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Breanna Woods

macaroon bite portion healthy lifestyle

Dear Cassey: How do I ACTUALLY control cravings and eat in moderation?

By | Dear Cassey | One Comment
Dear Cassey,
How do you control cravings to stay on track? How do you eat carbs, sugars, and desserts in moderation, and what does moderation really mean? How do you create an ongoing meal plan without it taking over your life?
Thank You!
Building a Lifestyle
macaroon bite portion healthy lifestyle

Dear Building a Lifestyle,

THANK YOU for asking the questions that so many people are afraid to ask. Fitness experts make it seem so easy: “just eat in moderation…just control your cravings!” But I’ve totally been where you are, reading that advice wondering, BUT HOW?!!!

Guess what? It’s not easy. But give it time and consistency, and it becomes habit.

Let’s start with cravings.

Instead of trying to control them, learn about why you’re having them. Most of the time, cravings happen because:

  • Habit
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Stress
  • Dehydration

It’s really helpful to learn about your body and take note of when you have certain cravings. I’d really recommend grabbing a food journal to help you keep track! When I started doing this, it was kinda life changing.

My favorite thing is to find healthier alternatives for my cravings. Like banana “nice cream” or a mug cake. Both are YUM.  But sometimes I just need the real thing, so I get the real thing! Which brings us to your next question…

Eating in moderation

Soooo what does “moderation” even mean?!

For me, it means eating what I want, without eating to the point where I feel I might explode. I do my best to keep my house full of healthy foods, while keeping the stuff I know I’ll overeat out (most of the time).

If I’m eating pizza, I eat it moderation by having a slice paired with a salad or veggie. If I’m having dessert, I just order a small portion or split it with Sam. If I eat more than I “should,” I don’t worry about it.

Eating in moderating isn’t complicated…even though I know sometimes it seems like it is. All it means is adjusting the portions of your favorite foods so you feel satisfied, but not bloated or like you need a nap :)

And now the last question. I’m gonna throw you a curveball on this one because a healthy meal plan SHOULD take over your life. But not in the way that you think ;)

No, you shouldn’t obsess over your “plan” and what you “should or shouldn’t” eat.

No, you shouldn’t feel like you’re restricting foods or missing out on your faves.

NO, you shouldn’t feel guilty or punish yourself if you indulge.

But YES healthy eating should be a lifestyle.

This is the question that always had me like BUT HOWWWWW?! But I promise it’s easier than it seems!

The best place to start is with everything we just talked about for cravings and eating in moderation. Then, I really REALLLLY recommend using a food journal. It’s the best way to pay attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel. Next, experiment with  foods and recipes. So, try that mug cake recipe and play around with cauliflower rice, or zoodles or adding veggie toppings to your pizza. And have fun with it!

Get into the habit of finding balance at meals. If using an actual meal plan helps you at first, pick one that you see yourself sticking to. That means nothing that makes you feel deprived! After some time and consistency, putting together a meal that’s heavy on the veggies, lean protein and healthy carbs and fat will feel normal and natural…and won’t take much time or planning!

Hopefully this helps! I’m always posting amazing recipes and tricks that I find useful here on the blog, on Instagram and TikTok too!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

The Blogilates July 2020 Workout Calendar!

By | Calendar | 56 Comments

Hey guys!

Have you been back to your gym yet? Do you even miss it?! Even though some of the gyms in LA are starting to open up, I’m still just enjoying working out at home. I’m not going to lie – not having to drive is the BEST part!

Anyway, I’m EXTRA excited for this week because:

  1. We’re starting a new month
  2. There’s a new workout calendar
  3. AND a holiday weekend?! WOOHOO!

That is DEFINITELY a recipe for a great week!

Speaking of the new workout calendar… ARE YOU READY TO SEE?! Let’s gooo! 

When you download the PDF, you’ll find that each video is linked! Just click and it will take you to the YouTube video listed!

Here’s an overview of each day of the July Workout Calendar. Every day has its own target muscle group!

SUNDAY: Abs & Obliques
MONDAY: Total Body
TUESDAY: Booty
WEDNESDAY: Cardio
THURSDAY: Arms & Back
FRIDAY: Recovery
SATURDAY: Lower Body

Do each video once (unless otherwise stated) and check off as you go! Each day will be around 45 min of exercise. If you’ve been loving those new videos every Monday then GET EXCITED because I’m gonna keep those comin’. Go ahead and take a peek at the calendar to see what they are ;)

If you like using Coda, you can get the July calendar there too!

If you’re just getting started or want to ease into working out, my Beginner’s Calendar is a great place to start! It’s a free 4-week program to get you stronger so that you can join in on the monthlies when you are ready.

sugar cubes stacked pink background

Are Sugar Substitutes Actually Healthy? Here Is Everything You Need to Know

By | Diet, Nutrition | 33 Comments

Hey guys!

