Protein: It’s Not Just For Bros

For most of my life I didn’t know or care about how much protein I was eating. Like, who could give a shit if there was no meat on my pasta, right? I was relatively thin during most of those years and despite having taken a single nutrition course in college, it just never dawned on me how important protein is. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that muscle meant anything to me. Before that I just wanted to be “smaller” and lighter, but I never really got any more toned…which made me think that I needed to be even SMALLER. At that time I thought I could just eat less…and less…and less…and I would eventually get “there,” wherever that was!

Nowadays my goals are completely different and I’m in love with the hunt for muscle, as are many other women. But often they don’t realize just how important nutrition is when trying to meet physique goals. It’s not just how MUCH food you eat, but WHAT food you eat.

If there’s any one macronutrient that most women are definitely not getting enough of in their diet, it’s usually protein. Protein is a major building block of our muscles and bones, and even our skin, hair, and nails. So when trying to build or maintain muscle we especially need a large sum of protein.

While I don’t prefer to prescribe specific nutritional programs for my clients, I like to advise them to eat approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. This amount would essentially help to cover all your bases for building and maintaining muscle and help a bit with satiety when dieting. This amount is a lot more than the average woman is getting from her morning energy bar and scoop of peanut butter she’s slathering on her afternoon celery sticks. (By the way, peanut butter is not a great source of protein… Sorry to break it to you. It’s a great fat source though!) So since this recommended amount of protein is so high, and because protein is such an essential building block, we MUST prioritize it in our diets and we MUST be conscious of how much we’re eating.

I like to tell my clients to structure all of their meals around their protein source. Carbs and fats can fluctuate as needed, but protein should always be a constant. I would advise spreading it out evenly throughout the day. Say you like to have 3 full meals and 2 snacks a day, take your weight and divide it by 5. That would give you the approximate amount of protein you should have per meal. For example: for a woman who weighs 130 lbs., she would do the math as such…

130 ÷ 5 = 26 grams of protein per meal

This is one reason why eating many meals a day is preferred, as sometimes it’s hard to get in so much protein in a single meal.

Many people seem baffled when I tell them how much protein they should be eating to help them reach their goals, and one reason is because they just don’t know WHERE to get that protein from! They often automatically assume that they need to start chugging shakes, but that’s not the case and it’s also not where you should be getting most of your protein from. Real food is generally preferred.

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Now I apologize in advance for not having many vegetarian friendly options listed below, but that just isn’t my expertise. I am definitely an omnivore, as are most of my clients, so I generally get most of my protein from meat (chicken, beef, turkey, pork, fish, etc.), eggs, some dairy (like yogurt, milk, or cheese), and then supplements of course.

People often ask me about my opinion of certain protein powders and when to take them. First off, there is no magic to using protein powders. They are simply a supplement, and what I mean by that is, they are used in place of one of the more traditional forms of protein I listed in the paragraph above. It’s not always easy or convenient to bust out a chicken leg after a workout, but a shake can totally fill that gap. You can have a protein shake at any time during the day to replace a meal or just the protein source of that meal. I generally have one after my workout and sometimes I’ll have one before bed if I need to get my protein numbers up for the day. Again, anytime is A-OK!

Many women seem to be afraid of protein shakes because they think they’re going to “bulk” them up or something. Here’s the deal: the only thing that is going to “bulk” a woman up is excess calories, so avoid “mass building” protein powders that are chock-full of calories. These are specifically designed to help individuals build mass; fat or muscle. Stick to the powders that are less than 150 calories and have 20+ grams of protein per scoop. This will leave room for extra calories from fruit or milk (or whatever!) in case you want to make a full meal-replacement shake.

One of the most common questions I get is “what is your favorite protein powder?” My favorite powder is Trutein by Body Nutrition, and it has been my favorite for several years now. Tons of flavors and I haven’t had a bad one yet. Plus, the macronutrient profile is perfect. Lately I’ve been purchasing it through Best Price Nutrition as they seem to have the ‘best prices.’ And as for protein bars, you just can’t beat a Quest bar. Damn, they’re good! So good that I eat one every day and always look forward to it.

