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Breaking Bad…Habits

At the risk of sounding cliché, we are creatures of habit. Physically, our bodies strive for homeostasis. Mentally, we like routines and processes that are done without much thought. In habits we find comfort, normalcy and familiarity. The problem is when our normal and familiar habits aren’t always healthy.

The 21 Day Myth

The adage is that it takes 21 days to create a habit. However, newer research has proven that theory wrong and it takes about three times that amount of time create a new habit. Research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it takes a person 66 days to create a new habit. In fact, it can take up to eight months for some people. So, throw out that notion that in three weeks you’ll be able to create new habits.

That’s a lot of time when the habit you are trying to break is something to which you’ve become physically, emotionally and/or mentally attached (smoking, drinking, over eating, stress, etc.).

As a health coach, I work with clients on behavior modification strategies with nutrition and fitness to support their new healthy goals. Every day I speak to people who are so entrenched in their habits that they can’t envision a way out.

If you are nodding your head in agreement, let’s dig into why it’s so difficult to get out of unhealthy habits and create new, sustainable behaviors.

What’s in a Habit?

First, we need to define a habit. It’s not the occasional indulgent dinner or afternoon latte and cookie. A habit is a regular tendency or practice that is difficult to stop. An obvious example of a habit is smoking a cigarette after each meal. It’s something your brain is wired to do, and your body expects, and to stop it would result in negative physical symptoms.

Now that we know what a habit is, it’s important to be aware of when, where and how we exhibit habits and what the triggers are that set them into motion. For example, if you head to the vending machine at work every day at 2 p.m. for a candy bar because you need a little “pick me up,” what are the triggers? Are you tired? Is it stress that leaves you feeling depleted by mid-afternoon? Take note of what prompts you to buy that candy bar. When you know what sets that habit into action, you’ll be able to start changing it.  

Next, identify the “reward” in your current behavior? What do you feel when you eat that candy bar? Do you feel comfort, energy, relaxation? Make note of how you feel after you’ve indulged in your habit. That will be important information when you are working reprogram your brain to get that same feeling from a different habit.

The Road to New, Healthy Habits

Now that you know what triggers your unhealthy habit and how you feel when you give into that behavior, you can create a plan to create new healthy routines. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Identify a good habit that will satisfy that craving/need. If you truly feel depleted around 2 p.m. every day, your body may need a little jumpstart. You can do that without eating a candy bar every afternoon. Energy comes from lots of sources. Replace the candy bar with a walk, a healthier sweet snack or a cup of green tea with a few drops of honey. Start looking for a replacement that can be done as easily as buying a candy bar at the same time, so you aren’t forcing yourself to just ignore the urge and keep working.
  • Start with a gradual change. Forget what the research says…21 days, 66 days, whatever. If you make one small change every day or every week, you’ll start to see the results in bigger ways. Maybe that means having a candy bar three days instead of five for the first week. Or, having half of it each day. Step down gradually to increase the chance of long-term success.
  • If it ain’t broke…don’t change it. When it comes to starting new, healthy habits, rely on what’s worked before. Think about a time when you’ve been successful at starting a good habit or routine (maybe it’s exercising or getting up earlier). What steps did you take to build that habit? How did you hold yourself accountable? What reminders and rewards did you use? Recall what’s worked and repeat that process!
  • Be comfortable with failure. Expect to stumble and be ready with restart strategies. We all fail when we are trying to start or stop something our bodies and minds are resistant to. Be prepared for the missteps and recover quickly. When end up at the vending machine with the candy bar, it doesn’t mean you should give up.  Acknowledge what went wrong (lack of preparedness, increased stress, etc.), enjoy the indulgence and start fresh as soon as possible.

Habits are difficult to break when our minds and bodies rely on them for relief of stress, fatigue or other problem. But it is possible to break poor habits and start new, healthy ones with a plan, some patience and accountability. Need some help getting started with creating new health, wellness or lifestyle changes, set up a free wellness chat and let’s discuss.

Have a healthy, happy week!

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Spring Clean Your Diet

Spring is Coming…I think!

There are technically 16 days until Spring is officially here on our calendars. However, March is a fickle month and depending on where you are, it may not look like spring will ever arrive. That said, the idea of warmer weather, open windows and fresh air brings with it the urge to do some spring cleaning for many people. Add to it the recent popularity of Marie Kondo and her approach to decluttering and reorganizing your life by only keeping what brings you joy, and everyone is on the cleaning up caravan. For me, spring cleaning also means cleaning up your diet. Coming out of a comfort-food coma in the winter months, it is the PERFECT time for a Spring checkup of your diet. Plus, March is National Nutrition Month so there are plenty of resources out there on healthy eating!

What we eat (and how much of it) is the biggest hurdle in losing weight and feeling healthy. Cleaning up our plate, pantry and fridge is the first step in leveling out the yo-yo effect of dieting and providing sustained results.

Getting Started with Clean Eating

Clean eating sounds good, right? But what is it and how does someone get started? To put it simply – clean eating is having an apple vs. apple sauce, eating steamed broccoli vs. frozen broccoli with cheese sauce added. Whole grains vs. white/refined grains. Organic, grass fed beef vs. pre-packaged, seasoned ground beef for tacos. It’s sometimes a little bit more work over convenience. Most importantly, it’s about reading labels, being informed and making better choices. Clean eating doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. It just takes planning.

Some critics will say that “clean eating” implies that some foods are dirty and that we shouldn’t be categorizing food that way. My response is…well, there are dirty foods – meaning foods that don’t provide a lot of nutritional value. And, that’s ok. They can still be a part of a balanced diet, but they can’t take center stage.  I’m suggesting that 80-90% of your diet be clean and leave a little wiggle room for occasional indulgences. Where the challenge lies, is in helping people understand that some of what they think is clean or healthy isn’t.

