To log or not to log your food? That is the highly debated question. Here is why I have all my clients log their food and why this equals success.
Keeping track of everything you eat may seem daunting and time consuming, however it is quite simple and quick. There are so many food tracking apps out there today,that keeping track of your macronutrients is too easy. The labels on packaged foods can be scanned. Recipes can be quickly and easily imported. Many restaurants offer nutrition information and most of the time it’s already in the app. When all else fails, find a similar food and enter it. It is really that easy.
Now that we have established it’s pretty easy, why is it so beneficial? Probably the biggest reasons why we fail on our diets are self-regulation and rationalization. Many of us have an issue self-regulating our diets. It’s no wonder why either. If we don’t have black and white numbers staring us in the face telling us exactly what we have eaten and how much more we can eat it is very easy to lose track of what we’ve eaten. Also, we need guidelines.In order to regulate our diet there must be known parameters to stay within. When we track our food it tells us exactly what we have eaten and how much more we can ingest while staying within our diet parameters. Then we have to also overcome our innate ability to rationalize even our worst decisions away. When those exact numbers are not telling us exactly how much we’ve eaten it’s easy to think what we’ve eaten didn’t have as many calories or carbs or fat as we thought it did. Maybe we thought there was more fiber in our morning muffin or more protein in our smoothie than was actually there. Logging our food helps diminish these obstacles. We know exactly what we have eaten and exactly what is needed to reach our goals each day. This means there’s no guessing if we may or may not have reached (or surpassed) our dietary goals each day. There’s no rationalizing away a bad food decision.
But why can’t I just eat every few hours and just watch my portion sizes? Many people say oh I just need to watch my portion size. My reply is if it were that easy then why are you not at your goal already? This method may work for a time. However, our metabolism is not static.It changes over time. If you are not tracking your food then how do you know exactly what your body needs to lose weight? How do you know what changes need to be made to continue losing weight once you’ve plateaued? How do you know how much to increase your food intake to build your metabolism so that it gets faster not slower? The answer is you don’t know. Think of it like a bank account. Would it be helpful to say I need more money to pay bills,but I have no idea what bills are or how much money I’m currently making? No, it would not. You would be advised to sit down and calculate exactly what your income is and how much your bills are. No one would say well just work a little more and see if that covers it and if it doesn’t maybe just spend less everyday. That’s such vague and really unhelpful advice. However, we seem to accept that same advice when it comes to nourishing our bodies and reaching fitness goals.
Logging our food sets us up for success. It allows us to be able to choose which foods we want to eat and still reach our goals. It helps us self-regulate and not rationalize away poor decisions that take us further from our goals. Fortunately, technology these days has also made tracking our food incredibly easy. So I think the real question is, “Why wouldn’t you be logging your food?”.
You are probably expecting to read about not eating overly processed, sugary food here. However, Individual foods don’t change your entire body. There have been several studies showing diets containing excess sugar intake negatively affect energy levels and body fat. From this many “experts” have tried to push the message that eating sugar is then bad for you and will cause you to gain weight and feel lethargic. It’s time to set the record straight. Eating excess sugar will cause body fat gain and could affect energy levels. Eating sugar while staying within your macronutrient guidelines will cause you to meet your fitness goals. What? Yes, you read that correctly. Sugar is not the enemy.
Great, so I can eat all my carbohydrates in the form of sugar? No. Fiber comes from your carbohydrate intake and you must reach your fiber goal each day. Why? Among many other benefits fiber helps maintain blood sugar levels.1 Excess sugar in the blood is very unhealthy. No question there. However, if you are hitting your fiber goals each day and within your macronutrient goals then your sugar intake will not be an issue. So how much fiber and sugar can you eat? The recommended amount of fiber is 25 grams per day.1 I suggest to consume somewhere between 30 and 40 grams per day. Consuming too much fiber can also have some not so nice effects on the stomach and digestion (constipation) so staying within that range should prevent any negative side effects while reaping all the positive benefits of fiber.
As a last remark on foods that negatively affect one’s body, there is no one food that will do that. A diet that consists entirely of processed, non-whole foods is not healthy. However, if you have set up a macronutrient outline to follow you will find that to reach your goals you must eat wholesome foods. Not restricting foods from your diet does not mean you can eat a bunch of crap and still gain the results you desire. It means you can mix and match so that cravings, schedules, and general demands of life are not an issue. It gives you the ability to create a healthy eating pattern that will work for years and years to come.
