2020 felt like we lived 3 years in the span of 1 year. It felt like an exhausting marathon of emotions and worries, with hurdles popping up every leg of the race. I am so grateful and humbled by this year that writing this was hard, hard to reflect on a year that felt like you could just not win no matter how hard you tried. A year that spawned growth and reflection but also pain and loss. Looking back I had an incredible year of self growth and a year of leaning into my health and letting go of body/size focused athletic goals but those goals and accomplishments do not stop today. I am so ready for 2021 and all the promises it holds so here is to a clean slate and one hell of a year!
And with that here it is my list of 20 things I am leaving in 2020 and will not miss in no specific order…
- Broken tent stakes and broken pride – I will not miss the tent that broke in the middle of a wind storm in Telluride in the dark. If this was not a metaphor for 2020 then I do not know what is!
- My white BMW that was completely unsuited for snowy drives and off roading. You went on to a much better life owned by a 16 year old.
- A old job that made me feel less than and never good enough. Constantly struggling to find my passion and fire to be met with discouragement and judgement for dreaming too big.
- Not admitting when I am wrong or have hurt someone I love – 2020 has really helped me become more aware of how I react in situations and how my reactions affect others
- Sodas that are disguised as seltzers at WholeFoods – Another good metaphor for 2020
- Spending 30 dollars on Uber every weekend to go out. I have learned to find joy in staying in or walking/scootering to social events when possible!
- Uncomfortable jeans, pants or really any clothing. If there is one thing I am never doing again it is wearing uncomfy work clothes or outfits. None of that in 2021, comfy clothes only from now on!
- Eating the same 3 meals on repeat – Spending so much time at home has helped me grow my cooking skills and expand my recipe playbook, so for 2021 I will no longer be a recipe repeater!
- The fear of changing plans last minute or cancelling a trip
- The fear of NOT having plans on the weekend or not being constantly busy
- Constantly feeling like my body is a “work in progress” and instead focusing on living in the moment and being thankful for my able body and health.
- Always feeling like I need to be two steps ahead or prepared for anything and everything. You cannot predict the future and constantly trying to be ahead of time takes away from enjoying the now.
- Not listening to my body and never taking rest days
- Forcing myself to do exercises or workouts I don’t like – Running, or boring cardio is a no from me and I have learned that there are other ways to move without compromising my excitement and joy
- Compromising my mental and physical health for others and creating strong boundaries
- Worrying about small issues or inconveniences that are so small in the larger photo they are no worth my time or energy
- Holding on to past grudges or grievances
- Not making time to check in on friends. This year has taught me so much about putting in effort to check in on friends and loved ones and has helped me learn how to better support those around me both near and far in distance. Remembering to text an old friend to see how they are has been a blessing of this year I want to continue!
- Taking for granted my health, my family, my friends and life in general – If there is anything I learned in 2020 it is that nothing in this life is guaranteed and we need to live each day like it could be our last!
- Bad vibes, bad luck and bad attitudes
No more bad vibes here! Let’s go into 2021 full of love, hope and understanding
Getting your greens in shouldn’t have to suck! I will be the first to admit I am not much of a salad aficionado and have only added them into my diet regularly as of recently. It has taken me a long time to figure out what kind of salads I like outside of dressing heavy take-out salads from restaurants. Homemade salads used to be a huge turn off for me mostly because I did not understand how to combine ingredients to make something that not only was good for me but that also tasted good and was filling enough to keep me satisfied post meal.
Kale has always been one of my favorite leafy greens, but it is bitter when eaten raw and can burn in the oven easily. I have experimented with kale-based salads in the past but have always felt dissatisfied with the flavor or combination of ingredients. After some experimenting and an on the fly pot-luck holiday gathering I finally created the perfect summer salad!
This salad recipe was actually one that I found on Pinterest for a 4th of July BBQ and then have modified to add some extra leafy green volume for a workday lunch meal. Here is my easy and colorful Greek inspired summer salad!
- 150 Grams of Raw, Peeled Cucumber, Chopped
- 50 Grams of Red Onion
- 50 Grams of Cherry Tomatoes, Halved (* Can sub for any tomato of choice)
- 10 Grams of Kalamata Olives, Chopped
- 1-2 Tablespoons of Crumbled Feta Cheese
- 50 – 100 Grams of Raw Kale (Depending on your desired volume/ration of toppings to lettuce)
- 12 Grams of Peppered Salami, Sliced Thin
- 1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing
Simply chop and combine all ingredients, pour and mix dressing then serve!
