Need a Better Booty?

 

Not getting the booty exercise results you are aiming for can leave you feeling like you should be joining Saggy Butts Anonymous, rather than reaching for that sexy new bikini you bought last year.

While you may not be striving to be as ‘Bootylicious’ as Destiny’s Child, you may be wondering how can I increase my glute strength? How can I get a perkier butt? How can I lose the chicken butt?

Getting the right butt exercise results is the #1 thing that I see girls struggle with. Either they are quad dominant or hamstring dominant, and they do not know how to change this. Any attempts to build a perky butt just results in their thighs getting bigger or leaving them with back pain.

What are you talking about Courtney?

My bad, let me explain.

When you are quad or hamstring dominant, it means that you transfer the force of your workouts into these areas instead of your butt, so you do not see the booty exercise results that you should.  This is part of the reason I had so many issues for a while, my glutes simply would not fire.

If you have ever finished a booty workout and found that the next day either your hamstrings or quads are suffering, then you more than likely fall into this category.

Or, you could be suffering from sleepy butt syndrome…

WHAT IS SLEEPY BUTT SYNDROME?

When you sit for extended periods of time (as is extremely common in many lines of work), your booty can fall into a kind of ‘booty amnesia’. This is otherwise known as sleepy butt syndrome.

Your gluteal muscles ‘sleep’ due to being inactive and overstretched, and other parts of your body such as hips, shoulder and pec muscles become overactive to compensate.

This can transform into your workouts, and we can relate this back to being quad or hamstring dominant as well.

Not activating your glute muscles effectively means that other parts of your body do all the hard work, and your butt just gets… well… lazy…. and you have consistently weak glute muscles.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR GLUTES ARE NOT ACTIVATED?

As I mentioned earlier, you will certainly know if you are not activating your glutes if you wake up with sore hamstrings or quads after a butt workout.

You may also have that tired and achy muscle feeling in your butt after prolonged periods of sitting.

And now I hear you asking – “how do you work your glutes?”

HOW TO ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES

Focusing on contracting your glute muscles is key when you are doing butt-focused exercises.

Taking a moment to tense and contract your butt before and during exercises will help activate your booty.

One glute activation exercise that you can do whenever you are standing around is this:

  • Stand with your knees slightly bent
  • Focus on your glutes and use them to lift one leg out to the side. If you are not feeling it in your butt, then try again.
  • Lower the leg slowly, still working your butt. Then change legs. Do a set of 15 for each leg.

You can try this exercise while cooking dinner, or even in the morning while you are waiting for the coffee to brew.

Some great exercises that you can do for butt exercise results are:

  • The clam
  • Single-leg glute bridges
  • Superman flutter kicks
  • Straight leg hydrants

WHAT DOES GLUTE ACTIVATION DO?

Glute activation ensures that it is indeed your glute muscles that are working. Unless you are powering the movement you are doing through the glutes, your body might rely on your hamstrings or quads to do the hard work.

Glute activation helps you fix hamstring domination or quad domination problems.

Some other things you can do to help are:

  • Including hip bridges and glute isolation movements into your workout warmup.
  • Focusing on mind-muscle connection
  • Doing glute isolation exercises at the end of your workout.
  • Working with a foam roller to reduce quad tightness

You may also want to consider booking a session with a personal trainer, so they can check if you have any bad workout habits that are letting you down.

WHAT IS THE BEST BOOTY WORKOUT?

I’ve had a bunch of questions from my girls and Instagram followers about specific butt isolation workouts. Girls tend to ask what exercises lift your buttocks and what exercises make you bum firmer.

Well, luckily for you, I have a great bootylicious workout that you can start today! Check out our 80 Day Obsession program. 

These workouts are great isolation exercises for your booty. They are easy to do in the comfort of your living room or bedroom too!

I recommend doing these workouts and following the timed nutrition, and you should start seeing results within a couple of weeks.

And if you want a little more help, let’s chat about joining one of my accountability groups. This will give you a better understanding of mentally connecting with your muscles for more effective workouts, learning how to eat for muscle gain, and accountability to keep going strong. .

NOW, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Now that you have a better idea on how to get those butt exercise results you have been dreaming about, it is time to get to it.

And please do not forget, you are beautiful no matter how big or small your butt is, and no matter how many songs about big butts you hear!

Have a bootylicious workout!

 

I’m Fat, Not Incompetent!

Being a plus sized woman is difficult in today’s modern world.  Society’s expectations are at a record high, and we have the need to meet those expectations of people we have never actually met, much less like.   I have never been much the PTA mom type.  It’s just not my thing.  It makes me want to vomit….the eyes, the judgy group whispering and staring, the rich women who need to flaunt their financial status to feel complete in the world, the gluten police group, the shooting school spirit out of my ass through a rainbow group.  I never really felt like I could be accepted or be one of them.  But why did I find myself caring what they thought?  I tug at my shirt to pull it down, I adjust my fat sucking yoga pants to keep everything tucked just where I want it.  God, I would rather crawl out of my skin and die then be here.

Now take away the PTA part and let’s look at the office environment.  Pretty much the same exact cliques and the same judgmental bull crap that comes with it.  What are you looking at Susan, it’s called a fat roll, I have them, I hide my awesome inside of them.  This was never really a conversation I had but it sure seems like it.  When I started gaining weight, I noticed just how different people treated me.  Whether this was society’s inability to accept sub par appearance or a drop in confidence, suddenly I was viewed very differently.  It was harder to position myself in marketing or sales role because I wasn’t the image the company wanted to present to the world.  When we would go to lunch as a group, it was the awkward feeling when you slide into a booth and feel the table pressing into your ribs but don’t want to call attention so you sit there, in misery, and find comfort in whatever plate of awesomeness is coming up.  It sucks and at the time, I had no idea how to reverse what was happening to my body.  Let’s rewind just a bit.

