Author Archives: once8508

How the NYC Sanitation Department can help you with your New Year’s resolutions

It was so exciting to spend New Year’s Eve in NYC this year!  While I did NOT stand with roughly 1 million people in Times Square in the 25 degree weather to watch the ball drop, I did get to see the whole area in its before and after states.

The before state wasn’t all that bad.  There were tons of barricades everywhere and NYPD’s finest were out en masse at every corner.  The streets were in their typical “clean” state, so there was some trash but not all that much.

 Times Square before
This is what Times Square normally looks like. On NYE,
they also had barricades and a stage (photo courtesy of

However as I walked home at about 2am on January 1st, the picture was pretty different.  The barricades were being picked up, and there were still plenty of cops out.  The trash situation though was VERY different.  There was confetti EVERYWHERE and garbage all over the place.

The garbage was piling up in the stairs for the subway’s entrance, all over the sidewalks and blowing down the street.  It was food bags and cups, beer cans and bottles, and plastic bags and food containers from any restaurant you can think of.

 Times Square after
This is just some of the leftover mess after the NYE party
in Times Square (photo courtesy of

It was pretty astonishing the amount of trash that people left on the street.

Even more astonishing though was what I saw when I went to the corner market about 6 hours later….

The city looked normal again!!  The barricades were gone, the number of cops out was back to normal, and all the trash was gone!

I learned later on the news that crews had spent the early hours of 2014 cleaning up 50 MILLION POUNDS of TRASH!  That’s a whole lotta garbage picked up super super fast.

Seeing all the garbage and how quickly it was cleaned up got me thinking about how we tend to perceive the holidays and New Year’s resolutions, in general.

We guilt about how we indulged in treats and drinks and skipping workouts during the holidays.

Because of this guilt, we feel bad and want to get “back on track” as quickly as possible and clean up the trash in our lives.

So what do we do?  We overhaul everything in our life at all once via New Year’s resolutions - what we eat, how we’re working out, how we budget/spend our money, etc etc etc – we change it all.

I call this the “pre-season perspective”. 

In order to completely overhaul so many aspects of your life, you’d have to have a pre-season perspective where you do nothing but think about the things you’re trying to change.

The problem is that we’re not on a team anymore where we have the luxury of quitting everything else in our life while we get our eating on track or while we re-ignite our gym routine.

We can’t put all our energy to these new habits anymore cause we also have families, jobs, friends, and a myriad of other demands on our willpower.

I’m not suggesting that you don’t have more than 1 goal for the year.

I am suggesting that you take a strategic approach to accomplishing those goals for the year.

If you’ve signed up for my email newsletter (did you know you get a free gift when you sign up that includes a workout, a meal plan, and stress reducing tips??), you know that I’m all about focusing on making one change in your life at a time.

Why is this?  The research shows that when you focus on making a single change in your life (i.e. incorportating 1 new habit), the chance that you’ll successfully implement the change is around 80%!   Those are some damn good odds!!

Interesting thing is, when you try to incorporate two changes at once that are both new to you (like 2 New Year’s resolutions), the chances that you’ll actually create a habit for either one drops to 30%.

If that doesn’t blow your mind, just stop reading.  [No no, don't do that.  The point is, that should reeeeeally make you think about how you go about making big changes in your life.]

Here are some examples of how to successfully implement common New Year’s resolutions.

Resolution:  I want to eat better.

Steps to success

-Start with observing/recording everything you eat and drink for one week.  Don’t make any changes, just observe.

-Pick 1 meal to change.  Maybe swap your sandwich at lunch for a salad, fast for 12 hours overnight (don’t eat from 8pm-8am), instead of cereal make a protein shake for breakfast, eat mainly lean protein and veggies at dinner, etc.

-Do that single action/swap till you’re doing it without really thinking about it, until it’s effortless.  This could take a few weeks, so be patient with yourself.

-Add the next change (different meal, more water, extra veggies at a meal, snacking on veggies and nuts instead of chips or crackers, etc.).  Keep making changes in this way until you’re eating the way you want to be eating and that works for YOU.


Resolution:  I’m gonna workout more.

Steps to success

-Start with observing – how often are you working out now each week?

-Schedule an additional 1-2 days working out at most, and pick an activity you like to do.  If you don’t know what you like to do, you could sign up for classes to try something out for a few weeks.  You could also try the workouts in my GET SMART workout program.  It’s 4 weeks worth of workouts that need minimal equipment (read: no gym membership).  Check it out here!

-Workout these extra days for a few weeks until it’s easy and it doesn’t feel like a chore anymore.

-At this point, add another day or a different type of workout until that becomes effortless, too.  Continue making changes this way until you’ve got the workout schedule you like and will do!


So before you decide to adopt the pre-season perspective and go all-out to clean up the figurative 50 million pounds of trash overnight, step back and take a moment to pick the most important thing to you.   Work on that change first.

Leave a comment below with what you decide to focus on changing first!

<3 Lauren


The “Confetti” Effect – What It Is, Why You Should Care & What To Do About It

Ah confetti.  It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

It’s colorful, sparkly, and typically a lot of fun to launch up into the air.

Seriously – who doesn’t love those confetti poppers?!?

It’s especially fun as gravity overcomes the high-flying brillance and it starts to make its way back to the ground and every. other. flat. surface.

