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.

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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?

Why I’ll never cancel my Stitch Fix membership

I’ve never been one of those girls who loves shopping. Hanging out with my bestie in Anthropologie was always fun. I could wander around a book store for hours. I love getting new running shoes. But when it comes down to it, day long, we-need-to-buy-you-a-whole-new-wardrobe-or-at-least-a-winter-formal-dress trips aren’t for me.

As a teenager, I remember heading out for shopping trips with my mom. We’d pile into the car, full of expectations, and drive to the closest mall. Walking in through Nordstrom, we’d always start in the shoe section (easy enough). But somewhere between the second dressing room and a Starbucks visit, the trip stopped being fun. I’d be frustrated, angry, and sad. My mom would try so hard to cheer me up and pull me out of the fog of self-criticism, but I’d normally just snap at her. It got to the point where we couldn’t shop together anymore, which broke my heart. I love my momma.

If we’re being real, shopping for clothes has been a battle since 2005, when I was diagnosed with anorexia. Although I’m no longer that thirteen year old thinking she needed to lose 20lbs, shopping has never gotten much easier. Every time I enter a dressing room, my mind is filled with all the “shoulds” of the last twelve years, namely that I “should” fit into a size 4.

I've been a part of Stitch Fix for years and writing Stitch Fix reviews for months now. This is why I will never cancel my Stitch Fix membership.

I believed this “should” so deeply that all throughout high school, I wouldn’t keep clothing if it wasn’t in a size 4. I’d go shopping with my best friend and try on tons of dresses, even if I absolutely loved one that fit me in a 6, I wouldn’t buy it. In my irrational, eating disordered head, 6=fat. If I had to size up, I’d start crying, get angry/frustrated/sad, and ultimately walk out of the store.

Even as I recovered, got stronger, and reclaimed bits and pieces of my life, shopping didn’t get much easier. I’d still get upset about sizing up and body dysmorphia made trying on clothes feel like a freak show. Hitting the mall was a major trigger that could throw me off for an entire week. If I felt “fat” from a shopping trip, I’d eat less or over-exercise to compensate. Not a good plan.

It wasn’t until after college that I discovered the Stitch Fix: the service that made shopping so much easier and actually FUN.

In case you aren’t familiar with Stitch Fix, it is a program where you get an online stylist who sends you 5 items whenever you prefer. I get items every eight weeks or so. The items your stylist sends are based off of your style profile, which includes everything from fit to style to budget. You’ve got three days to try everything on in the comfort of your home, with your current wardrobe all around you. Then, you choose what to keep and send back what you don’t like (totally free – shipping is included).

Why I love my Stitch Fix membership

It’s taken the trigger OUT of shopping for me. My stylist knows me, my style, and my body. I no longer have to guess what size is right for me, which brands run big/small, or even what styles will be flattering. Instead, she sends me curated items based on how I want to look and feel in my clothes.

Now, if I have to go into stores and shop, I’m amazed at how frustrating the experience can be. Picking sizes is a shit show, and I have no idea how anything is going to fit.

I’ve seen TONS of Stitch Fix reviews about the clothes and service but nothing about the impact on mindset. I’ll never cancel my Stitch Fix membership, because it’s helped me be more accepting of my body. It’s changed how I think about clothing and sizing. Stitch Fix has helped me have fun with fashion, because I don’t have to make decisions about size. This is life-changing for an eating disorder survivor.

So, yes, the service is amazing. The clothes are beautiful. It’s super convenient. But more than that, it’s been a tool in my journey to self acceptance. I hope you’ll join me.

If you want to know more about my journey, I’m getting real with my email buddies later this week. On Thursday, I’m sharing a super personal story about how I’ve started accepting my body, regardless of what the tag on my jeans says, AND sharing my exclusive strategy to detach from clothing label numbers. Enter your email below before to join the party. Don’t miss out.

Do you have a Stitch Fix membership?

Fitness motivation: Sorry, I can’t motivate you

Happy 2017, my friends! Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s 2017?!

To start the year, Andrew and I are living out our fitness, backpacking through Patagonia. Right about now, we are on our way to El Chalten for our first night camping, near the Laguna de Los Tres. I can’t wait to show off all of our hiking pictures when we get back! Just in case we get some wifi access, be sure to follow me on Instagram! I’ll be posting when I can!

laguna-de-los-tres

For most of us, with a new year comes new fitness goals.  I’m no different!

