Recovery of a No Excuse Mom: The Anatomy of a Failure


Hello, No Excuse Mom world. My name is Lori. I am one of the original No Excuse Moms, but whether you remember me or not, doesn’t matter.
I have a confession to make. I fell off the wagon. And when I say “fell”, what I really mean is that I tumbled backward into the mud, rolled right under the back wheel and was trampled by the wagon behind me, too.
In 2013, when NEM started, I got into the best shape of my life. I was healthy and fit and my greatest motivators were to be a good example to my daughter, so she might not struggle with her weight like I have; and to break the cycle of unhealthy habits that has led to a myriad of preventable medical problems in my family. (Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, you name it.)
Then, in 2014, my life fell apart. My marriage of 10 years ended. I had no predictable income, my entire life was uprooted and mentally…. I was in the worst place of my life.
I wish I could say the problems ended there. I tried to get back onto the theoretical wagon, but every time I did, it felt like I fell further off.
Last year, I topped the scale at 178 pounds.
I was so sick of myself. I knew that I was eating terribly and I wasn’t really exercising, plus I just felt downright depressed.
Since then, I have slowly made little changes and have made my way back down to 165 pounds., but I am still about 30 pounds heavier than I was in 2013 and I KNOW it’s all fat and I KNOW that I lost muscle.
But I digress….
Over the last couple years, I spent so much time upset with myself because I failed so much.
My marriage failed.
My career dreams failed.
My ability to keep myself together emotional failed time and again.
My weight loss and fitness pursuits failed over and over and over again.
And I felt like I had failed as a No Excuse Mom.
But the funny thing about life is that you ultimately have another try each moment that you breathe.
And the biggest lesson about my life that I have learned since 2014, is that I am not defined by my failures.
Did my marriage fail? Yes.
Did I gain back all the weight I had lost before (and then some) and lose track of my physical fitness? Yes.
Is my whole life different than what I would have imagined for myself in my mid 30’s? Absolutely yes.
Facing so many perceived failures made me feel like I was a failure.
I defined myself by those frustrating things.
But although I have experienced failure, I am not a failure.
And if you’re reading this right now and you have experienced failure, trust me when I say this…
YOU are NOT a failure.
No matter how many mistakes you have made, you are not defined by those mistakes. You and I are so much more. And no matter how many mistakes we have made, it’s so easy to overlook the good things, the successes (no matter how small).
Join me as I take this newest No Excuse Mom challenge over the next 12 weeks and use it as a spring board to get back to myself. To begin making myself one of my many priorities. And continue to be a good example for my daughter, building a legacy of health in our little family.
The possibilities for us are endless.

Organic! Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Brussels Sprouts

Hi NEMs!!!
Gosh!  It has been a while since my last recipe blog post but I have a great dish for the summer!   This Pasta with Turkey Sausage & Brussels Sprouts is made with mostly ORGANIC ingredients (it would have been entirely organic, but I didn’t have any organic olive oil…ooops!) 

  • 1bag of Organic Pasta
  • 1pkg of Organic Turkey Sausage – I used Applegate Natural & Organic Meats that you can find at your local grocery store
  • 2/3lb. Organic Brussel Sprouts
  • 3 tbsp. organic olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
  • Wash the brussel sprouts
  • Cut the dark flat ends off

  • In a mixing bowl, add the minced garlic and olive oil
  • Toss the brussel sprouts a few times to evenly coat

  • Cover a baking pan with foil
  • Spread the brussel sprouts around the baking pan


  • Bake for 30-40 minutes checking at 20 minutes and shake the sprouts around in order to brown
  • Next, boil water in order to cook the pasta (according to package)
  • While you are waiting for the water to boil, chop the turkey sausage in halves
    • If you don’t eat meat, you can substitute with tofu – just brown the tofu with your favorite sweet marinade like light teriyaki sauce

  • In a pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook the turkey sausage according to the package instructions.  I like my turkey sausage a little more on the brown side so I cook it a little longer! 😉

  • Don’t forget to put the pasta into the boiling water and set your timer
  • Once the brussel sprouts are cooked, add to the turkey sausage pan and stir

  • Drain the pasta and you can add a pat of organic butter or 1tsp. olive oil
  • Top off the pasta with the turkey sausage/brussel sprouts

  • ENJOY!

If you make this, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts, suggestions or if you added your own special ingredient(s).  Leave a comment or email me!
And…if YOU have a recipe that you’d like to share and be featured on our NEM website, contact me.
~ Meeshie 🙂
NEM Leader San Diego County & NEM Recipe Blogger


Tasty Recipes By Nutritionist Felicia Newell!

Low Glycemic Index Recipes

April 16, 2017

Felicia Newell, RD(c), BScAHN, MScAHN(c)


For the past 6 months I have been working on a 107 Recipe Low Glycemic Index eCookbook – Everyday Cooking for Health and today I’m giving you a sneak peak! The eCookbook is to help people reach sustainable healthy eating based on low glycemic index foods with down-to-earth, easy-to-follow, quick-to-prepare recipes.

I’ve picked 5 recipes to highlight in this blog post, although it was hard to choose which ones!

The power-packed collection of healthful recipes will help you eat to feel great. You’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight, lose weight, reduce the risk of and better manage diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and so much more. Best of all, you will still enjoy your food!

All recipes include nutritional info for: calories, carbohydrates, net carbohydrates, protein, fats, saturated fats, net carbs, sodium, sugar and fibre!

