Friday, October 25, 2013

Top 10 Healthy Tips for Eating Out

Going out to eat can be stressful for people who are trying to eat healthy and/or lose weight.  If you don't have even a glimmer of will power, all of your progress and good choices that you have made for the day will be outweighed.  I always schedule a cheat meal in to my weekly meal plan for either Friday or Saturday.  If you have planned ahead and are going out to eat knowing that you are going to be ordering your weekly cheat meal, then you should feel guilt free of what you decide to order.  If you going out more than once per week, or if you don't want to necessarily "cheat" when you eat out, then here are some tips that will help you stay on track. 

1. Plan Ahead!  There is a reason why this is tip Number 1.  Many of us get caught up in the pictures that are plastered all over food menus, or the delicious, juicy meal descriptions.  If you go to a restaurant hungry, worse yet, starving, then you will fall in to the trap of ordering some marvelous sounding deep fried meal, only to find that you feel bloated and sick once you get home.  If you know that you are going to be going out, see if the menu is online.  If it is, check out your options and give yourself some time to really look over the menu.  That way you won't feel rushed when you get to the restaurant.  Did you ever find that when restaurants list the number of calories in a meal that you tend to stay away from meals that have tons?  I wish all restaurants did that; however, many would probably lose business! If you set up a free account with  MyFitnessPal, you will have the opportunity to search many chain restaurants and check out the nutritional information on what you'd like to order.  For example, don't you just love Olive Gardens Chicken and Gnocchi Soup?  Would you love it as much knowing that there are 250 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1,189mg OF SODIUM, and 29 carbs in ONE BOWL! Combine that with getting the all you can eat soup and salad lunch special and you could potentially more than max out your daily nutritional intake!  By planning ahead, you know what you are getting and hopefully have an idea of the ingredients.

2.   Order First! It is so easy to be suede by your friends and family.  Picture it, the waitress is going around the table getting everyone else's orders.  You are listening to your friends and family order fried food, hearty portion meals, extra cheese, etc.  Then, it's your turn.  You have two choices, you could decide to buckle and order that delicious sounding special that is soaked in butter, or you can stick with your original, healthy choice.  Chances are, unless you have a strong will power, you will buckle. By ordering first, you are finalized and you are leading by example.  Who knows, maybe the others that are with you will be inspired to choose a healthier alternative. 

3. Stick with water, and better yet, water with lemon!  You certainly don't want to drink your calories away.  Sure, it's ok to indulge in a class of wine or a beer every now and then, some even have some health benefits.  It's not ok; however, to get that refill 2, 3,or 4 times throughout your meal.  As for those fruity drinks, or even soda, stay clear.  The calories and ingredients are not worth it.  You would be surprised at how many of my challengers have lost weight simply by cutting out, or limiting certain drinks! 

4. Stay clear of all you can eat specials and/or buffets.  I know we all want to get the most bang for our buck; however, if you  have the option to eat as much as you want without a price increase, you will most definitely overeat and end up feeling disgusting and guilty once you leave!  Enough said!

5. Try to stick with lean protein. Chicken and fish are considered to be lean proteins; however, you  have to be cautious of the way it is prepared.  Grilled chicken is great; however, when it is soaked in a garlic buttered high calorie sauce, it isn't exactly the healthiest choice you could be making. 

6. Going along with Number 5, ask for your food to be prepared the way you want! I know you don't want to be the pain in the butt customer requesting your food to be prepared different from what the menu says, but in the end, you are the one eating it.  If you want that grilled chicken but don't want the sauce smothered all over it, ask if the sauce can be placed on the side or better yet, no sauce at all!  The worst that can happen is the waitress says no, which will signal you to choose something else.  Similarly, if you choose anything that contains sauces (including gravy and salad dressing), ask for it on the side.  It is better to dip your fork and use the sauces sparingly, as they contain a lot of calories, fat, and sodium.  This really applies to fresh or steamed vegetables.  I always choose fresh vegetables as a side when going out and have learned to ask how they are prepared.  It is so disappointing when my plate is placed in front of me and the fresh vegetables are laying in butter.  A rule of thumb for me is to always ask that they  be cooked and served plain.  On the same note, including fresh vegetables and whole grains as part of your complete meal is a must!  Brown or wild rice are great options.  And just a reminder, stay clean of anything and everything that is fried!  There are zero health benefits of eating fried food!

7. Don't always assume that what you are eating is healthy! I know, from experience, that when I go out with friends and family, many of them, mainly women, end up with a grilled chicken salad (including myself).  Sounds good, right?  Grilled chicken is a perfect lean protein, and salad, of course salad is healthy!  WRONG!  Many restaurants are loaded with cheese, croutons, and French Fries.   Worse yet, they only have one small handful and limited veggies.  When ordering salads that sound like this, ask for extra veggies and no cheese, croutons, and French Fries. The worst they can say is no to the extra veggies.  You always have the option to get the French Fries on the side and give them to someone else at the table; however, if that is too tempting to you (as it is for me), keep them removed all together.  As for the dressing, keep it on the side.  Stay clear of creamy dressings and stick with vinaigrettes like raspberry and balsamic.  Since meal salads tend to be large, many restaurants add an extra side of dressing.  Needless to say, it's just another trap that will pack on the calories.        

