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5 strategies for mindful eating

Eating more mindfully can be the key catalyst that some people need in order to finally feel like they are nourishing their bodies through the food they eat. 

However, mindful eating can feel really vague and kind of tricky to put into practice.

Here are 5 strategies that I use with my clients. I hope that they will help you to feel empowered in starting your own mindful eating practice, as well as clarify some of the confusion surrounding what "mindful eating" even is...

  1. Chew your food to mush

    Eating slowly can be a really great first step when it comes to learning how to be more mindful around your nutrition. Not only does chewing your food to mush help you to really taste and savor the textures and flavors, but by eating more slowly you're giving your body time to listen to fullness cues and chewing your food well is wayyy better for your digestion.

    And mamas, I promise I understand how hard this might feel sometimes! My advice when your baby or toddler needs you and you're hungry is to take a bite and chew it the best you can while helping them. It's not as "perfect" as sitting down while you eat, but taking a few bites and making an effort to chew slowly is definitely a better strategy than scarfing everything down without chewing or tasting your food!
     
  2. Eat without distractions

    When we watch TV or look at our phones while we eat we aren't allowing our brains to process how much we are eating or even to really, truly enjoy our food. Eating while distracted is a recipe for poor digestion and over-consumption.

    If you do need to eat while you work, or while you unwind in front of a show, be sure to portion your meal or snack appropriately - definitely don't bring the entire container or bag with you.  
     
  3. You decide when and how much

    You and only you get to decide when you eat and how much you eat. If you're not hungry, don't eat something just because everyone else is, and if someone says they made something *just for you* you still don't have to eat it. Not only this, but it is not your job to manage their emotions. You can absolutely be kind and respectful, but you don't need to worry so much if they are hurt.

    And honestly, if a person is trying to peer pressure you into eating or drinking something after you've expressed politely that you don't want it, that person isn't really super cool.
     
  4. Imperfect consistency over perfect inconsistency

    It is far more important what you do 95% of the time than the other 5%. Have what you want, when you want it. Trying to use willpower to be "perfect" all the time will do nothing but lead to being inconsistently perfect. This is not what we want! We want to aim for imperfection consistently so that we can feel 100% in our power and confident that we can live this way forever

    Being perfect with your nutrition and exercise six days of the week with an epic "cheat" day on the seventh day will do nothing but create disordered eating habits and lots of guilt around your nutrition. Instead, sprinkle in things you like every single day. Some dark chocolate one day, eating part of your burrito salad bowl in a tortilla another day, and dip your veggies in a little bit of sriracha mayo or another yummy condiment to make them taste delicious. Remember, you've gotta like what you eat. And aiming for imperfect consistency will create a lifestyle that feels effortless rather than one where you are always trying to get back on track. 
     
  5. There's always more where that came from

    You can make or buy whatever you want whenever you want it.As an adult human ;) you are in charge of your choices. Having a scarcity mindset that it'll be a while before you can eat a food again (if you're on that yo-yo diet cycle) or that you can only have certain foods at certain holidays (Thanksgiving food can be eaten year round, as can gingerbread and peppermint goodies at Christmas, pumpkin treats in the fall, and chocolate in the spring!) only sets you up for failure with moderation and balance. If you're always feeling like you "can't" have something then you will absolutely struggle with mindfulness. Instead, use mindfulness to remember that, in fact, you CAN eat whatever you want whenever you want it.

    And if you're at a restaurant in a foreign country or your grandma made a special treat that only she knows how to make, then you need to use mindfulness to decide if something is truly "worth it". Does it taste good? Does it work with your body? Great, enjoy! Otherwise, it's not worth it. 

These tools and way more are what I use to support my 1:1 and group coaching clients to achieve a lifestyle that feels absolutely effortlessMindful eating is hard, and if you're feeling like you'd really love some more support I've got a couple of options for you! You can check them out by heading over to the Services tab. 

Comments? Questions? Leave them below or send me an email

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How To Use Breath To Support Your Body During Postpartum Exercise

I understand that the Valsalva Maneuver is a useful strategy in lifting heavy weight, but is it useful for your postpartum recovery?

This technique creates a TON of intra-abdominal pressure, which is supposed to reduce the load on the spine and increase power output on the hard part of the exercise.

But did you know that this amount of intra-abdominal pressure ALSO puts an insane amount of load on the pelvic floor which increases risk of pelvic organ prolapse? And not only that but the pressure on the belly during the maneuver can also worsen diastasis!

When it comes to postnatal fitness, it’s important to ask yourself the purpose. Why are you doing the movements you are doing? Do they achieve that goal? And most importantly, is there a better or safer way to achieve the goal?

