Top 5 Healthy Protein Ideas

Protein is the number one most important nutrient for a healthy diet. It’s the building block for growth and essential for building and maintaining muscle. I tell all my clients to remember the 3 Ps–perpetually prioritize protein. Make sure you include protein in every meal and every snack. It’s that important!

It’s also satiating, meaning you will feel full longer when you eat protein. So, if you’re looking to lose weight, protein is your best friend! It’s always surprising to me that so many people don’t eat enough protein. But, if you stop and think about it, most of the readily available foods are higher in carbs and fats than they are in protein. Still, there are easy ways to make sure you get enough in your daily diet. Here are my top 5 healthy protein ideas:

  1. Meat – I eat a variety of meat each week, including chicken, beef, turkey, pork, and sausage. I try to choose organic, free-range, or grass fed, if possible. You only need a serving that is roughly the size of your fist. Probably the most budget friendly of all these choices is ground beef or chicken sold in a family pack.
  2. Fish – Seafood is a great way to meet your protein goals, and it also contains many other micronutrients and healthy fats that we need. My favorite choices are salmon, shrimp, and white fish, such as tilapia. Tuna is also great, especially for lunch!
  3. Dairy – If you can tolerate dairy, it is a wonderful complete protein. Whole milk, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are all good choices.
  4. Eggs – Right now, most people are probably going easy on the eggs, given how expensive they are! But, they are a great protein source. I recommend eating the whole egg to maximize the benefits of the micronutrients. Remember that eggs are not high in protein so you need two or three to achieve a good amount of protein in one meal.
  5. Beans – Chick peas, black beans, and lentils are great protein sources, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Pair them with rice and you have a complete protein!

BONUS: I recommend that you always have a healthy whey protein on hand (vegan protein, if you’re so inclined). This helps you “top off” your macros at the end of the day, if you find you’re short. I use powder in shakes and sometimes just drink it blended with water after a hard workout.

Top 5 Healthy Fat Ideas

Fats are essential in the human diet, however they may be the most misunderstood macronutrient. Those of us who were alive in the late 1980s and 1990s remember that everything was lowfat. Lowfat yogurt, milk, everything. The thing is, fat is actually good for us! You just need to make solid choices.

There are three main types of fat: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat. You basically want to concentrate in the unsaturated zone for maximum health. Some saturated fat can be OK, depending on where it comes from. For example, meat sometimes has saturated fat, such as steak or beef. Avoid trans fat completely.

Looking for some healthy fat ideas? Here are my top 5:

  1. Nuts – nuts are high in fat, but you have to be careful to choose lower fat content varieties, such as almonds, and watch your portions! One gram of fat is equal to 9 calories! So, keep that in mind when eating handfuls of nuts!
  2. Avocado – I never used to like avocados but they’ve grown on me. I especially like to smash it up on toast and add everything bagel seasoning! I also add it to salads.
  3. Grass-fed beef – beef is a great fat source because it’s also high in protein. Choose organic or grass-fed for the highest nutrient level.
  4. Whole milk  or yogurt – if you can tolerate dairy, there is nothing better than whole-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, or cheese. Again, you’re getting the protein along with the fat. Just be careful not to overdo it!
  5. Dark chocolate – choose 70% cacao or higher and enjoy a sweet treat that is healthy in fat, too!

BONUS: Add a tablespoon of chia seeds or MCT oil to your next shake and reap the benefits of those healthy fats.

Top 5 Healthy Carb Ideas

Did you know that carbohydrates are not completely necessary for humans to survive? They are helpful to be sure, but if you were stuck on a desert island, you’d be best served to find a protein and fat source and could go for a while without a carb. That being said, they are classified as an essential nutrient, and are part of a well-balanced diet. As a nutrition coach, I advocate for a diet high in protein along with healthy fats and carbohydrates. The fats and carbs can be in whatever combination works best for the individual. It really does depend.

Carbs are best consumed around the time of training or in the morning for best results. You want to use them for fuel, because they provide energy for the body. If you take in too many right before bed, your body doesn’t need them as much. What’s more, depending on your training, you may need a lot or not as many. Some people even cycle their carb intake meaning they eat more on hard training days and fewer on rest days or lighter training days. It’s a giant experiment as to what works best for you!

