Meal Prep 101: Our Top Tips to Get You Started

New Year usually means new goals. New goals professionally and often physically. ‘Tis the time when the desire to lose those pounds is stronger than ever. 

One thing to focus on even more than just weight is the healthy habits that support these goals. In fact, tying your goals to a bigger reason (i.e. to feel & perform my best, to keep up with my kids etc…) and really focusing on positive healthy habits will lead to better outcomes overall!

That's why meal prep can be such an essential tool for your overall health and wellbeing.

We're honestly just so deeply passionate about meal prep! Why are we so passionate about it? Well, there are few reasons: 

-   First and foremost, meal prep saves you time and money.

-   It adds extra time to your day, that you don’t have to spend cooking, so it makes you more productive in other areas of life.

-   It helps you stick to the plan that you have- whether it’s weight goals or just an intention of eating out less.

-   It’s so satisfying once you’re done with it.

Unfortunately, if you were never the person to prep food for even half of the week before, it can be intimidating. Where do you start? How many containers do you need? How much food to prepare?

This post will help you get started in no time, we’ll break down some of the common ways that you can optimize your cooking getting ready for the week and figure out a meal planning routine that fills your specific needs.

no size fits all

Meal prep is personalized. You do it for you, and your needs are different from my needs. Right? The number of meals per day, it can be 3 meals, it can be 5 meals. You might love chicken, so you’ll have more chicken, so it’s something that you should plan with your own preferences and focusing on the things that you enjoy.

So where to start?

Planning! Meal prep requires planning. You need to figure out what you want to eat for the coming week, and start cooking based off of that.

There are two main ways to make food ahead. You can make the dishes themselves-everything already mixed in together and divided into their own container, or you can prepare each ingredient separately and have a buffet style spread. You need to assemble it every time, but everything is already prepared, and it takes only a couple of minutes to put together.

The other question is do you want to cook breakfast, or have it prepped as well, that goes for the snacks being organized beforehand too.

All of it is personal, and you’re the boss who decides how to do it.

To keep it organized, let’s start with each meal of the day and then finish up with some amazing snack ideas to make your life as simple as possible.

Breakfast

Breakfast is one of those meals where it’s up to you whether to prepare them ahead or not. However, we are here to provide you with some ideas and options of easy and quick breakfasts.

Smoothies

Smoothies are a great and easy breakfast option, and they can be stored in the fridge or a freezer for a week or even longer.

A great tool for that are these smoothie and snack storage bags. They are freezer safe as well as dishwasher safe and can be used in so many ways.

Here are a few simple smoothie ideas:

To make it more of a satiating meal, adding some protein powder and collagen peptides can provide additional nutrients and vitamins as well as protein.

Collagen Peptides is one of the favorite supplements to take, they have the flavored powders and the unflavored powder as well, and those can be great for green smoothies, where you don’t want that added flavor.  You can check them out over here: 

Collagen Peptides

As far as bags go there are plenty of different brands and you can find them in Target, on Amazon, direct websites, Costco sometimes will have some on sale as well. If you want to support me, click the link below for these storage bags:

Stasher Silicone Bags

Overnight Oats

 

Overnight oats are a great and easy breakfast to prepare ahead of time. You can use containers or mason jars for that, add any of your favorite toppings, like nuts, chia seeds, fruits, nut butter and make 5 all within total of maybe 10 minutes of prep. 

In the morning, you grab it and enjoy right away. And on top of the convenience, it’s just so aesthetically pleasing.

Egg Bites / Egg Cups

Egg bites are great. You can make them at home yourself on the meal prepping day, but if that’s not something you want to put your time into, they are also sold prepackaged in the store. Of course, by cooking it yourself, you know exactly what goes into it and all that good stuff.

Another great thing about making them at home is that you can put anything you want into it, rather than trying to find something that matches your preference.

Boiled Eggs

That’s literally it. Do you need to add something to boiled eggs to make a well-balanced breakfast? Yes. Do you need to bother with cooking in the morning? No.  

Boiling some eggs once a week can help you have a solid source of protein and fat for breakfast, then you can add a veggie, make an avocado egg sandwich, or have a bento box style breakfast where you have some cheese and a fruit and maybe hummus and crackers. Once again, all depends on what you’re into taste wise.

You can also keep those eggs for a quick snack, add some sea salt on it and just go for it.  

Protein Muffins 

If you’re more into sweeter breakfast than savory, making some protein muffins before the week is a great grab and go breakfast. You can essentially make it any flavor, add your favorite protein powder and nut butter for even more protein and have something sweet, while not be overly high in sugar, to have with your morning tea or coffee. 

 Protein Waffles  

If you are like me and enjoy some cold or reheated waffles, that’s a great, easy breakfast. Kodiak Cakes is a great brand for high protein breakfasts- they got muffins, waffles, instant oatmeal and even frozen already cooked waffles where all you need to do is throw it in a toaster.

Lunch and Dinner

Buffet Style

buffet meal prep

Buffet Style is a great way to meal prep if you want some flexibility and variety with your meals. With this method you cook everything separately.

To make a well-balanced meal we need some protein, carbs, fats and veggies.  The best way to organize this is to pick a couple protein sources for a week, so when you get bored by one you can switch it up, for example going for chicken and salmon. Same thing with carbs, maybe having some rice and potatoes to switch up them once again. You get the idea.

When you are done cooking, you organize everything in separate containers and when the mealtime comes, you assemble a plate that you feel like eating at that moment.

Dish Style

Homemade Organic Vegetarian Chili with Beans and Cheese

By dish, I mean a full recipe dish like a turkey chili or curry or pasta with meatballs, and you have one giant container of that one dish that you have for a few days. You can think of it as a leftover style of meal prep.

Salad Jars

salad jars

It would be wrong not to mention a salad jar in this post. And of course, we are not talking about a side salad. This is a meal salad filled with all the nutrients that you need. The easiest way to get some ideas for that would be on my Instagram, but here are some ideas for you to try.

With a salad jar, by putting dressing and wet ingredients on the bottom, the salad stays fresh even if you eat it 3-4 days after you made it.

Snacks

Snacks are the best, aren’t they?

Having snacks pre-prepared can be such a great aid in the diet too, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, and you know that your pre-prepared snack is within your calories, and you don’t have to count or think about it.

Fruits- apple, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, whatever your favorite fruit is. You can add some nut butter with an apple, or make a rice cake with nut butter and a fruit, that’s delicious and nutritious as well.

rice cakes

Veggies- cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli. These veggies can be eaten by themselves, paired with hummus or some ranch dressing.

 guac humuus

Chips and crackers- there are plenty of healthy and nutrient dense. One of the favorite brands is Simple Mills, that you can order by clicking on this link. A great tip is to measure a serving size and separate into zip locks. So, when you’re feeling like having that snack is to grab a serving without having to measure it at that moment.

cracker

Now, that we are done with the food side of things and ideas of WHAT to make, let’s get into HOW to make meal prep enjoyable and fun. None of these is sponsored, but simply are the personal favorites. 

Some great tools to use when meal prepping:

1. Tupperware 

tupperware

Getting nice set of containers can be a huge motivation to get cooking. It’s nice to look at and makes meal prepping more exciting.

While you can get sets on Amazon or Target, I found the best prices to be in Costco.

Glass Containers

Plastic Containers  

2. Egg Cooker

Egg cooker is a game changer, no joke. It makes eggs perfectly the way you want them, and you don’t have to set up a timer or boil water. If you enjoy boiled eggs, this is for you. 

Egg Cooker

3. Baking reusable sheets

If you’re not only on a meal prep journey, but also on sustainability journey, getting reusable baking sheets is a great idea. While they can be harder to clean, you’ll be saving the planet as well as money spent on foil.

Baking Sheets

4. Mason Jars

mason jars

Mason Jars are great for… you guessed it, Salad Jars. If you love the salad jars as a way of meal prepping some salads, these are gods send.

Mason Jars

5. Slow cooker or pressure cooker

pressure cooker

For this category I’d recommend pressure cooker over slow cooker, because a lot of times pressure cookers also have a slow cooker mode, so you’re getting both in one.

Pressure Cooker

Slow Cooker

6. Air Fryer- true game changer

air fryer

While there are so many different air fryers, I’m adding the one I have and love. But if you don’t like this one, there are plenty of other ones on a market and they are truly life changing!

This particular one also comes and goes in Costco for, if I’m remembering correctly, $50ish.

Air Fryer

7. Blender- bullet or ninja or vitamix

For my smoothie lovers out there. These are two of my favorites on the market. Both are great, Ninja could be argued to be more powerful. All depends on your budget and needs.

You can also blend soups, souses, dressings, you name it. Love me a good blender!

