Why I'm Loving Fasted Workouts

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Hey, everyone!

2-3 mornings a week I work out SUPER early, as in 5:15 or so. The other days I work out around 8:30 am. But in both cases I exercise FASTED, meaning I don’t have food in my system. I change it up depending on my mood and how awake I am, but I almost always exercise on an empty stomach.

Fueling My Workouts without Food

Branched-Chain Amino Acid supplements (BCAAs) or pre-workout drinks are fine to drink while fasting—fasting doesn’t mean just drinking water. I like to start my day with BCAAs or a pre-workout; If I could drink both that would be ideal, but then I would need to pee way too many times during the workout and I have things to do!

I have built up to fasted workouts and now prefer working out this way, although I didn’t used to! For years, I thought that I needed to eat before I worked out for it to count; current research shows that’s simply not true.  

I feel lighter when I exercise on an empty stomach and I love the added fat-burning benefits of working out fasted. If you are worried about burning muscle as well, BCAAs are a good protectant for those muscles and act as a barrier on them.

Intermittent Fasting: Optimize Hormones, Break through Plateaus

Intermittent fasting (IF) optimizes hormones, fast. An empty stomach triggers a host of hormonal changes throughout the body that are surprisingly effective in building muscle and burning fat.

After my workout I drink water, make my coffee, check on clients and chauffeur my kids around! I eat my first meal around 11 and try to make it a good one full of proteins and veggies! I add healthy fats or carbs depending upon the type of workout I did.

If you haven’t tried fasted workouts before, I highly recommend it! It is helpful to mix up your routine when you’re looking to break a plateau, and this is one of my favorite ways.

XO,

Katie

Ditch the Food Guild, for GOOD!

I love personal development, so much. I am always trying to be the best version of myself and help others live up to their best selves. But with that can come a lot of guilt if we’re not meeting our expectations for the rules we’ve set for ourselves; and most of the time I see this come up for people with: food! Food guilt is so common, but so unnecessary, and often a large part of why we feel “stuck” in cycles we can’t seem to break. And it’s simple to see why; I love clean eating, but that doesn’t mean the alternative is “dirty.” I’ve found that all it takes to ditch the food guilt, for good, is a few simple mindset shifts.

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  • Food should be fun .

Doughnuts on a bright Saturday morning. Delicious, creamy hot chocolate on a cold night. A big bowl of pasta handed to us by a loving family member. These foods are all fun, and pleasurable, and delicious on emotional levels as well as flavorful, but many of us feel terrible after we eat them. Not because of the sugar content as much as the guilt they bring us! We think, ok, I’ll have to run HOW MANY miles to work this “bad” food off? This is where we shift our mindset. Doughnuts are not something to be shoved down and worried over. If you’re going to have one, savor it! Delight in each sprinkle, in each crispy corner. Notice the texture of the amazing cream filling. Remember the big picture. One treat or meal is a small part of your overall diet. When food becomes forbidden, we put all our attention on that. Instead of thinking of food as “good” or “bad,” reframe them to “everyday” foods and “sometimes” or “treat” foods.

  • All foods can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

If you love chocolate, pie, doughnuts, popcorn, don’t worry—they can be part of a healthy lifestyle! Of course, you don’t want to eat them all day, every day, but work towards finding a healthy balance between all or nothing. You won’t stick to the healthy choices if you feel like the treats can never come. It’s just not sustainable. And really, you wouldn’t feel good if you ate only one kind of food. So don’t stress that you’ll suddenly only want to eat chocolate if you have a treat.

  • If you struggle with keeping things in balance, the food isn’t the real issue.  

When it comes to overeating, research has shown it isn’t the food itself that’s the issue—it’s the relationship WITH the food. If you feel like you can’t be in an “all or nothing” mentality, question your relationship with food; it shouldn’t be a struggle if there’s a healthy relationship both ways. No guilt, no judgment, just honest questions to yourself: Is this a body craving? Or an emotional craving or response?

  • Learn the practice of mindful eating.

Mindful eating is so powerful. It enhances your enjoyment of food. It helps you stress less and puts you in control. Research shows mindful eating helps improve feelings of self-control. This video is a great introduction to mindful eating but really, it’s all about just going slow and focusing on the food in front of you and not the stressful day you may have had. Be present and enjoy your food.

  • Tap into your intuition—for eating.

You know the gut feelings you have that let you know when something is so right for you? You can hone that intuition muscle for food! Intuitive eating helps people develop a healthy relationship with food. You listen to what your body wants and needs based on hunger and fullness cues it readily gives you (we just learn to tune out over the years), eat mindfully, and focus on health, but gently. No strict rules. Just following what you, intuitively, need. This book is a great resource for those wanting to learn more.

And there you have it! I hope these tips help; life is meant to be enjoyed, just like food. So no guilt, you guys!

XO,

Katie

5 Reasons Why Reducing Sugar Will Make Your Life Sweeter

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You all know how much I love doughnuts. I plan for treats and I enjoy them—and encourage you to do so, too! But too much sugar, too regularly, is just not good for your health. In a recent report, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee listed sugar as one of our biggest health concerns. Here are five reasons reducing the amount of sugar you eat will make your life sweeter!

It will keep your mind sharp.

Research shows eating too much sugar can impair cognitive function and reduce proteins you need for memory and quick responses. We all know that sugar rushes don’t last—and they make your brain feel foggy after all that sugar wears off. Cutting down on the sweets can really help that afternoon slump!

Your moods will be less moody.

Depression and anxiety are way more likely when your brain is hopped up on sugar. Your brain depends on a steady supply of chemicals like glucose and insulin. When glucose (sugar!) enters the body, insulin allows it into cells. But when your brain experiences spikes of sugar, insulin becomes more immune to its effects and less effective—making depression and anxiety more likely.

Your skin will look younger!

For real. Too much sugar makes skin look dull and wrinkled, with the sugar in your bloodstream attaching to proteins and damaging collagen and elastin. Skip the expensive facial products and skip the sugar.

It will lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Science has proven drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes by 26 percent. Throw in sugary foods on top of those drinks and the odds are higher.

You’ll have more energy.

This is by far my favorite aspect of ditching sugar. By adding sugars into our diet, we’re decreasing our orexin cells—the cells that keep us awake and going and quicken our metabolism. When these cells aren’t “turned on”, diminished by sugar, we become sleepy!

Interested in getting rid of sugar but not sure where to start? My VIP clients will be partaking in a Sugar Detox next week (August 6th) so if you’ve been interested in a membership, now is a great time to join! Also, prices are going up for the VIP membership in mid-August for new clients; get grandfathered in by joining now AND ditch your sweet tooth. It’s a win-win! Please reach out if you have any questions.

To join my VIP Membership, where you'll have access to my favorite recipes, workouts, and amazing community of like-minded people, click here to register! Remember, the price will increase when we restructure some aspects of our programming, so to lock in the current price of $19.99 join asap!

XO, Katie

How to Overcome Gym Anxiety

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Gym anxiety is a common issue for people jump starting a healthy lifestyle. It can be uncomfortable enough to derail some from ever starting an exercise regimen. One solution to this is to create a workout space at our home, but that's not motivating enough for most people. Many of us need to physically leave the comfort of our home in order to get into our workout groove. So let's talk about strategies for managing anxiety when we go to the gym.

First, remember that the more you do something the easier and more comfortable it becomes. Like riding a bike, right?! Give yourself a few months to get into a groove and just COUNT ON being uncomfortable until the learning curve passes. It's reasonable to expect to feel awkward at first. EVERYONE feels awkward at first. But I think it's easier to handle if you expect it and know that it won't last forever.

Go in with a plan! No one likes to wander around aimlessly! Save a workout to your phone, find one on Pinterest, use a Harlan Coaching VIP workout, make something up! It doesn't really matter! But go in with a plan of action. Feeling like you know what you're going to do is more than half the battle.

