Should-ing Accountability

What I SHOULD have done is gotten up super early today and published this post by this afternoon. I want Monday’s to be my accountability post from here on out. Especially as I  lift and bake my way through the Jessie’s Girls 3k challenge. However, I wanted to sleep. So now I’m up late doing it.

My decisions as of late seem to be at odds with one another. Where (I think) I should be and where I could be. Like this post for example. I thought I should’ve had it done by today. I was a little hard on myself for not getting that done. This was not from any external pressure. No one told me I had to have it done today. No one gave me a deadline. It was my own self dialogue. My own internal battle.

In todays world there *seems to be a lot of external pressures to be/act/live a certain way. However, I’ve yet to have person hold a gun to my head saying, “Victoria, you must build those biceps or we’re not going to love you.” Right? How we process all those external pressures, is how we arrive at our “should.”  Everyone I surround myself with is supportive of me (and the size of my biceps). When it comes to big life choices, no one was there telling me I “should” do any thing. It was me who was “should-ing” myself to death.

So, are we Should-ing our accountability?

I should’ve done better. I should’ve lost more weight. I should’ve met ALL my macros. I should’ve made that weight heavier. I should’ve not eaten that extra brownie. Well, you know what? Should-ing isn’t going to change any of that.  Instead own it.  It’s ok that all those things didn’t happen. No one really cares!! We care because you care about it. We care because of your health perhaps. But beyond that, it literally does not matter!! Own it and move forward.  It’s our own internal dialogue that gets us into this spiral. We can get stuck there for a time. Even when everyone is telling you, “you don’t HAVE to do this!” you do, because you think you “should”……….. and there you stay. Stuck.

And lets not get need confused with should. You’re probably saying, “That’s all well and good Victoria, but there are some people who SHOULD lose weight.” No, it’s not should, they NEED to. For their health. For their life. It’s like saying someone with cancer “should” get treatment. No, they NEED treatment. So the fact that you should’ve lost weight is a cop out. Did you need it or was it just a “should” statement?

I don’t exercise and count (almost) every morsel of food because I think I should be doing this. I definitely don’t do this because I think this is what I should look like. I’m doing it because I WANT to do this. I like doing it. I find it interesting and challenging. It’s really hard to be in any position when you think you “should” be there. Its miserable. So if you don’t want it, maybe you need it. Change that thought from “I should” to “I need” until you can get to a place of acceptance. Tough. Trust me, I know. But it’ll come round. Even if its “I need to do this for my kids.” or  “I need to do this for my health.”  Anything to get that “should” from stealing another moment.

Ok….On that lovely note…..Let’s have some fun at my expense, shall we??

So when I started my fitness journey WAY back in the day, circa 1995, I believe the heaviest I ever weighed was 155lbs. Now, on a 5’5″ small frame female that’s heavy. Plus it was NOT muscle. By 2002 I was down in the 125-130 range. That was my “I just want to be skinny” stage of life.

Then after having my first baby I was able to get down to 135 and maintained that for a very long time. But after my third baby, I was back up to 156 and wanted to get back to my normal self again. (read  the post “My Fitness Journey” for a more detailed explanation)

Last year when I started the Jessie’s Girls program, I was at 126 and I maintained that weight all the way through. My current weight is 131….meh…you know, a little fluff, some added (intentional) weight, PLUS muscle….that all adds up to about about 5lbs! I rarely weigh myself anymore. I’ve come to learn that the number on the scale is merely an exercise of learning what my gravitational pull on the earth is. I look at myself. I asses how my cloths fit. I assess before and after pictures. Progress pictures all the time.

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Far left hand was from February 2015 I weighed 126lbs, the last picture was June 2015 I weighed 126lbs.

So here I am today. Like literally only moments ago at 12am in the morning. After a long day and night of food and water……you can see why I chopped my head off of this picture. No need to frighten people away from my blog. I believe my current weight is 131lbs. A little extra fluff around the mid section as I take on eating a higher amount of carbs in this beginning phase of the Muscle Building 2 program.

