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Strong is the new beautiful

I’ve Put On Weight

I knew that finding out my weight at my annual physical was going to be a tough moment. In fact, I considered requesting that we skip the weigh-in but decided against that because I do like tracking health data.

I have been on scales a number of times over the past couple of years and they all gave a similar reading but up until now I was able to convince myself that they were off by a few pounds.

Because I cannot weight as much they say…

But when the nurse and I looked at the number on the scale it was confirmed. I weigh 10 pounds more than I did just a few years ago. I have stayed roughly the same weight since I finished high school and also, after 2 pregnancies. And I weighed 10 pounds less even when I was done nursing my kids and was much less active.

If you are ready to stop reading because you are put off by the fact that I am making a big deal about 10 pounds when your weight struggle has gone far beyond that, please stay.

Any person who is obsessed with their weight is affected when they gain weight. The fears about the weight continuing to rise, the scrutiny over every bite of food we take and the fact that thinking about this weight interferes with so many beautiful moments in life every single day are shared between myself and you.

I am offering valuable insight below that applies to anyone who is being ruled by the fear of the number on the scale. Please stay and read on.

I had managed not to gain weight in any of the predictable life stages but now suddenly, as I near 40, I am heavier.

I sat on the examination table at my doctor’s office with my open-back gown, re-evaluating my diet, wondering if I should cut out all potatoes and dairy, avoid dark chocolate entirely and, oh my god, I eat a banana every day….maybe the carbs are the problem! I’ve also been staying up so late…

Suddenly I started thinking that my lifestyle is a mess.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I wanted to skip the scale altogether.

Because, here’s the thing:

Literally, 2 hours before I stepped on the scale at my doctor’s office, I was looking at my body in the mirror and I was happy.

I was happy with the muscles that I saw. I was reflecting on my recent soccer game, the goal I scored, the speed I used to get ahead of the other team’s defenders…I am strong, I am healthy and I know it...and I work for it.

I eat incredibly well 90% of the time. I am more active than I have ever been. If you had asked me prior to getting on that scale how I felt about the healthfulness of my lifestyle I would have said 8/10 if 10 was “extraordinary health and doing everything you can to be amazing.”

And within seconds of getting on the scale all that happiness was gone. Pouf!

Like so many women, my self-confidence and self-love are fragile and easily influenced by the number on the scale.

You and I grew up in a world where our health was measured by our body mass index and “ideal weight” was a number we chose arbitrarily most likely based on what we weighed in high school (this habit very likely picked up from our Slim Fast drinking, LA weight watching mothers who fed us Fruit Loops while telling us not to eat too much or we’d get fat….because that wasn’t just me, right?).

Commercials from our childhood like the one for Special K cereal with the woman in a red body suit claiming “You can’t pinch an inch on me!” lead us all to have a super slim body as the ideal and only acceptable vision for our future self.

Just the idea of any extra amount of fat on my body was enough to make me want to lose my mind.

But amazingly, my actual experience of this…of these additional 10 pounds… when I am not looking at the number on the scale, is that I am over the moon about what my body can do at the gym, how my body allows me to lift heavy things at work every day, do physical work around the house and be active with my family. Sure, pregnancy ruined my once voluminous breasts and I have cellulite that will never go away but I am generally so happy with my body and my overall health.

For many of us the scale has an imaginary red line. Below that line is “Perfection” and above it is “Fat.”  But it’s not real and it is so wrong.

For me, the best plan is to avoid the scale completely.

Instead I generally track my body composition and health based on a specific set of criteria:

  1. Am I taking care of my body (exercise, chiropractic, mobility, massage)?
  2. Am I eating well?
  3. Am I getting adequate sleep that is restful?
  4. Am I coping with stress?
  5. Do I spend time with people I love and who love me?

