Is weekend eating a problem?

I’ve cleaned up my eating Monday through Friday and am pretty confident with how I’m doing there. But, on weekends I relax a little bit. Am I going to see results or is my weekend eating a problem?

Questions like these are super common in my #ConsistentlyLean coaching group, and to be real, I hear them discussions like this all the time in the hallways at the office. So many of us do well with our eating Monday-Friday but by the time Friday at 5pm comes around, all of our good habits go out the window.

I get it.

Before automating my eating, I ate well all week long but by Friday, I’d overdo it on boozy beverages and treats (hello sweet potato fries). All weekend long, I’d feel guilty and disappointed in my lack of willpower. That guilty feeling can make us feel like we have done everything wrong, but what if we haven’t?

Having a slightly different weekend eating plan isn’t the kiss of death. By asking yourself (and answering honestly) these 3 simple questions, we can figure out if weekend eating is keeping you from seeing results or if there are other things we can change first.

Is weekend eating keeping you from reaching your goals?

If you think weekend eating is keeping you from reaching your goals, ask yourself these 3 questions. weekend eating quotes - weekend eating healthy - weekend eating tips

What are your goals?

Truth is, some goals don’t necessitate eating near perfectly 7 days a week. If we’re aiming to maintain weight or gain muscle, we can be a lot more flexible on weekends (or any other day for that matter).

However, if we are aiming for fat loss, we have to be a bit more careful.

As an example, when I am trying to lose body fat, I only have 2 drinks, twice a month (so 4 drinks in 4 weeks – yikes). BUT when I am in a maintenance period, not trying to gain or lose weight, I drink a couple drinks 3+ times a week without putting on weight.

It’s super important to get clear on your goals so that you can determine if you even need to consider changing your weekend eating habits.

If your goal is fat loss, yes, we probably need to take a look at your weekends and try to get a little more consistent (here’s one of my fave blogs on the topic or grab my #ConsistentNutrition cheat sheet).

Do you have the nutrition basics down Monday-Friday?

Let’s get real. If we eat four meals a day (I do – here’s why), weekends only account for 8 meals vs. the 20 meals consumed Monday-Friday.

Before calling weekend eating the reason we aren’t seeing results, we need to be super honest about how ‘well’ we are eating during the week. Sometimes, it’s easier to blame the weekends because everyone is doing it. Instead, ask yourself these questions about the 20 meals you eat all week long. Check your answers and see if there is room for improvement.

  • Do we have protein at every meal?
  • Are we filling every plate with non-starchy veggies?
  • Do we have nutrient timing down?
  • Are our portion sizes on point?

Check your answers and see if there is room for improvement. If there is room to improve, try focusing on those areas before tackling your weekend eating.

How different is your weekend eating from your weekday eating?

Now, if you’ve made it this far, you probably have a goal of fat loss. Your weekday eating is probably pretty solid.

Awesome!

We’ve isolated that weekend eating could be keeping you from seeing the results you want, but let’s dig a little deeper.

Many of us fall into a lot of nutrition guilt because we are depriving ourselves on other days of the week (here’s how I found the middle between deprivation and guilt). So, to ensure that we’re eating consistently every single day and not stressing too much about being perfect M-F, let’s break it down.

Time for a nutrition audit

Instead of just *assuming* that our weekend eating is so bad, let’s take stock by going through the process of a nutrition audit. Here’s what to do:

  1. Pick a representative weekday and record everything you eat for your meals, snacks, and drinks, without judgment. 
  2. Next, choose a weekend day to do the same. Record everything, without guilt.
  3. After a few days, look at both food logs and compare the differences. Ask yourself the following questions:
    1. What’s the same between these two days of eating?
    2. Are there any glaring differences?
    3. If so, why are they so different?
    4. What patterns do I see?

By the end of this process, figuring out your next step should be pretty easy. Identify one thing to change in your weekend eating habits and do it consistently for two weeks. Then, reassess in the same way.

If you take away one thing from this post, know that weekend eating isn’t all bad.

Having some variability between Monday and Saturday is totally OK, depending on your goals and how different it actually is. Ask yourself these questions and take stock.

My friend, I know consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

And I want to teach you with my #ConsistentNutrition cheatsheet. Don’t miss this. 

Struggling to be consistent with food? Apply the 80/20 rule to your nutrition and get consistent once and for all.

Can emotional eating be a good idea?

In the last few years, emotional eating has become pretty taboo. In every group coaching program I run, ladies talk about how eating for reasons other than hunger/nutrition is holding them back from reaching their goals. There are countless articles about how emotional eating leads to weight gain. And honestly, it seems like every coach out there is saying that emotional eating is the devil.

I get it. Eating is a way to fuel our bodies and help us reach our performance and aesthetic goals, so if we are eating for reasons other than fueling our bodies-like for comfort or enjoyment-that seems bad, right?

As a nutrition coach, I totally understand that emotional eating can be a barrier to reaching our goals. But as a human being (and a woman going through a break up), I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about emotional eating and wondering if it is always so harmful.

Well, I’m gonna take a less popular stance and say, no. It’s just not that simple. 

Food is much more than fuel.

Food is social, communal, and fun. Simplifying the equation and saying that we should only eat for fuel is ignoring the human element of eating. We eat with friends out at happy hour, enjoying the conversation and the taste of the snacks. We sip wine because it relaxes us and makes us feel good.

And that is totally okay.

