Category Archives: Meal Planning

Carb cycling-What it is and how it works!

What is carb cycling?

Simply put, carb cycling is a planned alteration of carbohydrate intake in order to prevent a fat loss plateau and maintain metabolism along with workout performance.

Carb cycling is considered an aggressive and high level nutrition strategy. Only people (such as physique athletes) whose nutritional adherence is extremely high, and who require a more meticulous nutritional approach, should use it. I have tried it with clients who are not competing but have hit a plateau in their weight loss and it works very well! But do not attempt this if you haven’t been eating clean consistently for at least 3 months…

Carb cycling is designed for short-term use. It is not a long-term solution for body fat management. In fact, if used for too long it may be detrimental to your fat loss.

Planned manipulation and variation

If eaters plan a higher carbohydrate intake at regular intervals, their bodies won’t ever get too close to starvation mode.

However, they can still lose fat if they still take in fewer total calories than they expend — i.e., if the overall long term trend is towards negative energy balance.

Higher carbohydrate intake days can increase thyroid output and control hunger

Manipulating carbohydrate intake can also help one take advantage of certain anabolic hormones, primarily insulin.

Insulin regulates amino acid and glucose intake entry into the muscle cells. If insulin is seldom elevated, dieters will not reap its anabolic (promoting tissue growth) benefits.

Conversely, if people plan to elevate insulin levels at the appropriate time with a scheduled higher carbohydrate intake, they can maximize insulin’s potential anabolic effects.

What you should know

There are different methods of carb cycling. However, the common theme behind them is that protein and fat intake stay relatively constant while carbohydrate intake is manipulated.

Carb cycling also typically involves calorie cycling. Since carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, adjusting carbohydrate intake while keeping fat and protein more or less the same can greatly alter calorie intake.

Days where carbohydrates (and usually calories) are increased are often known as “re-feed” (a.k.a. my favourite)days.

Dr. Berardi (Precision Nutrition) gives a nice definition of re-feed as a planned increase in calorie intake that lasts 8 – 12 hours and usually consists of a large increase in carbohydrates.

Re-feeds usually occur when dieting and are scheduled in order to provide a brief day of psychological relief as well as a number of physiological benefits…

An example of a re-feed is following a strict diet of 1500kcal 5 days per week and consuming 2500kcal of clean bodybuilding foods (the additional kcal coming mostly from carbohydrates) on the other 2 days.

Since carbohydrate intake will be increased on the re-feed days, it is important to scale back the fat and protein intake slightly. Carbohydrates have a protein sparing effect so less dietary protein is required. This will allow for one’s calorie count to remain in check.

The same principles of good nutrition apply equally to “everyday” eating and carb cycling phases, including proper meal frequency, omega-3 fat intake, adequate protein and fiber intake, plenty of vegetables, etc.

Here are some common carb cycling approaches.

Infrequent big refeeds

Higher carbohydrate intake every 1-2 weeks during a lower carbohydrate intake phase.

Frequent to moderate refeeds

Higher carbohydrate intake every 3-4 days during a lower carbohydrate intake phase.

Strategic Carb Cycling

This consists of structuring different menus with moderate carbohydrate intake at strategic intervals during a lower carb intake phase. This approach steers away from an extremely high carbohydrate intake because the menu changes regularly. But it does allow for metabolism to play catch-up with dietary intake.

Carb Cycling for Muscle Gain

Those interested in gaining muscle mass need a calorie surplus. Unfortunately, if they grossly over-consume calories for too long they’ll probably gain bodyfat. Thus, one way to optimize muscle gain over fat gain during a muscle gaining phase is with carb cycling.

This is similar to the “strategic carb cycling” approach. Menus are planned according to your weekly schedule in order to create a temporary calorie surplus. This can assist with lean mass and strength gains.

