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Get to know us, follow our journey: Part 2, Mallory’s story

  

 This blog was really hard for me to write. I have so many things I want to say, each of them all subtly relating to each other, yet in the same way so different. I would start typing about one thing and suddenly have a light bulb go off and it would lead me down another path of me spewing these passions at you. I don’t use that word lightly but it is my passion to impact as many lives as possible so when I started writing this, it was hard to nail down where to start. I want to talk to you all about self love, about going after what you really want, about insecurities and mindset. About how much I really do care about every single one of you and although I know you’re scared and I know its a lot of work, that we can get you to your happy place if you would just have some faith in the process and faith in yourself.

    I wanted to share a little bit of my current story today for a couple reasons. I have so many people who call me coach, people who I get the opportunity to speak with weekly and hear about their personal struggles and challenges. I get to work with them on conquering those challenges and building their confidence and it is SO amazing. And its not just Flex Fuel members, I speak daily to others outside of Flex Fuel about their fears, their insecurities, and those long engrained cultural concepts about diets and the way we “should” look as society states. I try my hardest to share the knowledge I have, without judgment, because ultimately we all make our own choices and if I can educate you, I’m at least giving you the power to make the right choice. 

    I’m hoping that by giving you a glimpse into my journey, it’ll help you see that no one is immune to the pressures of society as I’ve struggled with them myself and I’ve been where you have been and still have my daily struggles. I work with a lot of people where the commonality is shame and guilt for getting to the place they are in when they come to us for help with their nutrition. Then they add more guilt on top of that for feeling bad about feeling that way, its a vicious cycle. I’m here to show you, I’m human too and not perfect by any means and I dont expect you to be! I am constantly striving for progress and to make my health a priority but there have definitely been hiccups along the way. 

    I grew up as a middle child in a small town with awesome parents and two sisters, who I am very close with to this day( shout out to the fam!). We didn’t have very much money. In fact, I can remember the only time my mom let us buy candy was for New Years Eve. In the summer we would get a box of otter pops or a case of grape soda but aside from that, we didn’t really buy those treats. My mom loved to bake so I grew up having fresh cookies in the kitchen pretty regularly and we always ate dinners at home. Since money was so tight, the only time we ever ate fast food was the occasional Sunday after church and we would go to Wendy’s and order off the 99c menu. My mom would always say fast food wasn’t healthy for us so although we would stop occasionally, we didn’t eat it often when I was younger. Peanut butter & jelly and Kraft mac and cheese were staples in our household but since they were made at home, I thought they were healthy. 

    Fast forward to my middle school and high school years where I had the metabolism to eat whatever I wanted. In high school I worked which meant I had my own money and trips to Dairy Queen or Olive Garden were pretty frequent with my friends. I knew eating at those places wasn’t the best choice but I wasn’t noticing any negative impact yet. The only deciding factor behind that thought was if I could still fit in my size 2 jeans and since I could, well, it must be okay! Looking back and knowing what I know now, my diet was really leading me down a dark hole. I was tired all the time, I slept more than anyone I knew and had terrible skin. My moods were all over the place, I had some pretty big low’s during my late high school and college years and I’m sure some of that is adjusting to life as an adult but I know a lot of it could have been helped if I had cleaned up my diet. 

    In my early 20’s I bought my first house and lived on my own for the first time. This is when reality struck. My weight started creeping up, my clothes stopped fitting and I was still tired ALL the time. I hadn’t really had to worry about my weight until then but suddenly I wasn’t recognizing my body in the mirror and it sent me into a tailspin of insecurity and desperation to lose the weight. Thats when those ugly old diet myths started wiggling their way into my life. I tried weight watchers and calorie counting and neither of them really worked. I really had no concept of healthy eating because again, I thought if you made it at home, it was healthy. When I tried weight watchers, I would try to get the biggest bang for my buck which meant me buying all of the weight watcher desserts and weight watcher meals and my diet consisted largely of over processed junk! When that really didn’t work, I started counting calories and gave myself a hard limit of 1200 calories each day. I had no idea about protein/carbs/fats, I had never even heard the word macronutrient and figured that whatever I ate, as long as it didn’t’ surpass that calorie limit I would be fine. 

    I did that for YEARS with little success. I had started running in hopes of burning off the body fat I had gained and was running about 5 miles every day on a 1200 calorie diet. It wasn’t working for me, I was still tired all the time but I was TERRIFIED of eating more than 1200 calories because if I was fat and didn’t like my body eating 1200 calories, I surely wouldn’t like myself eating more. I was burning the candle at both ends, running all the time and not eating enough to fuel my body which is why I could never see progress. Then came my saving grace, crossfit. My friend had tried it out at our local gym and encouraged me to go. I was scared, all my close minded insecurities were very loud and I tried to think of every reason I could to get out of it. Thankfully my friend wasn’t going to let me get away with skipping that easy and came to my house to pick me up. 7 years later and I’m still going strong. 

