I have received many questions about counting calories, so I thought I would share my thoughts after using both approaches in my personal journey to health. In general, I do think that counting calories, especially at first can be beneficial for someone who is just starting to read nutrition labels and get familiar with their bodies needs. However, I always suggest that the ultimate goal to aim for is to listen to your body, rather than counting calories long term.
Counting calories in the beginning of a weight loss journey can be helpful because you can get a realistic sense of how to space out calories throughout your day to best fuel your body, and you get familiar with portion sizes in general. On the other hand, when it comes to maintaining this long-term, counting calories really isn’t realistic, and it can even become obsessive if taken to the extreme.
I personally found that counting calories for about a month in the beginning of my journey worked well for me, because it allowed me to get familiar with how to space calories out throughout my day in a way that made me feel energized throughout the day. After becoming ‘familiar’ with proper portion sizes, I decided to stop tracking calories and start to listen to my body’s natural hunger cues.
Although I don’t track calories anymore, I still pay attention to the amount of calories, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, and protein in the foods I am eating. However, this is more about being informed and aware of what I am putting in my body. For example, something may seem healthy, especially with all of the tricky labels out there, but if you don’t pay attention or do any planning on your part, you could easily end up taking in a lot of calories, fat, and sugar without even realizing it.
So, although I am aware of what I am eating, I don’t keep a running total of calories for the day on paper, or in general. Here are a few reasons why I don’t count calories:
1. Eating out, and eating with friends and family can get tricky. In general, if you are tracking food and you don’t know how many calories, points, etc. are in something, this can lead to anxiety… Or even a ‘bingeing’ mentality, when you throw all care out the window because you don’t know what to write down. Instead, when I am at a get-together, I try to pick the healthiest choices that I see and make it my goal to focus more on enjoying the people I’m with rather than on the food. If I do pick a dessert or something that I know isn’t so healthy, then I stick to one portion, and really spend time enjoying each bite, or I share it.
2. If you count calories, you can actually over eat. If you count calories, then chances are you will feel like you need to finish every single bite, even if you are truly full, in an effort to track the calories properly! This is a bit crazy if you think about it, because God really did put a signal inside each one of us to tell us we are satisfied for a reason! When I was first learning to pay attention to my body, I would take a few bites, put my fork down, and really pay attention to how I felt. Then, when I felt like my stomach was satisfied, I stopped, and saved the rest for later. Sure, it was tough to do this at first, and it does take practice (and prayer) in the beginning, but eventually you will be so in tune with your body, you won’t even have to think twice about it!
3. It can lead to bingeing. For me personally, counting calories led to binges when I let myself have a day off of counting. This was most likely because I felt like I had to use the ‘freedom from tracking’ to it’s fullest by eating whatever came across my path. Again, this is not entirely logical if you think about it, because there will always be another chance to eat any certain type of food again. However, on the days that I wasn’t counting calories, I felt as though I had to eat everything like it was my last chance to eat, knowing that the very next day I was going to be back to tracking.
Those are just a few of the reasons I don’t advocate counting calories long term. On that note, I will say that everyone is different, and everyone has different things that work for them. So, all that being said, if tracking is what works for you! In general, I would say that it is better to have some kind of plan than no plan at all!
A realistic way of incorporating all that I have just discussed would be to start counting calories for about a month or so, just so that you can get an idea of how much to eat, and become familiar with composing meals that are a good balance of protein and fiber to keep you satisfied. There are a couple ways you can do this, but you may want to start by using My Fitness Pal, (which is a free website/i Phone app that has all Dashing Dish recipes already plugged in), or Weight Watchers, (which my recipes also include).
With that foundation established, you should be able to move onto truly listening to your body, and eating until you are satisfied. Like I said, this may seem ‘strange’ at first, but that is how God created our bodies to function! He gave us the ability to know when we are hungry, and full, so we would eat only what our bodies truly need! Also, with this approach, I find that it is easier to put the focus on eating healthy and nutritious foods rather than all the numbers.
When combined with the main principals of healthy eating, (limiting amount of processed foods and sugar, trying to get a good balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats with meals, and filling up on healthy snacks in between meals), you should be able to maintain a healthy weight in a way that is sustainable for life!
Traveling can be so refreshing. It is a time away from the every day ‘routine’ and a time to rest and relax! This can also mean a time of seriously getting off track when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To some to degree, this can be a good thing- I always think it is good to change things up from time to time, so I take this opportunity to try some new foods, enjoy a few treats, and shake up my workouts!
