5 ways to kickstart your health before the new year

2019 is around the corner, and the inevitable health related resolutions will soon be everywhere - only to be forgotten by the time the year is closing. I am all for making healthy habits a goal, but if you’re constantly waiting for a new week, or in this case a new year, to kick your butt into gear, you can pretty much guarantee a fall out.

When taking care of ourselves is a chore, when we approach it with dread and something to be ‘worried about tomorrow’ we are setting ourselves up for failure. We are basically saying to ourselves ‘that it is too hard’, ‘I can’t stick with it’, and ‘I won’t enjoy it so why start today?’ Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy, if we don’t believe in ourselves, what do we have left? If you’re fitness and nutrition goals cause you dread, you need to reevaluate them.

In the new year there will be plenty of talk about realistic goal setting, but for right now I wanted to share my tips for focusing on health RIGHT NOW. Not next Monday, not after that party, not in the new year - right now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - our health is made up of what we do consistently every day. It’s every day, of every month, of every year, added up. Making a healthy habit matter now will not only help you start the new year feeling great, but it is also going to help you keep it up and create a lifestyle, instead of some extreme and fleeting goal.

So here some ways you might take action now. These are things I am doing in an effort to balance the holiday events and keep my health and wellness on the priority list. I hope they inspire you!

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5 ways to kickstart your health before the new year

  1. Get your fitness on. If you have a fitness routine, keep it up. If your schedule is looking more full like mine is, try looking at your week coming up and jotting down in my calendar what movement you will get, and when. For instance ‘AM yoga’ or ‘PM jog’ or ‘Lunchtime barre class’. Schedule it so you don’t need to think about it and decide in the moment when you’re likely to be distracted or tired.

  2. Stop stocking your pantry with sugary sweets. I am all about moderation and balance. The fact of the matter is, we eat more sweets this time of year. I am making a conscious effort to save my sweet treats for events and parties and cut back on what we have in the house for this month. We usually buy cookies every week to have around for dessert in lunches or a sweet treat as desired, but with some many opportunities for the really yummy stuff, we don’t need those habitual sweets around. That is balance.

  3. Get more sleep. So hard, but needs to be focused on, especially as you get busy. Even an extra 30 minutes can make a difference, so do what you can to wrap up our nights on time.

  4. Extra fruit or veggies at a meal or snack. Just that little bit of attention can make all the difference. Make it a point to add something new like spinach to your eggs, or fruit to your morning snack. Not only does it help you get in your important nutrients, but also will help maintain immunity during this sick season.

  5. Meal prep - even when you’re busy. A lot of people travel this time of year and with so many events there is less time for cooking and prepping. Again, have a plan, and keep it simple for yourself. See what grains, proteins, and veggies you can pair together easily with minimal prep time. Don’t forget to embrace some helpful items like great frozen grains or veggies, and use a grocery service like Instacart or grocery pick up for more ease and less stress.

Is there something you’re doing this month to stay focused and well? I would love to hear about it!

from the archives: three thanksgiving tips: eat, eat & eat

Hello all,

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Today I am bringing you one of my favorite blog posts out of the archives. I have three tips for having a healthier Thanksgiving, and guess what? They're all about eating! I wrote this original post four years ago, but my tips STILL apply and I STILL share them with my clients. Stop worrying about how to eat less and move more this Thanksgiving. Stop torturing and restricting yourself (I promise, it will only backfire!) Enjoy food, do so mindfully, and enjoy time with family and friends. I hope the tips below give you some actionable ideas for approaching this holiday with gratitude and peace of mind and help you leave your diet worry at the door.


First, remember your health and wellness is a product of consistency. This means, you build your foundation year round, 365 days. The holiday season, which inevitably starts Thanksgiving week and goes until the New Year, is just a small portion of the year. I am not saying this is an excuse to load up on sugar and alcohol for the next month and a half. I am saying you can indulge without derailing your progress on your health journey. You are a product of the choices you make everyday over many days. This means you can enjoy yourself, and the world won't end. Remember: when you tell yourself you "can't" eat something or you restrict what you are allowed to eat your cravings are not properly satisfied and you set yourself up to overeat. When we tell our body no, it says yes - so be kind and compassionate with yourself! My three simple tips can help you approach Thanksgiving with joy and excitement about food instead of worry. 

 

three thanksgiving tips

1. eat before you go

Okay, so I know this is something you have heard before, but it is important. If you skip breakfast you will 100% end up overeating and unable to make mindful food choices. Don't show up to Thanksgiving with low blood sugar and ready to stuff yourself. Eat plenty of greens, healthy fats, and protein in the meals leading up to the big one. This helps you start the day with balanced blood sugars which will help you take a calm and mindful approach to the big meal. Plus, when you get your veggies in the morning you can focus on the yummy stuff come meal time! An egg casserole is one of my favorite meals for Thanksgiving morning.