In looking at months and months of food diaries for my clients, I can confidently say the biggest problem when it comes to eating isn’t the quantity of calories but rather the quality of those calories. A calorie isn’t just a calorie despite what you’ve been told in the past. Some calories are better than others and will help you lose weight, have more energy and build lean muscle. And some calories will spike your blood sugar, make you sluggish and inhibit your fitness goals.

The human body is a sophisticated machine and requires fuel that is high quality.

Spring Cleaning Your Diet – 4 Tips for Success

So, this week, I’m challenging you to take a good look at what you’re eating and clean it up where needed. Try these few tips to clean up your plate, pantry and fridge:

  • Track your Food. You cannot improve upon what you are unaware of. Everyone has access to MyFitnessPal. Track everything for three days and look for patterns of non-clean eating like getting take out, eating pre-packaged convenience foods, etc. Identify where you can swap for healthier choices.  
  • Read Labels. My favorite app for food shopping is Fooducate. Scan a barcode; get a grade for that food. And, an explanation of that grade, definition of ingredients and healthy alternatives. If you cannot pronounce or you don’t recognize the first 2-3 ingredients (which are listed in order of their quantity) then you might want to toss it out.  Look for sneaky sugars (dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup). Note: not all preservatives are bad – some are needed to keep your food safe. Things like steric acid, sorbic acid and ascorbic acid are preservatives that can occur naturally in some foods and help prevent mold, and spoilage. Scan the label and Fooducate will tell you why those ingredients are in your food.
  • Don’t Believe (all) The Hype. Natural, organic and Heart Healthy are some of the most common “healthy marketing” terms used. Understand what these designations truly mean and the requirements for obtaining those labels. Research what it takes to get that claim put on a package and who’s behind it. Sometimes it is a food company donating to a non-profit in exchange for the label.
  • Stop Obsessing Over Organic. You don’t have to buy EVERYTHING organic. Some things are worth the investment while others are not. Check out “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” food lists for the top foods to buy organic. For me, it’s more important to buy local and fresh when possible (and they are usually organic as well). The closer the food is to you, the fresher it is and less processed it’s likely to be.

My last piece of advice is to make small changes. A complete overhaul can be overwhelming. All packaged food isn’t the enemy. We have lives to lead and families to raise – sometimes ordering take out is what we need to get it all done! Remember the 80/20 rule and indulge occasionally. Everything can be incorporated into your diet in the right way to allow you to enjoy eating while doing what’s best for your body. Besides – life is too short to give up Oreos.

Working with a health coach to provide recommendations and keep you accountable gives you the support you need to make positive changes. Message me to chat, and if you haven’t picked up my free Meal Planning & Prep Guide, get it here! It will get you started on the clean eating path and help you plan your meals each week.

Happy Nutrition Month and let’s get to cleaning up our plates, pantries and fridges!

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Resolution Reboot

It’s officially mid-January – how’s that New Year’s Resolution (NYR) working out for ya? If you are still sticking with your resolutions…great job! Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t last more than 10 days and most give up by February 1.

But let’s say (hypothetically, of course) that you are oneof the 80% who are veering off the path and struggling to stick to your goals.Or, worse yet, you’ve found you hate the goal you set or have no clue how  you are going to accomplish it. This is verycommon with health and fitness NYRs. Everyone has great intentions, but they setthe bar high without having the tools to achieve those big dreams.

If that’s you or someone you know…don’t worry. There aresome simple steps that can help you refocus to start achieving those healthyresolutions before too much time passes and you (or your friend) give up.

  • Reassess your goal. It’s ok to say, “this isn’t the right goal” and move on. Sometimes we high-achievers don’t like to admit when we don’t make the right choices and heaven forbid we admit failure (gasp!). To keep doing something you hate or aren’t capable of sustaining with the hope that it will somehow work out, is the definition of insanity. So…swallow that pride and get real with yourself. Maybe running a marathon seemed like a good idea but you’ve come to realize you hate running. Time for a gut check and recalibration.
  • Reset your goal. If you’ve determined that you had an unrealistic goal or one you just don’t like, it’s easy to rework it into one that motivates you. You just have to be S.M.A.R.T about it. S.M.A.R.T goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound. It doesn’t mean you have to give up that big goal…it may mean just breaking it down into smaller, more achievable ones. I always recommend shorter goals because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and something to complete. Let’s say your ultimate goal is to lose 40 lbs. this year. Your SMART goal may look something like this. “In 90-days I will lose 10-15 lbs. by exercising 30-45 minutes per day, 5 days a week and eating no more than 1500 calories per day of a balanced, whole-foods diet.” Then, at the end of that 90-days, you re-evaluate and set another goal for the next 10-15 lbs. until the end of the year when we have hit the 40 lb. weight loss mark. The original goal of losing 40 lbs. is still the end game but setting smaller goals makes it less overwhelming and very action-oriented.
  • Get some accountability. Some people are amazing at holding themselves accountable (we hate them, right??). For most of us, given the opportunity to slack on something that is difficult or not something we enjoy, we are likely to choose the easy way out (i.e. sleep in instead of going to the gym at 5:30 a.m.). Accountability is the glue that holds your goals together. Find a friend or family member willing to be honest with you and push you to stick to your goals. If you can’t find someone who’s good with dishing out the tough love, hire a coach. A personal trainer or health coach is someone you pay to keep you on track. You’re automatically more accountable when you have some money in the game, and they have no problem calling you out to help you achieve your goals (we love it, actually!).
  • Finally – celebrate your wins. Every day, every week, every month – find something to feel good about in this journey. We are often quick to think about all the things we didn’t do on a daily basis and miss the opportunity to boost our confidence and commitment by celebrating what we DID accomplish. Women, in particular, are great at playing the “not good enough” game. When we get in a habit of reminding ourselves of what we failed to do, we create a mindset that nothing is every enough. Ok, I know it sounds silly but I challenge you to say out loud something you’re proud of before you go to bed each night. Or, write it down if you don’t feel like making proclamations of self-love before going to sleep. Then, look back at it at the end of a week or month and see all the great shit you’ve accomplished.

