-to-boost-your-energy

Cardio on the Minute

Apologies if you’ve been using bad weather as an excuse to not get your heart pumping, because I’m about to bust it! This 30 minute workout will go by fast but packs a punch. Clear some space, all you need is yourself for this at-home cardio workout!

Want more cardio workouts that take less than 30 minutes? Check out my Strongher in :30 e-book and get fit at home!

Conquer These 3 Sabotaging All-Or-Nothing Triggers

 

If “Everything in Moderation” is the slogan of a healthy lifestyle, then “All-or-Nothing” is the four letter word of wellness. This mindset can throw the best of us off track, and often catches us by surprise as almost a knee jerk reaction. Here are a few examples:

  • You order a glass of wine at dinner and decide you may as well order dessert, too.
  • You only have time for a 30 minute workout instead of your usual 45-60, so you decide to do it tomorrow.
  • You broke your streak of bringing lunch from home one day, and order out the rest of the week.
  • You had one cookie after saying you’d skip sweets, and figure since you already broke your “rule” you may as well have 4 more.

Any of these ring a bell? You’re not alone! I have the same sneaking thoughts creep in from time to time. This post isn’t going to make them stop, because that’s impossible. What this post will do is help you recognize when you’re triggered by all-or-nothing thinking, and give you actionable solutions to redirect your next steps.

Trigger #1: I don’t have time for my usual workout

Scenario: You usually go to a strength training class Tuesday and Thursday mornings before work, but this week you have to attend a conference Tuesday-Thursday which not only is farther from the office, but starts with a networking breakfast at 8am. You can’t make either class that week which triggers…

All-or Nothing Thought: “I can’t get to my regular class, I just won’t do strength training this week.”

How to Reframe: It’s awesome that you are dedicated to your routine, but when you’re completely dedicated to one way of doing things, it’s easy to feel there’s no other way when you’re roadblocked. It’s time to get creative. Focus on how you can fit some form of strength training into your week, as opposed to convincing yourself this class is the only thing that counts as strength training.

Ideas:

  • Check the schedule for similar classes at alternate times
  • Follow along to an online video you can do at home (like this, this, this, or this)
  • Go to the gym at your usual time but do your own workout for 20-30 instead of 60 minutes. You can push harder when going shorter!

Trigger #2: I already messed up

Scenario: You have ingredients ready at home for a quick healthy dinner, but get roped into happy hour for a coworker’s birthday. You decided to go and will get one drink, but no food so you can still eat at home. (Great plan, and something I suggest in this post on Navigating the Work Event Minefield!) Immediately someone orders nachos which you hold off on while you sip your wine, then decide to have just one, which turns into a small meal (because they’re nachos!). You let yourself down which triggers…

All-or-Nothing Thought: “I already ate something bad, I may as well have another glass of wine, and an order of spinach dip, and…”

How to Reframe: With an all-or-nothing mindset, we very quickly let one unhealthy choice become a landslide into anything and everything we’ve labeled off limits. Instead of thinking that you’ve already messed up so the rest doesn’t matter, try seeing each choice as a stand alone action. Your body doesn’t react differently to a burger that was preceded by water and a salad than it would if it followed 2 beers and cheese fries.

Also, let’s stop labeling food as good and bad! Food is food is food. Yes, some is better for you than others, but eating something unhealthy does not make you bad, and does not determine your other choices. A take out pizza for dinner doesn’t erase the protein packed salad you had at lunch, and an extra beer at happy hour doesn’t mean you may as well eat fried everything.

Keep in mind that each choice counts, and it’s never too late to get back on track.

Trigger #3: I’ll start on Monday

Scenario: You find a workout program that consists of 2 strength training workouts and 3 cardio workouts a week. It’s affordable, you can do it at home, and get in in before work so you buy it immediately. But, it arrives on a Tuesday which doesn’t give you the full week so you’ll start next week, but next week you’re traveling Tuesday and won’t be back until Wednesday night so that’s not good either…you get the picture.

All-or-Nothing Thought: “I’ll start on Monday”, or, “It’s almost the end of the year, I’ll wait until January”, or, “I’ll start when the kids start school”.

How to Reframe: This mindset takes many forms, but all revolve around the same concept of waiting for things to be perfect before you start. The truth – as you likely have discovered again and again – is that it’s never going to be perfect. Instead of waiting – for that perfect time, a clean slate, a relaxed schedule – think of one small thing you can do towards your goal today. 