I hope that cleared a few things up. Please don’t be afraid of protein! It’s way too hard to go overboard on it and it’s really your best friend when you’re trying to build or maintain muscle OR lose fat!

Super-Easy Meal Prep With My PSP Model

As you may have noticed, I put a heavy emphasis on nutrition. Why? Because without focusing on your nutrition, your training results are probably going to be lackluster, unless you’re some sort of a genetic freak. For the rest of us who were not born with the bodies of the gods, nutrition is going to play a very key role. Like seriously…the most important role; particularly in fat loss or muscle building.

Now unfortunately, most people tend to have the most problems with the nutrition part of the equation. They often enjoy working out, or at least are relatively good at getting their workouts in. But when it comes to nutrition they get a bit lazy. And honestly, lazy is okay! You just have to recognize that you ARE in fact lazy and find some work arounds, like I do. :)

Clients and acquaintances are often asking me for advice on nutrition, and of course, I’m always happy to advise! My advice is to always focus on the “big rocks.” But what exactly are those? Let’s discuss…

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There’s generally 3 steps I tend to follow when planning my own diet, and I’m at a point where these are just habits. I don’t have to think about them too much anymore. But when you’re just starting out it may require much more thought, just not for long.

In lieu of simplicity, I have developed a little acronym to help you remember the 3 steps I like to follow. The acronym is PSP; Plan, Shop, and Prepare. So now let’s go over exactly what those all mean!

Plan: Step 1 is to plan. You absolutely have to have a plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? And we don’t want to fail when we have big goals for ourselves! So this is the most important step. Decide what you’re going to eat for every meal, every day, and write it down. What sources of proteins, carbs, and fats do you need? What extras do you need to make those things tasty? Plan it out, meal by meal.

Shop: Step 2 is to shop. Once you have a plan, make a shopping list and hit the grocery store. Stick to the list. Don’t get a bunch of extras. It’s very rare when I pick up something that is not on my list and probably considered “unhealthy.” So try not to be tempted by all the extras at the store. If it’s in the house you’ll be more tempted to eat it (chips and ice cream can often be my downfall). So stick to the plan and stick to your list! Want a sample of what I buy on a regular basis? Well, I will be sending out a sample of my weekly shopping list to all of my e-mail subscribers this week. If you’re interested in seeing what I buy regularly or if you need help setting up your own shopping list, you can subscribe here by clicking on this link—> Send me your shopping list!

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Prepare: Step 3 is to do some prep work. This is FREAKING IMPORTANT! Like Big. Time. So pay attention.

Right when I get home from the grocery store and after I’ve put mostly everything away, I throw my berries in a colander and start rinsing them off and preparing them for snacking throughout the week. I’ll also start rinsing and chopping any veggies that I use for snacking or for adding to eggs or other dishes throughout the week. At some point early in the week and shortly after shopping, you want to start cooking a butt-load of food, or at least prepare it to be cooked (chopping, seasoning). Anything you can do in advance to help keep you from wavering from your diet plan is going to be key. Make it easy for yourself! A little bit of extra prep work on the front end will make sticking to your diet much easier as you’ll be less likely to veer off course and order take-out or something. I’ll often buy pre-seasoned fish, pre-chopped veggies, and pre-washed salad mixes because I know myself. If I have to do too much work to prepare it, I might not do it at all. So KNOW YOURSELF! Sometimes spending a little more to buy food that has already been prepped for you is totally worth it.

Fruit and veg

I like to cook a lot of meat at once several times during the week. For example, when I grill chicken I will cook a couple pounds of it and use some of it for lunches for my husband and I, and add it to different meals, like salads.

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The next thing I would like to mention is not exactly a step, but something to keep in mind. I often like to keep my foods and prep work….

