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!

 

3 Big Lessons From My First Thirty Years

June 16, 2015

In the days and weeks leading up to my 30th birthday I have been asked numerous times about how I feel about entering the next decade of my life. The honest answer is that I pause and say 'I feel grateful and excited for what is to come' and I do feel this way.

But the pause is important, because it has become a part of my daily practice when it comes to using my mindset to my advantage. I don't always say what comes to mind first, I say what I have spent a fair amount of the last few years creating: an attitude of gratitude and choice.  

I could easily say I am frustrated to turn 30, that I wish I had more money in my savings account or that I had ran a faster marathon or that I didn't have so many gray hairs sprouting on my head daily. But I choose not to focus on those things. I choose to focus on the fact that getting older is a gift that not everyone gets to have. I choose to focus on all that I have learned about myself over the past 30 years of this crazy thing called life. 

So today, the first lesson I want to share with you is a big one, it has changed every aspect of my life. My relationship with my husband, my family and my friends. It has changed my relationship with food, with money and my outlook on life. 

You are not your feelings. 

Ahhh. As a total feeling-centered person, this was a tough one for me to learn. But if I am not my feelings, then how do I know if I am being true to myself or not? If I do not listen to my feelings then what do I listen to?

Feelings come from a variety of sources including fear, hope, insecurity, frustration, excitement, impatience and they are not always true. Practicing naming and noticing your feelings as they come up and not always acting upon them is one of the toughest and best tools you can use to improve your relationship with food, money and other people!

Think back to a time when you have had a stressful day. You feel like heading to the kitchen and having something sweet, or salty or both. Really, what you are looking for is decompression, correct? And food is not always the best tool for this. Having a bath, lying on the couch with tea or talking to someone can be much more relaxing than a momentary serotonin-induced sweet. 

 

The practice of noticing and naming your feelings and not acting on them is essentially a form of mindfulness. It is the opposite of impulsive activity and it takes time to master. For me, mastering the next lesson actually made it easier to create space between me and my feelings. 

Know your love language and the love language of those closest to you. 

Taken from the book 'The 5 Love Languages', this theory states that we all have dominant ways of giving and receiving love. We usually give and receive love primarily in the same love language, but that is not necessarily the same way our friends and family communicate.

The five love languages include quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and my primary love language which is words of affection. The best way to determine your primary language is to read the book (it is a fast, easy and eye opening read) but you may have an inkling of how you communicate love to those around you. 

This is more than simply romantic love, think about how you show appreciation for your friends or your children. My Mom would always talk to us affectionately and prioritize communication, so I believe that words of affection are likely her love language. Whereas my Dad spent hours playing sports with my brother and I, cooking our family dinners and driving us to countless hockey and soccer practices, so his love language is likely quality time or acts of service. 

Knowing that my own way of showing affection to others is usually through words (spoken, or written...go figure!) helped me to realize why I value honest conversation, and speaking to my family on a daily basis. My husband's way of showing love is through acts of service, so he tends to fix things, be very helpful and do things for me.

Spending the time figuring out how those closest to you give and receive love is vital to feeling connected and appreciated. You can speak their language to show you care. I hate changing lightbulbs and cleaning, but I do it because I know my husband appreciates it. He is not a gushy person but always says I love you and goodnight wherever he is in the world because it makes my day. 

The final lesson I want to share with you is all about inspiring those around you by being real and uplifting. 

Share your struggles and most importantly, what you do to get past them. 

I'll never forget the day I was giving a lunch and learn presentation on nutrition (you know, clean eating, vegetables and stuff) and one of the participants raised his hand and exclaimed 'I don't know if we are at the same level, you see, you've never eaten a whole pizza before'

I was taken aback because of course I have eaten a whole pizza before. But clearly, I wasn't sharing that information freely. I was focusing constantly on talking about veggies and salads and getting enough protein. I think there was a part of me that thought 'I don't want other people to know that I have eaten a whole pizza, because then they will think I am some kind of fraud'.

Deep down I think many of us have a fear of being found out. Like what if everyone realized that I struggle with the same things that they do? Would they stop listening?

But honesty and transparency are so important. They let others see us as humans who struggle and are not perfect. Our struggles really are universal. We all have such similar challenges, they are just dressed in different clothes, in different households with different names. 

The more I shared tools that I use to combat things like staying up late, drinking more than two glasses of wine, my love of coffee, stopping at a drive thru and wanting chocolate every day, the more results and resonance happened. 

As a special offer to celebrate my 30th birthday, I have put my Balanced Meal Blueprint on sale until tomorrow. You can grab your copy here, for 30% off the regular price. It is my pride and joy, a 3 week process to help you quit calorie counting, portion size obsessing (traps that I have fallen into in the past and overcome with the exact tools I give you in this guide) and learn to make healthy, lean and simple meals that support your goals. With over 20 recipes, a 21 day journal and an accompanying mindset guide, it is the first step to a consistent eating plan that works while traveling eating out and at home. 

