We live by rules in every part of our life – finances, marriage, work and government, to name of few. But, we expect NOT to live by rules when it comes to food. For some reason we think those kind of rules are bad, unhealthy, limiting, no fun, unfair, damaging and inconvenient. Why would it be any different than the rules we have with our finances? We fully understand that we are expected to work for our paycheck, and we are expected to pay our bills – and, if we don’t, there are serious repercussions.
Since we are expected to not spend more than we make, most of us live on some type of budget. Well, in the same way you must budget your money, you should also budget your food. If you eat more than you can “afford” to eat, you will have repercussions to your actions. Those repercussions come in the form of weight gain and health issues.
Think of how someone manages a business. It doesn’t matter how much they profit, if they don’t also consider their loss. It’s the balance that matters. In the same way, it doesn’t matter how much you “work” (exercise) if you are still eating more than you can afford. Every extra pound of fat “over the limit” is a sign that you have been irresponsible with your body account – your loss is greater than your profit. You are, essentially, living “in the red”.
The only difference between overeating and overspending is no one repos your car or takes your house. Your “punishment” is the extra baggage you have to lug around and the evidence you see of your past actions in the mirror every day. So that’s the bad news. The good news is, you can erase the debt! You can literally work off the hole you got yourself into just like we work off financial debt – by working hard, going on a budget, and sticking to it until the debt is gone.
Will you have to make sacrifices? Of course. Will you be able to live the way you have been used to living? No. So go ahead and get your whining out of your system and get over it. I’ll be honest with you, a lot of things have to change. But that is a good thing. The way you have been living got you where you are now. And, if you are overweight, I bet you are not happy where you are now. So why would you want to continue doing things that always give you the same bad result?
When I look at my credit card balance, I forget what I even bought. I wonder how in the world I ever spent that much money. The fine dining and the clothes (I already given away to Goodwill) are gone. It all comes with a price. Now I’m paying it off – and, quite honestly, it’s not fun. BUT I know the reward once I do pay it off. I understand I am paying the price now for what I couldn’t afford earlier – and in many ways, that is exactly what we are doing with our weight. The extra work we have to do in the gym, and the sacrifices we have to make out of the gym are all part of the process to reach our goal.
How do you stick to this new budget and not give up or give in? The key to success is to constantly remind yourself of the big picture. Instead of thinking about what you are missing out on right NOW, you must think about what you would miss out on LATER if you don’t stick to your plan.
If you have a weight issue, I challenge you to rethink the way you treat food. Like your spending, indulging in the extras should be an occasional treat – not a daily habit. Rules are not evil, they are there to protect you and they are healthy. It’s living without rules that is the most damaging. If you are overweight, you are experiencing the damage firsthand. So,every time you are tempted, remember the repercussions for doing what is wrong and remember the reward for doing what is right. Focus on what you are working toward – and don’t you dare let anything get in your way!
I’ve never heard anyone say “I feel so fat, if only I could be stronger in the gym”. No, that never happens. What they say is, “I’m so fat, I just wish I could be stronger around food”. The fact is, what we do in the gym is the easy part. It’s what we do in the kitchen that is tough.
We need food. It’s fuel for our body – BUT we have to learn to control food like we learn to control a weight. Think about this: When people first lift free weights, their weights are all over the place. Every movement feels a little unnatural. Newbies are shaky, wobbly and unbalanced. Lifting weights takes a certain amount of practice, which require repetition. Then, once we are able to control the weight, we work to improve, increasing the weight, and improving our skill.
We could use some of those same principles in the kitchen. We must first do what comes unnatural for us. For example, you may need to force yourself to eat 5-6 times a day at first. Like trying a new exercise, we have to try new things with our diet, like counting calories or making protein shakes. Then, you have to practice those things over and over – yes, you heard right. We have to practice eating healthy. You will practice new recipes and try new snacks – and just like when we practice anything else, we will not always get it right. So we keep working on it.
Look at the definition of what practice:
Practice: repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency. “Practice makes perfect.”
