Until I Saw It With My Own Eyes…

I am a certified nutrition coach, so OF COURSE I know that dangers of artificial sweetener. I have studied about all of the negative side effects they bring, the downsides to using them, the long-term effects…but I guess deep-down that I never really believed all of the hype.

 

Not until I saw it with my own eyes.

 

Years ago, I was a chronic Splenda user. I used three packs of it in a single cup of coffee. Yes, THREE. Slowly, I weaned myself down to two packs. Then I started mixing Stevia in with the Splenda until I had finally transitioned to using Stevia alone. It has been years since I have bought Splenda or used it in my house.

 

This past weekend, I traveled to Tulsa for a business conference. I had to fly, so I was very limited on what I could bring with me. I remembered to pack a water bottle, meal replacement shake packets, protein bars…but I forgot the stevia. For five days, I had to resort to using Splenda again. No big deal, right?

 

WRONG.

 

Almost instantly, I had severe bloating and just felt “off.” This is no surprise since Splenda reduces the healthy bacteria in your gut by up to 50%. It also increases the amount of pH in your intestines.

I was also hungry all the time. Now, granted everyone that knows me knows that I love to eat (and I can honestly out-eat almost all my friends!), but I was HUNGRY. I was also hungry for unhealthy foods that I wouldn’t normally eat, such as sweets. This is also a side effect of the artificial sweetener. Splenda can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings (hello, cheesecake!), and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.

Lastly, my eyes were swollen and watered the entire time I was there, which was extremely frustrating since I wear contact lenses. I had to resort my pulling out my glasses in the afternoons because I just couldn’t handle the itchy, watery, uncomfortable feeling any longer.  Now that I’m home, it has almost completely stopped.

 

Artificial sweeteners certainly do live up to the bad rap they have been given. If you have no natural sweetener alternatives, I would highly recommend resorting to sugar before ingesting artificial sweeteners. This pertains to diet sodas as well; if you must have a soda, reach for one that isn’t diet (although I strongly suggest giving them up altogether).

I know that there are others out there that have read the articles, learned the facts, and have done the research, but you also have to “see it to believe it” like I did. I hope that my experience with this will open your eyes and show that it just isn’t worth it to cut corners with your health.

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Exercise Will Get You Nowhere

Exercise will get you nowhere…without the proper nutrition. Sounds crazy, right? I mean, if you are spending an hour a day in the gym up to five days a week, or you run five miles every single day, you should be able to see at least some change without having to give up the fried food diet…don’t you think?

 

Not so much.

 

Various studies have shown that changing an individual’s training or exercise session without altering their diet plan at all did almost nothing to change their body composition. Also, there was less than a 2% fat loss overall total.

 

Think about how much it costs to hire a personal trainer. Even if you aren’t willing to fork out the money for a trainer, a gym membership can get pricey as well. If you aren’t utilizing the proper nutrition techniques to accompany your exercise routine, basically you are shelling out money AND time for something that will leave you disappointed, angry, frustrated, and mad at your trainer.

 

But it isn’t their fault at all.

Please don’t get me wrong. Exercise is still absolutely critical when it comes to feeling better, looking better, and performing to your best ability. It helps your energy levels so that you feel like going on trips with your spouse or so that you can keep up and play with your children. Exercise IS important.

 

My point is that exercise ALONE will get you nowhere. You need to implement not only a solid exercise routine, but also a sound nutritional program. Research has shown that participants that combined effective nutritional strategies with the same training plans mentioned above had almost a 10-fold increase in effectiveness than training with no nutritional program in place.

 

The results don’t lie. You cannot cheat the system. You cannot make shortcuts. NOTHING is as effective as solid nutrition and proper exercise.

 

One last note: If your trainer is not encouraging you to seek out nutritional advice, that is a problem. It is almost as if they are giving you a brand new car without the keys. You will continue to stay in the same place because you do not have all of the pieces to move forward.

 

Meal Prepping – Simplified!

I will be honest and admit that after being spoiled with a seven-day, all-inclusive honeymoon in Jamaica with unlimited food options readily available, it is definitely not easy getting back into the swing of meal prepping.

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That is exactly why I am thankful for Prep Dish! Not only has it helped me tremendously, but now I can share it with all of you as well! I am so excited to be partnering with Prep Dish to offer all of my clients and followers a FREE two-week free trial (and who doesn’t like free??)
Prep Dish is a weekly meal plan subscription service developed by chef &
dietitian Allison Schaaf. She does all the planning for you- including easy-to-
follow shopping lists and prep-ahead instructions so you know what to prepare and when to prepare it.
Here are just a few of the reasons why I love Prep Dish:
weekly meal plans delivered straight to your inbox
delicious & easy “real food” based recipe that are always gluten-free
dairy-free & Paleo options available!
Prep Dish answers the dreaded question of “what’s for dinner?”
FREE for 2 weeks! 
(Start your free trial today! Just click here for details)
Prep Dish has allowed me to save valuable time in the kitchen because I have an easy-to-follow list that lists every detail from the grocery store to the dinner table. It allows my husband and I to eat nutritious, stress-free, tasty meals all week, and it has been perfect for our busy lifestyle!
I encourage you to try them out today!
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at info@rachelking.org. 