   Because of crossfit, I’ve done Paleo and completed several whole 30 challenges. Paleo/whole 30 kind of blew up in popularity at the same time crossfit was growing, they seemed to go hand in hand. I had zero clue about either of those eating styles and if I hadn’t given crossfit a chance, who knows, I would probably still be eating 1200 calories and feeling like crap. Both of those diets pulled me out of hole I had dug myself in to and gave me a really strong foundation of eating quality foods. Once I saw how great I could feel and what eating quality foods did for my performance and energy levels, I wanted to know more about nutrition. The problem I ran in to with paleo is there really isn’t any quantity control. I was eating a jar of almond butter every couple days, putting grassfed butter in my coffee every morning and just simply way over eating those “healthy” foods. My physique didn’t look how I thought it should with how much work I was putting in to the gym and how clean I was eating so I looked further into the world of nutrition and found flexible eating. 

    I signed up with a well known macro company and was assigned a coach long before I ever became a macro coach. It was a new world for me and I wanted someone there to help me along the way and guide me down the right path because I had messed things up in the past, I didn’t want to do that again. I had amazing success with that coach and got the leanest I had ever been in my life. I’ve always had a little belly pooch, I have a picture of me in my first bikini at age 10 and I had it then and for once, I had abs! Well surely this must mean I made it then right!? I let those abs define me which meant I was terrified once again but this time, of losing them. Not only was my mindset f*cked, my hormones and health started to be too. I stopped having a period. Weights that used to be a breeze felt impossible and I started having the urges to binge. My meals that had trustily gotten me that lean were no longer satisfying and I had an incontrollable hunger and war in my head. If my thoughts weren’t obsessing over my imperfections, they were focused on food and how I would be a failure if I ate outside of my plan. I felt shame if someone saw me eat something I had deemed as “bad” and so I snuck it…..creating even bigger shame. I had zero clue about nutritional periodization, it had never been mentioned to me by my coach and being new to the world of flexible dieting, it was just a word I hadn’t heard before. Calorie deficits should not last long term and looking back and knowing what I do now, my coach should have started adding food back in once I had gotten so lean, but instead, I was kept on a big deficit which when coupled with my past dieting history, was a recipe for disaster. 

    It has been quite a journey to get to where I am today. I had little success cutting last summer to lean down. My body just did not respond the way I had hoped it would and that progress I was aiming for didn’t happen. I was frustrated, insecure about my body, and thought everyone would compare me to the times I was leaner. I had to face the harsh reality that my system needed time to repair and rebuild after all those years of restricting my diet and even when I had first started macros and was kept in a deficit for too long. Thus began the long road of reverse dieting. Its a mental battle for sure. I already felt heavier than I’m comfortable with and had to be okay with gaining. I’m working with an awesome coach(shoutout to Brandy) because coaches need coaching too and have been adding in food slowly for a really long time to repair the metabolic damage and get my body to a healthy state. Currently I weigh the heaviest I have ever weighed in my life. There are days when my insecurities try to run the show and I want to hide from the world. I’m afraid people are thinking I shouldn’t be coaching because I dont have abs right now, I’m thick, its distorted thinking and something I’m constantly working on but I’m human! 

 

   I’m telling you this now because summer is approaching and many of us, myself included, is starting the next phase of our journey to lean out a little. We all want to feel and look good during the summer and there is nothing wrong with that! I’m heading into week three of my cut but there is a key component that is priority to me now and should be to all of you and thats self love. Through the years, the one thing that had remained consistent was the ugly negative self talk I had with myself because I always thought “well if I can just get to that weight” or ” if I can just have abs” then I’ll finally be happy. Guess what? That is not how it works. We all have our battles and unless we put in the time to work on our mindset and the way to speak to ourselves, that no matter how lean you get, or how strong you get, or whatever “finish” line you get to, it will NOT matter unless you’ve done the work mentally. I’m excited to see where I can take my progress this time around with a healthy body and happy mindset. I’m going to be as vulnerable as possible and give you a real, no filter look into my life in these next few months of cutting in hopes that it will show you that you’re not alone. 

 

     I had abs once… yet when I looked in the mirror, all I could see were the things I didn’t like. Its been a challenging road but I love the path that got me here. It wasn’t ideal and it wasn’t always healthy, but I’ve made it a priority to learn as much as I can and its shaped me into the person I am today. My hope for all of you and the people I get to work with is to educate you and smash those diet myths so that you don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made when it comes to nutrition and to help you see just how amazing you are! 

 

Wishing you the best in whatever phase of your journey you are in! 

 

Mallory

Why we choose tracking macros over counting calories and why you should too!

When it comes to any kind of eating plan, whether your goal is to have weight loss or weight gain, it comes down to basic science, calories in vs. calories out. If you’re looking to lose weight, you need to consume less than you expend and vice versa for weight gains, you want to eat more. If it comes down to caloreis, then youre probably wondering why calorie counting doesn’t cut it by our standards? That’s because there is one major flaw, it doesnt take into account the 3 different macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and how much you’re consuming of each. 

