Make Yourself a NOT To Do List

Recently, I was challenged to do a task that I knew wasn’t going to be helpful to me. It was a generic call out to a group. I thought through the reason that challenge was being given and then politely said, I wasn’t going to participate. I found a great coach who instead congratulated me on not doing the challenge.

I thought about how we all have this long list of to-dos that cause us angst as we struggle to check them off. It felt good to know I had some things already settled. I have some things in my daily routine that already help me.

What would be on your list of things NOT to-do?

For me, I shouldn't combine too many outside activities into one week. I can handle one outside- the- norm appointment without going a bit wacky each week. In my schedule, one doctor appointment or one speaking engagement a week, one out of office visit, or one trip to visit with a friend is comfortable. Trying to add more than just one thing can make me a bit bonkers.

For me, I shouldn't try to stay up past 10. I just shouldn't do that. I fall asleep any way so I don't enjoy whatever I am trying to enjoy.

For me, I shouldn't try to put my vitamins away in the cupboard. I need the constant reminder of them being on my counter in order for me to take them each day.

For me, I shouldn't make three new recipes in one day. I just don't have that extra time to spend in the kitchen.

For me, I shouldn't go to the grocery store while I am hungry. I am tempted just like most people by the wonderful smells coming from the bakery or the lure of chocolate at the checkout line.

What should be on your NOT to-do list?

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

It’s Time to Give Your Kitchen a Makeover

I use a simple system of red, yellow, and green lights to get our transformation started. Red light is food you’ll want to take out and not let back into your kitchen. Yellow lights are food that you might have questions on or that you know are not quite great but not quite labeled junk food – yet. Green light foods are those that you have been proven healthy for you. Green light foods don’t cause your system aggravation and unwanted side effects. They are foods that your body loves to have on your plate for health reason. Can you say zucchini and broccoli?

As each door of the cupboard, pantry, fridge, and freezer opens, take each food item out to examine under the Red, Yellow, or Green light.

Step 1: Red light = junk foods. Terminate.

Let’s start with your list of the obvious “red lights” from your fridge and pantry. This could include things like:

  • Chips
  • Cheese crackers
  • Chocolates or candy
  • Soda/sweetened drinks
  • Instant foods like cake mixes and mashed potatoes
  • Margarine and other processed fats
  • Most frozen dinners
  • Most take out or restaurant leftovers
  • Bowls of candy or other snacks sitting around
  • Flavored nuts (i.e. beer nuts)

But please make your own list.

Step 2: Yellow light = trick foods. Triage.

Trick foods are foods that seem healthy but aren't. They’ve gone from something good (whole, minimally processed food) to something that a machine has put out, full of sugar and chemicals, and/or something that’s had all its original nutrients stripped out. It could also be items that you have in your cupboard for other family members that seem to trip you up. Consider minimizing and/or eliminating these:

  • Sweetened yogurt and frozen yogurt
  • Breads and bagels
  • Other baked goods
  • Most breakfast cereals
  • Crackers, even the whole grain ones
  • Granola bars
  • Regular peanut butter
  • Fruit juice nad sweetened dried fruits
  • "Healthy" junk food (i.e. "organic" cookies, baked potato chips, etc.)
  • Alcohol is negotiable - many people keep it on hand for social events but don't often drink it; other folks will drink it if it's there

This is a list you are going to work through. Right now it is giving you something to think about.

Step 3: Check for stuff you might not have thought of yet.

This is even more challenging than the so-called “healthier” foods in the “trick food” list, because you don’t think about these things being a problem… or think about them at all. (How much time do you spend thinking about BBQ sauce, anyway?) Most of these just pass under our radar, until we read the labels and discover that they’re sugar and chemical bombs. Or just not “food” at all. This includes:

  • Condiments
  • Relishes, mustards and ketchup
  • Salad dressings
  • Bread crumbs, croutons, and other dried bread products
  • Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats
  • Spreads such as cheese whiz or sweetened cream cheeses

Again, you don’t have to throw out everything. It’s not an all-or-none process. Just make sure yellow-light foods know they’re on notice and have to earn their rent.