8. Be cautious of the free appetizers! I know when you get to a restaurant, chances are you are pretty  hungry.  When that basket of bread or the chips and salsa come out, you dig in!  Next thing you know you begin to fill up and your meal hasn't even made its way to the table yet!  This goes without saying, try  to avoid those free appetizers or at least limit how much you eat!

9. Mind your portions.   It's not hard to figure out that portion sizes have dramatically increased throughout the years.  Many restaurants offer a "lunch" (small, petite, half) portion.  Always go with the small portion.  It's probably cheaper too! If your meal doesn't come in a smaller size you can always ask the waitress to box half of it up before bringing it to you, or, you could just ask for a box when your meal comes and do it yourself.  Then, you have some yummy leftovers for the next day! 

10. Skip the dessert!  I HATE when restaurants come out with a tray of desserts to show off!  They look so delicious and it is so tempting!  I don't think I have to remind you how many calories are in most of those desserts, right?  If you need something after a meal try to stick with a warm cup of Green Tea or some Black Coffee. 

If you think you will struggle and go down the wrong path when eating out, you can always have an accountability partner.  Accountability partners have really helped me stay on track!  Pick someone that will be with you and tell him/her that you are trying to watch what and how much you are eating.  Ask him/her to be that "voice of reason" if you start to get off track.  If someone is truly a friend, then he/she will respect what you are doing and help.  The last thing you want to have are friends and family encouraging you to go with the unhealthy choice just because they are. 
If you are interested in learning more tips and cleaning up the way you eat, contact me for details about my next 30 day Clean Eating support group, or 60 day Clean Eating and Fitness group.  I will provide you with the motivation, support, accountability, and information that you need to reach your health and/or fitness goals. 
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2 Ingredient Banana Bread Cookies

Lately, I've been into searching for some clean eating treats.  My main reason for doing this is because I'd like to be able to give my girls a treat that isn't loaded with sugar and other unknown ingredients.  I came across these Banana Bread Cookies.  They are all natural, They were labeled as breakfast cookies, but I think they can be enjoyed at any time of the day!  They only have two ingredients but there are several "add-in" options.  Be cautious of what, and how much you add in because the nutrition content will change.  As always, this is a "treat."  This isn't something to make and have on hand all of the time. 
* 2 bananas
* 2 cups rolled oats (you can use Gluten Free Oats if you want to make the cookie Gluten Free)
* The possibilities are endless, but here are several optional of add-ins:
** dark chocolate chips (shown in picture)
** peanut butter chips
**vanilla extract
** vanilla beans
** raisins
** chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans
1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
2. Place oats in blender or food processor (I used my Shakeology blender) and blend until the oats become the consistency of flour. 
3. Mash two bananas (I ended up blending the bananas too) and combine the bananas and oats in a large bowl.  Stir until smooth.
4. If doing so, add a 1/2 cup of an add-in of your choice; I used mini dark chocolate chips and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  (I wasn't thinking, since they were mini chocolate chips I should have used 1/4 cup.  They came out a little chocolaty).
5. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Drop the mixture by large tablespoons onto the pan.  You can flatten the cookies a bit using a spatula for more of a "cookie" look. 
6. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until cookies are set.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  
Makes approximately 12-16 cookies.  
(My 2 and 3 year old devoured one as soon as they came out of the oven!)
The cookies can be stored in a covered container for a few days or can even be frozen and reheated.  They taste delicious when warmed a bit! 
Recipe Source: Ambitious Kitchen

Monday, October 21, 2013

Temptations are Everywhere! My top 5 tips to handle willpower.

Willpower has always been a struggle for me.  When I was younger and didn't have to be as cautious about weight gain, it wasn't really a problem.  Once I was on my own, buying my own groceries, it became a problem!  I LOVE potato chips!  I could choose chips over sweets any day of the week.  I resorted to "Baked" chips thinking they were a healthier alternative but when it comes down to it, they are still potato chips and they  just aren't a good choice to make. 

Once I had kids my willpower went into another direction.  I found myself snacking and eating much more often.  Both of my girls like to graze all day.  I try to stick to typical snack foods (whole grain fish crackers, graham crackers, fruit, veggies, cheese and crackers, etc.) but it never seemed to fail. I would always pick up a handful here and there and toss it in my mouth.  Even if it is something healthy, like apple slices, the sugar adds up!  Many times, I wasn't even hungry.  It was just sitting there, right in front of me!  Does this all sound familiar?  Do you ever find that sometimes you eat just to eat, rather than eat when you are truly hungry? 

I was reading a short article in Women's Health and learned something about willpower.  Research shows that willpower is a kind of mental muscle, and, like any other muscle, it can get stronger.  I never really thought of willpower that way, but, looking back, my willpower (although not quite where I want it to be yet) has drastically increased in the past several months since I have made it a focus.  I'm not going to lie, I still sometimes get caught up in eating something that I shouldn't, or eating something when I'm really not hungry. 

