Food for Thought

Nutrition, Fitness, and Wellness articles for busy women who want to lead a healthy, fulfilled life they love.

Enjoy Your Treats (Occasionally) Without Derailing Your Nutrition Goals

Enjoy Your Treats (Occasionally) Without Derailing Your Nutrition Goals

As we all know, Valentine’s Day just happened. And whether you love the holiday or hate it, one thing is for sure: The holiday of love comes with a whole pile of nutritional challenges. Boxes of chocolates? Check. Fancy dinners? Check. Cocktails with girlfriends? Check. Valentine’s parties at your kid’s school, at the office, and heart-shaped cookies everywhere you turn? Check, check, and check.


But honestly, it’s not just Valentine’s Day! It’s Girl Scout cookie season. It’s almost spring break (hellooo, margaritas). It’s life in general. Sometimes it seems like the world wants us slip off plan, doesn’t it?


Fortunately, I come to you today bearing tidings of great joy (sorry, wrong holiday):

You CAN enjoy your sweet treats! In fact, you SHOULD!


There seems to be a common misconception that good health means no sweet treats, desserts, or indulgences. I’d like to debunk that right now. Maybe that works for some, but for most of us, trying to entirely deprive ourselves of our favorite “junk foods” is a one-way ticket to eventual failure. Even the most dedicated healthy eaters need a break now and then. I know I sure do.


That’s why I’m putting my foot down. I’m taking a stand. It’s perfectly fine, perfectly accepted, and in fact, even EXPECTED and NECESSARY to incorporate treats into your regular healthy routine. You’re welcome.


Now, of course, that probably means something a little different to all of us. One woman’s idea of a splurge might be having that extra cocktail every other weekend; another’s might be enjoying a giant piece of chocolate cake once in a blue moon. For me, it helps to set up some guidelines. These rules might be different for you, but here’s a look at the rules I follow when I’m strategically adding treats to my plan.


The Rules

  1. Choose high quality treats. I’m not going to have a piece of some random cake and then think, “Gee, that wasn’t really worth it.” If I’m having cake, I’m getting the most primo, moist, delicious cake I can get my hands on. If chocolate is your thing, make sure it’s rich, indulgent, amazing chocolate. A bite of a half-stale Little Debbie cake that happens to still be in your cupboard just won’t do, friends.

  2. Ditch the Guilt. If we’re doing this, then we’re doing this. We’re not half doing it but feeling bad about our decisions tomorrow morning. We’re not doing it but saving it as a tool to beat ourselves up with later. If you’re planning to enjoy a treat, ENJOY it! Then, move on to your next well-planned, balanced meal.  

  3. Integrate Treats Between PFC Meals. Picking up where that last rule left off, it’s important to stack your treat in between two PFC meals. Why? Immediately jumping back on track will keep your blood sugar from going crazy and, perhaps more importantly, will keep you from experiencing that special hangry/cranky/tired combo that comes from a sugar crash and leaves you craving even more chocolate. Veering off course for a moment and then steering yourself right back onto your normal nutritional path will keep you stable and energized.


All that to say . . . Definitely, definitely have some treats.

Go buy a box of Samoa cookies. Warm up with some hot cocoa. Whatever floats your boat. Just be smart about it!


As for me, I’m more likely to go for red wine, cheese, and crackers than dessert, but I do love to have really high quality chocolate occasionally. I usually try to steal a bite of my kiddo’s molten lava cake when he’s not looking to keep my portions in check. ;)


Another great idea, if you’re a chocolate lover, is signing up to be a Godiva member. Now I know what you’re thinking--that sounds like nutritional suicide, right? But every single month, Godiva members get one free truffle. Just one. And it’s ridiculously delicious. Sometimes, all you need is that one super-flavorful bite, and membership programs like this one can be a great way to sate your sweet tooth without having to order a whole dessert.


What are some of your favorite treats? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, what I wish for you is to live a life you love without feeling hungry, deprived, or giving up your glass of wine (or slice of cake!) with dinner.