Your red/yellow/green light items could be as simple as putting foods in these categories. For instance:

  • Does this food come in a bag, box or plastic package?
    Red light
  • Does it have only a couple of ingredients on the label?
    Green light
  • Can you pronounce all of those ingredients?
    Yellow light
  • How far away is this food from what it used to be? And do you even know what it used to be?
    Yellow light
  • Is this food perishable?
    Green light (just about anything good for you goes bad quickly)

Step 4: Green lighting the kitchen.

Let's work on forming the "green light/wanted foods" list to help you restock the kitchen.

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh veggies
  • Eggs
  • Canned tuna/salmon/chicken
  • Nuts/seeds
  • All the wonderful cuts of meat you buy at the meat market

Step 5: Now its time to get to work.

Option 1: Throw out (or give away) any and all red light foods.

OR

Option 2: Take all the food that is not going to support your health and put it in ONE specific cupboard. Preferably out of the kitchen, maybe even in the basement. If you are looking in your refrigerator, move those red and yellow items into the produce drawer. Why not bring all those wonderful veggies to a fridge shelf where you can see them? Out of sight out of mind should be a slogan when you are dealing with family member’s food. Try to make it as difficult for you to see and eat.

Now you have it - a simple plan of addressing the food in your kitchen. Red lights you get rid of or make it difficult to see. Yellow lighted foods are put on stand by, maybe even taken out until you know which direction they really belong. Green light foods should be easy to see and easy to reach for. They are what stand out most when your kitchen is made over. By keeping food that will help your nutrition grow in plain sight, you are making it easier for yourself to eat in health supportive way.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Egg Roll in a Bowl

We did S3 a few years ago and I acquired a few recipes from my team. I just had to share them again with you. They transport easily. They can be eaten hot out of the pan or served chilled. They work at a pot luck because they both make so much. This is here one of my all-time favorite recipes.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

by Coach Nancy

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package coleslaw mix
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1-2 teaspoons rice vinegar

Cook ground beef in a skillet until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan leaving the drippings. Add celery, onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until cooked and softened. Add coleslaw mix and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Mix ground beef back in. Add the ginger, coconut aminos, and rice vinegar. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes and it is ready!

Tips for Healthy Eating While Dining Out

The Western diet of fast food, pour from a can or out of a box, heat and serve, grab and go is slowly killing us. All of those choices are of little value to your body’s health. They come at a high price in calories but in exchange for low nutritional value.

The term “Fast Food” is commonly associated with hamburgers, greasy French fries, and cola. However, popular family restaurant menu items can be ordered “to go” without waiting for their preparation or standing in a long line. You can even pay with a credit card over the phone if you’re in a real hurry. But, fast food does not have to be high-calorie and a low nutritional food choice.

Tips to help you choose well:

  • Know that an average fast-food meal can run as high as 1800 calories or more.
  • Know the nutritional value of the foods you order. Sometimes “good choices”, are higher in the nutrients or calories. Fat-free or low-fat items are usually higher in sugar and salt.
  • If you're having fast-food for one meal, make all the other meals that day contain the right portion of lean protein, produce, and healthy fats.
  • Know how your food is cooked. Chicken and fish can be good choices - but not if they are breaded and deep fried.
  • Avoid jumbo, giant, deluxe, biggie-sized or super-sized. Larger portions mean more calories, fat, sugar and salt.

When Dining Out...

Tempting menus, extra-large portions and festive atmospheres make it easy to overlook supportive eating. You'll begin to pack on pounds if you make poor choices a habit. It is possible to enjoy yourself and still make supportive choices. Following a few simple rules when eating out can make it possible to maintain your nutrition plan.