But first you may be thinking… “What the heck is the glycemic index, and why is it important to my health?”

You may have heard that low carbohydrate diets are good for us. People rave about low carb diets like they are the best thing since…sliced bread (sorry, couldn’t help myself). “Carbs are evil.” “Carbs wreak havoc on our health.” You hear it all. However, you may also start to see more and more health professionals stand up for carbohydrates. Carbohydrates alone do not wreak havoc on our health. What does tend to wreak havoc, is the OVER-consumption of calories in general, but in particular, refined carbohydrates (e.g., white flour, sugar, etc.), that tend to be high on the glycemic index (GI).

The Glycemic Index

The GI is a list of carbohydrate-containing foods and how quickly they are processed through our bodies and thus raise blood glucose (sugar) levels compared to a standard food. Foods that are high on the GI scale produce a large fluctuation in our blood glucose levels.  When our glucose levels spike, our bodies have to work extra hard to get them back into balance. Foods high on the GI scale also tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients…which is what we call empty calories, and something we don’t want to be eating too much of. They also tend to be very easily accessible, and highly palatable (aka tasty), which is why we have to be mindful of not over-doing it.

Low GI foods, on the other hand, produce a slower and more even rate of absorption when digestion occurs, which means the foods are more gradually broken down in our digestive tract. This is typically because there are more nutrients in these foods, such as protein and/or fibre (and other nutrients as well) Low GI foods include things like fresh veggies, eggs, lean meat, whole grains, and many fresh fruits. As a rule of thumb, you want to have low GI foods most of the time, medium GI foods sometimes, and high GI foods occasionally.

For more information, check out my e-Cookbook!

Here are 5 recipes from the book!

Breakfast Casserole

Serves 6


  • 1 cup milk of choice

  • 6 large eggs

  • 3 egg whites

  • 3/4 cup cheese

  • 2 slices 100% whole wheat whole grain, or sprouted grain bread, cubed

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 teaspoon regular mustard

  • 1/4 cup green pepper, diced

  • 1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped

  • 1 cup onion

  • 1 tsp oil of choice, or nonstick cooking spray


Whisk together milk, eggs and egg whites. Add remaining ingredients and pour into an 8×8 pan that has been lightly coated with oil or nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 267 | Carbohydrate: 10g | Sugar: 4g | Fiber: 1g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 16g |

Sat Fat: 7g | Net Carbohydrate: 9g

Garden Fresh Vegetable Pizza

Serves 4


  • 4 whole wheat pitas or ‘Flat Out’ wraps

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed

  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (preferably light)

  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (preferably light)

  • 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced

  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 teaspoon each: fresh or dried basil, oregano, and parsley


Preheat oven to 425°F. Sprinkle cheeses and garlic over whole wheat pitas. Add garlic, then layer tomato, zucchini and red onion. Top with Parmesan cheese and herbs. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 274 | Carbohydrate: 20g | Sugar: 2g | Fiber: 4g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 13g |

Sat Fat: 6 | Sodium: 631mg | Net Carbohydrate: 16g

Simple Nicoise Style Salad


  • 1 can light tuna (or black beans)

  • 1 hard boiled egg, chopped

  • 2 small new potatoes, cooked

  • 2 small tomatoes

  • 1 cup green beans, lightly steamed or cooked

  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, or mixed greens

  • Optional: Any other veggies or low calorie topping of choice, e.g. olives


  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 2 tbsp cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, minced


Prepare vinaigrette by mixing vinegar, mustard and garlic.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil until smooth. For salad, place lettuce on 2 plates and place remaining ingredients in small groups on top. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 381 | Carbohydrate: 30g | Sugar: 6g | Fiber: 5g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 18g |

Sat Fat: 3g | Sodium: 543mg | Net Carbohydrate: 25g

Knock Your Socks Off Chili

  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef, chicken or turkey (omit beef to make vegan)

  • 4 cans tomatoes (with green chilies if desired)

  • 1 can tomato sauce

  • 2 cans low sodium black beans (e.g. Eden foods), drained and rinsed

  • 4 medium zucchini, diced

  • 1 medium green pepper, diced

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 4 stalks celery, diced

  • 2 containers low sodium beef, or vegetable broth

  • 1 tablespoon cumin

  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


Brown meat, onion, pepper, celery and garlic. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer until veggies are tender. Serve with a side green salad for added fullness and a complete meal.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 306 | Carbohydrate: 27g | Sugar: 9g | Fiber: 8g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 10g |

Sat Fat: 3g | Sodium: 650mg | Net Carbohydrate: 1g

Balsamic-Marinated Chicken with Sautéed Mushrooms

Serves 4


  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 4 four ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼” thick

  • 2 cups mushrooms, halved

  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


In a plastic bag, mix 2 tablespoons vinegar, mustard and garlic. Marinate for

2 hours.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium heat to hot but not smoking. Add chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter and cover to keep warm. Heat remaining oil in skillet; add mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. Add broth, thyme, and remaining vinegar. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are cooked and sauce has reduced by half. Serve chicken topped with


Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 290 | Carbohydrate: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 0g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 1g | Sat Fat: 3g | Sodium: 413mg | Net Carbohydrate: 5g

Easy as Pie Applesauce Cake

Serves 8


  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

  • 1/2 cup SPLENDA® or Truvia® no calorie sweetener, granular

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons oil of choice

  • 1 cup applesauce


Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat cake pan with oil or nonstick cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix them together (do not over stir).  Spoon into prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 154 | Carbohydrate: 21g | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 4g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g |

Sat Fat: 0g | Sodium: 295mg | Net Carbohydrate: 17g

For access to all 107 recipes with nutritional info get the e-Cookbook here!

