Learning to Listen to Your Body: Why Biofeedback Matters

We all have heard the phrase, “listen to your body!” But, what exactly does that mean and how do we do it? How do we know what it’s telling us?

Sometimes we can trust our own judgement on what our body is telling us, other times we can easily let our emotions skew what it’s actually telling us. We can mistake boredom for hunger, or stress can suppress our hunger. We may need a rest day, but our guilty conscious may be telling us to push harder and workout anyways. We may be starving, but that online macronutrient calculator says we can’t eat anymore that day or we will gain weight.

Learning to listen to our bodies and constructively assess biofeedback is key to getting to know what our body really needs. The more we practice this, the easier it will become and a great place to start is having a coach or someone from the outside looking in, that can help us assess what’s really going on without getting emotions involved.

We can be given the most perfect nutrition plan in the world, but if our biofeedback is off in one or more areas, it can greatly affect progress. For example, if we are hitting our nutrition on target every day, but we are sleeping like crap, we are bound to feel like crap! This can alter the number on the scale, the way we perform and our body composition, just from lack of sleep! Hence, why it’s so important we are constantly looking at the big picture.

As coaches, we want to make sure that week to week we are not only assessing nutrition but we are assessing all biofeedback markers. So let’s take a look at what these markers are and why they are important!

SLEEP

The first marker, and we venture to say the most important one of all, is sleep! It seems to be glorified these days to be running on empty and burning the candle at both ends, but why? Sleep is when our bodies are able to recover from the long hard days and stress we put it through. Getting 8 hours of sleep is crucial to make sure that our energy stays steady throughout the day so we can perform and accomplish what we need to through the day. This is also a time where our hormones repair themselves. Ghrelin and Leptin are our two hunger hormones, if these aren’t fully recovered and rejuvenated, our hunger signals can be thrown off. Have you every been extremely tired and felt hungrier than normal? That’s because lack of sleep is most likely giving you false signals which can lead to overeating and weight gain! Think if this is day after day and month after month it can be seriously hard on your health! With lack of sleep motivation to be active can go down and it’s much harder to put our bodies to their full potential! Lack of sleep can cause more inflammation in the body which can be the start of many more health problems.

ENERGY

Piggybacking off of sleep, keeping track of your energy patterns throughout your day and week is helpful. It should not be the norm to feel huge spikes and drops in energy. If you are, then you will want to look further into quality/quantity of sleep, recovery, food quality and quantity & daily stressors. Not enough sleep of course is the number one culprit, but eating low quality foods, unbalanced calories, or having too much stress can all contribute. Diving deeper into these areas and making small changes can do wonders for your energy levels! If you are constantly walking into the gym with low motivation and low energy, it’s not always beneficial to “push through.”

HUNGER

Are you constantly hungry or thinking about food? Are you never hungry and have no appetite? Neither is a good thing! Unless you are purposely in a well planned out caloric deficit that you have a time line for, regular, extreme hunger is not a good thing! Yes, we should have regular hunger signals throughout the day, that is healthy! But if you are ravaging 24/7 it’s a sign that you need to up your calories. When in a dieting phase hunger will naturally be higher, but it shouldn’t be anything you can’t handle. On the contrary, if you are in a dieting phase and you don’t feel hungry at all this can also be a red flag. We should have natural hunger signals, especially when in a deficit. If hunger is totally gone, it’s a sign your body is adapting and needs a break from dieting.

STRESS

Stressors in life will happen and a little stress isn’t always a bad thing, however, if you are in a constant state of hair-pulling stress, it’s likely you need to make a change. Emotional and mental stress directly affect our bodies physically and can prevent progress from happening and can even potentially cause weight gain. Again, these days stress seems to be glorified, when in reality it is a slow killer. If you feel like you are stuck, look at the stressors in your life and if you feel like stress is high, make it a priority to start finding ways to rid of it! Meditation, yoga, more sleep, workouts, time with family & friends, vacations, getting outside, whatever you find relaxing and rejuvenating- make more time for that!