Same, Sane, and Simple

What do I mean by “same?” Well, out of ease and simplicity, most of my meals during the week are the same from day to day. I don’t feel the need to get too creative. Sure, I might swap out one fruit for another, or one meat for another. But in general, I use the same model for my meals every day.

Also, my recommendation is to keep your meals relatively simple. If it’s going to take you 30 minutes to an hour to prepare every meal, you’re going to throw in the towel real quick. That might be fine for dinner every night, if you’re into that… But for breakfast? Hell no. Keep it quick and simple so that you’re not likely to blow it off and stop by McDonald’s on your way to work. Go ahead and feel free to use spices, marinades, and other yummy things to kick the taste up a notch, but every meal does not need to be Food Network quality. Yah mean? Oh, and by the way, if you’re eating “clean” and tend to avoid processed food, don’t be afraid to use salt, especially if you drink a lot of water.

Just about every day I have a protein shake and a protein bar (at separate meals, obvs), and this is just because they’re yummy AND they’re quick! No thought required! But they’re great for filling in those protein gaps.

And finally, by “sane,” I mean don’t cut foods out just because some ‘rando,’ new trendy diet says so. If you like dairy and it agrees with your body, eat it. If you like wheat products and they agree with your body, eat ’em. If you want to go hard during the week but then have a couple slices of pizza on the weekend, go for it. Life’s short, baby. Eating “healthy” doesn’t have to be so hard. Even swapping not-so-healthy things out with slightly “healthIER” things can make an overall difference.

Hope that was a little helpful! Again, if you’re interested in more details on how to shop or structure your meals, sign up here for my e-mails! —>Send me your shopping list!

Stop Eating Like a Child

It’s time for some hard talk you guys…

At some point you have got to grow up and take responsibility for yourself.

Are you still wondering why you haven’t “lost the weight?”

Well, have you tried?

I mean, have you REALLY TRIED?

You know what you need to do. It’s not complicated.

Losing fat is actually really damn simple. It may not be easy per se’, but it’s simple as hell. 

Now, I’m not talking about going from 18 to 15 percent body fat (for women). That might be a whole different story as it can be quite a challenge. But getting from 30 to 20 percent body fat… That’s not complicated.

Let’s go over the two basics:

1. Eat more quality food.

2. Eat fewer calories.

Boom. Done. That’s it. I’m setting exercise aside for this discussion. You can be one hell of a skinny bitch without exercise. You might not have much muscle “tone,” but you can be thin.

You’re an adult. Stop feeding yourself like a child. That sugary breakfast cereal is not serving you and you KNOW that. That McDonald’s hamburger and fries you had for lunch aren’t serving you either, and you KNOW that. But maybe you don’t want to admit it because then you might have to change and do something about it. This is the time to be a grown ass adult and make the decision that best serves you, your health, and your goals.

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Me…as a child…chowing down on ice cream…

Want my advice? Start food journaling. Write down everything you eat. Every damn bite. You don’t have to tie emotions to these foods, but you do need to think about them. What’s serving you? And what is doing a disservice to you? Does this food make you feel full and satisfied? Or does it leave you wanting more?

Stop looking for the magical diet that will change everything for you. Come up with your own diet. That’s the only one that’s going to work for you in the long run. You know what all diets have in common?  They all pretty much cut out certain food groups and/or force you to increase your intake of higher quality foods, thus you’re inherently cutting back on calories. Yep. So any diet will work as long as your calories are reduced and you’re eating more protein and fiber.

I know I’m coming off as mean or harsh, but sometimes we all just need a bit of a reality check. You have to stop this incessant hunt for secret information. You already have it all. You just need to start acting on it and putting what you know to use. It’s seriously not complicated. You just have to want it bad enough to feel a little hungry here and there and eat things that MIGHT not taste as good as Ben and Jerry’s 90% of the time. You can totally go for the Ben and Jerry’s the other 10% of the time. Got it? Good.

