MACROS: Are They Worth Counting?

For more than 10 years I have created individual meal plans for people with different fitness and body goals.  As a nutritionist I believe eating healthy whole foods in the right amounts allow you to have enough energy to perform daily tasks and reach your fitness goals.  Meal plans are great because it takes all the guess work out and allows for eating the right foods.  While some people prefer to be told what to eat and do not mind eating the same things every day it’s not for everyone.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is variety and flexibility helps people stick to their meal plan and not give up when they can see they have not completely fallen off the grid.  Even more empowering is learning how to create your own meal plans with the right tools and turning it into a lifestyle you can enjoy.

Let me ask you a question. How many times have you found yourself on a “diet” that was hard to stick to and you fell off only to feel defeated and go off eating whatever you wanted the rest of the day? Or since you “already fell off,” you made a deal with yourself to start fresh on Monday?  Believe me, I have been there. If you were eating for your macros you would track your unhealthy meal, look at your total macros and adjust the remainder of your food. Once you learn which foods you can exchange and eat you will be able to plan events, parties, and prepare your meals in advance. Before I continue let me explain what macros are for those that have recently joined the healthy eating world.  Macros or macronutrients are the foods we eat, protein, carbohydrates, and fat.They each play multiple roles in our nourishment and when eaten in the right amounts can help you reach your health and fitness goals.  The focus is to eat the amount of grams for each macro and not stress over the calories because your total macros end up meeting your total calorie goal. Understanding serving sizes of foods is a necessity.It can be overwhelming at first but with patience and consistency it becomes easier.If you’ve ever looked at a nutrition label it gives you a breakdown of each macro nutrient in one serving of the food item.

I started counting my macros a few years after I started competing in bodybuilding.  Realizing I was not eating enough I took the scientific approach and calculated the amount of calories I needed to eat to gain muscle in my off season. The number took me by surprise and thought it was too much food but I knew I had to give it a chance to reach my goals. At first I was frustrated trying to figure out what muscle growing foods would total  250 grams of carbs in a day. Then I had to figure out the amounts and look up nutrient facts to be accurate. I felt like I was in a new math class! I finally looked into using a food logging app that had a database with most of the nutrition facts for the foods I was eating and as I logged each meal it totaled the grams for each macronutrient. This made tracking my macros easier and it saved my favorite foods, meals, and recipes. I tried multiple apps and found Lose It to be my favorite with My Fitness Pal running a close second.  Let’s be honest, it was a lot of work but at the end of the day this method has kept me in check during my off season. You don’t have to be a fitness competitor to count your macros, you just have to be ready to learn how to mange your nutrition. In my experience as a nutritionist my clients that track and log their food see better results than when they do not.

So, by now you are asking “How does this work?” or “How do I figure out what my macros are?” The first thing you need to establish are your fitness goals. Are you trying to lose weight? Lean out? Gain muscle? Once you know this we can can calculate your needs. First, calculate your BMR basal metabolic rate. The formula used by most apps and nutritionists is the Harris-Benedict equation.

Men BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5
Women BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

Then you need to establish your total daily energy expenditure by multiplying your BMR by activity level.

Little to no exercise Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.9

This calculation tells you how many calories you need in a day to maintain your current weight. If you are trying to lose fat, gain muscle, or increase performance an additional calculation can tell you total calories required and finally calculate your daily macros (yes, more math required).

Calculating macros is a task in itself and it’s no wonder a lot of people get frustrated and give up before they even start. When it comes to counting and tracking your macros it’s necessary to have a solid understanding of what they are and serving sizes of the different foods to reach daily goals.  For nearly ten years I have used this technique and have been successful when it comes to my clients and my own fitness goals. It keeps us accountable and on track. Counting macros is not for everyone but with the right resources and guidance it can help you reach your goals.