If your goal is just to lift heavy weight and be strong and fit, try to decrease load in your squats and deadlifts and practice an inhale to lower and an exhale to stand. You might not be able to chase a PR with this strategy, but at least it will keep your pelvic floor safe!!

On the inhale imagine breathing and expanding through all sides of the ribcage, and on the exhale feel like you’re using the breath to blow your hip bones further apart (your deep transverse abdominals should engage). THIS is a wonderful strategy for postpartum strength!

And if you are chasing PRs, make sure your pelvic floor is ready and seek out a PFPT if you’re not sure. You may have to re-evaluate your goals, but I’d rather put my PRs on hold and do something else that’s still fun than deal with pelvic floor dysfunction for the rest of my life.

Please share this information with any fit mamas in your life! When we know better, we can do better.

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Why Diets Don't Work

There is no way of eating that will work for every single person because you have to find what works for you.

Every single diet can be considered a fad in that someone at some point tried it because they read about it in a magazine or heard about it from a friend or family member who was having great results.

Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not putting down or making fun of any of these ways of eating AT ALL. So if something on the list below is working for you, that’s fantastic!! Keep doing it.

What I AM saying is that if something on this list doesn’t work for you, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you. It’s because the DIET is not right for you.

If you really like potatoes, probably don’t try keto. If you really enjoy rice or chickpeas or dairy (and you’re not lactose intolerant), then Paleo isn’t a great option. And if you have a history of eating disorders then I definitely wouldn’t try the Whole30 program no matter how amazing you might feel after it’s over.

After trying to eat a certain way for many years I can say from experience that any way of eating that restricts foods you like isn’t the right way of eating for *you*. In order for a diet (what you eat) to be sustainable you need to LIKE what you eat. If you don’t like what you eat, you’re not going to be able to eat that way for very long. And if even if you do reach your goals on it, it’s going to be kinda hard to maintain the results if you go right back to eating how you used to eat before.

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Why Peeing During Exercise Isn't Cool

Last week one of my clients sent me a post where a woman was literally celebrating and making fun of herself for peeing during a heavy back squat, and she even posted the video of it happening.

There has been a lot of this stuff going around social media, and I’m not speaking out against any brand or platform specifically.

What I AM saying is that accidentally peeing during exercise is not something that women should continue to work through or celebrate.

If you injured a hamstring, would you continue to deadlift? If you hurt your shoulder, would you keep doing overhead or bench presses or push ups? If you effed up your knee, would you continue to run??

Pelvic floor dysfunction is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m not saying that any person should feel shame for experiencing incontinence during exercise. That being said, there are adjustments to make and things to do that could prevent leaking. By seeking out some support via a pelvic floor physical therapist or even postnatal certified personal trainer you may be able to find a solution.

If we have diastasis we are told not to do crunches. If we have prolapse we need to modify certain exercises. So then if we have incontinence we should be instructed not to lift weight so heavy that we lose control of the bladder.

Change your technique, pay attention to alignment, focus on the inhale and exhale breath through the movement. There are LOTS of things you can do without even having to go see a PFPT. Whatever you do, I think it’s important to realize that the pelvic floor muscles are like any other muscle or part of the body. If it’s not functioning properly we need to give it more love and attention, not ignore it and push through.

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10 Lessons From My First Year of Motherhood

Being a mama is everything I thought it would be and more. 

I truly didn't know a love so big existed, and I definitely didn't know what exhaustion truly feels like.

Here are 10 lessons I've learned from my first year of motherhood:

  1. Being a mom makes you a thousand times more indecisive. Every decision comes from a place of love and no decision feels good enough for your child, but all decisions are good decisions because they come from a place of love. 
     
  2. Mom guilt is real, but it's also a waste of energy. I no longer feel guilty for practicing self-care. Or for letting Henry bump his head. Or for taking Henry to the gym almost every weekday morning so that I can have time for myself.
     
  3. Stop wishing for the future. I say, "I can't wait til Henry can __" so often and I'm missing out on the present when I do this. I don't even want to wish for next week, because today is just too damn good. 
     
  4. There are not enough books in the world to teach me how to raise my babySeriously. I wish I hadn't read any books, or blogs, or asked any person for opinions ever. Henry doesn't fit into a mold {either do I as a parent} and I'm finding that it's better to watch and listen to HIM than try to make him fit into someone else's standard of how he should be sleeping or breastfeeding or eating food or moving. 
     
