Raising Kids While Flexible Dieting

When I started my flexible dieting journey the first thing my 13-year- old daughter asked me was, “Mom why are you weighing your food?  Do you think you are fat?”  This is a  question I did not expect.  So how do I explain this all to her as well as my other kids? I want my daughters (and son) to grow up to be strong and healthy. I want them to grow up knowing food is not the enemy.  With all the pressure from media to be thin and perfect, the last thing they need is to think I am doing this to be “skinny.”

I had to think long and hard about how to explain this to them. I had a terrible relationship with food my whole life, something I knew I did not want to pass along to my kids. If I wanted to lose weight the first thing I would do is eat as little as possible, then do hours of cardio if I felt I ate too much or the wrong foods. For years I thought this was the answer. When I started CrossFit 3 years ago, I realized this was not going to work for me anymore. I had zero energy and was not progressing with my lifts. Iwanted to be strong, but let’s be honest:  I wanted to look better too. I wanted to “see” those abs that I knew were there somewhere.

So this is what I told my kids:  I am weighing my food so I can be stronger. I am weighing my food so I know how to eat the right portions to give me the energy I need to keep up with you. I am weighing my food to make sure I am eating enough vegetables.

They saw me transform myself. I did have way more energy. I was less irritable which meant I yelled less. I was making those lifts at the gym which would brighten my day and it showed. Oh and I could finally see those abs ;) I was happier and they noticed.

Flexible dieting is a great start to live a balanced life. It helps you learn what real portions look like. Teaching my kids this method gives them the knowledge that the appropriate ratio of fats and carbs are essential to fueling their body and should not be feared like the media wants them to believe.

Good Life Decision...

 
                       "At the end of your life, what are you going to remember?"

In my family, we use the term, “good life decision” whenever we make a decision that ends up being the right one. You know, the type when you decide to put the important things first, and it ends up being the right thing. That life-affirming, soul-warming feeling you have when you sit back, and feel good about what you chose to do.

Today I made one of those choices, and quietly whispered to myself while driving home, “Good life decision Stephanie…good life decision.” Like usual, I woke up this morning with a mile long to do list and a full morning planned. I dropped off my first son, William, at school, ran a few errands, and was slated to go to the gym next. Charlie (my second son) was sitting in the back seat, chattering. I felt a tug in my heart, listening to him so patiently wait for me to be done with my list, riding along with me as I worked through my morning. My mama instinct told me that I should set aside my plans to spend some one-on-one time with him. For those who know me, I rarely set aside my workouts since being consistent on my daily core activities is very important to me. I felt like I would be throwing in the towel if I heeded this tug. The thought occurred to me, “At the end of your life, are you going to be glad that you logged one more workout, or spent time with your son?” I knew the answer to that one. I knew we both needed to be refreshed, and like his mama, Charlie loves going to the ocean. Within minutes, I was cruising down HWY 101 with the windows rolled down singing our familiar tune, “Hello, Ocean”. I knew I was making the right decision. I knew a giant cup of coffee was in order, and was plotting the perfect spot for our little date when I spied a French Café that I’ve been wanting to visit for the past year. I quickly veered off the road. The café proved to be just as quaint as I envisioned – filled with pastries, local coffee and a fluffy dog. We sat on the patio, under the shade of the bright yellow umbrellas and I watched as Charlie savored his very first madeleine. His smiles affirmed that I made the right move.

We continued on to one of our favorite beaches, where Charlie happily played on a nearby playground. Within a few minutes, we gravitated toward the ocean - like we always do - to search for rocks, shells, and the occasional crab. I felt so good to just be – not to be planning the rest of my day or which task I would work on next. Just to walk along the shore and watch Charlie smile, roll in the sand, and chase birds. I made a point to notice the little details…his toes in the sand, the way his chubby cheeks make his eyes squinty when he smiles, and his little chatter. I realized that these moments - this age - is fleeting. He’s still small enough to be able to stand between my legs, weaving in and out as the waves lapped around our feet. We played with seaweed (and discovered that you can pop kelp like bubble wrap!) and attempted to make a sand castle. When it was time to go, I picked Charlie up, held him close, and bid the ocean farewell. I remarked, “Wasn’t that fun, Charlie?” and he immediately repeated, “Fun!” It was the first time he ever said the word. I couldn’t help but wonder how many moments I’ve missed out on by barreling though my day, attempting to stay on task. I could have stuck with the plan and accomplished my workout for the day - but I would have missed out on this little moment and hearing him repeatedly say “Fun!” for the first time. As I drove home, I was grateful for making the good life decision - choosing the important thing - choosing to put life first. More than anything, I want to have a life well lived, and even though fitness is a big part of my life, it’s not my whole life. After all, the primary reason why I choose to exercise is for my family - to be the healthiest, best version of myself. Today, it was well spent on the beach with my little boy. Good life decision. 