If you are looking for more information on counting your macros or a customized meal plan you can contact me directly feistyfitness@gmail.com

Advertisements

The Concept of Healthy Eating

Eating healthy can mean different things to people. If you change or stop one bad habit and replace it with a good habit of eating it is safe to say you started eating healthier. If you have a complete eating make over and change all of your habits into healthy habits it still has the same meaning of eating healthier. The concept of eating healthy is the idea of making healthier choices of your daily foods to improve your health. Eating healthy means removing processed, refined sugars, fast and unhealthy junk food found throughout the grocery aisles and on every other block in different fast food restaurant chains. To eat healthy you should choose foods with less ingredients. These tend to be healthier foods that are whole fruits and vegetables, lean animal proteins, seafood, and vegetarian proteins like tempeh and tofu.

Overall, eating healthy takes practice, preparation, and most importantly a good discipline practice. Many people have tried and failed at eating clean and it's because they are caving into their food cravings. Food cravings come after your blood sugar drops and you feel hungry. This feeling is normal when it's time to eat because your body is communicating with you. Since the body uses carbohydrates as its main energy source it needs to be replenished every 2-3 hours to allow body to burn efficient energy all day. If they body does not get the right foods with the right amounts you are constantly going through a viscous cycle of spiking and dropping your blood sugar, feeding into cravings that lead to over eating the wrong foods. When designing your nutrition goals it’s important to be realistic. Don’t try removing all bad foods with clean/healthy foods at once…you are setting yourself up for failure. Start small and just remove a couple of things each week. Keep a journal of what you are eating and log your food. You will be amazed at what you put in your body once you see it on paper or logged on your app of choice. I like the Lose It app. It's free and you can join your community of friends to see how they are doing with their nutrition goals. It helps calculate the number of calories you can eat to meet your weight loss/gain goal and there is even a premium account if you want to get detailed with your macros and goals.

Remember, daily practices of eating healthy take time to become long term practice. As you develop these changes you will feel and see a difference that motivates you to stick to your changes. As we all know change is hard but the final outcome is well worth the new changes.

Low Density Calories Rule for Weight Loss 




Calorie Density: Low density vs high density
If you are looking to drop weight and paying attention to what you are eating then calorie density will be important to reaching your goals. When eating healthier foods that are more beneficial and aid in keeping you full longer we look to eating high volume with lower calories which are low density foods.  To give you a better idea density describes the number of calories in a particular food in relation to its volume or amount. Let’s take a food that has 100 calories in 1 ounce and another food that has 200 calories in 1 ounce. This tells us the second food has a higher calorie density.
In other words you want to choose the food that has lower calories in volume. 

The following foods are examples of low calorie dense foods with high volume:

  • Lean proteins like meat, fish, tofu, and chicken breast provide satiety and aid in muscle building
  • Vegetables provide large amounts of food and low calorie packed with fiber, nutrients and provide satiety.
  • Berries are great low density foods with fiber and antioxidants.
  • Fish are high in protein and low in calories. 
  • Greens/salad mixes can provide high volume and low calorie.Building salads without the extra fat can be a great snack or meal after adding a lean protein like fish or chicken.

High density low volume foods usually are the ones we love to eat and can contribute to weight gain like fast food, processed foods, and baked goods. These are the ones we need to start removing from our daily eating habits and replacing with healthier choices. Let me remind you there are healthy foods that are high density and low volume to consider like almond butter. One tablespoon is 90 calories and we all know we love to eat well more than a tablespoon. Some are guilty of eating nearly half a cup if we aren’t mindful and that adds up to 720 calories of mindless eating. 

The following foods are examples of high density  calorie foods:

  • Baked goods like cupcakes, bagels, muffins, bread, Cornbread
  • Junk food like chips, fried foods, fast food
  • Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts are high density and should be portioned to 1 ounce servings
  • Sugar induced beverages like soda, fruit punch, artificially flavored juices, alcoholic beverages

Energy In VS Energy Out

It’s one thing to choose the right foods that are low density, we also need to have an understanding of food energy balance when it comes to weight loss. To lose weight energy in (total calories consumed in a day) has to be less then energy out (total calories burned for the day). If your body burns 2000 calories a day then you have to eat less than 2000 calories to lose weight. The same goes for weight gain. For the same 2000 calories you burn a day you have to eat more than your burn a day to gain. For maintenance, to keep your weight the same, you eat 2000 calories a day. Sounds simple, right? Well, this is where quality comes in because the kinds of food you eat are going to reflect how you feel and look. For now let’s focus on low and high density foods.

