That little battle for your health

That little battle for your health

The other day I listened to a podcast while driving to the post office to get my mail. It featured one bro talking to another bro about post-apocalyptic survival, the end of civilization, not knowing whom to trust, and things you have to know/do in order to evade capture. Yes, I listen to some weird stuff.

Anyway, one of the bros, a former CIA agent, said when you’re in deep shit, the first thing you have to do is throw away anything with batteries (technology) so you can’t be traced. You have to go old school.

And in that moment, waiting at the light at the corner of State and Broadway, I had a major realization. It literally blew my mind. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

We are at war, and it’s time to go old school. This war is not against Russia or Iran or China – it’s far more personal, and the problem is the most of us have been too numbed-out to realize we’re in the middle of it. In fact, that’s why it’s a war. Our entire culture is set up to make us sick, and there are far too many people who are willing to take our money from us along the way. The entire mainstream culture is complicit. 

Overdramatic? I don’t think so. And even if it is, so be it.

Because I’m 99 percent sure it takes a warrior’s mindset to break free of this matrix. My own health struggles have led me to down a road of self-questioning, many visits to PubMed, reading books, and looking for patterns. It feels like being stuck in quicksand and it’s hard to know whether you have the energy or will to pull yourself out.

None of the following is groundbreaking news. Entire books can be (and have been) written about each topic, but here’s a quick overview of the landscape.

Why you have to go off-grid

  1. The mainstream food supply can’t be trusted because it contains disease-contributing ingredients. Plus, those food products are specifically designed to be tasty and make us want more of them. I always told clients: sugar craves sugar.
    And sometimes sugar doesn’t even TASTE like sugar (but once it’s in your body, it’ll want to throw a party and invite more in). Your body is programmed to want it, because it’s fast and easy fuel – perfect for our ancestors who needed that fuel to survive. 
  2. The problem is, in the doses we eat nowadays, these foods are not good for our bodies. In fact, they are not just “not good” … often, they actually are bad. They mess with our hormonal system so we crave more of them – as well as feel foggy, tired, depressed and have aches and pains. Plus, they wreak havoc on our digestive systems, our brains, our hearts and our cells.
  3. Our bodies want to rest. That’s because generations ago, we actually needed rest – we were worn out from the arduous task of staying alive (avoiding predators, moving about, finding food, maintaining shelter). Our current lifestyle isn’t nearly so physically demanding, but our bodies still are programmed for a good layabout session, even if the most demanding thing we’ve done all day is to take a shower. 
  4. When you eventually get sick from eating too much crappy food (even food you might have believed to be healthy) and/or not moving enough, you enter the health care industrial complex where you are given pills and usually not told how to mitigate the problems you’re having.
    If you have a skeptical mind, you could attribute this to two factors:

    1. The health care professionals know you won’t make the changes anyway, because you’re addicted to food engineered to make you want more of it and you’re filled with inertia because you’ve spent a great deal of your time on the couch. They’re burned out and tired of trying to help people help themselves. So they give you your pills and send you on your way.
    2. Also, if they DO tell you what changes to make and you DO follow through, what happens to their long term income? It dries up. BTW, I’m not necessarily talking about your individual doc here but the company/infrastructure that employs her/him.

Here’s what I know for sure: When you’re in the middle of it, it feels like shit. It really does feel like you are stuck in that quicksand mentioned above.

You have to fight back

It’s time to do battle. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I also know this: when it comes to health and wellness, it’s a good idea to question everything.

You even have to question your body’s own signals, because what it craves likely the last thing it really needs – especially if you’ve been eating anything close to a standard American diet. The hormonal reactions set up by what you’re feeding your body are actually running the show: the food itself is in command.

You have to wrest back control.

The system is set up against us – processed foods, factory farming, over-farmed fields, confusing science. I’m not talking crazy “health nut” stuff here, btw. I’m talking about general health and wellness.

