Creating New Healthy Habits (With all the spare time you have)

“I’ll take time for myself… As soon as I finish my endless list of other To Dos.”

dali-clockSound like you? Well, it sure sounds like me and pretty much all of my clients! We have all the right intentions to make healthy change in our lives, but feel we just don’t have the time to do it. I wanted to figure out how we can “crack the code” on what it takes to build a healthy habit and if there was any way to make it feel effortless (or at least not difficult) in as little time as possible. Five minutes is a good place to start, I thought.

As it turns out, habits are really subconsciously controlled by your brain so they really are effortless once they are true habits. Until then, you have to think about it.

Getting in Good Habits

I found this podcast with Rona Renner, R.N. and Dr. Christine Carter discuss the benefits of taking just five minutes of time for yourself – whether it be for making a healthy meal, stretching, meditation, getting a glass of water or another healthy activity you can do in 5 minutes.

In it, they share eight steps to make healthy activities, habits. Here are the first four steps found in Part I of the podcast, Getting in Good Habits.

(1)  Contemplation. Think about what you want to change. It sounds simple enough, but not enough of us take the time to think about what will truly make a healthy difference in our lives.

(2)  Do your homework. How are you going to do this? Do you need new supplies to do this change. Taking time to prepare yourself for change. If you take a little bit of time to research what it takes to actually make this change, you’ll be more prepared to make long-lasting change. Make a list of all the things that will get in your way.

(3)  Set your goal, and make it public. No one can make real change alone; everyone needs some sort of support, right? So tell your spouse, children, friends, and coworkers. Not only will it hold you more accountable to yourself, but you’ll also get the added benefit of having a support system all along the way.

(4)  Make a list of what will help you succeed. By breaking down your change into small steps, you’ll increase your odds of success. Start small, and build up, as they say. So if you have a goal of taking time for yourself for meditation, maybe start with 30 seconds to a minute.

You can do it challenge: Start today. Pick just one thing that you want to change to make your life healthier and happier. (and let me know about it in the comments)

Remember, change starts in tiny, tiny steps. Imagine the absolute LEAST you can do. That’s your starting point. Anyone can make a small change for the better. Even those of us who put our pants on inside out, skip flossing most days, and can’t seem to get laundry done. (I know I’m not alone in this.) dead_last_not_start

Just with any skill, forming habits takes practice.  No one wakes up, decides they want to run a marathon for the first time, and goes outside and does it. My first race was a 5K, not a marathon. That race started with a work “bootcamp” class with some jogging thrown in.

Your exercise starting point might be walking – even if “just” around the block. Then you might run around the block.  You’ll continue to move towards your goal in achievable, realistic steps until you’re comfortable with the idea of running an entire marathon…and then one day, you’ll do it!

This habit is just like any other one you want to change in your life. Start small…teeny tiny, in fact! Then make those small changes habit by practicing them over and over again. And then move to the next small change.

Let’s Do This!!!!


Want to listen to the whole podcast and get all eight steps? Here it is: Getting in Good Habits Part One, Part Two

#HappyHolidaysChallenge: The Big “O”…Overeating.

Happy Holidays

Hello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

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The Big “O”…Overeating.

“I shouldn’t have that!” “There are way too many calories in this!” “I’m going to regret this later.” There is a LOT of opportunity for negative food-related emotions during the holidays. So how do we deal with these moments and get on with enjoying the important part of the holidays: Enjoying time with family and friends?

Accept that You’re Going to Overeat During the Holidays

Last week I talked about guilt related to labeling a food as “good” or “bad”. What about guilt from an even more common occurrence: Overeating. Overeating is one of the biggest food-related concerns of the holidays. It’s basically a given that overeating, to some degree, is going to happen. So how do we eliminate overeating during the holidays? …We don’t! It’s unrealistic, and honestly, unnecessary. Overeating is part of the holiday experience, and as part of human nature, something we enjoy. What we can do, is ensure this occurs in a healthy way.

You Can Do It Challenge:  Make a truce with yourself right now that you are going to overeat and you are going to savor every bite you choose to take with awareness and gratitude.

Use Mindful Eating to Enjoy Food During the Holidays

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Mindful eating is being fully present with your food. No matter how much you have.

