Originally written for www.leanfit.com
1. It’s not always as simple as calories in vs. calories out.
For people looking to lose weight or gain muscle, it isn’t always as simple as eating in a calorie deficit or calorie surplus. Depending on where you are in your nutritional journey, this may be a good starting point, but it will only take you so far. The type of calories (or macronutrients) consumed will have an impact on how much energy you expend during your daily activities. Various foods have a different metabolic effect on your body, and that’s an important consideration when working towards composition goals. Protein, for example, has a high thermic effect, which means the body literally burns more calories when breaking it down than, say, carbohydrates. For example, when you eat 100 calories of carbs, and 100 calories of protein, your body will actually burn more calories processing the protein. This is quite a complicated topic, with plenty of related science to consider, but if you can remember that a calorie is not just a calorie, this information will take you a long way.
2. What works for your neighbour will not necessarily work for you.
Nutrition is a complex topic, and our bodies are even more complex. People are often quick to jump on the diet bandwagon as soon as they witness someone having success with a particular eating plan. When they don’t experience the same success, they are left feeling confused and discouraged. Instead of playing the never-ending game of musical diets, jumping from one nutrition fad to the next, be consistent. Make simple and realistic changes to your daily eating habits. Choose sustainable practices that you can maintain and that work with your lifestyle. This is the first step on the road to healthy eating.
3. A little tough love: you might be eating too much.
This is a bit of a sensitive topic, because I meet many women, in particular, who are actually not eating enough. They’ve been on a calorie-restricted diet for years, and as a result, are experiencing some level of metabolic damage. Or, people limit their calories for days at a time, resulting in a huge binge at the end of the week, and consuming far too many calories for their body type. However, more often than not, people are fooling themselves. They believe that as long as they make healthy choices and are consuming nourishing foods, they should be good to go. The fat will take care of itself. And, although I wish it were as simple as this, calories do play a role. Now, this may seem contradictory to my first point of calories in vs. calories out, but we can’t deny that calories are important. If you are eating too much on a consistent basis, you will gain fat. It’s science. So that extra handful of nuts in the afternoon, eating mindlessly straight from the cereal box (guilty), or taking too many samples from the lady in Costco can really add up. All of the sudden, you’ve eaten 400 calories over your daily goal and you didn’t even notice! 400 calories x 7 days = 2,800 extra calories a week! Another example is falling into what I call “the smoothie trap.” Don’t get me wrong—smoothies and shakes are a convenient, nutrient dense meal to add into your nutrition routine. I have at least one every day. But, too often, people begin loading in the fruits and fats, without being cognizant of serving size. And, sure, every ingredient is real, nutritious food. But, suddenly, they’ve made a 900 calorie smoothie without even knowing it. It’s important to gain an understanding of what you are consuming in a day. Try tracking your food for a week, using an app like My Fitness Pal (see my previous post for more info). This will provide you with an overview of what you are consuming on a daily basis and areas of nutrition where you may be falling short (or going over!).
So, to sum here, here are the top 3 things I wish everyone knew about nutrition:
1. It isn’t always as simple as calories in vs. calories out. Our bodies process different foods in different ways. Pay attention to the types of foods you are consuming and find a balance between macronutrients.
2. Just because a particular eating plan works for your neighbour, does not necessarily mean it will work for you. Find sustainable and healthy practices that fit your lifestyle and be consistent.
3. You may be eating too much. Try tracking your food and begin to gain an understanding of what you are actually consuming in a day and changes that may need to be made. Knowledge is power.
I love the holidays. Although there is Christmas buzz everywhere you go, everything also seems so much quieter. There are fewer things open, no deadlines to worry about, and a pull to just snuggle in with the family on snowy days. And of course, my other favourite part: consuming copious amounts of delicious food.
Unfortunately, all of the indulging can often lead to a feeling of full-until-it-hurts, and the infamous food (or other) hangover the next morning. So how can you indulge without losing sight of your goals or feeling like you have to deprive yourself for weeks, post-Christmas? Well, with these challenges in mind, I decided to share my tips for surviving the holidays without sacrificing your waistline:
1. Backload your day
This is my favourite trick of the season. If I know I have a holiday event in the evening or afternoon, I will plan my meals accordingly. This might mean a light breakfast that is higher in protein and fats (knowing I will be having a meal wuite high in carbohydrates later), or I may even remain in a fasted state until late morning or lunch, if that feels right. Fasting during the first half of the day not only sets you to eat more in the evening, but it also puts your blood sugar in a good position for eating more insulin-inducing foods (think shortbread, assorted chocolates, and sausage rolls. Oh my). These practices can also support your energy levels. By keeping sugar low during the first part of the day, you encourage healthy cortisol levels (providing energy), and limit your insulin response. Later in the day, when you are indulging in some yummy holiday treats, cortisol levels decrease as insulin levels are heightened. This is also helpful for our hormone levels, as the pattern supports a natural sleep cycle. Have you ever noticed how you become a bit sluggish after a large meal? That’s the power of a high insulin response. So keeping insulin levels low in the morning, can help aid in supporting a natural sleep cycle. Ultimately saving your calories for the afternoon/evening will allow you to really enjoy the holiday treats without worrying about limiting yourself.