Posted - 3/05/19 (Tue)


What To Do When You Don't Meet Your Goals

What To Do When You Don't Meet Your Goals

What to Do When You Don’t Meet Your Goals

All month long, we have been talking about setting SMART goals. I realize that I may have given you the impression that if you set SMART goals, you are 100% guaranteed to make them. While you have certainly insured your success at a higher percentage, there's no guarantee. Life happens, for sure, to all of us.


So today, I wanted to address a less fun question:  what happens if you don't meet your goals?

What do you do? One of the reasons why it’s important to make our SMART goal measurable is so that we can measure and say, "Hey, did I make my goal?" But what if the answer to the question is a resounding, nope?

As you may or may not know from my social media posts, I recently embarked on a 90 day clean eating challenge. I started January 1 (Happy New Year!) and my first goal was to lose five pounds and lower my body fat percentage by about two percent by the end of January.

As a nutrition coach, it’s sometimes difficult to admit when I fall short of goals, but in all honesty, that’s exactly what happened this time--I didn't hit it. By the end of January, the scale had not budged at all. Now, that was fine by me; I lost a lot of bloat and slimmed down by a couple inches. I lost about one percent body fat, which is great because that means my workouts are effective. But, technically, I didn't hit my goal. Bummer.

So, what do you do if you set a goal and don’t hit it? Do we throw up our hands and say, "That’s it! I'm all done." Or do we reset, start from where we are, and continue from here?

Take a couple of minutes to breathe. Don't worry about it. The reality is, that which is measured can be improved.


If you don’t meet your goal, your next step is to tweak that goal.

When I didn't hit my goal, the first question I asked myself was, how was my eating? Did I choose the right foods? In my case, food wasn’t the issue. I did a good job choosing healthful foods and eating clean. Was I 100% consistent in the midst of all that? No, but 75% for sure.

Next, I asked myself if there were any extenuating circumstances that could have affected my progress. When I reflected on the month, I realized I’d been traveling A LOT during that time. I also caught a stomach bug, which certainly didn’t help.  

That led me to examining my movement over the month of January.  In the course of all that traveling, I spent one week in California. While there, I sat through a lot of meetings: keyword, sat. And of course I didn’t exercise while I had a stomach bug. My body needed rest, and I did my best to give it that rest.

Given that I was traveling and sick, my intensity definitely could have been higher. However, as nice as it would have been to hit that goal, it was crucial to go a little easier on the workouts during January so I didn’t injure myself or cause myself to stay sick longer. I’ve only just gotten back to exercising at a higher intensity, and the last thing I want is a setback. So yes--my intensity could have been higher. But I made the right choice for me in the moment, and that’s something I can work on going forward.


So what did I do when I realized I hadn’t hit my goal?

I said, "Okay, here's where I am. I'm feeling good, I've lost inches, I've lost bloat. The scale didn't move. My body fat percentage moved a little bit. What can I do to make a difference? I'm going to continue eating clean, and I'm going to add a little bit of intensity to my movement."

The next morning, I added in 15 minutes on my elliptical. It's not a lot. It's not like I'm planning to add an extra hour each day--that wouldn’t be achievable. But 15 minutes a day? Totally achievable.  

It's simple--I've got an elliptical in my house.

It's measurable--I’ll do this five days a week for 15 minutes a day. If I don't get to do it in the morning for some reason, I can do it in the afternoon or the evening. It's just 15 minutes.

Is it realistic? I think it's realistic. I will be traveling again some this month, but I am staying at hotels with gyms so I don’t expect that to be an issue.

And finally, it's time-based. I'm specifically looking at this next month. I'm not expecting overnight results--that's just not the way life works. There is no easy button, there is no magic pill to take. It takes persistence and consistency.


What I'd love to hear from you is, how did you do with your goals this month?

If you didn't hit them, let's look at where we are today and set our goals for the next month. Don't look at where you wanted to be and set a goal from there. Set a goal from where you are today.


That's it for now--stay tuned for next week’s conversation about something we all love: treats! For today, what I hope for you is to live a life that you love, without being hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner.