Exercising and eating healthier doesn’t make a bigger impact on a Monday at 6am than it does on a Thursday evening. Focus on making the very next choice – walking the dog after dinner, ordering a side salad instead of mashed potatoes, getting up 30 minutes earlier to do yoga – one that’s on the path to your goal, instead of waiting for when you can do everything perfectly.

All-or-nothing thoughts are nearly our default, with triggers popping up in some form daily. While you likely won’t get rid of them completely, you can bring attention to them and reframe your mindset to stop the all-or nothing train from derailing you.

Here are my favorite quotes to keep in mind when you recognize one of these triggering thoughts.

Something Good is Cooking!

The number one struggle for my clients is getting a healthy homemade dinner on the table on busy weeknights. Does this sound like you?

You know how to cook. You prefer to eat a homemade dinner after a long day rather than grabbing take out. And, a healthy diet is important to you. But, you do not have the time or energy to pour over recipe blogs and cookbooks to find quick and healthy meals, much less plan a whole month of dinners, grocery lists and all.

I hear you!

With these struggles in mind, I’m putting the finishing touches on a program just for you. Simply Healthy Weeknight Dinners contains 20 healthy dinner recipes – one every weeknight for a month – that have only 5 ingredients each! You’ll get a weekly meal planner, weekly grocery list, and other helpful strategies for quick weeknight cooking.

Stay tuned for the release of this brand new program on Thursday May 4th!

Can’t wait for new healthy recipes? Check out my Reset Without Restriction: 14-Day Natural Detox program out now! Click here for details on that.

Click here to be the first to know when Simply Healthy Weeknight Dinners is available!

Five Healthy Family Favorites

You may love cauliflower crust pizza, anything over zoodles, and have no fear of kale and quinoa, but your family may not be on the same healthy eating page. The last thing you want to do is make multiple meals, and hearing groans when you casually toss in the word “tofu”, gets old fast. But, you don’t want to fill you and your family up with food void of nutrition.

Although it’s just my husband and I, I consider a meal a success when he goes back for seconds (and bonus points when he takes the rest in for lunch!). I don’t know about you, but I could put anything on pasta and it’d be a hit, but I don’t want to cook pasta every night! Here are some healthy-non-pasta recipes that will get the seal of approval from the not-so-healthy eaters in your home.

4-Ingredient Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Theseasonedmom.com

This easy peasy dish only has FOUR ingredients! Save time cooking and shredding the chicken by picking up a rotisserie chicken the next time you’re at the grocery. All you need to do is layer the ingredients and sit back and relax (ha.ha.ha.) while it bakes!

Creamy Caprese Cauliflower Casserole

Theironyou.com

No one will miss the pasta or the meat in this ultra creamy casserole that’s packed with veggies.

BBQ Chicken Tenders

Eatingwell.com

Skip the fast food chain fried chicken fingers and make your own, even better! No fryer necessary, and get creative with the “breading”. I’ve used Panko breadcrumbs, crushed cornflakes, and even Honey Nut Cherrios for a sweet kick!

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Wickedspatula.com

Do not let the word “Paleo” fool you for a second. This very casserole was devoured  by myself, my husband, and my brother-in-law and got rave reviews from a friend and boyfriend! Have fun topping it with whatever you have on hand.

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

Eatingwell.com

Take it up a healthier notch and use plain yogurt instead of sour cream (I swear no one will know!). This is a great base recipe to use whatever veggies you have on hand (red or green bell pepper, onion, even zucchini), you can also use sweet potatoes for those in the family that enjoy them over regular.

Are weeknight dinners a struggle for you? They are for nearly all of my clients, including myself! That’s why I made Simply Healthy Weeknight Dinners, a month of 5-ingredient meals. Each healthy recipe serves at minimum 4 people, plus it comes with grocery lists, menu planners, and actionable strategies for quick dinners. Click here to grab a copy and be set all month!

Reset Without Restriction:

I recently launched a brand new program I’m super excited to share with you:

 Reset Without Restriction: 14-Day Natural Detox Program!


There are a lot of detoxes out there that focus on fasting, juicing, and expensive shakes and supplements that promise to rid your body of toxins. Spoiler alert: Your body was made to detox itself.

With that in mind – and the fact that no one feels their best on a fast! – I created a healthier approach. One that includes foods that work with your body to help you naturally detoxify with a more enjoyable and long term approach. After scouring cookbooks and online recipe blogs, I came up with 30 drool worthy recipes (10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 10 dinners) that all contain detoxifying ingredients. 

