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Why I eat dessert every night

I want to first say, that you should eat whatever you want, whenever they want. Food is food, not "good" or "bad" foods,  just foods that are more nutritious than others. Nothing should be "off-limits," and if you're trying to lose weight (that's great if that's your goal, but don't feel pressured to!), you shouldn't deprive yourself.

OK, now that we got that out of the way, I should admit that I am one of those people on a weight-loss journey. Not because I'm trying to achieve a certain aesthetic or because I feel pressured to — I feel healthy ad strong— but I noticed my weight creeping up the last couple years. Since I am in perimenopause and staring at menopause in the near future, I'm more at risk for gaining weight, and all the health implications that come along with that, as well as more weight stresses bones and joints.  I also suffer from anxiety, and experimented with which foods can help my mood. I want to be healthy and happy control, and also be a little lighter so I can power through my workouts (less weight to try and pull during pull-ups!), keep my strength and agility.

I've been using a macro and calorie-tracking app to track my food and I aim to stay within a macro and calorie range each day. Since I don't follow a regimented, strict diet and my only goal is to hit a specific macro and calorie range, no foods are "off-limits." This gives me room to enjoy my favorite foods (in moderation, of course) and never feel deprived.

I should also admit that love sweets: cake, muffins, and creme brûlée are my weaknesses, while I feel no temptation from chips, pretzels, and snack-type foods. I would rather have a cinnamon chip coffee cake muffin, than dive into a bag of Lay's. Knowing this, I won't deprive myself of something  sweet after dinner. If I told myself dessert was completely off limits, it would make me crave it more, leading to an unhealthy binge and probable weight gain. So I enjoy dessert every night. It has not impacted my weightloss, and here's why.

I always recommend my clients enjoy 150 calories of whatever they want at the end of the day, even if they are trying to lose weight. Everyone needs a little break from dieting, and I feel 150 calories each day of discretionary calories won't break the bank, especially if it's budgeted in. Think of it like the carrot at the end of the day. An end-of-day treat doesn't necessarily have to be dessert; it can be a glass of wine, a small bowl of chips, or a mini bag of popcorn. It will help you get through each day and help you stick to your plan.

If you can budget for this 150 calories within your daily calorie target, it won't have an impact on your weight-loss goals at all. But even if you go over by 150 calories every once in a while, it won't totally derail your progress.


I eat the foods I enjoy. A handful of berries won't cut is as dessert if I crave a piece of chocolate. So to  make it work, I'm careful to measure out portion sizes. I'm a big fan of Skinny Dipped Almonds, and budget for a serving (about 15 almonds) of the Chocolate Peanut Butter. I love chocolate and peanut butter, so eating these chocolate-covered almonds was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Each serving had about 150 calories, 12 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbs, and seven grams of sugar.

My other go-to treat is dark chocolate caramel wedges from Trader Joe's. I buy the little tins of the  from the checkout line. Two pieces are big enough and sweet enough to be satisfying. Two chocolate caramel wedges have about 60 calories, four grams of fat, seven grams of carbs, and five grams of sugar. I'm usually satisfied after one or two pieces.

Other desserts I reach for are four squares of Lilly's Chocolate (sweetened with stevia) which comes in many flavors, my favorite is the salted caramel which contains 54 calories, 5 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 0 grams of sugar per four squares, or one of my homemade gluten free chocolate chip cookies (100 calories, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs, 5 grams of sugar per cookie).

Since I know the nutritional information for everything I eat, I factor it into my daily calorie budget. But even if I don't allot for dessert that day and go over my daily calorie target with dinner, I still treate myself every night.

My weight fluctuates like crazy and the scale continues to surprise me — I could gain three pounds overnight or lose a half a pound after a weekend eating nothing but pizza and Nutella. But what I find eating dessert each night, is that there are less binges, and I still can lose weight. It's a reminder that I can eat the foods I love and crave without impeding my progress.

