Your Post-Thanksgiving Recovery Plan

Have you ever noticed that the morning after an indulgent meal like Thanksgiving your body and mind are absolutely consumed by cravings?

Me too! It can drive a women nuts! You have every intention of “being good” and getting back on your diet the next day, but your body is just screaming give me more!

And on top of the cravings, we have to resist the time-honored tradition of grazing off of Thanksgiving leftovers the over the rest of the weekend. This “tradition” of extending your Thanksgiving feast by two or three days can turn one indulgent meal into a 2-5 pounds of rapid weight gain yikes!

To me, a healthy Thanksgiving is all about ending the feast once you leave the table! I would like to propose a sensible alternative that will allow you to revisit the delicious flavors of Thanksgiving and return to a nutrient-dense PCOS-friendly diet.

The plan below is made up of nutritious recipes that have a hint of holiday flavor without the added sugars, unhealthy fats and refined carbs that make our traditional feast detrimental to our health.

Your Ultimate Healthy Thanksgiving Recovery Plan

 

Meditate 

Start your day off with meditation. I know what you’re thinking: “how will meditating keep me from pigging out?”

Here’s the deal: after the excitement of a holiday celebration, it can be difficult to transition back to your normal routine and clean eating. Prepare yourself mentally for this challenging day by doing a brief meditation. A few minutes of quiet reflection will keep you more mindful and in control of the rest of the day.

You can try my favorite meditation app for free at headspace.com, or you can use this free mindfulness meditation series from DoYogaWithMe.com. Oh and BTW I love DoYogaWithMe.com’s online yoga classes too!

 

Photo By Lauren Geertsen
Photo By Lauren Geertsen

Breakfast

My grandma would let us eat leftover pie for breakfast the morning after Turkey day- yeah she was AWESOME! But today the adult me is going to skip the pie and whip up a batch of Grain-Free Pumpkin Pancakes.

I found this Recipe on the WellnessMama.com it was created by Lauren Geertsen of Empowered Sustenance.

 

Break a Sweat

Now that you’ve enjoyed a nutritious breakfast it is time to workout! You do not need to be a superhero today, just get moving! The natural high of physical activity will help keep you feeling balanced.

Do you have house guest and can’t get away to the gym? No problem! Click here to get my 10-Minute Quickie Workout sent to your inbox now!


 

Lunch

I know your first instinct will be to build yourself a monster-sized turkey sandwich. Let’s avoid the processed carbs by skipping the bread. Instead, whip up this Turkey and Baby Kale Salad With Avocado Sage Dressing from Green Lite Bites.

Since you already have cooked turkey on hand, you can skip the step of cooking turkey cutlets and have lunch on the table in no time!  

 

Avoid a late afternoon snack attack.

Many women struggle with a late afternoon cravings. Try to boost your endorphins (the feel good hormones) without snacking. Cuddle up and watch old movies with you sweetheart, go for a walk at a local park or play backyard football with the fam. Keep yourself busy and out of the kitchen!  

 

Dinner

Last night you chowed down on many inflammatory foods like sugary pies and cranberries floating in corn syrup. Soothe you body’s inflammatory response by having Omega-3 rich salmon for dinner. Researchers have discovered omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, and might ease the symptoms of disorders influenced by inflammation (like PCOS.)  

This Pan-Seared Salmon with Cranberry Walnut Relish from Paleo Grubs would pair nicely with a baked yam and steamed green beans.  

 

Get to bed!

Congratulations! You’re at the finish line. The last step of this no-nonsense recovery plan is to get a good nights sleep. Plan on being in bed at least 8 1/2 hours before you have to wake up. Sleep deprivation can compromise your wellbeing and your ability to stick to a healthy routine. Don’t undo all your hard work by skipping over this final step!  

Ready to bounce back from your turkey coma like a champ? Click here to get my 10-Minute Quickie Workout sent to your inbox now!  