Get to know the staff and trainers. Find someone you feel comfortable asking for help when you can't find the machine you want, need to check your technique, or have any general questions. Their job is to help you! Never feel annoying about asking questions! And if they act as if you're being annoying, find someone else to ask or join a different facility.

Go with a friend! Having a partner to help calm your nerves is huge in feeling at ease. You're also more likely to push yourself when a friend is cheering you on! I love finding a friend to meet me at the gym. I am shameless when it comes to recruiting someone to join me!

Use association techniques. Create some positive experiences around going to the gym. Perhaps you reward yourself with a trip to the steam room after your workout. Or you allow yourself a few minutes of scrolling social media in your car before you go home. Or you get to put a check-mark in your journal next to "work out." Start to develop a routine around your workout that you enjoy and look forward to. Those little things make a big difference when it comes to wanting to repeat those behaviors in the future!

I hope these are helpful tips in getting more comfortable at the gym. Please reach out if you have questions! XO

5 Habits that are Stalling Your Health Goals

I want to talk to you today about some health habits that might be stalling your progress in reaching your health and fitness goals.

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Drinking pop!

This will never help you achieve your goals. In ten years we will look back at pop and be flabbergasted by how common it was. If you are drinking regular pop, you are getting so much sugar and so many empty calories, but diet pop is also bad! It is filled with artificial ingredients that hold onto body fat and fuel cravings.  

I completely understand, though. I love pop, and I used to drink so much of it. It was one of those things that always had to be on the grocery list. I’ve cut down a lot and now only have maybe one per month when I am treating myself, but even then I only have a little bit and am completely satisfied. In between treats, I stick to flavored sparkling water. It satisfies that craving for a bubbly drink without the detriment to your health.

Late night snacking

This is such a comfort thing. I think a lot of people snack late at night because they are bored or restless and need something to do. Snacks can just feel cozy, especially if you are doing it with your spouse or partner. The problem is, snacking late at night does not do anything for your body unless you are truly hungry.

If you are truly hungry, please have a healthy snack, but try not to eat it right before bed. Give yourself an hour or two before going to sleep. You need a little bit of time to work on digesting it before you go to sleep. Listen to your body to help you monitor your snacking.

Weekends!

I know so many people who are perfect Monday through Thursday. Every meal is perfectly planned, they never miss the gym, and they stay fully hydrated. Then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday roll around, and that all goes to hell. I’m sorry to tell you, but being really really great then being really really bad isn’t going to help you reach your goals.  

Weekends are for relaxing a little bit. I understand the desire to ease up on the reigns. Just make sure you have a plan that lets you have those treats without going wild. A way to manage this is with a Flex(ible Eating) Day. Your Flex Day is when you allow yourself to eat what you want without worrying. Just make sure you also get in a really good workout that day to balance it out!

Calories In/Calories Out Mentality

Obsessively monitoring how many calories you are taking in and how many you are burning is not a healthy thing! It is not a comfortable way to live, and you don’t have to do it. If you love wearing your fitbit and tracking things like your steps, keep doing it. Just make sure you are practicing flexibility and understanding that those numbers are not hard and fast rules.

Food tracking is also actually really inefficient! 25% of the information on food labels is wrong, and there is no way to know exactly what your body is taking in after everything that happens during digestion. Having an understanding of calories is a good thing, and you should let that knowledge influence how you choose your foods, but listen to your body! Eat when you are hungry until you are satisfied, and do exercise that you enjoy! That is so much more important.

Under-hydrating

A lot of you are not drinking enough water. Being well-hydrated is like flipping a switch; it resets so many things in our bodies. Think of your body like a car, and the water is like the oil! If you let the oil run out, the car cannot function. It keeps your system lubricated and keeps things moving. It increases your energy, clears up your skin, decreases inflammation, and so much more!

I used to tell my clients to drink half of their body weight in ounces of water. Then I realized that that does not necessarily work for everyone. I’ve scaled it back and now recommend about 70 ounces on average for people. If you can get more, that’s great, but try to get at least 70 every single day.

I hope that these are even a little bit helpful! If you have any questions, please let me know!

When You'd Rather Be Outside

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You guys. When it is warm out and I have to work, I feel like a kid with her face and hands pressed against the door and a look that says, "PUL-EASE let me go outside!" I'm magnetized to the outdoors, ESPECIALLY on gorgeous 80 degree days. And really, who isn't?? But the thing is, I am my company's owner, CEO, manager, accountant, content writer, janitor, coach, and every other position you can think of. And if I'm not working, we are not moving forward. That won't always be the case, but at this phase of the game, it certainly is. So finding tools and tricks to help me keep working when it's really really hard has become a skill of mine.

Let's be clear: I freaking love my job. LOVE LOVE LOVE. When people ask me what my hobbies are I have a really boring answer: traveling, working out, reading, eating, and growing my business. BUT even though I freaking LOVE it, there are times when finding enough focus to say, write a blog post or respond thoughtfully to questions is harder than others. The end of the school year is always one of those times for me. Our schedule is all out of whack from school field trips, performances, lessons, recitals, early dismissals, etc. etc. All that PLUS we are just ready for a break from the rigorous school schedule and you've got a recipe for "I'll get to it tomorrow." But I'm determined to keep the momentum going by not getting out of my office duties when it's nice out! Here are some things I'm doing to stay in the game:

  • I take my laptop outside

This might seem obvious, but it serves as a nice in between for me. I can work and enjoy the weather too. Although I have to admit, I know that I am less productive sitting outside with a laptop on my lap than in my office with my desktop. But I feel that this is a reasonable compromise.

  • I have clear daily goals

If I can just focus on a short list of "must do" items in front of me, then I can enjoy the weather with less guilt about what I "should be" doing. I'm working hard on keeping those daily lists a bit shorter for the next few weeks because I will feel more successful crossing ALL three items off of my list, than staring at my list of ten items with ONLY three things being crossed off. Set yourself up for success!

  • I schedule outdoor time in my schedule.

Again, I'm setting myself up for success here. If I KNOW that I'm going to be outside during the day, I will plan for that time when I create my schedule the night before. Just like with health and fitness we should plan for our treats, when it comes to our time, we should plan our downtime.

  • I recognize the season I'm in.

The end of the school year is always going to be busy while I have children at home. Just like the beginning of the school year will always be busy. Instead of fighting through this busy time, I allow for it and adjust my schedule accordingly. That means that I know my office hours will be shortened and my productivity will be down. In a few weeks, we'll be in a good routine and I can put some more hours on my plate. But until then, I'm going to enjoy a relaxed schedule, a mini family vacation, and some extra sunshine. Because those things are golden!!

I hope you find these tips helpful. And I also hope that it allows you to not be everything in all areas of your life all the time! Allow yourself to ebb and flow in the areas you need, when you need! 

For those of you building businesses with young children at home, my husband shared this article with me the other day and it made me feel really proud. Enjoy! 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/303779

 

Financial Tips for Entrepreneurs

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Are you passionate about your business, but find yourself procrastinating when it comes to finances and administrative details? You are not alone! Many small business owners feel over- whelmed and don’t know where to start with finances and record-keeping. They end up putting off or ignoring the financial part of their business. You can’t be in control of your business if you don’t know what’s going on.

To turn your endeavors and hard work into a successful, thriving business you need a clear picture of your profits and expenses.

Here are 5 financial tips to help you make the most of your business income:

 

Separate business finances from personal finances

Handling your business income and expenses separately will allow you to get an accurate picture of how much money your business is making.

The simplest way to do this is to open a separate checking account that you use only for your business. All of your business income should go into this account and any expenses for your business should be paid out of this account. To make your life easier (who doesn’t need that?!) open the account at the same bank as your personal account.

