The Rungry Health Coach

Why it's time to breakup with the calorie counter

Calorie counters are sexy in principle.

The idea of being able to see the numbers of what goes into food can be incredibly appealing. For someone looking to lose weight, many rely on counting calories. Because weight loss starts with a caloric deficit, it can be helpful for some to track their daily consumption to see if they're creating the desired deficit.

For someone looking to change body composition--gain muscle  lean out--a tracker is appealing in that will enable the counting of macronutrients, protein, carbs and fats. This is when they follow calculated percentages of the macros, and eat within these parameters. Often, these plans look at nutrient density of a food, and not just its calorie count. 

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As helpful as these tools seem to be, they can do more harm than good. I've tracked both--calories and macronutrients--in two very different contexts. When I tracked calories, it was because I wanted to lose weight. When I wanted to "lean out," I followed a specific macronutrient plan. Now, I don't do it and wean my clients off of their trackers. 

But why? If these tools are so helpful, what's the problem? Food is no fun when you're constantly obsessed over the numbers. 

It's not reliable 
There is a margin of error on any nutrition label. The numbers represented in that sleek box are not always an accurate measure of the exact nutrition within a food. So, for one, there's that.

Secondly, when following a generic tracker,  these plans often are not tailored to your own individual needs. Some people naturally need more fuel--it's because we're all different. Every body needs something a little different and these blanketed plans don't work for all. So, when a calorie tracker spits out its suggestions as to what calories, proteins, carbs and fats you need, know that they were not created with your unique needs. Activity levels, heredity, hormones (or lack thereof), stress levels, and more all contribute to a person's unique dietary needs. 

When dieters started believer that we need 1,200 calories to lose weight, that number was created without  thought to a person's individual needs. (It is now known that we need far more calories than that.)

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It removes the fun from food
When you're constantly uploaded numbers, recipes and every little thing into a calorie counter, food just becomes less fun. Being spontaneous and going out for ice cream isn't as fun when you're tied down to a little phone app that tells you the fat and calories will put you over your total for the day. 

Say goodbye to eating out at a restaurant. Most restaurants don't have nutritional information for your app, let alone nutrimental information for their menus. Because of this lack of information, it leaves the user in a feeling of limbo. They're more likely to eat "what they should eat" instead of eating something they truly want because they're too concerned with the numbers. 

Food becomes more about the numbers and less about the enjoyment and memories made. 

It's not intuitive
Continually tracking the numbers is not intuitive. When a person is continually tracking, they begin to lose track of their hunger and fullness cues, and their body's natural cravings. When their body is craving a veggie burger with sweet potato fries, but they don't have room for a small bowl of yogurt and carrot sticks, they suppress that craving and eat "within the plan." (And this subsequently removes the fun from food.)

And sometimes, when someone may not hit their desired numbers, they eat when they're not hungry to avoid a deficit. 

Unfortunately, you can't forget the calorie count of an egg, the amount of fat in a tablespoon of peanut butter or how many calories are burnt after running one mile. When we continually focus on the numbers, it creates a disordered way of thinking.

Easy Cheez Sauce

It takes time
In order for the counter to work, you need to input all of those foods. Think of everything you eat and drink within a day--that's a lot--and then image having to upload that information into some kind of app. That takes time! (Time better spent practicing self care or making memories with friends and loved ones.)

You have to type in what you're eating, find it within the app and repeat. Sometimes, you have to upload the entire recipe. Other times, you have to upload the specific brand that you use if you can't find what you're looking for. 

That's both time consuming and maddening!

While some people have found "success" uploading their foods at the beginning of the day, this then creates a plan of what should be eaten throughout the day. Although it's not set in stone, it leaves very little wiggle room. (And you guys know I hate the word should.)

It's stressful and not sustainable
It takes time, patience and effort to continually upload foods. Overtime, that constant uploading of foods into the counter becomes far too much. It can easily lead to burnout. 

And when you go over your desired numbers for the day, there's lingering stress, guilt and anxiety. Going over desired numbers elicits a feeling of "being bad." Getting burnt out or frustrated is common with these practices. 

Because of the time commitment, the emotional investment and how it changes a life, tracking nutrition information is not a sustainable practice. It's simply not something that someone can maintain for the rest of their lives. 

