Counting Your Macros Isn’t Enough!

Why micros matter even more! Or, do these even matter? Or, do they matter even more?

Let’s jump right in and talk about a topic you have seen all over my social media for the past two years: MACROS. You have heard me use the term macros and micro nutrients. You’ve heard me talk about the three types of macros. So, now, you’re going to be shocked to hear me say that paying attention to your macros doesn’t cut it. Paying attention to your macronutrients isn’t enough. If you want serious results, in your gut, in your body, in your energy, in your weight, in your lifestyle, in your sleep- counting and tracking your macros isn’t going to cut it. Macros aren’t enough. That’s the fast, hard truth.  And, I talk more about this listed in the video at the end of the blog – be sure to read that far.

But, before we do get to the truth of the matter, let’s talk about what macros are. Macros is a short word that means “macronutrients.” They are the three main nutrient groups that make up the mass of your food. They are fats, proteins, carbohydrates.  You hear of diets/plans every day that tell you to eat high fat, low carbs or other plans that tell you to eat high protein, high fats. But you mostly hear of plans that tell you to cut carbs to lose weight. 

Protein packed, colorful macro dense dinner!

What you will NOT hear from these programs (mentioned above) is how to manage, how to balance your MACROS + MICROS in order to feel great and maintain weight and maintain body function for everyday living. Because most programs/plans are out there to sell you a weight loss program, they aren’t going to tell you the small details of getting your micros/macros lined up with each other to feel good above and beyond what the scale says. 

Now, I know a lot of people ask what their “numbers” should be. How many proteins? How many carbs? How many fats? What should my percentages be? Or, questions come into my inbox about what the app, MyFitnessPal, suggests for them. Well, no two people are alike and numbers are like the scale: they’re only a tool. I am not going to give you specifics in those numbers here in this blog. Though, if you are looking for numbers, I would highly suggest my nutrition program for September. But… let’s skip that part and talk the truth about micros. 

When I say that macros aren’t enough, I want to expand on your MICRO nutrients. As I said, macros are your carbs/fats/protein that make up your food in general. Micronutrients are the even smaller nutrients that make up your macros. So, within your micro nutrients (which make up your macros) is where you will get your vitamins and minerals. In the case of vitamins – we are talking about vitamin A/B/C/D and so on that are often found in your plant based foods. In the case of minerals, we are talking calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, potassium, zinc, iodine, iron and so forth. And, fun fact – water is a mineral as well, so we are also talking about the water volume/content of your foods.  

The big question/confusion/concern that we have about macros and micros is this: do all macro nutrients contain the micro nutrients you need? The hard fast truth: NO. The expansion: the whole foods macros will contain micronutrients.  Keep reading. 

Getting your macros + micros all together through real foods.

Let me expand. You can get your macronutrient food categories from any food you want. You can get your carbs from wine, chocolate, beer, soda, donuts, candy, protein bars, sugary oatmeal, and many other sources. You can get your proteins from protein bars, cheap protein powders, canned meats, dried meats such as jerky. You can get your fats from sugary nut butters, sugar coated almonds, coconut candies and many others.  Will these junk forms of macro nutrients give you your micronutrients? The hard fast answer is NO. So, no, not all macro nutrients contain your micronutrients. 

On the flip side, if you think WHOLE FOOD and think “farm, not factory” and you choose your macros wisely, they will give you the micro nutrients you need to keep your body running. In the case of whole foods that essentially come from a farm or field at one point, you could take in your carbs in the form of sweet potatoes, yams, beans, lentils, quinoa, rice, oats, barely, and many other plant based items that were  once planted and harvested by a farmer. In the case of proteins, again, think farm not factory. Your proteins could come in the form of fish, poultry, meat, eggs, tofu, tempeh, or vegan forms or yogurts/creams. Again, these items were once grown and raised by a farmer, not a factory. In the forms of fat that comes from a farm, you have seeds, nuts, oils, olives, coconut, cheese, cream, whole milks,  and many others.  These are all MACRONUTRIENT items that will provide you a wide variety of MICRONUTRIENTS in your minerals and vitamins. 

Even if you are not a fan of “farming” or “industrial farming” or raising animals for the sole purpose of being food – I still highly suggest that you consider if your food has come from a farm or factory in order to have thee highest quality, most micronutrient dense out there. 

In the next couple of paragraphs, I am going to give you some farm versus factory examples: 

Carbohydrates: Let’s compare beans, which are planted and harvested versus granola. Yes, both of these foods are your macronutrient group carbs. They are both going to give you the carbohydrates that you want to increase your “fuel.” They both yield about the same number of calories per serving. But, do they both yield the same micro nutrients? Are they both going to be the micros to give you the maintenance work your body needs to sustain function and remain full for a few hours?  Let’s look at what nutrients are in each one. Beans: protein/carbs/iron/potassium. Granola: carbohydrates, possibly a small amount of protein along with a long list of ingredients, but not a whole lot of micronutrients. Not a whole lot of vitamins and minerals. And even if there is, is it  the cleaner form or your micros? Your beans were once the item planted and harvested on a farm. Your granola was processed in a factory. 

