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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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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Hallmarks of a Good Nutrition Coaching Program

As you may or may not know, I’ve decided to further invest in my education.  On top of my certification as a CanFitPro Personal Training Specialist, I felt led to deepen my knowledge, understanding and teaching of nutrition.  How many times have you heard, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” or, “Results are 80% nutrition”?  To that end, I am pursuing my Level 1 Certification from Precision Nutrition.   So far, everything I’m learning really resonates with me in terms of what I have experienced to be true about my own journey with nutrition.  From a coaching perspective, I shared on my Instagram video series (and my videos on Facebook), five hallmarks of a good nutrition coaching program.

Regardless of the type of food (vegan, vegetarian, non-GMO, organic, processed, paleo, etc.) or approach (intermittent fasting, mini meals, etc.), the COACHING to support good nutrition should exhibit the five characteristics that follow.

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How-To: Make Healthful Meals FAST!

One of the top challenges I am asked about is how to prepare healthful meals QUICKLY (or fast, but that’s not grammatically sound and I am nothing if not a grammar nerd!).  So, I thought I would write a post (and create an Instagram video series) on my top five tips for quick and easy meals that are also delicious AND good for you!  This is a great addition (if I do say so myself) to my How-to series, including How-To Plan and Prepare Healthy Meals and How-To Make & Eat Healthy Snacks at Home and On the Go!

With no further ado, let’s go with my top five tips, and I’ve even tried to order them from least expensive (in terms of both money AND effort) to most expensive:

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How-To: Track Your Macros (IIFYM a.k.a. Flexible Dieting)

Image source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Sys5vdIVsJ4/Uh_StNxnLSI/AAAAAAAACwQ/-6XvxkVTZPk/s1600/fe480cea0cb211e3bd6322000a1fa42a_7.jpgAlright.  You’ve heard about it.  You’ve seen the acronym a few too many times, and far too many photos in your Instagram feed of “bikini athletes” mowing their way through deep-dish pepperoni pizzas as part of their show prep.  If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is a food/nutrition/diet movement that looks at food at the macronutrient level: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. P-C-F, in IIFYM short-hand.

Image source: http://itsvmfitness.blogspot.kr/2013/08/a-closer-look-at-iifym-if-it-fits-your.htmlThere is no more “clean” food vs. “junk” food or “good” food vs. “bad” food.  No more cheat days or treat days; no “earning” carbs or calories.  Food is food.  From an apple to an anchovy, a chicken breast to a Cheez-It, all food is comprised of the same three basic macronutrients (yes, there are also micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals to consider, but we’ll worry about that later).  The idea is that your body needs a certain personalized ratio of these three macronutrients for optimal performance and body composition.  Figure this out and then make small changes over time and you can reap lasting changes in your strength, physique and body composition.

This post is NOT about figuring out YOUR personalized macronutrient ratios.  There are other websites for that and frankly, that can actually be the easy part.  The harder part (as always) is putting information into action and taking the steps to actually eat the desired/required macronutrients in the run of a day (or week).  The only way to know whether you’re actually doing this is to TRACK WHAT YOU ARE EATING.  Everything you’re eating and ALL of what you are eating.  THAT is what this post is about.

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How-To: Plan and Prepare Healthy Meals

Image source: http://averyleighdesigns.com“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  This axiom is attributed variously to the late war-time British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and to self-help guru Alan Lakein.  Regardless of who said it, it rings true in many realms, not the least of which is health and wellness.  “Fitness starts in the kitchen,” is another popular adage.  I believe both of these statements to be patently true, especially when you are first starting out with healthy eating and active living.

Changing habits is hard work, and until better-for-you choices become reflexive and automatic (this comes with experience and practice), it can be nice to set yourself up for success in as many ways as possible.  Planning and preparing for healthy meals (and snacks) can help to take the guesswork out of your day and help you to make good decisions when hunger pangs strike you at 2:43pm on your way past the vending machine (or even 2:43am when the middle-of-the-night-munchies strike).  Being able to get healthy, family-friendly meals on the table in less time than it takes for the pizza delivery to arrive also means that you will be less likely to pick up the phone for takeout in the first place!

This post is dedicated to bringing you guidelines, tips, tricks and suggestions for healthy meal planning and preparation.  This will support your wellness goals and hopefully save your sanity during the weekday dinner rush!

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How-To: The Science of Healthy Snacking

Image source: fao.orgSo, you want to learn MORE about healthy (or “healthful”) snacking? (For the grammar buffs, healthful snacks make healthy people).  I’ve already given you lots of great healthy snack ideas, but just what is it that makes a particular snack choice “healthy” or at least “healthier than” other snack choices?  A lot of this is unique to each of us as an individual and varies depending on time of day, previous and anticipated energy expenditures and type of exercise, etc., etc.  But without writing a dissertation (although you might want to pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee because there is a lot of great reading ahead), here are some general guidelines and principles that can help you to plan, pick and prepare better-for-you snacks, even in a pinch!

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How-To: Make & Eat Healthy Snacks At Home and On the Go!

Let’s face it: we’re ALL busy.  Busy at home, busy at work, busy with friends, busy with family.  Busy, busy, busy!  Sometimes the closest I get to three “square” meals a day are the square Tupperware containers I use to transport my meals on the run.  For many of us, gone are the days of leisurely sit-down family meals with lots of time to prep, cook, eat and clean up after them.

So, what fills the gap?  SNACKS!  And lots of experts in the realms of nutrition, dietetics and fitness advocate for eating more frequent mini-meals (a.k.a. snacks) throughout the day as a great way to keep your metabolism up and running and to keep you from getting over-hungry between meals (and therefore stave off over-eating at those meals).  And, if you’re anything like me, I can’t really go more than 3 hours without eating without getting seriously “hangry” (an angry state brought on by being hungry: hungry + angry = HANGRY).  Snacks are my anger (and hunger) management solution!

This post is dedicated to bringing you guidelines, tips, tricks and suggestions for healthy snack options at home and on the go!  I’ll start with a host of healthy snack suggestions then you can choose to read on for some of the science behind healthy snacking.  This will kick-start your learning to help you determine satisfying, nutritious and delicious snacks on your own!

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