Once it’s hit the ground though I no longer consider it to be beautiful, fun or brilliant.  This is the moment that I wish some magic confetti clean-up fairy had flown through the air and collected it all before it landed.  Then I could avoid the clean-up stage because I despise cleaning.

Why am I talking about confetti?

What happens when confetti is launched then  falls to the floor is the same thing that happens when fat is released from storage by a workout but never used by the body.

  • The confetti popper is the workout.
  • The confetti is body fat.
  • The same way confetti floats through the air is similar to how fat floats through your bloodstream after a workout.
  • The magical confetti fairy that I wish existed?   It’s the missing piece of your workout – low intensity exercise that burns the fat.

See it’s not enough to only release fat from storage and into the bloodstream.  It’s an important step, but not the only part.

Once it’s in the bloodstream, the fat needs to be metabolized and used as energy.  Otherwise it will go back into storage in the fat cells... just like confetti falls back to the ground.  Hence, the confetti effect.


How can you avoid the confetti effect?

You gotta get yourself a magic confetti clean-up fairy.

What is a magic confetti clean-up fairy, you ask?  It’s any sort of very low intensity exercise that you do AFTER your 20 minutes of intense exercise.  Things like…

  • walking
  • housework
  • tai chi
  • restorative yoga
  • shopping
  • very slow biking/ellipticizing

This type of exercise for 30-60 minutes AFTER an intense, short workout will effectively burn that fat you just released from storage.

Aren’t you glad I’ve given you this analogy??  Now whenever you see confetti you’ll be like, “I know how to avoid the confetti effect!!  I’m super prepared for my New Year’s resolution of getting in better shape!  I know that if I  keep moving for 30-60 minutes after my workout, I’ll burn that fat I released during my workout instead of it going right back into storage.   I rock because of Lauren!”

Well, you may not think exactly that, but the analogy will linger…  :D

<3 Lauren

Who Else Wants Egg on their Plate?

I love breakfast (could you tell from this post?).

In fact I’ve never met a breakfast recipe that I won’t make at least once – even a kimchi omelet was surprisingly killer!

My appetite is also huge – a wimpy serving of cereal or coffee and a grapefruit just won’t cut it.  This girl needs PROTEIN and lots of it in the morning (veggies and some carbs like oatmeal/potatoes/fruit works for me too).  Otherwise I turn into a giant Cranky-Pants McGee by about 10:30am.

Ahhh!  That reminds me!   Remember the “My New Haircut” guy?!?!?!  My need for protein was once compared his, lol!  If you haven’t seen it, the video is below.  He gets to protein around the 1:40 mark…

(NOTE: if language offends you, don’t even click it and if you’re at work – HEADPHONES)


Anyway, this weekend I was playing with various frittata recipes, subtracting some ingredients, adding my own and playing with the ratio of filling to eggs and I ended up with this beauty.

It only seemed right to share the recipe and a few tempting photos.

So here you go.  You can thank me later between forkfuls of eggy deliciousness.

[Oh and unfortunately I don't remember who's recipe I saw that put thyme in their frittata but THANK YOU for doing it.  I think it's the key to an effing perfect frittata.]

photo (6)The frittata says, “You know you want me.  Tonight.  For dinner.”


Potato, Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Frittata

2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 new potatoes, diced (can also use red potatoes)
1 can TJ’s fire roasted red peppers, diced (or just 2 roasted red peppers but I like the TJ’s flavor)
2 tsp fresh thyme
3 oz crumbled feta
8 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat oil over med to med high heat in oven-safe skillet (mine is a 10″ skillet). Saute onions until translucent.  Add potatoes to the skillet, season with S&P to taste, and saute until they’re cooked through and beginning to brown.

Toss the peppers and thyme into the mix, and saute 1-2 min.

photo (2)All the veggies happily cooking away.

Add eggs and stir mixture until eggs are evenly distributed throughout pan (you don’t want them chilling on top of the veggies.

Sprinkle feta over the top of the mix. Cook for about 5 min or less WITHOUT STIRRING until eggs are set on the bottom.

photo (3)Eggs just added and topped with feta.  Give
em a few minutes here to set on the bottom.

Put the pan in the oven carefully and let them finish (5-10 min) until eggs are cooked/set all the way through and it’s beginning to pull away from sides of pan.  Let it cool for several minutes, then dive in.

photo (4)
Waiting is the hardest part.

photo (5)Even though I was cooking for the week,
I had to enjoy a test slice :)

Enjoy it!  It’s the perfect weeknight meal, but it also would be great for a weekend breakfast/brunch or something to take with you to work for lunch with a green salad.

Leave a Y in the comments if you plan to make this sometime before 2013 ends (you really should… you’re doing yourself a disservice otherwise… just sayin… :) )

<3 Lauren

Six Ways to Spice Up your Workouts

I’ll be honest with you, my workouts are not the highlight of my day.  I do them ONLY to conserve muscle and maintain my health.  On the other hand, some people can’t wait to workout, and if you’re one of them that’s great!

Once I get going I usually enjoy the workout (especially the wave of endorphins that inevitably follows), but it’s that initial push to get to the gym or start the workout at home that I struggle with most.

Seeing as how this isn’t a new challenge for me, I’ve developed a few strategies over the years that encourage me to get going and make my workouts something I can kinda look forward to!

So if you’re not too fond of exercise or if you just aren’t particularly motivated to workout right now, you might want to spice up your workouts with one or two of the following tips.

