Category Archives: Nutrition

Why Cafeteria Food was the Best

Has anyone else got a case of the Monday’s today?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m feeling like the biggest struggle-face in the world right now.  And it’s on days like today that I miss the good old college days of eating in the cafeteria <– never thought I’d say that.  Ha!

While cafeteria food was never all that delicious, it was hot and (usually) fresh, with the added bonus of requiring little to no brain power or physical energy to procure my evening meal.

The Beauty of the Caf

Even with my knees wrapped up in ice bags, after practice I could easily stumble the 100 yards from the training room, say hello to every Bruin’s favorite cashier on campus (Miss Tanya) as I swipe my meal card, grab a tray, and pray to God that they have chicken fingers tonight.

Ah yes….  That was the life….

Now though, life looks a little different.  Scratch that.  Life looks A LOT different.

A Wake Up Call

Once you leave college, that’s it.  No more cafeteria.  No more coddling.  You’re dropped into the real world where you have to do EVERYTHING for yourself now, and it can be a brutal fall from what you thought was reality.

One of those reality checks is doing all your own cooking, and if you’re like me, you’re the only one you’re cooking for – what I’m discovering to be both a blessing and a curse.

– A blessing because I don’t have to worry about other mouthes to feed.  Just mine.  And the cat’s.  But she doesn’t really count.

– A curse because when I’m tired and cranky and just want the day to END ALREADY (kinda like today), then fast food suddenly becomes the best idea ever!

But not really.  I know it isn’t a good idea, but my glucose deprived brain and general shitty mood try to convince the health-conscious part of me otherwise.

So how does a girl get herself home without stopping at the drive thru?  Well I have two methods that have worked pretty well for me recently.

Let Someone Else Do the Work 

One option – get your butt to the Whole Foods salad bar.  It’s like your college dorm’s cafeteria but way better (pretty sure WF people would be insulted if they read that but whatevs – you get the picture).

You have the option to create a delicious salad from the massive salad bar, or you can choose from their pre-prepared hot foods.  It’s a win no matter what you go with!

Make a “Semi-Homemade” Meal

My other option is to whip up something real quick at home with only a few ingredients.

[By the way, if you're cooking for a family, then this is probably the better option since the Whole Foods salad bar can get a bit pricey for more than 2 people.]

This chicken stuffed sweet potato is tweaked based on a few different recipes, so you may not find this exact version on the internet anywhere.  However, you’ll find similar stuff from Dr. Oz and PaleOMG.

It’s also perfect for a day where you’ve got a case of the Monday’s cause most of the main ingredients are ready to use (rotisserie chicken, pre-washed spinach, and you can even buy pre-chopped peppers!).

Simple.  Delicious.  Almost as easy as cafeteria food.  :)

<3 Lauren

Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, roughly the same size
  • 2 c shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 bags pre-washed spinach (can use 1 bunch instead)
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, to taste
  • 1 bell pepper, any color & cut into thin strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave following these awesome directions.  Allow to cool, and cut each potato in half.

While potatoes are cooking, heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the peppers and saute for a few minutes until they soften.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.

Season the shredded chicken with TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute and combine with the spinach and peppers mix.

Slightly mash the insides of each potato half and top with the chicken and veggie mixture.  Serve up immediately and enjoy!

Say NO to the Chocolate Bunny

Today, chocolate bunnies across the world will be deeply discounted and will be looking at you with pleading, brown eyes saying “Take me home with you!”

This year, just say NO to the bunnies.

The bunnies promise so much but all they ever deliver are cravings later in the day, maybe a stomachache, and most definitely a sugar crash 30 minutes later.

Reeses-Eggs Some people have issues with bunnies – my weakness is a Reese’s Egg.
I was just telling people at Easter dinner yesterday how I open an 8 pack 
of these eggs and the eggs all magically disappear…into my belly…

I really hate sugar crashes.  Carb comas, too.  They’re SUPER annoying, and people deal with them all the time (think about the dreaded 3pm slump).

You don’t even have to eat candy like those dang chocolate bunnies to experience a sugar crash, either.  Any starchy carbs that are low in protein and fiber but high in sugar can lead to the same type of crash.

Some “experts” out there might tell you that in order to avoid a crash like this, you have to give up things like sweets and starchy carbs all together.  They’re forever removed from your list of “foods I’m allowed to eat.”

However, I think there’s another way around it.

