Category Archives: Nutrition Coaching

Five Kitchen Must Haves for Meal Prep


Eating out can wreak havoc on your bank account, as well as any healthy habits you are trying to incorporate. Why not cook your own meals in batches? Here are some time saving, essential tools that will make prepping meals economical, healthier, and better tasting because they’ll be made by you with love. If you don’t make your food with love, keep eating out. Just kidding. Sorta.

  1. Instant Pot

What makes an IP so great? It is one tool that serves many purposes, such as: slow cooker; electric pressure cooker; yogurt maker and rice cooker. Have frozen chicken you want to cook up for dinner? No problem, the IP can cook it quickly. Cooking in an IP is convenient in that you can put your ingredients into it, secure the lid and walk away while you do other things. There aren’t that many parts to it to clean (the inner pot, the lid and the accompanying silicone sealing ring), which is nice when you don’t want to spend too much time with clean up. Another time saving feature is the IP can cook things much faster than other cooking methods, such as a slow cooker. If you’re someone who likes to save time while preparing meals and cook enough food to last several meals, the IP is perfect for you. 

The one I purchased is here.

  1. Spiralizer

Let’s face it. If you balk at eating vegetables, you may not balk at ones that look pretty and springy. Many people looking to watch their carbohydrate intake have turned to buying vegetable “noodles” as a way of avoiding rice, wheat or flour. Why not make them at home and save some money? You can use spiralized vegetables in stir-fries or as garnishes for other dishes such as salads. Fruits can also be spiralized; the possibilities are endless!

The stabilizing foot on this is perfect for someone clumsy like me.

  1. Sustainable Storage

Using plastic bags and then throwing them out seems so wasteful. What if it didn’t have to be? Reusable silicone bags are becoming more and more popular and are available in different sizes. Things you can do with silicone bags, besides store food in them: steam or reheat food in either boiling water or in the microwave; place in the freezer and clean in the top rack of the dishwasher.

I own these but have my eye on the snack size of these.

Another consideration–glass containers rather than plastic containers. Plastic containers tend to look a little…funky…after repeatedly being used to reheat foods. It can also be daunting to think of chemicals potentially leaching into your food, which can be eliminated by using glass.

These are highly rated and recommended.

  1. Rimmed Sheet Pans

If you aspire to eat healthier, one way to do it is to increase your vegetable consumption. Roasting lots of them with a variety of spices is easy to do with sheet pans–simply cut them up, toss with a little olive oil or other healthy fat of your choice, add a seasoning you’ll enjoy, spread them on a sheet pan, and cook til they’re done. Pair with a protein and you have a fulfilling, nutritious meal.

Meals can also be created on sheet pans! As an example: spread sliced lemons onto a pan, add spiced chicken, onions and olives. Drizzle a little oil on top and roast in the oven. When it’s done, portion out servings and store for consumption later.

I use these.

  1. A Good Knife

One. That’s all you need. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, a chef’s knife will do, but make sure it is durable, feels good in your hand, and can do these things really well: slice, chop, dice and mince. Other knives that are nice to have but aren’t necessary: a paring knife for peeling, chopping and other small tasks; a serrated knife for cutting fine or delicate foods and a bread knife for slicing through loaves of bread. Be sure to hand wash, hand dry and safely store your knives to protect them from dulling.

I swear by this knife. I even bought one for my mother!

A great infographic on knives can be found here

Happy meal prepping!

Introducing Coach Lauren (Pak)

Hello reader!

Here is a quick re-cap of previous posts last week: On day 1 I featured Coach Rhonda T, a woman I know from my Best of You coaching/mentorship group. On day 2 I featured Coach Fowler, who I’d been following on social media and got to meet at the Jill Coleman Fitness Business Retreat recently held in Asheville, NC. Day 3 featured Julie Read, also someone I’d been following on social media and finally got to meet at the same retreat (she is currently my coach). Day 4 featured Cori Lefkowith, a woman I found when researching pull up progressions and have since been a social media follower, a subscriber of her newsletters and a member of her Facebook groups. Today, day 5, I’d like to introduce you to Coach Lauren.

