The Importance of Food Journals

It has long been said that eating right is the majority of the battle when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. When it comes down to it, the average American doesn't get enough of the good foods, the foods that help you lose weight or tone your body, on a regular basis. In recent years the trend has begun to change, but many people still don't get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets.

Aside from this, there are typically two types of people when it comes to eating: those who eat too much and those who don't eat enough to lose weight or move toward their fitness goals. Yes, calories matter. At the end of the day, you need to consume less calories than you are using in order to lose weight. However, consuming too little of an amount can actually cause your body to hold on to fat and hinder you from reaching your goals.

So after all of this, why are food journals important?  Making a change is hard, but most of the time we don't actually realize what we need to change and how to make that change.  This is where a food journal comes in.  A food journal will allow for you to see the portions and types of food you frequently eat.  It allows you to have tangible evidence of what needs to change in front of you. There's no need to feel bad or ashamed about what's on the paper.  What's important is that you get to choose where to start and how to change going forward.

For the next three days I would like you to write down everything you've eaten and the times that you did so. Note the times that you ate and what you ate in that sitting.  Obviously, estimation is fine, since sometimes it's hard to write everything down as things happen.  If you are curious to see how much water you are drinking, I would add that in the times that you drink water as well. 

Here's a sample page from one of my first food journals:

There are few things to notice from just one day of me doing this:

  1. I need more fruits and vegetables.
  2. I also need to eat a snack between lunch and dinner. I was so hungry I wanted to overeat and then snack on a bunch of junk food or sweets afterward.
  3. I should eat a bigger breakfast with more fruits or vegetables.

Now do three days of this and you have an idea of what you need to work on consistently. Write down everything that you find needs to be changed and choose ONE of those things to work on for two weeks by itself. Since overeating at night was prevalent all three days, I decided to add a snack in before/during my practice time (usually a fruit since it was easy to carry), and it actually helped me sit down and enjoy dinner without being overly hungry.

What are you going to change over the next two weeks?  Share you story below!

If you need further guidance or would like help with this join our Facebook Groups: Cr3ation Fit Moms or Cr3ation Fit Women for community and support. Or you can email me at cr3ation.fitness@gmail.com

 

 

 

Combatting Pelvic Pain with Exercise

 Pregnancy and childbirth brings a beautiful bundle of joy, but with it can also come some serious pelvic pain.  If your baby is resting low or drops as you get ready to go into labor, getting around can become painful. Relaxin also relaxes your muscles and ligaments around your hips in preparation for childbirth, which can also cause pesky pelvic pain. Finally, the recovery process after childbirth can be painful as your body is putting itself back together (I couldn't walk fast or for long periods of time for more than a month).  Many of us just chalk the pain up to pregnancy and childbirth, but what if there was something we can do to help combat this pain and recover from it more quickly?

Glute and core exercises are key to aiding with pelvic pain. The three exercise listed below are safe with modifications for wherever you find yourself in the process.  After 3-4 days of doing these exercises 2x a day, I found myself already feeling the difference!

Three Exercises That Can Alleviate Pelvic Pain

006.JPG

Glute Bridge Hold

Lay on your back and put your feet shoulder-width apart.  Lift your hips up off the ground as high as they can go (overextend) and hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat x2.

*If you are pregnant, use a yoga ball or the edge of the couch for support. Your head and shoulders will be higher than the rest of your body.

** If you have Diastasis Rectii keep your stomach level with your shoulders and knees. Do overextend as it will put more pressure on the separation in your stomach.

 

Glute Kickbacks

Use a wall as your support. Balance on your left leg. Slowly tighten your glutes and bring your right leg back, toe pointed forward. Hold for 2 seconds and slowly release.

Do 12 reps on each side. Repeat x2.

*If you are pregnant, go back as far as comfortable.  As long as you are tightening your glutes, this will help you.

 

Pelvic Tilts

For this exercise you can lay on your back or sit in a chair or against a wall.  With your spine in neutral (there will probably be a small space between the flat surface and your lower back), tighten your abs and bring your hips toward your head. When you do this your lower back will touch the floor. Hold for 2 seconds. Release.

Tighten your abs and bring your hips toward your feet.  As you do this, your lower back will come further off the ground. Hold for 2 seconds. Release. 

Do 12 reps and repeat x2.