Schedule payments to yourself on a regular basis – it doesn’t matter if it’s weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, but decide on a regular schedule and try to stick to it. Avoid using the debit card or writing checks for your groceries or to Target out of your business account. The only deductions from the account should be for business expenses. If you don’t have a separate account, open one this week. It can be in your name, or in your business name.

Allocate time for finances & record keeping

Schedule time on your calendar each week for working on your financials and administrative tasks. Do you find yourself procrastinating on these items? If so, do them on Monday! Getting things you dread out of the way at the beginning of week frees up your week mentally to know these tasks are out of the way.

It’s important to know where the money in your business is coming from and where it’s going in order for your business to succeed. Staying up to date on your financial records gives you this peace of mind.

Adopt good financial habits - Avoid business debt

What exactly are good financial habits for your business? The same good habits that work for your personal life - balance your checkbook, don’t overspend, follow a written budget, keep an emergency fund, and avoid debt.

Keep track of all financial transactions, including all expenses and revenue received, and use this information to determine your profit and loss statement. This is valuable information that you need to run your business, know where you stand at all times, and keeps it operating in the black. Poor financial habits can put a business on a path to failure.

Simplify your business structure and record keeping

Don’t be in a hurry to form a corporation, LLC or partnership. Sole proprietorship works for most start-up businesses. Sometimes small business owners try and complicate things before they need to.

The same goes for accounting and record keeping methods. For many start-ups a simple spreadsheet and plastic filing box will suffice. As your business grows you can invest in accounting software or consider outsourcing the accounting function.

Educate yourself

Entrepreneurs are the CEO, CFO, COO, and every position in between! Making an investment in your professional development is making an investment in your business.

If you feel that you like enough financial knowledge to run your business's accounting department, it's time to invest in some simple education in the form of books, podcasts, or conferences. It's amazing how a few hours with a topic can make you proficient!

 

I hope you find these tips helpful! Let me know which of these you're going to focus on!

 

BUSINESS POST: The Tipping Point

Hi There! I wanted to share something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately in hopes that it will help those of you who are growing an online business!

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Recently my business has reached a tipping point, which I’ve been patiently (or actually, IMPATIENTLY!) waiting for for a few years. What I mean by “tipping point” is that point where you are no longer constantly struggling to make things work, and everything becomes a bit easier. It just FLOWS. The grind is still there, oh yes it is, but there is an ease to it that wasn't there before. I’ve spent some time determining what I did to reach that point, and while I want to just say, "I don't know??" I realize that is not helpful. So I thought and thought about this, and I came up with a short list of things that helped me tip. I'm going to share those with you now.

I got my husband on board.

Mind you, he has always been supportive of everything I’ve done, but there was a point late last fall where I went to him and said "I need your help to grow this thing." I needed someone to bounce my ideas and changes off of, but talking to him at the end of the day just wasn’t working. By the time the kids were in bed, both of us had had such long days that neither of us wanted to work more. We started scheduling monthly meetings at his office during the day where we review the previous month and map out the goals for the upcoming one. This has made all of the difference! He knows what is going on in a different way and is involved in a whole new level!

If you have a spouse that isn’t actively supporting you in your business, keep trying to include them. Find ways that they can take ownership. Figure out their specialty and incorporate that into your business.

I read The Miracle Morning (by Hal Elrod).

I started reading this on New Year’s day, and it has completely changed my productivity, focus, and work flow. This book is all about how to get your day started on the right foot. There is just something so powerful about getting up and being productive before dealing with the hustle and bustle that occurs when the day actually starts. I actually listened to it on audio, and what could be easier than listening to that while driving or doing work around the house!?

Give it a try and see how it changes things for you and helps you reach your goals!

I added another income stream.  

Many of you know that I am a Zyia rep, and it is the perfect complement to the services that I am already providing. Adding Zyia in has been so seamless and so easy. I always say that millionaires have five to seven streams of income, so don’t put all of your eggs in one basket! Try to at the very least have plans for several things on the table.

Need advice for another stream of income? This is my speciality. I LOVE helping others make plans! Head here to set up a business consult.

Time and pressure.

I have been working on this for FIVE years. I’ve been hustling, grinding, and focusing EVERY DAY. You must remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint! You have to be willing to make sacrifices and put in the work!

When I say sacrifices, I mean arranging your life to use your time wisely. For example, I gave up TV for years! In the evenings, instead of settling in with a glass of wine and a show, I worked on my business. Sacrifices can also take the form of protecting your office hours. I have turned down many, many plans and activities to make sure I can work during my office hours, and it has paid off!

Don't be afraid to outsource.

I am the outsourcing QUEEN! I even outsource the cleaning of my house so that my spare time can be for my family or my business. Within my business itself, I have two part-time assistants. I am not in a place to be able to pay someone full-time (though that is coming!), but having two people on the side to help me with administrative work has taken my business so much further. I have a wonderful team, my husband included!

 

There you have it! Five simple things that I have helped me reach my tipping point. Please understand that a tipping point doesn't mean I'm free and clear of work. Oh no. This just means that I have unleashed my ability to generate enough business to keep going. In many ways, I am just STARTING. Entrepreneurship is a CONSTANT ride, so you've got to be honest with yourself: are you up for it?

I love you boss babes, side hustlers, and entrepreneurs! Keep on keeping on!!

XO, 

Katie

Fast Fixes are Fast, but Don't Really FIX Anything

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Hi Everyone!

I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about fast fixes.  I’ve had a lot of people considering my program say to me something like, “I saw that your program only runs for three weeks?  I’m concerned because I really do not just want a fast fix.” I actually really love addressing this because it lets me explain my logic, and it lets me explain to potential clients what their options are.

I think most people have tried a fast fix diet (I certainly have!), but the trouble is that they are a bit like a band-aid.  It might work for a bit, but a fast fix is not designed to be long-term. It will only work for a while, but then we bounce back because we haven't gotten to the root of the issue.  Even worse, sometimes we bounce back a bit more than when we originally started because we've been depriving ourselves of all treats and some food groups.

If you have been a part of a fast fix, don't worry.  It is a totally normal part of chasing after good health.  You are going to stumble here and there while you find what works.  But after a lot of trial and error with different programs and strategies, I've officially given up fast fixes for myself and my clients. I truly want to help my clients find long-term PERMANENT solutions to health, and that is how I've built my program. 

While coaching people online, I require daily check-ins to help keep clients accountable. This accountability is HUGE in reaching your goals. But I've found that 3 weeks is about the limit for holding people's interests with daily check-ins. So I designed my program for three weeks just for logistics. When we wrap it up, I want you to feel energized and motivated, not tired and annoyed. However, for those people who need a little extra support after the 3 weeks is up, I’ve created something very special.

I wanted something that would continue to support my clients in the quest for finding their best health! So I created the Harlan Coaching VIP Monthly Membership. In order to qualify for VIP, you need to have gone through my IF You Carb Cycle program.  You will get your own login and password into our portal, and the portal includes:

  • Recipes - These are hand selected, tested, and sometimes created by me!  You get new recipes each month.

  • Daily workouts - These are my workouts.  They are the ones that I am doing on my HIIT training days when I am not teaching.  I have both workouts you can do at home, and also one that you can do at the gym.

  • Training - You get access to my monthly training topics!

  • Challenges - Every month, we have several fitness and food challenges where you can earn prizes and push outside of your comfort zone!

  • Accountability:  It is also a place to stay accountability if the daily check-in works for you!

This membership is only $19.99 per month!! 

I hope this reassures you all about IF You Carb Cycle not being a fast fix, and I hope it piques your interests in your options to continue! 

With Love,

Katie

Adrenal Fatigue

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Hi everyone!

I am so excited to introduce the topics of adrenal fatigue and estrogen dominance. I heard some ladies talking about this at a business retreat I went on recently. I wanted to research more into it, and, as always, I like to share what I’ve learned with you guys.

What is adrenal fatigue?

