MONDAY MOTIVATION: HOW TO TRACK NUTRITION WITHOUT GETTING BURNT OUT

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope that wherever you live, you're experiencing some nice spring weather. We had an incredible weekend here in NYC. I walked five miles yesterday including the Central Park Reservoir. Fantastic.

Passover began Friday at sundown, and we had Seder with our families both Friday and Saturday nights. It's funny, whenever Passover rolls around, I kind of think to myself, "I can't believe I can't eat bread for the next eight days because some fool forgot to bring flour that day Moses parted the sea." I mean, that's a really dumbed down version of history and obviously I'm kidding (sort of). But sometimes you just gotta laugh. 

I'm actually going without grain for two weeks instead of just eight days because I've decided to do an elimination diet with one of my clients. I'm SO excited for both of us to see the changes in our bodies, sleep and overall moods at the end of this. And even though I've done this before, it doesn't mean it's easy for me! On a regular basis, I don't eat much grain, but there's a big difference between having a little bit and ruling it out completely. 

I was talking to one of my other clients a few weeks ago and she told me about her experience with the 21 Day Fix Diet. (I've never done it, but here's a great explanation if you're curious.) She said that while she understood whey there was excessive tracking required, it kind of sucked the joy out of everyday life. It's a great point, actually: as important as it is to have accountability during a weight loss journey, sometimes we get so wrapped up in keeping tabs on our healthy habits that we lose focus of the big picture. And sometimes, ironically, it feels easier to eat healthier when you're not stressing out about it.

These days, a lot of people are tracking their food intake via applications like MyFitnessPal. When I start working with a new client, I ask them to keep a detailed food log for a set amount of time and share it with me afterward so that I get to know them through their food choices. What we eat is incredibly personal and I know how hard it can be to share this information with others, but it's next to impossible for me to coach someone without it! I have been ridiculed many times over for MY food choices so I really commend the people I work with for opening themselves up to my help. I know how important it is not to JUDGE. I do not judge ANYONE'S food choices because I know how hard it's been for me when people verbally judge mine. I simply observe and I offer my knowledge. Personally, I've been tracking my own food intake on and off for the past few years, and I know it can be challenging to find the balance between responsibility and spontaneity. Here's how I track my nutrition without getting burnt out.

Count macros, not calories. I tell my clients this all. of. the. time. Focus on the amount of macronutrients you're getting - proteins, fats, and carbohydrates - rather than simply counting the amount of calories you're consuming. If you're trying to lose weight and counting calories, I cannot stress enough how much changing this habit will help you. I use MyFitnessPal to figure out how many macros I need. MFP (MyFitnessPal) is also great for looking up the macro info on tons of different foots. 

Learn about the macros of the foods you eat most often. I'm a creature of habit: right now I have a smoothie for breakfast every day, an omelet or a salad for lunch and lean protein with veggies for dinner. On any given day, I know where most of my fats are coming from. This is important for me because in the past I've gone overboard eating healthy fats. Maybe you eat too little or too much protein, or perhaps you're cutting back on carbs. Whatever it is, do some research and get a sense of what your macros look like on an average day. 

Set aside a time (or times) to track. My client told me that when she was doing the 21DFD, she was required to check in with a support group several times a day, and that it was a bit draining. I know from experience that it's very easy to become obsessive about tracking. In fact, that's why I've been taking a break from MFP recently. I got a little overwhelmed by how much time I was spending on my phone (my schedule is a little all over the place these days - literally and figuratively - so I depend on my phone A LOT since I'm not near a computer all day) and decided to back off for a bit. I've been writing things down and journaling instead. When I AM tracking via MFP sometimes I'll plug in all of my meals for a day the evening before, so a) I know what I'm going to eat the next day; b) I don't have to worry about tracking after the fact and c) I have a general idea of whether or not I have any wiggle room. If you can't track the night before, make sure you have a dedicated time or times during the day to take a few minutes to either write everything down or plug everything into the app you use. 

Have several different ways to track, and take at least one day off. Plugging food into the MFP can be a bit time consuming, not to mention tedious. BUT. If you're focused on weight loss, it's IMPERATIVE to take the time to do this! For your mental health, however, I recommend taking a day or two off from detailed tracking each week. This is NOT a pass to go hog wild and hit up a donut buffet. Look at your day(s) off from tracking as an opportunity to enjoy the healthy food you love without having too think too much about it.