However, if you don’t plan ahead, it can definitely go from being a good ‘change’ to a bad one, especially if you find yourself completely skimping out on fiber, water, and indulge in too much sugar and processed foods. Without some sort of balance, I can tell you from past experience that it is only a matter of time before you start to notice that your body (especially your digestive system) will not be happy!
For that reason, I always make sure I plan ahead when I travel and bring some healthy snacks and options with me. I hope this inspires you guys to plan ahead and pack some of your own favorite healthy treats on your next vacation! In the end, I can promise that your body will thank you!
For snacks I like to bring fruit, particularly apples because they are high in fiber and lower in sugar. They also keep fresh for a long time, and you can even buy individual nut butter packets to have with them for a well rounded snack. I also like to bring a small bag of baby carrots. I am not a huge fan of eating them once they are warm, so I try to eat those first when I’m on a long car ride, or I bring a small cooler or lunch bag if possible. I also enjoy small 100 calorie bags of popcorn on trips, because let’s face it, sometimes you need something salty and crunchy! I found this amazing kettle corn at Trader Joes, and it is amazing! Lightly salted roasted almonds are always a great snack as well. I buy the 100 calorie pack since they are higher in calories.
Whenever I travel, I try to pack some good sources of protein that are portable. The best option I have found when I don’t have access to a cooler or fridge is protein powder and peanut flour. I also bring oats with me and make peanut butter protein oatmeal with just a little water, oats, stevia, peanut flour, and protein powder! You would be amazed at how good it tastes and how much it fills you up!
I also enjoy protein bars when I travel, because there are times when you need protein, and fast! I like Mojo, Quest, Chocolite, and Think Thins! The main thing to look at with bars is the calories, protein, and sugar! I always check to make sure the calories are not much over 200 per bar, the sugar is less than 10 grams, and the protein is around 10-20 grams per bar.
I don’t always bring wrap bread with me, but if I am going somewhere that I can prepare my own food (and I will have a kitchen and fridge), then I like to bring a few packs of high fiber wraps with me. Wrap sandwiches are great for packing up in a cooler and taking with you to the beach for example! Jospeph’s and La Tortilla are my favorite brands. High fiber bran crackers are also a great thing to have around for a quick snack! I like to put a little peanut butter and low sugar jelly on them or some tuna salad!
I love to bring a water bottle with me just about everywhere I go. I like to fill it up with ice water and carry a few all natural drink mixes around in my purse! That way I always stay hydrated, without filling up on chemicals, sugar, or calories that are in most beverages! Another great quick and healthy beverage option that that travels well is my Protein Iced Coffee recipe! If you bring a shaker bottle, a packed of instant coffee, protein powder, and stevia, then it only requires that you have access to cold water (and/or ice water) on the road, and you have delicious and protein packed coffee treat!
If possible, I like to make a batch of my homemade muffins to bring with me. I love bringing muffins to snack on because they taste delicious and are packed with protein and fiber to keep me satisfied for a long time! They also stay good for about 1 week, which is perfect for a trip!
And last but not least, I do like to bring a few different flavors of gum. Now, I am the first to admit that there are chemicals in sugar free gum, but to me, if you chew it in moderation, I feel like it’s better than chewing on sugary gum anytime, especially when it comes to my teeth. I like the dessert gums by Extra, Orbit and Trident flavors!
These are just a few ideas of some of my favorite travel snacks and treats! Of course, it really depends on the type of trip you are going on, how you are traveling, and where you are going, but I almost always try to plan ahead and pack accordingly. Being prepared and planning ahead is one of the best things you could do when traveling! I also always carry stevia packets in my purse (I like to use them in my coffee), and I try to always have a protein bar in my purse as well just in case!
Also, if you are able to bring a cooler with you on your trip, some great options to pack are:
Overall, when I am on vacation, I try to be really flexible and enjoy new things…That is what vacation is about after all! However, I try to pick healthier options, and get active in some way every day! If you are traveling this summer, I hope this provided some ideas for your next trip!
If you are looking to find any of these items, many of them can be found on my Favorite Products List!
It is time to take a stand. A stand for real beauty.
While the world measures beauty by waist size and perfect skin, Beauty Revived is looking for real, beautiful women. We are looking for the women who show their beauty through their courage, kindness and strength.
For too long we have let others’ faulty expectations and perceptions make us feel less than we are. We have allowed others to wound our confidence because we don’t fit the mold they have created for us. No more.
Beauty isn’t about your size, your shape or your clothes. Beauty is found in kindness, courage and compassion. Lets stand together and revive the real meaning of beauty.