If you are looking to live a healthier life and get results- whether that be weight loss, performance, weight/muscle gain or just overall better quality of life, nutrition is key. However, nutrition and your biofeedback go hand in hand, one will suffer without the other! Beyond scale weight, measurements and body composition, the above markers play a huge role in your overall health and success. Next time you feel frustrated with progress or how you’re feeling, dive deeper into these markers and see if you can find something that is throwing you off!

 

Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny (Scratch that- Healthy) Feels!

We’ve all heard the saying, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels!” But what constitutes skinny?

Does skinny really feel that good?

Will being skinny be enough of a motivator to maintain that physique and discipline it takes?

Does skinny=healthy?

I would argue, that nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!

Skinny can come from starving ourselves, it can come from sickness, it can come from healthy habits and discipline, but it can also come from unhealthy habits too.

If we are motivated solely by physical attributes, it’s a means to being disappointed and burned out.

I used to be that girl, that constantly chased a certain look. I would kill myself in the gym and eat like a bird to try and be skinny and even when I was that, it wasn’t enough. I never saw myself as skinny enough and was never quite satisfied.

We need to chase something bigger, it’s human nature to appreciate something more and protect it more if we work hard for it and if it gives us a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

It’s easy to eat fast food. It’s easy to skip the gym. It’s easy to sleep in. It’s easy to be too busy to prioritize ourselves. It’s easy to make excuses. It may even be easy to be “skinny” but none these things make you feel amazing from the inside out. None of them give you long term satisfaction. None of them give you the results you are really looking for.

Instead, what if we focused why we even want to look a certain way?

When you look that way, how do you think you would feel?

What would your life look like?

What would your daily habits be?

What would you have to say no to?

What would you have to say yes to?

What would you have to sacrifice?

What would you gain?

Personally, I started to find a love for pushing my body physically, it started with running and doing races and turned into Crossfit. It became a challenge for my mind and body daily to push myself and become a little better. Finding something that I enjoyed that made me healthier and stronger, naturally made me want to eat well. Once I started to shift my focus from what I looked like aesthetically to what my body could DO, my life changed.

I often get asked how I resist the temptation to eat “bad” foods. First off, there is no cheat foods or bad foods, food is food (that’s a song for another time)! But are some foods better for our health than others? Absolutely! We all know those foods that make us feel like crap and although I love pizza and cookies once in a while, I rarely have the desire to reach for those foods over the nutritious ones I know will make me feel good.

Just like anything else, eating well is a learned habit. All of those junk foods out there are made specifically to get us addicted! So we must make the conscious effort over and over and over again, to choose to eat well! The knee-jerk reaction to choose the good foods doesn’t happen overnight, but if you continuously make the effort, eventually it will just become habit.

More than anything you will become addicted to the feeling of feeling amazing. Then, the physique you want will just become a bi-product of the healthy habits you’ve created.

I know what I feel like when I eat well and exercise and i’ve engrained it so deep in my habits that now I know if I go too long without moving my body or if I eat too many crappy meals, I will feel like crap! Of course, I still have times where I indulge and I skip days of working out, but I always come back to my home base because I know that’s where I live my best, healthiest life.

Feeling healthy and engraining those habits doesn’t happen at the drop of the hat, it takes time, hard work and dedication! So here are a few ways you can start chasing the feeling and your ‘why’ behind true health:

  • Start small! Switch out one habit you know is holding you back, for one that is going to make you feel amazing!
  • Write down your ‘why.’ Put it somewhere you can see it everyday. Maybe this is to live a long life with your kids, to travel, to be able to hike or do something you love!
  • Identify current daily habits that are holding you back. Write down an action you can take to combat those habits
  • Get an accountability partner! Someone that has your best interest in mind, that wants you to succeed and will hold you accountable to your goals.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself! Remember, we are playing the long game here. Slips ups will happen, the journey won’t be perfect, but if you keep going, you will look back and be so proud of the changes you have made!
  • Have fun! Living a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be torture. Healthy foods are delicious and moving our bodies can be fun! Find new recipes, hire a coach to help you, find forms of fitness that you enjoy!

I want each and every one of you to feel how good it FEELS to be healthy. No more beating ourselves up because we aren’t skinny enough or don’t look a certain way. It’s time to experience true health from the inside out!