PCOS is Serious

At times, I’m hard on myself when it comes to dealing with PCOS. I will berate myself for feeling exhausted and not having a more productive day. I silently accuse myself of being indulgent because I always make room in my schedule for exercise, self-care and sleep. Sometimes I feel like I do not look fit enough to call myself a personal trainer. And I feel like I am being difficult when I ask my doctor to run extra tests or refer me to a specialist.

Can you relate to any of this?

More often than not, I can put these doubts in their place and stay true to myself. But, at the root of all these inner thoughts is the idea that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome  is not that serious.

Angela Grassi of the PCOS Nutrition Center
Angela Grassi of the PCOS Nutrition Center and I at the symposium.

A few weeks ago I went to the PCOS Awareness Symposium at Emory University. It was a day full of lectures from some of the leading experts on PCOS, Fertility, Nutrition and Women’s Health. I could go on for days about what I learned from the experts who presented at the symposium, but I want to talk about how this experience changed my perspective on PCOS.

It was the first time in my life that I have been in a room with more than one, let alone one hundred women, who have PCOS. I want to tell you something important: PCOS is serious!

The trials, difficulties, complications, and health risk that are part of our lives as women living with PCOS are not trivial. It is NOT just you. You are not weak for feeling like it is a struggle to manage PCOS. You are not a hypochondriac when you go to that third or fourth doctor looking for answers.

PCOS will not kill you. I thank God every day for my health. We could have it much worse. However, that does not change the fact that PCOS causes symptoms that disrupt our daily lives, compromise our fertility and can lead to health complications like heart disease and diabetes.

The good news is that PCOS is not in Charge, You are.

pcos-ribbon-mdEvery presentation at the symposium was incredibly empowering. Why? Because each and every expert shared ways that we as patients can improve our well-being.

One thing is very clear when it comes to PCOS management; lifestyle is at the heart of every solution. Eating right, exercising, sleeping and managing stress will clear the way for your physician to make the most out of the medications, procedures, supplements and other treatments for PCOS.

That is exciting news! But taking control can be scary. Change is hard especially if you are not feeling your very best to start with. If you are ready to start taking PCOS seriously, I’ve got your back! Here are five strategies for taking your PCOS more seriously.

Plus I’ve made a downloadable PDF of simple action plans for fighting PCOS symptoms like acne, belly fat and unwanted hair. Click here to get my action plans for dealing with PCOS symptoms sent to your inbox now!

Educate yourself and take action.

Educate yourself on the basics of PCOS and then start taking some simple steps to toward a PCOS-Friendly lifestyle. You can spend hours upon hours reading up on PCOS. Before you dive into those deep waters, put together a very basic action plan. For example, simply start walking every day and then start looking for more advanced workout programs.

Speak up!

Many PCOS women feel isolated, alone, and even embarrassed about their PCOS. I felt the same way until I started telling the people in my life about my struggles and then eventually blogging about them. You can’t make lifestyle changes in secret. Give your loved ones the opportunity to support you. Being honest and open about your PCOS does not make you a complainer. Your friends and family can’t help you if you’re hiding your burden away from the world.

One change at a time

Taking up a new habit or changing an existing habit is a major undertaking. Do not sabotage yourself by trying to change your entire daily routine all at once. Behavioral Science researchers have found that people are much more successful at making lasting changes when they focus on one small change at a time.

Pick simple solutions instead of complicated plans

It is tempting to pick up the latest diet book or head to the trendiest workout class in town. Both of which might be great! But it is always best to start with the basics before attempting more complex methods. For example, if most of your meals are super-sized and come from a paper sack, you already know why you’re not losing weight. So you don’t really need a complex nutrition plan; focus on portion control or giving up fast food first. There’s no need to weigh yourself down with a difficult to follow program before you have even mastered the basics 🙂

Support PCOS Awareness

Sasha Ottey PCOS Challenge
Sasha Ottey Director of PCOS Challenge

Have you ever felt brushed aside and not taken seriously by the medical community? Sasha Ottey (the founder of PCOS Challenge and the organizer of the symposium) asked the audience if they felt they were currently receiving adequate medical care for their PCOS. Only two women in the room said they were satisfied with their care!

