Nutrition

The Easiest Nutrition Fix For Fat Loss

As I discuss in an upcoming vlog (you can peep the latest one here), I've got a few major priorities when it comes to fat loss. You can certainly never underestimate the impact of consistent sleep and workouts, but right now, I'm talking about the easiest nutrition skill you can starting practicing right now!

And that is to simply eat more protein.

Eat More Protein

Eating more protein has multiple benefits. This macronutrient is involved in pretty much every chemical process that your body carries out. Proteins are kind of like the raw material of all your body's projects. Of course, they are first broken down into amino acids and reconstructed into more purposeful combinations that your body can use. But, in any case, they are needed and necessary.

By ensuring our bodies get enough protein, we fulfill an essential requirement of the myriad of processes we commonly refer to as our metabolism, making the whole thing run that much more efficiently . In simple terms, that means that we can make the most of what we've got with the least amount of energy expended.

And that my friends, is what fat-loss is all about: finding the most benefit, with the least amount of cost.

SNAP!

*** BTW You should write that one down in your notes. It's a gem.

Anyways, let's move on to your potential protests regarding this recommendation...

You're Not Eating Enough

Now you might say "But Coach, I heard eating too much protein can damage your organs."

Well, dear I have an answer for that.

Of course, if one eats TOO MUCH protein (which is a very subjective value btw), it's reasonably possible to assume the kidneys can be affected. BUT, it's also very unlikely that you are anywhere close to this very subjective amount. It's also very unlikely that you are anywhere close to consistently hitting the number you need to support fat-loss in the first place, which is typically the lowest benchmark that nutritionists suggest you hit. So, we really don't need to discuss what "too much" is anyway.

And even further, formation of kidney stones and other potential harm to these vital organs (which is really what we're talking about), has much more to do with the amount of water you are drinking. Byproducts of increased protein intake are excreted normally, without any harm done, in the pee of adequately hydrated humans.

"But Miss Ashleigh, I eat enough protein every day."

Oh dear, I've got an answer for that too. I know you came up with that reply way too quickly. You likely scanned the last 24 hours, and the ease with which two to three instances where you ingested some protein came to mind, led you to conclude that you're doing just fine. But, unless you ran some numbers and calculations in your head, I'm going to say this is not really a fact you could know with any kind of certainty.

Not to worry. It's a common human error to highlight the negative possibilities and grossly overestimate the actuals, as demonstrated by both of these complaints.

The Fix

Let's work together to figure out the truth. In the next three days, I want you to plug in what you eat to any macro app. I personally like to use MyMacros+ as it easily connects me to my clients, but choose whatever program suits you. 

Figure out the average amount of protein you eat. You'll find this number represented in terms of grams. And then just try to increase it by about 20 grams. That's as easy as adding one quality Greek yogurt, two eggs, or half a cup of chicken. And since that amounts to an average of less than $2 per serving, it's also way cheaper than that weird skinny tea or the currently trending fat-loss superfood.

Hit that number consistently for a few weeks(I said weeks, not days! And a "few" means at least three. I did not say "a couple"). Forget about why you were practicing this skill in the first place. And then pull on that pair of skinny jeans you reserve for the moments when you feel really good about yourself, and try em' on again. I know you also save these for your greatest self-shaming moments too, but this won't be one of those. See also: stop doing that.

And stand in front of the mirror as long as you like admiring your work. Because real talk: you're most beautiful when you're being the most kind to your body. And giving it the nutrition it needs is part of fulfilling that purpose.

Even More Fat Loss

Increasing your protein intake by 20 grams will make a huge difference. However, you might have even further room for improvement, and by that I mean, more room to create in those sexy, skinny jeans. To find out what that fat-loss benchmark is, plus even more fat loss habits, check out my latest vlog here.

What Would a *blank* Person Do?

January is historically always about optimism.

But February? Well, more often than not, this month is really all about guilt.

