All in fooooood

You Can Put It All Down.

The process by which each woman comes to a place of peace with food looks different for almost everyone, but it begins with knowing that we have so much more to do than worry about how many minutes of cardio we did, how many grams of fat, and how many rolls we let show this week.

Fitness and nutrition are important because they show us that we can do hard things: that we can work toward a goal, find a process that lights us up and makes us more alive, and discover layers of ourselves as yet unintroduced.

A lot of times, that looks like trying a few things out before we get there. The part we often forget to talk about, though, is that it often also looks like disconnecting, going inward, and trusting ourselves to figure the shit out. You don’t have to be (or have ever been) a bikini competitor or varsity letter athlete to get started; you can start right where you are. You’re the expert on you, and I’m here to guide you along the way.
 

Eliminating Food Groups is Lazy. Where Do We Go From Here?

Fall is a special season for me. The leaves are changing, the smells of bonfires and tailgates are in the air, people enjoy hanging out outside, all the pumpkin-flavored things make a special appearance, and it’s socially acceptable to get a flavored coffee at any time of day.

I can’t remember a fall without pumpkin chocolate chip bread (since I learned to cook, anyway). I’m not much of a baker (you have to measure for that), but that’s one thing for which I’ll ignore my preferences (and habits of kitchen experimentation), hunker down, and get out the measuring cups. The mixing, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, the anticipation of the warm and gooey chocolate chips with the unmistakable scent and flavor of fall: it’s all worth it for me.  Even the extra calories, which I don’t typically count (and definitely don’t when it comes to pumpkin chocolate chip bread.).

And that leads me to picking and choosing our nutrition battles: one of my favorite topics that always bears revisiting with the change of food seasons.

4 Clicks to Peace With Food

In short, many of us are running on fumes, and one of the very last things we feel like doing is overhauling our entire lives (unless it's to set them on fire and start over on an uncharted island all alone, with The Rock on scheduled visits. No? That's just my escape plan? Okay...), because pizza and Subway are about all we can muster right now. 

And I get that. Like...do I *EVER* get that.

But, here's the thing: we deserve to be taken care of too.

And you know this, because we all know you can't pour from an empty cup, and you're a better coworker/partner/friend when you take care of yourself. But also, you deserve to be taken care of too...because you're a living, breathing, feeling human being worthy of care, just as you are. Not in order to *do* something. Just because you exist and are worth it.

Want a Hot Dog on Labor Day? Choose It.

Get real: we don’t *have to* eat any particular way. We don’t have to stick to any one diet; we aren’t being force-fed vegetables; we are under no obligation to eat all the ice cream. All we have are choices to make.

There’s power in owning this choice. And it’s magical, because, all of a sudden, we can examine ourselves in our fullness (no pun intended). We get to ask, “am I choosing the hot dog just because that’s ‘what you do’ at a barbecue, or am I choosing the hot dog because it’s what I actually want?” Avoiding the spiral starts with choosing the indulgences we’re truly excited about and owning that decision.

Body Change: A Manifesto

For a moment, consider that what we’re really doing when we “go on a diet” is utilizing a tool to get to a goal. It’s a means to an end.

Allowing for that, our goal is the goal (as in, the diet is not the goal; the dress or 400lb deadlift or feeling at peace is the goal.). And the tools we have (current pattern of eating) are not the right ones for the job (we can’t hammer a nail with a phone charger), so we’re looking to find the right tool for the job. Nothing over which to get too distracted; we just need to find the one that’s good enough for us to use consistently to get the job done. With me?

Gathering all this data, a year or so ago, after reading one from Dr. Brooke Kalanick (good resource for female hormones, particularly PCOS and Hashimoto’s, but also general mindset reading, if you’re into that.), I created my own body change manifesto. Rather than a bunch of rules, I wanted a way of approaching food that made me feel empowered, rather than defeated; that gave me permission to explore, rather than ascribing to any particular 12-week plan; that looked at me as a whole person, rather than just the foods I eat. Going back to the concept of active acceptance, knowing that we can choose to accept our bodies while still wanting them to change, our thoughts surrounding food become different: they become a declaration of independence, guidelines to our goals with a healthy dose of freedom. If you’d like to know what that would look like, mine is as follows:

Bunless Burgers v Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter: A Lesson

Our mindset when it comes to nutrition is vital to our success.

