healthy living

No Time to Cook? My Top 5 Meal Planning Hacks

No Time to Cook? My Top 5 Meal Planning Hacks

You have to plan it into your life. There’s no easy way around it. If being healthy matters to you, if you’re over the muffin top, if you’re over living in a haze of life, you have to put in the effort. 

It's Time For Salads

I swear as soon as it gets semi-warm in San Diego, any desire I have to cook goes out the freaking window. I can’t be the only one right? Like the prospect of standing in front of a hot stove or having the oven on sounds horrid. 

I mean after a long day at the pool or the beach, who wants to have a hot meal? No thanks. I would totally rather have something cooling, with lots of fruits and veggies. Lucky for me, the warm weather also brings my favorite rock fruits into season, and I’m a totally sucker for some fruits in a salad. I do realize that fruits in a green salad are an acquired taste, so if this isn’t your jam, I totally get it. 

But if it is your jam, then you’re totally in luck. Grab the recipe and be prepared for a flavor explosion.

The best part about this one for me was the versatility of having it as either a full meal or as a starter or side salad. I added in chicken to turn it into a full meal (because I had leftover grilled chicken) but you could also do grilled shrimp or even grilled salmon. And you know if you try these things out, or even something else (like maybe steak) and it works out well, I totally want to know about it!

Enjoy!

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How Do You Use Your Fear?

This is going to seem like it’s totally out of left field, but go with me. Do you know who Cus D’Amato is? Don’t go Googling him just yet, I’ll tell you the little bit that I know and why he fascinates me. He was a boxing trainer and boxing manager who trained heavy weight champion Mike Tyson as well as Olympic gold medalist Floyd Patterson. Side note, one of his methods of training was hypnosis.

Anyways, D’Amato was known not just for his unorthodox training methods but also for his quotes, one in particular (it’s super famous and I put the full quote below for your reading pleasure) that speaks about fear and how fear can work to your advantage if you understand it.

I think fear is a predominate force that holds people back, myself included. I remember the first time my PT said I could walk again (without assistance), took my boot and told me to walk. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life. I thought my whole foot would crumble, I thought I was going to fall, I thought I would FAIL. But I took that first step because I had the support of my PT beside me and I told her what was scaring me. 

I think fear is what holds people back from losing weight or incorporating healthy living as a way of life and not just a pipe dream. The actual reasons behind the fear are different depending on the person, but it’s fear nonetheless.

Ultimately it’s fear of the unknown. Unhealthy living is still living after all, not to your fullest potential, but it’s something you become comfortable with like you would an old friend. We get used to feeling like shit, being sluggish and tired, having that roll of fat that pooches over your pants and then we make up excuses for it. Trust me, I’ve heard every excuse under the sun. Everything from “I can’t do it”, to “my body won’t lose weight”, to “I’m just a thick girl”.

 I know that what’s really behind those excuses is the fact that changing is scary. That anticipation of what could be is terrifying, you don’t know what will happen on the other side of things so it’s easier to just stay where you are.

So it’s easier to just stay where you’re at and continue complaining. But here’s the thing: if you can understand what’s holding you back, if you can understand where those excuses are coming from, then you can use that fear to propel you past the excuses and into a healthy life.

Harness your fear and what’s holding you back and turn it into a strength, then all of a sudden the excuses that used to work won’t work and you’ll be well on your way to your healthiest and happiest existence.

Here’s D’Amato’s full quote:

“You must understand fear so you can manipulate it. Fear is like fire. You can make it work for you; it can warm you in the winter, cook your food when you’re hungry, give you light when you’re in the dark and produce energy. Let it go out of control and it can hurt you, even kill you…fear is a friend of exceptional people.” – Cus D’Amato

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I Quit My Job

I quit my job so I could work out more. I’m only half kidding because having the flexibility to make working out a priority that didn’t have to happen at 6am was awesome.  

But here’s what I figured out about myself: I come from this long line of super kick ass, extremely empowered and progressive women. I’m sure I’ll write about it more in depth another time, or maybe do a live on the good ol’ Gram, but I have been blessed to have amazingly influential women in my life. 

Their influence helped me realize that everything I did in my life, from my first job out of college, to getting into the fitness industry and eventually expanding that into an online platform has all been with the same underlying goal: to help as many women around me as I can realize and step into their badass potential.