Give yourself a break! If this shit were easy, we'd all have like 15% body fat and the world would be a really boring place. Take pride in your journey and celebrate all victories, big and small. And always, if you need help, I'm here. :)

FRIDAY FAVORITES: APRIL 15, 2016

*The event I posted about on Monday has been postponed until further notice. Stay tuned!*

FAVORITE ACCESSORY: I ordered this document case to stash my iPad, Apple Pencil, lip gloss, and a few other things in. It'll be perfect for work.

FAVORITE BAG: Well if the above item is practical, this embroidered clutch is definitely on the opposite side of the spectrum. But I absolutely adore it.

FAVORITE BEAUTY: I love this More Than Brows pencil from The Estee Edit. I got "Rich Brown" and it's great for my brows and for the rare occasion when I wear eyeshadow, I like a little bit of this in the outer crease. Definitely want to try a few more products from this line. 

FAVORITE DRESS: This off-the-shoulder number is calling my name... but I may have to pick up this WAY more budget-friendly version instead.

FAVORITE GEAR: These barre socks with cute sayings on them are so much fun. 

FAVORITE INFOGRAPHIC: I love this comparison chart of all types of milk in nutrients.

FAVORITE JEWEL: Wow, this statement bracelet is fantastic. 

FAVORITE LOOKALIKE: I've been wanting a Mara Hoffman bikini for ages, but this high neck top and bottom is a great dupe for any of her colorful prints, for a fraction of the price. (Make sure you check out the back of the top! So cute.)

FAVORITE SALE: Get $50 off your $200+ purchase at Neiman Marcus with code INC50. 

FAVORITE SAVE: I picked this open sweater up a few days ago and I'm fairy certain I'm going to spend the next few months in it (or at least until the weather warms up for good). It's surprisingly flattering and incredibly cozy.

FAVORITE SHOE: For those days when I want more than a sandal but less than a sneaker, these espadrilles are key.

FAVORITE SPLURGE: This is definitely more than I usually spend on a tee, but the cut and fabric of this cold shoulder top is spot-on.

Linking up with Heather. Have a great weekend and thank you for reading!

FRIDAY FAVORITES: ARPIL 8, 2016

Oh don't mind me, just posting three times in one week. NBD.

 

FAVORITE FOOD: I mentioned it Wednesday but these zucchini freezer muffins have been my saving grace recently! The perfect mini-breakfast to fuel up for my early morning clients.

FAVORITE BARGAIN GEAR: Love these Old Navy high-rise compression leggings so much that I'm going back for the crops this weekend.

FAVORITE BEAUTY FIND: This Acure Lip Lush is smooth (not sticky), tastes great and is less than $6.

FAVORITE GADGET: I got rid of my laptop awhile ago and my mini iPad is old and shot. After much deliberation on what tech to invest in next, I got the iPad Pro & the Apple Pencil yesterday. Toooootally geeking out over here. Now I'm on a mission to figure out how to carry them together (Apple hasn't yet made a proper case that houses both, and no way am I letting that pencil roll around loose in my backpack.)

FAVORITE GYM BAG MUST-HAVE: I've been focusing on adding more stretching into my routine, and a yoga strap is key for me for really opening up. (I also love this one from lulu.)

FAVORITE JEWEL: Getting on the wait list for these earrings. Stunning!

FAVORITE SALE: Get 25% off at Bloomingdales with code FRIENDS.

FAVORITE SPLURGE: I finally gave in and bought the red rain boots I've wanted for years.

FAVORITE STEAL: This adorable sweatshirt is down to just $29 from $108!

FAVORITE THROWBACK: Man, I remember being uhb-sess'd with this razor when it first came out. On the whole I prefer to go the foam route, but when you're in a pinch to get smooth legs, this is the ticket. I picked up one to keep in my gym locker and I'm sure it'll come in handy soon. 

FAVORITE TREAT: Keep me away from this stuff. It's just too delicious.

What are your favorites this week? I'd love to hear about 'em in the comments! Happy Friday, you beautiful, wonderful people. Have a great weekend and thank you for reading!

WHAT I ATE/A DAY IN THE LIFE

I always love reading about what someone eats on any one given day, and I also love reading those "day in the life" blog posts. I am so fascinated by the psychology behind all of this: how people choose their food, how they organize their day, etc. I'm a curious little monkey. So I've combined these two favorite styles of blog posts into one here. Enjoy! (This is from yesterday - Tuesday, April 5.)

