How to Travel with Your Meal Plan

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My Fall in Love with Fitness Accountability group is in full swing this week! These ladies are battling for time to take care of kids and ill family members, fighting sickness, waking up earlier to workout, preparing their meals in advance, avoiding their favorite candy and sodas, AND trying to stay healthy while traveling.

Life has a way of throwing a lot of curve balls in our direction, just when we are trying to focus on a new goal or mission! I’m so proud of these ladies for working so hard to achieve their goals, no matter rain or shine. Some days, they’re on point, and some days they fall down. What’s most important is that they don’t give up.

Though all of these obstacles are hard, I find traveling one of most difficult because it completely breaks your routine away from home, and often, time and food are a little more out of your control and you’re left with very few good options.

When I was traveling as Miss Virginia roughly 20 hours a week and trying to prepare for Miss America, I tried to put a lot of systems in place to keep me on track. When your job or family or schedule demands a lot of you, it’s important to be fueled well to have the energy to accomplish everything you need to! The first thing I realized is that traveling alone is boring, and made me want to eat for the entire trip. I tried to plan ahead as much as possible to avoid making a drastic decision to pull over at the nearest Wendy’s and inhale a frosty. Having good distractions like motivating podcasts, MP3 talks, a funky music playlist, or a phone call to a friend, helped to keep my mind happy and focused.

Planning ahead at least helps you have your mind made up in advance so when you’re attending that fancy work event and they pass around the giant pieces of chocolate fudge cake… your mouth waters, but you feel comfortable declining because you know it— A. has no nutritional value B. it will only take you further away from your goals.

–>The first thing I did was commit to only drink water. It will help keep you alert and full. You may stop a few more times to use the restroom, but at least your skin will be glowing when you arrive! Keep your water bottle with you at all times, or sometimes I’d have several full bottles so I wouldn’t have to stop to buy one or refill it.

–>This might be an obvious one, but packing snacks! Lara Bars are easy to transport and they just dates and a different kind of nut (which 21 Day Fix peeps can count as a purple and a blue.) Quest Bars aren’t technically totally “clean eating”, but they’re one of the cleanest protein type bars on the market. These kept me super full in between meals on the road, and are very low sugar and high fiber. Little baggies of almonds, turkey jerky, or an apple are also options that don’t need to be kept chilled.

–>Because I never knew what kind of options for meals I’d have wherever I was staying, I packed a couple meals, like chicken, broccoli, and sweet potatoes in a huge lunch box if possible. Most hotels have microwaves… I once stopped at a truck stop to heat up my food on a long trip 🙂 This saves so much money in the long run too! When I won Miss VA, a friend mailed me one of the best gifts: one of these huge 6 pack food prep carriers. It kept my boiled eggs, fruit, and full meals cool in the car in your specified containers. If you travel a lot, and you’re really serious about knowing exactly what you’re consuming, it may be a good investment!

–>If I needed to stop at a quick restaurant on my way somewhere, I’d keep my eyes peeled for a Chickfila. Usually, I would pick up grilled chicken nuggets, side fruit cup, and a yogurt, or chicken soup if I just was looking for a snack. Their chargrilled garden salad is also a good option for a healthy lunch! Panera is my second favorite option. The Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey is to die for, and the Fuji Chicken Salad is delicious as well. Dressing always on the side or ask for simple olive oil on top. Subway was third option because you can at least get a spinach salad and pick tons of veggies to load on top!

–>If you can’t control what you’re eating because someone else if providing the food, I try to just eat whatever meat or veggie they have (as long as it’s not fried) and eye ball the proper portion. As long as I don’t eat after around 8pm, I feel fine about eating what is provided. It’s important to be a respectful guest! Plus, a cheat or two won’t hurt you, so don’t stress! Take the opportunity to truly enjoy what is provided, but don’t feel obligated to eat every last bite. You’ll get back on track at the next opportunity. 🙂

–> It may also be helpful while you’re out of town to secretly TRACK! Try out MyFitnessPal, or the 21 Day Fit Tracker apps to be mindful of your target. It will also help you recognize if you went all day without any vegetables or fruit, or haven’t had enough protein. Maybe you imagine eating that giant pasta bowl is no big deal, until you look it up and realize it’s equal to your daily calorie allotment.