Back in 2014, I found myself desperately trying to save a marriage that I had recklessly damaged, my back refused to cooperate and made days of even walking seem impossible.  Weight was coming on faster than anything I had seen.  No one would have believed just months prior, I was teaching 2-3 hours of high intensity aerobics nightly. 10 pounds this month, another 8 pounds, 5 more pounds, 120 pounds later, I was so disgusted.  What in the hell did I let happen.  I hated myself.  Looking in the mirror was awful.  That woman wasn’t me.  She was a worn, beat down, weak, gross reflection of the person I once saw as confident, poised and radiating.  Who was this woman in the mirror?  Come to find out, she was a woman with PCOS and Central Hypothyroidism and after the trauma and stress she put herself through in the previous year, her adrenal system went crazy and stress shut down the most important hormones she could ever need.  She was about to go on a journey to figure out her health that would leave her completely defeated, confused, angry and filled with bitterness.

Fast forward…In the journey of discovering what the hell was wrong, I learned so much about my own health, I knew others needed to know this too.  I dug in so deep, I wanted to learn as much as possible and share with everyone.  I became certified in 4 separate nutrition courses, read over 50 books on health, nutrition, silent disease.  I got back into teaching zumba, which I loved but my back still didn’t love me.  I was determined to find the answers I needed and in the journey, help a few others on the way.  I became a weight loss coach in 2017 and decided that was my calling.  I knew about nutrition, I knew what was causing the obesity epidemic, I also knew what it was like to desperately want to lose weight and feeling like a complete failure.

Present day, I have completed 4 graduate level nutrition certifications, I have studied chronic illness, thyroid issues, PCOS, diabetes, growth hormone deficiency, MTHFR mutations, I can have some pretty incredible conversations about all of this.  I love talking about it.  For the last two years, I have busted my ass proving myself and showing I know what I speak of, I have watched numerous men and women drop 50 pounds or more with my help and I can get you exactly where you want to be if you jump in full force.  Most recently we learned that I have a genetic mutation which causes Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency.  What does that mean?  It means my body cannot use fat for energy.  When the MCADD enzyme is missing or not working well, the body cannot use certain types of fat for energy, and must rely solely on glucose. Although glucose is a good source of energy, there is a limited amount available. Once the glucose has been used up, the body tries to use fat without success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here I had been cutting out carbs and eating healthy fats to speed up my metabolism.  I ate that way for about a year and 3 months before finding out the MCADD diagnosis.  All that extra fat I was eating could not be used and had no place to go but stay in my system.  I had NO idea what was going on but I knew there was something the doctors had missed.  Do you know how defeating it is to bust your ass working out daily, eating right, journaling like a mad woman, obsessing over food, only to gain weight and not see any results?  It’s fucking maddening!

I hated myself.

Fat waste of a human.

You know nothing, you are a fat, miserable failure.

These were the lovely thoughts that flooded in every morning when I opened my eyes.  Sometimes I would be out in public and walk by a not so friendly mirror and break down at what I saw in the reflection.  I truly thought when my husband was still working at his previous job that his avoidance of home, his drinking, all of it was to escape this fat, ugly, worthless woman sitting at home.  Why in the hell would anyone want to rush home to me?  People always talk about those who fight depression and not understanding how selfish they can be when they take their own life.  If you have never had those negative thoughts screaming at you, twenty four seven, blasting your ear drums, self deprecating thoughts that would cripple you and sometimes I laid in bed thinking how much better it would be without me in the picture, if you’ve never experienced that, you have no idea just how suffocating those thoughts can be. Spoiler alert** I didn’t give into the thoughts or the devil that was controlling me.  I consider myself beyond blessed to have friends and family that I could confide in about my feelings.  I was safe on that spectrum.  But I was still hurting, I was still the incompetent fat girl trying to help others.  Cue the laughter.

I would go head to head with any competitor and challenge their knowledge on obesity related diseases, nutrition, the chemicals in our foods, I would kick their ass all the way down main street.  But no one would even look at me.  Unless it was in disgust.  Who the hell is this woman giving advice about losing weight and being healthy, she’s a fat cow.  I actually had a competitor tell a client of mine that I shouldn’t be offering my services being this heavy.  Of course, this was my head again…my mind…she is a real bitch sometimes.  But the truth was there, people had watched me live this healthy life the last year and no results.  Suddenly my clientele went from thriving to NOTHING.  I could not give away my services.  This has shaken me to my core and it is not fair.  Now that we know what is actually the problem, of course, we have a better chance of fixing it but that doesn’t change the fact that people have dismissed me.

How could I know anything about food except for eating it.  Who was I to give advice on exercise….So many people would talk to me for a few days, we had multiple conversations, and they ultimately said they just couldn’t afford my program.  I understood, I was there too.  But the next day, I see they joined a different program, one that is way more expensive, one that doesn’t offer all I am able to offer, and one that doesn’t have someone who has spent the last few years committed to nutrition education.  I realized this was not about skill.  I could not be seen as competent and obese.  The two would not relate.  This crippled me for months.

I haven’t signed a new client in 9 months now.  I had no confidence.  I let the words and negative thoughts consume me and I gave up.  It hasn’t been until recently that I realized, you know what….I am fat.  I have fat, I am a fat woman.  But I am not incompetent.  I am overweight but I get results to every single person who works with me.  Not once did anyone ask me how I was doing.  If I was struggling, If I needed help.  I was on my own and I vow to never leave another person alone to figure out their bullshit scramble of health issues that only moves the scale up.

The more women I talk to that share their experiences, the more I realize, we are a society of judgmental assholes.  Instead of looking for a way to help, we snicker, we take a photo, we make crude jokes on the web.  Instead of asking if maybe they are fighting the same fight, we put them down.  We find a reason to put them beneath us.  Guess what, we may be overweight.  We may not fit in all the chairs, we may not be comfortable in the booth at the restaurant, but we are not morons.  We are not incapable.  We are not broken.  So please do me a favor and the next time you see someone who is overweight but busting their ass trying to help people, realize they are likely going through something.  If they are helping others, they are determined to end this epidemic.  You can call me fat all day long, but you do not get to call me incompetent because of my size.  For all the plus sized women and men reading this, you are NOT alone in your fight.  It took me 4 years to get the right diagnosis, do NOT give up.  I believe in you enough for both of us.  Let’s change the narrative.  My journey still has about 100 pounds that need to worked off and I have no intentions of stopping or giving up.  One day at a time, One pound at a time, One meal at a time.