How I know Coach Lauren: I heard an interview featuring her and her husband Coach Jason on The FitCast Podcast and I loved all of the things the host, Kevin Larabee, was saying about the Pak’s: their strong community of members at their gym facility in Boston; the support networking they encourage among their gym members; and the coaching methodologies they employed to create a feeling of belonging and acceptance.

A quick peek of their social media will show smiles on their members faces that will tell you everything you need to know. As an example, I love how their Instagram posts features their members on a recurring basis demonstrating an exercise, participating in group workouts or giving each other high fives and/or hugs.

If I had dreams of opening a gym of my own one day, I’d start studying the business models of both Cori and Coach Lauren. The sense of inclusion and community they promote is simply awesome–they encourage *everyone* and leave no one behind.

And seriously…who wouldn’t love to have a shirt that says, “Peace, Love and Muscles”?!?

Quick funny story–over the summer, I attended the Perform Better Fitness Summit in Providence, RI. While coming out of my hotel one day, I saw the Pak’s entering the hotel. I totally fan-girled and wanted to say hello, but got shy and didn’t say anything. I regretted it later because I know they would have welcomed a chance to say ‘hi’ back (seriously, they really are nice people). Coach Lauren, upon hearing my story, has told me to make sure I say hi the next time I see them, and I absolutely will.

Sadly, this is the last of my five part series featuring women coaches I find inspirational, endearing and authentic. I hope you saw a common theme among these women: they are passionate about what they do; they are firm believers in empowering others; they demonstrate community and inclusion; and last but not least, they ensure their clients have fun every step of the way. Fitness and health don’t have to be painful, boring or dull. It can be confidence building, celebratory and life changing!

Give Coach Lauren and Achieve Fitness a follow. Her upbeat personality and dedication to others will brighten your day and I promise you’ll learn valuable fitness tips from her!

Let’s get into the questions!

Question #1: What got you into fitness and coaching others?

My husband (who was “just a friend” at the time) got a job at a local commercial gym and they told him they were looking to hire more female trainers. He knew I liked to workout and even though I was still studying journalism in college at the time, I thought it would be a fun part-time job. I had NO idea it would end up being the thing I’m most passionate about in life!As soon as I started training people I realized that I had the potential to guide them toward longer, healthier, more fulfilled lives. This was not something I took lightly and I committed to learning everything I could by attending seminars, certifications, etc. to make sure I had as many tools as possible in my toolbox.

What drives me to keep coaching and keep pushing forward in this industry is seeing how much more confidence people get when they realize they’re capable of so much more than they initially imagined.

Question #2: What is your favorite exercise to coach or teach to others?

My favorite thing to teach is probably kettlebells, so I’ll go with either the kettlebell swing or the Turkish Get Up. I love them because they take a lot of focus and concentration, and they both make people feel powerful and capable!

Question #3: What is the biggest fitness myth that you would like to dispel?

I think right now there is a lot of divisiveness in the fitness industry. There are a lot of trainers who bash other modalities that they don’t agree with, and I think it has made fitness a little bit more intimidating for folks who are just looking to move more and get healthier. They’re bombarded with conflicting opinions on what the best type of exercise is, so I think the myth I want to dispel is that there is one ultimate best type of workout or fitness routine. Different things work wonderfully for different people, and everyone should try a variety of modalities to see what they like the best and what makes them feel the best!

Question #4: What is one nutrition tip you think women could use? 

I think the best advice when it comes to nutrition is slowing down. I know a lot of women are incredibly busy, so they eat their meals VERY quickly and within the hour they can’t even remember if they ate or not! That was certainly the case for me for a long time. I had to practice slowing down my chewing and trying to stretch my meals out to last at least 20 minutes. Just doing that helped me so much with understanding portion control and how much food I actually needed!

Question #5:  Your past clients and current clients are all at a cocktail party. What do you hope is the common thing that they say or remember about you?

Great question!! I really hope that they would say I instilled a sense of confidence in them. I hope they all felt like I truly cared about them (because I do!) and that I brought a sense of joy to working out.

