Your "next step" is the same step...over and over again.

The journey to lose weight is frustrating. I'm not sure I've ever had a client who lost a bunch of weight, kept it all off, and said, "well that wasn't so hard!"

I won't lie to you...weight loss is simple in concept, but difficult in execution. Sorry. 

Now that I've just busted your bubble, let's take a hard look at how you actually succeed in losing weight.

How do you get to the top of a mountain?

Well, the concept is simple: Take one step at a time. 

 
Climb-Kilimanjaro-Ascending-to-Kibo.jpg
 

The execution? I doubt anyone has ever come back from Kilimanjaro declaring their journey to the top was easy...

What's interesting about this analogy is your steps to get to the top of the mountain don't change. It's the same step, over and over and over again: put one foot in front of the other. 

This is vitally important to understand (and possibly a bit confusing): Your "next step" will often be the same step, over and over again. 

Let me explain.

Whenever we think about moving towards a goal, we think in steps like this: Step A leads to Step B leads to Step C leads to Step D....leads to Step Z. I'm there!

Step A: Eat a little bit less.

Step B: Eat an extra serving of vegetables a day.

Step C: Walk an extra 2,000 steps a day.

***read note at the end of this blog post regarding A to Z curriculums to weight loss***

You get the idea. Build on a series of clear steps, develop new habits, and you'll reach your goal. I promise. 

Yet, these steps towards change will only go without a hitch inside of a bubble. Get rid of human emotions and change would be easy as pie!!

But, we're all human. So...change doesn't go that cleanly.  

Here's what actually happens: We'll decide to embark down a path or a program that leads us from Step A to Step Z. 

Then, this pattern we have tries to stop us from going down what appears to be a "simple path" to change. 

If we're able to step out of the pattern that "takes us out", well, change can happen!  

Often, stepping outside the pattern that "takes us out" is the same step, over and over and over again.

Let's call this action you have to take to step outside of your pattern "Step 1". 

In addition to following an A to Z curriculum, you'll also need to take your Step 1. Step 1 will not change. And you'll take this Step 1 over and over and over again.

It will be frustrating. You'll get "taken out". When you get "taken out" you'll think, "WHY THE HELL DO I KEEP DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN?"

That's normal. It kind of sucks (OK, it really sucks). But, you'll eventually, get really good at taking your Step 1. 

"Andrew, you've lost me. What the hell is an example of this Step 1?"

Glad you asked. 

From all the people I've coached, I've found 3 main areas that ALL my clients have to practice over and over and over again to have success in our nutrition program (and in all areas of life). For each client, it's usually 1 of these 3 steps (AKA Step 1) that needs to be practiced over and over again for THEIR real deal transformation:

- reminding myself why I'm doing what I'm doing
- forgiving myself for "messing up" so I can start again from a clear space
- re-setting my awareness and presence: aka back to basics of the first two habits we practice: eat slowly and stop at 80% full

For some of you, it's continually reminding yourself of WHY you're working on building new nutrition habits. For others, it's practicing compassion with yourself and allowing yourself to start a new day without the guilt of yesterday. And for others still, it's simply the practice of being present with what you're up to day in and day out. 

Now, don't get me wrong, we can all benefit from all 3 of these practices. 

But, I have it, you have a CRUCIAL Step 1 that is vital for YOU to practice. 

See, our brains are wired to always be looking for what the "next" thing is for us to do to get results. The truth is, the "next step" is likely just getting really good at the same step that keeps you on track. 

I'd love to hear from you: what's your Step 1? Which of the three areas I listed above do you know you'll have to practice over and over and over again? 

The tricky part is around this process is we're often blinded by our "Step 1". This is where a coach can be so powerful. A coach is there to help you take this step, over and over again.

Cause when you're in the frustration, it's basically impossible to reminder yourself of the reason you started in the first place. Or that forgiving yourself might be in order. Or that slowing down is your key to getting back on track. We need others to reflect this stuff back to us.  

That's what I do with my clients. I provide them an A to Z process to weight loss, while partnering with them to work through their Step 1, over and over again, so they can stay on track with the process we outlined .

I'd love to talk with YOU about working together and taking you down the path of change. Just fill out a form below and I'll be in touch. 

Here's to transformation.

I wanna lose weight and I want to learn more about coaching with you, please :) 

Ok, cool. Let's do that. Fill out the form below and I'll give you a buzz. 

 
 

 

***Note: I actually think what I wrote above is even a too simplistic example of an A to Z curriculum for weight loss. There's more to a proper curriculum than just food and exercise recommendations. A proper curriculum addresses the emotional component to weight loss too, which my year long coaching program does. But, that is outside the scope of this article and to successfully make it through an A to Z curriculum, you'll need to do what I'm outlining here anyway. I will be addressing the important comments of an A to Z curriculum that nearly all weight loss programs are missing in my next blog post. 

Have you been going about goal setting all wrong?

Have you been going about goal setting all wrong?

If you ever get frustrated or discouraged by the weight loss goals you set…this article is for you. 

I mean it SUCKS when you are doing all the right things and the scale doesn't move. Or worse, it goes up. 

So, if you're setting goals and find yourself getting frustrated or discouraged by the results of the scale, try this instead…

6 Common Nutritional Obstacles, with Solutions

The past 12 months, I have been focusing on my nutrition. I know, I know. You're likely thinking, "Who you? You're already healthy! You don't need to do that!"

The truth is, I'm just like everyone else. I have my own struggles and obstacles when it comes to my health. I promise, I'm not a robot. I have to work at it too. 

Last July, I sat down and wrote out what my nutritional obstacles are. Here's what I came up with:

  1. Meal planning. When I don't plan my meals, I make bad choices.
  2. Early mornings. I wake up early and I have to be at the gym early. I do not have the time I desire to make a high quality breakfast.
  3. Lunch. If I do not bring lunch to work, I make bad choices.
  4. Vegetable intake. The majority of my vegetable intake happens with dinner.  It's challenging to get my required vegetable intake when this is the case. 
  5. My sweet tooth. I have a big sweet tooth, especially at night.
  6. Weekend temptations. The weekends tend to offer plenty of opportunities for over doing alcohol and food. 

Once I identified my obstacles, I began creating solutions that would be simple to implement and allow me to over come my obstacles. 

Below are my 6 solutions for each of my obstacles. 

At the end of this article, you will have an opportunity to identify your own obstacles and begin a similar process. Feel free to skip to that point of the article if you prefer. 

Meal Planning

If I do not plan my meals, I make bad choices.  

My solution?

Each Sunday, Katie and I plan out a menu of meals we are going to cook at home. We do this before we go to the grocery store. This does a few things:

  1. It gets us both on the same page for the week. We can look to which nights one of us will have time to cook a more time consuming recipe, or, decide for which nights we need to plan quick and healthy options.
  2. We don't over shop or waste food and money. Everything we buy has an intention and gets used. 
  3. It gives us an opportunity to explore new recipes we want to try in the kitchen. I'll get bored eating at home without tasty meals and variety.

Speedy Breakfast

Most days, I wake up just after 5AM. I refuse to give up sleep. It's my choice to take 6AM clients, a choice I am not ready to give up quite yet. So, that leaves me about 15 minutes to cook and consume my breakfast. 

My solution? 

Keep it simple. My goal is to consume fruit, high quality carbohydrates, and protein in my breakfast. Here are a few of my favorite options:


Greek yogurt with granola and berries.

Oat meal mixed with peanut butter, cinnamon, and a side of fruit.

Granola with almond milk and a banana.

Hard boiled egg with an apple and peanut butter.

 

All of these choices take minimal time to make; we're talking 3 minutes tops.  They do require planning ahead to ensure I have the necessary food options available. 

On weekends, I will switch to steel cut oats, an omelet loaded with veggies, or from time to time, buckwheat pancakes with bacon and fruit. 

Convenient Lunch

If I do not bring my lunch, I make bad choices.

My solution? 

This one is easy. I always cook double portion dinners and use the extra portion for lunch the next day. I also find I need to have my lunch packed and ready the night before. That way, I can grab it in the morning and go. If I don't pack my lunch the night before, there's a strong possibility I will not take the extra food. 


Quick tip here: investing in high quality tupperware makes all the difference. 

Veggies

The majority of my vegetable intake happens in the evening.  

My solution? 

