Mariathon Virtual Race


Exciting NEWS! As many know i am training for my first marathon alongside my sponsor GNC on May 1st in Pittsburgh, PA! If you’ve been following me for a long time, you know that I don’t consider myself a natural runner. I prefer Zumba over any type of cardio and have a serious fear of running outside, so I’m really stepping outside my comfort zone! I CHALLENGE YOU to step out of your comfort zone too!
I propose you run on Sunday, May 1st with me, wherever you are in the world, whether it’s on a treadmill, in a park or on a trail – wherever you are, RUN WITH ME! For a registration of $25 you will receive a downloadable bib for a 5k/10k/Half Marathon and a form that donates $10 of your entry towards your local No Excuse Mom (NEM) group. NEM groups host free workouts in your community in an effort to raise healthier families.
You will receive a No Excuse Runner Medal and a chance to win a $500 GNC Gift card! We want to see your journey, so hashtag #mariathon #gnclivewell and #noexcuserunner
Register HERE now!
Join our Event Page on Facebook.
GNC
GNC sells an array of products that you can buy with your $500 gift card,
including vitamins, probiotics and herbal products! Here’s a LINK to my vitamin program!
medal
Our No Excuse Runner Medal is included in each purchase!
training programs
6-week training programs included in registration!

Make Your Own Protein/Energy Bars!

Protein bars used to be more aimed for hikers who are on the go for long periods of time, or extreme athletes on the go. Now they are becoming more mainstream and used as snacks, and that’s okay, it’s just important to choose the right ones, and use them in the right way depending on your goals.
The protein and fibre in these bars, can help keep you full and satisfied if you need something quick to tie you over until your next meal. You can eat them on the go to help prevent you from getting too hangry…we all know how we can make bad decisions when we’re hangry. These types of bars are also going to manage your blood sugars and energy levels much better than a sugary chocolate bar alone, where you get a spike and energy, and then a crash, whereas the protein and fibre in the energy bars will help delay digestion and help manage blood sugar and energy levels).
If you’re choosing a store bought protein bar it should ideally be: high in protein (10g or more), high in fibre (3g or more), low in calories (150-250 cals, depending on your goals and if you’re male or female), low in saturated fat (1.5g or less), low in sugar (around 10g or less), and low in total net carb (ideally 15-30g, again depending on your goals and if you’re male or female). If you get more vitamins and minerals in there such as calcium or iron, then that’s even more nutritional bang for your buck! You also want to consider your ingredients list for things like where your protein is coming from and the types of ingredients in the bar.
Now for the recipes! The best thing? None of them have to be baked, and all can be kept in the freezer!
Chocolate Espresso Protein Balls
IMG_8632
Ingredients:
‌• 1 cup oats (gluten free, if needed)
‌• 2 Tbsp Chocolate Vega One Nutritional Shake
‌• ¼ cup chocolate chips
‌• 10 chopped dark chocolate covered espresso beans, OR, two tsp espresso coffee powder
‌• ½ cup almond butter
‌• ½ cup flaxseed meal
‌• 1 Tbsp chia seeds
‌• ⅓ cup maple syrup
‌• 1 tsp vanilla extract
‌• 1 pinch of salt
Directions:
Mix all ingredients together (By hand or stand mixer) in a bowl and then refrigerate for 20-45 minutes to set (optional).
Remove and make into balls, with a small scooper or your hands.
Note: You can also roll these into toasted coconut flakes or raw cacao powder, and you can also press these into a pan, chill, and then cut into bars.
Place in an airtight container to refrigerate. Will last 5-7 days but most likely they will be long gone before that!
Recipe courtesy of: Vega
Lemon Coconut Energy Balls
IMG_9327
Ingredients:
‌• 8 pitted Medjool dates
‌• ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
‌• Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
‌• ½ tsp vanilla extract
‌• ½ cup coconut flour
‌• 1 serving Vanilla Vega Protein & Greens, OR, Vanilla Vega One Nutritional Shake
‌• Pinch of salt
‌• 1-2 Tbsp almond milk, if needed
‌• Unsweetened shredded coconut (I used toasted coconut), for rolling
Directions:
Place dates, applesauce, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large food processor. Process until dates look nearly pureed and mixture is very-well combined.
Add coconut flour, protein powder, and salt. Process until mixture forms a smooth ball of “dough.” (If mixture looks too dry, add almond milk.)
Roll into 12 balls (or more).
Place about ½ cup coconut in a small bowl and roll balls in coconut, if desired. I rolled the balls in almond milk first to make coconut stick better. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, or freezer. You can also press these into a pan, chill, and then cut into bars.
Recipe Courtesy of: Vega
Raw Hemp Chia Seed Bars
IMG_9075
Ingredients:
‌• 3 1/2 cups oats (gluten-free, if needed)
• 1/2 cup Hemp Hearts
• 1/2 cup chia seeds
• 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
• 3/4 cups almonds (ground in tiny pieces), or almond meal
• 1/2 cup agave syrup, honey, or maple syrup
• 1/2 cup applesauce
• 3/4 cups almond or peanut butter
• 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted/liquid)
• 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together (oats, hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flax seed meal, ground almonds or almond meal).
In a medium sized bowl, mix all wet ingredients together (honey or other liquid sweetener, applesauce, almond butter, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract).
Take the wet ingredient mixture and combine in the large bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until well combined, using your hands if needed.
Put the mixture in an 8 x 8 glass baking dish and press the mixture firmly. Put in the refrigerator or freezer to chill or until the mixture is firm.bCut into even size bars or smaller sized squares.
Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve because they will get soft if left out at room temperature.
IMG_1575
Recipe courtesy of: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts
Enjoy!
felicia2
Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. She is also a Registered Dietitian (candidate). 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; 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. Another one of her passions 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 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’.
Read more about her story here, and on her Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.

