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6 Simple Health + Fitness Guidelines That Actually Work

6 Simple Health + Fitness Guidelines

The entire internet is filled with different fat loss tips, trends and topics. This can make it tough knowing either where to begin with a new health and fitness program, or if what you’re currently doing is good and/or working for your body.

As a fitness professional, I sometimes laugh at what is out there on social media and other times I get really frustrated at advice that is not sound information. It seems all of this healthy talk does one thing very well: over complicates things.

In one corner we’ve got pictures of people with super lean bodies who tell you that you too can look like this, you just have to workout 2-3 hours a day and count every single macronutrient you put into your body. And in the other corner we’ve got those who insist that going for a walk in the park and meditating will entirely change your world for the better. While the above opinions are not incorrect, it doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you.

So, what is?

The following six guidelines are simple, straight forward and proven to work. You don’t have to implement all six at once either. Begin with one until it becomes consistent and a habit, then add in another.

Six Health + Fitness Guidelines:

Strength train 2-5 days/week: Put simply, lift heavy weights often. This doesn’t mean go over to the rack of dumbbells and pick up the largest one you see. But when choosing your exercise routine, incorporate loads that will challenge you. I’m a big fan of short yet challenging workouts and am often out of the gym within 30 minutes. These workouts consist of big compound movements (squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups etc.) that get the entire body moving and working hard.

Choose foods that are in their natural, whole state as often as possible: You know the drill here, keep processed foods to a minimum. Eat foods that will nourish you and leave you feeling energized rather than bogged down and bloated. This may mean you do a little bit more cooking but there are SO many recipes out there that are delish and don’t take very long to make. Trust me, I am not a fan of being in the kitchen so meals that are easy to prep and cook are key and totally possible.

Have protein with every meal: This is one of my favorites. A lot of us underestimate the power of protein and how much we are actually eating. This is usually the first habit I will introduce a client to because increasing your protein intake has so many benefits:

  • Increase energy
  • Keeps you full for longer, decreasing hunger cravings later on
  • Increases metabolic rate
  • Maintain lean muscle mass when trying to lose body fat

Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep (or sleep quality) disrupts proper hormone function in the body which leads to: increased hunger (and therefore fat gain), increased stress, increased fatigue, decreased cognitive function and much more. Read more about the importance of sleep here. Also note that our bodies recover while we sleep. So for someone who is exercising it is especially important to get sufficient quality sleep. Tips for better sleep:

  • Get in bed a half hour earlier than usual
  • No electronics a half hour before lights out
  • Keep your bedroom very dark
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
  • If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, see a doctor to have blood work done to see if there is an underlying cause that could be creating this symptom.

Drink enough water: Mild dehydration can cause daytime fatigue, loss in energy and concentration, can decrease strength, cause cramping and many other issues. The concerning thing here is that majority of us are a little dehydrated. It is recommended that we drink a minimum of 8 cups of water per day. This of course is dependent on the individual, someone who exercises daily should consume more than this. I normally recommend clients have .6 ounces per pound of body weight each day. However, as many of us don’t drink enough water to begin with this can seem like a lot. So start by simply adding in one extra cup (8 ounces) of water into your day. A few benefits of proper hydration:

  • Healthier joints and tissue (fascia)
  • Increased brain function
  • Helps the body process and transfer nutrients
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Suppresses appetite (increases fat loss)

I challenge you right now to figure out how much water you’re consuming each day. Is it enough?

Don’t stress, brush it off: Here’s the thing with health and fitness: it’s a part of life. Which means there will be days that just aren’t totally on point. Whether it be a crappy or missed workout, too many cocktails, a day where you ate literally everything in sight. Shit happens and we can’t always feel guilty or stressed about our actions. Being able learn from this but then move on and improve is where the true magic happens.

 

3 Simple Steps for a Healthier You This Weekend

With spring quickly approaching I am starting to hear some of my least favorite terms pop up such as “bikini body” and “beach ready.” People are going to see us prancing around half naked soon so better start watching what we eat!

 Our health is not temporary, but sometimes our actions toward it are. 

 What sense does that make? Yet we are constantly focusing on quick fixes that will make us feel good for a tiny bit before heading back to our normal (and less healthy) way of life. Take these examples, for instance:

 – 21 day cleanses: Our nutrition + exercise are on point during this, we feel and look great. But come day 22 you could probably be found at the local pizzeria and maybe be seen with a pint of ice cream afterward. But hey, you cleansed for 21 days so now you can reward your body and binge..yay!

– You’re going on vacation soon: Clearly we need to clean up our eating and hit the gym a bunch so we look better while laying on the beach. I get it, we want to look and feel good especially while wearing less clothing and there’s nothing wrong with that. What I do have a problem with is what happens next:

 – You’re on vacation: Which means we get to start drinking at 10am, continue cocktailing for the entire day and eating whatever we want because “we’re on vacation and totally deserve a break.” A BREAK FROM WHAT? Being healthy? Giving a shit about what you put into your body? Shouldn’t this matter all of the time?

 – It’s the weekend: Yay! It’s time for takeout, Netflix, sleeping in a little, going out to dinner and ordering whatever you want because it’s Saturday and who cares. Followed by 5 too many drinks and a hangover on Sunday. But no worries..because “tomorrow is Monday and I’ll totally start to be good again.”

