So I’m about to make a little blog history by posting my first recipe that’s basically devoid of any nutritional benefit whatsoever. Before you go judge, you have to admit it looks amazing, right?
Now wipe that drool off your face and hang with me a sec. Because I’m a dietitian and I’m all about balance and moderation and blah blah blah, I promise to give you a healthier dessert option too (Confession: I cringe a little when I hear the phrase “everything in moderation” because it’s so played out. Like tell me something we don’t know – even a 3rd grader can tell you that it’s not healthy to eat cupcakes all day). So I wanna give you a little “naughty” (chocolate cake) with a little “nice” (a clean ingredient cookie recipe) in order to maintain all that balance shit :)
Anywho, behold my recipe for my famous Flourless Chocolate Cake. Now I don’t pretend to be Julia Freaking Child in the kitchen or anything, but I’ve yet to meet someone who has told me the cake sucked. Slap a little frosting and some chocolate shavings and it looks pretty fancy, but in reality, it could not be simpler to make as it only uses 4 ingredients: butter (no trans fat margarine crap for this girl!), sugar, eggs, and semi sweet chocolate. As far as the amounts, it goes a little like this:
Flourless Chocolate Cake
- 7 oz of semi sweet baking chocolate
- 4/5 cup of butter (yes you read that right…4/5 cup. I know it’s weird and hard to measure but that’s the amount that works so deal with it)
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
1. Melt the butter and chocolate on low (or use a double boiler) until both ingredients are well blended together.
2. While the chocolate is melting, beat the 4 eggs together in a large bowl. Add in the sugar next.
3. Final step before baking: pour the chocolate mixture in with the eggs and sugar and beat until blended.
4. Pour mix into a greased pan (I like to use a traditional round layer cake pan/deep dish pie pan, but it’s all up to you) and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. I like to check it around 25 minutes and then every 5 or so minutes after (can you tell I’m not a hardcore baker?). Note that the cake is done once a fork stuck in the middle comes MOSTLY clean – a little batter on the fork is okay since the goal is to get it nice and fudgey…mmmmm….
*As for the frosting, I’ve been recently choosing to make my own via a little coconut cream or coconut oil + powdered sugar + vanilla extract or natural peanut butter. Which is full of saturated fat, sure, but again, better than that partially hydrogenated Duncan Hines shit…
So there’s that. Now on to a little HEALTHIER sweet treat….like an easy peasy 3 ingredient cookie recipe. Because like the cake above, I like to keep things simple – the fewer ingredients, the more natural the ingredients, and the healthier the ingredients, the BETTER :)
(recipe adapted from The Skinny Confidential, which is a super fun and hilarious blog you should ALL be reading if you’re into a living a healthy lifestyle)
Three Ingredient Cookies
- 2 cups quick oats
- 2 bananas
- 1 handful of berries (My pref: cranberries to keep it festive)
1. Pre-heat over to 350 F.
2. Mash together all of the ingredient in a bowl [ I used my hands; I know, ghetto, but it got the job done ]. Use a non-stick cookie sheet, roll your cookie dough into balls, & add to sheet.
3. Throw these babies in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Voilà!
So there you have it: some naughty sweets with some nice and tasty treats.
Do YOU have any naughty or nice dessert recipes to share before the onslaught of the holidays? Be a friend and share, mmmm k?
Here’s to being both good and bad…in moderation haha
Here in Austin, there are really only 2 seasons: hot and not hot. The terms “fall”, “winter” and “spring” are totally subjective, and part of the reason I love it here (especially coming from Michigan) is that summer stretches on for months (hello flip flops all. the. time.). But the weather outside has FINALLY gave way to fall – or at least most of the time. I admit I got a little over eager and tried to rock a sweater and boot combo only to sweat my ass off after work because (surprise!) a cold morning turned into a 90 degree afternoon. Womp womp.
Anyway, when fall finally rolls around, I crave something a little heartier than my standard salad and smoothie regimen. I originally tested this recipe way back in July because I was guilted into making something to feed the guys I live with after my roommate said to me one night, “You remember when you used to cook for us? Those were the days…” (hint hint). Both my roommates are extremely fit and active, so I knew I had to make something that was both healthy AND filling. The result was healthy jalapeño cornbread chili, a quick and easy meal that requires minimal effort for maximum tasty amazingness if I do say so myself. I completed the meal by serving it with a side of greens (organic kale, spinach, and swiss chard) with a touch of balsamic which = DELISH. I made it again a week or so ago and it was just as tasty as I remembered so I figured it was good enough to share. Bonus: it’s super fast and easy to make. Oh yeah, and crazy good for you too :)
Recipe for Healthy Jalapeño Cornbread Chili Bake:
- 2 1/2 cups whole grain cornbread mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill Stone Ground Cornbread Mix, which worked perfectly).
- 4 eggs (I used cage free organic, but use whatever you’d like)
- 8 oz fat free or low fat organic cottage cheese
- 1/2 plain (unsweetened) almond milk (or other milk of choice)
- 1 to 3 tablespoons fresh or canned hatch chiles or jalapeños (depends on how spicy you like it)
- 1 package (14 to 16 oz) refrigerated or frozen vegan “beef” (I used Lightlife Smart Ground Original “Beef” crumbles, but there are lots of other kinds out there); you could also use lean ground turkey, beef, or bison if you like the real deal
- 1 jar (16 oz) salsa
- 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used fat free cheddar the first time, and organic goat cheese the second, but this could definitely be omitted…we all agreed that you didn’t really taste the cheddar since there are so many other competing flavors, however the goat cheese was definitely more flavorful so don’t add much!)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray 9 x 13 inch pan with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine cornbread mix, eggs, cottage cheese, milk, jalapeños and stir until just combined. Spread a thin layer on the bottom of the pan (about 1/2 the “batter”).
3. Break up and crumble the “meat” (make sure it’s already thawed if frozen or cooked if it’s raw poultry/beef meat) over the batter, and then add a layer of salsa over the meat.
4. Pour the beans and corn over the salsa layer.
5. Finally, sprinkle cheese (if using) plus the remaining batter of the top. The batter will probably be sticky and it can be hard to spread or make it cover the until top layer, but no big deal if it doesn’t. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cornbread is cooked all the way through.
