Pregnancy: Week 18 and Grabbing The Beans

So, yup.  We are having another little one!  Nearly 18 weeks here!  I’m excited for another kiddo, I’m NOT excited to be going through a pregnancy, as awful as that sounds.  More on that in a bit 🙂

I intended to write this blog like weeks ago, but……time gets away from me 🙂  And because, last time I was pregnant with no kids and could focus on being pregnant.  This time?  Have a kid, still have to mom it, and work my biz, and wife it.  So I’m pregnant, but it’s like sort of just there right now, a bit of an afterthought at times 🙂

What I thought I’d do is summarize workouts and stuff “now” as compared to pre-pregnancy, as a means to show what changes for me when pregnant.

First off, I feel MUCH more prepared this second time through.  Mostly because, well…we already have a kid, so there isn’t time to “focus on being pregnant.”  There’s only all day long where you are doing life and raising a kid, so there is NOT time to focus on allllll the details.  It’s basically, wake up, get through the day, and crash early.  Ha!  But let’s be honest, that’s not all that different from not-pregnant me.  Possibly the only difference is the fact that I go to bed 45 minutes earlier now (8:15PM) versus 8:45PM.  I’m still a 90-year-old at heart, and damn proud of that.

While I feel fortunate to be going through a healthy pregnancy for the second time, I also need to be honest.  I don’t enjoy being pregnant.  It’s not “magical” for me.  I feel awkward and very much out of touch with how I usually move, and pretty much lose steam after 3PM each day.  And I’m normally a person who loves to eat and cook….and those things don’t exactly give me jazz hands right now, they pretty much feel lackluster.  I feel like a jerk even saying I don’t enjoy pregnancy, but I’d also feel like a fraud if I was all “this is such a wonderful time!”  So there you have it :).  Is it week 40 yet?

I miss Oktoberfest beer selections.  Period.  Next fall, I’m taking myself on a fall brewery tour, and celebrating Oktoberfest RIGHT.

Food is sometimes cool, sometimes gross.  Mostly, it’s a pain in the ass to eat after 3PM because I feel bloated.  Everything except for most fruit and some hard cheese and crackers was gross through like week 12.  Veggies were poison for a long time.  The taste of food has come back, but eating a lot is NOT thrilling to me….and if I eat too much, there’s a good chance I’m gonna get the gags.  Right now, I’m kind of on a puke for a couple days streak, and then good for a couple days.  So…some days I eat two lunches or two breakfasts….depending on if I throw the first one up :).  So there’s that!  If this one is anything like being pregnant the first time, this will continue through like week 25-30.  I lost some weight in the first trimester, and it is coming back, but slowly.

Lifting has been consistent, to be honest, because even during the yucky early months, it was a nice distraction from feeling yucky.  Although those first few weeks, my workouts felt geriatric compared to my normal.  However, I’m settling in, the weights are getting heavier, but I’m finding out that my body really likes reps right now, in the 8-15 range.  So of course, the loads I’m lifting reflect that.  My brain does NOT enjoy this rep range, because it reminds me continuously of cardio.  I do not have energy for those fun heavy singles, triples, and sets of five.  Nope.  No way.  I’m really having fun learning my way through some seriously prenatal friendly core training.  I’m taking my core and pelvic floor SERIOUSLY.  I enrolled in a course with Jessie Mundell, GGS pelvic floor specialist, and am learning tons on how to safely train PLUS take care of core + floor.  Let me make this awkward for you….and give you the BEST deadlift cue of your life.  When you hinge back, and have your breath dialed in, before you pull…..”grab a bean” between your anus and vagina, THEN exhale and complete the lift.  This.Will.Change.Your.Life.  I am grabbing ALL the beans, and this shit works, yo.  I didn’t really focus on core and floor specifically last pregnancy, and I paid the price after delivery.  I’m focusing on it in a big way this time, and actually studying up on pre and post natal lifting for my clients.  This shiz is important, yo.  I’m happy to report that my vagina does NOT feel like it is going to fall out, I do NOT have the workout pees, I don’t have pain anywhere really, aside from the odd growing pains type stuff.  I AM giving my chiropractor a run for her money with my ever-changing pelvis, though :).  She needs to be challenged though, so this is good.

I’ve picked up a serious walking routine.  Last spring, I was ruck walking….or carrying a 30 pound backpack while walking.  It was super fun, and I took a break for the summer because it sorta sucked when it got hot.  I was looking forward to picking it up again this fall, but to be honest, adding 30 pounds on top of relaxed joints and stuff probably isn’t a good idea.  So, regular walking it is.  During early weeks, I was focusing on about four walks a week – 1-2x moderate pace, 1x interval walks, and then a long walk on the weekends.  Now, I’m pretty much keeping my walks to about 3-4 per week of 30 minute FAST or interval walks, depending on what I have energy for.  And, I’ve been out on the trails a few times for some long stuff, and that feels good too.

I’m pretty sure my husband is excited to have his wife back after pregnancy.  I’m pretty sure I’m a little crazy, and he is really kicking ass in the evening routine, and the early morning routine at our house.  Many nights, he and Emma tuck ME into bed for the night.  I need to give him more kudos, because this does NOT go unnoticed.

And, I feel like this is important to chat about, at least in MY pregnancy, so I’m writing it here.  I had FABULOUS prenatal care last pregnancy, but showing up to delivery was a complete shitshow.  Like, it was not a good situation, and I’ve been carrying it around with me for 3.5 years.  I had intended on writing my daughter’s birth story, and didn’t because it was a shitty experience.  I did go back to my six-week check-up, and I did not go back after, until finding out we were pregnant again.  To be honest, I was pissed, scared of doing it again, and frustrated by the whole thing.  And my husband knows it…he was in delivery and went through it too.  So of course, finding out we were pregnant, it was already that heavy weight in the back of my mind…, I’m not doing this shit again like last time.  I did book my first prenatal appointment, and in the meantime, we went to visit a local birth center, which ended up being friggin’ fabulous, but also friggin’ out of network, and possibly a little financially crazy for our family, although we are still talking about it.  At my first prenatal appointment with my normal midwife from last pregnancy, I pretty much showed up with sky-high blood pressure, and had a meltdown freakout session on her, about last time, and not putting myself through that again.  I was balling, SHE ended up balling, and we had a really freaking good conversation about it.  She basically backed me up and validated everything I was feeling and was basically like “You need to have a friggin’ rocking birth, none of this shitshow business.”  Ten minutes after the conversation, we re-checked my blood pressure, and it had dropped to almost normal.  This conversation needed to happen about 3.5 years ago, and I know that now, as hindsight is always 20/20.  Since this appointment, I’ve been back two more times, seen the other two midwives, had the same conversation, and we are all on the same page about birth.  No more shitshow.  My husband and I are in control, and will not be going into birth #2 blindsided or through the same experience as birth #1.  I’m happy to report, my blood pressure was a lovely 110-78 this last appointment, and I can tell I’m not having crazy anxiety about this all.  Bottom line, STICK UP FOR YOURSELF.  This is YOUR body, and YOUR pregnancy.  I will say, that if we deliver in the hospital, and everything goes well….I will be “that patient” pushing the envelope and getting out of the hospital in 24 hours or less :).

All in all, week 18 is here.  I’m happy that we are going to raise another little.  I’ll be happier when the little is on the OUTSIDE, though.  It is pretty cool to have Emma talk about her little baby brother or sister though.  And have her ask questions, and ask if the baby is kicking, and stop to give it a hug sometimes.

Bossing Up

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of social media, Big Diet and Big Fitness, and magazines telling me how I need to be about my body and my life and my health.

Please don’t tell me I need to tone up.

Please don’t tell me I need to shrink or lose a pants size by Christmas.

Please don’t tell me that eating *these* superfoods is gonna cure cancer or help me burn fat all day long.

Please don’t tell me what my unsightly trouble spots are.