Healthy Swaps for your Favorite Summer Foods

Happy Friday, friends! For today’s edition of  Friday Favorites, I would love to introduce you to some of my favorite summer foods!

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Growing up in the South, summer was always a special time of year. Swimming in my grandparents pool, eating lots of grilled hamburgers topped with tomatoes straight out of the garden followed by homemade ice cream, and catching lightening bugs in the late afternoon are some of my fondest memories. When I made the decision to get healthier and change my eating habits, I did not want to miss out on the fun times by not being able to eat all of the yummy summer dishes. Thankfully, there are healthy versions of all of the foods I grew up on, and they are still just as delicious!

To download your copy of my 5 Healthy Swaps for you Favorite Summer Foods e-book, just click the link below!

5 Summer Swaps

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10 Years Later: A Time of Reflection

My ten year high school class reunion will be held on Saturday. THIS Saturday. Wow, how time flies…

10 Year Transformation

Although I won’t be attending the reunion, the mere thought that it’s actually occurring made me begin thinking of just how much has happened in those short ten years:

  • I went to college and after FINALLY deciding on a major graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • I met some of my very best friends
  • I finally got rid of those 90s bangs…
  • …and clothes…
  • I have a career and work with a fantastic group of people
  • I bought my first car
  • I bought my first house
  • I lost 45 pounds and grew to love fitness so much that I became a health coach
  • I am engaged to a wonderful man who truly is better half, and I get the privilege of marrying him in September 🙂
  • I found out that I get to add “Aunt Rachel” to my title this fall!
  • I have learned that “success” is defined in many ways and I continue to strive for it daily in everything I do

Life is just beginning. Sure, it seems like an eternity and just yesterday all at the same time that I walked across that stage in May 2006 and received my diploma, but the truth of the matter is that life has truly just begun. Reflecting back on these ten years makes me realize how precious time really is and that we should not waste a second of it. So my question to you today is this: “Are you spending your time doing the things that matter?” Will you look back ten years from now and wish you had done things differently? I challenge you to stop to take a moment and be honest with yourself. Are you being intentional with your time, or are you just getting by? These ten years have gone by in the blink of an eye.  I can only imagine that the next ten will go by even faster.

And by then, I can only imagine what items will be added to the list! 😉

Stress Management: Tips to Reduce and Manage Stress

To say that I have been a little stressed over the past few months would be an understatement. Between planning a wedding, getting prepared to move, working two jobs, keeping up with the constant housework, and trying to squeeze in time with my loved ones has left me feeling stretched a little thin.

It is during these times that it’s so important to step back and remember that this season will pass soon enough, and I need to enjoy these moments because I will never get them back. Yes, it is busy and chaotic and STRESSFUL, but learning how to manage the stress is key to finding some balance through the busy! Today, I want to focus on my top stress management tips.

 

  1. Get moving!

Exercise releases endorphins that improve your mood and make you feel better in general. Spending hours at the gym is not the only way to get your body moving. Almost any form of physical activity can help relieve stress and melt away frustration. To experience maximum stress-relieving benefits, you should strive for 30 minutes (or more) a day of active exercise. If this is too much for you, start small and work your way up. Spend 10 minutes doing speed bursts, such as sprints, jump rope, or just chasing after your kids! Once this becomes easy, add a little more time each day. You can also add in little “hacks” throughout the course of the day to sneak in some exercise, such as using the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking your car at the edge of the lot instead of the first available space you see. You will be amazed at the added energy and more positive mind frame you develop!

Once you have incorporated physical activity into your daily lifestyle, try taking on a regular exercise routine. Walking, running, bike riding, swimming, Zumba (or other dance classes), and various aerobic and/or HIIT classes are great choices for beginners. Make sure to pick a routine that you enjoy doing so that you will be sure to stick with it for the long term. If you dread your exercise time each day, you are not helping to manage your stress level. Once you find that “soulmate” workout (for me, it is weight lifting!), you will find that you are more confident, happier, and less stressed overall.

 

  1. Find a support system

I absolutely do not know what I would do without my group! My wonderful circle of family and friends are there to raise my spirits, lift me up when I am down, and speak words of life and encouragement into me when I feel defeated. Sometimes, just having someone to listen to your pain points and problems helps to lighten the load of the burden you have been bearing.