We approach our resolutions bright eyed and hopeful. We make a list. We check it off. We pat ourselves on the back for every single small triumph.

Until we slip up.

And then suddenly all of our accomplishments disappear from our memory. We begin to replace them with a new list.

We now have a record of our failures. And they seem to have added up so much faster than the good things we previously tallied.

They shifted our mindset. And our brains silently drew a conclusion from all the data: That we, as people, are just as bad as the decisions we got hung up on.

You might not have even realized this subtle shift. But you've probably operated on it as some point in your life.

Don't worry. You're not alone. It's in our DNA. Our brains are just hard wired to focus on the silly stuff. 

The problem is, when we label ourselves as "bad," we tend to make decisions that are accordingly bad.

And this derails all of our intentions to cultivate real change.

Stop the train before you crash in a fire of anxiety and self-deprication, with a full bag of Tostitos. 

When you find yourself keeping score and you need a little fresh perspective, come back to the present with this simple question: Ask yourself,

"What would a *blank* person do?"

And you can insert any adjective that fits your intention or describes the kind of human you want to be.

Good, smart, mindful, graceful, wise, responsible, enlightened, whatever suits you.

Me? When I don't know what to do next -- when I can't seem to figure out what the right thing is and I've been sweating the small stuff real hard...

How would a real ass, boss bitch, sophisticated lady handle her shit?

And then everything is quite clear.

#sophisticatedladyshit #bossy #sophisticatedstrength

The Four Agreements Of Nutrition: The Third Agreement

Don’t Make Assumptions

For the last two weeks, I’ve been exploring how Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements could be applied to nutrition. The first agreement, “Be impeccable with your word,” relates to self-honesty as well as self-love. “Don’t take anything personally,” the second agreement, teaches us to not internalize the projections of others, which Ruiz calls a “dream.”

This week, we’re going to take a look at the third agreement: “Don’t make assumptions.”

Because duh, that makes you an ass. We all know this.

But in the realm of fitness, it also means you miss the results you work so hard for.

There is perhaps no field of information that has more conflicting information, misinformation, and assumed information than nutrition. It's the wild west out there. These days even previously respected fitness info establishments are lowering their content standards.

So, how do we tangle apart what’s true and what’s not, when we’ve been barraged with other people’s beliefs and social mores about food since we were kids?

The solution, according to Ruiz, is simple. Don’t make assumptions.

The opposite of making an assumption is having the courage to ask questions and having the open-mindedness to accept new information.

Courage

We may think we know how our body works and what it needs. And we very well may have. But sometimes a shift in lifestyle occurs, and we realize that we don’t have all the information. Having a baby, getting a new job, moving, getting injured, or developing an illness can all be incredibly challenging milestones for people.

Shifts can be less dramatic, as well – you may wake up one day, see a picture of yourself, and think, how the fuck did this happen?

Either way, these are times when fitness assumptions are shattered and you know in your heart that your old solutions and band-aids don’t work anymore.

These are the moments when it’s very important to ask questions and get the support that you need.

And that does not mean asking Google.

Think of it this way. If you don't know what the answer to a question looks like, do you think you'll be able to spot it in a pile of different answers that's a mile high?

This is doubtful.

Instead,  it's a real life fitness professional that can give you solid answers to your new questions, and help guide you to a lifestyle that works for you.

To do this, you need courage. It takes bravery to say, “What I’m doing isn’t working anymore. Please help.”

Much like a new relationship, you have to step off the ledge and make a brand new meaningful commitment. And that can be terrifying. To be really vulnerable. It's so much easier to hide behind the keyboard and our preconceived notions.

Especially when you've spent time trolling through all these cheap and unsuccessful meal plan solutions on your late night quests for nutritional enlightenment. They're everywhere. And they require very little real investment.

But much like your Tinder hook-up, the nominally priced cookie-cutter meal plans allow us to hold on to our ambivalence. The entry price is low both financially and emotionally. And because they often don't work very well in the long run, they only further fuel our fear of commitment.