 

xoxoxo-

Courtney

2 Main reasons you aren’t losing weight

One of my most COMMON complaints is from women who are eating well and exercising but still can’t lose weight. I have been here myself so I totally understand what you are going through!

In my own personal experience and from talking to many other women going through the same thing, these are the 2 main reasons you can’t lose weight.

You’re Not Being Honest With Yourself

 

When I first changed to a healthier lifestyle, I lost some weight. And then the weight loss stopped (everyone plateaus – it’s normal!). I was confused because I was eating great and exercising around 6 times per week. So I decided to keep a food diary.

WOW it was very informative. Looking back at it, I realized I was eating too much sugar, even if it was the healthy kind (i.e. fruit, dates, etc). My portions were also way off when I actually measured. Writing down EVERYTHING you eat can really help you figure out where you are going wrong. You might think you eat well, but keeping a mental note is not as helpful as writing it all down and reviewing it. The portion system is also a great way to learn how much to eat and when to eat for the best results.

Keeping a food (and exercise) diary is your own way of staying accountable. Whenever I need a kick start, I keep a food and exercise diary. Please give it a go if you’re really having trouble losing weight! If you do and you find out that this is your issue, great! If not, please read on below.

Binge Eating

If you have issues with binge eating, it is almost 100% guaranteed that you won’t lose weight. Binge eating seriously affects your results.

A lot of women who binge eating usually eat really healthy (and also restrict themselves a lot), and then do the occasional binge. They wonder why they aren’t losing any weight and always tell me that they eat really healthy, but can’t figure out the problem. Binge eating is the problem.

I have dealt with binge eating in the past myself so I understand this issue. For me and a lot of other women, binge eating issues are caused by being too restrictive with diet and then obsessing over it. Also using food for comfort will allow binge eating to slowly take over.

Now, I don’t diet or cut certain foods out (I still eat chocolate and junk food!), and this really helps. Being able to eat “in moderation” after having binge eating issues is hard and takes work, but it can be done. One of the most helpful tools for me was the portion centered program I teach. When I started as a student, I had amazing success and now I teach the principles to clients everywhere.

Do you suffer with one of these issues or stuck in a plateau? Let me help you 🙂 Contact me courtneygiffordbb@gmail.com and let’s chat!

How To Reduce Your Appetite

Having a big appetite can be very frustrating, especially if you’re trying cut back on your food intake and lose weight. So why do you have such a big appetite? How do you reduce your appetite?

There are usually 2 main reasons why people have a greater appetite than normal:

  1. You don’t eat enough fiber; and / or
  2. You are leptin resistant.

This isn’t the always the case for people. If neither of these sound like you, it could be worth going to see a doctor and / or dietitian for more specialized advice.

You Don’t Eat Enough Fiber

Fiber breaks down more slowly than other nutrients (even protein and fats). I know you’ve probably heard this before, but high fiber foods really do make you feel fuller for longer. I have actually experienced this first hand.

When I first started counting calories and macros, I was eating low carb and high protein and fats. I didn’t even think about counting fiber. I was hitting my macros but I was absolutely starving. When I looked back, I was only eating around 10g of fiber per day. And for women, it’s recommended that you get a minimum of 22g per day.

After I increased my fiber intake (I now eat around 25-30g daily), I was no longer hungry, even eating at a calorie deficit. I was actually so surprised at the difference it made!

The problem with eating low carb is that all of the fiber is really in the carb heavy foods. Protein is great for your body but has zero fiber, and the same for most fats. Also, lots of processed carbs are also low in fiber. So even if you’re eating high carb and all your carbs are from unhealthy sources, you’ll still have the same problem.

If you are having issues with a big appetite, I highly encourage you to track your fiber intake for 1 week to make sure you’re getting enough. Remember the absolutely minimum for a woman is 22g.

High Fiber Foods

Try incorporating these foods into your daily diet to help boost your fiber intake.

  • Apples– I know a lot of women are scared to eat fruit because of the sugar content. But 1 apple only has about 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber, which is a huge amount!
  • Chia seeds– 1 tablespoon of chia seeds has 5.5 grams of fiber! I always have 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in my smoothie every morning and it keeps me full until lunch.
  • Sprouted bread– bread gets a bad wrap because of the carbohydrate content (and obviously because they are a grain). But 1 piece of a healthy sprouted grain bread  4.1 grams of fiber and only 12 grams of carbs.
  • Oats– 1/3 cup of oats has 5.5 grams of fiber and 34.5 grams of carbs. See how minimal the carbohydrates in bread are!? Having 1/3 cup of oats and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds for breakfast is almost half of your daily fiber intake.
  • Pears– these are another really high fiber fruit. One medium pear has 6g of fiber and 100 calories.
  • Avocado– yes avocado is high in fats but also surprisingly high in fiber. 1/4 of an avocado has 2.5g of fiber.
  • Lentils– 1/4 cup of cooked lentils has 4g of fiber.
  • Beans– 1/4 cup cooked black beans has 3.7g of fiber (most other beans are high in fiber too!).
  • Peas– 1/4 cup cooked peas has 2.2g fiber
  • Broccoli– 1/2 cup cooked broccoli has 2.3g fiber.

How Leptin Resistance Causes Hunger & Weight Gain

The Hormone Leptin

Leptin is a hormone that controls when and how full you feel. When you are eating and you start to become full, your fat stores start producing leptin, which then signals your brain to stop eating because you are full.

Leptin Resistance

If you are leptin resistant, it means that your body no longer responds properly to leptin. This happens when you eat a diet high in processed carbohydrates and sugar. When you eat these things, your fat stores are continually releasing leptin so your brain stops reacting to it.

As a result, you may never actually feel full and will be hungry all the time.

Symptoms of Leptin Resistance

You may have leptin resistance if you experience the following:

  • Overweight
  • Food cravings and hungry after meals
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Low energy

How To Reverse Leptin Resistance

  • Eat a high protein and high fiber diet.
  • Cut out processed carbohydrates and sugar.
  • Get good quality sleep and 8 hours per night.
  • Minimize stress.