When I began working with victims of violence all those years ago, that was what I looked forward to the most. Obviously, a LOT of things had to take place in order to get each woman to that point. For some women, it unfortunately didn’t happen while I was working with them. But I was blessed to be a part of so many journeys that started with a woman in arguably the worst place in her life on every level, where the priority was truly safety and survival, and ended with her feeling like she had her life back.

I used to tell the survivors I worked with that I wanted to know where they ended up and there was nothing that felt better than having a survivor come into my office telling me she got her first job since she couldn’t remember when, that she was going back to school, or that she finally found herself again.

It was never the words that moved me. It was always the aura around them, the energy that moved with them, the confidence they gave off that would leave me feeling this tremendous sense of gratitude that I played such a small role in this life changing transformation.

When I decided to take the leap, leave my cushy corporate job and pursue fitness as a full time gig, it was because of that feeling. I love seeing the people I’m training gain their healthy back, gain their sexy back, lose weight and feel better. That air of confidence was the same and I got to sit back and say yep I helped out in that person’s journey.

The job might change, it might evolve but the mission stays the same: help as many women as I can realize their true potential.

Because the confidence you gain when you train with me is the confidence that translates into the boardroom, into your parenting, into your relationship, into every single other thing you do.

There’s nothing better than seeing someone walk out of a workout or hang up from a call with their head a little higher, their spine a little straighter and their smile a little brighter.

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Do You Love Yourself?

I was talking to a friend recently who didn’t know that much about my history. She didn’t know about my foot, or the litany of other injuries I had, and when I started delving into things she said “damn girl, you’ve got a lot of stuff wrong with you, how did you get to that point?” 

I could go through the specific exercises that caused injury, you know the practicality of it, like what I was doing at the time that caused the injury. But I feel like that would take too long. Because here’s the thing: how I did all the things doesn’t really matter, all of my major injuries all happened in succession in a few years directly following my foot and there was an undercurrent of commonality amongst all of them. I didn’t love myself.

That’s a really hard thing for me to right. I know I didn’t though. I thought I could just push my body to the point of injury because I had already been through worse, so nothing else could be as bad right? It didn’t matter that I was young and had my whole life ahead of me (and totally wasn’t thinking about how chronic pain would look as a longevity issue). I didn’t love myself enough to be compassionate to myself. 

When I coach people, I notice the same thing. We are more often than not cruel to ourselves. We very rarely show ourselves the love that we need in order to experience the growth we’re seeking. I know there’s a lot of contributing factors to mindsets like this, I know because I know what’s contributed in my life to my own mindset and I know now how important it is to do the work to shut that inner critic up.

It’s not an overnight process either. You have to first recognize the negative things that are even coming through in your thought process before you can begin the process of changing anything. Once you recognize what those thoughts tend to be, you have to do your due diligence to replace those negative thoughts with something more positive, and then you have to KEEP DOING IT. Which is easier than it sounds.

Because at first, you’re going to go back to the negative thoughts quickly and you might not even find anything positive to say to yourself because the negative thoughts are such an easy fall back. It’s muscle memory, your brain as a muscle is geared towards a certain line of thought and if you are used to telling yourself how much you suck or some variation of that, then that’s where your mind is going to go.

You have to keep at it. You have to keep shoving those positive thoughts into your conscious train of thought until you think you’re going to explode into rainbows and sunshine. And then you do it again, you do it more, you just keep at it.

Now when I exercise the positive thoughts are like second nature to me. Whenever something gets hard, whenever I want to quit, I have certain things I instantly go to in my head to push through whatever I’m doing. 

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking well dang I have nothing positive to tell myself. Which I get because if you’ve never done this before it is super weird, we’re not accustomed to celebrating our victories.

The easiest way that I got into the groove of celebrating my achievements was by writing them down. Seriously. I sat down with my journal and I wrote down 100 things I have achieved throughout my life. From the little things like learning how to French braid my hair, to the big things like scholarships, graduating college, learning how to drive.

Celebrate all your victories and relish in the fact that you are totally unique. One of one. Then the next time you’re working towards your goals in a workout or in the board room, you’ll find how much easier it is to show yourself the love you deserve.

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What Do You Need Today?