Here is the current carb cycle I am following for the next month…

Day 1: High, Day 2: Low, Day 3: Low, Day 4: High, Day 5: Low, Day 6: High, Day 7: Low

Important Tips for the Carb Cycling Approach…

  • Base the dietary approach on basal calorie needs and activity levels.
  • Always pick out the re-feed days in advance.
  • Stay on course until the re-feed day arrives.
  • Keep your decisions outcome-based. Different re-feed strategies work better for certain body types. Look at the evidence from your photographs and body composition tests to ensure that you are on the right track.
  • Try to exercise on the re-feed days for optimal body composition results.
  • On the re-feed days, the body still tolerates carbohydrates best first thing in the morning and around times when physical activity is high.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, see your abs, or get back in shape, carb and calorie cycling can make a real difference.

So to put this all in a nut shell….

Before you attempt carb cycling and other fine tuning strategies: Removing deficiencies, controlling calorie intake, and beginning eating for your body type – and doing this all consistently – must come first. If you haven’t done those first, this strategy usually backfires.

While it may have a fancy name, carb cycling is simply eating more carbohydrates on some days – usually on high volume or high intensity days – and eating fewer carbohydrates on other days – usually low volume, low intensity, or off days.

The focus is on carbohydrates (and not protein or fats) because carbs seem to influence body composition, how you look, and how you feel the most.

By changing carbohydrate and therefore calorie intake on particular days, we can keep fat loss going and metabolic rate increasing, without the harsh effects of stringent calorie or carb restriction.

The carb and calorie cycling approach is pretty simple, and based on your activity.

  • On the days you’re not lifting weights – or days you’re just doing low intensity or short duration exercise – eat a baseline diet of mostly protein, vegetables and healthy fats with minimal carbs.
  • On the days you are lifting weights – or you’re doing longer duration high intensity exercise – add starchy carbs to your baseline diet.

And that’s pretty much it. No need to measure grams or count calories. Just follow a baseline diet on lower carb days. And add carbs on higher carb days.

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Why is weight loss so hard?! Part 1

Do you think it’s easy to lose weight? If you listen to the weight loss industry, read magazines/books/articles, shop in health food or supplement stores, you have read about or been told how easy it is–just take this pill, follow that diet or buy this piece of equipment and the fat will just disappear. In fact, we spend over billions each year on weight loss products and services and yet we’re still overweight. So with that being said, is weight loss really that simple?

The idea behind weight loss is simple–burn more calories than you eat. This can be accomplished by replacing a couple of sodas with water and adding 20 minutes of walking each day. Sounds simple…and it is. If it’s that simple, why can’t we seem to do it?

There are a number of factors that contribute to our weight gain that you already know. But it’s not just about finding time to exercise or choosing the salad over the burger–it’s about genuine commitment to make healthy decisions every day….REGARDLESS of what’s happening in your life. If you’re not ready to make some changes, losing weight will be hard. I have come up with 10 things you’ll need to look at in order to get yourself in the right mind set and on the right track to weight loss!

1. Your Attitude. If you’re only on a health kick to lose weight or look a certain way, it will be hard to lose weight permanently. Why? Because, what happens if you don’t see results quickly enough? You give up. Weight loss is a great goal, but unless you have something else to motivate you, what’s to keep you going if the scale doesn’t budge? It takes time to lose weight–how will you motivate yourself in the meantime? Find more reasons to be healthy–having more energy, dealing with health problems or wanting to live longer to be around for your kids. Those are some awesome reasons, if you ask me. We will all have moments of weakness, when we fall off the wagon, miss a few workouts, etc, but we must pull ourselves back up and start over again! It doesn’t always have to be an all or nothing approach! Tomorrow is a new day! Oh and I totally love this quote….

2. Your Workouts. If you don’t workout consistently enough, it’s hard to lose weight. Yes, it’s possible to lose weight through diet alone, but you’ll likely hit a plateau. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym, you only need to set up a reasonable workout schedule that you can follow each week. It’s not about killing yourself with workouts–it’s about finding something you like and that you’ll continue with for the rest of your life. You have to be willing to be more active on a regular basis–not just for a week here and there. Having a personal trainer or a workout buddy is a great way to hold yourself accountable!

