Category Archives: Nutrition

10 Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies

I have never been one to like vegetables, especially when I was growing up.  And my mom was always great about making some sort of vegetable with dinner.

Unfortunately for me (or so I thought at the time), mom and dad were also great about not letting me leave the table until I ate a pre-determined amount of the particular veggies served at dinner that day.

I distinctly remember one time sitting at the table for what felt like 3 hours after everyone else had finished their food because I did not want to eat the potatoes and carrots in the stew mom had made.  But as they should have… my parents won that battle, and I ate the veggies.

On that occasion and on several others too…lol 

For years, the only vegetables I really liked were corn – but not on the cob cause it got stuck in my teeth/braces – and sautéed peppers and onions.  If you want to count it as a vegetable, I liked Prego tomato sauce a lot too.

And FYI, Prego is soooo much better than Ragu!!  But I digress…

There were only a few veggies I liked and were willing to eat.  The list of veggies I didn’t like was even longer.

One veggie in particular that I hated with a passion was cooked broccoli.  I could do raw broccoli if dipped in Ranch dressing, but steamed was awful.  Still is.  I share Newman’s feelings on the subject (you know, the postman from Seinfeld)…

Hahaha!  ”Vile weed!”  SO true!

So yeah, vegetables and I don’t have the greatest history, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve been able to recognize their health benefits.  Also, the fact that they help keep me feeling full between meals, keep my HEC (Hunger, Energy, and Cravings) in check, and that I can eat large quantities without consuming tons of calories have encouraged me to eat them more often.

So because I love ya and want you to live a long healthy life, I’m gonna share with you what this vegetable hating gal has done to increase her vegetable consumption.

1.  Don’t assume that what you hated as a kid you will still hate now.
I hated sweet potatoes growing up.  It was only 3 years ago at Thanksgiving that I finally tried them again and WHOA!! Delicious!!  My favorite way to cook them now is to peel, cut into wedges, season with cumin and plenty of chili powder and bake till crispy.  Mmm mmm!  Earthy, spicy, sweet potato-y, french fry goodness!

2.  Be willing to try new veggies.
I tried brussel sprouts for the first time ever last fall at this restaurant in downtown Detroit called Roast.  Word on the street was they had these KILLER brussel sprouts that even haters would love.  So I had to try em and ended up loving them!  Moral of the story?  Restaurants use tasty recipes that may open you up to other veggies you might not like otherwise.  You can recreate them at home and modify if they aren’t quite fat loss friendly.

3.  Eat vegetables at every meal – including breakfast!
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  And while most people wouldn’t think it, breakfast is also a great time to get in some veggies.  I find that when I incorporate plenty of vegetables into my first meal, I stay fuller longer than when I don’t.

There are a few ways to get them into breakfast.  You can make up a veggie egg white omelet – stuff it full of onions, mushrooms, peppers, and spinach.

Another idea is to blend up 1-2 handfuls of spinach or chard into your protein pancake batter or your protein shake.  I PROMISE you – the greens only change the color, not the taste.  Honestly, this is one of the best ways to get more veggies in cause you don’t taste them and you don’t have to chew them either.  <– Yes, I have a lazy jaw sometimes, lol  :P

4.  Ease your way into eating fat loss friendly versions of veggies.
So you’re a huge fan of peas slathered with butter and salt but you can’t do just plain peas yet?  That’s ok.  Each time you make them, slowly decrease the amount of butter and salt you use.  Also, invest in Mrs. Dash seasonings.  They’re fantastically delicious and salt free.

5.  Substitute veggies for other refined carbs in your diet.
This can help you not only get more veggies but decrease your refined carb intake.  One of my FAVORITE substitutions is to use spaghetti squash in place of regular spaghetti noodles.  Also, I love my snacks and dips, so I slice cucumbers nice and thick and use them as “crackers”.

6.  Use them as convenient, on-the-go snacks.
Chop a bunch of raw veggies for the week or buy containers of pre-chopped vegetables and bring a bag with you to work each day.   Some great options are celery, carrots, baby tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers and thick sliced mushrooms.

7.  Try paleo versions of foods you love since they often substitute vegetables for grains.
The internet is FULL of great ideas for paleo-izing your favorite recipes, so take advantage of it!  A couple of things I’ve tried?