I pack up veggies to snack on throughout the day. Every Monday morning, I take out 5 zip lock bags and put in a combination of colorful vegetables. I usually dip the vegetables in humus for some extra flavor, making an easy afternoon snack. 

The solution above, bringing my left over dinner for lunch, also helps address this obstacle. 

My Sweet Tooth

I have a major sweet tooth, especially in the evening.

My solution? 

I have fruit ready to go. Since I have a habit of opening the fridge late at night, I'll chop up a cantaloup or honey dew melon. That way, when I open the fridge, I've got an easy to grab, sweet snack, ready to go.  

When fruit is out of season, I'll buy bars of dark chocolate. I allow myself half a bar a night. The serving ends up being 9 grams of sugar. 9 grams of sugar wont hamper anyone's goals. 

Weekend Fun

I find the weekends can undo much of a well planned week. So, two things here.

First, I manage weekends by knowing what my weekend might look like. If I know we're going to a wedding or sporting event on the weekend, I might say "no" the donut I usually treat myself to on a Thursday morning. 

I make choices during the week based on how I know my weekend will likely go. 

Second, I have a weekly drink limit of 7. I track my drink intake on my weekly wellbeing index card. If I know we will be at an outing that will involve multiple drinks, I'll drink less during the week so I can have more of my allotment in one night.  

These two strategies never make me feel like I'm depriving myself.

 In fact, they do the opposite. By setting an allowance for myself, I never feel guilty for indulging, as it was a planned indulgence. 

All my choices, even the choice to indulge, align with how I want to feel, the energy I want to have, and how I want to look. 

It's All About Pre-Planning Your Structures and Systems

Do you see a theme with my solutions? All of them are structures and systems that I have to set up ahead of time.

I know myself.

I will not cut up a bunch of fruit right before bed.

If I don't have a lunch to bring, I'm going to make a low quality food choice.

If I don't have simple items ready for breakfast, I'll be down at the Grind coffee shop buying a pastry instead.

I'm no different than everyone else! 

By investing an hour a week in your own structure and systems, you will save time, you will save you money, and you will move you towards your goals with velocity.

Success starts the night before. 

These are the 6 major obstacles I identified for myself. Your obstacles may be similar, or they may vary considerably. We all have different lives, family obligations, career demands, and social opportunities that shape each of our own unique challenges. 

Your solutions might be similar, or, they may look totally different as well. I shared what I do to give examples and spark ideas.

The key is that what you create works for YOU. 

Here's what to do now:

  1. Get clear on the obstacles you see for yourself. Write them down. 
  2. Pick only 1 of these obstacles to focus on for the next 2 week. Remember, I've been working on these for 4 months now. I didn't add these structures in one week. It took patience and practice. 
  3. Create one simple structure that addresses this challenge.
  4. Practice implementing this new structure over the next 2 weeks.
  5. After 2 weeks of practice, choose a new challenge to conquer and go through the same drill! 

4 months from now, you'll be in a totally different place with your nutritional habits. Results don't happen over night, but they do come for those who consistently practice the changes they want to implement. 

This approach of breaking down your long term goals into simple habits is the same approach I use with my year long nutritional coaching clients. We implement one new habit every 2 week over the course of a year. The habits build your tool box so that at the end of 52 weeks, you're a nutrition ninja.

Coming July 18th, 2017

And as you know, developing solid nutrition habits takes more than just a few blog posts and will power (even though many diet pushing businesses might make you think otherwise).

Here at Andrew Leonard Coaching, we partner with our coaching clients to create real, sustainable change in their nutrition & fitness practices. 

We will soon be accepting a limited number of new client's in both our men's coaching and women's coaching program.

Our long term, practice based approach results in totally new behaviors that make healthy eating habits something you do for the rest of your life. 

You'll get to work with a world class coach, and with their support, you'll learn to:

  • Eat better, without counting calories, dieting, or feeling deprived. 
  • Get active, no matter what shape you're in.
  • Ditch the food rules, and learn how to 
  • Build fitness into your life, without overhauling your life.
  • Achieve and maintain your goals, even when life gets busy.  

The results? You'll:

  • Lose the weight/fat you haven't been able to shed for years. 
  • Build physical strength and confidence in your body. 
  • Gain mental confidence, no longer hiding your gifts and talents. 
  • End food confusion, learn what to do, how to do it. 
  • Get off diet rollercoasters, once and for all, and never look back. 

Seriously, imagine life if you... 

…feel physically and mentally strong, capable of taking on any challenge without worrying that your energy levels or body weight will get in the way.

…can run around with your kids, or grandkids, without feeling pain, winded, or tired; and you can do it again the next day.

…excitedly book a beach vacation without wondering how you’ll look (or feel) in a swimsuit, walking along the beach.

…look forward to having your picture taken without wondering “who’s that person, and when did they start looking like that?”

Truly, this is the kind of life many of our clients are now living.

Whether you're tired of yo-yo dieting, feel too busy to committee to an extreme exercise program, or are just starting your nutrition journey, we'll provide you a sustainable path and unprecedented guidance through our coaching.

In order to give our clients the feedback and attention they deserve, we only open a few spots to the program a couple times a year.

Choose your program here to learn how you can get on the VIP list for 40% off our upcoming, limited enrollment opportunity.  

Get active in the community

Be in the conversation. Join the Powerful Body, Powerful Life: Live a life worth training for Facebook group and be a part of a supportive community of like-minded people. 

Go live a life worth training for. 

 

More willpower is not the answer...

If I only had more willpower...then I'd finally have the body I've always wanted! 

No matter how committed you've felt to a goal, you've probably had moments in your life where you seem to have lost your, "willpower" 

You can't help but order the burger and fries at the restaurant (even though there are quite a few healthier options). 

Your alarm goes off at 5AM for the gym, but you're too tired, hit the snooze button, missing yet another workout.

You walk past the candy jar 3 times, but you grab a couple of pieces the 4th time you pass. Then again the 5th and 6th time too… 

I JUST NEED MORE WILLPOWER!

 

All of these scenarios raise some common (nasty) questions: Am I just a lazy, no good, never gonna succeed person? Am I doomed to forever being how I am? Why don't I have the same amount of willpower successful people have?!

Well, I've got some good new. 

You're probably not a lazy, good for nothing person.

No, you don't have to be doomed forever.

And believe it or not, successful people don't have any more willpower than you have. 

The Problem with Willpower

The way you use willpower in your mission to drop extra pounds has some problems.

Actually, a lot of problems.

First, what is willpower? Willpower is an internal force that pushes us to do something we don't normally do.

Notice the word "force". We force ourselves to do something different - often something we don't necessarily WANT to do.

For example, when you don't WANT to eat a salad for lunch, but you force yourself to make the choice because, "it's the healthy thing to do."

When you don't WANT to go to the gym, but you push past all negative talk about how tired you are, how much you hate the gym mirrors and go anyway. 

On it's surface, willpower looks great! It makes you do the things that you need to do to achieve your goal. 

The problem with willpower is it takes a lot of mental energy and it's finite. You only possess so much willpower in a day.

You can only push yourself to do something that you don't normally do for so long. 

 

At a certain point, you'll use up all your willpower. That's usually when trouble beings... 

Now, does that make you "bad" or "weak" or "not good enough"? I don't believe so. I believe everyone has the capabilities to be great at whatever one decides to be great at. 

This leaves a few questions: What's missing that has you make choices that don't support your goals, over and over again?  Why are you consistently coming up short? 

Willpower versus Skill Power

I'm going to propose a totally different way of looking at how to obtain results. 

Consider results are tied directly to a specific skill set. 

Certain goals require certain skills. To achieve said goals, you will have to practice and develop these necessary skills.

This poses a new question, one that offers some concrete answers: What skills do I need to develop to have a higher likelihood of succeeding at my goal? 

You can have all the willpower in the world to learn French, but if you don't practice French, you'll never be fluent, regardless of your level of willpower.

The same applies with being "fluent" in nutrition and exercise. There are certain skills required to have the body you've always wanted. 

Stay with me here, especially if you believe this does not apply to you.  There are a TON of skills required - more than you likely are present to - in successfully living a lifestyle that supports your physical, mental, and social health. 

Not to mention, many of these skills are key to STAYING consistent and healthy all the time. If you're relying on willpower alone, eventually you'll run out and go back to your old ways…

Just like learning a foreign language or a musical instrument, practice leads to new skill development. Appropriate skill sets lead to results. 

