Count containers, not calories

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If counting calories drives you nuts, you’re not alone. As hard as I try to log my food on my Fitbit – or even in a journal – I just can’t keep up with it.

That’s why I love Beachbody’s Portion Fix Containers. They make it effortless to plan and keep track of meals, so you can enjoy your food without having to do the math.

The Containers

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Photo courtesy of Beachbody, LLC

The Plans

The plans stretch from A-F depending on your caloric needs, which are determined by a simple formula. Once you find your plan, you won’t have to do any calorie counting. If it’s on the list of approved items and fits in your container (with the lid closed) – you can eat it!

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Breakfast (or a snack) made easy!

It sounds basic because it is. I can’t tell you how much time this simple system has saved me. Most of the Beachbody programs use these containers, but even if you’re not into fitness, you can still use them to eat the right amounts and better your health.

I’ve always been Plan A for all the programs, but in week 3 of 80 Day Obsession, I noticed I was frequently hungry in the afternoon and evening. I decided to bump myself to Plan B and feel so much better. I’m allowed 4 veggies, 4 proteins, 3 fruits, 3 carbs, 1 healthy fat, 1 oil/seeds, and four teaspoons. That ends up being a shit ton of food – enough to sustain me through the 400+ calorie burns I’ve been experiencing with 80 Day.

The Cookbook

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The Fixate cookbook is a fabulous edition Beachbody’s line of products. It was created by Autumn Calabrese – Beachbody super trainer, with a mile long list of credentials. I love it because each recipe already has the container counts listed. The only way it would get easier is if she came to your house and cooked all your meals! Hey, I wouldn’t mind that. Would you?

If you want more great recipes, you can also check out the Fixate cooking show, where Autumn and her brother Bobby team up to deliver all the healthy goodness.

The bottom line: If I were to recommend only one product from Beachbody’s nutrition line, this would be it. Affordable. Useful. Effective. What more can you ask for?

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Photo courtesy of Beachbody, LLC

Click here for a video breakdown of the the entire container system.

The Showdown: Whole30 vs. 21-Day Sugar Detox

You might be wondering why a girl who swore she’d never do another Whole30 again, just completed a 21-Day Sugar Detox. Aren’t they practically the same?

Well, there are many similarities when it comes to what food groups you can and can’t eat, but in my opinion, the other restrictions put on the Whole30 can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food.

Whole30

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The premise of the program is to eat clean, whole foods for 30 days, but of course, that’s just the first layer of a very well thought out program. Eat three meals a day, large and nutritious enough to sustain you until your next meal. Don’t skip breakfast. Stop eating a few hours before you go to bed. Veggies are “required” at every meal and fruits, which should be eaten sparingly, can be eaten with a meal. Snacking is discouraged – not forbidden – but it really depends on how active your lifestyle is.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits, healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, condiments, and supplements like collagen
  • NO Foods: added sugar in all forms (even honey), alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, protein or meal replacement shakes, and the recreation of baked goods, junk food, or treats turned into healthier options.

21-Day Sugar Detox

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The Sugar Detox is all about cutting sweet cravings naturally to eliminate short and long-term side effects of sugar addiction including mood swings, fatigue, depression, and even PCOS. There are three levels to the program, and all meal plans include three meals and a snack – which definitely comes in handy during the gap between lunch and dinner.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits (only green-tipped bananas, green apples, and grapefruit) healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, homemade condiments without sugar or date paste, and supplements like 100% pure protein powder
  • NO Foods: gluten-containing grains, starchy veggies like cassava and plantains, legumes, cashews, all other fruits, dairy, alcohol, supplements with multiple ingredients (like Shakeology)
  • Plan 1: The least strict, allows for the addition of gluten-free grains, legumes, and full-fat dairy
  • Plan 2: The in-between plan, allows for full-fat dairy
  • Plan 3: The most strict, avoids both gluten-free grains and full-fat dairy

The similarities

Both programs…

  • focus on cutting cravings and eating healthier by eliminating foods that may cause triggers or irritation over a period of time.
  • observe and encourage a reintroduction period after completion of the main program.

The differences

Helloooooo Captain Obvious – one is 30 days, the other is 21. Wink wink.