Introducing Cori Lefkowith

How I know Cori: Back in 2014 or even 2015, I was doing extensive research on pull ups (how to work up to one or more) and a few different posts by Cori popped up. I liked the information she presented and loved her thorough instruction.

I did some some poking around and found she posts a LOT of free stuff online. Seriously.  A TON of free things that anyone can use and get results from. Sit at a computer or desk too much and need sime stretches to undo that tightness? She’s got you covered. Looking to burn some fat before the holidays? Yep, she’s got you covered there, too. Want to up your running game by  developing more endurance or power? I think you know the answer here.

Cori ran a pull up challenge for anyone to join but she especially encouraged those who hadn’t gotten their first pull up yet to join her 30 day challenge. I joined. Of course. I think I managed to squeeze out two good ones and even won a prize at the end. Go me!!!

I thought, if she gives such amazing stuff away for free, what does her paid content look like?!? It’s fabulous and I know because I worked with her privately for a short time. I quit my gym because I built out a home gym and needed a program to keep me on track with what I had. Cori gave me exactly what I needed and some of what I wanted, which is what a good trainer does. 🙂

It’s evident her gym members and clients love her–Cori’s energy for healthful living is contagious and inspiring because she truly loves what she does (the proof is in her answers to my mini-interview questions below). Take a peek at her website and Facebook page. I’ll bet she has posted something you could use and implement right now.

Let’s get into the questions!

Question #1: What got you into fitness and coaching others?

I’d been an athlete my entire life…My mom told me that growing up tennis was more fun than Barbies so she got me out on the court early on. She fostered my love for activity.

That early love of sports led to me playing tennis at college. There I was lucky enough to have a trainer who inspired my love of lifting. I began learning and researching and even designing my own workouts. I would even force my sister to lift with me each summer when I came home.

After graduating, I thought I wanted to write about college athletes, but I quickly realized I wasn’t happy if I wasn’t working hands on with people to improve their strength and fitness. I wanted to help others find the empowerment through exercises and fitness that I’d found.

I began lifting with my boyfriend of the time…and now husband. He pushed me constantly to lift heavier and experiment with new workouts…He was part of the reason I competed in powerlifting. He always believed in me!…Which has now backfired on him as I force him to try new things and workout with me all the time (and he isn’t afraid or embarrassed when I beat him!).

After realizing I wanted to train people and work hands on, but also knowing I had no experience, I took a job working as a customer service rep at a corporate gym just so I could get started in the field…And well…that built till now!

Question #2: What is your favorite exercise to coach or teach to others?


So my favorite moves is the Deadlift. I love coaching this because of how awesome it feels to beast mode up a heavier weight than you did last time.

BUT I also love coaching the pull up as I think that move is so freaking empowering and something we can all do with some work. Plus there are just so many different things you can do to get people to feel the move and do it right. I like moves that can sometimes be complicated and that challenge you as a coach to get your pupil to learn!

I also love coaching glute activation exercises like the glute bridge because I think they are a must-do move that just about everyone needs because we all sit too much! I just love glute activation!

Question #3: What is the biggest fitness myth that you would like to dispel?


That dieting has to mean deprivation.

AND that getting results is about doing more and working out harder. Less is often truly more AND it really is about training smarter not harder. You can often get better results by spending less time in the gym. Everything you do just needs to be focused on your goals. And you need to think about the muscles that are working and NOT just go through the moves. Just because a move looks right, doesn’t mean you’re recruiting the right muscles!

Question #4: What is one nutrition tip you think women could use? 

EAT and stop depriving. Again it goes back to the fact that sometimes doing less, and making things simpler works better.

We think if we do more, like cut our calories lower or deprive ourselves of more foods…Or overcomplicated things and micromanage every detail, we will get better results.

But simplicity is key because it isn’t about perfection, it’s about consistency!

Question #5:  Your past clients and current clients are all at a cocktail party. What do you hope is the common thing that they say or remember about you?

She taught me to train smarter. I’d like to think I’m a teacher. I don’t want my clients to think I know something they don’t know. I want to share my knowledge so we all get better.

