Weight Loss: 7 Tips For Eating Out and Staying On Plan

Weight Loss: 7 Tips For Eating Out and Staying On Plan

iStock_000011394253XSmallEating out does not have to derail your weight loss efforts or nutrition plan!  Being prepared and having a strategic plan will allow you to eat out at almost any restaurant and still stay on track.

TIP 1 – Plan ahead: Most restaurants have their menus online and some even have the nutritional info posted (chains mostly). Go online, search for the nutrition information of the restaurant you want to go to, and plan out your choices. Popular restaurants that have all their nutrition facts posted online include Starbucks, Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain, Cosi, Hale and Hearty, Pizza Hut, Chipotle, The Keg, Milestones, Montana’s, Boston Pizza and more.

http://caloriecount.about.com/restaurants-mc1 – This website also has a pretty broad listing of restaurants and their menu item nutrition facts.

If you want the low-down on nutrition information for menu items, The Economist ran a great commentary on the issue as it pertains to New York when in first hit the fan in 2011:  http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/07/menu-labelling

Once you arrive:

TIP 2- Hydrate First!  Make sure you have a full glass of water (or two) before you dive in (yes even the bread basket!).  Another strategy is to order a warm drink first thing such as hot water with some fresh lemon slices. You’ll be surprised how this warm calming drink can fill you up and soothe the craving/hunger beast. Herbal tea is also a great option while coffee tends to throw off blood sugar levels and may lead to cravings and bad decisions later on.

TIP 3 – Be an assertive orderer: Don’t be afraid to modify the menu. Trust me, in this age of “nutritionism”, waiters are used to it. Ask questions and know the terminology. Grilled, steamed, broiled, boiled and baked are fine but beware of terms such as creamy, smothered, lightly breaded, deep fried.   Ask for sauces on the side and leave out the fries/rice/pasta/potatoes that usually come with the main and ask for extra veggies instead (most restaurants are happy to do this).

TIP 4 – Start with soup or salad: both can be filling and satisfying. Order the dressing on the side and dip your fork lightly in the dressing before every forkful. Stay with non-creamy soups. Ask the server if dairy is added that will let you know if they add cream or cheese or even butter (you can even tell your server that you are lactose intolerant to make sure they don’t add cream, butter or cheese)

TIP 5 – Appetizers as the main course: Try ordering from the appetizer menu if you don’t find anything you want on the main menu such as grilled calamari, caprese salad, or shrimp cocktail. Saves calories with smaller portions and is less expensive.

TIP 6 – Liquor Control: Alcohol can stimulate hunger so never drink on an empty stomach (really throws off blood sugar) and try to follow the 1:1 rule; follow a glass of wine with a full glass of water. Even try to cut the wine with ½ club soda or Perrier in a wine Spritzer or mix vodka with soda water.

TIP 7 – Portion Control/Leftovers for the next day: Most restaurants provide huge portions-take a look at the size of the plate or bowl! Eyeball your serving size (palm of your hand) and divide your portion accordingly. Make a mental note to have the rest packed-up for home, or, better yet, ask the waiter for a to-go container and box it up right away. Bonus: Less for you to cook the next day.

The smart phone world is still trying to stay on top of restaurant nutrition. There are a few good apps out there, but they need constant updating. Here are a few free ones that are worth trying, just to get a sense of what your waistline is up against:



Recipe of the Month: Not Just Any Pancake

Recipe of the Month: Not Just Any Pancake

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hedvigs/

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hedvigs/


If you’ve worked with me personally or have been following me for any length of time, you know that I believe that no one should go through life without cookies, cake and brownies.  Of course, I’m not saying head on over to your nearest drive-thru and binge ~ you’ve also heard me talk about successful, long-term results requiring balance! 😉 And even though it’s ok to have sweet treats, they are the exception not the rule.  


