Establishing a Routine: Consistency

Consistency is key. We all have heard those three words countless times but it’s a phrase that must not be overlooked. I personally believe that we live in a society that overvalues quick fixes and is reactionary instead of proactive. We go on diets because we are overweight instead of living a healthy lifestyle routinely. We start exercising only to stop because something else is more important. I was guilty of this for a long time. I would hit my P90X hard during the summer when I had more time. Then, as I got busy, I would start missing workouts every now and then until October/November when I would just stop completely and wait for summer to come around again. I changed that and have had my workout routine/nutrition dialed in for the last 2.5 years and feel better than I ever have. Here are some elements of what I do:

  1. Workout 5-6 times per week for 30-60 minutes. That’s it. I get it done before school because that’s what works best for me and I move on with my day. I don’t let myself skip and I stay with on track with a schedule
  2. I track my progress with a calendar that I print out and cross off the days I complete. This gives me a visual aid to keep me locked in.
  3. Weight, Body Fat, and Nutrition are tracked precisely so I can make adjustments to my diet as needed for my goals.
  4. I track the “fun” foods. And yes, I still have cake. I just am concerned about being precise and fitting the bonus foods (in moderation) into my calorie and macro-nutrient goals. This way I don’t have “cheat meals” that break the consistency and aren’t tracked.
  5. Make the above a high priority and it will slowly become habit. This didn’t happen all at once for me but now it’s a part of who I am.

If you are frustrated with your fitness level, ask yourself if you are being consistent. If not, I challenge you to make the commitment to turn that around. Take small steps to make the change, don’t get discouraged if you fall, and make being consistent your new goal!

The Eat Out Fix

Here are my tips on making eating out work while tracking your calories. The best part is that you CAN STILL EAT OUT but you need to make good choices and plan ahead. Ultimately the more you can food prep at home the better it will be for you (and your budget). That said, here are four ideas to work in when you find yourself eating out.

1. Find restaurants that are already entered into MyFitnessPal or have nutrition information online. There are more than you think! You can also use online calculators and add them as foods in MyFitnessPal. I have a “go-to” for a lot of places that I know fits my macros well no matter what (higher protein, lower fat etc.) My current favorites are (in no particular order): Panera, Noodles and Company, Protein Bar, Seasons 52, Chipotle, Egg Harbor, Jimmy Johns, Subway, Potbelly’s, and Roti

My Order: Burrito bowl, brown rice, black beans, 1/2 chicken 1/2 steak, lettuce, pico de gallo, fajita veggies, and half the side of quac!

2. If you can’t find it online or in MFP then use the guesstimate tactic. You will start to learn what food actually ways or looks like as a portion amount from measuring at home. When you eat out you can apply that. I can usually look at a piece of grilled chicken and gage roughly how many ounces it is. It might not be perfect but it’s better than nothing. You need to set yourself up for success with this tactic though. Try to order so that you can control the ingredients. Examples include:

– asking for dressing on the side, eyeing it once you see it and then adding it
– asking if the meat is grilled in oil or not
– hold certain ingredients or sides that aren’t necessarily bad but you know would blow up your calories if you had all of it

3. Plan around the eat out. Maybe everything on the menu is more than you would normally eat for dinner. Enter what you think you might have at the BEGINNING of the day and then eat around it to fit your macros. This ensures there are no “surprises” because you’re already accounting for it.

4. Don’t get caught up in the perfection. If you are tracking your food and doing the best you every day. An eat out here and there that’s guessed isn’t going to hurt your long term goals. Just don’t make it a habit and do your best to track it no matter what!

The whole point of flexible dieting (IIFYM tracking) is to promote a healthy but SUSTAINABLE diet that doesn’t have your metabolism in a yo-yo and doesn’t create a negative relationship with food. You can still enjoy life just learning to do it in moderation and with better choices!

The “Shake”…on Protein

I have gotten a lot of questions about protein shakes, when you should use them, how much protein is enough protein, and what type/brands to buy. This is a very expansive topic as there is a considerable amount of research out there on the effects protein has on diet, muscle hypertrophy, and fitness in general. Here are my five quick thoughts regarding protein, and in particular, protein shakes:

1. I feel the best use of a protein shake is as a means for getting your protein amount in the range of 1g of protein per pound of body weight, assuming you are also getting exercise 5-6 times per week. If you do the quick math, this is a significany amount of protein for most people. Personally, it is about 25% of my diet whereas someone eating a lower amount of calories might be closer to 40-50%. Regardless, it’s a lot of protein and a shake is a great way to fill the gaps in your diet.