Calorie density not only plays a large part in the amount of calories it contains but the impact it will have on the other components of a weight loss diet like hunger, satiety, and hormonal effects. These contribute to the success of a plan and if there is an overconsumption of high density foods then it can impede on your goals of losing weight. 
Once we learn which foods are the right ones to keep us satisfied and on track with our goals we can better plan our meals and see consistent results.

Burning fat for fuel with ketones

The ketogenic diet has been around longer than you think. In fact, our ancestors that roamed the world lived in a ketogenic state in efforts to sustain hunger and use fats for fuel.  With the ketogenic diet the goal is to eat high amounts of healthy fats, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates.  At the end of day for keto to work properly your fats should be 75% of total calories, while protein are a moderate 20% and carbs 5%.  If you want this plan to work properly you must monitor your calories so you don’t knock yourself out of ketosis.  With the keto plan MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) are the preferred fat source and can be found in coconut oil.  These have been found to produce more ketone bodies than long chain triglycerides.  Burning this kind of fat is a cleaner source for the body than using glucose/sugar.  You don’t require insulin to break down your energy and you don’t get the highs and lows of your blood sugar.  The downfall of this plan is if you eat too many carbs you knock yourself out of ketosis and you have to work to deplete your body of carbs before you switch to fat burning mode and that requires low energy days. As more and more diet fads come and go the ketogenic diet has made a strong comeback and is used by many doctors when insulin use has become compromised. No, I am not making medical claims, but when I personally put myself through a process or use a supplement I like to tell people the benefits I encountered and share the love.

Studies have found that a low carb high fat Ketogenic diet works better than a low-calorie restricted low-fat diet. This diet sounds great considering it recommends fats like butter, eggs, and bacon but can be hard when trying to deplete your body of glucose.  This requires a lengthy 1-3 weeks of carb depleting until the body creates ketones to burn fat. Thankfully there are now therapeutic ketones you can take in powder form to get your body in a ketogenic state in less than hour!  Yes, you read that correctly, less than an hour.  How do I know for sure?? I use a blood testing kit to read the mmols of ketones in my blood.  That means I had proof of ketone bodies in my blood an hour after consuming keto-os.  It’s like drinking a pre workout that actually flips on your fat burning switch and knowing it actually works! I have been using keto-os in my daily routine for the last year and a half and never looked back.  Not only is it helping me burn fat, it has reduced inflammation in my body and nagging ailments like my sciatica in my lower back, tendonitis in my shoulder, and I definitely have better mental focus.

So, how does this help with nutrition?  It’s simple, while the ketones are in your system you burn fat.  I also notice it curbs my appetite and removes my cravings.  I don’t get the roller coaster sugar highs and lows so it makes sticking to a healthy plan easier.  One question I get asked the most is “Do I have to do the ketogenic diet for it to work?” The answer is no, but it definitely helps get you into ketosis a lot easier.  Whenever I had a party to attend where I knew there would be a large spread of food I would drink my keto-os and knowing they were in my body burning fat releived me but also reduced my cravings so I wasn’t eating everything in front of me.  Ketones, are a powerful fuel source and it’s one supplement I can count on.  Besides, who doesn’t want to burn a little fat and get better focus and mental clarity?? I know I do.

Great Start to 2017 Season

Last weekend I was blessed to compete at the IFBB Florida Grand Prix in West Palm Beach.  This was my second out of Texas pro show and am proud to announce I received 1st place in the Pro Masters (competitors 35 years and older) and 3rd place in the Pro Open (competitors of any age).