(There are some situations where counting macros or calories may be necessary. Talk to a dietitian, health coach or doctor if you have questions or are concerned.)

Ready to break up with your calorie counter? Let's chat!

The Rungry Health Coach

Two Factors You Need to Be Truly Healthy

A healthy diet consists of two components, and one is often forgotten about.

Yes, eating lots of kale, quinoa, grass-fed beef, chia seeds and other hippy foods are imperative to a healthy diet. But, all these nourishing foods are just one small piece to a complex puzzle. 

What's missing is a healthy relationship with food. You can eat all the kale salads you want, but if you're terrified of doughnuts, binge eat when everyone is asleep or restrict fats, you'll never get to be your healthiest self. (Even those who eat a healthy diet may suffer from an eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa. It's an unhealthy obsession with eating "healthy" foods.)

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Often times, our relationship with food is damaged from the beginning from constant dieting. Bouncing from one diet to next greatly damages how we see food. It no longer becomes about fuel--it becomes something we need to control.

A healthy relationship with food is imperative to overall happiness. When we have food freedom we're able to enjoy all that we eat, our bodies can lose weight naturally, we finally break up with our diets, and food no longer becomes an obsession. 

What are some of the warning signs you have a poor relationship with food?
  • The idea of eating outside of your own home causes you anxiety
  • Counting calories and macronutrients obsessively 
  • Food has become an emotional crutch
  • Pushing food onto others instead of eating it yourself
  • Eating past enjoyment
  • Restricting foods at mealtimes despite being hungry
  • Ignoring your body's signals and cravings to eat
  • Obsessively measuring out foods
  • Expecting perfectionism and feeling guilty when you " fall off the wagon"
A healthy relationship looks different for a lot of people, but it genuinely has the same principles. 
  • Honor your hunger cues
  • Eat until satisfied, not stuffed
  • Put all foods on the table and allow yourself to eat any of them in any quantities you want
  • Don't restrict, don't worry about calories and don't 
  • Listen to the voices within and really heed what they are saying
  • Acknowledge where your current relationship with food is, and where you'd like it to go
  • Get rid of all attempts at perfection
  • Understand that eating one doughnut or almond croissant does not make you a terrible person, nor will you balloon up and gain five pounds instantly
Healing an already suffering relationship with food is hard, and it's harder to do it alone. Does any of this sound familiar? These thoughts are both scary and damaging, but health coaching can help. Let's schedule a time to chat about where you would like your relationship with food to be. 

The Rungry Health Coach

5 Ways to Naturally Boost Energy Levels

We all know what's it's like to roll out of bed and not feel rested.

We also all know what it's like to fall into the famous 3 PM slump, and need a cup of coffee (or three) to make it to 5 PM. 

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As helpful as that cup of coffee can be, the caffeine stays in our system for hours after consumption and could very well keep you up at night. Plus, it's not healthy to continually rely on caffeine.

Think of that cup of coffee as a Band Aid. It covers the problem, but doesn't necessarily fix the issue. To address chronic fatigue and a poor night's sleep, try getting to bed earlier. (And keep a consistent sleep schedule!) You can also limit technology use, as the blue light emitted from phones, computers, etc. actually disrupts our body's natural ability to deliver melatonin. Get to the source of the problem first.

But sometimes even after a good night's sleep, you don't feel rested. On those days, there are ways to combat fatigue and give yourself a much-needed boost.

  1. Try a cold shower. Whether it be first-thing in the morning, or when you feel like you need a pick-me-up, try cranking that faucet handle to cold. As our body tries to handle the shock of cold water, we begin to breath deeper, which increases our oxygen consumption
  2. Drink lots of water. When we don't drink enough water, our body starts to lose energy. To know how much water you need, divide your bodyweight in half, and that number in ounces is how much water you should be drinking.
  3. Supplement with B12. While not a long-term solution, a high-quality, whole-food B12 supplement will keep your cells happy. B12 helps regulate thyroid function, but is water-soluble. That means your body cannot store extra B12, and relies instead on the foods you eat everyday to get enough B12, and other B vitamins. If you're deficient in B12, your energy levels will be lacking.
  4. Get some daily movement. A tough workout can give the body a much-needed boost, but if you're at work and unable to get the gym, get away from the desk and go for a walk. Try incorporating a little bit of movement into certain times of day. Movement helps send oxygen to the body's cells and helps your heart and lungs work more efficiently.
  5. Reach for complex carbs. Carbohydrates are broken into two camps--simple and complex. Simple carbs (fruit, white bread, sugar, white rice) are quickly digested in the body and used for quick energy. Once our body uses up that energy, it's typically for energy levels to dip. Familiar with the sugar crash after eating candy? That's what I'm talking about. Complex carbohydrates, however, take longer to digest and provide longer-lasting energy. Bonus points when combined with a healthy fat and/or protein. If you're crashing in the middle of the afternoon and need a snack, bypass the blueberry muffin and instead reach for some whole-grain cracker and avocado.
Do you struggle with fluctuating energy levels? Send me a message!