Make Your Own Smoothies!

Let me first tell you…you may or may not know this…but you do not need smoothies, shakes, protein drinks, meal replacement smoothies – whatever you want to call them – to lose weight, or gain muscle, etc. Okay…now that’s out of the way…but let me explain why.
All of the nutrients (and more) found in smoothies, can be also included in regular snacks and meals. In other words, a smoothie is no better than a bowl of Greek yogurt, berries, and mixed nuts and seeds; or a piece of baked chicken, ½ cup of quinoa, and half plate of veggies, etc., etc. However, smoothies are a great way to get in nutrients if you are busy, on the go, and need something quick and convenient, or if you simply enjoy having one!
What I do recommend as a healthy diet for the general population, and one that supports weight loss, is one that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains or other complex carbohydrates, dairy products or dairy alternatives, seafood, lean proteins, legumes and nuts while reducing red and processed meat, refined grains, and sugary foods and beverages. While also – and these are just some examples – moving more, reducing the amount of calories you eat/eating at a caloric deficit (for weight loss; which means you figure out your Total Daily Energy Requirement (TDEE) – from a professional, or a reputable online site – and eat about 5-600 less than that per day), gaining help and support from a professional if necessary (or even a supportive friend or group), getting adequate sleep, trying to manage stress, working on becoming more organized, and reducing the negativity in your life (weight loss has a psychological component as well, and when we feel better in other aspects of life, we can be more successful in reaching our goals).
Another thing I want you to know, is that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on shakes per month if you would like to use smoothies/protein shakes. They can be made with as many or little ingredients as you have access to, and still pack an extreme nutrient punch and keep you full until your next meal.
Here is a list of smoothie ingredients to chose from. All you need is at least one from each category (ideally), and you will have a great smoothie!
 
Protein:

  • Plain yogurt
  • Plain, chocolate or vanilla unsweetened milk (cows, goats, almond, soy, cashew, or rice, depending on preference)
  • Plain kefir (high in probiotics)
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Tofu
  • Protein powder (whether you go for the most nutritious out there, or a more cost effective one – do what works for you and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it!)
  • Almonds, or any other type of nuts (small amount)

Fruits: (can be fresh or frozen, if fresh it is best to use some ice)

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Melon
  • Cherries
  • Apricot
  • Pomegranate seeds

Vegetables: (I find these are the best to use)

  • Carrot
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber

Flavour and Added Nutrition:

  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seed
  • Hemp hearts
  • Old-fashioned oats (will add complex carbs and fibre to keep you full longer)
  • Spices (e.g., cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cayenne)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Coconut water
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Mint leaves
  • If you must have added sweetness, use a small amount (1 tsp or less) of your choice of sweetener or sugar (however, the fruit, vanilla beverages and extract, and cinnamon will usually add enough): stevia, Splenda, sugar, cane sugar honey, pure maple syrup
  • Completely optional and not necessary if you’re adding your own nutrients, but some other options for added flavor and nutrients are:

Note: blend ingredients in a blender or magic bullet (easiest for cleanup).
 
Tips on Purchasing Smoothie Ingredients:
Any time you make healthy swaps in your pantry, it doesn’t have to happen overnight. You may not be used to buying all of these ingredients, and you may not the means or access to get everything right away. Here are some general tips for stocking up the pantry in general, and for smoothies:

  • Purchase 1-2 new ingredients at a time.
  • Check local flyers for sales. More and more grocery stores are having sales on healthier items such as chia, flax and hemp seeds. There are also apps such as ‘Flipp’ that check local flyers for you when you search for a specific ingredient.
  • The larger you can buy of the item the better (if possible), it will last you longer and give you more time to add other staples to the pantry. However, certain items will also have sample sizes you can buy or find (e.g., Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts small package for $2.99, and Vega One Single Protein Packages for $3.99),
  • Frozen is better for smoothies than fresh in my opinion, as they keep for a long time in your freezer, and won’t go bad in your fridge within the week.
  • Even a smoothie with 5-6 ingredients from the list above (1-2 from each category), will be delicious and nutritious.

