Author Archive for Monika

Is it Time to Have a Skinny Jeans Lifestyle?

Ok – it’s time right? Well isn’t it? It’s March and I’m sure you are still thinking that you want to be healthy and lean this year. It’s not too late – in fact it’s never too late. So do you want that for yourself?

Let me give you a few tips on how to make that possible – how does that sound?

1.    Give up being perfect.  I know it’s a hard one to do. We’ve been so conditioned to always do it right. But you know doing it right isn’t always the best way to learn. Especially when it comes to weight loss and weight maintenance. I really don’t know anyone who has not had a period in their lives when their eating was a source of trouble for them. Hard to believe really – but most people struggle either with their weight, eating the right things, eating enough of the right things, eating at the right time, eating enough and not too little, or not too much.  As you can see the very nature of our food terrain is uneven and again to attempt to be perfect at healthy eating could set you up for failure where you stop trying altogether. Do the best you can one meal at a time.  This leads me to my next tip…

2.    The 80/20 Rule. If you can follow a healthy eating plan 80% of the time you will have 80% results and that’s pretty good – wouldn’t you say? Let’s face it 80% or even 50% is better than 0%. Setting yourself up for “being good” 100% of the time can only be sustained for a short period. So give yourself a break and aim for 80%. This way you will feel virtuous and strong in your commitment most of the time and you’ll begin to lay the foundation for a healthier life – now and in the future.

3.   Forget about the grainsI know, I know – how can you live without grains?  Well give up most of the grains –keep quinoa, millet and maybe some rice once in a while but that’s about it. It takes practice to steer clear of the bread basket, the cookies and even the foods that are marketed as healthy like protein bars or granola. But you will do much better without most grains. What about fiber – you ask? How will my bowels function and isn’t fiber also important for lowering cholesterol? Yes, fiber is critical and know there’s plenty of fiber in fresh fruits and vegetables.  Even protein contains some amount of fiber as well.

4.  Say Goodbye to Fruit Juice. What a dietary standard – how can you give this up, too? Well remember I mentioned fiber? You don’t get much of or any of that in fruit juice. Besides that – it is very high in fructose (or fruit sugar) which is challenging for your liver to process and utilize. Think of it this way you wouldn’t sit down and eat 8 oranges in one sitting – would you?  Well that’s exactly what you’re having when you swig down a glass of orange juice in the morning. And don’t be fooled by having that “heart healthy” bowl of fruit entrée as your entire breakfast – that will just set you up for blood sugar issues later in the morning. My rule of thumb is always have protein in every meal – including your breakfast –Always!

5.  Eat by the Clock. Make your meals not only a healthy habit but also a regular one. Plan to eat your meals pretty much at the same time every day. This sets up your body to get used to a regular blood sugar, digestion and energy cycle. Your body as well as your mind likes consistency and the structure a regular meal time brings. If you’re in the habit of missing meals, having long periods between meals or snacking regularly because you ran out of fuel – you’re on a slippery slope to having blood sugars as well as stress hormones issues down the road. Once these hormonal swings begin they will start effecting everything else in your body in no time. Give yourself the comfort of knowing you will be fed and nurtured on a regular basis. Your body will thank you.

Wanting to overhaul the not-so-healthy habits for healthy ones is always a smart idea not only at the start of a new year but, of course, always.

Simple Tips to get you started…

 

Welcome to Your Skinny Jeans World!

Healthy Year of the Horse

I’m always amazed at the crazy things I hear about or witness seeing people eating. Like tonight my husband and I watched the TV show “Man vs. Food”. Have you ever watched that show? It’s quite something. Sure it might be entertaining, for some, but I find it disturbing to see food depicted as a sporting event.

Whether it’s the Super Bowl or Super-size-me – there should be nothing super about our meals except that they are healthy and taste exceptional. I hope you agree?

So if you’ve been “super” at avoiding a healthy diet and feel like you’re still on a roller-coaster from the holidays (ie. craving carbs) – don’t worry on this Chinese New Year – the Year of the Horse – it’s a good time to get the new year started right.

Here are 5 tips to help you get back on track this Year of the Horse:

1.  Clean up Your Gut.  In order to have the qualities the Horse embodies such as strength, grace and power you need to have a digestive system that works well.  The best way I know how to accomplis this is by taking a good probiotic daily. It will help you get your digestive micro-flora (bacteria) back into balance. Sugar and excess starches usually cause an imbalance in our finely tuned digestive tract. Symptoms like gas, bloating, and indigestion are a good sign that something is awry. Getting onto a good probiotic will be the first place to start in clearing these annoying symptoms.

