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When it comes to creating healthy meals, meal prepping, or taking control of our nutrition, calories only paint part of the picture. Calories are simply a measure of energy. They ensure we are receiving energy to go about our day, crush our workouts, or recover from those workouts.

However, just counting calories doesn’t explain the nutritional aspects of what we consume. If we have specific goals in mind, calories are only a fraction of what we need to be aware of.

Macronutrients, on the other hand, reveal the nutritional benefits of each type of food consumed. Research has shown macro counting is specifically beneficial for those seeking performance or body composition improvements as certain ratios of proteins, carbs, and fats are essential for optimized performance.

Nutritional Benefits of Macronutrient Tracking

Not all calories are created equal. In fact, which macronutrient we consume determines the calorie content. A single gram of protein or carbohydrate will have 4 calories, whereas a gram of fat will have 9 calories. So, if we eat 125 g of protein, that’s 500 calories from protein, leaving 1,500 calories to split between fat and carbs.

But macros do more than determine calorie counts. They can help us understand how different foods affect our bodies. Carb consumption triggers different hormones in the body, signaling a specific response — proteins and fat consumption also have these unique responses.

Carbohydrates function to provide and store energy, build macromolecules, and spare protein and fat for other uses. Protein, however, can be used to make hemoglobin, build muscle, and more. Finally, fats are the primary macros for storing energy, insulating and protecting organs, and regulating or signaling different hormones in the body.

Certain activities or bodily functions require more of one macronutrient than the others. So those who focus more on the composition of foods — i.e., which macros they’re hitting — are going to pay more attention to how they’re feeling and how their body reacts.

It may even help people meet their fitness goals! By understanding how different macros affect the body, we can create more satiety in our meals by adding more protein, boost energy with additional carbs or fats, and improve bodily functions.

For example, if we are primarily focused on building muscle mass, additional calories from protein to build that muscle is important in our diet. Now, if we are training for a marathon, higher carbs and protein are important to recover from such intense training. Each goal has accompanying proportions of macronutrients needed for success.

But what if we’re not interested in boosting performance? What if we just want to improve our nutrition and create healthy meals on a regular basis — is macro tracking right for that? YES!

Tracking Macros is Important in the Long Run

A healthy diet plan consists of a balance of all three macros at each meal. This ensures we are consuming adequate amounts of carbs, protein, and fats while providing enough energy to go about our day. Experience in tracking macros helps reveal which foods fall under which macronutrients to create balanced, healthy meals.

When aiming to lose weight, increasing protein and fat intake while decreasing carb intakes appears to be the optimal change. Studies have shown that increasing protein intake can help us feel full while lowering our daily calorie intake. Protein is the most satiating/slow-digesting of the macronutrients, so consuming more protein at the expense of other macros can be a smart choice. However, it’s important to slowly add more protein to your meal prep to avoid any stomach distress.

When trying to build lean muscle, increased carbs are necessary for energy during workouts as well as enough protein to recover and build muscles. In this case, nutrient timing is also important — carbs prime the body for activity, but also help the absorption rate of protein — and it may take a bit of trial and error to find what works for each individual.

Macro Tracking May Alleviate Mental Stress Related to Food

Oftentimes, people don’t realize how much they’re eating. Research shows we often underestimate our food intake (sometimes by as much as 30-50%). And the stress of trying to understand which foods are “good” for weight loss or muscle building can be detrimental to our mental health if we didn’t have macro-tracking available to us.

Without macro tracking, we can easily disregard how calorically dense foods can be. Serving sizes can be tricky, especially when it comes to irregularly sized foods (think: medium-sized apples vs. 100g of apple). This often skews our meal prep items towards high calories, and possibly more carbs, fats, or proteins than we need (or want).

As a result, we struggle to recognize how many calories our meals have… or fail to eat foods in appropriately-sized portions. When utilizing tools like Cronometer and MyFitnessPal, the stress of how much to eat in a single day fades away. The best part about these apps? When we have a specific goal to work towards, we can easily answer a few questions to have the app calculate our new macro goals for us!

Tracking Can Remove Bias Towards Certain Food Groups

Guessing how much we eat isn’t the only stressor surrounding our foods, though. Understanding what to eat can add tremendous stress when aiming to improve our diets. Food is supposed to be pleasurable as well as fueling for our day, so claiming foods as “forbidden” can make other foods less palatable.

However, a macro-tracking eating plan allows all foods to be enjoyed in a balanced way. The goal of a macro-based diet is to provide an individualized structure that allows for more than just chicken, rice, and vegetables. This way of eating provides both structure and comfort knowing no particular food is forbidden… they just affect our bodies differently.

After tracking our macros regularly for a period of time, we can begin to turn our nutrition into one big science experiment! First, we gain a historical perspective of ourselves by tracking regularly with no changes to the way we eat… we learn our tendencies, stress-eating habits, and our baseline macro breakdown.

We then can manipulate specific macros and quantities to elicit desired outcomes, such as weight loss or muscle building! And if we have a special event coming up, macro counting provides a cushion to (on occasion) manipulate our day to enjoy those once “forbidden foods” while still working towards our goals.