If we think of eating well as a chore- as many of us do, because “diet” is the worst four-letter word I know- we’re unlikely to experience success. You know the drill (so do I): we think of “getting back on the wagon,” we cut out the foods we love and opt only for the boring stuff we sorta hate, we crave sugar so jazz up a rice cake with some peanut butter and pretend to be happy, we see success for 4-10 days, then we’re face-first in ice cream, because rice cakes and peanut butter after dry chicken and loads of steamed broccoli aren’t cutting it.

What if, instead of examining this as a chore, we explored ways to serve ourselves?

What if we looked at our nutrition from the perspective of athletes who want to nourish our bodies, our minds, and our performance?

How would our attitudes change?

Imagine: we’re out to eat, and, while we know that no situation will be perfect, we’re aware of what “ideal” looks like for us. We know we need to prioritize protein for muscles, a few starchy carbs for energy, and a lot of fibrous, watery veggies to feel full and get our vitamins. We don’t have to skip a meal with our friends, because we know that the FOMO will lead to a regret-fueled, “I deserve this, because I sacrificed my social time” potato chip binge, so we navigate the middle, go out, have a glass of wine, a salad, a bunless burger, and maybe a French fry or two. We come home and feel satisfied, neither bloated nor deprived, we take the dogs for a short walk, and go to bed to wake up feeling rested and refreshed.

Yes, You Can (and Should) Weight Train: To the Pregnant Mamas

Today, I wanna address a few concerns that have come in to me from a very specific population…pregnant ladies and new mamas. There’s a fair amount of info in here, from answering whether or not we should lift during pregnancy to addressing a few body changes to a couple of exercises to begin healing the abdominal wall and pelvic floor starting from a few days postpartum. Buckle up!
Most importantly, embracing the post-baby body is a major key. The experience of pregnancy allows us to be more in tune, more fully aware, and more selfless with our bodies than we have ever been before, most likely. The experience of motherhood allows for weakness and vulnerability, for sure, but also for immense amounts of strength we never thought possible. Check out a few stories here that will hit you right in the feels on this one. Because, this experience is #WonderWomanLoading if I’ve ever known it.

HOLY GRANOLA (vanilla cinnamon chocolate chip, to be exact)

I made granola the other day. Like, from scratch. Not out of a bag. And it had protein, because I've somehow become the Emeril of mixing protein powder into things (because I'm serious about my gainz, man). 

And I thought I'd pass it along for anyone who was:
a) craving granola (I'm not alone on that...right?),
b) wondering how to use a clean protein powder in something that was not a shake, 
c) looking for a "navigate the middle" solution to sustainable #snaxxx, and/or
d) just here for the food pics.

An Easy Recipe & Why Losing Weight Doesn't *Always* Mean Eating Less

The problem here is that we often are so used to eating the same thing or the same way day in and day out- especially while “on a diet”- that we haven’t paid attention to the cues our bodies are giving us in years. So, when we’re in a phase of life where we’re exercising less (either more skewed toward recharge activities or due to illness/lack of motivation/injury), instead of naturally eating less but still gravitating towards what serves us (veggies, proteins, fat as needed for delicious factor), we’re used to blindly following a plan, failing at it, and falling victim to the f it effect: “f it, I already had a burger instead of grilled chicken…I’ll get fries too. And a beer.” This leads to us feeling bloated and sluggish, with a heaping side order of shame that we failed yet another plan.

There’s a better way: eat more slowly, pay attention to our hunger levels, eat until satisfied, and see how our energy levels respond, which will tell us if we hit the Goldilocks spot (not too little, not too much, but just right).

This is a process- one that doesn’t get finished overnight!- of learning what our bodies are telling us and when. It won’t be perfect the first (or second…or tenth) try, but I can assure you that, if we stick to the process of seeing what happens when we eat well and adjusting if we experience negative effects (bloat, gassiness, energy crashes), there will come a time where food is just food, not the mental equivalent of the balance beam, and what works for our desired outcomes will be intuitive.