There are plenty of reasons to eat less sugar, but it’s HARD! It’s hiding in SO MANY THINGS! If you figure out how to avoid it (or at least cut back), then you have to figure out healthy ways to replace it while still satisfying your sweet tooth.

And of course…there are about a bajillion options to choose from. There are sugar substitutes, and then there are natural sweeteners. Some are super processed. Some just taste really gross.

So how do you know what to choose?! One minute honey is in the spotlight, and then all of a sudden honey isn’t healthy. Then, agave nectar is the answer! BUT as soon as you try it, you read that it’s just as bad (or worse) than sugar!

UGH. Sooooo frustrating.

So… I decided to do my own research about sugar substitutes and natural sweeteners to help us all sift through the conflicting advice.

Oh and before we start… I’m NOT saying to cut sugar cold turkey, because who am I to say it’s necessary (or even possible) to avoid all of your favorite sweets forever?!! We gotta keep things realistic! Okay, ready?!

sugar cubes stacked pink background

Stevia

We’ve all seen stevia. But is it really natural and safe?

Natural? Yes. Healthy? Probably…in it’s whole raw form. And that’s where we run into some issues.

The stevia products you see on store shelves are usually refined/blended with other sweeteners. For example, Truvia is technically blended with erythritol (another sweetener we’ll talk about in a sec). Stevia in the Raw packets are a blend of refined stevia and dextrose.

That being said, it’s still a good option if you need a sweetener without the calories, or if you’re trying to control your blood sugar. It’s WAYYYY sweeter than sugar (up to 350 times sweeter….what?!), and might taste a little different than real sugar.

Sucralose

AKA Splenda.

Soooo… sucralose is pretty controversial. It’s an artificial sweetener, meaning it’s chemically made. Most experts promise that it’s safe to use, but the long-term effects of using it are still a little unclear. Although it’s a zero-calorie sweetener, some studies show it can still affect your blood sugar.

It’s still a really popular alternative to sugar that a lot of people love to use for baking.

I think the taste is extremely sweet and there are definitely better (less processed) options out there.

Monk Fruit

This is usually my go-to sugar sub. Since it’s extracted from a fruit, it’s minimally processed. The cool thing about it is that it’s suuuuuper sweet, but it’s sweetness doesn’t come from sugar. It comes from mogrosides, which are antioxidants! When monk fruit is processed to make a sweetener, the glucose and fructose from the fruit are removed, leaving only the super sweet mogrosides with basically no calories.

BUT some monk fruit sweetener products are mixed with other sweeteners – so check the label to be sure the product you get is high quality and pure!

coconut teal background

Coconut Sugar

I see coconut sugar alllll the time for “healthy” baking recipes. It’s important to know that it’s a natural sweetener and NOT a sugar substitute. That basically just means that even though it’s not as refined as white sugar…it’s still sugar.

However. Coconut sugar DOES have a lower glycemic index than white sugar, meaning it won’t raise your blood sugar as quickly. It also has a little inulin which is a type of soluble fiber.

Basically, it might be A LITTLE better than regular sugar, but I still wouldn’t go crazy with it.

Maple Syrup

The story with maple syrup is basically the same of coconut sugar. Sure, it’s natural and better than refined white sugar. And yes, it has some antioxidants and minerals (if you get the pure, unprocessed stuff). But… it’s still sugar and will raise your blood sugar and pack your food with extra calories. It’s a better choice than refined sugar, so I’d say definitely use your favorite high-quality syrup on your pancakes, but go easy on your portions. And…it’s kind of expensive to use a lot of anyways!

honeycomb on a wood background

Honey

So… honey.

I see it ALLLL THE TIME in recipes that are supposed to be “healthy.” And a lot of the time, those recipes are mostly healthy! But here’s the thing. If a recipe contains a half cup of honey, then it’s still going to have a ton of sugar in it.

Just like coconut sugar and maple syrup, honey has some great qualities! It has antioxidants and it’s a great anti-inflammatory food. It might even help prevent allergies if you get your hands on some that’s locally made.

No need to avoid honey completely, just don’t fall for the idea that you can eat as much as you want without it affecting your body basically the same way as refined sugar.

agave plant

Agave Nectar

Agave was a super trendy sugar substitute for awhile. It’s marketed as this super healthy option but did you know…

  • It has more calories than actual sugar?
  • Agave nectar is suuuuuper high in fructose, which is the type of sugar most harmful to the body?
  • It’s really not much healthier than sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
  • It’s made from the same plant used to make tequila (okay – that one was just a fun bonus!)

