What would a nutritionist do?

This time of year tends to be hectic for most and down right crazy for some, but there is an easy way to stay on track with your goals and keep your energy up.

WHAT IS IT?!?

The answer is found in your food!

Don’t clock out on me now people. This is important stuff. Just pay attention for a few more minutes…

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We get busy this time of year AND, let’s face it, we crave the goodies that seem to be more socially acceptable around the season. So we end up eating more overall as well as eating foods that don’t contribute to our energy levels in a positive way. HOLD UP: “You’re not really going to tell me to diet during the holidays are you?!?” Of course not! I don’t believe in deprivation at any time of the year, and I am a firm believer in little indulgences during the season. What I am going to do is let you in on the little secrets I use to stay in..ahem…bikini shape even during the holidays. Hey, you never know, somebody may gift me with a trip to the islands (hint, hint).

lemons

Let’s get started on those little tricks shall we? Grab a pen…

  1. Lemon water. You can do this ANYTIME during the day (or all day if you fancy it). Take the juice of 1/2-1 whole lemon and squeeze it into 16-24 oz water. Sip on it throughout the day OR drink it as a hot beverage. This trick livens up your liver so you can burn off more fat.
  2. Liquid meals. Now, I want to be very clear here: I do not promote meal replacements. I think they are part of the problem in our lack of weight loss and results. I do however, choose to enjoy a smoothie each day as one of my meals. I have a favorite meal and you can get the recipe for that right here in the archives. Check around this site or the great wide web for Whole Foods Smoothie recipes. These should be easy to make and top off at a calorie count of about 180-300, depending on the additions you throw in. I drink mine for breakfast, post workout, but feel free to figure out when you most enjoy yours.
  3. Don’t skip meals…but pay attention when you’re NOT hungry at meal time. This one can get confusing, but I’ll try to clear it up quick. Eat 4-6 small meals a day. The actual number will depend on your own lifestyle. I eat 5-6 times per day, BUT I wake up at 4 a.m. and I move most of the day. If your designated meal time (which should be about 3-4 hours after the last time you ate) has you still feeling full, the chances that you ate too much at your last meal are 100%. Scale down your portions to ensure you are hungry AND burning more fat, plus avoiding that pesky afternoon slump, all day long.
  4. Move daily. This time of year is actually a bit of a break for me. I tend to stick to whatever workouts I really and truly enjoy. Why? It keeps me moving. Yours can be walking, running, weight lifting, aerobics classes, Pilates, yoga, skipping, 10 minute sessions, WHATEVER! Just make it a point to move more. More movement doesn’t have to be all about weight loss. More movement throughout your day will help your joints, skin and even your energy levels and mindset. SO pick something fun and go get it!
  5. Hydrate. Even though it’s cold, you still need to drink water. If you indulge in extra sweets or alcohol, drink an extra 8-16 ounces that night before bed. Hydration is key to fat burning and warding off depression that can sometimes creep up in the colder months.

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Don’t forget! You can still grab a FREE copy of my new book: 5 Steps to Surviving the Holidays to get meal plans, workouts, recipes and even stress relief tips. Just email me at michelle@michellecfitness.com to find out how!

Healthy Holidays!

Michelle

All I Want for Christmas is ABS

Bikini body abs should be a year round thing. Why? Because strong abs indicate killer dedication to your sport and if you work out regularly, guess what? You totally have a sport!

So, how do you GET killer abs and how do you maintain them?

Abs have always been my problem spot. I hold water and fat there like I’m in the middle of a plague. When I eat a few too many treat cals, they tend to party on top of my abs. If I miss workouts, the abs tell me. Now, perhaps they are my problem spot because I have always been most self-conscious about them, but we’ll move on none the less…

Since the holidays are upon us, it would be nice to have a helping hand in the ab department right? Just to be clear, I’m not talking about a clearly cut 6 pack over Christmas. What I am proposing is a holiday without bloating and crying over jeans that OBVIOUSLY shrunk in the dryer…duh. How does that sound? Pretty good right? I mean, how awesome would it feel to wear the same jeans you wore in July on Christmas day? Rock on.