Felicia Newell is a Nutritionist, Dietitian-Candidate, Food and Nutrition Expert, Health Coach, and a mom of 4 boys under 6! She is also the owner of Sustain Nutrition. Felicia wears many hats, and knows what it is like to try and live healthy in a busy world, where our environments aren’t always supportive of making healthy choices.

Life is busy, confusing at times, and full of contradictions, especially in the world of health and wellness. Felicia is passionate in helping others fight through the misinformation out there, and to navigate life and health, but most importantly, to enjoy it while doing it.
She has over 11 years of education and experience in Nutritional Sciences. Between completing her Bachelor and Masters in Nutritional Sciences, working at a research center, teaching university courses, years of nutrition counseling helping people crush their goals, and being a busy mom of 4 young boys, she has the passion, skills, education, and experience to help you reach your health and wellness in a way that works for YOU.

Top 9 Diet Mistakes

Dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry that grows every year — right along with a large majority of the population’s waistlines. Something is wrong with that, wouldn’t you say?
What’s going on? Why do millions of people desperately want to lose weight, but fail?
In most cases, they’re making some of the following diet mistakes. Learn to not make these mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to weight-loss success.
 Mistake #1: Is following any type of extreme diet. This would be your typical low-fat, or low-carb, or extreme low-calorie diet that we hear so much about. Weight loss may be a side effect of a short-term diet, but diets can have detrimental effects on long-term health. Furthermore, many people gain back the weight they originally lost and more. This is why people should learn how to implement healthy strategies for a lifestyle, not just as short-term fix. The healthiest diet of all is one that can be maintained over the long haul and has you eating real food that doesn’t eliminate any of the three macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat. For weight loss, it is still important to find out what your daily estimated energy requirements are and eat below that amount, but again eliminating any particular food group is not necessary and can actually be detrimental to long-term, and many times even short-term success.
Mistake #2: Taking on too much, too soon. This is the single biggest reason why most people fail in their diets. They become so excited about starting a diet that they give up all their favorite foods on the first day. Then they grow discouraged and give up. To avoid this, try to slowly adapt yourself to new eating habits. After a month, you’ll have changed your diet drastically without experiencing the shock of a complete turnaround.
Mistake #3: Eliminating fats. In fact, you need healthy sources of fat to maintain essential body functions, sustain energy levels, slow digestion and feel fuller longer. For years, nutritionists and doctors have preached that a low-fat diet is the key to losing weight, managing cholesterol, and preventing health problems. But that actually proved to be a big fat lie (pun intended). It’s more than just the amount of fat; it’s the types of fat you eat that really matter. Despite what you may have been told, fat isn’t always the bad guy in the waistline wars. Bad fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats, are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed for—weight gain, clogged arteries, and so forth. But good fats such as the monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s have the opposite effect. In fact, healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight. Including healthy fats in your diet is good for you and can actually help you lose weight. Healthy fats include: vegetable and nut oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, fish and tofu.
Mistake #4: Eliminating carbohydrates. Carb-free diets are popular because of the dramatic weight loss that can occur. But this is typically due to several reasons. First, most of the weight lost is from water, not fat. Second, when you’re on a carb-free diet, most processed foods are eliminated — and these are the foods that tend to add the most calories. Once you return to your old eating habits, the water weight returns, as do those high-calorie processed foods that lead you to gain weight. Complex, high-fiber carbohydrates like brown rice, beans and lentils should be part of any diet regimen.
Mistake #5: Reducing calories too much. This often leads to yo-yo dieting. When you follow an extreme diet, you’ll lose a lot of weight at first — but then your body will catch on and lower your metabolism to accommodate the reduced supply of fuel. Then, when you return to your normal diet — wham! You regain that weight because you’re now consuming more calories.
Skimping on calories ultimately decreases metabolic rate as the body tries to conserve energy. This is why low-calorie eaters may feel lethargic. Furthermore, as metabolism slows, the body subsequently burns fewer calories, leading to a greater susceptibility for weight gain when more calories are inevitably consumed. To keep energy levels high and metabolism revved up, it’s important for people to meet their daily calorie needs. And since the body uses energy-yielding carbohydrates, protein, and fat in very specific ways, consuming each in proportion to the other is essential to ensure sufficient energy to complete daily tasks, feel good, and to maintain an optimal state of health.
Mistake #6: Eating too much healthy food or choosing incorrect portion sizes. Eating too much of anything leads to weight gain. No matter how healthy the food is, a calorie is still a calorie. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body burns, no matter the source. Also, many people aren’t aware of what an appropriate portion size really is. They eat much larger portions than they need to, which inevitably leads to weight gain.
Mistake #7: Skipping exercise. Many people are trying to lose weight — but only 15 percent exercise regularly. Clearly, there’s a disconnect here. You may not enjoy exercise very much — but if you want to lose weight, you simply have no choice.
Mistake #8: Consuming too much alcohol. Many people believe that alcohol doesn’t contain a lot of calories. This is especially the case with red wine. In fact, alcohol is loaded with empty calories (for example, five fluid ounces of red wine contains 125 calories). Limit your intake and include the calories in any alcohol you consume as part of your daily calorie count. Sorry — there are no freebies!
Mistake #9: The “one-size-fits-all” approach.  Don’t assume that what worked for Jim or Jane will work for you. Dave may be able to eat dessert after every meal without gaining a pound, while Mark gains three pounds just looking at a piece of cake. Melissa may be able to fast all afternoon with no cravings, while Judy craves sugar on the three-hour mark after her last meal. When it comes to our unique bodies, metabolism and genetics, we aren’t all created equal. What works for someone else may not work for you. Also know that people often post their successes MUCH more than they post their struggles. Just because the struggles and ups and downs aren’t posted about as much, doesn’t mean that every single person doesn’t face them. So understand there might be some trial in error and figuring out what works for you with your weight loss journey, and that is okay!
Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)
Official NEM Nutritionist
For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has recently published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Facebook page:
Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition

12 Best Healthy Snacks to Prevent Being ‘Hangry’

12 Healthy Snacks (4)
Note: This post is brought to you by Official No Excuse Mom Nutritionist-Dietitian Felicia Newell, and is also posted on her website.
Do we all know the dreaded feeling of being ‘hangry’? I think we do, but just in case…
Urban Dictionary definition (because that counts right?): “When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. An amalgum of hungry and angry invented to describe that feeling when you get when you are out at a restaurant and have been waiting over an hour to get the meal that you have ordered”.
My definition of being hangry:
That point where you’ve been so busy, you keep telling yourself…“I’ll get something to eat after I finish this task…”
(one hour later) “I’ll eat after I complete this other task…”
(two hours later) “I don’t care, don’t talk to me, I’m freaking starving.” (or some variation)
Co-worker/Friend/Anyone: “I have a box of donuts, would you like to have 1…or 6?” (again, or some variation)
You: “For the love of god, give me the whole box.”
Anyway, you get the point, right? We’ve all been there. Lost track of time, didn’t get a chance to eat, and now we are at the point where it doesn’t matter if it’s a bag of Doritos or a baby donkey (kidding of course…just a metaphor) put in front of us, either way we’re going to eat it.
Well here are some of the best nutrient-packed healthy snack foods, to either grab on the go or pack for lunch, to avoid the case of those ‘hangries’.
1. Hard-boiled Eggs
I know this ones not overly exciting (it gets better, I promise), but one egg contains a measly 78 calories and six grams of protein (more protein = more full). They’re also packed with Vitamin B, which helps break down that fat for instant energy. Have some nice crunchy veggies along with it, and boom. As long as you keep hard-boiled eggs stored inside the shell, they’ll last in the fridge for up to a week. Alternatively, mash it up, and add some sliced pickles, olives, and feta cheese, and your taste buds certainly won’t be bored.

Best Healthy Snacks | Energy Bars | Protein Bars | Eggs | Weight Loss
2. Homemade Protein/Energy Bar

I think protein bars are great because they are an excellent on-the-go snack, that can really help tie you over until your next meal or snack, especially if they have a decent amount of protein (10g or more), and fibre (3g or more, but ideally 5-10g). I say homemade, because you can control what goes in them. Check out my blog post here, which contains some homemade protein bar/ball recipes, and you’ll find 10 more protein bar recipes here in this blog. If you do opt for a pre-packaged protein bar, aim for one that is around 200 calories, less than 5% DV saturated fats, and with the above protein and fibre recommendations. A great example is Genuine Health’s Fermented Protein Bars.
3. Frozen Yogurt Pops with Nuts and Berries

Dietitian St. John's | Nutritionist St. John's | Best Healthy Snacks | Energy Bars | Frozen Yogurt Pop | Weight Loss
To cool yourself during those summer afternoons you may be tempted to grab sugar-filled ice-cream and popsicles. Which is okay sometimes of course, but to help with overdoing it, try this tasty frozen treat as a lower sugar, nutrient-packed option. Chop up berries and nuts of choice (strawberries and almonds and/or walnuts are great choices), and mix in a bowl with your favourite  yogurt and some lemon or lime juice (optional). Pour the mixture in a popsicle molds and freeze for four hours. Delish! Alternatively, you can pour the mixture in a glass dish, freeze, and then break into pieces of ‘bark’, and store in a container in the freezer.
4. Smoked Wild Salmon with Crackers or Cucumber (lower calorie/carb option) and Goat Cheese

Dietitian St. John's | Nutritionist St. John's | Best Healthy Snacks | Energy Bars | Smoked Salmon | Weight Loss
I mean yum, who doesn’t love the whole smoked salmon and goat cheese combo? Okay sure, some people might not like fish, or cheese, but who are these people and how do they exist? (Again, kidding! If you use crackers, aim for 3g of fibre for more and stick to one serving, and a small amount of salmon and goat cheese on each. For a lower carb/calorie option (because I’m all for reducing carbs and calories sometimes, because we do tend overdo it on those guys at times, let’s be honest), use cucumber instead of crackers. Still delish, and great for entertaining as well!
5. Watermelon with Feta, Dill and Hemp Seeds