Don’t believe me!? Take a moment to think about a woman who shines and radiates beauty…and just the thought of her makes you think of someone who is undeniably lovely.
Do you know a woman like this!? A woman that exudes beauty from the inside out!? If you do…we want to hear about her!
I am joining with photographers across the country to host the first America’s 50 Most Beautiful Women’s campaign, called Beauty Revived! We want you to join with us and to nominate someone you know! In doing so, we hope to re-define beauty one step at a time!
Some amazing photographers from across the country are joining together as Beauty Revived reps. I am joining with them to host the first America’s 50 Most Beautiful Women’s campaign! One woman will be chosen to represent each state. Those women chosen will be given a photo session by a Beauty Revived photographer and her story and pictures will be featured on the Beauty Revived site and in their magazine this Fall.
The rules to nominate are simple:
-Any woman in the U.S. can be nominated
-Woman can be any age and shape
-Woman should be nominated because of their real, inner beauty.
-One woman will be chosen to represent each state, be given a Beauty Revived photo session and be featured in an upcoming Beauty Revived magazine.
Here’s what you need to do:
-Find someone who is truly beautiful
-Offer them a free session to tell their story
-Submit your pictures and your story to be featured on Beauty Revived by July 20-29, 2015
If you struggle with emotional eating, or you find yourself running to food in times of stress, I can assure you that you are not alone. In fact, in many ways our society celebrates running to food to cope with emotions!
If you feel that you are lost in a vicious cycle of emotional eating, there is hope. In fact, I can speak from personal experience when I tell you that you can be free from all bondage from any food related strongholds. Not only do I know this personally, but the bible tells us that in Jesus we can have freedom in every area of our lives, but ultimately we are the ones that decide if we are going to walk in that freedom, (1 Peter 2:16).
I have found that freedom often exists in its fullness when we run to God and allow Him to help us spiritually, but we also do our part physically. This is what I am referring to when I say that there is a ‘spiritual and physical’ side to things. When it comes to emotional eating for example, we have a choice to walk away and say no to temptation, and to run to God instead of food, and to which is us doing our part (the physical). And when we go to God, He will comfort us, love on us, and empower us to overcome the emotional battle we are facing (the spiritual).
Spiritually speaking, we can overcome emotional eating by allowing the Holy Spirit to change our mindset in this area. All we have to do is ask the Holy Spirit to show us when we are about to eat out of feelings of stress or emotion, (The bible tells us that God gave us the Holy Spirit as our guide, who will lead us into all truth, John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is our helper, and when you ask Him to help you with something, or show you something, you can have peace and faith knowing that He is working on your behalf to help you.
I have also found that it helps me personally to ask for the Holy Spirit gives me that little ‘nudge’ that I am about to eat when I am not even hungry, or out of emotion. I then physically make the choice to remove myself from the kitchen, which is ultimately removing myself from that place of temptation. Next, I usually start praying, asking God to help me to operate in the fruits of the spirit, love, joy peace, self control. If the temptation is not going away immediately, I start to speak the Word of God out loud, which is how Jesus resisted temptation when He was tested, (Matthew 4:1-11). When we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil with the Word of God, we have a promise that he must flee from us, (James 4:7).
On the physical side of things, I suggest finding some activities that allow you to unwind, that don’t relate to food. There is nothing wrong with eating when you are truly hungry, and enjoying treats in moderation…However, if you are finding that you are eating out of emotions, or you are using food as a way to cope or to relax, you truly do want to break free from that, and Jesus can and will help you do that when you turn to Him!
Here are some resources that may help you in on your journey!
1. Enjoy Fresh Summer Fruit & Veggies. Take advantage of in season fresh produce and farmers markets. Also, wash and cut produce right away all at once so it is ready to eat, and to cut down on prep time in the kitchen!
2. Make Your Own Frozen & Iced Drinks. Skip the sugary frozen drinks and high calorie and high sugar fruit drinks and sweetened iced tea and swap it out for a home made healthy version instead! Check out the Dashing Dish shakes & smoothies, iced coffee, and try out True Lemon drink mix packets or make your own lemonade or iced tea sweetened with stevia!
3. Plan Ahead when Traveling. When traveling, pack some healthy snacks and/or meals to go! Some great options for snacks are protein bars, apples, nuts, or even some homemade Dashing Dish protein packed snacks! For meals, try packing some wrap sandwiches or salads in a cooler along with some Greek yogurt, string cheese, carrots and fruit! This will save you time, money, and prevent unhealthy choices!