 

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I’m currently in week 3 of the Muscles Building 2 program. I lift 5 days a week with steady state cardio 3 days a week and 2 days of HIIT (high intensity interval training). Each week I have increased my weights. At week 5 I will reduce my carb intake and continue lifting just as frequently. So that’s where the leaning out process will start to happen for me. I will start to really see all the muscle I put on during this first phase of work. Consistency and dedication is all it takes!

So as the weeks and months press on, you’ll get to follow me along this journey. Follow my progress and set backs when they happen. I will not work on what I should be doing, but rather what I need or want to be doing. What I need is all around me!

V~

For the Macro Counters

Ok. I’m the first to admit, not much on here has been “macro friendly.” But what makes something “macro friendly?” In reality if you really, really want something you can make that shit fit. End of story.

I was talking with a friend about this whole notion of macros, sugars, negative calorie foods etc. We both came to the solid conclusion that food is all about balance. You must find the right balance for you. In fact, I remember having a conversation with my mother about this very thing. If you eat too much of any one thing, no matter how “good” for you it is, it will eventually throw you out of balance. Kale is an example of this. Cruciferous vegetables are an example of this. When eaten in high amounts, it may affect your thyroid. Oh, you’re eating Kale at the rate of 100g a day cause you thought it was good for you? Let me offer you a brownie instead.

Put. The. Kale. Down.

So in comes the Macro crowd (yep, me included). A macronutrient based diet consists of calculating the correct amount of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs) to fit your body’s needs. So for example, my goal is to build muscle. Currently it’s to pack it on!! So, that not only requires protein, but larger amounts of carbohydrates. You can look up how to calculate your macros very easily on the web. It’s not magic. It’s science. You can calculate your nutritional needs based on what you want to do; build muscle, lean out while building muscle, maintain, loose weight, gain weight. It’s all about what you eat and the balance of it. What’s really great is you can adjust it as time goes on. If you feel you’re not seeing results, adjust the balance. If your body is having a hard time with the amount of protein, change it. Nothing is set in stone and every body is different, so it’s always important to listen to your body.

All foods have macronutrients and micronutrients (sugars, sodium). ALL FOODS.  So although a food may metabolize in your body in such a way that it burns more calories than what’s in the food, it still has macronutrients in it! There’s still fats, proteins, carbs, sugars and sodium. So in some way that food will affect how your body functions. Where are you getting energy from if it takes more effort to digest the food then the food has??!! The MACROS!!! All food has energy to provide. If all you did was eat food all day every day that required more energy to digest it than the food actually offered, well you’d quickly waste away. So clearly you can’t do that. You have to balance your diet to offer your body actual fuel for living. Again, science people.

We are all searching for that easy way out. That magic diet where miracles happen.  The other thing my friend said to me (in another conversation about another subject, yet it still applies) “it’s never gonna happen. Ever. So just move forward” She was right, unfortunately.

So forget the notion that there’s some super spectacular diet that’s going to change your life. Nope, YOU will change your life by eating only one brownie and not the entire pan. So there’s that.

Today, I’m going to talk about some healthy snacks!! I know. Crazy. But don’t fear, I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled baking soon. As in this weekend soon. So be ready.

I don’t often bake savory type snacks. It just doesn’t occur to me. However, the same friend had recommended I make Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Potato Muffins.  So happy she did! These were really good. Very dense. Very filling and really good for you! IMG_4578

One glance at these ingredients and you know they will be really satisfying and healthy. The sweet potato’s are the star of the muffin providing much of the bulk. Which then helps reduce the amount of flour you need in the muffin. The eggs provide the protein and fats. There aren’t any added oils or butters, making this heart healthy. The cheeses provide some added protein and flavor.

The process of making this muffin requires grating 600g of sweet potato. Say What?? That’s not going to work after arm day. Oh no! You’re going to break out the food processor with the grater attachment.  Other than that bit of work, the rest is really simple.

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I whisked the eggs a bit in a separate bowl, then added that to the sweet potato mixture. Added in the cheeses and flour and mixed all together. The original recipe calls for self rising whole grain flour. *If you can’t find the self rising flour, just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder per 1 cup of whole wheat flour and sift well.

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These little muffin tins were packed full!! Also, another little helpful hint is to use regular baking cups, but spray them with a nonstick spray. I used my coconut oil spray. He calls for parchment paper cut into squares and put into the muffin tin. No. No one has time for that. Especially after shoulder day. Just use the baking cups, you’ll never get that time back cutting all those little squares out!

