Healthy Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping must be done with intent. Prepare a list of healthy foods to purchase, don’t browse. Must junk food choices are impulse purchases.
Half of the battle against eating junk food is fought at the grocery store. If you don’t buy it, you don’t bring it home and it isn’t there to eat. It’s okay to have a few junk foods in your house—everyone needs a treat now and again—but only buy them in small quantities. Don’t keep too many high-calorie, low-nutrition snacks on hand. And don’t use your kids as an excuse to buy cookies and candy. In fact, if you have kids, all the more reason not to buy junk food—they need healthy choices for snacking, too!

Never grocery shop when you have an empty stomach. When you’re hungry you are more likely to buy foods that won’t support your fitness goals.

When grocery shopping, visit stores that have a wide range of choices of organically grown fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, fresh fish, and chicken that haven’t been treated with hormones. The labels on these foods will be marked to tell you if they are organic or not. Organic foods are not grown/raised/produced with chemicals, preservatives, or additives. Although it does cost a bit more to buy organic products, I can’t think of a better investment than your food. You are what you eat.
Your grocery list should include fruits, vegetables, leans meats, whole grains and oats, water, olive oil, and some healthy snacks.
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Action Steps to Replace Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

When you answer those questions and see patterns of eating behaviors that work against you, cultivate replacement behaviors that directly address the root problem. For example, if you normally eat when you are lonely or bored, make a date with a friend to do something together that allows you to bond with the other person—like taking a walk. Try to plan activities in advance during the hours you tend to be most vulnerable to overeating. Some alternatives to eating that my clients have found helpful include:

• Learning how to play an instrument
• Joining a book club
• Learning a new skill
• Dating
• Spending time with your spouse or children
• Attending sporting events or concerts
• Practicing a hobby that requires your hands to stay clean or keep busy, such as sewing, crafting, or building models (or anything that keeps your hands too busy to put things in your mouth!)

Having a hobby can be an especially helpful diversion from mindless eating. It can often be done with family or friends—allowing time for socialization—but can also fill quiet hours for those of you who might otherwise find yourselves midnight snacking.

The objective is to find anything you can do to improve yourself and replace former self-sabotaging behaviors. Maybe you will even fall in love with your new endeavor and find another new passion!

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Food Journal

Start a food journal. It’s essential to be honest and use great detail. This can be as simple as keeping a notebook in your kitchen or workplace, or updating a note on your PDA, or entering thoughts on a calendar. There are also websites such as,, and, as well as plenty of easy-to-
use apps that allow you to track food intake. You can also make it a section in your fitness journal.

Whatever software or system you use, just remember to find one that lets you track your emotional state at each
meal. This can be an important component of whether a fitness program works or doesn’t work. Also, choose software or apps that make sense to you and keep the process simple.

In your food journal, focus on more than just calories.

• Be sure to give the date and time of each meal.
• Write what you are eating before you eat it. Doing so will make you pay attention to what you are about to put into your body and will make you more conscious of your decisions, which usually leads to making healthier choices.
• Write how you are feeling at the time of your meal. When you document your behavior in connection with your emotions, some surprising correlations can be found.

Each morning, take a look at the previous day’s entries. You may start to recognize trends. Is there a time of day that you find you are susceptible to overeating or making poor choices? Are you seeing certain emotions connected to eating certain foods? Watch for trends of negative feelings involved with eating or that cause cravings to eat. Ask yourself:

• Do I eat because I feel lonely, sad or depressed?
• Do I eat as self-punishment for not looking the way I think I am “supposed” to look?
• Do I tend to eat when I am bored?
• Do I eat to avoid loneliness? Do I see meals as a social event?

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Food and Emotion

Take a look at why you are eating, what you are eating, and when you are eating. How do you feel emotionally before you eat? What is your relationship with certain foods? Take time to analyze your food habits before you start to make changes in your lifestyle. If you don’t understand your current lifestyle, the fitness and weight-loss
strategies that you employ may not work, or the results won’t last long-term. How you relate to food is just as important as what you eat.
One of my clients, a healthy and fit executive who had exercised his whole life, struggled to reach his fitness goals, regardless of his dedication in the gym. He was a healthy eater: he always ate whole grains and fresh vegetables, he never smoked, and he didn’t drink alcohol or even carbonated drinks. He shied away from anything resembling junk food. Yet, as he had approached his mid-forties, his waistline continued to
In exploring his nutrition and food habits we identified two important issues. First, while he only ate healthy
food, he ate a lot of it—often 3,000 calories a day for someone who should have been eating no more than 2,200. Second, he had a strong tendency, when stressed, to snack on (although healthy) high-calorie foods like almonds and pistachios. I had to explain to him that the only difference between a man who consumes 3,000 calories of good food each day and a man who consumes 3,000 calories of junk food, is that one guy feels a lot better than the other.  However, both individuals will be overweight.

Identifying triggers and causes for his weight gain helped him better control his eating habits.

