There’s nothing wrong with routine.

I’m definitely one of those people that thrive off of having a schedule. What can I say-I like to know what’s going to happen :).

When it comes to squeezing in workouts and eating something nutritious, there’s nothing wrong with having a little routine.

For instance, almost every morning I eat the same breakfast. Whaaaat? Don’t you get bored? Hold on, hear me out.

My first meal of the day is usually a bowl of oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon (sometimes with dried fruit or fresh blueberries sprinkled in), a hard boiled egg with salt and pepper, and a big ol’ cup of coffee. This meal is chock-full of water-soluble fiber, protein, and key vitamins and minerals, including hard-to-get ones, like choline and vitamin D, from the egg yolk. Oh, and caffeine, very important.

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See, my brain doesn’t work before I have my cup of coffee, I am truly a zombie. By having a set breakfast routine, I don’t even have to think about what I’m going to make myself and can put my mind on autopilot while I prep breakfast. Most importantly, breakfast sets the tone of the day and, with this breakfast, my body feels properly fueled to tackle what’s ahead.

Generally, I mix up the rest of my eats depending on what I’m craving, what foods I have on hand, and what new fun foods I want to try. But, having a relatively routine breakfast ensures I am getting good nutrition and don’t have to plan ahead for what I’m eating in the morning.

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Do you have a routine? How about a breakfast routine? 😉

Are you more of a schedule person or spontaneous person?

Monday Reset.

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday weekend and got to eat delicious food and spend time with your loved ones <3.

 

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Now that the holidays are winding down, some of us, myself included, are feeling the aftermath of the festivities. Tired, happy, and maybe a little bloated…sound familiar? Luckily it’s all temporary :). Here are my go-to tricks for a little reset and some good ol’ TLC for the body:

Step 1: Don’t stress. Whether your pants feel a little tighter after the holiday dinner or after a weekend of a bit too many indulgences, this feeling will pass. A day, or two, of indulging will not cause your body to drastically change shape. The key is to not waste energy getting worked up about your eating “slip-ups.” Instead, acknowledge how your body feels and put the energy towards treating your body well.

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Step 2: Stock up. Grocery shopping for nutritious foods and stocking up your home with all these goodies is truly magical. Surrounding yourself with foods that power your body sets yourself up for nutrition success, since you’re more likely to eat and graze on foods that are easily accessible.

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Step 3: Make it easy on yourself. On the note of making foods easily accessible, chop and prep food when you get home from the store. By getting all the prep work out of the way, you’ll end up with a fridge full of wholesome goodies to easily eat when the hunger hits. My favorite meal to make is roasted veggies and salmon.* It’s packed with healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This meal always makes my body feel ready to take on the week. Plus, salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost brain health.

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Do it–>

Crispy Roasted Veggies:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking pan with tin foil.
  3. Chop veggies and pile on top of foil.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper, and spices (garlic powder, basil, oregano)
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and broil on high the last 2 minutes.

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Oven-Baked Salmon:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking pan with tin foil.
  3. Place salmon on top of foil.
  4. Drizzle salmon with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with spices (red pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano).
  5. Bake for 18 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

fullsizerender-21*Serve veggies and salmon with a whole-grain, like whole-grain couscous, brown rice, or quinoa, or on a bed of greens. You can also definitely do both :).

Step 4: Walk it out. Have yourself a dance party, go for a walk/jog/run, hit up the gym, or take a fitness class. Getting some exercise in expends extra energy and produces endorphins, making you feel good. Bonus points for getting a good workout in with a buddy for the extra benefits of socializing.

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How do you “reset?”

Fast Tip Friday #1: Getting the Most Out of Your Sandwich

Happy Friday! This Friday is extra special, since it’s the beginning of the holiday weekend. I hope you all get some good relaxing in and eat delicious food this weekend! Bring on the holiday food.

Living a healthy lifestyle is all about simple tips and tricks. Small changes truly add up to great results. This Friday, we’re talking about getting the most out of your sandwich.

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Sandwiches are fantastic. They’re not only delicious, but can be jam-packed with nutrient power. Plus, they’re easy to make and don’t cost a whole lot of money. The trick is to build your best sandwich.

Step 1: Choose your base. Build your sandwich on 100% whole-wheat bread for a nutrition boost. Whole-wheat bread comes with B vitamins, which give your body energy, and water-insoluble fiber, which helps keep things moving, if you catch my drift ;). Plus water-insoluble fiber helps lower your risk of colon cancer, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis.

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Step 2: Make a choice. Decide whether you are feeling meat/fish or cheese. Choosing one over the other will slash calories and saturated fat. Plus, in my experience I’ve found I couldn’t really taste much of a difference in sandwiches with both meat/fish and cheese versus sandwiches with only one filling. If you go with meat/fish, choose turkey, chicken, salmon, tuna, or a white fish for lean protein. But, if you’re really feeling roast beef or steak, go for it! Just stick to a proper portion (about the size of a deck of cards).