If you are not part of a PCOS support group or advocacy group like PCOS Challenge, please consider joining one. We need every woman with PCOS to speak up so that we are heard, recognized and respected. Contributing to the PCOS community will help you heal and learn. Plus lending your voice will also ensure that future generations have more support from their healthcare providers and social circle.

Are you ready to take PCOS seriously? Click the image below to get my PCOS action plans sent to your inbox. It includes ideas and suggestions from symposium experts plus links to podcast interviews with symposium speakers Dr. Mark Perloe, Dr. Monica Best and Angela Grassi, MS, RD, LDN.  

 

4 Exercise Mistakes Women With PCOS Make

When I open my inbox and see exercise questions from women with PCOS, it makes my day! Because it means that more and more cysters are taking their health into their own hands by breaking a sweat.

I want to help each of you get amazing results from your workouts, so I’ve put together a quick list of the most common PCOS exercise mistakes and how you can fix them right away.

Plus, I’ve included a special bonus with some great resources that will help you maximize your workout!

Not Measuring Progress

measuring resultsAt least once a week I get an email that says “I am working out, but it’s not working!” The first thing that pops into my head is:
‘hmmm, I wonder how she knows it’s not working? Where are the numbers? The clear proof that her hard work is not paying off?’

Numbers on the scale, personal observations and how your clothes fit are all flawed forms of tracking progress. If you’re going to all the trouble of implementing an exercise or nutrition plan, it makes good sense to track accurately and measure your progress

Why?
Humans are notoriously bad at self-assessing. We need to gather objective information to make the best decisions possible.

I’ve coached women who constantly change their diet and exercise plans because they are not “seeing results.”

In reality, they were not properly tracking their progress and the constant changes to their programs were hurting their results.

I recommend using several forms of measurements to track progress because a new exercise program may not cause your scale weight to change right away. So, you need to be on the lookout for other signs of progress. For example, I have seen clients lose inches off their waist circumference while maintaining the same weight. That would indicate they’re losing fat and gaining muscle. Thus, their body is changing, but their weight is not.

If your primary goal is fat loss, I recommend that you track your progress by taking body circumference measurements, body fat percentage, weight and progress pictures every two weeks.

Taking multiple measures of progress can also give you insights into your hormonal state. If you find that your body fat percentage and weight are dropping, but your girth measurements in certain areas remain the same, you might have a hormonal imbalance that needs to be addressed. For instance, low thyroid levels can cause fat deposits around the bra area as well as overall weight gain.

Sign-up for the bonus here to get my measurement guide sent to your inbox.

Following an Unrealistic Program

stop watchYour workout must fit into the time that you have no matter how small or large that window of opportunity is. When women with PCOS decide they want to get fit they almost always select an exercise program based on how much they want to workout and not on how much time they actually have to workout.

Nothing will discourage you and derail your progress faster than falling short of your unreasonable expectations. I’ve been there myself and it’s a nasty cycle of highs and lows. At first you’re excited about a shiny new miracle workout, then you’re mad at yourself because you could not wake up at 4 am to spend an hour at the gym.

Skip this vicious cycle and get honest with yourself!

Do you have exactly 50 minutes between the time you wake up and when your kids come barreling into your bedroom?

Great. Work with that 50 minutes!

You need to set aside time for transitioning from waking up to working out, a warm-up, the workout, a cooldown, and time to transition to the next activity of the day. Make sure you’re committing to a program that will fit into your schedule by writing out a basic timeline like the one I have below:

7:00-7:10 am | Wakeup and change

7:10-7:15 am  | Warm up

7:15-7:35 am  | Strength training circuit

7:35-7:40 am | Cool down

7:40-7:50 am | Transition to next activity

You’ll notice that I did not include time to get to and from the gym. If you love going to the gym and have the time to do so – go for it!

But if you’re pressed for time, your absolute best option is to work out from home. With just a few pieces of equipment, you can get fit without a gym membership.

 

Click here to get a list of my favorite workout equipment to use at home.