What will it take from you? Easy. I’ll be doing the leg work. I’m going to be posting my workouts and meals via Twitter and Instagram. Now, since my insta feed goes directly to Twitter, you need only follow one and it’s RIGHT HERE. My workouts will consist of DVD’s I have reviewed on the blog. I’ll be totally honest with you up front: I’m doing a blend of Turbo Fire, Chalene Extreme, and P90X2. My diet is pretty basic with no crazy foods you have to travel across the globe to obtain. Don’t own the workouts? You can grab them HERE…OR you can leave a note in the comments with the DVD’s you do own and I’ll let you know a good rotation.

Why DVD’s? This time of year requires no brainer exercise. DVD’s make it possible for you to hit play, go to town, then finish up and get on with life. You can choose ABS, cardio, strength training, etc. based on the time you have available and the energy level you have (always on high right?). In a word, it’s EASY. That’s the key when sticking to a workout regimen, especially during the holidays. Think of it like a trainer in your living room.

The diet is the biggest factor when it comes to flat abs. Be prepared for the basics as I don’t do fancy stuff when flattening abs. I can tell you what I do though: I avoid dairy, wheat, and alcohol during this time. I know, that sounds crazy around the holidays, but it can be done. Moderation will save your life :)

Need an idea of what to expect?

weight training abs

This was earlier this year when I was on Turbo Fire and P90X2 along with my flat abs eating plan. THIS was taken a mere 14 days apart! We don’t starve as that leads to more bloating. You can expect a food pic every 2-3 hours and chances are you’ll have the food on hand. So, leave a note in the comments if you want to join up! We have one month until Christmas…who wants to get their abs going BEFORE the New Year?

Peace, Love and Lunges,

Michelle

Thirsty Thursday: Pumpkin Soup and Turkey Scramble

Fall is in the air! Are you lounging in sweats yet, or is that just me?

Regardless of your outerwear choices, Fall calls upon us to nourish our bodies with warm comfort foods. Most of the times, these foods are laden with fat and salt and sugar…hence the sweats ;)

You can avoid the holiday weight gain pitfall with some planning, prep and a few good recipes. Here are two comforting foods to get you started.

Pumpkin Soup

Unlike traditional pumpkin soup, this soup is dairy free and very low in fat and calories, however it packs a punch for nutrients to keep your skin glowing throughout the colder season. Bonus: it’s a cinch to make.

Ingredients:

4-5 large carrots, washed and chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 sweet potatoes, skinned and chopped

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 large can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie)

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (EVOO can sub)

Spices of choice

Directions:

Place large soup pot on low heat and add oil.

Add in onion and a pinch of salt, allow onion to turn translucent

Add in carrots and potatoes, cooking over medium-high heat until slightly done

Add chicken stock and bring to a boil

Boil for about 5-7 minutes, then add pumpkin, stir and add spices of choice: for sweeter soup, add nutmeg, ginger and a sprinkle of cinnamon. For more savory soup add garlic powder, pepper, chili powder and paprika.

Stir together well and cook another 5 minutes or until carrots are cooked through.

Dish the soup into a high-powered blender (I favor the Vitamix) and run on speed 3 for a minute or 2. This recipe makes about 16 servings (NO LIE!) so can it up and give it away or freeze it. Always serve warm.

Turkey Scramble

This recipe can be enjoyed in the soup above for extra protein OR even as a breakfast dish. Play around with your vegetables and seasonings to make it unique each time.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey breast meat

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon EVOO

Seasonings of choice

Directions:

Place EVOO in large pan on medium heat and add onion, garlic, celery, pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions become translucent.

Add the chickpeas and cook until brown, then remove onion, garlic and chickpeas and ADD turkey. Play with your tastes here, but I love Ms. Dash for the sheer easiness of it. You can also add chili powder, red pepper flakes, black pepper and garlic powder for a chili-like taste with your soup.

