Eat the Ice Cream

“Maddy, is this healthy?”

“Maddy, show me how to eat healthy?”

“Maddy, should I not be eating this because it’s not healthy?”

“How do I stop eating ice cream?”

Hi everyone, I’m Maddy! I’m currently a nutrition major at West Chester University, and I’ve been given a great opportunity by Amanda to appear as a guest blogger. Being a Nutrition major in college; I get asked those questions persistently. According to many, in August of 2014, I became an all-knowing food and health professional. Don’t get me wrong, it is thrilling to me when I can educate my friends on health or give advice to my family on how to eat a balanced diet. But first, I want to define what my definition of “healthy” is and isn’t.

Healthy should never be associated with perfection. It should never mean that your diet looks EXACTLY like the celebrity model that cut carbs from her diet or EXACTLY like a meal plan you find on Pinterest. It does not mean that your diet is completely free of sugar, fat, “bad carbs” and salt all the time. And it should NEVER mean you don’t eat ice cream. Don’t let healthy be an all or nothing way of life.

In Summer of 2015, my definition of healthy translated into words like restriction, rigidity, and depravity. I was cutting things out of my diet left and right and was only worried about the decreasing number on the scale. Obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and fear soon crept into my mind along with extreme fatigue and hormonal dysfunctions. My diet could not sway from “perfection”; which then led me to isolate myself from people I love. Activities that I usually love like eating out with friends, barbecues, cooking, or riding my bike to the ice cream stand became a dread to me. If I didn’t stick to my unbreathable plan, shame was always there to greet me. On the outside I pretended I was fine, and people applauded me for how good I looked. But on the inside, my mind and body were in utter turmoil.

I needed to re-evaluate what I was doing to my body because as much as I told myself otherwise, it definitely wasn’t healthy.

Let me clarify. It is SO important that your diet is well-balanced and nutrient-dense. Educate yourself and know what food sources will provide optimal nutrients for the amount of energy it gives. Great resources are websites like https://www.choosemyplate.gov/.

Living a healthy lifestyle will not only help you maintain a healthy weight, but benefit you emotionally, mentally and physically more than you might know.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans says,

“A Healthy eating pattern is not a rigid prescription, but rather, an adaptable framework in which individuals can enjoy foods that meet their personal, cultural and traditional preferences that fit within their budget”

Please do not ignore the words ENJOY found in this definition. Food is so important not only to our bodies but to our social well-being.  It is made for not only our nourishment, but also for our pleasure and to bring us together as people. Of course, try and eat healthy most of the time. Get your servings of fruits and vegetables. Try eating leaner protein and better fats. Swap some refined, white breads with whole grains and maybe reevaluate your portion sizes. Set specific goals to live a healthier lifestyle because your entire body will thank you. But your soul will also thank you for a night out with your friends, eating pizza and ice cream. Don’t eat the whole pie or the whole tub, but allow yourself to thoroughly enjoy the things you love. Be kind to yourself when you don’t hit your goals and be grateful for the ability to learn from experience and try again. Being truthful, I am giving you the advice I constantly give myself. Time and time again, I remind myself, “Maddy, you love ice cream; EAT THE ICE CREAM”!

Snacking Happy!

The word “snack” typically has a negative association attached to it. Most people hear that word and think of it as what NOT to do- but not in a Dietitian’s world! To us, snacking is essential to keeping our metabolism and energy high!

But what does that mean? Grab a bag of chips from the vending machine? Steal a piece of candy off a co-worker’s desk? Nope. Snacks should be planned exactly the way meals should be. They should be a purposeful part of the day, and not a last minute “pick me up” or “hold me over” thing.

I have 3 rules for snacking.

#1: Use fresh and whole foods as much as possible

#2: Always include both protein and carbs

#3: Make sure the snack is both nourishing AND enjoyable!

The second rule is the most important if you want increased energy and metabolism, more willpower, better stress management, and more staying power- meaning you’re not starving by your next meal. When we eat a carb- any kind of carb, good or bad- our blood sugar spikes really high, really fast. Then it crashes just as quickly, but much lower than it started out. This causes an energy crash, low blood sugar, and overeating at the next meal. When we eat a protein, our blood sugar doesn’t increase at all, again keeping us too hungry to control portions at our next meal, manage our stress, or increase our energy. But when the protein is eaten WITH the carb… now we’re on track! The protein molecules actually stick to the carbohydrate molecules, which makes the carb raise our blood sugar much more slowly AND prevents it from crashing back down.

