Month: February 2015

What is Clean Eating?

You might be sick of hearing the phrase “clean eating” by now!!  But, I’ve found along this fitness and wellness journey, is that the key to my successful weight loss (and keeping it off) was and is not exercising religiously – it is all what I eat! I’ve been following the principles of clean eating (I actually prefer to call it conscious eating and I’ll more into that later) for almost 4 years now.

clean_eating_basics

But, what is clean or conscious eating?

Clean/conscious eating is eating food in its simplest form. Veg, fruit, nuts, “good” fats. Minimal processing, minimal ingredients, not a lot of added sugar. Cooking, prepping and planning more and eating out less, making boxed meals less, etc. You’ll also find that in a lot of cases, you’ll actually save money on certain things by making them yourself!

This change in thinking doesn’t happen overnight and it is best done literally one ingredient, household staple or recipe.

I need to stress that it is not healthy to obsess over the ingredients.  When you can choose “clean” – do it.  But things like breads and tortillas are hard to find with minimal ingredients simply because they need to stay fresh.  Pick the whole grain option, the less sugar added option, etc.  We don’t want your mindset swinging the other way to obsession. This is why I prefer the term “conscious eating” over “clean eating”….make the best choices when available, within your budget and time constraints, and you will still improve your health.

Live by the 80/20 rule and you can’t go wrong!  80% of the time choose healthy and 20% indulgences will create a nice balance and a great habit without obsessing or negative relationships with food.

But, will I lose weight just by eating “clean”?

The short answer? Possibly.  You’ll like stay fuller longer from fiber-rich food and quality proteins but you’ll still need to be eating the right amount of calories to create the deficit needed for weight loss. The hotly debated “Calories in, calories out” vs “all calories are not created equal” is a topic for another blog post.  That said, hopping on My Fitness Pal or a similar app and tracking your food (either briefly for an idea, or longer term) is a great way to find out if you are eating too much for your goals.

Related: How Many Calories Should I Be Eating?

If you would like to join my free clean eating group on Facebook, please email me and I can add you!  We share lots of recipes, do mini-challenges and offer tips on meal prep and planning too!

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Chicken Sausage Quinoa & Spinach Skillet

This recipe was an accident! A yummy chicken sausage, quinoa and spinach skillet came from a happy accident that was a direct result of some simple meal prep.

I had cooked off some Trader Joe’s Sundried Tomato Basil chicken sausages the day before as well as a big batch of quinoa for my husband to bring to work with his fajita chicken lettuce wraps.

If you are planning lunches at work, you can easily prep and portion this out and reheat it. I think this would be amazing cold too but I’m also a cold pizza person!

In a moment of creativity, I now have a new weekday lunch staple.  

Chicken Sausage, Quinoa & Spinach Skillet
(serves one)

1 chicken sausage, cooked and chopped
2 cups raw spinach
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1. Heat oil in small pan.
2. Add spinach and sauté for about a minute over medium heat.
3. Add cooked sausage and quinoa and cook for 1-2 minutes until spinach is cooked through and all ingredients are warm.

Note: The sausage is not 21 Day Fix friendly however if you subbed in ground turkey, it would still be great!

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EASY Chicken Sausage, Quinoa & Spinach Skillet - great for leftover quinoa! #recipes #iifym Click To Tweet

Be the Example.

It has been a long day.

It has been a long week.

I’m sitting here unwinding, thinking about everything I do on a daily basis. 

I’m getting even more exhausted just thinking about it.

I don’t need to list out the things because if you are a mom reading this, whether you stay at home or work out of the home or work AT home (like me), then you know.

You know how it feels to try and hold on to the ONE thing that you can do for you.  For some, it is taking 20 minutes during a rare moment of quiet and reading a book.  For others, maybe its catching up on a mindless reality show.  

For me?  It is hands down, without question, my workout.

Sometimes, I second guess myself and think that it might be presumed to be a selfISH action.  To have a personal fitness goal.  But I forget and I have to remind myself – they are watching.  

My workout isn’t selfish. While it benefits me in all the physical ways that we know exercise is proven to do, it also clears my head.  It gives me focus to move on to the mile long to-do list.  My workout benefits this whole household. And those small people? They see how important it is, to me, for me, for them.