The post-NYR slump is real. It’s common. It’s normal. It happens to just about everyone. What you choose to do when faced with this reality is what makes the difference. Use these tips to get back on the right track.

And, if you are about to dump the resolutions for a pizza and a Netflix binge, let’s chat. You can still enjoy life (and pizza and Netflix) but you can also get healthy and achieve those goals.

Have a kick-ass week!

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Think Small This Year – How to Really Get Healthy in 2019

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Every January 1 you are inundated with ads, emails, social media posts about how to completely change your life by setting some crazy resolution.  The whole “New Year, New You” mantra is insulting. It says you’re not good enough as the current you. It tells you that you have to completely remake yourself to live up to some kind of unrealistic standard. And, it’s total bullshit.

I despise the New Year’s resolution hype because when I work with people who want to make true improvements in their health, the thought of a complete overhaul of their lives is overwhelming. And, when people are overwhelmed, they often give up.

Among all the memes and inspirational posts you’ll see today, this week and this month will be lots of encouragement to think big. Dream big. Set big goals. And, while there’s nothing wrong with that, I am going to challenge that thinking to help you be more successful.

Today, January 1, 2019, I want you to think small. Make small changes. Set short-term goals. Take daily action – even if it’s not perfect.

Setting goals always seems daunting because we all think in big picture terms. Consider setting a process goal vs. an outcome goal that has a shorter time frame. For example, you may want to lose 20 lbs. this year but what if you stepped away from the number and focused on the behaviors and processes that will help you lose weight – one day/week/month at a time? For example, can you eliminate one take out meal a week? Or, commit to exercise three times a week? When you break down the bigger goal into bite sized pieces, you re-establish healthy habits that will get you to that 20 lb. weight loss.

So, how do you start today?

Here are my 3 Tips to A Healthy New Year:

  1. Take Action. Do something today. It doesn’t have to be an hour workout or throwing out all the food you love from the fridge. Take a walk. Make a healthy dinner. Take deliberate action to be healthier. Do just one thing each day.
  2. Find Accountability. Tell someone. Make a point to have a weekly check in with a friend, spouse, coworker who knows you are trying to improve and can help you stay on track. If you invest in a personal trainer or health coach, they should be setting up check in points with you at least weekly. I use texting and online tools to support my clients with accountability.
  3. Always reassess. Check in with yourself once a month to see how you are doing with your short-term goals and new lifestyle changes. If you’ve been consistent with a goal, add a new goal or amp up the current one. For example, if you’ve hit the gym three times a week for the whole month, add a day and shoot for four days in the new month. If you never change-up your goals or challenge yourself in new ways, you’ll get stuck, bored and worse yet, revert back to old habits.

 

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Creating a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be a complete “do over” every January. It should be a process of continual improvement. Ditch the stress of New Year, New You and think in terms of New Year, Healthier You.

In the category of taking action…There’s still time to join my January lifestyle program – The Little Black Dress Project. 6 Weeks of total wellness coaching (all online!). Fitness, nutrition, mindset, financial, career, beauty and more! You will learn how to make small, sustainable lifestyle changes to be your healthiest, happiest and most confident self. We start January 7. Take $100 until January 4 with code LBD100.


nutrition, Personal wellness, Uncategorized

The Space Between

Have you seen this graphic/meme/tweet circulating social channels? As funny as it may be, it’s scary true – especially for those of us who are taking time off.

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Wednesday feels like a Monday. It’s “normal” to be eating cookies for breakfast and going to the movies midweek. College football is on every day and weekend news anchors are filling in on a Thursday. Nothing is familiar or routine, and our bodies and minds are confused.

If you are feeling bloated, tired, cranky and suffering from brain fog, you’re not imagining these things. They are real. The “week between” is a real thing and can seriously mess with your wellness.

AdobeStock_126394975 (1).jpegWhat Went Wrong…

First of all, you have likely spent the last 30 days burning the candle at both ends trying to get it all done before the holidays. You may have put workouts on hold and relied on take out or fast food as a dinner solution. Add in the extra holiday lunches, happy hours and cookie exchanges and your body has been processing a lot more food — mostly sugar — than it’s used to handling. It happens. To all of us. Pardon the seasonal pun but it’s like a snowball. The more you allow a habit to roll (eating out, not exercising), the bigger the issue it’s going to be come. And, when you finally realize it’s out of control, the snowball has run you over. The week in between can be a time to squash the snowball or a time to ignore it until it hits you in the face with an icy sting.

What Can You Do About it…AdobeStock_183508816.jpeg

Don’t ride it out. You may not believe it but these five or six days can be a reset of your mindset and your habits. You won’t undo several months (or years) of unhealthy behaviors overnight but you can start feeling better, more energetic and healthier in as little as a week. And, it’s not going to require you to spend hours at the gym or starve yourself.

Check out my best tips for maximizing the week in between and getting BACK ON TRACK.