Rule #1: PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD! Get to know what works best in your mouth and your kitchen. Take over your kitchen and don’t be afraid to make a mistake or 2. You’ll bounce back in no time.

Until next time….

Peace, love and lunges,

Michelle

Cook turkey until no pink shows, then drain and rinse any remaining fat and oil. Return all to the pan and add seasonings.

Top 10 Nutrition Lies That STOP You from Losing Weight: Part 2

Welcome back as we finish out this segment on nutrition lies that STOP you from reaching your weight loss goals. Remember, if you’ve fallen for some of these lies there is still hope! It’s not your fault, it’s just good marketing :)

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6. Heart healthy whole wheat is for EVERYBODY.

Ask your best friend about that. Now, I in NO WAY want to perpetuate this gluten-free cycle we have been running around with just to lose weight, SO we’re going to discuss good old-fashioned facts.

Gluten is quickly catching up to dairy (lactose) in the areas of sensitivity and allergies.

Whole wheat is the largest source of gluten.

Signs of gluten sensitivity are CHRONIC digestive issues, abdominal pain, extreme fatigue, chronic bloating (ahem, weight gain and bloating are 2 very different things), constipation, diarrhea, etc.

Best option to find out if you have a gluten sensitivity: YOUR DOCTOR! Don’t go gluten-free until your doctor says this is your only option. Whole wheat settles well with over 85% of the population and helps keep cholesterol in check as well as provide a preferred source of energy. Gluten does not make you fat or cause weight gain….stop trying that excuse.

Realize that what works for your friends will most likely not work for you, so pay attention to your body. Wheat products, just like EVERYTHING else, require moderation.

7. Meat is BAD.

This is crazy. Why? We are steadily blaming new problems on old foods! Go tell your great-grandfather (the one that lived to be 100+ and ate bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning) that meat is the enemy and the reason why you can’t lose weight. Let me know how that conversation goes for you. The PROBLEM is our butts have gotten lazier, not that we’re suddenly failing in our carnivorous approach…but that’s for another day.

While meat itself is not the culprit, what we have done to it is appalling. If your meat comes out of a pop top can, you can totally blame that (though don’t call it meat please). The over-processing of foods has “convenienced” us into the health crisis we are now fighting.

What about the statements that meat causes cancer? Well, they aren’t scientifically backed. The tests that have been done conclude that it is the CHARRING of meat (crisp it UP!) not the meat itself. Your best defense? Stop burning your meat.

Studies DO support that unprocessed red meat does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

What to do? About 4% of people on this planet can get EVERYTHING they need from a strictly vegetarian diet. If you are the other 96%, remember that moderation (that word again) and portion control are key. Learn how to properly cook your meat and stay within your recommended portions to reap the benefits.

8. Low carb Diets are dangerous and ineffective.

Before it gets confusing, I’m not talking about Atkins here. The diet I am referring to is a lifestyle where lower carb intake is required based on the life you live. For example, a 3x per week fitness class taker needs far fewer carbs than an Olympic Gold Medalist specializing in endurance sports. For our purposes here, we’re looking at the 40/30/30 split of macronutrients (proteins, carbs, fats, respectively). Over 20 randomized controlled trials around the world since 2002 have found the following about this particular diet:

  • decreased blood pressure
  • increased weight loss compared to low-fat diets
  • increased HDL and decreased triglycerides
  • changed the pattern of LDL cholesterol from small and dense LDL to large LDL (easier for the body to utilize and dispose).
  • decreased blood sugar and reduced the need for medication in Type 2 diabetics.
  • Easier to stick to most likely due to increased satiety as opposed to low-fat diets.
  • Useful to fight obesity, metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.

What can you do to jump on the health train? Look into healthy protein sources and figure out how much you need per day to follow the 40/30/30 plan. This is the same plan that I give clients seeking weight loss as well as performance enhancement and overall health and wellbeing.

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9. “Healthiest” diets are low-fat, high-carb.

Interesting enough, the low-fat, high-carb movement came in around 1977…about this time is when obesity is charted. The irony is not lost people.

