Sunday, April 30, 2017

30 Nutrition Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

Back at the first on the month, I decided to dedicate the entire month of April to nothing but diet/nutrition. ✔ Nutrition is the primary driver of fat loss, and maintaining that loss. ✔   To get to your physique goals, nutrition plays the most important role. So much emphasis is placed on workouts plus other small rock items that sometimes this message gets lost to the general public and beginners. Nutrition can be boring on social media, so most veterans are putting workout stuff out there. It is what it is, but I want you to understand how important what you put in your mouth is! Sometimes you hear that results (or abs) are 80% nutrition and 20% in the gym. It is true!

SO this is why I decided that April was to be ALL about nutrition- 30 days of it! So here is the roundup of 30 nutrition tips, tricks, and techniques.

Tip 1... get yourself a calendar. You are going to put a sticker on each day you hit your deficit calorie goal. Put a different sticker for maintenance days. No sticker for over maintenance days. So simple! But it gives you a picture of your success and streaks. It also feels good to put a sticker on there :) I am starting a little 30 day push for summer.  So I will keep you posted with my calendar shots throughout the month. Be sure to tag us at #venusfactor and #venusindex on IG if you are joining me for a push this month too! 

Tip 2 of our 30 day nutrition push! Usually on Sundays, we get take out and bring it home after church. My kids really look forward to this because it is generally the only time we eat out each week. (Not only is it cheaper to eat at home but you also have greater control of what you put together which means higher volume and protein with less calories. You will also struggle less to make a good choice at home!) So, my kids have been asking for Whataburger all week which is a fast food burger place. If I was in maintenance mode, I would get a burger and fries. No brainer. BUT, since I am cutting my cals this month, I knew that would take up too many calories for my day. I would be hungry in a few hours and likely to go into maintenance or over for the day. Not what I want! So I tried an apple and cranberry grilled chicken salad instead. About 450 cals and 34g protein with the dressing. Much more filling and will leave room for a snack, dinner, and dessert later ;) My plan this month is an aggressive goal, so it requires aggressive action on my part. It is not forever either, anyone can push through for 30 days!

Tip 3 of our 30 day nutrition push! The first week of transitioning from higher calories into a deficit (AKA dieting though I do not like to call it that) is usually the toughest. Your body is not used to a deficit and your hunger pangs are often at the highest perceived levels. One of my favorite tricks is to drink LOADS of coffee and tea. The hot liquid is filling and gives you something to do instead of eat. These are two of my favorites teas in the pic above- both are caffeine-free herbal teas. I stir  a teaspoon of half and half with stevia into my tea usually. I also add cinnamon or vanilla from time to time as well. The bonus with coffee and teas are that you are increasing your water intake and both of full of healthy polyphenols! Boom! Generally after 7-10 days of a caloric deficit, your hunger levels come down. So hang in there!

Tip 4 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ you need to experiment with meal timing and food selection to see what fits for you! No one size fits all- you are an experiment of one. For me, pushing my first meal back as late as possible is easy and helps me to keep my calories lower for the day. I am not hungry and am busy all morning long. Give me some coffee and put me to work. My production output is high and eating just slows my roll, so I go with it. Today, I ate my first meal at 2 pm. I tried something new- instead of oatmeal, I tried cream of buckwheat. It was delicious and a nice change! I also try to get greens and protein in every meal/snack when I am dieting. I aim for 1 gram of protein per 10 cals. I blended greens in my cooking water then stirred in protein powder after cooking. I love PB- but to save cals, I use 1 tbsp of PB2 with 1 tbsp regular PB (I put that PB mix on top and save about 70 cals without even noticing!) I eat this meal a lot because I LIKE it (very important) ✔ the macros are good ✔ it has greens ✔ and it keeps me full to dinner ✔ Experiment and find YOUR way! 

Tip 5- What does my kitchen counters and Cadbury Mini Eggs in a cabinet + brownies in the fridge have to do with our 30 day nutrition push? EVERYTHING. The biggest hack I can tell you is to get the food OFF your counters. The more you see it, the higher the probability you will eat it. There are 4 food items on ALL my counters- potatoes, wine, coffee, and vinegar. Guess what I drank last night that I was not planning on? A glass of wine. Should probably take my own advice ;) wine is going in a cabinet!
P.S. My husband told me I should tell you about my mini eggs in the sake of transparency. I don't eat "clean" or "perfect" all the time which is not what I recommend to you either. I ate some mini eggs the other day... and I counted them in my day's cals. You can totally eat/drink what you enjoy as long as it fits in your budget! I have had this bag for nearly two weeks and I enjoy a few eggs every few days! Putting them in the cabinet helps me not eats a ton all the time though, I have to go looking for them.

