How to stop falling off the healthy eating bandwagon: 80/20 rule

Since starting at Google three years ago, efficiency has been the focus. Because of this emphasis on productivity, every time I start a new project, I ask myself the same question: how can I optimize for the 80%?

Why does this matter?

Optimizing for the straightforward 80% frees us to focus on the more challenging (and impactful) 20%. 

[Source: The Pareto Principle]

In any given problem, about 80% of cases will be standard. If we can identify that simple 80% and automate a process around them, we no longer have to work on them. As an example, maybe you work in customer service and you get 100 requests per day. If 80 of them are on the same topic, you can very easily automate a response or create a help center article to answer the question. Once you resolve the 80 simple requests, you can spend time working on the more complicated ones in your inbox. Win win.

On the other hand, because the remaining requests are more complex, they’ll make up the majority of your efforts and outputs. You’ll need to focus more intensely and come up with customized solutions for each one.

By the end of the day, 20% of your requests generate 80% of your work. And if you can automate that 80%, your day becomes a heck of a lot easier…and more efficient.

This sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Because we all want to focus our energies on the things that really matter, the 80/20 rule (or Pareto’s Principle) can be applied to so many areas of our lives. And as a nutrition coach, I’ve realized the importance of using the 80/20 rule in my coaching to help women get even more consistent with their nutrition (grab my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to see how).

Why apply the 80/20 rule to nutrition?

The 80/20 rule makes us more consistent with food and nutrition.

About two years ago, I signed up for my first online bootcamp. After battling with anorexia for 8 years at that time, I really wanted to change my physique: more muscles and less belly fat (don’t we all?).

I was SO excited. I took my initial progress pictures, gathered all my equipment, and got ready for week 1. But as soon as I opened the nutrition guidelines, my stomach sank. The portion suggestions, calorie counts, and macro breakdowns were incredibly overwhelming.

As I cooked my chicken breast with vegetables on Wednesday of week 1, all I wanted was a glass of wine. In that moment, I was overcome with a feeling of failure and sunk to the floor in tears. All of the counting and measuring made me so obsessive that I again was battling with my ED.  As I leaned against the cabinets in my tiny kitchen, tears streaming down my face, I realized I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t make myself abide by crazy restrictive guidelines without slipping back into ED. So by the next week, I stopped following all of the bootcamp nutrition guidelines to keep myself from getting overly obsessive, restrictive, or super guilty.

If we struggle with ED tendencies or food obsession, the 80/20 rule is the answer. It allows us to focus on the things that really matter, while automating the rest.

Let’s break it down.

Struggling to be consistent with food? Apply the 80/20 rule to your nutrition and get consistent once and for all.

In order to use the 80/20 rule, we’ve got to consider two things: the 80% and the 20%.

Handling the 80: #automatethatshit

When it comes to the standard 80%, we’ve gotta automate. To automate our eating, we create behaviors that are SO automatic that we don’t even have to think about them.

My first suggestion to start automating your nutrition is to be BASIC and focus on the essentials of good nutrition. Instead of counting anything, we focus on just two things: protein and veggies. Every single time we eat, grab a portion of protein and some vegetables.

This super simple strategy makes all the difference, because we’ll be eating lots of nutrient dense and non-calorie dense foods. This will allow us to eat more AND make we you aren’t missing out on any key nutrients. In layman’s terms, low calorie density = large portion size. And large portion sizes keep our bellies happy.

After doing this for a few weeks, we stop thinking about it and the behavior becomes automatic.

We can all use a little help making our eating more automatic, especially in tough eating situations.

I talk with women all the time who are struggling to stay consistent with their nutrition. They know what they “should” eat but they can’t seem to implement it when outside of their normal routine. They either restrict themselves and feel super deprived or they get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever they want, leaving them feeling lots of guilt.

When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is, and that’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt.

Grab your copy here.

Handling the 20: #mindthemiddle

Now comes the fun part: the tough (and impactful) 20%.

When we’re outside of your automated nutrition, we do not restrict or aim for perfection. Instead, we focus on moderation and minding the middle.

To mind the middle, we take each eating situation and pick the moderate option.

As as example, maybe breakfast, lunch, and dinner are automated but that after dinner snack is still tough. In that case, we’d pick an option that’s not the best but also not the worst. Instead of having a bowl of ice cream or nonfat plain greek yogurt, maybe we grab some Halo Top or my chocolate mug cake. 

Is it the best option? Heck no. But it’ll also keep you satisfied and less obsessed with your next treat.