So if they felt they’d learned something from me and became more empowered…well hot damn I’d be happy!

Bonus Round: What’s been the toughest situation a client brought to you and how did you overcome it? 

There have actually been a few situations that come to mind…But the hardest thing I’ve had to learn as a coach is that you can’t want it for someone.

Often I feel like I want my clients to reach their goals even more than they do. But I realized at some points, you have to step back and even say “I can’t want it for you. I can give you the tools and guide you, but you need to find the reason WHY this matters to you if you want results.”

And sometimes that discussion means even knowing when you aren’t the right person to get them there and trying to help them find the person that is!

Where you can see Cori Lefkowith in action:

Introducing Coach Julie Read

How I know Coach Julie Read: I first saw her in Jen Sinkler’s posts on Instagram. Jen’s personality is huge and she’s a superb role model in the fitness industry. I’m a firm believer that good people draw and attract fellow good people, so I knew Julie had to be equally cool. I stumbled across one of her muscle drawings that someone had reposted, and I poked around to see if she had completed other muscle drawings. She has a sizable collection online that you can purchase or download (see here: website) Her drawings are a far better way of learning muscle location and function–not kidding, just take a look for yourself. 🙂

Coach Julie Read is wicked smart when it comes to programming her clients and seeks out ways to elevate her coaching business. If you have a fitness or nutrition goal, she will personalize a program for you and help you understand the importance of trusting the process a coach lays out for you.

Do like I did and check out Coach Julie Read. I bet you’ll become a follower like me!

Let’s get into the questions!

Question #1: What got you into fitness and coaching others?

I’ve been in athletics for as long as I can remember—competing in gymnastics from a young age and moving into the throwing events on the Track & Field team. When I graduated college I discovered that I missed being a part of a team and wanted to fill that space. I let my friend convince me to try out CrossFit and the feeling of taking classes with others made me feel part of a team again. Simultaneously I’d been getting regular bodywork and my massage therapist said that becoming a manual therapist was the best thing she’d ever done. Two days later I was enrolled in massage therapy school. Before graduation I quit my full time job and pursued massage therapy and personal training full time.

Question #2: What is your favorite exercise to coach or teach to others?

I love coaching the squat—anything from the bodyweight squat to the back squat.

Question #3: What is the biggest fitness myth that you would like to dispel?

There are many ways to approach fitness and the only right way is the way that helps a client to reach their goals in a sustainable and safe way. Many people believe that there are good methods and bad methods and I think that’s a total myth. There are methods that are safer, methods that are faster, and methods that are sustainable, but results are dependent on the individual and the implementation. It’s also important to know that generally all three of those can’t co-exists; there’s a cost in choosing a method that’s fast and there’s a need for greater expectation setting for a method that is sustainable. Flexibility in programming, training, methodologies, and occasionally form can help clients more than rigidity.

Question #4: What is one nutrition tip you think women could use? 

Get more sleep. I know, I know…that sounds like it doesn’t have anything to do with nutrition. We often think of nutrition as what we put into our body, but rarely think about how our daily life affects what we eat. Getting enough sleep helps regulate the hormones that play a major role in how (and if) we’re able to change our body composition. And, if body composition isn’t a top priority, then we’re probably looking at nutrition purely as a health topic. In that case, sleep deprivation has greater long term effects than poor nutrition. With less sleep we have less of an ability to make good nutritional choices, too, and oftentimes find ourselves reaching for too-calorie dense foods.

Question #5:  Your past clients and current clients are all at a cocktail party. What do you hope is the common thing that they say or remember about you?

I hope that my clients remember that they are my top priority. I never want to add more stress to their lives and hope that working with me gives them some mental freedom when they enter the gym, like they are taken care of and don’t have to think about anything but good movement.

Where you can see Coach Julie Read in action:

Introducing Coach (Stephanie) Fowler!

