So, you want to have your cake and eat it too? Same. And there is nothing wrong with that. In this blog, I’m going to discuss how to functionally and simply eat what you’d like while maintaining performance and aesthetic goals. Please note, I am not a certified nutritionist, and this is nutritional advice from a Personal Trainer.
From all my clients, and especially my pregnant clients, I hear a lot about food cravings. While people who are pregnant especially have cravings due to shifts in hormones, including women who are near or in their menstrual phase, everyone can have cravings. Sometimes people don’t even know why they crave certain foods. Men, I am also talking to you.
If you read my blog, Diets Don’t Work, you already know my take on nutrition, and it’s no surprise I’m discussing now how to eat everything responsibly. In that blog post, I shared how to eat complete meals using a portion guide. Here, I’m going to share how to eat the food you crave in addition to complete meals. These foods are usually surgery, salty, and fatty and don’t do much for our fitness performance or aesthetic. However, they do remind us of comforting times, may be gifted to us around a special occasion, or are wanted because they are straight up delicious.
Why would we completely cut this out of our lives? Oftentimes when we cut these foods out of our lives it is temporary and/or we develop negative emotional attachments to these foods, and call them bad and if we eat them we feel guilty or ashamed which may lead us to overeat or in some cases develop disordered eating around food in general.
If you are in alignment with eating foods you love that are highly processed along with complete meals, here are three pieces of advice you can follow to eat them responsibly. Part of eating what you want is also doing it responsibly. What I mean by this is being aware you are eating food you may not normally eat a lot of in your day to day and understand there are consequences. You may feel energy dips and digestive discomfort. It may be worth it, and thats fine!
1. When you have a craving. Don’t ignore it.
Instead of ignoring your cravings, buy or order the food, or a food similar to the food you crave to satisfy that craving. When you eat the food, sit down without distractions, and eat it slowly. Love that food. If you can, eat with a fork and a knife, on a plate, chew slowly, taste all the flavors, and feel all the textures.
2. Know how much to buy.
If you know you are going to want a certain sweet, fatty, or salty food, choose the best option and quantity. Only buy what you are able to eat at that moment and avoid over buying the craved food if you know you have a tendency to uncomfortably overeat. If eating food with a plate, fork and knife, cut food in half. After eating half ask yourself how you feel and get more if you want, save the rest for another time, or share with someone you love.
3. If you want to satisfy a craving, but are too ashamed of eating a pint of ice cream.
You can make ‘ice cream.’ If you have protein powder, just add about 1 cup of ice with ½ cup water to 1 or 2 scoops of protein powder and blend. If you want it thicker add less water or more ice. You can even add cocoa nibs and cinnamon for flavor and texture. This makes a thick ice cream-like texture that is very low calorie and tastes good.
4. Eat a complete meal and then the food you crave.
You can reference Diets Don’t Work for an example of portion sizes that make up a complete meal. Sometimes we crave certain foods when we’re lacking nutrients from certain food groups. For example, if we don't eat enough fats, we often crave sugar.
Consider all of these as possible options for having the food you’d like in a responsible way if you’re working on your nutrition and health goals. Also, you may end up overeating a food you crave. Give yourself the utmost grace after an instance and know that you have the chance to come back to your mindful eating the next day.
For Coaching support on fitness and lifestyle contact Brie at firstname.lastname@example.org
diets don't work.
Yup. It’s true. Dieting rarely lasts and often leaves people feeling disappointed and like failures. Have you ever lost or gained the same 10-15lbs? Have you ever felt terribly guilty for eating something ‘bad’? Do you find yourself being drawn to pinterest or advertisements on the web on quick weight loss then, try it out, and end up hangry day after day?
I’m not here to control your eating for you, give you more rules to follow, or tell you what exactly you should eat. I’m here to give you a simple reference toward a healthy balance with food to support your health goals. My goal is to make your life easier.
