I’m sure you can all relate, the holidays are a hard time for me nutritionally. While I enjoy the good food and great company of family and friends, I am left feeling tired and sluggish. Making positive health changes can significantly improve your overall health and well being and may just be the fresh start you are looking for after all the feasting. It’s been proven that making small, gradual changes are more effective than making one giant lifestyle change, but it can be difficult to know where to begin, to come up with a game plan and stick with it. So I have created an 8 week guide to help you get healthier for the New Year, and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to feel better and have more energy to do the things they WANT to do. I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it!
As each week continues, I want you to make a conscious effort to continue with the changes you have already made in previous weeks. This way, at the end of the 8 weeks you will have made and kept up with 8 healthy, positive changes. This may not seem like a lot and at first you may not notice too much of a change, but these small changes compounded over weeks and months will surely bring about more change than you ever thought possible.
Eat a minimum of 2 fruits, 2 vegetables or a combination of the two for each major meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). You may be thinking HOW am I going to fit in this amount of produce in on top of my meal? The point is not to add MORE to your meal, but to replace something that you would have been eating (chips, white breads, fries etc) with these fruits and vegetables. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are both wonderful choices to add into your diet, but please be warned that canned fruits and vegetables as well as dried fruit and fruit juices will not count as a fruit or vegetable for this step. These products are high in preservatives, sodium and sugar and should be avoided.
Here are some simple ways you can add fruits and vegetables into your meals:
-Serve a piece of fruit alongside a veggie omelet
-Make a fruit and greens smoothie
-Have a salad
-Roast vegetables in the oven and serve them as a side
-Make a homemade soup with lots of colorful vegetables chopped up within it
-Top off your oatmeal with fresh or frozen berries
-Sauté some vegetables in a balsamic vinaigrette and add them to your sandwich
-Have a baked potato bar and load them with your favorite steamed vegetables
-Grill up some peaches for dessert and top them with a little honey and cinnamon
This week, on top of the fruits and vegetables your are consuming at each meal, I would like you to do some sort of moderate- vigorous exercise for 30 minutes to an hour 3-5 times a week. To give you more of a guideline here are two great resources to explain the difference between moderate and vigorous exercise. Use these as a gauge to see where you should begin. The key is to break a sweat, but please listen to your body and do not overexert yourself, for this is also not doing you any favors.
Still not sure where to begin with your workout? Contact me and I would be happy to help find a routine that is right for your schedule, likes and dislikes.
By now you are exercising 3-5 times a week and have kept up with your fruit and vegetable intake. That’s great, and this week we are going to change your health for the better by having you consume 100% whole grains. Buying whole grain products in my opinion can be some of the most challenging purchases you
will ever have to make. Why? Because the marketing on certain products is SO good that it can trick you into believing that you are in fact consuming 100% whole grains, when in reality you are eating a product that has been highly processed with most of the nutrients leeched out of the grains themselves. Plastered across the face of the box/bag reads buzz words like “multi-grain” and “wheat”when this is hardly the case.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what is a whole grain and what is not, let’s talk about WHY we should be eating whole
grains to begin with. Grains like wheat, barley, and rice (and most other grains) consist of 3 parts; the bran and germ being the most nutritious parts. What happens is most grains are highly processed (like white flour), therefore stripping most of the grains nutritional value from it, leaving you with the third part of the grain and the least nutritious, the endosperm. What does that
mean? Well it means that what IS left is high in starch, calories and low in nutrients (similar to sugar!!!). So what then happens, to make up for the lost nutrients of course, is to“enrich” or “fortify” the grains within a lab…yum (insert my humorous laugh here). WHY would manufactures even do this? Well plain and simple, highly processed foods = a longer shelf life. So, if you were not aware of this earlier the best place for whole grains is in the refrigerator or the freezer to keep them nutrient dense and from spoiling.
Feeling lost? Let’s start here with these helpful shopping and purchasing tips:
Don’t be fooled by flashy marketing and fancy packaging. Be cautious.