 

Protein: essential for protein turnover in our body. Builds and repairs tissue and is the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. 

Fats: Energy source, aid in hormone production and the formation of cell membranes. They also provide our body with the esstienal fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6 which our body cannot produce on its own. Fats help joint health, as well as cardiovascular health.

Carbohydrates: The bodies preferred source of energy during workouts. They help restore glycogen levels after high intensity workouts and aid in shutting off your CNS response so you can start to recover post workout. Fiber is a carbohydrate and is important for digestion, can help decrease cholesterol levels and may help lower heart disease. Fiber also boosts our overall gut health. 

Depending on what your goals are will make a difference on what your specific macronutrients should be. Training age and diet history, activity level, type of activity you’re involved in, specific performance goals and physique goals all can be met more efficiently by hitting the right macronutrients. Each macronutrient has specific roles in our body and we opperate the most effectively when our body is getting the right ratios. Someone that is only focused on calories may only see progress to a certain extent because they could be filling their diet with fats and carbs and eating minimal protein. Or eating high fat, low carb, low protein. There are so many scenarios that can come into play when you are not paying attention to the specific macros and only focusing on calories. By tracking your macros, you can ensure youre eating a diet that is tailored specifically for your needs and goals. 

 

Let’s take a look at 4 very different scenarios to show exactly what I mean when I say that tracking macros focuses on each individuals needs unlike counting calories would. 

Scenario one: A crossfit athlete trying to improve performance.

Scenario two: A weightlifter who is trying to gain lean muscle mass. 

Scenario three: A construction worker who has a physically demanding job but does not work out, feels like he lacks muscle mass to perform job optimally. 

Scenario four: A middle aged women who is mainly sedentary with a significant amount of bodyfat to lose. 

 

All of these people would benefit from tracking macros to aid in their specific needs and demands. If they only have a calorie goal they are aiming for, they are more than likely not eating the right foods to help them in their specific needs. The crossfit athlete would benefit from a diet higher in carbohydrates because the demand of their workouts, where a weightlifter does not have those same demands. A middle aged women who is pretty sedentary with bodyfat to lose would benefit from tracking macros to ensure that she’s not filling up on all of one macro and not the others. Since she is sedentary, she doesnt have the same energy demands as the construction worker or crossfit athlete so her carbohydrate intake wouldn’t need to be as high. Typically what we see is if someone is overeating one of the macronutrients, they’re undereating in the other macro deparments. All of these scenarios would benefit from tracking protein intake to ensure they’re consuming enough to support the breakdown of tissues during workouts, to help build or at least maintain lean muscle mass and to promote positive body composition changes. 

Counting calories can get you a good jumpstart on your weightloss plan but eventually you’ll plateau, performance will likely suffer, and it’ll leave you in a dead end because it doesnt address nutritional periodization and where to go after eating in a calorie deficit. We are happy to help you get out of your diet rut and create a nutrition plan specific for you that will optimize your health and progress and improve how you feel from day to day. If you have any additonal questions or want to chat, please dont hesitate to reach out to us by clicking the ‘contact us’ tab at the top of this page! I hope you guys had a wonderful weeekend and have a kickass week! Happy Monday! 

 

With love,

Mallory

 

Testosterone

I think naturally when anyone hears the word testosterone, we immediately think male. But this particular hormone isn’t just for the guys. Its important for females to have as well and having an imbalance in your body can result in a number of things. 

 

Why is testosterone important? 

In males:

-regulates libido

-regulates fat distribution (maintaining a lower body fat)

-helps build strength and muscle mass

-regulates erectile function

-aids in faster recovery and healing rate

-important for sperm production 

 

 

In females:

  • essential for bone strength
  • the promotion of lean muscle mass and strength
  • regulates sexual function (creates the desire and arousal for sex) 
  • improves energy 

 

When we have low testosterone, we can suffer from things like:

-low energy

-lack of sex drive

-depression

-weight gain

-reduced bone density

-weakness in muscles

-thinning hair/skin

-inability to make quick decisions

-brain fog 

 

 

    As we age, our hormone production slows down but that doesn’t mean you can’t take action to keep those levels balanced as we age. Food is the most powerful weapon you can use to establish a proper hormone balance. This is why nutrition is so important and should be looked at first and foremost when an imbalance is found. Lifestyles that include things such as high stress, low activity level, and not enough quality sleep can all have a huge impact on hormone production thus creating an imbalance in testosterone. Dietary habits like alcohol consumption, low fat or low protein consumption, eating refined sugar, trans-fat and soy can also play a roll in low testosterone. 

 

Luckily, there are steps we can take to maximize a proper hormone balance naturally! 