Sweeteners

Whole30 gives you options when it comes to using natural sugars – sweeten ketchup or bbq sauce with date paste, choose any fruit you’d like as long as it’s eaten with a meal, and grab a Larabar or RX Bar to snack on the go.

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The beautiful variety.

21-Day Sugar Detox says NO to any kind of sugars, whether natural or artificial, you can only choose between green apples, grapefruit, and green-tipped bananas, but they don’t have to be eaten with a meal, and really, you’ll be hard-pressed to find compliant on-the-go snacks.

Treats & Desserts

Whole30 says absolutely NOT to recreating desserts, the creators even coined the phrase SWYPO (Sex with Your Pants On) to describe this. The basic premise is that your eating habits and behaviors will remain the same if you keep eating the way you always have. If you regularly eat doughnuts for breakfast, recreating paleo doughnuts doesn’t do a thing to change your old habit.

21-Day Sugar Detox is pretty lax when it comes to this, in fact, there are recipes for pumpkin pancakes, coconut milk smoothies, apple cinnamon doughnuts, and almond butter cups right in the back of the book! (One day I even made banana pancakes for breakfast and I didn’t feel so restricted to EGGS – see photo.)

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Quick and easy banana “pancakes”

Snacking

Whole30 says to limit snacking unless you have a very busy or active lifestyle, in which case it’s unavoidable.

21-Day Sugar Detox says YES ma’am to snacking and even has it built right into the meal plan. This was helpful at work and actually kept me AWAY from the vending machines because I had enough food throughout the day.

Overall

After the Whole30 I could not wait to go back to my previous (aka gluttonous) ways of eating. The perceived restriction was just too much. I felt like a little kid being told no – it just made me want to break the rules even more! I mean, what harm can one paleo doughnut do?

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Whole30 perfect plate.

The program definitely wasn’t intended this way, but I replaced my sugary junk food (not allowed) with sugary fruits and Whole30 packaged snacks (allowed) and ended up feeling guilty for it. Of course, my taste profile didn’t change because I was still relying on sweet things to get me by.

I didn’t lose any weight or experience any miraculous changes. If anything, I just felt hungry and powerless. I rebelled against the lifestyle that was essentially trying to help. Then I ended up going on vacation soon after and pretty much ruined any of the progress I had made.

After the 21-Day Sugar Detox, I jumped right into the reintroduction period, as advised, and walked away with a healthier mindset. I didn’t have any desire to wreck the progress I made.

During the 21-Day Sugar Detox I made healthier choices – granola made with nuts instead of grains, coconut flour doughnuts “sweetened” with applesauce, chia pudding. All of these were recreated treats (SWYPO in Whole30 lingo), and yet, after the Detox, I had absolutely NO desire to run to Dunkin’ and scarf down a dozen “real” doughnuts. Why? Because I didn’t feel deprived for an ENTIRE freakin’ month.

I didn’t indulge in sugary sweets because I didn’t have the option – it just wasn’t in my meal plan. So, over the course of 21 days, my tastes started to change. I no longer craved super sweet things, but was content with spicy, or even better, umami. And banana with almond butter tasted pretty damn near dessert!

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These two give me that umami fix!

Today is day 29 and I’m almost done with my reintroduction period, with no desire to stuff my face with any of my old favorite junk foods – I have untouched ice cream and salt and vinegar kettle chips in my kitchen as I type.

The bottom line: So, which method is right for you? Maybe one, maybe both, maybe even none! All I can do is provide you with my experiences and tell you to do your own research. Many people swear by the Whole30. It’s definitely more popular, but does that make it better? In my opinion, the 21-Day Sugar Detox is very realistic and achievable while the Whole30 is quite the opposite and fosters an unhealthy relationship with food.

An obsession is coming 

Photo property of Beachbody, LLC

This January, Autumn Calabrese is back with a new Beachbody fitness program. You know her – celebrity fitness trainer and creator of 21 Day Fix, Country Heat, and the cooking show Fixate, to name a few.

80-Day Obsession – a program designed to sculpt your abs and booty.

When the news first broke at the beginning of the month, I was less than thrilled. An 80-day program? That’s like a lifetime. I quickly dismissed the idea and went back to Letting Shi(f)t Go.

