Hi my name is Nichole, and I love CrossFit (CF). There I said it. As a personal trainer and someone who creates training programs for non Crossfitters, admitting you like CF is a little uncomfortable. Most trainers bash CF and its training style and not going to lie, all of that made me think CF was bad too. That’s all I knew really before I tried it. There were lots of well-meaning fit pros I looked up to hating on it the daily.
So before I get into my CF story, let’s talk about the history of CF and where it stands today.
History of CrossFit
“A gymnast and celebrity fitness trainer in California in the 1970s and 80s, Greg Glassman went on to train police officers in the 90s’. It was during this time that he used high intensity workouts which utilized a number of disciplines so that officers were generally prepared, rather than excelling solely in one area. His aim was to create “greater work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” After setting up his own gym, he created the CrossFit concept in 2000.” https://www.fitnessadvisory.org/2013/11/08/the-history-of-crossfit/
There are now more than 13,000 Crossfit Affiliate gyms worldwide. I currently train at the 36th CF affiliate.
Here’s why I say the Good:
“To be “CrossFit” is to possess a general physical capacity that lends itself generally well to any and all contingencies: to the likely, to the unlikely, to the known, to the unknown. The fitness of the CrossFit athlete provides a solid foundation from which to take on any sport or any task.”
The idea behind CF is that through its training you’ll be able to handle anything life throws at you. For me that means, running a Spartan race, holding a 4-year-old in one arm and a 6 year in another and running through Target, and knowing I can help my husband move something heavy and he doesn’t have to call a buddy. And true story here, the other morning he had me come outside to help move his ice fishing gear into the truck 😊
Here’s why I say the Bad:
“The CrossFit stimulus—constantly varied high-intensity functional movement coupled with meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar—prepares you for the demands of a healthy, functional, independent life and provide a hedge against chronic disease and incapacity. This stimulus is elegant in the mathematical sense of being marked by simplicity and efficacy. The proven elements of this broad, general, and inclusive fitness, in terms of both movement and nutrition, are what we term our CrossFit Essentials”. https://www.crossfit.com/essentials
I 100% don’t believe in the nutrition side of CF. That being said you don’t have to eat that way to be a Crossfitter. Some box’s will push it but most won’t. At the end of the day its up to you to choose what nutrition strategy works best for you.
As a nutrition coach and a Crossfitter, living off “little starch” is no Bueno, it’s not optimal for training or your quality of life. Eating lots of lean protein, veggies, fruit, and unprocessed carbs is most optimal but eating sugar and processed foods can absolutely be a part of your lifestyle.
When my husband joined a CF gym he was instantly hooked. He’d come home from a workout and I would jokingly say, “so how was your WOD at your Box?” in my best douchey voice of course. WOD by the way, stands for workout of the day and box is a CF gym. You see CF has its only language, its own competitions, its own community, basically it’s a fitness island.
It was a year into his CF journey that I decided to go my husband’s gym and do a couple of sessions with his coach. Personally, I was bored with my own training and looking to switch things up. After 10 training sessions I found myself really enjoying Olympic weight lifting and completely stepping out of my comfort zone.
“Olympic weight lifting, often simply referred to as weightlifting, is an athletic discipline in the modern Olympic programme in which the athlete attempts a maximum-weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates. The two competition lifts in order are the snatch and the clean and jerk. The snatch is a wide-grip, one-move lift. The clean and jerk is a close-grip, two-move lift.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_weightlifting
My main lifts before transitioning into CF were the bench press, deadlift, and squat. Learning to snatch and clean and jerk were completely foreign to me and very difficult, however, it was something new to work on which in of its self is very exciting.
I also learned my endurance level was not where it should be, yes, I was strong AF and looked the part but I got winded easily. Trying CF presented me with new challenges but as a personal trainer largely focused on body building, I went into with a cautious mindset.
Here’s why I say the Box:
The thing about CF is that it can get a bad rap, from trainers and from people who have tried it and gotten hurt, I had a friend once describe it as the “devils” workout, no joke. That’s when finding the right box comes in, BTW, I never say box, I just say gym but since this is a CF article, we’ll keep it real.
A lot of box’s get it wrong. They don’t make their new members go through fundamentals or immersion training, they let them jump right in. That is the biggest reason people get hurt, they don’t know what their doing or their over training.
CF workouts are hard and if you haven’t learned the basics, your going to get hurt and you’re going to likely over train. Moral of the story, if a CF gym lets you jump right into classes and you have no experience, run, run very fast right out that door.
The best part of CrossFit is really the community that gym has built and being a part of an even bigger worldwide community. At the end of the day, we are human beings who crave companionship, support and accountability, and enjoy being apart of team.