2. Find time for activity
So you ate until you couldn’t move last night and washed it down with four glasses of eggnog. So what? You had a blast and laughed with friends and family until your sides hurt. Sounds like an evening well spent. But now is a really awesome opportunity to put that food to work. Once you awake from your food coma, engage in some resistance training. You might as well turn those carbs into muscle, am I right? You are stocked up on glycogen stores and your body can use those to help you hit new PRs. I like to focus on large muscle groups on these days (such as legs or back) to ensure I get the biggest bang for my buck. I will also incorporate some full-body movements, just because… it can’t hurt. My bet is you have a great workout!
3. Show you body's systems some love when you can
After a bit of an indulgent meal, I like to fill the following day with lots of detoxifying foods, like lemon and greens. In fact, I generally start my morning with a green smoothie, incorporating lots of mixed greens (or greens powder) and lemon juice, usually with a fruit of some sort. Grab my free smoothie guide here to get your hands on some fresh recipes! Get lots of vegetables in during the rest of the day, and drink plenty of water and herbal teas so encourage your body to move things along…
4. Ditch the crap
It never fails that, during the holidays, my counter top and refrigerator become filled with a variety of Christmas treats. But let’s be honest: there’s enough of these items at the 17 get-togethers we all inevitably have (other than in the year 2020). So get rid of the extras. There’s no need to pick at a plate of Aunt Carol's traditional Christmas baked goods every day of the week (sorry, Aunt Carol). Save the treats for social gatherings and your regular diet the rest of the time. I may keep my favourite dark chocolate in the freezer, but I usually chuck the rest after a day or two. I have a sweet tooth myself, and definitely don’t need Christmas cookies taunting me 24-7, because I know overindulging doesn't make me feel well. I become low-energy and foggy. So you can wait until Boxing Day or January 1st for the traditional trashing-of-the-treats, but I recommend just doing it now. You’ll be thankful you did.
Last but not least: enjoy. The Christmas season comes around once a year. There is no reason why yours should be filled with endless moments of temptation, post-binge guilt, and social gathering avoidance (again.. unless it's 2020). Set yourself up for success using the tips listed above, and enjoy time spent with family and friends, while eating delicious meals. Food is one of the great pleasures in life. Why deprive yourself of something so wonderful? I am a huge proponent of balance, and believe that the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, whatever that may mean for you. So indulge. Eat and drink until your heart desires, but plan accordingly and put strategies in place that allow you to do so with minimal damage.
From my family to yours, happy celebrating, and Merry Christmas!
Dave and I at our own family Christmas celebration. Matching by accident, I swear.
For the last few of years, I have immersed myself in the health and fitness world. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool and it has allowed me to be constantly surrounded by inspiring, strong, fearless women who motivate me to be better every day. I feel so fortunate to not only be able to learn and grow from these individuals, but to share my own journey with them and connect with others when I am in need of support or guidance. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and of course other blogs and podcasts have made this so easy, and have literally connected me with incredible people all over the world. There’s nothing more comforting than surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals.
Nutrition and fitness are my passion. Learning about and practicing both ignites something in me. It is when I feel the most like myself (does that make sense?). And there is nothing I love more than sharing this passion with others.
This interest has sparked conversations with many women in my life, some of who have become clients, and some who are just looking to chat or grab my opinion on a particular topic. This is often when the reality of mainstream media sinks in. I am dumbfounded when I learn that women are still doing an hour on the treadmill a day while consuming 1000 calories--and not getting the results they’re looking for.
Well, I am happy to report that I have officially completed my Nutrition Coaching Certification! I have learned so much throughout this course and have been able to build on and expand my knowledge of health and nutrition. The science was heavy, I'm not gunna' lie, but it truly helped to put everything in its place. The human body is an incredible and complex machine, to say the least.
I have already begun taking on clients and am excited and honoured to join them on their journey. Health and nutrition is something that I have been passionate about for a long time, and coaching others, while continuously working to better myself, definitely feels like the next step
Although many people reach out to me with weight loss as their primary goal, others are simply looking to create a healthier lifestyle. Most already have the tools to accomplish this, but find themselves caught up in the plethora of information bombarding them daily, or stuck in a rut created by years of poor habits. Sometimes all you need is an outside perspective to help find a little clarity and give you the push to get your butt in gear.
Even as a professional (that seems like an overstatement, but you know what I mean), I am constantly reaching out to industry exerts with years of experience. I will never pretend to know it all, and I am so happy to have those people who provide me with guidance and keep me humble and accountable. I admire and look up to them. This body of knowledge will never stop growing or developing, and therefore, neither should we.
The Precision Nutrition certification program also emphasized performance nutrition, which means helping athletes to meet their specific goals through proper nutrition. Food is fuel, and athletes understand this better than anyone.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram where I am always posting interesting health and nutrition tips, as well as my day-to-day health nut ways.
Thank you to everyone who supported and inspired me throughout the completion of this certification, and who continue to support my writing on Eat. Move. Live. You guys are awesome and make me love what I do even more.