Any other healthy AND hearty meals I’m missing out on? Be a friend and share, mmmmm k?
P.S. Thanks to the lovely Emmanuel Winston for the pics – I get spoiled having a photog for a roommate :)
Getting healthy and implementing changes to clean up your diet and increase your physical activity can be HARD. I mean let’s be honest…if it weren’t, dietitians like myself wouldn’t have jobs (or at least that’s the way I look at it). But what if we could figure out a way to make healthy decisions easy decisions? Would that help our friends, family, and ourselves get fit and stay fit for good?
This point came up in a wellness coalition meeting I had at work. As interested health professionals, we were encouraged to come up with ways to make being healthy a little less painful. For example, there was discussion of changing most of the vending machines to ones that carried healthier snack items, such as baked chips, raw nuts, granola bars, etc. Another idea that had been implemented in the past (and I was quick to take advantage of) was to offer a “farm to work box” to employees that for $20, would be full of fresh, local, and usually organic produce – and the best part is, you pick it up at work so it saves you an extra trip to the farmer’s market or local co-op.
While it’s super important for policy makers to try and change our environment to be less obesity promoting, it got me thinking: what are some things that we can do at home for ourselves in order to make the healthy choice a hell of a lot easier?
To be honest, when I started thinking of ways to make healthy choices more convenient, it turns out that it’s a lot harder than it sounds. For example, a way to get someone to eat more vegetables could be to keep cut up raw veggies and healthy dip in the refrigeration at all times. But who is gonna cut up those veggies? Isn’t that technically creating extra work for someone (even if another person does benefit from their handiwork)?
I came up with a few options below, but as you can see, the list is a little on the short side. So that’s why I’m asking you dear reader, to help a girl out and send any and all ideas regarding this topic my way. I would love to share some ideas on the Get a Word in Veg Wise Facebook page, or if I get enough amazing responses, then I’m down to create another post dedicated to it.
1. This one is a little Captain Obvious, but if you don’t want to eat junk food, then DON’T keep it in the house. You may laugh at this, but I get a lot of clients tell me that they “have” to keep unhealthy foods around for their kids, roommates, or spouses. In fact one woman told me that she wasn’t able to cook healthy very often because her husband told her that if she continued to make “nasty health food”, then he’d divorce her (I kid you not). Hopefully your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/etc. isn’t that much of a dick (and if they are then we have bigger issues than procuring healthy foods, amiright?) but if they are, then it’s time to explain to them why what you’re doing is important and that keeping junk food that may trigger a binge in the house is a lame move on their part and won’t be tolerated any more.
2. Back to the aforementioned veggies: it may cost a little more, but during busy weeks precut fruit, veggies, and bags of salad greens are a total lifesaver and super easy to grab for a snack. Other quick and easy health foods that require minimal to no cooking or preparation: canned soups (I like Amy’s Organics, that girl knows what she’s doing), healthy frozen meals (you can find Kashi or Amy’s meals pretty much anywhere, but even Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals can work in a pinch and beats a Big Mac), Greek yogurt cups, string cheese sticks, raw nuts, Popchips/baked chips, premade salads, whole grain English muffins (add avocado or natural nut butter to help fill you up), frozen veggie burgers, lean, nitrate free and minimally processed lunch meat and whole grain wraps/breads for sandwiches, etc. I almost always have a can of veggie soup and/or a frozen meal or two on hand for those days that life is cray and I know I won’t be able to cook. It probably takes less time to microwave a frozen Kashi meal than to sit and go through the drive thru for a burger, so that excuse doesn’t fly with me anymore. If you don’t like store bought frozen meals, then make a little extra of your next dish to freeze yourself during those times that you are able to go all Jamie Oliver in the kitchen (tips: veggie chili and curries freeze well and don’t taste like crap when you thaw them out I promise).
3. Buy a package deal for fitness classes (i.e. yoga, Zumba, boot camp, swimming lessons, whatever floats your boat…) or personal training sessions. Since you’re paying money (and possibly even extra $ if you’re already shelling out for a gym membership), most people will feel guilty and like they are losing out on all that money, which forces them to go.
4. Spend too much time on the couch watching TV/Netflix/porn (kidding about the porn thing, that’s your own business not mine)? Cancel your cable or Netflix to keep you from being parked on your ass in front of the TV all the time. While I realize this may sound a little radical to some, I lived without TV for months at a time before and I have to say, it’s kind of liberating…you’d be surprised at what you get accomplished without that distraction in your life. It made me want to go outside more to get some stimulation, since I wasn’t getting entertained by the old boob tube. Plus think of all the money you’ll save – cable isn’t cheap.
5. Lame girl confession: if I have cute workout clothes to wear, especially new ones, I will purposely work out in order to be able to wear them (don’t judge me). It’s a lot easier and more fun to go to the gym looking legit than going looking like a slob kabob in that oversize shirt and holey sweats. You don’t have to drop crazy amounts of cash on expensive workout wear if you’re a baller on a budget (I’m looking at you Lululemon…) – I’ve gotten super cute stuff from Target and Old Navy that I can sweat in just fine :)
6. Surround yourself with healthy like minded people: I can’t emphasize this enough (and yes I realize I mention it in almost every post), but making healthy friends is a must if you want to keep your environment more healthy for YOU. It’s gonna be a lot easier to turn down that queso at happy hour if a.) your friends aren’t touching it or b.) your friends aren’t ordering it. Both my roommates are awesome at convincing me to go workout with them and it helps to have that push out the door when I’d rather lay in bed and read celebrity gossip…not that I would ever do that… :)
(my wonderful roommates/running buddies and I)
So that wraps up my list, but I would still LOVE for more ideas from those who have this healthy lifestyle thing down pat. Email me or send them to me at the Get a Word in Veg Wise FB page.
Here’s to being healthy, happy, and stressing less while doing it :)
Up until recently, I felt pretty good about the level of physical activity I was getting in. Even with a 9-5, I was able to make it out for a run or to the gym on a regular basis, take my dog out for walks, and even spent leisure time hiking around Town Lake or doing other activities that got my heart rate up and made me sweat. So imagine my shock when I started seeing more research on how even if you are “active” (i.e. you work out 30 minutes 5 or more times per week), you probably are STILL too sedentary and not getting enough physical activity to prevent disease, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or even depression.