Please don’t tell

There is SO MUCH mental and physical energy spent on this garbage.  And SO MUCH money.  Think about it – if this garbage actually WERE the truth….why the flip are we talking about obesity so much in this country all the time?  And why are so many people so flipping miserable and self-conscious in their own skin?  And why, why, why are so many people terrified to trust themselves?

I have an idea.  It’s my idea, it might not be right (lots of my ideas end up not being right).  And I write and talk and blog about it incessantly.

I feel like a BOSS in this picture!
I feel like a BOSS in this picture!

I think we are STILL talking about obesity, and low self-esteem, and zero self-trust, and STILL hearing garbage from Big Diet and Big Fitness……

…..because we STILL believe this is “a plan” that will magically get out of this problem.  We NEVER talk about behaviors and all “the stuff” we do, or COULD DO,  in our regular life that leads to sustainable change.  You guys, having healthy habits and behaviors trump a diet pill, a nasty #herbasuck shake, a diet plan, a 90 day workout program……PLUS, they empower you with choices that help YOU make the best YOU, and let YOU choose.  YOU are the driver.  YOU can be trusted with your choices.

And, while I love a good plan….planning, well, is pretty much crap.  Planning is all talk, and zero action.  I doubt there is any successful person that said “my plan was perfectly planned and everything went according to plan.”  Instead, I bet that successful person said something like “eff it, let’s try this, learn, and re-adjust as needed.”

Planning doesn’t do anything about helping us see WHERE EXACTLY we are.  It only shows us the map to somewhere we think we’d like to go.  Except, how the heck can we know where to go, and what place that is best to go…… if we don’t know where we are?

Here is my three point plan on Bossing The Heck Up, and vaccinating yourself against the garbage of Big Diet and Big Fitness, and diet mindset, and MLM yuck, and ALL THAT NOISE.

  1. Assess where you currently are at, and what behaviors you already possess that make you FEEL and perform like a boss, and what behaviors you possess that detract from that Boss Status.
  2. Make a list of the behaviors and habits that you think will help you FEEL more like a Boss.  Compare it with the list of Boss behaviors and habits you ALREADY have.
  3. Continue living your Boss behaviors and habits you already have.  Slowly incorporate (maybe one per month or so) those Boss behaviors you’d like to add.  Seriously.  I triple dog dare you to do it SLOWLY.

And, yes, I know how ridiculously simple this sounds.  Everything sounds simple.  Simple does NOT mean easy.  It doesn’t.  But, when you SLOWLY do this stuff, and you look back….even though some days and weeks were rough, you will STILL be glad you took the time to Boss Up.  Bossing up is FUN because it is a journey that will probably always be changing course….it isn’t a destination.

The insanely cool thing about the journey of Bossing Up?  YOU choose.  YOU choose what that means for you.  Nobody else chooses for you.  

Please, please, pretty please….keep me updated on your journey in Bossing Up.  Drop me a line sometime.  I LOVE hearing about this stuff.

I also have a special course dedicated to Mom Bosses coming up.  This is NOT me throwing you garbage of toning and shrinking your mom bod.  This is me helping you include strength training – ONE COMPONENT of Bossing Up – into your life so YOU can feel empowered and strong.  This is completely online, workouts are delivered directly to your inbox, and group empowerment, high fiving, commiserating over why it is so difficult to shop for the perfect pair of jeans, and celebrating your strengths….is done via private Facebook group.  This runs from November 7th – December 31st, and is open to soon to be moms, current moms, moms with grown kids, and those who want to be moms.  Space is limited, and you may register here if this is your “thang.”

Dear TM: Where Do I Eat My Skittles?

I got a REALLY awesome question from a member of one of my nutrition coaching groups yesterday.  For context, I feel like I should tell you what we are working on at the moment.

You see, I don’t tell my clients what to do or what to eat with a meal plan, a set of rules, or a good and bad foods list.  Because people need to choose for THEIR BODY and life, not mine.  And because one size never, EVER fits all with nutrition or fitness.

So, this nutrition coaching group is focused on lean AND healthy eating habits to help my clients rock their life.  Not obsessive stuff, not counting calories or macros, just good old eating habits that help people lean up a bit, feel good, keep the doctor happy at the annual visit, AND have energy for the deadlifts and for life.

You guys, we can ALWAYS complicate stuff up more, but do we even need to?  Not usually.  Maybe if the conditions are right, but not usually.  Once or twice a year, a short bout of fat loss focus might be the ticket for you.  The bulk of your year/life though….just sustainability.

So here is what REALLY matters when working towards lean AND healthy.

Thanks, RP, for this great graphic!
Thanks, RP, for this great graphic!

As you can see, the BIGGEST priorities are the bottom two layers – calorie balance, and food composition.  Calorie balance, or getting tight and right with your goals to either maintain weight, slowly lose weight, or slowly gain weight is KING.  Followed closely by food composition  (eating mostly healthy things, working towards eating more whole foods and less foods from boxes type stuff).  All the other “stuff” – macros, nutrient timing, hydration, and supplementation are waaayyyy at the end of the list of things to focus on, you know?

So, back to the story.  As a coaching group, we are currently focused on calorie balance by eating larger meals 3-4 times per day, without snacking.  We haven’t begun to address WHAT to eat yet, but rather just getting good at eating regular meals that are ENOUGH to carry us to the next meal.  However, we all know that those “food composition” habits are coming down the road.

So, here is the question I got today:

“Ok, so say you want something sweet or chocolate to eat, but you aren’t supposed to be eating between meals.  Do you just have some chicken with a side of Skittles at your meal or just try to not have it at all?”

You guys, this is a GREAT question.  Because we all find ourselves from time to time….where do I eat the dang Skittles?

First answer, wherever you want to eat the Skittles, in accordance with your calorie balance goals.  Meaning, eat them less if you are trying to slowly lose weight.  Eat them at a moderate level if your goal is to maintain your weight.  Eat them at more than a moderate level, and with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, if you are slowly trying to gain weight.  Tongue in cheek, of course….but as long as the calorie balance thing is happening, it doesn’t matter where you eat the Skittles.  For the record, you don’t actually have to count your calories here, either.  There are other ways to get this job done.

Then, we have the nutrition coaching group answer, because according to our current habit, we are shooting to eat 3-4 meals each day, without snacking in between.  So, in theory, this client might add some Skittles to one of her meals that day.  I’m guessing, over time, that Skittles wouldn’t be fun anymore if this client ate them at EVERY meal, but my guess is eating them at a meal today might help her feel satisfied during the day because 1) she ate something she really wanted to eat and 2) she ate overall for the day to support her goals, that Skittles were probably like 10% of the picture.

Then, we have MY answer:

“I vote go with your gut on the day. What do you REALLY want to eat and what will your brain and body feel good about before and after. Everyone’s answer will likely be different on this and THAT IS A-OK. Personally, most meals for me are pretty awesome protein, veggies, complex carb type stuff. However, I do have my fair share of 80/20 meals during the week – where 80% is pretty awesome whole food type stuff and 20% is wheeeeeeee this is fun! For instance, one lunch this weekend was a hamburger with bun, half an acorn squash and a side of Doritos. A fun breakfast last week was oatmeal with sliced apple and diced Reese’s peanut butter pumpkin mixed in. I’m learning to tell the difference between “I want to eat total crap right now” and “nope, I want a good wholesome meal that includes some fun stuff too.”

Folks, I think there is something to think about big time right here.  I feel bad about picking on Skittles, but in this case, they are a good example, so here goes.  Are you eating Skittles by the truckload all week?  Or are you eating some here and there?  THIS is what matters.

In sustainable eating habits, eating plenty of whole foods, vitamins, nutrients, slaying the calorie balance beast, AND sprinkling in Skittles is what matters.  You CAN be healthy AND lean while enjoying this approach.