I should also note that, in general, I weigh myself every few days. I have a fraught history with the scale — I used to weigh myself obsessively every day — and while the number on it used to have a huge impact on my mood (positively and negatively), I no longer tie my happiness to what the scale says. If it's a higher number than I'm expecting, I acknowledge that and move on with my day.


When I would try (unhealthily) to lose weight in the past, I had an all-or-nothing mentality. I would cut out everything I considered "bad," including sweets and dessert, all in the name of losing weight. I could last for maybe a week or two, but would crave sweets and sugary carbs so heavily. Inevitably, I would not only give in to my cravings, but go on a full-on binge buying candy from CVS or giant muffins from the bakery.

By eating a little bit of something sweet each night after dinner, I honor my cravings without going on a sugar binge. This habit satisfies my sweet tooth and leaves me feeling satisfied after dinner  — without a sugar rush or inevitable crash and stomachache like after a dessert binge.

Sometimes I don't crave something sweet after dinner, in which case I'm totally satisfied with my evening meal. But other times I do, and I know that if I reach for one of my go-to desserts, I shouldn't beat myself up about it. I can enjoy the foods I love and still stay on track with my goals.

Meal Planning Made Smarter - The Ultimate Portion Fix

Autumn Calabrese, 21 Day Fix, Portion Fix, Ultimate Portion Fix, Tosca Reno, Clean Eating,,,
The 21 Day Fix introduced the world to the rainbow portion control containers, and now it's creator Autumn Calabrese revamped the nutrition program to make it EVEN BETTER to achieve results! Portion controlled containers changed my life. I was eating healthy foods, but in large quantities! I love food!

Portion control is just the beginning. In this new program, Autumn dives in to other principles including balanced macronutrients and eliminating processed foods from your diet. The Ultimate Portion Fix will help you break your sugar addiction, get your whole family on board with eating healthy, and teach you how to maximize your nutrition for performance.

The Ultimate Portion Fix is about giving your body exactly what it needs to operate at its best! No starving. No random points that disregard food source. No fasting. No trendy fad. This is how you enjoy food, and get the most out of it because it feeds your body what it needs in the right ratio!
Autumn Calabrese, 21 Day Fix, Portion Fix, Ultimate Portion Fix, Tosca Reno, Clean Eating,,,

What’s included in the program?

  • Over 30 new videos about the containers and principles of the nutrition plan
  • Portion control containers
  • A workbook and daily logbook
  • Fixate Volume 2 Cookbook with 102 new recipes
  • Access to over 200 episodes of the Fixate Cooking Show
  • 75 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids PDF
  • Tracking with the Nutrition+ and Beachbody on Demand apps
  • BONUS: When you purchase the Ultimate Portion Fix before April 1, you’ll get real time streaming of 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme Workouts, so you can work out together with Autumn Calabrese starting April 1, 2019
The Combo pack will also include an Insulated Beachbody Tote Bag that comes with large partitioned containers, ice packs, and plenty of storage so you can take your food with you wherever you go.

But the best part of purchasing the Ultimate Portion Fix is that you get access to me as a coach as well as an invitation to my UPF Lifestyle Challenge Group!!

When does UPF launch?

The program comes out on March 18, 2019 for customers and live workouts will start on April 1.

If you are interested in earning a discount or making an income, you can get early access to the program on March 4 by signing up as a coach. If that sounds like something you’d like to do, click here.

Why should I work with Vanessa?

You can try the Ultimate Portion Fix by yourself, but I know from experience that I achieve success when I am surrounded by like-minded people who can hold me accountable!!

I have been running my coaching business for four and a half years, and I have some tried and true methods for success to share with you. I have run over 50 Virtual Fit Clubs, and I have developed a toolkit full of tips, motivation, meal planning ideas, and more so that you can manage going on vacation, late night snacking, and any other issues that might arise during your busy life!