Part of why I love using the 80/20 rule in my nutrition coaching is that it inevitably shifts us away from obsession. When we’re no longer counting, measuring, or analyzing everything that goes into our mouths, what we eat occupies SO much less mental space.

Wanna try it?

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet. No meal plans, just the handful of things you need to implement daily to eat moderately, completely stress-free.

Struggling to be consistent with food? Here are my two best tools to staying consistent while eating out.

If you’re looking for more examples of how to get to #ConsistentNutrition,  I’ll be posting on Facebook and Instagram about how I stay consistent during all situations my eating using the hashtag #ConsistentNutrition. Don’t miss out!

What’s one nutrition question you have?

Two reasons I won’t take a cheat day

When we open Instagram, and look at any fitness accounts, images of cheat days prevail. We all know taking a cheat day is all the rage right now. It seems like every fitness model, personal trainer, and workout enthusiast posts pictures of deep fried oreos or juicy cheeseburgers every other week. The cheat day has become so popular that it seems like everyone’s doing it. With so many people tracking macros, counting calories, and eating out of tupperware, a cheat day starts looking pretty good.

We may look down at our standard lunch of a salad or a sandwich and wonder if we need a cheat day too. Truth is, choosing a way of eating is a completely personal decision, and I’m a little biased, my friends, but I don’t believe that nutrition strategies should require you take days off, even if St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner.

There are two main reasons I won’t take a cheat day.

Cheat days have become SUPER popular. But this is why I won't take a cheat day. Ever.

Cheat days encourage restriction on all other days.

When we’re living the cheat day lifestyle, it becomes a big no-no to indulge on any other day. If it’s not a cheat day and we find ourselves craving a piece of chocolate, what are we supposed to do?

Sangria sorbet cheat day

We can eat the chocolate, feel guilty, and beat ourselves up. Or, we restrict ourselves and wait until the next cheat day on our calendars. Neither of these options sound good to me.

halfway cooked chocolate mug cake

With my history, the cheat day mindset perpetuates an unhealthy relationship with food. While I haven’t ever fully given into the cheat day lifestyle, I used to have a similar mindset when it came to drinking. Drinking was not okay on weeknights. I’d only let myself have something to drink on Fridays or Saturdays (well, and sometimes Thursdays cuz I was sooooo close). So on that random stressful Tuesday night, after we’d both had super long days, I’d watch Andrew grab himself a beer without a second thought, and I’d weigh my options and make deals in my head.

I worked 11 hours today, I deserve a Mike’s Harder Lemonade.

If I have a Mike’s Harder today, I’ll skip the pasta with dinner.

Maybe if I run for another 20 minutes tomorrow, I can have one. 

I couldn’t understand how he could make this decision so easily.  It was effortless, carefree, and easy. He didn’t go back and forth, debating the ramifications of enjoying a single beer on a Tuesday night. If he wanted one, he had one. I, on the other hand, beat myself up for even wanting a sugary can of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

See, when we only allow ourselves to indulge or enjoy our food on specific days, it gets way too easy to restrict ourselves and making certain foods off limits.

That’s a big part of why I reject the concept of cheat days: they encourage restricting yourself.

But truthfully, there’s a whole other reason you won’t catch me posting about my cheat day escapades.

I don’t actually NEED a cheat day.

My nutrition strategy has indulgence and mini-cheats built in, every single day. This keeps me from wanting to eat the entire cheesecake. I’m content after a few bites.

IMG_5040

I no longer restrict myself from eating foods (and drinks) I enjoy. I’ve stopped trying to eat “perfectly.” In fact, if I can look back at a day of eating as perfect, I did something wrong! I ask myself just one question, and this guides how I eat every single day, regardless of where I am.

Is it possible to stay consistent with your food wherever you go?

Learn to stay consistent with your nutrition so you no longer need cheat days.

I talk with women all the time who are struggling to stay consistent with their nutrition. They know what they “should” eat but they can’t seem to implement it when outside of their normal routine. They either restrict themselves and feel super deprived or they get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever they want, leaving them feeling lots of guilt. They feel trapped between restriction and guilt. It doesn’t have to be this way. With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt.

Grab a copy of the FREE #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet.

Look, my friend, I don’t want you to struggle with obsession and restriction anymore. It sucks and is crazy stressful. Our mental space is so much better utilized outside of the food and exercise realm. To take one step closer to that #cheatdaynotneeded lifestyle, let’s try something different this week: try giving ourselves one indulgence per day. See how it feels. By the time our cheat day comes along, we may not even need or want it.

Have you taken a cheat day before?