···

5:40am: My husband tells me it's 5:40, thinking I may still be asleep. I'm awake, so I thank him and turn off my alarm (that's set for 5:45), shuffle to the kitchen to heat up a Garden Lites muffin (love these - so easy when I'm short on time) to quickly eat before getting ready for work. 

6:15am: Walk to work, train client.

7:45am: Walk to Whole Foods, where I enjoy two pieces of bacon and an iced almond milk latte, make my grocery list and do my weekly shop. Hadn't eaten from their hot breakfast bar in quite some time...that bacon was amazing. Wow.

9:30am: Home, working on emails and watching part 3 of the Pump Rules reunion. LOL. Literally. Need something else to eat before heading back to work. Yogurt bowl to the rescue:  plain Siggi's with Paleokrunch and Back to the Roots cereal. Discovered that cereal at Whole Foods recently...just three ingredients and really tasty.

10:30am: Meeting and workout. Or, an attempted workout. Whenever I work out at my home gym I end up running into people/friends, getting distracted and losing track of time. This is why I prefer to work out elsewhere. I need that separation of church and state. I did goblet squats, weighted step ups and some band work. Oh, and BS'd a bunch. Oh well.

Noon: Hour-long flexibility workshop. Great info with an animated presenter, but the timing is bad for me and all I can think of are the hundred other things I could be getting done right now. I hate when I do that. Sometimes time management is out of your control and you have to accept it and move on. Plus, I'm starving.

1:15pm: Grab a green smoothie from Juice Generation and take a walk. Stop into Express to buy two black dresses and two pairs of tights. Ben and I are headed out of the city to attend a funeral tomorrow, and I don't have the time between now and then (or the mental capacity) to search through my closet for the right thing, and I couldn't tell you the last time I put on a pair of tights. I can alway use a few basic black dresses (I got this one and this one) plus everything was on sale so it was worth the $71 to me.

2:30pm: Science class. Class is three hours long today (usually it's just two). Praying for a possible early dismissal...

3:30pm: Instructor says he's going to try to wrap up by 5. Yaaas!

3:50pm: Instructor says we're taking a break. I won't have another opportunity to grab food until after 9pm, so I'm all THIS IS MY CHANCE and run around the corner to grab a chopped salad and large bottled water. It's literally the last plastic bowl of salad greens there and the guy making it looks at me like I'm insane. Whatever, bro. No shame in my game. I'm just relieved I have something fresh to eat for dinner...otherwise it would've been beef jerky and Snackaroons from the ol' locker to the rescue.

4:35pm: Hot damn this salad is delish.

5:45pm: Back to work. Cue that Rihanna song no one knows the actual words to. Eat salad between clients.

9:01pm: I'm done! Shower at the gym, because even though I'm going straight home, somehow this feels more efficient as I have no distractions (going through the mail, talking to my husband, etc.) Plus, we're definitely a little low on clean towels at home. Plus plus, a Kiehl's product-stocked shower is always a good thing. Ahhhhh. #NoShame

9:15pm: Drying my hair. Trying out this leave-in. (Side note: has anyone tried the shampoo/conditioner? Would love to know your thoughts if so!)

9:35pm: I'm home and I'm hungry. I try to avoid eating this late at night whenever possible, but I also don't deny myself when my body wants to eat. I have some apple slices with a few mini white Reese's cups. Followed by a little more cereal.

That's all, folks! Hey, I never claimed my life to be all that exciting or interesting. If you're anything like me, you find some sort of enjoyment in reading about the imperfect and mediocre details of others' lives and being reminded that we're all in this together. See you back here on Friday with some favorites. P.S. No sponsors here. I just like sharing my favorite brands with my favorite readers. Thank you for reading! Love you guys.

MONDAY MANTRA: BE THE FLAMINGO IN A FLOCK OF PIGEONS

(Thank you SO much to everyone who reached out to me and/or my family over the weekend to send your love and good thoughts. Your memory and thoughtfulness does not go unnoticed and we're so appreciative.)

(ALSO. Squarespace is not letting me upload any photos to this post. WAH. Sorry 'bout that.)

