Diet, Exercise & Sleep- the Major 3!

I always follow the belief that there are three components to a healthy, balanced lifestyle; and those are Diet (or nutrition- what you are eating on the day to day), exercise, and getting adequate sleep.  Whenever people make changes to their current lifestyle that effects any one, or all of these major components it is important that they know how each effects the body.

For example, your diet effects your body in a number of ways.  There is a reason why you will see all over the place that results are 70% diet and 30% exercise.  Altering your eating habits can alter insulin levels throughout the day which can be beneficial or harmful depending on how you plan out your meals.  The goal is to balance out your plate with macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates), and eat frequently to keep blood sugar levels steady and avoid spikes or drops, to prevent your metabolism from slowing down.  This can change the way your body utilizes the macronutrients.  Frequent drops in insulin levels, can cause your body to store more fat or carbohydrates as a sort of survival or starvation mode.  Eating the wrong foods at night can effect the way your body works while you sleep or it can even effect the way you sleep, and how you dream.

Exercise effects the body by imposing stress on the muscles.  It is important to understand the significance of breaking down your routine so to avoid overtraining the muscle groups, and balancing out the strength of each muscle group.  Circuit training is okay depending on the routine, but being aware of where and how you could be overtraining is important, to ensure maximal results.  It is also important to get adequate rest for your muscle groups to allow them time to recover and heal.  This is an important part of exercise, because rest prevents injury and can maximize strength and results when the muscle can heal properly.

Sleep is crucial for life.  Your body needs rest to recover, and provide you with energy and clear focus everyday for anything you do.  It is also when growth hormones are their peak for optimal recovery and muscle growth.  So if someone you know thinks they are a badass because they can run a day on 3 hours of sleep… They really aren’t.  Remember to allow yourself time to sleep.  🙂

Check out these articles below for more information on this topic:,,20459221,00.html

Sick of Salad? Try these!

So I have been experimenting with some low carb alternatives, because salads have just gotten boring. They taste great, and I still love them, but it’s nice to have some options! Here are three great recipes I tried recently that I would recommend.

Chicken & Avocado Salad w/ Cilantro & Lime

-This recipe is great. Very little Mayo, but still super moist because of the avocado. The only thing I feel like it needed was more flavor. Maybe more lime or some additional spices to pull the flavor of the lime and cilantro together with the avocado and chicken. But overall a great recipe!

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

-Super easy, full of flavor! You can have this as a meal, a snack or even serve it as an appetizer. Took all of 10 minutes to make!

Paleo Stuffed Peppers

-Amazing. I always wanted to try and make stuffed peppers. These are full of flavor, you can make them spicy or mild and were great for dinner, and an easy reheat for lunch!

Homemade Granola Bars

Truth be told… I love to snack! Who doesn’t, right? Lol 😉 Well, A few years ago, I decided to ditch the over processed boxed granola bars and start making my own! 🙂 Not only can I control how much sugar is being put into the bars, but I can also add things like protein powder, flax seed, etc. They taste great, I know what I am eating, and they freeze well! 🙂

Here are some great recipes that I have tried:

Granola Bars:

Chewy Granola Bars

The basis for most of the granola bars I make starts here! I use this recipe, but often alter it, changing up the almond butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar- substituting other things like cookie butter, peanut butter, honey, etc. I find that the original recipe is pretty sweet, so I personally reduce the brown sugar and maple syrup. I also often switch up the fruit and nuts I add. Sometimes we make chocolate peanut butter, sometimes we do a white chocolate cranberry almond, etc. But yeah, so this recipe is simple, and quick and you can change it up. Have fun with it! 🙂

Alton Brown’s Granola Bars:

This is another great recipe that you can use for a base starting point and alter to make a variety of different granola bars.

EatingWell Energy Bars:

These don’t stay together that well, but they are sooo tasty! A perfect combination of salty with just enough sweet from the dried fruit! They are often crumbly, but still tastes great! Try saving the broken ones and adding them to your yogurt or oatmeal to switch things up!