You have two adrenal glands located above your kidneys. These are responsible for your stress responses, like your fight-or-flight response. Through the release of adrenaline, our body sends more oxygen to the muscles, our heart starts pumping faster, and pain is reduced.  

In today’s society, with all of our demands, we are putting ourselves in a state of constant fight-or-flight. Normally our bodies would require plenty of time to recover from a burst, but because we are more or less constantly releasing these hormones, our bodies never have time to properly rest! This is adrenal fatigue, when your body has been constantly producing these hormones without a break. Once your cortisol levels rise to a certain amount, it will crash.

How do I know if I am suffering from adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue has a lot of factors that add up:  hormone levels, your thyroid, cortisol, and more! All of these things combined paint a bigger picture of adrenal fatigue. It goes right along with what I always say about the importance of the Study of One. Collecting data on these aspects of your health can help light the way to improving your overall well-being.

For women in particular, fertility is affected by it. Your adrenal glands produce estrogen and progesterone, so issues like estrogen dominance, endometriosis, or frequent miscarriages can be linked to adrenal fatigue as well.

Wait, what is estrogen dominance?

Estrogen dominance is when the balance between estrogen and progesterone fall out of balance. Either progesterone can be low or estrogen can be high for this condition, but the resulting issues are similar.

Cases where your progesterone is normal but your estrogen is high can be caused by many factors. Xenoestrogens are the biggest culprit. These are things that our body process like estrogen. BPAs in your can liners and plastics mimic estrogen in your body. The same is true for parabens and phthalates in cosmetics, so be mindful of what you are putting on your skin and hair! Beautycounter is a great resource for finding cosmetics that are carefully screened for ingredients that won’t negatively impact your health.

Low progesterone, which in contrast makes your estrogen seem high, is primarily caused by two things. Either your prolactin (a hormone produced in breastfeeding moms) levels are high, or you are suffering from adrenal fatigue.  

What are some symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

A huge part of it is feeling exhausted all of the time throughout the day but then awake towards the evening. This is because adrenal fatigue causes cortisol surges later in the day, making you feel tired but wired. Insomnia and other sleep issues are also correlated with adrenal fatigue.

What about estrogen dominance?

Excess estrogen can cause a lot of problems! Things like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and autoimmune diseases have all been linked to high estrogen. That’s why it is so important to monitor! The best ways to avoid excess estrogen are to both limit exposure to xenoestrogens and to take care of your liver, which processes out excess hormones.

Another symptom of estrogen dominance can be polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Smaller signs can be bloating, weight gain in the hip and stomach areas, and heavy, irregular periods.

How do I get officially checked for adrenal fatigue?

One of the best ways is getting your blood drawn for a CBC count, metabolic panel, hormone panel, and a thyroid panel. Cortisol tests, also a good idea, are done through frequent saliva tests to check how the levels fluctuate throughout the day.  

Is it the same for estrogen dominance?

There is a very specific test, actually. On day three of your cycle, you will want to get an estrogen and progesterone test as well as general hormone panels. When you come to a doctor for issues possibly related to estrogen dominance, make sure you get a test done before you they just put you on birth control to regulate it.

How do you remedy adrenal fatigue?

Depending on which stage of adrenal fatigue you are in, diet, supplements, or a combination of the two can help. Adrenal fatigue is measured in four stages based on your stress of levels. Think of it as a spectrum where stage one is the stress of something like a big job interview coming up and stage four is the stress of something more serious like fighting cancer.  

With regards to diet, micronutrients are so important for your adrenal health! Try taking a micro-green powder. They’re packed with prebiotics, probiotics, and micronutrients. Also, avoiding cold foods can help as well. Room-temperature or hot foods are easier to digest, so your body absorbs more of the nutrients from what you are consuming. Think hearty stews and soups.  

As far as supplements are concerned, there is a class of herbs called adaptogenic herbs. These help with stress response and building back your adrenal glands. Ashwagandha is considered one of the best. Gaia Herbs has an adrenal support supplement that contains Rhodiola and Ashwagandha and other nourishing herbs.

I hope this is helpful and eye-opening for some of you!  Chasing good health is all a huge journey. Always keep in mind that it is a process of the Study of One and small changes to make your life better.  Don’t get too caught up in perfection. Change what you can a little bit at a time.

*Information taken from my interview with Ali Damron, certified holistic coach and acupuncturist. Reach out to her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/alidamron

 

Getting Back on the Wagon (before it gets away!)

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What do I do if I’ve fallen off the wagon? I get asked this by a lot of my clients, and I think it’s a really important question. We all have points in the year where we are more susceptible to indulgence, so this is a timeless issue when chasing our good health.

Here are some tips for how to get back into eating healthily and working out regularly if you have gone through a brief (or not so brief!) lapse:

  1. Bring your spouse, friend, or family member with you. This can be so helpful because it keeps you accountable. My husband is my partner, so we are usually in sync when it comes to our health and fitness. If I fall off the wagon, chances are he took a tumble as well. We work together, and that makes getting back to it so much easier.  

  2. Tell your family. This helps everyone understand why getting back into a routine is so important. Whenever the need to buckle down arises for me, I sit my kids down and explain that, while it has been nice to have a lot of treats lately, we are going to start eating healthfully again so we can feel better and have more energy. Obviously, if your kids are older than mine you can go into more detail. Keeping it simple just seems to work best for me.

  3. Think of your day as a check in system. Did I get my water in? Eat clean? Work out?  Fast? Questions like that are the standards that I use now. My programs are designed to form habits of checking in that can help my clients long after the end of the program. Your standards can be anything from not having pop to making sure you get enough protein. Do whatever works for you. Try to set 3-5 standards to check yourself with.

  4. Write out your plan.  This is so important! Any time you write something down, it is much more likely to happen. Go through your calendar and schedule workouts! Plan out your meals! It’s a lot of work, but if you take 30-45 minutes a week to write everything out, it saves you so much time throughout the week, and it keeps you on track.

  5. Join a program for guidance. Here is where I can help you, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be my program. You have to do what works for you. Starting something new just keeps you focused.  Having someone help lead you makes all the difference. Here's the link to read more about my program!

  6. Try something new, exciting, and challenging. If you are doing a type of exercise that you really hate, it won’t work long-term. Don’t run if you hate running! Maybe give a sport a shot so that you can have fun and work out while you do it. Group classes are also a great way to start a new fitness journey.

  7. Set mini-goals. Small goals can be achieved and rewarded in different ways. They can be specific, like wanting to work out five days in a row, or vague, like wanting to fit into that old pair of jeans you can’t seem to part with. Big goals are great, but little goals help you feel successful along the way.

I hope these are helpful. Just remember, everyone falls off of the wagon, even people in the health and fitness industry (looking at myself here). It’s okay! Just use support structures to build yourself up and help you get back on. And please reach out if I can help!

Weight Training Tips

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I’m here to talk to you today about weight training!

A while back I had a minor injury in my hip. While I was recovering from that, I had to step back a bit from teaching some of my group fitness classes, but during that time I was still comfortable taking the classes and just scaling back. This allowed me to be more in the thick of things and observe other people, both with their weight selections and their form. I noticed some things, and this led me to compile a few tips for weight training.

Before I get to that, though:  why weight train? Specifically talking to the ladies out there: We NEED to be lifting weights!! Don't worry about looking manly; our bodies don't have enough testosterone for that! Weight training will tone and shape our body. It's how you get a tapered waist. It's how you get toned shoulders. It's how you get a round, lifted butt! Also, if you add weight training into your routine, you are going to burn more fat, too, even while rested. It is the #1 type of exercise I recommend to my clients because of allllllll the benefits.

Now, back to those tips:

  1. Weight selection. This is something I notice a lot of people struggling with. I can understand that you may naturally look around and base your weight selections off of what others around you are doing, but there is a better way. When you are choosing weight, you want an amount that allows you to maintain proper form for a majority of the set. It’s okay to have to power through your final reps, but it should be manageable. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve reached the end of the set and you could keep going indefinitely, it might be time to up your weight.