If you’re enjoying this content, I hope you’ll check out my Thrive VIP group where I have a live Q&A every month, we have guest experts, and I’m available to answer questions in our group anytime.  The investment goes up in March, so take advantage of 2018 pricing now. You're also welcome to join my free group, Never Diet Again--this is a great community if you're looking for a little extra accountability, health tips, workout and recipe ideas, and nutrition advice. :)


Posted - 2/26/19 (Tue)


SMART Goals In Real Life

SMART Goals In Real Life
Hey again! If you’ve been following along with the last couple of blogs, you know by now how important it is to set SMART goals (simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based, that is) when it comes to your nutrition and fitness. One things you might not know, though, is how to make those goals work in your real life.


In my work as a nutrition coach, I’ve just about seen it all. Sure, I’ve had some clients who were young, active, had great metabolisms and just needed some guidance. But most of my clients have been people whose metabolisms have slowed over the years, whose careers make it difficult for them to find time to eat every three hours or exercise regularly, and who come to me feeling bound to their unhealthy choices by the ins and outs of their everyday life.


If any of that sounds familiar, stay with me. I have good news for you.

Today, I'd like to share a little story with you about how one client of mine adapted his goals into SMART goals that fit his specific circumstances. His job made eating throughout the day particularly challenging--not only was he busy, but he was a busy sales manager who spent his whole day on the sales floor, where no food was allowed.


Still, he was on a mission to clean up his eating habits and get his metabolism humming again. So we set to work figuring it out. That’s not to say it was easy--at first, transitioning from rarely eating throughout the day to squeezing in six small meals seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. But like I said: he was determined.

And so we tackled his obstacles one at a time, and the first question that had to be answered was, How was he going to fit in his mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals? Rather than just saying, I don’t know but it has to be done, we opted to adjust his routine one tiny step at a time.

First, we decided that instead of aiming to eat two extra meals during every work day, we’d start by trying to incorporate one extra meal on three out of his five work days that first week. For him, that seemed simple enough. It was certainly measurable--one meal, three days. It was achievable--we put a plan in place and decided that if he had a pre-mixed shake ready to go, he could easily pop into the break room (or in an emergency, into the restroom) and have a quick snack. It was realistic--the plan didn’t affect his ability to do his job, didn’t require him to spend a substantial amount of his time at home doing food prep, and didn’t alter his lifestyle in any meaningful way. And finally, it was time-based--we decided to try it for just one week to see how it went. Once that week was over, we would assess the situation and adjust for the week ahead.

Going about meeting his goals in this way really gave my client an opportunity to succeed, to relish his success, and to build on that. And that’s really the key for all of us when we’re putting together goals. Success builds upon success, and who doesn’t want to be successful at meeting their goals in both the short-term and the long-term?


For that reason, I want to encourage you to take everything you’ve learned about SMART goals over the last few weeks and really examine it as it applies to  your life. Do you need to include some extra steps in your plan to accommodate for difficult circumstances? Do you need to spend some time creating a realistic strategy? It might not be immediately easy, but succeeding is absolutely possible!

If you're looking for additional support, I invite you to come join me in my free group, Never Diet Again. Once there, you’re more than welcome to ask me any questions you have! I'm always happy to help you set goals and set yourself up for success.


That’s all I’ve got to say for this week, but I'll be back next Tuesday with more tips and tricks you can use to be healthy in your everyday life. Until then, what I hope for you is to live a life that you love without being hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner.


Posted - 2/19/19 (Tue)


Setting SMART Fitness Goals

Setting SMART Fitness Goals

Hey there! I don’t know about you, but the cold weather sometimes makes it difficult for me to stay focused on my health and fitness when all I really want to focus on is snuggling up on the couch with a hot bowl of soup.


On a similar note, I wanted to talk to you today about setting SMART goals for movement. In my last post, we talked about what “SMART goals” are and what it means to set them.  Now, we're going to extend that information to thinking about how we can set SMART fitness and movement goals.

It's so common for people to want to jump right in and look at the end of their journey. And while Stephen Covey does say, "Begin with the end in mind," you can't just skip right to the end. We have to create benchmarks that keep us focused and motivated throughout our whole journey--and that’s exactly what SMART goals are for.


So how might we go about setting SMART goals for our movement and fitness?

Like we talked about with regard to setting SMART nutrition goals, we have to pick goals that are simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. Here are some statements for example:


Start with: “I’m going to start walking more.”