Proteins: Let’s compare a protein bar to a serving of eggs. A typical protein bar has about 130-150 calories. Two eggs is 140 calories. 140 calories in a bar versus 140 calories in your eggs – your macro protein is met in both amounts of that protein. But, are your MICROS met evenly? It is likely that yes, the protein bar is going to give you some micros, but are they the cleanest form you can get? And, are you getting fillers in addition?  In eggs, you’re going to get more than just protein; eggs also contain healthy cholesterol, potassium, calcium and iron without packing in a ton of extra carbs and fillers. In your bars, you’re going to get extra junk carbs in what they add, you’re going to get fillers, fake colorings, fillers. Again, the bars have come from a factory, whereas eggs are a product of a farm. 

Fats: Let’s compare peanuts to a cheap off brand peanut butter. In your serving of peanuts, you’re going to get about 160 calories, 2.4 grams of fiber, 4.6 grams of carbs, 14 grams of fat and some protein. In your typical off brand peanut butter, you will get 190 calories, less fiber, 8g carbs (twice as many as peanuts alone) and some protein. What you will also get in an off brand of peanut butter is a longer list of ingredients: sugars, molasses, vegetable oils. So again, you’re choosing the real food form that originated as a plant, from the ground instead of a jar that came out of the factory. 

Greens/Veggie for your micros, rice for your carbs, chicken for your protein – one of my favorite chicken curry salads!

When it comes down to the nitty gritty of getting in your REAL foods, versus fake foods, it is about getting in REAL MACROS, REAL MICROS. It is about really working the small pieces of your body as a machine. Think of your body as a car. You are the mechanic. You have to do the dirty work to keep your machine, your car running.  Now that we are on that analogy, let me talk about macros/micros. 

If you want to just look at the big picture of Macros, filling your body with your allotted macronutrients is like filling your car with just gasoline and expecting your car to run for a decade and go on a road trip without ever checking any other details of the car/machine.  

If you want to look at the more detailed picture of your micros, filling your body with your more specific MICROnutrients is like checking everything in your car: your fluids, oils, windshield wipers, brakes, engine, wheels, tires, and more. Checking your MICROS is like checking in on these small maintenance pieces that keep your gut, your energy, your hormones in check – all the things you need to have functioning all day. 

Let’s talk further about this analogy. What happens to a car when you put in the wrong gas or the incorrect oils? Your car recognizes these items as foreign and doesn’t use them to function properly. Your body is the same. 

When you decide to consume real macros and real micros, your body knows its job. The body’s job is to use, absorb, and excrete calories/nutrients. This simply means, your body will use the energy to get through the day feeling energized and focused. What your body doesn’t use, it will either absorb and retain, or excrete via bathroom visits. 

The opposite happens when you decide to consume your macros through junk foods. When you make the cognitive decision to eat the processed junk, your body is taking in a ton of fillers that do nothing for our nutrient count. So now, instead of just using/absorbing/excreting these calories, your body is seeing these ingredients as “foreign objects” “dirty”  – “toxins” much like a car would. Now, instead of using the calories right away, your body recognizes these objects and foreign, and quickly gets confused. Your body gets confused and reacts before it can use any of what you fed it. So, how will the body react? Well, it reacts in a variety of different uncomfortable ways: constipation, bloating, inflammation, stomach ache, headache, lethargy,  or diarrhea. Majority of the women will end up with bloating and constipation – being backed up for days.  ANd, why is this? All because we choose cognitively to eat fake foods as our macro/micro nutrients. 

That being said – my next point is that women are very prone to being “backed up” due to the ingredients that our body cannot and does not recognize. Yet, we continue eating it out of “comfort.”  The average female body is capable of holding and storing up to 8 undigested meals. That is how backed up we can get. Almost two days of undigested meals, sitting… in our gut, on our bones, in discomfort.  These habits are creating chronic pressure, chronic pain on your body, on your gut, on your spine, on your skeleton structure. It’s so unhealthy on your organs and it is so unnatural to be so full of “filler food.” What eventually happens with these “fake macros” that are stuck in your body disguises itself as back pain. And, from your back and from your spinal cord, the entire body gets messed and just feels miserable. Again, it is disguised as chronic pain, but often starts in the cognitive decision so eat poorly and choose foods that are not contributing to your true micronutrient needs. 

For more about COOKING / APPLYING the concepts of macro/micro nutrients in your kitchen, be sure to catch my COOKING WITH THE COACH video here, where I teach a short class on screen about how to apply these to real life. But also keep reading below the video.

Again, I reiterate – Macros Isn’t enough. When meal planning, meal prepping, cooking and choosing snacks – ask yourself: Do these macros also give me my micros. Can I make a meal from these? How can I use these micro/macro nutrients give me a meal?  For further information macros, micros, meal planning and other nutrition consultations, be sure to check out the coach services Heather has listed for September and how to enroll in the Nail Down Your Nutrition workshop before August 28th. For all other services, visit the “2021 options.”

Personalizing Your Workouts to YOU!

