Finding My Happy Space

Happy Hump Day!

This morning I was able to spend some time in one of my favorite places in the house: my kitchen.

While some won’t think this odd at all, I must confess that I times I disregard my love for the kitchen. Sometimes I simply don’t want to enter it for fear of dirty dishes and big messes. Can any other moms and dads relate here?

The kitchen has always been a vital part of my life. On weekends, my mom could often be found in the kitchen making a true southern breakfast, complete with biscuits, eggs, pancakes AND bacon! I also remember baking chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen and learning the bare (EXTREMELY bare!) basics of baking. The kitchen has always signified a place of nurturing. Unfortunately, as I embarked upon my weight loss journey, my love for  the kitchen dimmed.

My second confession today is that I love food! I really do :) I love crisp, fresh salads and rich, creamy soups just the same. And I can get really excited over  a well cooked hamburger too! Food has seemingly always been a passion for me, so it’s natural that I became a nutritionist. The funny thing is that with my emotional roller coaster with food, I haven’t begun to utilize my nutritionist skills until recently. Here is the very basic thing you need to understand about food: IT WAS MADE TO BE ENJOYED.

You read that right! When did food become the enemy? Ahem…..somewhere in the early 80′s when “diet gurus” starting butting in and telling us what to eat. Have you noticed something? The DIET industry is BOOMING…and so are our waistlines and worse, disease. Coincidence? Well, that’s another post entirely and it is coming :) Food is not your enemy and your enjoyment of food needn’t be martyred to lose weight. In fact, if we would learn to relax and nourish our bodies with what they need (NOBODY needs a Big Mac and fries people), then the body is more complying with letting go of unwanted weight. I speak the truth!

So, I have made a shift from killing my body in the gym to pouring my heart out in the kitchen. My husband and kids LOVE when these moments come around! My intent is to spend time in my happy space every day, preparing meals that nourish us from the inside out. So, that’s all great, but what’s in it for you right? Well, I’ll be sharing my happy space journey with you. I’ll let you in on all the happenings, including the kitchen updates and new gadgets. I just got a Vitamix (OBSESSED!) and I’m in desperate need of picking a color for the kitchen walls. All of it, from recipe remakes to failures to videos on how to ensure you shop your store smart, stock your pantry with confidence, travel light (intestinally speaking) and even make your own dressings and kimchi (oh yes, YOU can do this!).

Why am I doing this? Every good nutritionist (the GOOD ones!) have periods of self experimentation. This ensures that what is being recommended actually works. Through years of research, I have noticed the one common denominator for those seeking help to lose weight or overcome illness is this: FOOD. It’s not that our bodies are just lazy, our food isn’t working FOR us. Actually, over the past couple of decades our food has begun working against us. Any kind of workout will help most people feel better IF they are feeding themselves well. My intention is to make that possible. Eating healthful is not impossible, no matter your career choice or current life situations. Come along for the ride and get ready for vibrant health, renewed energy and all the weight loss your body needs.

From our kitchen to yours,

kitchen help

 

Michelle

 

The Essential Tight Skin Diet Smoothie

Good Monday Morning!

So, you know that I am a big fan of the kitchen right? I love to play around and come up with clean recipes and tasty treats, but these won’t do me a lot of good unless they fuel my body and help propel me towards my goals. So, I wanted to share with you a Tight Skin Diet staple for my mornings. Yep, I blend this beauty up and drink it every single morning. It’s great for those of you who are dealing with weight loss plateaus as well as skin issues. The nutrition in this smoothies gives you 5-7 servings of your fruits and veggies for the day! You read that right. And it’s great for all you veggie haters out there (you know who you are!). The fruit is what you taste and I’ll even give you some tips to make it more palatable if need be. I drink an ENTIRE blenderful every day and it has even replaced my daily multi-vitamin. This shake is great if you’re just starting out on whole foods or trying to incorporate some more veggies into your diet. It helps increase fat burning, decrease free radicals and amp up that healthy skin glow. Think of it as your beauty shake, from the inside out. :)