I love the Portion Fix and I’ve been using it for four and a half years. It helped me get my portions under control and hone in on my nutrition, which is why I am so excited to run a Virtual Fit Club full of women like yourself who are looking for a little extra support in their health and fitness journey!! We will work together to keep each other on track and along the way I will share my little tips and tricks for making your life easier.

I'm interested in the Ultimate Portion Fix

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How I got the funk out of my workout clothes, and my teenaged sons' stink out too!

 I have a sports bra problem. Specifically, I have a stinky sports bra, workout clothing laundry problem.

I'm not typically a smelly person (…pretty sure), but recently I noticed that even after washing, my workout clothes were a little, especially my sports bra (which was right under my nose) smelled, well, funky. Or they would smell fine right out of the wash, but as soon as I put them on and started sweating again, things got a little ripe. Ick.

Things got even worse when I went for a run, or did hot yoga. When you wear a tank top, sports bra, and leggings for an hour-long workout high heat, then drop those soaking-wet clothes in hamper until the next load of laundry, you've got a recipe for serious stench. No amount of washing with regular detergent would get the smell out. I even washed with Tide Sport, but that did nothing, other than mix the stench with a floral smell.

In addition, I'm the mom of two teen boys. If you've ever smelled teen boys, not just their workout clothes, but their every day clothes can crinkle the nose of the most loving mother!

Odor in workout clothing is most commonly caused by a buildup of sweat and bacteria from your body. Then, how you store your dirty workout clothes can also lead to additional odors—for example, leaving sweaty clothes in a closed up gym bag, locker, or hamper. (Guilty no longer).

In addition, the very qualities that keep high-performance fabrics comfortable during a workout—their ability to push water out of their fibers rather than retaining it, so you stay drier—make it harder for sudsy water in your washing machine to penetrate the fabric and pull the sweat and bacteria out.

I had to get rid of the stink, so I embarked on a quest to find the absolute best way to get workout clothes odor-free. First, some general tips from my research and own trial-and-error:
  • Turn clothes inside out before washing (since the sweat, oils, and bacteria from your body accumulate on the inside of the clothes).
  • Always use the sniff test before putting the garment into the dryer (although I don't dry my workout clothes, because the heat ruins the elastic/spandex material).
  • Wash clothes as soon as possible after wearing (I do this now, just throw in a load a day).
  • If possible, let sweaty clothes air out immediately rather than stuffing them into a plastic bag or hamper.
  • Don't use more detergent than recommended or overstuff the machine, both of which make it harder for clothes to rinse clean. (In my tests, every single method did worse if I crammed too many items into one load.)
I ended up testing the list of specialty "stink be gone" detergents and boosters below (five in all).  How I did it: I tried each method or specialty detergent at least two times (most of them four or five times), always washing in warm water and hanging dry. Each load had at least one super stinky hot yoga, or hot run item in it. I sniffed everything right out of the wash and after drying, and also noted if clothes smelled worse when worn. I paired the natural methods with my usual laundry detergent, Method,  a greener brand. For the specialty detergents, I focused on brands that were also environmentally friendly.
My requirements: a liquid whole detergent (not a laundry booster), that words with my front load washing machine laundry soap tray, that gets out the stink, and is environmentally friendly. (I know, I want it all)!

Here are the brands I used, and my review of each:

OxyClean Odor Blasters: this is a laundry booster, which means it's used in addition to your regular laundry detergent. It sort of worked, but it infiltrated a strong, flowery scent to all my workout clothes, which then I started to smell while working out, and I didn't like.

Defunkify: This worked well, however, it is a powder, and doesn't work in a front load washer soap tray. However, it's HE machine compatible, and you can place a scoop of powder right in with the dirty clothes.

Biokleen BAC-OUT: This also got the skink out, but is a laundry booster, so used in addition to detergent. This is used for cloth diapers, and it is powerful, but environmentally friendly, and a liquid.