Using zucchini slices as “noodles” in a lasagna (I also used an almond mozzarella cheese so it really was paleo and it was SO good).

My favorite paleo-ized recipe I’ve tried so far though was a cauliflower hummus, and it was the perfect dip for all my raw veggies!  You can get the tasty recipe from Paleo Plan here, and this is what it looked like when I made it…  YUM!

 10 Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies

8.  Make pureed vegetable soups.
This is a great way to mix it up a little.  Last time I did this, cauliflower was my vegetable of choice but lots of other veggies can work.  Get creative!

Start out by seasoning and roasting some chopped cauliflower (a tiny bit of salt, pepper and cumin).  When it’s about done, saute some onion in olive oil until translucent, add no sodium chicken stock and the cauliflower.  Blend the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth.  Season with s&p to taste and cook over medium until heated through.  Easy peasy.

9.  Keep fresh and frozen vegetables in your house.
When you have plenty of options in your fridge and freezer, it makes it much more likely that you’ll actually cook them.  If you have everything else for a meal except the veg, then you’re probably not going to run to the grocery store to pick some up.  I know I sure wouldn’t!!

10.  If at first you hate it, try try again.
Translation: try a vegetable more than once.
Just because you don’t like a vegetable raw doesn’t mean you won’t like it cooked.  Plus, it helps if you cook them different ways and give other recipes a chance to win you over.

Steamed broccoli is still a “vile weed” to me.  But if I coat broccoli in a little olive oil, sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper, just a smidge of parmesan cheese then roast in a 400 degree oven for about 15 min?  Oh it becomes divine…


So there you have them!  Ten ways this veggie hater learned to eat, like, and eventually love [certain] vegetables!

Let me know in the comments below what veggies you love to eat!

<3, Lauren




Destroy your Cravings Without Destroying your Diet

Things in my life have been a little bit crazy recently.  Ok, they’ve been A LOT crazy.  I am finishing up projects for a job assignment that ends the first week of June and am preparing for my next assignment with the same company that will take me from Michigan to the New England area.  Eek!

I’ll be working in New Jersey, but this nutty Midwestern gal has decided to live in New York City for the next 9 months.  I’ve always wanted to live in a big city for a while, so why not go for the biggest one, right??  Lol, yeah I have no idea what I’m getting myself into… I realize this :)  

While this is all SUPER exciting it’s kiiiiiinda stressful at the same time.

[Apparently, the unknown freaks me out a little even though I can manage it pretty well.  Lol]

Anyway, with all of this and trying to finish projects and orchestrating a pretty big move, my stress levels have been higher than normal recently.  This means then that my appetite is funky and mainly that my cravings for chocolately and any sweet things are through the roof.  And that is telling because my close friends and family all know that this girl normally craves salty stuff – potato chips, hamburgers, fried foods, etc. 

So the fact that I’m craving sweets means my stress has taken over…  My brain is probably dying for some dopamine or seratonin or something. 

Cravings like these make it kinda tough for this former athlete to lose weight, and I don’t want them to derail the progress I’ve made so far!  Soooo….

When cravings, especially for sweets, are this strong I turn to cocoa powder.  Pure unadulterated, unsweetened, 100% cocoa powder. 

This stuff is the  For realz. 

It is a miracle worker on my cravings and crushes them within almost minutes (usually the cravings have chilled about 30 min after I first start consuming the cocoa powder). Why does it do this?  Cause it’s awesome.  And cause it stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain. 

See cocoa powder contains some pretty cool compounds like seratonin, phenylethylamine, and anandamide

-We know seratonin levels are related to eating patterns (higher seratonin levels often mean less food intake). 

-Phenylethylamine is like an identity theif - it passes as dopamine in the brain and carries out transactions like dopamine would.  It’s waaaaay sneaky.

-As if these weren’t reasons enough to consume cocoa, anandamide has actually been referred to as “chemical bliss” for its ability to find and push the “buttons” in the brain that create feelings of euphoria (slightly more technically, it binds to receptors in the brain that stimulate euphoric feelings). 

This is why cocoa is such a power player when it comes to crushing cravings.

