Living in the Middle

Extremes can be so tempting for some of us. Extreme ways of living can make us feel secure with their rules and restrictions. And while I do believe rules and restrictions are healthy for us (my personality type is a rule-follower, type A, safe with routine type of person) I also think that living in the middle of extremes can actually be the healthiest thing for us.

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Being a dietitian that has worked with many clients, and has been on her own personal journey with food, I have found the most success with my health and my client’s health when we actually get a little LESS strict with our food rules. So instead of focusing on a 100% clean diet, which ultimately can lead to the binge-restrict extremes,  living in that 80% zone helps us stay balanced in the long term.

For example, let’s say you eat perfect meals for 3 weeks straight. You portion everything out, use your calorie counting app, and feel totally in control. You lose 10 lbs and you feel amazing, but you are missing some of your favorite foods, going out with friends, and the freedom to eat what you crave. You then decide to “give in a little” to a craving, go nuts, and binge for 5 days straight. You gain back 12 lbs, feel fluffy and bloated, and basically feel like a failure. This cycle continues, and you go up and down 10-12 lbs every couple months.

For me, this cycle had me going up and down 20-25 lbs every couple months! I had two sets of clothes depending on what weight I was at, and I was so TIRED of living such an inconsistent, extreme life between binging and restricting.

Isn’t it better to live a little less perfectly for the long term, versus living in extremes that leave our body feeling tired, going up and down in weight, and feeling like a failure time and time again?

I finally decided that I’d rather live as a healthy and balanced X lbs instead of living at either X +/- 20 lbs, forcing my body through the never ending and incredible unhealthy rollercoaster.

Let’s let go of these extreme lifestyles and focus on healthy habits that we can implement into our everyday life. For example, some healthy habits I encourage my clients to live by are working out daily, having a vegetable with each meal, and having a salad with dinner every night. These are habits we can ADD to our day, and they will not only nourish us more, but will help us establish a healthier foundation for the long term.

Extremes can be tempting because they promise results and success, but I’d personally rather live a lifestyle of health that includes salads AND pizza, kale AND cookies, and a little bit of middle ground when it comes to our food choices. I believe in living a nourishing LIFE so that you can have the freedom of sweets and treats, while trusting your body to take care of the rest BECAUSE of that heathy foundation you have set. 

This is what I teach my clients with my Nourished & Free Method.  If you want to live a life of nourishment while living in food freedom, click here to learn more about how we can start working together to make this happen.

You CAN build an incredible foundation of health that will allow you more freedom than you know! 

 

12 Days of Health-mas!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! You guys, I am so so happy it’s finally December! But let me tell you, I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time that I dreaded this time of year, for two reasons. 

a) either I stayed on a strict diet, dreaded every holiday party we attended, and stuck to a strict meal plan devoid of any holly and jolly and fun... 

OR

b) I completely went off the deep end, ate every day like it was my last, and entered the new year feeling bloated, sluggish, and awful about myself. 

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I’m here to tell you there CAN be a middle ground. Balance is possible, and there is a way to enter 2019 feeling nourished, vibrant, and also feeling like you enjoyed all the treats and deliciousness that this time of year has to offer!   

I am so excited to be launching my new holiday challenge, kicking off next Monday, December 10th! The 12 days of Health-mas will include all you need to handle this holiday season in a healthy, but joyful and FREE way! When you sign up, you receive: 

  • a meal planning guide on building nourishing & sustaining meals

  • workout and activity tips to keep your body moving and energized

  • DAILY challenges that will help you grow in your mindset towards living a healthy lifestyle, and help you learn that you are WORTH living in freedom and health!

  • mindset challenges and journal prompts to not only get healthier on the outside but most importantly on the inside

  • AND a chance to win a $75 grocery store gift card!

This challenge will be run in my Nourished & Free community, which is my exclusive Facebook community for my group coaching clients where I teach on nutrition, mindset, the importance of exercise, and provide daily doses of accountability and support for all the ladies in there. Once you join the group, you’ll have access to all the files, educational videos, and challenges we’ve done, PLUS be able to join in on the 12 days of Health-mas! The Nourished & Free community is $19/month, but there is no contract! So you can join in for the holiday fun to test it out and it’s up to you if you want to continue with your membership in the new year!