Dietitian St. John's | Nutritionist St. John's | Best Healthy Snacks | Energy Bars | Watermelon | Weight Loss
Watermelon on its own contains 86 calories and less than 1 gram of fat making it an excellent fruit to those working on losing some weight. Cut the fruit into cubes and place it in a bowl with some crumbled feta cheese (a little goes a long way for flava). Add a tablespoon or two of hemp seeds for added protein, fibre, and Omega 3s and other nutrients (if you haven’t tried hemp seeds before, you seriously should), sprinkle with some chopped dill and/or red onion (optional) and enjoy!
6. Nuts, Seeds, and Nut Butters
Nuts and seeds (unsalted), and nut butters such as no sugar-added almond butter, or low sugar peanut butter. They’re great to eat because they’re rich in healthy fats, protein, and fibre. They also contain nutrients and hard-to-get minerals like magnesium, which can help regulate sleep, digestive issues, and stress (magnesium is all the rage lately, and for good reason). Keep in mind that portion control is key with this type of food; ¼ cup nuts per serving, or one to two teaspoons of nut butter at a time. Have an apple or another type of fruit with your nuts, and you’re good to go!
7. Oatmeal with Fruit and Seeds
Oatmeal is specially served as a breakfast meal but having a smaller portion (e.g., ½ cup), and using toppings such as: chopped fruit, dates, honey, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, chia/hemp/flax seeds, etc. (the list really can go on), you can prepare a fibre and protein rich snack. Oatmeal has fibre, which has been shown to cholesterol levels and to help manage blood sugars.
8. Roasted Chickpeas
Another delicious low-calorie, high-fibre snack. It is the ‘International Year of the Pulses’, and chickpeas are a member of the pulse family! Pulses are a cost-effective, sustainable protein source that are rich in fibre, and have high levels of minerals such as iron, zinc, and phosphorous as well as folate and other B-vitamins. Drain and pat dry a can of chickpeas, mix in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, chili powder, salt and pepper (or any seasonings of choice). Pour the coated chickpeas onto a baking tray, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and bake for 30-40 minutes, until brown and crunchy. Alternatively, there are some delicious, pre-packaged roasted chickpeas on the market, such as The Good Bean Chickpeas.

Dietitian St. John's | Nutritionist St. John's | Best Healthy Snacks | Energy Bars | Roasted Chickpeas | Weight Loss9. Chicken (or Chickpea for vegetarians), and Greek Yogurt Spread on Crackers or Cucumber
This is a simple one. Chicken, or chickpeas are a great source of protein, and chickpeas even have added fibre. Greek yogurt is also a good protein source. In a bowl add 1 small cup of leftover cooked chicken or chickpeas and 3 tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt (optional: add pepper and lemon juice to taste). Mix the ingredients together and spread it on crackers or sliced cucumber.
10. Sweet Potato Protein Cookies

Dietitian St. John's | Nutritionist St. John's | Best Healthy Snacks | Sweet Potato Protein Cookies | Weight Loss
Got a hankering for a cookie? Give these bad-boys a try (not sure why they would be considered ‘bad-boys’, it just felt right, and it’s midnight and I might be a little loopy at this point). Filled with good-for-you ingredients, pack these cookies for the perfect on-the-go alternative to candy bars or other less healthy baked goods (aka donuts). Recipe here.
11. Sweet Potato Chips

Dietitian St. John's | Nutritionist St. John's | Best Healthy Snacks | Sweet Potato Chips | Weight Loss
Can’t live without chips? Don’t lie to me you, I know all you chip-lovers out there would never give up your chips! And you shouldn’t have to, let’s be real. There are no ‘bad’ foods, just overall ‘bad’ diets. Do your best to eat healthy 80% of the time, and include some less healthy foods in there as well (that’s where that whole moderation thing that we dietitian’s like to talk about). Getting off track a little, but ‘anywho’, these sweet potato chips aren’t exactly healthy, but making them yourself means you know exactly what goes into them. Plus, they taste better than the bagged kind, trust me. Recipe here. Have a couple unsalted nuts, and/or one serving of fruit with these, so you’re less likely to eat 3 servings of chips.
12. Healthier 4 U Popcorn
Approximately 87% of the population enjoys popcorn (disclaimer: completely made-up statistic). Instead of drenching popcorn in butter, flavour it with a creative mix of herbs and spices. Think of homemade popcorn as a canvas for pretty much whatever flavour combination you’re craving. Check out the awesome infographic below for proof. Learn more here.

Dietitian St. John's | Nutritionist St. John's | Weight Loss | Healthy Eating | Best Healthy Snacks | Popcorn
Do you struggle with knowing exactly what foods will help you reach your goals? Download the exact grocery list that I provide for my clients to help them reach their goals, for free here!
Want answers to your food, nutrition and wellness questions? Join Sustain Nutrition’s free online Facebook wellness community! Link to access the group is here.
For more information on the healthy weight management and nutrition services Sustain Nutrition offers, visit here.

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Healthy Weight Management | Nutrition Counselling | Sustain Nutrition | Nutritionist | Dietitian | Weight loss | Best Healthy Snacks

Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist. She has a Bachelor of Science in Applien Human Nutrition, and is currently working on completing a Master of Science. Felicia is a Dietitian (candidate) and a mom of 4 boys under 6. She wears many hats, and knows what it is like to live healthy in a busy world, where our environments aren’t always supportive of making healthy choices. Felicia has over 10 years of education and experience in Nutrition, and is passionate about helping others.
For the past several years, Felicia has worked at a university research centre with a focus on food security, food access, and policies relating to food; she has taught university level nutrition courses; she has recently started her own nutrition counselling business titled ‘Sustain Nutrition’; and she is currently working at a large chain grocery store helping her community make healthier choices. One of Felicia’s passions is helping others fight through the confusing misinformation that is out there in the ever-changing and growing world of food and nutrition. Felicia has published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’. You can view it here.
Read more about her story here, and on her Facebook page,  visit here website here, and follow her on Instagram: @sustain.nutritionClick here for more NEM experts.