What are the best sources of carbs for a healthy diet? Here are my top 5:

  1. Rice – any kind of rice will do. My favorite is white rice because it’s versatile and easy to digest. The healthiest rice is wild rice. Brown rice can be difficult to digest for some people.
  2. Sweet potato – I love sweet potato fries. Super easy to make in an air fryer or oven and so tasty! You can also use it in skillet recipes or just microwave one and add butter. Yum!
  3. White potato – in many ways the good old white potato your mom used to make is superior to the sweet potato. It has lots of vitamins! Don’t shy away from it!
  4. Barley – particularly in winter, I love a good vegetable beef barley soup. If you have had a baby you may remember barley cereal! But as grown-ups we tend to overlook this grain.
  5. Oatmeal – perfect for breakfast but also easily added to a protein shake, oatmeal is an easily digestible carb that can keep you full for hours. Try steel cut oatmeal made overnight in the crockpot. Add walnuts and berries and you’re good to go!

BONUS: Fruits and vegetables fall into this category. Go nuts! The more fiber, the better.

How a Hobby Helps You Stay Healthy

Do you have a hobby? Most people do. Some of us find a hobby early in life and continue it for years while others of us dabble in different things here and there. It’s also possible to do both! Did you know that having a hobby represents a creative and relaxing outlet that can help curb anxiety and depression while keeping our brains healthy? Hobbies are important for our health!

I have had many hobbies in my life–everything from collecting different things to crafting to oenology. The two that have seemed to stick with me since a very early age are reading and cross-stitching.

From Precocious to Voracious Reader

I learned to read when I was 4 years old. My father used to make me read the newspaper to friends and family; he was proud of my prowess at such a young age! Luckily it wasn’t only a sign of my intellect; it became something I loved. I still read every single night, finishing upwards of 50 books a year. I read everything from non-fiction to fiction, self-help to career and industry publications, YA to historical romance. I love it all! Reading is a way for me to wind down.

A great book or engaging resource transports me away from my current view and allows me to step out of my life for a bit, whether it’s 10 minutes or an entire Sunday afternoon.

A Stitch in Time Saves Everything

I come from a line of cross-stitchers. My grandmother stitched. My mother stitched. I now stitch. I learned when I was only 10 years old, creating small ornaments and tiny patterns from my mom’s Dimensions collection. I stitched a lot through high school but college created a bit of a hiatus for me. I picked it up again later in life and have been going strong ever since. I was inspired by my grandmother’s careful, precise stitching. The back of her projects were so neat and clean, something I have yet to accomplish myself! She always had a spot on her couch with her work nearby. That was where she worked daily on whatever piece she was preparing. She did them for herself and for gifts.

My mom was also always stitching something. She made Christmas stockings for all of us, a trend I continued in my own life. She also was always finding something to stitch as a gift, whether for a new baby, a grandchild, or her own children. Now that they both have passed, I continue their legacy. Having inherited all their floss, patterns, and accessories, I have quite the collection of resources! I have stitched everything from small gifts to the Last Supper (that got me through the pandemic!). There are pieces hanging in our home, too. Cross-stitching isn’t a common hobby in my small circle of family and friends. I use that to my advantage, enjoying making gifts for others. In the recent past, I’ve created coasters, bookmarks, and small, framed pieces for holiday or birthday gifts.

Stitching relaxes me. I know it may sound crazy to those who know how counted cross stitch is done, but it does! I try to stitch a little each night before going up to read before bed. The two hobbies together make up my down time. I love having something I can do that isn’t related to work, and that allows me to just be around my family in the evening. Lots of times the pets surround me, the fire is on in the fireplace, and one or more of the kids is nearby doing their own thing. It’s a wonderful, comforting atmosphere.

Hobbies for Health

Consider your hobbies. Do you have them? Are they are way to help relax you? If not, I encourage you to explore what you enjoy and find something in the way of a hobby that you can regularly participate in. Common ones include gardening, playing sports, vacationing, learning a new skill, or crafting. Find one that is exciting to you that you can use as an outlet for relaxing. You’ll be glad you did!