Here are my tips for mindful eating:

  • Use all your senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch (texture on your tongue).
  • When making your plate, ask what do I really want (not necessarily what is healthiest/you should eat).
  • Make a plate that looks appealing and looks like it will be enough to satisfy you.
  • Enjoy the food by noticing the smell and taste. Comment on what you are enjoying. Ask the chef who prepared the delicious food about anything you might be curious about – how easy or hard was this, what spice do I taste, etc?
  • Chew the food well to break it down for good digestion and to get enough time with the texture of it in your mouth.
  • Enjoy the conversation at the table and the food.
  • Be grateful for ALL the gifts in your life, including the privilege of enjoying the food with the people around you.

Some of the basic principles of intuitive eating are honoring hunger and respecting fullness. When you are paying attention, you will notice those signals your body sends that you are full or still hungry.

But what if I know I’m full, and I still REALLY want that piece of cheesecake I’ve been staring at since dinner started? Go ahead! But use this time to really enjoy that piece of cheesecake, and pay attention to what you’re feeling. The moment you take a bite and it’s not as enjoyable, put your fork down and leave the rest. See [link for mindful eating blog] for more mindful eating tips.

Eat for Yourself, And Nobody Else

Understand you always have choices. Make the ones that feel right to you. Just because Aunt Bea is waving her famous apple pie under your nose, coaxing you to have a piece, doesn’t mean you have to take it if you’re not hungry or you don’t want it right now. Get comfortable with politely saying, some version of “No, Thank you.”

Chances are, they are just trying to be a gracious host, or take care of you. But if that’s not how you feel, if you feel “pressured” to eat to make them happy, sit with that feeling and try one of my techniques.

The goal is to get the other person focused on something other than taking responsibility for your need/desire to eat (which is not their job).

Here are a few of my favorite “polite declines”

  • looks delicious… I’m not hungry now, but I’ll look for it later
  • smells so good… I need to digest a little bit and then I’ll get some
  • wow that looks great! Is it good? I’m full right now, but I’ll try it in a little bit
  • thank you so much… I’m not sure if I want ______ or _____

While this is just my opinion, I believe everyone who tries to respect their body (and fullness) at the present moment and who does not eat for “show” or to make others happy, is actually a happier person.

I promise, at the end of the day, no one is going to get offended you didn’t eat yourself sick. (And if they do, trust me, there is a reason behind it.)

Try these tips for healthfully enjoying overeating during the holidays, and make the choice to leave guilt-ridden eating behind.

Enter to Win

Psst… I’m running a contest on THIS post for healthy meal prep around holiday time. If you like cooking tools, check it out and leave a comment on the post to win.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.

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Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

#HappyHolidaysChallege : Healthy Stress-Free Cooking around Thanksgiving

Happy HolidaysHello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

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Healthy Stress-Free Cooking around Thanksgiving

Turkey sandwich. Turkey salad. Turkey casserole. Turkey loaf. Thanksgiving is in a few days, and Forest Gump’s friend Bubba is moving in for the next couple weeks as you work through your leftovers!

With Thanksgiving meal prep looming, the last thing you should have to worry about is how to have healthy food ready during the days leading up to it.

You Can Do It Challenge:  Make life easier on yourself on these days leading up to Turkey Day!

Make Your Efforts Last

One great way to minimize your prep time is to cook a large batch of food at once that can either stretch across several meals, or be used in a variety of ways.

Try this on for size. Put 3-4 chicken breasts and any desired seasoning (I love to use a barbeque rub) into your slow cooker – what’s easier than not having to cook? Add some canned tomatoes (or any of your favorite veggies). Set to medium, and let cook for 3-4 hours. Using a fork or tongs, try to pull the chicken apart. It’s ready when it shreds easily. Shred well, throw it in a Tupperware and refrigerate.

You can now use that chicken for the following:

Breakfast: Omelet. Throw about ¼ cup of the shredded chicken, a couple handfuls of spinach, and a handful of halved grape tomatoes into an oiled skillet and lightly sautee. Scramble 2 eggs and pour over sautéed ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Flip when underside is cooked, and cook until solid. Serve with a bowl of berries and a piece of whole grain toast with a bit of butter to balance your plate.