Some days I just need to slow down. I know you know that feeling. When your body is literally telling you to stop and take a breath because you’ve been going a mile a minute with no end in sight. I mean I get it, life is crazy and there’s always something that needs to get done or something that needs to be taken care of for someone.

I’m not saying that taking a break means that you neglect your responsibilities. Far from it. I’m saying that taking a break needs to be an opportunity for you to rejuvenate.

With self-care being the hotness, I feel like people everywhere are toting this verbiage of doing what’s the best for you. To me, that’s not what self-care means.

Back in the day, I couldn’t give myself a break even if I tried. When I was really active in CrossFit, and then again post baby when I was trying my hardest to lose weight and feel good again, the thought of taking time off was non-existent. It was one of those ‘well that’ll be a nice thing to have in the future when I’ve reached my goals’ kind of thought.

I let my ego get in the way, along with my pride. I felt like taking a break meant I was weak or that I didn’t take the goals I set for myself as seriously as other people took their goals. Like one day off would circumvent any progress I had made. 

I realize that sounds a little ridiculous but that’s where my head was at. Like I didn’t deserve to take a second to myself, I had to do everything by myself AND I still had to workout like a fiend so I could hit my fitness goals. I was lucky because I didn’t hit burn out. Most people do. That kind of pace isn’t sustainable nor is it realistic for the majority of the population.

But you know what happened? I didn’t have some major epiphany or some major meltdown (thank GOD), but I started regressing. Not giving my body the rest it needed, meant that my body couldn’t perform in the manner I wanted it to because I was too exhausted. The feedback I received from my body was to stop if I wanted to get stronger. Take a break if I wanted to see change.

I could spout off all this stuff about how I had to let go of my ego and my pride, I had to do the work to realize that I was worth the break, my body deserved the rest and all that stuff. But I won’t. I won’t because that wasn’t how it happened. I had to give myself the rest because I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t performing to the degree I wanted to, and I had to let that rest show me that it wasn’t going to undo the progress I already made. After I saw that taking a break was not going to undo everything I had already done, that I actually felt better, then I started to do all that internal work (with the help of a coach).

This is why when I coach, I encourage my clients to listen to what their bodies are telling them. Know that there is always an option that will work the best for you and it doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing. Learn the difference between doing what you want and doing what you need, and take ownership in doing what you need. There’s power in listening to what you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So when you want to go hard, go for it but when you need to slow down, go for that too.

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Snacks are My Favorite

Ok I want to break down this practical side of healthy living a little more than I did in my last post. Especially when it comes to food. Because I really do feel like that’s where most people struggle and that’s the part that truly makes the biggest difference. It’s that whole saying of “abs are made in the kitchen” ya know? As much as I am not a fan of that saying because it just sounds kind of dumb to me, it does hold merit. At the end of the day, nothing that you’re doing as far as your fitness will make any difference, you won’t see any gains in any way, if your nutrition isn’t on track.

I’m definitely not saying that you have to be SO rigid that you can’t enjoy life. I don’t feel like that’s a realistic way to live either. What I have seen is that when people cut out one thing or another as a means of “dieting” and not a nutritional necessity (like an allergy for instance), as soon as they can get access to the thing they cut out, they binge on it. Like hardcore binge. And then there’s hardcore guilt that follows and ultimately what happens in this cycle is a horrible relationship with food.

But then if the goal is a healthy lifestyle, where you’re eating in moderation for everything you consume, how do you actually make sure that you’re able to do that well? Like how do you avoid eating the sleeve of girl scout cookies because that’s all you see in your house when you’re super hangry? 

You know the answer. You have to have the healthy options available. But I would take that even a step further and say that you have to have the healthy options available and prepped. Here’s why: either you’re going to be so hangry that you don’t FEEL like prepping anything or the prospect of having to cook something sounds annoying AF, or you’re going to be running late out the door to get your kids to whatever activity they have and realize not only that you don’t have snacks prepped but you’ve run out of time to do anything about it.

Life for all of us runs at 120 MPH most of the time, so we have to put conscious thought into what we’re putting in our bodies. It can’t be a second guessed choice, or a last minute decision. That’s when you spend a ton of cash getting something when you’re out that’s “healthy” or you’re shoveling whatever you can find in your mouth. Either option isn’t the best option for you.  