{wedding ready workout} my go-to core workout

I’ve always been slightly obsessed with my abs. I’ve tried every exercise, piece of equipment, program, and core workout touted on the internet. When I was still on my quest for a six pack, I did Tony Horton’s Ab Ripper X video at least three times a week. I’d roll out my yoga mat in my dorm room (cuz we def can’t do 300 sit ups on linoleum) and get to work. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I was sure to do this routine. At the end of each core workout, I’d shyly look at check my stomach in the mirror for results. And each time, I would be disappointed by the lack of a chiseled six pack.

Even though I don’t necessarily want a six pack anymore (see why!), having a strong, lean midsection is important to lots of us, especially during wedding season.

As we’re inching closer and closer to wedding season, I’ve created my Wedding Ready workout series to help my friends, teammates, and clients get ready to rock their wedding dresses. Over the last few weeks, I’ve put together three exclusive real time workouts to get you wedding dress READY.

In case you missed the first few workouts of the series, check them out here:

Upper body workout: perfect for shaping your back, shoulders, and arms

Lower body workout: special emphasis on your glutes and quads to build strong, shapely legs 

This week, we’ve got the last workout in the series: core! But let’s be real, this is not your typical six pack sit up workout, because I’m all about results. And in order to change your physique, we’ve got to incorporate both effective ab exercises to build strength AND interval cardio to reduce body fat [source 1, source 2].

If that seems like a lot, no need to stress. We’ve got it all in today’s workout.

Your wedding ready core workout

Today’s core workout is exactly how I like to structure my HIIT cardio workout days: sprints and core work. To get the absolute best results possible, we want to do both parts of this workout together. If you need to split up the parts of the workout, don’t stress too much, hit the core workout portion. Just make sure you work a sprint session into your weekly routine.

Before you begin, I highly suggest you do a substantial warm up (like this one). By activating your core, you ensure that it’ll work hard throughout both parts of the workout. Even without the core workout portion, if you sprint hard enough, I guarantee that you’ll feel your abs the next day!

Part 1: sprints!

Head to a track, treadmill, or hit the pavement to complete the following intervals.

Looking for a new core workout? This ab workout will get you wedding ready in no time. And, let's be real, this is not your typical six pack sit up workout, because I'm all about results. And in order to change your physique, we've got to incorporate both effective ab exercises to build strength AND interval cardio to reduce body fat.

Part 2: core workout

When you complete your sprints, it’s time to work that core. We’ve got five super effective ab exercises, with 10 reps each. Go through this super short circuit 2-3 times!

Looking for a new core workout? This ab workout will get you wedding ready in no time. And, let's be real, this is not your typical six pack sit up workout, because I'm all about results. And in order to change your physique, we've got to incorporate both effective ab exercises to build strength AND interval cardio to reduce body fat.

When you smash your workout, be sure to tag me on instagram and facebook so I can cheer you on 🙂 If you enjoyed this workout, you’ll LOVE my free weeklong fitness challenge. If you’re looking to jumpstart your fitness goals, there’s no better time than now!

What kind of workout do you want to see next?

How often should we eat for weight loss?

Today, my friends. I am dispelling one of the most common nutrition myths out there. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever done any research about dieting or losing weight.

If I want to eat for weight loss, I should eat every few hours.

Beachbody coaches everywhere tell their clients to never let themselves get hungry. Thousands of free diet plans float around the internet provide options for your six small meals per day. This belief is so widespread that if you ask anyone how you should eat to lose weight, they’ll tell you to eat often so you never overeat. They’ll spout some fact that eating every couple hours stokes your metabolism and helps you burn more fat.

How often should we eat for weight loss? Should we really eat 6 meals a day? I'm answering these questions once and for all.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

I hate to break it to you, my friends. There is absolutely no scientific evidence (I searched!) out there that eating every few hours is better for weight loss. When it comes down to it, your body burns the same number of calories breaking down your food you eat regardless if you eat three meals or seven.

With that in mind, it’s super important to figure out an eating schedule that works for YOU. Determining how many meals to eat is a process of trial and error, because it’s all about creating habits that are easy and natural for you! 

Over the last year, I’ve switched from eating every couple hours to eating four larger meals per day. This change has helped me make progress towards my fitness goals and automate my eating. My friends, I will NOT be going back, because it’s made me super consistent with my food, regardless of where I am. Today, I’m sharing WHY I’ve made that shift but If you wanna learn exactly how I’ve found consistency, I’m sharing handful of things you need to implement daily to eat moderately, completely stress-free here.