4. Make Your Own Frozen Treats. Instead of buying ice cream for home, make your own Dashing Dish ice cream, popsicles, and sorbet! This will save you tons of unwanted sugar and calories, and you can still enjoy your favorite frozen treats in a clean, healthy way!
Comparison is the thief of joy. We’ve all heard it. We’ve talked about it here before. It’s truth! However, while it is true, sometimes guarding against comparison is easier said than done. Do you ever ask, “how do I practically guard my heart and mind against comparison?” If so, I pray this small tip will bless you!
The Bible warns against comparing ourselves to one another and says that doing so is unwise. I’d like to share one small way He’s shown me how to practically apply this to my life.
I love working out at the gym. Gym workouts truly are a time of restoration physically and spiritually for me. I enjoy the social aspect at times, and other times love putting in my earbuds and worshiping in quiet solitude on the treadmill. Although I truly enjoy it, I realized one day how vulnerable I am to comparing myself to others at the gym in particular. I began to pay attention and notice how often I would be moving right along in joy and peace and out of nowhere suddenly feel deflated, envious, or a bit joyless after “admiring” someone else’s body. The Lord quickly showed me that what I called admiring was actually comparing. I wasn’t simply seeing the good in their bodies; I was deeming my own body as “bad” in comparison. It wasn’t healthy, nor was it holy.
I took this before the Lord for help. In response, He gave me what I now call “gym vision”. I’ve adopted the habit of praying and asking Him to give me 20/20 “gym vision” before I enter the gym every time I go. It’s been a huge blessing!
So what is gym vision? I asked Him to give me the ability to experience complete and total tunnel vision with my physical eyes when I’m in the gym. I prayed that I would literally not be able to notice the bodies around me, or even look down at my own body (my legs are always a source of comparison), but rather I would only see with my spirit. I would only be able to see Him.
I also prayed that I would have incredible peripheral vision spiritually. I sincerely asked that He would literally keep me from seeing a person physically and only allow me to see them spiritually. Lord, I asked, will you draw my glance to people who need prayer and cause me to instantly pray for them. Or, draw me to those who need to be ministered to by you today?
When I asked God to give me gym vision, the experience of being there took on a whole new meaning. Now, not only is it a time of refreshing for me physically, it’s also a time of refreshing spiritually as I dedicate that time to glorifying the Lord, seeking Him, and interceding for those around me rather than comparing myself to them. It’s so rewarding to enjoy the gift of noticing spirits more than bodies! If the gym is a place where you struggle with comparison, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to try this! Ask the Lord today to give you gym vision! You will not believe the blessing of being freed from the heavy yoke of comparison as you walk in freedom, joy and peace, all while caring for your body!
When it comes to breaking free from bondage, I have found that many people often dread the work that comes with being free…And to be honest, I completely understand! I don’t know about you, but just hearing the phrase, “breaking free from bondage” seems strenuous and down-right uncomfortable! This is especially true for many people when it comes to losing weight, or reaching a health or fitness goal.
After years of working with people, and experiencing change in many areas of my own life, I have come to find that the reason change often seems so difficult is that we are trying to make it happen backwards! The bible says in Proverbs 23:7, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This means that if you are ever going to experience freedom in any area, you are going to have to start to see yourself as free on the inside before you see it on the outside.
I have learned that lasting change in any area truly starts and takes place right in between your ears, or in our minds. We must realize that we have an enemy, the devil, and he can only attack us in one area, in our minds, and he does so with lies and deception. One of the most common lies that the enemy tries to get us trapped in is to make us think that we are, (and will always be) slaves and in bondage to things. He comes at us with this lie because he knows that as long as he can get you to believe that you are a slave to a certain habit, behavior, or thing, you will never be able to break free, which is right where he wants you to stay.
The good news is however is that Christ came to set us free from ALL bondage! In fact, if you are born again, the Bible says you are ALREADY free. “Whom the son has set free, is free indeed” (John 8:36). This means that when you ask Jesus to be your Savior, that you are free from the power that sin once had over you.
I like to think of it it like a person who is in a jail cell with the door locked, and when Jesus comes along, He comes and unlocks the door, and says, “come on out, your free!” But just as we are about to step out, the devil says “wait, who told you that you could leave? You are not really free, and you never will be. You will be in bondage to this thing, habit, or lifestyle forever!” And so, the born again believer stays in the jail cell, with the door wide open, when all they needed to do was take a step out into freedom!
