Annette Milbers holding a banana & apple

Nutrition coach and personal trainer Annette Milbers isn’t your typical fitness personality. She didn’t get famous yelling at overweight people on national television. She doesn’t have her own line of lifestyle apparel or at-home workout DVDs. And she’s never written a best-selling book about weight loss. But perhaps she should. Because what our March/April cover athlete does have in common with the big-name celebrity trainers of the world (besides being hella gorgeous) is knowledge—the kind that comes with more than 10 years of training human bodies to become better, stronger, leaner, and healthier. She knows what it takes to achieve not only a killer bod, but also a balanced lifestyle, in which wine and tacos and barbecue are never completely off limits.

It’s for these reasons and more that we appointed Annette to the position of Head Coach of STRONG Nutrition Coaching, our new macronutrient-focused program based on the principles of flexible dieting. Not only is she coming from a place of education, but also personal experience. “I wanted to learn how to eat as a lifestyle, nourishing and loving my body,” says Annette. “I learned the tools to maintain health and wellness through regular life as well as being an athlete, through three pregnancies, and working full-time. I want other women to feel they can do it too, starting with accepting themselves first.”

We sat down with Annette to pick her brain about finding that balance, developing a healthy relationship with food, and still having a kickass body that looks as phenomenal as it is fit. What she had to say may not only open your eyes to the simplicity of proper nutrition, it may just change the way you look at dieting forever.

1. Eat breakfast.

Although she admits to skipping it for years, breakfast has become Annette’s favorite meal. It energizes her for her busy day and helps power her workouts. “It’s amazing how much more efficiently our bodies work all around when fueled properly when we wake up.”

2. Plan ahead.

Always in a rush to get out the door in the morning? Be prepared so you don’t have to skip your most important meal. “My favorite breakfast is an omelette with veggies and a bowl of oatmeal. I often make the eggs and veggies in muffin tins the night before so I can grab them quickly. I also stock the cupboards and fridge at my office with hard boiled eggs and oats for rushed mornings.”

3. If you’re hungry, eat.

When a 3 p.m. snack attack strikes, quash that hunger with a small but satisfying meal so you don’t end up binging later. “I really enjoy having a mid-afternoon shake with protein, berries, and coconut oil. Sometimes I will have Greek yogurt with berries and nuts for a similar combination of protein, carbs, and fats, but with the added crunch.”

4. You don’t have to be perfect.

Eating clean 100 percent of the time doesn’t just suck, it’s also unrealistic. “I really am a strong believer in the 80/20 rule: eating clean foods 80 percent of the time and having other choices 20 percent of the time. This creates balance and takes away the negative feelings towards foods. It allows the freedom to enjoy a piece of birthday cake on your child’s birthday or a glass of wine on date night. It avoids the roller coaster of depriving and binges or overeating.”

5. Had a slip up? Let it go.

Okay, so you went a little overboard at dinner or couldn’t resist a second doughnut from the breakroom. It’s not the end of the world. Forgive yourself and move on. “Eating and fueling is just as important emotionally as it is nourishing. Do not spend energy beating yourself up with negative talk, it accomplishes nothing.”

6. Understand that proper nutrition is a lifestyle, not a diet.

Making real, lasting changes to your body and health begins in your brain. Depriving yourself for a few weeks or following a crash diet may have short-term results, but isn’t sustainable. “Proper nutrition is a lifestyle change, not a bandwagon to jump on and off. Mentally preparing to change certain habits and thoughts is huge.”

7. You don’t have to order salad.

Going to a restaurant isn’t off limits, nor does it need to be stressful. When you nourish your body properly most of the time (again, that 80/20 rule), it allows you to enjoy a rich meal or dessert on occasion. “Understanding how our bodies thrive on nutrient dense foods, but still allowing for other choices some of the time helps you remain balanced. Restaurants are usually happy to adapt anything on the menu for your particular requests if you are wanting to stick to clean choices.

8. Don’t fear carbs. Use them.

You may think slashing carbohydrates from your diet is a sure-fire way to drop some pounds, but think again. Carbohydrates provide energy to move and think properly, and help drive protein to your hungry muscles. “Carbs are absolutely not evil. They fuel us for performance.”

For more on Coach Annette and STRONG Nutrition Coaching, check out strongfitnessmag.com/community.
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