So what kind of snacks include carbs and protein? Examples include fruit and nuts, apple/banana and peanut butter, fruit and cheese, and greek yogurt! Also try wheat thins or triscuits with cheese, peanut butter, hummus or even avocado. There are many other carb+protein snacks. You can also treat raw veggies as the carb and add hummus or cheese!

Some of my favorite variations are:

  • Pears + ricotta cheese + cinnamon (also try drizzling just a little honey!)
  • Apple + almond butter
  • Tomatoes + mozzarella cheese + balsamic vinegar
  • Carrots + hummus
  • Wheat thins + avocado/guacamole

Sorry I don’t have pics right now! I’ll try to take some pics in the future and put them up on social media.

Thanks everyone! Hope you have an amazing weekend 🙂

To Fix or Not to Fix?

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So a while ago, I announced that I was going to be trying out the 21 Day Fix Diet and Workout Plan. Well I did, and I have to admit… I failed.  I ended up sticking to the exact diet only a few days per week.  I was barely home during those 3 weeks, plus I have a new puppy 🙂 She came to us MDW, and I’ve noticed a serious decrease in my spare time! Between house training, watching her like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t eat everything in sight, going to the dog trainer, the vet for all her check ups, and then a broken paw (sad face!), my time for meal prep was very low, and my ability to grocery shop between weekends away had disappeared. I also felt grumpy and fatigued on some of the days I stuck to the diet, preventing me from wanting to stick to it for the whole 3 weeks, which I will get more into later.  As busy as I was, I was still able to find time to exercise 30 mins per day, woohoo! Since this was my main reason for wanting to do the 21 Day Fix, I consider the experiment a success. What this means now though is that I never ever have any excuse to not work out. If I can make it happen during those 3 weeks, I can make it happen (almost) always! While I failed at the diet, and was even slacking on my usual healthy eating patterns, this plan did help me to make exercise become a habit again. Throughout my life, my exercise habits have ranged from 5 or 6 days per week to only 1 or 2 days per week or none at all, depending on what’s going on in my life. I feel my best when I’m exercising at least 4, preferably 5 or 6 days per week on a regular basis, but after a lull, it is always hard to get back into it. This winter was a major lull! Post-wedding, my mind and body decided to go into hibernation- I spent all last year exercising and eating healthy above and beyond my norm, trying to get my business off the ground, and planning my wedding. So when the wedding was over, I needed to crash! And I did. Hard! It felt great, but it was definitely time (albeit, it was time several weeks prior to the Fix) to get my motivation back, and I was struggling. Enter Autumn Calabrese.

IMG_0784The Work Outs: These were amazing for me. Just the right mix of light, moderate, and intense exercise, and in only 30 minutes per day. I enjoyed just about every workout (once my body caught up to itself and I got some stamina back). Each week is as follows:

  1. Total Body Cardio Fix
  2. Upper Fix
  3. Lower Fix
  4. Pilates
  5. Cardio Fix
  6. Dirty 30
  7. Yoga Fix

Total Body Cardio and Dirty 30 were my 2 favorites. Total body cardio incorporates strength and cardio intervals which is great for becoming lean and toned! Dirty 30 was mostly strength, but trust me you definitely get a little sweaty! Cardio Fix is not as fun. Let’s just say, I hate burpees. Since I often do power yoga in a studio, I found Yoga Fix to be a little too simple for me, so that was probably my least favorite.  It was, however, a great active rest day. Pilates Fix is supposed to be another active rest day, and maybe some people find that it is, but I was definitely sore afterward!

IMG_1579The Diet: First, you have to figure out your caloric need.

  1. Weight in Pounds x 11 = Baseline calorie need
  2. Baseline + 400 for the workouts = Maintenance calorie need
  3. Calorie Need – 750 = Calorie need for weight loss

For those of you who don’t know me, I am barely 5 feet tall, which means my overall calorie need is always lower than the average person, regardless of my current weight. My calculation equaled 1150 calories for weight loss. This puts me in the lowest calorie range of 1200-1499cals (The plan smartly warns against eating less than 1200 cals), which means I get 3 green containers, 2 purples, 4 reds, 2 yellows, 1 blue, 1 orange, and 2 spoons. Nutritionally, this seems fairly well balanced between proteins, fruits and veggies, starches, and healthy fats. However, I personally felt grumpy and starving when following this on the intense workout days, which means my blood sugar was likely too low.  I sometimes have issues with low blood sugar (think ‘hangry’ plus lightheaded and extreme fatigue). Knowing that intense exercise lowers blood sugar significantly, I feel the combination of intense workouts, low carbs, and my tendency to get hangry played a part in my inability to stick to the plan.  This may not be true for everyone, though. I know many people who feel good on it, and if you fall into one of the other calorie ranges which allow more carbs and/or don’t have low blood sugar issues, you would probably do very well on this.  Bottom line- as long as you can sustain this long term and carry it over into maintenance-mode for the long haul, this diet would be healthy and effective for you.

