The 411 on my current supplement regimen

Hi Guys! I owe you a bit on an apology! On Tuesday when I discussed intermittent fasting and some ways I navigate it, I referred to BCAAs. I received several emails and messages from you asking what the heck those are. I apologize for using jargon! I'm going to explain exactly what those are in today's blog post, in addition to information about the supplements I take and why.

After reading up on some of the supplements I'm taking, you are welcome to take advantage of the HUGE sale on the bundle below. It contains my favorite protein powder, BCAAs, preworkout, vitamin and veggie powder, and omega-3s. You can purchase each item separately or in a bundle at 25% off the retail price. Just mention my name. And while you're at it, grab a free workout shirt, shaker cup, and hop on the Inbody Scale too! Visit a local 5 Star Nutrition or give them a call for more info!

BCAAs:

Branch chain amino acids are the building blocks of protein. "When your glycogen stores run low, your body relies on the three types of BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) for fuel, explains Lauren Simmons, R.D., C.S.C.S., of Core Dynamics. The catch: Your body can't produce BCAAs on its own, so you'll need to get them from your diet.

And here's why it's worth loading up on this nutrient: Especially when eaten around your workout, “BCAAs can help promote muscle growth and repair and reduce muscle soreness after exercise,” says Isabel Smith, R.D." (Women's Health Magazine).

The timing of when you take BCAAs is important. They are best used around or during your workout. The amino acids act as a coating for your muscles, preventing muscle loss and intense muscle soreness, so you can hit your workout just as hard the next day. I wouldn't recommend them for light workouts. Save them for heavy lifting sessions or HIIT training. I use them while working out fasted to provide some nutrients to my body without losing muscle mass, probably 3-4x per week.

Magnesium:

I started taking a daily magnesium supplement recently after reading about how being deficient in magnesium (most of us are) can cause irritability. And I certainly don't need extra irritability in my life! Read on for more info from Dr. Axe (draxe.com)

"For many people, a magnesium deficiency causes noticeable negative symptoms – including muscle aches or spasms, poor digestion, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Yet, magnesium deficiency is often overlooked and rarely tested. Therefore, magnesium may be one of the most underutilized but most necessary supplements there is.

Magnesium may not be the most present mineral in our body in terms of its quantity, but it’s certainly one of the most crucial to overall health. It’s actually involved in over 300 biochemical functions in the body, such as regulating heartbeat rhythms and helping neurotransmitter functions.

A magnesium deficiency can cause significant symptoms. Some of the most prominent include:

  • hypertension and cardiovascular disease
  • kidney and liver damage
  • peroxynitrite damage that can lead to migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma or Alzheimer’s disease
  • nutrient deficiencies including vitamin K, vitamin B1, calcium and potassium
  • restless leg syndrome
  • worsened PMS symptoms
  • behavioral disorders and mood swings
  • insomnia and trouble sleeping
  • osteoporosis
  • recurrent bacterial or fungal infections due to low levels of nitric oxide or a depressed immune system
  • tooth cavities
  • muscle weakness and cramps
  • impotence

Why is magnesium deficiency so common? A few factors are at play: soil depletion that lowers the amount of magnesium present in crops; digestive disorders that lead to malabsorption of magnesium and other minerals in the gut; high rates of prescription medication and antibiotic use that damages the digestive tract to the point that magnesium cannot be absorbed and properly utilized from foods.

The body loses stores of magnesium every day from normal functions such as muscle movement, heartbeat and hormone production. Although we only need small amounts of magnesium relative to other nutrients, we must regularly replenish our stores either from foods or magnesium supplements in order to prevent deficiency symptoms.

Protein Powder:

This has been a GAME CHANGER for me! It is recommended that you get between 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or more if you are a male and extremely active. I wasn't getting anywhere NEAR this amount, even though my diet was very clean and healthy. And I couldn't see force feeding myself chicken breasts just to hit my protein goals. 

Adding a daily protein shake to my routine is perfect because it doesn't add carbohydrates or fats to my daily macronutrients-only protein. And since I don't have trouble getting carbs or fats in my diet, it's perfect! I simply shake it up with water and drink it post workout or for an afternoon snack. 

When searching for a good protein powder, be sure to check out the sodium content, as some manufacturers hide unclean ingredients there. Head to 5 Star Nutrition and ask for help, and they will aid you in choosing the best option for your needs.

Omega-3s:

I LOVE improving my brain health (who doesn't??!) and that is my motivating factor for taking Omega-3s. Unless you are eating a diet high in fish you are likely not getting enough of this healthy fat. 

Many doctors prescribe omega-3s for the following medical conditions:

  • High cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • Arthritis
  • Infertility
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Macular degeneration
  • Skin issues (eczema and psoriasis)

The supplement I got is a gel capsule and it is flavored with lemon juice so there are no nasty fishy burps later in the day (gross!!).


If you want to dive into this a bit further, I invite you to take a listen to the interview I had with 5 Star Nutrition owner Dave Olit. I love this store and their amazing customer service!

Intermittent Fasting: Why I'm Obsessed

You guys, I am LOVING the intermittent fasting (IF) lifestyle. It has simplified my life, my workouts are working better for me, and I feel amazing!

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating; an eating schedule rather than a diet. Your body is always in one of two states: fed or fasted. It takes roughly 12 hours for our bodies to finish digesting food and begin to burn fat for fuel. People rarely get to a fasted state throughout the day because we are always eating. And while eating several small meals throughout the day can lead to weight loss (calorie deficit diets always do), you will likely burn both muscle and fat. When you lose calorie-burning muscle, you lower your metabolic rate and make it harder for your body to burn fat over time. Reducing the hours in the day when we are eating allows our body to switch from sugar burners to fat burners, and that is where the awesome benefits start to transpire.

 

What are some of the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Here are a number of other documented benefits of intermittent fasting, all backed by science:

  • boosting insulin resistance

  • reducing inflammation of the body

  • loss of belly fat

  • increasing your metabolic rate

  • improving numerous risk factors for heart disease

  • improvement of brain function

  • Decreased insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity

  • Increase of the breakdown of fats

  • Improved energy

  • Improvement of muscle tone

  • Increased life expectancy

Let me explain my personal routine with IF:

I begin my fast in the evening after dinner, usually around 6-7 pm. And I break my fast around 11-12 the following day. I enjoy my coffee, plenty of water, BCAAs and tea if necessary during the hours of 6-11 am. I might feel a bit hungry first thing in the morning, but all of those drinks keep me satisfied. When I break my fast I eat a large meal and it's amazing how you really aren't ravenous at this meal. I eat a snack in the afternoon and then dinner in the evening. If I'm still hungry I will have a snack after dinner. 

Most days I get my workout in in the morning, while I'm still in the fasted state. I love working out fasted for the energy boost and the extra fat burn! I drink my BCAAs throughout to fuel my muscles, and if it is a heavy lifting day, I might break my fast with a protein shake. 

You can benefit from IF even just 3-4 days per week! I typically use IF 6 days per week. 

This is such an effective strategy for improved health and fat loss! You'll be amazed at how your body adapts at this eating schedule in a short amount of time!