Check out this quote from a top exercise physiologist and physical activity researcher (quote taken from the Runner’s World July 2013 Issue):
“Up until very recently, if you exercised for 60 minutes or more a day, you were considered physically active, case closed,” says Travis Saunders, a Ph.D. student and certified exercise physiologist at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. “Now a consistent body of emerging research suggests it is entirely possible to meet current physical activity guidelines while still being incredibly sedentary, and that sitting increases your risk of death and disease, even if you are getting plenty of physical activity. It’s a bit like smoking. Smoking is bad for you even if you get lots of exercise. So is sitting too much.”
If you aren’t completely terrified and/or concerned yet, here’s more bad news:
-Per the American College of Sports Medicine, people are about 30 percent LESS active overall on days when they exercise versus days they don’t participate in physical activity
-People spend around 9.3 hours per day on their ass, while averaging only 7.7 hours sleeping (research found on www.wired.com)
-A study of 3,757 women found that for every two hours they sat in a given work day, their risk for developing type 2 diabetes went up 7% percent, which means their risk is 56 % higher on days they sit for eight hours or more
-Sitting too much can even increase your risk of death! A 12-year study of about 17,000 Canadians adults, researchers found that the more time people spent sitting, the earlier they died—regardless of age, their weight, or how much they exercised.
-According to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, “Simply by standing, you burn three times as many calories as you do sitting. Muscle contractions, including the ones required for standing, seem to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars. When you sit down, muscle contractions cease and these processes stall.”
So what’s a health conscious person to do aside from moving a treadmill desk into your cubicle (yes these do actually exist)? The answer is simple: just MOVE. Taking regular physical activity breaks and incorporating more movement throughout the day can improve your health – NOT simply logging more time at the gym.
Here are just a few ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine:
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and take walking breaks every 60-90 minutes. Yes the workday won’t always permit for you to get up and move every hour, but the more you can make it happen, the better
- Ask your coworkers to take “walk and talk” meetings vs. sitting down in a conference room. Bonus: the fresh air and change of scenery can help energize you and stimulate creativity
- You’ve heard it a million times before, but it bears repeating: take the stairs, park your car at the back of the parking lot so you have to walk further, walk to the store to run errands when possible, wear a pedometer to encourage you to take more steps per day, do calisthenics during TV commercial breaks, etc.
- Get your coworkers in on the act: have a contest for who you can the most pushups per day, or have wall sit competitions…whatever you can think of to add in that extra activity!
- In addition to your workouts, try saving your favorite TV shows for the gym or watch them at home on the treadmill to keep you moving
- Just remember, when there’s a will, there’s a way: for the past 3 days I’ve challenged myself to do 50 squats before hopping in the shower, which only takes a few minutes, but helps add up to move activity (and hopefully a better ass. Hey a girl can dream…). Make mini challenges for yourself, or share with friends
- Talk to your boss about taking scheduled activity breaks – getting your superior in on the act helps create a healthy work culture, which makes being active that much more easier
Please, please, PLEASE send me more ideas…I love trying out new ideas or sharing them here or with friends.
So with that said, I’m outta here to go foam roll and take my puppy for a mini walk :) Still crossing my fingers for one of those treadmill desks though…
Stay ACTIVE and AMAZING,
P.S. Thank you for all the Facebook love on the Get a Word in Veg Wise Facebook page! I try to post not only the links to the new posts, but lots of other ideas, tips, tricks, and inspiration to keep on living that healthy lifestyle. If you haven’t checked it out, go to “Get a Word in Veg Wise” on Facebook and give it a like if you wanna show me and those I work with some love (https://www.facebook.com/GetAWordInVegWise)
You know those “How I lost 100 lbs” stories that you’ll find in mags like Self, Shape, Women’s/Men’s Health, or any other health and fitness related mags? You know, the articles that feature REAL people talking about what worked for them when it came to losing weight, getting fit, and changing their diet for the better?
Personally, I’m obsessed with those stories, and if the popularity of such articles in magazines are any indication, so are a lot of others. I like these features because I can study what really works for people…because a lot of fitness and nutrition related advice sounds good in theory, but may not be the most practical. An example of this might be the recommendation to eat 6 small meals/day in order to keep your metabolism revved and your blood sugar levels stable in order to achieve weight loss. This approach works for many people like myself and is especially useful if you suffer from diabetes. However, I’ve seen many people try this method, only their meals aren’t so “small” as they are frequent, which leads to overeating and excess calorie and food consumption.Therefore, it makes me a little more hesitant to dole out advice that I don’t think is practical in certain cases and to certain personality types, especially if I think the client may be prone to overeating.
Sometimes when I talk to someone about advice or techniques that I’ve used, I get a “well you’re a dietitian, you’re not a REAL person” type of response. While I can attest that yes I am indeed a real human being, I know what they’re saying: that my advice or what I do on a daily basis isn’t achievable or practical for someone without a master’s in nutrition who struggles with their eating. This is a common barrier that I work hard to overcome because I try not to give advice or ideas that I don’t think are realistic, but some people have their mind made up the second they look at me that I must be inhuman to be able to follow what they think a healthy diet and/or exercise regimen consists of.
So for all those that take my ideas with a grain of sea salt, I wanted to ask some of my healthiest friends what works for them and to spill their best health tips, secrets, and advice to share with you all. Because besides being healthy and beautiful, they also are super sweet and like to share :) So take a look at some of my “real life success stories” and get inspired!
First up: my bestie from high school, Margaret
Margaret makes this list for obvious reasons (look at her, duh). But aside from her good looks and smoking bod, I asked her for some advice since she’s one of the most naturally athletic people I know (and in case you were wondering, she was voted “most athletic” female in my high school graduating class. I was voted “worst driver”. Womp womp).
1. GREEK YOGURT: Margaret told me she eats this healthy little treat everyday, which is smart and here’s why – Greek style yogurt has more protein and is less processed than it’s regular yogurt counterpart (plus it tastes delish).
2. WATER: “I drink water all day…I try to have a water bottle with me at all times. I think it’s really important not to drink your calories, and water is cheap and the best thing for your body as far as beverages go”.
3. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: “I try to break a sweat every day, even when I can’t hit the gym. I see a lot of women who are sedentary all day and then go run for 30 minutes at the gym…that’s still not enough physical activity! Being active should be something you’re doing all day every day, not only when you go to workout. Just look at some of the other countries where people walk everywhere and aren’t as sedentary AND they are fitter than us…that’s the kind of lifestyle we all should strive for.”
Next up: my college love, Michelle
I had to ask Michelle for some advice since a.) she’s tall, super toned, and supermodel gorgeous and b.) the girl is in AMAZING physical shape – she’s an avid marathoner who doesn’t just run 26.2 miles at a time…she’s crazy fast too! Here’s what she said:
1. VEGA ALL IN ONE NUTRITIONAL SHAKE: Per Michelle, “I drink one of these everyday – I like the vanilla chai and just mix it with water. There really is a noticeable difference in how you feel after drinking it all the time! It contains a good amount of fiber, protein, probiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3′s.”
2. HER DIET: “I follow a pescetarian diet with limited dairy and gluten, which I’ve found is easy to digest, and gives me enough energy to get through the day and my intense workouts.” *Side note: science also supports Michelle’s diet, as she’s consuming a large amount of unprocessed foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains (even without the gluten), and healthy fats. As for limiting the dairy, from a dietitian standpoint I can support limited dairy, especially if you’re lactose intolerance (as many of us are) – just make sure you are getting adequate calcium and vitamin D from other sources (which I know she is! The girl eats a super clean diet…obviously!).
3. HER EXERCISE PLAN – DO YOUR CROSS TRAINING: “While running is the core of my workout plan, I also incorporate lots of other forms of cross training, like spinning. I love yoga, Pilates, and barre classes for both flexibility and strength training.” This is smart on Michelle’s part, since logging lots of miles running can put you at risk for muscle depletion if you aren’t careful with your diet and make a point to do some resistance training in order to preserve lean muscle mass.
Beautiful friend #3: my BFF Sarah
I met Sarah at Michigan State while in one of our nutrition labs where I almost passed out during class (but that’s another story). Right from the start, she became my partner in crime and is one of the most gorgeous, hilarious, and fun girls I know. She gave me these gems to share with you all:
1. YOU DON’T HAVE TO RUN TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT: Ok look, running is super trendy right now which is great: participation in races such as 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons in particular are at an all time high. In recent years, plans like the Couch to 5k training plan have made running more accessible and less intimidating to take up. But what if running isn’t your thing? Sarah has told me numerous times that she doesn’t like running and probably never will, which I would like to say for the record is ok…YOU DON’T HAVE TO RUN TO BE HEALTHY! Sarah goes hard on the elliptical, walks on an incline, or hikes with her dogs and she looks damn good sooooo if you aren’t a runner and have no interest in being one, she is proof that there are lots of other effective forms of cardio.
2. DRINK LOTS OF (NO-CAL) FLUIDS: Like Margaret, Sarah reiterates the importance of staying hydrated, which is smart: our metabolism can suffer if we aren’t getting enough fluids. Her suggestions: La Croix sparking water (my personal fave! Please try the coconut flavor and be prepared to fall in love), or DIY infused water (i.e. fill a pitcher with water and slices of fruit, cucumber, mint, etc.).
3. GET IN TOUCH WITH NATURE: This is one of my favorite tips of the bunch because I strongly believe in this as well. Even if it’s a few times a week, Sarah suggests walking outside with your dog, roller blading, going on a bike ride…just do something that gets you outside and active. One of my favorite memories I have with Sarah is when she came to visit me in Corpus and we would hike on the shoreline on North Padre Island while catching up with one another’s lives. Good for the body and soul, right? :)
Hottie #4: my Austin amiga, Mary
Mary and I met for the first time at a pool party in Corpus where I had to borrow a swimsuit from her and we immediately bonded after getting dressed/undressed in front of each other (the best way to meet friends if you ask me). I love Mary because she has such a very fun loving bohemian vibe, is strikingly beautiful, and is an amazing friend to boot. Her advice is as follows:
1. BIKRAM YOGA: Mary has been on a Bikram kick lately and found a studio near her crib where she can go on the regular. Mary told me that since she’s started a more regular yoga practice, she, “is much more flexible, feels stronger, and my (chronic) back pain feels a million times better.” In addition to the physical benefits of Bikram (more info on Bikram found here for those not familiar: http://www.bikramyoga.com/BikramYoga/about_bikram_yoga.php), Mary reaps the psychological benefits of yoga too, which is to help the mind relax, destress, and be more mindful in our everyday life.
2. THINK OUTSIDE THE GYM: Like Margaret, Mary also advocates for being active ALL day and to think beyond slogging through a workout at the gym as your only form of exercise. Mary not only runs and goes to yoga, but also rock climbs, swims, two steps, and goes standup paddle boarding to help mix it up.
3. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING: Mary is a great example of someone who can listen to her body’s appetite…I don’t think I’ve ever seen her overeat, and she does a great job of letting herself indulge in her favorite foods while also making sure she gets lots of the good stuff, i.e. fruits and vegetables. She is the poster child for everything in moderation, and doesn’t need to count calories, etc. While this approach may not work for everyone, especially if you have difficulty losing weight and need more structure, she shows that it can work for some and with GREAT success!
So now it’s YOUR turn: what practical real life approaches to living a healthy life work for YOU? Spill the beans and please share :)
Stay inspired and happy 1st day of August!
This post was inspired by a question that was asked of me after a presentation I gave for the Austin Department of Health and Human Services. After the presentation was over, an audience member raised her hand and asked, ”I diet. I exercise. But I don’t lose weight. What am I doing wrong?”. Before I could even think about it, I found myself saying, “Well what about your behavior? How are you changing that to help you lose weight?”. While the answer was so simple, it struck me as incredibly interesting because I realized that we hear a lot about nutrition and exercise, but no one seems to promote behavior change as an important piece of the weight loss puzzle. The way I see it, if there ever was a weight loss equation, it would look something like this:
DIET + EXERCISE + BEHAVIOR CHANGE = WEIGHT LOSS
Now I’m no psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist or counselor of any kind…although sometimes I feel like one when I talk to my patients or clients since food is incredibly personal. Still, there are a few things I’ve observed, researched, or even tried myself to modify behavior that can help support the changes to clean up your diet and help you stay fit. For example….