3. Your Eating. I can’t emphasize this enough! Weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20 % exercise! TRUST ME! I used to be the person who was convinced that I could eat whatever I want as long as I workout hard everyday.  THAT DIDN’T WORK!  I get best results when I really pay attention to what I am eating and avoid any foods that will not help me reach my weight loss goals. This woman and her book totally changed my thoughts about healthy eating and the importance of nutrition…if you aren’t familiar with Tosca Reno (the Eat Clean Diet Queen) I highly recommend you check out her selection of awesome cook books 🙂 She is Canadian!

Changing the way you eat is another thing you’re going to have to do for long-lasting weight loss. You need to be willing to replace unhealthy foods with healthier choices–every single day. This might mean:

  • Keeping a food journal
  • Spending more time in the grocery store reading food labels
  • Spending more time preparing meals
  • Saying no to extra portions
  • Making conscious choices about what you put in your mouth.

For permanent weight loss, you need to pay attention to what you eat and make good choices more often than not. Maybe a structured diet eventually ends, but healthy eating never stops…there will never be a time when you’re done eating healthy. You might feel you’re sacrificing the good stuff (pizza, fast food, etc.) and your life won’t be fun if you can’t have those foods. Guess what? You can still have them…just not whenever you want. Are you ready to make these changes? Are you ready to stop giving your body the most convenient thing available (and often the most fatty) and, instead, spend time planning what and when you’ll eat? Because that’s what it takes to get healthy…permanently.

4. Your Lifestyle. If you want a healthy life, you have to be willing to change how you live. It most definitely doesn’t mean changing everything overnight, but simply being open to new ways of doing things. Some things you might need to change for a healthy life are:

  • Daily Routines. You may need to get up earlier to prepare your lunch or squeeze in a workout, use your lunch hour for exercise or go for a walk after work instead of watching TV. Are you willing to do this?
  • Limits. You might need to set new rules for yourself limiting how much TV you watch or how long you sit at the computer. You’ll need to pay attention to how you spend your time and where you’re out of balance so you can add more movement.
  • Your Pantry. I’m the kind of person who will eat an entire bag of Doritos or cookies if they’re in the house (I’m dead serious!) That means I don’t keep them in the house and if someone brings them home, they must hide them. If you want to be healthy, you may need to get rid of those foods you just can’t resist.
  • Your Schedule. If you’re not willing to sit down and change the way you live each day to include exercise, time to prepare meals and time to nurture yourself with sleep, it’s hard to lose weight!!!   People use busy schedules as an excuse not to be healthy…are you one of them? If you’re not ready to take responsibility for the schedule you’ve created, it will be hard to lose weight. I hear this excuse A LOT and I could use it as well but I choose not to! The results are worth the extra effort 🙂

5. Your Surroundings. Sometimes, you can’t control the things around you. At work, you may be surrounded by temptations–donuts, vending machines, invitations to eat out for lunch, etc. That’s just one thing you have to deal with…but what about your home? Surround yourself with things that will support you in your efforts to get healthy. That might mean spending your hard earned money on a personal trainer, setting up a corner of the house with workout equipment or instead of watching mindless TV a few nights a week choose to do an exercise video. Set up an environment that encourages those healthy choices and reminds you of them!! Always having a fridge and pantry full of healthy groceries is a guaranteed way to make sure you are making healthy food choices everyday!!

Check back later in the week for Part 2 where I will be completing this list with 5 more ways to make your journey to a healthier lifestyle a little less overwhelming…

What changes are you going to make today to make sure you are set up for success?? Are you as dedicated to your goal as you think you are?? If you really want something, stop dreaming, set a goal and start DOING IT!

Les 🙂

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What should I eat before my workout?

