My Pre-Wedding Diet Starts Here

my-pre-weddng-diet-and-exercise-routineThe countdown is on! I'm about 7 months, 2 weeks and 1 day away from my wedding and the days just seem to get shorter and shorter. On paper it appears as though I've got plenty of time to get in shape for the big day but in reality, I don't. In just a few short months I've got my engagement shoot to be ready for and then before I know it I'll be walking down the aisle. That's why it's time to get my sh*t together and put my plan on paper - my pre- wedding diet and fitness plan. So here it is, my goals and visions on the line for the world to see. It's at this point where I go from the "out of sight, out of mind" method to holding myself accountable in front of the world. This is it, it's now or never. My Pre- Wedding Diet Starts Here. After reading this article you'll understand why I'm not your average dieting bride. In fact, I don't plan on dieting at all. Considering I'm a Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist my daily eats are naturally very clean and consistent. Because of that I plan to use exercise as my primary source of weight loss. That doesn't mean I can eat anything I want. What it means is that I plan to keep my diet the same as it is now (with small manipulations and variations here and there) while increasing the amount of cardiovascular exercise I put in each week. That being said, below is a typical example of my pre- wedding diet with weight loss in mind:

Meal #1 (aka breakfast): Protein Pancakes with PB and J 1 cup of black coffee + 2 packets Splenda + 1 tablespoon Half N Half

Meal #2 (lunch): 3-4 ounces grilled chicken breast or turkey/ground beef burger with reduced sugar ketchup 2 cups romaine lettuce salad topped with handful of slivered almonds, balsamic vinegar or Light Gingerly organic salad dressing and 4 or 5 baby carrots water to drink

Meal #3 (snack): 1 scoop chocolate protein powder sweetened with Splenda and mixed with water and 1 tablespoon half n' half (the protein I use is a blend of whey isolate, casein and egg white protein) 1 medium or large green apple sliced 2-3 tablespoons natural peanut butter

Meal #4 (dinner): 3-4 ounces grilled chicken breast or turkey/ground beef burger with reduced sugar ketchup 2 cups romaine lettuce salad topped with handful of slivered almonds (~1 ounce), balsamic vinegar and 4 or 5 baby carrots water to drink 1 medium pear or apple 1 small plum (if I'm still hungry)

Sometimes I will make Brisket, Ground beef or another type of red meat for dinner often using the Crock Pot.

I have no idea how many calories this is equivalent to. Often I'll eat more or less depending upon how hungry I feel. Breakfast and lunch tend to be the same every day, it's other meals and snacks where there might be some discrepancies.

Ok, on to my pre- wedding workout plan:

Monday thru Friday I head over to CrossFit Stony Brook for a workout. On the weekends it's a tad bit difficult for me to get over to the gym for a workout since I work from early in the morning to late afternoon. By the time I'm out of work on back on this side of town the gym has been closed for 5 hours. On those days my goal is to head outside for a run around my neighborhood if the weather and my body permits. During the week I plan to add an additional 3 days of morning cardio like running or rowing (I have an indoor rower). Here is how my schedule is going to look:

M - AM Cardio; PM CrossFit T - PM Crossfit W - AM Cardio; PM CrossFit Th - PM Crossfit F - AM Cardio; PM CrossFit S - Off (optional cardio in the evening) Sun - Off (optional cardio in the evening)

Home cardio workouts will consist of one of the following: - 2.5 mile run around neighborhood (~30 - 35 minutes in duration) - Intervals on the Rower (~15 minutes total) - CrossFit style workout using body weight movements, box jumps, kettlebells, wall balls, situps and jump rope (~20 minute workout)

The key to my morning cardio workouts is that I plan to do them first thing in the morning before breakfast. I find that this method works well for me to help get rid of this stubborn body fat.

Speaking of stubborn body fat. I plan to record my weekly progress right here on my blog. Starting with today. My weight this morning was a staggering 143 lbs! Ugh! Before the holidays I was doing exactly what I have posted above consistently and I was losing weight. I lost a total of 7 lbs! My weight was down to 139 which is the lowest I've been in over 3 years! And now, it seems like it's creeping back up slowly and I'm not cool with that.

Every Monday morning I'm going to weigh myself when I wake up. Then I'm going to lace up my running shoes and hit the sidewalk. My goal is not to see a certain number on the scale, but more to feel confident in my body and fit in to smaller clothes. My first milestone marker will be the engagement session we have yet to book with our amazing photographers Alexis Stein Photography. I've not yet set the date for this photoshoot but I would imagine it will be at minimum set for 2-3 months from now. That means I've got about 9 or 10 weeks to make some progress. I'm ready to make things happen and I can't wait to see how our engagement photos turn out, especially after I am in better shape!

This road is not going to be an easy one but I am going to do my best to make things happen and feel good in my skin no matter what the outcome turns out to be.

Got any tips or tricks to help me feel and look my best on my big day?

5 Quick Fixes for the Most Common Diet Mistakes

common-diet-mistakesYou may think your diet is making the marks when it comes to clean eating when in reality you’re probably making the same common diet mistakes everyone else is. That’s why you’re not seeing the results you want. Take a moment to be honest with yourself. Are you eating too much? How about not enough? Maybe your weekends are filled with alcohol induced comas and skinny iced-vanilla lattes. Or how about those salads everyone loves oh-so-much. Ever take the time to measure out the calorie-ridden salad dressing you dress it with? You’re in luck! Here are 5 Quick Fixes for the Most Common Diet Mistakes:

1.    Oversized Portions: It’s pretty self-explanatory. You’re just eating way too freaking much! No, you do not need to eat a 12-ounce steak in one sitting. Steak is healthy, yes. But 12-ounces is not. A calorie is a calorie no matter how you look at it, and eating too much of anything is not good for you. Restaurants are the biggest villains. They serve double, even triple the portion size necessary for any one person’s body. How is your metabolism supposed to keep up with 2 or more cups of cooked pasta doused in cream-based sauce. You know what, don’t order that meal to begin with and you’ll be better off.

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Fix: A good rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with vegetables, ¼ with protein and the rest with complex carbs. This can be true for a salad or sandwich too. If you’re really good, get yourself a food scale and weigh/measure your food components before serving. If you’re dining out, order the smaller steak and ask for steamed veggies on the side. Eat half of the baked potato and instead of ordering Sushi, opt for Sashimi with a bowl of steamed white or brown rice, that way you can choose how much rice you want to eat. It’s easy to fix a portion size problem; it’s a matter of putting it into practice.

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2.    Liquid Calories: It’s easy to consume excess calories when you’re drinking them. The amount of people that have no idea alcohol and coffee drinks are high in calories is crazy. You may think your skinny latte is healthy, but if you sweeten it with sugar and throw in a squirt of vanilla syrup you’re sorely mistaken. One of the worst things you can do is drink your calories. For the most part liquid calories are far from nutritious and most definitely do not fill you up. Personally, I’d rather eat a cookie than have a cocktail so I don’t even understand the whole mindset behind it in the first place. Wouldn’t you rather eat your calories than drink them? On top of that, they add up much more quickly. Probably because they go down smoother too, lol.

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Fix: Opt for calorie-free and sugar-free beverages like black coffee with artificial sweetener or sugar-free juice drink mixes like Crystal Light. How about having unsweetened iced tea with a splash of lemon or a diet soda. Or maybe you really want to enjoy a cocktail, choose something with far fewer calories like Rum and Diet Coke. Stray from cocktails made with fruit juice or cream liquors. And of course, choose light beer over the regular stuff.

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3.    Skipping Meals: The misconception that skipping meals or only eating 1 meal per day causes weight loss is alive and rampant. This kind of thinking has been debunked over and over with scientific data stating that if we do not eat for extending periods of time, our bodies will store what food we do feed ourselves. It’s the conservation effect. In preparation for famine or starvation the body stores food as fat. If we eat throughout the day our body recognizes that it’s being fed regularly therefore it uses the food we eat as energy for things like daily living and exercise.  Skipping meals (including breakfast – the most important meal of the day) puts our bodies in a state of starvation. Your energy levels will suffer, stress levels will skyrocket and your body fat will increase.

Fix: Eat 4-5 meals per day including breakfast. Start the day off with a well-rounded breakfast of lean proteins, complex carbs and fruit, and healthy fats. Don’t go more than 3.5 hours before having another meal or snack. That way you keep your metabolism revving and you’re fueling your body throughout the day. Try it this way for just 1 week and then tell me how you feel.

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4.    Not Eating Enough: A huge culprit in the nutrition community is people who don’t eat enough. They’ll come to me with the complaint that they don’t know why they’re not losing weight and that they barely eat anything all day. Therein lies the problem right there. Not eating enough food can do damage to your metabolism just like skipping meals can. Consuming fewer calories than your body needs in fact does lower your metabolic rate. This means that you eat less food and burn fewer calories. That’s right, you can put on body fat this way too.

Fix: Eat lots of healthy foods! It’s pretty simple – fuel your body with the appropriate amount of healthy calories for your resting metabolic rate (RMR) or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). You can use either BMR or RMR; a simple calculation to find RMR is below. Use this calculation to determine the amount of calories your body needs for daily function. For weight loss, subtract 500 calories. For weight gain, add 500 calories. For maintenance, keep it the same.

•    For men: (10 x w) + (6.25 x h) - (5 x a) + 5 •    For women: (10 x w) + (6.25 x h) - (5 x a) – 161 w = weight in kg; h = height in cm; a = age

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5.    Condiments and Toppings Get the Best of You: You think you’re doing a good job by ordering the grilled chicken salad at Chili’s instead of the chicken tacos. But what you didn’t take in to account is that all of the toppings loaded on to that salad make it just as bad as the tacos. Salad dressings, condiments, croutons, tortilla strips, dried fruits, it all adds up. Great job at serving yourself a snack of fresh veggies, but you screwed it up by coating your carrot sticks with high-calorie, high-fat ranch dressing.

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Fix: There’s no reason why you couldn’t use any of your favorite condiments and toppings – just pay attention to how much you’re using. Go back to mistake #1: Oversized Portions – make sure you’re not over-serving yourself with calories that don’t fill you up. If you want nuts on your salad, measure out 2 tablespoons full; if you want olive oil on your salad, measure out 1 or 2 tablespoons. You hopefully get the point. Another great option is to find healthier alternatives. Maybe you could find a fat-free Ranch dressing or reduced sugar ketchup. Swap-outs like that can cut calories in half!

We’re all human and no one’s diet is perfect. Pay more attention to what you eat and your progress will move that much faster.

What kind of diet mistakes have you made in the past and how have you overcome them?

How to Keep Calories In Check at a Super Bowl Party

super-bowl-party-tips-to-eat-lessEvery year we're smacked in the face with a smorgasbord of food and alcohol at you guessed it, a Super Bowl party. Whether you're throwing a party or attending one, calorie overload is bound to happen. Like other women, I could care less about football and am only interested in the social aspect of the party, and I'm not gonna lie I'm looking forward to the food. But how do you attend one of these parties without going overboard? Keep calories in check at a Super Bowl Party with these tips: 1. Eat before you go: I know, I know, that's no fun. But if you eat a healthy meal or even just have something small like a protein shake or non-fat Greek yogurt, your tummy won't be as hungry for the fattening fare being shoveled in mouths all around you. Thus hopefully preventing you from over-eating.

2. Bring something healthy to share: if you're not sure there will be any healthy appetizers and munchies, go ahead and whip up something you love that way you can spend the evening eating that instead of the unhealthy stuff. And if it looks too healthy, no one else will eat it and there will be more for you to enjoy. Just kidding. Be sure to bring the recipe because everyone will be asking you for it!

Try my recipe for Hummus and Pita Chips. No one will ever know it's healthy!

3. Stick to Leaner Foods: a good rule of thumb is to avoid high-sugar, high-fat foods and stick to the leaner stuff like protein, fruits and veggies, and good fats like cheese, nuts and avocado. When I get to a party, the first thing I do is scan the food options taking note of what I feel are the healthiest foods available. Then I stick to those foods the rest of the night - and drink tons of water and diet soda!

4. Eat Only Your Favorites: instead of munching on everything in site, find the foods you love the most. Serve yourself small portions of those foods throughout the night that way you get to really enjoy the calories you're consuming without wasting any on foods that are just so-so.

5. Have a small sample of everything: then put down the fork. Taking a small bite of everything gives you the chance to eat and try all of the foods at the party without overindulging. Be careful not to let this go overboard.

6. Fill Up on Fruits and Veggies (but skip the dips): fruits and veggies are full of filling fiber. If you decide to have a taste of everything and find yourself still hungry or with the munchies afterward, just have some fruits and veggies -- but skip the dips. Dip can be high in calories, sugar and fat making your efforts virtually worthless.

When it comes to alcohol, steer clear of high sugar additions like cranberry juice and soda. Stick with lite beer, wine, or cocktails like rum and diet coke.They are half the calories but full of flavor.

Celebrations like the Super Bowl are a great time to indulge and enjoy yourself. Just don't take things too far. Nobody wants to pop the button on their jeans, or feel so uncomfortably full that they can barely move. Keep it light and focus on the fun instead of the food!

Be A Healthy Eater -- Not a Dieter

Be a Healthy Eater -- Not a Dieter
Be a Healthy Eater -- Not a Dieter

I swear, I've spent years trying to fix the damage I did to my body while dieting. That's right. Damage. I know you're thinking..."damage, wth is this chick talking about, she must be smoking something." Then again, there are those out there who can totally relate. I've finally gotten to a point where I can honestly say that I am a healthy eater, not a dieter and I'm still losing weight and feeling great!

Here's how it works. You spend years going on diets in an effort to mold your body in to what you think is your ideal body image. The diets you're using restrict you from eating various foods or entire food groups, may be too low in calories, cause you to alter your life around when and where you can eat, and ultimately you end up isolating yourself from your friends, family and social functions - all in the name of "dieting." It's just not healthy. No matter how you look at it. I've been there. I've looked at everyone's comments as nonsense and claimed that "I ate healthier than every one of them" because I was the one on a strict diet. In the end I see how unhealthy that lifestyle is.

Then there's the end result that drives you forward. The desire to be at a certain weight or certain shape and feeling like the only way to get there is with a strict dieting program. How good does it feel to be in shape? How good does it feel that your clothes are too big, or your abs are beginning to show? But what I didn't know, or failed to admit applied to me, was that dieting the unhealthy way would damage my metabolism - not just for a few months, but for years to come.

After years of contest dieting or strict dieting to get the weight off, I ended up gaining 30 lbs while still dieting and feeling like there was no way I was going to ever fix it. My metabolism was beat to death. It wasn't until I re-learned my own bodies natural feelings of satiation and fullness that my hunger cues came back. It's been almost 2 years since my last "diet" and I've finally gotten to a happy place. I've lost 7 lbs simply by adding more cardio to my weeks, not by altering my diet. And my outlook on my body is more positive now than it has been in almost 10 years.

Any diet that tells your brain you can't eat certain things is probably not the best idea. Some people are better off with a laid out diet plan, but in my experience, it's led to nothing but binge-eating and Orthorexia (an eating disorder where you obsess over dieting so much so that it in essence takes over your life). A friend of mine, Wendy, recently brought up a great point on this topic and related it to the Paleo diet. Unfortunately many of the people who read the story mistook it for a dig at the Paleo diet and caused some controversy, so Wendy took it down (she has a similar story about figure competitions here). I however, totally got it. Her point was that consciously putting yourself on a strict diet such as the Paleo diet, or any other diet turns in to a psychosocial issue that can lead you down a slippery slope of depression, binges and eating disorders, not to mention you could end up with a metabolism the speed of a snail. Not fun.

What I'm trying to say is that putting a label on the way you eat can psychologically mind-f*ck you in to a downward spiral of yo-yo dieting and depression. So whenever I'm asked at my CrossFit box if I'd like to participate in the 30-day Paleo challenge, my answer is always no. Just the word diet might set me off. The thought of depravation, timed meals and psychotically weighing every morsel of food that I put in my mouth is already making me want to stop at 7-11 for a pint of ice cream.

"It's not a diet, it's a healthy lifestyle."

I know much of this rant goes against an article I posted only a few days ago, but it really doesn't. In that article I made a suggestion that you take the guidelines I laid out and apply them to your life just as they are - guidelines. Use them as a tool to guide you through your daily meals and alter it to fit your life and preferences. There's no rule that says you have to measure everything precisely and stick with the plan to the T in order to get results. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Giving yourself loose guidelines to follow will only help you transfer a conscious effort in to an unconscious effort - a lifestyle change.

Do yourself a favor and leave the OCD at the door. Pay attention to your body and eat naturally nutritious foods that are satisfying and good for you. Get an idea and an understanding of what goes in to a healthy eating plan for someone who is physically active and try to eat like that. Have protein with every meal, enjoy fruits and veggies, nuts, oils and other healthy fats, and a small amount of complex carbs. If you feel like having dessert at Sunday dinner, enjoy and don't worry about it. It's when you obsess and spend too much time thinking about the dessert that leads to a binge followed by guilt. Free your mind and your body will follow.

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