 

  1. Sleep! This should be a top priority, aim to get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep each night. We use the word consistency a lot with coaching our clients about food and its no different here. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, your body will run more efficiently. 
  2. Exercise. This is should a no brainer. High intensity workouts and strength training have been shown to have the biggest impact on regulating hormones. 
  3. A balanced macronutrient diet of carbs, fats and protein. Fats are crucial for all hormone production and anyone following a lot fat diet runs the risk of throwing their hormones out of whack. Low fat usually means low cholesterol and low cholesterol means your body could have a hard time producing pregnenolone. I know, it sounds crazy and against what you’ve been taught but cholesterol is not the enemy! 
  4. Food quality. Aim to eat locally grown, organic, high quality, whole foods as much as possible. I’ll attach the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” food lists I wrote about a few weeks back to the bottom of this blog post so you can see what produce has the highest amount of pesticides and which ones are the safer to eat if you can’t buy organic. When it comes to meat, factory farmed, conventionally raised meat comes from animals that have been given antibiotics and hormones which in turn, gets into your blood stream when you consume these meats. Try to buy pasture raised poultry and grass fed beef whenever possible. Wild caught fish is another great protein option. Fiber intake is also an important factor as fiber helps rid the body of excess hormones.
  5. Reducing stress. Our body does not differentiate stress, the stress of a hard workout, work related stress, stress from a financial burden or bad relationship, stress is stress. We can’t ever eliminate stress completely from our lives but we can put into practice some habits that can radically lower stress levels. Relaxation techniques such as mediation, epsom salt baths, writing in a journal and massage are just a few things you can incorporate to lower stress. Don’t be afraid to tell people no if you feel over booked, remember, your health comes before anything else. What good are you to anyone if you’re sick and rundown? 
  6. Eliminating GMO foods as much as possible. GMO stands for genetically modified crops. These crops have been engineered to survive heavy doses of carcinogenic herbicide glyphosate, also know as Roundup!! When we consume this type of produce, these pesticides act an antibiotic and kill the good bacteria in our gut. 

 

A blood panel from your doctor can tell you if you have any hormone imbalances that should be addressed. If you do, first and foremost look at your current diet and lifestyle habits and make changes to those first. Many hormone imbalances like low testosterone can be fixed by the steps mentioned above. If you have taken all those measures and still find your hormone levels are off, then a discussion about hormone replacement therapy with your doctor may need to happen. 

    Our bodies are so complex and it can feel a little confusing or overwhelming while you learn new habits but if you start practicing some of the basic steps above, you can drastically change the outcome of aging. 

 

Happy Monday!

Mallory

 

How to handle your holiday parties

 I grew up with a mother( hey mom!) who LOVES to bake. She spends an entire day morning till night baking her favorite cookie and treat recipes, then delivering plates of the delicious varieties to relatives. This has long engrained in me that Christmas and baking go together. Baking this time of year brings the same joy to me as listening to Christmas songs and decorating the tree, I can’t have one without the other, they’re the 3 amigos of Christmas essentially. This also means there is a ton of temptation. Not even just in my household, but wherever you go this time of year. You just walk into a grocery store during the holidays and magically the baking isle has moved from an easily avoidable middle isle to front and center and suddenly you’re staring wide eyed at the goodies. The good news? You can get through the holidays while staying on top of your health and goals. January 1st doesn’t have to mean doing a ton of damage control. Below are some great tips you can start implementing immediately to handle holiday temptation at holiday parties and avoid the holiday bulk. Make this year the year, ring in 2018 a step ahead of the game!#1: Fill your plate first and go sit down. You are much more likely to overeat if you stand and graze at the snack table. While you’re looking over the thanksgiving spread, remember:

#2: Hit your protein first. Protein is usually the macro we come up short on, especially when eating outside of our home or at holiday parties. Fill your plate with the amount of turkey or ham you need to meet the remaining protein for the day. It’ll keep you fuller longer which will help minimize extra trips to the dessert table. Didn’t pack your scale? That’s okay. Guesstimate as close as possible, I’ll add a chart at the bottom of this post for you to reference for portion sizes using your hand, palm and fingertips when you are trying to guesstimate.

#3 Fill the rest your plate with vegetables. Vegetables are a great volume food full of nutrients that will fill you up without completely pushing you over on carbs and fats.

#4 Try to steer clear of foods heavy in fats. Gravy, butter, stuffing, eggnog and cheesy casserole’s all contain higher fats and fats are very easy to go over on. By avoiding these items, you are giving yourself a better chance at staying as close as possible to your daily macros while guesstimating your meal. Want to indulge a little? That leads me to the next tip:

#5 Moderation. This is huge in flexible dieting success! We know that perfection or hard “no’s” make it harder to stay successful long term. If you want to indulge a little, thats okay! Keep portions moderate and save a cushion of macros. If I know I’ll be guesstimating most of my meal or indulging in some desserts, I’ll save a cushion of my carbs and fats for just that.

#6 Enjoy the time with your family and stop stressing about being exact on your macros! 

