Back on Track with Back to Basics: Nutrition Priorities

So, in between bites of cookies and swigs of eggnog, you might already be thinking ahead to January (or perhaps even thinking about strategies to get you through the holidays with your belt holes intact).  If you skip breakfast, does that mean you can go all out at the buffet?  If you have apple cider vinegar every morning, does it neutralize the calories in the apple pie?  What about your great-great-aunt’s schnitzel?  It has PROTEIN, right?  Protein is good! (?)

With the amount and complexity of nutrition information (often confusing and conflicting, too) swirling around on the internet these days, it’s easy to get overloaded and overwhelmed – so much so that you figure you might as well stick to the sticky buns, since it’s hopeless anyway.  I’m here to equip you with some sanity for the season.  I’m leveraging the great work done by Eric Helms of 3-D Muscle Journey to help you get clear on the most important nutrition fundamentals, IN ORDER.  You can see videos 1-5 on Facebook or my weekly Instagram video series.  Read on to dispel fiction from fact when it comes to the fundamentals of eating for your fitness.

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How-To: Halt Holiday Food Pushers in Their Tracks

Shhh…what’s the sound?  It’s the unmistakable “pop” of a Tupperware lid being cracked open in the office break room.  Then there’s the rustling of waxed paper and the crinkling of foil wrappers.  Next, the smell hits you.  Something sweet and buttery is wafting through the air.  A few notes of rich cocoa are mixed in as well, and wait, is that ground cloves?  You brace yourself with a forced smile.  You know who it is.  You know EXACTLY who it is.  Every year, like clockwork, they descend, with hints of flour in their hair and cheeks gleaming.  You’re not sure if it’s a twinkle in their eyes, or if it’s better described as a steely glint.  They are THE HOLIDAY FOOD PUSHERS.

They come without ribbons; they come without tags.  They come bearing packages, boxes and bags…and Tupperware containers full of fat- and sugar-laden, highly processed holiday sweets.  They seem to be bent on a mission to sabotage your health and fitness goals for the entire month of December.  What’s a busy professional to do?  You barely had time for the gym the rest of the year, so let’s face it, this month isn’t looking so good.  Keeping tabs on your eating choices was your one hope of still wearing pants for the last week of the month.

Never fear!  I shared my top tactical tips for halting holiday food pushers in their floury tracks on Facebook and my weekly Instagram video series. I’ll summarize it here for the literary types!

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Homemade Better-for-you Holiday Sweets

I know this tme of year gets even busier for busy professional working moms (just like me).  I was so busy that in last week’s post about Smart Strategies for Holiday Eating, I completely forgot to point out that you can also MAKE your own foods to BRING to the events.  When you’ve got better-for-you recipes like the ones I’m about to share, you can be confident in your food choices because you know exactly what is in them and just how delicious they are!  It’s so disappointing to “waste” calories on a sub-par goodie, isn’t it?  I’ve been known to (discreetly) spit out crappy chocolates and dry cookies.  If I’m eating it, it had better be DELICIOUS!

So, I assure you that all of the recipes that follow fit the bill for both better-for-you than their traditional counterparts AND delicious – AS delicious-tasting as the originals, if not MORE SO!  Some of the recipes are vegan, some are keto- and/or paleo-friendly and ALL of the recipes lack refined/processed sugar. I actually filmed full-length LIVE demos for FIVE of the recipes on  Facebook and I shared those same five recipes as my weekly Instagram video series.

Forgot about a class party?  Need to bring a dish to a potluck (as I suggested above)?  Just want to hide in the basement with some snacks until it’s all over?  I’ve got you covered!  For all of my recipes and MORE of my top picks from my favourite food bloggers, read on!

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Five Smart Strategies for Holiday Eating Events

Who else is full swing with “seasonal” celebrations? (Apparently they’re not called Christmas parties any more, even if that IS the reason for the celebration – and I’m hip to the fact that there is more than just Christmas to celebrate this time of year, with Hanukkah, Diwali, and even Festivus get-togethers under way.)  Anyhoo, no matter how you slice it or what you call it, there is at least one thing in common with these events, and it’s not the sub-par decor or even the questionable wardrobe choices that at least one attendee inevitably makes.