The Rungry Health Coach

10 Tips to Have a Healthy and Awesome Vacation

So often, vacations become calorie-laden bombs. Individuals think that like them, their goals and habits are also on vacation. Soon, this becomes a justification to drink every night and eat heavy foods until the point of extreme fullness. And upon return, your body feels greasy, groggy, bloated, uncomfortable. Ever feel like you need a vacation "detox?"

I used to travel like this all the time. I would take that vacation time as an excuse to stuff myself with all the foods I deprived myself of during my regular life. I also stopped exercising. There was also a time that I was so afraid of other foods and calories, that I would eat very particular things and make sure to bring all of my own snacks. The latter mindset would not let me fully enjoy the experience. 

I traveled at one of two extremes...I had no middle ground. No balance. 

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Now, I allow myself to indulge in treats, but only as they sound good. I only eat something I truly want...and I eat until I'm satisfied. (That may mean just a few bites.) I do something active everyday--a morning run, a bodyweight workout, walking, bike tour. I drink alcohol sparingly and instead drink plenty of water. I put emphasis on vegetables but still seek out local delicacies. I also still bring snacks--especially for the airplane. And as a vegetarian who eats fish occasionally, I don't let my preferences stop me from enjoying the local foods. If I want something with meat, then I'll eat something with meat.

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My mindset on travel has drastically changed. It's because I allow myself to enjoy the vacation, but I also keep my long-term goals in the back of my mind. I don't like the idea of coming home bloated and uncomfortable. I don't like the idea of needing a "detox." I put emphasis on daily movement, I eat until satisfied and I know that all foods are on the table. I put memories over calories...but I do it within reason. And when I'm home in my normal life, I allow myself to have a few treats so stop me from feeling deprived. 

You can truly enjoy your vacation without guilt and without extreme restriction. Here are my top 10 tips to have a vacation you love without sacrificing the experience. 
  1. Pack plenty of snacks. Depending on where you're traveling, you may not have immediate access to something to eat--especially when the hunger beast comes. And for long plane rides, having snacks at the ready not only decreases cost, but stops you from eating poor-quality airline food. Apples, oranges, avocados and veggie sticks travel well. Protein bars, jerky and hard-boiled eggs are great protein options. You can even pack a whole meal salad!
  2. Put emphasis on daily movement. You don't have to continue your strict exercise regimen while on vacation, but some kind of daily movement can go a long way. It can also help ease jet lag. And daily movement, doesn't have to be structured exercise. You could go for a long walking tour or rent a bike. Of course, you can still carve out some time to do a sweat session. There are many pieces of equipment like resistance loops or bands that can travel well. 
  3. Seek out vegetables. Often during vacation, we put sweets and other delacies over veggies. If possible, aim for a vegetable at every meal. You can also challenge yourself to eat a salad every day.
  4. Eat until satisfied, not full. It can be really, really easy to eat an entire piece of chocolate cake for example, well past the point of feeling satisfied. There comes a point where eating that cake no longer becomes enjoyable. Sometimes eating until satisfied does not mean finishing the entire piece of cake, plate of food or ice cream cone. Eat until you're satisfied. 
  5. Put memories over calories. Put down your calorie counter and don't fret about all that you're eating. Enjoy yourself, but again, listen to the cues your body is sending and don't eat until you're overly uncomfortable.
  6. Lay off alcohol. I know...I know. Alcohol always seems an integral part of vacations, but it does inhibit our functioning. And as we get older, our bodies just can't bounce back quite as fast as they did. Enjoy a glass of wine at dinner every now and then, but try not to go overboard.
  7. Do something educational. While you're in a new place, do everything that you can to learn about the local culture and customs. Immerse yourself in the goings-on. Visit a museum, take a tour or talk to the locals. Feed your soul with information.
  8. Disconnect from your phone. Do you really need me to expand on this?
  9. Prioritize sleep. You may be in a new place, but that doesn't mean you can't get a good night's sleep. Stick to a reasonable bed time and wake up time. If you're struggling from jet lag, do your best to get yourself on the country's time table. This will make it easier for you to adjust.
  10. Choose local eats over creature comforts. You're in a new region, state or country--I hope you're sampling the local cuisine! But, I do understand how a few days away from your own routine and favorite foods can be overwhelming. As tempting as it may be to indulge in something form your home, remind yourself this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That burger, peanut butter blob or fried chicken will still be there when you get home. 
Beth Sandwich
Need more help with mindset shifts? Set up a FREE health strategy call!