Desire and drive (and an awesome personal trainer) will get you far in the gym, but nutrition is the key to training success. While we pay a lot of attention to the post workout meal, (for me right now it’s a 1.5 scoops protein shake mixed with water and 10g of glutamine) what you put into your body an hour before you hit the gym is just as critical. Research shows that having the right amount and types of protein and carbs before your workouts will not only help you go longer and be stronger but will help you recover and prepare for your next session as well. Whether you’re just hitting the weights, heading out for a run or both, today I am going to give you some snacks to help fuel your workout right. Remember to aim for 1-1.5 g of protein per lb of body weight and not just before your workouts, this is how much protein you should be eating everyday! Yep, I know, it’s a lot of protein but trust me you need it in order to build muscle, increase your recovery and boost your metabolism.

Pre Workout Meal Ideas….

2-4 large scrambled egg whites (1/4-1/2 cup) with 1 cup cooked oatmeal

1 scoop of whey protein powder mixed with water with 1 banana

2 hard boiled eggs with 1 slice of P28 bread of Ezekiel bread

1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt/1% cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of sliced fruit

1-2 tbsp. of all natural peanut butter with 1-2 rice cakes (plain or butter popcorn) or slice of Ezekiel or P28 bread

3-4 oz of chopped chicken breast with 3-4 oz of sweet potato

(Keep in mind that these portions may be different for you depending on your body type and the amount you exercise per day!)

Any other meals or snacks that you enjoy before a workout?

Please share your ideas below!

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I recently had a friend share with me a great idea for my blog. She suggested I should start a weekly or monthly “Ask Leslie” post or section on my blog or Facebook page….what are your thoughts on this?? Do you have any questions that you are dying to have answered by me?? I’d love to hear from you so please, post your comments/ideas/feedback below 🙂

Thanks again to everyone who has been consistently following my blog!  I am getting some great feedback and am doing my best to keep posting at least once per week! Competition prep is really time consuming (and I am loving every minute of it!) but in less than 9 weeks I will have much more free time to keep the blog posts coming!

Les 🙂

My Top 5 Favourite Food Myths You Need to Stop Believing!

There are so many mixed messages in the media related to diet and exercise, what works, what doesn’t work, try this for best results, or eat this, not this, etc.  It can get confusing even for someone who is a professional (like myself) in the field!  I don’t want to overwhelm you with TOO much information today so I thought I would stick with 5 of my most favourite (and most common) food myths….

1. Low-fat foods are good for you. ARGH, this is the one I hear about the most but disagree with the most!  About 20 years ago, low-fat foods took over the grocery stores.  Low fat equalled weight loss.  But no one looked at the fact that weight didn’t rely on fat alone.  Excess calories and sugar could still be present in excess when fat was reduced to make up for the taste.  In desserts that are low fat, there is usually is an increase in sugar, which equals more calories.  The type of fat matters as well.  Healthy fats such as olive, coconut and grape seed oil are mono and unsaturated, which are the healthiest. Low-fat foods often contain saturated or hydrogenated fats found in fried foods, baked goods, cookies, icings, crackers, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn, and some stick margarines. This makes the food taste better and prolongs shelf life, but making it a part of your diet plan can increase your risk of heart disease and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol.  Read the label and don’t fall for all foods that are “low fat.” Choose instead to ensure you have healthy fats (nuts, avocado, fish oil, coconut/olive oil, nut butters etc) in your diet (at least 20% of your daily intake). Here’s a blog I wrote on the importance of fat in your diet…

2. Granola is healthy. Granola is made from whole rolled oats, which alone is healthy for you.  If you stopped there you’d be fine!  The problem is that those natural oats are now covered in sugar with added nuts, dried fruits and excess oil which increases the calories, fat and sugar.  Maybe a handful for a quick snack is fine, but not as a daily breakfast.  Your best bet is to have 100 per cent oatmeal cooked in water, adding 1/2 cup of blueberries with almond milk or little cinnamon and even pure maple syrup (1 tbsp.) for taste.  This has way less calories, fat and sugar than traditional granola. Or ask some of my clients what their favourite breakfast is…PROTEIN PANCAKES!!