For years, when I was struggling with my eating disorder, I believed that I should never eat or drink something with ’empty’ calories. I would never have a soda or juice, because those calories were not giving my body nutrition. Drinking alcohol was foreign to me, because it only gave pleasure, not nutrition.

Like all the coaches and trainers out there saying “emotional eating is bad (always),” I made nutrition very black and white. But, my friends, it’s not that simple. There are definitely situations where eating for reasons like comfort, relaxation, or just plain enjoyment is perfectly fine.  Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we should always be eating for reasons other than nutrition. 

Instead, I’ve distilled down a couple situations in which emotional eating is okay/normal/not detrimental to reaching our goals.

2 conditions that could make emotional eating helpful-not harmful

Is emotional eating all bad? Talking through 2 conditions that can make emotional eating helpful to your goals. Stop emotional eating - Emotional eating thoughts

You’re doing it mindfully and with full awareness

The true problem with emotional eating comes when we do it without recognizing what the heck we are doing. We all know that feeling, watching TV after a long day and looking down to realize that we’ve just eaten half the bag or chips. Or maybe we reach for a cookie at work because we’re stressed and they’re right in the break room.

Without awareness of our behaviors, we set ourselves up to eat in ways that keep us from reaching our goals.

I’d argue that the reason emotional eating is harmful is because we don’t always recognize that we are eating to soothe ourselves.

If, instead, we consciously choose situations (and foods) that make ourselves happy in the midst of bullshit, we’re actually engaging in a form of self care.

Sangria sorbet cheat day

As I worked through a lot of pain and sadness in my break up, I found myself wanting to eat more foods that I enjoyed. Instead of berating myself for wanting the whole Lenny & Larry’s cookie instead of half, I asked myself why and consciously chose to eat something I enjoy, instead of restricting.

I also recognized that there’s a huge difference between eating for comfort (as our only coping mechanism) and making food choices that are easy, tasty, and enjoyable. When we are going through tough times, it’s important to make things easier and not stress over the small stuff. Part of this is defaulting to our nutrition survival strategies and another part is being aware of our choices/behaviors.

When we are aware that we are eating for emotional reasons, we can consciously ask ourselves if this is the choice we want to make. If so, cool. Have the cookie. If not, maybe do something else.

You’re simultaneously using other mechanisms to cope

At the end of the day, eating foods we enjoy should never be the only thing we do to soothe or relax ourselves. Sure, having a glass of wine or a treat helps in the moment. But, if it is the only thing we do to care for ourselves, eating emotionally can become unhealthy.

We get into trouble when food is the only thing that brings us joy, however, eating for comfort is not inherently bad. It’s just one strategy to help us handle the challenges life throws our way.

Over relying on any one strategy for self care can be problematic.

Eating for comfort should always be combined with other methods of self care, including exercise, spending time with friends and family, snuggling a dog, or talking with a therapist.

If you take one thing away from this post, remember that emotional eating is not all bad. It can be part of a healthy lifestyle and doesn’t have to derail your health and fitness goals. Stay aware, choose options that make your life easier, and make sure that you are practicing other methods of self care.

Looking for more information on how to eat consistently while still enjoying the foods you eat? My #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet can help you navigate the middle between deprivation and the guilt that comes from overeating.

My two step system to overcome your trigger food

Whether it’s ice cream, peanut butter, or french fries, we all have one – a trigger food that makes it almost impossible to stay on track. We generally try to avoid said food like the plague but when we are finally around it, we binge and feel super guilty afterwards (this is why I will never encourage *perfect* eating).

For so many years, this was me and almond butter, more specifically Barney Butter Smooth Almond Butter (if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out). Whenever I had this $17 jar of almond butter around, I couldn’t stop eating it. 

In college, I would go through the entire jar in a week. When I was stressed out, I’d pull out the almond butter and a spoon, sit on my bed, and binge. Of course, I would never mean to eat 1/3 cup of almond butter – I would always intend to have just one tablespoon – but it never worked out that way.

This almond butter was my trigger food. 

The moment I tasted the salty goodness, I couldn’t stop. I’d eat more until I felt so guilty, I had to immediately wash and put away the spoon.

At some point, I just stopped buying the almond butter.

And that’s always our solution, isn’t it? We try to completely remove the trigger food from our environment. And that works…as long as you never have to be around the trigger food again.

Frankly, I think that’s a little unrealistic. What about when we’re visiting family and they have the food in their fridge? We’re grossly unprepared.

Instead, here’s my two step strategy to being triggered by your trigger food.

Use my 2 step system to stop binge eating your trigger food. stop binge eating - trigger food - binge eating help

Eat protein and veggies at every meal

If we focus on taking in lots of protein and vegetables, we will fill ourselves up, leaving minimal room for processed treats. Protein, especially, will leave us feeling super satisfied for hours after our meals, and vegetables offer the micronutrients we need to be truly healthy.

Some of my favorite options?
-Egg whites + mushrooms + spinach
-Steak + roasted broccoli
Mint chip protein shake
-Big ass salad with chicken (I share plenty of these over on Instagram)

Indulge in your trigger food daily

Instead of forcing ourselves to abstain from your trigger food, we’ve gotta make the food less triggering.

The goal here is to make the food available—rather than forbidden—at all times. This is central to #myconsciousindulgence framework: the idea that indulgence CAN be part of every single day, as long as we consciously choose it (learn exactly how to implement #myconsciousindulgence here). I believe that indulgence isn’t keeping us from reaching our goals but UNconscious indulgence can be the reason for our plateaus. When we indulge without being mindful/even thinking about it, we end up eating or drinking so much more.

