Losing weight won’t  make you happy, but this will

Losing weight won’t make you happy, but this will

Are you still believing that if you were at your goal weight or living in your dream body, you’d be happy?
I thought having the ideal body would make me happy too. Of course I’d be more fulfilled no doubt. More confident, and successful too. That’s what they say, isn’t it? Everywhere we look. these messages are either subtly or not-so-subtly displayed for all women to see.
 
In reality the closer I got to this ideal lean body the more obsessed, self conscious, and unhappy I got. Funny, how no one seems to mention this side of weight loss.
 
If I wasn’t trying to ‘get’ the ideal body, I was anxious about keeping it. There never seemed to be the place of enjoying my body and all it could do.
Two things you should know now:
 
Your size and shape will not determine your happiness despite what society tells you.
 
And you won’t feel more confident once you’re in your ideal body or at your ideal weight.
In fact, there will never be a goal that once it’s reached will give you these feelings.

Can you be happy without waiting on weight?

What would you think if I told you you can cultivate those feelings NOW? Before you even get close to those goals you can start to feel the way about yourself you want. It sounds crazy, I know. 
Change the thoughts you have, and the meaning you’re assigning to your weight, size, cellulite, or anything else you want to ‘fix’ about yourself you can start to feel different too. 
One of the big things I think we miss, is the idea we are responsible for the meaning we attach to our circumstances. And in this example, the meaning we’ve attached to being leaner, smaller, or more toned is that we will be happier.

It’s ok if you don’t think you can…

 
I bought the lie that to be happier I had to be leaner and smaller because as I did start to lose weight, there was pressure from others to keep going. The more weight I lost, the more people praised me or made comments about how good I looked. 
This was especially true when I was 111 lbs and breastfeeding or when I was 11% body fat and super lean.
 
I felt I had to keep going even if I was miserable inside; it almost ruined my marriage; and if the way I was treating my body resembled an eating disorder.
 
i didn’t want to lose this new found affection from others, so I held on as long as I could. Like many women, I associated being fat with being unloveable or disgusting. 

What would others think?

In my mind, I had to maintain this picture perfect image of the fit ideal to be a successful fitness coach. And by successful I mean lean and thin. 
 
My fear of going back to being chubby or losing clients forced me to disordered eating behaviors. I began obsessing over food again (just like when I was a competitive figure athlete). Bingeing and restricting became the norm once again.. I shrugged all of this off for a while justifying I was just living a “balanced” lifestyle. 
 
Anxiety about keeping a perfect body resurfaced, and I found myself body checking in almost every mirror I walked by.
 
There was never a time I could enjoy life. Even when on vacay, I felt stress. I’d ‘let’ myself eat whatever I wanted, but knew it would be back on the wagon when we got home. Usually more strict than before so I could get my body back.

The tipping point for me was when I realized…

I couldn’t live the rest of my life counting calories eaten or burned or that I wasn’t actually happier in a smaller body.
 
The interesting thing, is I felt as if I was trapped in my body all over again, just in a smaller, more socially acceptable body.

Would you be shocked to know we weren’t meant to all be the same size or weight any more than we should all have the same eye color or hair color? This is hard for many women to believe because we hang our ability to be happy on what our body looks like.

we weren’t meant to all be the same size or weight any more than we should all have the same eye color or hair color?
 
I ditched prescribed meal plans and diets, and  decided to try something new instead. This was the first time I’d ever really given thoughts to my behaviors, beliefs, and habits around food.
Since following a strict or even a “flexible” diet wasn’t working, I decided to do the opposite and ditch all the rules I had about food at that point. Instead of counting anything, cutting out or limiting certain foods, I’d let my body guide me.
Instead of following food rules, I’d start creating habits. This was an entirely new way to approach food for me. 

Would this actually work for me?

 
Habits are brilliant because you don’t have to think about what you’re doing. This makes it simpler and easier to make healthier choices because you don’t have to think. Of course, habits can work for or against you. And they do take some time to develop or change. 
 
However, by removing food rules I was less likely  to binge on the weekends because I knew I could eat whatever I wanted. Suddenly all of the forbidden foods lost their power over me.
 
Having to  unlearn all sorts of unhealthy and unhelpful behaviors took time. The thoughts, beliefs about food, exercise, and what my body should look like had to be undone. I’m still learning, and that’s ok. 
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, is life is always a practice. It’s not fixed, but more fluid. One slip up or failure doesn’t define us. And one success or win doesn’t get us off the hook of having to do the work.
 