Then I thought about it. In the scheme of things, 80 days is not very long. It’s less than three months – the probationary period before benefits kick in at a new job, the first trimester of pregnancy, a quarter of a year. In fact, several other Beachbody programs run longer. In other words, it’s doable.

I thought about chunking the program into four 20-day cycles and how each new cycle would be an opportunity to take before and after photos, reset the mind, and begin anew. It would be good to challenge myself to make a BIG commitment, and to show others that even with a full-time job, a family, and a few freelance jobs on the side, it’s still totally possible to work on yourself. Now I’m actually excited for it to begin!

What I know

  • The program lasts 80 days (duh) and will begin in January
  • New workouts are released every Monday-Friday
  • High-intensity workouts build on previous ones – no repeats
  • Times vary from 45-60 minutes a day (much like in Core de Force)
  • It follows the container system, with precise guidelines of when to eat what
  • There will be tacos!

Preparation

So maybe you aren’t in the mindset to fully commit right now. It’s going to be an extreme 80 days. Luckily, you still have about four months to get your mind and body ready for it. Start by completing some of Autumn’s other programs – 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and Hammer & Chisel.

Before you say “Oh, hell no!” I encourage you to believe in yourself. Before you think you can’t commit to 80 days, see my idea for breaking it down (above). Before you say that 45-60 minutes a day is just unreasonable, remember that a one-hour workout is just 4% of your day. It might take some rearranging of your schedule (I wake up at 5 am to get my workout in before I go to my day job), but it’s definitely worth it. Your body (and your mind) will thank you.

Always remember – nothing is impossible.

A post-workout bite

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Recovery is an important part of fitness. Sometimes you don’t realize that until you’re so sore, you can’t even get out of bed the morning after an intense training session. Never underestimate the power of the cool down and a good post-workout meal.

A couple of months ago I stumbled across a company, ToYou Healthy Snacks, that makes – you guessed it! – healthy snack bars, including a delicious Post-Workout.

According to CEO Sergio Font, the company was created to “share passion for both a nutritious and active lifestyle.” If this doesn’t resonate with me, I don’t know what does. In fact, it aligns right with my mission to “inspire others to live fit, healthy, and happy lives.”

What you see is what you get.

There are no additives or preservatives, and the bars are gluten free and filling. The perfect post-workout snack to fuel the day and calm hunger. Easy on the go (and an excellent topping for yogurt), these bars help speed up my recovery time.

Each of the seven simple ingredients serves a purpose and complements each other. Salty, savory, and subtly sweet – you won’t even taste the veggies!

Cashews

My favorite! These nuts are high in fat (the good kind) and protein and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The magnesium supports healthy bones and nerves.

Dried Spinach

This veggie is packed, and I mean PACKED with vitamins. It’s rich in iron, vitamins K, A, B12, & C, folic acid, manganese, and magnesium. The question here is what doesn’t it do for you?

Hemp Protein Powder

A great source of digestible protein. It’s loaded with calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and more. It’s also a great natural anti-inflammatory.

Mint Chips

These chips add a burst of sweet flavor to the bars and give it a desserty feel. Mint promotes digestion by easing inflammation and prompting our glands to secrete digestive enzymes. It’s a good post-workout herb because it aids the circulation of energy and helps calm inflammation.

Sweet Potato

I am obsessed with sweet potatoes. Not only are they completely yummy and versatile, but they are filled with vitamins that help keep us healthy. Vitamin C produces collagen, which reduces cellulite and keeps our skin looking young and fresh; vitamin D builds strong bones and boosts our energy levels; magnesium helps keep the calm and aids in muscle repair. These are good carbs.

Chia Bran

Chia is fun. You can use the seeds to grow a funky kind of pet – think about those 90s commercials! Or you can eat it and nourish your body with some good stuff. It’s gluten free and has more fiber than plain old bran cereal. Chia is also a good source of healthy fat and has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s known to improve mental focus.

Brown Rice Syrup

When I spoke to a representative from ToYou, I specifically asked about this ingredient. It’s a sweetener created from brown rice, somewhat similar to maple syrup or honey. There are trace amounts of minerals, but it’s just a binding agent that is minimally used in all of the bars.

Tell me, how do you recover?