Step 3: Slather wisely. Unless you are a die-hard mayonnaise person, go without. Choose mustard, honey mustard, pesto, avocado, or oil/vinegar instead. Mayonnaise is essentially all fat with no extra nutrients = empty calories. If you really have to have it, stick to the ones made of an avocado base and measure out only a spoonful. Usually I eye-ball portions, but when it comes to mayonnaise you gotta be careful.

Step 4: Bring on the veggies. Sandwiches are a perfect vehicle to carry all sorts of veggies. Pile on lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, peppers, olives, cucumbers, and more for a tasty way to eat your veggies.

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Nugget sandwiches are “out of this WORLD” amazing!

Step 5: Go to town! Enjoy that delicious sandwich, especially since it’s packed with nutrients to fuel your body. If you start getting full, save the other half for later.

With these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy that sandwich you’re craving, without feeling deprived. The best of both worlds :).

Have a great weekend and spend time with your loved ones!

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What is your favorite sandwich combination?

What are your holiday plans this weekend?

Holiday Eating 101

img_2567The holiday season is filled with treats galore and heaping plates of holiday goodness. Generally, people seem to feel two ways about the aftermath of holiday eating: 1. you can leave overstuffed and bloated, full of regret, or 2. you pass up your favorite holiday treats, so while your jeans still fit nicely, your heart is sad and you’re fixated on not eating that truffle while you had the chance.

Well, I got good news for you, the holidays don’t have to end this way. You can have your gingerbread man/woman/child (#politicallycorrect), and eat it too.

Do this to enjoy those special holiday treats and not have to buy new jeans:

1. Holiday eating is a marathon, not a sprint. When faced with the holiday buffet, take a lap to first gather intel on the available food. Did Aunt Patty make her famous sweet potato pie this year? What are the protein options? What kind of veggies are up for grabs? How many desserts are we talking about? Once you scan the foods, we can start talking strategy.

Put the veggies on your plate first. Like the MyPlate guidelines, make those veggies about half of your plate. Veggies are filled with nutrients and fiber, so choosing mainly veggies will ensure you’re still giving your body proper fuel, while the fiber helps take up stomach space to prevent overeating.

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Next, aim for 1 animal protein source (pick between the chicken, ham, steak, etc.) and serve yourself a portion about the size of a deck of cards. Choosing only 1 animal protein and sticking to a serving size will help lower the chance of eating too much saturated fat at the holiday feast.

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Give yourself 30 minutes before helping yourself to seconds. Holiday time is filled with lots of conversations, which can distract you from realizing when you’re full. Let yourself enjoy talking to the people around you before filling up on more food. Chances are, you’ll end up forgoing seconds, so you’ll be able to enjoy dessert more.

Before you know it, it’s time for the grand finale: the dessert bar. Similar to dinner, take an inventory of what’s available. If you’re more of a sampler, take a sliver of the different desserts to get a taste of each without going overboard. If you want a more substantial bite, pick one of your absolute favorites and serve yourself a portion. Or, if you want two desserts, serve yourself a half portion of each.

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2. Eat in slow-mo. Savor each bite of your food and take the time to notice the flavors in each dish. Eating slowly makes the dining experience more memorable, plus you begin to pick out seasonings and textures you may have missed if you had just shoveled food in your mouth. Slowing down your eating gives your body more time to send fullness cues to let you know when it’s time to stop eating. Best of all, you’ll have more time between bites to partake in conversation.

3. Drink responsibly. Holidays can certainly be boozy and alcohol is a sneaky one. Drinking can cause you to easily overeat, since your inhibitions are lowered and alcohol messes with your hunger cues. Plus, alcohol calories don’t come for free. Stick to 1 drink if you’re a lady and 2 drinks if you’re a fella. When it’s time for the main course, drink water between bites to let the food take center stage and to prevent over-drinking during mealtime. Also, taking a break to drink water helps prevent dehydration and can increase feelings of fullness.

4. Get moving. Propose a walk before the meal (or after) to get your body moving. Walking is an easy way to sneak in some activity without having to change into gym clothes and take a shower after. Taking a nature break gives you time to re-charge and prompts some of the best talks with those around you. Even more reason to get outside :).

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5. Enjoy! Laugh, chat, bond, and chill with those around you. The holidays come only once a year, and for many this is the one time to hang out with certain people. Let the focus be on those around you and not solely on your plate. Over-indulging on occasion is perfectly okay. One meal will not cause you to gain 10 pounds. Listen to your body and resume normal eating after the feast with some activity you love and you’ll be just fine :).

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Eat Responsibly!

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What is your favorite holiday food?

What are your holiday eating tips and tricks?

What does “moderation” look like?

When it comes to nutrition advice, by now you’ve probably heard the snazzy saying “eat a variety in moderation.” Or, my personal favorite version (curtesy of my high school teacher), “everything (legal) in moderation.”

But what does “moderation” mean?

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Okay, eating an entire plate of cookies in one sitting is probably not moderation…but one cookie is fine by me!