I know I said this in the last post about being intentional with meal prepping but it comes to snack prepping as well. But it’s not just making sure that you have the snacks in the house. Pre-portion it out so you don’t have to think about what you’re grabbing when you running out of the door. Make sure that you have the accompanying dip or whatever pre-portioned out as well. It sounds so small but it ends up being so big.  

So have the baby carrots, the apple slices (pro tip: a little squeeze of lemon spread out in the baggie helps to keep them from turning brown), cucumber slices, cheese slices, or whatever else it is that you like in baggies and ready to go. But also make sure that you have nut butter, tzatziki, hummus, shoot even Ranch dressing also ready to go in little Tupperware containers. Take the guess work out of it. Take the thought out of it and you won’t have to worry about falling into temptation or spending your whole paycheck on something you didn’t really want in the first place.

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The Practical Side of Healthy Living

Ok let’s get off of this mindset stuff for a hot second. I definitely realize the importance of it. Don’t get me wrong, when people talk about achieving healthy living as a lifestyle choice, mindset is the majority of the battle. It seems insignificant but really it’s huge. Because if your mind isn’t right, you’re not going to feel ok with making the decision to have self-care, you won’t feel right exercising, and it’ll be way easier to fall into the excuses trap then it will be to do the work.

I’m sure we’ll get back to that topic soon. I’m already thinking of stuff while I write this post in fact.

But I wanted this post to be more about the practicality of healthy living. I think a lot of people think that having a healthy lifestyle is super hard, it’s expensive or really time consuming. They’re comparing their journey unfairly to the famous person or influencer in social media who has a personal trainer coming to their house on the daily, and has a private chef. For the majority of the population, this isn’t how healthy living gets achieved. I mean girl if your goal is to have a private chef, I’m SO here for that. In fact, just plan on inviting me over for dinner ok?

I’m all about how it will work from a logistical standpoint, but I’m like that with most of my life. When you get hurt and you’re wheel chair bound, you begin to look at life like the game of Tetris. Like how are all these things going to fit together? How will I move through this activity to the next, what will I need, that sort of thing. 

That line of thinking for me was only reinforced when I had a baby and had to think about all the things that could happen once we left the house. It’s like contingency plans on contingency plans, constantly trying to mitigate any risk or pain in the ass complicated situation you can come up with.

Obviously I’m a planner as a result and that extends to healthy living. I can’t second guess this stuff. Partly because I don’t have the time and partly because I know if I don’t have a plan, that’s when the bad decisions are made. So I plan. Not crazy but I definitely do plan.

Part of that means planning out what my family will have for dinner during the week. So ya that does mean taking an hour of my time, usually while I watch Grey’s Anatomy (you’re welcome), and coming up with recipes, or taking note of recipes I want to cook that week and making the corresponding grocery list from there. I’ve taken it a step further recently to include what snacks we will be having as well, and including those ingredients on my list. It just takes the thought out of it. I know what options I have for dinner, sometimes I pre-plan to the day if I know I’ll be out at night, and I know I have everything I need already in my house. 

The other thing I plan are my workouts. This is a little more challenging because some of my workouts are planning for classes I teach or people I train privately, and some workouts are for my head more than my body (like yoga), and some workouts are just to sweat. But even then I know what is going to happen each day for that workout and I have it in my calendar. I have the time blocked out and I also have a back up workout just in case my original plan doesn’t work out. Working out because it happens more often than me going grocery shopping needs more options, more flexibility and more patience on my part. Because life is going to happen and things will change, but ultimately if I can get my workout handled at some point during the day, then all is good.

I’m not the type to stress buying this thing or that, or for a person to do this kind of exercise or that, but I do believe that we all deserve to feel our best. If taking an hour out of your day once a week and doing those things means I’ll feel better in the long run then for me, it’s an hour well spent.

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I'm Gonna Go There

Ok I’m going to go there. Some of you might not like this one, so fair warning with it, but I feel like with all I talk in regards to healthy living and balance, it’s worth addressing. Obviously I’m a huge proponent in having a coach to help support you and guide you when it comes to meeting the goals you’ve set for yourself in regards to healthy living. Maybe it is a balance issue, maybe you’re wanting to lose weight, whatever your end game is, a coach is for sure beneficial. A coach is 1000% (yes there’s an extra zero there) that person who can look at your life and tell you where to make changes so you can get the results you’re craving. A coach is that outside person who can call you on your bullshit as well. Because we all have excuses that hold us back. Coaches are invaluable, shoot I have a coach and will always have a coach. I need my person to tell me when I’m full of it, but also cheer me on when I do something well.