So, instead of restricting myself, I consciously indulge every single day, regardless of if I’m in weight loss or maintenance mode. You’ll always see me indulging in something small (like a Lenny & Larry’s cookie, Clif Bar, or some chocolate covered almonds) each day, normally before bed.

With your conscious indulgence, I recommend saving it for the evening, because this helps maximize our willpower. Eating it after dark gives us something to look forward to whenever a craving hits. In fact, I save the majority of my carbohydrates for my last meal of the day. This helps me stay on track throughout the work day, because I’ve got some good things coming later!

How to implement

Starting today, I want all of us to pick to pick our conscious indulgences. Pick something that you’ll look forward to each day, and eat it daily for a week. Note your hunger, cravings, and food obsession level. Using this simple strategy will keeps us from over-indulging or binge eating when we’re around foods we enjoy. Real talk, I used to not be able to keep almond butter in the house. Then, I started having a small spoonful every day. Over time, this daily indulgence made almond butter way less stressful for me. I knew I could have just a little bit, whenever I wanted.

If you want to learn exactly how I’ve conquered my trigger foods and gotten 1000x more consistent, check out my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet. I’m breaking down two of my best nutrition strategies to help us get more consistent without stressing about it. Grab all the details and get your copy here.

Are you still trying to eat perfectly? 3 reasons it’s not working

If you’re sick of falling short of your perfect nutrition goals and are ready to get consistent once and for all, my #ConsistentNutrition cheat sheet is a gamechanger.

Scrolling through Instagram, we see all these women sharing their week’s worth of healthy meals, displayed with pride on their counters as a symbol of their ability to eat perfectly all week long. We can’t help but be inspired by the hundreds of pictures of meal prep containers full of chicken and broccoli.

Motivated by others’ self discipline, we believe we can eat perfectly, too. Whether it’s prepping meals ahead of time or following a strict meal plan, we’re constantly aiming for perfection when it comes to eating.

And still, with all of our best intentions, we end up letting our prepped food wilt in tupperware, noshing on ice cream after a stressful Thursday at work, or waiting for a massive cheat day on Saturday. 

We feel so frustrated, wondering how we slipped up again, and make grandiose plans for a stricter, more specific, perfect plan for next time.

But I hate to break it to you, lovely, next time isn’t gonna work either.

Multiple times a week, I hear from women all over the world who are so frustrated with themselves for their inability to eat healthily on a consistent basis (here are the 4 main reasons why they’re struggling). They hold themselves to a super high standard in attempts to eat consistently but but constantly fall short, overindulging and subsequently beating themselves up.

And let’s be real. I get it. For years during my recovery, I would follow a super strict meal plan until Friday night. With all my willpower gone, I’d drink a few too many Mike’s HardER Lemonades and have one too many bites of ice cream. By the next morning, I’d be beating myself up incessantly, wondering how it was possible that I slipped up again…just like last week.

I now realize, as a personal trainer and nutrition coach, that my willpower was not the problem; my perfect eating goals were. Although there are hundreds of coaches and trainers recommending their clients eat perfectly, I believe that’s the biggest reason we all still struggle to stay consistent with healthy eating.

Three reasons perfect eating is failing you

Perfect eating is stressful.

Everything gets so much harder when we try to eat perfectly. Our social life goes out the window.

Eating out with friends is too difficult, because we can’t control everything that goes onto our plate. Instead, we feel like we have to prepare all our food ourselves.

Happy hours are off the table, because we can’t fit alcohol and bar snacks into our meal plan. These little indulgences are just too much.

mimosa cups

As we aim for perfect, we narrow in on the minute details of our eating, making every decision a little more difficult. It’s this difficulty that stresses us out to the point of giving up.

Sure, it may not happen immediately, but eventually we stop being able to navigate all of complexity, so we fall off the wagon.

On the other hand, finding a sustainable eating solution eliminates food stress so that we can stay consistent once and for all. My #ConsistentNutrition cheatsheet breaks down 2 of my top strategies to stay consistent, without stressing about it. 

Perfect eating makes us restrict.

For years, I battled with eating perfectionism too. I tried EVERYTHING to eat clean and perfectly. All week long, I’d eat only the foods my trainer wanted me to eat: so many dry chicken breasts, soggy broccoli, and brown rice (I hate rice). I restricted all week long.

And, every Saturday morning, I found myself staring in the mirror, so frustrated that I drank 3 Mike’s HardER Lemonades. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just make myself eat perfectly like everyone I saw on Instagram.

Wine, Protein, Veggies

But here’s the thing. Perfection doesn’t work, because it makes us restrict our eating in the name of being perfect. And that’s why perfectionism is a myth, and is doing all of us a disservice, because our continual restriction and bingeing keeps us from eating well.

Perfect eating makes us feel like failures.

If perfect is actually impossible, aiming for perfect eating means we inevitably fall short, doesn’t it? Even if we’re eating pretty well, we look in the mirror, frustrated that we couldn’t just resist that chocolate in the break room.

These feelings of guilt and failure hold us back and keep us from staying consistent, don’t they? When we feel guilty, we restrict even more. And that restriction? It makes us binge more later.

And let’s be real. Feeling like a failure serves no one.

I know perfectionism is our default, but it doesn’t have to be. There is another way to eat well, see results, and feel better…without all the guilt.

I wanna show you how by implementing super simple strategies to finally get consistent with your nutrition. 

