Eating vs. Training

I frequently get questions about which exercises to use to “spot reduce” certain areas, and the answer is always the same – it’s more about the food we eat than the exercises.  

Spot reducing does not work, It can’t hurt to focus on an area, but without a comprehensive approach, efforts are often in vain, leaving disappointment in the wake of (some) concerted efforts.

Clean eating has a bad rap, though, among the masses – it isn’t about depriving at all which, in my mind, is 100% doomed to fail. It’s about the overall consistency (treats are allowed here and there!) and choosing healthier, whole foods as the primary sources of nutrition. When we are *generally* fueling our bodies with healthier options, having a goodie once is a while is NOT a big deal.

I don’t know this Instagram page – @vshred4women – but this image cropped up this week in one of the App’s ads (hence my post.) Much that sponsored material makes me crazy, I did agree with what was being presented. I always say that our nutrition accounts for 80 to 90% of the results we see and feel.


This particular image shows meal prepping at it’s finest.  Not everyone feels like they have time to do this, and that’s okay – you don’t necessarily need to.  I tend to cook several pounds of chicken at once myself because I find that’s easiest for me.  If I’m also making veggies, or I think in a day or two I’ll be preparing a different meal, I may chop up those extra veggies ahead of time since I’m already at it!  Do what works best for you because that’s what will keep you on track.

Getting back to eating clean though…it’s all about setting yourself up for success.  I shared a few of my personal tips in this post – 10 Tips To Feel Full – Yes, Really! (Because Hangry Is Horrible!) – a few weeks ago, and they really can help.  

Not buying foods I know will derail me is one of my key tactics, and filling up on foods that will keep me feeling full longer is another…but again, it’s about works best for you.

I think the misconception about healthy nutrition is that one mistake is the end of the world – many times people will eat poorly for a day or two, even a week (vacation, anyone?!) and then go into “weeeell, I’m failing as it is, may as well give up!” and they continue with poor choices. It is NEVER, EVER too late to have a fresh start, so toss that negative notion to the waist side. PLEASE!

Each day is a new opportunity to try again. If there is a strategy that you know works / has worked for you, re-employ it! If there isn’t, take baby steps and make a point to notice your progress – a tiny step forward is still in the right direction!

It’s also important to remember that little changes can make a huge difference.  Some examples:

  • Switching from cream to milk in coffee
  • Switching from whole milk to 2% or skim if you are a milk drinker
  • Having a whole fresh fruit versus putting a few fruits into a blender 
  • Using lettuce wraps instead of bread, or making an open-face with just one slice
  • Adding veggies to the base of your meal, or doubling the portion you already have
  • Switching to healthy fats like avocados, portioned nuts, fatty fish, or egg yolks instead of the kind you get in sweets
  • Having slow-cooking oatmeal instead of sugary cereals
  • Swapping your regular yogurt for Greek
  • Putting dressing on the side and just using what you need, vs creating a salad dressing swimming pool for your greens
  • If you must have a soda, try a zero calorie version. . .

There are so many possibilities, you just have to look! 

Fueling our bodies with the right foods also aids our training efforts, and the results of all that hard work. Without the proper combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat, we won’t function optimally, and we may not see the results we would otherwise if we did nutritionally support the exercise we are doing (for example, lifting weights and skimping on protein means you aren’t going to see the muscle mass you would if you had the appropriate protein intake.)

That ridiculous saying that abs are made in the kitchen? It is more true than it isn’t. Our culture is a food-centric one, so saying “clean eating” is sometimes meant with scoffs and dismissal, if not considered a bad word / phrase. But it isn’t some horrible, unachievable state of being that should scare or intimidate anyone. Unless you are working on preparing for the Olympia competition, there’s probably room to tweak (and even then!) 

Healthy changes…

Don’t have to be monumental…

You don’t have to go cold turkey (unless you know that is an ideal method for you)…

You don’t have to follow some stringent fad diet!

And you don’t have to say goodbye to all the things you enjoy.

Recognizing that you can see the results you want with some adjustments to your nutritional intake is actually very freeing – it’s something you have total control over, and can customize as it works for you. The key? Being honest and realistic with yourself – YOU are who matters the most, and there is no reason you can’t enjoy life, enjoy delicious food, and also have the results you are looking for.







Krave Bars

I was pretty psyched to see these new Krave Bars – they are available in-store and online, and come from a popular jerky snack brand, Krave. 

