dynamic stretching

How to create the best 20 minute workout

We head to the gym or lace up our running shoes most days. Maybe we’re 100% consistent with our workouts or maybe we’re still struggling to build that habit. But either way, we can all identify with the nagging question: did I do enough?

I talk with women all the time who tell me they’re hitting the gym, getting consistent, but they never feel like they’ve done enough. When they get home, they are constantly beating themselves up, wondering if they should have done more, pushed harder, or stayed longer.

They’re never finishing a workout feeling awesome. And that sucks, right? This makes working out 10000000x less fun AND it makes makes staying consistent with our workouts even more difficult. (are you making one of the top 3 workout consistency mistakes?

I get it. When I first graduated college and started trying to make changes to my body composition, I was working out a TON. I did at least two BodyRockTV or FitnessBlender workouts per day and ran three days a week. I remember waking up at 6am, rolling out of bed, and grabbing my computer to choose my daily workout. First, I filtered out the ‘too easy’ workouts (anything level 1-4). Then, I reviewed the level 5 (or most advanced) FitnessBlender workouts and picked 2-3 to complete that morning. Even after killing myself for an hour, I would feel like I should have worked harder or done more. It was an awful feeling.

So, with lots of experimentation, I’ve found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I’m sharing it today. I’ve found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so  if we include these, we can rest assured we’ve created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we’ve done enough.

Why 20 minutes?

When we’re training for RESULTS (whether aesthetic or performance), intensity trumps duration. When we work out for short periods of time, we are able to push harder and challenge our bodies more than if we drag ourselves through a 60 minute session.

By implementing 20 minute workouts into our routines, we stop making the “I don’t have time” excuse. Through working with women around the world, I’ve found that the 20-30 minute workout is a #ConsistencyKey (a high impact behavior that make us significantly more consistent).

With that, let’s see this formula for the best 20 minute workout, shall we?

The DARR Formula for creating the best 20 minute workout

So, with lots of experimentation, I've found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I'm sharing it today. I've found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so  if we include these, we can rest assured we've created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we've done enough.

Dynamic warm up

When we’re pressed for time, our default is to skip the warm up (*I’m guilty of this*). This is a big no-no.

Warm ups decrease likelihood of injury and help our bodies prepare for intense movement.

If we don’t have time, just include 2 minutes of dynamic stretching and light cardio (think jumping jacks, high knees).

dynamic stretching

Activation round

OK. We’ve used 2 minutes for our warm up. 18 minutes to go in the best 20 minute workout. The next step of the DARR Formula is activating the muscle groups to be used in the workout. With DARR, we focus on full body workouts, so I recommend choosing 1-2 movements per muscle group (listed below).

Lower body

Glute bridges

Glute bridge marching

Bodyweight squats

Bodyweight lateral lunges

Upper body

Arm swings

Arm circles

Elevated push ups

Core

Bird dog

Toe taps

Dead bug

Plank

Alternatively, you can go through one round of my general warm up or my glute and core activation warm up. Both incorporate the dynamic warm up and activation elements.

Resistance training

When pressed for time, we want to make the most of the time we have. So for the remaining 16 minutes of our workout, we will do some high intensity resistance training. My favorite way to do this is implementing Metabolic Effect’s Rest Based Training (RBT) principle (see more here). With RBT, we work as hard as we possibly can for the prescribed interval, resting only as needed.

The simplest way to do this is to do a 4×4 circuit: four exercises (1 total body, 1 lower body, 1 upper body, and 1 core exercise), 1 minute per exercise, four times through.

Alternatively, below are a couple of my favorite full body workouts that you can use for the resistance training portion of the workout.

My go-to full body workout

25th birthday inspired full body workout

10 minute full body ladder workout

Full body chained complex workout

Metabolic conditioning full body workout

Recover

Here’s our bonus section. Before we get on with our days, the best 20 minute workout’s gotta include some sort of recovery or cool down.

Foam rolling, stretching, and dog walking are my favorite forms of post workout recovery. Even when pressed for time, taking just a few minute to breath deeply and take a walk can make a huge difference to your performance longer term.

Use the DARR Formula to create the best 20 minute workout out there, and let me know how it goes!

So, with lots of experimentation, I've found a formula for creating the best 20 minute workout, and I'm sharing it today. I've found that the best 20 minute workouts have four components, so  if we include these, we can rest assured we've created the best 20 minute workout out there and stop questioning whether we've done enough.

