Female Fat Loss

How Fat Loss Foodies Handle Holidays: 5 Tips for a Lean Thanksgiving

How Fat Loss Foodies Handle Holidays: 5 Tips for a Lean Thanksgiving

If you're already planning a wardrobe of stretchy leggings and long sweaters for the week after Thanksgiving, hold it right there! We have a better idea:

Think, Cook, and Eat like a Fat Loss Foodie on Thanksgiving Day!

Here's the best part: being a Fat Loss Foodie doesn't require using every ounce of willpower you have to say no to pie (where I come from, skipping PIE IS A CRIME). Living an FLF lifestyle does NOT mean denying yourself and eating lettuce and celery while everyone else enjoys the holiday meal. 

The Problem with "Getting Back on Track" with Your Nutrition

“My diet starts on Monday.”

Well, it’s Monday, and even if you aren’t starting a new diet today, you may be recommitting to your nutrition because you “went off the rails” last week or over the weekend. (This is especially true right now if you live anywhere near the pathway of Hurricane Florence and hit the “hurricane snacks” a little too hard.)

I spent the last 4 days traveling to see family and get away from this hurricane, and on the drive home yesterday, I spent a little more time on social media than normal. (What else do you do when you’re a passenger during a 7-ish hour drive?) I saw so many friends and clients posting that they were excited to “get back on track” after “falling off the wagon” or “going off the rails” with their nutrition. Several ladies included that they were using social media to keep themselves accountable. (I mean, if you don't post about it, can it even happen?)

Meanwhile, I was basking in the glow of an awesome 4-day weekend spent hanging out with family, getting stuff done at my mom’s house, and of course doing a little shopping, too.

I never saw the inside of the gym once. I split a vegan cinnamon roll with my husband (pictured below). I ate a few pieces of chocolate from my mom’s chocolate stash. (We are so related.) I didn’t track a single meal in My Fitness Pal. I just eyeballed my food and ate some combination of protein, carbs, and fat at every meal. Sometime we cooked and ate at home. Sometimes we went out to eat.

 Actual footage of my weekend: this vegan cinnamon roll from The Dotted Lime. Image source: The Dotted Lime.

Actual footage of my weekend: this vegan cinnamon roll from The Dotted Lime. Image source: The Dotted Lime.

And yet, in spite of my (some would say) “imperfect” weekend, I feel 100% great right now. If anything, I feel better than when I left! My body needed a rest from training and my brain needed a break from hitting numbers. And here’s the hilarious part: since we left last Thursday morning, the scale dropped 2+ pounds.

WHAT?! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! I wasn’t PERFECT. I ate sugar! I didn’t track my calories! I didn’t work out! I ate some foods that weren’t “clean” or “Paleo”!

A few years ago, I too would have been posting about how I was ready to get back on track. Not any more, and here’s why.

Just Because It Feels Good Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for You

I once dated a guy who I spent more time breaking up and getting back together with than I spent actually dating him.

Years later, after we had broken up for good, I realized I kept going back because I didn’t think I deserved better. I thought he was my only option. I was doing what was comfortable and easy, instead of doing the hard work of being alone for a while and figuring out who I really was and what I wanted.

Let’s be honest: something about these back-on-track diet proclamations just feels good, doesn’t it? Like somehow we’re back in control and wiping the slate clean. It’s also comforting to return to old ways of eating that worked in the past, because we wrongly believe that what worked once will work again.

All that wine? Forgotten. Those 6 cookies you ate when you intended to only eat one? It’ll never happen again. The bag of chocolate you wiped out over the course of a few days? Gone, too. But it doesn’t matter. You’re moving on now.

You’re getting back on track. You’re going back on Weight Watchers. Going back to Keto. Doing another Whole30.

Just like I kept going back to that stupid relationship with the guy who bored me, was a terrible kisser, that I wasn’t even really attracted to. Only to break up with him again and again.

Because as good as getting back together or getting back on track feels, it never lasts for long, does it? It’’s never the last time.

The cycle keeps repeating itself because the system is broken. You keep repeating it because you think that’s your only option. On or off. In or out.

Here’s the truth:

It’s not.





Please Define “Going Off the Rails”

What does this expression mean anyway?

I love to ask my clients exactly what they did or ate or drank that was SOOOOO bad, and nine times out of 10, I’m like,

“THAT’S IT?! Girl. I do that every week. You need to calm the heck down and give yourself some grace.”

I’m not sure where it’s coming from (oooh - let’s blame social media again!), but it seems that women have an increasingly impossible standard for their nutrition and how perfect it must be. Then again, I suppose that’s trending right along with everything else. Perfect, Instagrammable hair, skin, home, body, style, babies, husband, vacation, career. Check, check, check, check.