Now the question is — How to incorporate it into your diet?  Until I found this suggestion from Metabolic Effect, the only way I knew to incorporate it was to bake brownies or chocolate mint cookies.  And since that’s kind of counter-productive to our weight loss efforts, well then we need other options…

Metabolic Effect suggests making it into a hot drink.  Stir 1 tablespoon into hot water and then sweeten with stevia, xylitol or other low/no cal sweetener. 

Be aware, it’s bitter when you first try it.  Now I can do my drinks with just a smidge of stevia and 2 Tbs cocoa in ~10oz hot water.  But I had to work up to that.  I will tell you though, it’s great for an after-dinner option when you really feel like pulling out the snack items or sweets.  This gives you something to sip on for a while, and by the time you’re done with the drink, the bioactive compounds listed above are already starting to work their magic. 

**Do be careful though if you’re pretty sensistive to caffeine.  There is caffeine in cocoa powder, so proceed with caution when consuming in the evenings.

But there are times when I don’t really want a hot drink, and I want something that feels like dessert.  That was me this weekend, so I whipped up this dessert and thought I’d share it with you all.  It’s a paleo chocolate pudding and it’s so yummy!

 Destroy your Cravings Without Destroying your Diet

The cast of characters are cocoa powder (obviously), light coconut milk, chia seeds and chocolate stevia drops (can sub any other low/no-cal sweetener here but I LOVE these things).

Craving Killer Pudding

-3/4 c light coconut milk
-2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/4 c chia seeds
-2 droppers worth of chocolate stevia drops (or another no-cal sweetener to taste)

Whisk together coconut milk and cocoa powder until there are no visible lumps of cocoa powder (a hand mixer with whisk attachment helps with this).  Stir in chia seeds and sweetener until well combined.  Cover and place in fridge for an hour.  Mixture will thicken into a pudding-like consistency (this is from the chia seeds).  Stir and dive in.

 Craving Killer Pudding

See it’s that easy!  Throw a couple sliced strawberries on top and I’m in heaven!  It’s sooo good!!  Even though it looks a little funny with all the puffy chia seeds, hehe, it’s a far better option than eating several chunks of a sheet cake or a quart of ice cream… which I may or may not have done before… **cough, cough**  Anyway, you get your cravings fighting cocoa powder and the feel of eating a dessert, plus it’s not too coconut-y which is good because I despise coconut.

So there ya have it!  TWO ways to use cocoa – the cravings crusher - to help you get in shape!

Try making either the drink or pudding this week to destroy your cravings and let me know how it goes!

<3 Lauren

Be a Bombshell in a Bikini: Part 2 – Eat More to Slim Down

Food.  Ah food.  How I love it.  I love to cook it.  I love to share it.

I especially love to eat it.

I love trying new restaurants and recipes.  I like giving new ingredients a chance and old favorites new flavors.  For me, food is a source of pleasure.  And it plays a big part of my life and I’m guessing it might in yours too.

Food is also an incredibly powerful tool for body change.  Why?  Because it can drastically affect the body’s hormonal environment.  And the hormonal environment is key to determining the body’s composition (how much of your body weight is fat or muscle).

One Meal Away from Fat Loss

Do you know what this means??  This means that just by changing up what we eat, we can change how much fat we carry on our body.  We can change how we look.

We can get our athletic body back (or get beach ready) if we eat MORE of the RIGHT foods to turn on our fat burning metabolism.

Yep you heard me right – to change your body and lean out, you probably need to eat MORE food.

[The food lover in me is doing a happy dance right now]

This shocks most people because in our society the eat less, exercise more mantra is the foundation of most weight loss programs.  But notice above I said more of the RIGHT foods.

This is key because not all calories are created equal.   Here’s an example that really cleared this up for me….

Say you have a generic donut and a medium-sized chicken breast.  They both have approximately the same number of calories (around 200).  So if calories are all that matters, then it doesn’t matter whether you choose the chicken breast or the donut.

BUT let’s think about this a little more…

If calories really were the only important thing, then the donut and the chicken breast should keep you satisfied for the same amount of time, give you the same energy levels in the hours that follow and have the same impact on cravings later in the day.   (Is anyone else giggling a little at the thought of NOT crashing after a donut???)

Calories aren't created equal

If you’re completely honest with yourself, you’ll probably see that the donut and the chicken breast affect you in very different ways.