You CAN make this year different, be more present with your family, enjoy some peppermint bark and Christmas cookies, and ultimately live Nourished & Free! I am so passionate about helping women everywhere live in the freedom and confidence that God intended, and what better time than NOW to start?

If you are interested in this challenge, fill out this form below and I’ll send the info your way. The deadline to join is December 9th, so be sure to fill out this form so we can get started! 

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4 Steps towards Food Freedom

Finding food freedom while still trying to live a healthy lifestyle is a delicate balance of nourishing your body with whole, nutrient-rich foods, but also allowing yourself to eat treats, sweets, and other foods that may not be as nourishing to your body, but more nourishing to your mind and soul. A couple of years ago, I developed a style of eating that truly made me feel nourished AND free. I had never felt so free in my food choices, but so healthy at the same time. Unfortunately, this past year, I got sucked back into diet culture, food rules, and found myself in a whirlwind of anxiety and confusion when it came to my food choices. God shook me out of it pretty abruptly and brought me back to a place of freedom with food that I am forever grateful for. My anxiety has been at an all-time low, while feeling the healthiest I have ever felt! I want to bring this nourished and free concept to you all, which is why I started my Nourished & Free community where I counsel and educate clients in a private group and show them ways to develop health habits, not restrict, and find their sweet spot of feeling nourished and free in their own healthy living journey!

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If you have a similar story to me and you are sick of the diet, restrict, binge cycle that seems to plague most of us, read on. Here are my four basic steps to starting on your journey with food freedom. I hope they help and inspire you!

Let go of the diet rules, the good and bad foods, or any other labels you’ve put on yourself.

The best way to get started on your journey is to let go of your mental list of “good” or “bad” foods. Yes, some foods have more health benefits than others, and some foods will be more nourishing to your body, but no ONE food or one food experience is going to make or break your health. The stress caused by confusing food decisions will cause more damage to your health than the slice of pizza or side of fries! Unless you have a diagnosed allergy or celiac disease or a food that really affects your health poorly (and that’s not just in your head, more on that later), the best first step towards food freedom is to allow all foods into your lifestyle.

Find a healthy form of movement you enjoy.

The next step would be to find a form of exercise or movement you enjoy. The only way I can get up so early in the morning to workout is because I actually look forward to my morning routine. Remember, our bodies were MADE to move, so we can all find a form of movement that we enjoy. Try out your local yoga or barre studio, join a gym, get some home workouts, or start training for a race. Whatever it is, I truly believe that we can all find a form of movement that we can enjoy a few times a week. I also think it is important to note that exercise alone does not cause weight loss, so we have to find other motivations to workout and move our bodies. Use exercise as self-care, to decrease your anxiety, and to increase your energy and motivation for a day. This will help you stick to a workout routine for reasons other than to see the number on the scale go down.

Add vegetables to your meals and snacks as often as you can.

Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses because of a myriad of reasons. They are full of fiber and water, which help fill you up during your meal. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which help protect your body against disease and energize you. They also can be prepared in SO many ways that there is no excuse anymore to not eat your veggies! I love to add veggies in wherever I can. You can add them to omelets in the morning, snack on carrots or cucumbers at work, always add a side salad to your lunch, and roast up some of your favorite vegetables for dinner. This way, you still feel like you are eating a lot of food (any other volume eaters out there?) but you are also nourishing your body with whole, nutrient-rich foods.

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Learn food freedom by incorporating some of your favorite foods and evaluating how they make you FEEL.