For more information on leptin resistance and how to fix it, please have a read of this blog post by Wellness Mama.

Eating all of your micronutrients

Loading up on micronutrients not only keeps you full but also eliminates your cravings.  When the body is not lacking anywhere, there is no need to create cravings which leads to better food choices and less snacking.  A great way to keep your nutrients in check and reduce cravings and hunger is with daily Shakeology.  This has been my saving grace to end over eating and mindless snacking.

Summary – How To Reduce Appetite

If you do have leptin resistance, you need to get this sorted otherwise it will be difficult for you to manage your appetite and lose weight. Even if you don’t have leptin resistance, it’s still a good idea to reduce your sugar and processed carbs, and increase your fiber and protein intake. And of course good sleep and minimizing stress is extremely important!

Also be sure to include as many of the high fiber foods I mentioned above in your daily diet. Starting your morning off with some oatmeal, chia seeds, berries and yogurt is a great way to get a good dose of fiber in the morning. Apples are a great high fiber snack so if you’re trying to increase your fiber intake, try to have this as a mid morning snack. And then include vegetables and lentils for your main meals.

As I mentioned above, this may not work for everyone. If you have tried these things and it still doesn’t fix your appetite issues, it could be worth going to see a doctor and / or dietitian for more specialized advice.  The worst thing you can do is take a pill that claims to reduce hunger or block your appetite.  Many of these have harmful substances that lead to metabolic issues and a long term fight to regulate your body back to where it should be.

 

6 Sneaky Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

Food journal? Check. Regular workouts? Yes, indeed. Enough fiber to keep an entire army regular? You got it. I know how to lose weight. I’ve been writing about the topic for more than a decade. That’s why it was so frustrating when I noticed that the pounds were clinging to me like a codependent boyfriend, no matter how hard I tried or how hard I exercised. And according to experts, many women like me experience the same confusion over a scale that won’t budge despite their best efforts.

Determined to finally make a breakthrough, I combed through research and grilled diet gurus to pinpoint little-known reasons why your efforts—and mine—haven’t been showing up on the scale. Here’s what I learned.

  1. You don’t drink enough water.

We’ve all heard how important H2O is when it comes to shedding pounds. It helps to suppress appetite, so you’re less likely to overeat. But that’s not all: When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys can’t function properly, so the body turns to the liver for additional support. Because the liver is working so hard, more of the fat you consume is stored, rather than burned off.

Most surprising to me, though, is that if you’re upping your fiber intake but not also regularly filling up your water bottle, things tend to get a wee bit, er, backed up. “It’s important to add fiber gradually and increase water intake at the same time. Otherwise, instead of helping with digestion, fiber may actually lead to constipation,” notes Anna-Lisa Finger, R.D., a certified personal trainer and dietitian. Turns out, I often consume nearly double the recommended 25 grams of fiber daily. Gulp.

Just how much water should I be drinking? “About one-half your body weight in ounces every day, especially if you’re exercising,” says Pamela Wartian Smith, M.D., the author of the book Why You Can’t Lose Weight. So the eight-cups-a-day rule applies only to sedentary women who weigh 128 pounds (not me!). If you’re one to consume an aggressive amount of fiber (guilty), an additional 8 to 16 ounces per day is a good idea, she adds. Just be warned: That amount of liquid—for me, a liter at each meal, minimum—requires serious effort and will turn you into a peeing machine.

  1. You skimp on protein.

Several studies show that high-protein diets result in more pounds shed, at least initially. That’s because protein enhances the feeling of satiety and prevents your losing muscle as you lose fat. You also have dietary thermogenesis, which is the energy you burn to process and use the food you eat, on your side. “Your body expends more energy to metabolize protein than carbs or fat,” says Cari Coulter, R.D., the program director for Wellspring Weight Loss Camp in Kenosha, Wis. “So higher-protein diets make you burn slightly more calories.”

So how much protein do I need a day? “It depends on your weight, but most women should get 40 to 80 grams,” Dr. Smith says. To accomplish that, I have Greek yogurt (18 grams) or a couple of eggs (13 grams) for breakfast, and I eat a few ounces of lean poultry (25 grams) or fish (22 grams) or a heaping helping of black beans (15 grams) or lentils (18 grams) at lunch and dinner. When I need a snack, I reach for a handful of raw almonds (6 grams). As a result, I feel fuller—sometimes so full I don’t even sneak a bite of my son’s ice cream (the way I used to whether I was hungry or not)—so it’s easier to keep daily calories in check.

  1. You sit at a desk all day.

I log a solid hour of exercise almost every day. But outside of that, my time is mostly spent sitting in front of a computer. Could this be one of the reasons why I’m working out but not losing weight?

Yep. Much to my dismay, research finds that dedicated workouts simply can’t compensate for being sedentary the rest of the time. According to one University of Missouri–Columbia study, sitting for just a few hours causes your body to stop making a fat-inhibiting enzyme called lipase. Getting up and walking for just two minutes during each of those hours burns an additional 59 calories a day, according to research from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

Experts recommend setting a timer on the computer to remind you to move every hour. I keep my activity tracker clipped to my bra 24/7, and I won’t go to bed until I’ve logged 10,000 steps a day. To accomplish that, I heed some of those recommendations we’ve all heard a million times (“Take the stairs instead of the elevator,” “Park far away from the mall”). I even jog in place while brushing my teeth and watching TV. At first my husband and son laughed their skinny little butts off at me, but now seeing me hopping around the living room strikes them as normal. Walks are part of my family’s evening routine, and “How many steps do you have now?” has become the new “Are we there yet?” I’ve even given Fitbits to friends and family as gifts so we can see who takes the most steps. Move-more mission: accomplished.

  1. Your numbers are off.

I’ve always considered myself a math whiz, so I assumed I had the whole calories-in, calories-out formula down. Yet I was consistently working out but not losing weight.