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On top is a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and poppy seeds. Adds some crunch which is nice. Overall they are a really great little snack. Or if you’re like me and have to eat all day everyday, these are part of a larger meal, not just a snack.

I’ve also found some great buys at the store recently that are super macro friendly and are very tasty. First is a wheat berry, quinoa, Farro and Barley dish. Really hearty, low in sugars and high in carbs, with a good balance of protein and fats.

I like to add a little shredded chicken to this or as a side dish to salmon. I found this at my local Costco the other day. So far this is a keeper! The other find is a granola from Kind. It is also low in fats and sugars, yet has a decent amount of carbs, great for a pre or post workout meal. I’ve been adding it to my Greek yogurt for a mid afternoon snack.

It’s really crunchy with bits of raspberries. I found it at my local grocery story in the cereal isle with the rest of the granolas. Granolas are usually really high in sugars and fats (super tasty, but don’t necessarily fit my daily plan), so when I came upon this I was excite to give it a try. It was really good. Satisfying that granola craving without all the sugars!

Sweet Potato Muffins

  • Non stick spray
  • 600g sweet potatoes
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1-2 fresh red chilies
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons cottage cheese
  • 250g whole wheat self-raising flour (*see note above)
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350º

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with baking cups. Spray each baking cup with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Peel sweet potatoes and coarsely grate by hand or with a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl. Trim and thinly slice the spring onions and add to the sweet potatoes. Finely slice the chilies add half to the bowl and reserve the other half and set aside.

Whisk eggs in separate bowl, then add parmesan and cottage cheese. Add egg mixture to sweet potato mixture then add flour, stir until combined. Divide the mixture evenly in the muffin tin then sprinkle with sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and dot with the chilies.

Bake in the middle rack for 35 minutes or until golden and set. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

Macros for One Muffin:

169 Calories ·23g carbs· 5g fat ·8g protein· 3g sugar· 150mg sodium

Enjoy the food you eat! Make healthy balanced choices and you will always come out ahead. It’s not magic…..its science. 🙂

V~

What’s Your Why? Mine is Brownies :-)

I get asked all the time why I work out. What am I training for? Why do I eat like this? How can I bake and stay fit? How the hell can you have brownies in the house?!?

Well, the brownies we’ll get to in a moment. My Why? Well, my why has changed a lot over the years. At first my why was because I got fat. Pretty simple. I didn’t like what I looked like. I didn’t like how I felt about myself so I made a change. Then my Why changed to be because I needed to maintain. For quite a while it stayed this way, fluctuating between needing to lose weight and needing to maintain. That was mostly due to babies. Legit reasons (kinda….I did take those lovely 9 month vacations…..three times).

Then my Why became about wanting to be in shape. Not just be skinny. I wanted to be really fit. Healthy. Heart healthy. To actually do something with my body. Make it work hard. Run. Run fast. My Why became about being mentally fit. It all ties together. My Why currently is about building muscle. Not to compete. Not for show. Not for anyone or anything other than the fact it just makes me happy. I happen to love the way muscle looks on a person. The shape it gives. It *may be because I *may want a nice booty for summer (or year round, that works for me as well). Its a beautiful thing, our bodies. Its an exciting and interesting process to me. My body is my canvas and I get to decide how to shape it. So it’s pretty simple. My Why? It makes me fucking happy. That’s it. I’m training for me. For life. For my kids. For my health. And yes, because I like to eat brownies.

So my Why gives me a purpose to make it easier to have those brownies in the kitchen. My Why is always in my head. My vision. I know that I can’t  eat ALL the brownies. So I don’t. Is it hard? Yes. Yes I would love to sit on the couch with my favorite TV show on, with a gigantic bowl of warm brownies with ice cream smothered by caramel sauce. Sounds amazing. I’m just not going do it. Nope.  Instead I’m sitting here blogging away, while brownies chill in the freezer with my 5am wake up call looming so I can drag my ass to the gym. That’s how I do it. I just fucking do it. No excuses.

“But Victoria!,” you cry, “It’s so hard! How do you find the motivation?”  I want it. It’s literally that simple. Either you want it or you don’t. There is no in between.