Don’t you think we could all use more practice when it comes to eating right? This means we have to REPEATEDLY keep trying to improve our eating habits, even when we fail, until we are proficient in healthy eating. Like anything else, it will take work. We can’t rely on shortcuts or happenstance. But, just like the work we put in the gym, the work we put in the kitchen comes with a great reward! You will get stronger.
One of my facebook friends, Vanessa, commented on my omelet yesterday morning and said she’d love to see my shopping list. So I decided to grab my receipt and share what i got.
First, I must confess. My eating has been so off the last 2 weeks since my vacation. I often skipped meals or opted for a can of soup because I was too lazy to cook – and the main reason cooking would be challenging is because we were low on groceries. Betty Crocker I am not. I cook easy, fast, simple meals. If it can’t be simple, I won’t bother cooking it. This girl has very little patience.
We rarely eat out, but this past week I resorted to restaurants simply because I didn’t want to cook and I didn’t want to shop. (I keep telling you how lazy I am. Eventually you will start believing me! If I can do this anyone can!)
THIS, my friend, is how to NOT live! Steve and I both felt horrible, unhealthy and fat. AND we missed the taste of fresh food, healthy food. Our bodies are smart – once it gets the good stuff, it craves it. We couldn’t WAIT to go grocery shopping and get back to normal healthy eating habits. So THIS was my weekend!! My weekend to get back in control, get organized and plan for a week of clean eating and healthy living!
Before I went to the store, I cooked up some brunch (I made an eggbeater omelet with broccoli, grilled onions and goat cheese). I was stuffed! Now I was ready for my day of healthy preparations! But, before I begin, let me share with you a few simple shopping tips to help you on your diet (or just healthy eating) before you even take the groceries home.
7 Healthy Shopping Tips
Tip #1: NEVER go to the store HUNGRY! Eeeeeverything will look amazing if you go in that store hungry! The only way to hink with your brain, and not your tummy is to go to the store nice and full. Your waistline AND bank account will thank you. That’s why I told you I ate that omelet. I promise, nothing makes me more stupid than being hungry.
Tip #2: Be realistic. Don’t buy celery and stuff you know you won’t eat just because it looks healthy. Buy foods you enjoy and WILL eat. You’ll be less wasteful and a more satisfied dieter. Consider your upcoming schedule. If you are busy, shop for stuff that is simple, quick and easy to throw together. Save your complicated fancy recipes for another shopping trip.
Tip #3: Avoid Fat Free items. Normally fat-free items have more sugar. Since fat slows down digestion (which helps us stay fuller longer), going fat free can actually make you feel hungrier. Don’t avoid fat, just eat it sparingly. Beware of healthy appearing titles. Many times they are not as healthy as they want you to believe.
Tip #4: Don’t Rush. Shopping healthy requires time. You need to read labels and use your noggin to make good choices. Following a shopping list can help a lot, but when you are starting a diet plan, it’s imperative you have the time to really study food and make the best choices. If you don’t have the time to shop smart, get the bare necessities only, and go back when you have more time to shop right. The more educated you become, the faster you’ll get in and out.
Tip #5: If You Can’t Control Yourself Around It, Don’t Buy It. Even if it’s pretty healthy, if you can’t control yourself around that food, you don’t need it in your house. For example, Steve loves Peanuts. They are not bad for you (in low quantities). However, if Steve has a handful of nuts, he has the whole container. As a result, this is one item we rarely purchase.
Tip #6: Be prepared for emergencies. While I believe whole food is ALWAYS the best choice, keep a stock in a few low-cal frozen meals like Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones or Healthy Choice, as well as some high-protein bars like Designer Whey, Detour or Zone Bar (which are all around 200 calories and have 10gms or so of protin). So, in the event you are in a mind and rushed for time, you have something to eat that is much healthier than fast food or not eating anything at all.
Tip #7: Shop around the outside of the store 1st. Only venture in the aisles to find specific must-have items – never browse. Most of the stuff on the aisles are processed foods, toppings and extras we don’t need. I listed all my groceries that were in the refrigerated, produce & dairy sections in green and the inside aisles in red. Black is 0-calorie items.