(This is unspecific, not measurable, and not time-based.)

Change it to:  “I'm going to walk three days this week, then increase to four days next week.”

(You know exactly how many days out of the week you’re planning to walk over the course of the next two weeks. Simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.)


Start with: “I’m going to start running 10 miles before work every Monday through Friday and 15 miles on the weekends.”

(For most us, this isn’t a realistic goal. It’s not achievable and doesn’t have a deadline. We’d be likely to fail, feel guilty, burn out, and go back to our old habits quickly.)

Change it to:  “I'm going to walk 5,000 steps five days out of this week, and then I'm going to walk 6,000 steps five days out of next week.”

(This is a simple, clearly measured goal. Walking 5,000 steps is an easily achievable and realistic number for most people. We have a time-frame: over the next two weeks.)


While it can be tempting to set lofty, long-term goals for yourself, it really is important to choose actions that are achievable and to commit to them for a certain amount of time, and then grow from there. It’s way easier to stick with something if you know exactly what you’re doing for how long. Meeting your milestone on the way to your long-term goal will keep you feeling motivated and excited about your wellness journey.


If you aren’t sure whether your goal is SMART or not, start by asking yourself: is it simple, specific, and clear? Can you measure or track it? Does it have a time-frame? Only you know what’s achievable and realistic for you, so focus on the more objective words in the acronym first if you start feeling confused.


To be clear, your movement goals don’t have to revolve around a step count! If you’re not terribly interested in walking (or if there’s too much snow on the ground where you are), consider setting a goal that involves attending a class regularly. I love reformer-based Pilates, so my goal is to make sure I get to at least three of these classes plus one boxing class per week, for a total of four classes spread across the week. If I can't get to boxing on Saturday for some reason, I simply replace the class with a different sort of interval training during the course of the week. And when all else fails, I know I’ve got my treadmill at home. It’s not super exciting, but it works.


I hope this helps you set yourself up for success with your movement and fitness goals! Drop me a note in the comments below and let me know what your movement goals are!


If you enjoyed this content, please join my free group Never Diet Again, where you can find the community and support you need to achieve your goals.


As always, what I hope for you is to live a life that you love where you're not hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner. Until next time,




Posted - 2/12/19 (Tue)


SMART Nutrition Goals: Start The New Year Off Strong

SMART Nutrition Goals: Start The New Year Off Strong

Hi there! Dawn McGee your nutrition coach here. Today, I want to talk to you about setting SMART nutrition goals. It's a time of year where we all set resolutions and new goals, and our food-related goals are no different: The number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. But that's very vague and nebulous, right? Which is exactly why I teach setting SMART goals to my clients--and why I wanted to tell you all about them today! So, let’s dive right in.


What's a SMART goal?

SMART is an acronym. S is simple, M is measurable, A is achievable, R is realistic, and T is time-based.


Why is it important to set SMART goals?

There's a saying that goes, "A goal without a date is just a wish." If I say, "I want to lose 15 pounds," and I don't have any plan for it or a deadline in mind, then, it's very unlikely that I’ll lose 15 pounds, right? It’s not enough to simply identify our health goals; we need to plan for them and set some rules for ourselves, too.


How can I turn my goals, my dreams, my wishes, my hopes for my nutrition for this year into SMART goals?

Since actions sometimes speak louder than words, here’s an example. I just started a 90-day journey back to good nutrition, for a variety of reasons. Over the last couple of years, I’ve not always been super faithful to my program and to my nutrition. I have not been saying “yes” to me--I've been saying “later.” It's time to start saying yes. So, I’ve set some goals.

My numeric goals are to lose nine percent body fat (about 15 pounds) in 90 days. If we take a look at that, that's my overall goal. How can I aim for something that’s a bit shorter-term, still measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based? This week--week number one of my recommital--I'm focusing on my food foundation, and I'm getting back to clean eating. What am I going to do? I have put together a meal plan for a full day of food that I like, that's clean, that's nutritious, that's going to keep me eating well-balanced meals of protein, fat, and carbs every 3-4r hours, and I plan to repeat that seven days in a row.