The other aspect to think about is cost. Right now, you can join a few different gyms in your area I bet, costs range from $10 to $80 per month. CrossFit gym members are usually $150 plus especially plus if you’re in a city like NYC and Boston. The financial commitment is a big one and not to be taken lightly. And like I mentioned before, a CF gym will have you taking some type of 1:1 training or group immersion classes to teach the basics before you can start regular classes, and that is a hefty price tag as well.
Do you need to be in shape to start CrossFit?
That’s a big HECK No, it doesn’t matter your current fitness level, a good CF gym can help you no matter what, and guess what, they want to! Helping someone go from out of shape and not working out to making their health a priority and joining a community where you have accountability and support is why people open CF gyms, its why trainers become coaches and why members become friends. Its not a workout routine, it’s a lifestyle!
If you answer yes to these questions, then CF is something you try:
1. Do you need accountability in your workouts?
2. Do you love to push yourself?
3. Do you like constructive feedback?
4. Do you enjoy being a part of a team?
5. Do you care about performance?
6. Do you have cash to spend (this shit aint cheap)
If you answered No to any of those questions, move on, CF likely isn’t for you.
I hope this article and if you every have any questions email me at Nichole at NerGfitness dot com!
What Happens to the Body when Whey is Ingested While Intolerant or Allergic“
No pain, no gain” -- it’s a common saying we all know. We hear it from our parents, coaches, teammates, we even say it to ourselves.
Do you ever have the pain from abdominal cramping? How about the itch of a rash on your skin? Or what about the painful and embarrassing bloated and gassy stomach? “No pain, no gain” right? But these aren’t really the types of pain you think you should go through in order to make it to the finish line, yet these are the very common symptoms athletes endure on a daily basis when taking whey protein while intolerant or allergic to whey.
So why do they continue to take whey protein if it’s causing them this much discomfort? It’s because they have failed to recognize the connection between their symptoms and the whey protein, they ignore the consequences, or they simply have just learned to live with the pain. Whey is one of two predominant proteins found in milk. Once separated by specific enzymes, milk is split into two different particles: casein and whey. In order to get to the whey found in protein supplements, it is then further processed to remove fats, carbohydrates, and water content. Results from the first round of processing is whey concentrate -- containing low levels of fats, carbohydrates, and lactose, often found in a typical protein supplement. The second round of processing produces whey isolates -- containing little to no lactose or fat, and is also found in many protein supplements. The final round of processing produces whey hydrolysates, also used in protein supplements but not as often as the previous two listed.
It is often thought that lactose alone causes discomfort and sensitivities due to an intolerance, but even with the whey hydrolysates (the most processed whey), some athletes are still experiencing discomfort. The answer lies within the protein itself as the body is unable to properly breakdown milk’s natural protein -- whey.
What Happens to My Body When Whey Protein is Ingested While I am Intolerant or Allergic?
Whey can cause harmful effects to your body in the form of an intolerance or an allergy. An intolerance to whey protein comes from lactose, the carbohydrate within the whey isolate and whey concentrate. Lactose is the natural sugar found in milk and is one of the most common intolerances world wide with estimations of up to 75% of adults having some degree of intolerance to it. Symptoms occur when the body lacks the digestion enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down lactose, and without lactase, there are several painful side effects such as abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, and sometimes diarrhea.
An allergy to whey will present different symptoms as it will have an immune response, causing inflammation. Other reactions such as nasal congestion and mucus build up are more common with the allergy to whey. In some cases, it is not even necessary to ingest whey before symptoms of an allergy may occur. A rash, irritated skin, or watery eyes may appear on contact with the protein powder containing whey.
More symptoms found with an intolerance or allergy to whey can be found below.
Other Harmful Effects that Occur When Taking Whey Protein Even When Not Intolerant or Allergic
It is not uncommon for an athlete to use whey protein as a meal replacement. It might have great results towards a goal of weight loss or increased muscle mass but a common side effect is constipation. Unlike plant protein, whey protein lacks fruits and vegetables which are a great source of fiber and is necessary for proper bowel movements.
Whey protein as a meal replacement also develops nutritional deficiencies, especially when also on a low-carb diet. Furthermore, there is strong physiopathological evidence that suggests whey protein concentrates stimulate insulin, which in turn aggravates and develops acne.
What to do if I Have an Intolerance or Allergy to Whey?
If you do not have an allergy but do have an intolerance to whey, it may seem obvious to take a protein that has whey hydrolyze, as it has a lack of lactose. The issue with this ‘solution’ is whey hydrolyze is processed to the point where many proteins become denatured, meaning it loses its quaternary, tertiary, and secondary structures found in their native state. Due to this denaturation, the proteins lose their full ability to perform their function and therefore are not very effective.