Here’s how I determined how many calories I should eat a day: I got my basal metabolic rate (BMR, or the number of calories I need to maintain my weight) using an online calculator, and I entered “moderate” for my activity level, because I exercise regularly. That gave me about 2,400 calories a day. Then I added whatever calories I burn during my workouts (usually about 500), according to my heart-rate monitor. That meant I could eat almost 3,000 calories a day without gaining a pound (or nearly 2,500 a day to lose a pound a week). Sure, it seemed high, but I had used a calculator. It had to be right!

Not so fast, Coulter says. “The BMR calculator already factors in the calories you burn with your workouts, so you shouldn’t add them in again,” she explains. Math club membership revoked! All this time I had thought my daily needs were 500 calories higher than they really were. No wonder I’d been maintaining instead of losing.

  1. You work out regularly.

I know, I know. How can an exercise routine make you gain? For starters, people tend to eat more when they work out, either because they feel they’ve “earned it,” or because they’re overestimating how much they’ve burned—or both. “This is especially true in the early stages of a fitness program, when your body is getting used to the decrease in calories consumed and the increase in calories burned,” Finger says.

But here’s the real shocker: Working out can make you retain water. “To ensure that you don’t get dehydrated, the plasma in your bloodstream will store an extra 2 to 4 pounds of water,” explains Michele S. Olson, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of exercise science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala. “You’ll always carry that extra water unless you become inactive; it’s not fat or muscle, but simply superhydration. It’s a good thing.” It’s also a good thing to keep chugging H2O, which can, counterintuitively, help minimize additional water retention. So I’ll take Olson’s advice and stay active, well-hydrated…and off the scale.

  1. You’re a stress case.

I’m a lot like the lab rats—and humans—who turn to comfort food and pack on pounds when they’re under duress. “The stress hormone cortisol triggers the fight-or-flight response, which is an appetite stimulant,” Dr. Smith says. “In addition, it steps up the production of a certain brain chemical, neuropeptide Y, which increases cravings for carbohydrates.” So there’s actual science to support why you want to eat all the bread when you’re super-stressed.

Even when I don’t give in to cravings, stress can stall my slim-down. “Too much cortisol slows metabolism,” Dr. Smith says. “Even worse, excessive stress causes fat to be stored in the abdominal area, where weight is harder to lose.”

Luckily, a lot of the things I’m doing to whittle my middle should also ease my angst. “Exercise reduces stress,” Dr. Smith notes. “Balanced, nutritious meals can repair the damage that stress does to the body, and a social support network also helps.” So my team of Fitbit-wearing friends and fam is helping me beat belly bloat in more ways than one.

Get Weight Loss Results

Combining a program to focus on nutrition plus daily workouts like the Ultimate Portion Fix is a great way to monitor your food intake and keep your calorie targets on check.  It also allows you to progress in your workouts so you are not constantly fighting the retention as your muscles stretch.  If you are at the place where you are not sure what needs to be changed, let’s chat and get you on the losing path!

Beyond the Numbers

When the scale bums you out, here are three other ways to gauge your progress.

  1. How do your clothes fit? Try on the same pair of jeans and shirt every six to eight weeks.
  2. How do you feel? You should have more energy, sleep better, and feel less stressed.
  3. How much can you do?Keep a workout log and track how much weight you can lift and how many miles you can walk or run.

You are more than the number on the scale.  Never let yourself be defined by that number.

The Rising Cost of Obesity and How Everyone Can Afford Shakeology

You either pay now, or you pay later. Your health is too important to gamble with, and when you think about the vitamins, medicine, monthly medications, doctor visits, specialists… the list goes on, you ARE paying, one way or another.

I spend very little money on “medicine”… basically Ibuprofen and Gas-X is what you will find in my cupboard. The occasional cold medicine may creep in, but that is rare. I don’t spend any money on vitamins or nay other supplements… no need for them.

So, what is the benefit and value of drinking Shakeology every day?  Before I answer this, let us discuss the price of “saving money” on food.

THE PRICE OF BUYING CHEAP FOOD

There is so much high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil in almost all processed and fast foods in this country. There’s artificial ingredients in a TON of foods and drinks that people consume daily. Most people don’t realize is that they are filling their precious bodies with low quality foods that are made in factories, loaded with chemicals, lacking in nutrients, and packed with sugar, fat, and/or salt. I want to believe that people don’t realize the damage they are doing to their bodies, rather than believe that people know and just don’t care (although I’m sure there are people that aren’t really concerned about what they put in their bodies).

We DO pay a price later when we regularly eat unhealthy processed and non-organic foods—for doctor or hospital visits, diagnostic testing, medications, and other services that arise from both minor and chronic diseases caused by a poor diet.

Did you know that almost three quarters of Americans are overweight and over one-third are clinically obese? And, get this, one-third of children born today will be diabetic in their lifetime AND, for the first time in the recorded history of humans, the life expectancy of our population is declining! Seriously? We NEED to do something about this!

There are non-monetary costs of eating poorly too—like fatigue, depression, obesity, and a bunch of other minor health complaints.

I want you to remember this:

  1. The REAL cost of eating unhealthy foods is in the damage to your health and resulting medical costs.
  2. Eating whole fresh foods does NOT have to cost more OR be complicated.
  3. With some adjustments in your lifestyle, you CAN afford

The biggest reason to invest both effort and money in eating healthy food is so you can fully live each and every day of your precious life. Because I eat well, and work out, I can be super productive, effectively run and manage two businesses, and enjoy my life. I have never felt better and I wouldn’t go back to eating crap food, ever! I have the occasional treat, but it is rare and most everything I eat/drink has nutritional value.

Also, studies by the American Dietetic Association have found that eating well to lose weight is no more expensive than eating unhealthily over the long term.

Making the lifestyle change from eating cheap processed foods to healthy whole foods requires you to change some deeply engrained and habitual ways of thinking, learn new ways of eating, possibly find new places to buy your food, and spend a bit more time planning and prepping your meals. BUT, I ASSURE YOU THAT IT’S WORTH IT.

YOU CAN AFFORD SHAKEOLOGY!