Holidays are all about spending time with our loved ones! Don’t let the stress of tracking overshadow a good time. Head in to your holiday’s with these tips in mind and you will succeed. You have the power to continue to work towards your goals during the holidays and put into practice your healthy lifestyle changes. 

Wishing you a fun and happy holiday season,

Mallory

 

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Eat This or That Part 2: Nutrition Labels and Serving Sizes

The stores this time of year look similar to a scene from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, filled with peppermint candy canes and chocolates. Tins of cookies stacked miles high, cheese trays and crackers, chips and dip on pretty much any isle end cap, I can see why the 1st of the year brings so many diet resolutions. I don’t think its only because its the 1st of the year and feels like a new start, I think for most people, they’re just down right sick and feeling lethargic after the flood of holiday treats. 

With the New Year approaching, a lot of people will be trying to eat healthier but in the sea of misleading advertisement on whats healthy, its hard to decipher whats what. I know a lot of people have ideas of what is healthy but when it comes to what you’re eating, read the labels. The best choice is to stick with whole real foods, you know, the ones that come without a bunch of ingredients on the nutrition label. Think proteins like chicken and beef, fish, vegetables and fruits, eggs, nuts, beans and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil. Just try and eat real food more often than not and keep the processed foods to a minimum. Of course there are times in life where you’ll consume something that comes processed in a nice shiny wrapper and thats okay, we aren’t expecting perfection but just be mindful of what you’re eating. You may think you’re making the smart healthier choice but looking over the shelves in our local grocery store, there are a lot of pretty labels that pull the wool over our eyes. One of the first things that stood out to me was the added sugar in almost EVERYTHING. Condiments, soups, pasta sauce, breakfast cereals, breads, and the one I’m going to show, low fat yogurt are full of added sugar. Companies sneak sugar in everything to make it more appealing to your taste buds and when you think you’re making the healthier choice, really, you’re consuming just as much sugar as you would be if you had drank a pepsi…yuck. 

Growing up, my household was full of yogurt eaters. My mom and sister ate one every day and I grew up with the idea that yogurt was a healthy snack. I hated the stuff but would try and force it down as an afternoon snack in high school thinking it was the better choice for me. Not all yogurts are created equal and some may have less added sugar than others but this is a prime example of why we should all be reading our food labels. Yogurt has its benefits sure, it contains nutrients like calcium, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, potassium and magnesium but so do many vegetables and fruits and those come without the added sugar. 29 grams of added sugar to be exact.

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This single serving container of Tillamook strawberry low fat yogurt has 29 grams of sugar. Thats only 8 grams less than a can of Pepsi and actually 4 grams more sugar than that doughnut. You could eat that doughnut and be consuming less sugar than the yogurt. According to the American heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugars a man should consume daily is 37.5 grams, for women its 25 grams. This one yogurt that many people believe is the healthy option puts women over their entire daily allotment and puts men dang close, no wonder we have an obesity epidemic. There is a laundry list of reasons why sugar is bad for our waistlines and our heart but its also creates a viscous cycle of intense cravings. The more of it we eat, the more our body craves it. Added sugar is everywhere and if anything, I just want to point out to you all how important it is to read the labels because what you think may be a smart choice, could basically be sugar water packaged in a pretty container. 

The next topic I wanted to include in this is about serving size. While eating real whole foods is important for our health, portion size is just as crucial. For example, coconut oil is a healthy fat and coming from a paleo background, I used to cook EVERYTHING in that delicious stuff. I figured if its healthy, whats the problem? The thing is, it still comes back to the basics of calories when monitoring weight and drenching everything in coconut oil is not going to help the number on the scale. Plus, have you actually measured out an actual tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil? It isn’t much and if you think of that actual measurement compared to what we pour in the pan before we sauté some veggies, you would realize how much you’re actually consuming. This is why we emphasize how important it is to weigh or measure your food whenever possible. What looks like a little drizzle of olive oil on your chicken could easily be a full tablespoon and magically your fat intake for the day went from 50 grams total to 64, thats 126 additional calories. Multiply that by 4 days of dinners at home that week and bam, you’re over by 500 calories for the week.

Here’s another visual below, the left is an actual weighed out portion of almonds and the right picture is a handful I grabbed. Doesn’t look like a huge difference visually but the macros tell a different story:

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         Picture on the left:                                                                           Picture on the right:

         17 fat                                                                                                 31 fat

          8 carbs                                                                                             14.6 carbs

        7 protein                                                                                            12.8 protein

        213 calories                                                                                        388 calories

You grab a handful of almonds assuming thats about the serving size and you could be a lot further off your tracking than you think. That coffee creamer you use in the morning could easily go from 1 tablespoon to 3 if not measured. In your mind it was just one guesstimated tablespoon though so thats all you have to log, right? Not so fast. One day of that isn’t going to throw off your hard earned progress but if thats something you start doing multiple mornings week to week, it starts to add up. 