One of the most frustrating things – heck, THE most frustrating thing – about being a personal trainer is the little dance you have to do with clients in order to keep them motivated, because breaking the cycle is incredibly hard. It requires some discomfort.

You want your clients to get results just as much as THEY want results, but you also don’t want to scare them off. And most clients will tell you that they do not want discomfort. Even the American College of Sports Medicine soft-pedals its own exercise recommendations, in hopes of getting more compliance.

Often it comes down to recommending that clients do the ABSOLUTE LEAST they can get away with in order to get at least a modicum of results. You hope it starts to build on itself, so that they buy in to make more changes over time.

I’m not training clients any longer, so I’m going to be moving past the “least” stage when I talk about this stuff now.

I’m talking to myself here, too. Because there’s something I’ve found: when you start to get sick or are injured, your body really starts  reverting to its ancestral patterns. Those cravings get stronger and the desire to rest grows deeper. 

It’s time to go to war, even if the battle cry feels like a Monday morning whimper. The truth is, it’ll get easier (even in just a few days).

5 ways to go old school

All of the below are easy to say but can be challenging to do – which is why it helps to look at this as a war, and to build a warrior’s mindset. Get mad. Question everything, even your thoughts. Is the food running you, or are you running it? Who’s calling the shots?

1. Don’t eat anything out of a package. 

2. Cut out sugar.

3. Build a base of fruit and vegetables, add some lean proteins and healthy fats, and a little bit of non-grain carbs.

4. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

5. Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night.

(Bonus) 6. Be vigilant and consistent. Don’t listen to the programming in your head. In time, the changes will stick.

Workout

  • 25 minutes on Arc trainer
  • 20 minutes of 10 percent incline treadmill “sprints”
    • Varying time and speed,  based on how close to death I felt 🙂 
How to eat for fat loss over 50 (and every other age, too)

How to eat for fat loss over 50 (and every other age, too)

If you want to lose fat, you need to do two main things.

  1. Make your body better at burning fat.
  2. Require it to burn more fat.

It’s crazy how complicated people can make those two tasks sound. Trust me, it’s not that complicated. Yes there’s a ton of contradictory science but the basics of the above – and what I’m about to lay out below – haven’t changed and I’m guessing they won’t change, either. 

How to eat for fat los over 50 (and every other age)

The hard truth: losing fat is NOT a fast process, especially when you’re older. Just by virtue of BEING older, you’re a survivor. That means your body is smart – it’s lived this long and it wants to survive, so in order to do that it slows down your metabolism so you require less fuel.

You’ll have more success if you incorporate these tips into a lifestyle instead of a short-term “thing” … the upside: you’ll feel better every day, have more energy and an improved mood. Plus you’ll notice huge changes in your skin and hair, and in the way your body moves and feels.

1. Make your body better at burning fat

Your body’s preferred fuel is glycogen, which is basically sugar/carbs. If there are readily available carbs in your system, it’ll burn them. If you take in too many carbs/sugars, your body will store them.

But here’s the thing: once your body runs out of carbs, it’ll use other fuel sources (including stored fat!) to fuel everything you do, from breathing to dashing up the stairs to retrieve your glasses.

Do you need to cut out all carbs? Go into ketosis? Should you go buy test strips? How about a fancy blood monitor?

NO.

The best bet for long-term success is to create a sustainable lifestyle. Any diet or program that requires you to buy or do (like test for ketones) a lot of extra stuff to support it isn’t going to give you lasting results unless you are a highly motivated/obsessed person. I competed in figure competitions for four seasons so I know this firsthand. 

Your diet shouldn’t run your life. Your diet should fuel your life.

Instead do this: Eat real food. I’m talking about more veggies and fruit, healthy fats and proteins, occasionally enjoy some fiber-rich complex carbs but watch your portions — legumes, quinoa, beets, rice, etc. 

Note: wine IS carbs. All of them. So watch your intake.

Your body has a harder time burning fat when it’s under stress, too – remember, it wants to survive, so if it feels under attack, it’s likely to engage in a series of hormonal responses designed to help with that (like burning less fuel). Some stress in life is inevitable and even good for you, but too much is bad all the way around.