But that’s not meant to say “eat Cheetos for breakfast with a side of Skittles, oatmeal cream pies for lunch with a side of Skittles, and drink your way through dinner.  ALTHOUGH, that MIGHT BE what your brain is interpreting here if you’ve been on a diet for most of your adult life.  Choosing foods that make you feel good AND look good, and make your body function well….probably are a good mix of decently healthy meals with fun treats sprinkled in.

What would YOU say if your nutrition coach said “never eat the Skittles, just avoid them and all “bad” foods because you have this certain way of eating to accomplish here?

Or, if you were able to choose mixing in the Skittles sometimes, and that helped you feel satisfied and allowed you to eat decently healthy without bingeing towards gluttony road, do you think that might work for you?

I know what my answer is.  I know it might differ from your answer, and even my client’s answer, and that is absolutely just fine.  The important part is that each person chooses for THEIR body, and THEIR life.  Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach in this instance.  Personally, sprinkling in treats allows me to feel satisfied, STILL NOURISHED because I’m eating plenty of the healthy stuff, and never really feeling deprived. I can’t tell you the last time I went “off the rails”….it’s been a long time.  And I could NEVER tell you that same statement if I was still following meal plans and dieting my way through life.  I approach eating the same way on Saturday as I do on Monday.

I would love your comments and follow-up question on this!  Leave them in a comment on my FB page post, or email me at tmwellnessrevolution at gmail dot com!

Pregnancy: Mom Boss Tara Chimes In

Confession.  I’ve had this interview in my inbox for QUITE some time.  So, here we are….FINALLY getting around to this!

I run a gym full of mostly women (and some very brave men).  Of course, with women, pregnancy is a topic that comes up from time to time.  And….not so much a topic, but an exciting life event!  I mean, you find out  you are pregnant one day, and then wait for like 40 weeks, and BOOM, a stork arrives at your doorstep with a brand new, doe-eyed, sweet little baby who never cries or fusses, and sleeps through the night immediately, and you whiz right back into your normal life, full of energy and life and zest, and a six pack, and you NEVER miss a beat.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Wouldn’t THAT be awesome?!?!  It really is an epic life event, but we all know….it doesn’t ever go as planned!

So anyways.  I thought it would be cool to interview some of my clients who have recently been through pregnancy and birth.  Well, sorta recent anyways.  They have been sitting around in my inbox after all :).  Mostly this is from a fitness perspective.  I find a lot of information is NOT out there related to pregnancy and what you should and should not do during it and there SURE as heck isn’t much out there (but that’s changing!!) on how to get back into fitness after birth.  So here is an insight to Mom Boss Tara’s pregnancy and postpartum experience.

Meet Tara!  Look at her, just four weeks and three days pregnant 🙂

4w3d-6-21-15Tell us, Tara, how did you feel working out while pregnant?

I honestly felt great working out while pregnant.  It helped me to have energy to end my day (I worked out at 6pm).  I had a great pregnancy and never had any nausea so that never stopped me from working out.  There were some days during the 2nd trimester where I was really tired (weeks 13-15) where I would have preferred to stay home, but I went anyways because I knew it would help pep me up for the rest of the evening and help me sleep that night too.

Was there any change to your strength/exercise routine during pregnancy compared to how you trained prior to pregnancy?

I didn’t change my routine that much.  I still did basically all the same moves/workouts but as time went on, I would lower my weights.  I began subbing in kettlebell deadlifts for swings as time went on, because swings started to feel “funny.”  I know at some point I began subbing in glute bridges and hip thrusts for certain exercises.  As time went on, my core exercises were either elevated and subbed for something more pregnant mama friendly. But that’s the great thing about strength training—there are lots of things you can substitute in if one exercise doesn’t feel great for that moment.

Towards the end, I also couldn’t do as many reps as I could before (with ease).  It was sometimes hard to catch my breath when we were getting into the third or fourth time of doing a set.

Tell us about your mindset during pregnancy.  Do you think it was enhanced/improved by a regular strength training and exercise routine?

I loved being pregnant!  I felt great the whole time and never had anything to complain about.  I do think a lot of that had to do with having a regular exercise routine before and during pregnancy.  At the same time I was pregnant, there were two other coworkers of mine who were pregnant who frequently complained of back pain and pressure and tightness.  I never experienced any of that and I think it had to do with the moves we were doing in class and the strength I had built up.

Another thing that I think was greatly improved (compared to other pregnancies I’ve heard) was my sleep.  Because I was getting that regular movement in, I slept throughout the night!  I never had any pain or times of being uncomfortable in my bed throughout the whole pregnancy.

Kettlebells and baby bumps.
Kettlebells and baby bumps.

Do you think think a regular strength/exercise routine helped prepare you for labor?  How about recovery after birth?

Um…yes.  I would say that the breathing aspect of strength training totally helped with breathing through contractions as well as breathing when pushing, versus holding my breath.  Also I knew how to break down my body and know where to be pushing from—or at least I think I did.  I only pushed for 10 minutes so I think I did pretty well!

I was pleasantly surprised with recovery.  We’ve all heard the horror stories about how bad it is supposed to be afterwards.  Well, my epidural wore off and I walked to my room and I don’t think I ever stopped moving after that.  I can’t say I had any pain (except the first night when my epidural site bugged me a bit) and I felt good to go within 8-10 days.  Obviously I kept up on the ibuprofen regimen that they recommend, but I weaned myself off of that after a week.  I was so used to being on the move and knowing how to correctly move my body to help things “heal” that sitting down actually bothered me more than moving and doing things around the hospital room or around the house.  

If you could look into the future, and if you find yourself being pregnant down the road….will you include a regular strength/exercise routine at that point?  Why or why not?

Of course!  Like stated before, I think it totally prepared me for the breathing aspect of labor.  I also think it helps mentally—going into a workout you know that it’s going to end eventually and you know that you have to do these moves to be done with the class/workout.  I went into labor that way—I just have to do this and then my baby will be here!  Sometimes with working out, you create a little mantra for your workout to get yourself through it.  I again did that with pregnancy and labor—my mantra was “I’m okay and my baby is okay”.  Thinking that along with knowing how to breathe properly helped get through those early contractions.

40 weeks, 5 days!
40 weeks, 5 days!

If you could give a piece of friendly advice to someone who is a little freaked out about exercise and lifting because they just found out they are pregnant for the first time, what would it be?

You were doing it when you got pregnant…it doesn’t need to change!  Lifting a 44lb kettlebell (properly) isn’t going to hurt you or your pregnancy!  As long as you are being safe and following instructions and listening to your body, you’ll be fine!

***I would say too that how you move AFTER being pregnant and wanting to get back into strength training is a big deal as well.  Your body is all out of wack so it’s hard to get back to where you were before pregnant right away.  I had to remind myself to slow down and that I couldn’t safely lift as much as I could prior or do some movements the same.  Especially anything with ab work—even now at 6 months post partum, some of those things still feel off.  I started working out again at 6 weeks with modifications, but from the minute my daughter was born, I was doing movement around the house and working on some “resets” when I could just to keep my body moving.

Thanks, Tara, for sharing your experience!

There tends to be lots of great info on doing easy yoga, and walking a lot during pregnancy.  But in my experience, and many of my clients….it seems that many doctors are unfamiliar with what is considered classic strength training.  So advice such as “limit yourself to 10 pound weights” and “keep it on the less strenuous side” is thrown out quite frequently.  However, there IS a lot of great research coming out that moderately intense strength sessions – a few a week, are GREAT helpers for not only YOUR health, but your baby’s health as well.

It is important, if you ARE strength training during pregnancy, that you work with someone qualified.  This person (perhaps a trainer) will be able to help you modify certain things, keep you, your baby, AND your pelvic floor safe.  And help you ease back into things when that time comes.  There is LOTS of stuff to consider here, and you and your body should be treated with care before AND after.  You take 40-ish weeks to grow a human inside of you, and it will probably take longer than that to get your body to your “new normal” status post birth.  This isn’t a “get a six pack” game here people, this is real life stuff!  And, in my opinion, really COOL stuff!

