Category Archive: Nutrition Habits

Sep 30

False Assumptions and Rainbows


Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

I’d like to talk for a minute about false assumptions and rainbows.  


FACTS:  I’m a personal trainer.  

               I’m certified in nutrition.

               I’m pretty good at what I’ll call “bull-dogging”

                             …setting goals and not letting go until I have accomplished them.  


Because of these things, many people assume I must exercise and “eat right” all the time.

  • These are both false assumptions. 


First of all, there is NO right or wrong way to eat!!  What people usually mean when they use those words is that I only eat “low fat, low sugar,  ‘healthy food like fruits and vegetables’.”



Here is the truth about my diet.


Everyday that I’m home {Every. Single. Day.} the first thing I do, when I get out of bed, is eat one frozen chocolate chip cookie and drink a cup of coffee.  I put a splash of Bailey’s in that coffee.  Every. Single. Day.  I’ve been doing this for seven or eight years.  If you want proof of these statements, I can provide references! 


Here are three further facts you need to be aware of though:


(1) It’s only “every day I’m home”, and I’m only home two or three mornings a week.  I spend a lot of time on the road for business.

(2) I don’t have Bailey’s with a little coffee.  I have coffee with a little Bailey’s.  It’s a regular sized cookie – not 3 cookies made into one.  I don’t eat cookies all day.  I don’t stuff my body with fat, sugar, and things like that all day.

(3) I always follow-up my cookie and coffee with a high protein meal (pretty typically either protein waffles/pancakes or an egg white omelet).


Here is the truth about my exercise.



I’m prepping for my first ever powerlifting meet right now.  I work out 4 days a week, normally for 30-45 minutes each time.  I spend that entire time lifting weights. 






I do not get on the stair stepper, elliptical, bicycle, nor treadmill and gut out an hour of cardio.  Ever.  Not because “cardio is bad” no more than “food is bad”.  Not because cardio doesn’t serve a purpose.  Cardio IS good for our heart, lungs, and circulatory system.  I do very occasionally add in a short run, some rowing, go to a class, or do a video both because I like to, and because they’re good for me.   Most of my cardio comes from walking, sprinting, or hiking – because I enjoy those things and – another fact – if I don’t like it, I’m not going to do it.  The same is true for you… 


Hours of cardio is what many people believe is required in order for them to lose weight.  

  • That’s a false assumption.  


Diet and exercise are both critical components of losing weight – AND staying healthy.


Sleep and stress reduction have a lot to do with it too!  Increasing muscle mass is an excellent way to lose fat and reshape the body.



So what does the rainbow have to do with any of this? 


I snapped a photo of the rainbow over my back yard, this morning.  It was only there for a couple minutes, but long enough for me to see it.  Long enough for me to sit on the porch sipping the coffee and eating the cookie my husband made for me, and enjoy its presence. 


It was there long enough for me to think, “I might only come home for weekends but, I’m so glad I DO get to come home for the weekends – to enjoy this place and these things.”   It was there long enough for me to consider the fact that so many people make false assumptions about my “healthy life” and to realize that I wanted to (once again…) share the truth.  The only reason I wrote the blog is because of the rainbow.  Is it waxing poetic to say, “I’ll consider it a little bit of gold”? 


Mar 09

Don’t Follow “All of the Rules”

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch 

3 Simple Tips to Break Free



I received an email a few days ago from a woman desperate for help.  She’s continued to gain weight and is incredibly frustrated.  She feels trapped.  It occurred to me that the response I sent her might also be of value to other people so I want to share that here.



If I were to give you a bit of free, personal advice, my top 3 tips would be these:




A little bit every single day.

Outside is best, and as we move toward spring hopefully that will get easier.

Both literally and figuratively, baby steps ARE still steps.  Small changes tend to be more sustainable over

the long term.




Don’t try to be perfect.  Don’t go on a crazy strict diet.  Don’t detox.  Don’t try to live on salad.  Don’t start exercising 3-4 hours a day.


Pick ONE thing to change for the next two weeks.

Drink more water.  Eat more vegetables.  Make one meal a day “perfect”.