Three Tips for Staying on Track

I love to share strategies that will help you become a healthier version of yourself! There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and fitness; instead, I think it's best to collect different approaches and solutions and try them on so that you can complete your Study of One and find the best tools that suit your life and your current goals.

Here are some of my favorite tools that I use to stay on track:

1. Automate

Automating your life means you’re setting up systems to make healthy choices and avoid unhealthy choices without having to think about it too hard. It makes the choices automatic.

Is willpower subjective per person or do we all have a set amount of willpower per day and then it resets?  I like the second one.  The idea is if you go through the day and are constantly saying, “No. No, I’m not going to eat that” then by the end of the day you can feel worn down and then give into temptation.  But if you can automate a lot of your decisions throughout the day so you don’t have to use your willpower muscle to say no to things, then it allows you to have extra willpower at the end of the day so you don’t give in to temptation because you’re tired.

Here’s an example: I keep my kitchen automated.  I don’t buy things to keep in my kitchen that are going to tempt me.  I mean, I love, LOVE potato chips but I don't buy potato chips because then I would be tempted to eat the whole bag. If I can avoid buying them in the store, then I don’t have to use my willpower muscles later when I’m at home.  When I’m cooking in the kitchen, it’s easy to find a healthy option and it’s difficult to find an unhealthy option because I just don't buy things that will tempt me.  Also, we don’t keep ice cream in the freezer because my husband is magnetized to it!  It’s just another thing that he doesn’t have to use his willpower muscle on.

Another example of automating is if you are trying to create the habit of getting up early to work out, you could lay out your clothes the night before.  Also, set lots of alarms on your phone.  Finally, make the evening before a routine so you have the mindset of getting up early the next day to workout.  Make it easy on yourself! Automate everything you can so you can save your willpower! 

2. Accountability

This has been huge in my love for fitness and business!  I got started in fitness by joining something called an accountability group.  Every night I checked in with my points for the day based on a system that my coach created.  That system transformed my life!  It gave me things to strive for each day that I didn’t even know I was supposed to be striving for.  It taught me a lot about clean eating, and it held me to a different standard than I would have held for myself.  And that’s what I do for my clients as well. I coach them through my programs, and I keep them accountable by requiring a check-in from them each night. The clients that check-in daily have more success than those that don’t. Accountability works!

Another way to be held accountable is to get a workout partner.  I love to meet my friends for early morning workouts. It forces me to get out of bed because I don't want them to be waiting for me at the gym by themselves! If you can connect your goals with another person it is so helpful because then you don’t want to let someone down.  Also, if you can set a time to meet early in the morning, it’s great because then it’s too early to call and cancel.  If it’s in the evening, you have all day to cancel.  And that happens, but if you plan to meet in the morning it is almost too late to cancel.

3. Make a Plan

Having a plan for anything in life makes you more successful.  Having a plan is huge!  So when I go to the weight room, I have a plan.  I don’t just walk around and grab things.  I know exactly what I’m going to do.  I have a plan for my workouts each week.  Usually some time over the weekend I plan the week out, and I do it in a way to balance the different types of workouts I like to do: weight training, mind body, cardio.  Fitness doesn’t just happen.  I have to schedule it.

Also, have a plan for meals each week.  Now, I’m not a good meal prepper.  I’m not the person to make all of the week's meals made on Sunday, but I do have a written plan for what we’re going to eat.  If I don’t do that then I don’t have a good grocery list.  If we don’t have a good grocery list then we end up throwing things together or eating out more.

Another example for having a plan is carb cycling.  I love this program because it gives me a focus for each day.  Is it a low carb day or a high carb day?  If it’s a low carb day, I’m having low carbs and no fruit.  I eat veggies, protein, and high fats.  If it’s a high carb day, I’m going to be scheduling a higher intensity work out, and I know I need to have some healthy carbs in my day like oats, quinoa, rice, or sweet potato with some protein and my veggies.  It gives me something to focus on, and having something to focus on is really helpful.

Automate what you can, find accountability, and make a plan!!  These three tools are vital for success in achieving your health and fitness goals!

Check out these results!

I hope you all had a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend! In Illinois the weather was absolute perfection, and such a great way to kick off the summer.

 

Results are rolling in from my Carb Cycling and Intermittent Fasting program and THEY ARE FANTASTIC!!!! I love my job and it fills me up to read the improved confidence and body image of these rockstar women! 

Here's some feedback from a few ladies in the program:

“I lost 6.5 pounds and close to 4 inches total. I'm so happy as my goal for this group was 5-7 pounds. I love love love IF. Didn't do it today and regretted it all day long. Will be going back to it tomorrow for sure. Thanks so much, Katie! I'm considering joining your next group too. I love the accountability and encouragement each day. ”

"Lost 4 lbs and a couple inches. I like the intermittent fasting, and I have enjoyed carb cycling too. I have been trying to lose baby weight for almost 2 years with no success. Health issues and medications after my second child actually made me gain about 20 lbs and this has been the only program that has actually helped me lose a little. I feel like it's easy to follow and something that I can stick with long term."

"I lost 1.3 pounds and 1.5 inches (.5 from each thigh!). I feel awesome - three weeks of mostly clean eating made me feel in control of my body and gut health. I've learned that carb cycling is great for me because I have to change what I eat each day instead of eating the same (even though) healthy foods every day. I've also come to love LC days - I feel they're easier to plan for, and I love, love, LOVE IF. I thought I'd never like skipping breakfast, but I really like having extra time in the morning and savoring my coffee and tea. One of my main goals was to fit into my shorts for vacation, and I ended up having to buy new shorts in a smaller size! Thank you Katie Harlan for all your coaching and encouragement!!"

"I lost 7 pounds and a total of 2.5 inches! I'm completely amazed at what it has done to my body and my mind."

You guys, this program is LEGIT. The combination of cycling your carbs and intermittent fasting is so effective for fat loss! Not to mention improved energy, moods, control over your diet, and confidence! The next round will begin on June 19th. If you are ready to change things up with your nutrition, this is your chance! Click here to reserve your spot!

 

LEAVE ME ALONE!!

Well, not YOU! You are cool and you are not bothering me! LOL! I'm talking about the men at the gym who find it necessary to offer unsolicited advice and commentary about my workouts. Let me back up a bit...

I've been adding some heavy lifting to my workout routine lately and I'm LOVING it. I love lifting heavy and I really enjoy the new challenges. It's a totally different style of workout than I've done before (think: Crossfit style). However, it forces me to get my workouts done in an actual gym vs. my basement because I don't have heavy enough equipment. Isn't that a fun problem to have??

The weight lifting I'm doing requires me to use the BIG bars, cages, benches, and other "hard core" workout equipment, and if you're fairly new to the weight room, this can present some challenges and discomfort. I've had to LEARN how the equipment works, and that can feel awkward in an already awkward and vulnerable setting. As a female, when you walk into the weight room, you are a minority RIGHT away. It just tends to be a male dominated space. Add the discomfort of learning how to use the equipment on top of that, and it can be pretty uncomfortable.

THEN you add the group of men who seem to find it to be their mission to offer advice to women who are working out alone. WHY??! Why do they do this? I would NEVER offer advice to a gym-goer unless they said, "Can I ask you for your advice?" Never. In some cases I think they are hitting on me, "GREAT form!" and in some cases I think they feel that they are actually helping the poor defenseless little girl in the weight room (sarcasm), "If you sit back in your heels you will feel it less in your knees." UGH. LEAVE ME ALONE. 