Switching to a plant based protein with a proper amino acid profile will ensure no harm to your body. Some plant based proteins, such as Modus Nutrition, have anti-inflammatory properties and they will not cause bloating, an upset stomach, or gas. Modus Nutrition also provides a digestive enzyme which is critical for the unfolding of the proteins, and not just relying on the human gastrointestinal tract. This allows for much easier digestion over whey based protein.
As previously noted, our bodies are constantly changing. It’s not uncommon to continue to develop new intolerances or allergies to certain foods as you get older. Keeping track of your diet in a food journal may be effective to determine any future intolerances or allergies.
If you already are aware of your intolerance or allergy, it is important to read food labels very carefully before ingesting anything -- it can only take a small amount of whey to cause a reaction.
Symptoms to Look For with an Intolerance or Allergy to Whey
Everyone is different, the way one person reacts to an intolerance or allergy can be extremely different from the next person. If trying to discover if you have an intolerance or allergy to whey, it is suggested to log in a food journal in order to track when whey is consumed and when the symptoms are presented.3 It is also strongly suggested to consult a licensed health care practitioner for allergy and intolerance testing. Here are an array of symptoms to look for listed below.
Intolerance to Whey:
Alright then, if you’re like me, as in, you have a pulse, then at some point in your life you have probably wanted to or needed to lose some weight. And let me just take this moment to say, let’s not call it weight anymore, let’s call it what it is, FAT. Focusing on just weight and what the scale says is a no-no in my book.
So if you want to lose fat and look like you work out, then this guide is for you.
If you want to just decrease the number on the scale and don’t care about anything else, then this guide is still probably for you and I hope by the end of reading this Ultimate Fat Loss Guide for Women, you can say, Screw the Scale!
First things first. What are calories and why do you need to care about them. You’re going to hear lots of differing opinions in the fitness industry about calories and whether or not they matter. They absolutely matter, whether you’re trying to lose fat, maintain your current physique, or gain muscle. Calories Count. Are they the whole story? Nope and we’ll get into that later.
What is a calorie? A calorie is a unit of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. Therefore all foods have a certain amount of energy. Our bodies, whether from just sitting around or working out, burn calories. If we eat more calories than we are burning, then we gain fat. If we eat less calories then we are burning, then we lose fat. Eating more than we burn is called a calorie surplus. Eating less calories then we burn is called a calorie deficit.
You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat. That’s why knowing what your eating is so important for fat loss. Now I want to go a step further and say, eating the right ratio of macronutrients combined with strength training is going to be the MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO LOSE FAT. What does all of that mean? Don’t worry its covered here in the Ultimate Fat Loss Guide for Women.
What are macronutrients?
You may have heard about people “counting macros” or following the “IIFYM” diet. What does this all mean exactly? Let’s first start out by learning what macros or macronutrients are. In a nutshell they are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. We all eat macros, just not all us of track them. The reason people like to track macros and in turn count their calories, is because it makes eating in a calorie deficit or surplus, that much easier and more sustainable.
We all need protein to function, however, most people tend to not eat enough protein. Protein is the macronutrient that makes us feel the fullest. So, 30 grams of protein, think a small chicken breast, is going to hold us over much longer than 30 grams of carbs, think a light wheat English muffin. Each have the same amount of calories, however one is going to satisfy us more than the other. When you’re eating in a calorie deficit, eating enough protein is going to keep you from losing muscle weight as well. When you don’t eat enough protein and you cut your calories you could end up losing muscle and fat, not just fat. And we want to keep the muscle we have (and hopefully add some more). The more lean muscle you have the more calories you need to eat in a day to maintain your physic. I don’t know about you, but I am all for needing to eat more calories than less.
Ahh, the dreaded carb, probably has the worst reputation in the entire food kingdom. Carbs make you fat, gluten makes you fat, ugh……… no EATING LIKE AN ASSHOLE makes you fat. Carbohydrates for the body is what gasoline is to cars, it’s our main source of energy, and our bodies love it. The reason why carbs get a bad rap is because whenever someone goes on a low/no carb diet, they instantly lose 5lbs. It’s like magic and thus they feel like carbs are the enemy.
When we eat a 1 gram of carbohydrate, our body holds on to 3-4 ounces of water and attaches to our muscle fibers. So when you go from eating 250 grams of carbs per day to eating almost none, you are going to lose water weight almost instantly. Most people can’t get beyond more than a couple of weeks without eating carbs, so the no carb diet is usually just setting yourself up for failure anyway, as soon you start eating carbs again, the scale goes right back up.