My Grocery Shopping Receipt
Sometimes your shopping list and shopping receipt can be two totally different things. So, I’m sharing with you my grocery receipt.
- Cabbage (to make Roasted Cabbage)
- Green & Red Peppers
- Romaine Lettuce
- Spring Mix
- Cole Slaw Mix (I use it for sides, toppings & salads)
- Orange Juice
- Edamame (I love this as a salty snack with soy sauce)
- Pastrami (for my Low-Cal Rueben Quesadillas)
- Sauerkraut (for the Quesadillas)
- Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
- Coffee Mate Hazelnut & Almond Joy Creamer (my treat)
- Frozen vegetables (only snow peas & spinach. I have plenty at home)
- Steam Veggies (for emergency quick meals)
- 5 Lean Cuisines & Healthy Choices (aiming for 18-25gms of protein and around 300 calories)
- Flat Out Healthy Grain Wrap (for the Quesadillas)
- Fruit & Cream Oatmeal (we also have whole oats at home)
- Bear Naked Granola (toppings for my Greek Yogurt Bowl)
- Pineapple slices (for kabobs, salads & stirfry)
- Low-Sugar Craisins (for salads)
- Honey Roasted Almond Accents (salads)
- Mio Lemonade (to spice up water)
- Dasani Pinacolada/Coconut (never tried it)
- LaCroix Cran-Rasp sparkling water
- Secret Deodorant, paper plates, plastic forks, etc (but you probably don’t want to know that kind of stuff! ha!)
Steve shops for meat and bulk items at Sams. Here was what he brought home:
- Ground Turkey (for my Mexican Meatloaf)
- Mango (I put in my Greek Yogurt)
- Brussel Sprouts (We grill them with curry)
- Pretzel thins
- Almonds & Pistachios
Of course I already had some groceries, so don’t trip if you don’t see eggs, etc – I still have a pretty full pantry and I do have 2 refrigerators that are not even close to empty. I always stay stocked on condiments and, more importantly, seasonings.
- Lemon Juice
- Lime Juice
- Alessi Balsamic Vinegar
- BADIA Complete Seasoning (can’t live without this!)
- Grill Mates Mojito Lime Seasoning (awesome stuff!)
- Hot Sauce (I love them all)
- Olive Oil
Off the top of my head, I will probably cook the following this week:
- Filet Mignon and Quinoa (which we had last night after I shopped)
- Grilled chicken kabobs with green pepper, onion, tomato & pineapple over brown rice quinoa mix
- Chicken & vegetables with PB2 peanut sauce from Diabetic Living magazine this month (no, I’m not diabetic, but they have great ideas for eating low-cal, healthy, low-glycemic meals)
- One or two of my sensational low-cal salads
- Grilled salmon & asparagus (for Steve)
- Mexican Meatloaf (going to try it with cooked Quinoa instead of bread!)
- Pulled BBQ chicken and low-cal cole slaw wrap
- Rueben Quesadillas
- And probably a lot of grilled meat with veggies.
Grocery Shopping is great, but to be super successful with your diet, you have to actually cook. ha! So, once I got home from the grocery store, the cooking began.
Last night we cooked:
- 10 filleted chicken breasts (making 20 filets) with lime and Grill Mates Mojito Lime Seasoning
- Blackened Salmon
- Filet Mignon (we probably have steak once every 3-4 weeks)
- Turkey Quinoa meatloaf
- Low-cal Italian Turkey Meatballs
Now, all I have to do is throw sides with everything and we’ve got plenty of lunches, snacks and dinners ready to rock!
Makes 4 servings
1 small head napa cabbage (about 12-16 leaves)
2 small carrots (I used the pre-schredded mix)
2 green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Visit theKitchn.com for more info and recipes.
I recently got a new cookbook called the Lazy Low Cal Lifestyle Complete Cookbook (does that say something about me? hah), and I am loving the creative simple recipe ideas – one of which is this recipe for Reuben Quesadillas.