Is Macro Tracking Right for Your Goals?

Counting macros can be an eye-opening invitation for us to take a look at where the calories are coming from in our diet. It can provide structure in meal prep and freedom when dining out — it can even reveal our go-to nutritional habits (do we turn to carbs when we’re sad? Does a lack of fats in our diet make us tired and hungry often?). Seeing a complete macronutrient breakdown can help us better understand how our diets affect our bodies.

On the other hand, some people can get a little too obsessive with tracking their macros. This type of diet structure may not be ideal for those with past disordered eating patterns. While a great tool for many, it’s important to ensure it is the right tool for your unique needs. We don’t eat macros. We eat food that contains some or all of the macros in different amounts. A healthy lifestyle is about more than the number of macros you’re eating. This is just a place to start a lifestyle filled with nourishment and health.

Luckily, LoCal Foodz makes it easy to start tracking macros! With several meal plan options — from high-protein or low-carb plans to more balanced macro plans — there is something for every goal.  Click here to view the meal plans (and their accompanying macro breakdowns to make tracking even easier)!

There is high debate amongst nutrition and fitness enthusiasts as to whether alcohol should (or even could) be included in a healthy diet. This article reviews both the benefits and the detriments of drinking alcohol when trying to achieve specific body composition goals.

For over 10,000 years, humans have been preparing and indulging in fermented beverages as well as arguing their merits and demerits. As the argument continues, it’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. The difference, however, lies in the dose.

For such a controversial beverage, one would wonder how beer and wine came about in the first place.

The Role of Alcohol in Nutrition
The beer and wine we know today are far different than what was originally brought about. It was a thick, gruel-like concoction that must be filtered through a straw when drinking. Although unappetizing in our minds, this drink was an important source of calories for ancient Sumerians.

As civilizations began to evolve, so did the production of alcohol. In England between 1001 and 1500 A.D., for example, ale was the common drink consumed by adults and children throughout the day as this fermented beverage was often safer to drink than the water in town.

As the agricultural revolution came about (and the effects of alcohol became more well-known), our eating and drinking habits began to shift more towards what we see today. Brewing, fermenting, and distilling became an art to create better flavors and a smoother texture.

This made drinking alcohol more recreational than nutritional.

Healthy Meals with Alcohol?
Our favorite liquid courage can definitely make for a fun social time. It’s tasty (thanks to the hundreds of years of perfecting the process), may help us to relax, and can be a gateway to some amazing memories with friends and loved ones.

However, as we aim to improve our health, prep meals, and improve our physique, regular consumption of alcohol is not ideal. And when those social opportunities arise, it can be difficult to just say no — and, anyway, haven’t we earned the right to indulge every now and then?

In order to understand whether or not we can enjoy some boozy bubbly without losing all our progress, we must first understand the impact alcohol can have on our bodies.

Alcohol is technically considered the fourth macronutrient, as it contains calories and can be found in large amounts (compared to micronutrients) in the body. However, it is not required by the body and operates much differently than protein, carbs, and fats.

How Alcohol Affects Our Body Composition
Our bodies want to process the alcohol before handling anything else. Therefore, in the presence of our favorite boozy beverage, the body may not be able to metabolize the other three macronutrients (protein, carbs, or fat). This, in turn, may negatively impact muscle protein synthesis.

Muscle protein synthesis is a naturally occurring process used to repair muscle damage, often caused by intense exercise. When in the presence of alcohol, this process is shut down or at least severely diminished, negatively influencing our ability to build muscle.

As well, alcohol may raise estrogen levels, lower free testosterone, deplete zinc levels, and result in lower testosterone production. Not ideal for anyone looking to gain strength or even tone up those muscles.

Our body — specifically our hormones — work best when in balance. When things are thrown out of whack, say after a night out on the town, the body has to work even harder to get back to a balanced state.

In general, we could almost think of alcohol as the “anti-fiber” of the body. Whereas fiber keeps things moving smoothly in the GI, our bubbly slows down metabolism, and normal processes become interrupted.

Scale fluctuations are also common after a night out. The morning after is often deceiving as the scale will most likely be lighter (due to dehydration). However, in the following 2-3 days after drinking, we would potentially weigh even more. From there, it takes an additional 3-4 days for the scale to resume normal activity.

That’s potentially 5-7 days before your body resumes normal activity (depending on how much we consumed). So, if we’re headed out for Friday beers with coworkers every week, it is extremely likely we won’t be able to properly track our weight losses or gains.

How drastic the fluctuation is not only dependent on WHAT and how MUCH we drink, but also our food choices surrounding our drinks. Alcohol changes the way our brains make decisions, making that heavy, calorically-dense pizza look way more appetizing than that garden salad with balsamic vinegar.

How to Minimize the Damage
But hey, that doesn’t mean we have to give up drinking to see results. Sustainability and flexibility are the names of the game, and the more we understand how alcohol affects us, the better we game plan. Here are some strategies to minimize the damage on planned drinking days or nights.