For more tips on eating healthy on a budget, see my previous post.
 
Protein Powder Examples:
Vega One (My personal favourite, as it is high in fibre, protein, and many other nutrients; made from all natural, nutritious foods; vegan; gluten-free; 6 servings of greens; also includes probiotics and digestive enzymes)
Kaizen Naturals
Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal
LeanFit Complete Green or Whey Isolate Protein (available in some grocery stores or at Costco)
 
Tips When Choosing a Cost-Effective Protein Powder: 
Look for:

  • Low sugar (ideally 3g or less; make sure it is not top 3 in the ingredient list)
  • Low saturated fat (ideally 1.5g or less)
  • High protein (ideally 15-30g, depending on goals)
  • High fibre (ideally 3-5g)
  • Nutrients such as vitamins and minerals (calcium, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, etc., are an added bonus).
  • Whey Protein Isolate is better than ‘Whey’ only
  • For Vegans: hemp and soy protein powders are great because they contain complete proteins, however, other options such as brown rice protein and pea protein are still great, as long as you are getting other protein sources throughout the day.

 
Smoothie Recipes:
Kale and Berry Power Smoothie
IMG_8067

  • 1/3 cup of blueberries
  • 1/3 cup of strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of spinach or kale leaves (remove the hard parts of the kale stalks)
  • 1/3 of a cup of unsweetened vanilla milk of choice, or water (kefir for greatest nutrition and digestive benefits)
  • 1/3 cup yogurt of choice (Greek for highest protein)
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp powder or seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

 
Chocolate Banana Smoothie
IMG_8072

  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened vanilla milk of choice, or water (kefir for greatest nutrition benefits)
  • 1/3 cup yogurt of choice (Greek for highest protein)
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1/2 to 1 scoop protein, or 1-2 tbsp hemp, chia, or flax seeds, or 1-2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 I hope this helps some of you with making your own smoothies, and not feeling like you have to buy expensive smoothies or products to work towards a healthier lifestyle! 
 
felicia2
Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. 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; 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. Another one of her passions 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 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’.
Read more about her story here, and on her Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.
 

Why We Are Not Failures, And The Truth About Fad Diets

This post will discuss why changing our habits is not supposed to be easy, why we are not failures if we struggle to make changes, how to choose the right weight loss program, and how someone can lose weight in this day and age. 
A Brief Introduction – We are not failures…and why it’s not supposed to be easy.
There is a juxtaposition between the commonly held believe that weight loss is easy, and the extremely real, solid evidence that it is not. This leads many individuals to believe that weight is a reflection of personal weakness and failed character, and that success is predetermined by your ability to suffer and endure hardship (that is often required with fad/restrictive diets). Not only do these fad, and sometimes extremely restrictive diets not work, but these diets themselves may break people. Many people feel that if they cannot adhere to these restrictive diets long term, that they are failures and just can’t resist temptation. Could it simply be that in just 50 short years the world has gone from a willful place to one filled with weakness?
Here you are: you may have battled your weight possibly even since childhood, you’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on various dieting efforts, and you’re blaming your own lack of willpower? As I see it as evidenced by your ongoing commitment over the years, you have incredible amounts of willpower. I’d go so far as to wager that in all likelihood, you have spent more willpower on weight management than on any other area in your life.
So is it a lack of willpower that has led to the tripling of childhood obesity rates over the course of the past 40 years? Have we suddenly raised a generation of toddlers and elementary school kids who just don’t have the same willpower of prior generations?
Of course not.
It’s not about willpower. If it were about willpower, if it were about just wanting it badly enough, the world would be skinny. It’s about change and it’s about beliefs.
In terms of change, the world is very, very different from what it was just 50 short years ago, and there are many, many things that have an impact upon a person’s choices and weight. These days, cheap calories are everywhere and everyone’s telling us to eat them. Where we used to go to buy gas, there are now junk-food supermarkets. Where eating out used to be a rare treat, it’s now affordable and convenient enough to be a multiple-time-a-week occurrence. And, of course, there are supersized portions and tens of billions of dollars a year of food industry advertising to now contend with, coupled with the fact that high fat/sugar/salt foods light up the pleasure centres in our brains and become addictive, on top of the fact that cost of living has increased dramatically and wage rates have not increased to match inflation (leaving people less and less money to live) – and the list goes on!
It’s a different world now, and the default in this world is weight gain, and simple, brute-force willpower doesn’t stand a chance (for most individuals anyway), without the right knowledge, support, and a few ups and downs along the way.
Why Extreme Fad Diets Do Not Work
A fad diet is a weight loss plan or aid that promises dramatic results. These diets typically don’t result in long-term weight loss and they are usually not very healthy. In fact, some of these diets can actually be dangerous to your health. Examples of these include the ‘Military Diet’, the ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, extremely low calorie diets, etc.
Weight Cycling and Metabolic Slowdown
The more restrictively a person diets, the more likely they are to experience regular weight cycling. It’s like the infamous ‘yo-yo’ effect, but unlike a yo-yo, sometimes the upswing winds up at a higher location than where it started.
The biggest danger to aggressive weight cycling is metabolic slowdown. If a person undertakes an extremely restrictive diet, they are likely to lose a disproportionate amount of muscle – meaning that losing 50 pounds in a very short period of time will cause a greater loss of muscle tissue than losing the same amount of pounds slowly. Muscle is responsible for a fair amount of our total daily caloric burn, and is also of course responsible for much of our feelings of vigor and energy. Consequently, an ultra-rapid 50-pound loss may lead a person to not only lose the actual strength to continue with their efforts, but also suffer from a disproportionate loss of muscle and perhaps an amplified near-starvation adapted metabolic response.
This phenomenon may help to explain why it Is that people who lose large amounts of weight rapidly often regain more than they’d lost despite in fact not eating more than they used to. If that person goes back to the life they were living before their ultra-rapid weight loss (which many do at some point in their lifetime), even though they are not eating any more than they did prior to losing weight, they’ll gain it back more than they lost because their body now burns fewer calories than it used to. Also, the weight they gain back will primarily be fat, which is often why body fat percentages often climb higher following a weight cycle. Click here, here, here or here, for examples of research articles that explain some of the many mechanisms behind weight cycling and metabolic slowdown.
So, how do you choose the right weight loss program, you might ask?
Look for “Red Flags”
The weight loss industry is not regulated, and typically uses appealing marketing ploys, and/or anecdotal stories to make you believe that it is the be all end all weight loss solution. It is up to you to choose a safe and trustworthy weight loss program (not to say you aren’t allowed to get sucked into the wrong program once or twice – we’re all human!).
Here are some “red flags” that may tell you that a program does not meet your health needs:

  • Promises fast weight-loss (more than one kilogram (two pounds) per week).
  • Recommends a very low calorie diet plan (below 800 calories) per day) without medical supervision.
  • Does not encourage long term realistic lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle and overall health. E.g., diets that recommend excluding large groups of food or extreme calorie restriction such as the ‘Military Diet’, ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, etc.
  • Tries to make you dependent on their company by selling you products such as foods or supplements rather than teaching you how to make good choices from regular grocery store food.
  • Does not encourage long term realistic lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle and overall health. E.g., diets that recommend excluding large groups of food or extreme calorie restriction such as the ‘Military Diet’, ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, etc.
  • Employs salespeople who act as “counselors”, but are only trained on the program and the company’s products and not on healthy approaches to help you change your behaviour to help you lose weight.
  • Requires you to sign a long term, expensive contract.
  • Pressures you to sign up right away by offering a “special price”.
  • Does not tell you about risks that may go along with weight loss or their specific program (for example: if you have diabetes and take prescription medication, it may affect you differently after you lose weight).
  • Promotes weight loss aids like starch blockers, fat-burners, herbs, supplements or amino acids that have not been scientifically proven to have any health benefits. Talk to a dietitian or other health professional to find out this information.
  • Does not offer support or follow-up to help you lose weight and keep it off.

If it sounds too good or too easy to be true, it probably is.
So, even with a good weight loss program, how does a person lose weight in this day and age, when it seems that the default is to gain, the environment is toxic, and the deck is conclusively stacked against us, you might ask?
According to the founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, Dr. David Katz, it’s not about developing willpower, it’s about developing skillpower. The good news is that the skills required aren’t the classic triad of suffering, sacrifice, and struggle that fad diets normally require. The skills required are organization, planning, and thoughtfulness – and with those skills, it is possible not only to experience permanency with weight loss, but perhaps more important, it’s possible to enjoy a normal, healthy, and friendly relationship with food. ‘Skillpower’, while it does take time and often support to master, gets easier with time, as the more practice a person has with any particular skill, the better that person will get at it, and the more naturally it will come. It’s also about identifying what works for you and your lifestyle; which again, becomes much easier with time. We are so uniquely different – so comparing ourselves to others does not help.
– Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN, RD(c)
felicia2
Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. 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; 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. Another one of her passions 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 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’.
Read more about her story here, and on her Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.
 
 

Nutrient-Packed, Easy-To-Make, Kid-Approved Chia Seed Jam!

This chia seed jam is delicious, easy to make, and my kids even love it! An excellent source of vitamins, minerals (including iron and calcium), antioxidants and fibre, and a good source of protein and omega 3s…with a bonus of no preservatives and it tastes great.
 