Because consistency is really hard, isn’t it? For years, I went out to dinner or happy hours only to order the lowest calorie option. I’d crave something tasty but knew I *should* order something light, so I ordered grilled chicken with roasted vegetables. I’d feel pretty good about myself…until appetizers came. Sweet potato fries, meatballs, and bread with pesto dipping sauce would fill the table. I’d try resisting…for about five minutes. Eventually, I’d always give in, indulging in fries, meatballs, bread, and lots of wine. Even though I knew what I should do, I couldn’t. I was too bored by my choices to stick with them, so I went overboard and felt super guilty afterwards.

We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt.

7 ways to lose weight without counting calories

Counting calories, tracking macros, and measuring servings used to be my jam. I started counting calories when I was thirteen years old, so in a sense, I grew up with calorie counting. It was the first way I tried losing weight, making it my go-to in the past. At the same time, I knew it was inherently unsustainable and unhealthy. It made me obsessive and a little crazy. Even when I’d try to stop counting calories and follow a serving based system, I counted servings nonstop. I’d carry a notepad with me everywhere, counting, and recounting everything I ate. I believed if I stopped, I would eat with abandon and gain 20lbs overnight. I was trapped and honestly believed counting calories was the only way. Thank goodness there are other ways to quit counting calories, feel in control of your eating (I’ll teach you my favorite way here), and still get great results. 

I talk with women every week who come to me frustrated that they can’t stay consistent with their nutrition without getting obsessive. They absolutely hate feeling tethered to their MyFitnessPal app and constantly calculating their daily intake but don’t know what to do when they aren’t counting.

No more, lovelies.

Today, I’m sharing 7 of my favorite ways to lose weight WITHOUT counting calories or getting obsessive.

7 ways to lose weight without counting calories

I talk with women every week who come to me frustrated that they can't stay consistent with their nutrition without getting obsessive. They absolutely hate feeling tethered to their MyFitnessPal app and constantly calculating their daily intake but don’t know what to do when they aren’t counting. No more, lovelies. Today, I'm sharing 7 of my favorite ways to lose weight WITHOUT counting calories or getting obsessive.

Eat vegetables at every meal

By adding veggies at every single meal, we fill up with fiber and micronutrients. This leaves less space for us to eat crap. If getting in your 5+ servings of veggies per day is a struggle, try out my best tips. 

Drink more water

We commonly mistake thirst for hunger, so being hydrated helps us stay consistent and even lose weight. I personally aim for 1/2 my bodyweight in ounces of water per day, in addition to the 16-24oz I drink during/immediately after working out.

Log your food for three days

We’re often tempted to count calories or track macros but can get better results from the basic awareness that comes with a food log. Writing down the foods we eat for a three day period can help us understand how food makes us feel physically.

Eat more protein

I love protein, because it keeps us feeling satisfied and helps stabilize our blood sugar over long periods of time. If we try to eat some protein every time we feel hungry, we’re less likely to binge or turn to starchy carbs. Win win.

Let yourself get hungry

After dieting and counting calories for so long, sometimes it gets really scary to allow ourselves to feel hunger. That said, letting ourselves get hungry before we eat is the best way to get more in-tune with our bodies and also reduce the total amount consumed in a day.

Sleep for at least 7 hours per night

There is SO much research that sleep is connected with body composition. Sleep affects our hunger hormones, cravings, and insulin sensitivity. Read: when we’re overly tired, our bodies CRAVE more of the processed, high carb/high fat foods. [Precision Nutrition has an awesome article if you want more info]

So when we are trying to lose weight, stop counting calories, and automate our eating, sleep is imperative.

Aim for 8-10k steps per day

Low intensity steady state cardio (aka walking/movement) can be a game-changer when we’re trying to be less obsessive AND change our body composition.

So many of us work desk jobs and are sitting most of the day. Even if we are exercising daily, this little bit of extra movement can help bust us through a plateau.

 

What’s helped you lose weight or work towards your goals without getting obsessive?

Three ways to stop stressing about food

Hey lovelies! I hear from women all the time that their #1 struggle is eating well without getting obsessive. We know what we “should” eat but we can’t seem to implement it. We either restrict ourselves and feel super deprived or we get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever we want, leaving us feeling lots of guilt. (If you’re overwhelmed by constant food guilt, grab a copy of my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet right now).  Either way, it’s super effing stressful to constantly think about what we “should” eat.

We’ve all been there, right?

Back in my calorie counting days, I’d carry around this little black notebook to calculate my daily intake. Each choice I made was meticulously planned to fit into the specific overall calorie count. If eating a chocolate Clif Bar would make me go even 10 calories over my daily limit, I’d pick a different, less satisfying flavor to remain under my goal. I’d wait as long as possible before eating breakfast to “save” calories for later.

It was an exhausting way to live, making it inherently unsustainable. With lots of experimentation, I’ve found these three super straightforward ways to detach from stressing about every bite we eat.

How to stop stressing about food (in three steps!)

I hear from women all the time that their #1 struggle is eating well without getting obsessive. Here are my top three ways to stop stressing about food.

Stop counting

I know, I know. This is super counter intuitive (and many of us struggle with giving up the control counting calories gives) but it’s SO important to stop stressing about food. When we stop counting, analyzing, and measuring everything, we free up mental space to focus on other non-food relating things.