Bullet

Ninja 

Vitamix

8. Waffle maker

waffle makers

Waffle maker is a tool that’s way more versatile than just for making waffles. While the original purpose is great and protein waffles are a fantastic breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can use it to make eggs or fruit or pizza.

Waffle Maker

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


Marijuana: A Miracle Drug or Just an Excuse to Get High?

I know we did a little tease a few weeks back with CBD and if it gets you high. Well, this time around we’ll be talking about THC, and yes, this one does get you high. 

I do want to point out that we won’t be talking about recreational use. It’s a personal choice, and we are not here to promote it nor talk against it. When it comes to this, we’re Switzerland. What we will be talking about is the medical uses of Marijuana and the research behind it. 

But first, let’s get sciency about it. What is THC anyway, where does it come from and how exactly does it work. 

weed

(this is what THC molecule looks like)

A lot of people use the word marijuana interchangeably with the word cannabis, however, they are not the same. Cannabis refers to all the products that come from Cannabis plant. Marijuana, on the other hand, is derived from the Cannabis plant and possesses larger amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

CBD (click here to read a post on that) is another cannabinoid that we talked about, however that one doesn’t possess any psychoactive qualities that do make you “high” like TCH would. 

So, when we are talking about medical Marijuana, we are referring to using the whole plant or parts of it to treat medical issues. While FDA doesn’t recognize the entire plant as medicine, it did approve some cannabinoids. The research keeps being conducted on the matter and the usage of medical marijuana is monitored to make sure that the effects are beneficial for relieving symptoms that might be occurring. 

Cannabis Flower

(Cannabis Flower)

FDA currently has 3 synthetic cannabinoids and one plant derived cannabinoid. 

-Marinol (dronabinol), syndros (dronabinol) and cesamet (nabilone) are the synthetically produces THC that are created to treat Anorexia in adult patients with AIDS as well as nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. 

-Epidiolex is a plant derived cannabidiol that is used for treatment of seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex. 

So what THC is used for?

Pain

Medical Marijuana is often times used for the relief of chronic pain, post surgery pain, elderly pain. Research has shown positive results in a multitude of studies. 

2015 study on using marijuana and cannabinoids for chronic pain has reposted positive results. It even included potential ability to treat nerve pain.

In 2018 during a review of 47 studies that included 4743 participants using medical marijuana for chronic pain. 29% of people taking cannabinoids experienced a reduction in pain compared to 26% of people taking placebo. Unfortunately, these numbers are not significantly meaningful, and people who did use medical marijuana also reposted side effects more frequently than people using placebo. 

Anxiety and depression

The research for the treatments of anxiety and depression is still in the early stages. At the current stages, researchers share potentiality for helping achieve normal endocannabinoid function as well aid in mood stabilization. 

Researchers at University of Buffalo have been looking into the use of cannabinoids for depression that’s been caused by chronic stress, and been focusing on the endocannabinoids- natural chemicals in the brain that our body produces. These chemicals are responsible for emotions and behavior, as well as motor function control and cognition. They are also similar in their makeup to cannabis. While current research has been done on animals and not humans it has been discovered that chronic stress affects the production of endocannabinoids and can lead to depression, and by using cannabis these levels might be evened out and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Cancer

With cancer there might come a point when the drugs just don’t help and medical marijuana use for treatment of pain in cancer patients have been one of the most heard about uses for medical marijuana. 

In a study with 17000 people with cancer 70% of those people reported improvement in pain management. Studies also shown that people using medical marijuana need less pain medications. Recently, it’s also been found that certain cannabinoids can slow the spread of some forms of cancer. 

Relying solely on marijuana to treat cancer should not be an option, however it has been shown to be a great aid in managing symptoms. 

Epilepsy

Epidiolex, which as CBD product, has been approved by the FDA for treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex has been tested in three different double blinded studies that totaled 516 patients who suffered either from Lennox-Gastaut or Dravet syndrome. It has been found that if taken alongside other medications for the conditions, Epidiolex has been shown to be effective in reducing frequency of seizures when compared to the placebo group.  

As far as side effects go, people reported sleepiness and fatigue, as well as insomnia and sleep disorder, rash, decreased appetite to name a few. 

There’s still a lot of research to be done, and while there are some promising results overall. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 

Research on the matter of PTSD is new and the information varies from study to study.

The subject of PTSD is still pretty new when it comes to research of whether medical marijuana helps elevate the symptoms. And while there is still a lot of research to be done, some recent studies do show promising results. 

There are two studies that show the effect of cannabis on amygdala- that part of the brain that is responsible for fear response to threats. Cannabis has been found to lower the activity in this part of the brain, it has also been found to play a part in alleviating some traumatic memories. 

The study that was done by Wayne State University did have only 71 participants, with some receiving placebo and some getting medical marijuana treatment. People receiving cannabis, however, showed the change in amygdala activity and reposted less fear while using THC. 

Another study done by Brazil's Federal University of Paraná focused on how cannabis can help remove the memories of trauma. They followed on the lead by the Yale professor- Andrew Sewell, who was proposing that cannabis can help overwrite those memories. 

Nausea and Vomiting due to cancer chemotherapy

Dronabinol (Marinol) is a drug that contains THC, designed to treat nausea and vomiting that’s caused by chemotherapy. 

In a 2015 review of 23 studies, that had 1326 participants, on cannabinoids being used to treat nausea and vomiting, it has been found that it is significantly more helpful than placebo, and is close in effectiveness to the other medications used for treatment. 

Eating Disorders 

Cannabis has been known to be an aid when it comes to treating anorexia or other disorders that cause weight loss or low appetite. One of the effects of cannabis is increased appetite, which can help people who are struggling with keeping the weight up, gain or maintain where they need to be.

Sleep Issues 

Throughout many studies, it has been shown that cannabis benefits sleep. Studies that have been done on other issues such as PTSD, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain have derived information about sleep as well. It’s been shown that cannabis helps people fall asleep faster, have better quality of sleep, and aids in having less disturbances during sleep. And while these results are for people with other medical conditions and there hasn’t been too much research done for sleep issues themselves, it can be unclear if the sleep improvements are due to the improvement of other symptoms or a direct effect of cannabis. 

Cannabis Strain Closeup

How can you consume medical marijuana?

While there are a few drugs on the market to treat cancer related pain and nausea as well as weight loss associated with AIDS, the majority of the cannabis comes in forms of:

-Dried leaves of the buds for smoking

-Edibles-cookies, brownies, gummies, beverages

-Oils, either for vaping or adding to the drinks

-Topical solutions like creams, patches

-Spray for the mouth

-Pill and capsule form

The truth is, while there is a lot of good data to support the positive effects of medical marijuana, there are also countless side effects that can arise.

Some of them are:

-Memory issues

-Difficulty concentrating

-Dizziness

-Headache

-Anxiety and paranoia

-Increased appetite

-Increased heart rate

-Dry mouth and eyes

Marijuana also does have psychoactive qualities that provide the “high” and can make you feel confused and unable to control your movement in the way you normally would.

Medical marijuana is prescribed by the doctor (that part that makes it medical), so it is important to communicate with the doctor about all the potential risks as well as be honest about how cannabis affects you and makes you feel.

It is critical to keep all the information in the back of your mind when it comes to having a conversation with the provider, both good and bad, and do your own research on a deeper level to make sure that it is something that can be beneficial for you.

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


4 Easy, Delicious & Healthy Freezer Meals

These Freezer Meals Are an Easy Way to Stay Warm & Satisfied!

While cooking fresh meals is always great, having ready-to-go freezer meals handy can be great too! That’s why I’m sharing some of my favorite freezer friendly recipes:

 

What’s in the Zucchini Lasagna:

-2 zucchini, sliced into flat ‘noodles’ 

-1 ½ cups marinara

-1 cup ricotta 

-1 cup shredded mozzarella

-1 lb ground beef

-White onion, diced 

What to do: 

1- Preheat the oven to 375F.

2- Lightly cook the onion in a pan. Once translucent, add the ground turkey & cook thoroughly. 

3- Add the marinara to the ground beef & onion and stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

4- Spread a layer of marinara mixture in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. 

5- Add a layer of zucchini noodles followed by ricotta and mozzarella. Repeat until you’re left with marinara on top. 

6- Bake for 15-20 minutes and remove. Add final layer of mozzarella & bake for 10 more minutes. 

7- Let cool completely, & freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. 

 

What’s in the Chicken Stir Fry:

-2 chicken breasts, cooked & seasoned. 

-Rice of choice

-Your favorite veggies (I used broccoli, peppers, onion, carrots, mushrooms)

What to do: 

1- In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium heat & add veggies (if using carrots, cook those for a few minutes before adding others).