Hope you enjoy and check out my Instagram stories for more of my daily meals and healthy recipe ideas! @who.wod.wear
Unpopular opinion alert! I do not like protein shakes, I actually really dislike them. I have tried a dozen protein powders and have yet to find one that really speaks to me and I would much rather eat my calories than drink them anyways! Because I am a protein shake hater, it can be super tricky for me to get in adequate protein without having to eat weird egg white frankemeals that are odd and unsatisfying. Over the past year however, I have really been able to hone in on the snacks and extra meals that help me hit my protein goals and leave me feeling happy and not hangry.
One of my absolute favorite clean protein packed snacks are Epic Bars! These bad boys have no weird ingredients are made from natural animal-meat to provide long lasting energy and superior snack satisfaction. My favorite high protein flavors are Chicken Siracha and Turkey, Almond, Cranberry! I also love the Bison and Bacon flavors as well, however those do have a higher fat content. What I love about Epic bars is that they are low in sugar and carbs and won’t leave me feeling icky and bloated. An added bonus is my cat loves them too!
A second, high protein snack that is always a go to staple for me is Kodiak Cakes Frozen Buttermilk Vanilla Power Waffles. These are soooo damn good you will not even realize you are eating 12 g of protein per 2 waffles. What I love about Kodiak products are their versatility, whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner these waffles will make you one happy camper. I have also been recently experimenting with their pancake mix for some high protein banana pancakes and all I can say is those are fire and I have to resist the urge to make them every single weekend!
A few other of my favorite protein snacks include Turkey or Beef Chomps Sticks, dry roasted almonds, Trader Joes Teriyaki Turkey Jerky and of course any flavor of Halo Top or Enlightened Ice Cream. I also greatly enjoy high protein wraps for making quick and easy lunches for work. I have even found a few pre -made high protein cold brew coffee choices at my local Kroger or Safeway stores. When it comes to getting in my protein, I am always on team eat it not drink it. I find that drinking my food is far less filling and will lead me to snacking more later on in the day, so it is usually better for me to just avoid liquid protein in all forms. Protein coffees are great though for when I am traveling or just have a really hectic week and need to not think about packing snacks.
Getting adequate protein does not need to be flavorless challenge nor do you have to rely on shakes or meal replacement drinks. The key to getting your protein in is planning, planning, planning! The better I plan my meals and snacks ahead of time, the higher chance I will hit my protein goal. Strategically adding snacks into my day has been a huge help in making sure I am getting close to my protein numbers on a given day. So, get creative, try some new snacks and be wary of any kind of packaged goods that have more than 10 ingredients! The more natural and less processed the snacks are the better they will make you feel and don’t be afraid to double up on eggs in the morning or collagen powder in your coffee since those are easy ways to start your day off right.
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Moving in with your partner is a huge life step! This relationship milestone can be particularly scary for many reasons, but my biggest worry was actually one that very few people think about when taking the leap to cohabitate with their romantic partner. When my boyfriend and I decided to self-isolate together this past April, I was most worried about how I was going to keep up my healthy food habits and continue to track my macros while learning to live and cook with my man.
My boyfriend does not track his macros and does not have a structured meal plan or eating schedule like I do, which initially caused me to be nervous about us living together. I am definitely more OCD/type A when it comes to meal prepping and planning while he is more of a mindful eater who does not pre track or weigh his food. This stark contrast could have potentially negative side effects for us as roommates and life partners and I was super anxious about making things work when the time came for me to move into his apartment.
So how do we eat meals together if I have to weight and track my portions, and he doesn’t! It’s actually super simple, we just make equal portions of food and try to spit things evenly! If I am making 6 ounces of ground beef for me, I will simply weight an equal portion for him as well and make 1 giant pot meal that we simply split down the middle as best as possible. While this is not an exact science, it does work well for me when I am eating for maintenance or being a less strict with my macro tracking. Overall, this cooking method works super well for nights when we both are craving pasta or a ground beef taco bowl but is less cut and dry when it comes to cooking more complicated dishes or want slightly different meals that have some common ingredients.
Another way we make this work is cooking on 2 separate baking sheets. I will prepare 1 sheet for me with my pre weighted portions and 1 sheet for him with his portions if they differ from my own. This allows us to still make a meal together without having to make the exact same portions or veggies. I personally, love mushrooms and kale and eat them probably every other day, while my boyfriend is a mushroom hater and will only sporadically join me in crunching on some crispy kale chips. I am a huge proponent of simple but effective meal making and both my boyfriend and I are not into spending hours in the kitchen each night. One pan/bake sheet meals, work wonders for us when we are trying to eat together but enjoy different protein, carb and fat sources and make for a no fuss dinner.
