Function and Fitness Blog
Function and Fitness Blog
Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Strategies for Eating with Friends and Family

One of the things I hear the most is how hard it is to “stay good” when out with friends and family. How are you supposed to reach for carrots when everyone else is reaching for chips and salsa? What ends of happening to me is I go with the carrots at first and then end up reaching for the chips in the end anyway… thus resulting in me being wayyyyy fuller than I should be.

Knowing how hard it is, I thought it might be helpful to do a blog about strategies you can tap into when you know you’re going to be a social butterfly.

Order first. Studies have proven that a group of people will base their food choices off of what the first person orders. Consider it a form of peer pressure. If you’re out at a restaurant try to be the first one to order so that 1, you set the tone for everyone around you, and 2, so that you’re not swayed by the person that orders the extra cheese family portion sized lasagna.

Here’s my caveat to the point above: you’re going to get pressure from people. They’re going to say, “What? You’re ordering a salad?” You know what your goals are. Stay firm with them. Yeah, you did order a salad! And Yeah, you’re going to enjoy that salad and not feeling over-stuffed two hours later.

Be a part of the conversation. It’s a running joke in my family that we always know food has arrived because we all get so quiet. The food gets to the table and we all shut up because we’re stuffing our faces. Chances are when you’re out with friends or family, it’s because you’re visiting with them. So visit. That means listening instead of chomping down on your food.

Try to be the slowest one.

Put your fork down in between bites.

Order salad first so you stock up on a little bit of healthy.

Have a snack before you leave the house. Be careful with this one, because, for me, it always seems to backfire.

Split your meal with a friend.

Choose your dish beforehand by scoping out the menu online.

Dessert OR Drinks. Not both.

Ask for butter/dressing/etc… on the side. That way you can monitor how much you’re adding to your food.

Choose a healthy dining spot.

Plan an outing that DOESN’T involve food. Like a hike. Or shopping trip, which often means splurging in a different way, but we won’t go down that alley.

The truth is, you’re going to feel like a party-pooper. It’s inevitable. For some reason, going out to eat has become code word for “free-for-all” but it doesn’t have to be that way. Remember what your goals are. And know that if you’re friends and family are really rooting for your success, they’ll eventually give you a pass for being “the healthy one” at the table.




Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Let's Listen

True story: I set up to write this blog and immediately fell back into bed and took a nap. And afterward, I was proud I did. I'm trying this new thing out it's called, "listening to my body". I think it's something we often forget to do.

For example, you might be familiar with these instances:

"My shoulder really hurts but I'm going to go to my workout anyway and see if I can work through the pain."

"Wow, I haven't eaten in like 8 hours."

Now, it's a given that a nap is not always an option. In my case, I was lucky enough that the baby had also passed out and the husband was working on something in the shed. So I took advantage of the time I had.

In many ways, having a baby has taught me to listen. During pregnancy, I napped when I could. I'm doing the same thing now, but mostly because I'm in survival mode. But in typing that I realize we do most things because we are in survival mode. We forget to eat because we're rushing around doing everything or because we got stuck in back-to-back meetings at work. We grab Burger King because we need food quickly. We work through pain because how else are we going to burn off that Burger King?

Pregnancy/ labor/ post-partum has put me on a forced time out to listen to my body. I actually can't NOT take a nap during the day because I won't be able to do the midnight feeding... or the 4 am feeding... or the crying in between. Before I might have pushed through the nap or worked through it, but there's no option for me now.

I actually can't walk the 15,000 steps I used to. Right now I'm averaging about 3-4,000... and that's on a good day. Because the rest of the day, my body is telling me "rest."

Obviously, this is a very special and different time for me than for most people's daily lives, but I encourage you to try and listen - maybe even set aside a minute where you close your eyes and really, truly check-in with yourself. Is your body saying "I need to rest" or "I need to eat" or "wow, I need some water"?

See what it says, and then, if you can, shut off the computer and take that nap.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Yes, There’s an App for Mindful Eating!

Our lives are filled with running - and usually not the kind you do on a treadmill. Most people ping-pong from here to there, picking up kids, dropping off kids, heading to the gym, grocery shopping, and then, of course, we have to schedule in time to eat a socialize. It’s a lot. And somewhere along the way, we forgot what it means to sit down and really enjoy our food. What that’s led to is a lot of “what can I grab and eat quickly?” rather than slowing down and eating our food mindfully.

Luckily, there’s an app to remind us to slow down - well, at least slow down when we eat.

As the “Eat Slowly” app boasts: 

“Slow Down, Slim Down. Eat Slowly for the iPhone was created for those of us that eat too quickly. Scientific studies state it can take 20 minutes for our brains to acknowledge the food we eat to give us that full feeling. Eating too quickly can result in overeating. Eat Slowly has been created as a training tool to help you slow down, enjoy the taste of your food, and support a healthy lifestyle.”