Focus on dinner since that’s where you said you have the most problems. You “don’t like to cook but like a hot meal”. Me too!!!  But you have to get comfortable cooking a little bit.


How about throwing something in the crockpot before you go to work?


How about cooking on Sunday afternoon? I grill a huge package of chicken, scramble up some ground turkey, and steam veggies on Sunday afternoon. I put all of these in individual containers and throw them in the frig. Then, in the evening, I just pop one in the microwave.
Pick a few local places to pick up food on the way home. I love Chipotle (salad with black beans, fajita veggies, chicken, mild and corn salsa is what I order 99% of the time), Panera (just about anything although I normally pick an apple vs bagette) or Applebee’s (shrimp and steak with potatoes and veggies).




Protein (e.g. meet, egg white, protein powder) with every single one of them

Some carbs (veggies mostly, but also fruit and grains) with every one – and

Healthy fat (olive oil, nuts) with at least two.


Scatter in snacks, treats, and the things you love.  Making them “off limits” does nothing but make you want them more.  You are not going to go through the rest of your life never again eating chocolate cake (or…..)



I might also suggest you pick up a copy of one or both of these books:





Both are written by people I’ve personally met, and trust: they’re reasonable, habit based, solutions.

Hope some of this helps. I’m here if you need anything.


Jan 11

Making Work More Healthy

Debbie Hatch |  Family & F.I.T.

I travel a couple hundred days every year.  Occasionally on road trips but more typically by plane.


Yesterday I flew from DC to Los Angeles.  Many people ask how it’s possible to stay fit with so much travel.


Know what, though?  I don’t think it’s harder for me than it is for anyone else.


While my commute might look a little different than yours; while I might get on a plane rather than sit in a car in traffic; while I might work with different people every day in a different location, it’s still “just a Monday morning work day”.


The way I stay fit – and the way you do – is to make myself a priority.  I schedule workouts on my calendar just like I do appointments with my clients.  I keep that commitment.


I keep things as easy as possible.  I’m not interested in a short term “fix”.  I want to be healthy for the rest of my life.


We need to take care of ourselves in order to do good work.


  • I got to the airport early and walked two miles.  Could you add in some time to walk “at work”?  Before?  After?
  • I don’t sit until I’m on the plane.  Do you have the ability to stand up at work a little more than you do now?
  • I drank a bottle of water while waiting.  Adding more water is something we can (and should) all do.  Have a glass before breakfast.  Have one before coffee.  Have one with each meal.  Have one before bed.



I brought snacks and lunch in my bag, merely because I like to be in control of what I eat – vice being at the mercy of the airline.

I adore the fact that airports are offering more healthy choices. Reagan International has fruit – and even a washing station.


Does your work center offer healthy options?  If not, can you bring something in your purse or briefcase?




Lunch on the cross-country flight was a salad from Whole Foods Market, including turkey and egg whites to cover my protein requirements.  And…yup,  water.


I have a bottle before I board the flight, during every lay over, and on each flight.





Staying fit, no matter what your job or life commitments might be, is not complicated.  That’s not to say it’s easy.  But it is simple.


Some suggestions include:


  • Plan your meals for the week – at least some of them.
  • Shop on the weekend – and do some prep work so you’re ready to go on that Tuesday night when you get out of work late and life is crazy.
  • Keep fresh fruits and veggies in your fridge (for me, it’s the mini fridge but, again……otherwise, the same.)
  • Drink water.
  • Have some protein at every meal.
  • You definitely don’t need to live on salads but you should eat a few servings of veggies, every day.
  • Set time to get to the gym (or to walk, attend an exercise class, do yoga, dance, or whatever you like) 3-4 times a week.  Then keep that appointment.
  • Read your  labels and know what one serving is – many times it is not one whole container.
  • Stop eating when you’re full – you are under no obligation to eat everything on your plate.
  • Plan ahead and have some healthy choices in your desk, or for that marathon meeting.
  • Take the stairs vs the elevator.

Healthy employees are more productive too. It’s refreshing to see many work centers focusing a little more on employee health and wellness.


Can you think of any other ways you might make your workday a little more healthy?  I’d love to hear them.

Jan 06

What’s Your Nutritional Plan?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.  

