Archive for Self Improvement

Are You an Expert at Gaining Weight?

I know, I know it’s absolutely something you do not want to be an expert in – right? But unfortunately you may feel like you are. Whatever you do – you try this you try that – lose some weight gain it back and on and on… Sound familiar?

Here are my 3 tips to help make you more of a health expert and not a weight gain one – sound good?  OK – here it goes.

Your 3 Tips to Help Make You Your Own Health & Vitality Expert:

1.  Go Inside & Ask.  Do I want to be light or full? Do I want my clothes to fit or do I want that bowl of ice cream after dinner? Do I want a relaxing evening at home or choose to prove to my spouse that I’m right about something and end up arguing? Do I really need to watch You Tube videos until midnight or would listening to a meditation audio while I drift off to sleep at 11:00 p.m. be better for me?

You see, you are making choices constantly and making one that helps you attain a state of overall wellbeing is, of course, the best. However, the best choice may not always be the favorite choice. So try to go inside and take the time to process your thoughts and feelings first before making a possible impulsive or unhealthy choice.

2.  How Much Is Enough: You may wonder why controlling your portion size is so important. Well it’s not just about the amount you’re consuming but also it’s about creating some discipline.  You see, when you begin to take good care of yourself, you start making eating the right food and the right amount a priority. Having discipline is a good thing and it can be synonymous with doing a loving thing for yourself. Discipline DOES NOT always mean limitation.

When you overeat you are usually compensating for an unusual or uncomfortable emotional state you are experiencing. Whether happy or sad on some level it can be difficult to accept how you are actually feeling in the present moment. Giving yourself a plan of action in the beginning of your day is helpful in keeping you inline and in-tune with how much food your body really needs. In my Skinny Jeans Weight Loss Program ™ I recommend weighing your food initially to help you discover the ideal amount of food for best weight loss results. Over the years I have heard many of clients admitting how surprised they were to find just how much in excess they were actually consuming. Their portion sizes were larger than their bodies actually needed to function optimally. Everyone has a portion size that’s best for them. These can vary depending on your exercise/activity level but generally women require approximately 1500-2000 calories/day and men approximately 1800-2400 calories/day.

3.  Dieting Shouldn’t Be Your Job: I’ve mentioned this several times in past blogs where I have warned you not only to avoid becoming obsessed with dieting but also to learn to reframe the entire concept of dieting. A  Diet actually means what you consume on a daily basis. If you are constantly dieting you are not learning how to eat for long term wellness. Taking your excess weight off in a healthy yet efficient way requires a system that supports fat burning and muscle maintenance and results in that sought after reduction on your bathroom scale.

Once you get to that “magic number” you must focus on doing everything you can to maintain that number or at least within a 3 lb. range.

For example, if you’ve lost 30 lbs. and your weight is now 150 –  try keeping your weight between 150-153. Once it starts going higher than the 3 lbs. you will need to go back to your original weight system/plan to get the extra weight off. The longer you wait to take this important step the more likely it is that you’ll gain even more weight and perhaps – wait for it -gain ALL the weight back – and I know you don’t want that to happen. You’ve worked hard to lose the weight so find the best way to maintain it. Pay attention to your weight fluctuations over time. Stop the uphill climb  before it gets out of hand. The more you follow this advice the less you will need to constantly be on a diet and the more freedom you’ll feel in this area of your life.

You are now becoming your own health expert - Congratulations

Want to be Successful When Dining Out?

So many have asked me to address the whole issue of healthy dining so this week I am. Whether you’re in the midst of an effort to lose or maintain a healthy weight, eating well at your favorite restaurant can be a daunting experience. But don’t worry it can be done.

Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of opportunities to dine out – more so than normal. Having firsthand experience of the challenges you face I am going to provide you some valuable tips to help maneuver through your next dining adventure.

Here are your Dining Tips:

1.  Just Say No: Don’t even let the waiter consider bringing the bread basket to your table. Trust me you won’t even miss it. In fact, yesterday my husband and I went to Sunset in Malibu, the restaurant where we had our wedding. It was lovely, although 93 degrees at the end of April even at the beach was somewhat disconcerting. So we had completed our wonderful meal when I noticed every other table either had a bread basket on it or was graciously having it served. Had the waiter done the same for us I could have been tempted to have some bread since I was quite hungry and not enjoy my meal as much. So just say no as much as you can – Save your palate for the main meal instead.

2.  Hold the Dressing: Most dressings are loaded with sugar, unhealthy fat and salt. Oftentimes when I review the  “Eat This Don’t Eat That” blog I am shocked by the caloric content of most commercial salad dressings. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know I’m not big on calorie counting, but if you know how many calories most dressings contain you’ll think twice. Choose Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar and you’ll be good to go.

3.  Some Protein: Whether you’re a meat eater, pescatarian or vegetarian it’s important to have some source of protein in your meal. Your choices could consist of a ½ handful of shrimp, buckwheat noodles with goat cheese or nut meatloaf.  Your plate should consist of ¼ of protein no more. Ok so most restaurants might not offer the buckwheat noodles but a lot are now offering quinoa and certainly rice as well. Beans are also an adequate source and an option for you.