If the package reads “whole-grains” or “whole wheat” ALWAYS cross-reference
these claims with the ingredient list on the back.
If the ingredient list on a product contains any portion of “wheat” or
“rice” then it is not 100% whole-grain. White flour is still technically made
from the wheat plant (a refined version) so it is often labeled as “wheat.” It
must say something like “whole wheat” or “brown rice” to be a whole grain
Restaurants are tricky, and since we cannot see an ingredient
list it is best to avoid grains all together. Servers are often misinformed
and will tell you something is whole grain when in fact it is not.
Finally finding good 100% whole grain sandwich bread is one
of the trickiest whole-grain challenges you will face.
If it says “fortified” or “enriched”, remember it is not a whole
grain. Your best bet is to find a local bakery that makes their dough fresh
daily or make it yourself!
Here is an alphabetized list of whole-grains that you can add to
Grano (wheat berries)
(white rice is refined, with the germ and bran removed. whole-grain rice is usually brown but, unknown to many, can also be black, purple, red or any of a variety of exotic hues).
Good luck and please feel free to leave your comments below! Tell us what you think :)
Drink only REAL beverages:
Welcome to week 4!! You are at the half way point to a healthier you! How do you feel, how are the changes going that you have made thus far? By now you should be eating 2 fruits, 2 vegetables or one fruit
and one vegetable per meal, working out 3-5 times a week and consuming only 100% whole grains. This week I am asking you to change one more unhealthy habit. This week and from here on out, I would like you to try to only drink REAL beverages.
What do I mean by only REAL beverages? Let me make it a little clearer
for you. Starting this week, your beverages will be limited to coffee, tea,
water and milk (milk can also include non dairy milks like unsweetened almond, rice, or coconut milk). And occasional glass of juice (once per week) and wine (preferably red) is okay in moderation.
You may now be asking what is “off limits”. I’m asking that you refrain
from all artificial sweeteners and sugar. This means no Splenda or sugar in your morning coffee or tea, drinks like soda (including diet sodas) or water flavorings. Now I am not asking you to do this to torture you, there are many reasons why drinking only REAL beverages are beneficial to our health. Here are some reasons why:
Sweeteners, including natural ones like sugar, honey, pure maple syrup etc. are high in calories and do not offer a lot of nutrients. Artificial sweeteners that have no calories are chemically created, meaning they are even worse for us than their natural counter parts. Ye they are calorie free…but at what cost?
Not this biggest fan of plain water? Here are some ways to jazz it up!
1. Squeeze a little lemon into that water glass. It is refreshing and good for you too!
2. Eat a whole piece of fruit (allowing you to consume the fiber and not just the sweet juices of the fruit) quenching that need for something sweet and juicy.
3. Infuse your own water
Just think of how much money you will save too by not purchasing the sugary drinks! Not only is it good for your health but your wallet too!
Cook a Vegetarian Meal
I admit these 8 weeks of healthy changes I have been giving you are not simple, but when repeated over time they become habit, second nature if you will and the tasks that once seemed daunting and difficult are no longer something you have to think about. Plus by changing one small habit each week it makes the switch to a healthier you seem much more bearable. Can you imagine making all these small choices at once? Talk about overwhelming! So I encourage you to start from week 1 and give yourself time to accomplish and stick with each task.
This week I would like you to consider the benefits of having one (not all) of your meals to be a vegetarian meal. “Why?” you might ask, well besides cutting down on your grocery bill, consuming a vegetarian meal once a
week could have some serious health benefits. According to the ADA, vegetarians are at lower risk for developing:
·Colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers
·Hypertension (high blood pressure)
This is because a healthy vegetarian diet is typically low in fat and high in fiber. However, even a vegetarian diet can be high in fat if it includes excessive amounts of fatty snack foods, fried foods, whole milk dairy products, and eggs. Therefore, a vegetarian diet, like any healthy diet, must be well planned in order to help prevent and treat certain diseases.
