Should you be counting your calories?

The other day I was with a patient and she said, “Megan I’m frustrated with you”. That took me aback for a minute; I felt our sessions had been going well and she was working towards her goals. She went on to tell me I had not given her a calorie count to follow.

 

Now, this is not the first time I have heard this. We hear so many times calories in=calories out, so we must count our calories, right? NO! That is not so and I am not a dietitian that recommends calorie counting to my patients and here is why.

Our bodies are very complex. Trying to simplify the way our bodies work by tracking a single a calorie, is not necessarily effective.

Counting calories can leave you feeling hungry, deprived, upset, and eventually, right back to your original weight or higher. Not only can you feel exhausted and empty as you restrict your body of what it needs, but also any weight you do lose ends up coming back anyway once you start “eating” again. It’s a lose-lose situation. Not only do you not achieve the desired result, but you also feel defeated and terrible about yourself!

So what counts?

Eat healthier by cutting back portions and adding in non-starchy vegetables.
Remember your #plategoals— ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrate and ½ non-starchy vegetables. Try this approach to every meal; it eliminates the need to count calories! The #plategoals method can provide half the calories of a typical meal, with the same volume, if not more— and get this, 1-2 times the nutrients.

 

Eat every few hours.
Snack between meals; be sure to include a protein and a carbohydrate. This frequent eating, not grazing, helps to fuel your body and boost your metabolism.

Here are some great snack ideas:

  • One half banana or one medium apple with 1 Tbsp nut butter
  • ½ c lite peaches and ½ c low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 Tbsp hummus and ½ c sugar snap peas
  • 5 reduced fat Triscuits® with 1 oz low-fat cheese
  • One half of a whole-wheat pita stuffed with ½ c lite tuna or egg salad
  • One whole multi-grain English muffin topped with tomato sauce and 1 oz low-fat mozzarella cheese, then baked
  • 10 multi-grain Wheat Thins® with 1 oz low-fat string cheese
  • One small baked potato topped with salsa and 1 oz low-fat cheese
  • ½ c fruit blended with 1 c fat-free/low-fat yogurt and 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • ½ c goldfish crackers made with whole grain and a medium apple
  • Whole-wheat tortilla, topped with ½ c apples and low-fat cheddar cheese, and then heated in microwave
  • 9oz angel food cake or reduced fat biscuit with 1 c strawberries
  • One small baked sweet potato, topped with ½ c pineapple tidbits
  • 3 c low-fat popcorn with 2 Tbsp nuts

Start today by simplifying your health and weight goals by no longer counting calories, but making sure your caloric intake is sourced from the right types of food.

Click here to print off Easy “Mix and Match Meals” using the #plategoals method.

 

Roasting Vegetables 101

Oh, the smell of winter is in the air. The colder temperatures, snow, ice, winter coats, skiing, sledding and root vegetables. Can you tell this is an enjoyable time for me?

No, actually it isn’t. I don’t like cold, I don’t like skiing, and I’m not a big fan of snow. Yeah, yeah I know, I live in Illinois, but I’m still not use to it! However, I do love root vegetables because you can roast these vegetables and they are fabulous to eat. They are like a guilty pleasure, almost too good to be good for you! Plus, it is super, super easy to do.

Click here to print off Roasting Vegetables 101

Optional: Stir/turn the vegetables 1 to 2 times during the baking process.

When roasting vegetables, go easy on the oil, which is high in calories and fat. You may also consider substituting oil for balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, tamari, lemon, lime juice, etc.

When done roasting, serve them as a side dish, pile them on a sandwich, inside a panini, or puree them to make soup. Happy Eating!!

A perfectionist’s guide to New Year’s Resolutions

As we start a new year, we think about setting New Year’s Resolutions and so many of these resolutions focus around “perfecting” ourselves.  Well, let me tell you perfection is quite a funny thing because IT DOESN’T EXIST!!! When we try so very hard to reach the unattainable it can wreak havoc on our bodies and cause anxiety, tension, headaches, depression, etc. Thus, causing a destructive relationship around food.

How many times have you tried diet, after diet, after diet? You lose the weight and then gain the weight back, you know the old adage ‘yo-yo dieter’. We try to be perfectionist on the diet, but find we are trying to reach the unattainable and give up after a while because those food rules and deprivation aren’t working. Then the weight comes back on and the anxiety, tension, depression, etc. accelerates because we couldn’t be PERFECT.