The next time you’re having thoughts of getting back on track, take a step back and ask yourself what’s behind it. Maybe you really have been treating your body like a trash can and it’s revolting on all fronts and waving the white flag of surrender.

“PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WOMAN WE NEED SOME VEGETABLES IN HERE.” -

Sincerely,

Your Internal Organs post-Hurricane Florence

Or maybe the only thing you’ve really consumed too much of is the perfectionism-triggering nonsense propagated by the nutrition quacks and gurus in your social media feeds.

You be the judge.

All I’m saying is that most of the meals I ate this weekend were eaten off paper plates and ugly as hell by Instagram standards AND I SLEPT JUST FINE.

You Still Think Fat Loss Nutrition is About Eating Perfectly

When something has an on/off switch, there is no in between. It’s like a light switch. The lights are either on, or they are off.

The on/off switch is a counterproductive model for how we think about our nutrition, because it feeds the lie that we must be one or the other. On or off. If we make any mistake, slack off, or relax in any way whatsoever - oh, we’ve fallen off again!

The truth is that getting leaner does not require 100% perfect compliance 100% of the time. Getting leaner (that is: losing body fat and maintaining/building lean muscle) actually gives you plenty of flexibility and wiggle room for how you want to eat.

Fat loss isn’t about eating clean, being perfect, or staying in a severe caloric deficit for weeks and months on end.

You need two things for sustainable fat loss: a slight caloric deficit and balanced hormones, and you can achieve both of those things while eating mostly real, whole nutrient dense foods about 80-90ish% of the time. That other 10-20ish% is up to you. It’s where you make room for the foods and drinks you need in your overall lifestyle plan to make it YOURS. Something you can do every day, 365 days a year, year after year, happily and without hating your life just to fit into your pants.

Self-Control is Not Self-Deprivation

To positively change the way you eat and end the on/off game, you will need to practice a new skill: self-control.

Unfortunately, most people confuse self-control with self-deprivation. Self-control is establishing a set of guidelines for yourself to live by. It is not cutting yourself off from every food you love.

Here’s are some examples:

Self-Deprivation says, “I can’t eat sugar any more.”

Self-Control says, “I will eat less sugar and eat more nutrient-dense whole foods.”

Self-Deprivation says, “I can never eat a burger and fries at my favorite restaurant again.”

Self-Control says, “I will eat a burger and fries at my favorite restaurant for my weekly Treat Meal, or I will make a cleaned-up version at home.”

Self-Deprivation does not work as a compliance tool. If anything, it’s a trigger for over-eating, guilt, shame, and it creates an unhealthy relationship with food.

Self-control takes practice, but every time you use it, it gets easier to activate. It’s like making deals with yourself about what you will and will not to do, based on the big picture of how you want your life to be.

Example: if you’ve been following me for a while you know I had a MAD morning pastry + coffee habit when I first started out with living a fat loss lifestyle ~7 years ago. Lunch and dinner were easy for me to change, but breakfast? Nah. I was having ZERO luck going cold turkey, so I tried something else: I cut a deal with myself.

  • Have a Low-Fat Cinnamon Coffee Muffin for breakfast 3 mornings a week, but the other mornings, you have to cook/eat at home.” So I did that. And I crushed it. It was actually fun!

  • Then I stepped it down to 2x a week. Then 1x a week.

  • Finally I got to the point where my homemade breakfasts were tasting so good and giving me so much LIFE that that freaking muffin took care of itself. I didn’t even want it any more.

Switch your mindset to eating MORE of the right things more often, and LESS of the things that aren’t working for you. BUT, don’t cut them out completely (unless of course there is a food allergy/sensitivity issue at play). Make the foods you love PART of your plan and stay out of the self-deprivation mindset.

A Word On Sugar

To the people who say that sugar must be eliminated to “free” yourself from sugar cravings and kill the sugar demons once and for all, I call bull shit.

Sugar cravings will never be completely eliminated, as they are a brain chemistry issue not a willpower issue. Sugar cravings start in the brain, not the stomach, and can be easily reduced and managed by simple changes to nutrition and lifestyle.

I see sugar cravings as a valuable feedback tool, as they usually help uncover areas of the diet or lifestyle that are out of check and need attention. (i.e. lack of sleep, stress management, under-eating, etc.)

Attempting to eradicate every grain of sugar from your life usually creates more problems than it solves. Not to mention, sugar is awesome and if you tell me I can never have dessert again, you are not my people so kindly please show yourself out. GOOD DAY, SIR. GOOD DAY.

 In my natural habitat: in a coffee shop surrounded by French macarons.

In my natural habitat: in a coffee shop surrounded by French macarons.

Skillpower vs. Willpower

If you find yourself stuck in this cycle of recommitting and falling off, the only way to end it is to stop the cycle.