For more information about the Post-Workout bars and ToYou’s entire line of healthy snack bars, visit toyousnacks.com

 

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by ToYou Healthy Snacks. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

The Weight Loss Equation 

Did you know that there’s a pill you can take before bed that shrinks your waist by a few inches before morning? No? Well, that’s because it doesn’t exist (yet, anyway). Losing weight and keeping it off takes work. The equation is simple, but the process isn’t always easy.

Healthy Eating + Exercise = A Healthier You

I used to think that I could work out 3-5 days a week and keep eating crap. Then, when I didn’t see any movement on the scale I would get discouraged and give up. That’s the cycle most of us fall into. One day of bad eating or a missed workout isn’t going to do damage, but if it becomes a habit, it will. Like so, one good day of working out and eating clean won’t produce change.  It’s like Darren Hardy describes in his book The Compound Effect, small movements or actions over time will add up.

Make Healthy Choices

I love pizza and wish I could eat it every day. I still enjoy it, but in moderation. Instead of four slices, I’ll have 1-2 (depending on the size) with a side salad. Eat lean protein, healthy fat, good carbs, veggies, and minimal fruit. I don’t follow a specific diet or base my daily meals off the food pyramid. I’m mostly paleo, like the idea of the Whole30 plate structure, severely limit processed junk, and use portion control containers to make sure I’m not overdoing it. I don’t recommend one eating program over the next – I think you should do what’s right for your body and your lifestyle. I will say that I’m totally against smoking and any other unhealthy habits that cause bodily harm. Do yourself a favor and keep it clean!

Know Your Triggers

Are there foods that you love so much that you just can’t stop eating them once you get started? I feel that way about sour patch kids (a processed food exception!), kettle corn, and black cherries, to name a few. You might be thinking, “Whoa, wait a minute, cherries are healthy.” And they are – in moderation. But they are a food with no breaks for me, which means I can easily eat a full bag. And that can pack in over 300 calories, 52 grams of sugar, and 76 carbohydrates. Even though they are rich in vitamins and minerals, natural foods can be dangerous too. When possible, I do best when I limit trigger foods, because I know I really can’t get away with eating just one.

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These are the 21 Day Fix Portion Control Containers I use to get the right amounts!

Eat Slowly

It takes about 20 minutes for us to feel full (unless you’re me because I have the stomach of a dog and can eat for days. Second dinner, anyone?) Sit down to eat and chew slowly. It’s not a race and you don’t have to be the first one finished.

Eat The Correct Portions

When you go out to eat, your meal is generally not just one portion. That’s why most of us end up taking the leftovers home for another time. When you prepare and serve your own food, stick to the recommended serving sizes on the packaging. It really does make a world of difference because the serving sizes are usually much less than we would expect.

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This is a serving of fruit – 1 cup.

Stop Eating When You’re Full

Remember when your mom used to make you clean your plate? Well, you’re not 6 anymore. Don’t feel guilty about stopping when you’re full. You don’t have to toss the food – save it for the next day’s lunch.

Burn More Calories Than You Consume

I don’t advocate counting calories, because 150 calories of ice cream and 150 of grilled chicken will NOT get you the same results. So, sometimes it’s pointless. But I recently started plugging my daily meals and snacks into my Fitbit App and man was I stunned. Maybe horrified is a better word. What I thought was a a relatively healthy breakfast – lemon poppy seed muffin and a strawberry sunshine smoothie – turned into an 810 calorie breakfast. I think my reaction was “Holy Shit.” I didn’t count my calories for about a month after that experience. And then I decided to change how I was eating. Muffins = not good for me because they are loaded with carbs and sugar and don’t keep me full. My daily intake now is about 1,200 calories of predominately paleo (and healthy) foods. See what works for your body and run with it.

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Calories burned after a kick-ass MMA inspired workout.

Drink Water

I can’t say it enough. I even wrote a post about it last year. Water is good for everything – your skin, muscle soreness and recovery, your kidneys, the list goes on. Get a water bottle you like and drink up. I really like my Healthy Human water bottle because it keeps my water cold for hours and even overnight.

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This is my LIFESAVER. Without it, I wouldn’t get in my daily ounces.

Move Your Body

When you have a desk job, it isn’t always easy to get moving. I typically get 9,000-11,000 steps in per day, but I’m always on the move (I’ll save that for another post). You can easily add a few steps by walking to the break room to refill your water bottle or taking a trip to the farthest bathroom. When driving to a destination, don’t wait for a front row spot to open up. Park at a distance and take a leisurely stroll. Window shop!

