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Willpower: Can it be strengthened?

Recently, someone mentioned that they don’t have my willpower and it’s preventing them from eating healthy.   I thought about this a lot.  Two thoughts coincided in my mind.  First, it’s not a superpower of mine. I struggle just as the next person with the decision of eating chocolate cake with chocolate icing that is offered to me – our brains are wired to do so. Second, I usually have a strategy in place:  always have healthy options.  It doesn’t mean I choose them every time, but having a plan — whether cooking/baking ahead on Sundays or stocking my car/purse/backpack with packets of nut butter and seeds so that I have food available ensures I have healthy options, in case I feel hungry. So what can you do?   Identify your weak areas – is it the office, home, in the car? Where are you consuming these high sugar/high trans fat laden goods?  Who are you consuming them with? Strategize and create a plan. If you’re office has temptations, have some healthy food options available instead.  When you satiate your body with nourishing nutrients, you will feel less likely to eat a few donuts with your coworkers.   Another option at the office – bring your own goodies!  I love baking muffins and pies with healthy ingredients (often swapping applesauce for sugar) so that I can have a satisfying snack.  Create a small group within your office of home-baked goods and make it a group goal to eat healthier foods.  And home? Don’t keep refined sweets at home. You are much more likely to consume these if you’ve had a bad...

Boosting Anti-Inflammatory Food Intake

  One of my most important diet recommendations is increasing anti-inflammatory foods. This concept is important for everyone.   Why? Chronic Inflammation is associated with many diseases. Heart disease, asthma, cancer, obesity, thyroid, dental issues.. The list goes on. High inflammation in the body is at the root of all these conditions. Chronic inflammation increases recovery time. Whether chronic stress is imposed by food, a life event, illness or athletic activity, your body needs time to heal. If you have chronic inflammation in your body, it will take longer to recover. (Athletes: Shorter recovery time means better results and more effective training days!) How can you get more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet? Saute veggies/meats in coconut oil. Bake wild-caught salmon for dinner. Make a smoothie with dark, leafy greens. Add turmeric, cinnamon and cloves to dishes. Dilute ¼ cup tart cherry juice with pure water. Eat less-processed foods (avoid refined sugar/flours). Reducing or eliminating inflammation-causing foods and increasing anti-inflammatory foods can have a positively profound effect on your life.  Looking for more anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet? Click here.    ...

Coco Nutty “Cereal”

Serves 5 Ingredients ½ large mango, peeled and diced 4 large Medjool dates, pitted and diced ½ cup raw cashews ½ cup raw Brazil nuts ½ cup ground flaxseed ½ cup chia seeds ½ cup pumpkin seeds 4 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut ¼ tsp. sea salt ¼ cup virgin coconut oil, melted ¼ cup maple syrup, Grade B 2 Tbsp. water Directions Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, combine the mango, dates, cashews, Brazil nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, and sea salt.  Stir until well combined. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut oil, maple syrup, and water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Bake, stirring once halfway through, for 50-60 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet. Crumble cereal before storing. *Can be stored in an open container, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.  ...

Good, Better, Best!

What is a sustainable diet?  I spend a lot of time counseling clients on the concept of making their diet work for their lifestyle. Not trying to have the ‘perfect diet’ all the time is a more livable and practical concept for most people and they are more likely to stick to the diet which supports their health goals. A combination of “Good”, “Better”, and “Best” choices is the perhaps the best way to implement sustainable change in your diet.  Enjoying a homemade chocolate cake for someone’s birthday is probably fine (and really yummy!); try to eat a healthy dinner afterwards, filled with leafy greens, lean protein, and healthy fats.  A sustainable diet is not trying to have the perfect diet, but creating a healthy, flexible structure of food options which will allow your body to feel its best. What is Good? “Good” is cutting down on processed foods and incorporating healthier foods into your diet, such as swapping salad for french fries or a lettuce wrap for a few slices of bread. “Good” is making choices that will help you to feel better. For an athlete, this may be selecting an energy bar with minimal, pronounceable ingredients over a highly-processed, high-sugar energy bar. What is Better? “Better” is beginning to look at food more than just ‘energy’. It’s pausing at meals, allowing your body to properly digest food. It’s eating meals that require a fork and knife; swapping burgers and burritos for a plated dish, filled with salad, veggies and good protein.  “Better” may be adding a cup of wholesome soup to your meals or stocking your office/kitchen cupboards with healthy snacks....

The Importance of Vitamin D for Endurance Athletes

  Vitamin D is a nutrient found in some foods that is needed for health and to maintain strong bones. It does so by helping the body absorb calcium from food and supplements.  To train and race optimally, an athlete should not have any nutrient deficiencies therefore, the function of Vitamin D is important as it relates to overall health, bone density, innate immunity, muscle wasting, and exercise-related inflammation and immunity. Stress fractures are quite prevalent in runners and yet so preventable. German research studies dating back to the 1950s show that athletes exposed to Vitamin D-producing ultraviolet light had improved athletic performance.  After intense exercise, endurance athletes experience inflammation due to elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.  Vitamin D reduces the production of these cytokines while increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, thereby speeding the recovery process between hard workouts. It is recommended to get regular, safe, twice-daily (5-30 minutes) exposure to sun between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Supplement with 1000 IU to 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 to maintain normal levels. For those living or competing in northern latitudes (north of Atlanta, GA) little to no vitamin D production will occur, so consumption of fortified foods and supplements is a necessity. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as wild salmon, tuna, and mackerel)  and high-quality fish liver oils, such as Nordic Naturals, are among the best sources. To find out how much Vitamin D you should be taking, whether through natural sun sources or supplementation, click here.  Your doctor can also order blood tests to check your Vitamin D levels. Submitted by: Terry Lucas Sources: Office of Dietary...