Let’s get clear on something, I’m taking opposition to pop culture dieting and instead favoring long term nutritious eating. I’m not saying if you have a food allergy, particular health condition, a commitment to be on set, or religious or cultural following that requires a restrictive diet that you shouldn’t cut out certain foods. However, I am speaking to general lifestyle and fitness goal setting for sustainable, desirable, and lasting change. In addition, a lot of my education around this has come from Girls Gone Strong Coaching programming and I want to send a huge amount of gratitude to the holistic and realistic work they do around health and wellness that transforms lives.
I’m going to break down three tools that may be useful for you around food! If you have more in depth questions or would like to speak to me for personal suggestions, go ahead and contact me at email@example.com.
1. Guide for how much to eat for three complete meals a day.
2. Ways to avoid mindless eating.
3. Tips on how to order nutritious food, or shop and prepare food.
1. I see clients who are exercising get the best results when they are eating three meals a day following the guide from Precision Nutrition chart below (at the bottom of the page). They report having more energy and lean muscle mass gains. In addition to three meals, it may be necessary to have small snacks between meals if you are feeling hungry and/or had a big workout day.
Notice how ‘snickers bars’ aren’t included on this chart…😒No big deal! Have the snickers bar, just aim to eat it after your meal, and on occasion. Perhaps buy the mini instead of
the king size. There is no such thing as ‘good’ food or ‘bad’ food.
Also, when animal meat protein isn’t an option for you it is ok to substitute with plant based protein. Additionally, while not the top option, powdered vegetable supplements may also be suitable.
2. Mindfulness. A humongous buzz word, but I can’t think of a better word for being conscientious of your actions. When we eat we can sometimes forget we are eating. Food is delicious! Chew it down to taste it all before swallowing, put your fork down between bites and take a breath and a sip of water, then check in with your stomach to see if you are satisfied or want more. Feeling full is different from being satisfied. Take a moment to gauge where you are at. Satisfaction is guaranteed...stick with it!
3. I understand 1000% how cooking sometimes isn’t happening every day of the week (or any day of the week) and still having the desire to eat nutritiously. Oftentimes, take out or eat out food can have surgery sauces and large portions. I suggest asking for the sauce or dressing on the side and only using what you want or having olive oil, vinegar, mustard, hot sauce, and any other condiments at home so you can doctor up the food how you like. Also, sometimes it’s easier to get your vegetable portion when ordering sides. Once you have the food delivered, It may make sense to portion out the meal when you plate it, so you don’t accidentally eat too much. It’s ok to ask for a side plate or cut your meal in half when you are out. You can always get more if you want!
If you’re grocery shopping for the week or month it helps to get frozen vegetables or protein. Especially if you don’t have much time to cook! You can simply add water to the pan when cooking frozen vegetables or protein and steam cook. This also requires less oil. Additionally, when cooking, make leftovers so you have food for your next meal and the next day.
Everything in life takes a little planning and consciousness. Have you ever been going up the stairs on your phone or thinking of something other than going up the stairs and catch a toe? Well, mindless eating can be a little like this too. Use this information here as a guide toward creating and sustaining a baseline of healthy habits that leave us feeling empowered and in control of our lives. You are a human being and not a robot, so habits may shift. Give yourself grace and do what seems to work and feel best for you. Please note, this is nutritional advice and I am not a certified nutritionist. If you have dietary concerns I recommend you speak with a registered dietitian.
*A guide from Precision Nutrition
“I want to see if I can. I don’t know if I can. I want to find out. I want to see. I’m going to do what I always do: I’m going to break it down to it’s smallest form, smallest detail, and go after it. Day by day. One day at a time.” - Kobe Bryant
Balance beyond standing on one leg, in our habitual training, day after day, we must find a balance between high intensity training and low intensity training.
What does this look like in real time practice? Simply put, do a high intensity workout on Monday and a low intensity workout Tuesday. Repeat this cycle, day after day.