  • It of course depends on how serious you are about your goals and what you personally feel like you can withstand from temptations. If you know one cheat meal won’t send you on a downward spiral, go for it! I think that’s perfectly reasonable! You never want to end up feeling like your nutrition is super restricting. It should be empowering to feed your body with foods that actually make you feel good.
    When you travel, try to see it as yet another opportunity to search out the best for you, even it it means going the extra mile sometimes or asking the waiter to make some menu swaps for you. You deserve that.

Weighin’ in

In my adult life, my body has mostly fluctuated on a 20 pound spectrum.

I’ve been an unhealthy, trapped 125. I’ve been a muscular 130 and a junk food, food-dependent 135. I’ve been a tired and empty 115, and I’ve been a thriving (more) balanced and free 120.

And I honestly don’t know how much I currently weigh. That’s not because I don’t think it can be a valuable measurement when someone needs to get into a heathy range or has a particular role in helping you gain information to access where you are on your fitness journey. It’s because I know for me personally, it doesn’t dictate my health anymore; my mindset and habits do.

I may not have had an extreme weight loss success story, but it’s often what that weight loss represents that makes the biggest difference. It’s the way you feel and how you’re now capable of living your life and your dreams more fully. THAT is why people want to lose weight most of the time, and those same victories and changes are possible at a variety of weights.

Every person at every weight has challenges to overcome obstacles, shut out negativity, avoid temptations, develop mindful eating habits, find the appropriate amount to treat his or herself, make time to sweat, and make peace with their body.

When people comment that I work out way too much or am hyper-focused on what I eat, it’s pretty much the exact opposite! I am joyful that I’ve been given an opportunity to choose things that heal rather than hurt me, and don’t want to take my health for granted.
I have had an external transformation to become stronger, more consistent and more energetic; but even more so, I’ve had an internal transformation…
-stronger will & discipline
-VEGETABLE lover. what? how did that happen?!
-feel stronger and like I’m not settling in multiple areas of my life
-have learned how to cook healthy meals
-deeper sleep & less stress
-confident in my body, dwelling less on appearance
-not as controlled by my emotions with cravings
-free from my sugar addiction! this one is huge.
-gained productivity and clarity from exercise to apply to my job
It has taken years to get to this point! And I know I’m still a work in progress and will have even more valleys on this road. The goal is to never stop giving up on learning, growing, and trying because your body deserves to be treated like the gift that it is. Transformation is happening every time we choose well, whether the scale moves today or not.
Today, don’t forget to celebrate those NON-SCALE victories! Your worth is more than a number. The internal transformation is always what guides the external.
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What to do, When What You’re Doing Isn’t Working

This past week several friends have come to me asking, “WHY?!?! I’m eating less, working out more and still not losing any weight.” While this “eat less, move more” philosophy definitely can help with overall health or beginning weight loss, it may not be that simple for everyone. Each body is different! There can be a number of things to keep in mind when you feel like no changes are happening.

What to do? Remember:

  • Stick it out! Don’t lose heart! Changes take TIME. Make a decision to be committed and be relentless toward your goals. It WILL happen, just keep at it. Your body fluctuates several pounds on a daily basis just because of water intake, sodium bloat, constipation, and inflammation, that it’s impossible to get a good measurement if you’re weighing yourself too frequently.
  • Realize the other victories that are happening in your body. The scale may not always reflect it, but the time you spend exercising or being more disciplined with your nutrition is appreciated by your organs and muscles. You may be gaining muscle, more energy, better sleep, or more confidence. No steps taken toward improving your health are wasted.
  • You may not be accurately counting your calories (if you’re paying attention to them at all). Be honest, are you really eating as clean as possible? Are you still treating yourself to extra treats in your coffee? Are you eating after 8pm and not giving your body a chance to digest?? Maybe you’re over doing it even on healthy foods? You don’t need an entire avocado just because it’s a healthy fat for you or several protein shakes a day with tons of peanut butter in it. Some things our brain says we can have plenty of because it’s “healthy” is actually very caloric, and better served in smaller portions.
  • You may need to switch up your workout to high intensity, sprints, interval training, or circuit training with weights. Your body gets used to the same old 30 minute cardio session, adapts and becomes more efficient at using the fuel. You need muscle confusion to challenge yourself enough that your body will react to it and change. Lifting weights increases your metabolism and gives you more effective, long term weight loss. Cardio alone isn’t enough. Try switching it up with a fitness class, a home DVD workout, one of my challenge groups, or find a personal trainer!
  • Check in on your stress levels. Take a look at your lifestyle habits and see if you’re getting enough sleep or paying enough attention to your emotional/spiritual needs. Chronic stress releases a hormone called Cortisol that increases fat storage and the rate at which you store fat. It can also increase your appetite and raise your blood sugar. Excess exercise then may be contributing to the stress in your body, not helping. You may need to take it easy for a time if you’re over exercising, until your body is able to get enough rest and recover. Drink plenty of water to make sure you’re not dehydrating your body either!
  • Your body may already be below it’s set point. We are naturally designed to hold on to our fat, as our ancestors didn’t know the next meal they’d get. Take time to learn if you realistically are at a healthy weight and it is unsafe to lose any more. I know society can push push push on this topic, so just be sure you actually NEED to lose weight. If not, find a new goal: maybe exercise consistency, a measurable endurance or strength goal, or something fun and active to focus on. You may be able to measure your progress by goals, or how your clothes fit, rather than the number going up and down on the scale.


How to Survive the Weekend

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I think it’s safe to say that many people have a love/hate relationship with the weekend. There’s something fun and alluring about the “freedom” that comes with those days “off”. But then Monday comes around and many people who are trying to be healthier feel like they completely fallen off the wagon and are on another downward spiral. 

 Weekend calories are around 300 calories higher than what we typically eat on Monday through Thursday. Not surprising! I know I’ve been there!

 Here are some suggestions to stay focused and not undo all the hard work you’re putting in!

  1. Workout first thing in the morning on Saturday, and go harder than you usually do. For many people, this is uninterrupted time to get in an extra long workout that you may not be able to swing during the weekday. You’ll feel better for getting it out of the way.
  2. Limit your “brunching” aka binge eating to ONE day. Either Saturday or Sunday– not both. When you eat with friends you eat 50% MORE calories than you do alone. YIKES!! Try to mostly eat like it’s a weekday so when you do splurge a little, you won’t go off track too much.
  3. Plan activities that don’t involve eating out at a restaurant. Schedule to meet a friend at the mall to walk around, a park for a run, or even a concert; the goal is that the MAIN activity is not surrounding food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day.
  4. Limit your drinks 🙂 This is where people start to hate me. At least try to alternate every drink with a glass or TWO of water and then chuck an entire water bottle before the night ends. The last thing you want to do is wake up dehydrated, lethargic, and miss your window to workout. Hydrate! (alcohol messes with your sleep too!)
  5. If you are out to dinner, immediately look on the menu for a lean meat: grilled chicken or steamed fish, then swap the side for your veggie of choice! Even if your meat is prepared with a lot of extra stuff, at least you’re filling up with plenty of veggies instead of fries or bread.
  6. Use Sunday to be productive and MEAL PLAN for the week. Doing your meal prep Sunday will remind you of the healthy life you desire and will take some of the work out of staying healthy during the week. Cook a big batch of brown rice, chicken, different veggies to mix and match for lunches.
  7. Focus on the people. The Conversation. The experience. Less eating, more talking! Be interested in the people you’re with than the food being served. (unless of course the conversation gets super awkward and all there is to do is stuff your face… haha)
  8. Check in with your Challenge Group, support system, or accountability partner and plan for a weigh-in Monday. Knowing you’ll have to touch in with someone about how active you were over the weekend might encourage you to keep your eyes on the prize!
  9. Have fun but don’t skimp on the sleep!! Get to bed early on Sunday to start your week fresh and be ready to conquer. You’re more likely to over eat or give in to temptation when you’re tired. Aim to stay within your sleep routine by an hour or so.
  10. Wear your workout clothes around the house and out for errands. Maybe it’s just me, but wearing my sneakers out grocery shopping makes me feel like power-walking around and jogging from the car into the store. When I get back home, I’m already ready to head straight to the gym and have fewer excuses!