You see, carbs in general have gotten a bad reputation in our culture.  Certain “diets” out there made carbs out to be villains, but more recently, we’re hearing about concepts like “everything in moderation.”   But then it makes me wonder – what the heck is moderation??  Is moderation for me the same thing as it is for someone else?

There are SO many conflicting ideas out there about carbs, so there’s no wonder that most women are entirely lost when it comes to carbs.

I completely get it and I spent many years in the “clueless about carbs” zone.  This is why I developed a program that’s designed to help you figure out the right amount and types of carbs that you should eat each day.

The process in my new program “Carb Therapy” is one that I’ve used on myself and with clients to figure out how to make carbs work for them.  It’s not about being super restrictive (I don’t do super restrictive very well at all and I don’t think other people do either), but instead it’s about systematic trial and error to figure out what carbs work for YOU.

I am super excited abut this program because I think so soooo many people are confused about carbs (I know I certainly was), and this program is all about eliminating confusion around carbohydrates.

If you’re interested in learning more about Carb Rehab, click here to get all the deets or click “Carb Rehab” in the menu bar above!

My relationship obsession with Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs is not a healthy one, and my Carb Rehab showed me it’s better to abstain from Reese’s Eggs all together instead of eating one and opening the floodgates for a whole bag of them.

So if you know how to play nice with the carbs in your life – and you know you can stick to one, and only one, bunny – then have at it and enjoy!  (and maybe have some protein and green veggies at the same time to limit your sugar crash :) )

<3 Lauren


Easy Peasy Chicken Fajitas

Can I just say that it is SO nice having a “big” kitchen again??

I’m not sure if I ever really posted a picture of my kitchen in NYC, but the only counter space I had was consumed by the microwave.

When I needed to use a cutting board, I had to place it over the kitchen sink because there wasn’t room for it anywhere else!  Lol!

In my new place here in AZ though, there is counter space galore!

All that room has me reenergized to cook again and spend more time in general in the kitchen trying out recipes.

This is always good news for you guys, because I’m no recipe scrooge.  When I find something I like, I LOVE to share it.  Which is what I’m doing here today!

**Side note: as part of my new program Carb Rehab (goes on sale next week) you’ll get several yummy recipes!  So keep an eye out for it!

Anyway, these fajitas were something I whipped up real quick one evening, and they made for a fast, filling, guilt-free dinner.  I’ll take that any day of the week, wouldn’t you??

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

easy peasy fajitas
(most of) The fajitas ingredients… the pepper and garlic were
thrown in at the spur of the moment.  I live on the edge like that.

Easy Peasy Chicken Fajitas
makes 2 servings

2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced (here I used pre-cooked Trader Joe’s chicken breasts to save time)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, halved &sliced
1 green bell pepper, halved & sliced
10 oz white button mushrooms, cleaned & sliced (here I used the pre-washed and sliced kind from Trader’s Joes)
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes (less or more to taste)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 avocado, pitted & sliced
6-8 Romaine leaves, rinsed & patted dry
1/4 c black olives, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute until onions begin to soften, then add the pepper.  Continue to cook until mushrooms are browned, about 10-12 minutes total.

Throw in the cooked chicken and seasonings.  Stir to combine and leave pan on the burner that you just turned down to medium low until chicken is heated through.

Serve the fajitas with romaine leaves instead of tortillas as a low carb meal.  Top with avocado, salsa, and black olives.  Note:  If you opt for carbs/tortillas, omit the avocado and use corn tortillas (warm em up too!).

<3 Lauren

How to cut calories and calm your “hangry” self

Ah, January.  The month of fresh resolutions.  The month of extra-crowded gyms.  The month of lots of hangry people running around town.

What is hanger you ask?

It’s the agitation and anger that results from being ridiculously and/or perpetually hungry.  Hence, the term “hangry.”

The last time I got hangry

tried to travel in a fasted state back in November.  Instead of trying to make good choices at the airport restaurants, I thought I’d just forgo food for the 10 hours.

BIG mistake.

I was severely agitated by every little thing.  The gate agent wasn’t annunciating enough?  The child across the gate area from me that wouldn’t stop sneezing?  The dude next to me who was humming?  The fact that I couldn’t buy a bottle of water with a flip-top lid cause they were all screw-on caps?

All those things triggered a white hot fury in me.  Then I realized what was going on – Lauren was hangry.

Hanger of this magnitude is also a common side effect when one decides to diet by cutting calories and eating less.