Let's take a look at some skills needed to consistently eat nutritiously.  At the end of each skill is a sample practice you can take on to better develop the skill.

Skill 1 - Personal Awareness

Are you mindful when you eat? Are you in tune with body cues telling you that you're full? Are you in tune with body cues telling you that you're hungry? 

While this may seem like a basic skill, it's almost never an area of focus. And, it is not something you'll just naturally be good at. It takes practice to develop this awareness. 

Believe it or not, for the first 6 of working with new clients, this is mostly what I have my clients focus on. Developing the skill of having body awareness and adjusting their behaviors based on what their body tells them it needs. 

Practice: Try eating slowly for the next two weeks. This one practice alone will support your personal awareness around food. 

Skill 2 - Owning Your Environment

Your environment has a major impact on your choices. The ability to constantly be aware and make changes to your environment so that it supports your goals is a crucial skill to develop. 

How often are you putting yourself in situations where you have to "use up" your willpower? Your environment around you will directly effect how much energy and thought you have to put into eating healthy.

Practice: Take action on the first 4 steps in the Principle of Easy Nutrition blog post.

Skill 3 - Your Cooking

Do your cooking skills allow you to cook healthy and delicious foods?

If you're food tastes like crap, you're probably going to turn to some options that are easier to cook (or order), but don't support your goals! 

Being able to cook at a baseline - and beyond - is important to sustainability. 

Practice: Try three new recipe that "stretch" your current cooking skills over the next two weeks. 

Skill 4 - Organization

What organizational skills might you need that help with your health and fitness goals?

How can you organize your life to set yourself up for success, not matter the circumstances? 

Practice: Go through your kitchen and be sure you have the proper meal prep materials. Buy what you don't have. 

Bonus practice: Build a "gym bag" that has all your needed gym items ready to go. Store it in your car, office, or any other place that is convenient to your life. 

Skill 5 - Future Planning

Do you plan ahead of time and get clear on situations that will pose a challenge? 

Practice: Look at your calendar each Sunday and pre-plan your week in your head. Look for times in your week you already know you'll be challenged and envision how you can plan ahead of those challenges before they arise. 

Skill 6 - Stress Management

Once you have developed the skill of body and mental awareness, now you can begin noticing your food triggers.

Do you eat when you're stressed, emotional, tired, or for some other reason? 

Do you have the skills to deal with these triggers outside of food? Stress management is a skill to develop. Not something that we can "just do".

Practice: Schedule 5 minutes a day to "check-in" with your stress level. Over the next few weeks, try out 2 or 3 stress management techniques. Observer what works for you and build on it. 

Skill 7 - A Sleep Routine 

Sleep is vital to a healthily lifestyle. A proper sleep routine requires an entire set of skills, many already discussed (personal awareness, stress management, planning ahead, owning your environment). 

Practice: Turn off your electronics 1 hour before you sleep every night this week to support healthy sleep. 

Skill 8 - Decision Making 

Here's where "willpower" and skills begin to blend. Making conscious decisions that support your goals is also a skill.

Over time, you'll become better at making choices that align with your ultimate goals.

This is different than willpower, however, as getting better at making choices that support your goal is usually not from a place of "forcing myself to adhere," but rather a, "I want to make this choice" type of place.

In essence, you're developing your ability to choose your future. 

Practice: Make a list of 5 decisions you've been avoiding. Decide, in the moment, how you want to proceed with each of these 5 decisions. Notice how much energy this frees up!

 

There are many more skills that we have not discussed, but it's a start. 

You may have the willpower at times, but if you don't have the adequate skills developed to succeed long term, your willpower will run out at some point… and you'll go back to old habits and routines. 

In my opinion, this is why so many people struggle to stay healthy consistently. 

Wait. To build the necessary skills, that takes "willpower", right?  

 

Well, I'd call this desire to focus on building your skill set something else.

Skill 9 - One Final Skill

Everyone needs to have an emotional connection to their goal. A purpose behind it. Passion behind it. Something pulling you forward. A goal without gravity has no weight. 

If you're emotionally connected to what you're after, that will drive you forward with ENERGY. You won't have to "force" yourself to do certain things. You'll WANT to do the things necessary to succeed. 

Now, the ability to be emotionally connected to your goal is ALSO A SKILL.

It takes practice to dig deep down and discover WHY you're doing what you set out to do. Humans don't naturally stay connected to why we do what we do.

We develop automatic behaviors and habits that allow us to save our mental capacity. If we thought about why we we're doing everything we did, we'd never get out of bed!

The challenge with this, of course, is we often develop habits that don't support what we want. 

You have to bring awareness back to your life (again, another skill as mentioned above) in order to re-wire how you do things. 

Practice: Write down your current goals. Ask yourself, why is this goal important to me? Write down your answer. Then, again, ask yourself, why is my answer important to me? Repeat this process 5 times. Dig deep. Find some emotion. 

Where to go from here

The question to end with is: What skills might be missing in your arsenal? What can you practice to get a little better at this skill so you can sustainably move towards your goal?

The development of skills takes times. It's a journey. 

But, it works.

And it doesn't just work for the few weeks when you're "feeling it." 

It works forever. 

A final note

One reason I've adopted this methodology is I see people succeed (and fail) at improving their nutrition, fitness, and health all the time.

When I get to know them, it's never that they "don't want it enough." 

Often, when the client and I dig together, we uncover there are just gaps in their skills. And, the skills that are lacking are often the stuff many of us over look (often because they're not as sexy as a crazy diet or intense workout program).

This allows a totally unique approach to coaching, as we're not working to "fix" the client, as there's nothing to be fixed. There are only places where we can develop. 

Not to mention, most people have a pretty shitty story about themselves, that they're "not good enough" or "weak" or "bad people" or something else really nasty. 

They don't need me thinking that too.

Coming July 18th, 2017

As you know, developing new skills that lead your towards your goals takes more than just a few blog posts and, as you now know,  more than just willpower. 

Here at Andrew Leonard Coaching, we partner with our coaching clients to create real, sustainable change in their nutrition & fitness practices. 

As you may have gathered from this article, developing new skills can be quite an undertaking. Not to mention, it can be very daunting to take on this approach alone. 

That's where a coach becomes so powerful. A coach can partner with you through this process, one step, one day at a time, so you're able to make sustainable changes within the context of your own, busy life. 

We will soon be accepting a limited number of new client's in both our men's coaching and women's coaching program.

Our long term, practice based approach results in totally new behaviors that make healthy eating habits something you do for the rest of your life. 

Both coaching programs are designed to:

  • completely transform how you do nutrition forever
  • get you in the best shape of your life, for the rest of your life
  • meet your personal needs

Whether you're tired of yo-yo dieting, feel too busy to committee to an extreme exercise program, or are just starting your nutrition journey, we'll provide you a sustainable path and unprecedented guidance through our coaching.

In order to give our clients the feedback and attention they deserve, we only open a few spots to the program a couple times a year. Choose your program here to learn how you can get on the VIP list for the upcoming, limited enrollment opportunity.  

Get active in the community

Be in the conversation. Join the Powerful Body, Powerful Life: Live a life worth training for Facebook group and be a part of a supportive community of like-minded people. 

Go live a life worth training for. 

Why Food Journals Don't Work - And why you should be using one anyway

Learn to track your food in a way that leads to real and sustainable change. 

Learn to track your food in a way that leads to real and sustainable change. 

A 6 step guide to making your food journal actually work for your goals. 

By Andrew Leonard

Food journal. These two words make most people cringe. Who wants to keep track of their food? It takes time, effort, honesty, and it usually brings a bout of judgment.

I've got some news for you: Food journals don't work. Ok, let me back up for a second. Food journals CAN work. They're just often used in a way that is not effective and forever recording your food creates an issue. Who wants to spend the rest of their life recording their food intake? I know I don't.

Outside of the endlessness of this task, most food journals run into one major issue that garner them ineffective: People use food journals to track calories and nothing else. Let me expand.

The Deprivation Strategy

The track calories approach generally results in you "denying" yourself from food at a certain point. Who wants to feel deprived of good food all the time? While it is important to watch our calorie intake, I believe there's a better way that does not lead to an experience of deprivation. 

Pizza? Who Cares!

The quality of food is often not addressed. While calories are a piece of the equation, they are not everything! A 600 calorie meal of pizza and soda versus a 600 calorie meal of grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, and iced tea will make you feel and look very different over time. 

F$@& This.