  5. Sleep is precious. I didn't follow the advice of "sleep when your baby sleeps" when he was a newborn, but now I'm finally napping during his second nap of the day a few days a week. It's life changing. 
     
  6. Self-care is EVERYTHING. It makes me a better mom and wife. Sometimes getting the other people in my life on board that I need self-care seems futile, but if only they knew what a cranky mama I'd be without it. It's okay if they don't get it. Do it for yourself anyway. 
     
  7. It's okay to feel overwhelmed. I'm not a bad mom for getting overwhelmed and I'm not failing at motherhood. Breathe through it. And turn on some music. 
     
  8. Flexibility is key. Babies are unpredictable, and for a planner like myself this has been a challenging adjustment. Always have a back up plan, a plan B and C.
     
  9. Actually, all the baby stuff *is* super useful. During my pregnancy I was so resistant to having BABY STUFF everywhere. Clutter is not my thing. Either is bright, colorful plastic. But the sound machines (we have two!) and stroller and all the toys and books and STUFF is important and helpful and necessary. Finding a place for all of it to be out of sight has helped. 
     
  10. Repeat the mantra often: "YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB."Have self-love in every situation. When Henry won't sleep through the night. When Henry won't eat what I cook. When he needs something from me but I have no clue what he's trying to tell me. Practice self-love with positive self-talk and remember that I am doing the very best I can. 

Thanks for following along through my first year of being a mama. I'm so grateful for all of you. 

Why Belly Button to Spine is a Terrible Cue

This is a cue that I’ve been seeing a lot lately, and rather than be frustrated I thought I’d be proactive and do some teaching over here.

A muscle that’s constantly contracted is not a strong one, just a tight one - so let your belly go. Stop holding it in! This is so important for optimal core function - when you hold your belly in you’re preventing the diaphragm and pelvic floor from working together in harmony.

While I understand that this cue is incredibly common and isn’t necessarily incorrect, it’s not useful because it’s simply just not clear, and for people who don’t know any better they might think they are supposed to be “engaging” and “sucking in” the abdominals with movement.

However, bringing your belly button to your spine using your abdominal muscles isn’t making the muscles stronger - it’s just creating pressure up and down through the core canister - up to your diaphragm and down to your pelvic floor.

Some intra abdominal pressure is necessary to support the spine, but too much creates unsafe pressure on the pelvic floor which puts postpartum mamas at risk for prolapse and other pelvic floor dysfunction issues.

Instead of bringing belly button to spine using your abdominal muscles, practice doing this with the breath. Inhale through your ribcage, and then as you exhale imagine breathing out through your belly and the deep abdominal muscles called the transversus abdominis, or TVA. Picture your hip bones moving closer together on the exhale. The TVA and pelvic floor work together - as you exhale you can work to imagine your belly button lifting *up* toward your sternum rather than in toward your spine, and picture yourself growing taller. At the same time as the TVA exhale breath, focus on a small pelvic floor lift. THIS is a proper kegel, and how to protect your core canister postpartum *and* how to work to increase tension in the linea alba, the connective tissues in the abdominal wall where diastasis recti occurs. Strengthening the tissues is actually more important than closing the gap all the way. FIT MAMA goes through this in tons of detail with all of the exercises that you can do to create a stronger body and more functional core in a super safe way.

 

Postpartum + Your Pelvic Floor

Postpartum is forever.

This means that whether you had a baby six months ago or three years ago, you are still postpartum and you should continue to treat your body that way. 

This may feel a bit surprising to you, and maybe you're even a bit unsure about whether you believe me or not.  

Here's the thing. During pregnancy, your body made space for a baby to grow. Your organs moved, your abdominal muscles were stretched, and your pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues worked over time to support alllll the things sitting on them. 

Then, a couple of different scenarios may have happened:

  • You either went into labor and your body again shifted to make space for that baby to exit your body, and then you pushed your baby out. Perhaps you tore, or perhaps your pelvic floor organs (bladder, uterus, rectum) slipped down in your pelvis (prolapse) while pushing.

  • Or maybe you went into labor, your body made space for baby to exit, you pushed a bit, but birth ended up in a c-section and your abdominal muscles were cut open to make room for baby to be born. 

  • Or finally, your body didn't labor at all and you had a c-section without any pushing, still experiencing a major surgery to allow baby to be born safely. 

NO MATTER HOW YOUR BABY WAS BORN, YOUR PELVIC FLOOR STILL WORKED HARD, AND YOUR BODY STILL NEEDS TO RECOVER. 

This is seriously important to understand.


All pregnancies are stressful for the pelvic floor, and all births are hard on our bodies. 