2.   Become an Authority. The Year of the Horse is about leadership. I encourage you to become an authority of yourself. Learn who you are – what makes you tick. It’s also a year of meditation so go inside and ask yourself what you need – what you truly need. This type of understanding takes time – so be patient with yourself. Also, it’s hard to get to know yourself in isolation – so no need to go to a mountain top. Make sure you engage in life – in your life. Balance your quiet time with your social time. Learn to create the life you truly feel comfortable with – inside and out.

3.   Put yourself out & take a risk. No I don’t mean gambling – I mean trying something new. Expanding your food list, expanding what you deem as exercise or even taking on a new project could constitute something new.

Don’t limit yourself this year – as Captain Kirk said: “go where no man or woman has gone before”. It can be as simple as trying new ethnic dishes, eliminating gluten, dairy or sugar for a month – and then see how you feel. I bet you will feel much, much better than you did before you started your “experiment”. Try it. Don’t tell yourself you’re going on a diet or that you’ll never eat bread again. Rather commit to 30 days – that’s it – just 30 days. Then report back to me – I really do want to know how you fared.

4.  Avoid Over-doing. The Year of the Horse is noted for impulsiveness so make sure you think ahead before you jump in. When it comes to over-eating – take a break, count to 30 or go for a walk before you devour more than your tummy can bear. Okay, so occasional over-eating can be forgiven but chronic over-eating is a very slippery slope. Pace yourself, plan your meals and choose foods that give you the most bang for your buck. Sure a big bowl of pasta or 4 slices from the bread basket may “feel” like it fills you up – but you and I know that’s all that it does because it’s a filler food, nothing more. Choose quality proteins like fish, chicken or eggs and vegetables like broccoli, asparagus or eggplant and you’re sure to be not just filled up but nutritionally satisfied as well.

5.  Don’t Deny something’s wrong. The horse year also brings with it denial – thinking there’s nothing wrong when deep down inside you feel something’s off. You don’t think your weight or eating is really that bad so you continue with the daily waffles for breakfast, the cheese and cracker snacks at 2 pm and finishing off the day with your evening popcorn nosh.

Day in and day out, you put on your “larger but still flattering” clothes until finally you must – you just must step on the scale. It requires courage to do so and will definitely help you get out of denial. Use your scale and your jeans as guides for a reality check – they usually don’t lie.

And always remember Healthy is the New Skinny.

Habits to Ditch

It’s the New Year and it’s time to clean up your act –right? Well there are some habits you may not have thought were unhealthy or needed to be ditched. I reveal some of those shortly.

Back to the new year, It’s invigorating to think we have a whole year to create what we want. It’s our very own canvas waiting to be revealed to ourselves and maybe even the world. If you’re wondering what your year will look like heed the words of Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

I’m sure by now you’ve reviewed 2013 and devised a plan for 2014. Despite all the usual things like lose weight (my favorite cause I help so many with this one!), make more money, save more money, have better relationships, find your soul mate, etc.

Wanting to overhaul the not-so-healthy habits for healthy ones is always a smart idea not only at the start of a new year but, of course, always.

Here are 5 Healthy Habits to Incorporate This Year:

1.  Marathons. If you are running more than 30 miles a week you are creating more of a problem than a health benefit. Researchers have found that the tissue damage that repetitive endurance training causes raises the risk of heart damage and large artery stiffening let alone wear and tear on joints. Better to do a casual run or walk around the block than running a marathon this year. Doesn’t that sound more pleasurable and do-able?

2.   Snooze Button Essentials.  Opting for more rest rather than getting up earlier to catch the worm is the best. A Japanese study found that those who wake up before dawn have a higher risk of having medical problems. As you know I’ve been saying this for years - getting enough Vitamin S (Sleep) is so vital for weight loss, hormone balance and happier moods. If you can swing it try waking up naturally rather than with the disrupted, and sometimes startling sounds of an alarm. If that sounds impossible perhaps getting to bed earlier would help you get the best natural sleep cycle.

3.   Forget Having Dessert For Breakfast. Let’s face it most “breakfast” foods in the marketplace are just desserts – cereal, muffins, pancakes, yogurt parfaits, and even many smoothies.
You must get your day started with protein and some non-starchy carbohydrates like 2 eggs with tomatoes, or a combination of cottage cheese, plain yogurt and almonds. These types of choices have sufficient protein to balance blood sugar and reduce further cravings for refined carbohydrates throughout the day. Stop thinking sugar or refined grains will give you what you need to get your brain and body in gear in the morning – it will in fact have the opposite effect – brain fog, low energy anyone?

