60 minutes to success

I give myself 60 minutes per week to grocery shop – for the entire week.  95% of the time, this is enough.  Now I may go a little over that 60 min based on stores I need to stop at, time of day I shop, or if I forget something and have to run back mid-week.  I try really hard not to let that happen.  I’ve written a post about meal planning,  but I wanted to give a visual of what I accomplish in that amount of time.



Spot the doodle?


This time of year brings the desire to eat healthy, cook more, and feel better overall.  I take this hour per week as a way to help me do all that.  Sure I dread it sometimes, but the challenge of getting it all done in 60 minutes motivates me – or at least distracts me enough to make it tolerable.  This hour sets me (and my family) up for success all week.  That is worth any long line, slow shopper, or hauling my kid in and out of his car seat to visit various stores.

If you have questions about how to set yourself up for success each week, please don’t hesitate to ask.  I have a unique love for streamlining grocery shopping and food prep.  Good luck!






The Bearer of Good News

This was the topic of conversation on the Happier podcast I listen to while I walk the dog.

Aside from a Cubs World Series Championship (!!!), I feel like so much of the news, conversations, and headlines are negative lately. Granted, there are some major events going on that should be talked about, but it’s the tone that really wears on you after a while.

When’s the last time you got a great, uplifting email? Or a phone call from someone just to tell you good news?  It’s a wonder some people still respond to my emails, since they are generally just pointing out problems or adding to someone’s to-do list.

I’m not saying we can’t commiserate with our friends and family. We need that as a way to feel supported during tough times.  However, you could really make someone’s day (and thus, your own) by giving them a reason to smile or laugh.  It doesn’t even need to be *big* good news – just keeping people in the loop of things that are going well can be a nice change of pace.  You don’t have to pretend like everything in life is going smoothly, but starting with the positive might help make the negative seem less significant.

For me it would be this: my sister is getting married soon, a friend is having a baby, and the “month from hell” at work is coming to an end soon!



Henry has never been the bearer of bad news

Food Logs

Much like training, your diet must be tailored to your specific needs.  However, there are basic fundamentals that should be the foundation of any diet, regardless of goals.    

The basis of any diet must be the correct caloric intake.  That is determined by activity level (minimal, moderate, or very active) and client goal (weight loss, maintenance, or gain).  

From there the macronutrient split can be set.  Determining the ideal macro percentages is largely based on body type (ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph).  However, this is merely a tool to give you a starting point.  These numbers can be adjusted about every 2 weeks depending on progress toward the goal.  

Nutrient timing is the 3rd step in creating an individualized diet plan.  This does not necessarily mean clock time, but usually is associated with activity.  The step does not come into play until the calories and macronutrient ratios have been established and the specific meal layout / menu are being set.  


Female A / Performance Goals

Weightlifting and Conditioning Day

Breakfast: Whole grain protein pancakes with 1.5 Tbsp raw honey
(350 cal) 18 g protein, 65 g carbs (5g DF), 2g fat

32 oz water

6 oz black coffee

Snack: Shake with spinach, kale, watermelon, pineapple, 2 JuicePLUS+ (1 Orchard, 1 Garden blend) capsules, bee pollen, tart cherry juice, ACV, water (160cal) 7 g protein, 33g carbs (5 g DF)

Lunch: Sprouted 7 grain bread toast, half avocado, 1 poached egg, pumpkin seeds, crushed red pepper 
(440 cal) 17 g protein, 36g carbs (11g DF), 25 g fat

16oz water

32oz water

Snack: Rx Bar 
(210 cal) 12g protein, 24 g carbs (3g DF), 9 g fat

2 Tbsp tart cherry juice

Dinner: Ground beef with black beans, bell peppers, green onion, corn tortillas, pico de gallo, spinach 
(365cal) 33 g protein, 38 g carbs (9g DF), 9g fat

16oz water

TOTAL: ~1525cal, 87 g protein, 196 g carbs, 45 g fat


Rest Day

Breakfast: Whole grain protein pancakes with 1.5 Tbsp raw honey 
(350 cal) 18 g protein, 65 g carbs (5g DF), 2g fat

32 oz water

16 oz water

Lunch: Power Bowl (kale,spinach, hummus, tuna, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, carrots, jalapeno pepper, flax, potato, cayenne pepper, chia seed) 
(400cal) 35g protein, 40g carbs (9g DF), 12g fat 
16oz water

