The 4 Biggest Health + Fitness Myths You Need to Stop Believing Right Now

4 biggest health and fitness myths you need to stop believing right now

It’s no surprise to anyone that the health and fitness world is one with LOTS of noise. The problems in this industry range far and wide, from old science and just BAD information, to assaulting you with you with “shoulds” every minute of every day, to preying on your own insecurities to make you feel guilty or ashamed of your body or your lifestyle. As such, there’s A LOT of things I could rant on here (and I tend to address some of these points in most of my posts here on this blog), but today I wanted to focus on the following four, as these misconceptions can leave us feeling broken, hungry, frustrated or, at worst, sick. And notably, all of these are coming from industry leaders.

Because even as most of us become more knowledgable, more confident, and more aware of the fitness and nutrition industry nonsense machine, a few messages still seem to be getting through that I wish my readers (and everyone!) would stop believing.

And of course, all of these could be their own post (or book!), so I’m touching on the most important points briefly. You ready? Here goes.





This one can be confusing, because not only is it age old advice that we’ve all heard in some capacity a million times over from doctors and nutritionists and magazines and even our coaches or trainers, but it CAN actually work for some people.

For some folks, all they need to do to change their health, body and life is to begin to move more, and mind what they're eating; usually dropping their daily caloric intake and going for a run. These people are usually severely overweight, untrained, sedentary, or otherwise totally new to their own health journey. As such, this advice can be impactful for this population, at least for some period of time.

However, if you have been training for a while, are a regular exerciser or a regular intense exerciser (hello, CrossFitters!), this strategy simply does not work. At some point, being on a severe caloric deficit actually begins to work AGAINST you, and if you’re trying to fix it by training even more and eating even less, you will not only feel it in the gym and in your overall energy levels, but you'll probably see it on your waistline too.

The path to a hard body, a healthy gut and a happy mind is paved with smart training and sufficient fuel. Not lettuce for dinner and 3 hours of cardio. In fact, spending hours on end at low or moderate intensity (jogging, etc) can also be working against you. Want to get lean and strong? Ditch the cardio and pick up the weights. And eat to support your training.

Eating more can be a scary thing for a lot of women, because the industry has told us it's wrong or bad. The best place to start to ensure you’re eating enough to support your muscle, fat loss efforts, energy levels and overall health and well being? Enough carbs and adequate protein. (And no, I don’t just mean 2 eggs for breakfast and a yogurt snack pack). This leads us into myth #2.


More reading on this topic: 

Cardio vs strength training: which is better for fat loss?

All about macros

Why eating less is sabotaging your weight loss efforts

Watch: How eating MORE can get you closer to your goals




Years and years ago, there used to be a concept swirling around in the nutrition world that said that a human body can only absorb 20-30g of protein in one sitting, and all protein consumed beyond this point would either go to waste or be stored as fat. These days, this is widely understood to be a myth (any quick Google could tell you that— this topic is WELL researched, with many definitive studies), but yet I STILL see it being perpetuated in some circles. This can be especially misleading and confusing for those who are trying their darnedest to up their protein intake and properly address myth #1. You're eating too much, you need to eat more. You need more protein, you're eating too much protein.. So, let’s talk.

First of all we need to remember that protein does a hell of a lot more than just support our gainz. Studies have shown that 20-30g of protein seems to be the amount that tends to be used towards protein synthesis, or muscle repair and building, and about how much we absorb at any given time. But just because we don't absorb it ALL AT ONCE doesn't mean it doesn't eventually get absorbed and used! Our body’s use for protein does not begin and end with muscle building. And most studies on this topic have shown that upward of 90% of the protein you eat, eventually gets absorbed and gets put to good use in one way or another. 

(But on the topic of muscle building, studies on intermittent fasting and protein consumption have shown that consuming an entire day’s worth of protein in a short window did not negatively impact muscle retention and growth, which further shows us that protein absorption was not hindered by high intake all at once).

And evolutionarily speaking, how could that really make sense? When our primal ancestors hunted and feasted on a rare animal protein, do you think their bodies simply stopped absorbing more than a neat little 3 oz serving at one time? Um, no. As Mark Sisson puts it, "Digestion takes a long time, and it’s not a segmented procession of different meals through the gastrointestinal tract. Food isn’t separated into 'meals' in your stomach. It’s just all food, all mashed together. If you still have breakfast in your stomach when your lunch enters the picture, lunch and breakfast will meet and mingle."

Now, I will say there's a variability element to consider here. For example, a petite, 5’ 2” 100 pound sedentary woman might not absorb and utilize the exact same amount as a 250 lb, 6’ 4” strongman competitor or linebacker, because your body will absorb and use what it NEEDS— it doesn’t just stop at some arbitrary number or "meal". (And how much do you really need? That's a huge source of confusion, too. But no. it's NOT the RDA, and no, you're not getting enough. Read this & the links below). 

Other factors, like your protein sources and your body’s levels of micronutrients like zinc (along with anti-nutrients like lectin and phytate) also play a role in absorption. And wild excess CAN start to work against some bodies at some point, just like anything else (we’re talking WILD excess though).

The research and science is clear here. So can we put this myth to rest already? Your body will use ANY amount of protein you feed it in a sitting, somehow, someway, so always be sure you're getting enough.

Read more on this topic:

How much protein should I be eating?

The benefits of a high protein diet

Why protein is so important beyond muscle growth


4 biggest health and fitness myths you need to stop believing right now



So I do want to preface this section with this: I am a firm supporter of the Do You Boo system. Meaning, if plant based makes you feel fucking radiant, then do it. I also realize that some people choose this eating style for a variety of reasons, like simple taste or texture preference, and I understand that. This is mostly for those who feel like they NEED to be plant based in order to be healthier

If you are opting to go without any animal products (or animal protein) simply based on the claim that this is the superior diet for ultimate health, I encourage you do some more reading on this topic.

(And there’s no denying the health benefits of plants here— I’m NOT suggesting you stop eating veggies! We must make sure we are getting adequate greens and micronutrients in a large variety and volume on a daily basis for our health, period. But if we stop there, we are coming up short.)

Because there's SO MUCH to unpack in this topic, and the rabbit holes run DEEP down every single argument to this claim, I decided to just offer some extra reading for you here, if you're interested. Again, do what makes YOU feel BEST. 

But I do want to say this, as it builds off out last 2 myths: If you are attempting to sustain yourself on solely plant based protein sources, man alive have you got your work cut out for you. Adding hemp seeds to your salad just isn’t going to cut it. If getting TRUE adequate protein while eating chicken breast and steak is a lot of work, can you image how hard it is to get there with seeds and grains alone? (Which, btw, aren't protein sources, they are fat and carb sources, respectively, with a little protein).

And while there are some legit plant based protein sources, most of the popular ones actually work against internal health: namely things like soy, grains and legumes.

There is no one diet that is perfect for everyone and I encourage you to experiment with everything to find what works for you, but if you're feeling pressure and think "plant based is the only route to health", you need to know that this concept is simply false.

Read more on this topic:

Plant based protein vs animal protein

Why quality of animal protein matters

More protein, better protein, from an RD

What about sustainability and ethical considerations?

What about that popular new Netflix flick?

How do herbivores get so muscular then?

Also see: any book from my favorites shop

4 biggest health and fitness myths to stop believing right now



Lastly, we have another popular belief that drives me crazy to see, especially as a coach! Closely related to the first myth, "move more, eat less", this idea that you have to push your body to it’s absolute limits to either see results, be healthy or fit, or that rest days are for the weak, is not only misleading and wrong, but downright dangerous.

More is NOT better. The concept of “minimal effective dose” is an important one to keep in mind when it comes to intense exercise. Meaning, while movement and pushing your limits is great for your body and mind and health, it can absolutely be taken too far. Getting in the minimum effective dose (one that brings you fitness and health and mental clarity and makes you better) is essential, but taking it beyond that starts to erode a few very important systems-- and ultimately, your health.

Because at the end of the day, what your body sees this as, is STRESS. Your body doesn’t know the difference between stress from work, from that fight with your partner, from that one rep max back squat, from that epic to do list, and that half marathon you ran last weekend. It all gets processed the same.

This doesn’t just make us feel tired-- it actually sets off a “cascade of biochemical responses that can cause serious damage to one’s health in both the short and long term”, as Chris Kresser puts it.

This idea of bragging about “no rest days” or pushing our bodies so hard we get ill makes me CRINGE. It is not cool, not “hard core” or disciplined or impressive, and most certainly not a healthy relationship to exercise. If you are feeling like you are addicted to your training (or stimulus); if you struggle to take a rest day; if you're training like a pro but you're not a pro; if the thought of going a week or 2 months without your exercise of choice sends you into a panic; then you really need to take a long, hard look here.

Movement is so important to health, and I believe firmly in the benefits of a tough, physical challenge and regular exercise. But there's a fine line between training hard and overtraining, or even exercise addiction. How many rest days are you taking and how often (not "active recovery"). How much and how well are you sleeping? Are you allowing for quieter seasons or pushing hard 24/7?