The next time you have thoughts like, “Wow I really need to get back on track” or “I need to start over and get back on the _______ diet,” I have a radical proposition for you:

DON’T.

Willpower will never be enough, and the fact that you’re repeating this on track/off track cycle is proof. If trying harder to be more perfect with how you eat was going to work, it would have worked by now.

Ditch their rules and start creating your own.

Instead of going back to a program that wasn’t created for you, start asking yourself, “What do I like? What does my body need? What makes me feel good? What works with my life right now?”

This approach takes longer and requires work; it’s not black and white. Sadly, this is why most people keep retreating to the cycle, because as terrible as it is at least they can just do what someone else tells them. Until they can’t.

My perfect-for-me, fat loss lifestyle includes mostly real whole foods like chicken, steak, salmon, eggs, roasted veggies, giant salads, omelets, roasted potatoes, etc. But it also includes chocolate. And goat cheese. And full-fat salad dressings. AND vegan cinnamon rolls.

So okay. Here’s the most important part of this whole thing, so listen up and take notes if you have to. Just don’t miss this, because I’m about to drop a bomb on you:

The treats, the fun, the life moments are PART OF YOUR PERFECT PLAN. They are also part of being a Fat Loss Foodie and they are part of Fat Loss Cooking School. Ditch the all or nothing approach and tell perfection to screw off once and for all - because you don’t it need to get a lean, fit, healthy body you love.

If you want to learn HOW to do this, this is exactly what we teach 4x a year in Fat Loss Cooking School. It’s our 4-week online program where we teach women how to cook and eat real food for fat loss. Every week we’ll tackle a new meal together: breakfast, then lunch, then dinner, then treats. We’ll teach you the science of hormonal fat loss and how to create a fat loss nutrition program for yourself based on YOUR metabolism, YOUR preferences, and YOUR personality.

The Fall round starts Monday, October 8 and registration is now open!


How I Plan a Week's Worth of Fat Loss-Friendly Meals

On Sunday night around 7:30, I sat down on the couch with my legal pad, a pen, and my laptop. This means serious work is about to go down... 

Before the weekend completely slipped away, I wanted to get our meals organized for the week ahead here at FLF HQ (aka my house;).

By 7:45-ish, I was done. A week's worth of fat loss-friendly breakfasts, lunches, dinners - all mapped out and finished in about 15 minutes.

Am I just REALLY amazing at meal planning? How did I do this in 15 minutes? I'll tell you:) 

In this post, I'm breaking down exactly how I "meal plan."

The way I plan meals is not meticulous or stressful. I do not EVER cook everything at once (also known as "meal prep"). I might wash and chop veggies when I come home from the store but that's about it. I cook in batches throughout the week when I have time, always making enough for leftovers for the next day.

Let's break it down meal by meal, shall we?

Breakfasts

Breakfast is my absolute favorite. I have a handful of meals I love that I know work great for me; keep in mind these exact foods might not work for you. These meals keep me full, give me good energy, and don't make me crave a mid-morning donut. These breakfasts include ingredients that are either staples I always have (like eggs and oats) or ingredients leftover from dinners (like roasted veggies, goat cheese, avocado, etc.) 

Coffee is a non-negotiable, and then I'm having one of these breakfasts:

  • An egg scramble with veggies and goat cheese and some high-fiber toast;
  • A bowl of protein oats with a spoonful of almond or peanut butter;
  • A bowl of oats (no protein powder) with 2 eggs and a sprinkle of goat cheese on top;
  • Protein pancakes: I usually have this on Fridays because it just feels like a fun celebratory breakfast lol. The end of another week - woohoo!! Plus, I almost always teach BODYPUMP on Friday mornings and there's something about protein pancakes after class that just makes me all kinds of happy. Sometimes I toss in blueberries, sometimes it's a few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree and cinnamon. 
  • A huge slice of frittata with hot sauce and a piece of seasonal fruit or cup of berries. (I make this ahead on Sundays when I know the week is going to be insane and I won't have time to cook.)

I make sure my staples are stocked, and if not - add them to the grocery list.

I love variety, but I also love routine, consistency, and simplicity. Having 5 go-to breakfasts that I rotate through? You guys - there's a reason I bolt out of bed before my alarm goes off and can't wait to get up and start my day: I freaking love my breakfasts and coffee. 

FatLossFoodies-36.jpg

Lunches

For a fat loss-friendly meal, you need protein, fibrous veggies, and the right amount of carbs (this varies by individual, but most likely you are going to be limiting your starchy carb intake.) You also need to ENJOY IT, which usually means the addition of a little fat for flavor. What better way to check these boxes than salads with fun toppings or re-purposed dinner leftovers?!