My frustration with this got me thinking that other women must be feeling this too. So I came up with a short list of ways we can avoid the unsolicited attend and advice in the weight room ;)

1. Headphones

It's amazing how wearing headphones eliminates 85% of unwanted attention. The bigger the better! LOL! Now, where are my headphones...?

2. Workout with a friend

When my friend (or husband) and I hit the gym together, no one bothers us, offers form advice, or interrupts us to give us a high five. And working out with friends is ALWAYS so much more fun than doing it solo.

3. Have a game plan

I keep my workouts on my phone, and I log my weights in EverNote (it's a free app that allows you to jot down notes easily). Having a game plan keeps you from wondering around looking lost. Looking lost is always an invitation for free advice!!

If you are a man who is reading this, just remember that women aren't helpless! If we need help in the gym (or anywhere else for that matter), we can ask for help :) And ladies, don't be afraid of the weight room! We all look awkward in there some times! Take a friend your first few times until you get comfortable. You've got this!!

 

Programming FAQs

Hi! Happy Almost Summer :) Today, I wanted to lay out some of the differences between two of my fitness programs, so that you can determine which of these aligns the most closely with your goals.

4-Week Slim Down

Let's start with the program that is based off of the formula that changed my life in terms of health and wellness: the 4-Week Slim Down. This program teaches the 80/20 rule to eating, which means that we strive to eat clean and healthy 80% of the time and relax 20% of the time. We carefully plan our treats so that we can enjoy them guilt free. This type of eating is sustainable FOREVER and is a great place to start when beginning, or getting back into, your fitness journey. 

In the 4WSD, I will also be giving you daily workouts that are a mix of strength training and cardio, as well as some mind and body workouts for rest days. You will be given my cookbook, which contains recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. We will work on creating a meal plan that works for you and your family. 

In addition to the workouts, the recipes, and the strategy, I will be available each day to keep you accountable to your goals via a private Facebook group. This accountability is KEY to achieving your goals. 

I think the 4WSD is a great program for anyone who wants some extra support and accountability with their health and fitness, but I think it's PERFECT for those people who don't know where to start. It will create a solid foundation that you can build on as you reach your goals.

The next round of the 4-Week Slim Down starts on Monday, May 22nd and it is on Summer Sale for $99. That price includes everything listed above.    

Click here to get registered :) 


Carb Cycling and Intermittent Fasting 101

The second program that I offer on a regular basis is called Carb Cycling and Intermittent Fasting 101. It is a 3-week program that teaches you how to use carbs for GAINS, including improved muscle tone, fat loss, and increased energy. We alternate between days of high fats/low carbs and higher carbs lower fats to keep our metabolisms operating at a high fat-burning level. 

We also add intermittent fasting into week 2 for an amazing combination full of many health benefits, including better sleep, healing of the gut, regulation of hormones and mood improvement. The ladies in my current carb cycling/intermittent fasting group are LOVING how their clothes fit and how they feel, and we are only two weeks in!

This program is also for everyone, but clients who will be most successful at it already have a good fitness routine going. They have a baseline of fitness and want to tighten up some areas in their routine. 

Included in this program is the  manual, meal ideas and suggestions, two live trainings, and daily accountability and support. The next round of this program will begin on June 19th.

Click here to get registered :)


I also offer 1-on-1 coaching if you are looking for more of a personalized approach to your fitness goals. Click here to register for that service.

 

I want to help YOU reach your health and fitness goals so that you feel more confident in your skin! If you have questions for me regarding your goals and how we can best reach them, please email me at katie@harlancoaching.com.

When to change things up

Today I wanted to discuss when to change up your fitness and nutrition routine because it's something I'm currently playing around with. I have been adding in some cross fit workouts to my routine lately and am really enjoying them! It's a whole different focus than I've tried before: heavy weights, very few reps. I'm doing this to build some larger muscles and to see how my body responds to some more weight on my frame. I love the new challenge and really love continuing the study of 1: that is, the study of how MY body responds and reacts to fitness and nutritional changes. 

Let's talk about two extremes it comes to changing things up:

1. Those who want to do what they've always done because it's comfortable and it has gotten them results at some point.

2. Those who change things up every week because it's "not working." 

Let's start by talking about type 1. Once you've found something that has gotten you RESULTS, helped you make a transformation, increased your confidence, and has you feeling really good, it can be SUPER hard to leave that strategy or workout behind. I understand this. I found Body Pump (a barbell workout) about 4 years ago and was convinced that it is what changed my body. When I needed to take a break from it over the winter, I was terrified I would lose my muscle. But I didn't because I was doing other things to keep me on track. Upon closer analysis of my transformation 4 years ago, I didn't just add Body Pump to my life. I changed EVERYTHING at once: my nutrition, my workouts, the frequency of my workouts, my water intake, my vitamin intake, etc. So while my brain wants to link Body Pump to my transformation, it was likely just one component of my transformation.

As you build your fitness, your body will be able to respond faster and more effectively to new workouts. So don't be afraid of changing what you're doing because "it won't work the same." Honestly guys, it's so important to change up your workout routine every 6 months or so because your body will stop responding at the rate it did when you FIRST began and first started seeing change. One thing you can do if you really love swimming, for example, is to add weight training in. It doesn't mean you have to stop swimming, but just consider changing the frequency of swimming for training and adding in some additional work. 

I also like to teach my clients to change their nutrition strategies occasionally too. For those who complete my Carb Cycling 101, I like to advise trying the carb cycling for 3-4 weeks on, taking a break for a week or so (note: I do not advise them to eat whatever they want on their "off" week, just to mix carbs and fats) and then starting back up again. Anything you do for an extended period of time will cause you to plateau, so keep your body guessing!

Now let's address the 2nd type of person: the person who changes things every week or two. I also understand this point of view because I am a pretty impatient girl! But when we are trying a new approach, we should really get rid of that 4-week mentality. 2-4 months is a better range to aim for to really see results and to let your body work through changes. My Carb Cycling 101 program is 3 weeks so that I can keep my clients accountable (much longer than that and they start to drop off). But we talk a lot about how 3 weeks is just the start and that once the program is over, they need to make some decisions about what parts of the program they want to continue and which parts they need to adjust. It is always based on the study of one (how each individual's body responds to different changes). So if you're trying something new, give it a good collage try for a few months before you abandon it completely and change directions.

Let's always strive for being open to change when we need it, and also being patient enough to let change happen :) 

Go to bed hungry, and other tips for optimal health

Hey Guys! I have a bunch of different advice floating around in my big brain today, so instead of sorting through it, I'm going to blog a sort of stream of consciousness with advice. I'd love your feedback if this is too hard to read or if you enjoy the randomness, ha!

Here are some tips for feeling and looking your best. These are things that I not only do, but advise my clients to do, as well:

  • Go to bed hungry

When you stop eating after dinner and don't eat again until the next morning (or lunch if you're fasting), you allow your body's digestion system to rest. And rest is good for our bodies. This rest tells your body to tap into its fat stores. Now, you shouldn't be so hungry that you wake in the middle of the night, that's no fun. But being a bit hungry at bedtime is a good thing. And guys, you're going to sleep SO soundly! Try it!