There’s a false belief that healthy should feel hard. It’s a shame because it keeps so many women stuck in the diet mindset. This idea is toxic, and sadly one we have accepted as normal.
Living a healthy lifestyle should be as easy as an unhealthy one. It takes time to get to this place, but it’s where freedom exists.

 Happy now?

Though I may be a bit fluffier than before, I’m the most at peace in my skin I’ve ever been. 
 
I’m way less self-conscious. Thoughts or feelings of insecurity because of my body don’t swirl in my head any longer. That’s not to say there aren’t times those negative thoughts try to come back. I’m just more prepared and equipped to handle the lies because I know the truth, and I know how much sweeter it is on the other side.
Can I let you in on a secret? I’m the same weight as when I started my fitness journey over 12 years ago. Oddly though, it feels as if everything has changed…from the inside out.
xo,
Alisha
PS. I know this probably sounds a little woo woo or too good to be true. Truthfully, I never thought  I could be happy without losing weight either. I thought the other women I saw talking about this had just given up and “accepted” their bodies as if it were a negative thing. If that’s you too, I want you to click here, so we can have a chat.
You deserve to be as happy and as fulfilled right now. What are you waiting for?
How I learned how to eat healthy with ease

How I learned how to eat healthy with ease

This is embarrassing to admit, but it’s taken me almost 30 years to figure out how to eat. I mean, I knew the mechanics. You load the utensil with food and then deliver it to your mouth. But the other kind of ‘how’ to eat. Like what, when, and how much. Last year was the year I decided to be done with dieting for good, and would own my relationship with food. Both the good and the bad.
Until about a year ago, I thought I needed someone else to tell me how to eat. It seemed like being my own expert on my own body was far fetched. Doubts and fears filled my head.. I wondered if I could I trust myself to take care of me?
 
We’ve been taught to trust others for the answers when it comes to our bodies. In seeking out the answers from others, we’ve  forgotten how to tune into ourselves and make decisions around food and exercise.
This might seem like a stretch, but you don’t have to accept cultural beliefs about what is beautiful or healthy.
 
We get stuck because in our culture disordered eating seems normal, even healthy. There is nothing normal though about being obsessed with food, exercise, or the way our body looks.
 Despite what you think, It won’t will lead to bingeing or being a couch potato. I promise. In the beginning you might eat more than you would normally. But we aren’t trying to be normal. We are trying to be free from the constant worry over food, so that we can actually get on with living our lives.
 

You don’t want me to tell you what to eat

Even though the women I work with say they want someone to tell them what, how, when, and how much to eat, that isn’t what they really want. If it were, diets would work. And people would have lasting success.
They want to feel empowered and in control around food.
 
That comes from learning how to trust yourself as the expert of your body, making decisions with mindfulness & intention, and taking ownership.
 

Healthy lifestyle or more dieting?

I had the fear of failing and eating everything. The fear of looking like a fool for trying to do it on my own without following another diet or lifestyle change was real. I doubted this would work for me. Would I eat chocolate everyday all day and stop exercising?
Deep down though I knew that the old way wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I was trying so hard to follow my nutrition plan, yet still started going back to food obsession and bingeing on the weekends.
 
I’d ‘be’ good during the week, but the weekends were a different story entirely. Giving in and eating everything I could before Monday became a regular occurrence.
 
As a fitness and nutrition coach, I felt like a fraud and so defeated.
 
How could I keep living like this? I was supposed to be an example, a leader in the health and fitness space. How could I keep selling this diet and calling it a healthy lifestyle?
 
It felt like I was back in diet shackles.
 
I had lost sight of what fitness had really made me feel back in the beginning of my journey. Instead it became about always having an amazing transformation. But in order for that to happen, that meant I always had to have a physical change–which ultimately meant gaining weight only to lose it again (like so many of us women do).
 
The realization that I was still dieting and calling it a healthy lifestyle was a blow. It was like someone pulled the rug out from under me.
 
I was still counting portions and carbs. Monitoring calories eaten and burned. Obsessing over my body and how much it changed from the day-to-day.
 
As a fitness coach it seems like we are expected to be a perfect example of what health looks like. We’ve all been conditioned to see health in such a narrow way. My behavior seemed normal.

The ‘aha’ moment

The idea that we were made to be the experts of our own bodies seemed foreign to me at first. After all, culturally, we are raised to rely on others to teach us right from wrong, safe from dangerous.
 
Sometimes though, that ends up looking a bit more like silly sheep being led straight to slaughter without even realizing it.
 
