Oh the Vanity!

I have struggled with this post for weeks now….so I figure throwing it out just before I step on a plane is the best thing to do :)

I have a confession to make: I work in a vain industry. That can be hard to adjust to, but it is inherently, the truth. I have defended the fitness industry for nearly a decade now, but have recently come to realize what it is all about.

This is NOT to say that I don’t believe in what I do. Health is comprised of nutrition and fitness, along with spiritual health (first place!) and mental health. Here is the issues I face though: vanity tends to be the #1 reason most people seek out fitness. Nutrition? That is the most treasured, yet least sought after. We want the quick fix. We want the weight that has been hanging on for 4 years (or more) to fall off in time for Summer. I do believe in the power of the mind, but some take it too far.

Why is it bothering me now?

Well, I have seen the faces of the truly needy. I have held hands with those who have been beaten and tortured. I have talked with people who feel they are unworthy to be loved. The problem is that during my “day job” I also talk to people who don’t like the way their butt jiggles. I have spoken with those who are blithely unaware of real starvation, yet willing to starve their own body into submission. I have held the hand of those in tears…because they haven’t lost the baby weight.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to mesh these 2 worlds. I believe fitness can be extremely empowering and I believe a base knowledge of nutrition can help us avoid disease. I love what I do! Yet it feels like a daily parade of never-ending “I wants” drowning out the true needs.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bring you down…I do think a change in perspective is in order though.

I have a personal story about that and it has unfolded just over the past few months. You see, I was into the vanity part of fitness (admitting you have a problem is the first step!). I paid undo attention to my clothing size and how the muscles of my body were shaped. And I truly hated jiggle. So, I spent hours in the gym and pumped my body with protein to grow tight and lean….and it was all going according to plan, until it didn’t. I began having joint issues, then all of the sudden my strength just gave out. Poof, done. I wouldn’t stop though and simply adjusted over the years. Finally, over the last 6 weeks, I have been living out a promise I made to myself at the beginning of the Summer. It’s working. I had told myself I wouldn’t worry about weight or size, I would do yoga, walk and whatever truly felt good. And that is precisely what I have done. I discovered that I had developed an intolerance to gluten, yeast, eggs and whey….so my diet has none of that (or as little as possible). I eat for energy and to feel good. I move daily, but never push myself too hard (no pain, all gain).

This is a different approach for me. I have been in a “weight loss” phase since I was 9 years old people! I have always struggled to keep my weight down. I’ll admit I was quite fearful embarking on this feel good approach, but guess what? My weight hasn’t been an issue. I don’t weight, but my clothes have gotten much looser and my belly doesn’t struggle with the pooch anymore. It’s like my body finally got happy because it was allowed to be happy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If I was needing to lose 50 pounds (I’ve been at that doctor appointment love), this relaxed approach probably wouldn’t work. My thought is this though: stop trying to beat yourself up about it. It really is a lifestyle and honestly, yours should look different from everybody else. You can’t punish your body into changing 30 years of damage in 2 weeks, no matter what the infomercial says. If you want to try that hard new workout, do it because you want the challenge…not because you think you’re past all hope.

I challenge you to peel back the corners of your world and think bigger. Take a deep breath and take in the bigger picture because the world is a whole lot bigger than your butt! Once your mind can get focused on something other than your own perceived failures, you’re more free to make the needed changes.

Michelle

The Bikini Body Equation

OK, I have to admit that I am no mathlete….however, my parents were totally right when they told me I would use math every day.

Don’t let the title fool you, you don’t have to be set on wearing a bikini to feel better all over. What I really want to talk to you about is a feel good formula that is often overlooked today.

The 80/20 Rule

It’s actually pretty basic. For 80% of your time, try to keep 80% of your foods as close to nature as can be. Eat real food people! Don’t give me that bull about it not being convenient. Really, peeling a banana is a huge inconvenience? Perhaps washing that apple just takes too much energy….yeah right. Eating healthy is easy and affordable, so long as you stick to the basics.

Produce:

Pick the cheap stuff! When produce is in season, it will be marked cheaper at your local market. Ears of corn 10 for $1? SCORE! Grab them up and roast, grill or even microwave them. During the warmer months, citrus fruits and lighter veggies are all in season. Pick mindfully and enjoy abundantly.