16oz water

Dinner: Black bean veggie burger with whole grain bun, tomatoes, lettuce, dijon mustard
 (342 cal) 19g protein, 47g carbs (9g DF), 8 g fat

16oz water

TOTAL: ~1,092 cal, 72 g protein, 152 g carbs, 22 g fat


Male / High Volume Aerobic Training and Performance Goals

Day 1

AM: One hour workout @ SAA

PM: Swim 45 minutes, 2×9 min tempo swim

Banana with TBSP of peanut butter with every bite (~6); 12 oz. black coffee;
22g PRO, 45g CARBS, 51g FATPost SAA
Oatmeal, ½ cup, two handfuls chopped nuts, ¼ cup raisins, good squirt of honey, Greek yogurt, 1 hard boiled egg; 12 oz. black coffee; 50g PRO, 130g CARBS, 48g FAT

Mid morning
Bowl of mixed berries (blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry)
2g PRO; 34g CARBS; 1g FAT

Small lettuce salad with cucumber, tomato, onions and oil dressing , 10g CARBS, 14g FAT
6 inch turkey sub sandwich 20g PRO, 47g CARBS, 18g FAT
Protein drink 20g PRO, 4g CARBS, 3g FAT

Mid afternoon
Bag of mixed nuts with M&Ms and raisins 20g PRO, 80g CARBS, 35g FAT

Steak, 14 oz. Mixed vegetables, asparagus, peppers, onions, sliced tomato;
34g PRO, 28 CARBS, 16gFAT
Two glasses red wine 

Before bed
Cottage cheese, ½ cup 14g PRO, 3g CARBS, 1g FAT

Total: 172g PRO, 353g CARBS, 187g, FAT


Day 2

AM: Bike 4:30

Run 45 minutes, not over 85% HR

Swim 30 minutes, easy

Pre bike
Banana 1g PRO, 30g CARBS, 0 FAT
Coffee, ~10 ouncesOn bike
Perpetuem, 300 calories per hour 7g PRO, 54 CARBS, 2.5 FAT x4
Water, 24 oz. per hour

Post bike
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich 12g PRO, 32 CARBS, 17 FAT

After run and swim
Oatmeal, ½ cup, two handfuls chopped nuts, ¼ cup raisins, good squirt of honey
Greek yogurt, 1 hard boiled egg 50g PRO, 130g CARBS, 48g FAT
Bowl of mixed berries 2g PRO; 34g CARBS; 1g FAT

Mid afternoon
Good sized bowl of spaghetti and meatballs 42g PRO, 67g CARBS, 30g FAT

½ LB Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon 55g PRO, 43 CARBS, 54 FAT
Sweet potato fries 3g PRO, 26 CARBS, 7 FAT
2 beers 28 CARBS

Before bed
½ cup cottage cheese 14g PRO, 3g CARBS, 1g FAT
2-3 handfuls of Lucky Charm cereal 2g PRO, 22 CARBS, 1 FAT

Total: 204g PRO, 603g CARBS, 169g FAT


Female B / Weight Loss Goal

Breakfast– 3 scrambled eggs, half tomato, half mini cucumber and coffee;
21g protein, 22g fat, 7g carbs

Snack – 2 rice cakes with salami
11g protein, 10g fat, 19g carbs

Lunch – marinara meat sauce and zucchini noodles
34g protein, 10g fat, 10g carbs

Snack –protein waffles
28g protein, 11g fat, 32g carbs

Dinner – carnitas and sweet potato fries
29g protein, 15g fat, 30g carbs

*water throughout the day

Total: 1639 calories, 125g protein, 69g fat, 109g carbs


The intake examples listed above share a few common practices:

  1. Large percentage of whole foods 
  2. Protein at meals & snacks
  3. Evenly spaced nutrient consumption
  4. Water intake
  5. Nutrient intake based on daily activity


These food logs are shown as an illustration of what is working for 3 different people with 3 different goals.  This is not intended to be an example of how you should eat, but rather a reference point of the common practices that are a part of any healthy diet.  

*Please consult your physician or a Registered Dietician if your dietary needs are based on the treatment of a health condition.    

Yogurt Review


This review will be a little different from those I’ve done in the past.  I love to try new products, and when I have questions on “best brands” of certain foods I often as my friend Amelia Seith.  She is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach with Rise.  My reviews are based on the taste and texture of the brands, while she focuses on the ingredients and nutrition facts.  The prices are based on Heinen’s grocery store, so that and availability may vary based on where you shop.