What’s your favorite 20 minute workout? 

4 reasons we still struggle with consistency

Consistency with healthy eating and exercise is really tough. Women email me almost every single day, struggling, because they 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. And when they don’t stay consistent? They’re overwhelmed with stress and guilt. Yuck.

And we’ve all been there, right?

I struggled every single day before I understood WHY I was inconsistent.  I was obsessed with perfectly following a meal and training plan during college and my first few years of adulting. Any time that I had one treat, shortened my workout, or ate a little too much, I’d be so mad at myself.

One time in particular stands out. It was Friday night after a long work week. I was sitting on the couch, finishing up some last minute emails, when Andrew got home. And because it was Friday, he came bearing gifts: a bunch of cranberry Mike’s HardER lemonades, because he knew they were my favorite. I wouldn’t let myself have one all week, so he brought me one to celebrate the weekend. I drank the whole damn thing (I deserved it). And over the course of the night? I drank two more!

By Saturday morning, I was a wreck. I looked in the mirror disgusted with myself for being so inconsistent with my nutrition. To make up for my inconsistency, I found the most advanced, longest FitnessBlender workout and made myself do it to “burn off” the extra calories. I beat myself up all weekend. 

Now, I know the things that actually make a difference when we’re trying to see results, and I stop beating myself up for the little things. I want to help other women stop struggling and enjoy their lives instead of being bogged down by constant thoughts of food and exercise in the name of consistency.

So, let’s break it down. Over the last year of working with dozens of women online, I’ve found that we generally are inconsistent for a couple reasons. We can turn things around (let me help) as soon as we realize WHY we’re inconsistent. 

4 reasons consistency is a struggle

Over the last year of working with dozens of women online, I've found that we generally are inconsistent for a couple reasons. We can turn things around as soon as we realize WHY we're inconsistent.

We’re overwhelmed

When we try to get consistent, there are so many things we want to change. We want to eat more veggies, drink less alcohol, workout more, eliminate sugar, etc etc etc.

We often take on more than we can handle when we’re exposed to a hundred options. This makes us feel overwhelmed by all the changes in our lives.

And what happens when we feel overwhelmed? We stop taking action and moving forward.

To stop the overwhelm, I’ve created a cheat sheet to consistent healthy eating. 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 here. 

We’re under-prepared

Trying to get more consistent without an explicit plan of what we want to implement is like heading out on a road trip without Google maps.

We’re gonna get lost.

Sooooo…why do we do that with our health goals?

Sure, we may download a workout plan and food list but we don’t make plans on exactly how we’ll implement these changes into our lives. That makes it way to easy to get off track as soon as we face a tough situation. Instead, we need to take the guesswork out of getting consistent by planning out the situations we anticipate.  

We’re busy

Healthy eating and exercising take a lot of time. These can be the first habits to fall by the wayside when things get crazy busy.

For years, I was trapped by 60 minute workouts. Even though I wasn’t seeing results, I thought I had to workout  for 60+ minutes a day, which was a huge time suck. None of the trainers I worked with or plans I found online taught me how to exercise for LESS time and get BETTER results. 

We’re unaccountable

There are so many programs out there that give you one-size-fits-all meal plan and workout program without any customization, coaching, or accountability. If we do a Google search right now, we can find thousands of free downloadable workout and nutrition programs. Pick any of them, and I guarantee we’re going to get the same results: inconsistency, frustration, and a shit ton of guilt about why we couldn’t just stick with it.

This is not our fault. These downloadable, free programs forget the most valuable part of any workout or nutrition program: one-on-one support. Whether that’s on-the-fly troubleshooting, accountability check-ins, or just being there with you, one-on-one guidance is the magic sauce to finally getting consistent with your healthy eating and exercise. In all my programs, I offer lots of ways to connect with me so that you always feel accountable to someone for the changes you want to make in your life.

What helps you be more consistent?

Three workout mistakes that are keeping you inconsistent

Struggling to stay consistent with our workout routine sucks. Sometimes we’re on it. Our workouts fit perfectly into our schedule, our motivation is high, and we’ve got tons of energy. All is good. Until, suddenly, out of nowhere, we’re sitting on the couch watching the Bachelor, realizing it’s been two weeks since we last hit the gym.

Whoops.

