5 Tips To Stop Worrying About What To Eat

August 03, 2015

Have you ever stopped to think about how much time and effort you spend thinking, planning and actually preparing what you eat?

Perhaps you fall into the same trap as many of the women I work with in the sense that you end up spending more time worrying about what you are going to eat rather than actually planning and preparing your meals. 

Today we are going to talk about some of my favourite tools to combat this challenge of wasting precious time worrying about what to eat. We can all agree that making healthy choices, lean choices and choices that support our goals is our main focus when it comes to food, yes? Well I’d like to take that one step further. I want you to find simple work-arounds so that you do not need to squander valuable mental energy on worrying about if your food choices are good or not. Our goal is to shift our main focus toward stress-free strategies for lean, healthy eating. 

We need to understand that our mental energy is one of our most valuable possessions. When it runs out like it tends to at the end of the week, or after stressful work deadlines or a crazy day with the kids, our decision making capacity is extremely unreliable. It’s no wonder that many of us report making our worst food decisions at the end of the day or on a Friday afternoon when our mental energy is often at its’ lowest point. Rather than spending our valuable mental energy worrying about our food choices, we need to understand that worry costs us energy. We want to conserve our mental energy so we have better decision making power around food no matter which day of the week.

Here’s one thing for you to consider: Does worrying about what you eat actually help you make better choices? Or is it mental aerobics that we engage in because we think it will help us to stay more accountable?

I’d say it’s the latter. For you, my educated readers, you know what to eat. If I put three different meals in front of you, I am confident that you could pick out the leanest, healthiest option. So why do we spend so much of our time and energy doing this mental dance?

Should I have the burger, what about the bun? How about sodium in that stirfry? Well I’m not so sure about red meat, I heard it’s bad for you. And a boiled egg in a chopped salad, that’s bad too isn’t it? Maybe I’ll have a salad, but that dressing seems really creamy. Maybe the lettuce wraps then. Ugh. I don’t know. I’ll just go for the pizza.

Let’s jump in with some concrete tools you can start using today. I’d like you to get honest with yourself about how much mental energy you are currently spending on your food choices. We’ve got to cut that down and streamline our decision making process. This helps us to worry less and make better decisions more often.

1. Recognize your worrying patterns.

If you’re anything like me then this is how worrying tends to work out in my world: Worry leads to stress. Stress leads to overwhelm. Overwhelm leads to giving up. When I worry about every little detail in my eating strategy, I do not make better decisions around food. I stress more. I get overwhelmed a heck of a lot faster and I throw in the towel and make impulsive decisions.

The first step to breaking this pattern is to admit that worry is not helping us eat leaner. It is a waste of time, and a distraction from actually making a decision. But worrying is a habit and just like any other repetitive action, we get better at what we practice. You may be an awesome worrier from all the practice you’ve had, and in order to give this up, you’ll need a better strategy to make decisions around food.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Remember what happens when we get overwhelmed? Our knowledge and willpower go out the window, so we need a way to cut through the crap and figure out what really matters. 

This is why I focus on simple, nutritional strategies each day and eat mostly real, whole food. These are things that now take less that one minute of my time. I know I’m getting protein at every meal. I know that two litres of water is my hydration plan through the day and that at least one meal will have loads of veggies. This is literally where I place the majority of my focus around food.

Yes, I have practiced this simple strategy for a few years now, and remember, we get better at what we practice. So worrying about sodium intake, calories and sugar is not part of my practice.

Without a doubt there will be a few readers questioning how we can make strides with our nutrition when we focus on so little. But I think it’s actually the only way. Calorie counting and tracking macronutrients is a massive drain on our mental energy. These strategies work well in the short term and extremely terribly in the long term. 

3. A simple strategy is one that lasts.

We know that consistency is the most important aspect of any nutrition plan. If we’ve got the most stellar program that is uber healthy, super lean and nutritionally stacked and we can’t stick with it, then it’s not a good plan for us.

I will pick a simple eating strategy that works in my life over a complicated one that takes all my mental energy every time.

