You're breaking my heart.

Did you know that according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting? Ninety-one percent. That means that women who dislike their bodies, engage in self-defeating, negative self talk and who are victim to the societal pressures of perfection are the MAJORITY. 

I think it's safe to say that being unhappy with who we are - what we look like - and how we feel is the perpetual struggle for the modern woman. Ladies, pardon my French, but this is bullshit. 

Would you tell your 10 year old daughter/niece/sister that her worthiness was dependent upon her body fat distribution? Her stretch marks? Her cellulite? Or the number of "likes" she gets on an Instagram post? Of course not! And yet, 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat. So, be it intentional or not, that's exactly what we're telling ourselves and the 10 year old young ladies in our lives.  

Before I dive into coaching with a client I like to ask them a few soul-searching questions so we can establish goals and resistance to change together. 

These questions look something like, "what do you want to achieve by going through coaching?", "why haven't you achieved this yet? what's standing in your way?" and "what might happen if you achieve this thing?" 

Recently, I enrolled 50 young ladies (aged 21-60) in my coaching program for a free 4-week Body Comp Challenge. The responses came flooding in and here's (a paraphrased version of) what some of them had to say in response to these questions: 

...because I hate my body. 

...I want to be able to get dressed and go out without feeling depressed. 

...I feel like hiding every time I'm out in public because I look disgusting. 

...I want to be confident with my intimate relationship. 

...because I want to believe my husband when he tells me I look beautiful.

...I don't want to run away from social situations because I hate the way I look. 

...because I want to like myself. 

Is your heart breaking? Because mine certainly did. After reading response after response, most of them fragrant with a similar tone of disgust and defeat, I was broken. Broken because I know how these ladies feel. We all see the same images on social media. We all hear the same critiques - whether of ourselves or of others - claiming to be too fat or too round or too this or that. It’s never been easy for women to deal with the ever-mutating standards of female beauty, but now more than ever (thanks to the incessant bombarding of air brushed perfection that crosses our social media sites each and every day) women constantly doubt and define themselves according to how they look - as if that dictates who we are as human beings, as women. 

What if we refused to let others dictate how we live our lives and what our bodies should or shouldn't look like? 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and are trying some sort of diet or weight loss system. That means, some of those women have perfectly healthy, beautiful bodies - something to be proud of - and yet, are still discontent and resorting to extremes in an effort to shrink and change their physical form. Where does it end? Do we ever arrive at a place where we feel happy, worthy and content in our skin? At what point do we stop and say, "I am looking pretty damn good and I’m OK with it"?

If we don't learn how to love ourselves despite not emulating societies standards of perfection (or whatever other unattainable standards we've built up in our heads), I don't think we ever will. Perfect is a state that is completely unreachable and mythological, but happiness is a state you can reach any time, anywhere, in any body you please.

You are a goddess. A warrior. A strong force of feminine power. Sure, sometimes you're a bit of a mess. And other times you don't feel strong or capable, but you are still a goddess. You are still worthy of all the love you yourself have to give. 

Life is far too short to go another day at war with yourself. It's time to fall in love with everything that we are - even our changing bodies that will wrinkle and sag with time. 

"You are imperfect. Permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful." - Amy Bloom

If you're looking for a way to nurture and nourish your body, while learning how to love it, let me know. I'm here to help. 

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

Why you shouldn't waste time working on your diet.

How many times have you heard someone say (or have yourself said) something along these lines? 

"I need to work on my diet"

"I need to get more strict/serious and work on losing weight"

"Eating healthy/exercising is too much work. You only live once!" 

Last week I read an article about marriage. The article was discussing how marriage is less about working on keeping something beautiful than it is about continually building something beautiful and after I applied this thought process to my own relationship I thought, how true this is for nutrition too!

So often we dive into a diet/cleanse/meal replacement plan thinking, okay, I need to do this perfectly and then I'll lose weight. Then we (inevitably) fail, gain some, all or more of the weight back and look for the next answer to our weight loss woes. Why do we do this? Repeatedly? How on earth can we expect ourselves to execute something perfectly when we don't yet have the skills to execute something consistently? 

I am here to tell you that your nutrition is not something you need to work at in an effort to maintain perfection - a perfect meal plan; a perfect body, but rather, something that you continually build in order to construct skills that allow you to create a sustainable well-balanced diet that doesn't feel like work at all. 

With marriage, after all the vows and the va-va-voom, you're left with a piece of paper and a commitment, expected to create something out of nothing. WHAT!? What about the bumps, wrong turns and detours along the way to that Instagram-perfect picture of sacrifice, fidelity and love? Relationships are not prescriptive. What works for one couple might not work for another. There's no end or arrival, but rather a constant refinement of what works and what doesn't. 

Nutrition operates on the same principle. There will be bumps, wrong turns and detours. What works for your Isagenix-loving friend won't necessarily work for you. There will never be one ultimate and true diet that works for you regardless of slip-ups, sickness, emergency and inconsistency. Your diet (at least, an effective one) will be a constant refinement of what works and what doesn't. 

So why, WHY do we keep expecting it to be something different? 

Why do we spend so much time on trying to eat perfectly and be "strict"? 

Why do we spend so much energy on trying to create something out of nothing instead of building the skills that will get us where we want to go, albeit promising a longer road to get there? 

Why aren't we grateful for the detours and the distractions when they help us to better define what works (and doesn't) for our bodies? 

And why are we so afraid to invest our time and commitment into building something that will last instead of wasting our time and commitment on so many things that just. don't. work. 

It's time to stop working and start building. 

 

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

 

This is for the intern

Yesterday at work, one of our summer interns said to me, "Nicole, I saw your blog and I loved it!" and instead of accepting the compliment for what it was, I rambled on about how I don't update content as often as I'd like to and felt reeeeaaaally guilty for not posting more regularly. The truth is, writing is therapeutic for me and I love that my stories might be, in the smallest way, relatable to what you're going through. But, writing is hard. It takes time and commitment, like any other habit and more vitally, it takes vulnerability. 

As many of you know, several years ago I struggled pretty aggressively with overtraining and underfeeding. As is often the case, after a few years of disordered eating my body started to break down. After my first stress fracture I was forced to change my eating and exercise habits to be more health-giving. My only coping mechanisms - running and calorie control - were, in a way, taken away from me. 