2. eat what is special

When you don't make any food off limits you are open to truly enjoying food and being satisfied. Sometimes, holidays can feel like the the last chance meal. The last chance you will get to have went potato casserole or stuffing, the last chance for endless desserts. It doesn't need to be this way! Remember, many of thse items you can make and enjoy whenever you want. You are an adult, no one is stopping you. Taking this approach to food can help you prioritize during the big meal. Focus on the items you can't have all the time. This might be a family recipe that only your grandma has perfected or a cousin's secret ingredient cookies. Whatever it is, put those items that are special to you first. Put other yummy things second. Remind yourself that many of these items aren't going anywhere. You don't need to eat it right now because these food are available for you to cook and enjoy whenever you want. 

3. eat leftovers

What do you do when you've picked out the special foods, but you start to feel full? In the past, I would force myself through the main dishes even if I was full from appetizers. Now I know better. I stop myself from getting to that point by reminding myself that there are always leftovers and these foods  are available to me. Ask your host for their recipe or ask if they have a spare tupperware or baggie for you to take food home. Your host will be flattered that you like their cooking too much to miss out.


So there you have it. Three simple tips for having a healthier, more mindful Thanksgiving. Do not treat the meal like your last chance to eat. Enjoy, be happy, spend time with family, and know that these foods can be enjoyed tomorrow, and the next day, and next week - they are not off limits. Leave your food anxiety at the door and watch how much easier it is to eat to satisfaction, and stop.  

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe that you just can't live without? I would love to hear about it! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

how meditation can help you eat well

meditation

A lot of friends and clients tell me they can’t meditate or it doesn’t work for them. I always challenge these statements. No one is ‘good’ at meditating. Your mind is going to wander, it is going to feel hard to sit still. We often envision meditation as being perfectly still in body and mind - but that’s not it at all. Meditation can offer so many benefits, even if you’re not achieving your idea of perfect.

Meditation helps with stress management, self awareness, reactivity, mindfulness, being present, and so much more. One of the first things you learn with any beginners guided meditation is to let your thoughts go (and I highly rec guided meditations especially starting out). When meditating you will quickly get lost in thought. You will learn to recognize when this happens (the thinking, planning, worrying) and let the thought float away, like a cloud. You don’t dwell, you don’t talk down to yourself for failing, you don’t continue on the story either, you just let it float way and come back to your breath. This may happen dozens of times in a short five minute meditation, but over time it gets easier.

Those skills trickle into real life, probably without you realizing it. Maybe you are in a stressful moment at work and you realize you take a breathe instead of exploding in anger. Perhaps you’re worrying and instead of spiraling to more severe anxiety you find yourself coming back to the present. Meditation can help you let things go, live in the moment, and react less. You will never do it perfectly, but even the smallest commitment can create transformation.

meditation and diet

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After getting back into meditation after a brief hiatus I had an interesting revelation: meditation skills directly parallel the skills we need to eat well and stay healthy. Does this sound like you? You eat well all week, whether following a plan or just cutting back on sugar, you are feeling great about your on-point diet. Friday hits, you treat yourself to an alcoholic beverage or a less healthy food and feel pretty guilty. That guilt rides you and leads you to run yourself down at the gym the next day. Or maybe you decide you’ve already gone off track so whats the point and end up eating and drinking too much all weekend only to feel crappy and vow to get back on track Monday. This pattern may repeat week after week. Familiar? It sure was for me - for a very long time.

If you eat well M-F and ignore your health on the weekend, you’re not eating well. Eating well and having a healthy diet is about consistency, balance, awareness, and treating and feeding yourself in a way that feels good. If one less than perfect food choice leads to a downward spiral, or if you end up having the all or nothing approach with your diet - you would benefit from practicing meditation. You can apply the let it go process to your food choices. So what you ate fries and had a too many glasses of wine on Friday night? You let it go. You move on. You don’t hold onto negative thoughts or food regret, you move on to the next meal/moment/breath and view each time you eat as a chance to begin again.

The ability to not let a a food choice bring you down is insanely powerful. You are able to eat well more often, and stop harboring guilt or letting food run your life. In addition, meditation can help increase mindfulness over food choices, slow down, and taste food. You will be less reactive to stress and sadness and therefore may be less likely to use food as a comfort or coping mechanism. So much of what we eat is about mindset.


I challenge you to give meditation a chance. Try to meditate daily for a week, then set another small goal. Some apps I recommend are Headspace ( great, free beginners series), Insight Timer and Calm.

So tell me, do you meditate? Do you plan to start? What changes have you seen in your life since you started?