I get it. I hear from women all the time who are working so hard to get consistent with their fitness. They know that eating healthy and exercising is “good for us” but they can have a hard time implementing. They buy countless online training programs, download free workout templates, and sign up for Classpass (see why you’re not getting the results you want here), believing that this time will be different, but they’re still missing workouts. (If this sounds like you, my free fitness challenge could help! Sign up here.)

In our minds, it shouldn’t be so difficult. We shouldn’t continue to struggle even when we *know* working out is super important–and even a priority.

Well, I’ve found that we struggle to make our workouts consistent, because we’re making the same we’re-doing-the-best-we-can-and-trying-to-do-all-the-right-things kind of mistakes over and over.

No more.

Today, I’m sharing the top three workout mistakes that are keeping us from consistency in our workouts AND how to overcome each workout mistake using a #ConsistencyKey. A #ConsistencyKey is a high-impact behavior that makes a huge impact on our ability to be consistent. If you’re new to exercise or struggling to get consistent once and for all, it’s time to check yourself.

Three common workout mistakes that keep us inconsistent

Still missing workouts? Check yourself. Are you making one of these mistakes? #3 was the hardest one for me to fix!

Workout mistake #1: we’re doing workouts we don’t love

Our old personal trainer said HIIT was best for fat loss. We read on Tone It Up that we have to lift itty-bitty weights. BodyRockTV says intensity is key to getting results. [Insert source here] said we need to do [insert workout here], so we drag ourselves to the gym to do the next popular workout…even if we hate it.

Lovely, this just isn’t worth it. If consistency is our goal, we gotta move in ways that bring us joy so we actually want to keep moving.

#ConsistentKey Solution: Change it up!

Just a couple weeks ago, I was checking in with a client of mine who was scared to let me know she wasn’t super excited about doing a particular workout in her program. She told me “I know it’s good for me, so I do it anyway.”

Full stop.

Instead of preaching the benefits of a particular style of workout, we pivoted, discussed her exact goals for the next two weeks, and created a new plan she was actually excited about. And you know what? She crushed every single workout in that new phase.

It’s time we stop punishing ourselves with movement and find ways of working out that bring us joy. When we actually enjoy the process of what we’re doing, motivation stops becoming an issue (see the research/my take on it here) and consistency comes naturally.

Workout mistake #2: we’re don’t have a plan

When consistency becomes an issue, self-discipline or willpower will never be our solution. Too often, we try relying on self-discipline, which sets us up to fail.

Instead, I’m a huge proponent of doing all things nutrition and fitness without any willpower and with a lot of planning. It sounds so simple but it’s true. We don’t just skip work meetings because we’re tired. We don’t no-show dinner with friends because we’re stressed about school (well most of the time). But we do this with our workouts all the time.

#ConsistentKey Solution: 3 S Formula for Consistency

By implementing this formula [read the full breakdown here], missing workouts will be a thing of the past.

Schedule

As with anything else in life, failing to plan is essentially planning to fail. So, when it comes to our workouts, we’ve got to schedule them. I recommend taking 10 minutes every Sunday to review the upcoming week and insert workouts into particular dates and times.

Start ahead

While having a plan is definitely helpful, we need to take it one step further and really prepare for each workout sesh. I take it a step further and start ahead mentally by asking myself the following questions before every workout:

What exercises are included in my workout?

Do I need any modifications? Progressions?

What’s my goal for the workout?

How much time will I need to complete the workout?

Stay accountable

It’s incredibly valuable to have someone hold us accountable for the workouts we want to complete. A simple social media check-in can be sufficient but I like to take it a step further. This is why I incorporate accountability elements in every single program I do. Accountability is SO important to our long term consistency success.

Workout mistake #3: we’re forcing ourselves to abide by the “60 minute workout rule”

For years, I believed that I had to exercise for an hour in order for it to *count.* If I couldn’t get in a 60 minute sweat sesh, I’d skip my workout.

I remember waking up late for class in college and realizing I didn’t have enough time for my crazy long workout session. Instead of throwing on my shoes and doing a quick bodyweight circuit in my dorm, I huffed off to class, feeling like a failure.

And that’s so common, isn’t it? We get down on ourselves and feel guilty when we can’t fit in that hour long workout, regardless of the circumstances. 

#ConsistencyKey Solution: reset expectations asap

We gotta get our minds right and reset our expectations.

