Archive for Self Improvement – Page 2

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.

Enter the Cellulite-Free Zone

Have you ever wondered how to get rid of it – who hasn’t?  You know even though summer’s pretty much over most us are still burdened with that dimply, ripply unpleasant effect on our skin.  We still what to show off our arms and legs when we can – right? Having it is a good indicator that something is out of balance in your body and most likely your diet.

Even though for some it is genetic and determined by how thin your skin is.  For many of us, however it’s due to an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, estrogen levels, high body fat composition and/or insufficient hydration.  The good news is there are simple things you can do about it.

Here are 6 Dietary Secrets to putting an End to Cellulite:

1)    Stop drinking carbonated fizzy drinks– they only increase water retention that causes puckering beneath the skin’s surface

2)    Drink more water – this will actually prevent water retention and create a healthy fluid balance in your body

3)    Eat more non-starchy carbohydrates – they are the high water content vegetables such as leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower.  The starchy carbohydrates are root vegetables such as yams, beets, potatoes, squash, beans and grains.

4)    Food sensitivity may cause some of that unsightly puckering and a tendency to retain water.  Try eliminating some of the main culprits such as dairy and eggs for a couple of weeks and see what happens.

5)    Super Diuretic Vegetables are asparagus, cucumber, cabbage water cress, red onions.  Use these in your daily diet.

6)    Increase Protein slightly and lower your starchier Carbohydrates like grains, root vegetables and beans as we’ve already discussed.

Keeping a healthy water balance will boost metabolism, burn more fat, and lower your insulin.  Higher insulin levels will often cause inflammation in your body which can be a big contributor to the cellulite problem causing fat to get caught deep below the surface making your skin have the unwanted and unsightly cottage cheese look.

Take some of these steps today and you’ll be able to say bye to cellulite and hello to smooth, beautiful skin soon enough.

A Calorie Is Not a Calorie?

I know you’ve heard “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” or even “calories in calories out” when referring to one’s ability to gain or lose weight.  Culturally we either view calories as the enemy or an expected (maybe even welcome) guest.  Needless to say this topic can be quite confusing.  With some not caring at all while others care way too much.

You’ve heard the common sense advice of: “lower your calories if you want to lose weight” or “burn more calories so you can eat more later and not gain an inch”.  Or how about “I can’t have that there are too many calories in it”.  And then there are those who blindly indulge in the latest super-sized whole lot a latte filled with a whopping amount of with hidden empty calories.

The contrast of obsession with laxness makes it all so confusing. So where do you go for sound advice? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 5 Tips on how to get the most from the calories you consume:

Tip # 1   What’s a calorie anyway? It’s a measure of heat. To be more precise, it’s the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.  So it’s neither an enemy or a friend it’s just a calculation used to determine the energy produced by the food you consume. You need a minimum amount of food energy in order to maintain your metabolism and drive your muscles. There are foods or substances that are considered thermogenic or have fat burning effects; things like grapefruit, tomatoes, chile, and green tea for example.

Tip # 2  Why should I care?  It’s important to have an idea of the general caloric content of what you’re consuming.  I even get shocked when I randomly get to read the “Eat this, Don’t eat that” newsletter online. Usually restaurant foods are the worst culprits.  From cronuts (combination croissant and doughnut) to “the healthy salad” loaded with excess sugary and fatty dressing, bacon, cheese (lots of it) and everything but the kitchen sink. Bringing in a whopping count of nearly 1000 calories, oftentimes more than half of your daily caloric need. Yes, this is why you need to care.  Just because it says, “natural”, “healthy” or “leaner” doesn’t it mean it is.

Tip #3  It matters where your calories come from: So two foods may have the exact number of calories – however one nourishes you with the right kind of nutrients and the other robs you of nourishment – even though it may taste soooo good!  A piece of salmon may have the same amount of calories as a piece of chocolate cake but with the high sugar and unhealthy fats of the cake it robs you of your health instead of giving you health.  Yes, of course you may occasionally like to have a bite here and there. But just know for most people this saying is true: “one bite is too many and a thousand bites are not enough”.  Best to eat the good stuff and then you probably won’t want any nutrient-robbing calories in your diet. The quality of the calorie matters a great deal.

