5 Easy Diet Tips to Control Blood Sugars

Morning blood sugars, medicines, injectables, insulin. The worry, the appointments, the questions, the diet, the exercises. It is overwhelming! And what happens if they aren’t working…or not as well as they should be for the amount of thought and work you put in to make them better, normal?

Sure you may have cut back on your sugar intake. Maybe you’ve lowered your portion sizes, started eating more vegetables, stopped drinking soda, or even eat breakfast now…but these changes may not have had the impact you hoped.

Try these 5 things. If they work GREAT! But if not you need to talk to your doctor. You should talk to your doctor regardless. Bring them this list. Let them know what you are doing to try and control your numbers.

  1. Eat a bedtime snack. If this is the only tip you take away from this list it may be the difference between normal levels and high ones in the morning. Think protein and carbohydrate. Peanut butter and apple; cheese and whole wheat crackers; Greek yogurt; nuts and raisins; or turkey lunch meat and a slice of whole grain bread. Whatever! Just eat something!
  2. Balance your meals. I know you have heard that protein is important, and it is, but it’s not super important if you aren’t balancing your meals with carbohydrates, fat, and fiber! If all you have for lunch is chicken and your blood sugars before dinner are ridiculous…something is wrong! Balance that chicken out with beans and a salad! Think protein/meat, carbohydrate/grain/beans, and vegetable (not corn).
  3. Watch what you are drinking. Just because you may have stopped drinking soda doesn’t mean that everything else you drink isn’t loaded with it. Juice, iced tea, coffee with flavored creamer, and specialty coffee drinks can have just as much sugar as soda.
  4. Eat every 3-4 hours. Think about your body like a car. It needs to be refueled. By you eating consistently you’re helping your body and your blood sugar. Meals and snacks are super important! Make sure your snacks are nourishing and not just a candy bar out of the vending machine or some stale chips you have in your pantry!
  5. If you do have a meal that has more carbohydrates than your body needs, don’t feel guilty just do better! Every meal, every snack is an opportunity to improve! Take it! Don’t think about starting on Monday or the New Year…do it now!

Remember to keep taking your medicine/insulin, check your blood sugars, and take care of yourself!

Give them Breakfast!

Look…kids (and everyone else) need breakfast. Research shows that kiddos who eat breakfast do better in school, behave better, and have more energy for play/sports later in the day.

I’m a huge advocate of the school breakfast program. Use this resource!!!! But if you are feeding breakfast to your child at home, here are some tips for a smooth morning and some ideas to feed your kiddo!

Breakfast Tips:

  1. Wake up earlier. Mom’s, I know you are already strapped for time and tired. I’m there, in the trenches with you but waking up just 15 minutes earlier to get your kiddos breakfast can keep your kiddos healthy and doing well in school.
  2. Get things ready the night before. Have lunches packed, school bags ready to go, and clothes picked out. This reduces stress in the morning and allows more time to eat a nice calm breakfast.
  3. Let your children help pick out breakfast. If they are involved and invested in what they are eating they’ll be willing to eat a more balanced breakfast.
  4. Have a few grab-and-go breakfasts available. Come on, we all know that some mornings are just hot messes. Even if we don’t plan on these types of mornings, they happen and it’s so important to have a plan B.

Before getting breakfast ideas here are a few breakfast guidelines:

  1. Stay full with PROTEIN (pick one)
    • Animal: eggs, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt, string cheese, turkey sausage
    • Plant: peanut butter, other nut butter, nuts, soy sausage
  2. Get some ENERGY with Carbohydrates (pick one and/or a fruit)
    • Whole grains: cereal (Cheerios, Mini Wheats, look for at least 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams or less of sugar), oat meal, hot quinoa, whole grain bread, whole grain crackers, buckwheat pancakes
    • Fruits: fresh, frozen, canned in light syrup
  3. Extras for FLAVOR (pick one and/or a veggie)
    • Heart healthy fats: nuts, avocado, oils, peanut butter, nut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds
    • Vegetables: onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, salsa, tomatoes, fresh, frozen, canned
Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

20 Super Awesome Balanced Breakfasts Before School

  1. Cheerios with milk, banana, and peanut butter
  2. Whole grain English muffin, with an egg, slice of cheese, and a tomato
  3. Scrambled eggs with whole wheat bread and salsa
  4. Super Awesome Smoothie (frozen fruit, handful of spinach, chia seeds, milk, Greek yogurt)
  5. Banana burrito (whole grain tortilla, peanut butter, banana)
  6. Yogurt parfait (Greek yogurt, fruit, chia seeds, sprinkle of granola)
  7. Breakfast burrito (whole grain tortilla, egg, peppers/onion/black olives)
  8. Fruit salad wrap (whole grain tortilla, ricotta cheese, fresh berries, slivered almonds, drizzle of honey)
  9. Oatmeal with walnuts and blueberries
  10. Overnight oats with apples, cinnamon, and almonds (oatmeal, Greek yogurt, milk, chopped apples, cinnamon, and almond in a glass jar overnight in the refrigerator and microwaved in the morning)
  11. Whole grain waffles with peanut butter and jelly
  12. Buckwheat pancakes with turkey sausage
  13. English muffin with Canadian bacon, tomatoes, and green peppers
  14. Hard-boiled egg with whole grain toast
  15. Cottage cheese and fruit
  16. Breakfast sweet potato with vanilla Greek yogurt and cinnamon
  17. Breakfast pizza (whole grain English muffin, tomato, and shredded mozzarella cheese)
  18. Whole grain mini bagel, cream cheese, smoked salmon, and veggies
  19. Mini quiches (scrambled eggs, veggies, Canadian bacon or turkey sausage, shredded cheese – make ahead and freeze)
  20. Apple sandwiches (core apples, slice so they are in circles, put peanut butter inside, and eat!)

