Enjoy Your Holiday, Don’t Survive Them

by Melissa on December 18, 2014

“32 Science Backed Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain”

“Beat the Holiday Bulge”

“Survive the Holidays without Gaining Weight”

Do these sound familiar?  If you live in the US, have looked at a blog or magazine, or have just talked with someone about the upcoming holidays, then I’m going to bet all my money, you will say yes.

Even though as an RD, I’m always up for helping others find their way through the holiday season, I’m grossly tired of these headlines, and slightly perturbed by them.  Like Katie at HungryRunner said, “what is this, another volume to The Hunger Games?” 

No Katie, I think not.  The holidays aren’t to be dreaded or worried about with such emotion.  If anything, these headlines perpetuate the issues that arise during this time of year, not help.  Each time a coaching client mentions something about their worry towards the upcoming holiday season, I usually work towards helping them find some joy in it.  How do I do that?  I tell them to enjoy it.  Enjoy the day – and everything that comes with it!  The people, the company, the lights, the festivities, and of course the food. 

I’m not saying this as a way to live forever, but we have to live our lives.  Avoiding the wedding cake, saying no to ice cream on a beach vacation, and pouring out the champagne before a NYE toast does not a fun life make. 

So eat the cookie, relax the workout plans and just go for a walk with mom, and have a glass of eggnog with grandpap.  Sometimes these traditions are also where our favorite memories are made, and you just never know when it may be the last of them.

As an RD, I advocate a healthy lifestyle 24/7, and part of that lifestyle is also learning when to lean in, say yes, and eat some butter.  (and yes, on the flipside, it’s also learning when to say no)

Live it up.  Enjoy your holidays.  The running shoes will be there waiting for you when it’s over.  :)

run oranment


Her Holiday Wish List

by Melissa on December 16, 2014

I wish I could write this from the viewpoint of a guy, but I can’t.  I could even try to pull from what I think Devin likes, but even then I’d be taking a guess. 

Instead, I’m offering up some last minute gift ideas for the active lady on your list.  She may not be vocal about what she needs to keep her running, lifting, and stretching like a champ because she’s too busy doing one of the above, so let me help :)

From stocking stuffers to those gifts you can wrap for under the tree, these are a few of my favorite things (channeling my inner Oprah…)

Let’s start with STOCKING STUFFERS

Stock Stuffers

1. bkr Water Bottle:  I actually got this as event SWAG (not bad, right?) and I’ve fallen in love.  I carry it in my purse all the time because it’s pretty enough to pass as an accessory, but the opening is also small enough that I can drink from it during a workout and not have half of it down the front of my chin.  Shop for it through Lucy and you can also nab a great headband or hat!

2. Feetures Socks:  I wrote about these in my spring fitness favorites, and they still top my list.  Even after multiple washes, they still offer a cushiony hug.  Plus, my feet stay pretty much blister free, which is huge for me!

3. Ultimate Direction Meow Pack:  For long runs and races, this is my go to!  It sits perfectly on my hip or low back and chaffing is non-existent since Jenny makes these for a woman’s shape.  I also have a rather large phone (Samsung S5, same size at iPhone 6) and it fits perfectly. 

4. Nuun Electrolyte Tabs:  I keep one in every gym bag I own, plus one in my purse.  I’m obsessed with the flavors (watermelon, cherry limeade, and pink lemonade).  And the Energy Nuun is worth it if you need a pick me up before an evening run or class.  It’s only equal to a half cup of coffee, so it’s just enough for that burst of energy. 

Now, if you’re not stuffing any stockings this year, but are looking for a fitness item to wow her with, don’t you worry, I’ve got you covered with that as well:

Under the Tree

1. Fitbit Surge: Ok, so this hasn’t technically launched, and I haven’t even tried it.  But I have used quite a few of the fitbit products and loved all of them.  So if you need something for now, any of their products would make a good gift.  But, you can always wrap a picture of the Surge and tell her when it launches, her’s will be on its way ;) Heart rate, GPS, phone alerts, and much much more.  I WILL BE GETTING THIS!

2. Mile 22 Bag:  Does she have a ton of race bibs sitting around that she can’t part with but are also collecting a lot of dust?  Then this is the perfect gift!  They transform old race bibs into beautiful bags that do double duty for her gym clothes and post race necessities.  If you’re her race support, you may also be toting this to the spectator points along the course ;)

3. A Race Entry:  These add up and if she truly loves destination races, then it might be just the gift to buy her a race entry to a certain locale.  Not only will she partake in one of her favorite activities, but then the two of you will have a great vacation on the books for 2015.  Looking for a few suggestions?