  • Drink your ACV

Apple cider vinegar is an amazing addition to your health routine. Make sure you buy the "Braggs Brand" because it contains The Mother, which is a community of digestive enzymes that helps improve your gut health, in addition to about a million other benefits. I drink it more frequently when I think I might be getting sick and it helps me kick it faster. It aids in weight loss, it's an appetite suppressant, it improves skin, and the list goes on and on. Here is a video I recorded about it about 6 months ago with my favorite "recipe."

  • Be observant

You are the only expert on your body. Doctors, trainers, coaches, etc. don't know more about YOUR body than you do. Take careful and observant inventory on how you feel when you eat certain foods, calorie levels, during and post workouts, when you wake up, when you go to bed. Be a scientist when it comes to learning about your body and then you can take what you know and use it to make you better. 

  • Fuel your workouts

When you exercise, you should be eating to fuel them so that you 1) feel your best, and 2) get the most benefit from them. I like to eat carbs directly after my more intense workouts because my body will burn them faster. I also like to have a clean source of protein following my workouts to help repair my muscles. Working out fasted is another strategy that I frequently use because I love the energy I have, and doing this allows my body to burn body fat faster because it's not busy burning the food I just ate. 

  • Rest days are important

Overtraining is a real, actual problem. You must have a rest day or two or three each week to allow your body to repair. It's actually during the REST that our muscles grow, not during the workouts. Listen to your body and schedule rest days as needed, or schedule them in advance. I like to schedule them, and then adjust as necessary if I need to make changes.

  • Sleep plentifully 

Just like our bodies need rest days, we also need plenty of sleep to repair those muscles. Think of your body like a machine. It can't work as well if it never gets turned off, right? When you're eating right and getting the proper amount of exercise, sleep will be good! So treat your sleep like a workout: schedule your bedtime and wakeup time and stick to them!

  • Try intermittent fasting

IF is such a great strategy that will improve all areas of your health and fitness, and it's a pretty easy strategy to implement. Not only will it help you burn more fat, but it will allow your body to reset and rest during your fasting window. Intermittent fasting is not calorie restriction; instead, it just reduces your window of eating so that you are only eating for an 8 hour (or less) window of time. Honestly, it simplifies the day! You'll sleep better, have more energy, and burn more fat without changing your diet. Here is a video I recorded about IF.

  • Plan ahead

No matter where I'm at in my fitness journey, one thing is always true: planning ahead makes everything easier. Being good at making a plan, and adding that to your weekly agenda, gets easier with time and practice. But it's always something that you have to make time for. Even 4 years in to this lifestyle I still make time to write out our meals, create our grocery list, and plan my workouts. If you want to improve your health and fitness, you've got to give it your attention.

  • Enjoy your treats

Life is too short not to enjoy treats occasionally! I've spent a lot of time studying treats and how best to enjoy them, and what I've found is that they taste better when they are limited, but not obsolete. Planning regular treats is good for your sanity and your mental resolve with your fitness goals. And planning ahead helps to prevent from binging and ruining progress. Plan your treats, enjoy them, and then move on.

The Aftermath

Warning: This blog post has NOTHING to do with health, fitness, or business. I am writing it as a way to share my experience with those who are interested, and also as a therapy tool. Because writing always helps me :)

The black van was ours 

The black van was ours 

At the beginning of March my two youngest kids and I were in a really bad car accident. It was snowing and the roads were incredibly slick. We were just going to the gym, which in retrospect, is incredibly silly. I could have avoided the whole thing by snuggling up on the couch instead of venturing out. But I supposed it's silly to even think about that now, isn't it?

It was around 8:30 in the morning and we were driving on a small highway road through the country. I had been driving for about 5 minutes when my wheel got pulled into some slush and I lost control of the van. I started spinning into the oncoming lane and although I tried mightily, I could not regain control. And I hit an oncoming car head on. After the impact, I looked back at my 4 and 5 year old and asked "Are you OKAY??" and they were. They were perfect. They were scared, but they were unharmed, and I was unharmed as well. Phew. We were safe. And THEN I looked in the rearview mirror and to my horror I saw another car coming right at my driver's side door. But I didn't have much time to be upset about this because we were hit, HARD, almost immediately. This impact caused the airbags to inflate (along with a super loud noise and a hot gas), windows to break, and the car to start smoking. I was terrified that the car was going to explode so once we stopped, I climbed in the back seat and grabbed my kids. Their doors were completely unusable, so I had to maneuver them up through the front passenger side, where the owner of the car who hit me was standing there to help me. I got both kids (and myself) safely out of the car in about 15 seconds, although it felt like a lifetime as I braced for an explosion. Thank goodness, the car never exploded. It was still snowing, so perhaps that with the busted radiator helped us?

Once out of the car, I knelt down and checked my kids all over. I also did a quick scan of my own body. And we were completely untouched, minus a tiny scratch on my daughter's forehead. I am still in shock that we LITERALLY walked away, hand-in-hand from that horrible 3-car accident. NONE of the drivers or passengers in the accident were injured. No one went to the hospital, no one broke anything or even had any bleeding.

There were a lot of angels working overtime that day. And I'm not just talking about angels from heaven, but angels on Earth, too. Everyone was so kind. Several men pulled over immediately to clear the road and be sure we were okay. A sweet man let us sit in his work truck to stay warm and dry while he directed traffic. The police and paramedics and firemen...everyone was wonderful. 

I called my husband immediately afterwards, very calmly, and told him that we were FINE, but we had been in a serious accident. He was there within 15 minutes and we were all so happy and relieved to see him. I was strong and calm and held everything together until we got in his car to drive home. Then I lost it. I replayed the accident over and over and over in my head, but without the happy ending. It was terrifying to imagine anything happening to my sweet babies, at no fault of their own. I couldn't stop crying and looking at the picture of the accident I snapped while we waited on paperwork. 

It all felt so strange because we were physically unharmed, so it seemed like our day should be pretty normal. My husband stayed home for several hours to help me settle in before going back to work. My best friend brought me a salad for lunch and took my kids to preschool (I had no car). I used those 2.5 hours to regroup and sit and reflect. And cry. So much crying, and I'm not a crier! Another friend brought the kids home. I was amazed that they didn't want to, or seem to NEED to, discuss the accident. I continued to check them up and down to verify that they were truly unharmed and every time I was just blown away that they seemed perfectly fine.

By the end of the day, I was feeling pretty sore and stiff, but again, the kids didn't have any complaints of soreness. No bruising. Nothing. Sleeping that night sucked. I woke up several times thinking about the accident. I worried about the kids and how they would feel in the morning. But when they woke, again, they were FINE! I was more sore then the first day, but nothing too extreme. I did a little yoga and stretching. But emotionally, I was still fragile. I didn't want to be alone with the kids. I needed an adult to be with me. A friend came over in the morning and sat with me, and my mom came over in the afternoon. I can't explain why I wanted company, but I just NEEDED someone to be with me. It helped me stop reliving the accident over and over and over. I could just TALK and not THINK.