Some people try making their own smoothies from scratch or use a cheaper protein powder instead of Shakeology. While I understand, and totally respect their efforts to make better nutritional decisions, if it were up to me, everyone would give Shakeology a (risk free) try for 30 days. No matter what “protein” shake you are drinking, it is no comparison to Shakeology. I wholeheartedly believe that. I’ve experienced the effect over the last 18 months and I can compare it to other shakes I have tried over the years. Beachbody has a bottom of the bag guarantee—if you don’t like it, you can get your purchase price refunded with no questions asked.

What do I tell people when they say, “I can’t afford Shakeology”? I tell them that they really CAN—even if they’re on a tight budget.

  1. Save $13 on shipping with the Home Direct program. Home Direct is Beachbody’s automatic shipment program for all their nutritional supplements. There are two perks to this program—your Shakeology order shows up before you run out so you consistently feed your body serious nutrients AND shipping is reduced from about $15.00 to $2.00.
  2. Order the bulk bag (NOT the packets)of Shakeology. When you buy the single bulk bag, you get 30 servings; when you buy the single serving packets, you only get 24 servings. That’s almost an extra week of Shakeology, folks.
  3. Save 25% AND use the money you save by subscribing to On Demand All Access. Beachbody just announced that they are adding the Annual All Access On Demand and Shakeology Challenge Packto their permanent Challenge Pack portfolio and keeping it at the same introductory price of $160 USD. Here’s what this means—you pay $160 and you get your first month of Shakeology AND a ONE year subscription to On Demand which has a ton of workouts you can live stream. After that, your discounted Shakeology is delivered to you through the Home Direct program (with discounted $2 shipping). So you’re getting all those workouts for an entire year for about $80…close to the same price you used to pay for ONE program. The money you used to spend on fitness programs can now be used for your Shakeology!
  4. Get your Shakeology for FREE by sharing it with others. As a member of Team Synergy, you have the potential to get your Shakeology for FREE. We have many coaches whose monthly goal is solely to make enough money to have their Shakeology paid for by the commissions they make from selling it to others.
  5. Use the money you used to spend on multivitamins and other supplements.Think about how much you are spending on vitamins and other supplements (like digestive aids, weight loss supplements, energy drinks or supplements, etc.). Shakeology contains over 70 superfood ingredients, including natural appetite suppressants and energy boosters, so you no longer need all the other stuff.
  6. Use the money you used to spend on snacks and meals you’re replacing with Shakeology. Shakeology is so much more than just a protein supplement—it’s a meal replacement—so don’t forget to factor in the food you’re not eating into your budget figures. I can tell you that I was spending much more than $5 per day on the breakfast, lunch and/or snacks that I ate in place of Shakeology.
  7. Adjust your grocery purchases. Include Shakeology in your food budget and find ways to save on your other groceries. For instance, buy single ingredient foods that are in season (buy extra and freeze for use in the off season!)and take advantage of those weekly sales.
  8. Use the money from the coffee drinks and/or juice smoothies you’re no longer buying. Coffee houses and juice bars are NOT cheap. When I started drinking Shakeology, I stopped craving the coffee drinks because it gave me all the energy I needed AND satisfied my sweet tooth. And, I no longer needed to stop off at the juice bar when I was out and about. (Besides saving money, I also saved time and calories.)
  9. Make adjustments in other areas of your household budget. There are so many other places you can save money in your life—like spending less on cocktails, dining out, bottled water, gum and candy, cable TV, clothes, and those little frills that add up (like makeup, hair and nails). If you’re serious about your health, you WILL make the effort to make sacrifices in other areas.

WHY SHAKEOLOGY IS A GREAT DEAL

There are MANY indirect ways that you are getting value from drinking Shakeology. Here are a few I feel are most important:

  • When you feel better, you perform better in ALL areas of your life.
  • You will have fewer sick days.
  • Your energy levels are HIGH.
  • You’re more motivated because Shakeology helps us reach our weight loss goals (it’s the secret weapon!).
  • Your junk food cravings are almost non-existent.
  • You don’t feel like you’re suffering because it feels like you’re having a treat.
  • It’s SUPER convenient and easy to grab on the go.
  • You will NOT be paying later, because you’re investing in yourself NOW.

Oh, and with the On Demand All Access membership, there is absolutely zero need for a gym membership (or the gas/time it takes to get you there and back), so there’s some more savings for you.

Learn more about Shakeology HERE

Cutting Carbs? Don’t Say ‘No’ to These Starchy Foods

Carbohydrates tend to get a bad rap, especially in this era of the ketogenic, paleo and Atkins diets.

So do starches — aka complex carbs — still have a place in a healthy diet? You bet.

“Simple carbs (other than fruits and milk) should be avoided in the diet. Complex carbs should prevail,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD.

The difference in the two is directly related to fiber. Because your body can’t digest fiber, it slows your digestion, which can help with weight loss.

“Complex carbs are almost always more nutrient-dense, and can help reduce your risk for heart disease and some cancers,” she notes.

But not all starches belong in your diet. Here are our dietitians’ favorite picks.

Beans and legumes: Nutrient powerhouses

Black beans, lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas, fava beans … yum.

“The healthiest starchy foods are the ones bursting with protein and fiber, putting beans and legumes at the top of the list,” says Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE.

Here’s what beans and legumes will do for you:

  • Their protein supports lean body mass.
  • Their fiber supports healthy blood sugars and cholesterol levels.
  • Their fiber lowers risk for colorectal disease like diverticulitis and certain cancers.
  • The killer protein-fiber combo keeps you full longer, encourages portion control and limits mindless snacking.

Plus, legumes are a rich source of plant nutrients, including antioxidants that protect cells from the free-radical damage implicated in cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

One serving of beans — about 1/2 cup — provides 7 to 8 grams of protein, around 120 calories, roughly 20 grams of carbohydrate and around 8 grams of fiber. You also get trace minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and vitamins like folate and thiamin.

Adds Ms. Kirkpatrick, “Beans and legumes are also highly versatile — and cheap.”

Shoutout to chickpeas

Few legumes can beat the mighty chickpea when it comes to versatility.

“Chickpeas are a great way to add plant protein and fiber to your salads, soups, pastas and rice dishes,” says Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.

