All Diets Work . . . But Not Always (Just Hear Me Out)

Finding the perfect fitness program isn't easy, but it's possible. Find out how to pick the perfect nutrition and exercise plan to meet your specific needs.

I know what you’re thinking, all diets work?  What magic potion are you drinking?  Here me out on this!

I think I was about twelve years old when I went on my first diet.  I’d like to say that it worked forever and I adopted a new healthy lifestyle during my raging hormonal tween years, but lets be real, did anyone?  The reality is I’ve had an on-again off-again relationship with dieting and fitness for the vast majority of my life, and I loved that every program I signed up for.  Literally, every time I cut carbs or counted calories I lost weight and felt a renewed sense of life and purpose.  The problem was this: every time I cut out carbs or counted calories I eventually uncut carbs or became too busy to track calories.  Inevitably, I would begin to gain weight and thereby lose my newfound confidence.

Finding the perfect fitness program isn't easy, but it's possible. Find out how to pick the perfect nutrition and exercise plan to meet your specific needs. All diets work, but not always.

My theory is this: any time you begin a new health program or fitness routine, you begin paying attention to what you eat and how much you move.  You no longer mindlessly eat whatever comes your way or whatever you have time to grab between appointments.  You plan, you prep, you pave the way towards your own success.  Finally, you take the time to create a meal plan, grocery shop, avoid the chip and cookie aisles, and you are diligent in your plans.

You have become intentional.

There it is!  You are intentional; with your nutrition, with your physicality, and therefore with your life.  The hiccup with most people {myself included} is we gradually become less intentional as time wears on.  Eventually, we lose focus, and we give ourselves allowances.  We run out of time to meal prep, and we convince ourselves that “just this week” we’ll figure out how to grab-and-go in a healthy way.

So, we grab an apple on our way to work, but when lunch rolls around we hear our coworkers are going out to eat.  So maybe “just this once” we’ll join them.  Perusing through the “light” menu, we order a salad or fish {so proud} until we realize someone is celebrating a birthday or a promotion.  We  can’t not order appetizers or desserts (or both!) for the table. We’ll indulge in “just” a few bites . . . then “just” a few more.  After work, we’ll run through the drive-thru “just this once” for a chicken wrap {hey, it’s small!}.  I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.  We play the “just” game until we’ve gained back every pound we lost plus a couple more.  How do we possibly break this cycle?

Finding the perfect fitness program isn't easy, but it's possible. Find out how to pick the perfect nutrition and exercise plan to meet your specific needs. All diets work, but not always.
Photo credit: Gretchen Rubin “Better than Before”

Break the Cycle

If you know me, then you know I am a HUGE Gretchen Rubin fan.  I love how her books and podcasts emphasize the importance of knowing ourselves in order to find true happiness and contentment with our lives.  Through learning more about myself, I discovered that I’m an obliger, a person who responds best with outside accountability.  I’m an abstainer, I can’t just have one potato chip without it leading to an empty bag thirty minutes later.  I’m a lark, I perform best when I’m well rested and wake up early.

Upon learning these things, I discovered that I needed to find a program that gave the obliger in me some outside accountability and allowed me to be strict with my goals without being pressured by the 80-20 rule.  In the very least, I needed a program that offered these options.  And I found it.  I found the solution for me in a bag of nutrient dense powder and six little color-coded containers that come with an incredible support system of like minded friends willing to hold me accountable to the goals I’ve set for myself.

Finding the perfect fitness program isn't easy, but it's possible. Find out how to pick the perfect nutrition and exercise plan to meet your specific needs. All diets work, but not always.

It might not be the program for you (sacrilege, I know!)

I can guarantee you this: there is something that works for you!  I’m confident in this.  I wouldn’t lie to you.  ALL DIETS WORK!  I wasn’t kidding about that.  The first step you need to take (and I’m serious about this) is to learn more about yourself.  What makes you tick?  What triggers your emotional eating?  How are you best held accountable?  What are your favorite types of fitness programs?  How can you create a system to eat more healthfully?

Please take a few minutes and follow the links to Gretchen Rubin’s quizzes and articles above in order to help you get to know yourself better, and comment below with your tendency and how it helps you create a system of success for yourself!  I absolutely LOVE hearing how others are finding ways to implement these systems in their daily lives. I can’t wait to see yours!

Fuel your body. Feed your mind.  Free your soul.

Vegan Cashew “Cheese” Spread

Looking for a vegan or vegetarian cheese option? Check out this great recipe for Cashew Cheese.

As a way to ring in 2016, I asked my followers on Social Media to pick one food item for me to take out of my diet for the month of January.  I received so many great options like cheese, sugar, meat, and Richard (literally, two different people wrote Richard . . . not really sure what to do with that information, but I’ll roll with it).  I put all of their suggestions into a drawing for one lucky winner (or loser, depending how you look at it): DAIRY!

Looking for a vegan or vegetarian cheese option? Check out this great recipe for Cashew Cheese.

 

I knew this was going to be a tough cookie, because, well, dairy encapsulates so many of my favorites: cheese, chocolate, cheese, ice cream, cheese, and did I mention cheese?  This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I really like cheese.  Nay, I really love cheese.  There was a moment in my life when I had to be physically removed from my station on a sandwich making team, because being in charge of the cheese meant that I ate every other piece that slice that came my way.  Here you go sandwich, one for you, one for me, one for you, one for me . . .  I’m not even exaggerating, I have witnesses.  All of that to say, I was a little bit nervy about giving up dairy (aka cheese) for an entire month.  I said I was going to do it, though, so by golly I’m going to do it!