The following day, I drove for the first time and attended a Body Pump class. I had a sitter for the kids so I could focus on myself. This was a big moment for my personal sanity. Driving was slow, but I was so relieved when I arrived to the gym safely. It was really important to get that first post-accident under my belt. Probably because that was the workout I was HEADED TO the morning of the accident. I went super light on the weights and monitored my body closely. All throughout, I was weepy and emotional. At one point, I felt scared when someone behind me threw their weights down. It was then that I realized the accident was affecting me on deeper levels than I even realized. That noise reminded me subconsciously of the loud crash and airbags. 

By the end of the week, I was less emotional, less obsessed with looking at the picture of the crash, and confident being "alone" again. We had a new van and the accident was starting to feel like a memory, instead of something I had to think about in the present tense. And every day since then, it has gotten easier to forget. BUT, there is still aftermath.

First of all, the kids have started talking about the accident, so I know it's on their minds. While driving, they often ask me if we're going to crash, if I'm focused on the road, if my hands are on the wheel, and if we are going to go into the grass again. It breaks my heart that driving with me (which we do CONSTANTLY) makes them feel insecure or uncomfortable. I feel so sad that they even have to worry about their safety while in a car. Prior to the accident they just assumed they would be safe, as all children should! And now they question it. That hurts.

The other thing that sucks post-accident is my fear of driving. Not through town, thank God. I am fine driving in town. But driving on the interstate, or in rainy or windy weather can be scary. The wind and rain bother me because if I feel a pull on the van I am right back in the middle of the accident. The pull reminds me of the pull on our van when I got in the snow. I used to be a fearless, perhaps careless, driver.

I am very restless while driving, so I'd often be doing 10 things at once. That wasn't the case during my accident, but you can bet that I'm a much more focused driver now. I'm very aware of how a slight misstep could cause catastrophic results. I'm slower on the road, too, to help me cope with the wind (we live on the prairie!!) and the rain (Illinois!).

I hate feeling scared while driving and although my husband assures me it will dissipate with time, I can't wait for it to be over and be something of the past. I suppose it is just a reminder of how serious our accident was, and how bad it really could have been. 

Immediately after the accident, and for about 2 weeks afterwards, I questioned why we were unharmed. I felt like I had been given a "free pass" and I had better make it count. I searched my soul for ways that I could do more and do better. Who could I help? How? What can I do to become a better human? This was an exhausting mental exercise and I had long talks with my husband about how to process this. I also had some really good friends to talk me through it. And while I am still working through this, I think I have found a way to process it in a way I can be happy with. Always trying to be better and more loving, yes, but not because we were unharmed. Just because.

It feels good to get my thoughts out. And it will be good to read this in a few years and see how far I've come with my driving fears. If you've been in a serious accident before and had any of these same feelings or thoughts, I'd love to hear how you got through it <3

Sorry this was so long. If you made it this far, you deserve a congratulations!

The FREEDOM to Design a Program for YOU

Lately I have been spending a lot of time researching different health habits not only for fat loss, but for improved longevity and quality of life. And the more I learn, the more I am convinced that WHAT we put in our bodies is WAY more important than genetics. It's truly fascinating how much the foods we eat can make us feel. Depending on what you're eating, you can actually improve or ruin your mood! Isn't that wild??!

When I created the Carb Cycling 101 program it was because I wanted to delve even deeper into this strategy of eating and share the benefits of it with my clients. Carb cycling is strategically placing your carbohydrates to get the most out of your workouts. It allows you to still have carbs (hooray!) but still benefit from having days of lower carb content. I wanted to keep carbs in my life for a balanced diet and also because I love to workout hard. I loved the control that eating this way gave me, so I knew my clients would like it too! And they did! My clients had great results by cleaning up the foods they were eating and being more aware of what types of foods they were consuming. But something else cool happened, too.

Throughout the program my clients got to know their bodies REALLY well. And I believe this is due to two main factors:

  1. We cleaned up our diets for 6 days a week (the 7th is a Flex day where you can eat what you like) so that we were eating very unprocessed, clean food. Even the carbs are clean. No pasta or bread, instead, we focused on rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, oats, fruits, and beans. And you'd better believe that oatmeal with fruit and honey tasted like the most decadent dessert on high carb day! This super clean diet allowed participants to get really in-tune to their bodies, what foods and "days" their bodies responded to best, how their foods affected workouts, and even how high and low fat and carb content improved their monthly cycles!
  2. We spent a lot of time during the three weeks discussing how we FELT. I think this is so important when making changes to your health--really checking in with yourself to take inventory of what effect those changes are having on you. 

By the end of the program, my participants knew how their bodies responded to each type of day. They knew which types of exercise worked best on each day. And they could predict what kind of energy they would have. They used this information and cross-referenced it with their results and their original goals to determine next steps. Perhaps they would add intermittent fasting into their plan (this will be part of the next round!). Or maybe they would change the schedule so they were getting 2 low or high carb days in a row. Or if they didn't like the Flex day, they might choose to put their treats on high carb days.

Those are just some examples of how clients can personalize the plan to match their goals. I recommend that all participants to try the program as it is written for the three weeks so they can get an accurate read on how their bodies respond. And then they can adjust and make changes as necessary.

I am IN LOVE with this part of the program! I give participants a lot of freedom to choose what and when they eat, rather than putting stringent restrictions on them. To be honest, this does frustrate some of my clients, especially the ones who love rules. But that is a dieters' mentality. And we aren't dieting. We should really strive to be experts on our own bodies by experimenting with different foods and approaches and taking careful inventory of those choices.

If you are at a weight loss plateau, or are just ready for a new approach, I encourage you to give carb cycling a try. We begin the three week journey on May 8th. Click here to join!

 

Self-care SHOULD BE a bit of a pain

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Woah. Did you just read that??! I know it's a bold statement, but hear me out. I had this epiphany the other day, although it's been forming for months and even years. 

Four years ago, before I changed my nutrition and my fitness, and before I made myself a priority, I rolled my eyes at statements like that. "Who has TIME to focus on themselves?? Isn't that VAIN??!" So if you're rolling your eyes, I understand. I spent the young years of my children's lives living like that and feeling that way. I barely had time to use the restroom, let alone feed myself correctly and EXERCISE!!  

But the more I read, research, study, and practice self-care, the more I am POSITIVE that we need to make taking care of our bodies a priority. Because if we don't, who will?  And how many bodies do we have?? (Side note: this is the question we always ask our super careless and clumsy son!). We have one. We get one chance. It's the vehicle that will get you through life. There are no trade-ins. THIS is your ride. So you'd better put the right gas in, get frequent oil changes, and keep it CLEAN (especially on the inside!). 

And guess what? All of that takes work and time. It does. I spend hours of my week prepping and cooking clean food and exercising. I skip things like tv and showers and chilling out so that I can do these things. I get up early and stay up late if I need to fit it in. And I spend a lot of time assessing and making changes and tweaks where necessary.

While that may all sound like a pain in the ass, it's totally worth it. It's totally worth feeling amazing, having great energy, and being around for as long as I can to love on my family and share moments with them. It's worth it to know that I am doing everything in my power to make the very most of this body and my time here on Earth.