The waist training controversy…

Today I want to talk about a “fitness fad” that is happening right now, that is actually a throwback to Victorian times…WAIST TRAINING or cinching or corseting. I will start off by saying I am completely against this and pretty much any other fitness fad that is unhealthy, unrealistic, or dangerous. The human body comes with an internal corset of muscles called the TRANSVERSE ABDOMINALS or TVAs. These muscle are deep in the body and provide shape, support and strength for the entire core and trunk. These muscles are necessary for total body strength and health, as well as for proper posture, alignment, stability and spine mobility. What waist training is doing is restricting the use of those super important muscles by squeezing the torso tightly whereby you can not engage them yourself. The effect being a seemingly smaller waist…but a totally weak core and with that the potential for injury to your back. I am reading all of these articles about Jessica Alba and the Kardashians wearing corsets after having babies to quickly bounce back to an even tighter middle than before having babies. It’s CRAZY. ‘
These celebrities are paid millions of dollars in endorsements and royalties to wear these products and promote them, whether they are healthy or not! They also have the money to hire chefs and nutritionists and trainers to make sure they get back to pre-baby body as quickly as possible, regardless of how unhealthy it may be. It is a temporary fix and they are not telling you the whole story. You should not wear a waist trainer while exercising or sleeping…but so many women are. This is dangerous.
You need to be able to engage your own muscles while lifting weights or running or whatever form of exercise you choose. You need to create strength not weakness. It is not a support to wear a corset. It is restrictive to your breathing and to your body’s natural movements. I know I am standing on a soapbox, but as a professional in the fitness industry, I can not stand by silently. This is not opinion. This is physiological fact. The other issue is that these products proclaim that they help to burn belly fat. I’m sorry to tell you, but You can not spot reduce fat. If you have fat around your midsection and you wear a waist trainer, all you are doing is pushing that fat up and down…exercise and a healthy diet reduces fat all over the body!
You may sweat a lot in the area you are squeezing with a corset, but all you are losing is water, not fat. Body shape is determined mainly by genetics. If you don’t have an hourglass figure, it’s not likely you will get one naturally. To get the physique you long for, it takes hard work and dedication to a fitness regimen and a healthy balanced diet…not a magic pill or a magic corset. There is no “quick fix” that actually works for the long term. These fads come and go, but what has stayed tried and true is healthy eating and consistent exercise…it might take longer and may be more difficult, but that is what works!
Vanessa Lynn Campos is mom to 2 boys, Kai and Rocky. Her interest in fitness began at age 15, having been a dancer, cheerleader and soccer player.  She studied dance at Beijing Dance Academy in Beijing, China and the London Contemporary Dance School at The Place in England. Her professional opportunities also included working with internationally acclaimed dance photographer, Lois Greenfield, who featured Vanessa in her 2007, 2008, and 2013 calendars.  Her professional fitness career began in NYC in 2002.

Setting yourself up for Success Part 3: Goal Setting

goals-wordleWith the start of the New Year, there is no better time to be considering your fitness goals and envisioning where you want to be headed over the next few months. While that is going to look different for each of us, there are a few ways that you can look at goals to keep them realistic and actually achieve them… instead of leaving 2017 the same way you enter it.  The first way to focus your own thoughts and efforts is to make SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Based. While you can apply this to nearly every goal you have in life, this is what it might be broken down into for your fitness goals:

  • Specific: First and foremost, you have to know what your actual goal is. Most of us have several things that we would like to accomplish and each of those areas could (and should) have their own goals. What are you working towards? The possibilities are endless. For our purposes today, we will consider these four potential goals: losing weight, lowering your blood pressure, eating more vegetables and starting to run.
  • Measurable: In order for something to be measurable, you have to have something to gauge it against. You would progress our first list to something like this: “I need to lose 10 pounds”, “I want to lower my blood pressure to 110/60”, “I want to eat 5 servings of veggies daily” or “I want to run my first 5k.”
  • Attainable: Many of us have a huge goal that we would like to reach. Maybe you know you need to lose 100 pounds. While that is a great END goal, setting realistic stepping stones in between is necessary for your own sanity.
  • Realistic: How does your goal tie into your life and other responsibilities? While we’re known around here as “No Excuse Moms” there is still a healthy amount of balance in your life. Just keep in mind that your goal will have to be balanced with all of your other life expectations.
  • Time-Based: Finally, you must have some sort of timeline for your goal. This is easy if you have some sort of an event coming up or you are completing one of the NEM fitness challenges. But if you don’t have a specific event, you can make up your own date that is a reasonable amount of time to reach your goal. The problem here is to make sure that the goal means enough to you that you will actually be motivated to keep it.

The other thing that can be helpful as far as goal setting is deciding on some sort of “Fit Mission Statement” for yourself.
What exactly is a fit mission statement? It is basically an over-arching statement about WHY you have the goals that you do. As an example, I will write my current and two previous fit mission statements.

  • My first mission statement: I will overcome the unhealthy habits in my family and get into the best shape of my life.
  • My second fit mission statement: I will prove that your post-baby body can be BETTER than your pre-baby body!
  • My current fit mission statement: I will be a good example for my daughter to help her build a strong foundation of health and fitness.