With Halloween right around the corner (next week already!), this is what is sitting on my dinning room table right now.  And just in case there isn't enough in that bowl, we have a whole other box full of candy!  The smart decision would have been to get something "healthy" to hand out at trick or treat night this year; however, with the amount of kids that come knocking on our door, we took a cheaper route.  Although I said that I tend to like saltier foods, I didn't say that I don't like chocolate!  I found myself grabbing a piece here and there until I realized what I was doing!  Needless to say, the candy has been moved downstairs.

So, because willpower has been such a struggle for me, I wanted to share with you my top 5 tips that have helped me overcome the constant urge to give in.

Before going in to my tips, I have a "pre-tip" for you! If you think that you are hungry and it is not a typical meal time for you, drink a glass of water and wait 20-30 minutes.  Many times our bodies confuse us into thinking that we are hungry when really we are dehydrated and thirsty. 

Ok, on to the tips!

First, I started a food journal.  In the notes section on my phone, I type up anything and everything that I eat throughout the day.  That serves a few purposes.  Once I began doing this, I found myself not wanting to have to pull out my phone and admit (to myself) that I have eaten when I shouldn't have.  It was also helpful to see what I was getting too much of as well as not enough of.  For example, as I started to clean up what I was eating, I hit a plateau.  When looking back at my food journal, I could see that I was eating too much fruit and not enough vegetable.  Yes, fruit is good for you, but the sugar adds up.  Believe it or not, even too much of some healthy foods can affect your weight loss! 

Second, when I get the urge to snack or give in to an unhealthy choice, I like to focus my attention on something else.  If it's nice out, I take the girls on a walk, play outside, or just play a game inside.  If I haven't gotten my workout in yet, I do that.  Sometimes I just go into another room, away from the kitchen and find something to do.  Even if that means cleaning! Having the mentality that the "kitchen is closed" helps me stay on track! Something else that keeps me busy is calling a friend, parent, or grandparent to chat for a little bit.  All of those work like a charm.  It's amazing how you can just completely focus on something else and get your mind off of eating!

Third, I have an accountability partner.  When I was taking part in a health and fitness support group, I was assigned an accountability partner.  What we did was held each other accountable for what we were eating.  If we ever got the urge to eat a sweet, we would message each other and talk each other out of it.  Now that my group is over, who is my partner?  My husband of course!  I can't tell you how many times I have sneaked over while he was eating a bag of chips to grab a handful.  He is always there to tell me no and that I will greatly regret it if I do it.  And you know what, he's right! An accountability partner is anyone that you trust that will truly hold you accountable.  An accountability partner is NOT someone who will give in to you and tell you "go ahead,  you deserve it."  If you are going out with a group of friends, tell your friends that you are trying to watch what you eat and lose weight. Have the group keep you accountable.  If they are truly your friends and support what you are doing, they should be more than happy to help. 

Fourth, get rid of the unhealthy food!  Yes, this will affect your entire family (in the long run, it will be good for them too), but getting rid of the chips, cookies, and other unhealthy foods you have in your house will greatly help you!  If they aren't there, you can't eat them!  If that is too drastic for your family, then have a family member hide their sweets!  I know, it sounds silly, but that's what I did!  My husband is great about eating the clean dinners that I make, but he still likes his chips and sweets!  When he brings them home, or if I get them for him at the grocery store, I used to tell him to put them somewhere where I can't find them! Out of sight, out of mind! I've gotten pretty good with my willpower that his junk food can now be in my sight and I won't touch it. In the beginning; however, it was hidden!   By doing this, I always have healthy snacks at eye level in my refrigerator and in my pantry, so if I find the urge to give in to something, it's at least going to be healthy!  Along the same lines, I also throw away sweets/desserts that are left at my house.  For example, over the summer a relative brought cupcakes for my birthday.  Yes, I had one, and so did the rest of my family; however, there were still 4 cupcakes left.  I knew I couldn't let those cupcakes sit in front of me on the kitchen counter so I made the decision to throw them away.  They were store bought cupcakes that were full of sugar and quite frankly, my kids didn't need to eat them either.  I know it sounds wasteful, but sometimes it's necessary. 

Fifth, set and stay focused on your goals.  If losing weight and/or getting healthy is what you are looking to do, think before you eat!  Here is something that I did that really helped: I printed out a picture of a fit and healthy looking women (found a picture on Google) and hung it inside my pantry door.  I know several people who hang the picture on the refrigerator as well.   It could even be a picture of you when you were healthier and maybe 20 pounds lighter! I know this sounds like a silly tip too, but it was just another one of those things that helped me stay focused on what I wanted.  It was
this tip that helped me overcome the urge to nibble on snacks with my daughters. 

Now that you know the things that have helped me increase my willpower, I hope you will give them a try!  Feel free to post below any additional tips you have, or any tips that I  mentioned that you would like to try.  Let me know if it helps! 
If motivation, support, and accountability are what you need to reach your goals,  contact me about joining in on my next health and fitness support group.  I will arm you with the tools you need to get on the right track to success.  I will address emotional eating, how to handle your upcoming social gatherings, help customize your meal plan and more! When I  made and committed to that decision, I finally started seeing the results that I was looking for. 
Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why Choose Plain Greek Yogurt?