You need real courage to connect with a Fitness Professional and commit to learning the truth. It's money and time, and effort that you put on the table. Those are all big deals.

Open-Mindedness

And so on top of that courage, you will need the flexibility and teach-ability to accept good information when it's truly in front of you.

It's increasingly common for new training and nutrition clients to come into my studio (or into my inbox), saying, “I need help,” only to reject the solution that I give them, because it doesn’t fit their pre-existing assumptions.

My question back to them is always the same. If that advice worked so well for you, what the hell are you doing here? I say it with a lot more love, of course. But that's basically the gist of it.

Don’t make assumptions. Stay open to new ideas. Be ready for transformation.

If you think you are ready to ditch your old assumptions about food, nutrition, and health, you may be ready to start the transformation. Along with training, my one-on-one coaching program will literally teach you how to eat. It will give you an opportunity for three months to build your nutritional house from the ground up, developing new habits that will allow you to easily and naturally eat for your best body.

Be impeccable with your word.

 

Don’t take anything personally.

 

Don’t make assumptions.

 

Get ready for next week’s fourth and last agreement! 

The Four Agreements of Nutrition: The Second Agreement

Don't Take Anything Personally

For the next few days, I’m taking a look at how Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements relate to making real life changes, specifically nutrition. Last week, I talked about the principles of LOVE and TRUTH from the first agreement (“Be impeccable with your word”), but this week I’m going to take a look at the second agreement: “Don’t take anything personally,” and how it relates to the often destructively dogmatic world of nutrition.

Watch the clip HERE

If anyone caught last fall’s Hulu original Casual, you know that there is a spot-on scene in which a CrossFitter religiously promotes her Paleo diet. If you haven't seen it, I'm sure it's not a scenario too difficult to imagine. Even when her date says, “I’m happy to move forward without an argument,” (like ok, girl… I got it.) she dives into what is clearly (and hilariously) anecdotal “scientific” support for her lifestyle.

Chick would totally need to work on her Functional Dating Screen score. But anyway...

Food and Virtue

We’ve all met those people – whether it’s low-carb-high-fat, Whole30, gluten-free, vegan, 20 million day fix(or whatever), or simply “clean,” the diet becomes the person. You literally can’t talk to this person without the conversation steering back to the superiority of their way of eating. 

Before you roll your eyes just thinking about this person, let's examine this behavior with some love, shall we?

Last week, I pointed out that most diets work well as long as you are consistent. But it’s easy to slip into fanaticism, especially if your diet is complicated, restrictive, or difficult to maintain. For some people, they need to think that their way is the only way to be healthy, in order to justify the increased level of attention that their lifestyle demands. 

They renounce others in righteous support of themselves. Classic defense mechanism.

How does this relate to Don Miguel Ruiz?

You Are Not Your Diet

His second agreement, “Don’t take anything personally,” means that you don’t accept others’ projections onto yourself. He uses amazing language about others’ entire realities being a “dream,” and he points out that we can be more free and happy if we don’t allow others perspectives to define us.

While this could apply to relationships, career, or money, there is an obvious application here for nutrition.

Each way of eating (or exercising) carries with it a certain identity, whether or not the stereotype is actually true for the individual. For example, it could be argued that Paleo is extremely associated with CrossFit (as Casual jokes), while veganism is a hallmark of a yogic lifestyle. Making certain food choices could make you feel a certain way about your value and identity, whether the identity that you want is more tough, more enlightened, or more self-disciplined.

cc:  The Tig

The difficulty of internalizing our identity around our food choices, however, is that sometimes our choices aren’t perfect. Even though I advocate for consistency in the first agreement, the reality of life is that there are ups and downs even in a big picture of consistency. It’s never a straight line, even if you’re moving in the right direction.

Sure, you feel amazing when you’re eating “clean.” You may feel superior, in control, and self-disciplined.