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Health and fitness do not have to be all or nothing.
There is an in between.
Find it, learn it, live it.

 I used to be that Monday clean slate girl. I’d make sure nothing naughty was left in the house Sunday evening and the following morning I’d have a green smoothie with protein for breakfast and all was right in the world again. It’s no way to live. Treating our bodies with respect all year round is the best way to stay consistent and achieve results. Once you’re able to find that balance you will enjoy either a salad with grilled chicken or a hamburger and fries for lunch, no matter what day of the week or time of the year it is. 

 How can we find that in between ground where we’re mindful of our health but are still able to enjoy food we love? Since it’s Friday, let’s start with 3 simple guidelines for the weekend:

 1. Have protein with every meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and maybe a snack- you better believe there needs to be protein on your plate. 

 Why? Protein helps us to feel full longer after a meal so you’re less hungry later. It requires more energy to digest so we burn more calories after eating it. It also helps to manage blood sugar and insulin, and triggers protein synthesis helping us to increase lean mass which burns more calories each day.

 Need I say more?

 2. Exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes, maximum of 60. Let’s do this twice this weekend (I’m including Friday into the weekend so you’ve got 2/3 days to get this in). The workout you choose to do is up to you, but here are the parameters:

 -Choose a form of exercise you enjoy doing.

 -The more intense the workout, the shorter the duration. Maybe you’re going to do as many rounds of squats, overhead press, bent-over rows and mountain climbers as possible within 20 minutes. Great, go for it (but remember quality form over quantity of reps). Or perhaps you’d prefer to go for a walk with your dogs or a friend for an hour. Cool. Get moving, get outside and enjoy.

 3. Set up a drink maximum. Yes, we’ve got parties to attend and dinner with friends. That doesn’t mean you have to have a bottle of wine to yourself. Before you head out decide how many drinks you’ll indulge in. (I usually recommend a 2 drink max per event for clients, *hint hint*).

 Summer is right around the corner but that doesn’t mean the healthiest you has to be too. Start this weekend. Because maybe if you do these 3 things over the next 3 days, you’ll realize they’re not so bad. You’ll incorporate them into Monday, Tuesday, and then why not for the duration of the week, month, and your life (Yes, my hopes are high but not unrealistic).

 I want you to see, know and understand you can still have a blast while sticking to a few healthy habits– leading to consistency and an all out better-than-you’ve-ever-been you.

 Now go get it.  <3

Simple Pulled Chicken Recipe + 3 Easy Meal Ideas

The necessities for my dinner recipes: they must be easy, quick to prepare and gluten free. Cooking is not something I enjoy spending time on so if I see a recipe I like I’m usually tweaking it to cut the preparation time down. I also almost always double a recipe so there are leftovers for the following day or two.

The other day I had an “oh shit” moment. It was 5:00pm and I forgot to think about dinner! Well, we ended up ordering sushi but it prompted me to think about the following day and I decided I’d make pulled chicken in the slow cooker. We’ve now had it for dinner and lunch twice, all in different variations. 

Easiest. Recipe. Ever. = A very happy Cait.

What You Need:

  • 2-3lbs of chicken breast, depending on how much you want to make. I buy organic and free range almost always
  • 2 cups of chicken broth. I use Pacific’s Organic Bone Broth for the extra protein and nutrients. *Note: Can also use water. The amount of liquid you use should vary based upon how much broth you want left once it’s finished cooking. I like it with a good amount of broth so it keeps moist when stored. If the broth evaporates a lot I’ll add more in while cooking.
  • 1 yellow or white onion, sliced into small pieces
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of parsley and oregano 
  • *Note: I used 2.5lbs of chicken which made enough for 2 people, 2 dinners and 2 lunches each

What To Do: 

  • Place chicken breast in the slow cooker
  • Pour broth over the chicken
  • Add in onion
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, parsley and oregano
  • Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours
  • *Add in additional broth if needed so chicken breasts are mostly covered
  • 30 minutes before finished, put the chicken on a cutting board and shred apart with 2 forks, then put back in slow cooker for the remaining time

Pulled chicken

Now that we’ve got this yummy chicken, what can we do with it? I have no problem throwing it on a plate with some veggies and maybe some chips or fries for a little crunch, but that can get a little boring. Here’s what we had this week:

  • Chicken Tacos: Sautéed peppers and onions, shredded cheese (I used goats gouda..YUM), pulled chicken, finely chopped cilantro and avocado thrown on a tortilla (I like Udi’s gluten free, I also really like corn tortillas but am staying away from corn for the time being).
  • Chicken + Quinoa Bowl: Quinoa, pulled chicken, black beans and diced avocado mixed together in a dish. Add melted cheese on top and some extra broth to make this more of a soup consistency.
  • Chicken Salad: Put the pulled chicken over greens such as spinach, lettuce or baby kale. Add in chopped celery, walnuts and sliced grapes with an extra sprinkle of pepper on top.

Enjoy these and if you come up with a recipe of your own using the pulled chicken, tell me about it in the comments section or tag me with a pic on Instagram @CoachCait  🙂