Lastly, the best way to start living out food freedom is to start incorporating some “forbidden” foods into your day, and then evaluate how you really feel. Does dairy really cause you to breakout? Does bread really cause you to bloat? A lot of these symptoms are caused by other factors such as stress, lack of sleep, etc. Did you know stress can actually make you feel blaoted too? I started testing this out a few weeks ago and its changed my entire mindset. For example, I decided to start enjoying the free food that work offered, and I realized that I was just as sleepy in the afternoon after having my homemade, paleo free lunch vs. the pizza and salad that work provided. Maybe I was just tired in the afternoon because I am PREGNANT, and not necessarily because of gluten, sugar, etc. While I do believe there is a time and place to make nutritional recommendations and changes based on symptoms, I found that I was overanalyzing every food decision I made and thinking all of my symptoms (anxiety, sleepless nights, a breakout) had to do with the food I was eating. I reality, there is SO much more to health than just our food choices. Sleep, stress, activity levels, financial issues, a life event….ALL of these factors play a role in how you feel as well. I don’t want to undervalue your symptoms, because trust me, they feel very real, and I’ve been there not too long ago. But if you want to experience true freedom with food, know that research is very blurry when it comes to food sensitivities, and there is no real way to prove that a certain food is causing an issue for you because most of us are also under stress, feel sleep deprived, and have other factors contributing to our symptoms. Become an investigator of your own body, and evaluate non-food stressors as well that could be impacting your health.

I hope these simple tips can get you started in your own food freedom journey. Know that life is worth living, and is about so much more than your food rules or what you do or do not eat. You do not have to live in two extremes: being deprived one week and then binging the next. There can be true freedom when it comes to nourishing your body, and if you want to dive into that further, I highly recommend you joining my Nourished & Free community!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Move your body, eat some delicious food, and love on/be present with those around you!

 

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Pregnancy Update: 24 weeks pregnant!

Poor baby #2. Emma got regular updates during my pregnancy with her, and this is only my second update since announcing that we are pregnant with baby #2! I feel so terrible, but life has been nuts and most of the time, I have to stop and remind myself that I am pregnant and need to take things easy! Being pregnant + having a toddler is no joke! On top of working full time, running a private practice, serving at church, and overall LIFE in general.

Needless to say, it’s been a busy season. Busy, but also exciting and full of God’s blessings! Every time I get exhausted or overwhelmed, I remind myself of how grateful I am for my life, my babies, my husband, and my community. God is so so good, y’all.

Anyways, onto the updates!

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How far along are you?

24 weeks! This pregnancy is FLYING BY.

Gender:

GIRL!! We’ll be announcing the name soon :)

How big is the baby?

She is the size of an eggplant…so big!

Total weight gain:

I am 4-5 lbs up from my pre-pregnancy weight! I’m really grateful for steady weight gain since gaining weight was so difficult with Emma and our abnormal umbilical cord. Thank God for a normal cord this time around and a healthy appetite for mommy!

How am I feeling?

I have moments of extreme energy and happiness, followed by being an emotional and exhausted mess. I had a breakdown yesterday just because I couldn’t switch a load of laundry (our machines are on the 3rd floor, Emma was on the 2nd floor, she’s getting heavy to carry up and down with me, but I digress). I’m learning that it’s ok to ask for help, and even though I want to do it all and feel like I should be able to do it all, those are just unrealistic expectations I have been placing on myself. Moms, ASK FOR HELP. I’m preaching to the choir on this one.

Maternity clothes?

I have been re-wearing all of my clothes from my pregnancy with Emma but I finally ordered a few new sweaters and a pair of pants this past weekend! I wanted some fresh clothes to enjoy!

Favorite workouts:

I workout at home and do mostly Beachbody workouts! I’ve been alternating between lifting, maternity workouts, kickboxing, and modifying some of my other favorites. I am so grateful to be able to move my body!

Stretch marks:

None and I hope it stays that way!

Cravings:

Hmm lately I’ve been wanting big leafy salads and warm fresh baked chocolate chip cookies!

Sleep:

Sleep has been off and on. Better than it was but definitely not great. I’d say it’s mostly just restless nights!

What I miss:

Intense workouts, more than 1-2 cups of coffee/day, having more energy to play with Emma, and having more energy to stay on top of house chores! Also, wearing cute(r) clothes!

What I am looking forward to:

This hasn’t changed: having two little girls to play with and enjoy! I am an only child and prayed for a sister almost every day of my life, so I feel so blessed and happy that Emma will be able to enjoy that special bond.