  1. Clean and Restock the Fridge. From a food safety standpoint, toss any properly stored leftovers from dinner after 48-72 hours. You’re sick of ham anyway. You can keep some things like veggies and make a healthy stir-fry. But get rid of anything from dinner that’s been in the fridge for more than two days. Out of sight, out of your diet! Restock with healthy foods – check out and print this clean eating grocery list.
  2. Hydrate Like it’s Your Job. Start with 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water. More if you workout or if you just want to flush out the bad stuff. Water isn’t just about quenching your thirst. It improves digestion (get it moving!), helps curb cravings and overeating, keeps your energy up and helps your skin look clearer and brighter. Use one of your holiday gift cards to get a fancy water bottle that keeps the stuff super cold and carry it with you everywhere!
  3. If You Eat It, Track it! Use a notebook or app but track your food. If you eat it, track it to stay aware of what and how much you are eating. That’s the first step in getting control of your nutrition. Without knowing what you’re eating, how can you change a habit? Go one step further and calculate the calories you need to maintain or lose weight and stick to that number for a week. You may be surprised how quickly you drop a few pounds when you are aware of what you’re eating.
  4. Bring the Exercise Back. If you have time off, this is the perfect time to start exercising again. If you are back to work, it’s a great time to play around with different times that a workout can work with your schedule. Unlike other trainers, I’m not recommending 60 minutes of hardcore exercise. If you’ve been off for a few months, ease into it. 20 minutes a day, 3-4 times per week. Walking is an amazing way to get back into an exercise habit. All you need are sneakers. You can calculate your optimal heart rate for calorie burning but here’s an easy way to tell if you’re working hard enough – can you easily carry on a conversation while you walk/run/exercise? If you can, you can amp up your output a bit. You should feel a little breathless to be gaining the fat-burning benefits.
  5. Accountability Counts. Don’t do this alone. Enlist a friend or neighbor who can help you get back on track and then hold each other accountable. Or, if you’re really ready to make a change and need more concentrated support, consider a trainer or coach to create the systems to hold you to your goals and help you through your challenges.

You Got This…

The week between can be filled with more busy-ness or it can be a quick reset of your habits and routine. It can set you up for a great New Year or it can make it even more difficult to change habits after the holidays have passed.

If all of this resonates with you but you still don’t know where to start or you’ve been off track for a long time, I invite you to check out my upcoming New Year’s program, the Little Black Dress Project.

LBD Promo graphic (1)

The LBD Project is focused on whole-person wellness that helps you lose weight, reset unhealthy behaviors and rebuild confidence to take on 2019 and kick ass!

For a limited time, you can take $100 off with coupon code LBD100. Have questions or want to discuss? Let’s chat. Fill out this form and I’ll be in touch for call.

Enjoy the time off if you’re taking it and let’s get ready for an amazing 2019!

 

 

 

 

 

food, nutrition, Personal wellness, Uncategorized

Last Minute Holiday Health Tips

The Holidays are Here…

Cue the Sleigh Bells and Stress Eating!

Three days until Christmas; 10 to the New Year! If you’re not feeling the pressure and stress, you might be superhuman. Even the most prepared and organized person will be experiencing some level of stress and overwhelm as they try to get it all done.

As you make those last-minute shopping trips, bake those final batches of cookies and wrap the gifts, I want to remind you not to forget about YOU.  A stressed, distracted, worrisome YOU is going to miss out on the fun and joy of the holidays. So, read on for my best tips for beating stress, finding time for fitness and focusing on good nutrition over the next week.

Stress and Overwhelm!

Let’s start here because if you get stress and overwhelm under control, you can focus on eating well and finding time for exercise.

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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

A recent study found that 88 percent of people feel stressed when celebrating the holidays and the average couple will have seven arguments throughout the season. Um…only 88 percent? Only seven arguments? Maybe it’s just me but I could see those numbers climbing a bit higher as the holidays get closer.

While I’m not a mental health expert or life coach, I am trained in the science of behavior modification and how to break unhealthy habits. And, stress can be the result of negative, unhealthy habits like procrastination, over commitment and lack of delegation.

Here are my tips for rewiring  habits to be more productive and healthy and avoid the mental and physical exhaustion:

  1. Get it all out of your head and onto paper. Real paper. Not your phone notepad. The very act of writing helps you focus on what needs to be done. Write down EVERY LAST THING that you need to do from now until New Year’s Day. Every task, meeting, event, etc.
  2. Highlight the THREE things that only you can do and must be done by you. That’s your to-do list.
  3. Review the rest of the list and either ELIMINATE OR DELEGATE. Stop being superwoman. Once you’ve eliminated or delegated, cross off the items and focus on your top three.

Fitting in Fitness

If you don’t have a plan for exercise for the next few days, listen up! I’m going to make this super easy.

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  1. Take out your calendar…on your phone, in your planner, etc. Open it up and see where you have 30 minutes each day over the next 4 days. You have it – you may just have to look hard for it. This may mean getting up 30 minutes earlier or bowing out of something you didn’t really want to attend (remember my eliminate tip above?).
  2. Now that you’ve found that space, use time blocking to make it happen. Time blocking is simply scheduling your to-do list on your calendar. You block off the time you’ll be working on a specific task ahead of time, and then during that time, that’s all you focus on. A digital calendar works best because you will get reminders when it’s time to start and when you have a new task coming up.
  3. Finally think through what will stop you from exercising and create a plan. Undoubtedly, something will come up over the next few days. What are the barriers you might face? Think them through and create a plan. Enlist your significant other or kids to help if it’s something they can do.
  4. Once you’ve thought through all the pitfalls, you should have a pretty ironclad plan. Now, tell someone. A spouse, friend, colleague. Accountability is key to accomplishing any goal.

Food for Thought

This is the big one! Food contributes to 80% of our overall health. You really are what you eat.