    Why are glute and core exercises able to help combat pelvic pain? Many of us, whether it be from sitting at a desk or sitting from bedrest, have under-active glutes, which causes the hips and hip flexors to do more work to stabilize our bodies. The key is to activate your glutes to not only create more stability, but to also help repair and strengthen your body after childbirth.  Strengthening your glutes will also aid in alleviating any imbalances there may be with your pelvic girdle, as lower back muscles may pull one side of your body out of balance.  Diastasis Rectii is another situation which can cause pelvic pain, since your core is not working as it should and thus puts more pressure on your pelvic girdle.  These three simple exercises will make a tremendous difference with easing your pain and repairing your body.

As always, check with your doctor if you begin feeling any discomfort or pain and refrain from doing these exercises until you are cleared by your doctor to begin them again.

 

 

Creating a Healthy Lifestyle

     One of the biggest obstacles I face on a weekly basis is finding a way to exercise and eat right with a busy, hectic lifestyle.  The most common advice I hear (yes, even as a fitness professional), is that you can reach your goals in a short amount of time by following a strict diet and exercise plan that isn't fun and has diet restriction that are unrealistic.  Most of the time the problem with this is that it doesn't actually fit into our lifestyles, so that when we stop after the prescribed month or so of following the plan, everything that we sacrificed for starts to reverse itself. It's no wonder why we tend not to see much progress when we follow this advice!

     The key to creating a healthy lifestyle is quite simple.  I would like you to take the next 5 minutes to sit down and write out your fitness and health goals and what you like to do when it comes to exercise.  Keep in mind, going to the gym is not necessary, nor a requirement to get fit.  While it works for some people, it doesn't work for others, and that's OKAY.  For instance, I like to do a lot of plyometrics, play volleyball, jog occasionally, and lift weights.  I don't have a gym membership, because I have dumbbells and I try to play volleyball twice a week.   Some of you may like to get a gym membership and go to a spin class, Zumba class, or hop on one of the cardio machines.  Others of you may simply go for a nice walk.  The point is that you need to find what works best for you, because you are the only one who can actually do the activities for yourself.  Now that you have your goals and your interests, it's time to create a plan.

      First things first: Go ahead and choose the MOST important fitness goal. Is it to lose weight? Firm and tone your body? Be specific with your goal. Ex: I want to lose 2 inches in the next 6 weeks.

     

The next step is to address the exercise that you like to do and figure out a way to work it into your schedule.  Bring up your schedule or calendar in front of you for the next week. If you don't have anything, go ahead and create a calendar and write everything you have to do, including meals, cooking, and when you plan to go to bed.  Let's start with 10 minutes a day.  Is there a 10 minute time slot that you can walk or do any other type of physical activity?  Start with 10 minutes at a time this week.  Try to find 2-3 other 10 minute time slots for you to do physical activity (ideally some type of cardio) this week. After a week, find what works best for your schedule.  If you can increase time, then do so. If you workout really well late afternoon and can only do that 3 times a week, then do that and make it a habit.

     Moving further, your next goal is to incorporate some sort of exercise for 10 minutes a day, 5 times a week. If you walk or do cardio for 3 of those days, now 2 days a week you can do abs, a total body workout, or some other type of exercise that you enjoy doing. The point is to get moving and to create space in your day to do so. Things will not change overnight, but by focusing on one goal at a time, it will be much easier to accommodate and to reach your goals.

In my sample schedule, I have highlighted the times that I can add 10 minute sessions. I can also add sessions when I have my daughter with me, but those will be more limited with what I can do.  Circle or highlight the times that you have free and write in your activity for that day.

  

 

         Going from being exhausted, eating unhealthy, and not doing any form of exercise to living a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming and unobtainable when you try to do everything at once. Lifestyle change comes from hard work and determination.  It comes from slowly making smaller changes that keep you on track and moving toward your goals. Join a group, find a coach, or ask 2-3 different people to join you on your journey and keep you accountable. It's hard to make a change by yourself. Find someone who can keep you on track and moving toward your goals.

         If you feel like you may need more guidance in reaching your specific goals, please ask for help! I write $25 individualized exercise programs (that last up to three months), and also offer different coaching programs to help you reach your goals. If you are looking for extra tips and a safe place to ask questions about fitness related topics, join our Facebook group: Cr3ation Fit Women.  Now let's get moving!

The Forgotten Middle: 3 Ab Exercises to Strengthen and Tone Your Abs

           As a long time athlete, I used to push myself to do ab exercises that were new and extremely difficult because it felt good to challenge myself and work hard.  As often as I did these exercises, I still always found myself with a small "pooch" where my lower abs were.  Like most people would do to combat this, I started doing more lower ab exercises to help target and strengthen the area, but to my surprise the pooch never went away.