Let me just say though, some people thrive on low carb diets, so if you are person who doesn’t naturally gravitate towards carbs, then going low carb might be for you. If you are diabetic or pre diabetic, then low to no carbs is going to be for you as well. Low carb diets have been shown to be extremely effective for fat loss if you are obese.
At the end of the day, it’s about finding out what works for you!
Fats are like Brittany Spears, first their great and everyone loves them. Eat high fat and no carbs and you are going to get skinny, bring on the steak and butter. But then after time, the hype starts to fizzle out, everyone gets fat again and now fat is crazy Britany Spears shaving her head, no one wants it. But wait, someone sensible stepped in and straightened Brittany out, she’s back and better than ever, and guess what so is fat. So now fat is good, just the right kind and in moderation, we actually need fat to burn fat, who would a thunk it.
So I may have gone a little off on the Brittany/fat stuff, but there is a morale to that story.
The only way to lose fat is to consume less calories then you expend. There are many strategies to do this, including a lot of fad diets that get some attention for a while but then fade out. Then there are the tried and true strategies that body builders have being using for years. High protein, moderate carbs, and low fat. It’s actually pretty simple, yet most people would rather spend time learning complicated systems like putting their food in different color coded containers (I’ve tried this BTW, so confusing), rather than just call it what it is, protein, carbs, and fat.
Now I have seen countless people write things like, counting macros and weighing food takes hours. That’s bullshit, unless 15 minutes actually feels like hours, but it doesn’t to me or my clients. People even say counting calories is obsessive and that you just have to eat clean. I’m sure this strategy works for some people, but when you’re trying to lose 15 pounds or less you need to know and track what your consuming or you could very well be eating just as many calories as you expend or even more.
What should my macro allocation be?
Ahh, the good part. Here are some general guidelines, every person is different and I personally set my clients macros based on their eating habits and other factors, then make adjustments as needed. So if your under 30% body fat you should generally be eating .8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Your fat should be around .2 per pound of body weight. And carbohydrates are the filler.
At the end of the day, the most important aspects are total calories and protein. You can play around with carbs and fat to see what fits your lifestyle best.
If your goal is to eat 1,500 calories (that’s a deficit) per day and you weigh 145 pounds then it would look like this:
Macro: Grams: Calories:
Protein 116 grams x 4 = 464
Carbs 194 grams x 4 = 776
Fats 29 grams x 9 = 261
Now if you want to know how many calories you should be eating to lose weight, generally speaking you want to be 500 to 1,000 calories lower than your daily calorie expenditure. If you have 30 pounds or less to lose you’re likely going to be in the 500 range. Okay so now you’re probably thinking, what the heck is your daily calorie expenditure? The easiest way to calculate it is using this link, I could lay it all out for you on how I do it in excel, but this link does the exact same thing, less math for you!
If It Fits Your Marcos (IIFYM)
IIFYM is very popular among bodybuilders and they have been using this approach towards nutrition for years. It does get a bad rap sometimes because you might see someone eating a donut and bragging that its fits their macros and all of the clean eating people get upset because they think IIFYM supporters are perpetuating unhealthy eating habits.
The truth is most people who follow this philosophy are making healthy choices 90% of time. The other 10% is them choosing pizza or ice cream. The difference is they are not going over their daily targeted macros. They don’t have to “cheat” and go over their daily calories by eating the pizza. They just chose to eat super lean during the day and save their carbs and fat for the pizza or ice cream at night. And there is nothing wrong with that. Eating healthy 100% of the time is not manageable or realistic for 99.9% of people.
This is me by the way wearing fav my T-shirt, Ice-cream fits my Macros, why, because I’ve gotten in to the best shape of my life and never once did I have to give up ice cream, or wine for that matter. A lot of other diets are very restrictive when it comes to certain types of food and alcohol, making them really tough to follow.
Is IIFYM right for you?
If your goal is fat loss and you don’t want to give up the foods you love, then yes it’s for you! There is no one telling you, you can’t have that Egg McMuffin from McDonalds because your super busy and don’t have time to make a “clean” breakfast at home every morning. If IT FITS YOUR MACROS eat it! Obviously you should be focusing mostly on eating lean protein, veggies, fruit, and whole grains, but you’re allowed to eat other things too. I have included a MACROS FAQ at the end of this guide, check it out if tracking macros is something you want to try!
What type of workouts are best for FAT LOSS?
Let me say this before we dig in. Exercise is like a diet, if you don’t like it, then you won’t do it.
You have to find what works for you.