- 1 Whole Wheat Tortilla
- Spicy Mustard (I like light thousand island!!)
- 1/2 c Shredded Swiss Cheese
- 8 oz Can of Sauerkraut, drained
- Four 1-oz slices of pastrami
Spray 1 side of the tortilla with Pam and place sprayed side down on skillet. Squirt the mustard on the tortilla and start layering the ingredients on one half of the tortilla, and fold in half. Heat it on medium and then flip.
For more great low-cal recipes, check out Becky Clark’s book:
Picture of Reuben Quesadillas
How much time and money have you wasted on trying the newest gadget, supplement, pill, bar, shake and diet that didn’t deliver or last anyway? We’ve all done it. We try the easiest way first. Then, when that doesn’t work, we try the next easy thing. But, after you’ve tried 10-20 short cuts, you finally resort to fitness. Yes, you finally try eat right and exercise. After you finally get results, you realize you could have saved a lot of time and money if you just lost the weight the right way the first time around.
So, essentially, exercise and diet IS the short cut. It’s the best way to get results fast – and to maintain those results. Sure, it’s not the easiest way, but not all short cuts are easy – but they can still be fast.
My mom tried everything in the book. She tried diet pills, diet programs, diet support groups, acupuncture – you name it, she tried it. She even tried to Jazzercise off the weight. Finally, in her fifties, she finally decided it was time to LEARN the right way to eat and exercise. She realized she had relied on gimmicks and rules for weight loss, not knowledge. It took some time and energy to learn everything she needed to do, but it worked.
She finally learned to eat smart, and not diet. She learned how to exercise right, and manage her weight by understanding the checks and balances of her body. She lost 100lbs. At 60 she finally got the results she’s always wanted.
Don’t be tempted to put fitness off as a last resort. It should be the first thing you try, not the last.
Here is my mom in 2003, before she tackled her weight, and now (with my dad) at the gym. So proud of both my parents. My dad put on 25lbs of muscle over the last 10 years, and they workout and run together on a regular basis. They may have waited until their late 50s to get fit, but they have successfully reinvented themselves and are living the fit life in their 60s! They prove it’s never too late to do it right! Love you guys!!!!!!
I’m too old
My stomach will never look like that
I bet she never had kids
I don’t have that kind of time
I have a full time job, plus 2 kids to raise
I don’t know what to do.
She was probably always fit
She’s probably a lot younger than me
She just has good genetics
I don’t have the discipline
I wouldn’t know what to eat
My body could never get that lean
I’ve never done anything like that before
I wouldn’t even know where to start…
These are all common excuses and comments I hear when people see a bikini or figure competitor. People almost talk themselves out of even wanting that kind of body – just because they don’t think it’s even achievable for them. However, Ursula Kepferer, knew what she wanted and she made the decision she was GOING to compete, no questions asked. No excuses.
Ursula, a 42 year old working mom, came to my husband Steve late last year and told him she wanted to do a competition in the spring. She had never done anything like that before, but she knew she needed to lose weight – and she knew a competition would force her to follow through. 30 pounds heavier than she is today, Ursula did everything Steve asked. Many times I would see her training with Steve in the gym, and I’d see the look on her face that said “I hate him right now”. No matter how tough the workout was, she never stopped and she never gave up. It wasn’t easy, but she always left proud (and little more fit) each day.
“Although most people realize what fitness can do for someone’s physique, I don’t think most people truly realize what training can do for their OWN body.”
She had a lot of fears and a lot of doubts I’m sure. Could she really do this? Would she be able to lose that much weight in 90 days. What would her skin look like? Could she get lean enough? What was hiding under that fat? Much of it was sort of a mystery.
When someone commits to being on stage in the smallest bikini they’ve ever worn, even thin people get nervous. You notice every little bit of cheese you still have no matter how fit you are getting. And when you are just starting out, you wonder if your butt will ever look OK in that teeny bikini bottom that you have to wear AND turn your back to the judges so they can examine it. THAT’s a frightening thought all by itself.
