Category Archives: Meal Prep

Perks of Protein Powder

We all know how important protein is, but making sure our body has enough of it can often times be challenging. Of course, the best way to ensure protein in our bodies is through solid food, but finding the time to prep all of our meals is never easy. That’s why protein powder has become so popular over the past couple of years. It’s the perfect and quick substitution for solid food that ensures protein for our muscles. But is it safe?

There are risks, but if you consume protein powder correctly, you shouldn’t run in to any big problems. It is simply an easy way to take care of your muscles without stressing in the kitchen and the benefits are great!

Weight Control

Protein shakes are often times used as meal replacements when paired with the right ingredients like oats, peanut butter, fruits and vegetables. This helps you control your calorie intake and makes you feel full enough to not indulge in an big meal. When it comes to dieting and weight control, it’s all about portion control. Replacing a meal with a protein shake will give your body the nutrients it needs, in a good portion size.

Muscle Building

Every time you work out, your muscles tear. Protein shakes help rebuild them faster to make them stronger. And because your shake is in liquid form, it goes straight to your blood stream and works faster. Solid food is always great, but it takes longer to break down. Protein shakes get the job done at a faster rate.

Stress Relief

Protein powder has been proven to relieve stress. It’s no secret that taking care of your body makes you feel better all around. When your body feels good, your mind feels good too. We are all prone to stress, but eating the right foods and adding the right nutrients to our diets, can strongly and positively affect our stress levels.

Convenience

Protein shakes are easy and fast. Finding time to prep our meals in between school, work, and our workouts is very hard. Some of us really struggle with the balance between the gym and the kitchen because we simply do not have the time. That’s the beauty of a protein shake, you can make it in seconds and the long term effects are great!

So, what are the best kinds of protein powder?

Some of the best kinds are whey, casein, egg, pea, and hemp protein. All five of these different types of protein rebuild and maintain muscle fast. But It is important to understand what you are taking before you take it. Be sure to read all of the ingredients and ask around for second opinions. Protein powder isn’t for everyone. Since a lot of the powder does come from dairy, people are lactose intolerant may struggle more when consuming a protein shake. Understand your body and understand what you need to do to take care of it.

The Best Fitness Advice I’ve Ever Received

There’s a wealth of free fitness “advice” floating around out there.  Now distinguishing the good from the bad is a little bit trickier because there is no one size fits all approach to fitness.  All of our bodies are different with varying goals and plans in place. Unfortunately in the fitness world, a lot of ugly myths continually make their way into the minds of gym goers. As professionals, we see these myths play out on a daily basis. These include but certainly are not limited to myths like:

 

  • Exercise only works if it’s painful
  • Lifting weights will make you bulky
  • There’s only one way to (insert exercise here)
  • If you only had more (time, equipment, personal training sessions, etc) then you’d be more (fit, beautiful, healthy, etc)
  • It worked for me, so it’ll work for you too

 

There’s nothing worse than unsolicited advice except perhaps terrible advice. So when I was thinking about the best advice that I’ve ever received I couldn’t quite narrow it down to just one.  What works for me may or may not work for you because each and every person’s fitness journey is different.  Learning how to appreciate my own body and my own mind was perhaps my first lesson and the foundation on which I built my health and fitness journey. Some other helpful advice I’ve received include but are certainly not limited to things like:

 

  • Listen: Listen to your body. Listen to your coach. Read books and articles. Listen to podcasts. Keep your ears open and your mind discerning.

 

  • Train with a plan: Imagine trying to drive in an unfamiliar place without GPS? Yep, working out without a plan is pretty much exactly like that. You may eventually (if you’re lucky!!) get to where you want to be but with a lot of added time and frustrations.

 

  • Be patient: This one is so important! Expecting six pack abs after one core workout just isn’t realistic! Progress takes time. Don’t get discouraged when things are moving slower than you’d like. Remember to track your progress so you can see the whole picture.

 

  • Rest and recovery is just as important as training: I know it’s tempting to go into overdrive to accomplish your goals. But sleep and recovery is equally as (if not more!) important than the time you spend in the gym.