That might mean that you love running. So if you love it, then stick with it, but if you want to lose fat and change the shape of your body, you need to add in strength training as well. You will not get toned arms, a firm booty, or even abs from running alone. That goes for cycling and spin classes as well. And while we are at it, you know those ever popular Barre classes where you dance around holding 3 pound dumbbells? Yeah, you’re so not going to get you the body of your dreams doing that. Sorry ladies, stick with those classes because they are fun and you love the community aspect of it, not because it’s going to give you results.
What strength training is and isn’t.
Lots of women don’t strength train because they think they are going to get big and bulky. If that is you then shut that shit down right now.
I know exactly the type of women you are talking about. Guess what, it took them years of hard work to build all of that muscle. They didn’t pick up a 20lb dumbbell and get that way over night. And if someone is telling you differently, they are just trying to scare you and keep you in their dumb 3lb dumbbell class (try and say that 3 times fast). Yup, I said it. Sorry not sorry.
If this sounds harsh, it’s because it is. I DON’T WANT YOU WASTING MORE TIME AND ENERGY ON DUMB SHIT THAT DOESN’T WORK.
The whole point of the Ultimate Fat Loss Guide for Women is for you to make real progress and know the truth about nutrition and exercise. Check out the pictures above, the first is me just standing with a basic bitch pose, do I look jacked out of my mind? Nope. The second picture is me flexing, do I look jacked out of my mind? A little J and I like it. I like looking and feeling strong in the gym and I also like looking “normal” during the rest of my life. You can have both.
Strength training is so effective because it builds muscle and gives you the sexy curves I know you’re looking for. Not only that but you burn more calories strength training then you do with traditional cardio. When you go for a run you are burning calories, when you are done running, you are done burning calories. When you lift weights you burn calories, when you are done lifting weights, YOU ARE STILL BURNING CALORIES.
That’s why tracking your calories/macros combined with strength training is the most effective and fastest way to lose weight.
Why else should you strength train? I don’t know about you but I like a perky booty, ain’t nobody got time to walk around with a flat saggy ass #truth. I don’t want it, you don’t want it, yo man don’t want it. So let’s all start strength and get rid of those saggy butts, K.
All kidding aside, that “toned” look everyone wants, that comes from resistance training not hours of cardio. Your best results are going to come from heavy compound lifts with the barbell/dumbbells but you can also use machines, bodyweight, bands, battle ropes, you name it.
What are compounds lifts? These are exercises that use multiple muscles and joints, like deadlifts, back/front squats, lunges, and shoulder presses. Instead of using just one muscle like in a bicep curl (isolation) you’re using lots of muscles at once. Bigger bang for your buck. Does that mean you shouldn’t do isolation exercises like bicep curls, of course not.
For strength training days I would focus on 3 sets with 8-12 reps of each exercise (1-2 compound, 5-6 isolation) and no more than 6 exercises. I like to give my clients an upper body day, lower body day, and total body day.
Your probably thinking, “but wait don’t I need to get my heart rate up and sweat a shit ton?”
And you would be right, we definitely want to get our heart rate up, but we can do that more effectively than with running, we can add in metabolic conditioning workouts (metcons). What are metcons? These are short workouts, 20 minutes or less that focus on anywhere from 2-6 exercises done at high reps with little to no rest in between.
My recommendation is 3 strength training days and 2 metabolic conditioning days per week.
Here’s how I would do it:
Monday – Lower body strength training day
Tuesday – Metcon – focus on upper body
Wednesday – Rest Day
Thursday – Upper body strength training day
Friday – Metcon – focus on lower body
Saturday – Total body strength training day
Sunday – Rest day
What about pre and post workout nutrition?
This is a question I get asked a lot. My answer is usually, it depends and here’s why. The time of day that you work out is important. Lots of people workout first thing in the morning. And people looooove their fasted workouts, they think it burns more fat. It does, but it’s pretty insignificant, especially when you weigh that against the fact that you could lose muscle when working out fasted, again, not much, but if muscle gain is your concern it something to think about.
Now if you like working out on an empty stomach, do it, for some, food in their tummies can make them feel sick while working out. For some they feel weak and performance can be effected if they are fasted.
Generally speaking you should workout 2-3 hours post meal. You have enough in the tank to get a really good workout but not full where it could slow you down or give you a stomach ache. After your workout, if you’re not going straight into a meal, I would suggest a protein shake. A combination of protein and carbs is going to help with muscle repair and curb any cravings that might hit right before your next meal. I don’t know about you but if I am starving while I am cooking, I snack, or if I am starving at a restaurant, I eat the bread.