Happy April, ya crazy cats. How's everyone doing? I got sick over the weekend. Which, I guess, given the time of year and everything, wasn't all that surprising. But at the same time, it hit me out of nowhere. (Warning... TMI ahead.) I was at work, doing my thang, when all of the sudden I got really, really sick to my stomach. I hadn't eaten or done anything that I don't normally eat or do (I'm a creature of habit on a pretty regimented schedule = the surprises in my day are few and far between)... But here's the thing. You know how some people can only go to the bathroom at home? Well, I can only throw up at home. Weird, but true. I tried to stick out the sick for another few hours at the gym (mostly running back and forth from the bathroom) until I realized that my body wasn't going to let me throw up there...too unprofessional! (Hey, I told you this was TMI.) So I went home and I was sick all night. It was awful. I cry and shake when I'm sick because I hate the feeling of not being in control of my own body. It terrifies me.

If you follow me on Snapchat, you know that I've alluded to the fact that I've been pretty sleep deprived for the past few weeks. I think this may have been my body's way of saying, "...Are you effing kidding me?" The next day, I felt zapped of all my energy. I stuck it out with a smile on my face, but ugh. It was awful.

I harp and harp about an early bedtime, getting enough sleep, and rising with the sun. I talk about making the most of your schedule when it's working against you. Unfortunately, the plethora late nights and early mornings really caught up to me. I have no late nights this month, which I'm so thrilled about. Wish my body had gotten the memo instead of totally freaking out on me, but I get it. 

March was interesting. I started the month feeling a bit stuck, hopeless and tired. Something happened in the second week or so when I sort of snapped back into focus and hustled my freakin' tail off. I ended the month feeling more tired than I ever have (see above) but also feeling incredibly accomplished and like all of my efforts, scrappiness, lack of sleep, etc. paid off. So all things considered, it's really no surprise that I crashed and burned on April 1. I'm feeling like myself again today and ready to rock.

You know I like little themes and mantras and things like that. So, here's my challenge for me (and you) for April: Be the flamingo in a flock of pigeons. What sets you apart from others? A fellow trainer reminded me recently that I must continually ask myself this question. What makes me, ME? What qualifications, personality traits and talents do I have that make me unique and might make others want to work with me? This month I am determined to answer that question confidently every single day.

My mom always prided herself on not doing the same thing as everyone else. She didn't follow the pack. She was the flamingo in every flock of pigeons and I will aspire to take her lead.

I have lots of fun content lined up for the next few months so here's hoping I'll get my act together and get it up for you in a timely fashion. Thanks for sticking with me and my cuckoo schedule. Means the world. I love you guys!

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: MAKING THE MOST OF LATE NIGHTS AND EARLY MORNINGS

Hello my beautiful long-lost friends. Yep, still here. Haven't forgotten about ya.

I've been notably absent from basically all forms of digital communication and social media - save for several tweets about the Bachelor Finale Monday night and MISCHA FREAKING BARTON being on Dancing With The Stars this season - because, in short, I'm tired. I'm overwhelmed and under-rested. I got into the elevator this morning and stared at the LOBBY button for a good ten seconds before I remembered to actually push it. 

Last night I was chatting with one of my co-workers friends at the gym. She was carrying two huge bottles of water and I complimented her on having a great hydration habit. She laughed and said, "I don't know why I'm not losing more weight. I do everything right."

I told her it's because she doesn't sleep enough. And truth be told, these days, neither do I. We're both guilty of running a bit on empty right now. Unfortunately, as I'm sure many of you know, sometimes our schedule works against us and there's not much we can do to change it. Right now, I'm working several late nights and early mornings back to back - last night I got home after 11 and had to be up by 6:30. Not the greatest when you're aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep. Especially because I come home COMPLETELY wired. I didn't fall asleep until after midnight. I slept a solid six hours, but it's just not enough. Tonight I'll get home around 9:15 and my alarm for tomorrow is set for 5:30am. That doesn't give me much of a window to wind down, but I think seven hours should be doable.

I always say, "Don't work for your schedule - make your schedule work for you." Is this always possible - no. Keep in mind that lack of sleep is directly related to weight gain (or struggling with weight maintenance). I've put together a list of hacks to ensure I'm making the most of each moment from falling asleep ASAP to waking up well-rested and rarin' to go. Here are a few tips for you if you're looking to maximize your sleep - and your schedule.

· Brush with non-mint flavored toothpaste at night. Mint is a stimulant. If you have trouble falling asleep, consider this or this in the evening. 