4.  Stop the Pour. Although an occasional glass of your favorite wine may be just the thing you’re looking for at the end of a long day – don’t plan to make it a nightly ritual. Studies show frequent indulgence of alcohol will have an effect on your brain function, hormonal balance and sleep patterns. Sound familiar? Sort of like what I just mentioned regarding sleep. Know that everything affects everything. Best to drink a nice soothing cup of tea to calm you down at the end of those challenging and full days.

5.  Become a Fat Head. I’m not referring to a big ego but rather the need to consume healthy dietary fat.  Don’t be afraid of having it in your diet. Good fat is essential for brain function – your brain is primarily water and fat. So being called a “Fat Head” is actually a compliment.  Have the avocado, coconut oil or butter, regular butter, nuts and seeds. Fats are pre-cursors to the production of all your hormones. Fats line every cell in your body. Avoid the bad fats – the ones that are combined with refined carbohydrates and sugars – these are the bad guys. Plan to have good fat in every meal.

Want More Meaning in Your Life?

I just listened to a TED talk where the speaker said the following: “we would rather chase meaning than avoid discomfort.” Is that true for you? Are you interested in having more meaning in your life?

This time of year always marks a time of re-evaluation of how far you’ve come this past year. Did you accomplish what you had hoped to? Did you get more done or did you fall short? Did you get off track? Out of control or worse yet – felt paralyzed and nothing much happened at all?

Like a wish list a yearly goals list can merely be a hoped for outcome. Whether it’s realistic or not – it sets you up and gives you a roadmap to hopefully follow for a 12 month period. Whatever occurred was most likely not exactly what was on your list. I’ve always said you know what kind of year you’re having usually by the time the last month of that year rolls around – it’s just too difficult to predict otherwise. Life happens – changes and course corrections are made and you move forward one day at a time.

I heard author Danielle la Porte in a recent interview use the term “Soul Goals” to categorize her goals. A soul goal is one that comes from a deeper place within you. It’s more about feeling good rather than checking things off your list based on the outside world’s view of what should be important and what success should look like.

I’m sure you, just like me, get caught in a cycle of trying to be something that isn’t quite you and isn’t quite right for you. Striving for goals that neither fill you up or give you what you need are rather meaningless in the end.  As I mentioned, this is time of year to re-evaluate what’s most important. Give yourself time this holiday season to go inside and truly be with yourself. 

When I look at my past year at what I’ve accomplished I am happy to say that one of my life-long dreams has, in fact, been fulfilled – completing my first book “Skinny Jeans Lifestyle”. There were many times over the last year I wasn’t sure if it would happen. I set up some unrealistic goals for my book’s completion especially when it came to the time available to write it. I thought since I’m a seasoned article writer surely a book would be a similar experience and take me very little time to complete. Wrong! It’s a very different thing altogether. It’s more like building a house versus painting a bedroom. It takes a lot longer, you need a lot more help getting it done and it requires many, many hours and days of review, rewrites and re-edits.

You, too may have some life-long goals or “soul goals” that may need some edits or rewrites as well. Whether you have relationships, career or healthy living goals – an ongoing assessment of them is always required. Once you embark on your goal know that you’re done until you’re done – especially when it comes to healthy eating, weight maintenance or exercise. Sometimes you just need to take a break and sit with your goal for awhile. For example – say you’ve been successful at losing 20 of the 40 lbs. you want to lose.  Getting comfortable at that weight for a period of time may be a good idea. For whatever reason you may not be able to fully focus on what’s needed like portion control, eliminating grains or sugar from your diet. For now staying at your 20lbs. loss is good enough.  The thing is you can always return to getting more results later on.  That’s what I did with my book – I wrote, I took a break, wrote some more forgave myself when other things took my focus away from writing. But I never gave up and nor should you.

Soon January will be here along with a mad race to lose weight and get into shape. I recommend you not view the beginning of the year as being the only time weight loss and healthy eating is important. It’s best to consider a long-term approach that may actually take a full year or two to fully cement into your life. By making a commitment to your well-being you will feel a deeper sense of accomplishment and meaning in your life as well.

Here are 5 Ways to Bring More Meaning into Your Life Today: 

1.  Ask Yourself First. When you begin your year-end review ask yourself what you learned this year. Think of all the challenges and successes you had in the last 365 days. Did you fall behind and feel like a failure because of it? Let go of any judgment you might have – just note what comes up. And ask yourself a 2nd question,  What do you think you missed out on this last year and how can you include it in next year?