The Drawbacks: I would have categorized the foods slightly different. When I am trying to lose a few pounds, and even on a regular basis while I am maintaining, I do only eat 2 small portions, or 1 normal portion, of whole grains or potatoes/sweet potatoes per day, which is what the 21 Day Fix wanted me to do. However, I don’t count my beans in there, especially if my workouts are intense. Even though they are starchy, I count them as my protein in some meals, and including my beans, I am getting 3 small servings of starch per day, which is why I felt that the carbs were too low for me.  I would have moved the beans to the red container category, and would have felt much better on this diet, or I would have allowed 3 yellows instead of 2. Another option could have been to allow a 3rd yellow container on the more intense exercise days, and keep it at 2 containers on the active recovery days.  The second thing is that I would not count unsweetened almond milk as a yellow replacement. There isn’t enough total carbohydrate in it to count.  My last drawback is the fact that you HAVE to stick with it EVERYDAY for 21 days straight. For me, that was just not realistic. There was way too much going on. I had weekend trips, parties, etc making the weekends busy and the weekdays harder. There are people who will say that this is just an excuse, but guess what- that’s LIFE! To me, giving up those things is not worth “being skinny and fit”. My social life, sanity, and relationships are more important to me, and that’s ok. If you were to treat this as a long term plan instead of a quick “21 Day fix”, you could allow for a couple days per week to stray a little, simply monitoring your portions while out, and continuing your workouts, or even skipping 1 day here and there. You would lose weight a little more slowly, but you’d be more likely to stick to it long term, and trust me, you’d be just as healthy AND you’d be happier. I have friends and clients who follow the plan this way and do very well.

The Wins: As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I feel that this diet and workout plan is well balanced enough to consider a very healthy way to effectively lose weight.  I also love that they provide very easy recipes for each container, and the food lists are helpful in general, especially for those who don’t have a nutrition background. It was great for me because I was able to add variety to my diet once I was reminded of the foods I don’t normally think about. The final win goes to the workouts. Even though I felt my carbs were too low to support the exercise, on the days I did eat enough, I loved these workouts and felt amazing doing them! They were quick and efficient, and the plan mixed up the intense workouts with moderate and low ones so that you can be active every day, while still allowing your body to rest. I have other workouts that I also enjoy, so I don’t plan on following the calendar on an on-going basis, but I will certainly be using these workouts to mix into my weekly routine.

IMG_0981Favorite Takeaways: My sauteed veggies!! I have never been much of a salad person, and I have always preferred hot lunches. I’ve tried to eat salads for lunch daily, and will last several weeks, even months occasionally, but then I always fall off because I get bored or sick of them- especially in the winter. I don’t know why I never thought to cook my vegetables for lunch! Since the 21 Day Fix, I have been buying already washed and chopped fresh veggies from the grocery store- did you know they chop the produce for you??- and combining them with olive oil in a large, deep skillet on medium high heat with some seasoning (I actually prefer just cracked black pepper, but the 21 Day Fix offers healthy mixed seasonings recipes which are delicious as well). I make enough for the whole week, throw in some beans and/or crisped tofu or shrimp and heat it up while at work. I even add a tablespoon of salsa (I’m loving the fresh pineapple mango salsa that both Wegmans and Whole Foods prepare). My favorite veggie combo is yellow and red peppers, sweet onion, zucchini, string beans, and mushrooms. I also used asparagus instead of the zucchini once, and this week I added cherry tomatoes. My other favorite takeaway from this experiment is realizing how much better I feel when I am exercising daily, and how easy it can be when I set my mind to to do just 30 minutes per day. I have resolved to get any kind of exercise, whether it’s a 21 day fix workout, a studio workout, a quick yoga session, a run, or even just a leisurely walk, for at least 20-30 mins every day. Totally doable, right? Well, I have missed some days depending on the week, but overall, definitely doable!

Hope this sheds some light on the 21 Day Fix, so that you can make a decision as to whether or not it’s right for you. The big picture should always be your goal- think long term and you’ll succeed 🙂  Comment below with questions. 

I know I haven’t been blogging much, but I’m working on changing that! Keep checking for more! Future posts include meal subscription reviews, meal planning service reviews, and product spotlights.