So my hope for my next thirty years is to be more open, more honest, more transparent and more inspiring through being exactly who I am, feelings, words and all. How about you? 

As always, thank you for reading my words of affection,  

 

Lana

How To Kick Your Cravings & Live A Lean Life

May 28, 2015

I give in to almost every single craving...

It's true! That wasn't just a sneaky opening line to get you to read this post. Today we are going to talk all about what cravings are, what causes them and how to be successful in your efforts to combat cravings. 

 

A handful of years ago I actually experienced an immense amount of cravings on a daily basis. I told myself I had a sweet tooth, when in actual fact I had an everything tooth! A sweet tooth, salty tooth, wine tooth...you get the picture. My cravings were a direct result of a number of factors: what I ate, what I drank, how much I slept and the amount of exercise I participated in.

 

Let's get started from the top and discuss why your food choices, hydration habits, sleeping routine and exercise schedule dictate the amount and severity of the cravings you will experience. 

 

What is a craving?

A craving is a brain made sensation that creates a desire for a certain taste - sweet, sour, salty or savory. Cravings can also create the desire for escape, stress reduction or relaxation. 

 

What causes a craving?

Cravings are caused mostly by imbalanced hormones. The challenge with this answer is that hormones are something of a buzz topic in the health and wellness industry right now. Imbalanced hormones happen to all of us, all day, every day. When we experience hunger, this is due to an increase in our hunger hormone Ghrelin.  You could argue that feeling hungry is a hormonally imbalanced state. There is nothing wrong with being hungry, we eat and then ghrelin production ceases. But cravings happen when we have chronically imbalanced hormones. 

 

So how do you go about combating cravings?

There are five steps in the combat cravings plan. When I focus on even a couple of these items I notice a stark difference in my ability to overcome cravings because I simply do not experience as many as I used to!

Limit sugary, starchy, refined foods. 

Ok, I know this one sounds crazy. In order to stop craving sweets and refined carbohydrates, we need to stop eating them as often? Yep, that is correct.

 

Unfortunately, a lot of quick snack foods like muffins, cookies, crackers and candy actually create a hormonal and mental state that increases cravings. When we stop eating these types of foods as frequently, we experience less cravings for them. This is one of the main reasons I go out for a warm, freshly baked muffin once a week. This is one of my favourite foods and I love my ritual, but having a muffin every day or every other day actually leads me to crave more sugary, starchy foods. How do I know? I tried that strategy...and its true, a muffin a day creates a muffin top, ha! 

 

Adopting this approach has also helped me to change my palate over the years. I crave sugar less because I eat it less. Fresh berries, dark chocolate or real maple syrup are plenty sweet enough for me these days. And yes, I used to be a sugar-aholic, just ask my old roommate Amy about the sugary things I used to bring home!

 

 

Drink enough water

Before you skip right by this one and say 'yada, yada I know I need to drink water' hear me out. This one MATTERS. To this day I feel a sharp increase in cravings for sweets when I am dehydrated. I'll make this simple for you:

You need to be drinking at least 2 litres of plain water each day, for your health and to combat cravings. Being adequately hydrated tells your brain and cells to lower hunger signals and supports regular cell functioning. This means we are much less likely to feel the need for a quick sugar kick to keep our energy up. 

Get enough sleep

Sleeping less than 6 hours a night changes our entire hormonal situation. We secrete more Ghrelin (our main hunger hormone that is also involved in craving creation) and we secrete less Human Growth Hormone (a hormone that is vital in helping our muscles recover). 

 

The combination of higher Ghrelin and lower Human Growth Hormone does wonders to make our cravings ramp up. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is a great goal to help you experience less craving craziness. 

 

Follow a smart exercise plan

When we increase our exercise duration, one of the first hormonal changes we see is an increase in Ghrelin. This hormone is produced by our stomach and is responsible for the empty, growling feeling we experience in our gut. The more we exercise, the more our appetite increases. 

 

When I stopped teaching hours of fitness classes each week I noticed a sharp decrease in my hunger and cravings. I am certainly not telling you to stop doing what you love, but if your biofeedback cues are out of control, then changing up your exercise routine to include more targeted training rather than simply hours of exercise duration will do wonders for your craving levels. 

 

Give in to cravings with a strategy

As I said, I give in to almost every craving I have these days. To be fair, I experience very low amounts of cravings as compared to 3-4 years ago, but I also have a better strategy when I want something sweet. I listen to my body, I rarely use willpower because I know it will boomerang back into a bigger craving later, I keep dark chocolate in the house and limited other sweets, I have small bites and then get out of the kitchen and do something else.