2- Cook veggies until soft. Add your favorite spices like salt, garlic, ginger, etc.)

3- Add cooked chicken to the mixture and stir. 

4- Optional: Add cooked rice to the bottom of your glass container (you could also make rice at the time of eating). 

5- Pour the veggie mixture into your airtight container & freeze. 

Note: Add sauce like coconut aminos when you’re ready to eat it. 

 

What’s in the Veggie Chili:

-2 15oz cans kidney beans

-2 15oz cans diced tomatoes

-1 can northern beans 

-Bell pepper 

-Onion

-1-2 cups green beans 

-3-6 carrots & celery stalks 

-½ cup veggie broth 

-Seasoning (I use chili powder, cumin, turmeric, paprika, garlic powder, salt) 

What to do: 

1- Sautée the carrots in oil for a few minutes. 

2- Add onion, peppers, and celery. 

3- Add in beans & diced tomatoes. Mix well. 

4- Add greens beans and stir. 

5- Add veggie broth & spices.

6- Bring to a boil & then simmer for 2 hours. 

7- Place in container & freeze. 

 

What’s in the Beef Stroganoff: 

-1 LB ground beef

-Chickpea noodles 

-2 cups spinach

-2 cups mushrooms 

-1 onion

-½ cup Greek yogurt 

-½ cup beef broth

-2 tbsps almond flour 

What to do: 

1- Cook the beef and prepare the noodles according to package instructions.

2- In a pan, sauté the onion and mushrooms until soft. 

3- Add the almond flour and stir. Then add Greek yogurt and broth. 

4- Add the spinach and cook until soft. 

5- Place in container and freeze until ready to eat. 

Note: Cool all meals before freezing. When ready to enjoy, let them thaw completely before heating. 


Will Carbs make you fat?

At the current point, we are almost always programmed to believe that carbs will either make you fat or are inherently bad for you, hence, you should avoid them any way you possibly can. Statements like this usually come either with no explanation at all.

To clarify this one- carbs provide the body with glycogen, that’s used when you are working out for energy. If the body runs out of glycogen it’s forced to go for the fatty acids for energy (aka get it from fat, caveat though is, it goes for fat that has been recently consumed and not the stored one), which can cause a decline in performance. If you are wondering what the hell glycogen is, glycogen is a complex molecule that contains glucose and is found in liver and other tissues, and which provides a reserve of glucose energy which is released when you are exercising. Glycogen stores are small, so say, if you’re going to clock in a weight lifting session having a carb snack or beverage can help, because the body will go directly for those without letting them raise insulin levels. 

Point is, there’s a lot of information as well as misinformation out there, so we believe that it’s important to know why and how and the science behind it all. 

Sit tight, buckle up (but really, don’t read this while you’re driving), and let’s get into the most controversial macro nutrient. 

 

What are carbohydrates? 

Carbs are one of the macronutrient groups (a type of food (e.g. fat, protein, carbohydrate) required in large amounts in the diet.) that most people require to be a major part of their food intake. 

Dietary Reference Intake reports that the acceptable distribution of cabs should range between 45%-65% of the total daily intake. 

 Carbohydrates are not only essential for the general public, they are especially important if you are someone who works out. Most need 55-60%, some even more so 60-70%. However, for specific sports or body building competitions, lowering carb intake below 55% is a way to bring the body fat percentage  down. 

But what exactly are carbohydrates? Carbs are made out of building blocks of sugar and have different classifications based on how many sugar units are combined in their 

molecule. 

Glucose, fructose and galactose are single unit sugar and are called monosaccharides.

Sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (milk sugar) are double unit sugar called disaccharides. 

These two types are what is called simple carbohydrates, you know, the ones that you should be terrified of (jokes, jokes).

Long-chain molecules make up a variety of carbs like starches and fibers, and other slow-digesting carbs that carry a lot of benefit, including pre-biotics. 

 

What do they do in your body?

  • Energy Production

Carbohydrates are and should be used as the main source of energy for the body, as cells in the brain, muscles and other tissues use monosaccharides for the energy needs. 

Starches and sugars are the ones that provide the most energy, followed by polyols and fibers. Monosaccharides get absorbed into the blood stream through the main intestine and then are being distributed to the cells that need them. Insulin and glucagon play a huge part in the digestive system as well, as they manage the blood sugar levels by removing or adding glucose to the blood stream. 

Side note-if you happen to be a generally healthy individual, being scared of insulin spikes and avoiding carbs all together does not make any sense of difference. Insulin, in a healthy person, manages sugar levels as it’s needed and is quite an automated system of its own. 

  • Energy storage

If the glucose is not being used directly right away, it does get converted to glycogen that is then stored in liver and muscles, and it is a source of energy that can be used when needed. During the times when you’re asleep, in between meals, during physical activity, the body taps into that storage and uses it to maintain constant blood sugar levels. 

Our bodies are wired to use glucose for energy and access energy from fat only in dire need, in situations of starvation. Because of that, blood glucose should be maintained at optimum levels at all times. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for carbs is 130 grams per day in order to have optimum brain and nervous system function. 

  • Promote digestive health 

Fiber unlike sugars and starches is not broken down into glucose. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. 

Soluble fiber has been found to improve stool consistency and increase the frequency of bowel movements in people struggling with constipation. It also reduced pain and strain associated with bowel movement. 

Insoluble fiber is also a great aid in alleviating constipation. It adds bulk to your stool and helps it move faster through the digestive tract. This fiber is found in whole grains as well as skins of fruits ans vegetables. ​​

The American Heart Association recommends about 25-30 grams of fiber per day. 

Some of the food ideas to up your fiber intake can be-baked beans, wholewheat pasta, baked potato with skin, oranges, bananas, carrots.

  • Decrease disease risk.

While eating refined carbs in large amounts can affect your health negatively and increase risk of diabetes, dietary fiber is highly beneficial for the heart as well as sugar levels. 

Soluble fiber keeps bile acids from being reabsorbed into the system by binding to them. 

Fiber doesn’t affect blood sugar like other carbohydrates, and even is able to slow absorption and keep the levels lower after meals. 

There’s research to show the lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer for people whose diet is rich in fiber.  

 

Will carbs make you fat?

 

The short answer is No. The long answer is Absolutely Not.

Carbohydrates are not evil, nor do they have an agenda to come get ya.  

Any while some carbs are more nutrient dense than others, there is no dare danger in consuming them as well as having some sugary things (check out this post about sugar over here- it is a great addition to this post) in moderation.  

 

Is there any reason why you shouldn’t have carbs?

There’s research to show that for type 2 diabetes, it is beneficial to follow a lower carb diet. However, this is your friendly reminder that we are not doctors here and if you have any concerns about having high blood sugar or diabetes you should talk to your doctor and figure out a plan of action together, rather than deciding to cut down on a macronutrient yourself. 

 

Low carb diets can also help with insulin sensitivity and if you’re severely overweight. But remember you only need to go low carb for a period of time likely. Additionally, a low carb diet is much different than keto. Keto is even more on the extreme end while a low carb diet can be more doable for more people. Remember, this is “low carb” not “no carb”.

 

What about the glycemic index? 

We established already that when you consume carbohydrates, blood glucose level rises and then goes down. This process is called-glycemic response. 

It tells us how quickly the food gets digested and glucose gets absorbed, and the effect on insulin in managing the blood glucose levels. 

What does the glycemic index take into? It takes the type of food into consideration, the type of sugar that forms it, structure of the molecule(different between simple sugars and complex), the way it was cooked,  the amount of other nutrients in the food. 

Foods high on the GI list cause a bigger blood glucose response than the ones that are low. Low GI foods are the ones that are slow carbs, and take a while to get absorbed, so they don’t spike blood sugar right after a meal. 

There are a couple of great resources for Glycemic Index foods, where you can find all the different foods you want to check, if any.

Click here if you want to check it out: 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods

https://glycemicindex.com/ 

I can keep this party going and throw a bunch of myths in and break them into pieces, because no matter the myth, the truth will remain the same. 

Carbs aren’t bad for you, like some people made you believe.

And while something like a donut would be considered a not-as-healthy carb, guess what, they are also not bad in moderation. We use sugars for fuel, and we burn through it. Going for slower and more nutrient dense carbs is generally a better pick for a well-balanced, healthy diet. 

And hey, if you are someone who doesn’t work out every day and doesn’t need the amount of carbs for the activities at hand, and does feel good on a lower carb diet, do what feels good. The goal of it all was to educate you and show that carbs are not to be avoided if you crave them. Especially if you’re on a diet that has low-carb and the only reason you’re doing it is that you’re scared but miss them daily, maybe throw in some each day to come back to normal.


cbdc=

What is CBD and can it get you high?  