For many people like my client eating can be a way of dealing with anxiety and stress. This isn’t just a mental or emotional issue, it is a physiological one: food has the power to influence how we feel. Sugar increases serotonin levels, and serotonin makes us feel happy. When we are stressed, we want to feel happier, so we crave sugary
foods to increase serotonin. This makes you much more likely to eat unhealthy foods, even though logically you know you shouldn’t.
Keep in mind as you work to make changes in your diet that feeling stronger through eating well also increases serotonin. As you work to make yourself healthier, you will also be making yourself happier. You can create serotonin on your own without turning to the sugary food to do it for you.
Another client told me the personal struggle she had with food addiction because of certain traumatic losses in her life. The easiest way to deal with the continuing feelings of guilt and anguish caused by these losses was to eat. She felt that food was the one thing she could count on to be there for her.
Because food was such an emotional hot button for her, no amount of diets or personal trainers could change her weight. She had to work on solving the underlying issues that caused her overeating before she could make real changes to her eating habits.

It wasn’t until she sought help from a licensed therapist that she began to see real progress with her fitness and weight goals.

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Supplements Specific to Bulking Up vs. Toning Up

When building or toning muscle you want to make sure you are getting all of the vitamins you need. Consider taking a multi-vitamin. Also, for both processes you want to build lean muscle tissue. For this I recommend:

• Whey protein and casein protein help the body to rebuild the muscle tissues that were broken down during the workout. Take protein before and after your workouts.

• Fish oils help the body to recover and help to keep the body in a muscle-building state. Take fish oils throughout the day as per the directions on the bottle.

Other supplements that I have found specifically helpful with the bulking up process:

• Creatine, in particular, helps with bulking up because it provides more energy for lifting heavier weights and helps you recover from short bursts of intense exercise. Take creatine about two hours before you lift weights.

• Glutamine is a great supplement for helping your body recover. Take glutamine before and after your workouts.

A Note on Fat-Burning and/or Weight-Loss Pills

I get a lot of questions on the effectiveness of various fat-burning pills—whether they work and whether they are safe. A majority of fat-burning pills are mainly caffeine pills. Those that are can provide an energy boost if taken before your workout, but others have ingredients that can over-stimulate your heart rate, such as ephedra. Before ever taking any of these kinds of supplements,seriously consult with your physician. My personal recommendation is to stay with more natural products and get your heart rate up the old fashioned way: good hard work!

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Supplements can be added to your nutrition program but they are just that: supplementary to a good diet. Don’t rely on them too much. Get your nutrition from whole foods first, supplements second. Supplements can help you reach your goals but stick with the ones that have been highly researched and have some data backing them up.

There are pros and cons to using supplements, and most are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so choose wisely before purchasing them.

I have used each one of the following supplements personally as well as suggested many of these to clients. Research the brands and check with your doctor about both the supplement itself and how much you are interested in taking.

• BCAA supplements—used for recovery and keeping the body in an anabolic state

• Casein protein— protein shake derived from milk; great for preventing a catabolic state (muscle wasting)

• Creatine—used for ATP production (energy); it helps to replace the energy that is used when you weight lift or do sprinting activities, so you can train at higher intensities

• Egg protein—eggs are considered one of the most efficiently absorbed proteins available

• Essential fatty acids—multiple sources of fats that help regulate hormones and increase fat burn

• Flaxseed oil—source of healthy fat that can help to regulate hormones and increase fat burn

• Glucosamine and chondroitin—help with lubricating joints and are helpful for people who suffer from stiffness

• Glutamine—amino acid used specifically to help with muscle recovery; a natural precursor to human growth hormone

• Green tea—great for fat loss and adding antioxidants into your diet; can aid recovery after a workout

• Multivitamin—helps to balance out nutritional deficiencies

• Omega 3-6-9 oil—fish oils that help the body burn fat, regulate hormones, and may aid cognitive function

• Plant protein—protein shake for vegans and vegetarians

• Protein bars—quick snack used to replace granola bars with higher protein content

• Rice protein—protein shake that is good for lactose-intolerant individuals

• Soy protein—protein shake that is good for lactose-intolerant individuals

• Whey protein—protein shake derived from milk; can be used as a meal replacement and/or post-workout supplement; considered a fast digesting protein

• ZMA—great for muscle recovery, sleep agent, and keeping the body in an anabolic state

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Unhealthy Fats

Saturated fat clogs up the arteries and can cause health problems such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Whole milk, red meat, french fries, cookies, fast food, and desserts are all high in saturated fats—as are cheese, pizza, and animal products, such as chicken dishes, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs. Other sources: lard, butter, and tropical oils like coconut and palm. Limit saturated fat intake to no more than 10 percent of your total calories (about 22 grams, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet), or, to reduce risk of heart disease, try to limit it to 7 percent (about 15 grams, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet).
Your intake should be lower if you are trying to tone up and/or lose weight or have a lower calorie diet.

Trans fat is, in my opinion, the least healthy of all because it hardens arteries, which impedes circulation. Most trans fats come from processed foods or any food that is mass-produced. Trans fat is popular in restaurants and processed food companies because it helps keep the food from spoiling. It is found in margarines, snack foods, and prepared desserts. It’s difficult to eliminate all trans fats because there are
some that are naturally occurring in meat and dairy foods. Obviously, trans fat in a glass of whole milk is a better choice than getting it from processed food, but either way the American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat to no more than 1 percent of your total daily calories.  For most people,
this is less than 2 grams a day.