Learn what foods to stock up on, what to avoid, and how your sleep, exercise, and stress management habits play a role in the amount of toxins lurking in your system. With my grocery lists and weekly meal planners, “what should I eat” is no longer a stress! Plus, use my goal tracker to keep you motivated and accountable throughout the 14-day program.

To kick things off, I am offering a discounted price of $14 to the first 14 people who purchase this program!

If you’re ready for a reset, click below and enter promo code FIRST14 to snag a discounted program today!

Healthy Swaps

It’s easy to fall into the trap of attempting drastic dietary changes thinking the next one will be that magic thing we needed to get results. Whether it’s cutting out entire food groups – Goodbye bread! No more sugar! Sayonara meat! – or severely restricting calories, we think that big changes will bring big results. However, research shows again, and again (and again, and again…) that any weight loss achieved, is quickly regained when we go back to our regular eating habits.

Maybe you have exceptional willpower, and you stick with these extremes for weeks, but is it realistic to eat this way for a lifetime? Most likely you’re thinking, “A lifetime?! I’m trying to make it to Saturday!”. The truth is, it’s the small changes that bring results.

It's the small changes that bring results. Click To Tweet

Achieving a healthy weight doesn’t happen with weeks of extremes at a time. Achieving a healthy weight happens when you consistently make healthier choices day in and day out. When clients of mine are setting goals, we start small. And a lot of these small goals are little healthy choices they can make every day. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with what you want to change with your diet. This is why I made this handy chart!

Pick 1-2 swaps at a time that you can focus on making a habit. Soon you won’t be debating if you should have air-popped popcorn or chips, because it will get easier and easier to make the healthier choice. Knowing the healthier option is key to not feeling deprived, and in the end, sticking to healthy habits. Otherwise, you restrict and restrict until you say, “forget it!”

What are your favorite healthy swaps?

Working with a professional health coach will help you set meaningful and realistic goals, and help you get there by holding you accountable. I would love to talk with you about where you’re struggling and come up with an action plan to finally get the results you want! Click here to see how you can work with me, and here to start the conversation by setting up a FREE Discovery Call.

Six Spring Flavors to Savor Now

Hello Spring! Even with a mild winter, there is little that excites me more than seeing the first bursts of green on the trees in my neighborhood. Hearing the birds chatter on my early morning walk with the pup (the pup who is 7…), and finally having days that I don’t need my winter coat, are the days I actually dream about. Along with the good mood and good weather, are great ingredients. Here are my top 6 favorite in-season flavors to cook with this spring, along with 2 recipes for each to get you started!

Apricots

Rich in many plant antioxidants, apricots may also protect your eyesight and reduce inflammation, all for under 20 tasty calories!

Seared Chicken with Apricot Sauce
Eatingwell.com

Fresh Apricot Crisp
Healthygreenkitchen.com

Artichokes

This green powerhouse is actually in the thistle family (not a vegetable!), and most notably offers some protection against various forms of cancer. But that’s not all. They help boost your good cholesterol, lower the bad, and help detoxify the body.

Pasta with Artichokes, Tomato, and Feta
Gimmesomeoven.com

Chickpea and Artichoke Pate
 Keyingredient.com

Asparagus


Top ranked for it’s antioxidants, it may even help slow the aging process and could fight cognitive decline. Loaded with fiber, folate, and Vitamins A, C, E, and K, this versatile veggie also helps detoxify the body and can help fight cancers like breast, colon, and lung.

Chicken and Asparagus Teriyaki Stir-Fry
Skinnytaste.com

Asparagus, Spinach, and Feta Frittata
Twopeasandtheirpod.com

Leeks

The antioxidants in leeks are converted to Allicin which are offer anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal benefits to the body. They are also rich in vitamin K and A, all while helping reduce cholesterol in only 60 calories per 3.5 grams.

Creamy Potato Leek Soup
Care2.com

One-Pot Chicken, Leek, and Beans
Olivemagazine.com

Peas

With anti-inflammatory benefits, this small veggie packs a punch against wrinkles, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and candida. They help regulate blood sugar which along with being low in calories (less than 100 per cup), yet hight in fiber and protein, can help with weight management.

Lemon Primavera Bowties
Delish.com

Pea, Tomato, and Bacon Gnocchi
myrecipes.com

Spinach

Spinach is a well known nutritional superfood, as an excellent source of magnesium, Iron, folate, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, E, K, B6 and B2. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits on top of all that!

White Bean and Spinach Burgers
Vegkitchen.com

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Skinnytaste.com

What are you cooking with this spring?