You must’ve heard about CBD by now, maybe not tried it but heard of it. But, if you are someone still wondering if CBD can get you high, we’re here to break it down, explore its benefits and learn about possible side effects as well as who and why should be using it. 

cbdc=

What is CBD and can it get you high?  

CBD is a cannabidiol and is the second-highest ingredient in cannabis after THC (that one that does get you high). Is CBD legal? Yes,  in 2018 the Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and commercialization of help derived products and its use. CBD can be found in drinks, foods, bath bombs, creams and balms, pet products and even clothes. CBD is found within the hemp plant, but it can also be produced in the lab. It has not showed any signs of dependency in humans as well as any health related problems in regard to using pure CBD. 

An early disclaimer that we would like to make is that due to CBD being so new to the market and in return research about it being also fairly new, there’s still a lot that is unknown. All the benefits that we’ll be talking about are based on research, nonetheless. Another note is that at current moment, any CBD product with more than 0.3% THC would be considered illegal in the states where recreational marijuana has not been legalized yet. 

Now let’s get into why CBD is so awesome!

Top 10 Benefits of CBD

  • Aids in relieving Anxiety and Depression

One of the largest and most well known effects of CBD is the ability to lower levels of anxiety and aid in managing depression. 

There’s been a study done on 57 men done by the Brazilian journal of Psychiatry that created a simulated public speaking test. Subjects were given placebo, 150 mg of CBD, 300 mg or 600 mg before their speech and the ones who got 300 mg reported significantly lower levels of anxiety compared to the 150 or 600 mg groups which on the other hand experienced higher level of anxiety. 

Another study revealed that CBD has similar effect to Imipramine, which is an antidepressant. It’s not been confirmed that CBD produces the same reaction in the body, and it needs more research. It has been found to interact with brain receptors that are involved in regulating the mood. 

  • Treats some Epilepsy Symptoms 

There are some situations where CBD can be used to treat seizures. 

There’s been multiple studies done on 516 people who have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome, and they received either CBD in the form of medication or placebo. Epidiolex (brand name for the CBD product) has been shown to decrease the amount of seizures, when taken with the other prescribed medications, when placebo didn’t. 

Epidiolex has been approved in 2018 by the FDA. 

  • Helps reduce PTSD Symptoms

In a 2018 study done by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11 people who suffered with PTSD received CBD as well as psychiatric care for 8 weeks. Ten of eleven people noticed a decrease in PTSD symptoms and had a good experience taking CBD. 

While CBD can aid in reduction of anxiety and depression, therapy is still a huge factor in working through PTSD and triggers that it causes. 

From 2012 to 2016 there’s been four trials that also showed CBD aiding in reducing PTSD, but some studies included THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the one that gets you high) in the treatment. While combining CBD with THC created a complementing benefits, high dose CBD with high dose of THC would not change the “high”, but high dose of CBD and low amount of THC would end up enhancing the effects of the CBD. 

  • Relieves Pain Levels

Marijuana has been used for pain treatments as early as 2900 B.C.  Much more recently, it’s been discovered that it’s really the CBD that has those pain-relieving effects.
Human Bodies actually have a system called endocannabinoid system or ECS that is responsible for regulating things like pain, immune system functions, sleep and appetite.

There’s been several studies that found a combination of CBD and THC to be effective in treating multiple sclerosis and arthritis. There’s been a spray created that is a combination of both called Sativex, and it’s been approved in multiple countries for treatment of pain and multiple sclerosis. 

A study with 47 people receive Sativex and placebo for a month, and a group that received the drug reported improvements in pain levels and muscle spasms. There’s also been another study with 58 people, and there’s also been an improvement in pain during movement. 

There’s been a study in 2020 that used topical CBD for a group of people who suffered with symptomatic peripheral neuropathy. One group used the CBD treatment, while another got placebo. In the end of the study, the group using CBD showed a major decrease in intense and sharp pain compared to the group that got placebo. While the effects of CBD oil will not be able to aid in systemic issues, as that can only be done by having it in the bloodstream, it’s still a great tool for pain. Topical CBD is also great for muscle soreness and pain. 

  • May Reduce Acne

Acne is one of the most common conditions that affects over 9% of the population. 

Based on recent studies, CBD oil has been found to be a great aid in treating acne because of the anti-inflammatory nature of it, as well as the ability to lower sebum production. 

There’s been a few studies that confirm these findings, however it’s still early in the research and more studies on humans are needed. 

CBD oil is nonetheless something worth trying to lower the inflammation and control production of sebum. ​​

If you want to learn more about various holistic ways to treat acne, click here to go read the recent post on it.

  • Might protect against neurological disease

CBD has been found to provide benefits for neurological disorders like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. CBD affects the endocannabinoid system and other brain systems. 

Sativex, an oral spray that’s been used for pain treatment, that contains both CBD and THC, has shows the ability to reduce muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis. Another study showed major reduction of spasms for people with epilepsy. 

Several other studies have shows that CBD as a part of the treatment aided in sleep quality for people with Parkinson’s disease. 

Animal studies showed decrease in inflammation, as well as aid in preventing neurodegeneration and cognitive decline that happens with Alzheimer's disease. 

  • Aids in Sleep 

Other common use for CBD is for improving the quality of sleep. 31% of people taking CBD for anxiety and depression reported an improvement in sleep quality. 

In a case study done with 72 people, 48 reported improved sleep during the first month of using it. 

  • Can help with Heart Health

Research done in the past few years discovered that CBD can provide benefits for heart health and is able to lower high blood pressure.  

High blood pressure can lead to a lot of issues down the road including stroke, heart attacks and metabolic syndrome. Stress and anxiety can also be factors adding to the ride of blood pressure. 

One study showed on a sample of healthy men, taking 600 mg of CBD oil showed the decrease in resting blood pressure when compared to the group that received placebo.

Multiple animal studies also showed that CBD can reduce levels of inflammation and cell death that’s associated with heart disease. Another study discovered the reduction of oxidative stress and heart damage in mice with heart disease. 

  • Can relieve cancer related symptoms

CBD has been found to reduce symptoms of cancer as well as side effects that come with treatment. 

Study been conducted with 117 people who suffered with pain that would not be relived with medication. This study included both CBD and THC.
Subject that received a combination of both experienced higher reduction in pain versus the group that only received THC. 

CBD also been found to relieve side effects like nausea and vomiting being the most common ones from treatment. 

One animal study even showed the ability of CBD to promote cell death of human breast cancer cells. 

More studies are still needed to know exact effects in humans, but the outlook is optimistic. 

  •  Appetite Stimulant

CBD is great in providing higher appetite. This is good for people struggling to gain weight or older population that is losing appetite with age or the medications they are taking. Both CBD and THC stimulate appetite and can be a great tool for people struggling with it. 

While CBD trials are still new, a lot of promising results are coming our way and at this point already there’s plenty of positive that comes from CBD.

Overall, we always recommend to talk to your general practitioner, especially when it comes to pain and medical conditions.

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


Selection of protein sources in kitchen background

Why Protein is Important

We all heard how important protein is from a very young age. We would be told about eating protein in movies like Beauty and the Beast where Gaston ate a dozen eggs to get swall:

“When I was a lad, I ate four dozen eggs

Every morning to help me get large

And now that I'm grown, I eat five dozen eggs

So I'm roughly the size of a barge!” 

And now it seems to be the only macronutrient without any major controversy, not like what carbs or fats have going on at least. One of the most conflicting questions out there is what happens if you consume too much protein? We will get into how much is too much in a minute here, but on the bright side there’s no shadow of the doubt that we need protein!

Let’s start with some basics…

protein sources

What is protein and what does it do in the body?

Protein is a large molecule that is made of 10-100 amino acids. There are 22 amino acids that are considered biologically important. 

We need protein for growth, maintenance and repair of cells, including muscle cells as well as production of enzymes, hormones and DNA. 

Proteins possess important properties required for movement, hormonal properties, structural as a component of connective tissue, transporter properties, enzymes needed for digestion, receptors within the cells. 

 

To organize it all into five main functions of protein, they are:

  1. Build.

Protein is essential in the process of building of bones, muscles and skin.

  1. Repair.

Protein is used to repair tissues in the body.

  1. Oxygenate.

Red blood cells contain a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. This helps supply your entire body with the nutrients it needs.

  1. Digest.

About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which aids in digesting food, and making new cells and body chemicals.

  1. Regulate.

Protein plays an important role in hormone regulation, especially during the transformation and development of cells during puberty.