3. Eggs are bad for you. There’s one thing that nutrition professionals have had remarkable success with…and that is making super healthy foods seem incredibly unhealthy.

The worst example of that is eggs, which happen to contain a large amount of cholesterol and were therefore believed to increase the risk of heart disease.

The Worst Lies That Mainstream Nutrition Has Told You But recently it has been proven that the cholesterol in your diet doesn’t really raise the cholesterol in blood. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol and are NOT associated with increased risk of heart disease.

What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They’re high in all sorts of nutrients along with unique antioxidants that protect our eyes.

To top it all of, despite being a “high fat” food, eggs are proven to cause significant weight loss, compared to bagels (or my least favourite, CEREAL), as a breakfast food.

Bottom Line: Eggs do not cause heart disease and are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eggs for breakfast can help you lose weight. Egg whites are even better 🙂

4. Whole grains should be a necessity in everyone’s diet.

The idea that humans should be basing their diets on grains has never made sense.

The agricultural revolution happened fairly recently in human evolutionary history and our genes haven’t changed that much. Grains are fairly low in nutrients compared to other real foods, like vegetables. They are also rich in a substance called phytic acid which binds essential minerals in the intestine and prevents them from being absorbed.

The most common grain in the western diet, by far, is wheat… and wheat can cause a host of health problems, both minor and serious.

Modern wheat contains a large amount of a protein called gluten, but there is evidence that a significant portion of the population may be sensitive to it.

Eating gluten can damage the intestinal lining, cause pain, bloating, stool inconsistency and tiredness. Gluten consumption has also been associated with schizophrenia and cerebellar ataxia, both serious disorders of the brain (I didn’t know this!).

Bottom Line: Grains are relatively low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. The gluten grains in particular may lead to a variety of health problems. They are also full of sugar which when eaten will spike your insulin levels and causes cravings.  Ever wonder why you want more bread after eating bread? It’s because you digest it so quickly it leaves you hungry and craving more! STOP EATING BREADS AND CEREALS!

5. Eating a lot of protein is bad for your kidneys and bones. This is my most favourite myth! High protein diets are far from bad for you, eating lots of protein is the best (and in my opinion the only way) to lose weight!

A high protein diet has been claimed to cause both osteoporosis and kidney disease. It is true that eating protein increases calcium excretion from the bones in the short term, but the long term studies actually show the opposite effect. In the long term, protein has a strong association with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. Additionally, studies don’t show any association of high protein with kidney disease in otherwise healthy people.

In fact, two of the main risk factors for kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure. Eating a high protein diet improves both.

If anything, a high protein diet should be protective against osteoporosis and kidney failure!

Bottom Line: Eating a high protein diet is associated with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. High protein also lowers blood pressure and improves diabetes symptoms, which should lower the risk of kidney failure. And what’s best about eating lots of protein is that it helps to increase your metabolism as it takes so much energy for your body to break it down.  It also prevents you from overeating as eating protein helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Are you hungry all the time?? It’s most likely because you’re not eating enough protein (or fat).

So there you have it…5 of my favourite food myths! There are A LOT more but I will save them for a post in the future….

What are some other food and nutrition myths you have seen/heard or are unsure about?

Les 🙂

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Another quick and easy breakfast recipe…

My client Katie sent me a picture of these yummy “clean egg muffins” she made.  I asked her for the recipe immediately and thought I’d share it with you!  She found it in Oxygen Magazine and I found another person’s version of it online….