Between posting my dive photo for #GGSFlawless, yesterday, and a question asked in one of the forums I follow.

“What nutrition plan does everybody follow?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about nutritional habits.


I’ve written down everything I eat for as long as I can remember. I have food journals dating back 30 years. No joke!!




I competed in Figure for a number of years and started counting macros – a whole new level of “writing stuff down”.

I did that (to the extreme) for about 5 years. There was good that came of it too. I can eyeball one serving of “this” and 3 ounces of chicken, like nobody’s business. Seriously, one of the reasons I start my clients out counting macros is because most of us have no idea how much (or little) we’re actually eating and we don’t know how much one serving is. Tracking gets you familiar with both.



For the last two – it was Thanksgiving at my son’s house two years ago that I decided not to count my food – I’ve done very little counting or recording.


I still worry about it sometimes.

“Oh my gosh…how many calories have I eaten today?”

“Is my protein on point?”

“How long can I get away without writing stuff down?”


BUT – – I am in the best shape of my life.
Not counting.

Protein Waffles (egg whites& protein powder)        topped with Greek yogurt and fruit.


There ARE certain things I do.

1. I make sure I have some protein with every meal.


2. I have a salad at least once a day (all the veggies, no cheese and typically little to no dressing).
3. I drink lots of water.


4. Before I eat, I check in.  I ask myself, “Are you really hungry? Would you sit down and eat fish and veggies right now?” OR “Are you just in a mood to munch? Do you just want that candy because it’s sitting here?” If I wouldn’t eat the fish, but I would eat the carrot cake, I’m probably not really hungry……

5. I no longer (I was raised this way… was a hard habit to break) feel like I need to clean my plate. I stop when I’m full – not when the plate is empty.

Keep it simple.

Nov 23

Thriving Throughout the Holidays

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


I wrote Part I of this blog on Monday.  It discussed why people worry about “Surviving the Holidays”, and some of the misinformation accompanying that madness from the diet industry.  You can find it here.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-5-42-04-amToday, in Part II, I’d like to give you my Top 10, plus 2 (I’m an over-achiever) ways you might thrive, rather than just survive this holiday season.


In no particular order:


  1. Get some exercise. Not as “punishment” for eating! Rather, because movement is good for your body and soul.  It makes you feel better and it helps digestion.


How do I do it?  I have, historically, done a 5K Turkey Trot in the morning – sometimes organized, sometimes with just my husband, sometimes alone.  It’s not a group that makes the turkey trot, it’s the trotting before the turkey J




  1. Drink some water. Yes, this one again! Here are ten quickie reasons from this article why we should drink water:  (1) If we don’t drink water, we will die…more quickly.  While this should be enough to convince you!!, here are the others.  (2) Various research says staying hydrated can reduce risk of colon and bladder cancer. (3) Be less cranky:  dehydration can affect your mood.  (4) Hydration contributes to increased athletic performance.  (5) It helps you lose weight:  many times we’re actually thirsty when we think we’re hungry (6) Water helps decrease join pain. (7) It flushes out waste and bacteria. (8) Dehydration causes headaches. (9) It’s great for skin – the largest organ in our body!  And (10) It aids digestion.



How do I do it?  After my first cup of coffee, as I’m cooking and working around the house, water will be my drink of choice.  I’ll save the glass of wine for dinner.





  1. Have breakfast. “Saving your calories” for later may seem like a good idea, but it isn’t.  Skipping everything up to the “big meal” makes that meal even bigger!  You’ll be more hungry and therefore, more apt to overeat.



How do I do it? While I will limit snacks until our meal is served, I will have my normal protein and carb breakfast.





  1. Focus on the people, not just the food. Chances are that many of us will be with family and friends.  {Certainly not everyone.  If you’re experiencing the blues, clinical anxiety, or depression – which can all be magnified at this time of the year, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from a qualified mental health professional.}  Spend time having conversations, playing games, and enjoying each other’s company.


222015_1880275359124_5667102_nHow do I do it?  I love the interaction.  I’m the one who suggests a game or asks questions that might be pondered, and give us an opportunity to truly talk.  I’m leery of sitting out snacks during this time.  It’s super easy to eat the entire bowl of peanuts while talking, without even being aware of it.