Tip 6 ✔ plan out what you are eating BEFORE it goes into your mouth. (Seems like a DUH tip but it is imperative to say out loud for an AH HA moment!) It is 4:30 pm here and I have my day planned out in the MyFitnessPal app. Some days I plan it out the day before, some days I plan it out before my first meal, and some days I plan out BLOCKS of cals if I am not sure what I will be having (i.e. we are travelling). This is important to my success while in a deficit, and not something I do much in maintenance mode (meaning you will not have to do it forever)! When you in a deficit as a female, your calorie budget is smallish so you really have to think things out to hit your calorie and protein goals PLUS have a food volume that feels decent to you. I generally like 3x500 cals with about 35 g of protein at each meal. I like those to be around 2 pm, 5 pm, and 7 pm. That is what feels GOOD to me right now. It has changed over the years based on my workout and job schedule ;) SO plan out your meals or budgets before you eat ✔ and experiment with budgeting and timing πŸ‘Œ

Tip 7   Happy to report that I have hit my nutrition goals the past 15 days and gotten my stickers on my planner! πŸ’œ Whatever you track, you will naturally focus on.

Getting in LOTS of liquids helps when you are in a deficit. When you eat less, you tend to drink less. Also, it is easy to mix hunger cues with thirst cues. 100 ounces per day is a good goal for most ladies. I will drink more if I mix it up in the lquids department. I usually have two 8 oz cups of coffee in the morning and drink my 16 oz water bottle. Caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant, and is very effective for me. Around lunch, I refill my water bottle and will usually make a 16 oz bottle of pre-workout if I am lifting. If not, I make a cup of herbal hot tea. Around 3, I have a 12 oz can of diet coke and refill my water bottle. (I time that diet coke as a caffeine hit too, this is right when I start to get hungry!) Then around dinner, I refill my water bottle again and have another hot tea or two with dessert. 

So think through your typical day and see if you are getting in enough liquids. If you cannot keep up with water bottle refill counts, you can slide plastic bracelets up the side or buy 4x25 oz water bottles in different colors. There are also water bottles that track for you these days! So fancy ;) 

Tip 8 πŸ’ͺ you CAN fit in treats and eating out into your deficit calorie plans! We usually go out to eat after church on Sundays, so today we went to this little German place. They have AMAZING food, I really love their apple strudels. So I planned my whole day around this guy ;) I also had their brat with kraut. So good! It tooks a few tweaks to my eating plan for the day but it is worth the effort. Some treats will be worth the effort, and others are not. YOU decide! But never ever set food as "off limits" or "bad". That kind of thinking can really mess with your head, do just don't do it! Everything goes in moderation! ✔

Tip 9 πŸ’ͺsometimes the best thing can do for our nutrition is no nutrition at all. What do I mean? I mean that we often eat instead of feeling emotion or eat by a clock. We are stressed- we eat. We are happy- we eat. We are sad- we eat. It is noon- we eat. Getting the picture? Investigate what triggers you to eat. Go for a walk or journal to examine your hunger cues BEFORE you eat a few times. What is beneath that hunger? I think you will find many may cues are attached to emotions or timing. You have to get your mind right before you can ever hope to lose the weight and keep it off. ✔

Tip 10 πŸ’ͺ all about simple substitutions. Things that you can swap out of your diet for something with lower calories or higher protein. Here are two common examples that I do. On the left, I generally sub spaghetti for zucchini spiralizer noodles with my marinara and meatballs. Saves about 200 calories and amps up the volume, not to mention extra veggie nutrient goodness. On the right, I generally sub any high carb snack food for a protein bar. Same calories, but the protein bar has 20g protein. These simple subs can make a world of difference in your calories and macros each day. Other examples:
✔ cooked down berries instead of syrup
✔ protein pancakes instead of pancakes
✔ lettuce instead of a wrap
✔95% lean beef instead of 70% lean ground beef
... you get the picture ;) be creative! You might find you aren't missing anything, this is how I prefer to eat now.

