Fitness Role Model Wendy Green

My name is Wendy Green, I am 40 years old and I live in the beautiful Union, South Carolina. I have four children all ranging from ages 7 to 23.

I discovered No Excuse Moms a few years ago when I was watching the Today Show and they had been discussing Maria’s NEM picture. I was shocked to see how she had 3 little boys but instead of using that as an excuse not to take care of herself, she made it a reason. I LOVED it!!
My usual workout routine involves at home weight training sessions 5-6 days a week using the ‘Body Beast’ program by Sagi Kaliv. I also do obstacle course race training coached by Yancy Culp 3-4 times a week. The obstacle course training includes:

  • running
  • sprints
  • heavy carries
  • hill work
  • burpees
  • pull-ups
  • tire flips
  • weighted drags
  • dead hangs
  • pull-ups

My best fit Mom tips are to drink LOTS and LOTS of water! There are so many overall benefits! My rule of thumb is a minimum of half of body weight in ounces of water (ex. 140 lb person needs at least 70 oz water daily) more when training and sweating.

  • View it as adding years to your life versus taking them away
  • Don’t change everything at once….baby steps in healthy lifestyle changes will last longer and equal giant leaps a year from now.
  • Start by making healthy food choices, the physical. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!

I wasn’t an athlete or involved in sports growing up. My parents believed in working. At 10 I got my first job at a local restaurant. This instilled a hard work ethic mentality in me and I matured much faster because of the responsibility I held.
As a teenager I enjoyed following along with workout videos…remember Tae Bo?!?! LOL!! I had come to terms that my body wasn’t made for running or being an athlete but I enjoyed being active and walking.
I became more serious about living a healthy lifestyle after having my 3rd child. I suffered severe depression and it took me to very dark places. It was so traumatic, I was coming to the point where I was planning my own suicide. My doctor was insisting that I start taking medication, but something inside me knew if I changed the food I was eating, began to exercise, focused on the positive and started putting myself higher on the priority list of self care, I would feel better. Slowly but surely through this trial and error process, I began to see positive change in myself. I started with eating wholesome homemade meals, drinking LOTS of water, educating myself on healthy foods and becoming more active with my children. We’d even use the kids as “weights” for exercises. Then I began walking in the afternoons as a stress reliever. One day I decided to start jogging, which wasn’t very far, but each time I would set goals to go a little farther. I set mailboxes, trees, light poles, even trash on the side of the road as my finish line. Even if it was just 5 steps more than the day before I was excited because I was making progress! When I signed up for my first 5k, I couldn’t imagine running 3.1 miles without stopping! Now I’ve doe many 5k’s, 12 marathons, and 1 Ultra! I still can’t believe it!
In 2015 I was introduced to Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) when a group of friends asked me to join them for a Spartan Sprint. When I completed that race the ‘warrior’ in me woke up and felt alive for the first time in a long time! Since then I’ve gotten more serious in eating food as fuel and viewing working out as training. The last 2 years competing in OCR, I’ve ran elite and still get butterflies at the start line. This past April I was fortunate to have a 3rd place podium finish for Female Masters Elite at the Ft Benning Spartan Sprint and just recently came in 10th for Female Masters Elite at the Asheville Spartan Super!
I can truly say now that I feel better at 40 than I did at 20! I choose to live this lifestyle because well, it just makes ya feel good! Most importantly, I can be the wife and mother I need to be for many years to come! It all started with, ‘No Excuses!’
Thank you, Wendy Green, for sharing your amazing story and for being an inspiring model for your local community!
Join our No Excuse Mom group online or find your local community now! Do you have a motivational story? Please send us an email at