  1. Fill your plate differently. Start with some type of protein, then add vegetables.  Starch comes last.

How do I do it?  I promise you, I AM going to have a little bit of everything that makes this holiday special to my palate.  I love cranberry sauce, stuffing, and pumpkin pie with – a fair amount of – whipped cream on top. I’m going to start, though, with turkey, carrots, and a little sweet potato.  In re-reading this, I noticed I’ve inadvertently typed “a little bit” and a “little”.  Exactly!!  Priorities first and then just a little bit of everything else.


  1. Stuffing is for the turkey: not you. There is no reason to eat until you are uncomfortable, and chopping on Tums to help with heartburn. You know how that feels and it’s not good.


How do I do it?  See #5, I will start with my turkey and veggies.  I’ll add a spoonful or two of everything else.  Once I’m finished with the plate, I’m going to sit my fork down and wait 10-15 minutes (see #4, I’ll be talking).  At the end of that time, IF I’m hungry, I will get some more.  I will not eat because, “If I miss this opportunity, I will not get mashed potatoes and gravy or those yeast rolls for a whole year…”   Plus, while the pie might have tasted absolutely fantastic on bites 1 – 3, bite 20 has lost some of the original appeal.  I’ll just stop.


  1. Clear the food away right after the meal. If it’s sitting out, you know you will pick. Not because you’re hungry but because it’s there.


  1. Move a little in the afternoon. I know how easy (and typical) it is to eat mountains of food, be too full to move, and crash on the couch in front of the television for the rest of the day. That’s all cool.  But, if you see #6, by not stuffing yourself, you will feel better.  Go for a walk.  Play a little soccer of football with the family.  Then turn on the game.




How do I do it?  This is a perfect time to chase my grandchildren around.  We could go for a walk, ride bikes, check out the playground, or throw rocks at the lake.  The possibilities are endless.  The fresh air is good for body, soul, and digestion too.







  1. Remember that this (one day) is the holiday. We have a tendency to stretch the holidays out and act as though the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is one continual holiday.  When we start eating as if the holiday starts on Saturday (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or even Wednesday), it will continue through Thursday night.  On Friday, there will be leftovers to take care of.  By then, we’ll be getting close to Christmas (Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or Festivus) – and then we’re getting close to New Year’s.  Oh, what to heck?  We might as well wait for January and start fresh at that point.  Sound familiar?


How do I do it?  I enjoy the family time, the meal, and special foods of the holiday.  I don’t turn it into a “season”.  That means Monday – Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I’ll eat my normal, nutritious food.  I won’t have pie until Thursday.  I will freeze some food on Friday rather than thinking I have to eat it all.



  1. Enjoy the food you do eat. Unless you have an impending physical competition, enjoy a piece of your grandmother’s pecan pie or Challah French toast.  Try your sister’s cornbread stuffing, latkes, mincemeat, or egg nog. Those of us fortunate enough to be able to celebrate, should be grateful for the opportunity.  Enjoy family, friends, and yes, food.




How do I do it?  I’ll be mindful of everything I put in my mouth.  I’ll savor each taste and texture. I’ll sit down, or at the very least stand in one place.





  1. Stop eating out of guilt. Just because somebody made this food, and it’s sitting there, doesn’t mean it’s your job to eat all the food!  We all have that pushy co-worker or family member. Don’t make a big deal of it.  Take a little piece of whatever they’re offering if you feel you must.  Have a bite or two but don’t feel like you’re required to eat it all.

How do I do it?  My mom is a pusher! Always has been.  She shows love by baking.  Somewhere along the line, I had to come to the realization that blaming her for the amount I was eating, was just an excuse.  She made the food.  I ate because I wanted to.

I’m just saying

  • Don’t have it just because somebody else is.
  • Don’t complain about your food choices.
  • Don’t play the “poor me, I can’t have that” card.
  • Don’t die-t!!
  • Make consistent nutritional choices for YOU – and own that decision.