You don’t have to make them hard. These are relatively easy with little prep work.

What are your favorite go-to breakfasts?

Mom Diet

I got a rare opportunity to share lunch out with my mom last weekend. She’s my hero and honestly couldn’t do life without her. It’s funny that the mom-daughter relationship morphs into a friendship the more past 20 you get…I think that’s when our’s started because I became less immature and more appreciative of her and her awesomeness.

We were talking about some of the “side effects” of being a mom that you don’t really think of. Nope, not the physical, although my body still hasn’t snapped back into the 25 year old body it once was…who knew!? ANYWAY we were talking about how mom’s rarely eat hot meals. How it’s normal to eat lukewarm or cold meals and how we long for a hot, uninterrupted meal. After thinking about this I realized, a lot of my diet has changed since having children and especially having twins.

I have 14 month old twin boys and a sweet (sometimes sassy) 4 year old. My oldest never climbed on furniture, needed baby gates, and truth be told we never even baby-proofed. She wasn’t that kind of baby/toddler who got into things. I now have the opposite. These boys are…boys. Baby gates are jokes and there are not enough barriers in my living room to keep these boys contained and safe. Baby-proofing is an art in our house because what one twin doesn’t think of the other one does. Singleton parents, you have no idea…I certainly didn’t before these two came along. Twins are a different beast. Put these two in one of those escape rooms everyone raves about and they’ll find their way out in a matter of minutes.

My mom diet goes like this: cold (not iced…cold) coffee, a Lara bar for breakfast because it’s fast, lunch at 2pm so I can eat in peace while they nap, cold dinner at 6 because I’m feeding them. My husband is awesome and he takes care of our daughter during dinner (she sometimes “needs” encouragement). If I do get bites of food, usually I hardly taste it because I’m shoveling it in quickly so that I can feed Boy 1 and Boy 2 before they go ballistic.

This is temporary, I know it. I also know how blessed I am for these kiddos and most of the time I’m overwhelmed with the realization of how amazing it is to be their mom. You see, these twins are rainbow babies after losing our second early on in the pregnancy. They are also preemies and NICU babies. I’m very aware of how blessed I am by all of my children but especially these 2 rough and tumble boys. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Look moms (and dads), I get it. I get it when you’re too tired to make dinner or when breakfast is a rare occurrence because you’re running out of the house or when you eat so fast that you don’t even know what it tastes like. I know that it’s hard to eat, let alone to eat well sometimes. I feel you when you only made mac and cheese for your kids lunch and should have also made a vegetable with it but you just survived lunch and that’ll have to do…and then you eat the leftovers (don’t eat off of them, they are germ cesspools). I’m there, in the trenches with you. You are doing a good job if you’ve kept your kids alive, showed them a lot of love and discipline. You are doing a great job if you took a shower. You are doing an excellent job if you kept them alive, showed love/discipline, AND took a shower…shoot, if that happens you’re a freakin rock star!

Yep that’s one towering on the chair while the other one just fell off of it…without his sock. No he did not cry.

Let me give you some tips that I use (and some that I’m going to use) to make my diet better while doing life in the mom-trenches:

  1. Get up before the kids so you can eat breakfast (and drink at least 1 cup of hot coffee) and get yourself together before everyone else. This is my Bible and hot coffee time. It’s my favorite time of day. Just me, Jesus, and a cup o’ Joe. I’m working on getting a more balanced breakfast.
  2. Keep steamer bags of veggies on hand so that you can just pop them in the microwave for those mac and cheese lunches or dinner. These are a staple in our house. Broccoli, snap peas, and cauliflower. Quick, easy, and delicious.
  3. Slow cooker (crock pot) meals are where it’s at. Just this week we did pork tenderloin with BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s and doctor it up). Served that on a whole wheat roll and some vinaigrette based coleslaw and boom, delish (picture below)
  4. Snack. This came from one of my dear friends who I talked to this week. She said “Amanda, you’re not eating snacks! You need to get them in so you can keep up with those boys!” She’s right. She also had a great suggestion that these snacks be portioned out, bagged, and ready to go in a pinch. Thank you Hilary!
  5. Keep fruits and veggies on hand and prepared in the house. We always have grapes on the counter and cut up broccoli and carrots in the fridge. This limits the temptation to reach for something else. We also keep yogurt, Lara bars, fiber bars, dried fruit, and popcorn on hand.
  6. Focus on one improvement at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you have to make your diet perfect (hah) all at once. Work on one thing at a time and work your way down the list of improvements. For me, this week was focusing on eating breakfast every day. Sure I had to pick a Lara bar once but I also made myself eggs, had cereal, and guac-toast.