It's important to know the distinction between pushing hard and muscle burn/fatigue, vs a real injury or pushing too far to stay safe and illness/injury free. And you must be recovering JUST as hard as you're training if you intend to see any lasting results from your hard work.

 And it's always a good idea to take an honest look at our relationship to exercise, and ask ourselves if it's truly serving us with how we are using it.

More reading on this topic:

Are you addicted to exercise? 

The three stages of overtraining  

Why you may need to exercise less

Embracing the seasons of your fitness journey



Ditch the hamster wheel and pick up some weights. Eat! Be sure you're getting enough fuel to support your training and build strong bones and lean muscles, especially protein. And yes your body will absorb and use it all, so don't skimp. Don’t be pressured into thinking that plant based is superior to omnivorous diets-- while it's not for everyone, eating high quality animal products and protein IS part of a healthy diet. Train with intensity, not intense volume, and be sure it’s fun. Four hours of cardio every day is not effective and likely woking against you in myriad ways. Rest and recovery is JUST as important as your exercise, and should come at a 1:1 ratio. And, don't fear the slower seasons. More isn't better. Better is better.

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Is Happy Hour Holding Your Fitness Goals Hostage?

How alcohol is holding your fitness goals hostage

I feel like the parents who just came home early from vacation to find their teenager hosting a super fun party at their house. I'm SO SORRY to break up the party, but if I've gotta be the uncool buzz kill in order for you to better understand how to reach your health goals, so be it.

I get it. I love a good drink too. I REALLY do. But before you start sending hate mail, hear me out. I do want to make it perfectly clear up front that YES, it is absolutely possible to drink occasionally and be a fit, healthy, happy person. I'm not trying to scare you or send a single tear down your cheek in mourning of your nightly glass (or 2) of wine.  

What I am trying to do is bring a little tough love and information to the table here, and let you know that if you have serious fitness, body composition (read: fat loss), or overall health + wellness goals that you're intent on actually reaching, this is something you're going to need to hear. And please note that I would NEVER want to tell you that you have to live a boring, unfun life in exchange for your fitness goals. Forcing yourself into a shitty, unsustainable life for the sake of a few lbs is never a good strategy. I am merely bringing some hard facts to light that you can choose to do what whatever you please with.

Because the truth is, for an incredibly large population of people, cutting back on the booze for a stretch of time is the single most effective thing they could do to catapult them towards their goals. I'm always a little surprised when I find out just how much most people drink on a regular basis, and while I always say YOU DO YOU BOO, I also want be sure that you know exactly what it is you're actually doing when you crack a beer at the end of your work day or down more than 2 drinks more than 2 or 3 times a week, especially when you're training hard and/or looking for some results.

So take a seat, brace yourself, and read about how that happy hour might be working against you. (And be sure to make it all the way to the bottom because I'm sharing some exciting news with you!)

is alcohol holding your fitness goals hostage



Here's the deal: that glass of wine is royally fucking with your body's metabolism and it's ability to burn fat. Your body can't store booze, so it prioritizes metabolizing it at the cost of everything else. It messes with your blood sugar regulation and its ability to create and maintain healthy levels of glucose in your blood stream, which isn't really helping the situation either.

Basically your body becomes completely obsessed with being able to metabolize (and ultimately get rid of) the booze as fast as it can; this takes top priority and your normal fat burning gets completely stopped during this process. Which makes it pretty easy to see that if you are having cocktails or IPAs a few nights a week, you are literally putting a freeze on your fat loss efforts

Not only are you keeping your progress firmly where it is, but you are likely actually moving the needle in the opposite direction altogether. The calories per gram in alcohol is 7, which is (if you read my post about macros, you'll know is) close to same amount of calories per gram as fat. Except that fat comes with real, vital nutrition for your body, and alcohol comes with nothing except for high quality texts to your ex. (No thank you).

This is where the term "empty calories" comes from. You're taking in a pretty substantial amount of cals and absolutely zero nutrition to accompany it. In fact, many of those mixers and juices that you're mixing with your booze is only adding (LOTS of) sugar to the equation, so you can really begin to see how fast these things add up-- and ultimately cost you your ability to lose body fat.

(And I haven't even touched on the fact that drinking also makes you hungry and lowers your inhibitions all at once, setting you up for less than awesome food choices on top of all of this metabolic disfunction, cuz you already knew that).

In short, each drink is basically a Snickers bar going down the hatch. Is there a time and place for Snickers and drinks? Um, duh. But:

There's no two ways about it, friends. If you're trying to lose body fat, going dry -- or damn near! -- for a stretch is your golden ticket. Period.




Booze is a diuretic which means that it not only gives you a headache and makes you pee 84 times an hour (TYSM), but it subsequently dehydrates your body. And you know what really doesn't like to be dehydrated on a regular basis? Those guns. Your muscles need to be well hydrated in order for protein synthesis to go down. Otherwise, just like those fat loss efforts, this process gets completely put on hold.

The other thing that drink is doing, whether you realize it or not, is interfering with your sleep. By now we ALL now how absolutely earth-shatteringly PARAMOUNT sleep is to your recovery, right? Right?! Not only does it make your actual sleep less sound in general, but it interferes with the natural muscle repair process that's supposed to happen during that time. 

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. The way alcohol fucks with your metabolism, hormones, sleep and protein synthesis, can also make your energy levels crash faster than Friends spinoff show, making it way harder for you to perform your best and give all you've got in your training sessions.

If you're putting in the time and the effort in the gym, but not seeing or feeling the results that you feel like you should be, this could be the culprit. And if you're training especially hard, and are making a bee line for a fitness or strength goal, booze not only isn't helping you-- it's actually holding you back.

alcohol and fitness



Aside from all the physical components to regular drinking that are contributing to either stalling or reversing your fitness and health goals, we need to look a bigger issue in the eye here:

What role is alcohol playing in your life? Is it filling an emotional void? Is it a coping mechanism? Is it your go-to way to deal with stress? Is it the only way you can feel comfortable in social situations? Is it an outlet for something bigger than you're not properly addressing?

Because chances are good that if you have a hard time limiting this behavior, it's not just because you "really enjoy it". It could be covering up, feeding into, or compounding a much bigger issue. 

If you take the time to ask the hard questions here and look at what might be really going into WHY you feel like you need to reach for a drink as often as you do, you'll be one BIG step closer to being able to find yourself an alternative that will actually support your goals. And likely make you a whole lot happier, to boot.

***If you need help asking or answering these questions, I've got some good news for you!  THE NUTRITION LAB kicks off on Monday, 9/11, and we are facing these questions and lots more. It's a 5 week, in depth, step by step program to get you to stop guessing and fighting with food, to finding you totally happy place, freedom and balance. Learn more here:

Registration closes on Saturday 9/9, so don't miss out!


So party people, the bottom line is this: Is there a way to enjoy alcohol as part of a happy, balanced, healthy life? Hells to the fuck yes. And I've been known to throw some tequila + sodas back like it's going out of style, myself. But I do it with intention, with the knowledge of how it's affecting my body, and with enough rarity that I don't let it squash my wellness goals.

And hey, if you're content trading in your fitness goals in exchange for happy hour, the more power to you, and far be it from me to say that's not ok! Seriously. Because again, I'm not trying to get you to trade in the enjoyability of your life in exchange for those last 5-10 lbs (did you read this post I shared on my IG?). But I hope you'll be honest with yourself how and WHY you're using it, and remember that if you're on a mission, alcohol is not helping you hit your goals, plain and simple. And the more you drink (both in frequency and in volume), the more you actually risk undoing all your hard work.

Do with this information as you will, friends. Cheers.


How Going Paleo Changed My Life, and Why I'm Not "Paleo" Anymore

I don’t really remember when it started, but I remember everything I did to try to fix it; the dozens of doctor appointments, the daily pills, and even the time I was put under anesthesia and had a camera stuck down my throat and into my stomach. I remember the gastrointestinal specialist who looked me square in my 22 year old face and told me that the only place he’d seen acid reflux as bad as mine was on overweight, middle aged men. He then told me I was a perfect candidate for esophageal surgery, and that that was likely my only hope to fix the constant pain of my severe GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Heartburn and GERD were things I had been dealing with for years. Almost 10 years, to be exact. I saw all the doctors, avoided acids and citrus and tomatoes, and was on a solid regiment of 2 Prilosec per day, for almost a decade. 

Fast forward to 2012, a few months after I had started CrossFit. I found a Groupon on a whim and decided to give CrossFit a try, as I was decidedly in “get my shit together” mode and it seemed like my style of workout. After totally drinking the Kool-Aid, seeing myself lose a bunch of weight, gain new muscle, make huge improvements and strides and PR’s for several months, and even quit smoking in an effort to be better and healthier, after about a year, progress sort of plateaued— as it does. The time had come to take a look at my nutrition.

I gave it a shot, even though I didn't know what could possibly change, because I was already doing everything “right”. I was eating a low fat, near vegetarian diet with lots of whole grains, after all. I decided to hire a professional to help me dig to the bottom of why I had stopped losing weight and getting better in the gym.