  1. Control what you can control. You might not be able to change the crazy hectic schedule but you do have the choice of going back for that second plate of food, or not.  You choose whether you’re going to munch, even when no one else is around.  You can choose to go for a walk.


You can pick 1 or 2 things out of this list and set them as personal priorities for the day.  I would love it if you did!  I would love it even more if you’d share your experience with me.

Nov 21

This BS About Surviving the Holidays

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

The days are shorter.  There’s a nip in the air; although I have to say it seems warmer, everywhere I’ve been recently, than is typical.  The airports were packed yesterday.

It’s the week of Thanksgiving.  Already.


First, let me say this. Many people struggle through the holiday season.  Some are alone and feel isolated; some struggling with money, stress, relationships, or any other number of things.  Some people have lost family members, jobs, homes, or love in the past and the holidays can reopen those wounds.   This may result in a case of the blues, or clinical anxiety and depression.  Please don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from a qualified mental health professional if you’re struggling.  That’s not what this blog is about.


I want to talk specifically about the “Survive the Holidays” madness.  In fact, I have so much to say, I’m breaking this blog into two sections! 


Part I:  The Craziness Itself



If I had a dollar for each of the “survive the holidays diet”, “3-day ‘pre-detox'”, “wrap”, “cream”, “pill”, “powder”, and/or “shake” messages I’ve seen come across my FB feed, in the last couple of weeks, I would have enough to celebrate Thanksgiving on a dive boat in the South Pacific with several of my friends and family members.



I typed, “Survive the Holidays” into Google and netted 18,900,000 results (0.31seconds) and another 338,000 when I added “how to” before that phrase.   And a “pre-detox”?  WTH?  Yup, it turns out that really IS “a thing”. That garnered me 656,000 results.  Check it out on google but keep your money in your pocket.  Your liver, intestines, kidneys, and lymphatic system are your body’s natural detox organs.


But, I digress.  On to surviving the holidays…..


Why do we worry about it?


PARTY!!!  From now until after January 1st, there will be parties, at work and within our other social groups.  It has been proven that we eat more in groups.  Everyone else is eating.  We eat mindlessly – putting food into our mouths, washing it down with tasty beverages, all while we’re talking.  That plate of food is gone before we can even muse, “Yum.  Meatballs!  I need this recipe.”


FOOD!!!  There are tasty treats everywhere.  Pie.  Cookies.  Donuts.  Egg nog.  Mashed potato with gravy and sweets with marshmallows.  Fudge and chocolates.  Wine and spiced cider. Cake.  Stuff we only see at this time of the year, frequently made by people we love.


NO SUN!!!  The days are shorter so we feel less motivated to exercises when it’s dark as we get out of work. Oh my gosh, I’m really struggling with this one!! It’s starting to get cooler – adding that to the early darkness, we feel more like curling up on the couch than going to the gym.  It also leads to craving more warm and hearty foods.  We drink less water than when it’s warmer outside.


STRESS, ANYONE?  We are under more stress to get it “all” done.  We have our regular commitments and responsibilities but now we also need to find time to go shopping, make food for and attend the increased gatherings, and ensure we are actively carrying on family traditions.  Stress increases cortisol which can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, and increase fat storage.

Recipe for disaster



Do we need to worry about it?


I was actually shocked to find that numerous studies, conducted since 2000, show:


Holiday weight gain actually averages 1-2 pounds vice the 5-7 we frequently see reported.  

That said, it’s not all great news.  Even though it’s only 1-2 pounds, we typically don’t shed that extra weight later.  Next year, it’s another 1-2 on top of this, and next year, and next year.  The other thing worth noting is that, while there’s less weight change than many report, there may be increases in body fat.

New Year to Thanksgiving

Asking the right questions:


I.  If studies show the average weight gain is 1-2 pounds, why do we hear higher numbers then?  


II.  A better question might be:  where are you hearing the higher numbers from?


Answer:  Marketing based on fear that YOU will gain 5-7 pounds and you “shouldn’t”.   You’re hearing this stuff from companies that have some type of weight loss or “health related” product to sell you.  Marketing 101.