When I left the doctor’s office and had some time to breathe and think, I came back to these criteria. Here were my answers to the questions above:

  1. I am now more active on a regular basis than I have ever been. I am lifting weights and playing soccer and my muscle mass has increased which will increase my weight. But I do need to be more consistent with chiropractic, massage and mobility.
  2. I eat extremely well (not perfectly).
  3. I could do with a bit more sleep (and this FYI, for someone who does need to lose weight, can be a big factor because it messes with hormones and can lead to consuming more food).
  4. I deal well with stress. (I communicate. I seek personal growth. I let go of what is beyond my control). With that being said, my stress levels are higher when I have not had enough sleep.
  5. I spend time with good people.

These considerations give me a much clearer picture of how I should be feeling about my body. The scale doesn’t tell me any of this.

And I use this information to decide what tweaks I need to make in order to be confident that my body is at it’s ideal composition and health (which for me means taking the right action steps to get more sleep).

Another good moment in this whole episode was when I opened up to a good friend who is very thin but super active and strong. I would have put her at about 25 pounds less than I am.

I told her about my weight and essentially said I was feeling shitty about it. So she told me what she weighed….and I was totally shocked! She only weighs a bit less than me. I would never, ever have guessed that.

And on top of that, I have women in my life that are strong, fit, confident and weigh more than I do…and I idolize them. It never crosses my mind how much they weigh. They are freaking beautiful and how they show up in the world is inspiring; as a patient mother, an strong athlete, an entrepreneur etc.

Weight is by no means irrelevant, but it’s certainly only a part of the equation.

We tend to be misguided about what healthy looks like on a body and on the scale. And our perceived state of beautiful is often different than what is our healthiest weight or body composition and structure. Some people are naturally curvier than others. Others have smaller bone structure.

These are things we cannot change. And that needs to be ok. 

And if you are carrying extra weight that you know you need to lose in order to be healthier then the next step is to change your action steps instead of losing time, feeling bad about your body.

I will be honest with you though, one of my biggest fears is still that one day I am going to see a picture of myself and gasp “Is that really me?”

I admit that I worry that 2 years from now will bring me 10 more pounds.

And although research does not conclude that as women age, we are certain to gain weight, it can still happen and for some people it is actually healthy weight, even if we hate it.

Studies have suggested that people with a BMI that is considered slightly overweight, seem to have longer lifespans and the “overweight” may be protective against mortality. There are a lot of factors to consider in this study but it opens the consideration of how realistic is our “ideal weight” in the first place.

When you find yourself questioning whether or not your weight is ideal, instead of getting on a scale, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I taking care of my body (exercise, chiropractic, mobility, massage)?
  2. Am I eating well (enough or too much)?
  3. Am I getting adequate sleep that is restful?
  4. Am I coping with stress?
  5. Do I spend time with people I love and who love me?

If you are taking the right actions to support your health and you find that your energy, immune system and moods are good and you have recent blood work to back this all up, I really hope that you can logically conclude that your body is beautiful and exactly as it should be.

If your actions seem to be aligned with this criteria but you are not seeing the expected results, get support from an appropriate health professional. You may be experiencing hormonal dysfunction or have gaps in your action steps that you are just not seeing.

And if you need support with these action steps, consider working with a nutritionist to make sure you are doing everything you can to create the healthiest version of you, without worrying about the number on the scale.

Can you relate? Please let me know your experiences in the comments below.

Obviously, losing weight and maintaining that progress can be overwhelming sometimes. Knowing how much you should be eating, how much exercise is enough (or too much) and figuring out what other factors are playing a role can feel frustrating. That is why I work closely with my nutrition consulting clients, to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that you can sustain. Connect with me HERE.

How to get kids to eat veggies

CTV Live: Getting Your Kids To Eat Veggies

Watch the segment HERE.

During my recent visit to CTV Live in Ottawa, Leanne Lang and I discussed the impossible…how to get more veggies into your kids’ diets!

As you will see, this is not an impossible task and it can actually be a lot of fun.

Watch the segment HERE.

Helpful links:

Magic Bullet: Check it out HERE.

Paleoethics Greens Mix: Check it out HERE.

Learn about Jicama HERE.

And you can get the Avocado Chocolate Pudding Recipe HERE.

For simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

Eggplant Pizza Crust

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Special Instruments: food processor with chopping blade
, 2 feet of cheesecloth, 100% cotton (meant for cooking), parchment paper and a baking sheet

Ingredients For Crust

Approximately 2 pounds fresh eggplant (weigh them at the grocery store), chopped finely in the food processor with chopping blade

1⁄2 cup shredded raw cheese

1⁄2 cup almond flour

1 egg

Toppings for Pizza

Choose your favorite toppings and prepare them while the crust is cooking.

Instructions For Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Grease a baking sheet.
  3. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit a bit larger than the baking sheet. 
Place the paper on the baking sheet and grease it (yes, grease the parchment paper.)

Preparing the Eggplant

  1. Finely chop all of the eggplant in the food processor. Using the cheesecloth, wring out as much water as possible from the chopped eggplant.
  2. Place the drained eggplant, cheese, almond flour and egg in a bowl and mix with your hands. The “dough” will feel quite wet.
  3. Transfer the eggplant mixture on to the greased parchment paper/cookie sheet.
  4. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a rectangle, about a quarter inch thick or to fit your cookie sheet.
  5. Place cookie sheet in oven.
  6. While the crust is cooking, prepare your favorite toppings.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese in the crust has browned and the crust feels relatively dry. The edges of the crust should be shrinking away from the edge of the baking sheet.
  8. Remove crust from the oven.

Flipping the Crust

  1. Grab the edges of the parchment paper and slide the paper and crust onto a cutting board. With the oven mitts still on, place the baking sheet back over top of the crust. Now flip the baking sheet and cutting board over so that the baking sheet is now on the bottom. Remove the cutting board. Peel the parchment paper from the pizza crust. Now your crust has been flipped and is ready to go back in the oven.
  2. Return the pizza crust to the oven for 7-10 minutes, until it feels dry to the touch. Remove from oven.
  3. Top pizza with your favorite toppings.
  4. Return prepared pizza to oven and broil until the cheese is melted and browned to your liking.

Yield: 3-4 servings with a salad on the side

Easy Prep Tips

  1. Chop and drain your eggplant the day before. It will brown in color but will still taste great.
  2. Use a strainer in place of the cheesecloth to drain the eggplant. Just push down on the chopped eggplant in the strainer to press out the water.

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

Fulfilled Podcast image

Guest Appearance: The Fulfilled Podcast

I was recently interviewed by Dr. Shawna Dingman who created The Fulfilled Podcast.

She interviews successful moms who are in business and she discusses the strategies that we use to stay on top…of everything.

In our interview we talked about

  • the importance of creating a life vision (how to make one and the risks of not having one).
  • We talked about meal prep (what it is, how you can make it work in your life and how it will change your life…and save you 7-10 hours a week).
  • We also talked about how to get the kids to have a vision and get involved in meal prep.

And here is the link to that Meal Prep Video we talked about!

It was a privilege to be on the podcast. I hope you enjoy it.

Listen here and enjoy!

Or use one of these links…

For great By Design recipes why not check out my cookbook! It is a 28 day meal plan with weekly grocery lists and food prep guides! Or you can download the first week for FREE!

7 foods for faster meal prep

7 Foods for Faster Meal Prep

Meal prepping is all about getting your food prepped in advance so that you have less cooking to do when you actually need the meals most. It’s a great concept right?

But doing all that prep takes time.

So I want to show you seven of my favourite foods that you can use for faster meal prep.

Getting all of that chopping and mincing out of the way in advance can literally change your life on weeknights when time is precious and food is needed quickly.

Now, some of these items may not be available just yet at your local grocery store but I want to give a huge shout out to President’s Choice (who are not sponsoring this post in way) for the fact that they carry many of these items.

I’ll bet someone in that company is a fellow food prepping, busy mom who understands our needs!

frozen grilled veggies

My favourite frozen veggies

1. Frozen Veggies

Frozen veggies are economical. But even more importantly, they are often more nutritious than their fresh veggie counterparts from the supermarket.

The reason for this is that these veggies are frozen sooner after being harvested which means that they retain more nutrients than veggies that have had to travel across the world in their fresh state, to sit on a truck and then wait in the produce section, before reaching our dinner plates.