 

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are the compounds filled with nitrogen and oxygen as well as variable side chain group. Our bodies need 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are essential. Your body is not able to produce the nine essential ones and you need to get them from the food sources. Amino acids are a product of protein breakdown and are used for a variety of uses, couple of them being the synthesis of proteins and aiding in building new proteins.

Our bodies are in a constant state of building and breaking down of cell. Amino acids are the reason hair and nails grow, and skin sheds.

 

So why Proteins are so important? Let’s narrow it down to the top 11 benefits of sufficient protein intake:

  1. Reduces Appetite and Hunger levels

Each micronutrient has its own task and effect in the body. Multiple studies discovered that protein happens to be the most filling one. Protein can control your hunger hormone called Ghrelin and lower its levels, so as a result you feel less hungry as well as more full.

Protein has also been found as a great tool when it comes to losing weight.

  1. Increases muscle mass and strength.

Protein is the main building block for bones and muscles. If your goal is building muscle protein is a friend. It is The intake depends on whether or not you’re maintaining or building, but none the less, it is important to make sure you’re eating enough protein to supple the body with needed nutrients for the muscle gains. Another time where protein intake is crucial, is while losing weight. Protein should be sufficient to make sure you don’t lose muscle mass while losing fat.

  1. Great for the bones

Yet again, protein is a major building block for bones so it’s important to keep the intake at a good level. There are multiple myths when it comes to this one about animal protein not being good for the bones. The claim is that protein increases acid levels in the body and that leads to calcium leaving the bones in order to neutralize the acid. Multiple studies have debunked that theory and it is far from the truth.

         Having a sufficient level of protein intake have a higher chance of maintaining healthy bones as you age and can lower the chance of osteoporosis as well as fractures.

  1. Boosts metabolism and increases fat burning

Your body uses calories to digest foods and use the nutrients that are in it. This process is known as thermic effect of food or TEF. Out of all the macronutrients protein has been found to have the highest thermic effect, which in return burns the most amount of calories. Protein’s thermic effect is 5-15% higher than carbohydrates and fat.

  1. Lowers blood pressure.

Research shows that while on a high protein diet the risk of high blood pressure. During the review of 40 controlled trials, with subjects following a high protein diet the markers for the Bystolic blood pressure went down by 1.76 mm Hg and 1.15 for diastolic blood pressure.

High blood pressure is known to be a cause of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease, so keeping it in control is key for a longer, healthier life.

  1. Helps with weight loss

This one goes back into the metabolism boosting properties of protein. Diet that is higher in protein, when combined with exercise can aid in building muscle mass, which in return can boost the metabolism. The less fat and more muscle that you have directly affects the fat-burning process. Making sure the protein levels are on the desired levels for the goal is something to focus on.

  1. Aids recovery

If you are someone who loves lifting weights and does that on the regular basis, you need keep the protein intake up to the mark. Protein promotes post workout muscle adaptations and aids in muscle fibers repair. Having protein also helps restoring the energy that’s been depleted during the exercise.   

  1. Repairs injuries

As a building block of tissues, organs, and muscles protein can speed up recovery from injuries. When injury occurs diet high in protein can prevent potential of muscle atrophy and shrink that happens when you are dealing with lack of mobility and movement.

  1. Improves immune system.

In order to be able to efficiently fight off infections your body needs to have a sufficient level of protein intake. Our immune systems release antibodies to fight off viral or bacterial infections. Antibodies are made from proteins and in order to be able to protect the immune system from these viruses and if the protein levels are low it will be hard to successfully fight off those viruses.

  1. Reduces Stress

Stress has huge effects on the body and health. Stress can affect hormones, sugar levels, sleep. Protein aids in sleep quality, helps normalize hormone production. Intake in the morning can improve energy levels as well as reduce agitation and mood fluctuations. Healthy diet in general has great effect on managing stress level.

  1. Improves brain function

Not enough protein in the system can affect a few of the hormones and enzymes and neurotransmitters that are needed for proper brain function.

 

Where to get protein from?

So you decided that you want to focus on your protein intake, but now you are facing a question of where the hell to get enough of it. Well, there are multiple options that we are going to go over now.

Animal Protein- poultry, red meat, fish, eggs, milk are the main examples. The main benefit of animal protein is that it comes with a full spectrum of essential amino acids. Chicken breast, turkey breast, tilapia, mahi-mahi, egg whites, lean ground beef are some of the options that are low in fat and macro nutrient wise are the purest high protein products. 

Protein powder- there are a variety of protein powders from whey to casein to vegan proteins made of peas or soy. While protein powder should not be the main source of protein intake, adding 

Protein bars- can be a good snack. A lot of the different brands are high in sugar, so our recommendation would be to check the nutrition information to make sure the sugar levels are not too high.

Vegan sources- lots of vegetables, legumes and nuts are packed with protein and are a great way to get enough protein if you’re following a vegan diet. One thing to look out for is that most of them are not pure protein and either have carbs or fats as a part of them, so if you’re trying to lose weight keeping an eye for overall calories would be important.

plant protein

How much protein do you actually need:

The daily recommendation for protein is in the range of 0.8-1 grams of protein per 1 kilogram of weight. Intake depends on exercise and the goals of individual. For building muscles you’ll be needing about 30% of the daily intake, and being in the range of 1-2 grams per kilogram of weight.  

To bring it the full circle:

Protein is highly important no matter what your fitness goals are. There are plenty of options both animal based and vegan and as a major building block of tissues and muscle keeping the intake at a sufficient levels.

What are some of your favorite proteins? Let us know in the comment section.

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


The Truth About Sugar & How to Spot It

There’s been a conversation about the dangers of sugar for a while now. We constantly use phrases like sugar addiction and protect our children from getting too bouncy off sugar.

These days, there are diets that are fully based on cutting sugar out of the diet and letting people see the changes that come with it. On the other side, we have claims that eating sugar will not ruin your progress, and you can keep consuming it.

Where does the truth really lay, though?

The truth is really in between. Why? Because sugar is not made equal per se.

In this post, we are going to talk about two types of sugar-natural sugar and added sugar.

Natural sugar, that is found in fruit in the form of fructose and in dairy (milk and cheese) in the form of lactose and refined sugar, that comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. It is usually found as sucrose-a combination of fructose and glucose.

The big differentiating factor is that foods with natural sugar are also filled with a ton of important vitamins and minerals, on top of having high water content and being low in sodium and calories. Fruits are also full of fiber, that is not only an important part of the healthy diet, but is also slow to digest which helps with feeling full for longer than if you ate a donut and doesn’t spike blood sugar as rapidly as the donut would. When it comes to lactose from milk, it comes with a good serving of protein that also helps that satiation feeling stay longer.

When it comes to added sugar, you should be more aware of what you are consuming and how much. It’s important to keep in mind that added sugars can be added by you- when you add sugar to your coffee or bake something using sweeteners, or it can be added by the manufacturer. A lot of times foods containing added sugar are not nutritiously dense, and because of that our bodies can create a spike in blood glucose level (sugar). Over time, consistently consuming foods with high amounts of added sugar can lead to a plethora of medical complications, such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

Now, that we know the difference, let’s find out what the recommended amount of sugar per day is.

The American Heart Association recommends to keep sugar intake under 24 grams (6 teaspoons) per day for women and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) per day for men.
1 teaspoon= 4 grams of sugar
You might be thinking, well, 24 and 36 grams do seems like a reasonable amount.
Let’s look at some common sodas, drinks and snacks….

It’s actually kind of crazy when you think about it. One bottle of Coke contains 65 grams of sugar. Consuming liquid calories can be compared to a termite infestation. You don’t realize the damage is being done until you have to do major repairs. Gross comparison, I know, but that’s kind of the point.
How many sodas can one easily drink in a day? Two? Three? Five? Or have a couple of “refreshing” Starbucks drinks on a hot day. The point is, it's not only a lot of calories that people don’t pay attention to, but the amount of added sugar is through the roof.
And without going into the fact that water costs more than soda in McDonald's drive-through (that’s a whole different story that we won’t be covering here), fixing the damage done by overconsumption of sugar can be a hard and long road depending on how far that sugar addiction journey took you.
In all seriousness though, if you are working on living a healthier lifestyle, you should keep an eye on your processed food and drink consumption. MyFitnessPal is probably the easiest way to track your sugar intake in their Nutrients tab.

What are some dangers of overconsumption of added sugar?

Research shows that consumption of added sugars in snacks, sweets and sodas has a direct correlation with weight gain and obesity. More often than not, these foods are high in calories, yet low in the nutritional value profile. Due to the rapid increase in blood sugar that happens when you consume food with added sugar, the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes increases as well.
When consuming extra sugar, there’s also an increased risk of development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as well as, having increased triglyceride levels that can lead to cardiovascular disease.