My daughter’s health is important to me, as it the potential of her not having to struggle with her weight as I always have.
When you consider your own fit mission statement, think about why you want to get into shape. It has to be something deeper than “I want to look good” or “fit into my skinny jeans”. It should be something that will ultimately motivate you to get to the gym on days when you just don’t feel up to it and choose the healthy food instead of running through the drive through. Give yourself some quiet time to sit down and brainstorm what your biggest reasons for getting into shape are, then print out your mission statement and put it somewhere you see on a regular basis, like your fridge or bathroom mirror. Make it a point to read this statement out loud to yourself. Believe it. Own it.
Finally, I highly recommend searching around the internet for other women who have been successful in their health and fitness endeavors. Not only will you realize that it is completely possible for you to meet your own goals, you can be inspired and motivated by these other amazing women. Check out our No Excuse Mom website for many inspiring women at

Setting yourself up for Success Part 2: Exercise Efficiency

succeedExercising is very often the first thing that people think about when they want to get healthy, and with good reason. Exercising is a key piece of the puzzle that not only can help you lose weight and lose weight faster than if you diet alone, but can improve your blood pressure, decrease your risk of many major diseases, and increase your quality of life, among many other things.
So what is exercise efficiency? Well, being efficient means getting the most out of what you choose to do as exercise. One might ask what ask what makes exercise efficient and I have three answers.

  • The exercise you will actually do. In order for exercise to really “work” for you, you have to be doing something that you enjoy. The fact of the matter is that while initial motivation and best laid intentions may get you to the gym, your motivation will eventually decline. The more that you enjoy whatever exercise you are doing, the more likely you are to do it. This doesn’t mean that you don’t try new things, give certain exercise types a real try before you set it off to the side as something you don’t care for. You have to explore the different exercises to see what you enjoy.
  • The exercise you will do Consistently. Beyond just enjoying your exercise, you have to really have a plan and a purpose behind your exercising. Even if you enjoy your exercise, if you only do it every now and then, it isn’t going to make lasting effects on your body. What I have found to be successful in the beginning is to literally schedule your workouts like you would schedule a doctor’s appointment. This can be a challenge if your days are incredibly different from one another, but most of us have an idea day to day when we are most likely to have time to set aside for exercise.
  • The exercise that Challenges You. This is where most people probably fall into a rut. (As a side not, always consider your food intake if you aren’t seeing results.) The body is an amazing thing. It is able to change quickly and accommodate itself for higher amount of movement or higher amounts of stress. What this means is that you will have to change things up a bit as you continue to exercise, to ensure that your body still gets a challenge. For example, a new exerciser may start walking for health and initially see some weight loss and then it stops, even though they are still walking consistently every day. In order to continue to see progress you can do one of four things. A) Speed up your pace – whether that be power walking or running or a combination of the two, B) add some form of resistance of challenge such as wearing a weighted backpack or walking hills, C) Increase the overall distance, or finally, D) introduce new exercise added to the walking such as weight training, yoga, etc. This principle applies to any exercise. Consider your speed, resistance (or intensity), duration (the amount of time spent exercising), and new challenges.

With all of those basic recommendations, there are other things to consider when choosing what exercise to do to get into shape. You can literally lose weight doing any activity, but some exercises are more likely to burn fat (what you really want) instead of burning fat and muscle (what you don’t want). The more muscle a person has on their body, the more calories they burn just while sitting there.
Many times, the first thing that people think about when exercising is running. While running can absolutely be used to lose weight, it actually is not the most efficient choice, as “steady state” running (running the same speed for long distances) has actually been shown to encourage break down of some muscle mass. Sprinting or interval running, on the other hand, can maintain muscle mass while you still get the effects of fat burning.
Weight training is the best options for building muscle, but it again has to follow the above pattern. Increasing in speed, resistance, duration and challenging your muscles in different ways. Women have been made fun of in the past for choosing light weights instead of heavy ones. Despite what many women might be afraid of, no amount of weight lifting will make you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Women who fit into the bodybuilding category of training and competing not only lift a MASSIVE amount of weight, they also supplement with hormones and eat a very specific much higher calorie diet.
Yoga is another thing that many women turn to for getting into shape. I myself am a big advocate for yoga and the positive effects it can have on your body. I started doing yoga as an unhealthy, chubby, unflexible 19-year old and within a very short time of consistent practice, it helped me to be much more flexible, more mindful about my food intake and a little slimmer, too.   The ‘problem’ with yoga is that most people may not get the total results that they want with yoga alone. It will most certainly build long, lean muscle, but it’s capability to shave off the layer of fat over it is less than other options of exercise.
Finally, despite what you choose to do as exercise, there are a lot of studies out there advocating a specific WAY to exercise to get the most out of your workout time. Some of you may have heard of interval training. It takes several forms: High Intensity Interval Training, Tabata training, sprint intervals, and many more. But training in bursts of high energy followed by a lower energy recovery time has been shown to have great effects on fat burning specifically.
Try this the next time you workout:

  • Choose four exercises.
  • Perform one exercise for 20 seconds as fast as you can.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Progress immediately to the next exercise for 20 seconds and so forth.
  • Repeat this round of exercises four times.

While it is a very quick workout, it will jump start your metabolism and help you to burn more calories after you are done exercising. When choosing your exercises, consider ones that work different body parts, such as: squats, crunches, pushups and supermans.
While I could write on and on about the many options out there, this is the most important take away: Do what you love and do a variety of types of exercise to challenge your body.