Carbs are not the Devil, and Other Things Lifters Should Know About Nutrition

: I’m not big on calorie counting, mostly because it leads to being obsessed, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid. I do, however, support calorie counting for a week or so if you’ve never done it, just to get an idea of what a certain amount of calories actually looks like. From there, we can gauge how full we feel on a certain (approximate) number of calories, manipulate/redistribute where those calories are coming from to support our fullness and energy, and not have to actually count much in the future. How can we know where to go if we don’t know where we are?

Anyway, back to the carb point: cutting calories at random, especially from one particular molecule (especially carbs, because our brains run on glucose, the building block of carbs), can actually lead to the exact thing we’re trying to avoid: fat storage and a slower metabolism. Carbs are necessary not just for our brains to work properly, but they also give us energy, so if you’re about to head into the gym to lift something heavy and you don’t want to pass out, maybe include something with carbs in it earlier in the day (or the night before, if you’re an early morning exerciser and completely worthless after 2p like me). 

In the context of lifting (and life, but more so if we’re lifting most days of the week), we also need a fair amount of protein and fat. Protein is the building block of muscle, and that’s the goal here, isn’t it? To lift stuff, increase the amount of stuff we can lift, and also look like we do that? Studies on how much protein, exactly, vary, but a safe place to start is 0.8-1.2g protein per 1kg of body weight. That usually keeps us in a range that will support our activity but not have us going hog-wild and way over our calorie targets.

Fat is also key…mostly for satiety (our perception of fullness between meals). And for the delicious factor. Limiting fat is a good idea – mostly because it has 9 calories per gram, where carbs and protein have 4 – but eliminating (or close to it) fat isn’t, because it does serve quite a few purposes in our bodies, as a source of energy, a support for certain essential vitamins to be absorbed (A, D, E, and K), and a structural component of our cell membranes. In an effort to not go waaaay over my ideal amount of food for the day, I’d rather put half an avocado on a salad than be hungry an hour after said salad and eat M&Ms. Priorities.

Anti-Resolution, Anti-F It Holiday Thoughts (AKA, Navigate the Middle)

ESPECIALLY throughout this season, where many people stress over food (from its preparation to accommodating diet preferences to feeling like we “shouldn’t” eat something), finding what works can seem overwhelming, but it’s simple: what keeps us full but not uncomfortably stuffed, what energizes us, what helps us meet our calorie needs, what keeps our cravings under control, what brings us joy…which, I’ve found, is almost never what someone else tells me should.

Also important to remember is that exercise is not punishment.

It’s tempting to want to “work off” an indulgent season, especially given all the #fitfam fotos of girls in their underwear doing “fasted cardio” at like, 3 in the morning (what are you training to be, Batman? Who works out at that time?). Not to shame them or anything, because if that’s what you want, then, by all means, go for it. This is the perfect opportunity, however, to recognize a few things flawed with fitness trends.

“Working off” an indulgent season is a rocky mindset and one that we will never catch up to, since it’s impossible to be perfect with nutrition and workouts all the time. In my experience, a better way to think about our fitness is by remembering that we (usually) don’t need to tell toddlers to run around and play; they just do it, because it’s fun to move around and wiggle and run with our friends. Finding a form of movement that brings us this joy and that allows us to get in touch with our bodies (and spirits!) will serve us far longer than whatever is trending.

A self-worth manifesto (in which food is JUST EFFING FOOD).

Most of us want to engage in our lives from a place of worthiness. When we realize that no matter what choices we make – pizza, salad, lifting, walking, having that tough conversation with our boss or partner, avoiding it for another day, etc. – no matter what gets done or what gets left undone, we are still enough, our perspective on our choices changes.

Getting to that point requires us to show up and let ourselves be seen. Which can be terrifying, especially if we are used to putting up a shield (which manifests in various forms, but, for me, perfectionism is my go-to…more on that soon :) ). Cultivating a sense of worth – remembering that it is our birthright – changes everything about our approach to food, exercise, work, and relationships: it has the power to set us free.


Taking the leap to become a stronger, more resilient version of you is worth the courage it takes to get there EVERY TIME.