The biggest challenge we will face with adopting the simplicity mindset is distraction. But what about organic food? But what about preservatives? But what about saturated fat? Listen, these things matter. But they don’t matter if you consistently find yourself overwhelmed and heading back to the same old peanut butter on toast because it’s all your brain can handle.

4. Spend less time considering all your options. 

Getting stuck in the consideration trap was a common theme for me for a number of years. I would spend time and effort considering all my food options, assessing which choice was best, which menu item had more sodium or calories or grams of fat. 

The sneaky part here is that this process is encouraged by many nutrition professionals. Tips including 'search the menu and consider all the options in front of you' are a recipe for disaster. Bringing in multiple choices only leads to more decision fatigue. My strategy these days is that I know I'll be ordering something with a lean source of protein and veggies. This gives me a few options to choose from without having to consider the whole menu. 

Sure I'll minimize calories by putting dressing on the side or skipping the croutons on a salad, but this is monkey level decision making for me now. Not because I am better than anyone else or because I know more than I used to, but because I have actively practiced considering less. 

Not choosing a strategy is a choice. Not standing for something when it comes to the way you eat is also a choice. My experience has been that when I began to take all the options out of my food decision making process, it became much easier. I made the choice that I would stick to a few easy principles and voila, less worry and so much more energy for good decisions.

5. Draw some lines in the sand.

This is the part when we get serious. What really matters to you when it comes to eating, physical results and your lifestyle? Drawing lines in the sand will help us to make more consistent decisions. 

For my girlfriend Vanessa of Organic Please, what really matters to her is getting organic food at every meal. This is her passion, and helps direct every decision she makes.

For me it’s balancing my blood sugar with fibre and protein at every meal. This helps me stay fuller for longer, burn fat more effectively and battle cravings for starch or sugar.

I want you to start to draw lines in the sand. Just a couple lines that you can focus on and consistently execute. This can be tough to do as it is easy to want to draw 100 lines in the sand. I’ll just jump in here again and say our goal is to create stress-free healthy, lean eating strategies, not overwhelming ones.

Start by tapping into your beliefs. Do you believe that eating real food over packaged stuff is where its at? Then get busy doing that.

Do you want to jump onto the protein + veggies at most meals train with me? Get down to the store and into the head space that this is how you eat. Limit distractions and say no to that tempting worry habit.

Alright team, time for you to head on out and get busy making your simple, daily decisions about food. Your health and energy will sky rocket when you quit worrying and start making more simple decisions with less mental aerobics. 

Let’s go!

Lana 

How To Crush Your Goals Without Going Crazy

July 20, 2015

I have a long standing relationship with goal setting. I'd like to think it goes all the way back to elementary school, perhaps grade five when we started to get 'letter grades' on our report cards. Having a goal was something that I talked about with my parents frequently, whether it was letter grade related or to do with my next soccer game or upcoming figure skating competition. I was always planning, studying and looking ahead to the next challenge. Describing me as a type 'A' child would be an understatement. 

This desire for achievement continued for the next decade or so. I worked hard to get scholarships, and to continue on to University. Looking back now, I know my challenge was that I didn't enjoy the pressure I put on myself in the majority of these circumstances. Sure, getting good grades and playing on many different sports teams provided amazing lessons and memories, but I remember being quite stressed growing up. 

Around the time I graduated from University, my entire life landscape changed. Gone were the exams, lab tests and papers. Gone were the figure skating competitions and skills tests. 

I went off to work in the real world at retail giant Lululemon Athletica, and as a part time personal trainer and fitness instructor around the city of Calgary, gaining experience for what I really wanted to do which was create a career in the fitness industry. When I started out folding yoga pants at Lululemon, we had a suggested reading list of personal development books to supplement our work. I was back in my haven of achievement, trying to get better, setting physical goals and running marathons while reading 'Goals' by Brian Tracy and 'Pour Your Heart Into It' by Howard Schultz. 

But this time it was different. We could call it maturity, although I don't actually think I was that mature at the time. I had grown tired of my old, tried, tested and true way of achieving things. I was over being stressed all the time and pushing myself to tears, exhaustion and emotional instability.  