Skipping Strength Training.

IMG_0022I get it. You’re trying to lose weight and lower your male hormones, yet I stand here telling you to start building muscle mass. It seems counterintuitive, but gaining muscle helps women with PCOS lose weight and manage other symptoms.

First of all I want to address concerns that strength training can increase androgen production. As far as I can tell, no one has ever attempted to study androgen response to strength training in women with PCOS. Studies conducted on the general population have not come up with conclusive results on this either. However not a single study has found that women’s testosterone becomes perilously high as a result of strength training.

Physicians who specialize in PCOS recommend strength training because it is a proven method of managing insulin resistance, belly fat, and obesity. Strength training is more likely to improve your hormonal balance than make it worse.

If you’re new to strength training, it can be a little intimidating. I’ve put together a DIY strength training guide. This will help you learn some of the basics.

Click here to get it now.

You try to “burn calories.”

DancingFlamesIt is true that exercise burns calories. Exercise enough and you’ll burn enough calories to lose weight.

But exercise’s role in weight loss is not that simple…

Overeating is easy to do, and burning off an over-indulgent diet is extremely difficult. The goal of your exercise program should never be to “burn off” the bad nutrition choices you’ve made!

What does exercise do for you if it is not that great at burning calories?

It stimulates physiological changes in the body that will enhance your health and make it is easier for you to stay lean. A perfect example of this are the strength training benefits mentioned above.

Your workout is not a magic wrecking ball you can use to knock out that extra glass of wine or the slice of cake you had on Friday night. It is the shovel you use to dig a strong foundation for good health and a fit body.

Once I was able to understand this concept, my relationship with exercise and with food changed completely! Food is no longer the enemy and exercise is not a punishment. Today I get a deep joy from working out and eating balanced meals.

To make the most out of every workout track your progress, set a realistic schedule, include strength training and focus on improving your health rather than burning calories. Correcting these four common mistakes will help you become stronger than PCOS!

 

Sign up now to get my PCOS exercise solutions Bonus

I Cook Once a Week: Healthy Freezer Cooking

Cooking and I have a complicated, hot-and-cold relationship.
I love cooking, but cooking is so much work.
I have a lot of fun with cooking, but sometimes I just don’t have the time it needs.
The last time cooking and I got together, it was a huge mess!

You get the picture…

If you ask me, and I think you are since you’re reading this, cooking is an essential part of living a PCOS-friendly lifestyle.

Depending on manufactured food products and restaurants, no matter how healthy they claim to be, is not a good choice for women living with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

A good PCOS diet is based on whole foods. Some women do great with Paleo and others thrive while being a vegetarian. The common thread is always: real foods over food products.

Worried about time, budget, or general kitchen anxiety? Don’t be!

I’m going to show how you can use freezer cooking to overcome the most common PCOS diet obstacles.

Plus, I made a complete PCOS Freezer Cooking Plan that you can download and use this week. It even includes a grocery list. Click here to get it sent to your inbox!

Freezer Cooking for a Better PCOS Diet

Freezer cooking is a term used to describe the process of cooking multiple meals at once and storing them in the freezer for future use.

One major benefit to freezer cooking is that you get your kitchen good and messy just once instead of every night. When you have a kitchen and an entire apartment that are 100% white, this is a huge plus!freezer cooking Freezer cooking also leverages the assembly line principle. You can chop all the veggies at once while all your meat is marinating (more on this later).

Oh – and it gives you the option to cook when you have the time and energy! I mean who wants to strap on an apron after a 10-hour work day?

Making Freezer Cooking Work for You

You can live off freezer cooking or just use it to cover weeknight dinners. You’ll need to explore your options.

As I already mentioned, my primary aim with freezer cooking is to avoid kitchen clean up. So I cook or prep all of our meals for the week every Sunday after church.

I would love to experiment with once a month cooking, but my simple kitchen makes such an achievement out of reach. Our tiny white kitchen consists of a small counter space, crock pot, microwave, two burners, a toaster oven and limited freezer space.