Agave nectar MIGHT be better for people with diabetes because of its low glycemic index. But overall, it’s not a great alternative to sugar. But marketing REALLY tricked people!

Xylitol & Erythritol 

Xylitol and erythritol are sugar alcohols. They’re usually found in stuff that’s labeled as “sugar-free,” and I see it a lot in protein bars and powders.

Sugar alcohols are a good substitute for sugar because they don’t contain any fructose, have fewer calories than sugar, and don’t affect your blood sugar.

Of course there are some downsides to sugar alcohols – sometimes eating too many can cause some less than ideal symptoms like gas and bloating. Xylitol is also toxic for dogs!

Personally, I don’t love the taste of sugar alcohols. But some people don’t mind!

So…are sugar substitutes healthy? 

Here’s the bottom line:

Sugar substitutes can help you eat less sugar, and natural sweeteners are just a slightly healthier form of added sugar.

My best advice is to choose the least processed sugar substitute and don’t assume that foods with natural sweeteners are automatically healthy. As always, everything is fine in moderation.

What’s your go-to sugar sub? Lemme know in the comments!

zoodles in white bowl with marinara and grilled chicken on skewer

Quick and Easy Zoodles Recipe

By | Diet, Nutrition | 5 Comments

Hey guys!

I’m soooo excited to finally share how I make zoodles (aka zucchini noodles) with you! I eat these ALL THE TIME.

This is the easiest recipe ever. And do they taste good? UM YES! A lot of people assume that zoodles are tasteless, but I promise you that’s not the case with this recipe.

A lot of people also assume that I replace pasta with zoodles because I’m a carb hater. NOPE. I’m actually against the idea that carbs are the enemy and guess what? Zucchini is actually primarily made up of carbs!

The real reason that I love zucchini in place of pasta is because eating pasta doesn’t make me feel good. Same with bread, crackers, rice, and pastries. They just don’t sit well with my stomach. I’m always on a mission to find delicious substitutes that my body will tolerate.

So no. Carbs aren’t evil! Fruits and veggies – some of the healthiest foods we can eat – ARE CARBS. But not all carbs are created equal.

If you are celiac or gluten-intolerant or just looking to sneak in some more veggie portions in your meal, zoodles will be your new best friend!

Just take a look at this beautiful bowl of zoodle deliciousness…

zoodles in white bowl with marinara and grilled chicken on skewer

How to make the best zoodles

Gather your ingredients:

  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Marinara sauce
  • Protein of choice

Annnd get cookin!:

  1. Grab a spiralizer (I use the Veggetti), and spiralize that zucchini! This is actually really fun.
  2. Heat your olive oil over medium heat, then sauteé the zoodles until they’re slightly softened.
  3. Season with salt, stir in some marinara, and top with your choice of protein! I love this with grilled chicken, but it literally goes with ANYTHING. Try ground beef, turkey or tofu!

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

 

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A post shared by Cassey Ho (@blogilates) on

What I love about this zoodle recipe

If you’re wondering if I could talk about food all day….the answer is YES.

Anyways, here’s what I love about this zoodle recipe:

IT TASTES AMAZING – No, zoodles don’t have to taste like sadness. These are reallllllly good.

It’s easy and super quick – Just one pan and a few minutes cooking? I’ll take it.

Veggies galore – This is one of the easiest ways to get your veggies in.

It’s filling – People always ask if I actually feel full when I eat tons of veggies and no processed carbs. And the answer is YES! Veggies are full of fiber and will fill me right up. Combine that with a good serving of protein, and I’m definitely full.

Zoodles go with basically anything – You can serve these with almost anything. I encourage you to play around with seasonings and sauces.

Have you tried this zoodle recipe? I wanna hear what you think in the comments!

rolled white towels

This New Japanese Towel Trick Will Get You Abs in 10 Days – Wait, What?

By | Diet, Nutrition | 26 Comments

Hey guys,

Just as I told you to put down the apple cider vinegar/cayenne/honey mixture, a new weight loss trend started making its rounds on TikTok. Well, technically it’s an old trend that’s circling back.

It’s called the Japanese towel exercise. Heard of it?

Basically, this “weight loss trick” came from a Japanese chiropractor named Toshiki Fukutsudzi, who claimed that belly fat is caused by incorrect placement of the pelvis. Apparently, this exercise fixes pelvic alignment, rearranges internal organs, and slims your belly.

But you guys…I’m skeptical. Like, REALLY skeptical.

rolled white towels

How to do Japanese towel abs

Okay. So here’s how you’re supposed to do the Japanese towel trick:

Step 1. Roll a towel and put it on a flat, hard surface.

Step 2. Lay on the towel so its under your lower back, just behind your belly button. Stretch your arms above your head, palms down and pinkies touching. Your feet should be hip-width, toes touching.