That’s all for now! Hopefully I’ll be a little more regular with these updates, I enjoy writing them and I’ve enjoyed reading through Emma’s old posts too! Thanks for reading and have a great afternoon, friends!

Baby #2 is on her way!

Yep, we are expecting our second baby girl and couldn't be more thrilled! Lord willing, we will be welcoming the 4th member of our family at the end of February 2019. We are so excited and blessed and happy Emma will have a little sister!

I blogged through my last pregnancy with Emma, and I want to TRY to do the same with this one. But let me tell you, being pregnant with a toddler is no joke. For all you first time pregnant ladies out there, ENJOY ALL THE REST. Because right now, I feel like I am forgetting that I'm pregnant because I am so busy running around a 16 month old, working full time, and taking care of all the things. It's okay though, God provides His strength and that's the only way I could get through!

I'm 15 weeks now, and finally starting to feel better and shedding that first trimester getting-hit-by-a-car feeling. I thought I'd do a little recap about how this pregnancy has been so far...hope y'all enjoy!

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How far along are you?

15 weeks and 2 days.

Gender:

GIRL!!

How big is the baby?

She is an avocado this week....so cute!

Total weight gain:

I am still below my pre-pregnancy weight since I lost some in the first trimester. I will say that I am definitely hungrier with this baby compared to my pregnancy with Emma, so I am sure I will be gaining weight in no time!

How am I feeling?

Pretty exhausted...the nausea really knocked me off my feet in the first trimester, but I have finally been feeling better the past couple weeks! A bit more energy and being able to enjoy the nourishing foods I love!

Maternity clothes?

Oh yes! I feel like I started showing the minute I found out I was pregnant this time around! It's like my body knew to just pop out!

Favorite workouts:

I do at-home Beachbody workouts because they have gotten me the best results and I've never been as consistent as I am when do their programs! Right now I am doing Liift 4, a 4 day/week program, plus adding their maternity workouts and MMA style kickboxing workouts!

Stretch marks:

None and I hope it stays that way!

Cravings:

Gimme ALL the Greek salad! And can I just say, I am so grateful I've been craving salads because for a solid 2 months my diet consisted of ritz crackers, cheez its, and bread. Those are the only foods that seemed to settle my stomach. It's such a relief to be able to eat some nourishing veggies again!

Sleep:

Sleep has been AWFUL, but it was the same with Emma so I was expecting it!

What I miss:

Intense workouts, more than 1 cup of coffee/day, and having more energy to play with Emma. She is such a good independent player and loves her toys. She sings and talks to me all day long while I rest and sit on the floor with her. I just wish I could be more active with her, but for now I know this will do, and she still loves me! (Mom guilt is real, guys).

What I am looking forward to:

Having two little girls to play with and enjoy! I am an only child and prayed for a sister almost every day of my life, so I feel so blessed and happy that Emma will be able to enjoy that special bond.

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That's all so far on this pregnancy! Thank you for all of your sweet words. We are praying for a smooth pregnancy and healthy baby, and are so excited for our new blessing!

Addition Nutrition

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all had a great week, and a great summer so far. It's been a busy summer for our family, full of vacations, exciting projects, and down time with my little family. Overall though, I am so ready to be out of this crazy California heat that we have been experiencing and can't wait to get into the Fall spirit! Anyone else??

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A topic that I’ve been chatting about recently with my Nourished & Free clients is Addition Nutrition. Nowadays, with all the diets out there, the majority of these plans focus on eliminating certain foods and food groups in order to reach your weight loss or health goals. These diets recommend cutting out meat, bread, fruit, fat, and so many other foods that leave many feeling deprived and reaching for junk food on day 3.

Been there, done that.

But, what I have learned lately in my own journey, as well as what I practice with clients, is the idea of addition nutrition. What can we ADD to our plate, our pantry, and our meals to feel healthier and fuel our bodies better? Can we eat more vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, wholesome carbs, and good quality proteins? Can we drink more water, add a salad to each meal, and snack on some vegetables in the afternoon?

OF COURSE WE CAN. It's all about your mindset and how you view healthy living. If you just follow a diet or plan that is a list of "no" foods, you won't be staying on that for very long.