When trying to stay clean on trips, it’s always a struggle to find non-refrigerated protein options.  It isn’t at all impossible, mind you, it just requires forethought.  The great thing about these bars is that they offer savory flavors, and a dose of protein for minimal calories minus the need to have a cooler.

Stats range from:

  • 1 bar: 110 – 120 calories
  • 1.5 – 4g total fat (0 – 1.5g sat fat)
  • 240 – 290mg sodium
  • 12 – 13g carbs
  • 0 – 1g fiber
  • 6 – 11g sugars
  • 8 – 10g protein

There is a bit of sugar in there, so keep that in mind if you need to steer clear.  That said, sometimes a snack like this is better than wheat you’ll find at rest stops!  It’s also smart to have healthy snacks on hand so you don’t end up going hungry, and eating more than you’d like to later.

For those of you who don’t do red meat, the turkey one sounds pretty delicious, and very Thanksgiving-ish. 🙂 

The other thing?  There isn’t much IN these, which is always nice. AND…you can pronounce all the ingredients.  Refreshing!

  • Turkey, Cranberries, Quinoa Flour, Candied Orange Peel, Granulated Sugar, Sea Salt. 
  • Contains 2% or less of the Following: Thyme, Sage, Granulated Garlic, Onion Powder, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Black Pepper, Celery Powder. 

Traveling Nutrition IV

I’m always amazed – and sincerely touched – by the support of social networks from like-minded but total strangers.  We all have different goals, needs, and circumstances…but it’s neat to see the general camaraderie surrounding the broader aim to stay healthy, and make good choices for ourselves.  I posted a few photos from a recent trip and was touched by how many folks even cared.

I’ve enumerated at length how utterly terrifying traveling used to be for me – the eating disorders that accompanied my PTSD made leaving my parents’ home, at the time, nigh impossible – forget getting in a car for hours, or – god forbid – getting on a plane.

I worried about what I would eat, if I could eat, who would be eating what types a foods around me. . . The prospect was enough to launch a generally debilitating panic attack, so to be able to travel at all now…and with some ease…is a gift I never take for granted.

What makes it a TON easier is to have the support of those closest to me – I’m not sure where I’d be without it, to be honest.


The most recent – a rather last-minute – trip was to a car show out in California.  Long flight, several hours in the car on both sides, and lots of fast food (that my stomach couldn’t handle if I wanted it to!) When I travel I always pack a plethora of snacks, but in this case, I brought extra.

The great news beyond that, though, is that SO many places have options – they may not be main menu options, but they do exist, you need only ask. Yes, even on the plane!

Protein can be a little tricky to travel with but there are packaged options that don’t need a refrigerator, such as turkey and chicken jerky, nuts, and tuna, chicken, or salmon packs. I get a few looks sometimes but I feel my best when I eat as close to my “usual” as possible so it’s all good. 🙂 

Whole fruits like apples and freeze dried version are a sweet option to tote along, as are pre-portioned snacks like peanut butter crackers. When out to dinner, fish and chicken prepared as simply as possible are great choices, along with veggies to fill you up.  One of the restaurants had a “salsa” as cocktail sauce with their shrimp and I actually used it as a salad dressing because it was so good, and had very little in it (versus a heavier dressing whose ingredients I’d be unable to decipher.) 


As for airports there are lots of options hiding out – turkey slices or chicken breasts are generally available where sandwiches are made, salads are always available, fruit cups are offered at coffee bars and meal establishments…even boiled eggs can be found in some places as well (sometimes they are even in pre-packaged salads too!) It may be a mix and match but you can definitely find options that work.


So don’t lose heart if you have to be on the road or away from your usual meals at home.  It is definitely doable to eat clean and to be satisfied – a few snacks in your bag can help when cravings hit, and most of the time a restaurant is MORE than happy to prepare something more simple.  Don’t be afraid to ask!

More Deliciousness

Nutrition – The Easy Way To Add Volume

I definitely need to eat “volume” – a small snack will never cut it for me, despite that I am constantly snagging something to munch on.  I need to feel satisfied not only because I don’t want to feel hungry, but because my body doesn’t react well without the appropriate, and fine-tuned, amount of fuel.

The easiest way to add volume – the most obvious, also, but for some reason not as often as looked to as you might expect – is to load up on veggies.  A few sites are good about recommending this simple, incredibly effective “trick” but I feel like people still neglect to use it.  

