Tag Archives: former athletes get back in shape

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