Flash forward half a decade and I've made a 180. I eat for fuel, not for fashion. I train for strength, not for skinny. And I use more helpful (and healthier) coping mechanisms to deal with my grief and the random shit life sometimes showers down on us. My life changed so much that I committed my career to helping other people - just like you and me - create healthier relationships with food and fitness. I couldn't be more confident that my past experiences make me a better coach and allow me to have more compassion for those who are struggling and I wouldn't change that for the world. 

And while I still had my struggletown moments (because let's face it, who doesn't?), I felt like I pretty much had things figured out. What on earth did I have to be blue about? 

Segue to the part of my life when I lost the one thing that was most important to me, my little brother. I experienced deep, soul-churning sadness, denial, anger, depression and all those other little characters depicted in Inside Out. The worst part of it all? He was gone and I had absolutely no healthy coping mechanisms to help me deal with the feelings that he left behind. I was certainly tempted to retreat back to my safety net of obsessive control and restriction, but that hadn't worked for me before, so why would it work for me this time? With the help of my then-boyfriend I stayed the course and continued taking care of myself (although it wasn't easy) - mentally and physically, because, even though it didn't feel like it, I was worth it.

Flash forward years of therapy and figuring out how to live with loss and learning how to take care of myself even when I just felt like feeling sorry for myself and I was doing ok. At least that's what everyone kept telling me. Saying that I was handling the situation with such grace (if only they could see how I handle it when no ones watching) and that I continued to be their inspiration for health and wellness (even when some days I didn't feel 'well' at all). Everyone kept talking about how much I had given when the only things I could feel were what had been taken away. 

I married that man of my dreams and to this day he continues to pull me out of the dark spaces and lift me up into the light. I still go to therapy (because grief is never truly gone, you just start learning the language a little better) and I'm still learning how to truly take care of myself. 

Today, today I'm twenty-eight. I've been learning to live life without a sibling and best friend for two years. I've been learning to live life without obsessive control and disordered eating for about five years. But I'm sorry to say that I haven't yet arrived. This is a lifelong journey my friends. There will be bumps and bruises, slip ups and slaps in the face. Take for example, my most recent stress fracture. 

A year ago today I injured myself at the gym. No big deal, I thought, it happens. My goal was to get better before our wedding in September. When that didn't happen I took an even more conservative approach and started going to PT. After months of corrective exercises, modified workouts and still no relief of the excruciating pain, I got an MRI that revealed I had additional stress fractures, this time, in my spine. Talk about a reality check. 

My life is now committed to health. Physical and mental. I spend each day working to build healthy habits that will allow me to live the life I want to live and be the person I want to be, all while learning to love the person I am today and where I am in that journey...only to find out that some consequences come late and suck can still happen amidst the sunshine. 

Is this injury a result of my current lifestyle? No, most likely not. Did I do permanent damage to by body by, at one time, valuing calories above my self worth? Yes, most likely. Is that a really hard consequence to accept when I worked (and continue to work) really hard at shedding that old skin? Yes, absolutely yes. 

So here I am friends. Broken, in more ways than one and still committed, each day, to learning how to love my body more and accepting myself, and my life, for who I am and what it is. Because, we're all human. And we all need permission to BE human. Say what you need to say, do what you need to do, be who you need to be. But please, please take care of yourself and those around you. Because this body is the only one you will get and your mind is a beautiful gift to be treasured. 

It's time that you were seen, appreciated and acknowledge for who you are - wherever you are at this particular moment in life. Show up authentically. Show up with your needs and desires. Show up with your wants and dislikes. Show up and be who you are, broken and unbroken. 

Because life isn't above the arrival, but the journey that takes us there. 

Unhappy Birthdays & Broken Bones

It's been awhile since I've shared anything other than Nutrition Tips of the Day <if you're not getting them, find me on Facebook!> and delicious, healthy recipes. And I wish I could say I had a great reason or even a halfway decent excuse, but the real answer is, I haven't wanted to. 

If you've read any of my writing before, you know I'm a self proclaimed perfectionist. My therapist confirms this, just so you know I'm not fabricating for dramatic flare. My self esteem and success revolves around my being able to execute and perform everything up to my own unreasonable standards as well as the standards of those around me. I'm unforgiving, both of myself and of others. I put my control in external factors and fail to appreciate internal mechanisms such as self worth and belongingness. And on a daily basis I fight with the critic inside my head that shouts some variation of, "you're not good enough!" 

I'm working on all of this, but, lately, it's been a real struggle. Because my life doesn't look like I think it should (I know, I know, does anyones?) Case and point: From about 2010-2013 I struggled with disordered eating. This was my coping mechanism for the stress going on in my life at the time, but the bottom line is, I failed to take care of myself - mentally or physically - during those years of my life. There were certain components of my life that were completely out of my control and I hated that (perfectionist, remember?), so I overcompensated by controlling my calories and my workouts to a detrimental degree. I've been in "recovery" for several years now, and just this past month I was diagnosed with ANOTHER stress fracture. My first thought was, "Seriously!? But I'm healthy now. Why is this happening to me?" The worst part is, I have absolutely no one to blame but myself. These are consequences to my actions, no matter how long ago they occurred. It's a hard lesson to learn twice, let me tell you. 

So here I am, coming up on my twenty-eighth birthday with fractured vertebrae, wanting to do just about anything but celebrate. Not because of my back. Injuries heal, whether they come with hard lessons or not. But because, for me, birthdays aren't just about celebrating another year of life anymore, they're a reminder of the life I lost, on my birthday, two years ago. The life of my little brother. I can't expect you to know or understand how hollow it feels to get Happy Birthday greetings on the day you found out your brother died from an overdose, but let me tell empty doesn't begin to describe the feeling. And please believe me when I say, I'm not asking for sympathy in lieu of celebration (please, none of that), I'm simply sharing my story - that's sometimes sad - because I have no doubt there are days when your life doesn't feel like the picture in your head too. Let's talk about it sometime.  

Birthday memories are now happy and sad, expectant and sorrowful. And you know what? That has to be okay, because this is my life. And I'm learning how to deal with this sadness and stress in healthy(ier) ways. What does that mean exactly? It means, making space for myself. Space to heal, space to grieve and space to grow. Space to focus on the things I can change and to let go of things I can't. Space to be obligation free and cry and laugh and do whatever the hell I feel like doing in that moment. Space to be me, scars, stress fractures and all. 

So tell me, how are you creating space for yourself? 