But what if you binge on your favorite nachos when it’s not your “cheat day”? Are you then a failure, or lazy? We’re back at the first Agreement here -- You must uphold love and the truth.

Because the other consideration is that just as everyone’s dream of the world is different, so too are everyone’s nutritional needs.

A paleo persuasion is actually a pretty dangerous diet for someone who puts in the kind of intense effort that a Crossfitter does. Cutting carbs cuts your gains.

A vegan diet can seem super clean and healthy. But it can actually wreak havoc on the health of any individual with a less than extraordinarily excellent digestive tract.

And the fact that you cannot hang on to these habits should not cause you harm. Whether that harm is incurred by trying to repeatedly force the beliefs of someone else onto your body. Or by failing at that diet and feeling bad about yourself for it. 

We need to be free to be objective with our nutrition. To separate ourselves from our food choices. 

The TRUTH, is that all diets won't work for every individual in the long term, and you need to LOVE yourself enough to honor this realization without judgement. 

Taking Food Personally

Like Ruiz advocates, we can’t let diet culture dictate how we feel about ourselves, because that would be allowing others’ projections to define who we are.

That is why I recently released “Sophisticate Your Nutrition,” a three-month course that gives you the education, guidelines, and principles to create an eating lifestyle that gives you the results you want, without adhering to a specific “diet.”

You don’t have to be Paleo to be tough. You don’t have to be vegan to be enlightened. You can be whatever the hell you want to be, achieve your goals, and live a free, happy, healthy lifestyle.

The FOUR Agreements Of Nutrition: The First Agreement

Don Miguel Ruiz and… Diets?

In 1997, Don Miguel Ruiz published a tiny, best-selling book called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Wisdom. In the space of 138 pages, Ruiz distills what he calls “ancient Toltec wisdom” into four concise principles for life. His simple, insightful writing stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for seven years and secured Ruiz a spot as a “National Heirloom” of Mexico.   

But what the hell does Don Miguel Ruiz have to do with fitness coaching or nutrition?

WELL... His Four Agreements are simply ways of living that help people achieve freedom and happiness in life, whether the struggle is with love, purpose, or success. 

But, I can’t help but wonder — when it comes to our relationship with food, couldn’t we all use a little more freedom and happiness?

If you are approaching the lunch counter or your closet with imminent fear on the regular, I know for a fact there is better. If you are commiserating with friends over brunch on this or that area of stubborn fat and marveling at those insta fit chicks who seem to have it all together, I can tell you there is another side.

So, how do we get to that other side? Where does badass confidence, with regard to nutrition and self image, come from? 

Behold. Over the next four posts, I’m going to drop some practical but revolutionary wisdom. 

Let’s take a look at how the Four Agreements can be interpreted as four pretty much renegade principles for achieving a happier and healthier relationship with food:

 

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word

In yoga, we begin class with an intention. It helps us ground to our practice and stand strong in our focus as we ask our bodies to change. Just as you approach flowing movements with implacable grace, you must also set a similar intention for your nutritional changes. And that mantra is impeccability.

Impeccable. What does the word actually mean? While it brings to mind images of faultless perfection, Don Miguel Ruiz chooses to zero in on the sense of integrity introduced by the definition.

When you are impeccable with your word, you speak with an intention to be perfectly real -- to  uphold love and truth.

You step up to the challenge at hand, whatever that may be, with these two motives as your guide.

 

You Should Go and Love Yourself

If you truly seek to change your relationship with food, you’ve got to change your relationship with your self image. And this begins with how we speak about ourselves. You need to talk about yourself with love.

To cultivate love in your speech and your self-talk(we’re not necessarily limiting this dialogue to what you say out loud, as words and thoughts can often conflict), you will agree not to verbally put yourself down, using body image negativity to harm. 