The Rungry Health Coach

Five Awesome Foods for Runners

Runners are a unique breed of human: They believe that all of life’s problems can be solved with a long run, and get excited about a $125 pair of sneakers. (They won’t blister your feet!)

With this uniqueness comes a unique set of needs, especially when it comes to fueling. Runners need a good mix of nourishing fuel to help them continue doing the sport they love. Similarly, like filling up your car, not all fuels are created equal—some nourish, heal and energize our bodies better than others.

To help boost performance, heal quicker and ease pain and inflammation, there are five foods that stand out to help a runner.

Fruits and Nuts

Probiotics

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of probiotics because new research is constantly coming out about them. But what are those little buggers? They’re these microscopic bacteria that live in your gut and boost health. They keep you healthy by being the gateway to your immune system. When we eat more probiotics, we’re setting our bodies up for success.

Probiotics can help athletes by supporting proper immune function, and by increasing antioxidant absorption. These little guys also improve digestion and the absorption of protein and fats, which is good news because athletes have the highest nutrient needs than anyone.

Probiotics come in many forms. Many organic grocery stores carry probiotic capsules. Do read labels to learn what strands you’re getting. But probiotics from food may be best. Naturally-occurring probiotics can be found in yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi.

Also, make sure you’re eating fibrous foods like banana, onions and garlic, which are considered pre-biotics. These act as the food source for the bacteria.

Beets

Beets have a very distinct taste—you either love them or hate them. But, beets are incredibly beneficial for athletes and runners.

Beets have naturally-occurring nitrates. It’s converted in the body into a compound that helps dilate the blood vessels. With the vessels dilated, a runner’s blood-flow capacity is increased and it lowers the amount of oxygen needed. This is good because it helps a runner use oxygen more efficiently and ultimately move more efficiently.

These vegetables can be spiced and roasted, turned into soup, blended into smoothies and even grated into salads. Beets can be eaten cooked or raw. If you’re on the fence with these red-hued powerhouses, try golden beets! Their flavor isn’t as earthy as their red counterparts.

Avocado

Fats are friends, not foes! (Please tell me you’re imagining a shark…)

Yes, fats got a bad rap in the 1990s, but they’re incredibly beneficial to runners. Fat provides energy. Although our body’s main source of energy is carbohydrates, when those stores run low, our bodies run on fats instead. There are certain vitamins as well, that need fat to be metabolized and properly absorbed. Fat is also loaded with beneficial fiber, and fiber helps keep the tubes running properly and smoothly.

Avocado Toast

Whether you pile on the guacamole to your toast, add avocado to your dinner, hide avocado in a batch of brownies or simply add some into your smoothie, avocados

Ginger/Turmeric

Both ginger and turmeric, either ground or fresh, have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is a warming spice and it has antiseptic properties. It can also promote circulation throughout the body. Turmeric can be used as a medicinal herb and it can drastically increase the anti-oxidant capacity of the body.

Sprinkle liberally in spices or stews, add a fresh chunk into your morning smoothie or add a thin slice to tea as it steeps. 

When it comes to turmeric, also add some black pepper (Yes…even in smoothies!) to help with the absorption of the turmeric.

Coconut Water

During a long run, a runner’s electrolyte stores run dry, and they need replenished. Electrolytes are minerals that help stimulate the muscles and nerves. They also help regulate the body’s fluids which can affect blood pressure, blood volume and cell function.