Yes I love to sleep in. Yes I have really bad days. Yes I get sore. Yes I have moments with body image issues. Yes I deal with injury. Yes I hate meal prepping. Yes I have days where I don’t eat spot on and have guilt associated with it. Yes I wish I could look like Jessie Hilgenberg or Paige Hathaway when I walk out of the gym. Yes I want ALL the wine. And lets not start about all the Lululemon I’d love to have. And YES, every damn day I plow through all those thoughts of doubt, hurt, pain, fear, guilt, exhaustion, envy and gluttony over Lulu. The struggles are real. Yes, I am human. Bottom line is I’m willing to work through the struggles. All those things aren’t going to get me to my Why. To my vision. They’re road blocks, but I choose to not let them stop me in my journey. You can choose to let them consume you or you can choose to take them to the gym and leave that shit there.  Then on those really great days, I make a plan for brownies and wine.

That’s exactly what I did this weekend! It’s  been a while since I’ve made brownies. They are one of my favorites, but they kinda got shuffled to the side in the interest of making new things. However, it made them all that more delicious. I love the process of making brownies! Melting a pound of butter with a pound of chocolate. There is nothing better. It’s beautiful. Magical. Hypnotic even. Smells like heaven.

And they are really simple too. A few bowls involved, but no mixer and it all gets mixed together into one big bowl. Pretty easy. Baking time is reasonable as well. You can add caramel. Add peanut butter. Add walnuts, almonds, or chocolate chips. Or keep them simple. Its up to you! I use Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies with a few little tweaks.

Outrageous Brownies

  • 1 pound unsalted Butter
  • 1 pound semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter and flour a 12x18x1 inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of semi sweet chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, instant coffee granules, and vanilla. Stir together but do not beat. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Toss the pecans and the remaining 12 ounces of dark chocolate chips in a small bowl with the remaing 1/4 cup of flour. Add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, them rap pan on oven rack to force the air out of the batter. Bake for another 15 minutes until just done. Do not over bake! Allow to cool thoroughly. Refrigerate then cut into squares. Enjoy!

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They are so rich and dense. These brownies definitely lean more toward the fudgy side than the cake like texture type of brownie. So if that’s your thing, then give them a try!

Remember to reflect on your WHY. What is driving you? When someone asks you Why, have an answer. Not for them, but for you. Also, re-evaluate your why. It may need to change from time to time to keep your journey going. Is it to get past an injury. Is it to get over a hurdle or obstacle to get to a certain goal. It’s ok to change why we do what we do, so long as it keeps us in the direction we want to go. Even if your why is because you want to eat brownies!!

V~

It Starts With One Step

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I had the pleasure to hang out with a dear friend of mine over the holidays. We drank, we talked, we laughed and inevitably we talked about exercise. But it wasn’t what you may think. It wasn’t the typical treadmill, stairclimber, deadlift conversation. She only told me a simple story of how she had to walk to her car, up a hill in the cold, for quite a distance. She was surprised at how well she did! I said “Heck ya!!! Now do that every day and when that gets easy make it more challenging!”

It got me thinking…..does starting an exercise routine really need to be that complicated? I believe it does not!

So let me ask you?

Have you walked today? Walked up stairs? Up a hill recently? Lifted a milk jug? Picked up your child perhaps. All of these things are forms of movement. There’s really no need to complicate it. The ONLY thing that needs to happen is you actually doing it! Everyday. Anything. Something. Move. Bend. Shape. It’s what your body was designed to do!!

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When I was in my early 20’s the only thing I knew to do for exercise was to walk. So I walked! When I wanted to start running, I just ran. Wait……that sounds really Forrest Gumpish. Anyway, I went slow, I mean really slow, but I ran. I did it until it was easy. I did it until I could run up, down and all around anywhere I wanted. It wasn’t complicated. I didn’t need a gym. I needed shoes, weather appropriate gear, and my own determination. Easy. Right?

Yes. And no.