If we are really honest, we know that calling ourselves “fat” or “lazy” does not inspire or motivate us. Self deprecation is definitely not the mantra of choice as you embark on a journey of long-lasting transformation.   

If asked to coach your best friend in the acquisition of any skill you could imagine, you would NEVER speak to her with a derogatory demeanor. You would address her with loving kindness.

This is the way you must also greet yourself every day. Like you’re a white hot goddess with glowing wisdom who's already pretty excellent.

cc: www.thetig.com

cc: www.thetig.com

If you don't believe you are worthy of your own approval now, fake it to make it girl. I wore a necklace strung with 108 beads(that's 108 mantras a day) around my arm for the better part of a year to remind me how worthy I am. And you know the funny thing is... I started to believe it.

As you learn to repeatedly address yourself with respect, you'll find your regard for yourself increases exponentially.

But how do we balance that here and now spiritual swagger, with a genuine need or desire to change? The two intentions seem conflicting.

It’s arguable that the recent rise of body positive culture is a projection of a deeper fear of change, or even dishonoring your self-love by wanting more.

And lovelies, I have to tell you from my behind the filter, real life experience, that these suppositions aren’t completely invalid.

Having goals to eat better, get leaner, and achieve elite fitness goals can be intimidating. Change can incite fear, the opposite of love. And we also cannot ignore that by nature, our bodies are wired to want to stay the same. 

So how do we set out to accomplish these nutritional mileposts while thinking and speaking with the intent to love, rather than hate on ourselves?

 

let's just be fucking real: FoCUS ON THE TRUTH

The other side of the love coin is speaking truth, and when it comes to nutrition, truth also means self-honesty and consistency. A little bit of reflective objectivity(We'll get into the power of not taking things personally next post). Practicality is the truer definition of perfection here.

Being “impeccable with your word” means writing down everything you eat in your food log, and taking a real look at the state of your diet right now. You must know the truth of where you are now to be excited about where you’re going.

The not knowing part is what really instills fear and blocks us from love.  

We need love AND the truth for success.

And so being “impeccable with your word” also means making a real commitment. You must seek the expertise of a coach with real nutrition knowledge. To erase your anxiety of failure.

And being “impeccable with your word” means sticking with it. To eradicate the possibility of missing the mark.

The best-kept secret of the tumultuous and controversial dieting world – in which every diet guru claims that their way is the only way that works – is that most diets do work in the short term… if you stick to them.

Are there best practices? Are some philosophies better than others for your long-term health and happiness? Absolutely. But if you follow any plan with consistency, honesty, and positivity, if you are truly “impeccable with your word,” you will indeed find some kind of success. 

It all comes back to love and the truth. The realness. Be comfortable with where you're at. But know where you're going. 

 

Coaching and Impeccability

I want you to find the most success. This is why I released my new program, “Sophisticate Your Nutrition,” this week. As a personal trainer, I also have to be impeccable with my word, and in my case, that means using my expertise to give my clients the best possible tools to succeed in achieving their fitness goals. It also means being honest about what doesn’t work.

As I wrote in my blog post last week, moderation doesn’t work for most people, because most people don’t have the skills or habits to get moderation to work for them. 

Cookie-cutter plans don’t work for everyone because we are are all inherently too different, from biology to lifestyle. 

Meal plans don’t work in the long term because they are restrictive and lacking in intuitive instruction. 

And you absolutely should not need to play Jedi mind tricks with your brain for the rest of your life, trying to convince yourself that you're super content with where you're at. You are not ever obligated to accept relative mediocrity.

Your love for your body should be inherent and easy, not instructed. 

My new program, “Sophisticate Your Nutrition,” will literally teach you how to eat, so that you can incorporate the principles of impeccability that you need for success, freedom, and happiness… into your eating lifestyle. To be the truly confident body positive badass you can be.

Want to Sophisticate Your Nutrition? Learn how you can work with Ashleigh for less than the cost of two training sessions, PLUS a bonus** 3-month strength and conditioning program.