Recipe:
– 4 cups fresh or frozen berries (I used 1 bag of Compliments frozen Jumbleberry Blend)
– 4 tbsp (60 ml) pure maple syrup or other sweetener of choice (I used Compliments organic pure maple syrup)
– 2-4 tbsp of chia seeds, which gel up and provide the jelly consistency (I used 4 tbsp to help soak up the water from the frozen berries, and I used Bobs Red Mill chia seeds)
Directions:
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the berries and maple syrup and bring to a simmer over medium to high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Lightly mash the berries with a potato masher or fork, leaving some whole for texture.
2. Stir in the chia seeds until thoroughly combined and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens to your desired consistency, or about 15 minutes.
3. Once the jam is thick, remove the pan from the heat and stir. Add sweetener to taste if desired, but not necessary.
Tip: The jam should keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks and it will thicken even more as it cools.
That’s it! Enjoy! 🙂
Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. 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; 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. Another one of her passions 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 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’.
Read more about her on her Facebook page or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.

Super Seeds!

Chia Seeds VS Hemp Hearts VS Flax Seeds – Have you seen the hype in the media and wondered which is better, or why they are considered so “super”? Then continue reading! 
Super Seed Bottom Line:

  • In fact all have great health benefits. Super seeds like chiahemp and flax are plant based alternative protein sources that provide are great sources of vitamins and minerals, fibre, healthy Omega 3 fats and phytochemicals (cancer fighting antioxidants that have other great health benefits).
  • Hemp hearts: If you are looking for a protein alternative, hemp hearts have the highest content. They also have high omega 3 content. They can also be added to yogurts, cereal or salads.
  • Chia seeds: If you are looking for a fibre boost, the richest source is chia seeds.
  • Flax: Reach for that flax to get some omega 3’s (especially if you’re not a fan of the flavour of hemp hearts). So be adventurous and start adding some seeds to your yogurts, cereals, salads or when cooking or baking.
  • All three are a great source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

A little more about each seed:
 
Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are oval and flat shaped seeds that are slightly larger than sesame seeds. They have a crisp, chewy texture with a nutty flavour. Flax seeds can be brown or yellow in colour. They are a rich source of lignans; a phytochemical which reduces cancer risk by acting as an antioxidant.
Flaxseeds can be used as an alternative for fats in many recipes. 
Substituting fat: Use 3 tablespoons (45 ml) ground flaxseed for each 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of margarine, butter or cooking oil or 1 cup of ground flax seed for 1/3 cup of oil (3:1 substitution ratio). Flax can be substituted for all or some of the fat depending on the recipe. If you choose to substitute all of the fat in the recipe with flax seed, you will need to increase your liquid by 75% of the amount of ground flax you are adding because the flaxseed will absorb moisture. Just a note: Baking with flax as a fat substitute will cause baked goods to brown more quickly.
Can be a substitute for 1 medium egg: 1 medium egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water. Let this 1:3 combination sit for several minutes together before adding to your recipe. The flax will absorb the water and gel up in a egg-like texture. Use hot water for faster results.
Tips:

  • Flax seeds need to be ground in order to reap health benefits. Ground flax seeds are the most ‘nutritious’. Grinding the seeds makes them easier to digest and helps release their nutrients. Your best bet is to enjoy ground flax seeds to get the most this seed has to offer.   You can buy ground flax seeds or grind them yourself with the tools you already have in your kitchen. Grind flax seeds at home with a coffee grinder, food processor or blender.
  • They tend to be the least expensive to buy compared to hemp hearts and chia seeds.
  • What can you do with them? Sprinkle on cereal, yogurt, or salads, or bake with it in muffins or breads.

 
Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Salvia hispanica seed is often sold under its common name “chia” as well as several trademarked names. Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet.
Chia seeds have recently gained attention as an excellent source of omega-3 fats and contain protein and minerals including as iron, calcium (18% of your calcium requirement, magnesium and zinc and antioxidants.
Chia seeds contain the most fibre/serving (11.7g) (compare that to recommended daily intake of 25 g for women and 38g/men!).
A note about fibre:
Both soluble and insoluble fibres are undigested. They are therefore not absorbed into the bloodstream. Fibre content is often listed under “Total Carbohydrates” on a Nutrition Facts label.  Because it is undigested, it provides 0 calories. Instead of being used for energy, fiber is excreted from our bodies. However they act a little different in the body…
Soluble fibre: forms thick viscous gel when mixed with water, slows down digestion, and takes longer to digest delays the emptying of the stomach and make you feel full. It has cholesterol lowering properties, helps manage blood sugars and diabetes. Examples: oatmeal, lentils, fruits and vegetables, beans, psyillum and CHIA.
Insoluble fibre: is a gut healthy fiber, helps regulate bowel movements, adds bulk/satiety to the diet, helps prevent constipation (when water intake is adequate), and passes through our intestines largely intact. Examples: whole wheat, grains, raisins, fruit and vegetable skins, brown rice, couscous.
Tips:

  • When making a food choice decision, don’t worry about choosing a specific type of fiber. Many foods such as oat, oat brans, psyllium husk and flax seed are rich in both insoluble and soluble fiber. Eating enough fiber is more important! The recommended intake of fiber for a healthy adult 26g.
  • As you increase the fiber in your diet, you may experience more intestinal gas. Increasing fiber gradually will allow your body to adapt. Because some fibers absorb water, you should also drink more water as you increase fiber.
  • How to reach 26g fiber/day:
    • Eating 26 grams of fibre daily may seem like a lot but can be obtained by:
      • Having 3-5 servings of each fruits and vegetables per day;
      • Fruit as between-meal snacks;
      • And choosing high fibre whole grains.