When I ask about pelvic floor symptoms, many women who have had a c-section tell me that they are fine *because they had a c-section*. I need you to understand that this does not exempt you from pelvic floor dysfunction. In addition to this, we need to take into consideration how mama treated her body during pregnancy, and how patient mama is postpartum in allowing her body to recover.  

Again, the bottom line that I need you to understand is that postpartum is forever. 

You will forever have gone through this experience, and your body needs more than just six weeks to heal before getting yourself back into Crossfit workouts and running long (or even short) distances.  

But you don't have any symptoms, and you feel great!

I understand, but did you know that about 50% of women who have had a baby will experience some degree of prolapse, and many of those women will be asymptomatic? And around 1-in-3 women who exercise experience incontinence. In addition to this, women who have no symptoms of incontinence in the early postpartum period can actually end up developing symptoms of incontinence 7-10 years later!
 

This sucks, and I don't want this for you. This is why I created my postpartum program. Because I want to help you feel strong again in a safe (but still fun and challenging!) way no matter how far postpartum you are. Whether you are in early postpartum and just received clearance to exercise again or you've been a mama for many years, this program will help you get back to strong

Supplements.

I've been wanting to write this post for a long time. I often hear from women asking about the best supplements to take, and all over social media we see advertisements for fat loss products and weight loss tricks galore. It kind of drives me a little bit bonkers. Ha!

Here's the thing - most of the crazy supplements out there that are advertised to affect body change don't actually work. They are expensive, they can be dangerous and unhealthy to use long term, and while you might get results short term they do not create long lasting changes. 

Fat Burners. My opinion on fat burners is that if you're doing the right kind of exercise for your body in the gym, and if you're eating the right kinds of foods for your body in your kitchen, then fat loss will happen naturally. I also believe that each person's body has it's own unique set point - a place where maintenance becomes effortless and optimal health is reached. In my journey of trying to attain what I considered the "perfect" body composition I came to an important realization: some bodies just don't like to be lean. Maintaining 18% body fat for me is effortless, but at 15% my hormones are a mess, my cravings are out of control, I often feel low energy, cold, my hair falls out, and I have to deprive myself of normal foods in order to stay in that place. And since I definitely don't want to live like that, I needed to get comfortable and practice self love at a higher body fat percentage. Numbers aside, because they will be different for every person, my point is that if you have to take fat burners to obtain that lean body composition you so desire, it's likely that the health of your body will revolt once you get there. 

Preworkout. Man this one probably irks me the most. If you don't have the energy to do a workout, you need to evaluate the other areas of self care in your life! Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating the right kinds of food at the right time and in the right amounts for *you*? Are you pushing yourself to train at 5am before work when you are just. not. a. morning person? I hear some people explaining that not only do they need preworkout for energy, but also for motivation. Motivation does not come from how much energy you have, it comes from determination. Journal and reflect about why you want to do the workout and then JUST DO IT. Consistent action builds motivation. If anything, drink a cup of coffee or green tea and get going!

Protein powder. This one I love! Protein shakes are super amazing for getting quick fuel on the go. It's really important to check out the ingredients, not just the nutrition facts. Check for processed ingredients and added sugars. 20g of protein is a solid amount to look out for. I recommend either grassfed whey if you can tolerate dairy, or my fave non-dairy protein powder is PureWOD BUILD, made of beef protein isolate. The one thing that's important to keep in mind when it come to protein shakes is that they should not be used as a meal replacement, especially if you have time to make real food. Real food should always be your priority. Protein shakes can be great post workout with a carb added in or on the side, if you're craving something tasty before bed, and for speedy breakfasts with some healthy fats added in when you are rushing out the door in the morning. 

Other supplements to consider. BCAA's (branched chain amino acids) can be great for some people, but in my opinion they aren't super necessary unless you're training with the intensity of an athlete. BCAA's can help to protect your muscles if you are training fasted or if you are training in a caloric deficit. Some studies show that they may allow you to train with more intensity during a time of day where you might otherwise feel a sense of fatigue. BCAA's can also reduce muscle soreness. They are found naturally in animal proteins but are also sold in powder form. They dissolve easily in water and are absorbed quickly into your body. As always, check the ingredients for artificial sweeteners and flavorings. 

Perfectionism.

The key to living your best life is to take each moment as it comes and live deeply in it. The moments that passed before are irrelevant. The moments coming up ahead are out of your control. 