Why I eat four meals per day

It promotes satiety

Back when I subscribed to the idea I had to eat often to stoke my metabolism, my meals were super small. And let’s be real, small meals=hungry Katherine. When you eat mini-meals, you never feel like you ate enough. You know the feeling, you finish your chicken and broccoli but you feel like you can and should eat more.

Bleh. I hate that feeling.

So, when I started eating four meals a day, spaced out by 4-6 hours, I had to start eating bigger meals. And guess what? I loved it! As I added more protein and fat to my meals that nagging feeling of “I want to keep eating more even though my plate is empty” went away.

Now, I feel satisfied for hours after each meal, which is awesome after living in a constant state of hunger for years. 

It decreases my daily caloric intake

Wine, Protein, Veggies

When I first started trying to eat for weight loss, I tracked my macros to ensure I got everything I needed. At first, I was worried I’d start gaining weight because I was eating “more.” But what I found was pretty surprising.

I was eating less than before!

After doing a bit of research, I found this is actually pretty common! When you’re eating six times a day, you end up eating more than you think. Snacks turn into mini meals and your mini meals tend to be a little bigger than they should be.

Confining my eating to four times a day has helped me keep my calorie intake within healthy ranges, even when I’m traveling or eating out.

It gives me flexibility in my social life

Eating six meals a day can make social situations more difficult. Sure, you can grab happy hour and pick at a side salad but how satisfying is that? Oh, and you’ll need to eat again in two hours, so don’t hang out for too long. With an eating schedule that includes bigger meals, your life doesn’t have to revolve around your food.

It’s so nice to be able share meals with my friends and loved ones again without worrying I’m eating too much.

I hear from women all the time that they have a hard time eating on the go. Drive-thru’s, happy hours and travel can botch even the best intentions for healthy eating. SO, I put together this super simple cheatsheet for dining out and how to stay consistent with your nutrition wherever you go. No crazy meal plans, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately, completely stress-free. Grab a copy of the FREE #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet here.

Now, even though eating four meals a day works super well for me, please don’t take this as a one size fit all approach. Do some experimentation! You may do best on three bigger meals, and that’s totally okay! If you want to find a way of eating that works for YOU, I’d love to work with you on your nutrition goals. If you’re ready to make some changes and reach your nutrition and fitness goals, let’s chat!

How many meals do you eat daily?

This is the #1 reason you need to stop comparing yourself to others. RIGHT NOW.

Should you compare yourself to other women?

You walk into the gym ready to crush your workout. You’ve got your favorite leggings on, a fun t-shirt, and you’re on top of your game. After a brief warm up, you walk over towards the weight rack (because you’ve already mastered the weight room), pick up the 10lb dumbbells, and start your workout. But that’s when the social comparison starts. You look to your left and see some super fit chick with cut arms doing more push ups from her toes than you thought possible. And to your right? That runner chick on the treadmill is sprinting at a speed of 12mph. You didn’t even know treadmills went that fast!

She can do so many more push ups than me. 

She’s so much stronger/faster/fitter than me. 

woman push up

Or maybe you’re out at happy hour with some friends, you look around and see so many beautiful women in their cocktail dresses. You can’t help but notice how well they are rocking their outfits. They look so happy, pretty, and confident. So, the questions start.

Why can’t I have her arms?

Why am I not that confident?

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. I know I’m not alone. It’s almost impossible to stop comparing ourselves to others, whether it’s your best friend, a stranger, or someone in a magazine. But the truth is, after doing some serious research, I’ve found that social comparison is much more than the thief of joy, and it NEEDS TO STOP.

Why social comparison doesn’t serve you

This is the #1 reason you need to stop comparing yourself to others. RIGHT NOW.

Comparing yourself to others seems to have absolutely no positive effects. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It seems that if you you engage in social comparison, you are very unlikely to successfully eat intuitively. When researchers studied a group of teenage girls over a one year period, they found that social comparison was the strongest NEGATIVE predictor of subsequent intuitive eating [source]. Read: if you’re comparing yourself to others, you’re going to have a damn difficult time getting to that intuitive eating happy place. You know, that place where you eat based off of internal hunger and satiety cues instead of skipping meals to keep yourself skinny or eating because a plan tells you it’s time.

Social comparison is also shown to be a key contributor to feelings of shame [source]. When all you’re doing is looking at others and judging yourself, sometimes you can’t help but feel inferior. It’s that inferiority that leads to shame, “the most powerful, master emotion” (at least according to Brené Brown).

Why you should care

…because this affects us all.

When I was in middle school, I developed a bit faster than all my friends (I was the same height at thirteen as I am now at twenty five). I looked around and thought something was wrong with me.

Why was I so much fatter than my friends? 

Why were they so much more confident than me? 