You go from eating up a storm to enjoying a half cup of cereal at breakfast, a tiny salad at lunch, and some sort of pared down version of your normal dinner.  Possibly accompanied by nasty steamed veggies.

After a few days of eating like this, who wouldn’t be hangry?!?

Guess what?   It doesn’t have to be this way!

You can cut calories without getting hangry!

This is possible if you start thinking about dieting in a different way.

Instead of eating the same garbage as usual, just less of it, pick foods that you can eat more of – foods that are low calorie so that you can eat A LOT of them.

Hint:  these types of foods tend to be high in protein, fiber and water.

Lean meats (high in protein and water) and fibrous vegetables (high in fiber and water) are excellent choices for filling you up and do a better job of keeping you full between meals.

And let’s be honest, as former athletes we’re used to eating mass quantities of food.  Remember carbing up the night before a game?  Or loading up your dinner plate at the cafeteria after practice?

This is one reason I love to eat meals stuffed full of protein and veggies.

I get to eat till I am plenty full without worrying about how this will affect my calories for the day.    And I have a BIG APPETITE so it takes a lot of food to fill this girl up!

An example: How I keep “Hangry Lauren” at bay

I make a BAS (big ass salad, as Jill Coleman likes to call it).

This BAS is a head of romaine, half a
cucumber, 1 grated carrot, several mushrooms,
a little onion, an avocado, turkey, and a
sprinkle of bacon.  Look how manageable that is!

Get the biggest mixing bowl you have, roughly chop a bunch of veggies and lean protein, add in some sort of healthy fat, toss it all in the bowl.  Then using a pizza cutter, chop the shit outta everything in the bowl till it’s in tiny pieces (or whatever size you desire).

This is a stupidly easy way to eat more vegetables and protein (and not spend 2 hours chomping on a giant pile of leaves or develop TMJ from all said chewing).

The chopping reduces the volume of mass quantities of veggies to a more manageable portion (see, you’re now eating a TON of low calorie items

Plus, I think most salads taste better when they’re all chippity-chopped up like this.

If you’re not willing to put your mixing bowl and pizza cutter through this, then you need an OXO Salad Chopper.  It’s essentially the same thing, but the bowl is plastic, continuously round in the basin, and the “pizza cutter” is double-bladed.

Oh and if you’re not into making your own salads, go to Subway and get one of their salads.  Then ask THEM to chop it to kingdom come!

Now go forth and end your hanger today. 

Choose to eat foods full of protein, fiber and water.  Choose to chop your salads with a pizza cutter.  Or choose to pay Subway to do your dirty work.  Either way, eliminate the hanger in your life and still cut your calories.

Your family, friends and coworkers (and that poor person that looked at you the wrong way in Starbucks this morning) will thank you.


Oh and if you’ve ever experienced hanger before, please leave your story below in the comments.  I have a feeling it might prove to be a rather hilarious and enjoyable read. :)

<3 Lauren



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


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

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?




These are a Few of My Favorite Fats

I’m not quite sure why the title of this blog is a play on The Sound of Music.



Oh ok I remember now!  I was watching How I Met Your Mother yesterday and it was the episode in Season 7 where they’re talking about how it’s not uncommon to end up with someone like your parents.  Then there’s a scene where Barney’s mom (in the past) and girlfriend Nora (in the present) are both singing that “Favorite Things” song.

So that’s where that came from…  Makes sense!  I know you were dying to know… :)

Anyway, on to the ACTUAL words I was planning to share.

Fat’s got a bad rap.  So many of the products we see in grocery stores these days are advertised as low-fat or fat-free.  If you are the type that looks at labels for the macronutrient breakdown (grams of protein, fat, carbs), calories or ingredients, you’ll see that these low/no fat items are often peppered with extra carbs (usually added sugar) or salt in an effort to make them palatable.

Many times, this also means they’re high in calories or other weird added chemicals, too.  So don’t be fooled by the hype – just because something is low fat, it doesn’t mean that it IS better for you.  So read the labels carefully!  Of course, I prefer to buy foods without labels or with labels that list 1 ingredient and that I can guess what the macronutrient breakdown is… but that is for another post on another day.