As a recovering perfectionist, I know the feeling of striving for perfection {and then ultimately being discouraged when the goal is not reached, because there is no such thing as perfection} way too well. The thing is - making "mistakes" is the only way to learn anything in life. If we are constantly doing everything "perfectly" then there won't be any opportunities for growth. And life is all about growth! Growing emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually - in whichever ways you choose to grow. At the same time, allowing yourself to sit in the stillness of not growing or changing has it's benefits as well - a chance for reflection being a big one for me.

This past week has been a huge practice in imperfection and stillness for me. With family in town to celebrate my 30th birthday I was thrown way out of my routine. Fewer morning walks, fewer workouts, and extremely unstructured eating. And guess what?! I survived. I made it through those moments, because I lived in those moments. Each one. No regrets or time spent dwelling on the past moments. No worry about the future. Each moment. I took a break from social media and put aside my commitment to writing here in order to soak up all the family time. I had thoughts of self-judgment for what felt like a loss of focus on my goals, but in the big picture of things that break helped me to gain an even better understanding of my goals with more passion and drive than I had before. 

When you give yourself a little bit of grace and permission to just be with what *is*, you might begin to notice that perhaps that's what you really needed after all. 

Move With Intention.

There are many different kinds of movement, and not all movement is really "exercise." Leisure walking is {in my opinion} the most natural and necessary kind of movement that exists. Slow, relaxing walking is incredibly primal and it has been shown to lower cortisol (a stress hormone that in our current world is often elevated in the majority of people). Then we've got strength training and cardiovascular endurance training, in addition to the other component of fitness, flexibility. Each component has it's purpose and we tend to need a healthy balance of all three for optimal performance. Flexibility can be as simple morning stretching and foam rolling or restorative, gentle yoga. I would argue that a fast-paced vinyasa yoga session falls more into the category of strength than flexibility, however the benefits of breathing with your movements and lengthening your muscles through the flow might lower the stress response compared to a typical strength training session. In strength training there exists even more variety - from typical body building splits with longer rest periods to the other end of the spectrum, something like a Crossfit style workout that challenges both strength and endurance. Endurance training would be things like longer distance running, road biking, or other sports that have shorter rest periods, however interval training like sprints can also be really beneficial for cardiovascular health while improving your endurance. 

All of that to say, it's important to choose which of those kinds of movement you do on a daily basis with intention. Each day, think about what your body needs to function at the highest level. How does the movement practice you are choosing fit into the rest of your life?

When I first started out on my fitness journey in my early 20's (I turn 30 years old this week!) I was living with the mindset of more is better. And I struggled with low energy and couldn't build the body composition I truly wanted. I was always hungry because of how much I was training and I just couldn't understand why I was putting in so much hard work going to Spinning classes six days a week plus a strength workout at the gym each day - while training for my first and last half marathon - and not seeing any results. Friends - the truth is that more is not better, but {like my friend Jade Teta says} better quality is better! Today I go for a leisure walk daily and I exercise for 20 intense minutes about five days a week. I look healthier and more fit and, most importantly, I feel better than I ever did years ago when I was overtraining. 

The biggest obstacle for me in changing my mindset around exercise was realizing the difference between functional training versus training for aesthetics. When I began to struggle with back pain and chronic tight hips, I learned this concept of moving in a way that is functional. For example, the hamstring curl machine - it builds some really beautiful hamstrings, but when do we every truly move that way?! And also, those machines are designed for six foot men! Learning about functional movement patterns has been key in strengthening my core in order to heal my back pain. And the coolest part - when you train with mindfulness about the functionality of your movements, I've found that you actually end up creating the body you wanted in the first place!

In order to change your mindset around fitness, you must shift your perspective around the purpose of exercise. Exercise and movement are things that should make you feel better rather than look better. How do you want to feel? How do you *need* to feel? Move that way. There needs to be a mindset shift around pushing hard through anything just for the reward of how you can change your body, versus the rewards of being pain free and healthy because you chose to move in a way that was appropriate for your needs in the moment. The action might even be the same, but the intention is different. When your intention focuses on how you will feel because of the movement, the movement will feel effortless and you will feel happier and more content with yourself no matter what you accomplish. 

Movement should be like meditation. Moving meditation is when you notice and let go of the thoughts and emotions in your mind while moving through the exercises, just like you would in a seated meditation. Notice your thoughts objectively and don't allow yourself to associate the thoughts with your identity. If an exercise feels really hard, or you look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of yourself and a negative thought comes in, or you feel frustrated that you are so out of breath - in every situation you can focus and breathe into the discomfort. Be present with the discomfort in order to allow yourself to learn how to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. 

 

Whole30.