Growing up, I was never a big yogurt fan.  I tried it here and there but just couldn't acquire a taste to it.  When I graduated college and got a teaching job, I struggled a bit on what to pack in my lunch each day.  I knew I didn't want to purchase a school lunch and my husband took whatever dinner leftovers we had from the night before.  For years, I resorted to a lunch meat sandwich or peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread.  Combine that with some Baked Chips or Wheat Thins and there you have it, a healthy lunch, or so I thought.  I sometimes resorted to a Lean Cuisine microwave meal that was loaded with sodium and ingredients that I couldn't even pronounce.  I soon got sick of that and tried yogurt again.  To my surprise, I finally found a Yogurt that I liked!  It was labeled as "Light" and said it was only 1 Weight Watcher Point so I figured it was a pretty healthy choice.  I kept hearing about how much healthier Greek Yogurt was, so I figured I'd give that a try.  My first thought?  DISGUSTING! I just couldn't take the texture of it.  When I joined a health and fitness support group, it was recommended that I swap my "Light" yogurt for some Greek Yogurt.  Worse yet, it had to be Plain.  I wasn't too thrilled about making the switch but needless to say, I went out and bought a tub.  Similar to last time, I didn't like it at all. If you've never had Greek Yogurt,  it won't take long for you to see that it is heavily strained to remove liquid whey and lactose, leaving behind a tangy, creamy texture.  I knew I needed a sweeter taste so I started mixing my yogurt with natural sweeteners.  I prefer a handful of strawberries or blueberries.  I also add a drizzle of honey or Agave Nectar.  Every now and then I also like to add 1/4 cup of homemade granola.  Now that I've found the right mixture, I love it!  I usually eat 1 cup of it for lunch every day, or 1/2 cup as a snack. My husband, similar to me, used to eat a flavored "Light" yogurt for lunch as well.  Once I made the switch, it was his turn.  He actually started with vanilla Greek Yogurt to make the transition but within a couple of weeks, he fully switch to plain.

 So you may be asking yourself, why Plain Greek Yogurt? 

Yes, all yogurts provide excellent sources of calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12; however plain Greek Yogurt contains probiotic cultures and is lower in lactose, which makes it easily digestible.  Flavored yogurts contain extra sugar calories that are not necessary.

Did you also know that Plain Greek Yogurt can help with weight loss?

Greek Yogurt contains double the protein and half the carbs, which helps to keep you feeling fuller, longer.  A single 6 ounce serving has between 15 and 20 grams, compared to approximately 9 grams in regular yogurt.  In addition, Greek Yogurt typically contains about half the sodium and has less sugar than regular. Many people don't realize how bad sodium can be for your health if you consume too much of it.  You do have to be wary of the fat content in Greek Yogurt, which is why I recommend low-fat or fat free. 

Greek Yogurt can also be used in a variety of ways.  You can swap it for sour cream on your potato, cream cheese, oil, butter, or mayonnaise.  By using Greek Yogurt as a substitute, you are cutting calories and boosting protein. I recently tried a new Buffalo Chip Dip recipe using Greek Yogurt, rather than sour cream, and no one knew the difference! 

I have to say; however, the new favorite treat in my house is Cookie Dough Yogurt!

So next time you head to the grocery store, pick up some Plain Greek Yogurt (low-fat or fat free) and give it a try!  By mixing it with some fresh fruit, you are making yourself a complete snack, or lunch! 

Have a great day!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Clean Eating Grocery Shopping Tips and Lists

Picture It!  You are walking through the grocery store, checking out the deals, browsing the center aisles, and thinking to yourself, what should I / we eat this week?  Maybe you have some things written down on a piece of paper but you end up deviating from that list.  Before you know it, you are getting stressed out because you don't know what to get and your patience is growing thin due to the crowd of people, or maybe your kids begging you to buy them something!  Does this, or a version of this, sound familiar to you?
In the words of Tosca Reno, author of The Eat Clean Diet, "You'll soon realize that Eating Clean takes the guesswork out of shopping."
I frequently talk about the fact that I sit down for about 30 minutes or so each weekend and plan out my meals for the upcoming week.  When I post my meal plan, I get a lot of comments saying how much work it looks like I've done.  I sometimes think that scares people away; however, that 30 minutes of work sets me up for a healthy week, a great looking grocery list, and in the end, I am actually saving time throughout the week since I am prepared.
Tip #1: In whatever way works for you, figure out what you plan to eat for the week and write it down!  I like to use the chart below but I know that doesn't work for everyone. As you are writing out what you plan to eat for the week, have a notepad there to make your grocery list.  I always like to search for new recipes to try so it's perfect to have my list there so that when I find a recipe I want to try, I just write down all of the ingredients that I  need.
Tip #2:  Once the list is made, STICK TO IT!  How many times do you end up coming home with that bag of chips or cookies that you didn't plan on getting?  By sticking to your list, you will be more efficient and end up spending less money. 
Tip #3: Do not go to the grocery store hungry!  Studies have shown when grocery shopping on an empty stomach, we tend to over buy, and worse yet, we over buy on bad choices. 
Ok so what exactly does a clean eating grocery list look like? Well, that obviously depends on what meals you plan to make; however, here are some ideas that you can stock up on:

Now that we have that down, let's talk about actually going to the grocery store.  Have you ever heard the phrase "Shop the Perimeter?"  What this means is you want to stick to the outer walls of the grocery store.  That is where all of the fresh food is. Of course, you are going to need to go down a few of the center aisles but by then, your cart will be full of fresh food and you won't have as much room for packaged foods.  When grocery shopping, you want to avoid a couple of the tempting aisles such as the chips and cookies.  Maybe even the aisle with the soda/pop if you find that to be tempting too.    Before putting something in you cart you want to check out the food label.  My rule of thumb is, if you can't pronounce a lot of the ingredients, then it's probably not a good choice!  In particular, when shopping the frozen foods aisle, anything that is just heat and serve and in a box is most likely not something you want to be buying.  While a lot of frozen meals may say "low fat" or be low in calories, they are typically loaded with sodium.  If you can't buy fresh vegetables, frozen are a good alternative, as long as vegetables are the only ingredient listed on the food label.  If you stick with fresh foods and whole grains, you are good to go! Feel free to check out some of my Clean Eating Recipes to help you out!
Do you think you could be making better food choices?   Do you need some help making the transition?  I run health and fitness support groups that are lead online through a closed Facebook group.  I help customize meal plans, deal with social and emotional eating, cravings, give nutritional tips/advice, and more! I will provide you with support and accountability that you need to get the great results that you deserve!
Contact Me for details on my next group!
Happy Shopping!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What IS Clean Eating Anyways?

Now that people see that I'm not going through a "phase" but that I have actually made a lifestyle change, I wanted to take a little bit of time to explain this whole "Clean Eating."  I get questioned a lot about how I've changed my eating habits and how my family has adjusted.  As a family, we didn't eat THAT bad, we just kept it simple.  And although it is still simple, I've learned how to clean it up a bit.  For example, rather than having French fries, I make homemade sweet potato fries.  Or rather than ordering or cooking a frozen pizza each week, we choose to either have mini pita pizzas that can be customized to each of our liking, or, I get a big whole wheat pizza crust, all natural sauce, low fat cheese, and load it up with veggies.