A few of my goals?

  • Run a half marathon (trail or road…still TBD)
  • Finish a sprint triathlon with Andrew
  • Complete 10 uninterrupted chin ups

Whether it’s losing ten pounds, getting stronger, or attempting an audacious new fitness challenge, we hit the ground running on January 1st, inspired to make a change. Fitness motivation and enthusiasm are high as we start the year. But what happens when February rolls around and your determination begins to fade?

Here’s how to make sure your motivation lasts all the way into 2018.

Do you struggle with fitness motivation to workout? Sorry, I can't motivate you. This is why (and what to do instead).

When I started researching motivation and how to inspire folks to exercise consistently, I planned to write a post that would serve to motivate everyone to stick to their New Year’s Resolutions. I hoped I’d find some tools and tricks to give you that would help you reach all your goals. Instead, I found the opposite.

As much as I would love to help provide pearls of fitness motivation wisdom, the truth is, that isn’t going to work.

Sorry, I can’t motivate you to make a lasting change.

As I delved into a review of the research [source], the data was resoundingly conclusive: internal fitness motivation is what keeps people consistent in their exercise habits over time. Nothing I say to you, as your trainer or best friend will keep you motivated over the long term.

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Instead, numerous studies show that external motivation–like the guidance and support of a trainer–can help you get started (and I would LOVE to in my upcoming New Year, New You Bootcamp) but your intrinsic motivation (read: motivation that comes from within, not from external sources) to exercise is what keeps you going 12, 24, and even 36 months later.

So what does that mean for you and your fitness motivation in 2017?

After doing tons of research [source 2], I’ve found it’s pretty simple to maximize your intrinsic motivation. If you want to make progress towards your New Year’s Resolutions and beyond, all you need to do is two things.

1. Stop focusing on outcomes

When we focus on the outcome instead of the process, we set ourselves up for long-term failure, whether or not we reach our outcome goal. Think about it. If you want to lose 10lbs and you do, your motivation will decline once you hit that number. If you don’t? Your motivation will STILL decline from not reaching your goal. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me.

I’m not saying to throw away outcome goals all together, in fact, they help you get started, but if you also work to value the actual act of exercising, you’ll achieve much more long term success.

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Start thinking about all the positives that come with working out. These will be super individualized and personal but some examples of how to focus on the actual act of working out include mantras like:

  • Doing circuit workouts are fun/enjoyable.
  • I love improving my kettlebell skills.
  • By working out, I’ll be able to stay active for the rest of my life.
  • I build a community of friends through my workouts.

To get your personal mantras, ask yourself questions like:

  • How does exercise help me live the life I want?
  • What do I enjoy about working out?
  • How am I building social connections through working out?
  • How does exercise make me feel?

2. Set skills-based goals

Another way to achieve long term fitness motivation is to focus on building skill competency. In other words, emphasize skill development in your workouts. By picking a new sport or skill, you’ll set goals that revolve around improving yourself. This is HUGE with adult exercisers, because research shows that skill development is strongly correlated with greater exercise participation over the long term.

lunge

Spend some time thinking of a skill you want to develop and make a plan. This could include joining an adult sports league, mastering a tough movement pattern (like maybe a Turkish Get-Up), or increasing your squat weight.

If you focus on the experience of exercising and set skills-based goals, you’re setting yourself up to succeed with your long term fitness goals. This is why I include a whole module on mindset in my New Year, New You Bootcamp. Instead of focusing solely on extrinsic motivation–like finally getting that six pack–we take time to get our minds right and ready to take on new challenges. This exciting new bootcamp starts up right after the MLK Holiday. I would love to work with you!

What is YOUR fitness motivation?

How I stopped gaining weight on vacation

Happy Boxing Day! I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas holiday and is enjoying this day off with family and friends. We’re soaking up as much time as possible with Andrew’s and my family, including all the doggies as we prepare to head out on our backpacking trip.

While I am preparing and packing for our trip to South America, I’m reminded of how stressful travel used to be for me. Even just a couple years ago, heading out on vacation was a huge stressor and always led to gaining weight. Because I couldn’t with my standard exercise and nutrition routine, I had no idea what to do. I’d either restrict my eating to an extreme degree when I couldn’t exercise OR overeat all the delicious things “because I was on vacation.”

