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February 10, 2016
by Shalama Jackson

Does a messy kitchen make you snack more?

Does your kitchen make you snack more? A new study says a messy kitchen can lead to weight gain.Sometimes I wish I had a fairy dishwasher that can keep all of the dishes washed and put away. It’s amazing how many dishes can accumulated when you meal prep and eat six meals a day.

If you are like me, it might be tempting to delay doing dishes. But new research may have you scrubbing them sooner rather than later.

According to a study conducted at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, spending time in a cluttered and chaotic kitchen may cause us to double the amount of calories we eat.

“Being in a chaotic environment and feeling out of control is bad for diet,” said lead author Lenny Vartanian. “It seems to lead people to think, ‘Everything else is out of control, so why shouldn’t I be’.”

Dishes in my kitchen

It depends on the day. Sometimes it also depends on the time of day.

I always go to bed and wake up with a clean kitchen. What happens in between there remains to be seen. Preparing a variety of food to follow my meal plan plus carrying four meals a day can create chaos and a ton of dishes.

I am glad that I am not prone to snacking when the kitchen is a little messy. It also helps that I do not currently have many additional snacks except for my little man. There aren’t any snacks on bowls on the counters for my fingers to just gravitate towards as in the study.

The heart of your home

Have you ever stopped and wondered why family and friends tend to congregate in the kitchen?

In many homes, the kitchen wears many hats. It’s the center of the family team huddle, the place for chatting with friends, the computer room for paying bills, an entertainment center, a child’s art museum and lets not forget its original purpose—a place to enjoy good food with family and friends.

It’s the place we all gravitate to regardless of its condition.

The messiest and cleanest room at the same time

It’s funny how the kitchen can be the messiest and cleanest room at the same time. It doesn’t take a lot to throw us off our game or come up with excuses, if we let it.

Here are a couple of ways to combat the urge that can lead to snacking and weight gain.

  1. Limit temptation. If you’re allowing yourself a treat, do it in moderation. Don’t sit down with the entire bag of chips or cookies.
  2. Treat your snacks like a meal. Take the time to put your snack on a plate, sit down and enjoy it like a meal instead of standing in the kitchen digging into the bag of chips or whatever.
  3. Control your environment. If you have trouble with control, don’t bring the snacks into your home. You can’t eat what is not there.

What does your kitchen look like daily? Do you let dishes pile up or take care of them right away?

February 8, 2016
by Shalama Jackson

Dealing with setbacks when they come your way

Setbacks are not a gamechanger. 3 tips you can use to deal with setbacksI have been on the countdown to get back on the stage this spring for a few weeks now. I decided quickly after my first show that running a winter half marathon and marathon were out of the question because I was bit by the bug for the sport of bodybuilding.

And thanks to my coach, we’ve been grinding hard in the gym. It’s closely followed by the amount of time I spend preparing meals in the kitchen.

But something happened the other day that put a damper on the current flow to things. Instead of stepping on stage in March, it looks like it will be April or May. I’m honestly hoping for April, but we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks. It’s a little set back, but a setback none the less.

Setbacks happen to everyone.

Many of us experience setbacks on our way to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves. Some we have control over and some we don’t.

Don’t let a setback deter you from what your goals. A setback does not mean you have to work a little harder or readjust your timeline. It does not have to be a complete game changer.

For me, this set back is a little disappointing to me. It took me a couple of days to get over it and think about the overall picture and goals that we have set. It’s about more than just getting back on stage. Yes, I want to get back on stage. But I also want to have noticeable improvement in my physique from November.

A setback is not a game changer. Setbacks allow for you to regroup and make adjustments to reach your goal.Here are 3 tips to help you handle the setbacks if and when they occur

1. Acknowledge them. Stuffing the setback in the back of the closet or trying to ignore it won’t help you in the long run.

When you have a setback, whether it’s eating something you’re not supposed to be eating or skipping a workout, it usually helps to acknowledge the setback. You should acknowledge your feelings about it. Are you upset? Disappointed? Sad? Once you have acknowledged the setback and the feelings associated with it, let it go and get back to work.

2. Examine and learn from them. Why did you have the setback? Did a bad day drive you straight to the fast food restaurant? Did you not eat enough causing your body to crave those sugary carbs that are most likely not in your diet?

Setbacks happen and they don’t have to be negative if you can learn from them.

3. Focus on the positive. We tend to judge ourselves on our failure. We do something we aren’t suppose to like eat that cupcake or burger and then later we are beating ourselves up for the decision. Rather than focusing on what you did wrong, think about what you did right today. There’s always something.