 

  • Find something you enjoy Don’t like boxing classes? Don’t take boxing classes! Hate mindlessly running on the treadmill? Don’t run on the treadmill! Take every single in Pittsburgh if that’s what it takes but find something that you actually enjoy doing and it’ll make your fitness journey that much easier!

 

  • Be consistent: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit! – Aristotle

 

What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments!

Facts and Myths About Protein and Protein Shakes

 

Myth– Protein shakes will make you lose weight. Proteins are broken down in the body through glycolysis the same way that carbohydrates are, so if you consume too many calories whether it’s from protein, carbohydrates, or fat, you will gain weight.

 

Myth– Protein shakes will make you “bulky” or “fat.” If you add whole milk and peanut butter, you might! If you’re trying to keep it lighter but jazz up your shake with something other than water you can add skim or almond milk, plain yogurt, fruit, or PB2 peanut butter powder.

 

Myth– You will get “too muscular” from drinking protein shakes. Consuming protein doesn’t produce more protein, which means you won’t directly gain muscle from drinking a protein shake. It takes a lot of physical effort to gain muscle over a long period of time.

 

Myth– You need to consume a protein shake within the 20 minute post workout “anabolic window” to gain benefits. The body doesn’t work in this overly simplified way. Get your protein in post workout but don’t stress if it’s an 60 or 90 minutes after you’re done.

 

Myth– Protein is bad for your kidneys and you can only absorb 20-30 grams of protein per meal while the rest is excreted in urine. Again, an overly simplified view of how the body works. Consuming more protein is not “wasted”, it just takes longer to digest.

 

Myth– “If I’m not exercising, I don’t need to consume protein.” Whether or not you’re active, protein is an essential macronutrient. Athletes and non-athletes still need adequate protein intake. Athletes may require slightly higher amounts to support muscle repair and fill their caloric needs but the amount doesn’t necessarily need to be drastically higher than that of the average person. For any given individual, of the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, & fats), the amount of protein per day should remain consistent while the carb and fat amount can vary based on activity level.

 

Fact– Protein deficiencies are very common and an increased protein intake has powerful effects on increasing the rate of injury repair and reduce illness.

Fact– Protein shakes are supplements (as in they should supplement the diet) not replace whole, minimally processed food sources like vegetables, lentils, beans, and meat.

 

Fact– There are different kinds of protein powders that have different effects and purposes. Whey is fast absorbing so it is suggested to consume post or intra-workout. Casein is slow absorbing and suggested to consume midday or closer to bed-time. Neither is better or worse than the other.

 

Fact– Protein shakes are not for everyone. Whey and casein are derived from milk proteins, so if you’re lactose intolerant or have a sensitivity to dairy products (or tend to feel bloated or gassy), try a different brand or other protein powders such as pea, beef, hemp, soy, rice, or egg.

 

Fact– All protein is made by plants. Only plants can take nitrogen from the air, break the nitrogen molecules apart, and incorporate the nitrogen into amino acids to make proteins. Because plants are producers of protein from which all other proteins are derived, they have a much more beneficial effect on the body. Animals are consumers of plants or other animals, so their proteins are recycled in the food chain.

 

Fact– There’s nothing magical about consuming protein powder, it’s just a convenient protein source.

 

Check out Registered Dietician Andrew Wade’s Recipes (macros and calories included!!) to make protein smoothies, protein pancakes, protein oatmeal, protein yogurt, protein cupcakes, protein bars, AND protein waffles!

http://casespecificnutrition.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Daily-Whey-Recipes.pdf

 

Andrew will be speaking at our Free Nutrition Seminar on August 24th from 6-7pm at Union Fitness!

Are Your Eating Habits Affecting Your Training?

 

There are not too many times that an answer to a fitness related question is simple or straightforward. Most of the time there are multiple solutions to a problem, a million different ways to look at or treat the same thing and even sometimes the exact same exercise/movement is called something different depending on whom you ask. So when we start to look at something quite complex, like eating habits, nutrition and if it affects your training, you can expect a complicated answer, right?

