Fitness

My Method To Finding Health When You Suck At Diets

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I’ve come to be known by many for being a health nut – in recent years I’ve tried everything from being vegan to gluten-free and lactose-free (sorry cheese!). I quickly learned that there was no diet out there that didn’t lead me to temptation, bad results and ultimate failure. I quickly learned that I was absolutely terrible at dieting and just kind of gave up, making the whole self-esteem and process worse.

So for someone who sucks at dieting, it really took a while for me to evolve my mentality on how to approach health. I heard all the talk from weight lifters and gym rats about macro counting, but as someone who just really likes yoga and the elliptical in the gym, I didn’t ever think it was a technique I could keep up with. Eventually, through a lot of insightful research and conversations with specialists, I realized that the problem was that no one should ever diet, but you rather should eat for healthiness, which is exactly what macro counting does.

WHAT IS MACRO COUNTING?

Macro counting is a method of eating to fulfill certain gram goals for calories, fat, carbs and protein. These are the only areas of the nutrients label that you pay attention to during the process.

This process can be time consuming, but it teaches you discipline and accountability. The process requires you to track EVERY SINGLE THING you put in your body through those four nutrition label areas. You calculate your goal for each category through easy math equations (see below). Many choose to do this on apps like MyFitnessPal, or you can manually track them like I do using a spreadsheet – it helps me be more accountable.

HOW DO YOU COUNT MACROS?

As mentioned, you calculate your goals through simple math. Start by weighing yourself on an accurate scale. Knowing where you start is important, and being honest with yourself on your weight is even more important.

Once you know your body weight, you want to calculate how many calories you should take in to maintain your weight. Multiple your body weight by 14 to know your daily calorie intake. If you’re aiming to lose weight, subtract 500 calories from that number, or add 350 calories if you’re looking to gain muscle. This is your final calorie goal.

Now it’s time to calculate your three nutrient categories: protein, fat and carbs. Your daily protein intake in grams is equal to your body weight in pounds. If you weigh 165 pounds, you are expected to take in about 165 grams of protein daily. For fat, you will multiply your body weight by .3 to determine daily intake in grams.

Protein = body weight in grams

Fat = body weight x .3 in grams

Carbohydrates are a bit more complicated math. First, you must convert your fats and proteins to calories. There are approximately 4 calories per gram of protein and 9 calories per gram of fat. Multiple these numbers from your goals calculated before and add the totals together. Once complete, subtract this number from your daily calorie goal and divide by 4 (there are 4 calories per carbohydrate, so dividing it by 4 gives you grams). The total equation looks like this:

Carbohydrates = (Daily Calorie Goal – ((Daily Protein Goal x 4) + (Daily Fat Goal x 9))) / 4

OR FOLLOW THESE STEPS

Daily Protein Goal x 4 = Protein in calories
Daily Fat Goal x 9 = Fat in calories
Protein in calories + Fat in calories = Already used calories
Daily calorie goal – Already used calories = Remaining Calories for Carbs
Remaining calories for carbs / 4 = Carbs in grams

In order to keep progressing and to prevent plateaus, adjust your macros once a week after weighing in – if you’re losing or gaining weight, your macros should also change based on your new weight.

EXAMPLE

Weight = 160 pounds
Calories = 160 x 14 = 2,240
For Weight loss = 2,240 – 500 = 1,740 calories per day
Protein = body weight = 160 grams daily
Fat = 160 pounds x .3 = 48 grams daily
Carbohydrates = (1740 – ((160 x 4) + (48 x 9))) / 4 = 167 grams daily

My daily macro goals would be:
Calories: 1740
Protein: 160g
Fat: 48g
Carbs: 167g

WHAT’S SO HARD ABOUT THIS?

Besides the math, this lifestyle choice can be really difficult if you’re not conscious of what you eat. We forget that even the healthy foods can add up quickly – a large apple can have 25 grams of carbs! This method really teaches you to stop and think before you shove bad food into your mouth and make healthier lifestyle choices instead. It takes a lot of long-term effort and desire to want results in order to make this lifestyle method work for you instead of various fad diets that ultimately result in failure.

I learned that counting macros also allows for flexible dieting, meaning that you should never restrict yourself, as long as it fits in your macros. Do you want that cookie? Eat the cookie! Just make sure you log it into your macros and compensate your eating for it. Don’t sacrifice going over your goals if you can, but failure is inevitable if you restrict yourself to healthy foods only. Feel free to spoil yourself, but set limits so you don’t go overboard. I love to give myself one cheat, guilt-free meal a week. This doesn’t mean that I’m eating a lot of fried or fast food and sugar, but rather going out and making smarter eating decisions, like a grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried, etc.