White VS Black Chia Seeds:
While large-scale, independent research has not been conducted because it would not be cost-effective, researchers and growers agree that black chia seeds and white chia seeds are nutritionally identical. If anything, a difference in nutritional content would more be attributed to different production locations rather than the seeds themselves.
Chia seeds can be easily digested without a need to grind the seeds (unlike flax seeds).
How to use: You can sprinkle chia seeds on cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables or add to smoothies, add to baked products such as muffins!
 
Hemp Seeds/Hearts
The hemp seeds are actually the seeds of the plant cannabis sativa; however they do not have the same active ingredients as the recreational drug.  They have the similar nutrition benefits like other nuts and seeds as they are a great source of protein and are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Contains non-heme iron and zincwhich are important for body functions.
Hemp wins for the most protein per serving when comparing flax and chia!
Contains 3X more omega-6 than omega 3’s (Note: Omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish (i.e., EPA & DHA) are associated with the heart health benefits.
They have a great nutty taste!! If you enjoy the taste of hemp seeds try them in yogurt, cereal, salads and smoothies. You can buy the seeds or hemp protein powder which has 15 g of protein per serving/4 tbsp. Approximate recommended protein intake (depending on a number of factors such as if you’re trying to build muscle): 0.8-1.5g/kg body weight, therefore 150 pounds = 68.2 kg; the approximate recommended protein intake would be = 54-102g/day.
Therefore one hemp heart serving = is roughly 20-30% of intake for day!
Here are examples of amounts of protein in other foods:

  • 1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein
  • A 3-ounce piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein
  • An 8-ounce container of Greek yogurt has about 15 grams of protein
  • 1 30g (2 tbsp) hemp heart serving has 10g protein

Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. 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; 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. Another one of her passions 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 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’.
Read more about her on her Facebook page or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.

Up Close with Felicia Newell

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Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. 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; 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. Another one of her passions 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 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’.
Read more about her on her Facebook page or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.
Here is Felicia’s incredible story!
As some of you may know, I’m your Official NEM Nutritionist-Dietitian. I am also a Mom of 4 boys under 5 (5, 3 and 18 month old twins), wife, have a full time career…and also wear many other hats (as I’m sure many of you know the feeling).
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I love the no excuse movement and what it stands for and inspires. Sure I’ve been studying nutrition in university for 8 years, but I struggle no less than other moms when it comes to food. I love chocolate, salty snacks, and wine, in no particular order. After having my second child I was 60 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. I was a young mom/student, still learning how to be a parent (not like that ever stops), and I looked to food to take my mind off my stresses (a little too much). I felt tired, sluggish, and none of my clothes fit; so I decided to start putting my learnings into practice, take my own advice, and make healthier decisions. It was a roller coaster, and still is. What many people don’t realize and/or don’t want to hear is that there truly is no one-size-fits-all magic answer to losing weight and/or being healthier. The two main reasons being 1) we are all such unique individuals (on the inside as well as the outside), and what may work for one person’s body and life may not work for another; and two life gets in the way sometimes. I truly feel that food is addictive and our environments are conducive to overeating. We must work together (not against each other) to change the environment, at the same time understanding that what methods work for one person may not work for everyone.
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So, after ups and downs, and figuring out what worked best for me (in a very basic nutshell eating less unhealthy foods, more healthy foods, and exercising more), I am the happiest I have ever been. Not just because of the loss of 60 pounds, but also because of the journey and finding myself/growing along the way (and I can thank this group for being a part of that!).
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No Excuse Water Challenge 2015 Results!