We were made to be the experts of our own body–we don’t need someone else to tell us how, what, or when to eat. We don’t need someone else to tell us how to move our bodies.
 
I had heard this rumor that if you let yourself have permission to eat whatever you wanted, the cravings and the urges to go nuts would disappear.
 
Honestly, it seemed a bit too good to be true, but what was the alternative? What I’d been doing wasn’t working so well.
 
 
I tested this out. I decided to give myself permission to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. It felt scary and exhilarating. This was so foreign and felt like I was breaking some unwritten rule.
 
Thoughts swirled in my head that I’d get fat (as if that was the worse thing I could be). I was afraid I’d not eat the healthy foods I had at one point come to crave.
 
 
 
For the first few weeks I did go a little crazy. I started to feel a little fluffy and didn’t like how I felt in my body.
 
Rather than running back to restriction and rules, I leaned it.
 
 
I stuck with it, and you know what? Slowly I started making decisions around food with authority, self control, and mindfulness.
 
 
I started asking myself in the moment if x food would make me feel good afterwards or not? Would it serve my long-term goals of being wholly healthy, present for my family, and able to carry out the purpose I was specifically created for?
 
For the first time ever I felt empowered around food.
 
I felt free.
 
It felt like I could finally breath and focus attention on my business, my clients, my family.
For the first time in years, making healthy choices felt natural and relaxed.
 
This journey has taken some time for sure. And there are still moments when I hear the whisper of diet culture in my head. In those moments, I politely tell it to shut up, and I move on.
 
It feels good to be more engaged in daily life. I’m more present, and I’m able to eat as a way to nourish and honor my body with joy and pleasure.
 
I hardly think about food anymore and I’m confident and happy in my body. Instead of using my time and energy on what to eat that will comply with my diet or how bad I want something I ‘can’t have’ or how much my body sucks and it needs to be fixed. I can use my energy to invest in those around me and in the things I feel I was created to do.
The sad reality is *most* women don’t know they are operating from a diet mindset. This is a shame, because you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. We’ve come to see falling off the wagon as ‘normal’, and balance as swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other. That’s not balance. That’s dieting.
If you’re ready to get off the diets for good, but just need a little help figuring out how to do that, grab my free guide to help you transform your mind and learn the mindset hacks to help you reach your fitness goals once and for all. Sign up below 🙂
xo,
Alisha
PS. Not sure about working with a coach to help you get off the diet rollercoaster? Schedule a free consult call here. I’d love to see if I’m the right fit for you.

How to meal prep for normal, busy women who aren’t trying to land the cover of a fitness magazine

Doing a simple search for  the term ‘meal prep’ is likely to elicit tons of results. Great. Except there was one teeny tiny problem. Most of the meal prep videos or articles that came up  were incredibly detailed and regimented, and had you eating pretty much the same thing all week long.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for sure for that kind of meal prep. But let’s be honest that is not the place that the majority of women live, at least not on a regular basis. Nor should they.

So how do you meal prep like a normal woman with a to do list a mile (link to other post here) long?

You keep it simple. Like so simple it will probably feel like your 10 year old could pull it off.

I’ve been there…ya know the place I described up above. I used to weigh out each meal ensuring my portion sizes were perfect and that I was counting my macros correctly. I ate each meal on a timer and rarely ever skipped a meal.

Eating like that served its purpose while I was prepping for my first and only two figure competitions. Thinking about that kind of meal prep is sort of exhausting these days. And actually quite unnecessary.

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Meal prep like you have a life

If you don’t get paid to look a certain  or  perform a certain way as a job, then likely you don’t need to go through the painful process I outlined above. If however, you are just treading water trying not to drown in all of your life’s responsibilities and you want to start chipping away at some of your dusty ol health and fitness goals then this is for you.

Meal prepping will save you a ton of time throughout the week as well as money (thus helping you stick to your budget), and will make weeknights far less stressful. As if all of those reasons weren’t enough, you will most likely even end up feeling better while moving the needle towards your personal health goals.

No need to get fancy. Simply follow the steps below, and bam. You’ll be meal prepping like a boss.

