Stop focusing on weight loss. Focus more on improving your OVERALL HEALTH!! Oh and guess what??? Health and hunger do NOT go hand in hand!!!
If you need to use baby steps, DO IT.....just start somewhere. And for goodness sake, stop dieting!!!
Seriously. Don't be afraid to eat. Just start eating real food...actually eating more vegetables than you do processed carbs and sweets. Four+ servings a day is my goal...along with 4+ servings of protein and I weave in good carbs 3-4x a day. Get rid of the 100 calorie packs....the packaged foods that seem healthy but they're simply marketing ploys. Look at LABELS and don’t consume things with tons of sugar all the time. A couple times a week maybe, but those things are TREATS.
Drink more water. MOVE your body daily. Think positive thoughts and just focus more on LOVING YOURSELF!
There's nothing more painful than seeing someone starving and hangry...killing themselves with exercise they don't enjoy....thinking they can't have treats or the things they love....and giving up after a week or two.
There's a better way. I promise.
Exercise can be a lot like dating.
You try a few different versions out. Some are pretty good and you and stick with them for a while but you maybe get bored or you just stop clicking. Others are just ok but don't get you too excited. A few are just terrible and you would be ok if you never tried them again.
Then... then you find that perfect match. You are committed! You enjoy your time when you are doing that exercise or with that special person. Yeah it is still work and you have to put effort into it daily but it is something you usually look forward to coming back to the next day. Not always. Let's be honest, we all have days don't want to workout or you don't want to put effort into your relationship. When you are with the right person, or doing your soulmate workout those periods pass quickly.
We just celebrated our 9 year anniversary this week. What a blessing the past 9 years have been for both of us. It was almost 11 years ago that we found each other and haven't looked back!
All of those 11 years we've been active, playing volleyball, running, going to the gym. It's was about 6 years ago though that Laura found her soulmate workout, Insanity! For me it was Focus T25 and later P90X3. Pretty much the perfect workout for us was one that we could do in the comfort of our own home or just outside our RV! We have been able to stay consistent and show up nearly everyday for our workouts.
That just didn't happen for us elsewhere...
For us the gym was like that person that you are attracted to physically but just don't connect with emotionally or mentally. We tried going and had gym memberships for years but never really accomplished anything.
We also both dabbled with running! I was a former cross country runner and Laura ran track. After we graduated from college running became like that blind date that your friend set you up on. You know it's going to be awkward and painful. No thank you!!!
We never did try Crossfit but I could imagine that would be like taking your date out to the most expensive restaurant in town. Then after dinner your date takes you to a big orgy where limbs and sweat are flying everywhere. People are comparing themselves to others and walking around slapping each other on the butt! Sorry crossfitters it's the best comparison I could come up with, I think I would actually join a crossfit gym if it was right next to my house and I had some more cash!
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with those kinds of workouts. We know a lot of people that have had a lot of success at the gym or running! They have stayed consistent and continue to put the work in and show up everyday. They've seen results and that's what it is all about.
Fitness for us looked a little different and that has worked incredibly well for us. I believe there is a soulmate workout and form of exercise out there for everyone. Maybe it's dancing, maybe it's powerlifting, or maybe it's running. If you've tried a bunch of workouts that just don't click, don't give up, just keep trying!
I will say one other thing though that the environment (people and place) plays a big role.
I've been smacked in the face with this concept a few times in the past month so I took it as a sign that I needed to write and share my thoughts.
Is Obesity Contagious?
We think of a lot of diseases to be contagious, the flu, a cold, but what about obesity? The American Medical Association back in 2013 actually changed it's stance on obesity and it is now classified as a disease. If you go to the CDC website it actually states that 36.5% of Americans "have" obesity. That word "have" struck me when I read it.
Philosophically that is a whole new ball game. Now a person isn't defined by being obese, they "aren't" obese they just "have" it. If you have something you can get rid of it, right??? That's good news! If you have it, does that also mean that you can give it to someone?
In 2007 researchers from Harvard published an article in The New England Journal for Medicine, The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years, that explains these concepts. Some things that stood out were, if you have a friend that is obese that you would be 57% more likely to obese yourself. The study didn't show that obesity was connected to geographical location. For example if you have a neighbor or coworker that is obese they won't rub off on you as much as someone which you actually have a close relationship.
"Obesity is a social disease. And it needs a social cure." - Dr. Mark Hyman
I love this line from Mark Hyman, "Obesity is a social disease and it needs a social cure." Unfortunately the population of the United States is heading in the wrong direction.
As of 2015 70.7% of Americans over the age of 20 are considered overweight or obese. If 71% of the population had a virus that was slowly killing you every government agency and medical professional would be hysterical in finding a cure. What gives? Why are people complacent about the disease of obesity?
I think it comes back to this being a social disease. If you walk down the street or through your office building and 7 in 10 people you walk past are overweight, doesn't that skew your perception of what is normal? Now instead of comparing yourself to the cover model on the magazine, I think people are comparing themselves to the people that are overweight or obese. The thought likely goes through their head either consciously or subconsciously, "Well at least I'm not as fat as that person, so I must not be that bad."
Then you have the people that use the genetic excuse as a crutch. The same study mentioned above found out that if a sibling became obese it raised your chances of becoming obese by 40%. So if your friend, that you have no similar genetic information as becomes obese it increases your chances by 57% but a family member only 40%. Wouldn't that suggest that obesity is more of a nurture disease rather than a nature disease?
Why does this matter?
Being overweight and obese can have serious health consequences. It can lead to things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, gallstones, cancer and increased joint pain. Not all overweight people will develop these diseases or will report negative biomarkers but it does raise your risk.
There is also a direct correlation to how overweight a person is and their activity level. So once you get trapped in the cycle of being overweight it becomes more and more difficult to lose weight. Your activity goes down, you burn fewer calories, you pack on more weight.
What do we do?
First thing I think we need to start treating being overweight or obese as a disease that needs treatment. It can't just be the way a person is... It can't be something we ignore thinking it is just a benign condition without consequences.
What actions do we need to take?
I believe as individuals we need to support people where they are at! Whether they are fit and lean or morbidly obese, we need to be there for a friends, family, and neighbors. We need to be encouragers! We can't wait for someone else to take action, you need to be the one! The one that gets moving! The one that cuts out a lot of the junk food! The one that eats more veggies! Do it with joy! Be contagious with your healthy behaviors!
That's why I love so much what we do! We get to be those influencers! More importantly we try to encourage others to pay it forward, to pass along what they learn and share with the people they care about.
We need to be interjectors of positivity and health into the cycle that people get stuck in. If you feel like you are stuck, find people that are going to lift you up and believe in you. Find someone that won't let you fail, aka stop!
Lastly, as a society we have become overweight and obese! It will only be as a society that we can solve this problem. We need to reset that trajectory that our country's health is on currently. Health can and needs to become more contagious than obesity! If you are ready to help be part of the change, share this post, reach out to a friend in need, or reach out to a friend that can help you!
Two rounds of 21dfx (roughly 2 months) and I feel like a new person (even though I don't look a ton different on the outside). This program is probably my soul workout...I've done so many rounds of it and every time I see changes in my body...and it's ONLY 30 min a day!
The COOLEST part: I weigh the same in both pictures!! 😳 Don't base your results solely on the scale...please please please take pictures. Take measurements of your hips, thighs, waist, bust and biceps! My goal wasn't to lose inches...so I didn't track those this time around.
Every workout uses dumbbells or a resistance band in some way. I used heavier weights: 20's for lunges, squats, squat jumps and even got up to the 25's at one point...and 8's - 15's for upper body (There's this one shoulder move with a curtsy I could never do more than 8 with 😳) and PUSHED myself every day to do more and get stronger!!
Without the burn, it don't mean nothin!! (As Shaun T would say 😂)
Jan 7th was the day I took the "before" pictures and the "progress" were taken Mar 1st and I'm so glad I stuck it out for 2 rounds!! My nutrition didn't change a ton...I still ate clean about 90% of the time and treated myself 10% of the time. I maybe drank a little less wine 🍷 and added a bit more protein (try to get some at every meal)...I eat probably between 1800 cal and 2000 cal every day.
PLEASE REMEMBER: you can do anything you set your mind to. Your mind is POWERFUL! Commit to something FIRST and then figure out how to make it happen. Commit first. Then take ACTION! Then be patient!
Email us if you need help!!
If you've followed us for a while you know we aren't big fans of counting calories. It's not that we don't think they matter because they do 100% when it comes to weight loss. The thing that people get confused about though is just doing straight up math with calories in versus calories out and if those numbers tip a certain direction your weight will also change. Your metabolism is a bit more complicated than what your fitbit tells you that you burned during your exercise session that day and what My Fitness Pal tells you that you consumed.
What's our approach then to help people lose weight! It comes down to nutrient density and calorie density. Our bodies are pretty intelligent and for most people they know when to stop eating in order to maintain our weight. The thing that happens when people eat processed foods, the triggers that tell us to stop eating don't get tripped. The other way that these triggers don't go off is when we consume food at a fast pace!
So our approach is to consume high quality, whole foods at a slow pace and stop when you are close to being full and you will likely lose weight. If you are trying to maintain, then you eat to being full. Yeah there is certainly some nuance that can come into play around macronutrients and timing but for the most part this strategy works.