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Ingredients:

8 oz pure, clean water

1/4 cup low-fat yogurt, plain

1 handful spinach

3 romaine lettuce leaves

2 celery stalks

1 small green apple

1 small green pear

1 banana

1/4-1/2 small avocado

2 carrots (I suggest these ONLY if you have a Vitamix or high-powered blender)

small handful of berries (I usually use blueberries as they are a TSD staple)

Ice to desired consistency

Stevia or raw honey to taste if necessary

If you are the happy owner of a Vitamix, throw it all in and blend on high. If you another blender, start with the water and cruciferous veggies (spinach, lettuce, celery) then add the fruits with the avocado and banana being last. Make sure all fruits and veggies are washed!

Like I said before, this is a big blender full and I personally drink the whole thing every morning :)

If you aren’t in the mood, I suggest placing the rest in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and place in the fridge. It will stay fresh for up to 48 hours after making it. You can feel free to drink some in the morning as well as the afternoon if you like and play around with your fruits and veggies! Be playful in the kitchen. Some fruits/veggies to try:

  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Mint leaves (a little goes a LONG way)
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Tomatoes
  • Melons
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi

There really isn’t an end. Pineapple has a stronger flavor and can mask veggie taste if you desire that, although growing up and getting over it is another option for you ;)

Be adventurous in your own kitchen! Don’t have time to whip this up every morning? Do it at night and have your jar ready to go as you walk out the door.

It takes me less than 4 minutes from fridge to cup for this bad boy and I reap the benefits of going green daily.

Let me know what you come up with!

 

Michelle

 

Fun Friday! New Weight Loss Series

Monday, January 21, I will be launching a new series that deals with goal setting and weight loss.

The skills that you will learn during the following 20 days will enable you to set goals that are not only attainable, but bigger than you’ve ever dared to dream.

Everything you learn in these next few weeks will help you lose that first and last pound, and these skills can be taken into others areas of life to make you more successful overall.

Get ready, get set…GOAL!!!!

 

Fun Friday! Healthy Holidays Weight Loss Q&A 2

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 Travel Treadmill Shredder

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The Holidays are upon us and for many that means travel. Don’t let your workouts fall by the wayside! This is the treadmill program I did while in New Orleans this past weekend :) BONUS! Healthy recovery shake below. I do my workout track by track on the Ipod, instead of having to time things.

Treadmill Shredder

Warm up at 0 incline, 3.0 speed  for 3-5 minutes

Track one: 5.0 speed light jog at 0 incline

Track two: 20 deep squats off the rails (feet wide, belt between). Speed 3.5, incline 15. Every chorus, 20 deep squats, verses are climbs.

Track three: easy run at incline 3.0, speed 5.3

Track four: super slow speed, 0.8 walking lunges at 6.5 incline

Track five: quick run, 2.0 incline, 6.0 speed

Track six: recover and 3.0 pace for 2 minutes. Light jog, 0 incline, 3.8 speed for remaining track

Track seven: 20 deep squats off rails. Side shuffles at 1.5 speed, 0 incline. Repeat squats every chorus and alternate shuffles during verses.

Track eight: hill run/climb. Set incline at 15, speed at 3.5 during chorus. Verses, incline down to 7.5, speed to 5.0

Track nine: incline between 5-10, speed alternates between jog (5.0) and sprints (7.0-8.0) between chorus and verses.

Track ten: 15 incline, 3.0 speed, slow climb entire song.

Cool down with flat walk and make sure to stretch!

Post workout Recovery Smoothie

In blender:

4 oz water

4-6 oz skim milk

1 whole banana

1/2 tablespoon natural peanut butter

1 scoop whey (I use BSN Syntha 6 chocolate peanut butter)

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

ice to taste

Blend well and drink within 30 minutes of your workout :)

Easy 2 minute smoothie

Seriously, not having time for breakfast is so beneath you as an excuse right?