My health coach (as some of you OG She Thrives readers will know as Morgan), introduced me to the Paleo lifestyle, and I could not believe what I was seeing. You mean I get to eat butter, bacon (and bacon fat!), and all the things I’ve been trying so hard to limit my entire life?! Not only do I get to eat it, but it’s actually GOOD for me?! 



It was a revelation. A fucking delicious revelation. I was obviously really into it.

I stepped up my sourcing game and started eating meat again; meats had to be pasture raised or grass fed; I started taking a probiotic and ate things like sauerkraut; I started eating nutrient dense carbs like sweet potatoes and squash instead of rice and pasta.

But what I thought was most interesting of all, was not quite the deliciousness that I was adding IN to my diet, but the things that I was taking OUT. 

I cleaned out my pantry and threw out every bag of baking sugar and flour, all the oatmeal, the granola bars and Kashi cereals. I tossed the Diet Coke, the boxes of pasta, the cans of beans, the tortilla chips. I threw out the bags of edamame and bottles of soy sauce.

I stopped eating all grains and legumes and soy; I stopped eating dairy; I developed a very discerning eye on the very few remaining processed foods left in my kitchen and only the “clean” ones stayed; I cut way back on alcohol to almost none; added sugars only appeared in my diet in a few places, and only if they were natural or naturally occurring. I completely stopped consuming any form of industrial oils, and tossed every bottle of canola oil or vegetable oil based products in my home.

Actual photo of a fraction of my pantry clean out: the baking cabinet.

Actual photo of a fraction of my pantry clean out: the baking cabinet.


And things changed. BIG things changed. I was feeling more full and satisfied after every meal. My energy skyrocketed and I started to see and feel it in the gym. I was leaning out again. And most shocking of all, my heartburn completely ceased to exist. It was just— gone. Done. Over. Not a thing. I had finally cured the core issue: a leaky gut and low stomach acid (yeah, that's right). I threw my remaining Prilosec in the trash and haven’t looked back in over 4 years.

Note: If you're interested in how mainstream science has it backwards when it comes to heartburn/GERD, and how to TRULY fix the issue instead of applying a band-aid, read this ebook from Chris Kresser.

I also realized that I was highly sensitive to gluten, and developed atrocious bloating, digestive issues and abdominal discomfort after even a bite, and I couldn’t believe I had been eating gluten almost every day of my entire life.

A sampling of some of the dozens of books i pored through- still some of my FAVORITE recommendations!

A sampling of some of the dozens of books i pored through- still some of my FAVORITE recommendations!

In fact, I shuddered to think what I had been putting my body through all those years without ever realizing it.  Without so much as even questioning it! It was startling, scary, and truly life changing.

Seeing and feeling the benefits of this way of eating threw me into total fascination, and I embarked on a journey to learn every last thing I could about the Standard American Diet, the flaws in mainstream nutrition science, and how this alternative approach could change millions of lives-- and especially the entire autoimmune illness industry. I pored over articles and studies and books, and soaked it all up. 

Fun Fact: This is the start of how this blog was born!



After about a year of living decidedly “paleo”, I was sold on its benefits and was profoundly grateful for finding it and allowing it to change my life in only the best ways. Eventually, though, I found myself reaching for a handful of tortilla chips here, or a sprinkling of cheese there, or a bowl of popcorn, or even a rogue processed food, like frozen meatballs or a protein bar. 

I realized that I could eat these things without a negative reaction, and my body and mind handled them just fine. (Not gluten though— that one was out for good). I also realized that a different macro ratio, namely, going a lower fat and higher carb than the "paleo purists" recommend, worked best for my body.

But what I also realized was that I was eating under a label. I was in a category, following a protocol, where there were rules, and where you could do it wrong (“that’s not paleo”). I realized that I could take the valuable lessons I learned and the knowledge I gained (not only about nutrition science at large but about my own body), and using that to forge my own, more inclusive diet.

I will also say that it's widely understood in the paleo community that "paleo" is merely a template, for you to be able to build on to create your own specific plan, but:




I still steer clear of industrial oils, but don’t panic when I see canola oil on an ingredient list— I just don’t eat that thing so often, and I buy mayos made from avocado oils instead. I don’t believe sugar (refined or otherwise) is the devil incarnate, but I personally don’t eat a lot of it (some days are better than others), and I think the SAD does include much too much for most people. I find that adding grains like corn and rice to my day make me feel great, but I still steer clear of gluten and quinoa, because those make me feel terrible. I still don’t eat soy in my own home, but will definitely hit up the edamame plate when we go out for sushi (though I dip the sushi in GF tamari). I still am watchful of ingredient lists but have removed the word “clean” from my food vocabulary.

I also learned that well sourced meat is always important, that saturated fat is nothing to fear, and that I can absolutely live without some of the things I thought I couldn't live without.

I still eat with my gut health in mind, but don’t fret if I don’t do it perfectly. 

And that there is the key word: Perfect. When you are eating a way that involves rules, right and wrong, and in or out, you're hoping to follow some idea of perfectionism, and you are ultimately setting yourself up for failure. 

I cannot stress how valuable this template was for me and my life, and how it is the FIRST thing I recommend (or doing a whole30, same same), to anyone beginning (or is lost on) their health journey, and is also a super smart “reset”, if needed. I think eliminating the junk and the noise, allowing your body to heal itself from the inside out, and creating the ability to actually HEAR your body when it says it doesn't like something, is something everyone should do at least once. (How would I have ever known about my reaction to gluten if I didn't stop it entirely?) And I think questioning mainstream nutrition science is a good thing— a really good thing.

But I also think that unless you have a specific health condition that requires you to follow the protocol to a T, it’s not a way you’ll eat for the rest of your life. 

And that’s ok. 

Your happy place with your diet should fall in territory that doesn’t make you feel restricted or deprived; that doesn’t make you feel like you can do it right or wrong; like you are or aren't following the rules; it shouldn’t put you in a box or give you a label.

After a while of explaining my diet as “a loose interpretation of the paleo template”, I decided to distance myself from the word altogether. The way I eat is mine and mine alone (and the same can be said for you), and I don’t need anyone telling me I’m doing it right or wrong.

And yes, between the Standard American Diet and the Paleo Diet, my diet definitely falls much closer to paleo— that’s for sure. But maybe it’s my rebel tendencies, but I just don’t like a label on there, and I think you’d be much more likely to find your own happy balance with food if you did the same: ditch the label, the right and wrong, the good and bad.

Yes, paleo changed my life, and yes I would absolutely recommended it without a shadow of a doubt to anyone who needs a place to start in their health journey, or who is suffering from ailments that are likely caused or worsened by certain foods (like heartburn, or migraines, or joint pain or digestive issues, or acne or eczema, to name a few). If you’re on the fence about trying it, my recommendation would still be YES. It yields such valuable information about your body that you might not ever learn otherwise. How are you supposed to find your ideal diet if you don’t have that knowledge?

And that's precisely the goal: finding your own body's ideal diet. The one that makes it feel the most vibrant, the one that allows your mind to settle in to a good place, the one that keeps you feeling strong, and well fed and happy.

But I would be remiss to recommend it (or anything!) as a permanent fixture, as the only way, or as the right way. The diet that’s right for you is one that is unique to you and you only, and it probably won’t be able to fit into a neat little box.

If you are looking for help finding YOUR body's ideal diet, that doesn't involve rules or right and wrong, I am currently developing a program that will be released in the next month or two that you might be interested in!

I will teach you how to find the foods that make you feel best, the amounts of those foods that allow you to perform optimally, and also teach you to reframe your mindset so that you can CHOOSE those foods on a consistent basis.


If you ARE looking to try out an anti-inflammatory, gut healing diet or other elimination diet, these resources are my first recommendations.





Travel Tips: Staying on Track When You're Out of Your Routine

Traveling can oftentimes wreak havoc on our health and fitness goals; after all, we're out of our routine, usually faced with foods and situations we don't have much control over, and our bodies sometimes take a hit as they adjust to all the changes (and lack of vegetables).  I've outlined a few of my go-to tips for feeling my best while traveling.

But! Before we get into it, I'd like to start this post with a little disclaimer. Depending on the type of trip I'm taking, I may or may not attempt to "stay on track", and I want you to know that this is completely ok. Some trips deserve full YOLO treatment, like your honeymoon, the once in a lifetime trip to Fiji, that trip to Europe you've been dreaming about and planning for years, etc. And it doesn't have to be a huge trip to warrant YOLO'ing either: maybe just a much needed weekend away with the girls or some low-key time alone with your partner. Whatever it is: I want to be clear that there are times when it's more than ok to let your hair down and not worry about every bite you're eating and when your next workout is going to be

But, we also have some trips that fall in a time in our lives that we still want to stay focused, maybe we have an important meet or event in the near future, or maybe we just don't want to come home feeling bloated and icky and lethargic. For most of my trips, I sort of balance the two concepts: full blown YOLO and the same way I would eat at home. So, with that in mind, let's get into it!