2.   Three Goals Only. Don’t pile on a bunch of stuff into your projections for the New Year. Only three that’s it!  Impossible? Well just try it. If it helps pick 3 categories if that’s easier to do. You can try health, relationship and career categories to start.

3.   Feel Your Way Through it. Slowly check in to the “goals and/or categories of goals” you’ve written down so far. Close your eyes for each one of your goals and imagine it coming to be. How are you feeling? Do you feel light and joyful or full of dread and anxiety? Of course, how you feel will give you a good clue as to whether it’s a “soul goal” or a “should goal”. 

4.  Let Your Heart Sing. Your meaningful goal should make you feel light and make your heart sing. Yes, this can be possible. Does imagining looking great in your clothes make you happy? Does staying in your sweat pants all winter long make you feel happy? I know it’s not as simple as all that – is it? After all you may find that looking great in your clothes may cause some initial anxiety because you wonder how you can possibly make that happen. Well, stay with it – go beyond feeling the doubts and suspend reality a little bit more. Close your eyes again and envision yourself being at your best. At your best weight, level of health, or what have you. Somewhere in the recesses of your mind answers about the HOW will come to you. They really will!

5.  Practice Kindness. Always practice being kind towards yourself. Moving forward on your meaningful “soul goals” requires patience. Go ahead practice. Remember it’s not about getting the weight off and eating nutritiously until…It’s about making a commitment to your health for life. Take it one year at a time or one day at time. Maintaining good health and a weight you feel emotionally, physically and mentally comfortable with is not a race but a well-lit path you can certainly choose to take.

In these colder, darker days of winter it’s a perfect time to go inside and discover what’s right for you. What are the right goals for you, the right things you want to put your focus, energy and love into?

Sugar Shock

Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote for Delicious Magazine several years back.

Savor holiday sweets while maintaining blood-sugar balance. Imagine a person eating their body weight in sugar in a single year. This could be hard to believe. But as the holidays approach — along with all the pies, cookies, pastries and other treats that come with them — the idea becomes very real. And, amazingly enough, it’s true. The average American ingests nearly 150 pounds of sugar each year from sodas, candies, cookies and other sweets. The body also turns refined carbohydrates, such as pasta and bagels, into simple sugars — another cause of what some people call sugar shock.

The phenomenon of sugar shock develops when we give ourselves that sugar “buzz.” It occurs after eating too many simple sugars, which go directly into the bloodstream and wreak havoc on blood-sugar levels. After the inevitable crash, the body again craves sugar to boost energy, resulting in an unhealthy spiral.

The problem arises because, although sugar cane and sugar beets come from the Earth, modern-day refining processes leave an unnatural form of sugar remaining. Sugar, or refined sucrose, loses 90 percent of its fiber and protein to processing. Unfortunately, our modern diet is pervaded with simple or refined sugars. And the repercussions go beyond the buzz and bust of wildly fluctuating blood-sugar levels. While you’re nibbling at another irresistible corner of pecan pie and washing it down with a glass of wine, here’s what’s happening in your body:

When blood sugar is too low, the adrenal glands and the pituitary gland secrete hormones that stimulate the liver to release glycogen. In the body, sugar is converted and stored as glycogen. In healthy individuals, this system works beautifully; however, when it’s dysfunctional these swings can create problems. Too much or too little of either hormone stresses the body. For example, highly refined foods, including sugar and white flour, can affect the pancreas’ ability to regulate blood-sugar levels. Impaired insulin secretion can lead to potential disease states, chief among them Type II diabetes.

The Balancing Act
Since sugar, in whatever form, is a fact of modern life — especially during the holidays — supplements can help address blood-sugar problems. The four supplements listed below help balance sugar metabolism and blood-sugar levels and block sugar absorption.

1) L-glutamine is an amino acid shown to prevent the development of blood sugar imbalance also known as glucose regulation problems.

2) Chromium is a mineral that helps regulate blood-sugar levels.

3) Gymnema sylvestre is an Indian ayurvedic herb commonly used by diabetics.

4) Alpha-lipoic acid is a highly potent antioxidant. It is known to improve glucose utilization and improve nerve disease caused by diabetes. For those suffering from Type II diabetes this supplement helps them be less insulin resistant.

Making better food choices can solve most blood-sugar problems. For example, proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates — such as those found in beans, fruits and vegetables — are digested more slowly, thus providing a more sustained sugar supply. But during the next few festive months when sweet temptations abound, incorporate a supplement regimen to avoid both erratic blood-sugar levels and the usual holiday highs and lows.