If you follow me on Instagram (@brittanyalexaburns) then you know that I follow a pretty basic Paleo template, made PaleYOU {Thanks to Mary Shenouda, @paleochef, for that gem} because we are all so unique that different foods will work and not work for different people. 

In the Paleo world, the Whole30 program is extremely popular in helping people with their transition to a real food way of life. However, more often than not, I see people who don't actually understand the purpose of the program using it for a "cleanse" or a "diet" or a "30 day challenge" which is so opposite to the actual intention that Melissa Hartwig had when she created the program. 

Today's podcast walk was with Melissa Hartwig, being interviewed by Josh Trent on Wellness Force Radio. First of all, I *love* Melissa Hartwig. Her personality and her sense of humor are so fun and refreshing, and her passion and the hurdles she's managed to overcome in her own life, as well as the standard of authenticity that she holds herself to in her daily life, are all such admirable qualities.

The real intention of the Whole30 program is as a nutritional reset that will allow you to discover your personal emotional relationship with food. So many people view food as punishment or reward - I worked out today so I can eat this because *I deserve it*, or I didn't work out today so no carbs for me. Celebrating? Let's eat! Bummed out about something? Let's eat!

Don't get me wrong - I've been there and still deal with plenty of emotions around food. I have worked hard though to become much more mindful of these situations throughout my journey and now have the forethought to take a step back before eating something that I'm craving to really dissect the reason I'm craving it or choosing to eat it. 

It's incredibly important to me that you understand that eating a food should have absolutely nothing to do with your movement that day. We can talk about fat loss goals another day (because there are things to keep in mind in terms of nutrient timing and food choices and movement if fat loss is your goal) but today, let's just focus on having a healthy relationship with food. So - we do not relate food choices to exercise. We can eat a food because we want to eat it, and when we are choosing real, whole foods, that choice is often much less difficult to make or justify. 

Food doesn't just represent sustenance or nutrition though - it also represents emotion. We eat to be social, and when you are making certain food choices that are different from those of your friends, it can be really easy to feel left out and question why you "can't" eat the same way as they do. Here's the thing that you really need to remember - your goals are not their goals - your body is not their body - your metabolisms are not the same - your genetics are not the same - and your hormones are not the same. Is life really so unfair? Maybe. I would *love* to be able to eat some of the foods my husband can eat with zero digestive issues and very minimal body change. But as soon as you begin to love what is {read Loving What Is by Byron Katie!} and focus on being your best self, you will realize that your food choices are your choices. What other people eat is irrelevant to what you eat. And I find the best way to process my feelings of envy is to say out loud, genuinely, "Wow that looks incredible" and "That is the most beautiful meal" and "Your food looks delicious I hope you enjoy it." By speaking my truth and not keeping those feelings in I feel more capable of moving past the frustrating situation and it becomes far less frustrating. Lastly - remind yourself that you *can* actually eat whatever you want to put in your mouth, but you are *choosing* not to. When you make it a choice and not a prison sentence you take back your power. 

There are a gazillion reasons why we might choose not to eat something. My (unaesthetic) reasons for eating what I eat are pretty simple: Does my stomach feel good after I eat it? Is my skin clear? How is my energy and hunger throughout the day because of what I ate? How is my sleep? Am I enjoying the food while I am eating it? And, does the food I choose to eat satisfy me so that I do not crave other foods later?

Satiety and satiation are two different feelings around eating that are often confused. Satiety is physiological - when your body senses that it has had enough nutrients and variety for survival because the food comes from nature, you feel satiety. Things like fiber, protein, water, and fat increase the feeling of satiety in your body. Satiation, on the other hand, is the feeling of physical fullness related to hunger hormones like ghrelin and leptin which send signals from the gut to the brain.

The biggest reason that eating "real food" over processed food can help you to be more successful in maintaining a healthy body composition and eliminating annoying cravings is because processed foods are made by food scientists. Food scientists do this tricky thing to make food stimulate taste buds - they actually add chemicals to the food that light up the reward centers in a person's brain in a way that real food doesn't, causing our brains to react to the processed food in a different way than nature intended. We don't eat processed foods because they provide vital nutrition, but because they stimulate our taste buds, and this is a huge problem when it comes to satiety and satiation because it causes people to just keep eating the crappy processed food.