Tip 11 πŸ’ͺ For every 7-10 days of dieting, AT A MINIMUM, you should take 1 maintenance day. What's a maintenance day? Eating at a caloric level to maintain your current body, which means taking a day off dieting. Notice, it is not a backwards day. You are not eating enough to put on fat, just stay the same. Why? To give your body and mind a break from the stress  of dieting. This will help your hormone levels and mindset balance out to go at the deficit again. The leaner you are, the less your deficit should be. The leaner you are, the more frequent your maintenance days should be. Today is a maintenance day for me. I am eating mostly the same but am having a few mini eggs for snack. I am also having salmon for dinner which is more caloric than my normal protein choices. So mostly the same but just a few different choices. Maintenance days will teach you how to maintain your body for the long haul. 

Tip 12 πŸ’ͺ if you do not even know where to start on nutrition, start with a top 10 list of meals/snacks you LOVE! Homemade, store bought, and restaurant all count. Then figure out how you can fit these into your day within your calorie/protein goal. You may be surprised how easily they fit in, or you may decide they have to be re-created with lower calorie substitutions... or saved for maintenance days. You will never stick with your nutrition plan for the long haul if you are not eating things you like. And only you know what those things even are ;) 

Tip 13 πŸ’ͺ if you are in a deficit, you are going to be hungry from time to time. It is OKAY to be hungry! Just a sign your body is switching fuels over to fat πŸ”₯ so reframe hunger as good when you are in a deficit. Whether it is a slight deficit or a very large one, hunger feels the same. A slight deficit is going to take longer to lose the fat, so just like a bandaid, you want to take it off as fast as you safely can. Luckily the Venus calculator will give you the lowest calorie goal that is safe for you based on your current metrics, anything between that and maintenance calories will cause fat loss. The closer you stick to the deficit goal consistently, the faster you will be at your goal!

Tip 14 πŸ’ͺ  And I still have LOTS to say πŸ˜‚ So part of being successful is having good choices on hand and planned for. You are going to go the path of least resistance, especially when you are stressed and low on time. I went yesterday and shopped for a month (yes, you read that right) of our family's groceries. I make a plan and we stick to it. Simple as that! You can read more on how HERE- or HERE-

 (It also saves money because I swear I will go to the store for trash bags and come out with no less than $100 worth!) That top 10 list I posted earlier comes in handy for planning, have the kids and husband do one too so everyone is happy. Build out a week then repeat x4 for the month. I freeze as needed to make it to the end of the month, and we prioritize using up things that will spoil first. The key is to have enough variety that you don't hate it, but enough of the same to keep your list somewhat small. You will also eat less with less variety- this is well documented in research. ✔ 

✔  Sometimes the best laid plans do not go right. As much as I plan, we decide to do something different at the last minute every once in awhile. And that is OKAY! My husband surprised me with brunch this morning so I decided to indulge in a waffle. I do not hardly ever have them, so this is a real treal that I enjoy! We are also doing a cookout at the beach later with friends. So I know calories are going to be higher than normal, so I will plan today as a maintenance day for extra calorie budget. You can move your maintenance day around each week as you need, be flexible! I like to use mine for eating out and/or social events. The beach will be tricky but I will drink lots of water between alcoholic beverages and only have one burger and one smore. Besides we are there to relax and enjoy friends, not just to eat! ;) 

One of my Venus veteran sisters once told me the key to social event eating was 3D- dilute, discuss, and delay. Meaning lots of water, talk with people, and be the last one to get food. Wise advice. Keep things in perspective. Learn to roll with the punches and trust yourself to make the best choice at the time.

Day 17 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ you have got to stop the labelling of foods as "good foods" and "bad foods". Research shows that this black and white thinking makes for some interesting mentalities surrounding these foods. We avoid the "bad food" and when we finally eat it (because let's face it, you cannot avoid a food for forever) we tend to binge. Then, we feel guilty about it. And the cycle repeats. The funny thing is that we do the same with "good foods". We give them a "health halo" and tend to overdo those foods too! There is no perfect food, just the same there are no bad food. There is what fits into your day, what you like to eat, and what makes you feel good. You are better off with anything goes. And the funny thing is- when anything goes, you tend to make better choices ;) 