For me, about 45 min after I eat a donut (assuming I’m able to eat only one), my head starts feeling fuzzy and my energy tanks.  If I’m tracking cravings, then I’d probably notice that later that day, I’m wanting more sugary or fatty foods.  Also, if by some miracle I managed to eat only 1 donut, I probably never stopped being hungry.

Now let’s pretend I ate the chicken breast instead (a delicious one of course).  After eating the chicken breast, I don’t have any noticeable drop in energy 45 min later.  Also, I’m not hungry for another few hours, and there are no noticeable cravings later on in the day.  Plus, I don’t really see myself eating more than 1 or maybe 1 1/2 chicken breasts in one sitting…

But how is this possible if they both have the same number of calories?  Something about them has to be different because their effects on me are different.

The answer?  They are influencing my hormones in unique ways.  It’s the only way to explain differences in satiety, energy levels, cravings and hunger.

Why are they affecting hormones differently?  Because the macronutrient profiles of the foods that are different.

[Don't freak out on me... All I mean by macronutrient profile is what the food is made of - what percent of the food is fat, carbohydrates, and protein?]

In the chicken, it’s mostly protein, whereas the donut is mostly carbohydrates.  The donut signals hormones that say “Store fat!!” where the chicken breast signals “Burn fat!!”

See how just by changing what we eat, we can tell the body to do different things via our hormones?  We won’t get into the nitty gritty of the hormone world today, but it’s important to realize that body change just isn’t about calories.

Yes, you do need a caloric deficit to lose weight, but you need the right hormonal environment to make sure that weight is fat, not muscle.  (We talked last week about why we want to save our muscle.  You can read about that here.)  Plus, with the right hormonal environment, you won’t constantly be hungry, exhausted and craving junk food.

This is actually the way Metabolic Effect suggests monitoring whether or not you’re priming your body to burn fat — monitor your HEC (pronounced “heck”).
Hunger, Energy, Cravings.

If these are balanced (meaning you’re not hungry, you have high energy and you’re not craving crap food) and you’re losing fat, you’re in a longterm, fat-burning zone.  If they’re not balanced, you’re likely NOT burning fat.  Or if you are, it’s probably not sustainable for longer than a few weeks.

Alright let’s get practical now.  How can you eat to get your HEC in check?
Follow these tips below…

1.  Eat 4-6 small meals per day — Eating several smaller meals allows you to eat more frequently and never get ravenously hungry between meals since that often leads to overeating junk food.  If you choose the right foods for these meals, you can help keep your energy balanced throughout the day, too.  But a big part of frequent meals is to keep yourself from getting crazy hungry.

2.  Eat lean proteins and fibrous veggies — We want to increase our food volume without increasing the number of calories we consume (this helps keep our hunger down).  To do that choose foods high in water, fiber and protein content.  These will help you stay satisfied for longer, so include these at each small meal.  (see this post for approximate protein serving sizes)

A good way to think of it?  Eat your protein at the meal plus as many fibrous veggies as you want.

3.  Drink LOTS of water — Being dehydrated can negatively effect your energy and brain function, and by the time you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.  Keep a water bottle with you and drink as much as possible…. even up to 3-4L a day.  Don’t worry, your body WILL adapt to the increased fluid intake and the number of trips to the bathroom will decrease, I promise! :)

4.  Limit foods that tend to trigger cravings and hunger — I love my coffee but my early morning 2-3 cup habit tends to trigger cravings in the evening for me.  So I’ve had to reduce that a little…  Other culprits?  Artificial sweeteners and sweet snacks can do the same thing.  Limit these guys as much as possible.

5.  Get your healthy fats in — Certain dietary fats are actually required to burn fat!  So don’t be afraid of the good ones like Omega-3 fats (6 and 9 are good too!) :) Have a few servings each day of healthy fats – 1/4c nuts, 1/2 an avocado, 6oz fish,  or 2 Tbs olive oil or coconut oil are each 1 serving.  Also, consider a fish oil supplement.

{This next one is a big one….}

6.  Limit starchy carbohydrates — Things like pasta, potatoes, cookies, bread, rice, crackers, etc (while very delicious) are considered starchy carbs and should be consumed in limited amounts.  Starchy carbs in general can wreak havoc on your body in the hormonal sense if you eat too many too often. Carbs aren’t to be avoided at all cost because you do need them, but you gotta be aware of how much of them you’re eating.