What is a high intensity workout? It’s any workout that gets your heart rate up to 70-90% of your maximum heart rate. How do I find my heart rate percentage? 220-Age = heart rate max. Then, multiply by .7 for 70% of heart rate max or .9 for 90%, .6 for 60%, etc...Or on the Rate of Perceived Exertion, or RPE scale of 1-10 where 1 is easy, 10 is hard, a 7, 8, or 9 (in this 7-9 range, it’s hard to have a conversation with someone).
Some examples of this kind of workout may be kickboxing, circuit training, sprints, long distance runs, fast dancing, swimming fast and/or long distances, heavy strength training and anything that takes you into the 7-9 challenge zone.
What is a low intensity workout? Now that you understand the RPE scale, any workout that feels more like a 5-7 (I put 7 in both high and low categories, because it may be high intensity for some people who are pregnant or have high blood pressure and low intensity for some people like athletes on some days). This only gets your heart pumping slightly more than it would in a resting state where you’re going for a walk or a slow jog, or 60-70% of heart rate max. Some exercises that qualify in this range are yoga, foam rolling, pilates, light banded resistance, walking, slow dancing and jogging, and stretching.
Why does balancing out these two workouts benefit me?
First, consider this question, what if I only do high intensity workouts? High intensity workout trains the mind and body to enter into a stressed out state, the sympathetic nervous system or fight or flight. This is an important state because it activates our response to danger. Plus, the stress hormone cortisol released during this stage can make us feel good on top of endorphins being released during exercise.
Back to Balance!
Do you see how switching up your workout intensity can reward your mind to feel good and prevent you from exhaustion and feeling over-stressed? Slow down, do some low intensity workouts between high intensity days. This will enhance your workout, just keep doing both and feel the difference.
Including soft tissue release aka foam rolling, stretching, and HIIT we can achieve our own self restoration and feel better as we workout while we’re having fun!
In Part. 2 I’m going to share with you how to get back to balance with strength training and share a sample weekly program that incorporates both HIIT and strength training!
"If you aren’t committed to training, conditioning and practice, you aren’t committed to being your best.” - Simone Biles
If you read Part 1. you already know the importance of alternating high intensity and low intensity training days for mental and physical balance. In this article, I'm going to discuss the importance of alternating different body parts and movement patterns with strength training to find balance in your physical body.
What does this look like in real time practice? Simply put, do a RPE 8 strength training workout incorporating chest, back and biceps and triceps on Wednesday and RPE 8 quads, hamstrings and glutes on Thursday. Here you’re working both opposing muscle groups day after day, so one isn’t causing over compensation or is too tight and strong compared to the opposing muscle which could cause joint, tendon, or muscle pain. You can still work the same muscle group in a week, and can train your entire body on training days, however if you're training this way, it’s best to take a break between training sessions with some active recovery like stretching, or yoga.
Why work all the muscles?
With each strength training workout we're sculpting our bodies with each of our strikes, lifts, or even in the way we sit-YES, added dumbbell or not, posture even adds resistance to our frame. With movement repetition, muscles and joints contour and ‘stick’ to create our frame and posture. Not only because we build muscle shaped by these movements, but we train our brain to do the movement repetitively in this way. Ever heard the term, muscle memory? Yea, it’s a real thing and I’m gonna throw some simple science on you here to explain.
What is Muscle Memory?!?
In our muscles we have nerves that are connected to our brain, the neuromuscular system. When our muscles move they send signals to our brain which helps us then make sense of the movement and remember it.
What’s the problem with doing the same movements over and over? In time and with over use we create tight muscles and movements become painful, sometimes leading to injury. Doing a heavy workout over and over again or a repetitive motion that adds resistance to our fram begins to wear and tear and can lead to injury.
Back to Balance!
We can have it all…The intense workouts, the low intensity workouts, and strength training for our entire body. Below is a simple weekly schedule you can follow.