I arrived at West Palm Beach Saturday morning since the Pros were scheduled to compete on Sunday.  We normally compete on Saturday but I later found out there were a few girls that competed in the Pittsburgh Pro Saturday.  It made for a later start time but we were able to do finals just a few hours later.hair, makeup, and suit color.  I

This competition I made a few changes to my overall look.  Part of the judging includes hair, makeup, and suit color.  I knew I needed to bring a fresh look as I am always recognized for the big afro style curls.  A close friend and former competitor helped me find longer curls to add to my own for a more dramatic look to my hair. I also changed my hair color to my more natural dark brown as opposed to the red locks I usually rock on stage.  I was a bit nervous because the curls were looser than my tighter curls but my stylist Brittany curled all of my hair for a perfect match and they all blended together.

IMG_1656

She also did my makeup with a smoky eye finish and on stage, the complexion looked flawless with my tan body.  Usually, it’s a lot brighter than the spray tan but she applied the perfect finish.

As for my competition suit, I decided to go for the purple ombre.  Maria Thaikos, owner of Goddess Glam Competition Suits handcrafted my suit and it fit perfectly.  The color and Swarovski stones gave an intense effect to my overall presence on stage.

fullsizeoutput_2916

Once my hair, makeup, suit, and jewelry were all in place I felt ready to dominate the stage.  This was the best I have ever looked and pleased with my posing and conditioning.

Prejudging started around 4:30 pm at Keiser University and lasted close to an hour and a half.  After individual poses, we have to stand in a diagonal line and hold our front or model pose until all ladies have done their posing and then wait for call outs.  Needless to say, it made for a long competition due to being in two classes.  In the Masters class I felt confident and when called for first call outs I made sure to shine brighter than the rest in the comparison round. Taking my time and keeping my composure in each movement was vital.  My confidence was high and I felt in tune with everything around me.  Once the Open class started I felt practiced and felt my individual posing was better the second time around.  With 22 beauties making first callouts in this class made my energy soar.  During the comparison round, I felt confident that my placing was top 3 and the finals proved my instincts to be right.  As for the Masters, receiving 1st place was surreal.  My heart soared knowing my hard work paid off.  The bikini class is very subjective and at times you cannot be sure if the judges are looking for a leaner or softer look.  I tend to get very lean and I definitely fit that look at this show.

Each show brings a new outcome and set the tone for the next show.  What’s next?? The Olympia of course.

Juliana Halloran IFBB Pro 2017
Bikini posing for IFBB Bikini. The right package and flawless posing make for a great outcome: 1st place Masters and 3rd place Open Class.

 

 

 

 

Focus

Growing up when my mom wanted something done I had to remove all distractions to complete the task or suffer the consequences. The daily tasks she required taught me to focus. Especially in a time crunch.  Don’t get me wrong, I tend to procrastinate on the things I’m not so fond of but when it’s something I love to do or trying to accomplish something important I laser in on what needs to be done.

Every day my schedule requires me to set aside two separate times to train for competition. As I awake I do fasted cardio for 45 minutes. This means getting everything I need for the day and heading to the gym. Since my work day starts as early as 6am my alarm starts screaming at 4:15am. After cardio a shower is desperately needed and my first meal is eaten before training my first client. Later in the day I schedule an hour for strength and weight training. This happens five days out of the week and then I’m back to training clients until 7pm, sometimes as late as 8:30pm.

One can say the days get long but luckily I love what I do and it never feels like ‘work’. Once I’m home I tend to my furry babies then prepare dinner and attempt to enjoy some of the evening with my hubby.  But before I get too comfortable I have to start preparing for the next day. Managing my time is important when I compete. Scheduling times to eat along with clients and my own training can get overwhelming and exhausting.  Staying on track with taking all my supplements throughout the day and drinking at least a gallon of water is a full-time job.  To get my body stage ready I can’t miss a beat.  There’s no wiggle room and forget taking the day off from ‘my comp plan’ because if that box is cracked even a little we might as well bring in the doughnuts because a little taste is never enough.  That is why getting ready for a show requires focus.  If I get distracted then there is a possibility that my plan can start to unravel.  Fortunately for me I am zoned in like a sniper waiting for its next kill.