Meal Preparation

Ok, for starters I don’t believe in “dieting” per say. I mean think about it… If you do the Paleo Challenge, 21 Day Challenge, Low Carb, or any other diet you are restricting your diet and often cutting things completely out of it. This deprivation might work short term, but unless you stick to that diet for the rest of your life you are technically yoyo dieting, am I right? The minute you break the diet you gain the weight back, and sometimes worse! I think this is why Weight Watchers works. Rather than dieting and cutting out foods, they teach people to portion food by counting points. The down side is a lot of people will lose the weight, but they could still be eating junk, just cutting down the caloric intake, which means inside the body- the machine isn’t working to it’s highest efficiency. If you’re athletic, like me, it can hinder results and progress.

If you want to try a diet, go for it. Sometimes I will for a couple weeks to cleanse my body and get back on track, but don’t expect miracles, is what I am saying I guess. Use it as a tool. Take what you learn and combine the diets to make something that works for you for life. So you can eat a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone and not blow up like a balloon.

So that being said, the most important thing whether dieting or making a lifestyle change is meal preparation (meal prep). Who the heck has time for meal prep? The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with a variety of quick and easy recipes and prep them at the beginning of the week so you can prepare a meal in 10-20 minutes time when it comes time to eat. Once you learn how to balance a meal out, you can do it without even thinking about it. And it won’t require as much time for “meal prep”.

Step One- Pick your meats and go lean! I usually go with whatever is on sale, but try to get a variety of chicken, beef, pork and occasionally a fresh piece of fish. Read the packages. How many calories, cholesterol, fat, saturated fat, protein and sodium does the meat yield? By comparing the cuts you will see how a pork loin differs from a pork chop, or how 93% lean ground beef or 94% lean ground turkey differs from 85% lean ground beef. If I am planning on having fish I don’t buy it until the day of because unless you are buying frozen fish, it’s not really something you want to be reheating (personal opinion anyway). …If you don’t eat meat, obviously this step doesn’t apply to you the same. But you would want to pick your proteins regardless.

Step Two- Decide how to cook the meat, and what you are going to have with it. With any diet, the key is going to be variety. If you eat the same thing 5 days a week, at the same time, your not doing your metabolism any favors. Your body becomes familiar with the pattern and it doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the foods, in essense, it could slow down your metabolism.

Next, my advice to you is to familiarize yourself with vegetables- what is starchy and what is not? Learning your veggies is really a great idea for everyone! It makes balancing a meal so much easier.  If you are having a starchy vegetable, you probably won’t want to have a grain with it (like brown rice).  If you want to have a rice or pasta or legume, you may want to choose less starchy vegetable as a pairing item.  Catching my drift? P.S. Frozen vegetables are great! They are cheap, and sometimes have more nutrients than fresh vegetables because they are frozen at peak ripeness.  If they taste bland, remember you can season them! 🙂 Stay away from canned vegetables if possible, as they carry the least nutrients. Check out the two links below for a list of veggies both starchy & non (as well as more information):

Now another thing you might need to consider is the fiber content of vegetables because if you are removing grains from your diet, you might not be getting fiber from that source, and they are typically a great source for fiber and carbohydrates. Here is a useful link with the top fruits and veggies and their fiber content. Try and incorporate these into your diet so you don’t fall short. A diet low in fiber can result in gastrointestinal issues… A fancy way of saying a problem with your poops.

Now for the fun part- Recipes!!!! 🙂

Here is a great website with tons of recipes for Paleo dieters or even people like me that just like to try a variety of different healthy meal options:

Now, the beauty of stretching a meal is to not just limit yourself to one thing. For example, say you picked up a package of steak tips.

    • Make a steak kabob adding fruits and veggies, and seasoning of your choice.

    • Serve some with a side of sweet potato and asparagus, or some with other veggies or even a salad.

    • Use some of it to make a Beef vegetable soup or stew


    • Grill it, bake it, sautee it- you can serve chicken a million different ways. Have leftover and want something different? Make a chicken salad, or shred it and make stuffed peppers with it. Cut it up and throw it into a soup with veggies of your choice. Toss it on a salad,

IF…. You still prefer to make one meal and have it for lunch 5 days a week, that’s okay, and I would recommend using the crock pot options for some easy hot meals because they will be easiest and don’t limit you to just soup. You can cook almost anything in a crockpot.