The good news is that you ladies with your fancy North American mega kitchens can totally crush this freezer cooking thing. It’s time to put your double ovens and a four burner range to good use!

Making Your Own Freezer Cooking PCOS Diet Plan

To ensure success, you must spend some time planning your cooking day. Do not skip this step – disaster will ensue!

Start by deciding how many meals you want to cook in one day. Are you going to prep 3 square meals for each day of the week or just Monday -Thursday night dinners? Then multiply that by the number of servings you need for each meal. For example, a family of four needs 20 servings of dinner to get through the work week.

Next you want to seek out healthy entree recipes for each meal. I like to use food.com. You can use this handy site to curate your favorite recipes in an online “recipe box” and it even has an application that will organize your recipes into a shopping list.

food.com

Food.com also has a social networking component. You can connect with me by clicking here.

Tips for recipe selection:

  • Select recipes that utilize all of your heat sources: some for the oven, crock pot, stove top, and grill. That way you can cook several entrees at once.
  • Choose simple recipes you know that you like. Save fun, new recipes for dinner parties and leisure cooking.
  • Select recipes that use in-season produce.
  • Remember your dinner will need sides. I recommend including a serving of leafy greens and another colorful veggie with every meal.

Now it is time to make a grocery list. Either use an app or handwrite a list. Don’t forget to include non-food items like soap and tin foil.

Once you have your list, search the fridge and pantry for items you already have in stock and check them off the list.

 

It’s time to cook!

Get dressed for the occasion. Put on your comfy clothes, a good pair of tennis shoes and pull back your hair. Comfort is important! Turn on the radio and tie on your apron. Seriously, wear an apron – no one cooks five entrees at once without spilling a little :).

Prepare your kitchenRemove all necessary items from the kitchen counter. I even stow the coffee maker and toaster in a cabinet. Counter space is critical!

Take stock of your storage. Make sure you have the freezer space you need. If necessary, clean it out and reorganize. Have plenty of BPA-free glass storage containers. I really like Pyrex for my hot foods and mason jars for salad greens and sauces.

batch cooking

Write a detailed to-do list. Gather all of your recipes in one place like an iPad or a notebook. Instead of cooking one recipe at a time, group similar tasks together. I like to write the whole process down in a master to-do list so I can keep on task. Here is how I organize my process:

1. If you are using a crock pot, start that recipe first so that it is done cooking before bed.

2. Marinate and dry rub all meats, set aside in the fridge and disinfect your workspace.

3. Preheat the oven.

4. Wash and chop all of your veggies. Set the cutting board next to the sink so it’s easy to wash produce as you cut. I recommend using a homemade produce washing solution. Lay salad greens out to dry on a towel somewhere out of your way. Once dry, store them in a mason jar. .healthy freezer cooking

5. If anything needs to be blended or run through the food processor, do that now. Then wash and store your food processor. Again, the idea is to keep your workspace uncluttered.

6. Cook and store any whole grains like quinoa or beans.

7. Start cooking: put entrees in the oven and then move on to anything you need to cook on the stove top or grill.

8. Store your hard work in the freezer and clean up.

More Freezer Cooking Tips

Cook double batches. Colin and I have no problem eating the same dinner twice in a week. However, as my system has evolved, I’ve been able to maintain an inventory of freezer meals so we often eat dinners that I cooked 2 or 3 weeks ago.

Keep it simple. I have a standard format for our meals which makes planning a breeze. We eat a green salad, a meat-based entree and roasted or steamed veggies with every meal. Most weeks we eat the same salad and veggie dish every night. Standardizing the menu keeps things simple and nutritious 🙂

Avoid storing food in plastic. This research study found that women with PCOS might be more vulnerable to exposure to BPA, a chemical found in many plastic household items. In my opinion, plastic containers are cheap, but not worth the risk.

Freezer cooking takes some getting used to. So, if your first try is not perfect, don’t sweat it! I have seen people use freezer cooking with great success. It’s an effective way to improve your diet and save time – two things that normally don’t go together.