XOXO,

Katy

 

 

Getting Uncomfortable: The Secret Sauce to Results

Do you ever have those times in life where you just feel stagnant? Like you’re coasting through the day to day, no real highs and no reals lows? The feeling i’d describe these times with is just, “blah.” Life is routine, a little predictable and most likely cushy and comfortable. Sure, during times like these, there may be little life stressors that come up, but all in all, it’s easy to coast here.

Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely times in life where this is okay and even necessary. Always chasing and pushing for the next thing can lead to major burnout, but I believe the danger comes when we sit in this space for too long. When we know we’re settling and aren’t pushing ourselves to our full potential.

Take a step back and ask yourself, am I exactly where we want to be? Do I have everything that I want, am I exactly who I want to be? Or do I desire more?

It’s so easy to look at other’s lives and wish we had the money, the lifestyle, the body, the relationship, the career, or whatever it is that someone else has, yet we could be spending that time taking action on our own lives to create that reality for ourselves. One thing i’ve learned so far in life is that most of the things we truly desire come with a lot of hard work, dedication, time and a willingness to get uncomfortable.

Getting uncomfortable. Being a little scared shitless. Taking action even when there’s uncertainty and fear. Putting in the work even if it’s not popular. Grinding even when we have little to no support. When we are tired. When we are unsure. When what you know you need to do gives you that pit in your stomach…

But we do it anyways.

This is what moves the needle. This is the secret sauce.

Because nothing great comes from comfort and complacency. The people willing to get uncomfortable and take action regardless, are the ones who win. Those are the people who get the results, who lose the weight, who win competitions, who land the job, who create the life they dream of.

The road to having anything great is often a messy, hard road. But if we continue to travel down it and dedicate to the journey, it’s always worth it in the end. Even if it ends differently then we pictured there’s always a lesson to be learned and growth to be made.

We all have opportunities to challenge ourselves daily, it’s just whether or not we are willing to step up and take those challenges head on. These challenges don’t have to be big, overwhelming to-do’s either, starting with small day to day things can build up our confidence to take on the big stuff.

A few ways we can get uncomfortable & challenge ourselves daily:

  • Create a strict wakeup/bedtime routine
  • Dedicate to reading ‘X’ amount of books a month
  • Try a new workout regimen
  • Make small changes in your diet (start with a water goal, veggies at each meal, or increasing protein!)
  • Try one new activity a month
  • Befriend a stranger
  • Think of something that naturally makes you feel uncomfortable/challenged and face it head on and tackle it!

I believe that as humans, getting out of our comfort zones and challenging ourselves is what makes us feel alive. We all need it to grow, learn and up level. If you desire something for your life and you can’t see how to get there or don’t believe you can, start challenging yourself, start getting uncomfortable and it will start to open doors and create an amazing path for you!

Katy

5 Foundational Habits to Creating Your Ideal Nutrition Plan

Would you ever bake a cake without making sure you have all your ingredients before you start? 

Would take off on a road trip with an empty gas tank? 

Or be caught dead getting into a boat with a hole in the bottom? 

What about getting surgery from a doctor that never finished medical school? 

You better believe if you are spending a ton of money to build a house, you will make sure it start with a rock solid foundation!

The point is, there is a process to everything in life. Sure, you could start baking that cake, but you would quickly have to stop what you’re doing to get all the correct ingredients, which ends up making the process longer, or you bake the cake with a missing ingredient and guaranteed that cake will turn out a little funky. 

We wouldn’t take off in a vehicle with an empty tank or a boat that’s sure to sink, that would blatantly set us up for some major trouble! Even more importantly, we would absolutely never expect to go into surgery and find it acceptable that the “doctor” we were seeing skipped a few steps in med school and allow them to work on us! 

So why do we find it acceptable to take shortcuts in our own lives and our own health? We take our time in so many other areas of life to make sure we do it the right way, yet we want the quickest, easiest way to results in our nutrition and fitness. 