III.  If you do gain a few pounds, is it a “disaster”?  Probably not.  Will you be thrilled?  Maybe not.  Can you mitigate it starting now though moderation?  Probably.  Can you change it later though consistent application of reasonable nutrition and exercise habits?  Probably so.


Calling it a d.i.s.a.s.t.e.r. might be a tiny bit melodramatic.    



The holidays are times when most of us get to see family and friends we don’t see all the time.  We take more time to relax, chat, talk, and laugh.  These are all fantastic things!

The holidays are not something we should try to “survive”.



Be sure to check in for Part II tomorrow.

That will cover my top 12 suggestions for enjoying the holidays without just surviving them.

Nov 20

No, I’m Not a Jerk But Pay Attention Please

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


As I write this, I feel a strong need to defend myself.  I’m not posting this to be a jerk.

I’m not posting this because I’m judging my seat mate.

Truly.  I’m not.  I’m posting this because you’ve asked for my help.






I’ve said a million times – and I’ll say it again here – just to be clear:

==> I don’t care what you weigh.

==> I don’t care about the size of your pants (or skirt).

==> I don’t believe in diets.  I’ve tried them all.  They don’t work and the rebound of having been on a diet typically leaves a person heavier and more unhappier than they were to start with.




I’m posting this because I do care about the fact that it bothers you.

I’m posting this because we frequently wonder why we’re gaining weight (or inches).  We wonder why we can’t lose.

I’m posting this because we get frustrated and give up on ourselves.



Maybe all we need to do is pay a little more attention.

The word “mindful” has been over-used and over-rated.  We’ve learned to tune it out.

We need to tune it in.




We’re two and a half hours into a four and a half hour flight this morning.  My seatmate, so far, has had two Cokes, a couple packages of peanuts, some cheese crackers, and cookies.





Is she eating because she loves these things?

Is she eating because she’s really hungry?

I’ll be you $100 the answer to both questions is, “no”.


Yet, she’s consumed 600 calories, 26 grams of fat, 88 carbohydrates, and 755 mg sodium merely because the food is here.  Merely because there is someone walking down the aisle asking, “do you want a snack?”

Am I getting into her business?  Nope!

Am I telling her she shouldn’t eat these things?  Certainly not!



Who doesn’t like to take advantage of free snacks? …


… In truth, they don’t even have to be free.


We do the same thing at home.  I’m mean, we’ve all been there at some point haven’t we?  I have!!

We’ll eat the entire bag of chips, the whole box of cookies, all the crackers (NONE of these foods are bad!!!!) merely because they’re there.


We need to find a way to stop this.

We need to become more aware.

Oh, dare I say, “more mindful” if we truly desire change.

It’s hard!


It’s easier than we make it.



Eat your meals.  Try to cut back on snacks.

Drink some water.  Try to cut back on other things.

Incorporate a few more veggies into your day.  Try to cut back on starchy carbs if you don’t have a lot of activity scheduled.

Rather than eating directly out of the package, measure out one serving.  Try not to go back for seconds.

Eat when you’re hungry.  Try not to eat when you’re just upset, thirsty, or bored.



Let me know how I can help.

Nov 15

Was I a Grizzly Bear in a Previous Life?

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


I went out to eat tonight. I was going to say “after a long day” but that’s not really true. It just seems like a long day because the sun was already setting when I walked out of the classroom.

I didn’t need to go out for dinner. There’s plenty of food in my room.  Good, healthy food.  I just didn’t feel like eating it.  Been there?  Done that?


These shorter days bother me – every single year. I’m a “sunny kind of person”! Without it, I’m tired. It feels like bedtime around 6 p.m.

Not joking. I was a grizzly bear in a former life. It's time to hibernate!

Not joking. I was a grizzly bear in a former life. It’s time to hibernate!


My motivation – for anything – really wanes.

Zero.  No, not even zero.  Negative 1,000 motivation.


It’s tougher to get to the gym consistently. It’s harder to finish anything (everything), and I start craving comfort foods. Ugh.


So, yup, I went to a local Italian (my fav!!) restaurant.

Add this seasonal change, a craving for comfort food, and the fact that a lot of people already struggle when they go out to eat – triple whammy.