How I know Coach Fowler: I first saw her at the Girls Gone Strong Women’s Fitness Summit in Kansas City, MO in August of 2016. She was hanging out with Jen Sinkler and Jen is a really, really fun person and highly regarded. Good people tend to draw fellow good people, so I knew Coach Fowler had to be someone to start “stalking” on social media. 🙂

I quickly realized I can identify with so much of what she posts about: coffee; brunch; lifting weights; living a good life and having great friends. She is inclusive of all women and recently a post of hers made me admire her “leave no woman behind” mentality. Check this out: 

It was the update she included in her post that made me feel the compassion she shows to others: “Update: I have passed a message along to the additional student that she is welcome to join my current student at @empowerhousegym for her practicum. #safespace” 

If I’m ever in Oklahoma City I absolutely will find a way to do her Bootcamp to Brunch workouts because let me tell you, I wish my workouts led to brunch all the time!

Be sure to follow Coach Fowler. She keeps it real, she’s candid about her struggles with obesity as a teenager, and she’s got a great message about self acceptance.

Let’s get into the questions!

Question #1: What got you into fitness and coaching others?

I started coaching while I was at the peak of my own fitness performance.I was already a high school teacher and softball coach, but the lead trainer where I worked out approached me about training part time. That’s how it all started!

Question #2: What is your favorite exercise to coach or teach to others?

Honestly, my clients would probably tell you that I love coaching the push-up. It’s so important to me that my clients progressively get stronger with correct form, and the push-up (a simple move, but challenging if done correctly) is one of the exercises that a TON of people get wrong.

Question #3: What is the biggest fitness myth that you would like to dispel?

“Lifting weights makes you bulky.” NOOOOO. Lift heavy and lift often!

Question #4: What is one nutrition tip you think women could use? 

I would love to encourage women to consume more protein. Not only does it help keep us satisfied, it’s also the major component that helps repair our muscle tissue after workout (I.e. helps with recovery!)

Question #5:  Your past clients and current clients are all at a cocktail party. What do you hope is the common thing that they say or remember about you?

I hope they’re agreeing that I would tell them to enjoy the hors ’derves and cocktails guilt free, all the while strutting confidently around the room in whatever they choose to wear. 

Bonus Round: What’s been the toughest situation a client brought to you and how did you overcome it? 

A tough situation I have faced with a client is when they decided to leave my location for a location that promises weight loss with a strict eating regimen. I truly always wish for future success when and if a client chooses to leave, but I struggle when they choose the sexy “fast fix” versus honing in on the slow, consistent process of lifting heavy weights and dialing in on moderate nutrition. I have ultimately accepted that everybody has different goals, and if their goals don’t align with what I offer, then I wholeheartedly wish them success in their future journey.

Where you can see Coach Fowler in action:

Next month marks my 20th year in my career with the federal government and I plan on doing five more. When I do, I want to start a full time fitness and nutrition coaching career.

2017 is the first of my “five year plan”. I joined Jill Coleman’s elite mentorship group, Best of You, and have learned more than I could have imagined about creating content; building trust; marketing yourself; creating freebies and paid programs; understanding analytics to see who is drawn to my posts to better understand my future clients needs; and lastly, how much commitment is required in order to show up fully present all the time, every time. Last month, I attended Jill’s fitness business retreat in Asheville, NC. I came away with SO MANY ideas and felt like a HYOOOOOGE fire had been lit under my ass. Funny thing is, when I got home, I had so much swirling around in my head and had no idea of how or where to start. I decided to just start. To jump. To press publish no matter what. This week, I’ll be introducing you to 5 women coaches who symbolize everything I want to be to others.

I’ve been so fortunate to come across some women that are doing great, great things in the coaching industry.

What makes them so great, you ask? I admire the knowledge they possess and the ways they pass that knowledge on to others; I am inspired by the sense of community they build among those they coach; I’m encouraged by the support they show and compassion they demonstrate. I’ve spent plenty of time in gyms over the years and seen some horrible trainers. Years ago, I had a strength coach who was so darn good at what she did (I made considerable progress with her-seriously she knew her $&@£) but she was hard to relate to or build a rapport with because she was SO smart and SO busy that I really couldn’t have more than segmented conversations with her.