Stock up on frozen veggies. Vegetables are usually picked at the peak of freshness and then flash frozen so they do retain nutrients. If the produce aisle is looking ragged or they don’t have what you need, consider stocking up on frozen ones instead. Bonus: if you always have some veggies in the freezer, you can always have veggies on hand.

Grains:

Keep them whole and close to nature. For abounding energy and overall health, plus the addition of a flatter belly, try ditching bread 80% of the time. The whole yeast/gluten/sugar combo (even in whole grains) can wreak havoc on the digestive system, therefore affecting the metabolism. When choosing grains, head for quinoa, brown rice, oats, bran, millet, barley, etc. These are utilized more readily and assimilated for energy easier in their closer to nature states.

Proteins:

Keep them lean and try to have them later in the day. Fish is an excellent source of protein for overall health and you can consume it several times per week. I eat fish almost every day from a variety of sources, as variety is key to a healthy diet. Turkey, chicken and lean red meat and game are also good sources of animal protein. Plant protein can also be consumed in tofu, tempeh, hemp, brown rice, etc. Know what works best for your body and vary it up.

Fats:

I actually eat lots of healthy fats. I mean, if eating an entire avocado a day is wrong, then I don’t want to be right! Stick to healthy, close to nature fats such as avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, natural nut butters (especially almond), etc. These help to keep skin hydrated and supple, just remember that portions should be smaller.

The final key to being ready to strut in your bikini (or shorts, jeans, dress or suit)….

Confidence:

I encourage this 100% of the time. The people who make an entrance, make an impression and ultimately make an impact have confidence, not perfection. None of us have a perfect body or skin. Even super models (as blessed as they are) do get air brushed. Considering the fact that we don’t walk around with portable airbrushing machines, let go of your insecurities and hold your head high. The number one way to do this is to stop comparing yourself to others. The second way to this is to stop judging others. When a judgemental thought about someone else pops into your head, send it packing! When we judge others, we tend to feel judged as well.

Here are my top tips to boosting my own confidence. Hey, I speak in public for a living and spend loads of time in spandex :) Steal what works for you!

  1. Try on EVERYTHING! I actually still shop for clothes in person, not online. Even the same company can make jeans that fit totally different. Don’t tie yourself to one size, think more of fit.
  2. Throw away the scale. I’m tired of this fight….let it go, you’ll feel better once the withdrawal lets up.
  3. Adopt a personal mantra. Mine is a powerful Bible verse: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25
  4. Workout to feel good and increase, not decrease, energy.
  5. Eat foods that nourish your body and your body will return the favor….just give it time :)

Hopefully these few tips will help you on your road to health and wellness. Beware of quick fix detours and remember to never give up!

Michelle

 

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Mini Carrot Cakes

I know it is past Easter BUT…you can enjoy these sweet treats anytime :)

INgredients:

1 cup ground oatmeal

1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose, gluten-free flower (you can find this in the health food section of your store)

1 TBSP baking powder

1/2 salt

1 TBSP ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup succunat or coconut sugar (natural sweetener will do)

1 full cup egg white only ( I use egg beaters whites) beaten until frothy

4 grated carrots

1 TBSP melted coconut oil (unprocessed)

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

BAKING:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients (sans sugar) in a large bowl and wet ingredients (+sugar) in smaller bowl.

Gently mix wet into dry ingredients just until moist.

I use an ice cream scoop to dish mixture evenly into lined (or oiled/sprayed) muffin tins.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until center is done.

These are around 70 calories a piece and actually low in carbs and fats with the ratios being about 60/30/10 (in percentage from carbs, proteins, fats)

Eat them warm with a hot cup of cinnamon tea and enjoy!

 

Michelle

 

 

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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

 

 

 

Thirsty Thursday!

Can you believe we are so close to the weekend already? Hello Summer!

As we enter into the warmer months, it is important to stay hydrated and what better way than with luscious drinks that also increase your beauty and radiance? Yeah, I thought you’d like that! Read on for a few of my current favorite indulgences :)

Infused Ice Cubes

Water is great in and of itself, but I find it’s much more fun to drink if it has a little personality.