Most runners and athletes reach for an over-sugared sports drink. They’re often handed out at races, too. In addition to having a sugary punch and artificial colors, they are nutritionally void.  Coconut water is nature’s sports drink.

Coconut water, the clear liquid inside a coconut, is higher in naturally-occurring electrolytes than sports drinks, and is also lower in sugar. It’s incredibly hydrating and very versatile.

Add it to smoothies, fill up your hand-held waterbottle, or make your own sports drink!

Next time you run to the grocery store to grab these foods, read up on some of my favorite grocery store tips! Download my FREE guide.

The Rungry Health Coach

Why I Stopped Counting Calories

Dietary numbers surrounded me most of my life--calories, fat grams, Weight Watcher points. The numbers were always there. So, when I wanted to lose weight after graduating college in 2009, I started counting calories. It seemed like the obvious choice.

I downloaded a little fitness app to my iPod Touch (I'm dating myself), and started counting. At first, it was such a rush to see the numbers add up. I loved adding in my exercises and seeing my deficit increase. I distinctly remember a day where I had consumed under 300 calories after adding in my exercise. And I was so pleased with myself.

But the habit wasn't sustainable. It made going out to eat incredibly difficult and awkward--seeing as I always had to type something in. 

It took me about two years to lose 25 pounds, and throughout that time, I switched on and off with calorie counting. Eventually, I realized how unsustainable the habit was, and stopped. But my disordered eating habits continued.

I frequently thought about food and used it as a weapon. I ate too much or too little. I chose food as comfort and did not choose foods that fueled my body properly. I demonized foods and labeled them as "good" and "bad." When I switched to a whole foods diet, I neared orthorexia and began to demonize all "unhealthy" foods instead. (I was terrified of things like white bread!)

Then, I wanted to lean out. 

It was 2015, and I began working with a dietitian to increase my muscle mass and lose body fat. She prescribed macronutrient numbers to reach--those are suggested ratios of proteins, carbs and fats. She knew about my history of disordered eating and I had convinced her and myself that I was over it. (Spoiler: I wasn't.)

70.3 Chuck Norris


I re-downloaded the calorie counting app--this time on my iPhone--and began to track. I did see some results from using my dietitian's suggested numbers. I started feeling much stronger in my runs. I felt well fueled. But slowly I started to obsess.

I planned out my day of eating meticulously at the beginning of every day. I tried hard not to go out to eat, and if I did, I tried to find foods and numbers that best fit what I could find via the app. I developed a phobia of certain foods--especially carbohydrates. I kept telling myself I was healed from my eating disorder days. 

To make this more complicated, I was training for my first marathon, and I followed this eating style to the T while training. My daily caloric base was around 1,800--again, while marathon training--and my dietitian told me I could lose a little weight. (I remember, I was under 128 pounds.) There was a rule that I could eat an addition 100 calories for every mile I ran over six miles. I looked forward to those days because that meant I could eat more.

After that race, I knew I needed to get out of this. I wasn't seeing the results I wanted. I wasn't "leaning out." So I switched dietitians. My experience with her was a good one and I was able to wean myself off of macronutrient counting.

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Now, I just eat.

I try not to worry about calories, fat grams, sugar grams or macronutrients. I know how unsustainable counting can be. While some people may need to count macronutrients to reach certain goals (I'm looking at you, body builders), it's not a habit the rest of us need to undertake.

I do still naturally balance things like my carbohydrate intake (maybe I don't need bread at every meal), and I do consume more protein on days where I'm lifting very heavy. But, I have become much more fluid with my carbohydrate and gain intake--something I needed to do. 

My body has a good understanding of what it needs and wants. I listen to those cravings and callings. I still put emphasis one wholesome ingredients--but I let my body do the rest. Sometimes, I eat more. Sometimes, I eat less. I try to put emphasis on protein, fats and veggies first, and try not to worry about the rest.

By breaking my habit with numbers, I was able to continue healing from my eating disorder. Even today,  it's still an ongoing recovery process, but I know I'm doing right by my body. 

Do you struggle with counting calories? Are you ready to stop using tracking apps?


The Rungry Health Coach

How to Fuel Before and After a Workout

Pre- and post-workout nutrition can be really confusing.

There are many, many, many, many tips, suggestions, recipes, blogs on the topic...and you've probably read most of them. And yet, you still have some confusion. 