Tip # 4  Forget the Calorie Counting.  I believe that most of your food should come from items that are not labeled whatsoever.  Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and quality protein come without labels. However there are certain food items that do come packaged and you are sure to include in your daily diet.  Food items like: almond butter (should only be almonds), quinoa, cheese for example. Make sure these foods are pure and don’t have a lot of additional ingredients in them – which can not only add calories, but is also unnecessary. Nutrition labeling is very important when you have a health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, to make sure that the sugars aren’t too high or the sodium is in a healthy range.

Tip # 5    Dispelling the Calorie Myth:   Again a calorie is simply a form of measurement.  Don’t be obsessed with them, rather appreciate a healthy, wholesome diet devoid of junk and high calorie/low nutrient types of foods.  If you’re spending a lot of your time looking at labels there’s something wrong.  Remember garden fresh is the rule of the day. Enjoy the best calories mother earth can provide.

Eat well and forget about counting!

Ready for Skinny School?

Now’s the time to get serious again – isn’t it?  After all you’ve just spent the last 2 months having a good time and throwing anything that remotely resembled restriction or discipline out the window.  You realize this can’t go on – you must make some changes and get back to healthy again.  Well here are 5 clues about how to do just that.

Here are 5 Tips of Getting Back to Skinny School:

Tip # 1   Don’t hold your breath.  By that I mean don’t take too long to decide to turn things around. It’s easier to make changes now before your doctor tells you have no other choice. Initiate small doable steps now.

 

Tip # 2  Don’t forget your crayons.  Journaling is always a great way to help you track your food, exercise, self care and sleep habits.  If you don’t measure you can’t really make changes last.  Pick an attractive book and start writing (or even drawing) beginning with where you are now and where you want to go.

Tip #3  Get your school supplies.  Those supplies consist of a fridge full or healthy proteins, lots of fresh vegetables and refreshing fruit in your fruit bowl. Add some unsalted nuts and seeds to that and you’re good to go. Throw out, donate or give your neighbors all the snack foods still hidden in your pantry immediately. Let go of all and any temptation.

Tip # 4  Buy some New Clothes.  That’s right – buy a few new items, it’ll make you feel good and that’s an ideal place to start.  Don’t spend too much especially if you’re planning to lose a few lbs.  This exercise is designed to increase your self worth from the start.  Treat yourself first and then take care of yourself next.

Tip # 5    Rest Up.  Make sure you make getting enough sleep a priority – always. It’s a must if you want to be productive and effective with your weight management and healthy living goals. Get at least 8 hours.

Have Fun at School!

What’s in Your Pie Chart?

So school is about to start – and you might be thinking of getting things in order.  September is always the time of year we get to evaluate where we’ve been so far this year and how we want to end our year. After the summer of letting some areas of your life get off track you may want to start paying attention again.  You might want to start measuring things again.  How about how you spend your time, energy and focus?

I have had several of my clients reviewing just that.  What are your priorities?  Is it work, meetings or volunteering more than you’d really like to?  Don’t get me wrong making contributions to community or organizations you belong to is a wonderful thing to do.  But you need to ask yourself – is the time you are spending in these areas eroding or enhancing the balance in what you want to have in your life?  Do you go to meetings rather than taking time for fitness, making healthy meals or closing your eyes for 10-20 minutes when you come home from work?  If you aren’t doing any of these latter things than you must learn to take things off your plate.  Stop saying yes to everything and start saying yes to you 1st.

I have seen so many struggle with their health and weight simply because they are doing way too much.   So that’s why I am recommending a way to look at important categories in your life by creating a Pie Chart – a visible representation of where you spend most of your time and effort on a daily basis.  Many are surprised, even shocked to discover that they may only eke out 2-5% for themselves.  Could that be your story, too?