I used to think that being low-maintenance was better than being high maintenance. I actually prided myself on that. And I still think of myself as low-maintenance, to an extent. BUT, lately I have realized that putting the amount of time into my self-care that I do is actually not low-maintenance at all. And we SHOULDN'T be low-maintenance!!  Ha! Because if we are adequately taking care of our health and our bodies, it's going to require some time and attention! 

Of course there are seasons in our lives when self-care will be less, such as during an illness, when your children are very small, etc. However, if we really focus on our health for the majority of the time, it will become habit, just like anything. And you will find comfort in knowing that you're doing the best you can for your body.

I encourage you to look at your routine for self-care. Are you cutting things out when you SHOULD be adding things in? Are you giving yourself the time and care you deserve?

XO,

Katie

No More Rules!

I have worked with A LOT of clients over the years and I've noticed that the ones who are most successful with changing their health and fitness are FLEXIBLE. They take what I've taught them and they adapt it to their lives. They make tweaks here and there and they build their own plan based on what they've learned. Clients who need a lot of rules often become frustrated because I don't believe that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness, and I am resistant to posting hard and fast rules.

We all come into programs with different histories, previous experience with dieting, a variety of hormone levels, genetic make-up and disposition, gut health, and more. There is no way to give one set of instructions and have them work the same for everyone. If there was, no one would struggle with their weight! Programs and meal plans are TOOLS to help improve our health. They are not the be all end all. It's up to each individual person to study it, evaluate it, try it out, and then tweak it based on how they feel.

Speaking of how we FEEL, we spend a lot of time in my Carb Cycling 101 program discussing and paying attention to how we feel because it's such a powerful indicator of how things are working on the inside. Another thing we do that is really important is assess and troubleshoot individual concerns and issues. This is one of the most beneficial parts of my program: each woman is able to troubleshoot and not only learn from me, but from each other as well. Are you troubleshooting and assessing your body's response to changes? This is important for knowing how to move forward. Keeping a journal helps, or even talking to a spouse or friend about it.

If you are struggling to find a solution for improved health and wellness, check in with yourself and make sure that you're not looking for a hard set of rules. Those don't typically work, and if they do, they certainly don't work for everyone!

XO,
Katie

P.S. If you're interested in trying a new tool for fat loss, I am opening up round 2 of my carb cycling 101 program on May 8th. For more information and to get registered, click here!

Tips for Enjoying Your Vacation AND the Body You've Been Working On

Hi There! I just got back from an amazing, although quick, trip to Palm Springs, California with my husband. The weather was...exquisite. Don't you just love vacation??  Ahhh, I could talk about vacationing for days. But this blog post is to give you my tips for truly enjoying your vacations while not undoing the progress you've made with your health and fitness goals. 

This is something I take VERY seriously because enjoying life (and vacations) is SUPER important to me. And so is keeping up with my fitness and nutrition. So trust me when I say I've spent A LOT of time practicing this methodology and thinking about it, too. 

Tips for Enjoying Your Vacation AND the Body You've Been Working On:

1. Plan an active vacation.

Look, I LOVE sitting by the pool as much as anyone, but when you're on vacation, it's so fun to experience things with the people you love! Get out and do some exploring! I guarantee that you'll make more memories by DOING something than by napping beside the pool! When you plan your days, plan something active each day and then be sure to include some down time/chill time. I've found that that is THE BEST combo for a happy vacation. Plus, being active (hiking, swimming, golfing, basketball, canoeing, etc. etc.) is a great way to burn some of the extra calories that you'll be consuming. 

In California, we went hiking in the canyons for about 3.5 hours and it was not only a killer workout, but it was my favorite part of our trip because it allowed us 3.5 hours without any distractions to connect and talk. It was lovely! If we had just been laying by the pool for that time, we would have fallen asleep, been on our phones, etc. 

I also love to get a longer, more leisurely workout in on vacation. I think it's fun to check out the gym at the hotel, or try some yoga outside in a new location, or just TAKE MY TIME with my workouts. And because we rarely get to workout together at home, it feels like a treat. Again, it's that quality time together.

2. Plan your treats.

Just like I advise when you're home, a plan makes everything go smoother. Go into each day with some sort of plan for what treats you'll be enjoying. Are you taking the kids for ice cream? Having wine by the fire? Making tacos for dinner? You probably have some idea of what the next day will be like, so take inventory of what indulgences you will have and stay clean the rest of the time. Remember too, the more sugar you have, the more you will want it. So I like to try to keep my dessert treats towards the end of the vacation. If I start out by having dessert and a cocktail on the first night, I find that it's much harder to get back on track because my body is asking for sugar. 

What's a good number of treats per day? Well, that's up to you and your goals, but I personally try to limit it to something that's a bit outside my normal eating (a latte from Starbucks, for example) and then one thing that's REALLY outside of my normal eating. That would include a trip to the dessert bar on our recent vacation (#worthit). But I try really hard not to order a cocktail, deep dish pizza, nachos, and cheesecake in one meal. Know what I mean? Plus, guys, eating all of that crap in one sitting = nausea, indigestion, and tiredness. That's not fun. 

3. Assess, but don't obsess.

Something that was really helpful for me on this trip was the dialogue between my husband and me about how we were enjoying our food, and more specifically, how we felt after each meal. This helped me keep the question "How will I FEEL physically after eating this" in the front of my brain, which helped me make better decisions. When you feel really great, you really don't want to jeopardize that by eating junk, you know? So we were constantly assessing whether a cocktail or dessert or whatever it was would make us FEEL good or not. For example, one day I was by the pool and really wanted an icy sweet cocktail. But I didn't want to FEEL sluggish and tired. So I ordered a virgin version and it was perfect. And I didn't need a nap! 

However, feeling guilty about every treat and misstep you have is just not fun. And it's not fun for the people around you. No one wants to hear you lament about the brownie you had and how guilty you feel about it. So if it's going to give you that much trouble, just say no ;) 

4. Keep doing what you're good at.

In your normal non-vacation life you are really good at some health and fitness habits. Maybe it's that you CRUSH your water every day. Or you get loads of veggies in. Or you are an awesome carb cycler. Whatever it is, KEEP IT UP!!!  There is no reason not to do the things that are working for you just because you're on vacation. Those things help you to FEEL your best, and you certainly want to keep feeling your best while on vacation. 

One of the things I'm really good at is getting up and getting going in the morning. And so while in California, we got up early every morning and got our workout in. Followed by coffee at a leisurely pace. No need to sleep until 9 just because we could, when I know that that doesn't really feel good to me. 

5. Water water water

Water is important ALWAYS, but especially on vacation when you're having more treats than normal (and likely more alcohol too). Water will serve to detox your body and help stave away hangovers. Not to mention that water is a natural appetite suppressant so it can be handy for keeping the treats at bay. Bring a cute water bottle with you and carry it everywhere!

I hope these tips are helpful for you in navigating your health and fitness goals AND enjoying vacation. In my next post I'll talk about what to do when you come home!

XO, 

Katie

Are you searching for "perfect"?