Big Sur Half Marathon – November 8, 2015 (After seeing “Wild” I’m all about the Pacific Coast)

Myrtle Beach Half Marathon – February 14, 2015 (Valentines Race?)

Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon – July 30, 2015 (Wine, Dine, & Run)

4.  Procompression Women’s Leggings:  The good news for you?  These are 42% off right now!  Well everything on the site is and that’s just plain awesome when we’re a little over a week away from the holiday.  While you may think they’re really tight (#keepittight) they actually feel more like a hug.  Are you seeing a trend here (feetures explanation above)?  I’ve only had these for a week, but I’ve been pretty much living in them and will be purchasing a 2nd pair.

christmas list

Hope these suggestions help!  I’d love to hear from you and what’s on your wish list this year!  Especially if you’re a dude – always good to get more ideas from that perspective :)


Abs Challenge Week 3: Beating Sugar Cravings

by Melissa on November 18, 2014

You’ve made it to week 3! 

[recap:  Week 1 Part 1, Week 1 Part 2, Week 2 Part 1, Week 2 Part 2, Dietitian on the Run]

As we enter this week, much of the US is covered in snow and/or preparing for the holiday season.  While I love the snow (if it’s going to be cold it might as well snow) and absolutely love the holidays – yes, my Christmas tree is up – I also know this time of year can be slightly stressful when you have a health goal in mind.

holiday funny

Instead of wishing it were over, let’s start the week 3 abs challenge nutrition focus with tips on beating sugar cravings!

Why even care about sugar and sweets when it comes to the abs challenge?

Well first, sugar is addicting.  The more you have, the more you want.  Which means that it becomes harder and harder to say no to the sweet stuff and easier to eat more calories each day, possibly leading to weight gain.  Second, eating increased amounts of sugar releases excess insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that allows us to take in the sugar to either use for energy or store as fat for later use.  It also reduces the body’s ability to release excess fat from storage.  Last, eating regular amounts of processed sugar throughout the day sends our body on a roller coaster ride with sugar spikes, then insulin spikes, and finally a crash.  Our body will eventually see this as a stressor and release cortisol, a stress hormone.  Guess what excess cortisol does to our body?  Increases inflammation which can make weight loss or even just fat loss more difficult.

(the oversimplified, condensed version)

Sounds rough right?  But there are many ways to beat the sugar cravings and make your body a lean fat burning machine! 

Sugar Cravings

How do we beat the sugar cravings?

1.  Audit your kitchen.  Meaning, get rid of the white powdery stuff.  Cookies, freeze for a later occasion or pitch.  Candy, put in a jar and ration daily or pitch.  Reduce the amount of baking you do.  Purchase whole wheat pastry flour to sub for all purpose flour.  Bread chicken with almond meal vs. flour.  There are a million ways to reduce the white stuff in your house, however opting for whole grain options, look to starchy vegetables instead of pasta, and decreasing sweet intake to 1-2x per week max is the goal.

Easy Swaps

20 Carb Alternatives that Don’t Suck courtesy of The Greatist

Paleo Treats courtesy of PaleOMG (while I don’t eat Paleo I sometimes make Paleo treats to reduce the sugar intake)

2.  Know your limit.  When you do indulge, figure out whether it’s a small bite or a small slice that you’re fine with before you go savage on your cake.  I know that a small cookie or a small piece of chocolate works for me.  If I go for more than that, then I’ll find myself in a sugar coma wondering why my house looks like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory just exploded.  Don’t go there.  Know your limit.

3.  Eat MORE FAT!  Seriously.  No…really, I’m not kidding.  Fat is good for you and can help to keep you satiated.  The more satisfied you feel, the less you want the sweet stuff.  This the #1 reason I’ve switched to whole fat yogurt, eating almost a whole avocado a day, and eating mad amounts of all natural nut butters, therefore leading to a 3% reduction in body fat without reducing the amount of food I’m eating.  It helped to cut back on the sugar cravings.  Now I’m fine with a small piece of dark chocolate versus 3 cookies.  So think avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fishes. 

4. Drink Water, Lots of Water.  Remember last week’s hydration challenge?  Don’t stop – keep going! Dehydration can reduce your energy levels and have you searching for a quick pick me up. 