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

 

RECIPES Galore!

Hi Friends. 

As a result of some delicious Insta stories and food prep videos over at @nutritionwithnicole, I've been getting requests left and right for these recipes. Give them a try and let me know what your taste buds think! 

1. Thai Turkey Meatballs 

This recipe can be made PALEO and low FODMAP, if you're into that sort of thing. Me, I just think they taste delicious. Go here for the recipe

2. Slow Cooker Hawaiian Shredded Chicken 

The perfect blend of sweet and savoury. This recipe calls for canned pineapple, but I used fresh, since it's that time of year! Go here for the recipe

3. Cuban Style Black Beans with Cilantro and Lime 

We paired this smart carb with the turkey meatballs and it was de-lish, but honestly, it could be paired with pretty much any protein and veg. Go here for the recipe

4. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potato 

We love a slow cooker recipe because, easy peasy. But moreso, we love delicious food. And pairing kickin' chicken with a sweet potato is a good place to start. Go here for the recipe

5. Southwest Turkey, Vegetable and Rice Skillet 

Ever crave a one-dish meal that includes everything you need: lean protein, colourful vegetables, smart carbs and healthy fats? Here it is! We chose to omit the cheese and add black beans, but you do you. Go here for the recipe

6. Barbecue Chicken Casserole 

Here's one I haven't had the chance to try, so let me know how it is. Go here for the recipe

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

Addiction is not a disease we can enforce our way out of.

In 2016 there were 117 fatal overdoses in Lancaster County involving heroin, prescription painkillers and fentanyl, according to LNP.  This represents a 40% increase from 2015 and more than double the number of fatal overdoses from 2014.  

If you follow local news, or keep an ear to the recovery world, you might have heard that in some towns prosecutors have resorted to criminally charging drug abusers. Our own Lancaster County District Attorney, Craig Stedman even claims that “there seems to be a lot of sense to that specific approach.” 

My friends, this is not the solution. Criminal prosecution is, without a doubt, the wrong response to this public health crisis. I understand that this overdose situation is out of control and needs to be more efficiently addressed. But instead of expressing how "fed up and tired" we are about the opioid epidemic, let's commit to understanding more about - showing more compassion to - its victims. 

Addiction is a brain disease. Research demonstrates that there are chemical changes in the brain, even after ones very first exposure to opioids. Are we incarcerating people diagnosed with diabetes? High blood pressure? Of course not. We encourage help in these situations, outreach and referral to resources and community support groups. We offer advice, sympathise, maybe even empathise with these fellow men and women. But why, when it comes to the disease of addiction, do we pull away in disgust, criticise harshly with judgement and condemnation and rely only criminal prosecution in lieu of true solutions? 

Is it out of fear and a lack of understanding? Because that, I understand. I remember like it was yesterday looking my brother in the face as we sat squished in his hospital bed, after another overdose, asking him - begging him - if this could please be the last time. The last time he did this to himself. The last time he used drugs. The last time he put mom and dad through this torture. The last time...

I will never forget his answer, or the look on his face when he said, 

"I wish I could say yes, Nik" 

Would he have given up heroin to avoid 180 days in jail and a fine? I wish I could say yes. But having watched, lived with and loved a boy who wanted nothing more than to be well, to be whole, to be enough without substances, struggle year after year, day after day, fighting the disease he ultimately lost his life to the answer is very clearly, no.

Addiction is not a disease we can enforce our way out of. Education, counselling, treatment, intervention, and recovery communities...these are more worthwhile solutions to focus our efforts on. Solutions that speak to the person, not only to the "addict". 

(I know I normally talk about nutrition, exercise and lifestyle happenings, but every once in awhile you'll have to bear with me as I wear this bleeding heart on my sleeve. Some things are worth standing up for, no matter how many times you're pushed down.) 

RECIPE: Slow Cooker Chicken, Butternut Squash & Lentil Curry

Talk about a hearty comfort food esque meal that is packed with protein to keep you full. I didn't grow up eating curry, but now that I have my own kitchen with my own spice rack and am always looking for delicious, new, good-for-you recipes to test, I've been getting more creative with my culinary skill set. 

Enter, the curry. I slightly adapted the recipe from sweetpeasandsaffron.com to include more muscle-building protein (no surprise there), but otherwise followed the instructions to a T - mostly because there's only one simple step...."toss everything into the slow cooker". It doesn't get easier, or more tasty, than this. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups red lentils (or any color, really)
  • 4 cups butternut squash, cubed (I keep the big ass frozen bag from Costco in my freezer)
  • 1 sweet onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons curry powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¾ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 19 oz can coconut milk- full fat
  • 19 oz canned diced tomatoes, including juices
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 6 large chicken breasts 

Directions: 

Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook low 8 for hours. I wasn't kidding, this can't be messed up!

unnamed.jpg

I just enjoyed my first bowl and I can confidently tell you that it won't be my last. This meal is a stand-alone. It includes lean protein, smart carbs and healthy fats (not to mention you get a serving of veggies too!) AND it can easily be made meat-free for my vegetarian and vegan friends. We plan to enjoy this throughout the week with green salads, rice and roasted veggies. 

If you like spice, this is for you. 

If you like easy, this is for you. 

If you like food that can be pre-made for the week, this is for you. 

Have I convinced you to make it yet? 

 

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

From one infected person to another...

I went to therapy this morning. My therapist told me I'm a perseverating ball of anxiety and that I need to get back into writing to bleed some of it out. So here I am. 

I haven't been writing lately, journaling or blogging. I thought it was due to "writers block", a busy schedule or a lack of inspiration, turns out I'm being avoidant. Basically because I stuff all of my feelings away, behind the skin stretched across my face that's always smiling, and don't truly acknowledge or feel them until I pause, embrace the stillness, and accept all the feels (even the really shitty ones - my words, not hers). 

And when you bottle that anxiety up for long enough, it festers and grows. Like an infected wound or a cancer. And it oozes into other areas of your life until you feel like your watching yourself from the outside, because this pathetic struggling soul can't possibly be you. 

In sum, my experience of life has been pretty crappy lately. In an effort to be perfectly clear, my life itself is the farthest thing from crappy, I am beyond blessed. But my experience of life, my personal reality has been a big pile of (insert smiling poop emoji here). Why? That's a question even I can't answer sometimes despite my very intention to do so. 