1.  Change up your playlist.

Music is a HUGE factor in my workout, so I like to change up my playlist frequently.  If you don’t want to purchase more music, you can always try a new Pandora station or download Spotify.

2.  Try a new location.

I know that routines can be very helpful and productive, but sometimes I just get sick of the SAME. THING. EVERY. DAY.  When I start feeling like this, exercising in a different location can really help increase my motivation.  If you normally workout at home, try an outdoor session or head to a gym.  If you’re normally at a gym, getting sweaty at home can lower the effort it takes to start your workout (no more of the “I have to drive all the way to the gym and then drive all the way home after” excuse).

3.  New workout gear.

When I’m  in a rut, sometimes new workout capris or a colorful sports bra is just what the doctor ordered to boost my motivation.  It may be short-lived, but it definitely helps add a little pizzazz to my workout.  My favorite option for a workout pick-me-up is C9 by Champion at Target, but when I want to splurge, I’ll head to Athleta or Lululemon.

Fun workout capris
This is the pattern on my newest capris from Athleta.
I absolutely LOVE them!  Get em here.


4.  Different types of exercise.

I’ve found that changing up what I do at the gym helps me look forward to my sweat sessions a bit more.  If I’ve been doing a lot of interval sessions, I add in more weights.  If I’ve done mainly weights, I add in some intervals or bodyweight exercises.  If you’re looking for some ideas, check out my workout program.  It gives you 4 weeks worth of workouts that don’t require any equipment – just some space and your body.  How’s that for different?

5.  Trick yourself into getting started.

Yeah I know it sounds a little ridiculous, but it works!  There are some days that I am fighting myself tooth and nail. (imagine a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum – “but I don’t WANT to workouuuuuutttt!”)   On those days I say “Hight, all you gotta do is get yo’ ass moving for 5 minutes!  That’s all!  Then you can quit and flop on the couch…”  And you know it’s the strangest thing – by the time I’m through those first 5 minutes, I usually am feeling great and want to finish the workout.

6.  Get a gym buddy.

Knowing that someone is going to be counting on you to show up at the gym is SO helpful in the motivation department.  Plus it makes your workouts way more entertaining!  I remember back in grad school I worked out with my friend Abby on several occasions, and we have a lot of fond memories from those early morning lifting sessions.  :)  Find someone that has similar goals as you do, then hold each other accountable to show up at the gym each time.


I know with the New Year right around the corner and the holidays upon us, it’s tempting to say “I’ll go to the gym consistently once January 1st rolls around.”    But here’s an idea — I’m suggesting that you NOT wait until the ball drops to start a routine.   If your motivation is low right now, then you can use these strategies to make working out a more attractive option and stave off the holiday poundage.

Oh obviously, these are only a few ways people can get motivated to go to the gym.  How do you motivate yourself to workout when you’re feeling not so jazzed about it?  Leave your ideas in the comments please!

<3 Lauren


There are Two Kinds of People in the World – Which are You?

My PhD advisor was fan of corny jokes and witty statements.  Oh and whistling, too.

But sadly, his whistling wasn’t as awesome as he thought and neither were his jokes.  (don’t worry he knew they were bad)

The joke I’m about to share with you is one of his favorites.  He used to say it all the time in lectures and our group meetings.

“You know, there are two types of people in the world:  Those that put everyone into two groups and those that do not.”

…[dramatic pause for effect]…

See?  Just the kind of joke a nerd would tell and that other nerds would laugh and roll their eyes at.  Clever but not all that hilarious :)

The point of telling you this painful “joke” is because I, like my advisor, believe that…there are two kinds of people in the world:

those that  love breakfast and those that do not.

I take after my mom in that I am a breakfast lover.  Majorly!!   It’s by far my favorite meal of the day, and I could seriously eat breakfast for all meals of the day.  It’s that exciting to me!

Plus, breakfast is a critical piece of your day when you’ve got “get in shape” goals like I do.

What you eat in the morning

  • dictates how hungry you feel later in the day
  • if you end up craving all sorts of junk later
  • breaks your overnight fast and can lower cortisol (depending on what you eat)


To this end, I’ve found the best combination of foodage on your plate in the morning is protein, fibrous veggies, and a few starchy carbs.

Even is you’re not a breakfast lover, it’s still important to get a food combo like this in the morning!


Which kind are you?

My guess is that I’m not the only one out there that loves a heaping plate of deliciousness in the morning, so I wanted to share a couple recipes that I thought you might like.  They keep me on track for my fitness goals…  they’re delicious… and most importantly they keep me full!!

So decide which kind of person you are then make the appropriate recipe below.  Or make them both cause they’re that damn delicious.  And because they’re both perfect for your on-the-go lifestyle.


For breakfast lovers…


Veggie Heaven Breakfast Quiche

  • 1 cup riced cauliflower
  • Several sprinkles of parm cheese
  • 2 12oz cartons egg whites (you won’t need it all)
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 oz button mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • S&P to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.  In a bowl, mix riced cauliflower with a couple of splashes of egg whites (enough to get the cauliflower a little sticky), a sprinkle of parm cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.  Divide the riced cauliflower mixture evenly between wells in a large, greased muffin tin (6 muffins per tin).  Bake at 400F for 10-15 min or until cauliflower “crust” is lightly browned.  Allow to cool slightly.