  1. Order food to go – Studies show that people tend to consume more food when they are not eating at their own kitchen tables. Take home and have the option of providing a healthier side dish such as fruit or vegetables.
  2. KNOW where you will go and what you will eat ahead of time.
  3. Avoid buffets – they are invitations to OVEREATING.
  4. CHOOSE wisely - use the guidelines of Supportive Menu Design.
  5. Ask the server not to bring the bread basket.
  6. ASK how food is prepared – ask for baked, broiled, roasted, poached or steamed.
  7. Don't be afraid to special order – ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces.
  8. Watch portion size – servings can be 3-5 times more than what you need. Pack half your meal to-go before starting.
  9. Split a meal with a friend. You’ll avoid the temptation to overeat.
  10. WATER - drink at least one full-glass of water before eating. You'll feel full sooner, you will eat less.
  11. Order an appetizer and a salad as your meal.
  12. Front load your meal with a nutritious salad or bowl of soup to take the edge off your appetite.
  13. Order sauce and dressing on the side – control calories and enjoy the taste.
  14. Order first. You're less likely to be influenced by the choices of your companions.
  15. Eat Slowly. Savor the flavors and textures of your food, and enjoy the company you're with. When you eat slowly, you give your body's internal clock the time it needs to know when you've had enough. Remember the hunger scale.
  16. Save dessert for later – a great trick to play is instead of ordering dessert at a restaurant, go somewhere else. By the time you get there, you will not be as hungry and will end up eating half or even skipping dessert entirely.

You can dine out while remaining true to your goals. The key is always to plan ahead, choose wisely and you'll find foods that fit into your meal plan.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Create your perfect meal with the simple 5-step guide [Infographic]

Meal Combos limited only by your imagination

by Dean Carlson


When it comes down to it, who wants to really think about their food as "carbs, protein, and fats"? We just want great tasting food, and we want to make it as simply as possible. This guide is just what you have been looking for!


There are no secrets to getting and staying lean, feeling good, and building healthy eating habits for a lifetime. 

But there are strategies.

And maybe the most important strategy is to keep things simple. 

But don't confuse simple...with boring.

All-star chef Jennifer Nickle created this amazing tool that helps you build amazing meals that pack in maximum flavor with minimum effort.

Introducing the Perfect Meal cheat sheet.

Following the simple steps in this infographic, you'll be able to mix and match ingredients and flavors to create literally hundreds if not thousands of easy, healthy and delicious meals.

Download the infographic and print it out. Putting it in a binder keeps it handy in the kitchen and easy to carry to the grocery store. And don't be shy about passing it to your friends. Serious points!

Again, don't forget to download the PDF of this amazing "cheat sheet" so you have it handy next time you want to create the perfect meal.

Learn even more healthy eating strategies.

In ProCoach Nutrition Coaching, we give men and women just like you the strategies and support they have been missing to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. 

Over the course of 12 months, they build the skills and habits that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

One of the biggest complaints we hear about nutrition and fitness is that is just too confusing. And while it can be, once you get the personalized attention from an expert coach, the path becomes clearer and the journey easier.

Say Goodbye to the Old You

Here’s an experiment I want you to do. Write a letter to you, the old you, the you that is sabotaging your efforts to become better. The new you is struggling. Old habits and behaviors die hard, but it is time for them to go. Take some time to visualize what you’re going to say and why you’ll say it. It may be "go away". It may be "thank you". It may be "I love you and I'm sorry".

Remember that Old You probably had some reason to be there. Be gentle and loving, but firm and say goodbye.

I challenged a dear friend to do just that. See if you recognize yourself in her letter. Then take time to write your own good bye letter.

"Dear New Self,

I want my old self back, or at least a majority of her. I want the glass half-full outlook back. I miss looking upon any challenge and knowing I could figure it out if given time. I am not sure why this outlook slowly changed, but over the past few years it has. I know this approach to challenges may require more effort and time, and that it may seem better to walk away and give up without really trying. I don't want to waste time and energy. In the end, it is exactly the time and energy spent on tackling problems or questions and working until a solution is found that makes life interesting and meaningful. With less time working and thinking, life has become dull and at times pointless. Maybe if I had replaced that "free" time with other challenging tasks it may be different right now, but I didn't.