Here are 3 Simple Tips on Creating Your Pie Chart To Reflect What You Truly Want:

Tip #1 Get out of vagueness – Being vague about important things in your life can be a killer.  There’s no clarity or sense of direction living this way. If you do, you most likely don’t have much of an idea as to where you are at all.  This strategy (or lack of) can be compared to not writing down what you eat when you want to lose weight or keep your weight in check.  You are not conscious of what is really happening.  In order to become more aware and make necessary changes you must have some form of measurement.  Remember  you can’t change what you don’t measure.  What do you spend your time, focus and energy on during your day?

Tip #2 Making choices – After you’ve identified what’s in your Pie Chart – it’s time to determine where you’d like to spend more time and focus and where you’d like to spend less.  Perhaps you don’t want to be in work mode 24/7.  Or how about reducing some of your PTA activities.

Again, only if these activities are cutting into some of your own self caring personal time do you want to make different choices – modify a little.  If you are not sleeping well, eating on the run (most of the time) or  becoming more irritable with loved ones it’s time to make some changes re-vamp your Pie Chart. 

Tip #3 Have Fun –  Yes, even determining what is important can be a fun, and certainly revealing assignment.  You can have fun creating a new Pie Chart for Your Life.  Suspend reality for a moment and think what could be possible in your future.  Could you carve some time for date night with your spouse more often, have a massage 2x/mo or go to the theater to see a play every 3 months or so.

Plan for a trip to a place you’ve always wanted to go to.  Whatever you choose know that it will take some time to integrate less of the “have-to’s” and more of the “want to’s” into your life.  Have fun with this process.

Stay Skinny This Summer… Even While Traveling

It’s not impossible to eat well while vacationing. Your vacation state of mind can include light eating and better choices or it can run amok.  Here are a few ways to help you stay on track.

Here are 5 Healthy Tips while Traveling:

Tip # 1  Choose Light.  It’s not just about eating a lot of fresh fruit during the summer.  Even though juicy and refreshing, don’t overdo the fruit.  Chances are you are most likely choosing sweeter fruits. One or two fruits should be it for the day. Stick with most of your plant foods being vegetables.  There is an overabundance of fresh vegetable produce to pick from this time of year. 

 

Tip # 2  Go outside:  Take advantage of the wonderful weather.  If it’s too hot, aim for starting your outdoor adventure early in the morning before it gets too hot.  Take that early morning walk, run or hike.  Forego outdoor activities midday when the sun is at its peak.  And remember to always bring water with you.  I remember several years back going on a hike in the local Santa Monica mountains.  I was a rather inexperienced hiker and so I was not well equipped with the necessities.  I found myself feeling faint as we neared the peak and I almost passed out.  Something I’ll never forget – I now know to always have water and a snack with me even if it’s only a brief 30 minute walk around the neighborhood.

Tip #3  Pick Salads Instead of Burgers: I’m not opposed to burgers. Should you decide to have one, make sure you limit all or most of the bun. Also, french fries are usually part of the equation, so ask for a side of salad instead.  Main course salads are always a good pick. They are crisp and nutritious, however watch all the extras like highly caloric dressings, croutons, excessive amounts of ingredients like avocado, bacon, cheese. Although all of these are healthy, there just might be too much of it for one serving size.  While traveling, it’s not very easy to use a doggy bag, unless of course you have a fridge back in your hotel room or bed and breakfast.  If you don’t have any refrigeration order a small size or split a large size with your travel partner.

Tip # 4  Good Stuff Available Everywhere:  Believe it or not there is healthy food available everywhere you travel. Many foreign countries eat better than we do here.  Most cultures pride themselves on fresh fare and healthy portion sizes, as in enough to satisfy your hunger and not feeling overstuffed. Even if your host country offers greasy, large entrees you can still opt for something else.  Even though Mexico has now officially surpassed the U.S. as being the most obese country in the world (I would suspect it has a lot to do with processed foods having become more prevalent there) there is still plenty of excellent, healthy foods to choose from while visiting there.

Tip # 5   Alcohol Not Necessary:  Choose a Skinny drink – not necessarily a Skinny Girl Margarita. I like the “Skinny Girl” brand concept, but not so happy about the aspartame found in these drinks.  Aspartame, an unhealthy artificial sweetener, is known to be toxic to the brain. If you are choosing a cocktail you can make your own skinny version by replacing soda with mineral water instead.  Remember alcohol can cause you to overeat and crave certain foods like more sugar in the form of dessert.  So taste a little not a lot and save your waistline this summer.