Ok food labels was a small tangent, but no worries.  Tangents are fun and you never know where they’ll lead.  But for the 2nd time, back to the actual subject…

Fats are not ALL bad.  I think they first starting getting looked down on in the 1990′s (someone please correct me if my timing is all off, thanks)  but in reality, they’re super important to eat when you’re trying to get the fat cells on your body to burn baby burn.  I know it seems counterintuitive but let me fill you in.  Get ready cause here at Once An Athlete, we’re in the business of blowing minds… :D

Brace yourself… Here are a few knowledge bombs for you…

– Body fat (you know, the fat that’s hanging out on your body and cushioning your vital parts like your liver and kidneys and so on) is an active, hormone-secreting organ.  Yup!  It’s true!  It can release all sorts of intense hormones like leptin, estrogen, cortisol, and inflammatory molecules into your body.  When the powers of these 4 hormones combine, the result can be the perfect storm for additional fat storage.  Crazy huh??

– Depending on where fat is stored on your body, it acts differently (in the active, hormone-secreting way).  Example – belly fat releases more “garbage” into your body than fat on your thighs does.  That’s why you hear about apple shapes being more likely to have various health issues.

– Even though dietary fats are calorie dense, meaning they have a lot of calories per serving, if you look at their hormonal effects they can be REALLY good for you!  Omega-3 fats eventually cause an increase in fat metabolism through gene regulation (remember we want to metabolize/burn the fat on our bodies… we don’t just want our body burning stored sugars).  You can get Omega-3s from supplements (like fish oil), flax and fish!

– Dietary fats help with satiety at meals because it causes the release of a hormone that helps lower hunger.  When I’m not eating as many starchy carbs (ladies tend to burn more fat when eating less starchy carbs and that approach works for me!), I’ll eat an extra serving of healthy fats each day to help me feel fuller and more satisfied at my meals.  If I have a giant salad with some chicken on top, I am sure to dice up half an avocado and throw that on top, too (I love avocados almost as much as I love bacon).

Take away message??  Consuming dietary fats is important to reducing the amount fat on your body.  So which fats do I like to eat and how much?

As I already mentioned, I like avocados, fish, and flax.  I also like nuts (almonds are my favorite and walnuts are good too), nut butters (make sure you don’t get the kind loaded with sugar – try making your own!), olive oil, seeds, and grass-fed meats.  Typically, I’ll go for 2 servings of healthy fats in addition to 4g of fish oil supplements a day (2g in the morning and 2g at night).

FYI – you get what you pay for in fish oil supplements.  The lower quality, lower purity fish oils will be more likely to result in fishy burps… so this is a supplement worth splurging on a little.  My favorite brand is Nordic Naturals.

In your quest to lose weight as an ex athlete, don’t forget that burning body fat requires that you take in healthy fats like the ones mentioned above (and a fish oil supplement wouldn’t hurt either!).  Tell me what your favorite fat is in the comments below!

<3, Lauren

Eating Out? 10 Tips to Keep you on Track

Well, I am officially a resident of NYC!  It is some craaaaazy stuff, let me tell you!  I can hardly believe I’m actually here!  I’ve been in the city a few days now, and I’m still without all my household goods – the big thing for me is that I have basically no cookware except for the frying pan I bought yesterday.  They’re currently somewhere in transit between here and Michigan…  The first estimate was that I’d see them by June 24th at the latest, but I’m hoping for earlier [fingers crossed].

What to do when you can't cook My sad, lonely skillet… I also realized I have no knife to chop veggie with! Lol

Anyway, this whole being without a kitchen (and groceries) for the first few days has presented some unique challenges.  It means that I have been eating out every single day for each meal.  Not that I’m too upset about this… you see, I’m living in Hell’s Kitchen, and there are tons of amazing restaurants and bars in this area that I’m dying to explore.  However, it is going to present a challenge when it comes to my fat loss goals and not going completely broke my first week here, lol.

Challenge: If I want to at least maintain my current physique, I’m not going to be able to treat this lack of a kitchen as an excuse to eat anything I want.

Which brings up an interesting topic…

I’ve noticed something about myself– anytime I travel for work or pleasure, or am just out of my normal routine, I feel like all bets are off and I can eat absolutely anything I want AND as much of it as I want.

In thinking through this a bit, I figured out where this attitude came from.

Back in college and during tournaments for my club team, anytime we traveled we were playing a LOT of games in the course of a couple days.  For my club team, if we advanced to the finals, we’d easily play five 90 minute games in 2 days.  That’s a TON of energy expenditure, so it was important to replenish our fuel stores between games.  Processed carbs (grains like pasta, breads, granola bars, etc.) were a staple of the “replenish before the next game” diet because they give a quick burst of energy.

So I learned the habit that anytime I was away from my normal routine, I didn’t have to worry about what I ate.