I want the fearless old me back as well. When did we become so afraid of going out and doing new things? Or even familiar activities? I never used to back away from trying something because I was afraid of getting injured or not being good at it. The fact that I probably would not be great at it was always the reason to try it and then practice it until I was great at it. And for as long as I can remember, there was very little I could not do well if I was willing to work at it. This included any sport, musical instrument, foreign language, even academic endeavors. When did doubt show up and ruin this way of thinking? I am not sure but I want doubt and fear of failure gone.

My old self was not perfect though, far from it actually. She was very demanding and did not accept anything less than perfection. So there has to be a blend of her demanding pushy style, with a hint of compassion mixed in for when things don't work out well. Dwelling on the numerous times I was not perfect, may have helped me work harder It is no longer helpful to me. In fact, the idea of reaching perfection can go too. I have always believed striving for perfection should be the goal, as long as I understood that getting there would not happen. Setting standards that high would help get me as close as I could possible get, but somewhere I started to believe I could get there and became disappointed with anything less.

I want my new/old self to have very high standards but reasonable goals. I can be ok with not achieving perfection, as long as my goals are still demanding and not easy. As long as I know I have worked my hardest at reaching them.

So this is the start, maybe other things will be added to the list but these are what came to mind first.

No regrets gong forward,
Me"

Why not write your own letter? Why not say goodbye to the old you and all the things that no longer help you. Keep those wonderful traits that will keep you moving forward. Those outdated habits, let’s send them away. Notice them, name them and pack them away.

To your best health, 
Coach Nancy

3 Steps for Learning to Prep (and Love) Your Veggies [Infographic]

Sick of hearing how good vegetables are because you just don't like them? You haven't tried this!

by Dean Carlson


You know that eating plants is not only good for you, but necessary for optimal health and fitness. Yet ask how many people actually eat vegetables (more than a couple times a week) and you get crickets. Check this voodoo out. It's a 3-step formula created by some genuine ar-teeests when it comes to delicious food, James Heather and Jennifer Nickle. Resistance Is Futile!


It's no secret that just about every nutrition strategy out there, from Paleo to Vegan and everything in between has one thing in common:

Eat Your Veggies Already!​

But just because you know they are good for you it doesn't mean you are eating them, and you know what? I get it.

My recollection of veggies growing up were of soggy green beans, creamed spinach, and lima beans. (My dad loved lima beans, so mom made them. I did everything possible to avoid them, and truth be told still do.)

Part of being a human is that some memories, especially some bad ones, are really hard to get rid of. And when your whole life you had made it your mission to avoid vegetables, it's a hard habit to break.

Good News Alert

Veggies don't have to suck. True story. I used to HATE HATE HATE most vegetables. But I didn't know what I didn't know. HOW you prepare them, flavor them, and even when you eat them can turn a die-hard "vegaphobe" around.

If you are looking to improve your own veggie intake (and you know you probably should be), download the formula for your printer and stick it to your fridge for quick reference.

Again, to remind yourself to step outside your "plant-food" comfort zone, you can download this printable version of the above infographic.

Want more strategies for fine-tuning YOUR nutrition?

Diet's just don't work long term, but finding and sticking to a plan that work for you can be a lot harder than it seems.

That's why here at The Grateful Plate we work one-on-one with our coaching clients to help them find how to make eating healthy work for them and their busy lives. 

Sausage, Sweet Potato & Veggie Skillet

Rockstar Doreen shared this new breakfast hash recipe with me, and let me tell you - it is great! You will love it. It's easy to make, super filling and great for any meal or leftovers. I topped it with eggs for breakfast.

Sausage, Sweet Potato & Veggie Skillet

  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dash red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and toss sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon cooking fat, sea salt and pepper. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the potatoes and Brussels sprouts out evenly.

Bake sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes and sprouts are soft and browning.

While potatoes and sprouts are baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add remaining cooking fat. Add the onions and stir, cooking until translucent and soft, then add garlic and red pepper and sprinkle with salt. Remove from pan.