Before your trip, go pick up some travel friendly options to throw in your purse and suitcase. This will allow you to have some options at the ready for the times when you need a bite but don't want (or can't have) a full restaurant meal. Some of my favorite bars and travel items are Quest bars, Larabars, Quest Chips, and Epic bars and bites. IMO, you can't have too many of these, so stock up and keep a few with you on those outings.

Pro Tip: Look for bars high in protein and low on carbs. Protein helps us feel full and keeps our muscles happy and fed, and we often don't get enough while traveling.



No matter where I'm staying (my parents' or friend's house, in a hotel, an AirBnB, etc), I will always find the nearest Whole Foods or other grocery shop and make a trip as soon as I can after arriving. This allows me to pick up a few things so that I have a little bit more control over some of my intake over the duration of the trip. Some of my go-to buys include:

  1. Green juice: This helps me get some easy veggies in, but be wary of your labels and sugar bombs disguised as vegetables! Look for low carb, low sugar options (kale & spinach > pineapple & apple).
  2. Greek yogurt: An easy snack to store, even in a mini-fridge, that delivers a yummy dose of protein.
  3. Cold cuts: I'll usually pick up some sliced turkey, and depending on where I'm staying will use it to make full blown meals or just a simple turkey & mustard snack.
  4. 'Buch: I also grab a kombucha because the probiotics help keep my tummy happy while I eat new foods and am off my routine. 
  5. Berries & perishables: Any other nutrient dense snacks I can grab that are easy to store and require little to no prep to eat are also a great addition.



If most of us aren't getting enough water in our day to day life, then none of us are getting enough water when we travel. Plane rides are especially dehyrating and drying, and even though no one likes to be that guy who gets up to pee 4 times on the cross country flight, I still say it's worth it. Getting enough agua is essential to a properly functioning and happy body: from your organs and digestive tract, to your skin and hair. It will also help fight bloating (a travel regular for most of us) and keep you feeling satiated between meals. 

In my at-home life, I aim for a gallon or more a day, and when I'm traveling I try to get as close to that as possible. Bring a bottle with you everywhere and down a glass or two at every restaurant meal.

Pro Tip: When you wake up in the morning, drink one or two big glasses of water right away, before you do anything else. This will help flush some of the bloating from last night's meal (and drinks) and also help regulate your digestive system, which for most of us gets a little, er, stuck, while traveling.

Tips for navigating restaurant menus are all in my freebie download, linked below.

Tips for navigating restaurant menus are all in my freebie download, linked below.



I would argue that this is a piece of advice that's worth following whether your'e traveling or not, but it's always so much easier to fall into when you're eating out all the time or a guest in someone's home. Orange juice and a coffee drink with breakfast, an iced tea or Bloody Mary with lunch, a smoothie from that yummy looking place as a snack, wine with dinner and a cocktail afterwards can really add up fast. 

Keep your coffee orders simple (no sugar or syrups), and stick to water as your beverage during meals. If you really want that glass of wine or cocktail, it's of course ok to go for it, but make sure it's what you really want and you're not just getting one because everyone else is.

Pro Tip: If you're going to drink, stick to either wine or a liquor and soda water (blanco tequila with soda water and a squeeze of lime is my go-to cocktail), and avoid the house cocktails which are often filled with syrups and sweeteners that will not only add unnecessary calories/carbs but also probably give you a headache or stomach ache to boot.



Eating out is almost always a part of traveling, and truth be told, navigating menus is a craft unto itself. That's why I created this totally free download for you filled with tips and tricks and information about how to make choices that won't throw you off the wagon. Download your freebie here and hold onto it for your next trip or meal out!

Grab your free download at the bottom of this post



Exercise can often take a hit when traveling, and more often that not, you can really only work with what you've got, and that may not be a whole lot. Here are some easy ways to get a little sweat in that won't dominate your trip:

  1. Walk. If you're in a city or big town and have the ability to walk to your destinations, do it! Even if it's just going for a leisurely stroll after dinner, walking just a little bit each day will go a long way to prevent you feeling like a schlub.
  2. Run. Arguably the easiest exercise you can do on the go, running is also a great way to explore your environment. Pop on those shoes, grab your playlist, and go get out there. If you hate running like me, try doing sprint intervals instead of steady state running. (Sprint for :20, walk/jog for :40, for 10 rounds)
  3. Bodyweight exercises. These you can do inside your Airbnb or out in a park; think push ups, air squats, jumping lunges, sit ups, etc. The internet is bursting at the seams with pre programmed workouts, so go find one and get it done.
  4. Use that hotel gym. As Ross Gellar would say, "it's built in to the cost of the room!". And it's true: I mean you're paying for all of those amenities, so you may as well use them, even if it's only a little bit. Take advantage of the weights and/or machines to get some movement in that you can't do in your room or on the go. Don't spend all day in here, so make this efficient and fast.
  5. Pack supplies. Resistance bands and jump ropes are light and oh-so-easy to just throw into your suit case so that you know you have some things to work with, no matter where you're going.
Pack some bands for travel-friendly resistance

Pack some bands for travel-friendly resistance

Or just use what you've got.

Or just use what you've got.



When you're in LA, you're getting In-N-Out Burger. When you're in Portland, you're getting doughnuts. When you're in Chicago, you're getting deep dish. Duh. These things are truer than true, and we all look forward to them. I would never suggest that you should not indulge in these treats, because where's the fun in that? However, here's a great trick to be able to eat your treat and not have it throw you into a "fuck it" spiral:

Save it for the last day of your trip. This might be hard, but it's a really smart move, and here's why. If you have any inkling that having a full blown YOLO meal on day ONE of your 7 day vacation might make you less likely to make healthier choices in the following days (*raises hand*), this move is a golden nugget. This allows you to not only feel like yourself and vibrant for your whole trip, but also gives you a little something special to look forward to. 

Figure out what your destination-specific must-haves are, figure out where your'e getting them from, and then schedule that into your last day or night there. 

You better believe I get In-N-Out every time I'm in LA, but it's always on the final day.

You better believe I get In-N-Out every time I'm in LA, but it's always on the final day.



No matter how your trip goes, whether you work out every day or not even once, whether you indulge in all the foods or save one treat for last, or literally anything in-between, the biggest takeaway I want you to remember is that there is no RIGHT or WRONG. You weren't BAD or GOOD, and you should most definitely not feel or harbor any guilt over any choices you did or did not make. 

These tips here are just to help you feel less bloated, more confident and happy in the clothes you packed, and to keep you on track with your fitness goals- they are not the "right way". 

The most important part of this whole thing is that you enjoy yourself, and do what makes you feel best! 

Happy and safe travels, friends!

Grab my free download to help you navigate eating out at restaurants while you're on your trip! It's filled with lots of great tips that I couldn't fit into this one blog post, so be sure to check it out.

If you're already subscribed to the She Thrives Newsletter, this freebie will be in an upcoming email. If you missed it, you can always request it right now!

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Macros 101: Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve spent any amount of time in a gym, you’ve probably heard the word “macros” thrown around, and you may be wondering what it all means, what the fuss is about, and if tracking your macros is right for you. Well my dear, let’s dig right into it!




“Macros” is short for macronutrients, meaning the three main building blocks of calories (read: food): protein, fat and carbohydrates. While calories are just the generalized amount of energy you consume, each macronutrient plays a very different and specific role within your body, and especially more so for athletes. 

1g protein = 4 calories  /  1g carbs = 4 calories  /  1g fat = 9 calories

When you are tracking your macros (AKA Flexible Dieting), you are doing precisely that: tracking and counting every gram of protein, fat and carbs that you consume on a given day. Why would anyone go through this crazy tedious process of weighing, measuring, tracking and mathing every single thing they eat on a daily basis, you ask? Good question!

While it’s true that you may drop a few lbs on a consistent caloric deficit, you won’t have any control over where those lbs are actually getting pulled from (fat stores vs muscle stores) unless you are strategically manipulating your macro intake. More often than not, caloric deficit weight loss isn't simply body fat- it's usually muscle mass too (buh bye gainz). So, if you are an athlete and want to maintain or grow your lean muscle mass while dropping some body fat or your overall bodyweight, whether for a competition or your own personal goals, this is the only way to have precise control over your body composition. 

Bodybuilders and Weightlifters have been using this system for ever ever for it’s precision of functionality and aesthetics alike: bodybuilders seek a very specific body composition for shows, and Weightlifters compete in weight classes, so they must be very in tune with their strength output to bodyweight ratio. In the last couple years, Flexible Dieting has also taken the CrossFit world by storm, and as Coach Greg Gassman once said (and I'm paraphrasing here), put two athletes side by side, equal in every single aspect, and the one who will win is the one who weighs and measures their food. Precision is Queen.