I’m going to make this VERY simple. YES. Yes, your eating habits are absolutely affecting your training!

 

Ok great, but how? Now isn’t that the million-dollar question! In fact, there’s a multi-billion dollar industry out there trying to answer that question. “Try this protein shake”, they say, “it’ll make your muscles HUGE without even lifting a weight!” They want to sell your pre-workout powders, post-workout powders, during workout powders and ten weeks before working out powders (ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit here but you get the idea). There are so many different philosophies on eating & training: intermittent fasting, eating before bedtime, carb cycling, large meals vs. small frequent meals, gluten free diets, dairy free diets, vegan diets, the list goes on & on. One-day fats are the enemy then the very next day a professional tells you that no, actually carbs are the enemy and to avoid them at all costs. There are scores of literature about every single nutrition & training theory out there. So how DO you navigate how your eating habits are affecting your training?

 

Go old school and keep a journal. Begin to track your food and your workouts. Write down how you felt before/during/after your training and throughout the day. Then begin to piece together the puzzle. If you need help figuring it all out, get a professional to take a second look to find out what works best for you, your training and your lifestyle.

 

Try not to get too caught up in the all gimmicks. Eat when you’re hungry. Make smart choices. Drink tons of water. Be consistent. But most importantly, do what works for you— and just YOU. It’s great that Sally across the street lost 20lbs in one month by drinking blue algae shakes that she harvested in her aquarium. Will that work for you? Maybe, maybe not. Ultimately the best guide to figuring out how your eating affects your training is YOU.

Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

 

High fat diets have become much more popular in recent years but it is important to note that this kind of diet may not be the best fit for everyone. Eliminating or significantly reducing entire food groups can be detrimental to your health and limit access to essential vitamins and minerals.

 

That said, fats in moderation are incredibly important to our health and have many benefits, including:

1. Provide energy- the most energy dense macronutrient
2. Help manufacture and balance hormones
3. Form cell membranes
4. Form our brain and nervous system
5. Help transport fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K
6. Provide essential fatty acids that the body can’t make (omega 3 & omega 6)

 

Dietary fats do not inherently make us fat. Excess calorie intake is the culprit of unwanted fat gain.

 

The caloric density of fat is high. More than 2x as high as that of a carbohydrate! One gram of fat contains 9 calories whereas one gram of a carbohydrate contains 4 calories allowing you to consume much more volume with much fewer calories.

 

Not all fat types are the same. Take a tablespoon of olive oil and half of an avocado for example. Both have about 125 calories, BUT half an avocado weighs about 75 grams, contains 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of fat. A tablespoon of olive oil weighs about 14 grams, contains 0 grams of fiber and 14 grams of fat. It’s a no-brainer that with the fiber and volume of the avocado, this is a more satiating choice.

 

Balance of fats. Saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats should be consumed in balance with the exception of trans fats which should be eliminated from the diet completely and are found in many processed foods.

 

Foods can contain all three types of fat. For example, eggs (thought to be rich in saturated fat) are 43% monounsaturated, 39% saturated, and 13% polyunsaturated. Some foods are considered one or another because they contain mostly one of the fat types.

 

Foods rich in the following fats:

1. Saturated Fat
• Beef, pork, lamb, chicken (with skin), butter, cheese, milk, tropical oils (coconut oil, palm oil)

2. Unsaturated Fat
• (Mono)unsaturated Fat & (Poly)unsaturated Fat
• Fish (tuna, trout, salmon, sardines), plant based oils (canola, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame), seeds (flaxseed, sunflower, sesame), nuts (peanuts, pe-cans, almonds, walnuts), avocado, olives
• Omega 6 Fatty Acids- (consume less) corn oil, safflower oil, meat
• Omega 3 Fatty Acids- (consume more) flax, walnuts, hemp, fish

3. Trans Fat
• Partially hydrogenated oils, margarine, fried foods, some baked goods

Make the Most of Your Lunch Workout

 