  2. Number of reps. How many reps should you do? A general guideline is when you are lifting heavier, do fewer reps. When the weight is more moderate, do more reps. High reps = Low weight. Low reps = High weight. Always changing number of sets, type of move, and body part worked are KEY to not plateauing. As an example, I love doing 3 sets of 15 reps when I'm lifting moderate weight, and 5 sets of 5 when it's heavier.

  3. Don’t compare yourself to others! I see this all the time in class settings where everyone is doing the same thing. Maintaining proper form and pace is so much better for you than struggling to match your neighbor. Try to keep in mind that what you are doing is personal. You know your body and what your goals are. Taking inspiration from others is fine, but do what is best for you!

  4. Track your training. When I first started taking BodyPump, I could never remember the amount of weight I was doing, but I really wanted to keep track of my progress. I recommend doing what I did, and that’s bringing a notebook or your phone to jot down your weights as you go. It’s so important to see your progress! This is even more important with free-weight training on your own because it helps you remember how much you've lifted previously. Ultimately, we want to increase our weight selection as we build our strength. 

I hope these tips help! Let me know if you have any questions. My goal is that you’ll be inspired to incorporate weight training into your routine!

How to Vacation Without Undoing Your Hard Work!

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Vacationing is a passion of mine!I And as a health and fitness coach, I'm very much aware of how the choices we make while on vacation can undo some of the progress we've made throughout the year. I want to solve this pain point for my clients and myself! I've spent a lot of time thinking about we can fully enjoy ourselves while on vacation and not come back to reality plus 10. Here are some tips that I practice while traveling:

  1. Plan an active vacation. My 20-year-old self would have rolled her eyes at this tip. Laying by the pool is nice, but the best memories are made doing active things! There is only so long you can rest on a beach before you want to jump in the water! Plan some sort of activity each day to break up your downtime. Find some hiking! Go for a swim! Even strolling through a city can be so wonderful. You get to exercise and make memories at the same time.

  2. Plan out your treats. You are going to indulge in more treats than normal on vacation, and please do! But try to have a game plan to mitigate it. I know vacations can be a bit more spur of the moment, but if you plan ahead, you can figure out when your treats will be in the day and focus on being healthier otherwise. Use moderation and treat yourself with intention!

  3. Assess but don’t obsess. One thing that helps me with my trips is having a dialogue with my husband. We talk about how much we are enjoying the trip but also about how much we are enjoying the food. We talk about how we feel after meals and activities. This helps us keep better in tune with how our choices are affecting us, which, in turn, helps us make better choices moving forward. Let your focus be on how the food makes you feel. 

  4. Keep doing what you are good at. If during your normal life you are very good about certain aspects of your health, such as drinking your water or intermittent fasting, keep doing those things. Those things make you happy and make you feel good, so keep it up!

  5. Water! Drinking water is important all of the time, but it also helps you to detox a bit of the things you are consuming that you don’t normally put in your body. Try to OVERDO on water while on vacation and your hangovers will be less, your bloat will be less, and you will not feel as hungry!

I hope these tips help you enjoy your next vacation without undoing progress!! Cheers to your next adventure!

What Exactly IS Online Coaching?

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I’ve been an online coach for five years, and I actually started as a client! Joining my first online group was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it showed me that I had a passion not only for health and fitness, but I also have a passion for teaching people simple ways to improve their health. When you think about it, joining that group launched my career!

When I signed up for my first online program, I was looking to solve some pain points. My main motivation was wanting to get healthy. I was sluggish and tired, and I knew I needed to make my health a priority. Because I had three young kids, I didn’t have the time or the funds to set up a routine with a personal trainer. That’s why online coaching is so useful. Someone is still telling you exactly what to do, but you have more flexibility with regards to time and funds.

After finding my own success with my online coach, I decided to become a coach myself. At first, I just wanted to share the simple things I was doing with others. But that passion has turned into my career! Since beginning 5 years ago, I've worked with 1000's of clients in finding their best health. And more recently, I created my own program: IF You Carb Cycle, which has helped over 200 people transform their lives!

The benefits of online coaching really comes down to three things:

  • Cost

Let’s use my program as an example. My three-week program is only $99. What do you get for that? You get the print manual as a PDF which has everything you need. You also get two or three live trainings. These are done via video chat so you avoid the added cost of meeting with me in person. I go through the rules and answer any questions during these live trainings. The program also includes the private community group where participants are required to check-in daily. This accountability is part of what really works because it is a daily touch point for your progress.

  • Convenience

This was huge for me when I signed up with my first online coach. The convenience of everything being online really is a huge benefit. You don’t need any extra time aside from the meal prep/planning, time for your workouts, and maybe about 10 minutes a day for the work you do with the community group. No need to schedule in-person meetings and then stress about adhering to the set appointments. Everyone has a phone and/or computer, and that's truly all you need for check-ins!

  • Customizability

I’m really proud of the huge age range that I’ve had go through the program. Everyone, no matter their age or athletic ability, has been able to have success because of how customizable IF You Carb Cycle is. We all start at the same point, but you are easily able to change it up based on your body and your needs. This loops back to the checking in. As we go through the program, if you find that some aspects aren’t working for you, or you can’t do them at all, you can contact me. I will work with you to figure out how we can change the program to fit your needs.

 

If you’ve never looked into online coaching, I really do encourage you to give it a try. That little bit of guidance and support changed my life and showed me what was possible. I want you to find that success, too!!

How Many Calories Should You Be Eating??

This is a popular question with my clients and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

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First, you'll need to identify which category to place yourself based on your goals: losing, gaining, or maintaining your weight. In very simple terms, to lose weight you need to be in a deficit, burning more calories than you consume. In order to maintain your weight, you should burn the same amount as you consume. Gaining weight requires that you eat more calories than you burn.

Let’s use losing weight as an example. To lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. Most people have tried these types of diets before, and they usually work, UNTIL the calories are dropped too low. We do not typically do a great job of assessing just how low to drop our caloric intake is. A problem with dropping the calories too low is that this can cause your metabolism to slow down. Over time you are giving your body less and less fuel, and because it has less fuel your body will stop burning fat at a high rate to conserve energy.

Let me give you an example of my own experience with this. I participated in a calorie deficit plan a few years ago, and because of my short height I was in the lowest calorie bracket (about 1,200). This was problematic because not only was I active during the day, but I was also exercising. When you calculate how many calories I burned during those activities, I was likely only getting about 800 calories each day. And that's not enough for anyone!! I was MISERABLE and it's clear now why.

Now that I have learned about Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, I finally understand why I was so miserable while I was doing this plan. I was hungry all of the time! Not only that, but I did not see the changes in my muscle definition that I was going for. I wasn’t seeing muscle tone; I was just getting lean.  

To figure out how many calories your body needs to just EXIST (not counting activity or exercise), you'll want to figure out your own BMR. You can use a simple online calculator for this.

As a guide, my BMR is about 1200, which explains why my low calorie plan wasn’t working! 1200 is the MINIMUM number of calories I should be consuming each day on a day when I just lay in bed. And let me tell you...I can't remember the last time that happened! Long story short, I could have still been in a deficit, but I didn't need for it to be quite so low! 1500-1600 would have been much more reasonable. And enjoyable!

As you learn more about BMR, you might notice symptoms of too-low calorie intake in yourself:

  • Poor Sleep Quality - It can take you a long time to fall asleep, and you wake up in the middle of the night. You wake up not feeling rested at all.

  • Low Energy levels - Because you are not fueling your body properly, you feel sluggish throughout the day.

  • Bad Mood - They don’t call it “hanger” for nothing! If you aren’t getting enough calories, you are miserable, and that will reflect itself in how you act.