This is where the question of, what weighs more... a pound of broccoli or a pound of nachos? Let's breakdown this comparison:
I took the challenge myself of eating both a pound of nachos and pound of broccoli in one sitting. Let's just say it was an interesting experience. Overall both "meals" filled me up equally and the rate at which I ate definitely slowed down towards the end of both.
I mentioned it was an interesting experience... what that means is I actually became physically ill by consuming one whole pound of broccoli. My stomach and GI tract just couldn't handle processing that amount of broccoli. The nachos, no problem... I was eating again in a few hours. Why this happened I don't know the exact answer. Fiber content maybe, but I've consumed 11 grams of fiber in one sitting before this. Vitamin or mineral overdose, possible but not probable. If you have an answer let me know, I'm curious.
To put things in perspective a bit on whether or not this is a lot of food. The average American eats between 3 and 5 pounds of food per day, we will call it 4 on average. So, a one pound meal probably isn't that unusual. To break things down a bit further, the average American consumes around 2,700 calories per day. So doing a little math the average pound of food that an American consumes is around 675 calories (2,700 calories divided by 4 pounds of food). Based on the nutrition facts, you can see that broccoli falls WELL below that average and the nachos a fair amount above that number. Can you see how eating whole foods and especially non starchy veggies can help a person consume fewer calories?
The reason a lot of diets fail I believe is because our body is naturally satiated by a certain poundage of food. If all you are doing is eating smaller portions of your current foods your body is going to crave more food to fill itself up. I wrote up a whole other post on this topic, Are You Smoking Shorter Cigarettes to Get Healthy? If you aren't filling your body with a certain poundage of food you either need to resort to some incredible willpower or you will likely binge a time or two.
If your goal is weight loss and you don't want to micromanage every gram of food that goes into your body here's what we would recommend:
Believe it or not, this is actually a problem for some people out there. For others, they approach cutting calories the right way. I wanted to share what happens to a person when they subject themselves to a calorie deficit! It can be a good thing or it can lead to some long term issues.
So How Do You Avoid the Pitfalls of Being In a Calorie Deficit?
First thing would be to make sure you are getting an abundance of nutrients! This will happen through eating nutrient dense foods, mainly vegetables! Calorie for calorie veggies rank at the top of almost all the nutrient density scales. We also love Shakeology for this fact too. It is loaded with nutrition but not a lot of calories!
Second, make sure you are doing some resistance training! In a study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition two groups were put on calorie deficit diets. One group strictly did aerobic style exercise 4 times per week and one group did resistance training 3 times per week. The aerobic group lost a total of 37 pounds of which 27 pounds was from fat and 10 pounds of muscle. The resistance training group lost a total of 32 pounds but lost ZERO pounds of muscle. The aerobic group's Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) decreased by 210 calories daily whereas the resistance training group increaesed their BMR by 63 calories. Even though weight loss seemed to be more effective by doing aerobic exercise strictly by total weight loss, long term weight loss will be more difficult for that group due to their lower BMR and body composition. LIFT WEIGHTS!!!
Lastly, manage your stress and energy! If you have low energy levels, don't just drive through Starbucks, eat something! This is also another reason why we love whole foods! Quality proteins, fats and carbs will sustain your energy longer with less energy crashes than highly processed foods. Stress Less!!! Get adequate sleep is a great place to start here. Also work smarter not harder when it comes to exercise. Doing an hour plus of exercise daily causes a lot of stress, science has shown that 30 minutes 4-5 times per week is enough see substantial results. Meditation and finding some quiet time is also a great way to recenter and slow down. On top of cutting out stressful things, find some activities that bring you joy! Time with family, hikes in nature, playing a sport. Whatever it is build up your good vibes bank account to help you push through those stressful times.
Hope those tips help!!!
I know we haven't done many book reviews on our blog in the past. Recently we were approached by a "book tour" company and they asked if we would read and review Darin Olien's book Superlife. I first read this book back when it came out back in 2015! I was even fortunate to get to meet Darin and hear some stories behind the book. Turns out he grew up about an hour from where I did. Apparently kids from small farm towns in rural Minnesota can have a career in nutrition!
When I was approached to share Darin's message I was all for it. The principles he teaches in the book are also some of the fundamentals of living a healthy life and always good to revisit myself. Darin breaks out these fundamentals into what he refers to the 5 Life Forces.
Life Force 1: Nutrition
This is at the core of being healthy. His basic approach revolves around eating whole foods in abundance and variety. Eating this way will ensure that you are satiated with micronutrients that all too often we lack. Being a vegan himself he isn't a huge proponent of eating animal products but is ok if people chose to eat animal products as long as they are high quality and occasionally eaten.
With nutrition he also stresses the importance of keeping your gut healthy! This is something I strongly advocate for as well and think can be a real game changer for a lot of people. For most people that looks like... cutting out processed foods, adding foods/supplements rich in probiotics and prebiotics, and probably supplementing with some digestive enzymes.
Life Force 2: Hydration
Water... something so basic but something that so many people fail to consume. As humans, we are water! Roughly 2/3 of our bodyweight is water. It does everything from provide pathways to carry raw materials around our body to insulate us and keep us warm or cool. Let's just say it's super important! Darin provides some great tips to upgrade the quality of your water also in the book.
Life Force 3: Oxygenation
Oxygen - it's critical to life and something that gets overlooked in regards to health. Darin quotes a couple of studies that talk about how cancer thrives in low oxygen situations and dies off in oxygen rich environments. Pretty amazing stuff! Increasing oxygen ties back into life forces 1 and 2. Whole food plants contain more oxygen than processed, packaged foods. Getting adequate water also increases the amount oxygen that enters our bodies. Combine that with some intentional deep belly breathing and you are really improving your oxygenation.
Life Force 4: Alkalization
This life force is one that is definitely overlooked and understudied. Darin and I maybe differ slightly on this point. Some of the research that I've done and read suggests that it is highly unlikely your body will become more acidic based on what we eat. The pro-alkaline movement tends to look at the acid levels of a person's urine which looks at what is excreted versus the pH of a person's blood and cellular fluid.
My opinion here is the jury is still out, but I would agree with Darin in that a diet high in plant based foods will improve your overall health.
Life Force 5: Detoxification
Darin is a big believer in the process of detoxing the body. He points out the constant stress that our bodies are under from everything in our environment to what we consume. Our bodies have normal detox pathways but they get backlogged when we consume low quality foods and are exposed to chemicals in our environment.
His advice to handle all of this, focus on the first 4 life forces and your detox system will be able to handle the workload.
Darin, finishes the book with some recipes and final thoughts on how you can implement the 5 Life Forces into your current life.
I'm a big fan of Darin's approach to health and this book does an excellent job in getting people to think a little differently about their health. It's not all about being reactionary and trying to take care of yourself after you get sick. It's about doing things that produce vitality in your life and keep disease at bay. If you are looking to up your health game I highly recommend this book to give you a solid baseline of information.
It's hard to find someone that doesn't like chocolate. In our online accountability groups that we run we are always talking to people about how and what kinds of chocolate can be a part of a healthy diet. Yeah there is a way and we will get to that.
When the candy industry got their hands on the delicious cocoa bean they figured out a way to take a superfood and turn it into something super dangerous. They stretch the cocoa powder so far and add so much milk and sugar to their concoctions that chocolate as most people know it becomes a sweet treat. That is where the danger comes in to play. Sugar is addictive. (1) Consuming it leads to consuming more of it and your tastes begin to become altered. The amount of sugar it takes to sense "sweet" increases. (2)
This all equates to you needing tremendous amounts of willpower to control the quantity of eating these types of food. Guess what... that's a losing battle!
I mentioned above that the cocoa bean is a superfood! Let's talk about that and how you can choose chocolate that improves your health and doesn't lead to the damaging effects of consuming the candy industry's version of chocolate.
7 Health Benefits of Consuming Chocolate
1. Nutrient Dense - Chocolate from a micronutrient standpoint is very dense. It provides a large amount of iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper. It also provides potassium, zinc and selenium. The fiber content of dark chocolate is one of the best benefits of consuming it. Fiber is a missing piece is a lot of people's diets and important for the health of your gut and blood sugar.