And it wasn’t just me that noticed how different I looked.

I remember one afternoon, swimming at my friend Katie’s house in January. We thought it would be fun to jump into the cold water but I didn’t have a bathing suit. She looked through her drawers and pulled out two swimsuits: a bikini and a one piece.  I’ll never forget what happened next.

She turned to me and said, “You should wear the bikini, you know, because you have more fat and you’ll stay warmer than me.”

Even twelve years later, I remember the pain in the pit of my stomach. It was like she had punched me.

I frankly hated myself.  The shame, anxiety, and fear that came with comparing myself to my friends and the images I saw in magazines definitely contributed to my  10+ year battle with anorexia. Because I felt so inferior, I didn’t see any other way out, besides trying to change my body. I thought, if I could just look like them, I will feel better. The weight fell off so fast but the shame didn’t go away so easy.

Social comparison is a dangerous fallacy. It’s a romantic idea right? If we can just be as pretty/smart/strong/capable as she is, we’ll be happy/better/satisfied. My friend, believing this will fail every time. There’s only one way to true joy, and that’s living as your authentic self.

Today, my friend, I challenge you to help me end this social comparison. Stop comparing yourself to the woman standing next to you. Own what makes you different from her instead! Stand tall, strong, and in your power. This will bring you the joy, love, and happiness you’re really looking for!

Tell me something unique and amazing about YOU!

{wedding ready workout} my TOP lower body workout

We’re inching closer and closer to wedding season! I don’t know about you but tons of my friends and teammates are getting married in spring/summer 2017. With their weddings around the corner, getting ready to rock their stunning wedding dresses is top of mind. I get it!

That’s why I decided to create my Wedding Ready workout series. I’m putting together three exclusive workouts to get you wedding dress READY.

A few weeks ago, we worked our upper bodies, because many popular wedding dress styles emphasize the bride’s back, shoulders, and arms. But this week, you’re in for a treat, because I’ve put together a Wedding Ready lower body workout, with special emphasis on your glutes and quads.

Having strong, shapely legs is super important for those form fitting wedding gowns (or just for rocking shorts next summer). 

But, in order to make serious changes to our legs, we’ve gotta get some weight involved. Because our legs and butt are our biggest muscles, it’s important to add additional weight when you’re doing a lower body workout. This maximizes our results and ensures we’re not wasting time in the gym.

Your Wedding Dress Ready Lower Body Workout

For today’s lower body workout, we’ve got two 10 minute AMRAPs. The first AMRAP is bodyweight and plyometric. I wrote this circuit to raise our heart rates and get us nice and warm. This cardio primer of sorts will prepare you to lift heavier weights in AMRAP 2.

For today's lower body AMRAP workout, we've got two 10 minute AMRAPs. The first AMRAP is bodyweight and plyometric. I wrote this circuit to raise our heart rates and get us nice and warm. This cardio primer of sorts will prepare you to lift heavier weights in AMRAP 2.

You’ll complete 10 reps of each exercise in AMRAP 1, resting only as needed. Repeat as many times as you can in ten minutes.

Rest for 1-2 minutes before moving into AMRAP 2.

Most importantly? Have fun with it! This one is definitely a toughie, and if you workout with me real time, you’ll see me struggle.

This lower body workout is similar to the quick, effective workouts in my free weeklong fitness challenge. If you’re looking to jumpstart your new year’s fitness goals, there’s no better time than now!

What kind of workout do you want to see next?

3 steps to eat out AND stay consistent

Eating out. It’s religion for some and an enjoyable pastime for all. Let’s be real. We all love to do it. Tasty, convenient, fun, and a break from the standard, day-to-day routine. Even though it’s a lot of fun, eating out doesn’t always help us reach our nutrition goals. Restaurant foods can be much higher in fat, salt, and other additives that we wouldn’t normally add to our home cooked meals [source]. And don’t even get me started on restaurant portion sizes.

But guess what? As a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I plan on eating out around once a week, even when I am working on fat loss goals.

When reading most of the personal trainer/nutrition coach perspectives out there, eating out often becomes the devil. But I’ve actually found a way to eat out, enjoy life, AND still get results. Oh and I’m sharing it with you.

For all of 2016, I spent my time commuting between California and Texas. Always on the go and rarely feeling settled, I turned to restaurant options more often than I’d like to admit. Even though I was “eating well” most of the time, I was over-indulging (hello wine 7 nights a week) and paying the price. At first, I definitely noticed changes in my energy levels, body composition, and mindset.

But, after tons of trial and error, I’ve come up with three simple steps to guide my restaurant eating.