Busy people simply need the right tools for the job :)

I like the mini blenders with the cups you can just take, but if you don’t happen to have that just run water into your blender and wash it when you get home. I won’t judge ;)

Ingredients:

1/2 banana

1 bunch spinach (a little larger than a handful)

6 oz almond milk (just eyeball it, there is no perfection here!)

6 oz coconut water OR electrolyte infused water such as Smart water

1 chopped peach

Throw, blend, go.

The bananas and peaches can be cut up the night before and either refrigerated or frozen for your consistency liking.

You get protein from the milk, you’ll get loads of energy from the fruit and coconut/Smart water, the spinach will give you the vitamin A needed and I PROMISE you won’t taste it!

Give it a whirl (LOL) and let me know what you think.

Need it sweeter? Drizzle a little agave nectar in :)

Michelle

The BEST Medicine

There is a growing trend in the United States that many have gotten on board with far too quickly. It’s skirting. Yes, I said skirting. What is that? That’s where there is a predominant issue that people skirt around instead of attacking it head on. There are far too many people who don’t want conflict and FAR too many parents and guardians who just don’t want to put up a fight. Now, before I dive in to what could possibly be the most informative blog I’ve written thus far (wow, strong promise) I need to tell you that these truths are not limited to those struggling with obesity. When I speak of nutrition, I am talking about the health and wellness of every age, size, shape, and sex. OK, ready for some serious eye-opening? Let’s jump in….

1. Did you know that food is medicine? This is not some new age drama ok, that is real. I have come to the realization that on the day we go over how the digestive system works, we skip all the important stuff and most people were seemingly sleeping. You see, in grade school (and all the way up really) we are taught about the body “systems” right? All separate, all functioning independently. So, when we end up disease ridden, it gets confusing! What, when, how, how much and how well you eat effects your entire body. I had NO idea until I became a nutritionist. I thought of food the same way most of you do: it’s just food. What does it matter? Oh, it matters all right. Scientists are studying the affects of certain foods EVERYDAY and have made some amazing discoveries. Shall we

* Of course, most of us know that good old-fashioned oatmeal (not instant) was the first food to receive a superfood status due to its ability to lower cholesterol. This is due to the fact that oatmeal has large amounts of fiber (both soluble and insoluble) that help grab on to the “leftovers” that tend to pile up in the internal organs, specifically the small and large intestine. Did you learn that in school? Didn’t think so. We’re taught that food goes in one end and out the other. PLEASE! We are far more complex creations and it’s time we learn that! Oatmeal has also been praised for its prevention (note that prevention is based on studies denoting the diet and lifestyle of individuals who avoid disease) of certain cancers, namely colon, rectal, colorectal, and stomach. Gives oatmeal a more favorable lighting right? I enjoy mine every morning.

* Cabbage is the most recent food to join in the fight against cancer. Although scientists are still uncovering the reasons (high vitamin content being one, probiotic probabilities being another) cabbage has been proven to prevent certain cancers including colon, colorectal, rectal, breast, thyroid and even skin cancer. Cabbage has also shown signs of aiding in cancer treatment for those with cancer of the intestines, colon, etc. especially when the cabbage is fermented (sounds gross, but it’s just like pickled cabbage). So, cancer prevention and treatment makes that cole slaw a little more appealing right?

* Yogurt. I’m talking plain, Greek yogurt here people. You start adding problems with the flavors. The probiotic in yogurt helps aid in digestion and eases many of the symptoms of digestive system discomforts such as bloating, sensitivity to foods, and even water retention. Though the scientists are still out on the effects yogurt has on certain diseases, it is a great food to add to a healthy diet.

2. If food can be medicine, it can also be poison. Since we are taught that food simply goes in and out (you couldn’t be farther from the truth!) we tend to just eat whatever is handy. And thanks to generations before us making life “easier” we have eased our way into a diseased culture wondering what went wrong. Diets high in processed foods and low in healthy, natural foods rule in our nation and have caused outbreaks of type 2 diabetes, cancers, and intestinal disease. Why? Because we just want to shovel food in and get on with life. We are busy people! And when we go see a trainer to combat that extra fat in our midsection, they tell us it’s a simple equation of calories in = calories out. WRONG! They must have attended the same grade school we did….