4.  Make Mine Veggie: I am advising more and more on the importance of focusing on having a primarily plant based diet. It is vital for good health, good for animals and for the planet in general. Put a small amount of protein on your plate and make the rest veggies. I have been tuned into the Food Revolution Summit all week and I suggest you also take part, too. You can go to  http://foodrevolution.org/summit/ and listen to powerful leading experts  interviewed daily until tomorrow. The Summit is hosted by John and Ocean Robbins. Remember John Robbins, son of one of the founders of Baskin and Robbins, in his landmark film and book entitled “A Diet for a New America” circa 1987 he exposed the tragedy of the American industrialized food industry including the mistreatment of animals. Think of reducing your consumption and demand for more humane treatment of animals. We all want that – right?

5.  Dessert Not Necessary: You should not need to have dessert if you had a balanced meal. Eliminating this cultural tradition does require some conscious effort and it can be done. If you need to tell yourself you’ll have something sweet later – by the time later comes you’ve most likely either forgotten about or lost the desire.

Enjoy your meal out!

What’s in Your Fridge?

I just noticed Dr. Oz had a special article in this month’s O Magazine about this very topic. I wanted to create my own version of what a healthy fridge should consist of using my own fridge as an example. In this article I’ll help you determine what to keep, clean up or clear out of your fridge. What are the best and then the not-so-good ingredients lurking in your Frigidaire?

So here’s how to keep your fridge COOL and not scary. Let’s review what you should keep. Consider the following as your healthy refrigerator basics:

1) Nuts & Seeds: They are a must in every healthy fridge and diet. Store them in the cool fridge to maintain optimum freshness and preserve the delicate natural fats inherent in these nutritious morsels. This list includes almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and pine nuts.

2) Vegetables: Load you fridge with the freshest veggies available. Keep the crisper brimming with crunchy delights from the garden. In my fridge I have a pull out drawer filled with Romaine lettuce (the 3 bunch bag), lemons, limes, onions (1/2 portion), green onions and cucumbers. In my larger pullout I have all the rest – kale, chard, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, red cabbage, turnips, etc.

3) Fruit: As I’ve shared before I have another fridge in my garage where the overflow goes – it’s filled with grapefruit, oranges and apples and extra cauliflower, or sometimes I purchase a huge bag of baby spinach and put it right in there as well.

4) Probiotics: Although not a food item most probiotics require refrigeration to preserve their potency. More companies are starting to manufacture non-refrigerated versions giving you more flexibility for traveling.

5) Dairy: Best to keep butter and cheese in special sections in your fridge especially your cheeses. Butter like eggs has a much longer shelf life than cheese. When you need a quick protein food choose low fat cheeses. Don’t be afraid to use butter – just use it sparingly.

6) Eggs: It’s a must to keep eggs cool in order to maintain quality. Eggs have an excellent shelf life and are always good to have handy for a quick protein meal or for a special recipe.

7) Coconut Milk and Coconut Butter: Here also you want to keep coconut products cool in order to maintain freshness. Coconut has gained a well-deserved reputation as being a healthy dairy alternative.

Here’s what to dump:

1) Leftovers: If they are more than 3 days old, best to discard. The longer you save prepared/cooked foods the more degradation and loss of nutrient value. So avoid cooking too much at one time. This does take practice but it’s best to eat your food as fresh as possible.

2) Salad Dressing: Most dressings in the marketplace are heavily sweetened or have less than pure ingredients in them. Best to stick to olive oil and either apple cider vinegar or balsamic as a suitable and healthier salad dressing option. There are also several vinegar and oil gourmet shops starting to crop up everywhere. They offer some great varieties like Blackberry or Persian Lime Vinegars. Or how about Hazelnut Oil anyone?

3) Mayo: Unless its non-hydrogenated best to avoid. Hydrogenation is a processing method that damages fragile oils deeming them toxic when consumed. Best to either make your own version of mayonnaise or try using plain yogurt instead. It may taste a little more sour but it’s better for you.

4) Sauces: Avoid most prepared sauces. They are usually loaded with artificial ingredients and add unnecessary calories to your meals. Think of using fresh herbs like dill, mint, basil or rosemary instead. Or use warming spices like curry, cumin or cayenne. Or cooling spices like oregano or Herbs du Provence, for example.

5) Ketchup: This condiment is nothing more than sugar and artificial ingredients. You can’t really even claim any redeeming vegetable/fruit contribution of the tomato because it’s just tomato flavoring nothing more. Try instead using chili powder or sriracha sauce instead but beware these two have more punch than ketchup.

Chill out and keep your Fridge Healthy.

 

What’s Holding You Back?