The TRUTH About Following a Training Program

So you’re in the gym, doing your own thing and minding your own business (well, kind of…) and you notice someone hopping from exercise to exercise… They appear to have no rhyme or reason to their workout. The weights they’re using aren’t particularly heavy and the individual isn’t even pretending that they are. Their eyes are wandering off and they seem to be more concerned with watching others than they are with their own workout.

I know you’ve seen this person before. I see it all the time. And while it’s great that this person is in the gym, moving their body, they most certainly do not have a solid plan and unfortunately, their results will likely be lackluster.

It’s very rare when I go into the gym without a plan. It’s not that I can’t program “on the fly,” it’s just that I’d rather not. Usually I have specific goals I’m working towards, and goals require week in and week, or month in and month out, or year in and year out of focused training. Going into the gym and just doing willy nilly with no intensity isn’t going to serve you much. If your goal is to be able to just generally move better, then okay, you can probably get away with whatever. But if you’re trying to change your physique or get stronger in any spectacular way, you have to have a plan.

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Programming is both an art and a science.

If you’ve been following solid programs for several years, you might be able to get away with successfully designing your own program (considering you’re not preparing for a powerlifting meet or physique competition.) But if you’re pretty new to the game of lifting I would suggest finding a program that has been written by a professional or pay to have one written specifically for you. You want a program that will:

a) move you towards your specific goals,

b) fit well into your specific lifestyle, and

c) is appropriate for your level of experience (beginner, intermediate, or advanced).

If you seriously only have 1 hour, 3 days a week that you can commit to training, don’t select a program that requires you to be in the gym 5-6 days per week, 2 hours per day. The same goes for those of you who have never stepped foot into a gym. Starting with 5-6 days a week of heavy lifting is going to put a hurtin’ on you, so start slower.

Some pros to going into the gym with a program are:

1. There’s no guessing. You can walk into the gym with confidence and get to work straight away.

2. By not having to pause and think “what’s next?” you can move quickly from one exercise to the next, thus keeping your intensity up.

3. The professional who wrote your program probably knows more than you about training. Let them do the challenging work of writing the program. All you have to do is follow through consistently and results will come.

4. Results.

5. Results.

6. And yep, you guessed it: results.

You will get results. As long as you continuously bring intensity and focus to your workouts (which is much easier when you have a plan), you will certainly get results.

Floating around the gym floor aimlessly will get you nowhere fast. You know those people you see year after year who never look any different? Chances are they don’t have a plan (unless their goal is to maintain where they’re at…and honestly, that’s perfectly okay too). But if you do want to make some progress, get your hands on a good program.

In addition to following a program, I would also strongly advise tracking your workouts. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember what I had for dinner last Wednesday, so how on Earth would I remember how much weight I squatted, for how many reps, for each set, if I didn’t write it down? And how would I improve week to week if I didn’t keep track of those numbers? That’s a quick way to stagnate! And not because your strength is plateauing, but simply because you can’t remember what you lifted last time, so you’re just picking a random number to lift each week. Boo. Bad idea.

So you must have a plan to follow if you want to be successful. Extraordinary results require extraordinary efforts, so if you want to be extraordinary, you have to act extraordinary.

If you have any questions about what type of program might be best for you at your current stage, I’d be happy to help out and give you some suggestions! There’s all sorts of programs out there, and depending on your goals, one will probably be better than the other. Feel free to contact me on Facebook or post here in the comments if you need some guidance. I know program hunting can be quite a challenge! But trust me, there’s at least one out there for you.

Happy program hunting! :)

Jess Xx

Bikini Body or Bust? No thanks.

This year I’m feeling an overwhelming sensation of the “eff its.”

Lulz, what?

It seems like ever since I started living a “healthy lifestyle” I’ve been stressed every Spring and Summer about being “bikini ready.” It’s a very subjective term but you can essentially break it down to: “How lean can I get?” and “How much can I make those muscles pop?” I still CARE about my physique, buuuuuuut, not enough to go to extremes. I’ve actually never really gone to extremes. I’m not into competitions and I don’t expect to ever be into them. While I have done a fitness photo shoot and would possibly like to do more in the future, I didn’t even go to extremes to get there. But let me just say that it did take a very concerted effort to get photo shoot lean; I just went about it a bit slower and healthier than others might. It was still quite a challenge though.