Crush Some Activity Before-Hand    
According to a new study, regular exercise may counteract some of alcohol’s long-term health risks. After reviewing over 36,000 survey responses in England and Scotland between 1994-2006, the study found that heavy drinking was associated with an increased risk of death from all causes.

But when they factored in physical activity, researchers found the links between drinking and death remained for people who got less than the recommended minutes of weekly physical activity. Those who moved at least 150 minutes a week, however, experienced decreased risks or none at all.

Even more, people who were physically active and drank occasionally (not every week) seemed to have a lower risk for cardiovascular death than those who never drank. So, aim to squeeze in a good workout the morning of as well as netting 7-10k steps on the occasional drinking day.

Set Limits PRIOR to Going Out
As well as limiting drinking to 1-2 times per week, it’s important to limit the nightly amount of booze. For those seeking fat loss or are tracking their calorie intake, it’s important to note that 1g of alcohol contains 7 calories, affecting the overall caloric intake for the day.

A good rule of thumb to avoid consuming too many liquid calories set a limit of 30-40g of alcohol on these nights (280 calories). This would look something like this:

  • 40 oz. Beer (3 beers)
  • 13 oz. Wine (3 glasses)
  • 4 oz. Liquor (2.5 shots)

If tracking calories/food intake it may be best to mark this as fat (9 calories per gram) to provide a calorie cushion for the inevitable snackage that ensues after a night of drinking.

Create Healthy Meal Prep Options
Speaking of creating a caloric cushion, keeping breakfast and lunch protein and veggie-heavy frees up a little macro cushion for later in the day (as well as keeping us fuller, longer). Among men and women, alcohol consumption is associated with a decline in total diet quality, apparently due to higher energy intake from alcohol as well as other differences in food choices.

Keep food quality high both before and around the time of drinking. Having healthy meal options on hand makes it easier to make healthier food choices, especially if alcohol has a tendency to diminish your willpower. Remember to stay hydrated well enough for the body to absorb all the right nutrients before alcohol enters the system.

Choose High-Quality Bubbly
In order to keep the entire night high-quality, both food and alcohol should be top-tier. This ensures nothing extra or unwanted goes into our bodies. As well, it may be best to avoid mixing alcohol with sugary drinks and juices.

Researchers from Northern Kentucky University found that mixing alcohol with other diet soda-like beverages increases blood alcohol concentration. Researchers explain the effects of alcohol are mitigated if consumed with nutrients like sugar because it slows the entry of alcohol into the small intestine, where it is absorbed by the body.

Feel free to swap out the sugary diet drinks with Zevia, Kombucha, or simply sip each drink on the rocks.

Set a Drinking Bedtime
While 2-3 drinks before bedtime initially promote sleep, the effects are diminished with consistent use. Sleep researchers have performed experiments with healthy non-alcoholic subjects to study these effects. It turns out, alcohol begins to inhibit REM sleep in those who ingested high doses within an hour of bedtime.

Chronic REM sleep deprivation is linked to a greater risk of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, dementia, depression, and more. As well, insufficient REM sleep may be the cause of all those hangover migraines. To combat this, set bedtime and stop drinking at least 3 hours prior.

Putting Together the Game Plan
Using the following strategies is a great start to finding freedom in drinking and improving performance/physique goals. Through proper education and understanding, we can accordingly game-plan the frequency of alcohol in our lives while minimizing the damage done. It’s certainly okay to snag a few drinks on occasion, and it’s likely not going to completely derail our progress — when planned out.

However, for those struggling to achieve results, it may be best to minimize alcohol consumption as much as possible to see if that was the limiting factor.

Our bodies thrive off food. So what if there was a way we could give our bodies more of what they want while still keeping our slimmed-down shape? Pssst… there is…

How often are we told that in order to slim down we must cut calories and increase exercise? Well, while this fact is true 90 percent of the time, it is not the only way to stay trim.

Many times, we continue to diet well past what our bodies can handle, causing a plateau or no progress. So, we decide to slash more calories or up to our exercise routine… but still nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero progress.

It’s times like these that call for a Reverse Diet.

Understanding Reverse Dieting

You may have heard this buzzword flying around a lot lately. But what exactly does it mean? A Reverse Diet is the process of slowly going from a low-calorie (or dieting) state back to maintenance calories. If you have recently finished a diet cycle, aren’t seeing any more results, or accidentally under-eating, a Reverse Diet is for you.

Reverse dieting is basically the opposite of dieting. During a diet, calories are slowly reduced over time to elicit fat loss. The body no longer stores excess food during a diet. However, with a Reverse Diet, calories are slowly increased back to maintenance, or an adequate intake to keep the body running optimally.

To clarify, bodies don’t run optimally during a cutting/diet phase. And if you continue to eat low calories beyond 12- 16+ weeks, you’ll likely force your metabolism to a screeching halt. This is known as Metabolic Adaptation.

Also known as an extreme plateau, we may no longer see fat loss on low calories if we are metabolically adapted. After dieting for a while, slowly dial-up to maintenance calories to avoid Metabolic Adaptation and let the body restore health.