Hopefully, over time, prioritizing your health will become a lifestyle, not a switch that turns off and on with the name of the day! But hey, you deserve a treat every now and then 🙂 

 Have a wonderful weekend! Keep pressing forward!



40 Days to Give & Grow

Many participate in 40 days of prayer and fasting leading up to Easter. Fasting doesn’t always have to be from meals, but can be fasting from distractions that keep us from focusing on our priorities; fasting from the luxuries we have that we don’t NEED; or denying ourselves things we covet to be reminded of our need to rely on God in all things.

Experiencing a small sacrifice helps us to become less selfish and more focused on our souls, rather than just our bodies.

Here are some ideas if you’re looking for something to give up or something to add!

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1. Soda (one of the worst things for your body!)

2. Creamer/Sugar in Coffee… or worse: giving up Starbucks altogether

3. Candy (and all the baked goods that get brought into your office kitchen!)

4. Alcohol

5. Hitting Snooze

6. Negative Talk/Gossip

7. Overcommitment/Busyness

8. TV/Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu

9. Snacking past 7pm

10. Giving up control; not trying to be perfect and the manager of the Universe.


1. 30 minutes of exercise each day

2. Daily Journaling: log about your Food, Fitness, Faith, Family, & Friends

3. A random act of charity each day

4. Listening to a leadership/business/faith podcast on your commute

5. Reading an enriching book 20 minutes before bed

6. Starting your morning with prayer

7. Trying a new fitness class each week

8. Drinking more water and green tea

9. Getting involved in a volunteer program

10. Buying someone in a need a meal each week

So I signed my Husband Up…

One of my favorite parts about being married is having a partner in life to push you to become your best and support you in your goals. My husband has, of course, been very supportive of my health and fitness endeavors, including me being away some nights to personal train and selling Shakeology.

We both have struggled this past year to get into a fitness routine with our sedentary jobs and busy lifestyle. When we decided to try Shakeology, we both immediately loved how easy it was to get our nutrition in first thing in the morning while he calmly reads to start his day, and I rush around 🙂 The shakes gave me more drive and energy to get up in the mornings and do my cardio/weights at our apartment gym or my Pi-Yo DVD on my yoga mat. I committed to no excuses in 2015 and have not looked back! He, however, wants a little kick in the butt when it comes to starting a new fitness regimen and not feeling bored with the same old lifting exercises or running.

Naturally, I recommended a Challenge Pack and for him to join my challenge group coming up. These Packs give you the most bang for your buck! It includes a DVD set of a workout, a meal plan nutrition guide, a 30 day supply of Shakeology, a subscription to the Beachbody online resources, and a support group to keep you on track.

I went back and forth on what program to recommend for him and settled on Focus T-25! Between Insanity, P90x, the 21 Day Fix, Body Combat, and others, why this one?

1. T-25 is 25 minutes a day, which with a demanding job is ideal for him getting in a good effective and balanced workout in a short amount of time. It’s 5 days a week with 2 days to rest. High intensity training like this one, has been proven to increase your metabolism, aerobic capacity, and strength.

2. The program is 70 days. It starts with an Alpha phase which is an introductory phase to get you back into working out again. Since he hasn’t been intensely working out for quite a while, I don’t want to scare him away 😉 After you accomplish Alpha, you move on to the more advanced phase, Beta, so the workouts will always be challenging and diverse.

3. He doesn’t need to lose weight, but simply wants to find a way to get his health back in tip top shape. It comes with resistance bands and works on cardio, intervals, abs, speed training… all things I think a former athlete like him would get into!

Can’t wait to see his results! and I look forward to having a workout buddy every morning! Check out all of the Challenge Pack Options here: MY SITE

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