Some days I feel depressed. Other days I'm so anxious I find myself rubbing the middle of my chest, as if to get some relief. And some days, are just as they should be. Beautiful, happy. But lately, the beautiful days have been far and few between. It's been building, slowly. I've noticed it piling on over the past few days, weeks, even months. But in true firstborn I-can-do-this-myself fashion I kept shoving the gremlins down, pushing onward and upward, trying to exceed every expectation life, and those in my life, place on me. It's what I do (but I'm working on that). 

Are there signs? Oh, of course. Like crying half of my snow day away because the stillness, the not-being-so-busy-I-actually-have-time-to-feel was just too much. Or the fact that I have intentionally avoided thinking or talking about my dead brother and the grief I carry for the past several weeks. Or maybe the strong aversion to going anywhere or doing anything with people that require sincere emotional interaction. All reality. All signs I've ignored and trampled over because they don't fit my perfect illusion of what I want my life to look like. 

Not being happy, carefree and kind 24/7? What will people think? 

Taking an emotional health day because you're crying your eyeballs out over someone you no longer have in your life? Not acceptable. 

Staying in because you just need to be alone and work your shit out? People will start to talk...

The world doesn't leave space for mental health. I know this both professionally and personally. But then, what are we to do when we struggle? How do we acknowledge something the world doesn't choose to see? How can we talk about it when the conversation is never had?

You can only trample on and hide feelings for so long before they become physical manifestations. An illness. An injury. A headache. A digestive issue. If you shut your mental health out for long enough your body will find a way to express what it needs in other ways, until you're flat on your back and forced to face reality. So whether you listen to your body or your brain, please listen. Those feelings, those thoughts, they're trying to tell you something. And it might not be what you want to hear, but I promise it will be what you need to hear. 

Anxiety is not my friend. And it certainly doesn't belong in the perfect illusion of what I want my life to look like. But anxiety is a part of my reality. And you know what? That's okay. Because I know what to do about it. Pause. Breathe. Be still. Acknowledge the feelings. And I know how to release it. Write. Talk. Listen. Share. And whether or not anybody else is talking about it, I have to. Because beautiful, happy days and depression, stress and anxiety don't have to be mutually exclusive. 

If you're struggling with mental health, for whatever reason, reach out. Talk about it. 

Find someone who is willing to have the conversation. 

And check out the Campaign to Change Direction: http://www.changedirection.org

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

A public service announcement to ALL WOMEN, everywhere.

Ladies, 

I'm sorry. You have been wasting so much of your time trying to do the right thing, only to get unimpressive, unsustainable or absolutely zero results. And for this, I apologise. 

Everywhere I look I see magazines, and other forms of media, claiming to yield amazing results in just about seventeen seconds with little to no effort. I see ads and hear other women talking about wanting to "tone" or "lengthen" their muscles, without getting "bulky".  I have clients ask me what superfoods they can eat in order to get the tight tummies and trim thighs they see on other women...

and this kills me. Because society has done us a huge injustice by first telling us that our bodies are not good enough/beautiful enough/thin enough as they are, but now we're being told that in order to achieve the "ideal body" (or even just an appropriately fit one), we need some sort of special light-weight-only-cardio-crazed "toning but not bulking" magic muscle workout and diet plan so we don't get big and muscley (because, God forbid we embrace our strengths). 

So here it is gal pals, some hard truths. 

A muscle can grow or it can shrink, but there is no way to make a muscle longer or leaner or more or less tone.

How your muscle looks on your skeleton is affected by two things: 

1. Genetics. How long your bones are, the length relationship between muscle bellies and tendons, and insertion points determine what your muscularity will look like on your frame. I don't need to tell you that these things are entirely out of your control, barring some sort of crazy body-morphing surgery.

2. Body fat percentage. Individuals with a lower body fat percentage will have more of their muscle on display because there will be less fat covering it. The good news - this factor IS in your control, as it is primarily a result of your diet, training, sleep, stress management and various other lifestyle factors. 

So, if your goal is to look long and lean, and you stand at 5' tall and have short limbs, I'm sorry to break it to you, but you won't ever look like (insert your supermodel of choice here) - thanks to mom and dad. But that doesn't mean you can't still look absolutely amazing. You absolutely can. 

...More on that later.

Let's first clear a few things up about the big, bad word, "bulking". Bulking is defined as a muscle growth phase achieved by a caloric surplus. In other words,

You can not, and will not, gain muscle unless you are eating more than your body expends through activity. 

Yes, you heard that right. Building muscle is HARD work. And it won't happen unless you are eating a lot and intentionally training for hypertrophy "the act of building muscle". 

She's talking about heavy weights right?

No. Heavy weights do NOT make you "bulky". Muscle gaining programs - designed specifically to add muscle mass to your frame - incorporate a LOT of volume (to stress the muscles), time under tension, and progressive overload (in addition to a caloric surplus)...but that's getting a little scienc-y. The bottom line is, eating more than your body needs when muscle gain is not the goal and training is not geared towards hypertrophy, is what leads to unanticipated weight gain and a higher body fat percentage. This body fat is what covers your muscles, making them look soft and "untoned". Which sends you into a downward spiral, searching for the next fab food fad and/or exercise regimen, promising to deliver your dreams on a silver ab roller 2000. 

So here it is. Instead of focusing on getting "tight and toned" or "long and lean", you will get better, longer-lasting results if nutrition is your #1 focus. This includes the quality of what you're eating, as well as how much you're eating. The way your body looks, the way it feels and how it performs can all be significantly improved by how and what you choose to eat. And that answer isn't super sexy because it's not rocket science and it's not some "magic pill" that saves you from the commitment of consistency (which is why isn't not on the front cover of any magazine), but it is the truth. 

When it comes to activity, do what you love. Movement is great. Movement you enjoy is even better. You know what's great too? Building muscle mass. And here's why:

1. Your health. Advancing age is associated with a loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia). Preserving muscle mass can preserve strength, and strength is a predictor of survival as one ages. 

2. Your quality of life. Muscle growth improves function. Larger muscles are often stronger muscles, leading to improved daily functioning in most individuals. Have you ever needed to carry groceries from the car to the house? How about laundry? A baby? Additionally, because muscle is metabolically active, individuals with more muscle (and lower percentages of body fat) have better insulin control. 