Slowing down is just one part of eating mindfully…

There’s also that whole “mindful part.” Mindful eating means that you also try to give your food full attention. What that means is:

  • Noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and tastes
  • Feeling for physical hunger cues, distinguishing between actual hunger and non-hunger triggers and eating only until you're full
  • Eating to maintain overall health and well-being
  • Noticing the effects food has on your emotions
  • Appreciating your food
Eating mindfully, when practiced often leads to control of your eating habits which in turn can lead to weight loss, ditching the binge eating pattern, and feeling better. Now that's a concept (and an app) I can get behind!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

To Supplement or Not to Supplement?

It’s a question I get a lot: “what supplements should I be taking?”

Like any health related questions I get, there’s never an easy answer. So, naturally, I’m about to give you a not easy answer to this.

I like to remember “supplements” for exactly what they are – a way to supplement your diet. Ideally, you’re getting everything you need from the food you’re eating. Nature (when you’re eating whole and unprocessed foods) has this magic way of prepackaging nutrients in a way that they can and should be digested. For example, an almond has Vitamin E – and also the fat content needed to help your body actually digest that Vitamin E. (Vitamin E is a “fat-soluble” vitamin).

That being said, I would say limit your supplements and eat whole and unprocessed foods.

But what if you’re not eating whole and unprocessed foods? Supplement, right?

Well, maybe not. The first thing I would recommend is trying to figure out what supplement you might be deficient in. For this, I would have you reach out to your primary doctor to get tested.

Once we have answers we can go from there.

There are some other things I’d want you to consider as well if you’re going down the supplement route:
  1. Have you looked at your nutritional intake/ made changes to your diet that would allow for you to get the deficient element from a natural source?
  2. How’s the quality of the supplement you’re taking? Are there a ton of fillers that aren’t so good and potentially negate all the good of taking that supplement? (The FDA does not regulate the production of supplements)
  3. Are there any interactions?
  4. What do I need to eat with the supplement to make sure my body absorbs it?
  5. What am I trying to achieve by taking this supplement?
Some good places to research the specific supplement and brand you’re considering are as follows:

  • ConsumerLabs.com
  • Examine.com
  • www.precisionnutrition.com/supplements

As with anything, you’re going to need to tailor your supplements to your specific needs. In other words, be smart about supplementing. Do your research on you and your specific needs. As always, if you need advice, reach out to us! We’re here to help!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

A Handier Meal

As some of you know, the (literally, it felt like) 400th time I decided to get serious about weight loss I did it all with tracking my calories in MyFitnessPal and also tracking my workouts with a heart-rate monitor. Despite my crazy aversion to math and numbers, I lived by what the numbers told me. And it worked. I lost 30 pounds and I felt awesome. Seriously, life changing, I-don’t-need-to-hide-my-arms-in-sweaters-anymore kind of awesome.

When it comes to MyFitnessPal, it comes down to portion size. You better believe that I weighed things out. Break out the measuring cups, spoons, meat scale, etc… If you’ve played the game you know how it feels measuring out every little thing. Meal prep goes from a two-minute thing to a ten-minute thing. Sure, eventually you learn what a cup of frozen yogurt or cherries roughly looks like, but it can be tiring.

When I return from baby I plan on ditching the measuring spoons and going a much easier – handier – way. Literally. I plan on using hand measurements. As in, a serving of protein = my palm, a serving of vegetables = my clenched fist, a serving of carbs = my cupped hand, and a serving of fat = my thumb.

The awesome thing about using your hand as a measuring device is that it’s scalable and portable! No more excuses for over-eating because you “didn’t know what the portion size was.”

While you’ll need to base how much of each thing you’ll get to eat on you/your activity level/your goals, a good place to start is:

For Men:

4 Meals a Day

Each meal:

2 palms of protein

2 fists of vegetables

2 cupped handfuls of carbs

2 thumbs of fat


For Women:

4 Meals a Day

Each meal:

1 palm of protein

1 fist of vegetables

1 cupped handful of carbs

1 thumb of fat

Again, this is just a starting point – you will definitely need to adjust for you. The size of your hand has already been adjusted specifically for you, but if you’re working out for an hour a day, you’ll probably need some more protein and carbs. Luckily, we can help you make those determinations!

So ditch the measuring cups and give hand measuring two thumbs up!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

The Dreaded Plateau and How to Own It

It’s a spot we all hit at a certain point in our weight loss (or life) journey – the dreaded plateau.

Though they are 100% completely normal and expected, when we hit plateaus they feel unfair, annoying, sometimes everlasting, and always discouraging. Why is it that everything was going so well and then stopped?