Before implementing shorter workouts, I’d feel overwhelmed by the amount of time it’d take to complete a workout. On days where I didn’t have at least an hour to devote to working out, I’d just skip it and make myself eat less to “make up for” my missed workout. Now, I’ve cut my workout time in half without compromising results.

Instead of focusing on duration, I encourage my #SpringIntoConsistency ladies and clients to focus on intensity. Whether I’m outside running sprints, doing bodyweight metabolic conditioning, or modifying a strength session to be more metabolic, I LOVE making my workouts intense and super fast.

Why?

They rev our metabolism, making that 60 minute, slow and steady workout pretty pointless. You can bet that’s why all #SpringIntoConsistency workouts are less than 30 minutes!

When train intensely, it majorly increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This means extra calorie burn even AFTER we finish our workouts. While we are resting and recovering, our bodies are making up for all the energy it used during that sweat session.

Before I started training efficiently, I’d spend hours every day working out. And if my nutrition was less than perfect? I’d punish myself with excessive exercise. Now, working out almost every day is just part of my lifestyle. I don’t think about it, and I do it, even when I’m not feeling motivated.

How do you stay consistent with your workouts?

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?

How to stop counting calories (without anxiety)

When we try losing weight, our default is often to start counting calories. We feel that if we can stay within the numeric constraints of a calorie counting plan, we’ll reach our goals no problem. Sure, counting feels good for a while, maybe we start to see some quick results or we like the feeling of control that comes with knowing exactly what we’re eating.

But what about when we’re ready to stop?

This is where the problem lies.

I talk to women all the time who are obsessed with counting, tracking, and measuring their food. 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. They’re so overwhelmed by their food diaries but can’t take a break for fear of gaining weight. As soon as they try and stop counting calories, they’re overcome with anxiety and fear.

I’ve been there, too. I started counting calories when I was thirteen years old, so in a sense, I grew up with calorie counting. And when I tried to stop counting calories and follow a serving based system? I counted servings nonstop. I carried a notepad with me everywhere, counting, and recounting everything I ate. I felt like if I stopped, I would eat with abandon and gain 20lbs overnight.

My friend, there IS an alternative.

I’ve come across tons of resources out there to help us stop counting calories but nobody addresses the mental side: how do we give up the control that comes with counting? That’s where I come in.

Three steps to STOP counting calories (without stress)

Stop changing other things

When we begin thinking about changing our calorie counting habit, it’s often our default to pair it with something else. Why not change all the things, stop counting calories, cut sugar, stop drinking, and do a Whole30 in the same month?

I get it, lady. That’s my default too. I hate change, so I will often pile on about 7 changes at once (see the time I graduated college, moved out of my parents’ house, moved in with Andrew, and started working my first full-time job all in the same week). I was so confused why my relationship was tense and I was feeling drawn to restrictive eating habits again. If it were possible, I’d go back and slap 22-year-old-Katherine across the face.

When we multiple things change, we cling to the familiar.  

So for 22-year-old-Katherine, restriction was safe and familiar amidst all the crazy amounts of change happening in my life. Even though I hadn’t restricted myself for ages, it became 1000x harder not to deprive myself because it was safe.

And this is exactly what happens when we try to stop counting calories while also changing up other variables in our nutrition or fitness.

It’s 1000x harder to stop counting calories when it’s the familiar habit. 

So, when we try to stop counting calories, I do not want us changing up our nutrition or training–for better or worse–while weaning ourselves off the calorie habit. If we are trying to stop counting, everything else should remain unchanged.

This makes things so much easier and lessens the anxiety that comes with giving up the control of the numbers.  It will also free up our mental energy to move away from the calorie counting habit.

Focus on the MACRO view

No, no, not that macro, lovely. I’m talking about taking the birds-eye, overall, or large scale view of your diet. When we count calories, we get so focused on the micro, minute details. When we’re ready to stop counting, it’s also time to zoom out.

No more stressing about grams of sugar. It’s the end of only eating foods that are less than 10% fat. We don’t have to skip out on a snack because we’ll go over our calories.

Instead, we’re going to zoom out and focus on the high impact, BASIC habits that really matter when it comes to our nutrition.  I want to make it super simple. Instead of counting anything, I want us to focus on just two things: protein and veggies. Every single time we eat, grab a portion of protein and some vegetables. If we’re still hungry, add some healthy fat or complex carbohydrates.