3. Your appearance. Muscle mass improves your body appearance. Women who gain muscle mass while remaining relatively lean appear tighter, firmer, and more “toned.” Men who gain muscle mass while remaining lean appear stronger, larger, and more athletic. This is, of course, subjective, but most "I want to look like that" body types have a significant amount of muscle mass, along with a relatively low body fat percentage. 

No matter what your goal is - whether you want to get lean, get strong, or get super sexy so you look good naked, start with nutrition. Adjust accordingly based on what you're looking for (muscle growth, maintenance, fat loss, etc.) Then find a great training program that you enjoy and helps support your goals. If you need help with either of these, I'm here for you. If this is still confusing for you and you don't quite understand, that's okay! There's a lot of information out there that muddies the issue. I'm here for you. 

But ladies, for the good of womankind let's please throw out the terms "bulky" and "toned", and instead of dieting and exercising out of fear try eating and training for health because it allows us to feel good, live well

...and look hot as hell. 

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

nutritionwithnicole - Food Prep Stories

Hi Ya'll 

Something new and exciting I've been playing around with - sharing some of my food prep stories on Instagram @nutritionwithnicole. If you're not currently following, and you like food, check it out! 

This weeks story includes the following recipes for you to try: 

Quinoa Fiesta Enchilada Bake 

Recipe adapted from: Skinnytaste.com

Recipe adapted from: Skinnytaste.com

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tbsp chipotle en adobo sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen thawed corn 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus 2 tbsp for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups feta cheese, divided*
  • 1 medium (4 oz) haas avocado, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 12 baking dish.

In a medium saucepan cook the quinoa with broth according to package instructions; when cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden, about 1 – 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, cumin, 1/4 cup broth and chipotle en adobo. Bring to a boil and simmer 3 to 4 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, green chiles, corn, black beans and 1/4 cup cilantro. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese and mix. Place into baking dish and spread evenly. Top with enchilada sauce and remaining cheese. 

Cover with foil and bake until hot the cheese is melted, about 20 to 25 minutes. To serve, top with avocado, scallions and remaining fresh cilantro and enjoy! 

To make this recipe a delicious, well-balanced meal, we're pairing it with salsa chicken:

(chicken breasts + low sodium salsa + crockpot = easiest protein ever made)

Slow Cooker White Bean Tuscan Vegetable Soup  

Recipe adapted from: Afamilyfeast.com

Recipe adapted from: Afamilyfeast.com

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1½ cups sliced carrots (about ½ pound)
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper (15-20 cranks from a pepper mill)
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth 
  • 32oz lean beef roast, diced (boneless skinless chicken breasts would work too!)

Directions: 

Add all ingredients to your slow cooker. 

Set to LOW for 8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours). After 8 hours, remove lid, stir and enjoy! 

Protein Pancakes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup oats 
  • 1-2 scoops protein powder (I used pea, but whey works too!)
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup egg whites 
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 TBSP almond milk 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • cinnamon, to taste 

Directions: 

Toss all ingredients in a blender/food processor/bowl and mix until fully incorporated. On a nonstick pan/skillet/griddle coated with cooking spray, pour batter into desired sized pancakes and cook until slightly bubbled and firm. Flip and cook until done. 

Top with almond butter and maple syrup and enjoy! 

 

Double Chocolate Protein Cookies 

Recipe adapted from: ifoodreal.com

Recipe adapted from: ifoodreal.com

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe avocado 
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats 
  • 2 scoops protein powder (I used pea protein, whey would work too!)
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips 
  • 6-8 TBSP dark cocoa powder 

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking tray with in foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. 

In a bowl, mash bananas and avocado until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. With wet hands, mold batter into cookies and place on baking tray. 

Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Let cool and enjoy! 

 


Let me know what you think of one - or all - of these recipes. We can't wait to try them! 

 

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

 

    "Mommy has a fat belly."

    Today, while in the women's locker room at the gym, I observed a young lady talking to herself in the mirror (or so it seemed). Her words made me sad, but what truly broke my heart was when I realised she was talking not to herself, but to her unborn baby. 

    "Mommy has a fat belly. Mommy needs to take a picture of this gross, fat belly."

    The weight that I felt after witnessing this conversation sank me. This child hasn't even been introduced to the world yet, but he/she is already being introduced to moms personal body shaming and poor body image. 

    And while most of us probably don't think twice about making an off-the-cuff remark about not having dessert because, "I'm trying to lose 5 pounds" or "those calories will go straight to my thighs", or choosing another outfit in our closet because, "that one makes me look fat" or because, "nothing can hide this belly"...we forget that these words have power. Lasting power. When we say these things - and I'm not even talking about the vulgar language we use inside of our own heads - what must our children think? What are they learning from us?

    A study at Harvard Medical School found that a mothers concerns about her own body weight are a leading cause of body image problems in adolescents. The same study reported that the more a mother was concerned about her own weight, the more likely she was to pass these attitudes onto her children. Similar studies have been conducted using fathers and sons and unsurprisingly, the results are the same.  

    So, does this mean you can never mind your weight or focus on self improvement without permanently damaging your children!? No, of course not. But are our children watching us try liquid diets, cleanses and other overly restrictive diets and exercise regimens to achieve some sort of fleeting body satisfaction? Or are they watching us take care of our health - inside and out - physical and mental - in a progressive and sustainable way? Are our children hearing us criticise every calorie and excess pound? Or are they listening to us celebrate the successes and praise our bodies for what they can do? Eating well, moving often and affirming that no matter what our weight (or how big our bellies) that we are enough, that right there is an invaluable lesson. 

    I am not a mother and certainly not an expert on parenting, but all of this got me thinking...how we speak to our children about their bodies is important, yes, but could it be that how we speak to ourselves about our bodies when our children are watching (or when we think no one is watching) is even more important? 

    Body positivity, body image, body confidence...these are really hard issues. Many of which I see as sticking points - trouble spots - for a majority of my clients. Living in a world where image is everything makes it really hard to be a real person with bumps and jiggle, scars, love handles and extra fluff. Is being healthy important? ABSOLUTELY! But when we say, "I want to be healthy" are we talking about mental health, or just the physical? Because I would argue that how we feel and talk about our bodies is just as important as what we put in them. 