What I try to do to keep my mind right is focus on the abundance of nutritious and satisfying foods that make me feel my best. Then I go buy those things, prepare those meals, and look forward to all the food that I have on my meal plan. I enjoy my meals because I am not coming from a place of deprivation. Rather, I am looking at all the foods I can ADD to my day that nourish me and fill me up.

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When we focus on what we CAN have instead of what we CAN’T have, that is where the JOY and freedom lies in a healthy lifestyle. That is when you actually stick to your goals, your meal plan, and finally follow through on your decision to get healthy. What a great mindset to make changes with!

My challenge to you this week is to make a list of all the healthy and nutritious foods you want to start ADDING to your meal plan. Then go to the store and stock up on these foods. Prepare some meals in advance if you can, and approach this new week with excitement and an abundance mindset towards healthy living. I promise you, it'll make all the difference!

Friday Favorites

Happy June everyone! I can't believe how quickly this year is flying by. Summer is here and I am so excited for beach days, time in the sun, and enjoying this season with my little tribe. I thought I'd share what I've been digging lately and what I've been grateful for in life, because God is good and I definitely feel blessed!

1. Father's Day cookies. I've posted about these cookies so many times, and you can find the recipe here. These are my husband's favorite cookies. They are so delicious and light, so I woke up early on Sunday morning to bake them for him! We've been munching on them all week, so delicious!

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2. Disneyland days. I am beyond grateful to have the chance to enjoy so many Disneyland days with Emma! We went on Monday and had so much fun! I love watching her learn and notice new things every time we go. She is growing up so fast!!! I also had to stop myself from buying this  cute Beauty and the Beast tea set. Belle is my favorite Disney princess! Who is yours??

3. Limiting caffeine. Ever since becoming a mom, I've gotten into a bad habit of having 3-4 cups of coffee a day. So I've made a more conscious effort to just have 1 cup of coffee/day, and I'm feeling a lot better! I am definitely a bit more tired, but I know that I will get used to it and it's better for me overall, and might help my sleep too!

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4. Free food at work. I used to not give in to the free food at work because it's typically not the healthiest, but this week I definitely enjoyed some! We had an all-day training yesterday and they brought Corner Bakery for breakfast and Panera for lunch...basically all. the. carbs. I ate what I typically don't eat, but health is not about being perfect 100% of the time. It's about eating nourishing food MOST of the time so that your body is able to handle the occasional treats and sweets! That's a much healthier mindset to live in long-term, and I got right back on my healthy eating plan today and feel incredible!

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5. Emma's Mickey Mouse toys. My cousin got Emma these toys for her birthday and she has been OBSESSED with them. Every morning she wakes up and talks to them, carries them around the house, and sets them up all around her. It's absolutely adorable to watch her play and interact and babble! I just love this girl so so much.

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I hope you can also think of some things you are thankful for in your life or the blessings God has bestowed upon you this week! Blessings are all around, you just gotta look for them! Happy Friday, everybody!

Gluten-free does not equal healthy

I got a wonderful and thoughtful question from a blog reader last week, and I thought I’d answer it in a post because I am sure there are a handful of people that are confused about the same thing.

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I know there has been a lot of confusion over the past couple years about gluten free diets and whether or not they are healthy. Let me start by saying I have had my own experience eating gluten free and eating normally over the past few years, and have discovered that, for me, gluten free/paleo-ish is the healthiest way for me to eat for my health, digestion, and mental wellness. BUT, that does not mean that when we eat gluten-free, our diet is automatically healthier.

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One of my blog readers sent me a message last week stating that she saw that I eat gluten free, and that she tried going gluten free herself a few years ago but found that the gluten free breads, pastas, and mixes were all high in carbohydrates from rice and potato flours, and that they weren’t actually healthier. She wanted to know if she was right in thinking this and basically, what the deal is with gluten-free!

I’ll start by saying that this reader is SO smart to pick up on the fact that gluten free products are not healthier than their wheat flour counterparts. Just because a product is labeled gluten free does not mean it is healthier or a better alternative. And frankly, most of the time, it is higher in carbohydrates and sugar than the regular products. All foods are a mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals, so whether or not it has gluten in it does not change this fact.