Calorie intake can be a huge part of what I call The Study of One. Your body and the way it feels can tell you best if you are getting enough, too little, or too many calories. For example, if you are getting the right amount of calories for your body, you go to bed feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

How do you learn more than just what your body is telling you? I would recommend tracking your calories for a solid week using an app like MyFitnessPal. It is easy to use, it syncs with nearly every brand of smartphone and fitness tracker, and it has a barcode scanner for specific food items. It even has a recipe calculator!

Don’t change anything about your routine; just collect some data. Then, go online and look up a couple of BMR calculators. Try using multiple because you will get different results, but keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, so these will not have 100% accuracy. These BMR calculators are based on an average for height, weight, and age. Compare your intake to the results of these calculations. This will let you know if you are way over or way under.  

Once you have collected data for a week, compare it to your BMR. If, for example, you see that you are eating way too little, you don’t want to suddenly add in another 500 calories. You need to add them in gradually. This is called “reverse dieting”. You want your body to slowly rebuild. You can still keep yourself in a deficit while rebuilding, but chances are your deficit is a lot higher than it needs to be.  Closing the gap can make so many changes in how you feel.

Once you have used this data to calculate how many calories you should be eating, feel free to keep using MyFitnessPal.  Under the settings and profile section, there is a place to input goals. It asks for your current weight and your goal weight. If you don’t know what your goal weight should be, try looking up general guides of ideal weight for various heights, but always remember that these are based off of averages! You may run above or below because of your frame size, so do not be too hard on yourself if you do not fit perfectly into their model.

Next, the app will ask your for the timeframe in which you are looking to lose this weight. A good rule of thumb is to try losing half a pound to a pound per week. Anything more than that is really  an unhealthy expectation, though you may lose weight fast at first if you haven’t exercised or eaten healthily in a long time.

If you go to the bottom of the home screen of MyFitnessPal and click diary, it gives you the option of tracking your macronutrients:  carbs, protein, and healthy fats. I like looking over this at the end of the day to make sure that I am keeping up with my carb cycling. I use this feature to make sure that my healthy fats are higher on my low-carb days and that my carbs are much higher on my high-carb days.

Do you need to track to be successful with your goals? Absolutely not. For the longest time, I didn’t. I hated the idea of tracking everything I ate, and I found the simpler approach of “eat this, not this” much more appealing. What I mean by all of this is, if you feel great and are seeing results, you do not necessarily have to start tracking. As the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.  

Tracking also isn’t necessarily something that is beneficial for everyone.  For example, if your personality type is obsessive, and you cling to things, MyFitnessPal might be distracting. Also, it can be a trigger for eating disorders, if that is something that has affected you in the past.  Tracking can be great, but if it is going to get in your way or affect your mindset negatively, there are other ways to monitor your body.

In my IF You Carb Cycle program, I do not require tracking. I try to leave it up to the clients because it is such an individual preference. Usually, I start with the method of, “eat this today and this tomorrow.” After a few days, I prompt clients to try tracking if it is something that they think will work for them.

I hope this makes you more comfortable with trying out MyFitnessPal and calorie tracking. If you have any questions, as always, feel free to reach out to me!

The Real Flex Friday

I want to talk to you guys about something that I think is really important: the real Flex Friday. I’m sure you’ve seen lots of hashtags and instagram posts of people flexing with #flexfriday, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  It means something different to me now, and I really want to share it with you.  Flex Friday is a great strategy that I like to use, and I am passionate about incorporating it into my IF You Carb Cycle program.

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To those of us in the program, Flex Friday (and it doesn’t have to be a Friday, by the way) is the one day of the week where we don’t pay attention to any of the food rules.  In carb cycling we alternate between high-carb and low-carb days, and we try as hard as we can to stick with it. Flex Friday is the one day out of the week where we can just relax and build treats into our routine.  I love to have my flex days on my Friday because it gives me something to look forward to, but you can schedule it within your week to fit your needs.

There are a lot of wonderful benefits to having a flex day.  I have tried many different strategies for fitting treats into my eating schedule.  I’ve tried living the 80/20 rule, which I still think is a great place to start.  80/20 is an eating plan where 80% of your time you are eating clean, and 20% you are relaxed. I’ve also tried mini-flex days throughout the week.  Out of anything I’ve tried, though, I feel like what gets me on track the fastest is the one day a week.

When you know that you have one day a week to relax with your eating, it becomes a reward.  It gives your body and your brain time to rest.  Starting a new nutrition or fitness plan takes a lot of brain space.  Until you get into the swing of things, you spend a lot of time and effort wondering about the different foods that you are eating, and that’s okay!  It is a bit like a part-time job, but even with a part-time job, you need days off.  I have a lot of clients say that they would rather keep going than take a flex day, but I always try to steer them towards at least one treat during that day, just so they do not get burned out.  

Your metabolism also benefits from flex days.  When you are used to eating a certain way, throwing a flex day in forces your body to re-adjust back to your healthier eating.  This is called a “refeed day” in the fitness world. It is like hitting a reset button so that you do not plateau.

During my program we don't eliminate any food groups. We eat clean foods, and we are strategic about where during the week we place our carbs. The things that are more of a treat, like alcohol, sugar, bread or pasta, we try to keep on flex day.  So, if you are craving ice cream (like I am right now!), try and save that for a flex day.  When it comes around, you can have that ice cream, and you will enjoy every bite because you PLANNED on it!

If you want to be part of a non-restrictive lifestyle that still allows for the occasional planned treat, then IF You Carb Cycle might be for you. Click here to read more!

Business Tip: Finding Time for Your Side Hustle

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I want to talk to you guys about how to make time for your side hustle.  So, I’m looking at you stay at home moms, full-time workers, and anyone else who finds their days loaded down with responsibilities.  These tips are to help you work your side hustle in when you can and make it grow.

I know the struggle very well.  When I started my own hustle about 5 years ago, I had three kids under the age of three!  Finding the time to do anything other than just living and trying to care for my young family was really hard, but I wanted this side hustle to work.  I saw value in it, I believed in it, and I really got so much enjoyment from it.  To be completely honest with you, I think the biggest reason I had the motivation to stick with it was because I appreciated the little breaks here and there from my family and my “mom duties”.  I worked really hard to find enough time to grow my business but still be the best mom I could be at the same time.  

Along the course of my journey, I developed quite a few tips and strategies, but I’ll stick to my four most important to start:

Four Tips to Find Time for Your Side Hustle:

1.  Schedule Office Hours and Protect Them!  

(No, seriously.  Protect them like crazy!)

This is going to look different for everyone.  For me, I always scheduled my office time during nap time or, now, when my daughter is at preschool.  You will not find me cleaning during office hours.  You will not find me cooking.  I even try not to work out during that time.  That is time for my business!  That’s the time when I’m in my office with my computer and to-do list, and I am focused.  Something like dishes can be a spur of the moment chore, but office hours need my full focus and attention, and that takes effort to carve out in a day.  

Maybe for you, if you are working full-time, that means you work early in the morning or even between dinner and bed.  Your lunch hour is an option, too!  I know life is busy, and we are all so busy these days, but if you want to keep your side hustle successful, you have to find time to fit it in.

2.  Prioritize

(Ask yourself, “Is this TV time really adding value to my life?”)

This goes right along with protecting those office hours.  Our days are already so full that making time for office hours is going to require some sacrifice. In my case, there were years where instead of decompressing at night in front of the TV or relaxing with a book, I would be working.  I gave up a lot of things, but it has paid off for me, and my side hustle has become a full-time income for my family.

Try and think of some things that are taking up time that could really be used for your business.  What could you give up, or at least move to a back burner?  This doesn’t mean that you are never going to watch TV again.  I just means that you are prioritizing things that are important for you, and maybe, for the time being, TV goes.

3.  Keep Lists

(Who has time during their office hours to wonder, “What are my business activities?”)