"Do I need a full meal before I workout in the morning?"
"Does that 30-minute feeding window really exist after a workout?"
"Wait! I can't even get home from the gym in 30 minutes!"
"I ran five miles today...GIVE ME ALL THE FOOD!"

This is just a small sampling of the inner monologue you're probably having.

But pre- and post-workout nutrition doesn't have to be overly complicated. Ultimately, put emphasis on real, unprocessed foods like oats, eggs, veggies, nuts, fruits and lean meats. Also, when fueling, consider your current activity levels and current goals. Someone training for a marathon is going to fuel differently after a run than someone who just finished a 30-minute weight workout at the gym, and they both are going to fuel differently than someone who is looking to lose weight. 

Fruits Veggies On Cutting Board

Pre-Workout Nutrition

There are two schools of thought on this...and neither are wrong. 

Pre-workout nutrition often depends on when the workout is. For those who enjoy to workout first-thing in the morning, many can workout on an empty stomach. When the body has not been fed, it's in a fasted state. And it is in this state, where the body can burn fat as fuel. Once the body eats, it switches to burning carbs as fuel. Some people don't like working on a full stomach--it feels heavy and sloshy. But, some people really do feel better with a little something. A small snack like half a protein bar or banana may do the trick. If you're going to eat before a workout, stick to something like fruit, juice or a whole-food protein bar that can be used as quick energy.

But others just feel they perform their best after a meal. In that case, you may want to wait at least an hour for the food to properly digest before getting into your workout. (When you eat right before a workout, your body is competing to both digest food and help you workout.) For the meal, stick to real foods, and a good combination of protein, complex carbs and fats. Oatmeal with berries, Greek yogurt with berries, peanut butter and apples, or chicken with sweet potatoes are all great options. 

Ideally, listen to your body. If you're hungry first thing in the morning, then have a little something. If you're ravenous and have the time, then treat yourself to a full meal.

If you're working out later in the day, like after work, you may need a little something to tide you over as you workout...especially if you didn't have a snack in between lunch and getting home. 

(Some companies do sell drink mixes that are used for pre-workout energy. Me personally, I do not think they are needed. If you want to try one out, read the ingredients and make sure they are all real ingredients that you feel good about ingesting.)

Your activity level and the extent and intensity of your workout all play a role in this. 

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Post-Workout Nutrition

Just like pre-workout nutrition, there are different ways to fuel after a workout. 

The post-workout snack or meal should contain protein and carbohydrates. Protein is needed to repair muscles and help them recover. When your body is working out, you're burning energy. Carbs are needed to help replenish your body's energy stores, which were depleted during exercise. You can either have a snack, or slide right into a meal like breakfast. 

Ideally, you'll refuel within 30 to 60 minutes after a workout. That's the body's sweet spot when it needs replenishing and can really utilize those nutrients. Oatmeal with peanut butter, homemade protein bar, eggs and whole-grain toast, turkey meat on a whole-grain wrap, or smoothies made with a healthy mix of fruits and veggies, are all great options. Smoothies are an ideal snack because they are easy to digest and can pack a nutritional punch. 

Some people just aren't hungry after a workout, or aren't very hungry. In that case, honor your hunger cues and either have maybe a small smoothie, half a protein bar or something with a little protein and carbs.

(When someone workouts in a fasted state, and does not immediately refuels afterwards, but instead waits hours for a snack or meal, that is called intermittent fasting. It's not for everyone.) 


Have more questions on fueling? Drop me a note! 

The Rungry Health Coach

My gripe with "high-protein" ice creams

You've probably seem them in your grocer's freezer: ice creams that are lower in fat but rich in protein.
For any ice cream-loving person (I'm looking at a mirror for this one), this can come as a huge win. "You mean to tell me that I can eat an entire tub of ice cream without any guilt or excess fat?! Sign me up!"

After standing in front of the ice cream section with the freezer door wide open trying to find a flavor you want, you end up purchasing two in every flavor because just in case. And remember...these are "healthy."

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But what if it's too good to be true....?

Anyone that knows me, knows I love ice cream. I have a huge sweet tooth, but ice cream is probably my favorite dessert. (And ironically, I can't handle certain kinds of dairy.) When I want ice cream, I listen to that craving and get myself some ice cream.