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

The best way to get started is to calculate your macros using the method above, and simply track everything you’re eating. Once you see the numbers going into your body, begin to understand what foods are high in in certain nutrients, and what alternative choices you can make instead. One thing for me to break was carbs – I love bread, but sandwiches and chips were the biggest buster of my macros. I had to learn to find alternatives, like lettuce wraps and eating plain cold cuts instead of packing everything on a sandwich.

Below is my favorite way to track my macros. I developed this spreadsheet when I found that I really didn’t like the MyFitnessPal app and there wasn’t a viable replacement that I liked on the market. The app is very convenient when out and about or for not having a food label on you, but that is strictly all I use it for. When I used the app, I found that I was under reporting my food because they make it easy to simply change the quantity or not understand what all was in the food I was eating. Looking at the label and writing it down in pen made me committed to it – if I said 20 crackers, then I am only going to eat 20 crackers versus putting 20 in an app and eating more without updating it.

DOWNLOAD MY CUSTOM MACRO MONITORING SPREADSHEET!

WHAT ARE THE RESULTS?

I think the best result I found from this process has been my increased energy without a reliance on any sort of food or drink. I no longer need my ultra-sugary Starbucks lattes in the morning and crave savory, protein rich foods instead like eggs. The aches and pains of my digestive track and torso are gone and I feel nearly no issues with certain foods affecting me. I also feel like I haven’t given up anything – I am a HUGE dessert person but when I look at sweets like cake now, I think about how sweet it is. Even though I crave those items, I can’t help but to think “I’ve had that before, it’s good, but I know exactly what it tastes like” – the taste of fitness success will stay with you much longer than that cake will!

Because this diet is so flexible and you set your own goals, you can gain, lose or maintain using this method and be as healthy as possible! There is no failure if you have your own accountability – if you lie to yourself, then you’re just plain screwing yourself out of achieving your own goals. No one else can do this for you but yourself.

BEST TIPS AND PRACTICES

  • Don’t harp on yourself too hard – if you cheat, just get right back on the bandwagon. One mistake doesn’t have to ruin your whole day or week.
  • Make sure to think of this as a lifestyle not a diet – this is a way of living and isn’t something you should give up after a few months once you lose some weight.
  • Don’t make yourself feel forced doing this. People who diet often fail because they’re can’t stand eating fruits and vegetables all day, but make sure you fit foods into your macros that make you happy and fulfill that need.
  • Don’t just monitor how you look, but write down how you feel daily. Do you feel bloated today? What did you eat that made you feel this way? Do you feel energetic – how can you replicate this feeling every day? These types of questions help you find foods that fuel your body instead of dragging you down.
  • Don’t stress yourself about going to the gym, not everyone is made for it. Try getting some sort of physical activity in daily, whether it be walking around your work twice a day for 15 minutes each or going to a class you want to try. 70% of your success in being healthy is about food, and fitness should only compliment that.
  • Try eliminating sodas and anything that isn’t natural. You’ll find a huge change in your whole digestive system and stamina!
  • Protein is the hardest macro to achieve, so here are my favorite high protein snacks and meals: a morning protein shake with coffee and chocolate protein powder (tastes just like a mocha with half the bad calories!), deli turkey with a hard-boiled egg and strawberries, celery and almond or peanut butter, chicken with vegetables, shrimp with brown rice, and turkey meatballs with zucchini noodles.
  • Drink at least 50-75% of your body weight in ounces of water per day – it will change your skin and body for the better! I purchased two 33 oz. reusable water bottles (one for home and one for work), and constantly am drinking out of them.
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Fitness, Life and Marriage

My Favorite Paleo Dessert Recipes!

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Fad diets are totally in, but paleo is something that I have rooted in my cooking – it focuses on whole, natural ingredients replacing processed food that many generations before us didn’t have. Not only has this style of eating changed the way I look at food, but integrated well into my flexible dieting routine. Enjoy a few of my favorite paleo dessert recipes to share or save for yourself!

