Snacky Things

How often do you snack?

It’s a serious question. Most of us snack more than we like to admit really, but in a culture where food is abundant, snacks are in full demand.

If you’re looking to shed some body fat or tighten up your muscle tone, snacking can be detrimental to your goals. Well, let me re-phrase: WHAT you snack on could be detrimental to your goals.

apple

So, what are we supposed to eat? Celery sticks in between every meal? No. I am a realist when it comes to snacking. Here are a few tried and true snacks for anybody with any kind of schedule.

  • An apple with 2 TBSP natural peanut butter
  • Cucumber, baby carrots, and celery with 1/4 cup hummus
  • Medium iced latte made with low-fat milk
  • Peppermint Patty Shakeology (I’m OBSESSED with this recipe right now! 1 scoop chocolate shako, 8 oz almond milk, tiny splash of peppermint extract, ice to taste)
  • P90X protein bars (use sparingly, but they are GREAT to keep in your purse/bag)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with a handful of berries
  • 1 banana and a handful of almonds or walnuts
  • small serving (inner line of your palm) no-salt-added trail mix
  • cup of green tea and 1/2 whole grain sandwich or wrap
  • Quest bar

Keep in mind that real food should always be the focus, but whipping up a shake or putting together a snack isn’t always an option in the car :)

Make sure your portions stay small and your body keeps moving and you’ll be there in NO time!

Peace, love, snacks and lunges!

Michelle

Workout Wednesday: Jen Rankin

This is fellow Texas girl Jen Rankin. Check out what she has to say about True Strength and get motivated!

You can find Jen on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more motivation :)

 

Be a Calendar Girl!

One of the biggest issues we face in the kitchen begins at the grocery store. Do you know your seasons?

The majority of your time (and basket space) should be taken up in the produce section, but it can be difficult to know what is “in” and what’s out. Nowadays you can eat just about anything in any season you want right? I know here in South East Texas we usually have Summer, about a week of possible winter and several weeks at any given time of the year that may feel like Fall or Spring :) So what’s a fit gal or guy to do? I have that covered with this handy list of in-season produce to get you through your warmer months.

Spring:

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Chives
  • Collard Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Honeydew Melon

Summer:

  • Tomatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Garlic
  • Strawberries
  • Bell Peppers
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Peaches
  • Blueberries
  • Zucchini
  • Endive

These are just a few of the staples for the warmer seasons. A good rule of thumb when shopping the local grocer is to shop on the cheap. No really, look for bargains in produce! If it’s in-season then it is producing like crazy. The more of these types of produce, the fresher they are and the cheaper the cost. Why? Well, since it’s in-season the store gets more of it. Think about trying to grill asparagus in the dead of winter….it can be super expensive for one little bunch! But come May you can grab asparagus on the cheap AND enjoy more health benefits since it’s actually in its season and didn’t need any intervention to grow. Right now, strawberries are going down slightly in price, but they are still a bit tart in taste. Their season will come in the Summer and prices will cheaper while the fruit is sweeter! It really is a win/win situation when it comes to buying in-season.

Apples are a staple in my home, but did you know that they truly don’t come in season until Fall? So, what if you subscribe to the “apple a day” adage? Choose the ones on sale at the grocer. These are usually a different variety of apple (shipped from up North to here usually) and can come into season just a bit early.

The most annoying thing about produce is dropping your hard-earned cash and then it goes bad right? That’s another reason to know your seasons. Unless you live in the tropics (lucky you!) bananas are shipped in and can ripen and rot SUPER quick in the Summer. You don’t have to stop eating them, just buy smaller bunches. If you notice they’re ripening before you’re ready, peel them and pack them for the freezer. Frozen bananas make great smoothies and really awesome ice cream for finicky taste buds. Frozen fruits and vegetables work well when you can’t find what you need in season. They are usually cheaper and last longer. I encourage everybody to keep them on hand, just don’t replace all your fresh food with them!

Eating Clean doesn’t have to be super expensive and it certainly isn’t boring. When you eat in-season, your menu is constantly changing. Go with the flow and celebrate nourishing your body. Your body will then thank you later :)

Stay healthy,

 

Michelle

 

Nutrition News: Why You NEED Carbs

Welcome to your nutrition station :)

I hope you’ve fueled up with a good breakfast and are ready to go this Hump Day! As we forge ahead in our nutrition series, I think it’s important to address a BIG area of concern: CARBS

clean carbs

As my beautiful nutrition mentor and eat clean queen suggests, we all NEED carbs since they play such a huge role in fat burning and muscle building…..we just need to be selective about the source of our carbs.

flat abs breakfast

Clean carbs extend far beyond the general notion of breads and pastas. Carb sources include most of your plants, fruits and veggies, as well as other carb sources such as quinoa, oats, oat bran and even the almond milk you put in your coffee. These are all good, clean sources of carbs and should be enjoyed DAILY in your diet.