I pay a lot of attention to how coaches and trainers work with people, either in person or over the internet, and I take note of what I want to be and what I don’t want to be. The women I’ll be featuring this week embody all of the things I will be as I continue to form and shape my coaching career.

I hope you enjoy reading the mini interviews I had with them!

Below is a link to todays’s post, featuring Coach Rhonda T:

1 of 5 Women Doing Great Things in the Coaching Industry

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Thanks for reading!

Every year around this time, I’m reminded of how quickly the year has gone by and that the holidays are just around the corner. It’s a time of overload on so many levels: gift shopping; grocery shopping; increased traffic due to all the shoppers; increased workloads from colleagues being out on vacation; families/friends coming to visit; and in some cases, impacts on your daily routines due to weather. And then there is the food. The Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner(s), Christmas dinner(s), holiday parties and New Year’s Eve celebrations. So. Much. Food.


In the past, this was a particularly hard time of year for me when it came to ignoring the temptations of extra treats, food and wine. Despite the goals I set of not over-indulging and instead, practicing mindfulness, I would fail because, well, food. Food (especially at this time of the year) is so delicious and comforting and it’s so easy to say, “That’s what January 1 is for!”


I can’t tell you how many times during the holiday season I had a huge meal and enjoyed it in the moment but regretted it soon thereafter. I would ask myself, “Why did I eat so much?” or tell myself, “I shouldn’t have had that second helping.” The majority of these meals took place in gatherings of family and/or friends and I never fully tuned in to my satiety signal because I was putting my attention towards the conversations I was having. In other words, I did not arm myself with the right mindset to pay attention to my body by chewing slowly, pacing my consumption, and paying attention to my satiety signal or a feeling of fullness.


How do I incorporate mindset? It is harder than it sounds, but when I commit to it, it becomes easy pretty quickly.


This year, I haven’t snacked on any Halloween candy, despite it being around me at the office. I am not perfect, though. My little treat comes on the evenings I am home…exactly 10 peanut M&Ms. Why 10? It is just the right amount to satisfy the craving of something sweet without over indulging. This doesn’t happen every night I’m home – it’s my from time-to-time treat. I eat one at a time and I space them out so 1) I don’t gobble them down all at once and 2) they last longer. At holiday dinners, I try to have a healthy snack or small meal prior to the celebratory meal so I will be somewhat full and not consume too much extra food. If I wasn’t able to pre-fill my stomach on a light, healthy meal, I eat what I want, but in smaller portions. I try to use the smallest plate available and load up on the protein first, then the cleanest vegetables possible (green leaf salad vs. green bean casserole, for example), and then a small amount of carbohydrates and a small portion of healthy fats. These strategies have worked for me and are habits I have incorporated with success.


How can you develop healthy eating habits during the holidays that can be taken with you into the new year? It’s not as hard as you think. Write down a list of the things you struggle with. If you have more than three things on your list, pick three things you think you can change. Of those three, pick one thing you know you can change. An example may look like this:

  1. Eating ALL the foods.
  2. Leaving nothing on my plate.
  3. Taking seconds.
  4. Trying all of the desserts.
  5. Having 3 glasses of wine.
  6. Eating more than 1 large meal in the same day.
  7. Eating unhealthy all day (breakfast, lunch and dinner).


That used to be my list. Three things I thought I could change were items 5, 7 and 3 (in that order). The one thing I was confident I could change was #5. Once I was able to have 1 glass (or none) of wine instead of 3, I was ready for change #2: eating unhealthy all day. I have had better success when incorporating one habit at a time, but under certain circumstances, I have been able to incorporate multiple habits at once, in a short time frame. This happened when I was going to a fitness instructor course and needed to lose 4% body fat in order to avoid being sent home. Talk about having some motivation – I locked down both mindset and discipline in the 4 weeks I had until my class date.


The takeaway here is moderation is key. Be mindful of what you put into your body, as well as how much you put into it. Chew slowly, take a moment between bites, and be attentive to the signals your body sends you as it starts to feel full.


What do you struggle with as we start to come into the hectic last few months of the year? What are your strategies for eating during the holidays? What is a habit or habits you can form now and take in to 2017?