Another thing to be mindful of is when eating out. Restaurants typically toss veggies in olive oil, drizzle it over your grilled chicken and suddenly your low fat lean protein with steamed veggies you ordered is packing a much higher fat content than you thought. Being mindful of these things when eating out is going to play a huge part in your progress in the long run. Restaurants are all pretty accommodating when it comes to special requests so by being aware of the fact they could use oils to cook and requesting none, you are making your guesstimates for your meal much closer. 

I know you can’t weigh and measure everything you eat, thats no way to live and flexible eating is supposed to be flexible. I just want to shed some light on these topics to show you how important it is to weigh and measure your foods when you can and in situations where you can’t, to be mindful. We are all perfectly imperfect humans trying to be better, healthier versions of ourselves, otherwise I don’t think you would be reading this blog ;-) By taking steps to becoming more aware and mindful of what we eat, you’re already making huge strides in the right direction. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your families and Santa brings you something special.  

Mallory

My Fitness Pal: Breakdown and a Peek into my Daily Food Log

Planning for the week ahead I was trying to think of something practical I could write about that everyone could use. I get a lot of questions on the best way to log and track foods, so I thought i’d do my best to break it down here and hopefully clear any questions up! Feel free to comment below with any questions or with anything tricks you may have found make things easier!

We encourage our clients to use My Fitness Pal App to track their food. There are other apps out there that work just fine but we have found MFP to have the largest data base of food and have the best accuracy when it comes to nutrition facts. Keep in mind no app is perfect, so always double check your entries! 

When initially signing up for MFP, we recommend downloading the premium version. This is $10/mnth or $50/year. This will allow you to set your macronutrient goals specifically down to the gram, if you don’t have premium it will only let you set it by percentages, which can end up setting your numbers off. Premium version also allows you to set different sets of numbers on different days, which is great for those of you who have several sets of numbers. This keeps you on track and leaves less room for error.

When setting your numbers you will want to go to GOALS=> CALORIE AND MACRONUTRIENT GOALS=>Set your Default Goal (I usually use workout day numbers for this for those of you with more then one set of numbers!)

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Once you have your personal Macros set, you can start tracking your food and easily know how many macros you have used up and how many you have left.  If you go to DIARY=>Scroll to the bottom to NUTRITION=> you can check your macros there to make sure you stay on track. Make sure you are looking under “Nutrients” so you can see you progress in grams, not by percentages. 

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Adding your food in at each meal, you will need to pick the best selection in MFP or if there is a barcode to scan, you can scan in the package. Any food in MFP that is Green Checked is the best option. These are certified and the nutrition facts are usually the most reliable.

After you select your food, you must adjust the serving size accordingly.  For example: You can select Egg Whites where 1 serving=46grams. If you want 3 servings you can adjust serving size to 3. This can be done with ounces, grams, Tbs, etc. You can always adjust serving size or number of servings to make it fit what you need.

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Once you log a food once, it will be saved into your frequent Foods and easy to access for the next time! The more you log the quicker and easier it will be over time!

This is an example of my day completed and how close we want you to hit your numbers! It can be done and the sooner you create the habit of hitting those targets on point, the sooner you will see progress. It can seem daunting at first to weigh out all your food and hit your numbers that precisely, but once you do it consistently it will become second nature!

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I’m currently on a bulk, so I am aware my sugar is high!! My numbers look like this DAILY. Always within a gram or two of my targets! When first starting to track, I always planned my day the night before, now I usually go through my day and just log as I go because it is easy for me to do now. If I ever want a special treat, I plan ahead for it and make sure I fit it in! 

I hope you all find this helpful! Follow me on My Fitness Pal, username katyann53186. I will be going over how to create a recipe in a future blog!!

Have an awesome week, stay on track and always feel free to email Mallory or I with any further questions at personal emails or info.flexfuellife@gmail.com

Katy

Eat This or That Part 1: Eating for Volume

When you’re in the process of cutting, some nights you’ll eat dinner and feel completely happy and go to bed. Other nights you may feel like a bottomless pit and consider eating the entire bag of candy corn. It calls my name from the kitchen drawer and its a problem. There are so many memes out there that joke about how awful candy corn is and it usually involves throwing it in the trash. I don’t understand this because it is literally the candy equivalent of crack for me. I can fit them into my daily macros but I don’t do it very often because one serving of candy corn is gone really quick. Its almost like I black out when eating them and wake up with 1 piece left. Can you tell I have a sweet tooth? When I’m cutting I try and keep things like candy corn out of my diet and try to fill my meals with more volume.

When you’re on a cut, I’m sure you’ve heard myself or Katy talk about eating for volume. Looking over your food log I bet you can find one or two items that are pretty calorie dense. Sure, eating that piece of toast at breakfast or snacking on that handful of m&m’s after lunch may not seem like a lot, but when you’re cutting, swapping out those items for foods that are higher in volume for the same amount of macros is probably the smarter choice.