Get my PCOS Freezer Cooking Plan! It has everything you need to get started:

  • A Menu
  • Recipes
  • A Grocery list
  • Cooking instructions

Click here to get it sent to your inbox!

A PCOS Exercise Plan for Beginners: Start Strength Training Today!

Click here to get my strength training bonus sent to your inbox now!

My bonus includes an instructional video, cool down stretches and a pre & post workout nutrition guide. Plus, links to my best articles about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Strength Training.

 

PCOS Exercise Plan for Beginners

  1. Do this workout 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days for 4 to 6 weeks.
  2. To warm up walk at a brisk pace for 5 minutes.
  3. The exercises are separated into two groups. Do the two exercises in group A before moving on to group B.
  4. Rest as needed in between sets.
  5. The last rep of a set should be tough! If you finish a set and could’ve done more, increase your reps, increase your resistance or select a more difficult version of the movement.
  6. End the workout with a 5-20 minute cool down walk.
  7. This program is designed to get you started quickly. Ideally, you should be ready for a more difficult workout in about 6 weeks.

beginners workout

Forearm Wall Slides

PCOS exerciseforearm wallslide

  1. Start by facing a wall with your forearms in contact with the wall, shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and keep wrists inline with the elbows.
  3. Keep your forearms in contact with the wall as you slide your arms up and out. Don’t shrug the shoulders!
  4. Slide the arms back to the starting position and repeat.

Pallof Press

Pallof Press

  1. Affix the band to an immovable object at chest level.
  2. Stand inline with the band so that your body is parallel to the anchor point.
  3. Hold the band with both hands and center it on your chest. Do not allow the band to rotate your upper body.
  4. Exhale, push the band straight out in front of you, brace your core and glutes to resist the urge to rotate.
  5. Hold it in front for 3 seconds, then return the band to your chest.

Squat

Squat

  1. Stand with your feet beneath your shoulders.
  2. Inhale and lower your body like you’re sitting down in a chair.
  3. Keep the back neutral, chest up and core engaged. Push your feet into the ground like you’re trying to split apart the floor beneath you. This will help engage your glutes.
  4. Lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.
  5. Keep your torso stiff as you exhale and press your body back up to standing.

Note: If you find this move difficult you can start with a chair squat, the instructions are in my video bonus!

Elevated Push Up

elevated pushup

  1. Place your hands on a wall or another sturdy surface like a table. They should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Engage your core to stiffen the torso and step back so that your weight is on the toes and hands.
  3. Keep your feet together and your glutes should be firm.
  4. Inhale and lower your chest toward the wall. Keep the glutes and core strong, tuck the elbows close to your sides as you descend.
  5. Exhale, press back up to the starting position.

Note: If you find this move difficult you can start with a wall push up, the instructions are in my video bonus!

Pull Through

Pull through Pull through

  1. Loop a resistance band around a sturdy object near the floor. Stand while straddling the band with feet hip-width apart and face away from the anchor point.
  2. Keep your back straight, core engaged and your shoulders down.
  3. Inhale as you hinge at the hip and press your rear behind you, slightly bend the knees, feeling a stretch in the hamstrings. Do not round your spine.
  4. Exhale as you squeeze the glutes and press the hips forward to stand back up, pulling the band through your legs.
  5. Imagine that you’re pulling from your hips rather than your arms or lower back.

Note: If you find this move difficult you can start with a hip bridge, the instructions are in my video bonus!

Band Resisted Row

Row Exercise

  1. Find a fixed object where you can wrap the exercise band. Grab an end of the band in each hand and step back to where the band is under tension.
  2. Stand with your feet apart, shoulder width.
  3. Exhale, keep your elbows close to your sides as you pull the band towards you.
  4. Contract and flex your back muscles at the peak position. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the recommended number of reps.

Are you ready to start strength training? 

Click here to get my strength training bonus sent to your inbox now!

My bonus includes an instructional video, cool down stretches and a pre & post workout nutrition guide. Plus, links to my best articles about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Strength Training.