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I just returned from a beautiful trip to Palm Springs, California. In the middle of an Illinois spring, it was a welcome weather change! My husband and I were on a work trip (conference for him, writing time for me), but we still managed to spend some really lovely time relaxing together. While lounging at the pool, I got to check out the latest in swimwear. Want to know what it is? Butt cheeks. Butt cheeks EVERYWHERE. 75% of the swimsuit bottoms I saw were in the thong or cheeky style. You guys, this is SO not my style. But I admired the confidence that it took these women to wear them. I thought, "I could NEVER pull that off." But quite frankly, they couldn't really either. And they STILL looked beautiful and sexy because they were confident in their own skin.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find myself obsessing about insignificant issues with my body: that mole is ugly, I can see cellulite when I turn this way, I have gray hairs peeking out, my arm hair is hairy, my feet are ugly, I'm scrawny. Etc. Etc.

And I consider myself a confident woman! The thing is, most women struggle with their flaws, as well. But what I am realizing as I get older and wiser is there IS no such thing as perfect. Truly. When you're scrolling social media and you see someone who looks "perfect" remember that the picture you're seeing has been carefully chosen and edited to share. And of COURSE the magazines are not even close to being real portrayals of how women really look. Hours are taken to remove every wrinkle, bump, mole, and hair. I get so worked up when I think about how many of our beauty ideals are rooted in falsehoods and myth. 

So ladies, let's stop obsessing about those small things that 1) we can't change, and 2) don't matter anyway. Focus on controlling what you can control and being a good person. And your beauty will shine through!

The Power of Food

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I am 34 and am really just now beginning to understand the power of food. It is everything. What we eat has the power to make us better or worse. I've been listening to podcasts and reading tons of articles about this topic, and I am even more passionate than ever about spreading this message to the masses. Food has the power to alter your moods, your energy, and remedy your ailments, aches, pains, illnesses, and more. And yes, this can feel a bit scary. But it is also incredibly empowering.

I have been eating clean for 4 years now, and carb cycling for the past 5 weeks. Having a solid foundation of "clean eating" was very helpful for moving into carb cycling. It is a simple strategy to implement, but it requires REALLY cleaning up your diet for at least 6 days a week. The carbs you eat are complex carbs like rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and quinoa. No bread and no pasta. And no refined sugar. Working through this program has really allowed me to become in touch with my body and what it needs, how it responds to food, and what works best to keep me functioning at my best. I'm incredibly aware of how everything I am eating affects me, and it's thrilling!

When I was in my 20's, I always had an upset stomach. At least once a day, every day, my stomach hurt. And I legit just thought it was part of being alive. Some foods just hurt when they digest. Now that I have cleaned up my diet, if I have an upset stomach, I can pinpoint what caused it and when it started. And then I can correct it. That was a result of eating clean. But let's take it a step further. NOW that I am carb cycling, I can tell you exactly what foods give me the best energy, sleep, and feel-good feeling. It's amazing!

Everyone deserves to feel their best. I want to help as many people as I can find that power that is within them to transform their health and their lives. If you are ready for my help, I will be leading another group of participants through my Carb Cycling 101 program. Will be begin on May 8th. Click here to register!

XO, 

Katie

What to Eat??

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One of the questions my clients ask me the most is, "What exactly do I eat??" The answer to this is complex, so I thought I'd tackle it with a blog post. First, we need to recognize that every BODY is different. And that's not just hearsay, it's the truth. We have to remember that ALWAYS when discussing nutrition and fitness habits. Comparing can be dangerous. Everyone comes into the game with different injuries, genetics, past experience with dieting and fitness, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. So my first tip is to make your own way and stop comparing yourself to others. I know, it's easier said than done. But that is a great practice for life, so we might as well start working on it now.

Okay, now that THAT'S out of the way, let's get into the meat of this post. I think there should be an order to how you make changes to your diet, so that you can establish a baseline of success before moving on to the next thing. Upper level strategies are great, but it's better to have a solid foundation first. So let's go through the steps, in the order in which I think they should be applied:

Clean Eating:

This is where it has to begin. You can't worry about carb cycling and intermittent fasting and paleo, etc. if you are eating tons of chemicals, additives, sugar, and crap. Eating clean means minimally processed, very few ingredients, no alcohol, no sugar, no white flour. And the goal would be to eat clean 80% of the time. This is a strategy that I cover in depth in my 4-Week Slim Down Program.

There are so many resources on clean eating, and our society is making this a a much easier solution for people. Restaurants and grocery stores are cognizant of our desire for chemical free foods. Pinterest and Google are LOADED with pictures of delicious food that is clean. I even have a new cookbook called "Sugar and Spice" that's full of clean recipes for busy families! So this type of eating is really accessible for everyone and makes for a great place to start when you're dialing in your nutrition.

This is where I started. And this has gotten me a long way, guys. JUST THIS. No fancy eating plans, no portion control, no tracking. Just this. For at least two years my body gave me results from eating this way. And then I was ready for more :) On to the next strategy...

Tracking:

This is a great strategy for beginners, but I think to really benefit from tracking your food, you should mostly be eating CLEAN foods. Not all calories are created equally. A Snickers bar and a sweet potato with butter have roughly the same amount of calories, but which is more beneficial in your body?? So while counting calories will produce results, if you want to get healthy, not just skinny, you have to eat clean first. That's why I listed it before tracking.

There are lots of ways to track your food. One of the most widely used is My Fitness Pal. It's super user-friendly and can be used for looking at macros, keeping track of your water, setting fitness goals, and so much more. If you want to know specifics about the foods you are eating, give MFP a try.

Another way to track your food is by keeping a food journal. For some reason, I find this to be my favorite way, but I track portions, which I'll get into below. In a little notebook I keep on my counter I write down everything I eat each day (and note their portions). It's super fast and super simple. But the act of writing it down causes me to think about what I'm eating instead of just mindlessly grabbing food all day.

I also PLAN my meals in advance, which I would consider another type of tracking. In my calendar, I write out the meals for our family so that I am prepared for the week. Being prepared is key to achieving health and fitness goals!

Portion Control:

If you have gotten the eating clean part down, but you feel your portions may be off, finding a good portion control program might be a good next step. If you have more than 10 pounds to lose, I would recommend the 21 Day Fix to establish some good parameters with your portion control.  The guidelines I learned from completing that program are still with me today, nearly two years later. I have better understanding on how to fill my plate, how many servings of each food group I need to lose or maintain my weight, and what a correct portion size is. When I track my food, I track it using the food groups I learned about during the 21 Day Fix. My journal looks like this:

Yellow (carbs): X X

Green (veggies): X X X X

Purple (fruits): X X X

Blue (healthy fats): X X

Red (protein): X X X X

Orange (oils and seeds): X X

Each time I eat, I circle an X in the food group it's from. These are approved foods only, so I try to keep it clean (not circling a yellow for tater tots, for example). The colors stand for the containers the foods go in. I have long since abandoned those containers, but I still refer to my foods in those terms! I have added more fats and oils and seeds to my goals than I originally had in my 21 Day Fix plan because the research I have done shows how beneficial those are to our diets. So I tweaked it a bit for my needs and goals. BUT, the rest of it is about the same. I try not to go crazy with carbs, and work super hard each day to get my veggies in. If I didn't track, I could go days and days with one serving of veggies each day, and that just isn't enough.