Trying to fit a little bit extra productivity in our days is basically the definition of a side hustle, but that means when you sit down, you better work!  You can’t waste time thinking, “What am I doing today?”  I have a list going all of the time in my office to keep me on track.  I also use Evernote on my phone to make notes while I’m out (It’s a great app because you can pull it up anywhere and link your content between devices!).  I keep these lists so that when I sit down in front of my computer for my office hours, I can grind it out quickly.

These lists aren’t just useful for during your scheduled office hours.  For example, now that my youngest is the only one at home with me during the day, there are times when she’s gone off to play by herself, so I’ll bust over to the office for some work.  That’s when it is so helpful to have lists of what I want to do.  Also, she starts kindergarten in the fall, so my whole schedule is about to change!  Times when everything is in flux are when lists are essential to squeeze in work where you can.

4.  Visualize Your Goals

(Surround yourself with what you want to accomplish so your eye never leaves the prize!)

Grinding it out and having a side hustle can be exhausting.  So often after a long day at work or with the kids, nothing sounds better than kicking our feet up with a glass of wine, but that just isn’t going to move us closer to our goals.  I find that keeping my goals everywhere in my space reminds me why I hustle.  Above my desk I have a white board, and I have my word for the year, and under that I have a few very important tasks for the week.  It’s just right there.  It can be your yearly goals, your quarterly goal, or even just your reason for your hustle.  It can be anything.  I also find that journaling helps me stay focused and reflect on my goals on a daily basis.  Having these goals all around you is like having a support system of your own ideas.

The thing is, grinding out your side hustle is hard.  Sometimes it can feel so fun and easy, but other times you would really rather just read a book or get a pedicure.  It’s just like exercise! Working out can be so much fun and feel great, but having some strategies in place on the rough days can save you from breaking a routine.  That’s why I think these tips are so important. Protecting your offices hours, prioritizing your tasks, making lists, and visualizing your goals can really help you keep on track and make your side hustle a success!

I hope all of these tips were helpful.  Please, message me if you have any questions, and I hope you guys have a great day!

P.S.:  Entrepreneur Academy!

Guys, I am working on putting my online Entrepreneur Academy into a downloadable work-as-you go self-paced program. I can’t wait to share it with you in just a few weeks!! If you want to be the first to know when this is available, send me a message! XO

ALL the Drinks!

Hey Everybody!

Today I want to talk to you about drinks!  These are drinks that I incorporate into my healthy living, and are great options for you, too!  Before I get into it, though, I just want it to be clear that I don’t drink all of these every day; I’d float away!  Instead, use this list as a guide for choosing your beverages.

Water

Still Water:  This is my beverage of choice.  I know that sometimes reaching your water consumption goal can seem like a chore, so I try to make it enjoyable in little ways.  Try to find a container or a cup that you really love because you’ll love using it!  I’m aiming for about 70 ounces of water every day, and you should be, too.

Flavored Water:  These can be such a great way to make drinking water more fun!  I found a great flavored water recently called Hint, and it’s called that because it just has a little hint of fruit.  The pineapple is my favorite!  Of course you could also simply put frozen fruit in the water.  It’s a great idea during the summer, and it’s a much better choice than a sugary sports drink.

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Sparkling Water:  My husband just loves when I bring home flavored sparkling water.  I’d actually say that he’s a little addicted to it, but what a harmless thing to be addicted to!  It’s fun because it’s carbonated, so it kind of takes the place of pop without all of the sugar.  On the weekends we sometimes like to make a little cocktail with some muddled berries, vodka, and flavored sparkling water.  It’s so good and so healthy (or as healthy as a cocktail can be)!  If you’re trying to break your pop habit, try giving sparkling water a try!

Hot Drinks

Coffee:  It is absolutely no secret, I love coffee.  I always put raw honey in my coffee; I only use about a teaspoon or so.  I’m still fasting when I drink my coffee, so I try to stay under about 50 calories or so, and I technically won’t break my fast that way.  I’ll also splash in whatever coffee creamer I have on hand, usually an almond or a coconut creamer.  Sometimes, if it’s a low-carb day, and I’m using high amounts of fat for energy, I might use a little heavy whipping cream.  I also like a little cinnamon.

Now, once in a while, if I’m having coffee later after I’ve broken my fast,  or not fasting at all that day, I use MCT oil.  It is pure coconut oil, and I just add a splash.  It is so good for you and super delicious!

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Tea:  I’ve been really big into tea lately.  It’s such a warm, healthy drink to enjoy during the cold months.  I find that the fruit flavors, like peach, help mask other supplemental things you may be adding to it, like apple cider vinegar (which I certainly don’t drink because it tastes good!).  I also like to add a little bit of raw honey to make it even more of a treat.

Good for the Gut

Apple Cider VInegar:  So, this one kind of counts for a drink!  Apple cider vinegar is a daily thing for me because I’ve noticed such a difference in my skin tone!  I try to have a tablespoon or so every single day, and my skin has cleared up!  It’s so good for your gut, and so much of your health starts there.  I even give it to my kids, but I have to sneak it in when I can (usually some tea with honey is a good way)!

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Kombucha:  This is an acquired taste, but I actually kind of crave it now.  I’ve tried to make my own, but, let’s be clear, I’m actually kind of lazy about that.  I’d really just prefer to get something ready made (my favorite brand is GTS).  Just make sure that if you aren’t going to drink the whole bottle, you pour it into a glass so that you aren’t mixing your own bacteria with the good bacteria in the kombucha.

Cleanse Juices:  I’ve started doing a 24-hour fast with a juice cleanse one day a month.  I order from The Weekly Juicery, and it comes with six juices.  They have a tiny bit of fruit juice for flavor, but they are packed with a TON of veggies and other healthy ingredients.  The juices flood your body with wonderful ingredients, and because the fiber is filtered out, you're continuing to fast. If you want to try the juice cleanse, click here!

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Supplements

Shakeology:  I'm a big fan of Shakeology.  It’s higher in carbs, so on my low-carb days I’ll have a normal protein shake instead, but the taste and nutrients in Shakeology are just so good.  It is meant to be a meal replacement because it has so many nutrients aside from protein, but I usually use it just to supplement what I’m already having that day.  I’ll have this a few times a week.

Protein Powder:  Protein is essential for feeding our muscles when we are working out, and protein shakes are a great way to make sure we are getting enough.  I love protein shakes for snacks, but I also like to keep some powder around to cook with.  Things like cookies or pancake batter can really get an extra boost, and a healthy addition, with a scoop of protein powder.

BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids):  These are really handy for the intermittent faster.  If you’re working out in the morning before you break your fast, you want to protect your muscles from breaking down because you’re not feeding them.  BCAAs coat your muscles, allowing you to burn fat instead.  It also helps you not be as sore and to bounce back faster.  This is especially great if you are new to working out or are just getting back into it.  It’ll keep you from breaking your routine to recover from soreness.

Pre-workout:  My favorite pre-workout is called Start.  It’s a clean pre-workout with no artificial stuff added in.  It does have caffeine, so I try to be careful about how much I am taking in.  If I know I am going to have extra coffee that day, for example, I will skip the pre-workout.  When I do drink it, though, it just wakes me up, and it gives me enough of an edge to tackle my workout. It really helps me get through teaching early morning classes coherently, as well!!

For free shipping from my favorite supplement store, check out 5 Star Nutrition! When you mention my name you'll get 25% off!

Treats

Orange Juice:  I like brands that are simply oranges with no added sugars or anything else.  The thing to keep in mind, though, is that this kind of juice is not essential for our health!  Juice contains a lot of sugar!  However, I do drink orange juice a few times a week on my high-carb days. I only drink a little bit each time, though (maybe 4 oz).