Like any other nutritional template or guideline out there, I firmly believe that there is no one program that will work for everyone. Finding what works for you (and most importantly sticking to it!) is the name of the game, and there’s a real chance that Flexible Dieting might not be your cup of tea. But, it could be just what you need, and you’ll never know until you try! Here are a few situations where this might just be your jam:



If you’ve been CrossFitting, weight training or otherwise fitnessing at high intensity for a while now, you’ve probably gone through various stages of your own nutritional habits. If you are still finding yourself at a plateau, either on the bathroom scale or in your PRs/performance, tracking your macros can be the missing link to fine tune your nutrition further. 

You may have noticed how new CrossFitters will hit PRs left and right, sometimes even by accident, as their newness to the sport leaves tons of opportunity for breakthroughs. If you’ve been doing this for a while though, your PRs become few and far between, with much more work needed to attain even the smallest improvement. The same is true for nutrition and bodyweight; often times those just beginning any health journey will likely see the most dramatic results as they shift to a new nutrition program and the pounds fly off, while those who have been carefully minding their nutrition for a long time can find that they need to work incredibly hard to make the scale budge a measly 5 pounds. If this latter person sounds like you, macros can be the game changer.



Here’s the truth: even the people who think they are eating sufficient protein to perform well and hit their goals in the gym can be shocked to see how low their daily intake actually is when they weigh and measure. (And imagine where you are if you already suspect that you’re not getting enough protein!) The RDA is .4g of protein per pound of body weight, which is flat out NOT sufficient if you are doing CrossFit or any other type of high intensity exercise, trying to gain lean muscle mass, trying to lean out, or any combination thereof. 

Getting the proper amount of protein of 1g per pound of body weight (yes, that’s right! Head to my post all about protein to read more!) on the daily can be straight up impossible to do without weighing, measuring and tracking. Once again, enter Flexible Dieting.

The same can be said for carbs and fat; people often have very little concept of not only what they should be consuming, but what they are currently consuming. Macro counting can straighten all of this out and give you an exact picture of what your daily intake should look like.



If you wouldn’t touch the idea of a Whole30, sugar detox, or other elimination nutrition program with a ten foot pole, you may benefit from tracking macros. (Though for what it’s worth I do have to say that I think everyone -everyone- benefits by experimenting with a Whole30 or Paleo style elimination program at least once, to discover any food sensitivities, reset gut health, and lots more). 

One of the most often cited flaws in Flexible Dieting is that food quality is simply not a consideration. The theory behind it being that your body will get exactly the same end product out of an organic sweet potato as it will from a handful of Skittles: glucose. (And while that may technically be true, there is of course more to health than that “end product” and/or your body fat percentage; micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, nutrient bioavailability, digestive health, gut health, brain health, etc etc etc I do not have enough time for this list people you should know why an apple is better than a doughnut ok!)

Back to the point at hand: you can mathematically figure in treats for yourself so that you can enjoy that nightly piece of chocolate, or wine and dine yourself on a special night out, or whatever else your heart desires, so long as you are still hitting your prescribed carb, fat and protein number (just don’t overdo mmmkay?). If you know that going cold turkey just isn’t for you, this is a great way to practice proper serving sizes and allow yourself to enjoy treats in moderation, while still moving steadily towards your goals.



If you’re training for a very specific purpose or goal like a competition, and have a bodyweight goal in mind, this can be the most efficient track to get you to where you need to be. Whether you’re competing in a Weightlifting meet and need to make weight, or you just want your body weight to be a little lighter so you can maneuver bodyweight movements like pull-ups or muscle ups a little easier, Flexible Dieting will allow you to drop your body weight while maintaining or building lean muscle mass.



Anyone who is brand new to nutrition and/or fitness. I highly (highly!) recommend starting with the big nutrition guidelines first, understanding how various foods affect you personally and impact your workouts and energy (start here), making sure you’re getting enough sleep and managing stress well, soothing any autoimmune conditions, learning about quality of ingredients and servings sizes, etc etc. Study how food affects you, then dial in the details, and your success rate will quadruple. Promise.

Someone with a history of eating disorders. I’ve seen mixed reviews from people with a history of disordered eating and Flexible Dieting: some have seen huge success and find the regimented approach keeps them right on track with a no questions asked mindset, and I’ve seen others who find it throws them back into obsessive patterns, which can be dangerous territory. Please be careful with this and seek professional guidance if needed.



As with anything else, there are a bazillion variables at play when setting your macros, and it should be noted that I am not attempting to set your macros for you here (you can find loads of free online calculators, though those will not be as precise as a coach), but just giving you the very generalized idea behind it all!



Your protein goal should be roughly 1g of protein for every pound of body weight. So a 140 lb woman would eat 140g of protein every single day. Aiming for about 20-30g of protein per meal, plus a post workout snack/shake and a couple high protein snacks will get you there easily.  Remember that 130g chicken breast does not equal 130g pf protein- there are tons of online resources and apps to help you determine the correct macros for your serving size if it doesn't have a nutrition label.


Fat is your friend! It is so so important to health in myriad ways, but since it is the most energy dense macro at 9 cals per gram, it can be all too easy to overdo it without realizing it. Keeping your fat intake somewhere around .5g per pound of body weight is a good starting place, and remember to get that all from the best quality sources you can. Think avocado, grass fed butter, nuts, pasture raised beef, etc.


While it may be true that carbohydrates are the only macro we can technically live without, if you are CrossFitting, strength training or working out at high intensity, carbs are the fuel to your fire (any Broad City fans here?). While it may be true that your mostly sedentary cousin or neighbor lost 30 pounds a on a low carb diet, if you’re an athlete, your needs are very different, and you need to eat as such!

If you are not eating sufficient carbs, your body will pull from your muscle stores to get the energy needed for the task at hand (read: lose your gainz). So how much is right for you? Generally speaking, aim for 30% of your daily caloric intake to be from carbohydrates, but remember that your goals, training style and a million other factors will change this number.


The thing about our bodies is that they are endlessly and tirelessly adaptable. If you've been on a small caloric deficit and training hard in the gym, after a while your body will adapt to this regimen and stop burning fat. A refeed day is generally one day a week (though it can be two days a week or once every other week depending) where you eat way above your normal macros. Some people don't track at all, some people only adjust their carb number, but the goal is the same: to trick your body. The influx of calories triggers a lineup of hormones that get it out of it's "save for emergency" mode and back into fat burning mode. 


You will need to buy a food scale, and apps like My Fitness Pal can be extremely helpful. Finding yourself a coach who can accurately prescribe a macro profile specific to you, your needs, your goals and your lifestyle is the best way to have success; Working Against Gravity and Renaissance Periodization are two of the current industry titans, and I'd be remiss to not mention that my friend The Girl with the Butter also offers a macro-based program! Krissy Mae Cagney is also well known for her Macro ebooks if you're interested in learning more.


Tracking macros is a lot of work, requires precision and patience and therefore might not be for everyone. And it is certainly not the only way to achieve your goals- there are tons of elite athletes who do not track their food, and I don't want to suggest that this is the only way to be a badass! But how will you know what works for you if you don’t give it a try?

Remember that the key part to ANY nutrition or fitness routine is consistency. Trying this (or anything else) loosely for two weeks will not get you results. Find what works for you and stick to it, and you’ll hit your goals in no time!

UPDATE: After publishing this post, I was invited to guest host an episode of "Is This Podcast Paleo" with Kristin of The Girl With the Butter, where we expanded on this and chatted about macros for the entire episode! Listen to the Podcast here.


Let's Talk About Supplements, Baby

If you're training with intensity on a regular basis, chasing some serious fitness goals, or otherwise hoping to improve your performance in the gym, adding some supplements into your routine might be a good idea.

For whatever reason, I feel like most women are either intimidated or simply unaware of the world of supplements, and are unsure where to even begin with it all (Creatine? Protein? Poutine? Maybelline? What?), and for good reason- it can be very overwhelming! So I just wanted to offer inquiring minds a little write up of the supplements that I think are worth trying out.

It should be noted though, that this post comes along with a huge disclaimer! Supplements are designed to be just that: supplemental. So be sure you're giving your body a good balance of macro and micro nutrients on the reg, and recovering and caring for yourself properly. It should also be noted that you do not have to take supplements at all to be a fit and healthy woman! Plenty big time athletes forgo them entirely, and not every body responds to everything the same way (read: what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa). And duh, consult with your doc first to be sure it's a smart and safe move for you.

Now let's get into it! [Or go shop my favorite supplements and more on my SHOP page!]





Creatine is probably the most common supplement for most gym rats and performance chasers. It's a naturally occurring amino acid found in the human body that helps to create a substance called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is the thing that provides the energy for your muscle contractions. Your body creates creatine but it also absorbs it from protein rich foods like meat and fish (game meat, lean red meat, salmon and tuna are the best sources). 

Creatine might also be the most studied supplement out there, and most studies have shown that it can significantly help to increase muscular performance and power for most people, and especially so for high intensity and short-duration exercise (CrossFit & weightlifting generally fit into that category). It hasn't been proven to much for more endurance-type exercise.