Speaking of cravings. I know a lot of people get cravings and they just can’t resist those cookies, candy, or chips. Then you feel like shit after and wonder why you don’t have any will power. Is it really a craving though?? If your preggers, then yes, it’s a craving, don’t fight me on this, I will cut a b$tch. If you’re not preggers, then let’s talk about what a craving really is.
A craving is actually an emotional or physical response that your body is having. First things first though, over eating and/or binge eating are completely normal. You heard me, this is COMPLETELY NORMAL. Our bodies are designed to comfort us when we feel some sort of emotion that sucks. It’s the fight or flight, and we fight.
Eating is a natural way to comfort ourselves, we actually get a hit of dopamine when that food hits our mouth giving us all the happy feelings. And let me tell you, eating that donut is far healthier then gambling or drugs and alcohol. Hold the crack the please, I’m eating a donut.
Once you understand that it’s not the food it’s your emotions, you can find other ways to deal with it that are healthier, like writing or talking to a friend or going for a walk. I work with a lot of women on emotional eating and trust me, you can beat it.
When else do “cravings” hit? When you’re tired. Your body needs 2 things to operate, sleep and food. So when you don’t get enough sleep, what’s the next best thing? Food, so of course your body is going to crave that donut, its needs carbs for energy. The next time that “craving” hits, assess what’s going on in your life before you give in.
If there is that one food that you really can’t help yourself around, that’s a trigger food for you, DO NOT KEEP THIS FOOD IN THE HOUSE if you’re trying to lose fat, until you’re ready. You’ll just be setting yourself up for failure.
Will power is a muscle that can be strengthened!
If anything that I have stated in this article is resonating with you, then it’s time to start. I mean it, there will never be a perfect time to start, I promise you that much.
Ask yourself this:
It’s time for you to Find Your Strength, in the kitchen, in the gym, and in your life!
Click here to get started:
Tracking Macros Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are training and rest day macros?
Training macros are for days you work out and rest macros are for days you don’t workout.
Do I weigh meat raw or cooked?
You want to weigh it raw, why, because the nutrition label is based on raw meat. Meat also cooks down so the raw piece is going weigh more than the cooked piece, if you used a raw nutrition label with cooked meat you would be recording fewer calories than you ate.
How should I track my macros, paper and pen or an app?
That depends on you, but the most effective way is to use an app. I use and like Mikes Macros, it’s free and you can download it in the Apple store. It has a database of food in there and you can also save meals so you can just click on them another day if it’s something you eat a lot. It takes a bit of getting used so don’t get frustrated. If you would like to track on paper, just let me know, I have a template you can print out and use.
Where do I find macros?
The nutritional label on your food, make sure you look at the serving size, the protein, carbohydrates and fats are listed by serving size not the entire package.
What if it doesn’t have a label?
Things like fruit, with no label, you can use the database in your tracking app, or you can also use websites like caloriecount.com and calorieking.com.
What about when I eat at restaurants?
When you’re first starting out its best to eat at restaurants that list their nutrition facts online. Examples are Chipotle, Panera, Chili’s, and The Ninety Nine. More and more restaurants are putting their calories right on the menu now as well, but for the most part you have to go their website.
You don’t have track your free veggies like, lettuce, tomato, green beans, and Brussel sprouts, think non starchy veggies.
Do I have to track my macros forever?
No, absolutely not but when eating in a calorie deficit, the quickest way to see progress is to track. Once you hit your goal, you can start to eat intuitively, at the point you should be used to eating a certain number of protein, carbs, and fat.
Having a food intolerance is not fun. It can cause abdominal pain, discomfort, and nausea. It also causes embarrassing symptoms like flatulence and diarrhea. Other symptoms linked to food intolerances include muscle or joint pain, headaches, exhaustion, and even skin symptoms like rashes and eczema.
I personally have a sensitivity, when I eat real whole fat ice-cream, its bloat city for me. Cheese I am okay with and a little milk doesn't bother me too much. Dairy is just one of those foods that many people seem to be intolerant of.
Let’s talk about the main components of milk that people react to: lactose, casein, and whey.
Milk sugar (lactose) intolerance
It’s estimated that up to 75% of adults are lactose intolerant. Lactose is the carbohydrate “milk sugar” naturally found in most dairy products. Lactose intolerance is so common you can buy lactose-free milk in your regular grocery store. Lactose-free products are treated with the enzyme “lactase” that breaks the lactose down before you ingest it. It’s this lactase enzyme that is lacking in most people who are lactose intolerant.
The lactase enzyme is naturally released from your intestine as one of your digestive enzymes. It breaks down the lactose sugar in the gut. When someone doesn't have enough lactase, the lactose doesn't get broken down the way it should. Undigested lactose ends up being food for the resident gut microbes. As they ferment the lactose, they create gases that cause bloating, flatulence, pain, and sometimes diarrhea.