Mom’s, working or stay-at-home, we have the hardest yet most important job on the planet. I’ve been both working and stay-at-home and neither one is harder than another. Mom’s are mom’s and we have to support each other and stick together. Help each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, and be there to help your fellow mamma eat a hot meal!

Josh’s Story: A Perfect Storm

I sat for a long time thinking of a good title. A title that would pop, lead you in, prepare you for a story that just may change your life. This is Josh’s story. It’s a story of his life: the struggles and triumphs that make him who he is. He quotes it best “Your past does not define you, it prepares you”. This is his victory over poor health and raw realizations throughout his weight loss journey. Josh has been a dear friend of mine for almost 30 years…seriously we’re getting old! I asked him to write his story because I think it will make an impact on you, my readers. Little did we know it may have made an impact on him as well…


The Beginning

Fat, plump, stout, overweight, chubby, heavyset, husky. To some, these words are just simple adjectives. To others, including me, these words are hurtful and demeaning. Looking back now, while all of those words may have been an accurate description of who I was on the outside, it was far from who I was on the inside.

I think it all began as a child when I was first introduced to “husky” jeans. It’s the earliest memory I have of being, uh, husky. I mean, can there be anything, at that age, more demeaning than having to wear special jeans? Jeans that were designed for kids who are overweight or, worse yet, the more innocent sounding, “big-boned.” Like anyone with some sort of dysfunction, being overweight meant needing special accommodations. Take, for example, the need for a seat belt extender on an airplane or the embarrassing big-and-tall section at department stores. Or, in my opinion, even worse than special accommodations is the humiliation of getting picked last for sports, being stared at, realizing you don’t fit in the rollercoaster seat and so many other hurtful realities associated with being overweight. All realities of my life growing up fat. Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

For me, being overweight was a lifestyle. As I grew older, it became who I was. I had convinced myself that I would be fat my entire life. That I would always need some sort of special treatment to get by. And, truth be told, hearing or reading the word fat strikes as many emotional chords today as it did each and every time I heard it growing up. I even convinced myself that I was “functionally” fat. Which, to me, meant that I was still able to participate in sports just like skinny people did so I didn’t have to worry about my weight. Looking back, I was doing just that, participating, not competing. It was the “forever fat” mindset that allowed my weight to balloon to 315lbs. And 315 is when I stopped weighing myself! The scale became a horrifying experience. One that could easily be avoided. My BMI was nearly 40. I was pre-diabetic, at risk for a stroke, and had high cholesterol. I was 33 years old and, at that rate, seeing 50 years of age was tough to imagine. I mean, let’s face reality, how many morbidly obese senior citizens do you know? It just wasn’t going to happen. I feared the worst. I feared death.

Through grade school and college I was constantly reminded of how overweight I really had become. And while there were hurtful comments directed at me those comments weren’t the most troubling reminders. No, the most troubling reminders were embarrassing moments when everyone is watching. All fat people experience these moments. For most, and many a times for me, these moments brought on utter humiliation which resulted in binge eating to fight the depression. Allow me to share with you two such moments in my life. The first moment happened very early on in grade school. It’s a moment that every fat kid has nightmares about and happens in the last place a fat kid wants to be – gym class. What could be worse than gym class? You’re asked to do physical things you can’t do. You’re asked to change in front of other classmates. It’s just an all around bad situation. But the moments from gym class that I recall quite vividly are the times we all circled around the dreaded rope and were asked to climb it. How the hell was a fat kid supposed to climb a rope? Of course, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t climb the rope. I couldn’t climb the rope in front of the entire class. The fat kid was unable to climb the rope.

The second moment in my life came when I was a bit older. It’s another one of those times that every fat person dreads – not being able to fit into a seat. See, up to this point, I didn’t really have those problems. Ya know, fitting in a chair, getting into a car, or getting out of bed. But, my life of obesity changed when, after standing in line for hours, I was unable to get the lap bar on the rollercoaster to lock into place and was forced to take the walk of shame while everyone watched. What an utterly embarrassing situation.

The reality of my situation was harsh. Frankly, although I had convinced myself that I was “functionally fat,” I was nothing more than a fat person with fat person problems. I couldn’t fit into seats. I had a hard time getting out of bed, tieing my shoes, using the steps. And, doing anything related to exercise was nearly impossible. Push-ups, situps, pull-ups, climbing a rope, you name it, I wasn’t able to do it. These harsh realities became my realities and I struggled to see a way out.

The Magic Pill

Some reading this story may be thinking I was just plain lazy. That’s not entirely false. I mean, I was lazy. I spent a great deal of time figuring out how to do things with the least amount of energy possible. I approached many daily tasks that way. It was this inherent laziness that kept me on the search for the “magic pill.” Yes, the magic pill. The easy way out. The Holy Grail of weight loss. If you’ve ever seen a commercial marketing a weight loss program, supplement or surgery you know what I’m talking about. It’s the solution to the “fat” problem that requires the least amount of effort, or at least that’s how it’s marketed. Take a pill and the fat will melt away. Eat these perfectly packaged meals and watch the number on the scale drop. Use this machine for only 15 minutes a day and you’ll have rock hard abs by summer.