Bottom line: a low-fat, high-carb diet is hard to stick to for life, therefore it is not a lifestyle change. Once you deviate from the diet, BOOM, the pounds are back and they brought friends. This diet is also proven to be dangerous for those suffering from diabetes, metabolic syndrome and/or obesity. Ditch it. Moving on…

10. Sugar is BAD…due to “empty calories”.

False. You’re excited now right? Hang on: sugar is bad for MANY other reasons…oh, sad face :( Keep reading anyways.

Sugar contains absolutely ZERO essential nutrients.

Excessive, regular sugar intake can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Sugar can increase insulin resistance, elevate blood sugars, elevate triglycerides, increase small, dense LDL, and increase abdominal obesity.

Added sugars in foods (check your labels!) have been associated with diabetes, obesity, heart disease and some cancers.

Important note: This does NOT include natural sugars found in fruits and even some vegetables. This sugar is processed and used differently, so hit up that fruit bowl people!

Second important note: PLEASE DITCH FAKE SUGAR! Splenda, Sweet n Low, etc. these are not recognized as a useable fuel source in your body. They are therefore stored in the nearest storage bin, AKA your belly fat, where they sit and play havoc all around. Diet Coke drinkers, step away, take a deep breath, go for a walk and remind yourself that just one calorie isn’t worth your mental and physical health.

So there you have the truth to the top 10 nutrition lies. If you have fallen prey to one or more, have NO FEAR! Information can be obtained to help you reach past the bull and into the light of what actually works. At the end of this year, I’m launching a system to help you reach your goals once and for all. It’s not a silver bullet or a magic pill BUT it will have you feeling magically well in no time. Stick around for more news and until then…

Peace, Love and Lunges,

Michelle

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Workout Wednesday!

Work IT Wednesday: Redefining Sexy

OK, so this can spark some conversation, but bear with me here.

Did you know that 79% of mothers suffer from personal, physical and emotional challenges, including low self-esteem? HELLO? 79% is a lot; it’s too much! These are mothers here, women who carried life and labored to bring it into the world, yet we suffer (overwhelmingly) from low self-esteem. Why? Because we never feel like it’s enough. Bringing a life into this world, balancing everything at home and work, AND making sure we look at least halfway decent when we embark upon our daily errands just doesn’t cut it. NO! we need to spin the fine thread fo making sure we take care of our bodies BUT not being overly confident about it. Are you confused yet? I sure am! Let’s cut through it, shall we? ;)

We get that fitness and healthy eating is about far more than the outward appearance, but aren’t we lying to ourselves if we say that we NEVER check out our own rear view before we leave the house? The physical rewards of regular workouts and clean eating are some of the first to show and least appreciated rewards we have. In today’s twisted society, women are considered vain and foolish for working on our physique. Why is this? It’s due to years of oppression in my opinion. Not what your thinking of though. I’m talking about the years that women have spent oppressing other women…..

Yes, you read that right and don’t try to pretend it doesn’t happen. Women can be unbelievably cruel to one another and it is one of the most effective ways we stay down. I remind my daughter (now 11 years old) that it is up to us to change how women interact with one another because I want a different future for her. Is it wrong to strive for a package that tells the world you are not afraid to work? If our bodies truly are a gift, what does the wrapping look like to the world? Are we sending a message of empowerment to the next generation, or one of judgment?

Self esteem issues run rampant in the female culture. The odd thing is it’s not the self-confident ones who keep the less confident ladies down. No, it’s the opposite. Those who feel poorly about themselves awaken daily to make others feel just as bad, if not worse. It puts a whole new spin on FEEL MY PAIN. The 79% who suffer from these issues is on the rise and will continue on throughout our future generations unless we do something.