Honestly, you might be educating your doctor on WHAT you actually are doing while you strength train because they truly might not be familiar with that stuff.  When you tell them “I do deadlifts…..” you might get a blank stare, because they are the expert at your pregnancy, not every stinkin’ exercise you MAY or MAY NOT do during your pregnancy (and to be fair, that’s not what they are trained in.  Why should they be?).  Not everyone knows what swinging a kettlebell is, or doing hip thrusts to grow dat ass.  So don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing a quick demo of your exercises in your doc’s office :).  You and your doc SHOULD both be cool with what you are doing, you know?

All in all, every pregnancy is different.  Never be afraid to stand up for yourself and say you know what?  I feel like hell today, and I need a nap more than I need squats.  Or on the flip side, if you feel like kicking ass that day, kick ass that day in a safe way.  YOU know what YOU need.  And I would argue that if you are a regular at lifting, you are REALLY in touch with your body already, and you REALLY know what is best that day.

Three Things To Ask Yourself Related To Nutrition And Fitness

Raise your hand if you’ve ever jumped on a 90 day crazy ass workout program.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever jumped at the chance to sign up for a 30 day clean eating challenge.

Raise your hand if you’ve done both, couldn’t quite hack it because life happened, and then felt like a failure because you “couldn’t complete the challenge.”

Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Regina George.

Regina George(Photo Cred)

By the way, I’ve raised my hand four times by now.

You guys, phrases like “beast mode” and “strict eating challenge” and “14 day reset” and “60 day bikini body plan” sounds really, REALLY sexy.  They really do.  They have to!  How else would Big Fitness and Big Diet get you to buy them?  Better yet, how would Big Fitness and Big Diet get you to KEEP buying them other than by making them ridiculous, so they are easy to fail, so you maybe don’t complete them, so you stay sucked into their marketing funnel to buy the NEXT big thing that is sure to work next time?

I used to fall prey to Big Diet and Big Fitness.  A LOT.  For years.  I have to admit, it really felt hopeful to cling to a new way of eating, or a new exercise plan.  That’s safe right?  Because it was something I had always done – cling to a certain plan or program that guaranteed skinny or lean.  Do it for a bit.  Life happened for a day.  Then it lost its luster and I skipped the next day.  And the next.  And then…..suddenly that program or plan was collecting dust and long forgotten about, and my bruised ego was telling me I was a failure.  So I’d sit like that for a bit, until the next plan or program came along that was SURE to help me….my last ditch effort for sure.  Unfortunately, because cycle was my “norm”….I felt safe clinging to the next big thing.  As dysfunctional as that sounds.

There was one common denominator to all these plans and programs that I was trying to force upon myself.  Besides the obvious of creating LOADS of stress I didn’t need…..the big thing here was that I didn’t have any buy-in to these programs.  They didn’t give me choices.  I was forced into a plan, without choices.  Basically, a “comply or die” type situation.  I was missing the choices I needed to make to learn how to MAKE choices related to my nutrition and fitness, and how to do it in a way that made SENSE in my life.  I was missing…..autonomy.

So I’ve been thinking about that for awhile.  In the past, I’ve read some awesome stuff by Nia Shanks with the concept of making sure your “stuff” is simple, sustainable, and best of all….sane.  I like that.  That makes SENSE to me.  So I’ve kind of been thinking up questions to ask myself about what I’m doing to sort of meet that criteria.  Sometimes asking myself questions like this helps me step back with an objective eye, versus a highly emotional eye, and in turn….I can make the best choice for ME without the emotional crap that comes with it.

So, of course, I’m going to pass these questions on to YOU.  Maybe you can run with them the way I have.  Maybe they’ll help you, or maybe they’ll be just another list of things in your email inbox to get lost.  Who knows 🙂

Can I keep repeating this stuff on the regular?  It doesn’t matter if you absolutely KILLED legs in the gym, or ate clean as a whistle with perfect macros TODAY.  It matters that you can get up again and train and eat again in roughly the same fashion tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the day after that.  Is the fitness regimen you are doing REPEATABLE?  Can your body handle it day after day for the duration of the program?  Does it have rest and recovery days within it, and a good mix of easy, medium, and hard workout sessions on a regular cycle?  How about your nutrition?  Does it require you to be clean as a whistle every day?  Or is it flexible where you can make choices you need to make in your realistic life, and something that nourishes your body AND spirit?  And, oh by the way, if you ENJOY your nutrition and fitness regimen, that means a LOT here too, in terms of keeping it repeatable, right?  Longevity is the big game that we are playing here.  I am in this for the haul, not for 30 measly days.  I literally want to still be deadlifting when I’m 80.  And still eating Reese’s PB eggs and a host of yummy whole foods as well at that time.  I’m already doing those things now, and will likely be ebbing and flowing my way through that for years.  Will I learn new skills along the way?  Yup.  But I’m still able to apply them how I need to in ways that are best FOR ME.

Does this consume my life or add to my life?  If I have to live and die by my portioned out food in tupperwares, I already know….this “way” is CONSUMING my life.  If I have to “comply or die” by following a hugely regimented training plan, this is CONSUMING my life.  When things consume my life, they require WAY too much energy on just those two things, and leave me zero energy for “other stuff.”  I need things that add to my life.  I way of eating that is lots of whole foods and nutrients plus treats?  Yes, this adds to my life.  A focus on daily movement, with times of strength and times of cardio or stretching or other stuff?  Yup, this makes me feel good.  Most importantly, for me….is eating and moving make ME more awesome because they give me energy and don’t grind me down.  Eating and moving AREN’T who I am, if that makes sense.  But they are an important piece of the person who is a wife, a mom, a business owner, and someone who loves to write and deal in things like personal development, and help others believe that they can too.  Again, it seems that I am coming back to longevity here.

Does this REALLY fit into my life and help me be the best me?  Eating “one way” or being “on” an exercise program 6-7 days a week simply has no room in my life.  And worse, when I try to force it on myself, it either makes me rebel or makes me feel like a failure because I can’t keep up with it.  Do these things REALLY fit into my life then?  Nope.  However, a daily focus on my habit game (one at a time, yo), and regular check-ins on “are these things helping me be my best me,” now THAT gives me some oomph.  And more importantly, it gives me information, which in turn helps ME CHOOSE what is best.

These are three things I think about a lot during my me time of self-reflection.  They aren’t flashy, but they do help me get down to the nitty gritty and get honest with myself.  And I feel that honesty helps me see EXACTLY where I am, so I can change the course if needed when I plan where to go next.  They help me be objective, without all the emotional stuff that comes with.

For me, emotions are useful because they let me know I’m reacting in a way to something.  However, emotions, for me….aren’t always TRUE.  Being able to step back with my questions, gives me back the power to be objective and REALLY see what is happening.  Both are useful.  One, for me, is always true.

Hey you, if you are reading this, just a piece of advice.  Not one person on this planet has their shit together.  This stuff is messy as hell, and it certainly can feel NOT FUN to go through.  That’s ok though!  The tough spots are the grind, and the grind is a huge part of your learning process.  On most days, I would argue that it is THE MOST important part of one’s learning process, because it’s where we decide to stick to our guns and buckle down and lean into that ugly ass struggle.  And THAT is one of the bravest things we can do.

Five Things I Know For Sure As A Nutrition Coach

I’ve grown as a nutrition coach over the last few years.  WAY back when, I used to be the one who lived and died by rigid habits taught to me from my textbooks and personal experience and believed they were the key to everyone’s happiness….literally, you could become a unicorn if you followed the rigidity of these habits.  Then, macros and counting were the new thing.  Now?  I question everything.  Absolutely everything.  If it sounds complicated, it is, and it’s like too much damn work for most people.

In short…….everything works.  And nothing works.  It all depends.