    This post is not meant to single you out, but to call for a culture change. Instead of being so consumed by the criticism, let's change the conversation around body image. Let's praise our bodies and the bodies of our children for what they can do rather than what they look like. Let's allow for open discussion about eating well and exercising, but choose not to directly correlate these positive behaviors with weight gain or weight loss. And above all, let's remember that what we say to ourselves is heard (and potentially someday practiced) by our children and those around us. Let's be the example. 

    Because, mom, you are enough. Mommy is strong. Mommy is making positive changes. 

     

    Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

    holy moly, I have something so stinking awesome!

    Do you ever stumble upon something that makes you stop and think, holy moly, I have something so stinking awesome!

    Today, that happened for me. I was reminded of how unbelievably blessed I am to have the man I do, standing by my side every day. And I'm sure many of you guys and gals can share your stories of why your S.O. is just the best freaking thing ever too (I'd LOVE to hear them), but, let me just brag about mine for a second. 

    Nicole Patrick-Wedding Photos-0041.jpg

    Patrick is God's gift to me. I could never be convinced otherwise. He came into my life at the perfect time, carried me through the ugliest battle anyone can ever go through and still, to this day, chooses to love me more. Through each memory, each argument, each adventure, he's always there. Sometimes, to be perfectly honest with you, I don't know how he does it. 

    It's the little things, like how he always asks me what I'm thinking before bed so that I can quiet my cluttered, at-times compulsive mind long enough to fall asleep. Or how he always wakes me up with breakfast ready on the mornings he has to be at work early. Or how he encourages me to get the chai latte and f*ck the calories. And let's not forget about last week when I - at some ungodly hour - shot up in bed because I forgot to re-park my car for street cleaning and he dutifully grabbed his sweats and shoes to drive around the block in the rain so I wouldn't have to. 

    But it's also the big things, like coming with me to therapy because he knows grief doesn't just affect me, it affects us. Or how when I get overwhelmed by the prospect of running my own business or getting everything "right" he pulls me close and whispers words of affirmation in my ear. Or how, he helps coach me back from injury - despite all my wining and complaining - encouraging me to celebrate the wins and stay positive. Or how when I feel defeated, confused and don't understand why God decided to take my family away he doesn't rush to make everything okay but simply says, "I'm here. I'm your family".

    These are just some of the things, some little some big, that all add up to create this guy that I am so, so honored to stand beside. Don't worry, he isn't perfect. But he is everything that I need (and even everything I sometimes think that I don't) wrapped up into one handsome husband, my #beardedbeauty. 

     

    PS. Let's not tell him I was bragging. He's shy.  

    Get your bellies READY!

    Guys. Food prep is one of my BIGgest secrets. No lie. I spend a few hours each week writing my grocery list, hitting up our usual places (Costco, Giant, Market) and slicing and dicing, followed by one serious food prep. Do I love spending three hours in the kitchen on a weekend? Not always. But if it means I don't have to spend hours throughout my workweek, when I'm sometimes tired, cranky and hangry (yes, I'm guilty of all of those), cooking or thinking about cooking or ordering in a less-healthy option, I'm game. 

    So, enter this weeks NEW food prep recipes. There are, of course, the classics. Hardboiled eggs, protein balls, chopped veggies with hummus, etc. But then there are the meals we get REALLY excited about, and I'm happy to share two with you today. 

    Basil Coconut Curry Chicken. 

    I originally saw this recipe on thefoodcharlatan.com but we're not big chicken thigh fans around here and why do something in two steps when you can do it in one, right? So, instead of cooking my chicken separately, I added it all to the slow cooker (hello timesaver!) 

    Ingredients: 

    • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • salt and pepper
    • 2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk (lite coconut milk is great too)
    • 2 tablespoons dried basil leaves
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
    • 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 large red onion, chopped
    • 8 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
    • 1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

    Directions: 

    1. Toss everything - except for the cilantro- into the crockpot and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours, or until chicken can be easily shredded. 

    2. Using two forks, shred the chicken and turn crockpot to warm. Allow mixture to marinate for up to 30 minutes. 

    3. Season with salt and pepper and add cilantro. 

    We chose to serve this with rice, but it could easily be served with any smart carb such as pita or naan bread, cauli-rice or over roasted veggies. De-lic-ious! 

    White Bean, Tomato and Chorizo Soup. 

    This makingthymeforhealth.com recipe was not originally made for the crockpot, but because I'm greedy for more time with my husband - who I see very little of during the week - I made a slow cooker variation and it turned out AWESOME. Also, I added a protein, because, muscles. 

    Ingredients: 

    • 1 -1.5 lbs. of chorizo/chicken sausage
    • 2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 (24 ounce) jar of marinara or crushed tomatoes
    • 6 cups vegetable broth 
    • 1 bunch kale/swiss chard/spinach
    • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 3 carrots, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
    • 1/2 cup dry whole grain elbow noodles (we used GF)

    Directions: 

    1. Chop everything that needs chopped. 

    2. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker, except for the spinach and whole grain (or GF) noodles. Set to HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. 

    3. 30 minutes prior to being finished, add noodles and spinach. Stir to combine. 

    4. Enjoy!! 

    My noodles got really well-done, so it came out more like a porridge, but we are LOVING IT. The beans give it a creamy texture and it almost tastes like a healthy, veggie-packed mac n' cheese (without the dairy!)

    You have to give one, or both, a try. I'll definitely be putting these on the to-make-again list. 

     

     

    Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

    On scrapping perfection, and other seemingly impossible tasks.

    You know those annoying people who set unreachable goals and resolutions, have a disgusting amount of self control and will power and are always doing the right, perfect, never-need-whiteout things? 

    Yeah, I spent a lot of years as one of those people. 

    Hello, my name is Nicole. I am a firstborn, people pleasing perfectionist. Or, at least I used to be. Now, I just stuff that part of myself into a deep, dark mental box...just kidding. My therapist would be so embarrassed. The truth is, believe it or not, I started identifying and working with the shame I felt surrounding my failure and vulnerability. I started acknowledging the middle. That ill-defined between space that exists between the two farthest points on the spectrum of all human behavior. Yes, I am telling you that you can make mistakes - fail miserably even - and still make progress toward your goals and achieve unbelievable success. 