It wasn’t until last year when I moved to Texas and began traveling more that I had to figure out this travel thing. I knew if I didn’t, my health, workout routine, and nutrition quality would decline.

With lots of experimentation, I’ve identified four key steps that make a huge difference in stopping weight gain while you’re traveling/vacationing. My super simple MOVE framework is your guide to maintaining your weight while on vacation.

Read More »

Resilience: your #1 fitness skill

You have the best exercise equipment, a fabulous workout program, and nutrition guidelines at your fingertips. You feel ready to go, ready to attack your fitness goals with determination.  But the bad news is that’s not necessarily going to determine your success in implementing a nutrition or exercise habit. Whether you’re an olympic athlete, recreational exerciser, figure competitor, or busy student trying to fit in your workouts, you will not succeed if you do not have one thing: resilience.

Why resilience matters

You have the best exercise equipment, a fabulous workout program, and nutrition guidelines at your fingertips. You feel ready to go, ready to attack your fitness goals with determination. But the bad news is that's not necessarily going to determine your success in implementing a nutrition or exercise habit. Whether you're an olympic athlete, recreational exerciser, figure competitor, or busy student trying to fit in your workouts, you will not succeed if you do not have one thing: resilience.

I hate to break it to you, but things aren’t going to be perfect. It’s likely that you’ll stay up too late watching your favorite show, leading you to oversleep, miss your workout, and jack your hunger cues.

It (shit) happens, and your success hinges on your ability to come back to the good habits you’re building.

Before I started focusing on my resilience, I let little things derail me. I became frustrated when I didn’t have the ideal equipment for my workouts or when I only had twenty minutes to train. Resilience has helped me stay more positive and consistent. And remember, consistency leads to results.

Three ways to strengthen your resilience

Focus on the good

Resilience is focusing on the positive whenever possible, instead of getting bogged down in the details.

Did you train for 20 minutes instead of skipping a workout? Count that as a win!

Subbed out a couple exercises because you didn’t have the equipment? Awesome. 

My favorite example?

results

Your expectations for a single training session can actually increase the benefits you get from working out.  In other words, thinking positively about what you were able to do can help maximize your results.

Plan!

Help yourself to be more resilient to life’s challenges by creating a plan that supports your willpower. 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.

Sweaty selfie

My Three S Formula for Consistency and Motivation will bring awareness to your workout habits and make sure you stay on track, even without motivation.

Utilize both your short and long term memory

When it comes to resilience, you’ve got to maximize both your short and long term memories.

If you’ve slipped up, it’s time to use your short term memory and let that mistake roll off your back. When you wake up the next day, forget you were not acting in line with your goals. Just move on and focus on the next action you can take that supports your goal.

mimosa cups

On the other hand, if you’ve had a little win, HOLD ONTO IT. Focus on that feeling of empowerment and success for as long as you can. This will motivate you to continue!

If you’re looking for help becoming more resilient so you can make positive changes in your life, I’d LOVE to help you create your fit lifestyle.  accountable, check out my upcoming programs. I’d love to work with you!

What’s one fitness or nutrition habit you’re trying to implement?

My moderation journey

Moderation has become quite the buzzword recently. I’ve talked about it, defined the heck out of it, and worked on it as a skill. Truthfully, it’s only been in the last six months that I’ve realized that moderation is the ONLY way I want to live my life anymore.

But if I’m being honest, I definitely have NOT always thought this way. I was one of those people who constantly was praised for her self discipline, which is awesome when it comes to schoolwork, but self-discipline can have some ugly side effects outside of the classroom.

See, where most people hit the wall two weeks into a diet, I broke through it and went ahead at full force. Where most people want a bowl of ice cream two weeks into their diet, I cut more calories for just thinking about it.

 

Moderation has become quite the buzzword recently. I've talked about it, defined the heck out of it, and worked on it as a skill. Truthfully, it's only been in the last six months that I've realized that moderation is the ONLY way I want to live my life anymore. This is my journey to moderation.

For about eleven years, I struggled with a severe eating disorder that took away parts of my childhood, all of my teens, and some of my young adulthood. I restricted my caloric intake excessively and always.  My workout routine was relentless and was my way of burning off every calorie I ate. And when I slipped up? I hated myself. Often, I would look in the mirror or try on clothes and just collapse in tears.