“What should I eat when we go out?” is among the top 5 questions I get from people. It either makes us anxious


We go out to eat, over do it, and then feel guilty, or both.


First, you should never feel guilty about food.


It doesn’t change what you’ve already eaten. It only makes things worse.  Guilt can lead to binging and an all or nothing mindset.   You’ve eaten it.  Okay, so what.  Don’t make matters worse by thinking,”Well, if I’ve already eaten all of that…..might as well get the chocolate lava cake and a kailua and cream, too.  What difference does it make now?”

Please don’t.  Be done.  Move on.  No guilt.  No shame.


As for the anxiety you might feel before going out to eat, it can help to have a plan.

Here are three things that might make things a little easier.



Do you know what’s on the menu?  When I can (and it’s not always possible) I like to look at the menu on line and decide what I’m going to get before I walk into the restaurant.  This means there’s less of a chance I’m going to walk in the door and order whatever the next table is having.




Can you set one or two specific goals for yourself before you go?  Stick to those goals and let the rest of the evening just happen.

This is not an exhaustive list but some examples might include:



  • I’m going to start with a salad.
  • As soon as I sit down, I’m going to ask the waitress not to bring the bread basket.
  • I’m going to start by drinking a large glass of water.
  • I’m going to order mixed vegetables instead of a potato covered in sour cream, or French Fries.
  • I’m going to get an appetizer (or two) as my meal.
  • I’m going to make sure I get some protein.  If I can choose something that isn’t breaded or deep fried, that would be best.
  • I’m going to get that pie I love so much but I’m going to share it with the person who’s going with me.
  • I’m going to only have one glass of wine.
  • I’m going to focus on the conversation and not just the food.
  • I’m going to eat slowly and stop when I start to feel satisfied rather than waiting until I feel full (or stuffed).



Are you comfortable determining how much you’re going to eat rather than feeling like you need to eat everything the restaurant puts on your plate?  Servings, and plates, are frequently larger when we go out to eat.




What rules did I have tonight?  I wanted to get some vegetables and protein.  I didn’t want fried or battered food.  I’d never been here before and didn’t look at the menu before arriving.



I ordered the unstuffed mushrooms for an appetizer.  Crabmeat and shrimp mixed with some cream cheese, garlic, green onions, and mushrooms, topped with a light cracker crust.  I ate half of it and asked the waitress to box the other half.  I didn’t have bread.  I did have a glass of water.  I didn’t worry about the cream cheese or cracker crumbs.  Who cares.  Those weren’t in my rules for tonight.



For my entree I ordered grilled chicken and mushrooms.  It was cooked in a wine reduction (didn’t worry about it).  I had a choice of soup or salad.  I picked salad with balsamic dressing on the side.  I had a choice of baked potato, garlic mashed, french fries or broccoli.  I picked broccoli.  The plate of food was very large and easily two servings – so I put half on my smaller plate (from the appetizer) and sat the other half off to one side for the waitress to box up.


Aug 21

“Enjoying Yourself” Doesn’t Mean Eating to the Point of Being Miserable

Family & FIT  |  Debbie Hatch


In his “defense”, it WAS Christmas. <3

“I’ve been doing well on my nutrition but I’m going out to eat with my family on Saturday. I’m worried about it. How can I stay on track?”


*** Enjoy time with your family. ***

Talk. Laugh. Don’t worry too much about the food. Now, that doesn’t mean every time you eat outside your home, it has to be a free-for-all, stuff yourself to the point of being uncomfortable, see how many calories you can eat, event.

A few days ago I stopped at The Barn Door Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. I was not with family or IMG_6050friends. It was just me – but I eat the same way regardless. This is not advice. It’s also not preaching. It’s merely an example of what I do 95% of the time.


1. I started with a glass of water, and I also ordered one of unsweetened tea.



2. I got a salad to start. I try to take in multiple servings of veggies every day. A salad is a quick and easy way for me to do that. I go light on the dressing, if I use any at all. Lucky for me I love the taste of fresh veggies!!! Here their house was a “Green Goddess” dressing which was a Cucumber Garlic. It was delicious.  IMG_6051




3. They brought rolls to the table. While not as much as I used to, I do still love fresh (warm) bread so I ate half a roll, with butter, along with my salad. Eating the rest – or more than one would not have made it taste any better.