There are different versions of Clean Eating.  In fact, there is no direct definition of it.  It's not even a new concept.  Clean eating has been around for years, and for those that choose to stick with "clean" foods, know that it is a lifestyle, not the latest crash diet.  So when I decided to make this change, I purchased and read Tosca Reno's The Eat-Clean Diet.   I still frequently refer to it. 
Here are the basic Eat Clean Principals that I follow (as per Tosca Reno):
  • Eat five to six small meals per day.
  • Eat breakfast every day within an hour of rising.
  • Eat a combination of lean protein and complex carbohydrates at each meal.
  • Eat 2-3 servings of healthy fats every day.
  • Drink 2-3 liters of water each day (I prefer to take my body weight, divide it by 2, and drink that number in ounces).
  • Carry a cooler packed with Clean foods each day.
  • Depend on fresh fruits and vegetables for fiber, vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes.
  • Adhere to proper portion sizes.
Simple enough, right? So, naturally you want to avoid the opposite of each of the principals noted above.
  • All over-processed foods, especially white flour and sugar.
  • Chemically charged foods.
  • Foods containing preservatives.
  • Artificial sugars.
  • Artificial foods.
  • Saturated and trans fats.
  • Sugar-loaded beverages, including soda / pop and juices.
  • Try to limit alcohol intake.
  • Calorie-dense foods containing  little or no nutritional value.
  • Super-sizing your meals. 
Eating "clean" comes with many benefits such as:
1. Weight and Fat Loss
2. Increased Energy
3. Clearer Skin
4. Shinier Hair
5. Better Sleep
6. An overall mental increase in your well-being.
So many people go through some sort of detox after a bad weekend, or maybe after the holidays; however, if you stick to a clean eating lifestyle, that isn't necessary. 
Are you thinking of making the change to a Clean Eating Lifestyle?  The biggest objection I get is that it is a drastic change and something the entire family can not commit to.  The truth is, you don't have to switch everything at once.  You make small changes each week until you, and your family, are transitioned.  I noted a few family changes at the top; however, a small change that I made for my lunch was switching the type of yogurt I eat.  I am a creature of habit and always enjoyed my light strawberry yogurt, handful of grapes, and a fiber bar for lunch each day.  What I didn't realize was the amount of sugar I was consuming.  So, I first switched my yogurt.  I transitioned myself into plain Greek yogurt and use chopped up berries for a natural sweetener.  I also use a small drizzle of honey or Agave Nectar.  I didn't  eliminate my grapes or fiber bar.  This pattern continued for about a week and then I decided to cut back on the grapes.  I love grapes and even though they are good for you, they are also one of the highest sugary fruits.  Now, I enjoy a serving of 20 grapes every now and then, but for the most part, I've eliminated them.  The last thing I changed, which was the hardest for me, was the Fiber Bar.  I love granola bars and although Fiber Bars aren't all THAT bad for you, there are certainly better options.  I ended up switching to a Lara or Quest bar because they have less carbs in them. Just for that meal, it took me about a month to transition.  I made some other small changes with my other meals, but you can see that I didn't eliminate or cut back on everything all at once. 
Here is a Cooler Plan that beginners can use to get used to a clean eating lifestyle.
First what you want to do is follow Tosca Reno's  Eat Clean principals noted above. In doing so, you can eat:
  • Oatmeal cooked with milk and sweetened with unsweetened applesauce or other fruits
  • High-protein, sugar free cereals
  • Homemade soups or stews
  • Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Lean cuts of meat (grilled, broiled, or baked)
  • As for beverages: stick with clean, herbal teas, green/black tea, black coffee, water or fruit juice cut with water. 
What foods should you really avoid?
  • Unhealthy fats, especially butter, margarine, cream, ice cream, fatty dressing, sauces and meats
  • Whole eggs (Although this is a debate, I stick with egg whites.)
  • White table sugar
  • Refined and processed foods
  • Junk and fast foods
  • Fried foods
  • Excessive salt and sodium (Be careful!  Sodium is hidden in many foods!)
  • Excessive alcohol
While some of these changes may be difficult for you, once you adjust you will be able to get the true benefits of this lifestyle.  From there, you will be able to make some other changes that will be even more effective. 
At first, I didn't think it would be possible for everyone in my family to adjust and boy was I wrong!  Yes, my daughters still eat their fish crackers and other snacks that may not be considered completely "clean."  Yes, my husband still chooses to eat some junk every now and then but guess what, so do I (just not as often)! 
Something that has kept me on track is weekly meal planning.  I sit down each weekend and plan out all of my meals.  I  know what you're thinking, WOW, that would take forever!  You'd be surprised that once you get into the routine, it doesn't take that much time at all.  The best part is I don't have to think and wonder what I am going to eat each day.  No more standing in the kitchen thinking, "what am I going to make for dinner?"  I've also compiled (and continue to do so) easy Clean Eating Recipes that I can always refer too!
So, if you're reading this, then you must be at least considering SOME changes that you can make with your daily food choices.  I have to say, I didn't learn and do all of this by myself.  I joined an accountability group that not only helped me learn this information, but it also kept me on track and accountable for those first few weeks that I didn't think I would make it through. 
If you think you could use some help in making this change, please don't hesitate to reach out and contact me!  You can join one of my accountability groups and in return, I can help you with customized meal planning, nutritional tips/advice, as well as Shakeology and exercising. 
If you are interested, please contact me at lisamariedecker@yahoo.com or message me in the comments section below or though Facebook.  I would be more than happy to help get you  started on the right track to better health!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How would you like to earn some extra money for the holidays?!

When I decided to join Beachbody, I was doing it for the discount.  I figured I'd go through a challenge group, learn how to eat healthy, get in shape, and then continue on with Shakeology at the discounted price.  Discount or not, I was still considered a coach, so, MY coach added me to her closed Facebook group that has each and every coach within her team conversing with each other.   It was a little overwhelming at first, but the more I read the posts and conversations among each of the members, the more motivated I got.  As a result, I decided that when my personal challenge was complete, and I had a good understanding of what it takes to be healthy and fit, that I would begin to "actively" coach.  I knew that I would need some help getting my business started, so I joined a Coach Basics group with a handful of other coaches, led by my coach, to help get my business started. 

It was to my surprise how motivating this new venture was to me!  I found, and find, myself really growing in a personal, and business, perspective.  I'm reading personal development books that are making me prioritize my life and what I want to make of it.   

Within all of this change, I decided to take a year off from my 8 year teaching position.  I didn't do this because I plan to become a millionaire Beachbody coach, I took the year to spend with my daughters and really focus on what exactly makes me happy.  I figured that Beachbody Coaching would fill that fulfillment that I was losing out on while being out of a classroom.  I also figured that it would be a nice side job to earn a little extra money.

What I didn't realize, was just how fulfilling this job is.  I have helped people get on track to a healthy lifestyle just by sharing my knowledge and advice.  I am continuing to earn more money each month as my business grows. 
So, why am I sharing this with you?  I'm telling you this because I believe that there are so many more people out there that would benefit from being on a team like this!  Whether it be a small side job, or turn in to a full time job, being a part of the Beachbody team is such a rewarding process. 
As a result, I am inviting you to listen in on a free call, Monday, October 8, 2013 at 9:00pm EST.  On this call, you will learn what a Beachbody Coach does, how he / she earns money, as well as the "perks."  You will also learn about the opportunity to be a part of a Coach Basics group that could earn you $900 for the holiday season! 
Interested?  If so, contact me at lisamariedecker@yahoo.com to get the link to the call.  There are zero strings attached.  All you do is click on the link, listen in, and decide for yourself if it is something that you feel is worth your time and investment. 
I hope to hear from you!