I’m talking about the FOOD (and the BOOZE)!  Food, food, glorious food!  All those “special” recipes get pulled out of the recipe box this year (do people still use recipe cards?  Do people still have recipe boxes?  Listen, young readers, Google it).  And again, what they all have in common seems to be a lot of refined, processed carbohydrates, extra FAT and extra calories.  Are you feeling freaked out about all that food and all those drinks?  Or maybe you just gleefully anticipate your “cheat MONTH” and figure you’ll deal with the fall-out in January.

Well, if you don’t want to completely abandon your health and fitness goals (or your non-elasticized waistbands), this week I’m sharing my top five strategies to eating (and drinking) at these events to stay sane, fit, healthy and happy in the holiday season, without the hangovers and food comas.  You can catch the Instagram video series, or find me on Facebook, too!

Ready?  It’s time to get tactical!

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Have Child(ren) – Will Exercise!

The title of this week’s post could also be “Five Ways to Sneak in Exercise When You Have Kid(s)” (it was a toss-up – let me know which one you think should have won!).

If you’ve got one child or three, you probably find yourself with less time (or at least less time flexibility) to exercise than you did in your pre-kid life (also known as “BC” – “before child(ren)” – welcome to “AD: after dependent(s)).  Going to the gym at 5am used to actually be a totally normal occurrence in my life (weird, I know).  Now sleep is more precious than gold (on the other hand, I know some parents who have embraced early-morning workouts in parenthood, since they’re up with the kids anyway!).  Or maybe scheduling didn’t matter so much – you could leave the house on a whim, totally unsupervised (you AND the house).  Now it’s major-league level logistics to coordinate who is doing what, where, when and with whom.

I’m here to offer up some strategies to get you (or keep you) moving.  Fitting into your pre-kids wardrobe is a great money-saver (and ego-booster), because time and money both seem to disappear more quickly when there are little people in the household (and no, I don’t mean Leprechauns!).  You can review this week’s Instagram video series (or get the videos in your Facebook newsfeed – be sure to choose “Follow” and “See First” to ensure you’re getting all of my latest and greatest FREE health & fitness content).  Or you can settle in right here with me for a read:

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Five Sneaky Ways to Get More Vegetables in Your Day

All right, it’s time for a show of hands.  How many of you have heard that eating more vegetables is part of a healthful diet?  Hmmm…okay, yup, just hold them up a minute or so longer while I count…ok.  You can put your hands down now.  Next, how many of you have heard that you shouldn’t eat vegetables?  <Crickets>.

Yup, it seems that your grandmother was right.  Even conflicting fad diets seem to embrace vegetables as a commonality.

So now that your shoulders and arms are all warmed up from that first round of hand-raising, let’s get ready for round two: how many of you are eating the recommended 5-10 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.  Oh, okay.  I hear you.  You *would* be, if only your kids (or yourself) liked vegetables more.  If only vegetables tasted more delicious.  If only they were convenient and accessible.

Well, then.  In case you missed this week’s Instagram video series (or scrolled past the videos in your Facebook newsfeed – be sure to choose “Follow” and “See First” to ensure you’re getting all of my latest and greatest FREE health & fitness content), here are my top five tips for busy professional working women to get their kids (and themselves) to eat more vegetables.

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Five Ways to Get In Charge of Your Appetite

I don’t know about you, but I just get so HUNGRY sometimes, like out of whack with what my actual needs are to fuel my body. And I realized that there can be “appetite triggers” around us that actually trick us into feeling hungry when we really physically do not need food (nasty devils, they are.  As if this whole “health and fitness” thing wasn’t challenging enough already!).

So, this week’s series is just for busy, professional working women (just like me!), and is all about ways to make your appetite, especially when you are trying to control your energy balance (see last week’s post to geek out on our energy needs) to lose weight or fat.  I’ve also posted the five points as a video series on Instagram and Facebook.  You can read the fine print, next!