2. Controls Blood Sugar - One of the secret ingredients in chocolate that doesn't show up on a nutrition label is a phytonutrient called flavanol, particularly epicatechin. This compound has been shown to improve a person's insulin sensitivity. Therefore making your insulin work more effeciently and regulate blood sugar better.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure - Staying on the flavanol theme, this amazing little phytonutrient also increases the levels of nitric oxide in the blood which relaxes your blood vessels and therefore lowers blood pressure. (3)
4. Source of Antioxidants - You've maybe heard of the ORAC rating, it is a way to measure the antioxidant power of different compounds. Guess where chocolate lands when measured... yup you guessed it is right at the top of the list with some other amazing foods. Antioxidants are important, especially in whole food form, to regulate the levels of free radicals in our bodies. The less free radical damage that occurs in our bodies the lower overall inflammation throughout our body and increased health. (4)
5. Improves Cholesterol - Dark chocolate has been shown to increase the amount of "good" HDL cholesterol. It has also been shown to limit the amount of LDL cholesterol that oxidizes. This is due to the previous point about it being a powerful antioxidant. LDL cholesterol isn't inherently bad, our bodies actually need more of it than HDL. The problems with cholesterol arise when the ratio of HDL/LDL gets out of whack and/or it becomes oxidized and therefore inflamatory. (5)
6. Improve Brain Function - Better brain??? Yes please! Dark chocolate can improve brain function from a couple different aspects. First, blood flow, as mentioned above dark chocolate and it's powerful flavanols help with overall cardiovascular health and therefore better blood flow. A couple other powerful components in dark chocolate include theobromine and caffiene. These compounds are stimiulants that have both been shown to improve brain function. (6)
7. Improved Skin - Those same flavanols that we've talked about also help with protecting your skin from UV rays. This doesn't mean you should just lather up with melted dark chocolate instead of sunscreen, but it's fun to know that that treat you have can help in this area too. (7)
Hopefully I've made a case for why and how chocolate can be can considered a health food. Don't stop here though and go grab the nearest Hershey bar thinking you are improving your health. Let's talk about how you can select chocolate that actually improves your health and doesn't harm you.
Selecting the Right Kind of Chocolate
The candy industry has a pretty good hold on chocolate production. This past summer we made a stop in Hershey, PA to check out Chocolate World!
Chocolate World should probably be renamed Sugar World. By weight I'm guessing a standard Hershey bar contains more sugar than cocoa. We had to search pretty hard to find some true dark chocolate in the big Hershey store. Even the dark chocolate we found was less than desirable according to what I consider healthy.
Here is a simple equation that I created that you can use determine whether or not the chocolate you are eating is health food and will provide all the benefits listed above, somewhere in the middle, or straight up candy and the negative effects outweigh the benefits.
In general the higher the percentage of cacao the healthier the chocolate. In order to get into that moderately healthy category you should be looking for at least 60% cacao but most likely you will need 70%. Once you start getting over 80% that is typically when your chocolate starts becoming health food.
One thing to close with is that consuming chocolate can improve your health if you choose the right kind but it is also a calorie dense food since most of it's calories come from fat. Don't take this information as an opportunity to go hog wild on dark chocolate thinking that because it is healthy it can't affect your weight. A typical chocolate treat for us is usually 2 squares from a dark chocolate bar or about 1/2 of what a serving size is supposed to be according to the packaging. This is enough to give us the health benefits along with our chocolate fix without consuming a huge amount of calories.
We hope this information helps you understand chocolate a bit more and how it can and should be part of a healthy diet. We encourage you to share it if you think it is something your friends need to hear.
1. Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake
2. Reduced dietary intake of simple sugars alters perceived sweet taste intensity but not perceived pleasantness.
3. How do dietary flavanols improve vascular function? A position paper.
4. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide
5. Plasma LDL and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo- and hypercholesterolemic humans after intake of different levels of cocoa powder.
6. The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people.
7. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women.
✔️ What does success look like to you right now?
✔ What numbers are you trying increase?
✔️ Why are you trying to increase them?
✔️ How is all of this making you FEEL?
God designed good work coupled with good rest. But we take it to extremes....being busy stems from the fear of never being enough. Busy covers our emptiness and says I am in control.
If we stay busy, how can our lives feel meaningless, RIGHT?
Don't edge out INTENTIONAL LIVING with your striving and "busy". Life is too short to spend an entire season working hard, thinking you'll live later!! God wants us to live NOW.
(Honesty moment: I'm a work in progress and struggle with this as much as the next person!!)
One of the coolest things on the horizon for us is a new incentive that was announced last week at our Coach Summit in Nashville. It is called the Beachbody Health Bet. The concept is Beachbody the company and partially us as coaches are challenging you to commit to 2 simple behaviors for 4 weeks starting September 5th, 2016 with a prep week starting on August 29th!
What are those 2 behaviors?
You've maybe heard for the website, www.dietbet.com, where you can wager a certain amount of money and if you lose "x" percentage of weight by the end of the challenge you get a portion of the pot. Part of this is great in that people put a little skin in the game to give you that extra push to get results. The downside is that people can lose weight in some very unhealthy ways. That is why I absolutely love the approach that Beachbody has laid out for this challenge. It's all about creating healthy behaviors, and yeah weight loss might be a side effect of that but you don't have to feel pressure to starve yourself in order to get a piece of this pie.
So what's in the "pie"?
I want to share some stats and awesome info that I recently read in the book Eat Move Sleep. First off let me give a plug for the book...it's been a great read that goes super fast and has tons of practical tips to help you start making changes in your life. It's not loaded down with science but provides enough to let you know that the stuff he is saying isn't some nonsense he pulled out of thin air.
There is a chapter in the book where he refers to a study of more than 6,000 people that all tried to lose weight and what the common characteristics were of the most successful. A common theme among the successful was being healthy at home. Seems like common sense right??? You spend most of your time there but so many people live in a toxic home that doesn't promote health!
Here were just a few of the interesting stats that the study showed:
Eating breakfast... If you've followed us for a bit you know I've dabbled with Intermittent Fasting. There is a great science behind it and can lead some amazing results. It's a hard thing though for a novice to jump right in to and be successful. I think that is why the breakfast stat is an important one. Eating breakfast is a great way to set the stage for the rest of the day. If you start your day with a quality breakfast you will be a lot less likely to jump at the office donuts or the french fries at lunch. Your cravings will stay in check!
Weighing yourself once a week, this one was a little interesting to me. I get that tracking your progress is a good way to determine if you need to make changes but for the average person they really don't know what changes to make. Other than maybe eat less and exercise more, which we know isn't always a great solution. Plus weight isn't the sole determiner of progress. So we will just let this one go...and agree to disagree.
I love this last stat about TV watching. Frankly because I used to be a 10+ hour a week TV watcher. Let's be honest even the most riveting show gets boring at times so I turned to ice cream to help with that boredom. Mindless TV watching often times leads to mindless eating. On top of that TV watching also means sitting which is terrible for your health. The amount of activity went up substantially when we ditched the cable and we would encourage you to do the same.
Other Ways to "Healthify" Your Home
Due to formulas changing and requests for additional shakes, we've updated this post as of 9/18/17.
This subject comes up ALL THE TIME with people we work with and the coaches in our community. People are always trying to compare different shakes that are on the market. There is so much skewed information since the people that are usually telling you the benefits of a particular shake are also selling that shake. Full disclosure: we are Beachbody Coaches, drink Shakeology daily and also sell it. BUT...unlike a lot of other posts that attempt to compare these shakes, I want to share the facts: calorie information, macronutrient information, nutritional information, added ingredients, cost and let YOU decide what makes the most sense for you situation.
The only bias that might show up in this post is that I put a huge emphasis on long term health over short term weight loss. I believe lasting weight loss and finding your ideal weight is a side effect of being healthy. I also don't believe that meal replacement shakes should be used as a way to restrict calories. They should be used to give you quality, convenient calories that promote health. If you want to know why I don't believe in calorie restriction we have a couple other posts about that, Calorie Deficit Diets, The Truth Revealed and Stop Eating Less and Exercising More. I also have a bias towards restricting artificial foods, flavors, and preservatives.
I compared the chocolate shake from the following companies:
Calorie and Macronutrient Information
When I first started looking at these numbers I originally didn't include the serving size. I then realized that it is needed to accurately look at nutritional density. The idea is to compare gram for gram, which shake packs in more nutrients. When looking at all of the numbers keep in mind the serving size. For example if you look at total carbs and compare IsaLean to the Herbalife Shake you would think that Herbalife is way better but the serving is less than half, so gram for gram, IsaLean has fewer carbs.
A few other things to pay attention to in this graphic:
Calories. Like I mentioned earlier, shakes shouldn't be a way to restrict calories, so I like to look at the shakes that contain slightly higher values, 150+. All of these shakes if made without adding any extra ingredients would still be pretty low in calories to "replace" a meal, in my opinion. Obviously meal size will be determined by the size of the person but I usually recommend 400+ calories per meal.
Carbohydrates... these have a bad reputation in the weight loss world. I would say the average person probably does consume too many calories from carbohydrates, but that doesn't mean you need ZERO to lose weight. The main idea when it comes to carbohydrate management is to avoid carbs that quickly gets transformed into blood sugar or have a high glycemic load. The lower the total carbohydrate, the higher the fiber, and the higher the protein will all lower the glycemic load of a food. One thing you will want to cross reference regarding carbs is whether a shake is artificially sweetened. If they are artificially sweetened the sugar to fiber ratio will be skewed and as I mentioned earlier, I'm not a fan of artificial sweeteners. Keeping that in mind the shakes that I like based on their carbohydrate content and sugar to fiber ratio include; Vega One Nutritional Shake, DoTerra Trim Shake, Beachbody Shakeology, Isagenix Isalean, Garden of Life. I like these because of the higher fiber content and lower % of sugar in regards to total carbohydrates.
Overall, fat is pretty negligible across the board. Protein strictly by the numbers, most of these shakes have a good percentage of their calories coming from protein. The only one that is pretty terrible is GNC Lean Shake. We will talk about quality of ingredients later.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
This first graphic shows the percentages of the vitamin content in each shake. One thing to consider with this graphic is nutritional density in relation to total grams consumed or total calories. A shake like Thrive Lifestyle Mix is a pretty low calorie shake at 123 calories but has a number of RDA values of 50% or more, so overall pretty nutritionally dense.