So, first things first. You need to think through your food events. Where are you going to be? What might the menu consist of? You know these things…your family and friends are pretty predictable. If grandma has always made her famous jello pretzel dessert (it’s a thing, Google it!) then you can assume you’ll be faced with jello pretzel dessert. Here’s how to navigate the day:

blur bright candy celebration

  1. Determine what you can control by bringing food or offering to help in some other way. Bring a healthy side or appetizer. Offer a healthy recipe if your mom is stumped on how to make sweet potatoes for the 900th time.
  2. Go prepared for the worst. Assume it will be a delicious storm of sugary carbs and heavy sauces. If it’s not, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If it is, you will be prepared.
  3. Eat ahead of time. Do not SAVE YOUR CALORIES for one big meal. You will be starving and self-control will be tough. Eat a good protein packed breakfast or lunch with healthy fats. Both protein and fat keep you fuller longer than carbs.
  4. Drink a ton of water before, during, after…water keeps your digestive tract moving and keeps you full.
  5. Tips for eating healthy-ish
    • Steer clear of the crackers and chips on the appetizer table. Go for veggies and dip/guac, shrimp, cheese and smoked meats, deviled eggs, nuts.
    • For dinner, start with half your plate filled with veggies and fruit (but not the sugary and processed kind). Think: Salads, veggie trays, roasted veggies, fresh fruit salad, etc.
    • Make the rest of it protein and healthy fats. Ham, turkey, prime rib, seafood. Make sure it’s not covered in breading and fried.
    • Save your carbs for the good stuff…wine, desserts. Not bland dinner rolls and crackers!
  6. When it comes to cocktails, beer and wine…go slow. For every alcoholic drink, have a glass of water in between. Clear liquors with club soda are the lowest in calories and carbs. Light beer is best. Wine is fine but watch the pour (4-6 oz. is a standard pour) but most glasses are much larger.

You’ve Got This!

So there you have it. My tips and strategies for a healthy and stress free holiday. And, I know you can do this!

One last tip: if you find yourself caught up in stress or other drama, just step away, refocus, breathe and remember what’s important. Family. Friends. Laughter. Being together. If you eat too much, forget to buy Aunt Susie a gift or use the treadmill for just hanging up clothing this next week, it’s ok. The world will keep on spinning and you will be fine.

Finally…it wouldn’t be the holidays without a few gifts from me!

First…my Healthy Holiday Cocktail Guide is online and ready for you to download. Grab it here!

Next, if you need that extra wellness support in the new year, jump into my free Facebook group  for professional women.

Finally – If you are ready to really kick all the unhealthy habits to the curb in 2019, I invite you to check out my Little Black Dress Project that kicks off January 7! It is a 6-week online program that includes: nutrition, fitness, and confidence building work! Read more on my Little Black Dress page. And, save $100 with coupon code LBD100 at check out.

Wishing you all the best this holiday season and looking forward to all good stuff the new year has in store for my friends, family and followers!

xoxo

Niki

Personal wellness, Uncategorized

182.5 and Counting…

1894381-Kara-Goucher-Quote-Progress-is-rarely-a-straight-line-There-areGuess what today is? Day #182.5 (at noon ET for me). The official midpoint of 2018. 

So…how are you doing on the health and wellness goals and resolutions you set for 2018? Are you halfway to achieving them? Statistically speaking you’re probably among the 80% who gave up on their resolutions by February. Ouch. Sorry.

I’m not trying to call you out and make you feel badly. Instead, I’m giving you a big old pass on all of it. I despise New Year’s resolutions and avoid making them at all costs. And you should too. Because your best intentions don’t always account for life. How on earth are you supposed to know what might happen in March, August or December of the coming year to be able to plan a year-long health or fitness goal?  You’d have to be a fortune teller to be able to predict that.

In the last 6 months I changed jobs, started my own business and decided to become a group fitness instructor. Some of that was planned, but not all of it. And, none of the stress or schedule disruption was accurately predicted. As such, my fitness and nutrition commitments shifted based on my life and schedule. That’s ok!

Sooooo…if you are one of the 80%, take a deep breath and read on for my 5 tips to Get Fit by the end of 2018.

Notice…no use of the word “resolution”. I promise you this. If you do these 5 things consistently until the end of the year, you will feel better, lose weight (if you need to) and have more energy. I’ll bet you a free personal training session if it doesn’t work.

  1. Cut the Carbs. Even the so-called whole grain “good ones”. I’m reading The Obesity Code, which basically reveals that all conventional dieting wisdom is a bunch of CRAP and that weight loss and weight gain is all about insulin and insulin resistance. And, what raises insulin? Refined, highly-processed carbs. Even the whole grain carbs we’ve been told are better for us. I am challenging you to track what you eat for one week and then cut the carbs you consume in half. Yep. In. Half. Do that for a week and see how you feel?
  2. Stop the Snacking. Again, the advice you’ve been given for years that “grazing” is the best way to control blood sugar is kinda bogus. So, yes, maintaining blood glucose levels is important so you don’t have big spikes and valleys. However, you can do that by simply eating 2-3 meals a day without lots of snacks. Plus, your body needs time between meals to rest and digest. If you keep feeding it, you keep it working to burn what you’ve just eaten – and you don’t get to burning what is stored as fat. Let your body burn through your meal first. Don’t snack but instead let your body use stored glucose and fat to sustain you until the next meal.
  3. Bail on Breakfast. I hate to be the breakfast buzzkill but the lobbying industry and cereal companies came up with “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Not science or researchers. Breakfast literally means to break a fast. Doesn’t say it has to be first thing in the morning. Most of us aren’t even hungry yet and our body releases the needed hormones and energy to get us through the morning. My challenge to you, try putting off your first meal until later –11 a.m. or noon. It’s called intermittent fasting and it’s a game changer when it comes to your health and wellness. I’ve been doing it for a while now and it has helped with not only weight loss but inflammation, energy, sleep, etc. Download my IF 101 for a primer on how to get started. But the bottom line is this…if you aren’t hungry at 7 a.m., don’t force yourself to eat. By delaying the release of insulin, you’ll burn more stored fat for energy.
  4. Leave the Calorie Counting Cult. Ok…my clients are probably like, WTH?? You make us track all our calories. And, I do. As a way to be aware. Not obsessed. Again, The Obesity Code has taught me that quantity of calories is LESS important than the quality and the timing. So, while it’s good to be aware of what, when and why you’re eating, I don’t think it’s a good idea to freak out if you go over what you believe to be your maximum calories. I also encourage the idea of eating mindfully and stopping when you feel full and starting when you feel hungry.
  5. Wash it Down with Water. For once and for all…stop the soda, diet soda, Crystal Light drinks, stevia, Splenda, etc. Drink water. Put some fresh fruit in it to infuse some flavor but choose water as your go-to beverage at meal time and throughout the day. You should be drinking ½ your body weight in ounces PLUS 8 oz. for every cup of caffeine you drink (coffee, tea, etc.) because as magical as caffeine is…it’s dehydrating.