PALEO APPLE CRISP

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LEMON BERRY SKILLET CAKE

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PALEO CARROT CAKE LOAF

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CHOCOLATE CHIP COCONUT FLOUR PUMPKIN BARS

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GLUTEN-FREE PUMPKIN DONUTS

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DEATH BY CHOCOLATE BLENDER BROWNIES

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PALEO LEMON BARS

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Fitness, Life and Marriage

This or That: On-The-Go Breakfast Options

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There’s nothing I love more first thing out the door but to dream about that delicious latte hitting my taste buds matched with a perfectly flaky croissant and creamy butter. A;though we can dream, the reality is that I would easily be a very heavy individual if this was my daily kickstarter. We all know that our weight and health are something we all think about, whether or not we want to change it – it’s something that causes us to be active, live longer and thrive as individuals to survive the craziness that is life.

Since breakfast is the most important part of the day, and we all live the on-the-go lifestyle of ciaos and fast food, I am excited to share my favorite meals that are great for your first meal of the day while traveling to work. No meal is ideal, but making the smartER decisions is what’s important.

coffee

This is my first thought every morning – if you’re not a black coffee drinker like myself, and don’t want to haul in your own special creamers and sweeteners to work every week only for your coworkers to mooch off you, this is a great option for your health and your wallet. Not only is the cold brew options absolutely delicious, but it’s also a bit less expensive than your average handcrafted drink at Starbucks. You lose the protein from the lack of milk, but gain the benefit back when you save of the sugar and carbs.

sandwich

I’m a sucker for a good breakfast sandwich, but making smarter decision is essential when fueling your body. Turkey sausage and egg whites are great alternatives to traditional bacon and eggs to lower your fat intake and cholesterol.

savory

I have become addicted to sous vide egg bites and actually started replicating this recipe at home as part of my meal prep for the week. The lack of breading makes them so low card and they are flavorful beyond belief. The wrap is just as good but for half the calories, you are just as filled.

smoothie

After yoga on the weekend, I love a good smoothie, but I know they are laced with sugar and resulting carbs. Panera’s superfruit smoothie is my new go-to with no fat, half the carbs and 15g less sugar than the Starbucks strawberry version.

sweet

Not everyone has a savory tooth in the morning, and our go-to snacks are usually laced with chocolate and sugar. Even our muffins have hidden sugar on top of the extreme amount of carbs. Oatmeal is a great superfood to help you be more healthy and can be sweet with sugar alternatives like fruit and agave versus brown sugar and maple syrup.

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Fitness, Life and Marriage, Uncategorized

Healthy And Easy Weeknight Recipes For Your Home

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There’s nothing worse than coming home from a long day at work and needing to make dinner. Our minds go straight to frozen or fast food, making it quick and easy for you to get to bed sooner. We often let our guards down by the end of the day due to laziness and let our health slack, which is the worst time to gouge your calorie goals! To make it a little easier, I want to share my favorite weeknight recipes that are simple, minimal and require little time to keep yourself on track! Click the image to reveal each recipe.

basil pasta

Prep & Cook Time: 25-35 min.
Calories – 709; Carbohydrates – 66g; Fat – 23g; Protein – 58g; Sodium- 1626mg

cajun shrimp tacos2

Prep & Cook Time: 20-30 min.
Calories – 660; Carbohydrates – 72g; Fat – 28g; Protein – 24g; Sodium- 1680mg

chicken milanese

Prep & Cook Time: 25-35 min.
Calories – 856; Carbohydrates – 46g; Fat – 54g; Protein – 46g; Sodium- 1527mg

chili lime salmon

Prep & Cook Time: 40-50 min.
Calories – 619; Carbohydrates – 25g; Fat – 43g; Protein – 39g; Sodium- 1630mg

Chive chicken

Prep & Cook Time: 35-45 min.
Calories – 500; Carbohydrates – 16g; Fat – 29g; Protein – 46g; Sodium- 1018mg

parm cod

Prep & Cook Time: 30-40 min.
Calories – 500; Carbohydrates – 19g; Fat – 32g; Protein – 37g; Sodium- 1746mg

provolone meatballs

Prep & Cook Time: 30-40 min.
Calories – 566; Carbohydrates – 24g; Fat – 36g; Protein – 45g; Sodium- 1564mg

template

Prep & Cook Time: 35-45 min.
Calories – 548; Carbohydrates – 43g; Fat – 33g; Protein – 20g; Sodium- 1387mg

turkey wraps

Prep & Cook Time: 25-35 min.
Calories – 564; Carbohydrates – 32g; Fat – 35g; Protein – 33g; Sodium- 1172mg

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Fitness, Life and Marriage

Favorite Spring Recipes For Your Summer Body

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Summer is just around the corner and with the blooming of spring, along comes some rich, beautiful ingredients fresh from Mother Earth to grace our tables. There’s nothing I love more than a recipe that squashes my hunger (or sweet tooth!), but also feeds my body for performance and health. This time of year, I am thrilled to share my favorite go-to recipes for success, especially since our family has a cruise coming up at the end of the season!