And it is based 1000000000% on the individual I’m coaching, and not on “the one way” that is right.  This stuff is highly individual, and based on how a client needs to learn.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time (and way more $ than I feel good about) being coached by bullshit coaches.  I have had meal plans, Paleo + organic hoopla, athletic based eating plans and templates, and basically an IIFYM (if it fits your macros/calories) approach. Oh, and let’s not forget, the 1200 calories a day of clean eating followed by one cheat day where you eat whatever the flip you want.  While I did learn things along the way (like, meal plans suck, and clean eating makes me want to wash my apples with soap) was what has inspired this list.  I get a kick of out some of these coaches, because upon learning and taking my time to wade through LEGIT and CREDIBLE nutrition information, and taking a few certifications and courses……these actually weren’t coaches at all.  They were salespeople.  And making someone who TRULY wanted help with eating even more confused than when she set out to get help with their coaching.

My list comes with a fair amount of snark, sass, AND seriousness.  So settle in.  Five things.  Here we go.

  1. HOW MUCH one eats matters MOST.  Diets have one thing in common…..they get you to eat less or at the very minimum, control the “how much” or calorie factor (some too much less, but that’s a topic for another day).  Low carbers get rid of calories by getting rid of carbs.  Clean eaters get rid of calories by ditching everything unclean (whatever the flip that means).  IIFYM people think they don’t care about calories but they do, because allllll those macros add up to calories in the end.  Oh, and the #herbasuckers?  200 calories worth of shakes twice a day, a sensible meal, and two snacks… ain’t the shake that’s doing the magic, baby, it’s the ridiculously low amount of calories.  All diets control calories.  Period.  And that special someone who wants to tell you it doesn’t matter how much you eat, as long as it’s “clean”….is lying.
  2. Chronic dieters are TERRIFIED to trust themselves and their food choices so they cling to their meal plans, and diets, and set calorie amounts, and special food portion containers.  Because. They. Don’t. Trust. Their. Choices.  And these are the very things keeping them in the chronic diet hamster wheel.  Ditch the crutch, and build trust.
  3. Most people who want to be healthy eaters need four things – more protein to help them stay satisfied and help hold lean muscle mass.  More veggies, because most of us don’t eat enough.  More complex carbs, because we need the energy.  And less rigidity. In a nutshell, I would call this the “eating lots of whole foods plus a few treats and not judging yourself based on your eating” plan.  And I don’t like plans.  So I’m just going to call it “eating for life.”
  4. When a client says “I want help losing weight” in the first five minutes of meeting you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want to lose weight.  They might just want to feel better, or feel more athletic, or feel more energetic, or see some muscle definition.  But, everyone, it seems, says they want to lose weight, because that’s what we think gets us to those things.  Learning to ask more questions, and open ended questions, and spending some time talking about these things….well, that’s where the REAL answers show up.  Sometimes the real answer truly IS weight loss, and that’s ok too.
  5. Lots of clients and prospective clients ask if going organic is a good way to get healthier and stuff.  This is an education process – “organic” and “GMO free” and “free range” sound sexy and healthful and not so full of toxins, don’t they?  Bottom line, though….most individuals need to worry about #3 – more protein, more veggies, more complex carbs, less rigidity.  Organic, and GMO free, and free range food….all still have calories, and vitamins and nutrients like non-organic food.  One doesn’t automatically get healthier when all the food in their home changes to organic status.  Start with the basics – more protein, more veggies, more complex carbs, less rigidity, and let the labeling of such eating fall to the wayside.  I have a fabulous quote on this one from the Renaissance Periodization Understanding Healthy Eating ebook…..”Organic food is only different from conventionally farmed food in one predictable way: it costs more.”  

So there you have it, five things I know for sure.

Wait, here is a bonus.  Consider it #6.  NONE of this stuff matters, the perfect diet, or weight loss plan, or nutrition stuff….NONE of it matter if it is something you are doing for a 21 day challenge, an 8 week stint, or a finite period of time where you are focusing on just the outcome.  Nope, what matters is that you can do this stuff you want to do, day in and day out.  Even when it loses it’s luster, and isn’t sexy anymore.  This, my friends, is called habit change, or the process.  And it is the sweet spot.

Three Ways I Supplement Protein Right Now

If you’ve read my last two posts, you know I’m talking about protein shakes.  If you haven’t read them, and want help falling asleep tonight, check them out here and here.  And if you’re like…..blah, blah, blah with this protein shake train, Amanda, feel free to just not read this one 🙂

First and foremost, I’m a nutrition coach.  And I’m a big believer in eating and chewing your food, and getting most of your nutrients from food sources that you chew and digest and taste and enjoy.  However, I do believe there is a time and a place for supplementing protein from time to time.  Not as a form of one’s main nutrition.  A supplement is, and always is, meant to SUPPLEMENT when something is possibly missing.  Mostly good for those who have trouble getting enough protein, or from those who struggle with eating enough in general, and balancing their protein and food choices overall, and….also I’m a big proponent of a protein supplement for those who lift the shit out of some weights, frequently, who need to get a jumpstart on recovering from being a beast.

So right now is a perfect time to write about why I’m supplementing protein.

Because, I’m friggin’ having a lot of trouble eating protein in general, and to be honest…..enough food for my energy needs right now.

Because I’m in that shady 14 weeks pregnant stage.  Where I’m FINALLY getting energy back after first trimester is done and gone.  But lots of my normal food choices still sound shady, and make me want to vomit.  And really, because I am on the blowing chunks train currently, and if it’s anything like my last pregnancy, I’ll probably be on this train for quite some time.  So, a bit of graphic detail, but I’m kinda in the “I need nutrients, food, and protein” category right now.  So I’m supplementing.

For the record, I supplement sometimes when I’m NOT pregnant too, and mostly in the context of I’m being a beast with weights and gotta recover.  Or, the “I have five hours worth of clients and class back to back, and this protein shake will help me not chew my arm off later, and also looks more professional in front of my client than gnawing on a chicken leg while they squat” type scenario.

So, I thought I’d share the three ways I’m supplementing right now.  In the form of ways I’m using protein.  And what kinds of protein.  And why.  So maybe you can learn the way I like to think through things with my food choices.

Jacked Up Latte – (insert pic).  When I found out I was pregnant, I dropped my coffee habit WAY back, and was drinking like half a mug of regular coffee plus the other half decaf.  Nope, this made me wanna hurl too early in the day for like five weeks.  So I dropped it like it was hot for a bit.  I’ve come back to it recently as it’s gotten colder, and it seems I like the taste of coffee again, but a bit later in the day.  So this lovely little gem is a decaf latte.  I make it to fill a mug, so it’s about two cups prepared decaf coffee, plus then my lovely milk and protein mixture.  I mixed 1 cup whole milk (I need more fat in my life right now) with a half a scoop of Quest Salted Carmel protein powder.  Then, I warmed it up on the stove and whisked it until it got nice and frothy.  Mixed it in my mug with my decaf and BOOM.  Jacked Up Latte was born.  It’s quite delicious.  Hits the spot on a cold day, plus gets me a nice dose of protein, without tasting like a protein supplement (chalk).  I drink this during the day, usually late morning or early afternoon with a snack.

protein latte

Bedtime Hot Chocolate – If I’m way short on food or protein at the end of the day, and I need a nice way to wind down before bed, I’ve been drinking hot chocolate.  And it’s really not a hot chocolate mix, but again, about a cup-ish of milk (whole or 1%, whatever I feel like), and a scoop of Dymatize Chocolate Casein.  Again, I warm this on the stove top, pour in a mug, and it’s sorta nice before bed.  Casein is a good scenario for bedtime because it takes a lot longer to digest, sorta think “time release” here.  So, this has actually been helping me sleep better because I’m not waking up in the middle of the night hungry, or….not feeling nauseous first thing out of bed in the morning because I’m hangry.  If I’m in a pinch and out of milk, I’ll mix it with water, warm it on the stove, and toss in two-ish tablespoons of half and half to make it creamy.