Planning for a New Year

It’s the time of year when we tend to pause and think about the last 12 months, as well as the year ahead. I like to take time off from work between Christmas and New Year’s. I typically use some of that time to review my previous new year’s resolutions and think about changes I want to make in the next month, quarter, or year. It’s helpful for me to keep things manageable. I try not to create too many resolutions or I will surely fail. Typically, I choose one goal for each of seven areas–fitness, nutrition, business, career, finance, spiritual, and personal. Seven is a lucky number for me, too, which starts my year off on a fortunate note! Some past goals I’ve had include say a Rosary daily, complete a specific large cross-stitch project, get certified in something new, or do five unassisted pull-ups.

I brainstorm a bunch of goals first, then narrow them down. Once I’ve done that, I chunk them down into what needs to happen each month, followed by each week. I like to have a variety of timelines so everything isn’t taking an entire year to complete nor does it need to start in January; sometimes I might want to get a certification by a certain date, for example, or complete a project over the summer. Once I have the action plan outlined, I draft out any challenges I may face, as well as how I might address them. For example, if I want to save $5,000 by March, a challenge might be the additional travel costs I incur for cheer competitions. I could mitigate that by reducing spending in other areas, choosing inexpensive hotels, and being careful about eating out while traveling.

I find that writing things down is the best way to not only reflect on progress, or lack thereof, but also to commit to new habits. There is something about writing it down that locks it into your brain and makes it real. For the past three years, I’ve used the same planner, linked below. What I like about it is the space provided each week for me to write down appointments, meetings, and my work and personal to do lists. It also allows me to track behavior so I can keep tabs on the new habits I’m trying to build. Each month, there is a way to assess how you did the month prior, and there’s plenty of room to ideate and brainstorm and create goals and action plans for yourself. The stickers are a nice bonus and I usually purchase more to get me through the year.

The past two years, I’ve integrated my workout tracking into this planner but this year I’ve decided to keep the two separate. This way, I can keep a workout journal right in my gym with me. There was really no benefit to me having to record my workouts in one place only to have to transcribe them in my planner! I am going to try a fitness planner (linked below). I made sure there was room for all the exercises and sets I might do. This is only a three-month planner but I figure it’ll be a good pilot to see if I even like it!

To keep things fun and organized, I also purchase colored pens each year. These don’t bleed through the page and they keep things interesting and color-coded. I typically keep my work and personal content separate, using different colors there. I also take notes at work using a different color each day. It makes me happy! These are my favorite pens (linked below).

I hope my suggestions are helpful to you as you take stock of your own health, fitness, work, family, and personal life. You can be as creative as you need to be or as basic as necessary to hold yourself accountable. In the new year, carve out weekly and monthly time to keep these plans on track. You will thank yourself later!

My Gift to You

Christmas Eve is tomorrow and in honor of the holiday, I’m presenting a gift to all my followers and readers. I know it’s hard to commit to a healthy lifestyle. There are so many obstacles. But it is possible to squeeze in working out and eating well. I’m living proof, but it didn’t happen overnight for me. It has taken me a few years of slow, deliberate habit changes to get to where I am today.

In my opinion, this is the major problem with our social media culture. People see influencers and fitness professionals who look fabulous and they make it look so easy. Or you see before and after photos of people and think you could never do that. Well, who knows what they went through or how long it took? Realistically, making small, incremental changes over time is the best way to look and feel your best.

You do that by focusing on your habits and making adjustments that you can sustain over time and build on. For example, if you want to walk every day, start by walking 10 minutes a day every morning when you wake up or every evening after dinner. Work up to longer walks as you get used to the new schedule. Or, if you are looking to change your body composition, whether it be to lose weight or gain muscle, or just to feel better, make one change per week and build on that over time. This is how I coach–slow and steady. It always wins the race!

My Gifts

If 2023 is your year, I am here to help! If you’re not quite ready to commit to personal training or nutrition coaching, here’s a workout and my top 5 wellness/nutrition tips to get your started. All you need is a pair of dumbbells. If you’ve read this far, email me at for a free calorie assessment (offer expires December 31, 2022).