The 4 shakes that standout as the ones containing the highest concentration of vitamins per calorie would be IdealShake, Shakeology, Vega One, and IsaLean in that order. Invigor8, Advocare, Arbonne and DoTerra shakes would rank among the worst when it comes to nutritional density.
This second graphic shows the percentages of the mineral content in each shake. The top 4 shakes from a mineral density are IdealShake, Thrive Lifestyle Mix, Shakeology, and Sanford Profile Meal Replacement.
The other thing to consider when it comes to vitamin and mineral content would be where those vitamins are coming from. Are they synthetically created and added? For example if you read IdealShake's ingredient list it would say Niacinamide and Potassium Chloride. Those things aren't bad for you. However, when you get vitamins and minerals from whole food ingredients your body is able to absorb those nutrients more effectively. So when you read your ingredient list, make sure you look for ingredients that sound like foods rather than chemicals. If you are getting these nutrients from food, you are also benefiting by getting the phytonutrients that come along with those foods. These are lost entirely when you are consuming a shake that was made using lab created vitamins and minerals.
Shakeology, Garden of Life and Vega One are the three shakes that have the most comprehensive list of foods that go into their shakes. Isalean, Thrive, Invigor8 and Arbonne include some whole foods that make the vitamins and minerals more easily absorbed. The remaining shakes from what I can tell use synthetic vitamins and minerals to get their nutrient content.
Pre and Probiotic Content
If you are new to the world of prebiotics and probiotics let me explain what they are very briefly. Probiotics are bacteria that populate your gastrointestinal tract. We have about 10 times the number of bacteria living in our GI tract than human cells. So essentially we are more bacteria than we are human. These bacteria provide a whole host of benefits to our bodies from metabolic regulation, immune function, cravings, and improved digestive issues to name a few. The science is still pretty new around how our gut health affects the health of our entire body but we know it is important to have a healthy gut.
Prebiotics are essentially food for the probiotics to eat and therefore survive. Nearly all the shakes include prebiotic fiber in them. It's important to feed the good bacteria in our gut the stuff it needs, rather than feed the bad bacteria which can lead to conditions like SIBO and candida overgrowth. Only 7 of them contain probiotics, so it makes it pretty easy to pick out the best ones in this category.
Staying on the theme of gut health, let's talk digestive enzymes next. Essentially what these can do is help break down our food into smaller pieces so our body can more easily process it.
There are a few standouts when it comes to this category. Isalean and Garden of Life have the most comprehensive mix of enzymes. After that Thrive and IdealShake have a pretty good mix. Shakeology has a heavy focus on carbohydrate enzymes but lacks protein and lipid enzymes. All the other shakes fail in this category. (Make sure to click on the image to enlarge)
Adaptogens and Herbs
This category might seem a little strange to the average health conscious person. Adaptogens are foods that "adapt" to their current environment. Things like ashwagandha and astragalus are herbs that can regulate your immune system. If your immune system needs help fighting off disease, these will ramp it up. If your body is having an auto immune response and it needs to calm down, these herbs will slow it down. They adapt!
Other items on this list help with energy production at the cellular level. Things like schisandra and maca are great for this. Many of these adaptogens also have a incredibly high antioxidant properties like reishi and cordyceps mushrooms. Antioxidant rich foods are powerful for your immune system and reducing inflamation throughout your body.
I won't go into a ton of detail about these specific ingredients, but the clear winner when it comes to adaptogens is Shakeology. A few other shakes have included a single adaptogen which is great that they recognize the value in them.
Additional Ingredients and Certifications
This is one of the most important graphics I think when comparing shakes. Like I said, I have a few things on my non-negotiable list, especially when it comes to something I would be consuming daily. First, I'm gluten sensitive and therefore this is a must. If you are also I would recommend testing any of these shakes out or running it past your doctor. There are only a couple that are "certified" gluten free but a lot that claim that they are but just don't have the certification. After that I prefer to avoid products that contain GMO's, soy, artificial anything and hydrogenated oils. I don't claim to be perfect with all of these but I certainly don't consume anything daily that contains any of these items.
With that, there are only 7 shakes that meet my criteria and would benefit a person's health; Shakeology, Isalean, DoTerra, Vega One, Arbonne, Invigor8, and Garden of Life. This is actually where I would personally start, and then work my way back up the blog post looking at these shakes as my options for a daily shake. That's why I've highlighted them in this graphic. If you aren't as strict as I am when it comes to these added ingredients then by all means use all of this information however you would like to find the right shake for you.
I should note that all of these shakes are priced out at the retail value. A lot of the companies that sell these shakes have member options that get you reduced pricing but to keep it consistent I wanted to share the retail. If you decide to drink one of these shakes regularly I would encourage you to look into some of those discounts.
Hopefully by now you've realized that comparing a lot of these shakes isn't an apples to apples comparison and the price reflects that. The price of these shakes tend to reflect the ingredient list in them. For the most part I would say as the price of the shakes go up so do the nutritional benefits and quality of ingredients. For the shakes on the higher end with a higher nutritional value, you are still coming out ahead of what it would cost you to order a healthy meal at a restaurant and would be very comparable to making a healthy meal at home. For some of the cheaper shakes I would argue that you are just buying calories. It's something to consume to hold you over until your next meal but they aren't making you any healthier.
Unfortunately a lot of people will begin their decision making process with this chart. I would encourage you to look at all the other categories above and pick the shake that will help you in the way that you need it. Then figure out a way to make that dollar amount work in your budget. It might mean giving up a night out a week at a restaurant, or forgoing the daily Starbucks trip or giving up cable TV. Your health is like an investment that you can start building up a positive or negative balance at a young age. Most people don't see the benefits or the negative side effects until they are much older and often it's too late to make big changes.
I hope I've laid out enough information that you can make an educated decision on your own and not have to sort through a bunch of crap out there on the internet to get a straight answer on what is included in these shakes. I also hope I presented the facts in a fair manner and highlighted the things that you would want to know before choosing a shake. I'm happy to answer questions about any of my views and why we have chosen to drink the shake that we do.
I'll close with this thought... A lot of people scrutinize the safety of these shakes which is great and is why I put this post together. I would also encourage you to use that same level of care and concern when it comes to the other foods you eat regularly. None of these shakes are either toxic enough to make you sick on their own or nutritious enough to keep you healthy on their own. It's a combination of everything you put into your body.
Thanks for reading!
This post is for those of you that are some sort of health journey.
You've maybe just started or maybe you've been trying different things for awhile now.
I want to offer up a piece of advice that made all the difference in my health journey and I believe the reason I haven't been a yo-yo dieter like so many. I didn't connect the dots on WHY I hadn't reverted back to my old ways until I heard a fellow nutrition expert mention something on a podcast I was listening to the other day.
The concept or question you need to ask yourself if you are striving to be healthier or lose weight is... Are you somebody who is doing healthy things? Or... Are you a healthy person?
Let me break that down a bit. If you are somebody that is doing healthy things, you might be eating more veggies, exercising regularly, avoiding processed foods, or drinking more water. Sounds great, right? A person doing all of those things should become healthier, but will they stay healthier? This is where I was at 10 years ago. I was exercising regularly and doing some of those other things. The problem was...I'd get tripped up easily. If friends wanted to go out for pizza and beer, I was there. If I was invited to a happy hour, I would accept and pass on the gym. I did everything to fit a status quo that wouldn't rock the boat among my friends and family. My healthy habits flew under the radar and because of that I was easily able to justify not doing them.
Fast forward to 2 1/2 years ago. I had just completed an online accountabilty group and seen some great results. My eating had changed, I now had more confidence in "rocking the boat" and not succumb to all the unhealthy distractions that surrounded me daily. The difference: I was now a healthy person. My identity was now tied to healthy habits. This is the thing that just clicked for me this past week. I guess I never thought of it this way, but it is so true. Once I made that commitment, once I identified myself as a healthy person, everything changed. I was no longer easily knocked off of my healthy lifestyle. Or if I did get knocked off, I got right back!
People began to see me as a healthy person. They started noticing the changes in me, both physically and the choices I made. With this also came some ridicule and light-hearted teasing. Friends would make comments about my food choices or about exercising. Those comments usually led to inquiries and them wanting to know more. Had I just been "doing healthy things" these comments would have stopped me in my tracks. It would have never progressed to the point of them asking questions and then some of them making their own healthy changes.
It's good to remember that the people around you will also "test" your commitments. Think of a time when you went to a party and chose ahead of time to not have an alcoholic drink. A friend would likely offer a drink when you arrive, and when you say no thanks, they will press and ask why or pressure you a little bit. This might last for a minute or two but if you hold your ground, most people will respect that and move on.
Same goes for being a healthy person! People will test your commitment. They will try to get you to eat the cheesecake, the cookies, the pizza. If you hold your ground, you will earn their respect or you will find out that they really aren't a friend at all. This will also help solidify your commitment, making future challenges that much easier to handle!