Are You Scared You’ll Eat all the Halloween Candy?

Well it’s that time of the year when everywhere you look you see candy, treats and sugary temptations all about.  If you are in the Zone – meaning on track with your healthy habits – this may not even faze you.  But if you aren’t look out!  This seemingly innocent holiday is loaded with abandon and regret.  Sure it tastes good for a minute or two and then you are riddled with guilt and remorse wishing you could have more self control.  Well don’t worry it only lasts a few weeks right?  However, you could let this type of snacking take over and it could last well into Thanksgiving and beyond.  You’ll end up crying in front of your mirror when the actual holidays come around and you are unable to fit into the new dress you just bought a few months back.

Ok – I will not go on about this potential disaster any longer but rather give you some strategies of how to overcome the temptations.

Here are your 5 strategies on how to handle Halloween and even have a healthy one…

5 Halloween Strategies:

Strategy #1  Don’t go down the candy aisle.  I witnessed today while shopping that during Halloween there is no designated candy aisle – there is literally candy everywhere you turn. So take a breathe and focus on why you went shopping in the first place to buy chicken, eggs and some fresh vegetables – lots of them. Write out a list if that helps and don’t buy off the list.  If you don’t feel that strong – give the list to your husband, neighbor or teenager (yes, some will) and ask them to go shopping for you. Enroll others help. Or munch on an apple before you go into the store – that will curb your sweet tooth. Also drink some water as that will reduce hunger. You’ll end up making wrong choices if you shop when you’re hungry.

Strategy #2  Give something else.  You might be someone who loves to hand out candy to neighborhood kids so this strategy won’t work. My husband and I lived in rural Malibu for many years and actually seldom had children come by on Halloween for their yearly trick or treat. We kind of got used to not having candy around because we didn’t need it on that Hallowed Eve.

I grew up in a neighborhood full of children and Halloween was a major event. I remember coming home several times during the evening to unload my stash and go out again. My mother enjoyed seeing all the apples I brought home. (Yes, in those days apples were given often) and knew she’d be in the kitchen the next day making dozens of apple pies. There were 10 of us in my household – so, yes dozens of pies. The tip here is that you don’t always have to give candy, try something else instead – be creative.

Strategy #3  Go out on Halloween.  Go to a party, go out to dinner – distract yourself from the candy craziness. You don’t have to be at home waiting for youngsters to appear at your door in order to enjoy Halloween. Remember it’s really about not having the temptation around you. My husband and I went out last Halloween. While dining at one of our favorite restaurants we noticed everyone was having a good time.  Customers, as well as staff, had some funny costumes on and the fun energy was contagious. We were able to enjoy a healthy meal as well as the festivities around us. 

Strategy #4  Homemade Baking anyone?  Why does everyone like baking or baked goods? They represent more love and less processing right? If you choose to bake your treat this Halloween make sure you use quality ingredients.  I must admit I seldom bake – I have a sweet tooth so it’s best that I don’t have much of this kind of stuff around. One of the reasons I do what I do is to not only help a lot of people,  but my dedication to my work also helps keep me in line and causes me to be focused on my healthy habits.

You could also try some new products on the market like Crunchies. They are a quick and healthy alternative to baked and heavily processed treats. Crunchies are simply dehydrated fruits and veggies which are colorful, taste yummy and good for your kids, too.  For more information go to: www.CrunchiesFood.com

Strategy  #5   Being a Responsible Kid.  You can play and have fun like a kid but it doesn’t mean you have to eat like one. Kids today are still encouraged by advertisers and peers to eat a lot of sugar and salty foods as well beverages loaded with caffeine. Join me on the mission to change that cultural trend. Munching responsibly, even during Halloween, is good for you and it also sets a wonderful example for the children (and everyone else) in your life. However, if you feel disciplined and strong enough go ahead have a little of the forbidden treat – just a little – that’s it. Learn to munch responsibly.

Have a Spooky Fun Time!

Need a Candy Fix?

Do you fall prey to all the Halloween sugar around?  Is this good for you or your kids or your inner child?  Well, I’m sure you know what I’m going to say.  No, it’s not good for anyone. If you are thinking that – “I’ll just a have few – that won’t hurt…” and then find your hand reaching endlessly into your child’s Trick or Treat Bag – well this is precisely why it’s not good.  Sugar is addictive, has zero nutrition and in fact robs your body of key nutrients such as Vitamin C.