On training days I split my creatine dose into my pre and post workout drinks, and on rest days I put the whole dose into a protein shake. Creatine should be taken on both resting and training days to keep the level in your body steady, and the dose is generally around 5g a day. When shopping for creatine powder, look for one that lists only creatine monohydrate as the sole ingredient. Optimum Nutrition makes a simple and straight forward one.

You'll also see a lot of products that are a hybrid of creatine and another supp, and  Blonyx makes one that I think is worth exploring with their Creatine + HMB! (They also have a great breakdown of the science on their site that's worth checking out). I have also been taking Blonyx's HMB Sport alone and been enjoying it so far.




BA is also another naturally occurring amino acid that impacts muscular endurance and performance, namely by fighting muscle fatigue due to acid build up. The idea is that if it can help you get 2 more reps or go 30 more seconds without a rest, then your muscles will get that much stronger over time. BA is also a pretty popular and commonly used supplement, and is usually consumed in conjunction with creatine to help push that muscular endurance to the limit. And, similarly to creatine, BA is most efficient with shot term, high intensity exercise.

Read all about beta-alanine and it's impact on our bodies here.

Much like creatine, BA has been a staple in my supplement pantry for years. It should be taken on both training and off days to keep your body's level steady, and when training I split my dose into my pre and post drinks. It'll probably give your skin a tingly sensation when you start taking it, but this is totally normal and will dissipate with time! 

I've tried quite a few different brands of BA and have found myself really loving Blonyx's version lately, as it's squeaky clean and super high quality. Highly recommend!



Yet another amino acid, glutamine is actually the most abundant amino acid in the human body and is stored in muscles. Our bodies create it but we may need more that we can create when under extreme stress (like exercise). "Studies have shown that L-Glutamine supplementation can minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism. Glutamine plays key roles in protein metabolism, cell volumizing, and anti-catabolism. Glutamine also increases your ability to secrete Human Growth Hormone, which helps metabolize body fat and support new muscle growth." (via Glutamine also plays an interesting role in our body's immune system and is thought to help reduce intestinal permeability, protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and improve gut health.

Due to my personal struggles with leaky gut, and my propensity towards high intensity exercise, I opt to add powdered glutamine to my post workout shake on training days. 



Another product you've probably seen a lot of are powdered mixes that call themselves "pre workout" drinks. The quality and ingredients of these mixes can range hugely, so be sure you read all of your labels! (Some of them contain creatine and BA already, so again, read your labels). Pre workouts are just designed to give you a boost of energy before your workout, and some even contain caffeine.

Some pre workouts contain a mix of BCAAs (branch chain amino acids), and that's what I tend to drink as part of my routine. BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis, both by increasing the rate of protein synthesis and your cell's capacity for protein synthesis. (Read more about it here). 

Equip Foods makes a clean and tasty pre workout mix that contains amino acid mix that's also squeaky clean.






Though real food will always be a better option than a shake or supplement, it's always a good idea to have a bag of protein powder in your pantry so you've got an alternative in case you're running low of the real deal, or need something you can drink on-the-go. 

If you're training hard, protein is an essential part of your diet, and shakes can be an easy and great way to get those extra grams of protein in right after a workout or in place of (or in addition to) a meal.

I personally am faithful to only one brand of protein, both for it's taste, ingredients, and the quality of the company behind it: Equip Foods. (Psst enter discount code SHETHRIVES at checkout).



Magnesium is a mineral that is crucial to TONS of stuff in that body of yours. "Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body, being required for more than 325 enzymatic reactions, including those involved in the synthesis of fat, protein and nucleic acids, neurological activity, muscular contraction and relaxation, cardiac activity and bone metabolism." (via 

Again, while whole foods sources are always better than a supplement, it can be too easy to fall deficient in this valuable mineral. It's for that reason that I end every single day with powdered magnesium mixed with warm water. Some people swear this elixir is fantastic for getting into that pre-bedtime sleepy mood, as it has calming and relaxing properties. I use Natural Vitality's unflavored powder and love it!

Another way to get your magnesium in is with a soak in a long, hot Epsom Salt bath! It's a favorite way of mine to relax and help sore muscles recover and heal. 




Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, which we all know by now is a powerful source of anti inflammatory antioxidants. Curcumin helps your body repair damage (sore muscles) among other things, and therefore I love to include it as part of my workout recovery lineup. 



Just because I don't personally take these on the regular doesn't mean they aren't great! Some other supplements that many people swear by and could be worth looking into for you are: 


I hope this helps you next time you're navigating the aisles of the supplement shop! And remember that different strokes work for different folks, so just because your training partner is or isn't taking something doesn't mean you have to, too. Make sure your doc clears you first, do some of your own recon in your gym and on the webby web, and then try experimenting with some of these to see if they make a difference for you! Or, not. It's up to you. :)

Wishing you all strong muscles and improved work capacity!


How Much Protein Should You Be Eating?

With so much conflicting nutritional advice out there, it’s no surprise that there is a lot of confusion about how much protein active women should be eating every day to sufficiently support training and aid recovery. We’re going to do our best to break it down for you and clear up the confusion!

And for those of you looking for information beyond solely protein, read my comprehensive post all all things MACROS here!


Protein is found in every cell in our body and is an essential building block to literally everything; blood, muscles, skin, cartilage, organs, glands & bones. It is vital in cell repair  and generation, which means it helps repair and build muscle tissue (read: welcome to the gun show).

Unlike the other two macronutrients, carbohydrates and fat, our body does not readily store protein, which means we do not have a reservoir to pull from when we are low (except our existing muscles. Read: goodbye gains), so we need to constantly supply it for everything in our body to stay in tip top shape.

Eating a proper amount of protein helps us recover from workouts much faster, helps build lean muscle mass, helps prevent muscle loss, keeps us full in between meals, and keeps our body in good general health. Basically, if you're striving to be a badass in the gym, hit certain body composition goals, or generally be your healthiest self, getting the correct amount of protein in your daily diet is imperative.


If you are a Crossfitter, runner, weightlifter, regular gym-goer or otherwise active person, protein is even more essential to help fuel & recover from your training, and most of us aren’t getting enough. So how much is “enough”?

Although there are many factors to consider when finding your perfect number (age, activity level, weight, personal goals, etc), our recommendation as a baseline rule is to eat between .5 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. So for a 140 pound woman, that would mean eating between 70-140g of protein per day. (It should comprise about 20-35% of your daily caloric intake, or macronutrient profile breakdown.)

If you aren't super active (don’t have a regular exercise routine), you will fall on the lower end of that scale, with about half your body weight in grams of protein per day. However, if you are moderately active or very active (talking to you, Crossfitters!), you’ll want to fall on the higher end of this scale, at about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

And if you are trying to gain lean muscle mass, lean out, or otherwise change your body composition and consistently perform muscle building activities, you may want your daily number to be higher still, comprising up to 40% of your daily intake. For example, I weigh about 125 lbs, but in an effort to recover quickly from workouts and build lean muscle, I eat 140g of protein every day. Yes, every. day.

How do you know how much protein you're actually eating? We suggest picking up a food scale and weighing and/or measuring all your proteins, and tracking it using an app like My Fitness Pal for about a week to be able to accurately gauge how much protein you are getting on a daily basis. From there, you can make adjustments as you see fit.




Our go-to protein sources are properly and ethically raised meats and seafoods (organic, pasture raised, grassfed, and wild caught). Animal proteins contain the most bioavailable source of protein, meaning your body more easily and completely absorbs the protein from animal sources compared to the protein in foods like beans or vegetables (yes, vegetables do have a small amount of protein). Eating properly and ethically raised meats and seafoods ensures that your body is getting the protein it needs along with healthy fats and tons of micronutrients. Depending on your personal nutrition template and sensitivities, dairy and eggs are also great sources of protein.

And in light of the WHO announcement this week about processed and red meats, we should tell you that our views haven't been swayed.  Properly sourced animal proteins are an important and vital element to a healthy diet, period. And especially so for athletes. Animal proteins contain nutrients that your body needs which you simply cannot get from plants alone, like vitamin B (especially B12), vitamin D, iron, zinc, creatine, CLA, omega-3's and lots more. They are also complete proteins, meaning they provide the proper proportion of all nine essential amino acids that humans need for optimum nutrition. When it comes to protein, animal proteins reign supreme.

Note: If you want to unpack more details of the meat-cancer conversation, we highly suggest you read this thorough article by Sarah Ballantyne, Phd (aka The Paleo Mom). Still nervous about the WHO report? Please read this before you swear off bacon for good.


To shake or not to shake? While whole food sources are always a better choice than a processed replacement, sometimes protein powders and other supplements can come in very handy for convenience. We get it, we're all busy. We don't always have the time to prepare a filet to carry around in our purse to enjoy when hunger strikes on the go. So what are your best options?

If you're looking for a high quality protein powder, our favorite is Equip Protein, as it is 3 simple ingredients (beef protein isolate, cocoa powder and stevia), whey-free, and actually tastes good.