Who knew that home workouts on zoom would become so popular and STAY popular over the last year? I know that home workouts have always been a thing. Beachbody, Les Mills, Peloton and so many other companies have been successful in creating home gyms for years. But there is just something more intimate and more special about joining a zoom with an instructor you know and a group of women that you connect with. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

And, if you missed my previous blog posts about bringing your health home, be sure to check them out here and here to learn more about how workout in your own space successfully.

While most programs do have a modifier on screen, you are able to choose which moves to follow to personalize each block of work to YOUR ability. However, in the case that you are working out with an instructor like myself, it may be hard to determine how to make the moves move with you. That’s where my demonstrations, my tutorial videos, and visuals come into play.

Just a few months back, I created this first visual for my clients to help them determine if their movement would be considered basic exercise, intentional workouts, or full on training. This visual itself helped motivate some to step up their exercise routines to becoming a full on workout objectives. But now that we have identified our workouts, we should talk about how to tailor the workout to YOU even with a dozen or so others on screen.

In your routine, you need to be able to go out full force with 100% effort in some moves, and maybe slow down and modify some others. You don’t have to modify an entire workout, but it is okay to modify the moves that aren’t working for you.

Speaking of modifying – modifying isn’t meant to make it easier. It’s meant to make it work for you. Plus, some times modifying is adding challenge in order to accelerate calorie burn and maximize your time.

Many trainers will tell you that you should workout for longer periods of time, and more often. Gym rats may tell you that you should spend 30+ minutes just in the cardio room, 30+ in the lifting area. Some may say you need HOURS in the gym. In my humble opinion, I disagree. I believe that you can MAXIMIZE your success in less amount of time if you follow a few differnet strategies:

Now, if you are looking to maximize your calorie burn in less amount of time, be sure to follow the “increase your intensity” column. If you are looking to take it easy on your body in order to make it the full session, be sure to follow the “decrease your intensity” column.

If you have never followed one of my zoom workouts or recordings, I invite you to try one. Know that I do not have a modifier on screen with me. But if you use the strategies listed above and the methods I teach, you will leave with an excellent session challenging your mobility, balance, and strength.

Just a little road ride adventure…

Now, I know that I normally write to you about wellness, fitness, food or something else in the health industry. But once in a while, I like to invite you into my life, what I do for fun, and what the non-running/biking weekends look like. I like to share how we live life on the edge, manage to live in one pair of clothes for 4 days, and just go with the flow.

It has become a yearly tradition that when I am tapering for a marathon or ultra, my husband and I take a long motorcycle trip. In previous years, we’ve ridden the motorcycle Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and other places. We tend to choose the warmer, desert states.

This year, we chose to stay in Colorado and do a large loop around the bottom of the state. The main point of our trip was to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

How does this relate to wellness? It’s simpy that I want to share the fun adventure of feeling free from things in general – like, what it’s like to go in one set of clothes, and only take one other pair of running clothes and a swim suit. I literally packed everything for 4 days in a gallon size dry bag. But, that was all part of the adventure and just feeling free and well.

The packing: The packing is always left up to my husband. The case on the back of the bike is about the size of a carry on. In that, we managed to fit a few snacks, a couple water bottles, a change of clothes for each of us (which was our running clothes and swim suits) and flip flops. And, one hiking pack for us to share had we decided to hike along the way.

Usually, that amount of gear is fine for us for 4-5 days. However, this trip we encountered more rain, hail and storms than we’d like to talk about. There was a day of just drying out clothes over and over again.

Do I drive? Hell no! I don’t drive a motorcycle. I get the pleasure of riding passenger on back, taking photos and videos along the way. Riding that motorcycle is my husband’s first love and passion, so he gets the joy of riding, taking the curves too fast, and enjoying the scenery. It is always great to spend a weekend focused on his hobbies, rather than mine. That’s exactly what our motorcycle trips are.

On this particular trip, we rode Telluride to Durango in one shot, and stayed the night their. The next morning we attemped to make it through rain storms from Durango to Pagosa Springs, where we stayed a second night. The ride to Pagosa was wet and cold. Very cold! Luckily, Pagosa Springs is home to some of the best hot springs in the state and we warmed up right away. On day 3, we rode Pagosa Springs to The Great Sand Dunes and then To Alamosa.

Riding over Wolfe Creek Pass was one of my favorite sections of the trip. It was stunning – cold, but very stunning. Wolfe Creek Ski area had loads of snow, so it was chilly. But with the green ground and blue skies showing through, the colors radiated energy. It made coming off the pass a great experience.

We reached the Sand Dunes just before storms started. Much different in color than Wolfe Creek Pass, it was still beautiful. We aren’t usually into riding sandy or rocky terrain, but…. how could you pass up the opportunity?

Day 4 was our longest ride: 250+ miles in one stretch. It was also the best weather day. We rode Alamosa to Gunnison, via beautiful canyons. From Gunnison, we headed back to Telluride.

It was a glorious trip – highly recommend even if you do it by car. Absolutely enjoyed every bit of it – other than the rain.