One of the coolest things that happens when you make the shift from doing healthy things to becoming a healthy person, you begin to impact your circle of influence. You shift the status quo just a little bit. You help that coworker that was hesitant about ordering a salad at lunch because she didn't want her other coworkers to think she on some sort of diet. She now sees your lead and has that confidence to not be judged. At family holiday dinners, people begin to ask if dishes are ok for you to eat. They are open to possible substitutions. There is a trickle down effect that is noticeable.
If you have just been dipping your toes in this healthy lifestyle pool, I would encourage you to commit and jump right in the deep end. Let healthy become part of your identity and the game will change for you too!!
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This post is more about how you eat than what you eat. The fact is that so many people when they start up a diet or try to lose weight put an emphasis on what foods to eat and not eat. The advice that is often touted is eat more veggies and skip the sugar, which is great advice. What if looking at your food or smelling your food could help? How about chewing your food more, yeah there is science behind that one! How about breathing while you eat? Lastly and probably most importantly, thinking about how the food you just ate made you feel. All of this begins with some mental preparation. Changing your mind first is one of the key things you can do make lasting change that is ultimately rewarding and not a fleeting accomplishment.
I would love to take you through the list above and offer up a few tips on how I think you can change your mindset to go from a dieter to a mindful eater.
Willpower vs. Trust
I've met a number of people that just try to will their way to losing weight. They fight cravings, HARD!!! They overthink their plans and work out elaborate schemes that someone claims is the cure all. They are constantly having to think about their next step, their next meal or lack of one. Versus... Someone that trusts the process. A mindful eater won't micromanage the scale or measurements. Remember that advice about eat more veggies and less sugar, yeah that's about as complicated as it needs to be and a mindful eater won't overcomplicate things.
We've got a whole separate post solely dedicated to Why Willpower Doesn't Work if you want to check it out.
Cultural Conformity vs. Individual Empowerment
This one could be applied to any area of our society today from politics, dieting, religion, you name it. Society is always looking to group people together. If you are a healthy eater than you need to eat "X, Y, and Z." If you are unhealthy than you eat this. My advice here is, if anyone ever says they have the perfect diet or way to eat, run the other way! We are learning that there is no one size fits all diet out there. Food intolerances are on the rise and with that brings a very individualized food landscape where you need to determine what works best for you. This happens through experimenting and really listening to your body cues... which brings us to the next topic.
External Cues vs. Internal Cues
This ties back to the previous in that we allow society to dictate what we should look like and feel like. Rather than look to a number on the scale or measurements, focus on how you feel. Do you feel stronger? Do you have more energy? Is your digestion better? Focusing on the external stuff is a losing proposition, so don't go there!
Weight Loss vs. Health Enhancement
I'm sure I heard this somewhere else but my saying is... "Weight loss is a side effect of being healthy, not the other way around!" Can you lose weight without getting healthy, absolutely, but it likely won't be long term or if it is it will cause stress mentally and physically on you. Put the emphasis on healthy first. Rather than worrying about calories consumed, worry about nutrients consumed! Nutrient deficiencies can cause everything from weight gain, fatigue, to chronic disease.
Avoidance vs. Acceptance
To me this is all about owning your decisions and actions. You are the one that ultimately is responsible. I see this in people all the time in our groups, they come up with an excuse for every situation on why they couldn't exercise or find healthy food to eat. I get that these things happen but the mindful person will be aware of it and accept the decisions then move on. It's not someone else's fault, it's not even their own fault. Excuses and guilt are extremely heavy anchors that will keep you from making progress. Own it and move on!
Rigid vs. Integration
Dieters have lists, eat this not that. Things are off limits! Whereas the person that is successful long term will figure out a way to "integrate" new foods into their current diet. This process takes longer but what happens is those good and healthy foods begin to crowd out the not so healthy foods. Over time you are eating super healthy food that make you feel awesome. Integrate don't discriminate!
Counting Calories vs. Quality Calories
I could write a whole book on this topic, thankfully someone else has, The Calorie Myth by Jonathon Bailor. I've summed some of his work up in this blog post, Stop Eating Less and Exercising More. The idea is here is your body doesn't do math that well so trying to control calories in to calories out just won't work. Your body is really good at finding a healthy weight if you give it the nutrition it needs. Focus on nutrient dense food that is prepared in a delicious way.
Restrictive vs. Flexible
If I tell you that you can't have something, what does your mind immediately do? "I WANT THAT THING!" Being ultra rigid in your food choices won't serve you. It will likely lead to binging when our willpower muscle is worn out. We promote and encourage people to have some treats when they are trying to lose weight. Life is meant to be enjoyed, be conscious of your treats, plan them out and savor every last bite.
Deprivation vs. Fulfillment
Being "hangry" is a thing! If the plan you are on encourages a level of hunger, skip it. Instead eat to the point of being fulfilled but not full. This will likely require you to slow down when you eat and chew your food a little more. Eating nutrient dense food and protein with every meal will also help when it comes to hunger.
Quick Fix vs. Lifestyle
I know lifestyle change is kind of a buzz word out there right now but it is because it is exactly what needs to happen and what does happen when people change in a healthy way, a mindful way. Let's talk about the "quick fix" for a second. It usually revolves calorie restriction and over-exercising. Right there it goes against everything I've mentioned so far without even explaining how the physiological changes won't stick because of the methods. That's why coming at it from a lifestyle change where you integrate new foods in slowly, eat to fulfillment, focus on health and give yourself time to change or reach weight loss goals.
Fight Food vs. Celebrate Food
I love this one because so many people look at food as the enemy, it's calories and calories make you fat. If you focus on the quality of food you eat, then food becomes nutrients not calories. It's something to enjoy in abundance and not tiptoe around. Also along with this comes the actual act of eating. We've become a fast food nation even if you aren't actually eating McDonald's or Burger King. When was the last time you slowed down to look at your food, to smell your food. I mean really smell it like you see judges do on crazy cooking shows. Lastly do you chew your food, not chomp and swallow. Chewing is huge when it comes to breaking down food so that we can absorb the nutrients in it. It is also the point where our DNA starts interacting with the food that will eventually become cells in our body. Slow down, enjoy your food it's more than something to fill you up it's something that gives you life.
We hope this helps you connect to your food and your actual act of eating more. Did something speak to you? What's one area where you need to focus your attention?
I am super passionate about helping women believe in themselves again and have HOPE. So often we (as women) use food to fill voids in our lives without even knowing it. We use it to help us cope when the stress gets to be too much...or maybe we even restrict ourselves from it because it's the one thing that we can control.
That's the thing....Our souls crave something more than food, and yet we keep trying to fill it with junk that won't satisfy us!!
So often I see people wanting to make changes to their lives but as soon as they start to make progress they let LIFE and all it's messiness get in the way and derail their plans.
I want to help people see that it's not about perfection...it's about perseverance...and running the race even though it's hard because HE created us to lean on HIM and not try to do it all on our own! I want people to STOP striving for something the "world" tells us we need...we don't need to be skinny...we don't need to have a six pack or defined legs or a nice booty. We need to be healthy, happy and we need to have HOPE.
If it's really hard for you to open your eyes every day and have hope...I'd encourage you to start your day with GRATITUDE. It'll change your outlook, I promise!!
One of the main goals I have as a Team Beachbody Coach is to help everyone we work with to become "FullyFit"...it's the name of our team of coaches because we want to help people create change from the inside out. I believe in health but I think to truly be living a FULL life you have to focus on every aspect of your life and sometimes that means going deep into our souls and getting to the dirty stuff...and not being afraid to dig our hands in.
Which is why the next accountability group I'm running will focus on digging deeper into that stuff :) We'll be reading through the book Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst and focusing on getting our heads wrapped around good nutrition. This does not mean restricting yourself or focusing on all the things you can't have. It means completely changing your viewpoint on food...to look at it as something that can HEAL our bodies and something that FUELS our bodies!
I can't wait!!
CLICK HERE for more information about the group. I have to cut off registration at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, 1/14/16.
When you don't feel like proofing a blog post, you just talk! So you get to deal with my "umm's" and "and's", hope you don't mind. I also want to start doing some more video messaging so hopefully these will get better.
Let us know your thoughts? Do you cook? How has it changed your life?
We heard about the launch of this program when we were down in Nashville this past summer. My first impression was, wow, what a terrible name. We are going to tell people to go get "Hammered" and then I guess chiseled too. It kind of made me laugh. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue like P90X, Insanity, or 21 Day Fix.
Watching the promo video (posted below) though I got super excited for the style of this workout. I also thought it was a great way to get more women away from the treadmills and go pick up some weights. There is so much science out there that points out the metabolism boosting and health benefits of resistance training for both men and women. Here is Laura's take on lifting weights, Ladies, Don't Skip the Heavy Weights. I
I have no idea how the idea of women getting bulky actually started. I'm guessing it either stems from cover models of the 1980's and 90's that were rail thin so any visible sign of muscle would seem "bulky" in comparison. I think that image is/was more prevalent than the hulk like woman that may or may not have been taking steroids to gain ridiculous amounts of muscle. Either way I think we can all agree that both those extremes are not healthy, and from a guy's perspective not attractive. Women, unless you have an extraordinary amount of testosterone, combined with ridiculous amounts of food, combined with super intense workouts you will not get bulky. Yes you need all three for that to happen.