Role Model: Jeanine Auldridge

To anyone who feels defeated and overwhelmed because of your current health status, I’ve been there. I started at 260lbs and a size 24. I couldn’t play with my kids without becoming winded. Simple things most take for granted, like turning over in bed, became difficult. I went to bed sore and woke up sore, and I was so very tired of always being tired. Please know that regardless of your starting point you CAN become a healthier version of you, but you have to take that leap and start. It won’t be easy and won’t happen overnight, but if you’re consistent it will happen. It may overwhelming at first, but take things a day or even a food choice at a time if you have to. Little changes will eventually put big changes in motion. Don’t do it for a number on the scale, a clothing size, or some life event you want to look good for (although those can be goals/motivators). Do it because you deserve to feel good and have energy. Do it because you deserve to be the healthiest version of you, the weight loss is just an added bonus.
I am Jeanine Auldridge, 37 years of age, was a nurse for 10+ years and just started as a SAHM last month!  Most of my teen/adult life has consisted of periods of losing and gaining weight through yo yo dieting, deprivation and overindulging, and overall unhealthy means. With the exception of this past (almost) year, my health was never a priority. I only wanted to be “skinny”, and didn’t put much thought into the importance of a healthy lifestyle. For the first time in my life I have a healthy relationship with both my body and with food, and it has truly been life changing!
I’ve been pregnant 7 times, and have had 6 babies, but currently have 5 children earthside. The boys are 18, 7, almost 5, almost 3, and my daughter just turned 2. My youngest children are not quite 11 months apart. My cravings mainly consisted of pickles, tomatoes, and chocolate frosting, but I ate everything in sight simply because I wanted to. Pregnant or not, I used to be overly obsessed with food. I’d go to bed full from gorging myself and thinking about what I could eat the next day. When I decided to take charge of my health I changed my mindset in regard to food. I don’t count calories, fat, carbs, serving size, etc. I eat Paleo and follow the simple rule of if I can’t plant, pick, or kill it, I don’t eat it (with the exception of ghee for cooking). I also quit my diet soda addiction and drink tons of water.
The only pregnancy I was physically active with was my 4th. I did light aerobics 3 times a week. I never “bounced back” or even tried to after any of my pregnancies. If anything I continued to bounce forward at light speed because of my obsession with unhealthy food choices, overindulging, and a sedentary lifestyle. I ate and drank anything and everything. I have no idea how many calories I averaged, but I could eat an entire pizza by myself if that is any indication.
I started this journey January 9th of this year. My youngest was 17 months at the time. Once I decided to become a healthier version of me, my workouts started out as 10-15 minute sessions on my elliptical 2 times per week because that is all I could physically handle. When weather allowed I began walking the kids to and from school while pushing the younger kids in the double stroller 3-4 times per week. Over the past 7 months my sessions on the elliptical have progressed to 35-45 minutes 4 times per week. I still walk the kids to and from school, but now wear 10lb ankle weights and take an extended route home (approximately 3.5 miles). I also do random exercises throughout the day and use weights at home a couple times a week.
With the kids still requiring so much, I find it’s easiest to get up before them to use my elliptical. After that I include them as much as possible. The younger kids make great weights for leg lifts and arm curls. And all 4 younger kids love playing “Yoga Leader” (each of us take turns being the leader and everyone copies the move or pose). I also add in some type of extra movement whenever possible whether it be squats while cooking dinner or lunges while doing laundry.
My best advice for other moms is:
(1) Take time to get in the right mindset before beginning your lifestyle changes. Overcoming my mental/emotion roadblocks in regard to food was key.
(2) Research, pick a start date, and stick to it.
(3) Food is how you nourish your body, NOT good, bad, or a reward.
(4) I know how tired you are, but I promise you will feel better once you get up and moving.
(5) It doesn’t matter where you start, just as long as you start. *6* My Bonus Tip- Love YOUR body (not some “perfect” celebrity version you see on TV) and treat it well.
My mantra and something I wholeheartedly believe- To change your body you must first change your mind. I don’t see food as good or bad, but rather as a choice, therefore I don’t believe in “cheat” days. Having said that, every blue moon I choose to have a few ice cold beers with friends and/or family. After that it’s right back to healthy choices. This journey is not about reaching some magical number on the scale or in clothing. Long story short, I don’t want to be skinny. I want to be strong.

No More Excuses Spring Challenge 2017 1st Place Winner is…..

Congratulations to Nikki Hill for winning the No More Excuses Challenge! We had so many great entries this quarter and it was really a difficult choice. Thank you to our panel for making this hard decision, with summer around the corner, everyone who completed the challenge is a winner in our book!
For winning, Nikki will receive:

  • $500 Gift Certificate to her favorite store
  • Terra-Core home trainer
  • Tiger Fitness Exclusive Vitamin/Supp Stack
  • 3 PT sessions w/ Vanessa Campos
  • Official NEM Apparel
  • Signed Belly Ball
  • X Bands Exercise KitHere is her story!