This calorie driven approach does not result in any sustainable changes. Outside of "eating less", there is no long term behavior changes that occur. Once you've finally had enough of endless tracking, decide to throw in the towel, and put your food journal on the back burner: BAM! It's right back to the old habits.

The way most of us use a food journals has little long term effect on our lives.

What is the end game?

Now, I'm making an assumption that if you use a food journal (or have thought about it), you're looking to accomplish a few things:

  1. You want to lose some weight and have a body that you're proud of.

  2. You want the energy to live an amazing life and perform at your best.

  3. You want to have all of this forever, not just for a couple of months, a few weeks, or a handful of days.

I'll also assume, if you're here, you want to better yourself and you are cool with putting in the time to do so.

If this describes you, there's another approach to take that will get you all those things, lead to more effective results, and save you time in the long run.

In order for this approach to work, you first need to move food journals from the "lifestyle" category to the "tools" category.

When you rely on a journal as the only way to "fix" your eating, you'll forever have to use it as a crutch to monitor your eating habits.

If, however, you look at the food journal as a tool, it can be useful in getting you on the right path. The journal can be used to gather information; furthermore, to provide you with the ability to make behavioural adjustments that last.

So, let's break down this approach with a 6 step guide on how to use your food journals for REAL change and SUSTAINABLE results:

Step 1 - Collect useful data

Shift your mindset of what you're trying to accomplish by using a food journal. You want to use the journal to identify your food patterns and food habits. This means, not just tracking your food quantities, but also the time of day you ate, where you ate, and who you were with. Pretend you are a scientist in a lab collecting data. You will be using the data to uncover information. You are looking for trends and patterns. That's it!

Step 2 - Eat like normal

Once you have shifted your mindset about why you are using the journal, the next step is to do your best to eat like you normally eat!

Often, clients will use a food journal and automatically begin to make healthier choices they don't normally make. Now, this is normal human behavior and it is not necessarily a bad thing. This is actually part of the goal, to bring awareness around what you are doing.

The problem is once the food journal is ditched, it's open season on donuts and cake! The goal in using the journal for two weeks is to uncover what your normal, everyday food habits are.

Step 3 - Analyze your eating patterns

Once you have collected data for two weeks, it is time to analyze. We want to think like a scientist. This means, you're not allowed to judge yourself! We're only looking to identify useful data that we can use to practice real change.

Do you notice you are eating too late on weeknights? What can you adjust to change this? Do you go to the coffee shop and order a donut every morning? How can you change this habit? Do you tend to overindulge on weekends? Or with certain people you hang out with?

You want to USE the data to find out where you can improve long term.

Get clear on your eating patterns, so you can practice new habits that align with your goals

Get clear on your eating patterns, so you can practice new habits that align with your goals

Step 4 - Practice a new habit

Now that you have analyzed your data and have spotted common trends, it's time to begin practicing new habits that will support your goals.

What behaviors do you want to change? Is there a structure you can create that will help you practice your new behaviors?

For some ideas on step 4, check out my blog post where I identify 6 of my own nutrition obstacles and create structures to change my behaviors.

Step 5 - Put the food journal away

Practice your new behaviors for a set time period. Do so without a food journal. The goal is to make these new behaviors habits, ones that don't require you to write down every single morsel of food you consume.

Once you feel like you've successfully implemented your changes, it's time to repeat the process!

Step 6 - Repeat the process a few times per year

There are two reasons you want to repeat the process a few times a year.

First, the food journal separates you from "how you think you're doing" to hard facts. Remember the scientist thing?

Often, you think you do better than you really do (I do this too). You might believe you're rocking your nutrition, but you go to record your food for two weeks and realize you have "forgotten" about the bagel for breakfast, the cookies your coworker brought after lunch, or the sugary pumpkin spice latte you had at 3PM to get through your last 2 hours of work.

As humans, we're not the most reliable when it comes to our own facts. We create our own perception of how things are versus how they really are. We block out what's convenient, over or under estimate to feel good, and focus on what we want to focus on. Use the journal as a fact checker!

The second reason you want to repeat the process a few times a year is there is always something to improve upon. Once you master new habits, take another unbiased look at what you can do even better! You can never stop growing, learning, and improving.

How often should I use a food journal?

Well, it's really up to you. Personally I recommend four separate times a year for a two week period. This gives you plenty of data to get an overall idea of your patterns and habits, while giving you enough time to practice new behaviors, and then see which ones have really sunk in, and which ones need to be revisited.

You don't need to record your food day in and day out forever. Instead of spending hours a week writing down everything you eat, use your newfound time to focus on practicing the new habits you are after. In another few months, start the process again to reassess how you're doing and shift new behaviors.

Remember, a food journal can be a great TOOL. It does not have to be a LIFESTYLE.

Coming July 18th, 2017

As you know, developing solid nutrition habits takes more than just a few blog posts and will power (even though many diet pushing business might make you think otherwise).

Here at Andrew Leonard Coaching, we partner with our coaching clients to create real, sustainable change in their nutrition & fitness practices. 

We will soon be accepting a limited number of new client's in both our men's coaching and women's coaching program.

Our long term, practice based approach results in totally new behaviors that make healthy eating habits something you do for the rest of your life. 

Both coaching programs are designed to:

  • completely transform how you do nutrition forever
  • get you in the best shape of your life, for the rest of your life
  • meet your personal needs

Whether you're tired of yo-yo dieting, feel too busy to committee to an extreme exercise program, or are just starting your nutrition journey, we'll provide you a sustainable path and unprecedented guidance through our coaching.

In order to give our clients the feedback and attention they deserve, we only open a few spots to the program a couple times a year. Choose your program here to learn how you can get on the VIP list for the upcoming, limited enrollment opportunity.  

Get active in the community

Be in the conversation. Join the Powerful Body, Powerful Life: Live a life worth training for Facebook group and be a part of a supportive community of like-minded people. 

Go live a life worth training for. 

 

 

 

 

Stay in shape when you're busy

Have you ever been the in the grove, exercised regularly for weeks, even months....then get derailed by a business trip, vacation, or just the craziness of life? Today, learn how to stay in shape even when you're busy - it's far easier and faster than you think.

Over the past couple of months, I've been writing a lot about how to work on healthy nutrition habits within the insanity of life today.

In today's post, we tackle another piece of the equation: how can I keep my exercise routine going when I only have 30 minutes, 20 minutes, or 15 minutes a day to move? 

The fact of the matter is, this is one of the most common patterns I see as a fitness and nutrition coach: either all-in or all-out. You try to get - and stay - in shape for months, then get derailed by a life event that throws you off your routine. 

Often, once you've fallen off the "exercise" wagon - you stay off - for a real long time...

Worse yet, once you stop doing anything, your body stops adapting. You begin to lose all the progress you spent months gaining. 

The good news is, it does NOT have to go this way!

Before you grab the free exercise program, I want to highlight a totally different approach to how this process can go for you, with an excerpt from my free Ebook that is coming out this spring:

The Principle of Adjusting the Dial

Whenever life gets busy, it's normal want to hit "pause" on your health until things return back to "normal".
Instead of pressing pause, adjust the dial.
I learned this principle from Precision Nutrition founder, Dr. John Berardi. Without further ado, I'll let him describe the principle to you:
"I remember having lunch with a colleague who swore up and down that his low-carb diet plus daily running was the secret to staying in shape.
I had to follow-up with a painful question: “Well, why aren’t you actually in shape?”
After a long pause: “Uhh, I’ve had a hard time sticking with it. We just had our second child. The holidays just ended. I just switched jobs.” He trailed off…
“But, once everything settles down, I’ll get with the program and get in shape again! I guess I’m just on a little break.”
This story illustrates the point perfectly.
Here’s someone who has built his fitness on a house of cards. He knows only one thing: How to get in shape by following a very challenging program when the conditions are perfect.
And whenever life isn’t perfect, which is most of the time, he hits the pause button. He waits for a better time. (All the while losing the health and fitness he previously worked so hard for.)
That’s why, whenever you want to press pause on fitness and nutrition efforts, ask yourself: “What will be different when you come back?”
Nine times out of 10, the honest answer is nothing. Nothing will be different.
Life is just…happening. And it’ll happen again in January, or after the baby is born, or after Mom gets better, or at any other arbitrary point you pick.
And what then?
Nowadays I like to think of my fitness and nutrition efforts as a dial.
There are times when I want to dial my efforts up, and times when I want to dial them down. But I never want to turn the dial off completely." - Dr. John Berardi
The truth of the matter is, life is life. It just keeps going. Practice adjusting your dial rather than hitting pause to create sustained results. 