To the guys now, I can't begin to tell you how awesome this program is for us. It is a perfect combination of heavy lifting and high intense plyometric style workouts to help us shed fat and get ripped. This program also comes along with portion control containers that will help you either lose, maintain or gain weight. Personally my plan is to gain weight with this program, so the containers will help me get the right amount of food from the right areas to really maximize my results. Plus I'm looking forward to getting some seriously shredded abs!
Let's talk about what this program is all about and why both Laura and I are super excited for it. First off, we love that this program combines workouts from two different trainers. We love the style of workout that both of these trainers have done previously, so if it is even close to those we know we will love it. Having two trainers will also help keep things fresh too. You won't have to listen to the same trainer for 60 days straight! So here are the details...
PROGRAM DEATILS: It is a 60 day program, done 6 days a week. Workout lengths range from 24-41 minutes.
REQUIRED EQUIPMENT: Dumbbells (3 sets preferably, light, medium, heavy), workout bench OR stability ball, chin-up bar OR resistance band with door attachment (not included in base kit).
RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Yoga Mat or Beachbody Core Comfort Mat are helpful but not required. Medicine Ball.
There are 4 different types of kits. Here’s what is included in each one:
Base Kit: 14 workouts on 6 DVD's plus 1 additional workout when you order through a Beachbody Coach, seven color coded portion control containers, Shakeology shaker cup, Workout Calendar, Quick Start Guide, Fitness and Nutrition Guide.
Deluxe Kit: Everything from the Base Kit plus 4 additional workouts, an extra set of portion control containers, 8 lb medicine ball.
Base Kit Shakeology Challenge Pack: Everything from the Base Kit plus a 30 Day Supply of Shakeology, 30 Day Free Trial Club Membership that includes Beachbody On Demand.
Base Kit Performance Challenge Pack: Everything from the Base Kit plus two supplements from the new Beachbody Performance line, Energize and Recover, a pre and post workout supplement to maximize your workout performance and recovery. This package also gets you a 30 Day Free Trial Club Membership that includes Beachbody On Demand.
Chisel Balance: A total-body workout creating stabilization, muscular endurance, and core strength.
Iso Strength Chisel: An intense resistance workout using isometric holds and flexibility to increase strength.
Chisel Endurance: Increase muscular endurance and strength in this time-under-tension workout.
Chisel Cardio: The cardiovascular resistance routine will increase heart rate, circulation, and burn an intense amount of calories.
Chisel Agility: A challenging cardio workout that will help you move quickly, improve coordination, and create greater stabilization.
Total Body Chisel: This full-body resistance workout focuses on creating lean muscle and strength.
Hammer Plyometrics: This jump training workout will use your entire body to create force, speed, and power.
Iso Speed Hammer: A tempo training workout that uses speed and isometric holds to create strength and grow muscle.
Total Body Hammer: A hypertrophy workout focused on pyramid-style sets to maximize strength and muscle growth.
Max Hammer Strength: Start with a pre-fatigued muscle, finish with a maximum lift. Increase strength, power, and muscular development.
Hammer Power: This intense powerlifting-inspired workout will increase speed, reactive strength, and power.
Hammer Conditioning: A workout based on compound movements that will improve stability, coordination, and strength.
10 Min Ab Chisel: This core-crusher will transform your midsection, without ever getting on the floor.
10 Min Ab Hammer: Carve definition into your core while strengthening your entire ab complex.
Here are some of our coach friends that were a part of the Beachbody Test Group. This program works!
If you would like some more information about this program and whether or not it would be a good fit for you and to help you reach your goals, click on any of the images or submit your email address below. We have our own Test Group starting on December 21st too! For more information about that shoot as email, reach out on Facebook, or submit your name through any of the links on this page. Let's Get Hammered! And Chiseled!
Here's the thing friends. Health doesn't necessarily come easy in the society we live in today. We are constantly bombarded with temptations of food that will make you sick and fat. You likely go to a job that encourages you to sit in a chair for 8+ hours a day on top of sitting in a car both ways. You come home exhausted from poor food choices and lack of movement and that leads to more poor food choices, then it's taking care of the kids, then you are really wiped out, so you settle in front of the TV for the night. Then you get to do all that again the next day.
When it comes to health, YOU HAVE TO PAY!!! You have to do some tough things at some point. If you are under 50, those things might be:
So ask yourself how much sacrifice are you willing to make today so you don't have to deal with those things later in life?
If you've already made some of these sacrifices, we would love to hear what they were and how you created healthy habits around them. Your ideas will help others out, so we encourage you to share. Thanks friends!
We have always known that KNOWING where our food comes from is really important...but it was still cheaper to get 2 dozen organic eggs from Costco. Just being honest here!! Sue me.
BUT, when a friend of ours (Sara) said she raises chickens and sells their eggs I knew we had to get on her list. We eat SO. MANY. EGGS. Seriously. It's ridiculous. We go through about 6-8 eggs per day. Yes. SO. MANY. Haha!! We love them though and so does Eli, so we have them for breakfast pretty much every morning.
As soon as Sara's chickens started laying eggs she messaged us (this last weekend) and said she'd bring 2 dozen to church the next morning and I kinda jumped for joy. My older sister, Sara (as well....weird)....raised chickens for a short time in Colorado so we had tried pasture raised chicken eggs before and they were SO good. Here's a picture of me holding one of her chickens a few years ago:
However...do you know WHY it's important to know where your eggs came from and what those chickens ate? To quote one of our favorite podcasts, The Model Health Show
"You are what you eat ate."
By that we mean any animal product you're putting into you body, you're also ingesting whatever THEY ATE as well. So choose your animal sources wisely!
Sara's chickens are pastured...meaning they have full access to outdoor area that is fenced for their safety. This is much different from "free range" which simply means according to the USDA the chickens have "access" to the outdoors for at least 50% of their lives. ALSO, don't mistake "Cage free" for being all that great...if they came from a big factory farm those chickens were probably just cooped up in a barn with a thousand other chickens...not technically in a cage per se...but not roaming free and able to eat whatever they want. "Cage free" and "Free range" aren't necessarily better...even though we all get misled by the terms sometimes. I know I did!! That's why knowing where your eggs come from (if you have that ability) is really important. Click here for a great article explaining more about this.
Sara's chickens are fed non GMO feed with no soy and it's basically organic...just not certified organic yet because she gets it from farmers that are in the process of organic certification. Her chickens also get fresh fruit and veggies all the time and they add kefir, whey etc...when available! They also forage and eat bugs and weeds in their pasture and they sometimes reserve feed until the end of the day to force them to forage more which means they get more variety in their diet! Genius! That's why the yolks are so yellow (see picture below).
Here are a few pictures of her beautiful chickens and her toddler terrorizing a few of them...or maybe they're terrorizing her, I can't tell!
And now the big reveal...we wanted to do a side by side comparison of the organic Costco eggs and Sara's pasture eggs...check it out. Can you tell which is which?? We won't leave you hanging...the one on the left is the pasture raised egg and the one on the right is the organic, cage free egg from Costco.
SO...if you don't have the option to pay a little more for quality eggs...that's fine!! I just challenge you to think about the foods that you eat ALOT of on a daily basis and think about slowly starting to swap IN a higher quality version!! Your health will thank you in the long run!!
We wanted to respond to the video that got massive attention last week. We don't even want to link to it but if you are so inclined to watch it you can find it by typing "Dear Fat People" into a Google search. The person that created the video is a comedian so you should take everything she says with a grain of salt. That said her basic premise was if we shame "fat people" enough that they will feel so bad that they decide to change. Makes perfect sense, right??? If someone is in enough pain, they will clearly choose to do something different. The problem with her argument lies in the physiological component to being overweight. She clearly has no training in anything and she just thinks that if people eat less and exercise more, presto change-o they become skinny.
Just to be clear, we should probably just blatantly say it out front, shaming people is an absolutely horrible way of treating people and it does NOT get results.
This video also brings up the the topic that goes viral every other month or so of #loveyourself and "body positive" blogs that are out there. This is always a tricky subject to us especially since we are in the business of helping people get healthy and lose weight. This is where we want to dive in a little deeper...along with giving you a strategy to navigate your own health and weight loss. Within the "body positive" movement there is a theme of loving yourself for who you are whether you are fat or skinny. No matter your shape or size you should be ok with that and embrace who you are, #loveyourself. We totally agree with this...but what if we asked ourselves this:
"Can you love yourself for who you are, and still try to improve yourself?"
The question itself is contradictory in nature. Why do you need to change if you love who you are? This is where some people in the "body positive" movement lose us. They take that thought and solely stick to the love yourself side of it. Thinking "I'm good enough the way I am and I don't need to improve". (For a little more reading on change and being "good enough" you can check out another post of ours where we talk about that exact topic, The "Good Enough" Principle - Ambivalence!) There are some in that movement that are certainly trying to improve their body composition and health. There are also people tucked away in a shack in Mississippi that are oblivious to all of this, they are "fat" and just don't care. I safely say that because those people probably don't have the internet and will never read this!