This is my advice to those who find themselves at the midpoint of 2018 and no further along with their health and wellness goals.

None of these are cutting edge or questionable. They are legit in terms of science and can help you start to feel good, look good and be confident.

Have more questions about these or another health and wellness topics? Let’s talk! Fill out my FREE Wellness Assessment and get a 30-minute Well Chat where you can pick my brain for 30 minutes on anything wellness related.

Until next time…be happy, be healthy and have some fun!

Xoxo

Niki

food, Personal wellness, Uncategorized

Carbs ARE the Enemy – If We Let Them Win

Well…it’s official. I’ve gone from a grammar geek to a nutrition nerd. Actually, I’m still a grammar geek but now I’ll walk around equipped with a red pen AND a BMI calculator.
What has me all worked up? Macronutrients. I know – super controversial. But it is! In the last two days I’ve read two articles citing studies that point to the real and present danger refined carbs present. What are refined carbs, you ask? They aren’t classy carbs that are well educated. Refined carbs are white rice and pasta, cakes, cookies, commercially prepared breads and baked goods. All the stuff we’ve grown to love.

In these articles, two things stood out to me as a middle aged woman (only one of these applies to you, fellas):

1. “A growing body of evidence seems to indicate that the modern Western diet – high in processed and refined foods – can lead to cognitive decline and dementia.” 

2. ” Each portion of carbs, such as pasta and rice, consumed per day correlated with experiencing menopause 1.5 years earlier. “

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m in no hurry to experience dementia or menopause so why wouldn’t I look at my diet and try to improve it? We’re not talking about taking more pills or doing something otherwise dangerous. This is about breaking up with nutrient-deficient carbs in exchange for with nutrient-rich foods like lean proteins, legumes, eggs, vegetables, etc.

I’m all about feeding myself properly to avoid taking a pill…call me crazy! As good old Hippocrates said, “Let food by thy medicine.” Right on, man.

What I’m here to tell you is that I know…and science supports…the fact that refined carbohydrates are not healthy. Period. So, instead of trying to convince you of that (I’m happy to send loads of research your way), I’m focusing on how I can help you break that addiction (it’s an addiction for real).

I love finding ways to eat what I crave but in a healthier way. So, as you consider your carb intake, keep these 3 tips in mind.

 

1. Fiber first. If you are going to have carbs eat those with lots of fiber. Fiber isn’t sexy but it’s a hardworking micro-nutrient that keeps you fuller, helps your digestive tract function properly, and it grabs cholesterol on its way out.  Read labels to see how much fiber is contained in a food.  Just because something says “whole grain” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You should be aiming for at least 25 grams of fiber a day and the easiest way to do that is to eat foods that have natural fiber in them – vegetables, fruit and whole grains that are minimally processed.

2. Sneaky sugar. Sugar is a carb. And it has many names. Worse yet, it’s in almost everything! Condiments. Pasta sauce. Dairy products. Naturally occurring sugar in fruit (fructose) isn’t the culprit here. Fruit also has fiber which is a benefit to your system (see tip #1). I’m talking about artificial sugars (even the calorie free versions) and sugars by other names – dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, carob syrup, maltodextrin, and the list goes on. There are some 60 different names for sugar. Don’t be fooled by the verbiage and check everything — sugar (and therefore carbs) can show up where you least expect it.

3. Fear not the Fat. Fat has a bad reputation. For decades, we were told to eat low or non fat foods. YUCK! The problem with eating no fat is that you aren’t satisfied after you eat. Furthermore, to take fat out and still make a food taste good, you have to add a bunch of artificial crap (did you ever read the label of nonfat sour cream? It’s a science experiment). Let me give a real example. It’s taco Tuesday and you make lean ground turkey taco meat and top it with non-fat sour cream and low fat cheddar cheese. There’s very little fat in that meal. You think it’s healthy and it may be low calorie but you eat one taco and it’s meh. Then you think, well, this is low fat so I can one (or 3) more. All the while, you aren’t really enjoying it because fake sour cream and cheese taste like plastic goo. You end up eating more, feeling less satiated and in a few hours you’re craving something else. Fat makes you happy. If you had made those tacos with grass-fed ground beef, real sour cream, real cheese and some yummy avocado slices on top, you would feel full and satisfied with 1 or 2 tacos. Why? Because, unlike carbs and protein, which have 4 calories per gram – fat packs a bigger calorie punch with 9 calories per gram. That helps keep you feeling full longer. When you cut fat out, you risk eating too many carbs and often, not the good ones. When you do, you play the blood sugar game of highs and lows all day – chasing more energy with coffee and a snack from the vending machine.

Word of warning: If you jump on the “fat is good” bandwagon but still eat a lot of carbs, your body will naturally use the carbs first and store the fat. Oops. Not what you wanted. So you need to balance it and chose wisely…from sources like nuts, avocados, coconut oil, salmon, shellfish and grass-fed or organically-raised meats. Spoiler alert…Trans fat is still nasty and bad. Don’t go there!
I hope these tips help you sort through the never-ending debate over carbs and fat. Protein somehow always looks good in these discussions…but that’s another topic for another blog post!

The bottom line is this…you need carbs. For your body and your brain.