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salad


yogurt cake


 

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Fitness, Life and Marriage, Uncategorized

Five Ways To Build Healthy Lifestyle Habits That Stick

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We all have habits in our daily lives – our routine of getting up in the morning, the steps we take each morning upon arriving at work and even the nasty habits like nail biting or procrastination. At this point, we all know that we can change any habit we want, but it’s always harder than you can imagine. For me, I have built myself around habits as a hyper-organized individual, but it doesn’t mean that all habits are good habits. So, how can transform those negative habits into something more positive? With a little patience and persistence, anything is possible, but my five favorite steps are always a starting point when I want to make a change in my life.

GIVE YOURSELF TIME

The average habit takes 66 days to build – 66 DAYS! Some false studies in the past has had us all doing it wrong, saying that the standard is doing something 9 times or for 21 days will build a habit, but these are all completely false. Recent studies have found that the average time it takes to completely change or build a habit is over 2 months, so giving yourself time to build the repetition is key to your success. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can;t change yourself overnight,

UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKS BEFORE STARTING

Making a big change can be highly altering to your day or lifestyle, so knowing how it works is important. Looking to workout more and lose weight? Learn more about weight loss strategies and what may work for your goals first before creating severe calorie deficits and hitting the treadmill for two hours a day. Through a little research, you can find a better fitness journey that aligns with your goals better without wearing yourself down, like card cycling or weight lifting. Knowing more information on your goal is key to your success and creating the right plan around your habit building.

DON’T QUIT IF YOU MESS UP

Cheat day? OK! You can’t always live two months doing the same thing and it’s OK if you mess up or take a day off. Don’t do it too often or too early in the process, because it can possibly destroy everything, but recognizing how and why you messed up is important to mentally preparing for restarting. If you’re trying to build a habit around dieting and fitness, and you splurge on a little fast food for dinner, don;t see that as an ending point to your journey. Use it as a refresh button to motivate you the next day for that extra 20 minutes on your gym sessions or a few extra vegetables instead of carbs in your meals. Each failure is the beginning to a relaunch.

PUT TOGETHER A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL CHECKLIST

I’m the kind of person who thrives on lists – if it’s not written down, I will likely forget it and this has been a huge part of my process in building a habit. When I opted to go back into the full-time workforce, thinking about my daily nutrition was never an issue because I just had to walk to my fridge when I worked at home. Being in a place no that offers food that may not always be the healthiest was causing a riff in my fitness and nutrition habits, so I had to build out another habit of creating meal plans for my week and following them like a checklist every night when I made my food for the next day. Packing my lunch became easier because I knew exactly what to pack, but it also took the thought out of my nutrition because all of my nutrition was pre-calculated. By building my food prep habit, I supported my fitness journey to be an overall healthy person.

FOCUS ON THE LONG-TERM

Every habit should be a journey – something you want to permanently see or see for the long-term. You’re putting a lot of energy and brain power into ensuring that it works, so why waste it on just losing ten pounds now? Build out a habit that will cause you positive success for the long haul and not something that will wear you out quickly. Remember that fitness example from earlier? Hitting the gym for two hours a night, seven days a week for two months may cause quick weight loss, but you will be absolutely exhausted all the time and your personal or professional life my suffer from taking time out of them. Invest in yourself for the long run and make goals that are sustainable, like ensuring you eat vegetables as 50% of every meal two meals a day or doing an hour at the gym three days per week. These goals will not only support you better, but they’re more sustainable for your long-term success.

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Fitness, Life and Marriage, Shopping

5 Tips To Simplifying Your Food Routine For Financial And Nutritional Health

Being just my husband and myself in our home, and working very different work schedules, we found ourselves in a pattern of fast food and no cooking, making us spend more money in the long run and not looking out for our health. For months, almost years, I have been trying different food methods to avoid the “I’m tired and just going to pick something up” in life. Many said try meal prepping – my husband and I are both not fans of anything that isn’t freshly cooked. Others said dinner delivery services – which are amazing, but can be pricey and don’t satisfy all 21 meals you need in a week. So finally, for those of you who need the stability of both nutritional and financial value in food, I have found my top five tips for simplifying your food routine.