3 steps to eat out without breaking the calorie bank

When reading most of the personal trainer/nutrition coach perspectives out there, eating out often becomes the devil. But I've actually found a way to eat out, enjoy life, AND still get results. Oh and I'm sharing it with you.

1) Break down every menu into components.

When we look at menus, we can often feel overwhelmed. There are so many items and none of them look like our meal plans. Instead of shaking our heads, calling it a wash, and ordering a “cheat meal,” start dissecting that menu. Figure out what’s listed and narrow it down to the healthier options.

If I’m struggling, I start by looking in the salad and entree sections. Usually, I can find some sort of salad with grilled chicken, and I’ll use that as a starting point, doctoring it up to my tastes.

A couple suggestions to get start right now:

  • Pick proteins that are baked or roasted. This gives good flavor without tons of fat.
  • If you’re a vegetarian, make sure your item has a protein source.
  • Choose carbs based on your goals. If you’re aiming for fat loss, ask for a double serving of veggies and skip that potato.

2) Choose protein and veggies that’ll satisfy you

Once you’ve narrowed down the menu, stop counting macros, analyzing portions, or counting in any way. Instead, focus on getting lean protein and veggies on board. Ask for substitutions if they’re needed! Nbd.
My favorite way to do this is head to the entree section of the menu. Find a protein that sounds tasty, then ask for double veggies instead of the carb. Often, restaurant meals are made up of protein + lots of carbs & fat + a little veggies. Instead of stressing about finding an entree that is exactly what I’m looking for, I pick the protein I want and change up the rest of the plate. By the time I’m done ordering I’ve got protein + lots of veggies + a little bit of carbs/fat.
These options will maximize nutrient density without the extra calories you’ll find in the starchy sides and will actually leave you feeling satisfied for longer.

3) CHOOSE every indulgence

Instead of eating and drinking everything in sight, be mindful about your indulgences. Often, we feel we deserve something special when we’re eating out. However, truth is, you ALWAYS deserve something awesome. Still, if you want to indulge, be thoughtful about it & make it a conscious decision. Be aware of what you choose to indulge in.

For those of us with disordered eating backgrounds, indulgence is tough. We either feel like we should restrict or count every bite that goes into our mouths or we’re indulging at full speed. This always made me afraid of indulging at all, because I felt like I couldn’t stop. And when I did indulge? I felt insanely guilty later. I thought I had to feel guilty or restrictive; those were the only two options. If you are sick of feeling guilty or restrictive when eating, my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet will help you navigate the middle between guilt and restriction. Grab your copy now.

I created my conscious indulgence framework to specifically guide our indulgences. It makes indulgence part of every single day–without going overboard. So, when I walk into a restaurant, I’ve already consciously chosen how I’ll splurge. This gives me the willpower to pick healthier options to fill the rest of my plate. Win, win, and win(e). Show me what YOU choose to indulge in with #myconsciousindulgence. I’ll be posting throughout the week on the topic so don’t miss out.

I talk with women all the time who are struggling to stay consistent with their nutrition, especially when eating out. They know what they “should” eat but they can’t seem to implement it when outside of their normal routine. They either restrict themselves and feel super deprived or they get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever they want, leaving them feeling lots of guilt.

I’ve been there. For years, I went out to dinner or happy hours only to order the lowest calorie option. I’d crave something tasty but knew I *should* order something light, so I ordered grilled chicken with roasted vegetables. I’d feel pretty good about myself…until appetizers came. Sweet potato fries, meatballs, and bread with pesto dipping sauce would fill the table. I’d try resisting…for about five minutes. Eventually, I’d always give in, indulging in fries, meatballs, bread, and lots of wine. Even though I knew what I should do, I couldn’t. I was too bored by my choices to stick with them, so I went overboard and felt super guilty afterwards.

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt.

Grab your copy now. 

Do you enjoy eating out?

Why I’ll never cancel my Stitch Fix membership

I’ve never been one of those girls who loves shopping. Hanging out with my bestie in Anthropologie was always fun. I could wander around a book store for hours. I love getting new running shoes. But when it comes down to it, day long, we-need-to-buy-you-a-whole-new-wardrobe-or-at-least-a-winter-formal-dress trips aren’t for me.

As a teenager, I remember heading out for shopping trips with my mom. We’d pile into the car, full of expectations, and drive to the closest mall. Walking in through Nordstrom, we’d always start in the shoe section (easy enough). But somewhere between the second dressing room and a Starbucks visit, the trip stopped being fun. I’d be frustrated, angry, and sad. My mom would try so hard to cheer me up and pull me out of the fog of self-criticism, but I’d normally just snap at her. It got to the point where we couldn’t shop together anymore, which broke my heart. I love my momma.