Workout (adapted from MindPump)

Day 1
Warmup: Do the following for one minute each; leg swings, arm circles, thread the needle

Dumbbell (DB) standing lunge (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB Alternating Chest Press (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB Alternating Row (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB Alternating Shoulder Press (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB Alternating Bicep Curls (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB Alternating Skull Crusher (3 x 8-12 reps)
Ab Crunch (3 x 8-12 reps)
Single-Leg Calf Raise (3 x 8-12 reps)

Day 2
Warmup: Warmup: Do the following for one minute each; leg swings, arm circles, thread the needle

Elevated Heel DB Squats (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB Romanian Deadlift (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB Incline Alternating Chest Press (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB Pullover (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB front raise (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB side lateral raise (3 x 8-12 reps)
DB rear delt raise (3 x 8-12 reps)
Plank (3 x 30-60 sec hold)

Wellness/Nutrition Tips

  1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
  2. Prioritize protein – eat it first and make sure all meals/snacks contain protein. Aim for .8 to 1 gram per pound of body weight or desired body weight, if you are trying to lose weight.
  3. Stay within 10 percent of the daily calories required for your body and goals.
  4. Get at least 8,000 steps daily.
  5. Drink at least half your body weight in water daily.

Merry Christmas!

Do You Need a Nutrition Coach?

As we approach another new year, many people will resolve to eat healthier. It’s certainly something that can be done alone but having a coach will simplify the process and help you reach your goals much more quickly.

What is a nutrition coach?

A nutrition coach is trained to help you eat healthy, choosing the right foods in the right amounts. The certifications I achieved have given me the knowledge to calculate the right amount of daily calories for a specific goal, as well as the ratio of carbs, protein, and fats. I learned about the best sources for each of those groups, as well as how to ensure you are getting the right micronutrients or vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and fit. I also learned about overall wellness and how to help and motivate people to eat healthier by identifying their goals and helping them set attainable objectives to meet those goals.

What is NOT a nutrition coach?

Nutrition coaches do not prescribe meal plans and cannot treat medical conditions using nutrition. They can offer recipes, suggested meals, and foods.

Why hire a nutrition coach?

There is a lot to know about nutrition. For example, I find many people don’t realize how much protein is necessary particularly if they are older and/or actively training. It’s also challenging to figure out how to eat healthy when you’re so busy. A coach can help focus in on your own issues and provide ways for you to mitigate them. It’s also helpful to have the motivation and/or accountability as you’re building new habits. A nutrition coach has experienced or seen a lot of different types of nutrition challenges and as a result can give you guidance and advice that will help you in your own journey. It’s also helpful to have a nutrition coach if you are embarking on a new training program, particularly if it has specific goals. The two go hand in hand!

How much does a nutrition coach cost?

It depends on the services offered and how the coaches structure their payment schedule. Some coaches charge per session, while others package their services. It can be as nigh as $1,200 for a package or approximately $65/hour. It may seem like a lot of money but it’s worth it, if it will help get you on the right track. I offer my coaching online and since it’s a “side hustle” and something I do because I enjoy helping people my rates are much lower and more reasonable. Plus, my goal with my clients is to get them to a place where they no longer need me. That takes anywhere from three to six months typically. I offer a calorie breakdown check for if they need a reset or just want to make sure they’re still on track.

Still on the fence?

If you are still not sure if a nutrition coach is right for you, consider whether you can be successful on your own. Can you find the information you need? Are you confident you are making the right choices? Have you already been making progress toward your goals? If the answers are yes, you can probably keep going on your own. But, if you’ve hit a plateau, are gaining weight and aren’t sure why, are experiencing fatigue or other symptoms of poor nutrition, or have specific weight loss or gain goals, a nutrition coach can be extremely helpful to you. For more information on my nutrition coaching services, visit my page or contact me.

Best Exercises to Build Gorgeous Shoulders

female in gym clothesBeautiful shoulders don’t happen by accident but you always notice when people have them! They make dresses and tank tops look a million times better. In fact, nicely built shoulders are coveted so much that back in the 80s, clothing was outfitted with shoulder pads! If you know, you know. But, you don’t need shoulder pads to reach new heights with your shoulders.

Frequency matters. If you’re trying to build any body part, you need to concentrate on it a little more than other parts. In fact, you may need to replace some exercises for a while to make room for shoulder ones. The good news is the shoulder complex is closely connected to your triceps and upper back so you will see carryover in those two areas by default. To grow a body part, I recommend touching it about three to four days a week, using heavy weights, as well as lighter ones.