Your body can feel stress from: too little rest or sleep, poor diet, autoimmune disease (which have huge impact on your body’s intricate hormonal systems), financial/business/work/family/relationship issues, some medications/drugs and/or overuse of alcohol.

2. Require your body to burn more fat.

This has two components … eating and moving.

First, the eating. You need to let your gas tank get a little empty so you can switch on your reserve (stored) tank of fuel. The key to that: Watch your portion sizes. The amount of fuel you take in DOES matter if you’re trying to lose fat (even non-carb intake).

Second, the moving. The more you move, the more fuel you burn. Studies repeatedly show that when it comes to fat loss, non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) can have more of an affect than your workouts! NEAT calories get burned when you are just moving around during the course of the day.

And when you do work out, make sure you train with intensity — listen to your body but be sure to push yourself just a little bit at least a few times a week (i.e., strolling at 2 mph on the treadmill probably isn’t going to give you the results you want). And lift weights a few times a week. As we age, we lose muscle. Not only do you need muscle to remain strong and vital, but it also burns a little more fuel over the course of the day than your body’s other parts.

Avoid this rookie fat-loss mistake (which we all make): If you think you “deserve” a high-calorie, sugar-laden treat because you worked out and/or were busy all day … and fat loss is your primary goal … be careful not to undo all the hard work you put in by overfilling your tank.

Remember: fat-loss is primarily a diet-related phenomenon.

5 Things for Thursday, May 10

1. I have 14,386 unread emails, most of them trying to sell me something.

2. Yesterday I cried for the first time in a long time. Like, an ugly awful dizzy-making cry that I was worried would never stop. See the stress note above? Crying helped. I think. Maybe. Although I did end up fighting a migraine for the rest of the day. #oversharing

3. Also yesterday, my dog met the 3-pound dog that lives next door. The two of them bark at each other many times a day, and I thought a meeting would help. Poor Bella (the little dog) was so timid and scared. But this morning? No barking.

4. External validation. Some of us need more of it than do others. That’s OK.

5. Why do I share my workouts below? So you can steal them if you want.

Bonus No. 6: I now have 14,396 unread email messages.

Workout

Quick cardio day

  • 15 minutes elliptical
  • 15 minute treadmill running intervals
  • Adductor/abductor machine, 3x:
    • 20 abductions (press out)
    • 15 adductions (press in)

Oh hey Wendy why did you only do that one machine? Two reasons: my lumbo-pelvic-hip complex has been really tight/cranky and these movements seem to help, and my leg workout last week didn’t hit these accessory muscles very well.

How to Roast Frozen Veggies (and Save Money!)

How to Roast Frozen Veggies (and Save Money!)

Don’t you hate throwing away food? 

It’s kind of like throwing away money.

The thing is, you probably never intend to throw away food when you buy it. But here’s the usual scenario:

You go to the grocery store and, with perfectly good intentions, buy fresh veggies. When you get home, you only use some of that beautiful produce and by the time you want to use the rest of it, it’s gone bad.

Gross.

This is why I mostly use frozen veggies. They save money over the long run and the nutritional breakdown between fresh and frozen veggies shows they are comparable (1).

The problem with frozen vegetables is that sometimes the texture can be off or they can taste a little bland. That’s why I’ve become kind of a ninja when it comes to preparing frozen veggies.

One of my favorite uses for frozen veggies is to roast them, especially during the fall and winter. They caramelize, which makes them sweet and delicious, plus they get a little crispy. So good!

And even better is the fact you can roast them straight-up from their frozen state. No thawing required!

The Secret to Perfectly Roasted Veggies

Here’s the trick: You have to preheat the pan AND the oil to prevent your veggies from getting soggy as they thaw in the oven.

Last weekend I had a terrible case of insomnia so I got up super early and decided to get my grocery shopping done … and that meant I had to go to Walmart because it was the only store open. I am not a huge fan of the produce section at my local store, so I hit the freezers for my veggies.