So let’s try this year to let go of the perfectionistic thoughts and regain our relationship with food.

  1. Ask yourself why. Why do I want to fill in the blank?
  • What is the underlying perfectionistic tendency with this question? Is the WHY because of a life transition like children, spouse, marriage, divorce, career/career change, medical diagnosis, friendship, etc.? You can’t always have control over life events, so because of this are you trying to take control somewhere else, such as with food.

2. Embrace your diet imperfections.

  • I know this is hard, I struggle with it too, but I’m giving you permission this year to not be perfect. It’s okay to fail and give in from time to time allowing foods you desire to bring enjoyment and pleasure to eating. When you do this, your relationship with yourself and food will be that much more joyful.

3. Focus on mindful eating.

  • By being mindful of your eating, this allows you to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through your food selections. Using your senses can be both satisfying and nourishing. Thus, acknowledging your response to food without judgment and becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to help guide your food decisions.

How to Pick a Good One

We want to feed our family the best quality fruits and vegetables to balance your plate. When you are at the grocery store or farmers’ market, how do you pick fresh fruits and vegetables? Here are some ideas to help.

How to pick a good one

Watermelon:

  • Pick a watermelon that has a yellow belly. These large yellow spots indicate the watermelon is ripe and ready to eat.

Tomatoes:

  • If you are wanting the tomato for immediate use, pick a bright red tomato, but if you are wanting the tomato for future use, pick a pale pink/orange tomato.
  • Don’t store your tomatoes in the fridge. The colder temperature from the fridge causes the tomato to undergo a change that weakens the flavor and texture, which in turn causes it to ripen faster.

Peppers:

  • Store peppers in the fridge, unwashed in a plastic bag. Typically, red, yellow and orange peppers can last 4-5 days and green peppers last about a week.

Sweet Corn:

  • Feel the cob to see how tight the husk is on the cob. When the cob feels tight, it usually means there is a high water content in the corn kernels. This means the corn is fresh. Also, older husks will start to brown and have a more wrinkled texture.

Cantaloupe:

  • Look for a golden-colored melon with a clean, round hole where the stem was.
  • A little fact about melon: 1 cup of honeydew melon provides the same amount of potassium as a banana.

Asparagus:

  • Avoid purchasing asparagus with ‘woody’ ends. A sign of aging is dry, split ends. The ends should be compact, firm and dry.

Mango:

  • Give the mango a squeeze. If it is ripe, the mango will give a little without being squishy.

In the end, if unsure about the produce item, ask the vendor to share the tips and tricks for that particular fruit/vegetable.

Visit us this summer at the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market!

Megan Klemm

Bouncing Back after Baby

There are some things that you just don’t quite fully understand until you experience it yourself. Many of you would agree that having a baby is at the top of that list. Like many women, I faced several challenges throughout my pregnancy including nausea, heartburn and intense cravings. When we came home from the hospital with our sweet Oliver, I practically had Google on speed dial since I had questions about EVERYTHING!  About a month later, I finally began to feel like myself again and had the same thought that every new mom has eventually…how will I get my pre-pregnancy body back? Here are some things I have learned about body after baby.

Bouncing Back After Baby

photos by Kaitlin Powell Photography and Designs

For starters, I would encourage you to let nature take the lead. Counting calories can be stressful. Counting calories with a newborn would be a nightmare, so I highly recommend that you do not take this route (unless you are having difficulties maintaining a healthy weight). Women who are breastfeeding also have increased nutrient needs and many calorie counting apps do not take this into consideration when estimating calorie goals. Most resources agree that breastfeeding requires an extra 300-500 calories above what resting metabolic needs are but it’s not uncommon for a breastfeeding mom to require even more calories than this. Mom’s activity level, body fat percent and baby’s feeding intake (think how this changes with growth spurts) can all influence how many additional calories are needed.  

Prego Figge

Try to return to your normal eating habits as quickly as possible. This took a couple of weeks for me. I found that I had Oliver glued to my chest and struggled with balancing time for grocery shopping, cooking and meal planning. I was relying more on processed foods with added sugars which ultimately made me feel like garbage. Once my eggs, fish, chicken and veggies found their way back into my belly, my mood, energy level and tummy all became much happier campers.