We usually have a “Meatless Monday” in our house. Some of our favorites are vegetarian chili, vegetable soup, vegetarian tacos with black beans and rice, or vegetarian Tikka Masala. I’d love to hear what your favorite vegetarian meals are in the comments below. I’m sure our readers would love to hear about your homemade favorites! And when all else fails…breakfast for dinner anyone?
Shift Your Focus, Love Yourself and Live Positively
I made a decision a long time ago to live more positively. At first it
was hard, and at times it still is. I was so used to thinking of myself in a negative way that I kept reverting back to my old behaviors and habits of negative self talk. Over time, and with practice these thoughts were less frequent as I continued to take the steps towards positive self talk. I don’t have anywhere near all the answers, but here are a few lessons that I’ve learned throughout my life that have helped me live a more positive and fulfilling life; and since we are working on gradual changes over time….I would like you to focus on one of these 7 lessons each day.
1. Fail Often. Fail Wisely.
Learn from your mistakes, your failures and grow from them. No one ever started as an expert at anything, so why should you expect that from yourself? A skill is learned, practiced and developed over time. Don’t let the fear of failing hold you back. So you failed! Well, at least you tried! And the next time it will get easier since you now know what not to do.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” –Henry Ford
“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300
games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.
I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan
Pick yourself back up, or start something new in which failure or the fear of “it” has kept you from pursuing “it”.
2. Empty Your Mind
Whether your goal is to be bathing suit ready by summer or simply get rid of the extra fluff that has taken up residence on your
body, chances are you’re holding on to some beliefs that do nothing more than hold you back from reaching your goals.
Open yourself up to unique possibilities. There are no absolutes in life, only options. You choose which options to take.
Action step: Identify at least one idea/belief that does nothing but hold you back or hinder your progress. Once you’ve done that, write down ways that you can counteract those ideas (yes I really want you to do this). Give it time and do this for several weeks, taking note of any changes, positive or negative, that have occurred during that time.
3. Easy, Simple Tasks Every Day
Smile and laugh every day.
Be positive and act positively as often as you can.
Pass up as many opportunities as possible to be a downer.
Surround yourself with positive influences and people you admire.
Action step: This one is easy – start with smiling and laughing and see where it takes you. Even if you don’ feel like it, this is one of those instances where faking it until you make it works wonders.
4. Find Inspiration and Motivation Every Day
No matter where you are headed in life or what your goals may be, finding a healthy dose of inspiration and motivation every day can really transform your negative thoughts, sort of igniting a fire within you if you will. The world is full of endless possibilities, so go out, search the world and find them!
“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But
if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be,
he will become what he ought to be and could be.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The best part about this is inspiration and motivation are everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE.
Log onto Pinterest, guarantee you will find it there!
Read a book by your favorite author, you’ll find it there too.
Take a walk, go for a run, or hop on your bike. Get out and explore nature! Inspiration is around every corner.
Listen to some feel good music, it’s bound to turn that frown upside down.
Find someone who is doing great things and thank them, because if they can do it then it’s within your own
powers of to do something amazing as well.
Action step: Do one (or more) of the above things on a daily basis. Set aside a time during your day to do this, create your own inspirational ritual! For some it’s horseback riding and jigsaw puzzles, and for others it’s daily meditation, or yoga. Find that inspiration and motivation that speaks to you and go for it!
5. Be Kind
This next task not only applies to other, but also yourself!! Never underestimate the power of a smile, a kind gesture, sympathetic word or a listening ear – all of which are easy to give and cost you nothing. You never know what someone right next to you is going through, and if it will be the difference between a day filled with darkness and one filled with a little sunshine and hope. Doing these kind gestures not only lifts the spirits of others, but also your own. It feels just as good to be kind as it does to receive kindness.
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate
with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and
strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” – George
Action step: Be giving with your time, knowledge, money, kindness, connections or influence when you can. Give in such a way that the person who receives it can’t possibly return the favor.