Bonus: I scored a 5-lb. bag of California blend veggies (carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower) on sale.

When I got home, I roasted the whole bag and had veggies on-hand for several days.

This method will work with nearly every kind of veggie, but keep in mind that thicker/bigger veggies (like broccoli) will take longer to roast than small veggies (like sliced carrots or green beans).

How to Roast Frozen Vegetables

  • Line 1 or 2 rimmed baking pans with foil (to help with cleanup later).
  • Put 1-2 tablespoons of high-heat oil (such as coconut oil or avocado oil) on the pans.
  • Place pans in oven heated to 425 to 450 degrees to preheat. (I like hotter ovens for thicker/bigger veggies.)
  • Meanwhile, coat the frozen veggies in a small amount of fat/oil. The oil not only helps with taste but also can help your body better use the micronutrients contained in the veggies.
  • When the oven is heated, CAREFULLY remove the pans from the oven and make sure the oil is equally dispersed in the pan. 
  • Add the veggies in a single layer.
  • Place pans in oven.
  • Cook for 30 to 45 minutes (again, thicker/bigger veggies take longer to cook). Carefully stir the veggies every 15 to 20 minutes to ensure even roasting.
  • When done, remove from oven and season with salt/pepper/herbs/spices.

How To Serve Roasted Veggies

How To Roast Frozen Vegetables

Roasted frozen veggies with balsamic glaze and a sunny-side up egg.

Roasted vegetables make a delicious side dish, and they taste even better the next day.

Personally, I do not like microwaving leftover roasted vegetables because they get mushy, so I usually heat them in a pan on the stove. It’s a win-win: it only takes a few minutes, and they taste better.

You can use them cold in a salad sprinkled with goat cheese, dried cranberries, and vinaigrette; make a warm salad with greens and chicken or shrimp; or top them with an egg (one of my lunchtime faves).

Seriously, roasting your frozen veggies will make you appreciate your grocery’s freezer section!

Super-Easy Low-Calorie Frittata Recipe (So Filling!)

Super-Easy Low-Calorie Frittata Recipe (So Filling!)

The other night I made a delicious meal – OK, actually 8 meals – that required no chopping whatsoever.

Basically, all I did was throw a bunch of stuff in an oven-proof skillet and, barely 30 minutes later, ended up with a nutritious, filling and low-cal meal that tasted great. 

That’s why I love frittatas, which are kind of like Italian omelettes but require absolutely no folding or flipping. That means cooking them requires very little actual cooking (yay!).

Plus, they’re pretty much infinitely versatile and are a great way to use up any veggies or ingredients that you have left over in the fridge.

Low Calorie Frittata Recipe 

I made this frittata for my dinner on a Sunday night and, after I ate, I still had seven meals left. Well, in theory anyway, because it tasted so good that on Monday, I actually ate two servings for lunch (but once you look at the nutrition numbers, you’ll see that’s not a big deal).

Yes, the purist in me doesn’t love convenience foods. But the realist? Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and this recipe heavily relies on canned/packaged foods. But as “convenience” foods go, the ones I’ve included in this recipe are fairly harmless.

The feta cheese in this recipe doesn’t necessarily go with the Mexican theme of the rest of the ingredients, but it’s what I had the fridge and I like its zesty flavor. If you have a different cheese on-hand … or if you want to go without cheese … that’s OK. If you do a swap out, know that the nutrition info might be a bit different.

And just as you can swap out the cheese, you can also use different bean varieties and also different veggies.

But I happen to like this combo because it’s basically rinse, toss it into the pan, and cook.

Calories Count in Weight Loss

If you’re looking to make a change in your body composition, knowing exactly how much you’re eating is vital. Calorie are the units we use to measure both how much fuel we take in and how much we expend.

Creating into a modest fuel deficit is (eating just slightly less than we burn off) is the key to long-term and healthy fat loss.