This system is simple and it works for me. But perhaps you need more structure and guidance. If so, than using MFP or the 21 Day Fix program would be a good solution for you.

Intermittent Fasting:

Intermittent fasting is not new to me, but the term is. For a few years now, I have tried to stop eating after dinner, which is usually around 6 pm. And then I don't eat again until breakfast the next day. Occasionally I will have a snack if I'm really hungry, but for the most part I'm finished eating for the day. This strategy has helped me stay lean and wake up with a flat midsection because my body was able to go into fat burning mode while I slept. You see, it takes our body quite a while to digest a meal, and then enter into fat burning mode, so if we never give our bodies downtime from eating, it's a bit harder to get to our fat stores. Enter intermittent fasting.

This is a great strategy to use if you have already tried the strategies listed above and you want an extra PUSH in achieving your fitness goals.

*Note: It is my personal opinion that if you don't have much weight to lose, and if your metabolism is good (meaning, you haven't yo-yo dieted for years) then this strategy will only work for you short-term. Try it and play with it to see what about it works best for you. It's fun to experiment and determine what your body needs. And once you get to this strategy, you are likely in a pretty good place with your fitness, so you'll really be able to see how it works for you!

Tracking your Macros:

Once you are comfortable with the above strategies, but you want to see more results, more muscle and a lower body fat percentage (who doesn't, really?) you might look into macros. The world of macros is complex and varies widely depending on your specific goals. My advice would be to read up on macros before starting to track them closely so that you know where to set your targets. It's a super effective way to lose body fat, but definitely requires more effort and attention than the previous strategies. This is one I haven't gotten the nerve up to tackle yet, but it's on my to-do list! I want to become proficient at it myself so that I can share results and methodology with you!

I hope that you find this overview of strategies helpful, and that you can see how they build on each other. As with all advice I share with you, I truly want you to be successful in achieving your health and fitness goals. So start where you're at-maybe that's at the beginning of my list. Or maybe it's in the middle. But you will be more successful if you build on these strategies, rather than adopting them all at once, or jumping straight to tracking your macros.

Let me know if you have questions for me!

XO,

Katie

Hi! Allow me to introduce myself...

My name is Katie and I'm the author of these emails, blogs, and owner of Harlan Coaching. I have quite a few new subscribers, so I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself to you.

I send emails throughout the week that are meant to inspire, motivate, and educate you in your health and fitness journey. If you ever have feedback, questions, or comments about anything in the newsletters, please feel free to write me back!

Okay, let me tell you a bit about myself… I am a mom to three young children and a wife to my very best friend and partner in this crazy life, Chris. I am an online health and fitness coach and a digital marketer, and I also teach group fitness classes on the side. I love helping people find their best selves through health and fitness. I also love sunsets, coffee, beaches, sweatpants, and pedicures. I am a positive person with a lot of energy, and I like to keep it REAL. I hope we can be friends!

My fitness journey started after I had my youngest daughter 4 years ago. I was tired of being tired and really ready to focus on me for a minute (3 kids under 3 was exhausting!). I knew nothing about nutrition, very little about efficient and effective exercises, and had no idea where I would find the time for anything other than managing my gaggle of children.

I found an online fitness coach (who continues to inspire me today!) and slowly but surely, she helped me figure out my nutrition, my exercise, how to fit it in, and how to quit giving so many excuses. And after working with her for 30 days, I had lost 7 pounds, 12 inches, and I had found more energy than I'd ever had--even with a new baby!!

My renewed confidence propelled me to continue on my fitness journey, and the results and changes kept coming. I found my pre-pregnancy weight. I wore a bikini post-babies with confidence. My clothes became too big. I became a fitness instructor. I found MUSCLE definition. I became an online health and fitness coach.

Over the past 4 years, I have not only found my best health and confidence, but I've shared what I've learned with hundreds (thousands?) of people and helped them transform their lives as well. It is the BEST job ever!!

As I discover new products and strategies, I will continue to share them with you! It is my goal to keep fitness and nutrition solutions SIMPLE so that we can sustain them long-term. In January, I put together all of my favorite information for gaining better health and bringing your family along with you (a key to sustainability) and created my very own program. It's called the 4-Week Slim Down. I've had 17 women go through the program and they are loving the simple check-in system, the meal plans, and the workouts I designed. The next round of this program will begin prep-week on February 20th and I'd love to invite you to join us. If you invest in yourself, it will pay you back in dividends. Check out the info here!

Stretch with Me?

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Stretching. Ugh. NOT one of my strong points. Unless I'm teaching a Body Flow class or participating in some sort of yoga, doing light stretching on my own isn't something I remember to do regularly. But I recently developed tendinitis in my hip and it's just not going to get better without regular stretching sessions. I've been seeing a physical therapist for a few months to help me work through my hip injury. She is WONDERFUL and has taught me so much about the importance of stretching, how to stretch, and other pieces of information related to body movement. I want to share some of that information with you!

  • The hip tendinitis on my right side caused my body to favor my left side, which in turn weakened my right side! Working out in front of a mirror could have helped me with this long before I discovered my issue, because I would have been able to see my imbalance in the mirror. I was teaching a lot at the time (NOT in front of a mirror) and didn't see that my form was compromised. Learn from me: use a mirror to check form! I know it can be uncomfortable to stare at yourself in a mirror while exercising, but good form is SO important. It's worth a little discomfort to your ego to make sure that your form is on pointe and you prevent injuries.
  • Small injuries can turn into big injuries without attention. This was another thing I didn't do correctly. I had a nagging soreness in my right hip and assumed it would go away on its own. Well, during that "wait time" I was compensating, thus making the injury worse in the meantime. So listen to your body. If it doesn't feel right after a few days, IB Profin, ice, heat, stretching, etc. you should probably make an appointment to see someone who knows what they're talking about. In the town I live in, sports medicine is free with insurance so you can pop on over anytime you need to check something out :)
  • Ice can do wonders. This is so crazy to me, but honestly guys, 10 minutes of ice a day on an injured muscle can make a huge difference. I am such a baby when it comes to ice (remember how I feel about being cold?!), but the ice really causes any swelling to go down which leads to comfort and full range of motion.
  • When you are injured, it's really important to pull back a bit. This one might SEEM obvious, but it's really something that is quite challenging for the majority of people. We are STUBBORN and when we're used to being active, pulling back is TOUGH. But remember that it's only temporary. And if you don't pull back, your restrictions might become permanent. Think of it as a fun challenge: find exercises you can do without affecting the hurt area of your body. For me, fast-tempo squats (like the ones I do in classes) are no bueno. They just move too quickly for me to sit back and down and hold proper form. Figure out what move or moves are hurting you and omit them from your routine for awhile. Remember, it's likely not a permanent restriction.

Injuries are no fun. But I do feel like my latest injury is serving as a wake-up call for me to be a little more gentle on my body and give it some solid stretching before and after my workouts. My PT is recommending 10 minutes prior and 10 minutes after. This is a lot for someone who typically only stretches in a choreographed stretching class! But I want this body to last me a LONG time, so I'm going to listen to my PT and listen to my body, and give it some love. I hope you do the same!!

Enjoy your Valentine's Day tomorrow!!!

XO,

Katie