In general, I personally like to avoid the ones I just listed above and stick to mostly starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, corn, all different kinds of squash (spaghetti squash is my fav), and eggplant.  If you want, you can also do oat bran, oatmeal, brown rice or quinoa.

Oh, because of how fruit breaks down in the body, I also consider fruit as starchy carbs in my diet.  They usually make an appearance in my breakfasts and “desserts”.

Anyway how much to eat?  I like to measure starchy carbs by bites.  It’s far better than weighing or measuring out your food.

Most people do well with 5-10 bites of starchy carbs at each meal.  However, everyone is different so you may do better with more at each meal or less.  This amount of carbs where your energy is high enough for a good workout and you’re burning fat is called your carbohydrate tipping point.  It takes a while to find this usually, but it’s important for shedding body fat.  You can learn more about it here (a Metabolic Effect blog on the subject).

Alright that’s probably enough for now :) As with anything, implement changes in small steps first.

It might be way too much to change your eating frequency AND what you’re eating all at once.  So consider changing 1 meal this week.  Then change up another meal next week.  Then add in a 4th to your typical 3 meals and decrease the size of all the meals slightly.

Example – maybe this week instead of cereal and orange juice, go for scrambled eggs with onions/peppers/spinach in it and your 5-10 bites of oatmeal at breakfast.  Then next week, keep those changes and change up your lunch to a big old salad with chicken breast and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Get the idea?

Keep an eye on your HEC as you make changes, and if you have questions let me know!  Ask away here in the comments or find me on Facebook or Twitter :)

How will you get your HEC in check this week to get bikini ready?

<3 Lauren

Be a Bombshell in a Bikini: Part 1 – Save your Muscle!

There are a few times each year when people get especially motivated to lose weight or lean out a little (New Year’s resolutions, anyone?).  Well with temperatures rising, the official start of spring, and vacation plans in the works, another one of those times is upon us. 

Brace yourself.  Swimsuit season is just around the corner. 

If you are like me, as the details of your beach vacation are starting to come together (I’ll be off to Gulf Shores in May!  yay!), you realize with slight panic that, um, you aren’t necessarily feeling ready to peel off your cover-up at the beach and reveal your somewhat soft and pale self (ok maybe pale is just me).  If you’re hoping to rock a bombshell-esque bod in that bikini, what can you do?

Well as I see it, there are a couple different options.  You can choose a crash diet that, if you really stick to it, will likely work to get you basically beach ready.  But guuurl, trust me!!  You do NOT want to do that. 

Crash diets are an eat less/exercise more approach that are unstainable longterm, meaning you eventually quit the diet, and the worst part – they result in INDISCRIMINATE weight loss.  This means that the weight lost can be water, fat or muscle, and if you’re eating less and doing lots of steady state cardio it’s likely the lost weight is mostly muscle.  Not good.

Why save your muscle?

First, muscle is responsible for giving you those shapely, goddess-like curves that many gals crave.  When you starve away your muscle, you significantly decrease the potential of sculpting a tight tush or shapely shoulders precisely because there is no muscle to sculpt

Remember, you can’t “tone” muscle that you don’t have.

Second, muscle is metabolically active tissue – this just means that it uses resources (calories) even when it’s at rest – like when you’re watching TV or sleeping. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn without doing a thing.  Uh, sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

Third, when you inevitably come off the diet that probably had you exercising exorbadent amounts of willpower in order to stay on track, binging and rebound weight gain is in your future.  You will likely eat everything “bad” that you craved while on the diet and probably lots of it.  Couple this with LESS metabolically active muscle tissue and it’s a recipe for disaster.  In fact, research shows that a large percentage of people who go on crash diets are fatter than when they started 2 years after the diet ends.

[Are you starting to understand why I want you to avoid crash diets like the plague??] 

Fourth, indiscriminate weight loss will not change your body shape.  You will become a smaller version of your current shape.  But if you want to decrease the width of your hips in relation to the rest of your body, crash diets won’t do it. 

Take a look at the photo below from Metabolic Effect that illustrates just this.  If you’re a pear and lose “weight” on a crash diet you will only shrink to be a smaller pear (green to green).  This is why you can train for a half marathon hoping to make your saddlebags disappear and all you do is shrink everything – so proportionally, the saddlebags look no smaller.  But if your focus is on fat loss, you can change your body’s shape (green to red).