At Flex Fuel Nutrition, we are firm believers in putting in the time and the work at the start of the process to build strong roots to build nutrition habits the will last a life time and can’t be shaken. Does this mean perfection? Absolutely not- there’s not such thing! But it does mean creating habits that will get you the results you are looking for and then better yet, keep those results! Will it happen super fast or easy? Well, it happens at a different pace for every person. Why? Because every person is unique, every life is unique and what it takes to establish the habits that will work for your life are different from the person next to you. 

No matter where you are in your journey, we believe there are a few foundational habits that can instantly shift your health. If you implement these habits, you will absolutely be creating  roots  that will be unshakable and eliminate the up and down battle in your nutrition.

  1. SLEEP

So necessary. So crucial. Yet so neglected and underestimated. Quality and quantity and matter here and although calories, macros and food quality matter, sleep is just as important. This is the time where are body recovers and renews itself. This is the time where proper hormone function is restored and our body is signaled the green light to keep running at full speed. Without enough sleep, our bodies are functioning only sub-par. So, if you are struggling with sleep, here are a few ways to start improving it today:

 Set firm bedtime/waking hours. Even if you crawl into bed and can’t fall asleep for the life of you, doing this ritual day in and day out will train your body and brain that it’s time to get some Z’s! Be militant in your bedtime! 

Turn off all blue light 60+ minutes before bedtime. Blue light signals the part of our brain that tells us it’s time to be alert and awake- the last thing we want before bed! If this is absolutely a struggle, get yourself some blue light blocking glasses and where those at night! 

Brain Dump! Ever lay down and right away your brain starts going a million miles an hour, thinking of everything you need to do the next day or what happened that day? Take 5 minutes before bed to write down all of your to-do’s for the next day and journal anything else on your mind. It will help your brain to calm down, get it out on paper and eliminate the fear of forgetting anything important the next day. 

Create a relaxing environment. Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Get rid of distractions and make it a place you can retreat to, to calm your mind and body. 

2. WATER.

As you can already see, these habits aren’t going to be rocket science! But we can’t reiterate or stress these simple habits enough and water is at the top of the list. Our bodies NEED water to function and survive. Water aids in digestion, gives us energy, transports nutrients throughout our bodies, supports healthy hair, skin and nails, helps prevent bloating, curbs cravings and false hunger signals. 

Aim for 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces. If you start tracking your water and find you are way under this, start where you are and at 16oz a day for a week. Then, each week keep increasing! 

Carry around a water bottle and shoot to drink ‘X’ number of them a day. We love HydroFlask or Kleen Kanteens. 24-32 ounce bottles are usually easy to carry with you and an easy way to track how much you’ve had in the day. If you need to get more detailed you can make time markers throughout the day, for example: “drink bottle #1 by 10am” and so on through the day! 

Spice it up! If drinking water bores the living daylights out of you, try adding in some organic lemon, lime or cucumber slices or even some fresh mint! 

3. PRIORITIZE REAL FOOD! We are meant to eat real foods, end of story. Are processed packaged foods ‘bad’? No! (Remember there is no such this as good or bad food!) Rather, ask yourself if that food is truly benefitting you. If we fill our diet with mainly whole foods, we will be much more satisfied, balanced and leave less room for snacking on those foods that aren’t serving us. We will get the nutrients we need, will have better digestion, energy and fuel to do the things in life that we love. If we are filling our daily calories with processed, packaged foods, it is much more likely that our bodies will have an adverse reaction and lead to a host of problems! 

Aim to get your proteins from organic meats and whole carb and fat sources with protein sparing nutrients. Organic animal protein is the quickest way to get a substantial amount of protein in and having a serving at each meal will help you hit your goal easily! Don’t forget that eating foods like veggies, beans, potatoes will also have protein sparing nutrients that will help add to your daily intake! 

Get the majority of your carbs from veggies, potato, squash, grains and fruit! Everyone needs their greens! So put this at the top of your list! We all respond a little differently to different carb varieties so pay attention to how you feel after eating them. This is where we get our daily fiber intake, which is crucial for digestion and moving toxins through our body! Be sure you are getting enough fiber and keeping sugars within a healthy range! 