That being said…I wanted to share one of the recipes I use that is very easy to make and is great balance between carbs and protein.  Sometimes when I give out this recipe, I get the funniest reaction from clients…one of those faces that is a mix between confusion and the anticipation of something distasteful…but once they try this they all have loved it!  I often have this for breakfast and when I do, I find that it reduces my sweet cravings during the day, especially when I follow up with well balanced meals and snacks later on.  So without further delay, here’s the recipe I’ve been wanting you to see:


Power Pancake
Cooking utensils needed:  blender & small skillet


Ingredients: FAT(g) CHO(g) PRO(g) CALS
4 med Egg whites 0.4 0.8 14.4 64.4
 1/3 cup Old fashioned oats 2    17.82 3.30 102.3
 1/2 med Organic Banana 0.99 8.91 1.65 51.15
1 tsp Cinnamon 0 2.1 0.1 8.8
Totals 3.4 29.6 19.5 226.7
Total Per Serving (1) 3.4 29.6 19.5 226.7
                     -Agave syrup (light)
                     -Butter (small amount)


Use a small amount of the coconut oil or Pam to grease the a small skillet.  Add all ingredients to blender and mix on high until ingredients are blended together and smooth(ish). With skillet over medium heat, pour mixture into skillet and cook one side until brown, flip like a pancake and repeat. Remove from heat and serve, putting a small amount of butter and agave syrup on if you choose.  


Reminder – while this recipe is really well balanced, too much agave and butter will add both carbs and fat the the overall count of the pancake.  Remember to keep it in balance with your ideal cals for that meal and the amount of each macro you’ve already eaten that day.  Not only is this a great recipe a great choice for breakfast, it is also a perfect post-workout meal.  The balance between macro’s is great for replenish depleted glycogen stores and delivers enough protein to facilitate protein synthesis after a strength training session.
Understanding Your Metabolism – Part 1

Understanding Your Metabolism – Part 1

Mixed messages and information about metabolic rate and the calories and workouts it takes to burn fat make losing weight a daunting task.  In this post I briefly show the difference between weight loss and fat loss and then hope to get you started determining your own caloric needs by defining BMR and calculate your daily energy expenditure.  These pieces of data will help you find a good starting point for weight loss or body composition goals.


Body Weight vs Body Fat %

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 1.19.57 PM

The photo on the right is the cross section of three different thighs, all the same size.  The thigh in the middle is made up mostly of adipose tissue (fat) while the photos on top and bottom are made up mostly lean mass.  All these cross sections are of legs that look the same size and while the photos on top and bottom have more lean mass, they will weigh more on the scale.  The man with the very high percent body fat in the middle will weigh less on the scale.   Even though the scale indicates they are “smaller”, the individuals on top and bottom is the same size, is stronger, and has legs that are functionally sound.


The Basics of Losing Weight

When I work with clients who want to lose weight or lose body fat, I always start with BMR.  BMR stands for basal metabolic rate and is the amount of energy you need to maintain basic body function while resting.  An accurate measure of BMR is conducted under very restrictive conditions.  The subject must be completely rested (sympathetic nervous system is inactive) but awake, in a temperate environment, with the digestive system completely inactive. It is under these conditions that your energy will be used only to maintain your vital organs, which include the heart, lungs, kidneys, the nervous system, intestines, liver, lungs, sex organs, muscles, and skin.

Basal metabolism is usually the largest component of a person’s total caloric needs. The daily calorie needs is the BMR value multiplied by a factor with a value between 1.2 and 1.9, depending on the activity level.

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*BMR derived from the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation

BMR only represent resting energy expenditure, to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity level using the Harris-Benedict formula, as follows:

Activity Level Activity Factor
Light or no exercise and desk job
BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active
Light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week
BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active
Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week
BMR x 1.55
Very Active
Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week
BMR x 1.725
Extremely Active
Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job plus training 2 x week
BMR x 1.9

This number shows approximately how many calories you should consume to maintain weight. If your goal is to lose weight, remember that basal metabolic rate varies between individuals. Studies have shown differences in BMR when comparing subjects with the same lean mass to be a whopping 28-32% higher than others.  What this means is that calculating your BMR is a starting point for weight loss but some variables are not accounted for in the equation.  