I fell into the magic pill trap quite a long time ago. The search for the perfect fad diet or supplement became almost like a job for me. I can still remember the first supplement – HydroxyCut. At the time, HydroxyCut was being sold with ephedra. The HydroxyCut commercials were very convincing. The before and after photos were jaw dropping. The marketing tugged on all of my heart strings. It wasn’t long after seeing those commercials that I was convinced I had found what I was looking for. The solution to my obesity problem! But, by day 2, I was jittery, my heart rate was high, I had a debilitating headache and was nauseous. Those were just the physical effects. The effects internally of long-term use were made public in 2004 following the banning of the substance by the FDA. Fortunately, for me, I stopped using the product after day 2. For the next five years, even after my horrible experience with HydroxyCut, I purchased a variety of other supplements designed to aid in weight loss. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of these; raspberry ketones, green coffee bean extract, green tea extract, and the list goes on. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the numerous colon cleansing products, meal replacements and the infamous juice fasting routines. I spent the better part of ten years looking for the magic pill. It was the last one I purchased that was the most extreme, the most damaging. I bought into the idea of placing 10 HCG drops into water and drinking it three times a day. That was the easy part. The hard part, you ask? The hard part was limiting yourself to 500 calories a day for eight weeks! I did it. As a matter of fact, I did it for 12 weeks. I lost nearly 40 pounds. Success! No, not success. Let’s face it, anyone can lose weight if you eat a mere 500 calories a day. The weight loss, however, took a backseat to the fatigue and loss of muscle I suffered. I wasted thousands of dollars and thousands of hours looking for a magic pill. And, looking back now, why did I think searching for the magic pill would be easier, or cheaper, than just exercising?

Believe me when I say this, there isn’t a magic pill. It doesn’t exist, in any form.

The Turning Point

The HCG took a huge toll on my body. My muscles had deteriorated and my energy levels were low. I lost 40lbs the wrong way. However, It was losing those 40 pounds that motivated me to join a gym and pursue a personal trainer. I wanted to learn how to train the right way. Through this new found motivation, I trained three times a week and even set a goal to compete in the upcoming Tough Mudder. But, while I always set goals, they didn’t really mean much to me. They didn’t mean much because I rarely put in enough effort to achieve those goals. Which meant constant failure. This time, however, failure wasn’t an option. Failure this time meant letting others down, not just myself. See, I had shared with most of my family and friends that I was signed up for the Tough Mudder. That I was training for it. I guess it was that new system of accountability that helped me push through. In August of 2013, I competed in the Tough Mudder. It was physically the hardest thing I had ever done. But, completing it gave me hope that I was capable of living a healthy lifestyle.

The Transformation

For years following the Tough Mudder, I let an unhealthy diet creep back into my life. And while I maintained my gym membership, attendance was infrequent and, at times, nonexistent. What’s the old adage? Old habits, die hard! Yeah, that’s it. While old habits came back, so did my weight. By December of 2015, I had gotten used to seeing 290lbs on the scale. I was once again grappling with high blood pressure, being pre-diabetic and having borderline high cholesterol.
When I agreed to write this story I never imagined how difficult it would be. After all, it’s my life and I was present for each moment. Well, so I thought. As it turns out, there were many memories that had completely escaped me until now. I really had to face my demons when I began to unravel the reasons why I gained weight after competing in the Tough Mudder. Sure, I was consuming a lot of unhealthy food. My wife and I would eat out frequently. Order in frequently. Pizza, wings, pasta, bread – you name it, we ate it. She ate in normal-sized portions and I ate in whatever sized portion I wanted to. And, while that kind of diet is what primarily is to blame for my weight gain, it’s what I ate when my wife wasn’t around that I’m the most ashamed of. I spent many a days driving through McDonald’s alone. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, there were many times I wouldn’t even tell my wife that I ate McDonald’s. Now, you might ask, what’s the big deal with that? The big deal is that my addiction to food had gotten so bad that I was eating a McDonald’s combo meal shortly before eating dinner with my wife. It’s a sad, depressing place to be in.