Protein Energy Balls –  This is basically oats, chunky peanut butter, a little honey, and BiPro unflavored whey (made in Le Sueur, MN!), with a healthy sprinkle of chocolate chips.  I don’t have a recipe, but you can do a quick google search for “protein energy balls” and come up with something pretty similar.  Mix all ingredients together, roll into balls, refrigerate, and eat as needed.  These were a HUGE help for me at like 8-12 weeks when pretty much everything was gross.  I lived off these and apples, oranges, and grapes for a few days straight.

protein balls

So, again, I’m supplementing right now because my normal food choices are kinda shady to me at this stage of pregnancy, and a girl still has to eat!  My midwife knows that I’m using these things, and I have her blessing.  I also feel pretty decent about the ingredients list on these items, but more importantly…..I’M EATING because these are appetizing at the moment.  And a pregnant woman who is eating is also feeding and growing a baby, so in my book, that’s a win.  I would guesstimate that I do a combo of these maybe five to six times a week right now, depending on the week.

Other protein sources that are NOT supplements that taste alright right now…..Greek yogurt (2% or full fat), sometimes cottage cheese, beef, beef, beef.  Maybe chicken, if it’s hidden in something, and pork chops (at night, no earlier).  Yup, it’s a crazy ride right now 🙂

Kind of important to note – I supplement with DAIRY protein because I have zero issues tolerating dairy.  Plus, it’s a cheap way to supplement and works well for me.  SUPER IMPORTANT for one to consider what kinds of supplements they TOLERATE before actually supplementing, you know?

Dear TM: Should I Drink Protein Shakes?

Last week, I wrote a post answering the question I hear on the regular….

Does drinking protein shakes make you lose weight?

I got a LOT of response from that post, thanking me for clarification on a few things, and breaking down how one actually DOES lose weight if they desire (and it does NOT mean drinking protein shakes).

I also got some more questions.  Which I thought warranted another post.

Here is basically what I’ve been asked via email, in person, or PM over the past week:

“Should I drink protein shakes?”

Here’s my honest answer…..only if you want to.  It doesn’t have to get more complicated than that, really.

But in all seriousness, I coach this stuff.  I live and breathe some of this stuff because it is so friggin’ interesting to me.  And so I’m going to give you some things to think about so maybe YOU can find your own answer.  These happen to be the same things I think about personally, and the same things I give my clients to think about.

I think it’s helpful to put it into some sort of a list of rambling thoughts to think about.  Bear with me.  I can, at times, be cynical.  Which makes for sassy and interesting reading 🙂  I’m going to highlight the big ticket question to ask yourself in each point.

First and foremost, do you LIKE drinking protein shakes?  If you do, then by all means, drink them.  Seriously.  I’ve tried many a protein drink in my day.  I’ve come across maybe three that actually don’t taste like chalk.  And I wouldn’t call them AMAZING, but I would look at them like one thing that may or may not fit into my life well, depending on my needs at the time.  If you like drinking protein shakes, friggin’ drink them.  If you don’t, don’t friggin’ drink them.  Case closed.

Do you NEED more protein in your daily intake?  Remember, in weight management, total calories (or HOW MUCH food you eat) matter FIRST, macros (or how many protein, carb, and fat grams you balance out each day) matter SECOND.  So, if you are nailing the HOW MUCH piece, you might need to move on to macros.  For my clients and myself, we try to get somewhere in the ballpark of .7-.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.  Or a certain number of palm size servings of protein each day.  However, we don’t necessarily meticulously log or even weigh or measure our food.  I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you this part though.  My true goal as a nutrition coach is to help someone find THEIR balance, or where THEY feel good at.  I find I get my female clients the best results if I can get them to at least 100 grams of protein per day.  They see and feel change there.  There isn’t as noticeable of a different for me (or them) to jump from 100 to 125 or 150, although we do work on that at times.  It seems for most, the biggest bang hits when someone who is typically eating an intake of 50-60 grams of protein per day to at least hit the 100 gram milestone.  Doesn’t mean they don’t need more and we don’t work to bump them up at times, but that’s where the big changes are noticed in appetite and satiety, at least in my experience.  I don’t notice any benefit at all at eating 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, because FAT and CARBS need attention as well.

Do you feel like the convenience of drinking a protein shake is an easy solution?  Some people honestly struggle with eating enough food each day, or skipping meals and then later find themselves chewing their arm off out of hunger.  Honestly, in these cases, protein shakes might just be the ticket.  You can drink them solo mixed with milk or water (which won’t fill you up or keep you full for long), or you can blend them into a huge azz meal with fruit, and avocado, and maybe even some sneaky spinach, and oats.  These become portable meals that really only take a minute or two to prepare.  Personally, I often sandwich my own strength training workouts in between personal training clients and group classes.  That means that sometimes I lift and then train 2-3 clients after, and then can’t really eat a normal meal for hours.  In these instances, I often do chug a protein shake, and eat an apple, and possibly a few crackers or pretzels and mixed nuts simply out of convenience, and then I don’t become a jerk to my clients post workout, because I’m not a hangry beast.

Do you follow a rigorous training regimen that leaves you needing a jump on recovery?  Listen, if you train Strongman (woman), powerlifting, bodybuilding, Games, or other competitive sports, or even just follow a very rigorous lifting routine, you possibly might need to get a jump on recovery.  Bodies recover in a variety of ways, and nutrition is one of those ways.  These folks might need an intra workout shake (drinking a protein or protein + carb supplement during their workout) or a post workout shake (drinking a protein or protein + carb supplement after their workout).  Again, let’s not forget that total calories or HOW MUCH we eat matters most.  But for people pushing the envelope on performance, we gotta look at the macro piece, and recovery as well.  So, if you’re taking a Yoga Sculpt class, no….you do not need an intra or post workout shake for recovery.  Ever.  No matter what your “health coach” tells you.  If you’re doing a basic circuit class, nope, probably not.  If you’re doing 15-30+ working sets of exercises, it’s probably time to consider it, you know?  If your training sessions are pushing 1.5 hours and up, and it’s not because you are busy texting your friends during them, it might be time to consider them.  If you are waking up day after day sore AF, feeling like you got hit by a bus, it might be time to consider them….but more than likely it means you need more food overall, and not protein shakes specifically.

Does your body tolerate drinking a protein shake?  Listen, some bodies don’t tolerate protein supplements.  They just don’t.  People report feeling gassy or yucky after certain ones, and that’s because their body just ain’t having it.  Others have no issues at all.  This is kind of an individual thing, so it’s important to pay attention.  Protein supplements are typically from whey or casein protein, although there are soy protein, pea protein, brown rice protein, egg white protein, and other choices as well.  I hope it goes without saying that if you don’t tolerate dairy, it’s probably not wise to supplement with a dairy protein.  But if it doesn’t go without saying, I guess I just said it.

Do you keep trying to tell yourself that drinking a protein shake is going to make you lose weight?  This is a serious question, and I’m not trying to be a jerk here.  But sometimes we like to say “I’m going to drink protein shakes” or “go organic” or “do a Whole30” because we are using the supplement (or organic falala or Whole30) as another means of “fixing” ourselves.  So, what I’m trying to say here is, your MINDSET friggin’ matters when it comes to this stuff.  If you truly need or want to supplement, do it.  If you are using it as a ruse to lose weight or “fix your fatally flawed self”….it ain’t a good idea, you know?

Lots of points to consider with this protein shake topic, yes?  And there are more points to possibly consider as well, but I’m running out of steam on this post.  Remember, calories (whether you meticulously count them or not) matter MOST.  This is the HOW MUCH piece.  Macros (or your ratio of protein, carb, and fat grams) matter SECOND.  Then a few other things matter after that, but not nearly as much as slaying the calorie and macro beasts.