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This year I’m not stressing about it. I maintain where I’m at pretty effortlessly these days. Yes, I work out pretty regularly, and I eat healthy MOST of the time. I’m pretty confident in my physique despite it’s “imperfections” or “flaws,” as some might call them. I know I train hard and I know I eat well, despite those things. I’m not going to become manic about them though. There’s only so much that I’m willing to do about them.

So like many others this year, the way I’m going to attain my bikini bod is by “putting a bikini on my body.”

But just because I personally feel this way at this stage in my life doesn’t mean that you should feel the same way I do. If you are personally not satisfied with where you’re at, go for it. Push a little harder. Diet a little harder. Do what you need to do. But I do want to warn you; getting there won’t necessarily make you a genuinely happier individual. There will be things that you most likely love that you will most likely have to give up to achieve something that is viewed as unattainable by many.

I’m personally torn on how I feel about the bikini-bod. While I really, really believe in self-love and acceptance, I also understand the need or desire to achieve something the average person does not have. Deep down inside I’m a meathead who loves not only how bodybuilding and fitness make me feel, but how it makes me look. I still love working for a look you do not see every day walking down the street. Chiseled arms, muscular hamstrings… You know.

I’m personally trying to find where I lie on the spectrum of self-acceptance and self-improvement. I don’t believe they have to be completely separate from one another, but sometimes I find fitness pros lean too far one way or the other. As a fitness professional, I feel it’s my job to help push you to push yourself to reach a little further than you would on your own. I’m not here to de-motivate you or pull you back from your dreams. But, as a health professional, I do not and will never promote you pushing yourself to extremes to reach those dreams. I personally believe that once you step out of the borders of health (when your body starts fighting back), it’s time to reign it in a bit and learn to love your body for where it’s at and for what it can do.

Don’t get me wrong, I think you should love your body for where it’s at at any stage during your journey, but as someone who has “been there and done that,” I too have struggled with self-acceptance, so I get you. For many it can be a practice that comes with time. You may always find yourself struggling with some part of your body, and while that’s kind of sad, I also think it’s kind of normal. The hard truth is that some of the thinnest and most beautiful women I have ever known seem to have the most mental struggles with their bodies.

I’m sorry that this post didn’t give you a run-down of exactly how to get a “bikini body,” but that wasn’t the goal. You know how to get there. It generally requires a solid exercise routine including weights and cardio, and a healthy diet with a decent caloric deficit. And if you didn’t know how to get there, well, BOOM! There ya go (barring any metabolic issues you may be encountering). It’s actually putting in the work that’s the hard part. By slowly developing healthier habits, you too may just get to a point where you are mostly happy with your body 365. Year round bikini bod? Now that’s what I’m all about.

For those of you who are concerned about your body not being bikini ready at this point, well, time is running short! It might just be time for you to say “eff it,” put on the damn bikini, and get out there and have some fun this summer! ;)

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My 3 Rules for Dieting and Exercising “On The Road”

April was a whirlwind of a month. If you’ve been keeping up, you may know that I was traveling for the entire month; visiting North Carolina, New York City, and Boston along the way. For someone who loves their gym-time and normal diet, you can imagine that this had the potential to be quite a scary ordeal. No regular gym. No regular diet. Ugh.

But hey! I survived AND I came out of the month mostly unscathed! So how did I do this while actually enjoying my month-long vacation? I made some rules for myself that allowed me to come out at the end of this trip mostly looking and feeling like I did when I left. I didn’t feel bloated and miserable. I essentially felt like my normal self! And that was the goal.