Milk:  My kids drink cow's milk in their cereal and my son drinks it ALL DAY.  I usually have almond milk or, preferably, coconut milk myself.  We’ve tried to switch my kids to non-dairy milk, but we just can’t yet.  In the meantime, what we buy is whole, vitamin D milk. Yeah, you read that right! This was hard for me because I used to buy skim milk and fat-free everything, but all that really is is just milk with so much (both good and bad) taken out and water added.  If you’re going to buy milk, just buy the vitamin D milk and monitor your intake of it.  

Wine:  So, I really just include this here because I wanted to talk about how, when I do drink, which is really only once or twice a week or so, I choose a red wine.  They say it’s good for your heart.  It’s just a low-calorie drink that is as health conscious as possible.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t ever have sugary cocktails, but I try to make sure to save those for vacations or really special treats.

 

I hope that these suggestions help you decide what to drink throughout your day.  Keep in mind that I don’t have ALL of these every single day.  Just practice moderation and balance. Sometimes we need to eat or drink something just because it’s good for us.  Not everything has to taste like a party in your mouth.  At the same time, treating yourself on occasion with moderation is totally okay, too.

How Healthy Is Your Gut?

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I am so excited to tell you all about a topic that I’ve been really interested in, which is gut health and leaky gut.  I started reading about it when I was thinking about how people can be doing what seems to be everything right with regards to diet and exercise and still be dealing with health issues!  Gut health is fundamental for our overall well-being, and I am so excited to share this with you. The following comes from an interview I did in the fall with Cynthia Thurlow, Nurse Practitioner and Functional Nutritionist. Her information is at the end of this article if you want to reach out to her for more info!


“What is leaky gut?”

Leaky gut has become kind of a catch-all phrase that describes the impact on your small intestine's hyperpermeability.  This is just a fancy way of saying that the tissue in the small intestine has been compromised.  When you have compromised cell tissue, you have proteins and foods that will leak directly, and that can lead to a lot of health problems.  It’s not something that everyone is dealing with, but it is becoming increasingly common in the United States.

“Can my diet cause leaky gut?”

Absolutely!  So much of the sickness we are seeing today is related to, for lack of a better term, the standard American diet.  We’re talking about a highly processed diet that is so far removed from years ago when soil had more vitamins and minerals and we weren’t pumping animals full of hormones.  Sugary drinks can be culprits, too!

“Antibiotics seem to upset my stomach.  Are they related to gut health?”

First of all, antibiotics can play such an important role in medicine, and I do not want to say that they are not valuable.  Antibiotics are designed to kill the bacteria that make you sick, but one of the detrimental things that they can do is wipe out your good gut flora (healthy bacteria), especially if you are on them chronically or for prolonged periods of time.

70-80% of our immunity is in the gut, so if we wipe out the good bacteria there, we run the risk of long term impact, including leaky gut.  This can lead to things such as Hashimoto’s, eczema, or lupus.  Also, when you’ve been on antibiotics heavily at a young age, autoimmune symptoms can emerge later on in life.  

“So, if antibiotics can cause symptoms to flare up, does that mean probiotics are a good idea to maintain gut health?”

There is definitely value in probiotics, though purchasing quality products is important.  Over the counter probiotics can sometimes have bacteria that is dead before it even makes it to market.

Another thing to keep in mind is variety.  Your gut is like a rainforest.  Take a moment to think of how many organisms live in a rainforest.  A lot, right?  Your gut is the same way.  That’s why seeking out a specialist is important, so that you can receive a quality product that has enough variety to benefit you.  

“What are leaky gut symptoms?  Is this something I can self-diagnose?”

A lot of the symptoms are GI related such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.  Food sensitivities can also be linked to leaky gut.  Also, a surprising amount of skin conditions start in the gut, too, ranging from acne all the way to auto-immune issues like psoriasis.

Try to shy away from self-diagnosis, though.  Just start with diet.  Increase your intake of probiotic-rich foods, such as pickled food, and try to scale back and change up the processed foods that you’re eating.  If your symptoms persist, seek out a specialist for testing, which can range from food sensitivity testing to a full blood panel.  

“Okay, so properly recommended probiotics and diet change can help.  Anything else?”

Yes!  So, something we often overlook is how stressed our day-to-day lives can be.  No one is immune to it.  If your mindset is not in the right place while you are eating, it will affect your digestion.  Take a tip from the European way of life.  They make an event out of every meal, savoring the food and lingering to enjoy each other’s company.  While this may not be practical for every meal every day (especially if you have little ones), try to take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to just sit, relax, and enjoy a meal.  

“So, if I think I should be tested, how should I find a specialist?  Is a naturopathic specialist an option?”

As long as health providers are functionally trained, they can administer tests for leaky gut. Naturopathic doctors are an option, but how much freedom that have all relies on state’s laws. There is an organization called The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), and they have a website, IFM.org, that lets you plug in your zip code and look for a functionally trained healthcare provider.


I hope you guys find this information helpful!  Gut health is just another aspect of our bodies as a whole.  It’s important to gather all the information about ourselves that we can so that we can form the best plan for ourselves and our bodies.

*Information taken from an interview with Cynthia Thurlow.

Cynthia Thurlow, Nurse Practitioner and Functional Nutritionist

Website:  Chtwellness.com
Email:  Cynthia@chtwellness.com

 

IF You Carb Cycle FAQs

What does "carb cycling" mean?

Carb cycling is just a fancy word for being strategic about when we eat carbohydrates. Placing them intentionally in our diet is incredibly effective for burning fat.

Can I still have carbs?

Yes! That’s the best part of this program! No giving up entire food groups, instead, we cycle between days of high carbs and days of low carbs to keep our bodies guessing. On your low carb days you will aim to eat 50 grams or less of net carbs (carbs - fiber).

What is IF?

IF stands for intermittent fasting. It is a simple nutritional strategy that focuses on eating within a shortened eating window, instead of eating all day long.

Will you provide the workouts?

No, I do not provide workouts for you in this program. Instead, I will guide you as to what workouts are best with each type of “day” in order to maximize the effectiveness of our carb cycling. If you want more direction with workouts, you might enjoy joining my VIP Membership group, where I provide daily workouts, monthly recipes, and continued accountability.

Can I do this program as a vegetarian? How about as a vegan?

I’ve had several vegetarians complete this program successfully! They might eat a higher amount of carbohydrates on a low carb day than non-vegetarians, but they will still be able to effectively cycle their carbs. While I have had a vegan go through my program successfully, I think it is a challenging combination to try cycling carbs while avoiding any animal products. It can be done, but carbs are a heavy component of the vegan lifestyle, so it’s a bit trickier to avoid them.

I heard there was a 24 hour fast during the program. Do I have to do that?

Nope! We implement an optional 24-hour fast during our 3rd week to maximize the benefits of fasting and to experience a true digestive reset. It is also an exercise in mental stamina! If you don’t want to participate in the fast you certainly don’t have to.

How long is the program?

The program lasts for 3 weeks, with an option to repeat or to continue on in the VIP Membership group. I purposely designed this program to be 3 weeks because people get tired of checking in after that time period, and the check-ins are vital!

Do I have to exercise for this program to work?

No, you can still achieve great results without exercising, but adding the exercise component will accelerate your results!

Do I need to purchase supplements?

No, supplements are not a required part of this program. I discuss the supplements that I take in week 2 of the program in case you are interested in adding them to your routine.

I don’t like to cook, how can I be successful?

It’s hard to have great results if you are eating out frequently. But I also recognize that cooking every night is not realistic for everyone. I encourage you to make a weekly meal plan, where you plan the meals for the week. My cookbook has excellent ideas for crockpot meals and thrown-together meals that help make dinners easy! And you can feel confident that they are perfect for your plan.

Is there a lot of prep work required for this program?

Not any more prep work than I think you need to be successful at putting your health first! Taking care of yourself should feel like a part time job. I do not require hours and hours of prep work, but the more time you give yourself to make a plan, prepare your food, and get a bit organized, the better you will do!

If you are ready to change your life and start living in your best health, sign up here!