 

Typical Tuesday…

4:15am Alarm…snooze button

4:24am Alarm… Rise and shine!

4:24-4:45am morning ritual then off to the gym

5:00am-5:45am cardio

5:45am-6:15am shower, get ready for work, scarf down meal 1

6:30am-1:30pm train clients, eat meals 2 and 3, take required supplements, drink at least half-gallon water.

2:00pm-3:30pm workout, eat meal 4

4:00pm-8:30pm train clients, eat meal 5 (dinner)

8:45pm-10:30pm family time and prepare for next day

10:30pm wind down and prepare for bed.  i usually am asleep between 11pm and midnight

 

 

Hit the Restart Button

As we put Christmas behind us with the relief of having some form of control over our lives we still have the last week of the year where most of us like to use  “I’ll start after New Year’s” phrase.  We all know after too many holiday parties followed by Christmas lunch, brunch, dessert, and leftovers the next day we need to tighten the reins and clean up our eating.  The only problem is many of us aren’t ready to give up the foods that have been comforting us the past few weeks and if everyone else gets to start on New Year’s then I guess I’ll jump off a bridge too.  Wait, what?? Look, you’ve already made additional holes in your belt buckle and started wearing elastic banded pants. Why wait till the first when you can get ahead of the rest by starting now?

I know it’s easier said than done, especially coming from someone who eats clean year round but I was in your shoes before and there is nothing worse than trying to restart something you fell off the wagon for and hitting the restart button.  Making changes to becoming healthier and getting in better shape all take planning and preparing and I don’t expect to teach it all to you in one blog.  For now let’s start with the basics and use these simple daily habits to get you going in the right direction.

  1. Eat breakfast everyday.
  2. Eat small meals throughout the day.
  3. Eat a lean protein and complex carbohydrate with every meal.
  4. Eat whole foods instead of processed food.
  5. Drink half your body weight in ounces every day.
  6. Prepare your meals ahead of time.

With the new year less than a week away you have to start planning for a better version of yourself and with the right nutrition and exercise plan you can look forward to a healthy New Year and fitter YOU!

I will be sharing my food diary for those that ask me what I eat most days.  I prepare all my meals.  When I leave the house in a hurry I go to Snap Kitchen where most of the meals are gluten free and portioned perfectly for me.  For future posts I will include all foods not prepared by me and show you how easy it is to eat healthy and delicious foods when on the go or eating out with friends.

Juliana’s Food diary:

Breakfast: 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites, 2 ounces chicken breast all scrambled together with 2 TB salsa, 1 whole grapefruit

Morning snack: medium apple, 4 ounces lean fround turkey

Lunch: 5 oz grilled chicken brest (baked), 5 ounces baked sweet potatos, 1 cup steamed green beans

Afternoon snack: protein shake blended with 1 banana and 2TB almond butter, water, ice, 1 ounce trail mix

Dinner: 5 ounces fround turkey, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup black beans, salsa, 1 cup broccoli

Stay Feisty!

Nobody Cheers for Monday

Poor Monday! No body ever cheered for Monday the way they do Fridays but at least you can have a fresh start. After a long over indulgent weekend it’s safe to say Mondays are a good day to start from scratch. Today I cleaned up my eating, been hydrating with my water, had a cup of detox tea, and am already feeling better. I still have to get through dinner but I have a plan and am not tempted to get off of it.  We believe in fresh starts and when we decide to focus on a goal the sky is the limit, until a coworker or family member starts waving temptation in your face.  This is where will power steps up and keeps you honest with your goals.  You can’t let every chance to back down defeat you.  Every time you say ‘no thank you’ and pass on the sweets or after work drinks your will power gets a little stronger.  Think of it like a muscle.  The more you flex it, the stronger it becomes.  So stay strong and stick to your main goals because life likes to challenge you.