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. If you want to learn exactly how I’ve automated my eating and stopped obsessing, join my tribe. I share my best stuff with these ladies. You can sign up in the box to the right.

Go one meal at a time

As calorie counters, we tend towards that all-or-nothing mentality. We see things in black and white, so why would our approach to stopping calorie counting be any different?

Because it has to be.

Looking at our journey to #CeaseConstantCalorieCounting as either “counting” or “not counting” forces us to view things in black and white. And it’s this black and white mentality that makes us stressed and anxious, isn’t it?

So, instead, I go meal-by-meal when I’m helping ladies get consistent and stop counting calories, because this gives us flexibility. This process works for two main reasons:  (1) we accumulate little wins, helping us stay consistent and (2) it lessens the feeling of losing control.

Week 1 may look a little like this:

Monday-Wednesday: count breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks

Thursday-Saturday: count breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Sunday: count breakfast, lunch, and snacks

Then, by week 2, we’ll try dropping to even fewer counted meals:

Monday-Wednesday: count breakfast and lunch

Thursday-Saturday: count breakfast OR lunch and snacks

Sunday: try only tracking one meal

If at any point, we start feeling overly anxious, we simply return to the previous step. Within a few weeks, counting calories becomes a thing of the past.

I hope these strategies help! Let me know if you have questions!

Have you tried to stop counting calories? What helped you?

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?

{wedding ready workout} my go-to core workout

I’ve always been slightly obsessed with my abs. I’ve tried every exercise, piece of equipment, program, and core workout touted on the internet. When I was still on my quest for a six pack, I did Tony Horton’s Ab Ripper X video at least three times a week. I’d roll out my yoga mat in my dorm room (cuz we def can’t do 300 sit ups on linoleum) and get to work. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I was sure to do this routine. At the end of each core workout, I’d shyly look at check my stomach in the mirror for results. And each time, I would be disappointed by the lack of a chiseled six pack.

Even though I don’t necessarily want a six pack anymore (see why!), having a strong, lean midsection is important to lots of us, especially during wedding season.

As we’re inching closer and closer to wedding season, I’ve created my Wedding Ready workout series to help my friends, teammates, and clients get ready to rock their wedding dresses. Over the last few weeks, I’ve put together three exclusive real time workouts to get you wedding dress READY.

In case you missed the first few workouts of the series, check them out here:

Upper body workout: perfect for shaping your back, shoulders, and arms

Lower body workout: special emphasis on your glutes and quads to build strong, shapely legs 

This week, we’ve got the last workout in the series: core! But let’s be real, this is not your typical six pack sit up workout, because I’m all about results. And in order to change your physique, we’ve got to incorporate both effective ab exercises to build strength AND interval cardio to reduce body fat [source 1, source 2].

If that seems like a lot, no need to stress. We’ve got it all in today’s workout.

Your wedding ready core workout

Today’s core workout is exactly how I like to structure my HIIT cardio workout days: sprints and core work. To get the absolute best results possible, we want to do both parts of this workout together. If you need to split up the parts of the workout, don’t stress too much, hit the core workout portion. Just make sure you work a sprint session into your weekly routine.

Before you begin, I highly suggest you do a substantial warm up (like this one). By activating your core, you ensure that it’ll work hard throughout both parts of the workout. Even without the core workout portion, if you sprint hard enough, I guarantee that you’ll feel your abs the next day!

Part 1: sprints!

Head to a track, treadmill, or hit the pavement to complete the following intervals.

Looking for a new core workout? This ab workout will get you wedding ready in no time. And, let's be real, this is not your typical six pack sit up workout, because I'm all about results. And in order to change your physique, we've got to incorporate both effective ab exercises to build strength AND interval cardio to reduce body fat.

Part 2: core workout

When you complete your sprints, it’s time to work that core. We’ve got five super effective ab exercises, with 10 reps each. Go through this super short circuit 2-3 times!

Looking for a new core workout? This ab workout will get you wedding ready in no time. And, let's be real, this is not your typical six pack sit up workout, because I'm all about results. And in order to change your physique, we've got to incorporate both effective ab exercises to build strength AND interval cardio to reduce body fat.

When you smash your workout, be sure to tag me on instagram and facebook so I can cheer you on 🙂 If you enjoyed this workout, you’ll LOVE my free weeklong fitness challenge. If you’re looking to jumpstart your fitness goals, there’s no better time than now!

What kind of workout do you want to see next?

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?