The years following the Tough Mudder were a rollercoaster of emotions. I was on and off “diet” plans. These were mostly food plans designed to make sure you were eating properly. And, while I may have been eating what was suggested, it wasn’t the only thing I was eating. I combined my yo-yo dieting with infrequent trips to the gym. After all, the gym really was the last thing I could hold on to. I wasn’t far from giving up on it too, honestly. However, one morning, while attempting to keep myself motivated at the gym, I decided to try something new – boxing. By the time I stopped, I noticed I had been punching the bag for more than 20 minutes. I was drenched in sweat and out of breath. It was the hardest I had worked in years. I was unable to figure out where the motivation had come from. But, each time that I returned to the gym, I would put on the gloves and punch the bag. I looked forward to it. And, while I was enjoying punching the bag, I can tell you I really had no idea what I was doing. It was definitely out of my comfort zone. If you’ve never punched a bag before, you should know that it attracts a lot of attention. I had finally found something I enjoyed doing but was horrified at the thought of others watching me.
I don’t really know what it was about the boxing that gave me such a rush. Maybe it was that it was the first time that I felt like I was sticking up for myself. That I was learning to defend myself. That rush is what kept me doing it time after time after time. I had come to enjoy boxing so much that instead of just simply punching the bag, I wanted to learn how to do it the right way. I sought out a personal trainer whose expertise was not only in boxing but also in training the entire body to become a fat burning, muscle building machine. Suddenly, losing weight, eating right, and exercising became fun. Weight was falling off and muscle was piling on. I was more motivated than ever before. All of the pieces of the puzzle were starting to fit. I had experienced each piece before but not all at once. This time was different.

Time was flying by and I had reached a number on the scale that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I was 215lbs and I was down to 22% body fat. I was in the best shape of my life. Before I even had a moment to stop and think about it, I had been at it for almost a year. I had learned more about dieting and exercising in that year than I had in the first 33 years of my life. Allow me to share with you what I believe were the reasons I was so successful this time around, in no particular order:

  1. Food should be used as a fuel source, not as something we run to when we are depressed.
  2. What I ate became more important than how much I ate. When you focus on a proper breakdown of macronutrients and use food for energy your workouts and daily life, the amount of food becomes irrelevant. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to get all of the proper nutrients that you need AND eat all of the bad foods that got us in trouble in the first place.
  3. It is absolutely impossible to out-exercise diet. My advice to you is this. You could put in hours upon hours at the gym each week but if you gorge on pizza, hamburgers and hot wings you’ll never get ahead. Never!
  4. A system of accountability comprised of those close to you is critical at a time like this. Let’s face it. You are trying to transform the way you look, feel, eat and exercise. You can’t do it alone. You need people to compliment on your improved appearance. You need them to understand you when you order a salad at dinner, or say no when asked if you want to go out for drinks. You want them to understand how important exercise has become to your daily routine and that sometimes it’s more important to be healthy than it is to be seen at a bar.
  5. Weight loss is far from linear. There will be many times throughout this journey that you will step on the scale and you’ll be disappointed that you didn’t lose weight. Ask yourself these questions when that happens. Did I give it my all during my workouts? Did I properly fuel my body without exceptions? If your answer is yes to both of these questions, don’t worry, the scale will go down. If you wavered at all thinking about your diet and exercise, fix it, and get back on track.
  6. Saying no to our favorite foods is really hard. When I first started my journey it was very hard to give up on my favorite foods. I had a strong relationship with food that spanned decades and those habits would be hard to break. Why work hard at losing weight and then sabotage your progress with bad choices? My advice? Make saying no a challenge. You are already challenging yourself to exercise more and workout harder, so why not challenge yourself to say no. Make it a game. Compete with yourself and others. Each time you see someone else go for that third slice of pizza, ask yourself if that’s who you are. Define yourself differently and watch how easy saying no becomes.
  7. A magic pill for weight loss doesn’t exist. Pills, powders, drops and cleanses aren’t magic pills. You can’t take these things and watch the fat melt away. The only solution to losing weight is proper diet and exercise. Stop looking for the easy way out! You are wasting time and money.
  8. Working out with intensity is supposed to be uncomfortable. Especially, if it’s not something your body is used to doing. Most of my life, I was either sedentary or had worked out with little result. It came as no surprise to me that the more uncomfortable the workout the better the results. Pretty soon, being uncomfortable subsided and I realized that I was redefining who I was and what I was capable of.

While it may seem to some that I started boxing and all of the sudden I lost weight and became healthy, that isn’t the case at all. What happened was a perfect storm. I had found the right trainer who was willing to take my failures and successes personal. My training was a combination of resistance, cardio and functional training. This mixture avoided the monotony I was used to when training alone. Having a trainer who was just as invested as I was meant knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to quit, like I had so many times before. I had reached all new limits of mind and body. I was lifting heavy weight. I was running. I was splitting time between the gym and the trainer. Once I realized that my body was capable and my mind was willing, good diet and productive workouts became who I was. I had a thirst for more. I wanted to be better than the last time I worked out. I wanted to be stronger than the last time I lifted weights. It was this burning desire that kept me motivated and coming back for more.

Writing this story has truly been a blessing to me. It has given me time to reflect not only on the last few years but on my entire life. Being healthy isn’t easy. I truly believe that each person has to have a defining moment that snaps them back into reality. That moment that helps you to realize three things: 1. You are truly killing yourself slowly with your unhealthy lifestyle, 2. That a combination of diet and exercise is the only proven method to regaining control of your life, and 3. That if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do things you’ve never done. For some, these realities come too late or not at all. I sincerely hope that my story motivates you to realize that your time is now. That it is time for you to take back control of your life. That it is time to redefine who you are!

Your Past Does Not Define You, It Prepares You!

If you would like to contact Josh, please leave a comment below.