Step 3. Just…lay there for 5 minutes? Every day. Umm.. what?

And then see magical results in a month?  (Some TikToks even say 10 days)

@blogilates##duet with @tiabagha Fake fitness advice has a way of going viral on TikTok and I’m not happy about it. ##fitgirl ##healthygirl ##pilates ##fitness ##abs♬ carrieberkk ab workout – carrieberkk

Does it really work?

Sorry…but probably not.

Let me ask you this: If laying on a towel for 5 minutes every day realllllllly made people lose weight, don’t you think everyone would already be doing it? Trust me, I’d be like SIGN ME UP.

However.

I know A LOT about exercise and the body…and I’m thinking that this is just more fake fitness advice floating around the internet. It’s as simple as knowing that to burn fat, you have to burn calories and to strengthen your core, you have to do more than awkwardly lay down for 5 minutes.

But I will say that this stretch might not be a complete waste of time. YES I said stretch. Because that’s all it really is.

If you’re someone who sits a lot, has really right hips or shoulders, or even a sore back, this stretch might be really helpful for your alignment. Stretching your spine can help your posture, which could help you APPEAR a little more slim because you won’t be as likely to slouch!

So… I guess Dr. Fukutsudzi was onto something… just not the weight loss part.

And I can tell you that I’ve done a similar stretch using a yoga block instead of a towel and it does feel amazing. So try it! … but you don’t have to lay there for 5 minutes every day to feel the benefits :)

Here’s how you CAN use a towel in your workouts

Laying on a towel might not give you the abs of your dreams, but a towel is actually a really great tool for home workouts!

For stretching: If you don’t have a yoga strap, a towel is a great substitute to help with hard to reach stretches!

For abs: Ooooh this one BURNS. Use a towel (or two) as sliders while in plank position to do pike ups or to work your obliques.

For legs: Another burner. Do sliding side squats with a towel under one foot. Or, really fire up that leg and slide the same leg slightly behind you and forward again. These work your balance too, so it doubles as a sneaky core workout!

And if you are looking to lose weight…

Remember it comes down to eating well, staying hydrated, and exercising often. You can strengthen your core, but you can’t spot-reduce fat. No magical tricks or crazy diets, here!

What do you think of this new trend? I wanna hear your thoughts below!

Bloated? This Is What Is Happening to Your Body – and How to Fix It

By | Body Image, Diet, Nutrition | 32 Comments

Hey Guys!

Let’s talk about food babies, shall we?

You know… that dreaded food baby that happens thanks to BLOATING. We’ve all had it, right?! And we laugh and call it a food baby when really, it’s uncomfortable to even laugh because let’s be real, bloating hurts!

IDK about you, but when I’m bloated I just don’t feel my best. My clothes feel like they fit really weird and I feel sluggish. It can be really frustrating and hard to ignore. I just want to get rid of it ASAP.

Turns out, there’s actually more to bloating than you might think! Maybe I’m a little nerdy, but it’s actually a really interesting process! I did some digging for us so we can learn what’s up with bloating, and how we can push past the food baby and get back to feeling our best!

You ready?! Let’s deep dive!

First things first…what is bloat?

Ok so you know what bloat feels like…but do you ever wonder what’s going on in there?

I want you to touch your stomach right now. Nope, that’s not your stomach. Move your hand up to your diaphragm/rib cage area. THAT’s your stomach. Your stomach actually rests right below your chest and sternum! So if you’re imagining your stomach is full of too much food when you’re bloated, that’s not necessarily true! It doesn’t really have anything to do with your stomach! 🤯

The area we usually think of as our “stomach” is actually where our intestines are. They absorb a ton of nutrients from our food before they get rid of the waste. When they’re working to digest food, they can actually expand! Then, when they pull in water to help push out the waste… Bam. Bloat.

Pretty much what that means is that some bloating is normal and EVERYONE deals with it. But what about the uncomfortable, gotta lay down kind of bloat? Keep on reading!

What is making me bloat?

So water and air in the intestines = bloat. But there are some things that just make our intestines go a little extra when they digest food.

  • Swallowing air from drinking through a straw or chewing gum
  • Eating too fast – Because you swallow air!
  • Eating too much – We’ve all felt this one.
  • Eating fatty foods – Hiii pizza. 
  • Eating foods that create gas in the intestines (🎶beans, beans 🎶 … you know the rest!)
  • Constipation

Some medical conditions like lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) are known to cause bloating too. These conditions just make it harder for the body to digest certain foods.

Ok…but why do I bloat sometimes even when I’m eating healthy foods?! 

Isn’t that THE WORST?