Plateaus happen for a number of reasons – you may need to reduce calorie intake a little more or switch up your workouts (ahem, venture into strength training). But rather than focus on why they happen, I want to focus on what you need to do to get through it – like, mentally get through it.

We often make this equation in our minds: plateau = failure. But if you can consider changing up your mindset (and I’m hoping you will), consider weight loss like moving up a mountain. As you ascend, you’re going to hit check points far before you hit the peak. And just like climbing a mountain, at each check point you re-asses what else you’ll need to get to the top. Maybe it’s more water, maybe it’s adding more steps per day, maybe it’s cutting out that nightly glass of wine… no judgment…

Sure, assessment is key but let’s also, most importantly mention that at each check point on that mountain climb you CELEBRATE reaching that check-point. You look down at all you’ve accomplished and you stretch out those triceps by patting yourself on the back. And rightfully so! If you stop thinking of plateaus as failures and see them as giant accomplishments instead you’ll be far more encouraged to keep on keeping on. Boom! I hit this check-point! What might I need to do now to get to the next one? Rather than throw in the towel and binge eat everything in your hiking pack, let’s re-evaluate what’s in that hiking pack. We could just need a slight re-calibration of sorts to get you closer to the peak.

One Last Consideration

Now here’s the thing I want you to consider – what happens when you reach the peak? Will you know you’ve reached the peak? And even a further thought – if your goal is weight loss – won’t the peak be one giant plateau?

Eventually, you will hit that point where there’s no more fat to be lost. What does that mean to you? I hope that you’ll continue climbing – but maybe up a different mountain. Maybe one named the “I want to work on doing one (or 20) amazing pull-ups” mountain or the “I want to take a TRX training course” mountain. Whatever your mountain is named, whether it be “lose 20 pounds so I can fit into my wedding dress,” or “I just want to be able to keep up with my grandkids,” we’re here to be your Sherpas!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

When All or None Means None

We’re having a “good day” – a healthy breakfast, great morning snack, really beautifully planned lunch, and then someone brings in cake to celebrate an office birthday. We have the tiniest, tiniest bite. But then, since we had the tiniest bite, we might as well have a little more. And then F*** it! Might as well have an actual sized slice. And since we did that, pizza for dinner, and might as well have dessert and a glass of wine because I already ruined the day with that cake!

This is often how dieting goes. It’s an all-or-nothing mindset where if you take a small little stumble off the wagon in even the slightest way, you might as well have just jumped off!

Let’s pull back the reigns a little bit. In fact, let’s step off the wagon. Let’s maybe not even consider getting “on the wagon” again. Whaaaa?! What could she be saying?

I’m saying it’s time to end this eternal starting and stopping thing because it’s not working.

"Slightly Better"

It’s time to consider what you’re actually doing and how to improve it. Real change comes when you change a habit. Okay, so you have a breakfast burrito every day for breakfast. How ‘bout having half of that burrito and a bowl of fruit? You still get the burrito, but you get something “slightly better” with cutting it in half and having some fruit on the side.

Let’s go back to the cake incident we started with. What would have been “slightly better” in this instance? And no, it’s not “never having the first bite.” We know you’re going to have that bite. But “slightly better” might have been having that bite with a large glass of water to fill you up. Or have a bowl of cherries with that bite of cake. Maybe a handful of almonds. Something that makes you feel satiated without having to eat a whole cake.

So okay, maybe the proposed decision still led you to the pizza for dinner. But “slightly better” might have been starting that dinner off with some vegetables or a salad. Maybe choosing dessert OR wine, instead of both.

While “slightly better” isn’t “BEST,” won’t it get you closer to that weight loss goal? I’m going to say it right now – you aren’t perfect. You may have perfect days. You may have perfect weeks. But if you’re living by an “all-or-nothing” rule, then you’re setting yourself up for a helping of “nothing.”

So next time you’re confronted with the cake/pizza/wine dilemma, ask yourself:

What would “slightly better” be?

What would “slightly worse” be?

Which choice is the one I can make right now?

I’m hoping that “slightly better” leads you to continue making “slightly better” choices that will empower you and get you closer to your goal. I’m also hoping it will help you from going down the path of free-for-all! As fun as that might be…

As always, if you need help determining you’re slightly better, never hesitate to ask any of us! 


Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Why We Don't Do Sit-Ups

For years the standard exercise routines looked like this: push-ups, squats, pull-ups and, OF COURSE, sit-ups. So whenever we mention that we don't do sit-ups in our gym, there’s no wonder that we get a lot of puzzled faces.

Here’s why we don’t do them:

Crunches are actually terrible for your back.

As Dr. Richard Guyer, president of the Texas Back Institute explains, crunches place an unhealthy strain on your back at your back’s weakest point.