Lunch: Chicken wrap. Using a whole grain wrap, add about a ½ cup of the shredded chicken, your favorite lettuce or greens, a chopped slice of tomato, a couple tablespoons of feta cheese, and a tablespoon of hummus. Up the vegetable content by making a Southwest variety with added canned corn (you know you bought some for Thursday), a ¼ sliced avocado, sprinkle of shredded Jack cheese instead of feta, and a tablespoon of salsa instead of the hummus. Serve with a side of fruit.

Dinner: Stir fry. Slice peppers, onions, and mushrooms for sautéing. (If you’re really pressed for time, snag a frozen bag of stir-fry veggies from the store.) Heat your cooking oil and add desired amount minced garlic to flavor it. Toss veggies into a hot skillet. Once veggies are almost cooked through, add desired amount of chicken to pan and mix to heat. Salt, pepper, and more garlic (if desired) to taste. If you want to keep the Asian flavor profile, replace the salt with a few dashes of soy sauce, and add about a teaspoon of powdered ginger. Serve with a side of brown rice.

Do the Grab and Go Thing

The store can help you save time. Stock up on your favorite grab-and-go of these foods and add them to meals and snacks this week:

  • fruits
  • veggies
  • seeds and nuts
  • oatmeal
  • canned soups (I like lentil, black bean and minestrone and I add veggies and brown rice)
  • yogurt
  • canned tuna or salmon

Stop By The Freezer Section

If your freezer is full, use up what you have in there. Combine any vegetable with any protein food and any whole grain food. If you don’t have a huge stockpile to work through, consider picking up a few items at your grocer freezer section.

I have seen many more options of frozen veggies lately. It’s a food trend. (see my quote and others from RDs at FNCE)

  • frozen lightly creamed spinach – nutrition bump up: I add my own fresh spinach, kale, and already shredded carrot (whatever I have on hand)
  • frozen brown rice quinoa and kale – yes, it exists and it microwaves in only 3 minutes. I use this in soups or mix with two scrambled eggs for a super quick and easy meal
  • frozen broccoli – already prepped for you all you need to do is roast in olive oil and salt at 400 for 20 minutes or so. Roasting adds a ton of flavor

You can’t mess it up!

This is probably my favorite saying. If you like it and you know it’s easy and satisfying then it works. Sure, it’s great when it’s good-for-you too.  Use what you have on hand, do a quick pit stop. Make it easy on yourself. You don’t have to put tons of “work” into meals this week. Save that for the “Big Day” coming up.

Adjustable to feed any number of people, or just yourself, the idea here is to take the stress out of cooking so you can focus on the important parts of the holidays!

Don’t mind eating the same thing several meals in a row? Try cooking up a pot of this Quick Slow Cooker Chili. It’s loaded with protein, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. Add some canned corn, or diced peppers and onions to boost your veggie intake, and you can get your whole balanced plate in a bowl. The easier, the better.

Here’s to a fun and stress-free (Okay, LOW-stress) Thanksgiving!

Enter to Win a Prize Pack

cans get U cookingYou might have noticed that in several of my suggestions canned foods kept coming up. That’s because they are easy, convenient, and nutritious. Who doesn’t love that. You CAN win your own prize pack courtesy of Cans Get You Cooking (thanks for the donation) by leaving a comment below on your favorite time-saving food technique. While you are at it, check out their awesome recipes on Pinterest and Facebook. The prize pack includes fun cooking related items from an apron to measuring cups, utensils, and coupons for freebie canned foods. (Note: you have to be subscribed to the challenge to win. Sign ups on this page.)

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.

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Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

#HappyHolidaysChallenge: Move That Body

Happy HolidaysHello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.blog_mailSignup

Move That Body

Think about the worst possible thing you could do for your health.  What comes to mind?  For me, it’s smoking cigarettes.  Shockingly, being physically inactive is just as dangerous as smoking!  The scary impact that being sedentary can have on your health is just the first of many reasons to move that body – physical activity also improves your ability to manage stress, helps you feel happier, and increases energy.  All of those benefits are extra important during the holiday season, but physical activity often falls by the wayside in favor of crossing another item of the to-do list.