INGREDIENTS for 24 cupcakes:

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • good handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 3-4 scallions (green onion)
  • 6 whole eggs + 4 cups of egg whites
DIRECTIONS:
 1. Chop up all of your veggies! Then mix them together in a large bowl. Next, whisk your whole eggs and egg whites together in another bowl.
2. Line your muffin tins with cupcake holders and spray with PAM. If you don’t have liners, you can directly spray PAM onto the tin. Then fill your cups with about a tablespoon of egg mixture.
 3. Next fill the rest of the cup up with veggies! Then fill to the top with the rest of your eggs. You can pretty much fill to the brim.
4. Pop them into the oven at 375F for about 20-30 min or until you see that they are firm on top.
Yummy!!! I was so hungry. Couldn’t wait to eat.
   
Simply peel the egg muffins out of your liners and serve with some salsa. Super yummy!!!! This is a great meal for those of you who have super stressful mornings and don’t have time to make an omelet. If you make 24 of these you can eat them for breakfast or snacks for the rest of the week.  


NUTRITION INFO: total recipe: 1061 cals, 34g fat, 32g carbs, 144g protein. per muffin: 44.2 cals, 1.4g fat, 1.3g carbs, 6g protein. Amazing! I hope you make them as they will save you so much time in the morning!!! Just refrigerate and pop in the microwave for around 30 sec!

 

Unfortunately these wonderful egg creations are not a part of my meal plan but trust me, as soon as my competition is over, I will be making these ALL the time! 1.3 g of carbs and 6 g of protein per muffin?? AMAZING!

Try them and let me know what you think!

Les 🙂

Are you getting enough greens!?

I recently posted a video on my Facebook page about the benefits of a product I take everyday called “Vital Greens”.  For some reason I am having a hard time uploading it to my blog so I will summarize the information I provided in the video below…

What is it? NAKA Vital Greens- “a liquid boost of essential green nutrients plus a great mint flavour”

Why should I take it? It is a 100% vegetarian herbal formula that provides green nutrients, botanicals and vegetables in a pleasant cleansing liquid and is a great way to get all your essential green nutrients if you have a hard time eating lots of vegetables and salads.

Benefits? Increases energy and alertness, improves elimination and detoxification, improves digestion and immune function, balances blood sugar levels which can reduce cravings/leads to weight loss

When do I take it and how much? In the morning on an empty stomach, 1/2 a capful or 1 tbsp of Vital Greens mixed with 1 cup of water.

What’s in it? Chlorophyll, aloe vera, ginseng, ginko biloba, spirulina, beet root etc, as well as a list of super foods and vegetable juice complex.

What does it taste like? A nice light mint flavour, very refreshing!

Where do I buy it and how much does it cost? At any health food store. A 500mL bottle which will last you over a month (if you take it everyday) costs less than 30 dollars!

Where can I get more info?  Check out this website….

Any other questions about supplements or healthy ways to detoxify your body?? I’m here to help so feel free to comment below 🙂

Have a great night!

Les 🙂

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Super easy (and spicy) paleo chili recipe!

Thanks to my client Mike who has recently discovered and  is following a paleo diet and has been getting amazing results! This was one of the recipes he came across and modified to make it even more yummy (and spicy apparently!)  It is so easy and the best part?? It is dairy free, grain free, and all around CLEAN and healthy!  Plus it is super easy to make! My sister made it over the weekend and has been raving about it (right Katie?)!  Check out the recipe below…it makes a lot so it is perfect for someone who doesn’t like to take a lot of time preparing meals everyday, you will have enough leftovers to last you a few days!

Mike's Paleo Chili

Ingredients:
4lb extra lean antibiotic free organic ground steak (you can also use ground turkey, beef or chicken)
3 large cans organic chopped tomatoes
2 large spanish onions, chopped
2 organic celery hearts, chopped
227g of chopped mushrooms
2 chopped jalapenos
2tbsp chipotle powder
4 dashes liquid smoke
Directions:
1. Brown the meat and onions first
2. Combine all ingredients in a large pot or crockpot and let it simmer for 4-6 hours on low.
3. Serve and enjoy!
On a side note, my 16 week figure contest prep has begun! Stay tuned for updates on my workouts, my diet and progress.  I took ‘before’ pictures on Saturday, and well, let’s just say I have a lot of work ahead of me but I am ready to work hard and be in the best shape possible by April 27th!! Looking forward to going on this journey with 2 of my clients and quite a few other friends and clients at LC Fitness Studio. Team Ottawa is ready to rock the WBFF Show in Montreal!
What goals did you set for yourself this year?  What’s your plan to get there?
Have a fantastic week!!