It’s no one’s fault necessarily that I carried this attitude into adulthood.  I’ve just been doing what always worked for me in the past – when I’m away from home, replenish with calorie dense foods that are lower in nutrients.   However, that approach no longer works for me.  It doesn’t help me attain the physique I want.

Because I want something different, I have to start DOING something different.

 Therefore it IS my responsibility to change this behavior now that I’ve recognized it.

In trying to change a behavior, I gotta change how I think about the situation (it’s really all about your mindset).  So I look at each meal/stop for a snack as a chance to practice making better choices than I would have before.  Instead of thinking just about what will taste good (old habits), I think about what the food will actually do for my body – will it help me get results I want or keep me from results I want?

Sometimes it’s tough to know whether what you’re eating will help you get results or not.  So here are some tips that have helped me the past few days and when I’ve been on business trips.

These tips are useful anytime you’re not cooking at home – whether you’re out to dinner with friends, traveling for work, when you’re on vacation, or when you’re trying to get settled into your new place like me!

Remember – do your best in the current situation and cut yourself a little slack. :)

1.  DO drink plenty of water.

Anytime I’m out of my regular routine, I know I’m not drinking enough water.  The past few days I’ve been wandering around the city a ton and not carrying a water bottle.  Big mistake.

You need water for all sorts of crucial body functions, so don’t let this fall by the wayside.  Each time you sit for a meal or stop for a coffee, drink a huge glass of water.  This will keep your digestive system on track, help offset any increase in sodium and/or alcohol consumption, and keep pseudo-hunger away (often times when we feel hungry, we’re actually dehydrated).  So drink up!

2.  DO eat protein and fibrous veggies at each meal.

Make these the foundation of any meal you eat, and eat them first when possible. Save the starchy or processed carbs for last.  The idea is that you’ll have started to fill up on the protein/veg and won’t need to eat all the other carbs now.

If you’re getting a wrap or sandwich, be sure to pick a sandwich that comes with plenty of lean meat and veggies.  Other meal ideas – salads with lean protein, omelets with veggies, fibrous veggies or fruit for sides over baked potato/fries, eat your hamburger with extra lettuce, onions, and mushrooms on top (and tossing the bun would be even better).

3.  DO decrease portion sizes.

Often time restaurants serve massive portions of food.  As much as I WANT to eat that huge burrito all in one sitting, I probably don’t actually need to.  I can eat half and take the rest back to my hotel.  Or if I can’t take it back with me, order something smaller or order off the ala carte menu.  As much as I hate to say it, you can also leave food on the plate.  My parents taught me well to not waste food, so I hate doing this.  But sometimes it’s the only reasonable option so that I don’t leave stuffed and ready to slip into a food coma.

4.  DO be smart with the booze.

Often times my travels mean that opportunities to drink alcohol come up more frequently.  I do two things that help me out – 1) for every adult beverage I have, I drink a glass of water before I order more booze, and 2) I try to stick to either red wine or vodka/soda with lime.  They’re good options for drinks that are lower in sugar (a huge culprit especially in mixed drinks).

5.  DON’T reach for the bread basket.

Let’s be honest, at very few restaurants is the bread at the start of a meal actually worth the calories it contains.  And the resulting insulin spike is never worth it.  So ask the server when they come for your drink order to NOT bring the bread.  If others in your party want it, then tell yourself you can have some after your meal if you still really want it.  Don’t eat it mindlessly.

6.  DO pack snacks like almonds, jerky, protein bars to hold you over between meals.

To avoid the crazy hunger that almost always drives me to eat the bread from the basket at the restaurant, I like to snack on friendlier things between my meals to keep me from getting ravenously hungry by the time I make it to the restaurant.  Stuff like almonds, jerky and protein bars can be picked up at most convenience stores.  A lot of times, convenience stores also carry fruit too.  An apple is high in fiber and can keep you from going crazy on the appetizers.

7.  DO get in a workout, even if it’s a quick one.

This isn’t exactly about the food, but it’s something that helps when my eating patterns are weird.  I always feel better when I’m out of my routine if I can at least get in a 15 minute workout.  It gives my metabolism a little boost, plus I like the feeling of a good sweat even when my nutrition isn’t exactly on point (it almost feels cleansing to me… weird, I know).  I love the workouts in my 6 Week DIY exercise program.  All the workouts can be done basically anywhere, and there is no equipment needed.  Plus, they get a good sweat going!  That makes them perfect for hotel rooms/fitness centers or empty apartments.