Simply crush fruits of your choice and place them into old school ice trays (about 1/3 of the cube), then cover with water and freeze. Need an extra nutrient and skin hydrating boost? Use coconut water!

Some fruits to choose from and mix are:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe melon
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Watermelon

You can mix and match too. Have fun with it and get the kids involved!

Fruit Flavored Water Pitcher

OK, I keep this in a large glass pitcher right in my fridge. We can all dig into it any time we need something a little extra refreshing.

  • 1 lemon, finely sliced
  • 1 lime, finely sliced
  • 1 cucumber, finely sliced
  • A few mint sprigs

Place into pitcher then cover with pure water OR coconut water if you’re in the mood for more hydration.

TAZO Passion Iced Tea

You can totally get this at the Starbuck’s drive through for less than the coffees! PLUS, it’s packed with antioxidants for glowing skin. Another benefit is the hydration factor. Most of the time when we reach for caffeine, we really need water, or in this case, tea. Skip the sweetening syrup though, it will take fluids out of the body. You can also buy Tazo Iced Teas at your local grocer and make it by the pitcher. :)

Slimming Berry Smoothie

You know how you wash your berries and then they tend to start molding as soon as you bat your eyelashes? Yeah, embrace that they are in full season and at the peak of antioxidant perfection! Just don’t eat the mold ;) . I place mine in freezer bags once I start to notice them moving into adolescence, then I can use them for a super slimming smoothie. Plus, I saved money by using the food I bought.

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (for protein)
  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk (I prefer the almond/coconut milk blend on the market now)
  • 1 handful blueberries
  • 1 handful blackberries
  • 1 handful raspberries
  • 2-3 large frozen strawberries
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Stevia to taste (you can opt out of this one and leave it plain. At their freshest, berries are very sweet)

You can have a 24 oz glass (whoa! That’s huge) for about 150 calories. Hello slimmer you! The health benefits of this smoothie are a better running digestive system, clearer skin and even a boost in metabolism. If you’re drinking it post workout feel free to add a banana for extra potassium.

I hope you enjoy your slimming sips this Summer! Get creative and make sure you stop by to share your recipes.

Have a healthy day!

Michelle

Thirsty Thursday!

Welcome to your very first Thirsty Thursday!

Today is a real treat as I am going to post 4 recipes to satisfy cravings, bring more vitality to the body, brighten the skin, strengthen the hair and nails, and just make you feel great all over!

Avocado Smoothie

This smoothie has recently been added to my diet and I am in love with it. It is VERY rich and decadent, not for those seeking a lot of weight loss. If you are trying to drop weight, just use 1/2 the avocado for the benefits of healthy fats, but 1/2 the added fat and calories to your diet.

Ingredients:

1 ripe avocado, pitted and halved

1/2 cup organic low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 cup almond milk

3 tablespoons local honey

1 teaspoon milled flax

handful of ice

Throw into blender and puree. The avocado is tasteless but lends a wonderful, lush richness to this smoothie PLUS it helps with hair, skin and nail health :)

Recipe from Sadie Nardini, www.sadienardini.com

Tropical Shakeology Mojito

This is one of my favorite ways to get my motor running on a blah day :)

Ingredients:

4 oz plain coconut water

6 oz water

several mint sprigs (to your taste)

1 frozen banana

1 scoop Tropical strawberry Shakeology

handful of ice

Blend until smooth, garnish with extra mint is desired :)

Super Quick Hydrating Tropical Wonder

I am a HUGE fan of coconut water! It hydrates the body’s cells faster than regular water and more efficiently (without all the toxins left behind) than sports drinks.

Ingredients:

1 Shakeology Shaker Cup (or ANY shaker cup of choice, as you will not be using a blender)

8 oz O.N.E. mango and peach coconut water (they have other flavors, this just happens to be my fave)

1 scoop Tropical Strawberry Shakeology

Put liquid in the Shako. Mix thoroughly until smooth :)

Get up and GLOW Juice

This requires an actual juicer. If you have one, awesome. If you’re thinking of investing in a juicer I really enjoy it and the health benefits are outstanding! I do suggest you do your research and get the best bang for your buck. I drink this to help keep my system in and alkaline state, healthy and strong.