6. Be Grateful
Practice gratitude daily. Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to relax and write down or verbalize a small list of the things that made you smile, laugh, or that you’re glad are a part of your life. There’s ALWAYS something to be grateful about, especially when you look down at that list and realize that a lot of people out there have it worse off than you do and could use a few of those things. My husband and I do this at the end of the night, right before going to bed. We each tell each other what we are most grateful for in that day. It eases my mind and sends me to sleep with positive thoughts filling my head. I truly believe it
helps me wake up each morning ready to greet a new day.
“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for
what he’s going to get.” – Frank A. Clark
Action step: Make that list or verbalize your gratitude to others.
7.Stomp Out Comparison
Think you’re strong (or good at anything)? Log on the internet and be prepared to have your big head popped!
There is always going to be someone “better” than you at something, but it doesn’t matter. Instead be inspired by them, using it to push yourself further, and nothing more. If they can do it, it’s within your power as well while also applying your own unique
spin on it. DON’T compare your have nots other’s haves. It only leads to a negative mindset. Stand strong in your individual talents and let what makes you unique shine.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Action Step: Use other’s success to drive you forward and to do it in your own unique way. You’re the only person you need to compare yourself to. Strive to make yourself better than the person you were yesterday. Do this and you will win every time.
***Inspired by by Roger Lawson II***
NO REFIEND OILS
Before going into depth about refined oils, I do want to share with you that is you do
attept to cut out refined oils, you could only eat very few processed foods (including the foods that are minimally processed containing only 2 or 3 ingredients), and it would also be incredibly challenging to go out to eat. I certainly try to do the best I can and at times give in to these oils as well, so it’s important to remember that moderation is key.
It is important to educate ourselves and know what it means when we read “refined
or hydrogenated oils. These oils included and are not limited to: vegetable oil,
organic vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, organic canola oil, margarine, and grape seed oil.
Here is a detailed explanation of oils from Carrie Vitt
Healthy fats in your diet are essential to healthy living. Healthy unrefined fats enhance our immune and endocrine systems, are needed for energy, and help play an important role in the health of our bones. Olive oil, for example, that is unrefined, uses olives that have been pressed to extract the oil, but the oil itself hasn’t been filtered, heated, treated with chemicals, and so on. In other words, without getting too technical, it’s in its pure state.
In a world where our attention is brought to the latest studies it is important to understand which oils are beneficial for the body and which ones to avoid. Overall, it is best to consume unrefined oils. Unfortunately, these are sometimes difficult to find, but I’ve tried to remove most of the legwork.
Oils to Avoid:
Many of the oils used in the modern American diet are hazardous to our health. They are processed, cleaned with chemicals, and most come from genetically modified corn, canola or soy. Most oils found on the grocery store aisles are heated to very high temperatures during processing; this heat oxidizes the oils. Oxidation also creates free radicals that can damage the cells of our bodies so it is best to avoid them. The processing increases the shelf-life of the oils and removes most of the natural flavoring, making them more attractive for the industrial food industry, but less attractive to the consumer. Vegetable oils, like canola and corn oil, are usually made with genetically modified corn, canola, and soy. So, I suggest you limit the use of such oils and stick with unrefined oils.
Here’s an easy checklist of oils to avoid:
Organic Vegetable Oil
Organic Canola Oil
Grape Seed Oil
Any oil that is labeled as refined, hydrogenated, partially-hydrogenated
Recommended Oils and Fats:
Coconut oil has gotten a bad rap over the last twenty years because many studies published about coconut oil were done on hydrogenated coconut oil. We should as a matter of course avoid hydrogenated oils of any kind so be sure to read the labels.
Virgin coconut oil, processed without chemicals or high heat, is rich in medium-chain fatty acids that are quickly absorbed into the body for energy. This naturally saturated, but not hydrogenated, fat is getting renewed attention among researchers as it becomes clear that saturated fats have many vital roles to play in our bodies.