 

You Got This,

- S

 

Achieving Balance

...the elusive state that everyone wants.

Let's take a minute to talk about the one aspect in life we are always striving for - balance. Of course, this is a huge concern for people from every personality type across the board, and we hear about it from our clients and within the community constantly, so its appropriate to devote some time to talking about it. 

Whether you are married with kids and a full time job, or single, with no kids, in a part-time job, or maybe working through school as a student, everybody has periods in their life where they feel completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed, by work, family, school, housework - and now you have decided to embark on anther endeavor and have added improving your health to your long list of daily duties. So how do you make it all work and how do you make time for it all? How do you live a healthy, happy, purposeful life?

 
 

Achieving Balance:

Consistency vs. Perfection

Every one of us coaches knows that counting macros can be an enormous time suck, and how trying to hit your numbers and failing can lead to frustration and make you feel like giving up.

BUT! Every one of us coaches have also learned how to push through and achieve our own personal goals! So, you are getting advice from people who have walked (or ran!) a mile in your shoes.

The secret to success in this program is consistency. The more consistent you are, the better and faster your results will be. Everybody has a reason (an excuse, really) for why they can’t hit their numbers, and in the beginning that's totally fine because it’s a learning curve and nobody expects you to be great at it right off the bat. The important thing is that you continue to refine your skill, and find the solution to your problem!

Going over your macro numbers will lead to a slower rate of progress it isn't difficult to understand that consuming more calories will make it harder for you to lose weight. However, what some people don’t realize is that being under your numbers can be even more detrimental to your progress!

For those of you whose goal is weight loss, your coach has put you in a slight caloric deficit, meaning you are under the amount of calories that are needed in order to maintain weight, hence, you experience weight loss. If you do not hit your numbers and eat even less calories than recommended your body will begin to metabolize lean body mass. If that occurs, your workouts will suffer and your weight loss will stall, therefor, the more lean body mass you have the more calories you burn.

So be consistent, find the foods that work for you and stick with them. It won’t be for very extended periods of time because with progress your numbers will change, so what’s the harm in eating the same things a few days in a row if it means you hit your numbers and have less logging to worry about.

Achieving Balance: Adaptability

A lot of times we run into obstacles in our life that require you to make adjustments. Vacations, remodels, working late or going to school for long hours, these events you can plan for and make adjustments accordingly. But more commonly life throws you obstacles that cannot be foreseen and this will cause you to have to make adjustments on the fly. If you find yourself in a situation where you cant weigh, measure or log, use the visual assessments we posted (see attached picture in comments) and “stack your plate” pick a lean protein (consume a piece the size of your palm for women, two palms for men).

Getting your veggies, steamed, roasted, or grilled are all good options, and picking a healthy carb (sweet potato, brown rice) about the size of your fist is usually around 40 carbs. Remember, when you eat out it is perfectly fine to ask the waitress for a special meal (something not on the menu) they have to oblige. If you have ever worked in the industry, you know - just tip well and no one will bat an eye.

Another recommendation is to break up your macros into five equal parts and try and hit your macros by meal.  Divide your daily requirements and then read labels and fill in the gaps at the end of the day. It will make your macros life much more manageable.

Achieving Balance: Managing Your Time

This is often the hardest part for most people.  The first step is to try to simplify your life.  Determine what things add value to your life and get rid of everything else. This could mean getting rid of clutter, saying no to unnecessary social obligations, or watching less Netflix marathons.

But the end result will be that you have more time to focus on your health and nutrition. Whether that means pre-chopping veggies and storing them small bags for grab and go, sometimes using protein supplements to hit your protein, meal prepping on the weekends, or researching a few fast food places that you can go to in a pinch. Take the guess-work out by being prepared and having a back up plan.

It’s better to try any of the recommendations above than to blow all caution to the wind and settle for something fried and fatty and sure to make you feel awful and slow progress. Lastly, Iearn to ask for help-that's what we are here for! 