“I love to make hummus from scratch using tahini (sesame seed paste) or extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, cumin and turmeric,” she says. “I serve it with fresh veggies, whole-grain or gluten-free crackers, or use it as a dressing for salads.”

Crave something crunchy to munch on? Toast chickpeas, tossed with olive oil and spices, in the oven. Or use them to replace croutons on your salads.

“I’ve even used pureed chickpeas in place of flour to make chocolate chip cookies — and my kids didn’t even notice!” says Ms. Zumpano.

Chickpeas are a good source of vitamins and minerals, she adds, providing manganese, folate, tryptophan, phosphorus and iron.

Whole grains: Unprocessed goodness

“Whole grains are very high in fiber and nutrients,” says Dana Bander, MPH, RD, LD, CDE. “My favorites include wild rice and buckwheat, which boast high levels of magnesium, riboflavin and niacin.”

Brown rice doesn’t make the list because it has less fiber. And while buckwheat is very high in iron and protein, “it comes with a higher price tag in the form of calories and carbs,” she cautions.

But the quintessential whole grain has to be quinoa, says Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD.

“This plant-based, complete source of protein contains all nine essential amino acids — like animal products do, but without any of the animal fat,” she says.

Quinoa is also rich in the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. And with its combination of protein and fiber, it’s slowly digested.

“This makes quinoa a good choice for people with diabetes or for anyone trying to lose weight,” says Ms. Patton.

“It’s also great for vegans, who risk not eating enough protein or getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals, and for those with gluten sensitivity or allergy.”

(In other words, quinoa is a great choice for pretty much everyone.)

Kudos for sprouted grain bread

Love your morning toast? Maximize the nutrition and minimize weight gain by choosing sprouted grain bread.

“Sprouted grain is somewhat broken down, making it easier for the body to digest and absorb its nutrients,” explains Ms. Patton.

She adds that most brands of sprouted grain bread contain no added sugar (a common ingredient in most breads) and are lower in sodium.

To get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck at any meal, try replacing empty starches with legumes and whole grains. They’ll provide the protein and fiber you need to minimize cravings and maximize health.

This article was written by Digestive Health Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Why Weight Watchers isn’t always the best answer

Weight Watchers, is the most popular of commercial diets. We have seen countless women who have said that they have tried Weight Watchers but unlike their friends or family members who were also doing the diet, they weren’t having much success at weight loss despite following the diet as prescribed. Some even admitted to gaining weight on it! Did you?

Here are 5 reasons why most women won’t have much success with the Weight Watchers diet:

Focus is on Points, Not GI

While the Weight Watchers diet does advocate the benefits of whole grains and most recently, sugar, it doesn’t focus on the glycemic index (GI). Just because a food is whole grain and low in sugar doesn’t mean it will have a low GI. Having a point allowance for the day without much structure could result in a diet that is high in carbohydrates and too low in protein and/or fat. When given the choice, some people would rather eat 20 points worth of brownies rather than 20 points worth of apples.

Zero Points

Ever notice how Weight Watchers keeps changing its program? If it worked so well, why the need for change? The new Freestyle Program now includes over 200 foods that are zero points. This includes many protein foods like chicken and carbohydrate containing foods such beans and fruits. If it’s zero points, you don’t have to log it. Less logging = less work and a happier customer.

The problem with Weight Watchers in regards to most women, is that it promotes the message of unlimited “zero points” foods. All foods should be enjoyed in moderation. Doing so will help manage insulin levels.  You still need to be aware of what you are consuming and how many calories you are getting each day.

Fruits are carbohydrates by nature. Just because fruit contains carbs doesn’t make it a “bad” food. Fruits are wonderful as they provide numerous health benefits including lowering insulin, blood pressure, cholesterol, and reducing the risk of cancer. Eating too much fruit in your diet, especially fruit not paired with protein or fat, or too much fruit consumed at one setting will raise insulin levels.

Promotes Overeating

It’s a common saying: You want to gain weight? Go on a diet. Like any diet, Weight Watchers restricts your amount of food and puts rules on what you can or can’t eat. Anyone who works in the field of eating disorders or distorted eating knows that the best way to gain weight is to go on a diet. Feeling deprived often leads to weight gain in the long run and affects your ability to self regulate your intake. Many women with PCOS or Hypothyroid issues struggle with binge eating because of food restriction caused by dieting.

Ignores Internal Regulation

Weight Watchers (and other diet plans) ignores our bodies’ internal regulation for food. The focus on points pulls one away from internal signals of hunger and fullness. If a person is hungrier one day then the points allow, she either has to “starve” or eat beyond her points. Eating beyond points promotes guilt and the intention to make up the points the next day. This creates a vicious cycle of starving and overeating that leads to eating disorders. It teaches women to trust the diet, not their own bodies for how much food to have. In fact, much time is given in nutrition counseling sessions to challenge this negative thinking and create a healthier relationship with food.

Ignores Individualization

One diet does not fit all. PCOS is a syndrome that is associated with many other health conditions including insulin resistance, hypothyroidism (low thyroid) and high cholesterol which require more individualized and involved nutrition changes that a general commercial diet can provide.

Some women with PCOS may have success following the Weight Watchers diet initially, but end up gaining weight back down the road. It’s not because they weren’t compliant enough or didn’t try hard enough. It’s because the diet didn’t work for them.

In our experience, we have found that Weight Watchers overall isn’t the best diet for women with health issues because of the reasons discussed above. Following a low GI diet focusing on whole foods that include whole grains, moderate fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins are the keys for successful and sustainable weight management in women with hormonal imbalances and health issues.

Referenced from
Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN

How Fitness Professionals Stay on Track

Fitness professionals may seem like super humans who never struggle with making healthy diet choices, showing up for workouts or pulling off that unforgiving outfit. But … surprise! They’re just like us! They’re busy professionals, wives, moms, friends and community members who have lives—beyond the gym and produce section. 

Fitness professionals are able to stay on track because they arm themselves with effective daily habits. 