Quest makes lots of different flavors of protein bars that are a great in a pinch (some bars are cleaner than others so check out your labels to see what fits with your nutrition template).

There are also other protein-containing supplements you might want to consider that help enhance your athletic performance and recovery, that you can add into your post workout shake and have multiple benefits. They include collagen (aids in joint health), branched chain amino acids (or BCAAs, aids in muscular endurance and synthesis), L-glutamine (improves recovery and aids in gut health). These are all great options to explore that can help your time in and out of the gym and aid in your general health, all while helping you hit that daily protein number.



So now that you know how much we should be getting, you might be thinking how on earth do you get that much protein in in one day? Yeah. We hear you. Sometimes it can be a struggle, but here are some tips to help make it happen!

  • Aim to have each of your 3 main meals contain about 30% of your daily total, and fill in the rest with snacks. And if you can’t hit that percetage at all 3 meals, try your best to make it happen at breakfast! Having a protein-heavy breakfast will ensure that your body doesn’t pull from it’s own muscle tissue for fuel after a night long fast, and it will also help keep you full for hours to come.
  • Make most of your snacks protein based and hitting your daily number will be easier than you think. Things like jerky, hard boiled eggs, nuts, cold cuts, and Epic bars are all great things to throw in your lunchbox or purse and snack on throughout the day.
  • Take advantage of your anabolic window! This period is the 30 minutes immediately following a workout, during which your body soaks up nutrients like a sponge. Be sure to eat 20g+ of protein immediately following your training session, to help aid in tissue repair and improve recovery. (Try to avoid fat with this meal as fat slows down the digestion and absorption of the protein). Throw a protein shake in your gym bag and drink up!
  • Consider the supplements above. They can add as much as 35g of protein!


We hope that this helps you decide how much protein you need to help you hit your health and fitness goals! And remember that while protein is important, be sure that you're still making room for veggies and the other foods that help support your immune system and keep you healthy, so you can stay strong and keep kicking ass in and out of the gym!

For lots of delicious veggie and protein focused meals, download a copy of our newly released RECIPE EBOOK!

And for more help dialing in your nutrients, check out our online health and nutrition coaching program, THRIVE ONLINE.

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Our Cookbook is Now Available!

It's finally here!  We are SO excited to release our very first cookbook! Our recipe ebook is a digital download that contains 25 recipes designed to nourish your body, please your palette, and fuel performance, all while saving on time and money.

What you'll find inside:

  • Recipes for breakfast, lunch & dinner.
  • Unfussy and affordable ingredients.
  • Grain free, gluten free & Paleo friendly recipes.
  • Simple & fast preparations, with lots of one-pot style meals.
  • Protein and veggie centric meals with great macro and micronutrient profiles for health and performance.
  • Seasonal recipes for the whole year.

We hope you love it! Share your recipes and meals from the book with the #shethrivescookbook tag so we can check out what you're making!

Bon appetit! 


Your Stories: In Depth with Melissa Hartwig from Whole30

Melissa Hartwig, the New York Times bestselling author and co-founder of the wildly popular and life-changing Whole30 program, has been on a whirlwind tour for her new book, The Whole30. Between pitstops at places like The Today Show, Dr. Oz and The View, she kindly made time to sit down and chat with us for She Thrives, and we are so thrilled to share our conversation with you today! Melissa was absolutely as fun, kind and insightful as we were hoping she'd be, had some amazing answers to our questions, and couldn't have been more gracious.

Read our detailed interview with her to learn all about the way she handles industry pressure, how her own body image and outlook has changed, how she draws on her strength from getting clean to help people with their food issues, and lots lots more.



Our first book, It Starts With Food, outlined all the scientific background for our general, big picture nutritional recommendations. It was the science behind our 4 good food standards, why we exclude the foods we exclude, and the health benefits of the foods that you’re eating. We outlined the Whole30 in that book, in the way of "here are the big picture recommendations and here’s a way that you can implement these in a self experiment", and we thought that would be enough for people to be really successful with the program. 

What we discovered was people would say, "I love the science, I love knowing why I’m doing what I’m doing, I’m super motivated, but I still need to know how to do the program"- We realized that people needed a lot more practical application. We did some focus groups and were surprised by the number of people who said that the Whole30 taught them how to cook. So this book came out of the desire to put everything we thought people needed to be successful with the Whole30 all in one place. So it’s got all of the preparation and getting started, planning tips, the extensive FAQs, and then cooking fundamentals (which we never would have thought to include until people told us they wanted that), and then also 100 recipes. 

So the thought behind this book was, if someone asked you about the Whole30 or you wanted to share it with someone, you could hand them this book and walk away, and they could be incredibly successful with the program.



Oh my gosh what an insightful question. I used to. I used to feel like there was a lot of pressure to look a certain way (especially when I had my baby), to eat a certain way, to always exercise, to never have hard days.. But I gave that up a really long time ago when I realized it made me feel like an imposter in my own life. I was setting this standard for myself that I couldn’t expect anyone else to hold up to, and I certainly couldn’t hold up to, and I don’t think that set a good example for our readers. People connect with authenticity, with you sharing pieces of your life, the good and the bad, and hopefully explaining some of the life lessons you’re learning along the way. 

So I don’t feel that pressure anymore. There’s still the occasional, "I’m getting up in front of a lot of people today, do I look pretty enough?" kind of thing, but I feel like anyone standing up in front of 400 pople might think that. But for the most part, I really have found great peace in being more genuine in my own life and in my own struggles and sharing that with my readers, and they really seem to connect with that really really deeply. 



I had been using food so much as a tool for my body composition (either a reward, punishment or comfort), and just not having access to those foods to use in that way forced me to take a look at that and say, "ok I’m really lonely tonight, what am I going to do instead", or "I’m feeling really uncomfortable about my body weight, where is this leading me tonight". So between that and focusing on strength training, and just focusing on getting stronger, I was able to see food and my body in a different light. There would be days that would go by where I realized I hadn’t scrutinized myself in the mirror at all, and that had never happened before. 

I think part of this also came with the realization that I don’t have to be perfect and I’m not supposed to be perfect.  There used to be a time (this is true), that I used to say "there’s no such thing as too skinny" -honestly- before I started Crossfit, before Whole30. But now for me it’s more important to look healthy than to look any other way, and healthy for me looks 5 or 10 pounds more than what I used to carry. I think pregnancy helped change that too- you gain weight, you’re curvy, everything's bigger, you feel voluptuous, and it changed my perspective enough that I was able to get out of the majority of the body dysmorphia that I had.  And I’m still not totally there- I still have my moments. But when I get into that place now I’m able to get out of it so much faster. 


I highly recommend doing a Whole30 before you get pregnant, so that you can identify the way foods impact you. So when you’re pregnant and having cravings or aversions and you’re having a hard time sticking to a rigid paleo template, you know which of the grains or which of the "off-plan" foods you can eat that aren't going to mess you up in a really major way. 

I also like to tell people when it comes to cravings or aversions, shop from your pantry. I used to bring the whole damn grocery store home when I was pregnant- every single thing that I could possibly, maybe want to eat, and every time I’d want to eat I’d go through it all and think "do I want this, or maybe this"... Having a huge variety of really compliant choices would make me oftentimes gravitate towards some things that I wouldn’t have thought I wanted, but because they were there, I could eat them, and they were all healthy and clean. 

Constantly reevaluate whether you can or can’t eat a certain food. For me I couldn't eat eggs at 8am, but by 11am, eggs sounded really good. You’re probably going to have to toss meal planning out the window since often you don’t know what you’re going to want until 5 minutes before you’re eating. 

And if it’s really a struggle, I just say go back to the foods you know are going to do the least damage- see if you can satisfy that craving with a more compliant version of that food. If you’re craving something super starchy and sweet, instead of a pastry, would maybe a sweet potato drenched in ghee with a little brown sugar and cinnamon do the trick? Get creative. Don’t use this as an excuse to eat all the things, just because you’re pregnant. 


When you’re pregnant, your body has a more difficult time getting rid of ammonia (a byproduct of amino acid breakdown), and higher levels of ammonia in your blood and body can be dangerous, so it kind of makes sense that women get an aversion. I think there’s enough evidence to suggest that a super high protein diet isn’t really good for mom or for baby, at least in that first trimester.

But the other piece of it is this: If you’ve been eating a really healthy, high quality diet, if you don’t eat that much protein for a month or two, it’s no big deal. Your body has plenty of vitamin B12 stores and your iron isn’t going to tank in a matter of a month or two, so try to look at this from more of a big picture perspective versus day to day. If you go through your day and can’t get any protein in whatsoever, no problem- your body has a tremendous capacity  to buffer, balance and store. 

And remember to explore your options and think outside the box! I ate so much canned salmon when I was pregnant- something I never really ate that much of before. Think, could you have sardines right now, do I want salumi, maybe some chicken salad, and eventually something will probably sound good. 