You asked for our help in getting your nutrition back on track and we are here for you but we cannot possibly know your struggles if you don’t share them with us. There will always be an excuse or an obstacle, to overcome you must find the solution, but nobody said you had to do it alone.

 

You got this,

- A

< FROM THE BLOG

Managing Expectations

"It's a marathon, not a sprint."

Let's talk about daily weight fluctuations. There are many reasons why your weight can change day to day or even hour to hour.  We're going to give you the short list of the most likely culprits and how to counteract that weight gain.  

Water weight.... it's fickle!

Sometimes we eat outside the recommendations of our nutrition plans and the result is a spike in the scale the next day, or even worse sometimes we stay completely within our recommendations and still the next day we see a spike in the scale! Rest assured its water weight. Humans can rarely eat enough food within the confines of a day to gain poundage related to fat mass.  Fat gain is usually something that occurs more often by eating more than your allotted calories over a period of time.

So if you eat one of those delicious yet non-macro friendly meals and you see a spike, it is most likely due to water weight-unless you are doing this 7 days a week. What causes you to retain water? Sodium. Water is attracted to sodium much like a magnet...like a moth to a flame... and follows it wherever it goes. So if you ingest a sodium packed meal expect to see a spike the following day. Fun fact: just two cups of water (16OZ) weighs 1lb.

To get rid of excess water weight the solution is to drink more water! I know it sounds counter-intuitive but by drinking more water you flush out some of that excess sodium and you should see the scale return to normal within a couple days.

Constipation

Everyone’s favorite subject... Sometimes we experience periods in our life where things just don’t move smoothly. Fortunately, this inconvenience doesn’t usually last long but it can be brought about in a number of ways: a change in diet, a decrease in exercise, travel, PMS, stress and sleepless nights.

You can combat constipation by drinking more water and eating foods rich in fiber. If you hit your fiber recommendation you should experience little to no problem in this area. If you are hitting your fiber consistently and drinking at least 1 oz of water per body weight and are still experiencing this problem, talk to your coach and your physician. 

Glycogen Storage

This is where things get a little complicated so bare with me. Glycogen comes from carbs. When you eat carbohydrates you metabolize them into glycogen which is used for energy.  However, if you produce more glycogen than is needed for energy it gets stored in your liver and your muscles- this is not a bad thing, you need this.

For every gram of carbohydrate you store, with it comes 3-4 grams of water (see how that water weight snuck in there again!) and still this is completely normal. Now sometimes adjustments need to be made, because obviously all people were not created the same and some have more sensitivity to carbs than others.

This is why it is crucial to hit you numbers consistently.  If you do that your coach can easily identify whether or not you are sensitive to carbs or just experiencing a normal spike. A good rule to live by is not to eat processed or highly refined carbs, which we discussed in depth in the carbohydrate blog post. Again an easy trick to live by is to look at the label-if it has zero fiber do not eat it!

Calm...Your...Fears

Hopefully after reading this you understand that daily fluctuations in the scale are normal. I know the question burning on the tip of your tongue is how do your coaches know if you are losing weight if the scale is going up and down all the time, right?! As exercise nutrition specialists we have studied these patterns and go by a very simple rule- there is a reason why we have you weigh yourself everyday, and no its not to drive you crazy or depress you.

We need to take the average over a 7-day period and that’s how your weight loss for the week is calculated. Also, it proves to you that fluctuations are real and normal. So if you all take a glance at your spreadsheet we have input a formula that does this for you to see, right next to you daily weights data is the average column, and at the end of your 7 day period it calculates your average and then it inputs that data into the difference column, which adds the sum of the average from week to week and that is your weight loss. This is the number you need to be paying attention to.

So what is real progress?

Simply losing 1⁄2-1% of body fat every 2-4 weeks is excellent progress, 1⁄2% is average and less than that is poor progress. For muscle gain 1-2 lbs. every 2-4 weeks is excellent progress, 1 lb/4weeks is average, less than that is poor progress.

So if you are (on average) losing 0.5-1 lb. per week that is excellent progress. Aside from that it takes the body anywhere from 2-4 weeks to jump into full fat mobilization mode so be patient, hit your numbers and

TRUST THE PROCESS!

Even though many of you are not at the stage of maintenance we want to preempt this category before it is reached by all of you. Maintenance mode is generally where most people tend to go once they have attained their goals. What this means is that we slowly increase you macros back up until you have reached your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

It is not uncommon to see the number on the scale increase a little during maintenance mode, but if you are following the 5 healthy habits and your transition guidelines you can rest assured it is probably Lean Body Mass (LBM), but it can be mind blowing all the same. It’s an awful feeling to think that all your hard work is going out the window but this is why your visual assessments are crucial.

