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How To Avoid Weight Gain Over Thanksgiving

The holidays should be about family and celebration, not stress.

But if you are trying to lose or even maintain your weight it can seem like an impossible feat with all the food that surrounds holiday celebrations. Maybe you have already thought about Thanksgiving and you already have your own ideas of how you’ll handle the day, and that’s great! I believe the most important thing is to go in with a plan that you’ll be happy with at the end of the day. If that plan is to not track a single thing and just eat whatever on the holiday, that's great—as long as you will feel good about that choice. So, take a breath, make a plan, and enjoy the holiday.

Here are a few to get you thinking about the balance you want to strike—hopefully a balance that will help you reach your goals but still enjoy the holiday.

  1. Start the day with a high-protein, low-carb, low-fat breakfast. My go-to is always an egg-white scramble with sautéed veggies (like broccoli, zucchini, and peppers). It’s high volume, high protein, free of fat, and low carb.
  2. Eat light early in the day, but do eat. It’s tempting to try to skip breakfast and lunch in preparation for dinner. But approaching a holiday dinner on an empty stomach means that you’ll be less likely to savor and enjoy the food; instead, you’re likely to find yourself just shoveling it in because you’re so hungry.
  3. Drink at least 8 to 16 oz of water before the meal. This will fill your stomach and can help limit overeating.
  4. Get a workout in during the morning. Go for a run, hit up the gym, do a HIIT workout—just do something to get a burn on!
  5. Step away from the pie. Suggest an after-dinner walk around the neighborhood or play an active game to get your blood moving and keep you occupied, so you don’t pick at the leftovers or eat another piece of pie.
  6. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep the night before. Sleep will help your hormones (particularly leptin and ghrelin, which control your feeling of hunger and fullness) stay at normal levels. Studies show that a lack of sleep can cause you to eat foods that are higher in calories, carbs, and fat the following day[1].
  7. Plan how much food you will eat. Are you going to sample a little of everything? Go back for seconds? Have pie? What foods are most important to you? If your grandma’s pie is something you look forward to all year, plan to have a slice! No guilt involved. But really think about what you value and what’s worth it—and what you’re just eating because it’s there.
  8. Practice the “one bite rule.” Take a bite of something, put down your fork, and take a moment to decide if it’s worth it. If it is—enjoy it! But if it’s not, be okay with leaving it on your plate, moving on, and eating something that is worth it.
  9. Eat slowly. Take the time to savor the meal; don’t just rush to clear your plate. After the meal, take a 20-minute break before going back for seconds.
  10. Have a plan for your leftovers. Will keeping them in the house throw you off and prevent you from sticking to your macros? If so, make a plan to send food home with others or figure out a way to get it out of your house.

Remember that what you do 90% of the time is more important than what you do the other 10% of the time. That said, most holidays are really about one meal. Or at most one day. Celebrate the holiday, but don’t let that celebration turn the whole week or weekend into a caloric free-for-all.

[1] Schmid, S. M., Hallschmid, M., Jauch-Chara, K., Born, J, Schultes, B. (2008) A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feeling of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. Journal of Sleep Research. 17(3), 331-4.

 

My Favorite Self-Help Books

Hey friends! I'm a big reader and love to curl up in bed at night with a good book. I keep two running lists on my phone: a list of books I want to read, and a list of books I have read, loved, and recommend to people who ask. If you have similar lists these four books below need to be on it. I especially enjoyed them because while none of them are specifically written about weight loss, each book can easily be read with weight loss in mind. In case you want to order any of these books from Amazon (holla for convenience shopping!) you can click on any of the book cover photos and easily put them in your shopping cart.

You Are a Badass
by Jen Sincero

Inside all of us is greatness, and this book is going to help you find it! Sincero drops truth bombs left and right. “If you want to live a life you’ve never had before, you have to do things you have never done before.” BOOM.  “Procrastination is one of the most common forms of self-sabotage because it’s really easy.” Gosh, there are so many quotable quotes in this one, you just have to read the whole thing, take it in and get inspired to live a bigger life.

Better Than Before
by Gretchen Rubin

If you have ever heard me talk about moderators vs abstainers or how I am an Upholder – I am referencing this book. This book is about more than just setting and achieving goals – it dives deep into your personal tendencies that help you to understand how you personally form habits. It was fascinating to see myself in the Upholder tendency as Gretchen discussed responding readily to outer and inner expectations. If you want to take the quiz without reading the book and find out which tenancy you identify with you can take it online here.

The Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg

If you really want to make permanent changes in your life you need to focus on your habits and changing them to align with your goals. Duhigg outlines The Habit Loop which consists of three elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward. Understanding these components can help in understanding how to change bad habits or form good ones. I've said it before, and I will say it again, if you want to be successful with weight loss long-term you have to create new sustainable habits.