Lower oven temp to 350F.  Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute mushrooms, yellow onions and green peppers until onions and peppers soften and mushrooms are brown.  Season with 1 tsp chili powder, S&P to taste, and then add garlic and green onions.   Cook until garlic is fragrant, and remove from stove top.

Divide vegetable mixture evenly between muffin cups.  Fill muffin cups with egg whites to the top of each cup.  Bake your personal quiches at 350F for 15-20 min or until eggs are set.  Allow quiches to set for 15 min before removing from tin.  Run a butter knife around the edges of each quiche to loosen before removing it from the tin.  Serve immediately with a side of oat bran or quinoa made with almond milk, or wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Serves 6.  Or if you have a big appetite like I do, serves 3 :)

Note: you can make this in a regular muffin tin too, just keep a closer eye on the eggs as they bake.  They probably won’t need to go as long.


For everyone else (psh – for anyone really cause it’s friggin delicious)…

 Two Kinds of People - Shake

Apple Pie Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 scoops of Vega One All-in-One Shake, Vanilla Chai flavor
  • 8 oz almond milk
  • 1 Tbs acacia powder or other fiber supplement  (there are no veggies in this shake and fiber keeps me fuller longer – CAUTION: to avoid GI distress work up to 1 Tbs if you don’t typically take a fiber supp)
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 2 Tbs almond butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • ~1/2 cup ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth!  If you like a thicker smoothie, add more ice.


Now you have a job to do.  Let me know 2 things in the comments:

1.  What kind of person are you?

2.  Which recipe are you gonna make this week?

<3 Lauren


4 Reasons to Quit your Cardio Routine

I have a bone to pick with the world today, and it relates to running.

As athletes and even as a society, we rely way too damn much on “cardio” to get us fit.

Seriously, when did we decide that “cardio” was the best way to get back in shape?  Sure, long duration cardio is good for your heart health, but the negative effects completely outweigh the positives when you’re looking to FIRM and TONE your body (read “lose the fluff off your midsection or tighten up those thighs”).

4 Reasons to Quit Doing so Much Cardio

4.  It requires tons of foot-strikes per workout.  Running a mile can mean your feet hit the ground 1300-1500 times in that 10 minutes.  This pounding really adds up!  Ouch!  Your poor joints!!!

3.  The “after burn” effect of steady-pace cardio is pretty crappy.  It’s especially awful compared to lifting where the “after burn” lasts up to 24-36 hours after the workout is over or even sprints.

2.  Over time too much cardio puts undue stress on the body.  Any workout stresses the body, but this moderate intensity/long duration BS that everyone is doing creates a high stress environment in the body.  This can KEEP you from losing weight or even make you gain weight!

HINT: If you look a little puffy or water-logged all the time and you’re doing a lot of cardio? You might be in this stressed state.

And the #1 reason to quit cardio???

1.  You have to do more and more to continue to see results!   Your body isn’t stupid.  It adapts quickly to new challenges.  Every time it adapts, you have to lengthen your workouts to see results.  Who the hell has time for that??

I go into more detail in my DIY workout program, but if you want to get back in shape – if you want a tighter bod – then you have to stop doing so much damn cardio!!

For all you doubters….

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Sorry Lauren, but there’s no way I’m giving up cardio.”

To you I say this – I know it’s scary to think about NOT running or biking or ellipticizing every day…

But I’m not telling you to quit working out; I’m telling you to ease up on cardio so that you have time and energy for more efficient workouts.

All this cardio is NOT helping you reach your goal of a hotter bod, so to get different results you gotta DO something different.

Baby steps towards this “less cardio” goal will work, too.  You can get in an effective cardio session in by trying a workout like this on the cardio machine of your choice…

(best in “Manual” mode)

-Warm up for 5 min
Part A
-Go as fast as you can for 20 sec (increase resistance as needed)
-Go extremely slow (aka recover) with low resistance for 40 seconds
–Repeat 4 more times
Part B
-Go as fast as you can for 30 sec (increase resistance as needed)
-Recover for 30 seconds
–Repeat 4 more times
Complete Part A and B once more each
-Cool down for 5 min

Total workout time: 30 min

Here’s the beauty of sprints, aka high intensity interval training (HIIT) – the total time you’re “working” in this session is barely over 8:00, but you gotta realize that in those minutes, you’re working WAY harder than you ever did during a regular bout on the elliptical.

Why?  Because when you’re pedaling for 30 min at a steady pace, you can’t keep up a super high intensity… not like when you’re sprinting.

This makes the training extremely efficient, and it’s also extremely effective.  Not to mention that as your body adapts, all you have to do is increase the resistance on the machine or sprint faster.  You don’t have to keep increasing your workout time… just the intensity!!  Isn’t that awesome?!?

Now that you have all this information on why boring cardio is killing your “get in shape” efforts, I’m going to challenge you to a duel!

Juuuuust kidding.  It’s not a duel!   That would be kinda fun though… except that I’m not really into violence… so scratch that…  Though I’m sure we could put our heads together and come up with a non-violent duel.  Hmmmmm


Your challenge for the week

Substitute the sprints above for at least half of your cardio sessions this week, and let me know how it goes.  

I will say you’re gonna have a tough time watching TV or reading a book if that’s what you usually do during cardio.  So put that thought out of your mind right now.  It’s gonna be 30 min of actual WORK.

Can’t wait to hear what you think of sprints!  Love em or hate em, I want to hear from you.  Ok??  Good!