The reality is…you probably don’t need as many as you’re consuming and if you want to lose weight, it could be what’s standing in your way.

With this new found knowledge you might be thinking, “hey I want to change my diet a bit and eat more of that yummy, healthy fat Niki was talking about.”

Yay! Wait, though…I haven’t even told you the best part of higher fat and lower carb… eating healthy fats can help you lose fat. True story.
So if wanting a little more fat in your diet while losing the fat on your butt seems like a win-win to you, consider joining me and other like-minded peeps in my KetoFast program – a combo of a Ketogenic meal plan with an Intermittent Fasting eating schedule.

A Ketogenic diet and lifestyle is higher in fat, low in carbs and moderate in protein. Done right, it helps your body adapt to using fat as a preferred energy source vs. carbohydrates. And, when combined with Intermittent Fasting (another educational blog post coming your way soon!) it makes your body a better fat burning machine.

My KetoFast program isn’t the typical Keto diet.

You can’t eat endless quantities of cheap, greasy burgers without the buns, and pounds of deli meat and convenience store beef jerky. It’s clean. Low in preservatives and sodium. It’s moderate in carb consumption (about 50 grams per day). These differences make it a lifestyle instead of a DIET (ugh, hate that word). Most people who start a DIET don’t succeed because it’s not sustainable. Strict Keto diets limit you to 20 grams of carbs a day. That’s very difficult to maintain especially when you consider that things like vegetables, nuts and some proteins contain carbohydrates. And, I’m not about advocating for a no carb approach.  It teaches you how to eat healthier all around for sustained weight loss and greater wellness.

If you’re interested, I’m going to be doing a webinar to explain the program and share some results my test group is experiencing. I’ll also be talking about how Intermittent Fasting plays a role and amplifies your results.

Hit me up if you’d like to receive an invitation to the webinar. If you’re already familiar with Keto and want info on the program. We start soon and I’d love for you to be part of it! Email me at nikicamp@gmail.com

I want us all to be better informed about the nutrients that fuel us so we can eat better, live longer and have active lives.

Have a happy and healthy day!

Niki

Uncategorized

Start Where You Are

arthur ashe

Whether you have 5 of 55 pounds to lose, knowing where to start and how to build momentum can be daunting. Especially if you haven’t focused on your nutrition or fitness for some time. Figuring out how to change your diet, exercise more, plan healthy meals, drink more water and get more sleep can be overwhelming. That overwhelm can lead to procrastination and eventually giving up. I know. I’ve been there and I work with many women who have experienced this over and over again. They are frustrated as I’m sure you are too.

So, when I have a client come to me out of ideas and tired of starting and stopping, my advice is simple.

 

Just START.

 

Yep, That’s it.

 

START. With whatever you have. Whenever you can. As much as you can.

I’ve always been of the mindset that something is better than nothing. A 15 minute walk is better than sitting on the couch. The choice of vinaigrette is better than a creamy ranch dressing. Prepping 2 dinners this week is better than none.

The problem is, women in particular get caught up perfection paralysis. If I don’t have time to do it perfectly, why bother? Instead of thinking, “I have 20 minutes to exercise today instead of an hour – how can I maximize that time?”

Let’s face it…there’s never a perfect time to get healthier. And many of us get “stuck” believing that we have to all the things to improve our health. Things like a gym membership, the best gear, a fancy fitness tracker and tons of time. Or, a meal planning service, all organic food and complicated recipes for perfectly balanced meals.

Here’s a big fat truth bomb for you…you don’t need any of that. In fact, if you have a pair of shoes suitable for walking and a kitchen where you can prepare a meal, you are ready to make a change and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

So, in the face of imperfect lives and time crunched schedules how do you get going and stay on the right track? Where do you start? Here are three SIMPLE ways to make a change in the coming week. PICK ONE.

1. WALK. Pick one day and walk. Walk anywhere. Or nowhere (on a treadmill). On an indoor track or outside in your neighborhood.  Just walk for 20-30 minutes at a pace that challenges you. Then, end with a 5 minute stretch. Walking clears your head and gets your heart pumping. Better yet, it motivates you to make other healthy choices (very few people follow up a walk with a giant hot fudge sundae).

2. COOK. Cook one dinner at home. Dinner cooked at home is usually proven to be healthier than one that is ordered or eaten out at a restaurant (unless you buy a frozen pizza and pop it in the oven). Make enough to take the leftovers for lunch the next day. Don’t get hung up on making it perfectly healthy. Just make it at home.

3. PROTECT. Your time. Everyone wants your attention. Say no to one thing you really don’t need to do, or perhaps don’t want to do. The world will continue to spin, I promise. And, you’ll get back a few minutes for what really matters to you (family time, meal prep or exercise).

So that’s it. No complicated plans or programs. Simple strategies for taking small steps forward with your health and wellness. Did you notice that each idea suggests that you do something ONCE. One walk. One dinner. One “no”. This isn’t about completely overhauling your life and doing something EVERY DAY. It’s about one thing at a time; one day at a time. It’s about JUST STARTING.

If you’ve started to make healthy changes but would like some additional coaching and support, get scheduled for a FREE 30-minute Well Chat. Simply fill out this form and I’ll be in touch.

Looking for a tribe that will encourage, support and kick your butt a little? Join my Fit, Fab & Fierce Tribe on Facebook. Lots of great info and supportive ladies in there.

Other questions? Hit reply and let’s talk. And, remember, this is all about JUST STARTING with one thing to get closer to the healthier lifestyle you desire. Don’t overthink it!

Much love,

Niki

Personal wellness, Uncategorized, Workplace Wellness

Don’t Let that Extra Daylight Fool You

ecard

Spring ahead into a busier schedule

Daylight Saving Time is here and with it comes more daylight and more “stuff” to cram into our already hectic 24 hours. Somehow, we rationalize that more sunlight gives us more time (it doesn’t, obvi) yet little of that “new found” time is spent on ourselves. Wait. What? We get all this energy around more daylight and then fill it with other people’s priorities. Hmm. Ok. How’s that working for ya?