· Cut off sweets and liquids an hour or two before your scheduled bedtime. If you're a troubled and/or sensitive sleeper (I'm both) don't have dessert after dinner (if you need a sweet treat, have it earlier in the day) and cut off caffeine by noon. One of the reasons I rarely drink alcohol anymore is because I sleep so much better without it, and rest is my highest commodity these days. Something to consider.

· Set yourself up for sleep. If you know you'll be home late, lay out your pajamas ahead of time. Get your head on that pillow as fast as humanly possible.

· Keep dinner on the lighter side for better digestion and easier rest. I usually eat chicken and vegetables a few hours before I want to go to bed. Anything heavy (grains, red meat) tends to mess with my sleep patterns, so if I do eat a more indulgent dinner, I'll save that for the weekend or a night before a day I know I can sleep in.

· Give yourself a small block of time to prep everything you need for the next day. Whether you get home late, wake up early, or both, scrambling to get your shit together at the last moment is never fun. Before I go to bed, I make sure my iPad is in my backpack, my portable charger is all juiced up, my complete outfit is on the chair for me to grab on my way to the bathroom, and my breakfast is laid out for easy assembly. I keep my earrings and watch by the door. Every minute before work counts twice as much in my mind. If I can move purposefully and with ease, I'm setting myself up for a good, productive day.

How's your slumber these days? How do you ensure that you're getting enough sleep? Regeneration (rest) is an essential part of living a better, brighter life - you can't complete the puzzle without this piece. Personally, I'm following all of the tips above and I'm fitting in naps when I can. I'm also reminding myself that my schedule will not always be this way and for now I just need to do the best that I can with what I've got!

This post is inspired by a Divine Caroline article I wrote that was published several years ago - head on over there for more time-saving tips in the morning!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, and thank you for reading. :)

MONDAY MOTIVATION: WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING FOR?

Happy National Cereal Day! I just discovered this phenomenon of a holiday when my husband forwarded me and my sister J.Crew's email blast... (20% off your purchase there in honor of National Cereal Day. No, it doesn't make any sense but hey, any reason for a sale...)

Ben and Perri make SO much fun of me for my love of cereal. I don't know why. Last night at dinner Ben invited my dad to the "Cereal Intervention" he and Perri are supposedly planning. Here's the thing: sometimes when I get home from work at 11pm and haven't eaten dinner, I'm hungry but I want something light... gluten-free Cheerios with almond milk is the answer. Easy on my stomach and doesn't affect my sleep. So what if I eat several bowls at a time... there are much worse vices a person can have. That is my story and I'm sticking to it. My dad said I wouldn't go ANYWHERE without a bag of Cheerios when I was a toddler. Huh. Old habits...

Anywhoodles. This post ain't about cereal. It's about planning. The weather is absolutely GORGEOUS in New York City today, and it has me thinking about spring. And summer. At my last writing gig, I worked with an editor who hated the term "bikini ready"... she thought it was demeaning (or something). Personally, I think it's a good way to describe the way a lot of us feel around this time of year. We want to be READY to feel comfortable and look good in LESS. 

I recently helped a personal training client get ready for a week-long vacation (that she's on now) and it got me thinking about my own upcoming travels. Ben and I are taking a trip in July, but then my dad reminded me recently that we're taking our annual Memorial Day beach trip. Um, that's in MAY! So exciting, and equally motivating. I'm already shopping for the seasons, too... I did a little sale hunting and picked up this romper and this top last week. Oh, and this cami which I think will be fabulous with jeans, a black blazer and my Naked sandals. Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited about spring/summer fashion this year?

Here's how I'm planning to feel "bikini ready" in the next three months:

· Eliminating most grains from my diet. I feel better and lighter overall, and it's fabulous.

· Consistent meal planning every week. Breakfasts ready to go in the morning, easily assembled lunches, and a general plan for dinners. Tons of healthy snack options to grab and go.

· Moving up my "getting ready for bed ritual" (teeth brushing, face washing, etc) earlier in the evening so that I'm not tempted by late night snacks and able to fall asleep earlier as well. Sleep is everything.

· Strength training at least twice a week. Ideally three or even four times. Focusing on the muscles I really want to enhance. Right now, for me, that's my arms and my abs.

· Varied cardio to keep things interesting. SoulCycle when resources allow, the elliptical and the stairmaster at the gym, and running outside when it warms up for good.

· Walking instead of taking a cab or the subway whenever possible. 

What are you planning for? And how are you working on that plan?

Happy Monday, and thank you for reading!