I’m lucky if I get to squeeze in an extra 10 minute ab workout.  I’m even luckier if I get to make it to the gym to actually TAKE a class, rather than just teaching one.  

Its easy to lose focus on those personal interests and goals when everyone around you needs something – food, drink, attention, extra time.  Those things all come first, all the needs are always met….but the non-negotiable is still my workout.  Whether it is squeezed in during nap or while the littlest one helps “sweep” the floor, once there is a moment of still, I press play.

And after I’m done?  I’m refocused.  Recharged.  Happier.  

I know that it takes a big mental change, especially for moms, to come to the decision to make a lifestyle change.  To be healthier, to set an example, to feel better overall.  I can’t tell you do “just do it” or “schedule it” because we know that isn’t always the reality.  

But I will tell you to take it one day at a time.  Make it non-negotiable. 

“I will work out twice this week.”

“I will go for a run on Saturday.”

“I will take a strength class at the gym this week.”

Set the small goals, achieve them, feel successful and build the habit.  A habit is just like a muscle – you need to work at it to make it strong.

You deserve it.  Because it isn’t just for you.


Countdown to Competition Meal Plan


21 Day Fix Extreme was released last week and I got my copy on Saturday!!  I previewed one of the workouts, Cardio Extreme and it is just love.  Weighted cardio, Autumn, I love you.

But I’m not going to lie – the reason I am SUPER excited about 21 Day Fix Extreme is the Countdown to Competition plan.  For all of those “next level” fitness people, this is RIGHT up your alley.  While it is not a long term plan, it is something to do for a big event, right before a vacation or in my case, just to try and motivate myself through this last leg of winter!

I’m doing the eating plan while I finish the last three weeks of Insanity Max:30!

I spent more time meal planning this week than normal, due to the different container counts. Once I had the plan, I shopped and prepped!  

I typically only plan out Monday through Friday, with a lot of the same meals.  It is easier for me to eat the same things so by the time I get to the weekend, it is second nature and I don’t write it out.

Check out my final plan for the week!

If you have questions about 21 Day Fix Extreme or the Countdown to Competition meal plan, email me at leigh@thefiteffectnj.com. I’ll post back my results and reactions to this week on Monday, February 16!


Spicy Kale Chips – 21 Day Fix Friendly!

It took me a LONG time to get on the kale train.

I thought it was a hipster fad, a passing “superfood” craze.

And while I don’t run and sing its benefits from the hilltops or drink it in green smoothies, I do love making kale chips.


But literally only eat THIS version! If you like heat, this is the recipe for you!!  If you aren’t into spicy food, leave out the cayenne in this recipe.  Add more garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper for a non-spicy “everything” style kale chip.

Spicy Kale Chips
(makes one pan, enough for 1 person)

3-4 kale leaves 
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbs olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Tear kale leaves up, pulling off the larger stem towards the bottom, spreading in a single layer on the pan.  
3. Drizzle olive oil over the leaves.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry seasonings.
5. Spread over leaves and then use your hands to gently toss everything together, making sure the leaves are evenly coated.
6. Bake for 10 minutes and lightly flip them.  Bake another 5-8 minutes, depending on your oven. You want them baked and crispy (but not burnt). Undercooked kale chips will be chewy!

I make these so often that I usually just sprinkle the powders and eyeball the amounts; this is a very versatile recipe and you only need to be careful with the cayenne!

It is also 21 Day Fix friendly! Conversion is 1 green and 2 teaspoons (roughly).

Enjoy!

Free Fitness Challenge!

Everyone loves a free fitness challenge!!

Each day during the month of February, I’ll be posting a mini-workout to incorporate into your workout schedule or if you are a beginner or just short on time, you can use these moves on their own to improve your fitness level! 

Email me at leigh@thefiteffectnj.com or fill out the Challenge Group Application to join! There’s still time to get in on the fun!


How Many Calories Should I Be Eating?

Calories in, calories out, right?

But one thing I’ve realized on this journey is that the sweet spot of calorie intake that also aligns with one’s goals can be a pretty tricky thing to nail down, with all the misinformation out there.

For one thing, and this has been written all over the internet, 1200 calories is typically not enough for a person who follows some sort of fitness program but it seems to still be floating out there as a strange magical weight loss number.

But if we think of food as fuel, you realize that excessively limiting intake to lose weight is actually counterintuitive!

