Q: Your background is in nutrition and fitness. Have you always been interested in this area?
Having grown up as a multi-sport athlete, fitness has always been an interest of mine. I loved being active as a kid and that has stayed with me throughout my life. Nutrition has always been an interest as well, but more so because I struggled with it for so long. I was a yo-yo dieter for more than 10 years before I learned that dieting for the sake of looking a certain way was never going to work in the long run. Through the various training and certifications I’ve received, my nutrition philosophy has totally changed and I’m probably more interested in it than ever now.
Q: What’s your philosophy on food?
I think most nutrition coaches would answer this with the old Hippocrates quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” which I agree with to an extent, but I don’t think there are many people with an emotional attachment to Advil, so comparing food to medicine is great in theory, but really difficult to actually apply. My actual food philosophy that I think truly works is based on balance. We don’t just eat to fuel our bodies…it’s also a social activity, it’s comforting and it’s something to connect over, all of which can lead to an emotional attachment. So, I think a person’s nutrition has to accommodate both the physical and emotional side for them to truly feel their best. When I work with a client on nutrition, I aim to never make them feel deprived, but rather find healthier ingredients for their favorite meals so they get that comforting feeling while still fueling their body with foods that are going to have them looking and operating at
Q: What’s your favourite way to incorporate fitness into your life?
I’m competitive by nature so sports are at the top of my list when it comes to incorporating fitness. I play volleyball every week and participate in a social softball league at least once a year. Since playing a sport isn’t always the most convenient way to exercise, I compete with myself when I do my interval sprints or when I’m at the gym or taking a class. I try and push myself to go faster or longer or do one more rep than I did last time. So even when I’m working out alone, I’m competing with myself and trying to push myself just a little bit further. It ends up making my workouts really fun and rewarding.
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Q: What are three things someone can do to incorporate healthier food options?
1. The internet is your friend! There are SO many options out there now for turning your favorite comfort food into healthier versions. A simple Google search of your favorite meal + the words “healthy version” will give you tons of results. From there, just experiment and have fun with it!
2. Sneak vegetables in wherever you can. I have lots of clients who come to me saying they don’t like vegetables, but I know how amazing they are for fat loss and your health in general. So, I find ways to sneak them in. Spinach and zucchini blend up really well in a smoothie to the point where you can’t even taste them and I’ve converted the biggest veggie haters with that trick. Another good example is onion, tomato, and cabbage mixed with ground turkey or beef and taco seasoning for any Mexican-themed dish. Now we’ve snuck in some healthy greens and fiber without compromising taste. If you love veggies, incorporate them into every meal – the more the merrier!
3. Making healthy food choices really comes down to stabilizing your blood sugar. When you’re starving and your blood sugar is crashing, you’ll want to reach for the easiest (and usually unhealthiest) food. To avoid that feeling, you want protein and a healthy fat at every meal. An egg and veggie scramble with avocado is a great example of this. If you start your day with a meal like that, you’ll have nice, steady energy to take you all the way to lunch and you won’t be so hangry that you find yourself in the fast food line. For lunch, a salad or sandwich loaded up with protein, more vegetables, and avocado or hummus or a big smoothie with protein powder, spinach and some peanut butter are going to keep you feeling great until dinner. Stabilizing your blood sugar just makes picking healthier options so much easier because you avoid that panicked, “I have to eat right now!” feeling.
Q: What do you think is the biggest barrier to eating healthy, and can people work towards eating healthier?
Honestly, I think mindset is the biggest barrier. I’ve personally experienced an “all or nothing” mentality where Monday will roll around and I’ll convince myself that today is the day! I’m not going to eat any bread or sugar or [insert whatever other food groups some diets insist we completely eliminate]! Then, by 3 pm, I’ve spent the entire day thinking about what I’m not allowed to have and end up bingeing on it as soon as I get home. Sound familiar? That type of mentality just does not work for long term health and wellness. Instead, I encourage my clients to approach healthy eating as a new lifestyle they’re going to adopt over time. It’s not a short-term, quick-fix diet with some endpoint. Instead, focus on building small, manageable habits. Can you drink more water and just focus on that for a week? Can you start your day with a superfood smoothie and have that be your habit? Once you feel like you have one of those habits down, add another and then another and before you know it, your entire lifestyle (and body) will look different. This method not only works, but it helps to not feel deprived or overwhelmed that your entire life has to change all at once in order to see results. Now, if you can couple that with having a really clear “why,” you’ll be unstoppable. Part of my initial session with a client always incorporates a “why” discussion. If you have a really powerful reason for wanting to change, your chances of success skyrocket and it’s something you can go back to when the changes you’re making feel tough.