How to Reverse Diet

Before you can begin a Reverse Diet, it’s important to know where you are at. Take 1-2 weeks to track your current calorie intake, using a log like Cronometer or MyFitnessPal. Once you know where you’re at, it’s time to figure out where you need to be.

While both Cronomete and MyFitnessPal will calculate your calories, here’s a quick tool to help calculate your maintenance calories: https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/macronutrient-calculator.

If you’re nowhere near maintenance, consider starting with a 20% increase in calories. Then slowly increase by about 100 calories every 2-3 weeks. As you get closer to the estimated maintenance calories, the more conservative you will want to be to avoid gaining excess body fat. Consider only adding about 50 calories every 2-3 weeks at this point. For example:

  • Current Average Calories: 1,000 calories per day
  • Estimated Maintenance Calories: 2,000 – 2,200 calories per day

For this Reverse Diet, focus on hitting protein and calorie goals first. Let fats and carbs fall where they may filling in the rest of your calories after protein.

  • Jan 1st: 20% increase from 1,000 calories = 1,200 calories
  • Jan 15th: +100 calories = 1,300 calories
  • Feb 1st: +100 calories = 1,400 calories
  • Feb 15th: +100 calories = 1,500 calories
  • March 1st: +100 calories = 1,600 calories
  • March 15th: +100 calories = 1,700 calories
  • April 1st: +100 calories = 1,800 calories
  • April 15th: +100 calories = 1,900 calories
  • May 1st: +50 calories = 1,950 calories

…and so on.

A reverse might only take 3-6 months, but it could take as long as 12-18+ months. It took a while to drop weight by cutting calories, and it may take twice as long to earn all those calories again. But it will be well worth it!

As well, understand you shouldn’t instantly drop calories again once you’ve completed a reverse. Spend a minimum of 3-6 months (if not more) at maintenance before worrying about changing up your food goals and intake. This will ensure your body feels safe and comfortable enough to drop weight again.

**Just because it’s “time” to consider an adjustment doesn’t mean you have to. There is literally no such thing as “too slow”  — If the scale or body comp is bouncing around, feel free to hang tight an extra week or two.**

What to Expect on a Reverse Diet

A reverse diet can produce 3 potential outcomes: weight loss, weight gain, or no change in scale weight/body composition.

  • Weight Loss: It’s almost as if our body is SO hyped it’s finally being fed it stops “clinging” to every morsel of food we’re giving it.
  • Weight Gain: a common and necessary outcome in order to restore health and metabolism especially after extensive dieting.
  • No Change: in this outcome, you are able to go from NO food to ALL the food. And almost all biofeedback (gym performance, recovery, mood, sleep quality, etc) gets better with more food.

You can achieve the body you want without killing yourself. But it requires taking care of your body, hormones, and health and being smart about your nutrition. Spending the majority of your time living at maintenance calories is non-negotiable for feeling your best and staying as healthy as possible.

Common Concerns on a Reverse Diet

When starting a Reverse Diet for the first time, many individuals have concerns regarding how to cope with eating more food. Here are the most common experiences Reverse Dieters have when first starting their journey back to maintenance:

Excessive Hunger

Hunger is a good sign! It’s the green light to keep adding more food. Your metabolism is basically telling you to keep doing what you’re doing.

BUT, many things can affect hunger. Make sure that you’re eating enough fiber, drinking enough fluids, sleeping 7-8 hours at night, and that you’re consuming well-rounded healthy meals. Dropping the ball on any of the above will likely leave you hungry. If all are in check, then keep adding calories!

Necessary Exercise

If you’re already active, exercising more would defeat the purpose of eating more food. Stick to your usual routine and see your performance in the gym begin to skyrocket.

If you are not working out regularly, then you may certainly find a workout routine to start. The body was made to move, and exercise provides so many mental and physical benefits. Just like with the Reverse Diet, start out slow and build your way to 3-4 times a week.

Appropriate Calories

Knowing when you’re at maintenance (and when to stop adding calories) can be tricky. So pay attention to your body.

You are likely at maintenance calories when you feel good inside and outside the gym. Your energy and mood are great, sleep is uninterrupted, and you’re no longer dealing with cravings all the time.

If the scale starts to slide up as you near estimated maintenance, you MAY be reaching a caloric threshold. This means your body is at maximum efficiency at this number of calories. But you also may NOT be at maintenance here.

It’s not uncommon for someone to need to surpass this threshold and actually GAIN 5-20+ lbs in order to restore health. If this is happening to you, hang around that caloric threshold for a few more weeks to notice any changes in mood, sleep, energy, etc. before ramping up calories again. If you’re still feeling sluggish, hangry, and more it’s time to keep bumping up calories and expect to see the scale creep up with it.

The Reverse Diet can be just as daunting as a traditional diet… especially when going in without a plan. Luckily, now you have one! Follow the tips above to finally eat more and keep the weight off. And if you need some extra accountability and help, our Balanced Meal Prep delivery options can help support your calorie goal of the week. Just tap your goal and how many days a week we can provide you with delicious healthy meals to support your Reverse Diet journey!