How to spot added Sugars on Ingredients Lists or Nutrition Facts Label


There are so many names that added sugars have. There are more than 60 different names, a lot of them end with -ose- on the end, like fructose, sucrose and so on. It is important to remember that added sugar is not only found in sweets or desserts. It can be found in so many foods like breads, soups, cured meats, yogurts, frozen meals, instant oatmeal, granola, dried fruit, salad dressings, protein bars, baby food and more. It’s through these foods, the hidden ones, that sugar intake can add up on day-to-day basis and knowing what to look for is key.

On the Nutrition Facts Label, you can find both total sugar-this one can be natural and added sugar amount. It’s under the Carbohydrates, and it’s a good thing to keep an eye on when buying things. Being able to read the label can help adjust the diet for the better in just a few easy choices. The new style of the label- the one that we have displayed right here, has extra added information that till help you in your purchasing decisions. The combination of both ingredients and the nutrition information is the best approach.

So, how much sugar should I be eating?

The USDA recommends 2 cups of fruit and at least 2.5 cups of vegetables daily for adults. And adults should get two to three servings of dairy per day — 1 cup of nonfat or low-fat milk, 1 cup of nonfat or low-fat yogurt, or 1.5 ounces of natural cheese all count as one serving.
In this situation, we, of course, are talking about natural sugar found in fruit and dairy. If you’re bad at eating fruits and veggies, supplement companies have green and red powders filled with nutrients. It’s not an ideal situation and overall better to eat proper fruits and vegetables, but if you want to make sure you're getting enough vitamins in your diet it can be helpful.
Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and apples are high in antioxidants and can help reduce risks of cancer. They are also delicious, which is a great add-on.
We are strong believers in balance when it comes to the diet and not categorizing foods in the bad and good categories. There are, however, foods that are rich in nutrients and foods that are not. And while a donut or candy or soda are not filled with nutrients, we all have a soft spot for delicious treats. For general health, following 80/20 principal, that being eating clean nutrient dense foods for 80% of the time and allowing yourself 20% for foods you enjoy, is probably one of the best sustainable way to eat where you don’t feel deprived but also prioritize food that nourishes your body. Added sugars are not inherently bad, added sugars in excess is when things could get slightly more complicated. As we mentioned earlier, there’s a vast amount of health complications that can be caused by high blood sugar, and if you have any concerns about your processed sugar intake, the best thing to do would be to consult with your doctor and make sure your levels are where they need to be.

To bring it full circle, sugar is not inherently bad, and we need natural sugar for nutrients and minerals as well as for energy. Now that you know what to look for on the ingredients label, keeping an eye on added sugar in the processed food can drastically change your diet for the better. Candy and treats will not ruin your progress or health if consumed in moderation.

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


What is motivation and how do you stay motivated?

I feel like it’s important to start with basics, what is motivation anyways? 

motivation

Motivation is the reason behind most of our behaviors. From getting up to get a glass of water to making a commitment to losing weight. Both have motivations behind them. Getting a glass of water is motivated by fulfilling thrust, when losing weight can be motivated by a variety of reasons from feeling healthier to looking a certain way and is a longer multistep process. 

It is easier to sustain motivation for a one small task, but when it comes to long term larger goals it definitely can be very hard. 

There are different types of motivation and causes for it. They are biological, emotional, social, cognitive, value and other types of behaviors. The reasons behind actions are varied depending on what you need them to be. They, however, come down to two main groups- extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. 

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside the individual, its money driven, recognition and praise are large factors in this motivation.

Intrinsic motivation on the other hand comes from within the person. They are not powered by outside sources, rather pure desire to solve something for the satisfaction of simply solving something. 

Human motivation is one of the topics that is continuously researched and is a subject that is getting more and more data gathered. Theories of motivation have been created to understand reasons for motivation better, they are:

Drive theory- this theory follows the idea of maintaining homeostasis. Keeping the body’s needs fulfilled, especially when it comes to needs like hunger and thrust. 

Incentive theory- this theory suggests that motivations that are caused by the outside incentives, such as praise or monetary reward or any form of the outside benefit that you can get for doing certain things. 

Humanistic theory (Maslow's theory of needs)- this theory talks about basic human needs, like getting food and shelter, as well as being safe and having companionship and community. Everything else is secondary and should be fulfilled once these few main needs are taken care of.  

We all know all that, maybe not in the full depth of theories of motivation, but all of it does make sense logically. In theory, motivation is easy and generally not complicated. Staying motivated is the hard part of it all. 

So how do we do that? How do we continuously stay motivated, especially for goals that take a long time to achieve? It’s not an easy task. There wouldn’t be hundreds of books and so many research papers if it was easy. 

However, even though it’s a hard task, there are so many small actionable steps that not only are easy on their own, but are actionable right now. 

In this post, I want to focus on those long term goals and the motivation to achieve them. And if you can hear whispers around you softly saying “habits…  habits… habits” you are on the right track. 

And don’t get me wrong, motivation is still a crucial part of it all. Without motivation the desire to achieve something would not exist, so we desperately need it to fuel the fire inside us that tells us to win the contest, lose weight, become a new Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Steve Jobs or Bill Gates however, didn’t achieve what they did on pure motivation, not even  close. They worked. Hard and long. I can throw another example of Serena Williams, since we are here for wellness and health, she didn’t become one of the top 10 tennis players in the world on pure motivation either. No one ever does. Which brings me to the rule of 10,000 hours. 

 

What is the rule of 10,000 hours? 

motivation postIn “Outliers”, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, he presents a rule of ten thousand hours. The idea is that it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve complete mastery of the matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s playing piano or guitar, starting the best computer company or becoming a pro athlete. It’s the same rule- you put in this time, and you harvest your rewards. Is there something that makes people who achieve these heights different or special? Yes and no. I’m going to lie if I said that the outside world has no part in it. If I were to put it into a formula, it would be something like:

10% motivation + 10%  socioeconomic status + 10% environment + 10% dedication +10% consistency + 10% community +10% right time, right place +10% getting an opportunity+10% putting in the work day in and day out+10% having a mentor

You get the idea though, getting to be great at something is not a straight line, it’s steps back and forth mixed with some shuffling on the same spot and after years of diligent practice things will come. Here’s another caveat, though, you still need to chase them. Just putting in work and waiting for an opportunity to fall on  you from the sky is not going to cut it. Sometimes situations like this happen, but they are not to be expected. Becoming great is hard and there are many people who are but don’t have recognition that they deserve. 

Now, that we have covered some important points, let’s get into tangible steps. That’s what we all here are for anyways! 

 

How does one stay motivated?

Step 1: Figure out your why! Really think about it, why do you want to achieve what you want? 

Let’s use the weight loss goal example to dissect it. Your ‘why’ can be looking a certain way or doing it for your partner (it’s never a good idea btw) or doing it so you just feel healthier and more toned. 

Every single of these ‘whys’ has a different amount of fuel power behind it. 

Looking a certain way, for instance, is capped by the moment you achieve your goal. You got there, you achieved the look, what’s next? If you were dieting yourself to death, chances are you’ll bounce back where you were fairly quickly. But say, you did it right, small calorie deficit with a workout program, you need to have a goal to follow once you get there, because without the next steps that goal you just achieved will not last if you stop doing the steps you were.

Doing it for a partner or someone in your life - that’s not really going to last! While they can encourage you on this journey, you really have to do it for you and that you believe this could have a positive impact on your life. 

Losing weight to feel healthier and more toned would probably be the most sustainable one long term. The weight loss aspect is here, but the goal is not just the look, it's the feeling. That feeling can be in the form of lifting heavier weight and feeling stronger, sleeping better, managing stress better, developing a good healthy relationship with food. And if it’s 5 pounds more than what was planned, guess what, you’ll probably be more ok with it rather than chasing a certain look.

Once you figure out your Why, write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it. It’s one thing to have it in your head at all times, but looking at it has a powerful effect. 

Step 2:  Make your steps small and easy to accomplish. 

If you wake up one day and decide that in a week you will run a marathon, when you can barely run 5k right now, chances are it’s not going to go that well. Most of us have these grand goals, and that’s a good thing. Thinking that this big goal can be achieved overnight or in one big step is just not realistic. While I want to encourage you to make and follow your dreams and goals, I also want to tell you that you need a plan. Your plan needs to be divided into phases, then those phases need to be divided into stages and each of those should have a list of actions you can do every day. Let’s look at our example of running a marathon or 42K without running experience. 

Big Goal: Run a Maraphon. 

Phases: Phase 1- Run a 5K. 

                Phase 2-Run a 10K

                Phase 3-Run a 20K

                Phase 4-Find a marathon, register and keep training before it. 