Yes. Life keeps going (even when your workouts do not).

Which is why I decided to share with you a really simple exercise program that you can do anywhere, anytime, no matter how crazy life gets. 

The program only takes only a few minutes a day. The workout uses only "compound movements" or in other words, movements that require a lot of muscles to be used at once (which means it's effective). 

Plus, it's adaptable. Change the sets, reps, or time for your exercise level. You can even ditch certain exercises if they don't work for you.

Access your free "on the go" infographic workout here: 

How to stay in shape when you're busy

Print out the infographic (or save it to your tablet) so you can have a workout solution everywhere you go, and never miss a workout again. 

 

Coming July 18th, 2017

As you know, developing solid workout habits takes more than just a few blog posts and will power (even though many extreme exercise programs might make you think otherwise).

Here at Andrew Leonard Coaching, we partner with our coaching clients to create real, sustainable change in their nutrition & fitness practices. 

We will soon be accepting a limited number of new client's in both our men's coaching and women's coaching program.

Our long term, practice based approach results in totally new behaviors that make healthy eating habits something you do for the rest of your life. 

Both coaching programs are designed to:

  • completely transform how you do nutrition forever
  • get you in the best shape of your life, for the rest of your life
  • meet your personal needs

Whether you're tired of yo-yo dieting, feel too busy to committee to an extreme exercise program, or are just starting your nutrition journey, we'll provide you a sustainable path and unprecedented guidance through our coaching.

In order to give our clients the feedback and attention they deserve, we only open a few spots to the program a couple times a year. Choose your program here to learn how you can get on the VIP list for the upcoming, limited enrollment opportunity.  

Get active in the community

Be in the conversation. Join the Powerful Body, Powerful Life: Live a life worth training for Facebook group and be a part of a supportive community of like-minded people. 

Go live a life worth training for. 

The Principle of Easy Nutrition

 

Today, we're going to tackle the mother of all nutrition questions: "How in the world am I supposed to eat well, take care of myself, and do all the things I know I need to be doing when life is just plain CRAZY?!"

We're going to give you a playbook to set your life up so that making healthy, nutritional choices becomes easy. Yea, I said easy!

Let me be clear: easy nutrition takes some foresight and some ground work, but if you put the time in, and are willing to build the skill set, you really can do this...

Now, before we jump into the "how to" on making nutrition easy, we must first explore an important concept to this philosophy: healthy, solid nutrition habits are a skill

Yes, a skill. Healthy nutrition habits are not something that just happen. They're practiced. They're developed. They take awareness to create. 

Let's step outside of nutrition for a moment and work through this concept in another way...

Let's say you are asked by a friend for some advice, "Hey, I want to be really good at playing basketball, but I've never played before - I don't even know the rules - where do you recommend I begin?"

What would be the first action you recommend your friend take?

Would you say, "Hey! You should sign up for a basketball league that meets twice a week. The games are intense, competition is high, and you'll be playing with some really talented folks."

Ehh...probably not, right?

Even if you personally knew nothing about how to teach basketball skill, I'm going to guess you wouldn't recommend your friend start at this high level.

What you might recommend instead is they watch a basketball game on TV and learn the rules. Then, learn how to dribble. From there, learn how to pass. Then, to shoot. Then, learn how to play defense. Next, how to read plays. You get the idea.

What you're doing here is recommending your friend learn the basics and build from there!

Nutrition is no different. Yet, it's so common for us to want to jump right into the big leagues without setting a strong foundation. We all want to be "dunking the basketball" in two weeks. 

Just like any sport, musical instrument (any talent), it takes a foundation of skills and practice to excel. Solid nutrition is just a series of well practiced skills, nothing more.

So, if you're really ready to excel at this nutrition thing, take few steps back and consider what the most basic habits are that you are not consistently doing. Let's focus there first. Then, we can start to learn how to shoot, pass, and play in some more competitive games.

Again, building the skills that result in healthy, automatic nutrition habits is the secret sauce.

Start at the foundation, and build on it.

In my year long nutrition coaching program, I have my clients focus on developing only one new habit at a time. 

This is what I'm proposing you do too. 

Why? 

A. you're actually learning how to do this nutrition thing within the constraints of your life (rather than forcing yourself to adhere to a 30 day eating challenge that will never be sustainable in the context of "regular" life).

B. so you don't feel overwhelmed by changing 20 different habits at once. In fact, research has shown we are more successful in the long run when we bring our focus to changing only one habit at a time. 

Just look at the success rates of adopting new habits from the book "Power of Less" by Leo Babauta:


1 new habit at a time: 85% success
2 new habits at a time: 35% success
3 new habits at a time: <10% success

In the habit changing world, less is more...

In the habit changing world, less is more...

Don't make nutrition more challenging or more stressful than it needs to be... 

Now that we've worked through the idea that solid nutrition is actually a series of practiced skills and habits, let's look at a simple progression you can work through (one step at a time) that can help you set up a life of nutrition ease. 

 

Step 1: Make time to plan.

Set a time each week to plan your meals and get clear on "challenging" events for the upcoming week. 

This step is crucial.

It allows you to be proactive in your life, rather than reactive to the craziness life can bring. 

Skip this step, and you'll fall right back into old patterns in no time...like grabbing the Dunkin' Donuts breakfast sandwich because you forgot to prep breakfast the night before or swinging by the drive through because you have no lunch and only 30 minutes to eat before getting to your next meeting. 

Here are some printable templates designed by one of my nutrition coaching clients for you to use:

Weekly Menu Planner

Monthly Menu Planner

Step 2: Get clear on your trouble spots. 

List all the times and places in your life when it would be beneficial to have accessible and healthy snacks available. 

Just focus on snacks here for the moment. We'll get to meal prep down the line.

Think of ALL the possible places it might be beneficial for you to have snacks ready.

Maybe all you need is an apple ready to throw in your bag each day to replace the 10:30AM donut run... or a bunch of bananas sitting on your desk each week to choose over the cookies your co-worker brought (again) for someone's birthday.

We'll get to the specific food items in a moment, for now, only get clear on the times and places in your life where healthy snacks will be welcome.

Step 3: Build a healthy (and easily transportable) snack list.

List out all the snacks that you deem healthy and accessible. Make these items a part of your regular grocery shopping list.

Fruit is king here. Apples keep very well for long periods. Bananas are great too, as long as you eat them within a couple of days.

Here are some other snack ideas to help get the wheels turning: 

Oranges, carrots, sugar snap peas, almonds or peanuts, hummus for dipping, celery and peanut butter, cucumber slices, beef jerky (don't get too crazy on this one, but it's better than a bag of chips!), the list goes on and on...

Step 4: Grocery shop your snack list.

Buy the snack items you listed in the above step. Practice building the habit of bringing them to the places you want to have easy access to healthy foods (home, work, commutes, ect). 

Let's pause for a moment and notice something very simple, but very powerful. 

In order for this process to work, you have to consistently go back to Step 1: make time to plan.

You could successful work through all the steps, have awesome health and transportable snacks ready to bring with you anywhere.

But, if you're not consistently making time to identify when you need to use these items, it will all be for naught. And, you'll end up throwing loads of rotten food away on a regular basis...sound familiar? 

 

Once you master these four steps, we can then move onto more advanced meal prep strategies.

Step 5: Invest in the proper tools.

In order to properly meal prep, you must have the proper tools. Start with: pots and pans to cook large quantity meals in and glass tupperware.

Go out and buy what you don't have. I highly recommend these glass tupperware containers for MealPrep. 

Step 6: Create your recipe book. 

Research meals and make a list of meals that you will:

A. enjoy

B. can be made in large quantities

If they can be frozen for use later, this is a big plus, as it means less cooking in the long run.

Here's a printable template you can use to keep track of your top recipes, create a grocery list, and schedule your weekly meals:

Master Meal Planner

Step 7: Get meal prep time on the calendar. 

Schedule a time (or a few times) each week that you cook and meal prep larger quantities of food for the rest of your week. 

Important note: be realistic. If you know that every Wednesday night you come up exhausted from work and never feel like cooking, don't say that this is the day you're going to meal prep! 

While everyone's schedule is different, weekends tend to work well for most, as it's the easiest to time in the week to block out an hour for cooking and meal prep without interruption. 