Note my approach to the holidays from about 2004-2015.

Thanksgiving Day: run a 10k, eat extra because I’m hungry and tired, have dessert (and wine once I turned 21 😉 )

Day (or honestly, weeks) after Thanksgiving: count every calorie that goes into my mouth, exercise an hour+ per day, hanging on until the next happy hour excuse to relax

It was miserable. This cycle of indulging followed by severe restriction fueled nothing but disordered eating, over-exercise, and crappy body image, regardless of how thin I became.

Katherine without cellulite

I was constantly searching for a better way to live.

My journey to moderation

After years of restriction, I battled every day to eat more food that would nourish my body and fuel my goals. I’d be lying if I told you it was easy. There were days during my recovery when I cried while eating the extra food.

Swirls

Things started to shift in 2014. I found Jill Coleman‘s writings on moderation. Her ideas piqued my interest.  You mean, I don’t have to restrict to see results; I just eat the same way every single day? Cool. I can do that.

And that’s exactly what I tried to do.

My Thanksgiving plate looked like my dinner the night before.

Andrew and my anniversary dinner was nothing out of the ordinary. 

I drank beer (OK, Mike’s Hard Lemonade) or wine most nights. 

Combined with the strength training I recently discovered, I lost body fat, dropping into a pretty lean for me range. I was STOKED.

It wasn’t until mid-2016, I realized something that blew my mind: trying to eat mostly moderately every single day was actually just another way for me to continue restricting myself in the day to day.

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Because I focused so much on eating the same every day, I found myself slipping into old, restrictive patterns.

Social invitations were declined so I could eat the same foods (even if I enjoyed them)

I wanted to indulge on special occasions but made myself stop

Traveling stressed me out (because how could I find my foods)

Since that realization, I KNEW I had to make some changes. I don’t want to be in that restrictive space anymore, so I’ve started testing the waters with some new ideas.  I’ve shifted my approach to be one where moderation is two seemingly opposing concepts.

My #consciousindulgence approach to moderation

  1. Eat in a way that makes you feel like you don’t need to have a cheat day
  2. If you overindulge for whatever reason, remember that it does NOT need to be “cheat day” to indulge OR you don’t need a cheat day to (over) indulge

Again, if I told you it was easy, it would be an utter lie. Those ugly thoughts telling me to eat less, move more, and get smaller still are there; I just don’t listen to them as much.

If I want to indulge a bit more (like when Andrew came and visited), I do.

If I need some chocolate every evening to make me feel satisfied, I eat it.chocolate

I’ve been living this way more and more for the last six months, and it’s made me feel more at peace with food. I also feel more empowered to enjoy my life and the experiences that come with them.

So when I leave for Argentina in a few weeks, you can bet I’m taking my #consciousindulgence approach with me.

Mindfulness when shit hits the fan

You’ve got family coming over in an hour, the turkey is nowhere close to done, and you still haven’t showered. There’s no way you have enough wine to get through this day. Hello Thanksgiving 2016. I don’t know about you, but that situation does not sound like one conducive to working on my mindfulness.

Sure, practicing mindfulness is all well and good when life is going your way. We know there are tons of benefits, so it can be pretty easy to incorporate into your daily life on most days. But what about those days when everything goes wrong?

Here’s how I stay mindful when life gets tough.

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My survival nutrition strategies (and why create yours)

You’ve got a work deadline tomorrow, your electric bill is due, you barely slept last night, and the dog is sick. On top of it all, you’re beyond stressed about the results of the election. It feels like the walls are closing in. With all this emotional stress, you stop eating in a way that’s in line with your goals, because sometimes it feels like all you have to look forward to is your next treat.

Life gets really tough, and all we want is to make it a little bit easier. So, we slip into bad habits, whether that’s overeating crap, skimping on sleep, or killing ourselves at the gym to numb the pain.

Please tell me I’m not alone!

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Your motivation and missing workouts

Your alarm buzzes. You roll over to spot the time and feel overwhelmed with exhaustion. Instead of getting out of bed and hitting the weights, you hit the snooze. Or, you finally finish your project at work and get ready to head out the door. You know you should go to the gym but all you feel like doing is watch Criminal Minds reruns and drink wine…so you do. Your motivation does nothing to get your butt off the couch.

Wine, Protein, Veggies

If this sounds familiar or you find yourself skipping workouts, this is for you!

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