A new year is on the horizon, and with it comes many lofty goals and aspirations from people all around the world. But what separates those who succeed from those who don’t? It’s all in the plan…

As December comes to a close, many of us reflect on the previous year to set goals for the approaching year. And, man, what a year it was! We’ve been put through the wringer over and over again… and what once started out as a year full of hope and resolutions has turned into a circus act of staying sane and employed.

We are so ready for a new year.

A fresh start. A clean slate to pursue our self-improvement and actualization. That’s what our New Year’s Resolutions are for! According to a ComRes poll, 71% of New Year’s resolutions revolve around weight loss and fitness. A close second (47%), and falling under a similar category, many resolutions focus on improving physical health and better nutrition. Learning new skills and hobbies, practicing self-care, and spending more time with family and friends follow at approximately 15% each.

Unfortunately, many resolutions are set up for inevitable disappointment and eventual burn-out. Especially when faced with obstacles like what we saw in 2020. On average, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.

There are many causes of these resolution failures. All of these reasons, however, fall under the same 5 categories. Read below to uncover what your resolution weakness is to combat and finally succeed!

1. GOAL SETTING

How you frame your resolution matters. When making resolutions, people often frame them using negative language. “Stop eating junk food” isn’t as effective as “Choose healthy meals” Thinking about avoiding behaviors inevitably leads us to think of those behaviors, creating a craving for something lost. BUT, when we frame resolutions positively allows our action-oriented thoughts lead us to the desired outcome.

New Year's Resolutions
Click here to download

Another common pitfall of goal setting is which goals to focus on. While we all want to improve all areas of our lives, taking on too much at once can be daunting. The best way to combat this is to create one to two goals for different areas of your life, then rank them in order of importance or simplicity.

Focus on the top priority goal to keep your resolution achievable. However, by setting goals in all areas of your life, you’re bound to see a ripple effect in every area as you work towards one.

2. MAKING THE PLAN

Resolutions that aren’t written down are destined to fail quickly. So write them out, making a list of some things you would do to achieve that goal, and noting any obstacles that might stand in your way. Writing these aspirations down makes your goals real and helps prepare you to reach them. But, don’t just write these goals on a sticky note and forget about it.

Keep your list of New Year’s goals in a place where you will see them regularly, so you can review your progress and recommit on a consistent basis. Examples include taping your goals to your bathroom mirror, fridge, or screensavers.

This stage is critical for success. Not only does it allow you to reflect on an effective strategy but also prepares you for the obstacles sure to come your way. This way when things get difficult, you can deploy the strategies you wrote down to stay on the path toward success.

3. MEASURING PROGRESS

How can you know if you’re on the right track to achieving your goals if you have no way to measure them? In order to stick to those New Year’s resolutions, you need to be able to see you’re on the right track in a consistent way. The best way to do that is to set measurable goals.

New Year's Check-Ins
Click here to download

For example, if your goal is to choose healthier meals, set a number of meals per week that will be “healthy.” Write down something like, “I’ll meal prep a healthy dinner 5 times a week.”

This way you’ll have something to check off daily. And eventually, you can build off those achievements, adding more meals the more consistently you hit your goals.

As well, consider keeping a resolution journal. Here you can write about your successes and struggles. This is an excellent way to measure progress as well as make any adjustments to get you back on track.

4. EXECUTING THE PLAN

Trying to do too much too quickly is another common reason why so many New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past February. Dramatically slashing calories, overdoing it at the gym, or radically altering your normal behavior are just a few of the ways to make reaching your goal exponentially harder. Instead, focus on taking small simple steps toward your goal.

For example, if you are trying to eat healthier, start by replacing the common “junk food” items in your house with more nutritious foods. You can even choose from our a la cart menu to start! While it may seem slow, these small changes make it easier to create and stick to new habits as well as increase the likelihood of long-term, sustainable success.

Another strategy for keeping your New Year’s resolution is to not make the exact same resolution as last year. After trying and failing, success may be harder to come by. However, if you do choose to reach for the same goals, spend some time evaluating your previous strategies.

Ask yourself questions like which strategies worked best, least, and what else prevented your success can help mitigate frustrations. As well, when evaluating these goals, write down the reasons you are working toward this goal again. Coming back to your “why” during stressful or undermotivated times is crucial to keep you moving forward.

5. THE REWARD

Finally, the pay off! The thrill and reward of accomplishing something we’ve worked so hard for are critical in keeping us reaching for new goals in the future. Just make sure your reward doesn’t make it harder to accomplish any of your other goals. If one of your financial goals is to cut back on debt, rewarding yourself for better nutrition choices with an extravagant trip may not be the best reward choice.

New Year's Reflections
Click here to download

If you haven’t quite reached your goal yet, don’t fret. Those unhealthy habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so how can you expect to change them in just a matter of days, weeks, or months?

It may take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but this is not a race. Self-improvement is a marathon. Once you have made the commitment to changing a behavior, it is something that you will continue to work on for the rest of your life.

SOME FINAL TIPS

Get Support From Your Friends and Family

While you’ve probably heard this advice before, you may not have thought to do it like this before. When writing down your goals, think of someone who may have a similar goal (or who has already accomplished this goal). Explain what and why you have this goal to that friend or family member when asking them for help.