May we all continue to be well (part 2)

Last week my husband and I were talking about summer, races, events, training and more. We started talking about what summer was like last year. He mentioned that I was running a lot, training for my 50 miler, and outdoors more than I was indoors. For the first time since my ultra training, I expressed to him that “training for a 50 miler was the loneliest thing I have ever done.” He looked at me ready to listen. I explained to him that when you are ultra training in the mountains, on single track trails, in the back country you are literally alone for hours on end. There aren’t people there to listen, no one to chat up with. It is just you and the serenity of nature FOR HOURS – from sunrise, sunburn, sunset. Most days, that is great and well. But after 6-7 days in a row, 6-8 hour at at time, that is the loneliest thing I have ever done in my life. Not to mention, when you aren’t alone – you don’t have the energy remaining to interact and engage in conversation Then, I was explaining to some friends that some days when I just want time to myself to relax and reconnect with my thoughts, I go on an 8 hour run. My friend replied, “most people choose a massage and spa day….. not 8 hours running alone.” That’s when I realized that it’s super odd to spend that much time alone, lost in your thoughts, and sometimes lost from the world.

I share that situation in order to share how lonely this past year has become. Most days I don’t feel lonely and lost. I have great friends and a fantastic online tribe of women. I connect with others on facebook groups, zoom workouts, hikes and runs. But, there are days that I do feel alone. It is time to stop covering up how lonely 2020 was and how difficult it has been for some people to re-connect with others. I have spoken with enough women about this topic to know that I am absolutely not alone on this sentiment. There are many people struggling to overcome their loneliness and reconnect on a positive note.

With it still being the month of May and mental health awareness month, I think it’s just as important as ever to acknowledge these struggles. After one year of isolating, staying home, quaranTEAMing, and vibing with your tribe, it is important to recognize your own level of comfort with gathering back up with people. And, I am not talking about social distance, masks, groups, gatherings. I am talking about your ENERGY – the level of introvert, your level of enthusiasm, your level of ambition to interact. No doubt, interacting on a positive note takes both energy and enthusiasm. It’s not easy to do. And re-interacting with others is going to take stimulation out of what vitality you have to give to others. You have to be able to gauge your level of stimulation, but also respect yourself when enough is enough. And, we all have to respect each other’s level of stimulation.

Furthermore, what I am seeing is that as the world begins to open up more and more, some people are more anxious than what they realized they would be. The anxious energy is creating various forms of emotions from self doubt, to hatred towards others, hatred for going out, meanness, stubbornness, or just solid rudeness. While there really isn’t a good excuse for this, we also have to learn not to take it personal. (myself included) Each and every human is approaching new territory these days; it is territory that we haven’t experienced. We have to work together to chart these uncharted waters.

While I don’t have the answers for this uncharted territory, my best suggestion is to take small steps. Start by getting together in outdoor groups with people you know and trust: hikes, run group, outdoor fitness classes. Progress forward by joining up with friends of friends that you know you could trust. And as awkward as it sounds, hug someone or shake hands or high five. But physically interact with someone and mean it. Let that hug teach you it is okay to bring the human touch back to reality. And, if that physical touch is too much, take back to the good ol’ smile. Just smile.

We are all in this together! For the last two weeks of May Mental Health Awareness month, I encourage you to come into connection with your mental health and smile to others around do you. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses in this area. Offer the energy you can, and come home with a happy heart.

May We All Be Well

With May being Mental Health Awareness month, I know that there are posts, blogs, videos, podcasts and resources all over the internet with sources of help and suggestions. While I’d like to offer some sort of solution, help, or assistance with Mental Health, that’s just not me and my credentials. I am all about wellness, working out, eating right and feeling healthy in our own bodies, but the coaching about mental capacity is a tad bit different. Though, I am always happy to offer up my story and my life.  You can see my full video here, as well as read the blog post below:

In honor of mental health awareness month, I thought I should offer you a little insight into my life that I’ve been hesitant to share over the years. In my 34 glorious years on this planet, I have only considered myself “healthy” for the last 6 years. Prior to getting healthy, I did dabble in the world of nightlife, partying, drinking unreasonable amounts, and smoking my fair share of hooka. During college and in my first “big girl job” I was a city girl. I went to college in Saginaw, MI and then moved to Doha, Qatar. City life, right? My idea of fun was beach days and disco club nights. 

In 2014 I decided it was time to get healthy. I started running more and I enrolled in a workout program. Over time, nutrition became important to me and I started learning how to eat for the healthiest version of me. Long story short, the last six years have been the healthiest years of my life. But, just like a virus, I am not immune to mental health concerns or struggles. 

I’d like to say that I don’t struggle often or that anxiety attacks are a thing of the past. However, a year of social isolation from my family and a lot of my friends has been a challenge for me, just as it is for everybody.   For the last couple of months I’ve been struggling with some other health issues, sleep, anxiety, irrational fears, emotional roller coasters, crying for no reasons, and other drama that a year of isolation has brought on. Like many others (even if they don’t want to admit it) one of my largest mental struggles this year has been choosing a vaccine.  And, I was really scared to admit and share that. I wanted to be that person, who looks out for others, cares for the good of all. But I really struggled. A lot. Spoiler alert: I did get vaccinated.