    I always thought the middle-moderation-mistake making "no mans land" equated to failure. But you know, I was wrong. Like, really wrong. The middle is magical. The middle allows for both failure and success, for loss and for gain; it allows for real life. Nobody wins by being perfect. It's impossible. It's a destination no one can ever get to, and the time, effort and sense of self you lose trying to get there isn't worth it. Trust me, I tried. And I thought I had arrived, only I didn't realise until it was too late that my solution was to starve all of my problems and my shame away. Whether your personal solution is to resort to over control (disordered eating, over exercising, micromanaging, etc.) completely surrendering control (over eating, binge eating, under functioning), or somewhere in the middle of those two, you know just as well as I do that it's not a happy comfortable feel-good place to live. 

    I won't pretend to have unshackled all of my perfectionist tendencies. I still struggle. Just ask my husband who is privy to most of my "but that's not (read as: I'm not) good enough" meltdowns...like when he challenged me to eliminate food logging from my life for the month of January. But I have found a lot of freedom in this new space. And just as I advise my clients to "wipe the slate clean" each and every day, I began doing that very thing. And it. was. awesome. 

    I indulged a little, lived a lot and let myself make mistakes. And guess what? I didn't move any further away from my goals. In fact, I moved closer. Because, as it turns out, exercising perfection, wearing guilt and shame like a weighted vest is not a great way to get to where you want to go. 

    You can be imperfect and progress. Failure can be a step to success. To lose can be to gain. It just takes a shift in your perspective and a hell of a lot of practice. 

     

    Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.    

    The perfect plan that requires zero struggle but yields all the results.

    Have you ever played that egg toss game where you throw an egg back and forth with a partner, stepping a little further apart each time you toss? You keep tossing until eventually (and it always happens) the egg drops and you get yolked.

    When you think about it, dieting is exactly like the egg toss. 

    You keep juggling until, oops, one slip - one mistake/misstep - and you're done. Game over. 

    In the words of Thomas Plummer, because he says it best:

    The single biggest lie in fitness is dieting. Diets do not work and never will. Adapting healthy eating, based upon you as an individual and with the guidance of someone with some practical experience, to your body is the only way to keep your weight under control.

    And I completely agree. One cookie does NOT have to turn into ten, or twenty. One "bad" choice does NOT mean we have to toss up our hands and say, "welp, too bad, I gave it a good college try! This must not be the diet for me. I'll just keep looking (and spending lots and lots and lots of time, energy and money on finding the perfect plan that requires zero struggle but yields all the results)." Sorry, no. 

    In order to truly succeed you first have to get rid of the 'What-The-Hell-Effect' (seriously, it's a thing). Get rid of the, "I tried. I failed. What the hell, pass me another piece of that pie...". It doesn't work, for anyone, ever. Want proof? Take a look at any diet resolution you've ever made. How did it work out for you? 

    But you know what does work? Resilience. Weathering the ups and downs of progress (because, sorry folks, it's not always linear). Realising that one "bad" meal does not ruin the next, or have any negative value on your self worth or ability to stick with a program. Resilience, building the tools to eat well and in moderation in any situation, is the sole key to success. 

    The "comply or die" mentality simply does not work. So before you begin some crazy weight loss meal plan you found on Google this January, ask yourself this, does it encourage an ALL or NOTHING mentality? If so, it's likely to lead to you not achieving your goals, more program jumping and a defeatist attitude. If it allows for real life, encourages balance and supports both success AND slipping up, you're more likely to get and keep the results...maybe even forever. 

    Over the past four years I have ditched the dieting mindset and coached dozens of clients to successful weight loss, helping them to develop the skills necessary to do it on their own (because, the nature of my job is that one day you won't need me anymore). 

    So as you enter into this New Year, I encourage you to be okay with the slip ups, because they don't have to signal the end of your progress. Realise that your journey is a process, not a strict protocol. There are not rules you have to follow, but an intuition, a sense of what feels right for you, you need to gain. Because the most effective diet is the one that never ends. 

    And if you feel like you've been trying and can't seem to find the results you're looking for, or if these healthy habits feel hard to implement into your life, I'm here to help. 

     

    Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

    Never _____ Enough.

    You are absolutely reading that correctly. Register for Be Well between now and December 25th and you will receive 25% OFF your entire 10-week coaching package. Because, Merry Christmas!! 

    But don't do it just for the bargain, sign up because you're ready to change your life. In the words of one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown,

    Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, 'No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.' It's going to bed at night thinking, 'Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging'. 

    If I ask you to fill in the blank below: 

    Never ___________ enough.

    What comes to mind? Never good enough? Never perfect enough? Thin enough? Successful enough? Smart enough? Sexy enough? We spend too much of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining and worrying about what we don't have enough of. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we are inadequate, behind, losing or lacking something. And these ideas then influence our impulses to fit the mold and try the latest diet...fitness trend..."cleanse" or hot-float-paddleboard yoga class. Aren't you tired of it? I sure am. 

    But in order to push back, in order to fight for what we truly believe in, we must feel and acknowledge that we are, in fact, enough

    It takes a lot of courage to say YES to yourself and commit to creating the authentic, abundant life you want. I invite you to take that step today. I am here to help you get fit from the inside out. Say YES. 

     

    Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

    2017 MUST DO's

    you are lovely.jpg

    2016 was a beautiful year for my now-husband and I. We got engaged, flew to a gorgeous destination for our wedding and celebrated with friends and family. It was, without eggageration, the closest thing to perfection. But marrying the love of my life aside, this year has had it's ups and downs. I'm still trying to figure out this adulting thing...having a job, being an entrepreneur, running my own business, saving for those "down the road things" like buying a house and starting a family, not to mention making new friends (and trying hard to keep the old ones). It's hard. But even harder, for me, has been learning to continue life after the death of my brother. We're in year two and I can't say it's gotten any easier. In fact, holidays, family events and birthdays still pretty much totally suck. And that's something I'll have to figure out navigating for the rest of my life. 

    But looking ahead to 2017, there are a few things I want to learn how to do. For me. 

    1. Start my day with love, not technology. - I want 2017 to be the year of the digital diet. I'm not exactly sure what this will look like yet, maybe simply not having my phone on/around me during the weekends so I can focus on quality time spent. But each morning, before turning my phone on/checking my email/scrolling through Instagram, I want to start my day with love.

    2. Get emotionally honest. I'm pretty much the best at putting on a happy face and showing the world what I want them to see (full disclosure). But this year, I want to let go of the numbing feelings and mindfully feel my way through my life. Pain, joy, sadness...I want to embrace them all. 

    3. Expand my interests. I want to go somewhere I've never gone, do things I've never done and see things I've never held in my minds eye before. Because, I have the right to an awesome life. 