Yes because it’s not complicated. Like at all. No, because at first it’s hard. Really hard. For some of us, the fact that it’s hard and uncomfortable is hard and uncomfortable to get past. It hurts. It feels like you’re gonna die sometimes. You’re not sure if you’re doing it right. It’s exhausting. Blah, blah,blah. Having kids has the same affect come to think of it.  But they’re SO worth it, right? Well, so is exercise.

Anytime we learn something new,  it’s hard. It’s painful, like algebra for example. I SUCK at math. It was painful, but necessary, so I learned how to do it. Same thing with working out. It’s a learned skill that then becomes habit. Once learned and used everyday, it becomes something you don’t have to even think about, you just get up and do it.

Let’s talk about the basic skill of walking, which clearly we are built to do. How far can you walk? How fast can you walk? Get that heart rate up and steady for a good 30 minutes and you’re making a change. Do that until it’s easy. Then add in a hill climb. Or walking lunges. Or a small jog for one minute. You just build on it. Keep adding to it as it gets easier. One day, what was once your workout, will be your warm up. Don’t over think it. Keep it simple and just add on to what you’re doing.

Take my friend for example. She walked that distance up a hill to her car, right? Now,  she can take that same walk, (in her neighborhood or recreate it on a treadmill) and keep doing that exact thing for a week. Then add in another hill climb (or up and down the same hill twice). Increase her speed perhaps.  Just think,  if you kept building on that, how quickly you would build up your endurance!

Start finding new ways to get your body moving. Maybe a yoga class. Pilates is an awesome way to get started strengthening your muscles. Especially those with injury.  So good for the body! Get online and research ways to build muscle. That’s all I did. I was a total Pinterest stalker. I found all kinds of info there. Go to Bodybuilding.com…..great amount of info. Next thing you know you’re deadlifting 250lbs! (hey, don’t knock it till you try it).

You just have to do it. That’s all it takes. That is truly THE only difference between those that succeed at reaching their fitness goals and those who don’t. There is no in between.  Nike didn’t come up with the multimillion dollar “Just Do It” campaign for nothing. Simple and affective. Just Do It. So there’s that.

The other thing that I’ve found (especially over this last year) is to surround yourself with like minded people. If not to work out with, just for support. A little camaraderie. Those “atta girl’s” and “atta boy’s” go a long way. Someone to vent, voice, and brag about your success to is so helpful. It can really aid in your success. It’s amazing when you can talk to someone about that awesome sholder pump or that you hit your macros spot on all week. They not only understand exactly what you mean, but they know exactly how you feel because they’ve been there too!

Hearing an “Atta Girl!” is music to my ears!!

And let’s not forget about fear. It’s a huge stumbling block. Fear of failure. Fear of succes. Fear of what people think. Fear of pain. Fear of the alarm clock having to wake us at 4:30am. I’ve felt all those fears. Still feel all those on some level. Especially the 4:30am wake up call. What stops the fear is my desire. My desire to change regardless of any of those things. Failure is only in the eye of the beholder. So is success. Some may say, “but I didn’t finish the program all the way through. I was a failure.” Other’s may look at that and say “but you started. That’s half the battle” So make it about the journey. Make it about starting a new lifestyle, rather than a beginning that has an end. If you start and can’t finish a program, find something you can do. It’s not a failure, so much as it may not be a good fit for your life at the moment. If you make fitness a part of your life, there will always be a style of fitness that works for you.

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Also, self love. Speaking from a woman’s perspective, we have a really hard time with this. We find ourselves on a fitness journey because we are not happy with ourselves. We aren’t happy with the way we look, feel, move. We judge ourselves and others. Lets shift that way of thinking. Instead, start to make a change out of self acceptance. Do it because you care about your body. Do it because you love yourself, but know you can make a change. When you look at other women, don’t compare. All of our journeys are very unique. You may see the fittest, strongest woman out there, but until you know the struggles she’s been through to get there, don’t judge. Also don’t compare your beginning to someone’s years long journey. Often times the people we see on fitness magazines have been living this lifestyle for years. And it could take you years. I know its taken me a long time trying all kinds of things!!