Often times when we are stressed, we find that we isolate ourselves, making stress much worse. Be sure to continue building relationships and stay connected to your support system during these times:

  • Have a girl’s night!
  • Meet for a coffee chat
  • Go see a movie or attend a free concert to get your mind off the matter at hand
  • Call a dear friend
  • Schedule weekly “dates” with your spouse/significant other
  • Try a new fitness/art/dance class

Some of my favorite ways to engage with my “inner circle” is to meet for coffee on a week night with my girls, go out for Mexican food with a best friend, spend quality time with my family, and spend lazy movie nights with my fiancé! 😉

 

  1. Learn how to say “no”

Ok, so I admit – My name is Rachel, and I have a problem saying “no.” I always have. I am one of those “people pleasers” that does my best to be accommodating to everyone and everything and help everyone and on, and on, and on….

Taking on more than you can handle is a guaranteed way to add stress to your life – and can be easily avoided. Know your limits and do not stray from them.  I love to repeat this phrase when I am wondering whether or not it is time to slow down: “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” If you are running on empty, you cannot do anything to the best of your ability. Remove some things off you plate and do not take on more than you can reasonably do at one time. Invest in a planner and schedule out your days. That way, you know exactly how much time you need to do each task and how much time you will have left over in each day. Eliminating the feeling of being overwhelmed will immediately reduce your stress level.

 

  1. “There is a bright side to everything”

My family and friends have heard me say this time and time again, but it is so true. If you look for the bright side in every situation, it makes it much easier to handle. Challenging times will inevitably come our way, but looking for the opportunities for personal development and growth will better equip us when dealing with the same situation in the future. Learn from any mistakes made and move on. Sometimes our choices have nothing to do with the stressful situations in our lives, but we should still take the time to reflect on them and use them as a lesson learned.

 

  1. Take some time for YOU!

As women, we are so concerned with taking care of the people around us, we forget to take time for ourselves. Self-care should be an essential part of our daily lives, especially when we need to alleviate stress. If you are not taking proper care of yourself, you cannot expect to take proper care of anyone else. Schedule your “me” time, even if it is only 10 minutes a day. Go for a walk, take a hot bath, appreciate a warm cup of coffee, watch your favorite TV show, read a chapter of a good book, listen to music – anything that brings you joy and allows you to relax and recharge.

In addition to scheduling your “me” time, make sure that healthy habits are part of your self-care routine. Eat a healthy diet full of real, whole foods and get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

 

I hope you find these tips helpful and you are able to use them to eliminate some stress in your own life! Remember, you only get one life to live – make the most of it!

Unleashing Your True Potential (Part 2): Set Goals

“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” ~ Michelangelo

 

I was never a big fan of setting goals. Oh sure, I would spend New Year’s Day writing out a long list of things that I wanted to accomplish during the course of the year. Then six months later, I would find the list and realize that I had not crossed off one single thing. I guess I never really made goal setting a priority in my life because I assumed I would not reach them and that would make me a failure. But the truth is I was failure for NOT setting goals and sticking to them. I was setting myself up to fall short time and time again by never striving to better myself. I was not motivating myself to live up to my TRUE potential in life. I was fine just standing on the sidelines letting life pass me by.

Until one day. One day, I realized that I am better than a bystander to my own life. It was time to get out and live it. It was time to set some goals. Then it was time to crush them.  And now it’s time for you to do the same.

The most important thing to remember when you sit down to set your goals is to keep in mind that these goals must align with your core values. What are the things that are most important to YOU? Spending more time with your family? Getting out of debt? Being a successful business woman? Whatever goals you set for yourself should be paving the way to accomplishing the things that matter most in your life. It is also imperative to keep in mind that these are your priorities – no one else’s. You will never truly be happy trying to accomplish a life that you are trying to live for someone else.

Keep in mind that your goals should be attainable as well. Set short term goals that will set you up for long term success. Make weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals and sit down to reevaluate them as needed. Are you goals still in line with your priorities? Are you still focused on the things that truly matter? If not, it is time to set new ones.

For me, goal setting has been the key to giving me the drive I needed to succeed. Once I sat down and made a list of the things I needed to accomplish in order to live out my purpose and maximize my true potential, I was filled with motivation to keep going. Once I accomplish one task, I cross it off and move on to another. I keep my list posted where I can see it daily to remind myself that I am striving for something more. I continue to dream big because I know that the possibilities are endless. I may not reach a certain goal within a certain timeframe, but that no longer makes me a failure. It pushes me to try harder, go farther, and unleash my true potential.

I encourage you to sit down sometime this week and write out your list of goals. It is never too late to start becoming who you were meant to be – to reach your TRUE potential.