1 Nutrition and healthy eating. (2012, November 17). Retrieved March 12, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
Social media has been littered with people posting about not eating chemicals. This might the single dumbest movement I have seen so far. It is even worse than saying people shouldn’t eat sugar. If sugar can’t be avoided then you better believe chemicals can’t be avoided. Why? Everything is a chemical! That is right, everything from every piece of food we ingest to our actual bodies are made up of chemicals.
What is a chemical?
...Everything is a chemical. A better question might be, “What is chemistry?” Chemistry is the study of matter and it’s interactions with other matter. Therefore anything made of matter is a chemical.1
Some people then go into further rationalization of their ignorant statements. Trying to justify their statements by saying,” Well, I really meant man made chemicals are bad.” This is nonsense. Some of the most dangerous chemicals in the world are not made by man. Example: An all natural plant, Castor Oil Plant, is one of the deadliest plants in the world. Read this little excerpt from iO9:
“The seeds harbor an incredibly toxic chemical called ricin, and a lethal dose is considered to be in the range of 4 to 8 seeds. Ingestion of the seeds can lead to burning sensations in the mouth and throat, intense abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea within 36 hours, and can lead to death within 3-5 days if left untreated.”2
That’s pretty intense and no man made that plant. It’s time to stop with the incredibly overly generalized, fear mongering statements. Some chemicals are not good for you. Some people are not good for you. Some decisions are not good for you. Does that mean we just avoid every chemical, person, and making a decision because some may not be good for you? No, that’s ludacris. If you attempted that, as long as you were alive, you’d fail. Be smart about your decisions.
Instead of obsessing over nonsense, just make sound decisions. If we consistently eat whole, natural, healthy food and mix in there some processed food it is not going to cause “toxic” effects on our body. Our bodies are amazing machines that do a great job of keeping us healthy. They do a fantastic job of getting rid of substances we don’t need and effectively using ones we do. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.
1 Helmenstine, A. (2014, December 5). What Is a Chemical? Retrieved March 4, 2015, from http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryfaqs/f/whatchemical.htm
2 Gonzalez, R. (2011, September 9). 10 of the World's Deadliest Plants - And How They Kill You. Retrieved March 4, 2015, from http://io9.com/5841540/10-of-the-worlds-deadliest-plants----and-how-they-kill-you
“ If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”
This is something I always tell myself during the hard times. Whether it be a hard workout that I have to use my all energy to push through or a challenge in life. Think about those times in life when you were at your fittest or when you realized how much you had grown up and changed. Were the times before that easy and carefree? The answer is probably not. I’m not insinuating everything needs to be hard in order to be worth achieving. However, those moments when you feel like you’re just treading water and trying to stay afloat are the moments that count the most. The reps in your workout when your body wants to quit, have the biggest payoff if you’ll just push through. Making good, sound decisions will set us up for success. However, when push comes to shove it is important to remember that once you have conquered this obstacle you are that much closer to your goal.
“ Wow, I really regret that workout” - Said No One Ever
We all have those conversations with ourselves. We don’t want to workout. Maybe our shin hurts and we think oh we shouldn’t run. Maybe we’re running short on time and we think there are more important priorities to finish. However, just remember whether the excuse is valid or not, the result is the same. If we skip workouts and eat too much our bodies will respond whether or not the reason for doing so was valid. Have you ever chose to go workout and then thought, “I wish I hadn’t done that?” Most likely, that has not happened. Sometimes we just have to buckle down and get it done. Not every workout will be our best but we’ll never regret it.
“What you eat in private, you wear in public.”
Oh yeah, that’s right. Sitting there in our houses eating just one more spoonful of peanut butter than we logged in our food diary. Then we mix it with honey, put it on bread, and repeat 5 times. Oh wait, is that just me? Just because no one sees us overeat doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect our bodies. Worrying about other’s opinions is a waste of time. Being truthful to ourselves is one of the best ways to achieve any goal in life.
Download my 4 tips to beating cravings and stop self-sabotaging, just because no one can see you sneaking that extra cookie (or three).
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1- “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
First - This assumes we all want to be “skinny.” I personally want to be in shape and enjoy the curves I have. Secondly- You can most likely fit any tasty food into your diet in some amount. This quote is ridiculous. You are able to eat food you enjoy and be in shape.
2- “Eat Clean. Train Dirty.”