Until next week!!

<3 Lauren

P.S. – In my Survive the Holidays workout program, our training sessions will get your heart pumping like cardio but take half the time that you normally spend working out – and I can guarantee you’ll be just as exhausted by the end.

If you haven’t signed up for this FREE program yet, click this link to do it.  Clock’s a tickin’ so don’t delay!

The Stupidest Trend in a LONG Time

Alright all, I know that I promised you a blog this week on reducing the amount of time you workout.

You WILL get that post on our regularly scheduled post day – Tuesday.  Tantalizing Tuesday.  Yep, I just renamed the 3rd day of the week cause that’s how I roll.

There is a good reason for this change, and I think it’s ok to change my mind every once in a while…

So I am. :D


I felt it necessary that we briefly discuss a hot topic, especially in light of last week’s post – Two Big Thighs and a Drunk that seemed to really hit home with a lot of you.

I want you to READ MY POST, then I’m gonna send you to another blog – the author is amazing!  I want you to READ HER POST on it because it’s she explains it really well.

Anyway, this hot topic is the THIGH GAP.

The thigh gap is the space between your legs/thighs when you’re standing with your feet together.  The look that some women are now aspiring to is completely empty space between your legs – from your ankles all the way up to your lady parts.

Um WHAT?!?!?

For athletes that have QUADS or CALVES, there’s a damn good chance that our legs will touch each other somewhere, so the thigh gap is unachievable for most athletes.

In fact, this is a ridiculous goal for most women!!

It requires a particular body structure to make it even somewhat feasible.  We’re not even talking about the amount of muscle/fat on a woman’s body either – just her bone/tendon structure!

So unless you can alter your genetic code and magically get your bone structure to change (which I would imagine is quite painful), you’re shit outta luck on this one.  Basically….


You can change your body composition, but you can’t change your body structure.

Getting in shape changes our body composition, but our body structure is what it is.  Just make sure that whatever sort of health/fitness goal you set for yourself makes sense or is actually possible.

Now I want you to do these things….

1.  Like this blog by clicking the “Like” button below.

2.  Go to Jen Sinkler’s post about the thigh gap, read it, then send her your pic of #closethethighgap

Stupidest Trend Ever

<3 Lauren


Two Big Thighs and a Drunk

I figured it was only a matter of time until I had a run-in with a drunk, homeless guy in the city.  This weekend, it finally happened.

It’s gotten chilly in NYC, so I busted out a favorite long, cream sweater and my Nike workout pants to run errands this past Sunday.  These particular pants are flared, so they majorly cling to my thighs and show off my quads.  I didn’t think twice about how my legs looked in them – at least, initially.

Because I’m a beast and carry home 30 pounds of groceries over 20 blocks, I tend to focus on NOT running into the people around me.  I’m watching out for tourists who stop in the middle of the sidewalk to gawk at the tall buildings, small children that tend to dart everywhere, and drunks that stagger all over the place.

Ahhh city living sounds so attractive, right??

Anyway, I’m walking the last bit of avenue on the way to my apartment and spot one of the aforementioned drunks ahead.  He’s bobbing and weaving so I veer way to the right and avoid eye contact, the former in order to avoid a collision and the latter to discourage any sort of conversation/comments.

Fortunately, I’m successful on the “no collision” front, but unfortunately the drunk decides to scream at me as I walk by.  He lunged toward me yelling “TWO BIG THIGHS!!!

Two Big Thighs and a DrunkI’ve always had big thighs, probably
bc I played so much soccer :)

Since this isn’t the first time I’ve been yelled at by a drunk, I didn’t jump sky high like I might have before, but I did about shit my pants.  I kept moving to get by him, but it left me a little shaken up.

Sure it startled me, but that wasn’t all that was bugging me.  I was really pissed at the guy!  ”Yeah, I know I have big thighs, asshole!  Who does he think he is??  At least I don’t wander the streets hammered 24/7 like he does. What a dick…”  is all I could think to myself as I finished the trip home.

While I dragged my jars of almond butter, pumpkin puree, roasted red peppers, almond milk and coconut cream up the stairs to my apartment (why the hell do I buy so many canned goods so far from home??), I started to settle down a little and actually use my brain instead of emoting like a lunatic.  Here’s what the internal dialogue sounded like…

Logical Me:  ”Ok Hight, you need to chill the eff out.  It’s just a drunk guy spouting off.  Why does what he said bug you so much?”

Crazy Me:  ”Because that was a really shitty thing to say!  What if someone came up to him and yelled ‘worthless drunk!’ in his face?  He’d be hurt, too.”

Logical Me:  ”Ok so it wasn’t nice, but you’re letting this guy get to you.  Why?”

Crazy Me:  ”Probably because I still haven’t made 100% peace with the size of my ‘two big thighs’.  I wish they were smaller and tighter, so when he pointed out that they were big, it was a reminder of what I still don’t like or accept about myself.”

Logical Me:  ”That’s what I thought.  So what are you going to do about it now?  Staying upset about it is only gonna make you miserable the rest of the night and probably send you headfirst into a bag of potato chips by about 9pm.”

Crazy Me:  ”I guess I can look at it in a couple ways.  #1 is his comment has more to do with how he feels about himself than what he thinks about me.  He’s a homeless guy for cryin’ out loud!  He probably isn’t thrilled with his life, so his comment is probably coming from a place of him hating on himself.  Maybe saying that made him feel a teensy bit better.”