Instead of counting calories constantly, we’ve got to automate our eating so we no longer have to think so much about it. I want us to make it super simple. Instead of counting anything, I want you, my friend, to focus on just two things: protein and veggies. Every single time you eat, grab a portion of protein and some vegetables. If you’re still hungry, add some healthy fat or complex carbohydrates, depending on your goals.

Wine, Protein, Veggies

Want more help getting in veggies at every meal? Grab some of my best tips.

This super simple strategy makes all the difference, because we’ll be eating lots of nutrient dense and non-calorie dense foods. This will allow us to eat more AND make sure we aren’t missing out on any key nutrients. In layman’s terms, low calorie density = large portion size. And large portion sizes keep us (me) happy. Follow along on Instagram and Facebook with #mindthemiddle and #ConsistentNutrition to see how I implement these strategies day-to-day.

I talk with women all the time who are struggling to stay consistent with their nutrition. They know what they “should” eat but they can’t seem to implement it when outside of their normal routine. They either restrict themselves and feel super deprived or they get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever they want, leaving them feeling lots of guilt.That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt. 

Also, if you’re struggling to give up that control, tracking meals by taking photos a couple times a month helps my clients SO much.  As humans, creatures of habit, most of our daily intake is the same day-to-day, so tracking a couple times a month is sufficient.

Add more protein

Once we’ve lessened or eliminated counting, it’s time to turn our attention to the foods we’re eating. Just by implementing certain food habits, we can lessen our thoughts about food! This is where protein comes in.

Protein is my favorite macro, and just about every woman I speak to is not getting close to enough! By focusing on protein, we fill ourselves with quality fuel, helping us feel super satisfied for hours after our meals. When we aren’t hungry all the time, we can stop obsessing over what to eat next.

Protein:

  • Keeps us feeling full for longer
  • Takes more energy to break down than carbohydrates or fat (burning more calories)
  • Is a building block for important molecules in your body, like hormones
  • Helps regulate blood sugar and hunger pangs

So what’s the next step?

I recommend eating protein every single time you eat. If you’re still hungry, cool, grab some more food. But starting with protein is going to improve your satiety, decrease cravings, and help you stop thinking about food all the time. If you need suggestions on what to eat, check out my top 5 protein foods.

Plan your indulgences

For those of us with disordered eating backgrounds, indulgence is tough. We either feel like we should restrict or count every bite that goes into our mouths or we’re indulging at full speed. This always made me afraid of indulging at all, because I felt like I couldn’t stop. And when I did indulge? I felt insanely guilty later. I thought I had to feel guilty or restrictive; those were the only two options. If you are sick of feeling guilty or restrictive when eating, my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet will help you navigate the middle between guilt and restriction. Grab your copy now.

I created my conscious indulgence framework to specifically guide and plan our indulgences.

There are two parts:

Daily indulgences: these are indulgences that are part of our daily routine. We indulge daily because this makes indulging way less taboo. This helps us stop stressing about what we’ll eat, because it’s part of our routine. These daily indulgences are small, things like a few malt balls, some wine, or maybe a handful of chips.

The second part is the conscious indulgence. A conscious indulgence is an indulgence you specifically plan and are choosing. This may be something a little bit bigger or more substantial but it’s always consciously chosen. We would use these indulgences when we’re out to eat and we’re making tougher nutrition decisions. So, when we walk into a restaurant, we already consciously choose how to splurge and how we’ll stay more consistent with our goals. This gives us the willpower to pick healthier options to fill the rest of our plates. Win, win, and win(e).

This framework has changed my relationship with food and has drastically reduced my food stress. And that’s why I’ve put together an entire implementation guide in my #ConsistentNutrition cheatsheet. Click this link to learn more and grab your copy.

Show me what YOU choose to indulge, both daily and consciously, in with #myconsciousindulgence.

I hope these help! Try out these three ways to stop stressing about food and let me know what you think!

Do you stress about food?

How to stop falling off the healthy eating bandwagon: 80/20 rule

Want consistency with healthy eating and exercise to be second nature? Follow this system.

Since starting at Google three years ago, efficiency has been the focus. Because of this emphasis on productivity, every time I start a new project, I ask myself the same question: how can I optimize for the 80%?

Why does this matter?

Optimizing for the straightforward 80% frees us to focus on the more challenging (and impactful) 20%. 

[Source: The Pareto Principle]

In any given problem, about 80% of cases will be standard. If we can identify that simple 80% and automate a process around them, we no longer have to work on them. As an example, maybe you work in customer service and you get 100 requests per day. If 80 of them are on the same topic, you can very easily automate a response or create a help center article to answer the question. Once you resolve the 80 simple requests, you can spend time working on the more complicated ones in your inbox. Win win.

On the other hand, because the remaining requests are more complex, they’ll make up the majority of your efforts and outputs. You’ll need to focus more intensely and come up with customized solutions for each one.

By the end of the day, 20% of your requests generate 80% of your work. And if you can automate that 80%, your day becomes a heck of a lot easier…and more efficient.

This sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Because we all want to focus our energies on the things that really matter, the 80/20 rule (or Pareto’s Principle) can be applied to so many areas of our lives. And as a nutrition coach, I’ve realized the importance of using the 80/20 rule in my coaching to help women get even more consistent with their nutrition.

Why apply the 80/20 rule to nutrition?

The 80/20 rule makes us more consistent with food and nutrition.

About two years ago, I signed up for my first online bootcamp. After battling with anorexia for 8 years at that time, I really wanted to change my physique: more muscles and less belly fat (don’t we all?).