Clean Eating Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Soft Tacos

There's nothing better than coming home to a crockpot holding your cooked dinner!
  • 6 large, raw chicken breasts
  • 1 1/3 cups clean eating BBQ sauce (see below)
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Toppings: chopped tomatoes, onions, lettuce, reduced fat cheese
  1. Put the chicken and sauce in the slow cooker for 5-7 hours on low, or until the chicken easily shreds when stirred. 
  2. Use the tortillas and toppings to create your taco!
Clean Eating BBQ Sauce:
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce -  no sugar added
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste - no sugar added
  • 1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 4 tbsp. unsulfured molasses
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until well mixed. 
Recipe from: The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Balsamic Pear and Portobello Mushroom Slow Cooker Chicken

Simple and Easy! 
  • 2 raw, large chicken breasts (about 7 ounces each)
  • 1 medium pear, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/4 pound Portobello mushroom, sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the chicken easily falls apart when stirred.  (5 hours was good enough for me)
I prefer to serve with brown rice.
Easy does it! 
Recipe from: The Gracious Pantry

Pumpkin Chocolate Granola Bars

I absolutely LOVE granola bars; but, if you don't already know this, granola bars aren't exactly that good for you.  I came across this recipe from a friend and gave it try.  I had to admit, I ate one as soon I took it out of the oven!  They were simple to make and now I have a crunchy snack to eat with my yogurt during lunch for the entire week!  You have to try these!  

  • 3 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (I used cinnamon applesauce)
  • 1/3 cup  honey
  • 1/2 cup 85% dark chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 by 8 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, applesauce, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth.  Pour the mixture over the oats and stir well, until all of the oats are moist. 
  4. Stir in the dark chocolate and almonds.
  5. Evenly press the oat mixture into the pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  The pumpkin keeps the bars moist, so make sure they are golden and set. 
  6. Remove them from oven and let cool for approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars.  Remove from pan and let cool completely.
  8. Makes 8-10 granola bars.


Meal Plan and Fitness Update

Happy Sunday!  For me, early Sunday mornings are all about planning!  If my weekly meal plan isn't completed, then that's the first thing on my "to-do" list.  So, I had a boring Saturday night and spent some time searching for some new clean eating recipes, finished up my meal plan, and made my grocery list this morning. I was out the door by 8:00am and home by 9:15am, just in time to make some breakfast for my family.  I then spent some time cleaning and cutting up my fruits and veggies, and portioning out my snacks for the week. It's 11:00am and I am all prepped and ready for my week!  Yes, it took a little time to get in to my weekly meal planning and prep routine, but it's like second nature now! 
So, here is my meal plan for the week! 
Another routine I like to focus on every morning, but more so on Sunday mornings, is personal development.  Since joining the Beachbody team, I've taken the opportunity to read some personal development books.  The one that I am currently reading is by John C. Maxwell.  The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.  I'm not quite half way through yet, but I love it so far!  This book is great because it talks about the potential you have to grow as an individual, as well as how to contribute that growth to help others around you.  It really helps put your life in perspective and how to move forward more effectively. 
As for the fitness end, I am going on my third week of T25.  It is definitely a different workout than the 90 days of Turbo Fire  that I recently completed!  I love how it really focuses on different areas of your body with each workout, and even more so, that it is only 25 minutes a day! 
So, I am now ready for my week and can spend the rest of the afternoon with my family! 
Do you need some help learning how to fit this weekly health and fitness plan in to your schedule?  I used to say that I didn't have the time.   I now see that that was just my excuse.  It's all about making time that will lead to positive outcomes in the future. 
Are you interested in joining my next health and fitness support group?  I am running 2 different groups in October, one that only costs $20!  Click here to read about them!   

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

I typically prefer, and look forward to, my Chocolate Shakeology for breakfast each morning; however, I came across this  slow cooker oatmeal recipe from Skinnyms and it is delicious!  It takes less than 5 minutes to put together before heading to bed, and it's ready when you wake up, not to mention the wonderful smell!  Try it out and let me know your thoughts!
**Note: This recipes is for 1 serving, so, if you want you entire family to enjoy, add to each ingredient accordingly. 
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned  (be sure you are not using quick cooking oats)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups water
  • Enough water to fill Slow Cooker about 1/4 of the way full
  • 1/2 small apple, chopped
  • sweetener of choice, to taste (optional)
  1. In a small heat-proof bowl, stir oats, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.  You have the option of either adding the apples at this point, or waiting until the morning after it is done cooking.
  2. Pour two cups water over the oats.
  3. Fill Slow Cooker about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way full with water.  Add the heat-proof bowl with the oat mixture to the Slow Cooker.  The bowl with the oats/cinnamon/vanilla has water in it, and also sits in the slow cooker surrounded by water.  The water level should come to almost the top of the bowl.
  4. Turn the Slow Cooker on low for 7-8 hours overnight.  Using a large spoon, remove the bowl from the Slow Cooker (Obviously, the bowl will be very hot!).  If you did not add the apples before cooking, do so now.
  5. If you are doing so, add the sweetener of your choice.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Budget Friendly Options to Get Healthy and Fit for the Holidays!