Here are 3 Tips to Keep Your Candy Cravings at Bay:

Tip #1 Protein Power - The easy fix for an addictive sugar habit is always have enough protein in your diet.  The protein will usually satisfy your body’s need for nutrition, along with healthy carbohydrates – like vegetables and good oils.  Once you’ve eaten a balanced meal your cravings usually diminish.  Just so you know – it takes 3 days to get the physiological craving from your body and a little longer (30 days) to rid yourself of the emotional craving or the habit.  Can you make it for 30 days?  Try it.

I grew up with a sweet tooth myself.  My mother would always make me sit and eat my dinner – I was a picky eater – before any desert would touch my lips I had to sit and wait.  Sometimes I’d sit for an hour (I guess I was stubborn, too). Not having kids myself I can only imagine my mother and all the mother’s reading this article relating to how absolutely frustrating it can be to have your child eat well or not eat well.  I’ve since learned how to eat in a balanced fashion of course – but that sugar monster has to be tamed at all costs.

Tip #2 - Out of Sight. Give it away. Yes, you can give it away or throw it away. If you have a strong leaning towards sugar don’t have it around.  In your moments of weakness, tiredness or emotional upset you will most likely grab for it right away. Best to forego the candy isle when shopping. This goes for all sugar type foods and not just the candy – sweets in general. Also, alcohol can be just a replacement for the candy as it is just sugar as well. All these excess calories and carbohydrates, if not used for energy expenditure will be converted to fat and stored as fat on your body. I always say from your eyes to your thighs – so watch out. And don’t be fooled by sweeteners which are actually worse for you than “food” made from real sugar or sugar cane.  Fructose, even though derived from fruit, is nothing like actually eating  fruit. Studies show that fructose is highly toxic to your liver.

Replace these snack items with nuts, seeds and fruit. These contribute to your wellbeing rather than deplete it. You will not be craving these foods as they are natural foods coming directly from mother nature. OK – so some fruits are picked off the vine or tree too early – nonetheless they are still better than heavily processed sweet snacks. Don’t get me wrong the salty snacks are just as much of a problem.  And they are often filled with sugar as well. Remember to read your labels.

Tip #3 Perfecting Your Meal Time Habit. If you miss meals you’re more vulnerable to those sticky and gooey food items. Don’t end up starving and grabbing anything in sight!

Rule #1 don’t miss meals. It stresses your body as well as your blood sugar. Or as I said you’ll end up reaching for the candy fix. Start your day off with a well balanced meal – not cheerios and 2% milk – these are again highly processed foods. Most foods we consider breakfast items – cereals, bagels, nut breads, pancakes set the stage for the rest of the day. You load up on these starches and find the rest of the day you want more of the same.

To give you a hint – the foods you have for lunch or dinner could be a good breakfast as well.  I tell clients this – most of them rebel and can’t imagine having fish for breakfast.  For the brave at heart try it – you’ve got some salmon left over from dinner add it to your omelet.  Try it.  Always choose proteins and carbohydrates – vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans or grains to your meals.  Remember your meals should be all about balance.

And if you must try some of the Halloween candy. Only have a few – just a few and know that Local Dentists are on Call daily!   And if you have a Nutrition Emergency I will be, too!

Happy Halloween!

Are You Always Eating on the Run?

This week’s article was “inspired” by something I saw on the freeway a few weeks back. I was following a car that was going a little too slow so I passed it and what did I see?  Lo and behold a woman eating her lunch, or maybe even  breakfast although it was 1 p.m. out of a bowl with a spoon driving 70 miles an hour. You know I’m big on eating regular meals, but this is ridiculous – don’t you think?  Not only is this practice obviously dangerous, but also it’s not the best way to eat a meal.

I’m not perfect and recently I found myself munching on a small piece of sliced chicken breast while I headed out to a meeting. As I drove down my street I witnessed a neighbor – a woman – doing the same thing (well maybe not chicken breast) but she was munching on something and looking very hurried. This is another great example that we women, in particular, put way too much on our plates.

5 Tips to help prevent eating things you really don’t want to:

Tip # 1  Carry quick foods with you.  Munching on an apple or some almonds while driving is completely acceptable and easy to manage.  That is if you’re not on a curvy road requiring both hands on the wheel.

Plan for periods of possible low blood sugar by automatically taking an apple or pear with you or having a bag of almonds in your car or purse. This type of easy planning should help you out tremendously.  And this is such a great time of year for apples and pears and a bonus – they aren’t messy and are very easy to munch on.

Tip # 2   Make sure to schedule time.  Of course, there will always be some days when you can’t avoid running late for whatever reason. However, 80 % of the time you need to plan and schedule regular meals so you don’t find yourself eating on the run or worse yet – not eating anything. The latter is harder on your body than eating a little too much.  But if both become a habit, it’s time to re-organize your life and your lifestyle.