1. GET POSITIVE
I’m pretty sure some of my friends are sick of hearing this, but I really believe in the power of positivity – no really! Believing you can do it and keeping positive in the face of obstacles is the key to managing your weight. Don’t believe me? Several studies back me up, including an interesting one involving obese men and women from the Netherlands. Researchers tracked these people (who were all on a weight loss program) and noted their moods, confidence/self esteem, and their overall attitude. The results? The participants who believed in their ability to lose weight lost more weight and kept it off longer than those who struggled with their confidence. I’m a huge believer that our thoughts become our actions, so when trying to lose or manage your weight, do whatever it takes to make yourself REALLY believe that you’re capable of it. In the documentary Hungry for Change, Dr. Christiane Northrup recommends sticking a post-it with a positive message written on it to your bathroom mirror and reading it out loud twice a day. According to research that she quoted, positive affirmations, while borderline cheesy, actually do work in improving self esteem. Her suggestion was to write “I accept myself unconditionally right now”, but write whatever you feel resonates with you (not recommended: writing “Don’t be a fat ass” and putting it on your fridge…again, we’re keeping it POSITIVE, remember?).
2. GET SOCIAL SUPPORT
(Me and my Corpus posse after the Cinco de Mayo 5K last year where you get a beer and a sombrero when you finish. Ole.)
Social support is important for weight loss for two main reasons. First, it should be pretty obvious that if those you surround yourself with those who don’t support you or your goals, you are more likely to fail. It’s certainly not the only criteria I have for making friends, but I do have a large number of friends that are very health conscious like me. I love doing things like going to yoga with them, cooking healthy meals together, or grabbing someone for a run or walk while we catch up. When I feel unmotivated, I know it’s time to seek out one of these friends to help inspire me to workout or detox. In addition, social support can help keep us accountable, and studies show that accountability is another indicator of whether someone will lose weight or not. Knowing that you have to share the # of workouts you did the past week or your food diary with someone helps motivate BOTH of you to stay the course since you don’t want to let them down. I can recall many a time I didn’t feel like working out only to remember that I have a friend meeting me at the gym or for a run, and it’s the thought of disappointing them that gets me out the door. When you find a weight loss/workout/clean eating buddy, everyone wins!
3. SELF MONITOR
This is ANOTHER research proven method (actually all of these that I’m listing are otherwise I wouldn’t bother) that helps with weight loss: keep a food record/diary/log/whatever you want to call it. In other words: keep track of everything you put in your mouth. This can also be used for exercise too: I personally track my workouts in my “notes” section of my iPhone or on a little notebook I keep in my purse because logging it in there helps me see what I’ve done and pushes me to do more. Which bring up a good point: sure it’s cool to do it old school and physically write down what you eat or how much exercise you’re doing, but there are SO many apps out there (like “My Fitness Pal”, “Lose It”, etc.) that make it easier than ever to self monitor – they do all the math for you so no excuses! However, if you are a person that will OBSESS over calories and not in a healthy way, skip the calorie counting. I’ve mentioned it before, but I used to get all riled up over calorie counting and would freak out if I went over vs under my calorie limit which was ridiculous and not healthy. I had to step away from the constant calorie logging for awhile and for some, I would recommend the same.
4. SELF REWARDS
Let’s face it, we are all motivated by rewards to a certain extent: we work for them (i.e. our paycheck/dolla dolla bills y’all) and we give them out (gold stars, good grades, treats for a job well done). And for good reason: rewards help keep us motivated especially when we’re at our laziest. So dangle a carrot in front of yourself from time to time if you think it might help you change your behavior. When I was training for a half marathon last fall, I told myself that I’d treat myself to a massage after the race for my hard earned efforts. Granted just finishing the half was enough of a reward to me, but nothing felt better than that 90 minute deep tissue rub down (I am such a sucker for a good massage. I’d probably pay a homeless man to rub me down if I thought he could do a good job. And no, not like that you pervert). I’ve had people tell me that they set a weight loss goal and have rewarded themselves with vacations, new clothes, or a big ticket item like a new TV or an iPad…you choose what works for you. Oh and like the picture says above, please don’t reward yourself with food. Duh.
5. IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU PLAN TO FAIL
Ever heard the saying that goals without a plan are merely wishes? While it’s great to have aspirations, it’s crucial to map out your steps to get there. Some experts recommend scheduling your workouts in your calendar and treating it like a business meeting – hey, bosses don’t cancel now do they? And aren’t you the boss of your own life? I’ve always found it helpful to plan out my meals for the week and then go grocery shop accordingly (bonus: it helps me stay within a more reasonable grocery budget as well). I admit it doesn’t happen every week, but eating healthy becomes easier when you’ve already given it some thought before you find yourself ravenous and are tempted to make a pit stop at a drive thru (hey I’ve been there!). Plans are extra helpful when it comes to training for a particular athletic event, i.e. a marathon or half marathon. Training plans can keep you on track and even more importantly, keep you from injuring yourself due to over or under training. The above training plan is the one I used when running my first half marathon last fall and I could NOT have raced without it. Thanks Hal Higdon!
Anyone else have any tips/ideas for making healthy changes stick? I would LOVE to hear them!
And speaking of changes, check out my new Facebook page for the blog at https://www.facebook.com/GetAWordInVegWise and give it a “like” if you feel like it :) Many thanks to everyone who has liked it already and otherwise supported my blog, and special thanks to my amazing roommate Eman for taking some new pictures to put on the page (and to use to update the blog in the future). If anyone in the Austin area needs a good photog, I got the hook up!
As always, thanks for reading :)
This particular post has been a loooooong time coming. If you’re a WordPress user, one of the cooler features (well at least to me, which probably doesn’t say much since I’m not tech savvy at all) is the ability to look at search terms that people have used to come across your blog. While some of them are pretty entertaining (my personal faves include “Can rice make you ugly?”, “seeds that look like rocks”, and “Is is ok for men to drink wine?”), some terms I see pretty frequently. One of these terms is, “how to become a dietitian” (or a variation on that theme). Currently, I don’t have any advice/tips on how to become an RD (that’s registered dietitian to YOU) so I thought I’d give those searchers some actual information instead of my silly little nutrition articles.