Step 8: Complete the meal prep.

Cook your meals, split them into portioned containers, and use them for quick lunches, dinners, ect. You're done!

Now that I've outlined 8 steps to this process, I have a request (one that you might not like...) I want you to only focus on steps 1 through 4 for the next two weeks. 

Don't worry about the full meal prep...yet. First, get really good at planning your meals each week and setting up "healthy food oasis's" across your life.

Get good and consistent with the first 4 steps before jumping into the more advanced meal prep activities...  

And yes, still do Step 1, even if you're not doing full meal prep yet.

Planning your meals might look like: Ok, on Tuesday I'm going to be rushed for lunch. Rather than finding myself in a bind and grabbing the first thing I see, I'm going to plan on ordering the Salmon Salad online and have it delivered to the office. All while making sure I eat the apple I brought at 10AM, so I'm not incredibly hungry...

Get the idea? 

By practicing this process and building the skill of meal planning, you'll have healthy food options available wherever you go, whenever you need, making healthy nutrition easy.

Start at the first step. Move to the second step. Master each step, one at a time. Finish at the final step.

Making nutrition easy is just one component of the needed skill set to be successful at eating well. 

In my year long nutrition coaching program, we take exactly this approach to nutrition, but on an even lager scale.

Lift weights for a year straight? You're going to build muscle. We build your nutrition muscle, one step at a time, one habit at a time, one day at a time.

What to make nutrition even easier?

Stop counting calories, tracking your food, weighing your food. Cutting out food - carbs, fat, sugar, fruit - stop it! 

There's another way. It's much simpler. You'll:

  • never have to enter your calories into a pesky app again
  • always have this guide with you, make it as convenient as possible 
  • learn a sustainable way to properly portion your food and you can begin using this skill immediately
  • save a TON of time and energy, while actually getting lasting results

We call it the "hand portion" method. Get your FREE "hand portion" guide here. 

Coming July 18th, 2017

Here at Andrew Leonard Coaching, we partner with our coaching clients to create real, sustainable change in their nutrition & fitness practices. 

We will soon be accepting a limited number of new client's in both our men's coaching and women's coaching program.

Our long term, practice based approach results in totally new behaviors that make healthy eating habits something you do for the rest of your life. 

Both coaching programs are designed to:

  • completely transform how you do nutrition forever
  • get you in the best shape of your life, for the rest of your life
  • meet your personal needs

Whether you're tired of yo-yo dieting, feel too busy to committee to an extreme exercise program, or are just starting your nutrition journey, we'll provide you a sustainable path and unprecedented guidance through our coaching.

In order to give our clients the feedback and attention they deserve, we only open a few spots to the program a couple times a year. Choose your program here to learn how you can get on the VIP list for the upcoming, limited enrollment opportunity.  

Get active in the community

Be in the conversation. Join the Powerful Body, Powerful Life: Live a life worth training for Facebook group and be a part of a supportive community of like-minded people. 

Go live a life worth training for. 

How to "eat the rainbow" in one simple recipe

Today I have a guest blog post from chef extraordinaire, Richard Sparks. Rich is a long time client of mine who's a genius in the kitchen. I get many of my cooking tips from him (and have had the honor of having many delicious meals from his kitchen). 

The best part is, while Rich is a food junkie, he's also extremely busy, and has found some great shortcuts to quality meals that taste AWESOME and don't require a ton of time in the kitchen.

Today, Rich shares with you on of his go-to recipes that will meet all of your vegetables needs.

Without further ado, Richard.


By: Richard Sparks

I found and modified this veggie stew recipe, and played with it for a couple weeks. This is a really tasty and satisfying way to load up on those missing vegetables. It also helps clean out all of those veg odds and ends sitting in your fridge. Seriously, just throw it in the pot!

This recipe is Vegan, but it easily covers all diets with only a few additions or subtractions. This is important to me since we often have guests over from different eating philosophies.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew

10 Cups Veg, sliced and chopped (include roots and lots of carrots, cruciferous bits especially cabbage and kale)
Lg onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
14 oz can tomatoes with juice
1 C vegetable broth
½ tsp Cumin
1 tsp kosher Salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper

Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and cook for 3 hours high or 6 hours low.

1 zucchini, sliced into ¼-1/2 inch rounds
16 oz can chickpeas, drained

Add the additional ingredients and cook for another hour on low.

The original recipe is for use in the crock pot, which is awesome for all of us busy peeps. Once you get through the substantial chopping task, this is pretty much a “dump and stir” cooking method, and leaves plenty of time for workouts or whatever you need to get done.

My crockpot needed more time on the initial 3 hours of cooking on high. Probably could have made it another hour. Or, after adding the zucchini, I could have cooked on low for perhaps two hours instead of one.

I find the stove-top results are far better, creating a silky, creamy broth, but you are more active in the kitchen. Since I am a kitchen geek, I don’t mind the time, but for many of you, sticking to the slow cooker may be best. To make this on the stove, may I suggest the following adjustments:

1. Chop the onion, garlic, two stalks of celery and two carrots. Fry these in about two tablespoons of olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or a combo until tender and the onions are translucent. 

2. If you are adding mushrooms, I would add those next and cook until sweated out and a bit browned, as it adds a lot of savory flavor. Add a splash more oil as needed.

3. Add an additional can of tomatoes, one of those with green chilis or some other spice load is a bonus to your broth. Dump in all the rest of the ingredients at this point, including the zucchini and garbanzos (if using). Be sure to add in enough additional broth to just cover the vegetables as in the pic.

4. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a solid simmer, and let it all cook for about 30 minutes. Stir regularly and check on occasion for tenderness and salt load. My batch was done in about 45 minutes.

For serving, may I suggest throwing on some chopped parsley or cilantro, a drizzle of hazelnut, or some other finishing oil, or perhaps grated parmesan. 

For a brilliant breakfast, heat enough of the stew in a fry pan, then add eggs and cover and “poach” until the eggs are cooked through. It is fabulous! For those of you who can, get your toast out!

For Paleo eaters (or those who plain need their meat fix), remove the garbanzo beans and throw in some fried sausage, or some lean, grass-fed ground beef. Beef stock makes the sauce really rich!

Enjoy!!!


Rich is a regular contributor to the Powerful Body, Power Live: Live a life worth training for Facebook group. To grab more healthy eating tips from him (and the other 100+ members), request to join the community today! 

My nutrition confession...

10 easy strategies to increase your vegetable intake

Vegetables. Oh, vegetables. You have been my personal nutrition struggle for much of my adult life. You've always seemed so boring and tasteless, to the point that I just wanted to ignore you... Why do you have to be so good for me?

I'm being a bit dramatic here, but intentionally dramatic to prove a point. My relationship to vegetables has not been strong, and because this relationship has not been strong, it's impacted my nutrition choices for years. 

Of course, as a personal trainer and a nutrition coach, I know how important vegetables are.  I mean, 95% of the time, my first recommendation to anyone asking for nutrition advice is: "more vegetables!"

This article's not going to be about why vegetables are so good for us (you can find a million - probably more - articles that will give you all this info). We're going to make the assumption that vegetables are really, really good for us and more is better.

Rather, I'm going to share how I shifted my thought process about vegetables. So if you've been told "eat more vegetables" and have had the experience of, "yea, yea I know," but never really made the significant changes you know you should make, keep reading. This article is written for you.

Over the past 7 months, I've been practicing making shifts in my thought process and how I choose my foods. One area I've decided to conqueror once and for all is this one: to build a habit of more vegetables in my life. And, to try to like them.

One thing I've noticed in this process is that I associate vegetables with bland, burdensome, and just not exciting. I would force myself to eat the side salad so I could get to the good stuff...

Now, I could go the route of one of my heroes, Dan John, and just tell myself (and everyone else) to suck it up and "just eat like an adult". End of article.

No. Instead, I've decided NOT to suffer through the side salad for the rest of my life. 

And, rather than trying to replace all my normal dietary choices with salads (which I've tried in the past. Low and behold, salads for every meal is not sustainable for me…), I've instead adopted some creative ideas that help increase my vegetable intake with how I already eat.

What's been really rewarding is the majority of these strategies are outside the "force myself to eat vegetables" world. Instead, they mostly enhance the meals I'm already eating, allowing me to eat certain foods I love and make them a bit healthier.  