Giving nutrition advice is a double-edged sword. One, we want the advice to come off short and catchy in hopes that people will remember and abide by it. Unfortunately, simplifying can lead to misinterpretation.

In reality, the message would be something like, “eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains, and then choose lean protein, like chicken breast, eggs, beans, nuts, legumes, etc., and don’t forget you can also have some dairy products, like low-fat yogurt, milk, cheese, but life would suck without cake, so every once in awhile eat that piece of cake, just don’t eat cake every single day.”

Who would ever want to read that? That looks like a whole bunch of words.

So let’s break down what “moderation” means. Moderation looks different depending on who you are, making it tricky to define. The dictionary definition is something like “the avoidance of excess or extremes.”

When it comes to food, my definition of moderation is based off of a few key bullet points:

  • Eat what feels good: Veggies, fruits, whole-grains (brown rice, whole-wheat couscous/pasta), lean protein (eggs, salmon, chicken breast, beans) and yogurt power my body through the day and I feel nourished after eating these types of foods. These foods form the basis of what I eat. Depending on your personal preferences, choose a few foods you like to eat from these food groups and create meals around them. When a treat pops up that I really want, I’ll eat it and stick to a serving size.
  • Nothing is off-limits: Knowing that I can eat anything I want means there are no “special/untouchable” foods. When you hold a food on a pedestal and deprive yourself of eating it, chances are you will eventually succumb to your craving and overindulge on that food. Or, you may stick to your rules and not eat the sacred food and instead overeat other foods in place of what you truly want.

EX: Full-fat ice cream is off-limits. So, I purchase some reduced-fat version of ice cream/sorbet/diet food version instead and eat the entire container because it’s “better” for you than the full-fat version and I’m proud of myself for not buying the off-limits ice cream. But, then I just ate the entire container. Meanwhile, if I brought the full-fat version and served myself a serving size in a bowl (no eating out of the container), I would have satisfied my craving and not binged on something less satisfying.

  • Seconds are okay: When serving meals, portion out what a single serving looks like because if you’re still hungry you can go back for seconds. This will help preserve the basis of moderation, which means not too little and not too much of something.

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Moderation can be an intangible concept, but once you create your own version of what moderation looks like to you, it can be an enjoyable way of eating. Keeping the basis of what you eat grounded in nutritious foods, of course.

Eat Responsibly!

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What does “moderation” look like to you?

What are your key bullet points for “moderation?”

 

Mental Roadblocks

Today I took a fitness class that combined strength-building exercises with cardio-based intervals. In the past, I’ve usually stuck to the 5lb weights for any free-weight exercises, but something compelled me to select a set of 5lb dumbbells and a set of the 8lb ones. A mere 3lb difference, but to me that had been enough to prevent me from even trying before.

I told myself to start with the 8lb weights and if it was too difficult I could drop down to the 5lb ones. I gave myself a way out. 

As the music started, I picked up the 8lb weights for the first exercise circuit and began the motions. Turns out I could physically do it. The more movements I did, the stronger I felt. I began to tell myself I could actually do it and hushed that voice in my head that had told me previously that I wasn’t strong enough.

I ended up using the 8lb weights throughout the entire class. I couldn’t believe it. My mind had convinced me I would drop down to the 5lb weights within the first circuit, but once I began to trust myself I didn’t need that safety net.

Mental roadblocks will always appear, whether they’re noticeable or not. Overcoming them is a whole lot easier said than done. Today that roadblock was an extra 3lbs, that somehow seemed impossible.

One way of getting through a mental roadblock is no longer telling yourself you “can’t” and instead pull a Nike and “just do it” and allow your thoughts to catch up with you later. By the time the voice in your head starts talking again, you’ve already been doing what you previously told yourself you couldn’t do, so that voice has no choice but to encourage you to keep at it.

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Navigating the giant corn maze was a true test of defeating mental roadblock

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How do you face mental roadblocks?

Impostor Syndrome

There have been times where I looked around and couldn’t believe how I got here. Somebody pinch me….amiright?

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Impostor syndrome is most certainly a “thing.” Everyone in our graduate group is fantastic and brilliant, sometimes it’s hard to not compare.

Our new cohort of students just started their first year. During orientation, we had a panel of us “seasoned” students share our experiences and answer questions for the first-years. It didn’t take us long to get on the topic of impostor syndrome. I was surprised to learn that these people I admire felt like an impostor at times too. Although it felt oddly comforting to not be alone in this feeling, we shouldn’t be wasting energy feeling this way.

Someone out there saw something in us and we deserve to be here. We’re not perfect, and will never be. Perfection is a fantasy. But, we’re here to learn and strive to do the best we can. We will never know everything, but we will know enough to make informed decisions and use our knowledge to design studies to answer our questions.

During our Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology Research Symposium a few weeks ago, I placed first in the poster competition. I couldn’t believe it.

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Sometimes the feeling of being “not good enough” creeps in. It’s time to let that feeling go. I’m learning and will always be learning. Learning new material, learning from my mistakes, learning from others, learning from myself.

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Have you ever felt like an impostor? How did you overcome impostor syndrome?