           As I began my fitness coaching journey and training, it became evident that I was missing something when it came to abs. After going through pregnancy and childbirth and earning my Prenatal/Postnatal Certification, I began to realize that there was a crucial part of our abs that the majority of us have been neglecting: our transverse abs.

What are our transverse abs? 

  • These are the innermost abs that hold in our organs.
  • Their function is to stabilize the spine and pelvis, and they are commonly known as the "corset muscle". 
  • Working these muscles will SIGNIFICANTLY improve your lower back pain and create a flatter stomach.

3 Ab exercises that will work your transverse abs:

1. Core Braces

       Core Braces are exactly what they sound like: bracing your core. Laying on your back with your spine in neutral (there may be a small space between the floor and your lower back and that's OKAY), tighten up your stomach and hold for 5 seconds. You should be able to breathe through this normally.

Do this exercise 20 times and repeat 2 times.

2. Pulsing Braces

        Pulsing braces use the same concept as core braces. Laying flat on your back with your spine in neutral, tighten up your stomach and hold for 3 seconds. Instead of releasing all the way, release halfway and tighten up your abs again.

Do this 20 times and repeat 2 times.

3. Pelvic Tilts

Begin by laying on the ground with your spine in a neutral position. Bring your belly button toward your head, which will cause your hips to tuck under and your back to lay flat against the floor. Return back to neutral position.

Next, bring your belly button toward your toes. Your hips should tilt forward and bring your back further off the ground. Return to neutral.

Do this exercise 20 times and repeat 2 times.

Where can you do these exercises?

        I would begin these exercises while laying on the ground, but once you understand how these exercises work, these exercises can be done anywhere!

                        - Sitting at your desk while at work.

                        - Standing in line or while cooking dinner.

                        - Driving in your car.

   These exercises, while they may seem easy, are very effective at drawing your stomach in.  Who knew that working your abs could be so effortless!

    

      

5 Minute Pan-Fryed Honey Garlic Shrimp

  Shrimp is one of my favorite and easiest proteins to cook. Since I'm always on the go, this simple recipe has saved me countless times from the fight of slaving away in the kitchen over a single meal. The majority of the work (flavor-wise) is done for you as long as you let the shrimp sit with the marinade long enough). Mix the ingredients before you go to bed the night before and let it sit until you are ready to cook the next day!

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound frozen or fresh shrimp (frozen must be thawed)

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 4 cloves garlic (add more to taste)

  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Thaw frozen shrimp.

  2. Mix honey, soy sauce, and garlic in a bowl.

  3. Add in shrimp and place the lid on top. Shake and let marinate for 20 min +.

  4. Once marinated, pour into a pan and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes (or until finished).

  5. Enjoy with your favorite sides!

Shredded Chicken and Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Let's be real for a moment.  No one wants to spend countless hours slaving away in the kitchen on top of juggling a busy schedule. There are so many better things that can be done! If it takes more than 30 minutes, I often won't even attempt to cook it.  However, this dish only took me 40 minutes to cook.  I did all of the prep work while the quinoa was cooking AND had time to fold 2 loads of laundry, clean the kitchen, and entertain my 7 month old. Some call me superwoman, but it honestly just boils down to the fact that I don't like to waste time (and it always helps that my daughter loves to chase me in her walker while I'm in the kitchen).

During the summers I am always looking for healthy, easy dishes that don't make the house any hotter than it has to be. Of course, it also has to be delicious.  In a quest to use what we had at the house, I managed to make a simple and filling dish that the whole family seemed to love!

Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: yields 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound shredded chicken
  • 1 18oz can diced tomatoes (substitute for fresh tomatoes if you please)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce (I used romaine since we had it in the house)

Directions:

  • Use a medium sized pot to cook the quinoa and follow the directions on the package.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, shred and rinse the lettuce, and rinse and drain the black beans and tomatoes. Combine the three in a large bowl.
  • Cook and shred the chicken while the quinoa is cooling.
  • Add the quinoa and chicken to the bowl.
  • Mix and add seasoning to taste.

You can add to this dish by incorporating lemon juice, which I plan to use the next time I make this. I also think I may incorporate some chickpeas as well!

Regardless, it was very easy to make, it was very time friendly, and it will definitely be seen in our house again!

Any additions you'd like to share? Comment below!