Oikos Triple Zero – Peach ($1.25) – I thought this was great.  It has the thicker texture like most Greek yogurts, but its blended well and the peach flavor was very good. Another benefit is that they offer a wide variety of flavors.  This yogurt is a healthy pick because it has 15 grams of protein per servings and unlike most other yogurt brands it also has 6 grams of fiber.  Additionally, it is free of artificial sweeteners and instead uses stevia leaf extract with makes this the lowest sugar yogurt on the list.



Siggi’s – Blueberry ($1.79) – This has become a popular brand of Icelandic yogurt, and for good reason.  It’s got good smooth texture and no sour or tart after-taste.  Icelandic yogurts typically use 4 cups of milk per carton of yogurt, while Greek yogurts use 3 cups of milk per carton.  Both are strained to remove the liquid whey, resulting in a thicker product.  Siggi’s is another excellent yogurt pick because of its super simple ingredient list (5 or less) and high protein content.  It lacks the fiber of Oikos Triple Zero and has a few extra grams of sugar because it uses cane sugar instead of stevia, but it still really packs in the protein by providing 15 grams per serving.

20160615_154724 (3)


Viking – Strawberry ($1.50) – This brand caught my eye because it said it had more protein than sugar.  Turns out it’s also very good.  It’s thick and filling, and had no artificial taste like some flavored yogurts do.  Viking is very comparable to Siggi’s both in terms of taste and it’s nutritional profile.  It also has a simple ingredient list, sweetened with cane sugar, and just slightly higher amounts of sugar (14 gms) and protein (17 gms).



Powerful Yogurt – Apple Cinnamon ($1.99) – The carton had abs on it, so I had to try it.  Marketing at its finest, folks!  I also thought it was pretty good.  The yogurt sits on top of the apples, so you do have to dig down to stir it all together.  I will say that the flavor was a little too sweet for my liking, as most yogurts with fruit puree in them are.  It’s likely so sweet because it packs 20 grams of sugar!  The sugar comes from the apples and natural cane sugar, but also contains stevia extract.  While it may be the highest in sugar, it is also the highest in protein, coming in at 21 grams.  Another plus is the simple ingredient list.



Coconut So Delicious – Chocolate ($1.99) – I really liked the flavor.  It was rich and tasted like dark chocolate pudding.  However, the texture is not like normal yogurts.  It’s much thinner that traditional dairy yogurts. I think it would be great in smoothies, or as a base for add-ins like granola, nuts, or fruit.  This is definitely a  good dairy-free alternative, but from a nutrition standpoint it is really lacking in protein (1 gram).  To make this a better snack or meal, you could easily add a scoop of protein powder.  While the ingredient list isn’t as simple as some of the others, this yogurt is fortified with calcium and one serving provides 30% of the daily value, making this the highest calcium item on the list.  All other yogurts range from 15-20% of the daily value.

20160620_085736 (1)



Almond Dream – Vanilla ($1.99) – This had decent flavor, but was even more watery than the Coconut So Delicious.  It might be okay if you were adding things to it, or used it to make chia seed pudding.  It seemed expensive for something that didn’t really fill me up.  Very similar to So Delicious, this yogurt also packs in the sugar (17 grams), yet has very little protein (1 gram).

almond dream


Since reviewing these yogurts, I have been purchasing Oikos Triple Zero nearly every week.  Many times they are on sale for $1.00 a piece, which I think is a great deal.  I also like So Delicious – vanilla with protein powder added is really good!  Thanks to Amelia for breaking down the nutrition facts and ingredient lists – I don’t always remember to look where the sugar comes from, and had never even noticed to % DV of calcium before.  As with all of my reviews, this is just based on my opinion and the brands that caught my eye at the store.  If anyone has any other brands they like, I’d love to hear about them.





Despite the benefits of high intensity exercise, it may decrease exercise adherence, but why?

Whether you are a competitive athlete training to increase performance, someone looking to lose weight and improve body composition, or someone just trying to improve vitality and longevity, physical activity has been shown to help achieve these goals.


In this post I am going to share some general exercise guidelines regarding time and intensity, show you a simple field test to help you understand training intensity, and share some research on how training at a high intensity could be hurting your adherence to your exercise program. If you can understand these concepts, it will help you select the proper exercise program and help you regulate your intensity to trouble shoot some problems you may encounter down the road.