So here are the 3 rules I came up for myself:

  1. Workout when you can. I didn’t make it an overarching priority to workout every. single. day., but I did workout when it made sense and when I could easily fit it into my schedule. In other words, I wasn’t scheduling my day around my workout, I was just fitting something in when I could. In my normal day-to-day life I would prioritize my workout. I have a specific time I like to train and it generally doesn’t move much. But if I’m on vacation, it’s just not going to be THAT important to me. I also decided to allow myself to take this opportunity to let my body rest a bit. I kept most workouts less than 30 minutes and generally opted for full-body, dumbbell circuits. I also did A LOT of walking. A LOT! Some days we walked over 12 miles, like in Boston and New York. So I wasn’t so concerned about getting in a workout on those days.

    ICYMI on Facebook, here’s one of the workouts I did a few times with the 25lb dumbbells I brought with me:

    Perform 5 rounds, resting as needed.

    A1. DB Overhead Press x10
    A2. DB Romanian Deadlift x10
    A3. DB Plank Row x10
    A4. DB Squats x10
    A5. Push-Ups x10
    A6. DB Glute Bridges x20
    A7. Oblique Crunches x20 (one side at a time)
    A8. DB Swings x20

  2. Eat healthy when you can. Eating while on the road can definitely be a challenge. You don’t have your kitchen with you. Getting to grocery stores isn’t always easy or a priority. Means of refrigeration and cooking are not always there. So you have to make due somehow. My plan was to “navigate the middle.” I would focus on mostly eating as healthy as I could but I also wasn’t going to absolutely deprive myself of the “fun” stuff.

    Because we ate out so much, I often opted for high protein meals with lots of veggies and minimal starchy, ‘bready’, or sugary carbs. Hyooooge salads were a favorite go-to of mine when I could get my hands on them. If we ate out for breakfast, I would opt for an omelet most of the time (except for that one time I had greek pancakes in Astoria, NY…) And if we were staying with our parents and our moms wanted to cook something awesome for breakfast or dinner, you know there was no way in Hell I would turn that down! I would just watch my portion sizes.


    I also kept Quest protein bars on me all the time for snacks or even for breakfast on busy days. And in the car I tried to stick to jerky, fruit, and nuts.
    BUT I also had a couple burgers along the way. And pizza. And cupcakes from Magnolia’s Bakery. And NY bagels… Lord, I know there was more fun food along the way and I don’t regret a bite of it. Don’t judge.

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  3. Don’t stress over it! You’re on vacation DAMNIT! This rule is pretty self-explanatory, right? Show yourself some compassion. Life is not about dieting and working out. It’s about experiences, memories, friends, family, and all that good stuff. Eating well and exercising just helps to improve your quality of life (unless you’re the type to let it run your life…)

Sounds easy enough, right? And it was! Exercise and eating healthy have really just become part of my lifestyle and I don’t physically feel good when I can’t get some exercise in, or if I’m not eating well.  But I also didn’t over-burden myself with it. I didn’t want to stress over it, so I simply didn’t. And you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed myself and had a great time! BUT I was also really excited to get home and get back to the routine that I love and have built for myself.

And since you might be interested in having some proof of whether my plan worked out or not, here’s a photo of me exactly one week after arriving home. After one week of being back in my routine and eating ‘normal’ (for me), this is where I’m at. Yeah, I’ve been leaner, but not without striving really hard for it and fixating on it. Right now I feel healthy, happy, super feminine, and generally more balanced. This is where I’m at today and I’m okay with that. ;)

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4 Unconventional Tips for a Healthy Mind and Body

I recently shared on Facebook that my husband and I essentially split an entire pizza in one night. Yes, I ate my fair share of it, and guess what… No guilt! I’ve honestly been eating A LOT of fun food since he’s been home from a recent deployment. We’ve really been enjoying ourselves, to say the least. But again, I really don’t feel guilty about it. I eat normal or relatively healthy most chances that I get, but if the husband wants to go out for lunch one day, you better believe I’m not going to argue with him.