Phase 1 Stages: Go on a run every day for 30 minutes. Then make it 40, 50, 60 when you can. Track time of every run. Track your mile time progress. 

You get the idea. I specifically decided not to put time frames on it because some people might be able to get there in a few months, others might need a year. All of it depends on how much you want to do it and how quickly you want to achieve it, and the only person who can decide that is YOU. 

Step 3: Visualize your results. 

A lot of people use visualization as a tool and there are a few ways of how to make it work for you. 

One way that can be helpful is implementing a moment of visualization into your morning routine. It is similar to meditation, but instead of clearing your mind, you focus on the end result you want to see. It only takes a couple of minutes to do but doing it daily will keep you on track and turn that technique into a habit that you do. Once you achieve the goal you have you can replace your visualization practice with the next goal. Another common form of visualization is making a mood board. You can combine images that inspire you and bring your mind to the goal at hand. If you choose to do this, you should put your board somewhere where you can always see it. Since we live in a technology generation, it doesn’t have to be a physical board either, you can create a mood board on your computer or phone and put it as a screensaver. 

Step 4: Create a community of like-minded people.

This one is truly key.  How does the saying go? Rome was not built in a day. And definitely not by one person. So why should you be on your journey alone? Regardless of what the motivation is- weight loss, playing an instrument, starting a business, you need people to support you and be with you on this journey together.  Some sources even say to have people around you who either already where you want to be or ahead. I don’t disagree with it, but I think that also adding people who are where you are can help too. You can push each other and confide in your struggles on this specific stage of the journey. 

How to find a community? Like we find anything and everything these days… You google it. Check Instagram and Facebook, look for in person meet ups, whenever that becomes a thing again. There are groups and communities for everything. If older men who love my little pony have their space on the internet, you will find your people. (No shade for bronies, you do you boo) 

Step 5: Schedule your activity and turn it into a habit.

If simply thinking about needing to do something doesn’t do it for you (like it doesn’t for so many people, myself included) schedule it in your planner. Make a point of putting it in your calendar. Something about having it written down or even coming up on your phone that can change the mentality about doing something. No one, and I mean it, literally no single person wakes up motivated every day. That’s just not possible, but the difference is that once you do an activity consistently, for a period of time, it’s not about motivation anymore, but about having a habit to rely on. For a pure motivation to turn it into a habit will require time, consistency and powering over yourself and just doing it. 

Step 6: Practice more.

The more you do something, the better you become. Like with our running example, you first need to run a 5K to run a 15K to then run 25K. But once you’ve been running for a few months, it won’t feel nearly as painful as it did in the beginning. You’ll be better at it. 

It’s very hard to jump from 0 to a 100, but practicing day in and day out, doing the work, scheduling it, still showing up when you don’t want to, all of this will make you better and closer to your goal!

Step 7: Community yet once again.

I want to reinstate yet again, how important the community aspect really is. It’s one thing to have support from your family and friends, and completely different to be surrounded by people who are with you walking the walk. 

 

To really bring it all together, shit is hard. Life is hard. Being motivated all the time is hard. Nothing is impossible, and nothing happens overnight. Your favorite YouTuber probably spent years building the community before they became famous, your favorite athlete trains for 7 hours per day, so they are able to compete. If you're reading this thinking, “well, I know this one company that just blew up overnight.” My question to you would be- do you know how much time they spent planning it? Designing their products and services? Figuring out marketing strategy before they even launched? No one but them knows, but I’m fairly confident it wasn’t a couple of hours on a Wednesday afternoon. 

You have a goal? You are motivated to do it? Jump in then! Ride that motivation wave and build the habits you need to do it in the long run. 

And if you don’t believe me, I will leave you with some quotes by smart people of the past:

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. - Vincent Van Gogh

Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. - Robert Collier

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. - Henry Ford

Step by step. I can't think of any other way of accomplishing anything. - Michael Jordan

Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves. - Dale Carnegie

Sources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-motivation-2795378

https://www.verywellmind.com/theories-of-motivation-2795720

https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-motivation/

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-motivation-2795378

https://www.bustle.com/articles/172824-11-ways-to-stay-motivated-focused-to-achieve-your-goals

https://jamesclear.com/motivation

https://nickwignall.com/stay-motivated/

https://hbr.org/2018/11/how-to-keep-working-when-youre-just-not-feeling-it

https://au.reachout.com/articles/tips-for-getting-and-staying-motivated

https://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/19-simple-ways-to-stay-motivated-that-actually-work.html

 

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio


Exciting New Tool to Help You Master Your Health

A while back we were thinking about creating something that can serve people in a good way and be an affordable tool for health, fitness and nutrition. 

A year and a half later, after many hours and a ton of research, we finally made it to the finish line!

We wrote an ebook, called Master Your Health

There’s so much misinformation regarding fitness and nutrition, and our goal was to make something that is based on science, is affordable, easy to digest and filled with helpful information. 

Master Your Health is the name of the book, and you can buy it by clicking on the image. There is no monthly subscription or any recurring payments. It’s a one time purchase of $24.99, and it’s yours forever.

About the authors: 

Amanda Rocchio. Amanda struggled with an eating disorder in high school, but was able to make full recovery. After realizing that starving yourself is not the way to be healthy, nor is it sustainable, she decided to make it her life’s purpose to help others on their health journey and provide helpful and easy tips on healthy lifestyle that don’t break the bank. 

Chris Rocchio. Chris spent his 20s managing a band and living a party lifestyle. It wasn’t until his 30s that he realized that the way he was feeling wasn’t something that felt good nor what he wanted long term. He made a commitment to himself and his health and gave his all to researching everything about living healthy and sharing that with people. 

What’s in the book:

This 90 page ebook is filled with so much useful and practical information that you can start implementing in your life from day one. 

You get:

-mindset and goal setting worksheets that you can print out and write on to keep yourself on track when achieving your goals. 

-nutritional principles that will help you make sustainable, long term changes to your eating habits.

-workout programs that are good for everyone no matter the fitness level, from complete beginners who never worked out to people who have been working out for years.

-fitness foundations and principles on building a program that will give you results and will be enjoyable to do. 

- 30 recipes that don’t take a lot of time, can be perfect for meal prep and are filled with nutrients and vitamins. 

 

Sneak Previews from the Master Your Health Ebook:

Q&A:

Can it be helpful for someone over 50?

Absolutely positively yes. This book is for all adult ages and fitness levels, from people who never held a dumbbell in their life to someone who’s been lifting for years. 

How much is it?

The book is $24.99 as a one time purchase. 

How quickly do I get access to the book?

Immediately. Once you complete the purchase, it will take you to the book that you can then save on your computer.  You will also receive an email with the copy within a few minutes after purchase. 

Do I need gym access for the workouts?

No you don’t. Most of the exercises have both home versions and the gym one, so you can do the workouts from anywhere with minimal equipment. 

Can the nutrition and the food recommendations be useful for someone not living in the US? 

Absolutely! With a few brand name exceptions specific to the US, 99.9% of the recommendations are applicable for any country in the world. 

Where can I buy it? 

You can buy Master your Health by clicking this link.

 

Reviews: 

"Ur book saved my life...in three months I've lost 10kg"

"I love that they share realistic tips that are easy to incorporate into everyday life and all kinds of helpful tools like checklists, healthy foods, example workouts, tutorials, and delicious recipes that I can actually make!"

"...it has changed my healthy eating game drastically!!"

“I just purchased mine, and I’m super excited”

So, what are you waiting for?

Get on your health journey today!


How to Build a Balanced Lunch with Recipes & Ideas

While I try not to play favorites, lunch is one of my favorite meals of the day. It’s a great opportunity to load up on protein and other nutrients that will sustain you throughout the second half of the day, and there are endless options no matter what you’re craving. There really are so many ways to create a healthy and filling lunch combination! I know that it can be easy to get ‘stuck’ eating the same meals that you typically make and it’s also important to switch it up from time to time. That’s why I wanted to share some different ways to put together a balanced lunch along with some of my favorite recipes that you’ll love and can whip up without investing too much time in case you’re looking for some inspiration! ⁠⁠⁠

 

What are some key aspects to a balanced lunch?