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss

Alright, now that we are clear on why it’s good to keep muscle around (and dare I say, build some??), we still need to figure out how to get rid of excess fat while holding onto our muscle so we look friggin’ hot in our bikinis this summer, and the next, and the next…

Fat loss with muscle retention happens when you approach body change with a “hormones first, calories second” perspective.  And there are 4 big themes to think about here – nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress.

You might wonder -  How many calories do stress or sleep have??  As you’d expect, they don’t “contain” any number of calories BUT the hormones associated with sleep and stress can drastically affect whether your body decides to store fat or burn it.  The same goes for the types of foods you eat (and how much and when) and the type of exercise you engage in.

The next few posts, I want to take the time to dive deeper into each of these 4 aspects.  But since we’re on the subject of muscle right now, I want to share some ideas for what you can do to hold onto your muscle as you prep for summer.

How to save your muscle

1.  Eat plenty of lean protein.  It keeps you full and satisfied much longer than say donuts would (not to mention you won’t have the same type of sugar crash!). 

Also, the energy required to process lean proteins is pretty high too (this is known as the thermic effect of food).  The thermic effect is why something like celery is essentially negative calories – it takes more calories to break it down than the celery contains. 

Another thing is that when you’re in a lower caloric state, you don’t want your body to break down your muscles for energy.  If you make sure you’re eating enough protein, the amount of muscle chewed up will be minimal. 

How much is enough?  A generally accepted amount for women is 0.8-1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.  So if you weigh 150lb, your goal should be to consume 150g of protein throughout the day.  Now, I know this seems like a TON of protein, and compared to the standard Western diet (and even to what you ate in your college athlete days), IT IS a lot of protein.  But don’t fret.  When you break up that amount over several small meals through the day, it’s definitely doable. 

We’ll talk more about the why/how of meal frequency next time, but for now, think of it this way. 

All of these things have 20-30g protein per serving – 5 egg whites, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 medium chicken breast, 6oz white fish, 4oz lean beef cut.  If you have egg whites at breakfast, a salad with chicken at lunch, a protein shake in the afternoon and fish or steak for dinner, you’ve EASILY consumed at least 100g protein and probably more. 

At the minimum, include a serving of lean protein at each meal.

2.  Lift heavy weights.  And try it rest-based style.  I talked about the importance of efficeint exercise already, but it’s important enough to repeat.  As you may have experienced since you finished your college career, if you don’t use muscle you will lose it.  Thus the importance of consistently lifting heavy weights. 

In all honesty, getting to the gym regularly is something I struggle with.  It’s an easy routine for me to get out of and a tough one to get back in to, but I notice huge differences in my strength, lung capacity, and general feelings of self-confidence when I have been at the gym regularly.  

If you struggle with getting to the gym, try this Jedi mind trick that I use on myself…

Tell yourself you just have to walk into the gym and do 5 minutes of a circuit then you can leave.  Usually by the time I get myself there, warm up and get going, I’m mentally ready to do a whole 20 minute workout.  Voila!  I just worked out!

3.  Lower cortisol.  This is key because cortisol can signal to your body to eat up stored muscle for energy.  And yeah… we don’t want that.  So we need to make sure that we are not constantly in a high cortisol state. But a constant environment in the body of high cortisol can drastically impair your fat loss results, and one of those reasons is because you can end up losing muscle. 

How to control cortisol? 

Walk – leisurely (no power walking). 

Take a hot bath with delicious smelling bath soak (I love the Sleep Lavendar Vanilla scent from Bath and BodyWorks) and light some candles around the tub.  This is my go-to stress relief option.  I take at least 1 bath a week, more when I’m really stressed by work stuff (like now). 

You could also spend quality time with friends who make you laugh, get it on with your partner, read a good book, do a restorative yoga class, or journal.  Find something that relaxes you then engage in it consistently.

My Favorite Addition to a Hot Bath

4.  Sleep more!  More on this later but it is SO critically important that you sleep enough (8-10 is ideal but even 7-9 hrs is better than what most people get).  I know it’s difficult to make time for this, but sleep is prime recover/rebuild time for your muscles.  Getting enough sack time is critical to keeping your muscle around.