Les 🙂

 

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Be SMART! Don’t wait until the New Year to start…

Hello and hope you have all survived the craziness of the holidays-travelling, socializing, drinking and eating, staying up late, etc etc…I most certainly have enjoyed the break but am ready to get back to work!!

Now that Christmas has come and gone I hope you have had time to start thinking about your goals in the upcoming months…

Remember the best goals are S.M.A.R.T. goals…check out my friend Lydia’s blog post called “How to set SMART goals”  I have included below…

new years resolution

For example, let’s say you want to lose weight (a very common goal after all the holiday eating). Instead of making the resolution “lose weight”, let’s make a SMART goal:

S – Lose 10 pounds

M – You can measure this by weighing yourself on a regular basis (once a week is fine)

A – This is where it gets personal and specific to you. If losing 10 pounds is attainable, perfect, if not, adjust to what you can do.

R – This one goes hand-in-hand with attainable. I believe in stretch goals (aka going beyond what you think is possible) but you do want to aim for something that’s realistic.

T – Setting a deadline is one of the most important aspects of a SMART goal. Without a deadline, how will you know if/when you have achieved your goal? For our example, let’s say 6 weeks (for a safe 1-2 weight loss per week).

To sum up, our goal is to lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks. At the end of 6 weeks, we’ll know if we’ve met our goal.

SMART goals set the foundation for action

Having the goal is the start, then you need an action plan. Here’s where I think many resolutions break down. Even if you create a specific, measurable goal, without a plan, how will you get there?

In keeping with our goal to lose 10 pounds, here are some ways we can plan for success:

– Start eating clean. Cut out white sugar, white flour and processed food.
– Drink 2L of water a day. (Notice how this is specific and measurable)
– Go to the gym 3-4 times per week. Book in your calendar!
– Limit alcohol to 2 nights a week (there’s a lot of sugar in alcohol)

Those are just some very specific ways that will help contribute to the goal of weight loss. Whatever your goals are, you need to outline the steps you’ll take to get there.

To help you get started with setting your goals for 2013, I’ve created a free, downloadable goal-setting template for you.

 

SOO what are your goals for 2013?? How do you plan on achieving them??

Les 🙂

 

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The Best Healthy Brownie Recipe EVER!

Are you a brownie lover but would love to find a way to make healthy brownies??? Well this is a recipe you MUST try!  It’s also perfect timing to be sharing this with you as I know many of you will be doing Christmas baking or going to Christmas parties and this is the perfect treat to share with guests.

My client Amy is a busy career woman but she always makes time to cook wonderful healthy dishes (and desserts)and luckily she brought some of these AMAZINGLY delicious healthy brownies in for me to try.  Here is the recipe she found online and WOW honestly best brownies EVER! It’s hard to eat just one…two make the perfect snack 🙂

 

Black Bean Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

Prep time: 10 Minutes – Cook time: 30 Minutes – Total time: 40 Minutes Yield: Makes 12-16 Brownies

Black Bean Brownie Ingredients:

  • 1 Can Black Beans (540 mL)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Eggwhites (or 3 Eggs in total)
  • 1/3 Cup Pumpkin Puree (or unsweetened apple sauce)
  • 1/2 Cup Natural Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup All Natural Pure Coconut Sap Sugar (or 1/4 Cup Agave, Honey or Maple Syrup)
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Instant Coffee
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips (more if you wish)

Peanut Butter Swirl Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Agave (Maple Syrup, Stevia or Honey)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Dash of Vanilla Extract