5.  Tell the World.  Yes, tell people you’re trying to eat less sugar.  Get people on board.  Your family and friends need to know your goals before you can expect them to stop shoving cookies in your face during the holidays.  This goes for the whole year through too.  Goals are more likely to work when we set up our physical environment for success and this includes people. 

How to fight sugar cravings?

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360 Degree Ab Workout

by Melissa on November 12, 2014

How’s the water situation going?

Feeling fresh?


Now it’s time to tune into targeting your abs this week in the FITNESS FOCUS

But what does it mean to train your abs from all angles?  Well, your abs are more than just the front of your stomach and they require a bit more work than crunches (although don’t hate on the crunch, it’s still a staple).  Instead of thinking of your abs as “abs”, start to train your brain to think of it as your core.  And your core is made up of multiple muscles.  We’ll be focusing on 3 of them this week in training.

Transverse Abdominis

Think of this are your built in girdle – or men, you may want to think of it as a built in weight belt.  Want to really get an idea of where this muscle is?  Ok, take a nice big inhale.  Then exhale as much as you can.  The muscle that squeezes into your stomach to help with that nice forceful exhale is your transverse abdominis.  It runs horizontally on the body and is the deepest of the abdominal muscles.  It’s extremely important to train this muscle for good posture and overall strength in any movement.  Pretty much the TVA engages anytime you move a limb.

Exercises to train the Transverse Abdominis

TVA Exercises

Rectus Abdominis

This is your 6 pack muscle.  When you’ve done your cardio, this is the muscle most of us notice.  These run vertically in front of your TVA and help with flexing your body forward (think crunching or bending forward to pick something up).  It also helps with exhalation just like the TVA. 

Exercise to train the Rectus Abdominis

RA exercises


Well there are really two obliques: the internal and the external.  These are important for rotating your core and bending side to side.  You will probably associate these with the term “love handles”, but I’m really not all about that!  The love handles are really the overlying layer of fat and your obliques are what you uncover with your interval training ;)

Exercises to train the Obliques

Oblique Exercises

Aiming to incorporate exercises that train all muscles of your core is extremely important when you’re looking for visible results.  Nutrition and cardio are important too, but crunches as your only ab exercise just won’t cut it!

WEEK 2 WORKOUT:  For this week, incorporate each exercise after your cardio sessions.  Do 3 sets of 10 each each (if it incorporates more than one side, do 10 on each side). 

Need more ab challenge ideas?  Heather over at Dietitian on the Run has got you covered with a great track workout that will count towards your cardio/interval training.  Get after it challengers!


Week 2: November Abs Challenge

November 11, 2014

Welcome to week 2!  I hope you enjoyed week 1 by focusing on whole foods and kick starting your journey to washboard abs with 2 interval training routines!  In case you’re wondering, we’re not getting rid of whole foods and cardio – that was just the beginning.  Instead, look at each week as building on […]

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Abs are made in the kitchen & Worked in the gym

November 7, 2014

Hey abs challengers, how’s it going?  Are you a little tired from your first round of cardio intervals?  Need a little extra nutritional push to keep you going?  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.  Today I’m sharing one of my favorite vegetables and the many ways I use it to create a healthy, low carb […]

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Week 1: November Abs Challenge

November 3, 2014

Why an abs challenge during a month that leads into the busiest of holiday seasons? Well, why not? I honestly can’t think of a better time of the year to host an abs challenge right when we’re starting to become slightly more sedentary (um, hello! no more sun after 5:30pm) and eat a bit more […]

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Mizuno Wave Rider 18: There is no finish line

October 30, 2014

*Mizuno provided me with these shoes to test drive (aka run the city in), however all opinions are my own* I started running in high school.  Track team and the only thing I could do was run the 2 miler (3200).  No jumping.  No throwing.  Just run. Then I burnt out.  Goodbye running, hello college […]

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Meatless Meals & Easy to Make Veggie Burgers

October 28, 2014

Hi Eat on the Runners!  Long time, no write I know, it makes me sad too.  Sometimes when life happens, blogging slows – which is a good thing!  But I’ve missed my creative outlet and interacting with you all on a regular basis.  That is why I am back and ready to roll!  Let’s get […]

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Post Workout Fuel

September 25, 2014

As a dietitian, I’m more than well aware of the effects of proper nutrition on the body, especially when it comes to performing your best during a workout.  This fueling strategy is not only needed before the workout, but also after. However, as a person, I have to learn it the hard way like everyone […]

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