Having a solid support system can help you stay motivated. For additional support, join a group or class that shares your goal. When facing challenges like those found in our New Year’s Resolutions, together is always better.

Renew Your Motivation

During the first days of a New Year’s resolution, it’s easy to feel confident and highly motivated. There is no real discomfort or temptation associated with changing your behavior, and making this change might seem all too easy at first glance. But…

After dealing with the reality of dragging yourself to the gym at 6 a.m. or racking your brain for meal ideas, motivation will probably start to dwindle. When you face such moments, look back on what you’ve written down. What’s your why? What strategies did you plan to use in such moments?

Just Keep Swimming

Encountering setbacks are the most common reasons why people give up on their New Year’s resolutions. If you suddenly relapse into a bad habit, it’s not a failure. Instead, view them as learning opportunities. If you are keeping a resolution journal, write down when the struggle occurred and what might have triggered it. By understanding the challenges you face, you will be better prepared to deal with them in the future. Click here for a downloadable PDF to help you start planning, preparing, and executing your New Year’s Resolutions in the coming year!

Are you already anticipating a turkey-day dietary torpedo that’s going to decimate your carefully plotted eating plans? Listen, it’s only natural to splurge a little on Thanksgiving. However, you may be wondering if overindulging on ONE DAY is enough to derail your goals. Let’s take a look at what going a bit “overboard” on Thanksgiving means for your healthy intentions.

How Many Calories Does the Average Person Consume on Thanksgiving?

It’s time for a moment of truth! Be prepared to be a little bit shocked when you discover just how much we’re all eating on Thanksgiving. According to data from the Calorie Control Council, the average person consumes 3,000 calories in a single Thanksgiving meal. We’ll do a breakdown of exactly where those calories are coming from in a minute. First, let’s run a comparison on what those 3,000 calories are equal to in real-world terms using some research provided by USA Today. Here’s what you could eat to equal one typical Thanksgiving meal:

  • Six Big Macs from McDonalds’s.
  • 10 Caesar salads from Panera.
  • 12 servings of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.
  • 14 strawberry-iced donuts from Krispy Kreme.

The truth is that 3,000 calories for a single meal is no small thing. The current dietary guidelines for adults show that many of us are going over our total calorie counts for an entire day with one meal on Thanksgiving. Based on recommendations, adult men should be consuming between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day. The range is 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women.

Where Do Thanksgiving Calories Come From?

Where are those 3,000 calories coming from when we sit down for Thanksgiving? The good news about Thanksgiving dinner is that it provides many opportunities for lean proteins and vegetables. This is where portion control can work to your advantage because “tasting a little bit of everything” can help you stay within a more reasonable calorie range without feeling deprived. According to the Calorie Control Council, here’s what the breakdown for a typical Thanksgiving meal might look like for the average American:

Appetizers/Dips/Snacks

  • Cheese ball with nuts (2 tablespoons): 246 calories/20 grams of fat.
  • Crackers (serving of 10): 177 calories/7 grams of fat.
  • Potato chips (serving of 10): 150 calories/10 grams of fat.
  • Dip (2 tablespoons): 60 calories/5 grams of fat.

Main Dish

  • Skinless roasted turkey (4 ounces): 190 calories/6 grams of fat.

Side Dishes

  • Cornbread (1 square): 15 calories/5 grams of fat.
  • Bread stuffing (1 cup): 355 calories/17 grams of fat.
  • Gravy (1/2 cup): 178 calories/13 grams of fat.
  • Sweet-potato casserole (1 cup): 276 calories/6 grams of fat.
  • Green-bean casserole (1 cup): 143 calories/8 grams of fat.
  • Cranberry sauce (1/2 cup): 209 calories/0 grams of fat.
  • Carrot-raisin salad with dressing (1 cup): 319 calories/30 grams of fat.

Beverages

  • Sweet tea (1 cup): 37 calories/0 grams of fat.

Dessert

  • Pecan pie (1/8 of a 9-inch pie): 456 calories/21 grams of fat.

Extras

  • Butter (1 tablespoon): 102 calories/11 grams of fat.

Now, your meal may look a little bit different depending on your family traditions and personal holiday favorites. However, this breakdown gives you a good look at where you can easily add some checks and balances to your Thanksgiving meal. For instance, the surprising “danger zone” appears to be a seemingly healthy dish like carrot-raisin salad. However, there’s no doubt that the dressing can put a dish like that over the edge for calories and fat. You can also see just how many calories you can wipe from the scoreboard if you skip the cheese-and-cracker plate in favor of waiting to begin chowing down until you get to your main course.

This particular breakdown from the Calorie Control Council uses pecan pie as the default dessert. You may be wondering how the count looks if you’re more of a pumpkin pie person. According to the USDA, the average slice of pumpkin pie contains 225 calories and 9.3 grams of fat. That means you’re basically slicing calories and fat in half if you go with pumpkin over pecan.