But anywho, I’ve really struggled with the idea of vaccinations, medical experiments, what’s authorized, versus approved. I’ve struggled with deciding on a vaccine, and the fear of adverse effects. I’ve struggled with all the “what ifs” that could negatively occur with or without a vaccine. Honestly, (and yes, selfishly) I struggled/feared about how to manage my anxiety if adverse effects make it escalate. I honestly didn’t know how I could manage.  It’s been a long hard internal battle for a while. And, I know I am NOT alone, so I am sharing in hopes of others relating to this as well. 

While this past year has been extremely difficult, it has also been wonderful as far as finding myself, finding a great group of “quaranTEAM” friends, discovering an online community of like minded women, and realizing that outdoor events are great.

However, I’ve spent a full year mainly gathering outdoors for hikes, runs, biking, paddle boarding, camping. I really haven’t participated in many indoor gatherings. I’ve run/biked over 2,000 miles in the last year, mostly solo – which is some of the loneliest minutes you’ll ever have. I’ve spent more time in my own head than I ever have, and it’s not always great for my mental health (hence, we are honoring Mental Health Awareness Month). 

So, needless to say, even a coach like myself struggles with the mental health piece of wellness. It’s hard. There are hard moments, there are hard days. Sometimes there are hard weeks. The truth of the matter is that hiding these hard times won’t make it any better or any easier. It is important to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is okay to say to a friend “I am in a funk, and that’s really hard as a coach to admit.”  Your friends will understand and be there for you. And, quite honestly, your clients and co-workers will be, too. 

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, I encourage you to recognize one thing going really well for you right now and capitalize on that. And, also recognize a thing or two that aren’t perfect and talk about it with someone. Choose to talk about it instead of holding it. If you’re a mom/grandma/daughter/sister/friend to someone, reach out, say hi, ask them how they are doing. Just talk with no agenda. Go for a walk. Get outdoors. Just get together. 

Exploring Your Potential, Finding Your Worth

Last month we hit one year of living the new, “virtual” lifestyle. While it hasn’t been ideal for everybody, we did take time you celebrate one year of our virtual communities, new friendships, and our newly found value of health over the year.

If there’s one thing a year of COVID precautions has taught our culture, it’s that we do indeed want to live, we want to keep our bodies safe, healthy, and protected. Whether in terms of COVID or not, we value our lives and the lives of others, including the elder. We are willing to go the extra efforts to protect ourselves and others in order to live out a life of quality and potential.

We are learning to go the extra mile to prioritize our own health, our potential, our self worth.  This is a topic I presented my clients with last week.  I asked some very tough questions and scenarios…

I challenged the ladies to think about the theme “peak potential.” I challenged them to recognize that there are some areas of our lives where we are living above and beyond potential, yet on the flip side there are areas where we are not fully reaching maximum potential.  

I presented a few open ended questions and let the ladies take notes. A week has passed and we’ve had a chance to explore our potential.   Exploring the answers within, where our potential is, where we are maxing our energy, has not been an easy feat whatsoever. It’s a deep topic, and can be overwhelming.  But one thing for sure is that my wish for all women and their mental health is to not only know their potential, but value their worth.

Speaking of potential + self worth together….

Every day that you spend working towards your potential is 24 hours of honoring your worth, knowing your value.  Every hour that you spend bettering yourself is 60 minutes of honoring your that. Every minute is 60 seconds of time well spent.

As you inch closer and closer to your potential each day, you will see, recognize, and honor your worth. Your value will shine. You will no longer question the concept of taking care of you. 

If you, the reader of the blog, relate and/or struggle with your potential, value, self worth I leave you with a few tips to try each day:

  1. Speak kind to yourself.
  2. Move and stretch your body each day, always ending with a hug to yourself. 
  3. Drink your water, slowly and intimately with relaxed deep breaths for self awareness.
  4. Breathe: Take in fresh air, outdoor breaths everyday.
  5. Journal and write positive affirmations.  Read them.
  6. Hold your head high and radiate confidence.

As you begin to follow these practices, you will inch closer and closer to your maximum potential all the while finding your worth. You will recognize the importance of valuing your worth and never accepting less.

Too much of a good thing?

We’ve all heard the phrases that there is “never too much of a good thing.” But when it comes to our food, how does that apply to our nutrients. 

We all know what happens when you eat too much sugar (even in fruit), too much fat (even in seeds/nuts), or too much sodium.  Surely we know what happens when we eat too many carbs, breads, pizzas, and pastries.  Even recently our plant-based society has been very clear to us about what happens when you eat too much meat. And the keto flings have shown what happens when we consume too much protein in general. The effects  of having too much of any of these are drastic, ranging from diabetes to heart disease, to obesity to the  emotional concerns I blogged about last week. 

But rarely do health gurus address the concerns of having too much vegetables or too much healthy foods in general. Can there be such a thing as, “too much of a good thing” when it comes to eating clean? 

The answer is yes, there is a fine line of what portions are good for you and when you’ve had a bit too many. The reality is that your body can only absorb so many nutrients (vitamins +minerals) at a time. You can only process so much fiber at one time, right?