2. Timing – you want to have some source of protein immediately after your workout. Shakes are good because they give you that protein source as well as BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) which have positive effects on muscle growth. If you can, also have some type of simple carb after your workout as well. This will give you energy to re-fuel from. You can also have them throughout the day to fill diet gaps (see above) as well as before bed (micellar casein is especially good for this as it is a slow digesting protein).

3. Look for a protein that is high in protein and low in fat/carbs. Depending on the brand and fillers, you fill find variances on this. Also, try not to spend more than $60/5lbs of protein powder. Costco and are great sources for reasonable but quality protein.

4. Consider using whey powder to supplement a drink you already like. Protein powders work well with water but milk sources, fruit (blended together), and Shakeology are great additions to protein powder.

5. Lastly, I almost don’t consider protein powders (whey isolate, hydrolyzed whey, micellar casein, etc.) as supplements. To me they are another food source on my way to hitting my macro-nutrient goals. A protein shake won’t have the same effect that beta-alanine or creatine will have and is really just am excellent source of pure protein.

I will be writing more posts on protein in the future, but hopefully this helps address some of the basics!

Finding Your Why

“If I were to put a ten-inch-wide, thirty-foot-plank on the ground and say, “If you walk the length of the plank, I’ll give you twenty dollars” would you do it?  Of course, it’s an easy twenty bucks.  But what if I took that same plank and made a roof-top bridge between two 100-story buildings?  That same twenty dollars for walking the thirty-foot plank no longer looks desirable or even possible, does it?  You’d look at me and say, Not on your life.

However, if your child was on the opposite building, and the building was on fire, would you walk the length of the plank to save him/her?  Without question and immediately – you’d do it, twenty dollars or not.”

What changed?  The risks and dangers were the same – but your WHY changed.  The reason was big enough and you were willing to perform almost any HOW.”

– Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

This is just one analogy out of many that are out there that focus on this concept – finding your “why”. I have found this to be a key factor in motivation for even more than fitness. It’s hard to stay engaged towards a task, activity, or job if you don’t have a good reason to. Finding a reason to do something that is deep, meaningful, and gets you excited is finding your “why”. This is the first thing that I ask back to people who ask for fitness/nutrition advice. What are your goals/what is your why? Good, specific advice is dependent on the answer to that question.

When finding your why, make sure that it is something that means a lot to you. For example, your goal might be as simple as “eat healthier food” but without a good “why” your goal won’t have a good foundation. If you add “because you want the workouts you’re doing (and secretly don’t like) to mean something” or “because you want to be a good example for your children”, you will have a much better shot at success!

I challenge you to add this component to everything you do. If you’re looking for fitness/nutrition motivation, you will find that it helps that as well.

Recipes – Breakfast: Protein Waffles (Pancakes)

This is our go-to recipe for waffles and actually for us, pancakes! I should first credit the following site, as this is where it was originally found:

I ended up tweaking the recipe to help fit macros even more to the following:

1.5 Cups – Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 tsp – Baking Soda
1/2 tsp – Sea Salt
2 scoops – Vanilla Protein Powder
2 cups – Vanilla Almond Milk (unsweetened)
3 Tbsp – Flax Seed (ground)
2 tsp – Vanilla Extract
1 – egg (or egg white equivalent)
3/4 cup – Stevia

Mix the top ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate, larger bowl, mix the bottom ingredients and then add then add the top ingredients. This forms your batter – from there you can either make pancakes* or waffles. I recommend using a cooking spray in both scenarios to avoid sticking issues. The “topper” recipe is simple: Mix 1/3 cup of greek yogurt (non-fat), 1 Tbsp of honey, and 1.5 Tbsp of almond or peanut butter. Tastes AMAZING.

*Tip: If the batter is too thick, add a little water!
Protein pancakes
Pancakes, topper, egg-white scramble and a nice relaxing morning!