Cooking together when you have different habits does not need to turn into WW3 or cause you or your partner to feel guilty for their needs/wants. For me and my boyfriend, we try to cook/plan 2-3 meals per week together and then will eat the rest on our own. Sometimes we do more, and some weeks we share less, but either way we make sure to clearly communicate before we cook so that one person is not left with no chicken for dinner. If you are like me and you cannot share your food without feeling anxious about it shifting your numbers, then I highly recommend cooking on separate baking sheets or in separate pans from your roommate/partner. This will allow you to portion control your food while enjoying the same meal as your dinner date! It’s a win win for you both. No need to compromise your goals or feel guilty!
Taking vacation used to cause me more stress than staying home.. Say what??? Who in the good heck does not enjoy a summer vacation and break from the doldrums of daily routine? This girl right here. Vacations use to cause me crippling anxiety and extreme guilt around my eating and exercise habits. The thought of taking a few days away from MyFitness pal and the gym would have me spiraling down a dark pit of fear and worry. Would I be able to eat only clean, non-processed foods while I was gone? Would my friends pressure me into eating “off track”? Would there be a gym at the hotel? These were usually the first thoughts that popped into my head when the vacation topic came up. I used to think of vacation as “ruining my progress” or as a hinderance to my body composition goals. I would go crazy eating treats and heavy foods to come home filled with guilt and shame about my lack of discipline.
This obsession with perfection and rigid mindset around being “on track” or “off-track” for my goals led me to rarely enjoying vacations because I would be so glued to my phone trying to track and measure each morsel of food or every step I took. This eventually led to exhaustion and frustration that usually ended in me saying f-it I am eating the damn fries and going ham on all the desserts and rich foods I tried so hard to swear off. As soon as I returned home the race would be on for me to exercise away the bad foods I ate on vacation, adding in extra cardio to make up for the few days I took off from training. This was a vicious cycle for me until I realized that my mindset about food was the problem, not the act of taking vacation. Vacations do not need to set you back from your goals! You also can 1000 percent enjoy vacation without feeling guilty.
The key to a successful guilt free summer trip is all about planning, mindfulness and your general mindset around food. Vacation should not be an excuse to say screw it to your goals and healthy habits. Sure, should you fully enjoy trying new foods and eating out, yes! But should you eat a whole bag of Doritos and marshmallows, no probably not. All foods have value and a place on your plate, but just because you are on vacation does not mean you should forget all of your mindful eating habits. Vacation is about making memories no stomach aches!
For me, I treat vacation as a chance to eat mindfully without tracking, however I stick to a few ground rules that help me to feel my best. Getting in my 800g of fruits and veggies, hitting 7-10k steps and avoiding overly processed foods and dairy products are just a few of the ways I focus on my health and well-being while being away from home. If I do make a misstep or have an episode of over-eating, I treat myself with love and respect and move the hell on. I do not do extra cardio, I do not do a juice cleanse or a fast when I get home and I definitely do not jump right into a cut or calorie deficit is soon as I return home. I simply make a mental note of what was going on when this less than ideal food situation occurred. Was I feeling overly tired? Did I have a particularly active day or was I just super hungry. While none of these reasons are excuses for overeating or going a bit too crazy with the Talenti, they do help me to understand and learn from my mistakes and take corrective actions for the future. Being kind to myself has really helped me unpack my toxic relationship with vacations and non-tracking days and helped me enjoy vacation more! Now I wake up after a vacation or party and feel no stress, no guilt and no shame about what I ate because I know that it is a new day with new opportunities to work towards my goals and make healthy choices.
Don’t let food rules and rigid exercise habits ruin your time with family and friends! Life is about balance, just like one healthy meal won’t lead to weight loss, one untracked vacation meal won’t lead to weight gain, so enjoy but be mindful. Vacation should be time for making memories, taking a break from your daily life and enjoying yourself, not being anxious about your health and fitness goals.
I am going to share a little secret.. I eat ice cream almost every night! For a long time I thought desserts were the devil. I thought that eating dessert would lead me to becoming cookie monster out of control with food, feasting on anything and everything I could get my hands on, so for a long time I would simply avoided dessert at all costs.
As a kid, eating ice cream after dinner was a regular occurrence in my house and I never had any guilt or shame about treating myself to an ice cream bar or cookie until I starting my weight loss journey. After successfully losing and keeping off 30 pounds for about a year, I became super aware and focused on everything I ate. Tracking my food and weighing everything out was a daily ritual. Soon the desserts and treats became less and less frequent in my diet to the point where I went for weeks on end without eating dessert or any kind of treat/baked goods because I was scared of gaining weight back. The more I restricted dessert the more I craved it, leading me into a negative pattern of binging and restricting that went on for almost the entire first year of my weight loss journey. I was scared and alone, ashamed of telling my friends that I thought I had an issue with sweets and treats and that I had a negative relationship with food in general.