How Much Exercise and What Type

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services:

Recommendations for Basic Fitness Recommendations for Advanced Fitness
Exercise recommendations for substantial health benefits For additional and more extensive health and performance benefits
150 minutes a week of moderate intensity training 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity training
Or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity Or 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity
Or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week. Or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

This boils down to 30-60 minutes a day of moderate exercise, OR 10-30 minutes a day of vigorous (high intensity) exercise and resistance training.

 However, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services:

  • approximately 40% of adults in the United States report no regular physical activity
  • 49.2% Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who met the Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity
  • 20.8% Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who met the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic physical and muscle-strengthening activity

The Benefits of High Intensity

What recently seems to be growing more popular is the idea of incorporating shorter, more vigorous workouts that are  capable of producing the same, if not better, results.

In my years of experience in the performance world and now part of the fitness industry, individuals who begin an exercise program tend to have high expectations.  If these are not met within a short period of time, it can lead to disappointment and dropout.

High-intensity proponents have attempted to show that exercising VIGOROUSLY can increase the amount of calories burned both during and after exercise and lead to faster weight loss, muscle building, improvements in body composition, and the accrual of health and fitness benefits in less time.


The Drawbacks of High Intensity 

According to the research, exercise intensity that exceeds the point of transition from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism is accompanied by a steep decline in affective valence. In other words, it made the idea of exposure to this sensation less attractive in the future.

A steep decline in mood and an increasing urgency to cease activity was an accurate predictor of each individual’s threshold points.

In laboratory testing this effect consistently coincided with data that lactate and ventilatory thresholds had been reached. Reaching and exceeding the threshold point of metabolism known as lactate threshold has been shown to decrease pleasure during exercise. Typically the sensations of burning muscles, shortness of breath, sweating, the urge to stop activity  immediately, metallic taste in your mouth, etc.

Not surprising that as exercise got more difficult people wanted to stop, but why is this relevant to you?

According to Ekkekakis et al, this marker may be useful in aiding exercisers, trainers, and coaches to recognize the transition to anaerobic metabolism and, thus, more effectively self-monitor and self-regulate the intensity of their efforts all while balancing out the training process in hopes of improving adherence and showing improvements.


Examples of each type of workout

Steady state training (aerobic)

5 rounds @ performed at a sustainable pace
400m row
100m overhead plate carry
15 cal dyne
20 alternating battle rope slams
30sec bent hollow holds

Resistance training + High Intensity Interval Anaerobic training

A1. goblet squat @3010; 3×8-10; 30s rest
A2. ring row @3010; 3×6-8; 30s rest
B1. Russian step ups 3×6-8/leg; 30s rest
B2. pushups 3×3-5; 30s rest
6-8 sets @ hard effort
50m heavy sled push
2min passive rest or rest walk

What you Should Take Away from this Information

If you begin an exercise program that is consistently worsening your mood and increasing the likelihood you will avoid it, then it is VERY likely at some point you will.

In my experience, the best training program, no matter what your goals may be, is one that you can dowill do, and consistently choose to do!

Developing a systematic, multi-year plan may allow you to stick to the program long enough and stay injury free so that you can get to your desired fitness levels.

Coaches and trainers should continue to educate themselves and explore each individual’s goals and limitations. Identify each person’s threshold and respect that intensity is a relative term when it comes to exercise. There should be systems in place to scale and modify exercise when needed. Coaches should understand anaerobic metabolism and modes of training and differentiate them from aerobic training. It is their job to be a facilitator to help clients find the ideal combinations for their goals and lifestyles.

If clients are educated on the effects and the purpose of different modes of exercise, they have a better chance of adhering to a fitness program in order to achieve their goals.



Ekkekakis P1, Hall EE, Petruzzello SJ. Practical markers of the transition from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism during exercise: rationale and a case for affect-based exercise prescription. Prev Med. 2004 Feb;38(2):149-59.
Ekkekakis P1, Parfitt G, Petruzzello SJ. The pleasure and displeasure people feel when they exercise at different intensities: decennial update and progress towards a tripartite rationale for exercise intensity prescription.  Sports Med. 2011 Aug 1;41(8):641-71. doi: 10.2165/11590680-000000000-00000.
Ekkekakis P1, Hall EE, Petruzzello SJ. The relationship between exercise intensity and affective responses demystified: to crack the 40-year-old nut, replace the 40-year-old nutcracker! Ann Behav Med. 2008 Apr;35(2):136-49. doi: 10.1007/s12160-008-9025-z. Epub 2008 Mar 28.





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