The number one rule I've discovered when it comes to getting more vegetables in my diet: They must taste good! A steamed plate of broccoli won't cut it for me…

Blah. This does not get me excited to eat vegetables...

Blah. This does not get me excited to eat vegetables...

As I've experimented with new ways to introduce vegetable into my diet, and the habit has become built, vegetables in my meals has become more automatic. And, I really enjoy the way I feel when I stick to this habit. So much so, that I find myself WANTING to order a salad when I'm out to eat at times…. Folks, that's a BIG deal for me. 

So, whether it be your vegetable intake, or another area of nutrition that you struggle with, do yourself a favor and put some intense focus on this area for the next month. Stay aware, practice new strategies, and notice your brain begin to shift…

Now, here are my 10 easy strategies to help you get more vegetables in your diet - without replacing every meal with a salad…

1. Double the veggies on your sandwich

This one is so easy, and it makes your sandwiches so much better. Add more lettuce, more tomato, more of every vegetable you put on your sandwich! Load it up and enjoy. 

2. Vegetable soup

Make it, order it, or buy it. Vegetable soup can be prepared in so many ways, with lots of different flavors and variety. It makes an amazing side to most meals.

Plus, it keeps for a long time. You store vegetable soup in bulk and have an easy vegetable filled side ready to go in minutes. 

Find my mom's super simple (and tasty) vegetable soup recipe at the end of this article.

3. "Finger vegetables"

Stock your refrigerator each week with carrots, baby cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, anything that you can munch on when you're craving a snack. All this strategy takes is a little foresight before you go shopping.

A handful of tomatoes here, a carrot there adds up throughout the day...


4. Throw veggies into your morning egg dish

Spice up your mornings with an omelet or stir fry. Eggs go well with so many vegetables: mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions and tomatoes are musts.


5. Protein shakes

I personally don't do a ton of protein shakes. But, if you do, a handful of spinach won't change the flavor. Plus, you get some extra greens. 


6. Chili! 

What's great about chili is you can make it in huge batches, freeze it, and have it ready for a quick meal when you're in a pinch (or too tired to cook).

Most chili recipes are meat heavy. Replace half the meat in the recipe with cauliflower, broccoli, and/or carrots. It adds some great texture to the chili and there's little to no change in the flavor... win/win/win!


7. Zucchini noodles

Use a mandolin slicer to make zucchini noodles. Then, replace half of your pasta noodles with the zucchini noodles. 

Of course, you can use all zucchini noodles if you wish, but I personally found the texture a bit too weird for me. The 50/50 approach does wonders. 


8. Top off your protein

Throw some braised mushrooms, cooked down tomatoes, or grilled onions on top of your protein source. It will make your protein even better. Promise. 

Another option is to prepare a sauce full of vegetables. Of course, be sure the sauce you're using makes the dish healthier... Try this easy mushroom sauce from Mark's Daily Apple. 

9. Go ahead and get the burger...just replace the fries

When out to eat, practice choosing to replace unhealthy sides with a vegetable option. A burger with a side of roasted vegetables will do a lot less harm than a burger with an extra large serving of french fries… Most restaurants will offer this option.

Alert: I'm in no way saying you should go have a burger for every meal. But, when you are going to have the occasional treat, this is the way to do it.

10. Buy a salad book!

One of the best books I ever received from a client was this salad book. As a recovering vegetablephobe, salads just never appealed much to me. That is, until I was introduced to salads that frickin' rock! 

 

That's it for now. I hope my personal journey gives you some new perspective and strategies to help you get more tasty, exciting, vegetables into your diet. 

And, I'd love to hear from you! What creative ways do you add vegetables to your diet?

Share your ideas in the Powerful Body, Powerful Life: Live a life worth training for FB group, or reply to this email and let me know!

 

P.S. as promised...a vegetable soup recipe that cooks while you're at work:

Mom's Veggie Soup for the Crock Pot

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • All your favorite veggies chopped up
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water to fill remaining space in crock pot.
  • Optional: 1 lbs. your choice of beef cut into cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients in the crock pot. Set on high for 6 hours or cook until meat is done and the vegetables are soft.

Veggie soup cooks while you are at work and is ready to eat, freeze, or meal prep when you get home.

Coming July 18th, 2017

As you know, developing solid nutrition habits takes more than just a few blog posts and will power (even though many diet pushing businesses might make you think otherwise).

Here at Andrew Leonard Coaching, we partner with our coaching clients to create real, sustainable change in their nutrition & fitness practices. 

We will soon be accepting a limited number of new client's in both our men's coaching and women's coaching program.

Our long term, practice based approach results in totally new behaviors that make healthy eating habits something you do for the rest of your life. 

Both coaching programs are designed to:

  • completely transform how you do nutrition forever
  • get you in the best shape of your life, for the rest of your life
  • meet your personal needs

Whether you're tired of yo-yo dieting, feel too busy to committee to an extreme exercise program, or are just starting your nutrition journey, we'll provide you a sustainable path and unprecedented guidance through our coaching.

In order to give our clients the feedback and attention they deserve, we only open a few spots to the program a couple times a year. Choose your program here to learn how you can get on the VIP list for the upcoming, limited enrollment opportunity.  

Get active in the community

Be in the conversation. Join the Powerful Body, Powerful Life: Live a life worth training for Facebook group and be a part of a supportive community of like-minded people. 

Go live a life worth training for. 

Why you should eat dessert this holiday week

'Tis the season to celebrate the year! The next 10 days are full of family, friends, celebration, and sugar. 

Now, before you get all crazy about the awful food showing up on your plate this week, let's take a moment to chill out and think this through...

A reasonably portioned slice of pie after your Christmas dinner is not going to add 10 lbs. to the scale come January 1st. 

What WILL tighten the pants is mindless munching on cookies here, candy canes there, and hot coca before bed each night. 

That said, I've got a challenge for you over the next 10 days: I want you to eat dessert. Yes, I am asking you to grab something sweet!

But, if you take me up on this challenge, practice these two points:

First, intentionally plan the moments you are going to treat yourself to dessert.

That means, you're choosing your dessert quota ahead of time.

That also means you're choosing when you are NOT going to have dessert (i.e. when you stubble upon a tray of cookies at your neighbor's holiday party).

Make dessert a predetermined choice. If sweets show up outside of your game plan (which they will), take a pass!

Second, eat desserts with high quality ingredients. I mean, if you're going to eat dessert, let's make it count!


Don't waste your sweet credits on store bought pies and brownies with "who knows what" added to them… 

Homemade dessert is key. You get to say what goes into it.

So, there you go. You have my permission to eat dessert guilt free this week (if you follow the two "rules" above).  

To help you with this task, here's my gift to you: 10 delicious, high quality dessert recipes to enjoy this week.

5 are "classic" dessert recipes, while 5 are "alternative" dessert recipes in case you're avoiding wheat or dairy.

All are incredibly tasty. 

Put the guilt away for the next week by following these simple tips, so you can put your focus on being with friends and family (not the scale). 

Enjoy!

Why "doing more" is not always the next step to success

I have a confession to make.  I've been writing a blog post about a trip I had to Toronto (which I'm explain more about in a moment). The post flat out sucks.

The blog post was a strategic, thought out piece, about the lessons I learned while spending time with some of the top leaders in the fitness industry. 

I wrote my first draft.  I wrote my second draft.  Then my third.  Then my forth. By the tenth draft, I was finally beginning to think my blog post was ready to share with the world.

I re-read the post once more when it hit me: my article sounds like a term paper.  Like I said before, it flat out sucks. While I do hold all the information I wrote about as true (and potentially beneficial for people to know), there was no soul in it. 10 hours worth of "doing", and I have a well thought out, strategic post that no one is going to find interesting. 

So, I have started over.  You are reading my revised blog post now.  What is different about this one?  It comes from my heart, not my head. I have taken out all the well thought out points, the strategy to get people to read my post, and the smart sounding sentences. 

What you are getting instead is my authenticity and passion. And, the topic is radically different than what I originally began writing about. Instead, I want to share my story of my path to Toronto, rather than the trip itself. 

To brings some context around all of this, let's start at the beginning. The beginning I'm referring to is about a year before my trip to Toronto, with a nutritional coaching company, Precision Nutrition (PN).

Late last year, I worked through PN's first level certification program. To say that their approach and teaching resonated with me is an understatement; their message hit me deep down. 