If you’d like exercise specifics, a movement screen to highlight exercises best for your body, and coaching on lifestyle and training frequency contact Coach Brie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Upper Body/Abs Strength
Lower Body/Abs Strength
Foam Roll and Active Stretch
*This is a sample program and may or may not be suited for your unique goals and/or ability. Take note of the Heart Rate range % and RPE and fit your workouts in to match those ranges.
the new way to do fitness
When I was a young competitive dancer I constantly heard from my teachers and teammates, “I can’t eat because I need to look thinner on stage.” This stayed with me, and among other popular thin female narratives in the media, I believed this is what I had to be. I would compare myself to actresses and decide on what I was going to eat based on my idea of how I could fit in their body. Seriously? Yup. I still can’t stop trying to be cut like JLo…But now, I’ve created a mindset that accepts my body and mind for where it is today. I understand the work it takes to have the body I want for me and I’m not willing to completely cut out anything that I love for it. Further, I coach women to build their body strength and nutrition habits to sustain manageable, realistic, and long lasting outcomes that leaves them feeling full.
People meet with me one-on-one to discuss their fitness and nutritional goals, desire to have a healthy and active pregnancy, learn strength training for the first time or add techniques and accessories to what they already do, and feel empowered and in control of their body. No more gaining and losing the same 15 pounds over and over again through diets and exhausting exercise.
Most importantly, my coaching style is compassionate, loving, fun, and to the point. No bull shit and no fads. All programs are custom, based on your health and fitness history as well as goals and baseline level of fitness. I digitally write out your exercise program to follow and keep. All exercises are scientifically backed to get you where you want to be and are designed to leave you feeling energized. I come to your home gym, or we meet wherever you work out.
I’m going to leave you with this somewhat corny yet true inspo. You, whoever you decide to be, are 100% capable of a shift. And you 100% decide if you want that shift to happen.
Are you having one of those days where nothing seems to be going right? Cars are speeding past and not using their signals and you have a baby in the car, you wish you were skinnier, you and your friends aren’t clicking like you used to, and/or you’re stuck on that one incident that happened in the past where you wish you would have done or said something different. Maybe it’s not just one of those days and this is an incessant cycle of depression that happens for you. OR you don’t know why you’re feeling this bad. ALL of these reasons to feel down are valid and there is something small you can do.
Right now I’m going to demonstrate ways you can gain control over these moments rather than your negative moods and thoughts having control over you.
1. Exercise. You knew I was going to say that didn’t you? Even just a few moments of movement can have stimulating positive effects on your brain. Exercise can increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and other growth factors, stimulate neurogenesis, increase resistance to brain insult and improve learning and mental performance (1). Also, exercise benefits brain plasticity processes. Brain plasticity is basically the brain getting active and reorganizing itself in a positive way. Overall, exercise could provide a simple means to maintain and improve brain function.
2. Identify and acknowledge how you are feeling. The Feeling Wheel by Dr. Gloria Willcox of the Gottman Institute (2) can be a helpful way to identify how you’re feeling, positive or negative. Identifying your thoughts could sound like this, Wow, I’m feeling really down and I can’t relate to anyone right now. I feel inadequate. When we identify our emotions we are one step closer to accepting them or moving through them. If you feel stuck in your negative emotion try calling up a friend or family member, go for a walk, or switch up what you are already doing. It may be most helpful and productive to seek out professional help. I’ll reference a trusted psychotherapy center below (3).
3. Neutralize your negative self-talk. I learned this one, thanks to Molly Galbraith and Girls Gone Strong (4). Hear yourself speak negatively about your body, your mind, or your skills and then neutralize your words by stating what is true and unbiased. This looks like this, "Ugh I look so puffy". Flip it to…"This is what I look like today". Practice this over and over, day after day and once you feel comfortable with a neutral statement you are ready to practice shifting a negative thought into a positive one. Bonus, tell positive thoughts to yourself in the mirror. Here's an example, "Ugh I look so puffy". Back flip it to…"I love my body and appreciate how my body has carried me through my life"!
Trust me, you can get there!