Some of the most important factors to any balanced lunch include high quality sources of protein, vegetables, healthy carbs and fat. And as always, have fun with it by incorporating foods and spices you love! Here are a few examples of the basics when building a filling and nutritious lunch:

Here’s what’s in the Egg Combo:⁠⁠⁠

-Romaine lettuce⁠⁠

-Hard boiled eggs⁠⁠

-Shredded carrots⁠⁠

-Red onion ⁠⁠⁠

-Tomato⁠⁠

-Bleu cheese⁠⁠⁠

+ Seasoning⁠⁠ & dressing of choice⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠

Here’s what’s in the Salmon Combo:⁠⁠⁠⁠

-Brown rice⁠⁠

-Baked wild-caught salmon ⁠⁠⁠

-Edamame⁠⁠

-Roasted sweet potato⁠⁠

-Sautéed mushroom⁠⁠

-Sesame seeds⁠⁠

+oil & seasoning⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠

Here’s what’s in the Chicken Combo:⁠⁠⁠

-Spinach⁠⁠

-Grilled chicken⁠⁠⁠

-Roasted cauliflower ⁠⁠⁠

-Cucumber⁠⁠

-Cooked beets⁠⁠

-Feta⁠⁠

+oil & seasoning ⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠

Here’s what’s in the Shrimp Combo: ⁠⁠⁠

-Quinoa⁠⁠

-Shrimp⁠⁠

-Roasted asparagus⁠⁠

-Bell pepper⁠⁠

-Corn⁠⁠

-Avocado ⁠⁠⁠

+seasoning ⁠⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠

What to do:⁠⁠⁠⁠

1- Prepare your base, protein of choice, vegetables, and healthy fat. ⁠⁠⁠

2- Place it all on a plate and enjoy! ⁠⁠⁠

 

 

What about lunches on-the-go?

So now that we’ve established the most important aspects of building a blanched lunch, let’s look at some other delicious combinations that are perfect for when putting together lunch boxes on-the-go. Bento boxes are great for when eating lunch out and about. Not only are they cute AF, but bento boxes are a great way to pack delicious and healthy meals ahead of time that will keep you on track with your goals. Here are a few of my favorite lunch box combinations:

What’s in the Classic: 

-2 veggie egg cups

-Celery with peanut butter

-Blueberries & blackberries

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Italian:

-Prosciutto

-Grape tomatoes & mozzarella balls

-Mixed greens salad

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Southwest:⁠

-Seasoned ground beef and cauliflower rice

Sautéed in olive oil

-Guacamole

-Bell pepper slices

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Greek:⁠

-Seasoned chicken thigh

-Quinoa salad

-Kalamata and green olives

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Protein Packed:

-2 hard boiled eggs

-Edamame and raw almonds

-Apple slices with almond butter

⁠⠀

What you’ll need for the Smoked Salmon:

-Smoked salmon

-High fiber crackers

-Cucumber, carrots & hummus

 

Some of my favorite at-home lunch recipes

While bento boxes can be the perfect solution if you have a busy schedule during the day, there are plenty of quick, easy and flavor-packed lunches you can make at home if that’s more your jam. From poke bowls to wraps, I got you covered with these 6 lunch ideas:

 

Protein-Packed Poke Bowl

Let’s be real! Poke bowls are straight up delicious, aesthetically pleasing, and come loaded with nutrients. I know it may seem intimidating at first, but poke bowls are actually pretty easy to make and can be prepared with almost any combination of colorful whole-food ingredients. Just make sure to check with your fishmonger that you’re getting sushi-grade fish and that it’s safe to eat raw.⁠⠀

Here’s what you’ll need for the poke bowl:⁠

4oz ahi tuna

1 cup brown rice⁠

¼ cup edamame

¼ cup carrots

¼ cup cucumber

¼ cup red cabbage

¼ cup avocado

⁠⠀

Optional sauces/toppings:⁠

Coconut aminos or soy sauce

Sesame seeds⁠

Tahini sauce⁠

Olive oil if you want to sauté the purple cabbage⁠

⁠⠀

Here’s what to do: ⁠⠀

1- Cook the brown rice according to package instructions.

2- Chop up all of the vegetables and tuna.

3- Sauté the purple cabbage in olive oil for a few minutes if your prefer it cooked.

3- Add the cooked brown rice to a bowl.⁠

4- Top with the rest of the ingredients.⁠

5- Add your fav sauce.⁠

6- Enjoy!⁠

 

5 Ingredient Lunch Recipe using Pantry Items Only 

While making lunch with fresh produce or animal protein is always a good choice, I thought I’d include a super easy recipe that you can make with ingredients in your pantry! This recipe is great as a side dish too if you want to add extra protein or veggies to the mix.⁠

Here’s what you need:

(Makes about 6 servings, a little over a cup each)⁠

1 can black beans

1 can corn⁠

1 cup dry quinoa⁠

1/4-1/2 cup salsa⁠

3 tbsp olive oil⁠

Sea salt (optional)⁠

 

What to do:⁠

1- Cook the quinoa according to the package.⁠

2- Drain and rinse the can of corn & black beans.⁠

3- Combine the quinoa, corn, blacks & olive oil in a bowl.⁠

4- Add sea salt or desired seasoning.⁠

5- Store in fridge & add salsa when ready to eat.⁠

 

Pre-made lunch with the help of Daily Harvest:

Sometimes you just want to save on time and energy when it comes to thinking up and making lunch. That’s why Daily Harvest pre-made meals can be so helpful! The best part is, you only have to prep a protein source of choice and optional fun veggie to make it a well-rounded meal. 

What you need:

1 Daily Harvest Bowl

1 protein of choice, like eggs or chicken

Option to add an extra veggie but definitely not necessary

 

What to do:

1 - Add ingredients of daily harvest to a pan. Cook for 4-6 minutes (adding 1-2 tbsp water if necessary).

2 - While that’s cooking, cook your protein in a separate pan.

3 - Once ready, add to a plate and enjoy!

 

Shrimp Tacos for 2 (or meal prepped for another day)

I always like incorporating different types of seafood when I can and I thought what better way than with this easy shrimp, avocado taco combination. The best part is, it makes 4 tacos so you can share with a friend or save extras for later. This was also my first time trying Siete Foods almond flour tortillas and I have to say they are a winner! If you’re looking for gluten-free, grain tortillas definitely give them a try. Full recipe below:

What you need:

(makes 4 tacos)

1 large avocado

4 almond flour tortillas

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into pieces

2 tbsp cilantro

6-8oz shrimp

2 tsp olive oil

Seasoning mix of choice

 

What to do:

1 - Add olive oil to a hot pan

2 - Add the shrimp and seasoning mix in. Cook for about 4-5 minutes (until shrimp is totally pink and opaque).

3 - Remove tails and set aside.

4 - Mash the avocado with a fork and evenly distribute between tortillas

5 - Add the shrimp, onion & tomatoes

6 - Top with cilantro and enjoy!

 

Wraps 6 Ways

Wraps make a great lunch and can be a great way to pack in nutrients from whole foods while enjoying a tasty and filling meal. Plus, they can be customized to fit your preferences! One important thing to note when choosing your tortilla is that many traditional tortillas have little-to-no nutrients intact due to the way the grain is processed and bleached. A better choice would be something like the Ezekiel sprouted tortilla or almond flour tortilla like Siete’s or even whole wheat wrap that has more beneficial nutrients intact and is minimally processed.

What you need for the Southwest:⁠

Tortilla⁠

Seasoned steak⁠

Mashed avocado

¼ cup corn

¼ cup black beans

¼ cup shredded cheese

Handful of cherry tomatoes

What you need for the Veggie Wrap:⁠

Tortilla

2-3 slices Beefsteak tomato

Arugula

¼ cup red onion⁠

5-6 cucumber slices

¼ cup shredded carrot

¼ cup hummus

What you need for the Italian Wrap:⁠

Tortilla

¼ cup pesto

3-4 pieces prosciutto

Artichoke hearts

Roasted red pepper

Basil

4-5 mozzarella balls

What you need for the Classic:⁠

Tortilla

Organic turkey slices

Gouda

¼ cup avocado

¼ cup white onion⁠

2-3 slices beefsteak tomato

Butter lettuce⁠

Sauce like mustard⁠

What you need for the Thai Peanut:⁠

Tortilla

Seasoned chicken

¼ cup purple cabbage

¼ cup shredded carrot

¼ cup peanuts

Red bell pepper

Spinach⁠

Cilantro to taste

Sauce like coconut aminos⁠

What you need for the Breakfast Wrap:⁠

Tortilla

2 eggs

Cherry tomatoes

Spinach

Mushrooms⁠

¼ cup roasted sweet potato⁠

1 tbsp feta

What to do:

1- Prepare roasted sweet potato if making the breakfast wrap and saute the spinach, mushrooms & tomatoes if making the breakfast wrap.

2- If using hummus, pesto or mashed avocado, spread it on the tortilla.

3- Add the other ingredients to your heart’s desire.

4- Dig in!

 

As always I hope these are helpful! Let me know which combo is your favorite in the comments!

Xx,

Amanda