**Amy also recommends adding unsweetened shredded coconut, walnuts (raw), some oats and sometimes to add a bit of sweetness she will add a bit more sucanat.  She isn’t sure of how much of each, she is one of those instinct chefs but feel free to experiment (I wish!)  She also adds almond butter to the peanut butter swirl!**

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Place all black bean brownie ingredients into your food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with a healthy, non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Evenly spread batter into baking dish.
  5. On your stove-top melt peanut butter swirl ingredients and mix.
  6. Dollop peanut butter swirl mixture with a spoon spaced out about an inch from each other onto the brownie batter.
  7. Pull a knife back and forth through the batter creating your swirls.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  9. *Ovens vary so your discretion is needed. You will know your brownies are baked when the top becomes firm and the brownies pull away from the sides of the dish.
  10. Sticking a tooth pick in the middle and pulling it out clean will ensure your brownies are baked fully.
  11. Remove from oven when baked and let set in the baking dish for about 10 minutes.
  12. Gently cut brownies, serve and enjoy!
  13. To store brownies it is best to first let them cool completely and then store them in a sealed tight container in the refrigerator. Very important to let them cool and set properly before you cut them to ensure your brownies don’t crumble!

Try them out and let me know what you think!! Do you have any healthy sweets recipes you’d like to share??

Les 🙂

PS Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with my blog! Things have been busy since I got back from my holiday in Florida and I am just about caught up on my paperwork, keep checking back for more tips and recipes every week!

 

“Get Fit with Les” Tips for Staying Fit While on Vacation…

For many of us lucky Canadians (and Americans in the northern states), winter can mean vacation to a warmer climate. Whether it’s flying to an island, visiting snow bird parents (that’s me!), or taking a long weekend road trip with friends, the change in schedule can throw off anyone’s workout routine. Combine that with the warmer weather, easily accessible restaurants/junk food, and everyone excusing you by saying “Hey, you’re on vacation!” and you could be looking at gaining 5-10 pounds by the end of your trip. No matter where you’re headed or what your plans are on your vacation, use these 7 tips (that I  follow) to stay fit, and healthy, and (more importantly) feel great when you get back…

1. Pack your own snacks: Non perishable food items like nuts, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal (just add hot water), protein powder+shaker cup (again add water), cut up veggies, homemade protein bars, fruit, and rice cakes are perfect for travelling.

2. Pack your workout clothes/shoes: Nuff said! Oh and use them!

3. Walk everywhere: The weather will most likely be warm and you’ll probably be visiting a part of the country/world you’ve never seen so why not take in the culture by walking or go for a hike!  It’s a much better way to sight-see than sitting on an overpriced tour bus…

4. Most hotels/resorts have a fitness center: USE IT!

5. Wake up early: Groan, moan, but seriously! Typically at the end of your day you’re not in the mood to exercise (whether you’re on vacation or not). Rise & shine 30 minutes before you normally would and get it over with. It may seem like a chore, but studies have proven that working out gives you more energy and makes you much more conscientious about your food choices throughout the day – why not start the day out right? Morning workouts are the best!

6. Drink water: Especially when flying, Flying dehydrates you because of lack of humidity in the cabin air, so stay away from drinking anything caffeinated or alcoholic when you travel. It will dehydrate you and put you off your plan for the rest of your vacation. Try to drink a glass of water every hour on the plane. If you’re sick of water, ask for lemon or pack travel size Crystal Light packs to add to your water. Your body will thank you for it.

7. Relax! This one I will struggle with for sure.  You can’t be hard on yourself if you miss a workout or don’t eat exactly the way you would at home but as long as you’re making an effort to get workouts in when you can and are making healthy food choices 80% of the time, you should come out of your trip in the same shape you left!  You can be good to your body and still enjoy yourself-everything in moderation of course!

I hope that you take my advice the next time you go on a trip!  What are some things you do to make sure you don’t gain weight/lose your momentum on vacation? What challenges do you face?

Les 🙂

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