KEEP A LIST OF ITEMS YOU NEED AND TRY TO AVOID MORE THAN ONE SHOPPING TRIP

Every time you run out of something, write it down. Keeping a running list of needs helps you to not only remember the huge selection of purchases you need, but also keeps you focused on why you came to the store. To prevent yourself from overspending more often than you planned, try to make only one grocery trip per week for all the things you may need. If you have to go back, make a B-line for what you need and get out of there. Don’t shop or wander, because you know that will just be trouble. With your handy list, you should know exactly what you need and can get out of the store in record time.

TIP: Use your Notes or Reminders/Lists app on your phone to keep the list so that it’s always with you and can me regularly monitored. You can share Lists with your significant other so they can add to the list as well. 

EVALUATE THE DIFFERENT BRANDS AND NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION IN THE AISLE

Too many of us stare at an aisle with 30 different brands and types of tomato sauce or whatever you may need, and it can be really overwhelming. It’s important that you observe the aisle before just quickly selecting the brand you know. Store-branded goods may not always be the most financially savvy decision because different brands may have BOGO sales that are cheaper per item. Additionally, reviewing nutritional labels and comparing brands can be a huge influence on your purchasing decision. A brand may have high fat or carb content, but the healthier brand is only a few cents more. It’s all about finding the balance of nutrition and finance.

TIP: When a company is running a BOGO sale, compare the price per item to other brands and not the total price. Two jars of pasta sauce may total $4, but when one other brand’s jar is $3.50, you’re getting the BOGO for only $2 per jar and now you save yourself from buying it next time. 

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USE CASHBACK OR STORE APPS FOR COUPONS

There are so many FREE opportunities for you to get money back that you don’t even realize. it may just be a few dollars, but overtime it really adds up. I learned this method in college when I was only spending $150 a month in groceries. Always check the store’s app to get coupons or special deals. My usual spot is Meijer, and when you register an account, you can add hundreds of coupons to it, then you only have to enter you phone number at check out to get the great deals! No more paper!

Great apps like Checkout 51 are also very helpful to get cashback on purchases. They partner with retailers and brands to provide specific discounts on goods, and all you have to do is scan your receipt after check out into the app. But, always be savvy with your numbers – if Heinz Ketchup is $4.00 with a $.30 rebate on the app, but the store brand is $3.50, you’ll get a better deal by purchasing the store brand than getting the rebate on the app. This is important to know that apps aren’t always giving you the best deal on the shelf, and stores may have offers on the app that aren’t on the shelf.

TIP: Keep a small pocket calculator with you when shopping and add each item up when you add it to the cart. By the time you hit the end, you should have a pre-tax idea of how much you’re about to spend at the register. 

CREATE A CONCISE AND ORGANIZED SHOPPING LIST

This has become one of my most obsessive habits. Before I go on any shopping trip, I make a very detailed written list of exactly what I need from my digital list, and divide it out by area of the grocery store. This way, I set a path for myself through the store (while happily avoiding the bakery) and know exactly where to go next. I also can manage what I’m purchasing and not meandering around trying to remember why I even came to the store or making another trip when I forget something, because that’s how my cart gets filled with garbage food.

TIP: Take a picture of your grocery list before shopping to have a starting point next time on what you usually buy.

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DON’T MEAL PREP, BUY FOR RECIPES

More recently, I learned this from doing home delivery cooking boxes. They send you the exact ingredients and quantities you need to prepare a meal. The ingredients are fresh and it’s not giving you tons of leftover that you’ll never eat. Before going shopping, I look up recipes I want to cook (I usually buy groceries for two weeks at a time with a small trip in the middle for fresh produce if required) and make a grocery list based off the exact requirements needed for the recipes. Home Chef offers a great recipe library that provides you with a list of ingredients required to make that meal, and their nutritional facts! Flip through their menus and simply print them out. Store them in a binder for quick reference when you sit down to make your grocery list so that grocery shopping preparation becomes minimized over time. This method is great because you’re not just reheating food, but cooking it fresh in a timely manner needed for your household.

TIP: Mark your family’s favorite recipes with a color or folded corner for quick reference!

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