Whenbuying coconut oil, make sure you buy organic, unrefined, centrifuged oil. Toreceive the maximum benefits you really want to find the best oil possible.Coconut oil is extremely stable so it is great to use when higher heat is necessary. In a typical recipe, coconut oil can be used as a replacement for other oils 1:1. If you are sautéing, however, I have found that you need lesscoconut oil than you may initially think (due to low water content), so use it very sparingly.
The best butter is from organic, pastured cows, unpasteurized, and preferably cultured. Bright yellow organic butter is a good indicator of butter made with milk from grass-fed cows. If you can’ t find raw butter, which is made from raw milk, then try to use an organic, cultured product.
Olive oil is a wonderfully nourishing oil and is most beneficial when used in its raw form or processed at medium to low heat. Olive oil has a medium smoke point (visually starts to smoke) and so it’ s best to cook with it at a medium heat or lower to prevent oxidation, which breaks down the nutrients.When buying olive oil, look for oil that is extra virgin, cold-pressed, and unfiltered. This can be difficult because there are no regulations on labeling olive oil in the United States. So, for instance, an oil labeled cold pressed or unrefined may not actually be so. The first thing to do when searching for a good olive oil is to find out where it comes from. Call the company, visit their website, and find out exactly how they make their oil. When you buy it, the olive oil should have a golden color and be cloudy (because it’ s unfiltered), and come in a dark green bottle to slow oxidation. The oxidation process creates free-radicals which can damage the body’ s cells.
Red palm oil is a beautifully rich red oil that contains oleic and linoleic acid. It’s a highly stable oil that adds a rich flavor to recipes and is great for popping popcorn.
Sesame oil is a stable oil that is great for cooking at high heats. I also love to add flavor by drizzling it over stir-fry before serving.
Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3s and should be kept refrigerated until consumed. Since heat will oxidize this oil, it should not be used to cook with, but rather only added to salads, smoothies, and other cold foods. It is best to use this oil in small quantities
because the body absorbs it slowly.
Some additional healthy oilsand fats to use:
•Lard – preferably from organic, pastured animals
•Ghee (clarified butter) – good to use at high temperatures
•Tallow – preferably from organic, pastured animals
•Avocado oil – good to use at high temperatures
Keep in mind that even though you’ re not going to use certain processed vegetable oils in your cooking, it’ s almost impossible to completely avoid them if you are using processed foods, as they are found in thousands of packaged products. Therefore, make sure to read the labels on packaged foods to know what kinds of oils were used and choose products that use the most healthy ingredients.
Remember, it is important to take this one step at a time, week by week. Start out slow, you are worth it!
Take Time to be outside!
I find that getting outside is not only good for my internal health, but also my mental health. Getting outside helps me clear my mind, refocus and fills me with a sense of wonder. It always offers a fresh new perspective on life and allows me the much needed time to “not think” if you will, and just be! Being present in the moment is something that is not easy to do this day in age, with all the cell phones ringing, lights flashing, and screens buzzing. It’s no wonder we are always distracted! Being out in the natural world helps me to escape from this and heal in more ways than one. According to the July 2010 issue of the
Harvard Health Letter, there are five very good reasons to get outdoors:
Your vitamin D levels rise.
Sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and
activation of vitamin D. Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks.
Limited sun exposure (don’t overdo it), supplemented with vitamin D pills if necessary, is a good regimen.
You’ll get more exercise.
If you make getting outside a goal, that should mean less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking and doing other things that put the body in motion.
You’ll be happier.
Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles.
Your concentration will improve.
Children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. It might be a stretch to say that applies to adults, but
if you have trouble concentrating, outdoor activity may help.
You may heal faster.
In one study, people recovering from spinal surgery experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications when they were exposed to natural light. An older study showed that the view out the window (trees vs. a brick wall) helped recovery in the hospital.
So what are you waiting for?? Get out there and get moving!!