One of my favorite phrases from Melissa Hartwig is "food with no brakes." Foods with no brakes are foods that make you feel out of control - once you start eating them, you just can't stop. And I realized a long time ago that, for me, these foods are things like {non-GMO} popcorn, cereal (even "Paleo" cereal - what the hell is a portion size of cereal?!), and Coconut Bliss ice cream. The cool thing is though that even though I've identified these foods as foods I have trouble eating moderately, I don't have to stop eating them. Nope! Instead, I bring even more mindfulness to the table when these foods are in front of me. I make an effort not to eat them if I'm on the phone, watching TV, or in a social situation that will distract me from realizing how much I'm taking in. Because *for me*, even though these are not incredibly unhealthy foods, I struggle to feel satiety or satiation if I'm not being mindful. Because of this, I also know NOT to choose these foods in an emotional state. I eat ice cream on a Wednesday night because it sounds delicious, not because I just got great news, and I eat popcorn with my lunch on a Friday, not because it's the weekend and not at the movie theater zoning out to an intense movie, but because I thought it sounded delicious and it's my source of carbs for that meal. Am I making any sense? 

I am clearly passionate about nutrition, so I'll start to wrap this up before it becomes a novel.

For any person who wants to make a change in their nutrition, I like to look at the Stages of Change Model - there are a couple of different levels. Until you begin to take action you are in the Precontemplation Stage. You are thinking about making a change. You are *almost* ready to really think about making the change in that first level, as you then move into Contemplation and then Preparation. The real magic starts to happen in the Action level. You are ready for change and you are making that change by taking action. You are learning all you can about this thing you want to change and you are actively making choices in your daily life to do things differently. In the final stage you are in Maintenance mode. Not only are you able to to take action, but you are using self analysis to consciously track your actions and you are making an effort to apply what you have learned to other areas of your life. Notice: you can think about making a change all you want, but the change will not happen until you take action. 

When it comes to nutrition, there is no such thing as failure. Your goal is not perfection. In fact - the more "mistakes" you make, the more opportunities you will have to learn from them {if you allow yourself the mindful space to do so}. When you are healthy and happy you will have more to give to everybody else. Aim to get out of the space of thinking and just DO. Action is required to make change. Like Dan Pardi says, "Knowing without doing is the same thing as not knowing."

Pushing Through Pain.

Today's personal development podcast was with Lewis Howes and his School of Greatness podcast, one of my faves, and he was interviewing the wonderfully insightful and fabulous Glennon Doyle Melton. Her first book Carry On Warrior made me laugh and cry at the same time and I'm definitely putting her new book Love Warrior on my reading list. 

Part of the conversation focused on the topic of pain and how sitting with discomfort is the journey of the warrior. Only when you finally start to sit with the pain and feel the pain and try to understand the pain can the journey truly begin. Glennon said that the wisest people allow the pain - fear, loneliness, anger, envy - to come in rather than shut it out or avoid it. We can use pain as an arrow instead of a hot potato, to guide us on our path rather than create more pain and discomfort.

Pain is different than suffering - suffering is what happens when we avoid pain, and suffering is a choice. Pain is not a choice, but we need to learn from our pain. We can instead be curious about what the pain is trying to teach us - what is the reason that it has shown up in our lives?

We can relate this idea to exercise - how many times have you felt pain (not physical of course - fear most likely, or maybe insecurity) during a workout (or even before?!) and felt like you just couldn't get going or push through that feeling? The thing is, when we feel fear or insecurity related to fitness, the reason we feel that fear is because we are scared that the pain won't stop. That it's never going to get better or go away. And so we stop because pain is uncomfortable. Fear and insecurity are incredibly unsettling. They hinder confidence, which is the feeling that most of us really desire. 

Next time you feel pain that is fear or insecurity during a workout, push through. You think that it's going to get worse and that's why you're so worried. But just keep going! Breathe. You WILL get through it. Anyone can be uncomfortable for 20 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute. Feel that it's there and keep going. Fear is not real. It's a choice that we have every single day. 

I Want To Coach You.

I love hearing from potential clients SO MUCH. I get so excited at just the thought of helping another person reach their goals and find their healthy balance. I struggled to find my healthy balance until I started learning and doing my own research in my early 20's, and I'm so grateful for the true balance I've found. I wanted to take a minute today to explain what services I offer (and what I don't offer) for my clients. 

Throughout this journey of building my coaching business I've had several {well-meaning} naysayers tell me that I should do things differently to get more clients more quickly. The problem is (it's not really a problem) that I refuse to veer away from my individuality, my own unique sense of self and my intentions for how I truly feel that I can help other people, just to make a quick buck. 