And most importantly, frozen veggies are prepped ready to be cooked. They can be thrown into a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper or roasted and topped with a little goat’s cheese or they can be added directly to soups and stews with no washing, peeling or chopping!

2. Cauliflower Rice

When you are maximizing the amount of nutrients you get from your food want to be eating lots of vegetables.

Compare the nutrients in rice with those in vegetables and the veggies are going to come out on top every time so a simple substitution is to use grated cauliflower instead of rice.

Now, don’t get me wrong, cutting up a head of cauliflower and putting the florets into the food processor is not really difficult work but it is messy…the cauliflower seems to get on everything when you try to wash your dishes. And don’t even get me started on trying to do this with a hand grater!

So finding these bags of prepared cauliflower pearls (aka rice)  was definitely a win because I know it will save many heads of cauliflower from going to waste in well meaning peoples’ fridges.

avocado3. Frozen Avocado

Did you even know that avocado could be frozen? Yes!

In fact, it freezes so well that you can take it out, defrost it and create a guacamole that is so fresh and creamy you would never know it had been frozen.

And honestly, the price point for a 400g bag is similar to what I would pay for a bag of five avocados that I would still have to peel myself and the amount of guacamole was possibly even more than I would get from all of the fresh ones!

So frozen avocado it is with the exception of days when I am prepping guacamole to freeze (which now you know you is possible)! In that case, I buy fresh avocados.

butternut squash4. Frozen Butternut Squash Cubes

This one is a huge time saver.

Yes, it is a frozen vegetable and could have been left in that category.

But if you have ever peeled a butternut squash, you know that having it peeled, seeded and cubed, ready to throw on a cookie sheet for roasting or into directly into your soup or stew, is priceless. So it gets it’s own category.

garlic 5. Peeled Garlic

I guess it depends on how much garlic you use but if you find you don’t use a lot, I recommend you use more:-).

Garlic is known for its antifungal properties in the human body as well as its usefulness is supporting the immune system. Plus, it tastes fantastic and can bring a dish to the next level.

If a recipe calls for two garlic cloves, I use four. You just can’t get enough garlic.

So this peeled garlic comes in handy because most of the work is done for you. I can just take it out of the bag and chop it. And the only ingredient is garlic!

At such a low price point, although I do not condone wasting food, I am ok if I do not get though the whole bag.

shrimp6. Raw Peeled Shrimp (when it is on sale)

Shrimp is not cheap. I get that. And buying “Easy Peel Raw Shrimp” is less expensive but when it comes to meal prep for four, peeling up to 80 individual shrimp is just not a great way to spend your time.

Shrimp makes such a great meal prep option because all you need to do is make whatever sauce or marinade you plan to cook it in and once it is cool, add it to the frozen shrimp and put it right back in the freezer (in a sealed bag or container).

And then, when you want to enjoy the shrimp, you just defrost it and throw in a pan with a little olive oil or butter until it is cooked through. Better yet, pair it with cauliflower rice!

I’m telling you, there may be nothing easier than meal prepping shrimp.

So every now and then your grocery store will put the peeled raw shrimp on sale and that is a time to grab a bunch of bags. We use two bags per meal, which is about two pounds for a family of four.

salad7. Bagged Salad

And finally, bagged salad.

You want about three quarters of your plate to be covered in vegetables and one of the easiest ways to do that is by having a salad with every meal.

And although salad can be very easy to put together, that whole washing the lettuce part and cutting up the veggies task usually leads to everything just rotting in my fridge because I don’t do it.

So I generally like to meal prep one salad and then buy a bagged salad to tide me over once the first salad is eaten…(and as a side note…sometimes I just go through two bags of salad instead of making any myself)!

In closing…

We all know that meal prep can be a big task if you make it that way and the bigger your meal prep, the bigger the payoff in the week ahead but if you keep your out eye out for hacks like these, you can make a big meal prep day go even faster.

What are some of your favourite foods for faster meal prep? Please comment below.

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.