Cashew Chicken, Simple Salsa Chicken, Pulled Pork, Meatballs, chili etc. Check out the recipes on this website above for some ideas. I included a couple direct links below also:

I try and give myself a couple hours at the beginning of the week to meal prep. You can cook the meat at the beginning of the week, you can cook the whole meal and just reheat it each day. Or you can even just cut it up, and package it so you know what you are having on what day and just cook it on that day. It’s really up to you! Hope this helps!

Oh, last thing… Another great tool for learning how to balance your meal is This website is what replaced the old school “food pyramid”. But also has lots of tips and recipes, etc.

The Basics

The human body is this amazing, super efficient, machine. The more I read about it’s functions and how the different internal systems work together to create this insanely synchronized rhythm for carrying out every process, the more I am amazed. So if the body is so efficient, why do we need to work so hard? Truth is… We DON’T! We just need to listen to what our bodies are telling us, and give it what it needs. So let’s start with the basics.

The human body needs basic necessities for survival; Energy- which comes from our diet- what we eat and drink, Exercise, and Sleep.

Energy is obtained through the food that we eat. Different foods have different nutrients, and the higher the nutritional value, the greater the energy it will yield for a greater period of time. The easiest way to make sure you are giving your body the nutrients it needs is by having a balanced diet. With a balanced diet, we can still enjoy things like pizza and ice cream occasionally, without completely throwing off the system and falling into a “couch potato” rut. You can’t stuff your face with mac and cheese or fried chicken and expect to feel good after. It just doesn’t happen. For more information and for the basics on how to balance your plate there are a variety of websites that offer information. One of my favorites, is This website is like the “latest version” of what we used to rely on for a balanced diet- The Food Pyramid.

When people hear “exercise” they are either pumped up and ready to go or get completely turned off and feel like suddenly losing the weight is going to be their ‘mission impossible’. Well, let me start by telling you that research shows that diet and sleep are actually more important than exercise to maintain a healthy weight. So, you don’t need to be a body builder or marathon runner to succeed here. I always suggest to people that if you are trying to get healthy, start out by making lifestyle changes that will stick, and then if down the road you need a new challenge, change things up and go for it! So how much exercise SHOULD the average adult be getting? Research suggests that either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly. Strength training exercise should happen at least twice a week. Remember to always consult with your physician if you have any concerns, former injuries or elevated health risks prior to starting a new program.

Last but definitely not least, SLEEP! People often don’t realize just how important sleep is for the human body. Different people require different amounts of sleep, so rather than go into too much detail on this one I have included a few resources below for you to explore this need for yourself.,,20459221,00.html

Why Start Now?

Why Start Now?

Let’s face it. We all struggle with self image at some point or another in our lives. Whether it be a physical self image, or a social status or position we are in, it happens! I want you to stop and think back for a minute; remember the situation and how you were so positive on how to influence it for the better. How you had a plan, and knew exactly what you were going to do to achieve that goal! You did that for you, because you are worth it! Now, whether or not you stuck to the plan, or the plan got boring and ultimately failed, or you just never put the plan into action, I don’t care right now.  The point is, at one point you believed in yourself, and my goal is to show you how to take that spark of motivation and turn it into fireworks.  We all have one thing in common- a desire to learn more about health and fitness! A thirst for knowledge on how to improve the journey, and the results that come with it! And that’s why I am here. To share with you my story of struggle and success, and how every day I strive to improve to get the most out of my life.

Step one, is to convince yourself you can stick to it. Finding courage and motivation is one of the hardest parts of starting a new journey, a new diet, a new routine.  Because for the one reason we really want something, we can find a million reasons why it’s going to seem impossible to achieve. So let’s not think about that! I find that it helps to first come up with a personal mission statement. Once you have that mission statement, you need to remember it. Whether it’s keeping it in your mind, or writing it on a piece of paper and reading it when the road gets tough. Or waking up everyday and saying it to yourself! I don’t care how, but you need to remember not only what those words are, but what they mean to you. Give them energy, and allow that energy to be the fuel that gives those words meaning, and puts them into action!

You wanna hear mine? “To strive to be the best version of me. To wake up everyday with a purpose and a smile, and to carry out my purpose through dedication to myself and to my journey. To love, respect, and be kind not only to others but also to myself. To strive to overcome challenges and fears, knowing that great reward can only come from great risk. To believe in myself everyday. To be happy.”

So why start now? Because you are worth it! Because you only have one life, and you deserve to have the best life has to offer you.  So, what is your mission statement?