I was SO excited. I took my initial progress pictures, gathered all my equipment, and got ready for week 1. But as soon as I opened the nutrition guidelines, my stomach sank. The portion suggestions, calorie counts, and macro breakdowns were incredibly overwhelming.

As I cooked my chicken breast with vegetables on Wednesday of week 1, all I wanted was a glass of wine. In that moment, I was overcome with a feeling of failure and sunk to the floor in tears. All of the counting and measuring made me so obsessive that I again was battling with my ED.  As I leaned against the cabinets in my tiny kitchen, tears streaming down my face, I realized I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t make myself abide by crazy restrictive guidelines without slipping back into ED. So by the next week, I stopped following all of the bootcamp nutrition guidelines to keep myself from getting overly obsessive, restrictive, or super guilty.

If we struggle with ED tendencies or food obsession, the 80/20 rule is the answer. It allows us to focus on the things that really matter, while automating the rest.

Let’s break it down.

Struggling to be consistent with food? Apply the 80/20 rule to your nutrition and get consistent once and for all.

In order to use the 80/20 rule, we’ve got to consider two things: the 80% and the 20%.

Handling the 80: #automatethatshit

When it comes to the standard 80%, we’ve gotta automate. To automate our eating, we create behaviors that are SO automatic that we don’t even have to think about them.

My first suggestion to start automating your nutrition is to be BASIC and focus on the essentials of good nutrition. Instead of counting anything, we focus on just two things: protein and veggies. Every single time we eat, grab a portion of protein and some vegetables.

This super simple strategy makes all the difference, because we’ll be eating lots of nutrient dense and non-calorie dense foods. This will allow us to eat more AND make we you aren’t missing out on any key nutrients. In layman’s terms, low calorie density = large portion size. And large portion sizes keep our bellies happy.

After doing this for a few weeks, we stop thinking about it and the behavior becomes automatic.

We can all use a little help making our eating more automatic, especially in tough eating situations.

Consistency with healthy eating and exercise is really tough. As a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I have women emailing me almost every single day who just can’t seem to stay consistent with healthy eating and exercise. They know that eating healthy and exercising are “good for them” but have a hard time implementing what they “should” do when life is crazy, their schedules change, or their motivation wavers.

Before automating my eating, I ate well all week long but by Friday, I’d overdo it on boozy beverages and treats. All weekend long, I’d feel guilty and disappointed in my lack of willpower. Now, I eat consistently every single day, without feeling anxious about my indulgences.

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt. Grab your copy now.

Handling the 20: #mindthemiddle

Now comes the fun part: the tough (and impactful) 20%.

When we’re outside of your automated nutrition, we do not restrict or aim for perfection. Instead, we focus on moderation and minding the middle.

To mind the middle, we take each eating situation and pick the moderate option.

As as example, maybe breakfast, lunch, and dinner are automated but that after dinner snack is still tough. In that case, we’d pick an option that’s not the best but also not the worst. Instead of having a bowl of ice cream or nonfat plain greek yogurt, maybe we grab some Halo Top or my chocolate mug cake. 

Is it the best option? Heck no. But it’ll also keep you satisfied and less obsessed with your next treat.

Part of why I love using the 80/20 rule in my nutrition coaching is that it inevitably shifts us away from obsession. When we’re no longer counting, measuring, or analyzing everything that goes into our mouths, what we eat occupies SO much less mental space.

Wanna try it?

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

And I want to teach you with my #ConsistentNutrition cheatsheet. Don’t miss this. 

If you’re looking for more examples of how I #mindthemiddle,  I’ll be posting on Facebook and Instagram about how I stay consistent during all situations my eating using the hashtag #mindthemiddle. Don’t miss out!

What’s one nutrition question you have?

Two reasons I won’t take a cheat day

When we open Instagram, and look at any fitness accounts, images of cheat days prevail. We all know taking a cheat day is all the rage right now. It seems like every fitness model, personal trainer, and workout enthusiast posts pictures of deep fried oreos or juicy cheeseburgers every other week. The cheat day has become so popular that it seems like everyone’s doing it. With so many people tracking macros, counting calories, and eating out of tupperware, a cheat day starts looking pretty good.

We may look down at our standard lunch of a salad or a sandwich and wonder if we need a cheat day too. Truth is, choosing a way of eating is a completely personal decision, and I’m a little biased, my friends, but I don’t believe that nutrition strategies should require you take days off, even if St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner.

There are two main reasons I won’t take a cheat day.

Cheat days have become SUPER popular. But this is why I won't take a cheat day. Ever.

Cheat days encourage restriction on all other days.

When we’re living the cheat day lifestyle, it becomes a big no-no to indulge on any other day. If it’s not a cheat day and we find ourselves craving a piece of chocolate, what are we supposed to do?

Sangria sorbet cheat day

We can eat the chocolate, feel guilty, and beat ourselves up. Or, we restrict ourselves and wait until the next cheat day on our calendars. Neither of these options sound good to me.

halfway cooked chocolate mug cake

With my history, the cheat day mindset perpetuates an unhealthy relationship with food. While I haven’t ever fully given into the cheat day lifestyle, I used to have a similar mindset when it came to drinking. Drinking was not okay on weeknights. I’d only let myself have something to drink on Fridays or Saturdays (well, and sometimes Thursdays cuz I was sooooo close). So on that random stressful Tuesday night, after we’d both had super long days, I’d watch Andrew grab himself a beer without a second thought, and I’d weigh my options and make deals in my head.