Steps to meal prep:

  1. Sit down with your calendar and create a meal plan for yourself for the week. Know what meals you’ll have for dinner, lunch, breakfast. Do you have any days you’ll be eating out or exceptionally busy? Mark those down with an ‘x’ or something. The busiest of the busy days will be a day when you want to have something prepped and ready to go so you don’t have to think about it. * Try slow cooker meals or instant pot meals for those days.
  2. After you’ve created your menu for the week, you need to compile a list of things to grab at the store. Pro tip: check your pantry and your fridge so you don’t end up buying too much or too little of an ingredient.
  3. Pick a day to prep. Is it going to be the same day as when you grab your groceries? Will you need to do a couple days of prep?
  4. Prep made easy: Keep it simple. Cook up some smart carbs like rice, quinoa, potatoes/ sweet potatoes, or a pot of beans. Cook up a couple different kinds of protein or prep them ahead of time if for example you plan to eat tuna salad or chicken salad just make a big batch. Have your healthy fats on hand and your fruits and veggies. You can cut those up as well ahead of time, though they do lose some nutritional value if they are left sitting too long before you eat them.
  5. Bonus tip:  you can put your food in smaller containers so you can grab and go or you can just pull it out and pack it the day of.
  6. Extra bonus tip:  only season with salt and pepper. By doing it that way, you’ll be able to mix and match your flavors throughout the week by adding salsa or curry seasoning, etc.

Do you have a meal prep tip that you are crazy about? Share it below in the comments.

 

You can meal prep like a pro all the while being the totally normal and slightly busy woman that you are 😉

 

xo,

Alisha Carlson (8)

Every day can be Taco Tuesday with this easy one skillet meal

I’ve been rocking my single mom status this week while my hubby is out of town for a work conference. One week may seem like a long time (and at one point it was for us too), but being a military family we have gotten used to long stretches of being split up whether for training camps or deployments. Regardless of how long he’s gone, I am a big fan of easy and quick meals that my kids don’t fuss over.

I was scrolling Pinterest last week as I normally do to get new dinner ideas and came across a super simple one skillet dinner that was healthy and delicious. Plus, it took less than 25 minutes from start to finish.. I made a few tweaks to the recipe and here is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it and let me know how you change it up, because there are literally thousands of ways this dish could be made!

 

What you need:
1 lb ground turkey ( I used 99%lean, you could use chicken or beef too)
1/2 white onion
3/4 c salsa (Costco is my favorite one)
1 whole wheat tortilla
1/3 c shredded cheese
Cumin
Chili powder
Sea salt
Garlic powder
1 can rinsed and drained kidney, black, or pinto beans (no salt added)
And your toppings of choice

To make:
Sauté onions until cooked (about 3 min)
Add ground meat cook, breaking apart and season with spices
Add salsa and cheese
Cook until meat is done and warmed through
Cut up tortilla into strips and add it into the mix (optional)

Serve with lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, and green onion or any other toppings you typically like on your tacos 🌮🥑

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This beet and goat cheese salad is to die for..

Wine in the mail? A few years back I had signed up for one of those monthly wine clubs where they sent you new bottles each month to try out, and one of the extra perks was that you got recipes to go with each bottle of wine. This was an amazing service and is definitely something I would recommend if wine is your jam and you’re also on a budget. Hosting your own happy hour or wine tasting is so much fun and is likely more affordable than hitting the local spots.

Anyway, one of the recipes that came was a beet and pistachio salad. At the time beets were not a regular ingredient in my weekly meal prep as I hadn’t had too many pleasant experiences with them. But I am all about adventure and stepping out of your comfort zone, so I decided to give this salad a try, and as you guessed it by the title of this blog post a version of this salad has become one of my favorites.

I shared a picture of my hubby’s birthday dinner a couple days ago on my social media and had so many requests for the recipe I wanted to share it here too. 28055983_1633104806726074_2528223352529088391_n

Ingredients:

Mixed salad greens (about 1-2 cups/person)

3 large beets (golden or red will work)

1/2 c shelled pistachios (roasted)

Goat cheese

Dressing:

1 T Red wine vinegar

3-4 T Olive Oil

1 tsp stone ground mustard

1-2 garlic cloves pressed or diced finely

pinch of sea salt

(you can play around with the measurements until you get it to your liking, my hubby isn’t too fond of vinegar/mustard so I go easy on it )

 

To make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. cut the stems from the beets and wrap in foil, place in the oven
  3. roast beets until done and easily pierced with a fork or knife about 45-60 min
  4. shell and roast your pistachios for about 5 minutes until you can see a little oil release. Remove from heat so they can cool.
  5. rinse your greens and add them to a large bowl, set aside.
  6. while beets are roasting, prepare the dressing and set aside. I like to use a small mason jar, add all the ingredients, seal the lid, and shake until it is combined.
  7. When the beets are cooked through, let them cool, peel them, and cut into small wedges and add to the greens.
  8. Chop the pistachios, add to the salad.
  9. Finally top with goat cheese and a little dressing.