So, what is it that carbs do for you?

apple

For starters, carbs are your body’s most preferred fuel source for energy. If you look at competitive athletes and bodybuilders, the one’s who have been in the game the longest still eat carbs instead of relying on pre-workout drink mixes and fake sugars packed with caffeine. Why? Because your body can easily break carbs down into a usable fuel source (i.e. the glucose we store in our liver and muscles for the body to use during training). As we continue, let me clear up a common myth: there is no “fat burning zone”. At the end of the day, when we refer to fat loss, we are looking at how many calories your body can burn. By the way, I don’t rely on those fancy gadgets worn around certain body parts to tell me how many cals I burn per day….I look at how hard I work and how my clothes fit.

So, in the case of carbs, you have 2 kinds: simple and complex. When we think of simple, we usually think SUGAR. This is not too far off the mark, but I want to expand just a little. Simple sugars consist of either one or two molecules. One-molecule carbs are known as monosaccharides and include glucose, fructose and galactose…all of which are easy to digest. This means if these are taken in directly prior to training or playing a sport, your body can break them down for fuel very efficiently. If they are taken in before sitting at your desk for 4 straight hours, you body breaks them down and packs them into the storage unit, i.e. your fat molecules. So, watch those labels and think about your food. Two-moleculed simple carbs are called disaccharides and include sucrose, lactose, maltose and high fructose corn syrup. These are man-made and much harder for the body to break down in time of need. Lactose is, of course, the sugar in cow’s milk. More and more people are becoming allergic to this as a result of poor nutrition habits.

Complex carbs contain 3-20 molecules. Some are great, clean carbs (such as oats, brown rice, vegetables and quinoa) others are man-made, such as maltodextrins which are found in a variety of sports drinks. These belong to the oligosaccharides family :) . The polysaccharides are composed of more than 20, sometimes up the thousands of carb molecules. Have I lost you already??? Stay with me, you might learn something awesome :) If complex carbs have more molecule, this naturally makes them harder to break down right? So why do we need to choose them over the simple-sugar cousins down the road? Complex carbs provide indigestible fiber, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, gums, and pectins, and are extremely important for gastrointestinal health and disease prevention (particularly Type 2 Diabetes and certain forms of cancer).

So , the question remains: which carbs do we eat? The answer: selective carbs. What do I mean? I’m glad you asked :)

carbs

Without the proper consumption of carbs, we lack the muscle-building and fat burning know how within the human body. Most bodies require the same nutrients, just in different amounts based on genetics and lifestyle. So, if you are preparing for a long run in the morning, a breakfast consisting of oats, fruit, honey and a small protein source (egg, whey protein, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese) would be ideal. However, if you play desk jockey for hours on end, a small protein shake may be more beneficial (or a small egg and English muffin). I am a HUGE fan of eating oatmeal just before my workouts. I keep it clean and simple, adding fruits and maybe a dash of honey. This gives me the carbs my body needs to get started (from the fruit) and the carbs my body needs to keep me going AND start the recovery process (the oats).

It boils down to this: there is NO one true nutrient that needs to be completely cut out of your diet. NOTE: sugar is NOT a nutrient and simple sugar itself is not beneficial to the body. Our bodies were made to be highly efficient, but it is MY firm belief that we have “dieted” ourselves into inefficiency. We have disease that has not existed in the past (pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance) due to overall poor health and low standards for nutrition. Raise the bar for yourself! You now know that your body has needs and will be much more willing to do the work to shed the weight if you seek to meet those needs.

Need a little more help? I offer plenty of nutrition options online to get you started. Everything from meal plans to nutrition counseling. Think in basics though: know what you eat, take care of your health.

Until next time, HAVE A HEALTHY DAY!

Michelle

Happy Holidays: Thirsty Thursday Edition

WOW! November is almost over and the Christmas season is in full swing. It can get crazy during this time of year and I’m sure you  have your own stresses to deal with. Why not take a few moments and chill out with a good stretch, a nice fire, and maybe a few kitchen concoctions to lighten the mood :)

Belly De-Bloater

IN large container mix:

1 large cucumber, washed and thinly sliced

1 large Meyer lemon, washed and thinly sliced

1 handful of mint leaves, washed

Pure drinking water to fill

Stir ingredients together and chill, then drink throughout the day to minimize tummy bloat :)

ACV Miracle Worker

If you suffer from a sluggish digestive system, consider adding this warming and stimulating drink to your daily intake. I drink a large mug 2-3 times per day.