In late August, when the company announced an opportunity for their coaches to share what the company has done for their business, their lives, and their clients, I jumped at the chance. The winners were to be flown out to Toronto to spend a few days with the company. 

I turned on my camera and began my first attempt at recording the video I planned to send to PN.  About 3 minutes into the first take, I stopped. I didn't like something I had said. I began my second attempt. Then a third (sound familiar?). Before I knew it, I had a dozen attempts under my belt. 

The video was beginning to sound rehearsed and robotic.  That was not going to get me anywhere! Just like with this blog post, something awakened inside me. 

Before I turned on the camera for my next attempt, I made a pact with myself: this is the video your submitting, regardless of how it goes. Share from your heart.  Go.

I let everything flow from there. What came out in this video was from a completely different place than my first 12 attempts. It was open, authentic, and real. I did not do anything different or anything more. I was being someone different. And, the person I was being in the video is what won me the trip.

Dinner with Dr. John Berardi, Krista Scott-Dixon, Nate Green, and Eva Tang, along with 7 other ProCoaches from across the globe. 

Dinner with Dr. John Berardi, Krista Scott-Dixon, Nate Green, and Eva Tang, along with 7 other ProCoaches from across the globe. 

 

You see, I did not do anything additional to make it to Toronto.  Quite the opposite.  I did less! In one take, I connected to my bigger purpose. Hit record. Done.

Here is the real lesson I learned in all of this: living from our heart creates clarity and fulfillment. The trip to Toronto was just a result of living from this place.

In the past, I always thought I needed to "do more" to get further head: Give better programs. Go to more conferences. See more clients. Work longer. Work harder. 

What I've been learning over the past few years is this "do more" mentality will not take me to a new next level. I don't have time in my life to do anymore! No. To get to the next level requires digging deeper into myself than I ever have before, to master my natural strengths, and to step into my greatness.  It requires me to be someone different than I have been in the past. This process takes a new mindset; a new way of viewing life and life's choices.

It's the leaders who lead from their purpose, not their heads, that make real impact. It's my clients who connect to a deeper "why" that brings their success. 

So, while I did learn business strategy and I did learn about marketing plans, what has stuck with me through this experience is how wonderful life is when we connected to what we really want and live from that place.

I have it that's where all of us can make the most difference; by getting connected to what we really want and the difference we really want to make.  This connection will call us forth. We make choices outside of our comfort and our automatics. It is where transformation occurs. 

I share my story to spark curiosity into your own passions and purpose; to illustrate doing more is not always the answer.

Take this moment to look for yourself.  Separate from the thoughts in your head (the should, must, need to conversations), and instead, look inside.

1. Where do your passions lie? 

2. What purpose do you have for your life?

3. What choices would you make living from here? 

If you do not have an immediate answer, that's OK!  Most will not. Let these questions sit inside your head, write out what you see, discover, and develop your ideas. 

If you feel so inclined, send me an email at andrew@andrewleonardcoaching.com and let me know what you come up with.  I read everything I get. I'd love to hear what you see for yourself.

If you took something away from today's post, and have not yet signed up for my newsletter, do so below!  You'll only hear from me a couple times a month, and I only send material I believe is worth your time. 

Let's have more conversations like this. Thanks for reading.

Avoidance

Avoidance is a funny thing.  The amount of energy and time required to avoid almost always outweighs the amount of energy and time it takes to do what needs to be done.  Why do we avoid?  There are probably many reasons we could come up with.  But I think the deep, overlying reason is we avoid to avoid fear. 

Next time you find yourself in a place of avoidance (it will be sometime today), ask yourself, what am I afraid of that has me choose to avoid?  If we ask ourselves this question, we might find access to choosing something else; and avoiding less. 

Where Success Begins

Self-care is at an all time low.  As a society, we are tired, malnourished, and overwhelmed.   Our minds consistently live in the future, contemplating all there is to do before we can take care of ourselves.  

 

“When I have more time I will workout”

“I’ll sleep when I am dead.”  

“I love vegetables, I just don’t eat them”.  

“I’ll work less someday, then I can take care of me.”

 

These conditions create a “zombie like” world.  We are not present or engaged in our daily lives.  We cannot have the life we want now, because there are too many other priorities that we have to sort out first.  We cannot be ourselves. 

 

How has this come to be?  It begins with the notion (one we concede to) that we have to give up taking care of ourselves to fit in everything else.  It has become a sin to put yourself first.  It has almost become an expectation that we will sacrifice our own self care for the benefit of others.

 

This notion is backwards.  Not putting ourselves first is costly.  If we cannot take care of ourselves, how can we be capable of giving to others?  When we are chronically under-slept, malnourished, and overwhelmed, how are we to be fully present in our lives?  When our cup is full, we can nourish others.  If our cup is empty, we have nothing to give. 

 

The first time this realization hit me was about 2 years back.  I had just finished one of my busiest training weeks of my career.  40 clients.  A big pay check was coming.  And, I was completely drained.  I realized I had skipped 3 of my workouts, ate out nearly every night, and sacrificed an hour of sleep a night to see all my clients.  I had the opportunity to impact 40 people in one week, yet I had sacrificed my own wellbeing to do so.  As a life coach, the irony could not be clearer.  This was when I realized I could not impact the people I worked with the way I wanted to if I myself was not nourished.  My cup was empty.  I had nothing to give my clients. 

 

Our society is drained.  And, we try to fix it by doing more. What if the solution is as simple as taking care of you first?

 

The practice of putting ourselves first is a powerful one.  Imagine a life where your a able to fully engage in every moment.  You are fully present, able to be who you want to be.  You have the energy and the mindset to live the life you want to live.  I would assert self care may be the most powerful way to gain access to the life you truly want. 

 

To put ourselves first takes awareness, practice, and work.  Obligations, social pressures, and career demands will have us believe we need to take care of the rest before we can take care of ourselves.  But the cost of not doing so is too great.  The cost is our experience of life.

 

Allowing our body to get the sleep it deserves,  the movement it desires, and the nourishment it craves are the corner stones of self care.  The practice of making these areas the number one priority in our life is a game changer.  We cannot wait until tomorrow, or until January first, or for work to slow down, or life gets easier. Have you not heard, life will always be the way it is?  

 

This shift requires you to decided now, in the moment. that you deserve the best for yourself.  You deserve to be kind to yourself.  You come first.  

  

 

 

There is nothing wrong with you

Let us shift the conversation of the fitness community.  

Often, our thoughts are littered with regret, doubt, and fear.   We take action on our health and well-being from the place of, “fixing what is wrong with us.”   

I see these conversations show up in the gym all the time.  Most start a fitness routine for one of three reasons:

  1. Fear.  The doctor told them they better work out or else. (fill in the blank: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.).  
  2. Guilt. I just ate pizza so now I have to work out to get rid of my guilt.        
  3. Lack of self-worth. You see this in two ways: those who are disempowered by their appearance and others who appear highly motivated, consumed by a desire to prove they are “enough.”

This conversation does not stop at the gym.  Look at the world today.  More often than not, our actions are driven by one or more of the disempowering contexts above.  We let fear of what others will think determine our actions.  We take actions to counteract the guilt that we feel.   We take on more to prove we are enough.

Living life from this place is not enjoyable or sustainable.  

I do not want to make it sound like I’m exempt from this.  The funny thing is, I am scared to have this conversation with the world. I fear that I will be judged.  I question my abilities to make a difference.  The little voice in my head says, “You’re not enough.”

But, I am practicing choosing from an empowered place. I want to be a leader who powerfully moves others towards their vision of life.  And that’s truly what matters in life.  Choosing who we want to be in the face of our fear, our guilt, and our story about our self-worth.  

What if we brought this choice to the world? Instead of taking actions to avoid fear, guilt, and shame, what if you and everyone else took actions from an empowered place?  What if every action you took was from your passions, your commitments, and your purpose?  

What if going to the gym is actually about loving yourself?  What if the diet you choose is about fueling your passions rather than avoiding guilt?   What if your job is about fulfillment rather than the fear of not paying bills or proving you are enough?  

Andrew Leonard Coaching is my contribution to making this paradigm shift in the world.  My mission is to shift your relationship to exercise, nutrition and life, so that it truly becomes a part of who you are and supports what you’re up to in the world.  

Rather than fixing what is wrong, let us look at what is possible.  Together, let us shift the conversation of the fitness community.  Let us shift the conversation of the world.  Who’s up for this game?