At age 21, and 320 pounds, I had my most successful weight loss at 110 pounds in 8 months. Yes, you read that right… I did it by cutting calories to 1200 and working out 3 hours a day. 1 year later, I found myself 23 and 305 pounds. Needless to say, quick fixes are a BAD IDEA.
What did it for me you’re wondering? What made me turn my life around? The answer is my kids.
My motivation is to make my kids childhood easier than mine. I struggled with bad habits at an early age. Snacking all day, eating when I wasn’t hungry, and let’s not forget drinking 2-3 sodas a day. I was never taught proper nutrition and fitness, so I’m learning about it now and leading by example so my kids grow up with it as their norm. My kids also motivate me to work on my endurance so I can keep up with them (ages 2 & 4) I get up at 4:30am 6 days a week (was 3-5 before this challenge!). When I started this challenge I thought my endurance was fine, but then I realized I couldn’t do 5 minutes at level 3 on the Stairmaster. Now I can do 60 minutes at level 5!
My strength is found by trying to do better than I did last week. Strength is an amazing feeling, I’m addicted to the sweat, and another rep. I went from hating to do squats in general, to squatting with 145 pounds on my back.
My vice is that darn scale. I recently learned when I see a number on the scale, it does something to me, whether it’s higher or lower, it doesn’t matter, that scale is 0 motivation, and provides an incredible amount of discouragement. To combat this, I don’t step on the scale more than once a month. I still use it as a tool, but every time I step on it, it’s along with measuring my body fat percentage and my measurements, which consistently go down, so the scale is at best an interesting gauge to how much muscle I’ve gained.
What I’ve learned about my body is it is incredibly strong. In 12 weeks, I went from doing 20 push-ups to 50. A 52 second plank, to 90 seconds, a 14:23 mile to 11:44. I went from 95 pound deadlifts to 135 pounds, 100 pound squats to 145 pounds, 95 pound bench press to 115 pounds, and I even got up to 420 pounds on the leg press!
The biggest thing I’ll take away from this 12-week challenge is to track my progress in all areas, not focus on the scale, and take pictures! I am a rock star, and while pounds may not be falling off, the fat around my waist, legs and arms sure are, take a look at the before/after, a picture is worth a thousand words, even though I can only write 500! ?

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.

Dietitian St. John's | Nutritionist St. John's Weight Loss | Healthy Eating | Best Healthy Snacks

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.

Asian ChowFun! (Gluten Free Option)

Here’s a very tasty recipe that is also a #glutenfree option! 🙂
Don’t forget – if you have a recipe you would like to share and be FEATURED on our No Excuse Mom website, email me at:


  • (1)  Pack of Rice Noodles (found at any Asian Market)
  • (1lb.) Fliet Mignon (or you can use chicken or sub more veggies for a #vegetarian dish)
  • (1cup)  Oyster Sauce
  • (2)  Sticks of carrots
  • (1)  Sweet Onion
  • (3-4) bunces of Baby Bok Choy
  • Olive Oil
  • Minced Garlic – I like the jar that has the minced chopped garlic because saves me cooking time 😉
  • (2 pats)  Sweet Cream Butter



  • Wash the Baby Bok Choy
  • Peel and slice carrots
  • Peel and slice onions

  • Add Olive oil to skillet on high temperature
  • Separate the rice noodles and place into the skillet with the flat side down


  • Brown both sides to your liking ( I like my noodles extra crispy!)

  • Remove from skillet
  • In same skillet, add a pat of butter and garlic, mix
  • Add in onions and carrots & cook to desired softness
  • In another skillet (or you can remove the onions & carrots and place in a bowl), add (1 tbsp.) olive oil & the Baby Bok Choy (VEGETARIAN OPTION:  you can add other veggies at this step)

  • Next, add a few tablespoons of the oyster sauce (this sauce can be a little salty, so add slowly) and cook to desired softness (remember that this veggie cooks quick!)