Day 18 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ 🍻 Alcohol- if anything goes then technically it does too. Just be sure to count it in your calories. HOWEVER -- and this is a big however -- alcohol is treated as a priority metabolically, before fat loss or anything else. So you are going to blunt any fat burning processes when you drink a glass even if you are in a caloric deficit. Secondly, alcohol lowers your inhibition so you are more likely to make a poor decision with food. You can go from a forwards day to a maintenance day, or even a backwards day, really quick. I would save the alcohol for maintenance days or cut it back to only a couple of nights per week if you are not losing as fast as you would like. 🍷 
Drink wisely ;)

Day 19 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ Environmental Influences- people that surround you and the places you go affect your behavior more than you notice. Are the people around you gaining weight? Do the people around you regularly workout? Think about sitting down to a business lunch- is what you order subject to change depending on what everyone else orders? πŸ€”

I am not saying that you need to disown everyone who does not fit in this lifestyle. Just notice that we are swimming upstream and you will have to actively CHOOSE and PLAN nutrition and fitness all day long to make it happen. It is not happening by accident. OWN it. MAKE it happen. You do you. ✔

I have family staying with me all month long. We are eating out more than normal, and have more food choices and alcohol in the house than we regularly would. I am having to be EXTRA conscious of what I eat. I am having to be EXTRA vigilant that my workouts happen as planned. But I am making it happen and enjoying special time with the people I love. <- this is what matters, not what I eat or drink with them ;)

Day 20 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ photo on the left was in 2012 when I placed in the 5th ever Venus transformation contest after losing approx 50 pounds, right is my latest photoshoot. ✔ Nutrition has made this ALL possible. Before Venus I was beating my brains out the gym 5 days a week and I never looked like it. I wanted to LOOK like I worked out. Venus taught me the nutrition piece I was missing- how to diet safely and how to MAINTAIN that body I worked so hard for. Nutrition is how I got the body on the left and maintained that body ovet the past 5 years to the body on the right! If you think working out alone will do this for you, you are sadly mistaken. Hundreds of other ladies have experienced exactly what I did, including our latest round of contest winners that were posted today πŸ’ͺand they can still rock those photoshoot bods years later IF they pay attention to that nutrition piece πŸ‘Œ (Hint: this not involve 30 day meal plans or restricting certain food/food groups!)

Day 21 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ Making the best choices at restaurants- it requires some thought but can be done! ✔ Many chain restaurants have their nutritional information online or in MFP. You can look and decide; this always makes my decision easy. Last night, we got take out from a local place. Things to looks for:
πŸ’œ lean protein centric dishes (think steaks and other lean beef cuts, pork loin, chicken, turkey, fish, shrimp- get any cream sauces on the side)
πŸ’œ salads (get the dressing on the side- vinaigrette or salsa are your best bets)
πŸ’œsoups (avoid cream soups, look for tomato or broth based with lots of veggies)
πŸ’œ best preparation bets are pan seared, grilled, roasted, blackened, or braised
πŸ’œ control yourself on eating the carb sides- sometimes they overdo the potatoes/rice/bread/tortillas/chips
πŸ’œ try to get as much of the veggie sides as possible
After looking through the menu, I got the braised beef which came with mashed potatoes and green beans. Before my food arrived, I estimated (on the high side) the amount I could fit of each into my calorie budget. THEN I enjoyed my meal, especially because I could fit it all in my day ;) 

Day 22 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺGraze or have meals- not both! Every person I know that is successful long term does one or the other to control their daily calories. I have never seen anyone do the combination successfully; everyone I know who does both struggles with weight gain. I am a meal person. My personal rules are to sit down with a plate. Eat slowly, try to out down the fork between bites. Taste the food. I try to nix ALL eating standing up or walking by. It's not satisfying for me and those calories add up FAST! No cleaning up kids plates, my body is not the trash can! We made tamales today and I found myself standing eating one so I snapped a pic of my no-no for you ;) never good for the calories when I do this. 

Day 23 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ having at least one serving of greens daily along with a couple servings of other veggies is one of my nutritional commitments. ✔ Nutritional commitments are how you can distill your main focus down to a handful of BIG movers you do each day/week. They help you reach your goals and/or are done for health. My commitment to getting in my vegetables daily does both. They fill me and help me to feel better to hit other goals. Besides vegetables are probably one of the best things you can eat for overall health. πŸ‘Œ

Day 24 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ We are talking about nutritional commitments, a handful of cornerstone items that you do daily/weekly that are big dial movers to get you to your goals and/or overall health. My second nutritional commitment is protein centric meals/snacks. I try to loosely aim for 1 gram of protein for every 10 calories of food. This ensures that I hit my protein goal for the day while not busting my calorie budget. Protein fills me up, keeps me full, and gives my body what it needs to repair cells. My favorite sources of protein are: lean beef, chicken, lean pork, shrimp, fish, fat free plain Greek yogurt, eggs/egg whites, and whey protein. (Just my favorites, there are tons out there!) I try to rotate each meal and not double up any one source daily.