While my setback is a bit disappointing, adding some more muscle is what we are focused on. More muscle means more food and lifting heavy. It’s pretty funny that bread with peanut butter has been added into my diet. I haven’t had bread on a regular basis in a long time. It’s not exactly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but it’s a step in that direction. I know there won’t be any jelly any time soon. A girl can only dream.

A setback is a setup for a comeback.

I read that line somewhere before and it rings true for me these days. Hopefully, it is something you can hold onto too. When you experience a setback, get in the right mind frame and make decisions about what you have in control.

How do you deal with setbacks? What was the last setback you experienced?



January 27, 2016
by Shalama Jackson

Taking your fitness to flight

Tips to help travel with food for your next flight to avoid hold up at TSAT-3 days. Figure prep is under way and it’s time for a girls weekend in New York City.

If you are like me, checking a bag for a trip less than 5 days is a huge no-no even when I travel with food. The last thing I want to do, unless I have to, when I get to my destination is wait at baggage claim. I like to go from the plane to jump in a cab and off to the hotel or hop in the car of whoever is picking me up.

So, everything I bring has to comply with the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. The 3-1-1 rule limits the amount of liquid a passenger can bring on in airplane in carry-on bags.

Knowing the rules can relieve frustrations, for a girl like me, when meal planning and carrying it through security. This week I am traveling to New York for a girls’ weekend with a stop to see The Color Purple. It’s a weekend of fun but I am still prepping for the 2016 NPC Border Klash on March 26 and I can’t completely fall off the wagon.

I have not been a fan of chicken for more than a month, but I will pack it, boiled eggs, Buff Bites, rice cakes with  single servings of peanut butter and oatmeal.

If you’re meal prepping for a trip that requires flying, keep a few things in mind.

Travel sizes to go

We all have our condiments that we can’t live without.  So look for places where you can buy single-serve portions – or grab a few extra cups of peanut butter when checking out the hotel buffet in the morning for your next trip. Peanut butter, jellies, ketchup and mustard can be purchased from your local grocery store or stores like Target.

Solids are the way to go

Understanding the alternatives for some of your liquid-based options is helpful when meal prepping. Go for things like boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, chicken, pouches of tuna or chicken or nuts.

When in doubt, freeze it

The TSA allows items that are fully frozen to clear security. Be mindful that items that have started to thaw are subject to the discretion of TSA agents. So, an easy option is to freeze a couple of your meals and use the microwave when you get to your location.

Know your options on the ground

Check out the area near your hotel to see what options you might have to grab liquids like water, milk and juices. Keep in mind that even a CVS or gas station may have condiments you want for your meals.

There’s no reason to ditch all of your plans or hard work because you are about to fly. You can travel with food without undue stress. Fly safe and enjoy your trip.

What foods or snacks do you take when you travel? What other tips do you have?

January 23, 2016
by Shalama Jackson

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

what do you see when you look in the mirror?What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you look clearly or are you seeing yourself through a frosted view that has been built up over time?

How does your self-talk usually go? Are you tearing yourself down or giving yourself gentle encouragement?

For the past few days I have been having self doubt moments as I am going through competition prep. I keep wondering if I will be ready and is my body really changing in ways that it needs to while I prepare it through this journey.


Look in the mirror and see the real youI definitely wonder will I have more muscle definition, will I still be self conscious about my core and will I feel comfortable on stage.

The power of our own self talk is grossly underestimated. When looking at oneself and saying negative things like “You’re fat…” “You’re ugly…” “You won’t make it….” “I’ll never get x so what’s the point?” isn’t very helpful.

You may not even realize that you do this. It might be so subtle in the thought process that it sneaks in and before you know it you are believing this nonsense as truth.

So, I’m working on this too. I’m working on thinking positively about what I see when I look in the mirror. It’s my goal not to nitpick over things and appreciate all of my hard work as well as take compliments from others that notice how hard I have been grinding.

There are so many times when we are offered sincere compliments by loved ones or even strangers but we choose to ignore it.

If you are offered a compliment it’s because another human being has noticed something wonderful about you, something they probably covet themselves and want to express their appreciation.

Accept a compliment for what it is – a kind gesture.

If you find it very hard to accept compliments it may be that you need to compliment yourself a little more. Stop with the negative self-talk and celebrate your perceived hang ups as part of your being that makes you unique.

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you give and accept compliments?