Happy Trails!

Are You on the Heavier Side of Light?

Every week I have clients come into my office who inspire me.  Often in our sessions amazing ideas come to me for article topics.  Last week one of my clients was claiming that her summer clothes were tighter this year.  Even though she had maintained most of her  initial weight loss from when we first started working together – she had gained 4 lbs in the last 4 months.  It may not seem like a lot, but because she’s tiny to begin with – it was enough to put her into another size – up.

So I ask – are you also on the Heavier Side of Light right now?  Almost sounds like a movie title – doesn’t it?  Like the Unbearable Lightness of Being, for example?  But what I’m asking here is have you lost weight and now some of it has crept back on?  You aren’t feeling that far behind the eight ball, but just enough to have your new smaller sized clothes feeling a little snug.

You must admit you are lighter than you were before – maybe by a lot or maybe just a little.  But you’d like to get back to the smaller size, but maybe you’ve lost the motivation to do just that.  Maybe you don’t want to feel like you have to deprive yourself of sandwiches or desert or that glass of wine at dinner.  Maybe you just don’t want to live that way and the extra 2-12 lbs (or whatever the number is for you) is not worth being upset about.

If you are at that cross roads in maintaining your healthy lifestyle – you may want to ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are willing to do what it takes or simply accept where you are right now. 

Here are your Questions:

Question #1  Do you Like your Body Today?  Perhaps you’ve reached a point where you actually approve and love your body just as it right now.  You realize you will never be perfect or look like a movie star and finally you’re actually OK about that.  You still like what you see in the mirror.  Most of your clothes fit you just fine.  It’s not like it was.  You did dispense with all your “big clothes” long ago or you had your favorites taken in – that’s always a good thing.  So stay proud of how far you have come and the progress you’ve made.  Think of all the things you continue to learn and admire about yourself today.

Question #2  Do you plan to yoyo?  If you feel like you just may end going up and down & up and down for the rest of your life, ask yourself if you’d like to live with these planned fluctuations?  I don’t really advise planning to yoyo – it’s hard on your body, mind and spirit.  Normal fluctuations are common due to water retention, menstrual cycles, or exercise levels.  Eating larger portions than you’re used to or having foods you don’t normally eat are all  part of the “fluctuation dance”.  Watch for  incrementally continuous rises in weight – stopping this pattern as soon as it starts is essential for helping stay in your healthy weight range.

Question #3  Does your new weight require less effort to maintain?  If your new “heavier side of light” weight requires less effort you may want to consider that this is your new normal and stick with it.  You may want to enjoy more of this or that and find that the cost benefit is worth it to you.  Just make sure you stick with your healthy food choices 80-85% of the time.  

Question #4  Are you trying to maintain some fantasy? If you’re trying to maintain an unrealistic weight – a weight you may have been when you were 16, but not at 40 or 50.  This unrealistic weight may become impossible to maintain and will only set you up for further frustration.  Your hormonal balance is so much different now than when you were a teenager.  You most likely got away with a lot when you were younger; but now these indiscretions count – both on the scale and in how you actually feel.  Whether you are getting into your Skinny Jeans or not, you must make sure your weight goal is attainable – long term.

Questions #5   Do you just want to have fun?  You want to forget about constant control – you just want to be free from the scale, calorie counting and “weighing in” – is that right? You just want to let loose and enjoy your life – don’t you – after all isn’t that what life is all about?

This can be a beneficial strategy for some, however for most people too much letting go and having fun may set you off in the wrong direction completely. You may end up several weeks or months later, after having caused more damage and feeling worse, having to start over from scratch.  Now who wants to do that?  You don’t want all weight that you’ve worked so hard to lose. Consider all the time, energy, and money you’ve spent to accomplish a healthier and leaner life and now it’s all gone. So go ahead and have a little fun and know that discipline is not such a bad thing when it comes to your overall sense of wellbeing, pride and respect for yourself.