(Me and my fellow dietetic internships classmates – we clearly didn’t spend any time at the beach while we were there…)
(If you DON’T want to be a dietitian or aren’t interested in the field of nutrition, my apologies for a boring blog post. I’ll spice up the next post for all the non-dietitian wannabes I promise!)
So let’s begin…
1. If you want to be a dietitian…you need to LOVE the field of nutrition.
Sounds pretty obvious, huh? But it’s true for this career path and pretty much all others: if you’re passionate about the field you’re going into, you’ll never “work” a day in your life. Being an RD takes an undergraduate degree in nutrition or dietetics (at least 4 years) + a dietetic internship (typically 1 year) + any additional graduate school (1+ years). So as you can see, it’s pretty much a minimum of 5 years of nutrition related classes before you can take the registered dietitian exam (or RD exam). I will admit I didn’t always have the best study habits (somehow “Thirsty Thursday” always won the battle between hitting the library…), but I found it much easier to study for my nutrition and physiology related classes because it was something I was genuinely interested in and I found it fascinating. In fact, I still think nutrition is fascinating and read nutrition books FOR FUN. And I think to be a great RD, you need to have that passion because people can tell if you believe in what you do and that makes you a more effective dietitian.
2. If you want to be a dietitian…DON’T do it for the money
This ones pretty simple: dietitians don’t make good money. Period. Sure there are some jobs out there that are better paying than others, but when I say my job is a labor of love, I’m not kidding around. Unfortunately, my nutritional consultations that I do at work don’t get reimbursed by insurance or Medicare/Medicaid like other allied health professions do (i.e. physical therapy) so expect to make much less than them.
3. If you want to be a dietitian…know that it’s a very competitive field
(I miss all the kiddos I used to work with including this cutie who is the son of one of my former coworkers…how adorable is he?)
This kind of goes along with #1. Nutrition is a very trendy topic right now. People are curious about it, research it, and want to know more about it than ever before. Blame it on the media, our country’s obsession with the “perfect body” and weight loss, whatever…the point is, you’re probably not the only one that wants to be an RD so if you’re serious about it, make sure you are making the grade at school. Like I mentioned with #1, RDs have to do a (typically) 10-12 month internship where they accumulate “hours” of practice being an RD under the supervision of other dietitians who are already in the field. These internships are notoriously hard to get into…I knew girls at Michigan State University (where I did my undergraduate degree…go green baby) that had great GPAs (think 3.6 – 3.8) and STILL didn’t get into an internship. Be prepared to go the extra mile to show that you want to be a nutrition professional, whether it’s volunteering, job shadowing, joining nutrition clubs/associations, etc.
4. If you want to be a dietitian…make sure you’re at peace with food
Some people have interests in a certain career that may not necessarily be healthy. For example, take a former drug addict who decides they want to be a pharmacist…you really think it’s healthy to put that person in a room full of narcotics, stimulants, and other highly abused drugs? Why the interest in pharmacy anyway? The same concept can be applied to nutrition and dietetics. I have seen many people enter into the field who have had an eating problem at some point in their life or another. Now, don’t get me wrong: just because you had an eating disorder or were overweight/obese does NOT mean you can’t be an RD. In fact, struggling with food on a personal level might make you more empathetic to your patients’ struggles and a better dietitian overall! Just make sure that when you enter your internship or into the field as a working professional, you have a healthy relationship with food. Because talking and thinking and reading and writing and debating and learning about food all day is NOT natural. I once listened to a prominent psychologist who worked with eating disorder patients tell us that he truly believes that every dietitian out there probably has a warped relationship with food or disordered eating of some sort because again, it’s not normal to spend so much time fixated on food. And food is more than just fuel for our bodies: it’s very personal, emotional, and even cultural to us. Bottom line: it’s ok to have struggled with food, weight, or eating at some point in your life (and really, who hasn’t?). Just make sure you’re going into the field for the right reasons, and not to “cure yourself” or figure out the best way to lose weight. Nutrition is about so much more than that.
5. If you want to be a dietitian…be prepared to deal with a LOT of misinformation from other so called “nutrition experts”
LIke I said before, it seems like everyone has an interest in nutrition. Which for the most part, I LOVE. My goal in life is to empower others to make better nutrition choices and knowledge is power! However, there are also a lot of well meaning individuals who do NOT have any academic background in food and nutrition who seek out an online certification or other less credible designation and call themselves “nutritionists”, “health coaches/nutrition coaches”, etc. As someone who has spent years researching and studying the field of nutrition (and STILL continues to!), this is extremely frustrating as most of these so called “nutrition experts” are basing their expertise off of a few nutrition books they read or an online course or two. Look, I don’t read a book about surgery or take an online course about the body and then pretend to be a surgeon, so why do people think it’s ok to do that for nutrition? Nutrition is an ever-changing, complex, and dynamic field, and the advice I give is EVIDENCED BASED (which means there are years of research and multiple studies involved to back my recommendations up). While I think it’s great to keep abreast of new information and keep an open mind about nutrition (i.e. just because I learned one thing in graduate school doesn’t mean that it can’t be disproven), by far the most frustrating thing I do is correct misinformation from these “experts” that my patients or clients saw on TV, the internet, at the gym, etc. In other words, just because your personal trainer/friend/internet “eating coach” tells you to eat one way, doesn’t mean that they know what they’re talking about.
6. If you want to be a dietitian…know that you will be judged by your appearance.
I’ve touched on this a little before, but whether I like it or not, how I look is part of my job. Is this always fair? Of course not. Do all people that appear fit and healthy (because they are at an appropriate weight) actually ARE fit and healthy? Hell no! Do all people that look slightly (or more) overweight actually out of shape and unhealthy? Of course not. BUT I’ve heard more than once that I “look like a dietitian – you’re sooooo skinny/thin/tiny/etc.” and for that reasons, I am instantly credible in the eyes of that person. As it turns out, I do actually love (and do) eat super healthy and take my fitness seriously, but I’ve known many a thin and slender girl that may look to be eating healthy, but actually aren’t and subsist off of a fast food diet or go on the opposite spectrum and are thin due to starvation. It’s harsh, but it’s reality, and it’s good to understand and accept that some people may not accept a thing you say if you don’t look “skinny enough” to them. It’s a perception I hope that will change, but unfortunately, I don’t think society is there yet.