You can totally feel a little bloated after a healthy meal. But no worries! If you know ahead of time what these foods are, there are some things you can do to keep things from getting out of control. And just like everything else, everyone is different! The foods that make me bloat like crazy might not affect you at all.

The more “obvious” bloat foods:

  • Greasy, fatty foods
  • Artificial sweeteners (look for sorbitol on the food label)
  • Carbonated beverages (air!) 
  • Dairy
  • Salty foods and processed foods high in sodium (canned soup, frozen foods, etc)

Annnnd the not so obvious, sneaky bloat foods:

  • Raw, cruciferous veggies – like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and onions
  • Some fruits like apricots, apples, peaches, pears and prunes
  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole grains

So why do these foods cause bloat? Well, they’re crazy high in fiber which is GREAT for your body, but takes a little more effort for your intestines to digest. These foods produce more gas and usually draw in more water. So they make you bloat. Also keep in mind that eating too fast can make you feel bloated, no matter what you’re eating!

Let’s talk about belly fat for a sec…

Belly fat is a different (and more permanent) story. First of all, you don’t need to stress about putting on belly fat after one indulgent meal. Belly fat shows up when you’re eating more calories than you’re burning over time. In other words, you’re not gonna put on 5lb of belly fat overnight.

Unhealthy habits like eating a ton of sugar, not exercising, lack of sleep and genetics can cause excess belly fat too. Although it’s suuuper rare to put on weight in your belly alone (you’ll probably notice weight gain all over), having that excess fat around your belly is actually dangerous for your organs.

How do I know if it’s bloat or belly fat?

Ok so let’s say your jeans suddenly don’t fit. Is it bloat or belly fat?! There are some easy ways to figure out the difference.

  • Is my belly suddenly bigger than it was a day or two ago? Probably bloat.
  • Did I just eat? Bloat.
  • Does my tummy slim back down the next morning? Bloat
  • When did I last go to the bathroom? If it’s been a day or two… it’s probably bloat.
  • Is it that time of the month? Bloat.
  • Am I dehydrated? Bloat.

Basically, it’s probably just bloat unless you’ve noticed some changes all over your body. If your lifestyle has changed and your diet is off, or you’re not exercising as much, it could be belly fat.

Getting rid of bloat

Well now that we know what causes bloat, how do we get rid of it?!

First, try to prevent it!  The best way to do this is to just avoid or eat less of the foods that make you bloat. Like I said before, everyone is different so it might take some trial and error to figure out what foods give you trouble. This is where my love for food journaling comes in!

You can also try…

  • Eating more slowly, chewing more, or eating smaller more frequent meals.
  • Deep breathing to stimulate the digestive tract and relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Sipping on a warm beverage if you’re constipated. Caffeine may help too!
  • Strengthen your core

Of course, if you’re dealing with chronic bloating or other issues, ask your doctor for more help.

Getting rid of belly fat

Getting rid of belly fat is doable with the right amount of work and time.

  • Exercise – aerobic (think cardio) is the best for fat burning! You can start by going on a walk every day, or check out some of the Blogilates cardio videos. When you’re ready to ramp it up, doing some high intensity interval training (HIIT) or PIIT28 will REALLY burn fat.
  • Adjust your diet –  It’s most important to avoid eating more calories than you’re burning. Try to eat more fiber, fewer carbs, and drink lots of water! Avoid the sugary and processed stuff.
  • Sleep matters too! Getting 7 or 8 hours might sound impossible, but it really does make a huge difference for your body! This is something I can definitely work on too.

Above all else, remember this 

Love your body on all days, whether your abs are looking FIRE or your tummy is a little puffy from bloat. If you need to make some changes to feel better, go for it! But know that nobody’s body looks perfect every day.

What are your “problem foods” when it comes to bloating?! Tell me in the comments!

Lizzo’s Message To Body Shamers Made My Mouth Drop

By | Body Image | 30 Comments

Hey Guys!

Pleaassseee tell me you follow Lizzo on TikTok.

She has been straight up KILLING IT! She’s always radiated body positivity, self-love and confidence, but wow. Her recent posts have taken that vibe to a whole new level.

Lately, she’s been posting clips of her workouts and some amazing, healthy recipes that literally ANYONE can make. Her posts are always light, fun and inspiring.

And can we talk about her garden?! GOALS.

@lizzo🤖 Quarantine has turned me into Betty motherfuckin crocker so welcome to my cooking show♬ Hot – The Last Artful, Dodgr

But the best part is her attitude about a healthy lifestyle. She’s VERY clear that she’s doing this for herself and no one else. She repeatedly says that when she works out, she does what feels good. And when she cooks, she adds ingredients that sound good. No stress.

It honestly feels like something your bestie would text you like, “hey… not sure what to call this but it’s GOOD.”