Week 6 Tips: Keep it off for life…from some people who have (or well on their way)

I asked a few friends of mine, who are successfully on the journey to weight management for life, to give a list of tips that are helping them on their path:

  • There isn’t a magic pill so you can stop waisting your money
  • Find physical activity that you love to do
  • Surround yourself with supportive people
  • Be aware of your food and portion sizes
  • Don’t deprive yourself of food you enjoy…learn moderation
  • Take advice from the experts (dietitians)
  • Set small, attainable, short term goals to get to your big picture goal
  • It’s not a diet but a choice to change your view of food and how you eat
  • Plan ahead…meal plan, carry snacks, avoid grocery shopping on an empty stomach
  • Weight loss isn’t linear and sometimes there will be ups and downs but the key is to look at the big picture and to see a trend downwards
  • Diet is more important than exercise…you can’t out exercise poor diet choices
  • Saying “no” hard is difficult but sometimes necessary
  • Think of food as fuel for your body, it’s not a friend and it’s not the cure for a bad day
  • Balancing your diet is going to make you feel more satisfied

A special “thank you” to Kelly, Rich, Lisa, and Josh for these tips. You are helping in more ways than you can imagine!

A Few Dietitian Tips:

  1. Slow and steady weight loss is the best. 1-2 pounds per week is fat. Anything more than that is muscle and/or water weight.
  2. Dietitians are the experts in food and nutrition. Advice from other people (even doctors…sorry doc friends but I know most of you are with me on this) may be nice but check with a dietitian especially if it sounds too good to be true.
  3. Diet plans don’t work, if they did dietitians wouldn’t have jobs and people wouldn’t be diet-plan hopping.
  4. You eat more than you think. People don’t gain weight from eating within your calorie limit. I promise. Take a honest look at your diet, food journal in an app that adds it up for you, beverages count too.
  5. Overweight (per the BMI scale) does not necessarily mean unhealthy. I know MANY “overweight” individuals who eat very well, are active, in shape, and have healthy body fat percentages (that’s the key), and healthy waist to hip ratio (also key). Weight doesn’t always equal health. Get your body fat percentage and/or waist to hip ratio checked if you’re curious.

Week 2 Challenge: Be Balanced

You can think you are eating the best diet but if you are missing foods or if you are not balancing your meals and snacks you may find yourself engulfed in cravings.

Every so often a new wave of fad diets come in the scene and it takes years to phase out. Low fat diets and low carb diets, especially, have distorted our view of eating foods that are actually quite good for us! Here’s a quick list of different foods and why they are so awesome for our bodies.

  • Fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and carbohydrates for energy
  • Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and tons of fiber. There are two types that give our bodies different benefits.
    • Starchy vegetables have a good source of carbohydrates for energy (like potatoes, yams, and winter squash like pumpkin and butternut squash).
    • Non-starchy vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes have a small amount of carbohydrates but are loaded with filling fiber.
  • Whole grains have been given a bad rap but these gems of the plant world are great sources of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Don’t box yourself in with just wheat either. Whole grains include oats, barley, quinoa, amaranth, farro, brown rice, black rice, and wild rice.
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) are incredible little wonders of the nutrition world. They are super high in protein…I mean really high. They are also rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Nuts are a food group you don’t want to miss out on (unless of course you are allergic then by all means please miss out!). These foods are unique in that they have a great amount of protein and also super heart healthy fats along with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Animal products are not necessary to a diet but can provide some health benefits. Fish is an incredible addition to your diet, especially cold water fish. They have omega-3 fatty acids, protein, sometimes calcium and vitamin D. Other meats (chicken, turkey, beef, pork) are rich in zinc, B12, and protein. Dairy products like yogurt and kefir are loaded with probiotics which help your gut.

Why all this? Because you need to know that all foods are important to keeping you healthy. Your body relies on nourishment that you give it. Without a good balance of all of the above foods, your body isn’t getting the nourishment it deserves.

Check out the tips to understand a balanced diet!

Endometriosis Diet

There are many women who struggle with a disease called endometriosis. Not many dietitians have approached the subject because there is not a lot of research for diet and endometriosis but it is a huge problem for millions of women. It is an inflammatory disease of the endometrium (a thin sheet-like tissue that surrounds the uterus). When it starts to creep out into areas that it shouldn’t, it is called endometriosis.

This is a significant issue for women and can cause severe abdominal pains, bowel issues (constipation or diarrhea), bladder incontinence, and infertility. It can disrupt a woman’s life more than many people think but there are things women can do to reduce the symptoms.

Because endometriosis is an inflammatory disease, an anti-inflammatory diet may be able to help reduce the symptoms. Please do not read me incorrectly, I do not think an anti-inflammatory diet will cure endometriosis…I’m not that kind of “nutritionist”. But I think it could significantly make a woman’s quality of life much better and reduce the syptoms.

So what is an anti-inflammatory diet? It is a way of eating to reduce inflammation in the body…a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oils, nuts, seeds, fish, herbs, and spices. If you are wanting an anti-inflammatory meal plan please see your local dietitian who can discuss this with you personally and work with you to create a diet that will work for you.