Here’s how to track your calorie intake: 6 Science-Backed Reasons to Rethink Your Food Journal.

 

5-Ingredient Frittata
Serves 8
No chopping required for this recipe. Just rinse the ingredients, throw them in a skillet, and a half-hour later it's time to eat.
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194 calories
16 g
19 g
7 g
19 g
3 g
252 g
821 g
5 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
252g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 194
Calories from Fat 58
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
10%
Saturated Fat 3g
17%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 19mg
6%
Sodium 821mg
34%
Total Carbohydrates 16g
5%
Dietary Fiber 5g
18%
Sugars 5g
Protein 19g
Vitamin A
52%
Vitamin C
13%
Calcium
24%
Iron
22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 6 cups raw baby spinach, washed
  3. 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
  4. 16 oz. jar of salsa
  5. 32-oz carton of egg substitute
  6. 6 oz. reduced-fat feta cheese crumbles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large oven-proof skillet. When it's hot, add baby spinach, cooking until wilted.
  3. Add black beans and stir for 3 minutes.
  4. Add salsa and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in carton of egg substitute, stirring to make sure ingredients are evenly dispersed.
  6. Add cheese, stirring gently to incorporate into the mixture.
  7. Cook on stove for 3 to 5 minutes, then move the skillet to the oven, and cook until set, about 30 minutes (this will depend on the size of your skillet).
  8. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Cut into 8 slices.
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calories
194
fat
7g
protein
19g
carbs
16g
more
Wendy Fitness Coaching http://wendyfitness.com/
Mocha Iced Protein Latte Recipe

Mocha Iced Protein Latte Recipe

Anyone else love their iced coffees and iced lattes? Especially on a hot summer afternoon?

And especially if they’re mocha iced lattes? So yum.

The problem with coffee shop iced lattes and coffees is not only the price, but who knows what’s in them? If you’re not careful, you’ll be ingesting a bunch of unnecessary and potentially harmful sugar, fat, and processed food products (1).

Also, they really don’t do very much for you nutritionally.

That’s why I came up with this iced protein coffee recipe, which you can rev up to make a full-on latte if you want. It lets me enjoy my afternoon treat guilt-free. It’s low in sugar, has a favorable macronutrient profile (fats/carbs/protein), and is pretty darn tasty.

Adding protein not only adds some extra creaminess to this recipe, but protein helps keep your blood sugar stable as well as helping you to stay fuller, longer. Not only that, but if you are trying to lose weight, it’s important to eat an adequate amount of protein so you can maintain your muscle (2).

If you’re staying away from caffeine, this is just as delicious with decaf coffee. You also could make it with a coffee substitute, such as Teeccino or chicory root, although honestly neither of them will impart the true coffee flavor. But they’re close.

Here’s a recipe for a Starbucks-like mocha Frappuccino, revved up with some extra  protein.

I personally like to use Sun Warrior’s plant-based Warrior Blend protein in my beverages.

Mocha Iced Protein Latte
This iced protein coffee is a great afternoon pick-me-up with some muscle-building benefits. You can
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129 calories
9 g
3 g
5 g
14 g
1 g
626 g
78 g
1 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
626g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 129
Calories from Fat 34
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
8%
Saturated Fat 1g
4%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 3mg
1%
Sodium 78mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 9g
3%
Dietary Fiber 3g
10%
Sugars 1g
Protein 14g
Vitamin A
18%
Vitamin C
18%
Calcium
54%
Iron
22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup double-strength coffee, cooled
  2. 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional cocoa powder for garnish (I like the dutch processed, which is a little milder tasting than regular, more bitter, cocoa powder)
  3. 1 scoop Sun Warrior chocolate protein powder
  4. 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  5. Ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Mix the cocoa and protein powder into the milk, mixing it as smooth as you can.
  2. Place the coffee mixture into a blender with the ice and blend till smooth.
Notes
  1. For a richer coffee taste, freeze cooled coffee in an ice cube tray and use a couple cubes in place of plain ice.
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calories
129
fat
5g
protein
14g
carbs
9g
more
Wendy Fitness Coaching http://wendyfitness.com/

 Try it and Let me know!