  • In skillet, add (2) pats of butter, garlic and the Filet Mignon (or chicken) and drizzle with the oyster sauce
  • Cook to desired meat temperature ( I tend to cook filet medium rare)


  • Once all the ingredients are cooked, COMBINE them all into your biggest skillet and mix together for 2-3 minutes
  • PLATING:  Place some of the rice noodles on a plate, and pour the meal over the noodles – don’t forget to add some of the sauce!  It’s the BEST PART! 🙂

~  Meeshie
NEM Leader San Diego County & NEM Recipe Blogger


Asian Style Garlic Tofu with Rice (Vegetarian)

Here is a tasty TOFU dish that’s quick and easy to make & is great for those who are vegetarians! You’ll need to prep steps 1-5 to let the tofu marinate for about 20-30 minutes.   🙂

  • (1) lb. of extra firm Tofu
  • Rice of your choice (1) cup or more depending on the # of eaters
    • You can sub Quinoa
  • 4-5 Green Onions
  • (2) Tbsp. Sesame Oil (or Olive Oil)
  • (1/4) cup Hoisin sauce
  • (2) Tbsp. Soy sauce
  • (2-3) cloves of minced garlic (You can also just buy the minced garlic in a jar)

1.  In a bowl, add the 3 ingredients for the sauce. Stir to combine
file_000     file_001
2.  Press the tofu between towels to remove excess moisture.
3.  Cut into about 1 inch cubes.  Now, if your “helper” (in my case, my boyfriend Andrew , who is also a #noexcuseDAD of THREE TEENAGERS 🙂 ) wants to help you line up the tofu cubes…. just let him.  LOL!!!
andrew-lining-up     tofu-no-sauce
4.  Add to the sauce and gently toss until thoroughly coated.
5.  Cover and place in fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
6.  Cook rice or Quinoa according to directions
7.  Slice green onions.
8.  In a skillet, heat 1-2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat.
9.  Add the marinated tofu and spread out in a single layer.
10.  Cook without stirring for 5 minutes or until browned on one side.
11.  Flip them, and cook for another few minutes.
12.  Add the green onions for the last minute or two of cooking.  You can add more Hoisin if your tofu looks too dry.  (I didn’t have to add any when making this dish.)
13.  Serve over a hot bed of rice (or quinoa), add a few sprinkles of sesame seeds!
If you like this recipe or have a recipe that you’d like to share & be featured on the NEM website, leave a comment below OR email me at:
(Recipe Credit:

Setting yourself up for Success Part 1: Meal Prep

Many of us have heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  Whether you are trying to get yourself into the best shape of your life or just become a healthy example for your children, there are several things you can do as preparation to set yourself up for success. This series of articles will look at the following areas:

  • Meal Prep
  • Exercise Efficiency
  • Goal Setting
  • When Life Happens

Meal prep is one of the most important aspects of changing your health and your body. Some have gone as far to say that it is 80% of your success and I wholeheartedly agree.   In my own experience, it wasn’t until I got my own eating under control that I began to see real, longlasting results.
Admittedly, weekly meal prep is relatively new to me. While I have been logging and tracking my meals on MyFitnessPal off and on for, well, years…. I have just been experimenting with meal prep up until now. Here are the most important things that I have learned.

  • Pre-Prep: First, you need to know what you are making for your week. Make a list of the foods you intend to make for your food prep and go grocery shopping for any items you need. For this reason, most people will recommend making meal prep a two day event. Day one is for planning and shopping, day two is for preparation, cooking and storing. Choose recipes that you enjoy, but be willing to try new things. Which leads me to…
  • Variety: The first mistake I made when I was starting to meal prep, was to make every day exactly identical throughout the week. Some people may be able to eat the same foods from meal to meal and day to day… but I am not one of those people! Variety is the spice of life isn’t it? Each of your meals can have at least a little variation. Whether is it just by adding different spices, adding a low calorie sauce or mixing up the types of food in each container, this will help you stave off boredom. Because when you’re bored…. You’re more likely to eat something else or make an extra trip to the drive through!
  • Portion Control: Each of your prep meals should be a balanced portion of protein, veggies and a healthy carbs. The actual portion sizes will vary depending on you, your particular goals and how you track your meals. If you’re looking for a starting point, consider about 4 ounces of protein (use a food scale for most accurate measuring), about half a cup of healthy carbs (or another 4 ounces of weight), and pretty much unlimited vegetables. Then put each of your meals into their own container and store in the fridge for easy access.
  • Track your food intake: if you haven’t been tracking your overall food intake on some sort of app or website, now is a good time to start. I will be the first person to tell you that it is my least favorite thing about getting into shape…. But it is very important. Especially when you are in your beginning stages of making life changes. If you aren’t making progress despite making other healthy changes, this is even of higher importance. While no one wants to track calories forever, seeing how much you’re really taking in every day can be a real eye opener. This also helps in your meal prep because you can see exactly how many calories each meal is going to be and tweak it accordingly if you need more or less calories. There are several good apps out there, My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. You can literally personalize everything from your target calories, how many meals you have in a day, how you want your macronutrients split (Macronutrients are Protein, Carbs and Fat)
  • Figure out how many calories your body needs. My biggest irritation about apps like MyFitnessPal is that it automatically sets people up for 1200 calories per day. For most active people, this is NOT enough calories and may actually put your body into starvation mode. There are many online calculators for finding out your BMR (basal metabolic rate: the amount that you burn daily without doing anything at all. Don’t confuse with BMI which is a number that puts you into healthy, underweight or overweight ranges.) This can be a starting point for your calorie intake. The more you do in your day physically, the more calories you will require. However, if you are exercising, your body needs more calories. Just not too many calories. It is a balance that requires diligence and that’s why knowing as much as you can about your own metabolism and dietary needs is very important. For a BMI Calculator, go here.