So, I’m embarking on a new challenge myself! As some of you may know, I have followed Jessie Hilgenberg over the last year. I have followed both her Muscle Building 1 and Bikini Body programs. Loved them. They changed me both physically and mentally. It was a very empowering experience. She has started the Jessie’s Girls 3K challenge, which starts today! We had to pick a program (I’m doing her Muscle Building 2 program)  and do it all the way through it’s 12 week course.  The three winners get a visit from Jessie herself, $1000, Jessie’s Girl swag and have the opportunity to become an ambassador to all the Jessie’s Girls out there!

I had to think twice about that. Not about doing the program. Or even finishing the program. I know I can do that! What scares me is, what if I succeed? What then? Will I be good enough? What if I fail at it? All those silly little worries that creep into your head. Well at some point you gotta just kick that noise to the curb and follow your own advice! Take it a day at a time. One rep at a time. One step at a time. And just see where it takes you.

In the wise words of Dave Matthews (because I love the hell outta that man): “To change the world, start with one step. However small, the first step is hardest of all”.

And my friend? Well she’s taken that first step and still going!

Take your first step. You never know how it could change your world!

V~

 

 If you want to follow my progress through this 12 week program you can follow me on Instagram @fit_to_bake_    fair warning…..there’s a lot of pictures of cakes!!

Whats in your Kitchen?

 

The New Year is upon us. We all love the notion of a fresh start. A new beginning, new chances, new choices, new way of looking at things. I get it. It’s energizing and pulls us out of our holiday haze. I’m not huge on New Years Resolutions. Especially when it comes to fitness. I like to make changes when it feels right in my life rather than what a calendar tells me. Also, it’s helpful to look at change as a lifestyle change, rather than a resolution. However, if you feel like its a good time to jump into a new you, lets take a look at what might help you get there!

First off we all know (and I’ve said it before in my “the other 80%” post) that its all about what you eat. Let me show you what’s in my kitchen!

Aside from butter, flour, sugar and eggs…..I do have plenty of healthy eats in the house as well.

First off, all my major protein sources; ground turkey, turkey burgers, chicken breast and salmon are the mainstay of diet. Then some of my favorite veggies are asparagus, spinach, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

Most of these protein sources are really high in protein per ounce while being low in fat and sodium. These help make reaching my protein macro goals for the day really easy! They can also be used many ways. Chicken tacos, chicken salads, chicken sandwiches. Turkey meatballs, turkey for tacos, on salads, mixed in with veggies. It’s endless with all the varieties!! The frozen turkey burgers are must have staple. Any time you have your grill going, just grab a couple and put them on the grill ready to have for the next day! Meal prep done!

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Vans waffles are a great grab and go breakfast item (or snack, or meal, or late night snack for that matter. I’ve been known to eat chicken and waffles at 10pm to meet my macros for the day) with plenty of carbs and protein to keep you satisfied. Top them with almond butter and some banana….SO GOOD!

Some other great protein sources are Greek yogurts, almond milk, almond butter, peanut butter, eggs and egg whites. Egg whites and Greek yogurt are probably some of the most versatile protein sources because you can mix them into anything. You can add egg whites into your oats for added protein. Add egg whites to scrambled eggs for added protein that doesn’t add fat. They’re virtually tasteless, so they take on whatever flavor you add to them.

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Greek yogurt is amazing!!  Again, you can take this and make it into so many different meals. You can add it plain on your tacos as a sour cream.  You can mix in avocado with it to make it like a mayonnaise spread on sandwiches. My favorite late night snack is Greek yogurt mixed with chocolate protein powder, almond milk and peanut butter topped with Lilly’s chocolate chips. If you haven’t ever tried Lilly’s chocolate chips I highly recommend them. They have no added sugar to them and they are the perfect little topping to special treats. Another staple item!

The only tricky thing about Greek Yogurt is you have to be careful of the sugar content. It can get high. Every brand seems to vary, so look carefully at labels and find the one that works for your needs. You can find Greek yogurts in varying percentages of fat as well. I like to keep both in the fridge. It helps to give yourself options. If I feel like I want something creamier, I’ll pick the Greek yogurt higher in fat. If at the end of my day I’ve consumed all my fat macros, but I still need carbs and protein, I’ll pick the fat free Greek yogurt. The more options you can give yourself, the more likely you are to succeed!