The first thing you have to identify is do you actually really want to eat it. The brain does some really funky things when presented with an opportunity to get reward: Dopamine spikes and you get really excited and the anticipation takes over, and it’s like an adrenaline response- fight or flight- am I doing this or not. So I always encourage people to pause, and just take a moment, take some deep breaths to go against that fight or flight stress response, and take that minute to think about what’s going on with this doughnut. 

Ask yourself a couple questions: Do I really want to eat this? Is it really going to be worth it? Is this a stale doughnut that’s been sitting out for 4 hours since the marketing meeting, or are you in Portland and planned a visit to the famed VooDoo Doughnuts? There’s a difference. Is it going to mess me up? Will the consequences of eating this be so negative that I will regret this choice? 

If you get through all of these questions and you still want the doughnut, then eat the doughnut! That way it’s a conscious deliberate decision, and not a reaction to this reward sitting in front of you. 

And if you decide it’s not worth it, the best thing you can do is distract yourself; physically remove yourself from the temptation, call a friend, take a walk, whatever you need to do until that craving breaks it’s hold. 



I think I’ve taken a lot from that experience and pulled it into the support we offer on Whole30, perhaps subconsciously. The advice we give people who are recovering from drugs or alcohol is the same advice I would give to people who are really struggling with food, and sugar in particular: You have to change your environment.

When I got clean, I literally threw away tee shirts and hats that reminded me of using, and I couldn’t listen to some music anymore… If you have these powerful associations, you’ve got to cut your ties. We talk about creating space or distance; I tried to create as much of a buffer between me and the drugs as I could, so I dropped all my friends who I knew would give it to me if I asked, I told my whole circle, "If I ever ask you and try to convince you that I’m ok now, you cannot pay attention, and you need to call my mom". So you create a buffer to make distance, and then you rely on support from other people on a regular basis. 

It’s the same thing with food. You can’t stop eating, and that’s what makes it so much harder. You have to learn to create a healthy relationship with the thing that you feel addicted to, which is really challenging. But you can still create the space and make your environment really safe; get  the tempting stuff out of your house (we’ve got a section in the new book that addresses when you’re the only one in a household doing the Whole30 and you can’t rid the cabinets of all temptations). Talk to your friends and family- communication is so key with this. The more personal you can make this communication, the more effectively you’ll be able to enroll people in this change. Explaining to people why you’re doing what you’re doing, the impact that these negative associations with food are having on your life, or with your relationship with that person, can all help to recruit them to help you. 

And then leaning on that support is key. I don’t think anybody coming from a place of sugar addiction or an eating disorder should do the Whole30 without the support of a trained counselor. It’s not just about the food, it’s about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Sugar is a totally real addiction that’s socially acceptable, that often comes with peer pressure too. Relying on that support and adding in tradition psychotherapy or group counseling or meetings or whatever you can do to get that in-person support (a very powerful stress mediator), can be helpful.

And you might not be able to do the Whole30 all in. The rules are not for everyone and they can actually be very triggering. If you need to modify the program for your particular context, do it. 



I get into the gym or move outside about 5 days a week, and I do whatever I feel like doing. Right now (because of the book, travel, family, etc), I can’t afford to stress my body with high intensity exercise, and I don’t have the consistency in a gym to have serious performance goals. So my goal right now is to just get in there and move and maintain muscle mass. So I’m doing a lot of kettlebell stuff, some body building stuff, some heavy lifting, walking a lot, hiking occasionally, sometimes some HIIT on the erg, or just throw a bunch of weight on a sled and push it around the gym. Mostly slow and heavy stuff to keep muscle mass and not so much cardio.

I don’t do any work until I’ve gone to the gym- I always start my day with that so that it sets the tone for the rest of the day. My goals in the gym right now are to get back to 5 or 10 dead hang pull ups (since I had my appendix out in January), and I’d love a 1.5 body weight deadlift, but really right now it’s more just about moving and enjoying how good it makes me feel to be active.



No, actually there isn’t! It’s so funny, people are always asking for a hair tutorial or something and I just think, "No, I don’t do that!". I just can’t be all things to all people. I’m not a makeup expert or that info fashion.. It’s like "I just wrote this really long and intimate post, and you just want to ask me about my hair?". You’re never going to see me on Like To Know It- it’s just not my thing. 



If it’s April, it’s a Cadburry Creme Egg. It is the least food-like product in the world. It could literally not be less food. But for me, my mom always put one in my easter basket and I always saved it for last, I always got to eat the whole thing (instead of cutting it in half like I had to do with most treats). So I eat it every year, I love it, I savor it, and I move on. 



I think it’s the people who say that for the first time in their life they are in control of the food that they eat. They are almost always in tears (which always puts me in tears), because I know just how incredibly freeing that is. If you feel like you’ve been a slave or out of control, you feel weak and like you have no willpower (which is not the case), but when you finally get a handle on that,  that’s what I love to hear the most. It comes from men, from women, from 70 year old grandmothers, from teens, everyone. Hearing that people feel like they finally have a good relationship with food is what means the most to me. 

There are also amazing medical testimonials- just absolute miracles- and those are always great to hear about too. From a big picture perspective, finally developing a healthy emotional relationship with food, your body, and the scale is really really powerful, and it translates into every other area of your life. It’s the keystone to it all. The confidence that comes along with that just naturally carries over to so many different areas in life. 



I think we are really going to expand our resources for the “life after your Whole30”- that’s where we have to go next. This book really outlines everything about how to do the program, and though I’ve written pretty extensively about what to do when you’re done (my Dear Melissa series, for example), but I really want to provide people with more information  about how to turn this into a healthy lifestyle. 

There needs to be more information about talking to friends and family about the way that you’re eating, because when you don’t have the “rules” of the Whole30 to fall back on, you have to learn how to do this in your real life and explain to people, "No, I’m not on the Whole30 anymore but I’m still not eating bread". That was actually my presentation at Paleo FX this year- Food, Friends, and Family, and how to have these conversations with people in your life, since food can be very divisive for people. 

We’d like to get more boots on the ground for in-person support and local communities (instead of just online-based), and we’d like to put together a pregnancy resource as well, to offer tips and ideas for nutrition and exercise, and also things like finding a pediatrician, or choosing your childbirth style, and so on.

But mostly we are trying to continue stay true to our roots and very connected to the community. We never want to get so big that we lose touch with our community, and in fact we have been tuning down some pretty big companies who want to partner or promote us, since we don’t want the Whole30 to become a product promotion machine. We want to make it clear that our integrity is more important than this appearance of success by partnering with big names. We will continue to keep advertising off our website, write all our own articles (no ghost writers), and stay active on social media. Yes, we are running a business, but we need to hold onto our roots.


You know it’s funny, so many people say you have to learn to love yourself, and I don’t think we really know what that means. I think it’s been such a long time since we’ve been kind to ourselves, that while that sounds nice to do, in practice it’s really really difficult. A good rule of thumb is never say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to someone else. If you think about the way we speak to ourselves and the names we call ourselves, how hard we are on ourselves, it's like, you wouldn't say that to a stranger on the street, so why are you treating yourself like that? 

So many women identify with their eating habits, their exercise habits, their motherhood status, and so on. They become "I am the healthy eater", or "I am the exerciser", or "I’m the kick-ass employee at work", and when you do that, your entire self esteem is riding on something that is entirely out of your control. What happens when you get sick or lose your job or your kid does something stupid and gets in trouble?  I like to try to help women identify the fact that you can’t use these outside factors as a proxy for your self esteem. If you weren’t an athlete or a mother or a healthy eater, who would you be? Are you kind, are you generous, are you loyal, are you dependable, are you fun? Those are all intrinsic things that no one can take away from you. If you can get clear on where you come from in that perspective, then your self esteem comes from you. Get in touch with the things that you value within yourself that no one can take away from you.


All photographs copyright Taylor Gage Photography. Hair and makeup by Off White Beauty.


How To: Open a Pomegranate

Pomegranates are one of our favorite foods this time of year, as they are both loaded with antioxidants and flavor. They are a great addition to salads or desserts, but more often than not we just eat them straight out of a bowl with a spoon!

Getting through the flesh and to the tasty seeds doesn't have to be a headache. Follow these easy steps to enjoy a pomegranate in less than 5 minutes!


  • Pomegranate sliced in half (through the "equator").

  • A bowl with a few inches of water in it. A bowl with higher sides is better to prevent splashing.

  • A wooden spoon.

  • A slotted spoon.


Hold one half of the fruit over the bowl of water, seed side down, and begin hitting the back of it with the wooden spoon. Hit hard enough to make the seeds fall out into the water below. Rotate the piece around to be sure to knock all of the seeds out.

Repeat with the other half.


Using the slotted spoon, scoop off all the bits of the membrane in the bowl- they should mostly all float to the surface, while the seeds should sink to the bottom. Once you've gotten all the floating bits out, use the slotted spoon to scoop the seeds out from the water and into a bowl for use.

If you don't have a slotted spoon, you can carefully just pour out most of the water, and the floating membrane will go with it. You can then pour the remaining seeds into a colander or strainer.


Do you have a trick for pomegranates too? We want to hear about it! Post yours in the comments below.