Dessert was my love, my joy when I was younger yet when I decided I wanted to be healthier in my early 20’s I felt like I had to demonize it to achieve my fitness goals. This led to me going Cookie Monster crazy when I went on vacation or took a day off from tracking leading to even more guilt surrounding sweet treats. Letting go of my rigid rules and labeling of food was the best choices I ever made. I no longer demonize certain foods and praise others, but rather I see all food as fuel and some sources are more ideal than others for making me feel my best. I fit all of my favorite foods into my diet and try to allow myself one treat a day to keep the Cookie Monster cravings away.
So yeah I eat dessert almost every night, and yes I still reach my fitness and health goals and so can you! A few of my favorite treat brands/companies are Halo Top, Enlightened, Yasso and Trader Joes. For me I would say frozen treats like ice cream and fruit bars are my favorite go to dessert during the week. Cookies, brownies and baked goods have never stood a chance to me compared to ice cream or sorbet! In order to keep my macros balanced I usually will opt for some kind of single serve frozen dessert bar or will go for a piece of Trader Joes fair trade dark chocolate. I am mildly obsessed with the dairy free options from Halo Top as well as Enlightened Ice Cream bars and have to have them in my freezer at all times. Frozen fruit bars, such as Outshine or Trader Joes Fruit Frenzy Bars, are also a go to for me when I want something low cal but still sweet that won’t eat up too many of my macros. Recently I have also been experimenting with putting ice cream or dairy free whipped cream on top Kodiak power waffles for some added protein and carbs late at night. Get creative with your treats, variety is not just reserved for the veggies!
Cookies and ice cream are good for soul and should not be causing you to feel stressed or shameful! If you can’t remember the last time you let yourself eat a cookie without a worry in the world then maybe it is time to ditch your food rules and re find your love for sweets and treats. A life without ice cream is not a life I want to live and neither should you!
Are you surrounding yourself with positive voices and a strong support network? The company you keep can have a huge impact on your habits and lifestyle choices. If your friends and family don’t support your health and fitness habits I can almost guarantee you are going to have a harder time making the chances necessary to reach your goals.
If your friends or significant other are constantly ragging on you and making you feel guilty for your choices then maybe you need to think about having a conversation with them about how their comments are making you feel. You may need to work on setting up boundaries with that person that allow you to feel safe making the choices that are best for you or consider weather that relationship is really positively contributing to your life. But also take into consideration why those comments are making you feel uncomfortable! Are they trying to help you or hurt you? Are they trying to help you find balance and let go of negative food behaviors or are they projecting their now insecurities onto you?
One space where I felt particularly vulnerable in terms of support was at my corporate office workplace. A lot of my co workers made me feel guilty when they saw me logging my food in MyFitnessPal or would make backhanded comments about how I must be some kind of weirdo with no friends if my idea of fun is going to the gym on Thursday night instead of happy hour. I eventually had to ignore their rude remarks and learned to lean into my workplace identity as the “fitness freak” and decided that if these are the people I offend with new found healthy habits then I am perfectly okay with that because clearly their remarks aimed at me were coming from a place of insecurity and frustration with their own lifestyle and habits.
This fear of negative feedback about my fitness and food habits also bled over into my romantic life when I started dating the summer after I graduated college. When I first started dating my current boyfriend Kyle I had a really hard time balancing my dating life and my fitness goals. I was scare to be so honest and open about my personal life with someone I had just met and was starting to have feelings for, and I was terrified that he would think less of me because of my disordered habits with food and exercise. The other fear I had was that he wouldn’t want to date someone who weighs their food and likes to wake up at 5 AM to workout so for a long time I tried to tone down my love for fitness and healthy eating in an effort to make myself more desirable or “date-able”.
I felt liberated and safe and supported when I confided in my boyfriend about my issues with food and my body and since then he has become my biggest cheerleader and ally! But not everyone in my life was this supportive of me and in the process of bettering myself I have definitely polarized some people. There were plenty of people who shamed me for choosing to workout on Saturday morning instead of going to bottomless brunch or who made faces when I brought my pre packed, pre weighted meals to work.
While there were a ton of people turned off by my lifestyle and habit changes, there were also a lot of people cheering me on along the way! My family, in particular was super supportive of my lifestyle changes and helped me immensely along the way. My brother helped with adjusting my macros and my dad would send me Black Iron Nutrition blog posts and healthy recipes. All around me I felt an immense amount of love and support which was so important for me on days when I felt like giving up or like my goals were too far away from reach.