The Compound Effect
by Darren Hardy

My favorite quote in the book is:  “If I were to put a ten-inch-wide, thirty-foot-long plank on the ground and say, “If you walk the length of the plank, I'll give you twenty dollars,” would you do it? Of course, it's an easy twenty bucks. But what if I took that same plank and made a roof-top “bridge” between two 100-story buildings? That same twenty dollars for walking the thirty-foot plank no longer looks desirable or even possible, does it? You'd look at me and say, “Not on your life.” However, if your child was on the opposite building and that building was on fire, would you walk the length of the plank to save him? Without question and immediately – you'd do it, twenty dollars or not. Why is it that the first time I asked you to cross that sky-high plank, you said no way, yet, the second time you wouldn't hesitate? The risk and dangers are still the same. What changed? Your WHY changed – your reason for wanting to do it. You see, when the reason is big enough, you will be willing to perform almost any how.” How inspiring is that? Makes you want to get a really solid reason WHY to back up any changes you are making in your life, right?

Did I Miss Any?

Any other awesome self-help books I am missing? Any of these changed your life?

 

 

018: 10 Things I Am Scared To Tell You

In today’s episode, Amber pulls back the curtain and lets you see a side of her that you do not see on social media. She takes an idea started by Jess Lively, and gets raw and vulnerable as she gives you a “behind-the-scene” view of Amber.

Amber shares her favorite thing to watch on YouTube, how she feels about Instagram, what makes her nervous, something she struggles with, where she envisions her business in 5-10 years, something she is not proud of, and a few other things you will be surprised to find out! She is able to share all of this, knowing that what other people think of her, the opinions they have about her, are none of her business and they mean nothing about her.

Highlights:

  • There is power in acknowledging your imperfections, yet continuing to show
    up and improve.
  • Own who you are and where you are at in the journey of life
  • Being a multi-tasker can mean you are getting a lot done, but at what
    expense?
  • The best thing you can do for content producers is to share and comment on
    their posts.
  • What someone thinks of you is none of your business.
  • Everyone out there has insecurities, guilt, fears, and quirks.
  • Learn from your past mistakes and move forward.

Take Away:
You can have a messy life and you can have things you are not proud of and can still show up and keep moving forward. No one is perfect. Own your past and your quirks because it is a part of you and who you are.

 

Macros 101

Macros 101

Two years ago if you had asked me what “macros” were I would have stared at you with a blank face and my mind would have started to drift to thinking about macaroni and cheese. In the last several year “macros” have become quite the buzz word and it may feel like everyone is talking about counting them right now. The reason is simple – it works. By setting and tracking your macros you get the right nutrition in the right ratios to support your performance, physique, and health goals. It provides structure yet with enough latitude to build a menu that works for YOU.

Wait a minute, let's back up.

What are “Macros”?

With the risk of sounding too “science-y” here's the definition: a macronutrient is any of the nutritional components of the human diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Macros are what make up the calories of your food. 

When we say “counting your macros,” we’re talking about tracking your calories, but specifically breaking those calories down into your intake of carbs, fat, and protein.

 

Why count macros?

Losing weight really comes down to eating fewer calories than you expend. Cutting calories by any method is going to result in weight loss; however, the quality and permanence of that weight loss is vastly different. Instead of just counting general calories, knowing how much of each macronutrient to include in your diet yields better results.

For example, if your typical diet and exercise puts you in a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than you use each day) but you aren’t eating enough protein, your body will break down muscle for use as energy. If you aren’t getting enough carbohydrates, you’ll likely feel weak and unable to perform well during workouts. Carbs are fuel! Lastly, not getting enough fat in your diet can mess with your hormones, which can make your weight loss stall or even make it more difficult for you to build muscle, since eating healthy fats can naturally boost your levels of growth hormones.

Yes, you can lose weight by cutting calories, but we aren’t just interested in dropping weight. We want to lose fat, and we want a good-looking, athletic, healthy body. For that, counting calories isn’t enough—you need to count your macros.

Each macronutrient contributes calories to your food. Here's how much:

 

How do I find out the macros of the food I eat?

Most foods you eat have a nutrition label that looks like this:

On the nutrition label, you will always see the three macronutrients listed with the number of grams the product contains.

In this nutrition label, you can see the following:

• 8g of fat

• 37g of carbs

• 3g of protein

Based on the caloric value for a gram of each of the macro nutrients listed above (1 gram carb = 4 calories, 1 gram protein = 4 calories, 1 gram fat = 9 calories), you can see how this product’s 230 calories are broken into the three macros:

 

If what you are eating doesn’t have a nutrition label (think: an apple), then you can use a database (like MyFitnessPal) to calculate the macronutrients.

 

Why can't I just cut out carbs or sugar to lose weight?

Cutting calories in any form is going to help you lose weight. But if you tell me that you aren’t going to eat any carbs or sugar ever again (or any other extreme restriction used to lose weight), then I’d say you have more willpower than 99% of the population. Chances are you will “mess up” by eating something off-plan and then feel guilty. With counting macros (you will also hear it called IIFYM – If It Fits Your Macros – or flexible dieting), there aren’t “good” and “bad” foods; it’s all just food. Flexible dieting is built on the basic knowledge of certain macronutrients and gives you a precise amount of each macronutrient to include in your diet. If you want ice cream for dessert, have it! You just have to make sure not to go over your daily allotment of carbs or fat. If you fit it into your macros, it’s not a cheat, it’s not bad—it fits! And if it fits your macros, you can eat it guilt-free and without feeling like you “cheated” on your diet. This is a sustainable way of eating.