But last week… Lizzo DID IT. She got on TikTok and served up more than another healthy dish. She served up the TRUTH.

Check this out:

@lizzoif you’re not a fat shamer… keep scrolling… ok now that all the fat shamers are here 🧚🏾‍♀️✨♬ Buttercup – Jack Stauber

YESSSSSSSSSS. So much yes. 

This post alone has 14.5 MILLION views as of now. I hope all of those views got the message.

Because she is SO RIGHT. Working out isn’t always about changing the way you look. And sometimes, it DOESN’T change the way you look in a drastic way. So we need to STOP assuming that no weight loss means the person isn’t working hard enough or doing the right things.

To put it simply – weight loss is not the only measure of progress.

Read that again.

YES. Believe it or not, weight doesn’t always reflect fitness. And sometimes people workout for other reasons…like mental health.

Speaking of bullying about weight, she also shared this, which literally made my jaw drop.

@lizzoOh u mean the next million dollar dealin, cover of Vogue havin, 3x Grammy award winning, icon, actress, activist, w a perfect ass?♬ original sound – uploads_of_fun

Make sure you don’t miss the caption on that one, because it’s a slam dunk.

Also…Who is out there body shaming KIDS anyways? LIKE WHAT?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Not okay. EVER.

If you were wondering how to respond to body shaming… that was it. If you’re wondering if you SHOULD respond to body shaming. The answer is YES. This is something we can’t be quiet about. It’s bullying and nobody should tolerate or encourage it.

I’m so happy Lizzo and others are using their platforms to shut it down. And remember, you don’t need to have a platform to step up and set a good example for others.

So what’s the moral of the story?

Enjoy the Journey

This whole fitness/healthy lifestyle thing… it doesn’t have to be so serious! Lizzo has that figured out.

She works out because it feels good. She cooks and eats food that she enjoys, and knows what foods make her feel best. You won’t catch her trying to force her body to look like someone else’s. She is doing what SHE wants.

Say NO to Body Shaming

Whether we’re on the receiving end or the ones unintentionally doling it out, remember that we never know a person’s full story. Everyone’s journey is allowed to be and should be, different from our own.

Let’s continue to support and uplift each other no matter what! Okay?!

light match fire motivation

Dear Cassey: Is it healthy to use anger and revenge as motivation to workout?

By | Dear Cassey | 15 Comments
Dear Cassey,
While exercising and eating healthy genuinely bring me a lot of happiness and joy, I find that sometimes my motivations aren’t always positive. Most of the time I’m thinking about my health and how good it makes me feel – but sometimes I find thoughts of anger and revenge help to push me farther than normal.
Just imagining the look on my cheating ex’s face when he realizes what he missed out on can get me to finish an extra half mile on the treadmill!
Is it unhealthy to think this way or is it just a normal thing everyone experiences?
Signed,
Raging Runner
light match fire motivation

Dear Raging Runner,

I’d be lying to you if I said I’ve never done this.

In my opinion, it’s normal! I mean, to really dig deep and get in the zone, you have to find motivation somewhere! For some people it’s music with a killer beat, for others it’s competition, and for some of us, it’s taking out our anger on the treadmill.

If what you’re angry about still bothers you, it’s probably giving you extra (negative) energy anyways. Gotta burn that off somewhere, right?! Might as well be productive about it :)

Working out is therapeutic for that reason. It’s an outlet and stress reliever like NO OTHER. So when you’re using those thoughts of revenge or anger as motivation to push harder, you’re also releasing those feelings. And all of us need to do that every now and again. ESPECIALLY if you’ve been through something like a bad breakup. That stuff seriously weighs you down otherwise.

Now…OBVIOUSLY I wouldn’t recommend digging up those negative feelings every time you workout. Constantly being in that state of mind isn’t great for your mental health. I think it would be really easy to become dependent on that anger, which can be very emotionally draining.

Here’s my two cents: your workout is a great place to unload heavy feelings. Definitely use your feelings if it pushes you during a workout… but only if you still come out feeling great and positive in the end. DON’T use feelings to cover up bigger issues in your life. And NEVER EVER dig up those feelings if they turn into negative self-talk (what did I do wrong, etc.) Nope. None of that.

You could also try putting a more positive twist on these feelings. Like, instead of “just wait until he sees what he’s missing,” think “ummm who knew I could be so STRONG” or “WHOA I came out of this happier and more motivated than ever.” Seeing the way a bad situation actually changed your life for the better is some of the best motivation out there. Use it.

Thank you for this question! I hope this helps. It really is something I think most of us have done, and now I’ll be paying more attention to what I use the most to fire up that extra motivation.