Now that September is over and the kids have gotten back into a schedule, it's time to make some time for yourself! 
I know what you're thinking.  You especially don't want to be spending money on yourself right now.  You owe money for your kids sports, activities, fieldtrips, fundraisers, and the list goes on.  Maybe you don't have kids but you are already thinking about the upcoming holiday season.  Believe me, I get it.  Money is always tight and let's face it, is there ever a point where you WANT to be spending money?  Another stress that occurs for many people at this time of year is the tightening of their pants and the plummeting energy levels due to cooler weather and early evening darkness.  With busy school schedules it's easy to give up your evening walks or playing outside because it's dark by the time you are done eating dinner! 

The worst thing you can do is throw your hands up and give in to all of the temptations around you.  It is this exact time of year, in my opinion, that eating habits begin to change for the worse.  Due to the business of "life" you may be eating out or making quick, processed meals.  You can't go to any grocery store without walking into bags and bags full of delicious looking Halloween candy.  Do you ever buy a bag and put it in a nice decorative Fall or Halloween bowl on your counter?  And let me guess, every time you walk past it you swipe a piece or two?  You know that all of the Christmas goodies will be out by November 1!  I already saw Christmas decorations out at Target!

To help prevent you from falling into the same old trap, I have decided to offer 2 options for October.


Due to high demands, Beachbody has come out with a fabulous Shakeology Sampler Box!  Many people aren't sold yet on the monthly price, so now you can purchase a 3 flavor sample pack for roughly $20.00!  In this box, you get 2 Individual Chocolate, 1 Vanilla, and 1 Greenberry pack.  Because there seems to be a bit more than one serving per packet, this box can last for a solid 5-7 days.  That is just enough time to see whether you like it, and if you think it will work with your lifestyle!  My offer?  By purchasing a sampler pack, I can then place you in a closed online accountability group.  Within the group, I will provide you with a sample 7 day meal plan that follows Clean Eating, and I will help you through your first week of drinking Shakeology.  I will share a variety of Shakeology tips and recipes and make sure that you are finding a way to prepare your shake the way you like it!  If you choose to follow the meal plan that I post then you can take the guess work out of your week as far as eating goes.  My meal plans are geared for my entire family, not just me!  Here is my meal plan for this week:

So you may be thinking, do you I have to follow every single meal?  The answer is, NO!  I will be sharing the meals that I, and my family, eat throughout the week and from there, you can change whatever you need to.  I have numerous Clean Eating Recipes and snacks that you can substitute in place of anything that doesn't work for you. 

I have to ask, is a $20 investment towards good health worth it to you?  There will be zero pressure at the end of the group as far as purchasing more.  If you find that Shakeology will be an added benefit to you, then you can move forward with purchasing a 30 day supply, and if you would like,  you could move right into my 60 day group that begins October 21.  If you still want to hold off, no problem!  I had great success with this in the past couple of weeks so I can't wait to start another group back up! 


For this option, I am looking for a small group of people who are ready to make a commitment that will change their lives for the better.  I am going to be running a 60 day clean eating, Shakeology, and fitness group beginning Monday, October 21, 2013. This group will end just before Christmas!
Ok, so I bet I know what you are thinking now.  Why in the world would you commit to something like this over the holidays?!  My response?  Why not?  How important are the candy and the cookies?  If they are THAT important to you then fine, I can help you build that into your meal plan as a cheat for the week. My goal is to arm you with the knowledge of what clean eating is, by providing you with my meal plans, recipes, tips, motivation, support, and accountability to stay on track.  Similar to Option #1, you will be part of a closed online accountability group so that you can check in at your convenience to help you stay on track.  The commitment for this group would be the purchase of a Challenge Pack. 

So what exactly is a challenge pack?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a challenge pack is, let me explain it to you!  A challenge pack is a complete fitness program of your choice such as Focus T25, Insanity, P90X, Turbo Fire, 10-Minute Trainer, etc. and a 30 day supply of a Shakeology flavor of your choice.  Shakeology will act as your healthiest meal of the day!  Combine that with a free 30 day trial of the club membership (which provides you with benefits such as customized meal planning), plus free shipping, me as your Beachbody coach, AND a discounted price!  It is the total package!  Everything is also backed by a guarantee.  You can send your empty bag of Shakeology back for a refund and if you aren't happy with the fitness program, that can be sent back as well!  Before purchasing a challenge pack, I can help you decide which would be best for you based on your ability level and goals. 
So if you are in need of a complete overhaul with your health and fitness then this is the way to go.  With Beachbody you get the expertise of the trainers who have developed the fitness programs, the nutritional guide, and online tools to help you plan out your meals and snacks.  All with the accountability of a small group and me as your coach!  It is my goal to help you in any way possible to create and reach your own personal goals.

I want you to know that with whatever option you choose, I will be there to help and motivate you along your journey! I will provide you with the support you need to ensure your success. 



Curious?  Think you may be interested? 

What's Next??? You can contact me through email at lisamariedecker@yahoo.com, you can also message me through Facebook to get further details and/or to join one of my groups!




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