Rockin' Green Soap - Well-known for getting the stick and bacteria out of workout wear. It's a powder, so not compatible with the front loader machine soap tray. However, it's HE machine compatible, and you can place a scoop of powder right in with the dirty clothes. The directions state soaking the clothes in a bathtub first, before washing. This is not feasible in my busy lifestyle.

FunkAway: another laundry booster (but my favorite). Priced well, de-stinks, and is a liquid! It has a very mild, fresh, clean pleasing scent. However, I have to use it in addition to detergent.

I couldn't find one that met all my requirements, but I'll keep getting the FunkAway for the price and effectiveness along with my Method detergent.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when washing workout wear:
Using too much detergent is probably the biggest mistake people make when it comes to laundry, and if there’s one place where I can encourage you to kick the habit, it’s when washing sweaty, smelly exercise apparel. Using more detergent won’t leave your clothes cleaner; instead, it leaves a buildup of soap residue that traps odors in clothes after going through the wash.

Use a laundry booster or sports detergent (from my list above).
Boosters are used in laundry in addition to regular detergent. For eliminating odor, you can try adding a quarter-cup to a half-cup — again, depending on load size — of white vinegar or baking soda to the wash.

Wash like fabrics together.
Avoid washing athletic gear, especially if it has stretch in it, with towels, fleece and other linty items, as well as with very heavy garments, like jeans and sweatshirts. Athletic clothes with stretch in them will pick up stray lint in the wash, and heavy items can lead to pilling and damage to more delicate athleisure-wear.

No fabric softener
Fabric softener leaves a coating on clothing that can lead to odor retention, even in clean laundry. That coating, especially when it builds up, makes it harder for water and detergent to fully penetrate the fibers, trapping odor-causing bacteria.

Avoid heat
Elastic clothing doesn’t love being exposed to high heat, and that heat will also amplify odors. Wash workout clothes in cold water, stick with the low- or no-heat dryer setting or, better yet, allow exercise clothes to air dry.

Crab Cakes - Gluten Free, Keto, Clean

Made these EASY and HEALTHY super-delicious crab cakes for dinner along with this crispy, roasted, garlic broccoli (a family favorite for over 10 years)!

Here is the recipe for the crab crakes, and the broccoli recipe is linked above and below.

(Makes 8 - 2 per serving)

1 Pound Lump Crab Meat
1/2 Cup White Onion
1 TBSP Olive Oil
3 TBSP Almond Flour
2 Eggs
2 TBSP Full Fat Greek Yogurt or Mayo
1 TSP Coconut Aminos
1 TSP Yellow Mustard
1 TBSP Dried Parsley Flakes
1 TBSP Old Bay Seasoning


1. Dice 1/2 Cup of White Onion, and brown in a skillet over Medium Heat with 2 Teaspoons of Olive Oil. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. In a Large Mixing Bowl add the 1 Pound of Lump Crab Meat, then add the Browned Onions.Then add in the Almond Flour, Egg Whites, Avocado Mayo, Coconut Aminos, Yellow Mustard, Dried Parsley Flakes, and Old Bay Seasoning.

3. Stir the mixture until it is thoroughly combined.
Set some Parchment Paper on a Large Baking Sheet to set the uncooked crab cakes onto, and then scoop out roughly 1/8th of the mixture to form each individual crab cake. I used a half cup ice cream scoop. You could also use a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measuring cup.

4. In a Skillet over Medium heat, warm up 2 Teaspoons of Olive Oil, and then add as many Crab Cakes as you can at a time without them touching each other. Cook on each side for about 3-5 minutes or until Golden Brown.

5. Once cooked, serve right away with your choice of a side dish. I served it with Crispy Garlic Roasted Broccoli.

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Pumpkin Spice Crumb Cake

This crumb cake is gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free! It goes perfectly for a fall breakfast along with a 37 calorie Pumpkin Spice Latte.