Foods to incorporate into your diet:

  1. Fruits – fresh and frozen are the best. Get a variety and at least 2 servings daily. Just eating apples and bananas are good but you’ll be missing out on antioxidants found in tropical fruits, berries, melons, and pit fruits like peaches.
  2. Vegetables – similar to fruits, fresh and frozen are the best and getting many different colors will give your body tons of antioxidants. You need at least 3 daily but I’m a big fan of getting in as many as possible. Shoot for reds (tomatoes, bell peppers), greens (spinach, asparagus), yellows/oranges (butternut and summer squash), blues/purples (purple cabbage, eggplant), whites/tans (mushrooms, cabbage).
  3. Grains – because they are a plant food they also have antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Along with those benefits these power foods also have protein and fiber! Instead of the processed grains like white flour (white bread) and white rice choose whole grains like whole wheat bread and brown rice. PS corn is a whole grain not a vegetable 🙂
  4. Oils, Nuts, and Seeds – these super important fats are needed in our bodies ESPECIALLY on an anti-inflammatory diet. Canola oil and walnut oil are very high in omega-3 fatty acids and are great to cook with. Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory. This means that eating more foods that are higher in omega-3 fats will help your body with inflammation. Along with canola oil and walnuts (walnut oil), flax seeds, chia seeds, pecans, and wheat germ are also high in omega-3’s. Other oils, nuts, and seeds are beneficial as well for your heart health and overall well-being.
  5. Oily fish – salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are packed with those anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Fit these in to your weekly meal plan or consider taking a quality tested fish oil supplement (check with your doctor before beginning any supplement). Canned salmon and tuna are very budget friendly ways to get in these fish. I prefer them on salads or sandwiches!
  6. Herbs and Spices – many herbs and spices are naturally anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is a heavy hitter in this department. This proven inflammation reducer has shown to be a big player in the anti-inflammatory world. Other herbs and spices have shown some benefit as well like ginger, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper.

So what would an anti-inflammatory diet for endometriosis look like? Here’s a glimpse with two examples:

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with walnuts, chia seeds, and blueberries
  • Whole wheat toast with almond butter and banana

Lunch:

  • Salad with canned salmon and black beans
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat bread and carrot sticks

Dinner:

  • Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and brown rice
  • Baked mackerel, asparagus, red skinned potatoes

Snack:

  • Raisins and walnuts
  • Celery sticks and hummus

I recommend, for those that have endometriosis, to meet with a registered dietitian and go over your diet to see how you can make it more anti-inflammatory. Again, it will not cure the disease but if it can improve your symptoms and overall well-being then it is worth a shot! Some insurances may cover nutrition counseling for diseases like endometriosis so check with your health insurance company prior to your appointment.

To find a dietitian in your area check out: http://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert

*If you think you have endometriosis please see your gynecologist. For those that have endometriosis and decide to change your diet please let your gynecologist know*

Calories don’t exist on your birthday and other things I want you to know

With all the fixes and diets and guilt about food there are some things I want you to know about eating to simplify your life. These are just a few things I’ve picked out from a list a mile long, but are my favorite. Enjoy!

  1. Calories do not count on your birthday. It’s your birthday! Just celebrate another year of life that God gave you! Go out to eat, get what you want most (not what has the least amount of calories), and for the love of food, eat cake or pie or ice cream or whatever gets you going for your birthday. Celebrate! Now, the days before and the days after should be like any other day but on your day, stop worrying and seize the moment!
  2. Be picky about what you eat. Listen, if you don’t like something don’t waste your calories on it. Seriously. There’s nothing less satisfying than eating a dull rendition of food just to eat it. Yuck. I don’t care if that bran cereal has 25% of your daily fiber needs if it is gross, get your fiber from somewhere else throughout your day. Similarly if its really high in calories but tastes bad, don’t waste those calories!
  3. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If the diets you’ve been on in the past do not lead to life long weight loss THEY DON’T WORK. Sure they help you lose weight temporarily but if it is not feasible enough for you to stick with it for the rest of your life, it wasn’t a good diet and it didn’t work. An overall healthy diet, that is feasible for you to do for the rest of your life, is the secret to well-being.
  4. Choose one thing about your diet to change at a time. Instead of saying “I’m starting my healthy diet today” and doing a complete 180 revamp, just choose one change to focus on and stick with it. Once you have that down, move on to your next goal. Work on each goal for about 1 week until you feel confident that you can put something else on your plate. Having 3-4 changes in a month instead of 10 changes all at once is a lot easier to chew on. I call that the diet snowball or the nutrition snow ball. I don’t take all the credit, my husband coined the term 🙂
  5. Find what is motivating you from the inside. So you want to eat better. So what? What are you wanting from your diet? What about a better diet is important to you? It probably has nothing to do with diet and everything to do with what you find important in your life. THAT will keep you motivated. Write it down and put it in places where you will see it. Refrigerator, dashboard, computer at work, bathroom mirror, or make it the wallpaper on your phone.