Before I say good bye to Monday here are a few tips to sticking to your clean eating habits:

1. When making your grocery list keep processed foods off. Instead of cereal add gluten free whole oats. Add fresh fruits and veggies to keep around for snacks.  Start portioning your meals and making them more frequent.

2. Replace all sugary drinks with pure clean water. If you must have something different try brewing green tea and add a little honey and lemon. Or try juicing fruits and vegetables. I know it can get messy but it’s a great tasting way to try new things. Here is a juicing site  to get you started.

3. Read your nutrition labels. If it has more than 3 ingredients and you can’t pronounce them, it’s a sure sign it should not go in your body.

Overall, stick to the source and stay consistent with your meals.  When you plan ahead you are likely to stick to your program.  Healthy eating should be a way of life and don’t worry, everything in moderation not deprivation.

Eating Healthy While Dining Out

Houston can be a tough city to find healthy meal choices when eating out. Here in Texas we like our southern fried foods and fatty meats and most of us have never met a potato we didn’t like! With our daily schedules, cooking at home is just not an option for a large number of busy professionals, executives, parents, and students. But if you are working toward a fitness goal, or if you have simply put healthy eating at the top of your list of priorities, then you need to know where you can go and what you can order when you can’t make your meals at home. Knowledge is power in this situation, and I hope to arm you with some of my experience and expertise on the matter.

Planning ahead…at least a LITTLE BIT

Most days you probably run out of the office and hit the road for home (or the gym!) at breakneck speed. Chances are your tummy starts rumbling while you are still sitting in traffic and you find yourself turning in to pick something up for dinner. Or perhaps it is lunchtime and you need something fast. If you have made the conscious decision to eat healthy, fast food is not on the menu. In fact, quite a few standard American choices are ruled out. So what’s a hungry guy or gal to do? The first step to a fool proof healthy eating plan is to do just as the name suggests…and PLAN. Pack your lunch and a few healthy snack options to curb your hunger. But if eating out is a major part of your routine, then you at least need to know where to go and what to order. The easiest way to do this is to know the healthy restaurants in your area (list below) or find it on HealthyDiningFinder.com or a similar site. Then, browse the menus online ahead of time. Many restaurants provide nutrition information online and in stores these days.  When we have goals to accomplish it is important to stick to the plan and eat healthy even when we don’t prepare it ourselves.

Lunchtime

This one can be tricky when eating out with co workers but if you know where you are going then you can take a sneak peak at the menu on line and plan ahead.  Choose the item you will order while you are sitting at your desk. It is easier to think about and follow through with your healthy choices when you are not rushed by the people behind you or tempted by the table next to you. We live in a time when information is literally at our fingertips. Use your smartphone—most sites have mobile versions—and plan ahead. You can always call ahead as well and ask for special preparations. In fact, calling ahead and ordering your meal for pick up instead of eat in might just save you the temptation of ordering that dessert you saw. Don’t DRINK your calories. This should be a no brainer by now, remember a healthy diet does not include soda or alcohol for that matter.  Many people automatically order a soda or alcoholic beverage with every restaurant meal and the calories can stack up by the hundreds.   It just “goes together” in their mind and this is a thought cycle that will sabotage even the best of healthy eating plans. Choose water or unsweetened tea or coffee instead of regular soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. This will save a lot of calories. This is one more place where ordering your food to go can help you stick to your healthy choices when flying solo.  You are far less likely to order a drink “to go”—it can be a pain to transport it home, and you know you have plenty of drink options in the fridge anyhow. Or better yet, water!

Whole Grains Are Your Friend

Most restaurants have a whole grain option for their pastas and sandwich breads, and brown rice in place of white. If you MUST order one of these types of starchy items, go for the whole grain varieties. The added fiber will offset some of the carby content at least to some extent.  Let’s not forget our new gluten free friendly menus.  More restaurants and healthy on the go places are catching on to the wheat free trend of eating.

