healthy lifestyle

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. 

Want to Lose Fat? My Top 4 One Pan Meals to Get You There Faster

Losing weight can be one of the hardest things we ever have to do. Not just because we want that instant gratification of the weight coming off easily and quickly, which I can appreciate but also because most of us don’t have a shit ton of time to dedicate TO our weight loss. 

Here’s the thing: the weight didn’t come on overnight so it’s not going anywhere overnight. Especially not if you’re wanting to maintain the weight loss and if you’re looking to lose the weight in a healthy manner. That alone is freaking frustrating af. Because you’re over it. You’re over your clothes feeling uncomfortable, you’re over not wanting to be in the family picture because you don’t like how you look and dang girl, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone tell you that your ass looks good in those yoga pants?

There are SO many factors that go into weight loss. I won’t get into all of them here, but please know that it really is an individual journey. And that individual journey can definitely have some peaks and valleys, so when you get to the point where you want to lose weight and cut the fat off your body (with your own knife if you could) know that you’re also embarking on a journey of patience and self love. 

Here’s the other thing: if you’re an adult with adult responsibilities, you probably don’t have a ton of time to be dedicating to your workouts everyday, meal planning might go to shit sometimes and really life is going to get in the way. 

Discouraging huh?

It doesn’t have to be. I think it means being a little more diligent towards the choices you’re making that will set you up for success. Like knowing what’s for dinner, having snacks prepped, knowing when you’re going to work out and what that workout will be (and maybe having a back up plan just in case). If you want to have a healthy lifestyle you can’t just WILL it into place, you have to put it in place. But once you get those habits under control, I think you’ll be shocked with how easy it is to actually maintain it. 

So start with dinner planning. Grab the downloadable and have that be a few of your dinner options during the week. Then decide if you want to prep everything over the weekend or if you’re good waiting until the day of to go to the store and get everything you need. 

Just like that you’re one step closer towards living a healthier life, one step closer to making yourself a priority and one step closer to losing the weight you’ve been wanting to lose. 

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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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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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The Power of Starting Your Day Off Right

My husband started doing this thing awhile ago that literally had me thinking he was crazy. He started setting an alarm and waking up before everyone else in the house. His reasoning? He wanted to have time to ease into his day, he wanted to have time to himself to drink a hot cup of coffee and read, pretty much he wanted time to himself before the craziness of the day kicked in.

I could appreciate that. Because the days are crazy and there’s nothing worse than getting slammed out of bed, having to hit the ground running first thing in the morning. But when he started doing this, I was still in such a point of pain and my sleep at night was suffering SO much that the thought of setting an alarm to go off even earlier was like sheer torture to me. Any extra sleep I could get was a luxury, and mind you Grace was sleeping through the night at this point. But I wasn’t. My back was in so much pain, it was so inflamed that I would wake up on a good night at least once in pain to the point I couldn’t move, and it would take me at least an hour to go back to sleep. I went to bed exhausted and I was waking up exhausted.

Here I was thinking post foot injury that it would be my foot that would cause me the most amount of grief, when in reality, post partum, my back was worse than a hot mess. A hot mess express perhaps? I was listening to my doctor who was telling me to focus on core exercises to help support my low back help, which of course made intuitive sense to me as a Pilates instructor. But the pain was going nowhere fast and as anyone with chronic pain can attest, when you have chronic pain, it literally impacts every single aspect of your life. Not just your body and how it functions but EVERYTHING. 

So no way in HELL was I going to be setting an alarm. I was looking to sleep in, I was looking to wake up feeling refreshed. I kept at it with the core exercises, I was already eating clean AF so I wasn’t too concerned about eating foods that were anti-inflammatory (because I already was) and I just waited for things to change. It killed me, this waiting around. 

Finally after a few months of doing Isagenix, with my digestion back to normal and the toxins leaving my body at a rapid pace, I slept through the night for the first time since I had Grace. It was over two years and I remember waking up thinking “Whoa, WTF just happened?”. I felt like a freaking human again and it was the BEST FEELING EVER. I finally felt like myself. I finally looked like myself because while I didn’t lose a lot of weight (I lost my baby weight ironically super fast, but the inflammation that stayed around made me look like I hadn’t lost anything), I had lost my muscle tone and I had ENERGY. Chronic pain is this sneaky thing because it takes so much energy for your body to be in a constant state of pain that you’re left feeling depleted constantly. Combo that with the sleep deprivation of having a newborn child and it’s a recipe for disaster. I’m not kidding when I say I was so tired and run down, that I would drive to places, park my car and then wonder how I got there because I couldn’t remember the drive.