What does this even mean? Eat Clean. The ongoing what is clean food question presents itself here. By classifying foods as good and bad we limit ourselves from many foods which we then crave because we think we can’t have them. So, that sets us up for failure. Then the “Train Dirty” part. I guess because most people typically sweat and if you are working out in a gym, those places are pretty much filled with germs so I guess that qualifies as dirty. However, this quote is just dumb. You should eat to meet your macros and satisfy your body, while properly training to meet your goals.
3- “Sweat is fat crying.”
Photo from: https://www.pinterest.com/klaytonsmom/get-it-girl/
It is not. The end. Sweat is not fat. Sweat is not toxins. Sweat is typically a water heavy mix that keeps you cool. The important takeaway here is: Some people sweat more than others which is why the amount a person sweats should not be a measure of how hard they are working. Workout with intensity and be real with yourself as to how hard you are pushing yourself.
I understand these quotes are not meant to be taken literally, but still they are just dumb and misleading. These are not the quotes we should be focusing on for motivation. Next week I’ll be posting my 3 favorite quotes.
5 Layer Dip is sssooo good but it can be a little bit of a stretch to make fit into our macros. Until Now:
1 can Fat Free Refried Beans
5.3oz Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
1c Shredded Cheese Mexican Blend
1 container (8 oz) Sabra Guacamole
Start by spreading the beans on the bottom of your pan. I used a 13x6 tupperware dish but you can use what you have.
2nd Layer: Guacamole
3rd Layer: Greek Yogurt
4th Layer: Salsa
5th Layer: CHEESE
SERVE AND ENJOY!
Don’t freak out. This is not a post telling you to never stray from your healthy/perfect diet. That is not what The Optimal State is about. I don’t like the idea of cheat meals because it sets us up for failure. Let’s say we go by the old standard, scheduled cheat meals. Saturday night rolls around and you scheduled this cheat meal in the calendar. You’ve eaten amazing all week and you earned a splurge. Well, what if come Saturday night you end up not even really wanting that splurge. Maybe you go out to eat and are just craving something that ends up actually fitting into your meal plan…. Ok so now we move the cheat meal? Or do we end up pigging out on ice cream later because hey, we haven’t used our cheat meal yet?
Another scenario, we schedule our cheat meal for Saturday. Saturday comes and we eat that ice cream. We eat ALL that ice cream. Hey it’s okay, this was scheduled. Wait, I now have a celebratory, last minute brunch with the girls tomorrow on Sunday morning. Two things: 1- I now feel bloated because I just gorged myself on ice cream and that cute outfit that I was going to wear just won’t work. 2- I have to be very selective at this celebratory brunch because I just ate way too much ice cream.
Scheduling cheat meals sets up for failure by confining us to one meal at a certain interval that we can only splurge at that time. That’s not how life works. Sometimes we may go overboard and not meet our macros for the day, but those days shouldn’t be scheduled or because, oh well, you know, it’s Saturday and that is my cheat meal day. In addition they also set us up for failure by creating scarcity in our mind. We think we cannot have any of these foods we desire until that one time period we set aside. Typically the result is that we crave these foods then constantly. The foods aren’t actually scarce but in our mind they are because they are “off limits.”
Now let’s take this a step further. What if instead of scheduling our little bi-weekly/monthly (or whatever time period) splurges we just told ourselves to eat within the limits of our macronutrient needs. So say it’s a Tuesday and I’m craving pizza. Well, I know I can fit one or two slices of pepperoni (my personal favorite) into my diet while still meeting my goals for the day. So while it may appear as though I have had a “cheat meal;” I in fact have not. This strategy of making our food choices work into our diet without limiting the “bad” foods completely makes it so much easier to not only stick to our diet and meet our fitness goals, but also helps ensure we minimize metabolic damage in the process.
Quick note: Many times people will plan their diets so that some days of the week they create a calorie deficit via their diet. So they eat less calories then they burn. Then they schedule certain days where they eat the same amount of calories as they burn. However, these are not cheat meals. Let’s get that straight. This strategy is good for maintaining a strong metabolism while still meeting weight/fat loss goals.
Now you may be saying, “Tara, but there will still be days when the food I’m craving just doesn’t fit into my diet.” Understood. No problem. If you are consistently eating within your dietary guidelines and meeting your macronutrient requirements everyday then when these little splurges come up it will not be a big deal. Maybe it’s a wedding, party, vacation, or just a Saturday. Whatever the reason may be, we all go outside our dietary parameters every now and then. Enjoying life and not stressing over these instances is what helps us exist in our Optimal State of moving forward and reaching our goals without obsessing.