Taking this step into freedom does require action on our part, and it takes effort to Renew our Minds with God’s Word, and learn our identity in Christ. The first step often requires us humbling ourselves before the Lord, and repenting of our behaviors that are not glorifying to Him, and ask for His help to change. He will always be there to respond to our cry, and He is a good Father that loves and desires to take our hand and lead us into freedom.
The next step is getting into the Word of God, and asking God to renew our minds, and help us to see ourselves as the overcomer that He has created us to be. It also means praying specifically about the things that we desire change in on a daily (sometimes multiple times a day) basis!
This process of walking into total freedom can often happen in steps and stages, like peeling back layers on an onion. The reason for this is simply because many of us have lived in bondage to things for many years and it often takes time for our minds to be renewed, and our hearts to respond to the Lord and change. The important thing to remember however, is that God has already given you everything you need to walk in total victory and freedom in every area of your life, and the very first step is to see yourself as you truly are in Christ…totally and completely set free!
My 30th birthday was very special, as I was surprised by my older sister Sarah and her husband Phil this past weekend with a surprise trip to Chicago!
Sarah and Phil picked up my husband and myself, and my younger sister Emily and her husband Brett early Friday morning, and we drove to Chicago! When we arrived, I got the surprise of a lifetime when we pulled into the Trump Hotel in Chicago! It is a beautiful hotel from the outside, but even more stunning on the inside!
My sisters went in ahead of time and decorated the room with banners, sparkling zevia (a stevia sweetened sparkling drink, so good), and Sprinkles cupcakes!
Sarah ordered the infamous Sprinkles peanut butter cup cupcakes especially for me! This was a very special treat, since I don’t eat cupcakes often, much less Sprinkles cupcakes! But hey- on your birthday, everyone can and should enjoy a cupcake! ;)
Our view from the room was simply breathtaking!
Sarah went all out to make sure I felt celebrated and had so much fun!
The weather in Chicago was beautiful! A sunny 80 degrees the whole time we were there! So, we went out to walk around the city and do a little shopping.
For dinner Sarah and Phil took us to a sushi restaurant. I generally don’t eat much sushi, but I loved trying new things, and trying some of the sushi rolls! I had a Thai style dish with chicken which was really good!
Chicago is a beautiful city at night as well! We ended up going back to the room and enjoying our cupcakes and opening gifts. It was such a fun day and evening being with my favorite people in one of my favorite cities!
I woke up feeling terribly sick on Saturday, and I ended up feeling so bad that I stayed in the hotel room the entire day, (I’m thinking it may have been food poisoning). I was so disappointed, feeling like I was wasting the day away in bed, but I knew that God would restore the day to me on Sunday, and He sure did! Not only did we receive countless unexpected blessings on Sunday, but I woke up feeling 100% better, the sun was shining when it was supposed to be raining, and it ended up feeling like two days in one! We spent the day enjoying all that Chicago had to offer on Sunday! We woke up and had brunch, and did a little shopping!
We also took a tour by horse drawn carriage around the city! Such a neat experience!
We also went to visit Millenium Park…
And of course went to see the famous bean!
We also did some shopping at some of the unique shops that Chicago has to offer, such as Hershey’s store! :) My sisters and I took this picture for a tribute to my dad since it was fathers day! We call my dad ‘Mr. Chocolate’ because he loves chocolate so much! ;)
And of course if you don’t know it yet, I am a huge peanut butter cup fan, so I figured what better way to enjoy Reese’s than a cup of coffee in a Reese’s mug!?!
Also, how amazing are these 1 lb Reeses cups!?! They would certainly not make you feel amazing, but pretty amazing none the less! ;)
For dinner we went to Grand Lux Cafe, which is owned by the same company as Cheesecake Factory, so it is very similar! I got the Manhattan salad, which was huge, and loaded with veggies, chicken, and tons of wonderful toppings! We finished off the trip with some frozen yogurt (of course), and headed home with full hearts, (and stomachs)! :)
Thank you every for all the sweet birthday wishes, and a special thank you to Sarah and Phil for blessing me beyond belief with this incredible birthday trip that I will never forget!
As far as turning 30, well I am actually really excited about being in my 30′s! My 20′s were sure a time of pruning, growing, and learning who I was…and boy were there growing pains!!! Not to say that I won’t still be learning and growing pains in my 30′s, but it sure makes a difference when you are learning from a place of knowing WHO and WHO’s you are!!
Summer is here, which means kids are out of school, and snacks will be enjoyed at home all summer long! Whip up any of these quick and easy snacks, and you are sure to have healthy happy kids! Simply click on the picture to go to the recipe!