The graphic below is really helpful in helping distinguish where you might fall in your own personal health. We know that these categories aren't perfect and you may find some overlap in your current situation. We believe that everyone should be on an active journey to improve themselves AND that you can and should love where you are at currently. In fact we think in order to move forward in your health and fitness it has to be done out of love for yourself and wanting the best for yourself. In order to do that you need to take a good assessment of where you currently are though. Ask anyone that has navigated using a map and compass, the most important thing to know is to know your current location. That means getting honest with yourself and asking some tough questions...
This graphic and our descriptions might also help you understand that not all "skinny" and "fat" people will be in the same categories. Often times skinny healthy people just assume all overweight people are lazy and uneducated. Also skinny people are often thought to be healthy solely based on their body size, which we know isn't true. We breakdown these categories a little more below to bring clarity to these stereotypes.
So before we dive into each of these descriptions you should know why we chose Aware and Willing as the category headings and what they mean. By saying aware, we mean that people that fall into this category are knowledgeable with what it takes to be healthy. The science of what it takes to be healthy is constantly changing and there is new information coming out all the time. People in this category follow that information and know what it takes to improve their health and/or lose weight. By saying willing, we refer to the people that make an effort to do what they think or know is right.
Aware & Willing
They are "aware" of what it actually takes to be healthy and are "willing" to prioritize the things it takes to improve their health. It is because of this that this section of people are generally in good physical shape and generally healthy. This group doesn't have to be physically fit, but more importantly actively working towards improving their current situation. They actively seek out the latest in health trends and science to see what works best for them. They have made a commitment to their health and may even work in the industry.
Aware & Unwilling
This group is "aware" of what they need to do to improve their current health situation but have yet to make it a priority in their daily habits. There is a sense of ambivalence. They know why they should change and the benefits. They even know what they need to do in order to create a change. However they have a pull to keep things as they are. Change is hard. They may not have the support system in place that will support them if they start making changes. They may have a stubborn husband that enjoys his pizza and pasta, or coworkers that frequently go out for happy hour. They may feel they will be outcast by these people if they start making different decisions.
This group will likely not make a change until their health begins to affect something that they currently find a bigger priority. An example would be a mother with a toddler or young children that values time with her family above all else. Her kids are constantly wearing her out with all of their activities to the point where she can't keep up anymore. That may be the breaking point for her where she decides she needs to get in better shape.
Unaware & Willing
This group makes up the biggest group of people from my experience. They all want to be healthy and even go to the effort of eating what they think is healthy food and working out in a way they think will improve their health but may or may not be seeing results. This group reminds us of the saying, "Work smarter, not harder!" This group hasn't quite figured that out yet.
Common things we hear from people that would fall into this category are;
This group of people, as stated in the chart, will likely cook a lot of homemade meals..but those meals will likely be comprised of packaged goods and will be heavy on the starches and unhealthy fats and low in protein. If we could sum this group up in one thought it would be...
We eat "healthy" cereal for breakfast group.
How do people move out of this group? It mainly comes through education from credible and current sources to formulate a plan that's going to work for them. The key there is individualized plan because what works for one doesn't work for all. One of the most common things we see here is with running. Often times runners are inherently skinny. We can say that because we both were former runners and both were skinny prior to starting our running careers. People from this group see skinny runners and think that running must have made them skinny, therefore they should run to get skinny. This would be like saying playing basketball makes you tall. Yes, running will work for some but it isn't the best way to lose weight in a healthy way for a majority of people.
If you fall into this group and are curious about some resources that we have used to learn more about nutrition and exercise, we would love to share some of those with you. Just comment below or send us an email.
Unaware & Unwilling
This group unfortunately makes up a decent percentage of our population. People in this group tend to have never done any research into health or nutrition other than what a doctor or the media may have told them. They may know that certain things like sugar and fast food are bad for them but fail to connect what they are eating to how they FEEL and their overall health. They may know exercise is important but their knowledge of what to do might be rooted in what they did in junior high gym class 30 years ago. The fate of people in this group usually tends to be more grim than positive. These people will likely battle chronic disease throughout their lifetime and will likely struggle with being overweight.
Thankfully people in this group can reverse the course they are on. It usually takes a friend or family member to intervene. Unfortunately it might take a health issue to force people to change.
If you know someone in this group, reach out to them let them know you care and love them for who they are right now as they are!
Where Are You Right Now?
The reason we wanted to write this post was because we want to share a BETTER strategy for losing weight than shaming someone. With that, we also want to put the focus on HEALTH because skinny doesn't mean healthy and carrying a little extra weight doesn't mean unhealthy. We do believe that we should all love, yet acknowledge where we are with our health, and actively be trying to improve upon it.
This world is going to bombard us with toxic things that harm our body and deteriorate our health. We will also face toxic things mentally that will try to break our will, lessen our belief in ourselves, and crush our dreams. That is why we need to constantly be working to improve our current situation because we just don't know what might try to trip us up next.
If this post inspired you to make a change we would love to hear from you. If you need someone to just talk with about your current situation we are here for you!!
So I know I've alluded to it in a few posts and told some close friends but I wanted share with you all something that I've had to deal with this past year. I share it because I'm sure there is someone out there that is going through the same thing and I hope this message gets to you to help you relieve your suffering.
The thing that I've been dealing with is I am now gluten intolerant and most likely have celiac disease. I really don't want to start eating gluten again to get the formal diagnosis. I explain later how I came to this conclusion.
I share this picture because just last September I wrote up a the post on our Facebook page talking about the hype behind giving up gluten. You can see that post here. At this point my knowledge of gluten was decent. However I knew very little about gluten sensitivities and celiac disease just straight manifesting out of thin air. That's basically what happened to me!!!
The fully story... In late December I started noticing a rash on my underarms and down my upper arms. Given the location I thought it was maybe an interaction with my deodorant, so switched that up, nothing changed. I then thought maybe it was a soap or detergent, so switched those up, nothing happened. I then took out some foods, gluten, dairy, and soy. I did that for about a week and nothing happened at the end of a week. So I went back to eating the way I had. I should say that I wasn't eating a lot of gluten at this point, a little bread maybe once or twice a week, and I would have a beer maybe 4-5 times a week.
After I did all of that trial and error I basically went back to "normal" stuff. That is when things got really bad. The rash spread to my face, back, chest and even into my legs. At that point I was extremely uncomfortable so I went to the dermatologist. They took a biopsy of the rash and prescribed some steroid cream to help calm down the rash. The biopsy didn't show anything, which was both good and bad. Good that I didn't have cancer or some other serious disease but bad in that I still didn't know what was causing the rash. I then did an environmental allergy test with the dermatologist. When I went in to get the patches removed, there was only one thing that I was allergic to and that didn't make any sense that that would be the cause. This was roughly mid February and I was still eating my normal diet. At this appointment the dermatologist wanted to prescribe me an oral steroid to help with the rash but I told her that I didn't want to take it. I didn't want to kill the rash, I wanted to figure out what was causing it. She was a little shocked that I would turn down drugs that would help with my symptoms. At this point she told me that only 10% of people ever figure what causes rashes like this! Wow!!! I could tell I pushed a button of hers, oh well!
I left the office that day and was pretty upset! I was mad at the dermatologist that her main intent was to treat my symptoms. I was upset that 90% of people that have rashes like me go through life not knowing what causes it and likely take prescription medicine to manage symptoms. It made me all the more determined to figure it out. At this point I started having conversations with Laura's sister who was also struggling with similar issues as me. She was a little further along in the process of figuring out what was causing her symptoms and she was pretty certain that she had what is called dermatitis herpetaformis or DH. Simply put, celiac disease but a version that shows up through the skin and not the gut.
It was right around April 1st that bit the bullet and cut out all gluten, including beer. I remained free and clear of gluten until the end of May. During that time my rash completely disappeared. That is when I reintroduced it! Of course I chose to use beer as my gluten source! Essentially what I had done was an elimination provocation diet. The results were a little confusing to me. I got together with some of my beer drinking buddies on a Saturday night. Sunday came and went and nothing happened. Same with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought I was in clear! Then Thursday evening I broke out. I thought it was a little strange from a timing standpoint so I chose to test it again. This time I waited 3 weeks to "clear out" my system then did it again. Unfortunately I had the same outbreak with the same timing. I had my answer!
I went from someone that had no symptoms of any gluten sensitivity to being allergic basically overnight. Strange, right? Now that I've started learning more about gluten and how it interacts with our bodies, it isn't so strange. Gluten is a harmful substance to everybody. Yeah you read that right, everybody. Some people can process it and not be "harmed" while others hit a breaking point and there body just says enough is enough.
You might think that is pretty extreme to say that gluten is harmful to everyone. You might think it doesn't affect me. We consume toxins everyday in our foods and through things in our environment like our cleaning supplies and the air we breath. Our bodies do an incredibly good job of processing these toxins and eliminating them from our bodies. Eliminating these toxins creates stress in our body. If you start piling on too much stress at some point your body will be overwhelmed and break down. Doing my research about what causes DH, they often say it comes in 30+ year olds usually after a stressful situation in their lives. I'm blaming Eli our son, love you buddy but you've definitely increased the stress level in the house.
As I stated earlier, my goal is for a light bulb to go off in someone's head and make the connection between the food you eat and chronic symptoms that you might be fighting. For some that may be rashes, headaches, achy joints, digestion issues, brain fog, fatigue and the list could go on. I would encourage you to think about the foods that you are eating. Pay attention to when symptoms get bad and what foods you ate recently. Don't discount the power of the things you put into your body! People don't think twice about medicine that they ingest affecting how they feel. I would argue food is just as powerful to both heal and hurt you.