Do you have any recipes or snacks you’d like to see healthy-ed up? Have you created healthier versions of your favorites? I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up!

Here’s How to Freeze Fresh Fruit for Your Smoothies: Cheap, All Year Long

Here’s How to Freeze Fresh Fruit for Your Smoothies: Cheap, All Year Long

Cherries were on sale last week at the grocery store. Like, big-time.

And you can big-time bet that I bought a whole bunch. I even pitted some and put them in my smoothies because they are so delicious. Plus, I was thinking of trying a couple of new recipes (cherry clafoutis, anyone?).

But guess what? Mangos were on sale too. Again: big-time. And they, too, are also delicious in smoothies and recipes.

I wanted to horde them all because I know in a couple months they’ll either be unavailable or cost four or more times what they do in-season.

You know what I hate, though? Buying fresh fruit and veggies, only to have them go bad before I can eat them. Ugh. So, no extra fruit for me.

And then I remembered. Doh.

My Grandmother’s Frozen Raspberries

Back in the day, my grandmother (“Nanny”) used to grow rows and rows of raspberries every year. Her raspberry pies were renowned – local restaurants would buy them from her for big bucks – and Nanny made the most amazing “fresh” raspberry compote even in the middle of January.

The berries weren’t mushy and nondescript mashes of goo, either. They were beautifully preserved … and it wasn’t because she did anything magical with them.

She just froze them.

And … duh! … I realized that with a teeny-tiny bit of time and effort, I can freeze practically any fruit I want, too, the same exact way Nanny did. I remember hanging out in the kitchen with her every summer during the not-so-elaborate freezing process.

I know this isn’t rocket science, but I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen and I figure if this hasn’t occurred to me before, then it likely will be new-ish news to someone else. (I hope the mangoes are still on sale this week.)

How to Freeze Fruit for Smoothies and Healthy Recipes

How to freeze fruit for smoothies

  • First, gather your fruit and thoroughly wash it.
  • Then, grab a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper.

Next, it’s time to prep the fruit.

  • For larger fruits and/or those with pits, you will want to remove the skin or peel, and then slice them.
  • Citrus fruits can be divided into sections or quarters.
  • Fruits that turn brown – like apples – can be dipped into a solution with lemon and water to prevent them from discoloring.
  • Berries need no additional prep beyond washing.

Once your fruit is good to go, all you do is place it on the lined cookie sheet, and then put the sheet in the freezer for 2 to 24 hours. After, you can put the fruit into containers (I use freezer bags) in portion-sized amounts so it’s ready for a quick grab & go.

Seriously, so easy!

Beyond smoothies, this frozen fruit can go a long way toward beating an ice cream craving. Just put some frozen fruit in a high-speed blender and whir it up into a sorbet-like concoction. Delish! 

This morning I threw together a quick and easy smoothie from my fresh-frozen fruits.

Banana Cherry Smoothie
Serves 1
This delicious smoothie is packed with vitamins and minerals to start your day right ... but it also makes a great anytime snack.
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337 calories
54 g
1 g
11 g
11 g
1 g
475 g
60 g
32 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
475g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 337
Calories from Fat 80
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 1g
7%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 1mg
0%
Sodium 60mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 54g
18%
Dietary Fiber 9g
38%
Sugars 32g
Protein 11g
Vitamin A
71%
Vitamin C
50%
Calcium
54%
Iron
19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 medium frozen banana
  2. 10 frozen cherries
  3. 1 cup baby spinach
  4. 1/4 avocado
  5. 1/2 scoop protein powder
  6. 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Instructions
  1. Put it all in a high-speed blender and blend till smooth. Add more nut milk as needed.
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calories
337
fat
11g
protein
11g
carbs
54g
more
Wendy Fitness Coaching http://wendyfitness.com/

Try it and let me know how you like it!