The next decade was like a back and forth tug of war of me shedding my old type A habits, and trying to find a new, more satisfying way of striving for positive growth. What is the point of going for a goal if you're just going to stress the hell out of yourself the whole way? Why not seek enjoyment in the process and go for what you want? 

Achievement and enjoyment are not mutally exclusive.

Just over a year ago I found one of the most transformational tools that has helped me on this path. I purchased The Desire Map from Vancouver author Danielle LaPorte and was immediately hooked on the idea of creating 'goals with soul' as Danielle calls them.

The Desire Map came with me to Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Bali. I spilled lemongrass tea on it and smudged red wine off the cover. I wrote in pencil when I wasn't feeling confident and in red pen when I wanted to believe in what I was writing. 

Sometimes there are books or movies or speeches that strike a cord inside you and get you to live your life a little differently. This is one of those books for me. There are more pages with the corners folded over than not. I learned to identify my Core Desired Feelings and these influence the goals I make, jobs I take and workout schedule I follow. 

I now know I want to feel Freedom, Compassion, Strong and Grateful...my Core Desired Feelings! Here is a little teaser for you to get a feel of what my goal setting looks like these days. 

  • Rather than ask myself what I want to have, I ask myself how I want to feel
  • Rather than look at what other people are doing and say 'I want to be like them' I ask myself what I could add or take away from my life to achieve my Core Desired Feelings. 
  • I use my negative feelings as wake up calls, not as defeatist thoughts like I used to. Every emotion is valuable, says Danielle.

The irony is not lost on me that the straight A girl who cried when she got her first 'B' on a report card is moving away from quantification and striving for quality of life. It is just as surprising that the stressed out kid who worried constantly is finding joy in the journey, not only the destination. 

Sure, many of you will say this way of going for your goals is too woo-woo, and that is all good too. There is more than one path for each of us to follow, but I know that this one feels so good. So today, when you are sweating in the gym, eating your veggies and practicing compassion towards yourself and others, ask yourself, am I enjoying what I have taken on in this very moment? Or am I only doing this to arrive at a made up destination? 

To a journey that feels good along the way, have a glorious week and don't forget to grab your copy of The Desire Map for a fabulous way to go deep with your goals. I have given this book as a gift to a few of my closest friends and they love it! 

Lana

How To Tackle The Grocery Store Like A Boss

July 17, 2015

Today I'd like to talk to you about the grocery store. What is it like when you head down to Safeway, Whole Foods or your local grocery joint? Do you have a plan? Do you enjoy shopping? Or do you go with your gut and follow the 'I'll buy what I feel like right now approach?'

My goal for this post is to give you a few of my favourite, simple tools to make better choices when you are filling your fridge for the week. Grocery shopping is actually not that tough. It's got to be a combination of having a plan and putting your blinders on to avoid a few common temptations. 

You've likely heard the old (and good) advice to stick to the perimeter of the store while shopping, and I love that tip. It's true, all the whole, unprocessed foods are found around the edges of the store, while the aisles are chock full of less lean, healthy choices. But we need a little more advice than this, don't we? What exactly do we put in our carts to shift the dial on our waistlines and energy levels. Well I've got just the answer for you:

Follow the Metabolic Effect Label Rule for all packaged products. 

This is the easiest label rule reading lesson I can give you. When you do venture into those middle aisles and pick up a packaged product like yogurt, protein bars or snacks use this three step tool.

Step One: Find the total carbohydrates in grams written on the back of the package.

Step Two: Deduct the grams of fibre from the total carbohydrates.

Step Three: Then deduct the grams of protein from that number. You want the final number to be 10 or less in order for the product to find a place in your basket.  

 

My girlfriends reading labels on our recent trip to Portland, Oregon.

The point of the label rule is to help determine how much a certain product is going to raise your blood sugar and know if it will keep you full for a few hours (fibre and protein do that) or just 20 minutes. You'll also want to keep the total grams of fat under 15 as this is a way for us to keep our caloric intake relatively lower. Remember, fat is important for keeping us full and providing a myriad of health benefits, but it does contain more calories per gram compared to carbohydrate and fat and we need to be aware of the amounts we are consuming. 