They allow you to see tiny transformations in your body over time that would be missed. So even while in maintenance it is important to keep up with your check-ins until you have fully transitioned off macros.

One Caveat

Just because we have explained to you that fluctuations are normal, does not by any means suggest that you should not voice your concerns to your coach! It is absolutely encouraged to ask questions, inform yourself and have open dialogue with your coach. All of these things will help get you on the fast track to your goals.

This is why we do weekly check-ins, because this gives us some insight into how your body is reacting. That’s is why we change your numbers, that is individualized coaching. We are proud of every single one of you for taking this step and we are dedicated to getting you results!

You got this,

- A

< From the blog

the skinny on fat

 
 

Everybody at some point in their life has heard some fitness or nutrition professional talk about FAT.  More interestingly is the discussion about the difference between "Good vs Bad" Fats.  But you would be hard- pressed to find many individuals who can tell you what a good fat is and why it is good for you.

When medical professionals talk about good fats they are referring to those which decrease the risk of developing heart disease. But when it comes to your waistline, all fats are relatively the same in regards to caloric density.

So what does that mean for someone that is trying to lose weight? That too much of a good thing is still a bad thing! So lets back up a minute and discuss what defines a good fat and that of a bad fat.

The "Good guys"

Good fats are usually defined as unsaturated fats- they are considered good for you because they lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fats are probably the most well known healthy fat by the general population because they have gotten a lot of acknowledgment for their heart health benefits.

Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish (salmon, halibut, trout, tuna and oysters), flaxseed, eggs, milk, yogurt. peanut butter, oatmeal, walnuts, brussels sprouts, kale and spinach-just to name of few.

The other healthy fats are known as monounsaturated fats. When it comes in the form of a grocery list it looks like this: olive, canola and peanut oil, olives, avocados, hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts and cashews... among a few others. So, if it’s a healthy fat you can consume as much as you want, right? Wrong! This is where people usually foul up, they believe that just because something is healthy that they can eat as much as they desire without repercussions.

The truth of the matter is, fat is fat. It's very calorie dense at 9 calories per gram, so its very easy to over eat.  If not tracked properly it can add up to a considerable amount of calories in just a few small portions. If your goal is weight loss it is important to limit the amount of fat you eat.

However, at least 10% of your total daily calories must come from fat. The Department of Agriculture recommends 20-35%.  These percentages have been taken into account by your nutrition coach and have been tailored to meet your individual needs, so worry not. It is your responsibility, however, to make the right choices when it comes to selecting the type of fats you will consume. That being said, lets talk about the other guys...

The “Bad Guys”

This is where it gets confusing. We will try to simplify this by saying that there are some fats that you should eat sparingly- these are known as saturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat, high-fat diary and eggs, and in some oils such as coconut and palm oils. According to the American Heart Association, products highest in saturated fats are fatty cuts of beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lards and creams, butter and dairy products made with whole fat or red-fat milk.

Please don’t be confused; we are not suggesting that you eliminate these from your diet; only that you consume them sparingly. That is why in our program we suggest that lean meats predominate in the diet.

The other type of bad fats are known as artificial trans fats and these should be avoided and eliminated from the diet. They are considered bad because the raise bad cholesterols (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL) and this increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Trans fats became popular because they are easy to make, inexpensive and last a long time! Many fast food companies use trans fats to fry their foods because the oil can be used over and over many times without needing to be changed.

They also increase the longevity of packaged and processed foods and are found in grocery items such as fried foods, doughnuts, cakes, pie crusts, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers and most sweets.

Now we don't want to be unrealistic and say you can never, never, ever have these foods ever again. Because lets get real, who doesn’t want the occasional piece of cake at a birthday party or dessert for the holidays, we all do! But we will say this: if your main concern is your waistline, it is best to avoid these products, especially until you've reached your goals.

However, it is good to live a little, and because we live in such a food driven society it would be impractical to say you will never let these goodies touch your taste buds ever again.

But even after you have reached your goals it is important to realize that these types of foods should be consumed few and far between and mostly reserved for special occasions, not consumed every day. It is important not only for your body composition but your overall health to learn to love other forms of sweets like fruits and other healthy options.

 

You got this,

- A

< FROM THE BLOG