Healthy fats are not the enemy! Fats tend to get a bad wrap, but let’s be real, fat is delicious! If we don’t have to eliminate it, why would we?! We need fats for healthy hormone and brain function and it’s a great source of energy, so eat up butter cup! Of course, keep in mind that 1gram of fat has over double the calories of 1gram of carb or protein, but a small amount really does go a long way! Eat in moderation and you will be in a happy place! Find your fats from foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut oil and olives/olive oil! 

4. MOVE EVERY DAY. Walking from your couch to the kitchen doesn’t count! Move with intention every. damn. day. We were not meant to sit all day every day at a desk, a computer, on a couch, a car or a plane. In today’s society we have to actively combat being sedentary. 

Track Your Steps.

This is an easy way to make sure that you are moving throughout your day. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily tasks and realize you haven’t moved all day long! There are tons of devices like Fitbit or Apple Watches that you can easily track you movement with. Start by tracking a normal day, see where you land, then try to increase your day by 1000 steps each week. 10k a day is a great goal and is an significant amount of daily movement!

Find something that will keep you interested!

If you are forcing yourself to do a workout you hate, that habit is a means to an end. Just because your family or friend loves a certain form of exercise doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for you! Find something that is appealing to you that you can stick to! As long os you are challenging yourself and moving your body, you are doing something that is healthy for you! 

5. TRACK YOUR FOOD

This is a great first step if you have a specific weight loss or performance goal, to finding out what your next step should be! If you have no idea how many calories you are currently intaking or what the balance of those calories are, then how do you know what your next steps should be? 

Get a food tracking app! 

We love My Fitness Pal but there are others like Lose It or Chronometer that work well too! Input the food you eat daily, to find out where you currently sit with calories. Doing this can teach you a lot about the food you eat! Track your food for 7 days so you can see the pattern in your intake.

Look at average calorie intake over the week. 

If you are eating super low calorie, high calorie or somewhere in between, knowing where you’re currently at can then help you figure out which direction you should go in terms of calories from there. 

Look at balance of proteins, carbs and fats. 

Tracking your food is a great way to see where your calories are coming from. Maybe you’re getting a ton of carbs but hardly any protein? Or maybe you love fats but aren’t getting enough carbs to fuel your activity level? The balance of our calories is crucial to making sure we are properly supporting our goals and lifestyle. 

These are just a few starting points to changing your habits long term. We don’t need to overcomplicate it! We recommend nailing these down for a solid month and then start challenging yourself more and more from there. Too much too fast can result in overwhelm, so remember to create small wins and then build from there! 

If you are ready to make a change, but aren’t quite sure how to structure it or where to start, we created our 4 week course, Flex Fuel Roots, that can help you with exactly that! If you aren’t quite ready to hire a coach but need some guidance establishing core, foundational habits, this course will take you step by step in establishing those! 

Flex Fuel Roots

 

Brittney: Nutrition Journey through Pregnancy and After!

Name: Brittney

Age: 31

What led you to flexible eating/Flex Fuel?:

I reached out to Flex Fuel when I was 5.5 months pregnant with my daughter. I was really looking for guidance on how much food my body needed for pregnancy. I knew I wanted healthy weight gain, but didn’t want to go crazy with the whole “eating for two thing”  

After having Briar in July I took a 3 month break to focus on her. I started back the end of September with the goal to lose my baby weight, but it was important to me to still be able to nurse.

What do you do to stay active?: I Crossfit 3 days/week and run 3-5 miles a week.

What has been your biggest challenge through this process so far and how did you overcome it?

In the beginning my biggest challenge was eating all the food I got to eat throughout the day. I was in the mindset of eating little, then binging when my appetite got out of control.

What has been your biggest success through this process so far? 

I have two! My biggest success so far is getting my first pull-up! I had been working on that for 5 years and after dropping weight, it finally happened! Also, my body is in the best shape it’s ever been in at 31 after two kids! I’m even seeing baby abs trying to come out!

Why do you like most about the flexible eating process?

I like the planning process of flexible eating. It gives me control over my food versus feeling like my food controls me.

What is your favorite treat to fit into your macros? 

I get two rice cakes with 2tbsp of peanut butter and a tablespoon of chocolate chips EVERYNIGHT

What’s your favorite macro hack? 