We need fuel for muscle repair. Fuel for energy!

how_many_calories

So, that said, the ultimate question?

How many calories should you be eating??

I’m a big fan of this calculator. I’ve found it to be accurate for me and my challengers have also had success with it.  Once I have that number, I manually enter it as my goal into My Fitness Pal and since this calculator factors in activity, you don’t even need to worry about “eating back” your calories.

Many people will find that they are actually not eating ENOUGH to sustain their activity level!

So, the bottom line here is to look at your intake and evaluate your activity level. Try that calculator and do a little food journaling, if you’ve never tried it.  See if your intake aligns with the calculator and your goals.  And most of all, listen to your body! If you are hungry – eat! Make thoughtful choices with your food and pick filling, healthy meals and snacks 80% of the time.

Related: What is Clean Eating?

Good luck and let me know if can help you reach your goals!

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**Now, this all being said, I am not a registered dietician.  Please consult with an RD for specific, personal recommendations!**

21 Day Fix Guilt Free Guacamole

I confess, guacamole is a comfort food for me!  I LOVE IT.

I also have a hard time keeping to a reasonable portion size because while it isn’t a “junk” food, it can pack some calorie damage if you aren’t careful!


This guy also loves his guacamole – including this 21 Day Fix friendly option!



This is one of my go-to recipes for an easy guacamole craving, inspired by the Good Foods or Trader Joe’s versions of Greek yogurt guacamoles.




21 Day Fix Guilt Free Guacamole

1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup avocado
1/4 cup pico de gallo

Mash the avocado, then mix in yogurt and pico de gallo.

This makes enough for a big snack!

21 Day Fix conversion: 1/2 red, 1 blue, 1/4 green

Note: If you use salsa with added sugar, it will be a purple instead of a green.

Enjoy!




Inspiration and Shakeology

“Ooooh, you are another Beachbody coach? You sell another shake, right?”
Well.  Yes.  But…no, not really.
Here is my story.
My Beachbody journey technically started in July 2013.  That was when I bit the bullet and via a free fitness group, hosted by an “internet friend”, I learned about T25.
I say “technically started” because that’s when I signed up to coach.  That’s my official anniversary.

Flashback to my childhood, I was NOT athletic. Not into sports.  Not into exercise.  I was “skinny fat” (a term I loathe but it is totally accurate) – thin and not strong.  I gained the typical weight in college and used the gym sporadically and mostly just for social purposes.

When I met my now-husband, he was overweight and unhappy – a former athlete who fell into a miserable relationship.  When we started dating, he had just starting running again and was working towards a 50lb weight loss.  Because couples do things together, we started running – not literally together but it was something we both did.  This fueled my interest in nutrition and fitness and I started looking into going back to school for exercise science.

And then…we got married and the babies came. With babies came these elusive “internet friends” – the people I could talk to without judgment, whine to, laugh with…I had NO idea that they would be such a presence in my life.

When I became a coach after our third and last baby, again, I had no idea that a life changing experience was on the horizon. and I decided to become a Beachbody coach.


Yes, I lost weight.  Yes, I have great before and after pictures. Yes, I drink Shakeology. Yes, I make a nice extra income to help my family.  But what I DIDN’T realize was that I would join a family. A family with a leader right from that group of “internet mom friends” and a coach (who I used to argue with in the throes of hormonal mayhem!) that is now one of my closest friends.  And even better, a few of my best friends on the planet, other *gasp* internet friends, JOINED ME.  A completely inspiring and supportive group of women, who I talk to every day. Pretty much all day long.

My old aspirations of a fitness and nutrition “job” is coming to fruition in a totally unexpected and unconventional way.

So, now, I’m moving up this Beachbody ladder.  My “why” has shifted.  I still do this 100% to help people and to set a positive example for my kids. It is not and has never been about making a lot of money or thoughtlessly signing up coaches to build my team. Now (and this is the focus of my team name and our motto), my “why” is to be a motivating force.  Not just a casual cheerleader.  A rock solid, well informed, supportive leader.  A business woman. A health and fitness professional.
An inspiration.


That’s my story.  A lot of people out there will roll their eyes when they hear “Beachbody coach” and have visions of a shake peddling, pyramid-scheming snake oil sales person.

I can absolutely assure you that this has very very little to do with a shake.