Next up are some pantry items. Most of your bulk carbs will come from breads, grains, rice, and cereals. Veggies provide carbs as well, and given a choice, veggie are always a great option. However, when you’re trying to reach well over 200g of carbs a day (yes I eat that many carbs) and stay within a certain sugar limit, you’ll need to eat rice, (some) bread, and cereals. Some vegetables and fruits that are high in carbs are also high in sugars. Sure they’re “natural” sugars, but its sugar just the same. So if you’re watching your sugar intake, you’ll need to be aware of the sugars in veggies and especially fruits.

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All rice products are just straight up pure carbs!! They can go with anything. You can cook rice in bulk to have on the ready in the fridge. Portion it out and you are good to go!! Rice cakes are perfect on the go snack. My favorite afternoon pick me up is a rice cake (or two) topped with creamy almond butter and Lilly’s Chocolate Chips with an iced coffee with almond milk. OMG…..the best.

Don’t forget to season your food! Mrs. Dash makes great seasonings that are all salt free. I know that there are a lot of other salt free products out on the market that are really awesome. Healthy food does not have to equal bland. If I do add salt, I will use sea salt, has more flavor and you don’t need to add as much to your foods. A little goes a long way! I also add cinnamon to nearly everything. Cereals, yogurt, egg whites, pancakes. I’ll sprinkle it on my almond butter slathered rice cakes. I love it. And its good for you. So there’s that.

Coconut oil cooking spray helps me to cook without added fats. However, if I want the added fat or need the added fat I’ll use coconut oil or olive oil.  Also good for you. Lots of healthy fats here! I may go through 4lbs of butter in a month for baking, but that certainly isn’t consumed by me!

The brown rice farina cereal is like a cream of rice cereal. Super high in carbs, gluten free (if you’re sensitive to gluten), no sugars and low in fiber. I use this as part of my pre-workout meal. Low in fats, low in sugars, low in fiber, high in carbs and high in protein. Why? It’s immediate fuel to my body. All those carbs are delivered straight to my system for energy to have a strong efficient workout. The protein is there to help protect and build my muscles. Its science.  Your body must have the proper fuel to build proper muscle mass.

Which leads me to supplements. There are a million different kinds of supplements out there. Are they a requirement to becoming fit and strong? Absolutely not!! That’s why they’re called supplements. They can help supplement your fitness goals, but they definitely don’t make or break it. Protein powders are the most helpful in that they can help you reach your daily protein macros. It can get tiresome to eat chicken, turkey, fish, beef, bison, eggs, yogurt all day every day. Protein powders can help you reach your protein goals and they come in a variety of flavors. For all you out there with a sweet tooth, these will get you through those cravings!!

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The next most popular is a pre-workout energizer (or if you’re like me, drink it the entire workout). This gives you that added bit of energy to get you moving through your workout. I will say that this definitely helps in the gym. With three kids (and now a puppy) my nights can be less than restful, so on the days I’m dragging my butt to the gym, my pre-workout is there to save me. As for the fat burners, I can’t say if they help or not. I’m sure I drink enough caffeine in the day that far surpasses what any fat burner has in it. The protein bars are great as well with a good balance of carbs and protein. I always like to keep them on hand or have one in my bag in case I get stuck doing something and I need to eat. It happens. And the people around me probably don’t wanna see me overly hungry either.

My biggest piece of advice is this: keep a well stocked kitchen. The more options you can give yourself, the more likely you are to be successful.  The other biggest piece of advice is to track our food BEFORE you eat. Right?? You don’t want to be mindlessly eating. The next thing you know, while you’re cooking your healthy meal, you’ve had a few bites of the cake on the counter, a spoonful of peanut butter, couple of crackers, and a glass of wine. Now you know what else is in my kitchen.

Lastly is try not to catch yourself hungry with no food around. Or at Costco shopping. Or at an In-N-Out. Starbucks either. Trader Joes can be a tough call on that as well. I’d only recommend a Whole Foods when extremely hungry. You see the point, set yourself up for success, not failure.

The deal is, food is THE most important part of your health and fitness goals. You could bust your butt in the gym for hours, but it’ll never show if your nutrition isn’t on point the majority of the time. The saying, “abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym” is SO true! Speaking from personal experience!

Make this year the year you turn this into a lifestyle, not just another resolution!

V~

 

 

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