8.  DO decide what you’ll eat before you get to the restaurant.

I know this isn’t always possible, but if you know where you’re going, check out the menu before you leave or on your way there.  Decide on the lean protein/fibrous veggies dish you’ll have before you get there so that you won’t be tempted when someone else in your party orders the fettuccine alfredo.

9.  DON’T stress over small stuff (butter on veggies, the sauce on the meat).

Seriously, the whole point of your trip is not related to your fat loss efforts, so don’t get too hung up on small things.  Your goal is to maintain where you are now, so a few little things aren’t going to wreck your progress.  They put the dressing on your salad instead of on the side?  It’s ok!  Eat and enjoy!  The tacos you ordered came with 2 corn tortillas each instead of one and you ate them anyway?  Oh well, it’s really ok!  <– I did that 2 nights ago… Make sure you don’t stress over the small stuff.  You’ll be back to normal soon.

Tips for Eating OutThis was my lunch today – a stuffed chicken breast (breaded) and veggie stew.  I didn’t let the breading on the chicken bother me; instead I focused on how much protein I was getting in and that the veggies were delish!

10.  DO watch out for “dangerous” food combos.

Whenever you’re eating out, there are a couple food combinations you should try to avoid because they’re a hormonal and therefore fat loss nightmare.  Combining fat and starchy/processed carbs is a no-no (sadly fried foods fall in this category).  Also, combining booze and carbs is the kiss of death.  When you’re metabolizing booze you can’t burn fat, so either have the starch and forget the booze or drink the booze and forget the starch.

There ya have em – my tips for eating when you’re traveling, out to eat, or just generally out of your routine.  Any of you have a chance to use these soon?  Let me know what your favorite one is!  I plan to enforce smaller portion size, protein and veg at each meal, and no starch/fat at the same meal today!

<3 Lauren

Recipe of the Month: Happy Summer Salad

Oh man, I’m SO excited!  Memorial Day is finally here, which means we are on the cusp of a 3 day weekend!  Yayayayay!

For a lot of people this 3 day weekend means they will be cooking out, and this can present all sorts of challenges for folks trying to eat for fat loss.  There’s always so much tasty food at cookouts, and no one wants to feel deprived by not eating anything while you’re there.

I know my FAVORITE part of cook-outs are the hot dogs… and potato chips… OH and the beer!

One of my strategies for NOT stuffing my face with hot dogs, chips and beer till I’m full (which is what I really want to do) is to bring something that I know I can eat tons of.  Then I can have plenty of that and piece on the other stuff.

My mentor Jill Coleman (@jillfit – go follow her on Twitter cause she shares tons of good info!) likes to talk about playing “dessert defense” where she brings a fat loss friendly (and tasty) dessert to parties.  I think the principle can be applied to any food, and it works for me so I use it  :)

Today I give you a modified version of a favorite salad from my childhood.  I’m calling it a Happy Summer Salad because, well, my mom usually made it in the summer!  And it tastes good.  And makes my belly happy.  Therefore, Happy Summer Salad.

It makes 8-10 servings, if your portions are on the small side.  If you have dairy issues, use almond cheese (I personally like the Daiya brand) instead of the mozzarella.

Also, this recipe is for a salad as a side dish.  If you want to make it into a main dish, dice 3 cooked chicken breasts, increase the coconut milk to a full can, and now it’s a main dish!

Make it and enjoy!  Then let me know if/how you tweak it :)

Recipe for a Happy Summer Salad

Happy Summer Salad

-1 head cauliflower, grated with biggest holes on box grater
-1 large broccoli crown, diced (you want about a 50/50 mix of broccoli and cauliflower, so you may need a 2nd broccoli crown)
-1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
-1 cup mozzarella cheese or 1 cup Daiya almond cheese mozzarella flavor if you’re watching dairy
-3/4 of a 16oz can light coconut milk
-packet of Hidden Valley ranch dressing seasoning mix

Add the light coconut milk (start with 3/4 of the can) to a large mixing bowl, and stir in the entire packet of ranch seasoning.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

The mix should seem “damp” – I’m not using the word “moist” cause I know it freaks some people out… but oops, just said it :D .

Serve immediately, but it’s best if you stick it in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors really seep into the veggies :)

Happy Memorial Day!  And don’t forget to thank the men and women who serve our country – the reason for this season ;)

Remember, let me know how you like the Happy Summer Salad!
<3, Lauren