 A lot of attention has been focused on flexible eating and “IIFYM” because it allows you to indulge and have those treats that you swore off for so long. Yes, flexible eating allows for treats but if we fill our daily diet with calorie dense foods, you’re going to be left hungry and wanting more. Since Halloween is a week away, I figured I would show you some examples of a couple halloween treats that you can fit within your daily macros, but if you’re really feeling hungry, try swapping them out for these higher volume options instead! 

Eat this or that:

 

    • 1 serving size of candy corn

 

0 fat/0 protein/35 carbs

or

 

    •  5 oz of strawberries

 

    •  1 graham cracker

 

    •  8 tablespoons of non fat whip cream

 

1.5 fat/1 protein/32.1 carbs

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    • 1 snack size pumpkin snickers

 

 9 fat/ 2 protein/ 18 carbs  

or

 

    • 99 grams of honey crisp apple

 

    • 1 TBL of peanut butter                                                                                                                                                 

 

8.5 fat/ 3.5 protein/ 18 carbs

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If you’re someone who tends to go for salty snacks like chips, here’s another example of what you could grab instead that is higher volume yet still satisfies that salty crunch! 

 

    • Lunch size snack bag of nacho doritos  

 

8 fat/ 2 protein/ 16 carbs

or

 

    • 2.5 oz non fat greek yogurt

 

    • 1 serving of ranch dip mix

 

    • 3 oz peppers

 

    • 215 grams of cucumber

 

.5 fat/ 9.5 protein/ 13 carbs

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I hope that you can find this post useful and these examples show you a clear example of what we mean when we say eat for volume. If you have a candy corn addiction like myself, we only have one more week of torture my friends, we can get through it :) 

With love,

Mallory

 

The Weekend Rollercoaster Ride You Want Off Of

Sort of. You should always acknowledge your successes and celebrate them but this does not mean going off on a two day eating spree that leaves you feeling guilty and hinders your progress. I am guilty of the weekend roller-coaster. After a week of eating on point, what’s the harm of grabbing drinks with friends on Friday, a Saturday night dinner date or Sunday brunch. Nothing as long as you don’t let this snowball into a weekend long binge. I came across this article that gives great tips on how to make smart choices when the weekend comes around and stop the cycle of weekend overeating.

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/weekend-overeating

Single Macro Foods

Happy Monday! I wanted to make a little cheat sheet list for those of you who at the end of the day, are left with one macro to fill yet have met your others. Have 30 grams of protein you still need to eat but used up your carbs and fats? Or met your carbs and protein but have a little fat left? This will hopefully help you be more familiar with healthy food options to look for when trying to fill those remaining macronutrients.

Protein dominant foods:

  • Chicken breast: Contains 26 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat per 4 oz serving

  • Fish: Cod and Mahi Mahi are a couple of the leanest containing 0 carbs and .8 grams of fat per serving.

  • Foster farms 99% fat free ground turkey: Has 28 grams of protein per 4 oz serving and only 1.5 grams of fat

  • Egg whites: Contain 10 grams of protein per serving and no fat or carbs

  • Turkey Breast: has .8 grams of fat per serving and has 0 carbs

  • Whey Protein powder: Many of these have very low carbs and fat but are packed with protein. I use Cellucor(cinnamon swirl, yum!) and for every scoop, it has 24 grams of protein with 5 carbs and 1 fat.  

Fat dominant foods:

  • Olive oil: 1 TBL contains 14 grams of fat and 0 carbs or protein

  • Coconut oil: 1 TBL contains 14 grams of fat and 0 carbs or protein

  • Nuts: These contain healthy fat but do have small amount of protein and carbs. For example 10 almonds have 6 grams of fat, 2.4 grams of carbs and 2.6 grams of protein

  • Grassfed organic butter: 1 TBL has 11.5 grams of fat

Carbohydrate dominant foods:

  • Honey:10 grams of this has 8.1 grams of carbs and nothing else

  • Fruit( raw or dried)

  • Sweet potatoes: 100 grams of sweet potato has 20 carbs and 1.6 grams of protein

  • Butternut Squash/Spaghetti Squash: Both of these carb friendly foods are virtually fat free and have less than 2 grams of protein per serving

  • Brown Rice: For ¼ cup, you get 17 carbs and only 1.5 grams of protein with less than 1 gram of fat.

  • Fat free whipped topping: Throw this on some fruit for a sweet treat with no fat or protein

The failure behind meal plans

Sohee Lee is the author of ‘How To Count Macros’ and the inspiration behind Sohee Fit. When recently speaking with a client who asked for a meal plan, this excerpt from her book came to mind. I went back and read it again and she really hit the nail on the head as to why giving our clients meal plans is not helping them reach their long term goals. We want to set our clients up with the necessary tools and the confidence to use them by showing you how to track properly and that even when life gets hectic, the flexibility of tracking macros allows you to stay on course. Read Sohee’s explanation below to understand why not giving our clients specific meal plans is actually helping them!

We’ve got your back and best interest at heart!