Find A Workout You Love*

I used to hate working out. I don’t enjoy anything that causes me to be in pain – like bikini waxes (*shudders*). I stumbled upon a dance workout that is super fun and I love it! It’s good to mix it up and include cardio, weight lifting, yoga, HIIT, and others. You want to be motivated enough to workout at least 5 days a week. If one program doesn’t work, try another, and keep trying until you find your fit.

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Photo is the property of Beachbody, LLC.

Ditch The Scale

I’m serious. I weigh more now than I did in college, but I’m in better shape. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat. Focus on the non-scale victories. Do your pants fit better? Can you see that definition in your arms? Are you sleeping better? Do you have fewer cravings? The list of benefits goes on and on.

Reward Yourself, But Not With Food

I used to let myself have ice cream or candy after a workout because I thought I deserved it. Now that sounds completely ridiculous to me. Today I prefer a sudsy shower or bubbly bath. You shower every day after your workout (I would hope!), so why not make it something to really look forward to? I have sugar scrubs, rich lathers, and a nice cream to put on after. I save the baths for when my muscles are sore and drop in a bath bomb, some Epsom salts, or a scented bubble bar. Candles are a nice touch too!

To recap, there is no special pill, miracle cream, or pixie dust that will make you a size 2. It just takes consistency, persistence, motivation, and willpower. Keep it up and you’ll see results before you know it.

*Visit teambeachbody.com/KPfitMiss for more information on workout programs, to sign up for Beachbody On Demand, and to request me as your FREE coach!

 

Cookie Heaven

If you love coconut, you have to try Rickaroons, and I mean HAVE TO! They are healthy desserts that your taste buds will crave. I mean, how often can you call a cookie an “energizing snack” that is vegan, gluten free, 100% organic, non-GMO, Paleo, soy free AND totally delicious? Answer: not often.

The Rickaroon Team is run by the father-son partnership of Rick and Grant LeBeau. Would you believe that the idea for these cookies started with love? Intrigued? Read the full story here.

Rickaroons come in several yummy flavors: Mocha, Chocolate Blonde, Mint to Be, Megaroon (with chia seeds and Cacao Nibs), and Rick-Or-Treat (Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate). Other healthy ingredients include coconut (of course!) espresso beans, coconut palm nectar, and almond butter.

Treat yourself (or a friend)

All of the Rickaroons are reasonably priced at $25 a dozen, $26 for a dozen variety pack, and $12 for 4-pack sampler (Rick-Or-Treat not included).

Are you a BIG fan? You can even get Rickeroons delivered right to your door each month at a 10% discount. You’ll never run out – how awesome is that?

For more information and to purchase, visit rickaroons.com

 

DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by Rickeroons. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Peas, please

When I saw an ad for dairy-free milk made from peas, I just had to try it. I mean, doesn’t that sound interesting?

Ripple Milk is high in protein and low in sugar. In addition to dairy-free, this plant-based milk is also vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free. And the best part? Ripple is allergy friendly – free of the top 8 allergens, including nuts, which makes it a great alternative to almond or cashew milk for those with dairy AND nut allergies! All products are certified non-GMO.

I love that this company puts a focus on sustainability. Ripple is doing its part to help the planet one bottle at a time, following the principles of the Butterfly (or Ripple) Effect – how one small movement can produce a mountain of change.

Yellow peas are better for you and the earth. The“bottles are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic that can be recycled by 99% of US households.” Check out their site for some pretty impressive environmental statistics.

But, it’s made from peas. Does it taste like peas?

No way! Two of the toughest food critics I know (my mom and grandma) gave this beverage two thumbs up. “It tastes like a milkshake.” And that it does.  Dairy-free never tasted so good!

Ripple Vanilla

This recipe is completely delicious and tastes just like a creamy vanilla shake. Each serving is packed with 8 grams of plant-based protein and it has less sugar than other flavored milk and more calcium than dairy milk. Add Ripple Vanilla to cereal, stir it into recipes, or drink alone. I prefer mine with a side of gluten-free cookies!

Visit ripplefoods.com for more information and check out their store locator to see where you can get your own bottles of this delicious drink!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Ripple. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.