 

The key to mastering your cravings is to create a lifestyle in which you have minimal cravings to start with! Then, like I told you in the opening sentence, you can give in to most of the cravings you have because they simply will not happen as often as you may be experiencing at this current moment in time.

 

Kicking cravings to the curb is vital when it comes to living a lean lifestyle, and the only way to see sustainable change is to begin taking the steps to create a lifestyle shift. Your lifestyle is how you LIVE. Join me for the next 5 weeks as I coach you on all the ways to eat, move and think for a lean life. My newest program The Lean Living Jumpstart is open for registration until Saturday May 30th only. Grab your fully designed workout schedule including videos, a 30 page nutrition guide with recipes and a flexible menu plan and access to our private coaching group plus oodles more from June 1 - July 5 when you sign up HERE

 

Have a great weekend and hope to see you in our fabulous jumpstart group this June!

 

Lana

 

 

The best post-workout meal formula

May 17, 2015

In case you weren't already aware, there are about one million different opinions on nutrition in the health and fitness industry. I support ideas that are research based, logical and most importantly, functional in our everyday lives. I mean, even if there is a strategy that is completely scientifically sound but we cannot put it to work in our life, it is not a great option for us, right?!

 

This month I am laying out all of my lean habits for you and today we are going to talk about post-workout nutrition. What we eat after our workouts impacts our energy levels, our body composition and our future performance. 

 

You see, a meal that we eat post-workout does need to meet a couple important requirements that in turn help us to recover, help us build lean muscle mass and help us continue on with our day effectively. Post-workout meals are a little different than meals we eat at other times during the day, and this is why:

Embrace the post-workout window

There is a specific time period after a workout when our body uses food differently compared to other times during the day. The 30-60 minute post-workout window is ideal for a recovery meal because the hormonal situation of our digestive system is different. 

 

Remember, when we eat we release a hormone named insulin whose primary role is to lower our blood sugar levels and store calories as fat for future use. Post-workout, an increase in our insulin levels is a GOOD THING. This initiates a cascade of reactions in our body to help us build more muscle mass. We want help increasing our lean mass (regardless if your goal is to look toned, lose body fat or improve performance, lean muscle mass is vital) and this post-workout insulin increase via eating a certain type of meal accomplishes this goal.

Eat a combination of starchy carbohydrates + protein

The type of meal that helps to increase our insulin levels, which we want post-workout, must contain starchy complex carbohydrates. Foods like brown rice, quinoa, yams, oats, bulgur, millet, potatoes and parsnips all fit the bill here. The less processed the starchy carb, the better. Starch after exercise also helps to refuel our muscles for energy and performance at our next workout which is vital for consistency and results. 

 

Not only do we need a starchy carbohydrate source, we need to include a complete source of protein. Foods like chicken, fish, pork, beef and eggs are my favourite ways to eat enough lean protein after a workout. There are many vegetarian sources of protein like hemp seeds, chia seeds, greek yogurt and beans that will also work. Protein is important for helping our muscles recover and lay down more fibres to gain strength and size. 

 

 

One of my fave post-workout meals - a big quinoa salad loaded with veggies and chicken.

Keep your choices lean & clean

We could certainly take the post-workout formula of starchy carbohydrates + protein and run with it to make our favourite foods fit the requirements like pizza: starchy carbs make up the crust and sausage or pepperoni could count as protein. Our results will be negatively affected when we choose more processed foods like cheeseburgers and french fries (another example of carbs and protein). This is exactly why I choose to eat these foods once in awhile. I like pizza, it tastes great, but it is not part of my regular, every day post-workout nutrition. 

Watch the fat content 

Ok, this is a great example of when a good dose of dietary fat is not a great choice. You guys know I am a huge fan of eating enough fat as it helps to keep us fuller for longer and is VITAL for a lasting fat loss diet. Yes, we need to eat fat in order to be effective fat burners. But dietary fat like avocado, nuts, cheese and fattier cuts of meat slow our digestion, and post-workout we want faster absorption of nutrients to get that muscle building, recovery formula working for us. I save my favourite sources of fat for other meals during the day. 

 

Some of my favourite real life post-workout meals include a big quinoa salad with tons of veggies and chicken, tuna in an ancient grains wrap, roasted yams with a bun-less burger and even sushi with tuna and brown rice.

 

When it comes to lean habits, let's remember that we want to have simple strategies that are easy to implement into our lives every day. I think that post-workout nutrition is an important area to master and it doesn't have to be too complicated. Figure out a few simple post-workout meals that you love and keep them as your go-to options. 

 

You will not always nail this formula perfectly, but do your best based on your circumstances and reap the lean rewards. I have practiced the same strategy for my post-workout meals for years and I think it has helped me stay on track with workouts, energy and helped me gain lean muscle too.

 

Enjoy!

 

Lana

 

P.S. If you want to be the first to know about my new strength and nutrition program coming out this June, join the waitlist HERE for a special discount and exclusive give aways.