Logical Me:  ”Ok, so you can remember in the future to NOT TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY and give someone the BENEFIT of the DOUBT.  What else?”

Crazy Me:  ”I guess #2 would be to find ways to be grateful for my ‘two big thighs’ instead of loathing them.  Ok…  My big thighs have come with a big butt, and I like my big butt.   My thighs help me carry home loads of groceries and move heavy stuff around my apartment all by myself.  They also have a lot of muscle on them which means that my basal metabolic rate is high and leg day creates a huge calorie deficit and EPOC effect.  I can also lift a lot in the gym because of them, and that makes leg day so much fun!  Alright, so I CAN be thankful for my big thighs.”

Logical Me:  ”Yep.  EXPRESSING GRATITUDE is critical in accepting less favorite body parts – and isn’t that the reason you got all upset in the first place?”

Crazy Me:  ”I know, I know.  But it’s easier to hate on myself. It’s a habit.”

Logical Me:  ”True, but you’re more miserable when you hate.  And we’re trying to avoid being miserable these days.  Therefore, we’re trying new things like gratitude over hate.  So anything else?”

Crazy Me:  ”Next time I’ll throw a jar of almond butter – wait, nope that’s in short supply these days, I’ll throw a can of black beans at his head.  That’ll shut him up.”

Logical Me:  ”Yeah… great plan…”

So you see – once I finally settled down, I realized that the reason the guy said what he did had nothing to do with me or my big thighs.  More importantly though, I realized that I still hate on my thighs sometimes and therefore don’t like when someone points out that they’re big.

One way of growing to accept them is by adopting an attitude of gratitude.  In fact, gratitude can do all sorts of wonderful things.   I highly recommend it.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  - Melodie Beattie

Your turn – Tell me in the comments about a time when gratitude or not taking comments personally has changed your outlook on a situation.

<3 Lauren

17 Things You Need to Stop Doing Now

I’m sitting on my boyfriend’s couch a few weeks ago, and we’re all cozied up together.  There’s a fire in the fireplace, the flowers he surprised me with at the airport in a vase on the coffee table, and our bellies are full from a delicious meal we’d just cooked together.

To make our time together that night a little more special, we decide to turn on a movie.  But what to watch?

Something funny?  No.

A chick flick?  Haha in MY dreams.

Horror?  Yeah right! In HIS dreams!

No – we decided to go instead with White House Down.  You know, a real relaxing movie…

Anyway, so we’re about 20 minutes into the movie.  My face is glued to the screen; I’m hardly blinking my eyes and pretty sure holding my breath for 50% of the time.  Needless to say, I’m a little tense.

Then out of nowhere he slaps at my hand!

“What’d you do that for?!” I yell.

“You’re picking at your fingers again.  Stop it.”

Oh yeah, that.  So when I get tense or anxious, I tend to pick at my cuticles.  It’s a habit that leaves me with not-so-pretty nails, and the biggest issue is HALF THE TIME I DON’T REALIZE I’M DOING IT!!

As annoyed as I was that he smacked at my hand, I was thankful he did.  I’d rather know when I’m doing something that may not be the greatest thing for me.

Things to stop doing nowHe only tells me these things cause he loves me, as
evidenced by the card he sent me after I moved to NYC.

Hopefully you feel the same way cause today’s post is me virtually slapping your hand when you’re picking at your cuticles.  Today I’m sharing ## things you should stop doing now that are hindering you from getting back into shape.

There’s no shame or judgement here either.  I catch myself doing some of these all the time, but if you don’t know you’re doing it, you can’t stop doing it.  Awareness is the first step always!

Stop Doing These Things Now

1.  Assuming all calories are created equal.

Consider this – you can probably easily eat 2 Original Krispy Kreme doughnuts (~200 calories each) and end up hungry and with an energy crash an hour later.  But if you eat 2 skin-on chicken breasts (also ~200 calories each), you’ll be VERY full after eating them and probably won’t be hungry again for another 3-4 hours.

This is because these two foods cause very different things to happen in our body.  This is why it’s good to know what the macronutrient breakdown of your food is – carbs vs protein vs fat vs fiber.  High protein, high fiber/low sugar foods will help fill you up, keep you fuller longer, and limit the energy crash from high sugar/low fiber foods.

2.  Thinking you can out-exercise a bad diet.

Just because you burn 400 calories at the gym does NOT mean you just negated the effects of 400 calories worth of doughnuts.  Why?  Because calories aren’t created equal.  Focus your efforts FIRST on eating lean proteins, fibrous veggies and healthy fats.  Then your workouts will support your food choices instead of punishing your body for them.

3.  Drinking less than 2L of water a day.

Our body is made of mostly water, so it makes sense that we continue to give it what it likes.  Water is critical to healthy brain, digestive, and muscle function – and those are just a few of its benefits.  Buy yourself a Kleen Kanteen, fill it up and drink it 2x throughout the course of your day.

Hint – front load your day with your water intake so that you’re not waking up at night every few hours to pee.

4.  Only eating 1-2 servings of veggies a day.

Fibrous veggies are full of vitamins, minerals, and all sorts of phytonutrients that your body craves.  Even things like calcium are found in many leafy greens (i.e. kale)!  Check out this post to get some easy tips on upping your veggie intake.