7. If you want to be a dietitian…job shadow or intern for another RD
This is something that I didn’t do enough in college, but I think for some, it’s really important. To understand what the field is all about and to see if you’ll like the RD life, I would strongly suggest interning or job shadowing a dietitian. Many RDs like myself LOVE having interns/volunteers because I personally feel so strongly about what I do that I want to nurture and mentor others who would make a great addition to the field and help them become nutrition rock stars. Because while you may think nutrition is cool, you may not like the application of nutrition in a clinical, community, or business setting. But you won’t know until you try it out and learn more about it.
8. If you want to be a dietitian…be prepared to fall in love with one of the most rewarding careers you could have
(I LOVE this note one of my patients wrote to me when I worked in pediatrics)
Ok so obviously I’m biased, but I truly love what I do. Helping people improve their lives is extremely satisfying to me, and I love watching someone undergo positive personal transformation. I feel fulfilled when I’m able to help someone, and as an RD, that’s exactly what you do. I’ve had children tell me they want to grow up and be just like me. I’ve had their parents tell me that they view me as a wonderful role model and that their kids look up to me. Just yesterday I had a woman come up to me crying after a presentation I gave about preventing diabetes and said that she was deeply moved by my message and thanked me for taking the time to talk to her and the rest of the group. I’ve seen children who were bullied in school because of their weight successfully change some of their eating habits and tell me they feel better about themselves. And I could go on and on. Now it’s important to note that you can’t (and won’t) be able to inspire change in everyone. That’s ok. People are only ready to change when THEY are ready to, not when the doctor wants them to or when you want them to. But when you get a patient that’s ready to change and could use your guidance, everything just falls into place.
9. If you want to be a dietitian…ask me and other RDs lots of questions :)
(Taking in the local cuisine at The Salt Lick – big slabs o’ meat anyone?)
If you are a future dietitian in training and have any questions, feel free to leave a comment with your email and I promise I will get back to you ASAP. And if you don’t feel comfortable asking me (and it’s not like I’m an expert!), seek out advice from those already in the field…they’re your best resource. When I was considering becoming a dietitian, I got up the nerve to email a few RDs that I looked up to and it meant a lot that they would share their experiences with me.
Best of luck to all my future RDs and to my current ones: thank you for all that you do :)
Lots of love,
Happy June! Not exactly sure when the first official day of summer is, but to me, it kicks off with Memorial Day weekend and goes until Labor Day. To celebrate, I made another summer “bucket list” of all the amazing ways to celebrate my favorite season of the year, and added a few healthy living goals here and there. Hope you enjoy and send any other ideas you might have my way…I’m always looking for new experiences (and new friends to do them with too!).
1. MAKE YOGA PART OF MY WEEKLY ROUTINE
I’m not really sure why (since I loooooooove to get my stretch on), but I don’t go to yoga as much as I should. Even when it feels like I should be tackling my to do list or working on something else, the minute I hit the mat I fall in love with my yoga practice all over again. I’m lucky to have a few friends here in Austin that are yoga regulars themselves (Hi Keena!) and it’s just as good for my body as it is my sanity. Even if I can’t scramble out of work early enough to make a class, I’m setting an intention to start rolling out my mat at home and getting my flow on. Oh and to reference the above picture: don’t ever drink wine before going to a hot yoga class. Just trust me on this one.
2. HIKE ENCHANTED ROCK
Aside from yoga, I also have a huge place in my heart for taking my workouts outside – living in Corpus was great for long walks or runs on the beach (sounds so romantical…). Austin may not have a beach, but a few local friends have raved about taking a day trip to Enchanted Rock to go hiking, which is a huge ass pink granite rock a little south of town. I know absolutely nothing else about it, but based on some of the pictures I’ve seen that are absolutely stunning, what else do I need to know? Sign me up!
3. FIND A NEW FARMER’S MARKET
I’m embarrassed to say that in a town so hip on healthy living and eating local, I have yet to frequent a single farmer’s market. Time to change that and I’m kind of excited to let out my inner nutrition nerd and score some organic produce to play with at home.
4. STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING
I’m pretty sure everyone else on the planet has gone and done this but me. Better late than never, right?
5. PERFECTING THE PERFECT HEALTHY (ISH) MARGARITA
If you haven’t ever checked out the Thug Kitchen blog, please do (but just not at work or around young children that can read…too many f-bombs). Then go home and make these amazing margs…my roommate introduced me to them and it was love at first sip. Since they’re all natural and low sugar (we don’t add any in and if I need it a little extra sweet, I go for stevia), they’re a great summer indulgence you won’t feel too badly about the next day. Your behavior after having a few is another story…
6. GROW SOMETHING
My roommates are landscaping rockstars and have recently put in some beds to plant some flowers, veggies, and whatever else their little green thumbs desire. I REALLY want an herb garden and I’m toying with the idea of convincing them to let me plant a little herb patch. Because there’s nothing better than fresh herbs when you’re cooking – store bought or dried herbs kind of taste like ass. You know it’s true.
7. PRACTICE SAFE SUN THIS YEAR
Ok I get it…everyone looks a little better/healthier/sexier/whatever with a tan. And for years I faithfully laid out with the best of them trying to convince my fair Polish skin to get a little color. But as a person who takes my health pretty seriously, I realize how idiotic that was. Skin cancer is no joke. And I’d rather be the whitest girl on the beach than have to get pieces of my skin removed. SO JUST WEAR YOUR DAMN SUNSCREEN ALREADY. Besides, premature wrinkles? Not so sexy.
Any other items I should add to my bucket list? Send them my way :)
Have an amazing summer!
I’m not even going to make excuses for the fact that things have gotten a little stale over here on the old blog. I’m sure it’s self explanatory that when I get busy, something’s gotta give and this blog (aka my little labor of love) definitely gets tossed to the side for more important things, like work and keeping my sanity. BUT life has calmed down some (I moved yet again – in the past 6 months, I’ve lived in 5 houses and numerous couches…no for real) so I finally have time to resurrect the blog and share a little gem of a recipe with you all (or should I say y’all? No matter how long I live in Texas, that phrase will always sound foreign coming from my lips…).