Gluten is simply the protein found in wheat, and when people have allergies, they are typically reacting to the protein in a certain food. Gluten free products are substituted (most of the time) with rice flour or potato starch, plus are found to have even more sugar in them to make them taste good. They are still just has high (or higher) in carbohydrates, are often times devoid of fiber, and are still a treat. Gluten free cookies are still cookies, and gluten free pancakes are still pancakes.

 

My favorite  paleo cookie recipe  from Against all Grain! And I still treat them just like regular cookies; a TREAT to be consumed sometimes. 

My favorite paleo cookie recipe from Against all Grain! And I still treat them just like regular cookies; a TREAT to be consumed sometimes. 

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy these foods. I love gluten free toast from Trader Joe’s and Pamela’s gluten free pancake and baking mix! But these gluten free treats should still be treated as TREATS. They should be eaten just as often as you would eat a regular pancake or regular cookie. Not an everyday food, but a sometimes food.

So be a savvy shopper. Just because something is labeled gluten free doesn’t mean that we can have bowls and bowls of gluten free pasta and still think that’s a “healthy” food choice.

And if you want to go gluten free, the best thing to do is replace your usual breads, pastas, or cookies, with plants. THAT is the healthiest way to go gluten free. So instead of having a hamburger, have a lettuce wrap with an additional side salad. Instead of having a cookie with your salad, have some more vegetables on the side or some fruit.

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And most importantly, if you don’t have negative symptoms from eating gluten, there is no reason for you to go gluten free. Yes, gluten is inflammatory over all, and I don’t think there is any harm in cutting it out (if done right like I mentioned above, with the addition of plants). BUT if you don't experience any negative side effects from consuming gluten, there is no need to cut it from your diet. It won’t automatically make you healthier, especially if you are still consuming gluten free noodles, cookies, pancakes, and more.

I personally gravitate towards a gluten free diet because it helps me with my digestion issues and my anxiety. I even tried to incorporate some back into my diet as recently as last week (kodiak pancakes are a favorite of mine!) and starting feeling those similar symptoms return. For me, I have a clear reaction to consuming gluten, which is why I avoid it unless a food is absolutely worth it (and trust me, it rarely is worth it for me!) But just because I eat a gluten free diet does NOT automatically mean I am healthy. I eat a ton of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean protein, and gluten free grains from time to time, along with those occasional gluten free/paleo treats, and all of that contributes to a healthy diet.

I hope this helps you become more aware of your food choices too and learn to be a detective in the grocery store and not just fall for any marketing that is slapped on our food products nowadays. The more we know, the better we do. And if you all have any more questions, please send them in! I love answering these types of questions I get, so please don’t hesitate!

Have a great Thursday, everyone!

 

 

Focusing on the FEELING of Healthy Living

Many of us need to find a certain motivation to help us stick to healthy lifestyle. What helps some people is the scale, size of your jeans, an accountability buddy, or looking good for an upcoming event. But, I do believe one of the most powerful motivators is focusing on how you FEEL when you move your body and nourish yourself.

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Numbers don't always tell us the whole truth. Sure, the scale is a pretty good indicator of your relationship with gravity (insert eye roll), but it doesn't tell you anything about how much muscle you've built, how many vegetables you've eaten, or how hard you've worked to get to a place where healthy living is your default.

Lately, what has been motivating me is focusing on how I feel after I choose a nourishing food vs. a not so nourishing food. Or even how I feel just eating one cookie vs. five cookies. Healthy living doesn't have to be all or nothing, but if most of your food choices are fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and good sources of protein, the rest falls into place. The occasional treats take care of themselves, and you will FEEL healthy, strong, and energetic.

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So if you aren't seeing the progress you'd like to on the scale, or can't fit into that favorite pair of jeans quite yet, focus on how you FEEL after a day of healthy eating and moving your body. Write down what comes to your mind to remind yourself of how PROUD you are of your efforts. And let that be enough, because trust me, that feeling can carry you through the times when you want to go off the trails, and the way you feel BECAUSE of your healthy choices can help you go from one good decision to the next!