5.  Taking care of everyone but yourself.

I know you’ve got all sorts of things to take care of – your family, friendships, SO’s, and your job.  But you’re not going to be able to take care of anyone if you wind up ridiculously frazzled or incapacitated from some illness.

Need ideas on caring for yourself?  Make time to plan and/or prepare your breakfasts and lunches for the week.  Set aside time for the gym a few days a week, and go for a 20 min walk everyday.  Walks are a great for your heart and for lowering stress.

6.  Eating meals that are carb centered.

Carb centric meals result in all sorts of issues.  Examples: cereal for breakfast, sandwich and chips for lunch and spaghetti for dinner.  A primary issue is they generate huge swings in your blood sugar.  This leads to an energy crash about an hour after you eat them – hence, carb coma or lunch coma.

Instead of carb centered meals choose to make a lean protein and veggies the star of your meal.

7.  Working harder to get better results.

We had it burned into our brains as athletes that to get better we had to work harder.  Problem is, this doesn’t translate to real life AND no one told us it wouldn’t!  So for example – your first instinct is to do more at the gym because you’re not losing weight the way you want.

I’m suggesting that instead, you do different types of workouts that are more efficient than what you’re doing now.  This training program is full of great options to help you do just that.

8.  Weighing yourself every day.

This is something you seriously need to stop!  I stopped doing this about a year ago and it’s been incredibly liberating.  See the scale only measures weight.  It doesn’t tell you if you’re just retaining water today or if you actually gained 8lbs overnight.

I’ve found that seeing the number dance around so much is just frustrating, so much so that I put my scale away.  It only comes out once a month when I take progress pics and do measurements.  See this post FMI on how I measure progress.

9.  Drinking diet sodas.

There’s a good chance that if you’re on Facebook you’ve seen all the memes floating around about how bad diet sodas are for you.  While I haven’t cut them out completely, I’ve drastically reduced my intake.  My biggest issue is with the fake sugars in there.  They train your body to do bad things, so I figure it’s better to limit them to about once a week or so.

10.  Eating whole grains as your source of fiber.

Overall, whole grains DO have more fiber than fruits or vegetables.  BUT (and this is probably the biggest “but” on the page) it’s the ratio of sugar to fiber in a food source that is important.  Remember, high sugar food =  blood sugar swings = hunger and energy drops.  So we want sources of fiber with as little sugar as possible.

Whole grains are approximately 2 to 1 Sugar to Fiber.
Fruits (like berries) are about 4 to 3 Sugar to Fiber.
Vegetables (like greens) average 2 to 5 Sugar to FIber.

11. Focusing on cardio only at the gym.

Moderate intensity, long duration cardio (40 min and up) is some of the least efficient exercise you can choose if you’re trying to lose weight.  Even worse? too much of it eats up your muscle.  Since muscle is critical to losing our pooch, we want to pick workouts that hold onto muscle.  Lifting heavy things helps you do that. :)

For those of you that can’t give up your cardio sessions, stick to high intensity interval training (HIIT).  Keep the workout to about 35 min or less, and cycle through periods of very low intensity and very high intensity.  I usually start by structuring it as a 3 parts rest and 1 part work.  So after a warm-up on the elliptical, I’ll crank up the resistance and go as hard and fast as I can for 30 sec.  Then I’ll ease up and back off the resistance for the next 1.5 minutes.  Then I’ll ramp it up again.  Get it?

12.  Eating non-stop (snacking) between dinner and bed.

Many people refer to this as “continuous meal.”  You know you’ve done it.  I’ve done it, too.  But you can stop it.  One option – make a drink from unsweetened cocoa, stevia, and hot water – the cocoa curbs cravings fast and gives you something to sip on.  Also, get your butt in bed!  You can always waste time online tomorrow or record that new episode of Say Yes to the Dress to watch later.  Staying up late means you’re gonna wanna eat, so just go to bed.

13.  Counting calories.

This drives me up the wall – and I’m even a numbers gal!!  Seriously, it’s not worth your effort.  Instead of tracking every single calorie, write down instead the kinds of foods you’re eating and approximate amounts.  Instead of choosing a low cal option (that make still be loaded with carbs and fake sugars), pick high protein, high fiber (so lots o veggies) foods.  Load up on those, then have a few bites of your favorite carb.

14.  Wasting time online and watching TV.

These are not stress lowering activities.  You’d think they might be since you’re not doing anything but research shows otherwise.  Shut off the screens and go get in a hot bath.  Or read a book.  Or TALK to the other people in the house.  Use your evenings for something other than electronics.

15.  Eating starchy carbs and fat together.

I weep as I write this because it’s my favorite combo ever.  This is the stuff I crave.  This is also the combo that’s like an atomic bomb to all your attempts at weight loss.  The stuff that happens in the body when you eat high carb/high fat foods together is no bueno.  In your meal choose one or the other, not both.

Culprits would be donuts, potato chips (damn it!!!), anything fried really, pizza, greasy hamburgers.

16.  Believing that lifting weights will make you bulk up like a man.

Enough already, ladies.  Sure your muscles will grow a little when you start lifting but that’s a good thing!  You need muscles to give you a round, firm bum and sexy shoulders.  Plus muscle is critical to your basal metabolic rate.  The more muscle you have the more calories your body burns at rest.

More info on why to save your muscle is here.