Although most people realize what fitness can do for someone’s physiques, I don’t think most people truly realize what training can do for their OWN body. I believe many people actually think their body is just built a certain way and they are stuck with it. That is SO untrue. Although you may be prone to easily build muscle or not, have a smaller waist or bigger hips, etc you CAN greatly improve your body no matter how it looks now. Fitness works for everyone.
On April 6th, Ursula found out just what her body was capable of. She hit the stage, admittedly shaken and nervous, but also excited. She did it. She crossed the finish line! All those cardios – were worth it. All the dieting – was worth it. Trusting her coach – was worth it. Following through – was worth it.
Ursula finished 1st in her class. But she says she’s wearing her real trophy, and that is so true. Your best reward is your new and improved body! Congrats Ursula!!
Fatcation: /fatˈkāSHən/ (n) While on vacation, you do more getting fat than sightseeing.
I just got back from a fatcation, I mean vacation. Vacations can be scary for dieters, but just because you go on vacation doesn’t mean you have to take a fitness vacation too. You can still have a ton of fun, try new foods and “cheat” while not completely losing your mind – and your progress.
Here are 6 tips to help control your vacation eating – and help you bounce back quickly once you get back home.
1. Taste, don’t gorge. More is not always better, but when you are on vacation, it’s fun to taste foods you normally don’t eat. Key word: Taste! Grazing all day is actually better than pigging out a couple of times a day. When you are on vacation, share plates and appetizers so you can taste more, but eat less.
2. Be picky. Just because something is sitting on a plate in front of you doesn’t mean you have to eat it. I actually ordered 3 meals that were a disappointment to me. After I tasted it and discovered it wasn’t what I hoped, I just opted to skip it altogether because it wasn’t worth the calories to me. If you are trying to lose weight, it pays to be picky. If it’s not worth 1-2 hours in the gym to burn off, then it’s not worth eating.
3. Make room for more calories. When I say “make room”, I’m talking about making room for more calories. We typically consume a lot more calories on vacation than we do when we are back in our normal routine at home. However, many times people workout less. If you are watching your weight, account for the extra calories you are eating and try to stay active so you can “afford” the extra calories. Whether you hit the hotel gym, go for a jog, or you just try to walk everywhere instead of taking a cab, increasing your activity while on vacation will help you decrease your chances for vacation weight gain.
4. What happens on vacation stays on vacation. What I mean is, the overeating, drinking, laziness, etc ends when your vacation ends. It’s very easy to let your vacation habits come home with you. Instead, make a mark in the sand and decide to jump right back to your normal routine as soon as you get back. So, as soon as you get home, hit the grocery store and start planning and cooking for the week so you are ready to eat clean again.
5. Forgive yourself. I’ll be honest, I feel fat as a cow right now. That’s how I FEEL. Is that reality? No. I know good and well there is no way I can erase months of training and hard work in just a few days. Can it set me back? Sure, but if I hit it hard (with both diet and training), I’ll be right back where I want to be in no time. That’s the reality. No matter how bad you feel, forgive yourself. Realize, it’s just a vacation. You deserved the break and, often times, you will even hit it HARDER when you get back. Ironically, it’s those kind of cheat days that can make you double your intensity and the drive you need to take your routine to a new level.
6. Set new goals and guidelines. In order to reach a goal, you need to have a goal to strive for. Once you’ve set a goal, you need to plan to get there and that requires setting some rules. Often times people set some pretty stiff rules but they have just as many exceptions as they do rules. For instance, they diet and train hard all the time except for special occasions or weekends. The problem is, many people have a lot of special occasions. Between dinner dates, birthdays, Holidays, events, etc – someone can easily have something that interrupts their routine every week if they are ont careful. My suggestion is to not allow for any cheating for 3-4 weeks so you get a really good powerful start. Then schedule one cheat day. Then go right back at it. Once you get closer to your goal, your cheat meals can be closer together. Setting rules like this keeps you accountable and on schedule to reach your goal.
It’s been so quiet here at PFITblog for the last week. Why? Because I was on VACAAAATION!! Woo Hoo! But now I’m back and I’m ready to type until my fingers bleed!