You may have noticed that alcoholic drinks are absent from this list. Be warned that a few drinks can significantly increase your calorie total on Thanksgiving. If breaking out the spirits is simply part of your holiday tradition, there’s no reason to deprive yourself just because you’re counting calories. However, you may want to try to balance “liquid calories” with solid calories to take into account the calories and carbs you’ll be consuming in the form of wine, beer, or liquor. The average serving of beer has between 142 calories and 338 calories. For wine, the calorie count is 120 calories to 130 calories per 5-ounce glass.

Will Splurging on Thanksgiving Really Derail Your Goals?

So far, we’ve covered what the calorie count looks like for the average Thanksgiving meal. Some people are focused on finding ways to eat less on Thanksgiving to avoid a “splurge.” Others simply want to know if going wild on one day can sabotage their goals and progress. Let’s dive in to dissect that second question.

Our first instinct may be to wonder how many calories we’d need to eat on Thanksgiving to gain weight. However, a person in a health-first mindset should really be focusing on something else. What we need to worry about is slipping into a “Thanksgiving eating” mindset that lasts for weeks or months. With Thanksgiving being on a Thursday, it’s easy to slip into a mode of overindulging with promises of “living it up” for the long weekend before getting back to a more sensible eating plan on Monday. The reality is that every day that passes with loose eating rules is one more day that makes it harder to stick to our plans.

The Secret to Eating Healthy on Thanksgiving: Make a Plan for Friday

Having a plan to return to sensible eating without feeling deprived in the days following Thanksgiving is really what differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful in this arena. Don’t just make a plan to go grocery shopping to stock up on better foods the weekend after Thanksgiving. This is when the temptation to stay in holiday eating mode will be stronger than most people can handle. A better option is to have your fridge pre-stocked with tasty, satisfying meals that you’re going to be happy to reach for when you’re ready to resume post-Thanksgiving normalcy.

What’s the Truth About Being Derailed by Thanksgiving Overeating?

As promised, it’s time cover if splurging on Thanksgiving really can derail your goals. According to Women’s Health, this probably isn’t something you have to worry about. It’s nearly impossible to gain weight “overnight.”

“In order to gain weight, you’d have to eat 3,500 more calories than you typically eat and burn off to maintain your figure,” according to the magazine. That means that you’d have to add an additional 3,500 calories on top of the 1,600 to 3,000 you’re already eating as a man or woman following the standard dietary guidelines. It works out to be 5,100 to 6,500 calories consumed on Thanksgiving Day. The fact that the average American consumes 3,000 calories during just Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t make this impossible. However, it is pretty unlikely.

There’s something important to remember here. That 3,500 calorie figure does not take into account calories burned. That means that every bit of physical activity you do on Thanksgiving Day is added to your forgiveness column. You have every reason to plan a Thanksgiving hike, family walk, friendly dance party, or post-meal flag-football game! Those fun activities can genuinely help you offset your huge calorie spike for the day. They will also give you a nice energy boost that will leave you even more energized to resume your healthy lifestyle the next morning.

Should You Splurge on Thanksgiving If You’re Trying to Lose Weight?

Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving! There’s no reason to put yourself through suffering just because you happen to have some weight-specific goals in mind. Go ahead and eat what you love without guilt if you believe that a little splurging is what makes life worth living. If possible, do your best to make little substitutions along the way during Thanksgiving to help you to enjoy what you love without adding unnecessary calories. The bottom line? It’s more important to focus on your mindset going into Thanksgiving dinner than it is to focus on your calories if you’re in it for the long game. Thanksgiving is just one day. Your mindset for getting back to healthy eating after a lovely day with family or friends is what will ultimately make or break your goals.

Want to know how healthy you are on the inside? Your skin can help provide some answers!

“Beauty’s on the Inside.”

No, this statement is not a cliche — it’s a fact! The health and beauty of our skin start from what’s inside us… or at least what we put inside us. An increasing number of studies are showing just how big of a role nutrition plays for our skin health.

Our skin is the only organ that is exposed to the elements. And while it’s often our first line of defense against environmental toxins, it is also a reflection of our inner organs’ health. If you struggle with any of the following skin conditions, it may be time to take a deeper look at what you’re fueling your body with.

Acne: A study found that male acne patients who followed a low-glycemic diet had reduced acne as compared to a group that ate a diet rich in carbohydrates.

Rosacea: This condition, with its facial redness and swelling, can be triggered by spicy foods, alcohol, or even hot drinks.

Inflammation: Inflammation refers to your body’s process of fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. And while not always easily spotted, when something damages your cells, your body triggers this inflammation response, creating swelling or redness in a given area on the skin.

Eczema: With eczema, sufferers experience dry, itchy, and red patches on the skin. Dermatologists say foods that commonly worsen eczema symptoms include milk, peanuts, eggs, soy, and wheat.

Hives: Hives are the familiar welts (raised, red, itchy areas) that can occur on the skin as a result of an allergic reaction/sensitivity to certain foods. Other causes of hives include medication, bug bites, or stings.

Psoriasis: This condition causes skin cells to build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches. Psoriasis is thought to be an immune system problem stemming from a dysfunction in the gut.