What happens when you take in too much food in one sitting is that your body has to decide to use, absorb, or excrete what you’ve consumed.  However, when you’ve overeaten the true portions of fruits, vegetables, plant-based foods in general, protein, sweeteners, honey, syrup and other “healthy” options,  your body will react in different ways prior to ever using, absorbing, and excreting the nutrients. Your body may respond via bloat, inflammation, aches/pains/cramps, constipation, or the opposite – diarrhea.  Yes, these happen even with healthy foods such as kale, spinach, eggs, fruits, and more. 

These reactions – bloat, inflammation, aches, pain, cramps, constipation, diarrhea – could be creating more gut, digestive, and intestinal issues than you started with prior to trying to choose healthy eating. It is super frustrating and makes it feel like being healthy isn’t worth it. The truth of the matter is that eating healthy and monitoring your food is hard work! Portioning, paired with ratios of food is hard freakin’ work.  You cannot just say “but I eat so much fruit and vegetables, I should be so skinny.” Because it isn’t just about eating nuts and berries on salad all day and calling that nutritious.

So, where do you go from here and how do you handle that fine line of incorporating fresh produce into a nutrition plan without overdoing it and feeling gross? 

As I have spoken about in the past: it comes down to PORTIONS + RATIOS together. What’s the difference? The difference is that with portions, you could portion out just one food group, eat that smaller amount and still feel gross if you are expecting your body to process it by itself. With ratios, you are creating the correct ratios of your macros (carbs/proteins/fat) to support your fruit and vegetable consumption. By using correct ratios, the digestive system of the body can function correctly without feeling clogged up, or opposite, greased up ready for quick excretion. The different portion sizes and ratios will depend on the specific person’s body and nutritional goals.     


In terms of ratios – what should you “portion & pair” together in the correct ratios, and what should you avoid eating solo? Again, it is going to depend on the person and their body.  In general, it is safe to say that you probably shouldn’t consume sugary carbs solo. Bread, pastas, bagels, desserts and such are going to make you feel bloated, inflamed, and fairly constipated when consumed on their own. However, if you opt for a healthy quality bread, paired with egg for protein and avocado for fats, you have paired and ratioed your carbs/protein/fat combination for improved digestion.  It is also safe to say that you probably shouldn’t just eat protein and fats solo either – that’s nearly the keto diet and leaves your body without the correct carbohydrate/glycogen to function properly. 

When speaking in terms of portions & ratios, it makes more sense to eat several times a day in what we’d call small “macro based meals” rather than just a couple large meals.  For a sample template or food list: see the following visuals.

Starting with these lists in the correct portion sizes is a great start. Using these lists for the best foods gives you great options for salads, stir fries, stews and even breakfast omelets. For additional ideas of how to build a meal plan with these foods, never hesitate to reach out and/or utilize the nutrition program I’ve created.

Eating & Emotions: the connection

After a full year of social distancing, physically isolating and completely changing our entire way of life and altering our norms, there is no doubt that one’s mental health and emotions are in question. Whether speaking in terms of emotions, depression, anxiety, nervousness and the feeling of the “unknown,” our mental wellbeing has changed over the past year. I say OUR, because I mean all of us:  we, us, our. We are all in this together and not a single person is immune to the emotions that come into play during an entire universal change. 

What I really want to talk about is the connection between our eating patterns and our emotion patterns. The question at stake really is:  Is, what we eat, connected to the emotions (or lack there of emotions) that we feel? 

The short answer is: YES, absolutely. No doubt. 

The long answer – is this entire blog. The truth of the matter is that the food we feed ourselves is the building blocks of our entire body. These building blocks (food/nutrients) of our body determines how we are built – not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Our bodies are built from the inside out; every tissue on the inside of your body is affected by what is put into it. From your gut health, to your hormone health, food and nutrients play a part in who you are. No doubt, your hormone health plays a part in your levels of energy, fatigue, emotions, sleep, feelings and many more aspects of your mental health. 

Furthermore, as I talk about hormone health – I am not just speaking about the women in their 20s,30s, 40s, 50s and beyond who experience body fluctuations. I am also speaking about how we feed our children, specifically our female children. Remember, what we put into our body is how our body is built. Thus, how we feed our female children from young ages is how their gut and hormone health is built. When I speak about the foods that help and harm our endocrine system, I am speaking about ALL AGES of well being here. I am very passionate about this!  (Note: Any moms about there who have gone through the hormonal challenges and wouldn’t wish that on their daughters —– this blog will hopefully be a resource of hope.) 

Over the recent decades, humans have referred to food as basic items of calories in, calories out. As food companies and factories have evolved, what we consume has literally become ITEMS that we should be embarrassed about: poptarts, granola bars, canned fruits, dried meats, frozen sandwiches, packaged burritos, frozen dinners in a box, rice cakes, pizzas from freezers, and so  many other processed items. Sadly, food isn’t the nutrient dense farm to table health options that our country used to have. And, the myth of calories in versus calories out isn’t fully accurate. It is more about macros-nutrient calorie categories in (more about that later.) 