If you’re lucky enough to be working on the North Side (or even better, right here at Nova Place), we probably see you primarily during our lunch time rush from 11am-1pm. We love our lunch crowd, doing everything from squeezing a few miles in on the treadmill to Olympic lifting to HIIT workouts. It can be a real challenge working out on the lunch hour: you have just about 60 minutes to travel to the gym, change, work out, shower, and get back to work. That’s not a ton of time! You’ll need to plan ahead a little bit to get the most effective workout you can. Here are a few tips to put you on the right track:

 

1. Meal prep!
You might think it’s odd that we’re starting off this list of tips with (more) meal prepping advice, but in this instance, it’s really vital! If you don’t have a lunch prepared for you to eat when you get back from your workout, it’s likely you’ll skip the gym to wait in line at the food truck instead. Spend an hour on Sunday getting your delicious meals together and you’ll have one less excuse when it gets to be noon on Wednesday. Plus, you’ll have the perfect post-workout fuel waiting for you when you get back to the office.

 

2. Have a workout gameplan
The worst thing you could do when trying to get an efficient workout done in less than an hour is to show up to the gym with no plan. It’s really easy to spend 30 minutes stretching and “warming up” when you have no idea what you plan on doing next. There are tons of tools and cardio/strength training programs available online, but here at Union Fitness you also have access to great coaches. Strength Lab+ members get customized programs built just for them and their schedule. We’ll set you up with workouts you can complete in 50 minutes or less, so you can really maximize your results.

 

3. Pack your bags
Here’s another one aimed at giving you less excuses. Make sure you pack your gym bag before you head out to work, preferably the night before so you don’t even have to think about it that morning. The last thing you want is to get to the gym, get your workout in, and then not have any clean underwear to change back into for work! Lay out your clothes and any toiletries you need (that we don’t provide) the night before, and don’t forget your shoes! Since you’re a member at Union Fitness, you already get towel and shampoo service, so this process is even easier.

 

4. Mix up your workout with intervals and supersets

If you’re really struggling to get a challenging workout in during lunch, look into adding some intervals and supersets to your workouts. We use interval training frequently in our U.Fit Bootcamp class because it’s an effective way to burn lots of calories in a short period of time while keeping things fresh and interesting. My favorite from earlier today: 40 seconds of V-ups for your core, 20 seconds of rest, followed by 40 seconds of medball burpees, 20 seconds of rest, and repeat up to 4 times. It’s a brutal finisher that will only take you 8 minutes. If you focus more on the strength training side of working out, try pairing your accessory movements as supersets. Try to switch the body parts being worked so you’re fresh each time. A really challenging superset for endurance athletes and lifters alike pairs single-leg squats (to a box or pad to start) with single-leg Romanian deadlifts. This works your quads, glutes, and hamstrings unilaterally and quickly!

 

5. Make it a habit
My final piece of advice is to be consistent. That goes for everything related to health and wellness, but is especially important when you’re trying to take time to do something for yourself during the workday. Schedule your lunch workout like a meeting, and don’t cancel on yourself unless you’re in really dire circumstances. You are worth it, and it’ll get easier with time. We are always here to help, be it through custom programming or general words of encouragement.

5 Healthy Memorial Day Recipes

5 Healthy Memorial Day Recipes

Memorial Day is coming up, and most of us like to pretend that means we get a free pass to eat junk food all weekend. Although we all wish that was true, here are some recipes on how to spend your Memorial Day weekend as healthy and happy!

Kale & Cucumber Salad

Ingredients
12 ounces curly kale
1/2 tsp salt
Leaves from 12 stems flat-leaf parsley
1 ripe Hass avocado
1 lemon
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 medium cucumber
1 to 2 medium carrots
2 scallions
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
-Strip the kale leaves from the stems, rinse and dry the leaves then place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the salt over the kale. Massage into the leaves until the leaves soften and their color is enhanced.
-Chop enough of the parsley leaves to yield 2 to 4 tablespoons and transfer to the blender. Cut the avocado in half and discard the pit. Transfer the flesh to a blender. Cut the lemon in half, then squeeze the juice into the mixture, being careful not to let any seeds fall in. Add the tahini and cumin. Puree until smooth; add enough of the water to form a pourable dressing. The yield should be about 1 1/2 cups.
-As you prep the following ingredients, place them in the bowl with the kale. Peel the cucumber, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut the remaining cucumber crosswise into thin slices. Grate the carrot(s) to yield 1 cup. Chop the remaining parsley leaves to yield about 1/3 cup. Cut the light-green parts of the scallions crosswise to yield about 2 tablespoons. Season with the pepper to taste.
-Add about 1/2 cup of the dressing to the salad and toss to coat evenly. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Divide the salad among individual plates and get to munching!