Remember, you get protein from meat, eggs, fish, dairy, beans, soy, and other stuff.  There is no reason you need to supplement protein, really, with all those delicious choices that you can chew.  Of course, there may be reasons for you to supplement.  You are your own individual with your own needs.

Also remember, drinking a protein shake doesn’t automatically make you healthy.  Nor does it make you She-Hulk Jacked Mama Jama (if there WAS that supplement, and it wasn’t roids, I might consider taking it, lol) 😉  Remember, neither food nor supplements have a moral value.

I’m happy to discuss these things with you via comment on this post, or discussion on my Facebook page.  I also have an awesome Nutrition Power Tools course beginning September 25th, and we discuss some of this (and a lot more stuff) in the course.  Feel free to email me at to indicate interest in the course, or just to give me your private two cents on this blog post.  Oh, and if you want a list of the protein supplements I use that don’t taste like chalk, let me know as well, and I’m happy to provide you them (none are associated with MLM companies, and all are economical).  Also drop me a line if you have an interesting question or topic that might make a good blog post as I’m kind of on a kick where I’m trying to answer common questions.

Do Protein Shakes Make You Lose Weight?

I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of info in my feeds/face about how drinking protein (or meal replacement for that matter) shakes helps one lose weight.

For a while, Slim Fast used to be a thing.  Drink two Slim Fast shakes a day, and eat a sensible dinner.  Boom.  Weight loss was inevitable.  So was chewing off your arm out of hunger, but that’s a topic for another day.

Supplement stores such as GNC sell some sort of Lean Shake mix, which is advertised quite frequently on TV, and if you happen to walk past one of their stores, I’m sure you will see it displayed prominently in the window.  Kind of the same concept.

Of course, we also have the current MLM craze, where everyone and their brother is selling shakes and supplements to help slim you down.  This is the same concept as the first two, but on steroids, because it’s in your face, coming from “health coaches” who really don’t have training in health or nutrition, but ARE really great at hashtagging their social media feeds and making sure that you know the product they are trained to SELL is super healthy for you, and will completely change your life (you’ll get the job, AND the hot husband, AND 2.5 kids who will go on to both nab a Nobel Peace Prize, AND the car,  AND suddenly start telling everyone how #blessed  you are since you found “unlimited earning potential”).

So does drinking shakes REALLY help you lose weight?  Let’s look at this with a critical eye for a second, shall we?

This is also my WTF face.
This is also my WTF face.

First off, we need to know our calorie balance “stuff.”  If one is maintaining their weight, they are in calorie (or energy)  balance…..or, what they put into their body via food/calories is pretty much the same as what they expended each day through living activities, exercise, etc.  If one is losing weight, they are in negative calorie balance, or taking in less food/calories than what they expend each day.  If one is gaining weight, they are in positive caloric balance, or taking in more calories/food than they expend each day.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out with the CDC.

So….we already have our answer, really.  Negative calorie balance is what makes one lose weight.  But….this would be a really boring post if we stopped here, so let’s continue down this path further.

I picked up this super handy graphic from my friends at Renaissance Periodization.  They are like the #sciencebitches of nutrition world.  For the record, my friends at Precision Nutrition share this stuff as well in their nutrition training.  So do many other science based organizations.  A quick Google search should net you many quality examples such as this one.

Photo Cred: Renaissance Periodization
Photo Cred: Renaissance Periodization

Take a peek at this thing, will you?  It tells us a lot.  Of all things important related to nutrition, calorie balance carries the most weight (Ha!  Pun intended!).  How MUCH we eat affects our weight the most, just like we learned above.  From that graphic, it is roughly 50% of the equation (at least to my eye).  Next in line are macronutrients, which are basically the balance of your food intake being made up of carbs, fats, and proteins, and it’s important to note that this carries a bit of weight too (look at me with my witty puns!).  Then we start getting down to fine tuning….nutrient timing, otherwise known as WHEN you eat your carbs, fats, and proteins.  Then food composition….or WHAT your food choices are made of (whole foods vs. lots of boxed food choices could be an example).  Finally, the last, last, VERY LAST item on the list….supplements, or what we know as things like protein shakes and supplements, pre-workout drinks, intra workout drinks, post workout drinks, recovery formulas, aloe drinks, fat burners, energy bars, and all that other “stuff” sold by stores like GNC, or quite possibly 50% of your social media newsfeed (because again, everyone and their brother is peddling SOMETHING to slim you down).

Here’s the thing.  Pretty much everything you are eating and drinking has calories.  It “costs” something to enjoy those things.  The foods you eat day in and day out MATTER with regard to your weight because they are that 50% figure on the graphic…the HOW MUCH.  If one desires to lose weight, they will need to get familiar with the HOW MUCH piece.

For the record – HOW MUCH, or calorie balance, means the most.  You can be in negative calorie balance by making your breakfast a protein shake, if that protein shake is less calories than your normal breakfast, and therefore takes your total calorie intake to a level that is slightly less than what you burn each day on the regular.  For the record, you can ALSO eat eggs and veggies and toast for breakfast and STILL lose weight, if your total calories IN are less than what you put OUT that day.  And, I feel like throwing a wrench in it all too, so I will.  If you eat nothing but Snickers bars during the day, and you STILL end up eating less calories than you expend each day, you will lose weight.  I would argue that might not be best for your HEALTH, but HEALTH and WEIGHT LOSS don’t necessarily mean the same thing, now do they?

So, want to lose weight?  Then figure out about how much you eat each day on the regular.  You can do this by counting calories, or by taking pictures of your food each day, and sort of keeping a mental inventory.  You can also do it by eyeballing.  The knowing HOW MUCH piece is generally the biggest piece of the puzzle for folks to get a handle on, because activity is activity.  If you are an active person, that doesn’t generally change to non-active next week, sorta active the following week, and super-duper-awesome active the week after that.  It generally stays the same over the course of a week.  The same is true for moderately active or inactive people.  Or, if you want to keep your food intake the same, get MORE active, or BURN more energy.  This will also give you a negative calorie balance, provided you move enough.

Finding your desired calorie balance is the first step of the puzzle.  If you want to lose weight, somehow finagle a few less (like 200-500) less calories in your mouth than you expend each day.  OVER TIME, you will lose weight, if you are consistent.  Keep working this until you’ve reached your desired weight.  Once this gets easy for you, start working on macronutrients, or getting a decent amount of protein in each day, and fats, and carbohydrates.  For the record, those things all have calories, but it is more like playing around with the RATIO of proteins, fats, and carbs to find YOUR ideal level.  Please, please, pretty please avoid the trap of just arbitrarily assigning yourself an allowance of 1200 calories a day.  This is generally very severe for most individuals, and makes it nearly impossible to stick to, thus creating a cycle of dieting, binging, icky confidence and self-esteem, and other yuck.

I’m a nutrition coach, and my clients pretty much slay the calorie balance piece first (through a variety of ways like possibly keeping count of calories or other non-counting methods).  We do begin to incorporate macronutrient info pretty quickly, because my nutrition clients are generally also strength and conditioning clients, and getting a handle on macros tends to improve their performance and recovery as well.  These two pieces – calorie balance and macronutrients – those are generally where we stop because they are enough for MOST individuals.  Should you want to be a Crossfit games competitor, or bodybuilder, or compete in figure, or be super-freaking-ripped-lean, we need to start paying attention to things like nutrient timing, food composition, and supplementation.  For most of America, though, we really don’t.

So back to the original question – does drinking protein shakes help you lose weight?  Answer – yes, IF you are in a negative calorie balance.  But let’s not forget, there are many ways to be in a negative calorie balance, including NOT drinking protein shakes.

My two cents – spend your money on foods that make you feel good and that you like to eat.  If you want to lose weight, eat a bit less of them each day, and don’t waste your energy (or money) on supplementing because it is like 5% of the total picture.