Add sausage to the skillet and cook until brown and crisp, then remove from heat. Combine onions, peppers and sausage back into the skillet, sprinkle with crushed red pepper and stir. Cook until everything is heated through again.

Remove potatoes and sprouts from onion and combine with sausage mixture to serve. It goes great with fried eggs too! Save leftovers and reheat in oven, microwave or skillet.

Write Your Own Food Story

I was challenged by my nutrition coach to make a food time line.

Yes, I have a coach to help me. Would you want it any other way?

But back to my assignment, I created a visual time line. It took me from my earliest memories to the present time. As I traveled this path, I noticed a few things but I’ll let you look at my time line and then I’ll tell you my discoveries.

As you traveled down my food path with me from earliest memories to present time, what did you notice? You see, I can remember all the wonderful memories of family and of the foods I ate while growing up. From fighting over maple and brown sugar oatmeal with my brothers, to enjoying making potatoes from a box for my mom. Through my teen years of Little Debbies to working at Dominos Pizza. I started to really learn to cook after getting married. Once Dean decided to change his health by changing his nutrition, you can see how real foods and loads of color were added to our meals.

For me, I see the color in my meals in my early twenties came from the packaging my meal was wrapped in while now it comes from the actual food.

I want to challenge you to do this experiment. It brings up loads of great memories and some not so wonderful ones. But the visual impact this exercise had for me shows me I am on the right path, but that path is still changing.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Don’t Be on the Donut Diet

The "Donut Diet" requires you to have donuts on hand - makes sense, right?

(P.S. Don't be on the Donut Diet)

I want to get down to brass tacks. Because diets don't work, period.

The very word itself lends itself to a temporary fix rather than a permanent change.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t just hand you a menu plan and say “eat that”. What happens when you reach the end of the plan, or the one we gave you doesn’t work for you?

You go back to your default eating, which is what got you where you were in the first place. And that just doesn’t make sense.

Short term thinking rarely leads to long term success. When we focus on the “outcome” rather than the behaviors, we set ourselves up for failure.

Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds in the next 2 months. Your whole focus is on that 10 pounds, and at the end of the 8 weeks you weigh yourself and you lost 8½ pounds. Your mind immediately focuses on the 1½ pounds you didn’t lose. I have seen it over and over again. You were wildly successful, and yet somehow you still are disappointed.

So how do we stop that?

We create and track measurable behaviors (or habits) that are supportive of our long term goals. The habit is something I can control and measure. If the habit I am developing is to eat breakfast every day, I either did it or I didn’t. When I do it consistently I know it will positively affect my desired outcome

Many of you struggle the most with planning. It was by far the biggest factor to derail you the quickest from your goals.

So let's hear what you found planning does for you:

Scott said "Planning helps you to shop more efficiently and you don't end up buying stuff you don't need (or is unhealthy for you!)"

Rebecca said, "This has helped me budget and eat better!"

According to Stephanie, "This helps me stay more true to my nutritional (fat loss) goals when I plan."

Deb said, "It will definitely help me to stay on track the whole week."

Stacey found, "Now I'm much better prepared, feel less anxiety over 'what's for dinner' and have started making a larger variety of healthy dinner choices."

The list goes on to include Mary, "It will help me to stay on track, and I won't be inclined to 'just pick something up'."

Melissa said, "it will keep me from running to the store and just grabbing something that probably wouldn't be good for me."

I could go on and on. My point is that planning meals for the week will:

  • Save time at the store and at mealtime
  • Save you money
  • Mean less stress
  • Equal a happier family - they know what the plan is and for some families they get to help with the planning
  • Provide you with healthier meals
  • Make life easier for you
  • Keep you off the donut diet 🙂

You will not have to think on the fly. Check out these tips to planning your first week of meals.

So saving time, saving money, saving your sanity, and making the whole family happy all with a little well spent time at the beginning of each week.

And you? Do you want any of these things to come to you?

To your best health,
Coach Nancy