IMG_60524. I ordered the bacon wrapped filet (the smallest they offer is 8 ounces – that’s actually two servings of meat) so I cut it in half as soon as it was delivered to the table. I substituted zucchini for the potato. Not because “potatoes are bad”. Not because “carbs are bad”. It had been a travel day for me and I’d spent most of the day sitting on the plane or in the car. I didn’t want or need the additional carbs (veggies are carbs, the 1/2 roll I ate is carbs, the croutons, etc) for that level of activity. The meal also came with a vegetable – I picked green beans. I split the veggies in half too and brought 4 oz of steak, zucchini and green beans with me for the next day’s lunch.




5. The steak was served on top of half a slice of bread – which absorbs the grease and drippings. I did not eat that. See #4 above. Just because the restaurant chooses to serve something doesn’t mean I have to eat it.  




I left satiated and happy. I wasn’t stuffed. I didn’t eat more than my body wanted just because it was sat in front of me. I also didn’t starve myself or leave feeling, “I wish I had just ordered this or that.”



Let me know if you have any questions or need suggestions.

Jul 30

All Bars are Not Created Equal

Family & FIT  |  Debbie Hatch

Vending machine

I’ve seen vending machines that contain protein bars and drinks popping up in various gyms.
This is great from the perspective of convenience.
As is always the case though, it’s a good idea to read the label and be aware of what you’re consuming.


I bought both of these bars, to throw in my suitcase, the other day.  Both boast 20 grams of protein on the label.


At 2.47 ounces, the EAS bar is slightly larger but the 2.12 ounce Quest bar prominently advertises “Only 2 he sugar” and “Gluten fee” – buzz words in today’s market.



You don’t “need” either.  When I work with health & fitness clients, my plans always include this paragraph:


Protein bars should be used for the emergency “I’m running really late, starving, and don’t have a lot of options” moments but whole food is always best. Ditto protein powders. They’re an excellent way to get nutrients and add protein (especially post workout) but try to focus on food.


About these two bars.  The EAS is 280 calories with 11 grams of fat and 29 carbs, as well as 14 grams of sugar and 220 milligrams of sodium.  This Quest is 200 calories with 9 grams of fat, 21 carbs, 2 grams of sugar and 200 mg sodium.  For most of us, these would (or at the most, should) be meal replacements, not just a “snack” on the way out of the gym, to immediately be followed up with a full meal.

The currently very popular Oh Yeah! bars stand on level ground with the EAS and Quest:  about 20 grams of protein, 7-9 fat, and 21-24 carbs.  Let’s look at some of the others in these vending machines.  None are “bad” – I just want you to be aware of the differences.


LarabarLaraBars are much smaller; only 60 – 75% of the others.  Heavily advertised with all of the marketable terms:  “Kosher.  Vegan.  Non-GMO.  Soy-Free.  Dairy Free.  Gluten Free.”

If these things are important or necessary to you (and for some, they are), that’s great.  For most of us, though, these are not actually requirements but merely words that we think make the product “healthy” or “better for us”.


These small bars have about the same amount of calories and carbs but they have 10 grams of fat and only 4 grams of protein.  Again, let me emphasize the fact that I’m not saying they’re “bad” but they most certainly are also NOT protein bars.


Cliff Bars are another popular choice and I’ve seen these in several locations.

Clif Bar

One bar equals 240 calories with only 3.5 grams of fat but only 9 grams of protein, a whopping 45 grams of carbohydrates and 3 different types of added sugar.  Call it an energy bar, please, not a protein bar.


Tiger’s Milk was one of the first protein bars, first introduced in the 60s, but it’s still hanging around.  At half the size of my Quest bar, it contains 145 calories with 8 grams of fat, and only 6 of protein.  High fructose corn syrup is the first ingredient; followed by peanut butter and then corn syrup.  There are numerous bars with twice the protein and better ingredients and taste.


Make whole food your priority.  Keep the bars for your “emergency stash” – like your suitcase, purse, or desk drawer.  Please read your labels, and let me know if you have any questions or need help.






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