½ cup almond flour
½ cup coconut flour
⅓ cup Swerve
3 tablespoons ground flax
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
⅓ cup canned pumpkin
¼ cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumb Topping
2 tablespoons melted butter
⅓ cup almond flour
¼ cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons Swerve
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch sea salt


Heat oven to 350°F. Whisk together the dry ingredients (almond flour through baking powder) in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, milk, butter, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir to combine.

Add batter to an 8-by-8-inch dish coated with cooking spray. Stir together the crumb topping ingredients. Sprinkle over the top, and bake for 30-32 minutes on a middle rack until set and the top is golden brown. Let cool before cutting into 9 squares.

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Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Spaghetti Squash, dinner recipe, keto, gluten free, 21 Day Fix, 2B Mindset, Clean eating, Autumn Calabrese, Tosca Reno,, vanessadotfitness, vanessa mclaughlin,
This sinfully delicious Spaghetti Squash Lasagna is made with all-natural marinara, ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and healthy spaghetti squash.

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 1 hr 17 mins

Servings 4

1 small spaghetti squash (approx. 3½ to 4 lbs.)
Nonstick cooking spray
4 cups all-natural marinara sauce (no sugar added)
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups ground meat of choice (beef, chicken, turkey)
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup chopped onions
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and membrane.
  4. Place spaghetti squash, cut side down, on baking sheet. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until tender. I like to drain it so its not so watery after baking. (You can also use the microwave or Instant Pot to cook the spaghetti squash).
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350º F.
  6. Scrape spaghetti squash flesh into stringy noodles.
  7. Lightly coat 4-quart baking dish with spray.
  8. Evenly layer half spaghetti squash, half marinara sauce, and half ricotta cheese in baking dish. Repeat with second layer.
  9. Evenly top with Parmesan cheese.
  10. Bake for 30 to 32 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.
  11. Garnish with basil (if desired)
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Calling all Pumpkin Spice lovers!!

Pumpkin Spice, Fall, Shakeology, Autumn Calabrese, Tosca Reno, Clean Eating, Ilana Muhlstein,,, vanessadotfitness, vanessa mclaughlin, 21 Day Fix, 2B Mindset,
Pumpkin Spice lovers: You asked, they listened! Look what's coming soon!!! Pumpkin Spice Vegan Shakeology! If you're like me, come fall, I love Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING!! Each fall I would create my own Pumpkin Spike Shakeology, but I needed quite a few ingredients, and would always race to finish the can of pureed pumpkin before it spoiled.
Now, I can whip it up quickly, without any wasted pumpkin!!!


Pumpkin Spice Vegan Shakeology is a limited edition, rich, creamy, shake with notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger that delivers the delicious taste of fall with all the benefits of Shakeology.

For a limited time only, starting September 15, 2018, customers can order Pumpkin Spice Vegan in 14 single-serve packet boxes as a one-time purchase. *There is no limit to how many customers can buy while supplies last. However, there will be no monthly subscription option as Pumpkin Spice Vegan is available only while supplies last.

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Shakeology will be available exclusively in the US in limited quantities.

Order Options
Pumpkin Spice Vegan Shakeology can be ordered as a one-time purchase only as monthly auto-ship is not an option.
However, customers may buy as many boxes as they like, while supplies last.

Product Configurations
Bag – Not available
Packets – 14 single-serve packets

Availability – Starting Fall 2018, while supplies last.

Supplement Details

Nutrition Label – US – Link coming soon! (Not available in CA or UK)

FDA Compliant – Yes

Vegan – Yes

Kosher – No.

Gluten Free – Formulated without gluten ingredients, but not certified. View article 5611

Certified Organic – No, but the possibility of a completely organic Shakeology is being researched

Certified GMO-Free – No, but it’s formulated without genetically modified ingredients

Pumpkin Spice Shakeology Pricing –$74.95 for a 14 single-serve packets box. Preferred customers get 25% off!! 

Want to be the first to know when it becomes available for purchase?
Fill out this form below and I will be in touch with more info.