Food has become more about convenience and cravings more than it has become about the health factor. Back to the idea of your body being built from the inside out and every tissue being affected. When we fail to provide our bodies the healthy and nutrient dense calories it needs, we are building a foundation more susceptible to disease. Most commonly, food related disease will manifest itself as obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, liver disease or many others. Less spoken about, and often debated about, food related disease can and will manifest as mental problems, depression, anxiety, nervousness. These are overall wellness diseases that are taking place in today’s society, and have a dramatic impact on the wellbeing of our bodies, our families, our relationships.  These are also diseases that overlap each other in many cases. I, myself, have felt obese and depression together all at once:

The part that is severely overlooked is how eating and emotions are related. While the way you eat will not cure and entirely prevent diseases, the nutrients that you put into your body can and will build a better, healthier foundation of cells and tissues within your body. You can, and will, determine your gut health and your hormone health based on what you put into your body.  But on the flip side, the bad junk you put into your body will feed these diseases.  What you DECIDE to eat is your decision to either feed your health or feed your UNHEALTH.

Let’s get started and talk about the eating styles that trigger poor emotions. The most important word we can talk about is “processed.” Highly processed foods do not carry the nutrient dense calories that your body needs to maintain healthy gut and healthy hormones. In terms of proteins and meats, extremely processed meats such as hot dogs, high sodium sandwich meats, pre-packaged/frozen sandwiches, extremely packaged/boxed burger patties and burritos will not serve your body well. Frozen dinners such as boxed lasagna or pizza will provide your body with more artificial ingredients, added sweeteners, sodium rich additives than they will provide healthy nutrients. When it comes to canned foods – while convenient and possibly a last resort when the produce section is running low – canned fruits/veggies will wreak havoc on your gut and hormone health with the preservatives, additives, and sodium, not to mention the dyes and sweeteners. Choosing the fresher, locally sourced produce that has recently arrived at your store will be your better option. Your fast convenient “protein” or “granola” bars are likely to provide more artificial or added sugars rather than finding true protein or true carbohydrate options. Even when marked gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, keto, and packaged in the most beautiful of packages, these items are carrying ingredients and additives that will destroy your gut health and hormone health.  Digging deeper into the idea of choosing healthy carbs, your “grains” that companies are advertising could possibly be the culprit of inflammation and pain, which contributes to frustrations and depressions. It is all linked together! I cannot say this enough. Choosing a whole, non-processed grain such as quinoa, rice or barley will be a better option than a bag of bread or box of snacks labeled “whole grain.” If you cannot literally see the “WHOLE GRAIN” as you are preparing your food, that label simply means that they began the process with the whole grain. It doesn’t mean you are taking in the whole grain.  It surely doesn’t mean that you are reaping the benefits of the whole grain. Without needing to really mention it, alcohol and sugary beverages are also huge depressants that contribute to the unhealthy wellbeing of the human body and hormones; avoiding them will absolutely help.  I know it feels like we just eliminated the entire aisle section of the grocery store in one store. Probably true.  But, it will do your health, your body, and longevity of your life a favor.

The processed items within these foods, that you mainly do find in the dry food sections of grocery stores, will completely throw off and confuse your endocrine system to the point that your body cannot maintain a natural flow or natural balance of hormones. When your body cannot maintain this natural balance of hormones, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is off balance. From sleep, to energy, to happiness to sadness, to smiling to crying, to extreme moodswings – EVERYTHING is thrown off. 

Now that we have talked about the eating styles that trigger the emotions and imbalance, shall we point out some ways in which we can elevate our emotions and elevate our wellbeing?  As I have said, the presence of nutrient dense foods will help not only improve our eating habits, but also improve our emotional habits and overall health.  I know it feels obvious to simply point out that staying hydrated and eating fruits, vegetables, proteins will help. That’s something that we all know. But sometimes it is a matter of HOW to eat these properly to maintain a healthy balance in our body. We need a healthy balance of our nutrients – specifically our macro nutrients.  It is about taking your macros, from these fruits/veg/proteins/fats and turning them into healthy options in your kitchen, in your meals, on your plate.

While I am not going to get into the science of the macronutrients, (I teach that in my nutrition workshops) I will say that by balancing your macros, you will be able to regulate your body better. From your body fluids within the gut, organs, digestion, body temperature to your energy flow, your mood, sleep and more you feel more regulated from the inside out.  You emotions will feel better.

With your three macronutrients being carbs, proteins, and fat, it is very important to NOT eliminate a macro group. Many such as Atkins tell you to reduce/cut carbs. Other diets like keto tell you to go high fat, high protein. Eliminating calories = eliminating nutrients. Eliminating nutrients = imbalance in macro nutrients = imbalance in your body = imbalance in your hormones. (that’s a topic all on its own.) 

Really though, speaking of the HOW to eat your macros will be the main focus of balancing them. 40% of your calories come from carbs via fruits, vegetables, grains. 30% of your calories come from fats via avocado, seeds, nuts, coconut, cream, cheese. 30% of your calories come from proteins via meat or plant based protein. Maintaining a balance for 90+ days will help build and regular your body from the inside out. 