I worked 11 hours today, I deserve a Mike’s Harder Lemonade.

If I have a Mike’s Harder today, I’ll skip the pasta with dinner.

Maybe if I run for another 20 minutes tomorrow, I can have one. 

I couldn’t understand how he could make this decision so easily.  It was effortless, carefree, and easy. He didn’t go back and forth, debating the ramifications of enjoying a single beer on a Tuesday night. If he wanted one, he had one. I, on the other hand, beat myself up for even wanting a sugary can of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

See, when we only allow ourselves to indulge or enjoy our food on specific days, it gets way too easy to restrict ourselves and making certain foods off limits.

That’s a big part of why I reject the concept of cheat days: they encourage restricting yourself.

But truthfully, there’s a whole other reason you won’t catch me posting about my cheat day escapades.

I don’t actually NEED a cheat day.

My nutrition strategy has indulgence and mini-cheats built in, every single day. This keeps me from wanting to eat the entire cheesecake. I’m content after a few bites.

IMG_5040

I no longer restrict myself from eating foods (and drinks) I enjoy. I’ve stopped trying to eat “perfectly.” In fact, if I can look back at a day of eating as perfect, I did something wrong! I ask myself just one question, and this guides how I eat every single day, regardless of where I am.

Is it possible to stay consistent with your food wherever you go?

Learn to stay consistent with your nutrition so you no longer need cheat days.

I talk with women all the time who are struggling to stay consistent with their nutrition. They know what they “should” eat but they can’t seem to implement it when outside of their normal routine. They either restrict themselves and feel super deprived or they get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever they want, leaving them feeling lots of guilt. They feel trapped between restriction and guilt. It doesn’t have to be this way. With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt.

Grab a copy of the FREE #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet.

Look, my friend, I don’t want you to struggle with obsession and restriction anymore. It sucks and is crazy stressful. Our mental space is so much better utilized outside of the food and exercise realm. To take one step closer to that #cheatdaynotneeded lifestyle, let’s try something different this week: try giving ourselves one indulgence per day. See how it feels. By the time our cheat day comes along, we may not even need or want it.

Have you taken a cheat day before?

How often should we eat for weight loss?

Today, my friends. I am dispelling one of the most common nutrition myths out there. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever done any research about dieting or losing weight.

If I want to eat for weight loss, I should eat every few hours.

Beachbody coaches everywhere tell their clients to never let themselves get hungry. Thousands of free diet plans float around the internet provide options for your six small meals per day. This belief is so widespread that if you ask anyone how you should eat to lose weight, they’ll tell you to eat often so you never overeat. They’ll spout some fact that eating every couple hours stokes your metabolism and helps you burn more fat.

How often should we eat for weight loss? Should we really eat 6 meals a day? I'm answering these questions once and for all.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

I hate to break it to you, my friends. There is absolutely no scientific evidence (I searched!) out there that eating every few hours is better for weight loss. When it comes down to it, your body burns the same number of calories breaking down your food you eat regardless if you eat three meals or seven.

With that in mind, it’s super important to figure out an eating schedule that works for YOU. Determining how many meals to eat is a process of trial and error, because it’s all about creating habits that are easy and natural for you! 

Over the last year, I’ve switched from eating every couple hours to eating four larger meals per day. This change has helped me make progress towards my fitness goals and automate my eating. My friends, I will NOT be going back, because it’s made me super consistent with my food, regardless of where I am. Today, I’m sharing WHY I’ve made that shift but If you wanna learn exactly how I’ve found consistency, I’m sharing handful of things you need to implement daily to eat moderately, completely stress-free here.

Why I eat four meals per day

It promotes satiety

Back when I subscribed to the idea I had to eat often to stoke my metabolism, my meals were super small. And let’s be real, small meals=hungry Katherine. When you eat mini-meals, you never feel like you ate enough. You know the feeling, you finish your chicken and broccoli but you feel like you can and should eat more.

Bleh. I hate that feeling.

So, when I started eating four meals a day, spaced out by 4-6 hours, I had to start eating bigger meals. And guess what? I loved it! As I added more protein and fat to my meals that nagging feeling of “I want to keep eating more even though my plate is empty” went away.

Now, I feel satisfied for hours after each meal, which is awesome after living in a constant state of hunger for years. 

It decreases my daily caloric intake

Wine, Protein, Veggies

When I first started trying to eat for weight loss, I tracked my macros to ensure I got everything I needed. At first, I was worried I’d start gaining weight because I was eating “more.” But what I found was pretty surprising.

I was eating less than before!

After doing a bit of research, I found this is actually pretty common! When you’re eating six times a day, you end up eating more than you think. Snacks turn into mini meals and your mini meals tend to be a little bigger than they should be.

Confining my eating to four times a day has helped me keep my calorie intake within healthy ranges, even when I’m traveling or eating out.

It gives me flexibility in my social life

Eating six meals a day can make social situations more difficult. Sure, you can grab happy hour and pick at a side salad but how satisfying is that? Oh, and you’ll need to eat again in two hours, so don’t hang out for too long. With an eating schedule that includes bigger meals, your life doesn’t have to revolve around your food.

It’s so nice to be able share meals with my friends and loved ones again without worrying I’m eating too much.

I hear from women all the time that they have a hard time eating on the go. Drive-thru’s, happy hours and travel can botch even the best intentions for healthy eating. SO, I put together this super simple cheatsheet for dining out and how to stay consistent with your nutrition wherever you go. No crazy meal plans, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately, completely stress-free. Grab a copy of the FREE #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet here.