Juice of 1/4 large lemon

2 tablespoons all natural apple cider vinegar

Fill mug with hot water and sip away.

Clean Hot Cocoa

In small sauce pan heat over medium heat:

1 cup skim milk

Then whisk in

2 tablespoons no sugar added dark cocoa

Sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger

Splash of all natural vanilla

Agave or stevia to taste (remember to allow the chocolate to shine through).

Here’s to healthy holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

Michelle

 

 

 

Fun N Fit FRIDAY!

So, as we move into the weekend, what comes to mind? Is your weekend full of adventure and fun? Or is it the more mundane tasks that await?

If you find yourself in the latter end, no worries! You can take the opportunities given to make sure you get some extra, fun movement into your everyday lifestyle.

  1. Choose to start the day out right! I am well aware that not everybody appreciates the early morning weekend hours like I do :) , but you can choose to get your fit on before breakfast. Check out the fitness page on Hulu.com for FREE workout vids. Most of which are about 10 minutes long. You can pick anything, from Pilates and dance, to kickboxing and weight lifting. It doesn’t have to last an hour to brighten your mood.
  2. Plan your meals/snacks in advance. This time of year a lot of us are headed to the ball park to watch the kids play. Don’t succumb to ball park food! It’s not just the calories, but this type of food is highly processed and the more you ingest throughout your lifetime (how many years have your kids been playing ball?) the slower your metabolism will be.
  3. While at the park, get OFF the bleachers and stop being the bench warmer in life. Yeah, I said it…. You can cheer your little ones even better while standing and moving, keeping your blood flowing, oxygenating your brain for better function, and showing that you really are involved!
  4. I know you need to clean the house (as most of us do!) so split up the chores and make it a game. Got young ones? Make them honorary detectives and send them on a “hunt” for items that need to be put up. Then, end the housecleaning with a walk. If a local ice cream parlor ends up on your walk, well then it was meant to be! :)
  5. Plan a little park time. Take the kids to the park and challenge them to chin ups on the monkey bars. By the way, totally cool if you “let” your kids win! Run around the park with them, or walk through the glorious nature around.
  6. Lounging by the pool? Not if you’re fit! Laying out is detrimental to your skin (SPF ALWAYS!) and your waistline, so get moving. Swimming is good, water volleyball is even better. Challenge others to a game, or see which one of your kids can out do you on laps. Make it fun and make it count!

No matter what the weekend has in store, it’s up to you to become an active participant in your life. So get moving and find the FUN!

Michelle

P.S. I’ll be trying out paintball for the very first time this weekend. I’ll let you how it goes!

FOOD PREP

One of the MOST important tools in your nutrition tool box is food prep. It’s taking a little time to accomplish a lot for your health and fitness goals. So, I took some pics during my food prep the other day and thought I’d give you a quick rundown on what goes down :) in my kitchen.

After grocery trips, I usually try to lay the produce on the counter. If I can’t get to it that day, then I make sure I have time within 24 hours. The deal is, we used to waste money on produce that would go bad. After I started setting aside time to prep my food, viola’! Money saved. Simple steps for your produce:

  • Wash everything (except strawberries). I wash fruits and veg separate, but I dump them ALL in and give them a good wash.
  • Portion what needs be portioned. Grapes should be 1/2 cup and fit well into snack bags. I chop my veggies (you can have 2 cups at a time of those) and place them in plastic containers.

 

 

 

During the veg prep, I cook whatever meals I can cook. Be a little careful with this step as I have been known to cook way too many meals at once and then we can’t eat them all! General rule of thumb: a family of 4 can go through 3 meals per week, plus snacks and lunches.

 

 

Portion out what needs to be portioned, especially if you’re taking it on the go. There is nothing that will kill your nutritional endeavors faster than unpreparedness! Baggies and small, reusable containers are your best friends when it comes to grab and go nutrition. Buy things in bulk, such as nuts and rice cakes, whole grain crackers, etc. and make sure you portion them out once you get home. Eating directly from the bag is always a bad idea.

Keep in mind that you will have to give up some time as you first start food prep. It’s like any skill though, it can be learned. Get the whole family involved! Mom, that means you’ll have to give up your pursuit of perfectly chopped and sliced veggies and let the kids help. It’s better for all of you in the end :) Once I got the hang of food prep, it takes me less than 1 hour to get things ready for the ENTIRE WEEK! Hello? That’s the excuse everybody gives, so I’m calling you out. The easiest way to start is to plan a minimum of 3 days worth of meals and snacks. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can bump it up to 5, then all the way to 6 or 7 without any fuss at all. You’ll find that this will help you stay on track and promote overall better eating habits in your family. Be prepared, and there’s no way you can fail :)

Here’s to living the FIT life!

Michelle