* Scientists have found a direct link between SUGAR and CANCER. Read that again please. Now, let’s break that down. Scientists have PROVEN that CANCER cells FEED off of SUGAR. The scary thing is that this is not new news. This was proven over a decade ago yet we all still march around eating our candy and drinking our cokes. By the way, those who turn your nose up and say, “Well, I’m more of a salty person” check your treats. Processed foods, especially the salty ones, are packed and packaged with man-made sugars. What’s worse is we give this loaded gun to our kids almost DAILY. It’s like playing russian roulette with their health and it’s sickening.

The important thing to note here is that we all HAVE cancerous cells floating around in our bodies. Yep, totally true. The issue with prevention is that we’re trying to prevent them from mutating (and not the cool way like Spiderman). So, if cancer feeds off of sugar and we already have cancer cells in the body…..STOP GIVING THEM FOOD! Sheesh. By the way, I’m talking about man-made SUGAR. That’s table sugar and anything ending in OSE on the label that you should certainly be reading. Fruit has natural sugars and is a different post entirely. Oh, and those with your nose turned up because you are far better than others since you drink Diet Coke are headed down a one way path to metabolism and hormone failure so think twice. Fake sugars go in and DON’T come out, which is even worse…

* The fats to look out for are trans fats and saturated fats. PLEASE do not go fat-free, it’s bad for both your brain and your mood. Trans fats are man-made fats that came into existence in the 60′s. Hey, what else was popular then? ;) Maybe that’s where they thought them up… Anyways, they are put into food to make it, once again, easier. Ditch them to prevent cancer and other obesity related diseases.

WOW! So much info, such a long post. Why? Because I am watching people die from the fact that they were never fully told about these things and it makes me sick! We are beautifully created human beings that must take care of this creation. And if you have kids, you are responsible for setting them up with a lifetime of health. Does that mean you can never have a candy bar? Of course not! We are human after all. it means that you must start thinking about what you ingest. You don’t drink gasoline do you? But you might chug a soda…there’s no difference once it hits the internal organs. Think!

By the way, did you know that nutrition is an elective for doctors? Oncologists are not required to have it. Neither are cardiologists or even endocrinologist. Interesting…..

Food for thought: make 1 dietary change per week. Just one. Don’t be in a rush since every change you make will help you live a healthier life. Get the kids involved! Let them pick out some items for the grocery list. Allow them to pick new things to try to clean up favorite dishes. Children are sponges with this stuff and it is better to teach them young than for them to have to fight a battle with a disease they never should have had! Take responsibility and move forward!

Michelle

Nutrition Survival:Your Go To Lunch Kit

The one thing YOU have control over throughout your day is your food. Don’t even try to give me excuses! I hear it ALL the time.

  • “I don’t have a microwave”. You also don’t need a 5 star hot meal.
  • “I’m in my car a lot.” Good news! Some of the healthiest food is portable.
  • “My job requires me to eat out.” Really? Everyday? Or do you CHOOSE to because that’s what the rest of the herd is doing? Prioritize. And, if you MUST eat out, make healthier choices.
  • “I just don’t have time to pack a lunch.” You can’t spare 3 minutes? Maybe you should look at those priorities again. You can pack up your food while watching that TV program you’re glued to.
  • “I don’t know what to pack.” Keep reading. Knowledge is power.

OK, so I’ve heard a lot more excuses than these, but these sum up the general ones. Since nutrition accounts for AT LEAST 80% of your results (90% if you’re talking about abs) then if I’m trying to get results, I tackle my nutrition. This is not rocket science! You can save valuable time and money just by putting forth a little effort. Today, I’m going to give you a list of things I keep on hand to throw and go anytime I need them, plus some simple tricks to make it work.