So this week please please PLEASE avoid the temptation to drastically cut your calories and do hours of steady state cardio.  It is bad for your muscles, your physique and your health in the long run.  Instead, show your muscles some love.  A role model of mine is bodybuilder Tom Venuto and I love his approach to body change.  He says that you want to “burn the fat” and “feed the muscle”.  LOVE that visual.   So let’s all ditch the crash diets and feed our sexy muscles!  Who’s with me??

Preseason Doesn’t Work in the Real World

As athletes, our tendency is to take on the preseason, or training camp, mindset.  And why not?  It’s been the only thing we’ve really been taught about body change.  It’s a jumpstart, sure… but it’s not sustainable.

Preseason Doesn't Work in the Real World

Preseason told us,

“If you wanna take your body to the next level, then you have to eat, breathe and LIVE your sport for the next 2-3 weeks.  Basically, uproot your life and put your body through hell by training for hours a day and HOPING you get adequate nutrition.  You can recover later.”

And hey, this approach can work… when you’re 20 and have nothing but your sport and classes to worry about!!  

But what about when it’s all over?

It’s no wonder that after we “retire” from our sport, we think that if we want to tighten up our body or shed that extra 15 we’ve put on, we have to change everything at once – a massive diet and/or exercise overhaul.

But with everything else going on in your life now, massive lifestyle overhaul is NOT gonna stick.  I can promise you that.  Unless you’re friggin’ superman or something…

So what’s our other option?

We make ONE change at a time.

Resist the urge to do a ton of things at once.  The more changes you add to your plate at once, the LESS likely you are to implement ANY of them permanently.

Change one thing.  Work on that for a couple weeks.  When you’re comfortable with that, add another thing.  Get comfortable with that one AND the first.  Then add another.

So what one change can you make?  And does it matter what you change first?

I agree with the folks at Metabolic Effect who say there are 4 main components to body change:

  • Sleep – get at least 7-8 hrs
  • Stress – do something relaxing every day (no, TV watching/internet surfing doesn’t count)
  • Nutrition – what you eat tells your body to burn or store fat
  • Workouts – short and intense is the way to go

For me, when making small changes it was easiest to start with nutrition stuff.  So here are some changes to consider making first in the nutrition world.


1.  Keep a food journal  –  write down everything you put in your mouth and quantities – yes, food eaten in the car DOES count… I mean, not that I EVER believed that car food was calorie-free food…. ;)  A journal brings you some awareness about your food.  You gotta know what you’re doing that’s NOT working in order to change it later.

–use a small notebook (Moleskine notebooks like this one are my fav!)
–use an app like MyFitnessPal

2.  Drink more water  –  by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.  With more H2O you’ll likely end up with LESS hunger and MORE energy!

–aim for 3L a day… you’ll be peeing a LOT at first but after a week or two your body will
adapt… trust me :)

–join the Nalgene water bottle club.  Just do it already… and get one of those water filters that
attaches to your sink faucet (~$25)- way easier than constantly refilling a pitcher

3.  Eat as many fibrous veggies as you can  –  SO many health benefits in these babies!  They’re full of vitamins and minerals and best of all?  They help you feel fuller longer.

–try spinach, kale, cucumbers, asparagus, arugula, swiss chard, celery…

–Saute them, eat some of them raw, or blend into a greens drink/smoothie – fair warning
check your teeth after… you don’t want a piece of spinach hanging around on your smile for
the rest of the day

[Side note--> I HATE it when I've got something in my teeth or on my face and no one tells me!  I'm more embarrassed when you don't say anything than when you do!  LOL Anyone else with me?!]

4.  Nix the starchy carbs at lunch  –  Starchy carbs = breads, pasta, potatoes, pizza crust, rice, oats, cereals, etc.  Note that you probably won’t have the same energy slump around 2 or 3pm either…..which means you won’t be heading to the admin assistant’s desk at that time for your daily m&m’s fix……and you won’t be falling asleep at your desk and therefore not getting fired – see I’m saving your job AND getting you into smaller pants!!

–Instead of sandwich, have a BIG salad with some chicken on top

–If you eat those microwaveable frozen meals, pick the ones without pasta or rice – just
protein and veggies

–If you go out, pick salads, a burger without the bun and a side salad, your fav curry dish
with extra steamed veggies on the side instead of rice


Which of these will you try this week?  Give ONE THING a go and report back!

<3 Lauren