Don’t get me wrong; it would be really hard to eat processed foods and treats all day long but still hit your macros. Most of the food you consume needs to be nutrient-dense food like lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. But the beauty of flexible dieting is that you can easily make room for treats and still reach your weight-loss goal. It’s a moderate, healthy way to approach food.

How do I get started?

      • Buy a food scale: Get used to weighing out your food instead of using measuring cups and spoons. Why is this important? Because it’s so much more accurate! It’s too easy to overfill measuring spoons and cups, which leads to eating extra calories and stalled progress. It will take time for weighing and tracking to become a habit. For the first couple of weeks, it may feel like it takes forever to weigh and log everything, but I promise it will get easier and faster. After about two to three weeks of tracking, it should only take you about five extra minutes a day.
      • Download a food-tracking app: Personally, I love using the app MyFitnessPal (MFP). It’s user-friendly, tracks everything for you, and the database is huge and fairly accurate. Play around with MFP. It takes some getting used to, but the tracking capabilities of MFP make it well worth the time. And it does get easier. Figure out how to find foods, how to adjust the serving size, and how to add recipes—those are the tools you will use the most.
      • Log your normal intake for 1 week: You aren’t trying to hit any macros or calories, just eat normally and track your food choices. This will both give you practice using your tracking app as well as give you a clear picture of your normal diet. You will be able to see your current caloric intake and macros and have a MUCH better idea of how to accurately set your numbers moving forward.
      • Set your macro goals: You can set your macros either through a coach (like me!) or on your own. If you want to set your own macros I have created a free cheat sheet to help you do it as accurately as possible. You can download that here:

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Are you tired?

I woke up exhausted Wednesday morning. My youngest has been waking up with coughing fits during the night and I got up around 11:30 pm to care for him and then couldn't get back to sleep so I got up, had some midnight cereal (Reese's Puff, duh!), took some benadryl, and read a book until I went back to sleep around 1 am.

My son woke me up at 7 am and the first thought I had when I opened my eyes was I'M EXHAUSTED.

But there was my 9 year old waking me up to ask me to open up the mason jar of syrup. I was so tired I told him to bring it to me, which he promptly did. I didn't even open my eyes and popped the metal seal with my fingernails and BAM  syrup was suddenly all over my bed.

Yeah, that really happened.

I dragged myself out of bed, stripped the sheets and threw them into the wash just knowing that the day was going to be awful.

While simultaneously making breakfast and thinking about my Instagram post for the day (yes, I think about you a lot!) my mind drifted to something I heard before that goes like this:

Being tired is a story we tell ourselves.

That's right. We tell ourselves all sorts of stories through the day. They are called “stories” because they are not the truth and they can be rewritten because you get to be the author of your life. 

What's your favorite selt-sabotaging stories? We all have them. What do you hear repeated in your mind over and over again that you have chosen to believe?

It might be:

“I can never stick to my goals” or
“I am always going to be fat” or
“I suck at eating healthy” or
“I never know what to do at the gym” or
“I'm too busy to meal prep” or
“I could never ever squat more than 150 lbs”

Here's a truth bomb: What you focus on becomes your reality.

That means if you are constantly telling yourself, “I'm too busy to exercise” guess what happens? You are too busy to exercise.

So what I did about my story of being tired? I re-wrote it in my brain. I consciously stopped telling myself I was tired. I repeated the mantra, “I am awake and I have all the energy I need for my day.”

AND IT WORKED

I had more energy, I didn't drag through my day, and I accomplished everything I needed to.

It's time to re-write those stories my friend. What are you telling yourself about yourself that isn't serving you? If you want to change your body, your life, or your circumstances start with replacing the negative stories with positive truths like:

“I am powerful and in control of my life” or
“I love feeling strong, healthy and in shape” or
“I choose food that fuels my body” or
“I love my exercise and I am confident at the gym” or
“I am a meal-prepping titan” or
“I am strong and I can squat 200 lbs”

It's going to feel like you are telling yourself a lie for awhile. Your brain is going to say “Uhhhhh, but you can't squat 200 lbs yet.” Or “Babe, you are 50 lbs overweight, you can't fool yourself into thinking you are healthy and in shape.”

That's the point. You are letting go of a story that's not serving you and is keeping you stagnant and replacing it with one that will change the way you think, feel, and act.

If you continue to repeat to yourself “I am strong and I can squat 200 lbs” guess who is going to have a 200 lb squat in the future?

If you repeat “I love feeling strong, healthy, and in shape” guess who is going to lose weight?

That's right – you are.

Come up with one story you tell yourself about fitness. How you can change that to a positive affirmation that you can start to repeat to yourself until you accomplish it? Hold onto that mantra. Repeat it to yourself morning and night. It will feel funny at first because it's not reality, but keep doing it.

Because remember, what you focus on becomes your reality, not the other way around.