Lactose is in dairy but is in lower amounts in fermented dairy (e.g. cheese & yogurt) and butter. Steering clear of lactose isn't that easy as it is added to other foods like baked goods, soups, and sauces. And if you're taking any medications or supplements, check to see if it's in there too, as lactose is a common ingredient in them.
If you have symptoms of lactose intolerance, keep an eye on food, medication, and supplement labels.
Milk protein (casein & whey) allergy
Milk is a known, and common, food allergen. In Canada, it is considered a “priority allergen” and must be declared on food labels.
So, what are the allergens in milk? You've heard of "curds and whey?" Well, these are the two main proteins in milk. The solid bits are the curds (made of casein), and the liquid is the dissolved whey.
Unlike lactose intolerance, casein and whey can cause an actual immune response. It’s an allergy. And this immune response can cause inflammation. In fact, we don’t know how many people have these milk allergies, but most estimates put it far below that of lactose intolerance.
Like lactose, these allergenic milk proteins can be found in other products too. They're not just in dairy but are often in protein powders as well (Have you heard of "whey" protein powders?).
Some of the symptoms of milk protein allergy differ from that of lactose intolerance; things like nasal congestion and mucus (phlegm) are more common here. And casein seems to be linked with belly fat.
Interestingly, people who have gluten intolerance are often allergic to milk proteins like whey and casein as well. These can go hand-in-hand.
Like lactose intolerance, if you're allergic to casein and whey keep an eye on labels so you can avoid these.
If you get gassy, bloated, or diarrhea after eating dairy, you may have a lactose intolerance. If you often get a stuffy nose and mucus, then you may be allergic to casein and/or whey.
While dairy may be an entire food group, it is not an essential nutrient. All the nutrients in dairy are available in other foods. If you experience these symptoms, you can try removing dairy from your diet. You may find improved digestion and fewer gut issues. Or you may find improved nasal congestion, or even less belly fat.
If you decide to (or have already) removed dairy from your diet, let me know your experience in the comments below.
Recipe (Dairy-free): Chocolate Ice "Cream"
3 bananas, sliced and frozen
2 tsp cacao powder, unsweetened
1 tbsp almond butter
Place frozen bananas in food processor and blend until smooth (a few minutes). You may have to stop a few times to scrape the sides.
Add cacao powder and almond butter and blend until mixed well.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can make this in advance and freeze in an airtight container.
The very idea of detoxing or cleansing baffles me. Most people embark on a detox/cleanse because they are feeling sluggish, bloated, and over all just a sense of blah. Our bodies know how to remove toxins so if you’re feeling like you need to detox or cleanse, just cut out processed foods and alcohol, focus on lean proteins, fruits, and veggies. Spending $100 bucks on some 3 day juice cleanse is not worth it. You’re really just going from one extreme to the other. Instead focus on building healthy habits.
Some will say that you can lose pounds from a detox/cleanse, yes you can lose “weight” but its water weight, not fat loss. You will likely gain it all back when you’re done detoxing/cleansing.
The problem with Juice Cleanses:
Do you love your breakfast? Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes? Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again?
Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss. This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it. So I'm going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favorite new “go-to” breakfasts.
Breakfast Food #1: Eggs
Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food. And for good reason!
No, I'm not talking about processed egg whites in a carton, although that is a yummy option too if your concerned with fat intake. I mean actual whole “eggs”.
Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses. Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin.
Not to mention how easy it is to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you're running short on time.
And...nope the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases.
One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidized. It's the oxidized cholesterol that's heart unhealthy.
Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast.
You won't be fooled by “candied” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butters, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – you know I'm talking about the real, whole, unsweetened food here.
Nuts and seeds are also the ultimate fast food if you're running late in the mornings. Grab a small handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as you're running out the door; you can nosh on them while you're commuting.
Not to mention how easy it is to add a spoonful of nut/seed butter into your morning breakfast smoothie.
Hint: If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter. Just add your regular hot tea and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter into your blender & blend until frothy.
Breakfast Food #3: Veggies
Yes, you already know you really should get protein at every meal including breakfast; but this also applies to veggies. You know I would be remiss to not recommend veggies at every meal, right?
Veggies are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water. You can't go wrong adding them into every single meal of the day so if you don't already you should definitely try them for breakfast!
And no, you don't need to have a salad or roasted veggies for breakfast if you don't want to but you totally can! You wouldn't be breaking any “official” breakfast rules or anything like that.
Adding some protein to leftover veggies is a great combination for any meal. Including breakfast.
I've included a delicious recipe below for you to try (and customize) for your next breakfast.
Recipe (Eggs & Veggies): Veggie Omelet
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 or 2 eggs (how hungry are you?)
¼ cup veggies (grated zucchini and/or sliced mushrooms and/or diced peppers)
dash salt, pepper and/or turmeric
Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt on low-medium heat (cast-iron pans are preferred).
In the meantime grab a bowl and beat the egg(s) with your vegetables of choice and the spices.
Tilt pan to ensure the bottom is covered with the melted oil. Pour egg mixture into pan and lightly fry the eggs without stirring.
When the bottom is lightly done flip over in one side and cook until white is no longer runny.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: Substitute grated, sliced, or diced portion of your favorite vegetable. Try grated carrots, chopped broccoli or diced tomato.
So most of the advice you might be seeing for Thanksgiving is to not care about what you eat. And while this laid back attitude has its merits, some of you may care, so here are some tips!
First and foremost, try and not calorie/macro count. Give yourself a break. Instead try these:
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow and thank you so much for reading my blog and/or following me on Facebook or Instagram. I truly appreciate it.
So, where do I start? Let’s go back to the beginning. At 19 my mother had just had surgery, there was a 50% chance she wouldn’t make it. She did. And after, while recovering she told me she had something important to tell me about my father. I said what, she said it has to do with when you were a baby. Immediately I remember thinking, did they let something bad happen to me? And then she said, your Dad is not your real Dad, we met when I was already pregnant with you and your Dad didn’t care, he wanted to get married and raise you as his. And so that is what happened. I never once questioned that my Dad wasn’t my Dad.
It suddenly made a lot of sense, I am different than the rest of my family. And my Dad always treated me differently too. He was very tough on me, everything was about responsibilities, he was never that way with my two younger sisters. I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t his real daughter or just the fact our family disintegrated over the years and so I benefited from some real parenting for a while.
Side note, my Dad knows I know, everyone does now, but we have never talked about it. I don’t talk about it much at all. I know my Dad loves me and when he talks about my accomplishments he cries. And while he was far from the perfect Dad and loves Donald Trump, I love him because he was always been there for me, I never once in my life felt like I couldn’t count on him if I needed him.
And so for years, I never bothered to look for or ask about my biological father. He knew about me and he knew where to find me. He didn’t and to me that felt like a slap in the face, so why should I bother. Over the years, I always became depressed in the fall time, it took about 5 years for me to realize that my Mom told me about my Dad in September, and it made sense to me that I would feel sad during that time every year. Knowing that made me feel better.
I looked for my biological father a few times, I had some pieces of information that I thought I could google and find him, I couldn’t. I even tasked one of my sisters to look for him and get more details from my Mom. I could not bear talking to her about it. I do better moving forward, not looking back. We couldn’t find him and so I gave up.
After my son was born I felt this unbelievable hatred towards my biological father and my Mother if I am being honest. The love I felt for my son was like nothing I had ever felt before. And so when I looked into his eyes I couldn’t imagine for one minute missing any part of his life. Did my biological father look into my eyes and not feel that? He met me, he bought my crib, he was at my 1st birthday, that’s the last time he saw me. And so again, I felt no need to look for him, until last month.
I got an email from a woman I follow talking about how she did a Meand23 DNA test and found a sibling which led to her bio Dad. And I thought what the heck, I am doing it. I got the test, sent it in, got the results. I didn’t have any close relatives just loads of cousins with a 1-2% DNA connection. I did learn a lot of other cool stuff though. I am not carrier for a lot of pretty serious diseases, that’s a relief. It told me that I produce a protein that only 49% of people do, which makes me a great power athlete but a shitty long distance runner, which makes total sense if you know me. It also said that I do not sleep deeply and I am restless sleeper, moving up to 16 times an hour, this is spot on by the way.
While the DNA test was cool, I started wondering if I should look for my biological father again. And so after two hours of googling, I had nothing. And then I thought why don’t I use Bing, I hate Bing by the way, google girl all the way. And I freaking found him, using Bing. I found his obituary that is. He died in November of 2016. And so there I was reading it and getting goosebumps because it all lined up and I knew it was him. And I felt empty and sad and angry. And also not as alone. He was an engineer, and had his master’s degree and owned his own company. I’m an accountant, have a master’s degree and own my own company.
I always say “no regrets”, its why I started my fitness business even though I spent the last 18 years building a successful accounting career. I truly feel regret not having found him sooner. I wonder how I will feel next fall.
Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?
Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing.
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)
OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???
Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
Try not to skimp!
(Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)
Tips for better sleep