17.  Comparing yourself to fitness models in motivational memes.

This one has got me all riled up.  I used to do it non-stop, until I realized it was making me miserable.   Comparing myself to all those women in those “strong is the new skinny” pics only discouraged me.  They were motivational for about 2 nanoseconds, then I’d start feeling like the chunkiest athlete ever.

Stop the comparing – to photos, models, and other women in general.  YOU are beautiful.  YOU are strong.  YOU are sexy.  And numbers on the scale or on your clothes have nothing to do with it.


If I think of any others, I’ll be sure to let you know.  You’ve got fair warning though – if I see you doing any of these, you can expect a slap on the hand!

<3, Lauren

P.S.  I want to hear from you!  What not-so-good habits do you have that are keeping you from getting back in shape?




Recipe Time: Roasted Red Pepper and Chicken “Pasta”

I know many of you out there don’t just cook for yourself.  You’re cooking for significant others, family members, or roommates, too.

This can make it tough when you want to change up your diet on your quest to get back in shape.   Sometimes the others in the house are not willing to partake of all the food on your menu.  When this happens, what options do you have for dinnertime?

Well one option is to be sure you always have a lean protein and veggie somewhere in your meal.  Load up your plate with the veggies and the protein and pass on the starchy carbs like bread, potatoes, rice, or pasta.

Ahhh pasta.  How I miss it.  That and bread are the two starchy carbs that I really wish I ate more often.  Recently I’ve noticed my body isn’t a fan of flour based products (maybe a gluten issue), so I’ve been trying to avoid stuff that is made of flour.  Le sigh….

Anyway, every once in a while I get a massive craving for something that looks/feels like pasta.  While spaghetti squash is a great option for this, many days I don’t have time to cook the squash and whatever is going with it.  So for this meal, and many others in the past, I opted for these gems called shiritaki noodles.

Cut carbs with shiritaki noodles

These things are amazing.  Seriously.  If you’ve never heard of them you should visit the Miracle Noodle website (my fav brand) and read up on them.

Essentially, shiritaki noodles are made from a plant-based fiber, and they have no calories (no sugar, starch, gluten, protein, soy, etc.).  So they really are a guilt-free alternative to any sort of pasta, and they make the noodles into all different shapes and sizes.   ((my favorite are the angel hair and rice))

Oh, you can find shiritaki noodles online of course (cheaper option), but if you just want to try them real quick, you can find them at most health food stores.

Because they don’t really require any cooking (just VERY thorough rinsing then warming), you’re not dirtying any other pans to get them to your plate.  All you do is open the bag (don’t smell the water they’re packaged in please… it smells like funky fish, is just weird but normal and a good rinse takes all the funny smell away) and drain then rinse the noodles.  You can do this while the pasta for everyone else is boiling away and your sauce is simmering  :)

So on to the actual recipe.  It took me a little over 30 minutes to pull together the sauce and the chicken.  If you start the water boiling for the family’s pasta early, you won’t have an issue getting it ready to go in about 30.  Yay for easy and tasty meals!  And yay for a delicious, veggie based pasta sauce!  It’s one more way I like to sneak veggies into my meals.

Roasted Red Pepper and Chicken Pasta

Pasta of your choice, enough for everyone else you’re cooking for
1 bag shiritaki noodles (it’s 1 bag per person that’s gonna eat them)

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil)
1 chicken breast per person you’re feeding
s&p OR Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (<- delicious stuff!)

Sauce (makes 3-4 servings)
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans roasted red peppers, peeled and roughly chopped
~1/2 c no/lo sodium chicken stock
10 basil leaves, torn or 1/2-1 tsp dried basil
s&p to taste

Preheat oven to 350F and get a pot of water heating for your pasta.  Heat the 2 Tbs olive oil over medium high heat, and season chicken on both sides with s&p or TJ’s 21 SS.  Sear chicken breasts on both sides then place on baking sheet in oven for 15-20 min or until internal temperature reaches 160F (aka until it’s done :) ).  Remove chicken from oven and transfer to plate to let meat rest.

Drop your pasta in the boiling water sometime around now.

To prep the sauce – to the pan that the chicken was cooked in, add an additional 2-3 Tbs olive oil and onions and saute over medium heat until soften.  Add garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes.  To the pan, add the chopped red peppers and heat through.  Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender), and pulse the mix until you’ve got this beautiful red and still kinda lumpy looking sauce.  Put the sauce back in the skillet, add the chicken stock to loosen the sauce to the desired consistency.  Then toss in the basil and bring the mix to an easy simmer.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Slice chicken breasts and stir into sauce.

Drain the pasta.  Drain and thoroughly rinse the shiritaki noodles.  Put the pasta on the plates, top with the sauce/chicken combo.  Sit at table and savor the tasty stuff on your plate.  Smile.  Belch.  Oh, wait, don’t belch.  Or if you do, say excuse me at least.  We’re trying to be civilized here!  Anyway, I hope you like it :)

Roasted Red Pepper and Chicken Pasta

Quick hint:  boneless, skinless chicken breasts can easily dry out when you’re cooking them up. This method of searing first then finishing in the oven is one of the BEST ways I’ve found to keep the juices locked inside.  So cook em that way and the other peeps at dinner will marvel at how juicy the chicken is.  Trust me, they will…. :D

Hope you enjoy it!  Let me know in the comments how you get around the different tastes/food needs of the people in your house :)

<3, Lauren