Here’s what that might look like for you:

Monday – barbell overhead press heavy with low reps (6 – 8)

Tuesday – dumbbell front raises, dumbbell side lateral raises, dumbbell rear delt raises, performed as a tri-set with light weights and high reps (15-20)

Wednesday – rest

Thursday – dumbbell Arnold press, cable face pulls, cable side lateral raises with medium reps (10-12)

Friday – plank up/downs, pushups as a finisher for your workout so high reps (10-20)

As you can see, each workout day (of a four day program) would include those shoulder exercises. Replace other upper body exercises, if necessary so as not to overdo it. I usually replace chest press with overhead press and limit my arm exercises slightly. Keep in mind, tricep movements have tremendous carryover to shoulders so don’t sleep on those!

The Importance of Mobility

A word about mobility here. Many of us spend a lot of time hunched over these days–over the phone, over the computer, riding in the car– and that can have detrimental effects on our shoulder complex. If you have rounded shoulders or feel soreness or tightness in your upper back, neck, and shoulders, be sure to concentrate on mobility movements, too. You can incorporate those into a warmup. Things like arm circles, halos, wall circles, and wall slides are great ways to keep your shoulders healthy and moving the way they are intended to move. You can’t overdo mobility. For some of my clients, I program daily mobility sessions and they definitely make a difference!

Looking for a custom program that emphasizes shoulder development? Message me below!


Easy Lunch Ideas for Working Women on the Run

Find yourself grabbing fast food or skipping lunch day after day because, well, meetings, work, and more work? It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are three lunch ideas that you can easily fit into a hectic day, keeping you full and healthy.

Bento Box – Popular with school-aged children, bento boxes can also be great for grown-ups. Put together any combination of yummy foods, choosing a protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Include fruit or veggies, and you have a complete meal. Here are some combinations to consider:

Tuna salad, celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins, triscuits with cheddar cheese, blueberries

Diced chicken (buy it frozen), almonds, carrot sticks with hummus, hard boiled egg, pita or bagel chips

Salmon, salad greens, strawberries, pistachios, avocado

These don’t have to be heated so it’s perfect when you need something quick.

Sandwich System – This is what I do for my kids but it can work for grownups, too. Start with a healthy sandwich. Peanut butter and jelly works! But, whatever you like is fine. Tuna salad, egg salad, deli meat with cheese, lettuce and tomato, anything! Then add a fruit, vegetable, and healthy chips. If you have a sweet tooth a small piece of dark chocolate does the trick. You can also include a protein drink to add protein and nutrients to the meal.

Super Salad – You can’t go wrong with a salad. Start with greens, and add anything you like! Make sure to include a protein, such as egg, chicken, salmon, or tuna. Healthy fats are good choices, too, such as avocado or nuts. Go easy on the dressing and you’ve got yourself a healthy, quick lunch. If salad doesn’t fill you up, have yogurt or a banana on hand, too, to top it off.

Eat Your Way Through Thanksgiving

Did you know that you can eat all the food on Thanksgiving and still maintain your health and fitness goals? It all takes a little planning and you can gobble the turkey without any regrets.

People are used to cutting calories to lose weight but did you know that you can also increase your calories to help build muscle? It’s called reverse dieting. The idea is that your body needs the right fuel to grow muscle. Increasing protein and eating whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs, and fats while increasing resistance training will help your body build muscle.

Here’s how you do it:

This week, add 100 calories to your diet, mostly in protein, and make sure you resistance train at least three days, full body with compound exercises. Do lower reps with heavier weight and focus on getting stronger and lifting as much as you can with good form.

Next week add 100 more calories, and make sure you progress your lifts by adding a bit more weight to each exercise.

The week of Thanksgiving, maintain your calories (so about 200 more than you were eating before), and on the day of Thanksgiving enjoy your meal! Don’t feel guilty about anything and make sure you don’t eat until you want to throw up!

Then after Thanksgiving, go back to your calories pre-November and get back on your meal plan. Change up your workout plan to increase reps and maybe do a split routine where you do push/pull or focus on different body parts. Make sure to add some cardio, too. You will find that the muscle you built will stay on but you will lose some fat, leaving behind a more sculpted look!

Who knew that turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing could lead to fitness gains? If you’re smart about it you can have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too.