Clean eating for beginners-learn how to meal plan/prep like a pro

Whether you are brand new to the healthy lifestyle or consider yourself a seasoned vet, it can be challenging to stay the course when you are completely confused or bored with your options. I found when it was just me, things were pretty simple. I could just eat the same thing day in and day out, make whatever I wanted, and no one really complained.

However, throw in a husband, a couple of kids, and a business.. the game changes quite a bit. One of the things I think we have done a pretty good job with is exposing our kids to a variety of flavors early on, and we always have the “try it one more time” rule…yes, even I abide by that rule (which sometimes comes back to bite me)  Still to this day (almost 33 years of trying) I can tell you I do not like olives. My kids like being able to pull the card on me when there are olives around. Paybacks.

I remember when I first started my health and fitness journey it took me a while to find a groove with my weekly menu planning and grocery shopping, and it was easy to fall off track if I got lazy or life got buys. One thing I noticed was that not planning when life was busy, just made things feel that much busier and worse.

However, over the years I’ve been tweaking and refining my system, and I feel like I have created a pretty simple system that I am able to use every single week to nail my meal plan all while keeping it healthy and on track with my weight loss/fat loss goals or any other fitness goal I might be pursuing at the moment.

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to you is to keep it simple. If you don’t have a lot of time during the week because your weeknights are busy, then opt for crockpot or instant pot meals, and experiment on the weekends with new recipes to throw in the mix. If you have picky eaters in your family then find some staple recipes that allow you to hide a ton of vegetables in it without being detected (I shared more about picky eaters here).

Over the last six months as my fitness and coaching business have begun to take off I have had to streamline our family’s system even more. We’ve switched over to online grocery shopping almost 100% exclusively–this helps us save money and stick to our budget because we aren’t randomly tossing items into the cart, and it also helps me stick to my meal plan and my portions. If it isn’t in the house, I won’t eat it.

Clean Eating.pngMy current nutrition plan still follows the clean eating principles, but has also introduced timed nutrition (eating certain macro nutrients at certain times, it is a technique that is often used with athletes and/ or body builders/ fitness models.) This has required more focus on my end. Which if you have learned anything about me, you know I am always up for a good challenge! So, what are my biggest life hacks when it comes to meal planning on a budget? Let’s get into it..

  1. Pick one day to do all of your shopping for the week (I order and pick up my groceries on Saturday). Schedule this on your calendar. If you are serious about creating a healthy lifestyle, you’ve got to treat it like it matters to you.
  2. Meal plan. Again, I sit down Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and plan 6 dinners. I think about breakfasts, lunches, and make sure I have healthy snacks on hand (Shakeology is one of our daily staples) for the whole family. My go to places for healthy recipes are Pinterest of course, or I use the Beachbody blog (beachbodyondemand.com)
  3. Set aside some time to do a little prep when you get home from the store. I typically will hard boil eggs, make egg cups, and pull out any protein that needs to thaw for dinners that week. If you are super short on time throughout the week, I would suggest making up a big salad and portion it out or at the very least cut up some veggies for quick and healthy snacks. You can also cook up some chicken breast on the grill or in the broiler. If you only season with salt and pepper you can use it in a number of recipes. You can also cook up some rice, quinoa, or sweet potato for some easy to grab carbs. *Whether you are on a low carb diet or not, having these slower digesting carbs will help regulate your blood sugar throughout the day.
  4. Keep it fresh by incorporating new recipes throughout the week/month. I usually eat the same thing throughout the week, but try to add variety throughout my days. For example, I don’t eat the same vegetable or fruit all day, but may have the same vegetable over a few days that week.

There are tons of apps available now to help you get organized with your grocery shopping. A lot of them will even keep your previous lists which can be helpful and make grocery shopping even more simple. I know how overwhelming it can be to make changes. I’ve been there! Believe me though, it is absolutely worth it to create these good habits. If you are new to clean eating or even just want to refresh your skills, I’ve created a FREE 5 day challenge. I’d love to see you there! Each day you will get some of my tips sent right to your inbox and you will be able to hang out with me and many other ladies just like you in our Facebook group.

Creating changes can be hard, but not impossible! Especially if you do it with your tribe..For more details on the 5 day challenge or on working with me fill out the contact info and just indicate how I can best serve you!

 

xo,

Alisha