Living an active life is an important ingredient of living a healthy life, especially when you’re time-crunched.  Instead of stressing about how you can possibly squeeze in a workout, find ways to incorporate movement into your everyday routine.

You Can Do It Challenge:  Add physical activity into at least one activity each day to reap all the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of moving your body.

Add in Active Movement Anytime, Anywhere

I know it’s hard to find time for physical activity when you’re pressed for time, but you can literally make just about any activity more, well, active!  Folding laundry?  Keep the clothes basket on the floor and add in a squat (with correct form of course – click here for a how-to) between each piece of clothing.  Putting away groceries?  Lunge through the kitchen as you put each item away (once again, correct form is key – here’s your how-to).

Photo credit: violetsage.wordpress.com

Photo credit: violetsage.wordpress.com

You can get extra movement in things you are already doing.  Instead of shooting someone an email, deliver the message in person. Change your desk meeting into a walk and talk meeting to fit in work and movement at the same time.

If you’re one of those people who work through your lunch, what if you ran an errand and took your lunch break to enjoy yourself instead of slogging through that hour?  You’ll get some physical activity AND self-care, both of which will help you be more productive in the long-run.

Going through a seemingly endless inbox?  Stand on one foot while you check those emails, alternating feet with each message, to challenge your strength and balance.

Be Your Own People Mover

Use your body as a vehicle to run errands on foot. Instead of driving to the store, walk!  Think of the pros: it’s better for the environment, better for your health, and saves gas money.  If walking to the store isn’t an option, park as far from the door as possible to get an extra bit of walking in.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.  You’ll get weekly emails, along with my free guide to making over your kitchen with healthy food staples.

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Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

#HappyHolidaysChallenge: Give Yourself Permission to Eat

Happy Holidays

Hello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

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Give Yourself Permission to Eat

We want to be able to enjoy the holidays, and food is often a big part of what we look forward to. Food provides a lot of benefits, and only one of them is nourishment. It evokes positive and enjoyable memories, creates a feeling of togetherness, and can taste really good.

If you identify as a chronic dieter (or “food police”), the holidays may feel like a stressful time when you’re surrounded by a bunch of foods that you “cannot” eat, must avoid, or otherwise feel you have no self control around. White knuckling it through holiday parties to steer clear of delicious “bad food” is no way to embrace the spirit of the season – it leads to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and guilt (and likely overeating when you finally give in – ironic, isn’t it?)

Giving yourself permission to eat is a basic need and a foundation principle of intuitive eating, which is the natural way we are supposed to eat (click here for more info about intuitive eating).

Party On

There are going to be lots of fun parties with lots of food.  Don’t miss out on the good times because you’re too busy worrying and stressing  about what you can and “can’t” eat.  This season, instead of avoiding the foods you love, tell yourself that it’s okay to enjoy them. In the end, this is all about creating positive experiences with food and erasing guilt, shame, and diet-focused thinking.

Are You The “Food Police”?

Here’s a quick way to know if your food rules are out of hand: If you avoid foods for reasons other than food allergy or dislike for the taste or texture, there’s a food rule somewhere. I’m all for eating healthy and balanced, but healthy does not mean perfect and food should not be some kind of moral judgement.

Why not make some progress in this area, away from “all or nothing” thinking and toward balance.

You can do it challenge: Break Out of Food Jail

Take 5 minutes to think about 5 foods you genuinely enjoy eating that you may feel guilty about when you do. Instead of avoiding them, make a plan to eat at least one of them with family and friends this week. For example – bake cookies with your family and then share the delicious treats with your neighbors or coworkers.

What do you think happens when you give yourself permission to eat? In my experience (personal and with clients) you tend to enjoy the food sans guilt and you tend to eat it in moderation. You still get the healthy stuff you like too. Not because you have to, but because you want to.

I have never met a single person who said they got pleasure and enjoyment out of denying themselves foods they love.  By now you are more skilled at eating with awareness. If not, freshen up those skills from the previous challenge.

What are you going to do differently this year to let go of those food rules? If the thought is uncomfortable, it’s OK. Most new things require discomfort. Until they are comfortable. That’s called change.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? You’ll get weekly emails, along with the chance to win free prizes each week. All you need to do is sign up below.

blog_mailSignup

Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c