Q: What would be your non-negotiable in regards to health & wellness?
My non-negotiable for health and wellness is to find what works for YOU. If there was one, specific way of eating that worked for every single person, we’d all be doing it and there wouldn’t be thousands of different healthy eating plans out there. So, find what works for you and your body. The diet your friend/sister/coworker is on may not be the best fit for you, your body or your lifestyle and they might have different goals than you do. So, keep tweaking and experimenting until you’ve found a style of eating that has you feeling and looking your best, whatever that means to you.
Q: Sometimes it can be challenging to cook healthy meals (especially when short on time). Can you share your favorite simple go-to recipe?
I’ll give you two! Omelet Muffins for breakfast are my favorite because you can prep them in 30 minutes on a Sunday and then grab and go all week long and know that you’re getting great protein and veggies first thing in the morning (recipe below). My second favorite go-to recipe is a superfood smoothie. I think people underestimate them or get stuck on meals having to be sit-down, fork and knife type of meals, but we don’t always have time for that. So, I say drink your meal! My lunch is typically one of these smoothies and I’ll drink it while I meet with a client or take it on a walk with me to give my mind a break and get some fresh air. My basic recipe is 1-2 handfuls of spinach and zucchini, 1-2 TBSP of any nut butter, 1 big scoop of vanilla whey protein powder, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Blend it all up and you’re good to go! All you really taste is vanilla and the nut butter so it feels like a mid-day treat and the healthy fat and protein leave me feeling full until dinner. This one is also so easy to blend the night before or in the morning and take it with you on a busy day.
12 eggs – beaten
1/2 C cheese (I used cheddar but whatever you like will work. This can also be
omitted and still tastes great)
~2C chopped veggies (I used bell peppers, but broccoli and spinach work great
36 organic tater tots from the frozen section – thawed
Canadian bacon – chopped (I used 5 pieces, add more or less)
Preheat oven to 350° F
Spray/grease muffin tin or line with muffin papers if you want
Put 3 tater tots into each spot and press down with fingers or a glass to make
Evenly add veggies, Canadian bacon, and cheese into each spot
Pour beaten eggs over each spot and fill almost to top
Sprinkle additional cheese on top if desired
Bake for about 20 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and slightly brown on
Will keep in the fridge for about a week or freeze and use whenever
Q: How do you stay motivated to be healthy?
That powerful “why” I talked about earlier? That’s what keeps me going. I sat down and really thought about why I wanted to change my body and my health for the better and what it came down to was how I wanted to feel every day, which is strong, fit, energetic and unstoppable. So, when cravings for foods pop up that don’t support those feelings, it’s a lot easier to say no. I truly believe that you can know all of the facts and best practices around health and nutrition, but if you don’t have your mindset centered around a strong reason why that really resonates with you, you won’t be inspired to take action day in and day out.
Q: What’s your favorite wellness habit or hack?
This is going to sound too simple, but for me, my favorite wellness habit is water! We really underestimate the importance of staying properly hydrated. It affects everything from hunger signals to wrinkles, to energy levels…it’s so important. We should all be drinking half our body weight in ounces of water, which can seem daunting for some, so, I’ve learned to make it interesting. Add different fruits or vegetables like cucumber, use a fun bottle or glass…whatever it will take to get you to drink more. I also love a sparkling version when it comes to water. I pour it into a fancy wine or cocktail glass and add lime or crushed berries and mint – this is a great trick if you’re at a social event and want to be mindful of your alcohol intake, but still, want a fun drink or to make people think you’re enjoying an adult beverage. Plus, you avoid a hangover the next day. Win-win!
Q: What does “Living Well” mean to you?
To me, living well means feeling your absolute best in mind, body, and soul and consistently doing the necessary things to achieve that. For me, that ends up being a combination of exercise, eating healthy foods, meditating, being in nature, getting my nails done, reading and a weekly bubble bath with music and candles. I find that when I’ve taken care of myself in these ways and feel my best, I’m better able to support my clients and be there for the people around me, both of which are extremely important to me.
Want to learn more about Kate? You can find her at: katemckenziewellness.com