I’ve heard about this alleged “Cashew Cheese” from some of my vegan friends, and I’ve seen it listed as ingredients at some of my favorite restaurants, so I figured I’d try to look through a few recipes to see if I could come up with my own version of this Cheese-postor (that’s cheese-impostor, in case it doesn’t come across so soundly in written form).  So, here’s what I did, and you can too!

Looking for a vegan or vegetarian cheese option? Check out this great recipe for Cashew Cheese.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup cashews (soaked for at least one hour & drained)
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Cracked Pepper

Here’s what you do:

  • Throw everything in a blender
  • Blend (supes complicated, right?)

Looking for a vegan or vegetarian cheese option? Check out this great recipe for Cashew Cheese.

 

Just in case you want my two cents, here you go:  it.is.exquisite! Seriously, I loved every single tasty bite I got, and the family and friends who got to it before I licked the bowl also report thoroughly enjoying this scrumptious treat.  However, and this is a big however, I’m not sure why someone would call this “cheese” exactly.  Please don’t misunderstand, it is SUPER DELICIOUS, just not in a cheesy kinda way.  I can see how it might be used in lieu of a cheese spread or dip, but my feta favoring palette can’t seem to get on board with calling this cheese just yet.

Am I being too harsh?  Are my cheese standards just a little too high?  You tell me!  Comment below with your thoughts on this Vegan “Cheese” Spread.  Are there other recipes or variations I should try?

Reaching Goals & Gaining Self Control

Setting and achieving goals can be a tough nut to crack, but here is a new concept to help you gain some self control and reach your goals.

Setting and achieving goals can be a tough nut to crack, but here is a new concept to help you gain self control and reach your goals.

I was experiencing a pretty frustrating morning when I decided it was time to get out of the house, slap on my headphones, and go for a hike.  Gaining self control is a constant issue in my world, so I checked in on my podcast library to see what I could find to pull me out of my miry mood.  If podcasts could be spirit animals, I found mine in this episode of Freakonomics Radio where Katherine Milkman shared her findings on a concept she has coined “Temptation Bundling.”  (NOTE: she also discusses the “Fresh Start Effect” in this episode, but for the purpose of focus, I’m saving that one for a future post).

Setting and achieving goals can be a tough nut to crack, but here is a new concept to help you gain self control and reach your goals.

Milkman’s idea of “Temptation Bundling” has you pair something that you like to do with something that you should do.  Generally speaking, as humans, we are naturally inclined to create time for what we enjoy and avoid that which we do not, which is why so many people have a tough time setting and achieving goals.  So, the light bulb went off, and her research followed.   Admittedly, this theory stemmed from her own personal challenges sticking to diets and her struggles with self control at the end of long work days.  Her motivation was to research possible solutions for herself as well as to help others reach their goals.

While listening, I realized that I had unknowingly implemented her notion of “Temptation Bundling” several years ago.  At the time, I was unhappy with my health, and couldn’t figure out how to motivate myself to hop on the treadmill that was collecting dust in my bedroom.  I made excuse after excuse: I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m too lazy (ok, so that one was probably true, but not a decent reason).  It occurred to me one day that I was clearly not “too busy” to workout if I had enough time to binge on Netflix every night and most weekends.  So, I made a decision that I was “not allowed” to watch any television unless I was on my treadmill.  I didn’t have to run or get too crazy, but I had to be moving.  Guess what?  IT WORKED!  I was on that treadmill every.single.day. which might say more about my addiction to Netflix than it does about my commitment to getting healthy, but it doesn’t matter!  I was on the right road to a healthier and happier me.  Turns out, I also had this trick in my back pocket to get my laundry done.  I made a rule that I was only allowed to watch Jeopardy (yes, I’m a nerd and I love Alex Trebek’s quippy ways) while folding clothes.  SPOILER ALERT: IT WORKED AGAIN!   Ultimately, I had paired something I liked to do: watch television, with something I should do: workout & fold clothes.  

Setting and achieving goals can be a tough nut to crack, but here is a new concept to help you gain self control and reach your goals.

Here are a few more examples of “Temptation Bundling” that might be up your alley:

  • Indulge in a cheat meal & do 50 sit-ups
  • Only listen to your favorite album & balance your checkbook
  • Skip your workout?  Skip the brewsky!
  • Avoiding someone you should spend time with?  Take them to your favorite restaurant (reserve this restaurant solely & completely for difficult people)
  • Clean out your inbox while watching your favorite movie
  • Declutter while listening to your favorite podcast
  • Only play Candy Crush when you’re on the stationary bike (please only on a stationary one . . . yikes!)

 

If you need help getting your “Temptation Bundle” together, don’t sweat it!  

I’ve got a worksheet to help you figure it out:

Setting and achieving goals can be a tough nut to crack, but here is a new concept to help you gain some self control and reach your goals.

What did you come up with?  I’d LOVE to see all of your bundles in the comments below!

If you want to read some other great posts from some of my bloggy friends, we’ve got a Bloggy Brunch goin’ on!