So it’s May, which means that summer is quickly approaching (or if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate like me, then it’s basically already here). Summer = swim suit season, and I don’t care how confident you are with yourself, wearing a tiny piece of Lycra makes even the most secure a little more self conscious. To help ready my bikini body, I’ve been trying to include lots of fresh fruits and veggies in my diet to help me fill up without filling out (ha) and to banish bloat. I created this recipe awhile ago and have since tested it on my roommates, who gave it their enthusiastic approval, and at a little get together we had at our house where it was almost gone before I got any so I’m guessing it didn’t suck that bad :)
Enter my Summer Detox Salad. Each ingredient was carefully selected for a specific purpose to help detoxify your bod. You’ll notice that there aren’t specific amounts posted for the ingredients; that’s because I hate to measure out things when I cook and tend to just go with the flow. So just chop up the following into whatever ratio you feel like and enjoy :)
SUMMER DETOX SALAD: (note: use all fresh produce and organic if possible)
-cucumber, cut into rounds then quartered (or whatever you feel like, it’s your salad)
-cantaloupe, cut into cubes
-juice from 2 (or more) limes, fresh squeezed (can also use lemon, which is probably even more detoxifying)
-splash of red wine vinegar (could also sub apple cider vinegar, but I prefer red wine for the taste)
-dash of sea salt (don’t get too crazy now, it still is salt and too much WILL make you bloat, trust me)
Chop, mix, and enjoy! Doesn’t it even look fresh and healthy?
Have an amazing week and let me know if you try the salad :)
I don’t know about you, but I love moving somewhere new. Sure, packing and the actual physical process of moving all your shit is a pain in the ass, but to me, traveling and setting up shop in a new city kind of makes me feel like I’m on vacation. Everything is new and novel again, and here in Austin, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface off all the recommended things to go do and see.
(I stole this pic of Red Bud Isle, which is dog park heaven – definitely a must see if you have a four legged friend like mine)
And what’s the fun of vacation if you don’t let yourself go a little bit? By that I mean boozing it up, going out to eat, and letting some of your previous established healthy habits and routines slide (*cough cough* like exercise…oops). So because I think I’m on vacation, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been in a little bit of a vacay mode the past couple of weeks. Sure, I’ve gone out for runs or scoped out some new yoga classes. And yes, I’ve been eating fairly healthy (just ask my poor roommates who have to endure my grocery shopping lists, which include foreign to them items like chia seeds, almond milk, and kale). But I still feel a little too lax. And when it interferes with how I feel (like how I huffed and puffed through my entire run today?), then I know it’s time for a change.
But how do I get myself “back on track”? How do we find the motivation to stop living like hedonists and start taking care of ourselves again? Because let’s face it, sometimes healthy living kind of, well, SUCKS. Sometimes it’s hard to say no to that second (or third) glass of wine at the end of a long day. And sometimes I want a brownie a whole lot more than a salad. But deep down, I know that making healthy choices the majority of the time makes me feel (and probably look) better, and usually that’s enough to help guide me in the right direction.
So here’s my plan of attack for getting out of vacation mode and into healthy living HAM mode (please refer to the Kanye and Jay-Z classic “HAM” should you not understand the reference and then thank me later for dropping a classic hip hop gem on your ears):
1. Regulate my sleep schedule: due to my “fun employment”, my sleep cycle is ALL over the place. It’s not unusual to go to bed at 3 in the morning, and I find that this really messes with my energy levels. In addition, I learned that research has shown that those who work second or third shifts at work (i.e. the night shift) tend to be much more likely to have depressive disorders because their circadian rhythms are so out of whack and because they aren’t exposed to as much sunlight as regular shift workers. It’s time to start setting a bedtime…and then actually sticking to it.
2. Workout a minimum of 4 times per week: I NEED exercise in my life for several reasons, such as the post workout endorphins, increased energy, stress relief, and to a lesser degree, to keep my ass from getting out of control (hey I’ll admit it, and I won’t apologize for the confidence that building new muscles in my body instills in me). For me, 4 times a week is the magic number I need to keep my sanity; any less and I can feel my fitness levels sliding. Now this number is different for everyone and what works for me may not work for you – some people need more and some people need less. But if I can squeeze in 4-6 workouts a week (and at this point in my life, there’s no reason I can’t), then I’m golden.
3. Eat clean and eat like a PRO: I became a dietitian because I believe that what we use to fuel our body can help us live and feel better, so eating clean is definitely up at the top of my priority list. So what does “eating clean” mean? Well for me, it involves whole grains, healthy sources of fat, and eating like a PRO, which is a phrase I’m borrowing from The Fitnessista (check out her blog at www.fitnessista.com if you’re living under a rock and haven’t already). To eat like a PRO, make each meal and/or snack contain a healthy source of PROtein (i.e. lean cuts of meat, fish, poultry, tofu, tempeh, soy, etc.), a type of PROduce, and (this I’m adding to her definition) make it as unPROcessed as possible. Of course, there will be times where this isn’t possible, but I can assure you that the more you eat like a PRO, the better you’ll feel.
4. Drink your water already: Why oh why it is so hard for me to stay hydrated lately? When I had a desk job, I always had a water bottle by my side and sipped on it throughout the day, which added up to several cups of good old H2O by the time I left for home. Now that I’m home, it’s harder to drink up which baffles me because I figured it would be easier than ever to have access to fluids. Whatever the case, I need more water and I need it now. Being dehydrated causes a decrease in your metabolism and increased fatigue, can lead to overeating, and is even bad for your skin. I’ve started to go on the offensive by making pitchers of my favorite cucumber water and stocking sparkling water for when I need a little carbonation.
5. Listen to your mom and take your vitamins: I know there’s considerable debate as to whether a multivitamin is really that beneficial, but it makes me THINK I feel better (whether its psychosomatic or physiological I don’t know and I don’t care).
So what are your tips and tricks for getting out of vacation mode and getting on the healthy living bandwagon? Any advice for me? If so, I’d love to hear it.
Here’s to a healthier week,