After our Team Max group (pictured above with me in the center) competed in the NPC Southeast Classic on April 6th, Steve and I jumped on a cruise ship and headed for Mexico. To be honest, I was a little nervous about going on vacation. Not because of the recent Carnival cruise disasters, but because I was afraid of the enormous amount of food I’d be facing and I didn’t want to blow all my hard work. Cruises are known for their never-ending buffets and all-you-can-eat gourmet meals.
On prior cruises, I remember the amazing food and knew I’d be tempted to go crazy. Surprisingly, either my taste buds have changed or my emphasis on food has changed. I honestly missed clean eating and was craving a simple grilled piece of meat and steamed vegetables. Everything was so oily and saucy. The chefs were clearly not concerned about my waistline.
Searching for the “Food High”
Everyone does it – it’s the search for a new “food high”. That’s that moment you’ve tasted something new or more amazing than ever before. The problem is, when you aren’t dieting, that food high can be harder to reach. But, when you eat clean (simple, healthy whole foods), you taste more of the actual food you are eating and rely less on all the sauces and fillers to entertain your tastebuds. As a result, even a little goes a long way. However, if you are eating rich foods all the time, you almost need even richer foods to wow you. It’s almost like a drug. The more you are used to, the more you need to taste to get your food high. However, if you eat clean, it takes very little to excite you.
Although I admit, I had enough chips and salsa to kill someone, the other thing I missed was smaller portions. Since I ate more than I would at home, my belly was constantly fuller. I am not just talking about my stomach, I’m talking about my entire gut. The more you eat, the more you digest. This alone makes you feel fat, even if you don’t gain one pound of fat. I tried to graze all day, but when it came to Mexico, I couldn’t stop eating the guacamole! ha!
After a day exploring Cozumel and tasting every pico, salsa & guac they had on the island, we ended at Three Amigos Restaurant, where we finished the night eating even MORE chips – and posing in this fun Three Amigos prop (left). Left to right: Dawn Borders, Christopher Borders & the last happy face is ME!
Lastly, sometimes it’s just best to say no. I don’t know why we feel the need to try everything. It’s almost like we are scared of missing out. I believe it is healthy to have limitations even when eating out or on vacation. Despite how much food I DID eat, I still had rules and still tried to improve my choices. For instance, I had 1/2 a burger with no bun, I tasted some fries but didn’t finish them. I ordered some spinach stuffed mushrooms but didn’t eat them all. I tasted desserts but only ate what I loved and ditched the rest. Most mornings I skipped over pancakes and greasy breakfast items for egg white omelets, ham and fruit. I still had PLENTY of goodies, and STILL overate, but my “going crazy” still had limits.
So, here I am, back at home sharing my experience with you. Although I am no longer on vacation, part of my vacation came home with me – and it’s time to shed my vacation fat and jump back into my healthier routine.
Check back tomorrow for my “6 Tips to Recover from Fatcation”!
Do you take a vacation from your diet when you go on vacation? Or do you still try to be good?
If you love your salty snacks at night, there are very few choices that may fit your caloric budget. Last night I was feeling adventurous. I looked in the refrigerator and took a mental note of what I had on hand. I was craving chips. Since I had zucchini, I googled “zucchini chips” and saw a few sites to give me some ideas. I didn’t measure anything or even read the full recipes. My thought was – how could you really go wrong?! And I was right!
I sliced zucchini up into very thin pieces. Sprayed pam on the pan and on the zucchini. Then I sprinkled garlic, sea salt, cracked pepper and parmesan cheese on top, baked on 425 for 20 minutes and BAM! I had my yummy loc cal snack! 1 whole zucchini is only 45 calories! It was a fun experiment.
Here are some fun recipes for veggie snacks:
3. Veggie Chips (roots like beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc)
4. Herbed Veggie Chips (zucchini, squash, sweet potato, carrots)
6. Carrot Chips
10. Beet Chips (saving the best for last! These are my FAV!!!)