Nutrition Facts
Topper: 4 servings – 66 calories, 3.4g fat, 3.9g carbohydrate, 3.3g protein
Pancakes (from a 16 pancake batch, roughly 1/4 cup scoops of batter):
2 pancakes – 143 calories, 3g fat, 19.4g carbohydrate, 10.5g protein

As you can see they aren’t perfect “health food” and they are a little high in sodium but they add protein to a usually “carb” food type and taste great. Enjoy!

TD Nation Success Story – Brian Beam

TD Nation (or Team Determination) is a large (currently 1900+ people!) fitness and weight loss support community founded by one of my coaches, Lance Lyell. It’s the group that I suggest all of my team members to plug in to as there are people from every background participating in making positive changes to their lifestyles and having fun while doing so. It’s the group that put me on this track of wanting to help other people reach their health and fitness goals. Lance put this video out today and it sums up what is happening in that group incredibly well. I think you will find Brian’s story AMAZING:

If you’re interested in joining the group and participating in everything it has to offer – message me and I’ll help get you plugged in. In the meantime, you can start the process by making me your (free) coach at the “Join The Team!” tab above.

Caloric Amounts – Not What You Think!

Excellent 5 minute video on how we easily misconstrue calorie values just because we think it “sounds” healthy. Mike is a great follow and simplifies nutrition for novices and experts alike. Here is my quick take:
  1. Didn’t know the salad was that high in calories (even considering all of the fixings)
  2. Don’t let this get you down: Proper nutrition is a marathon. The more you learn and experience, the more knowledge base you have to make decisions on the food your eat. At first a goal might be to get rid of soda. If that’s the case, the “Juice” he talks about might be a good option. Even though the calories are the same, the sugar is from a better source, there is less sugar, and you are avoiding some of the other chemicals found in sodas. On the other hand, if your goal is to cut calories by not drinking soda but having the juice instead, then Mike is obviously right on.
  3. Always be on the lookout for what works for you as you learn to make better decisions. My #1 rule for nutrition is do what you think you will be able to sustain and make small adjustments rather than large drastic ones. Staying consistent with this philosophy will get you to your goals.

MyFitnessPal: How To Start

I should start with a small disclaimer: I don’t mean to overly promote MyFitnessPal (MFP) the brand. In the end, there are several apps that work in a similar fashion. That said, I have used MFP consistently over the past year and a half and feel I have met my personal goals in large part to it. Therefore, I’m going to talk about it, hype it up, and explain how to use it for yourself but only because I truly stand behind it from experience. Fore some parts of this post, the same is true for MyFitnessPal and any other calorie tracking app but not always. The below is a “How To” on getting started using the app:

Step 1: Download the app or go to the website and create a login.
Step 2: Go through the set up but don’t worry about what goals you have activity level, etc. That is for later.
Step 3: Track what you normally eat for 1 week. Be diligent about catching EVERYTHING. A food scale is almost a must and a small investment for your kitchen. DON’T WORRY about what calories, macros, grams of protein, etc. you’re getting. This is just to set you up.
*Optional Step*: Look up the username “tribley” and add me as a friend!

Honest Truths – During your “calibrating week”, here are some things to be aware of:

  1. It’s easier to be exact by eating at home and using your food scale.
  2. Use the barcode scanner and if you’re searching for a food, try to get the green badge “verified” next to it.
  3. Foods labeled “raw” (ex. “Carrots – Raw”) are good indications they are correct (probably from USDA)
  4. Check the break down and see if it “adds up”. There are 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrate and 9 calories per gram of fat. If it says 30g of fat but 200 calories that can’t be right.
  5. If you eat out, see if you can go to place where the nutrition facts are online (Chipotle, Subway, Potbelly’s, Roti are my personal go-to’s). You can enter the information yourself or search to see if someone else already has.

Where will this take you? It’s all up to you but tracking is not the miserable task so many people make it out to be. MyFitnessPal is doing the “calorie counting” for you. All you have to do is enter your food and even that gets easier the more you do it as the app saves your previous foods, recipes, entries, etc. It’s no different than tracking your gas mileage or being good about a budget – like them, you just have to commit to doing it. You have to know what your issues are before you can fix them and nutrition is 90% of the battle. Better yet though – logging your food to align with your goals also gives you the freedom to work in foods you might have thought you “could never eat” on a nutrition plan. How good is that!?

Do the 3 steps above and if you want more information going forward, get in contact with me, and we can start working toward your goals.

MFP Feat Img