If you want to chat more about how to structure an elimination diet I would love to talk with you. You can email me here. Or if you just want to take it upon yourself I highly recommend the book, The Elimination Diet by Tom Maltere.
Each day we get a chance to start over...new beginnings. Here are a few ways we like to live on PURPOSE:
Live EVERY day. Don't just go through the motions!!
Breakfast has typically been thought of as the most important meal. I'm pretty sure the cereal industry started that saying anyways. If you are looking to read more on why breakfast may not be as important as once thought, here is a great article. With articles like this one and more science out there that says breakfast isn't a must for everyone, we would like to propose another option, WATER!!! It's hard to argue that water isn't important and we will share just how important it is to stay hydrated.
Water is what gives us life. Without it we would LITERALLY shrivel up and die. Did you know that about 80% of the population doesn't drink an adequate amount of water. So why aren't more people dying of dehydration???
I would argue they are...just not directly! When you don't drink enough water your body will pull it out of other cells and tissue in your body in order to hydrate your brain, that's first priority. Since your brain is the thing that controls your entire body, it gets to dictate who gets what and when within your body. And just like the bully on the playground at school, your brain is going to make sure it gets taken care of first. Your brain is like, sorry liver we need it more than you, thanks; sorry skin we need it more than you, sorry intestines you figure out a way to get that waste out I need more water. If those other organs and body systems aren't functioning at their highest level that leaves us prone to disease and sickness.
Another key area where dehydration comes into play is in your blood and cardiovascular system. When you are dehydrated your blood volume decreases, which limits the amount of oxygen that reaches the various parts of your body. Without oxygen your body struggles to produce energy at the cellular level. If your cells don't have energy, they can't do all the things that they need to do to function at a high level. That is where fatigue and disease become an issue. Not to mention dehydration raises your BP which increases your chance of a heart attack.
Sooo....what is the appropriate amount of water to drink? A general rule of thumb is a 1/2 ounce per lb of body weight. If you weigh 200 lbs that would mean you should drink 100 ounces per day. That equation is on the low end if you are doing any type of physical activity. We would recommend you up your water consumption to 3/4 - 1 ounce/pound if you are exercising hard or sweating a lot due to physical activity. There is also the quality of your water that comes into play. We are just learning more and more about structured or vorated water, which is super interesting to us. Something else to consider...is it packaged water, and if so is the material that it comes in BPA free? The deal with BPA is that it is an endocrine disruptor, which essentially means it is going to mess up your hormones. Most plastic containers out there contain BPA unless they are stamped otherwise. So that means bottled water is off limits. There is also some emerging evidence to suggest that straight tap water isn't the best option either due to all the toxins (PCBs, pharmaceutical drugs, heavy metals) that have leaked into our water system plus the flouride that is added. Yeah the thing that helps our teeth may not help our bodies. Sounds kind of doom and gloom doesn't it??? To some degree it is, the most important thing we put into our body is being tainted from all different directions. Now are we saying you shouldn't ever drink bottled water or tap water? Heck no...if it's your only option, go for it. We definitely do if it's our only option!
According to some experts, the best option is distilled water with a pinch of pure Himilayan pink salt. The other option would be to look into a more thorough filtration system that will eliminate some of those toxins plus flouride. We are just starting to do some research into some systems or a home distiller. If anyone has recommendations on what they use we would love to hear from you. For others, we will definitely keep you posted on what we choose!
Anyone else just run to the water cooler? I know I just refilled my water glass after typing this!
Definition of Ambivalence: The coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings towards the same action, person or object drawing him or her in opposite directions.
Or as I like to think of it... The "Good Enough" Principle!
"I could change the way I eat...but I'm not as overweight as some people I see, and my health is OK for now."
"I know I should exercise more but I'm in pretty good shape. I never really see any changes when I start doing it anyway, plus I just don't have the time."
Ever have thoughts like that? Yep, I did too at one point and still do to some degree. Let's be honest, change is hard. It introduces unknowns into our world and we aren't sure how we will manage them or how exactly they will change our lives. We know that eating healthier and exercising regularly will improve our health and make us feel better, so why don't more people do it??? I definitely think it's because people are ambivalent or the idea that we are "good enough."
In the fitness world or at least the blogofitnesssphere, yeah I just made that up, you hear people say all the time: don't compare yourself to the magazine cover models or the actresses you see on TV. Since I live in the blogofitnesssphere, I completely agree with that statement. You shouldn't compare your day 1 with someone else's day 365. What about comparing yourself though on day 1 to someone who is on day negative 365? What I mean by negative 365 is the person that is obese or maybe morbidly obese or the person that has type II diabetes. They've been going down the "negative" path a lot longer than you. That one doesn't get talked about enough but I think people subconsciously do it all the time. You are ok not having the cover model figure but AT LEAST you aren't as bad as the person you saw at the grocery store today or your overweight uncle Frank. Sorry to any uncle Franks out there.
Are you in that place? Be honest! Do you catch yourself saying things like "I would never want to be that skinny" or "I never want to have muscles like him/her." What you are really saying is I'm good enough and what you are likely doing is comparing yourself to the person that is on day negative 365 not the skinny or muscular person.
I'm not saying you shouldn't love who you are and where you are right now! You should however give yourself an honest assessment of where you are at this particular moment. The idea of "good enough" is aimed at the thoughts that you have that you shouldn't be trying to improve yourself. If you're not improving yourself and moving forward, you're most likely going backwards. There are just too many things in our society today that will slowly compound over time to wear down your health and cause you to pack on the pounds. I'm talking about things like stress, environmental toxins, processed foods, and constant sitting and inactivity. Those things over the course of a lifetime will cause you to become sick and overweight. It won't likely happen in a month or even year, but 20 or 30 years from now the choices you are making TODAY will have an impact.
If you are ready to leave the world of ambivalence and start making decisions that will actively improve your health and mental well-being, we would love to help with that. Our online accountability groups have been able to help hundreds of people step out of ambivalence and help them take control of their life and health. For more information on these groups you can go to our Challenge Group Page or Email Us and we would be happy to share some info.
Written by Danielle Lochow with Take Charge Fitness
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Now that I have all that shouting out of the way allow me to present to you these photos. I've been doing a LOT of thinking lately about calories and pounds and maintaining weight and how my own journey with fitness and food and weight has evolved over time.
These are pics from every day this week. As you can see, I weighed in different each time I stepped on the scale. My weight fluctuated five entire pounds within a couple days. Why is this??? Did I gain? Did I then lose? And then gain again?
If you struggle with trying to make the scale come up with that one special number, please know that your weight will change based on...
And any other number of things.
It is physically impossible to gain five pounds in a day or two. It's also impossible to gain it in a WEEK.
Why do I share this? Because I know that for some people this relationship with the scale is a negative thing. It has a negative impact on their life.
When I decided I wanted to lose weight I strictly counted calories. I tracked my calories religiously in MFP (My Fitness Pal). I weighed every Friday morning and when I got to record a loss it was FABULOUS. It was working!! For the first time in my life this weight loss thing was working. I eventually met my weight loss goal when I saw that number I wanted to see. And then I knew that I could keep tracking calories and keep weighing that number.
Understand that when I was religiously tracking, I didn't always necessarily care WHAT the calories came from. 400 calories from a salad was the same to me as 400 calories from a sandwich cookie.
I learned very quickly that tracking to only net around 1500 calories (that's what mfp says a person of my height and weight should eat to maintain) was kind of unsustainable. And I hadn't figured out yet that fluctuation in weight is NORMAL. So it was making me crazy. If I went a couple hundred calories over one day, and weighed a half pound heavier the next day, I thought I knew exactly why. Too many calories.
So dumb guys. So dumb.
Eventually I got plugged in with a great fitness community online and started learning about how to clean up my diet. I leaned that the quality of food is important and that even if something is higher in calories it doesn't mean it's unhealthy, or that it will make me gain weight. And I learned that if I do see a "gain" it's probably any number of things my body is doing that has nothing to do with a couple hundred "extra" calories.
I weigh myself randomly. Sometimes it's once a month, other times it's every day for a week but gaining confidence in my diet and my habits, growing in my physical strength and understanding more about how bodies work gives me SUCH FREEDOM AND PEACE. I am not married to my special number. I admit to being interested to seeing how it fluctuates and know why it does, but it cannot and will not ever bother me like it once did because I have confidence and faith in my daily habits!
Bottom line is this: your number does not have to define you. No one sees a number when they look at you. When you follow a lifestyle that is rich in healthy, nourishing foods, regular exercise and movement, and you are surrounded by people who encourage you to live your best life every day...you will not need to stress about maintaining weight. People always say that maintaining weight is harder than losing it, and that may be true but ONLY if you are looking at it as though once you hit your number you all of a sudden want to go back to bad habits that got you heavier in the first place. When you are COMMITTED to living healthy, your healthy weight will find you. And you will be FREE of your number.
If you like what you've read we encourage you to follow Danielle on Facebook at Take Charge Fitness or you can email her directly.
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.