Here's what I'll be having this week:

  • A big bowl filled with a bed of butter lettuce and topped with a scoop of leftover brown rice and a scoop of Picadillo made with grass fed beef. Handful of chopped red bell pepper. Topped with a few chunks of avocado and a drizzle of Tessemae's Creamy Ranch dressing. (I just ate this today as I was writing this post and it rocked my world.) 
  • Salads with greens, roasted beets, shredded carrots, chopped cucumber, and chickpeas, topped with either canned tuna or leftover chicken (from dinners this week). Good dressing from Tessemae's and goat cheese. I mix up my salad fixins every week and they never get old! 

If I run out of veggies or I'm out running errands, I will grab a salad at Chop't or grab something at the Whole Foods hot bar. Done and done. 

 Some salad necessities...

Some salad necessities...

Dinners

I plan about 3 dinner menus per week. I only cook for 2 people (my husband and me) and we love to repurpose leftovers, so there's no need to plan 7 unique dinners for the week. Plus, we usually eat out 1-2 nights per week and go somewhere like Chop't, Chipotle, or grab salads and protein burgers from Burger Bach.

This week, I took a quick search through some food blogs I keep bookmarked and found some inspiration for 3 meals that all, once again, follow the formula of protein and fibrous veggies with a little bit of starchy carbs. I'm a visual person; I just clicked what looked good;) 

  • BBQ Chicken and Quinoa Bowls inspired by the food/recipe blog, "What's Gaby Cooking." Her bowls had 3 big scoops of different kinds of starchy carbs (black beans, quinoa, and corn), so I'm going to dial that back a bit and increase the non-starch veggies with some chopped bell pepper, shredded carrots, and quick pickles. Hers were also covered in shredded cheese, which isn't really my thing (I'd rather have avocado or good dressing for my fats!) I'll serve this BBQ Chicken and Quinoa over a bed of greens and top with diced avocado, a drizzle of that Tessemae's Creamy Ranch, and a sprinkle of cilantro. 
  • Sheet pan dinner: Harissa-Roasted Salmon and Veggies with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce. Ugh. I hate myself a little just typing that. It sounds so fancy!! ? Well, it was inspired by a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe on Goop.com - so it's no coincidence if you can TASTE a hint of "I'm better than you." But seriously though: Salmon, carrots, cauliflower, fennel. One sheet pan. Olive oil salt and pepper. Spicy Harissa. A drizzle of a simple sauce made with tahini, yogurt, and lemon juice. I think it's gonna be great.
  • Yogurt-marinated Chicken Skewers. Going to serve these with roasted veggies and either brown rice or quinoa. Probably a plop of hummus and yogurt and squeeze of fresh lemon over everything. Yeah. That's good enough.   

That's it. That is how I plan what to eat each week. It's just real food that tastes good. It's food that is high in protein, high in fiber - but it's not so weird that your friends and family won't eat it (quite the opposite, actually. In fact, we've coined a new term in the Summer Fat Loss Cooking School group: "Vulture Husbands." They are our clients' husbands and when good food is cooking, suddenly they start circling with interest and asking questions.

This way of eating keeps me lean, healthy, and fueled without restriction or rigidity.

You Forgot Something: Dessert!

One afternoon a week (it's usually Thursday or Friday), I'll head to Coco Bean in Chapel Hill for a Cold Brew and a Gluten-Free Vegan cupcake or GF Vegan brownie* because I believe in having dessert every week. Or I might go grab frozen yogurt w/ my husband one night after we teach classes. (*Not trying to be "healthy" by eating Vegan brownies here; they actually just taste better than the non-Vegan ones. GO FIGURE.) 

But afterwards, I'll go right back to biz as usual at my next meal. Some days I'll have a few squares of dark chocolate from our chocolate drawer in the kitchen. 

When your hormones are balanced and you're well-nourished, you truly don't have the urge to eat an entire drawer full of dark chocolate. (I've been that girl, and I'm never going back.)

 In my happy place: a local coffee shop surrounded by French macarons. 

In my happy place: a local coffee shop surrounded by French macarons. 

***

I wanted to share this post because the vibe I'm feeling from the internet fitness and nutrition space right now is VERY heavy on the restriction. The rigid. The black and white. The absolutes and the "thou shalt nots." A lot of fear-based marketing and group-think.

Fat Loss Foodies will always be right here, holding the middle ground - and doing it proudly.

Where we love vegetables, but we also love good chocolate.

Where we are not holding contests for how many days we can go without eating, all in the name of "cleansing."  

Where we love fueling our bodies and training hard, but also know how to pull back and chill and go for a walk. 

If you've been feeling lost and overwhelmed by what you're seeing pass as "fitness and nutrition" online these days, I hope this post helps you realize it doesn't have to be as hard and all-consuming as you think. Does what you've read here feel a little more simple and accessible? Doable even? Like something you could do for more than a week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!