One of my favorite recipes is an enormous sauté of vegetables and ground chicken – I use my Curtis Stone pans, with which I don’t need to use a stitch of oil.  (Yes, oil IS good for you, so a dash of olive isn’t the end of the world, but I try to be mindful, and not use it all the time if I don’t need to.)


I sauté diced onions for a few minutes so they brown, then I add in fresh mushrooms (and, often, peppers too – red, yellow, and orange preferably, since they are the sweetest!) I later add diced tomatoes to it to make kind of a “sauce” – one, mind you, that is more vegetables than sauce! In a separate pan, I sauté the chicken, with nothing more than himalayan pink salt and spices.

Separately, I steam – in a BPA free microwaveable container, of course! – diced (or pre-riced!) cauliflower.  If I don’t have pre-diced (sometimes it is hard to find), I steam cauliflower florets – when they are done, and nice and soft, I use a potato masher to make little “diced” or “riced” type pieces.  You can use a food processor to do the same thing – this just takes less time and clean up to use a masher. 🙂 


I have everything going at the same time, and will reduce the “sauce” to a simmer if necessary.  Once the cauliflower is ready, I mix it – and the “sauce” – into the pan with the chicken. And that’s it!

It makes a HUGE amount a food, and because of the volume of vegetables, each serving is less calories than it would be with just chicken…not to mention, it lasts longer, so you get more meals out of it. 🙂  

Nutrition – Sweet (Healthy) Snacks

There’s really no need to reach for candy – I know it’s delicious BUT…when you haven’t had it in a while, it truly becomes TOO sweet.  It tastes unnatural and overboard, and never as good as it sounds.  That said, cravings are notorious for overriding your best efforts and willpower from time to time… A great option?  Nature’ sugar…!


Eating TONS of grapes or mounds of fresh fruit isn’t necessarily recommended…but generally you don’t need nearly that much to satisfy a sweet tooth.  A small amount, a snack here or there…that WILL do it. Fresh fruit is also best (as opposed to dried, in which your sugar concentration is much higher) because it’s VOLUME – you get to eat a good amount of it.  The water and fiber content will help to fill you up, and it will be more than a spoonful of the other stuff.  

My favorite options are a couple of sweet grapes – I LOVE Grapery! Cotton Candy grapes, Moon Drops grapes – organic Fuji apples, or pineapple.


Give your body a healthy option first – you might be pleasantly surprised that the craving for something that will derail you actually disappears.

Other in the world of DELICIOUSness…

Healthy Breakfast When Dining Out

This really is my usual cast of characters, so it’s fair to say that MOST of my dining-out breakfast options look a lot like this (which, for me, is a good thing!) 🙂  


There are always a lot of great options, though – you never have to have full fat milk in your cereal, or even milk at all, for example – most places offer skim (lots of protein, less calories and fat), or soy or almond options.  You also can ask for greek yogurt in most establishments, in place of plain (less protein than greek, and often more sugar.)

You can absolutely ask for any condiments on the side, lest your dish come out drowning in something more caloric than you need.  Fresh fruit and a tall glass of water are also great as they give some volume and a feeling of fullness…without being bad for you!


For me, the combination of healthy fats, protein, fiber and water content helps keep me satisfied a good while – I’m the kind of person who eats a LOT during the day, so consider that I probably need to eat more often than most.  In this case, the fact that I am satisfied for a while indicates that the food items are doing their job nicely…withOUT being bad for me!

More Deliciousness

Yes, Even At Airports You Can Eat Clean…

It isn’t always a total cinch to find healthier options at some airports, but it is NOT impossible by any means.  Sometimes you just need to be a little creative – there really aren’t any excuses.  (Nice try, though.)

There’s ALWAYS fruit salad to be found – fresh, cut up fruit is far better for you than a candy bar, or the multitude of other not-so-great-for-you food options at the gate!  I haven’t found a single gate at any single airport that doesn’t have fruit salad or at least apples and bananas.

And generally speaking…SOMEone sells sandwiches!  I may have paid a sandwich price for my turkey, but they gave me a double helping and, trust me, it was ENORMOUS.  


Serious protein, no junk added = happy and healthy (non-hungry!) girl.

If your goal is to stay clean and healthy, you really don’t have an excuse these days – there is always a way to make it work, no matter where you go.