With love,

Mallory

“There seems to be this ongoing debate over the virtues of prescribing meal plans versus assigning macronutrient numbers to follow. My first prep coach had me on a meal plan, after all, and I lost a good number of inches. And that’s the point, isn’t it?

Not quite.

Meal plans are a means to an end. I’ll admit that once upon a time, I also handed out meal plans to my online clients—customized meal plans suited to their individual preferences and lifestyles, but meal plans nonetheless. They liked them, and really, I don’t blame them. All you have to do as a client is to procure the foods listed on your meal plan, cook everything up, and follow everything meal by meal. It’s easy because you don’t have to think about anything or understand how many calories or macros are in what amount of food. There’s zero knowing; merely doing. Receive a plan and execute for two weeks. Send in a check-in, receive an update, and then execute yet again.

And therein lies the problem.

There’s nothing sustainable about following a meal plan. What if you run out of eggs one morning? What if the thought of chugging down another protein shake makes you sick to your stomach? What if you have to go out for dinner with some friends? What are you going to do?

Most people don’t know any other way except to doggedly stick to the program. Which is great from an adherence standpoint (here’s a gold sticker for your superb effort!), but it fails miserably when it comes to being able to still enjoy your quality of life. I’ve squandered too many nights in the past turning down dinners and social outings with friends because I was afraid to eat anything besides chicken, broccoli, and almonds as my last meal of the day. I was too scared to let anything get in the way of my reaching my fitness goals and ultimately being happy—because oooobviously True Happiness lies waiting patiently in a pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow of Lean Bodies (that’s totally not true, by the way). Family vacation? No thanks—I’d rather sit at home by myself and prepare my own meals everyday. Best friend’s wedding? I’m so tempted to back out because I don’t know how to manage myself with all the wedding food around me.

Additionally, following a meal plan keeps you dependent on your coach. Why? Because you have to continue going back to her for a different meal plan each time you have a different goal. An irresponsible coach—or an incredibly money-hungry, business-savvy coach, depending on how you look at it— will push this on her clients because it means continued business. Knowledge is power, and she wants you to have none of it. So there’s you, with no understanding of food or macronutrients or calories after months and months of being on this fitness program, and there’s apparently no foreseeable end to your working relationship with your coach. She likes keeping you in the dark because it’s easier for her. After all, going out and recruiting clients is hard work, and why would she want to do that?

Then comes the art of macro counting. (It’s totally a skill, by the way.) The greatest benefit from learning how to count your macros is that it teaches you how to think for yourself. I know, I know—we all want the results without having to do any of the thinking, right? But your eating should not be a crutch. By learning what foods can substitute for what, how to fit your beloved treats into your day, how to navigate your way around an evening meal out with your coworkers without messing up your entire day—by learning how to do all of this, the probability of your attaining your fitness goals and having them last becomes exponentially higher.

Fat loss in and of itself is not a complicated process, but it sure as hell isn’t easy, either. So why should you make it harder than it needs to be by restricting yourself to a meal plan? Say, for example, you were preparing dinner and a handful of grapes jumped into your mouth. But meal 4 of the day calls for 150g brown rice and 5oz chicken. So, uhh… oops. You obviously didn’t follow the rules. Might as well just call it a wash for the day and dip into that Haagen Daz for dinner, right?

You don’t have to admit that you’ve done something similar; I know I certainly have. When you fall off the wagon, it’s hard to get back on. I get that. And there’s certainly appeal in the idea of starting over tomorrow— or next Monday, or next week, or next month, or even next year (what’s up, New Year’s Resolutioners! Yeah, I know you’re hiding). You want to start fresh with a clean slate and take perfect steps along the way.  But guess what? A little 200-Calorie oopsie is hardly going to put a dent into your progress; a 3,000-calorie eating bender, however, will surely set you back. All that hard work you put in over the past week? Yeah, that’s gone now. One step forward, five steps back. Well done.

What I’m trying to say here is this: just because you slipped up a little bit doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. And if you’re counting your macros, you’ve hardly messed up; all you need to do, then, is adjust your food choices for the remainder of the day and you can still come in on target by day’s end.

Would a meal plan allow you to do that? Nope.

Counting macros takes your needs into account. How often are clients prescribed white fish and broccoli to eat day in and day out? After a (short) while, it’s not uncommon to grow to hate said foods. You used to love seared halibut? Now the mere thought of it makes you gag (sort of like tequila, hmmm…) and you dread your meals. And what about that incredible fit recipe you saw on a blog the other day? Protein flapjacks, physique-friendly grilled cheese, hamburger salad…. Does it really make sense to say no to these foods because “it’s not on your meal plan”?

Look. There’s nothing inherently magical about chicken and green beans. So if you want to try out a new food or a new recipe—go ahead. You’re not going to wake up with an extra tire around your waist tomorrow. Have at it. Fit it into your macros. And don’t you dare let yourself feel any guilt over it.”