Guacamole Salad

Ingredients
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup small diced red onion
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers, seeded (2 peppers)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1/8 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced

Directions
Put the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Pour over the vegetables. Toss well. Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad. AND EAT!

Marinated Greek Chicken Kabobs

Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) container fat-free plain yogurt
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese with basil and sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

Directions
Prep 30m/ Cook 15m/ Ready In 3 h 45 m
-In a large shallow baking dish, mix the yogurt, feta cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place the chicken in the dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate
-3 hours in the refrigerator.
-Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
-Thread the chicken, onion wedges, and green bell pepper pieces alternately onto skewers. Discard remaining yogurt mixture.
-Grill skewers on the prepared grill until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Black Bean Veggie Burger

Ingredients
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup water
2 (16 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 onion, quartered
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Directions
Prep 25 m/ Cook 16 m/ Ready In 41 m
-Bring the brown rice and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 45 to 50 minutes.
-Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Spray cooking spray on a sheet of aluminum foil. Mash black beans in a large bowl with a fork until thick and pasty; set aside.
-Place the bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor, and chop finely. Stir the bell pepper mixture into the mashed black beans. Place the brown rice and mozzarella cheese in the food processor, and process until combined. Stir the mixture into the black beans.
-Whisk together the eggs, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and hot sauce. Stir the egg mixture into the black bean mixture. Stir in the bread crumbs, adding additional bread crumbs as needed until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide into 6 large patties.
-Place patties onto the prepared foil, and grill until browned and heated through, about 8 minutes per side.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Ingredients
1 large clove garlic
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 wedges lemon, for garnish

Directions
Prep 15m/ Cook 6m/ Ready In 21m
Preheat grill for medium heat.
In a small bowl, crush the garlic with the salt. Mix in cayenne pepper and paprika, and then stir in olive oil and lemon juice to form a paste. In a large bowl, toss shrimp with garlic paste until evenly coated.
Lightly oil grill grate. Cook shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until opaque. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with lemon wedges, and serve.

Lean, Mean & Green

Lean, Mean & Green

Finding Balance

St. Patrick’s Day will soon be upon us, and if you live in Pittsburgh like us, the annual parade (their website is taking be back to the early days of the internet) is tomorrow, March 11th. If you plan on celebrating your Irish heritage but want to dial back on the debauchery, try to find balance between your healthy habits and having a good time. We’ve compiled some tips that have been helpful for us, and recipes & drinks that we like to indulge in from time to time.

First thing’s first, get a morning workout in. Union Fitness opens at 8am on the weekends. Shower in our facilities, and we’re only a 10-minute walk from downtown. Get those extra steps in, you’ll feel much better about those beers you’re going to consume later! If you can’t make it to the gym tomorrow, come to our happy hour yoga class tonight, it happens every Friday!

Don’t go hungry. If there’s a plate of corned beef hash with your name on it, fill up on the cabbage first. Cabbage is low in calories and will help you feel fuller, longer. Cabbage is a member of the brassica family of veggies that includes broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflowers. Indulge in the classics but keep portion sizes in the back of your mind. Eat slowly and savor each bite.

Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more. Follow the tried and true rule of alternating alcoholic beverages with a glass of water.

Now what to guzzle down all day? Believe it or not, Guinness is not nearly as bad as people think, it’s dark color and heavy body do not mean it’s higher in calories. Twelve ounces of Guinness has 125, which is comparable to many light beers.