Do not go to the store when you are hungry and lack a plan.

We have all done this. Going to the store hungry is just a bad idea. We spend more money, we buy more packaged food, and we often end up opening a bag of something to chomp down on for the drive home. Eat a small snack or even down half of your water bottle before you hit the store. Your wallet and waistline will thank you. 

Almost as detrimental as going to the store hungry, is going to the store with no plan of attack. You can download my Lean Eating Grocery List to help you plan your next trip to the store. Which veggies and lean proteins will you pick up? What recipes are you planning to make? What treat or non-negotiable food will you add to your cart? You've got to have a plan to determine what foods are going to make their way into your home. 

Buy one non-negotiable food. 

I am not a fan of the fill your cart with 100% whole food, veggie, lean protein and healthy fats plan. I am a fan of the 95% version though! Listen, if you're anything like me, trying not to buy at least one of my favourite not-so-healthy-and-lean options usually ends up backfiring and I'll want dessert or an extra helping of my healthy dinner. 

The answer to consistently eating well is to consistently have satisfaction built into your diet. Buying a dark chocolate bar or blue tortilla chips is part of my lean eating strategy, and I pick one of my non-negotiable foods every time I go to the store. You know, something I will not ever negotiate about giving up - that is a non-negotiable. For my Mom, it's cream in her coffee, for my girlfriend Kristy, it's Doritos. You get the drift. 

If you follow anything on your next trip to the store, I hope it is this: try your best not to enter mindless mode as you walk through the front doors of the grocer. Stay aware, choose wisely and know that if you buy something, you will eat it. So picking up a massive bag of popcorn likely means that you will eat a massive bag of popcorn!

Good luck on your next grocery shopping trip, drop me a line and let me know how you do, 

Lana

 

Do you live in the Calgary area? Looking to change your strategy at the grocery store?

Join me for a small group grocery store tour at Planet Organic's Mrs. Green's location. We'll spend about 30 minutes discussing our topic for the evening, draw for some great prizes and give you tons of tools and tricks to read labels like a pro and learn what to keep and toss from your grocery basket. Join our next tour HERE

Why Loving Your Body Is The Key To Lasting Change

June 28, 2015

This is the type of article I would have skimmed over a few years ago. Back then I just wanted to figure out the secrets of how to get some abs all year long! That sounds ridiculously superficial when I say it, but alas it is true.

At the point I am describing, I was many years into my journey of body change. I had lost weight, gained a little, lost a lot more, gotten to my leanest and felt happy, sad, unfulfilled, satisfied and frustrated along the way. I remember thinking that all the other crap about body acceptance was cool, I understood where it was coming from and I was grateful for all my body did for me. 

But I still tried to motivate myself to change from a place of not-good-enough.

When I ate according to the rules I had made for myself, that was tied to feelings of happiness, value and worthiness. When I ate any way other than ‘how to eat for fat loss’ I was mindless, suppressed the guilt I felt and I now can see how it affected how I thought of myself.

Wow. Even today I am just realizing how much I thought I would be a better trainer, girlfriend and overall fit person if I looked a certain way.

I remember one day I was walking (of course, this is when all my brilliant ideas happen! Haha!) and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

‘I can be a great trainer BECAUSE of all that I have been through. I do not need to look a certain way, be able to lift a certain amount or wear a certain size.’

This was the point I knew I had to start writing about my experiences. I had a unique point of view. I had been there, I could be compassionate with my clients, I could help them not only learn to ‘eat for fat loss’ but to love themselves through the process!

I had experienced fat loss without the mindset shift, and it was fleeting and unfulfilling. It was not a lifestyle change at that point for me. When I practiced the tools listed below I found fat loss, consistency and felt great.

So how do we even start this seemingly impossible process?

Start with one small grateful body thought each day.

There are a few ways in which to practice body gratitude daily. I like to do this before I go to bed at night. When I close my eyes and think of all the people I am thankful for in my life, I add in a thought of gratitude for my body. Whether it is making it through another day, helping me move or being thankful for my strength I focus on one aspect of what my body CAN and DOES do for me daily.  