But now I felt like I had my life back. I can’t even begin to explain to you the relief I felt. It was like the clouds parted and freaking angels were singing from the heavens. It was only then that I felt like ok maybe I COULD set an alarm and get up before the rest of my house so I could ease into my day like I did pre-baby.

I started doing it and I learned that I actually really loved it. At first, my morning routine was nothing fancy, sometimes I would just lay in bed and give my brain a moment to wake up, sometimes I would get up and get coffee, sometimes I would snuggle one of my puppies.

Now my morning routine is intentional. Now I understand that how I start my day, including my first thoughts of the day, set the trajectory for my whole day. If you read my last blog, my initial thoughts in the morning are the same. I still wake up thanking God for the day ahead of me, being grateful for the life I had, and being grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to share my story and experiences with others as a means to empower the people around me. Don’t get me wrong, some days still go nuts and the morning routine doesn’t happen, but the majority of the mornings, I’m doing it. Even if it’s done in pieces or with Grace meditating with me, it still happens.

Now I set my alarm at night looking forward to the time I’ll have in the morning to pray, read my devotional, journal about the things I’m grateful for and most importantly, snuggle a puppy.

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What's Your First Thought In the Morning?

I want you to know that as I’m writing this, a swarm of bees is surrounding my house because it’s springtime and they want to know where to put their queen. Of course right? Just when you think things are going your way or when you have a certain plan for your day, the universe literally sends you bees. Is that a sign of the apocalypse? I can’t remember.

That’s the thing about life though, it’s unpredictable at best. Same with parenting. As soon as you think you have some of it or all of it figured out, the universe (or your kids) throw you a total curveball.

What’s your first thought when you wake up in the morning? I know it seems unrelated but go with me on this one. Do you wake up thinking about how tired you are? How you’re SOOOO not looking forward to your work day? Do you wake up on a Wednesday wishing it was a Saturday?

The first business coach I ever had asked me that question as one of her interview questions for new coaching clients. My answer? I wake up every morning looking at the amazing view in the house I own with my husband and I think “Good fuck this is a good day. Thank God for this day.” Everyday. Rain or shine. Crappy sleep or 10 hours of sleeping like a rock. It doesn’t matter. That’s always my first thought. 

It wasn’t always that way thought, especially when I first got hurt or even right after I had Grace. When I first got hurt, there was no way I could have approached anything from a place of gratitude, even though I should have because that situation could’ve been way worse on a multitude of levels (trust me, I’ve ran through them all in my mind). I was too angry and quite frankly too scared about what I would do with my future to be looking at anything in my life from a place of gratitude. I was too busy thinking about what went wrong, how I could’ve prevented it, and what my future held.

After I had Grace, while I wasn’t depressed, I was so focused on the pain my body was in especially in my back as well as how tired I was that I couldn’t be grateful for everything around me. When you have chronic pain, pain that wakes you up in the middle of the night, pain that leaves you unable to stand for longer than 2 minutes, pain that makes it miserable to sit for longer than 2 minutes, there’s not a whole lot else that consumes your thoughts.

At least in both instances, that’s how things were for awhile. But then when I started to come out of the other side of the pain, when I let go of how much worse things could have gone (in both cases), I started realizing how good I had things. Granted this wasn’t something that happened overnight. In both instances, there was a TON that happened that I needed to process. I needed to think about the worse case scenarios, I needed to think about the bad shit, I needed to perseverate on all of it for a little bit. But then I needed to stop. Because focusing on how bad things were, focusing on how much worse things could’ve been, wasn’t serving anyone.

I did what I needed to do to find the silver lining on the cloud. It was necessary for my survival. Now that I’m on the other side, I get to wake up every day excited for the day, grateful for the day, and thankful for whatever it holds for me.

Now I understand that having that mindset serves me on a greater level because it allows me not only to deal with things like bees in my yard with some levity. It also allows me to not give up when things get hard, because they will get hard. It allows me to continue to push through to my fitness goals, even with things that could be viewed as obstacles like chronic pain and previous injury. It gives me the perspective on a good workout to know I’m getting stronger and pushing past my limits, and it gives me the perspective on bad workouts to know that I’m still getting stronger and I’m learning about myself.

So what’s your first thought in the morning? Is it time to change it?

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