Estimating daily calorie requirements is challenging. While even the best calculators cannot determine an accurate metabolic rate for every individual, calculators based on research can be a very helpful starting point.  These calculators and equations give you a science-based platform to start with.  From there you must use trial, error and careful self-monitoring to achieve your goals.

10 Strategies to Stop Cravings

10 Strategies to Stop Cravings

Do you ever wonder why you can’t stay away from junk food and what is it that makes it so irresistible?  Do you notice that the more you eat junk food the more lethargic and unmotivated you feel?

Even though most of us know what the ramifications of junk food overload are, we still eat the stuff…WHY?  What is the allure with these foods and HOW do you get it under control?  Junk foods are addictive and food companies formulate them to be appealing to you on a physiological level.  So, when cravings hit, you have to take notice and have a predetermined plan for making healthy choices instead.

Easier said than done, right?

gum drops

Here are 10 Strategies to help get you there.

Ten Strategies To Stop Cravings

    1. Stay hydrated – hunger is often mistaken for thirst so DRINK UP (I mean water people).
    2. Get plenty of sleep – lack of sleep especially over long periods of time can cause hormones to trigger our appetites and reduce energy levels.  This often leads to unnecessary snacking and junk food cravings.
    3. Alternative methods for stress management – stress is something we all experience but some handle it differently than others.  If you are struggling with your weight, take a look at how you manage stress..do you eat to curb difficult feelings?  If so, finding alternative ways to manage emotions could help you lose weight and control cravings
    4. Recognize the pattern – try to pay attention when food binges happen.  What triggered the binge (e.g. stress, emotional, lack of sleep)?  Why couldn’t you stop (e.g. no stress management, hadn’t eaten all day)?
    5. Plan ahead – don’t wait until you are starving to figure out what to eat.  Don’t leave the house without a basic plan for your meals and snacks.
    6. Eat enough during the day – waiting until the end of the day to eat a large meal leads to overeating…eat normally during the day and lighter in the evening
    7. Small changes over long period of time – if you do have issues with binge eating/snacking, don’t expect yourself to change instantly.  Make a plan for gradual changes and take baby steps.  Over time these baby steps will lead to a giant leap!
    8. Treat yourself like you have an addiction – so many of my clients come down on themselves when they overeat junk food.  It’s more effective to understand the circumstance that caused the binge than to reprimand yourself after it happens.
    9. Be kind to yourself – if you have a binge, be kind to yourself and get back on track.  Don’t waste time with words of self defeat or the idea of giving up your goal.  Just get back on track and treat yourself the same way you would treat a lifelong friend.
    10. Educate yourself on how these foods can negatively impact your health – once you find out that these foods are addictive, it helps take the self-defeat and self-blame out of the picture.  Instead of emotionally attacking yourself, the facts about food addiction allow you to be rational about why you binge and make new, rational choices about how to change.

If you struggle with cravings and need help losing weight and becoming healthier, send me a note and fill me on on your struggles are and your health and fitness goals..maybe we can work together virtually or in person!


Client Snapshot: Ranna K.

Client Snapshot: Ranna K.

Push-ups during her "fit test"

Push-ups during her “fit test”

Meet my client Ranna! We started working together about 6 weeks ago and I wanted to share the great progress she has made with you. To her dismay I snapped some pictures of Ranna during her “fitness test” today.  She has shown awesome improvement in a relatively short time so I thought I would give you a little snapshot of how we worked together to make that possible. Ranna is a 30 year old mother of 5 who had her 5th child about 6 months ago. She decided she was done holding on to extra baby weight and hired a trainer (moi) 🙂 .

Ranna slamming the stop button down after crushing her timed mile by 58 seconds!!!!!!

Ranna slamming the stop button after her timed mile!

Ranna getting the treadmill set for her timed mile!