Meal prep is not made to be an end all for eating for the week. It’s meant to make eating healthy easier, more convenient and more enjoyable. Hopefully this information will give you a starting point for meal prep and help you overcome some of the hurdles I have had myself.  Good luck and happy meal-prepping!

6 Tips for Self-Motivation

One of the very first (and most difficult) steps to making a lifestyle change is finding the motivation. Without it, we may know the ‘right’ things to do, but not quite be able to put that into practice.
You, like many others, might struggle with self-motivation from time to time. This means you may have a hard time getting yourself to your regularly scheduled workout, or will try and find more and more reasons to stray away from your healthy changes.
But guess what? You won’t be alone! We all struggle with motivation sometimes, but here are some tips that can help you self-motivate and reach your goals.

A healthy dose of motivation coupled with determination will get you almost anything in life (again sometimes it just takes time and effort to find it). So how do you know if you’re genuinely motivated?

  • Motivation will tell you to get to your workout no matter what.
  • Motivation will nag you to put down the doughnut.
  • Motivation makes passing on fries a reflex.
  • Motivation makes a sweat drenched workout exciting.
  • Motivation constantly reminds you why you do what you do.

The key to staying motivated is similar to fuel in a car—you don’t need the motivation tank to be full to drive, you just need to prevent it from running empty. Do not waste precious time and energy on staying highly motivated because motivation has a natural rhythm. Most people see a drop in motivation as a signal of failure, but it’s not. Weight loss and lifestyle changes are not a linear process; it is an up and down roller coaster ride – as with success in anything in life.
Self-Motivating Tip #1: Find Your Motivator.
Motivation stems from having a goal. What is your goal? Why do you want to get into great shape and/or make a lifestyle change?
Once you uncover your personal motivator you’ll find that motivation flows quickly your way.
Take a minute to really uncover the reason that you want to lose the weight. Don’t say something vague like you want to ‘Be thinner’ or ‘Look more attractive.’ Dig deeper – there is a very specific motivator in your life, you simply need to uncover it.
Here are some possible motivators…

  • I want to have more energy to keep up with the kids.
  • I want to improve my health through weight loss to extend and improve my life.
  • I want to lose 15 pounds before my vacation.
  • I want to restore my confidence to wear sleeveless shirts.
  • I want to regain my figure to impress and attract my significant other.

It’s great that you have the family wedding to motivate you in the meantime, but try and find some other motivators so that when the wedding has come and gone, you will still have that drive and determination.
Keep reminding yourself why you started in the first place, and that continuing to push forward in any way will get you further 3 months, 1 year, 5 years from now. Many people find asking the following questions help:

  • If I stop making changes, how will I feel in six months or one year from now?
  • If I stop making changes, what will my health be like?
  • If I stop making changes, how will my family and friends be affected?