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Five Sneaky Ways to Get More Activity in Your Day

Last week’s post on five family-friendly, delicious and nutritious recipes was a hit with my busy professional readers.  I decided to follow it up with the fitness portion of the health and wellness equation, since energy balance is all about both calories in (from food) and calories out (from our bodies’ processes and activities each day).

Are you ready for today’s science lesson?  The amount of energy we use each day is called our Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).  It’s not just about the numbers on the calorie counters at the gym or on your personal tracking device (both of which are notoriously inaccurate, by the way).  Nope, the bulk of calories we “burn” in a day aren’t in our Zumba class, but rather the normal daily biological functions that keep us alive and moving.  Things like breathing, digesting our food and thinking.  Even sleeping!  The amount of energy it takes to keep our bodies functioning each day is called our basal metabolic rate (BMR) or resting metabolic rate (RMR).  The fact that it takes energy to break down our food for use in our bodies is captured in the thermic effect of eating (TEE).  And of course we know that we use energy when we hit the gym or do another kind of workout or class – that’s physical activity (PA).  But then we have all of the movement we undertake each day that’s not part of our formal exercise routine.  We get out of bed, we brush our teeth, we walk from Point A to Point B, and back to Point A because we forgot why we went to Point B in the first place (or wait, is that just me?).  Yup, all this movement adds up!  It’s the non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).  So TDEE = BMR + TEE + PA + NEAT.  Neat, right?  NEAT, indeed!

This post is all about ways to increase your NEAT and get more activity into your already busy day.  Read on!

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Five Family-Friendly Healthy Recipes

Are you ready for the hands-on portion of the class?  I write about a lot of theory, and I decided it was time to get back to my roots (and I don’t mean my hair) – if you didn’t know, this blog actually started mainly with recipes for meals and snacks!  Since I am committed to helping busy professional working mothers to lose fat (and all other comers are welcome, too!), I thought it would be practical to share some of my latest and greatest delicious and nutritious recipes.  These are all kid- and husband-tested and approved.

I’ve taken some of the Golden Graham family favourites – a lot of these are updated, more healthful versions of perennial favourite foods like pizza or burgers.  They are delicious AND nutritious, and I especially love them because they can be on the table in 20-30 minutes (or faster, if you do some make-ahead prep – my top prep tips are here).  You’ll definitely want to pin or bookmark this page for easy reference for these recipes to keep you winning the weeknight dinner wars!

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How-To: Improve Your Nutrition (Without Changing Your Food Choices)

Hello and welcome to Monday!  As we kick off the week, I invite you to start where you are.  I mean, honestly where else CAN you start?  If you want to pursue a vegan, raw, macrobiotic, alkaline diet but you’ve currently got a three-a-day Twinkies & Diet Coke habit, then let’s honour THAT.  Quite frankly, you HAVE to start where you are, because well, it’s where you are.  I’m excited for the science of dual-locality, but until we get there, let’s ditch the thought of doing a complete dietary overhaul every Monday morning, only to find ourselves barely hanging on come Thursday (or Wednesday.  Or even Monday night).

I’m a big advocate for going after “low-hanging fruit” – and not just in literal orchard-picking.  In any endeavour, these are the “easy wins,” the “no brainers” – if there was something EASY you could do to move the dial just a little bit in your favour, wouldn’t you turn that dial?  If you’re trying to make a million dollars today, would you turn down someone who offered you $5?  Nonsense!  Maybe that’s exactly how you’re going to get to $1  million!  Two hundred thousand people are going to give you $5.  Who are you to turn them down?

So, in that same spirit, I’ve come up with five easy ways to improve your nutrition without even touching on your food or portion choices.  As per usual, I’ve made really EASY, digestible (pun totally intended) videos on my Instagram (and also put those same videos on Facebook to make it EXTRA easy for you).  Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, as my seven-year-old would say (another saying that’s made its way into my household with no clue as to its origin.  Cute, but not mine.  The saying, I mean.  Not the kid.  He’s cute and TOTALLY mine).

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