Look – more daylight or not, we have 24 hours to spend every day. Think of it as $24 that shows up in your wallet every time the clock strikes midnight. Let’s pretend that each dollar represents an hour of your day. How do you spend it? What do you prioritize?

Here’s how mine used to be spent on a weekday:

  • $10 on work (in the office, commuting or traveling)
  • $5 on sleep
  • $2 on running kids around
  • $1 on making dinner
  • $1 on answering work emails at home
  • $2 attending a board meeting for a community organization or volunteering at school
  • $2 helping with homework, class projects, costume creation, school play line rehearsal.
  • $1 on shopping, errands, etc.

Did I catch up on some things over the weekend? Sure, but then sub in the kids’ sports, social events, cleaning the house and other chores/errands and I filled up those 10 hours spent working on a weekday. My point? You get the same hours in a day as everyone else. You must find time for your health, your well-being (your waistline). That may mean that something else needs to go! The consequences of ignoring your physical well-being ain’t pretty. And, you’ll be no good to any of those people if you have to drop everything to focus on a health crisis.

It happens to the best of us

I totally get this. That was my time budget above. And, I have a great partner who helps around the house and as well as a support system – but I got caught up in the cycle of self-care denial that quickly spirals out of control. For me, it resulted in being 30 lbs. overweight, exhausted and, well, cranky!

I reached the point where I couldn’t stand what I saw in the mirror and knew I had to take action. May have been imperfect action at first, but action nonetheless. It took me well over a year to lose the weight but I’m proud to say I’ve kept it off for nearly 7 years.

While I adopted new, healthier habits, all my focus wasn’t just on sweating more and eating less. A lot of it was about unloading stress, needless “to-dos” and mental baggage that was weighing on me and keeping me from doing things that would make me healthy. It was around re-prioritizing myself and my health. Making time for workouts and to cook meals at home. It was getting the whole family on board with new lifestyle choices.

Since that time, I’ve become a personal trainer and health coach and know all the right things to do from a food and fitness standpoint. However, as a recovering do-it-all woman, I also have the personal experience to share the lifestyle changes I made that work together with nutrition and exercise to get you closer to your goals and further away from the destructive cycle of self-neglect.

Start spending time on you FIRST

From my experience, these things help start you down a path to putting yourself first and improving your health:

  1. Get real about where/what you spend time on. Track everything you do for one week. Write it in your calendar as if everything is a meeting you attended. Then, review it and see where you are wasting time. If you find that you spend an hour a day talking to your mother, sister, best friend, or others, block time once a week to catch up with people on your commute to or from work instead of when you get home and want to work out. Or do you scramble every night with what to make for dinner because you didn’t really plan for the week? Set aside 2 hours on Sunday to meal prep instead of zoning out in front of the tv. Find the time wasters and eliminate them or consolidate them into blocks with a designated start and stop time.
  2. Get good at saying NO! Get comfortable with politely turning down requests, invitations and opportunities to volunteer. I always remember that when I say YES to something that means I’ll eventually have to say NO to something else. Choose wisely. There are millions of ways to do it but I’ve found that keeping it short and simple is better than trying to justify or create elaborate reasons. Most times, I simply say, “Thank you but I’m unable to volunteer/attend.” If you feel like giving a reason why, great, but it’s not required. Your time is yours and what you choose to spend it on, is entirely up to you. Don’t let friends, colleagues or others guilt you into saying yes.
  3. Get a budget for your time. Map out how much time you are willing to spend on volunteering, working at home after hours, etc. and then plan for it. The key will be to add in 5-7 hours a week for self-care. That’s a small investment for the ROI you’ll receive. And then treat your time budget like a real one – don’t go over and if you’re under, spend the surplus wisely. Bonus: When you only budget so much for activities that are for the benefit of others, you have a great out for things you don’t want to do but hate saying no to (see tip #2 for how to enjoy the art of NO). “Oh, I’m so sorry Linda, I’d love to help with bake sale but I’ve already booked my volunteering time for this month. Maybe next month!”
  4. Get over doing it all on your own. You are a professional woman, entrepreneur or maybe a small business owner – start acting like it! You have help when it comes to running your department or company. You don’t do everything on your own just because you can. You have accountants and administrative assistants and other professionals to help you. So why do you insist on doing it all when it comes to your personal life? Invest in services and people who can do the things you don’t have the time or energy for or that are not a good use of your time (like cleaning the whole house on Saturdays). Same goes for your health and wellness. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, hire a professional to help you. A personal trainer, health coach or nutritionist can quickly assess your needs and get you a path to better health with the right food, fitness and lifestyle behaviors.

As a recovering do-it-all kind of gal, I know now that being all things to all people just means having nothing left for myself. And, when we continue to overspend our time budget and take on even more responsibilities, we eventually become overdrawn and even bankrupt in our health and wellness.

Assess, take action and ask for help

Take the time to ASSESS what you’re spending time on, take ACTION to prioritize what is truly important, impactful and enjoyable, and finally, ASK for help with the rest. When you do, your schedule opens, your time bank is full and you can be that strong, healthy and happy overachiever that everyone loves.

Try it..

Xoxo

Niki

PS – if you’re ready to finally ditch the crazy diets and the over-the-top exercise programs and still lose weight, let’s chat about my 8-Week Fit, Fab & Fierce Bootcamp. Lose up to 15 lbs., jumpstart your metabolism and transform bad habits into healthy lifestyle behaviors. Schedule a chat here:  https://goo.gl/forms/J5eqpgY98H2nnBBk1 or text me at 412-310-6882.