My favorite macro hack is adding in collagen in my coffee if I find my self having a hard time getting my protein in.

What do you like most about having a nutrition coach?

I love the accountability and guidance of having a nutrition coach. I have no idea what I’m doing so it’s nice to rely on someone who knows my goals and how to get me there the healthiest way possible.

Would you recommend others to Flex Fuel and why?

Yes, yes, yes! If you want to be able to have a healthy relationship with food and still be able to eat while you see results, Flex Fuel is where it’s at!

Brittney 9 Months Pregnant!

Brittney 3 months post partum

Brittney almost 8 months post partum!

Katy took Brittney through a reverse diet, making sure she had ample calories to support a healthy pregnancy! After taking 3 months off (eating intuitively with the habits she learned through her reverse), we took some time to make sure she was eating the right amount to support breastfeeding, then we began a dieting phase. Through consistency in her daily nutrition and workouts, Brittney continues to see improvements in body composition all while maintaining a healthy relationship with food!

We are so proud of you Brittney and so happy to call you a part of our Flex Fuel family!

Are Your Goals Realistic and Sustainable?

If you knew the hard work and discipline it took would you want it? If you finally achieved 6-pack abs could you sustain that year round? What does health, happiness and sustainability look like to you? Everyone’s journey and goals are different, so what will work for you?

runners.png

When first starting to count macros, most people will see great results cosmetically and in their performance. The adjustment of getting the right balance of macros alone, will usually alter someone’s appearance and allow them to feel better in the gym. Everyone wants to look good naked and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this! However, if your goal is to lean down and have 6 pack abs, this may come with a cost. Let’s look at an example:

Suzi hires a nutrition coach to lose some weight and “see some abs,” as well as increase perfomance in the gym. She works out 5 days a week, mixing in weights and cardio variations. She definitely doesn’t want to get “bulky” but she does dream of looking like Christmas Abbott or Kayla Itsines. In her first 3 months she is feeling amazing, leaning down, seeing muscle tone where she never has before and progressing in strength and performance in the gym. Life is good and she doesn’t mind living in a caloric deficit because the results are worth it!

6 months in Suzie is looking leaner than ever, but would still love to be stronger, leaner and see even more abs and lean muscle tone! Her performance is still maintaining but she feels she is slowly plateauing. Suzie loves the progress she has made but still wants more and is slowly burning out being on such a restricted caloric intake.

This type of situation can often results in two things: Suzie lives in a deficit long enough to where she see’s those abs and hits that all- time low body fat but is now in a daily caloric deficit that she is struggling to maintain, or she is living in a caloric deficit where she still can’t quite see that lean muscle she was hoping for, but her body isn’t producing enough energy to build the muscle she dreams of.

lifter.jpeg

This is where we all must come to the realization that we cannot have peak performance, stage-ready abs and super low body fat all at the same time. Are there exceptions to this rule? Sometimes, but all in all this is just science! 

Low body fat and walking around super lean usually requires living in a caloric deficit and seeing weight loss. Building muscle mass and performance requires living at maintenance or surplus calories and seeing weight gain. You cannot live in both of these worlds at the same time. In the first 6 months to a year of macro- counting you might, but beyond that you must face reality! 

This process takes TIME. Painful I know, but if you wanted the quick path to the Brooke Ence or Rich Froning body, I’m sorry but you aren’t going to find it here! We are all in a never ending eb and flow of improving our mind and bodies and anything worth having does not come quickly. You must put in the work day in and day out in the kitchen and in the gym and know you’re in it for the long haul.

fun.jpeg

I encourage you to sit down and write out what is most important to you and what you are and are not willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals. Whether it is to just lose weight and get healthy, see abs or perform your best; make sure you are clear on what it takes to get there. Most of all, whatever your goals are, make sure you can sustain and enjoy the process. 

A good coach will be up front and honest with you on what it will take to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Be leary of anyone serving you a “quick fix” diet and choose a coach that asks the hard questions and wants to know more about YOU and what is going to be sustainable for your life, because it is no one else’s but yours. 

All the Love, 

Katy