Ingredients:

2 tart apples

1/2 head of romaine lettuce

4 carrots

1 cup swiss chard

1 cup spinach

1 cup kale

1 oz fresh ginger

4 celery stalks

1 cup fresh parsley

few mint sprigs

1 lemon

Rough cut all the ingredients and send them through the juicer. Pour over ice and enjoy! This makes about 28 oz, which you can drink total for breakfast or split into 2 servings. :)

Enjoy the Fit Life today!

Michelle

www.livingbytheblood.com

 

 

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

Do not adjust your screen…just your attitude

Happy Monday Progress-full People! Name not working? We’ll try a different one later.

So, how are you feeling today? Over in my area it’s getting quite rainy and when it rains here, everything gets super slick! It’s a little chilly too which makes for perfect nap conditions as well. There’s no napping here though! Well, there is, but not today! I feel compelled to spread a great secret for not only reaching your health and fitness goal, but for reaching ANY goal AND living a fullfilling life. Are you ready for it?

BE POSITIVE!

Wait a minute, that’s it? You bet. And don’t try to sell me that optimist/pessimist bullarky (real word!) because I am a firm believer that we choose our tudes! If your attitude is negative and dumpy then guess what? You’re outer appearance will follow suit. That’s whay I’m always telling my classes to hold their heads high, put their chest out, and head up. Your attitude affects everything from your workout to your eating habits, to your general effectiveness in life. So, since you’re online right now I want you to do an experiment. If you have Facebook (if you don’t I have to ask REALLY?!?) go to your wall and look at your posts over the past months. It has to be your own personal wall and get there fast before you get sucked into looking at baby and vacation pics of people you don’t even know! Now, scroll through and honestly assess what you sound like to the whole world… BTW, if you don’t have FB go through your texts, yikes!

 

 

 

I gave you a minute. How did that go? Before we delve much deeper, I think it is important to note that we are called to build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:10-12 ) So, how do you fare as a builder? You see, the problem with this much freedom (hello internet!) is that we tend to spew negativity out like we’re barfing up last night’s bad chinese. Yeah, I went there! That’s how it sounds. AND to make matters worse, once it’s out there, man is it out there. Even if you delete a post, people can still find it. I like to think that the people who can still track down my posts don’t really care about little me, but still. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEW! I’m totally making that into a bumper sticker…

So, why do I care what you say? I’m sure some of you are wondering right now what you said to offend me and the truth is: nothing. This isn’t about me, it’s about helping you. I made loads of spewing mistakes for years, but I learned the great things that can happen if you just take a little extra time. If you put out negativity, that IS what will come back to you. I like to think of it as the boomerang principle. If all you do is talk poorly about your job, spouse, kids, fitness class, food, diet, day to day activities, in-laws, body, capabilities, finances,  etc. you will NOT make any of that any better, period. Let’s see, if you had a lot of negative talk in the above experiment can you honestly say things just got better? Of course not! That’s one of those facts of life friend. So how do you FIX IT? I’m so glad you asked, let’s get on it:

  1. Slow down before you speak, text, post, etc. Take a fraction of a second and think about the implications of where you might go with this. If you need to blow off steam, do so with a TRUSTED confidant and make sure it’s not gossip; you aren’t tacky like that.
  2. Reread before you post/send. I have to do this because I mispell since I try to type so fast! It’s also an opportunity to make sure this is not a “Hey world, look at me feeling all sorry for myself and trying to ruin your day too” moment.
  3. Let go. This can be super hard and you may find that once you let go, you chase that hurtful feeling down again and try to grab it. If that happens, let go again. It will take time, but I assure you the freedom you gain from no longer allowing negativity to rule is totally worth it.

Now, in class I always tell my peeps to talk positively to themselves. Why? Your mind is the most powerful thing you have! Your mind can be your strongest asset, or it can be the cause of your downfall. You have to decide what you will say and focus on. Things like “I jiggle when I jump”, “pushups are hard for me”, I’m tired”, “I hate sweating”, “this workout is too much”, “I can’t keep up” must stop invading your thoughts. YOU CONTROL THAT! Say, “I am getting stronger”, “This is hard, but I can do it”, “I am more than this”, “What is hard today will be easier tomorrow”. Flip your switch and be a bright light to the rest of the world.

Shine on,

Michelle

 

http://beachbodycoach.com/MichelleCFIT