Tip #3   Fast Food – an error in decision making.  Fast food is seldom a good choice when you need to find a meal quickly. You can stop by your local grocery or Whole Foods Market and pick up something quickly and even sit down and eat it. I did just that the other day. I had only a window of 20-30 minutes for lunch. I normally bring a fresh, scrumptious salad to my office, but this particular day I didn’t plan as well as I normally do. So off I went to Whole Foods to select my “healthy fast food”. I chose a couple of pieces of Tandoori (I love spicy) chicken and a kale, brussels sprout and celery salad – yum!  Now that’s a well balanced and nutritious lunch.  Get the idea?

Tip # 4    Don’t rely on the crackers.  You may find that grabbing a piece of cheese with a handful of crackers is somewhat better than a greasy cheeseburger when on the run, but hold on.  Over the years I’ve heard many a story from clients explaining their lack of control with these common starchy morsels. Why not try a small piece of cheese (ie. string cheese) with a fresh carrot or two instead of the starchy temptation. Forego the processed crackers for real food instead.

Tip # 5   Give up something.  I had a client laugh when I asked her what she could let go of in her busy schedule. I’ve had many various responses to this question over the years. But a response so honest and refreshing as her laugh got me thinking just how far removed we are from having a normal and nourishing pace in our lives. Sure my client, perhaps like you, loves her work, her family, her community and participating in life, but if you’re overbooked and constantly living your life on the run, something is amiss. Always being on the run stresses your body, impacts your hormonal function and drains you mentally. So laugh if you like (always good medicine) but consider for a moment – what can you take out of your life to simplify it?

Enjoy walking, sauntering and meandering …and not running this week.

Are You Sure You Want to Eat That?

When your dinner host asks you would you like more?  What do you say? Yes or no? Sounds like a simple thing doesn’t it – but of course we know it’s not. Do you feel that you’d offend your host if you say No? Ask yourself – would you rather leave your dinner feeling overstuffed and guilty instead? Even though the holidays aren’t quite here yet, learning to say no graciously now will help you during the more challenging times ahead.

But what about discipline? What about contentment? In order to have contentment you must have discipline. I just heard a really great distinction made between the two. Discipline is doing the right thing even when you desire the wrong thing. Contentment is when you no longer want the wrong thing. So when you’re making healthy changes in your life think of what you really want long-term rather than in this very minute. Choosing correctly now will give you want you want most – a healthy life.

Our culture dictates that you’re supposed to be on a diet. As I’ve said many times in past articles, diets don’t work but a well rounded system and expert support does. You may be saying half-heartedly to yourself, your friend or to me “yeah I need to lose weight” and then choose not to do that for some reason or another. My client Lisa wanted health first and did what she needed to – with discipline and commitment to her true goal. She just happened to lose weight, too – a bonus.

Here are few ways to help you decide if you really do want to eat that – ask yourself the following questions.

5 Tips to help prevent eating things you really don’t want to:

Tip # 1  Have you eaten regular meals throughout the day?  If not there’s a high likelihood you’ll say yes to that extra helping at dinner or to the mouth-watering dessert when offered it. If you have eaten well all day long you will not be as tempted or have a need to overdo it. You’ll find that you have more self-control and feel proud and comfortable in your clothes when it’s time to go home.

Tip # 2   Are you hanging around the snack table?  Step away from any area in your environment that’s loaded with chips, pretzels, brownies etc. Appetizers are really unnecessary. If you’re having dinner soon why bother adding more empty calories? And yes, they are usually empty. This pre-meal habit is pervasive in our culture. Again, unnecessary so stay away.

Tip #3  Are you holding out for dessert?  When we have visitors over to our  house they know not to expect any dessert (maybe that’s why we don’t have as many visitors as we’d like – just kidding). Well, there may be crunchy grapes or sliced watermelon served but that’s about it.  Even while celebrating a birthday – is cake necessary? I went looking for a birthday card the other day and noticed 95% of the cards had a picture of cake on them. Tradition is hard to change. But why not try something different like berries topped with frozen coconut yogurt and don’t forget the candles.

Tip # 4   Have you turned into an Evening Muncher?  If you feel tired and feel like you need something to keep you going, pay attention to what your body is telling you. It’s probably telling you it’s time to go to bed and get some rest rather than propping yourself up with evening snacks. If you’re bored find something more nurturing to do than raid the cupboards. Look at your evening meal – was it balanced with proteins and good non-starchy carbohydrates? If yes, this munching your about to embark on may be more emotional than actually hunger. Ask yourself – what am I really hungry for right now?