Rediscover Your “Why”

A friend of mine posted on her facebook page a “Throwback Thursday” post, asking people to post a picture of when they felt like they looked their ‘best’. As I scrolled back through my old photos, I knew exactly what I was looking for. I actually ended up posting two pictures. One from 2010 when I was at my absolute fittest. I stood on stage in the bikini portion of a NPC bodybuilding contest. Even though I looked the best I have in my entire life, I wasn’t healthy. I extreme dieted and was in the gym 6 days a week for 2 hour sessions. There was no balance in my life.
So I had to choose a second picture. My actual healthiest and happiest was in 2013, after starting No Excuse Mom with Maria, making fitness a priority, balancing my life and making time for both eating healthy and exercising on a consistent basis.
As I looked at these pictures, I saw this girl that looked so familiar… at first I honestly thought, “Well, I have lost her. She’s gone. This person no longer exists.” But after a few minutes, I recognized that this wasn’t the truth. Even though life is completely different than it was in either of those two pictures, much of that girl still remains.
Then, something that a friend said to me made a lot of sense: I have lost my ‘why’.
The biggest thing that both of those old pictures had in common is that at those times in my life, I had a very deep conviction for WHY I wanted to be fit. Seeing the pictures brought those important pieces of the puzzle back to the forefront of my mind.
First and foremost, I began my fitness journey because both my mothers and my fathers side of the family have a lot of health issues. Obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer… Name any of the major health problems and it is probably in my family. I had a great desire to be healthy because if I am not, I don’t have a lot to look forward to as I age.
Once my daughter was born and when No Excuse Mom began, she became a huge motivator for being healthy. I wanted more than anything to be a good role model for her.  I want her to have a chance not to struggle with her weight like I always have.
Those two things are still huge motivators for me. They never went away; I just forgot how important they were in the midst of my own life circumstances. Here is me now. Heavier. Less fit. Less healthy. But now I know my purpose for getting fitter and healthier again.
So, what is your “why”? If you have gotten off track, take some time to reflect and think about the biggest things that motivate you on your journey. It has to be something deeper than “I want to look good” or “I want to fit into my skinny jeans”. Your “why” has got to be something that can push you to do your workout even when you’re tired and have low motivation. It has to be something that will give you that extra push to do food prep every week so you don’t run through the drive-thru when you’re hungry and unprepared.
If you have never thought about what your “why” might be, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and write out your own mission statement. This is what mine looks like:
“It is my goal to be fit and healthy so that I can be a good role model for my daughter and overcome the unhealthy lifestyle that is prevalent in my family.”
The best way to start figuring out your “why” is just to brainstorm all of the reasons you are even exercising already. Some of them are deep and some of them are a bit more shallow. For example, I would love to be the “hot ex”, but that is far from a deep purpose for me. It is, however a good motivator for those days when you don’t feel like pushing it at the gym!
All of our fitness stories look a bit different and so should our “Why”. So, tell me, what is your “Why”?

Get Uncomfortable

Three weeks ago I had the honor of travelling to Pittsburgh to meet with Maria and a few of the other No Excuse Mom’s from nearby areas. I live a little over 2 ½ hours away from Pittsburgh, but I knew when I heard that she was doing her marathon there, that I had to be there, too.
I had a wonderful trip, met the other wonderful ladies… and frankly, I was hugely inspired and encouraged by all of them. In complete honesty, one part of me was terrified of going there.

  • I have gained 20 pounds since meeting Maria first two years ago
  • Progress has been slow
  • And I was deathly afraid I would be the chubbiest NEM there.

I know, I know… Don’t laugh please.
Do you know what I forgot with all three of the above insecurities..?
We are all moms.
We are all humans.
…and we have all been there.
And anyways, by the time I met with all of the girls, my own insecurities were the last thing on my mind. No one there seemed the least bit judgemental. And Maria was so supportive and encouraging about my “current condition” and tried to get me to stop bashing myself.
I had a great opportunity to spend a couple of hours just with her and it was so good for me. Of all the great things we talked about, the one that stuck in my mind the most is this:
I’m comfortable.
I am at a place where my life is pretty predictable. I know when I wake up most days. I know when to take my daughter to daycare so I have time for the gym. My work schedule is pretty flexible and I set up my own hours for the most part, though I definitely have a lot to do in a week.
But it’s time to get uncomfortable.
True growth comes when you are out of your comfort zone and my comfort zone is the place I have retreated to constantly the last two years.
This week I have decided to set two large goals for myself. First, I am signing up for my first half marathon in October. Yes, this is definitely in part inspired by Maria. I have also always wanted to complete a half marathon… my mind can’t wrap around completing a full 26.2… but 13.1? Yes.
The second personal goal I have made is surrounding my career. In the past I have had a huge passion for education, wrote a continuing education course and taught it at the conference in my state. I have had an idea for another course for nearly two years, but I couldn’t bring myself to put it on paper. When I asked myself why, I realized the biggest thing that is holding me back.
The answer was the same thing that is holding me back in my fitness goals and just about everything in my life since my divorce two years ago….
Fear of failure.
It’s really hard to fail at something if you don’t even give yourself a chance to begin. After my marriage failed, I pretty much stopped believing in myself. But everything that I have a passion for in life – which happens to be a lot – is worth trying for, fighting for, and well worth risking failure for.
If you never try, then your goals will never be met.
If you’re always comfortable, then you will never reach your full potential.
Go. Live. Try.
Get Uncomfortable.
Fail if you have to.
…but get back up again.
And again.
And again…