Here’s the thing though: even with a coach, at the end of the day girl it’s all on you. It’s still ultimately your choice as far as what you are going to do to get better. I’ve had this tremendous opportunity in my life to be a coach to all kinds of people. I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of injuries, all different stages of life, all different goals and many different priorities. It’s been the best experience of my life to play a role in strengthening the individuals around me.

But ultimately it’s not even me doing anything. I mean obviously I have tools in my tool box that you don’t have, that’s just the nature of the beast. I’ll share everything I have, every tool, every piece of knowledge I’ve gained over all these years of experience. I’m more than happy to pay all of this forward. I mean after all, I’m doing nothing if I’m sitting on all of this knowledge and not sharing it with the people around me.  

Even then, it’s still all on you. Because if you’re not willing to show up for yourself, if you’re not willing to commit to yourself, then nothing will change. You won’t see anything improve or have any kind of transformation because you haven’t taken any action. It’s not some like magical thing that will just happen through osmosis. You still have to do the work.

A lot of the time doing the work is more than just doing the exercises and eating well. Doing the work is understanding what’s holding you back from taking action in the first place. It’s scary to learn about that aspect of yourself. To learn what your excuses are and why you have them in the first place, and then work through them. I mean dang girl, it can for sure take you to some unexplored areas of your mind but in the end it’s worth it.

In the end, it makes doing the work a whole hell of a lot easier. It makes taking action towards achieving your goals that much simpler. The work won’t seem as daunting, your coach won’t seem as annoying, and you’ll be able to find motivation you didn’t know you had.

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Sophrosyne

I talked about this on a live last month, and I’ve posted about in on IG (oh the Gram), but I felt like it was worthwhile to expand upon in here too. Only because so many people have contacted me about this whole concept of sophrosyne.

I know. Fancy. I’m not one for fancy words but I’m totally one to geek out on concepts that are so applicable to all people all of the time. And the Greeks are super smart with ideas that were applicable back then and now as well.

Basically the idea of sophrosyne is the idea of moderation. It’s knowing what you need verses what you want, and how you create a healthy lifestyle around that difference. It’s that idea that once you know why you over indulge on something, you’ll be able to make a different decision because you’ll understand why you’re making that decision in the first place.

I think when most of us are presented with this idea, we think about either what we’re eating or our fitness. It makes sense to me that our minds would go to those two things because those are two things that are directly correlated with healthy living that can be quickly screwed up when it comes to healthy living. 

But doing that deep dive to understand why you’re reaching for the second piece of cake when you don’t really NEED it, or why you’re working out 4 hours a day when really 1 hour would suffice is hard. It means looking at aspects of yourself that maybe aren’t the most flattering or working through things that have happened in your life that maybe aren’t the prettiest.

It means you have to get uncomfortable. I mean right? Addressing these issues makes us have some icky feelings below the neck. Maybe our chest feels tight, maybe our breathing changes or we get clamy hands or all of those things happen at once. It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard, it makes us cry, it pisses us off but it’s so freaking necessary.

Not just for your growth and development as a human so you can be a better member of the community around you, but also for your own self worth and self love. It’s so you know when you go out to dinner and opt for the decadent mac n cheese instead of the salad that you won’t be beating yourself up about it later. It’s also knowing that you don’t need to finish the dish when you feel full. For me, it was giving myself rest days when I was actively trying to lose weight so my body could recover and embracing those rest days. Like going into true and full sloth mode and loving it because before I would berate myself for not working hard enough. I thought it would set me back and I would never lose the weight.

Healthy living really is about not just the choices you are making for yourself but also how you feel about those choices. Every choice. Down to your midnight snack choice. It’s knowing what serves you and what is a disservice to you and it’s being ok with those things. Because having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you cut out all those things that you’ve loved before (like your lazy days), but it’s having the reassurance in yourself that those are not things you need to survive. That you can have some of all the things and be happy.

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