These are not rules for you to follow. The last thing we need are more rules. And know that being depressed is ok and it is often a temporary emotion. If any of these phrases, practices, or rituals speak to you, give them a try and even better if they make you feel less stressed, even if momentarily, add it to your tool box. If you have not been feeling like yourself for several days, aren't sleeping or are sleeping too much, and cannot seem to shake it, contact your primary care physician.
(1) Cotman, C.W., & Berchtold, N.C. (2002). Exercise: A behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-2236(02)02143-4
(3) Chamin Ajjan Psychotherapy Group Contact: https://chaminajjan.com/
(4) The Girls Gone Strong Academy Pre-and Postnatal Coaching Certification Manual.
2018. Girls Gone Strong.
In this blog I’m going to discuss appropriate exercises that can be applied to your daily life, after giving birth. Also, as mentioned before in prenatal exercise part 1. (link blog here), it’s mandatory that you have permission from your primary care provider to begin any form of exercise.
Weeks (0-6) After birth:
This is an interesting time for you, having just given birth, and getting familiar with your baby, your body, your mind, and time. You are most likely experiencing less sleep than you’re used to as you adapt to your baby’s feeding needs, are recovering physically from birth whether vaginal or c-section, and learning to face mental stressors.
As long as you have clearance from your primary care provider, and feel up for exercise, there are a few activities we can do now. Keep in mind that during this time the top priority is your recovery and we will be weaning into exercise slowly so your tissue can have time to heal. If you have any symptoms of pain, incontinence, excessive bleeding that do not go away in weeks after birth, please contact your primary care provider.
In this blog I’m going to share with you how to breathe to relax and access and strengthen deep abdominal muscles, stretch and mobilize your neck, shoulders, and pelvis, begin walking again and do it so you don’t get hurt or slow down your recovery time, and break down posture alignment, also good for walking, and everyday life.
Priorities during the first six weeks postpartum are (1)
In the first few weeks some people experience incontinence and pelvic floor weakness, this is normal, and this should improve from week to week. If it does not improve and there is a painful sensation within the pelvic floor area after the six week mark, you should reach out to your primary care provider and seek out a pelvic floor physiotherapist if you don’t already have one.
Goals of exercise in this period are (2)
Pelvic floor muscle contraction and relaxation looks like this:
It helps to remember “exhale on effort”. This will come in hand when we do resistance strength training too.
Mobility and stretching help relieve tension in the neck, chest, and lower back. A few simple stretches you can do lying on your back are:
Regular breathing techniques are also a helpful way to ease the mind and regain body awareness. This breathing technique also helps access deeper muscular activation of the transverse abdominis. If you’re recovering from a c-section ensure you’re not breathing too deeply into your lower stomach. This way you’re not over stretching the healing incision.
Once you have the hang of both pelvic floor clock breath and above breathing technique, blend the two together.
Walking post birth can be a new challenge. It can also be something that you’re excited and anxious to get back into. Wherever you are on the spectrum, you need to take it slow. My suggestion is to start with a 10 minute walk. And work up to two short walks (10-15 minutes) twice a day. Continue to check in with yourself and see how you feel after the walk and the next day too. You can work your way up to one long walk once you feel you’re ready, without any symptoms, and as time allows. You may also be pushing the baby stroller or carrying the baby on your body in a wrap, so consider the added weight, and challenge your posture.
In general we’re seeking posture alignment that is optimal for function. There’s no perfect posture, however there are patterns that allow for better muscle activation which will help you feel stronger. Here’s what we are looking for when it comes to posture:
You’ve got this. And you’ve just given birth to a human so give yourself some serious credit. Be patient in your recovery and reflection. Recovery looks different for each person and so do your needs, schedule, and desires.