Is it terribly exciting? Nope! But it is going to get me focused on my food foundation and back on track. It's simple: I've got the same meal plan for seven days. It's measurable: again, this is my situation for exactly seven days. Is it achievable? This might vary a little from person to person. Admittedly, if I said I was going to stick to this same meal plan for 30 days, that may be unattainable. But for seven? Yeah, I can do that. Is it realistic? One meal plan, seven days. I’m making a few small changes instead of tons of huge changes. It's definitely realistic. And finally, is it time-based? Yep--seven days, no more and no less.

That's how I've turned my first milestone into a SMART goal, and I'm feeling really good about being able to achieve it because I've got a plan in place. That's what happens when we take our wishes and use them to set SMART goals.


As always, if you have any questions or if you’re working on a specific goal right now, drop me a line in the comments! If you’re unsure of how to turn your long-term goals into SMART goals, let me know--I’ll gladly help you shape them into SMART goals so you can succeed.

For more great info like this, grab my Eat, Drink, & Be Healthy Guide.

Until next week, what I really hope for you is that you live a life that you love, without being hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine. Take care.

Posted - 1/31/19 (Thu)


7 Reasons to Hire a Nutrition Coach

7 Reasons to Hire a Nutrition Coach

You Deserve Your Best Life

"It seems so silly and extravagant to use a coach."

Many successful people have coaches - CEOs, athletes, actors, singers - why should you have to go it alone? You are worth it - stack the deck in your favor!

Support, Accountability, Partnership

"I'll never be able to get healthy & fit like I want to! I'll never fit into my favorite clothes again"

When those doubts creep in, your coach is always in your corner to get you up & get you back in the ring!! I've been where you are. You get meal planning assistance, one-to-one personalized sessions with your coach, and so much more.

Modern Virtual Coaching

"I don't have time to work with a coach. I can't even find time to make dinner!"

Technology to the rescue! Your coach will use Skype, text, whatever, to keep you moving forward.

Proven Program, Proven Results

"It's so hard to stick with it."

Your coach starts with a proven, predictable, and safe base program, and from there customizes it so you can stick with it, achieve your goals and take back control of your health.

Real Knowledge Is Power

"There are too many diet options, I can't figure out what's true or false. Why bother?"

You are walking through a minefield of misinformation. Work with someone who has a map. Your coach has the training to help you make meaningful lifestyle changes.

Life is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

"My sister/cousin/uncle lost weight really fast. I'll just do what they did."

One size fits all? NO! Your coach will customize a program for you, based upon your goals, your metabolism, your lifestyle. You didn't get unhealthy overnight; you won't get healthy again with a 'quick fix'.

Life Happens

"I'll just buy that new diet book by "Ms. X" and do it myself."

Everyone will have individual challenges in this process. Your coach will help you shift your thinking and give you the tools so you can break through plateaus and take your health to new levels, for a lifetime!

I can help you succeed!

Contact me now for a complementary 30-minute health assessment

Posted - 6/02/15 (Tue)


Don't Let This Happen To You

Don't Let This Happen To You

Don't let this happen to you!! Today was a day off from school, so we took our time getting going and made a more leisurely breakfast. Egg white omelet with kale, spinach, avocado, tomatoes, and banana peppers. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a relaxing morning, right? Wrong! We waited too long to have breakfast and everyone's blood sugars were low - which makes for cranky people in this house!! Keep your pacing, eat on plan, enjoy your day!! Happy Passover and Easter to all who celebrate!
#FoodieFriday #VNCoach #DMCoach

Posted - 4/03/15 (Fri)


When Was the Last Time You Replaced Your Sneakers?

When Was the Last Time You Replaced Your Sneakers?

When was the last time you replaced your sneakers? I just shifted my workouts to kick it up a notch and my feet were killing me! Well, I'm embarrassed to admit how long it had been since I replaced my sneakers. I got a new pair and I'm good to go!! These are Brooks Adrenaline, but make sure you get fitted somewhere knowledgeable. Consider this my public service announcement for the day. :)
‪#‎WorkoutWednesday‬ ‪#‎DMCoach‬ ‪#‎VNCoach‬ ‪#‎myntfit

Posted - 4/01/15 (Wed)