Self-Motivating Tip #2: Make It Official.
When you write something down it tends to feel more official. Write down your motivator for getting into great shape, and post it where you will see it often—next to your alarm clock, on the bathroom mirror, or in your car.
Each time you see your written motivator take a moment to visualize yourself accomplishing your goal. Try to make the scene as clear in your mind as possible. This is a powerful tool for maintaining your focus and direction.
Even posting on Facebook your plans and goals can be a huge motivator – the more you tell people about your goals, the more drive you will have to achieve them.
Self-Motivating Tip #3: Be Practical.
It’s game plan time. You know what you want, and now you need to map out exactly how you’ll achieve it. It is important to be practical in your planning, rather than throwing out ideas that you know you won’t stick with. The secret to success is to break down your healthy living goals into mini goals that are easy to manage. Start with one small, clear goal that is right for you. This is often referred to as developing ‘SMART’ goals. SMART stands for goals that are: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-framed. Setting “SMART” goals can also help you achieve bigger goals you may want to set for yourself over time. For more info on SMART goals, visit here.
With any weight loss goal it is important to 1) maintain a healthy diet, and 2) participate in a consistent and challenging exercise program.
Plan a routine that will fit into your schedule and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. It is important to sit down and find the best days and times to fit it in. Then write it in a schedule and treat it like a an important commitment!
Self-Motivating Tip #4: Call For Backup.
Enlist the support of your friends, family and co-workers if you can. Tell everyone about your goal to lose weight and get fit, you’ll be surprised how supportive most people will be. By being open about your goals you’ll likely be an encouragement to others to make healthy changes in their own lives. And if they don’t that’s okay! But finding at least one person and supporter could help significantly. Even an online community such as a local free ‘No Excuse Mom’ group, or the larger ‘No Excuse Moms’ Facebook support group could help you stay motivated.
Self-Motivating Tip #5: Be Easy on Yourself.
If you notice that your motivation is waning, give yourself a break from your diet or exercise plan for one to three days. The problem with motivation is that the more people try to ‘catch’ it, the more elusive it becomes; by allowing it to run its natural course and at the same time having a set of habit-changing skills (such as a meal plan for the week), you’ll stay on track and your motivation levels will run their natural course.
Self-Motivating Tip #6: Practice Integrity in Other Areas of Your Life.
For example, clean out your closet (finally), pay off your debts, make good on your promises to friends, family, or co-workers. Practice sticking with promises or commitments you’ve made in other areas of your life in order to strengthen your own subconscious belief that you are able to uphold the promise of losing weight that you’ve made to yourself.
If you need help with developing SMART goals, finding your motivation, or someone to provide you with the knowledge and support to help you with your journey, I now offer 25% off my services for NEM members (use the promo code NEM25). Click here to see an overview of the services I offer. All counseling programs include a customized meal guide (breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks), calculation of Total Estimated Energy Expenditure (daily caloric requirements to reach your goals), continuous one-on-one counseling and support, recipes, progress assessments and plan adjustments (if necessary), and more.
– Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)

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.

Intention versus Conviction

I had a conversation the other day and was talking about my intention on a certain topic. It had nothing to do with weight loss or having a change in your habits or anything along those lines, but the thought process was the same. We have times in our lives when you have every intention of doing something, even if it’s going to be hard for you. But after giving it more thought after our conversation I started to think about intentions… Intentions are often broken. Intentions are something that is well meaning but aren’t always really that important to us. What I was talking about that day was actually something I had deep convictions about; it was much more than just an intention… Which got me thinking about my efforts to get back to being healthy. As much as I hate to admit it, the reason that I’m still struggling so much day today is because it really is just an intention at this point and not a real conviction or commitment. Sure, I have made goals. I have tried to set myself up for success. I have tried to make new habits. But when it comes down to it, I really haven’t been wholeheartedly, unendingly committed to my fitness efforts. They are still expendable. If it is too snowy, if my daughter is too fussy, if I have any other reasons or excuses that come up then the first thing to go is my workout and especially my eating habits. I have actually been pretty good at keeping up with how many times I intend to work out in a week, but my eating have really been another story. I realized that I still have some works in my mind to do to make that jump from intentions to commitment and conviction.
So I decided to sign up for the No Excuse Mom transformation challenge and I have devoted myself to every standard that it sets. The first reason that this can help me personally to take my goals from intention to commitment is because I am vested. When you pay any amount for something, you have a personal investment. Plus, by blogging here (and stating that this is my commitment) now I feel responsible to each person who reads this to try hard to do my best. Finally, all of the things that go along with the transformation challenge will set me up for success, too. I made my fitness calendar, took my weight and measurements, took before pictures, and got my recommendations from Maria on my eating and exercising. As an added bonus, since I was single this Valentine’s Day, I bought Maria’s Belly Ball and DVD ab workout, which I will be doing as well. My stomach has never been beautiful. So I look forward to the potential this has for me!
I will continue to document my journey here, so hang in there with me. 🙂 Wish me luck these next twelve weeks!

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
‌• 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
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
‌• 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
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
‌• 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
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.
Recipe courtesy of: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts
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.