Triathlete’s Nutrition Guide

Get our free handout. This educational handout is filled with tips for fueling before, during and after a training session plus hydration info! Print this handout for your fridge! Individual needs may vary, including if athlete is “fat-adapted” – carb/fat needs will differ. In good health – Heidi    ...

We are all unique.

Biochemical Individuality.  Have you heard of this concept?  It’s a term that refers to the unique nutritional needs of a person, based on factors specific to their lives – such as genetics, lifestyle and environment.  Most of us know that everyone has different DNA strands.  This is why we rely on fingerprints as a security precaution and as an invaluable way of identifying an individual, but how many of us have acknowledged that this concept applies to our nutritional requirements? As a nutrition consultant, I am quite often asked for general nutrition advice.  While I do think there is some overlap on food recommendations for people, such as including veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds into their diet, there is a lot of ‘non-overlap’.  For example, we all know that veggies are ‘good for us’, right?  But how many of us know that if we are dealing with a thyroid issue (such as hypothyroidism) that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, and kale) can actually aggravate this medical condition and slow the thyroid function even further?  These common goitrogenic foods can cause an enlargement of the thyroid gland and possibly interfere with it’s function.* Another example for the need for individual nutritional assessments is our environments.  How many of us live in hot, sunny climates or cold, wet and rainy climates or perhaps a mixture of both? The requirements for Vitamin D supplements will vary based upon your primary and secondary living locations. Vitamin D can be naturally obtained through sun sources, but even living in a sunny climate, you may be unaware that you are Vitamin D deficient.  You may...

Flexibility… It’s Always a good thing!

Mental Flexibility Going into 2016, I knew big changes were ahead. My first child was due in February and he surprised all of us, by arriving 5 weeks early! Needless to say, this caused a huge commotion of love, lack of sleep and lifestyle adjustment in our household.  As many parents may agree, I don’t think anything can completely prepare you for this new responsibility, wrapped in a tiny, cute bundle.  When people asked me in the preceding December “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions or goals?” my immediate response was “Yes, to have mental flexibility”. This exchange was usually followed by a simple laugh and a silent understanding. Athletic Flexibility I’ve had to make many adjustments to my fitness regimen, which includes incorporating my little one into my routine.  At-home programs, such as Dailyburn and fitness videos on YouTube have come in very handy.  After having a baby, it’s very important to heal first, then strengthen and rebuild your body. This is a key mix of rest, good nutrition, cardio and strength sessions.  Through a creatively-managed schedule, I am able to swim, bike, practice yoga, and do Pilate’s most weeks.  Consistency is incredibly important to me, so I make a strong attempt each week to be active every day. Sometimes I choose to prioritize sleep, but even if it’s a 20 minute brisk walk, this can help boost my energy & mood.  Read more about my post-baby fitness journey here: A Glimpse into Post-Baby Fitness. Nutrition Flexibility I’ve had to modify some of my existing recipes to include shortcuts, as new mom duties can take up so much...

Sports Nutrition Focus

A major challenge for many people is how to adjust their nutrition intake and timing of meals so that they can maximize their results and very importantly: their recovery.  Proper recovery leads to better results and a healthier body, overall. As part of my relaunch this fall/winter season, I will be offering in-person and online structured nutrition programs from 30 days to 6 months, which will include integrative services, such as: Grocery shopping/assistance Pantry Clean-Up Weekly Meal Prep Fueling for workouts … and much more! I will help athletes bridge the gap between their nutrition and athletic goals. Weight loss is almost always a happy byproduct of dietary/active changes without being the primary focus and I aim to help people find this balance in their lives, without being glued to a number on the scale.  Real Food. Real Athletes. Real Results.  Coming soon! Contact me with questions at info@nutritionbyheidi.com In good health – Heidi    ...

A Glimpse into Post-Baby Fitness

Being a new mom comes with many challenges! One of them being: how do you get back to your fitness regimen/goals? Read a few excerpts from my fitness journal this year… June 2016 Glancing down at my run watch, I sighed. It wasn’t enough that I was only four months postpartum out for a run, I wanted to be fast. Faster and faster. Faster than the day before. My watch disagreed. It blatantly showed me a 11:30 mile pace, an almost 4 minute slower per mile pace than what I was running a year ago.  My inner confidence said to ignore this comparison, but it’s not so easy.  As I trot along the path, I begin to realize something: I will be strong soon enough. It may take time, but I need to appreciate what my body has done – given birth to a beautiful little person. That is an incredibly athletic achievement in itself. As I processed these thoughts, a quote came to mind: “The Only Person You Should Try To Be Better Than Is The Person You Were Yesterday”.  I’ve carried this wisdom with me throughout races and training rides over the years and it’s satisfied me greatly. I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. A 7:30 pace may be considered slow for someone else, yet blazing fast to me. And that doesn’t bother me.  Something new I’ve experienced lately is my postpartum self comparing myself to my prepartum self. I never considered myself to be an ‘athlete’ until ~5 years ago, and sure, I had minor setbacks, but for almost 5 straight years, I made incrementally, stronger efforts...
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