Tip # 5  Is your Resistance Down?  When invited to have more food while your resistance is down due to fatigue, hunger or cravings you’re setting yourself up for making poor choices.  Becoming aware of how vulnerable you are at certain times of the day or in certain situations is really essential to gaining control of your eating habits. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can do it on all on your own. If you haven’t been successful yet you may need some help getting a handle on your deeply ingrained, unhealthy patterns.

And remember just say NO when you need to.

Back to School – Back on Track

Ahhhh … for some of us now’s the time to go back to school – and for most of us it’s time to get back on track.  Have you felt a little off track since the summer started?  Now is certainly the time to re-focus on feeling better – actually feeling the best you’ve felt in years – why not?  This is truly possible.  It just takes making a decision and getting started.  Nothing ever happens if you don’t take action.  Visualization has its place but you do eventually need to get moving.  Thinking about eating well or exercising or getting to bed early remains only a thought if you don’t take practical concrete steps to make it happen.

Here are 5 ACTION STEPS you can start doing today:

Action Step #1: Keep a List of 5-10 Daily Commitments

These are commitments you make to yourself – things you want to do, improve or let go of.  For example – “I did not eat ice-cream today” would be an example of something you let go of and is part of your daily commitment of eating healthier.  Go ahead check that off – that is an accomplishment – something you committed to and achieved by the end of the day.  Don’t be too obsessive with this exercise – as long as the intention is there and you plan to take your commitments seriously you will make progress.

Action Step #2: Focus on Year End Goals

A more long range focus is to look at the goals you plan to accomplish by December 31st.  You started off the year will grand ideas of what 2013 would look like right?  Now looking ahead you may want to review and revise some of those goals.  Perhaps you’ve already accomplished what you set out to do, or maybe the things you thought were worth your attention turned out to be not that important.  It’s OK you can let them go.  Turn your thoughts to more updated and relevant goals.  Perhaps your life has changed dramatically and you are in the throes of a major transition like moving, changing jobs or suddenly having to care for an elderly parent.  Certainly in those cases your priorities have shifted.  But what if it’s a little more subtle than that like your energy isn’t what you’d like it to be – you know by making some shifts in your evening routine and getting to bed earlier would help you.  Or maybe a close relationship has been strained and it has suddenly occurred to you that your communication with this person needs to change, hopefully for the better.  These shifts in goals and priorities give you an opportunity to course correct and create something new and fresh in your life.

Action Step #3: Do Something You’ve Never Done Before 

Speaking of something new and fresh why not explore something out of the box for you. Go ahead I’m sure you can think of a few things.  And no it doesn’t need to be as dramatic as jumping out of an airplane.  Maybe it’s leaving work early on weekday and taking a walk on the beach.  Or how about … you fill in the blanks.       I recommend you do something you haven’t done before at least once a week.  And again, don’t just think about it actually do it.  By taking this action step you will move out of your normal routine and thinking and become more spontaneous. And often you will find that you have a fresher perspective and able to see creative solutions to any problems you may be facing.

Action Step #4:  Give to a Charity

Don’t just think about it.  If you can’t think of any you’d like to contribute to might I suggest my favorite charity which is called Nourish the Children.  For $22 a month (or more) I am able to feed a hungry child for an entire month.  I feel so honored that I can help bless a child with a month’s worth of a nourishing whole grain, high protein food product called VitaMeal.  Most of the donations go to Malawi Africa– which is considered to be the 5th poorest country in the world. With the Nourish the Children Initiative we have been able to proudly say that no child died of starvation in Malawi Africa in 2009.  It fills my heart that I was a part of this project to end world hunger.  Meals are also contributed to other areas of the world that need attention including here at home in America as well.  It is very important to give back – don’t hesitate.

Action Step #5 – Keep it simple

We are a nation filled with overcomplicating everything.  We often find ourselves overwhelmed not knowing what to do first and having too much on our plates and never really feeling fulfilled.  We have lost the art of being happy with the small things – a baby’s smile, the sound of the bird’s song in the distance, a quiet Sunday morning when there is not sound in the neighborhood.  Often our nervous systems have become so raw and vulnerable that we can’t hear or sense these simple things.  However, we must learn to open our hearts to the simple things in life for better health.  If something becomes too much of a struggle perhaps it’s a clear message that we may need to either leave it completely or attempt it again tomorrow.  Stop, give yourself a kind and deserving break today and then begin again.