A healthy diet or lifestyle isn’t about a bunch of rules, it’s about what works for you for the rest of your life. Change should be gradual. Start with what you want, make small changes to get to your goals, make sure your changes are feasible to continue for the rest of your life, don’t eat just to eat, and for the love of food just enjoy your birthday without worrying about calories!

Final thoughts: fad diets, exercise programs that “sell” nutrition, and people who claim to be experts are the quint-essential food rule makers. RED FLAGS!

Challenge – set a small goal for yourself this week. Want to drink more water? Pick an amount to strive towards. Want to eat breakfast instead of skipping it? Find something you enjoy eating (my personal favorite is hard boiled eggs!). Want to fit in more veggies? Start by having a serving for lunch and for dinner. Before you know it you’ll be a master at the change you’ve made and can start making more!

Simply Eat Better

There is so much information out there about how to eat, what to eat, and when to eat. The do’s, don’ts, rules, regulations, and laws are just enough to make you crazy! Much of the nutrition information out there isn’t even from someone legit. Side note: I’m not here to call out the fakes although some days I would like to, I’m here to give you feasible and educated information so that you can work through it to find whats best to move your health forward.

There’s no cookie cutter right way or wrong way of eating. There’s no perfect diet and that’s the great thing about nutrition! It’s always a journey to be better, to eat better. I don’t want to tell you what to eat, I simply want to give guidance and recommendations letting you choose what to change.

Here are 10 simple guidelines for a better diet:

  1. Eat less. Even if that’s all you change, just eating less will improve your overall health because chances are you eat more than you should. This not only helps with weight management but studies show that being overweight or obese increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Try smaller plates, keeping food in the kitchen instead of on the table, and ordering smaller sizes at restaurants.
  2. Eat more often. Eating every 3-4 hours helps to keep you from getting ravenously hungry and lets your metabolism run smoothly. Small nutrient rich snacks in between meals are key. Think about foods like nuts, seeds, yogurt, string cheese, fruit, and veggies.
  3. Slow down. Enjoy the flavors of your food. It should take you 15-30 minutes to eat a meal. As a mom of  twins and a four year old sometimes when I give that advice I think HAH yeah right! But seriously food should be savored not scarfed. When is the last time you truly smelled, tasted, and felt what you were eating? Food is as much for nourishment as it is for the soul.
  4. Eat more vegetables. The recommendations are to eat at least 3 servings daily. If you can get more than 3 servings that is AWESOME! Eat up! 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup lightly steamed or raw are considered servings. Lunch and dinner are perfect for vegetables but there’s no stopping you from sauteing mushrooms and spinach with your eggs for breakfast or crunching on some snap peas with hummus for a snack.
  5. Eat just enough fruits. Shoot for at least 2 daily. Local seasonal fruits are packed with nutrients and super delicious! Blueberries in the summer, apples in the fall, tropical fruit in the winter, strawberries in the spring. Head to your local farmers market for the best deals and watch the sale adds in your grocery store for budgeting.
  6. Work in some whole grains. Don’t box yourself into just whole wheat. I mean, wheat is fine but branch out a bit! Think about barley, farro, buckwheat, quinoa, corn, brown and black rice…the list could go on! Whole grains provide tons of fiber, protein, and B vitamins. Get as whole as possible!
  7. Forget the fat fear. Fat should not be avoided! Especially plant fats. Eat avocados, olives, oils, nuts, and/or seeds regularly. Animal fats like butter, sour cream, and cream cheese are fine in small amounts. Try to buy organic animal products when possible. That’s a post for another day!
  8. Spice it up! Instead of adding a ton of salt to food try herbs and spices. I’ve used Gourmet Garden’s guide when trying new ones http://www.gourmetgarden.com/en/herb-guide.  I think it’s the most helpful pairing guide out there.
  9. Love the legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are packed with protein, fiber, and nutrients. Not only are they amazing for your health but they are budget friendly. Legumes go great in soups, salads, and side dishes. Because they are so high in protein you can use them instead of meat!
  10. Go to a dietitian and talk about your nutrition goals. When looking for the best nutrition advice do not go to a doctor, chiropractor, “nutritionist”, health coach, or any other self proclaimed nutrition guru. I promise that I have made right so many wrongs from past clients that have gone to these people about their diets first. Interested in seeing a dietitian, check out: http://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert. Look for the credentials “RDN” (Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist), “RD” (Registered Dietitian), “LD” (Licensed Dietitian), or “LDN” (Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist).

Diet isn’t a four letter word. Diet is simply what you eat day in and day out. Having a love hate relationship with food is no way to live. Enjoy food and be comfortable with it and around it. Health and wellness isn’t about torturing your body, starving yourself, avoiding food, and guilt trips. It’s about saddling up for a delicious adventure that will take you from where you are to a healthier you.

Final thoughts: I don’t know where each and every one of you are at on your journey through the wide world of nutrition but I do know this: I’ve been a dietitian for over a decade and I’ve talked to many people. The ones who are willing to take the guidance, take action, take the steps to improve their diet, and take accountability for choices are the ones who continue to progress towards a healthy eating pattern.

Nutrition Challenge: this week take a look at your diet and decide what you’d like to change about it. Work on one change that is most important to you.