 I really haven’t been surprised by my feelings towards food lately, as I’ve had this mindset for a while now. I have to admit that it has taken a while for me to get here mentally. Generally, when people start off on a health and fitness journey to lose fat, build muscle, and what not, they tend to really dive in and anything that might possibly hold them back (according to some lore they once heard) from reaching their goals will be shelved. Sometimes people even cut out all fruit and dairy, which seems insane to me unless you genuinely don’t like fruit or dairy, or they cause you discomfort. 

Despite all this “fun” eating, I haven’t gained a pound. 

Yep. 

Not a single pound. 

My skinny jeans and workout clothes all fit exactly the same. Now, I haven’t exactly lost any weight either, but considering all the yummy foods and drinks I’ve been embibing in, that’s of no surprise. But it’s also not the goal right now. 

  

So how did I get here? How have I become more physically and mentally stable with regards to dietary changes that at one time would have made me feel disgusting and bloated, along with making me feel guilty and undisciplined? 

1. I built a ton of muscle. Okay, Jess. What the hell does that have to do with anything? Well, 1. I weigh a lot more, which means I can get away with eating a little more without negative repercussions. And 2. The large amount of muscle I carry has greatly improved my insulin sensitivity. In lieu of getting into the science of how this works, I’ll just get to the good stuff. Training hard allows your body to UTILIZE food better, rather than just allowing it to…cling…and become fat. 

2. When I expect to eat a “fun” meal, I try to make it a priority to get in some challenging anaerobic activity. High volume weight lifting, sprints, and metabolic conditioning all improve insulin sensitivity. So while I may have been eating a lot of good food, I’ve also been putting it to good use by getting in some hard training sessions. 

3. I have stopped viewing food as something I need to “burn off.” Notice how I said in tip #2 that I’ve been putting my food to “good use?” I like to view my food as an awesome, tasty fuel. I view it as something positive rather than a scary thing that causes me issues and makes me fat. Food doesn’t make you fat in itself. But if you take in more fuel than your body requires from day to day, you might eventually create some problems for yourself. So if you’re planning on indulging, prep your body for it by improving your insulin sensitivity and get your lift on! Or, on the back end, put that fuel you ingested the day before to work. That’s a much more positive mindset than “burning off sludge,” right? 

4. I eat moderately all the time now. Life is just too short to cut out all the foods I love 100% of the time. I love a good burger… Pizza… Wine… Desserts… To me, life just isn’t worth living without them! But I also know how to keep it in check. I don’t eat those things every day, but they’re also never off-limits. Putting foods “off-limits” just makes you want it more, so when you finally take the opportunity to indulge in that slice of cake, it can be quite easy to say “eff it” and eat the entire cake instead! So rather than just indulging in an innocent piece of cake, you have overindulged and probably now feel guilty and extremely full…and utterly crappy. Now, if you allow yourself to have bits and bites of delicious things on a more regular basis, accidents like that are a lot less likely to happen. For example, I’m currently on the road and traveling. I’m having a great time visiting friends and family, but I haven’t really felt the desire to overindulge in anything because I honestly don’t have any cravings for anything! Why? Because I allow myself to eat delicious food all the time. AND I manage to stay lean while doing it because I never overdo it. It’s really a win-win situation. 

Maybe the all-or-nothig approach works for some people, but for me it doesn’t. I like the more moderate approach to eating as it makes me feel satisfied and fulfilled. I never feel like I’m “missing out” on something amazing. This approach may not work the best if you’re trying to drop the last few pounds for a fitness photo shoot, but how often in our lives are we really preparing for something like that? For most of us, not often. I’m finding this approach to be much more sustainable than the all-or-nothing approach. Both my mind and body are happier this way. There are never any weight rebounds, there’s less bloating, my thoughts about my body are more positive, and there’s less stress about food. Plus, I just find it easier to stay lean this way.

So for those of you who have found the all-or-nothing approach to be too challenging, go easier on yourself and try putting these tips to use. If you do try them out, let me know how it goes for you! I know I can see myself living this way forever.