Cholesterol intake should be less than 300 milligrams a day—less than 200 milligrams a day if you’re at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is found in eggs and egg dishes, chicken dishes, beef dishes and hamburgers. Other sources: seafood, dairy products, lard, and butter

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Healthy Fats

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats play a key role in absorbing vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Those specific vitamins are considered fat soluble, which means the body cannot utilize them without dietary fat. While these fats are higher in calories per gram than other kinds of foods, they should be in your diet—but stay within your total fat allowance.

Monounsaturated fats decrease the risk for heart disease and improve levels of cholesterol. These types of fats are also good at stabilizing blood sugar levels when they are ingested with carbohydrates and protein. This can be beneficial for diabetics or people who are trying to lose body fat. Some foods high in monounsaturated fats are: peanut butter, olives, olive oil, avocados, poultry, and nuts.

Polyunsaturated fats can help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease by helping to improve blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fats are found in foods such as vegetable oils (flaxseed, safflower, corn, soy, cottonseed, and sunflower), peanut oil, poultry fish, flaxseed oil, seeds, and nuts—especially walnuts.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty, cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring), ground flaxseed, flax oil, and walnuts. Omega-3 fat is one of the polyunsaturated fats that seem to help reduce the chances of developing coronary artery disease. No specific amount of omega-3 fats is recommended, but it goes without saying that you should try to get more of your total fat intake from healthy fats than from unhealthy fats.

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Fats are calorie dense and give you a sense of fullness or satiety. Fats are important for regulating the body’s natural hormone system. If your diet is too low in fat, you will not be able to utilize its benefit in changing your body’s composition. Like carbohydrates, fats have a bad reputation. It seems logical that if you eat fat you will get fat, but it’s not necessarily true. It depends how much and what kinds of fats you are eating.

There are differences in the fat from avocados, which is a healthy fat (monounsaturated), and the fats that come from a doughnut (saturated and trans fats). The fats that come from the two sources do two separate things. Monounsaturated fat adds value to your diet and actually helps with nutrition and loss of body fat. There are also good fats like polyunsaturated fats. On the other hand, saturated fat and trans fat add more body fat while clogging your arteries.

Total fat:

Limit total fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories. Based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day, this amounts to about
44 to 78 grams of fat per day. But your caloric needs may differ.

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Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are burned quickly and spike your insulin and blood sugar levels, while complex carbohydrates burn more slowly, giving you lasting energy.

Simple carbohydrates are found in foods mostly made up of sugar. An example would be fruit juices (natural sugars) and
soft drinks (refined sugars). Simple carbohydrates can have their place in the diet, but they can increase body fat, decrease
long-term energy, and cause mood swings. Excess simple carbohydrates in the diet are linked with diabetes, high blood
pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

There are optimal times to consume simple sugars. Combined with a protein and eaten after your workout, a simple sugar can kick start your body’s recovery process. But overall, I would suggest you eat whole fruit after your workout or the healthiest option of carbohydrates you can find.

In fact, simple sugars in your diet should be replaced as often as possible by whole fruits (not juices), whole (brown)
grains, oats, vegetables, or water.

Simple sugars:

• Cakes/pastries
• Candy
• Cookies
• Doughnuts
• Soda
• Syrups
• White rice, white pasta
Refined sugars do not contain any nutrients or vitamins. They are
empty calories.

Complex carbohydrates should be the majority of your carbohydrate intake. They are a source of long-lasting energy and keep your blood sugar stable. Complex carbohydrates come from whole grains, and the pastas, rice, and breads that are made from them. Simply put, complex carbs tend to be brown foods while refined sugars tend to be white foods. Choose brown.

Complex Carbohydrates:

(One carbohydrate serving = 15 grams)

One serving of bread, rice, or cereal:
• 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
• 1 slice of bread
• 1/2 small bagel
• 1/3 cup cooked pasta or rice
• 3 cups popped popcorn
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cereal
• 6 Saltine crackers

One serving of fruit:
• 15 small grapes
• 1 small (four-inch) banana
• 2 tablespoons raisins
• 3/4 cup berries
• 1 cup cantaloupe or other melon
• 1/2 cup fruit juice (fresh squeezed or store bought)
• 1 small apple

One serving of milk:
• 1 cup milk, nonfat or low-fat
• 1 cup plain yogurt, nonfat or low-fat

Note: Cheese, including cottage cheese, is counted as
a protein serving, not a carbohydrate; whereas milk is a
complex carbohydrate that also provides a good source of

One serving of dessert or sweets:
• 1/3 of a slice of apple pie (1 slice=1/6 of 8-inch pie)
• 1/2 cup ice cream
• 3 ounces soda pop (1/3 of small can)
• 5 vanilla wafers
• 1 tablespoon honey or sugar

One serving of starchy vegetables:
• 1/2 cup or 1 small ear of corn
• 1/2 cup cooked lentils or dried beans
• 1/2 cup green peas
• 3-inch potato

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