Before I tell you all of the wonderful services that I offer when I work with my clients, please understand that you will never see cookie cutter workouts or a single meal plan. Your safety is my priority - I'm not going to prescribe the same workout to someone who has never exercised before as I would for an experienced athlete. I customize each workout I write for my clients based on their goals, the equipment they have available to them, their experience with exercise and weight training, the health of their bodies, and the amount of time they are able to devote to exercise each week. On the topic of nutrition - meal plans just don't work. Meal plans do not take into consideration personal preference around food, your constantly adapting metabolism, individual goals, genetics, hormone health, or your daily schedule. The kinds of food and the amount of food that I need eat to look a certain way will be different than what any other woman might need. We are all beautiful unicorns and need a program that is suitable for a beautiful unicorn.

When I work with you, I am your coach in all aspects of the word. I write a program unique to you and your goals: strength, fat loss, muscle building, endurance, or something completely different. I will train you virtually with a video of the exercises in your program. I will prescribe workouts that are effective for your unique self, and I will adjust them with modifications if something is not working. I offer guidance around nutrient timing and portion amounts, how to discover the best choices for fat burning for you, and tons of nutritional education around the hormones that have an incredible impact on our body's fat burning potential. We work on mindset with daily emails - I am available to you during business hours for any question you may have. I will hold you accountable, I will listen to your fears, and then I will push you to push yourself so that you can shine brightly in all you do.

The biggest goal I have for my clients, in addition to the goals that they have for themselves, is that they will no longer need me and they will be able to maintain the lifestyle that I have helped them create for the rest of their lives. No on again off again start on Monday start after the holiday start when x is over, no more diets, no more bingeing or restricting - just tons of self love, confidence, and a natural, healthy relationship with movement and nutrition that works, as well as the knowledge of how to make an adjustment if something stops working. If you feel ready to give this gift to yourself, contact me and let's get started. 

Why I Do What I Do.

Today is a Saturday. My routine is all out of whack on weekends because it's different than the majority of the week. I woke up in a funk because I didn't sleep well last night and that bummed me out (AND I realized early this morning that I forgot to call my papa yesterday on his birthday and that bummed me out even more). The thing is, I know myself really well. Like, really, really well. I need to stick to my routine every morning in order to be my best self. It's simply just how I operate. So, even though it happened at noon, I went for my morning walk. At noon. 

By setting up my environment each day with a routine that creates a feeling of success and accomplishment, I become more motivated because I've made myself proud. Doing this one small thing of going for a walk each morning sets me up for even more success. I'll end up doing more of the things I need to do throughout the day, I'll make healthier choices, and the domino effect of all of these things will not only improve my mood but improve my relationships and interactions with everyone around me. This is why I go for my morning walk. Motivation is a result of discipline and taking action, whether you think you want to or not. Because I went for my daily walk I met my goal and wrote this blog post today, which likely wouldn't have happened if I hadn't gone for that walk, listened to some personal development, and had the opportunity to shake off the funk I woke up with. 

P.S. I started my new writing routine on a FRIDAY. Not a Monday. Food for thought: People who start a new habit on Mondays tend to start and restart more times than they can keep track of. 

Just Start.

I've been wanting to finally write in my blog for a long time. This begs the question: Why did I create my website in May and it's now September and there are no posts?!

I have an entire list of ideas in Notes in my phone, I'm passionate about a gazillion topics that I couldn't possibly fit into all of the Instagram posts I write, and I am definitely capable of creating the time to do it. 

Yesterday I was listening to Lori Harder's podcast, Earn Your Happy. She was interviewing Arriane Alexander, a coach for women who are basically just like me, and they were discussing confidence and how to grow your "confidence muscle". It was one specific thing that they said that really got to me and made me go, "Oh shit, that's me." Arriane was talking about how fear and limiting beliefs around confidence are the things that prevent us from taking that next big step. When we find ourselves not doing something that we clearly WANT to do but we can't seem to take action on that thing, it's often something we need to just do anyway. I want to write blog posts, but I'm not sure what people will think. Is my writing good enough? Will I have grammatical errors? Are my ideas new or meaningful? Is what I have to say important?

The only way we can grow is when we take action and do that scary thing. In fact, like Arriane says to her clients, if it's truly that scary to you then you kind of know you REALLY have to do it.

So, here I am, writing my first blog post. Building confidence is similar to the muscles we work on in the gym - we have to consistently work on the muscle and stretch ourselves past our comfort zones in order to see any sort of muscle definition. I need to do with same with blogging in order to build the confidence that is feeling somewhat absent in this new thing that I haven't done before. 

With all of that being said, I'm planning to write every day until there is no hesitation and no fear and blogging feels super natural. I go for my daily podcast walk with the pup, so I'll likely use inspiration from the content in the podcasts to spark my little brain to write. Thanks for following along on my muscle (confidence) building journey.