Cheat meals only hinder our progress. They schedule in unnecessary gluttony. They create scarcity in our mind because we think we can not have any of these “bad” foods until that one moment we planned on having. Most of the time whatever you are craving can fit into your diet in some amount. For those special times when it comes time to put the calorie counter down and just enjoy the moment and the food of the moment, the effect will not hinder your progress. Enjoy your splurge then pick up right where you left off and ensure you are self-regulating on a regular basis.
Now let’s take this a step further. What if instead of scheduling our little bi-weekly/monthly (or whatever time period) splurges we just told ourselves to eat within the limits of our macronutrient needs. So say it’s a Tuesday and I’m craving pizza. Well, I know I can fit one or two slices of pepperoni (my personal favorite) into my diet while still meeting my goals for the day. So while it may appear as though I have had a “cheat meal;” I in fact have not. This strategy of making our food choices work into our diet without limiting the “bad” foods completely makes it so much easier to not onlystick to our diet and meet our fitness goals, but also helps ensure we minimize metabolic damage in the process.
Hazelnuts are packed full of nutrients that are good for you. This is a list of the top 5:
Ingesting healthy fats can lower your risk of cardiovasular disease
according to the USDA
Decreased risk of neural tube birth defects
Reduce cardiovasular disease
Reduce risk of depression
Reduce risk of blood clotting and UTIs
Helps you feel full faster
Manganese and Copper:
Copper aids in iron absorption
Manganese aids in bone formation
All these health benefits are packed into just one ounce of hazelnuts!
Macros (for one ounce):
All nutrition information from USDA.
I was so proud of these pictures. I posted them everywhere and thought, "This is it. I'm finally fit." I couldn't have been more wrong. The high was very short lived and what it took to get in this shape for my 30 minutes on stage was ridiculous. But don't worry, there's light at the end of this story.
In November of 2011 I competed in my first and only bikini competition. I was so proud of myself. I had dieted so hard to get where I was with my physique. I would post pictures of me being at the office with chicken and broccoli next to the pizza brought in by pharmacy reps (I worked at doctors’ office in college). I would work out twice a day for at least an hour each time. I worked out, went to school, did homework, worked out, and went to bed. That was my life, with scheduled feedings of course. I carried around a cooler and didn't care how my food tasted. I just ate it. You know what I got from this? I got a killer body. I also got a dead metabolism and no social life.
Post competition I gained twenty pounds in a month’s time. I was depressed and disappointed in myself. I went through two different, well known physique coaches to help get me back on track. Both attempts failed. I had gotten back in shape but not in competition shape. I had a hard time sticking to my very strict diet and getting in all my workouts. Every time I failed to stick the diet or missed a workout I would beat myself up. I knew there had to be a better way, but I just wasn't sure what it was. Now I studied health and exercise science in college; however, because I was so busy listening to all these fitness models and “experts” I let my good judgement go to waste.
Finally, one year I decided to stop this craziness. I decided to trust my knowledge and listen to my body. I started tracking my food intake via a fitness app on my phone. I worked when I could fit in and didn't stress if I couldn't do it. I slowly increased the amount of food I could eat and started to enjoy working out again. At some points during the year I would workout 6 days a week and at other times I would workout only 3 days. I even took off a couple weeks here and there. What happened at the end of the year? I felt so good about myself. I loved how my body looked. I was in the best shape of my life, enjoying my social life, eating food I enjoyed, and most importantly I was happy.
I WANT THIS FOR YOU! This is the whole reason behind TOS. I want to empower you to discover how your body works and know you have control over it. It is possible to enjoy a night out with the girls, eat chocolate, and not workout 6 days a week and be in great shape. Most importantly, I want you to love your body! It is so important to enjoy life and be there for your family and friends. Being in shape should fit seamlessly into this, not take over every aspect of your existence.
You can eat a variety of food without having to stick to a set meal plan that you will eventually break anyways because no one is going to eat the same thing for the rest of their life. Discovering how to eat within given macronutrient guidelines builds autonomy. This enables you to not only reach your fitness goals but maintain your best body ever for years to come. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t go for the quick “12 week” fix. Build the foundation to be happy, healthy, and fit for the rest of your life.