Don't Think of It as a Diet

Brooke Mars

Personal Training


Don't Think of It as a Diet - Fitness, nutrition, protein, meal planning, healthy eating, balanced diet


Let me start off by saying I am not a nutritionist or a dietician or anything along those lines. I am a certified fitness professional that enjoys reading any and all new material on the latest diet research and trends. Gym members and my clients often ask me nutrition questions and I’m happy to share what worked for me and what I’ve learned from different sources.



Nutrition Tracking

It takes time and it takes honesty. Be honest with the program you’re using and be honest with yourself. To get the most benefit out of tracking what you eat, you need to be as accurate as possible. Maybe this means you have to get out the measuring cups or a kitchen scale—it’s so easy to underestimate when you’re “eyeballing” it.


Personally, I would recommend tracking for at least 7 days, but definitely continue until you feel like you have your calories or macros or whatever you’re tracking under control. I really enjoyed logging each food and then checking to see how it affected my numbers (I tried keeping track of calories as well as macros, which I’ll get more into later).


Yes, tracking your food intake takes a little more time than usual. Yes, your numbers will look much better if you don’t record the half of a pizza you ate after a few beers with your friends. Yes, it can absolutely be frustrating if you keep going over your calories or can’t seem to hit your target numbers. However if you’ve “tried everything” and can’t seem to reach your goals, tracking your food can be the ultimate determining factor.


Keep Food Quality In Mind

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t treat myself to a pint (or an ice cream taco) from Ben and Jerry’s or the occasional donut. Most of the time I follow the rule of trying to only buy foods from the outer aisles of the grocery store. This includes fresh produce, meat, dairy (i.e. things that aren’t processed and don’t come prepackaged in a box or bag).


I was a vegetarian for about 8 years and I’m still very conscious of my veggie intake. While I eat some meat now, I try to have a significant part of my plate be full of fresh (or even frozen) vegetables; they provide nutrients that your body needs and help to fill you up. Win-win!



Figuring Out Your Macros

What are they? In the simplest of terms, they are your proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I found that they were super easy to track in MyFitnessPal. Under "nutrition," there’s a specific macros pie chart where you can set your target percentages. A good starting point might be 30% carbs, 30% fat, 40% protein; adjust your numbers from there week to week depending on how you feel and how it’s affecting your progress.


No, carbs are not the enemy! If you’re working out and including exercise in your weekly schedule, your body gets its energy from carbohydrates. Examples of what I consider to be “happy carbs” might be sprouted grain bread, sweet potatoes, brown rice, or protein pasta (I usually find this in the gluten-free sections of the store). Try to find carb sources that offer added nutritional benefits, not the white flour, bleached, Wonder Bread stuff.



So you’re over your carbs by 12%, or over your allotted calories by 75 or even more—It’s okay! Really, you were pretty darn close and did your best; tomorrow is a new day where you’ll get to try it again and change up what you eat for the day. And even if you’re not close? Keep trying! Ask for help, do some research and look for legitimate sources of information ( is loaded with ideas and is a great place to start). It’s not easy to change your eating habits and it will take time and practice.



Don't Think of It as a Diet

Find foods that you like to eat and that sustain you and make you feel good. To get lasting results, find a way to eat that you can maintain long-term. Cutting entire food groups out completely and then adding them back in often lead to drastic weight fluctuations.


Not to mention feeling unhappy and deprived. It’s not easy going out to eat with friends and watching them eat everything that you’re now “not allowed.” If you know you’re going out with friends later or can’t give up having a naughty midnight snack, plan ahead for it; find a way to fit it into your new healthy way of life.


When you do go out with your friends or treat yourself a little more than you should, please enjoy it! Enjoy every single bite of it and have it in your head that you’re going to get right back to your new eating habits as soon as you’re done.


I often get asked what I eat, some of my favorite things that I eat daily include the following:


Sprouted PB and J

  • 1 slice of sprouted grain bread
  • 1 Tablespoon all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar-free jelly


Sausage and Egg Breakfast Bowl

  • 1 egg + 3 Tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 hot Italian lean turkey sausage
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of any and all extra veggies (onions and peppers are a great go-to, basically whatever is in season)
  • 2 slices sweet potato “toast”


Fill-You-Up Fruit and Yogurt

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, maple, or almond extract
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup fruit of your choice (berries, apple, kiwi, etc.)


Pep in Your Step Protein Shake


Blend together:

  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
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