Sauces: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

If you’re in the mood for pasta, look for tomato-based sauces rather than cream-based sauces. Tomato-based sauces are lower in fat and calories. In addition, the tomato sauce (or marinara sauce) can count as a vegetable! Another option is to ask for your pasta to be tossed in a small amount of olive oil with steamed veggies and a dash of garlic and salt. Always order sauces and salad dressings on the side. This way, you have control over how much or how little you add.  When choosing a dressing, stay away from cream-based dressings like Ranch and Blue Cheese. These pack a huge punch when it comes to calories and instead choose a vinaigrette. One excellent trick is to ask for “oil and vinegar.” The waiter will bring you a little caddy of olive oil and some kind of vinegar, allowing you to control the amount of oil in the dressing you eat. Sour cream counts as a sauce too. Ask for salsa with a baked potato instead of sour cream, butter, cheese, or bacon. Salsa is very low in calories, tasty,  and a healthy alternative with a lot of spice. Another  tip  is  to ask for reduced-sodium soy sauce. Too much sodium will sabotage your healthy lifestyle in ways far too numerous to list here. Just go easy on the shaker and high sodium sauces like this one. Order sandwiches with mustard rather than mayonnaise or “special sauce.” Mustard adds flavor with virtually no calories. Other sandwich tips are to choose gluten free, whole grain bread, skip the cheese, and add vegetables as toppings. Also keep in mind that chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad are made with mayonnaise.  These are calories that can add up and not considered the good kind.

Starters

Bread and Chips

A steaming basket of bread or fresh hot tortilla chips is sure to send your hunger bells into attack mode and innocent snacking on these while you wait for your order can result in hundreds of unhealthy calories offsetting all your hard work at the gym. Request that the waiter NOT bring these items to your table. No need to make it harder on yourself than necessary. Yet another good reason to order it all to go!

Soup

There have been studies done that show consuming a small cup of low calorie soup before every meal lowers overall caloric intake and will therefore aid in weight loss. Just be sure you choose a broth-based soup over a cream based option. Keep in mind that cream-based soups are higher in fat and calories than broth-based soups. Soup can serve as a great appetizer to a meal, or as an entree. Most soups are low in calories and will fill you up.

Salad

Salads at many restaurants have been teased and tossed and dressed within an inch of their healthy core. A small pile of iceberg lettuce loaded with grated cheese, bacon or ham, croutons, and smothered in creamy dressing can have as many calories as a cheeseburger! So be sure to ask for the dry Garden salad and dressing on the side. If you think you can’t leave them behind on the plate, request that the croutons and other toppings be left in the kitchen.

Where’s The Beef? Or Meat?

For meat dishes, look for leaner cuts such as skinless chicken breasts, turkey burgers, pork loin and beef sirloin. Select options that are flavored with spices and fresh herbs, as those items are more likely to have lower fat and sodium content. When ordering grilled fish (or vegetables,) ask that the food either be grilled without butter or oil, or prepared “light,” with little oil or butter. Do I have to tell you that anything battered or fried is out of the question?

SIDES

Whenever possible order steamed or grilled vegetables rather than anything starchy. If your only choice is potatoes, choose baked or steamed rather than French fries, tots, chips or any kind of fried hash. Always ask for healthy choices, even if there are no healthy options listed. Restaurants often have veggies and fruit available for other dishes that they will be willing to prepare for you as a side dish.

FINAL TIPS

Keep in mind that eating out, if at all possible, should be something you do only occasionally. Almost everything you make at home is going to be a leaner, healthier option. The hamburger you grill up at home is better than the one you can get at most restaurants when it comes to fat, additives, and other questionable ingredients. Plus no one looks at you funny if you choose to only eat half so that you can afford a french fry or three. Also, asking the waiter to box up half of your meal in the kitchen is increasingly more popular. Or you can ask for a box to be brought at the beginning of the meal and box it up before you dig in. Out of sight, out of mind! Restaurant portions are typically twice what you should have in one sitting in terms of calories and fat. If you get in the habit of only eating half of what is served, you will not only be spreading your calories out properly and avoiding over-indulgence, you will be saving money too, since you have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch (or tonight’s dinner!)