Be sure to evaluate your social circle when embarking on any type of weight loss journey. You may be shocked to find out how many of your friends and family members want to help and see you succeed at your goals! Building a strong support network will help to remind you of why you started and should hopefully make changing your habits easier, you may even inspire those around you to change as well.
I used to think that as long as I hit my calorie goal, I was being healthy and was on track to reach my fitness goals. Prior to working my first nutritionist Jen, I had no understanding of how to properly eat for performance or health. My idea of a health snack was artificial sweetener filled Skippy peanut butter bites or a 1000 ingredient list protein bar. I had no concept of what a micronutrient was and all I cared about was hitting my protein and calorie goals.
Jen helped me understand that it is not just enough to hit your calorie goal and that if I am not getting enough micronutrients in my diet chances are I am not eating for optimal performance or health. I was blown away by how these simple changes helped me to feel better and I found that by working to eat a more wholesome and balanced diet I had more energy and felt fuller longer leading to less binging or overeating.
By working to eliminate or swap out highly processed foods in favor of whole, nutrient dense foods I found that I was sleeping better, lifting better and experiencing a lot less bloating. My cravings also went down and I found that I was making healthier choices more often because I was focusing on how foods made me feel rather than trying to just hit my calorie goal.
Eating healthy is not complicated nor should it be! Simple swaps can make all the difference in helping to get more micronutrients in your diet. Swapping fruit for chips or jerky instead of protein shakes are some easy changes to cut out unnecessary additives and sugar. The biggest shift for me was focusing on eating 2-3 different colors at each meal. By actively trying to eat a variety of whole, nutrient dense foods of various colors I found that I was creating a lot of fun meals that were not only tasty but also more filling. Now this isn’t to say that you should cut out all process foods and avoid all of the tasty snacks you love. The idea is to create more variety and balance in our eating habits and to try new things!
An example of this could be swapping your daily Diet Coke for a La Croix or making your weekday lunch turkey sandwich into a salad for a change. One change I made this week was swapping my usual stir fry rice bowl for lettuce wraps instead and trying sweet potatoes for my brunch hash instead of white potatoes. While rice and white potatoes are not bad or unhealthy at all, sweet potatoes and lettuce provide more micronutrients and add more color to my plate than their beige counter parts.
All foods have value and a place in our diets (yes, even pizza and ice cream!) however some foods make us feel better than others. I know that after eating a greasy pepperoni pizza I do not feel my best and that I do feel my best after having a well-balanced, colorful meal filled with wholesome macro and micronutrient dense foods.
You might be shocked at how much these small changes can make a big impact on your overall mood and performance! So, I encourage you to eat the rainbow and find new whole foods and healthy snacks that satisfy your cravings and add color and variety to your plate.
None likes a boring bowl of food, so get weird with your post work out eats, try something new! You might be surprised at how tasty the rainbow truly is.
Who doesn’t love a quick and easy weekend brunch! Often times my weekends are even more packed than my weekdays. Being the busy bee that I am my weekends are nearly always filled with errands, social events, workouts and outdoor activities, so finding time to make healthy meals is always a challenge!
Here is one of my favorite healthy eats that takes less than 10 minutes to cook…All you need are the below ingredients:
- ½ Cup of red onion chopped
- ½ Medium green bell pepper chopped
- 1-2 Large eggs
- ¼ Cup of pepper jack cheese
- 1 Jimmy Dean fully cooked turkey breakfast sausage chopped
- ½ Strip of applewood smoked bacon chopped
- 1 Teaspoon of olive oil or 1 spray of trader joes olive oil cooking spray
- 3 Teaspoons of pico de gallo
- 3 Teaspoons of hatch green chili
- 3 Mission small street taco corn tortillas
Recipe yields roughly ~3 street style tacos
- First step is to spray or oil your pan and chop up the veggies and meat.
- Next once your pan is hot and ready, sauté the chopped bell peppers, onions and protein until browned.
- Once the veggies are cooked, crack and add the eggs to the pan and begin scrambling/mixing the ingredients together. Continue to sauté the egg, meat and veggie mixture until cooked to your desired consistency.
- Portion scrambled mixture into the tortillas, top with cheese and salsa then serve!
What I love about this recipe in the versatility and ability to make it your own! You can sub most of the ingredients for other options, whether that be red bell peppers instead of green ones or cotija cheese instead of pepper jack. No matter what alternate ingredient options you choose is sure to be a fan favorite!