    4. Be willing to surrender. No matter what I think my life should be, I choose to embrace and breathe in what is. I cannot ever see the whole picture, and in 2017 I am going to accept this, surrender and let God do God. 

    5. Practice patience with myself. So often I'm frustrated or disappointed that I haven't arrived yet. Whether it's a goal for my career, my skill set, my body...But I am choosing to adopt a practice of patience, and love my perfectly imperfect self.

    6. Discover the power of fun. Being an adult too often means checking things off the list, going to work at 9am and leaving at 5pm, finishing chores, blah, blah, blah. I am going to create room for play. Dr. Stuart Brow says, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it is depression.”

    7. Love my body for what it can do, not how it looks. Self-acceptance for the win. 

    My list is far from complete, but it's a pretty good start so far. What are your 2017 MUST DO's?

     

    Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

    "I'm FAT, GROSS and DISGUSTING" and the real answer.

    I'm going to share a few scenarios and you tell me whether or not you can relate. 

    Scenario 1: You're having an "ugly" day. You're not feeling hot, sexy or attractive - AT ALL. But you are feeling bloated, heavy and blimp-ish. Your significant other doesn't know this. In fact, he/she sees you like they always do - as beautiful. They go to wrap their arms around you, giving you a big squeeze and you...push them away. You quickly remove their hands from your waist or move their arms from across your belly and shrug it off. Your significant other feels confused and slightly offended, but this isn't about them. This is about you. In this scenario, you feel fat and therefore, in some way unworthy of affection; not beautiful. Your first thought might be, my fat is preventing me from being loved, being worthy, being beautiful. 

    The real answer: YOU, your perception, your self worth is keeping you from all of those things. 

    Scenario 2: You are wearing a really cute outfit. You've worn it before, but today, today it feels different. It feels like your hips are popping out of the top of your pants, as if things shrunk a little in the wash...not to mention you caught a glimpse of your back fat (damn this bra, I swore it fit perfectly last week) in the mirror and you did not like what you saw. Suddenly, your mood dampens. Your day darkens and every encounter you have - those inside your head (especially those you have inside your head) and those with other actual human beings is affected by this "I'm fat, gross and disgusting" attitude. Maybe you're short with your spouse, you snap at your children or you're the grinch to the cashier at the supermarket. The bottom line is you're unhappy, all because of a pair of pants. You think, my fat is preventing me from being happy, from feeling good, from truly living. 

    The real answer: YOU, your perception, your self worth is keeping you from all of those things.

    Scenario 3: You're feeling GREAT about yourself. Seriously, maybe you just had a fantastic workout or you ate a delicious salad, either way you are ROCKING the day. Then, maybe hours, minutes or even seconds later you see someone else walk by - someone slim, sexy and (seemingly) super confident. And suddenly, you are no longer any of those things. You are inferior, insecure and in need of a new diet/exercise plan/article of clothing ASAP to make you feel better. Because, comparison. You think, if only I could look like her, dress like her, be as thin as her...THEN I would be fulfilled, my life would be complete and I would be enough. 

    The real answer: YOU, your perception, your self worth is keeping you from all of those things.

    Can you relate to any of these scenarios? I sure can. 

    And I say, it's time for us to STOP thinking of ourselves this way. STOP talking about ourselves like we're projects that need fixing. STOP worshipping the bodies of other women and START worshiping our own bodies. START giving ourselves permission to take a break and bask in grace. And it's time to START completely detaching our worth and character as a person from the size and shape of our bodies. 

     

    How? I'm willing to figure it out together. Starting in January of 2017, myself and some other amazing ladies will be embarking on a Be Well journey - a 10 week body-positive coaching course for women. To learn what it means to affirm that our body fat and our self worth are not in any way connected. To recognise that we do not have to slave endlessly for leanness in an effort to be happier, accepted or more at home in our own skin. To learn that we are already worthy of those things RIGHT NOW. 

    Because you deserve to be free in your body and thrilled with the life you live. You deserve to give yourself the permission to be powerful, to love your body and to forever separate your worth from your physique. Let me show you how.

     

    Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. 

    I am too sad to walk.

    As I sit here reflecting on my week, I am completely confident of this one thing: everyone needs compassion. The power you give someone when you love them exactly as they are is unmatchable and allows him/her to become the greatest, truest version of themselves. 

    Yesterday, I was in serious need of compassion. I had a day full of coaching clients, for which I am so grateful. And during the short, in-between moments I capitalised on writing posts, writing emails, writing feedback, returning calls and even racing to the gym for a short stairclimber workout. 

    After my last client I felt productive, accomplished and completely exhausted. I should have come home, sat in a minute of silence and checked in, asking myself a few important questions. 

    How do I feel? What do I need right now? What is my body telling me? 

    But instead, I found myself starting food prep to get ahead on the next day, readying dinner ingredients and cleaning the kitchen. When my husband called on his way home from work (as he often does, bless him) I finally stood still and was overwhelmed with anxiety. When I finally slowed down long enough to pause and assess, I was way off course. My chest felt tight, my stomach in knots and I was overcome by debilitating fatigue and overwhelming sadness. When my husband walked in the door, I was curled up in the fetal position, dinner half-ready, covered in a blanket, with tears in my eyes. And I had no idea how I had arrived at this place. 

    In loving and coaching my clients throughout the course of the day I had completely forgotten about doing the same for myself. I had missed small opportunities to breathe deeply and rest, and instead chose to stay busy. But busy doesn't serve anyone, I know this. Busy is so often the reason my clients find themselves so far from where they want to be with no end in sight. Busy is the barrier to self-care and goal achievement. But I'm human and just like so many others I needed someone to say, "Sweetheart, slow down. Take a breath and just stand still, here, in this moment. The rest will come, but right now, just pause." 

    And as my coach whispered those words in my ear I realised, everybody needs this; compassion. To be met where they are and be accepted unconditionally; to feel seen and appreciated. This is the core of feeling wholeheartedly empowered and at home in your own skin. 

    So as you go throughout life, some days not unlike mine I'm sure, find someone who can speak compassion into your life. Find a coach, a friend, a confidant, who will empower you to live your life to the fullest. And who, when you're "too sad to walk", will pick you up by the foot and carry you along with them. 

    PS. If you haven't seen Inside Out, you simply must. It's spectacularly on-point and relatable.

    Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.