But this new fad in low-calorie, high-protein ice creams left me stumped and a bit confused. While this ice cream may seem like a great idea in theory, when I started actually thinking about it, it started to drive me a bit crazy. 

These ice creams promote behaviors and have characteristics that I just can't get behind. 

Taste--You don't eat ice cream because it has protein. You eat ice cream because it has sugars and fat. That's what makes ice cream, and most foods, delicious. Fat is luscious  When manufacturers start tinkering with recipes, that when the taste and often texture of our beloved ice cream changes. Sometimes, it's left tasting like "diet." Other times it has an extremely ice texture.
Binge Eating--If something is marked as lower calorie, we have a tendency to eat more than we need. This form of marketing is promoting binge eating behavior. The ice cream is marketed as something that you can enjoy while watching TV, and not feel any guilt about accidentally eating the whole tub. We should not be disconnected and distracted from our hunger and fullness cues. If you want to eat a whole tub of ice cream, then eat a whole tub of ice cream, but make sure your body actually wants it. Instead, portion out a scoop or two and see how that satisfies your craving. 
Ingredients--When a manufacturer strays away from the classic ice cream recipe--cream, yolk, sugar--new and oftentimes artificial ingredients can be added as preservatives and thickeners. I'm not a huge fan of white sugar, but I prefer that into my ice cream than these gums and other things that I can't pronounce. 
Health Food--Ice cream is not a health food, and should not be marketed as one. Even the names of certain brans create a "good" and "bad" mentality around this frozen treat. It's the "healthy halo" effect. If a food is perceived as good, we'll eat more of it--and this goes back to an earlier point.
If you want a healthy frozen and creamy treat, eat a smoothie.

If you want to eat ice cream, then eat REAL ice cream. Look for brands made with real ingredients, and bonus points if the cream is from happy cows or the brand is organic. Or visit a local ice cream shoppe that specializes in homemade flavors made with local cream. Don't worry about the calories, fat content or protein content. Ice cream, and most desserts, are meant to be enjoyed and savored--not as a security blanket. Portion yourself out a small bowl and enjoy each bite. Be present, mindful and full of intent. When your fullness cues start to kick in, or if you've had enough of the sugary treat, stop eating. 

Yes, there are tons of healthy ice cream recipes available, and I have definitely made a few of my own. But even when making your own healthful version, they're still made with real ingredients and don't contain extra protein powders or fillers. 

Have questions about how to ready nutrition labels and how to find the best ice cream? Shoot me an email!

The Rungry Health Coach

How I Started To Lose Weight (And Made A Bazillion Mistakes)

I remember when I finally decided to get my shit together and try this "healthy living" thing.

I had just graduated college with a degree in journalism, and was working part time as a waitress at a chili diner. I had no idea where my life was going to take me, but I knew I was unhealthy. I drank four to five nights per week, ate take out for most of my dinners, smoked and didn't exercise. 

Disney Beth

I tried "dieting" a few times in college. When my weight would creep up to a point where I was uncomfortable, there was about a month's time where I'd eat more salads and go to the rec center. Once the weight came off, I hopped back into my drawer of takeout menus. There was a time I drank chocolate weightloss shakes as a breakfast. There was also a time I wrote down my idea weight, and taped it into my wardrobe so I would be reminded of it every time I opened the little door. 

So, without any idea what the heck I was doing, I put myself on a "diet" once and for all. I tried to eat less and I also picked up running. I reigned in how much takeout I ate, and tried cooking at home a bit more. I was still eating a lot of processed "diet foods" and drinking a bit, but the weight slowly came off. I was also running about 10 miles per week.

But, my definition of "healthy" was a bit skewed. I would eat half a bag of baked potato chips paired with half a bottle of wine because it was healthier than greasy chips and beer. (This was after eating a full portion of chicken curry.) My pantry was stocked with fat-free, sugar-free and taste-free bull shit. I regularly swapped artificial sweeteners into my baked goods because I was afraid of calories. I would feel guilty about eating certain foods, push unhealthier foods onto others, and often felt deprived. Because of this feeling of deprivation, I would go "hog wild" on weekends and wake up with regret and on Monday mornings. 

However, I was eating more vegetables and I was still running...so there's that. 