HEALTHY EATS IN HOUSTON

The following restaurants are a few of my favorite places to eat healthy. Their menus are designed to have less fattening items and will tailor to your requests.

Snap Kitchen 3600 Kirby Dr. Houston, TX 77098 (713) 526-5700 http://www.snapkitchen.com

Zoe’s Kitchen 3701 S. Shepherd Drive Houston, TX 77098 (713) 522-7447 http://www.zoeskitchen.com

Ruggles Green 2311 W Alabama St Houston, TX 77098 (713) 533-0777 http://www.rugglesgreen.com

Field of Greens 2320 W Alabama St Houston, TX 77098 (713) 533-0029 http://www.fieldofgreenscuisine.com

Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine Highland Village 3821 Richmond Ave Houston, TX 77027 (713) 621-9488 http://www.ilovepeppertree.com

My Fit Foods 5410 Kirby Drive Houston, TX 77005 713-592-9707 http://www.Myfitfoods.com

 

Fitness Reality Check

With all of the hype fitness has generated we are seeing more people we know take the plunge into being more active and trying to live a healthier lifestyle. More are joining cross fit gyms while others are lifting more to create the physique of their dreams.  As we watch the anxious newbies build their Instagram popularity and share their recent workouts and meal plans how many of them are sticking to their goals?  During this journey how many of them are seeing their goals through?

 

The Struggle Is Real

If you are like me, you watch your Facebook feed fill up with the latest workout craze, cleanest meal prep, and the hottest pre workout to get you blitzed for the day.  Every day is someones leg day, chest day, squat challenge, burpee until you barf…you get the idea.  Committing to a plan is no walk in the park.  It takes planning, hard work, and dedication to truly commit to a fitness program if you want to gain real results.  ‘Can’t lose those last five pounds?’ ‘Gains not coming on fast enough?’  Truth is, it’s you.  You are the culprit that is keeping you from your goals.  Trust me, I’ve heard it all, seen it all, and even had it happen to me before.  There is no magic pill, just consistent behavior that leads to your goals.

Consistency Is Key

There’s that word again.  Consistency.  By definition means steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc. You must repeat your habits to see real results.  This is where the reality check comes in.  I see clients start a program and are good for maybe a few weeks but then Life Happens and they begin to miss meals, workouts, eat the wrong things, etc.  This knocks them off track and they stop seeing results.  Maybe they start back up a week or so later but then another inconvenience steps into their world.  But this time it was a harder hit than the last one and now we are starting from ground zero.  I am going to say something a lot of people will not like and that’s okay because I have been nice in the past and it doesn’t get you results.  Life is here every day, whether you work, go to school, work 50 plus hours a week ,travel, eat out daily with clients, always have food in your face, the kids won’t eat what I eat, I don’t have time (make effing time!!!), I am too tired, I travel, (insert crying sound effect here wah, wah, wah). Look, I know we all have whatever we have but the truth is, if you are not consistent then you won’t get real results.  So stop making excuses, eat according to your goals regardless of the people around you because you are the one that puts it in your body, not anyone else, and make sure you plan to get your workout in by packing your gym bag and saying no to the friend that wants to have drinks after work. Hell, tell them to join you on the stairclimber for your version of happy hour and see how that one flies.  All I am saying is stay consistent and the results will come.

 

Make Up Your Mind

You have to mentally prepare yourself to get into a fitness routine.  For most of us it enters our mind and we decide to research the latest trends.  Next we start noticing more people we know  getting results in the gym or from some app they are using to follow along.  Then we make our move to join a gym or start going for a run or even watch youtube videos to get into shape.  Regardless of how you start your mind must be made up to do it because when we are dragged into going to workout or if its suggested and you are only going to please someone else then you have already lost the battle.  Hence, the fitness reality check.  Wake up people!!!