Quit using guilt as a motivational tool.

You know what this feels like - I have to go for a run or else I will....gain weight, not fit into my pants etc. The issue lies in us believing that guilt is a useful tool for motivation. IT IS NOT. AT ALL. Ok maybe in the extreme short term, but that is it!

The most consistent exercisers approach movement as self-care, enjoyment and do it for how it makes us feel. If we know that consistency is key for long term results, start adopting some feel-good motivational tools to help get you started.  

Recognize that your thoughts form your reality.

Want a peaceful relationship with food, exercise and your body? That will be tough to create when the only messages you send yourself are negative and all about how you have to change.

Thoughts are habits just like searching in the cupboards after dinner. In order to change our thoughts, we know that suppression does not work. Kelly McGonigal of Stanford University writes about this in her book The Willpower Instinct. When we try to stop the negative self-talk by suppressing it, the words come up again and again. The best way to change how you talk to yourself is to let the negative thoughts come up and actively choose a different way of thinking.

Consider a thought like this ‘I hate my legs, they look huge/fat/whatever’ and change it to ‘My legs are the key to movement, I love the strength they provide me.’  You may think it sounds silly, but this is the first step to believing in yourself.

#changenegativeselftalk #now

The balance of learning how to eat for fat loss and body change is still a worthwhile endeavour! But it is clearly not the only aspect of lasting change. This is why we approach lifestyle change from a holistic perspective in my inner circle of women - The Blast Fitness Lifestyle Club. Registration is closed until July 6th but you can sign up for the waiting list HERE to be the first to hear about openings and specials. 

Can’t wait to here your thoughts about this post! I’ll be waiting for you on our Blast Fitness Facebook Page.

Lana xox

 

Crispy Chickpea & Kale Salad

June 17, 2015

I had a can of chickpeas that had been sitting in my pantry for awhile. Like so long that I was worried that the expiry date may have past (do you know how long cans of chickpeas last for? YEARS!) Anyways, I normally rinse off chickpeas and throw them into my vitamix with olive oil, lemon, tahini and fresh roasted garlic for a tasty homemade hummus, but this past weekend I wanted something different. 

With a craving for something salty and crunchy I decided to make some crispy roasted chickpeas, and by the time I was finished cooking I wanted something even more filling so I created the Crispy Chickpea & Kale salad. 

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas

olive oil cooking spray

coarse sea salt

freshly ground black peppercorns

2 kale leaves

1 cup chopped green or purple cabbage

1 cup chopped broccoli stems (or the broccoli slaw you can buy in a bag)

1/2 lemon

olive oil

balsamic reduction

This recipe makes 4 side salads or 2 larger salads. Great for a side dish or as a whole meal for a couple days. 

The toasting of the chickpeas can be a bit finicky, but works well if you use the following procedures: rinse the chickpeas well and pat dry with a paper towel. While the oven is preheating to 350F, toss the chickpeas onto a baking sheet and dry further (about 2-3 minutes) in the oven. If the chickpeas are at all wet when you spray with olive oil, it is much harder to get them crispy. 

Once the oven has reached 350F lightly spray the dried chickpeas with olive oil spray (I have a bottle of olive oil from Italy with a spray top on it which is amazing for roasting and using just the right amount of oil compared to pouring) and sprinkle coarse sea salt and black pepper on top. 

Cook for 5 minutes at a time, taking the baking sheet out of the oven and using a spatula to toss the chickpeas around each time to ensure even baking. Repeat a total of 4-5 times for 20-25 minutes total cooking time. You want the chickpeas to be crispy, slightly split open and not burnt. 

Let the chickpeas cool while you prepare your salad. Chop kale, cabbage and broccoli slaw very finely and place into a bowl dress with olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon and a drizzle of balsamic reduction to taste. Go for the lowest effective dose with your salad dressing. Place chickpeas on top and enjoy! 

I used the extra chickpeas I had to serve as a healthy, salty snack. Another great way to get protein & fibre!