Your kit: First and foremost, get yourself a good lunch kit. It doesn’t have to be super expensive and it can even be Hello Kitty or Superman if that floats your boat. Just make sure that it’s insulated so you can pack a variety of foods and not have to depend on a refrigerator. Also, small, portable containers are key to packing up all kinds of pre-portioned goodies. I don’t pay a lot for these containers, mostly due to the fact that I tend to lose them when my schedule is really packed. Re-usable containers and water bottles will save you money in the end, so pick them up.

The Basics: This is a list of very basic food items I keep with me so I can throw and go. Really and truly, most of these are already in an insulated kit in my pantry. I sometimes get called to do appearances and talks on short notice, so I try to stay prepared. Me being hungry is not good for anybody. I’ll give you plenty of options here, but I keep mine really simple since consistency breeds results. Don’t like the foods? Think about the last AB compliment you got…..ouch. Yeah, suck it up and move on. You want results? It takes some sacrifices, beginning with the inaugural sacrificing of excuses.

  • Tuna packets. Make sure they are in water, not oil. The flavored ones are OK, but watch the sodium. Chances are you’re sitting a lot and you don’t want to end up all bloated! Try taking a lemon or lime slice to squeeze over for added flavor.
  • Multi grain, gluten-free crackers. No real reason for the gluten-free, that’s just what I have. Multi grain, including flax, and the sugars are really low.
  • Portioned protein powder. I put a scoop in a snack baggies BUT in the past I have actually used baby formula containers. :)
  • Protein bars. I use the P90X protein bars you can find here. The most important thing about protein bars is that when it comes to using them in your diet they are either a pre/post workout snack OR “in case of emergency only”. I have witnessed far too many physiques crushed by the love of protein bars. If you have a serious candy addiction, forego these until you get that under control (and you CAN).

That’s just a few things that can hang out in your kit in your pantry for a while. The more perishable fridge items are as follows:

  • Pre-portioned snack veggies. I cut all of mine on the weekend and put them into containers or bags. You can even find them already pre-washed and cut in the produce section. Experiment a bit with what you like. I keep celery, peppers, cucumber, squash, carrots, jicama (my new fave!), snap beans, string beans, I pretty much play with all of it!
  • Pre-portioned (3 slices) low sodium lunch meat. Nothing “honey” that just means sugar.
  • Pre-portioned hummus to dip said veggies :)
  • Individual greek yogurt, plain
  • Boiled eggs

I also keep plenty of fruits, washed if needed, right by my sink where I can grab them quickly. PLus, I keep plenty of spoons, forks and napkins in my kit. there is nothing more heartbreaking then spending the time and effort on building your kit and then realizing you have no way to eat it!

Should you find yourself completely stuck with no kit, there are a few places that I support for a quick meal time nosh. I always tell my clients that if they are near home, just grab a quick snack.

  • Subway. DUH. OK, go for the grilled chicken as opposed to meatballs (SERIOUSLY?) or the cold cuts if possible. If the grill isn’t your thing, opt for chicken or turkey, not pastrami and salami. Load the sandwich with veg on a whole wheat (NOT HONEY WHEAT) and skip the cheese if you can. If not, get shredded and ask for just a little. Oil, no. Vinegar, yes. It’s all in the tiny details
  • McDonald’s. Did you really just read that? Yep. they do have an expansive healthy alternatives menu IF you can control yourself. Apple dippers, don’t even let them give you the sauce. Salads with light dressing or dressing on the side. By the way, just because you get a salad does NOT mean you can indulge in fries.
  • Chik fila. The chicken soup, small, is only 290 cals though the sodium can be a bit high so just be careful and say no to the crackers. The grilled chicken salad is awesome with loads of veg. Skip the croutons, get the vinegarrette and only use half. The grilled chicken sandwich is OK, skip the meal. A fruit cup is always a good snack option as well.

So, this gives you a LARGE advantage if you just APPLY! Take what you learn and actually do something with it and you will see and feel results.

Keep living the FIT life one day at a time,

Michelle