If we’re being real, shopping for clothes has been a battle since 2005, when I was diagnosed with anorexia. Although I’m no longer that thirteen year old thinking she needed to lose 20lbs, shopping has never gotten much easier. Every time I enter a dressing room, my mind is filled with all the “shoulds” of the last twelve years, namely that I “should” fit into a size 4.

I've been a part of Stitch Fix for years and writing Stitch Fix reviews for months now. This is why I will never cancel my Stitch Fix membership.

I believed this “should” so deeply that all throughout high school, I wouldn’t keep clothing if it wasn’t in a size 4. I’d go shopping with my best friend and try on tons of dresses, even if I absolutely loved one that fit me in a 6, I wouldn’t buy it. In my irrational, eating disordered head, 6=fat. If I had to size up, I’d start crying, get angry/frustrated/sad, and ultimately walk out of the store.

Even as I recovered, got stronger, and reclaimed bits and pieces of my life, shopping didn’t get much easier. I’d still get upset about sizing up and body dysmorphia made trying on clothes feel like a freak show. Hitting the mall was a major trigger that could throw me off for an entire week. If I felt “fat” from a shopping trip, I’d eat less or over-exercise to compensate. Not a good plan.

It wasn’t until after college that I discovered the Stitch Fix: the service that made shopping so much easier and actually FUN.

In case you aren’t familiar with Stitch Fix, it is a program where you get an online stylist who sends you 5 items whenever you prefer. I get items every eight weeks or so. The items your stylist sends are based off of your style profile, which includes everything from fit to style to budget. You’ve got three days to try everything on in the comfort of your home, with your current wardrobe all around you. Then, you choose what to keep and send back what you don’t like (totally free – shipping is included).

Why I love my Stitch Fix membership

It’s taken the trigger OUT of shopping for me. My stylist knows me, my style, and my body. I no longer have to guess what size is right for me, which brands run big/small, or even what styles will be flattering. Instead, she sends me curated items based on how I want to look and feel in my clothes.

Now, if I have to go into stores and shop, I’m amazed at how frustrating the experience can be. Picking sizes is a shit show, and I have no idea how anything is going to fit.

I’ve seen TONS of Stitch Fix reviews about the clothes and service but nothing about the impact on mindset. I’ll never cancel my Stitch Fix membership, because it’s helped me be more accepting of my body. It’s changed how I think about clothing and sizing. Stitch Fix has helped me have fun with fashion, because I don’t have to make decisions about size. This is life-changing for an eating disorder survivor.

So, yes, the service is amazing. The clothes are beautiful. It’s super convenient. But more than that, it’s been a tool in my journey to self acceptance. I hope you’ll join me.

If you want to know more about my journey, I’m getting real with my email buddies later this week. On Thursday, I’m sharing a super personal story about how I’ve started accepting my body, regardless of what the tag on my jeans says, AND sharing my exclusive strategy to detach from clothing label numbers. Enter your email below before to join the party. Don’t miss out.

Do you have a Stitch Fix membership?

{wedding ready workout} My BEST upper body workout to get you wedding ready

Is it wedding season already?! I don’t know about you but tons of my friends and teammates are getting married in spring/summer 2017. With their weddings around the corner, getting ready to rock their stunning wedding dresses is top of mind. I get it!

That’s why I decided to create my Wedding Ready workout series. I’m putting together three exclusive and super effective workouts to get you wedding dress READY.

With the most popular wedding dress styles, the bride’s back, shoulders, and arms are the center of attention. Of course, this leads to lots of questions about how to change the shape of their upper body. We all want toned arms, shapely shoulders, and a strong back, right?

But here’s the thing. Most of the time, when women approach me asking to change the shape of their body, they’re doing incessant cardio, spending hours on the treadmill.

While that may be enjoyable to some, it’s not going to get us the body shape w’ere looking for. That’s why I’ll always encourage them to start lifting weights and working intensely for short periods of time, instead of going to the gym to watch Bones reruns on the elliptical.  Added bonus? We’ll all have extra time to get shit done (wedding planning perhaps).

May 2016

With that in mind, I’ve put together an awesome workout to maximize the benefits of lifting weights while still elevating your heart rate. Add this workout to your weekly routine 1-2x per week and you should start seeing changes to your upper body within a month!

Upper Body Wedding Dress Workout

This sweaty upper body lift will get your heart rate up and tax those shoulders by working in interval style. You’ll complete each upper body exercise for 50 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. Before you rest, complete 60s of the cardio move of your choice.