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

ice cream sundae with sprinkles blue background chocolate sauce

Craving Sweets On Your Period? Here’s Why – and What to Do About It

By | Diet, Nutrition | 62 Comments

Hey guys,

It seems like some months I’m cruising right along, sticking to a healthy diet and BAM I’m hit with intense cravings for junk food right before my period.

Does that ever happen to you?! What’s up with that?

Well, it sounds like we can blame it on those lovely hormones (as usual). Let’s learn more, shall we?

ice cream sundae with sprinkles blue background chocolate sauce

Estrogen and progesterone make you crave carbs

It’s not all in your head. Your body really DOES crave carbs around your period. It’s the changes in progesterone and estrogen that trigger the biggest changes in your body during this time, and with that hormonal swing comes an intense craving for high carb foods and sweets.

But junk food can also make you feel better

You know how you’re suddenly alllll in your feelings before your period? Again, that’s your hormones.

But junk food like refined carbs and chocolate literally fix your feelings (at least temporarily).

When you eat these foods, your brain releases serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy. Your brain remembers how much better that ice cream made you feel, and you crave it next time you’re feeling sad or stressed.

cupcake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles pink background

How to indulge without feeling blah

So is it okay to indulge when a period craving strikes?

YES

Your body might be craving that food for a specific reason, and if you try to resist you might end up bingeing on it later. Or, you’ll graze all day on other foods trying to satisfy the craving.

However, I know that my body will react if I eat the foods I usually crave like ice cream, cereal or pizza. Sooo how do we indulge without feeling bloated and miserable later?

First, I try to find a healthier alternative for what I’m craving. For example, if I’m craving ice cream, I go for a dairy-free option with less sugar. If I’m craving pizza, I go for cauliflower crust with some veggie toppings.

But I know in real life, those things don’t always cut it. There are times when I need the real thing, so I eat it! I just don’t overdo it. A small serving will cure my cravings, without any regrets later.

So here’s the takeaway:

Cravings before or during your period are NORMAL. Indulging a little to satisfy your cravings is NORMAL. It doesn’t mean you lack self-control, or that you have to “punish” yourself with less food or more exercise the next day. Indulging in a craving is just listening to your body! But the trick is to find ways to eat the foods you crave without overdoing it.

Tell me about some foods that you just can’t resist during your period!

Dear Cassey: How do I deal with my unsupportive spouse?

By | Dear Cassey | 27 Comments
Dear Cassey,
My husband is unsupportive of my fitness goals. He makes fun of me and tells me I’m obsessive, that I’m going to look like a man, and that I look better chubby. Advice please.
Thank you!
Over the Negativity

Dear Over the Negativity,

Not. Cool.

Sounds like it’s time to sit down and have a serious heart-to-heart with your husband.

I think this happens with family and spouses more often than you’d think, and it comes down to fear. Change is scary and intimidating. Is he afraid that if you change it will affect him or your relationship? Is he self-conscious about his OWN body? Don’t settle for a shoulder shrug or a “just because” reason why your fitness goals bother him. What is it that seems obsessive to him about your goals? Encourage him to communicate with you. If he has concerns, make sure you’re willing to listen. Get to the bottom of it.

What’s NOT okay is for him to shame your goals and project his worries on you. MAKE SURE YOU TALK ABOUT THIS! It’s possible that he doesn’t even realize how hurtful his comments are, so just be open and honest. Tell him why fitness is important to you, what your goals are, and how his comments are influencing those goals.

Oh and pleaasseee educate him about the fact that working out WILL NOT make you “bulk up” or look manly.

Basically, communicate, communicate, communicate.

If he’s unwilling to open up at first, give him time. Keep going with YOUR goals and trust that in time, he’ll see the good in your intentions. He’ll see how your hard work is paying off with your mood, energy and health. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll inspire him too!

In the meantime, it’s ok to find support elsewhere. Just like you are right now! There’s nothing but love and support in this community!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

Craving Certain Foods? This Is What Your Body Is Trying To Tell You

By | Diet, Nutrition | 40 Comments

Hey guys,

Why is it soooo hard to resist a strong food craving?! There are days where I’m fine eating my meal prepped meals but then there are other days where I want nothing but crunchy chips or sweet treats. It made me wonder… are cravings really as evil as they seem, or is there some science behind them?

It turns out…

YES. There is science behind it!

Sometimes we crave certain foods when our bodies need something. In other words, cravings are one way our bodies communicate with us. Pretty cool!

Here are some common food cravings and what they might mean.

Craving sweets? 

I mean, I crave sweets all the time but I can think of two times when my cravings get SUPER intense: when I’m emotional and when my period is about to hit.

Turns out there’s a reason why!

Emotions trigger strong cravings because your body literally “craves” comfort. Sugar in particular triggers the “reward center” in the brain, which makes you more likely to crave sugar whenever you need to feel better.