If you have questions and are seeking further resources please contact Brie at email@example.com
prenatal exercise part 5; third trimester
In the third trimester (weeks 28-40) the most physical growth happens and it may become difficult to get comfortable in certain positions and while sleeping, so you may feel more tired than usual from disrupted sleep. During this trimester your body is working very hard to prepare for birth and support a growing baby. Weight gain is part of a healthy pregnancy and in this trimester an additional 450 calories more than what was eaten at the start of pregnancy is necessary for most women as the baby gets bigger. Since the baby is now taking up more space in the belly, leaving less room for the stomach to expand with meals, it may be helpful to eat several smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3-4 larger meals to avoid discomfort.
Self care and rest are important during this time. Exercises will be modified and we are especially going to tune into energy levels and any pain or discomfort from exercise session to session.
Training Goals in the Third Trimester include (1):
At the beginning of the third trimester, the baby weighs approximately two pounds and at birth the baby usually weighs between six to eight pounds. This rapid growth takes a lot of energy from the mother and the developing baby crowds the abdomen and mothers organs, so exercise and daily movement modifications will become necessary.
Some Common Concerns in the Third Trimester Include (2):
Strength Training Program Modifications in the Third Trimester are:
For questions or to set up your first session please contact Brie at firstname.lastname@example.org
prenatal exercise part 4; second trimester
In the second trimester (weeks 14-27) there are new psychological and physiological changes that take place. Commonly, at this stage of pregnancy, people generally feel a sense of relief and reduced anxiety over miscarriage, less frequent or no longer experiencing nausea or sickness, increased energy, and more social support as they share the news with friends and family.
With these improvements, your body is also developing more in this stage of pregnancy. During this trimester, you’ll notice you gain the most weight as the baby grows and your body adapts to nourish your expecting child. In exercise, we’ll make minor adjustments to your positions and continue to meet you where you’re at energetically.
Training goals for a Well-Designed Exercise Program throughout the Second Trimester Include (1):
Additionally, as the baby grows, it may feel less comfortable lying on your back. Research and exercise guidelines vary in their suggestions for being in a supine position during this time and what is most important is your comfort and acknowledgement of any signs or symptoms. We will minimize the time spent lying on your back and incline the supine position to at least 15 degrees to avoid excessive pressure on the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from the lower body. If experiencing light headedness, nausea, shortness of breath, or tingling in the legs at any point when in the supine position it is crucial to communicate this and move out of that position.
Some common concerns in the second trimester are (2):
Some people may and others may not experience much discomfort at this time, and we will make appropriate modifications as necessary, where needed for you.
Specific strength training modifications in the second trimester include:
For questions or to set up your first session please contact Brie at email@example.com
Prenatal exercise part 3; First trimester
In the first trimester (weeks 0-13), hormones, energy levels, appetite, and other aspects can influence your behavior, mind state, and the way we train. I don’t want to overlook the importance of adapting to these new changes and working together to find comfort, satiety, and resolution where needed. Regular physical activity has been shown to be associated with improved mood, cognition, attention, memory, and decreased depression, anxiety, and stress (1). Even though exercise is beneficial in many ways, sometimes sleep is a priority and that’s ok! Listening to your body is key (pregnant or not ;)). For example, It may be appropriate to do 30 minutes of stretching, breathing, and pelvic floor connection breathing instead of bicep curls, reverse lunges, and cable rows. Both forms of exercise make a huge difference physically and psychologically and we’ll get into the how-to’s for all of these exercises in our training together.
While exercise in pregnancy is safe for you and your baby, and can be really fun discovering your capabilities, there are precautions and considerations we must take while choosing exercises to perform. It’s also important to get feedback from you and notice if anything feels off. I’ll teach you what to look and feel for and as a part of your health care team, ensure you have the appropriate care when and wherever necessary.
The first trimester is accompanied by some or all of these physiological changes and symptoms (2).
Not all women experience these symptoms, what you experience during your pregnancy will be unique to you and we will adapt your exercise program to fit your needs and goals.
Training goals for a Well-Designed Exercise Program throughout the First Trimester Include (3):
Specific strength training modifications in the first trimester include:
For questions or to set up your first session please contact Brie at firstname.lastname@example.org