So, what do I suggest we do? Well, there are a few suggestions for ALL of us to get out there and WORK IT:

  1. Get over yourself. You are NOT suffering from something that others have not been through and you are not going to be defeated unless YOU allow defeat. Period. That’s it. As special as you are (and YOU ARE), your circumstance is not.
  2. Realize the power you hold. YOU are an example to someone out there! Even if you don’t have kids, you have somebody, somewhere watching you. Live like it.
  3. Be honest. Yep, it stinks when we set out on a goal and our friend gets there before we ever get our shoes laced up BUT that doesn’t give us the OK the hold a grudge. Know what you have to do and make the life adjustments to do it.
  4. Stop moping. Really, do I need to say more on that? Just stop.
  5. Give yourself (and the other ladies in your life) due credit! Don’t withhold the awesome things that are happening in your life because you’re afraid it will make somebody else feel bad! God shows favor and we give Him the glory. If we are tight-lipped about the great things happening, who gets the glory? Uh, nobody, DUH! I brushed off great things for years due to fear of making others feel bad. Stop that immediately! Share your triumphs and your struggles so others can benefit. That’s what we’re here for.

These are the first 5 ways I can think of to get the ball rolling. What do you think we can change? We as women have an awesome task! We CAN be a lot of different things to different people. We are multi-tasking master of industry and we can do it all with a glossy smile and in stilettos no less! Pretty awesome right? Know that you are worth something far more than you realize and hold your sexy head up high. And honey, WORK IT!

Have a healthy day,

Michelle

By the way, Sheila K of S Factor does an AWESOME job of redefining sexy :) Check her out HERE

GOALS Part 2

Get your pen and paper ready! Today we start to break down your goals so YOU can learn how to tackle and crush any goal you set.

GOALS!!! Effective Goal Setting to Reach ANY Goal

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

 

 

 

Healthy Holiday Recipes!

These 4 recipes will get you started toward healthier holidays!

Remember, portion control is your #1 line of defense :)

 

 

Pumpkin Muffins

¾ cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup oat bran cereal (found over on top of the oatmeal and is super cheap)

½ teaspoon baking soda

1-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (to your taste)

½ cup natural sugar (sugar in the raw works)

½ teaspoon salt

 

Wet ingredients

1 mashed banana

½ cup kefir (or plain nonfat yogurt will work)

1 egg white + 1 whole egg, beaten

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (in the can, make sure it says pure pumpkin)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 carrot, peeled and grated

½ cup pitted dates (optional)

½ cup walnuts (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients in 1 bowl, wet in another then gently mix together. Spoon into muffin tins (the silver liners work best) and pop into an oven preheated to 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

 

 

 

Leftover Turkey Soup

 

Post Thanksgiving

2 cups skinless turkey breasts (white meat has less fat than dark meat)

1 cup diced celery

1 diced onion

4 minced garlic cloves

2 chopped sweet potatoes

1 diced sweet pepper (red, yellow, orange)

1 handful chopped cilantro

Dash of sea salt

Pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons chili powder

2 Teaspoons ground ginger

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1-2 cups turkey or chicken broth (no fat)

Water

 

Using a large soup pot, place olive oil, onion, garlic, celery and sweet potatoes and cook until onion becomes transparent in color. Then add the rest of the ingredients, adding enough water to cover; bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until the veggies are cooked through. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 Mexican Soup

6 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 large purple onion

2 red bell peppers, seeded

2 chili peppers, chopped

5 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 cup corn kernels

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 bouillon cubes

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons taco seasoning

1 teaspoon paprika

1 can red kidney beans, rinsed

Throw all ingredients into your Crockpot and cook on medium heat.

 

 

Chili

1 onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground turkey breast, lean beef, or bison

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 poblano pepper

1 green bell pepper

2 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 and ½ teaspoon ground cumin seeds

Ancho chilis

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can rinsed red kidney beans

 

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil

Add ground meat and brown

Season with cocoa powder, cayenne and chili powder

Add fresh peppers (poblano, bell etc)

 

In soup pot boil broth or stock

Add chopped cilantro, cumin seed, ancho chile, chopped tomatoes (or paste or sauce)

 

Transfer meat to soup pot and simmer down to your preferred consistency.

Add beans if you want.