With the most popular wedding dress styles, the bride's back, shoulders, and arms are the center of attention. Of course, this leads to lots of questions about how to strengthen and tone up their upper body. That's why I've created this wedding dress workout!

Aim for 2-3 rounds of the circuit, resting for 60s between each round.

Looking for more workouts?

This super effective lifting workout is similar to the workouts in my free 7 day fitness challenge!  If you need a bit of help with your workouts and nutrition, definitely join in! We’ll work together towards your goals for the next 7 days, giving you the jumpstart you need to get results.

What kind of workout do you want to see next?

The #1 nutrition mistake women make

It’s now the third week of 2017, and you’re chugging along towards your fitness goals.

Workout plan? Check.

Stress management? Check.

Fitness motivation? Check.

But what about your nutrition? There’s so much information out there on how to eat, when to eat, and what to eat. Talk about information overload.  So before you dive into a nutrition plan head first, we’ve gotta make sure you aren’t making this super common nutrition mistake.

As a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I work with women across the United States to help them change their bodies in a way that does not require obsession or dietary restriction. Through working with lots of women, I’ve found that most women who come to me are making one nutrition mistake that’s stalling their progress.

Are you making this super common nutrition mistake? This is the #1 mistake I see women making (and how to fix it).

For most of us, when we decide to change up our nutrition to meet our goals, we do one thing: count. Whether it’s calories, macros, or servings, we’re told counting and closely monitoring our nutrition intake is the answer. This brings us to the #1 nutrition mistake women make: overcomplicating their nutrition.

Why complicated nutrition doesn’t work

You end up eating the wrong things

If all you’re thinking about are numbers, foods become nothing but numbers. Although a bowl of ice cream and a chicken breast with roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes may have the same number of calories, they’ll affect your body differently.Grocery Haul

This means you may end up eating foods that will make you MORE hungry, which makes it more difficult to reach your goals.

You get overwhelmed, decreasing your willpower and leads to “falling off the wagon”

Counting anything consistently takes a lot of mental energy, and is inherently unsustainable. At some point, you’ll reach the “fuck it” point and stop counting for a time.

But unfortunately, without numbers to guide you, it becomes way too easy to fall off the wagon.

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off and we order an entire pizza for ourselves. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is a way to cut to the middle and stop feeling restrictive or guilty. Grab my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to learn how.

Sangria sorbet

You stop listening to your body

The main reason I recommend against counting macros, calories, or servings for long periods of time is that you lose touch with your body and its signals. When numbers rule your food intake, you stop listening to your hunger and satiety cues.

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I lived in this space for a long time. I was constantly following a meal plan and eating when I was told. After a time, I wasn’t able to recognize when I was hungry and had no idea how much my body actually needed, leading me to severely under-eat every time I came off a meal plan. This is NOT a way to live (see how I do it instead), and that’s why I am so passionate about not making this nutrition mistake.

Combatting this common nutrition mistake

I want you to make it super simple. Instead of counting anything, I want you, my friend, to focus on just two things: protein and veggies. Every single time you eat, grab a portion of protein and some vegetables. If you’re still hungry, add some healthy fat or complex carbohydrates, depending on your goals.

Want more help getting in veggies at every meal? Grab some of my best tips.

This super simple strategy makes all the difference, because you’ll be eating lots of nutrient dense and non-calorie dense foods. This will allow you to eat more AND make sure you aren’t missing out on any key nutrients. In layman’s terms, low calorie density = large portion size. And large portion sizes keep you (me) happy. Follow along on Instagram and Facebook with #mindthemiddle to see how I implement these strategies day-to-day.

I talk with women all the time who are struggling to stay consistent with their nutrition. They know what they “should” eat but they can’t seem to implement it when outside of their normal routine. They either restrict themselves and feel super deprived or they get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever they want, leaving them feeling lots of guilt.

I’ve been there. For years, I went out to dinner or happy hours only to order the lowest calorie option. I’d crave something tasty but knew I should order something light, so I ordered grilled chicken with roasted vegetables. I’d feel pretty good about myself…until appetizers came. Sweet potato fries, meatballs, and bread with pesto dipping sauce would fill the table. I’d try resisting…for about five minutes. Eventually, I’d always give in, indulging in fries, meatballs, bread, and lots of wine. Even though I knew what I should do, I couldn’t. I was too bored by my choices to stick with them, so I went overboard and felt super guilty afterwards.

With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt.

Grab your copy now and stop feeling restrictive or guilty about your eating!

What’s one thing that still confuses you about nutrition?