Here are some tips shared by Jessica Matthews, assistant professor of Health, Exercise Science and Yoga Studies at San Diego Miramar College, and a yoga teacher, certified health coach, and senior adviser with the American Council on Exercise. 

Pairing: Add a Good New Behavior to an Established Habit
Pairing involves taking a consistent, established habit and adding in a new one until it sticks. Matthews always does squats while she’s brushing her teeth in the morning and at night. “Brushing is a consistent habit and during a two-minute brush, I can do about 30 squats. So that’s 30 squats in the morning and 30 at night,” she says. Because she uses the principle of pairing, you’ll never find her just brushing! Another idea: Try balancing on one foot while you’re washing dishes! 

Park Farther Away and Take the Stairs
Matthews lives by the motto of grabbing any and all opportunities to add more movement into her day. Research supports that these seemingly small habits and actions can add up to big health gains, Matthews says. 

Get a Head Start on Hydration While Balancing the Body’s pH
Even though she’s a professional, Matthews admits that she never liked drinking water. So she found a more enjoyable way to hydrate. Every morning, she drinks a mug of warm water with lemon, which can stimulate digestion and help balance the body’s pH. This warm beverage in the morning helps minimize her coffee and caffeine intake, which is an added bonus. 

Plants Are the Base
Instead of focusing on calories or stressing over what to restrict, Matthews makes plants the base of her diet. Most of her meals are made from veggies, occasionally mixing in some seafood. Making plants the base ensures that she’s eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. 


Take Time to Breathe or Meditate
Matthews doesn’t leave her room in the morning until she’s taken some time to sit still and focus on her breathing—for a minute or 15 minutes. “Meditation isn’t sitting on a mountaintop,” she says. And it doesn’t even require sitting! The focus is to be mindfully aware, be still and listen to the movement of your breath. If you do this in the morning, it can help you start the day in the right place mentally—and it ensures that you actually do it! 

Here are some tips from Arielle Dani Lebovitz, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, CDE, a registered dietitian nutritionist with over 10 years’ experience specializing in health communications, human performance/sports nutrition, diabetes education and children’s nutrition. 

Make Healthy Food Convenient 
Set aside a day to prepare healthy foods that you can just reheat and grab. With unhealthy food choices all around us, it’s easy to choose them out of convenience. “If healthy food is just a grab-and-go option, healthy foods will be the easy choice,” Lebovitz says. 

Write It Down
Don’t just keep your intentions in your head. “Before I go to bed every night I write down three things I want to prioritize and accomplish for the next day,” Lebovitz says. This helps her remain mindful of her goals and how she’ll accomplish them. She jots down anything from doing a 30-minute workout in the morning to adding mushrooms to an egg scramble. 

Here’s some helpful input from Nev Nelson, certified personal trainer, certified health coach, NFHS certified, and tennis player and coach. 

Keep Each Morning the Same
Nelson wakes up early at the same time almost every day (on weekends, one hour later) and does the same thing every morning to establish routine and habit. She changes into her workout clothes at the start of the day and puts in her headphones to get her motivated to work out. 

Eat More Often

Most of us are conditioned to think our food intake has to happen within three square meals per day. Nelson eats more than three times per day. She eats smaller meals every two to three hours, which keeps her metabolism going and prevents her from overeating. We all know skipping a meal can make you ravenous at the next! 

Don’t Journey Alone 
Everyone, even professionals, needs support. Nelson has an exercise group that holds her accountable. Whether it’s an exercise class you love, a running club or even just one good friend who will keep up with your workouts, be sure to surround yourself with people who will help you achieve your wellness gals.

And last, but certainly not least, here are some tips from Emily Ann Callahan, MPH, RD, owner and consultant, EAC Health and Nutrition, LLC. 

Find 30 Minutes per Day
The top excuse for why people don’t work out is lack of time. No matter how busy you are, you can probably find 30 minutes in your day. Callahan aims to fit in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. That’s easy on her gym days. “But on the other days, I try to at least get outside for a 30-minute (or two 15-minute) walks,” Callahan said. Everyone can find 15 minutes! 

BYO Fruits and Vegetables
If Miller knows she’s going somewhere where healthy options might be slim pickings, she packs her own fruits and vegetables. This helps her stay on track with including a fruit and/or vegetable in every meal.

If you would like to join a challenge group and get the ultimate accountability and support you need to succeed, drop us an email and let’s chat!

Benefits of Strength Training

A Little Strength Training Can Improve Health Of The Heart

According to a study, strength training for less than one hour every week could reduce heart attack or stroke risk by 40% –  70%, and just 2 sets of bench presses which take under 5 minutes to perform can be effective. The researchers discovered that spending more than sixty minutes strength training a week didn’t yield any further cardiovascular disease risk benefits.[1]

The study results show that the strength training benefits are independent of walking, running, or any other aerobic activity. This means that the recommended aerobic physical activity guidelines don’t have to be met for lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke, strength training on its own is sufficient.

Data was analyzed from almost 13,000 individuals, and the data from 3 health outcomes was assessed: any type of death, all cardiovascular events which included death, and cardiovascular events like heart attack or stroke that didn’t result in death. Resistance exercise lowered the risk for all 3 health outcomes.

Most of the studies on strength training have concentrated on physical function, bone health, and quality of life in elderly individuals. With regards to lowering cardiovascular disease risk, running or other cardio activity comes  to mind. Weight lifting is equally as beneficial for the heart, as well as additional benefits.

Making use of the same dataset, the association between resistance exercise and high cholesterol as well as diabetes was investigated. The 2 studies found the risk for both was reduced with resistance exercise.

Less than sixty minutes of resistance exercise a week in comparison to no resistance exercise was linked to a 29% reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, which increases diabetes, heart disease and stroke risk. High cholesterol risk was 32% lower. The study results were also independent of aerobic exercise.

Building muscle helps with joint and bone mobility, but muscles are also calorie burning which provides metabolic benefits. When muscle is built, more energy is burnt when aerobically inactive. This also helps in preventing obesity and providing long-term benefits on a variety of health outcomes.

A Little Strength Training Can Improve Health Of The Heart

Image via: AHealthBlog