The Link Between Gut Health & Skin Health

Our guts don’t just guide our instinctual decisions, they also help guide our body’s regulatory processes. Often termed the body’s “second brain,” our GI Tract has a major influence on both the development and function of the immune system, as well as on gut-brain communications. This goes beyond just an upset stomach after some bad take-out.

There are healthy bacteria and immune cells in a healthy gut that ward off infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It can have a major impact on your overall health and particularly the appearance of your skin, including spots, acne, eczema, and rosacea.

The intimate relationship is termed the “skin-gut axis” and numerous studies have linked gastrointestinal (GI) health to skin homeostasis. Skin symptoms also follow GI disorders as the gut microbiome appears to play a key role in the development of many inflammatory skin disorders.

Heal Your Gut to Protect Your Skin

Although some skincare items include food products, such as chocolate and mushrooms, nutritionists agree that the right diet is necessary to keep our skin safe. When we begin to eat for our skin health in mind, there’s a bonus effect of improving our overall health as well.

There are many key nutrients, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals that have been shown to be beneficial or essential for healthy skin (and a healthy lifestyle). However, we’ve developed a shortlist of foods to include in your new healthy meals:

Nuts and seeds
Nuts by the ounce are available under our snack menu.

1. NUTS & SEEDS

Nuts & seeds give our skin all the right kinds of fat that nourish it. They are also rich in vitamin E antioxidants to combat free radical damage, which contributes to your skin’s aging. Some superstar nuts and seeds include walnuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds.

2. CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES

Cruciferous veggies have a compound known as indole-3- carbinol that occurs naturally. It is transformed into a phytochemical known as DIM (Diindolylmethane) and functions within the body to maintain stable hormone levels. These types of veggies to support liver detoxification and hormone health include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels, etc.

3. TEAS

Many different teas contain a variety of antioxidants, but all of them have the potential for gut-healing and skin-protecting effects. It has also been shown that green tea helps rejuvenate skin cells. However, tannins in the tea will decrease the absorption of minerals in food, so try to drink your tea between meals rather than with meals.

4. MUSHROOMS

Mushrooms contain one of the highest levels of selenium, specifically Crimini mushrooms. This trace mineral is required to make glutathione peroxidase, one of the most potent antioxidants in the body, which fights damaging compounds called free radicals that develop in the skin during exposure to sunlight. They are also a great source of B vitamins, which are essential to produce new skin cells that look youthful.

5. SALMON

High in essential omega-3 fats, oily fish such as salmon minimize inflammation and provide the skin with necessary nourishment. Sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and trout are also present in other oily fish. Aim to consume these fatty kinds of seafood a minimum of twice a week in order to get the benefits.

6. DARK CHOCOLATE

Cocoa has antioxidants that can protect the skin and improve wrinkles, skin thickness, hydration, blood flow, and texture of the skin. To maximize the benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum, make sure to select dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa.

7. DARK LEAFY GREENS

Usually, the darkness of each green suggests higher antioxidant levels. Beta-carotene, one of these antioxidants, can also form vitamin A in the body. For good reason, it is a common ingredient in face creams and an important nutrient for healthy hair. All varieties of spinach, silverbeet, kale, rocket, watercress, Asian greens, and dark green cabbage qualify.

8. QUINOA

Organic White Quinoa
Try our
organic white quinoa with edamame, parsley, salt and pepper


Vitamin E-rich quinoa fights free radicals, provides collagen, and strengthens skin pores.   Quinoa may be calming for red, inflamed acne/rosacea-prone skin and helps to repair the skin barrier to reduce inflammation and dryness due to the niacinamide (vitamin B3) content.

9. BERRIES

They top the antioxidant power charts and are high in vitamin C, too. But so much more is offered by berries. Berries provide the required collagen-building material, the protein that gives skin its elasticity and strengthens capillaries to help minimize spider veins and easy bruising.

10. COLORFUL PEPPERS

Bell peppers are an excellent source of beta carotene, which is processed into vitamin A by the body. They’re one of the better vitamin C sources, too. To produce the protein collagen, this vitamin is essential. However, most peppers’ capsaicin content can cause rosacea flare-ups, so find the right colorful veggies that suit your specific needs. The brighter the color, the more these foods are rich in phytonutrients.

Are There Certain Foods to Avoid for Skin Health?

Just as the foods we consume can improve our skin health, certain foods can cause irritation, flare-ups, and other skin-damaging effects. However, these may be different for everyone. Generally, dermatologists suggest avoiding highly processed foods, those high in added sugar, excessive alcohol, and deep-fried foods.

This is not to say you can’t have any of these types of foods. Occasional treats or quick drive-thru options won’t wreck your skin after the first bite, however, you may notice some gastrointestinal discomfort and flare-ups if consumed on a regular basis. Listen to your body and take note of which foods trigger your skin issues (or reverse them).

A great way to include these 10 Skin-Protecting Foods into our diets is through planning ahead. Try including 1-2 of the foods listed above in your next weekly meal prep to start, and eventually increase that number until you are eating a healthy diet filled with a variety of skin-boosting meals! Not sure where to start? Try one of our a la carte options to help you get started!