Ranna getting the treadmill set for her timed mile!

Ranna’s goals:
1.  Lose the baby weight
2.  Be lean and strong
3.  Use proper form and technique when working out

My goals:
1.  Help Ranna reach her potential by teaching habits that provide long term results
2.  Create a sustainable plan that leads her towards her goals
3.  Increase lean mass, monitor food quality & cals, improve performance

We started out with food logging, a basic fitness performance assessment, and measured her weight once every two weeks.  She friended Jes Reynolds Fitness on the www.myfitnesspal.com website so I could monitor her food and we set some performance goals for her so she didn’t focus too much on the scale.  Ranna is a committed and determined person who already had really healthy eating habits.  She was not resistant to change, even when I asked her to eat more calories because I felt she was restricting too much for long term results.

In 6 weeks Ranna lost 8 lbs and has knocked 58 seconds off of her timed mile!  I’m so proud of her and can’t wait to see what she achieves in the next six weeks!  Great Job Ranna!!!!!

5 Reasons Eating Salads Could Be Making You Fat

5 Reasons Eating Salads Could Be Making You Fat

iStock_000011394253XSmallHaving a salad is often a persons attempt at having a healthy meal.  I mean…the majority of ingredients are usually vegetables (unless you are eating a “salad fat” approach to dieting) so it’s hard not to assume it’s healthy.  I think having a salad is a great start to making healthy choices but you should know that salads are not always as healthy as their persona implies.  Below you will find five reasons why salads could be making you “salad fat”.

  1. Dressing
  2. Cheese
  3. Bacon bits, chopped up whole yolk eggs,
  4. Croutons and other crunchy things
  5. Iceberg lettuce

Need I say more?

You might be thinking…ok I get the dressing part, I get the cheese part, I get the bacon & egg part…but HOLD UP…I do not understand how croutons and iceberg lettuce translate into me being “salad fat”!  Looking at the nutritional value of iceberg lettuce and croutons and combining it with simple human psychology can give you a hint.  First, neither croutons or iceberg lettuce have much to offer in terms of nutritious value or fiber content so they don’t satiate you and they do very little to fuel your cells.  Second, and this is where the psychology comes in…if you assume what you’ve eaten earlier in the day was healthy you are more likely to “cheat” a little with meals later in the day.  Not to mention that since you are still hungry because of the low nutrient and fiber content in your iceberg lettuce salad, guess what types of food choices you are more likely to make later in the day?  You guessed it!  You are more likely to overeat and make unhealthy choices if you’ve had a “healthy salad” that barely supplied your stomach or your nutrient starved cells with what they need to feel satisfied.


Don’t believe me?  Check out this Caesar salad breakdown…

1. Iceberg lettuce

  • Upside: low cal
  • Downside: low nutrient value, low fiber content, not filling, no taste

2. Parmesan cheese

  • Upside: tasty
  • Downside: saturated fat & salt content

3. Croutons

  • Upside: crunchy
  • Downside: very little nutritional value as a carbohydrate, often disregarded as calories even when entire salad is covered with them

4. Anchovies (for those who eat them)

  • Upside: great source of omega-3, some protein
  • Downside: very salty and only semi-appetizing

5. Dressing

  • Upside: healthwise- none, but it does add taste to iceberg
  • Downside: high in saturated fat & usually made with trans fats which are very bad for you

As you can see, what seems like a healthy option – caesar salad, can be sort of a trick. With its low % of protein, low quality carbohydrates, and high salt and saturated fat content what seems like a delicious salad is more like a saturated fat delivery system!  This can also be true of other types of salads when generous amounts of cheese, dressing & things like bacon bits are used on them.

If iceberg lettuce and croutons are all that is available, try to improve the overall profile of the salad (caesar or any other) by adding a chicken breast, using 1/2 the dressing, using vinegar and oil or balsamic as a substitute for cream based dressing, and avoiding croutons. This doesn’t make it a perfect meal but it improves the overall profile tremendously.