Is there something you’ve been wanting to do but you’re still sitting on the fence?  Are you feeling it’s either not the right time or impossible to accomplish? There are so many excuses..I mean reasons for procrastination. A big one I’ve been hearing lately is “I need to talk it over with my husband”. Ladies – if you really wanted to do something you believe is in your best interest like changing your diet, getting healthy and losing weight – you shouldn’t need to run it by your spouse. You should know that it’s important enough for you to do. And what is more important than your health and peace of mind? Don’t fall prey to this avoidance type thinking and take a stand for yourself.

When clients work with me they are often surprised how much I care for their overall success. I take a stand for them – even if they are unable to do so for themselves. That’s my job to help you believe even when you find it hard to. I’ve worked in my practice for over 20 years helping individuals say yes to their dreams and yes to themselves. I work on this very thing in my own life and often hire coaches of many types, usually business or professional coaches in particular, to help me be the best I can be in my work and then offer you the best I can on a daily basis. Always consider your goals and dreams worthwhile by making them and yourself a priority.

Here are Five Ways to Say YES to yourself NOW:

1.  Give up your “Someday Thinking”.  If you think too far into the future and think your magic day will arrive someday know that you are most likely fooling yourself. Most people, including you, often think they have more time than we actually do. You and most of us are so conditioned to put things off for another day. Life is too short. Have you ever heard this saying: “Procrastination causes sorrow – so I’ll stop tomorrow”. I just heard it today and it’s what in fact inspired to write on this topic. You see when it comes to creating a healthy body and life know that someday may never come.

The clothes in the back of your closet – the ones you want to fit into someday, or the stability ball that also sits in your closet collecting dust or the recumbent bike which becomes a clothes hanger – these are all representations of the “Someday Syndrome“ (as I call it) winning out. You can change your future by taking one small step today – by not only thinking about it but actually doing something about it.  For example: I put on my new gym clothes today – a gift my husband gave me last week for my Birthday. Just having them on inspired me to pull out my yoga mat and do a few poses for 20 minutes. It just takes a little to get started.

2. What’s Making YOU Afraid? If you aren’t taking action you must ask yourself what’s making you afraid to take action. Do you think you’ll fail, or you’ll be laughed at, or that you’ll overspend time, energy and money and not get the results you want? When you think of losing weight do you think mostly of all the lbs you want to lose or do you also think about the possibility of learning how to manage your emotions so you don’t give in to your emotional eating habit? Do you even consider getting to the root of your automatic habits? This takes time and gives you an opportunity to become more grounded and compassionate towards yourself. Changing unhealthy habits isn’t an overnight fix but a process. For some it’s 6 months for others it takes 6 years for even others it’s a lifetime. I encourage you to embrace this concept and give yourself the love and time you need.

3. Be Practical. I’m a big fan of making dreams come true but I’m also a big proponent of taking realistic and practical steps to get you where you want to go. I’m all about getting results and I pretty sure that’s what you want, too. Staying in a dream state unable to achieve your weight and wellness goals is not the best place to be. Sometimes I need to reinforce “the one day at a time” principle and sometimes it even converts to “one meal at a time”.  Don’t over plan, under achieve and end up falling off the wagon. Appreciate each victory. If you didn’t have desert and everyone else at your table did – acknowledge yourself for that. If you brought your lunch to work 3x/week last week – give yourself a pat on the back.  You ARE making significant inroads towards achieving a healthier life.

4. Go with Your Gut. You know eating right, de-stressing and taking your supplements is the right thing to do and yet you just don’t do it. You might want to ask yourself – do you have a history of not committing? If so consider when was the last time you actually committed to something. Did you commit to saving money for a trip you wanted to take? Did you commit to looking for a place to live that was just right for you? Did you commit to a relationship? Whatever it was – you did commit. Sometimes it’s not commitment at all but rather a matter of timing – are you in place in your life where you can focus on healthy eating and really taking good care of yourself? Sure I want you to be doing this all the time but yet it may not be realistic for you right now. Maybe you have kids at home still needing a lot of your time and energy, maybe it’s elderly parents or a project you’ve just started. Whatever it is be honest with yourself – is it or is it not the best time for you?  I believe that even when other things in your life are taking precedence it may very well be the best time to consider a weight loss or nutrition program.

So evaluate –do a Pro and Con list  if it helps you get clear.  But remember - if not now then when?

5. Make a Decision. Make it and then stick with it. Making a decision is the best and often the only way to move forward in your life. Stop putting the brakes on in your life and start taking action. Know that you will always learn a lot more by doing something than by doing nothing. Watch escape route tactics that distract you rather than propel you. Are you watching too much TV, comparing yourself to others, picking arguments, going to the mall too often – these are all ways to avoid taking the time to decide what’s important to you. Instead of watching your favorite sitcom this evening decide to give yourself some quiet time to get centered and think of what health goals you want to accomplish in the next 3 months. Do you want to get the sugar and starchy carbs out of your diet? Do you want to let go of the last 10 or 30 lbs from your life? Do you want to change your sleep habits and go to bed earlier?  Ask yourself these questions? By saying Yes to these questions you are saying a resounding YES to YOU!

Would you like to feel lighter, freer and happier?
Then say YES to yourself.

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.

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!