Now that we have spoken a lot about how eating is connected to our emotions, let me finish this off with a list of the top food items for each macronutrient category that will help you eat natural, locally sourced foods rather than processed foods that destroy your mental health. While you can follow this list on your very own and get creative inmeals, I still HIGHLY suggest a nutrition program with a solid meal plan that brings this all together for you. Need help with that – just let me know, I have got the resources for you.

Happy eating & happy emotions! 

365 Days of Digital Days — losing motivation, enforcing discipline

A year ago this weekend I showed up to the virtual Canyonlands Half Marathon as best dressed…. Well, in my opinion, best dressed. Even in the worst of situations, I do try to be the most energetic, funniest person around. I wore my rainbow socks, bright red running skirt, a “longest beer run ever” shirt and St. Patrick’s day themed headband (not in the photo as I ran). I ran 13.1 miles in the Moab area with others who, like myself, were in denial that the world was shutting down. Who the heck knew that was literally about to be… the longest beer run EVER! 

Just a few days later, on March 17th I wore the exact same outfit to teach my 90 minute spin class at the gym dressed as St. Patrick’s Day leprechaun. Upon arrival, I was informed I’d need to sanitize the bikes/room and yoga studio, and the gym was closing. Caution tape was put up and by noon that day we all excited that particular gym. A year later – I have yet to return to that full gym and they have not resumed group fitness classes. What we thought was a two week closure has officially reached 365 days!  (But, we are celebrating those 365 days of digital discipline, no doubt).

What you have to know about me is the pre-covid days, I taught 24 group fitness classes a week, did private sessions, and coached just a handful of people on the internet. Classes were my pride and joy. Creating choreography and music lists were my biggest hobbies; and seeing participants in my class thrive with the music/choreography together brought energy to my day like no other. 

The first two weeks after the closures were extremely depressing to me. I stayed home pretty much from March 17 until the first part of April. I didn’t see another person, other than my husband for 6 weeks!!! I felt depressed at some moments, a little bit anxious at other moments, and extremely over ambitious at most moments of my day. The “overly ambitious” moments really became a coverup about how I really felt about the world and the new season of “digital days.”  Before I knew it, I was installing a barre into my workout room (don’t confuse barre with bar – we installed a BARRE), pulling out my spin bike, and arranging the lighting for teaching DIGITAL classes.

As you can imagine – it wasn’t long before in my overly ambitious moments, I got the ideas to start teaching digital fitness, digital nutrition, digital cooking classes. From teaching the science of macros & hormones to teaching sweaty workouts, to cooking classes, I brought as much positive energy as I could to the screen. I just felt like that is what the world needed – a little bit of positive energy, with a splash of digital discipline.

Okay, that was a really long anecdote to bring you to the point of my 365 days of losing motivation, only to find DISCIPLINE. If you made it that far through the story, you can imagine that in March/April time, I was fighting depression/anxiety, but it was totally masked by ambition. Through my super sporadic moments of ambition, I did start to find the important, key piece of my own health for the year, as well as the healthy of others: discipline

With having zero races on the agenda, the motivation to train, run, cycle, and lift was lost. Out the window, gone, none. I didn’t need or have my typical 6am wake up time to workout and then head to my classes. I didn’t have my typical run groups to chat with.  Discipline found its way into my schedule, into my mind, into my agenda. And, wow, am I glad that the discipline popped in uninvited. 

What I learned is that if you allow discipline to make its way into your agenda for long enough (3-4 weeks) that discipline transitions into consistency. And consistency transitions into commitments. And following through with commitment becomes victory and pride.  

While I don’t have the best of answers to remain disciplined and committed to your health, I can try to give you a short list to get started: 

  1. Welcome discipline into your home, into your agenda, into your exercise area, into your fridge and meal prep areas. Welcome discipline wherever you need it most. 
  2. Face discipline face-first at least 5x per week. If you can follow through with the discipline to be active, eat right, hydrate well, sleep decently for at least 5 days a week, you will get 20+ days/month. That gives you 2 days a week to freestyle it, but 5x to face discipline. 
  3. Be consistent. If you are consistent in one area one day, be equally as consistent in that area the next day.  Don’t use the productivity of the prior day as an excuse to slack on that area the next day. (Example: if you exercise on Monday, come Tuesday don’t tell yourself “but I exercised yesterday, I can slack today.”) That is not discipline or consistency. Choose consistency in your exercise, your eating, and your mindset. 
  4. Be committed. If you have learned anything in this past year, it’s that commitment to your own health and commitment to the health of others around you can and will save others. It will prevent health scares, illness, and create longevity in the lives of others. 
  5. Take pride in yourself. Embrace and celebrate the victories. When I say take pride in yourself, I mean – value your health, your wellness, take pride in being the best healthiest version of you that you can be. Be proud of the discipline you instill in yourself. 

As you follow this list, I’d LOVE to hear about your successes and how you are feeling from day 1 to day 365. Remember, the days will feel long, but darn are the years short. Make the best of each and every year. As you work on these days of discipline, be sure to post, share, tag me, and celebrate every victory along the way.