Now, even though eating four meals a day works super well for me, please don’t take this as a one size fit all approach. Do some experimentation! You may do best on three bigger meals, and that’s totally okay! If you want to find a way of eating that works for YOU, I’d love to work with you on your nutrition goals. If you’re ready to make some changes and reach your nutrition and fitness goals, let’s chat!

How many meals do you eat daily?

3 steps to eat out AND stay consistent

Eating out. It’s religion for some and an enjoyable pastime for all. Let’s be real. We all love to do it. Tasty, convenient, fun, and a break from the standard, day-to-day routine. Even though it’s a lot of fun, eating out doesn’t always help us reach our nutrition goals. Restaurant foods can be much higher in fat, salt, and other additives that we wouldn’t normally add to our home cooked meals [source]. And don’t even get me started on restaurant portion sizes.

But guess what? As a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I plan on eating out around once a week, even when I am working on fat loss goals.

When reading most of the personal trainer/nutrition coach perspectives out there, eating out often becomes the devil. But I’ve actually found a way to eat out, enjoy life, AND still get results. Oh and I’m sharing it with you.

For all of 2016, I spent my time commuting between California and Texas. Always on the go and rarely feeling settled, I turned to restaurant options more often than I’d like to admit. Even though I was “eating well” most of the time, I was over-indulging (hello wine 7 nights a week) and paying the price. At first, I definitely noticed changes in my energy levels, body composition, and mindset.

But, after tons of trial and error, I’ve come up with three simple steps to guide my restaurant eating.

3 steps to eat out without breaking the calorie bank

When reading most of the personal trainer/nutrition coach perspectives out there, eating out often becomes the devil. But I've actually found a way to eat out, enjoy life, AND still get results. Oh and I'm sharing it with you.

1) Break down every menu into components.

When we look at menus, we can often feel overwhelmed. There are so many items and none of them look like our meal plans. Instead of shaking our heads, calling it a wash, and ordering a “cheat meal,” start dissecting that menu. Figure out what’s listed and narrow it down to the healthier options.

If I’m struggling, I start by looking in the salad and entree sections. Usually, I can find some sort of salad with grilled chicken, and I’ll use that as a starting point, doctoring it up to my tastes.

A couple suggestions to get start right now:

  • Pick proteins that are baked or roasted. This gives good flavor without tons of fat.
  • If you’re a vegetarian, make sure your item has a protein source.
  • Choose carbs based on your goals. If you’re aiming for fat loss, ask for a double serving of veggies and skip that potato.

2) Choose protein and veggies that’ll satisfy you

Once you’ve narrowed down the menu, stop counting macros, analyzing portions, or counting in any way. Instead, focus on getting lean protein and veggies on board. Ask for substitutions if they’re needed! Nbd.
My favorite way to do this is head to the entree section of the menu. Find a protein that sounds tasty, then ask for double veggies instead of the carb. Often, restaurant meals are made up of protein + lots of carbs & fat + a little veggies. Instead of stressing about finding an entree that is exactly what I’m looking for, I pick the protein I want and change up the rest of the plate. By the time I’m done ordering I’ve got protein + lots of veggies + a little bit of carbs/fat.
These options will maximize nutrient density without the extra calories you’ll find in the starchy sides and will actually leave you feeling satisfied for longer.

3) CHOOSE every indulgence

Instead of eating and drinking everything in sight, be mindful about your indulgences. Often, we feel we deserve something special when we’re eating out. However, truth is, you ALWAYS deserve something awesome. Still, if you want to indulge, be thoughtful about it & make it a conscious decision. Be aware of what you choose to indulge in.

For those of us with disordered eating backgrounds, indulgence is tough. We either feel like we should restrict or count every bite that goes into our mouths or we’re indulging at full speed. This always made me afraid of indulging at all, because I felt like I couldn’t stop. And when I did indulge? I felt insanely guilty later. I thought I had to feel guilty or restrictive; those were the only two options. If you are sick of feeling guilty or restrictive when eating, my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet will help you navigate the middle between guilt and restriction. Grab your copy now.

I created my conscious indulgence framework to specifically guide our indulgences. It makes indulgence part of every single day–without going overboard. So, when I walk into a restaurant, I’ve already consciously chosen how I’ll splurge. This gives me the willpower to pick healthier options to fill the rest of my plate. Win, win, and win(e). Show me what YOU choose to indulge in with #myconsciousindulgence. I’ll be posting throughout the week on the topic so don’t miss out.

I talk with women all the time who are struggling to stay consistent with their nutrition, especially when eating out. They know what they “should” eat but they can’t seem to implement it when outside of their normal routine. They either restrict themselves and feel super deprived or they get overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” and eat whatever they want, leaving them feeling lots of guilt.

I’ve been there. For years, I went out to dinner or happy hours only to order the lowest calorie option. I’d crave something tasty but knew I *should* order something light, so I ordered grilled chicken with roasted vegetables. I’d feel pretty good about myself…until appetizers came. Sweet potato fries, meatballs, and bread with pesto dipping sauce would fill the table. I’d try resisting…for about five minutes. Eventually, I’d always give in, indulging in fries, meatballs, bread, and lots of wine. Even though I knew what I should do, I couldn’t. I was too bored by my choices to stick with them, so I went overboard and felt super guilty afterwards.

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt.

Grab your copy now. 

Do you enjoy eating out?