Day 25 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ My third daily nutritional commitment is simple: always have something to drink with me. Usually it is my handy water bottle, but coffee/tea/sparkling water, etc in my Yeti tumbler are sometimes in hand too! The basis of this is ease of access. If it is handy, I will drink! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Good for a multitude of reasons. It will help you improve overall health PLUS help you reach diet OR performance goals ✔

Day 26 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ TRACKING whatever I am doing is my final but most important daily nutritional commitment. ✔ Nutritional commitments are how you can distill your main focus down to a handful of BIG movers you do each day/week. They help you reach your goals and/or are done for health. ✔ If you aren't tracking what you are currently doing then you have no idea whether it was successful or not! Success is the product of many attempts. Keep data and set a realistic timeline. Evaluate data. Learn, repeat. You are an experiment of one! πŸ’―

Day 27 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ The best thing you can do for your nutrition goals is learn to say "NO thanks, maybe later." If I had eaten everything offered to me in the last week alone, I would have gained fat and blown my nutrition goals. On the right are some breakfast burritos my MIL brought to the house for everyone's breakfast. A sweet offering, well-intentioned but I did not want it. I was not hungry, I rarely am before noon. It is OKAY to tell others (and yourself), "NO, maybe later." Those breakfast burritos got eaten the next morning by my kids, and they loved them! Learn to make the best decisions for your goals. The food offered to you may or may not fit them. Decide accordingly. P.S. How cute is the back of my new sports bra from Fabletics?! I am obsessed with the whole outfit!

Day 28 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺTough choices- indulging frequently or the body you are after. For a female, it is usually a choice between the two. We just don't have the calorie budgets to have lots of high calorie treats! Every few days or at least weekly, most ladies can fit indulgences in- just not EVERY day! I have had company for the past two weeks at our house which has meant unusually frequent options of indulgence. Like (Exhausting!) We went to eat the other day at a local place known for their fried seafood- I chose the grilled fish with vegetables instead. Later we went to putt putt golf, everyone had ice cream and I decided against it. I came home and had a Quest bar with a banana sliced on top ;) My choices fit my current goals. I just cannot do it all every day with my goals. Most ladies cannot either. Swim the middle road- when you can fit it in, by all means indulge and enjoy! Remember your target and chase that. ✔

Day 29 of our 30 day nutrition push πŸ’ͺ Eat for gut health, it matters for overall health. In recent years, we have just begun to understand the importance gut health plays in overall health and fat loss. The first thing you can do is to take a probiotic. Look for 8+ million CFU and the most strains you can find. Also try to add 1-2 servings per day of probiotic foods (these contain probiotic strains): kimchi, sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, blue cheese, and miso to name a few personal favorites. You can also add 1-2 servings prebiotic foods (these feed your gut bacteria): bananas, coffee, tea, dark beer, red wine, and chocolate to name a few favorites. I try for one from each category per day. This is nutrition 2.0, higher level stuff ;) get your nutrition goals nailed down first. ✔

And to round out the 30 nutrition tips, tricks, and techniques- enjoy and indulge from time to time. Even when dieting or cutting down, at least once every 7-10 days you need to eat up to maintenance calories. On those days, have the things you really love. Nothing should be off limits forever. Labeling "off-limit" and "bad" foods just sets you up for the possibility of bingeing and rebound weight gain. Not fun. So even when you have to say no from time to time  because you cannot fit whatever into your day (thinking back to when everyone was eating ice cream at putt putt and I was not), know that in a few days you know you can have it when it is your maintenance day. It makes it easier to deal mentally. Some clients have even written a list of wants that pop up during the week that they add in for their next maintenance day. Whatever works for you! You might be able to fit some things into deficit days though, you never know until you play with your day. 

Balance is key, both in diet and fitness. The middle way usually is what works best long term.

X- Liss

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