Your body also has more cravings when your hormones are out of balance, which is exactly what happens around your period.

Maybe you NEED chocolate specifically

Of course you could crave chocolate for the same reasons you crave sweets. BUT some experts wonder if craving chocolate might indicate a magnesium deficiency. Oh and there’s more – low magnesium can impact your mood! So if you notice you’ve been down and you’re suddenly hit with a chocolate craving, it’s possible that you’re low on magnesium.

Your body needs more magnesium when you’re on your period, so definitely pay attention during this time!

To tackle this craving without overeating the Ghiradelli, go for other magnesium-rich foods like bananas and leafy greens.

Orrrrr something with a good crunch

We’ve allllll been there, hopelessly staring into the pantry wishing we had something crunchy to snack on. UGH! Why is crunchiness so satisfying sometimes?!

Well…you might be stressed or frustrated!

YES! Chewing on something crunchy helps you release some tension that might be building in your body. Hmm so maybe that’s why once you start eating a bag of chips, it’s almost impossible to stop!

If you’re avoiding that, try munching on some crunchy veggies or make your own baked apple or sweet potato chips. YUM.

If you’re dying to get your hands on something salty…

Yessss sometimes I just need pickles, popcorn, or anything salty.

If you’re the same way, you might be dehydrated or your electrolytes could be out of whack. You’re most likely to get hit with a craving for something salty after a workout, when you’ve been outside a lot on a hot day, or when you’re not on your water game.

So drink up, and see if that helps!

When you’re hit with a caffeine craving

If you’re craving a latte, chai tea or maybe a soda, there might be more to it than just loving the taste.

We tend to crave caffeine whenever we need some kind of “pick me up,”  So you might notice a strong craving if you’re feeling drained from stress, you’re not getting enough sleep, or you just hit that mid-afternoon slump.

Craving caffeine can also mean you’re dehydrated! Not drinking enough water can make you feel super sluggish, which might trick you into thinking you need caffeine for a little energy boost.

If you want to save money and calories, try drinking more water or see if a quick workout might boost your energy a bit.

If you’re craving a juicy steak…

Craving red meat might mean your body needs more iron, zinc or vitamin B12 – especially if this craving is a little unusual for you.

If you’re also looking a little pale, feeling tired or weak, or having other symptoms of anemia, it might be a good idea to have your Dr. check your iron levels. Also, it’s possible for your iron levels to dip just a little when you’re on your period, because you’re losing blood. So you might notice that you crave more burgers and steaks around this time!

Most of the time, cravings stem from habit. 

However, it’s totally possible that your cravings mean that your body is trying to tell you something.

If you’re dealing with cravings, remember that it’s not always bad to give in! Sometimes resisting just makes the craving stronger. So listen to your body and don’t guilt yourself for eating the foods you crave in moderation.

What kind of foods do you find yourself craving the most often?!

52 Things You Can Do Right Now To Support #BlackLivesMatter

By | Life | 24 Comments

Hey guys!

The hate and blatant racism I’m seeing on social media this week alone is breaking my heart. It’s 2020 and my black friends are STILL getting racist messages. I’m getting nasty messages for simply showing my support for #blacklivesmatter. I’m sick of it.

I’m tired of sitting around waiting for the world to change. I’m done being in denial that not being racist is enough.

It’s not enough.

We must be actively anti-racist. It’s time to educate ourselves and get familiar with the reality that the black community lives with every single day. We will never fully understand…. I know we won’t. But we can open our minds and we can spread knowledge to support people of color the best we can.

I know it’s hard to know exactly where to start, so my team put together some resources to help. Commit to using some of these resources and sharing them with others. Spark healthy discussions with what you learn and start opening the hearts of others. This is how we do better.

Donate

Read

Listen

Watch

13th — Netflix

American Son — Netflix

Blindspotting — Hulu with Cinemax

Clemency — Available to rent

Dear White People — Netflix

Fruitvale Station — Available to rent

If Beale Street Could Talk — Hulu

Just Mercy — Rent for free in June in the U.S.

King In The Wilderness — HBO

See You Yesterday — Netflix

The Hate U Give — Hulu with Cinemax

When They See Us — Netflix

Take Action

Be ready to do the work — educate yourself about on going racial injustices.

Focus on the narrative — do not center it around you. Educate those around you — continue to share & repost resources.

Choose action rather than inaction.

Be an ally – correct racist conversations you may hear among family or friends. Discuss why it is wrong.

Check in on your black friends, family & colleagues. Don’t condemn those who may be late to the conversation, invite them to join.

Continue to support — be an ally for the rest of your life, even after the outrage.

I’m committing to continued learning, so feel free to share more resources you love in the comments!