After I finally lost my desired amount of weight, I then spent years learning how to be truly happy and healthy. Weightloss was just a stepping stone into a new life. (Granted this new life also took me into the throngs of an eating disorder...but we'll save that topic for another newsletter.)

The more I read magazines, cookbooks, food blogs and Internet articles, the more I became immersed and obsessed with health culture. I started learning about different diets and through my research, I started learning more about "whole foods." Something clicked, and I started transitioning my diet into more wholesome and less-processed foods and ingredients. This is where I learned how unhealthy dieting truly is. 

70.3 Chuck Norris


I'm now deeply passionate about home cooked meals, veggie-packed dinners, exercise, using food as medicine and all things wellness. 

If I could do it all over again, I'd skip the "diet foods" and go right into a healthy combination of vegetables, whole grains and moderation. Because dieting culture was so engrained into my brain, I had set myself up for failure. I always looked at the short term and not the long term. 

Health and wellness did not come naturally to me. I had to work, and I had to work hard. I had to teach myself what choices would serve my body best. I had to figure out what foods made me feel my best. I had to learn why fat-free foods weren't the best options, and why avocados were. I had to learn how to be an athlete and find my limits. And I am still putting in the work because my definition of healthy is always changing. 

Yoga Beth

Does this sound all to familiar? You're not alone in your struggles with dieting and weight loss. It's scary and overwhelming. For me, it's not about dieting--it's about creating sustainable and healthful habits to help us with a lifetime of success. And, if we happen to lose excess weight in the progress, great. If we don't, that's fine too. It's about real food, portion control, self-love and mindset. 

The Rungry Health Coach

Why You're Not Losing Weight

You're doing everything right:

You exercise four to five days per week.
You eat most of your meals at home.
You eat so many vegetables, you feel carrots coming out your ears.
You eat until you're about 80 percent full, and make it a point to not overstuff yourself.
You limit desserts and alcohol, but still indulge every now and then.
You journal, sleep well and practice positivity. 

And yet....

That damn scale isn't budging! (And hasn't budged in weeks! Gahhhh!)

WHAT'S THE DEAL?! Simple...You're stress levels could be so high that they're inferring with your hormones.

Stressed Out
 
The body's main stress hormone is cortisol, and it does play a role into weight gain. Cortisol is our body's "flight or fight response"--if our body perceives something as threatening, cortisol is released into the body. 

But we don't face danger everyday, and our body can misinterpret the signals resulting in the release of cortisol into the bloodstream. If we're constantly stressed, it's possible to have chronically high cortisol levels. 

New research suggests that when our cortisol levels are high, it can cause excess fat storage around the tummy or an increase in appetite. It could also increase the consumption of sugar and fat. All these factors could contribute to weight gain.

How do you know if you have high cortisol? Do any of these sound familiar? 
  • Digestive issues
  • Zero sex drive
  • Menstrual abnormalities
  • Back pain
  • Acne and/or poor skin healing
  • Weight gain
  • Feelings of anxiety, irritability or sadness
  • Poor sleep
  • Swelling in the hands and feet
  • Common colds
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Hormonal imbalances

To treat high cortisol levels correctly, it's important to get to the root cause of the problem. Positive changes could be dietary changes, incorporating more mediation and relaxation techniques, limiting the consumption of stimulants (coffee, Excedrin, tea, energy drinks, Midol, etc.) or using natural supplements. 

A diet rich in lean proteins and high fiber, and lower in carbohydrates could help. Also, eating in regular intervals. Healthful supplements include vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, glutamine, l-theanine and omega-3 fatty acids. (Do consult a doctor/dietitian/nutritionist/health coach if you have any questions on natural supplements and herbs.)

In order to reduce cortisol levels, some lifestyle tweaks may be needed. Continued yoga, getting outdoors, time management, meditation, positivity, exercise and other forms of relaxation could help reduce cortisol levels. (You could even go so far as to schedule a time to relax!) A more positive outlook and even seeking emotional support are also positive lifestyle changes. 

Once under control, even cortisol levels can help you lead a more healthful and nourishing life. It can stave off adrenal fatigue and other serious health conditions down the road. Plus, who wouldn't want to be less stressed?

(As cortisol levels change throughout the day, it is important to get those tested if you are afraid you suffer from chronically high cortisol. Talk to your doctor about performing a test.)

Do you have more questions about weight loss? Do you need help reducing stress? Send me an email! 

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