“There are only so many bends or a ‘fatigue life’,” in your spinal disks,” says Stuart M. McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. As McGill explains, there's a mucus-like nucleus inside each disk of your spine, and “if you keep flexing your spine and bending the disk over and over again, that nucleus slowly breaches the layers and causes a disk bulge, or a disk herniation.” Yikes!

So how do you get those sculpted abs without the old-fashioned sit-up?

I’m always going to answer this one with the age-old adage: “abs are made in the kitchen.” We might laugh, but it’s true! We all know that you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. And you’re going to need a lower body fat percentage to actually see those cut abs.

But how do you get those “cut, strong, ripped” abs? And even better yet, how are you going to train your body to feel it’s best? By training your abs in a way that strengthens their function and what they are actually supposed to do: keeping your spine straight and secure while also providing power for your movements. As McGill explains, “the abdominals are braces.” When you’re doing any form of movement - in the gym or out of the gym —“the spine is in a neutral posture, not flexed, and the abdominal muscles are contracted to brace the spine.”

And how do you train in a way that best serves your ab’s purpose? With all those awesome core exercises we do! For example:
anti-rotation cable press out
push-ups (it’s a moving plank)
USB press-outs
basically every move we do in the gym, because YES! Your core should be engaged!
So if you’re wondering why we don’t do sit-ups, think of it this way: we’re just trying to “have your back!” As in, literally, we’re trying to save your back. And besides, you always hated sit-ups anyway.

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Reading Food Labels: Sugar

You’re trying hard to “clean” up your eating game, but when it comes to those labels, where do you start? This week we’re starting a series on how to read food labels. Today I’m going to sweet talk you - with the 411 on Sugar.

It’s no wonder that food-makers create confusing labels - if our customers are confused they’ll just give up and buy our product. But there are ways we can outsmart these witty marketers - you just have to know the tricks they use.

Why is Sugar so Bad?

Let’s talk about why you need to be on the lookout. Sugar has been linked to diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast, endometrial, and colon cancers. And that’s just to name a few things. If you want to read a little more on exactly HOW sugar is processed by your body, take a look at this article from Women’s Health

As Robert Lustig, M.D., professor of pediatrics in the division of endocrinology at the University of California – San Francisco, explains, "You could make dog poop taste good with enough sugar, and the food industry does.” The truth is food-makers add a ton of sugar to things - even when we don’t need them to! That translates to you getting way more sugar than your body actually needs.

How Much is Too Much?

According to the World Health Organization, sugar should be 5% of your diet - that equates to 6 teaspoons per day. Yup! That isn’t a lot!

All the Different Names for Sugar

Before we eliminate all the unnecessary sugar in our diets, we’re going to need to know what to look for. Here are just a few of sugar’s “alter egos” you’ll want to look for when you’re perusing those labels:
Agave Nectar
Buttered Syrup
Blackstrap Molasses
Diastatic Malt
Invert Sugar
Rice Syrup
Sorghum Syrup
Now that you know what you’re looking for you can tackle the sugar part of reading your labels!

Coach Jess
5:00 AM

Reading Food Labels: The Ingredients List

You’re trying hard to “clean” up your eating game, but when it comes to those labels, where do you start? This week we’re continuing our series on how to read food labels. Today I’m whittling down ingredients - as in - the ingredients list.

When it comes to food labels, marketers know how to complicate things, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret - a kind “go to” when it comes to deciding what you throw in your cart.

Number One Rule: If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. That means if you’re seeing a lot of sucroslaxatosiniumblahblahblah it’s probably not something you should be eating.

Highest to Lowest

Product ingredients are listed from highest to lowest amount. That means the “most used” ingredient is listed first. For example, if you are buying peanut butter, ideally peanuts are the first (and only) ingredient. Take a look at the first three ingredients - those are probably the largest parts of what you are eating - then refer back to the number one rule: can you pronounce them?

How Many Ingredients?

Another way to make sure you’re not eating a lot of junk is to look at how long the list of ingredients is. Longer than 2 to 3 lines? Chances are it’s highly processed junk.

Do Your Research

If you run across something you’ve never seen before - such as acacia gum or xanthan gum or even what “refined” versus “unrefined” is - I suggest you pull out your phone and look it up. Knowing exactly what ingredients actually are can help you decide what you want to put in your body. When it comes to the list of ingredients, knowledge really is power.

So here’s a quick checklist when you’re standing in that grocery aisle:
What are the first three ingredients?
Can I pronounce them?
Are there any odd things I should look up?
Is the list 2-3 lines or 23 lines?

Hope that helps you whittle down while you’re trying to “whittle” down your maybe not-so-clean eating habits.

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