It was 30 days of Water for many people this past August! We asked that you abstain from drinking soda, juice and alcohol. We wanted you to drink enough water that accounted for at least half your body weight in ounces. We wanted you to track your progress and see if adding more clean fluid into your system would help weight loss, clearer skin, better digestion and higher energy levels.
Well, the results are in! Thank you to all who participated! All of you do an incredible job in committing yourself to 30 days of water! Our top Three Finishers are as follows:
1) Kate Hardman
Kate H I participated in the challenge last year and had amazing results! I kept up on my water intake for months! This spring life happened and stress creeped in and my water (and food for that matter) went down the tube. I was excited to see a new challenge to kind of kick my butt back in gear!
I’ve lost 2 pound! I also cleaned up my eating a bit this month so the weightless could be from either. But my headaches lessened! I’ve been experiencing stress migraines and I had far fewer in the last couple weeks than normal. But my skin. Oh my skin! I’ve always had terribly dry skin. And I’m absolutely terrible about putting on lotion. But I’ve noticed that, on my body, I haven’t looked quite so pasty and flaky – my face is wonderful! I was starting to see lines in my forehead! They’re gone! The dark circles around my eyes are a bit smaller. I developed some redness in spots on my face and those are gone! The acne that was trying to creep in (again due to the stress) is gone! And just today, a regular at the gym came up to me and commented on how wonderful my skin looked! She even stroked my face because she said it just looked so soft! Ha! (And I wasn’t wearing makeup!) My body is back on a regular digestion schedule, my stress has declined and
I followed the challenge faithfully aside from one day… I drank a glass of orange juice. It was in the beginning and I didn’t realize what I had done until the glass was empty. Otherwise just straight water and my unsweetened tea!
2) Crystal Garcia
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I’ve always drank water but not ever nearly as much as I should have. I would drink soda on occasion as well as sugary drinks. When this challenge came around I thought I was going to die without my sugary drinks. But in about 3 days those started to fade away. In my before picture I would drink maybe 60 ounces of water and that was a good day! Now I drink 110-120 ounces of water every day depending on my workouts and things. I started at 232 the beginning of August and now I’m at 224. Also along with the pounds I lost 3 inches!! Tons more energy to keep up with my 3 boys! This is my own motivation I need to keep going!!
3) Ivana Xiong
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I went from 172lbs to 168lbs. I notice my thighs are slightly smaller, face is slightly smaller, and drinking all this water daily definitely helps improved my digestive system! 🙂
 
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2015 12-week Transformation Pot Contest

On August 31st we are beginning our 2nd annual international pot transformation contest with all our No Excuse Moms! For 12 weeks, we are asking you to eat healthy, get active and be purposeful in your daily intentions. This was created to connect us as No Excuse Moms, motivate us before the holidays and transform us in a limited period of time. Contest Ends November 26th *all pictures are due by that date, which lands on Thanksgiving!
If you lose a healthy average of 1-2lbs/week for the next 12 weeks, you will be 12-25lbs lighter in 12 weeks! If you are heavily overweight, you will lose more weight. Click here to submit payment and receive an application via email.
Our Guidelines are based upon Maria Kang’s book, The No More Excuses Diet, which is also the book that launched our Facebook group page. It is available at all book retailers and is currently on sale via Amazon for $14 here.
Guidelines:
1. Drink only water, black coffee/tea
2. Eat balanced meals comprising of 30% lean protein, 30% healthy fats, 30% carbohydrates. The last 10% goes towards a small treat or protein/fat (for rest days) or carbohydrates (for training days).
3. Track your calories. If you are trying training for weight loss, lower your intake by 300 calories every few weeks.
4. Enjoy 1-2 treat meals a week.
5. Perform cardio 4 times a week for 20-30 minutes. (the shorter your cardio time the more intense it should be).
6. Perform strength training 3 times a week for 30-40 minutes.
7. Stretch daily.
8. Take a Selfie monthly (in workout clothes/swimsuit)
9. Participate and connect with your local NEM group either online or in person.
10. Identify your Target Heart Rate: 220-age * 60-85% =
11. Create a 12-week Fitness Calendar. For tips and downloadable calender click here.
12. Find accountability partners: Mentor (group leader), Supporter (friend) and Follower (someone you can guide). Find your regional leader here.
13. Be a member of our online NEM Facebook group
Contest Rules:
1. $20 opt-in payment to place into the pot.
2. All application will be emailed after payment is received and must be submitted by September 10th to your regional manager or online manager.
3. Submit before and after pics and story by November 26th
4. Must connect with closest NEM group (via online or in person). Identify your local leader.
5. Must follow NEM guidelines. No extreme dieting, diet pills, detox plans allowed.
Winners will be judged by Maria Kang and a NEM panel.
Criteria will be based upon:
40% Transformation
30% Personal Story
30% Participation
The pot money will be divided between 17 winners:
1. FIFTEEN Regional winners (including our Canada, Europe, Asia, NZ/Australia and Latin America NEMs)
2. ONE National winner
3. ONE NEM admin/leader
The way we will divide prize money will be:
30% NEM Winner
30% NEM Admin/leader Winner
30% NEM Regional Winners
10% Misc Fees and NEM Charity Bucket (everything will be accounted for and transparent for everyone to see)
For Example, if we have 500 entries this will be the breakdown:
$10,000 POT MONEY
$3000 Overall NEM winner
$3000 NEM Admin/leader winner
$200 (15 Regions: $3000) Regional leader
Leftover is $1000 which will go towards any paypal fees and the NEM charity bucket (i.e. sponsorship races)
Important Dates
Start Date: August 31st
Last date to join: September 10th
Pot Announcement: September 15th
End Date: November 26th (Thanksgiving!)
Winners Announced: December 10th
<<<CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW>>>
FAQ:
1. Do I need to count calories?
No. We provided a general guideline for those who want to know how to get started.
2. How do you define Detox?
We don’t recommend any program that allows less than 1200 calories/day. This was a general term used to avoid quick fix dieting. (which is detrimental in the long term)
3. I am pregnant, can I still join?
YES! To be fair, you can either use a before picture at the same time you were pregnant prior (if this is your second child) to demonstrate a healthier pregnancy. If this is your first time, please just provide your most recent picture. (BTW: we’ve had a pregnant mom grace the pages of our swimsuit calendar)
4. Can I use a ‘before’ picture that was taken earlier this year?
Please provide the picture taken this month (August 2015). Please submit two photos. One holding a daily newspaper and one without. You can also include a picture taken prior but it will not be used in the final judging.
5. Do I need to be a mom?
No! Stepmoms, grandmothers, mom of doggies…are all able to join!
6. Do I HAVE to join a local group?
Yes – you can either create your own (if there is no one next to you) or join the closest group either online or in person. The reason why this is required is to align you with positive people and create lasting, healthy friendships.
7. Will I know the total pot money?
Yes! On Sep 15th we will announce how many people have entered and what is up for grabs! We will also announce pot updates the weeks leading up.
8. What does participation entail?
Posting online, commenting and supporting other participants, attending meetups and/or hasthtagging on social media streams. If you do not live near a local NEM group, join your nearest location by searching Facebook or our online locations page here.
9. There is no leader near me and I’m interested in becoming one. How do I get started?
Email us at noexcusemoms@gmail.com