I hope I answered the question  – does drinking protein shakes make one lose weight?  All in all, every qualified nutrition coach will get down and dirty in the details with their client.  Protein shakes CAN play a role in one’s, but they don’t need to.  And they certainly don’t need to be touted as the Holy Grail, they are in fact, just protein grams and calories.  Same as an egg.  Same as cottage cheese.  Same as chicken, salmon, beef, etc.  Protein shakes just tend to digest faster, because you know, no chewing required.  But that’s another post completely.

If you need help sorting through this in your own personal life, please give me a shout.  I like to make this stuff uncomplicated for people.  I love helping people realize they can have a healthy relationship with food, trust their choices, and NOT LIVE in fear every time they sit down to eat.  You can reach me at tmwellnessrevolution at gmail dot com.  I answer everyone :).  I also have a really handy nutrition course coming up through my lovely little gym.  It begins September 25th, and will help you figure out this stuff in a non-complicated way.  If you choose to join us, sign up soon, as space is limited, by clicking HERE.


Four Nutrition Tips That Will Change How You View Food

You guys, I know.  Nutrition, or….how one eats….seems crazy overwhelming.  Like, CRAZY overwhelming.  If Dr. Oz says that carbs are bad but now Oprah is eating them, like who do we even listen to?  (Hint: probably neither of those two public figures).  

I like to think about nutrition in a way that isn’t scary.  Nor full of rules or lots of counting.  And best of all, I think viewing nutrition this way promotes a healthy relationship with food and eating.  I thought I would share that with you today.  Mostly because I know how it feels to have a shady relationship with food.  It’s no fun to feel like you are on a cycle of “on” or “off” your nutrition game.  Life is too short, and there are better places to put our energy than in crazy feelings towards food.

So here goes.  A few tips that might help you out.  

Tip #1 – Eat 3 or 4 meals a day, with no snacks in between.  

Whaaaaatttt?  I thought I was supposed to eat 5-6 mini meals a day?  Well, to be honest, you can still do that.  But listen to my reasoning for 3-4 meals each day.  First off, if you only eat 3-4 times each day, your meals become more substantial….a little larger.  I don’t know about you, but larger meals help me feel satisfied for longer.  Physically AND mentally.  I’m a person who lives to eat.  Eating a larger meal is FUN for me.  And satisfying.  And then it lets me feel a little full or satisfied for a few hours so I can go on my merry way and NOT stress about when my next meal is coming in.  I literally have more energy to direct towards the rest of my life because I’m thinking about food less.  All from eating larger meals less frequently throughout the day.  What matters in the weight management world is that we eat enough energy from food each day to support the energy that we expend.  If we eat that energy in almonds, or broccoli, or Twinkies, or over 5-6 meals, or 3-4 meals doesn’t really matter for weight management (although some of these do directly impact our health).  It matters that we eat the energy we expend each day OVER THE LONG HAUL….day in and day out.  However, for many, eating 3-4 larger meals tends to be a great strategy because they feel satisfied and don’t have to invest energy in two short hours about where their next mini meal is coming from….because they can last about four hours until their next meal.  It’s sort of a time saver, and a mental energy saver.

Tip #2 – Let hunger be your signal that it’s time to eat again.  

It’s okay to feel hungry.  We won’t die from feeling hunger.  Actually, feeling hunger is a really great way to enjoy your next meal.  Think about it…if you go through your day eating 5-6 mini meals and never feeling hunger….how do those meals taste?  Awesome?  Do you even notice?  I like to feel hunger for about 30-60 minutes before eating (and to be honest, I coach many of my clients this way too).  Feeling hunger, not RAVENOUS hunger, but just that hunger feeling is a sign that your body is needing to take in some energy.  It’s okay to feel that for a bit before eating.  The thing I notice the most when practicing this habit is that my meals TASTE AMAZING when I come in a little hungry.  Like, they are SO GOOD.  And then I convince myself that I am a master chef because they are so amazing.  This feeds directly into Tip #1, because I’m ready to enjoy a nice, substantial meal, and my brain is ready to enjoy it too.  If you try this one out, expect to have to trial and error your way through for awhile.  If you’ve been ignoring hunger signals for awhile and trying to distract yourself by chewing gum instead, or been on a diet for most of your life, hunger might be disguised for you.  Be patient with this one.  Hunger comes back around eventually.  Better yet, come pick up a weight and squat and lift with me… will find hunger QUICK that way. Ha!

Tip #3 – Eat protein and produce often.

Try to include a lean protein such as chicken, eggs, lean beef, pork, Greek yogurt, fish, or beans at most (hopefully all) meals.  Not a few lame strips of chicken found in those supermarket pre-packaged salads.  Like, it’s CHICKEN for the love of all that’s holy, eat it, and don’t skimp!  Protein is your big time building block for staying satisfied AND helps you keep that lean body because it feeds your musclez, yo!  And while you’re at it, include produce at your meals.  I’d love to say eat veggies at every meal here, but most people freak out and take that as an ultimatum.  So shoot for veggies at MOST meals, and the ones you miss, either double up next time, or at the very least include some fresh fruit at your meal.  We want that produce for all those little cool vitamins and minerals that not only help us FEEL better, they help us digest better, too.  Eat produce!  I don’t think anyone can come up with a reason why they shouldn’t.  Disclaimer:  don’t eat things that you are allergic to or make you feel yucky, because there is always another choice that will agree with you that you CAN eat.  

Tip #4 – Ditch the “good” and “bad” foods list.

Ditch the judgement about food choices.  Because life is too short to judge yourself based on the fact that you ate 7 (or 77) Cheetos last week.  Let’s put it into context.  Did you eat Cheetos?  Yes.  Did you rob a bank?  No.  You aren’t a bad person because you ate Cheetos.  You aren’t a good person if you kept to your perfectly planned meal plan.  There just isn’t room in life (or maybe in my life) for stressing over “good” and “bad” foods.  Because I find that stressing over “good” and “bad” foods makes me more apt to make food choices that I don’t feel good about making.  When I settle down and let go of “good” and “bad,” I have room to trust myself to build my plates based on food that makes me feel good and also a treat here and there.  And then that’s it. There’s not the icky stress or guilt factor after.  Again, this one takes some time and compassion.  Be patient with yourself on this one.

So there you have it, four tips that will get you some mileage on changing the way you view food.  Please, please, pretty please….if you try any or all of these, let me know!  I love to hear how people incorporate things!  And a tip, don’t try ALL OF THEM at one time.  Try just one of them, for like two weeks, and see how it goes.  Then you are free to try another.  Capisce?

I want to chat with you about something.  I spend a lot of time geeking out over nutrition.  Like LOTS.  It’s interesting to me.  Which is why I’m a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Nutrition Coach.  I value what eating well does for our bodies.  But mostly, I value the fact that having a good relationship, based on trust and NOT fear, with food is crucial to one’s wellness.  

What I find most with my nutrition clients is actually that most people know WHAT to do.  They just really struggle with implementing  a few changes, or helping them overcome barriers that currently prevent them from doing those things.  That’s it!  They KNOW what to do, they just struggle sometimes with DOING what they know.  If this is YOU, my lovely little gym has a Nutrition Power Tools course kicking off September 25th.  This is a 12 week group coaching program that helps you navigate your way through some of the very tips we just talked about and THEN some.  I’m limiting the attendance to 30 lovely people, because I want to be sure that you get the attention you need and deserve during this course.  It’s super cool too, because the course runs via iOS app (iPhone, iPAD, iPod), and is built around the concept of teamwork.  If this is something that sounds interesting to you, hit reply and let me know!  If you KNOW this is something you want to do, register HERE.  Please don’t sign up if you are looking for a meal plan, a cleanse, a diet, or to be told what to do, because those things are 100% not in this course.  What IS in the course, is “trying on” nutrition habits for size, learning how to customize them, learning how to trust yourself, and learning how to have a healthy relationship to food.  
Got questions?  Drop me a comment and ask ’em….I always get back to people!

Originally this was my journey to Tough Mudder…now it's my record of all things fitness and health!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: