GO GREEN – How to fit more veggies into your nutrition (deliciously)

It’s the most wonderfully GREEN time of the year; St. Patrick’s Day is just a few days away, plants are
starting to pop through the earth’s surface and spring is soon upon us! What a perfect time to get those nutrient dense, healthy veggies BACK in the meal planning routine.

What’s the big deal about veggies?

Yes, we’ve all heard since the beginning of time that we MUST EAT MORE VEGETABLES. You’re probably trying your darnedest to hit the FIVE servings/daily you’re ‘supposed’ to throw down. So… why are the so important?

  • Most veggies are very low in calories and high in nutrient density
  • Some awesome nutrients you can find include; potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C
  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke
  • Eating a diet rich in some vegetables may protect against certain types of cancers
  • Nutrition rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes
  • Eating vegetables rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss
  • Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.

The list goes on and on…

How to fit more veggies into your nutrition routine

Veggies at breakfast are a fantastic way to start the day. Think a bit outside of the box when making a quick meal in the morning or preparing your am meals before the week gets started. Some ideas for breakfast vegetables:

  • Omelets are the perfect hangout for protein AND load of veggies. Include onion, peppers, and leafy greens for easy veggie add ons.
  • Those scrambled eggs? Throw in some mushrooms and at the very end, top with a veggie dense salsa (yum)
  • Don’t discriminate against non breakfast foods in the morning. Leftover veggies from the night before or ANYTHING you have in the fridge are fine to start your day. Become a non breakfast, breakfast person

Salads are boring. You shouldn’t have to relegate yourself to iceberg lettuce, shredded carrot and a radish for you lunch time fueling session. Think a bit more about how you can ‘yummy’ your lunch. Here are some easy ideas:

  • Sandwiches are FINE. Load ’em up with all the veggies! Ditch the drab piece of iceberg and load that sammy with romaine/bibb or butter lettuce. Try a few tomatoes, cucumber, onion (unless you’ve got some close speaking engagements on tap for the afternoon), pickles, bean sprouts and a small shmear of hummus. Add a pice of turkey or chicken for some protein and you’ve got a healthy sandwich that sets you up all afternoon.
  • Try coleslaw as a healthy vegetable-rific side
  • Beef up your drab salad with more dense, colorful veggies. Throw together a monster salad the
    night before, with more dense/moisture driven veggies on the bottom. Try a jar salad; make multiple jars Sunday to eat for lunch throughout the week!
  • It doesn’t have to be complicated. Need a few more servings of veggies to satisfy your serving goals AND your stomach? Cut veggies. Put veggies in plastic baggie or environmentally safe container of your choice. Take veggies with you. Eat veggies. Use hummus or a low calorie dressing for a bit more flavor if need.

Ok, we’ve upped your veggies dramatically and it’s only 4pm. So how can we get some more fun veggies in at dinner that don’t take hours and don’t need waves of fatty dressings and dips. Bring on dinner:

  • ROAST the veggies. This method is quick, easy and I haven’t found a combination of veggies that has not been delicious when roasted. Throw on the oven to 375-400 degrees or so, chop your favorite veggies, salt/pepper and drizzle with EVOO. Throw them in and let them go while you finish off the rest of dinner. Use what’s in season or on sale at your local market!
  • Again, think a bit outside the dinner box. Instead of a protein, veggie and starch… use two vegetables, but one with a little more oomph to it. Try roasted broccoli and acorn squash, asparagus and sweet potatoes and get creative!
  • Finish pastas, lasagnas, grains and casseroles with leafy greens. Spinach, kale, collards, etc. are a great last minute addition to dozens of easy dishes. Throw them in, chopped, with a few minutes to go and you’ve easily got a serving that’s hard to notice.

But, what about the CHILDREN!

Sure, kids notoriously don’t like their veggies. But, there are ways around it. You could either go back in time and introduce a bigger variety of fruits/vegetables to them early on, throw lame steamed mush at them OR use some tricks to get them to eat the awesome healthy veggie things.

  • One of my favorite clients used a great trick teaching her kids about the importance of their food, and even better, vegetables. From early on she stressed the importance of a colorful plate. Fill that plate with COLORS, she reminds them. This drastically helps them make good decisions.
  • Chop/finely diced veggies fit well in most ditches, especially when they’re cooked INTO them. The veggies will take on the flavors of the dish. Season well!
  • Leafy greens are another easy, tricky way to fit in healthy vegetable things. Chop greens and throw them in lasagna, pastas, casseroles, etc.
  • Zucchini and squash are sneaky vegetables. Shred finely and add to many of the dishes listed here
  • Sauces (spaghetti, sloppy joes, etc.) are great sneaky places to add finely diced, shredded vegetables as well. The better they cook down, the more likely you’ll get away with it
  • Tomato sauce (pasta), salsa and pizza sauce are great places to tuck away the veggies
  • Broccoli and cauliflower are notoriously delicious veggies when given a cheesy kick. Create a small cheesy bit o’ deliciousness to top steamed broccoli/cauliflower OR try a Cauliflower Mac N’ Cheese.

Vegetables are a must have in your daily nutrition, but they don’t have to be boring, mushy or inedible. Your meal prep doesn’t even have to take hours to make it happen. Try to get in a serving or two at each meal and throw in one serving as a snack. One serving (1/2 cup) is nothin’! You can easily chop, dice, shred that much into your meals.

Grab some more of the green (and colorful) stuff from your produce department on the next grocery shopping trip. Try something new! You might not even realize you dig a veggie you once thought to be the devil’s work (aka brussel sprouts when I was a youngster… I can’t get enough now)!

Need more help with your nutrition? A guide. A plan. An assist? We do that! Ask Coach Amelia anytime or head over to our Facebook page (and temporarily free group LIVFIT Nation) now! LIKE us, stick around and learn all the awesome healthy things to help you LIVFIT!

You’re not losing fat – 10 reasons you may be doing it wrong

by Coach Amelia

1706629You’re not alone. Nearly 65% of people who successfully complete a fad diet will end up gaining all of their weight back that they initially lost. Does that sound like you? Maybe you didn’t try out the new ‘all fruit cleanse’, ‘super duper shake month’, or any other specific diet method. BUT, for some reason you just couldn’t, can’t or won’t lose that body fat. Whether it’s the last five pounds or the first, just a few pounds or over 100, there are some common reasons why your plan isn’t working. Sure, we know a balanced attack through nutrition and fitness are integral in reaching your goals. But, are some seemingly blaring issues holding you back from losing fat? Let’s take a look.

1. Too much exercise: Exercise, by the very nature of what it is, adds stress to your body. The primary goal is to add stress to your muscles so they recover and grow. This includes the healthy capacity of the most important muscle, your heart. But, too much stress can result in adverse affects not only for fat loss, but for overall health.

Quick Tip: Are you feeling cranky, lethargic or just ‘off’ even though you seem to be doing everything ‘right’? You may be over-exercising. Take a step back and evaluate your training. In fact, take a step back and a few days off. 

2. Overdoing the cardio: Fat loss is more than a math problem, those days are long gone. We used to do simple equations, burn more than we consume, right? Well, not so fast, it’s not that easy. Our bodies are way to smart to allow such a simple thing to happen. There are countless variables to take into consideration when thinking about fat loss. Calories in, calories out, quality of those calories in (nutrition), quality of that caloric output (long and slow or quick and intense) hormones, metabolism, genetics and more. But we’re not scientists, we’re normal folks that acquire information to make the best decisions and build the best plan that we can. Extreme amounts of cardiovascular exercise can put the body into a ‘save’ mode, unless we’re fueling our bodies correctly. Big picture, folks.

Quick Tip: Unless you’re prepping for an endurance race, ditch the long cardio sessions. Focus on shorter, higher intensity sessions. Grab your favorite machine or find your biggest hill and knock out some intervals (60 sec run, 30 sec sprint OR 60 sec hill sprint, 60 sec recovery, etc.).

3. Eating too little: Similarly, if we don’t fuel our bodies adequately, it may decide it needs to hang onto anything it’s got (fat stores) to function correctly. Don’t forget, we have a bunch of other important functions that our body must regulate before it even THINKS about allowing fat loss. You know; breathing, heart beating, maintaining mental capacities, circulation, and hundreds more. Fat loss is low on the meter of importance here. So, if we under eat, our bodies know it and save for later. This translates directly to keeping, and sometimes adding… fat.

Quick Tip: Track your nutrition for THREE days; two weekdays and a weekend day, then evaluate. You should be eating at LEAST your BMR (find it —–> here) in calories, and more when you factor in exercise.

4. Not getting enough sleep/rest/recovery: We mentioned ‘too much exercise’ as a very important, but common roadblock to fat loss. It’s close cousin? Not enough sleep/rest/recovery. It makes sense that our bodies change when we’re working hard; in our training, the way we move, how much we move. But, actually the progress is in our recovery. Sleep, lengthening, massage, down time and even meditation are huge players in the recovery process. Of these, sleep is king. Adjust your day to allow for 8 hours/night of sleep and reap the rewards of energy, health and that stubborn fat wasting away.

Quick Tip: Do a quick ‘time audit’. Jot down a rough schedule of your day and when you find ‘holes’, identify what you’re doing with those bits of time. Cruising Facebook? Insta-Snapping? That time adds up. Cut back to open up more time for restful sleep. 

Overweight Man Resting on Exercise Ball5. Intensity is too low: Wait, wait wait.. you just told us we may be working out TOO much. Now, not hard enough? Well, if the shoe fits. Take a step back and look at the quality of your workouts. Do you knock out 15-20 sets or…. 15-20 Snaps (@snapchat)? Are you admiring everyone else, or yourself for that matter, in those floor to ceiling mirrors? It’s not the number of workouts/week, it’s the intensity of those workouts. Are you dialed in, smashing your plan, with pace and focus? Then…

Quick Tip: Here we go with our ‘planning’ advice again. Walking in the gym without a plan sets you up for failure. Create a program, or have us create an awesome one for you (check out our online coaching) and stick to it. You’ll see the intensity in the gym naturally climb into the fat torching zone!

6. Not focused: Our world is FULL of distractions, far too many to list. But, there’s a good chance that you immediately think of a handful that could be derailing the quality of your workout. Unplug. If you need music, great, do it to it. But, this is ‘you’ time. Focus on your training program, your workout, your walk, your time.

Quick Tip: Let people know that you’re unavailable when you’re working out. If you don’t need music, don’t even carry along your phone. Eliminate the opportunities for distraction, so you can stay focused on your goals.

7. Not consistent: It doesn’t matter what training program (or lack of one) you’re on, if you aren’t consistent with that training. Here’s the BIG secret to fat loss; you simply must remain consistent. Mind blowing, huh? Really though; you WILL be successful if you remain consistent with your program, your coach, your plan. Through your fitness plan AND healthy nutrition, if you show up 80% of the time, your body has no choice but to show you some results.

Quick Tip: Follow. A. Program. Noticing a trend here? Your ideal program tells you what days you will be working out, complete the sessions. Check ’em off and don’t look back. We have coaches for this very problem. 

8. Program is not designed specifically for you: We are well aware of how many programs, challenges, methods and more are available on the internet. That’s wonderful. But, chances are that the one you’ve been following was not built specifically for you. There’s a reason why personal trainers exist. It’s to build specifically unique training programs for their clients. Every single person out there has a unique health/injury background, compensation(s), lifestyle constraints, training space, fat loss/muscle building goals. Cookie cutter programs are fine, but often not what’s going to do the trick for your next fitness goal. Do you want to be ‘fine’? Or, do you want to be your best? Chances are you’ll hit your training program head on, with much more intensity if it’s designed specifically for you.

Quick Tip: Seek out a qualified trainer and ask for a program. It doesn’t even have to be us (wink, wink). In all seriousness, if your gym does not offer program prescription, online coaching is a great new way to have a program written just for you. And, at a lower cost than your gym’s personal training solutions. And hey, I’m happy to help —–> email me at amelia@livingfitly.com!

9. TechniquePeople lifting barbells in crossfit gym is terrible: Chances are, if your technique could use some shaping up, so could you. Those exercises you’re knockin’ out each workout are the building blocks of your program, so treat them the right way. Grab a trainer or do some YouTube searching to be sure your form is correct, that you’re getting full range of motion (ROM) and the weight you’ve chosen isn’t too heavy (or too light, for that matter).

Quick Tip: If a LIVFIT coach isn’t there to help, YouTube is certainly a fine tool to double check your technique. A little caution though, be sure to search and view credible trainers when doing so.

10. Irresponsible cheat day: ‘Cheat days’ are just as commonly discussed as proper nutrition lately, and they could be a big reason why you’re not making the progress you deserve. If you’re on a fairly specific nutrition plan, or eat very well, your body actually can respond well to a day with higher calories and perhaps more carbohydrates. It snaps the body out of it’s normal, lower calorie, state and keeps it fueling the fire for fat loss. But, cheat days can turn into a disaster if approached incorrectly. In one fell swoop, you could derail your steadily healthy week by throwin’ down all you can eat buffet brunch, bottomless brews, a couple pieces of Mom’s best pie, a pizza and for good measure… a pint of that new Ben and Jerry’s flavor.

Quick Tip: Plan your cheat day ahead of time. Brunch is fine, please go at it, but mentally prepare yourself for what and how much you’ll eat. Pie is fine, but one piece is delicious enough. Same goes for a few brews or pieces of pizza. You can eat what you want! Always! BUT, do so responsibly on that cheat day.

Does anything here sound familiar? I’m sure a few raised an eyebrow. There are certainly some common themes though. For the best success in your fat loss process, plan plan plan. A program will help you stay on track, hold you accountable, help you stay focused and be designed specifically for your needs. Just a few little shifts in your process can be just what you need to start burning the fats!

Questions? Email me! Coach Amelia

5 Fitness Myths Your Friends Keep Bringing Up… and we Still Hate

by Coach Amelia

There is a LOT of misinformation out there in the fitness industry. Of course, we all know this. But, what's confusing is that the myths keep coming and they often look like the truth! The media, websites, blogs, and even trainers (yes, trainers) are out there perpetuating the problems. Why? Well, sometimes ignorance sells. It's great to place blame in places that 'should' make sense. Of COURSE you gained 3 pounds because you after after 8:16pm last night. Oh, you DEFINITELY need that new blueberry super fab fitness shake for $29.99 to 'tone up'. And, who knows why you're the only one that hasn't lost any weight on your 3 hour daily walks. Sound silly? It is! Here are 5 fitness myths that your friends, family and even the internet keeps bringing up. They're full of it. Let's keep FIT simple.

1. Doing abdominal exercises will cause you to LOSE belly fat.

We can't blame you here, this sounds AWESOME. Knock out 200 crunches a day and you're golden, right? Unfortunately, wrong. We don't get to decide where our body fat decreases first, this is mostly decided by genetics. But, that's not altogether bad news! Weight training is a part of the answer here; it's key for boosting metabolism, gaining lean muscle mass and torching body fat. Solid, consistent nutrition is the bigger part of the answer. Feed your body fitly, not fatly. And stop doing crunches. Yes, really. There are much better core-centric exercises you should be knockin' out to cut the fats and up your fitness level!

2. Women will get bulky if they lift heavy, they should be 'toning'.

Ok, did you know 'toning' is a word from the 80's? Can you think of any other ridiculous terms from that decade that we laugh at now? Everyone was also eating low-fat everything then too, look where that got us (don't know? stay tuned, more on that soon). There is no such thing as toning. Women will not get bulky if they lift heavy. You will not get bulky if you lift heavy. If you add a well written weight training program (we know exactly how to help here) to your fitness plan, along with solid nutrition, you will torch the fat that currently hangs out on top of your strong muscles. Even better, that muscle will grow and look LONG and LEAN. Not big and bulky.

3. Fat turns into muscle. I'm not exactly sure why this is still 'a thing', but to this day I see it in dozens of Facebook groups (find a GOOD source of info on our FB Page). People still believe (from one 'trusted' magazine article to another) that this process is as simple as fat to muscle and muscle to fat. You're lucky it's not, that sounds terrible. So what DOES happen? There are two distinct processes when shaping up. One, we create a caloric deficit through our activity to LOSE fat. Two, we eat at or over our caloric to gain muscle. 'So wait, are you saying BOTH don't happen at once?' Well, not always. BUT, usually. If your goal is to lose body fat, then we create a program through training and nutrition that will allow you to lose fat which will SHOW that hard earned MUSCLE!

4. Don't eat fat if you want to lose fat. Did you see the mention about those 'low-fat' foods of the 80's. Well, that info is extremely dated. Welcome to 2016. You need to consume certain types of fats to LOSE fat. Ditch the low fat foods, there's a good chance they're doing more harm than good. Fats are important in that they regulate hormones (this is GOOD) and make use of necessary vitamins. Hey, fats also help regulate your appetite, this is clutch! Look for healthy fats in nuts, avocado, and EVOO. We'll talk more about this soon, but for now let's keep it simple. Eat fat to lose fat. Check the portion size of your favorite healthy fatty foods before you dip into that sugary peanut butter jar.

5. Don't eat after 8pm if you want to lose weight. This is another myth that seems to just stick around year after year. Your body does not know what time it is. Trust me. Let's step back a moment and think. What types of foods do folks usually eat after 8pm? Mhmm. Now you see where we're going with this. Late night menus usually consist of ice cream, candy, chips, dip, 1... maybe 2 bottles of wine, extra large burritos and worse. It doesn't matter WHAT time you consume those things, they'll usually put you into a large calorie overload for the day not to mention sending your body into a downward spiral of internal health. Prepare some healthy snacks if you get late night munchies (ahead of time). Eat properly throughout the day (starving yourself won't get you anywhere) so you're not reaching for whatever is in a 2 foot radius come 9pm.

We could go on for pages about the horrible, terrible, no good 'fitness information' you're being inundated with on a daily (almost hourly, thanks to social media) basis. Unfortunately, this is an industry of 'everyone is an expert'. Including friends, friends of friends and your 93 year old grandmother. We'll bring you more and more real information to keep you on the right side of your fitness. Stick around!

Want more of this info right to your inbox? Well, get on the list and join the community! Head to our welcome page to learn more about LIVFIT and get signed up for our newsletter and free offers!

Want to contact Coach Amelia? Shoot her an email at amelia@livingfitly.com