If you’re hosting your own party, try out some of these cocktails:

Jameson Jell-o Shots (35 calories per shot)

Jello Shots

Ingredients:
3 small (.30 oz) packages Jell-o Sugar Free Gelatin
24 ounces Water (Boiling)
9 ounces Water (Cold)
15 ounces Jameson (Cold)
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice from a fresh lime
Green Food Coloring or Dye

Place fresh mint leaves in a small dish. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Using a muddle stick or a wooden spoon, press down on the leaves and twist. Repeat the action several times until the mint leaves release oil and smell minty. Set aside.

Mix the Jell-o mix and muddled mint leaves, with the boiling water until the powder is fully dissolved. Strain mint leaves.

Add the Cold water, 20 drops of green dye, or until you get the color you desire, and Jameson. Pour the cooling mixture into 28 plastic shot glasses. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until fully set.

Skinny Margarita (145calories)

Margarita

Ingredients:
To rim the glass: kosher salt, lime wedge
1 1/2 oz silver tequila (about 3 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon light agave nectar (add 2 if you prefer a sweeter margarita)
Ice

Rim the glass: Pour a thin layer of salt onto a small plate. Rub a lime wedge around the top edge of your glass, then dip the glass into the salt, and twist. Fill the glass with ice and set aside.
Fill a small cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, and agave. Close and shake energetically until you feel the shaker start to get cold and frost over. Strain into the rimmed glass over the ice.

Spicy BLT Green Bloody Marys

Bloody Mary

We can take credit for this delish take on a Bloody Mary, but we insist on giving it a try if you’re hosting a breakfast or brunch. This particular cocktail requires a little extra work and motivation, but it’s worth it! Plus, bacon is added to the mix – a little protein never hurt anyone.

Remember that moderation is key. Drink smarter, stay hydrated, watch your portions and be safe out there!

Dolce Diet Week 2: CHEATER

Dolce Diet Week 2: CHEATER

 

Week 2:

 

Change is hard.  Ok, so I have a confession. I’m about to be as honest as Usher in the early 00’s right now. You know Eco Bistro right? Well on Thursday’s they have a Pittsburgh steak salad special. Although I grew up in Pittsburgh, I don’t have too many distinct Pittsburgh characteristics. I don’t speak Pittsburghese. I can barely name the three rivers. I’ve never had an Iron City beer. I’m not a Steelers fan, or Penguins, or what’s our other team again? BUT— I LOVE, and I’m talking an unhealthy-obsession-type-LOVE of French-fries on my salads. Lots of them. The more the better. I embrace this part of my Pittsburgh heritage wholeheartedly. Anyway, back to my confession. On Thursday, I broke from the Dolce Diet to indulge in one of those glorious Pittsburgh salads, with extra fries. (GASP!) The worst part? My coworkers managed to get photographic proof (see below). I was caught red handed.

So yeah, I had something not so healthy. I “cheated” on my diet. Did I punish myself with endless, sweaty hours on the treadmill? Nope. The elliptical? Nope. Did I starve myself for the rest of the day to make up for it? Not a chance. Did I at least berate myself a little bit, maybe lament at my inability to stick to the plan? Never. What did I do then? I smirked at my coworkers and enjoyed my French-fries topped with lettuce. The end.

You see, if you know me or have ever come to one of my classes, you hear me talk about balance a lot. And not just necessarily in yoga poses when we balance on our heads. It applies to life too, including our well thought out diet and training plans. Balance is key because we are HUMANS, and we are vastly imperfect. We can’t always stick to the perfect plan. We can’t always be perfect parents or perfect friends or perfect exercisers. We can, however, balance it all out at the end. So, if you had something unhealthy, balance it out with some extra veggies. If you lost your temper and yelled at your kids, give them some extra kisses and snuggles. If you thought negatively about yourself, look in the mirror and say something kind.

I strive for balance but when days like this Thursday (read: French Fry Indulging) roll around, it’s important to leave the guilt and judgement out of it. There is no space in the Dolce Diet, or my life, for demeaning thoughts or feelings of shame. Practice kindness. Practice balance. So, for now, I’m back to my regularly scheduled Dolce Diet plan as I try not to tip the scales too far into French-fry land…until next Thursday, then all bets are off!