Make sure that you are not comparing yourself to other post-partum women. One of my guilty pleasures is those celebrity magazines you find at the check-out lane at the grocery store. New mom celebrities always make headlines with how great their bodies look just weeks after delivery. Access to personal chefs, full-time nannies and in-home training sessions is simply not a reality to us ‘everyday Janes’. Believe me, you can still achieve bikini-bod results again, it may just take a little while longer than our celeb gal pals. In addition to celebs, try your hardest not to compare yourself to your other new-mommy friends. How you carried your baby, when you gained your weight during pregnancy, energy level and hormones are just a few of the hundred factors that affect how the pregnancy weight comes off.

Be smart about returning to exercise. If you know me, you know how much I value physical activity; however, early postpartum Amanda didn’t have one lick of interest in going back to the gym. I have friends who were back to jogging a couple weeks postpartum and here I found myself sore for a whole day after taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. You have got to listen to your body and understand that now is not the time to push it. It just performed a miraculous feat for you and pushing it too hard, too soon can delay your recovery time. On the flip side, once my body had completely recovered (after about 8 weeks), I did make it back to the gym and boy did that endorphin rush feel good again!

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Everyone told me that a baby will change you. They’re right. A baby does change a lot of things, but it didn’t change my core values of health. I know how valuable my kitchen and barbells are in my life and once they became part of my routine again, my body began to bounce back to its original shape. To maximize time with my family, I switched up my gym routine and even purchased more equipment to do workouts at home. Sundays became big meal prep days so I could spend more of my weeknight evenings playing with my little guy. While body after baby is a little softer and curvier, I remind myself of the great story it now tells. 

Amanda Figge

Turn Your Weakness into Strength

Weaknesses. We all have them regardless if we are willing to admit it or not. They come in all shapes and sizes whether it is managing a budget, running behind all the time, hitting the gym regularly or donuts. Regardless of where in your life your weakness shows up, these words of wisdom will make you better tomorrow: “Turn your weakness into strength.” Before you stop reading, let me tell you one thing, “Yes. It. Is. Possible.”

Turn your weakness into strength

2012 Weakness: Not cooking

2013 Strength: Cooking everything!

Here is an interesting fact about myself—I never really learned how to cook until after I was married. Sure, I knew how to heat up frozen vegetables, boil pasta and where to find the rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, but preparing menus from scratch was a whole other ballgame. My husband and I both felt that something was off in our diets so we decided to do the Whole30 challenge early on in our marriage. This is a month long commitment that encourages you to cut out all processed foods and places an emphasis on cooking all of your meals from scratch. Even though it completely pushed me out of my comfort zone, I couldn’t be happier with the result…I became a cook! I learned how to cook fish, chicken and a variety of meats. My spice cabinet doubled in volume and I introduced a wide variety of new vegetables into our eating habits. Even though this challenge was almost 4 years ago, I continue to cook all of our meals from scratch. Doing this saves us $$$ from not going out to eat and increases our nutrient intake.

2012 Weakness: Ego

2016 Strength: Listening to my body

This month at the gym, I hit a 143 lb. power clean and can now proudly squat more than my body weight. These are weights I have been chasing after for over two years but being plagued by back and neck injuries, I was never able to push my lifts to the next level. One of the main reasons I was repeatedly injuring myself was that I was not listening to my body. I would try to give 110% with lifting when my body was only feeling 80% healthy. My coaches would always remind me to “leave my ego at the door” but that sucker had a permanent hang-out spot right on my shoulder. Like a lot of you, I also tend to be very impatient with healing/recovery time. If I was injured, I would often rush back into things too quickly.

Learning to back off when my body wasn’t feeling at its best was a very hard challenge for me and it certainly didn’t happen overnight. I slowly became more aware of what movements triggered pain and how to listen to my body more closely when performing certain exercises. I became more comfortable with modifying workouts (even if it was for a week or two straight) to make them more adaptive to my body’s needs. Instead of going for a max lift, I would work on form and use a lighter weight. Doing regular accessory work has also been a great value to my back health. Many people think physical therapy or even chiropractic care is something you do just to rehab an injury. Keeping up with your exercises, stretches and check-ups (long after your injuries have healed) is one of the reasons you won’t have to be referred back to PT! It has taken several years of injuries, tears, frustration and headaches, but I can finally say today that I am much smarter about the way I work out and being more in tuned with my body. Let me tell you that the patience and perseverance is certainly paying off!

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You see, I was able to turn two major weaknesses that impacted my health into strengths. Some changes were easier to make than others, but with determination and the right amount of dedication, it is possible! Regardless of how major you feel your weakness is, there is always opportunity and growth to turn that weakness into strength!

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Amanda Figge