No Excuse Mom Group Spotlight: Mesquite, Nevada

Leader: McKel Springer
Regional Manager: Juanita Verdin
Group Formed: January 2014
****In addition to being an amazing local group leader, McKel is our No Excuse Mom Locations Manager. She is responsible for maintaining our database of over 350 local groups! Thank you for everything you do for No Excuse Mom, McKel!!!*****
When did you become a NEM? Do you have a personal transformation story?
I have always been “Heavier” though I have always been active, I was always taller, more muscular than all my peers which I saw as a flaw. I suffered from depression, body image issues, anxiety, emotional eating, and horrible self talk.
The biggest transformation I have made personally is how I see myself. Though there are times where old habits start to make their way back, I have learned to recognize my triggers and instead of viewing myself as “Heavy” I now view myself as strong, I focus on what my body has done and can do not what it is lacking. If I am having a really bad day I focus on the fact my body carried two amazing healthy babies – that right there makes me chose to love it & treat it well.
I am a work in progress, my battle is not a physical one but a mental one and with the Help of NEM I am getting mentally stronger and stronger each day.
What inspired you to start a group? Tell us more about the city/state/country you lead!
We live in a very small town with only one very pricey gym that offers daycare.
I had started thinking about getting a few ladies together for walks when Maria’s 1st photo of her and her 3 boys started a Media fire. I started following the “hot facebook mom” and loved that she was fit, but she is human. What really got me interested in NEM is how transparent she is. No gimmicks, No half truth, she has been there done that, had the same struggles as all of her NEM followers. She is open about her past, her faith, her challenges, and never compromises her values no matter the media pressure, or negativity people throw her way. She is Maria -take her as is or leave her!
What has been your most rewarding experience as a group leader?
Watching members of my group accomplish their goals…..from weight lose, active pregnancies, postpartum returns, strength goals and distance. They not only have accomplished them, they shattered them!
What kind of workouts do you do?
A great mix of Strength training, cardio drills, Yoga, and walk/runs
Has your group participated in any events or charity fundraisers?
We participate in the Mesquite Breast Cancer Zumbathon, & hope to join a few charity run runs this year.
How has becoming a leader changed your life?
I tried working at a local Rec Center instructing group fitness, but with no daycare I had to take my kids with me and it’s impossible to teach and chase little ones. NEM has given me the freedom to put my health first, but not at the expense of my family. NEM moms make their health a priority, but understand that life happens. I have made working out a part of my daily routine, and it started with becoming a NEM leader.
How has becoming a leader affected your family?
My boys LOVE workouts!!! They have made friends, learned that being active is fun, and most mornings ask when we are going to work out. They crave being active, which is BIG for us since they are tech smart kids. Days we get out and play we have fewer “freak outs”, they sleep better, and are over all more balanced.
What is your favorite part of leading a group?
The friendships! These moms are amazing, they support, love, encourage, and build each other up. It’s not just about getting our workout in and leaving. We are truly friends. We have frequent play dates, birthday parties, baby showers, and mom nights. We babysit for each other, and it is priceless to have moms with similar goals, and lifestyles as you.
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